Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California recently tweeted a link to an older piece of his which contains the following section:
“Through the history of the church there have been two great errors on this question. One is to identify the common realm with the kingdom of God. This was the great error of Constantinianism, in which the civil magistrate was made more than a minister of God (Rom 13:4) authorized to use the sword for the preservation of this-worldly civil peace but in which he was considered to be God’s minister for the advancement of the gospel. There is no evidence in New Testament for such a notion. The advance of the gospel is considered to be a purely spiritual and ecclesiastical matter.” Heidelblog, August 2, 2016
Some observations on 2 highlighted quotes:
1. “…in which he was considered to be God’s minister for the advancement of the gospel. There is no evidence in New Testament for such a notion.”
First of all, note the recurring latent Marcionite hermeneutic used by the R2k sect, which invariably appeals to the New Testament without bringing the Old Testament into view. The O.T. is replete with examples of the magistrate charged with working to advance the Kingdom.
Second, note Clark makes his New Testament appeal with an “argument from silence”, which is fallacious reasoning. By this hermeneutic, one could argue for legalizing bestiality since the New Testament is silent on it. Recall that one R2k WSCAL grad already has made a similar argument.
Rather, Reformed Christians see all of Scripture as useful for instruction and correction, even in the arena of civics/public ethics. The God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament.
2. “The advance of the gospel is considered to be a purely spiritual and ecclesiastical matter.”
This recurrent feature of the R2k sectarians is to ignore Belgic Confession Article 36 which states that the magistrate is charged with “removing every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every divine aspect of worship” and does so “in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Christ may make progress, and every anti-Christian power may be resisted.” It should be clear that the magistrate, in its designated sphere, has a coordinate protective role around the church, so that through the preaching of the gospel the Kingdom of Christ may advance. The means employed by the church and the magistrate are different, but the God-honoring goal is the same. This should not be hard to see.
The R2k folks have a choice: either write an overture to amend/delete Belgic 36 or submit themselves to the Reformed confession they subscribed to uphold. If they choose neither of these options and continue on their present deconstruction project to segregate Christian principles from the civil realm, then the churches have a choice to make.
There is a third option that Van Der Molen failed to mention. The R2K boys could try and pass what is called a “gravamen.” This would be the attempt to write in a permanent exception to the Belgic Confession of Faith — Article 36.