D. Gnostic Hart writes,
Bill Evans is baaaaaaaaaack with another dismissive post about 2k. I am not sure why he grinds this ax, though I have ideas. Also, I detect another attempt to tarnish 2kers with unmentioned and unmentionable implications of their position — the guilt by association technique:
We will cheerfully admit that 2K advocates have some legitimate concerns, particularly that the mission and witness of the church not be hijacked by political and cultural agendas. But in this instance the cure is worse than the disease. While 2K theology may well scratch the itch of Christians who need a theological excuse to remain silent in current cultural conflicts, it is both less than biblical and less than faithful to the decided weight of the Reformed tradition.
Evans shows that he still does not understand 2k. Plenty of 2kers talk about law and politics. The point is for the church only to speak or declare what God has revealed, and in the case of gay marriage, for instance, the Bible does teach what marriage (is?), and that Israel and the church are to enforce biblical norms. But Scripture does not say what a constitutional republic’s marriage policy is supposed to be.
Darryl may have problems discerning these matters but John Calvin had no problem identifying what a constitutional Republic’s marriage policy is supposed to be. It is supposed to be in keeping with God’s revealed law-Word.
…“But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”
Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542
Calvin’s pen seems pointed at the seditious and perilous Ana-baptists whose application of the judicials gave, not Godly commonwealth judicial laws, but anarchistic Münster judicial laws. It is interesting that Darryl’s position here and the Anabaptist position, which Calvin is writing against, seem to be one and the same.
Calvin also wrote on this topic,
“And for proof thereof, what is the cause that the heathen are so hardened in their own dotages? It is for that they never knew God’s Law, and therefore they never compared the truth with the untruth. But when God’s law come in place, then doth it appear that all the rest is but smoke insomuch that they which took themselves to be marvelous witty, are found to have been no better than besotted in their own beastliness. This is apparent. Wherefore let us mark well, that to discern that there is nothing but vanity in all worldly devices, we must know the Laws and ordinances of God. But if we rest upon men’s laws, surely it is not possible for us to judge rightly. Then must we need to first go to God’s school, and that will show us that when we have once profited under Him, it will be enough. That is all our perfection. And on the other side, we may despise all that is ever invented by man, seeing there is nothing but *fondness and uncertainty in them. And that is the cause why Moses terms them rightful ordinances. As if he should say, it is true indeed that other people have store of Laws: but there is no right at all in them, all is awry, all is crooked.”
* fondness = foolishness, weakness, want of sense and judgment
Sermons on Deuteronomy, sermon 21 on Deut. 4:6-9
Calvin again, contra Hart’s uncertainty,
“The let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”
John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5
In another particularly prescient treatise for our labors against R2K, Calvin wrote against pacifistic Anabaptists (paging R2K fanboys) who maintained a doctrine of the spirituality of the Church which abrogated the binding authority of the case law,
“They (the Anabaptists) will reply, possibly, that the civil government of the people of Israel was a figure of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ and lasted only until his coming, I will admit to them that in part, it was a figure, but I deny that it was nothing more than this, and not without reason. For in itself it was a political government, which is a requirement among all people. That such is the case, it is written of the Levitical priesthood that it had to come to an end and be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus (Heb. 7:12ff) Where is it written that the same is true of the external order? It is true that the scepter and government were to come from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, but that the government was to cease is manifestly contrary to Scripture.”
Treatise against the Anabaptists and against the Libertines, pp. 78-79
And for good measure on the same subject here is Turretin,
XI. “Although Christ did not commit his church to Tiberius, but to Peter, still he did not exclude princes from the care of religion (he called them nursing fathers); nor did he who said “Kiss the Son” repel kings as such. The ministry of the word is committed to pastors; but the care of the state no less to the magistrate; in which state if the church exists, why should not the pious magistrate as such both afford entertainment to the church and keep off the wolves, who in the name of pastors lay waste the flock? Otherwise, by the same argument, I shall have denied that the defense of religion belongs to the magistrate because he gave no commands about religion to Tiberius.”
Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol.III, — 319
So, given these quotes from Calvin and Turretin we could wish that Darryl would be honest enough to quit calling himself a “Calvinist,” and go with some other moniker like “Gnostic,” “Anabaptist,” “Libertarian,” or “Manichean.” In the end if we have no word from Scripture on what the ethics of societal social orders are supposed to look like then we are left with a ethic for social orders that finds what is to be normative being determined by might makes right. Mao’s, “power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” becomes the norm for social order ethics.
D. G. Hart writes,
And this gets to the heart of the disagreement — not to mention where Evans not only fails to understand 2k but also the Reformed tradition. If the entire world is Christ’s kingdom, then we would expect all lawful authorities to enforce God’s revealed will. But the Bible tells us quite clearly that the entire world is not Christ’s kingdom — the world consists of believers and unbelievers.
One might think that there is a very strong suggestion here, by Darryl, giving us a Anabaptist paradigm. First, you have Christ’s Kingdom where all the believers are (Church). Then you have every place else that is “not Christ’s Kingdom” (i.e. — “The World”) However, unlike the Anabaptist paradigm in the “Not Christ’s Kingdom” you have both believers and unbelievers cheek by jowl. Let’s call that the mixed or common Kingdom.
Now, here’s the question? Where is Satan’s Kingdom in this two Kingdom model? Darryl and R2K tell us specifically that the World (presumably planet earth outside the Church) is neither Christ’s Kingdom nor Satan’s Kingdom but a common (neutral?) Kingdom. What we need to ask here then is ‘Where is Satan’s Kingdom?’ You know… the Kingdom of Darkness that Colossians 1 talks about Christians having been translated from? It can’t be the case that when men are translated from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, that they have been translated from the R2K common Kingdom since believers and unbelievers exist together in the common Kingdom. It looks like R2K needs to go to a R3K model or join the Anabaptists in just calling the common Kingdom the evil world. Indeed, in point of fact, I am convinced that in R2K we have a kind of inconsistent Anabaptist hybrid where the R2K word “common” is merely exchanged for the Anabaptist word “evil,” in reference to “the world” which is not Christ’s Kingdom. Like the Anabaptists, R2K can dismiss “the world” as being a realm where Christian standards are not to be expected nor even applied while being, at the same time, a realm where the Church does not have to be concerned. Unlike the Anabaptist model R2K can still participate in “the world” as long as no absolute standards, as drawn from the Scriptures, are championed. Like the Anabaptists, R2K insists that the Church and Christ’s Kingdom are exactly coextensive. Unlike the Anabaptists, R2K allows Christians to work positively in “The World.” As I said, it looks that R2K is just a kind of hybrid of Anabaptist social order theory.
D. Gnostic Hart writes,
The Bible also tells us — contrary to mid-twentieth-century western foreign policy — that Israel no longer exists as the covenant people. The church is now the new Israel, and the church does not have temporal jurisdiction. That means that the church transcends national borders and magistrates’ rule. In other words, what goes on in the church is different from what goes on in the state — the state of Russia, the state of Canada, the state of Japan. Christian’s should expect the church to practice God’s law. But whether Christians should expect non-Christian governments to enforce God’s law upon people who do not fear God is a very complicated question.
Here Darryl is conflating things that should not be conflated. Even in OT Israel there was distinction made between the Church and the State. Israel was God’s covenant people but with their social order stratification there was maintained a distinction between Church and State. All this to say that where we find Biblical Christianity in the ascendancy in a Nation there we would expect to find Christian governance without Ecclesiastial governance. All because the Church is not given jurisdiction with the eclipse of Israel does not mean that there is no such thing as Christian governance.
What goes on in the Church is different than what goes on in the State and no adherent of vanilla Biblical Christianity would ever say otherwise. The Church hold the Keys. The State holds the sword. However, vanilla Christianity recognizes that the usage of the sword must be according to some transcendent absolute standard. This is why Biblical Christians in Japan, Russia, and Canada, all advocate for law rooted and grounded in God’s revelation, whether implicitly or explicitly. This really isn’t that complicated.
D. Gnostic Hart writes,
The problem is that Evans fudges this very question when he says — in direct contradiction of the Confession of Faith:
. . . the kingdom of God and the institutional church are wrongly equated by 2K advocates. There is a rough consensus among New Testament scholars that the kingdom of God is a much more comprehensive reality than the institutional church, and this misidentification of the church and the kingdom has all sorts of unfortunate results, such as confusion over the nature of “kingdom work” and the silencing of Christians from speaking to societal issues.
Well, how would Evans rewrite this if he considered what the Confession — pre-1788 revision — does say?
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. (25.2)
That’s not exactly the same thing as the kingdom of God. But when the Confession goes on to say — again, pre-1788 revision, “Unto this catholic visible church Christ hath given the ministry, oracles, and ordinances of God, for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, in this life, to the end of the world: and doth, by his own presence and Spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual thereunto, (25.3), it is saying that the kingdom of Christ and the visible church are doing something distinct from what the state or magistrate does — “the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evildoers” (23.1). And this distinction between the spiritual nature of Christ’s kingdom (remember “my kingdom is not of this world” anyone?) and the temporal nature of the state’s rule, also explains why the Confession (pre-1788 revision again!) says the church should stay out of the state’s bee’s wax:
Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate. (31.4)
So the notion that 2k is outside the Reformed tradition on the nature of Christ’s kingdom is wrong.
1.) The evidence that the Kingdom of Christ and the Church are not identically synonymous in Reformed history and among Reformed Theologians is massive. Here are just a few quotes,
“The Kingdom may be said to be considered a broader concept than the Church, because the Kingdom aims at nothing less than the complete control of all the manifestations of life. It represents the dominion of God in every sphere of human endeavor.”
– Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pg. 570
“If professing Christians are unfaithful to the authority of their Lord in their capacity as citizens of the State, they cannot expect to be blessed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in their capacity as members of the Church. The kingdom of Christ is one, and cannot be divided in life or death. If the Church languishes, the State cannot be in health; and if the State rebels against its Lord and King, the Church cannot enjoy His favor. If the Holy Ghost is withdrawn from the Church, he is not present in the State; and if He, the ‘Lord, the Giver of life,’ be absent, then all order is impossible, and the elements of society lapse backward to primeval night and chaos.”
A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology
“The thought of the kingdom of God implies the subjection of the entire range of human life in all its forms and spheres to the ends of religion. The kingdom reminds us of the absoluteness, the pervasiveness, the unrestricted dominion, which of right belong to all true religion. It proclaims that religion, and religion alone, can act as the supreme unifying, centralizing factor in the life of man, as that which binds all together and perfects all by leading it to its final goal in the service of God.” (page 194)
The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church
“Scripture is the Book of the Kingdom of God, not a book for this or that people, for the individual only, but for all nations, for all of humanity. It is not a book for one age, but for all times. It is a Kingdom book. Just as the Kingdom of God develops not alongside and above history, but in and through world history, so too Scripture must not be abstracted, nor viewed by itself, nor isolated from everything. Rather, Scripture must be brought into relationship with all our living, with the living of the entire human race. And Scripture must be employed to explain all of human living.”
“The Kingdom of God, The Highest Good”
For Darryl to suggest that the Confessions require us to read that the Reformed, like the Anabaptists, believed that the Kingdom and the Church are exactly co-extensive is just embarrassing.
2.) Clearly R2K is outside the historic voice of the Reformed Church. R2K is a complete innovation that is reading the Confessions and Reformed Church – State History through the cramped spectacles of Anabaptist hybrid “thinking.”
3.) Darryl, following the WCF, wants to rightly insist that the Church is not to involve itself in the affairs of the Magistrate but we are living in a time when it is not the case that the Church is involving itself in the affairs of the Magistrate so much as it is the case that the Church is telling the Magistrate that it can not involve itself in the affairs of the Church. The Church must speak a “thus saith the Lord” on issues that the State has taken up in contradiction to God’s voice. Issues like abortion, sodomite Marriage, property, etc. are issues that find the Magistrate meddling in the affairs of the Church more than it being the case where the Church is involving itself in the affairs of the Magistrate.
4.) Hart continues to butcher John 18:36. If Hart’s handling of the rest of Scripture is like his handling of John 18:36 people should absent themselves anytime he tries to teach Scripture. Darryl continues to try to appeal to John 18:36 as a proof text that Gnosticism is true. However, we learn from B. F. Wescott speaking of John 18:36 a very different understanding,
“Yet He (Jesus) did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven. My Kingdom is not of this world (means it) does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”
The Gospel According To John — pg. 260
D. Gnostic Hart writes,
“In fact, those who expand the kingdom the way that Evans does under the influence of either Kuyper’s every-square-inchism or Finney’s millenialism are the ones who are outside the Reformed tradition and who threaten the gospel.
Read again, almost all the earlier quotes I have given in this post. Darryl Hart has just said that all those chaps are outside the Reformed tradition and that they all threaten the Gospel. Darryl, in saying this, reveals his “theology” as stupid.
D. Gnostic Hart writes,
And this goes to the heart of what animates 2k — a desire to preserve the integrity of the gospel and the church’s witness by not identifying the gospel or Christian witness with matters that are not Christian or redemptive but are common or related to general revelation. Once you begin to expand the kingdom as Evans so glibly does, you wind up doing what Protestant liberals did when they attributed to economics or agriculture or medicine on the mission field redemptive significance or what Social Gospelers did when they identified Progressive policies as signs of the coming of the kingdom. Only the church has the keys of the kingdom and all the Reformed confessions state explicitly that the magistrate may not hold them.
That means that the kingdom of Christ comes through the ministry of the church, not through the administration of the state or the advancement of Western Civilization or the building of the metropolis. Preaching and the sacraments establish the spiritual kingdom, not Broadway, the Tea Party, or a Supreme Court ruling.
1.) Darryl assumes what he has yet to prove and that is the idea there are matters that can never be “Christian.” Darryl assumes that there are realities that can be neutral and not animated by Theology. This is in no way true and if that is not true every thing he says that follows from that is likewise not true.
2.) Darryl with his Anabaptist identifying of the Kingdom as exactly coextensive with the Church accuses Evans of being Liberal. Think about it.
3.) The fact that the Magistrate does not hold the Keys to the Kingdom does not mean the Magistrate can not act in a Christian manner. No vanilla Christian desires to see the Magistrate hold the Keys. No vanilla Christian sees the Magistrates work as being “redemptive.” However it is possible for Magistrates to wield the sword and so provide justice in a way that is in keeping with Biblical Revelation.
4.) It is R2K that destroys the Gospel. R2K allows an alien theology to shape the zeitgeist so that all our thought categories are conditioned by that alien theology. Then Darryl expects that, despite that alien theology creating a culture hostile to Biblical Christianity, that the Church will remain unaffected by that hostility and false theology so that it can herald a clear Gospel message. Our contemporary setting screams that Darryl is wrong. Church Growth, Emergent, Pentecostal, Arminian, R2K,etc. churches all demonstrate that the zeitgeist pagan theology is shaping our Churches and so our Christianity. Pentecostalism is shaped by animistic theology. Emergent by cultural Marxist theology. And R2K by libertarian / Anabaptist theology. In point of fact the only Christian Churches which are swimming upstream in this miasma of lunacy are those Churches who understand the Biblical Christianity makes truth claims that impact every area of life.