I Said, Hey Babe… Take A Walk On The Wild Side

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and then bid the geldings to be fruitful.”

C.S. Lewis


Why should anybody be surprised by this? I would be surprised if it didn’t happen.

We make girls without scruples and expect of them virtue and modesty. We laugh at sexual propriety and are shocked to find teenage whores in our midsts. We morally lobotomize and then bid little girls to be morally thoughtful.

Secondly, you have got to know if it is going on in Dallas it is going on all over the place.

Look, we communicate in our government churches (schools)

1.)That sex is no big deal

2.)That if education has a primary purpose its primary purpose is to make money.

These girls were just being consistent with the presuppositions that they were taught in school as reinforced by our culture.

What I don’t understand is why the sheriff is so mystified.

From The Mailbag

Coming off a really bad Good Friday service. Your criticisms of the therapeutic nature of the modern gospel were wonderful – and dead on. I would love for you to expand on this in another post – revivalism is something that has poisoned so much of our mind space, so much of our church – in other words, I know it bothers me, I believe I know when I see it, but articulating it is quite another story.

A few good books to get on this subject is, “Revival & Revivalism’ by Iain Murray,’Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism’ and ‘Fundamentalism and American Culture’ by George Marsden, ‘The Democratization of American Christianity’ by Nathan Hatch and finally ‘The Methodist Revolution’ by Bernard Semmel.

First, we should note that Revivalism finds its origin just about the time that Romanticism / Transcendentalism as philosophical schools are starting to wash across American Universities and American Culture. Romanticism, as a belief system, emphasized the emotions, in correction to what it believed to be the arid rationalism to which it was responding. In my estimation Methodist Holiness Revivalism (and later its cousin Pentecostalism) in its American expression partakes of this emotional based Romanticist school of thought. So one sign of Revivalism is that it is emotionally based. Now, of course, this is not to say that emotions have no place in the Christian life (I heartily recommend J. Edwards ‘Religious Affections’),but classic mainstream revivalism cannot survive without large dollops of emotionally driven energy — emotionally driven energy that most often gets associated with ‘The work of The Holy Ghost,’ and sometimes gets labeled as ‘Feeling the Holy Ghost.’

This emotionalism, in its more deleterious forms, I can’t imagine looking a great deal different then what Elijah saw on Mt. Carmel when the Priests of Baal were whooping and hollering trying to get Baal’s attention.

This characteristic trademark of Revivalism then has a few implications. First, it tends to practice sentimentalism to an absurd degree. It is said that one of the ‘come down to the altar’ songs for one of the 20th century revivalist (I think Moody but I can’t remember for sure) was ‘Mother I’m Coming Home.’ The context would be that the Revivalist would hit heavy on how sinners had left their parents teaching and how Mother was in heaven, and wouldn’t it be nice for Mom if you accepted Jesus. After that type of message then the Revivalist song master would take up ‘Mother I’m Coming Home.’ I was exposed to an instance of sentimentalism recently when attending a funeral everyone was asked to hold hands and while singing the closing song in the memory of the deceased. Upon reading that sentence it doesn’t sound like much, but if you had been there with me you would have likewise seen the sentimentalism. We still see that type of sentimentalism today from your garden variety Evangelical. As before, there is nothing wrong with proper sentiment but it is this syrupy sentimentalism that is characteristic of revivalism. Second, emotionalism also drives anti-intellectualism which is a hallmark character of Revivalism. If you attend a Revivalistic Church don’t count on Sermons or Sunday School classes teaching on things like ‘the nature of the Atonement,’ or, the history of the Creeds, or, a Christian theory of knowledge or anything like that.

This brings us to the therapy angle. When a Church is driven by emotionalism and is anti-intellectual then the means of solving problems in the congregation is therapy — the goal of which is to make people feel (there is that emotional angle again) good. Further if you know anything about modern Christian versions of Christian counseling (therapy) you know that one could fill dump-trucks with the sentimental bilge that comes out of that context. Seeking to avoid the danger of being extremist, I will mention again, that I suppose there are times when therapy is a good thing (though I am far less sure about that than I am about the proper place of emotion and sentiment in the Christian life) but the problem is when therapy is used as an avoidance technique to do the heavy lifting of thinking God’s thoughts after Him, or when it is used as a means to lock people out of leadership positions because they don’t have enough emotion or sentiment.

A great contemporary example of what I’ve mentioned here was Promise Keepers. Since, when the circus comes to down, one always needs to go once to see the Elephant, I attended a PK conference. Emotionalism, Sentimentalism, and Anti-intellectualism were on parade. The Gospel proclamation was just plain stupid, as was most of the other presentations.I had people whooping and hollering all around me while I was calmly sitting in my chair reading a book. They looked sympathetically at me like I was someone who was missing out on the Holy Ghost.

So the first character of Revivalism is emotionalism which then brings to fore both sentimentalism and anti-intellecutalism, and the three of them together go a long way towards explaining our Therapeutic culture.

The Next entry we will look at Revivalism and the Cross.

Kibitzing With The R2Kt Guys

And the Apostles get martyred…hmmm. Does a transformed society really string up those to whom they owe all this wonder?

One doesn’t get to transformed without going through transforming Zrim my friend. So, yes, on the way to transformed people may very possibly get ‘strung up.’ It’s the postmillennialists, because of their advocacy of Christ’s Lordship who are persecuted for the Kingdom. I’m never quite sure why anybody would want to persecute an a-mill person unless they somehow were mistaken for being post-mill — I mean, why would anybody find an a-mill believer to be threatening enough to want to persecute?

Does your prebytery know you are really a Methodist?

Does your Session know you are really a cultural relativist?

Seriously, theonomy (hard and soft) is the propserity gospel of statecraft. “Transformation” is the power-word of the spirit of this age: transform your inner-being, your society, your relationships, your health, etc. There are just so many versions of “health and wealth.”

Seriously, Radical two Kingdom theology is the cultural anti-nomianism of the Church. R2Kt is the means by which a-millennialism thinks it can achieve self-fulfilled prophecy. “If we don’t engage the culture, then it will get worse and worse and that will force Jesus to come back.”

Oh, and by the way, it was the Holy Spirit who used your, so called, ‘power word of this age.’ “Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Guess the Holy Spirit should have checked with you R2Kt guys before inspiring that word.

You should get your own show on Christian TV.

Will you be my Vanna and turn the pretty letters?

R. Scott Clark asks,

Why should Christians engage the culture? Because it’s a creational law. We were commanded to name things. We are commanded to steward creation.

And what does Redemption accomplish except to Redeem ALL of Creation? Now if Redemption has that effect on Creation by what standard will creation, upon redemption, live if not from God’s revealed word?

This is why Theonomy is just like Barthianism. Neither one of you folks believe in nature. You’re both quasi-gnostic. It’s no surprise that both groups have trouble with the covenant of works and you end up confusing law and gospel. Barth did. You guys do it regularly. You’re both making fundamental theological mistakes.

This is nothing but a series of unsubstantiated assertions. You’d think a Ph.D. at one of the flagship Reformed Seminary’s in America could do better then making unsubstantiated assertions.

First, Barthianism holds that God is so other — so Transcendent — that his Word doesn’t really have meaning unless one has some kind of mystical encounter with the Word. How Bob can associate that with an expression of basic Christianity that holds that all should be governed by God’s revealed Word just reveals how desperate Bob is to do guilt by association.

The fact of the matter is that it is R2Kt that is quasi gnostic. God is concerned about the Spiritual realm of the Church but He is, at best, only indirectly concerned with the ‘yucky material realm.’

Bob is making the fundamental hermeneutical mistake of gnostically divorcing Redemption from Creation. God likes matter Bob — he made it and he has determined to Redeem it. According to Bob’s hermeneutic the Old and Worst covenant found God more engaged with the Creation realm then he is in the new and better covenant. In the Old Covenant God was concerned with gross ceational things like laws, and parameters for magistrates, and just weights and measures. However in the new and improved covenant God is glad to be done with the yucky material creational realm.

Great hermeneutic Bob.

The pattern for our life in this world is not Israel. They were the pattern for the CHURCH not for civil life. The USA isn’t Israel. No civil entity is Israel. That’s the point of WCF 19. That’s why we confess “general equity” and not “the abiding validity….etc”

And you know as well as I do that there is a raging debate over just what ‘general equity’ means. Clearly Israel was a pattern for the Kingdom, which has the Church at its center but the Kingdom includes every area over which Jesus reigns.

R. Scott Clark — The Typhoid Mary carrier of R2Kt virus

I will continue to engage on the R2Kt (radical two Kingdom Theology) virus which with Westminster West is seeking to infect the Church. Beyond my basic problems with R2Kt I get annoyed at guys like Dr. R. Scott Clark and Westminster West toadies because they are forever insisting that they alone are the pure expression of Confessional Reformed Theology, and they do so with faces firmly set against hurricane force winds of contrary evidence blowing against them. I understand that Westminster West is considering changing their motto to ‘Never let the facts get in the way of your ideology.’ It’s almost as if they are practicing the ‘Big Lie’ philosophy, which teaches that if you tell a big enough lie long enough people will eventually begin to believe your lie.

Dr. R. Scott Clark offers,

Why must “the church” engage the culture?

Why can’t Christians engage the culture?

Why must we form this kind of dichotomy between personal individual responsibility and corporate responsibility?

Naturally, no Reformed Christian teaches that individual Christians can’t engage the culture. But that’s not really Bob’s beef. Bob’s beef is that the Church should have any role speaking to anything except personal and individual salvation. Bob refuses to believe that Christ brings salvation not only to individuals but also to the institutional and cultural infra-structures that people, in societal relationships build. So the first reason why the Church must engage the culture is because the salvation that Jesus brought extends beyond individuals to the whole Cosmos. Jesus intends to save the WHOLE WORLD — which includes culture. The second reason that the Church must engage the culture is because culture is people group theology made manifest. Now since the Church is THE PLACE where Theology is supposed to be most ardently pursued, one would think that it would have a word or two to speak to the incarnated concrete theology that we call ‘culture.’ I just find it all inexplicable that I should have to explain this. The third reason that the Church must engage culture is because it can’t help but engage culture. Look, if the Church refuses to engage culture that refusal is itself an engaging of culture. An engagement which says to the culture, ‘do as you please, we have no authoritative Word for you.’ Such a Word is an engagement The consequence of such a engagement by way of disengaging is that the larger culture begins to incarnate a Theology that is not biblical, which in turn leads to the Church being impressed and shaped in its theology by those individuals who have been impressed and shaped by the theology they are absorbing from the culture that is not being spoken to by the Church.

Let’s also keep in mind that the last time the Theology of R. Scott Clark prevailed on a geographically wide scene was the Lutheran Church in Germany between 1933-1945. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the Church not engaging the culture.

Nothing about two-kingdoms theology says that Christians can’t engage the culture. Why can’t the institutional church be left to its proper business: preaching Christ, administering the sacraments, and administering discipline. As far as I can see the visible, institutional church can hardly manage that let alone taking back whatever for Jesus.

But Bob, what is the reason that it ‘can hardly manage that’? I would contend the reason that the Church can hardly manage that is because the pagan culture that we have not been speaking to appropriately has come into the Church. Bob, you can’t realistically think you can make the Church an island that is unaffected by the tides of the culture in which it exists. If we will not engage the incarnated pagan theology (culture) then the incarnated pagan theology (culture) will engage us (the Church) — and not beneficently so.

And just to be clear, I don’t know of any bellwether Theocrats or Theonomists throughout Reformed History that didn’t believe and wouldn’t agree that the Church needs to be preaching Christ, administering the sacraments, and administering discipline. It’s not as if Theocrats and Theonomists throughout Reformed Church history haven’t week in and week out been about the proper business of the Church in Worship.

Yes, CHRISTIANS SHOULD ENGAGE THE CULTURE — pay attention! Yes, I’m shouting. Yes, there is a kulturkampf, but there probably has always been one of sorts. The question is not “whether” but rather the questions are by whom and how and to what end? Christians should engage the culture on the basis of natural REVELATION and they should preach the law to the culture which is what culture is about. Art, language, music, law, and whatever else composes a culture is about law. All these things must be done in obedience to certain laws. It is about understanding these laws.

Bob would have us draw laws by appeal to natural revelation and not from God’s Holy Word. And yet, natural revelation or natural law has as many variants as there are types of beetles in the world. What standard will adjudicate between the varying natural laws that men espouse?

Now, to be sure there is only one true natural law. But we can’t expect non-Christians, because of how they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, to find any reason to tip their hats to the one true natural law. Does Bob need a refresher course on total depravity?

Second, Bob doesn’t realize that it is also entirely possible and even likely that Christians won’t even agree on how to ‘understand these laws.’ Since, Bob would have individual Christians appeal to natural law as their authority then it is conceivable that there will be as many Natural laws as there are individual Christians.

The gospel (which is the basis for any Christian notion of “transformation”) has been committed to the church and is found there, not in the culture. Transformation, properly defined, belongs to Christians and to the visible church in anticipation of the eschaton.

I agree that the Gospel is found uniquely in the Church. It is the institution where Redemption is proclaimed. However, all because we admit that Gospel is found uniquely in the Church doesn’t mean that the Church can’t speak about what that Gospel looks like as it effects the Culture. The Church is where Redemption is proclaimed. The culture is where the proclaimed redemption incarnates itself. The Church must speak both to the essence of what the Gospel is and the consequent of what the Gospel looks like. We cannot divorce the message of the Gospel from the implications or outworkings of the Gospel.

The attempt to apply the category of “transformation” to the culture is the result of an over-realized eschatology and goes hand-in-hand with the confusion of the church with the culture.

And Bob’s amillennialism and his R2Kt theology is the result of an under-realized eschatology and goes hand in hand with the expectation that in this world the Gospel is defeated.

Building A Worldview — I — Larger Questions And The Conflicts They Generate

We should note that all individuals and peoples have a worldveiw. This is not to say that all individuals are epistemologically self-conscious as to what their worldview is. Neither is it to say that individuals always live consistently with their worldview, nor is it to say that individuals don’t have significant contradictions within their worldviews. On a corporate level not all individuals living within a people group will accept the preponderant worldview, though the consequence of not accepting the preponderant worldview will always be some kind of social marginalization.

Second, it is important to note that any given culture is the visible clothing of a people’s unseen worldview beliefs. You can’t see beliefs but those who have eyes to see can see how those beliefs incarnate themselves into cultural arrangements.

Any coherent Worldview is sustained by its ability to answer what is called ‘the larger questions.’ These questions would include,

1.) Nature, destiny, & origin of the cosmos

2.) Nature, destiny, origin, & role of man

For example in the West these larger questions are answered as follows,

The origin of the cosmos is that something came from nothing. The nature of the cosmos is solely material. The destiny of the cosmos is eternal inhabitation.

The nature of man, compositely speaking is that he is matter. The nature of man ethically speaking is that he is basically good, being swept along by the inevitability of progress. The destiny of man is self achieved utopia in the long term with the grave being the final end for those who don’t endure to Utopia. The origin of man is time + chance + circumstance. The role of man is to glorify himself.

When one compares the above to the Christian worldview one begins to understand why their should be a great amount of tension and friction between epistemologically self-conscious Christians and epistemologically self-conscious materialists.

For the Christian the origin of the cosmos is that God spoke it into existence. The nature of the cosmos is that it is material in its outward expression but that it is governed and sustained by Spiritual realities (God). The destiny of the cosmos is renewal along with the rest of creation.

The nature of man, compositely speaking is that he is modified unichotomous being composed of matter and spirit, who upon death will experience, for a brief time, an unnatural division between his natural, and modified unichotomous existence. The nature of men, ethically speaking, is that man is inherently sinful, but is capable of Redemption. When such a redemptive eventuality takes place, ethically speaking, man’s nature is at the same time sinner and saint. The destiny of man is the Kingdom of God, and the role of man is to glorify God by fully enjoying Him forever.

Another thing that we hasten to add here is that sitting atop every worldview is a God from which the worldview descends. In the two examples given above the God at the top of the first worldview is man. All things exist for man and all things must serve man. In the second worldview the God of the Bible is what animates that worldview.

Such divergent worldviews make for conflict among their differing adherents as each seeks to loyally advance the cause of their God and their worldview. Increasingly we see that conflict in Western culture as these two worldviews continue to vie for supremacy.

We see this conflict manifest itself in a host of different cultural expressions of which I offer only a few,

1.) If man is only matter then he is disposable and therefore creating men to be replaceable parts through cloning or abortive pregnancy is acceptable. On the other hand if man is created in the image of God then all life needs to be esteemed and protected, especially life at its beginning and end.

2.) If man is basically good then any fault of man must be found in man’s environment. Therefore, man must take the initiative to control his environment through social engineering, endeavoring to create a cultural climate that allows man express his innate goodness. On the other hand if man is fallen then no amount of manipulation of his environment will heal his fallen-ness. Remedies for man’s fallen sin nature come not through manipulating man’s material surroundings or social engineering the way he thinks. Rather the remedy for man’s fallen-ness is spiritual and comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in keeping with the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

3.) If the chief role of man is to glorify himself and if there is no super-mundane God above to whom men must give an account or who gives men an absolute standard by which to adjudicate right and wrong then man is free to do whatever he, in his majority expression, determines will glorify himself. On the other hand if the chief role of man is to glorify God then obedience to God’s Law Word is the motivation of all that man does, and one thing that a redeemed man does in order to glorify God is to oppose the agenda of those who desire to glorify man.

Friction emanating from people living in the same geographic space who hold to these diametrically opposed worldviews will ripple, rend and tear all across the culture as the adherents of each worldview seek to implement their Worldview answers to the larger questions. Indeed, so stark is the combat that the Christian is taught to pray for the destruction of the opposing kingdom (‘Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is necessary to understand that the coming of one Kingdom implies the destruction of all that which opposes it) while the Materialist, in reference to the Christian can say things like,

If you (Christians) insist on teaching your children falsehoods … — that ‘man’ is not a product of evolution by natural selection — then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us (evolutionary Materialists) who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity. Our future well being — the well being of all of us on the planet — depends on the education of our descendants.

The division between those who are consistent in their answers to the larger questions is total and complete. Would that Christians would begin to awaken to that.