D. G. Hart — “The Church Shall Be Silent”

“The political passivism implicit in Machen’s understanding of the church, however, must not be rendered a justification for Christian escapism (something charged against the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms also). Machen himself was active in politics precisely because he knew the church should not be. Christians who look to the church to engage in political reforms invariably fail to explore other means by which they as citizens, along with believers and nonbelievers, may engage in the political process. In other words, to say the church has no responsibility for politics is very different from describing what duties Christians themselves have as citizens and neighbors. As they are called, Christians have a duty to seek the welfare of the city (Jer. 29:7). What Machen’s example teaches is that Christians have no right to expect the church as a corporate body to seek the city’s welfare other than through the spiritual means of proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.”

D. G. Hart
The Difference Between Christians & The Church
Modern Reformation — 2004

Dr. D. G. Hart is another gentleman who is a carrier of the R2Kt virus. Dr. Hart has written a whole book on the subject entitled, “A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State.”

Like D. R. Scott Clark, Dr. D. G. Hart is a intelligent man until he gets on this subject. I have read several of his books with great profit, just as I have read several articles by Dr. R. Scott Clark with profit. However, all that is beneficent in what they write is largely negated by their work on this subject.

Take Hart’s quote above. In the quote he notes that individual Christians can work and proclaim in the “common realm” while the Church cannot. Having pointed this out before the problem with this is that it results in a “each man doing what is right in his own eyes.”

Let’s take the last time this approach was pursued on a large scale in 1930’s Germany. According to Hart’s theory individual Christians should have spoken out against National Socialism. The problem here though is that Hart’s theory also countenances individual Christians speaking out in favor of National Socialism or Communism or any number of other Biblically judged aberrant systems. In Hart’s theory there is no place that any individual Christian can hear an authoritative “Thus Saith The Lord,” since the Scriptures don’t speak to these kinds of issues and so each individual Christian is free to do what is right in their own eyes. And so, in a conversation touching the 1930’s Hart, Clark and other R2Kt infected people, even now, if they are consistent, cannot say it was wrong, according to God’s Word, for individual Christians to support National Socialism or Communism in post WWI Germany. They might be able to say that as individual Christians they believe it was wrong, but if another individual Christian came along and said it was right it would remain a matter or “just two opinions,” since God’s word doesn’t speak to these kind of issues.

Now R2Kt types will appeal to the wisdom of Natural Law to serve as an arbiter on the kinds of issues that the Church can’t speak to but as we’ve said before Natural Law is invoked by everybody for everything. Without looking I’d be willing to bet that even some National Socialist theorist in the 1930’s invoked Natural Law to support the Nationalist Socialist regime in 1930’s Germany.

If the R2Kt virus becomes epidemic its hard to guess what the toll will be on the Church and on the culture.

Dualism and the R2Kt virus

“Were this version of Lutheran Theology (the paradigm of R2Kt virus – BLM) taken to its logical conclusion it would deprive the gospel of any intellectual content and the law of any moral content. The biblical narrative and theological reflection on it would not be given any epistemological status to engage secular learning. It would champion a form of Lutheran quietism in the realm of education. Much as German Lutheranism in the 1930’s separated the two kingdoms (government under law separated from Christianity under the gospel) and allowed the Nazi movement to go unchecked by appeal to an intellectual and moral content of the Christian vision, so this approach would allow modern secular learning to go unchallenged by that vision.”

Robert Benne
Quality With Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith w/ Their Religious Traditions — pg. 133

The Two Kingdom theology that informs the R2Kt virus of Westminster West offers no answer for a unified theory of knowledge. Following the implications of R2Kt viral thinking there would be little if any possibility of building University if only for the reason that knowledge that obtains in the realm of grace is not the same kind of knowledge that is obtained in the the common realm. Instead of Universities we are left with Multiversities.

The dualism incipient in R2Kt viral thinking creates two different kinds of knowledge. One kind of knowledge is anchored in right reason. A second kind of knowledge anchored in revelation and faith. But in keeping with classical dualism R2Kt viral thinking offers no answer as to how these two kinds of knowledge can be reconciled. When such a situation obtains resolution must be arrived at in one way or another, if even only in an unofficial or pragmatic sense. The possible resolutions, it seems to me, reduce to two. The first possible option was seen in history when the Church was in the ascendancy. Here the ‘spiritual’ truths triumphed over the truth of reason. When the state has been in the ascendancy the option has been for the truths of reason to triumph over ‘spiritual’ truths.

Of course another consequence of R2Kt viral thinking is that different realms are created where the different knowledges hold sway. The realm that right reason rules is the secular realm. The realm that revelation rules is the gracious realm. This creates another dualism where the former realm is ruled by the age to come and the latter realm is ruled by this present wicked age. This viral way of thinking has the ‘now’ front loaded in the realm of grace with the ‘not yet’ being overwhelmingly predominant in the secular realm. The result of this is not only a dualism between a secular and gracious realm, and a dualism between two different kinds of knowledge but also it largely turns the ‘now, not yet’ into a dualistic program.

R2Kt seeks to resolved this by offering Christ’s Lordship as the means by which unity is found between their dualistic realms. The problem here though is that Christ’s Lordship is dualistically divided between a Lordship that is explicitly revealed (for the realm of grace) and a Lordship that is, at best, only subtly suggested (for the realm of grace). Christ’s own Lordship is thus put into a kind of dualism mode. There clearly is no way whereby these differing forms and expressions of Christ’s Lordship can be reconciled.

Since such a theory cannot work in the real world the effect has been, as Benne notes,that a kind of retreatism prevails. This in turn allows the most vile of cultures to flower.

One can see how it might be possible for R2Kt viral thinking works in a culture largely influenced by Christian categories. I can only see it as being an unmitigated disaster when present in a culture where Christianity is in eclipse.

Continuing To Dismantle Typhoid Bob

Dr. R. Scott Clark (Typhoid Bob) tried to suggest that Federal Vision and Theonomy were separated at birth Siamese twins born of the bitch mother legalism. My purpose is to continue to seek to erase that false and libelous characterization. Since I have no tuck with Federal Vision as it concerns their doctrine of justification I will let them defend their own house. However, when it comes to theonomy, I have a few sympathies. So, I offer the following quotes to continue to help reveal the silliness is Dr. R. Scott Clark’s presentation.

“The Protestant revolt was significant primarily…for its proclamation of the radical doctrine of justification by faith, which abolished…the whole social order which depended on the soteriology of mediating institutions.”

R. J. Rushdoony
Politics of Guilt and Pity, — p. 263

Does that sound like somebody who believed that justification was by sanctification? Does that sound like somebody who was anything but Reformed? Of course the problem with TB is that if one isn’t infected with the R2Kt virus then one can’t be Reformed.

“This legalistic principle,” says Rushdoony, “against which Romans, and all Scripture, is directed, is as invalid politically as religiously.” (Ibid., p. 294.) Moreover, “[M]en cannot seek justification socially by law and works of law, and long retain a concept of individual salvation through justification by faith….Men who have Christ as their all-sufficient priest cannot create or tolerate a priestly and soteriological state.” (Ibid., p. 299.)

Here is another quote that throws a ton of sand into Typhoid Bob’s theory of the close relation between Federal Vision and Theonomy.

“Scripture centers on the obedience of Christ — both active and passive — because it is the necessary requirement for the full justification of sinners.”

Dr. Greg Bahnsen
Theonomy in Christian Ethics, p. 152

So here is the grandfather and the father of modern day theonomy clearly articulating the standard Reformed doctrine of Justification. Obviously they are NOT Federal Visionists on the doctrine of justification.

Typhoid Bob Strikes Again — Defending Theonomy

The chief carrier of the R2Kt virus is Dr. R. Scott Clark. It is hard to guess how many other people (students) he has infected with this viral strain. Recently he re-published a hit piece on theonomy. Bob hates theonomy so much because it is the antidote curative to R2Kt virus.

A little running commentary with Bob’s recent libelous hit piece.

The question comes concerning the relations between Theonomy and the Federal Vision. There is reason to think that there is some connection between the two movements. Several well-known theonomists are also proponents of the FV. One of the FV leaders recently described the current FV controversy as a renewal of the theonomy argument. Interpreters on both sides have seen connection between the two controversies and movements.

Certainly there are those sympathetic to theonomy who are in the Federal Vision camp. The problem is that there are those who have sympathy to theonomy who have spoken out with clear antipathy toward the Federal Vision. Bob is trying to create guilt by association in this article. The fact of the matter is, is that the situation is far more complex then Typhoid Bob admits in this article.

There are good reasons for seeing connections between the two movements. Both movements date to the mid-1970s. In the early phase of the argument, Norman Shepherd found much support among theonomists and the FV movement today finds considerable support among theonomists. There are ambiguities, however. There is open debate among theonomists about WWBD? (What would Bahsen do?) Would he support the Federal Vision? Support for Norman Shepherd is a point of connection between the theonomists and the Federal Visionists. In turn Shepherd, though not overtly identified with theonomy, shares their their neo-postmillennial eschatology. Further, not all theonomists are Federal Visionists nor are all Federal Visionists are theonomists. At least one theonomic denomination (the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the US, not to be confused with the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America) has been highly critical of the FV.

First, the drive to go to the moon and the hippie movement both date to the 60’s. That doesn’t mean they had anything to do with each other. Second, Typhoid Bob (hereinafter TB) makes all kinds of allegations until he finally, briefly admits, that in all of this there are ambiguities which effectively undercuts all the correlation TB tries to make. Does he mean the ambiguity that it was a theonomic denomination (RPCUS) that originally blew the disciplinary whistle on the Federal Vision? Does TB mean that kind of ever so slight ambiguity? Third, TB next tries to throw in post-millennialism into the mix thus trying to suggest that there is something inherently heterodox about post-millennialism. I’m sure B. B. Warfield would be glad to know that. TB completely voids the argument he has made thus far with the last two sentences in the blockquote immediately above.

Though not identical movements, Theonomy and the Federal Vision movements are analogues. Both movements reflect a similar pathology in the Reformed corpus. Both reflect what I call the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty (QIRC). The FV does it by making the doctrines of covenant, justification, and perseverance, a little more “reasonable,” by reducing the scandal of the cross and the offense of the gospel. As it turns out, according to the FV, it’s not really filthy sinners that Christ justifies, but those who are sanctifed, who cooperate with grace. As we’ve seen, in the FV, the sentence “A justified man is sanctified” becomes, “A man is justified because he is sanctified.” The elect, as it turns out, are those who have cooperated with grace. That’s just a little more “sweetly reasonable” than the confessional Protestant alternative.

I have no tuck with the Federal Vision doctrine of justification so I won’t bother to engage with any of this except to say that the Apostle Paul could speak of legitimate Religious Certainty when he said, “I know whom I have believed….” Notice, he didn’t say, “by way of induction I am 99.9% certain that I know whom I have believed.”

I can’t help but comment that I seriously doubt that any Federal Vision aficionado would say that “A man is justified because he is sanctified.” But, still, I am glad to agree with Typhoid Bob that FV doctrines of justification are seriously messed over.

Theonomy represents another side of the same quest. It offers a kind of ethical precision and a kind of ethical authority that reduces ambiguities to certainties and, on its premises, makes Christian ethics a little more “reasonable.” In contrast, non-theonomic ethics aren’t nearly as attractive. First, we non-theonomists don’t have any catchy slogans. Our ethic, like our eschatology, is paradoxical. Theonomy is attractive because it flattens out the tension between what is and what shall be. For theonomy there is a continuum between the now and the not yet. For non-theonomic amillennialism there is a sharp disjunction between “the now,” or “this age,” and the “not yet,” or “the age to come.” They are two different types of existence. The consummate state exists in heaven and is interjected into this life in small ways, but, for the most part none of us seems to have a plan to bring out the Kingdom of God on the earth. The theonomists definitely have a plan and Americans like a plan. Do most American Dispensationalists really understand the complicated eschatological charts? Probably not, but they do have implicit faith in their leaders that someone has figured out what the news means and what’s going to happen.

First off, I would say that the problem with TB’s form of ‘Christianity’ is that he desires to introduce ambiguities into what God has clearly spoken in regards to ethics. This serves to allow Bob to convert pagans without having to suggest that the Christian life actually has a profound ethical impact on their life.

Second if TB wants some catchy slogans for his belief system I can help.

“Embrace Our Jesus, He’s easy on the lifestyle.”

“Want To Keep Your Economic Marxism? — Our Jesus Is Your Man”

“Come To Jesus, He’s A God Who Minds His Own Business.”

“Christianity — A Religion Where Lordship Means What You Want It To Mean.”

Third, since Theonomy insists on self-denial, and cross-bearing I don’t know how Typhoid Bob can suggest that theonomy makes ethics more reasonable. Of course TB might mean that theonomic ethics are more reasonable when compared to his ethics which are irrational.

Fourth someone needs to tell Typhoid Bob that a paradox is defined as a cramp between the ears. If his ethics are paradoxical does that mean that it is ok both to commit adultery and not to commit adultery? Is it ok to both support the Messianic state in violation of the 1st commandment and not support the Messianic state in keeping with the 1st commandment? Hey, baby, its all paradox, you know.

Fifth, Typhoid Bob’s eschatology is grossly under-realized which forces him to say that theonomy flattens out the tension between what is and what shall be. The rest of his kvetching in the blockquote above all stems from his a-millennialism which builds a impenetrable barrier between the age to come and this age so that increased righteousness among any people in any culture is impossible since righteousness has to wait from the abrupt in breaking that will come on the final day when the Gospel has been defeated in this age.

In contrast, Non-theonomic, Amillennial, types confess that all 613 Mosaic laws were civil, ceremonial, and moral and at the same time, that the moral law, grounded in creation, continues to obligate all creatures before, during, and after Moses. That creational law is a set of general principles (embodied in the Decalogue and in the golden rule and taught throughout Scripture and revealed in nature [Rom 1-2]) not an extensive civil code. Thus, confessional Reformed folk must seek wisdom as they attempt to apply the moral/creational law to difficult civil problems, but without the certainty that any particular application is necessarily is the correct “Christian” application.

Listen to what Typhoid Bob has said here. There is no certainty that the way the Christian family has been organized in Christendom is the correct “Christian” application. Family organization is all a crap shoot. There is no certainty that two thousand years of Christian just war theory is the correct application. Doctrines of just war are just as likely to come from Hindus as they are from Christians. There is no certainty that education can be done in a distinctly Christian fashion. It is all a crap shoot.

Second, Theonomists insist that the moral law, grounded in creation, includes what Typhoid Bob is calling the Civil law. That is to say that what is known as the civil law is only the practical application of the Moral law. The civil law is to the Moral law what case law is to Constitutional Law. Typhoid Bob is assuming an intrusion ethic that he has not, nor can not prove. TB wants to embrace the moral code in the abstract so he can ignore it in the concrete.

Thirdly, Theonomists completely agree that Confessional folk (which they are part of) must seek wisdom as they apply God’s Law Word to today’s world. TB keeps suggesting that theonomy makes all of this simple but any theonomist worth his salt will tell you that application takes great wisdom.

Theonomy, however, under the slogan, “abiding validity of the law of God in exhaustive detail,” seems to offer “the” Christian answer to difficult problems. Unsure about “the general equity thereof” in a given case? Put the quarter in the slot, pull the handle and out comes the correct ethical and civil answer to one’s particular question. They even have ready-made civil code in Theonomy in Christian Ethics and in the Institutes of Biblical Law.

Yeah, everybody knows that God can’t make His mind known on difficult problems. What are people thinking that God’s word would apply to all of life, including our ethical conundrums?

That both movements came to prominence in conservative Reformed circles at the same time, during the years of post-Nixon, post-Haight-Ashbury period, the time of disco and cocaine propelled self-indulgence, during the moral “malaise” of the Carter administration, suggests that they may both reactions to the same stimuli. Neither movement was driven by the Reformed confession. Rather, when these movements were born attention to the Reformed confessions was at a nadir. In an autobiographical passage in his essay, “In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism,” John Frame comments that his seminary education wasn’t marked by sustained, focused attention to the Reformed confessions. The attitude of the period seemed to be that as long as one had a high view of Scripture and divine sovereignty, everything else was negotiable. I remember reading things from the period that said, in effect, “we all know what we believe about justification,” let’s get on with applying the Scriptures to every area of life.

This is just stupid. I have a post on this blog that cites extensively theonomic literature throughout the history of Reformed thought. If one in interested to see that one need only google ‘The Magistrate and The First Table — Contra Intrusionists.’ The advent of Theonomic thought may indeed have made a comeback during a time of moral laxity but if it did it did so with a long Reformed pedigree which started with the advent of Reformed Confessions and historic Reformational thought.

Both Theonomy and the Federal Vision are theologically and socially conservative. Both movements have in common a deep concern for the collapse of the culture and our place in it. Some versions of theonomy/reconstructionism envision the culture being gradually regenerated through Christian influence and some expect a cataclysm out of which arises a Reconstructionist phoenix. The FV wants to regenerate the culture through sacerdotalism (baptismal union with Christ whereby all baptized persons are, ex opere operato (Rich Lusk has spoken this way), temporarily, historically, conditionally united to Christ). Both are visions aimed at the restoration of Christendom. One is primarily ecclesiastical and the other primarily civil. These common attitudes, interests, and approaches, however, help explain why so many theonomists have been attracted to the FV and vice-versa.

Both Westminster West and Cultural Marxism have no use for Christendom. Both movements have in common a deep concern that Christianity is wrongly embedded in our culture. Some versions of Westminster West Theology teach that the Church should have nothing to say regarding homosexuality in our culture and so Westminster West wants Christianity to ignore the culture choosing instead to get souls saved. Cultural Marxism likewise wants Christianity to ignore the culture desiring a Christianity that won’t get in the way of their agenda to de-Christianize the West. Both are visions aimed at destroying Christendom. One is primarily ecclesiastical and the other primarily civil. These common attitudes, interests and approaches, however, help explain why so many Cultural Marxists have been attracted to Westminster West Theology and vice-versa.

See, two can play that game.

Sal’s Advice

Billy Bob

I don’t have to “prove” anything. The burden of proof is on those who insist that the Bible furnishes us with the kind of economic- or foreign policy that can be legitimately held forth “prophetically” to the state.

My view is that the Bible is the account of the creation, fall, redemption, and consummation of all things. But if it’s economics or foreign policy we’re interested in, then we should go to the local library and read the experts.

I cut this from Green Baggins comment column. It is written by somebody infected with the R2Kt virus.

In this snippet Sal says that the Bible is about the Redemption of all things. What does Redemption look like in the realm of economics and foreign policy? Sal says it doesn’t look like anything we can measure because Economics and Foreign policy apparently aren’t part of the all things that Christ has come to Redeem.

Second, I would say the burden of proof is on Sal and the others infected with the R2kt virus who insist that the Bible doesn’t furnish us with the kind of economic or foreign policy that can be legitimately held forth. Sal, is part of the crowd who insist that the Bible is about individuals getting their souls saved but not about what embodied saved souls look like in the culture they live in once they’re saved. I mean, come on, you can only expect King Jesus to do so much after all.

Quite clearly the Bible does speak to Economic issues in the 8th Commandment. Not stealing is a great guideline for a nation and its government to follow. Salvation in the Economic realm thus looks like a government that is restrained in stealing money from the people. But those experts in the Library that Sal says we should check out keep insisting that stealing and redistribution of wealth does work so we should believe Marx over God’s Word according to Sal.

And how could Sal disagree with me about taking my Economic cues from Marx as discovered in the Library? After all the Church can’t speak to those things so it is fair to say that we can genuinely have Christian Marxists. Indeed, it is reported that in Sal’s Church Christian Marxists sit next to Christian Supply Siders and even though they fight like cats and dogs in the common realm they live in peace in the Church because the Church just keeps reminding them that their souls are saved.

And what of Foreign Policy? Does the Bible really have no guidelines for us in that realm? Is Sal suggesting that 2000 years of just war theory is just so much dung? Is Sal suggesting that there really isn’t any Biblical base in Just War theory?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it till the cows come home, Sal and his kind are gnostic. Salvation is for the soul but it doesn’t apply to anything else. Jesus saves us for heaven and does not rule by command in any realm in this life saving his ruling here as that which happens by secret divine decree.

This theology is called so only by way of courtesy.