McAtee & Calvin Contra Comrade Keller

“Israel was characterized by theocratic rule in which both idolatry in which both idolatry and adultery were offenses punished by the state. But in the NT this changed. Christians do not constitute a theocratic kingdom-state, but exist as an international community of local assemblies living in every nation and culture, under many different governments to whom they give great respect but never absolute allegiance. Jesus’ famous teaching to ‘render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ (Matthew 22:21) signaled this change in relationship between Church and State to one of non-establishment.”

Comrade Tim Keller
Generous Justice — p. 21-22

1.) There is ZERO textual proof in Scripture that the consequence of Jesus coming in the NT is that idolatry and adultery are no longer to be punished by the State. Now, it is certain that non-Christian pagan states in many instances do not bring penalty against idolatry and adultery. However the fact that pagan states don’t enforce God’s law is not proof that God therefore does not still require Christian states, should they exist, to punish idolatry and adultery with criminal punishment.

2.) It is true that currently one would be hard pressed to identify a nation-state that is explicitly theocratically ruled by the God of the Bible, but once again, that does not prove that there should not be nation-states explicitly theocratically ruled by the God of the Bible and His law-word. Keller is arguing “is not, therefore ought not.” This is a fallacious way to reason on Keller’s part.
On these first two points John Calvin agrees with me and disagrees with Comrade Keller.

“Then let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”

John Calvin
Sermon on Deuteronomy
Sermon 87
Deuteronomy 13:5

Who are you going to trust … Calvin or Comrade Keller

3.) Don’t miss the sneaky little premise of Comrade Keller that the norm for today is a kind of ecclesiastical Internationalism. Keller presupposes that Christianity is not to have or won’t have such influence that a nation-state may own Christ as its own so that it indeed decides to be theocratically under the God of the Bible vis-a-vis the theocratic god they were previously under. Keller seems to miss the point that every state, without exception, is theocratically organized. The question is never “will we be subservient in our government to some god or not,” but instead the question is always, “which god will this government be subservient unto?”

4.) Keller’s argument for non-establishment is also fallacious. Non-establishment is a myth. All states ALWAYS have established churches. Scepter and mitre ALWAYS walk together. For example the established church of the current USA are the humanistic state sanctioned government schools.

5.) Jesus’ words regarding God and Caesar no more teaches disestablishment than it teaches all taxation is always biblical just on Caesars say so. Jesus say to give unto God the things that are Gods. Does anybody seriously believe that Jesus would have refused the idea that Caesar belongs to God and so should be rendered to God? One could easily argue also from the text that as everything belongs to God absolutely and nothing belongs to Caesar absolutely therefore nothing is to be rendered to Caesar and everything is to be rendered to God. After all, “the earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof.”

So, we see here that Comrade Keller is in significant error in the way he handles the text. Are we surprised?

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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