R2K is segregationist...

It's a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they did not keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and to the Temple and to their authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

Why "R2K" instead of "2K"?

First, a word about names. Why do I make it a habit to refer to this modern novelty as “R2K,” the initial 'R' standing for "Radical" or "Revisionist" two kingdom theology, rather than simply “2K” standing for "Two Kingdom"?

In the Reformed and Protestant world, fathers of the Church have long referred to “two-kingdom” distinctions they have employed as necessary to delineate the proper spheres of authority of state and church; of city councilmen on the one hand and deacons, pastors, and elders on the other hand. These two kingdoms or spheres of authority Martin Luther variously referred to as the Kingdoms of this World and the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdoms of God’s Left Hand and the Kingdom of God’s Right Hand. So in that sense we could say that, insofar as the modern Escondido Theology or R2K men are speaking about the distinctions between the state and Church, and therefore the distinction between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God, they are joining a large and long conversation dear to the heart of each one of us pastors, elders, and believers living in this world while not of it.

In his helpful article, “One Kingdom or Two?”, Cornelius Venema writes:

…the two kingdoms [R2K] doctrine is alleged to be the venerable, original position of the Reformed churches. …(This) historical claim on the part of two kingdoms [R2K] advocates… represents a tendentious reading of the historical record.

- in "One Kingdom or Two? An Evaluation of the 'Two Kingdoms' Doctrine as an Alternative to Neo-Calvinism," by Cornelis Venema. Mid-America Journal of Theology 23 (2012): 77-129.

In Protestantism, both Presbyterian/Reformed and Lutheran, we now have five centuries of discussion and debate of this distinction and how best to work it out. No one has arrived at a solution to the tension and conflict that have always prevailed between the two kingdoms and it was this same conflict that led to this exchange between Pilate and Jesus Christ...{C}

Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?”

Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?”

Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

- John 18:33-37

This conflict again comes to the fore when Pilate asks the Jews whether they really do want to crucify their king Jesus. The “Jews” cry out one thing, but note carefully that it is the chief priests who add another thing:

Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And (Pilate) said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”

So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!”

Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

- John 19:14, 15

R2K men think they alone are capable of keeping the peace

The chief priests denounced the kingship of our Lord, instead claiming their only sovereign to be Caesar. Despite this, in his instructions for Jesus’ crucifixion Pilate ordered a sign to be placed over the Cross reading in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek:

“Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.”

The chief priests of the Jews were not at all pleased with what Pilate had written, especially given its high visibility. All the Jews passing by could read it in their own language, so they demanded Pilate take it down. Pilate refused:

Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek.

So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.’”

Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

- John 19:19-22

Now, think about this: Pilate named Jesus the "King of the Jews," but the chief priests of the Jews were adamant they had no king but Caesar. We must ask the question, if Pilate was OK with it—indeed, ordered it—why were the chief priests so opposed to it? Let me put the question another way: why were the chief priests so vehement that their people and nation had no king but Caesar?

Certainly part of the reason was their desire to keep Jesus from any commendation or honor. But the man was being crucified! Is that not enough ignominy? Shame?

Yet there it is: the chief priests (which is to say the Jewish religious leaders, which is to say the PCA or OP or CREC pastors and elders, the presbytery) call out “We have no king but Caesar!”

It’s a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they didn’t keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and the Temple; also to their own authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

R2K keeps the peace by gagging the prophets

And so they honor the dead prophets and gag (or, if they must) kill the living ones.

(Jesus said) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

"You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’”

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

- Matthew 23:29-24:2

Who kills the prophets?

Elders, scribes, seminary professors, Pharisees, presbyters—we are always the ones who kill the prophets.

So who are the prophets today—tell me that, would you please? Who are the prophets of our own time? Who are the dead prophets who are being honored today? Who is doing the honoring of the dead prophets, today, and which prophets are they honoring?

Then again, who are the living prophets being stoned and murdered “between the temple and the altar?”

Brothers, we must see this very old cry “We have no king but Caesar!” being repeated endlessly today by the religious leaders of our time who talk incessantly of separation of church and state; who are so zealous to remind God’s prophets that we live in a secularist society and that God’s Word is not to be cited or read or brought to bear in the public square; who drone on about the necessity of strictly limiting our Christian voice (individual Christians only, of course) in the public square to natural law or general revelation; brothers, we must see all this R2K talk as the same old gagging and silencing and killing, if need be, of God’s servants the prophets, preachers of righteousness, that has always been carried out by establishment religious leaders. Those who own the seminaries and denominational headquarters and are the favorites of all the book publishers and sit in Moses’ seat declaring the boundaries of Christian witness and the church’s witness are always the ones for peace at any cost.

How do the true servants of God, the true preachers of the Gospel, handle themselves in the public square? Are they silent? Do they observe a fastidious segregation of God and King, of general and special revelation? How are they treated? Do they live in peace or do they suffer?

We do remember the Apostle Paul in Ephesus, don’t we? The Apostle Paul in Athens with the Areopagus, don’t we? The Deacon Stephen being stoned to death by the moderator of the General Assembly meeting in Jerusalem that year; and all the pastors and elders who joined him, and the young seminary students who held their cloaks and then went out to synagogues around the Roman Empire bound and determined to gag or (if they must) stone the prophets.

It is this same conflict between the two kingdoms that is addressed directly by our Lord when He gives His Great Commission:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit..."

- Matthew 28:18, 19 

R2K and John Calvin

And, most famously, the tension between the two kingdoms comes to the fore in the account in the book of Acts, as the Church in Jerusalem was commanded not to preach the Name of Jesus, and the believers responded:

Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought....

Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned). When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them.

- Acts 5:21b, 26-33

"We must obey God rather than man."

Commenting on a similar confrontation recorded in Acts 4:19 ff., Calvin points out how interwoven the authority of the Kingdom of God, the Church, is with the authority of the Kingdoms of this world; and that when the Apostles' appealed to God's higher authority, their response applied (and applies) to both kingdoms:

Whatever title then men may hold, they are to be listened to only on the condition that they do not lead us away from obeying God. So we must examine all their traditions by the rule of the Word of God.

We must obey princes and others who are in authority, but only in so far as they do not deny to God His rightful authority as the supreme King, Father, and Lord. If such limits are to be observed in civil government, they ought to be of still greater importance in the spiritual government of the Church. ...whenever men (or women) become so proud that they shake off the yoke of God and desire to lay their own yoke upon us. ...let us recall the sacred authority of God, which blows away the vain smoke of all human excellency.

- John Calvin in his Commentary on Acts  4:19,20, pp. 119-121

R2K is segregationist to its core

There was a joke popular back in the sixties and seventies when I was a youth: “Did you know George Wallace refuses to have a colored television set?” If the person you were telling the joke didn’t get it, you would add: “His television is black and white.”

You see, George Wallace was the Governor of Alabama when the feds came to the University of Alabama to integrate it. Wallace took his oath of office on January 14, 1963, as he stood on the gold star marking the spot where, 102 years before, Jefferson Davis had been sworn in as provisional president of the Confederate States of America. And that day in his inaugural speech, Wallace said:

In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.

George Wallace was a committed segregationist, thus his television set was black and white.

This is helpful for our understanding of R2K polemics. R2K is a popular movement that, concerning the interface of church and state, the interface between the people of God and the world, is radically segregationist. It is opposed to integration. It's dualistic to its core. Believers are to live one way in the Church and another way in the world.

Now, you may think my purpose in attaching the segregation label to R2K is race-baiting. It’s not. Growing up in a family committed to Christian education whose father was an author and editor, the integration of faith and learning, faith and life, was the bread and butter of my schooling and education, both at the Christian schools I attended and at home under the instruction and family life my father and mother cultivated. Integration of faith and knowledge, faith and learning, faith and life was the goal of our Christian education, and at home this verse was foundational to our family life:

Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

- 1Corinthians 10:31

There was not a square inch of our lives that Dad or Mother taught us was under common grace, alone, and therefore not subject to Jesus Christ and His law of love. We were raised to be incapable of thinking in such a way—it was verboten.

Standing for integration among Evangelicals of the 1940s and 1950s

Let me illustrate the radical nature of Dad and Mud’s (our pet name for Mother) Christian commitment to the complete integration of faith and life.

Dad and Mud moved to Philadelphia and there was no good Christian school for their children to attend, so they joined with a few other couples and started one called Delaware County Christian School. In the late forties as the first staff workers covering New England (yes, all of it), Dad and Mud had already stood firm for the integration of IVCF. So now about ten years later as they worked to found and establish the admission policies of this new Christian school, Dad and Mud stood firm for its integration, also. Thus a negro family applied and negro children were admitted to, and attended, Delaware County Christian School back in the 1950s.

Keep in mind that back in the fifties there was no civil rights movement. Segregation was the rule, both in the south and the north—and certainly in Evangelical churches and parachurch ministries. But Dad and Mud believed in integration—that the law of love and the witness of God’s Word should inspire and guide and rule the lives and witness of His people, in education as well as in the Church.

So Dad and Mud took a stand right at the founding of the Delaware County Christian School, and because of their stand, DELCO was integrated. They believed education should be integrated with faith, and specifically the Christian faith. Which is to say they believed in Christian education. (As did Richard Baxter, John Calvin, and John Henry Newman; see his The Idea of a University.)

But R2K rejects the integration of education and faith, specifically the integration of education and the Christian faith. This past year, the Orthodox Presbyterian’s magazine, “The Ordained Servant,” ran an article titled “Is There Such a Thing as Christian Education?”, and in that article was this declaration opposing integration of faith and knowledge by an OPC ruling elder in Michigan named David Noes who teaches Classics at Calvin College:

…the fact that I am a Christian would make no observable difference in either process or result when it comes to educating students in Plato.

In short, it seems there may be no such thing as Christian education after all …and that grand adjective (Christian) which indicates a special closeness with the divine Son of God ought, perhaps, to be confined within a much closer compass: to persons whom Christ has saved, the worship such persons offer, and the study and promulgation of the divine Word on which that worship is based.

R2K's dualism

You see, the R2K segregationists set up a firewall between the work of the church and the work of education. Except perhaps in Biblical studies and theology, the Scriptures have no authority and no place. Education is strictly segregationist.

In the home and church, God’s Word applies. Everywhere else, not.

This dualism erecting firewalls everywhere and keeping everything strictly segregated is opened up a little by Brad Littlejohn at the blog, Political Theology Today. Littlejohn wrote a five-part series on the Escondido R2K theology titled, “The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed,” in which he summarized this movement as follows:

…the R2K movement has argued for an extensive set of neatly-correlated dualisms: spiritual kingdom vs. civil (or “temporal” or “common”) kingdom, church vs. state, redemption vs. creation, eternal vs. temporal, Jesus Christ vs. Creator God, Scripture vs. natural law. The institutional church is Christ’s spiritual kingdom, in which alone the work of redemption is being carried out for eternal salvation, under the headship of Jesus Christ, who rules this kingdom by Scripture alone. The rest of life, on the other hand (and preeminently the state) is an expression of God’s civil kingdom, in which there is no distinction between believer and unbeliever; this sphere serves merely for the temporary preservation of the creation order, under the government of God as Creator, and normed by the prescriptions of natural law, rather than Scripture.

[Littlejohn lists a few concerns of those who oppose R2K] …the suggestion that the Christian’s salvation and re-oriented life does not manifest itself in all his vocations, the questionable Christology and Trinitarian theology in the dualism between Christ the Redeemer and God the Creator, …and the curious view of natural law and Scripture as mutually exclusive, rather than mutually interpreting.

To be sure, it’s never easy knowing where one sphere of authority ends and another begins. When should you treat as a holy secret what is confessed to you during your pastoral care and when should you take the confessor to the police? When should you submit to local zoning laws despite their being in direct contradiction to long-established precedent on the state level, that churches are guaranteed freedom to meet and build anywhere, regardless of local zoning laws? When should you turn in a family of your church for endangering their children’s lives and who should make the decision—you or your session? What should you do to stop the slaughter of the unborn? Should it include civil disobedience; and if so, should civil disobedience be led by church officers? Should a pastor oppose sodomy or sodomite unions on the web or in the newspaper? And if so, should he sign his prophecies “Rev.," “Pastor,” or simply “Mr. Tim Bayly?”

These decisions are never easy, but surely Jesus’ statement must remain firmly in mind as we deliberate what would honor Him:

(Jesus said) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.

"Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

"Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

- Matthew 23:29-36

When I was a teenager back in the midst of the protests against the Vietnam War, back when Merle Haggard was singing Okie from Muskogee, there was a cri de coeur popular among the simple people: “My country, right or wrong!”

None of those opposing the Radical or Revisionist Two-Kingdom view want the Church to return to the days when to be a Christian and to be patriotic is the same thing. And for myself, may I say that this has never been my own commitment, nor the commitment of my father and mother before me. Back in the sixties and seventies when every Evangelical and Dispensationalist was pushing for a return of prayers in public schools, my father was writing against it, saying he opposed civic religion and wouldn't want his own children led in prayer by a public school teacher. He went very much against the grain of the Evangelical world in this, as he had in standing for racial integration.

But can we please fight the battles of today rather than making a big show of fighting the battles of yesterday? Today, the danger we face in the Biblical reformed church is not civic religion of the Baptist/Bob Jones University/Moral Majority/Silent Majority/Apple Pie/Motherhood/Christian Coalition variety.

The danger we face in this time is a national God named Molech who has devoured the lives of fifty million of the little babies of our nation—so far. And inexorably, the slaughter continues, now being well over two billion, worldwide. The national Gods falsely calling themselves "diversity" and "equality" which have abandoned the souls of sodomites to their terrible bondage, removing all testimony and instruction of the law from them.

The danger of our own time is a tsunami of abuse, incest, and child-rape in our own nation. (From our experience in a university community, my wife and I put the figure at over forty percent of the population who have now been abused as children.) Meanwhile, in much of Europe, the age of consent has been lowered to thirteen years of age.

The danger of our time is that the New Mexico Supreme Court has found a photographer who declined to take a same-sex couple as her clients to be in violation of the state’s human rights law. Their jurisimprudence declared the photographer to be providing a “public accommodation,” and therefore she had no civil right—no religious right—to decline to provide bed, bath, and board (err, actually, sweet pictures well-framed with just the right exposure and lighting and backdrop) for a same-sex marriage.

You understand?

R2K men are the flag-waving, patriots of our time

We must keep our eye on the ball, here.

Who is the Reformed group who is whole-hog into patriotism today? Which men are wrapping themselves in the flag, crying out "my country, right or wrong?" Who are the Reformed men who are zealous to gag God's prophets of righteousness, instead casting their lot in with the ACLU, the powers that be inside the Beltway, and the chattering classes up and down the seaboards, Eastern and Western as they all join together, chanting: "Separation of church and state! Separation of church and state!"

Do I need to point out that it's not those churches and pastors and sessions and general assemblies speaking out against sodomite marriage who are wrapping themselves in the American flag and saying the Pledge of Allegiance in our time?

It’s the R2K scribes who are doing so. They are the ones promoting America’s civic religion of separation of church and state. They are the ones lauding our secularist society and the autonomy of our lawless courts and judges and justices and presidents and representatives and senators by giving them a pass from the law of God founded in the character of God revealed in the book of God.

Those who have hope in America today, in the civil magistrate and the secularist society and the separation of church and state, are the R2K men—not the prophets of righteousness and the preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

R2K men clutch, grab, and back up

Although the principle thing R2K men are known for is trying to silence the Christian conscience and the voice of God’s people and the authority of Scripture in the public square, they tell us that one benefit of their zeal for the naked public square and their much-vaunted separation of church and state is that it will lead to a reciprocal response from the civil magistrate who will, himself, see the firewalls put up by Christian theologians keeping their subordinates from bringing their religion and their religion’s God and Holy Book into the public square; and from gratitude, those civil magistrate watching the R2K men gag God's prophets will honor the truce by keeping their own subordinates from bringing their own civic religion of Molech and Secularism into the Christian home and church.

So how’s that working out for you, Escondido men? Comfortable with the truce? Think it’s good to go? Ready to go to bed and sleep well with sweet dreams?

Here’s an excerpt from an article by David Remnick titled, “Cornerman: Teddy Atlas teaches men to fight":

 All good cornermen think of themselves as masters of the psyche. They are Freudians. Atlas is just more so. He is convinced that boxing is, in large measure, psychological, that the loser is the fighter who lies to himself, who finds ways to rationalize his passivity and makes a “silent contract” with his opponent: I won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me. They clutch and grab and back up, and while they may think they’re being clever they are really signing the contract.

-The New Yorker, 28 August 2000

You see? The elaborate truce demanded by the Escondido R2K men is not worth the infinite paper and ink and bandwidth it’s published by. The civil magistrate is not impressed by Neville Chamberlain’s Uriah Heapish obsequiousness and fawning and waving of the white flag.

Rather, he smells weakness and goes in for the kill.

R2K's firewalls provide the Church no protection

Take Calvin’s Geneva, for instance: when Calvin and his fellow Reformers demonstrated great respect for the civil magistrate’s authority and unique sphere of responsibility, did those same civil magistrates leave the Christian church alone?

Here's a summary of one of the conflicts between Calvin and the Geneva civil magistrates or town councilmen:

In 1553 Berthelier, a Libertine who had been excommunicated by the Consistory of Geneva for his open immorality, requested and was granted readmission to the Lord’s Supper from the town’s Little Council. Geneva’s Ecclesiastical Ordinances of 1541 made clear this authority rested with the consistory but the Libertines were agitating against the Reformers and wanted that right to rest in the town’s councils.

Of his meeting with that council Calvin wrote, “I …took an oath that I had resolved rather to meet death than profane so shamefully the Holy Supper of the Lord…. My ministry is abandoned if I suffer the authority of the Consistory to be trampled upon, and extend the Supper of Christ to open scoffers. …I should rather die a hundred times than subject Christ to such foul mockery.”

Beza, Calvin’s first biographer, summed up the protest, “Therefore Calvin, in name of the Presbytery, made strenuous and unremitting opposition, showing that magistrates ought to be the vindicators, not the destroyers, of sacred laws. In short, he omitted nothing which a contest of so much moment demanded.”

When it went to a vote Calvin lost but the Council thought it wise to warn Berthelier, for the sake of the peace of the city, not to try to take the sacrament. The next day, a mob of Libertines (without Berthelier) did show up and Calvin made good on his oath. The armed mob began to approach the tables and Calvin put his arms around the vessels and called out, “These hands you may crush, these arms you may lop off, my life you may take, my blood is yours, you may shed it; but you shall never force me to give holy things to the profaned, and dishonor the table of my God.”

“After this,” says Beza, “the sacred ordinance was celebrated with a profound silence, and under solemn awe in all present, as if the Deity Himself had been visible among them.”

- this summary is kindness of Rev. Andrew Halsey, PCA minister in Charleston, Mississippi

C. S. Lewis is not my favorite—G. K. Chesterton is more raw, and therefore more useful for thick-headed men like Tim Bayly. Still, no one has been as perspicuous as Lewis about the civil religion of toxic secularism which metastasized across the Western world in the twentieth century, and what we can expect from it in our Christian homes and churches:

“In our own age the idea that religion belongs to our private life... is dangerous. (W)hen the modern world says to us aloud, ‘You may be religious when you are alone,’ it adds under its breath, ‘and I will see to it that you never are alone.’ To make Christianity a private affair while banishing all privacy is to relegate it to the rainbow’s end or the Greek Calends....  Like a good chess player (the enemy) is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.”

- from Lewis’s essay, “Membership,” in his collection of essays titled, The Weight of Glory

Kierkegaard put it this way:

Imagine a fortress, absolutely impregnable, provisioned for an eternity. There comes a new commandant. He conceives that it might be a good idea to build bridges over the moats--so as to be able to attack the besiegers. Charmant! He transforms the fortress into a countryseat, and naturally the enemy takes it.

So it is with Christianity. They changed the method--and naturally the world conquered. 

- Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon “Christendom,” (Princeton University Press, 1944), p. 138.

What if we started leaving the comfortable privacy of our sanctuaries and took the Word of God outside into the public square? What if we had a restoration of Christian faith and boldness and rejoined the Apostle Paul in the Areopagus calling Athens’s city fathers to repent of their idolatry, their “ignorance” of God’s Law? In other words, what if the People of God and their officers actually returned to loving their neighbors by calling them to repentance and faith?

Would our political masters leave us alone?

It’s very sad to say, but we Reformed men don’t love our neighbors. We love the truth—or I should say we love arguing over words and the relative merits of laying a garland on this or that dead man’s tomb. In bondage to our intellects, we are inane, innocuous, and impotent.

And worst of all, it’s intentional.

Let Hollywood deal with "The Help" in Jackson, Mississippi

We think we won’t be persecuted as long as we don’t start preaching God’s Moral Law and naming sin. “Let Hollywood deal with ‘The Help’ in Jackson, Mississippi; it’s not our job.”

We’re convinced what will keep the Reformed ghetto safe today is a sanctuary of wealthy white Presbyterians singing hymns accompanied by a pitch-pipe or organ and listening to the word of God preached by someone with a doctorate or a Scottish accent (preferably both) who is as sophisticated as the Apostle Peter in his understanding of our relegation of the Gentiles/The Help/Negroes/Colored/Blacks/Africans to our nursery. To help with our children.

Have you ever wondered what the Apostle Paul would say to southern Presbyterians about their relationships with “The Help?” Do you think the Apostle Paul would allow the spirituality of the church men to gag him under threat of being labeled another Clarence Jordan social justice do-gooder?

Do you think he’d give up rebuking the Apostle Peter in front of everyone, and instead go across the church fellowship hall and sit down and eat with all the rich honkies, while the darkies kept to their places up in the nursery or across the hall on the benches, holding their plates in their laps and keeping their eyes lowered and their children quiet?

Southern "spirituality of the church" is alive and well

Those with even a minimal commitment to their eyes being opened by the work of the Holy Spirit through Scripture will recognize the sinful utility of the much-vaunted Southern error promoted under the title, "spirituality of the church." The error is transparent. Show me a Reformed pastor still parroting that antebellum party line “the spirituality of the church,” and I’ll show you a man crying “peace, peace” where there is no peace.

And since the days of the antebellum south, this faithlessness has grown and grown and grown, until now it not only protects slavery and racism, but its segregation has now draped its protection over fornication and abortion and adultery and serial monogamy (better known as divorce and remarriage) and woman warriors and no-fault divorce and sodomy and sodomite marriage.

Yet these southern Presbyterians continue to call for segregation of the authority of God and the authority of man, of the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of man, of the natural law and the word of God, of faith and life. These R2K men continue to gag the word of God and the prophets of God, clothing themselves in the American flag which they never stop waving while vociferously pledging their allegiance to separation of church and state, to the enforcement of the authority of secularism across our society.

Church officers who don't love their neighbor won't love their sheep

Meanwhile, these sins we’ve given up on the civil law educating and condemning—how are they faring inside the Church. How about fornication? Greed? Adultery? Bitterness? Divorce? Gossip? Incest? Theft? Sodomy? Racism?

Check, check, check, check, and double-check. Reformed churches are full of them.

The idea that the man who clings to a sophisticated intellectual excuse for refusing to call his neighbor to repentance and faith in the public square would be faithful in preaching repentance and faith to his own congregation, and would call his session to visit their sheep, correcting, exhorting, and admonishing them concerning their sin, is ridiculous. The pastor who justifies his lovelessness toward his neighbor also justifies his lovelessness toward his flock, and the pastor who justifies his lovelessness toward his flock will not lead his session to go out into the ravines and walk the cliffs and part the thorn bushes looking for those who are lost to bring them back home to the sheepfold.

The man with no love for his neighbor only loves himself, and his savourless salt will corrupt his home, church, pulpit, and session meetings just as it corrupts his city.

Deathly afraid of pastors and church officers outing them, Reformed intellectuals looking for peace in their own time counsel church officers to be silent out at our city gates. “The church’s work is not political. It’s spiritual. Jesus called us to make intellectuals of all men, baptizing them in the names of Thornwell, Dabney, and St. Simeon Stylites who, back in the fifth century, sat out on top of his pillar for thirty-seven years.”

Sodomy is the best example of our savourless salt and lovelessness just now. The whole world is in “burn, baby, burn” mode concerning God’s laws against this wickedness. Every other area where sin is in the process of being normalized has taken a back seat to our political masters’ insane drive for queer marriage. Democrats and Republicans alike are clawing out each other’s eyes, trying to climb on the wagon of repentance for ever honoring God’s Word and Law. “I was wrong.” “I’m sorry.” “What could I have been thinking?” “I’ve finally come to recognize gays and lesbians are people, too, and I sincerely regret the pain I have caused them in past years when I believed that thing they do is sin. Honestly, now I’m ashamed of myself! What could I have been thinking? What could I have been believing?”

The gathering storm

So here’s what’s happening: our political magistrates are leading a rebellion against God’s decrees concerning the foundations of human life—the meaning of that glorious diversity of Adam and Eve, man and woman—and they are in the process of making that rebellion as foundational to our society as sexuality itself is. Who will escape their work?

Men who try to keep their religion private and warn their pastors and officers to shut up about it, except when the door to the session room is closed and locked?

No. No one will escape. There will be no place to run, no place to hide. There will be no private sphere where Christians will be free to express their private opinions. There will be no private forum where so-called "hate speech" will be protected by our Bill of Rights.

To repeat myself, C. S. Lewis was dead on when he warned believers they will tell us we can have our religion in private and then make sure we are never alone. Not in our apartments, not in our homes, not in our workplaces, not in our sanctuaries, not in our books, and certainly not in our blogs, our tweets, and FB pages. Our privacy is gone and any place God's prophets of righteousness engage in "hate speech" calling men to repentance, they will be disciplined by the law’s growing totalitarianism just as they were under the Jerusalem elders and the Roman Empire.

The spirituality of the church does nothing to hide our commitment to God if we’re never alone. Where will we be allowed to confess our faith? Where will the man of God be permitted to sound a clear note? Where will preaching be tolerated when the government is committed to rebelling against God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth?

As much as any of the citizens of these United States, Reformed Christians have cultivated ignorance of our loss of religious freedom, and we’ll pay for it.

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

No, the blood of the martyrs has always been the seed of the Church.

increasingly, though, I find myself wondering if there will be any martyrs when all the Reformed seminary profs and their students entering ministry are pleading for peace in full view of the thunderclouds gathered on the Western horizon?

Men desperate to hide the Sword of the Spirit from public view aren’t the sort of men God blesses with stonings and beatings and imprisonments. It's the men who love their neighbors and brothers in Christ who are able to end their books:

From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.

- Galatians 6:17

Let’s begin to bring this study to an end by reading this passage from the Gospel history recorded by John, the Beloved Disciple:

Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

- John 11:45-48 

Establishment religious leaders are always fearful lest the civil magistrate take away their place at the table, their plate on the table, their trough in the pigsty.

As I said at the beginning of this message, it’s a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they did not keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and to the Temple and to their authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

And so they honor the dead prophets and gag (or, if they must, kill) the living ones.

But how do true servants of God, true shepherds, true preachers of the Gospel, respond?

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out.

They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

- 1Thessalonians 2:14-16


This is the eleventh in a (so far) eleven-part series opposing the liberal theology called "Two Kingdom," "Radical Two-Kingdom," "Rigid Two Kingdom," or "Revisionist Two Kingdom," and abbreviated here simply as "R2K." Here's the first in this series, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventhAnd here's a post subjecting R2K to an historical critique.

NOTE: This post has been revised and renamed, resulting in the social media stats reverting to zeros.


NOTE: This past weekend, I was blessed by sweet times of fellowship and worship with Pastor and Mrs. Jeff Swanson, Elder and Mrs. Bill Hendrian, and the brothers, sisters, and children of Christ the King Presbyterian Church in New Era, Michigan. Then, Monday and Tuesday, more wonderful fellowship and worship with the dear brothers of Tyndale Presbytery of the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC). I thank all who made the weekend such a pleasure and hope to find an excuse be with you again, soon.

In a pre-presbytery conference at Ferry, Michigan on September 30, 2013, the above is the substance of the message I gave on the R2K error. The message was titled "Issues in the Reformed World: R2K Theology and Loving Our Neighbor."

Major parts of the message aren't in the manuscript, including several examples from life of what loving our neighbor looks like, and how the R2K error stifles such love.

Tim Bayly

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

Comments

I've never seen a reference to Francis Schaeffer. Why is this?

>>Why is this?

Love Schaeffer and have frequently mentioned him on the blog (which you'll find if you use the search box).

Thanks Tim. We sure appreciate you coming up and spending time with us at Christ the King Pres and Tyndale Presbytery. You blessed us!

God bless you Tim Bayly. May my children one day say of me, "Our dad, however weakly, helped hold up the arms of that great prophet."

What Prof Hart doesn't seem to appreciate--or, at least, I see little evidence of it--is that EVERY civil polity reflects the gods of that society. If we say, abortion should be protected," we confess a faith. If we say, "babies not yet born should be protected," we confess a different faith. We can't help it. Apart from core convictions, we could not prohibit or compel any conduct at all.

On the other hand, what Prof. Hart does seem to realize, and what I am not always sure his opponents (even those whom I love!) appreciate is that this makes impossible a strict adherence to the disestablishment of all religion. I fact, while the Founding Fathers were not professing Christians, they did universally believe in the self-evident truth of morals that many of them did not realize came from the Christian faith and that, as we have latterly seen, cannot be maintained apart from that faith. Hart says, "You people would establish your religion." The accurate response to that is to admit it, at least in some form, and then ask Dr. Hart what religion HE wants to establish. Because, if he is not an anarchist--and even then--he cannot have a single political or legal opinion that does not establish some and disenfranchise other religious beliefs.

>>this makes impossible a strict adherence to the disestablishment of all religion.

R2K men are always positing the entire disestablishment of religion, hence their love of a secularist society and their fealty to so-called separation of church and state. It's for this reason that they lampoon any position that calls for the codification of the Second Table of the Law without a parallel call to codify the First Table of the Law, also.

So your point confuses me. It would have made more sense to me if you had said "what Prof. Hart does NOT seem to realize, and what his opponents seem to appreciate, is that every civil polity reflects the gods of that society, and this makes impossible a strict adherence to the disestablishment of all religion."

This is the reason we've constantly harped on the ridiculosity of any true separation of church and state and the absurdidity of secularism, itself. Did you read the Sorbonnist?

Love,

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