The Power of Venn

rerun

Yes, it’s the season for re-runs, or in this case a re-run of a re-run. Coupled with a post at Stuff Christian Culture Likes which makes the point about how glorified moralism is ill-at-ease with living in the gray, a triadalist post over at OldLife reminded me of this one…

The White Horse Inn has introduced its 2009 theme with a broadcast called, “Christ in a Post-Christian Culture.” Insofar as, when you ask me, this is arguably the most important sort of discussion of our time, I am well pleased.

Referencing a conversation he has had with British theologian John Milbank who wants to see a recovery of the Constaninian era, saying only Christians are fit to rule, Mike Horton comments:

I would love to rule because I think I have some good ideas. We all think that if things were run our way that would be great. And as Christians we would like to think that the way we think and the way we would rule is Christian. And so it’s easy for us to invoke Christianity for what really we could hold and wish could happen if we weren’t Christians at all. It’s such a wonderful thing that I live in a country where all sorts of people have to make arguments in public and that no particular segment of that culture and particular religion gets to dictate what everyone else has to believe and practice in the public sphere.

Wait, what’s that you say? Christian believers don’t have a monopoly on temporal ideas simply because the eternal Holy Ghost indwells them? I think western religion begs to greatly (greatly!) differ, even as heads nod and mouths smile. The “separation of church and state” sounds real good until those who are mouthing the phrase realize that what Horton is suggesting threatens to undo their enormously inflated sense of power and influence, both institutionally and personally. Then there is all the pesky jazz about having to actually earn your keep like everyone else, inhabit and share a world that includes people with whom you really disagree and face the reality that you could be wrong about something and, even if you aren’t, have to learn to live with losing today and press on tomorrow like a good sport. In other words, grow up. That isn’t easy for a Christian culture suckled on notions of entitlement, deep vanity and superiority, thus having more in common with Augustas Gloop and Veruca Salt than Charlie Bucket.

I wish the Inn well, as the brats they mean to chastize are nasty buggers that usually go down kicking and screaming (where’s a team of squirrels, a bad-nut-o-meter, a garbage chute and an incinerator when you really need them?). In the meantime, the broadcast reminded me of a post from 2007.

Mike Horton writes in God of Promise:

After briefly sketching out the narrative of Cain in his “stay of execution that allows Cain to build a city,” Horton explains that:

…we begin the story with one creation, one covenant, one people, one mandate, one city. Then after the fall, there is a covenant of creation (with its cultural mandate still in effect for all people, with the law of that covenant universally inscribed on the conscience) and a covenant of grace (with its gospel publicly announced to transgressors), a City of Man (secular but even in its rejection of God, upheld by God’s gracious hand for the time being) and a City of God (holy but even in its acceptance by God, sharing in the common curse of a fallen world). Just as the failure to distinguish law covenant from promise covenant leads to manifold confusions in our understanding of salvation, tremendous problems arise when we fail to distinguish adequately between God’s general care for the secular order and his special concern for the redemption of his people.

Religious fundamentalism tends to see the world simply divided up into believers and unbelievers. The former are blessed, loved by God, holy, and doers of the right, while the latter are cursed, hated by God, unholy, and doers of evil. Sometimes this is taken to quite an extreme: believers are good people, and their moral, political, and doctrinal causes are always right, always justified, and can never be questioned. Unless the culture is controlled by their agenda, it is simply godless and unworthy of the believers’ support. This perspective ignores the fact that according to Scripture, all of us—believers and unbelievers alike—are simultaneously under a common curse and common grace.

Religious liberalism tends to see the world simply as one blessed community. Ignoring biblical distinctions between those inside and those outside of the covenant community, this approach cannot take the common curse seriously because it cannot take sin seriously…everything is holy.

…[But] the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.

I have no idea if your math skills are as bottom-of-the-barrel awful as mine, but in my line of work, the Venn Diagram has been something with which I recently had to grapple. As I soon discovered, it really isn’t all that complicated, even for a supreme dolt like me who didn’t have the fortune of inheriting the mathematical-spatial gene like my brother. As you may or may not know, the classic Venn is two intersecting circles. One circle contains things only proper to one group, the other only proper to another; in the middle, where they converge, is common ground. For example, a directive might present a student with a list of words that are a mix of verbs and nouns. The direction would be to place all nouns in the left hand circle and all the verbs in the right. Then it would ask the student to place in the middle all words that contain the letter “e” or even “all the English words.”

Similarly, I have come to understand what Horton traces out as triadalism to work the same way. In the left circle, we could say exists unbelievers and all the things proper to them eternally speaking is contained therein (e.g. judgment, and all the related properties) and in the right circle the same for believers (e.g. redemption and all the related properties); but in the middle is where we all exist under natural law and its related properties, which takes absolutely no account of our previous status as either blessed or condemned.

In Reformed confessionalism there seems a delicate balance is struck to make sure to radically separate the spheres so as to make no mistake that there are indeed two people that are diametrically opposed to one another. So much so that when He Who is the Head of those who are children of the Light came into the world that it was he who does the bidding of his father the devil put the former upon a tree. At the same time, however, it is careful not to make the same error of Fundamentalism which stops here and orchestrates a model of piety that creates a simplistic world of black and white, us and them, etc. This is the Fundamentalism with which I am familiar. It is a piety that has no category for common ground and tends very heavily to have very simplistic views of just how the world should shake out. In the mini-world of Fundamentalism, the wider world is an easy place to figure out as the good guys and bad guys are easily discerned and their agendas simple to demarcate as being either righteous or evil. Thankfully enough, many people who labor under this paradigm don’t often behave as poorly as their system seems to imply; at times they actually speak and behave more like triadalists since it is, after all, inevitable.

Nevertheless, my confessionalism is ill at ease with this Fundamentalist approach, as I find the world not only a messy and complicated place but one I like to be in even in the midst of its messiness. An obvious implication of Fundamentalism is that there are certain worldly quarters in which a believer just shouldn’t be. While that may be true, I have always found that the litany of “off limits” quarters tends to be too, well, liberal.

But neither does confessional Reformed orthodoxy seem to slip into the collapsing of the spheres one experiences within Liberalism and its correlatives, everything from universalism to notions that every American effort to effect one form of righteousness or another is an interest and work of God. It is ironic how most households of Fundamentalism also flirt heavily with the more Liberal assumptions that one social or moral agenda or another has the divine sanction of God. Thus, anymore one senses a sort of hybrid in broad Evangelicalism in which there are undercurrents of grandpa’s Fundamentalism churning and roiling beneath Liberal-esque notions that the kingdoms must necessarily collapse into one another, causing the big bad world to be swallowed up by the children of the Light via their various and sundry agendas. Some have even called Evangelicals the “new Liberals” as they are often aligned with a social gospel of the Right. Just as much children of Modernity as the descendants of Schleiermacher, the point still seems to be the improvement of the world by the lights of cultural rightists. Nevertheless, the problem with the blue or red fires of men is that neither burns as hot as the white heat of God.

Indeed, what the apparent model of triadalism does in its set of assumptions is to actually maximize that middle sphere so that there is an expanse of territory within which Christians may work liberally with other believers as well as non-Christians to do the work of the Left-Hand kingdom. Contra the liberal litany of “off limits” that Fundamentalism engenders, triadalism constricts the “off limits” and emphasizes, in a manner of speaking, the former part of being “in the world but not of it.” Moreover, this also seems to imply that such work may be done within the experience of relative disagreement, even amongst believers themselves. Nobody need be straddled by any version of political correctness or group-think, that is, if he has the wherewithal to resist either the radical dualism of Fundamentalism or the siren song of kingdom-collapse seen in Liberalism, theonomy or transformationalism.

As providence would have it once again, my oldest daughter came home from school recently needing help on all these new exercises, the blessed Venn Diagrams. Even though this may well have been the last time I will be able to offer her any helpful assistance on her math homework (thank heaven for her mother), I intend on inculcating in her and her sister the religious power of the Venn.

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This entry was posted in Constantinianism, Culture, Liberty, Mike Horton, Reformed piety, Triadalism, Two-kingdoms. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to The Power of Venn

  1. copperchips says:

    zrim, I’ve discussed with you the issue of moralism. Being new to “blog rumination”, I’ve been introduced through “Stuff Christian Culture Likes” and your blog, the ancient past time of theological debate. I’ve noticed the thread of theological exclusivity and the very verbose declaration of doctrinal and theological differences comes to the surface when a “fundie” opens the door to the outhouse. I suppose that it’s to be expected, this is a place of rumination and discussion of one’s own opinions. I do not expect to convince anyone that my path in Christendom is better or superior, but I thought you would relish the opportunity to read an article that reveals that not all “fundies” are bent on looking down at other denominations. By the way, I read the OPC (WFC) statement of faith and I agree with nearly all of it.

    http://setup.finalweb.net/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=140009164&sec_id=140001498&nc=1279630721682

  2. Zrim says:

    Thanks for stopping by, CC, and offering comment.

    I cut my spiritual teeth, as it were, in the IFCA. And to the extent that my extended family are pretty devoted IFCAers, I like to think I know it well enough. Articles are fine and good as far as they go. But when put into the context of my experience within the IFCA (which is a very good representation of broad American evangelicalism, particularly of the fundamentalist strain, of course–that’s what the “F” stands for), formal claims to not harbor any anti- or a-institutionalism don’t go very far with me. In fact, not to be too curt about it, it’s fairly laughable. The very premise of non-denom-Bible-churchism is anti- or a-instutionalism (that’s what the “I” part stands for). Ironically enough, these become institutions themselves.

    But here’s one very vivid thing I recall from all those years ago in that IFCA church I had reluctantly converted but happily married into. After hitting rock bottom, I found the Reformation. I had discovered the doctrines of grace and went running to my pastor. “Oh, grace,” he said as if recalling a long lost girlfriend who had betrayed him. “Well, here is what I say of grace: give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.” At that moment it all made sense why my experience in the IFCA was a steady decline from the very beginning, why it had seemed like holding a balloon under water for five years: broad evangelicalism is glorified moralism. Here’s another term, moralistic-therapeutic deism. I know, that sounds harsh but there is no other description.

    Fun fact: the IFCA HQ here in Grandville is right across the street form Rob Bell’s Mars Hill (Grandville Mall). That proximity is symbolic in my mind, and both exist in a corner of town I don’t frequent.

  3. copperchips says:

    I didn’t expect that you would comment back, indicating that you were re-enlightened to your old fundmentalist ways.

    “Articles are fine and good as far as they go.”

    It sounds as though your IFCA experience weighed heavily upon your difficulty understanding John 3:8 in relation to the HS involvement in the life of a believer. It seems as though the confessionalist relys alot on the structure of man’s written interpretation of scripture. Believe it or not, most evangelicals rely on councils, both past and present, to keep the orthodoxy of scripture in line with present-day congregations, but scripture is clear that the believer is subject to the leading of the HS. If the confessionalist were able to foretell the leading of the HS, then it would’ve been included in the confessions.

    I realize that pentecostalism has over-dramatized the involvment of the HS. I don’t agree with their interpretation. My vein of evangelicalism agrees with the spontaneous leading of the HS, but doesn’t sensationalize it.

    Decisional and Confessional theology will never agree. I don’t intend to bridge the gap.

  4. copperchips says:

    From the Chrisitan Post:

    “When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”

    As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”

    This is not a description of my faith in Christ! I’m sorry, zrim, you are making a very false assumption of true Christian fundamentalism. At least that’s not how my IFCA church thinks. I feel that your assumption could be based on your disagreements with the tenants of that way of faith. You also may be swayed by the way the liberal media has described conservatives as “fundamentalists”. It’s a very popular term to malign those who don’t agree with them.

  5. Bruce Settergren says:

    Copperchips, are you a member of a church and, if so, what/where is it?

  6. RubeRad says:

    Believe it or not, most evangelicals rely on councils, both past and present, to keep the orthodoxy of scripture in line with present-day congregations

    NOT. I have never observed an evangelical church to rely on a council. And shouldn’t the goal be the other way around; to keep present-day believers in line with the orthodoxy of scripture?

    Decisional and Confessional theology will never agree.

    What do you mean by “Decisional”? I have only heard that term before to refer to emphasis on or requirement of a dramatic conversion experience, and I don’t see how that’s the opposite of “Confessional”? Or do you mean like everybody decides for themselves what is scriptural truth, rather than bowing to a paper pope?

  7. Zrim says:

    CC,

    This may end up being something of a rehashing of our exchange at SCCL. But Reformed Protestantism is not Spirit-centered like evangelicalism (descendents of the Radical Reformation), it is Word-centered. So when you fault a Reformed confessionalist for not being sufficiently led by the Holy Spirit, whatever else it entails, you’re really just repeating a fault your spiritual ancestors made of ours, and likely one the super-apostles made of Paul.

    Pentecostalism is evangelicalism on steroids. Like I said before, to the confessionalist mind it comes off a little disingenuous to throw Penties under the bus when you share their basic Anabaptist assumptions, not least is being Spirit-centered instead of Word-centered.

    As to the rest, I’m not sure what to say, CC, that I haven’t already in other places. My first few years of faith were spent in Christian fundamentalism. I wanted to be one, and I defended it against its detractors. I’m sure my family, like you, would deny my Reformed interpretation of their IFCA Christianity (because they have). But as many of them have come to understand, Reformed Christianity and American evangelicalism are “very different” from each other. I think they’re finally catching on. Evangelicalism is not Protestantism, it’s Radicalism. And I agree that it’s popular to malign those with whom one disagrees, and one way is to cast that person as “swayed by the liberal media (slur upon slur, that one is).” I could just as easily say you’re likely swayed by rightist media. But I’ve long since disavowed the culture warriorism that underlies all that sort of thing.

  8. RubeRad says:

    tenants of that way of faith

    I don’t mean to be annoying, but, Vocab lesson for the day: Tenants are people a landlord rents to. Tenets are articles of faith.

  9. copperchips says:

    Who says you have to be a warrior, zrim? Aren’t we just ruminating?

  10. copperchips says:

    Ruberad: Sorry, I’m not a vocab junkie 🙂

  11. Zrim says:

    CC, well “liberal media” is typically the language of the cultural warrior. The only interest I have in culture war is to dissent from it. I do, however, throw my lot in with Machen’s warrior children, but I draw the line at wearing his image on my sleeve. That’s so New School-y.

  12. copperchips says:

    Zrim: “Similarly, I have come to understand what Horton traces out as triadalism to work the same way. In the left circle, we could say exists unbelievers and all the things proper to them eternally speaking is contained therein (e.g. judgment, and all the related properties) and in the right circle the same for believers (e.g. redemption and all the related properties); but in the middle is where we all exist under natural law and its related properties, which takes absolutely no account of our previous status as either blessed or condemned.

    In Reformed confessionalism there seems a delicate balance is struck to make sure to radically separate the spheres so as to make no mistake that there are indeed two people that are diametrically opposed to one another. So much so that when He Who is the Head of those who are children of the Light came into the world that it was he who does the bidding of his father the devil put the former upon a tree. At the same time, however, it is careful not to make the same error of Fundamentalism which stops here and orchestrates a model of piety that creates a simplistic world of black and white, us and them, etc. This is the Fundamentalism with which I am familiar. It is a piety that has no category for common ground and tends very heavily to have very simplistic views of just how the world should shake out. In the mini-world of Fundamentalism, the wider world is an easy place to figure out as the good guys and bad guys are easily discerned and their agendas simple to demarcate as being either righteous or evil. Thankfully enough, many people who labor under this paradigm don’t often behave as poorly as their system seems to imply; at times they actually speak and behave more like triadalists since it is, after all, inevitable.”

    Zrim, I begin to wonder, when I read this, how you have come to such a conclusion about this catagory of people you call fundamentalists. I’m starting to believe that you are lumping all those who do not conform to confessionalism as fundamentalists.
    I know that when you verbalize these conclusions, you are bringing up your past experiences in “fundamentalism”. The glasses from which you observe your religious roots have only allowed you to see and remember a contrived, stifling legalism. Interestingly, as I look at your Venn diagram example above, I agree with what you say. We who are redeemed do share common ground where we exsist together under natural law. This is simple, common understanding, Zrim. I work very closely with unbelievers. I socialize with them. I have a beer with them. I invite them into my home and DON’T talk about God. Yet, Zrim, I am, what you call a fundamentalist. Yes, I do feel that there are differences between you and I on how the course of the world should shake out. I, in the privacy of my home, pray for my unbelieving friends that they would see Christ in me and that they, too, would see the need to accept what God has provided to us through His Son; forgiveness and redemption. I have shared with them the reason I believe in Christ, but I haven’t formed an opinion that they are “bad”. I think, Zrim, that you have a wrong opinion of who you call “fundamentalists”.

    Zrim: “Thankfully enough, many people who labor under this paradigm don’t often behave as poorly as their system seems to imply;”

    Are you assuming that fundies labor under their system? I sounds to me that you are laboring trying to prove that they are! I am amazed, now that I’ve jumped into the world of your tedious deliberation and condemnation of those whom you don’t agree with. The similarity of what your are doing and what the Greeks considered religious debate and intellectualism gauls me.

  13. Zrim says:

    CC,

    I’m not sure what has you so upset. You’re an example of what to be thankful for.

    But as thankful for it as I am, the problem is that your 2K-triadalist behavior doesn’t match up with 1K-fundamentalist theory. It’s like credo-baptists otherwise treating their children like covenant children and not the pagans their sacramentology would seem to demand. I’m glad for their nurturing, but I don’t see how they can when their doctrine implies something different. But remember, I’m not a skeptical outsider when I assess fundamentalism as I do, rather I used to identify as one. I like to think mine is a principled rejection, not a malicious attack. And keep in mind that Horton, whom I am following here, was also raised a fundie. I understand you may not like how we Reformed have come to assess our former fundamentalist systems, but you might consider that we had plenty of vested interest to stay on the reservation, so to speak.

    Re my “tedious deliberation and intellectualism,” harrumph. First, that’s a fairly typical fundie retort. One the things that struck me upon entering the funda-evangelical world upon conversion was the fear of the mind. Whatever else it entails about the inherent pietism, this is one way to keep those who dissent quiet and sufficiently guilted into sitting down and shutting up. She overreacted, I think, but there was good reason my mother worried about my becoming a fundamentalist—they have more in common with cults than religion.

    Second, I think your charge has in mind other Outhouse interlocutors who highly esteem logic, ethics and philosophy over churchly confession and creed. Some are even formally Reformed and more or less share your skepticism about confessional 2K outlooks. And then there are the theonomists, who are Reformed versions of fundamentalists and Methodists. So you’re not alone, in fact it would seem you are in the large majority (hence the Outhouse tagline). You even have a lot of Reformed on your side.

  14. copperchips says:

    Second, I think your charge has in mind other Outhouse interlocutors who highly esteem logic, ethics and philosophy over churchly confession and creed. Some are even formally Reformed and more or less share your skepticism about confessional 2K outlooks. And then there are the theonomists, who are Reformed versions of fundamentalists and Methodists. So you’re not alone, in fact it would seem you are in the large majority (hence the Outhouse tagline). You even have a lot of Reformed on your side.

    The more I think about where you’re coming from, Zrim, the more I think that the particular fundamentalist background you came from reflects a highly legalistic, authoritarian system within evangelicalism. Apostolic, Pentecostal, some Baptist, Mennonite and other similar faiths are rooted in legalism. What’s disgusting is that many leaders within those lines of thought are very hipocritical. Your quote above indicates that there are various levels of each faith. Unfortunately, the variants are mostly due to man’s intervention with the intentions of scripture and how they are interpreted.

    I am nausiated with the issue of legalism in the Church. I went to a very legalistic Bible college and found that type of thinking only perpetuated defiance among students. I am glad that experience didn’t send me reeling into a quest for hyper-liberalism or something that caused me to rely on anything but the truth of scripture.

    In all humility, I think that I’ve found a balance of finding the value of existing in a world where the redeemed and unredeemed can coexist; where believers can excercise their liberty in Christ, but only to the extent where it doesn’t cause others to stumble in their faith in Christ; and to be unafraid to engage others concerning the message of the scriptures, among other things.

    Be mindful, Zrim, that by lumping all non-confessionalists into the “fundie” group, could cause some, like me, to refute your short-sighteness. I suppose that isn’t so much a threat as it might be an invitation.

  15. Zrim says:

    CC, all fundamentalism is by definition “highly legalistic and authoritarian.” But if it helps you, I have found almost as much legalism in the Reformed world as I encountered in funda-evangelicalism (e.g. Reformed talk about education the way fundies talk about substance use and worldly amusement). Like sin, legalism is an equal opportunity affliction that doesn’t care about where you are formally affiliated.

    But, that said, I am quite persuaded that what is needed to combat it is found in the Reformed expression of Christianity. What this means is that one stands a better chance against it amongst those who formally claim Reformed Christianity over against those who don’t.

    Also, I can’t tell if you are assuming the term “fundie” a bad thing or a good thing. On the one hand, you use the term to describe yourself, but when I use the term it appears to be a bad thing. I’m a Reformed confessionalist, full stop. Are you a fundamentalist or not?

  16. copperchips says:

    According to your on-going description of what fundamentalism is, no I’m not a fundamentalist. I can respect your opinion of how Reformed Chrisitanity can help you, but I find little respect coming from you in my defense of my faith, albeit that you claim to have an edge in the dicussion because you supposedly come from my “ilk”. Simply put, you’ve manage to “pigeon-hole” all those who do not conform to either confessionalism or the Reformed form of Christianity as “fundamentalists”. To you, it looks as though I waiver back and forth on my claim as a fundamentalist. The more you reveal your definitions of the term, the more I want to refute it.

  17. copperchips says:

    CC, all fundamentalism is by definition “highly legalistic and authoritarian.”

    I like the way Wiki describes the term “Fundamentalism”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

    Merriam-Webster is also good:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundamentalism

    Of course, Zrim, these refrence sits aren’t theological or religious in nature, so i’d understand if you threw their definitions under the bus.

  18. copperchips says:

    I don’t really see authoritarian or legalistic refrences coming from these definitions. I just think that fundamentalism is not very well liked in our modern culture.

  19. Wout says:

    CC wrote: “I, in the privacy of my home, pray for my unbelieving friends that they would see Christ in me and that they, too, would see the need to accept what God has provided to us through His Son; forgiveness and redemption.”

    The last thing I would want is for unbelieving friends to depend on “seeing Christ in me”. I would hope that they see Christ in what he did for us on the cross, and his subsequent resurrection. Thankfully the gospel doesn’t depend on me.

  20. Zrim says:

    Simply put, you’ve manage to “pigeon-hole” all those who do not conform to either confessionalism or the Reformed form of Christianity as “fundamentalists”.

    Well, the counter-point of reference so far has been your tradition, IFCA Christianity. The “F” stands for “Fundamentalist.” So maybe I’m not so much pigeon-holing you as just using the name you’ve given yourself? But if you don’t like the F-word why keep using it, and why blame me for calling you what you call yourself?

  21. copperchips says:

    I’m sorry you assumed that by me saying that one could see Christ in me would somehow allow me to claim the ability to change someone’s life the only He could. Are you inferring that I’m claiming to be equal to Christ?

  22. RubeRad says:

    gauls me

    New day, new vocab lesson: “Gaul” is France. “gall” is a verb that means something akin to “annoy”. Sorry I don’t have anything more substantive to contribute at this point!

  23. RubeRad says:

    No, he’s saying that your plan for evangelization includes showing unbelievers how your life/self is better because of Christ (and how their life/self can be better if they accept Christ), i.e. the gospel of your personal experience.

  24. copperchips says:

    Zrim, you’ve been declaring my viewpoints throughout this thread and some from SCCL to be those of “glorified moralism” and “funamentalism”. I’ve disagreed with you all the way. I haven’t acepted your definition of fundamentalism from the beginning, so according to you, I’m not a fundamentalist. I would better describe myself as a Bible-centered evangelical Christian.

  25. copperchips says:

    Wow, Rube, that was a pretty huge assumption, i.e. personal interpretation.

  26. Wout says:

    Sorry CC, but RubeRad is correct–that is what comes across in such a statement.

  27. Zrim says:

    But you afffliate (member?) with the I”F”CA. Doesn’t that make you a “Fundamentalist” the way my membership in the C”R”C makes me “Reformed”? In other words, it isn’t a matter of what a couple of slobs on the interwebs are saying about each other but what the formal agency’s to which they adhere say about them.

    But now we’re broaching another difference, namely an institutional way of identifying versus an individualistic way. I’m institutional, and I don’t hedge about being called (by me or another) Reformed. You’re individualist, and seem to constantly be needing to qualify the term Fundamentalist.

    And, “Bible-centered”? I thought the Holy Spirit was your center?

  28. copperchips says:

    Rube/Wout, how would you describe any change in your life because of the Gospel after your choice in becoming confessionalist?

  29. RubeRad says:

    I don’t know if you mean I’m assuming about what you said, or what Wout said, or what Wout said you said…

    But I can tell Wout & I are on the same page (and Wout verifies) — because it’s the page that you get on when you listen to a lot of White Horse Inn. This is a major point of theirs. They (and we) wholeheartedly reject the maxim “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary.” Our Christian life lived out is not the gospel; at best it is the good fruit of the gospel (and too often it is not). What the gospel actually is is entirely outside of us; it is Christ, the perfect life he lived for us, his atoning death on the cross, his vindicating resurrection, etc.

    WHI did an amazing episode on precisely this question last year. I saved the .mp3 and can email it to you if you want.

  30. copperchips says:

    Thanks! And I thought I did pretty good in H.S. English!

  31. RubeRad says:

    I am simul iustus et peccator, a justified sinner. Any gains I might have in the department of “less sinnin” are probably offset by gains in the department of understanding the magnitude and depth of sin.

    See also the comment above about the external gospel. But if there’s anything I can show my neighbor, it’s that I continue to be forgiven for sin!

  32. copperchips says:

    Rube, I like your answer. You are correct in saying our lives are not THE Gospel at all. Our lives need to reflect the change that occours as a result of the Gospel. If we live unprincipled lives, undistinguishable by the lost, how can we be salt and light to the world?

  33. Zrim says:

    If we live unprincipled lives, undistinguishable by the lost, how can we be salt and light to the world?

    CC, the lost live principled lives as well, sometimes more principled than the found. We are salt and light by holding out the unfettered gospel, not by living it.

    Re being indistinguishable, have you ever wondered why Jacob and Esau were twins? I wouldn’t be so quick to eschew what it means to live quietly amongst the pagans and blend in:

    Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.

    And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.

    They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.

    To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.

    Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

    From A Letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)

  34. copperchips says:

    Phil 2:12-16 “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

  35. stephy says:

    It didn’t escape me that CC stands for both copperchips and Christian Culture.

  36. Pingback: Confessional Outhouse | If a blog is written in cyberspace and no one is online to read it, does it still hold sway?

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