D. G. Hart — “The Church Shall Be Silent”

“The political passivism implicit in Machen’s understanding of the church, however, must not be rendered a justification for Christian escapism (something charged against the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms also). Machen himself was active in politics precisely because he knew the church should not be. Christians who look to the church to engage in political reforms invariably fail to explore other means by which they as citizens, along with believers and nonbelievers, may engage in the political process. In other words, to say the church has no responsibility for politics is very different from describing what duties Christians themselves have as citizens and neighbors. As they are called, Christians have a duty to seek the welfare of the city (Jer. 29:7). What Machen’s example teaches is that Christians have no right to expect the church as a corporate body to seek the city’s welfare other than through the spiritual means of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.”

D. G. Hart
The Difference Between Christians & The Church
Modern Reformation — 2004

Dr. D. G. Hart is another gentleman who is a carrier of the R2Kt virus. Dr. Hart has written a whole book on the subject entitled, “A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State.”

Like D. R. Scott Clark, Dr. D. G. Hart is a intelligent man until he gets on this subject. I have read several of his books with great profit, just as I have read several articles by Dr. R. Scott Clark with profit. However, all that is beneficent in what they write is largely negated by their work on this subject.

Take Hart’s quote above. In the quote he notes that individual Christians can work and proclaim in the “common realm” while the Church cannot. Having pointed this out before the problem with this is that it results in a “each man doing what is right in his own eyes.”

Let’s take the last time this approach was pursued on a large scale in 1930’s Germany. According to Hart’s theory individual Christians should have spoken out against National Socialism. The problem here though is that Hart’s theory also countenances individual Christians speaking out in favor of National Socialism or Communism or any number of other Biblically judged aberrant systems. In Hart’s theory there is no place that any individual Christian can hear an authoritative “Thus Saith The Lord,” since the Scriptures don’t speak to these kinds of issues and so each individual Christian is free to do what is right in their own eyes. And so, in a conversation touching the 1930’s Hart, Clark and other R2Kt infected people, even now, if they are consistent, cannot say it was wrong, according to God’s Word, for individual Christians to support National Socialism or Communism in post WWI Germany. They might be able to say that as individual Christians they believe it was wrong, but if another individual Christian came along and said it was right it would remain a matter or “just two opinions,” since God’s word doesn’t speak to these kind of issues.

Now R2Kt types will appeal to the wisdom of Natural Law to serve as an arbiter on the kinds of issues that the Church can’t speak to but as we’ve said before Natural Law is invoked by everybody for everything. Without looking I’d be willing to bet that even some National Socialist theorist in the 1930’s invoked Natural Law to support the Nationalist Socialist regime in 1930’s Germany.

If the R2Kt virus becomes epidemic its hard to guess what the toll will be on the Church and on the culture.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

4 thoughts on “D. G. Hart — “The Church Shall Be Silent””

  1. The other problem here is a narrow quasi-Lutheran interpretation of “gospel” as only speaking to the “spiritual.” We see from Acts and elsewhere that the gospel was the announcement of the reign of the King and as such it was a direct affront to the divine claims of imperial Rome. It had definite political implications.

  2. Hey guys,

    I had a reader from Florida send me a interesting article on how and when in American history there was this big push to move the Church to a ‘spiritual’ conception away from a Church that actively spoke to the culture. I haven’t finished it yet but when I do I intend on posting some kind of summary.

    The advantage of bifurcating the church in the way they do is that it releases individual Christians to speak but not in a ‘Thus saith the Lord’ kind of way. If individual Christians speak they are speaking out of natural law or they are speaking out of natural law using the Bible to support what their version of natural law teaches. Of course the problem with this is, as I have mentioned, that it allows individual Christians to pursue agendas completely contrary to one another, all invoking natural law. The other supposed advantage to the bifurcation is that nobody blames the church as the church if individual Christian ideas pursued lead to catastrophe in the cultural realm. The Church can always say, “We had no part in that.”

    Still, I am sympathetic to the argument that suggests that it is odd to divide the individual from the corporate as if they are somehow completely different.

    On the political implications score, we must keep in mind that those early Christian martyrs were martyred for treason and sedition. Those were crimes against the political function of the State.

    Thanks for stopping by guys,


  3. There’s no incipient dualism in the two-kingdoms ethic, it’s full-blooded, self-conscious dualism! It’s the same sort of dualism one finds in the apostle Paul and our Lord Jesus who distinguished between “this age” and “the age to come” and the “the kingdoms of this world” and “the kingdom of God.” Not all dualisms are of the Platonic/Ontic sort. There is a proper, Christian body/soul dualism. That’s the same thing as a spirit-matter dualism — which is sub-Christian because it denies the goodness of created matter.

    As to individuals v the church and social transformation. As far as I am concerned Christians as private persons may form non-ecclesiastical societies to achieve any number of admirable ends. The church as the visible, institutional society, however, instituted by Christ has three marks: the pure preaching of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and the administration of church discipline.

    There’s no reason why the church as such must be engaged in social transformation any more than may result in the preaching of the holy gospel. The outcome of the preaching of the gospel and the administration of sacraments and discipline belongs to the Spirit and to most a-millennialists there is no promise of massive social/cultural transformation. We may be wrong. If so, praise God. The major issue is to see that the church as such is focused on those three things for which she has a explicit commission.

    One more time: Christians as private persons, not necessarily only as individuals, may form societies to achieve desirable ends. They ought, however, not to enlist the visible church as an entity to accomplish anything other than that required by the Lord.

  4. Mr. Jetbrane, could you explain how this view of the church’s authority is at odds with the laws of most Reformed churches, where the book of church goverenment says that church power is purely spiritual and moral, not physical or political? A view that you think is so bizarre is actually the law of various Reformed communions.

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