Friday, September 17, 2010

A Series of Unfortunate Arguments for R2K

Darryl G. Hart is continuing to attempt to defend R2K in the comment box at GreenBaggins. His arguments, however, are getting less and less Biblical - less and less Confessional - and less and less rational. Let me provide some examples:

DGH wrote (source):
Here’s the thing, how many citizens of the U.S. make killing a matter of conscience? ... unless a religion exists that practices human sacrifice, most people are fairly content with the restrictions of the second table.
There are several important rejoinders:
1) No, people are not "fairly content" with the restrictions of the second table. Fornication is rampant in the U.S. Some states are even willing not only to countenance homosexual fornication, but to give legal privileges to those who engage in it, on account of their engaging in it! And, of course, people being content with following the second table is no more significant than people being content to follow the first table.

2) The fact that there are few American Hindus that practice Sati, or few followers of Manson, or few Muslims jihadists, or few followers of the Aztec or religion, or few who follow after Molech is not relevant to the question of whether it is proper for the civil magistrate to prevent them from following the dictates of their very warped and seared consciences and killing people.

DGH wrote (source):
That doesn’t mean that looking to Scripture for cultural guidance is wrong. But it can look downright foolish if the search for guidance on ethics, aesthetics and politics only goes to the Bible and leaves aside Aristotle.
The only infallible rule for faith and life is the Scriptures. That doesn't mean we can't hope to glean insights from pagan philosophers like Aristotle, but where Aristotle and the Bible differ, we favor the Bible.

DGH wrote (source):
if the magistrate does not protect the freedoms of all men you may end up with St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre. So it may be more prudent to protect both Roman Catholics and Protestants rather than letting each side slaughter the other depending on who’s in power.
a) This is really a non-argument. It's just two speculative claims placed back to back.

b) This non-argument presents a false dichotomy: there is a lot of middle ground between "slaughter each other" and R2k. The classical Reformed position that DGH rejects lies in that middle ground.

c) It's absurd to imagine that governmental rules of one regime can control those of another. In other words, the Hugenots could not have prevented their own massacre simply through imposing rules on the French nation. The massacre itself was in violation of the existing laws.

DGH wrote (same source):
I don’t think it’s possible for the magistrate to uphold the first table and protect the freedoms of Roman Catholics, Mormons, Reformed Protestants, and Muslims. If you know a way to do that, I’m all eyes.
So what? Some "freedoms" (like the freedom to blaspheme the Lord or the freedom to work on the Lord's day) might not be protected. That's the nature of having laws. Laws restrict liberty.

The question is: which restrictions on freedom/liberty are just and right? The way to answer that question authoritatively is by turning to the Scriptures. You can turn to Aristotle (or Sun Tzu or Machiavelli, whoever you want) but you have to recognize that those other sources are fallible and sinful sources. They may have good things to say, but what they say needs to be taken with a grain of salt. When they disagree with Scripture, they are wrong.



Anonymous said...

With friends like dgh, the American revisionists don't need any enemies!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"With friends like dgh, the American revisionists don't need any enemies!"

With friends like Darryl Hart, Bible-believing Christians have no problem understanding how the dictum "Evil happens when good men do nothing" points the finger directly back at Christians influenced and led by Darryl Hart's arguments for R2K.

Kaalvenist said...

I got pretty tired of going back and forth with him on his blog. (

I still remember when he read his essay at the RPTS conference in 2007 (weekend after Synod), and was almost ripped to shreds during the Q&A. He had to reverse himself on a couple things he had said. It doesn't seem like he's learned much since then.

Anonymous said...

Being Native American/California Indian and have been hearing the political indian vitriol all my life, now 57 years and being both Catholic and now Christian of a reformational persuasion, 36 years, I can say I'd rather be Protestant burned by a Roman Catholic decree than a Catholic put to death in my good works because of some immature Protestant civil authority's decree! :)

Well, a better way of saying it is here:

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
1Pe 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
1Pe 4:14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
1Pe 4:15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.
1Pe 4:16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Anonymous said...

Robert Shaw on the WCF so called "persecuting principle":
"But there is a very prevalent and yet very false method of thinking, or pretending to think, respecting toleration and liberty of conscience. Many seem to be of the opinion that toleration consists in making no distinction between truth and error, but regarding them with equal favour. This opinion, if carefully analysed, would be found to be essentially of an infidel character. Many seem to think that by liberty of conscience is meant that every man should be at liberty to act in everything according to his own inclination, without regard to the feelings, convictions and rights of other men. This would, indeed, be to convert liberty into lawlessness, and to make conscience of licentiousness."

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I went to the link that Kaalvenist provided. And I understand why he got tired going back and forth with Darryl Hart.

BTW, Darryl Hart wrote the following:

"And by the way, I practice and support infant baptism because Jesus and the apostles did."

TurretinFan, what is the Scriptural support and argument used to support the contention that Jesus and the apostles practiced infant baptism?

Jus' curious.

Turretinfan said...

Jesus himself probably didn't practice infant baptism, because mostly the baptisms were done by the disciples. I'd rather not turn this thread into a debate on infant baptism, but I do establish the practice from Scripture, not from my imagination or French Enlightenment philosophy.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...


Why do you think Darryl Hart and Zrim and others resist being perceived as Radical 2-K?

Anonymous said...

Kalvenist, or is it Sean, you forgot to mention that the Covenanters heard at that RPTS conference how their view of the kingship of Christ was papist because, as David McKay explained, they don't distinguish between the mediatorial and creational reigns of Christ.

Anonymous said...

Tfan, I'm glad to know that you think your Roman Catholic neighbors should not be able to practice their faith. So when will you post about taking Glenn Beck off the air?

Kaalvenist said...

Still cherry-picking I see, Dr. Hart. It's unfortunate that you seem unwilling or incapable of responding to serious criticism (as at the Conference). When you come to hold to historic 2K rather than your revisionistic interpretation thereof, maybe we can discuss the question of Christ's mediatorial kingship. First things first. (I wouldn't get into an argument over single vs. dual procession of the Holy Spirit with an Arian, either.)

Besides, Dr. McKay certainly was not identifying the doctrine of Christ's mediatorial rule over the nations as an inherently popish ("papist" is generally used as a noun) doctrine, since he maintains that doctrine as well -- he is, after all, a minister and theology professor in the Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanter) Church of Ireland.

Anonymous said...

I can only imagine that even the most strident pluralists and anti-theonomists run for cover when DGH speaks. I'm sincerely ashamed that he's an elder in the OPC, not because of his conclusions but rather because of the way he arrives at them. The only thing less appealing than his reasoning is his demeanor.

Turretinfan said...


"the Covenanters heard at that RPTS conference how their view of the kingship of Christ was papist"

I hope they did not hear that from you, though I'm getting a feeling they did.

"they don't distinguish between the mediatorial and creational reigns of Christ."

That's probably because the Covenanters sing Psalm 24:

Psalm 24:1 [A Psalm of David.] The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Or it could simply be because the Covenanters are Trinitarians. God is not only Christ, but the Father and the Spirit.

Or again, it could be that they sing Psalm 47:

Psalm 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding.

Who knows?


Anonymous said...

Sean, if you read his article in the Spear festschrift, McKay said that the Covenanter had departed from Rutherford and his article was on how that happened. I didn't take that as a positive view of the Covenanter position even though McKay is RP. I also didn't notice any adverse criticisms of my paper. I remember several folks saying how much they appreciated it.

But I guess your criticism is directed at a view of 2k that allows Roman Catholics to practice their faith in a free society. Since the National Covenant opposed that, I can see why you're critical. What I can't see is how you live with the modern world.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"I can only imagine that even the most strident pluralists and anti-theonomists run for cover when DGH speaks. I'm sincerely ashamed that he's an elder in the OPC, not because of his conclusions but rather because of the way he arrives at them. The only thing less appealing than his reasoning is his demeanor."

Is this you, Godith?

Turretinfan said...


It was far harder to live through the killing times, but the Covenanters managed to do that. By comparison, living in the modern state is a piece of cake.

- TurretinFan

John Bugay said...

One of the reasons I tangled with Jason Stellman over Roman Catholicism is because I had been at his blog trying to learn about "Two Kingdoms" theology. With a blog of that name, and with him being from Westminster CA, one might have thought that his blog focused on that topic.

Unfortunately, at one point, he became far more interested in Roman Catholicism than I thought was healthy. I pointed this out, and we tangled.

Some of the earliest books in the Reformed portion of my library were D.G. Hart books having to do with J. Gresham Machen. I valued these greatly. I didn't get into some of his other works because I have no interest in being critical of other (non-liberal) Protestants.

I've gotten to read works by Michael Horton and R. Scott Clark, and I've gained a tremendous amount of respect for WSC and their theology. I became interested in "two kingdoms" theology after I attended a Michael Horton conference sponsored here by a local PCA (and even met my current pastor there). Still I've had a hard time understanding what "two kingdoms" is all about -- it's not "theology," it moves into other areas, and it's bigger than theology.

I have to say that I've found D.G. Hart to be a very poor spokesperson for two kingdoms theology. He tries to be funny and he tries to be witty, and he almost always is less than clear in his explanations.

I've linked to this ongoing conversation on several occasions, by Steven Wedgeworth and his good friend Peter Escalante. I don't know the whole history of these two individuals; at one point they did look closely at Roman Catholicism and rejected it. They also looked at the Federal Vision and rejected that, too, as a paradigm for Protestantism in our time. The view of the Reformation, of Christ and Culture and the role of Protestantism today resonates with me.

The series started with a Review that Steven did of David VanDrunen's "Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms." Steven has followed up with three very fine blog posts, which turned into an ongoing discussion that's not finished yet. It slows down in some places, and takes some wrong turns, but ultimately, this is one of the best overall discussions of Two Kingdoms in the Reformers thoughts and following, that I've ever seen.

(I believe their take is more broadly "Protestant" than simply "Reformed." In personal discussions with Steven, I know that he's interested in the history of the English Reformation, which evolved along different lines. But I think that broader interest will give it a broader appeal.)

Interestingly, this series (and Steven gives a kind of history of the series) began with a review that Steven did and that DGH critiqued. I think DGH may have made some good points, but along with that, he tried to be funny, and when he goes in that direction, I don't think he does justice to his (or WSC's) point of view.

I haven't done a lot of reading in this area, and it has sort of fallen behind in importance for me compared with some of the current things I'm studying. But it's nice for me to know that these guys are out there, putting these ideas together.

(I've also posted a shorter version of this at Green Baggins.)

Anonymous said...

To John Bugay:
To gain more understand of the Escondido Theology read John Frame's review of VanDrunen's, Horton's and Clark's books (articles 1,2, and 4 on:
It is good to get his perspective. What I like about Frame is that he is 1. kind to those with whom he disagrees; and 2. uses the Bible to back up his assertions.

Tom said...

"....Covenanters heard at that RPTS conference how their view of the kingship of Christ was papist...."

Speaking of papist views, Michael Horton had no problems whatsoever last year writing an endorsement for well-known apostate Scott Hahn's book on Pope Benedict XVI.

John Bugay said...

Anon: I like John Frame a lot. And I do appreciate that we need something more than "natural law" to inform public policy.

Tom: I saw the Horton endorsement and I let folks know that I thought it was a bad thing, both at Horton's blog and at Puritanboard.

On a somewhat related note, I was glad to see that Keith Mathison, who was used as a whipping boy by Bryan Cross for a while, has publicly stated his disapproval with Rome in the latest Table Talk:

Cardinal Newman said that to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant. The truth is that to be deep in real history, as opposed to Rome’s whitewashed, revisionist, and often forged history, is to cease to be a Roman Catholic.

I believe that kind of strong language is needed in conversations with Roman Catholics, just so they don't end up being able to use those words to muddy the waters the way that Bryan Cross did.

Turretinfan said...

"Michael Horton had no problems whatsoever last year writing an endorsement for well-known apostate Scott Hahn's book on Pope Benedict XVI. "

While that was a regrettable lapse in judgment, I understand Horton continues to affirm that Rome preaches another gospel.


Tom said...

TF, we can at least be thankful for that.

If Horton did something such as write a review of Hahn's book and say something along lines of, "Hahn wrote an excellant presentation of Ratzinger's theology. Unfortunately, the 21st century Protestant cannot accept his position any more than the 16th century Reformers could accept Rome's position in their day. And here is why......" then I certainly would not take issue with that.

Unfortunately, he did not do that. Instead, on the back inside of the dust jacket, he is quoted as saying, "Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict's insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict's teaching in a highly readable summary. An eminently useful guide for the inrdocuing the thought of an important theologian of our time."

I just don't see Luther or Calvin doing such a thing for one of their Romanist opponents.

And keep in mind that these types of blurbs are placed in or on books for the express purpose of SELLING THAT BOOK! Therefore, Horton is allowing his name to be used in the cause of propagating error, regardless of how well-written that error may be.

When I got this book last year and read what Horton did, he forever lost a great deal of credibility with me.

Anonymous said...


when Dr. Hart quotes the American revision of the European, here: “It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, isn't he trying to conflate the phrase "all their people" with "all people" suggesting that the Church doesn't have a right now to be inclusive like God mandated Israel?

Kaalvenist said...

Dr. Hart,

I was referring to the Q&A portion, which I admittedly have not listened to since I heard it in person. It is possible my memory is failing me (wouldn't be the first time).

Dr. McKay was not expressing criticism of a doctrine which he maintains; that would be like you expressing criticism of your Anabaptist views of church-state relations. He was explaining how Covenanters went from rejecting to embracing the doctrine of Christ's mediatorial kingship over the nations, in a purely historical overview (the turning point being, apparently, during the Killing Times).

This is my last post on the subject, since you are unwilling or incapable of having a serious discussion of these points. You are more interested in exchanging retorts than careful examinations of Scripture. Good day, sir.

Turretinfan said...

"when Dr. Hart quotes the American revision of the European, here: “It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, isn't he trying to conflate the phrase "all their people" with "all people" suggesting that the Church doesn't have a right now to be inclusive like God mandated Israel? "

I do not believe that is Dr. Hart's intent.

t8 said...

'Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.' -Lawrence Clark Powell-