Sunday, September 19, 2010

R2K Tries to Biblically Defend Itself

Give Darryl G. Hart some credit: he's attempted to make a Biblical case. Here's his attempted Biblical case:
[We] have explicit repudiation of the kingdom of grace using arms when Jesus said in John 20: 36 “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world even among the Israelites who were seeking a heavenly city. But the Israelites did use the sword. Now Jesus says that he will not use the sword in connection with his kingdom. The NT does not say that we will change on giving the sign of the covenant to babies. So there is assertion as opposed to silence in the NT regarding the sword in the prosecution of Christ’s kingdom.

Jesus' kingdom is not of this world - that means that Jesus' kingdom is a spiritual reality. As Hart admits, this was the case with Jesus' kingdom for all time, both before Christ, while Christ was bodily present, and now that Christ is ascended into heaven. Thus, the fact that the true church of God is a spiritual kingdom is not the basis of discontinuity.

But Hart argues for discontinuity based on the fact that Israelites did use the sword.

Yes, the Israelites did use the sword. Christians use the sword too. In fact, Jesus commanded his disciples:

Luke 22:36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

But, of course, that's not the sort of sword Darryl has in mind. He means the civil magistracy. The sword allusion is an allusion (we hope) to Romans 13:

Romans 13:1-7
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
But Christians will be among the civil magistrates - in fact, we are exhorted to pray for the salvation of kings and all that are in authority:

1 Timothy 2:1-4
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

So, there will be Christian kings, just as also there were Israelite kings.

I guess, Darryl could be trying to argue that even though the Christians would have literal swords, and even though Christians would have the sword in the sense of Romans 13, still the civil magistrate would not attempt to use the sword to convert people. But the Israelites did not use the sword to convert people.

Furthermore, of course, Christ's actual point was simply that if Christ were here as an earthly king, his men would fight to save him. The point Christ had in view was not an absence of the sword in the new covenant community, but rather the spiritual significance of Christ's kingdom. More particularly, Christ did not come to displace Caesar as civil magistrate.

Indeed, Christ affirms that Pilate's present position was something ordained by God:

John 19:9-12
And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, "Whence art thou?"
But Jesus gave him no answer.
Then saith Pilate unto him, "Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?"
Jesus answered, "Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin."
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar."
This actually brings us back to the point that Jesus' words, quoted by Darryl, are addressing. Jesus is rebutting the false charge that he is an earthly King, and the connected (and consequent) false charge that one cannot be a good citizen of Rome and be a Christian.

Remember that on a prior occasion they had tried to trick Jesus into either endorsing the loathsome Roman taxes, or setting himself up against Rome.

Luke 20:19-25
And the chief priests and the scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and they feared the people: for they perceived that he had spoken this parable against them. And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
And they asked him, saying, "Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?"
But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, "Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it?"
They answered and said, "Caesar's."
And he said unto them, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's."
And, of course, Jesus said these positive things about the Roman government before the crucifixion. The old covenant administration was still in place at that time. So, there is nothing discontinuous about Christ's disciples being good citizens after the entrance of the new covenant.

Moreover, of course, Jesus' words to Pilate about his servants not fighting to save him were also prior to the crucifixion, and consequently during the old covenant administration. So, again, they do not signal a discontinuity.

Perhaps that should be enough to show that Darryl's attempt to use Scripture to justify his R2K theology has failed. I would, however, like to add the following comment that Ron Di Giacomo provided in answer to Darryl's remarks:


Yes, Jesus in John 18 spoke of his kingdom, which as our Confession teaches is the visible church, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation, but that has little to do with the ordained rule of civil magistrates. That the church should not use arms does not mean that civil magistrates shouldn’t. In fact, your point proves too much. If we were to apply the teachings of Jesus in this regard to the civil magistrates, there would be no temporal justice whatsoever (something you do not aspire to).

Blessings my brother,





Anonymous said...

Among the many, the irony here with these words....:

"Moreover, of course, Jesus' words to Pilate about his servants not fighting to save him were also prior to the crucifixion, and consequently during the old covenant administration." the fact that Christ is Creator of those predetermined events and decreed the administration's work before the foundation of the world. The disciples, being not yet enlightened by the Holy Spirit, were interfering with the Creator's decree by opposing His arrest and trial and crucifixion! And had the Devil understood that decree himself, he certainly would have stepped in and not tolerated the Son of God's death that he inspired!

The Devil got walked right into the trap of his own doing yet decreed before ever there was a created heaven and earth to do it!

Had the disciples understood while in the garden just before His arrest what was just around the corner, after the resurrection, the sending of the Holy Spirit to them, they would not have opposed the arrest and the one would not have taken up the sword and striking the servant's ear off, knowing that the power that was about to come upon them and work through them was going to begin bringing the Gospel to all nations. Everyone was kept in the dark, the world, the flesh and the devils and no one knew the Secrets of God soon to be revealed!

We get a sense that Peter got hold of this revelation perspicaciously because of these words of his now the Words of Truth all believers alive should hold too in all nations:

2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

It shows with these words too, that Paul understood this mystery:

1Ti 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

It is the bittersweet and sweet bitter twist of God bringing about the execution of His Word spoken about the Devil and those on His left hand, here:

Mat 25:41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for writing this rebuttal, TurretinFan.

deedee vander velt said...

Hmm, used to find this blog helpful, until its writer forgot how to read

Turretinfan said...

That's interesting. I can't recall you ever commenting to that effect.

But since you've charged me with not being able to read, would you like to provide an example?

deedee vander velt said...

Surely, my good fellow:

And the like vitriolic, incoherent posts against the R2k position. After reading the original post by Rev. Stellman, what he said sounded nothing like what you accused him of. And the continual pettiness you display towards Elder Hart seem the same. I do not even hold to their position but the mischaracterization would make you liable in a theonomic world, liable to punishment. Thank goodness theonomists don't run the world, young man, or you would be in trouble.

Concerning the lack of comments: You must have noticed, as all good self-conscious bloggers who get their panties in a bundle do, that your following on the left hand side has decreased. I, a silent admirer, have thus become one no longer.

Thank you for kindness in replying and allowing my criticisms to stand.

Turretinfan said...

Ah, very well. Sorry to see you go! As for your remarks, I appreciate your willingness to be frank with me about how you feel.

I don't accept your characterizations, of course, but it is interesting to gain your perspective.


Anonymous said...

DGH is an elder, and I am very disappointed in his comments on his own blog about George Whitfield, calling him "Boy George". Surely you don't applaud that kind of behavior?

I believe that Tfan's criticisms of Rev. Stellman and DGHart are compelling as well as kind. He does not engage in name-calling, but is involved in polemics. To each his own, I suppose.

Turretinfan said...


Thanks for the support. I think DD is upset by the tone of my comments or by a perception that I've misrepresented the R2K crowd. Perhaps I was unduly harsh to Stellman, though I did try to be careful not only to quote Stellman, but to provide readers with a link to the context. It worked in that DD was able to find the context, but DD disagrees with my reading.

That's life. I'm sorry she doesn't like what I write, and I'll try to learn from her feedback.