There is a lot of good stuff in here (I could do without his out-of-place “transformative” language toward the end; but I would rather give the benefit of the doubt by employing the tried and true analogia fidei, interpreting this piece via the whole and conclude that Gaffin doesn’t mean what someone like Keller does). But I particularly like Gaffin’s phrase “fully involved detachment” in describing what seems more conducive to a genuinely Amillenial Reformed piety when it comes to our approach to the world in a two-kingdom model. I think it is a nice complement to Hart’s “Tracking with the Liturgicals.” It seems especially helpful in light of some recent discussions over at DRD in which there seemed quite a bit of sympathy for terms such as “activism” (and the tributaries which run through it) by those who otherwise espouse good two-kingdom Reformed confessionalism.
Whenever I try to articulate just how I understand the way we negotiate our world as Reformed Christians over against every other tradition, I have managed to be accused amongst my own with fairly mild charges (“ho-hum”), to more animated ones (“apathetic,” or “Dispensational-polish-stower”) to much more strident and not a little loaded ones (“Liberal,” or even “antinomian”). My guess is that this is similar to many miscommunications in human exchange, a problem of either not speaking correctly, not hearing accurately or, realistically, both.
Such interpretations remind me of another current discussion about Mormonism when I make the point that the nomenclature of “cult” to describe it is completely unhelpful; it is a supremely sloppy, outdated term that only serves to both obscure and promote religious bigotry. Hunter S. Thompson may have dubbed it a sustained effort at “fear and loathing on the Washington 2008 trail.” At best it is simply lazy, and at worst, it is a thinly veiled effort to carelessly allow slander to unfettered falsity in order to make a point about that falsity—an old Fundamentalist trick. Doing so seems to say more about the slanderer than the victim. But it sure does seem curious to me that those of us who stand in a historical and truly evangelical, Protestant tradition that makes such a phenomenal fuss over the word “alone” in five poignant places—to the point of still enduring Trent’s anathema—can exercise such sloppiness as to suggest there is no significant difference between Jim Jones and LDS President Gordon B. Hinkley (insert a plug here for PBS’s documentary Jonestown); the failure to make no appreciable distinction between Jonestown (cult) and Sault Lake City (false religion) is similar to the failure to distinguish between “fully involved detachment” and “ho-hum, apathetic antinomianism.” I quite feel Mitt’s pain.
Nevertheless, here’s to Dr. Gaffn having better luck than me in trying to make the point that true Christianity is nothing if not cognizant of the balance and nuance necessary to at once fully embrace a thorough-going high view of creation and a world-affirming piety (fully involved) and fully reject that such implies, contra Calvin, that we are to be just attached enough to this world that we think ours is a project to do what is God’s alone to finally effect (detachment). Granted—like Forrest said—it can be hard to know where the earth stops and heaven begins. But that seems to be exactly the point.