Seven Signs We May Be Worshiping Our Churches

I love the Church I serve. I love being a minister. I’ve been at the Church I serve 20 years this year. I am convinced that a connection to the Church and one’s attendance on Word and Sacrament are necessary for sanctification in the Christian life. I love the people I serve and pray for them and minister Christ to them regularly. However, having said that, I want to be and I want them to be on guard against loving the Church inordinately.

As such, I want to raise a warning that it is possible that there may be those who are practicing Church-olatry (Worship of the Church). The following are possible signs that we have begun worshiping the Church rather than attending the Church to worship.

1.) We think that whenever the doors are open we have to be present.

One of the Changes of the Reformation was to reduce the time laity spent in the Church building. In the Medieval age the Church was open for Matins, Vespers, Masses, canonical hours, confessional, etc. It was thought that the more time one spent in the Church the better Christian one was. The Reformation changed all that with the understanding that all of life could be lived unto the glory of God. The Reformation actually reduced the time one spent in Church.

Certainly Worship should be attended but the idea that members have to be present for every single function of the Church suggests that the Church may be seeking to replace the role of the Family as the institution responsible for the rearing and raising of children.

2.) We keep attending a Church even though we know the Church refuses to challenge a pagan culture

Worshiping the Church can be seen by the fact that often people who know better will keep attending a Church even though there is a refusal to challenge worldliness. For example, people remain though youth groups are prioritized over family. People remain though no teachings are heard against the sin of causing little children to stumble by placing them, for hours a day, in institutions that catechize them into a false religion. People remain though no teachings are heard warning about the child centered family. The Reformed antithesis is not drawn over against theologies alien to the Covenant Reformed faith.

3.) We keep attending even though there is an attempt to use false guilt to involve us in certain behavior patterns

Teachings are given where members are told that God expects them to do “X,” “Y,” or “Z” with little or no Scriptural support to sustain the appeal. Often times Scripture is taken out of context in order to support some kind of hobby horse of the ministerial staff.

4.) We keep attending even though the leadership is not Covenantal Reformed

If we are in a Reformed Church we should expect Covenant Reformed leadership in the lay Elders elected. We should expect that the pulpit is not turned over to those who are not Covenant Reformed. We should expect that conferences are not organized where Arminians are invited to speak as headliners.

5.) We keep attending even though the Church doesn’t appreciate how central the family is in God’s economy

We get teachings that suggest that the Church is more important than the family and should be prioritized over the family when in God’s economy both the Family and the Church are equally ultimate, each in their proper sphere. There is little or no sympathy of the Parent’s desire to protect the children from bad teaching in Sunday School or Youth Group precisely because there is little or no understanding that the teaching in Sunday School and Youth group is unwholesome.

6.) We keep attending even though the Leadership does not manage their own household well.

There is, among some or all of the leadership, children of varying ages who are out of control or who have repudiated or redefined the Christian faith. Yet despite that the Leadership is allowed to continue in leadership positions. Children are allowed to be “salty” to their Elders showing little or no respect.

7.) We keep attending though the Church is antinomian

There is a refusal to understand that for Christians there is a harmony between Law and Gospel. As such there is a constant warning about falling into “legalism” whenever any member suggests that the standard of God should be applied. As such there is a bent towards antinomianism in the Church.

By all means, let us enjoy and treasure our Churches. Let us celebrate the gift they are. Let us pour out our lives and hearts into ministering to God’s people — including God’s people who also happen to be our children. Finally, let us realize that just as we are not perfect so our Churches will not be perfect, and so let us be patient. However, in doing so, let us also be mindful of the necessity to properly prioritize our own family, remembering God’s word that “He who does not provide for his own family is worse than an infidel.” Let us beware the danger of falling into Ecclesiolatry.

The Eschatological / Soteriological Impulse of II Cor. 5:14f

II Cor. 5:14f

I.) Preliminary Considerations

A.) Clearing up the “all.” (14f)

First off, we have to understand that this letter was written to the believing Church. Paul is not addressing unbelievers but he is speaking to believers here. The audience thus constrains us to hear the “all” language in the context of a believing community. The “all” then, given the context, points to believers.

Scripture consistently teaches that Christ died for all the subjects of Redemption. Christ died for all who died when He died. (“If one died for all, then all died.”) This is the principle of Covenant headship that is spoken of in Romans 5. All in Adam die in Adam and All in Christ are made in alive in Christ. The apostasy of Adam was the apostasy of all united to Adam. The work of Christ was the work of all united to Christ. The simple meaning here then is the death of Christ is the death of His people.

(Compare to Romans 5 “all” language.)

In this verse we would note that the ones for whom Christ died are the same “all” who died with Christ as a result of Christ’s death as mentioned at the end of the same verse.

So the answer to who the “all” is who died is the “all” who were made alive.

That St. Paul in this very letter does not embrace a Universal Atonement is seen in what he said earlier,

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are perishing (4:3)

Here clearly the Apostle understands that the Gospel has a hidden quality and the hidden quality of it is towards those who are perishing. Clearly no idea of universality is present.

Earlier in II Corinthians this lack of “allness” is also hinted at.

14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the aroma of his knowledge by us in every place. 15 For we are unto God a sweet aroma of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the aroma of death unto death; and to the other the aroma of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

So what is the difference in the aroma? It is that some catch the aroma as perishing while others catch the aroma as being saved.

All of this thus is suggestive that the “all” in chapter 5 is a “all” that is restricted by the design of the atonement.

B.) Impact of Being part of the All for whom Christ died (15)

The Holy Spirit goes on to say here that the consequence of having died in Christ is that we are now alive in Christ and so living unto him is the pivot point of our lives. (Romans 6)

This is consistent with what St. Paul said earlier of himself when He said that Christians make it their goal to please God. Paul can even say in Ephesians

“For we (Christians) are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Charles Hodge waxes eloquent here on this point

“He only is a Christian who lives for Christ. Many persons think they can be a Christian on easier terms than these. They think it enough to trust in Christ while they do not live for Him. But the Bible teaches us that if we are partakers of Christ’s death, we are also partakers of His life; if we have any such appreciation for His love in dying for us as to lead us to confide in the merit of His death, we shall be constrained to consecrate our lives to His service. And this is the only evidence of the genuineness of our Faith.”

Charles Hodge
19th Century American Theologian

If we are, along with St. Paul to make it our goal to please him … if we are to live unto Christ then it is absolutely essential that Christ be known. Many are those who would insist that they are living unto Christ but they live unto a Christ of their own imagination.

Now having dealt with these introductory matters we want to consider two significant impulses of this passage.

I.) Eschatological Impulse

“If anyone is in Christ He is a new creation.”

Dutch Theologian Ridderbos says of this text, “This is the main theme of Paul’s ministry and epistles.”

We would add it is part of the theme of how it is that the new creation (God’s Kingdom, God’s New World Order) is penetrating into and rolling back this present wicked age.

This idea of a “New Creation” is a motif consistent with Old Testament promises. Isaiah wrote of the new creation future. There God speaks of a coming new creation,

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”

Again in chapter 66 God speaks of God making a new heavens and a new earth. In Christ that new heavens and new earth have been created.

St. Paul is saying here in II Cor. 5 that the one in Christ has already now been placed in that new creation Kingdom that we might also be styled as “God’s New World Order.”

Paul says much the same thing with slightly different language when in Colossians he can say,

3 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son

That Kingdom of God’s dear Son is the New Creation and as we are placed in the New Creation we ourselves are now “New Creations.” The old has past. The New has come.

Paul speaks of this theme again in Colossians 3, speaking of how believers,

have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

The Believer then is part of this new creation community which Ezekiel recognized as once being a valley of dry bones but now a army brought to life from the dead. God has brought us up out of our graves when Christ Himself was brought out of His grave and has placed us in the future eschatological age to come with Christ … a future age that is impacting and leavening this present evil age. This new creation is the Rock that Daniel saw in his vision that rolled over all other Kingdoms that was placed in its way. This new creation is the mustard seed that became a great tree so that all the birds (nations) found a place to nest. This new creation come is the leaven that works itself through the whole.

This explains why for Paul in his preaching in the book of Acts the twin themes were the Resurrection of Christ and the Kingdom of God. Because of the Resurrection of Christ the Kingdom of God (what Paul often styles as the “new creation”) has arrived and is a hurricane force that has every intent of sucking everything in its path into its vortex to remake it consistent with the new creation Hurricane.

Now, why is this Eschatological impulse that we have noted here important?

Simply because the nowness of the “new creation” has been so long buried and continues to be buried underneath the flotsam and jetsam of those in the Church who would rather over emphasize the “not yetness” of the new creation. They accuse us who preach this nowness of a “over-realized” eschatology, by which they mean that our expectations of what Christ intends to accomplish before His return is to high to the point of being dangerous. They cast their eyes upon the landscape and they see how Christians are marginalized and they say, “Thus it has ever been, thus it is now, thus it will ever shall be. Amen,” completely ignoring the triumph of the Gospel and of Christianity in periods throughout History.

They thus make a virtue out of the expectation that the gates of Hell shall prevail. Their theology is all Crucifixion and no Resurrection and Ascension. They see the “not yet” of our Reformed Hermeneutic as corporeally incarnating itself into all of reality and all of our living but the “now” victory of our Reformed Hermeneutic in their sermons, books, and tours is all “spiritual,” which is to say, not only that it has no present tactile reality anyplace beyond the Church, but that it never will have any present tactile reality anyplace beyond the Church.

They conclude that those of us who desire to speak up regarding the “nowness” of the Kingdom and the certain incremental victory of the new creation over this present wicked age are a positive harm upon the Church.

Really, though the disagreement here is only one of differing eschatology. When Postmillennialists read the Scripture they see the triumph of Christ in space and time. When amillennialists read the Scripture they also see the triumph of Christ in space and time but then they end up defining “triumph” quite differently.

Now having spent some time here we want to consider the

II.) Soteriological Impulse

Reconciliation is the bringing together of two parties who have hostility towards one another.

The necessity of Reconciliation presupposes the existence of a barrier of enmity that needs to be removed.

In Christian theology the Reconciliation that needs to take place is both a Reconciliation of God to man and of man to God. The main emphasis of what St. Paul is speaking of here is God’s reconciliation towards man though the reciprocal idea of man’s reconciliation to God also can be gleaned.

Man’s main problem is that God needs to be Reconciled to him. God is justly at war with man because of His sin and something had to be done to provide a basis for God to be reconciled to man. That something that needed to be done God did Himself by incarnating and sending the 2nd person of the Trinity — the Lord Christ — to be the one who would remove The Father’s just hostility to His elect by taking upon Himself the Father’s just hostility towards sin.

In this text what is primarily spoken of is

A.) Objective Reconciliation (God being reconciled to man)

1.) The Author of the Reconciliation

God Himself — Paul says “… All things are of God who has reconciled us.”

Here we note that the chief and only actor in our reconciliation and salvation is God. This is why Biblical Christians will talk about “Salvation being all of God.” God took the initiative to reconcile His people. God did all the saving and He did it in the provision of Christ.

Who, Paul teaches here is,

2.) The Basis of our Reconciliation ?

Yes, God is the author of our reconciliation but He elected to provide that reconciliation only through Christ. This explains why Biblical Christians insist on the absolute necessity of a known Christ in order to have peace with God. There is no concourse with God apart from the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ is the one who extinguished the necessary and just opposition of God that was a immovable force set against us.

The plain meaning, thus, is that through Jesus Christ, God established the basis of agreement between men and God as estranged, removed the barrier to the sinner’s approach to Himself, and accepted the work of propitiation in Christ.

3.) The Preached Word of our Reconciliation (18, 20f)

Paul says here that he was set aside unto the ministry of reconciliation. By this he means that it is his calling to make known that God’s has been propitiated. Paul lets men know that God himself has appeased Himself in the appearance of Himself in the person and work of the second person of the Godhead.

4.) Reconciling the World to Himself.

Here I think we need to see that the reconciling work of Christ accomplished on the cross was designed so that in the outworking of history what would eventually come to pass was the salvation of the whole cosmos (“World”). In Christ’s death all things were reconciled in principle and definitively but that reconciliation was to take place progressively in history and culminate in all things being reconciled finally in the consummation of all things. The redemptive effects of Christ’s death was accomplished at the cross and those same redemptive effects continue to extend out into the future so that the all things that were reconciled in principle and definitively in the death of Christ are progressively reconciled as the future unfolds. The final end of Christ’s work is the reconciliation of the World that was accomplished in principle and definitively in the work of our Lord Christ in his Cross work.


Missionary Impulse (20f)

1.) Not reckoning their trespasses to them

2.) Based on the fact that God has provided His reconciliation to men because of Christ men now are responsible to be reconciled to God.

3.) Become the righteousness of God in Him

Objective — Based on the fact that Paul says that God counted Christ as being sin for us, I understand when Paul talks about our becoming the Righteousness of God he is referring first to the reality that because Christ’s righteousness is counted as ours we are said to be the righteousness of God.

Subjective — Becoming.

We become what we have been freely declared to be.

The Exile Wars — McAtee contra Hart

Over at Moldlife D. G. Hart couldn’t resist taking a shot at me on my Birthday… but hey, what’s a birthday without Darrell’s confusion?

Darrell suggests that we should go with the “Jeremiah option” suggesting that the prophet Jeremiah was a “pluralist.” (That sound you’re hearing is my laughter resonating across the amber waves of grain.) Of course as we’ve noted many times here, the pluralist option is merely anabaptist political theory (Long live Roger Williams) and only survived as long as it did because it was living off the capital of a Biblical worldview. Pluralism can approximate success in a Christian social order where Christianity is the reigning worldview, even if it is subdivided into protestant denominationalism. However, pluralism is guaranteed to explode in democratic anarchism when placed in a social order that is entertaining the gods of Humanism, Talmudism, Islam, Hinduism, etc.

Darrell also links my piece answering the problem with the absolutizing of exile as the amillennial favorite tired song. Darrell also manages to take a smarmy swing at the idea of “Dominion,” in his piece. Where would we be without Darrell’s ongoing smarminess?

In honor of Darrell then I spend even more time suggesting that a case can be made from the New Testament that our time of Exile is completed in the Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Session of the Lord Christ.

“Paul also indicates in this passage (II Corinthians 5) that the death and resurrection of Jesus are to be understood as the fulfillment of what was prophesied in the Old Testament. As he spoke of the glorious eschatological future that would come through and after the judgment of exile, Isaiah prophesied of a new creation (Is. 65:17, 66:22). Ezekiel identified the return from exile and the glorious eschatological restoration with the resurrection from the dead (Ez. 37:13-14). Paul sees the inauguration of the fulfillment of these prophecies in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:15), which makes those who are in Christ new creations (5:17). The imagery that Paul employs in II Cor. 6:14-7:1 fits with this picture, as the church is spoken of as a new dwelling place of God by the Spirit, a new temple. The new exodus and return from exile have been typologically fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection (5:15), inaugurating a new creation (5:17), and the church’s new sojourn in the wilderness is replete with a new covenant (2 Cor. 3), while the church itself is the new tabernacle, indwelt by the Spirit (II Cor. 6:14-7:1). The glory of God that will be consummated in the future has broken into the present age as a result of the salvation that has come through the judgment of Jesus.

James M. Hamilton Jr.
God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment — pg. 467

Here again our exile was completed in the finished work of the Lord Christ. As we are united to Christ we are placed in the Kingdom of the age to come that has broken into this present evil age. And while it is the case that until the already present Kingdom has yet to come, in it wild fullness, and the church can rightly be said, in a “not yet” sense, to be in the wilderness, it is a wilderness that is incrementally being swallowed up by the “now” of the Kingdom. In Christ our exile is finished. While the Church may go through periods of exilic times where this present wicked age seems to be getting the upper hand, the exile is not absolutized in the New Testament. Christ is Lord. Our exile has been completed in His triumph, and He shall rule until His enemies are His footstool.

“Christ became a curse, was hanged on a tree, and thereby redeemed his people from the curse. Thus what Isaiah prophesied about the sins of the people being pardoned because they had been punished (Is. 40:2), has at last been realized. That statement of Isaiah is recognizably set in context in which he deals with Israel’s glorious eschatological restoration that will come through and after judgment, after exile. There is a sense, then, in which the exile finds it fullest realization in Christ’s death on the Cross The curse was poured out in full. This kind of fulfillment of that payment for sin prophesied by Isaiah (40:2) is also in keeping with what Isaiah said about the one who would bear the sins of the people (Is. 52:13- 53:12, exp. 53:4-6, 8). Isaiah even said the servant’s work would benefit many nations. (52:1; cf. Gen. 12:3), that would ‘see his seed’ (Is. 53:10; cf. Gen. 22:17-18), who would be ‘justified’ because he too bore their sins (Is. 53:11). Isaiah made it clear that the judgment he announced against Israel arose from their failure to keep covenant, and Is. 1:2, where Isaiah calls on the witnesses to the covenant), and so the servant in Isaiah 53 is bearing bearing the punishment the people deserve for having broken the Mosaic covenant. In Galatians 3:13-14, Paul is arguing that Jesus has taken the punishment incurred from the failure to keep the Mosaic covenant, with the result that the blessings promised to Abraham, can be enjoyed by the Gentiles: “Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, … in order that the blessings of Abraham might come to the Gentiles in Messiah Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:13-14). THE EXILE IS OVER. THE RESTORATION BEGUN, AND THE AGE IN WHICH THE SPIRIT IS POURED OUT HAS DAWNED (cf. Gal. 3:2).

James M. Hamilton Jr.
God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment — pg. 474-745

Because Christ bore the penalty of Exile, God’s people are no longer bearing God’s wrath by being exiles themselves. Our exile has ended in Christ and now we are no longer strangers and aliens in the Kingdom of God — a Kingdom that covers the earth, a Kingdom in which we are participants under the Holy Spirit’s unction in rolling back this present evil age as the Gospel goes forward in its humble transforming power.

Finally Darrell ads a anti-hero flourish at the end of his rant,

As it is, the lure of domination, even though gussied up with the mantra of Christ’s Lordship, that is far more the norm than it should be because it is a whole lot more inspiring to be on the winning side of history. (Who roots for the Cubs?) And for that reason, Carl’s call will likely go unheeded.

1.) We speak of Dominion and not “Domination.” Darrell uses a “scare” word in order to frighten the other mice away. I might say a great deal here but I will simply offer this book by William Symington in order to give the mice courage to not be scared of Darrell’s scare word,

2.) “Gussied up with the mantra of Christ’s Lordship”? Does this mean Darrell prefers the gussying up of Christ’s non-Lordship?

3.) Of course we are on the winning side of History. When Christ said, “It is finished,” at that point History was won. Does Darrell prefer to be on the “losing side of History?” Darrell is so pious by suggesting that there is something noble about the idea that Christ never wins in history. Christ loses all the way through history until the very end when he finally returns to rescue His church which always found the gates of Hell ever prevailing against it. Rooting for the Cubbies is easy if you’re a person with no expectations.

4.) Both Karl and Darrell are amillennial. I’m postmillennial. That is where we disagree.

We all agree that these are dark times. The only difference is, is that Darrell believes that the times are never anything but Dark while I believe that the Kings will kiss the son, lest those Kings perish in the way.

From the Mailbag — Pastor I’m For Open Borders … Why Aren’t You?

Dear Pastor,

I ran across this quote from R. J. Rushdoony and I’m pretty sure you would support it,

We must render honor and justice to all men wherever due, but we have a particular responsibility to care for our own. This means first of all our families. . . . Biblical conduct is regulated by relationship, and to subvert this is to lead directly into welfare economics and socialism. If a man must exercise towards all men the same care, oversight, and charity he does towards his own family, then an impossible burden is placed on him. . . . Every system of ‘universal’ ethics is at one and the same time a system of universal slavery.”

R. J. Rushdoony
On illegal immigration and Amnesty
“Politics of Guilt and Pity”, p. 248

Pastor, I see this quote not as an argument for regulation of immigration, walls, and border patrols but rather as an argument against welfare. I do not see how the need to take care of my own family necessitates that I have a government that prohibits an individual from crossing an imaginary line in say Arizona. This is not logical. Furthermore, to construe this to mean that Rushdoony supported immigration laws is not honest. Could you help me see what I’m not seeing?

Lovey Jardine

Dear Lovey,

Thank you for writing. First let’s consider the RJR quote itself to see if it speaks to immigration. RJR says,

“If a man must exercise towards all men the same care, oversight, and charity he does towards his own family, then an impossible burden is placed on him…”

I would say that this indeed is an argument for regulation of immigration, walls, and border patrols as well as an argument against welfare. So, I do believe you misinterpreting the quote when you say it is not about immigration at all. To hopefully help you see where the relation is between “imaginary lines” and taking care of your family, allow me to offer,

1.) The need to take care of our own families includes the idea of having a stable culture and economy. The flooding of our nation with people of a different religion and culture means your family will not be taken care of because the consequence of such policy means the balkanization of this Nation into hostile religion, ethnic, and economic enclaves which demands a Centralized tyrannical Government can keep in order. One reason the FEDS are following this policy Lovey is that it creates a need for their presence since only a strong handed Government can mediate the hostilities that will arise from the policies of purposeful balkanization that they are pursuing.

2.) The depression of wages resulting in the destruction of the middle class is assured by the current immigration policy. This likewise will eventuate in the voiding of care for our current families. Harvard Professor and Immigration expert George Borjas has analyzed the effects of immigration on the middle class and the conclusion is that this immigrations redistributes capital upwards with the consequence that the mega-Rich get richer and the middle class are increasingly impoverished so that what is created by this policy is a have vs. have not social order. I’m sure you’ll agree with me Lovey that impoverishing your children in order to enrich the Mega-Rich Corporatism class, via this immigration policy, is not taking care of your family.

3.) This quote clearly advances the idea that RJR supported immigration laws when the consequence of them meant the voiding of the care, oversight and charity towards one’s own family. The current status quo does just that. Here is another quote from Rushdoony that communicates much the same idea that Scriptures do call for the extension of hospitality and justice, but not an open-borders re-ordering of social life.

“To call for the modern, humanistic society with an open relationship to all men would have appeared to the Israelites as the ultimate tyranny. The law did not require any such a re-ordering of any man’s private life: It simply required justice in dealing with all men.”

Highest Regards Lovey,


Lovey wrote back,

Dear Pastor,

Part of your answer was that “immigration “brings down wages”? So we should keep wages artificially high by regulating the number of people that can live or move through a particular area? I guess we not thinking in terms of a free market economy.

When Rushdoony said we need to “take care of our own families” I am sure you are right an he meant extending more power to the government to interfere with the natural right of individuals to move about freely. Yep, that sounds like something Rushdoony would say.

Lovey Jardine

Dear Lovey,

Thank you for writing back. Let’s see if we can tease this out for you.

First, I am not the kind of Libertarian that you seem to be. I do not support this free market economy that you are championing because it is most certainly not a Free Market economy. What you are supporting is the Corporatism wherein the Mega-Corporations are in bed with the Mega-Government to the end of turning the rest of the citizenry into slaves for their pleasure and use. This current immigration “policy” enriches the Mega-rich class and destroys the middle class. Statistics (See George Borjas’ work)

clearly show that current policy means a transfer of wealth from the Middle class to the Mega Rich who are in bed with the Government class. I’m all for free markets when they are fair Markets but the game is rigged right now and I do not support a policy which destroys the infrastructure of the middle class in order to worship at the feet of Austrian Economics while at the same time serving the ends of creating a Globalist New World Order.

Second, per RJR, he was not the Libertarian that North is. North has been destroyed by his worshiping at the feet of Austrian economics.

Thirdly, I would challenge you on your individual natural rights language which is straight out of Enlightenment Humanism. Strictly speaking individuals have no natural rights. As Christians, we have duties. Only God has rights. In this case, per the first RJR quote, my duty and responsibility to care for my own is my particular responsibility. Since Biblical conduct is regulated by relationship my duty as a Christian to my family outstrips your Humanist idea of individual rights. I have already demonstrated in the first response how all of this impinges upon my duty to my family.

A good book to help you think through your whole “Individual Natural Rights” language is,

Fourth, you warn about artificially high wages but I hardly believe that anybody would make the case that we are currently living in a time where artificially high wages is a problem for our families which reflect the middle class. The real problem here is the artificially low wages that would result were we to turn this country into a huge sweatshop. Also, I would repudiate the idea that immigration restrictions necessarily lead to extending more power to the Government especially when the policies you are advocating concerning immigration works to the end of setting in concrete a Tyrannical state. The immigrants we are speaking of here are a natural constituency for the Marxist (Democratic) party. That party will use the votes of the immigration pattern to grow the Government into a centralized top down Usurping State. So, you chastise me for my alleged support of larger government because I want it to “provide for the common defense and yet your support of the current immigration imbroglio assures the rise of the totalitarian state. I fear you have not calculated the impact of Corporatism enough in your thinking Lovey. I also think that you need to listen to the RJR lectures where he points out that Libertarianism and Marxism are two sides of the same coin.

All the Best,


From the Mailbox — Pastor Bret, aren’t you ignoring the Biblical arguments of the NT regarding Exile?

Dear Pastor,

I read your recent post on “absolutizing the exile” and was struck by how you seem to ignore the Biblical arguments of the New Testament that explicitly refer to believers as exiles, strangers, and aliens. The New Testament absolutizes the exile experience for the Christian.

Hendrick Van Everouma

Dear Hendrick,

Thank you for your query. I shall seek to broaden on what I already wrote on the sermon in question. I did anticipate this objection by noting this,

“We understand because of our own antinomian unfaithfulness we are living in an age of Exile but there is no reason to absolutize this Exile as if it is the norm for all times and places. Scripture speaks repeatedly of the Triumph of Christ in time and space. The Kingdoms of this world are shattered by the rock cut out of the Mountain that rolls over the Kingdom statue. The Knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. The Kingdom of heaven leavens all. The mustard seed of Christianity becomes a great tree in which all the Nations (Birds) find refuge.

There is something altogether unseemly in a theology that says “’we’ve always lost, we are losing now, and we will only ever lose, though spiritually speaking that losing is really winning. If we want to be faithful we have to see ourselves as perpetual exiles in every generation.’”

Of course you know that in a 30 minute sermon matters have to be condensed and packed tightly. Further you know that there is no way you can take into the pulpit everything you’ve learned in your study. As such much that is good gets left on the cutting table.

As it pertains to Scripture, we are explicitly told that God’s people will inherit the earth. Don’t you agree that upon our inheritance (and remember our Hermeneutical methodology of “now, not yet”) of the earth it would be rather odd to speak of us as exiles in the earth we have inherited?

Further Scripture clearly teaches that with Christ’s victory (Resurrection, Ascension and Session) the age to come has inaugurated and is rolling back this present evil age. Would you really hold it to be the case that where God’s already present inaugurated Kingdom is expanding in a particular nation or people group so that Christ’s reign is respected and so that God’s Word is incarnated into Family, Education, Courts, Law, etc. that at that point God’s people are exiles in the sense of not belonging to such a Christian social order?

You see, knowing you as I do, the reason you insist on absolutizing the exile theme of Scripture is because you are an amillenialist in your eschatology, and so, being consistent, you must absolutize exile. At least some of your friends have a eschatology does not allow for speaking of realities like “Christian social order,” or “Christian Education” or “Christian Law,” or “Christian family.” As such, all that is left in such a “theology” is exile.

Of course I think your eschatology is under-realized and you think mine over-realized. But to suggest that I am ignoring NT arguments is, as we have seen, almost as if you are trying to steamroll me on this issue.

Other texts we might appeal to from the NT is when our Lord Christ said,

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”

Now if the ruler of this world was cast out with the cross then clearly exile does not need to be a theme that is absolutized in Scripture. Now, I quite agree that there is a “not yet,” to this “now,” but why should we absolutize the “not yet” with the absolutizing of “exile” and so not include the idea that “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever,” or, “For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.” Surely when the Kingdoms of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord at such a time God’s people will not be exiles. I know you think that won’t happen until Christ returns but for those of us who do not hold your eschatology we are required to object.

And of course there is Psalm 2

8 “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”

Of course we know that Christ has already been given the uttermost parts of the earth as His possession in principle and that He reigns now, but we look for that already present reign to progressively ever more manifest itself as the age to come keeps rolling back this present evil age.

You see, our disagreement here is that you see the fulfillment of these words as “spiritual,” while I see them as also spiritual but as also having corporeal impact upon real nations. Again, it is the difference between amillennial and postmillennial eschatology. I will pray for you that you do not under-realize the present age to come Kingdom if you will pray for me that I do not over-realize the present age to come Kingdom.

Now, we could take this a whole different direction by noting the problem you have by “absolutizing the exile” theme. Remember, that exile in the Scripture is typically associated with God’s judgment at His people’s disobedience. While I agree that there are epochs of exile, do you really want to suggest that God’s people are always under God’s exilic judgment until they die and go to heaven?

Well that is enough. Forgive me for going on and on but I reckoned that if you were having these thoughts others out there in the Internet land might also be having them as well and as such I wanted to go on and on just a wee bit.

Thanks for your question.

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