Public prayer a la 1 Timothy 2:1-2

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Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
That's not how God's prescriptive will works. The NT also nowhere commands that women partake in the Lord's Supper, yet we know they must. We also do not limit God's prescriptive will to the NT. It is ironic that you accuse establishmentarians of exercising some Dispensationalist pipe dream, yet this your most recent comment is textbook Dispensationalism.
I think you misunderstand. Neither the witness of the entire OT, not the further revelation of the NT, have any intention that the civil magistrate shall establish religion after the coming of Christ. The OT theocracy was a type--an imperfect physical picture of a coming, and better, spiritual reality. We should not long for a return to the shadow when we have the reality: Christ reigns in the hearts of His covenant people the entire world over, regardless of political circumstances.
But curiously, to your example: did you know that in the OT, women partook of the Passover?
 

Phil D.

Puritan Board Junior
I have posed this question multiple times here over the years, but have yet to receive even a single nibble (If I recall correctly): How is establishmentarianism compatible with WCF 20.2? My question applies to very evident and deep differences in both Baptist/non-Baptist and intra-Presbyterian convictions.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
I have posed this question multiple times here over the years, but have yet to receive even a single nibble (If I recall correctly): How is establishmentarianism compatible with WCF 20.2? My question applies to very evident and deep differences in both Baptist/non-Baptist and intra-Presbyterian convictions.
Would you mind explaining this? Precisely what difficulty do you think WCF 20.2 presents?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
I think you misunderstand. Neither the witness of the entire OT, not the further revelation of the NT, have any intention that the civil magistrate shall establish religion after the coming of Christ. The OT theocracy was a type--an imperfect physical picture of a coming, and better, spiritual reality. We should not long for a return to the shadow when we have the reality: Christ reigns in the hearts of His covenant people the entire world over, regardless of political circumstances.

You really believe that establishment folks are after an Israelite theocracy, or some sort of ecclesiocracy? If that is the case, then you and I are talking about two different things. I would suggest listening instead of casting theological aspersions against something about which you are not informed. I found this article to be a helpful read.

But curiously, to your example: did you know that in the OT, women partook of the Passover?
Of course. But you were the one who in practice limited the extent of God's prescriptive will to the New Testament revelation in this post.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
But curiously, to your example: did you know that in the OT, women partook of the Passover?
You really believe that establishment folks are after an Israelite theocracy, or some sort of ecclesiocracy? If that is the case, then you and I are talking about two different things. I would suggest listening instead of casting theological aspersions against something about which you are not informed. I found this article to be a helpful read.


Of course. But you were the one who in practice limited the extent of God's prescriptive will to the New Testament revelation in this post.
Ben, what do you hope to gain by this point? As a baptist you do not allow OT practice of infant circumcision to justify infant baptism, so women at Passover is no help to your practice of permitting women to the Table. Your own rules of engagement on baptism demand explicit command or indisputable example for permitting women.
 
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iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
You really believe that establishment folks are after an Israelite theocracy, or some sort of ecclesiocracy? If that is the case, then you and I are talking about two different things. I would suggest listening instead of casting theological aspersions against something about which you are not informed. I found this article to be a helpful read.


Of course. But you were the one who in practice limited the extent of God's prescriptive will to the New Testament revelation in this post.
To be fair, a lot of the questions are provoked by the fact that "establishment folks" aren't always clear about what kind of establishment they want - so the link you have provided is helpful in giving more specifics. There are erastian establishmentarians (see Church of England, where the state appoints bishops) and liberal establishmentarians (see Church of Scotland, where the only theological offenses that will get you disbarred from ministry are things like opposing women's ordination). There is nothing inherent in the term "establishmentarianism" that tells us what you have in mind.

In general, the greatest opacity (and this is where you are probably getting most pushback) is "What future do you envisage in your establishment State for real Christians who conscientiously disagree over confessional issues? Are they to be tolerated (provided they hold to some broader definition of "Christianity" than the WCF - if so, what definition do you propose?) Or are they to be persecuted, as baptists have sometimes historically been?" I don't see anything in the article that addresses this vital question - though since it argues for jus divinum Presbyterianism (with which I agree!), it's hard to see how you allow New England Congregationalist Puritans to practice their religion.

Do you see where people's concerns come from?
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
To be fair, a lot of the questions are provoked by the fact that "establishment folks" aren't always clear about what kind of establishment they want - so the link you have provided is helpful in giving more specifics. There are erastian establishmentarians (see Church of England, where the state appoints bishops) and liberal establishmentarians (see Church of Scotland, where the only theological offenses that will get you disbarred from ministry are things like opposing women's ordination). There is nothing inherent in the term "establishmentarianism" that tells us what you have in mind.

In general, the greatest opacity (and this is where you are probably getting most pushback) is "What future do you envisage in your establishment State for real Christians who conscientiously disagree over confessional issues? Are they to be tolerated (provided they hold to some broader definition of "Christianity" than the WCF - if so, what definition do you propose?) Or are they to be persecuted, as baptists have sometimes historically been?" I don't see anything in the article that addresses this vital question - though since it argues for jus divinum Presbyterianism (with which I agree!), it's hard to see how you allow New England Congregationalist Puritans to practice their religion.

Do you see where people's concerns come from?
I do not for a second deny the issues, difficulties, or concerns. They are entirely valid. What I am pushing back against is the assertion, yet to be retracted in the thread by Mr. Zartman, that the entire endeavor is merely something that should be "left to the Dispensationalists"—logically entailing that it is Dispensational in its nature to begin with—a charge I found to be most offensive and uncharitable. I do not wish to iron out the difficulties (though I will say that difficulties in practice do not render the underlying theory invalid). I merely wish to ensure that board members are not misrepresenting one another. None of us should tolerate it, certainly not a confessional board such as this.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I do not wish to iron out the difficulties (though I will say that difficulties in practice do not render the underlying theory invalid).

I'll admit I neither understood Mr Zartman's charge nor the responses to it. That said, the difficulties we are raising have to be addressed. Covenanter Political thought has generally not addressed them and might be one of the reasons they have always ended in defeat and disaster. Always. Even among themselves (see the debacle at Bothwell Bridge)

The historic Protestants (and I have analyzed and outlined Turretin and Althusius on this) were establishmentarians, but they never dreamed of the situation in America, so more thought is called for.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
I have posed this question multiple times here over the years, but have yet to receive even a single nibble (If I recall correctly): How is establishmentarianism compatible with WCF 20.2? My question applies to very evident and deep differences in both Baptist/non-Baptist and intra-Presbyterian convictions.

WCF 20.2 should not be read in isolation from 20.4.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Ben, what do you hope to gain by this point? As a baptist you do not allow OT practice of infant circumcision to justify infant baptism, so women at Passover is no help to your practice of permitting women to the Table. Your own rules of engagement on baptism demand explicit command or indisputable example for permitting women.
The passover question is different than the baptism question, but we should discuss that in another place, in order to not derail this thread.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
The passover question is different than the baptism question, but we should discuss that in another place, in order to not derail this thread.

Until then, no explicit example or command is needed in the New Testament that governments should support and countenance the church.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
I do not for a second deny the issues, difficulties, or concerns. They are entirely valid. What I am pushing back against is the assertion, yet to be retracted in the thread by Mr. Zartman, that the entire endeavor is merely something that should be "left to the Dispensationalists"—logically entailing that it is Dispensational in its nature to begin with—a charge I found to be most offensive and uncharitable. I do not wish to iron out the difficulties (though I will say that difficulties in practice do not render the underlying theory invalid). I merely wish to ensure that board members are not misrepresenting one another. None of us should tolerate it, certainly not a confessional board such as this.
I'm sorry that you were offended: I did not intend to imply that the Dispensationalists were seeking the same thing entirely as the establishment crowd; clearly they have a different set of hopes and dreams. But they do expect an earthly political kingdom, and there is a similarity there, however oblique. I do not accuse nor charge anyone here with being Dispensationalist, and I apologize if anyone felt I was calling them such.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I do not for a second deny the issues, difficulties, or concerns. They are entirely valid.
The problem is that you can't simply set aside problems that lie at the heart of the very enterprise, waving them away to be sorted out after the Reformation comes. It's easy to be in favor of establishmentarianism, if that remains a very vague concept that everyone is free to define in their own way. It's harder if you have to wrestle with exactly what kind of establishmentarianism you think Scripture requires. At one end of the spectrum you have what we might call "hard establishmentarianism", in which only worship within very narrow boundaries is permitted in your realm and those who disagree are still forced to go to your church, where they may or may not be able to be members and/or take communion (see part 4 of the article you linked to). They cannot have their own churches however. You may graciously agree not to imprison them, but they don't get to vote or hold public office. It's not clear if they are permitted to teach their children their beliefs. At the other end of the spectrum, you have the current set up in the UK where a very broad church is "established", and has a few advantages (bishops in the House of Lords), but in practice other denominations are free to do whatever they want, within reason ("soft establishmentarianism"). You could hold a position at a variety of points along this spectrum, but it is reasonable to ask you to define exactly which establishmentarianism you want us to vote for.

I suspect most establishmentarians here lean toward the former, not the latter, but don't seem to have though through the implications. Everyone seems to assume that the established denomination will exactly match their own doctrinal preferences, and they will have arrived at a utopia in which every church in the land is just like theirs. No one seems to imagine it possible that their own views might end up getting suppressed and persecuted. For example, the current Free Church of Scotland holds to the establishmentarian principle, but it believes that it should be the established church, not the Church of Scotland. Yet if hard establishmentarianism held sway, they wouldn't have the freedom to argue that they should be the true established church. They would be forced to go to their local Church of Scotland church and sing hymns and hear vague platitudes along with everyone else.

And if OT Israel is our model, that doesn't give us a whole lot of comfort. They were never, as a nation, on board with the true religion. Every now and then a godly king dragged them forcibly back in the right direction, with the help of a brief and very limited revival. But more often than not, his son re-started the idolatry. It's similar in church history; for every godly leader who helped and encouraged reformation (and there were some signal examples), there were five who persecuted and suppressed the true religion. As I result, I for one am less than excited about the idea that the State enforces a single denomination and suppresses the rest. I'm open perhaps to a kinder, gentler establishment - one in which I don't have to sort out all of my neighbors theological problems, just the ones in my own church - but not the full strength variety. We'll all get our doctrine straightened out perfectly in heaven (including me); until then, I'm okay with the idea that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ aren't getting everything right, and I prefer to defend their right to be wrong than abandon my own right to be right (as I understand the Scriptures).

Oh, and in the meantime, that doesn't prevent me from praying regularly for our present leaders, pagan and Christian alike, in hopes that they will give us a quiet life in which we may pursue godliness according to our understanding of the Scriptures.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Pastor Duguid, and others, it occurs to me to ask, where has religious pluralism gotten the witness of the true religion? The church’s speaking with multiple voices and multiple doctrinal stances and multiple forms of worship has been a catastrophe as a witness to the truth.

God has always used the civil magistrate to aid the church toward a visible unity that witnesses to the truth and advances the gospel. Every church council that settled major doctrinal issues, all the way up to Westminster, was called and countenanced by the magistrate. The civil magistrate, in the days of reformation, didn’t and couldn’t decree what constituted the true religion in the nation. The establishments in England and Scotland are unbiblical, and do not represent the true religion, which is why the faithful church had to come out of them.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Pastor Duguid, and others, it occurs to me to ask, where has religious pluralism gotten the witness of the true religion? The church’s speaking with multiple voices and multiple doctrinal stances and multiple forms of worship has been a catastrophe as a witness to the truth.

God has always used the civil magistrate to aid the church toward a visible unity that witnesses to the truth and advances the gospel. Every church council that settled major doctrinal issues, all the way up to Westminster, was called and countenanced by the magistrate. The civil magistrate, in the days of reformation, didn’t and couldn’t decree what constituted the true religion in the nation. The establishments in England and Scotland are unbiblical, and do not represent the true religion, which is why the faithful church had to come out of them.
Jeri,
I think you've cherry picked your evidence a little bit. The same establishments in England and Scotland that you (rightly) call unbiblical are the ones that summoned the assembly that produced the Westminster Standards. Not every confession came about this way - for example, the Belgic Confession, or the American Revisions to the Westminster Confession (to which I subscribe), or for that matter the 1689 London Baptist Confession. And we may be grateful for the times when, in spite of the establishment principle, faithful churches were nonetheless able to come out from the established church without being hounded to death or excluded from public office. That was not always the case. There is a reason why many of our Presbyterian forebears ended up in the United States, where they had greater freedom to pursue Biblical worship, without being persecuted by the establishment. Divisions, while always lamentable in this fallen world, are not always catastrophic (1 Cor 11:18-19).
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Has the government not been given the sword by Christ to punish evil and promote good? Does not even the American revision of Westminster include this?

Well what are good and evil if not defined by the full moral law of God? Is it evil to worship Buddha? Is it evil to worship satan in a temple? Is it evil to work your servants on the Lord’s Day solely to make extra profit? Is it evil to dishonor superiors? Is it evil to worship and bow down to statues? Is it evil to speak blasphemies against God? If a magistrate passes a law, is he/she exempt from the bearing of the moral law because they hold the title “magistrate”? Which commands are they exempt from?

Who is to bear a sword against the above evils?

These are the majority of questions that I’ve been unable to answer with other positions. This is part of the reason I embrace the establishment principle along with seeing it in scripture, and Westminster (both original and Americanized).
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Has the government not been given the sword by Christ to punish evil and promote good? Does not even the American revision of Westminster include this?

No one disputes this.
Well what are good and evil if not defined by the full moral law of God?

Since moral law = natural law, no one really disputes this.
Is it evil to worship satan in a temple?

Yes, and this highlights ambiguities in the 1st amendment. But all of this is besides the point. Establishmentarians in this thread are trading on an ambiguity: no one really rejects what I call "an Athanasian pluralism," the codification of largely Christian values. That's beside the point. The issue is specific Christian denominations. You will have to outlaw some of these. Will you use the sword against your baptist neighbors? You all keep dodging those questions.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
No one disputes this.


Since moral law = natural law, no one really disputes this.


Yes, and this highlights ambiguities in the 1st amendment. But all of this is besides the point. Establishmentarians in this thread are trading on an ambiguity: no one really rejects what I call "an Athanasian pluralism," the codification of largely Christian values. That's beside the point. The issue is specific Christian denominations. You will have to outlaw some of these. Will you use the sword against your baptist neighbors? You all keep dodging those questions.
Jacob my questions were rhetorical.

And no one has been dodging questions. As I read it all the questions have been answered in a pretty clear manner. If the sacraments are not being handled in an appropriate manner then it would first need to fall to the elders to use the keys. If people continue to abuse the sacraments, then yes some form of civil penalty would need to be required. I think it is obvious the establishment principle would require the baptist position to be addressed, so I’m not sure why you keep pressing for this answer. And if we happen to have an established religion that outlaws infant baptism, then (assuming infant baptism be biblical), then this would mean persecution on some level.

So to avoid a degree of persecution we simply make any and all forms of worship to a plurality of idols legal?

So if the Baptist view was the ruling government then we Presbyterians would likely yield in lesser areas and suffer persecution in primary doctrinal convictions.
 
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Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
@BayouHuguenot

And this is Merica!!!! If the Presbyterians gain the establishment, we would just tax the stew out of any lingering baptist so we can send all our children to Reformed universities for free and cancel all Presbyterian student loan debt!!!!!
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
The same establishments in England and Scotland that you (rightly) call unbiblical are the ones that summoned the assembly that produced the Westminster Standards.
I’m sure this is obvious but when the confession and confessional establishmentarians speak positively of establishments, it’s understood to be those that are true and biblical ones, brought about by God’s acting to revive and reform his church. I would say that the present establishments in England and Scotland are not true or biblical church establishments, therefore not worthy of the name.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
The problem is that you can't simply set aside problems that lie at the heart of the very enterprise, waving them away to be sorted out after the Reformation comes.
Again, I am granting the validity of all your questions and issues. I am not "waving them away." I am not even arguing for establishment here! My sole purpose for engaging in this thread is to address a clear mischaracterization of establishmentarianism that occurred very early on in the thread—a comment which had nothing to do with the difficulties of the topic. That's literally all I endeavored to do. And since Mr. Zartman addressed the statement in question, my reason for engaging is no longer in force.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Has the government not been given the sword by Christ to punish evil and promote good? Does not even the American revision of Westminster include this?

Well what are good and evil if not defined by the full moral law of God? Is it evil to worship Buddha? Is it evil to worship satan in a temple? Is it evil to work your servants on the Lord’s Day solely to make extra profit? Is it evil to dishonor superiors? Is it evil to worship and bow down to statues? Is it evil to speak blasphemies against God? If a magistrate passes a law, is he/she exempt from the bearing of the moral law because they hold the title “magistrate”? Which commands are they exempt from?

Who is to bear a sword against the above evils?

These are the majority of questions that I’ve been unable to answer with other positions. This is part of the reason I embrace the establishment principle along with seeing it in scripture, and Westminster (both original and Americanized).
Not everything that is immoral -or even evil - is (or should be) illegal. Coveting is evil, but we don't send people to jail for it. I'm not sure I need to jail my Baptist pastor friends; I'd rather have conversations with them here on the PB in which I seek to guide them into a better understanding of the Scriptures.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Not everything that is immoral -or even evil - is (or should be) illegal. Coveting is evil, but we don't send people to jail for it. I'm not sure I need to jail my Baptist pastor friends; I'd rather have conversations with them here on the PB in which I seek to guide them into a better understanding of the Scriptures.
Iain I made no mention of jail specifically. Nor do I think our reformed baptist brothers need the death penalty.

All I seem to hear from the anti-establishmentarian side is “ just think of how bad it will be if the denomination you’re not a part of is the established religion“. I wish those discussions would end on this topic because frankly it does not matter IF it is biblical. Is the magistrate required or not required to promote and protect the 10 commandments? My answer is a resounding YES right now. I’m still studying the issue and no I do not have my specific denominational penalties in a draft CFR, but I still go back to what does the Bible and our confession require of the civil magistrate?

I have been thankful for your input in this thread, BTW. I still consider myself young on this subject!

We would rather have freedoms to worship any and all gods in any way we feel than risk a chance of persecution? That keeps ringing in my head and I’m still wrestling with this topic, though I still feel very convicted that the establishment principle is biblical and greatly needed today.

P.S. I sent you a PM on a totally unrelated subject.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Another one I’ve heard from anti-establishment types: “can you imagine if Hillary Clinton or Pelosi was coming up with the rules of worship, no way man!!!”.

Nonsense. The establishment principle does not require the magistrate to formulate their own rules of worship, but rather to support, protect, and promote rules of biblical worship. Once we get that base line we would at least have a better system than we do now wich is equivalent to the famous line in Judges dealing with eyeballs. Difference being we have learned to like it because our Lord has not yet brought the pillars crashing down.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What went wrong with establishment 1638-1688; what should be done different? If we should have establishment that should be one of the case studies.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
It is interesting that those who deny the original WCF want to use the best examples of dissenters from a future establishment (e.g. orthodox Baptists and others). What about Devil worshippers? What about Jehovah's Witnesses and other Arians? How should the state treat them? I am happy enough to have conversations with such people to convince them of the error of their ways. I am also happy for the state to send the ring-leaders of such cults to prison or worse.

We have also had discussions here about whether or not it is right to swear an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution. I have argued that it is not contrary to God's law to do so because the oath merely recognises the Constitution as the legitimate instrument of government; it does not require you to own the deficiencies of that document as the confession of your faith. (Although I would prefer to take the oath with a declaratory statement acknowledging Christ's kingship, which I think you can still do.)

Other fine Christians here, who, to cite what George Whitefield said about John Wesley :eek: , will be much closer to the throne than I, conscientiously believe that it is wrong to take an oath to the Constitution. As a result, they cannot, in good conscience, hold certain jobs that require them to take the oath. Should the Constitution (or perhaps the very idea of constitutional government) be scrapped because of their conscientious objection? Or do the rest of us just see that outcome as the unfortunate result of a misinformed conscience?

I see their situation being analogous in some way to what might happen to evangelical Baptists were there an established church. They may suffer certain disabilities (such as not being able to hold political office) as a result of being dissenters from the establishment. But, in such a situation, they would not be suffering persecution; they would be living with the consequences of having embraced an opinion that our Confession regards as "a great sin." I mean no disrespect to the persons of any of our Baptist brothers here (several of whom are good friends of mine), but as a confessional Reformed Christian, I cannot be woolly on this subject and pretend that I do not regard anti-paedobaptism as a serious error.
 

Smeagol

Puritan Board Senior
Not everything that is immoral -or even evil - is (or should be) illegal. Coveting is evil, but we don't send people to jail for it. I'm not sure I need to jail my Baptist pastor friends; I'd rather have conversations with them here on the PB in which I seek to guide them into a better understanding of the Scriptures.
Iain not even the Elders of Christ church can know the internal heart, so are you saying no judgements can be passed on others regarding the command forbidding covetousness? If a sin is committed solely inwardly then I imagine, if unrepentant, the only being existing who could judge is Christ himself.

But also here is a hypothetical since you and Jacob ask for them:

Does stealing another man’s property (Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich) involve coveting? If so could a magistrate not charge a convicted thief also of coveting because his action shows his heart (and belly) guilty of that command as well?
 
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