Archive for the ‘R Scott Clark’ Category

Restore Balance in the Two Kingdoms

January 22, 2014

This is the kind of comment that leads people to call an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms, “radical two kingdoms”:

Indeed, in general terms, it seems from the New Testament that the less we have to do with the magistrate, the better it will be for us.

(source R. Scott Clark)

That’s the same R. Scott Clark who was recently stumping for civil magistrate on his blog as discussed at this link.

Clark further states:

Nevertheless, when it comes to the visible, institutional church, the Scriptures enjoin on us an attitude of submission and a desire to protect those who look after the welfare of our souls that it does not require of us regarding the civil magistrate, who looks after our outward, common, shared life. The magistrate, in his office, is not enjoined to pray for us.

I respond:
a) The duty of submission is a mutual duty of the brethren, not a one-way duty toward elders.
Peter, in his first catholic epistle, says:

1 Peter 5:5
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

Likewise, Paul teaches us:

Ephesians 5:21
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

b) We are explicitly told to submit ourselves unto those who have worldly authority:
That same Peter in the same book we mentioned above – earlier in the book – says:

1 Peter 2:13-14
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

Likewise, still earlier:

1 Peter 2:17
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.


Colossians 3:22-24
Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Indeed, these commands are quite closely paired with obedience to the Lord.

c) Clark seems to have in mind the following passage from Hebrews:

Hebrews 13:17-18
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

But this resembles Paul’s exhortation regarding kings:

1 Timothy 2:1-4
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Incidentally, the structure of Hebrews 13 is quite beautiful – it includes “Remember them which have the rule over you … Obey them that have the rule over you … Salute all them that have the rule over you ….”

d) Furthermore, while there may not be an explicit command for kings to pray for those entrusted to them, that surely is a logical inference to be drawn from the duties of superiors to inferiors.

e) Moreover, the Scriptures do explicitly norm kings and those in authority:

Psalm 2:10-12
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

f) Certainly, we should not fall into the opposite extreme from Clark, of some kind of democratic congregationalism and denial that those who have rule over us in the church do not have any rule over us in the church. I hope no one will take my criticism of one imbalance to suggest the opposite imbalance.

g) Rather, neither magistrates nor elders of the church are priests whose job it is to stand between us and God. While those who rule over us bring the Word of God to us and set a good example for us (Hebrews 13:7) the great Shepherd of the sheep is Christ (Hebrews 13:20). Christ is Lord over all – both Lord of the Sword and the Gospel. The cattle on a thousand hills are his.

– TurretinFan

Unbalanced "Two Kingdoms" and Political Campaigns

January 17, 2014

Prof. Clark has a couple of posts up praising Ben Sasse and even including one of his political campaign advertisements (“Ben is a Straight Shooter” | “Ben is Speaking Up About Religious Liberty“). Personally, I can’t vouch for Mr. Sasse (nor do I have any particular criticisms), and that’s not the point of this post.

Among other things, Clark writes:

So, in light of the drift of the culture and the Christian accommodation to that drift, it has been interesting to watch Ben Sasse’s campaign for the U. S. Senate from Nebraska.

I appreciate Clark’s concern against Christian accommodation of the culture. At the same time, that’s one of the problems with an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms. It is an accommodation to the cultural norm that the state is to be “secular” rather than being normed by Scripture.

One of the ironies of the posts is that posts like these, which appear to be stumping for a particular candidate, would appear to violate the principles of the Darryl Hart-type unbalanced two kingdoms view. One of the commenters presented this issue, and in response Clark asked:

What about the twofold kingdom means that Christians cannot engage the civil realm?

and again

Now, once more, what is it about the twofold kingdom that prevents Christians from observing and commenting on the civil/political sphere?

I wasn’t the commenter in question, so Clark wasn’t asking me. I would respond that the more unbalanced forms don’t say that people (who happen to be Christians) cannot engage the civil realm, observe the civil/political sphere, or comment on the civil/political sphere. Nevertheless, it does prevent them from doing so as Christians, bringing Christian doctrine and specifically the Bible to bear. In other words, in the so-called R2K system, a Christian cannot comment as a Christian, only as a person. Prof. Clark is not commenting on Ben as one might talk about a particularly skilled quarterback (or simply one wearing the right jersey) but rather he appears to be bringing Biblical principles to bear on the situation (as well he should! and good for him!) This does not seem consistent with the more unbalanced views of the two kingdoms.

For example, recall that Hart wrote:

Christianity is essentially a spiritual and eternal faith, one occupied with a world to come rather than the passing and temporal affairs of this world.

(p. 12 of A Secular Faith) Frame explains, Hart “is opposed not only to the church taking political positions, but even to individual Christians claiming biblical authority for their political views.” (Escondido Theology, p. 248)

Contrary to what Hart seems to think (based on his book), the Scriptures have a lot to say about the passing and temporal affairs of this world, even though this is our pilgrimage with the best life yet to come. An error of an unbalanced view of the two kingdoms is creating a dichotomy between them rather than recognizing that the civil magistrate is a minister of God who ought to be normed by the Word of the God of whom he is the minister. Another error is like to it – treating all aspects of this life the same whether the Bible has said much (for example, good laws) or little (for example, plumbing, air conditioning, or pharmacology). Yes, the Bible is not principally concerned with teaching us how to roll aluminum foil quite flat without making it so thin it accidentally tears. The Bible is not principally concerned with teaching us how to build a controlled fusion reactor. But there are oodles of teachings regarding what sort of laws are good. There are oodles of teachings on marriage and family – on the raising of children, and so forth.


Calvin as Tyrant?

April 29, 2013

R. Scott Clark has some antidote to the oft-repeated slander of Calvin as Tyrant (link).


The Real Francis Turretin on Faith and Reason

April 25, 2013

The question is not whether reason is the instrument by which or the medium through which we can be drawn to faith. For we acknowledge that reason can be both: the former indeed always and everywhere; the later with regard to presupposed articles. Rather the question is whether it is the first principle from which the doctrines of faith are proved; or the foundation upon which they are built, so that we must hold to be false in things of faith what the nature light or human reason cannot comprehend. This we deny.

…If reason is the principle of faith, then first it would follow that all religion is natural and demonstrable by natural reason and natural light. Thus nature and grace, natural and supernatural revelation would be confounded.
…A ministerial and organic relation is quite different from a principial and despotic.
…We must observe the distinction between an instrument of faith and the foundation of faith.
…The Lutherans falsely object to us that we hold reason to be the principle and rule of demonstration in controversies because we sometimes draw arguments from reason, and argue from reason against the ubiquity of Christ’s body. For we assign to reason only a ministerial and instrumental, not a principal office. And if, in compound questions, we use reason for the purpose of proof, it bears the relation not of a principle but of means from which the theologian argues; and the are not with us primary arguments, but only secondary and auxiliary forces. Besides, while the theologian uses arguments drawn from reason, he does it rather as a philosopher rather than as a theologian. As to the ubiquity of the body of Christ, we reject this doctrine both philosophically and theologically, because it is absurd and contradicts the first principles of theology and philosophy.

(cited as Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1.8.4, 5, 6, 24 at this link)

Churchless Evangelicals

April 18, 2013

R. Scott Clark has some serious and sobering words to “churchless evangelicals” (part 1) (part 2).  I actually wouldn’t agree with everything he says (or at least not as he says it) – I think some of his comments could be taken as suggesting that the ministers themselves are the means of grace, instead of the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer.  They are not the means of grace, nor are they the mediators of grace.  They are not priests and the congregants are not laity.  Yet I suspect that this is just an infelicitous wording on Prof. Clark’s part – I’m sure he’d agree with me that ministers are not priests and that there is no priest but Christ in Christianity.


R. Scott Clark on "All Heretics Quote Scripture"

March 7, 2013

R. Scott Clark today responded on his blog to the comment that “all heretics quote Scripture.” It’s a true statement that simply testifies to the universal recognition of the authority of Scripture. It does not prove what its advocates seem to want to imagine that it proves. R. Scott Clark explains:

According to the Reformed churches, the Bible is the Word of God. It norms all norms. Even though it is contrary to the spirit of the modern age we still hold that the Bible is sovereign over the church (contra Rome) and the reader (contra rationalism and subjectivism). We say that the Scriptures produced the church (not the reverse). The Scriptures fundamentally are the Word of God. That Word was given through human authors but that process of revelation was superintended by God the Spirit. It was Spirit speaking through prophets and apostles. There is a real humanity to Scripture but that humanity does not norm the divine authority, inspiration, integrity, or truthfulness of Scripture.

The churches do not create the canon or the Scriptures. Rather the churches simply receive the Scriptures and the canon. The Scriptures are divinely formed. Contra Rome the authority of the church is ministerial not magisterial. The same principle applies to the autonomous modern rationalist or subjectivist.

It’s true that the Bible must be read. This is where the church enters. Who gets to say what the Scriptures mean? Is it the sovereign rationalist or the sovereign subjectivist? No, it is the divinely instituted and constituted community of interpretation. Does that community (the church) norm the revelation? No. The revelation norms the community. At the same time we are not skeptical. The Scriptures can be understood because they are meant to be understood and interpreted and we are constituted to read and interpret Scripture. We do so, the Spirit helping us, illuminating the Word for us and witness to us that what the Scriptures teach is true.

I would only tweak his statement “the Scriptures produced the church” by pointing out that strictly speaking it was revelation that produced the church, and that the revelation that produced the church has been inscripturated now, though it was in the process of being inscripturated during the apostolic age.

As far as the origin of the quotation goes, Vincent of Lerins was one of the early people to use a line like that one in his Commonitory. But the phrase is used (in a very different sense) today by apologists for Rome, such Bryan Cross, who wrote:

Because the essence of Scripture is not the letter but the meaning, it is not enough to have Scripture as support for one’s doctrine, since “all heretics quote Scripture.”

But this statement presupposes that the letter of Scripture does not convey the meaning of Scripture. Otherwise, it should be sufficient to have the letter of Scripture as support, if the letter and the meaning are harmonious and the letter of Scripture is not ambiguous.

Bryan does not plainly state that he thinks Scripture is ambiguous, but David DeJong in the comment box at Called to (Roman) Communion express the matter straight:

As soon as you recognize that Scripture is ambiguous and that there is not going to be interpretive agreement on every issue (e.g. baptism) and that sincere Christians can sincerely disagree, then you need to account for that in your construal of “essentials.”

It is an old error, one Irenaeus identified with the Gnostics in his “Against Heresies,” as we’ve previously seen (link).


R. Scott Clark Answers the Bogus Charge that Calvin was a Sodomite

November 20, 2012

Having read a letter by John Calvin about his wife, I had no doubts that the bogus charges circulating on the Internet were bogus.  Still, it was nice of R. Scott Clark to debunk them (link to debunking).  I’d say, “debunk them once and for all,” but clearly these charges have been debunked for hundreds of years.


"The Real Catholics" – R. Scott Clark and Perkins

October 11, 2012

R. Scott Clark has posted a series (so far two, I’m not sure if more are in the works) drawn from the works of William Perkins (1558–1602) discussing what constitutes true Catholicity. (part 1)(part 2)

In general, both Clark’s and Perkins’ comments are excellent. Clark notes, “Vatican II changed none of the doctrines against which the Reformation reacted.” I would caveat that with “almost none” or “none of the major.” Of course, on these points, a “conservative” Roman Catholic might argue that the points of change were never doctrinal issues, despite the fact that things like the use of Latin to the exclusion of the common tongue, forced celibacy of deacons, and rigid rules for orders were defended by Rome’s advocates on doctrinal grounds.

And Rome has worsened her doctrines in several ways, in addition to what Clark mentions, Rome has subsequently made the Bodily Assumption and Papal infallibility dogma. Moreover, the exclusivity of Rome has certainly be downplayed to the point where inclusivism is rampant throughout the Roman hierarchy.

Clark states: “Perkins was concerned about a false ecumenism then and we have just as much right to be concerned about it now.” Just as much, and perhaps even more. Rome is approaching ecumenism more winsomely today than she did back when she was having the Reformers imprisoned and burnt at the stake.


UPDATE: Part 3 is up (link).

Response to R. Scott Clark’s "Parody or Serious Proposal" Post

September 27, 2012

R. Scott Clark (of whom I’m fond and whose blog I was very glad to see recently restored to life) asked for clarification regarding Larry Ball’s statement: “Historically, the Church has defined the parameters of the civil magistrate and guaranteed its right to redistribute income.”  I don’t pretend to speak for Mr. Ball, but I assume that he means simply, the churches following Scripture have held that the government may tax (cf. Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and that the government has discretion regarding how that tax is used, under a “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Matthew 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25; and cf. Romans 13) principle.

Prof. Clark wrote: “I’m also wondering where in history the church “defined the parameters of the civil magistrate….” There wasn’t much of that going on in the first 5 centuries and there hasn’t been much of it happening since the 16th century.”

I think Prof. Clark is reading “defined” as “dictated.”  The churches ought to follow Scripture in defining their teachings regarding the civil magistrate.  Nevertheless, the churches have rarely been in a position to dictate to the civil magistrate.  Again, I don’t speak for Mr. Ball, but I assume he meant what he wrote.


Response to "Why One Should Read Before Writing" by R. Scott Clark

March 23, 2011

R. Scott Clark kindly responded to my previous post (link) with a post of his own (link). I write to correct a few errors in his post.

1. My State of Mind as to Understanding

After a brief tangent about my pseudonymity, Prof. Clark characterizes my comments as being that I didn’t “understand how [Prof. Clark] could have raised questions about possible plans by federal officials to force teachers/schools to monitor Facebook for “bullying.”” That characterization is not correct. I understand how he could raise questions about such plans.

2. My Recognition of the Status of Prof. Clark’s Blog

While Prof. Clark leads with this:

First, since rotting fish stink, let’s clear away the red herrings from this discussion.

1. The Heidelblog is not the church. It’s a personal blog devoted to Recovering the Reformed Confession (theology, piety, and practice). I discuss things here that, as a minister, I would not discuss from the pulpit.

I myself had written this in the original article:

I think most of the Escondido folks would say it is ok for a minister to comment on political things on his personal blog. Perhaps some would not, but I think most are ok with that – as long as he doesn’t use the pulpit for those political comments.

But imagine if Prof. Clark had raised the same point from the pulpit. I think that some of the Escondido folk would have a problem with that, in that it would seem to involve the church getting involved in political matters.

It’s hard to say whether Prof. Clark missed this important caveat. His response does not reflect that he saw it.

3. Quotations Seemingly Attributed to Me

Prof. Clark provides a number of items in quotation marks. For example, Prof. Clark wrote:

3. If we’re going to discuss this like gentleman and ladies it would go some distance toward restoring civility to this conversation if the critics would not use Jim Dennison’s grossly misleading nomenclature, “The Escondido Hermeneutic.” This phrase begs the question (i.e., it assumes what it has yet to prove, that there is some distinctive, unique biblical hermeneutic being practiced at Westminster Seminary California). This claim is demonstrably false.

Yet I did not use such a term. I used “Escondido position” and “Escondido folks,” but not “Escondido Hermeneutic.”

Likewise, Prof. Clark wrote:

5. There is no such thing as “the two-kingdoms view.” Distinguishing between two kingdoms is nothing more than applying Calvin’s categorical distinction to contemporary questions. Different folks will do it differently.

Yet I didn’t write “the two-kingdoms view.” I wrote “the Escondido position on the two kingdoms” and “as extreme a view of the two kingdoms as Darryl Hart or others who are associated with Westminster West.”

I acknowledge, of course, that Prof. Clark uses quotation marks in a variety of ways in his post.

4. What I Said/Suggested About The Escondido View of the Two Kingdoms

Prof. Clark wrote:

It seems to me a significant misunderstanding of a two-kingdoms analysis to say suggest [sic] that one who distinguishes between Christ’s general, sovereign providence over all things and his saving work through the visible church may think about or comment on only one sphere.

Yet I did not write or suggest such a thing. Quite the contrary — as noted above — I indicated that I believed that those holding the Escondido position on this subject not only would say that people can think about the other sphere but also would say that they could comment on it on their blogs.

6. Reformed Theologians Holding to Perpetual Virginity and Geocentrism

Prof. Clark wrote:

The 16th and 17th-century Reformed theologians held several views that most of us would not want to hold today (e.g., theocracy, perpetual virginity of the BVM, geocentrism).

This comment is true but a little misleading. While Reformed theologians did express opinions about the latter two subjects, they didn’t place those topics in their confessions (at least not any of the confessions of which I’m aware). On the other hand “theocracy” (broadly understood to mean a system of government in which the first table is enforced to some degree or other) they did put in their confessions.

Moreover, we reject the perpetual virginity position on the strength of the Scriptural testimony, confirmed by a more thorough examination of the historical testimony. Even though I suppose few Reformed Theologians today would argue for geocentrism, few would think it important to argue about it. It’s not simply a matter of wanting to.

Finally, of course, the standard of what “most of us” “want” is not the way we should conduct ourselves.

Prof. Clark goes on to state:

We’re not bound to the mistakes of the past but to the degree the tradition helps us to understand what we confess, we should learn from them. The distinction between the two kingdoms is one of those valuable resources we need to recover but before folk start commenting on these questions they do need to do some basic reading.

It’s true that we’re not bound to the mistakes of the past, but the use of the Reformed theologians is not just to help us to understand what we confess – the fact that they held to things should be something that helps to persuade us as a fallible guide.

Moreover, the “distinction between the two kingdoms” was something that they held and held consistently with what Prof. Clark refers to as “theocracy.” It’s remarkable to see Calvin cluelessly quoted on the issue of two kingdoms, as though he would have supported the Escondido position. In point of fact, Clark in this very post quoted Calvin thus:

Therefore, in order that none of us may stumble on that stone, let us first consider that there is a twofold government in man (duplex esse in homine regimen): one aspect is spiritual, whereby the conscience is instructed in piety and in reverencing God; the second is political, whereby man is educated for the duties of humanity and citizenship that must be maintained among men. These are usually called the “spiritual” and the “temporal” jurisdiction (not improper terms) by which is meant that the former sort of government pertains to the life of the soul, while the latter has to do with the concerns of the present life—not only with food and clothing but with laying down laws whereby a man may live his life among other men holily, honorably, and temperately. For the former resides in the inner mind, while the latter regulates only outward behavior. The one we may call the spiritual kingdom, the other, the political kingdom. Now these two, as we have divided them, must always be examined separately; and while one is being considered, we must call away and turn aside the mind from thinking about the other. There are in man, so to speak, two worlds, over which different kings and different laws have authority (Institutes 3.19.15.

So why didn’t he quote Calvin’s consistent comments here:

This consideration ought to be constantly present to the minds of magistrates since it is fitted to furnish a strong stimulus to the discharge of duty, and also afford singular consolation, smoothing the difficulties of their office, which are certainly numerous and weighty. What zeal for integrity, prudence, meekness, continence, and innocence ought to sway those who know that they have been appointed ministers of the divine justice! How will they dare to admit iniquity to their tribunal, when they are told that it is the throne of the living God? How will they venture to pronounce an unjust sentence with that mouth which they understand to be an ordained organ of divine truth? With what conscience will they subscribe impious decrees with that hand which they know has been appointed to write the acts of God? In a word, if they remember that they are the vicegerents of God, it behaves them to watch with all care, diligences and industry, that they may in themselves exhibit a kind of image of the Divine Providence, guardianship, goodness, benevolence, and justice. And let them constantly keep the additional thought in view, that if a curse is pronounced on him that “does the work of the Lord deceitfully” a much heavier curse must lie on him who deals deceitfully in a righteous calling. Therefore, when Moses and Jehoshaphat would urge their judges to the discharge of duty, they had nothing by which they could more powerfully stimulate their minds than the consideration to which we have already referred, – “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgement. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons nor taking of gifts,” (2 Chron. 19: 6, 7, compared with Deut. 1: 16, &c.) And in another passage it is said, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods,” (Psalm 82: 1; Isaiah 3: 14,) that they may be animated to duty when they hear that they are the ambassadors of God, to whom they must one day render an account of the province committed to them. This admonition ought justly to have the greatest effect upon them; for if they sin in any respect, not only is injury done to the men whom they wickedly torment, but they also insult God himself, whose sacred tribunals they pollute. On the other hand, they have an admirable source of comfort when they reflect that they are not engaged in profane occupations, unbefitting a servant of God, but in a most sacred office, inasmuch as they are the ambassadors of God (Institutes 4.20.6.)

Is it simply because Prof. Clark doesn’t confess that? Perhaps so, yet it is strange for him to quote Calvin so selectively while suggesting that some of his readers haven’t done basic reading on the subject. If his readers haven’t done basic reading, he should be more careful to provide them with a complete picture.

7. What Does VanDrunen’s Book Suggest?

Prof. Clark wrote:

4. I say “demonstrably” because anyone who has bothered to read David VanDrunen’s book (see above) on the question of the history of the two-kingdoms ethic could see that there’s nothing novel about this way of analyzing the relations between church and civil life or between Christ and culture more broadly.

I’m not sure whether there’s nothing novel in what Kline did with Vos’ groundwork, but we don’t really need to go there. Certainly the Escondido view of the two kingdoms is in fundamental disagreement with Calvin’s Institutes (4:20), the Westminster Confession of Faith (23:3), Belgic Confession (Art. 36), 39 Articles (Art. 37), and the Second Helvetic Confession (Ch. 30). This is not something like geocentrism, but is rather something that the Reformed creeds generally taught.

8. What’s So Extreme?

Prof. Clark wrote:

I have no idea what TF means when he says “extreme.” It seems like more question begging. It’s true that VanDrunen and others are seeking to apply the two-kingdoms distinction in a post-theocratic setting but it’s hard to see how that’s radical unless one wants to go back to a pre-1789 status. In such a case, who is the radical here, those seeking to work within the status quo or those seeking a theocracy?

At least here Prof. Clark acknowledged that he had no idea what I meant. He then went on to suggest that the comment was question-begging, but at least he started from acknowledging that he did not know.

I provided some clue as to what I meant by extreme: “as extreme a view of the two kingdoms as Darryl Hart or others who are associated with Westminster West” (emphasis added). Darryl Hart (author of Secular Faith) has indicated that he does not believe that the Bible norms the civil magistrate. He specifically wrote:

If the Bible reveals a set of standards that are required of the government, and if Christians believe the Bible, then they have an obligation to make sure that their state follows the Bible.

I don’t understand how the Bible functions as the norm for both civil society and the church and yet you can have women barred from office in the latter but not the former. Is not the state bound to conform to biblical norms? f not, why not. Just because the state applies biblical law with the sword, doesn’t mean that the law is not in effect. Remember John Knox? On biblical grounds he was not real pleased with queens running affairs in England or Scotland. Ever heard of the Baylys who regularly claim, on biblical grounds, that women should not hold public office?

In which case, you have your own fancy footwork for separating the norms of the church and the state but it is riddled with a major inconsistency — namely, that the Bible is the norm for the state but it is not really the norm for the state, or only the norm on the matters on which you say it counts. Please tell me how I too may become pope.

if the Bible requires rule by elders, why doesn’t the state have elders? You simply keep peeling off another layer of the onion.

The reason why this is important is because 2k is constantly criticized for not advocating biblical morality or biblical norms in public. Well, now you, who are not 2k, tell me that it is okay for the state not to be ruled by elders. But that means that the state doesn’t have to follow Scripture. So it’s okay if you say the state doesn’t have to follow the Bible, but not if I do it. Huh?

But again, if you think the Bible is the norm for the state on murder, why isn’t the Bible the norm for the state on worship (i.e. religious freedom or lack thereof), or on which sex gets to rule. I am baffled at a hermeneutic that allows you to pick and choose from Scripture which norms apply to the state, unless, of course, that hermeneutic is convenience.

(source – comment box here)

I consider that extreme or radical in at least two ways. The first way is that it takes the principle of the two kingdoms and extends it too far. There is a difference between church and state, but Hart’s approach takes that difference and extends it to an extreme. The second way is that it is outside the bounds of even the revised Westminster standards. The denial that the Bible norms the civil magistrate logically involves a denial that the Scriptures teach what the revised Westminster standards say are the duties of the magistrate.

9. Missing the Point

The point of my post was two-fold: (1) to point out to my reader (who had the question) the easy resolution of the matter; and (2) to highlight the fact that on the other hand such material would seemingly be unwelcome in the pulpit. I think that Prof. Clark actually accepted these. His comment, “I discuss things here that, as a minister, I would not discuss from the pulpit,” suggests he agrees (violently) with my comment: “I think most are ok with that – as long as he doesn’t use the pulpit for those political comments.”

There was also an additional point or two lurking in the shadows. Is the Escondido position that the Bible teaches that the Civil Magistrate ought to give people religious liberty or not? If so, it looks like (according to that position) the Bible norms the Civil Magistrate at least that far. Moreover, if the Bible teaches it, it is hard to see why it would not be proper subject matter for the pulpit. Or is it the Escondido position that the Bible does not teach that the Civil Magistrate ought to give people religious liberty, but that the light of nature does teach it?

10. Unanswered Questions

And it seems, after reading Prof. Clark’s reply, that he has left the important questions of the original article unanswered. Those questions were these:

This, however, would create an odd tension. Why? Because the Westminster Standards (in the American revision) as well as the Belgic Confession (in the American Revision) call for the civil magistrate to protect God’s church. Yet, the duties of the civil magistrate are always a political matter.

So, can the church speak to political issues or not? Or is there an exception for certain political matters and not others? If there are exceptions, it starts to look like the prohibition on political speech by the church is ad hoc. And if the church can speak to political issues, then why are the Escondido folks so upset when people like the Bayly brothers preach sermons on highly politicized topics like abortion?


P.S. If Prof. Clark should desire to hold me accountable to the appropriate elders for my words, I’m more than happy to provide him with their names and contact information – I believe I’ve already previously offered to give him my name, so long as he keeps it confidential.

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