Westminster-West prof "could affirm domestic partnerships" for homosexuals

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by darrellmaurina, Aug 16, 2012.

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  1. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Kudos to Martin Snyder for calling this to my attention, and kudos to Elder Mark Van Der Molen for finding it in the first place.

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

    This is a **SERIOUSLY** bad article.

    Dr. Michael Horton treats legalization of homosexual domestic partnerships as being an open question with legitimate arguments on both sides. While he opposes gay marriages, he says this: "Although a contractual relationship denies God’s will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people’s legal and economic security." Again, "The challenge there is that two Christians who hold the same beliefs about marriage as Christians may appeal to neighbor-love to support or to oppose legalization of same-sex marriage."

    This is based on Dr. Horton's longstanding and wrong belief that Judeo-Christian ethics are not a valid ground for civil law. In his words, "On one hand, it may be said that if we can no longer say that 'Judeo-Christian' ethics are part of our shared worldview as a republic, then the ban seems arbitrary. Why isn’t there a campaign being waged to ban providing legal benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples? Or to make divorce more difficult? It just seems more symbolic than anything else: it looks like our last-gasp effort to enforce our own private morality on the public."

    However, we need to keep in mind that Dr. Horton has done a great deal of good. Often when there's smoke, there's fire. Sometimes, however, there's just a lot of smoke because somebody set off a stink bomb in the house. Certainly a stink bomb isn't good, but it's not as bad as a full-blown four-alarm fully-involved structure fire with people trapped inside.

    As Calvinists, perhaps this will help us remember that as much as we may respect prominent men, we revere God's Written Word, not man's many words. In this case, we have an author who has done a lot of good for the church whose bad theology on "Two Kingdoms" has led him down a wrong path.

    Dr. Horton is not a liberal and anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know the meaning of the word "liberal." However, it should be a major warning to all of us when a man like Dr. Horton can write something this bad and get away with something which, if written by a PC(USA) minister, would spark howls of protest from conservatives who thought he'd gone soft on homosexuality.

    Since Dr. Horton represents not only himself but also the seminary, and he's not the only person advocating "Two Kingdoms" views at Westminster-West, contacting the seminary would probably be a good idea.

    Obviously the Westminster-West president, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, was one of the leaders of the secession from the Christian Reformed Church that began the United Reformed Churches in North America, in which both Dr. Godfrey and Dr. Horton are ordained ministers. I believe Dr. Godfrey will listen carefully to well-reasoned concerns from well-meaning Reformed people -- and he is very much aware that a major reason why his seminary started was because conservatives were upset with Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids.

    Here's an example with very uncomfortable parallels.

    Back in the 1990s, Calvin Theological Seminary dismissed a visiting professor from the Netherlands, Dr. Jan Veenhof, when it was discovered and reported in Christian Renewal that the professor had written an article advocating gay civil unions but not marriage. Unlike Dr. Veenhof whose views were much worse, the rest of Dr. Horton's work makes clear that his views here are an aberration, not part of a broader pattern, and I have no desire whatsoever to get Dr. Horton terminated from Westminster-West.

    My coverage of the Dr. Jan Veenhof incident is here:

    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/reformed/archive96/nr96-122.txt

    This got extensive media attention in the Grand Rapids Press, Detroit Free Press, and the Banner. Most of those articles aren't online, but here are some links to articles from the Calvin College Chimes which make clear this was a very big deal:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.c...//clubs.calvin.edu/chimes/961206/n1120696.htm

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.c...//clubs.calvin.edu/chimes/961206/e1120696.htm

    Here is some more recent Grand Rapids Press coverage mentioning the earlier incident with Dr. Veenhof:

    Calvin College has had to confront homosexuality before its latest memo against gay advocacy | MLive.com

    As CRC historian Dr. Robert Swierenga has written: "Relations with the GKN were further strained in 1996 when Calvin Theological Seminary released at mid-year visiting professor Jan Veenhof, a highly respected member of that denomination, who had written approvingly of faithful Christian homosexual couples. His controversial dismissal, together with the local crusading work of Jim Lucas, prompted the staff of Chimes, the Calvin College student newspaper, to devote its final spring 1997 issue to the topic of homosexuality at the college. The editors called for greater 'understanding,' ran an article by religion professor Philip Holtrop that noted the possibility of reading the Bible to allow for homosexual practices, and carried an ad for a college-sponsored gay and lesbian student discussion group 'to provide a safe and accepting place on the Calvin campus.'"

    Burn the Wooden Shoes: Modernity and Division in the Christian Reformed Church in North America

    It should be patently obvious that things aren't anywhere near that bad at Westminster-West. The question for Dr. Horton is not whether homosexuality is good or bad -- unlike Dr. Veenhof, Dr. Horton makes clear he's opposed to homosexual practice, not just homosexual marriages -- but rather what the state should do about something that the church opposes as a matter of biblical ethics. There are limits to the parallels with Veenhof, and also, for that matter, to the Peter Enns controversy over at Westminster-East.

    Dr. Horton is an orthodox Bible-believing scholar. We must never forget that. He is a brother and deserves to be treated as such.

    However, I believe that if Westminster Seminary doesn't do something to at least indicate that these views are not representative of the rest of the faculty, Calvin Seminary professors will quite legitimately be asking some tough questions about why conservatives blamed Calvin Seminary for ever hiring Veenhof, even after he was terminated, but nothing has been said about a long-term Westminster-West professor who advocated very similar views publicly on the White Horse Inn right here in the United States.

    Here's the contact information:

    Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, President
    Westminster Theological Seminary
    1725 Bear Valley Parkway
    Escondido, CA 92027
    (760) 480-8474
    Westminster Seminary California

    If you write, be respectful. Dr. Horton is an ordained minister and deserves to be treated with the respect due to his office. That goes double for Dr. Godfrey, who I strongly suspect is very unhappy with the comments in this article but quite correctly has to follow proper procedures to respond to things written by his professors.
     
  2. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Here's the bottom line for me.

    It is a very bad thing when a professor at a conservative Reformed seminary could even consider stating that he "could affirm domestic partnerships" for homosexuals. This is not an issue that should even be on the table for discussion. The least that can be said is it makes Westminster-West look bad and creates a PR problem. Perhaps more of a concern is that this "Two Kingdoms" theology is leading its adherents, step by step and perhaps too slowly for them to notice, into some very bad places.

    Perhaps it's true that frogs don't jump out of boiling pots if they're heated slowly. It's the job of seminary professors to be more discerning than frogs.

    Let's focus on praying for Dr. Horton and Dr. Godfrey, and the rest of the faculty at Westminster-West. These are smart men. I also believe they are sincerely converted men. Dr. Horton's views on "Two Kingdoms" are the problem, not his core orthodoxy. He's not a liberal and I've said that many times; I am fully aware that he does not support homosexual marriages.

    At this point, I'm not sure whether he's R2K or holds to the more moderate Es2K;
    I prefer to believe he's Es2K though pushing on the edges. The problem is that
    his view of politics leads to him failing to take his doctrine out of the church
    house and apply it to the part of his life governed by the state house.

    Given enough time, people usually become consistent by working out the
    implications of their core principles. I think Dr. Horton's core principles are
    Reformed orthodoxy. I hope that he realizes that his views on politics are
    taking him into dangerous places where he does not want to go.
     
  3. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    Unfortunately I can't read the complete article from the WHI as it's blocked for some reason on my work computer but the above question by Horton seems like a legitimate one to me. I'd be interested in hearing some answers to it.
     
  4. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Try this link to the religion forum on Free Republic, a secular conservative website where I've posted the full text of the article:

    "Should We Oppose Same-Sex Marriage?" (Westminster prof "could affirm domestic partnerships")

    I agree that Dr. Horton's questions are legitimate, given his presuppositions. My response is that he's being forced to ask those questions because of a wrong view that Judeo-Christian ethics should not be used to govern the state. Pushing people to be consistent with their presuppositions can reveal interesting things.

    I'm not trying to say that applying Judeo-Christian ethics to civil government is easy -- it's not -- but I am saying that as Christian citizens we should be trying.

    Leaving our faith at the church house door and not trying to apply it to our lives during the rest of the week, including the state house, does not seem very Reformed to me.
     
  5. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    The Law of God is hardly "our own private morality." If what we believe is true- If the Bible is true and If in that Bible God has spoken and If in speaking there he has revealed a Moral Law, by which every person is to be accountable and every person is to be judged, then the solution to our inconsistencies in adhering to that God-given Moral Law is NOT more inconsistency.

    I do not believe that some of these people are "ashamed of the gospel." I can't help but wonder, though, if they may not be ashamed of the Law.
     
  6. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Freshman

    Saying you are for homosexual domestic partnerships, but against "homosexual marriage", is like saying you are anti-abortion but ok with 'preterm fetal removal'. You have avoided a fight by redefining terms, and in the process created a distinction without a difference.

    Marriage is a doubly beautiful gift of God, not only as a tangible metaphor for Christ's relationship to his Church, but also as the means to that end (1 Timothy 2:15).
     
  7. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    It wasn't like this post was hidden so I am not sure why all the "kudos." It has been public since May 11 viewed by almost 40,000 people in its first week of being posted. Given the nature of this statement me thinks of "back-room secret meetings" with conspiracy on the minds of those involved.
     
  8. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    I received this from Dr. Horton after forwarding the initial post from the co-urc list-server which DTM also posted here.

    ****

    Just for context…

    I wrote several posts on same-sex marriage, arguing that because monogamous-heterosexual marriage is rooted in creation (not redemption), Christians should not treat it as merely imposing our distinctively Christian beliefs and values on society. We may lose, but the church can’t surrender its witness to God’s unchanging law. Thus, neighbor-love entails support for traditional marriages and family structures. At the same time, I argued that there are complicated legal and policy questions over which Christians (who hold this same view) may legitimately differ. One example is domestic partnerships, which I neither affirmed nor rejected. My only goal there was to say that there is nothing that the gay movement can win by same-sex marriage that it doesn’t already have with domestic partnerships. If they can have the latter, why do they need the former? It seems to me that the only real purpose in pressing for marriage is moral: namely, to place homosexual relationships on a par with heterosexual marriage: this we cannot allow, even if it involves the coercive power of the state (via our participation in the democratic process).

    Also, Christianity Today asked me to provide a response to an interview in The Atlantic with the head of Exodus International, who seemed to suggest that one could be an active homosexual and a member in good standing of a church. Of course, I disagreed. In response to this and those other posts, I’ve received criticism from evangelicals (and others) who thought I was too hard-line on the issue. So this one is a first. Until this one, I haven’t seen any responses that see any of the dangers that Mr. Maurina raised here.

    In Christ,
    Mike
     
  9. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    Please watch this video especially beginning at the 4:20 mark if you can't watch the whole thing. This concerns putting folks "on a slope" when they aren't on it themselves even though you think it is a "necessary consequence."

    http://vimeo.com/24828722
     
  10. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Thank You Elder Vander Pol.

    I have a question, Is this something that Dr. Horton recently gave to you to post? Was this a private communication so that he could clear some issues up?

    I ask because the blog that is referenced specifically says that he affirmed domestic partnership based upon economical and legal security. It was also written in May. It isn't that far removed. And as I noted somewhere else, it is a dangerous comment even if it is one small comment made amongst a host of great comments. In fact that even might make it more dangerous.

    We have been discussing what Economical and Legal Security is in relationship to this issue in other discussions.

    I don't want Dr. Horton to be misunderstood but his words were pretty specific.

    I posted this in another place because Legal and Economic Security was attached to this topic as Dr. Horton said, "Although a contractual relationship denies God's will for human dignity, I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people's legal and economic security."

    In another post I got into a discussion concerning this in the context of legal and economic security with a Pastor. He stated, that he could support this line of thinking for the very same reasons that Dr. Horton could and did by his statement. He even went into detail on why he affirmed it.

    Security was the basis for this Prominent Pastor's position of accepting Dr. Horton's affirmation of this position.


    I posted this in reply to this issue of Security.

    Where does Security come from? Economic Security comes from hard work. It isn't a freebie. Legal Security is another matter. No one is wanting to steal away any persons dignity. But a person forfeits things by wicked actions. We are all wicked and deserve just punishment. No one is advocating being unloving. But the Government has a function to praise good, discipline wrong doing, and perform wrath upon those who perform exceedingly wicked acts per general equity.....

    Again, concerning economic securities I would respond that wickedness should never be rewarded. A workman is worthy of his hire. How is legalizing same sex unions going to give someone economic security? Work gives a man or woman economic security. At least as much as can be had till they get laid off. How do we define Economic Security? Should we reward wickedness? The Government is suppose to praise good and punish evil. Isn't homosexuality evil? Have we become so apathetic and empathetic to evildoers that we are now accustomed to it as in Lot's day? And let me remind you that Lot's day was after the Flood. What legal security should they obtain outside of the the dignity of being human? Why does an unsanctioned wickedness deserve a security? Since when has that been a good practice for any society?

    I do love my friends on all sides of the fence. I have friends from all walks of life and I dearly love them. You can ask my lawyer atheistic friends. You can ask my homosexual friends. They do know what I think about sin but they also know that I love them and they still will have a beer with me. LOL. Well, I actually quit drinking and smoking. So it is just hang out time now while they embibe. I am getting too old and feeble for such activity. My health needs come first now. Besides, I like Vodka better than beer.

    BTW, yes, I am glad there is mercy. I have a few friends who have come out of such wickedness and are decades past it. I praise God for His mercy as I praise God that he was merciful towards King David and myself. I am not contending for the Government to run into everyone's bedroom and find evil. But I do believe open wickedness should be punished for the betterment of everyone. Sin experienced is harder to overcome. Repression of sin would heal a lot of things and make life easier for those who are going to come to Christ. I am glad to meet the Covenant Children who don't have to overcome the inclinations I developed and hurt myself by. They have it much better. And the ones I know are not self righteous. They know there capacity to fall into evil because they have been taught of God.

    Anyways, Security? Where is that important? Kind of reminds me of the saying, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." Well, I have known him for over 30 years and I haven't seen utopia yet.



    Oh yes, and one more thing.... Someone mentioned to us that we took one line and focused on it. To that I replied....

    The ramifications of one sentence of evil support can ruin a whole body. The 99% may be functioning just right but then that 1% can creep in and kill it having an effect upon a whole host surrounding that person.

    I know this. A viral infection severely effected and damaged the left ventricle of my heart. And that is one small particle. It isn't even 1%. I have one friend who died of this at age 19 and another who passed a few years ago because of viral cardio myopathey.

    This one thing in the whole article reveals a dangerous downgrade. I do not believe it is slanderous since we are not taking Dr. Horton out of context nor are we lying about him or what he said.

    I do appreciate the ferver that people have in trying to protect the good Drs. name. That is very important. BTW, I don't think sharpening Iron should cause heat. Sparks don't fly when Iron sharpens Iron. It is a slow process that tenderly treats the metal so that it develops a smooth sharpened blade and so that it keeps its strength. If sparks fly the blade is being damaged. I use a soft stone to sharpen my knives. I hope I am being a soft stone. If I am not being a soft stone please help me become one.
     
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Elder Vander Pol did send this to me to clarify something. BTW, this discussion is going on in a few different places as you can tell by the initial post.

    I commented to try to help clear this up with this comment.
    Just even the possibility has caused a very prominent Solid Godly Reformed man to affirm this position. He evidently has taken Dr.Horton at his word as one who could affirm this position. This is kind of turning into a discussion like the Bill Clinton era now. What is the meaning of the word "is" and "sex"?. So the word "could" has proven to be dangerous also. I could say that I could affirm it but I won't. That has a totally different meaning. The problem with Dr. Horton's statement is that He could affirm it for a reason. ie. He gives motive for affirming it. His words have a directive attached to them on why. There is motive attached to why he could affirm it placing it in a positive instead of a negative. Am I making sense?
    We have also attached this to another issue which is based upon the Two Kingdom / Natural Law teaching. That has to be remembered also Elder. Thanks for your kindness and trying to help out. Please help us.


    As I noted this is having ramifications that Dr. Horton isn't seeing just as some of his other doctrinal stances are having in my estimation. But that is another issue.

    Thanks Elder for trying to help.
     
  12. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    Both. I asked him if I could post his response.

    Martin, Dr. Horton doesn't specifically say (as you quoted above) "that he affirmed domestic partnership" but what he said actually said is "...I could affirm domestic partnerships as a way of protecting people's legal and economic security." Sure, it is up to debate what he means by "could" but there is at least some leeway and this isn't the same meaning as simply "he affirms" which you stated. His words were specific as you said, but let's actually use his specific words! It might not make much difference, but it "could" and I like to be precise. I also like to give people the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions without asking them to clarify first...

    I do appreciate Darrell's affirmations of the good work that Dr. Horton has done (it took a long time for me to hear those affirmations from that camp), but I have a really hard time with the way these "trials" (which is how they feel sometimes) are conducted online in forums that one's opponents don't even read. To make matters worse in many cases the opponent isn't even given the chance to discuss or clarify prior to the accusations being made, but very long posts are written in places that could directly impact one's ministry (e.g. the co-URC list). Especially when everything hinges on that "1%" as you stated. That doesn't sound like a "soft stone" but a fine edged blade dissecting and looking for any little bit to jump on. Of course we do need to dissect and hold even our Oxford trained theologians accountable to the Word of God, but we ask first what this little bit means that we are concerned about. A doctor when he sees a tumor doesn't immediately yell "Cancer!!!" and proceed to kill the whole body. No, he takes a small part of the tumor and tests it carefully. If it is benign, then praise the Lord, end of story! If it is malignent then slowly the cancer is treated with the utmost care for the rest of the body and the life of the individual.

    The reason I am protecting Dr. Horton's name here is for one simple reason: He is one of the most humble men I have ever met. The way he handles controversy and criticism is so gracious and he has at the forefront of his mind being faithful to the Word of God. I couldn't simply let Darrell's post to multiple forums (seriously, what is that all about?) proceed unabated when there are those in those forums itching to jump all over anything that somebody from WSC says that might be in the tiniest part controversial (Even the title of this thread is suspect as to Darrell's motives. Why not say "Dr Horton 'could affirm...'? Eveybody knows who he is.).

    If anybody wants to send me a reasoned, collegial e-mail to forward to Dr. Horton privately I would be happy to do so and leave it up to him to respond.
     
  13. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    Okay this is getting messy!! Sorry about the double responses because of my response over on the co-URC list that Martin posted before I was done responding more fully here.

    I simply don't have the time to continue with this much anymore. My primary concern as I have stated already is how this whole matter is being discussed without Dr. Horton being asked what he means about this prior to these posts. If the simple question was asked as a comment on the original WHI blog post that is different, because that could be considered as "asking Mike." As it stands Mike doesn't read the co-URC list-serve nor the other places this was posted, so that leads me to seriously think "what is the motive behind all of this?" If it is "to soften iron with a soft stone" then I would have to encourage you to think if that is the best way to conduct this sharpening.

    If you haven't put 1 and 1 together yet, I am in fact one of Dr. Horton's elders and he is accountable to me and my fellow elders concerning his theology and his life. The former is a most daunting task!! And believe you me, I take that task with the utmost seriousness.

    Take care,
     
  14. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Mark, before you publicly suggested some nefarious "back room secret meeting" with "conspiracy on the minds of those involved", it might have behooved you to check with me privately first. Didn't happen.
     
  15. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    I wasn't making any accusations that is how it happened. It was just simply an observation that popped into my head. The humor obviously was lost. Sorry about that.
     
  16. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Elder Vander Pol,

    Thank you for the admonition. I don't read Dr. Horton's blog and I do care that his name is protected. I try to do the same for Dr. Clark who posts here and has in the past transferred communication from Mike to here also.

    When one posts publicly they are responsible for what they say and they need to know the fruit of their posts. This whole thing started as a discussion of the Natural Law / Two Kingdom's doctrine. Now from a lot of the past comments that Dr. Horton has made, I and others on this forum have been accused of being in "serious error". He accuses people of having incorrect understanding all the time by his videos on the gospel and church involvement. His words are out there for us to see contextually and in a wealth of writing so that we can understand him. He considers other's thoughts and writings contextually as he makes his criticisms from other's writings. That is common practice as we discern what someone is saying. The same is true for Van Drunnen, Fesko, N. T. Wright, Jame's Jordan, Jason Stellman, etc. Contextually they aren't hard to understand. When you have discussed the Federal Vision have you gone to ask specific people what they meant in all situations or did you let their words and context speak? When one enters the public arena they are responsible to try to be understood and speak in a manner that is understandable. I learned that in Communications 101. I know it isn't easy. But it is what it is.

    As a for instance I am finding out that many people really don't understand the Covenanter doctrine of the Kingdom. There are many misrepresentations of One Kingdom theology and I am not upset by it. I am just answering questions and trying to educate people about it. I have been accused of being liberal, a theonomist, Federal Vision, and a Neo-Calvinistic Transformationailist. Well, I might be the last one but the Neo part I am still trying to figure out. I just haven't delved into it enough. I am not mad but glad that I have the opportunity to inform others of my position and to help clarify their misunderstandings even when I am labelled incorrectly. As I said, I am not mad. I am not necessarily upset. It is a good opportunity for me to explain what I believe. I am truly finding that many scholars don't even understand the historical positions I hold dearly. It is kind of strange. They are just declaring what it is without context most of the time. At least I have referred to context and the situation as to why it is important from a whole list of things that I have taken into account. It is based upon written things. And even when those are misunderstood I am more than happy to respond with an apology and thankfulness.

    I did read the whole blog slowly and I did appreciate a lot of what he said. If I am wrong for misreading him please ask him and I will openly retract and apologize to him as I would expect him to do. We aren't young men. I am rounding the 50 mark now. We ought to be able to love each other and be humble.

    I know you are probably weary of this as I m growing very weary of it also.

    Thanks for your help Elder Mark Vander Pol.
     
  17. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    It has been a pleasure conversing with you on this Martin. As you can see by my post count I don't pop in here all that often. I try to stay out of these conversations on these forums because it sometimes isn't all that good for my sanctification nor my striving to "love my neighbor"!

    Take care,
    Mark
     
  18. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    Okay I just want to add that reading a discussion between Mark Vander Pol and Mark Van Der Molen is highly confusing, at least for my simple mind!
     
  19. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Greetings, Elder Vander Pol.

    I've responded in more detail over on CO-URC and I'll re-post my comment from there over here in a few minutes. However, you raise a legitimate and separate question and I want to answer it.

    First, I am not engaged in any sort of back-room discussion to "go after" Dr. Horton. It is true that my opinion has been solicited by a number of people about tactics to deal with Two Kingdoms theology, but I don't think Dr. Horton's name has been mentioned in that connection. Given Dr. Horton's prominent and well-earned reputation as a fighter for Reformed orthodoxy, "going after" Dr. Horton would be just plain stupid. There are much better "test cases" than him.

    Second, when dealing with public issues, Matthew 18 does not apply. I think we both know that. I think your question can be rephrased like this: "Why did you write on this issue choosing the Christian Observer family of denominational discussion groups as a venue to do so?"

    Fair question.

    Back in the 1990s when I wrote an article in Christian Renewal about someone in the Christian Reformed Church, I knew they would see it whether they were a subscriber or not -- and based on the phone calls I got, it was obvious that certain Christian Reformed denominational officials were very avid readers of every word I wrote. They knew full well that if I wrote an article on something happening in a classis, church, or denominational agency, it would quickly generate a flood of comments, both positive and negative.

    The same principle applies to the electronic discussion groups sponsored by Christian Observer magazine for discussion of denominational issues. Posting on CO-URC or Presbyterians-OPC or similar forums is a good way to make sure that pretty much anybody who pays attention to issues in that denomination will quickly find out what got said.

    I crossposted the discussion on the Puritan Board for two reasons:

    First, because this board is where Martin Snyder and Elder Mark Van Der Molen started the discussion of Dr. Horton's quote in the referenced article, and second, because Dr. Horton is a prominent Reformed author and this issue is far bigger than the URC. (That second reason also applies to why I posted on Presbyterians-OPC and Free Republic -- I want to make sure people are aware of this issue, including Dr. Horton's response to it.)

    There is nothing underhanded or inappropriate about this.

    John Calvin and Martin Luther knew that Roman Catholics would see what they were writing about the Catholics. People posting about Stellman's decision to leave the PCA ministry, or posting about the trial of several Federal Visionists in the PCA, knew the people about whom they were writing would quickly see their words if posted on certain blogs. "New media" has accelerated the speed with which religious news gets disseminated and discussed, but on balance that's a good thing, despite all the problems associated with the crisis that has hit print media.

    I hasten to add that I do not view Dr. Horton as being in the category of the Catholic opponents of the Reformation, or even the category of a Federal Visionist. There are R2K people regarding whom I would not be so generous, and who I do view as being dangerous enemies, but Dr. Horton is not on that list. On the contrary, Dr. Horton has done a great deal of good in fighting Federal Vision theology, and while I disagree with him on Two Kingdoms theology, I respect his work in fighting aberrant theology inside the church.

    As one of Dr. Horton's elders, you know him far better than I ever will, but what you are saying about his humility makes sense and tracks with what I've heard from people who know him. I am seriously concerned about what he wrote, not because I have a major problem with Dr. Horton but rather because I have major respect for him. He's done a lot of good work and that absolutely **MUST** be affirmed.

    On the other hand, the homosexual agenda and the culture wars are not minor issues. They have major ramifications for the future of Christ's church in the United States. I very much wish that Dr. Horton would change his views about political engagement and follow the model of Francis Schaeffer in putting his tremendous academic and theological gifts to work fighting this enemy, but I realize that's not likely to happen.

    Different people have different callings. I respect that. If Dr. Horton is not going to join this fight in the secular realm, then please, Dr. Horton -- **PLEASE** join the fight in the church realm.

    Here's a sincere and well-meant suggestion for Dr. Horton:

    Watch Misty Irons' video of her speech to the Gay Christian Network 2012 conference in which she says Christians can support homosexual partnerships outside the church. Misty Irons is certainly a public figure, considering that she is the wife of a PCA elder who was formerly an OPC pastor whose case got widespread public attention a decade ago. Prove from the writings of the 2K people, including your own work, that 2K theology will not provide a slippery slope down to what Misty Irons now believes.

    Misty Irons' video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oFZsF1LxmU

    If Dr. Horton did that, it would accomplish two things:

    One, it would clear his own name and that of Westminster-West, and

    Two, it would go a long way toward showing that people who affirm Two Kingdoms theology are willing to fight for Scripture-based truth inside the doors of the church, even if they believe it is not the role of Christians to base arguments on Scripture when fighting for truth in the civil realm.

    Dr. Horton has clearly proven his ability to skewer and demolish arguments of broadly evangelical men who can be fairly accused of replacing the gospel of Augustine, Luther and Calvin with a semi-Pelagianism worse than Roman Catholic doctrine. I would love to see him use those same talents against people like Misty Irons who are subverting the church from the inside and introducing a "love" which is not love, while claiming the name of "grace" which is not rooted in the Gospel and is in fact loving what God hates.

    Elder Vander Pol, please bring this to Dr. Horton's attention. I believe some good can come out of this, and having Dr. Horton direct his attention to PCA members and elders' wives who advocate the sort of bad theology that was being advocated by Exodus leaders could perform a major service for the Reformed church world.
     
  20. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Mark, this is reposting what I said earlier over on CO-URC.

    Mark, I'm glad to see this comment by Dr. Horton. It doesn't entirely solve the problem, but it certainly helps.

    Words have meanings. I can only assume that Dr. Horton, as has been said on the religion forum of a secular conservative message board, penned a poorly worded essay.

    Stuff happens.

    We've all written things we regret. The question is what we do to act on those
    regrets.

    Dr. Horton, since you're reading this, I want to address you. I've spent a lot of electronic ink last night and today defending your core orthodoxy and saying we need to respect your office and your history of work in the church. I'm far from the only one who had concerns about your essay. Two different Reformed men, URCNA Elder Mark Van Der Molen and RPCNA member Martin Snyder, brought your quote out before I ever saw it, citing it as an example of problems with the Two Kingdoms theology. The response since then, from most people who have read your entire essay, has been that your essay is confusing at best and shocking at worst because it sounds nothing like the solidly grounded Reformed preacher and teacher who you are known for being.

    I believe this comment over on Free Republic is helpful:

    "Here is the problem with Horton's essay. He does not state that he could see the secular purpose in ALLOWING domestic partnerships, but he claims that as a Christian he could AFFIRM those relationships. He used the word AFFIRM which means to strongly approve of the relationship. It implies that as a pastor he would be willing to officiate at a domestic partnership ceremony. Either he does not have access to a dictionary and has a limited understanding of the English language, or Horton has come off the rails. There is no excuse for a Reformed Pastor to 'AFFIRM' homosexual relationships. And if we are going to 'AFFIRM' these relationships for 'legal and economic security' of our neighbors because of sexual preference, then why limit it to two homosexuals? How about Father/Daughter relationships? Sister/Brother? Polygamist relationships?"

    "Should We Oppose Same-Sex Marriage?" (Westminster prof "could affirm domestic partnerships")

    This is coming, by the way, from someone who has the "White Horse Inn" as a link on his homepage on that message board. He is far from being an enemy of Dr. Horton.

    Another quote from the same person: "I had GREAT respect for Dr. Horton. Perhaps I need to heed Acts 10:34 and be more wary of those who wear their collars backwards and who claim authority based on knowledge and the recognition of others by virtue of their degrees. We need to call Dr. Horton on the carpet for this and we need not do it with kid gloves. He needs to know that by cow-towing to the homosexual agenda, he is perverting the gospel of Christ. Dr. Horton has been a great source of theological wisdom to me in the past. I was quite shocked to see that he was the author of this tripe. Shame on him."

    As I said, we've all written things we wish we had not written, and in which we would have chosen our words better if we had realized how they would be misunderstood. However, the word "affirm" here opened a wide door to serious misunderstanding.

    I have no reason to believe that Dr. Horton wants to officiate at a "domestic partnership" ceremony. He's in the URCNA, not the PC(USA).

    However, I would certainly hope that Dr. Horton reconsiders his use of the word "affirm." I believe the essay was at best poorly written, and at worst caused the worst nightmares of many of us to be confirmed about the potential consequences of the Two Kingdoms theology.

    There are Two Kingdoms people who make a natural law argument against homosexual marriages, homosexual adoption, etc. I don't agree with that argument and believe it is insufficient to refute people like Misty Irons, but we need to draw distinctions between radical and moderate Two Kingdoms people.

    I very much hope that Dr. Horton clarifies his views publicly and clearly steps
    back on the non-radical side of the R2K/Es2K line.

    A closing note: Even if he's wrong, Dr. Horton is an ordained minister of the Lord Jesus Christ in a conservative and confessionally Reformed denomination. That has implications in how we treat him -- respect for the office is critical no matter what we think about the person who holds the office. Let's remember that in these discussions.
     
  21. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Think of yourself as "Van Silva" and all will become clear. :)
     
  22. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    LOL!

    Can I think of myself as Marinus van der Ell?

    I used to have people joke upon meeting me for the first time that "You're too short to be the Darrell whose articles I read." Earlier, I had fellow students at Calvin who couldn't believe anyone could be so obviously non-Dutch and grow up in Grand Rapids.

    I used to eat King peppermints but the Dutch pills don't work in making short black-haired Italians into tall blonde Hollanders. Gave them up long ago. Kimchi tastes better anyway and the Korean cooks usually share my short height and black hair ;-)

    (For those who don't know what I'm alluding to, my wife is Korean. There were only three students at Calvin out of the 4500 there while I attended who were shorter than me, all were women, two were Koreans, and I married one of those two.)
     
  23. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    You probably should ask Gamecock or Lee N. Field to ping the list.
     
  24. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    Good idea. I had Wagglebee ping the "Moral Absolutes" and "Homosexual Agenda" lists this morning.

    If we're going to talk about whether Reformed people should participate in politics, Free Republic is one way to reach a lot of Reformed elders and laymen. A number of angry PCA members, some of them in prominent national and state political positions, have been in contact with me asking why they've never heard of this "Two Kingdoms" theology from their churches until now. Unfortunately, I'm afraid the answer is that lots of PCA ministers are trying to avoid controversy in their churches and don't tell their members about what's going on in the PCA.

    Free Republic is far from perfect -- I'm a Christian conservative, not a secular conservative -- but it's a very helpful news aggregator from a conservative perspective, and has had a significant role in a number of major controversies including documenting the bogus nature of the George W. Bush "AWOL" documents. It's been little short of amazing to see how many nationally known conservatives have mentioned via private email or personal conversations that they are regular participants on Free Republic.

    I'm far from being an unqualified fan of the "Tea Party" movement, but given the choice of an uninformed electorate misled by mainstream media and "new media" organs like Free Republic getting around the gatekeepers, I'll take the problems of too much information rather than controlled access to information.

    And that, by the way, applies to church politics as well as secular politics. If major church problems are going to get addressed, in many cases it will have to be done by the laymen, not the ministers.
     
  25. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Can I become Van Der Martin? I do have Dutch in me?
     
  26. Rufus

    Rufus Puritan Board Junior

    This is a few months old, there are other articles posted at the same time period from Dr. Horton that put it into context. The one quote mentioned in the title doesn't show the entire picture of the article either, it's sort of cherry-picking.
     
  27. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Darrell, this kind of thinking kind of bothers me. This is not the means that God has set up Biblically and I personally have seen what you are saying tear churches and denominations apart. I have experienced much edification in my life by watching God's ordained means of Church Eldership exercise wisdom and lead the Church in and out of troubled times. He gave us Church officers for the means of maturing the body. I haven't read that about laymen. Yes, we can play a part by humble appeal and recommendation but God has given a means in his ordained officers. I admit that sometimes things don't seem to progress or move fast enough for the benefit of His body. But He is Lord and He is a Jealous lover over His Bride.

    I just relayed a story to Elder Vander Pol that I believe is apt here.

    "I learned a lesson a long time ago that it isn’t my job to clean the bride’s dress when she soils it or if it gets soiled by something. I may recognize something is amiss but I am not responsible for cleaning it up. I am responsible for my part and understanding things correctly the best I can. If we try to clean the bride’s dress the bridegroom is a Jealous Lover. So I have learned to tread lightly. He is capable of loving and cleaning her up. I might offend him if I take it upon myself to rush over to her and start cleaning her up in front of Him when she is His bride and not mine. He has given means to deal with things. Fortunately he has given us gifts in ministers and Elders to do his bidding. Church officers are the gifts and means we have for maturing and helping us be what we ought to be."

    Anyways Darrell, I think I understand your sentiment but it can have hidden dangers and it can be destructive when Laymen take it upon themselves to do things they haven't been called to do.

    Just saying.

    Be Encouraged,
    Randy
     
  28. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    It really isn't Sean. I will explain more later. But things need to settle down a bit. I think I am going to let this dog lay for a bit and let Dr. Horton have a chance to respond if he will be gracious and do so. I have seen a response by him. Let's just kick it back for a bit.
     
  29. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Randy:

    When Darrell says this church work frequently must be done by "laymen", I believe he means "ordained lay elders", in distinction from unordained laymen in the church.
     
  30. darrellmaurina

    darrellmaurina Puritan Board Freshman

    A clarification of my views for Martin Snyder -- I am in no way trying to disparage the offices of the church. I have spent considerable time over the years defending the importance of respect for office, not only in the church but also in the state.

    I do believe there are things which elders and deacons are better equipped to do than ministers. My comment was primarily referring to laymen vis-a-vis ministers, not church members vis-a-vis those called to special offices.

    While that was the primary point of my comment, I do believe the issues of "Two Kingdoms" theology cross out of ecclesiastical questions and move into the political realm, and therefore are going to have to be addressed by those who are members of Reformed churches with knowledge of how practical politics works. Sometimes they will be elders; sometimes they won't. An obvious example of the latter would be female members of churches active in the pro-life movement.

    Furthermore, the PCA is more fundamentalist than it is Reformed, and I believe there are many people in the PCA who are in less-than-TR churches who on this issue will agree with us. The PCA is filled with people who are active in the pro-life movement and who aggressively fight the homosexual agenda but who wouldn't spend time reading things like the Puritan Board. They may not agree with us on some things, and they are often in churches which are not attuned to denominational politics, but on this issue, they can be our allies. In denominations like the PCA, winning requires getting the fundamentalists and broad evangelicals to agree with the TRs that there's a problem.
     
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