My Frustration… a diatribe against Factionalism and what it has produced.
*a warning...This is written for a largely Reformed audience. I'm assuming familiarity with the various factions and debates.
Prior to the Reformation, the medieval underground was spread all throughout Europe though concentrated in some areas more than others. We don't know how exactly how these groups were organized. The best way to put it from the data we have is to say some were fairly well organized; other groups were barely organized at all. With this came a diversity in individual beliefs and practices by each individual group.
Though I can't be sure, I would like to think there was probably a fair degree of tolerance among these people seeing that the very attendance on secret meetings, carrying the Scriptures and other writings, and proselytizing carried the harshest penalties. It cost something to be a Christian and the evident danger would help to foster a certain de facto communitarian ethic, not to mention love.
Today, we live in a post-Reformation world with even more history behind us and with the multiplication of sects and other theologies, those who are trying to maintain the faith exercise different and increasingly divisive means to maintain the integrity of their sect, or to use the more common nomenclature, their denomination. A bad spirit of Factionalism has arisen complete with all the necessary watch-words and in some cases checklists for theology and piety.
The Unity of the medieval underground was built on common commitments to an idea of The Kingdom of God and the right authority for the people of God, the Kingdom's citizens. Today the Unity seems to be built on identification with a faction. For those of us who refuse to sign on to the agenda of a particular camp and understand the New Testament Unity as something forged by the Spirit rather than something maintained by forms of subscription…life in the Kingdom is frustrating and often lonely. It is a life outside the camp.
Dwelling for the most part within the Reformed world I have come to both appreciate and despise the many streams of thought which have emanated from this very lively tradition. I appreciate the commitments of so many to responsibly study the Word of God and apply it. But I am less appreciative of the partisan spirit which demands complete submission to the agenda and its categories.
Perhaps we've overdeveloped our Theology, working things out to such an extent that whenever someone presents a different angle we immediately reason it back a posteriori and conclude the gospel is being overthrown? Oversimplifying our Aristotelian commitments won't recognize the complexity of the Biblical data and allow for diverse methodologies, diverse emphases, and certainly different starting points and trajectories. That's not to say all methods and starting points are valid, but something was lost with the Reformation. Religious Wars, inter-Protestant conflicts, and Sacralist cultural and political issues haven't helped. Persecution may be the only hope for theological détente.
In Reformed Circles today we are experiencing something that has reminded me of Amyrauldianism in 17th century Huguenot circles. Men like John Cameron and Moise Amyraut proposed theological constructs which they believed were not only faithful to the Bible, but also in line with what Calvin himself taught.
Reformed Scholasticism had completely taken over and though many of the theological conclusions were the same there was a difference in method and emphasis. The clash came; Amyraut was essentially defeated though never understood. Calvin continued to be read through the Scholastic lens, and Amyraut's theology was interpreted through this same lens. And the result? Today Amyrault is caricatured as some kind of blatantly inconsistent 4 pt. Calvinist. Anyone familiar with the issue realizes 4pt Calvinism is a complete misrepresentation and anyone familiar with Amyraut realizes the Scholastics of his day could not understand him due to their methodological commitments and the Scholastics of our day are in the same boat…or perhaps even worse.
Brian Armstrong's 'Calvinism and the Amyraut Heresy,' is a must read. The book has often been attacked as one might expect. For if Armstrong is right, Calvinism needs to examine itself. Frame as always, writes provocative and thoughtful reviews and is worth looking up. I like Frame. I almost never agree with him, but always find him interesting. The same can be said regarding his review of Armstrong. Alan Clifford of Norwich has also written a few things of interest regarding Amyraut.
Within Reformed Christianity we have several factions as of late. We have Federal Visionists who have picked up on the dichotomy or dialectic in the realms of soteriology and ecclesiology. They seem to grasp the interplay between the Visible and Invisible, the different categories of Covenant and even the different contextual applications of Election. They have grasped the unity and complexity of the Biblical soteriology…the dynamic between temporal administration/ manifestation and eternal reality/eschatological form. They have also understood Ecclesiastical linguistics in application. It is more accurate to speak in the visible category for the normative operation of the Church. This is not to deny the eternal reality (which may not match)… but to acknowledge both categories may employ exclusive language and yet are not separate. They are not afraid of systemic failure when the Bible sometimes employs sacerdotal language. And they have, I think, a much better understanding of the place of children in the life of the church, which would include participation in the sacraments. They have been attacked as heretics and are on the verge of being run out of conservative Presbyterian circles.
On the other hand, they are committed to Neo-Kuyperian views of culture, dominionism and postmillennialism. They are unabashed Constantinian Sacralists. Their philosophical Van Tillianism has driven them to a hyper-sola scriptura, a Monistic and Integrationist worldview. Mono-covenantal structures driven by their Integrationist agenda have led them to completely miss the dialectical tension and interplay between the Old and New Covenants, leading them to completely misunderstand the nature and purpose of the Old Covenant and the typological lessons pertaining to Eden and the two Adams. Systematic commitments define the doctrine of the Kingdom and destroy the antithesis so essential for the life of the Church.
Practically speaking they are medieval romanticists who would repeat the Holy Roman Empire…just do it right this time. Their theology has driven them to high-church traditionalist liturgy which is contrary to the New Testament. Sacralism dominates their thinking as exhibited in Wilson's 'Angels in the Architecture,' a book find theologically offensive.
So I can appreciate much about them, but at the same time completely deplore much of what they stand for. On a practical level, worshipping and fellowshipping with them would be very difficult. Despite some conceptual and theological similarities, our basic understanding of why we're here is in diametric opposition. All these views which I consider to be grossly destructive are tolerated but the other camps in identifying Sola Fide as the mark of the church have gone after them. The funny part is the Federal Vision does not deny Sola Fide. They are accused of it, but I've not heard one of them deny it. Their opponents can't grasp what they're saying. Their minds are not trained to think in those categories and it affects how they read the Bible. I wish the Federal Visionists would apply these same views of logic and systemic subordination to the rest of the Scriptures.
Then we have the Redemptive-Historical, Biblical Theology, or Vosian/Klinean camp. By subordinating Systematics to Redemptive-Historical development they have properly developed the tension between the Old and New Covenants. Recognizing substantial unity but form discontinuity and typical overlay, they have come to a proper understanding of the purpose, typology, and ethical considerations of the Old Testament and the nature of the Kingdom in the new…and with Kline especially, a far superior understanding of the Christ and Culture debate. Not as bound by traditional Calvinistic subscription they often have a better and more balanced view of the Reformed Heritage with its strengths and weaknesses. I agree with Lee Irons on the issue of the Decalogue and the erroneous Westminster 3-fold division of the law. I understand what he was saying culturally regarding homosexuality and the misguided culture war the Christo-American church is engaged in. And like the Federal Vision men, I don't think his opponents have grasped what he is saying. In this case the dialectical dichotomy and multi-layered relationship between the Covenants is operating in categories beyond the understanding of the average Reformed Presbyter or their Monistic commitments won't allow them to even entertain the possibility of the Scriptures teaching something else.
Going beyond redemptive-historical development they have certain Systematic commitments as well. In terms of Justification, their Two-Adams understanding I think is quite Biblical, but I think has limited their overall understanding of Salvation. A hyper-Calvinist tendency has led them to an almost abstractive ecclesiology and has practically speaking more or less negated the doctrine of Sanctification, and ultimately leads to Baptistic theology, meaning the externals are basically abstractions rather than equally valid and normative concrete categories.
In the case of the Genesis account, Redemptive-historical typology and chiastic formation seems to have run amuck, leading them to be accused of heresy and being crypto-evolutionists. I think these charges are exaggerated but even though I am a great fan of Kline, I am more than a little uncomfortable with some of his language regarding Creation. His theology is absolutely fascinating and some of the most stimulating stuff I've ever read, but sometimes I think the structure is over-systematically developed, too dependent on sometimes on very obscure arguments which are then developed ad infinitum.
Kline's commentary of Zechariah's Night Visions is one of the few theological page-turners I've ever encountered. His understanding of apocalyptic imagery is without parallel.
Despite all this I would love to fellowship with these people, but due to the fact they would say I'm teaching a false gospel, it makes it somewhat impossible. I could put up with the hyper-Calvinistic and Baptistic tendencies I see because I think the overall Kingdom vision would allow for great fellowship. Sadly, this group is a tiny minority entrenched in a few geographic locales and largely excluded from others.
I appreciate certain aspects of what the Multiperspectivalist group has tried to. I love their non-factional spirit, their broad thinking….not missing the forest through the trees. And I think Frame and Poythress have much to offer in their methodology…not entirely unlike what I'm saying here. Yet, I fear there are model based tendencies….always having to find the triad even when it's not there. Also, I think there are indeed dangers of epistemological and thus hermeneutical subjectivism. No slavish follower of Van Til, I do see in Frame the Integrationist tendency which is an abuse of Sola Scriptura. Integrationism, a comprehensive system hermeneutic applied to culture is bad enough but when it incorporates subjective epistemology it can be potentially quite dangerous and becomes quite obvious in his discussions regarding ethics and politics. That said, there is an irenic and embracing aspect to this school allowing for considerable rapprochement between the camps. I wouldn't want to go to Frame's church but I would love to have him for a next door neighbour. I could sit around the fire with him every night and enjoy good discussion.
I also appreciate much of what I guess would call The White Horse Inn theology is trying to accomplish. There's a healthy Reformed ecumenicist spirit and overall they're not too different than the Klinean camp. I am a bit more dubious when it comes to some of their cultural critique and notions of what constitutes good culture, culture we should build. Their Biblical Two Kingdoms doctrine keeps them from abusing this, but the Ken Myers/Gene Veith concepts of vocation and what constitutes good culture are completely subjective and are actually heavily dependent, absolutely dependent on Sacralist concepts, and are to me quite mistaken.
In my view the most and least attractive group is what I would call the mainstream Reformed. In my own mind I often think of them as the Princeton School or even the Dabney school. Recognizing they are almost universally Van Tillian today, this school has an overall understanding of Theology akin to the 19th century theologies of Princeton and southerners like Dabney. I realize there are differences even between those traditions. Practically speaking I find most who belong to this camp have some hyper-Calvinistic tendencies and tend to be Baptistic. Some strains like the Banner of Truth associated people have a warm pietistic element to them, follow more or less the Regulative Principle, and are less inclined to culture war. On a practical level these are people I'm very happy to worship with and their sermons will probably be good for the soul, but will too often lack the real meat I desire and I think is necessary to ever stimulate reformation. The lack of understanding of the dynamics of Scripture and an almost non-existent understanding of redemptive-history leaves their theology sometimes lacking……though let me qualify, it is vastly superior to the other options on the American scene.
Though I love these people, their commitment to Creedal-Systematic Calvinism leaves them the least likely to understand not only the Federal Vision and Biblical Theology Camps, but my own views which incorporates elements from both of those camps and even more.
What is often the most frustrating with some of these folks is their insistence on fidelity to historic Reformed Christianity. And yet I rarely find it among them. In fact certain constructs, like Kline's Edenic Covenant of Works and the Mosaic law being a republication of it is considered novelty or even called Dispensationalism, when in fact on those issues Kline is basically standing with the Puritans.
The Regulative Principle and especially the theology behind it, is just not understood. Mono-covenantal theology cannot fathom it and though Dabney and the Hodges loved it, their descendants do not.
Disallowing my own views of the Sacraments, the modern American Reformed presbyter is functionally a Baptist and coupled with Christo-American political consciousness there isn't much difference between many of these folks and the average Evangelical. The Reformed variety is just a bit more serious about the Bible and believes in predestination.
I can certainly in most cases, worship with these folks but the fellowship is often hindered and a bit shallow. My frustration is not with the people in the pews, but rather with the leadership who more often seem to elevate job security and factional fidelity over commitment to the Scriptures. The overall vision is a bit depressing and in these circles I am condemned to silence. I'm used to it. Some of the Dutch Reformed groups are better when it comes to worship, but the Dutch Kuyperian heritage which absolutely permeates their thinking is a mistake. One doesn't need to look at the extreme examples of modern Holland or Apartheid South Africa to see it. The New Testament itself refutes these notions. The revered Kuyper has actually proven to be one of the most destructive forced in modern Reformed Christianity. The Protestant Reformed are right to critique him but wrong in their critique. The problem is Monistic Sacralism. Kuyper's historical and cultural naiveté are very apparent in the famed Stone Lectures.
The most objectionable grouping is one I would label the Clark-Hoeksema camp. I realize this isn't a unified group but there are certain traits they have in common. Primarily these camps exhibit a hyper-Rationalism which has led to sometimes extreme hyper-Calvinism. Functionally they are all Baptists, even though for historical-traditional reasons they may baptize infants. The Theology crowns Election as king and logic is the scepter by which it rules. This would be the extreme example of what I would Theological Nominalism. Clark was certainly a Platonic Realist, but for him that seemed to mean setting up the Bible as the Universal and then employing logic to deduce the particulars. Sounds good, but his almost deification of logic in the end won't allow the Bible to function. The Universal-Particulars I'm talking about, the dialectical tensions and interplays are categorically rejected by Clark, Robbins, and Hoeksema. So in the end, Clark is Rationalist par excellence, just by deduction rather than starting with the particulars and inductively reasoning to the Universals. In the end, the methodology of logic demands validity and proofs and so even Clark has to employ Aristotelian type thinking to validate his own theorems. They have to work backwards (as he would see it) in order for them to be coherent. But at that point again whether you’re arguing top-down like Plato or bottom–up like Aristotle, you're really Aristotelian. Clark's source, his a priori axiom might be the Bible, but his method is king. And in the end, though the Scriptures or even Logic itself might be The Universal, the theology won't allow for universal and particular dichotomy, it won't allow for theological concrete universals. It's theological Nominalism…it won't allow concrete dualisms. They either destroy systemic integrity and are unhelpful as per Ockham's Razor, or they are seemingly blatant violations of the law of non-contradiction. I'm calling for a Theological Realism…a Biblically defined solution to the Problem of the Universals cast in Biblical Categories. Even the logic employed to discern those Categories is defined by the Person of Christ in the Scripture. I am not like Clark advocating a Platonic Epistemology, rather a quasi-Platonic view of the Universals. The defining, categorizing, and explaining of the Universal and Particulars is the task of the Bible. Our task is to read it in submission.
Hoeksema represents the Dutch manifestation of this type of thinking. The tone of worship in their churches is excellent and by all reports they are pious and all around great people, their theology, while certainly zealous to glorify God is not Scriptural. Kuyper's Common Grace was an abuse of the Biblical concept but Hoeksema's PRC goes too far. Though on a functional level I think they have a pretty good understanding of the Kingdom and our expectations. In terms of Practical Eschatology, their Amillennialism is sound though lacks some of the development you'll find with Klinean/BT folks. I appreciate their stance concerning the Greek text of the New Testament. I also appreciate their attempt to follow the Scriptures in terms of worship song and music, but their somewhat strange hybrid represents yet another triumph of systemic logic over the Redemptive-Historical textual data.
Concerning the gospel offer and many of the questions they frame, I not only disagree, but reject the questions they are even asking. I was on one website where I wanted to interact with one author's revision to the 5pts. I would say the 5pts taken alone and established as a foundational framework leads to hyper-Calvinism. For the website author the 5pts didn't go far enough and he was advocating an 8pt model , the additional points buttressing the chronological decretalism their hyper-Systematics leads to. At first the article caught my eye because he was calling the 5pts an insufficient model and frequently used out of context. I couldn't agree more. But what he meant was…they weren't Calvinist enough. This is Systematics at its worst…Scholasticism out of control. I tried to register with the site but was frustrated by an extensive questionnaire where most of the queries were framed so that I couldn't answer them. With these folks you enter a world of hyper-inductive watchword theology and you had better get it right! The gospel offer is not sincere so it's not really an offer. Faith cannot be a duty because God wouldn't command the non-elect to do something they can't. Saving Faith is knowledge and assent not trust because that would mean the believer plays some part. To me, their doctrine of Saving Faith is very much akin to Arminian Decisionalism. It's magic. For the Arminian you sign the prayer card, or come forward at the altar call….say the sinner's prayer (form of words)….and you're eternally secure. For the Clark/Hoeksema crowd, the ability to understand and verbally express the truth of Election is the sign of true belief. They have a lot of little sayings and maxims that go along with it and it is not without warrant that some have accused them of an almost secret-initiation type view of saving faith. I think James calls it the faith of demons…no saving faith at all.
Needless to say, if Election is the genesis and telos of your system all externals are indeed useless or abstract concepts at best. This is theological antinomianism at its worst. It is a thoroughly individualistic Baptistic theology. It is no surprise at all that Gary Crampton recently converted to being Reformed Baptist. He just followed through on the logical implications of his theology.
Elsewhere I've mentioned Sherman Isbell's article, 'The Preached Covenant.' He interacts with the theology of Hoeksema and is quite bold and I believe accurate in his assessment of it.
In some ways the real debate in Reformed circles is a full-orbed Augustinianism v. Ockham……..or to re-cast it in broad philosophical terms Plato v. hyper-Aristotle.
Then we have all the different sub-sets which more or less can be categorized with the camps above. You have Joe Morecraft's little Presbyterian denomination which is to my thinking another variety of hyper-Calvinistic and Sacralist Christo-americanism.
You have various groups that have tied the gospel in with Quiverfull, Agrarianism, and/or Political Activism. There's overlap of course. Vision Forum has functioned as an umbrella group for several of these strains. They also tie in a revisionist-propaganda view of American history and are waiting for the big fall so they can build a new-Constantinianism. Morecraft is involved with these folks as well, many who seem to be Reformed Baptist. Sproul jr. and the Patriarch magazine people have similar views.
As I've written elsewhere I can appreciate much about these groups, but the motivations are very different and with some of them the American gun-toting John Wayne stuff becomes pretty repugnant. As a student of history, I find their publications and educational curricula deplorable. Despite their claims they are teaching their children to think as Christians, they are propagandizing them to be militant culture warriors for the coming reconstruction. There is very little room for true thought in those camps. The assumptions are unassailable, though built on weak sand.
There are so many more little groups but with all of them it seems like you either have to sign on or hit the road.
Outside of Reformed circles, I have a real appreciation for some of the Anabaptist heritage groups. The big issue here is their categorical rejection of Sacralist Power. Their kingdom ethics put most Reformed people to shame. While sometimes seeming overly naïve or simplistic their down-home attitudes about materialism, consumerism, economics, and politics are refreshing when compared to the sophistries so often encountered in mainstream Christian circles when it comes to living the Sermon on the Mount. Here is where Sacralism and Americanism really come through. Unrestricted Free-market Capitalism, individualistic social ethics, militarism, and a latent prosperity gospel suddenly show up in Reformed Christianity and the Anabaptist groups seem like a breath of fresh air. That is until your spirit is crushed by their legalism which often takes the form of absurd and often arbitrary requirements concerning clothing, dress, and other 'standards'. For the Amish the ordnung is the gospel. And once again, unless you dot your i's and cross your t's just like them down to your buttons and your tires…you're out.
In terms of Church History they largely ignore the main currents that moved through Roman Catholic Entity…which I will admit can be a waste of time. Yet, I find all history profitable even when depressing. Their history is an appeal to the medieval underground and the Martyr's Mirror. While not as appreciative of the actual Anabaptists, in terms of Sacralism they were more right than wrong. And generally they are misrepresented in most of the Reformed literature. The Belgic Confession is wrong to insinuate they're anarchists. But Monist-grounded Sacralism has a hard time understanding Two-Kingdom dichotomy. To the writers of the confession a rejection of Sacralism had to mean no government at all! They couldn't even grasp the concepts the humble and simple Anabaptists were trying to argue. Luther via Augustine grasped them…on paper. But in practice he was quite the opposite and only grew worse culminating in his anti-Semitic rants near the end of his life. Pure Sacralism.
The Reformed could learn something from some of these folks. They have a better sense of community and are willing to sacrifice bourgeoisie values and comfort for it. They are trying to live as Christians and have totally different concepts about material goods and money. Can it become legalistic? Sure, but that's no excuse to swing the other way and embrace values which fly in the face of the teaching of Jesus Christ.
As I've said a Kingdom ethic requires me to treat my neighbour as myself. That doesn't work very well economically. I know the Free Market evangelists try and say the market corrects itself, but history defeats such a Pelagian notion. I'm not saying I'm some wonderful Christian that gives all my money away. Far from it. In fact I don't give that much away because the choices I've made and the way I choose to live has left me without a great deal of money.
Nor am I saying as Jim Wallis would that Christian American Government should force us to love our neighbour. I'm not a Capitalist or a Socialist…neither system works. Capitalism looks great and equitable on paper but fails abominably because of people. Socialism creates a stable society, promotes community values and concern, and still allows plenty of class division but allows the rich to relax a bit, because they live in a more stable society. Socialism goes wrong when the State starts to become the Beast and people begin to rest in (theologically) the State. It doesn't work either. Europe is a lovely place, largely clean, orderly, and peaceful, with a standard of living much higher than the United States. Yet, the people there are conditioned to conform and accept certain normative attitudes and values. Some are compatible with Christianity, some are not. Capitalist systems can become Beasts as well. We live in one. Britain was one….and modern Britain exhibits something of an exception to what I said above about Europe. They're experiencing social breakdown…out of control petty crime and hooliganism. The state is oppressive. Socialism imploding. I love to visit but I wouldn't want to live there.
Italy was a delightful paradox. On the books they are as strict as any Socialist state, but their almost genetic cultural inefficiency means the government is sometimes non-existent. The inefficiency also means lower standards of roads and things like that…but what a delightful country. I would move there tomorrow if I could. The north is better than the south as far as standard of living. It has long been the economic powerhouse, hearkening back to the days of the Venetian Republic and the Habsburg domains….but the south has its charms as well. It's more the stereotype we might have in the American mind. Charmingly run-down and dirty, a gritty wonderland of romantic ruins, astounding food and animated people, the south is an assault on the senses. The north is majestic beauty, some of the best scenery in Europe, layers of history, fantastic food, delightful cities, and proximity to even more wonders…Switzerland, France, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. It doesn't get any better. I am thankful for the many months I spent there.
Sorry for the aside….my point was that we've taken many American values and our tendency to extreme and equated it with New Testament Christianity. There's something wrong when we view Capitalism as the Christian economic system…
when it promotes and rewards greed…
unregulated competition drives hyper-efficiency, which crushes the worker and gives the consumer ever cheaper products…
the competition structure, the quest for monopoly, is designed (or due to lack of design) to obliterate your opponent(s) either ruining them or causing them to ruin others (workers, overseas workers) in the process…
the drive to invest capital leads to ethically questionable behavior and structures…the casino-stock market, get rich quick schemes…call me naïve, but I think we should work with our hands and earn an honest day's pay for an honest day's work.
And if you don't think that kind of system breeds government corruption and affects the ability of the judiciary to function……..well, I think you're woefully misinformed. The reality is the system has overthrown the Republic and given us a Plutocracy where often profits are privatized and losses are socialized, because the monopolistic entities are so tied in with the Political Structure and National Security, their failure leads to national collapse. Recently the government has appeared to take over some of these institutions and subjected them to harsh regulation, but there are some who would argue it is the bankers who benefit in the long run as they have an even bigger stake and participation the government and the implications for domestic and foreign policy are staggering.
I could go on but I didn't mean to write about economics. Our country is run by criminals and when the criminals can't be dealt with the government, which wields limited highly-influenced political power, can either face social disorder, breakdown, and chaos, or try to compensate by legislating a social safety net. I would rather see them take on the crooks. But unless the political system is reformed, no populist leader will ever be able to touch those at the top. And the increasingly disenfranchised poor, shut out from the scale of justice due to lack of funds will grow more restless and in the end violent. The government is trying to prevent conditions leading to shanty-towns, crime and chaos.
So we have bread and circuses…..Paul didn't seem concerned. Skip the circuses…if you need some bread, than take it. We're not looking for utopia.
But in the Christian church in America we reward the attitudes that built this system. We warn but it has no teeth. Let's face it, the majority of Reformed congregations are rather well to do. Many are very wealthy. But how are they attaining and maintaining this wealth?
Again there's no real answer to all this. I've run into many who try to only deal with this or that company…in a globalized world, you won't accomplish anything other than making yourself nuts.
A while back, I was injured and was forced to seek other employment. I approached a local Christian business man who was looking for some additional help so he could have more time available for his own political aspirations. He railed against the Dems..Dems this and Dems that, and yet in the end I was offered $9 hour. For this privilege I had to turn in a resume and was subjected to rather extensive interviews. He was shocked when on my tax form I declared my wife and four children. "Oh, you don't want to do that," he said. "You'll get slammed with taxes at the end of the year with that many deductions."
This man was so ignorant of reality it astonished me. At $9 an hour, I'm not going to have to pay income tax. Rather, I'm going to have sign up for every subsidy possible just to survive. Since my wife doesn't work, I'm going to by necessity have to get another job and end up working 60-70 hours a week and thus harm my family in the process. This man didn't realize the programs he railed on are in reality government subsidies not for me the worker, but for him, the employer. He should be happy to pay his taxes, because if we didn't have the programs and people like him were in charge, our country would become like Tijuana…extreme wealth next to shanty-town poverty and quite unstable. He should thank the Democrats for providing him with safe streets and for allowing him to run his business in such an unethical manner. If we lived in a system that had no subsidies he would be forced to pay more in order to get anyone to work there, decreasing his profit. And most certainly he would have to spend a lot of money on security, increasing his overhead. I question the ethics of this 'Christian' businessman who claims to be pro-family in his politics, when his business practices are absolutely anti-family. I cannot as a Christian father work outside my home 70 hours a week. That is sin, but I would be driven to do so by this man. I cannot turn to the church for aid, because they refuse to give as the Scriptures teach and hide under the cloak of 'stewardship'. They force the poor to turn to the government and then convince them of the ethical necessity of voting against their own interests. My wife were she to ignore the Scriptures and work outside the home would not only be in sin, but we would no longer be able to homeschool our children raising other issues. This businessman needs to stay out of politics, read his Bible, and re-think his worldview.
The 'biblical' worldview he has been taught by Chuck Colson and Francis Schaeffer is the complete opposite of the Biblical one. I'm not at all politically active, but I think I might get involved if I see this man running for office. He is a shame and disgrace to the church, and I quit after the first day. I found it ethically offensive to work for him. Not long after I was able to return to my normal work and make a better wage.
Some might say I should do something else for a living, make more money so that I can give it away. I'm not very convinced when I see Reformed churches with $6 million dollar budgets, staffs of twenty, thirty…fifty people…all making nice money with benefits. They're spending millions on building projects, thousands on lawn care, and I don't even want to bring up the criminal waste that is occurring in the mission bureaucracy. The average person in Hungary is living on maybe $500 a month and yet when I looked into going as a missionary to Hungary with a particular organization I won't name….I had to raise $5000mo. in support! I don't make anything near that here in the United States. Oh, I know you have to pay for administrative fees, 401K, health insurance, etc….never mind I don't have it here. Plus, my wife would have to work….again, that's another issue.
Christian ministries are often a racket. I'm sorry to say that, but I firmly believe it. I think a lot of people don't understand how non-profits function and what 'things' can be categorized as belonging to the ministry. There are some pretty insane salaries with nice perks out there in some of these so-called ministries.
I know many people who think the modern application of not turning the Father's house into house of merchandise means we shouldn't have rummage sales in our church buildings.
That's more than missing the point. The buildings are not holy….just structures that could serve as well being a barn or concert hall. Often they are a curse. Anyway, I would say the Father's house is the church, and these who are profiting so extravagantly from the people of God, making their money by exploiting God's people……well, I think you see where I would go with that.
In the end, since my tendency is to look at the big picture I can see where every group has some things right and some things wrong. I can see many opportunities for rapprochement between them. But because I won't sign on to a camp…it would seem I'm largely left outside the camp. My frustration.
This too led me many years ago, to start looking at the medieval dissenters and the basis of their unity. It's a bit of a mess as well. You have legalistic Unitas Fratrum, and militant Taborites….Lollards who at first took up the sword in the Peasant's Revolt of 1381 and Oldcastle's rebellion a generation later. But they seemed to learn their lesson and took up the sword no more. The Waldenses largely eschewed the sword except for the times they were fiercely persecuted…in anger and rage one would take out an Inquisitor to put an end to the crushing vice. No, they didn't have it all right, but there's something to learn. There's a lot of diversity among these groups…
Often they are picked up by other factions and suddenly all the Waldenses were Baptists, which they weren't. Or, they were all seventh-day Sabbatarians, which they weren't. Or they were medieval Calvinists, which they weren't.
For the Form-Necessity minded, the medieval underground is maddeningly chaotic. The unity was in the Spirit, a non-Sacralist vision of the Kingdom, and a commitment to Biblical Authority.
What's our unity today?