I’ll start this post by referencing one of the comments on the thread from which this fisking comes. One of the comments insinuated that I was a uber Republican. Just, FYI … I haven’t voted Republican in 20 years. Just one continuous stream of errant assumptions flows from R2K’ers.
The good Rabbi posits once again that I am a dunce (along with all 2kers) for not recognizing that the church and the state are all part of one cosmic government under the authority of God. (One of his fans suggests I am not regenerate.) Actually, I do understand this. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of divine sovereignty and powers delegated to parents, churches, and magistrates knows that God’s rule extends to the secondary means by which he orders all things.
1.) I never posited that Darryl was a “dunce.” I said he was out of his element. I got that line from Darryl himself as he addressed Mr. Doug Sowers saying,
“… Doug, you’re out of your element.”
A little “sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander treatment in my previous title.
2.) Still, I do believe that Darryl is out of his element. The element is Historical traditional Reformed understanding of Church State relations per the original Reformed Confessions. Even Darryl admits that his reading is nouveau. Darryl wrote in his post “If Theonomy, Then No Machen (or United States),”
Or maybe theonoomy and the original Reformed confessions’ teachings about the magistrate lost when the Reformed and Presbyterian churches embraced the politics associated with a certain eighteenth-century republic founded in North America.
3.) Darryl has a funny way of expressing God’s cosmic sovereignty when he insist that the Magistrate has naught to do with God’s law. (See previous post on Iron Ink, “Straight to the Hart.”)
The problem for the Rabbi is that he goes back and forth between this cosmic government and the specific relations between nations and their churches. Talking about divine sovereignty and human institutions in the abstract is one thing. Talking about the relations between church and state in a particular polity is another.
The signs of this confusion come when the Rabbi concludes:
1.) Darryl is saying Calvin was wrong and that Geneva was a unbiblical model. Sinful Calvin. Sinful Geneva. I’m sure glad we have a clearly superior model working for us now in these uSA that we can look to for an example.
2.) In an ideal social order the Pastors serve God by obeying God’s revelation for the Church and civil magistrates serve God by obeying God’s revelation for the Civil realm. The Pastors don’t work for the Government and the Magistrates don’t work for the Church. Both, however are subject to God in His revelation. This isn’t that difficult.
First, I am wrong to challenge the superiority of Geneva even though Christ and Paul did not establish a polity anything like Geneva. This would suggest that the Rabbi is not pleased with the early church that did nothing to make sure that the magistrate was following God’s law. Personally, I’d rather be in the camp of criticizing Calvin than the one that questions Christ. But most critics of 2k never really look at what’s happening in Acts to understand what the church’s mission properly is. Instead, they pine for the days when pontiffs in Rome were christening Holy Roman Emperors.
1.) And The problem with Darryl is because he gets it wrong in the abstract he also gets it wrong in the concrete. Darryl has it wrong in both abstract and concrete.
2.) We have on record that Darryl thinks that Calvin was wrong. Obviously Darryl would also have to disagree with Knox also when Knox referenced Geneva as, “the most perfect school of Christ that was ever on earth since the days of the apostles.”
3.) Of course Darryl’s hermeneutic of discontinuity differs from my Reformed hermeneutic of continuity that allows me to see that God’s word does teach a polity like Geneva. When it comes to questions like these I don’t start with the NT. I start with all of the Scripture. Also, keep in mind that the implication of what Darryl writes above is that Calvin’s position was in defiance of Christ’s position.
4.) The early Church did do something to make sure that the Magistrate took seriously God’s law. The martyrs of the Early Church died to force the first commandment on the Magistrates. In their deaths they made sure the Magistrate took seriously God’s law, and eventually, by their Martyrdom, the civil realm became Christendom.
5.) Darryl obviously skips Acts 19 when he reads the book of Acts. In Acts 19 we see the effect on the common realm when Reformation visits a people. St. Paul spends two years reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus and as a result of that teaching and Miracles occurring confirming the Gospel, God was pleased to give Reformation. This turned everything upside down in Hart’s common realm. The common culture of occult was extinguished. The economics of the common realm was so threatened that there was riots by those whose livelihood was threatened by the advance of the Kingdom of Christ. Indeed, because of the success of the Gospel, the religion that drove the culture was threatened to be overturned in favor of a Christ informed culture. Diana, the Queen of Ephesus was on the ropes as King Christ, via Reformation, was overturning everything in the common realm.
Of course, in R2K, that isn’t supposed to happen. In R2K, souls are saved, but culture, by definition, can’t be Christian.
So, in short Darryl … yes I read the book of Acts and yes I know that the theme of the book of Acts is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. Do you read the book of Acts?
Second, the Rabbi takes as soon as he gives. Geneva by his reckoning was not an “ideal” social order because the pastors did work for the government. So Brett is no fan of Calvin’s town either, but this leaves him with no historical home (maybe that’s why he kvetches so much).
This from David Hall’s “The Geneva Reformation and America’s Founding,”
“One of Calvin’s demands before returning to Geneva in September of 1541 was that a presbytery … be established. When it came to replace ineffective centralized structures, rather than opting for an institution that strengthened his own hand, this visionary reformer lobbied for decentralized authority, lodged with many officers. He also insisted that the church be free from political interference — separation of jurisdictions helped to solidify the integrity of the church too — and his 1541 Ecclesiastical Ordinances specifically required such a separation….
Calvin’s and Farel’s first priority upon their return was the establishment of the Ecclesiastical Ordinances which allowed the Church to supervise morals and teaching of its own pastors without the hindrance from any other authorities. The sovereignty of the Consistory to monitor the faith and practice of the Church was legitimized by this Ordinances. This arrangement marked a departure form the traditional union of Church and State under Roman Catholic auspices…. With the establishment of the Ordinances, Geneva created a unique Christian commonwealth whereby church and state cooperated in preserving religion as the key to their new identity….
What is special about Geneva is the assumption of both church and state conformed to the will of God, and each had its proper sphere in the Christian commonwealth.”
Maybe Darryl should read Hall’s book before he implies that Geneva was a Protestant version of Roman Catholicism’s union of Church and State?
I know where my home is Darryl … and it’s not Paris, circa 1789.
Darryl plods on,
Third, this is easy stuff. Yes, despite the long and troubled history of relating religion to politics, from Israel to Kuyper’s Netherlands, it’s not difficult. Pass the mints.
It’s not difficult since the heavy lifting has been done by Calvin, Bucer, Ponet, Viret, Althusius, Beza, Buchanan, Bullinger, Daneau, Goodman, Farel, Hotman, Knox, Rutherford, Vermigli, the authors of Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, and a host of others. The problem that Darryl and the R2K’ers are having is that,
a.) they don’t seem to be familiar with these men
b.) they are trying to reinvent the wheel.
So, no… this isn’t that difficult. Certainly there continues to be disagreements, but it is not that difficult when dealing with R2K’ers when they are making this stuff up as they go.
One last point to notice is this notion of an “ideal social order.” The Rabbi presents himself as a true-blue political conservative and loves to deconstruct the social engineers on the Left who are trying to usher in the kingdom of justice and equality. He should know then that conservatives don’t believe in ideal social orders. They refuse to immanentize the eschaton. It’s the Stalins of the world who actually believe ideal social orders are possible. Conservatives simply endure the infirmities and woes of this world.
Turns out life in this world is difficult.
It is true that conservatives don’t seek Utopias but to speak of an “ideal social order,” in my jargon, is only to speak of that social order towards which God’s renewed people should be aiming. It is no different then to speak of sanctification in terms of reaching an “ideal character.” Darryl tries to read to much into the phrase in order to try and discredit me. It is a clever but unsuccessful ploy.
And I do believe that God’s ideal social order is possible. Not because men are going to usher in it — sans the techniques of the Stalins of this present wicked age. But I believe it is possible because the Holy Spirit is going to continually, incrementally and progressively bring to pass what is already true in principle and shall be one day true consumatively. I am a postmillennialist. This is what the Scriptures teach. This is what I confess.
So, it is not I, nor my ilk, who will immantize the eschaton, but the Lord Christ who will as, His will is increasingly done on earth as it is in heaven that His already present Kingdom comes.
For He must reign til He has put all enemies under his feet. As such, the day is coming in space and time history where the Kings will kiss the Son.
And yes life in this world is difficult. Living with R2K is enough to make the strongest of Reformed men weep.