The Word “World” In a Structure and Direction Paradigm

Today we want to start with the fall in Genesis. We know from the Genesis text that resulted in a lack of intimacy with God and man. Instead of God and man walking in the cool of the Garden in a harmony of interest, there is a summons by God for man to come forth that is resisted by a fall-driven emotion called “fear” (Gen. 3:8), and reveals a first time conflict of interest between God and His creation. Sin has entered the world via Satan’s temptation and man’s disobedience and the immediate consequence is a disordered world between God and man.

This disordered world then ripples out to man as seen in the lack of taking responsibility or ownership for their role in the fall. Adam blames God and Eve … Eve blames the Serpent. The conflict of interest that was absent in the Garden becomes a conflict of interest not only between God and man but between man and man.

Of course we know that these are not the only consequences of the fall … of man’s sin. Romans 5 tells us,

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—

This is the common teaching we find here that Adam’s fall, acting as mankind’s Federal covenant head meant that all men share in the culpability of Adam’s sin. The puritans taught this to their children in their rhyme books, “In Adam’s fall, we sinned all.” So the fall had a universal impact on mankind.

However, the negative impact of the fall is not only restricted to Adam and his human descendants but we also learn that the impact of the fall reaches beyond our first parents. We see that most immediately in Gen. 3:17 God curses the ground because of Adam’s sin. Already we see here that the Fall is not restricted to mankind. We get a fuller reading of this later in Scripture

Romans 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of [f]corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

Here we see that the fall was cosmic so that not only did all of mankind fall in Adam but also all creation fell with the entrance of sin.

Scriptures teach that the fall was an event that resulted in all of God’s good creation being twisted and distorted from how it dropped originally from God’s hand. All of creation is involved in the drama of the fall and all of creation is involved in the drama of God’ restoration.

This is how serious the Fall is. We are living in a fallen world and sometimes that is more obvious to us than at other times. As we age we feel the fallenness of the world more. As we find dreams we once had for the future not coming to pass we feel the fallenness of the world much more. When relationships become tense and full of friction we feel our fallenness. We come to have an existential understanding that nothing in creation remains unaffected by the fall.

There is a term used in Scripture that tries to capture the impact and vast measure of the fall and that is the word “world.”

However, it is a sneak word that has been much mishandled over the centuries leading to some very suspect theology. The word “world” referring to the idea of the negative consequence of the fall we find in passages like,

Romans 12:2 where the Spirit says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.”

Now here clearly the word “world” has the meaning of fallenness. I am going to suggest that what Paul is saying here that Christians are not to conform any longer to the pattern of this world as this world lies in the grips of the fall.

We are going to see that Paul is not saying flee this world or give up on this world. He is using the word “world” in a very specific sense and that specific sense is the idea of the world in connection to its fallenness.

Another example of this usage of the word world is found in Colossians 2:8 where he talks about,

“… deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”

We find the same sense when James writes,

“1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Peter chimes in with this kind of usage of the word world

II Pt. 2:20 – If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing out Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In all of these cases, the word world is used in a negative sense. But we have to realize that all words have a range of meaning and in this case world in it usage refers to life as it is lived under the aegis of sinful rebellion outside of Christ.

One of our theologians put it that this usage of the word world, “refers to the totality of unredeemed life dominated by sin outside of Christ.”

So “world” in this usage is the resultant consequence of what the fall did to make abnormal the creation as it fell from God’s hand all well and good. In the usage of the word in this way wherever you find the inversion of God’s created order to purposes that defy God’s original structure of creation there you find “world.” It is in this sense that James can say, “Friendship with the world is enmity towards God.” Friendship with that which is the opposite intent of God in his creation is hatred towards the creator God.”

This is important to grasp because the lack of a proper understanding of this has led to some very unfortunate conclusions that have in turn led to some very unfortunate theology – so-called.

Instead of this understanding of the word “world” as meaning “the created order operating as in sinful rebellion to God,” the Church has to often snatched on to the word to refer to some distinct aspect of creation that is in and of itself “evil.” Whatever those areas might be we tend then to refer to those areas as “worldly”… or later we used the word “secular.” In doing so we created a category of sacred vs. secular where we listed some things that were sacred – things which were to be honored – and we listed some things that were worldly – things that we need to stay away from.

An example of this type of thinking is found in the film “Chariots of Fire.”

In that film Eric, the Christian Olympian has a close sister named Jennie. Jennie wants Eric for the China mission field and is not wild about her brother running in the Olympics. She believes that Eric has more important things to do. Jennie tries to convince Eric to come to China with her and forget all this running and racing. In the way we are trying to explain things this morning Jennie has turned running and racing into something “worldly,” and pleads for Eric to leave that in order to do the important “sacred” thing of going to China to do missionary work.

What we are going to continue to try and advance this morning is that is not a Biblical way to think. It is not Biblical to create “sacred” and “worldly” realms that find God automatically not present in some handling of the creational structures of His world while God is uber present in other fields like the ministry or being a missionary.

What has happened is that we have created unbiblical compartmentalization in our thinking where some fields are profane/worldly – fields like politics, or journalism while other fields are automatically “sacred” like being a minister or missionary. This fails to take into account that there can be in the ministry (and often there is indeed) worldliness while sacredness can be found among magistrates.

Scripture teaches us that whether you eat or drink, or whatever you dodo it all for the glory of God. There is no restriction of that command to being applicable only in the sacred realm and not being applicable in some worldly realm.

It simply is the case that the fall can get into every area of life so that every area of life is “worldly.” Doubt me? Just come along with me as I briefly chronicle worldliness in the Church. Karl Barth, whom Billy Graham once said was the greatest theologian in the 20th century lived with his wife and mistress for years. This has only recently been found out. The chap who took over a huge ministry in Florida some 12 or so years ago was quickly bounced for his sexual indiscretions. A chap who had a huge homeschool Christian ministry running out of Texas had to give up the profitable business because he thought the Nanny was one of the perks. I could go on for quite some time but this is just to illustrate that the ministry or the Church is not a compartmentalized place where “worldliness” can’t come in.

And on the other side, it is clear from all kinds of examples in history that the sacred attached itself to areas we tend to label as worldly. We can think of Elector Fredrick protecting Luther as a Magistrate. Was not that a sacred work? We can think of Patrick Henry’s or Edmund Burke’s stirring speeches as Magistrates and easily conclude that those were done for the glory of God. What about Gen. Anton Denikin the leader of the White Christian Russian army that resisted the Marxists. Could not Denikin fight to the glory of God?

So, what we are seeing here is that while the fall affected everything in creation, the structures of creation can still be handled by Godly men in a Christ-honoring direction and so give glory to God or the structures of creation can be handled by the godless in a Christ-hating direction and so bring disrepute upon God.

The fall does not make certain structures of creation out of bounds in terms of experiencing Redemption when handled by God’s Redeemed people who in handling those creational structures according to God’s law are moving those structures in the direction of God’s glory.

Let’s take some examples.

Everyone knows that sexuality and sex are creational structures that God made. Everyone also knows that sex and sexuality as fallen can become an ugly thing but the fallenness of sex and sexuality does not automatically make sex and sexuality “worldly.” Sex and sexuality can be handled by Christians in the boundaries of Marriage as holiness unto the Lord. Christians can handle sex and sexuality in a Christ-honoring direction.

War might be another example. Everyone knows how ugly war can be, but war in and of itself is not automatically “worldly.” War is a structure of creation and it can be handled in a godless direction and so lead to Americans putting a 1million German non armed combatants in death camps after Germany had been defeated in WW II (See book “Other Losses”) or war can be handled in a godly direction and so lead to Americans defending their homes in just war against unjust invaders. War as a creational structure is not inherently worldly. The only question is will we handle the creational structure of war in a godly direction as before God’s face or will we handle the creational structure of war in a godless direction.

So, what we are saying here is that while the fall did have a cosmic wide impact, it is also the case that with the Redemption that comes in Jesus Christ those creational structures that fell from God’s hand in Creation can all be handled to the glory of God. We dare not compartmentalize creational structures and say that some creational structures are automatically out of bounds because they are “worldly.” We dare not create a theology that talks about the glories of the “bi-furcated life.”

I mean … many of us grew up with this mindset. You can’t play cards because “cards are worldly” but you can play “Rook” because Rook is not worldly. You can’t do square dancing because dancing is “worldly.” You can’t study politics because that is worldly but you can study theology because that is holy.

Do you see what happens when we wrongly bifurcate the world this way?

1.) First, we become un-engaged. If we keep absenting our Christian witness from all those areas we consider “worldly” … so fallen they can’t be handled by good Christians then by default we surrender those fields to those who hate Christ. If we conclude that politics is automatically worldly then what chance will politics have of being Redeemed? If politics is not animated by Christians handling the creational structure of politics in a Christ-honoring fashion how will our Magistrates not just keep going from bad to worse? Do you want to know why our social order is like a snowball headed for hell? One reason is because of this kind of bifurcated “theology.”

2.) When we bifurcate the world this way we become practicing Gnostics. This is the fault of many pietists in the past and it is the dreadful fault of Radical Two Kingdom Theology. When we bifurcate the world this way so that there is a realm of nature called “worldly,” or called “common,” and we make that distinct from a realm of grace that is called “Holy” we have essentially deprecated all that falls in the realm of nature in favor of this super holy realm of grace.

3.) We give up on the ancient Reformed maxim that “grace restores nature.” The Reformers have always taught this idea that grace has an effect on the creational structure (nature) that when the creational structures (nature) are touched by God’s grace those creational structures (nature) experience a restoration that promises ongoing restoration in a Christ-honoring direction.

Allow me a brief rabbit trail on this one. We have so much given up on the idea that grace restores nature that we are now effectively embracing the idea that grace destroys nature. There is teaching existing in the Church that elucidates the idea that once one is converted one no longer retains their creational identities. We are all one in Christ has become a slogan that means that we all lose our gender identity, or our ethnic identity, or our class identity once we become a Christian. This so-called thinking is completely alien to the Scriptures and is taking the good principle that all men regardless of their creational identities are welcome at the Cross and turning it into a Cultural Marxist meme that at the cross men lose their creational identities. To push this is to push rank heresy.

So…let us briefly summarize where we have been.

1.) The fall affects all of creation and until Redemption comes to release a structure of creation from the baleful effects of the fall it continues to be under “the prince of this world (John 12:31).

2.) However, the Redemption that Christ brought when He as the Kingdom of God brought in the Kingdom of God rescues fallen men who then in turn handle the fallen structures of creation in a God-honoring direction.

3.) There are no creational structures as falling from the hand of God in creation that cannot be handled for the glory of God and so take part in Redemption.

4.) The business of all Redeemed Christians is to bring the fragrance of the Kingdom of God to every creational structure so that it serves the King in the direction it is being used.

Implications

This means that as we seek to wrest these creational structures from the godless direction in which they are being put to service by unredeemed men that friction will be the result. Those outside of Christ like operating God’s creational structures in a God-dishonoring way. They like, for example, twisting sex and sexuality so that it results in the most grotesque expressions. They like, for example, twisting God’s design of creation so that men and peoples are gifted with differing abilities into an egalitarian and equity Utopian social order that mocks God’s intent.

The Christ haters won’t like those creational structures partaking in Redemption when in the hands of Redeemed men and women, and when that begins to happen in any quarter they will squeal like a two-year-old who has been denied for the first time his will.

We have to understand this in order to understand our times.

By way of implication, we have to understand that all this is complicated by a Church that itself acts like a creational structure that is now in the hands of the unredeemed who are operating the church in a Christ-dishonoring direction. We need to note this because as the Redeemed seeking to bring a Christ-honoring direction to creational structures we are consistently being told by those who identify as “the Church” that we are being godless… that we are being haters of Christ ourselves.

We have to steel ourselves for this. The Church, generally speaking, has given into the Cultural Marxist zeitgeist. They have reinterpreted Christianity through the philosophical prism of Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, and Max Horkheimer among others. The result is the biggest enemy of Christianity in the West today is the heretofore Conservative Reformed and Baptists Churches. They are the ones pursuing CRT, Intersectionality, and the Great Reset. They are the ones who are sitting on their hands as “celibate sodomy” pushes its way into their clergy class. They are the ones who have crafted an alien Christ and placed him where the true Christ is to be ruling. They are the ones who are crucifying again Christ to their own harm by imputing Christ’s acceptance of the foulest of social order sins and irregularities. They are the ones despising 2000 years of church history on everything from what it means to be male and female to the natural relations that God has sanctioned among families and people groups.

And unless they repent they are the ones who will hear … “Depart from me you workers of iniquity for I never knew you.”

Your Preacher & His Preaching Habits; McAtee contra “The Godless Coalition”

I’ve come to call them “The Godless Coalition.” I’ll not insist that every piece they publish is abhorrent or that some can’t be helpful. I will say however that just as one doubtless can find good food in the garbage dumpsters behind 5-star restaurants but still might decide better food sources are available so one may be able to occasionally find salutary articles in “The Godless Coalition’s” archives but why would one bother to search when there are so many other better sources available?

This piece was brought to my attention by an Iron Ink reader and friend.

Expect Less (and More) of Your Pastor in Addressing Current Events

And it’s just about what you’d expect from Kalergi Clergy who graduated from R2K Westminster Seminary California.

You can read it if you like. I’m just going to give a few observations on a few of the points that the article hits in order to eviscerate this anti-Christ thinking and that in order to provide some help to people who smell the foulness of this reasoning but who may have a hard time getting their arms around how to point out the source of the foul oder.

1.) The article argues that your Preacher is doing you a favor when he doesn’t preach on social issues like abortion, sodomy, trannie-ism, birth control, governmental deceptions of the highest order, the impact of a policy that will end in a disappearance of borders, or Magistrates who command wicked behavior. The reason your Preacher is doing you a favor for not preaching on those things is that he has more important things to preach on and your preacher has limited authority as to what he can speak to, besides… God really has no “thus saith the Lord” to speak on these types of issues.

The problem here is that

a.) This presupposes that Christ is not an all-consuming sovereign King.  The mind of Christ made known in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation doesn’t legislate on the kind of issues mentioned above. Per this R2K thinking Jesus came to save your soul, grant to you an individual if abstracted personal piety that has zero impact on public square issues. This is called “sanctification.” This denuded Jesus is the Jesus that your Preacher needs to be bringing to you every week.

b.) This presupposes that Preachers are not set apart to aid God’s people in taking every thought captive to make those thoughts obedient to Christ. The congregation instead, by way of silence in the pulpit, is allowed to conclude that God doesn’t have a word to speak on let’s say Marxism, Critical Race Theory, Existentialism, Romanticism, Intersectionality or that Uncle Frank is now Aunt Francis. All that is irrelevant as long as people can articulate the doctrines of Justification, Imputation, Regeneration, and give solid reasons why the third use of the law is no longer applicable.

Please understand, I am in no way saying that Justification, Imputation, Regeneration, Election, or the Ordo Salutis are unimportant doctrines or even less important than some of the other issues mentioned. What I am saying is that your Preacher needs to be speaking to both.

As an example … As a Preacher I can say; “Because we are Justified by the work of Christ so that our guilt is now taken away, we no longer should be a people who are laden by the false guilt that the race pimps seek to laden us with in order to manipulate our behavior by promising to rid us of guilt if we will only vote a certain way. Because we are Justified and have had our sin and guilt imputed to Christ we are not a people who accept notions of false guilt that are always being pushed on us as a means of our destruction.”

See… I just delivered a word on Justification with an appropriate application as it fits a contemporary issue. Other examples can be easily multiplied. If your  Preacher can’t do that then find another Preacher.

2.) Your Preacher has a limited message that must point you to Jesus.

The problem here is

a.) This presupposes that Salvation is only personal and individual and not corporate. While it is certainly true that any Preacher worth his salt will remind God’s people that Jesus is the only relief and cure for sin and sinners. People must be reminded constantly that Jesus Christ is their righteousness before the Father and that we rely solely on His mediatorial work to have Peace with God. However, all of that does not negate that pointing people to Jesus also includes helping people to answer the question, “How Now Shall We Live to Please God,” as a community. To preach the answer to that question from the pulpit is pointing people to Christ.

b.) The presupposes that theology is NOT the Queen of the Sciences. Everything we encounter in our lives comes to us informed by a theology that corresponds to the Christ or corresponds to some false Christ. When Preacher refuses to speak to the kinds of issues that the TGC eschews then the Preacher by his neglect is allowing his people to be pointed to some alien Christ who is not Christ. Every issue comes to us as an expression of some theology. If the minister is not preaching the mind of God on these issues he is a false shepherd.

3.) Your Preacher isn’t responsible to make sure his congregation has a shared world and life view because that is too much to expect. Your Pastor isn’t called to referee every dispute among Christians.

The problem here is;

a.) If you Preacher doesn’t give a “thus sayeth the Lord” on (as for example) “how feminism is an attack on Christ,” or “how cultural Marxism in the Church creates a different Jesus,” or ” the danger of the Great Reset as the next attempt at Babel,” etc. then what your Preacher is communicating is that God doesn’t have a “thus sayeth the Lord” for movements and theologies that have as their intent to cast His Messiah off His throne.

b.) It is true that your Pastor isn’t called to referee every dispute among Christians. It is also true that your Pastor is called to tell you that God, long ago, has solved disputes that Christians may be arguing about today.

I agree that the Minister should speak to local issues when warranted. I agree that a minister only has so many hours in a week but I would remind people that the Preacher’s primary work is prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4) and that others must take up other perceived clergy responsibilities so that your minister may excel in what he was set apart to do. Preachers are supposed to understand Christianity as communicated in God’s Word and then are to understand the times and know what must be done in light of that understanding and then are to Preach like their hair is on fire so that some may be saved though singed by fire.

It is my prayer that people would flee from the kind of Preachers who take seriously the counsel offered in this “Godless Coalition” piece. I’m sure the author has good intentions. I’m also sure good intentions pave the road to hell.

Answering R2K On “Continuing Cities”

For here we do not have a continuing city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Heb. 13:14)

Radical Two Kingdom “Theology” in order to prove that Christians should NOT be politically involved or political activists as armed with a Church endorsed understanding of Scripture twist this Hebrews passage to support their public square Quietism. Per R2K, Christians are to not worry about the culture because that is being culture warriors. This passage in Hebrews is leveraged by R2K fanboys in order to communicate that since we don’t have a lasting city therefore we shouldn’t be over involved in the non-lasting cities while we are seeking this non corporeal city.

How do Biblical Christians counter this fallacious handling of the text?

Well, first we understand the Hebrews 13 passage in context. The writer to the Hebrews is NOT saying that since Christians are seeking out a disembodied city we are to be unconcerned with the cities we inhabit to the point that we don’t seek to have our cities reflect the character of God.

The writer to Hebrews was communicating to the Hebrew Christians that THE city of all cities (Jerusalem) though still standing was not the beau ideal. The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were to understand that there was a better and more permanent city that they had already come to and that was the Jerusalem of above (Hebrews 12:22-23). This was important to communicate to these Hebrews because the temptation that they were prone to was to give up Christianity in order to return to Judaism. So, the point here wasn’t that the Hebrews were to become Retreatists in terms of their place of residence but rather it was to tell the Hebrews “Don’t go back to anti-Christ Judaism.” After all, they had a heavenly city to cling to (Heb. 12:22-24) as it relates to the cult function for which they were looking. Those Hebrews didn’t need an Aaronic Priesthood, daily blood ablutions, or the venerating of the Temple. Those were obsolete because fulfilled in Christ.

In point of fact and quite to the contrary to the insistence of the R2K fanboys that Christians shouldn’t seek to transform our cities and cultures in a Christ honoring direction we see that in Acts 17 in Ephesus, the Gospel does challenge city-state power structures. There in Acts 19 the Christians, upon the impact of the Gospel, did understand their current city as lasting enough to bring magic books to be burned, old gods to be eschewed, and economic realities reorganized.

Further, Matthew 5:5 teaches that Christian are to inherit not only lasting cities but also the whole earth. How can we inherit the earth if we are to eschew it per R2K malfeasance.

Of course there remains a “not yet” to the Christian eschatological understanding. Scripture teaches that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Scripture teaches that these light and momentary afflictions are nothing to be compared to the weight of glory that shall be revealed in us. But until the time we join the Church at rest we are to be part off the Church militant and that means seeking to exercise the dominion that we have been given in Christ Jesus.

Christendom (and the Church as seen by the prevalence of R2K “theology”) is currently occupied by a foreign pagan people and is being ruled over by usurpers and this is, in part, due to the fact that we have putative theologians in the Reformed Church insisting that those who are most Holy are those who most quickly surrender to those who hate Christ. Quite to the contrary the role of the people of the Kingdom of Christ is to overthrow the usurpers, to turn the foreign pagan people back into hewers of wood and drawers of water unless they repent and to incarnate the ever present Lordship of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom into every nook and cranny of existence.

This is, in part, what…”Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as in heaven” means.

Renounce the Mephistophelian R2K… become Christian.

McAtee contra Wolfe

“If it is the case that fallen, unregenerate man can attain civil righteousness (worthy of praise among men, even from the regenerate) and if regeneration necessarily effects a radical change in the one regenerated, then the principal effect of regeneration cannot be civil righteousness, political, social, or anything related to the basic elements of civil or domestic life. The principal effect must be something else. It must be, then, the restoration of one’s immediate relationship to God, one’s orientation to the spiritual (yet-to-be-visible) kingdom of God, and true worship of God. In short, the principal effect is the adventitious infusing of heavenly gifts and the outward change in religion. The Gospel then is not essentially political, social, or anything earthly other than the true public worship of God.”

Stephen Wolfe

I don’t know Mr. Wolf well at all. He is an acquaintance.  I’ve heard he is a student working on a terminal degree. This quote comes from a piece where Mr. Wolf quotes several theologians demonstrating their belief in Natural Law. Many of those quotes spoke about how the heathen could do “good” works of civil righteousness. The quote above seems to form his conclusion if we stipulate that pagans can do “good.”

We need to keep in mind our Augustine here. Augustine called the so-called good works of the heathen, “splendid vices.” Augustine remains notorious for his insistence that the “virtues,” so-called, of pagans, are not genuine virtues at all. Luther echoed and restored this Augustinian sentiment during the Reformation.

In order for any human action in any area inclusive of civic Righteousness to be considered “righteous” that action must be done for the glory of God. If actions are not done for the glory of God those actions are splendid vices because they are being done for the glory of self. We grant that comparatively on a sliding scale, the pagans can do righteous deeds. Pagans can and do build burn hospitals. Pagans can be philanthropic. Yet any “good” action that an unconverted man or woman can do is not good considered absolutely as according to God’s standards.

So, if Augustine is correct about splendid virtues than Mr. Wolfe is incorrect in suggesting that regeneration does not touch “anything related to the basic elements of civil or domestic life.” The “noble” pagan upon regeneration may do the same types of works in his civil or domestic lives but now they are doing their doing on a different axis. Whereas before their “noble” acts were for their own glory, now their noble acts are for the glory of God. Because of regeneration, this is a monumental shift.

There may be a bit of a false dichotomy going on in the opening quote. It is true that the primary impact of regeneration is “the restoration of one’s immediate relationship to God, one’s orientation to the spiritual (yet-to-be-visible) kingdom of God, and true worship of God,” but because one’s orientation is changed in such a fashion the effect is that one’s orientation to everything from domestic life to civic righteousness to all things earthly is changed as well. This results in all things that are performed by regenerated man to be an expression of public worship of God.  

So, contra Mr. Wolfe, unregenerate man cannot perform civil righteousness per an absolute standard. All the civil righteousness of the unregenerate are just so many splendid vices.

We would also quibble with Mr. Wolfe’s intimation that the Kingdom of God is completely “yet-to-be-visible.” The Kingdom of God is already visible and according to the will of God goes from visible unto visible until such a time that it becomes visible in all of its splendor.

Mr. Wolfe strikes me, with this quote, to be close to a kind of unfortunate dualism as seen in his willingness to suggest that  “the Gospel then is not essentially political, social, or anything earthly other than the true public worship of God.” Now, the key word here is “essentially.” I would be more inclined to say that “the Gospel, in its broadest definition, then is essentially a totalistic claim that calls a man to bring the good news to every area of life including political, social, or anything earthly, especially including public worship.” 

 

Twin Spin From A. A. Hodge & B. L. McAtee

“Millenarian missionaries have a style of their own. Their theory affects their word in the way of making them seek exclusively, or chiefly, to conversion of individual souls. The true and efficient missionary method is, to aim directly, indeed, at soul winning, but at the same time to plant Christian institutions in heathen lands, which will, in time, develop according to the genius of the nationalities. English missionaries can never hope to convert the world directly by units.”

A. A. Hodge
19th Century American Reformed Theologian
Missionary to India

1.) Note that Hodge is faulting here, by way of implication, R2K “theology.” R2K would discipline Hodge for daring to plant “Christian Institutions,” since Institutions by definition can not be Christian per R2K.

2.) One can’t help but wonder, following A. A. Hodge’s logic whether or not all missionary efforts geared to exclusively or chiefly the converting of individual souls is, by definition, “millenarian.” A. A. Hodge’s Postmillennialism did not allow him to either accept premillennial or amillennial efforts at Missions to be considered normative.

These two observations above set the table for seeing that R2K is really nothing but a stalking horse attempting to institutionalize amillennial thinking as being equated to the Reformed position. R2K is seeking to broom postmillennialism off the Reformed ecclesiastical scene. A. A. Hodge would have had nothing to do with R2K.

3.) Hodge’s desire to plant Christian Institutions as combined with his criticism of a Missionary effort that focuses on individuals only indicates that Hodge understood that the task of the Christian church is to disciple the Nations. Modern theology, whether R2K or Reformed, in general, has become Baptistified. It is Baptist thinking that accounts for thinking only of building the church by means of individuals while missing the covenant implications of Biblical Christianity. The paedo Reformed Church you’re attending is most likely just a wet baby Baptist church. The Reformed Chruch, as R2K indicates has forgotten how to think covenantally.

4.) Hodge’s quote indicates that he understood the whole idea of the one and the many. Hodge understands the importance of the many by rightly noting that individual souls must be evangelized. However, Hodge also understands the importance of the One by insisting that the Nation as a whole must be converted and discipled via the planting of Christian Institutions among nations.

5.) Note Hodge says that the method of Missions that seeks to only evangelize individuals is doomed to failure. As most missions agencies apply just this very method it calls into question supporting those mission agencies. Is the Lord Christ honored by a missionary effort that eschews His command to convert and disciple whole Nations?

6.) Pay attention to Hodge’s respect for nations. Obviously, Hodge has no vision for a multicultural global Christian world that is absent of the distinct genius of distinct nations. This whole idea that God desires a Christian New World Order where nations are eclipsed is utter nonsense.

7.) Hodge understood that non-postmillennial eschatology does missions in a way that does not expect to convert the world. That this is true for premillennialist is seen in the fact that they do not believe that the Kingdom of Christ will come until Christ returns. Therefore nations will not be converted and so Christian Institutions are nonsense. That this is true for amillennialists (especially R2k which is merely consistent amillennialism) is seen in the fact that they believe the Kingdom of Christ is spiritual and exactly equivalent to the Church.  As such Nations, Institutions, Cultures, Families, Education, Law, etc. cannot be converted and so cannot be Christian. Hodge would have found such thinking execrable.

9.) Hodge understood that while Christian Institutions can’t convert, what Christian Institutions can do is, by God’s grace and providence, provide a contextual background against which their individual Christianity and confession can make sense.  For example, when individual converts have a law order that applies Christianity to the social order a contextual background is provided wherein their Christianity is supported. For example, when individual converts have an Education order that educates in the context of presupposing the God of the Bible then a contextual background is provided wherein their Christianity more easily makes sense.

10.) When Hodge says, “A style of their own,” he is indicating that Millenarian “thinking” creates a different kind of Christian. “A style of their own” can only arise out of a “thinking of their own,” and a “thinking of their own,” indicates a different kind of Christian. Anybody familiar with the premill vs. postmill or the amill vs. postmill debate realizes that the people holding these respective positions lean into life quite differently. Indeed, I would say that this observation is so true that differences on eschatologies make for different kinds of Christians as much as differences on soteriologies. Just as Arminians and Calvinists are different in their character and personality because of what they believe so the same is true with people who hold varying eschatologies. They are indeed each a people of their own.

8.) So we learn from this one quote, per Hodge,

a.) That premillennial missions is not Biblical
b.) That R2K “theology” is not Biblical
c.) That disrespect for nations as nations is not Biblical
d.) That Institutions can be Christian just as they can be Heathen
e.) That nations as nations are to be discipled
f.) Converting the world is our goal
g.) That the One and the Many must always be kept before us
h.) That the Western Reformed world has largely suffered Baptistification
i.) That differing eschatology makes for different kinds of Christians and so different versions of Christianity.

“The proposal of a non-religious basis (for education) is something novel not found anywhere in the experience of the past. To carry the theory out the language itself will have to be revolutionized and the dictionary itself expurgated; for its terminology, as well as that of the law of England is full of religion. And is it not a significant fact that in our great American Encyclopaedia there is no article on the word ‘God?’ If you ask how far I would advocate religious training, I reply, that the best practical system I have known was the old Scottish parochial system, though it is to be feared that, instead of getting back to that, things, as with the New England schools, are going in the opposite direction. Christianity should be recognized publicly by this country. Christ should be recognized in the law of our land as the Supreme Ruler of our nation. I am a member of a society striving for this end; the principle is right, whatever our success may be. We should insist that if the State has a right to educate she must not educate in infidel history and philosophy, but, in assuming the educator’s function, must obey the Scripture injunction regarding that function — to train the young in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord.'”  

A. A. Hodge (1823 – 1886)
19th Century American Reformed Theologian
Missionary to India

1.) There are whiffs of presuppositionalism in this quote by Hodge. Note how he implicitly refuses the idea of neutrality.

2.) R2K boys are advocating for something that, per Hodge, did not exist before the mid 19th century. Do you want novelty? Become R2K.

3.) Can you imagine what a storm of protest would be raised in a R2K Presbytery would be raised if a candidate for ordination up and said, “Christ should be recognized in the law of our land as the Supreme Ruler of our nation.” I shudder to contemplate it.

4.) The implication behind the insistence that “Christ should be recognized in the law of our land as the Supreme Ruler of our nation,” is that all nations are theocratic. Some God or god concept is going to be the Supreme Ruler of each nation whether lawfully recognized in a de Jure sense or recognized in a de facto sense. The whole notion, per R2K, that a nation can be a-religious and a-theocratic is nonsense, and only gains traction because of Anabaptist Roger William’s success in Rhode Island so many years ago.