Coffee Chit Chat Time Between Dr. Hart and Pastor Bret

Dr. D. G. Hart, renown teacher, author and theologian in the Reformed church today stopped by for metaphorical coffee and a chat yesterday. I recorded our session so that readers could benefit.

Dr. D. G. Hart writes,

Jetbrane: you write: “R2Kt virus goes on to say that the Church as the Church must not even seek to use moral persuasion when it comes to issues that are non-salvific (narrowly defined) that apply to the public square. According to R2Kt virus thinking the Church as the Church cannot speak to these issues because the Bible doesn’t speak to these issues.”

I don’t know of anyone who holds this implication of what you perceive to be the 2k view. The church may use its power of persuasion all the time (and does every time a minister steps into the pulpit and proclaims the word of God). The question is one of jurisdiction. When the church declares the word of God, in worship or in its courts, it is using powers of persuasion all over the place.

So, D. G., does this mean that I can expect Reformed Churches that believe in R2K theology to preach from the pulpit on the evils when the State seeks to take on the prerogatives of God? Does this mean that I can expect Reformed Churches that believe in R2Kt to proclaim from the pulpit that God’s prohibition against theft applies to confiscatory taxation of the citizenry by the State? Does this mean that that I can expect Reformed Churches that hold to R2k views to proclaim from the pulpit clearly against the evils of abortion and homosexuality? Does this mean that I can expect Reformed Churches that hold to R2k to speak against ideologies like socialism, feminism, fascism, historicism, multi-culturalism, etc. that so influence our culture that are anti-Christ at their core?

I would like to attend services where some of these public square issues are addressed by graduates of Westminster West. But, given what you say later that won’t ever happen because you believe that the Church is not charged with speaking to those issues since that would be like trying to discipline other people’s children.

What is more the 2k position in no way denies that the Word of God speaks to matters of morality that affect civil society. Clearly the Bible says things about lying, cheating, stealing and killing, and the state makes laws about such things. But simply because the church ministers the word of God on these “issues” does not mean the church has jurisdiction over civil or political affairs. The 2k position says that it doesn’t. (It’s like a father who disciplines children; his status as an administrator of offspring discipline does not give him the authority to administer discipline to children of another father.)

First of all let’s keep in mind that two Kingdom theology can not be equated with what is being passed as two Kingdom theology by R2k types. Two Kingdom theology when handled by the Puritans was Two Kingdom but not Radical two Kingdom. Your version of two Kingdom theology is not THE version of two Kingdom theology.

Second, in the first blockquote you insisted that my perceptions of R2K are nowhere present and yet in the second blockquote you prove that my perceptions are correct. In the portion you quoted from an earlier statement of mine I said, “R2Kt virus goes on to say that the Church as the Church must not even seek to use moral persuasion when it comes to issues that are non-salvific (narrowly defined) that apply to the public square,” and now you are saying that the Church may not speak to the civil realm because that would be like a Father disciplining children that were not his. I would say that my perception in the italicized portion immediately above has been confirmed by no less of an authority then you.

D. G., you keep injecting elasticity into that word “jurisdiction.” When the Church speaks to public square issues it is not taking jurisdiction. Jurisdiction belongs to the civil realm. What the Church is doing is providing godly counsel. Using your illustration, when the Church seeks to speak to the public square of the culture it is not the case of the Church taking jurisdiction if only because the Church can be (and usually is) ignored. If the Church had jurisdiction she couldn’t be ignored. Rather it is the case of offering advice to the parents of other children who are tearing up the shared living space.

Keep in mind that when you say that Church doesn’t have the responsibility to speak to the public square that is just another way of saying that it doesn’t have the responsibility to correct bad theology. I say this because all action in the public square is the result of and manifestation of bad theology. I can’t understand why any Christian would say that it is not the Church’s role to correct bad theology wherever bad theology is found.

Third, I realize that R2Kt will speak to the personal and individual ethics of those who confess Christ. I’ve nowhere denied that. What I’ve denied is the willingness of R2Kt types to correct the bad theology of the Public Square that leads to a creation of a culture that impresses and shapes Christians to think in a anti God honoring way. This unwillingness to speak to these issues then is compounded when some of these same Christians send their children to be indoctrinated into a pagan covenant by sending them to the State Churches.

One more correction, the 2k view says nothing about pluralism being desirable. It does concede that pluralism exists and it argues that it gives the church a way to minister in a pluralist setting without seceding or rebelling against the existing powers. But many 2k people would argue that they’d prefer to live in a less pluralistic society.

I’ve read other R2k people advocate pluralism. I will notch this up to disagreement in the R2K camp.

But… FYI… pluralism doesn’t exist, or if it does exist it exists in the same way that pluralism existed in ancient Rome, which is to say that it exists as long as nobody takes their God or gods seriously and instead resolve to live, move and have their being in the State.

Where you and I differ probably the greatest is over your contention that the 2k view will make the church impotent. Here you hold up Mass. Bay as a model of separating the two powers, civil and ecclesiastical, and I suppose as maintaining its vitality. But the 2k view argues that the collapsing of membership in the civil society and in the church, as all state churches do, does not make the church potent. In fact, it was one of the chief ways by which the church became corrupted.

Look at what happened to the Puritans’ Half Way Covenant. Infant baptism was not simply a church matter — as in the 2k view — but also a civil matter — as in the anti-2k view. And what happened to the Puritan churches then. They had to fudge biblical teaching to accommodate the demands of civil society. (This, btw, is also what happened even to churches after the separation of church and state. When the PCUSA was the most vigorous in asserting its public influence — say as its four-square support for the 18th Amendment or when John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State — it was a church fairly impotent theologically.)

All because one generation fudged doesn’t mean that the whole system is wrong. The problem isn’t the system but rather those who fudged their theology in the system. The problem was a lack of willingness to do Church discipline compounded by a pure church doctrine and the insistence that membership be anchored in a conversion “experience.”

We have not escaped the problems of a State Church D. G. Our unofficial official state Church is now the government schools. We have embraced putative pluralism in exchange for established churches and what we got in return was a state religion. We ditched the religio licita of Christianity and ended up embracing the religio licita of Humanism where the civil realm and the church realm remain collapsed.

Still, I am not arguing for a established state church as you seem to think I am. I am arguing that the Church speak to the bad theology that incarnates itself in our culture.

But let’s look for a point of agreement. Let’s agree that the Church must get its theology right before it can council the culture. I would go on to say that once we have it right it must speak to the bad theology that surrounds it in the culture. In my estimation Churches should be as or more concerned with teaching their people the wrongness of non-Reformed theologies as they are concerned with teaching their people the ungodliness of the theology that incarnates itself in our culture.

So the 2k view holds that the church is most vigorous when she is spiritual and eschews the temptation to reform society or back legislation or shape public policy. That seems to be what Paul was getting at when he talked about preaching and the cross being foolishness to the Greeks — the great political theorists — but the power of God unto salvation.

You keep on using that word “spiritual.” I do not think it means what you think it means. Spiritual realities are always behind legislation and public policy and so if the Church was being spiritual she would speak to these issues. Finally, the salvation that God brings is cosmic. It is not narrowly defined as being limited to the salvation of souls but rather extends to include the renewal of all things. That is the kind of salvation that we need to be concerned with.

What They Think About Theonomy

I know that this is perhaps getting old, but at the risk of beating a dead horse I offer another example of R2kt reasoning.

Mr. Dove,

I read theonomists and Jim Wallis to be saying that the Bible should be the norm for public life (as opposed to some formulation of general revelation). Because saints, either individually or collectively in the church, are the ones who have some inkling (by virtue of the HS) to understand the Bible correctly, the move to make the Bible the norm then also elevates those people and officers who are subject to the Word and minister it. I do not believe that God granted jurisdiction of civil society to the church in this age of redemptive history. He has to some believers whose vocation is that of public servant. How those folks balance their duties to the Constitution and to the Bible is tricky, just as tricky as it was for JFK to juggle the Constitution and the papacy, and for Mitt Romney to juggle the Mormon elders and the Constitution.

Dr. D. G. Hart
Response to letter inquiring whether he thought theonomists desired ecclesiocracy

To say that the Bible should be the norm for public life and to say that God has granted jurisdiction of civil society to the Church in this age is to say two very different things. A person could hold to the former without ever holding to the latter. Theonomists do believe that the Bible should be the norm for public life but they do not say that God has granted jurisdiction of civil society to the Church in this age. What Theonomists say is that the Church ought to be able to speak to a culture’s magistrates using its moral and spiritual power, just as John Knox spoke to Queen Mary, and just as the Black Robed Regiment spoke to King George III.

Second, Dr. Hart appeals to Natural law (some formation of general revelation) as being that which should provide the norm or the standard of right and wrong for the public square. The problem is though that this appeal to “some formation of general revelation” hardly takes the idea that “men suppress the truth in unrighteousness” seriously. Because non christians suppress the truth in unrighteousness Natural law can be and has been used to excuse any number of aberrant behaviors. As one example, Natural law told the Deists that God was a watchmaker being. Next on this score we might ask, “who’s formation of general revelation?” The Muslims or the Humanists formation of general revelation is going to be something profoundly different from the Christians formation of general revelation. The idea of appealing to some form of general revelation in order to be a universal norm completely leaves out any thoughtful consideration on how theological presuppositions inform how people come to their conclusions regarding general revelation.

Third, notice how Dr. Hart yokes theonomists with socialists (Jim Wallis), as if they were somehow equal. The problem here is that Dr. Hart doesn’t even ask what presuppositions are driving each to handle the scriptures in the way that they do. What Dr. Hart has done here is akin to yoking the Higher-Critical school as personified in Harry Emerson Fosdick with the Historical grammatical school as personified in J. Gresham Machen and then saying that they both do the same thing inasmuch as they both interpret the Bible. The problem with the Higher-Critical school and the problem of the socialists like Jim Wallis is they start out with presuppositions alien to the Scriptures themselves. The fact that the Higher Critical school of interpretation and the Socialists each handle the scriptures in a way contrary to its intent hardly justifies yoking them with those who do seek to handle the scriptures according to its intent. To yoke theonomists with Jim Wallis is either very close to being not very nice at all on Darryl Hart’s part or it is an example of not understanding why completely different schools of thought exist.

Fourth, one wonders why an elected believer would find it tricky to balance the bible with the constitution. Now if it would be ‘tricky’ because of the raw politics of the situation I would agree, but if it is ‘tricky’ because it is difficult to know how to be obedient and disobedient at the same time to God’s revealed Law-Word then that is another matter. I wonder if it would be found tricky because an elected believer, according to those who hold that pluralism is what cultures should be comprised of, would be in the position of making sure that Christianity didn’t make to much progress.

Finally, I am actually sympathetic to the point Dr. Hart makes about elevation. Perhaps this is why teachers are judged more harshly. Still, every godly culture has had its elevated teachers whether it was Knox, or Calvin, or Witherspoon, or any number of others and we must realize that if we do not seek to have elevated godly leadership — men who desire to handle the scriptures in a God honoring way — then we will have elevated ungodly leadership.

Two Kingdom Clarification


“All church power is wholly moral or spiritual. No church officers or judicatories possess any civil jurisdiction; they may not inflict any civil penalties nor may they seek the aid of the civil power in the exercise of their jurisdiction further than may be necessary for civil protection and security.

OPC Book Of Church Order

Recently, Dr. Darryl Hart cited this quotation from the OPC BCO in defense of Radical Two Kingdom theology (R2Kt — aka. – The Virus). Note that this quote has to do with the “Nature and Exercise of Church Power.” As I understand it this is stating how the Church as the Church employs the use of the Keys. According to this the Church as the Church may not use the sword in its use of power. Dr. Hart will be pleased to know that because of my belief in two Kingdom theology (notice the absence of the word “radical”) I find this perfectly acceptable. The power of the Church is that of moral and spiritual persuasion and not that of physical compulsion.

But having gladly admitted something I’ve never denied, that admission doesn’t change the problems with R2Kt virus. R2Kt virus goes on to say that the Church as the Church must not even seek to use moral persuasion when it comes to issues that are non-salvific (narrowly defined) that apply to the public square. According to R2Kt virus thinking the Church as the Church cannot speak to these issues because the Bible doesn’t speak to these issues. Now, certainly, non-ecclesiastical Christian societies may speak to these issues but the Church is absolutely forbidden to use its moral and spiritual power of persuasion and declaration to speak to principalities and power of this present wicked age that seek to make anti-Christ policy in the public square. Further according to R2Kt virus thinking pluralism is what the Church should desire in the public square. R2Kt virus supports a plurality of gods in the public square where Sovereign King Jesus is just another member in the cultural god club.

The quote from the BCO above does not provide ground fire for that agenda of the R2Kt crowd. No Reformed minister worth his salt would disagree with that statement but many Reformed ministers worth their salt would disagree that the BCO quote above proves that the kind of R2Kt that is being advanced in some quarters is acceptable. The quote above is not bizarre in the least. What is bizarre is to try and take that quote and stretch it to the point where it becomes a defense for the R2Kt virus.

Now, as this pertains to the civil realm I am perfectly pleased with the old Puritan commonwealth view that the State and the Church were coordinate power centers that were both under God’s authority and so were both responsible to sovereign God. These coordinate power centers could be delineated but they could never be divorced if only because those in the civil realm were members of the Churches and those in the Churches were members of the commonwealth. Further we know that R2Kt was not practiced in the commonwealth the way that it is being pushed in Escondido if only because of the legendary election day sermons where Reformed ministers would preach sermons speaking to the issues before their people as the electorate.

Still, in the Puritan commonwealth arrangement the lines between Church and State were clearly drawn and it was understood that the Church ministered grace while the State ministered justice. Where the commonwealth worked well there was no confusion between these coordinate power centers, nor was there a collapsing of one into the other so that they were indistinguishable but neither was their a divorce of the two as if the Church could not speak to the civil magistrate using its spiritual and moral voice of persuasion. So seriously did the commonwealth take the distinction between the two Kingdoms that ministers were not allowed to hold civil public office and Civil magistrates could not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Clearly these were people who understood the distinction between the two Kingdoms and yet they never would have countenanced Radical Two Kingdom Theology.

Clearly, I have no affection for the change by American Presbyterians of the Westminster confession done between 1787-1789 on the issue of the Magistrate. I think it moved the confession substantially in a non-Reformed direction. Given the political climate at the time, (how ironic that) the change is understandable, but I still believe that that change has wrought all kinds of damage to the Reformed Church.

Finally, while we are on this, let it be said that no Reformed person (not even the hated and dreaded theonomists) desire a ecclesiocracy. I say this because there seems to be some confusion in some quarters that what Theonomists and Theocrats desire is a government where the Church is running the show. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a mistake to think that a ecclesiocracy is the inevitable end of what Theonomy teaches.

I do not apologize in the slightest for thinking and calling R2Kt a virus. I remain convinced that should it become epidemic in the Church today it will have the result, as many viral fevers do, of leaving the patient (in this case, the Church) impotent.

Not all that is written by those who are infected with the virus should be avoided but the reader should be aware of this viral strain so that it can be identified when it crops up in works not immediately associated with this subject.

Things That Don’t Have Anything To Do With The Kingdom Of God — A Suggested Litnany Reading For Morning Worship

State sanctioned Baby killing?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

State sanctioned Jew killing in the past?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Legislatively pursued destruction of the Christian Family?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Government Education on the basis of a hostile anti-Christ presuppositional base?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent

State taking up God’s prerogatives as seen in policy after policy decision, thus revealing that it believes that it is God walking on the earth?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Destruction of what is left of Christedom?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

More than that Christians should be for this destruction of Christendom since pluralism is God’s will for us.

Cloning and Embryonic stem cell research?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Computer chips implanted in the brain to alter our thinking and personalities?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Mood altering drugs in order to alter our thinking and personalities?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Aggressive pursuit of unjust war resulting in the premeditated deaths of thousands of civilians?

Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. The Church must be silent.

Oh Sovereign God, who has bidden us to keep our mouths shut in the common realm except as individuals, and who has given us no clear guidance from thy most Holy Word on these matters, continue to give us natural law wisdom with which to confound those who believe not in you nor in natural law, and who believing that you are dead likewise believe all ideas of objective truth are dead. Grant us grace O Sovereign and wise God to continue to be divided on these common realm issues and bless us to put aside our divisions on common realm matters when we come in this sanctuary to hear you speak on those matters that really concern you. Thank you that you have saved us with a grace that keeps us from bringing that salvation into the common realm.

In the name of the great King Jesus we pray — The name of Him who is Lord over Heaven and Earth but Lord in the common realm in a different way.


More R2Kt Virus From The Macarthur Conference

Question & Answer format,

Question — Presumably from a Pastor

Q. — “How do I shepherd my people with respect to the upcoming presidential election, especially with no clearly pro-life candidate?

Answer — From John Macarthur

A. — “My answer is it has nothing to do with the kingdom of God!” He (Macarthur) then made some deprecatory quips about Jimmy Carter taking the office of president too seriously [sorry, past my historical familiarity to go into detail — Stenographer]. “In all seriousness, you do what your conscience tells you to do. But one thing: if you’re going to have your brain operated on, you might like to have a Christian. But I’d rather have someone in there who knew what a brain was, and had done it before. This subject of presidential politics, really, though, is really nowhere on my priority list. I voted for Huckabee in the primary, that was my best shot based on other’s thoughts; but the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world are entirely separate entities. I think we’re experiencing Romans 1 wrath in the church (I have a message on Focus on the Family about this) right now. When God turns a nation over, there’s a sexual revolution, then a homosexual revolution, then the minds stop working… and you vote those realities into law. I’m not surprised this nation has the kind of interest in the kind of leaders it has. But to clarify, I’m not indifferent: whenever I can actively vote for something that is righteous I do that.

You can find it on Evers’s blog here:

1.) Nothing to do with the Kingdom of God?

First off all this does have a great deal to do with the Kingdom of God if only because Kingdom of God people are going to be voting in this election. If this has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God, or for that matter if anything has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God then why should the Kingdom of God people have anything to do with it. Shouldn’t we only have to do with those things that do have something that explicitly has something to do with the Kingdom of God?

What is going on here once again is the compartmentalization between God’s Kingdom which is some kind of gnostic ethereal abstract spiritual thing and the living that goes on in every other realm except the Church which belong to the carnal (Kingdoms of this world) realms. This distinction between the carnal realm and the spiritual realm (Kingdom of God vs. Kingdoms of the World) can never be overcome except for a eucatastrophic in-breaking by Jesus in His second advent. This completely denies the whole idea of the Kingdom of heaven being like a mustard seed. This completely denies that age to come in the coming of Jesus has invaded this present evil age with the intent that the Kingdoms of this world shall be the Kingdoms of our God. If this is true why should we pray “thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven?” Why should we pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven if what happens on earth has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God? The Scripture refers to the magistrate as being “God’s minister” and in our system the people are the magistrate over the magistrate which means the people are God’s ministers and no more so then when they are voting. Are we to believe that as God ministers we should not look to the Scriptures for insight and wisdom on how to exercise the office of minister in a Kingdom of God fashion?

Certainly those who are running for President and who have not looked to Christ and so who are not looking to God’s law-word for wisdom have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God but Christians who belong to Christ are of the Kingdom of God and when they vote they ought to bring the Kingdom of God to bear on the Kingdoms of this World.

2.) Jimmy Carter was an anti-Christ and his presidency only proves that Biblical Christians are gullible.

3.) This thinking suggests that there is no conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent in carnal realms. In those realms the seed of the serpent is and always will be predominant. This sure sounds like ana-baptist thinking to me. I expect it from the Baptist Macarthur. I don’t expect it in the other quarters where it seeps from.

4.) Do what your conscience does?

Who is the Lord of the Conscience? Is the conscience an independent realm that can become a standard over God’s Law-Word? This is common realm anti-nomianism pure and simple. Does God’s Law-Word have nothing to say to his people for their consideration as they determine who they should cast God’s vote for?

5.) Brain Surgery

This is sophistry. Sure I’d prefer a Hindu Brain surgeon to a Christian anti-nomian minister doing my Brain surgery but all things being equal I’d prefer even more a Christian Brain surgeon doing my brain surgery. (Personal note — I will not go to a doctor who is Muslim, Hindu, or Buddahist for anything serious if I can help it since I believe Worldview makes a difference in medicine.) If Macarthur’s point is that he would prefer a wise turk to a stupid Christian as President, well, who wouldn’t, but Christians have the opportunity in this election cycle to vote for a wise Christian for president. Macarthur is using Nimrod logic.

6.) Huckabee is a Statist. The fact that Macarthur voted for him based on other people’s thoughts indicate that the ‘other people’ who advised him are not thinking with a Christian Worldview.

7.)Then he ends by saying he is not indifferent and votes for righteousness when he can, which contradicts everything he just said. How does he determine righteousness except by God’s Law-Word? And if all of this has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God how could he even speak in categories of righteousness or unrighteousness?

This guy is supposed to be a leading light in Evangelicalism?

God help us.

The vapidity of this Macarthur statement is just mind numbing.