We continue to consider this well intended but aberrant notion of intrusion ethics that has been advocated by some in the Reformed Church. We must hastily note that those who would advocate that God’s law for the community in the Old Covenant was an intrusion ethic that was an incarnation of the ethic of the eschatological Kingdom that was withdrawn back into the future eschatological Kingdom with the coming of the New Covenant still contend that God’s law in the Old Covenant is applicable in a personal and individual fashion. The discontinuities that are advocated by ‘intrusionists’ in the differing expressions of the one covenant of grace are not discontinuities that apply on a personal individual level but rather they apply only as it pertains to corporate living. In short, ‘intrusionists’ believe that Christians are still held accountable to God’s moral law on an individual and personal basis but they believe that the case law, which answered how the Moral law should be applied in concrete situations in the life of the covenant community, is no longer something to which the present Christian community should be concerned with except as those now defunct case laws foreshadowed Christ. This teaching that voids the Old Covenant case law thus supports a complimentary conviction of the ‘intrusionists.’ This complementary conviction teaches that civil law that is eventually developed for communities in today’s world is to be legislated by a process that must be arrived at by way of believer and unbelievers working together under the superintendence of ‘Natural Law theory’ in a ‘common realm’ where Christ’s Lordship is exercised in kind of indirect and absent fashion. One ‘intrusionists’ has even said that ‘Christ is Lord in a different way’ in these common realms (non-Church realms).
Those who embrace ‘intrusion ethics’ in the Reformed Church today thus believe that the Church as the Church has virtually no business speaking in the public square today concerning social issues. Theoretically, a Reformed Pastor might go so far as to say that it is not in the Church’s portfolio to speak to issues like Homosexual marriage or polygamy since those things pertain to public policy and not to public proclamation of Christ and individual salvation. Now, certainly ‘intrusionists’ believe that some individual Christians might be called to speak out on these issues but if they appeal to Old covenant case law which was a proto-expression of the ethic of eschatological Kingdom removed in the New Covenant they would be speaking without Divine Fiat.
Further ‘intrustionists’ because of this hermeneutic and the implications thereof also believe that in the New Testament age the Christian Church must take a place of only common privilege along with other religious institutions. This seemingly puts ‘intrustionists’ in the position of holding (and teaching?) that cultural pluralism is the Biblical model for the New Testament age. Depending upon how far an ‘intrusionist’ Pastor pushes this it seems that contrary to their mantra that the Scripture isn’t about non Church realms they really do believe that Scripture teaches something about non Church realms. This expresses itself when high profile ‘intrustionists’ will say things like “Christendom was a mistake. We should apologize for it and get over it.” This penchant of cultural pluralism is also seen when ‘intrustionists’ insist that the civil magistrate has no responsibility to enforce the first table of God’s law, and this in spite of literally reams and reams of quotes from Reformed Theologians throughout History who have taught explicitly to the contrary. (See a separate post for a sampling of these quotes.)
Now, if we tease this out just a moment we must realize what the ‘intrustionist’ is advocating. If we believe that culture is naught but the outward manifestation of a people’s inward belief (theology incarnated) and if intrusionists believe, confess and teach that it is Biblical to desire cultural pluralism what they have in effect done is sanctioned competitive idolatry in our culture if only because cultural pluralism can not exist without theological pluralism. Intended or unintended what ‘intrusionists’ are doing by their theological misadventures is giving sanction to the thing that is currently the greatest mortal danger to Christianity and that is multi-culturalism.
Now we must take this one step further. Currently the ‘intrustionists’ are giving hell to a group of men called Federal Visionists (which is another series of articles for another time) and it is quite likely that at least some (ok… maybe many) of the Federal Visionists deserve it, but the irony of it all is that if the ‘intrusionists’ end up winning this battle royal’ that is currently taking place in Reformed denominations today what will result is a tragedy every bit as disastrous as could be cooked up by the wildest eyed Federal Visionist. Intrustionist victory will lead to ecclesiastical isolationism as the Church retreats further and further from larger cultural issues as it continues to disingenuously assert that the church has nothing to do with culture. (I say disingenuously because intrustionists, by their retreat, are teaching that the Church has something to do with culture and that is that it has nothing to do with culture, which of course creates a vacuum that will be filled with pagan gods and churches that are not as retiring as the God of the ‘intrustionists.’) The ‘intrustionist’ has forgotten that every cult creates its own culture. The Christian cult creates a Christian culture. The Muslim cult creates a Muslim culture. The humanist cult creates a Humanists culture. It is nothing less then irresponsible ignorance to suggest that the Church shouldn’t be concerned with cultural issues and it is blindness of an even more culpable nature to suggest that in the New covenant age we cannot, like our Old Covenant brethren, go to the law and the testimonies in order to determine right from wrong in every area of life with the guidance of the principle of general equity to inform us.
Pressing on we note that when the ‘intrusionist’ insists that the application or moral rule changes in accord with different conditions (different epoch, different people, different culture) it seems that this is just a ‘Christian’ way of reincarnating Joseph Fletcher’s situational ethics. Further when the ‘intrustionist’ pumps up Natural law theory as the structure that must be appealed to by both believers and unbelievers in the shared (neutral?) common realm he seems to be forgetting that while the general revelation that accounts for Natural law theory is indeed inescapable and unremitting what the ‘intrusionist’ is not taking into account is that the unbeliever, as he becomes more and more epistemologically self-conscious in defiance of God, is going to, because of the noetic effects of sin that causes him to increasingly suppress the truth in unrighteousness, discover a Natural Law that God fearing Christians won’t find either Natural or lawful. The ‘intrusionist’ forgets that while a Natural Law might indeed exist the unbeliever has an axe to grind that will lead him to invert all the information that Natural Law might indeed be sending him. A few examples will suffice. Every Communist worth his Marx will insist that Natural Law teaches a materialistic dialectic. Every Muslim worth the jizya tax will insist that Natural Law teaches the virtues of Jihad. Every Humanist worth his pitiful materialism will insist that Natural law teaches the brain secretes thought the way the liver secretes bile. It is incredible given the beating that Natural Law theory has taken in the 20th century that anybody, let alone a Reformed Christian, would want to try and resurrect it. I guess once the Biblical law is held to be void there is only so many places that a person can go.