The Reformed Libertarians Podcast

Kerry Baldwin of Mere Liberty and I are now hosts of a podcast produced by the Libertarian Christian Institute (along with several other podcasts) in the Christians for Liberty Network.

 Go to https://reformedlibertarians.com to find out more. 

We aim to educate and inspire listeners to intelligently embrace and passionately promote libertarianism as grounded in the Reformed Faith, and informed by a Reformed worldview.

In brief, the politics are what neocalvinist politics are meant to be (viz, thoroughly libertarian and grounded in the orthodox and confessional Reformed Faith).

For now, Lord willing, new episodes will be released every other Thursday.  Episodes that include interviewed guests might be a bit longer, but usually episodes will be between 20-40 minutes (I think). I'd love your feedback (even if unfavorable). If you don't find it on your preferred podcatcher, let me know. We intend to add alternative social media availability too. 

You might find this a helpful intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrT9GcCCRbA



More on Disestablishment (with Hodge)

An addendum (to previous post): concerning establishment of 'religion'

In whatever way the English Dissenters/Nonconformists in the 1600s, the American Presbyterians in the 1700s, and Neocalvinists in the 1800s might have presented a Scriptural case against civil establishment of the church, I think Charles Hodge's argument is a sound one.

Some Reformed establishmentarians, however, try to argue for --not the civil establishment of a single church institution/denomination, but rather-- the civil establishment of 'religion,' whether that is conceived in broader Nicean orthodox Christian terms, or in relatively more narrow Protestant, or specific Reformed terms.

While I have highlighted the implied concern of Hodge's argument regarding faith and worship, I take one of the main concerns of establishment of 'religion' to be ethics.

If we characterize part of Hodge's argument as a sort of "exclusion" or "regulative principle" argument (viz, discipline in faith and worship are assigned the church, not to civil government, and therefore forbidden to civil government), and this is accepted arguendo, this nevertheless seems to leave open the question regarding ethics. The issue might be put this way: isn't discipline regarding ethics assigned to both church and civil government, although the means of discipline differ?

For example, theft is a matter of ethics, the discipline of which is assigned to the church, and yet discipline regarding theft is also assigned to civil government. So, why does this not extend to some, if not all, other ethical matters, even including those that overlap with matters of faith/heresy and worship/idolatry, such as blasphemy? In light of this, we can raise this fundamental question:
Is there any Scriptural criterion by which we can discern which ethical matters are assigned to civil government for discipline (if the set of ethical matters is not simply identical to those assigned to the church)?

As I understand it, many advocates of civil establishment of 'religion' employ a criterion of "public-ness". So, for example, one may hold private blasphemous opinions and even privately worship in a blasphemous manner, but one should be civilly prohibited from "publicly" blaspheming, say, by publishing a book that says belief in God is stupid, dangerous, and evil.

The following is how Hodge's Scriptural argument addresses this issue.

First, as an aside, notice that Hodge includes an initial 4th point (which may be said to concern sphere sovereignty) that I do not include in my quotation because it seems to me its character as a Scriptural point is not made explicit by Hodge. It focuses on the point of different particular ends ordained by God for these distinct institutions, so that the fact of their having the same general end does not permit the inference that they are assigned to identical matters.

I think that point can be argued in an explicitly Scriptural way. Although, I don't suppose 'religion' establishmentarians necessarily disagree with that point. What I think there is disagreement about is the criterion by which we should discern the respective assignments (to church and to civil government, concerning ethics), and what those assignments are.

Second, I think Hodge's last point about the coercive means instituted for civil government is the key to recognizing the criterion by which we can discern which ethical matters are assigned to civil government. (This is so, even if Hodge does not himself draw this out explicitly, but restricts himself to how we discern what is not assigned to civil government.)

Briefly stated, we may reason from Scripture on the issue like this: given the explicit institution of civil government in Genesis 9 by way of affirming the principle of proportionality in retributive justice, we must infer that the authorization of responsive coercion repeated in Romans 13 is restricted to the wrongdoing of prior initiation of coercion (aggressions) against persons and property. In other words, proportionality entails not only to what degree/extent coercion is used, but whether it is used at all. And to use coercion against non-aggressive immorality is disproportionate and violates the sword power authorized by God for civil government.

That, then, is the Scriptural criterion by which we can discern which ethical matters are assigned to civil government, and it's the way Hodge's argument, although requiring that elaboration, applies to not only establishment of a single church institution, but also to establishment of 'religion' concerning civil enforcement of ethics, or a public morality.

Also posted here: https://gregorybaus.substack.com/p/more-on-disestablishment-with-hodge


Hodge on Disestablishment

In 1863 Charles Hodge summarized how we Scripturally argue against civil "establishment" of the church in 3 points.

First, he says the proper task or duties of the church and civil governance “must be determined from the Word of God. And when reasoning from the Word of God [on these points], we are not authorized to argue from the Old Testament [old Mosaic covenant] economy [or administration] because that was avowedly temporary and has been abolished, [instead, we] must derive our conclusions from the New Testament. We find it there taught:

(a) That Christ did institute a church separate from [civil governance], giving it separate laws and officers.

(b) That [Christ] laid down the qualifications of those officers and enjoined on the church, not on [civil governance], to judge [which men in the church meet those qualifications].

(c) That [Christ] prescribed the terms of admission to, and the grounds of exclusion from, the church, and left with the church its officers to administer these rules.”

Second, Hodge says “the New Testament, when speaking of the immediate design of [civil governance] and the official duties of the magistrate, never [suggests] that [magistrates have] those functions [related to religious belief or practice that establishmentarianism proposes]. This silence, together with the fact that those functions are assigned to the church and church officers, is proof that it is not the will of God that they should be assumed by [civil governance].”

Third, Hodge says “the only means which [civil governance] can employ to accomplish many [duties proposed by establishmentarians, such as suppressing heresy and preventing false worship], [namely, by coercion], are inconsistent with the example and commands of Christ [concerning faith and worship]; [and inconsistent] with the [liberty] of Christians, guaranteed in the Word of God (i.e., to serve God according to the dictates of one’s conscience); [as well as] ineffectual to the true end of religion, which is voluntary obedience to the truth; and [are] productive of incalculable evil. …By enjoining [duties concerning faith and worship] upon the church, as an institution distinct from [civil governance], [the New Testament] teaches positively that they do not belong to the magistrate, but to the church.”

Also posted here: https://gregorybaus.substack.com/p/hodge-on-disestablishment



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.




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.


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.


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 positively moral or immoral, 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...


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





Amazon Music / Audible

American Podcasts





Learn Out Loud

Listen Notes



Pocket Casts

Podcast Addict

Podcast Index





Radio Public


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.


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


Part 2 : Mistaken Views



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.


Reformed Biblical-theological foundations for Christian cultural activity


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.




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.