Moralism and Spiritualism: Theologies of Glory versus Theology of the Cross, Part One

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Writer and art critic Robert Hofler of Variety magazine recently said that while American stage is primarily about expression, art and talent, American film is more or less really only about two things, as the title of the recent film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang seems to suggest: sexuality and violence. I was struck by this insight and began plucking out any film I could think of. And, more or less, it seemed accurate.

In the same way, it is my contention that wider Christendom, and particularly American Evangelicalism, has always been really only about two things: moralism and spiritualism. These two phenomenon seem to comport under what Luther called “theologies of glory,” over against what he deemed a “theology of the Cross.” Briefly, the former has man seeking God through glorious means that he invents and understands; in the latter, God is the initiator and seeks man through his own, apparently foolish, means that appear shameful and weak, means that man is hard pressed to understand or accept. The theology of glory seeks revelation, where that of the Cross teaches that God hides Himself. Corporately speaking, theologies of glory with regard to moralism have an especially cozy status in fueling a certain end of the so-called culture wars.

“The triumphalism of revivalist (and Reformed) evangelicalism,” as Reformed theologian R. Scott Clark puts it, “seeks a taking over of the cultural spheres.” With raised fists and swords these theologies intend to “take the culture back” through means that man understands and in which he glories: politics, cultural values and morality. Pat Robertson wonderfully personifies this ham-fisted theology in many ways but most recently when he castigated the city of Dover, PA for “voting God out of their city” in the hotly debated Intelligent Design issue. They had better not be surprised if disaster strikes, Robertson claimed, because reward and punishment are doled out to either obedient or disobedient people—of course, what is obedient or disobedient will be decided by a narrow band of particular culture-value litmus tests. (I think Orlando, FL is still wanting for his promised terrorist bombs for allowing gay pride flags to be erected in 1998.) Taken another way, as we read the New Testament Gospels, these sorts of theologies of glory were the modus operandi for the Jewish authorities. One detects the same impulse in today’s Pharisees as yesterday’s also sought a mighty political Messiah to rescue them from the grip of the Romans, to look for a political strength to exact godly power—not one to toddle in on some pathetic donkey, feet awkwardly dragging in the Palestinian dust, and then hang from a cross. A theology of the Cross does well to rebuke that of glory when the latter rises in a display of self-will and cuts off the ear, so to speak.

To a more individualistic end, Lutheran theologian Don Matzat explains, “Martin Luther accurately defined sin as man turning in on himself. While a theology of glory continues to turn you to yourself as you measure your growth in holiness against a plethora of spiritual experiences, the theology of the Cross turns you away from yourself. As a result of the conviction of the Law, you forsake your own good works and spiritual experiences and cling to the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.” I have italicized Mazat’s words here myself in order to emphasis how Luther’s theology of the Cross stands in stark contrast to the two strains of glory so rampant in wider Christendom today: moralism and spiritualism.

Perhaps a starting point might be to ask the question, “What is our chief problem?” The theologies of glory these days say overwhelmingly that our chief problems are either moral or spiritual or both. And they are either corporately understood (think culture wars) or individually understood (think spiritual disciplines or your garden variety Bible Study). One result is a wider Christendom that teems with activities designed to improve anything deemed as moral or spiritual. The theology of the Cross says our chief problem is our sin and the answer is God’s reconciliation of it through the Person and work of Christ alone, objectively and entirely outside our inward experience, be it moral or spiritual.
To make matters even more confusing there is a stew-like phenomenon, wherein theologies of glory are also mixed in with theologies of the Cross. Predictably, the theology of the Cross simply gets swallowed up in those of glory. That is, the rather simple understanding of our sin and its reconciliation gets eclipsed by those things man deems more important. The result is that ‘sin’ is either understood as ‘immorality’ or ‘unfulfillment’ and ‘reconciliation’ as ‘morality’ or ‘fulfillment.’

In Parts Two and Three, I will take up the topics of moralism and spiritualism more specifically.

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45 Responses to Moralism and Spiritualism: Theologies of Glory versus Theology of the Cross, Part One

  1. mboss says:

    “…or individually understood (think spiritual disciplines or your garden variety Bible Study).”

    Corporate worship, preaching, and sacraments as more important than personal quiet time, application questions, and discussion groups. Better watch yourself Zrim or you might find yourself confined to the…oh, never mind.

  2. Greg says:

    “Predictably, the theology of the Cross simply gets swallowed up in those of glory.”

    Pragmatism is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve personally seen those who claim to confess a reformed soteriology seek to achieve youth salvation (regeneration, justification and sanctification) through muppet shows, youth retreats which were designed to get response through “challenges” (read: emotional duress and manipulation), and other parachurch programs that seem to implicitly deny God’s sovereignty, the efficacy of his redemptive plan, the purpose of the church, or man’s total depravity. Charitably worded requests for explanations of the incompatibility of belief and practice have been met with either blank stares or smiles with more pragmatic thought… and in one case outright anger. In stark contrast, some actually preach Christ crucified regularly.

    Yes, a stew!

  3. kazooless says:

    Z,

    This is sincere. Really.

    I very much enjoyed your article here. I look forward to the next 2 parts.

    First off, your introduction of the terms “theology of glory” and “theology of the cross” with the brief explanation is new to me. I didn’t realize that those terms were coined by Luther, or what meaning he put behind the terms. In earlier discussions, I’ve just sorta imported my own ‘guess’ as to what they meant by the context they were used in. So, thanks for the history lesson.

    Secondly, in the context that you present these two different “theologies,” according to this post, I definitely would have to say that I reject the one of glory and embrace the one of the cross. And that, wholeheartedly.

    So, 3 cheers from Kazoo!

    Now, I suspect that when you flesh out ‘moralism’ in your continued series, that is where we’ll find disagreements between the two of us, and we can deal with those then.

    For now, let’s just rejoice together as brothers that God has graciously chosen us, washed us, & redeemed us for His own purposes and His own Glory. That He did so because of nothing from ourselves, and that His death on the cross is what was necessary to redeem us, because our sins are so heinous and deserving of God’s wrath, that it had to be poured out on our wonderful Savior as our substitute, so that we might live in Him.

    Praise be to God!

    kazoo

  4. GAS says:

    Perhaps we could say it is the distinction between the historic Protestant’s category of sinfulness versus modern Evangelicalism’s category of sin.

    For historic Protestants, it speak of sinfulness as that which names why we cannot do without help and how we always fall short of perfection.

    Whereas modern Evangelicalism speaks of sin as specific acts committed against God’s laws and which needs to be overcome.

    So the modern Evangelical seeks to “revive” the sinner or culture by means of spiritual inwardness to a discipline of law-abiding.

    Historic Protestants think more in terms of broad principles meant to guide and govern human life as opposed to rules for specific acts of behavior.

  5. kazooless says:

    Gas,

    Perhaps we could, but I don’t see that as applying to me and my reformed experience of ‘sin/sinfulness’ and the constant need for forgiveness.

    I can see how *some* modern Evangelicals might be guilty of your accusation of riviving the sinner or culture in that way, but I, as a theonomist, do not seek to ‘revive’ either one.

    And, while Historic Protestants may think in terms, broad or narrow, of principles for guidance instead of rules, our modern W2K friends here, don’t think in these terms at all, when thinking ‘outside’ the church.’ They prefer to ignore God’s special revelation altogether and look for general revelation to give them principles to guide and govern.

    kazoo

  6. GAS says:

    “They prefer to ignore God’s special revelation altogether and look for general revelation to give them principles to guide and govern.”

    I wouldn’t go that far as to their beliefs. Instead, they have a narrower definition of where general revelation intersects special revelation.

  7. Zrim says:

    To cast the W2K view as “ignoring” special revelation is a misnomer. Special revelation has a specific purpose, Kazoo, to reveal Christ. Natural revelation also has a specific purpose, to govern the world. Natural revelation does not reveal Christ any more than special revelation tells us how to order society.

    There is, of course, intersection insofar as both special and natural revelation tell us, for example, that stealing is wrong. This imperative has a distinct meaning for the believer insofar as it is understood in light of gospel indicative, i.e., it’s what grateful covenant-keepers do (or don’t do in this case) in response. For the unbeliever it is a rule that makes society work well. Since believers have a foot in both spheres we understand not stealing as both a away to live as covenant-keepers and as a way to make society work well.

    We aren’t “ignoring,” rather we are seeing a vital distinction between how both “glorious books” ought to be understood. If special revelation tells us how to order society then natural revelation shows us Christ. And if that latter part is true, what need is there of the Bible or the Church, etc.?

  8. GAS says:

    “Natural revelation does not reveal Christ …”

    Really? Now you’ve gone too far.

    A good pair of spectacles and we can see how general revelation reveals Christ.

  9. Zrim says:

    I’ve gone too far? Yeow. Why do we need evangelism if Christ can be found in creation? And do you believe that the law actually has power to save to only convict?

  10. Chris Sherman says:

    GAS,

    Paul in Romans 1,
    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

    It’s called “gospel” or good news because it because it is/was foreign to us before it was proclaimed.

    And further in Romans 10,

    “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

    Not exactly natural or general revelation, is it?

  11. Chris Sherman says:

    “becasue it, because it” I guess I should proof read before before hitting the submit comment button.

  12. GAS says:

    “Why do we need evangelism if Christ can be found in creation?”

    Our job is to hand out the spectacles.

    “And do you believe that the law actually has power to save to only convict?”

    Convict and renew.

  13. GAS says:

    Institutes I.vi.1

    Therefore, though the effulgence which is presented to every eye, both in the heavens and on the earth, leaves the ingratitude of man without excuse, since God, in order to bring the whole human race under the same condemnation, holds forth to all, without exception, a mirror of his Deity in his works, another and better help must be given to guide us properly to God as a Creator. Not in vain, therefore, has he added the light of his Word in order that he might make himself known unto salvation, and bestowed the privilege on those whom he was pleased to bring into nearer and more familiar relation to himself….

    For as the aged, or those whose sight is defective, when any books however fair, is set before them, though they perceive that there is something written are scarcely able to make out two consecutive words, but, when aided by glasses, begin to read distinctly, so Scripture, gathering together the impressions of Deity, which, till then, lay confused in our minds, dissipates the darkness, and shows us the true God clearly.

  14. kazooless says:

    Gas,

    See? I didn’t go to far or misrepresent W2K theology.

    Zrim said:

    Natural revelation also has a specific purpose, to govern the world.

    So, to clarify so as Z doesn’t think I am or was purposely trying to be unfair to him, of course W2K guys recognize that they have one foot in each ‘kingdom’ and therefore can appeal to each revelation. I am not saying they ignore special revelation (SR) ‘all the time.’ Of course not.

    What I was saying is that when they operate in the common community, then they ‘ignore’ SR and appeal only to GR.

    And I’ll have to agree with my W2k brethren here about Christ being revealed in GR. GOD is known by GR, but there is NO revelation in GR by which a man can grasp hold of the gospel and become saved. See the Westminster Standards. Man is wholly lost without the preaching of the Gospel.

    kazoo

  15. Zrim says:

    GAS,

    I know, but why are spectacles needed if the gospel can be found in natural revelation? Is it because we just have really bad eyesight instead of being blind? Are we just really sick instead of dead?

    It may be better to say that the Spirit convicts and renews and does so via the law, which is the structure of our conviction and renewal. But I understand the law to be actually powerless in itself insofar as it depends on a sinful agent which is completely dependent upon the work of the Spirit.

  16. GAS says:

    Christ as creator is certainly revealed by general revelation although it might be argued that he was not revealed as redeemer in creation. Well enough.

    OTOH, Christ as a real person in history with concrete acts is a general revelation in so far as history is included as a part of general revelation.

  17. GAS says:

    “It may be better to say that the Spirit convicts and renews and does so via the law, which is the structure of our conviction and renewal. But I understand the law to be actually powerless in itself insofar as it depends on a sinful agent which is completely dependent upon the work of the Spirit.”

    I’ll concede that the law is a formal cause as to renewal but conviction occurs with or without the Holy Spirit via the conscience. As Reformed, we disagree with the Thomistic/Aristotelian notion that the conscience can be moved toward the good without the renewal of the Holy Spirit.

  18. Chris Sherman says:

    Or in Jesus words, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”

  19. Zrim says:

    “Christ as creator is certainly revealed by general revelation although it might be argued that he was not revealed as redeemer in creation. Well enough.”

    That is what I mean. I think we’re good here.

    But I am lost now on how conviction may occur without the HS. What is one convicted of if the HS is not the cause?

  20. GAS says:

    “But I am lost now on how conviction may occur without the HS. What is one convicted of if the HS is not the cause?”

    Because of our sense of the Divine is part of the imago Dei. When we break the moral law we immediately sense that we have offended God.

  21. Chris Sherman says:

    GAS,

    Romans 1 ?

  22. kazooless says:

    Oops, I did it again. I forgot to close my blockquote for that single sentence alone of zrim’s

    k

  23. sean says:

    “the Spirit convicts and renews and does so via the law”

    Made me spit up my coke and turn ashen.

    “which is the structure of our conviction and renewal”

    But this brought the color back to my face.

    Although I’ll be honest I do a bit of begging off on the law being the structure of renewal. Better to say the law as taken up in Christ and expressed particularly in the NT imperatives, which does in fact have some overlap with say the decalogue, but operating on a grace principle not a merit one.

  24. kazooless says:

    GAS,

    I reject this Thomistic approach and “let’s approach unbelievers from a ‘neutral’ point of view using GR as well.” But sometimes I try to play by the rules of this sandbox (er, uh, outhouse I mean. After all we’re men not cats.)

    “Christ as creator is certainly revealed by general revelation although it might be argued that he was not revealed as redeemer in creation. Well enough.”

    And you also mention Romans 1 for support of conviction without the HS.

    I understand what you’re getting at, but general revelation only reveals Jesus as Jesus a man that died a criminal’s death. Then there is the historical evidence that God raised Him from the dead. But I’m fairly certain that GR *doesn’t* reveal “Christ” at all:

    Matthew 16:16-17
    16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
    17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

    So the revelation of “Christ” is only SR.

    Romans 1 speaks of GR and the unrighteous “suppressing the truth,” not getting convicted. Without SR and the work of the HS, there is no conviction, no godly guilt, no seeking. (There is not ONE who seeks after God).

    Kazoo

  25. Chris Sherman says:

    Speaking of which, would you consider Christ’s return to be GR, when every eye will see Him?

  26. GAS says:

    “I understand what you’re getting at, but general revelation only reveals Jesus as Jesus a man that died a criminal’s death. Then there is the historical evidence that God raised Him from the dead. But I’m fairly certain that GR *doesn’t* reveal “Christ” at all:”

    What about the miracles? The Pharisees tried to claim it was from the devil but Jesus shot down that notion rather quickly. The Gospels are replete with evidence that his miracles proved his divinity. The Arminian John Locke tried to prove the validity of Christianity on the basis of miracles (The Reasonableness of Christianity). Of course we reject his natural theology but nonetheless his miracles in time and history would, it seem to me, be a part of GR in Reformed thinking.

    “Romans 1 speaks of GR and the unrighteous “suppressing the truth,” not getting convicted. Without SR and the work of the HS, there is no conviction, no godly guilt, no seeking. (There is not ONE who seeks after God).”

    If they are suppressing the truth then truth must still be there which leaves the sinner without excuse. Paul at Mars Hill approached the sinners with the basic fact that they had a basic knowledge of the “unknown God”.

  27. GAS,

    it is a gross error and poor exegesis to say that natural revelation reveals Christ. It does not. Paul does not say that. You’ve missed his point in Rom 1-2. Nature reveals the law, it reveals the existence of God, but it doesn’t reveal salvation in Christ. Only Scripture does this. This is the parallel error to theonomy that fails to see that there is a natural law and that fails to see the fundamental purpose of Scripture is not culture “redemption” but sinner redemption.

  28. GAS says:

    “it is a gross error and poor exegesis to say that natural revelation reveals Christ. It does not. Paul does not say that. You’ve missed his point in Rom 1-2.”

    With all due respect, I don’t think I exegeted anything and I don’t believe I used Rom 1-2 to claim that NR revealed salvation in Christ. My point was a systematic point that since NR reveals God and Christ is part of the Godhead and actually created the world it’s proper to say that NR reveals Christ.

    The only area in which I suggested that natural/general revelation revealed Christ was in his actual works in time.

    The discussion surrounding Rom 1-2 specifically related to conviction and the role of the Holy Spirit and man’s conscience. My point here was that a man can be convicted of his moral transgressions without it necessarily leading to salvation.

    Now if any of that is a gross error than I confess and am willing to be corrected.

  29. GAS says:

    Correction:

    The only area in which I suggested that natural/general revelation revealed [salvation in] Christ was in his actual works in time.

  30. GAS says:

    “Speaking of which, would you consider Christ’s return to be GR, when every eye will see Him?”

    Chris,
    no I believe there will be no need for a work of the Holy Spirit when Christ returns. Christ’s kingship and glory will be immediately known.

  31. mboss says:

    “This is the parallel error to theonomy that fails to see that there is a natural law and that fails to see the fundamental purpose of Scripture is not culture “redemption” but sinner redemption.”

    Dr. Clark / anyone else,

    Would this critique of theonomy equally apply to Kuyperianism?

  32. Zrim says:

    mboss,

    Good question, hopefully the good doctor comes back.

    My sense would be yes, judging from the sort of neo-Kuyperianism with which I am familiar and have engaged. I have considered it to be the kinder, gentler form of theonomy. It wants to redeem culture from the inside-out, where theonomy wants to do so from the outside-in. But both are forms of religious fantasy or Judaic folly, as the old timers used to say.

  33. GAS says:

    As soon as you guys throw out Kuyper you’ll have to chuck Bavinck and Van Til.

    Soon all you’ll be left with is Kline and Horton.

    Reminds me of the PRC left alone on their island.

  34. kazooless says:

    mboss, quoting and responding to Dr. Clark, says:

    “This is the parallel error to theonomy that fails to see that there is a natural law and that fails to see the fundamental purpose of Scripture is not culture “redemption” but sinner redemption.”

    Dr. Clark / anyone else,

    Would this critique of theonomy equally apply to Kuyperianism?

    As the self appointed theonomy mis-representation sheriff, I’ll respond:

    1. Theonomy DOES NOT fail to see that there is a “natural law.” (See Thoughts on “Theonomy” and “The Unity of Theonomy and Natural Law”)

    2. Theonomy IS NOT about redeeming culture

    I am all about having an honest discussion with those who disagree with theonomy, so much so that I am reading and trying to honestly take into account the opposing arguments and ‘see the light.’ But as one who actually ‘knows’ theonomy pretty darn well, I really get tired of deliberate mis-representations of the teaching of theonomy. And, I know it is deliberate when it comes from a PhD who has studied it for several years.

    and zrim says:

    It wants to redeem culture from the inside-out, where theonomy wants to do so from the outside-in.

    Again, see #2 above. This one is a willful ignorance of theonomy that continues to misrepresent, whereas the PhD is definitely not ignorant.

    Mboss,

    To answer your question directly, IF this critique were actually accurately representing theonomy, then it could apply to Kuyper.

    kazoo

  35. GAS,

    Where does nature reveal the incarnation of God the Son? This is the sort of “natural theology” that all the Reformers and their orthodox heirs rejected to a man. The gospel is not in the stars and Christ is not in the trees.

    Nothing in Romans says anything like that.

    WCF 1.1, “Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation.”

    Mboss,

    Yes, my critique re culture redemption applies to some forms of neo-Kuyperianism. Jesus didn’t die for football/soccer. He died for sinners.

    We don’t have to “throw out” Bavinck (as he was fairly critical of Kuyper) nor CVT, but we do have to criticize them in the light of the Scripture, the confessions, and the tradition. No one is above criticism.

  36. mboss says:

    I appreciate the feedback re: Kuyperianism. I’m not familiar with Kuyper’s particular eschatological leanings, but I’m curious if Kuyperianism is theonomy for restless amillenialists. The intelligensia of the CRC, after all, has a tradition of defending both Kuyper and amillenialism.

  37. GAS says:

    RSC asked: “Where does nature reveal the incarnation of God the Son? This is the sort of “natural theology” that all the Reformers and their orthodox heirs rejected to a man.”

    I thought I already answered this previously but perhaps we are having a semantic difference? This conversation has generally revolved around the term “General Revelation” while you use the term “Natural Revelation’. Perhaps you’re meaning is narrower than mine?

    General Revelation generally refers to Nature, per se, and conscience and providence. Thus, the general revelation of God could be beyond mere stars and trees.

    “We don’t have to “throw out” Bavinck (as he was fairly critical of Kuyper) …”

    LOL. I hear RSC is fairly critical of Calvin.

    “… we do have to criticize them in the light of… the tradition.”

    Is that a T2 tradition?

  38. GAS,

    There are two sources of revelation, the Word of God (Scripture) and nature or general revelation. The latter only reveals the law and the existence and justice of God. There is no grace in nature, there is no salvation in nature/general revelation/conscience and no revelation of the Trinity or the incarnation. These doctrines are solely revealed in Scripture or special revelation.

  39. When I say, “in the light of the tradition,” I’m referring to the Reformed tradition. Every writer in our tradition is obligated to account for Scripture, the confession, and the tradition. The Reformed faith did not drop out of the sky de novo in 1890.

    Along the way there have been digressions. I document some of those, e.g. the decline of worship in American Presbyterianism and the Dutch Reformed (in the USA) abandonment of the RPW in the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Changes that make us more faithful to the Word as we confess it should be embraced. Changes that are not grounded in the Scriptures as we confess them should be criticized.

    The tradition to which I refer is subordinate to the Word and not a source of revelation or a norm of the Word.

    You can read all about it in Recovering the Reformed Confession.

  40. Zrim says:

    GAS,

    The genius of Protestantism is that we are not beholden to individual men as in any way infallible. There is a big difference between having a high view of an agent and an infallible one. We reserve the latter for the Bible alone. This means we can at once revere much of Bavinck and Calvin but blow a whistle when things don’t quite line up, as it were. Heavens, I can work with Uncle Abe’s “sphere sovereignty,” but only to a point.

    I’d suggest that what you seem to imply might give fodder to those who think we have a higher view of certain fallible persons and formulations than we ought. They may have a point.

  41. GAS says:

    Zrim,

    You may want to consider your own advice for yourself and other followers of Kline and WScal.

    just saying.

  42. RubeRad says:

    Sorry guys, late to the party!

    Theonomy IS NOT about redeeming culture

    I actually agree with this. Theonomy is not about redeeming culture, but about taking dominion over culture; subjugating it to God’s law (Mosaic law) for the well-being of Christians everywhere, and in the best interests of the unregenerate minority (in a theoretical postmil golden age), who must be kept as 2nd class citizens (if they be allowed citizenship at all), because they don’t know any better.

    And that is why Theonomy is a Theology of Glory.

  43. GAS says:

    RSC said:
    “The latter [nature or general revelation] only reveals the law and the existence and justice of God. There is no grace in nature, there is no salvation in nature/general revelation/conscience and no revelation of the Trinity or the incarnation. These doctrines are solely revealed in Scripture or special revelation.”

    Not sure why you keep trotting out the same strawman in each post to me? I explicitly stated throughout this entry that Scripture and the Holy Spirit are necessary for a saving knowledge.

    It does appear that your doctrine of General Revelation seems to be limited to nature with nary a mention of conscience or providence.

    I was rather amazed to read a historian who would flatten out contingent history and claim that all Reformed theologians for all time have rejected all general revelation of Christ.

    A few of the early Fathers, such as Cyril and John of Damascus, have suggested an eternal human nature of Christ which is logically coherent under the Chalcedon formulation although rather universally dismissed.

    The Reformed theologian John Owen specifically related theophanies to Christ and all of OT history specifically relates to the incarnation of Christ.

    “It was so represented and made known under the Old Testament, in his personal appearances on various occasions unto several eminent persons, leaders of the church in their generations. This he did as a præludium to his incarnation. He was as yet God only; but appeared in the assumed shape of a man, to signify what he would be. He did not create a human nature, and unite it unto himself for such a season; only by his divine power he acted the shape of a man composed of what ethereal substance he pleased, immediately to be dissolved. So he appeared to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to Joshua, and others; as I have at large elsewhere proved and confirmed. And hereon, also, because he was the divine person who dwelt in and dwelt with the church, under the Old Testament, from first to last, in so doing he constantly assumes unto himself human affections, to intimate that a season would come when he would immediately act in that nature. And, indeed, after the fall there is nothing spoken of God in the Old Testament, nothing of his institutions, nothing of the way and manner of dealing with the church, but what hath respect unto the future incarnation of Christ.”
    -Glory of Christ, Works 1, pp 349-350.

    So apparently there is within Reformed orthodoxy a notion of a revelation of the Trinity and Incarnation before the appearance of Special Revelation.

    As to Bavinck, the recent conference on him, much ballyhooed on this blog, pretty much showed that Bavinck may have been more of “culture redeemer” than Kuyper. Kloosterman destroyed Van Drunnen’s hypothesis about a orthodox Bavinck and a modern Bavinck. Here’s a few select quotes from Kloosterman’s paper that will have Zrim starting the bus and getting the wheels rolling:

    “Thus it is that we speak of a Christian society, a Christian school; there is nothing human that cannot be called Christian. Everything within and
    beyond the church that is enlivened and governed by Christ, who exercises sovereignty over all things, contributes to and belongs to the
    kingdom of God.”

    “cultus and culture ought to be sisters,
    independent to be sure, but still sisters bound together in love. And even though it happens that of these two sisters, Martha, that is, culture, is preoccupied with many things, and Mary, that is, cultus, has chosen the best portion, nevertheless it remains true that Jesus loved them both.”

    All this presents an interesting question about the URC. Since she receives her pastors mainly from the orthodox Dutch Mid-America and the Klineon WSC when will the inevitable train wreck occur between the two visions feeding the Church?

  44. mboss says:

    “All this presents an interesting question about the URC. Since she receives her pastors mainly from the orthodox Dutch Mid-America and the Klineon WSC when will the inevitable train wreck occur between the two visions feeding the Church?”

    I’m not sure what issue would cause this inevitable train wreck, but schism, unfortunately, is in the Dutch Reformed’s DNA.

  45. GAS says:

    mboss,

    the issue is the same issue that caused the schism with the PRC, the extent of common grace. The Klineon model is a little more sophisticated than the PRC model but nevertheless still centered on common grace.

    Now that Kuyper and Bavinck have been thrown under the bus I suppose we need to expose Uncle Corny and finish off the Dutch trinity.

    Dr Clark’s contention that general revelation does not show the Trinity cuts at the very heart of uncle Corny’s philosophical/theological core.

    For Uncle Corny the general revelational/philosophical principle of the One and the Many is explained by the ontological Trinity. The universal is explained by the particular. The general revelation is explained by the doctrine of the ontological Trinity.

    For all three men their theologizing begins with the presupposition that there is a intregal relatedness between all aspects of created reality. This is what is being attacked.

    WSCalianism would have us throw out the kernel of Dutch Reformed theology for the husk of mere confessionalism.

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