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Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Joshua, Jun 23, 2011.
Very briefly, if possible, how do we define R2K?
The form of 2K advocated by several prominent professors from Westminster Seminary California. The 'R' is there to distinguish it from the classical two-kingdom theology of Calvin et al., which did not entail so sharp (or radical) a distinction between the two realms as to prevent Scripture from being a standard in the civil realm. Perhaps if the "radical" term is unhelpful to the discussion, another name can be proposed.
I have another question (hopefully a non-loaded one, since I don't have much of a dog in this): What do 2kers of the WSCal breed think of Darius' anti-blasphemy law or the king of Ninevah's religious edicts in Jonah? The reason I ask is because these are not part of the Mosaic Covenant; they were given by Gentile rulers to people outside the covenant. I have always wondered this, and this would a good place to find out. I don't think I'll need to post any further; I'll just read.
I have read VanDrunen's Living in God's Two Kingdoms. Is this work considered R2K?
Well, I found reading it somewhat of an up-hill slog. Not sure why. Perhaps it was the painstaking effort to lay the ground work for his conclusions. I didn't find anything in it that set off any alarms, though I confess, I'm mostly ignorant of the debate on this issue and things surrounding it.
I'm not up to speed on the nuances of R2K. I am a Baptist, though, and "separation of church and state" is a Baptist distinctive.
"Religious Liberty" in the Baptist Faith and Message:
Does this count as R2K?
I think Dr. Kloosterman is doing an incredible and intellectually honest job in his interacting with VanDrunen, either we agree fully with him or not.
Here on the Puritanboard (and on other internet blogs too) we are becoming polarized between extremes, and like Luther used to say, the extremes lead to the devil.
R2K won't bring the antichrist, but we may be too busy throwing stones ate each other to notice when he arrives.
Please notice that it was Abraham Kuyper who removed from BC 36 the following words:
And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.
follows a quote from Kloosterman - Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms: A Review (6) - Kuyper (ii) emphasis mine:
Interestingly, BC 36 came into play during the Secession of 1834 in the Netherlands, with
Secession leaders taking differing positions on the application of BC 36 to the circumstances
surrounding the Dutch church split. Leaders like H. de **** and S. van Velzen defended the
original BC 36, which bound the magistracy to protect the true (i.e., Reformed) religion, while
spokesmen like A. Brummelkamp and H. P. Scholte advocated a position of radical separation of
church and state, a position very close to that of Abraham Kuyper. The debates leading up to the
1905 revision of BC 36 featured various positions, one in favor of removing the “21
words” (according to the Dutch wording, of course), a second position against removing them,
and a third posture in favor of modified versions of these words, advocated by prominent
spokesmen like Kuyper, De Savornin Lohman, and Ph. J. Hoedemaker. Traces of these positions
can be found still today among representatives of various Dutch political parties whose
membership is largely Reformed.
Kuyper’s emphasis in this debate can be summarized especially in terms of freedom of the
state from the direction of the church, and vice versa.
Kuyper worked toward the ideal of a free
church in a free state. To achieve this ideal, he stressed the differences between the spheres of church and state, as well as the Old Testament (temporary) character of Israel’s theocracy.
Kuyper argued that the disputed language of BC 36 was a product of its age, an earlier time when
the element of coercion in opposing false worship was found acceptable.
Remarkably, the “21 words” of BC 36 have been retained by the Christelijke Gereformeerde Kerken, despite vigorous debate at their 1928 and 1962 synods, and by a number of other Reformed denominations both in and beyond the Netherlands.
The preceding paragraph clearly indicates areas of agreement between Dr. VanDrunen’s
construal of NL2K and the thought of Abraham Kuyper.
To that extent we heartily agree with and endorse the continuation of Kuyper’s development and application of Reformed social thought today.
These fundamental Kuyperian ideas of sphere sovereignty and of a free church in
a free state deserve our continued hearty endorsement.
PS - Joshua, I aknowledge that I am not directly answering your questions that are relevant and good.
I just prefer to post this here than to post on the thread started by Rev. Lane, that started in my opinion on the wrong foot, as much as I may agree with Rev Lane on 2K.
Please notice that Kuyper, who was, beyond a shadow of doubt, a Reformer of State and Society, thought that times had changed, already in the early XXth century
to justify that role for the civil sphere.
I imagine you may disagree, but Kuyper thought the way was exactly the opposite, and the Doleantie was a movement to bring the Church back to being Reformed and Confessional and independent from the State.
And remember that the Remonstrants within Leiden State Univresity and the HNKerk at the time of the Synod of Dort found support from the government and regional authorities.
Establishmentarianism is a 2 edge sword as the act of conformity also proved. It will depend on what the Civil Authorities will understand to be True and Proper Worship and Church.
Cesar, you are correct that Kuyper was involved with the amendment to Belgic 36. But from the following section that you quoted as being REMOVED in its ENTIRETY, it actually was only the part that I have placed in bold below that was removed:
"And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word."
Thank you for the correction Mark.
Again, what I appreciate in Dr. Kloosterman's interaction with VanDrunen is that he acknowledges how sensitive it is to understand the entire matter.
I'm happy to accept the doctrine of the Confession on Church and State as biblical, along with this act of the Free Church of Scotland, pointing out that merely because we subscribe to the Confession does not mean that we believe that the State need fine, imprison, torture or kill those of false religions only because of their religion or worship.
The antichrists are already here and have been for donkey's years, Cesar. E.g. the antichrist of Liberal Theology set up in many denominations; the antichrist of Post Modern "Emergent" teaching in many denominations; the Antichrist of the Papacy set up in the Visible Church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church; the antichrists of the "Christian" cults.
An antichrist is a teaching or person which is an idol dressed-up to look like Christ - and Christianity - to the unwary, those that don't or won't test things by the Truth, and set up to deceive in the Visible Church broadly considered.
Richard, that is precisely my point, we are treating some theologians from the Westminster camp as if they are outside of reformed confessional orthodoxy.
I say let's keep interacting graciously amongst ourselves.
I have held to what is now known as R2k for 15 years now, and I think I can answer any questions for those interested. I don't pretend to represent my R2k friends, for we have some quibbles among ourselves, and we never have annual meetings to compare notes, but I hope I can shed some light on the subject. Some of the criticism of our position I have read on this site is new and strange to me, especially relating to sanctification, but hopefully I can answer those also.
As to the question on the Westminster Confession, yes, we believe the amendments in 1788 were needed and better represent the Biblical position than the original.
Pastor - Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Rio Rancho, NM
Todd - Thank you for being willing to interact with the thread.
I would love to hear more of your answer to the question in the opening post. Regarding motivations, role in civil government, etc.
The motivation, at least for me, is to protect the gospel; that it not be identified with the politics or cultures of this present age, and to protect Christian liberty, that in matters relating to the role of government in the new covenant age, there is freedom among believers to form their own opinions and even disagree. Obviously this means we reject theonomy and all such attempts to use the Bible to provide answers on how new covenant, non-theocratic governments should enforce laws or religion. As to the question about the original Confession on the role of government enforcing true religion, we believe it was mistaken. Not sure how else to answer that question. Here is a nice summary on the changes to the Confession
One wonders what the word "freedom" must mean in this context. Opinions are generally recognised as being freely formed. That would be different from the idea that one's opinions are free from bearing the consequences of acting upon them.
It is striking to find in the Acts of the Apostles that the first heralds of the gospel rejoiced to suffer for their faith. Rather than deny the State's power in matters which concerned religion they saw suffering as one of the weapons of righteousness which strongly influences the consciences of men. In that light the plea for indiscriminate toleration might be seen as a device for disarming the herald of the faith.
And that is exactly why I am leaning away from it. Not necessarily 2k but R2K.
Isn't this whole thing an over reaction to Jerry Falwell?
So under your R2k, does the "freedom" to form opinions about the role of government *exclude* opinions based on theonomic priniciples? Would R2k give me the freedom to hold opinions on the role of government based on Marxist principles?
Yes, one has freedom to believe socialism is a better system than capitalism. Obviously a true believer would not accept the Marxism of enforced atheism and persecution of Christians, but as simple economic theory Christians are allowed to have dumb or misguided opinions on economic theories, just like in matters of medicine and even liking the Yankees.
Are Christians allowed to believe the State should enforce the death penalty for premeditated murder on the grounds that natural law is the same as the law given to Moses minus the ceremonial aspects?
As noted by earlier responses, these questions are going to apply to many more among the Reformed (i.e. NAPARC churches) than simply R2kers. In other words, I think the net may have cast a bit too widely and includes those who are constantly at loggerheads with R2k and against whom R2k seems to be largely aimed. The issue as I understand it with R2k is whether the church as the church i.e. as a corporate entity has any prophetic role whatsoever in society.
Right or wrong, most today in the American Presbyterian churches would consider the issue of the 1646 WCF and the American revision to be so marginal as to require addressing only as a historical issue. (This is largely because there are relatively so few that hold to that position.) Nevertheless I think your question is a good one since the Westminster Divines would likely have considered the American revisions (and separation of church and state in general) to be indicative of an anabaptist tendency with regard to the church's status in society.
As has been noted, Kuyperians and especially neo-Kuyperians are going to reject the original WCF. Yet R2k men like D.G. Hart inveigh against Kuyperianism almost constantly.
Gordon H. Clark said the original WCF was too "Erastian" yet no one familiar with his writings on ethics and similar issues could credibly argue that he was R2k. (See A Christian View of Men and Things and the volume on ethics compiled by Robbins for more.) I think Clark (as well as his opponent Van Til) would reject R2k's Natural Law out of hand.
Clark was a huge influence on Carl F.H. Henry, whose most visible heirs are Al Mohler and Russell Moore, Baptists who speak in a prophetic role to the wider culture in a way that I've never seen R2kers do. But in my opinion this goes much too far when it involves things like signing the Manhattan Declaration, as some PCA men also did.
Francis Schaeffer is another obvious example, although he was basically a "loose subscriptionist" who even seemed to reject the RPW altogether.
At least some of the men at Old Princeton thought that Christianity should be taught in public schools, an idea that would be condemned by R2k as I understand it. Yet I don't think they would agree with the original WCF. (Whether they would have thought it "sinful" I can't say.)
Some theonomists would say that their position does not demand establishmentarianism. Those are just a few examples that immediately come to mind, although the later ones may not say the Original WCF is necessarily sinful.
Although I'm a Baptist, like Randy, I have some differences with R2k on some issues, but that seems to go beyond the scope of this thread. For those who are interested, see the earlier threads on Tullian (who appears to be significantly influenced by Dr. Horton,) the Frank Turk open letter to Mike Horton thread and maybe a few other recent threads for more.
O.K., so R2k would say the Christian is free to advocate Marxist economic policies.
Also, could you answer the question whether R2k "freedom" *excludes* holding opinions on the role of government based on theonomic principles.
I'm glad you put that in quotation marks (but did Clark?). The contention is odd and has to redefine things otherwise considering a Scottish Presbyterian establishmentarian wrote the definitive deathblow to Erastianism (Gillespie's Aaron's Rod Blossoming).
I don't think Clark put it in quotes. This was in his What Do Presbyterians Believe, but I don't have that book anymore to be able to look it up. He contrasted full blown Erastianism with the confessional view and then said that he thought the confession is still too Erastian in his opinion. I think he was simply signalling his disagreement with an established church, however imprecise his terminology was. It is basically a popular level book that I understand was written when he was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod. That body apparently subscribed to the original WCF since that's what he seems to interact with in his book. I'm not familiar enough with Clark to know whether or not he had much familiarity with the historical issue with regard to work like Gillespie's.
"Also, could you answer the question whether R2k "freedom" *excludes* holding opinions on the role of government based on theonomic principles."
No, it doesn't exclude it. We have not kicked out or persecuted theonomists in our churches for their faulty view of the Bible.
So theonomists, economic Marxists, and R2k folk can freely advocate their positions under R2k's "liberty principle", even if R2k folk believe those others have a "faulty view" of the Bible.
So if I may flesh out this R2k "liberty" a bit more, are professing Christians free to advocate Gay Marriage Laws or Pro-Abortion Laws-- even if the R2k fellow thinks those ideas arise from a "faulty view" of the Bible?
"So theonomists, economic Marxists, and R2k folk can freely advocate their positions under R2k's "liberty principle", even if R2k folk believe those others have a "faulty view" of the Bible. "
Unless your churches only allow theonomists as members, this is true of all sides of the debate.
"So if I may flesh out this R2k "liberty" a bit more, are professing Christians free to advocate Gay Marriage Laws or Pro-Abortion Laws-- even if the R2k fellow thinks those ideas arise from a "faulty view" of the Bible?"
It depends what you mean by freely advocate. We have members who still struggle with infant baptism; they are allowed to express their struggle or position. But if their goal is to cause division or contention by advocating their positions the session would step in. Same for these other areas.
Sounds like an over-realised eschatology with regard to government. We not yet in an age where we can be unconcerned about civil government. We have also to remember that the future age has "invaded" this age, and is able to influence civic ethics for the good, depending on the level of development of the church within a nation.
Also there may be some disagreement among Christians on these matters - depending on the developmental stage of the church within a nation only certain things are possible - but shouldn't reformed scholars be working on the proper and biblical approach to these things. E.g. Do you believe a la the Confession that there is a general moral equity in the law of Moses which can inform regenerate and Reformed thinking on civic ethics or is this whole area just a free-for-all with no Christian rhyme nor reason?
Are there no basic biblical or natural law parameters of civic ethics in R2K thinking, or is it just an abandonment of thinking on civic ethics?
If we assume the church member's intent is not to divide the church, but rather to pass laws in the civil sphere to sanction homosexual marriage and abort as many babies as women may see fit, the session could not step in under the R2k "liberty" principle?