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?

Succinct Description On The Difference Between The Conservative & Progressive Mind

“Edmund Burke believed that, since human beings are born into a functioning world populated by others, society is—to use a large word he wouldn’t—metaphysically prior to the individuals in it. The unit of political life is society, not individuals, who need to be seen as instances of the societies they inhabit.

What makes conservatives conservative are the implications they have drawn from Burke’s view of society. Conservatives have always seen society as a kind of inheritance we receive and are responsible for; we have obligations toward those who came before and to those who will come after, and these obligations take priority over our rights. Conservatives have also been inclined to assume, along with Burke, that this inheritance is best passed on implicitly through slow changes in custom and tradition, not through explicit political action. Conservatives loyal to Burke are not hostile to change, only to doctrines and principles that do violence to preexisting opinions and institutions, and open the door to despotism. This was the deepest basis of Burke’s critique of the French Revolution; it was not simply a defense of privilege.

Though philosophical liberalism traces its roots back to the Wars of Religion, the term “liberal” was not used as a partisan label until the Spanish constitutionalists took it over in the early nineteenth century. And it was only later, in its confrontation with conservatism, that liberalism achieved ideological clarity. Classical liberals like John Stuart Mill, in contrast to conservatives, give individuals priority over society, on anthropological as well as moral grounds. They assume that societies are genuinely constructs of human freedom, that whatever we inherit from them, they can always be unmade or remade through free human action. This assumption, more than any other, shapes the liberal temperament. It is what makes liberals suspicious of appeals to custom or tradition, given that they have so often been used to justify privilege and injustice. Liberals, like conservatives, recognize the need for constraints, but believe they must come from principles that transcend particular societies and customs. Principles are the only legitimate constraints on our freedom.

The quarrel between liberals and conservatives is essentially a quarrel over the nature of human beings and their relation to society.”

1.) Because of their belief in Covenant Theology Reformed people have always inclined towards being Conservative. Covenant theology teaches us that all of God’s people through time are one organic people. We see this in our Baptism services when the Generations assemble at the Baptismal font in order that a member of their family may be ratified in their place in the covenant of grace. This covenant into which they are being announced is a covenant in which their forebears were placed through the centuries and it is a place where Baptized’s generations to follow will also be announced. Also, the very nature of Federal Theology with its idea of Federal Headship pushes Reformed people in a conservative direction. The teaching of Scripture where we find man created as incomplete apart from woman suggests that the individual is not the primary building block of society but rather the community is apriori to the individual. Likewise the idea of the fifth commandment pushes Christians towards being conservative in their disposition. Family is to be honored. Even the very idea of the God as Triune having Eternal community pushes the Biblical Christian towards conservative commitments. The Reformed have always believed that change comes incrementally and organically as is seen by their watch words of doing things, “Decent and in order.”

It is not as if, however, there are not understandings of proper individualism in the Reformed mindset and ethos. The Reformed emphasis on personal and individual responsibility in sanctification bespeaks a proper individualism. The Reformed understanding of justification by faith alone puts the individual as individual before God alone.

However, the Reformed faith favors a conservative dynamic as the individual finds his identity in a community of communities which are prior to him and will long outlive him. Yes, it is true that there will come times when, for the good of the community, the individual flavor will have to exercise itself (as when a community is together going over a cliff) but on the whole the Reformed instinct is conservative because the Bible teaches us this conservative disposition.

2.) On the other hand it has always been variant flavors of Anabaptist “Christianity” which has given us the Liberal Christian. The Anabaptist, like the Liberal, sees the sovereign self abstracted from any context as being the central integer in all that God does. Even when Anabaptist communities arise they are communities that are created by a shared conviction of the priority of the individual over the community. When we look at the Anabaptist doctrine of Baptism which emphasizes the choice of the individual we see the Liberal spirit coming to the fore. When we we see the Anabaptist doctrine (implicit or explicit) of justification by works we see the individual cast upon himself.

Ironically, in contradiction to the quote above Liberals do appeal to a long standing custom and tradition and that is the the time honored custom and tradition that we ought to ignore custom and tradition. Whenever we find a person seeking to overthrow the past whole sale only on the whim that we are sovereign enough to do that we find the Liberal. We have seen massive doses of Liberalism since the Enlightenment. Everything from the breakdown of the community and family through the creation of government schools to separate children from their family, to the giving of women the vote, to the attack on the family with the advent of abortion. All of these changes have come to us from those who believe that society can be reorganized according to the sovereign individual self who is prior to community. Any place you see people working to instantaneously overthrow long set community patterns you find the liberal.

And of course, being a conservative, I would note that Satan was the Liberal par excellent. Satan himself arose to defy the Almighty. Satan, as the Liberal individualist tempted or first parents to seize the Liberal position of the sovereign self in order to overthrow the community order that God has established. Satan, in the temptation of Jesus tempted Jesus to become the Liberal individual by seizing for Himself self aggrandizement.