I will continue to engage on the R2Kt (radical two Kingdom Theology) virus which with Westminster West is seeking to infect the Church. Beyond my basic problems with R2Kt I get annoyed at guys like Dr. R. Scott Clark and Westminster West toadies because they are forever insisting that they alone are the pure expression of Confessional Reformed Theology, and they do so with faces firmly set against hurricane force winds of contrary evidence blowing against them. I understand that Westminster West is considering changing their motto to ‘Never let the facts get in the way of your ideology.’ It’s almost as if they are practicing the ‘Big Lie’ philosophy, which teaches that if you tell a big enough lie long enough people will eventually begin to believe your lie.
Dr. R. Scott Clark offers,
Why must “the church” engage the culture?
Why can’t Christians engage the culture?
Why must we form this kind of dichotomy between personal individual responsibility and corporate responsibility?
Naturally, no Reformed Christian teaches that individual Christians can’t engage the culture. But that’s not really Bob’s beef. Bob’s beef is that the Church should have any role speaking to anything except personal and individual salvation. Bob refuses to believe that Christ brings salvation not only to individuals but also to the institutional and cultural infra-structures that people, in societal relationships build. So the first reason why the Church must engage the culture is because the salvation that Jesus brought extends beyond individuals to the whole Cosmos. Jesus intends to save the WHOLE WORLD — which includes culture. The second reason that the Church must engage the culture is because culture is people group theology made manifest. Now since the Church is THE PLACE where Theology is supposed to be most ardently pursued, one would think that it would have a word or two to speak to the incarnated concrete theology that we call ‘culture.’ I just find it all inexplicable that I should have to explain this. The third reason that the Church must engage culture is because it can’t help but engage culture. Look, if the Church refuses to engage culture that refusal is itself an engaging of culture. An engagement which says to the culture, ‘do as you please, we have no authoritative Word for you.’ Such a Word is an engagement The consequence of such a engagement by way of disengaging is that the larger culture begins to incarnate a Theology that is not biblical, which in turn leads to the Church being impressed and shaped in its theology by those individuals who have been impressed and shaped by the theology they are absorbing from the culture that is not being spoken to by the Church.
Let’s also keep in mind that the last time the Theology of R. Scott Clark prevailed on a geographically wide scene was the Lutheran Church in Germany between 1933-1945. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the Church not engaging the culture.
Nothing about two-kingdoms theology says that Christians can’t engage the culture. Why can’t the institutional church be left to its proper business: preaching Christ, administering the sacraments, and administering discipline. As far as I can see the visible, institutional church can hardly manage that let alone taking back whatever for Jesus.
But Bob, what is the reason that it ‘can hardly manage that’? I would contend the reason that the Church can hardly manage that is because the pagan culture that we have not been speaking to appropriately has come into the Church. Bob, you can’t realistically think you can make the Church an island that is unaffected by the tides of the culture in which it exists. If we will not engage the incarnated pagan theology (culture) then the incarnated pagan theology (culture) will engage us (the Church) — and not beneficently so.
And just to be clear, I don’t know of any bellwether Theocrats or Theonomists throughout Reformed History that didn’t believe and wouldn’t agree that the Church needs to be preaching Christ, administering the sacraments, and administering discipline. It’s not as if Theocrats and Theonomists throughout Reformed Church history haven’t week in and week out been about the proper business of the Church in Worship.
Yes, CHRISTIANS SHOULD ENGAGE THE CULTURE — pay attention! Yes, I’m shouting. Yes, there is a kulturkampf, but there probably has always been one of sorts. The question is not “whether” but rather the questions are by whom and how and to what end? Christians should engage the culture on the basis of natural REVELATION and they should preach the law to the culture which is what culture is about. Art, language, music, law, and whatever else composes a culture is about law. All these things must be done in obedience to certain laws. It is about understanding these laws.
Bob would have us draw laws by appeal to natural revelation and not from God’s Holy Word. And yet, natural revelation or natural law has as many variants as there are types of beetles in the world. What standard will adjudicate between the varying natural laws that men espouse?
Now, to be sure there is only one true natural law. But we can’t expect non-Christians, because of how they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, to find any reason to tip their hats to the one true natural law. Does Bob need a refresher course on total depravity?
Second, Bob doesn’t realize that it is also entirely possible and even likely that Christians won’t even agree on how to ‘understand these laws.’ Since, Bob would have individual Christians appeal to natural law as their authority then it is conceivable that there will be as many Natural laws as there are individual Christians.
The gospel (which is the basis for any Christian notion of “transformation”) has been committed to the church and is found there, not in the culture. Transformation, properly defined, belongs to Christians and to the visible church in anticipation of the eschaton.
I agree that the Gospel is found uniquely in the Church. It is the institution where Redemption is proclaimed. However, all because we admit that Gospel is found uniquely in the Church doesn’t mean that the Church can’t speak about what that Gospel looks like as it effects the Culture. The Church is where Redemption is proclaimed. The culture is where the proclaimed redemption incarnates itself. The Church must speak both to the essence of what the Gospel is and the consequent of what the Gospel looks like. We cannot divorce the message of the Gospel from the implications or outworkings of the Gospel.
The attempt to apply the category of “transformation” to the culture is the result of an over-realized eschatology and goes hand-in-hand with the confusion of the church with the culture.
And Bob’s amillennialism and his R2Kt theology is the result of an under-realized eschatology and goes hand in hand with the expectation that in this world the Gospel is defeated.