A primer on two-kingdom, spirituality of the church, redemptive-historical evasions...
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.... (2 Timothy 4:3).
(Tim) Darryl Hart is Director of Partnered Projects at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) and an adjunct faculty member at Westminster Seminary in California (WSC). He wrote a helpful bio of J. Gresham Machen titled Defending the Faith. He's also done a short history of the OPC titled Fighting the Good Fight which made me want to go back to my roots there in that denomination--that is, until I remembered what the OPC actually was like. As in somnolent by way of its distinctives, one of which is variously referred to here and other places as R2K (radical two kingdom), 2K (two kingdom), or "the spirituality of the Church."
Concerning the two books above, buy and read them, carefully. If you trace your spiritual or cultural lineage back to the popular evangelicalism of the twentieth century as many of Dr. Hart's admirers do, you need to know the history of men like J. Oliver Buswell, J. Gresham Machen, and the denomination Machen founded called the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. You need to know how real dispensationalism with its always-attendant moralism dogged fundamentalism and the early evangelicals; but also Machen's courageous stand against it. This history will go a long way toward explaining why many otherwise good reformed men today seem careless about cruelty and injustice, and indifferent to the sodomitic bondage and slaughtered babies at the headwaters of the river of blood we drive through each day in this Babylon that is our home.
Dr. Hart does a superb job documenting Machen's opposition to the binding together of the Church and the feminine anti-alcohol and tobacco crusade that, by way of Fundamentalism, sought to extend its reach into conservative presbyterianism. He said "no," and our R2K brothers think of themselves as the true keepers of Machen's flame. Sadly, though, what started out as opposition to teetotalers, prohibitionists, and other moralistic crusaders has morphed into what appears to be a lack of compassion and love for our neighbors and opposition to the Moral Law itself in our work of obedience to the Great Commission...
Where is the Law as tutor or crossing-guard to Christ in the reformed preaching of the Gospel, today? Where do we teach men to obey everything Jesus commanded?
David and I grew up in a church at the heart of evangelicalism
where our father was denied membership for close to twenty years because
he declined to sign a pledge required of all members, that they would
abstain from movies, dancing, belonging to secret
societies, and the two biggies--the consumption of alcohol and the use
of tobacco. (Thus the name of Dr. Hart's Nicotine Theological Journal.)
For decades, with Ken Hansen Dad team-taught the church's main adult Sunday school class--the inter-generational "Covenant Class" memorialized in Dad's little book, I Love to Tell the Story. Each Lord's Day Dad wasn't on the road, you'd find him with Mud out on the sidewalk in front of the church, encouraging the brethren long after the pastors and elders had left for home and Sunday dinner. If there was a shortage of elders to serve the Lord's Supper, Dad would be conscripted. But they wouldn't allow him to join until finally, near the end of his life, good brother Kent Hughes prevailed upon them and he was welcomed into the fold.
Which brings me to the observation that life is messy. Why didn't Dad leave College Church in Wheaton for some other congregation where the physical and spiritual reality were free to mesh? Where everything would be copacetic?Happily, Dad wasn't in the habit of trading in justice and mercy and fellowship for the foolish consistency that is the hobgoblin of little minds. And have you noticed how often the brightest minds are quite little?
It's never right to trade in the holiness without which no man will see God for the self-righteousness without which no man may join College Church in Wheaton or matriculate at Wheaton College.
Each generation erects its own Pharisaical boundaries that serve nicely to displace the boundaries of God: true faith in the Blood and Righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ marked by the Sacraments and the fruit of holiness by which all men are enabled to see with their eyes who is in and who is out of God's Covenant People. And as I see it, for many today, those Pharisaical boundaries allowing the reformed to escape the shame of the Gospel and the painful pursuit of holiness now are taking the shape of talk about R2K, 2K, the spirituality of the Church, or hiding behind a commitment to redemptive-historical preaching.
Sure, that's not the only way reformed men run from the Cross.
Regular readers of this blog know of David's and my grief over the PCA's trendy church-planting network so often marked by the silence of indifference or vocal unfaithfulness to the doctrines of Scripture under attack in our day. To take one of the better examples, we believe God's Creation Order of Sexuality is an evangelistic doctrine, a blessing from God perfectly suited for the proclamation of the Gospel for the salvation of mankind in our time. Think of the rabid father-hunger of our nation. Then we come proclaiming the Gospel of the saving love of God the Father from Whom all fatherhood gets its name. This is our Athenian moment before the Areopagus!
Sadly, this doesn't seem to be Mission to North America's perspective. Rather, it often appears PCA/MNA church-planting hipsters would like to to bury God's Creation Order on the far side of the world--maybe out in Australia's back of beyond. Leaving behind the Gospel utility of this doctrine, any affirmation or obedience they give it is of the parsimonious sort, reminding us of a teenage girl at a Christian school tugging on her skirt trying to get it low enough for the principal marching toward her with a yardstick.
It's one of the supreme ironies of our reformed fellowship that, despite what any reasonable person would think, the R2K, 2K, spirituality of the church preppies, along with their brothers mute behind the redemptive-historical gag, are out there in the Aussies' back of beyond helping the PCA/MNA hiptsers dig. Both sides together, now.
The common denominator is hatred for the shame of the Gospel and a propensity to do the look-at-the-birdie routine, albeit they point in radically different directions.
What's certain is that no one has a heart to love the lost, to rescue the perishing, to break the jaw of the wicked snatching the widow and orphan from his mouth, or to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its earthshaking power and wisdom and holiness. Find me the hip church plant where former lesbians and pro-abort feminists have been converted to the Gospel and are now zealous for the conversion of their former sisters-in-crime, pitying their bondage and, from love, going out to seek and to save that which is lost to bring them under the preaching of the full Gospel and the teaching of everything Jesus commanded--particularly that so-pertinent part having to do with Adam being created first, and then Eve.
For that matter, find me the R2K, 2K, spirituality of the Church, redemptive-historical preaching church where the pastor or elders or deacons--anyone, for that matter--faithfully show up at the baby-slaughterhouse nearby to plead for the lives of those little ones about to die.
Amazing similarities between the most disparate things are all over the place, aren't they?
Men today hate distinctions, and both church planting hipsters and two kingdom preppies are equally adept at precisely fencing off those that appeal to them while studiously avoiding those that make our faces go red.