A Two Kingdoms Hart Attack

Over at Old Life Theological Society, Darryl Hart has been vigilantly policing the web for any criticism of Reformed two kingdoms theology, so I knew it was only a matter of time before my incessant provocations warranted a full-post response.  That response came on Monday, and although I hate the petty squabbling that so often characterizes blog debates, this may be a useful opportunity to clarify some of my critiques of VanDrunen and get a better idea of where R2K folks are coming from.  My main reply proved rather bulky for the comments section, so I’ve opted to post it here–Darryl’s excerpts in italics, mine in regular font:

“1) Christ has fulfilled Adam’s original task.

2) Therefore [Latin, ergo], Christians are not called to fulfil that task.

3) Christians do not need to earn eternal life by cultural labours; they already possess the eternal life that Christ has won for them.

4) Our work does not participate in the coming of the new creation–it has already been attained once and for all by Christ.

5) Our cultural activity is important but temporary, since it will all be wiped away when Christ returns to destroy this present world.”

Sounds pretty good to me (except for number 5 which is a bit of a caricature), but it also makes sense theologically since you wouldn’t want to argue the opposite of these deductions, would you? Do you really want to be on the side of affirming that Christians earn eternal life through cultural labours? 

First, I would ask how #5 a caricature?  This is certainly what VanDrunen appears to be saying in LGTK, but if not, I am glad to hear that, and would like to get a clearer explanation of what R2K eschatology looks like.

Second, why wouldn’t some want to argue the opposite of these deductions?  I would certainly dispute 2, as well as, in certain important senses at any rate, 4 and 5.  The only one that you really wouldn’t want to dispute is 3.  

But more fundamentally, my objection was that these do not constitute “deductions” but a string of assertions.  (3) simply does not follow from (1) and (2)–except on an idiosyncratic and unbiblical understanding of “Adam’s original task”, nor do any of the others follow from (3).  (3) is the odd man out here.   How does the statement “we do not merit redemption by our cultural labours” entail “redemption has nothing to do with our cultural labours”?  We are not justified by our cultural labours, of course.  But our sanctification does flow over into those cultural labours, as I will get to in a moment. 

 

We are united with Christ, ergo, we take part in redeeming the world? How exactly does that follow?

How does it not follow? We are united with Christ, therefore we reign even now with with him; we are made kings and priests, sharing in his dominion and intercession over all creation.  He is even now putting all his enemies under his feet, thus redeeming the world from the bondage of sin.  And by our union with him, we are made sharers in this task.  Lest this sound too triumphalistic, we must of course remember that we are united with him in his death, and called to share in his cross, which is how he overcomes the world.  I suppose it does not follow for the R2Ker because they insist that Christ is not enthroned over creation, but only over the Church; therefore, even if we do somehow share in his kingship, this means nothing for redeeming the world.  This is a whole ‘nother discussion, I suppose, though I have touched on it in previous posts on R2K Christology.

 

But to turn cultural activity into a part of redemption does take away from the all sufficiency of Christ or misunderstands the nature of his redeeming work.  You may understand the sole sufficiency of the work of Christ for saving sinners, but if you then add redeeming culture or word and deed ministries to the mix of redemption, you are taking away from Christ’s sufficiency, both for the salvation of sinners and to determine what his kingdom is going to be and how it will be established. Maybe you could possibly think about cultural activity as a part of sanctification where God works and we work when creating a pot of clay.

There’s vagueness going on here in the term “redemption.”  Redemption involves, if I learned my ordo salutis correctly in Catechism class, both justification and sanctification…not to mention glorification.  So yes, cultural activity is a part of sanctification–and therefore it is a part of redemption.  Redemption takes effect in a sanctification which lays hold of our entire lives, including culture.  Now here’s the cool part.  Although this cultural activity is an effect, not a cause, of our own personal redemption, it is a cause of the redemption of the world more broadly.  This of course gives VanDrunen and Hart the heebie-jeebies, so let me explain.  The fall, by warping our relationship with God, also warped our relationships to one another.  As we are sanctified, we are again enabled to live out these relationships rightly.  Our redemption thus takes effect (slow and ambiguous effect, to be sure) in the healing of distorted social structures, and indeed of creation itself (Romans 8:20-23).  And here is where my “not a zero-sum game” comes in.  Christ is the sole lord of the universe, the sole captain of salvation, the only one with power to redeem.  But he accomplishes the redemption of his creation through his people–by his grace, he redeems for himself a people, and in transforming them, enables them to work together with him in accomplishing the healing of his world.

But as I’ve said before, the fruit of the Spirit is not Bach, Shakespeare, or Sargent; if you turn cultural activity into redeemed work you need to account for the superior cultural products of non-believers compared to believers.

There are actually three categories to be considered, and you and VanDrunen collapse the latter two. First, there are actions carried out in relation to God–here, obviously, only believers saved by grace through faith are able to do what is good.  Then there are actions carried out in relation to other humans–this is the domain of ethics and politics.  Then there are actions carried out in relation to the creation–this is the domain of art, mathematics, technology, etc.   These are of course not iron-clad spheres (at least not the latter two), but useful distinctions.  Now, while in the third category, natural reason is sufficient for unbelievers to discover the laws of geometry or write glorious symphonies just as well as believers (although it is probably not a coincidence that music has developed so much further in the Christian West than anywhere else; if we were being really precise, we would treat humane arts here differently than physical sciences), it’s not quite this simple in the second category.  Unbelievers are not going to have the same insight into justice, into how husbands and wives should treat one another, how rulers should treat their subjects, how economic exchange should be carried out justly, as Christians.  They will have a lot of insight, sure (this is natural law, common grace, etc.), but do we really want to say that salvation doesn’t affect how you treat other people, and the Bible gives no instruction on how to treat other people?  I think not.  It is careless to lump together politics and music as “culture” and say that in all “cultural activities” believers have nothing distinctive to offer, and that the Bible doesn’t give us instruction about cultural activities.

 

Actually, VanDrunen supplies plenty of theological justification for his view of Christ and culture since he sees important layers of discontinuity between Israel and the church 

Sure, of course there are important layers of discontinuity, but there are also important layers of continuity, and I can’t find those in his account (more on this in an upcoming post).

It does not take much imagination to see that the Israelites, even the ones who trusted in Christ during his earthly ministry, were completely unprepared for the new order that was going to emerge after the resurrection…. But the new order of the church was completely unprecedented in the history of redemption to that point in time.

Well, yes and no.  I think N.T. Wright supplies very helpful categories for understanding this.  The gospel only makes sense as an unforeseen fulfilment of God’s promises to Israel.  It is unforeseen in advance, but it is a fulfilment, and thus is in continuity that can be readily traced in hindsight.  I don’t see where those points of continuity are for VanDrunen–the history of Israel remains isolated and unintegrated into the sequence of redemptive history (again, more on this in an upcoming post). 

I see no reason why the next age of redemptive history will [not] similarly exceed any expectation that we have based on our experience of this world.

Absolutely.  But it will nonetheless be in continuity.  When I was a young child, I couldn’t begin to imagine what I would be like as a fully grown man (heh, I still can’t :-p)… but this is different from not being able to imagine what it would be like to be a peacock.  Again, I’m sure VanDrunen would claim that there is some kind of continuity between this creation and the new creation, but I’m not sure where it is, and his theology appears to repeatedly undermine it.


32 thoughts on “A Two Kingdoms Hart Attack

  1. Is there a reversal of italicisation in the final two paragraphs? Isn't the final paragraph your answer to the comment in the penultimate one? And is there a "not" missing from the penultimate paragraph? A double negative, while unwieldy, seems to make more sense of the context.

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  2. Brad Littlejohn

    Thanks for catching that Byron–I've fixed it now. There should be a "not" in that penultimate paragraph, but the typo was Darryl's, not mine…I suppose putting it in brackets then is the way to go, which I've also now done.

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  3. Albert

    Brad, this is well said. It seemed to me as well that part of the issue was understanding 'redemption' too narrowly as 'justification' rather than as 'salvation,' which involves the reshaping of our love in sanctification even now as a graced post-requisite to justification, rather than a meritorious prerequisite. Since love involves cultural activity–from helping people find jobs to changing flat tires to making beautiful art for the enjoyment and edification of others–it seems impossible to detach redemption from cultural activity. The only real question is what is particularly Christian about a cultural activity, i.e. is there Christian plumbing or architecture? I think there is, but the plausibility of the implication depends on one's prior imagination of Christianity in terms of the renewal of a polity-within-cosmos rather than as individual spiritual piety. This kind of thinking takes getting used to (and certainly there are more or less obvious examples of Christian implication) and will likely be seen with ever-present skepticism (e.g. "Dirt's just dirt, pipes are just pipes!") apart from a re-enchantment of the world.

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  4. Don Frank

    Hart's comment that "the fruit of the Spirit is not Bach…" reminds me of a Mars Hill Audio Journal (Volume 94) that I recently listened to in which Ken Myers interviewed Jeremy Begbie about his book "Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music". In it, Begbie maintains that music is a way of engaging with the order in Creation. He suggests that we need to rediscover God's commitment to all that He has made — that He delights as we delight in our making of music and this is what God intended for us. I really appreciate how the Mars Hill Audio Journal has cultivated my sense of how intertwined God is with His Creation, something that seems to totally elude Hart.

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  5. Brad:I'm going to weigh in here because DVD's "Living in God's Two Kingdoms" has been a welcome breakthrough in my thinking on the proper relationship between Christianity and culture. (1) On the point regarding eschatology (#5), you did not faithfully present VD's view with its nuances (see pp. 64-71). VD says "the New Testament teaches that the natural order AS IT NOW EXISTS will come to a radical end and that the products of human culture will perish along with the natural world" (emphasis mine, p. 64). Keep in mind VD's distinction between destruction and annihilation and his point about continuity between this world and the world-to-come: "Though Scripture teaches the destruction of the natural order, it does not teach its annihilation. In fact, we know that the present world will not be annihilated because Scripture teaches that our earthly bodies will be transformed into resurrected bodies. It is precisely this – the resurrection of believers' bodies – that the created order is now longing for: 'the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God' (8:19). Our earthly bodies are the only part of the present world that Scripture says will be transformed and taken up into the world-to-come. Believers themselves are the point of continuity between this creation and the new creation. The New Jerusalem is the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2). Asserting that anything else in this world will be transformed and taken up into the world-to-come is SPECULATION BEYOND SCRIPTURE" (emphasis mine, p. 66).(2) On the points regarding Adam's task and whether we are called to fulfill it (#1, #2), I'm curious to hear how you define that task. To call VD's understanding of Adam's task "idiosyncratic and unbiblical" seems reckless. Here's how he puts it: "The first Adam was commissioned to exercise dominion as a king (Gen. 1:26-28) and to guard the holy garden of Eden as a priest (2:15), which means that when the serpent appeared, Adam should have asserted his authority, vanquished him, and protected the holy temple of Eden. Now God announces in Genesis 3:15 that what Adam failed to do would be accomplished by one of Eve's own offspring. This offspring would assert authority over the enemy and vanquish him, inflicting not a minor blow but a mortal wound to the head. So this is the original gospel message: a Son of Adam will do what Adam should have done in the first place. A second and last Adam is coming" (pp. 49-50). Do you think that we, Adam's sons and daughters, can do what he failed to do: exercise wise, righteous, and holy dominion over this world and bring the human race to everlasting life in the world-to-come by perfectly obeying the cultural commission? If so, you have a Promethean confidence in human perfectibility and power.(3) On the question of whether redemption has anything to do with our cultural labors, we must be clear about what we mean by redemption. Rather than putting words into VD's mouth or reading fuzzily between the lines, why not ask him directly or search out a definition in his writing? I don't think VD would disagree that "our sanctification does flow over into those cultural labors." He repeatedly says we should pursue cultural labors with love and service toward our neighbors as the exiles in Babylon without trying to turn Babylon into another Jerusalem.(4) I can't remember a single passage in LGTK where VD says "Christ is not enthroned over creation, but only the Church." You leave the wrong impression that the common kingdom is "a realm of moral neutrality or human autonomy" (p. 81). VD emphatically denies this. On the contrary, he says: "Both the common kingdom and the redemptive kingdom exist by God's ordination and under his moral government, but God rules them in different ways and for different purposes. In both kingdoms Christians offer loving service to God and neighbor. As they live in two kingdoms, however, Christians must remember that only one of these kingdoms is destined to endure. They live in the common kingdom as sojourners and exiles, waiting eagerly for Christ, the last Adam, to return and to usher in his redemptive kingdom in the fullness of its glory" (p. 128).(5) What you say here sounds very similar to what VD says in his book: "Christ is the sole lord of the universe, the sole captain of salvation, the only one with power to redeem. But he accomplishes the redemption of his creation through his people–by his grace, he redeems for himself a people, and in transforming them, enables them to work together with him in accomplishing the healing of his world." There's one missing ingredient: the church!!! Christ enables his people to work together with him in accomplishing the healing of his world THROUGH THE CHURCH AND ITS DISTINCTIVE ETHIC (characterized by forgiveness that transcends justice, generosity that transcends scarcity, evangelism that spurns violence), SPIRITUALITY, AND MINISTERIAL AUTHORITY. Moreover, we ought to distinguish between the institutional church (what's described above) and the organic church (individual Christians being salt and light in the common kingdom). VD writes: "The church is the one and only earthly institution today that can claim the promises of the Abrahamic covenant of grace and can identify itself with the redemptive kingdom, the kingdom of heaven proclaimed by Christ. Though it resembles other earthly institutions in some outward ways, it is not just one earthly institution out of many. While God rules and preserves every other earthly institution through the Noahic covenant, he bestows salvation on the church alone through the Abrahamic covenant of grace. All other institutions serve good and honorable purposes at present, but they await termination at the day of Christ's return. The church, in contrast, awaits Christ's return as a day of consummation, when as the bride of Christ she will take her place at the wedding day of the Lamb (see Eph. 5:22-32; Rev. 19:9-10)" (p. 131).(6) VD never (!) says "the Bible doesn't give us instruction about cultural activities." Here's what he does say:Christians are Christians seven days a week, in whatever place or activity they find themselves, and thus they must always strive to live consistently with their profession of Christ. At the same time, we should be careful about how we use the term “Christian” to describe our education, work, politics, or other cultural endeavors. While Scripture has significant things to say about all of our cultural endeavors, it does not tell us everything about any of them. Scripture provides a general, big-picture perspective about these endeavors but does not ordinarily provide specific instructions about how to pursue them in an excellent and socially beneficial way. God therefore leaves much to the wisdom and discretion of Christians as they make their way in the common kingdom and interact with unbelieving colleagues. Every Christian has the obligation to make morally responsible decisions about his cultural endeavors. But Christians must also be on guard against condemning other Christians’ decisions about matters for which Scripture does not bind the conscience. We should be modest about claiming our own decisions and views about such things as the Christian view (p. 162).Much of this comment has been an effort to get you back to the text when you've said things that VD either never said or said with nuance and qualification. What bothers me about your engagement with VD and R2K is not disagreement per se but the manner of the disagreement. Your reading is tendentious and flippant. A hermeneutics of suspicion seems to be at work when there SHOULD be a hermeneutics of charity. What accounts for your suspicion? What axe do you have to grind? I wish you and VD could sit down at a table for a two-hour recorded YouTube conversation. I suspect there would be more common ground even if you do hold to different paradigms for Christianity and culture. Shalom,Christopher

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  6. Peter Escalante

    Christopher,Brad can defend himself, but I'd like to offer a few reflections on your points here.First, Brad has read DVD very closely, and very charitably; but he is getting at the gist of DVD's argument, and none of the nuances you mention actually change that gist. I should say that DVD has never, to my knowledge, engaged Brad at all, or Steven Wedgeworth's critique in Credenda Agenda, wherein Pastor Wedgeworth demonstrated that DVD's version of the "two kingdoms" is decidedly not that of the Reformers, and that the contradiction actually lies in DVD's version, not that of the Reformers. DVD has had plenty of time and occasion to speak his mind, and he hasn't. All of us have had to deal not with DVD, who is as mentioned strikingly absent from these conversations, but rather with his defender, DG Hart; and if you want to talk about hermeneutics of suspicion, Hart's reading of Wedgeworth and Littlejohn is much more an example of that, than is their reading of him. About the relation of faith and culture. Yes, the genuine two kingdoms view does have a lot in common, practically, with DVD's practical suggestions. Where they differ is in the principles; and that difference will have practical effects. But none of us who hold to the classical two kingdoms doctrine argue for a clerocracy in the State, or the absurdity of a Christian plumbing, which Hart always seems to want to charge us with. We do say that DVD's view naturally leads not a genuinely ascetic or eschatological distance from the fallenness of the world, but to a sectarian disaffection from the good of it.About the creation and its transformation: the question of continuities between this world and the world to come is very difficult, and DVD's notion of bodies-only restoration isn't some simple, unspeculative fidelity to the Word; it is an attempt to justify narrow redemption. Let's say only our bodies are restored, out of all the original creation. Restored then into what? A vacuum? We are not simply bodies; we are persons, and persons have worlds. And not just dispensable, merely external worlds; a world is both external and internal. Our works, memories, world of meanings has to be in some way saved along with us, or what we are talking about is not resurrection but total reinvention.Regarding the kingship of Christ: your defense of DVD here is weak, so weak that it actually proves Brad's point. The quote you have from DVD has *God* ruling the two kingdoms in different ways- not *Christ*. The fact is, as Wedgeworth and Littlejohn have both shown at length, the R2K error has it that God is Lord of both church and creation, but that Christ is Lord only of the church, conceived as an escape capsule from the doomed cosmos. Lastly, about the church. What you call the "organic church" *is* the church, period; and you make a mistake by making it a mere aggregate of individuals afield, so to speak, in the wide wicked world. The organic church you speak of is the Christian people- corpus christianum- and its sacred ministry is merely one vocation, that of the Word, while that same people has many other vocations, including statecraft. Both ministers and magistrates are representative at once of both the corpus christianum, and the rule of God. But to make the Christian people only the Christian people in relation to the sacred ministry, is to invert the right relation, and really is to make them Christians only on Sunday. Hart and Van Drunen's model of ecclesiology is closer to the Anabaptist or Roman Catholic idea (especially the modern RC idea) than it is to Biblical and evangelical teaching.paxP

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  7. Don Frank

    I appreciate Christopher's measured comments and Peter's gracious and thoughtful response. Playing off of what I said earlier (re. Begbie's book "Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music") though, I think we need to take a harder look at Christopher's, et. al epistemology reflected in this quoted statement: "Asserting that anything else in this world will be transformed and taken up into the world-to-come is SPECULATION BEYOND SCRIPTURE" (emphasis mine, p. 66) — especially the emphasized portion of it. By God's providence, I read Psalm 104 this morning and could not help but feeling that I was delighting along with God as WE considered the ships and the leviathan PLAYING in the great and wide sea. Am I speculating beyond scripture — absolutely, but Scripture launched and guided me the way I should go. I gotta go, but can we kick this around a bit?

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  8. Peter,We'll have to agree to disagree because I think the nuances do change the gist of DVD's argument, otherwise I wouldn't have spent so much time getting Brad back to the text when he's wandered from it. VD is aware of the critiques by Steven Wedgeworth in Credenda Agenda, David Koyzis in Cardus, and now Littlejohn. To his credit, he doesn't live his intellectual life online. Rather than getting sucked into time-consuming blog discussions [clearing my throat], he prioritizes his family, teaching, and ministry. If the critiques have any merit, he plans to clarify or modify his argument as needed in the future.Please acquaint me a single book that presents what you call "classical two kingdoms doctrine."I'm not sure what you mean by saying VD's view naturally leads to "a sectarian disaffection from the good of [the world]." I resonate with VD's description of our condition on the brink of eternity. He approvingly quotes Geerhardus Vos: "Paul looks upon the present Christian state as half-eschatological, because it is a state in the Spirit, the enjoyment of the first-fruits of the Spirit, the full possession of the Spirit constituting the life of heaven. The point may be made that, thus considered, the present so directly leads us up to, so thoroughly pre-fashions the eternal future as to leave no room for a third something that would separate the one from the other. No matter with what concrete elements or colors the conception of a millennial state may be filled out, to a mind thus nourished upon the first-fruits of eternal life it can, for the very reason it must fall short of eternal life, have neither significance nor attraction."I'll stick to VD's point that "believers themselves are the point of continuity between this creation and the new creation" because it's the direct teaching of Scripture. There may very well be aspects of this world that carry over into the next world but we can't say with any certainty which ones without speculating beyond Scripture. What starts to happen is Sue's wish-list gets exported, so that if she likes Bach's fugues, Amazon.com, Häagen-Dazs mint ice cream, or Gaudí's architecture, then surely those things must be taken up into the new creation.Regarding God's rule of the two kingdoms, last time I checked God and Christ were one and the same, right? Nowhere in VD's book LGTK does he say that "God is Lord of both church and creation, but that Christ is the Lord only of the church."I think VD correctly follows Scripture in distinguishing "between the work and life of the church and the work and life of individual believers (or groups of believers) as they make their way in this world. Believers and groups of believers do not constitute 'the church' in everything they do" (p. 117). The church, according to the NT, is primarily visible – the community of believers and their children "united particularly in worship and is instructed, governed, and served by ministers, elders, and deacons appointed for those tasks." Kuyper distinguishes between the church as "institution" and the church as "organism." In a footnote, VD says "I do not find biblical evidence that 'the church' announced and founded by Christ in Matthew 16 had to do with the organic church as that term is used in Kuyper's ecclesiology."By saying "sacred ministry is merely one vocation" of the church, you unwittingly degrade that vocation which is elevated over other vocations (including statecraft) insofar as the sacred ministry belongs to "the one and only earthly institution today that can claim the promises of the Abrahamic covenant of grace and can identify itself with the redemptive kingdom." The state belongs to the common kingdom, so its magistrates should perform their vocation to preserve (not redeem) that kingdom. I'm afraid your position reveals a low (not high) view of church.Shalom,Christopher

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  9. Peter Escalante

    Christopher,I think your distinction between online and, implicitly, the academy is a whole new faux-2k distinction in itself; but in any case, I notice you leave the point about Hart untouched. I do hope DVD takes Wedgeworth's and Littlejohn's critiques into account, because Wedgeworth really undoes DVD on the point of the Reformers' actual meaning; and Littlejohn has paid special attention to the quasi-Nestorianism of the project.For classical two kingdoms doctrine, for the beginner, you could try George Forrell's "Faith Active in Love", Brunner's "Justice and the Social Order", or any of WJT Kirby's works on Hooker. Donald Bloesch's "Essentials of Evangelical Theology" also covers the basic topics in an introductory way. Or you could read the Reformers themselves.What I meant by "sectarian disaffection" should have been obvious from my ecclesiological points made at the end of my last reply. When Christians are only Christians on Sunday, what gets cultivated, rather than a genuinely spiritual detachment from the world as fallen and transitory, is a distaste for providential reality as a field of God-glorifying work. This ends either in the Amish cloister, or to a kind of slack secularism 6 days a week punctuated by a pious Sunday. You only involve yourself with what you love; and without love for the world (which we ought to have if we are going to be perfect even as our Father), you won't do anything much.Regarding believers and continuity: you have simply dodged the point here. Are or aren't believers' works and memories part of the world to come? And if their works and memories are part of the world to come, then virtually, at least, much of this present creation is too. In any case, I think that neither DVD nor you are sensitive enough to what exactly can be meant by "world" and "destruction" in the Bible; it's curious that Westminster West feels no need to take the Bible literally regarding the destruction by water of the whole earth, but is willing to get literal about eschatological conflagrations, even when there is evidence that "kosmos" is used to mean system of power, not basic creation. Of course it is convenient for R2K exponents to confuse those senses of kosmos, because then Christians are off the hook for a lot of hard work; but that doesn't make it good exegesis, or even just exegesis. Regarding Christ and God: unless you are a Monophysite or a Lutheran, and I take it you are neither, surely the distinctions of Chalcedon mean something to you. You wouldn't want to say Christ's humanity is divine by nature, would you? You have simply dodged the question here; you have neither affirmed nor denied anything, you simply offered a lawyerish plea that a certain formulation nowhere appears in a given text. Now I understand that since the claim that Christ is not Lord of the common kingdom aspect of the cosmos will strike Christian ears badly, you might want to avoid openly making it; but I am asking you whether DVD makes it. Does or doesn't DVD teach that Christ is Lord only of the church (as he defines it), and not of the common kingdom? I'd appreciate a direct answer. Regarding the church: metaphors of altitude mean nothing to me, sorry. For instance, I could say you have a low view of the kingship of Christ, but I like to be clearer than that in my expression. Kuyper's "organic church" simply is the corpus christianum, and while it is in a way "most visible" in the synaxis (and it is in this regard that the sacred ministry can stand as a fitting synecdoche for the church; but only in this regard, and not qua "governors"), the doctrine you and DVD expound is actually a clericalism which has little in common with the teaching of the Reformers on the vocation of the ministry as simply one above others (see Pastor Wedgeworth's discussion of this in his critique of DVD at Credenda Agenda). You are begging the clericalist question here. But your clarity on this point is helpful. Given that many of us have said that for all of Hart's and DVD's booing of clericalism, their doctrine is a thoroughgoing authoritarian clericalism, merely one which has decided to exist in what Troeltsch called the "sect" form, detached from the world of everyday life. pax,P

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  10. I certainly appreciate Peter's recommendation of my work, but I think both Brad and I would have to in turn credit him with directing us to the traditional and classical sources. His compliments of us ought to be sent back by us to him. One point of correction and one point of clarification-1. Peter's last reference to my article discussing clericalism is incorrect. It is not in my critique of Van Drunen, but a later article in a hardcopy Credenda called "The Temporal Power is Baptized." It's available now. We've discussed the issue in considerable detail at my blog, of course, and Brad Littlejohn's own transformation can be tracked there as well: http://wedgewords.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/two-kingdoms-and-political-theology/2. DVD does make a sharp distinction between God's rule as creator and God's rule as redeemer, and it is in this last category that he uses the word "Christ" and "Christ's rule." On the first page of Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, he writes:

    In affirming the two kingdoms doctrine, they portrayed God as ruling all human institutions and activities, but as ruling them in two fundamentally different ways. According to this doctrine, God rules the church (the spiritual kingdom) as a redeemer in Jesus Christ and rules the state and all other institutions (the civil kingdom) as creator and sustainer, and thus these two kingdoms have significantly different ends, functions, and modes of operation.

    Also on page 2, "Through these two doctrines, therefore, the older Reformed writers rooted political and cultural life in God's work of creation and providence, not in his work of redemption and eschatological restoration through Jesus Christ." It's clear that "Christ" is a redemptive and eschatological title, and as such, it is inappropriate for DVD's construal of "creation and providence," as well as political and cultural work. This is a basic guiding thesis for DVD's work.

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  11. Brad Littlejohn

    Alas! Don't bow out, Christopher! I know that Peter can be a bit overwhelming at times…he caused me to lose a lot of sleep last fall. But he's not being hostile. I (and I think he) really do appreciate the opportunity for some conversation and clarification, which I hope can be mutually beneficial, rather than adversarial. So if you have time, do try to keep it up (this is against self-interest, as I'm not sure how on earth I'm going to find time for proper engagement, but I'll try). In any case, I only have a few minutes to jump in right now, and then I'll be out again for a bit–I always keep the Sabbath blog-free, lest I should lose my sanity and my soul. So just a couple quick points:First, Chris, did you read my posts last year on VanDrunen's much bigger book Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms? There I was ridiculously thorough, blogging about 40,000 words of reviews in quite close dialogue with the text most of the time. Having done that, I thought I could be pardoned for being a bit more concise and broad-brush in engaging LGTK. Obviously, I'd be happy to back up broader claims with particulars from there when necessary, and I'll take these questions you've raised into account as I try to finish up next week two or three more posts on LGTK. Of course, part of the problem is that I am saying that DVD is being *inconsistent*, therefore, you will certainly be able to find isolated things that he says that appear to contradict what I'm charging him with, but my response is that those isolated statements are undermined by other things he says. Of course, "inconsistency" can be a cop-out–it needs to be carefully demonstrated, I recognise. But you should be alive to the possibility that it is there in the R2K position. Second, I will agree with you that VanDrunen need feel no need to jump into blogdom to defend himself. Indeed, that might be a bit unseemly. But if he is aware of our critiques, I do hope he will take them into account in any further writings on the subject. Also, I would note that it is not just a matter of blogdom. I published a condensed critique of Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology this spring, and I believe similar criticisms have surfaced in reviews in other journals.Third, as Steven points out, you really have erred in your defence of DVD on the "Christ and God" business, where you say: "Regarding God's rule of the two kingdoms, last time I checked God and Christ were one and the same, right? Nowhere in VD's book LGTK does he say that "God is Lord of both church and creation, but that Christ is the Lord only of the church." I don't know about LGTK for sure–I'd have to double-check–but DVD says pretty much precisely this in NLTK, and this is, I think, seriously dangerous Christologically, as I've argued in several posts.Fourth, let me add to Peter's list of recommended texts on the classical two kingdoms doctrine this much shorter one: W.D.J. Cargill Thompson's seminal and earth-shattering article "The Two Kingdoms and the Two Regiments: Some Problems of Luther's Zwei-Reiche-Lehre." All the answers to all the problems are there, in super-condensed form. It should be required reading for anyone doing Reformation political theology. (And on that score, I must note that it does not appear in DVD's bibliography in NLTK.)Fifth, I was amused by this sentence of Steven's: "and Brad Littlejohn's own transformation can be tracked there as well." Heh, let's make it an internet tourist attraction–come see where Brad Littlejohn's paradigm was transformed, and he came over to our side! I'm afraid it's not quite that exciting. My transformation did not take place there, but in a grey Edinburgh study in the dead of winter while eagerly reading page after page of Hooker's Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. The dialogue with Peter and Steven may have planted the seeds, but it was Hooker who watered, and God who gave the growth. 😉

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  12. Brad, I'm bowing out because at this point I don't have much else to add. I'm not a theologian or biblical exegete. I'm just a layman who straddles the Reformed and Anglican traditions, and who found a major breakthrough in my thinking on the proper relationship of Christianity and culture in David VanDrunen's LGTK. As a close reader of texts, I'm only qualified to judge whether a reading seems faithful or not – and your remarks about VanDrunen didn't pass the smell test. Ultimately, the conversation you want is with him – not me. Also, I question whether these kind of blog discussions are really "mutually beneficial." They tend to reinforce preexisting views rather than bring clarity or change. Peace be to you.

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  13. Brad Littlejohn

    Fair enough, Chris. But this is why I have asked, and will ask again more bluntly–have you read VanDrunen's other, much longer book, Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms</I>, or my much longer reviews of it? I wouldn't stand by everything I said in those reviews, when I was just coming to grips with the subject, and particularly the one time I lost my temper, but I don't think it's fair to charge me with misreading a text if you haven't read my full engagement with VanDrunen–because I am (as VanDrunen himself invites us to do) reading LGTK in light of NLTK.Also, I might have agreed with you about blog discussions just reinforcing preexisting viewpoints, except that I have had many experiences to the contrary since starting this blog, preeminently the engagement with Steven and Peter last fall that Steven referred to above. But yes, the conversation does need to be with VanDrunen, and I'm actually planning to email him one of these days…Have a good Sabbath!

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  14. Peter Escalante

    Christopher,"A close reader of texts"? That's usually code for "Straussian" in my experience, but I could be wrong here. In any case, thanks for the conversation, and Brad is right- I was engaging for the sake of discovery, not opposition. I am grateful for your thoughts. I've looked at your website this afternoon, and I see you do a lot of good work. Keep it up; and if you would like to pick this particular conversation up again, either here or privately, please feel free to.pax,P

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  15. dgh

    Brad, I tried this yesterday but I don't see it so I'll try again.#5 is a caricature because the 2k side does not know what the new order will be. Do you? Can you read Peter on the earth getting toasted and say with confidence that Windows will be available in heaven?Also, you say you don't espouse triumphalism, but you do sound triumphalist here:"Unbelievers are not going to have the same insight into justice, into how husbands and wives should treat one another, how rulers should treat their subjects, how economic exchange should be carried out justly, as Christians. They will have a lot of insight, sure (this is natural law, common grace, etc.), but do we really want to say that salvation doesn't affect how you treat other people, and the Bible gives no instruction on how to treat other people? I think not. It is careless to lump together politics and music as "culture" and say that in all "cultural activities" believers have nothing distinctive to offer, and that the Bible doesn't give us instruction about cultural activities."I'll put The Wire and In Treatment up against any show a Christian could make, not to mention the insights that come about human existence or politics in those shows. And has the church ever produced anyone as brilliant as Cicero or Aristotle on justice and civil society? Are you really suggesting that sanctification is what accounts for Christians' ability to outperform David Simon or Aristotle?

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  16. Don Frank

    I'm really surprised by your last comment, Darryl. If I'm not mistaken, you are or at one time were on Ken Myer's Board for Mars Hill Audio. As you know, his lifetime pursuit has been to engage Christians and culture. I would put his audio journal up against NPR, or its equivalents, and without hesitation maintain that it is far more thoughtful and insightful about human existence or politics. And, are you seriously saying that Saints such as Augustine or Acquinas are no match for Aristotle? I suggest that it is the evangelical/revivalist ethos of the day, augmented by the theology of folks like you and VD that are suppressing the insights that Christians would otherwise express.

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  17. Yeah, I'm with Don. Have Christendom produced any peers of Aristotle and Cicero? You mean aside from Augustine, and Aquinas, and Calvin, and Luther, and Dante, and Hooker, and etc.? Or do you mean that Aristotle and Cicero have more to offer than Augustine? Or that Augustine's Christianity does not give him a deeper glimpse into the world than Aristotle has? That the City of God is good, and has a good discussion of politics, provided the whole "of God" part is excised?

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  18. Darryl,Speaking only for myself, I can agree with you that we have no reason to believe that, in this world, sanctification will consistently produce better arts and culture than the lack of sanctification. This is because arts and culture are shared through our created nature. However, it isn't quite the case that sanctification and religious principles will make no difference in arts and culture either. The Wire is a great example. It's one of my favorite works of any artistic form, but it usually ends on a down note. The bad guys don't really get caught. Some do. Some die. But some continue on. The good guys aren't really that good. Corruption, pain, and suffering endure. Surely the Christian faith has something different to say about all of that. Nature can identify the problems of life. It can cry out for help even. But it cannot supply the answers to those problems.

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  19. Don Frank

    Brad, I want to thank you for recommending Thompson's article which you described as seminal and earth-shattering "The Two Kingdoms and the Two Regiments: Some Problems of Luther's Zwei-Reiche-Lehre." I agree with you that "All the answers to all the problems are there, in super-condensed form. It should be required reading for anyone doing Reformation political theology. (And on that score, I must note that it does not appear in DVD's bibliography in NLTK.)"Since I do not subscribe to the Oxford Journal, I paid $25 to read this one article. It was worth every penny. It made me think of this temporal kingdom as analogical to my tropical fish aquarium and the comparatively limitless seas (minus the dangers of the higher food chain) as the eternal kingdom.

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  20. Brad Littlejohn

    Don, Glad to hear you enjoyed it! $25 though? Yikes! You shoulda asked me, and I'd have sent you the PDF–I don't think OUP would care for a 42-year-old article.Darryl,Thanks for replying. Sorry your original comment got swallowed by the demons of cyberspace…I never saw it either.Regarding #5, fair enough.  But if the R2Ks don't know what the new order will be, then how can they be so darn sure that N.T. Wright, Cornelius Plantinga, Brian McLaren, and everyone else is wrong about it?  If your contention is simply, "Heck, we don't know what the new creation is going to be like…all we know is that it's going to transcend our imaginations" then I, and N.T. Wright, and most anyone are going to be happy to agree with you.  But what DVD and yourself seem to be saying is, "Heck, we don't know anything about what the new creation is going to be like…the only thing we do know is that it's not going to have any continuity with the old."  And that's where I have to say, "Whoa, let's back up a minute and read our Bibles together, from Genesis to Revelation."  In any case, I am sure enough about the heavenliness of the new order that I can be confident that Windows will not be available in heaven–probably Mac OS 10.17 "Saber-Toothed Tiger."Now, to your next and larger point, can we pause for a minute and define "triumphalism"?  Now, when I google it, I get this definition: "the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others."  Now…pardon me if I'm missing something, but I'm not sure how to be a Christian and not make that claim–"For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet."  Although I seek to treat all human beings with charity and respect, of whatever religion, of course I must say that Christianity is superior to other religions, and that it should triumph over all others.  Of course, in the next breath I would say that that triumph is accomplished in the pattern of Christ's death–through self-sacrifice, service, and suffering, not by taking up the sceptre and beating people over the head with it.  But your objection, I suppose, is not of course that you don't consider Christianity a superior religion; only that you would define "religion" quite narrowly, so that it did not come into any kind of conflict with culture or social system, etc.So let me try to turn this question around on you to clarify things–do you really want to say that Christianity doesn't make a difference in how we live our lives?  Doesn't have ethical ramifications?  If so, it's not clear to me that we're talking about the same religion.  Now of course, again, in the next breath, I would emphasise simul justus et peccator–whatever transformation Christianity is supposed to have in the lives of believers is imperfect, tainted, and falls short of the goal to which we are called.  This means of course that in many times and places, Christians, and Christian institutions, may not look any better than their unbelieving equivalents.  But of course, many times, Christians really have been transformed by the renewing of their minds, and learned to do what was good and acceptable and perfect, and thereby "transformed" (oh, I know how you hate the word) the people and institutions around them.  Should a Christian know how to be a better husband than an unbeliever?  I should hope so!  Should he succeed in being a better husband?  Again, he should, though of course sometimes he will not.  And if, in this narrow ethical sphere, our inner submission to Christ re-orients our external lives, why should it stop doing so in a broader sphere–say, politics?  After all, politics is simply public ethics (well, it's more than just "public ethics," but it is certainly no less).I would certainly agree with Matt that Augustine, Aquinas, Hooker, and other Christian thinkers mark a definite advance on Aristotle or Cicero (not sure why you bring "The Wire" and "In Treatment" into the discussion, since those are aesthetic, not ethical products, which I had explicitly differentiated); but of course, it would also be worth asking to what extent Aristotle and Cicero's ideas bore practical fruit in their societies.  Cicero was writing as Rome was degenerating into an imperial tyranny from which it never recovered.  For all the foibles of Christendom, I would argue that Christian political thought has had an unmistakable influence for the good on the general development of its institutions and laws.  But, I think the whole idea of getting hung up on empirical and anecdotal evidence is rather unhelpful.  After all, as Leithart put it to you at ETS 2008, the Gospel works like leaven, slowly, invisibly, visible only after a long period of time in the final product, but not discernible in a particular moment or object.  Moreover, trying to argue it empirically would require the settling of an infinite number of historical disputes about an infinite number of details.  So let's ask the question theologically.  There are a dozen ways to approach it, but the simplest is: Does our Christian commitment carry with it ethical implications?  Are we supposed to live differently, treat others differently?  And if we are, will that not have an effect (slowly and invisibly at first, perhaps) on social structures at large?

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  21. Joseph Minich

    It seems to me that all this talk of specific things (flavors of ice-cream, windows, etc) misses the point. Surely the flood also wiped out certain cultural forms and artifacts, but it did not wipe out the cultural/historical continuity between world before and after the deluge. One does not even need to be this drastic. Who listens to "The Goggles" (1960's band) anymore? But that doesn't mean guitars, music and even beach-songs no longer exist. In scholastic speak, the point is a continuity of "whats" (at least a bunch of them), not "this's."

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  22. dgh

    Don Frank, if you read Ken Myers' book, All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes, you wouldn't be surprised by my comments or ties to Mars Hill (though I never served on the board). Ken's approach to Christ and culture then had Meredith Kline's fingerprints all over it.BTW, it seems to me that the continuity argument — Christ leads to better culture — is fundamentally fundamentalistic because it shows no capacity to handle something in between the holy and the profane — something that is common, good, and provisional. Steven, looks to me like The Wire is a huge confirmation of Ecclesiastes. But do you really think that Christ would fix Baltimore? If Jimmy, Omar, and Carcetti all came to Christ, what would change (except that they might be less interesting)? Brad, but we do know something about the new order and it all points toward discontinuity. No marriage, no procreation, no church, no sacraments. But when 2k critics of transformationalism bring this up, they are accused of being fundamentalists. As for Calvin, Hooker, et al as superior to Aristotle and Cicero, can you really assert that theologians are better political theorists than political theorists? This really sounds like special pleading, the kind with which I grew up in an fundamentalist church, where we all knew that Christians were really better than the pagans and so never read the pagans or appreciated their insights. But what about the harder question of something like The Wire. What Christian has produced something that amazing, or what author has let Christianity be the guide for such a production? Shakespeare? But I suspect that case would again rely on special pleading. In the end, I think we disagree about what difference Christianity makes in the Christian. I have been in church circles long enough to see that believers have no monopoly on being good spouses, being charitable and patient, being considerate or decent. So to use your logic, if Christianity doesn't make Christians morally superior, I suspect it won't help with art, medicine, or political theory. In fact, it seems to me that when Christians try to make Christianity change these cultural endeavors, they produce inferior artifacts, at least because they take something that is supernatural and try to fit it into something that is supposed to be simply human.

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  23. Joseph Minich

    DGH, Isn't there some equivocation here? Can't one make a case that Christianity (or just in case Peter Leithart it listening, Christendom) produces better culture without arguing that Christians (qua their individuality) produce better culture? It is one thing to argue that unbelievers can't be nice to each other and love their spouses. No one argues this. But it is quite another thing to argue that they would do it so well without a culture which has imbibed the particularities of Christian virtues. The issue is not one of cultural talent contests, but one of first principles and cultural foundations. The old liberal sentiment concerning the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man (the latter well-enshrined in John L's famous "Imagine") represents the secularization of moral impulses which (at least in a Western context) develop out of particularly Christian notions. The culture which shapes us to value them might not be particularly Christian, but it is (like you and me) at least the rebellious child of fundamentalists. =)Joseph

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  24. Don Frank

    DGH, True regarding the book, written over 20 years ago. Now, he makes a compelling argument via MHA for Christians to be actively engaged in "culture-making". Regarding the matter of the capacity of the "Christ leading to better culture" argument, I suggest that the provisional is good by virtue of God's creating it. Culture, on the other hand, is the result of man's interaction with God's creation.

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  25. Brad Littlejohn

    Oh dear. I had typed up a fairly considerable comment earlier, which I thought I had posted. And yet, it isn't here, and the text is nowhere to be found. *sigh* Well, I'll try to retype it later if possible.

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  26. Brad Littlejohn

    The gist of my comment (although I'm sure I said it much better before), was thus:Darryl, it seems like I am sitting here saying, "The Bible makes it clear that the Gospel is about transforming people, transforming lives–it is stuffed full with ethical content!" and your rebuttal consists of pointing repeatedly toward some TV show I've never heard of (sorry, I don't watch much TV), as your counter-example. Whatever virtues and insights The Wire possesses, I do not yet see how it poses any problem for the thesis I have enunciated, and frankly I'd be much more interested in hearing you explain why you do not think the Gospel is chock full of ethical content and does not summon us to live transformed lives that will have an impact on the people and institutions around us.Regarding your remarks about political theorists, I would simply say that, having studied Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, on the one hand, and Augustine, Aquinas, and Hooker on the other, I would have no hesitation at all in designating the latter a superior group of political thinkers–particularly the last two (since Augustine's political thought is more implicit than explicit). Their Christianity gives them an insight into the order of creation and society, and into the possibilities and pitfalls of human moral agency, that the pagan thinkers simply could never attain to. This is not special pleading, nor the result of not having read the pagan thinkers, nor of not appreciating their insights. Indeed, I would have to turn this around on you and wonder how much you have actually read Aquinas and Hooker if you are so quick to pooh-pooh them.

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  27. dgh

    Brad, I don't see that the gospel is about changing lives, or that the Bible is chock-full of moral imperatives. I see that everywhere else, sports-talk radio, New York Times, Fox News — plenty of stuff about how to live good lives. What the Bible offers is forgiveness. And I'm still waiting to see how sanctification changes believers from impatient, meddlesome, worriers into well-adjusted, happy, encouragers. It may happen. But the churches are filled with difficult people. So doesn't an understanding of sanctification have to take that into account? And also, doesn't some construction of Christ and culture have to factor in that the secular marriage counselor may have more to teach a struggling couple than a good pastor? I think it does and it has a lot to do with what the world reveals and the wisdom it bestows compared to all of that ethical instruction from the pages of Holy Writ.As for your Christian political theorists, I have read and do teach Aquinas and I'm not sure his views on monarchy going to be followed any time soon. Plus, I tend to think the American founders were pretty swell and smart to boot and for some reason they weren't finding a whole lot in the Christian theorists to come up with a pretty remarkable political order.

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  28. Brad Littlejohn

    Well Darryl, if you're really willing to come right out and say that the Gospel isn't about changing lives, then we really are at an impasse, I'm afraid. Of course you are right to say that the most important thing that it offers is forgiveness. But let's not forget the second half of what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery: "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and sin no more." Forgiveness comes with a summons to move from that forgiveness to a transformed life. Otherwise, as Paul said, "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" The Gospel must begin with a word of forgiveness, but it does not end there. As Oliver O'Donovan puts it, “The righteousness of Jesus Christ is not comfort without demand, any more than it is demand without comfort. It is never less than that demanding comfort by which God makes more of us than we thought it possible to become."This may seem like a small concession to wring from you (though it seems very difficult to procure)–that faith without works is, as James says, dead. But it's a concession with, as you recognise, important consequences. If the Gospel means that we're called to live differently than we otherwise would, then it means that we might have to run our businesses differently, order our schools differently, and even perhaps frame our laws differently. I admire your logical consistency that, recognising these implications flow from the simple premise that the Gospel includes the call to a renewed way of life, you deny the premise. But again, I really don't know how you do that reading from the same New Testament as I'm reading from.

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  29. dgh

    Brad, and here I thought you admired Nevin. Do you think he would ever talk about Christianity as changing lives (since that is the tag-line of most Christian radio shows)? But I thought the point of this discussion was in part about culture. I will concede that the Bible talks a lot about the believer's warfare with sin. This stress could be life-changing, though I'm not sure it would make a Christian look any different from a non-Christian. But culture still requires the God-given talents that come not from creation but redemption. So I'm not really sure what all this change is about (though again it sounds pretty triumphalist since it suggests that Christians will live markedly different lives from non-Christians and so more virtuous).

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  30. Joseph Minich

    DGH, I'm sympathetic with your comment that the particular deeds of believers and unbelievers don't necessarily "look different." Do unbelievers exercise extraordinary forgiveness? Sometimes they do! Is my wife's love for our children psychologically "different" from an unbelieving mother's love for her children? I doubt it. While many things could be said to analyze this, I think one is particularly pertinent. If we recognize that grace makes nature function the way it "ought" to function, then the effect of redemptive grace in someone's life is not going to look (practically!) a ton different from the "common grace" that unbelievers experience. I am referring to the "effect" on their behavior, of course (not to passive effects like forgiveness of sins, etc). With this, we can recall C.S. Lewis' (gasp!) statement that many believers seem morally inferior to unbelievers…but that believing Sam is unlikely to be less morally developed than his unbelieving self. More importantly, the fuel driving this change (the result of which might be indistinguishable from a noble pagan) is the power of the gospel and the activity of the Holy Spirit. I find it fascinating that the scripture says that we will be known by our love and that our lives are a "testimony." For a long time, I struggled with this for precisely the reasons you elucidate above. How is my love any different than the love of unbelievers whom I know? I think that the difference is that it is (in part) a result of the Holy Spirit and I would be much worse without His activity in my life. And most importantly, where believers are, the Holy Spirit is. I think the reason that we are known by our love is not necessarily because our love looks completely different, but because it is a reflection of the eschatological outpouring of the Spirit of Christ's resurrection in the present. Where Christian love is, the Holy Spirit is. And where the Holy Spirit is, (in the language of many bumper-stickers) stuff happens. Ok, that was PG. =) Think of Acts 16. Clearly, the jailer had heard the gospel (either through Paul's preaching or through the hymns that were being sung in the prison). But it was not until Paul committed an act of love to this Gentile that a barrier broke down and the jailer asked what he needed to be saved. Certainly the Word was necessary, but the hound of heaven made his final "bite" through a deed. Now certainly a nice unbeliever could do the same thing by natural moral character through God's common grace. But the Holy Spirit is where His temples (us!) are…and that makes all the difference.

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  31. R. Martin Snyder

    DGH said, "Brad, I don't see that the gospel is about changing lives, or that the Bible is chock-full of moral imperatives. I see that everywhere else, sports-talk radio, New York Times, Fox News — plenty of stuff about how to live good lives. What the Bible offers is forgiveness. "Well, that pretty much trashes the Reformed books I have been reading over the many years. I guess maybe I should just go somewhere else besides the gospel for a changed life. Wow, I am amazed! Dr. Hart, You might want to rethink and rephrase this in light of the things the scriptures say.

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