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Request for Calvinists to help "Freep" a "Two Kingdoms" blog opposing Christian pastors in politics
Presbyterian Blues ^ | 10/11/2012 | Darrell Todd Maurina

Posted on 10/11/2012 11:27:52 AM PDT by darrellmaurina

Fellow Calvinists on the Great Reformed Ping List, I need some help.

Go to this website, run by a lawyer who is also an Orthodox Presbyterian elder, and you'll see what is being advocated by prominent people in Calvinist circles today who are seriously arguing not only that the church ought to steer clear from political positions but also that Christians ought not to use their Bibles when they enter the civil realm.

TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: opc; presbyterian; reformed; twokingdoms

1 posted on 10/11/2012 11:27:58 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...

Fellow Calvinists on the Great Reformed Ping List, I need some help.

Go to this website, run by a lawyer who is also an Orthodox Presbyterian elder, and you’ll see what is being advocated by prominent people in Calvinist circles today who are seriously arguing not only that the church ought to steer clear from political positions but also that Christians ought not to use their Bibles when they enter the civil realm.

This theology is sometimes known as “Two Kingdoms” theology. While there are a lot of variants, the basic bottom line is that if Christians are to participate in politics at all, they do so as citizens, not as Christians, and they are to use natural law, not Scripture, to make their points.

Reformed people active in politics need to be aware of this theology and take steps to fight it.

In some forms, Two Kingdoms theology may be compatible with the old Southern Presbyterian “spirituality of the church” concept. I’m not going to argue that point; that’s a separate issue.

The modern “Two Kingdoms” view has already led to a Westminster-West professor saying a Christian case can be made for homosexual civil unions. There is no way that kind of theology would be advocated by classical Southern Presbyterianism.

Link here for documentation:

And here for an attack on me as a “culture warrior” by the Reformed defenders of Two Kingdoms theology:

This nonsense needs to be stopped, and it can’t be stopped if we as Calvinists don’t learn about it, read as much as we can, and fight hard against it.

2 posted on 10/11/2012 11:43:56 AM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina
From a post by TurturroFan:

But the loss would occur not because these preachers were faithfully preaching the whole counsel of God, but because they foolishly believe that their endorsements of political candidates are just as good as the Word of God, if not the Word of God itself.

Oh for heaven's sake. What hogwash. The preachers involved have never implied such a thing.

3 posted on 10/11/2012 11:45:13 AM PDT by MEGoody (You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.)
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...
For those who don't like to click on links, here is an example of the kind of argumentation being advocated by “Two Kingdoms people.”

The person being referenced is ZRim, whose full name is Steve Zrimec, a former member of Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids who is now a member of the United Reformed Churches in North America. He writes extensively on Two Kingdoms issues. In this line of argument, he's actually trying to draw a parallel between ordaining women and political activism, saying that those who oppose women in office on biblical and confessional grounds ought to oppose political activism on the same grounds, wrongly citing the Westminster Confession in defense of his views.

My response was to point out that even the American Revision of the Westminster Confession doesn't say that. The American revision was drafted while the Rev. John Witherspoon, president of what is now Princeton and moderator of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, was still active in church life, having been a member of the New Jersey legislature, a member of the Continental Congress, a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, and a forceful advocate of adoption of the United States Constitution.

Read the exchange between me and Steve Zrimec. This stuff needs to be fought, and fought hard, in our own ecclesiastical circles.

Zrim wrote on October 11, 2012 at 9:40 AM

DTM, usually we anti-egalitarians point to 1 Tim 2:12 to say that Paul speaks clearly and about women being silent. So why is it so hard to read 1 Cor 5:12-13 and not see that Paul speaks just as plainly and clearly about the church being silent?

Yes, I understand that your view that pastors getting involved in politics does not necessarily stem from a low view of office and ordination. What I wonder is why it is so easy to see how Paul commands women to be silent, but when he tells the church to be concerned only for those inside her and let God judge those outside it leaves any room whatsoever for her officers to intermeddle?

darrelltoddmaurina wrote on October 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Perhaps because 1 Cor. 5:12-13 deals with church discipline, not the role of Christian civil magistrates?

ZRim, context counts.

The immediately preceding verses say this:

“9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Surely you are not trying to say the civil government has no role in addressing questions of sexual morality. That’s a Second Table issue. Even those who don’t believe the state should enforce the First Table should be able to concur that the Bible has standards of morality on such issues as murder, stealing, adultery, and lying which should be enforced by the state.

But given some of the recent debates in Two Kingdoms circles about the possible acceptability of homosexual civil unions, I’m no longer convinced I can take that for granted.

Zrim wrote on October 11, 2012 at 12:16 PM

DTM, sure it is. But the context of church discipline is ecclesiology.

But if you don’t think 1 Cor 5 has anything to say about how to relate to outsiders then what about John 18:36 (my kingdom is not of this world)? You might think this is more 2k proof-texting, but it’s the verse WCF 31.5 cites to bolster the teaching that “Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth…” So I still wonder where you get from the sharp language of WCF 31.5 any notion “that there are times when ministers may and perhaps even must get directly involved in the political process as part of their calling.” Before you go there, I take the exception clause about extraordinary circumstances to be only those where the state is compelling (or even potentially compelling) the church to violate her conscience. If that’s not happening, then zip it.

You are correct that my point has nothing to do with what role the civil government has in addressing questions of sexual morality, nor with the tables.

darrelltoddmaurina wrote on October 11, 2012 at 1:13 PM

ZRim, you cited WCF 31:5.

Did you perhaps mean section 4 of chapter 31 the Westminster Confession, which in the American Revision held by the OPC reads as follows: “4. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.”

If you really did mean WCF 31:5, then do you accept the deleted second section of the original version of that chapter, which reads as follows: “2. As magistrates may lawfully call a synod of ministers, and other fit persons, to consult and advise with, about matters of religion; so, if magistrates be open enemies to the Church, the ministers of Christ, of themselves, by virtue of their office, or they, with other fit persons upon delegation from their Churches, may meet together in such assemblies.”

My point here is not to call needless attention to a typo, but rather to ask how closely you’re actually paying attention to the text of the Westminster Confession.

ZRim, we do not disagree that the church as institute needs to be very careful before proclaiming “thus saith the Lord” on a political issue, and even then needs to focus on things clearly taught in the Bible and not getting into the details of political strategy intended to implement those principles. Frankly, in most cases I care very little whether a general assembly or synod takes a position on a political issue, and very few people are listening anyway.

My point is that Christians, acting as individual Christians, need to take Scriptural principles and apply them seven days per week, not just on one day inside the walls of the church.

Again, context counts if you’re going to appeal to the Westminster Confession.

You already know your views can’t be reconciled with the actions of John Knox, but maybe your view is that Knox couldn’t have subscribed to the Westminster Standards. If so, surely you also know your views can’t be reconciled with the actions of the Puritans who, while drafting the Westminster Standards, also supported the war of Parliament against the king and most eventually supported the overthrow of the monarchy entirely.

Perhaps you’re going to argue your views based on the American Revision to the WCF. If so, you can’t consistently argue that the actions of the Rev. John Witherspoon during the American Revolution were somehow in violation of even the American revision of the Westminster Confession. He wrote those revisions!

For those who may not be aware of Witherspoon’s background, he was a member of the Continental Congress, was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence, served twice in the New Jersey state legislature, and promoted the adoption of the United States Constitution, all in addition to his duties as an ordained Presbyterian minister, president of what is now Princeton, and moderator of the General Assembly.

It’s pretty hard to say that the first moderator of the General Assembly who oversaw the American revisions to the Westminster Confession was somehow being unconfessional.

It’s also hard to argue that his 1776 sermon “The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men” would somehow have been repudiated by Presbyterians of his day — but I think it’s obvious, ZRim, that you would not have wanted to sit under that sermon.

Now ZRim, you can argue that Witherspoon was wrong and that he never should have done any of those secular things, but you can’t argue that what he did was somehow prohibited by the confessions of the church that he served.

4 posted on 10/11/2012 12:01:11 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

Just curious - why are you just asking just “Fellow Calvinists” for help on this? There are many 100% Bible-believing Christians on here that would be glad to help, as the two items this blog is advocating is 100% NOT Biblical. We are IN the world, just not to be OF it. God is our Heavenly Father and Jesus is our Lord no matter what vocation and especially as Jesus commands us to be the Salt of the Earth.

5 posted on 10/11/2012 12:24:39 PM PDT by time4good
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To: darrellmaurina

I’d like to be on that ping list, if I may.



6 posted on 10/11/2012 12:26:26 PM PDT by Springfield Reformer (Winston Churchill: No Peace Till Victory!)
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To: darrellmaurina

Ah - never mind. I re-read your request - it’s in prominent Calinist circles, thus the arguments and points would have better formulations in the likeness of thought.

7 posted on 10/11/2012 12:26:40 PM PDT by time4good
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To: xzins; napscoordinator; AmericanInTokyo; wagglebee; little jeremiah; Dr. Brian Kopp; ...
A final post regarding Lee Irons, the former Orthodox Presbyterian minister whose wife, Misty Irons, set off a firestorm by saying she could support homosexual marriage, which led to him leaving the OPC and his church disbanding.

I'm sending this to some additional people active in conservative Christian circles, not just people on the Great Reformed Ping list, since I think it may be an encouragement to all of us when we get discouraged. BTW, Xzins, your post from a few years ago about John Witherspoon's famous sermon was one of the first to come up when I started Googling for a text of the sermon! Good for you for putting that on Free Republic... now we just need to get you to become a Whitefield-style Methodist ;-)

Lee Irons, having now completed his Ph.D. at Fuller Seminary, has apparently been unable to find a job in the church world. He still blogs, however, from time to time, and his wife is doing things like speaking at the pro-gay Christian conference that got a lot of earlier attention.

In a post from a few weeks ago, Irons wrote about being “besieged by Kuyperians,” which is a term referring to Dr. Abraham Kuyper, a Christian political and church leader in the Netherlands from the 1800s and early 1900s, but which he uses as a synonym for "Christian political engagement," meaning that in a negative way.

I commented here on his website, pending his decision on whether to post my comment:

“I usually just read here without commenting but I couldn't let this pass by: ‘In the OPC, I was besieged by the Kuyperians of the right. Now that I am in the PCA, I am confronted by the Kuyperians of the left. Kuyperians to the right of me, Kuyperians to the left of me.’

If you see Kuyperians all over the place, we must be doing something right. I know your comments weren't meant that way, but they're an encouragement to me that at least some of those who oppose Christian political activism think they're being “besieged” by Kuyperians.”

Sometimes it's nice to see that the “other side” feels they are under siege. It's easy to get discouraged until we realize the other side may feel the same way.

Discouragement is a tool of the devil. We need to be paying attention to whether we are on God's side, and if so, we need to focus on being faithful and let God take care of the results.

After all, we're Calvinists. God is sovereign. We aren't. He fights the battles for us; if it were up to us, we would never have a chance.

8 posted on 10/11/2012 12:33:18 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: Springfield Reformer
Thanks, Springfield... The Great Reformed Ping List is administered by this man and he can process the signup:

You can see the details on his page. It used to be a lot more active than it is now.

9 posted on 10/11/2012 12:36:40 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: time4good
Hi, Time4Good... I certainly would like to see Bible-believing Christians of any stripe participating in defense of the faith, but generally Lutherans are most interested in dealing with Lutheran problems, Baptists with Baptist problems, etc.

However, since this thread began with an attack on Dr. Wayne Grudem and his call for political preaching on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” I think evangelical Christians active in politics may be interested in participating even if they are not Calvinists.

For those who don't know Grudem, he was the General Editor for the ESV Study Bible and a founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He's basically a Baptist with Calvinistic leanings, but his influence goes far beyond Reformed circles.

10 posted on 10/11/2012 12:57:57 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina


11 posted on 10/11/2012 1:06:06 PM PDT by Lexinom
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To: darrellmaurina
My posting there:

I think it needs to be said that the original Two Kingdoms approach had the INVISIBLE Church on one hand, and the Crown AND the VISIBLE Church on the other.

Europe of 450 years ago had a near complete integration of Church and State (so much so that many Bishops were simultaneously secular rulers of lands) and a modern USA-style separation of Church and State was unthinkable. Therefore the two kingdoms envisioned by the Reformers was the government AND the official visible Church as the one Kingdom–of this world–and the true eternal Church of the elect–God’s Kingdom of this world and the next–on the other hand.

Given this, a godly ruler was always looking for the council of leaders of the Church–and godly Church leaders were always eager to give it–not artificially dividing the world into religious and non-religious spheres.

Even to our US Founding Fathers the current official agnosticism and even hostility of the state–narrowing the constitutional protection to “freedom of worship” (a favorite term in this current administration)–of the free exercise of religion, would be unthinkable. Very clearly the first Ammendment religious freedom clauses only attempted avoiding one officially recognized Church; it was clearly NOT intended to push pastors out of the public square–as the ACLU and the Left in America does today.

Preachers can and should incorporate ETHICS (which includes political ethics) into their biblical teachings. EVERY decision we make is to one degree or another–an ethical decision–and God is concerned with all aspects of our lives, not just our religious side.

Restrictions by the government on what a minister of the Gospel can and cannot say, are in principle, unconstitutional–and even if it is unfashionable to the educated and legal elites in this country–should be fought.

12 posted on 10/11/2012 1:58:56 PM PDT by AnalogReigns (because the real world is not digital...)
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To: darrellmaurina

The scripture teaches us that there are three things God requires of us; to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). It is this first part that I would call your attention to-to do justice. A study of the biblical text of Old Testament Jewish history shows that when legal corruption entered the nation, the nation disintegrated. In fact, one finds the commandment to Abraham was really twofold: by doing righteousness and justice (Gen 18:19).

The issue isn’t about endorsing a candidate but about doing what is just or what is right. I am not a pastor but I feel that it’s the pastor’s responsibility to give me a good swift kick in the pants every Sunday to get out there and do the things God has told me I should do. When the pastor fails to do that, then I fail to follow through. That includes those things that are just.

Today we hear so much from the pulpit of how loving and gracious God is. And that is certainly true. But how often do we here about homosexuality? Abortion? Man’s sinful and evil nature? Divorce? No-not much because, in truth we simply don’t wish to offend. We would rather talk about loving one another as if we truly believe that we understand what true love is. We don’t wish to offend by talking about people’s hardness of hearts.

It is sad to hear pastors worrying about losing one tax exemptions because they’re afraid to speak the truth. Some African-American and liberal churches have no problem in endorsing a candidate which should say something about the rest who wring their hands over what to do. To paraphrase Ester 4:14, “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise … from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Is it any wonder we have a choice between a Mormon President or an atheist/Muslim President and no Protestants sit on the Supreme Court? If we all believe God is sovereign and in control, then our circumstances are because we have been negligent in our duties.

13 posted on 10/11/2012 2:57:31 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: AnalogReigns
Thank you.

One of the attorneys who posts on that site wrote this in response:

Posted by mikelmann on October 11, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Ralph, the free exercise clause is alive and well and has recently had the robust support of even the liberal judges. See

But I’m mostly interested in this part:
Preachers can and should incorporate ETHICS (which includes political ethics) into their biblical teachings. EVERY decision we make is to one degree or another–an ethical decision–

Let’s start with a constitutional amendment for the good cause of your choice. A consideration of such an amendment will involve, in part, a judgment on what powers are alloted to a government. It will then involve whether that particular expression of power is best exercised by a constitutional change or statute. It will also involve whether the state or federal government should be exercising that power. Then there will be a matter of drafting. Is the particular statute or constitutional amendment drafted well? Is there something about its drafting that will backfire or inadvertently cause other problems? Then, politically, is the particular proposal worth all the arm twisting that will be necessary to get it done, or are there better ways to spend political capital?

There’s enough on a pastor’s plate without having to sort all this out, and there’s nothing about the pastor’s training that suggests any special expertise in sorting it out.

My response to him:

darrelltoddmaurina wrote October 11, 2012 at 6:14 PM

Okay, let's consider a real-life example — a public statewide vote on a constitutional amendment in Michigan, back during its “progressive” era, to outlaw Christian schooling and require all children to attend public school under truancy laws.

In that day, the push to promote the public school system came from secular liberals (Dewey, et al) and anti-Catholic sentiments. The support for private Christian day schooling came from Roman Catholic, Lutheran and about half of the Dutch Reformed churches. (In those days, the CRC was strongly supporting Christian schools and the RCA was often actively opposed to them.)

Court cases have made something like this unconstitutional today, but back in the 1920s and 1930s it was a very real question whether this would be allowed.

Do you believe that pastors of churches that support Christian schooling might have some theological expertise to bring to bear on how their church members should vote on a proposal to bar Christian schooling?

14 posted on 10/11/2012 4:21:32 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

***This theology is sometimes known as “Two Kingdoms” theology. While there are a lot of variants, the basic bottom line is that if Christians are to participate in politics at all, they do so as citizens, not as Christians, and they are to use natural law, not Scripture, to make their points.***

Yeah, sure. That’s what Jesus did when he talked with the devil, just used natural law and civil discourse... HE HIT HIM BETWEEN THE EYES WITH SCRIPTURE!!!!! And that is our role model for every personal contact we have, scripture and gospel, gospel and scripture.

You can’t take off Christianity like you are taking off a coat.

15 posted on 10/12/2012 12:59:00 PM PDT by irishtenor (Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)
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To: irishtenor
15 posted on Fri Oct 12 2012 14:59:00 GMT-0500 (Central Daylight Time) by irishtenor: “Yeah, sure. That’s what Jesus did when he talked with the devil, just used natural law and civil discourse... HE HIT HIM BETWEEN THE EYES WITH SCRIPTURE!!!!! And that is our role model for every personal contact we have, scripture and gospel, gospel and scripture. You can’t take off Christianity like you are taking off a coat.”

We agree.

Since you're a PCA elder, you're in a position to actually help do something about this. You may want to look up Misty Irons and her husband Lee Irons, who used to be an OPC minister and is now a PCA ruling elder. I have a link to a Free Republic thread on Misty Irons in an earlier post of this thread.

The PCA has its problems, but I would hope the strictly confessional “TRs” and the more broadly evangelical people can get together and deal with this stuff.

The typical pattern of liberals is to win by dividing different types of conservatives against each other. That worked in both northern Presbyterianism and southern Presbyterianism, and led to the formation of the OPC out of the (Northern) PCUSA and of the PCA out of the (Southern) PCUS.

Today, however, this “Two Kingdoms” theology is a rising tide in both the OPC and the PCA.

Not all “Two Kingdoms” people are the same — I believe some of them really are the heirs of Dabney, Thornwell, and the old Southern Presbyterian opposition to political engagement by the church — but some of those people are seriously problematic and need to be stopped.

I hope that homosexuality and homosexual civil unions are enough of a “red flag” that TRs and broad evangelicals in the PCA can put aside their secondary disputes to deal with a much more serious problem in the Reformed world.

BTW, I am a member of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The rest of my family attend a Korean-speaking PCA where the pastor speaks virtually no English; he'd like to start an English-speaking PCA for soldiers near Fort Leonard Wood but realistically that's not going to happen anytime in the foreseeable future. So while I'm not personally PCA, I do have a “dog in the fight,” so to speak.

Of course, God might have a sense of humor and motivate someone in the Pentagon to cut orders sending a half-dozen Calvinist Freepers to Fort Leonard Wood. Maybe I should be more careful about saying things are or aren't going to happen. I guess that last paragraph about saying things won't happen in the foreseeable future really was rather inconsistent for a Calvinist to write!

16 posted on 10/12/2012 1:31:43 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

I have not heard of any PCA pastors preaching a two kingdom type of theology, however Peter Jones has a book on oneism vs twoism which is very interesting.
For any conservative Pbresbyterian to say that they leave their Christianity at the door just doesn’t make any sense, and contradicts the Bible in many places: To be IN the world but not OF the world.

17 posted on 10/12/2012 1:53:08 PM PDT by irishtenor (Everything in moderation, however, too much whiskey is just enough... Mark Twain)
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To: irishtenor
I probably should be glad that you say you don't know of any Two Kingdoms people in the PCA. Unfortunately, “Two Kingdoms” theology is growing in your denomination.

A particularly prominent example was Jason Stellman, who has recently left the PCA ministry and is joining the Roman Catholic Church (though for unrelated reasons). You can read about Stellman leaving the PCA here:

You also have Elder Lee Irons and his wife Misty Irons, who are members of a PCA congregation in California which they joined after Lee Irons was brought up on charges in the OPC.

Much of the problem is being caused by three professors at Westminster Theological Seminary, Dr. Michael Scott Horton, Dr. David Van Drunen, and Dr. R. Scott Clark. Ironically, the one Dutchman is a member of the OPC and the two non-Dutch professors in that triad are members of the URC.

I think it is patently obvious that Westminster-West has major influence in the PCA and on future PCA ministers.

I need to immediately emphasize that the Two Kingdoms version being taught by some Westminster-West professors is not being taught by all the professors, and furthermore, there is a more radical version out there as well. I make a distinction between R2K (Radical Two Kingdoms) and Escondido 2K theology. The worst things being said by Two Kingdoms advocates are not necessarily things with which Horton, Scott and Van Drunen would agree.

Here's a quick primer from the Puritan Board with links to a number of other articles defining and critiquing Two Kingdoms theology:

Here's another summary of the problem by Dr. William Evans of Erskine Seminary:

Here is a much more detailed evaluation by Dr. Nelson Kloosterman of a prominent Two Kingdoms theologian, Dr. David Van Drunen of the OPC who teaches at Westminster-West:

Here's another review of Van Drunen by Keith Mathison of Ligonier Ministries:

Also, spend some time reading the Calvinist International site, which is critical of the “Two Kingdoms” theology, here:

If you want to read Two Kingdoms theology in practice, check out the blogs of Dr. Clark, Westminster-West graduate Matt Tuininga, former Westminster-West professor Dr. Daryl Hart, and former PCA minister Jason Stellman at these sites:

Dr. R. Scott Clark/Heidelblog

Dr. Daryl Hart/Old Life Reformed Faith and Practice:

Matt Tuininga/Christian in America:

Presbyterian Blues (an OPC ruling elder who is also a lawyer):

Jason Stellman/Creed Code Cult

Specific Link to Two Kingdoms tag on Stellman’s blog:

That's probably enough links for now.

Let's just say the Two Kingdoms influence is growing, and it is a real problem.

18 posted on 10/12/2012 5:52:52 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: Springfield Reformer; NKP_Vet; massmike; time4good; MEGoody; xzins; wagglebee; ...
PING to the GRPL list and some other individuals.

Wagglebee, your call on whether you want to PING the moral absolutes and abortion lists.

Suggested ping to massmike for Mass Resistance if they'd be interested in this due to the Scott Brown connection.

This discussion over on Presbyterian Blues (the blog of an Orthodox Presbyterian elder in Des Moines, Iowa, who is a lawyer) has gone in some very bad directions. Apparently these OPC, PCA, and URC members, some of whom are elders, actually believe it's perfectly okay to be, like U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, a pro-choice politician in the United States Senate and a member in good standing of a Reformed church.

Frankly, I have more patience with Sen. Scott Brown, who is a member of a rather nontraditional congregation in the Christian Reformed Church, than I have with OPC and PCA elders advocating such views. Scott Brown used to be a member of the United Church of Christ, he's now in a Christian Reformed congregation which isn't sound in its teaching, and he may honestly not understand the issues.

Conservative elders in the OPC and PCA have no excuse.

I am as strictly Reformed in my soteriology as someone can get, and yes, I do affirm Q&A 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism, but on this point I have to commend the Roman Catholics. You've done what apparently we in the Reformed world still need to do, namely, saying that public pro-choice advocacy of the idea that mothers should be able to choose to murder their babies is unacceptable when that advocacy is done by politicians who have the power to vote against such murders.

There are prior examples of Calvinist churches making political issues a term of communion. They're rare, but they happened prior to World War II with the Gereformeerde Kerken banning church members from belonging to the Dutch Nazi Party and with some Presbyterian denominations such as the Covenanters over slave ownership. I believe mass murder of babies is a sufficiently extraordinary case that it meets the very high requirements for the church to take a stand on civil issues (cf. Westminster Confession, Chapter 23).

Read the whole thread if you can, but if you can't, then read these parts. FYI, “Richard” is a PCA elder and “ZRim” is Steve Zrimec, a former student at Calvin Theological Seminary who is now a member of the United Reformed Churches in North America. “Mikelmann” is in the OPC. They're advocates of what is sometimes called “Two Kingdoms” theology.

Steve Zrimec blogs along with a number of other OPC, URC and PCA people, including URC member Rick Bierling Jr. and OPC minister Rev. Todd Bordow, at this website:


darrelltoddmaurina on October 13, 2012 at 1:54 PM

This is getting interesting.

While I may be a pragmatist about some things, toleration of open public sin is not among them.

My example was not hypothetical. I wanted to first see how you would answer without adding a name, but let’s add the name.

U.S. Senator Scott Brown is a member of New England Chapel in Franklin, Mass., a congregation of the Christian Reformed Church.

As a matter of pragmatic politics, I should be a supporter of Sen. Brown. The reality is that he’s probably about the best that can be asked for out of Massachusetts. If I lived in that state I’d probably gag and pull the lever for him since any realistic alternative will be far worse.

In the ecclesiastical world, however, Brown’s support for homosexual civil unions, vote to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on homosexuals in the military, and declaration that he won’t use abortion as a test for nominees for Supreme Court positions make him unacceptable. In politics sometimes we have to make hard choices between lesser evils; in the church, we have to follow absolute principles regardless of the consequences.

The result of tolerating people like Sen. Brown in church membership is that we get things like this written by National Review in its flattering profile of the senator soon after his election: “This new Calvinism is a development of the post-Great Awakening era, a religion that’s not afraid of sentimentality — yet it remains recognizably Calvinism, in its stress on the Bible and on the sovereignty of God.”

Brown’s views are bad enough, but how about this comment from his church’s website: “I have found a home, a family, friends, and most importantly, begun the journey to a REAL relationship with God. It is not one based on guilt or fear, but rather love, hope, and mercy.”

Apparently Brown’s church has not heard that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 9:10, Ps. 111:10). Obviously it’s not the end of wisdom, but conviction of sin is central to the Christian experience. Total depravity isn’t the only point of Calvinism, but it is the first point.

A church that tolerates views such as those expressed by Brown and posted on its website is not recognizably Calvinist at all. It’s not realistic to ask the Christian Reformed Church to discipline Sen. Brown or his consistory — after all, the church has two women elders and that makes it pretty much untouchable — but I hope the OPC or PCA would discipline someone who held or tolerated views such as those of Sen. Brown.


Zrim on October 13, 2012 at 3:57 PM

DTM, so it’s open public sin to disagree with you politically? But I am willing to follow absolute biblical principles regardless of the consequences and draw the line at doctrine and life.


Richard on October 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM

DTM, umm, no, as a ruling elder in the PCA, I would have no authority to discipline any member of my church who held or tolerated the views of Sen Scott Borwn. Sorry, his views do not constitute open public sin according to our Book of Church Order. Jeepers.


darrelltoddmaurina on October 13, 2012 at 7:17 PM

ZRim and Richard, this is getting more and more interesting.

Your answers are not at all what I expected. I thought I'd hear you saying some version of “don't blame us for what a liberal CRC with women elders does — we would never tolerate someone like Sen. Brown in our church.”

Apparently I need to get out more. I thought the answer was obvious and did not at all expect what you're responding.

I think I'm now beginning to understand why a Westminster-West professor can say he can see a case for homosexual civil unions, or why Misty Irons writes and speaks the way she does.

Right now I feel like the reporter for Nederlands Dagblad who asked a Calvin Seminary professor, during the Rev. Jim Lucas uproar, shortly after he “came out” as a homosexual, whether the Calvin College faculty knew he was a homosexual when the seminary board of trustees recommended him for ordination. (Remember that unlike Presbyterianism where the decisions on candidacy and ordination are made by the presbyteries, in the Christian Reformed Church, the seminary faculty and board of trustees are primarily responsible for deciding who is allowed to become a candidate for the ministry; synod almost always rubber-stamps the seminary decision.)

The Nederlands Dagblad reporter was amazed to find out that the faculty had known Lucas was homosexual and that the professors had informed the board without giving the name of the student involved, with the result that the seminary board, with no involvement whatsoever of the Christian Reformed synod, had taken it upon itself years earlier to decide it's okay to be a homosexual minister in the Christian Reformed Church as long as the minister didn't actually have same-gender sexual relations.

Frankly, I never thought to ask that question, and the seminary professor's answer blew the homosexual issue wide open in the CRC. Regardless of whether the seminary board's position was right or wrong, the effect was that the seminary faculty and board had made a massively important decision without ever involving the synod.

ZRim, I realize you do not speak for the URCNA, Mikelmann does not speak for the OPC, and Richard does not speak for the PCA. None of you have the same level of authority that seminary professor had.

However, I am amazed to be seeing these answers.

I guess I'd better ask some more questions — were the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland correct in barring membership in the Dutch Nazi Party? Were the Covenanters right to bar slaveowners from church membership?

I certainly am not supporting slavery or Nazis, but I think a much better case can be made for being a Southern Presbyterian slaveowner treating his slaves decently despite them being stolen property, than for being pro-choice on baby killing.

Even the Dutch Nazis didn't yet know or understand what was going on in the death camps. Very conservative ministers including the main minister of the Gereformeerde Gemeenten (Netherlands Reformed Congregations) made a terrible bargain with the devil and cooperated with the Dutch Nazis out of a wrongheaded belief that they were supporting Christian values against Communism. The Dutch Nazis were wrong, but at least they weren't openly saying in the Netherlands that it was okay to kill Jews. Most Dutch Jews had no idea what was waiting for them in the death camps and thought they were going to be put in work camps.

I believe the Covenanters were well within their rights to bar slaveholders from church membership. I believe the Gereformeerde Gemeenten were definitely right to bar Dutch Nazis from church membership.

If we believe what we say about abortion being killing of defenseless babies, abortion really is on the same level as killing Jews. It logically follows that anyone who is publicly advocating a pro-choice position on baby murder is worthy of church discipline.

I thought until now that was something pretty much all conservative Calvinists agreed upon.

Apparently not.

19 posted on 10/13/2012 7:00:25 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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To: darrellmaurina

Typo alert: the reference to “Calvin College” faculty above should be “Calvin Seminary.” It’s the seminary faculty, not the college faculty, who make recommendations on declaring people candidates for the Christian Reformed ministry and made the recommendation on Jim Lucas’ candidacy. Considering that I graduated from the college and attended the seminary, I certainly know that.

20 posted on 10/13/2012 7:19:43 PM PDT by darrellmaurina
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