WCF Says No on Gay Marriage

To pull a trick from Zrim’s bag, I think it’s time for a re-post, revised and expanded for our current times (because if the Outhouse is about anything, it’s about Relevance!)

The question came up what (R/W/Z)2K’ers think of the recommendation/plea of a pastor in North Carolina that his church cast their votes against gay marriage.

Here’s a “proof” that confessional Reformed Christians should vote against gay marriage:

From WCF 24, “On Marriage and Divorce”:

1: Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband, at the same time.

4: Marriage ought not to be within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity forbidden by the Word. Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man or consent of parties, so as those persons may live together as man and wife.

Yes, paragraph 1 is addressing polygamy, and yes paragraph 4 is addressing incest; but it seems to me to be no stretch at all to assume that the divines would also agree that any marriage other than that which is “between one man and one woman,”  cannot “ever be made lawful by any law of man.”

With respect to the linked pastor’s recommendation to his congregation:

Point one: It is not a sermon, it is a blog post.

Point the second: Although there may be room for more NL/2K language and historical perspective, there is careful language that, frankly, is much better than I would have expected from a mega-church:

I also want Summit members to know that our elder team believes there is room for disagreement on this. Whether or not homosexuality is sinful is not up for debate at our church, but sincere Christians might disagree on whether this particular amendment is helpful. Our unity at this church is built around the gospel and the things the Bible is clear about, and while the Bible is clear on the sinfulness of homosexuality, it does not tell us what government actions are appropriate. After having studied the issues surrounding the amendment, I am comfortable with supporting it and encourage you to, but I’ll leave that ultimately to you and your conscience.

Honestly, there is a tension we feel regarding this issue. We are here for the long haul. Long after this amendment question is settled, we’ll still be here, regardless of the outcome. We do not want our ministry to be defined by this issue. We want to be defined by the gospel and our love for the city and our willingness to lay down our lives for those who fundamentally disagree with what we stand for, just like Christ did. I have turned down a number of opportunities to debate this issue in the public square for just that reason—I don’t want this issue to define us as a church.

Numero Trois: This language is even more restrained and 2K than Westminster itself, which unqualifiedly asserts that naturally invalid marriages cannot “ever be made lawful by any law of man.”

IV. Usually legislation is a complex grab-bag of compromises, and between what the right hand is giving and the left hand is taking away, there’s a lot of room for Christians (indeed anybody) to vote with a clean conscience either way, depending on how they balance the competing priorities. However, in my own backyard Prop. 8 was so cut and dried that I don’t think it left any wiggle room. (Then again, I don’t know what is up for vote right now in North Carolina.)

E. Because this language is in WCF 24, Presbyterian pastors who want (even personally and privately) to vote for gay marriage (and there might be some) would be compelled to submit themselves to their presbyteries to determine whether their exception to WCF 24 “strikes at the vitals.” (I don’t think it does, but it so happens that I am not a presbytery, so I don’t have the authority to make that call.)

Ultimately, TUAD asked for a short answer to the question of whether Greear’s recommendation violates 2K. So I’ll just say no.

Penultimately, however, I’ll ask another question, which is whether WCF 24.4 violates 2K, and I’d have to say probably. If I were to submit myself for ordination, I would have to confess an exception to WCF 24.4. While it says nothing false, it is natural, not biblical, in nature; and its presence in the confession contradicts 31.4 and perhaps sets a precedent for meddliness.

Another intriguing thought. We Americans revised LC109. If the second commandment does not forbid the toleration of a false religion, does the seventh forbid the toleration of a false marriage? (Argument from the greater to the lesser?) LC139 (unmodified) forbids the “dispensing with unlawful marriages,” and cites John rebuking Herod’s unlawful marriage. Was John speaking in the office of shepherd or prophet? And was he speaking to Herod in the office of sheep or king? And does LC139 address whom the state can declare to be married, or whom pastors can declare to be married? (Speaking of which, who ever vested pastors with the authority to declare marriage?)

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200 Responses to WCF Says No on Gay Marriage

  1. RubeRad says:

    Note to self: start interchanging the phrases “strikes at the vitals” and “kicks at the nuts”

  2. justsinner99 says:

    Seems to me that John the [not Ana] Baptist was necessarily speaking in the office of a prophet.

    The OT prophets at times addressed pagan nations and rulers (e.g. Jonah & Nahum addressed Nineveh). The Lord also judges nations (not just individuals).

  3. RubeRad says:

    So does that give us license to reiterate his prophecy, or deny us the right to claim his prophetic voice?

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    RubeRad,

    You are, by far, my most favorite blogger at the Confessional Outhouse. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’ll frequently agree with you; it just means that you’re much more reasonable and honest than some of your other colleagues.

    “Ultimately, TUAD asked for a short answer to the question of whether Greear’s recommendation violates 2K. So I’ll just say no.”

    (Actually, I wrote “R2K” instead of 2K.) Thank you, thank you, thank you! Jed Paschall, Zrim, and Darryl G. Hart, do you affirm RubeRad’s answer that Pastor Greear’s recommendation DOES NOT violate (R)2K doctrine?

    “Penultimately, however, I’ll ask another question, which is whether WCF 24.4 violates 2K, and I’d have to say probably. If I were to submit myself for ordination, I would have to confess an exception to WCF 24.4. While it says nothing false, it is natural, not biblical, in nature; and its presence in the confession contradicts 31.4 and perhaps sets a precedent for meddliness.”

    Question: Does the PCA, OPC, URC, and other WCF Confessional denominations allow for exceptions to the WCF in its ministers and its ministerial candidates?

    And kudos for noting that WCF 24.4 violates (R)2K. Or conversely, that (R)2K doctrine violates WCF 24.4.

  5. justsinner99 says:

    I think it gives us some warrant at least to follow his example.

  6. justsinner99 says:

    As long as the exception is not seen as “striking at the vitals” of the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, it is permissible in the PCA (i.e. “good faith” subscription).

  7. RubeRad says:

    Does the PCA, OPC, URC, and other WCF Confessional denominations allow for exceptions to the WCF in its ministers and its ministerial candidates?

    It depends. See the chapter in R. Scott Clark’s book Recovering the Reformed Confessions on different forms of subscription. Some denominations’ ordination vows use the language of affirming the confessions inasmuch as they are biblical, and others say because they are biblical. There are latin words (quius and quatenus?) but I don’t remember which is which.

    It is quite common for PCA ordainees to take exception wrt to the Sabbath (recreation is OK) and/or Images (“even in your mind” is over the top). I’m not sure about OPC, but Clark endorses full subscription, and he’s ordained in the URC, so I would guess URC is on the stricter side. But (as been noted a couple times), in practice I don’t think it can ever really be 100% strict.

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    RubeRad: “Penultimately, however, I’ll ask another question, which is whether WCF 24.4 violates 2K, and I’d have to say probably.”

    RubeRad: “I’m not sure about OPC, but Clark endorses full subscription, and he’s ordained in the URC, so I would guess URC is on the stricter side.”

    Question: Given that R. Scott Clark endorses full subscription to the WCF, then he would have to say that WCF 24.4 does not violate (R)2K. But you say that it probably does.

    RubeRad, how would you make the case to R. Scott Clark that WCF 24.4 probably violates 2K?

  9. RubeRad says:

    (a) Clark is not presbyterian, he has not vowed subscription to Westminster.
    (b) I am presbyterian, and not familiar enough with 3FU to know whether an analogous confessional argument could be made.
    (c) To make a case to RSC that 2K and WCF24.4 are in conflict, I would point him to this blog post.

  10. Zrim says:

    First, it may be a blog post (and not a sermon), but his office follows him even into the public slums of blogdom and thus seems to still have implications for what is said in places other than the pulpit. Second, WCF also has things to say about liberty of conscience, so it’s not exactly a slam dunk that WCF tells us how any Christian person should vote. How they should live is another matter. Third, if the good pastor is serious about there being room for disagreement then what in thee heck is the point of encouraging a particular vote? Left hand taking away what right gives and all that. And I’d be curious to know what anybody would say if his own specific advice was to vote against the proposal.

    Is there really anything wrong with limiting a pastor’s advice to the moral realm, as in homosexuality is immoral and believers mayn’t practice it, full stop? And what about reading the exception clause of WCF 31.5 to mean the church and her ordained mouthpieces only pipe up when the state begins to encroach upon her conscience and not read “cases extraordinary” to mean “whatever touches on stuff we really, really get worked up over and are convinced will determine the fate of western civilization as we conceive of it” ?

  11. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Jed Paschall, Zrim, and Darryl G. Hart, do you affirm RubeRad’s answer that Pastor Greear’s recommendation DOES NOT violate (R)2K doctrine?”

  12. RubeRad says:

    WCF also has things to say about liberty of conscience, so it’s not exactly a slam dunk that WCF tells us how any Christian person should vote

    Well WCF is not guaranteed to be perfectly consistent. But I don’t see WCF 24 making room for voting for gay marriage — unless somehow a vote can be construed in some way other than an attempt to make something lawful by a law of man.

    what about reading the exception clause of WCF 31.5 to mean…

    I did read it that way, which is why I said WCF 24.4 conflicts with it. Anyways, who gets to rule whether or not gay marriage is a “case extraordinary”? If you are really convinced that something will change the fate of western civilization as we know it (and there are plenty of Reformed that sincerely believe that gay marriage meets that burden), isn’t that pretty extraordinary?

  13. RubeRad says:

    TUAD, I recommend you give up. You’re not going to get what you want, and your asking is already sufficiently visible for public record.

  14. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    RubeRad: “TUAD, I recommend you give up. You’re not going to get what you want, and your asking is already sufficiently visible for public record.”

    Oh. Why do you think Jed Paschall, Zrim, and Darryl G. Hart refuse to answer a question that shines clarifying light on W2K? Pastor Andy revised the question even.

    RubeRad, you answered the question. Why won’t they?

  15. Zrim says:

    Rube, the WCF wasn’t written in an age that had in mind the sort of political arrangements we have, so “how to vote” seems fairly outside its purview. Besides, the whole point of any confession seems to be to give structure what Christian doctrine and life is, not to give or even imply commentary on what the civil order should look like.

  16. RubeRad says:

    Because you’re annoying

  17. RubeRad says:

    (a) then just replace “vote” with “enact, as king or other lawmaker”.
    (b) I know this, which is why I said “Nor can such incestuous marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man” doesn’t fit well in the confession.

  18. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Embrace the light of the clarifying question and I’ll turn off the light that annoys and bothers R2k eyes.

  19. Zrim says:

    Or just come over to the dark side and subscribe the Belgic where marriage isn’t even mentioned.

  20. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim: “Or just come over to the dark side and subscribe the Belgic where marriage isn’t even mentioned.”

    Or just come over to the side of Light and Goodness and abandon the darkness of W2K.

  21. RubeRad says:

    You mean, “kicking at the nuts”?

  22. justsinner99 says:

    Ha! 😀

    I thought I’d stick to the safer-sounding terminology.

    Maybe I’ll try that one in Presbytery some time. (OK, probably not.) 😉

  23. Zrim says:

    Or just lighten up, dude.

  24. justsinner99 says:

    There are a lot of Star Wars analogies in this room.

    Which one is Luke?

  25. RubeRad says:

    How about “jousting at the junk”?

    Hey, I just clicked on your info — I didn’t know you were right in my backyard (globally-speaking)! This just underscores how I’ve been thinking lately that our presbytery doesn’t have enough inter-church goings-on. Have you ever hooked up with Ben Rochester to share ideas/support?

  26. justsinner99 says:

    Ben & I (and another man) actually were ordained (or passed our final exam) together at the last Presbytery meeting in April.

    That was the first time I met him. Good dude.

    He did his undergrad across the street from where I went to college (SDCC, formerly known as Christian Heritage College). I will have to try to go to the next H&S. Would love to meet you.

  27. RubeRad says:

    Fantastic! I’ll put you on the evite list.
    8/25: H&S Images of Christ in Worship. Mike Brown (Christ URC) vs. John Bombaro (Grace Lutheran). Get it on your calendar in pencil, crayon, pen, and sharpie. It’s gonna be legend (wait for it)

    DARY

  28. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Maybe RubeRad is Luke Skywalker. And Zrim is Darth Vader and Darryl G. Hart is the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious, aka the Evil Emperor Palpatine.

  29. RubeRad says:

    And of course, speaking of Ben Rochester and SDCC, you absolutely MUST download last week’s audio.

  30. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    I’m Han Solo, Paul (P.L.M) is Yoda, and Jed Paschall and Sean are the goose-stepping Storm Troopers.

  31. RubeRad says:

    You forgot to note that TUAD is Jar Jar Binks

  32. sean says:

    Hey Rube, would same sex civil union allow you to not to have to declare an exception?

  33. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Luke (RubeRad) get away from the Dark Side of R2K. Your last couple of posts show that you’re fighting the evil R2K within you.

    Luke, Luke, you can do it.

  34. sean says:

    Tuaddle,

    Charming as usual, go get me my slippers and stop barking so loud, the neighbors are complaining

  35. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    R2K Goose-stepping Storm Trooper Sean shoots… and misses! Just like in Star Wars!

  36. RubeRad says:

    That’s a good question, that I am too uninformed to answer. What is a civil union, really? If it’s simply a contract, then it seems to me that any two (or more) people of any gender can enter into a contract if they want. But there are other questions like, does the existence of some contract force an insurer to allow you to put your contracted partner as your beneficiary? Does the existence of a contract entitle you to adopt a child? etc.

    I could envision, for instance, a brother and sister entering into civil union. Maybe they’re old, one is the dependent of the other, they live in the same house, and only one has a decent health plan. Or how about a pair of young, healthy, poor college students (or young healthy well-off professionals) who want a tax exemption? In a situation like that, there wouldn’t need to be any restriction against gays.

  37. justsinner99 says:

    TUAD: “These are not the droids you are looking for.”

    Sean: “These are not the droids we are looking for.”

    Just fooling. I’m probably just jealous that I am nowhere in the cast of characters. (Maybe I’m incoherent enough to be Chewbacca?)

  38. justsinner99 says:

    Wait, does that make DGH (Hart Vader) Rube’s (Luke) father?

  39. sean says:

    I ask because I actually think we should allow homosexual couples to not only get some benefit, as you listed, but also be subject to the punitive legal side should they decide the arrangement doesn’t suit them anymore. Separation much less divorce can hit you in the pocketbook pretty hard. Also, it would allow the state to esteem marriage over unions from a legal perspective, because heterosexual marriage, from a procreative perspective, is going to most optimally benefit the state as far as providing a future tax base, workforce and military. So, the state should have a vested interest in, and provide additional benefit for, those arrangements which most favor the current and future existence of the state.

  40. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    No, no. Zrim is Darth Vader, formerly known as Anakin Skywalker who turned to the Dark Side of R2K under the evil persuasion of Darryl G. Hart who is Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith, and publicly known as Evil Emperor Palpatine at Westminster Seminary West in Escondido, California.

  41. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    (Maybe I’m incoherent enough to be Chewbacca?)

    Given your admitted incoherence… take your pick between Chewbacca or Jar Jar Binks.

    But remember, I’m Han Solo and Chewbacca’s got my back.

  42. justsinner99 says:

    But hasn’t Dark Lord Hart since departed from WSCA. (I thought he was in Michigan now.) Makes sense – Detroit looks like the new Death Star.

  43. justsinner99 says:

    No one should have the ignominious distinction of being called “Jar Jar Binks.”

    I’d sooner kiss a wookie (or be one).

  44. sean says:

    You remember Chester and Spike from the Sylvester the cat cartoons? That’s how I imagine TUAD and Paul respectively. I’m not much help on the Star Wars analogies

  45. justsinner99 says:

    Ha!

    Do yourself a favor & stick with “Star Wars” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” It’s all downhill from there, IMO.

  46. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Chewbacca it is!

    You have already proven yourself worthy several times Chewbacca Andy! For there were several times when the Dark Lord Hart solicited you to embrace the R2K Dark Side, and you face-palmed him with your massive mitts.

    He was talking to the hand. Good job Chewie!

  47. Zrim says:

    Nerds, all. But careful, I think Stellman is a SW nerd, an over-emphasis which may have played a part in his demise. Bada-bop.

  48. justsinner99 says:

    I thought it was U2.

    Crap, I really like U2. (I will not go pope, I will not go pope, I will not go pope . . . or whatever JJS is actually doing.)

  49. justsinner99 says:

    That does it – Paul is “Spike.” He may even get a kick out of that.

    Who then would be the cat with the lisp?

  50. P.L.M. says:

    “Because you’re annoying”

    LOL. Though, while I can laugh, you had better watch out for Zrim—he doesn’t approve of such discourse. Oh, I forgot, you’re a fellow 2Kers. Strike that, you’re good.

  51. P.L.M. says:

    For some reason, I had it in my head that TUAD was a dudette.

  52. P.L.M. says:

    Zrim, how dare you let this uncivil and uncouth and disrespectful behavior happen!

    Sean, close but no cigar. Rather,

  53. sean says:

    I think you’re right Paul.
    From the book, “Bipolar In Order”;

    ‘Dr. Banner learned to BE angry without letting his anger go too far and causing him to start ACTING out-of-control angry as The Hulk. We need to learn to BE bipolar without letting it get to far and losing control. Hiding from it and hoping it will somehow never return does not work. Dr. Banner knew the difference. Do you?’

  54. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Pastor Andy: “That does it – Paul is “Spike.” He may even get a kick out of that.

    Paul, smash!!!

    Andy, that makes you “Chester.”

    😉

  55. P.L.M. says:

    I’m not bipolar; rather, I have a narcissistic personality disorder.

  56. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Han Solo is not a dudette! Han Solo loves dudettes though.

  57. sean says:

    Paul,

    That was the other thought i had in mind. I but i thought it might be to self-revelatory

  58. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Well, if Paul is Hulk, then Darryl G. Hart is Loki:

    Hulk vs. Loki

  59. justsinner99 says:

    I thought I was Chewbacca!

  60. dgwired says:

    Rube, I don’t get it. How does the WCF violate 2k? The confession also condemns blasphemy and idolatry. Is that a violation of 2k? What seems to be missing is a statement that the church must take a public stand on such matters. I have all sorts of disagreements with U.S. law. None of them require me to draft a petition, occupy Wall Street, or hector the president. Just saying gay marriage is wrong doesn’t say anything about how someone who views gay marriage as sinful is supposed to conduct himself politically.

  61. RubeRad says:

    UNLESS what’s really holding society back is unloved children, and we need gay couples to adopt them all and given them love and care and see that they get good educations, etc. (And just think if we make some headway on abortion, how many more babies will need adopting!!)

  62. RubeRad says:

    And LC109 used to condemn mere toleration of false religion, so if the Americans hadn’t changed it, I don’t know what I would be expected to do if Muslims moved into the house next door. Now, thankfully, the confession just says idolatry is wrong.

    What’s extra in this case is this language “[cannot] ever be made lawful by any law of man” which places limits on politics (the laws of men). And to vote, is to endorse as lawful; so a vote for gay marriage is a denial of WCF 24.4.

  63. Jed Paschall says:

    What in the heckfire are we talking about here… I am gone for a day and all the sudden I am a freaking storm trooper? Really? I am a Firefly guy myself. But, give me a break? Can I at least be Obi Wan, heck Jabba the Hut (I have put on a few pounds), but I can’t be as vanilla as a storm trooper, who couldn’t hit a bad-guy if his life depends on it.

  64. dgh says:

    Rube, I still don’t see it. Lawful doesn’t simply mean political. It could mean that no man — not even the pope — can make it lawful (in the church or for Christians).

  65. Zrim says:

    Rube, do you really think pre-revision that LC 109 required of believers something overtly political? But it could be that what it required of you when the Muslims moved in next door then is the same thing today when homosexuals move in: that civic or political freedom does not entail moral or spiritual legitimacy. Again, the moral-political distinction seems pretty vital here.

  66. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Luke (RubeRad) get away from the Dark Side of R2K. Your last couple of posts show that you’re fighting the evil R2K within you.

    Luke, Luke, you can do it.” Watch this and be inspired:

  67. RubeRad says:

    Come on; cannot ever be made lawful. By any law. Of men. You really think you can pull “(in the church for Christians)” out of that?

    We are not the FV, let’s not twist words to our own destruction (even if they’re not Scriptures). We are men of action, lies do not become us.

    http://xkcd.com/169/

  68. RubeRad says:

    I can’t imagine what original LC109 required of believers. All I know is what it forbade is toleration. And if LC109 dictated our stance to muslim neighbors to be “the same thing today when homosexuals move in” then why did we change it?

  69. Zrim says:

    But it seems to me you can imagine what original LC109 would have required, since you are positing that WCF 24 is today “proof that confessional Reformed Christians should vote against gay marriage.” If WCF 24 today requires a vote against gay marriage then wouldn’t original LC109 have required something just as overtly political then? In both cases, i don’t think so.

    But as Irons says: “The changes made at WCF XX:4 and WLC # 109… are directed solely at correcting a theonomic (or theocratic) conception of the duty of the civil magistrate to suppress idolatry in the public/civil sphere.” So the reason had to do with how the civil magistrate doesn’t enforce true religion, not with how persons should behave politically. It’s a long distance from the former to the latter.

  70. RubeRad says:

    Not that long now that we participate in the magistracy.

  71. Zrim says:

    I don’t see how that shortens the distance. I know some think political power changes things for how anybody behaves politically, but I can well imagine that when the American revisions about civil authorities enforcing true religion were percolating there were plenty who conceived that Christian magistrates had still a duty to oppose any legislation that tolerated idolatry or blasphemy. But if Christian magistrates can affirm legislation that ensures political freedom to apostasize then why can’t they affirm legislation that legalizes fornication, divorce, adultery, and sodomy?

  72. RubeRad says:

    Maybe they can, but the reason a fully-subscribing presbyterian couldn’t make a law of man that makes lawful incestuous (or polygamous, or gay) marriage, is WCF 24.4.

  73. Zrim says:

    But I’d repeat dgh’s point that lawful doesn’t simply mean political. I know you scoffed, but the same could be said of idolatry: it isn’t lawful (meaning in accord with God’s law) and never can be. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be legal. Plenty of things not in accord with God’s law, which is to saw unlawful, are legal.

  74. RubeRad says:

    And yet although there is plenty of language in the confession to indicate that idolatry is immoral, there is no language that adds “Nor can it ever be made lawful by any law of men” (and there is language that “It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion or infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance”).

    I refer you to my comment back to DGH above; I don’t see how to evade the force of WCF 24.4 to make it apply only ecclesiastically.

  75. David R. says:

    Maybe this has already been said (haven’t read all the comments), but it seems to me that the Confession is merely saying that incestuous marriages are invalid, even if the civil power sanctions them. (Analogously, divorce, on any other grounds than adultery or abandonment, is unlawful, even if the cvil power would grant it.)

    Comments from a couple of commentators:

    Robert Shaw:

    In the Mosaic law marriage was expressly forbidden within certain degrees of consanguinity or affinity (Lev. xviii.); and by the laws of our country the prohibition is extended to the same degrees. Marriages contracted within these degrees are in themselves justly deemed invalid, and may properly be dissolved.

    A.A. Hodge:

    [B]ut all marriages between persons who are related in degrees forbidden in Scripture are incestuous, and can never be made lawful, either by civil enactment or by the consent of the parties to live together as husband and wife. This is an important practical matter at the present day.

  76. David R. says:

    IOW, gay marriages are invalid even if they are legalized.

  77. Zrim says:

    Rube, what David said.

    I know you think this seems like a way to evade the force of the Confession. But if, like I said previously that the whole point of any Confession seems to be to give structure what Christian doctrine and life is and not to give or even imply commentary on what the civil order should look like, it may be more of a way to plainly read it.

  78. RubeRad says:

    David, that doesn’t address the question of what the confessing Reformed believer is to do when presented with an election in which he is asked (obligated?) to vote yea or nay on a straightforward proposition: “Marriage shall be defined as the union of two persons, with no regard to gender”.

    From where I’m standing, the act of voting yea on such a proposition would be an endorsement that gay marriage can indeed be made lawful by a law of man, and therefore a denial of WCF 24.4.

  79. RubeRad says:

    Life is messy. What the point of a confession should be and what the point of a confession is may not be the same. I think WCF 24 indicates pretty clearly what point the divines were making. It probably didn’t even cross their mind that they were contradicting 31.4, because natural law on that point is so obvious. But nowadays, man has grown more skillful in suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, which has created “new” problems for us to think about, which help us to see more clearly that WCF 24.4 dabbles in meddliness.

  80. Zrim says:

    Rube, this puts you the precarious position of suggesting serious errors in the Confession that may rise to the status of being in need of revision. That’s fine, but I think it’s a hard case to make here; I see 24.4 and 31.4 co-existing just fine. I’m not sure man is any more skillful in suppression than he ever was, so it strikes me a little odd to demand that the Confession needs any revision in order to meet the felt needs and calm the consciences of modern voters. Is the Confession a Voter’s Guide?

  81. David R. says:

    Rube, I could not in good conscience vote “yea” on such a proposition, but I was more interested in the question as to whether WCF 24.4 “violates 2K,” which I can’t see that it does.

  82. RubeRad says:

    Yes it is, and that should change.

  83. sean says:

    Rube says; “But nowadays, man has grown more skillful in suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, which has created “new” problems for us to think about, which help us to see more clearly that WCF 24.4 dabbles in meddliness.”

    Rube where does this land you on the argument between(not actually but theoretically) Van Til’s earlier grace undergoing continuous ‘deterioration’ and thus the need or reality of a growing antithesis versus someone like Kline arguing a ‘preserving’ grace that though undoubtedly going through cycles up and down, still largely maintains/preserves things ‘as they always have been’ (2peter) until the 2nd advent?

  84. David R. says:

    Not to butt in, but it seems to me that, while Kline is way clearer than Van Til on delineating a structurally common realm, he is no less clear than VT on the sharpening of the antithesis over time, which ultimately leads to an “anti-Christ crisis.” Not that this is necessarily relevant to the issue at hand….

  85. dgwired says:

    Rube, I am not saying it is only ecclesiastical. But I don’t read it as merely political either. Nor am I persuaded that your reading catches the differences between 1640s England (with a monarchy which had the king as head of the church at war with Parliament) and a democracy of egalitarian proportions. Even if gay marriage is unlawful under all circumstances, that doesn’t mean a Christian would have to vote a certain way. Your position is analogous to those who accused Machen of supporting drunkenness for not supporting Prohibition. Other ways are available to believers who inhabit a free society for opposing gay marriage then simply going from the Confession to the ballot box.

    Have you been hanging around with TUAD?

  86. dgwired says:

    David, yes it is hard to follow the comments. I wish the administrators would turn off the reply function in the comments. It’s a liability.

  87. sean says:

    David,

    I would agree as to the antagonism on a cultic level, the mockers and scoffers of 2 Peter, but I remember Kline making a marked distinction over/against the Dooyewerdian positing of the antithetical on the epistemological level, because of Dooyewerd’s previous commitment to philosophical monism, thus eclipsing the Imago Dei grounding of natural law, in Gen. 9 (Noahic Cov) and Rom 2:14-15, and then warning against those who took the Van Tillian antithetical(theonomists) against the ‘preserving’ nature of the common grace realm/city such that you have an ever decreasing realm of common grace and eventually a ‘premature’ introduction of the Eschaton, which ran counter to God’s long suffering and patience in this age. Again 2 Peter.-Things have continued on as the always have…………………………….

  88. sean says:

    David,

    I think it’s in KP where he actually describes it as a ‘premature’ termination of the common grace city. That’s what he argued the Theonomists program was in essence proposing.

  89. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Darryl G. Hart to RubeRad: “Your position is analogous to those who accused Machen of supporting drunkenness for not supporting Prohibition. …
    Have you been hanging around with TUAD?”

    Rather ironic of you (Emperor Palpatine) to discuss Prohibition and then asking RubeRad (Luke Skywalker) whether he’s been hanging around with me (Han Solo).

    😉

  90. David R. says:

    Sean, I’ll probably have to go and read over that section of Kline again now, but as I recall, his beef with the neo-Dooyewerdians was that they refused to allow for the introduction, post-fall, of a structurally common/non-holy cultural realm designed for the pragmatic cooperation of believers and non-believers toward merely temporal (non-eschatological) ends. Rather, those folks (and of course his polemic is directed at theos and especially transformers) understood cultural activity to be “kingdom work” which would survive into the eschaton. Kline says no to that, but at the same time, he’s also clear about the antithesis working itself out, such that those holding the reins of power increasingly abuse their stations for self-aggrandizing/deifying purposes. I agree with you that common grace keeps the eschaton in abeyance, but it apparently doesn’t keep evil from eventually prevailing (which brings about divine intervention). (I find this to be a very challenging aspect of Kline, the way he counterbalances the antithesis with common grace, and it gets even more confusing when you throw the cult/culture distinction into the mix….)

  91. sean says:

    David,

    I’m sure you’re right on the Neo-Dooyewerdians. But, I remember him directly challenging the Dooyewerdian philosophical bias against the dialectic and dualism that prevented the Dooyewerdians from entertaining a dualistic structure such as God’s sovereignty being exercised in distinctly different ways(i.e. God as creator and God as redeemer). He attributed this flaw to a previous philosophical commitment on the part of the Dooyewerdians. DVD seems to back up that observation in NL2K. It’s noteworthy I think that Kline ends up with an anti-christ antagonism(emperor’s cult, deification) as opposed to a philosophical antagonism (i.e. the unregenerate can’t think, and don’t epistemologically know anything).

  92. sean says:

    David,

    Take a look at KP starting on pg 170. The antithesis is centered on a religious antithesis in distinction from a necessarily philosophical/epistemological one.

  93. djbeilstein says:

    Darryl, I thought what you said was obvious. I think fornication is a sin and against God. Does that mean I have to vote to outlaw it? It seems there’s too many Christians that don’t think these issues through.

  94. P.L.M. says:

    Rube’s right on this one, guys (and Zrim knows that I may be a jerk, but I’m usually right). Hart and Zrim and playing silly putty with the confession. If we could just wave our hands at clear and unambiguous statements and claim they don’t apply today since the original authors couldn’t take into account our system, then why all back slapping about the 1788 revision. Why revise? Just chalk it up to being time-bound and not meant to be applicable for all times (though that kinda undermines “Confessionalism”, as Zrim and Hart would have it). No, when it comes to the revision, you use it as a cudgel to beat people away from theonomy or non-neo-2K. If Zrim and hart were to write a Confession for the Reformed church, you better bet your bippie that 24 1 and 4 would not appear in their Confession the way it does in the 1788 Confession.

    You guys lost, suck it up. Rube is right. Now, what the debate should be focused on is this: should we lobby for a revision, or admit the neo-2K of Hart & co. is erroneous. I vote for (b), and that’s because ch.24 isn’t the only bur in the neo-2K’s side. The catechism’s statements on the 6th commandment pose major problems too. This is why Zrim has had to say, “Damn the catechism’s remarks on the 6th, it doesn’t apply to the common realm.”

  95. justsinner99 says:

    Would WCF 24.1 & 24.4 require a candidate to declare an exception to the Standards?

    And, if so, would that exception(s) be deemed acceptable? I’m guessing that most Presbyteries would accept it as not denying the commandment itself, nor striking at the vitals (or Rube’s phrase) of the system of religion taught in the Standards.

    If the real question is whether or not 2K (or W2K or whatever you want to call it) is seen as outside the bounds in the PCA or OPC, I doubt it. (Although some questions were asked of me in one of my exams that I took as the questioners trying to determine whether or not I was a 2Ker.)

  96. David R. says:

    Sean, I think you have Kline’s challenge to the N-Ds right, but I would just make the point that what he was repudiating was their bias against a structural dualism (as you point out); not their penchant for focusing in on the epistemological component of the antithesis. But I think your point is well taken that Kline does indeed neglect the epistemological in his account of the progressive working out of the antithesis, and instead focuses solely on the ethical (for whatever reason). Though earlier in the book, in the sections on creation and fall, his Van Tillian bona fides are perhaps more in evidence as he speaks of man’s cultural role as including the post of “wise-man-philosopher-scientist,” which entails the task of “receptively reconstructing the meaning of the things already imparted to them by their Creator” and is “no more an autonomous activity than his kingship was an autonomous authority” (p. 76). And then he speaks of Eve, as she succumbs to the serpent’s temptation, deciding to disobey God “on the basis of her newly liberated powers of reason, functioning autonomously without a pre-commitment to the absolute authority of the Creator as the God of truth” (p. 126). Yet for some reason he doesn’t seem to pick this thread up later in the book when he speaks of man as restored by grace. Thanks for the food for thought.

  97. David R. says:

    Sean, I posted the above before seeing this. Yes, I agree. Though as I pointed out, I think the epistemological/philosophical is more in evidence earlier in the book, though never disconnected from the religious/ethical.

  98. P.L.M. says:

    A neo-2Ker Resolution

    Here’s one way a neo-2Ker could get around the force of Rube’s objection (Darryl and Zrim, I’d appreciate a beer for this, but a “We’re forever in the debt of a philosopher” will suffice—yet, I do understand that both Zrim and Hart will not have the mental stamina to read the below):

    If the neo-2Ker takes a more Thomistic approach to NL, then phrase like: “Nor can such [non-traditional] marriages ever be made lawful by any law of man,” can be viewed this way:

    Note the use of ‘can.’ Negating it gets us ‘cannot.’ Such marriages ‘cannot’ be made lawful. In other words, it is impossible that these marriages ever be made lawful.

    Now, that’s a strong claim. How could they make such a strong claim? How could it be *impossible* that marriage ever be made lawful? Surely not just because no particular magistrate at any time will ever sign it into law, i.e., create a law that states, “Said marriages are lawful.” That could happen; it *has* happened! Did the framers of the Confession mean to make such a prescient remark? Perhaps not.

    Another interpretation: Did the framers intend this to be a command to all magistrates that would *ever* exist? This might seem unlikely too? Surely they were not intending to issue a command to what marriage laws a, say, Hindu culture could create. The claim of the Confession is very strong: *Impossible* to *ever* be made lawful by *any* law of man. Surely the framers did not think all states that existed at the time of the Confession, and that would ever exist, would have their hands on this confession so they could be aware of the command of a bunch of Western theologians.

    The Thomistic interpretation: Here’s a way to make sense of it: If a Thomistic view of natural law is held, marriage can never *be* between anything other than a man and woman. The union of man and woman is just what a marriage *is*. Just like water *is* H2O. We might find a similar substance on another planet. It may taste just like water, feel just like water, look just like water, refresh just like water, but if it isn’t H2O, it’s not water. This fact doesn’t mean that no group could never call this combination, ‘water.’ They could. But it would not be water all the same. It’s is *impossible* that it could be water.

    Along similar lines, the Thomistic natural law theorist says it is impossible that anything other than marriage between a man and a woman could be a marriage. For that’s just what a marriage *is*. So no magistrate could ever make it a law, for nonsense cannot be a law. Roughly analogous is this: it’d be similar to making a law that we must drive 65 and 75 mph on the highway at the same time. Some ridiculous magistrate could of course make it a law in the sense of putting it on the books, but it really could never be made a law by any magistrate. It’s a metaphysical absurdity. Since it is, this explains why it is “impossible” that, say, it could ever be lawful to have a homosexual marriage, even though it is recognized that a state could put it on the books and make it legal, this is just as absurd as them making it lawful to drive 65 and 75 mph at the same time.

    So this is a possible resolution. One obvious upshot that accepting this interpretation *commits* anti-philosopher’s like Zrim and Hart to much more metaphysics and epistemology than they are comfortable with, namely, none. So pick your poison.

  99. sean says:

    David, thanks for the feedback on Kline on the Edenic situation.

    One other thing we need to keep in mind, which may have been said but it can be difficult to follow all the comments, is the question isn’t so much the intent of the divines at the time or even the american revisionists, but how the confession is received in the church today. I distinctly remember Clark making that point again and again. I think it would be an odd exception to hear, and even stranger if a presbytery found it striking against the vitals. It just seems to be such a cultural, maybe even prop 8 Californian specific consideration that I’m not sure any presbytery would want to say it was anticipated in the confession. It’s obvious applicable presbyterys won’t be officiating any Adam and Steve arrangements and though they might appreciate and share a candidates stance on the matter, I doubt they’d see the exception as relevant. IMO

  100. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim: “Is the Confession a Voter’s Guide?”

    RubeRad: “Yes it is, and that should change.”

    Perhaps Westminster Seminary West can lead the charge to revise the Westminster Confession of Faith. Then we could call it the W2K version of the WCF or the Escondido 2K version of the WCF.

  101. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    P.L.M.: “You guys lost, suck it up. Rube is right. Now, what the debate should be focused on is this: should we lobby for a revision, or admit the neo-2K of Hart & co. is erroneous. I vote for (b),…”

    RubeRad votes for (a) based on his response to Zrim in an earlier comment above.

  102. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Sean: “the question isn’t so much the intent of the divines at the time or even the american revisionists, but how the confession is received in the church today. I distinctly remember Clark making that point again and again.”

    Liberal Protestant (who supports R2K and wants it to grow): “This principle that Sean and R. Scott Clark is making is absolutely essential! For example, it’s not so much the intent of Moses or even Jesus and Apostle Paul that there was a literal, historical Adam and Eve, but how the Story of Genesis is received in the church today, and that is that the story of Adam and Eve is not meant to be taken literally, but metaphorically. Mainline theologians and mainline pastors make that point again and again.”

  103. Zrim says:

    Correct, TUAD. Paul has forgotten a third option: the Confessions are fine and they and 2k are friends.

  104. P.L.M. says:

    Zrim, you act like that after I saved your bacon? Anyway: TUAD is correct, but not in the way you put it (was it purposeful or careless misrepresentation this time, always hard to tell). I did not forget a third option. Until I offered my resolution for you guys, there did not exist a third option. So, minus my resolution, there’s no third option. With my resolution, I didn’t “forget” anything. But you must hold to (something like) my resolution if you want to be fine with the Confession, but this you will not do for it commits you to more metaphysics and epistemology than you’re comfortable with (namely, none), and would require you to have to study it and be comfortable with it enough to elaborate on it and defend it—which you are loathe to do (requires too much neural activity).

  105. justsinner99 says:

    Sean, when you say “how the confession is received in the church today”, do you really mean how it is “applied” (vice “received”) today?

    See TUAD’s quote (and comparison) below.

    I don’t know that Dr. Clark (R.S.) would have ever said that the intent of the Westminster divines isn’t the question. (Perhaps I am misunderstanding what *your* intent is in that statement?)

  106. David R. says:

    I think Sean is referring to the animis imponentis, the idea that the mind of the church, or the church’s interpretation of its confession, is what is ultimately authoritative. So for example the intent of the Divines is crucial, but the Divines were not a church, and so when the Scottish church adopted the WCF as their confession of faith, they (not the Divines) had the ultimate authority to interpret their own confession (which they did in such a way as to preclude an Erastian reading). Likewise, when the American Presbys adopted it, they did so with the caveat that it was not to be understood as requiring the establishment principle. Likewise, it’s also clear that American Presbys don’t receive the Confession today in such a way as to require the literal view of the creation days as an article of faith (whether or not that’s what the Divines intended).

  107. David R. says:

    Just to keep things clear, there are several questions on the table, right? (Forgive me if the following is too presumptuous.)

    One of them is: Does WCF 24.4 violate 2K? And the answer is no. The simple point to be made (I think) about what the Confession says is that civil magistrates aren’t authorized to define/redefine marriage. Placing that limit on the magistrate’s authority doesn’t violate 2K.

    Another question: Is it true (as Rube argues) that “confessional Reformed Christians should vote against gay marriage”? The answer is no, not necessarily. After all, WCF 24.4 implies that a legislature bringing the redefinition of marriage up for a popular vote is overstepping its authority (as well as that of the electorate), since the question of how to define marriage simply isn’t up for a vote. Thus I could see a Reformed Christian refraining from voting on the grounds that his participation lends legitimacy to the process. (But I wouldn’t argue that someone shouldn’t participate. There’s liberty here).

    A third question: Can a confessionally Reformed Christian vote in favor of gay marriage? No. Given what we confess about marriage (in WCF 24), it would be inconsistent (not to mention sinful) for me to vote for it, since that would not only be conceding to the civil power a legislative authority it doesn’t rightfully possess; I would also be aiding it in enacting a law it isn’t authorized to enact.

    A fourth question: Does the North Carolina pastor’s lobbying of his congregation violate 2K/SOTC? The answer is clearly, yes. Though I would agree that much of what he says is helpful, and I do appreciate his caveat allowing for sincere disagreement. On the other hand, I do think it would be within the bounds of 2K/SOTC for the church itself to officially issue a statement of protest (as I think I recall the RCUS recently doing?).

    Ducking now….

  108. David R. says:

    Sean, regarding Kline (and I know this is all pretty off-topic), this has been something of a riddle to me in his presentation in KP. What I mean is: When he speaks of the mission of the redeemed covenant people (beginning p. 199ff.), he speaks solely in terms of their priestly and prophetic (i.e., cultic) functioning and says nothing about the royal (i.e., cultural) office. Now I realize he wants to locate the kingly/cultural task of the people of God in their common realm participation under the rule of providence and common grace. And I totally agree with this understanding. Yet at the same time, it seems to me that if this is all there is to be said, then there’s no place for the restoration of the “wise man-philosopher” role (which he sees as a kingly/cultural function) that he had outlined earlier on (which obviously unbelievers can’t share). Perhaps it simply comes down to not being able to say everything there is to be said. Or maybe I’m missing something. If he were still around, I’d try to find a way to ask him….

  109. Many of these comments are over my head. I agree with much of what Zrim says—but lack understanding in other areas. Hey Zrim, help a Negro out!

  110. Zrim says:

    David, the RCUS has indeed done so. But I’d rather err on the side of most NAPARC churches that have chosen not to do so on the grounds that the position of Scripture on homosexuality and sexual immorality is clear enough and needs no further emphasis. In point of fact, to refrain from official comment on the goings in the civil government seems to be the more conservative posture. One does wonder how statements like those issued from the RCUS aren’t examples of the world setting the church’s agenda.

  111. David R. says:

    Zrim, I tend to agree. But in this case, what’s at stake is not simply the issue of homosexuality or sexual immorality, but a redefinition of marriage. I haven’t read the RCUS statement and from the way I’ve read it described, it may be somewhat broader than I would wish. But I’m not sure an official statement focusing narrowly on the marriage redefinition issue could be construed as “meddling.”

  112. Zrim says:

    David, one test might be to ask whether the state is doing anything that would result in the church having to violate her conscience. So far, nothing suggests that to be the case. So while it may not be meddling, it’s also hard to see how it’s not at least a waste of resources. And if the Reformed want to maintain a 2k polemic against the evangelicals (from the Prot libs to the religious righties), it’s also hard to see how something like the RCUS statement isn’t hypocritical.

  113. David R. says:

    Zrim, I think your test is a good one for determining whether a humble petition is in order. But as far as I know, the RCUS statement wasn’t designed for that purpose. If it were intended for the purpose of directly influencing the civil authorities, I would agree with you. Or if it were crafted as a political statement rather than an exposition of the teaching of Scripture. In the end, I think you are right to question whether the time and energy were well-spent, but I’m still not sure I agree that such a statement would injure our 2K witness.

  114. RubeRad says:

    Hey gang, sorry I’ve been away for the weekend. I’ll probably never catch up now. Here’s a shotgun of comments…

    sean: I am VERY uncomfortable ditching the original intent of the divines, and I have trouble believing Clark would as well (he’s a historian, after all).

    sean,david: I’m a bicyclist, so I’d lean towards Kline’s cycles over Van Til’s antithesis. That bit about improved suppression was maybe overblown. Probably more accurate to say, that’s an area of sin that as a culture we’ve gotten better at suppressing lately; surely every age has its own specialties, but is there anything new under the sun (are we really more debauched than Rome?)

    PLM: I appreciate the attempt at a bailout, but is your solution really any different than David R.’s “incestuous marriages are invalid, even if the civil power sanctions them” (except biggie-sized, with a side of epistomology?)

    For DGH: “the differences between 1640s England (with a monarchy which had the king as head of the church at war with Parliament) and a democracy of egalitarian proportions” — I think leaves us the short end of the stick in this situation. Back then Christians would be able to say “Kings, meh. Whatcha gonna do?” Now we as citizens are solicited for our votes.

  115. RubeRad says:

    Placing that limit on the magistrate’s authority doesn’t violate 2K.

    Better I think to say “recognizing that natural-law limit on the magistrate’s authority…”, i.e. indicative rather than imperative. And kind of like the protestant version of canon-reception rather than the RC version of canon-formation/declaration.

    So I think my whole point is this; obviously gay marriage is not marriage, nobody here thinks so, nobody here would vote for it, most would vote against it (maybe a few would abstain, but I’m not sure why, if you’re filling out the rest of the ballot, why take a self-conscious inaction to allow a nonsense law to come into being?)

    So the entire phrase “[n]ever be made lawful by any law of man” (that inverted WCF language is so hard to quote in snippets!) is implicit (it lies behind every moral statement in the confession), and adds nothing but pointless politicism. The problem with taking it out of the confession would be that it would imply that “oh, so it can be made lawful after all” and may eventually be cause for mischief.

    Note the logical parallel with LC109. We are able to argue confessionally, from the American revision, that it is not forbidden to tolerate a false religion after all — and we would be correct. The American Presbys had good reason to remove the statement from the LC, because it was incorrect. This case is more difficult; the “offending” statement is not incorrect; it’s just unnecessarily political.

  116. sean says:

    David,

    I, like Rube, have been gone all weekend. I appreciate the clarification you gave of my thought on how the confession is ‘received’. There’s no way to say everything in a combox. As far as Kline goes you had remarked; “wise man-philosopher” role (which he sees as a kingly/cultural function) that he had outlined earlier on (which obviously unbelievers can’t share).” Now, I’ll have to go back and read on the connection, as to why the unbeliever, in Kline’s setup, in a common grace situation can’t perform the “wise-man philosopher” role, or even just the believer but in a common grace construct(which you had already noted). My ASSumption would be that he, the unbeliever, can (Imago Dei considerations) but that he can’t perform the priest or prophet role(cultic particularity-election). I’m sure there’s a re-uniting of offices, ,though not in a probated sense, in the consummation. Just as there will be of cult and culture in the new heavens and new earth but again graduated from the edenic state. IOW, I don’t know. Nor have I hung up on that issue before. But, thanks for the impetus to go back and read and think through it some more.

  117. Zrim says:

    (Maybe some would abstain because as convinced as some may be that homosexuality is not a legitimate or moral form of sexual expression and should not enjoy the political sanction of marriage, the same are just as opposed to the efforts of culture war and see their abstention as a way to push back on warriors from either side who overestimate of the power of politics and legislation. Or something like that.)

  118. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    David R. asks: “A fourth question: Does the North Carolina pastor’s lobbying of his congregation violate 2K/SOTC? The answer is clearly, yes.

    David R., why is it so clear that Pastor J.D. Greear’s statement asking his congregation to vote in favor of a marriage amendment to keep marriage as one-man, one-woman a violation of 2K/Spirituality of the Church teaching?

  119. David R. says:

    Sean,

    Thanks.

    My ASSumption would be that he, the unbeliever, can (Imago Dei considerations) but that he can’t perform the priest or prophet role (cultic particularity-election).

    As you’ll recall, for Kline the imago dei is comprised of functional/official, ethical and physical/visual components. The visual glory is only to be attained to in the consummation. The ethical glory is what was lost in the fall. So the only component that remains post-fall is the functional/official (which includes both royal and priestly aspects). The difference of course post-fall is that cultural/kingly activity is common, and cultically, man is an apostate. But by redeeming grace, the ethical component (true knowledge, righteousness and holiness) is restored, as is the hope of physical (resurrection) glory.

    My question has to do with how the restoration of ethical glory affects the functioning of the royal office specifically. While it’s true that fallen man does retain the post of “wise man-philosopher-scientist” (even as an unbeliever), for Kline it seems clear that only believers have the capacity to perform that role rightly (i.e, with true wisdom). For evidence, check out this quote (p. 76):

    The point we are making and illustrating here is the burden of the book of Proverbs. God’’s archetypal role in the sphere of wisdom and man’’s duty to apply the imitation of God principle in this area are effectively presented there by urging men to get (qanah) wisdom as the first or principal thing (reshith) and simultaneously declaring that God possessed wisdom (the same verb, qanah, is used) as the beginning (reshith) of his ways (see 4:7, cf. v. 5 and 8:22). Possessed by God from the very beginning, wisdom was the guiding principle that informed the whole process of creation (Prov 8:22-31). Hence, for man, true wisdom must consist in naming creation in conformity with the meaning-names determined and assigned by the creative wisdom of God, starting with the recognition of man’s own creatureliness and of the createdness of the heavens and earth and all their hosts – beginning, that is, with the fear of the Lord, which is wisdom (Prov 1:7; Job 28:28; Ps 111:10).

  120. David R. says:

    David R., why is it so clear that Pastor J.D. Greear’s statement asking his congregation to vote in favor of a marriage amendment to keep marriage as one-man, one-woman a violation of 2K/Spirituality of the Church teaching?

    Well, if the church’s jurisdiction is strictly spiritual, I would think political lobbying is excluded, wouldn’t you? The limitation specified for synods and councils certainly applies on the local level too: “Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate” (WCF 31.4).

  121. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Well, if the church’s jurisdiction is strictly spiritual, I would think political lobbying is excluded, wouldn’t you?”

    David R., I’d like to focus on the “if” part of your “if-then” conditional statement. What is your Biblical/Scriptural argument that the church’s jurisdiction is strictly spiritual?

    Moreover, what is your definition of “spiritual”? And can a “spiritual” thing or issue be so interwoven with non-spiritual elements that the non-spiritual elements are inseparable from the “spiritual” thing or issue?

  122. David R. says:

    TUAD,

    “Spiritual” is in distinction from “civil,” and pertains to those things that specifically fall within the jurisdiction of the church and not the civil magistrate, namely, the word, sacraments and discipline. I don’t have time for a long involved back-and-forth on this, but drawing sharp distinctions between the civil power and the ecclesiastical in terms of nature, source, goals, objects, effects, mode etc. is just standard Reformed theology.

  123. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    ““Spiritual” is in distinction from “civil,” … drawing sharp distinctions between the civil power and the ecclesiastical in terms of nature, source, goals, objects, effects, mode etc. is just standard Reformed theology.”

    David R., what are the Biblical/Scriptural arguments and/or verses/passages that undergird and support these sharp distinctions? Can you do it briefly or semi-briefly?

  124. RubeRad says:

    If you read between the between-the-lines (i.e. read the lines), I think you’ll find that he said he does not have time.

  125. Anonymous says:

    TUAD,
    Not really, but you can start with Luke 12:13-14, John 18:36 and Matthew 22:21. A question I would have for you is: Do you agree with WCF 31.4, or would you take an exception to it? If you agree with it, I would ask a follow-up: How do you think a pastor lobbying his congregation is consistent with it?

  126. David R. says:

    Sorry, that last one was from me.

  127. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Is WCF 31.4 based primarily upon Luke 12:13-14, John 18:36 and Matthew 22:21?

  128. RubeRad says:

    At well over 100 comments, this thread is kind of long in the tooth for starting a new discussion. TUAD, you should pose the question on your blog, and see who shows up to discuss it…

  129. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “TUAD,
    Not really, but you can start with Luke 12:13-14, John 18:36 and Matthew 22:21. A question I would have for you is: Do you agree with WCF 31.4, or would you take an exception to it? If you agree with it, I would ask a follow-up: How do you think a pastor lobbying his congregation is consistent with it?”

    David R.,

    I’m still pondering WCF 31.4 vis-a-vis W2K. What I’m taking exception to is an interpretation of WCF 31.4 that forbids church ministers from requesting members to vote in favor of biblical marriage.

    Such a forbiddance seems Pharasaical.

  130. Zrim says:

    Rube, don’t you recall 2k threads at GB that went over a thousand each? Long teeth are in the eye of the beholders.

    TUAD, I wonder what you might make of Jim Wallis plainly suggesting not too long ago that certain legislation involving immigration is wicked and sinful and how it is incumbent upon the faithful to affirm that:

    The law signed today by Arizona Gov. Brewer is a social and racial sin, and should be denounced as such by people of faith and conscience across the nation. It is not just about Arizona, but about all of us, and about what kind of country we want to be. It is not only mean-spirited – it will be ineffective and will only serve to further divide communities in Arizona, making everyone more fearful and less safe. This radical new measure, which crosses many moral and legal lines, is a clear demonstration of the fundamental mistake of separating enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform. Enforcement without reform of the system is merely cruel. Enforcement without compassion is immoral. Enforcement that breaks up families is unacceptable. This law will make it illegal to love your neighbor in Arizona, and will force us to disobey Jesus and his gospel. We will not comply.

    At least the mega-church pastor showed some 2k promise in spots. But by entreating his congregation in one direction, he really is doing nothing much different from Wallis. So in case you think 2k is some latent liberal program aimed at the evangie rightists, it is also just as at odds with the evangie progressives to the extent that both want to bring spiritual weight to bear directly on political matters, to dive into the Bible and surface with very specific political applications no where found in it. To the extent that each are children of modernity in this way (and others), Tomas Oden’s refrain rings true: Protestant liberals and Fundamentalists are more alike than either would be willing to admit.

  131. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim,

    Sorry, I’m not familiar with this legislation involving immigration that Jim Wallis is talking about.

    “Tomas Oden’s refrain rings true: Protestant liberals and Fundamentalists are more alike than either would be willing to admit.”

    There are LibProt Pharisees, Fundy Pharisees, and apparently W2K Pharisees.

    I.e., an interpretation of WCF 31.4 that forbids church ministers from requesting members to vote in favor of biblical marriage.

    Such a forbiddance seems Pharasaical.

  132. sean says:

    TUAD,

    SInce David, Zrim and Rube have all tried to address you from different angles, try this one on, and it’s probably been said better and before; How about refraining from using the confession in such a way as to render it ahistorical. IOW, if we use the confession, like many try to use scripture, to address every modern opportunity, political or otherwise, we run the very real risk of not only de-contextualizing the confession or the scriptures from their ‘true’ historical context but also using the confession or scriptures in such a way, that they no longer are available to address the weightier questions of redemptive history, salvation, and the nature of God and man. Resist trying to deconstruct this statement for all it’s epistemological/philosophical sophistication or ‘value’ or lack thereof and as much as possible just think on what is being said. IOW, focus on the principle being laid out, whether said or written optimally or not, and just think about whether the confession or scripture should be extracted from it’s historical context and forced to answer every potential modern question.

  133. Zrim says:

    Sean, the only way to read the confessions and the Bible in redemptive terms is by way of 2k. But evangelical critics like TUAD are persuaded that the confessions and the Bible must be made relevant to worldly concerns, including political questions. This is what informs any version of prosperity gospel, and the accusation is always the same: pharisee for limiting the program of God to eternal concern and not letting us press the Bible into the service of the doctrines of relevancy. But neither the confessions nor the Bible prescribe any guidelines for a healthy polis any more than they do for a healthy physique or wealthy checking account.

  134. David R. says:

    TUAD,

    To add to the responses you’re already getting …

    What I’m taking exception to is an interpretation of WCF 31.4 that forbids church ministers from requesting members to vote in favor of biblical marriage.

    Such a forbiddance seems Pharasaical.

    That seems to me a bizarre accusation. Do you think it’s pharisaical that church courts are forbidden from meddling in civil affairs? If not, how would you explain the distinction?

  135. David R. says:

    TUAD,

    While you’re chewing on that, yet one more angle: Ministers issue imperatives in Christ’s name. Where Christ stops speaking, they’re supposed to stop too, agreed? Well this guy issued an imperative (“So, I encourage you go out and vote in support of this amendment …”) which he then acknowledged to be grounded in his personal opinion (“sincere Christians might disagree on whether this particular amendment is helpful”). You see the problem? If he’s speaking for Christ, there’s no room for disagreement. If it’s just his opinion, he has no authority to ask them to act on it.

  136. justsinner99 says:

    Define “civil affairs.”

    It seems to me that the 10 Commandments “meddle” in *most* civil affairs.

    Do you just use that term to refer to things political?

  137. justsinner99 says:

    I think you have a point, but the statement that “sincere Christians might disagree” is the part that is out of place.

    By that same logic I could not preach authoritatively about Creation, divorce, eschatology, the Sabbath, etc.

  138. sean says:

    Andy says;
    “It seems to me that the 10 Commandments “meddle” in *most* civil affairs.”

    Are you gonna argue that the 10 commandments, as such, in their covenantal context, have application directly or even normatively outside of OT Israel? I’m happy to concede that their is NL overlap, particularly with the ‘second table’ in a civil context(natural law being the arbiter), but now I’m curious how you handle your above statement.

  139. David R. says:

    I’m simply referencing WCF 31.4: “Synods and councils are … not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth …”

  140. justsinner99 says:

    OK. I still think we need a clear understanding of what the divines meant by ‘intermeddling’ there. The rest of WCF 31.4 makes it clear that they did not intend to rule out any & all such interaction.

    It says, “unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”

  141. justsinner99 says:

    My basic point is that the moral law is involved in most aspects of life, not just “church” things. (No, I’m not a Theonomist.)

  142. David R. says:

    Obviously you can preach authoritatively about lots of stuff that not all sincere Christians agree about. But look again at the distinction he makes: “Whether or not homosexuality is sinful is not up for debate at our church [i.e., your conscience is bound], but sincere Christians might disagree on whether this particular amendment is helpful [i.e., your conscience isn’t bound].” I think he’s tacitly acknowledging that he doesn’t have the authority to direct them one way or the other.

  143. Zrim says:

    David, I agree with what you are recently suggesting of Greear. But it still seems to me that the only real difference between what he’s doing and what the RCUS has done is the difference between informal evangelicals and formal confessionalists. It hard to see how the RCUS isn’t giving a wink and a nudge to its constituency the way Greear is. It’s all being done in the cultural and political context of the gay marriage question. Does anybody really think the RCUS randomly chose this issue to clarify with no intention of implying how its members should comport themselves politically? I still don’t see why Greear is getting the 2k wrap on the knuckles but the RCUS gets to go to recess, and I’m not sure it would be a stretch to wonder if it’s a case of double standard where the RCUS can because they’re us but the evangies can’t because they’re them. If anything, it should be the other way around.

  144. justsinner99 says:

    If he is equivocating, then you are right that he should not have bothered to say it from the pulpit.

    I’m not sure that is the case. He could simply be trying to acknowledge that this can be a rather sensitive subject and one that could cause offense in those who sincerely (even if wrongly) disagree.

  145. sean says:

    Now I feel like the hall monitor. Let me see your pass!

  146. justsinner99 says:

    I have a note from my Mom – it’s here somewhere.

  147. David R. says:

    Zrim, Like you I tend to think there’s a better use of the church’s resources. But if someone asks: “Is it a violation of 2K if …?” then I wouldn’t want to draw the lines too narrowly. I haven’t read the RCUS paper so I can’t evaluate it, but I’ve already suggested that from the way it’s been described, it seems too broad, i.e., not limiting itself narrowly to the issue of the redefinition of marriage, but instead also expounding the church’s view of homosexuality and sexual immorality. I would also add that I think such a statement should make clear that it is not to be construed as advocating one particular public policy or another.

  148. David R. says:

    Well, after all this discussion I decided it might be a good idea to actually read the proposed amendment that Greear was lobbying for. Here it is:

    “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State. This Section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

    One thing I notice is that it’s not actually dealing with the issue of “redefinition.” I think one would be hard-pressed to argue that a Christian couldn’t vote either yea or nay in good conscience.

  149. Zrim says:

    David, this is where I scratch my head a bit. If it is made clear that the RCUS statement (I’ve only done a cursory reading, but enough I think to keep talking about it this way) is not to be construed as advocating one particular public policy or another, then I don’t see what difference there really is between it and Greear.

    And so while I am hesitant to indulge the rather simplistic questions that TUAD has, if Greear’s is a “violation of 2k/SOTC” then I don’t see what keeps the RCUS stuff from being that as well, and especially if it doesn’t have the 2k-ish caveats that Greear does (who says confessionalists can’t give big-box evangies credit where it’s due?).

  150. David R. says:

    Zrim, I’ll see if I can find the RCUS paper and check it out. Where I think Greear goes too far (on 2K assumptions) is in lobbying, i.e., “Go out and vote yea.” But a paper limiting itself to the exposition/application of Scripture (speaking hypothetically since I don’t know if the RCUS paper in fact does this) can’t be unacceptable.

  151. David R. says:

    justsinner,

    OK. I still think we need a clear understanding of what the divines meant by ‘intermeddling’ there. The rest of WCF 31.4 makes it clear that they did not intend to rule out any & all such interaction. It says, “unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”

    True, “cases extraordinary” is undefined, but I would understand that to mean situations where the church is being compelled to violate her conscience. “[B]y way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience,” i.e., if the civil magistrate asks for the church’s input, the church shouldn’t defiantly refuse to give it.

  152. Zrim says:

    David, fair enough, of course. Still, I’m inclined to side with the greater balance of NAPARC churches which have declined to go the way of the RCUS, sensing perhaps that more is involved than simply expositing Scripture.

    But also in your response to Andy, do you think in even the extraordinary cases where the state requests the church’s input it’s possible that a refusal to answer could just as easily be the result of prudence as defiance? Is it possible that even when asked, silence is preferred?

  153. David R. says:

    Zrim, yes, the church should only speak where Scripture does and should decline to advise outside its area of expertise.

  154. justsinner99 says:

    If you take the “extraordinary” cases mentioned in WCF 31.4 (which included both petitioning *to* the state and/or responding to a request for advice *from* the state) and apply it to the scenario that we have been discussing (i.e. pastor Greear telling his congregation how they should vote), I think we will find that WCF actually seems to even more strongly favor the pastor’s actions here.

    In the scenario we are discussing, the pastor is not “intermeddling” directly with the state at all (!); he is only speaking to his own congregation. So if there are cases (even if extraordinary ones, so NOT the norm) when a pastor can approach the state, he certainly can speak to *his own church* regarding the state.

  155. David R. says:

    But if “Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical,” then I would think this goes for individual ministers as well (greater to the lesser).

  156. justsinner99 says:

    Why not answer, if asked?

    And if it is a question regarding something outside of the church’s purview (although I have trouble coming up with a realistic scenario to use for an example), wouldn’t it be an acceptable answer to simply tell them that we (the church) would consider it adiaphora?

  157. justsinner99 says:

    I think you may have missed my point. The pastor (according to WCF 34.1) really isn’t doing anything contrary to that – telling his congregation how to vote isn’t addressing the state as state at all, and so is not then “intermeddling” at all, even in telling the flock how to vote.

  158. David R. says:

    No, I got your point, but I think you’re missing mine. The Confession is not merely dealing with extraordinary cases in which church courts may legitimately petition or advise the civil magistrate. It’s also limiting that which church courts may legitimately handle (i.e., even apart from the question of directly addressing the magistrate).

  159. RubeRad says:

    [justasinner]: …he should not have bothered to say it from the pulpit.

    Just a clarification; he did not say it from the pulpit (that I know of), what we’re talking about here is a pastor’s blog, however he is pretty clearly addressing his congregation (in coordination with elders)

  160. justsinner99 says:

    Maybe we are talking past each other a bit.

    I think we both agree that the church’s primary role (including individual pastors, not just church courts) is not political. It should be the exception, not the rule. I don’t think we pastors (or Sessions . . .) should be in the business of telling our flock how to vote on Bond measures, funding of infrastructure or schools, etc.

    But in things that are of direct consequence to the moral and spiritual welfare of both church and our neighbor, we are (I believe) entirely within our rights to speak. I would consider the topic of gay marriage, abortion, etc. all to fall within that category.

  161. justsinner99 says:

    Justsinner (not justAsinner). 🙂

    To be honest, if he handled this via a blog or email, I have even less of a problem with it. In fact, that is pretty much how I would prefer for him to deal with this issue. (Although, he would most likely not reach the older crowd in his church through a blog.)

    Where is his blog? I want to click “like” on that post! 😉

  162. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    (Eyebrows arched, then furrowed. What manner of twisted W2K pretzelmaking is this?)

    Sean 6/16/12 at 8:33am: “the question isn’t so much the intent of the divines at the time or even the american revisionists, but how the confession is received in the church today. I distinctly remember Clark making that point again and again.”

    Versus

    Sean 6/18/12 at 8:46pm: “How about refraining from using the confession in such a way as to render it ahistorical.”

    Sean, comparing your earlier statement with your later statement, at best it looks incoherent and self-contradictory.

    —-

    “IOW, focus on the principle being laid out, whether said or written optimally or not, and just think about whether the confession or scripture should be extracted from it’s historical context and forced to answer every potential modern question.”

    Done. David R.’s answer still comes out as a W2K move of Phariseeism. Takes the historical context of the WCF, reads the WCF through the man-made W2K tradition, and then takes the W2K beating stick to club and scold ministers who violate W2K teaching by just the simple act of requesting members to vote for biblical marriage.

  163. David R. says:

    TUAD,

    Regarding your puzzlement as to how to reconcile Sean’s two comments, the simple solution is that in his first one he was referencing how the church officially interprets her Confession (animus imponentis), whereas in his later one, he was referencing how you insist on (mis)interpreting it.

    Regarding your response to me: Funny that my “answer” smacks to you of “pharisaism,” since I never even gave you an “answer”; all I did was ask you a few leading questions in the hopes that we could have a conversation. But I’d forgotten that you never ever answer anyone’s questions or honestly engage what they’re saying. Silly me….

  164. sean says:

    Tuaddle,

    This sort of woodenness is why you’re tuaddle. It’s my fault for engaging you otherwise. You are who you are; You are Twaddle.

  165. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    David R.: “Regarding your puzzlement as to how to reconcile Sean’s two comments, the simple solution is that in his first one he was referencing how the church officially interprets her Confession (animus imponentis), whereas in his later one, he was referencing how you insist on (mis)interpreting it.

    (Snicker). Here’s your earlier comment on 6/16 at 1:15pm: “I think Sean is referring to the animis imponentis, the idea that the mind of the church, or the church’s interpretation of its confession, is what is ultimately authoritative.”

    You don’t even know what Sean meant. Hence, the qualifier “I think.” Secondly, where did I provide an interpretation of the WCF such that I am “using the confession in such a way as to render it ahistorical” per Sean’s accusation? Third, where did I “insist on (mis)interpreting it” per your accusation?

    David R.: “Funny that my “answer” smacks to you of “pharisaism,” since I never even gave you an “answer”

    (More snickering.) Here’s your earlier comment at 6/16/12 at 2:08pm: “A fourth question: Does the North Carolina pastor’s lobbying of his congregation violate 2K/SOTC? The answer is clearly, yes.

    David R.: “all I did was ask you a few leading questions in the hopes that we could have a conversation.”

    With regards to your leading questions, there’s ambiguity in the terms. Eg., JustSinner99, Pastor Andy writes: “Define “civil affairs.” And “OK. I still think we need a clear understanding of what the divines meant by ‘intermeddling’ there.”

  166. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Me: “What I’m taking exception to is an interpretation of WCF 31.4 that forbids church ministers from requesting members to vote in favor of biblical marriage.
    Such a forbiddance seems Pharasaical.”

    David R.: “That seems to me a bizarre accusation.”

    Whether you think it’s bizarre or not, the charge holds. The Pharisee shoes fit the W2K feet. Own it.

  167. Zrim says:

    Andy-the-sinner (boldly, I hope?), what David said. But try a thought experiment: if a cop asked a principal if he thought a delinquent student should be arrested, wouldn’t the principal be wise to say that’s beyond his jurisdiction, even if he has an opinion? So it is if magistrates ask churches about things on which they may well have an opinion but lack ordination. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

  168. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim: “I still don’t see why Greear is getting the 2k wrap on the knuckles but the RCUS gets to go to recess, and I’m not sure it would be a stretch to wonder if it’s a case of double standard where the RCUS can because they’re us but the evangies can’t because they’re them. If anything, it should be the other way around.”

    A superb observation. Anakin-Zrim Skywalker, there may be a sliver of hope for you yet.

  169. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Where is his blog? I want to click “like” on that post!”

    Heh, heh. 🙂

  170. justsinner99 says:

    I get the sphere-sovereignty thing. (Is that too Kuyperian?) But I don’t think that analogy really applies to the Pastor Greear scenario. He is speaking (writing) to his congregation. And I think the principal would tell the Po-Po that cutting class is not against the law and not a criminal activity.

    A church member may (should!) want to know how he should live to God’s glory as a citizen, including voting. And, like I said, a lot of that may be adiaphora (e.g. bond measures, zoning, etc.), but NOT all of it.

    A Christian voting in approval of something inherently sinful and/or that harms his neighbor (i.e. abortion, gay marriage, etc.) is not a valid option for a believer.

  171. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate” (WCF 31.4).

    David R.: “The Confession is not merely dealing with extraordinary cases in which church courts may legitimately petition or advise the civil magistrate. It’s also limiting that which church courts may legitimately handle (i.e., even apart from the question of directly addressing the magistrate).”

    David R. (and Zrim, Sean, Jed Paschall, DG Hart),

    Did the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) violate the W2K Pharisee interpretation of WCF 31.4 back in 1991 (and later in 1993) when they did the following:

    “In 1991, the twenty-first General Assembly adopted the following position paper titled, Declaration of Conscience on Homosexuals and the Military. This position paper was sent to the President of the United States of America, and copies of the paper were also sent to the leadership of the United States House of Representatives and Senate, governors of several states, and other interested parties.”

    Read it all at Why Christians Should Not Seek the Repeal of Sodomy Laws.

    Doesn’t the PCA subscribe to the WCF? David R., et al, did the PCA violate WCF 31.4 with those Position Papers that they sent to the President of the United States, leadership of the House and Senate, and governors of several states?

    Don’t duck and run.

  172. sean says:

    Andy,

    Just to add a thought. When was the last time a prop. or piece of legislation was crafted that was truly a matter of the righteous vs. the unrighteous? There are other arguments about silence and proper ‘sphere’ adherance, and penultimate and ultimate distinctions, well-crafted legislation vs. poorly crafted, and humility about what you know and what you don’t know(part of the reason the state was forced out of the church business in america is because they were incompetent to adjudicate church concerns-heresy, discipline. That distinction cuts both ways.), but how many times is legislation put out there as ‘red meat’ for the base to rally around or pull the ‘self-righteous’, ‘civil-religion’, ‘Christian America’ card. Particularly, in Ca. where prop’s are circulated every year and simply add another layer to the already redundant and self-contradictory laws on the books. Most of this, IMO, is so much noise, and political manipulation of the base that just distracts the church and it’s congregants from work, that by and large is being done poorly, if at all-catechesis and theology. Maybe, we should worry about the sorry state or our own house before we get too fired up about the latest political wind coming down the coast. Not that you are, but I find political foment an easy distraction for the church and pastor who’s time needs to be spent elsewhere.

  173. Zrim says:

    TUAD, did the Baylys line up with Paul when they excoriated the President? How does doing so comport with: “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.” How does chiding a magistrate square with minding your own household, not to mention demonstrating a spirit of respect and submission to the one God has appointed as his minister over you?

  174. RubeRad says:

    Ah, Just-Sinner, that’s good. A gospel message instead of “just” humility. You should use some CamelCase to draw that out.

    The original blog post under discussion is linked in my blog post above, although you might get carpals in your tunnels if you have to scroll-wheel all the way up there from here, so here’s a helpful link

  175. RubeRad says:

    When was the last time a prop. or piece of legislation was crafted that was truly a matter of the righteous vs. the unrighteous?

    As I note in the original post, gay marriage seems to be one of those rare cases. Prop 8 added merely 14 words to the CA constitution: Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It doesn’t get any cutter or drier than that. The NC law (quoted somewhere above) is only a few sentences (search this page for “contracts”), and seems similarly straightforward.

    But you are correct to note that this is quite rare. Ironically, abortion (which is I think an even clearer violation of Natural Law) is always messy when it comes to legislation. You’ll never see a proposed law as simple as “Abortion is homicide”. There’s always plusses and minusses and pros and cons about exceptions for health/rape/incest, how many trimesters, parental notification, age of minors, etc., not to mention associated issues like accessibility to condoms, pills, education, etc., which make it a lot less about right and wrong than about the lesser evil. DVD addresses this well.

  176. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim: “How does chiding a magistrate square with minding your own household, not to mention demonstrating a spirit of respect and submission to the one God has appointed as his minister over you?”

    With regards to your question, answer this: did the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) violate the W2K Pharisee interpretation of WCF 31.4 back in 1991 (and later in 1993) when they did the following:

    “In 1991, the twenty-first General Assembly adopted the following position paper titled, Declaration of Conscience on Homosexuals and the Military. This position paper was sent to the President of the United States of America, and copies of the paper were also sent to the leadership of the United States House of Representatives and Senate, governors of several states, and other interested parties.”

  177. David R. says:

    TUAD,

    Since you never answer questions, you’ll forgive me for not answering yours, but I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure out on your own whether that particular GA acted more or less in accord with 2K than all the other GAs that refrained from petitioning.

  178. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    David R., I answer questions frequently. Particularly, well-formed questions.

    “I’m sure you’re smart enough to figure out on your own whether that particular GA acted more or less in accord with 2K than all the other GAs that refrained from petitioning.”

    Okay, my guess is that W2K Phariseeism condemns or disapproves of the Presbyterian Church in America’s 1991 position paper titled “Declaration of Conscience on Homosexuals and the Military” that it sent to the President of the United States, leadership of the U.S. House and Senate, and governors of several states because it violates the W2K interpretation of WCF 31.4.

  179. Zrim says:

    TUAD, on top of David’s response I’ll just add an observation about rightist 2k critics: one wonders just what would be a case of ignoring WCF 31.4 and the doctrine of the spirituality of the church if not the instances of PCA GAs ’91 and ’93. My guess is that it’s when the government acts in accordance with more rightist views and progressive anti-2kers pipe up in the same way is when the doctrine gets attention.

    It’s not too unlike the case of Falwell who, in the 1950s sounded fairly 2kish when it came to civil rights (he refused to comment since politics wasn’t the church’s arena). The cultural and political status quo was on his rightist side. Then came the 60s when the tide turned and, voila, in came the Moral Majority and out went any sense of 2k. But like I suggested above when it comes to progressive Jim Wallis, 2k is an equal opportunity doctrine. It can get frustrating when anti-2ks never seem to get it, but the upside is that it’s fun to watch rightist anti-2ks and progressive anti-2ks fight about whose side God is on.

  180. truthunites says:

    It’s more fun watching W2Kers realize that they’re W2K Pharisees.

  181. David R. says:

    TUAD, for someone to “realize” it, there would first have to be an argument made that this is in fact the case. I may have missed it, but I don’t think that’s happened yet.

  182. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim, were the PCA’s General Assemblies in 1991 and 1993 rightist anti-2K’s because they violated the W2K Pharisee interpretation of WCF 31.4?

  183. Zrim says:

    TUAD, I believe we spoke behind the scenes about the loaded questions. Stop it, or I’ll put you in a box.

  184. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Loaded”? I never accepted any accusation that any question I asked was “loaded”. Go read the last e-mail exchange.

  185. Richard says:

    Do you have a day job, TUAD? Just curious.

  186. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Does Pastor John Piper escape W2K condemnation?

    “The Star-Tribune article about my sermon this past weekend got it partly right and partly wrong.

    The part that they got right was that I did not give a public endorsement for any legislation or candidate.

    But they got two parts wrong.

    First they say, “Key Minnesota pastors opt out of marriage fight.” I didn’t opt out. I opted in. What is at stake more than anything else is the meaning of marriage and how important it is for the common good and for the glory of Christ. That was the main burden of the message. Marriage is the sexual and covenantal union of a man and a woman pledging life-long allegiance to each other as husband and wife. There is no such thing as so-called same-sex “marriage.” That is clear in God’s word.

    The second mistake is to say that I “have not encouraged members to take a stand on the issue.” That is, in fact, the opposite of what I was saying in the last two points of my message (points 7 and 8).

    The aim of point 7 was to help our people know how to vote on the marriage amendment. The question for all of us is, Which of our beliefs about what is good for the common good should be put into constitutional law? I gave four guidelines. The aim of those guidelines was not to discourage our people from “taking a stand” but to help them take an intelligent one.

    The aim of point 8 was that over the long haul Christians will take clearer, stronger, more effective stands for justice and righteousness and the common good if pastors and preachers speak powerfully and faithfully and biblically to the moral and spiritual and ethical and theological issues surrounding political issues, rather than advocating particular candidates and laws. I gave several historical illustrations of how this has worked.

    Therefore, I encourage all Christians to think this through, and to take a stand, and to be as active in the political process on this issue as their conscience dictates.”

  187. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Evangelical Pastor John Piper should receive W2K praise for his sermon:

    “8. Don’t press the organization of the church or her pastors into political activism. Pray that the church and her ministers would feed the flock of God with the word of God centered on the gospel of Christ crucified and risen. Expect from your shepherds not that they would rally you behind political candidates or legislative initiatives, but they would point you over and over again to God and to his word, and to the cross.”

    Earlier:

    “Laws exist to preserve and enhance the public good. Which means that all laws are based on some conception of what is good for us. Which means that all legislation and all voting is a moral activity. It is based on choices about what is good for the public. And those choices are always informed by a world view. And in that worldview — whether conscious or not — there are views of ultimate reality that determine what a person thinks the public good is.

    Which means that all legislation is the legislation of morality. Someone’s view of what is good — what is moral — wins the minds of the majority and carries the day. The question is: Which actions hurt the common good or enhance the common good so much that the one should be prohibited by law and the other should be required by law?”

  188. Zrim says:

    TUAD, 2k doesn’t condemn. But it’s hard to read the Baylys and not see condemnation up one side and down another, both for magistrates that have different political views and for 2kers who don’t show sufficient moral outrage and are content with just disagreeing and employing the tools of politics to affirm or oppose political views.

    Reading evangelicals like Piper and Greear is just confusing. On the one hand they extol the virtues of liberty and the spiritual and apolitical role of the church, then on the other they publicly weigh in on political matters. Is it the siren song of being a “key Minnesota pastor” that one cannot resist “piping up” on popular political issues of the day? Because if he really believed “the church and her pastors shouldn’t be pressed into political activism” then he shouldn’t act like one. Can you say forked tongue?

  189. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “TUAD, 2k doesn’t condemn.”

    Definition of condemn: “To express strong disapproval of”

    W2K condemns those who violate W2K teachings.

  190. justsinner99 says:

    I think we could all use a new topic.

    I’m too tired to keep on beating this dead horse. 🙂

  191. sean says:

    Fundamentalism sure can crank out the volume. It’s like being on the wrong end of the discovery process. “Sir, We have 23 pallets of boxes filled with discovery. Where would you like us to place them? What do they say, you ask? ‘Mostly hurray for our side'”

  192. Zrim says:

    Sorry, TUAD, but there’s a difference between strongly opposing and condemning. 2k does the former. For an example of the latter, you might recall how the Baylys suggest that those who don’t render huzzahs to their politicizing the pulpit or who don’t join them at protesting abortion clinics aren’t faithful. When it comes to things indifferent, 2k makes room for differences without doing impugning another’s faith.

  193. mikelmann says:

    Zrim, how did you rig it so that TUAD got the pink symbol-thingy?

  194. Zrim says:

    No rigging, like providence has a sense of humor, the OH just has good intuition. Is that gay?

  195. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    “Sorry, TUAD, but there’s a difference between strongly opposing and condemning. 2k does the former.”

    Sorry, Zrim, there’s no difference.

    W2K strongly opposes = W2K condemns

    W2K strongly opposes Westboro Baptist tactics = W2K condemns Westboro Baptist tactics.

    W2K strongly opposes = W2K condemns

    W2K strongly opposes PCA General Assemblies in 1991 and 1993 = W2K condemns PCA General Assemblies in 1991 and 1993

  196. Zrim says:

    TUAD, thanks for demonstrating the tick that explains the inability to distinguish between things like poor judgment and sin. Who says the Reformed don’t have Fundamentalists in their ranks?

  197. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Zrim, thanks for demonstrating the ablility of W2K Pharisees in parsing false distinctions between “strongly opposing” and “condemning.”

  198. RubeRad says:

    Three things to note:

    Uno: This is comment #200!
    B: Due to complaints in this thread, we have turned off nested commenting (which unfolds the nested comments in this thread, and makes it even harder to follow)
    D: Assuming the “no law of man” language applies not just to incest but also to “one man and one woman”, what’s a good Presbyterian missionary to do with a native with multiple wives? As I understand it, the conventional approach is not to un-marry all superfluous wives, but to acknowledge the responsibility of the husband to support and care for his entire family, while discouraging (or even forbidding?) any additional wives.

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