Some Doth Cheer—Whilst Others Protest—Too Much

Sometimes I get accused of not caring enough about “life issues,” which I am fairly confident is code for not getting in line with the pro-life movement. I guess I don’t show enough patriotism of affirmation and too much dissent when it comes to this strange ideological litmus test of theological orthodoxy. I must admit, I never thought I’d be so interested in the topic. But when even confessional Protestants who are more conversant with Operation Rescue than they are with the Spirituality of the Church, coveting the sort of cultural clout yesteryear’s abolitionism does presently, I can’t help but be interested—just not that way most seem to be.

I understand why Romanists pump-fist the air when they hear things like this. What is confusing is why it is deemed even amongst Reformed to be a good thing that Nancy Pelosi is being reigned in by her church.

The argument made by Rome and golf clapped by some conservative Calvinists seems to be that she is displaying an ignorance of and inconsistency with her church’s teaching regarding abortion. She thus deserves formal and public rebuke; some even suggest ecclesial discipline which seems to draw hurrahs from plenty of Reformed and Presbyterians alike. I am not sure when Reformed began applauding Romanist ecclesiology. If the argument is that she is guilty of dogmatic ignorance and inconsistency, then where are other public rebukes for these same infractions on the parts of other public church members? There surely have to be others somewhere in history that are also guilty of getting their church’s teachings wrong. Maybe it is just a blind spot of mine, but I really can’t recall something akin to an Archbishop utilizing public news media to point out where a public figure got her facts publicly wrong. I have no vested interest in seeing a Romanist behave more two-kingdomly. Speaking of consistency, that would be about as inconsistent as challenging a priest on papal authority or a Baptist for withholding baptism from his child. But what is with those who otherwise consider themselves “Old School Presbyterians” joining this fray?

If even the Reformed who are quick to set aside their ecclesiology and ostensible two-kingdom theology in order to applaud Madame Speaker’s discipline then where are the public rebukes for those Protestant legislators who have either theonomic or transformational leanings? If confessional Reformed like what Rome is doing to one of her own then where are all the two-kingdomites going out of their way to make it clear in the mainstream that something like National 10 Commandments Day is an affront? Little Geneva is rotten with public displays of relevancy that are misrepresentations of two-kingdom doctrine.

I think the answer is really pretty simple. It has more to do with politics than religion. I think once again this has a lot more to do with what some think and others legislate than someone getting their church history a bit skewed, however public it may be. Like those in vitro who oddly seem to enjoy from otherwise orthodox Calvinists the notion that the implications of being fully human don’t really apply to them specifically, the Spirituality of the Church doesn’t seem to apply to this issue in general. This seems to bear witness once again the extent to which a moralized politics and a politicized religion obscure what the best of a Reformed witness has to offer in its ability to clarify the nature of and the relationship between the two kingdoms. It seems like one thing for a moralized politics to serve the proverbial “gridlock” in contemporary politics—I get that as it seems perfectly in keeping with the principles of the world. Moreover, I don’t necessarily begrudge politics-as-usual; certainly it could be argued that those of us in vitro would seem to have more of a stake in one side of the high-pitched politics than more sophomoric efforts to eradicate the social conditions that prompt certain procedures in the first place. But it seems quite another when one issue is enough to cause even Reformed believers to hit the paused button on their own ecclesiology, undo the Spirituality of the Church and join Romanists in what is effectually bullying. But if an abolitionist-like clout is what so many are after (see John Piper’s When Abortion is Racism), a more careful peering into Old School Presbyterian history reveals that true piety didn’t imply one moralized politics another over. If something like Evangelicals and Catholics Together is misguided from a confessionally Reformed viewpoint, it seems equally unclear as to why any amongst us should sympathize with someone like Archbishop Chaput.

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2 Responses to Some Doth Cheer—Whilst Others Protest—Too Much

  1. sean says:

    Good post. It brings to mind a conversation I had this weekend with an employee of mine, who is currently estranged from his RC roots. After what I thought was fairly clear delineation of the difference between being moral and having faith in Christ, and how that may be best exhibited not in ones behavior so much monday thru saturday but how one attends the means of grace and in WHAT one is trusting in, to secure to himself God’s mercy in Jesus, he assured me that the fact that he didn’t leave his wife when she gave him good reason, proved and secured to him his assurance of God’s favor. Sigh, oh well I expect it from my RC friends, but as protestants we should really get this much better than we do.

  2. Zrim says:

    Sean,

    That goes to show how deep down we really are moralists and just how immutably written in us is the covenant of works. We make ourselves vulnerable when we underestimate our inner unbeliever.

    Though it scarcely seems it, good thing he who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

    Why so many of us take the cues of the moralists when the category is political is confounding.

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