24 June 2012

My Credentials and Views on Education- 10


If I started a ministry or institution I could receive funding and sit and write scholarly articles. If anyone published them, those that chose to read them would say the same thing I've been hearing for years....they disagree but find what I'm saying to be interesting and worthy of consideration....or would they even bother saying that I wonder?
Institution A and B work within the same general framework. If B critiques A, then A has to respond. There's a threat to their standing, but actually A and B really need each other, they keep each other going. They don't agree but it's critical they operate within the same larger circle. As long as they do this, they can continue to perpetuate, almost feed off each other.

But if C comes along and critiques both A and B, what do they do? Sometimes they choose to ignore C and thus refuse to grant C credibility or standing. In my case I'm too iconoclastic to fit within respectable circles. It's not in their interests to engage arguments like mine. Engaging them means they're credible. Why would they wish to do that? Their survival depends on monopolizing the conversation. Expanding it will only weaken them.
I've watched something similar happen with regard to Theonomy. The movement arose in the late 1960's, but it really took off in the 1980's and 1990's. The cultural climate of the 1970's led to the formation of various reactionary movements within conservative Christian circles. The rise of Bill Clinton energized the Christian Right like never before and the message of Theonomy became very attractive. Obama's first year in office, (2009) was just a hyper-energized repeat of 1993 when Clinton took over. The rhetoric coming out of the Right was almost exactly the same. He'd ruin America, he was a Marxist, and on it went. Why do I remember it so well? Because in 1993 I was one of the Rightists saying those things about Clinton.
While some were uncomfortable with Theonomy's pure or what might be reckoned extreme forms...the Mosaic Law's Penal Codes for America...most were happy to embrace the greater concept of Christian America. In a broad sense Theonomy and Dominionism have become mainstream, the present day orthodoxy. Westminster Seminary's California campus (Westminster West) has long been of a different theological persuasion, and they produced "Theonomy: A Reformed Critique" in 1990. The book didn't sell well and is now out of print. Many others have written books and articles completing refuting Theonomy and Dominionism, but the message doesn't resonate with American Christians who for various reasons desperately want to wage culture war and grasp for political power. If Two Kingdom theology is valid which I argue it is...it is a repudiation of Americanism, and most of American Christianity. That alone is enough to know it won't be popular. It's not only against the theological grain, it strikes at the root of what many think (erroneously) is the foundation of American Culture.*
Theonomists continue to argue they've never been refuted. No one can successfully critique them. The commercial failure of the Westminster critique vindicates them. Does it?
I would say their arguments have been both repeatedly and completely defeated. The 'Critique' volume was sufficient in answering their assertions, but there are many more articles and books which decimate their position and expose it as unbiblical. In Reformed circles a massive amount of energy was wasted in showing that their views aren't quite compatible with the Westminster Confession, but that's a minor point to me.
Their popularity grew because their message sells and because it involves a quest for power and empowerment, people get out their checkbooks. There are a myriad of Theonomic and Dominionist 'ministries' and institutions. As we entered the 2000's many began to drop the name Theonomy. Two of the three founders were dead and the schisms within the movement had become accentuated. As a name it was too polarizing, they were getting a lot of negative media attention as people began to write about it in the late 1990's. With Bush's election in 2000, an army of journalists was at work trying to dissect and explain the Christian Right to the American public. The label Theonomy has largely been eschewed, but they have in no way abandoned its doctrines. Dominionism which embraces a larger umbrella of ideas has become the vehicle to bring its ideas to bear.
 In some cases they've have some serious money behind them. They win not because their arguments are sound or better but because they've got the resources and the money to back them. There are dozens of theonomic 'scholars' who make a full time living churning out articles and books promoting their ideas. They win because the truth can hardly get a place at the table. Their arguments are about as sound and compelling as Thomas Sowell's.
But of course they don't win do they? They might win in earthly or worldly terms, but that's a hardly a victory for the Spiritual Kingdom.
So like others who have attempted to critique the theology of Antichrist, we won't be popular, we won't win awards, and we won't have nice paid for offices and jobs enabling us to produce propaganda for the culture war.
But what are we here for? To earn points? To take over? To conquer the nation or the earth? Those that say so are horned lambs speaking like dragons. (Revelation 13)
Why would any of us write? To reach people of course. They're doing the same, but they have a larger goal....bringing the forces and resources those people (their audience) can supply...bringing them together for a larger goal, one rooted in power.
I'm trying to reach people, but for the blessings of the Kingdom...righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. I'm trying to reach people so that they will overcome the world with the love of Christ. That's a victory the lost of the world and the Theonomists cannot understand, but one that glorifies God and condemns and defeats Satan. Since they equate the Kingdom with Civilization, the Kingdom is built through cultural endeavours. God is only blessing them when they're building culture or conquering it. If they're in cultural retreat, then they're not being blessed, they're not doing God's work.
Do you see the difference? They want to reach people because they need them, they want to use them in their quest for power. It really and truly is a form of prosperity gospel. It's much bigger than the money, mansions, and cars of the television scam artists. Don't get me wrong, they've got plenty of money too, but their vision is much bigger, much more comprehensive and pervasive.
I'm trying to reach people...just to reach people. I'm trying to warn, exhort, encourage, and comfort. I'm not trying to push a political agenda, an economic programme, nor incite a culture war. I'm trying to push people to think very differently about the Kingdom and for those of us who have grown up in the West, to think very differently about our culture and history. For those brethren outside the West...to avoid the traps we've often fallen into.
What good are they doing? They're doing 'good' for the Babel project, but their work is naught but hay and stubble that will burn up on the Last Day.
I remember one OP (Orthodox Presbyterian Church) pastor talking with me over coffee. I mentioned giving a certain Sproul book to someone and he scoffed saying the 'layperson' I wanted to give it to 'knows nothing' and the people in the congregation are largely 'ignorant'. The book would be too hard for them he insisted. I would be wrong to encourage them to read it. I remember looking at him and thinking...well then the shame is on you isn't it? What an admission of failure! He's supposed to be teaching them and had already been with the congregation for several years.
Because of thousands of pastors like this, who fail to teach their people the Word of God, we have millions of professing Christians who are easily led astray by teachers professing to promote the Christian Worldview. These poor people don't even have the tools to discern what the Christian Worldview is.
We have Christians who know all about the narrative of the Christo-American myth, they know every last detail about politics (which they usually get wrong, both in terms of doctrine and commentary), they know how to function within a made up Church government, perhaps becoming experts on the Book of Church Order, Robert's Rules, or how to navigate the bureaucracy...but they know next to nothing about what the Bible actually teaches. I'm making a bit of a sweeping generalization, but there are times it sure feels this way.
So for this reason, though I have little credibility and certainly little in the way of credentials...as the world would reckon it...I write.
As I've said before, you can't be lazy. You must do your own investigation, your own research. If you don't think I know what I'm talking about, then don't read what I write. If you think I lack credibility because I don't possess the right credentials, then don't bother reading anything I have to say.
Or, read and think and ponder and hopefully be challenged and maybe even blessed.
These writings are my diploma. That's the best I can do.


*Nationalism is an idol standing tall and proud within the Christian Church. For many American Christians treason with regard to America is a far more serious issue than heresy. I would add that Nationalism syncretized with Christianity is itself treason...against the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.



3 comments:

Lisa Brabant said...

Welcome back, brother!
Great post.
Sometimes we have seasons where we need to learn things we didn't expect.
As long as we cling to Jesus - the learning can be profitable.
So glad to be able to read your articles again!
Lisa

Anonymous said...

"but there are many more articles and books which decimate their position and expose it as unbiblical. "
- Do you mind kindly directing me to a few of these resources that you think offer a strong refutation. I'd love to read them. Thanks.

- Dave

Protoprotestant said...

Dave,

First, I would recommend the works of Kline. Kingdom Prologue, his final work 'God Heaven and Har Magedon' and certainly The Structure of Biblical Authority.

Geerhardus Vos is not setting out to repudiate Theonomy, but his understanding of theology and Biblical structure is in itself a refutation of the Theonomic reading of the Bible.

And finally, this is a link to Lee Irons website. He's got a host of linked materials that are quite helpful.

http://www.upper-register.com/links.html

Kline's Old/New error is quite good. Moo's essay on Mosaic Law that appeared in the 'Five Views on Law and Gospel' is excellent. He decimated Bahnsen's position.

And T. David Gordon's materials are helpful, some are linked on this page.