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. Thats a Second Table issue. Even those who dont 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, Im 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 dont 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 its 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 thats 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 youre 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 youre going to appeal to the Westminster Confession.
You already know your views cant be reconciled with the actions of John Knox, but maybe your view is that Knox couldnt have subscribed to the Westminster Standards. If so, surely you also know your views cant 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 youre going to argue your views based on the American Revision to the WCF. If so, you cant 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 Witherspoons 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.
Its 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.
Its 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 its 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 cant argue that what he did was somehow prohibited by the confessions of the church that he served.
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.
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 isnt 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 pastors 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? Mans sinful and evil nature? Divorce? No-not much because, in truth we simply dont wish to offend. We would rather talk about loving one another as if we truly believe that we understand what true love is. We dont wish to offend by talking about peoples hardness of hearts.
It is sad to hear pastors worrying about losing one tax exemptions because theyre 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.