8.10.2022

Now Also At Substack


I don't really have a large audience for my occasional posts, as far as I know. But blogger/blogspot doesn't really have good subscription options.  Various widgets have been discontinued and/or are at best only semi-functional.

I will be cross-posting here: https://gregorybaus.substack.com/

So, if substack is something you use or might try out, please subscribe to my blog there.
Thanks!

 

 

8.03.2022

Recovering the Reformed Confession on Resistance

Here's my discussion with pastor Aldo Leon of Pinelands PCA (southeast Miami area) on the Gospel On Tap podcast, episode 95. We talk about the historical, confessional Reformed view of Romans 13 (the "prescriptive office" view), and its meaning for the proper role and strictly limited jurisdiction of civil governance, and The Right Of Political Resistance (even when the government is not requiring us to sin).

See the timestamp outline below the video.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UcwN0x5tvY

00:14  Pastor Aldo general intro

01:32  Topic intro
Discussed on Presbycast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC95p88UzKg

03:07  Gregory's bio https://sites.google.com/site/ideolog/

04:57  Gregory learned about the Reformed view of the role and limit of civil governance, and the Right of Political Resistance in F.A. Schaeffer's A Christian Manifesto
book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1581346921
video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLDP8pocwo

06:21  Singleness https://thelaymenslounge.com/an-open-letter-to-christian-singles/

07:28  F.A. Schaeffer & R.C. Sproul on statism: https://www.ligonier.org/posts/statism-biggest-concern-future-church-america
 
08:12  The Main Question: Are we obligated by God to submit to everything civil government requires, unless it is requiring sin?
Why not?

09:48  Everything that happens is in God's providence. But the providential fact of someone in power is not God's "ordinance" in Romans 13.

13:50  Romans 13 says there is a God-ordained role/office of punishing actual civil wrongdoing; using coercion (the sword) against injustices (eg, murder and theft). This is the strict God-given limit on civil authority; civil government's actions outside that limited jurisdiction are illegitimate and sinful.

17:37  1 Corinthians 6:1-8 forbids taking civil disputes between Christians to unjust judges. If Romans 13 required submitting to the judgment of those who claimed civil power at the time, this would be a contradiction.

19:20  Reading Romans 13:1-7 from ESV

21:03  Clearly contrasting the wrong view and the right view:
The common wrong view is that we must submit to everything that is not sin required by whoever is, providentially, in power.
The right (Reformed) view is that we are only obligated to submit to what God prescriptively (morally) ordains: specifically, the lawful administration of civil justice. We are not prohibited from resisting tyranny or unjust laws, etc.

24:31  A "providential" view of the passage makes all civil power arbitrary; it amounts to nothing more than "might-makes-right".

26:40  When the false view is applied to and consistently worked-out in other spheres of God-ordained authority, such as home and church, then it would absurdly entail that abusive husbands and fathers are legitimate, and that false teachers could not be deposed from office.  
But God does not give us such unqualified "blank check" authority in any sphere.

31:32  Hosea 8:4 clearly teaches that existing civil governments can be contrary to God's will.

37:32  Hebrews 13:17 also speaks like Romans 13, in an indicative way (stating a fact), and it is understood as referring to a moral prescription for church office.

39:24  Question: How should we understand exhortations in 1 Peter about suffering? Or the appeal to Jeremiah 29 about promoting Babylon's peace, etc?

43:51 Correction!
Gregory meant to say John Milton wrote Paradise Lost (not, 'Divine Comedy' by Dante). But see Milton's entry in the bibliography.

44:09  The New Testament exhortations concerning suffering are about how to suffer in Christ (when it's unavoidable). We are not commanded to suffer, or prohibited from seeking to avoid suffering.

48:02  The Reformed Political Resistance Theology annotated bibliography - https://tinyurl.com/RefoPoliResistBib

50:42  Providence cannot be the basis for moral duty, because everything that occurs, even sin, is God's providence. If we shouldn't resist the government because of God's providence, wouldn't resistance to government be equally God's providence? So how can the duty to submit be coherently based on the fact of a government existing by God's providence? (It cannot).

55:17  Saying that any human authority, when they aren't requiring sin, has an otherwise unqualified or unlimited jurisdiction and scope of authority --such a view is idolatrous.

58:40  Question: Why have so many NAPARC (conservative, confessionally Reformed) churches neglected the historical, confessional Reformed "prescriptive office" view?
It is not taught in most Reformed seminaries. Why?
Possible contributing factors: pietistic "personal experience" focus, progressive/liberal accommodationist/syncretist identifying God's kingdom with the state, scholastic nature-grace dualism.
See Gregory's related post: https://honest2blog.blogspot.com/2022/01/reformed-biblical-theological.html

1:18:33  Elements of feminizing men and feminizing worship also contribute

1:27:23 Gregory's closing thoughts:

a. Westminster Confession 20.4 affirms the prescriptive office view in speaking of "lawful" power. (And the other Reformed confessions have similar language.)
b. see forthcoming info at Gregory's blog on authors from the bibliography about the Reformed View of The Right of Political Resistance. Preface here: https://honest2blog.blogspot.com/2022/08/the-right-of-political-resistance.html


1:31:18  Pastor Aldo's closing thoughts:
God's Word tells us what the proper role and limited jurisdiction of civil governance is. The church's role is to declare and minister that Word in witness to the world. And believers individually may testify before those who claim power to the truth of His Word.
Also, if a believer votes for a candidate to civil office, they should discern whether the candidate has a commitment to actual limited government, especially locally where local officers can serve to oppose higher levels of tyranny.

*Important caveat: while some Reformed authors did teach an erroneous 'providential' view, that view was rejected by the Reformed churches in their confessions.




8.02.2022

The Right Of Political Resistance - preface

[audio/video forthcoming]

There is a prominent need for not only Reformed church laity, but also officers to gain greater familiarity with the historical, confessional Reformed teaching on The Right of Political Resistance. Shamefully, this teaching is largely ignored and contradicted in numerous NAPARC churches.

This topic is important for several reasons:

1. It is an ethical matter of “non-indifference.” It is a matter either decidedly permissible or impermissible, addressed in Scripture and in our doctrinal standards.

2. As such an ethical matter, it is not something about which the officers of the church must remain silent, but something about which they are obligated to teach and administer discipline.

3. It is a frequently encountered ethical matter. Christians must make choices nearly on a daily basis that may be informed by one’s beliefs on the matter.

4. It is a matter of the church’s faithful witness to the truth of God’s Word; and misrepresentations can be a major, unwarranted stumbling block before unbelievers to the call of the gospel, and to the consciences of believers.

Given the great need for this teaching, and its importance, I hope to make it more accessible by presenting vignettes of several Reformed authors and their statements from an annotated bibliography on the topic. If you find this edifying, please consider sharing and discussing the bibliography and forthcoming posts, especially with your elders and other believers.

In summary, the historical, confessional Reformed teaching on The Right of Political Resistance is:

Since, according to Scripture, God prescriptively ordains the administration of civil justice, and civil governance is strictly limited to this task, we are only obligated to submit to actual civil justice. The claim to civil power or exercise of power that violates civil justice is not ordained by God, and may be legitimately resisted. It is not only orders to sin that must be refused, but any civil requirement beyond the God-ordained sphere of civil justice may, when not otherwise sinful, be justly ignored.

The doctrinal standards of the Reformed churches affirm that unlawful power and unjust exercise of power is tyranny, and may be legitimately resisted because it is not ordained by God, and so no one can be obligated to submit to it. The Westminster Confession of Faith 20.4 specifies that those who “oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it... resist the ordinance of God.” The Second Helvetic Confession of Faith 30 similarly specifies obedience only to “just and fair commands.” The Belgic Confession of Faith 36 specifies obedience only to “things that are not in conflict with God’s Word,” and denounces all, even civil powers, who would “subvert justice.”
[See also the Congregationalists' 1658 Savoy Declaration 24.4, and the Baptists' 1689 London Confession 24.3 similar use of the term lawful to WCF 23.4 in this comparison chart.]


Some prospective vignettes:
1. John Chrysostom (c.347-407)
    : one of the most important Nicene era pastors (and a martyr) in Antioch and Constantinople

2. Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575)
    : Reformed pastor in Zurich and author of the Helvetic Confessions

3. Theodore Beza (1519-1605)
    : Reformed pastor in Geneva and founder of the university law school

4. Zacharias Ursinus (1534-1583)
    : Reformed theologian in Heidelberg and author of the Heidelberg Catechism

5. Johannes Althusius (1563-1638)
    : Reformed legal scholar in Emden and author of Politica

and many more...


3.22.2022

Honest To Pod podcast links

Here are various and sundry podcast aggregator (or podcatcher) links for Honest To Pod - Gregory Baus talks about stuff. (For now, no apple/itunes). 

It's only "occasional," whenever I happen to record something. Topics are my usual: Reformed theology, Reformational philosophy, and Reformed/neocalvinist libertarian-anarchist politics (and economics).


Podomatic (native host) / RSS feed

Youtube 

Soundcloud

Google

Spotify

Amazon Music / Audible

American Podcasts

Audacy

Castbox 

CurioCaster

Deezer 

Learn Out Loud

Listen Notes

Playapod

PlayerFM 

Pocket Casts

Podcast Addict

Podcast Index

Podchaser 

PodFriend

Podtail

Podverse

Radio Public

Stitcher

Tune In

Anghami (Middle Eastern)

Fyyd (German)

JioSaavn (Indian)


If you see it elsewhere, or use an application not listed here, let me know!  Pandora and iheart, possibly forthcoming.


3.18.2022

more on Reformed Anarchism

Kerry Baldwin, of Dare To Think / Mere Liberty podcast, and I begin to discuss the statement on Reformed Anarchism. The first section deals with What Is Culture?, and we chat about the first subsection in two episodes.

Part 1 : Rethinking Culture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byB-A5sGJ1E

Part 2 : Mistaken Views

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEBHz8i4XKQ

 

Also see a series of 18 videos in which Pastor Nate Xanders and I give an introductory overview of some issues involved in understanding some basic points of Reformed anarchism.



1.27.2022

Reformed Biblical-theological foundations for Christian cultural activity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAnsoqLbrng

Preface: To give credit where it’s due, as I recall, the criticism that Irons raises was similarly raised to me by Dr. William D. Dennison (Pastor of Emmanuel OPC in Kent, WA; Professor Emeritus of Interdisciplinary Studies at Covenant College) sometime around 1994-1996 during one of his private Geerhardus Vos seminars (from which I benefited immensely, personally and academically). Although not very articulately, I attempted to raise the issue with Dr. Albert M. Wolters around 2002. I hope the main point of criticism is clearer in this article.

By Reformed “Biblical theology” is meant not only Reformed theology that is according to the teaching of the Bible, but particularly a sub-discipline of exegetical theology that studies Scripture in terms of the historical, ‘organic’ progress of God’s special revelation. The understanding of the teaching of Scripture that results from such study has foundational significance for Christian cultural activity, that is, for the question of how Christians can do cultural activity in a distinctly Christian way.

One of the foundational teachings highlighted by a Reformed Biblical theology is what may be called pre-redemptive (or creational) eschatology. This has significance for Christian cultural activity because the cultural mandate was initially given by God before the fall in the context of this eschatology. After the fall, when redemption is established and eschatology is set in that redemptive context, the cultural task is also set within that new context. Our understanding of cultural activity must take proper account of the important changes God introduced in the context of the fall and redemption.

Dr. Charles Lee Irons offers superb introductory material on various topics related to Reformed Biblical theology in his The Upper Register videos/podcast. Before presenting a few notes of clarification on his piece about ethics and a view of cultural activity, I summarize what he explained about Reformed Biblical-theological teaching on Adam’s Probation and the Priority of Eschatology. I recommend listening to his full piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_NJwB_f1P4 .

In summary, our “first parents” were created in God’s image with a prospect of advancement to a consummated, glorified existence. This may be seen by the two special trees in Eden (Gen 2:9): the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, symbolizing Adam’s probationary testing in the Covenant of Works (Gen 2:15-17), and the Tree of [Eternal] Life, symbolizing confirmation of successfully passing the test, and the reward of advancement (Gen 3:22-24).

In Eden, God gave humanity a mandate to be fruitful, to multiply, fill, and subdue the earth, to have dominion over it, to work and guard it (Gen 1:26-28; 2:15). This involved both kingly and priestly elements together. In a unique theocratic arrangement, humans were to protect, extend, and populate the holy sanctuary throughout the world, and so obtain the eschatological fulfillment of God's kingdom. This work was to occur in a condition of confirmed righteousness, having successfully passed the probation. And as a sign of the prospective completion of their labor, God established the Sabbath, symbolizing the consummate and glorified eternal rest (Gen 2:1-3; Heb 4:1-10).

In Adam’s having failed the test and breaking the Covenant of Works, our first parents and their natural posterity became liable to eternal death/damnation. However, God had mercy and in Gen 3:15 made the first promise of the gospel, establishing the Covenant of Grace. Christ would defeat Satan as Adam failed to do. The eschatological judgement would be postponed, and there would be a temporal common curse, frustrating cultural labors in pain and temporal death.

Now, Christ successfully passed the test for His people, took their eschatological curse, obtained the eschatological advancement, fulfills the cultural mandate (fruitfully, bringing many sons to glory, Heb 2; 1Cor 15:20-28), and will bring the consummate kingdom of God. After Gen 3:15, everything in Scripture unfolds that first gospel promise, and this gospel must be understood in terms of Christ fulfilling what Adam did not, and achieving that advancement to consummate glory for those redeemed in Him.


With that in view, the following is a summary of what Irons explained about Reformed Biblical-theological teaching on Ethics (and Christian cultural activity). I recommend listening to his full piece here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVkJMD3U7vQ

In summary, the misuse of Scripture in ethics can be either libertine, permitting immorality (such as theologically liberal attempts to erroneously define sexual immorality as non-sinful), or legalistic, imposing extra-Scriptural duties (such as unorthodox ‘neocalvinist’ attempts to erroneously define the cultural mandate as imperative in the same way it was pre-fall). Irons does not criticize neocalvinism as developed by Kuyper and Dooyeweerd, but rather he addresses a specific, partial distortion of neocalvinism, for example as articulated by Dr. Albert M. Wolters in certain statements from his book Creation Regained (CR).

While even a distorted neocalvinism recognizes the historical development of Scripture in terms of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation, it nevertheless does not treat the cultural mandate properly in that context. A proper Reformed Biblical-theological view can help correct the distortions. The key issue is this: after the fall into sin, are believers now able in Christ to eschatologically fulfill the cultural mandate as it was given before the fall in order to bring the consummation of God’s kingdom? Wolters says we are (eg, “the kingdom of God will not come in its fullness without the ‘redemption’ [by Christians’ activity] of this area of human [life]” [CR, p.95, 2nd ed. p.114]), but such a claim is a Biblical-theological error.

The distorted view incorrectly argues that Christians may re-direct their cultural activity to its original pre-fall purpose since the fall did not affect the ‘Structure’ (law order) given in creation, but only negatively affected the ‘Direction’ of (viz, mis-directed) our use of creation, for example in cultural activity, and that therefore Christians have a duty to redeem every area of life, thereby contributing to the consummation.

It is, however, a Biblical-theological error to suppose that the fall has not altered the meaning of the cultural mandate in relation to the consummation, and to suppose that Christians have a duty to fulfill the cultural mandate in order to bring-in the consummate kingdom of God, eschatologically.

Rather, a proper Reformed Biblical-theological view recognizes that in response to the fall and in establishing redemption, God separated the objectively holy and priestly ‘cult’ tasks and the (possibly subjectively holy) common and kingly ‘cultural’ tasks. Prior to the fall, these tasks were entirely integrated as one. In the Edenic theocracy, kingly tasks of cultural dominion would extend the objectively holy realm throughout the earth and had a priestly-cultic goal of resulting in the consummate cosmic temple.

However, after the fall, God introduces a particular differentiation into human societal life. God establishes a structural dualism or separation between a.) the objectively holy kingdom of God in a special/redemptive grace covenant community of the institutional church, and b.) the common grace order, in which reality, though under a temporal common curse, is preserved, and the eschatological judgement is postponed, as a context for the objectively holy kingdom to operate alongside those outside the institutional church, and as a context in which both believers and unbelievers participate in cultural activity.

In the non-theocratic context, after the fall, the cultural mandate properly has only this refracted or differentiated form, such that cultural activity is no longer a means of bringing-in the consummate kingdom of God. The fact of the temporal curse in the pains of birth and ground -labors and the ultimate frustration of human temporal death testifies to this significant change. The redemptive kingdom of God is accomplished and obtained by Christ’s work as the second/last Adam, in His calling the elect, and it is finally consummated by Him, not through believers’ cultural activities.

Christians have a duty to subjectively sanctify their cultural activity in their doing it to the glory of God, witnessing to their heavenly hope obtained by Christ. But this does not objectively transform common cultural activity into the holy kingdom, nor contribute to the eschatological consummation of that objectively holy kingdom.

 

With the foregoing in mind, what follows are four points of clarification about how this foundational Reformed Biblical-theological understanding of the priority of eschatology and the changes concerning cultural activity after the fall relate to a proper view of how Christians can do cultural activity in a distinctly Christian way.

First, while after the fall God separated 'cult' and 'culture’, establishing the Covenant of Grace and the institutional church, as well as a common grace order, this did not involve creating any kind of "religious neutrality" in life or in any area of life. Reformed Biblical-theologian Meredith G. Kline affirms with orthodox neocalvinism that after the fall, every person and everyone's life in every area, including one's cultural life, whether believer or unbeliever, remains religious. After the fall, believers should recognize that all their cultural activities "are to be carried out under God’s mandate as service to Him for His glory and thus are thoroughly religious" (Kline, Kingdom Prologue [KP], p.67).

As there has been a distortion of neocalvinism, there has also been a distortion of Kline's views in a sort of scholasticism. This distortion falsely interprets God's post-fall separation of 'cult' and 'culture' in terms of a supposed religious realm of grace and a supposed non-religious realm of nature, which then has consequences for how, for example, the relationship between faith and reason is (erroneously) conceived and a Christian’s cultural activity is (erroneously) understood.

Some who have such a distorted view deny that cultural activity can be done in a Christian way. I begin to address that here: https://honest2blog.blogspot.com/2012/04/sanctifying-common-2.html

In chapter 5 of Roy Clouser’s The Myth of Religious Neutrality, he summarizes the scholastic view.

Clouser speaks of scholasticism as a view holding that "the proper understanding of [most of] culture does not differ depending on what one’s religion is." It [scholasticism] is "the general relation of divinity [religious] beliefs to theories as corresponding to two very different kinds of information: beliefs which are the deliverances of reason, and beliefs which are the deliverances of [special] revelation accepted by faith, where faith is understood to be a distinct mental faculty from reason.

Scholasticism "emphasizes the need to harmonize [the authoritative] deliverances [of faith and reason] so as to avoid contradiction between them." It appeals "to the biblical teaching that there are two dimensions of creation, which the Bible calls 'heaven' and 'earth'. The proposal [is] that each of these dimensions be taken as known in a different way, one by reason and the other by faith. The dimension of earth [nature] ...was held to be the dimension of reality known by perception and reason. Such knowledge was held to be the same for all people. Concerning nature, reason ...is [religiously] neutral, and the final authority for all ['natural'] truth.

"The heavenly dimension of reality [supernature] ...was [mostly] taken to be known only by [special] revelation from God which must be accepted on faith. These revealed truths conveyed knowledge not provable by reason, such as information about God, the nature of the human soul, angels, and life after death. These truths are therefore not available to all people but only those to whom God’s grace has given the gift of faith. For without faith to accept revelation, reason is relatively helpless to discover truth about the supernatural realm [other than the fact of the existence of God and of human souls]. In this way, each [reason and faith, respectively] is the supreme authority in its own realm.

Nevertheless, the scholastic view is that ..."there is a two-way interaction between faith and reason. [They] each have duties toward one another; each has its own proper domain, but each also affects the other. For example, reason not only discovers truth about nature and proves the existence of a supernatural realm, but also systematizes revealed doctrines and checks all rational theories for their compatibility with those doctrines. This is the task of theology. In case a theory of philosophy or science is found to be irreconcilably in contradiction with revealed truth, that theory is then to be discarded as false [but can sometimes be adequately modified, in this view, by adding God to it].

The duty of faith toward reason is thus to supply an external check on whether reason has fallen into error, and it is seen as an advantage for reason to have such infallible truths by which to test its hypotheses. In the final analysis, therefore, the authority of revelation taken on faith is superior to that of reason alone. ...The guidance that faith offers to reason is a largely negative and external check on what reason may accept. It is not seen as an internally regulating influence."

So, if one held to this scholastic view of the relation of faith and reason, and one associated culture and common grace with the "realm of nature" understood primarily by reason, then it could be supposed that the only significant Christian distinction in cultural activity might be the (partial) contribution of Christian morals/morality. It could be supposed that while it would be advantageous to have special revelation, such an addition wouldn't involve anything distinctively Christian (or otherwise necessarily religious) about cultural activity per se.

Furthermore, if one held to this scholastic view of the relation of faith and reason, and restricted the kingdom of God exclusively to the "supernatural" and its institutional expression in the institutional church, then it could be supposed that expressions of the subjective recognition of the reign of God in a believer's cultural activity were not expressions of the kingdom of God (or, as above, simply not a matter of cultural activity per se).

This response from Clouser to a Thomist's views might shed further light. In any case, Kline’s views are distorted if interpreted through such scholastic assumptions.

Second, we should understand, as Kline says: “The Scriptures compel us to distinguish between the kingdom of God as realm and reign and to recognize that though everything is embraced under the reign of God, not everything can be identified as part of the kingdom of God viewed as a holy realm” (KP, p.170). ...“The cultural activity of God’s people is common grace activity ...[yet] it is an expression of the reign of God in their lives, [although] it is not a building of the kingdom of God as institution or realm” (KP, p.201). ...“The kingdom was already present in the reign of God through his re-creating Spirit within [the regenerate]” (KP, p.382).

This is in agreement with Reformed Biblical-theologian Geerhardus Vos, who in his book The Teaching of Jesus Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church [TKGC], says: "To [Jesus] the kingdom exists there, where not merely God is supreme, for that is true at all times and under all circumstances, but where God supernaturally carries through his supremacy against all opposing powers and brings man to the willing recognition of the same [through regeneration] (TKGC, p.85-86). ...Undoubtedly the kingship [reign] of God, as his recognized and applied supremacy, is intended to pervade and control the whole of human life in all its forms of existence. ...Whenever one of these spheres [of activity] comes under the controlling influence of the principle of the divine supremacy and glory, and this outwardly reveals itself, there we can truly say that the kingdom of God has become manifest" (TKGC, p.162-163).
[free online version here.

So while a Christian's cultural activity is not, and does not become, the objective holy realm of God's kingdom, it can be, nevertheless, a true manifestation of God's kingdom as believers’ subjective recognition of God's reign in their cultural activities, wrought in them by Christ's redemption applied in their regeneration.

Third, we should be clear about the "structure" to which Kline’s term "structural dualism" refers. We must distinguish "Structure" in the sense of "Structure for", that is, the laws and norms God has established for reality and human life in creation (and preserved in God's providence and common grace), from "structure" in the sense of "structures of" human society, such as the objectively holy institutional church, and the various common kinds of societal communities (or spheres of cultural activity).

That is, when someone refers to an "institution" such as the institutional church, or another distinct kind of societal community (such as the family, or civil governance), as "structures", this doesn't refer to Structure (namely, God's abiding laws and norms) in the Structure and Direction distinction.  Rather, to call a societal community, such as the institutional church a "structure" is to say an institution OF society, that is, a societal institution/community; a "structure" OF society, not a law or a norm, but something that is subject to God-given laws and norms.

It is true that "the fall does not affect the 'Structure' given in creation." After the fall, physical laws, such gravity, are not changed; nor does God change His moral law or other norms. However, God did change the forms that human societal life would take in the fallen world. Apart from a typologically theocratic, old (Mosaic) covenant Israel, the objectively holy special grace community of the institutional church would be distinct from common cultural activity; even while a believer's redemption would entail their subjective sanctification of such cultural activity.

Fourth, in addition to conforming to the standards of Christian morality in our cultural activities, so that we follow God's moral commands from a regenerate heart of faith, in the ways He requires in His Word (eg, in loving service and witness to our neighbor), and doing all things to the ultimate purpose of God’s glory, how else might Christians subjectively sanctify their cultural activities? How else in their cultural activities and each area of life might believers consciously recognize God's reign? One way, is to grow in our understanding of the various areas of life as thoroughly religious and in relation to the preeminence of Christ. For more on that see here: https://sites.google.com/site/christianviewofeverything/

Again, the issue is: after the fall, are believers now able in Christ to eschatologically fulfill the cultural mandate as it was given before the fall in order to bring the consummation of God's kingdom?

The answer to that question from an orthodox, proper neocalvinist perspective is: absolutely NOT. The further question is then: after the fall, what does the subjective sanctification of a believer's cultural activity actually mean?

An orthodox neocalvinist answer to that further question elaborates Kline's stated view.

     i. Kline's view is that, by the application of Christ's accomplishment of redemption in regeneration, Christians are able to (subjectively) rightly recognize the reign of God in all areas of life, and in all those areas perform those activities to the ultimate end of God's glory.

     ii. The orthodox neocalvinist view elaborates on what that involves more particularly, saying that such subjective recognition and ultimate end in a believer's cultural activity (which constitutes subjective sanctification) includes (however imperfect in this life) Christian good works (increasingly according to the moral normativity of God's abiding moral will), and increasing conformity to whatever other abiding norms God has established for human action generally, and for cultural activity.

 

 

11.24.2021

Dooyeweerd Against Vax Mandates

Originally published at The Laymen's Lounge.
German translation: https://www.libertaerechristen.de/?p=1840

Herman Dooyeweerd (1894-1977) was a Reformed Christian philosopher and legal scholar from the Netherlands. For more about his life and work, see this article.

Before the bulk of his career as professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam from 1926-1965, Dooyeweerd spent about 5 years as director of the Kuyper Foundation, the policy institute of the Anti-Revolutionary Party. From 1922-1926 he produced several reports, including one in 1923 concerning compulsory or mandated vaccination by the civil government.

The report begins by saying that while some members of the political party are opposed to taking vaccinations, and others are themselves in favor of it, as a party they strongly oppose all civil government coercion of vaccination. Particularly, the party consistently opposes all mandates of vaccination for government school attendance when the civil government requires schooling.

Dooyeweerd then lays out 5 main reasons all civil government coercion of vaccinations must be resisted and opposed.

  1. Compulsory vaccination violates God-given liberty of conscience.
  2. Only each person, and not civil government, has a God-given right as steward over one’s own body.
  3. Civil government has no God-given competence or jurisdiction to rule on medical/health issues.
  4. Native or endemic illnesses are never rightly treated by means of any coercion.
  5. Medical science can be flawed, and vaccinations can be more harmful than the illnesses they are intended to prevent.

The bulk of the report deals with the second main reason that coercive vaccination must be resisted and opposed. Dooyeweerd puts it this way: Civil “government does not have free disposition of the human body, even if it is convinced that such disposition is only for the benefit of that body.

The term ‘disposition’ here refers to legitimate power or determination over something according to one’s own decision. In Matthew 20:15 where Jesus gives the parable about a generous employer, He illustrates “free disposition” asking rhetorically “Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?”

Dooyeweerd explains that responsive coercion is legitimate, of course, against anyone who is conclusively proved to be initiating coercion upon others. But simply being unvaccinated is not coercive in any way. Moreover, even if civil government officers were angelic geniuses who had infallible knowledge of what is best for you, and were entirely motivated by your best interest, even then they could never have the right to initiate coercion against you, because you don’t belong to them.

The issue here is not a matter of whether just laws should be enforced, but of what kind of legislation is actually just. And whether something is actually just or unjust is not ordained by civil government, but by God. Of course, the God-ordained principles of civil justice don’t enact legislation by themselves, but rather show the proper boundaries and provide guidance for legislation.

The main principle to which Dooyeweerd points is the Christian understanding of human beings as created by God as persons. (What he refers to as “ethical” personhood, he would soon, in the development of his philosophy, come to call the full “religious” personhood of every human). The first thing Dooyeweerd emphasizes is that this principle is in diametric opposition to slavery. Even though it might seem like an extreme comparison, vaccine compulsion is an expression of the same root as the evil of slavery (namely, the claim of owning, and/or having a right to control other people).

Most commonly, in the 'classical liberal' or libertarian European political tradition that appreciates the inseparable connection between liberty and justice (the tradition of which the American founders, as well as Kuyper and Groen, were a part), this principle has come to be known as 'self-ownership'.

But Dooyeweerd is concerned to describe it in terms of its fundamental, true religious grounding. While with respect to other people, it may be said you are indeed the proper 'owner' of yourself (the alternative being slavery), in relation to our Creator to Whom we are ultimately accountable, we are only the respective stewards, the keepers and caretakers, each of our own lives. This is doubly so for those redeemed by Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The political bottom line of this, Dooyeweerd insists, is the fact that civil “government may not, according to God’s ordinances, force the ethically free man to accept physical treatment in any form.”

We must entirely resist all such government injustice from the start, without hesitation or compromise, or else it will inevitably grow like a cancer. This is the principle of obsta principiis. You must have a zero-tolerance policy towards tyranny. “Whoever accepts compulsory vaccination in principle,” Dooyeweerd warns, “has deprived himself of the moral ground for opposing [any] such usurpation by government of individual liberty.”

For a statement of principles influenced by Dooyeweerd’s philosophy that seeks to develop opposition to tyranny more fully, see here.

 

10.10.2021

more on Romans 13

 and political resistance

Here I am discussing with PresbyCast the historical Reformed view that we are not obligated to "submit to civil rulers unless they require sin."  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hC95p88UzKg


     0:14 music intro
     1:30 Wresby's intro
     2:28 Chortles intros guest
     8:17 topic intro
   10:30 recent events
   12:40 clip from NY governor statement
   17:30 Rom13 often misunderstood
   25:28 why Reformed view not taught
   28:19 lesser magistrates
   30:28 Paul's example
   37:57 wrong view deeply ingrained
   39:30 helpful bibliography
   43:35 defining 'tyranny'
   55:14 affirmed in Reformed Confessions
1:02:29 Scotland's tyranny
1:11:55 confessional summary
1:15:06 what to do
1:22:52 the Boetie strategy
1:27:01 final remarks
1:35:38 Wresby's outro


0:14 music intro

1:30 Wresby's intro

2:28 Chortles intros guest
+ about Gregory: https://sites.google.com/site/ideolog/

+ Reformed 'mongrel': 1 Cor 3:21-23 "whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas... all are yours"

8:17 topic intro
+ any ostensibly confessional Reformed church that teaches "people are obligated to obey the (providential) de facto powers that claim civil authority, unless they require sin" are contradicting the historical Reformed teaching promulgated in the Reformed doctrinal standards (on the teaching of Scripture)

+central point is not political theory, but exegesis and the teaching of Scripture

10:30 recent events
+ regrettably, some Reformed churches have enacted policies with the rationale that in these things they must "obey govt requirements"

12:40 clip from NY governor statement
+ "I need you to be my apostles [to promote the vax]"
https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/tag/Kathy+Hochul

17:30 Why shouldn't NAPARC (or other orthodox Reformed) congregations do whatever a civil governor says? How has Rom 13 been misunderstood?
+ some indulge in false piety

+ important difference between policy based on church-determined prudential considerations vs. supposed obligation to civil edicts (even if 'constitutional')

+ historical Reformed teaching is that Scripture, in such passages as Rom 13, does not require anyone to acknowledge de facto (providential) powers/persons that claim civil authority as actually ordained by God

+ rather, we should know that what God actually ordains (prescriptively, not providentially) specified in verses 3-4 is the legitimate (office) use of responsive coercion (the sword) to punish wrongdoers (those who commit civil injustice)

+ any de facto power that oversteps this limited God-ordained jurisdiction is unlawful or exercising unlawful power (so, themselves wrongdoers), and no one's conscience should be bound to obey in such matters

25:28 Why hasn't this been taught in churches and seminaries in America?
+ influence of theological liberalism

+ particular influence of govt propaganda in recruiting churches to promote (unlawful) war efforts (at least since WWI)

+ heretical groups were more faithful in opposing unjust wars than otherwise true churches; this is a shame

28:19 What about doctrine of 'lesser magistrates' (eg, Magdeburg Confession)?
+ certainly, while all magistrates have obligation to oppose tyranny, in this case Reformers were addressing a particular civil constitutional arrangement, and resisting tyrants is not only for lesser magistrates

30:28 Scriptural example of disobeying civil rulers when not an issue of sin
+ 2 Cor 11:32-33; Acts 9:25

+ submitting to arrest is not a sin, but Paul evades arrest, and so he resists rulers when they weren't requiring him to sin, and Paul's actions are not condemned

+ this confirms that Paul isn't teaching in Rom 13 that we are obligated to submit to rulers only unless they require sin

37:57 this is important because the erroneous [edit] "providential" view is so ingrained in our minds and in the popular consciousness

39:30 Reformed Political Resistance Theology Annotated Bibliography
https://tinyurl.com/RefoPoliResistBib

+ a Scriptural teaching also found in Patristic era

+ explained in Francis Schaeffer's 1981 book A Christian Manifesto
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1581346921

43:35 How do we define 'tyranny'?
+ Reformed anarchism on this point: https://tinyurl.com/refoanarchism
(monopolization of civil governance functions, ie the 'state', is inherently, systemically unjust/tyrannical)

+ basic principle: what God prescriptively ordains as civil govt is limited to punishment of wrongdoers

+ Scripture teaches no political theory as such, and particulars of what is involved (and what is outside the God-ordained limit) must be discerned (from creation or general revelation) by believers

+ C.Hodge (1835) says "the right of deciding on all these points, and determining where the obligation to obedience ceases, and the duty of resistance begins, must, from the nature of the case, rest with the subject, and not with the ruler"

+ if taxes are properly due for limited function, it follows that taxes for other things are not due. Also, no Scripture teaches we owe taxes, but only that if we owe, we should pay what we owe

+ Reformers advised we should understand 'tyranny' generally as not simply a single act of civil injustice by a would-be ruler (tho that is tyrannous, may be resisted, and should be punished), but habitual or systemic civil injustice (including among other things, failure to punish wrongdoers and violations of the God-ordained limited 'jurisdiction')

55:14 A view taught by the Reformed Confessions
+ not invented by Rutherford

+ separable from 'establishmentarianism'
(credit due to Savoy congregationalists and London baptists for getting this correct before most Presbies)

+ WCF 20.4 "lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it"

1:02:29 clip from London Calling podcast. Why is Scotland presently so authoritarian/tyrannical?
+ while there are other sources of authoritarianism and its stockholm-ish internalization, certainly secularized "puritanism"/pietism and millennialism/millenarianism immanentizes zeal for God and the consummation into statist idolatry.
See "the secularization of postmillennialism": https://www.jstor.org/stable/2711630

+ one distortion of a "two kingdoms" view also erroneously tends to give civil government carte blanche

1:11:55 summary of Reformed Confessional statements
https://tinyurl.com/refoanarchism
(See 3.g.)

1:15:06 What can Reformed church officers and other members do?
+ many Reformed pastors and elders may have never learned or even heard about the historical "prescriptive" (non-providential) view

+ if you cannot bear the policies in your congregation, leave peaceably and find a congregation with better policies if possible

+ you can also have a peaceable and pragmatic discussion about policies without raising the exegetical issues

+ however, if you want to discuss with church officers about their view of whether they think Scripture obligates us "to submit to those who claim civil authority unless they require sin", then the bibliography is a great place to start

1:22:52 So then what, violent revolt?
+ 1553 work Discourse on Voluntary Servitude by Etienne de la Boetie (friend of Montaigne) presents our strategy, namely, ignore the tyrants.
a. https://mises.org/library/political-thought-etienne-de-la-boetie
b. https://mises.org/library/politics-obedience-discourse-voluntary-servitude

+ Ignoring them (also practiced in "nullification" and "secession") is our first line of defense, and it is in keeping with the Bible's exhortation to "live peaceably with all, so far as it depends on you"

1:27:01 final remarks
+ will address other objections in future blog post: https://honest2blog.blogspot.com/

+ key links
a. Reformed political resistance theology bibliography: https://tinyurl.com/RefoPoliResistBib
b. Baus article on Romans 13: https://tinyurl.com/r13civgov
c. audio (on which the article is based): https://tinyurl.com/r13anarchism
d. What is Reformed anarchism? : https://tinyurl.com/refoanarchism
e. further resources: https://mereliberty.com/romans13

+ no one minds extra hand sanitizer

+ 'zero C19' will never be

+ build back better theology (with the historical Reformed view of Rom 13)

1:35:38 Wresby's outro
+ don't be an Erdman

 

10.05.2021

more on sphere sovereignty

Here I am discussing societal sphere sovereignty with Jacob Winograd of the Daniel 3: Biblical Anarchy podcast.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCDyfRIH-_c


     1:05 beginning
     3:10 about Gregory
     6:40 becoming anarchist
   13:36 helpful arguments
   17:03 sphere sovereignty intro
   18:44 historical background
   30:45 sphere sovereignty explained
   55:31 Summary
1:03:44 What is civil governance?
1:32:12 sphere sovereignty related to 'spontaneous order'
1:44:03 Can we know God is real?

1:05 beginning
https://daniel318.com/

3:10 about Gregory
        profile: https://sites.google.com/site/ideolog/
        previous appearance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm_wh1ndsxw

6:40 becoming anarchist
        Foundations of Libertarian Ethics: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZo7TOFxgEMP4iRDHidY_PR7AKwwfQO4g
        and https://mises.org/library/foundations-libertarian-ethics

13:36 helpful arguments
https://mereliberty.com/romans13
https://libertarianchristians.com/2018/02/21/anarchism-minarchism-legitimacy-civil-governance/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemo_iudex_in_causa_sua

17:03 sphere sovereignty intro
        + Christian theory, not exegesis

18:44 historical background
        + basic definition: a view of the normative arrangement among and relations between different kinds of societal communities

        + Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer (1801 - 1876) introduced the phrase 'sovereignty within one's own sphere/circle'
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillaume_Groen_van_Prinsterer
        part of the European Calvinist revival (Réveil) of 1820s

        + Abraham Kuyper (1837 - 1920) developed the idea further
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Kuyper
        1880 lecture on Sphere Sovereignty: https://sources.neocalvinism.org/kuyper/?ka_num=1993.02

        + Herman Dooyeweerd (1894 - 1977) refined it philosophically
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herman_Dooyeweerd
        More on Dooyeweerd and his philosophy: https://thelaymenslounge.com/you-should-know-dooyeweerd/

        other predecessors
        + Althusius (1557 - 1638)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Althusius
        + Alsted (1588 - 1638)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Heinrich_Alsted

        + arose in terms of the questions of the relation between church and state (and properly defining and limiting their respective powers) after the medieval period

        + Reformed political resistance theology
https://tinyurl.com/RefoPoliResistBib

        + like a kind of 'division of labor' among communities

30:45 sphere sovereignty explained
        + What Is Reformed Anarchism statement: https://tinyurl.com/refoanarchism
        See especially part 2 on What is society?

        + Scriptural teaching about basic diversity of created reality ('each according to its own kind')

        + Kuyper's 1869 article "Uniformity: the curse of modern life"; about the dreary artificial sameness imposed on things in the statist/collectivistic mindset: https://sources.neocalvinism.org/kuyper/?ka_num=1869.14

        + Scriptural 'organic' metaphor about differentiated functions coordinated variously

        + society is not a single whole, rather it is several different kinds of relations involving both individuals and groups; neither is more basic or has their origin in the other

        + community is not just individuals (or inter-individual relation), rather it is relatively more enduring and involves authority arrangements

        + individuals are not mere parts of communities, but wholes in themselves

        + each kind of community is distinguished from other kinds by its own intrinsic nature, differently characterized in its organization and purpose, governed by its own God-given norms

        + no single kind of community properly encompasses or regulates all the others. Nor does any particular community of a given kind properly encompass or regulate all the others of that same kind

        + not a collectivistic view of so-called ‘subsidiarity,’ which, while seeking to be bottom-up, affirming that the lowest level of organization has original jurisdiction, nevertheless subsumes all societal communities (as so-called ‘mediating institutions’) under an all-encompassing state

55:31 Summary:
        1. real communities; distinct kinds
        2. each kind of community (sphere) has its own directly God-normed intrinsic nature, scope of activity, competence, and limited authority
        3. society not a single whole merely decentralized or bottom-up (not hierarchically arranged 'subsidiarity')
        4. within a given sphere, no particular community encompasses or regulates others of the same kind

        + a state’s monopoly is in principle totalitarian, and always increasingly tends toward totalitarianism in practice

1:03:44 What is civil governance?
        
(see part 3 of What is Reformed Anarchism statement)

        + Only God in Christ is absolutely sovereign; this biblical teaching entails that no mere human authority is properly total (and so the monopoly state is inherently antinormative)

        + Gregory's paper on sphere sovereignty: https://www.academia.edu/32356017
        2008 conference presentation: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL083BD24DE7A4559E

        + even Christians are sinners who might sinfully seek to justify abuse by appeal to authority; total depravity is REAL
https://libertarianchristians.com/2018/03/28/sinful-nature-question-states-necessity/
        Sproul on 'total depravity':
        a. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvUpyxnqAow
        b. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPVkhssUv5I

        + response to theonomy
        Kline's article on theocracy: https://meredithkline.com/klines-works/articles-and-essays/the-relevance-of-the-theocracy/
        Lee Irons' article: https://www.the-highway.com/theonomy-hermeneutic_Irons.html
        Lane Tipton's article: https://www.kerux.com/doc/1501A1.asp
        T. David Gordon's article: https://web.archive.org/web/20200718055717/http://tdgordon.net/theology/theonomy.pdf

        + Upper Register podcast
https://www.youtube.com/user/IronsLee
https://upperregister.podbean.com/
        Lee Irons' website: https://upper-register.com
        series on covenantal history: https://upper-register.com/mp3s.html#unfolding

        + seeking to coercively enforce moral law (beyond proper civil-justicial rights) outside the old covenant is a usurping of God's sole prerogative, and amounts to statist pagan idolatry

1:32:12 sphere sovereignty related to 'spontaneous order'
        See Reformed Anarchism statement, especially 2.c (and following) on Polycentric and Emergent Order
https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/liggio-literature-of-liberty-summer-1982-vol-5-no-2/

        + the broader 'polycentric societal complex' is coordinated emergently, through the self-governance of each instance of the varieties of relations and each particular community of the several distinct kinds

        +by God’s creational design, a dynamic societal harmonization comes about cumulatively through the varieties of normative human action, but apart from any human individual’s or community’s specific intention or attempt at comprehensive coercive regulation

        + Also see a summary of spontaneous order in this 9th vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQhkrYqA7S4&list=PLwrDNUO5MDu95jfsFdfN2oe8vXQ6Cma-h&index=9

        + particular endeavors require planning, but society overall, and any sphere, is far too complex to be planned or coercively regulated; any attempt at such coercive regulation is inherently antinormative resulting in severe distortion

1:44:03 Can we know God is real?
https://www.allofliferedeemed.co.uk/Clouser/CanWeKnow.pdf
        See also "Knowing With The Heart": https://www.amazon.com/dp/1556354320
        and "The Myth Of Religious Neutrality" (which also deals with sphere sovereignty): https://www.amazon.com/dp/0268023662

        + teaser: "proof" (inference) is not the only means of rationally justifying a belief