18 July 2010

IronInk Exchange Part 2

I am so pleased. IronInk did respond and this is an excellent exercise for those who wish to see the issues and arguments at work. Here's the link to his post regarding my last letter.

A Conversation with a Theonomy(Biblical Christianity)Hater.

Enjoy. And here's my response to his post. I hope he posts it. He didn't with my last, but we'll see. Maybe there will even be a part #3.

Mr. IronInk,

Well I didn't expect much. I'm pleased you've made an attempt. At least you didn't cut and run as so many in the Theonomic camp are apt to do.

I wish you would at least have the decency to post my comment in full. Then of course feel free to post against what I've written. I do it all the time. Readers can learn from these exchanges.

In responding to my rejection of the WCF 3-fold, you argue that my view implies there is no reason to keep the moral law since all has fallen. This will be a recurring theme. Law...what is it? You're all over the place in how you use the term. No one is suggesting there is no moral law...what I'm saying is, the Decalogue isn't it. That was preamble to the Mosaic Law Covenant. So it too, has passed. There is the Law of Christ, but since you seem think grace and truth came by Moses.....it won't mean much to you.

As far as Edom and Moab...how would they come under Mosaic Law? Without a central-shrine, priesthood, divine mandate....how could they hope to worship Jehovah? They have no covenantal Theocracy. They can try and create a 'theocracy' but it's not a real, God didn't institute it. That's what happened in the Northern Kingdom. They lost their Covenantal status, couldn't replicate it, being impossible, and under Jeroboam set up a pseudo-Theocracy, an imitation of God's Kingdom. This is Sacralism, the idolatrous attempt of every nation and culture to make the City of Man into the City of God. It's as old as Babel. I wasn't calling Beza pagan, though indeed he is the author of many foul things. But the Sacralist ideal.....that's as old as Babel, and that's exactly what he tried to do.

As far as the verses you referred to....they all must be read according to the Apostolic hermeneutic. The Jews of the 1st century were reading the Scriptures as you are. How is your vision of the kingdom different from the geo-political vision of the Zealots and Pharisees? If we rightly read the NT and establish our hermeneutic there, suddenly we understand the verses in the Psalms and Isaiah. We understand Prophetic Idiom and Perspective. To read the NT in light of the OT is to fail to see the contrast between the two and the supremacy of the New. We start there to define the nature and principle and expectation of the Kingdom. Then the OT passages become clear. How did James use your hermeneutic in Acts 15 when quoting Amos 9? How did Peter use your OT hermeneutic in Acts 2?

The whole earth is not Holy. You're failing to see the distinction between Reign and Realm. Christ is head of the church, not king of America. If he was, America would be holy and survive the eschaton. But it like all things common will be destroyed in the fire. Christ is universal King....who is coming. And he is Head/King of the church...already and forevermore.

Jew and Gentile under the law in Romans? Again, which law? Romans 1 appeals to the law derived from nature, clearly known, which condemns fallen man. The Jews are under condemnation of the law and being in covenant were under its requirements. Note the past tense. They were......a major point of the NT. It's everywhere in the Epistles, not to mention Acts 15.

And how does Jeremiah 31 apply to my pagan next door neighbour? And again, what Law? If he's not in covenant and doesn't have the law on his heart, what law is he supposed to understand and follow? How can he do so in light of Romans 8?

Israel not typological in all ways? I thought all the promises were fulfilled in Christ.....Affirmed and Confirmed as per 2 Cor. 1.20. Are you going to put an asterix next to Paul's statement? That's what the Dispensationalists do......a very similar OT hermeneutic.

The Holiness of God's law makes it applicable to all people everywhere and is a common standard?

Then it would cease to be Holy. You don't seem to grasp what are the implications of a covenant and what that would do to our understanding of law.

I ask you, by what standard were the nations rebuked? Where were they condemned for failing to circumcise, failing to sacrifice, keep Sabbath? This shows they are not being held to the standard of Covenant Law........but natural law. Oh you want them held to Theonomy's Moral/civil? Show me where Moses is divided into 3 categories or you 2-fold conflation?

Your philosophical construct won't allow for Natural Law....and thus you're all over the place in how you define law and struggle to make sense of these passages. Yes, your assertions regarding the Prophetic rebukes and indictments make no sense in light of your view of the Law.

Deuteronomy 4 in no way implies the nations were to take up the mantle of Mosaic Law. It would be impossible. What they needed to do was convert and join the Covenant people. Bahnsen was wrong.

I'm not arbitrary.......I'm saying the Mosaic Law is fulfilled. You're picking and choosing which laws and which types you think are still applicable. What gives you the right to slice and dice through the Covenant God made. It either is valid.......or it's not. What tool or razor does the NT give you to do so? Seems rather arbitrary.

Me rejecting the ethics of justice? Hardly. I'm arguing that even fallen nations have concepts of justice. Will it be perfect in this world? Of course not.......the creation groans man. Will that cease at some point before Christ comes?

Again I argue it is Theonomy which profanes the Word. You profane the Mosaic Law. If you take that which is Holy and strip it of it's holiness and apply it to common use. By definition, that is profaning. That's what the word when used as a verb means. It doesn't have to have a negative connotation...maybe you want to try that angle? But you can't escape the fact...that's what you're doing.

If you have a problem with it......then maybe you ought to re-think who hates Biblical Christianity.

I've divorced Christ from His office as King? No, I'm maintaining the Kingdom is Holy. You're saying it is common.......a transformed version of the City of Man. You're saying it incorporates the unregenerate and unholy. Again, this is by definition a profanation. Don't appeal to the composite nature of the visible church.....it certainly is the case, but it's not an ideal we accept and just shrug our shoulders. The reality of hypocrites within our tents does not effect our normative administration. We're supposed to be weeding them out.

Now if you're including nations and cultures under some broad umbrella of the Holy Kingdom.....then by somehow including those people in the fold of God....you've added a tier to the doctrine of the visible church the NT knows nothing of.

Where can you find a volume of Natural Law? Go to your local library and check out any book on cultures of the world......history of civilization. All cultures, Muslim or whatever have basic ideas concerning morality and justice. Imperfect? Yes. Understood wrongly? Yes.

But absolutely sufficient in the Common Grace realm.....because of Providence. He can restrain or unleash to whatever level He deems appropriate. We're looking for a stable and peaceful realm for the Kingdom to operate....nothing more.

The law was explicitly given to Israel, but never to be only hers? It wasn't a Covenant? Did I miss something? Were there Moabites at Sinai? Were there Babylonians crossing the Jordan with Joshua?
Do you mean something else by law? Where's this non-Covenantal law? Where can I find it?

Blank slate? Who said anything about that? It would seem Kuyperianism views the world as a blank slate if you think your sphere blueprints can just transform a very fallen and complex world.

Political use of the Law? To what end? Where do you find Christ or Paul talking about how Rome should employ Moses? Do you mean something else by law? It's not clear.

As far as Bolton......where does Paul share his concern in the NT? Show me even one verse that indicates Paul was concerned with the infanticide or the evils of Roman society. He was concerned about sinners.....but where do I find a Bolton type argument?

It's not there, and you guys know it.

Pelagian Club? I'm sorry but if you think fallen man is capable of keeping and understanding Holy Law.......you're advocating the theology of Charles Finney. If the Law isn't Holy........then where would I find it please? I can argue for a Law that's not Holy and sufficient for fallen man....but you can't.

How can fallen man participate in a Kingdom which he has to be regenerate to even see? What is this Kingdom you want? Where do I find Chiliasm in the NT?

John 18.....Oh I see, Jesus was telling Pilate....Yes, Caesar's throne will be toppled, it's just the authority behind it is Spiritual. That's the obvious meaning of the passage.... Pilate was right to be concerned then, Jesus was indeed a threat to Roman power.

It is amazing the hermeneutical gymnastics you guys engage in.......ESPECIALLY with Christ's own words. It's rather telling that of all the doctrine taught in the NT, it is Christ's own words and actions which cause you the most trouble. Man, the Sermon on the Mount must just drive you crazy.

Rule by the Holy Spirit......gnostic ethereal non-corporal?

Methinks thou treadest mighty close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This is what North does when he posits the church has been a failure for 2000 years.

Quotes from Reformers. Undoubtedly. If you haven't figured it out, I'm saying they were wrong on these issues. They embraced they same Constantinianism of Medieval Catholicism.

If you want to argue over the words of the Reformers, then there's no point in talking. We're not talking about the Bible anymore.

You say,

Since Israel was not only typological there are places where the typology can be appealed to.........

Oh, and where does Paul do that in his view of Rome? What NT tool do we have to do that? Seems rather arbitrary.

Oh you don't like that I say you go beyond the Scriptures in your sphere blueprints? Show me in the NT one place where Paul argues the need to construct a 'Biblical' theory of economics, art, politics? Where? How? The Scriptures are Sufficient for the Church....they are Covenant Documents. We're back to profaning again.....

The Bible tells us how we as Christians should view and interact with the Common Grace culture, but nowhere does it provide a Comprehensive System to answer the problems of the world. Kuyper and Van Til asking the wrong questions constructed faulty models which have opened up a whole universes of dilemmas and questions which are outside the scope of Scripture. Yes, says me.

They are not solvable problems. Even solutions and models which look good on paper.....fail miserably because of fallen man. Unless you have some kind of optimistic view of fallen man that he'll just do the right thing.....

We are to give an answer for the hope within us...this doesn't mean we have to answer Keynes or Adam Smith. As Christians we already know their systems are in the end bankrupt. And the NT doesn't expect us to construct an answer to them. It tells us how to live regardless of the system. Adam Smith's economics are also dependent on a Pelgian view of man.....a miserable failure when it comes into contact with fallen man. You don't find the Puritans advocating a system like that, do you?

Gnostic? Dualist? Yes, the Waldensians and others were accused of the same thing in the Middle Ages for rejecting the Sacral Monism of Christendom. I can call you names to....Sacralist and Constantinian. And yes, Monist. You fail to understand the plethora of unresolvable dialectical tensions within the Scripture and the Composite nature of the City of Man. It contains citizens of both Satan's realm....and Christ's. Sacralists cannot conceive of a Composite society so they pull out a theological version of Ockham's Razor and start attacking the dualisms of Scripture.

My theology's 'age to come' does not roll back this present wicked age, thus covering the whole earth? It's called the Blessed Hope man. Your version of 'rolling back' is rather anticlimactic. We'll have a chiliastic utopia with sin and death still present and one in which we cease to be Pilgrims. No thanks, I'll take the Heavenly Kingdom and lay my treasures up there. A kingdom with North as Prime Minister, and Einwechter as Foreign Secretary.......falls far short of the NT expectation.

Why don't we leave each other alone?

If that's what you want. I've been watching you spout off your invective on the internet for years on sites like CovenantNews. I wanted to see if you had any arguments beyond the normal fare. Your camp is answered and refuted time and again, but because of your numbers and your volume you just press ahead. I commend you. Your movement has largely captured the Reformed world. They might not take your label, but they've got your ideas. Even Arminian Dispensationalists are teaching your concepts and employing your terms....I hear it on the radio all the time.

One camp or the other wrong.....and the stakes are about as high as they can be. If you win, which thankfully I don't believe you will......I'll be in the underground preaching and teaching against you. It would be just like the Middle Ages all over again. That's the vision you have. You're just going to do it right this time.......right?

Society as sacred is an inescapable category? Sure. But I'm not advocating an Amil sacred society. You misunderstand the foundational principle of Amillennialism to assert that. The only sacred society..is the Church of Jesus Christ. What the other societies are in the City of Man......doesn't matter, as long we don't confuse our City with theirs.....which is exactly what you're doing.

A society set apart to Christ, but still common? Who's talking nonsense now?

I want a society where the church is sacred but it lives in a society that is always sacred to some other religion????

Uh....aren't we exiles? Pilgrims? When did that change?

You say you want a society where the church is sacred and so produces a society that, while common, is because of the presence of a sacred Church, set apart unto Christ......

You're all over the place with holy and common. You don't seem to understand what a covenant is. This is your vision? This our hope? How depressing. What a reductionist view of Christ's Kingdom!

What I meant by trying not to be mean was.......I wasn't trying to attack you as a person. I don't know you. Am I accusing you of the things you listed? Yes. In addition I'm saying you come perilously close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

And with Kline (your favourite I know) I argue.....

"Latent in the Apocalyptic symbolism is an even more direct contradiction of dominion theology's postmillennial eschatology. The melding of church with the state and its coercive power, the arrangement which theonomic reconstructionism regards as the kingdom ideal to be attained during the millennium, is precisely what is anathematized in the Apocalypse as the harlot-Babylon church, the monstrous perversion of the true church."

That's why I am engaging people like you. This is where you would take the Church. Your camp says as much. Doug Wilson praises the Medieval Sacral order. That's where it ends up. That's why I'm warning people, pleading with them. Your system appeals to people's flesh. Power....settling scores. Kevin Swanson can't stop talking about killing people. This is not Christ's Kingdom.

I'm sure you've come across these arguments before, but you of all people calling me arrogant.....that's laying it on a bit thick.

For all the discussion regarding the Law you don't seem to understand what it is and what it is for. How can you read the book of Hebrews? It must baffle you.

I also notice you profess to love Tolkien, utterly baffling to me. It's the same as when Theonomists like Jane Austen. Totally missing the point........

Don't you see the Shire was not the Holy Roman Empire...but Merrie England....the romanticized old Saxon world, a society unstructured and free in comparison to the Norman Yoke of Feudalism and the Christendom of the continent?

Don't you see the Ring as symbolizing the very power...the power so dangerous it cannot be used because it will always corrupt and instead of a Rivendell or Lothlorien you end up with a Barad-dur? Don't you see you're Boromir....you want the power, but you refuse to understand, it cannot be used. The Bride ends up becoming a whore.....

Don't you see the Hobbits are insignificant, the weak, overcoming the Strong? That's the Kingdom idea. Now Tolkien doesn't escape Sacralism either......Gondor is certainly the HRE or Byzantium, but this would seem to be a bifurcation in Tolkien's Ideal. Certainly though, his heart is in the Shire.

Glad for the exchange....I've learned several things from you, though not what you intended.


John A.


David said...

I enjoy your blog and your perspective. I too am ardently against Christians vying for control of government. It is a distortion of the true calling as the people of God - we are not to outwardly coerce moral living through control over others, but to seek inward transformation through evangelism and by being a light through our conformity to Christ. It is through our humility, servitude, submission, and even suffering (in other words, our Christ-likeness) that we transform culture. That being said, I have a couple of questions for you. I personally dislike labels and have avoided them for the most part. As of late, however, I adopted the title of reformed as an easy method of identification. There is much I respect that came out of the reformation, the puritans, the Westminster Confession, etc., so I finally just adopted that name so that I didn't have to get a dumb look and say "ummm..." every time someone asked me what denomination I belonged to. First, I was curious if there is a larger movement, or some sort of name or label for what you are representing, or do you stand alone. Second question: even if we say that the OT law is not binding on men and women today, is there not still indirect application to the degree that God's law reflects aspects of his character. In other words, I would not say that obedience to the Mosaic law is required of anyone today (especially not those in Christ), however can we not view God's provision and care for the poor and needy within the law, for instance, as having significance in our understanding of God. Especially as this care is reinforced in the NT writings. Can we not learn from aspects of God's character reflected in his law? Just curious as to what your take is on this.

Protoprotestant said...

David, I didn't want to give you just a quick answer to your thoughtful letter, so I went ahead and typed out a fuller response. Rather than cram it into the comments, I'm just posting as the next blog article.

Thanks.........John A.