We have no Reformed public intellectual...

Recently dear Fran Griffin brought out a compilation of Joe Sobran columns celebrating his life and witness, particularly during the years he did the most popular column in National Review. Sobran had a coherent social and political philosophy--something no Reformed man I'm aware of has today--and it was unsurprising it came out of his orthodox Roman Catholicism.

If there is a wise public intellectual writing in these United States today who is Reformed, it's news to me. All those with gifts in that direction I know of are gagged by terror because their life's goal is financial peace. Have you also noticed how Reformed men never sign their first and last names to anything Biblical that's politically incorrect?

So we have decayed from Augustine and Calvin and Knox to Hart, whose specialty is providing all the cover needed by Reformed Walter Mittys who write anonymously during their evenings while spending their days the petty bourgeoisie their seminaries and elders called them to be. Who knows, maybe it's the Protestant work ethic after all? But I'm very sad at the absence of any coherent public witness by Reformed men throughout my lifetime who consider it a life worth living to speak to the sins of the age, loving their neighbors through their pens as Augustine and Calvin and Knox did.

Jesus didn't call us to private thoughts and anonymous observations... He told us all authority had been given to Him in Heaven and on earth, and on the basis of that authority He commanded us to go into all the world preaching the Gospel, making disciples of all men baptizing and teaching them to obey everything He commanded. A Gospel that says nothing against the wholesale slaughter of our unborn, that refuses to call our relatives and neighbors to repent of their barren materialism and sterile androgyny, is no Gospel at all.

Think about this, brothers: during the past quarter-century, maybe the five most eloquent pens calling our nation to repent of the slaughter of the unborn, defective newborn, feeble, and elderly--a slaughter that dwarfs the slaughters Hitler and Stalin presided over--are Bernard Nathanson, Richard John Neuhaus, Nat Hentoff, Robert George, and Joe Sobran. In order, they are a Jewish atheist who converted to Roman Catholicism, a Roman Catholic, a Jewish atheist who hasn't yet converted to Roman Catholicism, a Roman Catholic, and a Roman Catholic.

Read the New York Times and you see never stop noticing how the bloodguilt of abortion drives almost everything, especially their political ideology. They simply can't stop confessing the horror that never stops tormenting their consciences. Yet somehow, Reformed preachers and elders have come to the conclusion that expositing the Sixth Commandment by calling men to repent of this bloodshed is a political act to be avoided like the plague lest anyone think such preaching is politically motivated. Unbelievable.

We have a nation drowning in bloodguilt and Reformed preachers have come up with a slew of justifications for setting up a firewall between that bloodguilt and Gospel calls to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Meanwhile, atheist Jews and idolatrous Roman Catholics title their pieces "Sleepers Awake" and die with their pens in their hands.

At a dinner honoring him sponsored by the utterly Roman Catholic Human Life Review (to which I subscribed for many years until they joined Buckley and Neuhaus in purging Sobran), Hentoff said,

I live in Greenwich Village as did e.e. cummings. I never met him, but I knew his poetry and he certainly understood the power of birth. “We can never be born enough; we are human beings for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery; the mystery of growing. It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.”

Too many Reformed men will die never having had the courage to be who they really were. And although they will bear the greatest condemnation for their silent burial of their gifts, their seminary professors, fathers, and pastors will themselves bear a hefty share of that condemnation.

Tim Bayly

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

Comments

Used copies of Sobran's excellent "Single Issues" are still available at a reasonable price at Amazon.

AMEN and AMEN.  The RC's, despite their significant doctrinal aberrations, plainly fear the Lord and take His absolute Lordship over every sphere much more seriously than our R2K Reformed men do.  R2K, despite it's claims to the contrary, is not following the legacy of Calvin and the Reformers.  I think some men like Pastor Doug Wilson are doing a good job of speaking plainly against the sins of our age (via blog, public speaking, and public debates), but (1) he's obviously not R2K, and (2) he does not have the same degree of public following & platform as men like Bernard Nathanson, Richard John Neuhaus, Nat Hentoff, Robert George, and Joe Sobran.  May God send us some truly "Reformed" men to speak the light of truth without fear into the current dark and godless void of our age.

So true! Even among the radio and TV hosts the Roman Catholics rule the day (Ingraham, O'Reilly, Hannity, etc.). What you are describing is what Bavinck and Kuyper strove for in Holland. Although there is not a one-to-one correspondence between their time and ours, there is a great deal that we can learn from them. In his last speech as rector of the Theological Seminary in Kampen, just prior to the release of the first edition of the first volume of the Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, Bavinck addressed the subject of the Two Kingdoms and roundly and soundly critiqued both Roman Catholicism and Lutheranism. He laid out how much the Reformers and the Reformed had and have to offer, if we would but become engaged. To do that would be truly to engage the culture--in specific, concrete actions and not in some modern Christian motto, that ultimately means jazz quartets prior to the evening service, shooting pool, and drinking designer beer. That article is available under the title "Common Grace."

Perhaps you've overlooked Peter Leithart.  I think he might qualify as a Reformed public intellectual.

Dear Pastor Barach,

Reformed and intellectual, but I wouldn't say public. Professor Leithart is more an intellectual's intellectual than a public intellectual, don't you think?

In Christ,

David

Leithart doesn't have the audience of a Neuhaus or a George but he does appear with some regularity in non-Reformed publications like First Things and Touchstone.  He's probably about as close as we come. 

How about Al Mohler?

Mohler would be another good candidate except he's not reformed except in his soteriology.  Russell Moore would be another in that general camp.

I'm likely in a minority on thi, but I find Mohler too facile (not sure if that's right) in his responses for me to put him in the public intellectual category. Perhaps I mean ad hoc? The best example I can bring to mind right now is the responses I've heard from him on birth control. He does not seem to have a well thought-out response, grounded in theology, anthropology, etc. as a whole. 

I agree with you, Kamilla about Albrt Mohler's stance on birth control. He seems to want please every camp. On the one hand, he affirms life and states that we should embrace however many children God gifts, on the other he tells parents to exercise common sense in using birth control so they don't have 15 children. RC's position on birth control is much less wishy washy.

I suspect Kamilla's point wasn't that Mohler is a bad guy but that the quality of his thought isn't quite thorough enough to be qualifying him as an intellectual.

 Can anyone think of names of people in a good position to change their focus and become a Reformed public intellectual? Look for professors at the top universities, intellectual Congressmen from safe seats, Reformed pundits who speak on subjects like taxation but not social issues; preferably in Boston, New York, or Washington.  Maybe somebody could be encouraged by a personal appeal. 

 Prof. William Stuntz at Harvard Law was starting in this direction till he died a few years ago at age 50 or so. 

Catholic pro-lifers have done good work, but the only reason they're in the public forefront is because big-money conservative donors have an interest in funding attempts to keep Catholics voting Red. There, I just explained the only reason why National Review still exists, if not the only reason why it ever existed. Reformed people are a) a smaller group and b) not a swing constituency, so the fiends who run opinion journalism in this country feel no need to cater to them.

I agree that we all need to be more faithful, but public intellectualism is a scam.

Dear All,

I am struggling with Steve's statement that Roman Catholics fear the Lord and take His absolute sovereignty more seriously...No person or church that perverts the true gospel to the degree that Rome has can fear God. How careful we must be not to elevate even this precious matter of human life over the purity of the gospel. I agree with Tim that the true gospel will move us to action as it comes to life and that our silence and inaction as Reformed Protestants is sin. But action as it comes to life and rejection of the truth of God's salvation is even more sinful. 

As a former Catholic I fear that many Protestants because of their guilty conscience over their cowardice as it comes to abortion make the mistake of thinking Rome's courage on life their redemption for their error regarding salvation. I know Steve did not say this but it is very close. Steve, when you call Rome's errors "significant doctrinal aberrations" how significant do you mean? Rome's errors have shut the door of heaven in the faces of millions of people through the centuries and all the concern about abortion in the world cannot atone for it.

If Protestants should be brave and pay every price as it comes to abortion, how much more so over a perverted gospel? For all our talk of opposing Catholicism, I don't believe any of us have been as zealous and courageous against it as Luther, Calvin, Knox and the other Reformers were. Let our zeal for the unborn burn and our zeal against Rome's false gospel burn also. If men's earthly existence is worth fighting for, how much more their souls?

I would ask us to consider also the reality that for many Catholics, the issue of abortion can be a part of works righteousness. I actually fear that for many it is so. I will not say this of all but would ask us to think discerningly about these things. A morality that does not flow from righteousness that is received entirely by grace is works righteousness and is filthy rags. How can a man account for his hatred of abortion without ascribing the glory of that hatred to righteousness that is granted as a gift for which God alone can receive the glory? What do we say of a man who will not believe that Christ's atoning work justifies him entirely, right now and everlastingly and yet speaks of hating abortion? He must think at some level that this righteous hatred of abortion comes from himself.

None of this excuses us Protestants and I am not trying to skirt the issue for us but let's not view one sin as more noble than another especially when in this case, the sin of Rome is worse.

I misquoted Steve as saying "absolute sovereignty" when he actually said, "absolute Lordship".

The meta-battle is no longer sola fide. It's the culture of death fallout from the sexual revolution.

Meanwhile, Reformed pastors insist on running 16th c. software. Thus, they've been habitually late to the party: Griswold v. Connecticut - 1965 and Roe v. Wade – 1973. Like for Windsor v. U.S. – 2013?

What WCF passage would energize a Reformed intellectual to lose sleep denouncing the Pill, etc?

Even men like R.L. Dabney and Charles Hodge recognized that Rome had the gospel.  It was just that they covered it with layers of heresy and error.

Dear David,

Can we ponder your statement a moment..."It was just that they have covered it with layers of heresy and error". Let's let that sink in for a moment. How many layers did the Apostles tolerate? Would Paul have said that the Judaizers who were leading members of the church in Galatia astray had the gospel but had just added some layers of heresy and error? Was it likely that these Judaizers held gospel positions on moral/social issues? Quite likely. What do we find Paul saying about the Judaizers? Does he not call them the false circumcision, mutilators of the flesh and did he not wish that they had emasculated themselves? Above all, did he not pronounce an anathema on anyone who brought another gospel?

Galatians 1:6-9 "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!" 

Is Rome's gospel the gospel that Paul preached? Is it?

The call in Tim's post is for Reformed men to be courageous, now let's be courageous. Let us be willing to say that what Rome is doing is the same thing the Judaizers did only they have replaced circumcision with baptism. It is a contrary gospel that ultimately denies Justification on the merits of Christ's work alone. Will the Church of Rome allow its followers to declare that they are saved with certainty? Just as the Judaizers unsettled true faith by saying men needed circumcision to be saved, so Rome tells men that without baptism they cannot be saved. One is Sacramentalism as much as the other.

Alan, the battle is and will always be "Sola Fide" and to think that it has become something else is a deception of the devil and a diversionary tactic on his part. I am not saying that abortion is not a battle to be fought but it is not "the battle".

As to Hodge and Warfield, this is a good time for us to remember that we Protestants don't have popes. The fact that they thought Rome has the gospel does not make it so and hiding behind their thoughts and names will not excuse us. We could list Reformers who believed the pope to be either "the" or "an" anti-Christ, so referring back to others will not ultimately help us. You and I must answer for truth and light that God has shown us.

Do we think think that despite these layers of error and heresy that people who go to Mass this week are hearing gospel truth that will lead them to heaven? Can we honestly say that it is not enough heresy to harm and perhaps damn them? How much more error or heresy would we need to see that would lead us to stand out in front of Catholic parishes as we rightly do in front of abortion clinics and call men not to enter for the harm that it will do to their souls? Now, that would take courage! Reformed men are not just sinning in the matter of urgency regarding human life but even more so, we are sinning in our failure as it comes to eternal life. 

I will grant that there have been many Roman Catholics who have been courageous and consistent in their views and calls for application of the teaching within their church. But let us also remember that many, many times the Church of Rome has placed the Eucharist on the tongues of high profile politicians from within her walls who support abortion and sodomy. We saw this happen during Pope Benedict's visit here early in his papacy. If there is such courage in Rome how has Nancy Pelosi remained in the church? Did you see Ted Kennedy's funeral? Good grief.

Courage as we all know goes beyond words written and spoken. The simple truth is that Rome talks much against abortion but does very little as far as disciplinary action especially with its high profile, wealthy members. I cannot come along with my Reformed brothers who seem to think Rome's gospel is not quite that dangerous and that their position on abortion is really the important thing. I don't believe it and I am concerned for many Reformed folk who seem to think so.

If we believe Rome's gospel is not that heretical and gets men to heaven then let's keep our mouths shut and apologize for all the stir the Reformation caused. But if it is that  heretical, then perhaps we should be standing in front of Catholic churches warning people of the harm they are bringing to their souls by entering in. And no, I have not done so myself and I don't have the courage to do so. God help me.

The call to us is courage, could it be that we are missing the area above all where courage is needed and required of us?

Love in Christ,

Gary Knapp

We don't have popes but we don't interpret the Scriptures as autonomous individuals either.

If you can point me to where I called for layers of heresy to be tolerated I'll be obliged.  How am I tolerating Rome?  Simply by speaking the truth? 

Will the Church of Rome allow its followers to declare that they are saved with certainty?

We should exercise care.  God's promises are a certainty.  Our perceptions are not. 

Mat 7:21-23
(21)  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
(22)  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
(23)  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Some will be certain who ought not to be. 

Just as the Judaizers unsettled true faith by saying men needed circumcision to be saved, so Rome tells men that without baptism they cannot be saved.

Can you say what Westminster says, inferring the ordinary annexation of grace and salvation unto baptism?  As Westminster says "... grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto [baptism] ..." and Westminster is right.  God is sovereign, will save whom He wills, and is not limited by the ordinary means of grace.  But they are called ordinary because they are what He ordinarily uses, not because they are of no great wonder.

V. Although it be a great sin to contemn or neglect this ordinance, yet grace and salvation are not so inseparably annexed unto it as that no person can be regenerated or saved without it, or that all that are baptized are undoubtedly regenerated.

II. The visible Church, which is also catholic or universal under the Gospel (not confined to one nation, as before under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.

We ought not place ourselves outside the historic Reformed faith for whatever reason.  And we ought to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, not because we are saved by our works but because the God breathed scriptures say so.  Westminster rightly teaches that the Christian may know assurance but we must respect what the Scriptures say and be circumspect in our approach to assurance that no one may have a false certainty before judgment.

FIFTEEN PROMISES OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
TO CHRISTIANS WHO FAITHFULLY PRAY THE ROSARY

  1. To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
  2. Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary will receive some special grace.
  3. The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.
  4. The rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish.
  6. Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
  7. Those truly devoted to my Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite my Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.
  9. I will deliver promptly from purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.
  10. True children of my Rosary will enjoy great glory in heaven.
  11. What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
  12. To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.
  14. Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.

Nominal Roman Catholics don't bother with the rosary. It's the devout ones who do that worry me. This sure looks like a different religion to me.

(The above list is from the official Rosary Center pages. The Rosary Confraternity is run by the Dominican Order of the Roman Catholic Church.)

Dear David, Thank you for your thoughtful response. I am grateful for brotherly discourse and though we do not know each other, I know we both write in God's love for one another. 

I am not sure that your response as accurate as it was addressed the concerns I expressed. The issue is not whether or not Rome's errors should be tolerated but to what degree they should be opposed. My main point is that if the evil of abortion which harms human bodies is so evident that courageous action is demanded of us, should not the evil of an impure gospel be as obvious to us and is not an even greater courage required of us in opposition to it? And if we are going to list the sins we need to repent of as Reformed men should we not include our lack of zeal against a false gospel? Should that sin not be seen as an even greater sin than our failure in regard to abortion? I maintain that it should.

Whether intended or not, when we speak of having the gospel only with layers of error and heresy and at the same time commend Rome for her stance on life we end up leaving many feeling safe within her walls. When I say safe I don't mean that we raise no concern but it has not been the same level of concern that we are advocating to demonstrate against abortion is it?

I am sure my former Catholicism drives my vehemence but I do not believe the errors and heresies of Rome permit her a place within the visible Church. If errant views on Justification cannot exclude you, I don't know what can. That she has been allowed such a place is proof of just how great a masterpiece of the devil she is. His crowning work to my mind. Do I believe that some of God's true people are members of the Catholic Church? I do. But they are God's people in spite of what they have been taught not because of it and in that sense, they are not Roman Catholic but are like Lot living in Sodom. If you think this extreme, remember Luther's words that if there be a hell, Rome is built over it.

This battle with Catholicism has raged so long perhaps our zeal against heresy has cooled and we feel we need to move on to the other battles of moral issues (which again, these battles I do not deny our obligation to). But I maintain that zeal for life while rejecting gospel righteousness is not something we should commend but expose. 

In short, with Catholicism we have a church that boasts of her concern for human life while she at the same time does great harm to human souls. There is nothing more to say about this, it is evil and a greater sin than our failure within the Reformed world in regard to abortion. Perhaps that will not find acceptance amongst the readers here but again I fear our guilty consciences in one area may have obscured our perception of another. 

I would again question the courage of Catholicism who when rubber hits road, does not act on its teaching about life with its members. Especially its prominent, powerful, wealthy members. 

For those who may be concerned by what I am saying, I want to affirm Tim's post as he states that those who profess to possess the pure gospel should demonstrate the power of its truth in our teaching and actions against moral evil. It is just that I cannot abide commending Catholicism for its position on human life when its doctrine damns men's souls. 

So, for clarification brother how do you view Rome's gospel in light of Paul's statements in Galatians 1:6-9? Is it Paul's gospel or another? This is the whole matter and an examination of our sins should include above all, our response to a false gospel.

Dear Gary,

Thank you for your faithful witness. I imagine there are many reading who, like me, are rebuked and spurred on to faithfulness by what you have written.

With deep affection,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. I am grateful for brotherly discourse and though we do not know each other, I know we both write in God's love for one another.

Thank you as well.

My main point is that if the evil of abortion which harms human bodies is so evident that courageous action is demanded of us, should not the evil of an impure gospel be as obvious to us and is not an even greater courage required of us in opposition to it?

I would say steadfastness rather than courage but sin should be opposed whether it manifests itself in that which kills the body or the soul.  Of course I think we are united in opposing both abortion and at least certain heresies, particularly the Roman ones.

And if we are going to list the sins we need to repent of as Reformed men should we not include our lack of zeal against a false gospel? Should that sin not be seen as an even greater sin than our failure in regard to abortion? I maintain that it should.

I wonder which destroys more souls in America, Roman heresy or the therapeutic deism, antinomianism, decisionism and historically weird premillenial dispensationalism?  I don't know.  Perhaps real courage, or steadfastness if you like, needs to be directed at both.  I know the Baylys have had a number of acquaintances go to Rome but I've never personally known a Reformed Christian who has gone to Rome or even play footsie with its heresies.  But I surely see a lot of tolerance for the other.  I just witnessed the burial of someone who was convinced they were going to heaven, obsessed about prophecy conferences and signs of the rapture and had done immensely wicked things without any visible sign over decades of anything resembling repentance.  Everyone said they guaranteed this person was in heaven.  I don't know the hidden counsel of God but I would not be so confident.  I see far more willing to fight Rome than to fight that sort of thing which, on the ground, is a much bigger problem for Protestants.  Much of what we find there is a false gospel just as much of what we find in Rome is false.  But it is couched in Protestant words so we feel more comfortable with it.

Whether intended or not, when we speak of having the gospel only with layers of error and heresy and at the same time commend Rome for her stance on life we end up leaving many feeling safe within her walls.

We should tell the truth whether it gives false comfort to the deluded or not.  Arguing that I'm wrong is fine but giving me a utilitarian argument whether I'm wrong or not won't budge me an inch.

In short, with Catholicism we have a church that boasts of her concern for human life while she at the same time does great harm to human souls. There is nothing more to say about this, it is evil and a greater sin than our failure within the Reformed world in regard to abortion.

I have no problem with that however I'm prone to be harder on the Reformed because they have a formal commitment to the truth which Rome does not and consequently their failure is arguably more culpable.  To whom much is given...

I would again question the courage of Catholicism who when rubber hits road, does not act on its teaching about life with its members. Especially its prominent, powerful, wealthy members.

Works for me.

So, for clarification brother how do you view Rome's gospel in light of Paul's statements in Galatians 1:6-9? Is it Paul's gospel or another?

The full teaching of Rome does promote a false gospel.  As does all synergistic teaching, Roman or Protestant.

And yes, I am chastised by Pastor Bayly's comment but not probably to his satisfaction.

Thank you for your patience with this exchange.

Dear David,

Your point is well taken about the other areas of errant teaching and the damage they have done. It may be that we have gone lighter on Protestant errors because in the main, they seem closer to truth than the more obvious errors of Rome. When in truth, this may make them even more insidious. I know it is easy to pick on him, but Joel Osteen comes to mind. It is a marvel to me that many people I know love T.D. Jakes and do not even know what Modalism is yet alone be concerned about it. Tim Keller and the 2K group hit even closer to home.

I am so grateful for Tim and David and the work they are doing in regard to our Protestant disobedience as it touches gender. Our sins in this realm are great and we do not think so and are even telling ourselves we are promoting obedience. We are about to launch in some significant ways both in teaching and practice regarding gender at our P.C.A church in Delaware and I am anticipating the smell of sulfur as we do. We are so convinced that we love truth and possess it and then the sword of God touches our own throats and our response is rebellion. 

"To whom much is given..." exactly right.

There has been no patience required for our correspondence, it has been a joy. Brothers jousting with brothers for God's glory and in love is a beautiful thing, better than the love of a woman...Well, can I think on that a little?

Love, 

Gary

Dear Tim, Thank you brother. I am so grateful for the work you and David are doing for God's truth especially in the area of gender. While already under way, the battle in this area is going to heighten to amazing levels and you both have been helping us prepare.

As we are examining ourselves here through BaylyBlog, someday I hope we can look at the area of our motives in God's work. I am often startled when I see the degree to which self-promotion and pride are at work in what I do and write. When that is all stripped away, I wonder sometimes what is left if anything. 

Perhaps we can all be of help to one another not only in teaching and fighting for truth but also in growing in our desire to do so for God's glory alone. How grateful we should all be to God for His patience in bearing with us as His children and servants! 

Much Love,

Gary

Gary, I appreciate your concerns to protect the gospel.  Please do not let the criticisms of 2k keep you from understanding that 2kers do actually place a priority on the gospel over social wickedness.  That you need to explain the errors of Rome to folks deeply and admirably opposed to abortion in an indication of why 2k doesn't emphasize points the way its critics assume it should.  

That you need to explain the errors of Rome to folks

I would say that need is perhaps overrated.

When we say "Roman Catholics" in this context, we have to remember that we really mean "some Roman Catholics". I suppose there are even more Roman Catholics who are anti-Christian public intellectuals. I don't know about the Papacy, and whether it encourages people like Robert George or tries to discourage them.  (Read Lawless's The Faithful Departed for an account of how some bishops have done their best to discourage opposition to abortion.) 

   The interesting thing is how there appears to be zero Reformed public intellectuals and media figures and quite a few Roman Catholic ones, even tho there are probably more devout Reformed people, and certainly better taught ones. Maybe it's that the pastorate is denied to Catholic warriors for Christ who don't want to remain celibate. I was going to  it's due to a tradition in America of Catholics being a despised minority  that has had an attitude of "We're  fighting for traditional American ideals even though we're different, and, look, we're educated too."  Buckley's erudition always looked to me like an effort (legitimate) to show he wasn't a bogtrotting  Paddie. 

  

   Here's a way pastors can help with this problem: exhort and encourage your members to be local public intellectuals.  Start with letters to the editor in the local newspaper and comments on locally oriented blogs (or state politics ones). Go on to speeches at city council hearings and op-eds in local papers.  At Clearnote-Bloomington, Scott Tibbs is a great role model for this.   Probably 10% of Americans have the talent for this kind of thing, which is a lot. (Only the top .1% have the talent to be Princeton professors or magazine founders.)  Most of them don't even think of it, or have the energy, and most of them wouldn't have the guts to do it. Pastors can help with that. 

I doubt there are more devout Reformed people.  As a percentage of church membership?  Absolutely.  But there are so many Roman Catholics compared to confessional Reformed that if only 1% of RCs are devout they'd outnumber 100% of NAPARC members. 

I can and do "tip my hat" to various Roman Catholic writers, and I think many of them are genuinely saved! But that doesn't mean, at all, that I agree with the Roman system.

That's a paradox, I know, but I've separately come to the view that the Roman Catholic church is like China: it is so big that whatever you say about it will be true at least some of the time. A matter for another post, perhaps.

Does it surprise anyone that there are bad Bishops?

Does it surprise anyone that there are bad Presbyterian/Reformed pastors? 

I hope everyone answers both questions With "No".

Anyone who thinks "the papacy" discourages men like Robert George likely hasn't read a single church document of the last fifty years. Humanae Vitae? Evangelium Vitae? Donum Vitae? Fides et Ratio? Veritatis Splendor?

Can anyone name single Reformed essay, book, sermon that was half as prophetic about the consequences of the birth control mentality as HV?

If there is a wise public intellectual writing in these United States today who is Reformed, it's news to me.

Tim, being a public intellectual would mean being famous, right? Else where, though (for instance, here) you've written of the badness of pastors who seek after fame. I don't think you're arguing against yourself, so I think there is a connection I'm missing. If we need public intellectuals surely we need pastors to be among them, so it must not be a work that is inappropriate for pastors. Is it a matter of fame for self-promotion vs. fame for contending for the truth?

Love,

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