Bavinck On The Difference Between Reformed and Lutheran … Behold R2K is Lutheran

The difference seems to be conveyed best by saying that the Reformed Christian thinks theologically, the Lutheran anthropologically. The Reformed person is not content with an exclusively historical stance but raises his sights to the idea, the eternal decree of God. By contrast, the Lutheran takes his position in the midst of the history of redemption and feels no need to enter more deeply into the counsel of God. For the Reformed, therefore, election is the heart of the church; for Lutherans, justification is the article by which the church stands or falls. Among the former the primary question is: How is the glory of God advanced? Among the latter it is: How does a human get saved? The struggle of the former is above all paganism- idolatry; that of the latter against Judaism- works righteousness. The Reformed person does not rest until he has traced all things retrospectively to the divine decree, tracking down the “wherefore” of things, and has prospectively made all things subservient to the glory of God; the Lutheran is content with the “that” and enjoys the salvation in which he is, by faith, a participant. From this difference in principle, the dogmatic controversies between them (with respect to the image of God, original sin, the person of Christ, the order of salvation, the sacraments, church government, ethics, etc.) can be easily explained.

—Herman Bavinck
Reformed Dogmatics — Vol. 1: Prolegomena (Baker, 2003), 177.

This quote reveals how R2K is more Lutheran that it is Reformed. R2K is not concerned with how God’s glory is advanced in the common realm because God’s glory can’t be advanced in the common realm because the common realm is common. It is a realm where good and evil grow together and the only realm where the glory of God that is advanced happens in the Church. If R2K struggles against paganism / idolatry it struggles against it only in the Church. It is clear, per Bavinck, that R2K’s primary struggle is Lutheran in as much as it see’s works righteousness everywhere, especially in those of us who are not R2K. R2K does not think it is possible to make anything in the common realm uniquely subservient to God.

R2K is not Reformed. It is instead a mish mash of Lutheran thinking, and Anabaptist thinking, heavily seasoned with Dualism.

Pin The Tail On The Sect

“_____________ (This group) considered politics to lie outside the New Testament. The Gospel contained principles for ruling citizens of the Kingdom of heaven, but not for legislation of a secular state in the … world …. _________ (This group) acknowledged that ‘the temporal sword is an ordinance of God, besides the perfection of Christ; lo princes and superiors of the world are ordained to punish wicked, and to put them to death. But in the perfection of Christ, excommunication is the utmost pain, and not corporal death.'”

I pulled the above quote out of a book I am finishing up. I want the readers to guess the group of which the author is referring to in the quote. Was the author referring to

A.) The Medieval Cathari
B.) The Reformation Ana-Baptists
C.) The 3rd Century Church Novatians
D.) The Current Radical Two Kingdom phenomenon

A New Hymnody For A New R2K Church Age

To the tune of “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

This was sent to me by a anonymous subscriber. I merely punched it up a little.

1.Onward 2k Cowards,
Retreating from the war,
With the Word of Jesus
Under lock and store
Christ the Royal Master
Tells his subjects “no!
fight not in the culture wars
Submit to your Nero… “


Onward 2k Cowards
Retreating from the war
With the Word of Jesus
Under lock and store.

2. Like a Frenchie army,
runs the Church of God
Brothers we are fleeing
Where Christendom had trod
We are schizophrenic
Split personalities
Contradictions in each realm
Norms without clarity


3. Crowns and thrones may perish
Kingdoms rise and wane
But the church of Jesus
All “Contending” it disdains
Gates of hell need now know
‘Christ’s army never prevails
We read Christ’s own promise as
“Don’t try and you won’t fail”


4. Inward turn ye people
Join our schizoid throng
Blend with ours your voices
In our effete song
Live a life that’s common
In the public spheres
Make no waves you pilgrim folk
Just spend your time in tears



Compare the R2K hymn above to a song in our Psalters that is also sung to the same tune

1 Christ shall have dominion
Over land and sea,
Earth’s remotest regions
Shall His empire be;
They that wilds inhabit
Shall their worship bring;
Kings shall render tribute,
Nations serve our King.


Christ shall have dominion
Over land and sea,
Earth’s remotest regions
Shall His empire be.

2 When the needy seek Him,
He will mercy show;
Yea, the weak and helpless
Shall His pity know.
He will surely save them
From oppression’s might,
For their lives are precious
In His holy sight.


3 Ever and forever
Shall His name endure;
Long as suns continue
It shall stand secure;
And in him forever
All men shall be blest,
And all nations hail Him
King of kings confessed.


4 Unto God Almighty
Joyful Zion sings;
He alone is glorious,
Doing wondrous things.
Evermore, ye people,
Bless His glorious name,
His eternal glory
Through the earth proclaim.


Brief Historical Taxonomy On How Churches Once Viewed One Another

In our pluralistic age it is inevitable that the pluralism that characterizes us leaks into the Church. Today, if one insists that the Denomination in which they are members of, or the faith expression they embrace is the “one true Church,” to the neglect of all other faith expressions or denominations they are likely to be pretty quickly castigated and scorned. This collegiality among different faith expressions and denominations was not always the norm, and would have been considered, even a short 100 years ago or so to be quite inconsistent with Biblical faith.

For example, Dr. Francis Pieper, a noted Lutheran, in his book, “Christian Dogmatics, Vol. III, p. 422,” could write,

“Congregations and Church bodies must be divided into two classes according to their doctrine … “

Pieper then goes on to speak of churches that are orthodox and those which are heterodox with the implication clearly present that only Lutherans are orthodox.

This kind of thinking was also seen in the Lutheran Dr. Walter Maier when Maier refused to speak at a inter-denominational Bible conference because of its heterodox nature. Maier only agreed to speak at the conference when it was agreed that a Lutheran pastor would come in to preside over the conference. With a Lutheran Pastor presiding Dr. Maier could participate because then the conference would be orthodox.

Some of this thinking still carries on today among some Lutherans. I have a Lutheran Pastor friend who would not allow me to join his church since I am Reformed and could never agree with the Lutheran distinctives. I don’t fault him for that stance since it has been the position for much of the Church throughout Church history that organizations that don’t hold to distinctive doctrines as taught in the Scripture are not true Churches and should not be considered as such.

As another example consider the Baptist view of a little over 100 years ago of who does not constitute a true Church.

“It is only courtesy to speak of paedobaptist organizations as ‘churches,’ although we do not regard these churches as organized in full accordance with Christ’s laws as they are indicated in the New Testament… So we in matters … vitally effecting the existence of the Church, as regenerate church membership, must stand by the New Testament, and refuse to call any other body of Christians a regular Church…”

Dr. A. H. Strong, 1836-1921
Reformed Baptist Theologian
Systematic Theology

What Strong offers here is merely the classical view of Baptist Churches. That some Baptist Churches might not hold this merely means that those Baptist Churches are inconsistent with their own doctrine and have yet one more contradiction in their thinking. As an anecdote on this score I am reminded of a woman who was a member in a Reformed Church that I serve. She had been baptized as a infant. She wanted to volunteer to work for a local Baptist school. The Pastor of the Baptist Church was told of this and despite her protestations that she was already baptized as an infant the Pastor insisted that if she was to work at their school she must be baptized as an adult. The Pastor was only being consistent with the kind of doctrine that Baptists, such a Dr. Strong, has been articulating for years. Note that Dr. Strong called paedobaptist organizations “churches” out of a way of being polite. He clearly did not believe that they were Churches. Given the fact that paedobaptist churches eschew universal regenerate membership and credo-baptist doctrine it is only reasonable and consistent that Dr. Strong would speak the same way as the Lutheran Dr. Pieper above.

Note, that neither Dr. Strong, nor Dr. Pieper necessarily believed that those who were in those other religious organizations were not Christians. They merely insisted that their Churches (Denominations) were the one true Church.

The Reformed faith has always concurred with this thinking and have found fault with Baptist doctrine and Lutheran doctrine the same way that Lutherans and Baptists find fault with their doctrine and so likewise did not consider those denominations to be expressions of the true Church.

“The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church– and no one ought to be separated from it….

As for the false church, it assigns more authority to itself and its ordinances than to the Word of God; it does not want to subject itself to the yoke of Christ; it does not administer the sacraments as Christ commanded in his Word; it rather adds to them or subtracts from them as it pleases; it bases itself on men, more than on Jesus Christ; it persecutes those who live holy lives according to the Word of God and who rebuke it for its faults, greed, and idolatry.

Article 29
Belgic Confession of Faith

Because the Reformed Church has believed the above it does not recognize Baptist Churches, Lutheran Churches, Holiness Churches, or Roman Catholic Churches as true Churches since they do not (1) engage in the pure preaching of the Gospel, or (2) make use of the pure administration of the sacraments, or (3) practices church discipline.

Now, once again, this does not mean the Reformed people don’t believe that there aren’t Christians in those organizations but it does explicitly teach, like Baptists and Lutherans and Catholics, that other denominations are not genuine Churches.

Now, currently if any Church or denomination express this once standard vanilla theology that there is only one true Church and those in alien denominations, for the good of their own souls, need to repent and join the one true Church those people are seen as “narrow minded,” “uncharitable,” or “mean-spirited.” But, clearly those who refuse to embrace this once nearly universal teaching who are narrow-minded since they are not broadminded enough to accept Churches who define themselves other then the casual pluralistic way they want to define churches. They are the ones who are uncharitable since they will not accept those who disagree with their pluralistic stamp. They are the ones who are mean spirited since they have decided scorn against those who define the Church as the confessions do.

The ironic thing in all this is that those who want to insist that the Church needs to be defined pluralistically are really members of the same ideological denomination regardless what the denominational stamp is on the church they attend. If all people in Baptist, Lutheran, Holiness, Congregational, Roman Catholic organizations and Reformed Churches are to insist that the genuine Church is where ever people gather who call themselves Christian, regardless of the denominational stamp then they have defined themselves as the same ideological denomination over against those who want to draw the genuine Church definition in different ways as we have seen above.

For Reformed folks we have historically said Reformed Baptists Churches were not true Churches because we are required to “detest the error of the Anabaptists who are not who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers” (Article 35 Belgic Confession) For Reformed folks we have historically said Lutheran Churches were not true Churches since they deny Limited Atonement. For Reformed folks we have historically said that Holiness Churches are not true Churches since they are Arminian. For Reformed folks we have historically said the Roman Catholic Churches are not true Churches because of their semi-pelagianism. None of this means that we believe that all the Christians in those organizations are unregenerate. It merely means that out of love for God and love for them we do not refer to their organizations are Churches.

Later Editorial note:

I believe the drive to see all denominations as all being genuine Churches may be another consequence of our egalitarian age which loathes making distinctions between “this and that.” In an egalitarian age that desires to insist that all people and both sexes are alike it is easy to insist likewise that all churches are alike and eventually, over the course of time, all religions are even alike.

Knowing The Times … Knowing The Audience

“From the fact that to a generation which knew God only as a righteous Judge, and in an atmosphere surcharged with the sense of retribution, He (Jesus) made the sum and substance of His preaching the love of God, it does not follow that, if He were in person to preach to our present age so strangely oblivious of everything but love, His message would be entirely the same.”

Geehardaus Vos
Redemptive History & Biblical Interpretation
The Scriptural Doctrine Of The Love Of God

Different generations and different people need different aspects of the one Gospel emphasized at different times. This is why it is so important to know the times in which one lives, the culture one moves in, and the people with which one deals.

This reality perhaps explains, at least in part, why there are divisions within the body of Christ. By way of example, if one looks over the landscape and determines that disobedience on the part of God’s people is a major problem there are going to be systems of thought that develop that so emphasize obedience that some will accuse the practioners of those systems of eclipsing the truth of Grace. On the other hand, if in the same generation there arises a parallel group who determine that legalism on the part of God’s people is a major problem, there are going to be systems of thought that develop that so emphasize grace that some will accuse the practioners of those systems of eclipsing the truth of and necessity for holiness. In these kinds of situations disagreements that arise aren’t really so much over the nature or character of the Gospel as it is over the nature or character of the times in which we are located.

Following this theme for just a moment, I have always wondered if the Puritans could come back today if they would be puritanical in the same way that we know them. As we know them they were famous for their plain sermons, their plain buildings, and their plain worship. Much of this ‘plain-ness,’ was a reaction against the superstitions and magic like quality of religion and worship that bled the substance out of worship and religion and replaced it with smells and bells that left the people both credulous and stupid. I wonder though, if we could bring the Puritans back today and if they could observe the way that the sense of the supernatural and fear of God has been bled out of modern Worship if they would advocate bringing back some of those things that during their age they had been against. Would they advocate bringing back some high Church Architecture? Would they advocate bringing back the surplice? Would they mind to terribly much if we knelt to receive the Eucharist? In the face of a dead rationalism that removes all sense of the transcendence of God in worship is it more in keeping with the spirit of the Puritans to insist that something must be done that creates a complimentarity between the transcendent and holy God that is proclaimed and the worship environment in which we learn about this high and holy God?