Guess the Good Guy

Does it follow, therefore, that the sooner we stop our observation of life the better, so that we can seek the rules of state polity outside life in Holy Scripture? This is how some mistakenly think that we reason…However, the opposite is true. Calvinism has never supported this untenable position but has always opposed it with might and main. A state polity that dismisses and scorns the observation of life and simply wishes to duplicate the situation of Israel, taking Holy Scripture as a complete code of Christian law for the state, would, according to the spiritual fathers of Calvinism, be the epitome of absurdity. Accordingly, in their opposition to Anabaptism as well as the Quakers, they expressed unreservedly their repugnance for this extremely dangerous and impractical theory.

If we considered the political life of the nations as something unholy, unclean and wrong in itself, it would lie outside of human nature. Then the state would have to be seen as a purely external means of compulsion, and every attempt to discover even a trace of God’s ordinances in our own nature would be absurd. Only special revelation would then be capable of imparting to us the standards for that external means of discipline. Wherever, thus, this special revelation is absent, as in the heathen worlds, nothing but sin and distortion would prevail, which would therefore not even be worth the trouble of our observation…However, if we open the works of Calvin, Bullinger, Beza and Marnix van St. Aldegonde, it becomes obvious that Calvinism consciously chooses sides against this viewpoint. The experience of the states of antiquity, the practical wisdom of their laws, and the deep insight of their statesmen and philosophers is held in esteem by these men, and these are cited in support of their own affirmations and consciously related to the ordinances of God. The earnest intent of the political life of many nations can be explained in terms of the principles of justice and morality that spoke in their consciences. They cannot be explained simply as blindness brought on by the Evil One; on the contrary, in the excellence of their political efforts we encounter a divine ray of light…

…with proper rights we contradict the argument that Holy Scripture should be seen as the source from which a knowledge of the best civil laws flow. The supporters of this potion talk as though after the Fall nature, human life, and history have ceased being a revelation of God and As though, with the closing of this book, another book, called Holy Scriptures, as opened for us. Calvinism has never defended this untenable position and will never acknowledge it as its own…We have refuted the notion that we entertain the foolish effort to patch together civil laws from Bible texts, and we have declared unconditionally that psychology, ethnology, history and statistics are also for us given which, by the light of God’s Word, must determine the standards for the state polity.

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17 Responses to Guess the Good Guy

  1. John Yeazel says:

    And the theonomists claim the 2Kers are in error in their understanding of the spiritual nature of the Church and some covenant issues. This quote is from someone who understood the spirituality of the Church. I will guess Nevin first. It could have been one of the Reformed from the south- Thornwell or Dabny. Or the guy from Kentucky who had to flee to Canada- his name escapes me now. Stuart Robinson I believe. Is his book still in print? If so where can it be ordered?

  2. John Yeazel says:

    He mentions the Quakers and a guy named Marnix van St. Aldegonde. I think the Quakers started in Pennsylvania in the late 18th or early 19th century. So, it would have to be an American reformed or Presbyterian theologian. I have no idea who Marnix van St. Aldegonde is.

  3. Zrim says:

    John, no all around. The answer may be hiding in plain sight.

  4. John Yeazel says:

    I guess the mention of the Quakers is throwing me off. I thought they originated in the USA- William Penn started them I believe. However, I may be wrong. It sounds like something Abramham Kuyper might say but it confuses me why he would mention the Quakers in the same breath as the Anabaptists- like the 16th century reformers knew who the Quakers were.

  5. Todd says:

    I want to say Jesus, but let’s go with DVD

  6. RubeRad says:

    “ethnology” makes it modern. But “A state polity…be the epitome of absurdity” makes it Pirate.

    I think this tone is too rough for DVD; he’s usually more irenic. It doesn’t have the eccentric feel of MGK, so I’ll toss out a wild guess of Lee Irons.

  7. RubeRad says:

    Second thought (second guess), maybe Machen?

  8. Zrim says:

    I’ll give it a little more time. But I will say right now that one of you has mentioned the right primary source, and one of you has mentioned the correct secondary source.

  9. Rick says:

    You know, I’ve read this recently. It think it is DVD – but he’s not the original source – I don’t know who he’s quoting [using].

  10. John Yeazel says:

    How about D.G. Hart-that cigar smoking contrarian who receives the brunt of the blame for the suppossed errors of 2k from the theonomists, neo-Cal’s and charismatic evangelicals.

    Rube says: “ethnology” makes it modern. But “A state polity…be the epitome of absurdity” makes it Pirate.” huh- what’s up with that? Please explain!!

    It is probably not Hart either. Is primary source Kuyper and secondary source Machen? That is what would lead me to Hart.

  11. Rick says:

    Kuyper! I think that’s it. I have no way to find out though.

    What say you, Zrim?

  12. RubeRad says:

    Rube says: “ethnology” makes it modern. But “A state polity…be the epitome of absurdity” makes it Pirate.” huh- what’s up with that? Please explain!!

    Arrgh! Ahoy maties, someone be talkin like a Pirate, except when they be usin this newfangled word ‘ethnology’! Arrgh!

    I didn’t guess Kuyper, because usually the point of a “guess the good guy” is when an Outhouse Sitter offers something eyebrow-raising from one of our pantheon of Outhouse Saints. But maybe the point is that Kuyper is one of our good guys, not the transformationalist everybody usually thinks.

  13. Zrim says:

    The original quote is from Abraham Kuyper in The Ordinances of God and is referenced in DVD’s Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.

    So much for the Bible norming civil society in any way. It’s a nice enough idea, but Reformed Christianity doesn’t think so. Do Reformed transformers or theonomists ever pay closer attention?

  14. Zrim says:

    Rube, a guy who can not only speak like this but who can reject the original language of Belgic 36 like this is a good guy.

  15. Richard says:

    Who the heck is Marnix van St. Aldegonde? Sounds like a throat disease.

  16. John Yeazel says:

    If you google his name Wikepedia has a blurb about him. It seems he was a well respected reformed theologian.

  17. Pingback: We Don’t Need the Enlightenment to Know the Government Shouldn’t Enforce True Religion | The Confessional Outhouse

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