Neither A Borrower Nor A Lender Be … Or … Rabbi Bret Contra Darryl Gnostic Hart

Over at Old Life blog, Darryl Gnostic Hart inks a response to an earlier post of mine taking him to task over his inconsistencies. He titles his article,

Rabbi Bret Borrowing Capital from Those 2k Swiss Bank Accounts

One wonders if Darryl’s choice of Bank Accounts in Switzerland for his title was a Freudian slip as Switzerland is famous for its neutrality.

I really would prefer if Darryl would refer to me as, “Your Eminence,” but “Rabbi Bret,” will have to do until Darryl is cleansed from his Jewish inclinations.

In his article D. G. (“G” is for Gnostic) Hart writes,

On the one hand, I am touched that the good Rabbi would devote ten-plus paragraphs to refuting a minor question I raised about epistemological self-consciousness. On the other hand, I am hurt that Bret shows more charity to Ron Paul than to me. Despite the crusty and vinegary exterior, I am really a pussy cat in person, without claws — the effects perhaps of living with cats for more than two decades — and not to be missed I can cry with the best of them, being the son of a private first-class Marine who was a weeper. I try to console myself that Bret is only opposed to 2k as a set of ideas; he does not dislike (all about) me.

We learn from this paragraph that Darryl and I share life with cats in common. I always figured if cats were good enough for the Egyptians they were good enough for me. I don’t know what drives Darryl’s fondness.

In terms of my sentiments for Darryl on a personal level it is as Michael Corleone said to his Brother Sonny,

“It’s not personal, Darryl. It’s strictly business.

Darryl writes in his post,

Still, the tolerance that anti-2kers show to non-Reformed Protestants (e.g. Ron Paul) and even to non-Christian ideas (more below) is puzzling and suggests a level of personal antagonism that is unbecoming. In the case of Ron Paul, Bret tries to justify his intention to vote for the libertarian Republican as consistent with Christian faith because this proposed vote has received flak from a theonomist …

Here Darryl has a long quote from me lifted from a previous post of my own explaining my support for Congressman Ron Paul.

First, there seems to be some implication in what Darryl writes that a vote for Ron Paul is inconsistent with the Christian faith and yet Congressman Paul can write,

“I have never been one who is comfortable talking about my faith in the political arena. In fact, the pandering that typically occurs in the election season I find to be distasteful. But for those who have asked, I freely confess that Jesus Christ is my personal Savior, and that I seek His guidance in all that I do. I know, as you do, that our freedoms come not from man, but from God….”

I offer this quote to suggest that a vote for Ron Paul is not a vote for a pagan, and quite contrary to what Darryl writes above Rep. Paul’s background is of the Reformed stripe (Lutheran and Episcopalian). But let us press on to the heart of the matter.

Darryl writes at Old Life,

“First things first? Does not the first table of the law come before the second table? Does not doing what is right in God’s eyes take precedence over what may be beneficial to the survival of the United States? In which case, could it be that Bret is letting his own political convictions dictate what comes first? As I’ve said a guhzillion times, Covenanters would not construe first things this way. They refused to vote, run for office, or serve in the military because the first thing — Christ’s Lordship — was not part of the U.S. Constitution. I disagree that the Constitution must include such an affirmation. But I greatly admire the Covenanters’ consistency and wish Rabbi Bret would be as hard nosed in the political realm as he is with (all about) me in the theological arena.”

First, I am not a Covenanter, so why Darryl brings them up is unclear.

Second, yes the first table comes before the second table, but the Law is undivided. And as God’s undivided law requires me to show my love to God by showing my love to neighbor there is nothing inconsistent or unbiblical or extra-biblical in a vote for Congressman Paul. Indeed a vote for Paul has Biblical warrant.

If we could reduce this to the simplest illustration that even a Gnostic could understand we, as US citizens, are in a position of being beat up by the schoolyard bully (The State). Now, the law (Sixth word) requires me

That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor, by myself or by another; but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: also, that I [c] hurt not myself, nor willfully expose myself to any danger. Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (Heidelberg Catechism, answer Lord’s Day 105

A vote for Rep. Paul is a vehicle by which I can stop the dishonoring, hating, wounding and killing of my neighbor that I am in doing by proxy (by another) through the Leviathan State. Ron Paul is not the ideal candidate and I am not looking for societal salvation by means of Ron Paul but I have Biblical warrant to support Ron Paul in order that the violation of the 6th commandment by the State may cease. So, per Darryl’s concern, I am doing what is right in God’s eyes, and this is beneficial to the survival of these united States at the same time. No conflict at all here between the two, and nothing inconsistent in my position, despite Darryl’s insistence to the contrary.

Darryl continues,

What seems to be operative here is that Rabbi Bret borrows selectively from 2k by using non-biblical standards for evaluating the United States’ political order. He says we must follow wisdom in the current election cycle. Well, what happened to the Bible as the standard for all of life? And just how do you get a license to practice such wisdom (when 2kers are the ones who issue them)?

Above I’ve clearly shown that the wisdom I am following is derivative of explicit Biblical sanction and has warrant from the Scripture. Hence, Darryl’s questions are meaningless and without punch. There is no use of R2K methodology on my part.

Darryl continues,

Additional evidence of the Rabbi’s appeal to wisdom and implicit use of 2k comes in a good post he wrote about the differences between “classical” conservatism and neo-conservatism. I’ll paste here only one of the piece’s five points (though the entire post is worthwhile for those who don’t know the differences among conservatism):

Neo-conservatives believe that America is responsible to expand American values and ideology at the point of a bayonet. This was the governing ideology of progressive Democrats like Woodrow Wilson who desired to make the world safe for Democracy. However, before the Wilsonian motto of making the world safe for Democracy (a motto largely taken up by the Bush II administration) Wilson understood the American instinct for a humble foreign policy by campaigning in 1916 with the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” Before American entry into W.W. II the classically conservative approach to involvement in international affairs was one of modesty, as seen in the previous mentioned Wilson approach to campaigning in 1916. Classical conservatism, as opposed to neo-conservatism embraced the dictum of John Quincy Adams who once noted that, “America is a well-wisher of liberty everywhere, but defender only of her own.”

However, today’s conservatism is internationally militantly adventurous. What is sold by those who have co-opted the title of “conservative,” is the exporting of American values but the dirty little secret is that the American values that are being exported in the name of Democracy is just a warmed over socialism combined with some form of Corporate consumerism.

Good point, but where exactly is the justification for this from Scripture or the Lordship of Christ or the antithesis? I’m betting that loads of Christian Reformed Church ministers and laity who invoke the antithesis every bit as much as the Rabbi does, would never countenance Bret’s understanding of U.S. foreign policy. In which case, either the Bible speaks with forked tongue about a nation’s military involvement or all neo-Calvinists are dictating to special revelation what their “wise” observations of the created order and contemporary circumstances require. Why then are 2kers guilty of doing something illegitimate if Rabbi Bret or liberals in the CRC do the very same thing?

Bret responds,

The Justification for this from Scripture comes from the Sixth Word again (see above blockquote of the Heidelberg Catechism). I also could likewise invoke the teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism on the 8th word to show how exporting unbiblical socialism is not a Biblical thing to do. So, I have justification from Scripture for my convictions, and those justifications honor the Lordship of Jesus Christ and they keep the antithesis in place and they do not at all borrow from R2K “thought” processes. As such all of Darryl’s criticisms are irrelevant.

Darryl Gnostic Hart continues,

Which leads me back to the deep emotional wound mentioned at the outset. In his response to my post on epistemological self-consciousness, Bret says that it all comes down to this:

I mean that is what this boils down to isn’t it? Van Til repeatedly emphasized the necessity of epistemological self-consciousness while Darryl is suggesting that each man must do what is right in his own unique epistemological self consciousness. One epistemologically self-conscious Christian likes Kant, another epistemologically self conscious Christian likes Hegel. Vive la différence!

This is an odd summary of the entire difference since at the beginning of the post Bret says that the notion of the Lordship of Christ was hardly a Dutch Reformed idea, and then he goes on to say that it all comes down to a point made (as he understands it) about the Lordship of Christ by a Dutch-American.

Bret responds,

I find it fascinating that Darryl gloms on to a reference to Van Til to try to reinforce his earlier point that all this “Christ as Lord” stuff was a Dutch Reformed phenomenon. This was a point I destroyed with the below quotes from Presbyterians that he completely ignored choosing to make a silly reference to Van Til somehow being unique in advocating for the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

“It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or of its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness. The Bible, the great statute-book of the Kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said, with regard to all descriptions of moral agents in all spheres of activity, “He that is not with me is against me.” If the national life in general is organized upon non-Christian principles, the churches which are embraced within the universal assimilating power of that nation will not long be able to preserve their integrity.

A. A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology, p. 283-84

And again from the son of the Charles Hodge,

If professing Christians are unfaithful to the authority of their Lord in their capacity as citizens of the State, they cannot expect to be blessed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in their capacity as members of the Church. The kingdom of God is one, it cannot be divided.

Princeton President A. A. Hodge, Respected Presbyterian

Then there is Darryl’s favorite Presbyterian, J. Gresham Machen, who could write,

“Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.”

J. Gresham Machen
1912 centennial commemorative lecture at Princeton Seminary

“Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.”

~J. Gresham Machen

Then there is the granddaddy of all Presbyterian John Calvin,

Calvin’s commentary on Luke 14:23 (in Volume 32, i.e. Harmony of the Gospels, Volume 2, at page 173):

Luke 14:23. Compel them to come in. This expression means, that the master of the house would give orders to make use, as it were, of violence for compelling the attendance of the poor, and to leave out none of the lowest dregs of the people. By these words Christ declares that he would rake together all the offscourings of the world, rather than he would ever admit such ungrateful persons to his table. The allusion appears to be to the manner in which the Gospel invites us; for the grace of God is not merely offered to us, but doctrine is accompanied by exhortations fitted to arouse our minds. This is a display of the astonishing goodness of God, who, after freely inviting us, and perceiving that we give ourselves up to sleep, addresses our slothfulness by earnest entreaties, and not only arouses us by exhortations, but even compels us by threatenings to draw near to him. At the same time, I do not disapprove of the use which Augustine frequently made of this passage against the Donatists, to prove that godly princes may lawfully issue edicts, for compelling obstinate and rebellious persons to worship the true God, and to maintain the unity of the faith; for, though faith is voluntary, yet we see that such methods are useful for subduing the obstinacy of those who will not yield until they are compelled.”

Darryl continues,

But aside from the intellectual hiccup,

Bret responds,

After those quotes who is the one can’t find a cure to his intellectual hiccups?

Darryl presses as one going where angels fear to tread,

“But aside from the intellectual hiccup, does Bret really not see that his own support for Ron Paul throws the antithesis to the wind. Paul doesn’t have to be a Reformed Christian affirming the Lordship of Christ to gain Bret’s support. Bret’s analysis of conservatism doesn’t need to follow the dictates of the antithesis in order for it to be wise. And yet, if I or other 2kers don’t follow the antithesis when recognizing a common realm of activity for believers and unbelievers, or when finding truths by which to negotiate this common terrain other than from Scripture (only because the Bible is silent, for instance, on basements or how to remove water from them), we are relativists and antinomians. (We don’t even get a little credit for putting the anti in antinomian.)”

1.) I’ve shown that my support for Ron Paul is consistent with the 6th commandment from God’s law therefore I have not thrown the antithesis to the wind.

2.) Paul doesn’t have to be a Reformed Christ affirming the Lordship of Christ to gain my vote but Paul does does have to and has shown himself to be a tool who can be used consistent with the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

3.) Bret’s analysis of conservatism does follow the dictates of the antithesis either by explicit word or by necessary consequence.

4.) R2K’ers are antinomians and cultural relativists because they insist that the Bible does not speak at all to the common realm and as such all that is left is a “every man does what is right in his own eyes approach” in the putative common realm. R2k’ers insist that there is no such thing as Christian culture thus leaving culture to be animated by the beliefs in false gods since culture is defined as theology animated.

And in terms of basements the Scriptures are clear that they are not to be dug in order to bury people in them and that shovels are not to be used as cudgels to beat people with while digging. Scripture does speak to digging basements.

Darryl finishes,

“Until the critics of 2k can possibly create a world in which the antithesis applies all the time, they will be indebted to 2k for borrowed capital. The reason is that it is impossible to live in a mixed society if the sort of antithesis that will ultimately result in the separation of the sheep from the wolves is going to be the norm. The antithesis requires not only withholding support from Ron Paul, but also opposition to a political order that would allow him on the ballot (not to mention that difficult matter of what to do with Mitt Romney’s Mormons or Rick Santorum’s Roman Catholics). Bret believes that the “Escondido” theology will one day pass away like the Mercersburg Theology did. I too believe it will, whenever God chooses to separate believers from unbelievers. But until then, as long as we live with unbelievers, guys like Bret will need and use 2k theology. I only wish he’d show a little gratitude and start to pay off the debt. He is well behind in payments and snarky about it.”

The critics of R2K readily admit the world isn’t as it should be. In fact the R2K critics can really only explain why. R2K is not and most certainly cannot be agitated about a world that is in rebellion to the Lordship of Christ. Whether it is possible or not to live in a “mixed” society is hardly the issue. The issue is whether or not the Christian should in fact apply the Law Word to every area of life, and judge good and bad based on the Word of God or our feelings. R2K emphatically says “no, we should not.” Biblical Christianity most certainly says “yes.”

In this response I have shown that I am not indebted to R2K for any of their capital and have not borrowed at all from their loony tune reasoning. I have no debt to pay to the fan boys of Dr. Meredith Kline and their completely innovative “theology.” All I can say Darryl regarding those arrears payments is, (insert snarky voice) “the check is in the mail.”

The antithesis, as I have shown, does not forswear me from supporting Ron Paul, and compels me to oppose a social order that is in rebellion to King Jesus. In point of fact, consistent with the antithesis, I support Ron Paul to oppose the current un-biblical social order.

I am sure Escondido theology will one day pass away the same day Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism passes away.

See you in the funny pages Darryl.

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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