Twin Spin From A. A. Hodge & B. L. McAtee

“Millenarian missionaries have a style of their own. Their theory affects their word in the way of making them seek exclusively, or chiefly, to conversion of individual souls. The true and efficient missionary method is, to aim directly, indeed, at soul winning, but at the same time to plant Christian institutions in heathen lands, which will, in time, develop according to the genius of the nationalities. English missionaries can never hope to convert the world directly by units.”

A. A. Hodge
19th Century American Reformed Theologian
Missionary to India

1.) Note that Hodge is faulting here, by way of implication, R2K “theology.” R2K would discipline Hodge for daring to plant “Christian Institutions,” since Institutions by definition can not be Christian per R2K.

2.) One can’t help but wonder, following A. A. Hodge’s logic whether or not all missionary efforts geared to exclusively or chiefly the converting of individual souls is, by definition, “millenarian.” A. A. Hodge’s Postmillennialism did not allow him to either accept premillennial or amillennial efforts at Missions to be considered normative.

These two observations above set the table for seeing that R2K is really nothing but a stalking horse attempting to institutionalize amillennial thinking as being equated to the Reformed position. R2K is seeking to broom postmillennialism off the Reformed ecclesiastical scene. A. A. Hodge would have had nothing to do with R2K.

3.) Hodge’s desire to plant Christian Institutions as combined with his criticism of a Missionary effort that focuses on individuals only indicates that Hodge understood that the task of the Christian church is to disciple the Nations. Modern theology, whether R2K or Reformed, in general, has become Baptistified. It is Baptist thinking that accounts for thinking only of building the church by means of individuals while missing the covenant implications of Biblical Christianity. The paedo Reformed Church you’re attending is most likely just a wet baby Baptist church. The Reformed Chruch, as R2K indicates has forgotten how to think covenantally.

4.) Hodge’s quote indicates that he understood the whole idea of the one and the many. Hodge understands the importance of the many by rightly noting that individual souls must be evangelized. However, Hodge also understands the importance of the One by insisting that the Nation as a whole must be converted and discipled via the planting of Christian Institutions among nations.

5.) Note Hodge says that the method of Missions that seeks to only evangelize individuals is doomed to failure. As most missions agencies apply just this very method it calls into question supporting those mission agencies. Is the Lord Christ honored by a missionary effort that eschews His command to convert and disciple whole Nations?

6.) Pay attention to Hodge’s respect for nations. Obviously, Hodge has no vision for a multicultural global Christian world that is absent of the distinct genius of distinct nations. This whole idea that God desires a Christian New World Order where nations are eclipsed is utter nonsense.

7.) Hodge understood that non-postmillennial eschatology does missions in a way that does not expect to convert the world. That this is true for premillennialist is seen in the fact that they do not believe that the Kingdom of Christ will come until Christ returns. Therefore nations will not be converted and so Christian Institutions are nonsense. That this is true for amillennialists (especially R2k which is merely consistent amillennialism) is seen in the fact that they believe the Kingdom of Christ is spiritual and exactly equivalent to the Church.  As such Nations, Institutions, Cultures, Families, Education, Law, etc. cannot be converted and so cannot be Christian. Hodge would have found such thinking execrable.

9.) Hodge understood that while Christian Institutions can’t convert, what Christian Institutions can do is, by God’s grace and providence, provide a contextual background against which their individual Christianity and confession can make sense.  For example, when individual converts have a law order that applies Christianity to the social order a contextual background is provided wherein their Christianity is supported. For example, when individual converts have an Education order that educates in the context of presupposing the God of the Bible then a contextual background is provided wherein their Christianity more easily makes sense.

10.) When Hodge says, “A style of their own,” he is indicating that Millenarian “thinking” creates a different kind of Christian. “A style of their own” can only arise out of a “thinking of their own,” and a “thinking of their own,” indicates a different kind of Christian. Anybody familiar with the premill vs. postmill or the amill vs. postmill debate realizes that the people holding these respective positions lean into life quite differently. Indeed, I would say that this observation is so true that differences on eschatologies make for different kinds of Christians as much as differences on soteriologies. Just as Arminians and Calvinists are different in their character and personality because of what they believe so the same is true with people who hold varying eschatologies. They are indeed each a people of their own.

8.) So we learn from this one quote, per Hodge,

a.) That premillennial missions is not Biblical
b.) That R2K “theology” is not Biblical
c.) That disrespect for nations as nations is not Biblical
d.) That Institutions can be Christian just as they can be Heathen
e.) That nations as nations are to be discipled
f.) Converting the world is our goal
g.) That the One and the Many must always be kept before us
h.) That the Western Reformed world has largely suffered Baptistification
i.) That differing eschatology makes for different kinds of Christians and so different versions of Christianity.

“The proposal of a non-religious basis (for education) is something novel not found anywhere in the experience of the past. To carry the theory out the language itself will have to be revolutionized and the dictionary itself expurgated; for its terminology, as well as that of the law of England is full of religion. And is it not a significant fact that in our great American Encyclopaedia there is no article on the word ‘God?’ If you ask how far I would advocate religious training, I reply, that the best practical system I have known was the old Scottish parochial system, though it is to be feared that, instead of getting back to that, things, as with the New England schools, are going in the opposite direction. Christianity should be recognized publicly by this country. Christ should be recognized in the law of our land as the Supreme Ruler of our nation. I am a member of a society striving for this end; the principle is right, whatever our success may be. We should insist that if the State has a right to educate she must not educate in infidel history and philosophy, but, in assuming the educator’s function, must obey the Scripture injunction regarding that function — to train the young in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord.'”  

A. A. Hodge (1823 – 1886)
19th Century American Reformed Theologian
Missionary to India

1.) There are whiffs of presuppositionalism in this quote by Hodge. Note how he implicitly refuses the idea of neutrality.

2.) R2K boys are advocating for something that, per Hodge, did not exist before the mid 19th century. Do you want novelty? Become R2K.

3.) Can you imagine what a storm of protest would be raised in a R2K Presbytery would be raised if a candidate for ordination up and said, “Christ should be recognized in the law of our land as the Supreme Ruler of our nation.” I shudder to contemplate it.

4.) The implication behind the insistence that “Christ should be recognized in the law of our land as the Supreme Ruler of our nation,” is that all nations are theocratic. Some God or god concept is going to be the Supreme Ruler of each nation whether lawfully recognized in a de Jure sense or recognized in a de facto sense. The whole notion, per R2K, that a nation can be a-religious and a-theocratic is nonsense, and only gains traction because of Anabaptist Roger William’s success in Rhode Island so many years ago.

Eschatological Musings

“The whole content of Paul’s preaching can be summarized as the proclamation and explication of the eschatological time of salvation inaugurated with Christ’s advent, death, and resurrection.”

Herman Ridderbos
Paul: An Outline of His Theology — pg, 44

For Christians, the Redemptive sequence of events initiated by the birth of Christ marks the future eschatological age as invading the present non-eschatological age. As such, for every Christian since the 1st advent the present crackles with the meaning that the future invests it with. For every Christian died with Christ, is now resurrected with Christ, is now seated with Christ in the heavenlies and is reigning now with Christ. Every Christian has the Holy Spirit who is the anticipation of the end as occupying the present. Every Christian has been translated from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God’s dear son. Every Christian is tasting of the powers of the age to come in their existential present. We are living in the eschatological latter days in our current existence because with Christ’s work the latter days have arrived.

Christians are like Tolkien’s elves who occupy two worlds at the same time. As being citizens in the age to come we are God’s agents of change as inveighing against this present evil age wherever we find it. We are those whom God uses to turn the wilderness of this present wicked age into the garden of the Lord so that it blooms with age to come ferocity.

All of this makes us a future-oriented people but it is a future orientation which is rooted and grounded in the past because the future orientation is dependent upon how the Christ event brought the future into the then present.

It is true that we are moving towards the future eschatological age but this is only true because in the Christ event the future eschatological age located and locates itself in the present.

All of this is why St. Paul could say, “We are more than conquerors.”

Random Thoughts Surrounding Advent

During this Advent season we celebrate that the King has come and that the Victory has been won. During this season there is no gloom and doom because Advent shrieks that the Lord of Host has sent His Captain to gain the certain victory. The age of the “not yet” which was front loaded in the Old Covenant is now past and the semi-eschatological age to come is now front loaded in the consciousness and disposition of God’s people. Advent pronounces that the Warrior King has come and in remembering Advent we remember we are a Warrior king class ourselves pursing the allegiance of every nation for the crown rights of the Lord Christ.

Advent reminds us that the Governments are now upon the shoulders of He who is the Prince of Peace. In belonging to Christ there is no negotiation in us with those whom Christ defeated in His Cross work. In leading captivity captive He has already defeated all His enemies so that we need not yield one inch to them.

Our victory is inevitable because the Victory has already been won.

If you can’t postmillennial during Advent then there is something wrong with your Christianity.

Be of good cheer … Christ has overcome the World.


During this advent season we must be mindful that the two Advents of our Lord Christ, past and future, are really one advent when viewed as coming as Inauguration of the King and Kingdom and coming as Consummation of the reign of King and Kingdom. Celebration of the Advent season reminds us of our “now, not yet” theology. The King and Kingdom has come. The King and Kingdom is coming.

Advent reminds us of the logical consistency of postmilliennialism. The King who has come bringing the Kingdom, will not come again until the purpose and intent of His inaugural coming flowers in the visible expansion of His already present Kingdom. The first advent, for the Postmillennialists, is a physical coming with a physical global impact that is capped by the second Advent of our Lord Christ. The Postmillennialist finds the consummative in the Inaugurative, yet not so much so as to blur the 2nd advent.

Amillennial Advent celebrations disconnect 1st advent from 2nd advent by positing that the first advent was a physical coming with only a spiritual impact. For the Amil, the “not yetness” of the Kingdom swallows whole the “nowness” of the Kingdom by turning the “nowness” of the Kingdom into an abstracted spirituality. The amil is all Inaugurative with no consummative for the here and now except in spiritual (gnostic?) terms.


During this Advent season we are reminded that the blood Mary spilled in birthing the Messiah, was promissory of the blood the Messiah would spill in birthing the re-creation.


1899 Vision of New World Order

How long has the vision for a New World Order been around?

Consider this quotation from a book by Rev. Charles Ferguson written in 1899,

“The ecclesiology of a democratic Catholicism is the ultimate form of social organization. The Church is to stand as the ecumenical democracy, the international republic of humanity in the day when the superstition of State sovereignty shall become incredible and the huge, meaningless political aggregates shall lose their strength. The strength of the wrangling empires is in their mutual jealousy and fear — a relic of the feudal tradition and the old ethnic isolation. Already the profounder antagonisms are not those that separate nations, but those that separate classes. Men are drawn together in these days not by the blood- bond, but by unanimity in ideals; as the new social order is born not of the flesh but of the spirit. The hulks of empire may rot by the sea for a time, but the life and motion will go out of them with the rise of the tide of catholic democracy…

The genetic kind of faith which is the very breath of the modern spirit, which is the spring of science and of humanizing enterprise, which believes, in spite of doubt, that this unintelligible world is at bottom reasonable, confronting the antagonisms of classes and nations with a fixed assurance that there is a justice that is best for all, making the strong the willing slaves of the weak, and convincing the people of the equality of souls ” the faith that is preparing the triumph of democracy, creating a new and inspiring literature and clearing the way for a commerce that shall claim the markets for the man ” this faith is not bred in sectarian churches.
And no reform of the sects will avail to produce such faith, no revival of their spirits, no purification, disinfection or purgation. The quickening of the desire to improve their spiritual condition would but intensify the evil. It is necessary to unchurch the sectarian churches before they can serve the common cause of souls. Their existence is a contradiction, and their safety is to turn against themselves.
The modern democratic order is the true continuator of the historic Church. And the success of that order is the success of the Great Adventure.”


McAtee Contra Van Drunen Regarding The Family

A response to this

“Rather than being an additional fourth life sphere alongside these (church, state, and culture), the household or family is the foundation and the model of these other three life spheres. The family possesses a religious moral element in its piety, a juridical element in its parental authority and sibling affection, and an element of culture in family nurture. All three life spheres lie embedded within the family in a complex way, and each is connected to the family. Since the Kingdom of God consists of the totality of all goods, here on earth one finds its purest image and most faithful representation in the household family.”

Herman Bavinck
“The Kingdom of God, The Highest Good.”

In a recent “Modern Reformation” article R2K Maestro Dr. David Van Drunen (Hereinafter DVD) concedes that the the family is important, while at the same time warns Christians to not get too hung up on family changes that are occurring within our broader culture. DVD informs us that there is a real danger that we Christians would emphasize the importance of the institutional family so much that we might fall into the danger of forgetting the importance of the institutional Church. DVD writes this article in order to make sure we don’t make that mistake.

What DVD doesn’t tell the reader explicitly is that DVD does not believe in the idea of the “Christian family.” Oh, DVD hints at this conviction, but he does not come right out and say, “the idea of the Christian family is a myth.” Yet, it is precisely because DVD does not believe in the reality of Christian family that allows him to warn against those who are warning about the impact of the demise of the Christian family. For DVD, while family is important, the incremental destruction of the Christian family model, while unfortunate, is not something, that Christians should get too ginned up about, especially if that means that care for the institutional church suffers because of too much concern for the institution of the family.

At this point, already, DVD introduces a false dichotomy into his “reasoning.” He posits that the Church Institution is more important then the Family institution, thus suggesting that the two institutions are somehow in competition, when in point of fact these two Institutions are complimentary. Together they are the left leg and the right leg of Christian walking and the demise of either institution is the demise of the ability to walk without crutches.

That the two Institutions can not be separated the way that DVD is seeking to do is seen in the way that God has ordained that the health of the Church is derived from the root of its supporting Christian families. In Scripture God has given us an integrated model where the Christian family and the Christian Church, while being distinct jurisdictions, cannot be divorced from one another. This is seen in the reality of our covenant theology. God has ordained that the Church is built up by His faithfulness to the family in their generations.

“He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations…” (Psalm 105:8)

“That those generations are thought of in terms of the family is seen in the commentary of Psalm 105:8 in Psalm 103:17,

“But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children…”

Indeed when God promises the vast blessings of salvation to Abraham, He does so in terms of “all the families of the earth.”

 Gen.12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

This indicates that God thinks that family is important.

This relation between Church as institution and family as institution is put on display every time a Christian family brings their child to be baptized by a Christian minister in the context of God’s Christian Church. God’s faithfulness to His Church as institution is guaranteed by His faithfulness to His covenant as dwelt in by the Christian family. To mark the kind of false dichotomy between the two such as DVD enters into is both un-scriptural and unnatural.

DVD insists that it is the Church as institution which is the centrality in our Christian lives. If one did not know better one would swear, that with such a statement, one was listening to a Roman Catholic Priest and not a Reformed Doctor of the Church. Rome long taught and still teaches the “centrality of the church in our Christian lives.” To disagree with this DVD conclusion is not to dismiss the importance of the Church as institution but merely is to note the Protestant emphasis that insisted the centrality of God in the totality of our Christian lives. The centrality of God in our families, the centrality of God in our Churches, and the centrality of God in our social orders. By insisting on the centrality of the Church in our Christian lives vis-a-vis the centrality of the family DVD both creates a false dichotomy  (dare we say a hyphenated dualism?) — in our Christian lives and gets very close to not realizing that God alone is to be central in all our doings.

In his article DVD damns the family with feint praise. For all that DVD does in speaking up the family he undoes it all with his insistence that there is no such thing as a Christian family. DVD goes so far as to suggest that family life, unlike Church life, is not part of the Kingdom of God. With such a sentiment DVD clearly circumscribes the Kingdom of God to the Church. And yet we have all those Kings (Rev. 21:24) and Nations (Rev. 22:2)  in the new Jerusalem, a reality that cannot exist without retaining extended family categories. Kings don’t make sense without Nations and Nations don’t make sense without blood families. When DVD insists that our family relations do not follow us into the eternal Kingdom one wonders if DVD is saying that in the eschaton we will no longer be sons, daughters, Fathers, or Mothers, Aunts or Uncles, Husbands or Wives? I assume though that DVD agrees that the Son of David remains sitting on the throne? If we do not retain these familial identity markers maybe we should go all the way and dismiss the idea of other identity markers such as a retention of maleness or femaleness in the eschaton? But, again, we have “Kings” in heaven, and that also requires Maleness as well as family connections. DVD’s eschaton begins to sound like a Gnostic excitable dream.

DVD makes this explicit when he writes, “This brings us to another reason why the church is ultimately more important than the family. While family relationships are temporal, relationships in the church are permanent. To put it another way, family relationships are natural and belong to this present age, while relationships in the church are eschatological and extend into the age to come.”  Is DVD saying that when I bump into my earthly Christian family member in the eschaton the relation we had as family members will be forgotten while what is remembered is that we attended and were part of the same visible Church?  Others may disagree, but I invoke the charge again of creeping gnosticism. All that matters in the DVD’s eschaton are spiritual realities. The corporeal realities on earth are no more.

DVD rightly notes that our allegiance to God must be higher than our allegiance to family. This is true. What DVD does not say is that our allegiance to God must also be higher than our allegiance to the institutional visible Church. All because or allegiance to God must be higher than or family allegiance in no way proves that our allegiance to the visible Church must be higher than our allegiance to our family … unless of course one is identifying the visible institutional Church with God.  Isn’t it good to know that a Reformed Doctor of the Church would never make that kind of basic reasoning and category error?

DVD’s confusion on this issue is magnified by a quick look at Scripture. When God desires to give His people symbolic speech in order to understand His person He often uses the language drawn from the family. The God of the Bible compares Himself not only to a Father who taketh pity upon His children (Ps. 103:13), but He also compares Himself to a Mother who cannot forget her nursing child (Is. 49:15). In Hebrews 12:6 God chastens like a Father, while in Isaiah He comforts like a Mother (Isaiah 66:13). In Matthew 6 we are taught to address God as our Father in Heaven.

When DVD writes, “Family is clearly not the most important thing in Scripture. Our relationships to and within the church are ultimately more important than our family relationships,” he puts the cats among the pigeons. First, we might ask, “What if the Church is comprised of a series of extended and related family units?” There was a time when that was not as far fetched as it is today. Second, it is not clear that the relationships within a Christian Church are more important than the relationships to and within Christian family.  It is certainly not clear when the Christian church in question has departed from the faith as much as the Church in the West has done. Thirdly, as God alone is absolute, loyalty to Him trumps both loyalty to the family or to the visible institutional Church when there is a contradiction between God and family or God and the visible church.

When DVD writes, “Family is clearly not the most important thing in Scripture. Our relationships to and within the church are ultimately more important than our family relationships,” it is like saying that “Our Right legs are clearly not the most important thing in walking. Our relationship with and to our left legs are ultimately more important than our relationship to our right legs.” It is a false dichotomy. It presupposes a false dualism. It is a false creation of a hyphenated life. One needs to note here that it is in the family where catechism is supposed to happen (Deut. 6).  It is the family where children first learn about covenantal government. In the family children begin to form an idea of God via God’s parental covenant representatives. The home is the child’s first notion of heaven. None of this is to say that the Church is less important than family. It is only to say that the family and the Church are equally ultimate before God who is alone absolute. DVD’s insistence to the contrary has introduced a false dichotomy in the thinking of Christians.  This is the fruit of R2K thinking where the Kingdom is only applicable to Church life.

No one doubts the passages that DVD cites as teaching that loyalty to the Lord Christ is above loyalty to family but what DVD glosses over in those passages he cites is that those passages are not teaching loyalty to the visible Church as being equal to loyalty to the Lord Christ. They are teaching loyalty to Christ above the highest competing loyalty in existence imaginable, whether that loyalty would be to family or to the visible Church. It is interesting though that Christ chose “loyalty to family” as the highest competing loyalty in existence imaginable that might conflict with loyalty to Himself as opposed to choosing membership in the “Israel of God” at that time.  My objection here is that DVD is conflating loyalty to the visible institutional Church with loyalty to the God of the Bible. In these time they are seldom the same. Really, to put this kind of emphasis on loyalty to the visible institutional Church, apart from seriously needed qualifications borders on a cult like loyalty towards the visible institutional Church.

If family is only penultimate vis-a-vis the Church then what are all those genealogies doing in the Bible? God’s inspired writers certainly saw that family was important.  If family is disintegrated in heaven then why does Jesus tell a parable where Lazarus cries out for relief to “Father Abraham” who is in heaven? If family is only penultimate how was it a source of comfort when the prophetess Huldah told Josiah he would be “gathered to his fathers” (2 Kgs. 22:20)? What comfort would there be if he could not recognize his “fathers”? Was he to dwell in eternity, among his own family, as a total stranger? If family is penultimate then why are the leaves of the trees, in the eschaton, for the healing of the Nations? If family is penultimate why is it important that, in the eschaton, the Lord Christ remains “The Son of David?”

Consistent with this observation is the desire of DVD to have it both ways. On one hand family relationships disappear in the eschaton, while on the other hand DVD still insists that in the eschaton we will still think in familial categories. DVD offers, “There will be only one family in heaven, made up of millions of brothers and sisters—with Jesus as our husband (Eph. 5:25-32) and brother (Heb. 2:11-12).” But if family is only temporal, per DVD, then how is it that we will still be able to think in temporal categories in the eternal realm? Words like “Brothers” and “sisters,” and “husbands” don’t retain any meaning unless their originating referent point remains operative.  In a eschaton where familial categories no longer exists thinking of someone as a “Husband” or a “Brother” is the same thinking of them as a “dxils” or a “mizeek.”

When DVD says, “Every Christian will enter heaven single” I hear more of John Locke then I do St. John. How very Libertarian of him. Now, let no one mistake me to be saying that our salvation is not by Grace alone. Instead let me be heard to be saying that such a anarchistic atomization and individualization of heaven as offered here by DVD could only happen to someone who has both been stripped of their Reformed covenantal sensibilities and has bellied up to the bar for too many Boilermakers at St. Locke’s bar and grill.  Scripture teaches we are gathered to Christ because the promise was to the Fathers and to their children (that embarrassing family language again) and as many as the Lord God called. Gathered by households on Earth there is no reason to think the idea of household disappears  when entering the eschatological household of God.

It is not often when one can read a piece by a Reformed Doctor of the Church that is both too Romish, too Libertarian and too Gnostic all at the same time but DVD has accomplished just that.  Of course all of this is primarily driven by DVD’s

1.) R2K theology that commands that families cannot and must not be considered “Christian.”

2.) R2K theology which insists that the “Kingdom of God” is limited and defined only in the context of the Institutional Church.

3.) R2K hard dualism that sees little or no continuity between this life and the life to come.

4.) Embrace of Lockean social theory as extended to defining the eschaton where atomized individuals only exist

Much much more could be said in refuting  DVD’s article. I think I could easily squeeze three more essays in refuting the details of his meanderings but enough has been said in order to point out the errors in this R2K version of Christianity.  In the end, if we fail to emphasize the Biblical model of the Family, given the times we are living in it will not only be the Christian family that goes into a long dark age but it will be the Christian Church also that continues in its already long established dark age residency.