Conversation On R2K, McAtee contra Stellman — Part I

R2K Aficionado Rev. Stellman writes,

“I agree that God told Adam to exercise dominion over creation, and I agree that Adam’s dominion-taking would have helped usher in God’s eternal kingdom, a kingdom which would have brought with it eternal life and Sabbath rest for Adam and his posterity. But where many go wrong, in my view, is in the fact that they seem to stop reading at Genesis 1.

After the Fall, God tells man that the elements of prelapsarian life, such as marriage, childbearing, and labor are to continue on, albeit in a context of curse. In a word, these aspects of life will now be perverted to reflect the curse sanction that God had pronounced on creation due to Adam’s rebellion. Marriage will now be a power-struggle, childbirth will now be painful, and bread will now be produced through sweat and an uncooperative earth. The same is true of the dominion mandate.”

Bret responds,

1.) Stellman seems to see no progress of Redemption between the Covenant of Grace before Christ ushered in the Kingdom and the Covenant of Grace after Christ ushered in the Kingdom. In Rev. Stellman’s thinking the “not yet,” of the “now, not yet,” is front loaded in both covenants. With the coming of Christ, who now has Dominion, the capacity of God’s people is not enhanced in their dominion taking activity even though we have the Spirit in order to, with earnest purpose, live according to all the commandments of God. Instead, even though the Kingdom has now come in Christ Rev. Stellman tells us that the thing that is most important about our existence is that we live in the context of the curse.

2.) Rev. Stellman, like all R2K practitioners is afflicted with amillennialitis. Rev. Stellman presupposes that we can not have dominion because good never excels over evil in history and as such, voila, he finds in Scripture that God’s people can not have dominion because good never excels over evil in history. When engaging with R2K types one must always keep before them their rabidly pessimistic eschatology. That pessimistic theology drives the rest of their “theology.”

3.) To hear Rev. Stellman tell it, all Christian marriages are disappointments as Christian men and women are constantly at each other’s throats. All babies are only children as the pain mothers have in childbirth make them resolve to never have another child. All vegetables are grown in a desert. Yes, we continue to struggle against the reality of our fallen world and our own fallen-ness but none of that negates the call to take godly dominion.

4.) The main problem is that while God pronounced the curse on our parents that Rev. Stellman notes, God never in that pronounced curse says, “And Cursed be you for in the day you ate of the fruit thou dids’t give up being a dominion bearing agent as you struggle in the context of the curse.” So, when Rev. Stellman says, “the same is true of the dominion mandate,” he is both adding to the text and subtracting from the text by voiding God’s clear command. The Scripture does not have good things to say about those who add to, or subtract from, the text.

Rev. Stellman presses on,

“The dominion motif comes to the fore again after the flood, only now Noah is to practice his mastery over creation in the context of a covenant that is not redemptive but common, a covenant made “between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations” (Gen. 9:1-17). As shown by the inauguration of the kingdom of man in Genesis 4, the cultural work of human hands is valuable for building a temporal, common kingdom, but due to the Fall, our cultural endeavors cannot bring about the kingdom of Christ (a kingdom which Jesus said “is not of this world”).”

1.) Note here the propensity in all R2K “Theologians” to divide “cult,” from “culture,” as if culture has no direct and intimate relation to cult. R2K advocates are forever calling for a “common culture” as if a common culture is not the consequence of the people who are sharing a common culture embracing a “common cult.” A common culture can only happen among people who embrace a common cult. Different peoples living in one social order embracing different cults always produce culture wars, which make the common realm anything but common. This severing of cult from culture is perhaps one of the most dreadful errors of R2K.

2.) Rev. Stellman’s reading of Gen. 9 is innovative to Dr. Meredith Kline. Scripture never says that the dominion mandate of Gen. 1:28 and the re-capitulation of it to Noah in Genesis 9 are divided the way the disciples of Kline insist. It is just as possible to read Gen. 9 as Noah coming through the flood to a new garden existence and as a type of second Adam he is given the earth and as God’s image bearer he is told to have dominion. Scripture never says that the dominion mandate of Genesis 1:28 and the dominion mandate of Genesis 9 are anything but the same command given at two different times.

3.) Actually, it is easier to make the argument that the “Great Commission,” of Matthew 28 is a re-articulation of the dominion mandates of Genesis 1:28 and Genesis 9 then it is to argue that Gen. 1 and Gen 9 are to be divided the way the disciples of Kline would have us believe. In Matthew 28 dominion is advanced over all the world by making disciples and by teaching men to observe all things that Christ has commanded. Certainly success in the Great Commission would lead to the complete godly dominion over all the earth that all Biblical Christians anticipate before Christ returns.

4.) “‘My kingdom is not of [ek: out from] this world,’” is a statement about the source — not the nature — of His reign, as the epexegetical ending of the verse makes obvious: ‘My kingdom is not from here [enteuthen].’ The teaching is not that Christ’s kingdom is wholly otherworldly, but rather that it originates with God Himself (not any power or authority found in creation.”

Dr. Greg Bahnsen
God & Politics — pg. 27

B. F. Wescott speaking of John 18:36 could comment,

“Yet He did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven. My Kingdom is not of this world (means it) does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”

The Gospel According To John — pg. 260

John 18:36 along with Matthew 22:15-22 are two of the passages that are often put forth as defeaters for the comprehensive sovereignty of the Lord Jesus over this world. Bahnsen clearly shows here, quite in agreement with the Greek scholar B. F. Westcott, that God’s Kingdom, as it manifests itself in this world, is energized by a source outside this world. This is important to emphasize because many people read John 18:36 as proof that the Kingdom of Jesus does not and should not express itself in this world. Often this verse is appealed to in order to prove that God’s Kingdom is only “spiritual” and as such Christians shouldn’t be concerned about what are perceived as “non-spiritual” realms. Support for such thinking, if there is any, must come from passages other than John 18:36.

What we get from some contemporary Calvinists, is the quote of Christ telling Pilate that ‘His Kingdom is not of this World,’ as if that is to end all conversation on the Lordship of Christ over all cultural endeavors. What is forgotten is the way that John often uses the word ‘World.’ John often uses the word ‘World’ with a sinister significance to communicate a disordered reality in grip of the Devil set in opposition to God. If that is the way that the word ‘world’ is being used in John 18:36 then we can understand why Jesus would say that His Kingdom ‘was not of this world.’ The Kingdom of Jesus will topple the Kingdoms of this disordered world changing them to be the Kingdoms of His ordered world, but it won’t be done by the disordered methodology of this World and so Jesus can say, “My Kingdom is not of this World.” Hopefully, we can see that such a statement doesn’t mean that Christ’s Kingdom has no effect in this world or that Christ’s Kingdom can’t overcome the world.

John 18:36 is often appealed to in order to prove that the Kingdom of God is a private individual spiritual personal reality that does not impinge on public square practice(s) of peoples or nations corporately considered. Those who appeal to John 18:36 in this way are prone thus to insist that God’s Word doesn’t speak to the public square practice(s) of peoples or nations since such an appeal (according to this thinking) would be an attempt to wrongly make God’s Kingdom of this world.

The problem with this though is it that it is a misreading of the passage. When Jesus say’s “My Kingdom is not of this world,” his use of the word “world” here is not spatial. Jesus is not saying that His Kingdom does not impact planet earth. What Jesus is saying is that His Kingdom does not find its source of authority from the world as it lies in Adam.

Jesus brings a Kingdom to this world that is in antithetical opposition to the Kingdom of Satan that presently characterizes this world in this present wicked age. The Kingdom that Jesus brings has its source of authority in His Father’s Word. As a result of Christ bringing His Kingdom w/ His advent there are two Kingdoms that are vying for supremacy on planet earth. Postmillennialism teaches that the Kingdom of the “age to come” that characterizes Christ’s present Kingdom will be victorious in this present spatial world that is characterized by “this present wicked age,” precisely because, in principle, Christ’s Kingdom is already victorious in this present spatial world.

All nations will bow to Jesus and all kings will serve him and his mustard seed kingdom will grow to become the largest plant in the garden with the nation-birds finding rest in its branches. His kingdom is the stone which crushed the kingdoms of men in Daniel 2 and which is growing to become a mountain-empire which fills the whole earth, until all His enemies are made His footstool.

Because Christ’s Kingdom is victorious on this planet His Kingdom extends beyond the personal private individual realm and so impacts the public square. Another way to say that would be precisely because Christ’s Kingdom continues to be populated by a swarming host of individuals those individuals take that Kingdom that has overcome them and in turn overcome all that they touch with the Kingdom.

Dr. Geehardus Vos was not a postmillennialist but some of the things he taught captures what I am trying to communicate regarding Christ’s Kingdom while at the same time delineating Darryl’s misconceptions. Vos wrote,

“The kingdom means the renewal of the world through the introduction of supernatural forces.” (page 192)

“The thought of the kingdom of God implies the subjection of the entire range of human life in all its forms and spheres to the ends of religion. The kingdom reminds us of the absoluteness, the pervasiveness, the unrestricted dominion, which of right belong to all true religion. It proclaims that religion, and religion alone, can act as the supreme unifying, centralizing factor in the life of man, as that which binds all together and perfects all by leading it to its final goal in the service of God.” (page 194)

Geerhardus Vos
The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church

So, what Christ was saying to Pilate when He said “My Kingdom is not of this world” was “My kingdom does not gain it’s authority from Rome or the Sanhedrin. My authority comes from on high.” Pilate understood this. The irony is that the pagan tyrant understood, but Christians like Rev. Stellman expressly insist that it doesn’t mean that today. So the authority of Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, but nonetheless, the kingdom has invaded this civil realm, the family realm, law realm, economics realm, and every other realm you can think of for “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” Every aspect of our social order is touched by the kingdom of God.

No Images — On The Second Word

Text — Exodus 19:4, 20:22-26, 34:17, Lev. 26:1-2, Dt. 4:15-24, 11:16-17, 27:15
Subject — Images
Theme — Prohibition of Images
Proposition — The consideration of why God prohibits images should once again awaken within us the grandeur of the God we serve.


The Necessity to preach on God’s Law,

As we continue to consider God’s law we are mindful of the fact that we consider this law as His children. Because of Christ’s complete sacrifice for us, we are no longer strangers and aliens to God, under His personal wrath because of our violation of His just law. Because of Christ we could and did successfully sue for peace and because of God’s benevolence we have we have been delivered from the sting of the law’s eternal condemnation and have been delivered to the soothing comfort of the law as a a guide to life.

Outside of Christ, or as we are in Adam, we hate God’s law and find it burdensome since it forbids us to be our own gods and puts us in the service of another God. Outside of Christ we desire to be a law unto ourselves. United to Christ we love God’s law and on it we meditate both day and night. Belonging to Christ we find God’s law, “Holy, Just, and Good.” We do not convince ourselves that in and of ourselves we are law keepers but having been freely given Christ’s law keeping righteousness we now live in terms of ever increasing obedience to God’s law as we “with earnest purpose do begin to live not only according to some but to all the commandments of God.” (Q. 114 — HC)

And so we understand that our motivation in attending to God’s law is one of love to God for delivering us by our Mediator, the Lord Christ, who came to glorify the Father with His obedience to the Father’s law and so was rewarded with the Church as an inheritance. And we understand that the work of the Spirit is to work within us so that we put off the old man with his penchant for lawlessness and put on the new man who walks in good works according to God’s law. (Q. 91 — HC)

We boldly affirm that there is a need to return to God’s law in sanctification as there is in the Reformed Church a lawless spirit and a despising of God’s law as a guide to all of life.

This Lawless antinomian spirit can be seen by the way well known Reformed ministers are denigrating the role of the law in the life of the Christian by suggesting that an awareness of God’s law is somehow in opposition to an awareness of God’s grace.

“A taste of wild grace is the best catalyst for real work in our lives: not guilt, not fear, not another list of rules.” Tullian Tchividjian

“So the key to living the Christian life — the key to bearing fruit for God — the key to a Christ exalting life of love and sacrifice — is to die to the law and be joined not to a list of rules, but to a Person, the the risen Christ. The pathway to love is the path of a personal, Spirit-dependent, all satisfying relationship with the risen Christ, not to resolve to keep the commandments.” John Piper

Note in these quotes how the Reformed ministers suggest that God’s rules (Law) is somehow in opposition to Christ for the Christian as if the Christian doesn’t understand that he has been delivered from the law’s condemnation and having been swept up in the finished work of Christ for sinners he now identifies Himself with the one who identified with God’s law (Heb. 10:7). You can not drive a wedge between those who have had a taste of wild grace and their delight in God’s law both day and night. And when people have a all satisfying relationship with the risen Christ the result is that they do resolve to keep the commandments precisely because they have a all satisfying relationship with the risen Christ.

All that is by way of Introduction. This morning we continue to consider God’s law, specifically the Second commandment.

Background On The Ten Words

As we approach God’s law we remember that when God gave His law to His people, He gave it as one who had already revealed Himself as gracious to His people. God had brought His people out of the House of Bondage and had born them on Eagle’s wings away from Pharaoh’s persecution. And so the giving of the law to God’s people follows a Gospel (God doing all the saving) Law (God’s requirement’s upon His people) Gospel (the proleptic forgiveness found in the Sacrificial system that pronounced Christ).

This Gospel – Law – Gospel motif is very important to note for it reinforces that the Law has a place in the Gospel presentation to God’s people. God has graciously done all the rescuing. Having been freely and fully rescued God continues to pour out His grace to His people by giving them a standard to live by so as to glorify Him, and His grace is poured out even more as God provides a means of Sacrifice for the ongoing forgiveness of sins.

Previously we looked at the first commandment and we noted that we are not to serve false gods. We tried to note the dangers of false gods and how we always end up projecting ourselves into our false gods and then ironically enough we reflect what we have projected. We noted how Idolatry was involved in the sin of our first parents. The second week we considered the idea of magic and how moderns still employ magic. Last week we saw that in the 2nd word we have prohibition concerning how the cultic worship is to be shaped. The Second word informs us we can only approach God on God’s terms, there are to be no Talismans between God and man — no mediation between God and man — except that which is ordained by God.

This week we start by noting the Unique Place of the Second Commandment. Roman Catholics and Lutherans wrongly lump the first two commandments together and count them together as the first commandment.

However, these two commandments deal with different subjects:

The 1st commandment deals with who we worship — We worship no God but God and so we oppose the worship of other gods.

The 2nd deals with the form of worship — no images of God. The second opposes designer worship.

The 1st deals w/ the true God. The second deals w/ true worship.

Last week we saw how necessary those distinctions are. More than once Israel wanted to worship the true god through idols. (see Deut.4: 15-18; the golden calf, Exod.32: 4; Jeoboam’s Gold Calves 1 Kings 12:28, etc.) Last week we considered that God’s prohibition against Images is a prohibition against constraining god. In an Image God is controlled but of course it is God who is the one who control us. You can not manipulate God

Illustration — (I Sam. 4:3-8 — Philistines ark of the covenant)

What other reasons might we give for God’s opposition to Images as a means to worship him besides the fact that he who controls the image controls not only god but the people who serve god. Remember in any culture or social order whoever is in charge of the god(s) is in charge of the people. If the state is god and the politician class is in charge of the state then the politician class controls the people. The second commandment teaches that God is in control of Himself.

2.) image worship is forbidden because it reduces God

a.) reduces his incomprehensibility to comprehensibility

Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? — Is. 40:13

And yet that is exactly what image worship allows for. God is reduced to a image that is comprehensively known and man’s knowledge reigns over God’s knowledge.

b.) reduces God’s majesty and transcendence

To capture Yahweh in an image is to misunderstand His majesty.

When the Lord spoke to the Israelites on Mt. Sinai, he spoke while the mountain burned with fire ‘to the midst of heaven’ (Deut.4: 11-12). Images, by contrast, do not hear, eat nor smell (Deut.4: 28). Image worship evokes ridicule and sarcasm. “To whom will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to him? Do you have to nail him down so he doesn’t fall over (Isa.40: 18; 41:7). The majesty of God is indicated in Scripture by the metaphor of darkness, by which he is covered (Deut.4: 11; 5:23) or unapproachable light, in which He dwells (1 Tim.6: 16). Darkness and light are opposites but they communicate this much, God is so majestic, so transcendent that he cannot be brought within man’s reach. Both darkness and light are impenetrable and a image denies that reality.

Perhaps the fact that God’s majesty and transcendence lies on believers so lightly indicates that images impinge upon their lives?

c.) Not only does the image reduces God’s majesty and transcendence but it also reduces God’s nearness and covenantal intimacy.

Unless you carry the image w/ you God is always located someplace else but God is a God that is near to His people where ever they are (Psalm 139).

Next week we will consider the blessing and cursings attached to the second commandment upon obedience and disobedience and spend some time chatting on the relation of blessing to obedience and we will consider what God’s expectations were among His people for the violation of the 2nd commandment.



Obedience is motivated by gratitude that we are constituted a new people by God because our disobedience to God’s law has been paid by Christ. Christ has reconciled the Father to us so that we are the people of God’s favor. Being the people of God’s favor we walk in terms of His Law-Word.

America Is Dead … Long Live AmeriKa

“In fact official American belief regards the Declaration of Independence as the beginning of an endless process of active movement toward an ever more egalitarian and universalist society. This is because of the intervention between us and the Founding Fathers of that sea-change in the thinking of men that is summed up in the term ‘the French Revolution.”

Dr. Clyde N. Wilson
From Union To Empire

Wilson’s thesis is that American Nationalism has undergone a series of transmutations, the degree of which, has left the successive American Nationalism incomprehensible to the previous American Nationalism. Wilson suggests that the taking of the Declaration of Independence as a document that insures a endless process of active movement toward an ever more egalitarian and universalist society, is the consequence of the second American Nationalism, as crafted by the French Revolution and birthed in America through the war of Northern Aggression. Wilson seems to suggest that the American commitment to the idea that all men are created equal with certain inalienable rights was a far different stripe from the French Revolution egalitarianism that came to be eventually accepted in the American Nationalism that was successive to the form of Nationalism of the Founding Fathers. It would seem that the difference between these two competing notions of equality is the difference between the older belief that men are equal in respect to the application of law and the newer belief that men should be equal in opportunity and outcome.

Wilson goes on to note that there was another American Nationalism that was propelled during the Progressive era and consolidated during the after WW II.

“During and after WWII American society for the third time made a perilous leap into the cauldron of history, boiling down its existing consensus in the optimistic prospect of molding itself into a newer and more daring form. The Civil Rights revolution and a revolutionary alteration of the immigration laws were simultaneously undertaken in the 1960′s. It was as if the Melting pot, having proven itself able to boil down all of Europe, was now to test its capacity to do the same for the whole world.”

The question that Wilson raises is whether or not such a stripped down American Nationalism that is posited only upon unitarian notions of egalitarianism provides enough ingredients in order to make a cultural glue by which a culture may find cohesion.

In a culture where there exist no communitarian mystic chords of memory that includes either a shared ethnicity, a shared literature, a shared music, a shared religion, a shared history, or a shared language there exists nothing that can bind a people together except a shared prosperity. The question that begs being asked is whether or not a nation can stay together when national prosperity turns to national adversity except by brute force as used by the State.

One can easily conclude given Wilson’ taxonomy that America as America no longer exists. Following Wilson we might say America died a slow death in 1861-1865 with the War against the Constitution. In 1913 the American coffin was nailed shut with Banksters achievement of the Centralized Bank. Finally, America’s burial was in 1964 with the work of the minions of the Banksters passing the Javits inspired Immigration act. What we see happening in America now with the disharmony of interests is merely the legitimate children and the cultural Marxist bastards fighting over the estate.

Conservatives know this, but refuse to admit it; the Cultural Marxists know it, and every evening on the Cultural Marxist media outlets are proclaiming it loud and clear. Unfortunately, the name “America” will not go away, and neither will the Constitution, because liberals and Marxists will always appeal to these for legitimacy. They covet the prestige by association, but have not a particle of the pedigree. The Frankfurt School is the perfect example. Very good people labored to establish America’s most honorable institutions, traditions, and customs. They built the buildings, endowed the trusts, and nurtured the culture. Once that very hard work was done, the Marxist Frankfurt cowbirds flew in and laid their eggs, always claiming to be the faithful philosophical heirs of the founders and the progressive realization of their ideals. Now, to take up the mantle of a “Original American” and remind the Christ hating Cultural Marxists and everyone else that they are impostors, frauds, and hoaxers is to bring down upon oneself an onslaught of venom, vengeance, hatred – the very intolerance the imposters attribute to and vilify in anyone who dares tell the truth.

Just one more testimony proving that the last vestiges of Christian Western civilization–which has been dying for decade upon decade–are gone from America. The leaves have all fallen, autumn is over and winter is here. Not only have we left the house of the Christian God who alone is our source of strength and where alone we have protection, but we have forgotten the way home.

Benjamin Morgan Palmer & Bret L. McAtee on “The Gospel”

“It [the gospel] is the only system which undertakes to provide a perfect pardon and to readjust man’s relations to the violated law. In every government, human or divine, the first thing to be considered is our relation to the law. Immediately upon transgression, the law seizes the offender’s person, brings him before the tribunal of justice, convicts him under the evidence, fixes upon him the sentence of condemnation, holds him in prison, awaiting the execution of the penalty. Of necessity, therefore, in seeking relief, his first concern will be to settle with the law and to cancel its indictment. It does not make a particle of difference, at the first, how the man feels as to his transgression; whether he glories in it, or is sorry for it; whether, if released from punishment, he will lead a life of obedience or repeat his trespass to the end. The first and absorbing question is how to escape the infliction of the penalty which he has incurred. How shall he come forth from the shadow of his prison and walk in the free air of heaven with an erect form, and look without a blush in the faces of other men. Now, this is just what the gospel undertakes to do for the sinner. It provides a perfect pardon, and secures it upon principles of strict justice and law. The imperfection of human government is in nothing more manifest than in the fact that it never can exercise mercy except at the expense of justice. The criminal can never escape the penalty without inflicting a certain amount of injury upon the country and the law. If he escape by any defect in the evidence he is turned loose again to prey upon society as before. If executive clemency sets aside the deliberate judgment of the court, a shock is given to the stability of government by the collision between its two departments, which ought to be mutually supporting. But in the gospel, the justice and integrity of God are as completely vindicated as in the punishment of the transgressor. Whilst the sinner escapes the penalty, the law of God is more firmly established than before. Such a pardon, in which every claim of law is satisfied, goes to the root of the sinner’s case, so far as his guilt is concerned, for the reason that it is a pardon which can be sealed upon the conscience and give it perfect peace.”

BY REV. B. M. PALMER, D. D., 1818 – 1902
Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, New Orleans, La.


1.) Dr. Palmer’s burden is to communicate how the Gospel resolves the legal indictment of heaven against us as sinner. Palmer’s concern here is not experiential, or emotional, but rather forensic / judicial. God has a case against us. God, in Christ answers God’s case against His people. In our contemporary Gospel preaching the objective reality of judicial guilty is seldom touched upon and instead we go for felt needs as if what the sinner outside of Christ is emotionally feeling is the primary need to be addressed as opposed to God’s just wrath against sinners. If our Gospel begins with the felt needs our Gospel will forever be jerked about by the vagaries of “felt needs” that both redeemed and un-redeemed experience. Palmer’s Gospel is “from above” and so can reach below. Contemporary “Gospels” are from below and seldom, if ever, provide answer to God’s objective wrath.

2.) Dr. Palmer’s recognition that if mercy is exercised upon a criminal then a punishment is visited upon someone else. In the case of the Gospel we are extended mercy at the cost of punishment to the Son of God. This principle though needs to be understood by our social order structures today. If we turn a blind eye to justice to the guilty and extend “love” we are at the very moment turning a seeing eye of injustice upon someone else and are extending cruelty upon another. There was no cruelty visited upon the Lord Christ because he willingly laid down His life having entered into covenant w/ the Father from eternity but when our modern systems of “justice” ignore the law of God by extending “mercy” to the criminal, then at the same time cruelty is being extended at the same time somewhere else.

3.) Guilt is seen as objective and subjective in this quote. The criminal has objective guilt that must be dealt with and is dealt with in the cross of Christ. However, guilt is also subjective. The guilty must have his conscience quieted. The subjective feeling of guilt is only quieted in the sinner when the objective reality of guilty is answered. How Christian are men unless they know and answer that what they were saved from was a objective guilt that incurred God’s just wrath against them?

Rage Against The Machine — Reflecting on the Belhar Document

We will return eventually to the theme of Unity that the Belhar opens with and insists upon after we have examined the affirmations which the Belhar sets forth. Obviously, as unity is pinioned upon shared truth we can not know, concretely speaking, if we agree with Belhar’s call to unity until we know if we share Belhar’s truth affirmations.

So, with that in mind we will, with the next few entries, look at the truth affirmations and then we will return to the clarion call for unity issued by the Belhar.

Now as we head into this examination of the Belhar affirmations we must keep in mind that the burden of proof is upon the Belhar to be unambiguous about its statements and what those statements mean. Since the Belhar has aspirations for confessional status and since the Belhar is not worldview neutral in its affirmations it should be approached with a Hermeneutic of suspicion in order to expose any dangerous ambiguities that may lie sleeping in its text.

To that end we note this statement of the Belhar that follows its opening touting unity,

“Therefore, we reject any doctrine which absolutises either natural diversity or the sinful separation of people in such a way that this absolutisation hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church, or even leads to the establishment of a separate church formation;

Now the ambiguity that enters with this statement is found in the four italicized words above.

In this context what does “natural diversity,” mean?

Folks who subscribe to the Belhar will be rejecting any doctrine which absolutizes natural diversity. Who defines what “Natural diversity,” means and by what standard? According to some neo-Christians “natural diversity,” could very well mean the “natural diversity” that we find among the various sexes. We now have Social Scientists insisting that, biologically speaking, there are many gradations running from female to male; and the Social Scientists are telling us that depending on how one calls the shots, one can argue that along that spectrum lie at least five sexes– and perhaps even more. Are all these sexes an example of “natural diversity,” the existence of which we are not break the visible and active unity of the Church over per the Belhar?

To think that this lies in the realm of possibility is by recognizing that one of the key framers of the Belhar, Dr. Allan Boesak, in 2008, while Moderator of the Uniting Reformed Church (formerly the DRC Mission Churches) used the Belhar Declaration to justify homosexuality in Church. Now it is true that Dr. Boesak was voted down, in his attempt but it seems that if anybody was familiar with the original intent of the Belhar document it would be one who was an instrumental framer of the Belhar. If one of the framers of the Belhar insists that the original intent of the Belhar was to prohibit disunity over the Church officially embracing the putative “natural diversity” of homosexuality then why would a Church, such as the Christian Reformed Church, which does not justify homosexuality in the Church want to embrace that document as a confession? Certainly in light of this no one can argue with the fact that this phraseology is “ambiguous.”

Now, that this reading of Boesak’s should be of import to CRC people is found in the continual push within the denomination to normalize homosexuality in the Church. In point of fact, the March 2012 issue of the Banner finds a news clip on page 10 that opens with this paragraph,

“A group of members and pastors from several West Michigan Christian Reformed churches have organized to provide educational opportunities for congregations about the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals in their churches.”

Now, in light of the push of a significant interest group within the denomination (I say it is “significant” because I cannot imagine the Banner running such a news piece on some obscure group) to normalize homosexuality, and in light of the fact that one of the key framers of the Belhar insisted that the original intent of the Belhar justified homosexuality in the Church then can we really believe that the Belhar, if adopted as a Confession, won’t eventually be used as leverage in the push to bring homosexuality and sexual perversion into the Church and as proof that confessionally we are compelled to unite with homosexuals who call themselves “Christian.”

Our concern with the Belhar does not end on this point, for elsewhere in the Belhar we get other language that allows for a interpretation that would sanction sodomy and sexual perversion.

“Therefore, we reject any doctrine which explicitly or implicitly maintains that descent or any other human or social factor should be a consideration in determining membership of the Church.”

With this sentence we have moved from the ambiguity of the previous statement from the Belhar, as cited above, to a unambiguous statement which a Mack truck could drive through, interpretatively speaking. Those 7 words which are italicized in the above quote section clearly teaches that sodomy, bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, or any other human or social factor should not be a consideration in determining membership of the Church. What is sodomy, or lesbianism, or bestiality, or any number of sexual perversions but “human or social factors”?

When we begin to deal with the slippery way the Belhar uses the word “injustice” we will have questions once again about this matter, but for this post it is enough to see that the Belhar should not be adopted as a document because it’s language is not merely ambiguous as to what is being communicated, the language invites and begs those who want to advance a sodomite agenda to read the document as supporting their cause.

It is my belief that the document does support their cause and that is why I am raging against the machine.