"Old Reformed" views and "Escondido 2K" views of politics

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by darrellmaurina, Aug 9, 2012.

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  1. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Matt Tuininga, who is the son of one of the founders of the United Reformed Churches in North America and is currently doing his doctoral dissertation at Emory University on John Calvin's political views, has put up an interesting post here on how what he calls "Old Reformed" theology differs from the Escondido Two Kingdoms theology:

    "Yes, the two kingdoms doctrine affirms Christ’s lordship – and the authority of Scripture – over the State: But what does that mean?"

    Yes, the two kingdoms doctrine affirms Christ’s lordship – and the authority of Scripture – over the State: But what does that mean? « Christian in America

    My response is here:

    Yes, the two kingdoms doctrine affirms Christ’s lordship – and the authority of Scripture – over the State: But what does that mean? « Christian in America

    First off, I believe Matt has done the whole "Two Kingdoms" debate an important service by coining the term "Old Reformed" to describe those of us who differ from the Escondido 2K or R2K position. We need terms we can agree on and which fairly describe the difference.

    I'm comfortable calling myself "Old Reformed," and since both Matt Tuininga and Dr. R. Scott Clark of Westminster-West both seem to agree that older Reformed leaders in the 1500s and 1600s held views of politics which they do not hold, perhaps we now can agree to acceptable terms which define ourselves in this debate. My view is not identical to that of the earliest Reformers, but I do believe it is a line of consistent doctrinal development which includes the practices of the Dutch burghers with William of Orange, the views of Oliver Cromwell, the views of Abraham Kuyper, and the views of modern Reformed leaders who focused on political engagement such as Francis Schaeffer and D. James Kennedy.

    Matt has also raised an important issue. In his words: "One of the most prevalent assumptions about the two kingdoms doctrine that frequently leads individuals to criticize or reject it is that the two kingdoms doctrine teaches that the state is not under the lordship of Christ or under the authority of Scripture. This is a terrible assumption, and it is a testimony either to the failure of two kingdoms advocates clearly to communicate their position or to the slanderous way in which that position has been caricatured by some of its opponents (or perhaps a bit of both?). I’ll let you decide."

    I've posted my response to him at the end of this note, with some editing and additions to make sense in a different context. For now, the key thing to point out is that we need to try to understand each other. There are major issues at stake, they have major consequences for the life of our churches and our country, and we need to be clear about our differences.

    Clarity is not helped by slandering each other's positions, or by the actions of extremist radicals who do not fairly represent the views of the leaders of either side in this debate.

    I am deliberately using the terms "Escondido 2K" and "R2K" to hold open at least the possibility that there is a difference. I think the Escondido 2K people need to do a lot more work to address Matt's quite legitimate concern that the "Two Kingdoms" people have a PR problem. When we have Radical Two Kingdoms or R2K people claiming a Reformed case can be made for gay marriage, something needs to be done to drive such arguments out of conservative Reformed circles.

    Darrell Todd Maurina

    Matt, this is a helpful post for at least two different reasons.

    One is that some of the people in the “Two Kingdoms” camp have **CLEARLY** given the impression to many of us in what you call the “Old Reformed” wing of the church that your group believes that the civil magistrate’s actions are not to be governed by Scripture, but rather by appeal to some vague and undefined principles of general revelation. You may tell me that is not what you said or meant, and you may well be right, but speaking as someone who is **NOT** trying to deliberately slander the Two Kingdoms people, some of what I read from Two Kingdoms advocates on the internet curls my toes. I know we need to judge a movement by the theology of its leaders, not its radicals, but you’ve got a real problem with wild-eyed radicals saying stuff that makes your entire group look bad, and your leaders need to write more to distance yourselves from the radicals.

    I am both surprised and pleased to see an explicit Two Kingdoms advocate like yourself affirm Psalm 2. If more “Two Kingdoms” people were saying what you say in this post, maybe some of us who object strongly to the Two Kingdoms position would decide we still have enough in common that we can carry on a civil conversation.

    A second is that you appear to acknowledge that the “Old Reformed” position is historically a legitimate understanding of what it means to be Reformed, while explicitly affirming that in some ways you are deviating from it, and that you believe most of the modern Reformed world has also deviated from it.

    I’m not sure if you’ve coined the word “Old Reformed” in this context, but if you did, I hope it gets picked up by others. I find that term helpful. There **ARE** important differences between the “R2K” or “Escondido 2K” position and what you’re calling the “Old Reformed” position, and we need to come up with mutually acceptable terms that describe those two positions. I’m comfortable with calling myself “Old Reformed” if you’re comfortable with calling yourself “Escondido 2K.”

    Though I don’t think he uses the term “Old Reformed,” I saw a similar concept in Dr. R. Scott Clark’s writings in which he said the early Reformers were theocratic but not theonomist — a point on which I agree with him, by the way — while acknowledging that he and other modern Reformed people have deviated from older Reformed views on civil government.

    I think this is an important point that both sides of the debate need to grant. Modern American Reformed positions are **NOT** those of the 1500s and 1600s on politics; virtually none of us, for example, want to prohibit Roman Catholics from voting or from holding civil office under the American Constitution. On the contrary, many if not most of the most politically aggressive Calvinists are happy to work with Roman Catholics in the pro-life movement, at least as a short-term step toward a longer-term vision of a Christian America. We also need to deal with the practical reality that while Reformed Christians are considerably more influential in Christian conservative political movements than our numbers would warrant, largely because of our emphasis on rigorous theological justification for our actions, the rank-and-file of the modern Christian conservative political movement is broadly evangelical and Roman Catholic.

    How are we, as consistent Calvinists, going to deal with working hand-in-hand with people who believe things our confessions strongly reject?

    We have changed, and if I can borrow a concept from John Henry Cardinal Newman, we need to show that the change is a consistent development of doctrine or we need to explain why we have deviated from what our forefathers believed by showing through good and necessary consequence why their principles were self-contradictory and could not be maintained without emendation.

    Matt, I know that asking “what would Calvin do” is begging the question since your doctoral dissertation seeks to prove that John Calvin held a form of “Two Kingdoms” theology, so let’s leave that question alone, at least until you’re done with your dissertation.

    However, can all sides of this debate at least acknowledge that a straightforward reading of the biographies and writings of John Knox and Oliver Cromwell would not logically lead us to believe they would be invited as speakers in a conference dedicated to supporting the Escondido 2K theology? Westminster-West simply cannot claim that it stands in the line of the older Reformed views of politics represented by the Scottish and English Puritans.

    I'm not sure the same can be said with regard to Francis Schaeffer and D. James Kennedy, though even there qualifications need to be made.

    I think Cromwell might like me a fair amount because of my views on political pluralism within evangelical bounds, but Knox might throw me in jail for what he might consider Anabaptist political leanings if I showed up in Scotland, or at least throw me out of the country and tell me to go over to the Netherlands where their loose views of civil toleration allowed Barrowists to have independent churches outside the Dutch Reformed synodical system.

    I realize that Dr. Clark grounds his deviation from older Reformed views in the American revisions to the Westminster Confession, and points to similar revisions in the Belgic Confession made by Kuyper and his followers. I don’t happen to agree with him on that point at all. I do not believe those confessional revisions lead to Escondido 2K views, though they probably do lead to views which are more in accord with Cromwell, Kuyper, Schaeffer and Kennedy than those of Knox.

    However, I certainly do agree that ecclesiastical pluralism in North America has led to changes in Reformed political theology. Where I disagree, I think, with both you and Dr. Clark is whether those changes are good. If it’s true that “we can think ourselves into new ways of behaving or behave ourselves into new ways of thinking,” perhaps we ought to go back and example what you call the “Old Reformed” political arguments to see whether they were bad theology or simply inconvenient and uncomfortable.

    I realize we are far apart in a lot of areas, and definitions need to be worked out since I’m still not convinced we’re using words in the same way, but what you say here is a good start.

    Now on the broader issue, I speak only for myself here, but I think my words would be affirmed by a lot of other people when I say that the Two Kingdoms theologians have a major “PR” problem. Your group — not necessarily you personally, but the group — gives the impression that you believe in appealing not to Scripture but to some vague and undefined “natural law” concept when it comes to ruling the state.

    Your group also seems to have a serious animosity toward Christians who believe in political engagement, an animosity which seems to have two roots: one, a historical reaction at Westminster-West against the influence of theonomy in Reformed circles in Southern California, and two, a concern that modern evangelicalism is in danger of losing its way by substituting a political agenda for the gospel. (The “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” concept being advocated by Chuck Colson, et al., is only one example of those issues; much cruder co-optings of the gospel by politics could be cited from evangelical leaders who are much less careful thinkers than Colson.)

    I have major sympathy for both of those concerns by Escondido Two Kingdoms people.

    My response is to follow Abraham Kuyper’s theological position of supporting work with Roman Catholics in the civil sphere while maintaining a strong emphasis on confessional integrity within the church sphere. Romans 13 defines the primary task of the civil magistrate, and there can be much greater room for toleration in the civil government than in church government.

    I believe Kuyper’s view of sphere sovereignty — that the confessions govern the church, but we can cooperate with others in the sphere of the civil magistrate who don’t affirm the confessions but do affirm a Romans 13 view of civil government — is a consistent development of the same core doctrine of political engagement held by the Dutch Reformed, who were willing to work with William of Orange despite problems with personal morality and a less-than-consistent confessional stance,

    I think it is also consistent with the views of Oliver Cromwell and other Puritans who understood that Calvinist Anglicans like Archbishop Ussher, the Presbyterian majority of Puritanism and Parliament, and the Congregational and Independent minority which dominated the New Model Army, were all agreed on the core of Calvinist orthodoxy but could never work together in the same church. Cromwell, unlike Knox but like the Dutch burghers who threw off the yoke of Spain, believed in a certain amount of ecclesiastical pluralism and political pluralism.

    I can live with the viewpoints of William of Orange, of Oliver Cromwell, and of Abraham Kuyper on civil government, all of which I believe are fundamentally consistent with each other and proceed from a similar basic principle which is close but not identical to that of Knox. I think those are valid developments of Reformed political doctrine. I think with some additional research I could say more about how the Plymouth Bay Colony had a level of toleration which would be quite compatible with the views of Francis Schaeffer and D. James Kennedy, but I don’t want to post things on the internet that I can’t back up with citations. My memory of things I read thirty years ago is not something I want to trust on something this important.

    What I can’t live with is the idea that civil government is to look to general revelation rather than special revelation for its rules. There are radicals in Escondido 2K circles who hold views which are (or at least ought to be) a public embarrassment for conservative Reformed thinkers. Time will tell whether those radicals are consistent with the core theology of Escondido 2K or if they are taking the E2K theology into places where it not only need not but also should not logically go.
  2. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    You've got Reformed people taking up unbiblical extremes from theonomy to R2K, instead of getting some kind of biblical balance. Maybe this is because the Reformed Church in America has never experienced establishmentarianism.

    There maybe needs to be more study of church establishments, their successes and failures, pros and cons, to understand how Reformed political theology and ethics has worked out in practice, and how it can be improved.

    This would bridge the gap between theonomic, R2K or establishmentarian ideals, and what happens when those ideals are applied in the real world.

    Without such historical study there is a major vacuum in practical understanding and wisdom. Politics is still the art of the possible even if you have great and high ideals as to what you would ultimately like to see. It's particularly the art of the possible in the case of Christianity which ultimately works through the persuasion of individuals in large enough numbers to influence politics.

    There are aspects of special revelation that need careful interpretation, as we see from the theonomy debate. E.g. the Mosaic death penalty was to a large extent typologically bound, being related to the sacrificial system, and serving to teach the Israelites about God's wrath.

    When a church in any nation is in the spiritual doldrums these things are less important in the sense that political progress may be slow or non-existent, but when the Spirit begins to move in a big way then it's good to have prepared the sails of our political theology and ethics for a better result :2cents:
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  3. AlexanderHenderson1647

    AlexanderHenderson1647 Puritan Board Freshman

    Well said and worth more than 2c :)
  4. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe they aren't an Old New School. What a confusing title. It sounds like Neo Orthodox.

    I did understand the title of Old New School meaning that they were a New School that lined up with the Old teaching. But... I termed them as Modern Reformed Thought. It doesn't appear to be Westminsterian to me. Maybe it is but the WCF seems to deny some of their theological positions. For instance, Chapter 7.5,6 concerning the substance of the Old and Chapter23.1-3 concerning the role of the Christian and Civil magistrate.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  5. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Senior


    Just a couple of points so that we keep everything straight here.

    First, the title of the book chronicling the history of WSC is not "Old New School," but "New Old School." I've not yet read the book, but have heard Scott's interview with Bob Godfrey and Darryl Hart and what they are saying is that WSC is a new (30 yrs. old) seminary, but one that comes from and teaches an Old School (Presbyterian) perspective. There's no suggestion of neo-orthodoxy or New School in this.

    And, secondly, you cite the original WCF. Here's the revised WCF (to which the OPC and PCA, for instance, subscribe) at 23.3:

    3. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

  6. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    If you have listened to Matthew discuss some of the things he is speaking about, he admits that he doesn't fully understand the Reformed Presbyterian position too well.

    I believe this booklet by Dr. Roy Blackwood does a good job explaining it and we hold to a One Kingdom view. We are not Liberal. We are Transformationalists as some might classify us. Some RPers use language that sounds like they might be using 2K language but you have to know what they mean by kingdom in reference to understanding the position.


    I respond a bit on his blog and to some of his assumptions on it here...
    Clarifying the relation of the two kingdoms doctrine to neo-Calvinism « Christian in America

    Matthew does give a lecture and it is linked to in the blog post above. I actually believe he isn't "way out there" as some of the proponents of the 2 Kingdom Natural Law guys are.

    I am having a very edifying discussion with him and I am learning a lot from him concerning what he understands.

    Another good discussion that is going on is located here. http://matthewtuininga.wordpress.co...oms-doctrine-what-about-the-law/#comment-1024

    Mark Van Der Molen has helped try to bring the discussion to better light with Matthew by helping us understand things with 27 agreed propositions.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  7. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks Dr. Strange. I appreciate the correction and reference. And of course I am an original kinda guy. LOL.

    I think I understood what they were saying and I think I expressed it. I just don't think they are Old School Presbyterian in some ways as I note that I call their thinking and doctrine Modern Reformed Thought. I have done that for over a year now.

    In the lingo of the late 90's...

    Peace Out Dr. LOL (BTW, had my kids said that to you I would have washed their mouths out for disrespect.)

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  8. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior


    This is probably the biggest thing I have issue with. A few passages come to mind:

    6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matt 7)


    6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

    “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
    what God has prepared for those who love him”—

    10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

    14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Cor 2)

    Before you can make such a statement as you have, you must understand the depravity of man. Your statement misunderstands the purpose and meaning of scripture. Are you seriously telling us that the "natural man" can understand the things of God? Is not the Law spiritual? Does not Paul tell us this in Romans 7? The government is there to protect the people, not carry out all of God's Law, for man, in their "natural" state, cannot submit themselves to God's Law. If they cannot not do so, how do you expect them to enforce God's Law?
  9. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    But true Christians are diffused throughout society and government, and the more true Christians there are in a nation the more this is the case.

    The moral law is also written on the heart of the natural man, so there is a point of contact there.

    The Holy Spirit by His common grace restrains the natural man from sin through the dissemination of the teaching of the law throughout society, through social disapproval of acts that contradict the law, and through the principles of God's law being enshrined in societal, political and legal norms. This is the Lutheran first use of the law, and the Reformed second use.

    The law is for everyone.

    Who says the government is to legislate all of God's law? Even the theonomists don't say this, and it would be impossible anyway e.g. sinful thoughts.

    Even our modern secular states in Great Britain and the US, successfully enforce parts of God's law.

    The moral law in Scripture is just natural law more clearly revealed to sinners who suppress natural law.

    What is possible politically and legally, with regard to getting Christian - or natural law - standards enshrined in law, depends on the size and strength of Christian leaven in the national dough.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  10. Andrew P.C.

    Andrew P.C. Puritan Board Junior


    Thank you for your response.

    First, with the same passage you use, the last portion is of great importance:
    8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practise homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (I Tim 1:8-11, ESV)

    What's the purpose of the Law? To govern societies? or to point to their sinfulness?

    19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3)

    Don't get me wrong, I agree with you that the Law is written on man's heart. I agree with you that there is common grace where God suppresses unrighteousness (to certain degrees). However, there is a difference between natural law, and special revelation (they are not mutually exclusive). The issue I have is with special revelation being used by unbelievers for their own gain (which it is for their own gain). That would be "casting pearls before swine".
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Yes Andrew, those are purposes for the Law. It isn't the only two though. I think you understand that don't you? If it wasn't to govern Societies then Roman's 13 and the passages concerning the civil government wouldn't be applicable. And I disagree with that which you claim is casting pearls before the swine.

    BTW, you really ought to read the WCF Chapter 16.7, Romans 13, and Chapter 23 of the Confession from the 1647.

    Section VII.–Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both in themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.

    And yes, it does take Special Revelation as is written in the Word of God. The Decalogue is Specific and all men everywhere are commanded to hear it and do it. It is understandable and it does restrain sin, expose guilt, and guide in matters such as general equity.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  12. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    And in further answer to Andrew's question, the Reformed have always held to the second use of the Law, the usus civilis. For example:

    “But it is questioned whether the law pertains to the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual and distinct from all earthly dominion; and there are some men, not otherwise ill-disposed, to whom it appears that our condition under the Gospel is different from that of the ancient people under the law; not only because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but because Christ was unwilling that the beginnings of His kingdom should be aided by the sword. But, when human judges consecrate their work to the promotion of Christ’s kingdom, I deny that on that account its nature is changed. For, although it was Christ’s will that His Gospel should be proclaimed by His disciples in opposition to the power of the whole world, and He exposed them armed with the Word alone like sheep amongst the wolves, He did not impose on Himself an eternal law that He should never bring kings under His subjection, nor tame their violence, nor change them from being cruel persecutors into the patrons and guardians of His Church.”
    John Calvin
    Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses — p. 77.

    “Then let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”
    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5

    “They (the Anabaptists) will reply, possibly, that the civil government of the people of Israel was a figure of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ and lasted only until his coming, I will admit to them that in part, it was a figure, but I deny that it was nothing more than this, and not without reason. For in itself it was a political government, which is a requirement among all people. That such is the case, it is written of the Levitical priesthood that it had to come to an end and be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus (Heb. 7:12ff) Where is it written that the same is true of the external order? It is true that the scepter and government were to come from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, but that the government was to cease is manifestly contrary to Scripture.”
    John Calvin
    Treatise against the Anabaptists and against the Libertines, pp. 78-79

    “For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.”
    John Calvin

    The French Confession – John Calvin
    XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates,[1] so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors,[2] but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.

    on Psalm 2
    …without a doubt he is speaking of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. He admonishes all kings and authorities to be wise and to take heed to themselves. What is this wisdom? What is the lesson He gives them? To abdicate it all? Hardly! But to fear God and give homage to His Son…Furthermore, Isaiah prophesies that the kings will become the foster fathers of the Christian church and that queens will nurse it with their breasts (Isa. 49:23). I beg of you, how do you reconcile the fact that kings will be protectors of the Christian Church if their vocation is inconsistent with Christianity?
    Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Libertines, p. 79

    “It is our duty, as far as lies in our power, immediately to organize human society and all its institutions and organs upon a distinctively Christian basis. Indifference or impartiality here between the law of the kingdom and the law of the world, or of its prince, the devil, is utter treason to the King of Righteousness … The Bible, the great statute-book of the Kingdom, explicitly lays down principles which, when candidly applied, will regulate the action of every human being in all relations. There can be no compromise. The King said, with regard to all descriptions of moral agents in all spheres of activity, “He that is not with me is against me.” If the national life in general is organized upon non-Christian principles, the churches which are embraced within the universal assimilating power of that nation will not long be able to preserve their integrity.”
    ~ A. A. Hodge
  13. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor

    The church is at a low ebb when people profess to be Reformed but are, in fact, Libertines and Anabaptists on these points.
  14. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    The opening post claims "Escondido" R2kers leads to defense of gay marriage. Can I get a citation where this exists? And the context it's stated?

    I've always found it helpful to see R2kism as the belief the Christian call isn't to yoke a donkey and an ox together (in this case being the civil/temporal to the eternal reign of Christ). It doesn't mean my faith doesn't inform my ballot. It guides my votes. I would never vote for example for gay marriage, I don't know a single R2Ker who has used it to argue for such things.

    However there is ultimately no cause for me to try and make a nation laden with unbelievers ultimately embrace God's law in the civil realm. It's not an ultimate calling in my life. I just don't look for hope or even solutions in the civil/temporal. I think there is a reason why the saltless denominations such as the PCUSA deals so largely with "Social Justice" type issues these days. They dove into the waters of the temporal world far too deep.

    Ironically if you study history... the periods of the most robust Christianity is in periods of complete civil chaos and failure, and for example Mormonism which is predicated on wonderful/delightful citizenship.... well the state of Utah leads the nation in p0rn searches per person. Also Salt Lake City is in the top 4 cities in the country of marital infidelity, etc. Yet Mormonism of course does a great job disguising itself as a white sepulchre. They largely have come hand and hand with many "social causes" of socially driven denominations.

    My point... without the Gospel... the unregenerate are still unregenerate. The civil is still under the authority of God. I'm not worried for example when gay marriage ultimately becomes the law of the America's. As mentioned in Isaiah... this country is just a drop in the bucket when compared to God. But that doesn't mean I'll ever vote for it, or a reformed 2ker would argue to do so. It just means it's not going to surprise, vex, or motivate me to delve more into the civil to "save it" once and if it happens. I understand those who live in darkness prefer the darkness. The flavors of sin might slightly change during different political climates and seasons, but ultimately... it's still sinners working iniquity in darkness.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  15. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Both, according to the Reformers and Westminster Divines.

    The moral law contained in the Bible is the same as natural law written on men's hearts.

    The law is good for unbelievers and society in general if it keeps society from being as bad as it would be and is used to form good legislation. I don't really understand what you mean by this last point.

    I think you're assuming that Christ isn't King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and you're also assuming that civil power is always secular and can't be more or less Christianised.

    Of course there's plenty in Scripture about philosophically reconciling oneself to the dark days in which you live, and none of us should be surprised by homosexual "marriage", as our societies have already been e.g. murdering babies at a great rate, but I don't know why you're pitting preaching the Gospel against being salt and light in the "temporal" and civil realms.
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
  17. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    Well when Escondido R2kers like Horton and D.V.D. start advocating for homosexual marriage I'll have a serving of crow moment with you... but I wouldn't hold your breathe of it happening in this lifetime. I personally do not know David Van Drunen for example, but know 3 gentleman who are very close with him and I can assure you from everything I know it won't be happening any eon soon. Again back to the original question I asked... can anyone get a text out of escondido that actually states this... or is this guilty by personally deemed association?
  18. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    The first assumption has no logical basis for being made. It's actually my trust in the Lord being the King of King and the Lord of Lords that gives me full confidence in not getting too distraught on the social policy debate of the day. As for the second assumption. I agree I do believe civil power is always secular. That isn't to say a believer can not be brought to power, or a believer can not vote on policy. But yes essentially in cliff notes.. Civil/Secular... Believers/Zion. If RC Sproul for example was made President of the United States in November... he's just ruling over the secular realm with any policy decisions in Washington D.C. He's not binding anything in heaven. With public policy he can't change the number of elect or saved, etc.

    Social policy debates are not Gospel sharing moments. I've shared the Gospel far more in talking to people who have actually had an abortion then I ever have speaking as an activist against abortion in a political sense. In my post above I did not to my knowledge ever frame sharing the Gospel as fruitless. I just don't tie it to a debate on steam cell research.
  19. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    Question for those concerned about "R"2K:

    In what ways do you see this view as similar, if at all, to the "Spirituality of the Church" view of the old Southern presbyterians?

    I'm not asking this as a trap or with any hidden motive. It would simply help me to understand more of where the critics of "R"2k are coming from.

  20. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry for the delay in response. I generally understand the framework you presented. My brother who is a Covenant Seminary graduate essentially shares your view entirely.

    A quick question:
    Why is Paul silent (or better yet the Holy Spirit who is inspiring Paul's writings) on the widespread and common practice of society at large sexually assaulting boy and girl servants in Greece (and Rome) of his time. I know if I had an unregenerate neighbor doing sexual acts with a minor slave or not... I would first contact authorities and if the state failed to protect against the practice (which it did in Paul's time), I would be drastically tempted to take on vigilante justice in such a scenario. I mean we have ancient laws we've uncovered from the time period which cite how slaves were never allowed to deny the sexual advances of their master. This is the society of Paul.

    But I also offer the famous sermon by Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse who gave his own scenario of world controlled by Satan in his weekly sermon that was broadcast nationwide on CBS radio decades ago. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, p0rnography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached. Ironically he says this is a time period that so many American's believe was a "better time", and yet the seeds of this generation's new style of wickedness were planted during the very period of time his words were being preached.

    I don't think Barnhouse is far off at all. Look at Utah. They are leaders of just about every type of silent deviant sin you can have. Salt Lake was just named the top gay friendly city. As mentioned before they are #4 in marital infidelity, Utah as a state #1 in p0rn searches. This is legalism without the Gospel. This is a place that helped defeat prop 8 in California... and yet here is a link... gayest city in america -> And the gayest city in America is

    We live in a created universe that in every microsecond you, I, and unregenerate exist outside of hell is a mercy. The Lord's patience is nothing short of awesome. No matter what laws are currently being passed or repealed in D.C. This world will pass on. The last of the elect will be saved - the end will come, and for all of Satan's efforts... for all of man's most diabolical constructions... not one of those within the Lord's portion will have been lost. The Good Shepard loses no battles and secures his entire flock.
  21. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    You asked a question. I gave you an honest answer to that question. Neither Darrell nor I implied that DVD or Horton ever defended homosexual marriage. I never said that they were antinomian either. But this doctrine is antinomian and will lead others to be. We had a long discussion about this topic a while back where advocates of this teaching basically said it wasn't their responsibility to discipline positions of persons in their congregation for holding and advocating sinful positions in society.

    Now I want you to read the context in which you were first referring to.

    Notice the first line in the comment by Darrell above. Darrell does make a significant classification here. He is not necessarily impugning DVD, Horton, nor any of your friends necessarily. He is stating there is a problem and that there is a Radical side to this. So your concern has already been answered. I will try to find other examples of this craziness if you want it. But your first question was answered. Your reply to it was improper and you absolutely straw manned this situation by deviating the context. You did deviate the context.

    I am saddened that this happens because it is stuff like this that makes the emotional response so relevant and unnecessary in these discussions. It is this kind of thing that makes these kind of discussions hard to read for others who want to understand what is going on.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  22. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Most beautifully stated Joshua. :amen:
  23. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Does Romans 13 have any bearing on this discussion?
  24. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior


    Distinguishing it from "marriage", Horton has indicated he could affirm state sanctioned civil unions for homosexuals, even as he recognizes such relationships are contrary to God's will. You can read it here:

    Should We Oppose Same-Sex Marriage? - White Horse Inn Blog

    The point is that even if every one of the architects of R2k came out in opposition to homosexual marriage in the civil realm, they have no theological basis {the Word of God} upon which to ground their objection.

    In other words, they have constructed the platform {the dual ethic} for folks like Misty Irons to make the opposite case. They have no consistent basis to object to her argument.
  25. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    I apologize for my comments upsetting you and my intent was not to antagonize or frustrate you. The internet fails in terms of securing the emotional state of a person as they post. But I can assure you I am genuinely interested in this discussion. That being said I think bringing up Misty Irons was a reach. But I mean I've heard John Frame also state things on this issue I think are a reach, but that doesn't mean I carry a grudge against John Frame. I just disagree with him here, as I do you.

    I am genuinely sorry though for my response being off putting to you and I see how the words I wrote can be seen that way in retrospect.
  26. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    The dual ethic you are referring to is not extended to those within the believing body. So the Misty Irons mention that keeps happening here is something I think has gone too far. Horton and DVD would not say the eldership should remain mute on a member of the church like Misty Irons. They advocate for a greater shepherding approach initially in such cases. Not a heavy shot across the bow approach. It is an instructional approach rather than an aggressive approach.

    If the church doesn't do that you get into a situation in which what political issues does the church say are worthy of being removed from the body. I'm not talking about personal sin struggles. I'm talking purely on political lines. Horton, DVD, Escondido at large would have a completely different response in terms of active homosexuality within the church, or a member aborting a baby, etc. But in the voting booth... that's probably not territory the church should to be in, in a disciplinarian way... but just in an instructive way.

    The question is purely on the borders of church discipline and what happens if the church extends those borders... is it even beneficial? or is it a distraction?
  27. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    Also to quickly add a hypothetical....

    Would you support a member being removed from the church body if they allowed their homosexual child and their gay boyfriend over to their home on occasion for example? Where is your line? Now I might council that member it might be move loving and honoring to their child to stop associating with them while they are within that sin... but if they avoided that council? Is it now time to remove them from the flock? Again it seems clean and easy, but where is the border drawn? DVD and Horton, etc aren't arguing for antinomianism. They are just stating where they see the border at biblically.
  28. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    You totally just bypassed almost everything I tried to get you see. This discussion isn't so much about what I sensed but what the facts were. You implied that Darrell did something incorrect or wrong. I proved you to be out of line by allowing Darrell to speak in context. Now I hope you will address this issue. It isn't about me and how I feel. It is about how you distorted things and made an emotional appeal that was out of line.

    BTW, the Iron's case is reflective of what Klineanism has led to in my estimation by making a dichotomous view of the Mosaic Law and Gospel. It was the Iron's case back then and we are still discussing it now. It is bleeding over into the areas of life it should if it is lived out. Same problem then as it is now. It seems to me it is a radical misunderstanding of the Covenants and law and grace. It is as I term it Modern Reformed Thought and it isn't Westminsterian.

    After you deal with the first distortion you made I will move on to your other issues. That way things get dealt with in a rifled manner and not with a shotgun blast.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012
  29. KevinInReno

    KevinInReno Puritan Board Freshman

    This is his paragraph that led to my question:

    I am deliberately using the terms "Escondido 2K" and "R2K" to hold open at least the possibility that there is a difference. I think the Escondido 2K people need to do a lot more work to address Matt's quite legitimate concern that the "Two Kingdoms" people have a PR problem. When we have Radical Two Kingdoms or R2K people claiming a Reformed case can be made for gay marriage, something needs to be done to drive such arguments out of conservative Reformed circles.

    Now my question to him is due to the fact (from my perspective) that he is in a sense linking self proclaimed R2K people claiming a reformed case for gay marriage and stating Escondido needs to do a lot more work to address legitimate concerns for a PR problem. I see a connection made between escondido and the worst plausible argument for R2K in that paragraph.

    I mean that's in a sense doing the following, saying something to the equivalent of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis needs to further clarify their literature on Total Depravity because Rick Warren claims he also believes in total depravity and he really doesn't make an argument that sounds true to the position held by the reformed camp.

    Even my comparative seems somewhat mild to the link placed in this thread. I mean we are using Misty Iron's name in this thread like she's a biblical authority. An evangelical blogging woman who blogs that she's some uber-conservative.

    My point is let R2K live or die on it's best argument. Not on the argument made by blogging women with no pastoral training, doctorate training, etc. Not to mention someone with no biblical mandate to be presenting herself as an authority. I don't know many reformed people who would give her thoughts 2 seconds of consideration in an authoritative sense.

    I would rather the merits of R2K debate live and die with the arguments of those who back the perspective, have the seminary and scriptural training to aptly defend it, and the biblical legitimacy to state their case. John Frame has a legitimate voice in opposing it. Horton has a legitimate voice in supporting it. Misty Irons... or others who may claim to have shades of two kingdoms in their ideologies... come on. At most... she and the generalized extreme R2Kers speculated in the initial post have the same authority as the average person in a pew (of which I also am). At worst... the same authority as any other tares in the pews (of which I deserve short of grace to also be one). I am ultimately just looking for an authority on the matter who has a statement that can be seen as harboring and defending the thoughts of this generalized construction of "extreme R2Kers".
  30. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    You Impugned Darrell As Having Done Something Wrong. I clarified that he didn't. Darrell did not do what you accuse him of in the first post. He did not put Escondido and R2Kers together necessarily. I want you to first acknowledge he did not do what you said and we will move on. Even in your last post you are admitting to something called R2K. You demanded he come forth based upon your conflating two groups together which he didn't do. Your small quote isn't only taken out of context it is not even an accurate quote. It is a DISTORTION. You then classify DVD and Horton as R2Kers in your comment to me. He is not necessarily doing that. You have some cleaning up to do. Please attend to that. Facts are important and if you can't see this how can I discuss other issues with you.

    As a side note...
    I linked to Lee Iron's comments above. I didn't link to Misty. I mentioned her because it seemed to start with her and then it moved on to her husband, if I recall the situation correctly. This truly isn't about some blogging woman. BTW, she was a Pastor's wife and it was and is about him. You evidently aren't familiar with the case. Are you? Elder Mark Van Der Molen also linked to Horton's view above which is something I do want to address but I want you to first deal with your distorted accusation. I fully expect that you should set the record straight first and apologize. After you do that I will set to dealing with your hypothetical situation (which is really a poor practice), assumptions, and how association is effecting this situation. BTW, we will be using quotes from these people and not just charging them with assumption nor slandering their character.

    Let's remove the emotion and discuss this if you please.

    Thanks Kevin.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2012
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