In Tents


This t-shirt slogan is a humorous play-on-words; true camping takes place within the tent structure and camping is an emotionally moving experience.

If I were the kind of person inclined to advertise my theology on shirts or stickers, I might opt for a slogan reading: “This Pilgrimage is In-Tents.” I know, it’s lame. But stay with the post, I quote Horton later.

One meaning would be our current physical dwelling place, our earthly tent in which “we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” (II Cor 5). Another meaning would be what I experience as a Reformed believer as I try to keep the “already” and the “not yet” in balance. Hear Horton, Michael:

To be sure, there is a tension in the Reformed position to see all of life under the reign of God and yet to affirm that “we do not yet see all things subjected to Christ.” Some err on the side of triumphalism (an over-realized eschatology emphasizing the “already”), while others err on the side of pessimism (an under-realized eschatology emphasizing the “not yet”). But if Calvinists are not expected to endure tyranny, they are also not given liberty to take justice into their own hands or to exercise the judgment reserved for the King of Kings on the last day. Nor are they to seek to impose their distinctively Christian convictions on society through the kingdom of power, as both Rome and the radical Anabaptists tried to do. Rather, they are to pursue their dual citizenship according to the distinct policies proper to each kingdom. The Bible functions as the constitution for the covenant people, not for the secular state.

God of Promise (Grand Rapids, MI. Baker Books, 2006) p. 127

That’s tension. And that’s intense.

And if I may, there is a possible third meaning related to the other two. As part of God’s remnant here on earth, living in the Spirit, I am part of God’s heavenly temple presence. While I am presently encompassed by the tent of God in principle, and part of His presence on earth, the universal extent of His presence will not be achieved until the last day when Christ returns and makes all things new. Only then will the tabernacle of God at long last be with men (Rev 21:3), when Christ destroys this cosmos and brings the new heaven and earth.*

Indeed, this pilgrimage is in tents, and in a tent. But don’t worry, I won’t get shirts printed.

*I leaned upon some of G.K Beale’s thoughts on page 387 of The Temple and the Church’s Mission here.


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12 Responses to In Tents

  1. Zrim says:

    Ah, the Calvinist tensions that come with balancing God’s sovereignty and human repsonsibility. Good stuff, Rick.

    That’s one my favorite quotes from GOP, that and his triadalist stuff. What a W2K mouthful to say, “…they are to pursue their dual citizenship according to the distinct policies proper to each kingdom.” You really have to have your law and gospel categories straight, I think, to grasp that one.

    But I have always wondered what he means by, “Calvinists are not expected to endure tyranny…”

    I have been having fun with my wife lately who is reading “The Spirited Child” in order to get a bead on our eldest. The buzzword seems to be “intense.” Apparently, she is cut from my cloth and we are both “intense.” I like to say things like, “That explains why I keep smelling s’mores…hey, make me some s’mores, lady!”

  2. Mike Brown says:

    The struggle of the semi-escahtological life described in Romans 7 and Galatians 5 sure is in-tents.

  3. Rick says:

    you got that right!

  4. RubeRad says:

    Don’t forget Heb 11:9!

    By faith [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.

  5. Zrim says:


    Your exchange with JJS over those passages is also getting in tents.

  6. Chris says:

    Ah, now I understand what “for all in- tents and porpoises” means. There are those who are living in tents and those who are living porpoise driven lives.

  7. Chris says:

    That would also explain this guy’s confusion:

  8. Rick says:

    that was church? How reverent. And how “relevant”

  9. Echo_ohcE says:

    “Calvinists are not expected to endure tyranny”.

    Since disagreeing with Horton is always a bad idea, I thought I’d pretend to be someone who does disagree with him. Now note, I don’t disagree with Horton, but I’m going to pretend that I do. The following is an example of playing devil’s advocate.

    Echo, pretending to be someone else says:

    So wait a minute, Mr. Horton. You said that Calvinists shouldn’t have to endure tyrrany. But if that’s true, then aren’t you quite Hobbesian in your thinking? Aren’t you succumbing to the American notion that the very second authority is abused in the slightest that it ceases to be legitimate? What happened to “slaves obey your masters?” What about Jesus who told Pilate to his face that the authority he was about to abuse had been given to him precisely that he might abuse it by putting Christ to death?

    No, Mr. Horton, you’re too radical for me. Calvinists, like all Christians, are expected to endure tyrrany every day, the tyrrany of the seed of the serpent. In fact, tyrrany is our friend, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh. It teaches us to depend on Christ and no one else. Tyrrany builds character, which as Paul tells us gives rise to hope.

    So let us embrace tyrrany, let us embrace the oppression of the wicked who oppress us.

    Oppressed peoples of the world, remain in your seats! Burn no books! Do not rise up! Remain calm! There is nothing to see here! Return to your homes and be silent!


    (pretending to be someone else.)

  10. Rick says:

    We know Horton isn’t talking about an organized rebellion or government overthrow because he says we do not have this liberty in the same sentence. I think he’s talking about situations in countries whose governments prohibit Christian worship. We are not expected to endure a government’s prohibition on worship. Sure, we do not renounce the faith because our government tells us to, but this doesn’t give us license to unseat these powers.

  11. Zrim says:


    That’s always been my default interpretation, but he seems to gloss over it enough that I just always wondered. I like Hart’s line, “Daniel drew the line at his worship.”

    Hey, everyone, dare to be a Daniel, W2K style, that is.

  12. Echo_ohcE says:

    Right on. Good answer(s).

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