Archive for the ‘soldiers’ category

“Two Kingdoms at Once” Antinomians Think They can be Loyal to Christ, but Ignore Christ’s Law When they Kill for Their Other Kingdom

March 1, 2019

Even Protestants who don’t believe in the second coming of Jesus believe in “original sn” and that we all are sinners. Many Reformed writers about politics conclude that this makes even liberals like Niebuhr
Protestant, even though he did not believe in the new birth. Because even if you do happen to believe in the new birth, these Reformed wrtiers assume it very likely thaat you confuse new birth with some revival experience (not the means of grace found in their true church ). Who know for certain if you are born again? But one thing these Reformed writers do know for sure is hat sinners have to kill
sinners or no Christendom or even “the culture” will remain. WHAT WE DO NOW IS SECULAR. Therefore incomplete, therefore we do it as sinners, without distraction from any “perfectionism” about what Jesus
commanded.

Richard Mouw— Bavinck is one of the few people in the Neo-Calvinistic tradition who actually writes about the imitation of Christ. Christ fulfilled the law and we can’t fulfill the laaw by keeping the law, but to be likeJesus is to obey Christ’s commands.

Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture — “Culture is that total process of human activity and that total result of such activity, therefore we cannot escape culture any more readily that we can escape nature.”

Glen Stassen: “The farther Niebuhrs book goes, the less specific it gets about the ethics of the New Testament Jesus. ..Nowhere does the chapter on transformationism indicate Christ’s practices. The result is that readers may be convinced to call themselves transformationists without committing themselves to any specific ethics. Niebuhr is working with a liberal Protestant notion of Christ, a Christ who provides little more than the ideal of self-sacrificial love (expressed as an intention), along with the concept of theocentrism.

https://www.religion-online.org/article/a-contested-classic-critics-ask-whose-christ-which-culture/

Crawford Gribben— Rutherford’s Free Disputation, set in the context of its times, challenges any idea that the modern, politically passive Presbyterian main- stream can be identified either with the theology of the Westminster Confession. Rutherford’s commitment to shaping an entirely Presbyterian world, where public deviations from orthodox faith or practice should be met with the most severe of legal consequences, is a world away from the political complacency of modern evangelicalism and its self-justifying myth of pluralistic benevolence. Rutherford did believe in “liberty of conscience,” but, as the Confession argued, this was a liberty that provided no license to sin (WCF 20.3-4). The Westminnster Confession is not committed to the separation of church and state in any modern understanding of that idea. The doctrine of the “two kingdoms,” where church and state operated independently but with mutual reliance on the law of God, did not at all favor a religiously neutral state. Thus the Confession charged the state with the highest of responsibilities: “The Civil Magistrate. . . hath Authority, and it is his duty, to take order, that Unity and Peace be preserved in the Church, that the Truth of God be kept pure, and intire; that all Blasphemies and Heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in Worship and Discipline prevented, or reformed; and all the Ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed” (WCF 23.3). (Crawford Gribben, “Samuel Rutherford and Freedom of Conscience,” Westminster Theological Journal, 2009)

By all means, the 2k aantinomians instruct us, let us not use the Christian model when we are working together with non-Christians. Since non-Christians can’t do what we can do (we are more and more sanctified, and more and more united to Christ , so let us Christians agree to do what non-Christians also can do. M aybe we could use a Christian model, but we shouldn’t because if we did that, we woud not be able to participate in our duty to manage the world.. So some other model ( no religious test except willingness to kill for American democracy) is better, even if it doesn’t work either.

Instead of telling anybody what Jesus said about not killing, the “conservative worldview ” answer has always been to kill Servetus . Instead of calling evil evil and attempting to fight evil with good,
” conservatives” always accuse others of denying that evil is part of God’s plan. Their theodicy seems to have not yet considered the possibility that what God has ordained is evil. Yet this does not stop “conservatives” from trying to stop “ordained killing” with more “ordained skilling”. Whaat God has predestined is thus confused with God’s law or command.

Why do “conservatives” keep fighting against “social justice warriors”. Does the continued existence of “pacifits” cause them worries about their own collaboration with evil? Why can’t “conservatives” stop asking God so many questions about God’s having planned a history in which radicals fight against slavery and war?

p 223—The events in Wittenberg reveal what had become a pattern in Luther’s life. Time and again, though Luther might rail against them and insult them with surprising impudence, Luther in the end would always align himself with the authorities. The account first propagated by the Catholic side–that Karlstadt had engaged in subversive preaching, which has caused armed sedition—Luther now adopted as the official
narrative of what had happened in Wittenberg. It was a convenient fiction for all sides, because it minimized the extent to which the council, leading reformers, and others had been actively involved in introducing the Reformation. In fact, until January, Melanchthon had taken a far more radical line than Karlstad, but someone had to be blamed. It is hard to resist the conclusion that Karlstad was made a scapegoat

Mark 14: 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will demolish this sanctuary made by human hands, and in three days I will build another not made by hands.

People who try to change and reform the world are rebels against God’s predestination and should be killed by the authorities, not of course by the church but by the state after the revolutionaries are handed over to the state. And after the discontents are killed, this proves that the world can’t be changed but it doesn’t matter because there is no purgatory and the people killed go right away to different worlds.

Sure, those religious people always use very religious language when they go to war or bury their dead presidents, but separation of church and state only works one way, because it is the duty of good
Christians to defend the rights of Nero and Pilate to do whatever social injustice they want to do, legal or not legal. George Bush asked Billy Graham to come to Washington, D.C., but did not say why. “They put me in the Lincoln Room and all of a sudden there came a knock at the door. They turned on CNN and watched the beginning of the air war against Iraq. “We had prayer together,” Graham says. At dinner they prayed again. And then, Graham says, just before Bush spoke to the nation

http://reformedlibertarian.com/articles/society/in-defense-of-individual-liberty-a-rejoinder-to-dg-hart/

Theodore D. Bozeman, “Inductive and Deductive Polities”, Journal of American History, December 1977, p 722–, Old School contributions to social analysis may be viewed as a sustained attempt to defend the nherited social structure…The General Assembly found it necessary to lament the practice of those who ‘question and unsettle practice which have received the enlightened sanction of centuries’… The desire was to draw the ought out of the is…to make facts serve a normative purpose”

Does confessing with the WCF that you are becoming and more sanctified put you in the immanentize-the-eschaton school?

“The spirituality of the church” is the sneaky slogan in defense of killing for the status quo. Supposely those who support the military offense of the American empire are not “political” but those who talk about racism or political are “leaving the gospel for the sake of humanism”

Peter Leithart (p 75. Against Christianity) — The Reformers had a spiritualizing reading of redemptive history. We still see this today. Listen to Terry Johnson: ‘When Jesus removed the special status of
Jerusalem as the place where God was to be worshipped, he abolished all the material forms that constituted the typological OT system.’(157, in With Reverence and Awe, ed Hart and Muether).” Israel’s prophets inveighed against empty formalism, and some Protestants today conclude from this that the prophets condemned ritual as such.. They say that religion is a matter of private ideology, ideas and belief and that those who tie religion to public rituals tempt us to be hypocrites.

Carlos Eirie “As Luther saw it, his interpretation of the Word of God could never be wrong, and no step taken in the proclamation of that Word could ever be false. Luther saw himself as a prophet, and an agent of God’s wrath. Knowing how much he was shaped by St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, it is easy to imagine him identifying personally with this passage: “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

“Luther dismissed all ‘radicals’ in his midst by saying that they had ‘swallowed the Holy Spirit, feathers and all’ and that they were “so stupid that it makes one feel like vomiting.” To the pope he could
say, “You are the head of all the worst scoundrels on earth, a vicar of the devil, an enemy of God, an adversary of Christ, a destroyer of Christ’s churches; a teacher of lies, blasphemies, and idolatries; an
arch-thief and robber.” Belittling the high and mighty became one of his great skills. To the great humanist Erasmus he once said, “Perhaps you want me to die of unrelieved boredom while you keep on talking.”

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/10/martin-luther-the-wrath-of-god

Paul—I am a Citizen of the Occupation

March 3, 2016

Martin was the son of a Lutheran pastor and a submarine commander in World War I. By the time World War II came, Martin had become a pastor like his father. Martin spoke positively of his country—“When this great nation was formed, God gave it Christianity for its soul, and from these Christian roots it has grown.” Martin joined the army with his two sons.

Martin’s allegiance should have to be Christ’s kingdom, not to the earthly nation where he lived. Martin Niemoller was a German citizen. He volunteered to serve in the Nazi army in submission to his earthly nation.

I am often told that the apostle Paul “used his Roman citizenship” and that this means that I have a duty to vote in the “democracy” which is the American empire. Back during the situation of Romans 13, I am told, we Christians were not citizens of Rome, but now things have changed and we Christians are now ourselves the magistrate, and so now we only submit to ourselves. And then I am told that submission to the powers, in this new situation, means becoming part of the powers, so it’s my duty to vote or even to kill for the American empire.

What is being left out of this story is the fact that the Roman empire was an occupation force within Israel. Did only Roman citizens have a duty to support or kill for Rome? Or did non-Roman citizens also have a duty to obey the Roman empire?

When we are reminded that “Paul used his citizenship”, should we conclude that only Paul needed to submit to Roman occupation? More importantly, is it true that those with an extra ‘citizenship” are in a better position to live as Christians in the world?

pastor Martin Luther–“When Christians went to war, they struck right and left and killed, and there was no difference between Christians and the heathen. But they did nothing contrary to Matthew 5;38-39 because they did it not as Christians. but as obedient subjects, under obligation to a secular authority.”
http://ollc.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Secular-Authority-To-What-Extent-It-Should-Be-Obeyed.pdf

I Corinthians 7—I don’t need to be out of jail, but also I don’t need to be in jail, therefore there is nothing I could gain if Roman citizens had the vote about occupying Israel.

Paul used his Roman citizenship twice:
Acts 16:37 The first time was after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. He used it to no apparent benefit to himself. He announced his citizenship after his beating and humiliation. The effect was to put the public authorities on the spot. Paul got a severe beating-and then an apology. He didn’t get, or try to get, an audience with the powers. They wanted him to leave town, and he did.

Acts 22:25-27.The second time Paul used his Roman citizenship was after the Jews had tried to kill him, but BEFORE he was flogged. The consequences of this dragged on for the rest of Paul’s life. It did not keep Paul from being killed. Most likely Paul was never ‘free’ again, spending the rest of his time in the Roman legal system/under arrest..

Paul did not use his Roman citizenship as a means to spread the gospel, because there was nothing about his being Roman that could add to the gospel or create an “apologetic” for the gospel. For Paul the crucial issue was being in Christ, not the various options on how one can be in the world. Being Roman didn’t make being in Christ more significant or effective. Being Roman didn’t create opportunities for the gospel. God’s effectual calling does not depend on what liberal political theory likes to call “religious liberty”.

Acts 21—You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law. 21 But they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, by telling them not to circumcise their children or to walk in our customs. 22 So what is to be done? They will certainly hear that you’ve come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have obligated themselves with a vow. 24 Take these men, purify yourself along with them, and pay for them to get their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that what they were told about you amounts to nothing, but that you yourself are also careful about observing the law. 25 With regard to the Gentiles who have believed, we have written a letter containing our decision that they should keep themselves from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from what is strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
26 Then the next day, Paul took the men, having purified himself along with them, and entered the temple, announcing the completion of the purification days when the offering for each of them would be made. 27 As the seven days were about to end, the Jews from Asia saw him in the temple complex, stirred up the whole crowd, and seized him, 28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this place. What’s more, he also brought Greeks into the temple and has profaned this holy place.”

Acts 26: 29 “I wish before God,” replied Paul, “that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am—except for these chains.” 30 So the king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them got up, 31 and when they had left they talked with each other and said, “This man is doing nothing that deserves death or chains.” 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Paul could have simply gone to Rome. God had been able to direct Paul before without having to resort to such convoluted arrangements. Paul had enough popular appeal that people, influential people, wanted to see and hear him. But Paul didn’t go to Rome: he went to Jerusalem. The prophetic word his brothers and sisters received before he went there led them to strongly urge him not to go. He rejected their counsel. Their wisdom was driven by their concern for Paul and was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Even if one has a “word from God”, that word does not have self evident meaning— it must be evaluated.

The chief men of the church in Jerusalem were concerned about appearances, so they had Paul do something which was unnecessary in an attempt to improve his standing with the Jews. They had him take four men through the rite of purification with him, a practice the Jews might appreciate but which had no value for the maturing of the church in Jerusalem. In fact, it seems more like accommodation to the religious culture than anything. This is the event that caused the problem; not Paul or the men being there, but the assumption by some Jews that Paul had gentiles in the temple. This might be a good example of what results when we are concerned with appearances. Paul accepts the counsel of those in Jerusalem he is not particularly close to, of whose high standing he professes to have no particular regard, and who are motivated by their concern for appearances.

http://www.englewoodcc.com/NLArchive/504JA.html

Martin Luther —I will not oppose a ruler who, EVEN THOUGH HE DOES NOT TOLERATE THE GOSPEL, will smite and punish these peasants without offering to submit the case to judgement. For he is within his rights, since the peasants are not contending any longer for the Gospel but have become faithless, perjured, disobedient, rebellious murderers, robbers, and blasphemers, whom even heathen rulers have the right and power to punish….

Luther—If the ruler can punish and does not, then he is guilty of all the murder and all the evil which these fellows commit, because, by willful neglect of the divine command, the ruler permits them to practice their wickedness, though he can prevent it, and is in duty bound to do so. Here, then, there is no place for patience or mercy. It is the time of the sword, not the day of grace. Therefore will I punish and smite as long as my heart bears. Thou wilt judge and make things right.’ Thus it may be that one who is killed fighting on the ruler’s side may be a true martyr in the eyes of God…On the other hand, one who perishes on the peasants’ side is an eternal brand of hell…

The Magisterial Reformers insisted that the problem was with “anabaptists” sneering at the benefits the “natural order” which has been preserved for us by those whose vocation for God is to kill. The problem is not German or Genevan lesser magistrates at war against emperor and pope or peasants. Though the earth in the age to come will be the Lord’s, to be practical in this present age the earth must be kept from the parasites and preserved for the invisible hand of providence. And this means we can vote (and be glad that other people don’t vote, democracy does not depend on majority consent). Only idealists cannot compromise between two evils, and we can accuse such people as those who immanentize the eschaton…

So when we fear the Muslim Turks, we do not need to tempt God by only relying on the second coming of Christ, because we have our American citizenship. And we can either make alliances with them or bomb them. And in the same manner as Paul was saved from death by the hands of the Romans (because he was a hybrid, both Roman and Christian) , we too will not tempt God by trusting God to save us, even though two swords may not be enough,

Hitler (after the failure of the assassination plot)—“it was providence that spared me. This proves that I am on the right track. I feel that this is the confirmation of all my work.” But all things happen because God predestined them to happen not because God approves these things. God works all things for the good of the elect does not mean that all things are good. Job’s friends— all suffering is evidence that God does not like you?But Psalm 7318 speaks of the prosperity of the non-elect. “Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin.”

George Eliot describing a preacher loyal to the status quo or tradition “Let him be ardent and imaginative on the coming advent of Christ, but cold and cautious toward every other infringement of the status quo. Let him be hard and literal in his interpretation only when he wants to hurl texts at the heads of adversaries, but when the letter of the Scriptures presses too closely on hi genteel Christianity, let him use his spiritualizing alembic and disperse the letter of the Scripture into impalpable ether. ” http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/42612/

We don’t Need Two Kingdoms, We Need Law and Gospel

February 4, 2016

Christians should not try to participate in two kingdoms at once. Christians only have one master, and they are already citizens of the kingdom which comes to earth from heaven. We don’t need two different kingdoms or two different laws. . We need law and gospel.

The law-gospel antithesis is about the difference between God’s commands and God’s promises. Legalists turn the promises into the commands, and antinomians lower or eliminate the commands and penalties and threats.

But there are many who would rather be “unencumbered” by the Sermon on the Mount. They do not deny the Sermon on the Mount as “first use of the law” (to create the despair that drives us to the gospel) but they make every effort to teach us how the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to Christians “just as humans” or in any case in which we would be required to love the enemies of our families.

but don’t I know that Genesis 9 is not about grace or faith or the gospel, but only about all humans? Don’t I know that “natural law” is for everybody, including Christian, and that it exempts Christians from the Sermon on the Mount?

Define “natural”—-not “arbitrary”? Not given by a personal Sovereign? Is “natural” evolving?

Define “arbitrary—not “natural”? Positive and for a church, but creatures can “live and prosper” without it?

Define “natural”—-universal and objective? For all times and in all places?

Is “natural” a way to say “sin” without saying “idolatry”? Ethics without religion?

David VanDrunen—Crucial for understanding Matthew 5:38–42 is Jesus’ programmatic statement in 5:17 that introduces his subsequent commands: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” A common reading of this verse in my own Reformed tradition is that Jesus is about to clarify the Mosaic law in response to Pharisaical corruption of Moses. While this reading has the virtue of guarding against denigration of the Mosaic law, it is not an adequate interpretation of Jesus’ words. A general difficulty with this reading is that it fails to reckon with the radical, eschatological newness of the coming of Jesus and his kingdom so emphasized in the preceding texts in Matthew considered above. Matthew 5:17 itself reinforces this sense of eschatological newness. The first use of the key Synoptic phrase, “I have come,” for example, hints at Jesus’ heavenly origin (and hence his authority to say what he is saying) and indicates that Jesus is about to reveal a central purpose of his ministry.10 In addition, Jesus’ denial that he has come to abolish the law or the prophets indirectly offers further evidence of the spectacular newness of the kingdom of heaven: apparently what has transpired thus far in Matthew’s story has given some people the impression that Jesus has come to abolish something in the OT.

More concretely, the way in which Jesus’ commands unfold in 5:21–48 is ultimately incompatible with reading them as clarification of the Mosaic law over against corrupt Jewish interpretation. For one thing, all six of Jesus’ “You have heard” statements either quote or paraphrase the actual teaching of the Mosaic law, not contemporary Jewish interpretation of it.11 Jesus presents his exhortations in comparison with those of the Mosaic law itself. Second, however much the first two antitheses are amenable to the view that Jesus is purifying the interpretation of the law, the last four antitheses cannot reasonably bear such a reading. Jesus does show the inward demands of the prohibition of murder and adultery in the first two antitheses, but whereas the Mosaic law prescribed procedures for divorce, oath-taking, just retaliation, and destruction of enemies, Jesus proscribes these very actions. To say, for example, that what Moses really intended by writing “keep your oaths” was that the Israelites should not swear at all strains the imagination. Jesus’ statement about divorce in 5:31–32, furthermore, cannot be an elaboration of the OT law since it presumes that the death penalty is not applied against adulterers.

A better reading of 5:17 is that Jesus fulfills the law and the prophets by accomplishing all of the things that the OT prophesied. To this point in his gospel Matthew has already labored to show that Jesus’ actions constitute a turning of the ages and bring to pass what the OT foretold and anticipated (1:22–23; 2:5–6, 15, 17, 23; 3:3, 15; 4:4, 6–7, 10, 14–16), and this theme continues in all sorts of ways subsequent to the Sermon on the Mount.12 Jesus’ words in 5:18 confirm an historical and eschatological interpretation of “fulfill” in 5:17 by saying “until heaven and earth disappear” and “until everything is accomplished” (or “comes to pass”). Jesus therefore indicates in 5:17 that he is neither abolishing the Hebrew Scriptures nor simply purifying them from corrupt interpretation. By his deeds and here also by his words, Jesus brings the law and the prophets to historical and eschatological fulfillment.

Thus, as the kingdom of heaven is something strikingly new, so the Sermon on the Mount, the ethic of this kingdom, proclaims a way of life that is eschatologically new. It is different from the way of life under Moses, though in a manner that accomplishes rather than thwarts God’s larger purposes in giving the law and the prophets. How, exactly, does this shape our interpretation of Jesus’ handling of the lex talionis in 5:38–42?

First, we must consider how Jesus’ commands in 5:38–42 are different from the lex talionis as imposed in the Mosaic law. The “eye for an eye” formula appears three times in the Mosaic law and is evidently a cornerstone of its jurisprudence. It was likely not intended to be applied in an overtly literal way, but represented a key legal principle: justice was to be strict, proportionate, and retributive.14 As such it encapsulated, on a personal level, the central Mosaic theme that Israel would be justly rewarded in the land if they faithfully obeyed God’s law and would be justly (severely) punished if they disobeyed.15 However exactly one interprets Jesus’ command not to resist the evil-doer (5:39–42)—to which I return below—Jesus is certainly not instructing his disciples in the most effective way to impose strict retributive justice against those who harm them. Jesus is legislating a principle different from the principle of proportionate justice.

In fact, matters of justice and OT judicial life are raised by all six of the Mosaic commands that Jesus mentions in Matt 5:21–48. The one who murders will be liable to judgment (5:21). A legal bill or certificate is required for divorce (5:31). A central purpose of OT oaths was to secure truth-telling in court (5:33; see Exod 22:11; Num 5:19–21). And the command to hate one’s enemy—through cherem warfare against the Gentile occupants of the Holy Land—was the ultimate expression of God’s retributive justice against the abomination of sin. Jesus even seems to ratchet up the forensic tension as Matt 5 moves along. Oaths ensured that trustworthy evidence would be presented to the court; the lex talionis provided a basic standard of justice for rendering the verdict; and cheremwarfare was the implementation of strict, merciless justice on a macro level.

Jesus’ commands stand in sharp contrast. His kingdom is marked by the absence of judgment.16 Its citizens’ way of life is so pure that there is no possible ground for anyone to bring judgment against them, and when others are in conflict with them they seekreconciliation with the wrongdoers, not judgment against them. The Mosaic law occasionally touched upon internal matters of the heart, but its primary focus was on external matters. Its purpose was to establish and regulate a theocracy, a geopolitical entity in which justice was maintained among its inhabitants. But this radically new kingdom that Jesus has announced is of a very different nature. It does not break into history as a theocratic, geopolitical realm and thus focus on external conduct and seek the strict enforcement of justice.

The disciples of Jesus certainly do not murder or commit adultery, but they also shun sinful anger and lustful glances, matters which are beyond the jurisdiction of any civil justice system. Instead of seeking legal termination of troublesome marriages, they seek to maintain marital relationships. Instead of going to court to establish truth by oath, they tell the truth at all times. Instead of implementing just retaliation against the tortfeasor, they themselves bear the proportionate payback. Instead of wiping out the foreigner from the holy land, their love extends indiscriminately. The Mosaic law, it should be noted, required theocratic Israel to pursue precise and proportionate justice in external matters through oath-taking, the lex talionis, and cherem warfare. These commands were bound up with the nature and purpose of the old covenant community. But Jesus announces that in his kingdom there is perfect and holistic righteousness and no pursuit of precise and proportionate justice in external matters through these various means. Jesus’ kingdom is of a radically new and different nature and these things have no place within it.

My interpretation of 5:17, however, indicates that Jesus’ commands in 5:38–42 not only are different from the Mosaic lex talionis but also reflect the eschatological fulfillment (rather than simple abrogation) of it. How is this the case? It is significant to note that Jesus does not tell his disciples to ignore and walk away from the person who harms them, but to take a second slap, to give up a second garment, to go a second mile. The lex talionis prescribes a second action that is proportionate to the first action: the person who causes the injury is to receive the same injury in return. Jesus’ words in 5:38–42 preserve the twofold action and the proportionality of the lex talionis. The difference is that he exhorts his disciples to bear the second, retaliatory action themselves.17 A proportionate penalty is still borne, but the wronged party rather than the wrongdoer endures it. This reflects the larger Matthean theme that Jesus’ disciples must imitate Jesus in his suffering at the hands of sinners.

Jesus has already told them that suffering is their lot in the present age (5:10–12), and later he explains that as he will go to the cross so also they must bear the cross (16:24–26). Matthew’s gospel alludes to, though does not explain in detail, the substitutionary atonement, Jesus’ dying on behalf of his people to secure the forgiveness of their sins (see 20:28; 26:28). Human beings, as it were, slapped God in the face through their sin, and God responded with the lex talionis—not by justly slapping them back but by bearing that retaliatory slap himself through Jesus. God’s saving action in Jesus satisfies retributive talionic justice once and for all. By bearing in their own bodies the just penalty due to wrongdoers in order to bring healing and reconciliation, Jesus’ disciples are privileged to show forth God’s gracious action toward them in Christ. In this way Jesus’ words in Matt 5 reflect not the abolition but the fulfillment of the lex talionis. The way of life of Jesus’ kingdom is, quite literally, marked by refusal to seek just retribution against the wrong-doer and willingly suffering for the sake of Christ.

http://themelios.thegospelcoalition.org/article/bearing-sword-in-the-state-turning-cheek-in-the-church-a-reformed-two-kingd

No Thanks, You were not Serving Jesus, Nor was Your Service for Me

November 10, 2013

Why would it matter if the President is a “real” Christian? Since the law says there’s to be no religious test for office, why is it important for us strangers to be deciding about a politician’s religion? Is the USA “exceptional” because its leaders have been or were “Christians”?

If you “support the troops”, does this mean that you advocate that people become soldiers? Does it mean that you think that Christians should kill other people for Christ and His glory? Does it mean that you support the civil liberty to become soldiers, if that’s what people decide, even though you don’t agree with the decision? Does it mean that you think it’s one way for poor people to go, but not the best for your children?

Would you fault the “moral compromise” of the Lord Jesus for His submission to the occupying empire and its allies on the Sanhedrin? Is Christ’s rejection of Peter’s sword an endorsement of the evil done by the Romans, or do you think that the Roman administration of Roman laws was basically good for business and civilization?

Acts 2:23 Jesus…crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

We should never confuse what’s “necessary” (because it’s predestined by God) with what is good or practical or legitimate. I can agree that nation-states do great evil, without in any way seeing any duty or mandate or vocation for us to attempt to replace or reform these regimes. “Submit” does NOT mean “do the evil they command”. But neither does “submit” mean “I accept suffering from them because I think they are good and legitimate”. By what standard would we make this judgment? By the standard of the Mosaic covenant? By the command of the Noahic covenant that blood that takes must be taken as a sacrifice to God? Which God? By the standard of what your “natural instincts” tell you to do?

Patience, even such that we wait for the Lord Jesus to come and judge, is not always necessarily cowardice, and most definitely it’s not approval of that which is evil. To do nothing when nothing wise can be done is to avoid the evils which come when we attempt to overcome evil with evil.

We cannot dismiss Christ’s command to love our enemies with the idea–”if it were only me suffering that’s one thing, but it’s not only me suffering, so therefore I am one of the gods who must do something about it.”

I Peter 2:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

mark: God’s foreordination is not God’s approval. God’s purpose in Christ involves His second advent, and apocalypse will uncover the evils done in the name of the good.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

mark: What some speak of as the “spirituality of the church”, I think of as the “politics of the church”. The words “ecclesia” and “politics” do not belong only to those willing to do violence. God’s purpose in Christ is manifest when Christians obey Christ’s commands together.

There is something very “religious” about “supporting the troops” of an evil empire, and there is something very “political” about knowing that your church is more important than your family or your race or your national boundaries.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the
day of visitation.

mark: Unless we adopt a situation ethic (now we have the illusion of democracy!), since when do aliens tell the nation in which they live how to conduct their affairs??? Agreed, you surely are not going to listen to what Jesus Christ said, but we like our plan B better than your plan B???

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the
ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[ of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

mark: On this matter of unjust suffering, the idea is not to restrict the suffering to something “private” or something which is “religious persecution”. Rather, the imperative depends on the example of what the Lord Jesus Himself did in a situation where his people were threatened by an evil occupying power. The text does not say to move to Jerusalem and be a carpenter and not have a wife. But the text does say that Christ is our pattern in suffering, also that we do this by “trusting Him who judges justly”.

19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, live to righteousness.

But Didn’t Daniel Work for the Government?

June 17, 2012

We could be talking about Joseph and Daniel instead of about Hitler, George Washington, and Ronald Reagan. I suggest that we live now in the new covenant version of exile, in analogy to the exiles of Joseph and Daniel.  This means that, for us, exile is not a curse but our vocation. Diaspora is not a punishment but an opportunity to sing the songs of Zion in strange lands.

This means we should not appeal to the paradigm of Exodus 32 in which people ordain themselves as priests to God by means of slaying their ethnic brothers. Nor should we argue for the republished “covenant of works aspects of the Mosaic economy” to serve as the standard for those who serve as resident aliens in the regimes of foreigners.
What difference, if any, is there between the exile of us now and the exiles of the Old Testament? Does the law of Christ (the Sermon on the Mount) make anything different today? Does there continue to be a law-ordeal aspect to our getting things done in the civil kingdoms in which live as exiles today?
I would welcome an answer to any and all such questions, but my basic question now is simple. Do you think that Joseph and Daniel acted as agents of the sword for their magistrates? Why would foreign magistrates trust aliens with the sword? Do you think that Joseph and Daniel had acquired dual citizenships, not only in Israel (that was and is to come) but also as Egyptian and Assyrian citizens ?
Jeremiah 29 reads: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream.” I take it that Jeremiah was referring to the theonomists of his own time.
II Kings 5:14 reads  So Naaman went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. 17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”
On this manner of singing the songs of Zion in strange lands, I would recommend one Mennonite book: For the Nations, by John Howard Yoder (Eerdmans), expecially the chapter on diaspora, “See How they Go with Their Faces”.  And one book by a Quaker, A Biblical Theology of Exile, by Daniel Smith-Christopher( Fortress).  And by the premill evangelical Robert H Gundry, Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian (Eerdmans).

Federal visionists (theonomists)  like Leithart are a lot more Constantinian than many Roman Catholics today even when they agree on “sacrament” making the church (or churches)  It’s interesting to me that folks like Leithart and Hauerwas  have made a case for going back to Rome, without ever doing it. They  claim to be “too catholic to be catholic”.

These same folks who want to follow the OT (“the” covenant) model for worship are not agreed about what is legitimate for the people of God when they operate in a second kingdom.

Is Supporting the Troops Like Supporting Homosexuality?

February 8, 2012

Today I got interested in a series of videos telling us seven reasons why President Obama is not a Christian. We don’t need seven reasons. NONE of us is born a Christian. ALL of us are born lost, guilty, dead in sins. ALL of us will stay that way unless God causes us to hear, understand, and believe the gospel. Period.

The third reason given by the videos was that “Obama supports homosexuality” I am curious about this idea of “supporting” something. 1. Are there tears for Obama when folks talk about him not being a Christian? 2. What does it mean that he “supports it”? Does this mean that Obama advocates that people begin to practice homosexuality? Does it mean that he supports the civil liberty to become homosexuals, if that’s what people decide, even though he doesn’t agree with the decision?

3. Will there also be a series explaining why every Republican candidate is not a Christian? 4. Will there be a series explaining why every Roman Catholic is not a Christian? 5. Will there be a series explaining why every Mormon is not a Christian? 6. Will there be a series explaining why no USA president has ever been a Christian? Which of them knew the gospel of God’s sovereign free grace in which His righteousness is revealed?

More importantly, will somebody be explaining why it matters if the President is a “real” Christian? Since the law says there’s to be no religious test for office, why is it important for us strangers and sojourners to be deciding about a politician’s religion? 8. Is the USA “exceptional” because its leaders have been or were “Christians”?

I don’t propose to answer all these questions in this essay. But I want to ask some more. If you “support the troops”, does this mean that you advocate that people become soldiers? Does it mean that you
think that Christians should become soldiers and kill for Christ and His glory? Does it mean that you support the civil liberty to become soldiers, if that’s what people decide, even though you don’t agree with the decision? Does it mean that you think it’s one way for poor people to go, but not the best for your children?

Would you fault the “moral compromise” of the Lord Jesus for His submission to the occupying empire and its allies on the Sanhedrin? Is Christ’s rejection of Peter’s sword an endorsement of the gross and blatant evil done by the Romans, or do you think that the Roman administration of Roman laws was basically good for business and civilization?

Acts 2:23 “this Jesus, handed over according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

We should never confuse what’s “necessary” (because it’s predestined by God) with what is good or practical or legitimate. I can agree that nation-states do great evil, without in any way seeing any duty or mandate or vocation for us to attempt to fix these regimes or replace them. “Submit” does NOT mean “do the evil they command”. But neither does “submit” mean ” I accept suffering from them because I think they are good and legitimate”. By what standard would we make this judgment? By the standard of the Mosaic covenant? By the command of the Noahic covenant that blood that takes must be taken as a sacrifice to God? Which God? By the standard of what your “natural instincts” tell you to do?

Patience, even such that we wait for the Lord Jesus to come and judge, is not necessarily cowardice, and most definitely not approval of that which is evil. To do nothing when nothing wise can be done is to avoid the evils which come when we attempt to overcome evil with evil. We cannot dismiss the command with the idea–”if it were only me suffering that’s one thing, but it’s not only me suffering, so therefore I am one of the gods who must do something about it.”

I Peter 2:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

mark: God’s foreordination is not God’s approval. God’s purpose in Christ involves His second advent, and apocalypse will uncover the evils done in the name of the good.

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

mark: What some speak of as the “spirituality of the church”, I think of as the “politics of the church”. The words “ecclesia” and “politics” do not belong only to those willing to do violence. God’s
purpose in Christ is manifest when ecclesia happens and ecclesia will happen. There is something very “religious” about “supporting the troops” of an evil empire, and there is something very “political” about knowing that church is more important than family or race or national boundaries.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the
day of visitation.

mark: Unless we adopt a situation ethic (now we have the spectacle of democracy!), since when do aliens tell the nation in which they live how to conduct their affairs??? Agreed, you surely are not going to listen to what Jesus Christ said, but we like our plan B better than your plan B???

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the
ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants[ of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the
emperor.18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

mark: On this matter of unjust suffering, the idea is not to restrict the suffering to something “private” or something which is “religious persecution”. Rather, the imperative depends on the indicative of what the Lord Jesus Himself did in a situation where his people were threatened by an evil occupying power. The text does not say to move to Jerusalem and be a carpenter and not have a wife. But the text does say that Christ is our example in suffering, also that we do this by “trusting Him who judges justly”.

19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sin, live to righteousness.

Is Sunday the Day they put up the Carl McIntire Monument in DC?

August 24, 2011

Or did the earthquake and hurricane

shake the foundations?

when we deny that each atom of the bread
contains God completely,
the old order clergy explain that it makes no difference
what sectarians think is happening

because history tells us, the tradition,
the story that works
(not for the sectarians ,we kill them)
that Christ is fully present in the bread

the chaplains defend the narrative
thank god for constantine
and all those who kill to make it possible for us to worship
in peace

the heroes,
who stand between us
and the chaos of apocalypse and liberalism
thankful we do not have to be shaken just now

the soldiers are cheap, their lives also,
they kill for us so that we don’t have to
the clergy cost more but they comfort us

the priests are paid to tell us about the one church
for all times and all places,.
to tell us that sectarians are atheists posing as protestants

Leithart (page 333): “The Creator made man to participate in and prosecute His wars.” Of course Leithart is not only describing what God has predestined; his concern is ethics.

Either Leithart is right or we pacifists are right. According to Leithart, Adam’s problem was that he was a pacifist in regard to Satan. If Leithart is right, as we get to  “newer administrations of the one covenant”, (as the ideology likes to say it),  the more responsibility all of us have to kill for the sake of “the covenant”.

And thus Leithart contextualizes Jesus, so that His dying at the cross (rather than killing) is particular, specific, and unique, and not an example for anybody.

I remember the old days when theonomists mocked Ron Sider for his leading questions: is God a Marxist? Ron never said God was, but he kinda implied it. And so today, the theonomists ask the leading question: is turning the other cheek a rebuke of self defense or the defense of others?

How could we possibly think that what Jesus said in the Sermon was for all Christians in all places and for all times? We know that church history is not an empty parenthesis, and we know that Augustine was a Christian, and thus we know that Augustine’s version of “Just War” was also the politics of Jesus.