Trust your nose...

Error message

God gave us a nose and we should use it. One whiff tells us if the potatoes are bad. No need for an NIH grant to research potato DNA. No need for a dissertation on the Irish Potato Famine. No need to work to present the potatoes in a favorable light, giving them the best possible chance to shine—to bake them, slathering on butter and sour cream, sprinkling chives, salt, and pepper on top—before taking a taste.

The potatoes reek—toss them.

This is the approach God's people should have towards the R2K1 error. It stinks. Throw it out.

R2K men are a council of defeat in a day when every Christian wants an excuse to throw in the towel. They are discouragers of the brethren in a day when the world's attack upon God's Truth and the Church's abandonment of Her prophetic calling have been catastrophic in the damage they have done to our neighbors. Every Christian ought to be praying for his pastor, encouraging him to...

boldness in calling all men to repentance, but then along comes the R2K crowd telling Christians that you can't be too careful in what you say, how you say it, to whom you say it, where you say it, what authorities you cite in saying it—and by the way, what "it" is that you should say is a matter only seminary professors are qualified to discuss and conclude.

Shame at Jesus and His words comes in many shapes and styles, but if you have a nose for it, it's super-easy to recognize, especially in ourselves. And R2K is shame at Jesus and His words.

R2K is our most successful gag-the-pastors movement. It sets up road blocks, detours, one-way signs, and ridiculous speed limits, then turns you over to the brain-dead Apple Map voice as you pass through radar traps and hit a traffic stop where the cop peers in your window to see if your six, seven, and eight-year-olds are on booster seats and the driver's belt is buckled and the coffee mug is in a proper factory installed and certified cup holder. All so that, next week when you contemplate a drive to the library so the kids can get new books, just the thought of all the harassment and dangers of last week's trip—that you would be ticketed or turned in to child protective services—leaves you throwing the car keys back on the counter and just staying home.

This is how our pastors feel today. They know they can't address the wickedness around us with boldness, citing Scripture, and yet have the approval of the disembodied brains within their congregation who read R2K blogs during the week. They know if they write a letter to the editor that cites Scripture, or go up to the Areopagus and preach that God commands all men everywhere to repent, at their next session meeting they will suffer the rebuke of their elder who is an R2K drone. So they close their laptop and stay home. The prophetic office is dangerous, and someone once told them it's not possible to be a pastor and a prophet, so they stop preachin the Gospel.

Then they themselves begin to read R2K rot, and slowly a light goes out in their head and they begin seeing how preaching the Word of God with conviction and power is triumphalistic. In time, they find themselves squelching the witness of elders and deacons who don't realize they shouldn't be saying this or that, there or then; that they ought never to quote Scripture or bring God's authority to bear among their neighbors.

As I said, R2K men are ashamed of Jesus and His Words, and their blizzard of words is their pathetic attempt to construct a shield against the charge that they are committing treason against the cross of Jesus Christ...

So what do we owe the R2K man and his mountain of words?

Another way of phrasing the questions is this: how far does a man have to go putting condiments on R2K so it can be sampled at its very best before he's allowed to declare the judgment his nose had come to from the beginning?

Cornelius Venema, Professor of Doctrinal Studies and President of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, is respectful in his treatment of R2K argument. He wrote a fifty-three page response to the R2K men in which he shows how helpful this and that point they make is in eliciting this and that acknowledgement of error in this and that part of what he refers to as "the neo-Calvinist" movement. We are relieved to report that Dr. Venema concludes, "not all neo-Calvinists are liable to the charge of triumphalism."

Beyond Dr. Venema's expressions of gratitude for R2K men's critique of other men's errors, when he turns his attention to critiquing the errors of R2K men themselves, there is a certain delicacy:

One of the strangest claims of the two kingdoms perspective is the idea that Christ's obedience fulfills the requirements of obedience under the cultural mandate in such a way as to exclude any further obligations for Christian obedience to this mandate. When Christ subdues the hearts of Christians to new obedience, Christians respond with a life of obedience to the holy law of God. True faith produces good works, which are any works performed from true faith, done to God's glory, and conformed to his perfect will.

The original calling that God gave to the human race in Adam is fulfilled through the obedience of Christ, which includes not only the present exercise of his three-fold office but also the participation of believers in that office. At this juncture, the two kingdoms paradigm appears to have an under-realized eschatology. The only realm that is touched directly by Christ's redemptive work is the church. The remainder of human life in the common kingdom remains what it was and always will be until Christ's comes. The problem with the two kingdoms paradigm at this point is that it has far too restricted a view of the broad reach of Christ's work of redemption. Ironically, the two kingdoms perspective diminishes the work of Christ in the lives of believers in order, ostensibly, to magnify the exclusive obedience of Christ for them. In this fashion, the two kingdoms paradigm fails to recognize that God's work of redemption aims to create a new humanity in Christ, persons who live before God in his world in the way that the first Adam failed to do.

The Apostle Paul did not oppose and expose the Judaizers so preciously:

At this juncture, the two kingdoms paradigm appears to have an under-realized eschatology.

Luther's Bondage of the Will was a response to Erasmus, yet even Bondage of the Will was not written in this way:

The fourth, and final, benefit of the two kingdoms perspective, at least according to some of its proponents, is the way believers are liberated from the burdensome and intrinsically impossible task of pursuing a distinctively “Christian” pattern of conduct in vocations that belong to the common kingdom. From the vantage point of the two kingdoms perspective, the whole enterprise of pursuing a uniquely “Christian” way of performing tasks that belong to the public square, to the civil community, or to activities that properly belong to the common kingdom, is impossible. No such uniquely Christian way of performing these tasks exists, precisely because they are common tasks that belong to a common kingdom of which believers and unbelievers alike are citizens. Thus, when neoCalvinists encourage a kind of transformative approach to these tasks, one or both of two consequences follow: either believers are placed under obligations that are not warranted by the Scriptures or it is implied that their works contribute something to the completed work of Jesus Christ. In the first instance, the believer’s conscience is brought into captivity to non-biblical stipulations. And in the second instance, believers are encouraged to think that their cultural and social achievements add something to what Christ has already accomplished for them. The two kingdoms paradigm liberates believers from the kind of extra-Scriptural and impossible demands with which neo-Calvinist zealots would burden them.

In the early twentieth century, the Vatican banned castrati from its choir. It appears they all moved over into academic theology.

I'm only a simple Midwestern pastor, but if I may?

It remains true that nature is olfactory and God gave us noses to use them.

It remains true that the Apostle Paul confronting the Apostle Peter publicly; the Apostle Paul writing the letter to the Galatians; both are our models for the correction of doctrinal error.

It remains true that Jesus is our Model for responding to the casuistry of Bible scholars who claim Scripture as the support for their error:

But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. - Matthew 22:29

It remains true that John the Baptist is our model for pastors dealing with the wickedness of civil magistrates:

Herod the tetrarch was reprimanded by [John the Baptist] because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the wicked things which Herod had done...

It remains true that the simple reason men have always worked to stop pastors from preaching the Gospel is that they know what happens when a pastor issues a Gospel call of repentance to the civil magistrate:

Herod also added this to them all: he locked John up in prison. - Luke 3:19, 20

Again, I'm just a simple pastor in the Midwest, but if you have ears to hear, R2K stinks to high heaven. Don't bother tasting it or reading those who think it's helpful and hurtful, both at the same time. You know it is perfectly designed to appeal to your most cowardly instincts, so have nothing to do with its fruitless deeds of darkness.

  • 1. "R2K is an abbreviation for "Radical Two-Kingdom," although these men themselves refer to their position as "Two-Kingdom." This is disingenuous, though, since their position twists the historic two-kingdom language and practice of men like John Calvin beyond recognition.
Tim Bayly

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

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!