D. Gnostic Hart Responded To … Again

Dr. D. Gnostic Hart tees matters up again at Old Life and takes aim at yours truly while continuing to advocate for his “theological” spin called R2K.

Two of Old Life’s regular voices, Zrim and Jed, are having an interesting discussion — in response to a post questioning the political machinations of the hallowed Bonhoffer — about whether 2kers may legitimately appeal to the Bible in their civic duties. Zrim argues that the Bible forbids civil disobedience while Jed questions whether a 2ker may employ the Bible in this way.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Bret responds to me that his case for Ron Paul and paleo-conservatism come directly from biblical teaching on the fifth and eighth commandments.

Several points of clarification seem to be in order. First, 2kers do appeal to the Bible. They do so in their personal lives all the time. They even appeal to the Bible — you know, “my kingdom is not of this world,” does not come from Aristotle — to argue for legitimacy of 2k.

Bret responds,

The problem is not with John 18:36, but with Darryl’s Gnostic reading of it. I do not think the words mean what he thinks they mean.

“‘My kingdom is not of [ek: out from] this world,’” is a statement about the source — not the nature — of His reign, as the epexegetical ending of the verse makes obvious: ‘My kingdom is not from here [enteuthen].’ The teaching is not that Christ’s kingdom is wholly otherworldly, but rather that it originates with God Himself (not any power or authority found in creation.”

Dr. Greg Bahnsen
God & Politics — pg. 27

B. F. Wescott speaking of John 18:36 could comment,

“Yet He did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven. My Kingdom is not of this world (means it) does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”

The Gospel According To John — pg. 260

John 18:36 along with Matthew 22:15-22 are two of the passages that are often put forth as defeaters for the comprehensive sovereignty of the Lord Jesus over this world. Bahnsen clearly shows here, quite in agreement with the Greek scholar B. F. Westcott, that God’s Kingdom, as it manifests itself in this world, is energized by a source outside this world. This is important to emphasize because many people read John 18:36 as proof that the Kingdom of Jesus does not and should not express itself in this world. Often this verse is appealed to in order to prove that God’s Kingdom is only “spiritual” and as such Christians shouldn’t be concerned about what are perceived as “non-spiritual” realms. Support for such thinking, if there is any, must come from passages other than John 18:36.

What we get from some contemporary Calvinists, like Darryl and the R2K boys, is the quote of Christ telling Pilate that ‘His Kingdom is not of this World,’ as if that is to end all conversation on the Lordship of Christ over all cultural endeavors. What is forgotten is the way that John often uses the word ‘World.’ John often uses the word ‘World’ with a sinister significance to communicate a disordered reality in grip of the Devil set in opposition to God. If that is the way that the word ‘world’ is being used in John 17:36 then we can understand why Jesus would say that His Kingdom ‘was not of this world.’ The Kingdom of Jesus will topple the Kingdoms of this disordered world changing them to be the Kingdoms of His ordered world, but it won’t be done by the disordered methodology of this World and so Jesus can say, “My Kingdom is not of this World.” Hopefully, we can see that such a statement doesn’t mean that Christ’s Kingdom has no effect in this world or that Christ’s Kingdom can’t overcome the world.

John 18:36 is often appealed to in order to prove that the Kingdom of God is a private individual spiritual personal reality that does not impinge on public square practice(s) of peoples or nations corporately considered. Those who appeal to John 18:36 in this way are prone thus to insist that God’s Word doesn’t speak to the public square practice(s) of peoples or nations since such an appeal (according to this thinking) would be an attempt to wrongly make God’s Kingdom of this world.

The problem with this though is it that it is a misreading of the passage. When Jesus say’s “My Kingdom is not of this world,” his use of the word “world” here is not spatial. Jesus is not saying that His Kingdom does not impact planet earth. What Jesus is saying is that His Kingdom does not find its source of authority from the world as it lies in Adam.

Jesus brings a Kingdom to this world that is in antithetical opposition to the Kingdom of Satan that presently characterizes this world in this present wicked age. The Kingdom that Jesus brings has its source of authority in His Father’s Word. As a result of Christ bringing His Kingdom w/ His advent there are two Kingdoms that are vying for supremacy on planet earth. Postmillennialism teaches that the Kingdom of the “age to come” that characterizes Christ’s present Kingdom will be victorious in this present spatial world that is characterized by “this present wicked age,” precisely because, in principle, Christ’s Kingdom is already victorious in this present spatial world.

All nations will bow to Jesus and all kings will serve him and his mustard seed kingdom will grow to become the largest plant in the garden with the nation-birds finding rest in its branches. His kingdom is the stone which crushed the kingdoms of men in Daniel 2 and which is growing to become a mountain-empire which fills the whole earth, until all His enemies are made His footstool.

Because Christ’s Kingdom is victorious on this planet His Kingdom extends beyond the personal private individual realm and so impacts the public square. Another way to say that would be precisely because Christ’s Kingdom continues to be populated by a swarming host of individuals those individuals take that Kingdom that has overcome them and in turn overcome all that they touch with the Kingdom.

Dr. Geehardus Vos was not a postmillennialist but some of the things he taught captures what I am trying to communicate regarding Christ’s Kingdom while at the same time delineating Darryl’s misconceptions. Vos wrote,

“The kingdom means the renewal of the world through the introduction of supernatural forces.” (page 192)

“The thought of the kingdom of God implies the subjection of the entire range of human life in all its forms and spheres to the ends of religion. The kingdom reminds us of the absoluteness, the pervasiveness, the unrestricted dominion, which of right belong to all true religion. It proclaims that religion, and religion alone, can act as the supreme unifying, centralizing factor in the life of man, as that which binds all together and perfects all by leading it to its final goal in the service of God.” (page 194)

Geerhardus Vos

The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church

So, what Christ was saying to Pilate when He said “My Kingdom is not of this world” was “My kingdom does not gain it’s authority from Rome or the Sanhedrin. My authority comes from on high.” Pilate understood this. The irony is that the pagan tyrant understood, but Christians like Darryl expressly insist that it doesn’t mean that today. So the authority of Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, but nonetheless, the kingdom has invaded this civil realm, the family realm, law realm, economics realm, and every other realm you can think of for “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Every aspect of our social order is touched by the kingdom of God.

Darryl continues,

Two-kingdom theology is thoroughly biblical (or at least tries to be) and its advocates don’t let differences between the kingdoms prevent them from seeing that — to borrow a line from the old E. F. Hutton commercials — when the Bible speaks, believers listen. As I have repeatedly insisted in different forums, the eighth commandment compels me to question whether I should shop at Walmart or at Gelzer’s Hardware. After Sam Walton is not my neighbor, the one whose welfare I am supposed to seek. But Mr. Gelzer is. The Bible gives some instruction about economics. I should try to apply to my life. I don’t see how that is inconsistent with 2k because it is not.

Here Darryl is trying to have his R2K cake and eat it too. He holds to a position that expressly advocates that the Bible doesn’t speak to the common realm. When it comes to common law wisdom we are told we must look to Natural law. Only here now Darryl insists that the Bible doesn’t speak to the common realm except when it does. So, what it comes down to is that Darryl wants to suggest that it is acceptable for him to appeal to the Scriptures for insight in how we shall then live in the common realm when he wants to but it is not acceptable for me to appeal to the Scriptures for insight on how we shall ten live in the common realm. When he does it, it is the very marrow of wisdom. When I do it, I am “bible thumping.”

I have read the R2K boys expressly state that there is no such thing as Biblical economics and yet what is Darryl advocating above but a micro Biblical Economics?

Second, this appeal to the Bible does not mean that I may require Rabbi Bret to shop locally or Jed to drink only the beers made by San Marcos breweries. Individual believers need to respect the consciences and interpretations of other believers. Some may eat meat offered to idols, and others won’t. Both will appeal to the Bible. But appealing to the Bible doesn’t settle whether believers will act in the same way about a host of matters.

Here we see the inherent cultural relativism of R2K. If appealing to the Bible doesn’t settle whether believer will act in the same way about a host of matters then what does? What becomes the canon for behavior when it is not the Scripture? Each man doing what is right in his own eyes? The problem with Darryl is that he keeps wanting to invoke Liberty of conscience (a doctrine which I strongly support) into areas where the conscience isn’t given liberty (or license, as the case may be). There are matters where liberty of conscience can be rightly invoked but I strongly suspect that Darryl wants to invoke liberty of conscience where the Scriptures don’t give us liberty.

The indefatigable Hart presses on,

Third, the critics of 2k — aside from uncharitably disregarding 2kers’ appeal to Scripture — can’t seem to fathom the difference between the claims made by individuals about biblical teaching and those of church officers and assemblies. For instance, because the Baylys’ believe the Bible compels them to protest at abortion clinics, they believe that church assemblies must call all believers to similar forms of protest. They even go a step farther and think that anyone who dissents from their application of Scripture disobeys the Bible. (Wow!) Meanwhile, folks like Rabbi Bret don’t seem to understand that his appeal to the fifth and eighth commandments for paleoconservatism leaves little room in the church for other perspectives, such as the Covenanters, libertarians, Democrats, or monarchists. Yet, the Reformed creeds insist that church assemblies should address only matters that are spiritual and ecclesiastical. In other words, when the church speaks as institutional church, she must have a biblical warrant. And that explains why the creeds don’t address education, math, or economics. The Bible doesn’t require God’s people to have a uniform method of delivering education, a base-ten system of math, or a commitment to free markets.

Bret responds,

First, I trust that Darryl has seen in this post that I have not uncharitably disregarded R2K’s appeal to Scripture. I took his reference to John 18:36 and I gave it respectful time and attention showing that Darryl is clinging to a weak reed in the way he reads that passage. Not even the great amillennialist Vos compartmentalizes the Kingdoms like Darryl does.

Second, though the Baylys can defend themselves, I can not understand why Darryl would think that a Church assembly speaking out against murder and encouraging their membership to speak out against murder, as they have opportunity, is somehow malignant in its intention. Will Darryl be complaining next about requests that come to broader church assemblies to speak out against incest?

Third, Darryl is concerned about leaving room for, Covenanters, libertarians, Democrats, or monarchists in the Church but what he doesn’t tell us is that upon his very own principle we are at the same time leaving room for Fascists, Communists, Marxists, Anarchists, and bomb throwers in the Church. If Darryl’s “doctrine” allows for one of them it must allow for all of them. According to Darryl’s ideology there is no way for the Church to say to those who are undermining Biblical theology by their political philosophy that their political or economic belief system is not a matter of liberty of conscience. This is a serious serious problem for R2K. On this point I would also add that, I don’t think there is room for modern Democrats (aka — Cultural Marxists who support the long march through the institutions) in the Church and hard Libertarians like Ayn Rand followers should be given close scrutiny as well. The reason I believe that is that their ideology / philosophy is contrary to a Biblical worldview.

Next on this point, while there may not be room for both Covenanters and non covenanting Monarchists in the same local Church, that is not to say that they there isn’t room in the Church visible for each of them in their own congregations. No more would you expect to mix Covenanters and non-Covenanters in the same denomination then you would expect to mix Continental Sabbatarians and Presbyterian Sabbatarians who each took the matter with great seriousness in the same congregation.

Fourth, to Darryl’s point about Church Assemblies not addressing matters that are not Spiritual, I know of no matter that is not at its beginning point, “Spiritual.” This is a foundational disagreement between R2K and those who are not R2K. R2K wants to cordon and compartmentalize a realm called “Spiritual” and then pretend that there are matters that don’t have any relation to the Spiritual.

And yet Jan Veenhof in analyzing Bavinck’s understanding of the relation of Nature to Grace (Spiritual to Common) is quite different from Darryl’s R2K. Bavinck does not have a compartmentalized Spiritual realm that is isolated from the Common realm.

1.) Veenhof draws out from Bavinck in Veenhof’s book that Grace restores nature because Grace has the effect of removing from nature its participation in sin driven sick reality. Grace never turns nature into grace but the effect of grace upon nature is to restore nature to its healthy reality from the sick reality that sin has it in bondage to.

2.) Nature and Grace remain distinct for Bavinck but Grace has an impact on nature thus indicating that Grace is not divorced from nature (Darryl’s Spiritual from Common).

3.) For Bavinck Socialism, Anarchism, and Communism (SAC) had to be opposed by all right minded Christians because SAC are part of the disordered sin sick reality that nature was poisoned with. SAC creates sick reality because they identify sin w/ nature, and creation w/ the fall, and so in order to attack sin and the fall they attack nature and thus seek to pull down God’s institutional created social order that includes family, state, and society, preferring instead a sinful social order where God’s diversity is blended into a humanistic Unitarian sameness. This creates the sick reality that Bavinck speaks of and it explains why Bavinck can write,

(The special revelation that comes to us in Christ), “keeps the two (nature & grace) in clear distinction; it acknowledges nature, everywhere and without reservation, but it nevertheless joins battle w/ sin on every front. It seeks reformation of natural life, always and everywhere, but only for the purpose and by the means of liberating it from unrighteousness.” H. Bavinck

This insight is also determinative for the assessment of concrete events and movements in social and political affairs. Bavinck could write,

“Because the gospel is concerned exclusively w/ liberation from sin, it leaves all natural institutions intact. It is in principle opposed to all socialism, communism and anarchism, since these never oppose only sin, but identify (through the denial of the Fall) sin w/ nature, unrighteousness w/ the very institution of family, state and society, and thus creation w/ the Fall. For the same reason the Gospel is averse to revolution of any kind, which arises out of the principle of unbelief, since such revolution, in its overthrowing of the existing order, makes no distinction between nature and sin, and eradicates the good together w/ the bad. The gospel, by contrast, always proceeds reformationally. The gospel itself brings about the greatest reformation, because it brings liberation from guilt, renews the heart, and thus in principle restores the right relation of man to God.”

4.) Where the Gospel flourishes and brings Reformation (i.e. counter-Revolution) SAC is brought to heel since SAC is the revolutionary antithesis based on the principle of unbelief. From this I would say that we can legitimately conclude that Reformation is being granted where SAC is seen in abysmal retreat. Where SAC isn’t in retreat there is no Reformation.

So, for Biblical Christianity, Church Assemblies when speaking to the horrors of abortion are speaking to Spiritual realities.

Darryl finishes,

The bottom line is that the Bible does not solve the problems that critics of 2k think it does. If you believe in Christian liberty, which is premised upon the idea that Christians have liberty in matters where Scripture is silent — from whether or not to meet for worship at 11:00 on Sundays to whether or not to drive an SUV — then appealing to the Bible will not yield the unity or uniformity in politics or culture that Bible thumpers tout.

The bottom line that the Bible does solve problems that critics of R2K says it does. Further, the bottom line is that R2K is a public square antinomianism in its refusal to speak against the Spirit of the Age. R2K would rather invoke the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” invisibility cloak around the Church so that she doesn’t have to contend against the idols of the age, and then to make it worse it wraps that invisibility cloak in pious language like “liberty of conscience” in order to sanctify its doctrine of capitulation and surrender to this present evil age.

Second, the fact that men can not be united or uniform on the clear teaching of the Scripture no more disproves Scriptures perspicuity on these matters than the existence of Socinians, Arminians, and Jehovah Witnesses proves that the Bible doesn’t speak clearly when it comes to theology proper. All because men are disunited on the meaning of Scripture does not mean that Scripture does not clearly speak and provide a place for common ground for God’s people to rally upon.

Finally, trying to suggest that the Church speaking out on what SUV I drive is in the same category of the Church Assemblies speaking out against abortion is not even worthy of a serious response.

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.

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