Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Religious Pluralism and the Christian Magistrate

I like R. Scott Clark. He's a good guy, and smart guy. I don't know why he is so fond of what appears to be a practically Lutheran version of Two Kingdoms. It comes across pretty clearly in this post of his today (link to his post).

RSC writes:
If the real “problem” for the critics is religious pluralism then their real agenda would seem to be more profound than they have hitherto admitted: one-church theocracy (i.e. state advocacy of one church and enforcement of the first three commandments, as numbered by the Reformed churches).
I'm not sure what RSC has precisely in mind (or why he stops at 3). I think, though, that what a lot of folks in the more traditional Reformed ranks think would be proper would be a civil magistrate that does not treat anti-christian religions with equal dignity to the Christian faith. Yes, that's not very pluralistic. That doesn't mean that "king" (or whatever mode the magistrate might take) would have to permit only a single denomination, but it does mean that you wouldn't be letting folks set up mosques in your land, to take a "for instance."

It doesn't mean that the king could force anyone to love God, but it does mean that he could use the FCC (to select the American example) to stop folks from breaking the 3rd commandment by profaning Jesus' name on the airwaves. It does mean that religious idols could be destroyed throughout the land to help folks abide by the second commandment. And, yes, it means that the king might want to consider whether the general equity of "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" is pretty much to shut down palm readers, fortune tellers, and so forth in keeping with the first commandment.

I don't know why any of this should shock RSC. Yet I get the distinct feeling that it does shock him - perhaps because he associates that kind of zeal not with Joshua or Gideon but with certain Muslims. Perhaps it is because he wouldn't like to be under a non-pluralistic non-Christian regime. But those aren't logical or Scriptural reasons for having a negative reaction to the rejection of religious pluralism.


Craig French said...

Well said.

Coram Deo said...

Hola TF,

I'm relatively new to the 1K/2K ethic insofar as thinking about it critically and theologically.

Yet this being said I'd suggest that most - if not all - Christians have considered the fact that the kingdoms of this world are sub-biblical expressions of the Kingdom of Christ at some level or another. Christ's first advent gave us, I think, a brief glimpse of His already/not yet kingdom, and any rational believer can clearly see that the world is in the death throes of sin, and that all creation groans for redemption from the futility to which it has been unwillingly subjected.

Perhaps my first serious theological exposure to the subject came from reading Calvin's "On God and Political Duty" wherein he presents "spheres" of Christ's expression: in the state law and justice, and in the church the means of grace.

I believe Machen also pressed and developed the concept of these so-called "spheres".

At any rate I read through RSC's article, and there were a few decent exchanges in the combox, with copious links for further reading.

I stumbled across your article only after reading through RSC's piece, and the charge you levelled about RSC's articulated position being practical Lutheranism caught my eye, therefore I decided to do a little more digging.

Lo and behold I found this article by Dr. Michael Horton over at the White Horse Inn responding specifically to the charge of Lutheranism pervading the 2K ethos, among other things.

I realize that Horton's piece may carry a bit less weight than normal given your troubling posts on his apparent affinity for RCC theology and the positive side of Popery, but it's a good read nonetheless, and it attempts to make the case that 2K theory is firmly grounded in the patristic/Augustinian tradition.

The thoughts of Francis Turretin Fan?

In Him,

Turretinfan said...

The basic concept of "two kingdoms" is Biblical, and Patristic, and Medieval, and Lutheran, and Calvinistic. No doubt. The peculiar strain of it that is being promoted by Westminster West seems to be pretty much the specifically Lutheran variant.

Anonymous said...

At some point in our maturity, we are one that ought to stand in Christ alone.

Here we have it, this difficult trek to spiritual maturity that God has embarked us on; seeing there is so much more to know, if one wants to take the time to read it to know? If not, nevertheless, the mandate is settled now and to which we would all agree, I suppose?:::>

Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Eph 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

CD, it is my estimation that you hit one of the nails on the head, here:::> "....and any rational believer...".

It seems to me there are not so many rational believers as your words suggest?

That to me may be the mistaken identity to which you point?

I would say as James:::>

Jas 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
Jas 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

After now these many many years, I am more convinced that God is in favor of many sorts, mostly like a crowd of yelling sports goers at a commercial football or basketball or baseball game, to use the USA motif; one could use the majority, soccer, if one wants?

How does one get out of here alive to Eternal Life then? It is very very easy when one approaches it with Truth Himself in their mind!:::>

Mat 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Mat 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Mat 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

I just don't think this is an easy situation, the religious pluralism and the Christian Magistrate.

I speak this from one who's ancestry begins here in American or at least, history does point in my favor!

A headdress of feathers, anyone? :)

In the meantime, the Scripture still stands:::>

Heb 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.

Someone noted of "king" Herod, that his kingdom was positioned not by birth, as all True Kings' positions are, seeing he was "not" born king of the Jews" as Christ was from the loins of King David by promise!

Again, we ought to know well then these Words of Our King, don't you suppose? :::>

Mat 26:51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
Mat 26:52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Mat 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
Mat 26:54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?"

Just a digression a bit. Doing the math by multiplication then, if one Angel sent killed 185,000 men of war during Isaiah's and Hezekiah's day, then these 72,000 Angels would be able to kill 13, 320,000,000 souls on that day Jesus declared the truth about so many angels being at Hand! :)

Anonymous said...

As to your comments about "West", TF, I would note from personal experience after consideration of several Lutheran Scholars, Pastors and Doctors comments about that leaning.

One goes so far as to use strong language so as to say of Horton that he is a "closet" Lutheran.

If so, it makes perfectly good sense to me now what you allude!

It is well taken and noted.

You might say of Luther, he was a crude dude with the earth on his mouth. And of Calvin, he was refined to dine with lambchops and with men! :)

Now, as for their followers down through to today, where do we stand?

Me, I accept this gladly now as my fate:::>

1Pe 1:5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

As one might imagine, I'm monergistic totally, completely, utterly. I may be stupid as stupid is, but I am not now as much as an idiot as before, some contribution attributes to this blog and more!


Samuel Maynes said...

If you are interested in some new ideas on religious pluralism and the Trinity, please check out my website at It previews my book, which has not been published yet and is still a “work-in-progress.” Your constructive criticism would be very much appreciated.

My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger prophets), and others.

2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or "Universal” Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human consciousness, which we expect will be the "body of Christ" (Mahdi, Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness – associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being – represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas, Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

* The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

For more details, please see:

Samuel Stuart Maynes