Historical Calvinism & Political Resistance … Contra R2K

‎”For earthly princes lay aside their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy to be reckoned among the number of mankind. We ought, rather, to spit upon their heads than to obey them.”

John Calvin,
Commentary on Daniel, Lecture XXX Daniel 6:22

Calvinist Francis Hotman posed this question,

“If a state was once free, but later was conquered by a tyrant, was it not lawful to overthrow the tyrant and revert to that ancient Independence?”

“The nature of wicked princes is much like to warthogs, which if they be suffered to have their snouts in the ground, and be not forthwith expelled, will suddenly have their snouts in all the body; So they if they be obeyed in any evil thing be it ever so little will be obeyed in all at length.”

John Ponet
Magisterial Reformer

‎”When therefore the supreme ruler has become a tyrant, he must be deemed by his own perjury (as against the covenant document with the people) to have freed people from their oath, and not to the contrary, when the people assert their rights against him.”

Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos
(Thought to have been written by a one of two men … both of whom were Calvinists)

“As often as the Magistrate commands anything that is repugnant EITHER to the worship which we owe unto God OR to the love which we owe unto our neighbor, we cannot yield thereunto with a safe conscience. For as often as the commandment of God and men are directly opposed one against another, this rule is to be perpetually observed; that it is better to obey GOD than men.”

Theodore Beza
Calvin’s Successor in Geneva

“Resistance to tyrannical governors was, according to (Calvinist Pierre) Viret, a legitimate act of self defense. He even endorsed the use of disinformation if the tyrant were persecuting as analogous to resisting a band of robbers. If the political leader acted like a criminal, Viret thought he should be treated like a one, and the citizens were justified in resisting him.”

The Political Ideas of Pierre Viret
Robert Dean Linder — p. 131

According to William Naphy’s “Calvin and the Consolidation of the Genevan Reformation, (p. 159-160)” Calvin, in his preaching confronted the Magistrates in his congregation. Naphy concludes that Calvin’s preaching was at times direct, confrontational, and “politically informed.” One of Calvin’s 1522 sermons landed Calvin in front of the Council to explain why he spoke of the senators and the other civil rulers in a sermon as

“Arguing against God”
“Mocking him,”
“Rejecting all the Holy scriptures to vomit forth their blasphemies as supreme decrees

And as (my personal favorite)

“Gargoyle monkeys [who] have become so proud”

Interesting material from Peter Martyr (Calvinist)

Martyr stipulated that others in the public weal, who were in ‘place and dignity lower than princes’ and yet in positions of responsibility to ‘elect the superiors,’ have power by existing laws to govern the commonwealth. If, therefore, a prince does not preform his covenant as promised, ‘it is lawful to constrain and bring him into order and by force compel him to fulfill the conditions and covenant which he had promised, and that by war when it cannot be otherwise done.’

And who does Martyr include in his list of “others in the public weal’ who had a responsibility to keep an eye on wandering Magistrates?

Why Peter Martyr includes “Ministers of the Churches,” as those who had a responsibility to keep an eye on wandering Magistrates.

“Loyal shoulders should sustain the power of the ruler so long as it is exercised in subjection to God and follows His ordinances; but if it resists and opposes the divine commandments, and wishes to make me share in its war against God, then with unrestrained voice, I answer back that God must be preferred before any man on earth.”

-John of Salisbury, Policraticus, 1159

Coercive Institutions & Religious Neutrality

“VanDrunen does not think a coercive institution should promote or require religious commitment for participation in the civil order.”

Matthew Tuininga

1.) How is it that the conviction that a coercive institution should not promote or require religious commitment for participation in the civil order isn’t itself the out growth of a a-priori religious commitment of said coercive institution? In other word, that conviction, is conviction born of religion. One wonders if the coercive institution that is agnostic regarding religious commitment for participation in the civil order would use the sword in order to insure their commitment to social order agnosticism?

2.) Of course this assumes that it is possible for a coercive institution to not promote or require religious commitment for participation in the civil order. When the coercive institution doesn’t promote or require religious commitment for participation in the civil order, the result is that the coercive institution promotes the religion of no religion or religion of all religions (much the same) in the civil order. Tuininga (and perhaps VanDrunen) seem to think that it is possible for coercive institutions to be neutral in the civil order.

3.) I trust this means that VanDrunen believes, because of this principle, that all government schools should be closed because they promote religious commitment for participation in the civil order.

4.) Of course this quote above is nonsense. Every time our coercive institution legislates, adjudicates, and executes law at that time our coercive institutions are promoting and requiring religious commitment for participation in the civil order.

Marxism, Sovereignty, and R2K

Eternally speaking, God is absolutely sovereign and holds all sovereignty as His own. No one can challenge God’s sovereignty, though many imagine that they can and do. God, in His infinite wisdom, has appointed certain spheres where Federal Representatives are delegated temporal sovereignty in order to rule in God’s stead in the spheres to which God has appointed them.

So then, temporally speaking, there is only so much sovereignty to go around. Reality doesn’t expand, and as such temporal sovereignty over reality does not expand either. What this means is that no matter how temporal sovereignty is sliced up and divided at the end of the doling out of temporal sovereignty if one was to add all the temporal sovereignty together its total amount could be neither increased or decreased. Hence, if any one agency is able to accrue an increase in its temporal sovereignty that agency does so at the expense of some other agency losing some sovereignty.

To put this in concrete terms, if the State increases its total amount of sovereignty the result is that it does only at the expense of the family or the church losing the sovereignty that it formerly exercised before the state successfully seized the amount of sovereignty it lost from the state. Similarly, were the family to increase its total amount of sovereignty it could only do so at the expense of other agencies.

All this is background to consider how it is that Marxism is a sovereignty sucking plausibility structure. Marxism, by its nature, consistently seeks to seize sovereignty from all other social order spheres in order to locate all sovereignty in the state. By doing so Marxism, seeks to attack all other temporal sovereignty not delegated to it so that it might ascend to the most high in order to convince itself that the sovereignty it wields is of the eternal type.

By its very tenets Marxism consistently attacks two of the basic spheres God has ordained and it does so because these basic spheres of family and religion impede the state’s attempt to garner into its fists a monopoly on sovereignty, power, and authority. The Marxist state attacks the family through tax policy, education policy, and its ongoing attempt to take away the family’s ability to own private property. The Marxist state attacks religion by cordoning it off from the public square and by drawing the circle ever tighter as to where and when religion can be displayed. The Marxist state, regardless of what degree of Marxism it is currently at works to confiscate property, break up families, and legislate against faith expressing itself in the public square.

Marxist states, given their dialectic philosophy, may, from time to time, enter into detente with family or religion but if it does so it only does so as a way to prepare itself for the next blow against these spheres. Such politically calculated detentes are akin to a hammer lifting itself away from the nail. The hammer is not in retreat but is only building energy for another blow against the nail. If Marxist states are successful in this seizing of sovereignty it may allow family and / or religion to exist but only as satellites that serve as a pretense that the Marxist state has not seized all sovereignty, and as to lend credibility to the Marxist totalistic rule.

The attempt to seize sovereignty may be violent as in communist take overs or it may be more benign and incremental in its methodology as is found in Fabian socialism, progressivism, Corporatism, Liberalism, Welfarism, or the Nanny State. Whereas communism advocates the seizure of sovereignty by cutting of the head, different forms of socialism prefers to slowly, silently suffocate those who will not surrender their sovereignty.

Of course this Marxist seizure of sovereignty as it becomes more and more totalistic ends up stealing another sovereignty and that is the sovereignty found in self-government. As Marxist and collectivist approaches succeed in sucking up temporal sovereignty the end result is that the individual likewise loses his / her self sovereignty and they themselves become effective wards of the state. Individuals, no longer being independent agents and no longer having personal sovereignty are reduced to being cogs in the Marxist civil-social order machine. Individuals become merely extensions of the state.

All of this explains why radical two kingdom theology is such a poison pill for the church because radical two kingdom theology insists that the Church as the Church has no role in declaiming against the Marxist state’s attempt to seize all temporal sovereignty. R2K “theology” would stand silent as the state seeks to absorb all temporal sovereignty so that it becomes the idol state that has raised itself up against the almighty God. In R2K “theology” the only time the Church can protest this seizure of sovereignty is when the state seeks to dictate to the Church about its formal worship patterns. But if the Church is only concerned about its formal worship patterns then why would the state ever have any reason to want to absorb a sovereignty that it views as irrelevant? In point of fact if the R2K church is telling its people that they must obey the state, the state may very well view the R2K church as already effectively one of its agents.

Theonomy Dustup

There is, in the micro world of the theonomy movement, a conflict that is escalating between those who are invoking the ghost of Rushdoony in opposition to Ron Paul Libertarianism and those who are invoking the ghost of the great Rushdoony in favor of Paul.

The debate can be found in these two articles.


Theonomy’s “Radical Libertarianism”

Of course my position is to warn against both of these positions.

I am not a big fan of the author of the first link. He seems to fail to realize that the first rule of survival when one is threatened with the suffocating danger of statist tyranny is to take any weapon at hand to beat off the tyrannical attack. Ron Paul is that weapon. Now I might wish I had a different weapon or a better weapon with which to fight for my survival but in a snow storm any Huskie will do. I support Ron Paul because he is the guy who gives me the opportunity to get the ruddy foot of the State off my neck.

In terms of the McDurmon article (2nd link) the one thing McDurmon is missing is the reality that libertarianism can not work among a people who are not self governed in terms of God’s law word. This is the fault of contemporary Libertarianism. It advances the idea of liberty but the liberty it advances is in actuality a libertinism where each man does is what is right in his own eyes.

Rushdoony did and would have used these people to advance his agenda but he never would have confused his agenda with their agenda. The people who McDurmon are writing against don’t get the 1st part of that last sentence and I wonder if people like McDurman and Marinov get the second part of that first sentence. The Libertarianism of Rushdoony clearly is not the Libertarianism of modern Libertarianism. The fact that Rush could say, “In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had,” must be read against the idea that radical Libertarianism is opposed at every point to any idea of theocracy. Rush believed that Theocracy was a inescapable reality that could not be avoided. Clearly, by radical libertarian standards Rush did not embrace radical libertarianism.

Theonomists, out of necessity and because of a common enemy, are now dining with the Libertarian Paul but it is a dining which must be done with a long spoon. Halbrook doesn’t want to dine at all. The American Visions spoon isn’t long enough given the kinds of things I’ve read Marinov writing.

The problems with Paul are not slight. They are significant. His stand on sodomites in the military is atrocious. His position on illegal immigration is no longer acceptable. Recent words lauding Martin Luther King are troublesome. I do not agree with him that abortion is acceptable on a state by state basis. However, despite all that I would vote for Paul in a heart beat because I think his agenda for governing can not work since we are a balkanized culture. Libertarianism can only work in a culture where the citizenry share a world and life view. However, a President Paul would be the best shot at allowing a peaceful breakup of these united States. That is what I believe needs to happen in order to stop the Statists and the tyrants and since the statists and the tyrants would never let that happen, I support Paul because I am confident he would let it happen upon the failure of his governing by Libertarian principles.

So, beware of both the arguments that Rushdoony was a closet Randian libertarian per guys like Marinov but also beware the arguments of guys like Halbrook who argue that Rushdoony would have had no tuck at all with a Libertarianism which he could use to advance his unique vision of a theonomic order in which a genuine Libertarianism could flourish.

McAtee Contra Very Bad Dr. John Piper Baptist Pluralism “Theology”

‘This is a response to a very bad piece by Dr. John Piper. The whole piece can be located at the link below. Piper”s article is entitled, “Making Room for Atheism.” The blockquote segments are from Piper. My responses follow.


Our church exists “to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.” That is our mission. “All things” means business, industry, education, media, sports, arts, leisure, government, and all the details of our lives. Ideally this means God should be recognized and trusted as supreme by every person he has made. But the Bible teaches plainly that there will never be a time before Jesus comes back when all people will honor him as supreme (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).

The passage in Thessalonians does not teach (plainly or otherwise) that there will never be a time before Jesus comes back when all people will honor Him as supreme. A careful reading of the text reveals that what Paul is teaching is that it is those at that time who are troubling the Thessalonians who God will repay with tribulation. The same Greek word “tribulation” is also used by Paul in Romans 2:9. In both cases what is being taught is that tribulation will be brought upon evildoers at the last judgment. The passage is dealing with ultimate bliss and woe connected with the Day of the Lord. Everyone agrees that all evildoers will suffer tribulation at the last day but that does not necessarily mean that there will never be a time before Jesus comes back when all people will honor him as supreme. Certainly B. B. Warfield, with his teaching on “Eschatological Universalism,” would take umbrage with Piper”s “exegesis.”

Piper is reading this passage through his premillennial lenses and arriving at premillennial conclusions.

So how do we express a passion for God”s supremacy in a pluralistic world where most people do not recognize God as an important part of their lives, let alone an important part of government or education or business or industry or art or recreation or entertainment?

Answer: We express a passion for the supremacy of God…

Piper’s first 4 ways of expressing a passion for the supremacy of God are excellent. Should the reader desire to note these he can access the link provided above. It is Piper”s fifth way of expressing a passion for the supremacy of God that leaves us in a train wreck.

5) by making clear that God himself is the foundation for our commitment to a pluralistic democratic order-not because pluralism is his ultimate ideal, but because in a fallen world, legal coercion will not produce the kingdom of God. Christians agree to make room for non-Christian faiths (including naturalistic, materialistic faiths), not because commitment to God”s supremacy is unimportant, but because it must be voluntary, or it is worthless. We have a God-centered ground for making room for atheism. “If my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight” (John 18:36). The fact that God establishes his kingdom through the supernatural miracle of faith, not firearms, means that Christians in this age will not endorse coercive governments-Christian or secular.

1.) In that first sentence above Piper wrote that a pluralistic democratic order is not God”s ultimate ideal but because it is the best God can do in a fallen world Christians should be supporters of a pluralistic democratic order.

First, this again assumes Piper”s eschatology. Piper assumes that where grace abounds sin abounds all the more, thus Christians must settle for a social order (pluralistic democratic) where the Lordship of Jesus Christ is challenged by the Lordship of the other gods. In other words, because God will never have visible and recognized hegemony in this fallen world, therefore we have to support a social order committed to making sure that every knee will not bow, nor every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Piper”s eschatology creates and insures the success of his defeatism.

2.) Christians can believe that God can conquer democratic pluralism without supporting the idea that such total victory of the already victorious Christ will come about through legal coercion. Piper marries his faulty eschatology to a faulty conclusion thus implying that anybody who is against democratic pluralism is for building God”s Kingdom through legal coercion. This is a logical fallacy. All postmillennialists believe that God will build His Kingdom here so that the knowledge of God covers the earth as the water covers the sea. No postmillennialist believes that will be done by the means of legal coercion.

3.) The second sentence in the blockquote above is likewise confused. Piper has gone from writing about social orders (the institutional framework upon which cultures hang and through which a people”s belief system is expressed) to writing about individuals. Certainly in a Christian social order that recognizes the Lordship of Jesus Christ there would be room for non-Christian faiths on a individual or personal basis. However such room for non-Christian faiths on a individual or personal basis would not be allowed to overthrow the Christian public square as informed by a Christian social order. The traditional Protestant view is that while Christ is the Lord of the conscience, non-believers cannot in any way openly practice nor promote false religion in order to overturn a Christian social order.

Second on this point, Piper”s observation is far far too broad. Would Piper contend that a Christian social order must make room for the non-Christian faith of Hinduism which requires widows to be burned alive with their dead husband? Would Piper contend that a Christian social order must make room for the non-Christian faith of Muslims which allow for Muslim male family representatives to kill female members of family for fraternizing with a male not in their family? Would Piper contend that a Christian social order must make room for a faith that requires smoking peyote as part of the worship service? Would Piper contend that a Christian social order must make room for a faith that requires temple prostitutes or ritual murder? Where does Piper”s tolerance end in terms of making room for non-Christian faiths? Why should these other faiths that Piper wants to make room for in his democratic pluralistic social order be constrained to give up their faith practice? By what standard will Piper appeal to in order to determine which other faiths must be made room for and which will not?

It is simply the case that all social orders are coercive to one degree or another. Would Piper suggest that those who disagree with his view of the proper social order be coerced to accept his vision of a Christian social order, or would he allow other visions of Christian social order that find democratic pluralism to be un-biblical the opportunity to overthrow his vision of Christian social order excellence?

4.) I find Piper, on this point, giving up on the Supremacy of God in order to pursue the relegation of God to one who is a option. All because it is true that individual conversion ought to be voluntary that does not mean that we should build a social order designed to make all the gods equal in the private realm but subservient to the God of the social order (the State) in the public square. Piper fails to realize that in his democratic pluralism social order that all the gods are ruled by the State god because Piper is empowering the state to make sure that the God of the Bible (as well as the other gods) do not have absolute supremacy. Piper can write all he wants on his desire for the supremacy of God but as long as he holds this democratic pluralism he is advocating for the supremacy of gods that are no gods.

5.) I wonder if, according to Piper, Christians should not endorse governments — Christian or secular –that coerce people to accept his democratic-pluralism as the ideal social order. (On Piper”s misuse of John 18:36 see the many articles written on Iron Ink on that abused passage.)

6.) All should keep in mind that what Piper is advocating here is the overthrow of historic Christendom for a Christendom that culture is most Christian when it does not hold absolute sway.

Dr. Piper writes,

“This is why we resist the coercive secularization implied in some laws that repress Christian activity in public places. It is not that we want to establish Christianity as the law of the land. That is intrinsically impossible, because of the spiritual nature of the kingdom. It is rather because repression of free exercise of religion and persuasion is as wrong against Christians as it is against secularists. We believe this tolerance is rooted in the very nature of the gospel of Christ. In one sense, tolerance is pragmatic: freedom and democracy seem to be the best political order humans have conceived. But for Christians it is not purely pragmatic: the spiritual, relational nature of God”s kingdom is the ground of our endorsement of pluralism, until Christ comes with rights and authority that we do not have.”

1.) In the first sentence above we see that Piper is fighting the idea of not allowing Christianity in the public square (his lament on secularization) by advocating that all religions should be allowed into the public square. But the result of all gods being let into the public square is the same as not letting any of the gods into the public square since the consequence of both no gods in the public square and all gods in the public square is that the State is the god of the gods since it referees how far the gods can walk in the public square. What Piper is advocating is the destruction of Christendom (as noted earlier) in favor of Statist(dom). Piper would defeat the religiously sanitized public square with the polytheistic public square. However, in both cases the state ends up being the monotheistic god. Where now God”s supremacy John?

The fight against secularization is not won by enthroning the state. The fight against secularization is won by Christian (ministers and otherwise) tearing down every stronghold that raises itself up in defiance of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christian ministers should not be arguing that the public square should be filled with all the gods, but rather they should be arguing that Christ is Lord over all, including the State. Let the ministers of the State who desire for the public square to be “neutral” argue for a neutral public square.

2.) Why should Christian not want to establish Christianity as the law of the land? Who says that Christianity being the law of the land is intrinsically impossible? In Piper”s world is not Piper saying that we establish Christianity as the law of the land by making sure Christianity is not the law of the land?

3.) Why does Piper think that because the Kingdom of God is spiritual therefore it cannot incarnate itself in every increasing degrees into a social order? Where in scripture does it teach that the spiritualKingdom of God does not instantiate itself in cultures and social orders? If the Kingdom of God is spiritual and yet can effect individuals so that we have an expectation of what a Christian looks like why can the spiritual Kingdom of God not be spiritual and still effect social orders to the point that we have an expectation of what a Christian social order looks like? (It sure isn”t Democratic Pluralism!) It looks to me as if Piper is drinking from some kind of dualism well.

4.) Piper complains about repressions of Christians in the secularization process and yet what he advocates is certain to bring about the very thing he laments. The fact is that Piper is wrong about what he terms as “secularization.” What is going on is the advance of humanism in the public square and naturally humanists are, following their religious tenets, not going to allow for another faith system to challenge them. There is no secularization going on here. There is only the advanced de-Christianization of the West. \r\n\r\n5.) Piper talks about Christ coming with rights and authority we do not have. Is not Christ ruling now? Are not the Kings instructed to “Kiss the Son.” If Christ has authority now why should His people insist that His authority and rights are only future as if Christ isn”t exercising His regal rights now?

On this point Piper surrenders his quest for the Supremacy of God in all things and becomes someone who is advocating for a toothless god who must wait in line with all the rest of the gods.