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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Friday
Sep102010

A Different Approach to Reformed Unity?

Darryl Hart revisits a topic that has been broached from time to time--the production of a new Reformed/Presbyterian confession.  Darryl provides links to some of the more important discussions.  I'm on-board.  I think this is a great idea.  Just as we need an up-to-date dogmatics text, Bible translation and liturgical forms, so too we need a new confession which addresses issues currently facing the churches.  Also, this would be a great way to see the North American Reformed and Presbyterian churches unite around a common confession.  Not likely to happen, but we can dream.  A New Confession?

Mike Horton has written a great essay on the "Burn the Koran" issue.   You can find the follow-up post here, as well as a link to the earlier post:  Burning the Koran? 

More two kingdom confusion.  "Lets have an Imam pray before the city council meeting to show our `solidarity' with him."  I'd prefer to do that through the Pledge of Allegiance (i.e. in the civil kingdom), rather than having to sit there with my eyes open and my arms folded in disgust while some Imam prays that the city submit to the will of Allah.  Let the Iman Pray?

This really chaps my hide!  41 current White House aides owe the IRS over $831,000.00 in back taxes.  Don't you just love the Beltway crowd?  Our tax dollars pay their salaries.  They don't produce anything, so there is no "multiplier effect" (take that Keynes).  Then, these bureaucrats are taxed on their salary, which  they owe to the IRS.  But then they don't pay it.  The nerve of these guys!  White House Tax Delinquents

Tuesday
Sep072010

David VanDrunen's New Book on the Two Kingdoms

David VanDrunen's highly anticipated book on the two kingdoms is scheduled for release on October 31. 

If this topic is of interest to you, this will be must reading.

Here's the info from the publisher (Crossway).

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Modern movements such as neo-Calvinism, the New Perspective on Paul, and the emerging church have popularized a view of Christianity and culture that calls for the redemption of earthly society and institutions. Many Christians have reflexively embraced this view, enticed by the socially active and engaged faith it produces.

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms illustrates how a two-kingdoms model of Christianity and culture affirms much of what is compelling in these transformationist movements while remaining faithful to the whole counsel of Scripture. By focusing on God’s response to each kingdom—his preservation of the civil society and his redemption of the spiritual kingdom—VanDrunen teaches readers how to live faithfully in each sphere.

Highlighting vital biblical distinctions between honorable and holy tasks, VanDrunen’s analysis will challenge Christians to be actively and critically engaged in the culture around them while retaining their identities as sojourners and exiles in this world. 


Endorsements

“For those interested in a Reformed two-kingdom model, I can think of no better book to start than Living in God’s Two Kingdoms. Redemptive-historical in scope, heavenly minded in emphasis, and gentle in tone, David VanDrunen has made a great contribution to the ongoing discussion of the relationship of Christianity and culture.”
Danny E. Olinger, General Secretary, Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

“Any Christian perplexed by the Bible’s challenge to live as a dual citizen of God’s eternal and temporal kingdoms will find VanDrunen’s wise and charitable book an indispensable guide in sorting out the confused thinking that entangles the church today. This succinct and timely alternative to neo-Calvinism’s transformationist vision lays the groundwork for a wide-ranging and urgently needed discussion about two-kingdom theology’s implications for education, the workplace, and politics.”
Richard M. Gamble, Anna Margaret Ross Alexander Professor of History and Political Science, Hillsdale College

“For some years now, I’ve been asking students to read works by Prof. David VanDrunen of Westminster Seminary California. VanDrunen has a gift for recovering themes from the political theology of the Reformation and demonstrating their continuing relevance. In this book, VanDrunen shows that the Reformation’s two-kingdoms theology allows Christians to faithfully navigate a course between, on the one hand, investing excessive hope in earthly government or, on the other, retreating from political life into isolationist enclaves. Particularly welcome is his emphasis on the liberty of biblical Christians to reach differing conclusions about how our political engagement might glorify God.”
Randy Beck, Professor of Law, University of Georgia School of Law

“Evangelicals today, including those within the Reformed community, have become annoyed by the competing (and, in a few cases, embarrassingly inadequate) ‘transformationalist’ programs offered by leading Christian thinkers. With clarity and concision, David VanDrunen has offered an alternative perspective that liberates the Christian conscience to sincerely engage society without relegating the sovereignty of God over ‘every square inch’ of it. Living in God’s Two Kingdoms will certainly stimulate debate and force Christians to reevaluate the relationship between Christ and culture.”
Ryan McIlhenny, Assistant Professor of Humanities, Providence Christian College

“The Apostle Peter writes that Christians are God’s own people, sojourners and exiles in this age. What does this calling mean for the way in which believers work in their jobs, raise their families, educate their children, and vote at the polls? In Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, David VanDrunen addresses these questions and more, offering a robust and reasoned alternative to transformationalist understandings of Christianity and culture. Whether or not readers agree with every argument in Living in God’s Two Kingdoms, they will find themselves engaged and challenged to think constructively and biblically about a critical issue in the life of the church. VanDrunen has done a great service to the church in promoting continued reflection on Christianity and culture, and in offering sound practical counsels to Christians eager to serve God in their pilgrimage heavenward.”
Guy Prentiss Waters, Associate Professor of New Testament, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS

“Over the past century, evangelicals have jumped out of the frying pan of quietism into the fire of worldliness. Taking his cue from Scripture rather than merely responding to cultural trends, David Van Drunen outlines a biblically grounded theology of cultural engagement that reflects both the lordship of Christ over all creation and the special mission and calling of the church. This book, bold and unapologetic, provides some extraordinarily helpful categories for thinking clearly about what it means to live faithfully and wisely in the present age.”
William S. Brewbaker III, Professor of Law, University of Alabama

Monday
Sep062010

"For the Common Good" -- 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Here's the audio from yesterday's sermon, the twenty-third in a series on 1 Corinthians.

click here
Sunday
Sep052010

This Week's White Horse Inn

Surprised by Grace

On this edition of the program Michael Horton talks with Tullian Tchividjian about his new book Surprised by Grace: God's Relentless Pursuit of Rebels. The book walks readers through the story of Jonah and provides a good example of how to read an Old Testament text with Christ at the center. Mike and Tullian also discuss the value of employing a redemptive historical method of biblical interpretation.

http://www.whitehorseinn.org/



Thursday
Sep022010

Who Said That?

"We believe a man to be not simply justified through faith alone, but through faith which works through love, that is to say, through faith and works. But [the idea] that faith can fulfill the function of a hand that lays hold on the righteousness which is in Christ, and can then apply it unto us for salvation, we know to be far from all Orthodoxy. For faith so understood would be possible in all, and so none could miss salvation, which is obviously false. But on the contrary, we rather believe that it is not the correlative of faith, but the faith which is in us, justifies through works, with Christ. But we regard works not as witnesses certifying our calling, but as being fruits in themselves, through which faith becomes efficacious, and as in themselves meriting, through the Divine promises (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:10) that each of the Faithful may receive what is done through his own body, whether it be good or bad."

Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Please no google searches or cheating!  Answer to follow next week.

Thursday
Sep022010

A Two Kingdoms Primer 

Here's a brief primer on the basics of the Reformed doctrine of the two kingdoms.

As you consider the distinctions between these two kingdoms, please keep in mind the following presuppositions upon which the distinctions are based:

1).  Christ is Lord of both kingdoms.  He rules the kingdom of Christ (regnum gratiae) as the mediator of the covenant of grace, and he rules the civil kingdom (regnum potentiae) as sovereign Lord.

2).  Every Christian is simultaneously a citizen of both kingdoms (Philippians 3:20; Romans 13:1-7).

 3).  The state is a post-fall, common grace institution given by God for the administration of justice and to restrain evil (Genesis 4:18 ff; Romans 13:1-7).

 4).  Non-Christians do not accept or acknowledge Christ's Lordship over the civil kingdom.  This is the basis for the antithesis between Christian and non-Christian ways of thinking and doing.  The failure to acknowledge Christ's Lordship renders one guilty before God (Romans 1:18-25), but does not invalidate the civil kingdom or the non-Christian's place in it. 

5).  While Paul calls Rome a minister of God (Romans 13:4), a generation later John describes that same empire as the beast, empowered by the dragon to persecute the people of God (Revelation 13).  The Christian's confession that "Jesus is Lord," is likewise a confession that Caesar isn't.  Christians must be cognizant that the kingdom of Christ can be seen as a threat to the power of the state.  In fact, throughout Scripture, the state is the dragon's weapon of last resort against Christ and his kingdom. 

6).  From the time Adam was cast from Eden, God has intended the kingdom of Christ (the church) to dwell and advance in the midst of the civil kingdom (the world).  This is the foundation for the missionary endeavors of the church, as well as a hedge against either utopianism (an over-realized eschatology) or escapism (i.e., monasticism).

 

The Distinction Between the Two Kingdoms

 

Christ's Kingdom

This is a spiritual kingdom and is ruled by Christ in his mediatorial office, in and through the historical manifestation of the covenant of grace (the church)

The Civil Kingdom

Here we speak of human government (the state) and Christ's rule over the earth and its creatures (the kingdom of power), according to God’s divine purpose for humanity (his eternal decree)

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Christ's Kingdom

The charter of Christ’s kingdom is the “Great Commission” (cf. Matthew 28:16-20)

The Civil Kingdom

The foundation of the civil kingdom is the “Cultural Mandate” (Genesis 1:28' Genesis 9:6-7)

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Christ's Kingdom

The church is given the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19).  The kingdom is closed to the unrepentant and heretics through church discipline

The Civil Kingdom

The state is given the sword (Romans 13:4).  Those who break the law are subject to civil and criminal justice

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Christ's Kingdom

Requires “spiritual discernment” (1 Corinthians 1:13 ff; 2:14)

The Civil Kingdom

Requires the light of nature (i.e., general revelation--Romans 2:14-15)

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Christ's Kingdom

Christ’s kingdom is manifest on earth through the ordinary means of grace and through those biblically mandated activities of the church (i.e., evangelism, discipleship, and diaconal ministries)

The Civil Kingdom

The civil kingdom is manifest in all human cultural endeavors and governing institutions.  In the civil kingdom, Christian citizens seek to be salt and light as they fulfill their callings and vocations along with their non-Christian neighbors

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Christ's Kingdom

The focus is upon our heavenly citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21)–which is realized in our membership in Christ’s church.  The church is the assembly of Christian believers

The Civil Kingdom

The focus is upon our national citizenship (i.e., the country of our birth, or of which we are presently citizens).  As such, this kingdom includes all people (Christians and non-Christians alike) who are citizens of a given nation/society

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Christ Kingdom

Entrance is granted into this kingdom only by virtue of regeneration.  The focus is upon redemptive grace–God saving his people from the guilt and power of sin

The Civil Kingdom

Entrance into the civil kingdom is granted by virtue of birth (or naturalization).  The focus here is upon common grace–God providing for all of his creatures

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Christ's Kingdom

As citizens of Christ’s kingdom, we live under the authority of Christ as revealed in Scripture (special revelation)

The Civil Kingdom

In the civil kingdom, we live under the authority of the laws of the land (i.e., general revelation and natural law)

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Consequences of Confusing the Two Kingdoms or Denying our Dual Citizenship

When these two kingdoms are confused or conflated, we see the rise of the "social gospel" of Protestant liberalism, American civil religion of the Christian right and the liberal left, as well as the rise of Constantianism (Christendom).  The church must never take up the sword and Caesar must never enter the pulpit.

When the Christian's dual citizenship is denied (or ignored), we see the rise of asceticism, pietism, radical pacifism and Anabaptism.

Therefore, a Christian is free to work with non-Christians in the civil kingdom to promote the common good and preserve a just society.  But the kingdom of Christ is tied to word and sacrament and the church (and its officers and members) must speak to the pressing moral issues of the day in terms of law and gospel, not in terms of the political activism found in the civil kingdom.  Yes, the church must address moral issues as they are found and framed in Scripture (through the preaching and catechetical function of the church), but the church is not to engage in partisan politics, nor endorse any political party or candidate.

Thursday
Sep022010

Great Interview with Ken Samples

Ken Samples (who teaches our Sunday morning Bible Class @ Christ Reformed and who frequently lectures at our Academy) was recently interviewed by the Jude 3 Project.

Ken answers ten questions and explains his interest in Augustine and his baseball days.

Ken is truly a scholar and a gentlemen--people actually call him the "nice Calvinist."  One caveat however--he does prefer cats to dogs.

You'll enjoy the interview:  Ten Questions for Ken Samples

Wednesday
Sep012010

Same-Sex Divorce? Not in Texas!

The cynic in me believes that one reason why the legal community has tended to support gay marriage is that same-sex marriages will increase the number of divorce cases--probably exponentially.  Well, one Texas court has thrown a gay couple a real curve--no divorce because there is no gay marriage--at least in Texas!  No gay divorce in Texas

A Dobson-Beck alliance?  A black robe regiment of "Christian conservatives"?  What is that all about?  Now I am really creeped out.  More two-kingdom confusion at its finest.  A Beck-Dobson Alliance?

The Jesus Seminar--which, apparently, has miraculously resurrected itself--is now celebrating the 25th anniversary of their collective tantrum against their fundamentalist up-bringing.  I noticed that one of the featured speakers deals with the thesis that Paul was not a Christian.  OK . . .  What else would you expect from these guys and gals?  Jesus Seminar's 25th Anniversary

Finally, this strikes close to home.  Should sex offenders be allowed in church?

As you may know, Christ Reformed has had to deal with this issue--what do you do when a Megan's law offender becomes a Reformed Christian and wants to worship with you?  You let him worship, but escort him at all times while he is on campus, and you warn people that he's there (see Christ Reformed's policy here:  Christ Reformed's Megan's Law policy).  The results of the CT poll pretty much jibe with the reaction we've gotten from church members. 

Tuesday
Aug312010

Does Glenn Beck Make You Nervous?  

The White Horse Inn blog has posted a number of helpful resources on the two kingdoms and why we must keep them distinct.  Beck's Two Kingdom Confusion

If we don't, we'll end up with a Mormon leading Jews, Muslims and Evangelicals together in prayer . . .  Wait, that just happened!

If we understand the two kingdoms, we'll understand why it would be perfectly OK for these diverse groups to work together on political causes, if only they kept their civil religion out of it!

Somebody ought to write a book on this!

Monday
Aug302010

"Jesus Is Lord" -- 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

Here's the audio from Sunday's sermon, the twenty-first in a series on 1 Corinthians.

Click here