Heidelcast May 2, 2010 Jason Stellman on the FV, PNW, Relevance, and the 2K

Discussion in 'Federal Vision/New Perspectives' started by R. Scott Clark, May 2, 2010.

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  1. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Joining me on the Heidelcast this week is my good friend the Rev. Mr Jason Stellman, pastor of Exile Presbyterian Church (PCA) in the Seattle metro. Jason is author of Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and Not Yet and proprietor of the widely read blog creedcodecult.com

    Jason Stellman on “Relevance” and the Two Kingdoms
  2. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    If the topic of the radio broadcast is appropriate for another forum, please move this.

    My post here is not on the 'federal vision' part of the interview, but the latter part which seems to be about "two kingdoms."

    Realizing this area seems to have a life of its own, and its own terminology (e.g. "R2K" and "2k"), it might be helpful to have a bit more understanding of this so it could benefit a wider audience.

    When listening to the discussion, which appears to be interrupted mid way, Mr. Stellman has been talking about what "two kingdoms" means as opposed to theocracy and theonomy. I'm not sure many would see those clearly in contrast to one another, but it seems the way two kingdoms is discussed:

    It almost sounds like Christians are not in any sense "extending the Kingdom of God" to anything outside of the visible church. As if we are only to suffer and learn our lessons here in humiliation while awaiting our Lord's Return. Granted, suffering and humiliation are part of dying to sin, glorifying God, things He uses to work other things, etc.

    But is R2K being taken to mean:

    1) No speaking out of the church on moral issues (e.g. abortion)
    2) Not trying to change culture and laws toward what is more pleasing to God (knowing it will not be completed until He comes)

    I've always thought of reformed theology as embodying a notion of "separatism" in the sense of from sin, and being absorbed by the sinful process of this world, but yet tilting toward TRANSFORMATION, in the sense of the kingdoms of this world becoming the kingdom of our God, now and forever.

    That is, that Christians are involved in every sphere of life, and God using them in many ways to change things toward redemption, for His Honor and His Glory.

    I'm probably not getting the full scope of the discussion here, and am not arguing the point, only trying to understand how this is being presented.

    It obviously is a passionate issue, maybe we can shed some light, not heat on it here.
  3. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    Try the download/feed/itunes feed again.

    We spent a good bit of time discussing the very issue of whether the Lordship of Christ pertains to every square inch and how it does so. I asked him that exact question. You should hear his answer.
  4. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Actually, I did listen through to where the discussion cuts off at 44:21.

    It is beginning about 23:30, that part.

    Listening again, it almost sounds like the "redemptive" part of the kingdom does not extend redemption or God's Kingdom to any other "realm" at all.

    I'm not sure we would call it theocracy to believe the redemptive aspect has effect on everything, including the culture.

    And it would seem better to describe Mr. Calvin's practice and effect around Geneva as having a practical effect, at least, of changing it, toward the better.

    It's almost as if this implies we don't expect common grace or Christian influence to do anything out of the immediate bounds of the church.

    Perhaps I'm not understanding this part of the discussion... but that's how it sounds.:)
  5. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior


    Your hearing is just fine. As you surmised, the interview does not adequately address the points you raise in your first post. What the interview does demonstrate, however, is that:

    1. R2k proponents either do not listen very well to their critics or they are being willfully obtuse.

    2. A Q&A session between two persons who hold the same theology cannot satisfactorily elucidate whether their shared theology is "radical".
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner


    Just for information for the many trying to understand this.

    I notice you are in the same denomination, a good one, as Mr. Clark.

    Do you have a sense about what is the predominate view in the denomination?
  7. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Without burdening you with geographic breakdowns, in the main I do not believe that Dr. Clark's R2k is the predominant one in our federation. I believe the federation has a balance Reformed worldview of grace reforming nature, special revelation as normative for the civil realm, and the church's role in proclaiming the full counsel of God to all men, including the magistrate.
  8. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    1. We discussed Ursinus' distinction between the KOG defined broadly, which includes everything and the KOG defined narrowly which is manifested institutionally in the church.

    There's a HC broadcast on this topic here:


    I found Ursinus' discussion very helpful.

    2. A lot of this discussion comes down to definitions. If the KOG is defined as God's eschatological rule and reign then we're speaking in Ursinus' broad category (under HC Q. 123). If, however, we're talking about God's redemptive activity in the world, then we're talking about the manifestation of the KOG in the church, or the KOG in the narrow sense.

    Strictly speaking, only humans are sinners and only they need to be "redeemed." I don't know off the top of my head where Scripture speaks of us "redeeming" anything and I think only sinners are redeemed.

    If everything is under Christ's lordship/dominion under his general providence, i.e., the KOG broadly considered, then nothing needs to be "redeemed" since it is already under his dominion.

    We could ask whether everything needs to acknowledge his dominion. Sure, everything and everyone should but is that "redeeming" (being purchased by Christ's obedience and death)? No, not really.

    You should read Dave VanDrunen's latest book on before you make up your mind about the two kingdoms analysis.

    I've posted a lot of resources on this topic:

    New on the WHI: VanDrunen on the Two Kingdoms

    Natural Law and Two Kingdoms in Stereo (Updated)

    Once More: Resources on the Two Kingdoms

    There's no question whether Christians and the Christian faith makes a difference in society. That's not in doubt. The question is what the institutional church as such ought to do, what it's primary vocation is.
  9. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Thanks very much, Dr. Clark.

    A few thoughts about how this sounds are below:

    Yes, believers don't actually redeem, but God doesn't God use them by them applying His Word and His ways in all situations and circumstances He appoints for them?

    Isn't there an "already but not yet" aspect to this- redemption goes all the way future to the point, in the future when we receive glorified bodies... and when Christ (future) returns as judge?

    But doesn't Christ, in a sense, make all good that happens to all men, at all times possible?

    Thanks for the resources.

    Isn't it an ordinary incident of the lives of Christians to be used of God to bring redemption, and in that sense extend the Kingdom of God, everywhere they go.... even outside the bounds of the visible church?
  10. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    One of my concerns about the broader use of "redeem" is that it isn't biblical. Indeed, it is the way the old liberals used to use biblical language. It takes a very important biblical metaphor (i.e., buying back out of slavery) for salvation and applies it to things that don't need to be "saved." In the process it waters down the very notion of salvation by applying it indiscriminately. It's a form of allegorizing.

    Second, it's a mistake to speak about "saving" or "redeeming" things that are a part of common life. Kuyper had two aspects to his program, to identify that which was "common" (Gemene) and that which is not (i.e., the antithesis between belief and unbelief). The latter exists at the epistemic level. Christians and non-Christians don't interpret the world in the same way. The heavens declare the glory of God. We see that. We acknowledge that but the pagan seeks to suppress that truth in unbelief. Nevertheless, we do have things in common. This is the supposition of Belgic Art 35 when it speaks of common food. There is genuine commonality. If we deny that we run the risk of gnostic dualism. This is where the language of "redeeming x" is problematic. It seems to imply an ontological problem where there is and can be none. If you'll check out the links to the HB where I've discussed this at length you'll see that I like to talk about plumbing. That is an activity that is the same whether it is done by Christians or non-Christians. We don't need to "redeem" plumbing. Christian plumbers need to fulfill their honorable vocations before God according to his Word to his glory but they don't need to "take back" plumbing. It's part of God's general providence. Any good plumber can tell you the basic laws of physics that apply to plumbing. Any plumber who defies those laws will discover it doesn't work or pay! The work of the Christian and non-Christian plumber will, if they are both skilled, be largely indistinguishable. There's nothing "sinful" about plumbing such that it needs to be "redeemed." The plumber needs to be redeemed, if he has not repented and trusted the Savior.

    A third reason this way of speaking is problematic is that it seeks to make the faith significant through cultural transformation. Again, I see no evidence of any program of cultural transformation in the NT. The only cultural transformation I see under Moses and David is holy war against unbelief. In the NT, that holy war is transformed into the great commission but that is a churchly ministry of the preaching of the gospel, the administration of sacraments, and the administration of discipline.

    Christians must live as Christians, according to God's abiding moral law, in every sphere of life, whether ecclesiastical or in their daily vocation. The question is not the sovereignty of God but sphere in which one lives. Whether we speak of 2 kingdoms (as that radical John Calvin did) or two spheres (borrowing from Kuyper) we have to distinguish how God's sovereignty and kingdom apply.

    I am always a citizen of the kingdom but just because I'm plumbing doesn't make my plumbing kingdom labor, not in the narrow sense. When I travel abroad I am an American and informally a representative of the USA but I am not an ambassador and my being abroad doesn't make where ever I am "America." There are, however, designated spaces of American national sovereignty where I am: the American Embassy/consulate. The visible church is like those embassies. They are official representations of the KOG (narrowly defined) in foreign territory. We are always citizens of heaven (Phil 3:20) but we are not in heaven now.
  11. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Every time a Christian pulls a weed he is in the process of bringing back fallen nature into it's pristine state.

    When the FV is countered in a way that the FV is lumped together with a theonomistic or related world view all that's achieved is to make the FV seem more attractive. I'm personally grateful for the work you've done on the FV but the last broadcast of yours I listened to (and I complimented you and thanked you for it here) you bashed theonomy. I posted the link to the broadcast on another Reformed, anti FV board and a very solid woman who had asked for resources about the FV said

    I find myself not even wanting to listen to this new one. Please accept this as constructive criticism rather than a rant!
  12. Tim

    Tim Puritan Board Graduate

    I listened to this podcast and other relevant material and I can't see how this can be incorrect (i.e., I agree with Scott1's point).

    Perhaps I am missing something, but I can't see how "cultural transformation" cannot happen with Christianity. If I, a person who is part of a given culture, become a Christian and seek to order my life according to God's Word, how is culture not changing with respect to my small but real part of that culture? This links up with Scott1's point above. My thought is that cultural transformation cannot help but "spill out" of the kingdom of God/formal ecclesiastical sphere into all areas of earthly life.

    My level of understanding of this issue is not as sophisticated as those who have posted above, but I hope that someone might respond to what I have written.

    ---------- Post added at 11:22 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:18 AM ----------

    The other thing is if the church as a Biblically organized institution speaks/preaches Truth to people who, by the universal nature of the Gospel, come from all areas of earthly life, is the church not in effect speaking to the "other kingdom", since those to whom the message is given effect the "other kingdom" as part of their worldly endeavors.

    But, on the other hand, has the proclamation by that time become "non-official"?
  13. CatechumenPatrick

    CatechumenPatrick Puritan Board Freshman

    Nature is fallen? The physical world shares in the sufferings of the fall, but do we really want to say nature itself is fallen? And even if it is, or if we define "fallen" and "nature" in such a way as to make biblical sense of the statement, no amount of human work will bring it "back to its pristine state." That does not mean we don't improve the world and glorify God by vocational labor and work (as every R2K theologian will agree), but we don't transition into the new heavens and new earth and final glorification one weed at a time, we receive them at the consummation. Am I misunderstanding your complaints against R2K?
  14. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    If there was a time in history past and will be a time in the future where a lion will eat grass nature is fallen. How could it be otherwise? When God cursed the ground was that a good thing for nature? In the Garden did rhinos get anthracnose?
  15. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I think I understand your point, we certainly don't want to allegorize redemption- it is a real thing.

    But it's not as if believers are doing the redeeming, really. God alone can save, but He has also chosen to use ordinary means to accomplish that. He has chosen to use the preaching of the gospel as a way to do that. He has chosen, ordinarily, to use people in relationship to do that (accepting of course He is not limited in any way to any means).

    That fact that God "redeems" people by saving them from sin can be distinguished toward bringing help, healing, and truth to dark and broken situations and circumstances. That, too, is a form of redemption. It's not that of regeneration and faith, but it is a form of redeeming that God would use to further His Kingdom, which is over everything.

    As I understand it, Mr. Calvin summarized three uses of the law:

    1) to point people to their need for Christ
    2) to restrain evil
    3) as a "mirror" of what the Christian life ought look like

    It would seem to me all three of these can apply toward unbelievers. Pointing them toward Christ, say through work testimony as plumbers as you mention. Restraining evil so that all may live peaceable and godly lives- everyone benefits from this. As a mirror of life when people "love their neighbor as thyself" makes everything better for everyone.

    I think of the story of a violent border town overrun by drunkenness, fighting, gambling, prostitution, idleness. A few Christians moved in, got involved, even in the local politics(!) and over time, the public drunkenness and all that went with it got cleaned up. It began to attract people, jobs were created. Someone found they could grow crops and amazingly (providentially) crops grew amazingly well, larger and healthier than anywhere else nearby.
  16. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    RE: cultural transformation in the NT.

    It seems to me that if this is truly not an issue, as the advocates of R2K claim, then Demetrius the silversmith and his friends in Acts 19 had nothing to rally about. Their livelihood was not in any genuine danger. The temple of Diana was in not in jeopardy. Principled pluralism was apparently the message of Paul and his companions. The merchants would surely have realized that the gospel that Paul preached was merely for the church. He never intended to transform the culture of that city.

    Indeed, can’t we go to Ephesus today and marvel at the temple where Diana’s worshippers still buy little idols and worship her image?
  17. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    I'd clarify the 3 uses of the law as:

    First, to show man his sin and drive him to Christ
    Second, the civil use, including the restraint of evil and promotion of good.
    Third, our rule for grateful Christian living.

    R2k relies heavily on the first use, de-emphasizes the third, and has little use for the second.
  18. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    I'll interact with how the reasoning sounds, below to follow the train of thought:

  19. CatechumenPatrick

    CatechumenPatrick Puritan Board Freshman

    Might we not say that nature is cursed and suffers the consequences of the fall, but is not fallen? Being fallen seems to be a state satisfiable by moral agents only, and maybe animals included to a lesser extent. But do we or can we really say the weeds are "fallen" (which seems to entail, "the weeds are evil" and likewise for all other physical objects)?

    Also, RE: scott,

    It is significant that all of your counter-examples or qualifications to prof. Clark's comments involve what human moral agents bring to a vocation, and for that reason seem to fail to discredit any R2K applications. The proponent of R2K will of course want to say non-Christians (and Christians, in fact far too often!) bring many sins to a vocation. Any task can be done with godly intentions, with godly virtues, and with godly consequences, and those can all come apart--but that says nothing about whether, say, there is a distinctly Christin way of plumbing, or whether plumbing as a possible set of actions, materials, and institutions is inherently in need of redemption in the way human wills are. Also, the R2K proponent will likely accept all your qualifications, but note (what's usually the heart of the matter), that there is a difference between what the Christian as a plumber does, and what the church as an organization does. The church doesn't send lobbyists to uphold the status of quality plumbing, but individual or separate groups of Christians might do so Monday morning. No?
    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  20. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    I think the distinction made by Dooyweerdian thought might be helpful here, note: I do not agree with everything he said but only somethings (I do not agree with their view of Scripture or the conffessions, on both those issues I affirm the orthodox reformed view). There is the creational aspect of say something like Culture, with a capital "C", and the particuler direction and development culture1 has taken, labled by "culture1". Culture as a creational aspect is good but the certian developments and direction taken, in ageneral sense, in culture1 may not be good, seculerism as a anti-religous philosophy is an example. This was the same sort of distinction that Kuyper made and Dooyweerd expanded on it (although I could be wrong about Kuyper being that I got this from a Dooyweerdian).

    So plummbing is a good vocation within the creational realm but if all plumbing unions in the U.S.A. got together and decided to cheat their customer's and only hire people who agreed with them than that would be a sinful direction taken by the majority of plumbers. But that says nothing about whether or not plumbing is a good thing or not.

    So to me the question of Christ and Culture comes in at the culture1 level and not the deeper, good creational Culture level. At the culture1 level there are many different opinions on what the realtionship should be but we can all agree on the Culture level. Also Christ is Lord of both so we can rest assured His will will be done. I am a pratical theonomist but I don't see any reason why everyone should agree with me and why stronger views of the 2K aproech cannot be legitmate points of views. Except for radical theonomy, FV, and radical withdrawing from Culture completly schools of thought of course. If you ask me the Church needs all of the different opinions to function right.
  21. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    On this logic, then, when a weed grows back is it another fall?

    Have you ever dealt with Bermuda grass?
  22. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Kind of like a guy who struggles with a particular sin needing to repent of it again?

    Yes, more than you, or anyone you know. It takes more work than digger pines or bears, but it can be beaten. I've defeated it on two different continents. Like the guy who defeats p&rn or gambling, but who doesn't assume no other guy in history will struggle with those sins.
  23. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior


    The plumber is not called to pray with his customer. He may, if the customer is willing, but neither that example nor the example of Demetrius is really what is in view when people say "cultural transformation."

    Responding to the example of Demetrius, it's true that there aren't any temples to Diana but there are hardly any churches in Asia Minor today! One of our grads is busy planting churches among Muslims in Turkey -- pray for him -- but his goal is not to "redeem" plumbing.

    This needs to be thought through very carefully.

    Is there any clear, biblical warrant for speaking of Christian engagement in cultural pursuits as "redeeming"?

    Are those cultural pursuits (as distinct from overtly Christian acts of worship and piety) in need of "redeeming" or "cleansing"? Are they dirty?

    If we think that they are dirty, haven't we given in to a kind of dualism that we say we reject? What happened to the goodness of creation? We're not Manicheans. We don't think the human problem is ontological, do we?

    I understand that pietist world-flight is a genuine problem but let us not make the response/reaction to world flight as bad as the problem.

    Maybe there is a reason why the Protestants spoke about "vocation" and not about "redeeming" cultural or "common" pursuits (see definition of "common" above).
  24. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Of course there is a difference between what a Christian as plumber does and what the church as an organization does... I don't think that addresses anything we are talking about, though.

    And yes, the church doesn't send lobbyists for better quality plumbers... it sends Christians who have a skill of plumbing.

    But what is sent is not merely a skill... it is a person. A person redeemed by God with the Word of God tucked in His heart, the Holy Spirit resident in Him- what happens is not just the skill of plumbing. There is a lot more going on in that.

    ---------- Post added at 08:04 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:50 PM ----------

    Last edited: May 4, 2010
  25. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Not really. One is indwelling sin and hopefully growing in sanctification. The other, well, you know Tim. BTW, I think your illustration about pulling weeds is out there Tim. Man is redeemable and a new Creation. The creation will only be recreated. It didn't sin and doesn't need redeeming.

    And another side note. Cleansing and Redeeming are not necessarily the same thing. I hope you guys take baths. Everytime someone takes a bath and cleanses are they redeeming something?
    Last edited: May 5, 2010
  26. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I hope that his goal is to see the redemption purchased by Christ applied to men through the Spirit blessing the appointed means. According to Titus 2:14, that redemption purifies to Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Hence plumbers will be expected to produce good works in their occupation as a product of the redemption purchased by Christ. It may even be hoped that the man's zeal to do good in his occupation leads to moral reformation of business practice. At that point we may say that the redemption of Christ has produced good effects in the plumbing industry. No, the industry has not been redeemed. It is doubtful whether anyone intended to literally claim that it could. But it should be a part of the Christian minister's message that redemption produces good works and moral reformation in this world.
  27. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Amen Rev. Winzer!
  28. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. " (Isa. 65:17, cf. Isa. 66:22; 2 Peter 2:13; Rev. 21:1)

    Given such language, how can it be said that the redemption of creation is merely a “recreation” as opposed to a new creation? Both man and his surroundings will be recognizable for what they were before. Christ came to set in motion the redemption of His creation. It is not simply “on hold” until He comes again.

    While creation did not sin, creation was affected by the sin of the federal head, the first Adam, and thus is in need of redemption by the work of the last Adam.
  29. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Okay, I don't have a lot of time here. But when I became a new creation in Christ my body was not changed nor totally destroyed and reinvented. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:17.

    Was this an annihilation of the body? I think not. What body are you suppose to be resurrected in? Well let's look at JOB.

    Yes, Creation groans and hates the result of our sin. But it is still God's creation. It will be revamped and renewed. It didn't need to be redeemed. Man did. It only needs restoration. Just my humble opinion.
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