CENTER: On self?

Unfortunately, the Liberal worldview is just one manifestation of our not being ‘grown-up’ about things (i.e., family, friends, foes, work, play, rest, etc.).  In other words, what’s wrong with Liberalism is wrong with all of us!  We need to grow-up and be comfortable doing so, especially when those around us act/think like children.

Let’s remember that all our efforts are in vain, unless Christ builds himself (likeness) in us, otherwise we’ll be found pretending to be grown-up.

Kingdom: One or Two? (part 1)

Here is an interesting conversation over at Office Hours (WSC) on Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms.  Though I am not a fan of some of the Reformed (covenantal) distinctives presented here (e.g. Sabbath-keeping; strict Regulative Principle of Worship; etc) this conversation does help to sort out some of the distinctives of what I would consider a sound understanding of a New Covenant perspective on the Two Kingdoms.

Back on March 14, 2010, The White Horse Inn also hosted VanDrunen to speak about what natural law is and how it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ.

VanDrunen seeks to answer questions like:

What is natural law?

Is it consistent with Reformed theology?

How about the Two Kingdoms approach to the relationship between Christianity and culture?

Here are some of my notes from the March 14th White Horse Inn program:

  • To start out, VanDrunen takes time to explain the difference between the two distinct notions of 1) TWO CITIES and 2) TWO KINGDOMS
    • TWO CITIES
      • Regarding the TWO CITIES, we are talking about the CITY OF GOD and the CITY OF MAN
        • An individual is either a citizen of one or the other (not both!).
        • There is NO OVERLAP of the two cities.
  • TWO KINGDOMS
    • Kingdom of God and Kingdom of Man
      • KINGDOM OF GOD
        • Heavenly
        • Eternal
        • Holy Spirit-ruled in the light of the Gospel
        • Christ, Cult-centered
        • Sacred
      • KINGDOM OF MAN
        • Earthly
        • Temporal
        • Natural Law-ruled in light of nature
        • Culture-centered
        • Secular
    • An individual CHRISTIAN has a dual-citizenship, being related to both Kingdoms
      • There is an OVERLAP of these two kingdoms, within the people who are members of both, Christians.
      • The ‘unbeliever’ is not a member of the Kingdom of God, and is therefore a member of only the temporal Kingdom of Man.
    • All ‘unbelievers’ ultimately have but a ONE KINGDOM perspective, and so too many who are believers who adhere to non-biblical notions that blur the line of distinction between two real, biblically understood kingdoms (i.e., Christ and Caesar).
      • FUNDAMENTALISM (of whatever strip) is always a predominantly single kingdom perspective
      • NEO-CALVINISM (Theonomy; Dutch Transformationalism; etc) is typically a single kingdom perspective
      • BROAD-EVANGELICALISM is typically a single kingdom perspective
      • HIGHER-LIFE thinking runs along a single kingdom perspective
      • CHARISMATIC thinking runs along a single kingdom perspective
      • PIETISM/MORALISM also find their bearing to be more of a single kingdom perspective, making everything to be either holy or wicked, missing the biblical distinction between common, holy, and wicked

Stay tuned.  More to come on Natural Law and Religious Liberty!

AUDIO: Christ and Culture (debate)

Here’s the first in a series of debates on the relationship between Christ and Culture.  I’ve only listened to the first installment and it proved a worthy listen.  I’m going to assume the same could be said for the remainder.

Go here:  Christ and Culture: Introductory Remarks

Other files here:  Archive for the ‘Christ and Culture’ Category

KINGDOM: Two Kingdoms of God vs “Christendom”

Here’s a conversation that might begin to answer nagging questions like this one: “What is the Kingdom of God?” If you have the least interest in knowing the answer, it might be worth a half hour of your time. (((WARNING))) This isn’t something that promotes “Religious Right” or “Moralistic Left” ideologies.

Kingdom of God (part 1)

Kingdom of God (part 2)

CIVIL: USA as Political Messiah

Richard Gamble on Civil Religion:

“America’s anointment as the world’s political messiah did not end when demobilized troops returned from Europe in 1919. It did not end with America’s opposition to the Treaty of Versailles, nor with America’s refusal to join the League of Nations. The cumulative product of generations of reflection, experience, and anticipation, the American identity reached too deep and far to have been uprooted in a moment of supposed renunciation. Transcending party politics and most ideological boundaries, nearly all of the language of universality and emancipation, of the “city on a hill” and the world’s rebirth, of light and dark, Messiah and Armageddon, reverberates down to the present moment. Like Woodrow Wilson before them, few modern presidents have been able to resist the allure of America’s global redemptive consciousness. In the 1940s, Franklin Roosevelt planned for a future refounded on four freedoms, freedoms that would prevail “everywhere in the world.” In the fourth of these universal freedoms, freedom from fear, he anticipated a day when “no nation will be in a position to commit and act of physical aggression against any neighbor – anywhere in the world.”

“In countless speeches from the 1960s through the 1980s, moreover, Ronald Reagan reached back to the earliest metaphors of America’s divine destiny” to reaffirm the nation’s special calling as a “city on a hill.” Combining the Puritan errand with the Enlightenment dream of earthly regeneration, he also embraced Tom Pain’s longing to “begin the world over again.” And on September 11, 2002, George W. Bush, speaking with the colossus of the Statue of Liberty behind him, called America the “hope of all mankind” and appropriated the world of John 1:5 as if they described not just the Incarnation of Christ but the mission of the United States: “And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness will not overcome it.” To one degree or another and with varying motives and consequences, each of these men continued to speak of the United States as if it were the Salvator Mundi, following a pattern of thought that has endured for more than four centuries.”

[HT: DG Hart]

APOSTASY: Masquerading as Gospel

Essentially, anything that poses as the Gospel or its equivelent is simply unbelief.  The Gospel stands completely on its own and needs nothing but the cross/resurrection of Jesus Christ to substantiate it.  Only the Gospel is gospel…and everything else…is something other. 

Related thoughts:

“Any cultural or political agenda embellished with such authority is a manifestation of “works righteousness” and ipso facto an act of apostasy. This theological proposition, over and beyond all prudential moral judgments, “hits” in all directions of the ideological spectrum; it “hits” the center as much as the left or the right. “Different gospels” lurk all across the spectrum. No value or institutional system, past or present or future, is to be identified with the gospel. The mission of the church is not to legitimate any status quo or any putative alteration of the status quo. The “okay world” of bourgeois America stands under judgment, in the light of the gospel, as does every other human society. Democracy or capitalism or the particular family arrangements of middle-class culture are not to be identified with the Christian life, and neither is any alternative political, economic, or cultural system. The vocation of the church is to proclaim the gospel, not to defend the American way of life, not to “build socialism,” not even to “build a just society” – because, quite apart from the fact that we don’t really know what this is, all our notions of justice are fallible and finally marred by sin. The “works righteousness” in all these “different gospels” lies precisely in the insinuation that, if only we do this or refrain from doing that, we will be saved, “justified.” But, as Paul tells us, “by works of the law shall no one be justified.” [Berger, “Different Gospels: The Social Sources of Apostasy,” Erasmus Lecture, January 22, 1987]”

FUNDAMENTALISM: An Honest Atheist’s Perspective

Todd Wilken of Issues, Etc. interviewed Bruce Sheiman; author “An Atheist Defends Religion”.  A very interesting conversation, between a believer and a fairly honest atheist.  Interesting how sound a perspective Bruce (the atheist) had on Fundamentalism, of the right (religion) and the left (scientism); both, having an equally distorted worldview.

For the interview go here:

An Atheist’s Perspective on the Value of Religion

ME!: Narcissism

The folks over at the White Horse Inn have produced another worthwhile program: White Horse Inn : Narcissism Epidemic

Narcissism (self-focus) is discussed as being a root cause, psychologically speaking, of many troubles that our society faces, even those economical. 

Mike Horton converses with author and professor Jean Twenge about her latest book The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.  Jean has some interesting insights, such as the principle of “inflation” and how it bears upon ‘self-image’ at both an individual and societal level (and everywhere in between). 

The conversation helps to bring into focus the role that Narcissism plays in things such as parenting, the media, Internet (Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, etc), and easy credit. 

Though I disagree with some of the discussion about the “Greatest Generation” (that is, the Depression/WW2 generation), viewing it as something of a Golden Age (the Greater America), there’s no doubt that our day (generation) is faced with some very sobering consequences of our buying into the psychobabble of yesteryear. 

For another interesting and related WHI program, see: Boredom and Entertainment  with author Richard Winter, Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment.

Kingdom: Left, Right, or Neither?

Lee Irons has commented on a work by Seyoon Kim, Christ and Caesar

 

1)   It is not the timing of the eschaton but the nature of the eschaton that conditions their [Paul and Luke’s] stance toward political issues. If the eschaton is going to bring about a radical change in the conditions of life such that the glory of the age to come totally transcends our present existence, then it matters little whether they viewed the eschaton as imminent (within their lifetime) or as far off in the future.

 

a.    The eschatological state, for the New Testament writers, is not continuous with the present state. Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50).

b.    The eschatological state will be characterized by a glorified creation and glorified bodies to inhabit that glorified creation. The glorified state is one of incorruption and immortality. It is not merely the eternal continuation of our present fleshly state.

c.    Thus, for the New Testament writers, political questions, tied as they are to the fleshly state of this passing age, are necessarily secondary in importance.

d.    Furthermore, as a part of the fleshly state, political arrangements are not capable of being transformed or taken up into the state of glory, whether in its “already” state (experienced proleptically by the indwelling of the living Christ through his Spirit) or its “not yet” form (the glorified creation/body).

 

2)   Second, I do not understand what Kim means by “the materialization of Christ’s Lordship” or “materializing the redemption of the Kingdom of God politically.” These sound like nice words, but what do they mean in practical terms?

 

a.    For those on the left it means increasing government funding for social welfare for the poor. Others on the left would say it means ending war in some sort of commitment to pacifism. Those on the right would say it means banning abortion, or having the constitution amended to exclude same-sex marriage, or reducing the size of government and government controls on the free market.

b.    A related problem is that, even if we were to agree on a specific agenda, how do these things relate to Christ’s Lordship or the redemption of the Kingdom of God? In other words, why should any of the above items, left or right, be viewed in such exalted spiritual terms, as the materialization of the reign of Christ?

c.    In my view, the above policies can be debated pro and con, and perhaps some are pragmatically better for society than others, but none are distinctively Christian, and certainly they should not be characterized as the political materialization of the kingdom of God.

Survey: “Bad?” Maybe not!

Here is an interesting article about the so-called spiritual decline in the USA.  Interesting how some folks think themselves less “spiritual” if they entirely abandon any and all so-called formal religion; while others are in hot pursuit of answers wherever they can find them, so long as their felt-needs are met.  And so the pendulum swings….

The findings in this article are not all that stunning actually, but appear to be further confirmation that, what once claimed to be at the religious helm in the USA was nothing more than an empty shell.  Folks are finally beginning to realize this sad truth; the mask is being pulled away from religion(s) that has long been just skin deep. 

Though there is reason to lament here (being that what was claiming Christ’s name, lacked Christ’s grace and truth), there is reason to rejoice.  The house is being cleansed.

Superficial religiosity, no matter how well meaning or busy, will always be found out.  Preaching everything but Christ crucified will wear out with using, no matter how “helpful and good” it initially appears.  In the end…it’s never worth its salt.

Find the article here:

USA TODAY: Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds

 

Christendom: Applauding The Fall Thereof

Excellent program by the folks at The White Horse Inn:  Losing Our Religion

The boys explain how it is that the notion of “Christendom” gave birth to Atheism/Modernism/Romanticism/Etc.  How, as Christians, we can be thankful that the unbelievers (i.e., Jefferson, etc) who helped founded this country saw fit to separate the two spheres, ecclesiastical and civil, which had the effect of preserving both alongside one another.

Horton on Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today

Chris Anderson over at My Two Cents had the following to say regarding Mike Horton comments about Challenges and Opportunities for Ministry Today:

Chris said, “Commenting on the tendency for Christians to adjust our ministries so that they are more culture-friendly, Horton asks, “when will we learn what so many of our forebears knew from experience: that the success of the Christian gospel lies precisely in its offense.”

1. Our dissection of culture isn’t working.

“A host of recent studies confirms that the ecclesiastical ideology of ‘mission to postmodern culture’ works least among the people who are supposed to be the most impressed: the so-called Gen-Xers and younger. Even aside from the all-important challenge of biblical fidelity, not even the demographics support the hype that almost tyrannically controls contemporary approaches to mission and worship.”

2. Our dissection of culture isn’t biblical. We’ve made things far too complicated.

“What if, instead of adopting the division of history into modern and postmodern, we followed the New Testament distinction between ‘this present evil age’ and ‘the age to come,’ the reality of life ‘in the flesh’ versus ‘life in the Spirit’?…In this typology, ‘That is postmodern’ no longer becomes a get-out-of-jail-free card, a justification for all sorts of deviance from historic Christian norms in the name of evangelism, mission, and outreach to the postmodern culture.”

3. People haven’t changed–not in their basic nature and need. Listen to Horton:

“So which is it? Is postmodernism the big new thing or the same old thing? For mission, at least, it just does not matter.”

Voting and Politics by Piper

Despite Piper’s take on Palin’s involvement, etc (up to 2:40), I can appreciate much of what he has to say.  The shorter of the two videos says enough.  Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in temporal matters.  We do this each and every day.  No surprise then that this election distracts many of us…we tend to live that way!

Voting and Politics by Piper

A Focal Shift

Lee Irons has explained that:

 

…evangelicals should be concerned about this movement [Paul and Empire] because it has the effect of shifting the focus of Paul’s gospel away from the existential issues of personal sin and guilt before a holy God, to structural issues in society as a whole. Sin is not that I have transgressed God’s will but that American foreign policy or global capitalism are oppressive forces causing suffering and pain. Instead of personal guilt, the focus is on systemic structural evil. Thus, Paul’s gospel is not (on this view) fundamentally a message about how Christ delivers us from the wrath to come through his atoning death and resurrection, but a message that God is on the side of the politically oppressed and the environment.

 

And instead of calling fundamentally for a response of repentance toward God and faith/trust in Jesus Christ, this “gospel” (if one can call it that) calls for a new moralism with a political agenda. The “Paul and Empire” movement transforms Paul’s proclamation of Christ into a social gospel that in the final analysis could do without Christ. I do not think N. T. Wright is as guilty on this score as Horsley and others, but I fear that Wright is at least complicit in encouraging a social gospel interpretation of Paul’s gospel (witness his influence on Brian McLaren).

VOTING: In The City of Man

John Piper recently wrote:

“So it is with voting. We deal with the system. We deal with the news. We deal with the candidates. We deal with the issues. But we deal with it all as if not dealing with it. It does not have our fullest attention. It is not the great thing in our lives. Christ is. And Christ will be ruling over his people with perfect supremacy no matter who is elected and no matter what government stands or falls. So we vote as though not voting.”

 

READ IT ALL:

John Piper: Let Christians Vote As Though They Were Not Voting

 

AND ANOTHER WORTHWHILE READ:

Dr. Hamilton: On Politicians and Elected Officians

Dr. Hamilton: The Church Militant and Her Warfare: We Are Not Another Interest Group

 

 

 

 

Priorities of the Ministry of the Gospel

Don Carson has warned:

“Our passion must first be the gospel and not assume it to be understood.”

“We must be careful to keep the gospel central and not turn our responses to the gospel as the main target.”

Scott Thomas mentions that:

“…Carson exhorted…Christian leaders to spend our time on prayer and the ministry of the Word and allow our people to begin and maintain efforts in social concern. He said we must distinguish between what the church as church must do and what the community of believers in the church must do…”

Pro-Life, Rhetoric, and Obama

For those who might be interested, here are four resources that speak to a Two-Kingdom perspective on our current political climate:

 

Mike Horton: How Pro-Life Are You?

 

Don Eberly: The Common Good and Common Grace

 

Jason Stellman: Tender Conscience of King Obamalech

 

Lee Irons: A Plea To Tone Down The Rhetoric