R2Kt Virus Is Spreading

In my reading today, I came across the following gem from a Westminster West graduate. (Remember Westminster West — Escondido, is the Seminary where the equivalent of the Streptococcus pyogenes is being incubated and disseminated so as to infect the Church with the flesh eating Radical Two Kingdom Theology — {R2Kt}.)

First he who is infected with R2Kt asks,

I wonder if transformationism in the spiritual kingdom is the mirror-image of its counterpart in the civil one?

Here we see one incipient problem in the R2Kt virus. By opposing completely the notion of ‘transformationism’ the R2Kt infected people are advocating non-transformationism. Are they advocating for a Gospel that leaves people and cultures unchanged? Or are they suggesting that transformation of culture is impossible? If pre-millennialism teaches a kind of reverse transformationism where the worst things get the better things are because that means that Jesus is close to coming back, and if the post-millennialism teaches a positive transformationism that teaches the better things get the better things are because that means that the present Kingdom of God is continuing to expand those infected with R2Kt with its a-millennial chaser, seem to be teaching a ‘things never changism’ because they seem to hold that transformation is Maya.

The comment quoted above seems to suggest that belief in some kind of transformationism is avoidable. It is as if they believe that theological convictions don’t by absolute necessity transform. It is as if they don’t believe that transformation can be characterized as positive or negative. If transformation can’t be characterized as either positive or negative then what standard could we possibly use to determine cultural progress or regress? Is it the case no matter how culture is transformed it always remains equally good and bad?

Once again we would say that this is a case where it is not possible to hold to a-transformationism. It is never a question of if Theological ideas will have cultural transforming implications. It is only a question of which Theological ideas will be embraced that will lead to some kind of cultural transformation. Those infected with the R2Kt bug seem to think that transformation is avoidable. Ironically though with the convictions that those infected by the R2Kt bug hold the result is indeed transformationism, for if the R2Kt bug spreads far enough the result will be the Church’s continued fleeing from the common realm leaving a vacuum to be filled by the adherents of other God’s who are far less shy and retiring about exercising direct hegemony over culture thus transforming it.

Finally, the problem with ‘Secular’ transformation in the civil Kingdom is not that such desire for transformation is inherently evil. The problem is that the putatively Secularist has married his desired Transformations with eschatological anticipations that are informed by a pagan theology. As many have noted what has happened in America is that Puritan Post-millennial theology has been retained among Humanist Secularists but it has been ripped away from its Christian and Biblical moorings and has been put into the service of anti-Christ theologies.

Just as postmillennial transformationists feel compelled to “redeem the city,” so many Americans (believing or not) feel the responsibility to “make the world safe for democracy.” The latter has been called “the white man’s burden,” and perhaps the former should be considered the Christian version of Manifest Destiny.

I will gladly consent to calling post-millennialism Manifest Destiny. It is the revelation of God’s Word that teaches me that it is the Manifest Destiny of the Nations to Kiss the Son lest He be angry and they perish in the way. It is the revelation of God’s Word that teaches me that it is the Manifest Destiny that we should pray ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is the revelation of God’s Word that teaches me that it is the Manifest Destiny that the Kingdoms of this World shall be the Kingdoms of our Lord. It is the revelation of God’s Word that teaches me that it is the Manifest Destiny that the Knowledge of the Glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Now, the problem with the old notion of the necessity of ‘making the World safe for democracy’ is not that we as Christians shouldn’t desire for the World to be safe, but the problem is that the word ‘Democracy’ has become a synonym with ‘non-Christian.’ Acutally, I have even less use for this idea then those infected with R2Kt.

Those infected with R2Kt virus have the same concept of Manifest Destiny though in their Theology. For them it is Manifest Destiny that nothing ever changes. For them it is Manifest Destiny that the good and evil grow equally together until the end when finally evil gets the upper hand. For them it is Manifest Destiny that the Church is to be silent when it comes to whether Communism is to be preferred of Constitutionalism, or whether Keynesianism is to be preferred over Market economies, or whether Education that locks God out as the beginning of all wisdom is to be preferred over Education that acknowledges the Lordship of Christ in every area of life. So, again, it is not a question of whether Christians will have a kind of Manifest Destiny or not but rather it is a question of which kind of Manifest Destiny will we support. I vote for the one in the Bible.

If what is good for the pious goose is good for the pagan gander, then the secular version of judgment beginning at the house of God may be the willingness to admit that we Americans don’t need to get to “Babylon By Bus,” we can just walk out our front door.

I am a post-millennialist and I couldn’t agree with that statement more. A genuine post-millennialist believes that we don’t call ‘evil,’ ‘good’ in order to lie to ourselves that the Kingdom is expanding before our very eyes. A genuine post-millennialist transformationist so desires transformation that he realizes that he must call a spade a ruddy shovel in order to push for transformation. I have said for some time now that America may well indeed be the modern incarnation of ‘Babylon the Great.’

Does that make me a pious goose or a pagan gander?

Of Pietistic Ghettos, Intellectual Confrontation, & Hurried Calls For Spiritual Decision

“Yet twentieth-century evangelicals have been unable rationally to lift this generation to a clear vision of the reality of the supernatural, not simply because of human unregeneracy but because of their withdrawal into pietistic ghettos and their hurried call for spiritual decision which often leaps over an effectual intellectual confrontation.”

Dr. Carl F. H. Henry
God, Revelation and Authority Vol. 1 pg. 114

Actually, since the problem that Henry cites continues in the widespread double whammy ‘success’ of the Pentecostal (Charismatic) / Church Growth ‘gospel’ the worse thing in the world that could happen would be for these ‘converts’ to move out of their pietistic ghettos. The ‘Gospel’ continues to go forward and the Church continues to be built by ‘the hurried call for spiritual decision’ and by ‘leaping over an effectual intellectual confrontation.’

Anecdotally speaking, I saw this again, up close and personal when attending a ‘Promise Keepers’ conference several years ago. The first night was dedicated to a ‘gospel presentation’ and when the altar call was extended the front was wall to wall people presumably ‘giving their hearts to Jesus.’ The only problem was that their was no gospel in the gospel message that was preached. These people couldn’t give their hearts to Jesus because Jesus was nowhere to be found.

Likewise, in our Churches today there is very little ‘intellectual confrontation.’ To be perfectly honest, you would face mammoth difficulties by trying to build a self supporting Church with an ‘intellectual confrontation,’ approach. The last thing our culture wants is to be confronted. Better to emotionally manipulate people into getting saved, then to spend the intellectual effort, and the time required to articulate the wonder of God and the prevalent and deceptive nature of sin. You see, if you leap over effectual intellectual confrontation to emotional manipulation you avoid the heavy lifting that intellectual confrontation requires of the speaker and the requirement of real change (repentance) demanded upon those who listen.

As long as the Church continues to operate this way we need to sincerely pray that God would keep us in the ghettos because the damage we could do if we get outside the ghettos and into the mainstream would be devastating both to the mainstream and to the reputation of the Christian faith. Contemporarily speaking, a guy like Mike Huckabee is a perfect example of the embarrassment accruing to Christians when somebody gets off the reservation.

I am not arguing for an hyper academic Church. People like me, who are not particularly sharp knives, would be lost in that kind of setting. What I am arguing for is a Church that is willing to think through both how sin subtly manifests itself and how Christ’s redemption should be a cure and reversal of that. I am arguing for a church that quits with the emotional propaganda in order to make headway among people. I am arguing for a Church that realizes that the Gospel has a trajectory that requires Christians to have the ability to be vigorous thinkers — even and especially among the ‘rank and file.’

Lord Christ, grant us Reformation in head and members.

Roman Catholics & Natural Law

“… The image was equated with the soul’s natural attributes, while the … likeness, was equated with man’s moral conformity to God; the former were retained after the fall, the latter lost. This disjunction of image and likeness, and their segregation in each case from innate knowledge of God, became characteristic of scholastic and Roman Catholic doctrine. The Roman Catholic view is that man was created morally neutral, and that original righteousness was a superadded divine gift. While the fall eliminates this divine bonus, it produces no radical distortion of man’s original nature. Since the fall leaves the natural attributes unimpaired, man’s grasp of theological realities by the natural reason is not seriously affected by sin. The compartmentalization of man through the sundered image and likeness moderates the impairment of human nature by sin, and allows to the natural reason a positive significance in theology which finally inverts the Augustinian epistemic priority for divine revelation.”

Dr. Carl F. H. Henry
God, Revelation & Authority Vol. I pg. 332

Alright, this explains why Roman Catholics (RC) can appeal to Natural law without blushing. Now, clearly they don’t have a leg to stand on from Scripture since there is no distinction to be made between likeness and image and since Scripture teaches the complete vitiation of man’s intellect in the fall. Secondly, no Reformed Theologian worth his salt would ever say that, ‘while the fall eliminates this divine bonus (original righteousness), it produces no radical distortion of man’s original nature.’ Now, since that is true, how do Reformed Theologians consistently get from a ruinous fall to the teaching of Natural law which depends on Thomistic Roman Catholic categories?

Henry notes the ‘compartmentalization’ of RC thinking and when he notes that we can’t help but immediately think of a similar ‘compartmentalization’ that advocates of Natural law thinking are likewise involved in. On one hand, redemptively speaking man needs God’s regenerating grace in order to understand aright special revelation, while on the other hand, in the other compartment, man doesn’t need God’s regenerating grace in order to understand and embrace God’s Natural revelation in the creation realm.

Can Reformed people consistently compartmentalize the Creation realm from the Redemptive realm in order to save Natural law theory? Does their inconsistency on this matter reveal an unwarranted captivity to categories alien to Reformed ideas regarding the extent of depravity?

Observations On A A.A. Hodge Quote

“If professing Christians are unfaithful to the authority of their Lord in their capacity as citizens of the State, they cannot expect to be blessed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in their capacity as members of the Church. The kingdom of Christ is one, and cannot be divided in life or death. If the Church languishes, the State cannot be in health; and if the State rebels against its Lord and King, the Church cannot enjoy His favor. If the Holy Ghost is withdrawn from the Church, he is not present in the State; and if He, the ‘Lord, the Giver of life,’ be absent, then all order is impossible, and the elements of society lapse backward to primeval night and chaos.”

A.A. Hodge, Evangelical Theology

First, to all those Radical Two Kingdomists (RtKt) who want to introduce a dualistic wall between Church and State, this quote of Hodge is not your friend. According to RtKt the State does not have Jesus as its Lord because the State is supposed to insure that the culture is pluralistic. A pluralistic culture requires a pluralities of Lords. Hodge’s quote doesn’t support that ‘thinking.’ According to RtKt it is not possible for the State to be Christian since neither families, or schools, or cultures, or anything but individuals can be ‘Christian.’ Hodge’s quote doesn’t support that ‘thinking.’ According to RtKt Church and State are divided and only the Church can be presently spoken as being Christ’s Kingdom. Hodge’s quote doesn’t support that ‘thinking.’

Second, note that Hodge draws a direct correlation between the health of the Church and the health of the State. As goes the Church so goes the State (and we would add… ‘so goes all other aspects of the Culture). The Church is to a culture what a Well is to a water supply. If the Well is touched with disease the whole water system and everything it nourishes languishes. The Church in the West has long been diseased and so the West is dying in every cultural nook and cranny. Make clean the water supply and all else will grow.

Third, note in the italicized part that Hodge runs this in reverse as well. Not only is it the case that if the core is diseased then all that the core feeds will suffer as well, but it is also the case that if all the extremities rot the core will go bad as well. It is not only the case that a diseased Church leads to a diseased State but it is also the case that a diseased State leads to a diseased Church. Death can happen from the inside and work its way out or death can come from the outside and works its way in.

This brings us to why I believe that RtKt is as dangerous to the Church as is the Federal Vision. It is my conviction that following Federal Vision with its toying of the Gospel is and will lead to rot from the inside out. Similarly, it is my conviction that following Westminster West RtKt theolog with its toying with Christ’s Lordship is and will lead to rot from the outside in. Regardless of which direction the rot moves the end result is that, “He, the ‘Lord, the Giver of life,’ is absent,” resulting further then in “all order being impossible, with the elements of society lapsing backward to primeval night and chaos.”

Fourth, no culture can exist without both some kind of Church and State acting harmoniously together. Where there is no harmony between Church and State then parallel institutions will be constructed by the dominant of the two institution to do an end around the institution that is causing grief. In our case the end run around the Christian Church was for the State to build government schools to function as the defacto State Church that would catechize future generations into the religion of the State. Many years later of course the Christian Church augments for the Humanist Church and fills in where the Humanist Church leaves any gaps.

Fifth, note that Hodge in the first sentence clearly articulates that being citizens is a ‘religious activity.’ Citizens must be faithful to their Lord in the putative common realm because the putatively common realm actually is Christ’s realm. Abraham Kuyper was correct when he said, “There is no area of life that the Lord Jesus Christ does not lay his hand on and say, ‘Mine!’.” All activity is religious activity and to insist, as the RtKt insists that Christ does not speak a revelatory and informing Word to all those areas that belong to Him is a recipe for all areas of society to “lapse backward to primeval night and chaos.”

God grant the Church more men with this kind of insight of A. A. Hodge.

Holy Rape Of The Soul

Recently I came across someone referring to irresistible grace and regeneration as the ‘holy rape of the soul.’

First, as to origins of this phrase. It seems that somehow Jonathan Edwards is blamed for this phraseology. However, Edwards never uses the phrase in his works. Allegedly, a well known contemporary popularizer of Reformed Theology has quoted Edwards as having said that and that may be where the confusion stems from. The phrase seems to have been coined by the legendary Puritan Scholar Perry Miller (who as I recall was not a Christian).

Wherever the quote came from and whoever came up with it we ought to take the phrase out to the cow pasture, put a bullet through it and bury it. To equate God’s gracious act of regeneration with a violent sadistic criminal act teeters on blasphemy.

Here it is the case that in Adam we were genuinely raped. And then in our own sinful acts we were sodomized and raped over and over again so that we were the sex slaves of the sadistic devil. Gang banged by his demons. Given over to every imaginable perversity. Then, in God’s wondrous Grace the virginity of our soul is returned to us and we call that ‘RAPE’? It’s like saying that rescue from a gulag is abduction or that adoption out of the Manson family is kidnapping.

Secondly, rape happens when somebody takes something forcefully that isn’t theirs to take. What happens in regeneration doesn’t fit that description. From eternity past the Elect belonged to God. At the Cross Christ paid for the sins of His adulterous people that the Father had given Him. When, in effectual calling we are wooed to Christ, He is not forcefully taking something from us that isn’t His to take.

Thirdly, we are not captivated by Christ in irresistible grace in the way that a damsel in distress is captivated by some blackguard or brigand. Regeneration is all God’s work, but He draws us to himself in such a way that we want to come.

Fourth, I can’t imagine for the life of me, how somebody who has been traumatized by rape would hear that phrase.

To refer to effectual calling as ‘the holy rape of the soul’ is like talking about a good tasting excrement sandwich, or how wonderful the torture sessions were.

Let’s lose that metaphor.