“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.