The Church is not a Political Action Committee

Dr. D.G. Hart has posted a good article interacting with critics of two kingdom theology. While I disagree with Dr. Hart on the the extent to which the Scriptures speak to matters of civil ethics, nevertheless I agree with him entirely on the principle of the Spirituality of the Church.

The Scriptures teach that the magistrate is required to uphold the whole of the Moral Law as it applies to the civil sphere, and the church must proclaim this truth as it is found in Scripture. But the church is not a political action committee! It would be a shame to the name of Christ and an overthrow of jurisdiction for His Church to behave as though she were a political entity.

It is a common error amongst erstwhile Reformed evangelicals to think that the Church has a duty to do whatever any individual Christian may do. Christians as citizens in the civil sphere ought to be involved in politics to whatever extent they are able, and to shape their politics in keeping with the Scriptural standard of civil ethics. But it would be an abuse of the authority Christ has left in His church for her officers to convene Synods and Councils as though she were a political party calling a convention.

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Comments on The Psychology of Dominion

A friend of mine pointed out a post by Mr Andrew Kerns entitled The Psychology of Dominion at The Circe Institute blog. After reading the article I was moved to comment in a bit of counterpoint to the general theme of Mr Kern’s article. If I understand him correctly, Mr Kern believes that a part of the problem with “youth culture” today is that we don’t expect teenagers to act like adults, nor to adopt adult responsibilities. The solution he suggests is for parents to get out of the way of their teenager’s appropriate independence. While I might generally agree with Mr Kern’s advice that we not “over-parent” our young adults, it seems to me that he has misconstrued the nature of godly dominion which is ostensibly his primary concern.

Mr Kern begins his post as follows, and my comments are below.

I have a sixteen year old son who does not like being told what to do. He’s actually a very pleasant son, very funny (though overly sarcastic, which he must have got from his mother for I would never be sarcastic myself), amazingly helpful around the house, and an independently home schooled kid this year. I hardly have to involve myself at all.

In fact, when I do involve myself, he can get pretty testy. I, of course, being the father, whoop him good when he doesn’t treat me with reverence, awe, and deference every time I speak to him.

Or not.

I have no desire to provoke my son to anger, and I think one of the best ways to do so is to continue to parent them after they don’t need or want it.

When the God of Genesis made the first man He said: Let them have dominion.

To understand the Judaeo-Christian view of man, one of the first things to remember is that he was created to rule. This is, to misapply Dr. Seuss, a wonderful, awful idea.

I offered the following comments to Mr Kern at his blog as follows.

While I agree with your assessment of the disaster that is “youth culture” I think you may have missed a critical component in the solution. Let me illustrate this from your opening comment regarding the testiness of your son. God requires of your sixteen year old son a due reverence in heart, word, and behaviour toward his parents. As best I can understand, testiness is not a godly response to the involvement of his parent in some matter. As best I understand the fifth commandment, you have a responsibility before God lovingly to shepherd your son in keeping his duty of reverence. Your son has a duty before God lovingly to show reverence to his parents. He learns how to honour and revere other superiors throughout his whole life, in no small part, by how he learns to honour and revere you. Obviously, your shepherding of your sixteen year old son would be both loving and age appropriate: no, you wouldn’t “whoop” him. I understand your use of hyperbole here. But even with that in mind you seem to imply, first, that his testiness is appropriate in light of his dominion impulse and, second, that correcting him would do him a disservice. But even on your own terms, you are to exercise dominion in your home to the blessedness of your son. No, it would not be blessing him if you kept him from growing in his decision making skills, but neither are you blessing him if you leave him to foster a sinful attitude toward your involvement.

My concern is not to major on a minor point of your article, but to point out what seems to be lacking in this talk of dominion. If we wish to foster “godly dominion,” we must first learn godly submission. Indeed, godly submission is always the way of godly dominion. It sounds as though you think that a primary component of godly dominion is independence, or perhaps you mean that this is a key component that is lacking in the upbringing of our children. If I have understood you correctly, I think you have mistaken “independence” for the godly traits of self discipline and personal responsibility. I press this because “dominion” (or sometimes “manliness”) has been used frequently to excuse all sorts of ungodliness in our children (not to mention adults).

Dominion on God’s terms involves dying to self, and thankfully living in obedience to God’s law. No, we mustn’t over-parent. However, godly dominion for a sixteen year old son is learned from the inside out, for example, by being man enough to put to death the natural surliness he might feel when his father offers unwanted instruction, and rather to express such strength of character as to require of himself what God requires, a loving and patient embrace of his father’s instruction. A young man with that kind of mastery over his own soul is being prepared for every form of outward dominion.

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Art, Nakedness, and Redemption

Following on yesterday’s post, I thought it would be helpful to share this thoughtful article at Reformation 21 by the Rev. William VanDoodewaard, Associate Professor of Church History at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. Here is an excerpt.

Adam and Eve were naked, without sin. Yet in the Garden, after their sinful rebellion, Adam and Eve realized their nakedness, creating fig leaf coverings for themselves. This awareness is unique to the humans, as animals continued in their “naked” state unperturbed. God declared the fig leaves insufficient, and in an act which theologians see as a picture of redemptive history, killed animals, providing Adam and Eve with adequate coverings of skin through a bloody act. After this point, Scripture’s testimony over and over again is that nakedness in contexts outside of marriage and necessity is shameful, spiritually destructive, a denial of the reality of sin and God’s holiness.

Where God displays His redemptive activity in contexts of extra-marital nakedness He clothes His people. Ezekiel 16 exemplifies this pattern in Scripture: God graciously redeems and clothes His bride, covering her nakedness and making her beautiful. Her God-given covering is not a denial of beauty, but rather a redemptive rescue and restoration to appropriate, glorious, public beauty, after she had been an object of abandoned, uncovered shame. The bride, however, turns to play the whore, prostituting herself, taking off her beautiful clothes, giving her naked beauty, now rebel, distorted and cheap, to any passer-by. Her disrobing outside of marriage is an outward expression of her inner rejection of God’s redemption. She calls men to join her in violating God’s perfect law.

The disrobing, redemption-rejecting woman of Ezekiel stands in stark contrast to the bride of the Song of Solomon, whose nakedness is truly beautiful. It is reserved for her husband, given to him alone–a “step that does not establish deep intimacy, but one which presupposes it.” [3] Even in the literary description of the marital sweetness and joy of the inspired Song a poetic modesty remains. [4] There is also a glorious foreshadowing here of the relationship of Christ and His Bride, the church, who is clothed as well–by His redemption.

VanDoodewaard concludes his article with these poignant words.

To reject nudity in art and film is no denial of artistic ability, nor of created beauty. It is a realistic, careful, humble acknowledgment of God’s redemptive work in Christ and His precepts for a grace transformed, holy, happy life in a fallen world. This includes the need for covering nakedness. Real redemptive activity seeks to preserve and rescue from sin by pointing men and women to Christ and His Word. Knowing this redemption, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, declares:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality… will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God… you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

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Christian modesty in art

The Covenant College online student news site The Bagpipe Online reports the following.

Art professor Kayb Carpenter Joseph’s exhibit, Lotus Eaters, has overtaken the art gallery in Kresge Library, but only part of the presentation is up for display. The back wall remains totally blank with a placard explaining that the intended work was “not approved to be shown at this time.”

Two full-length nude photographs which Joseph created for one wall of the gallery have been left unused and away from the public eye.

They go on to explain that there was some confusion about the standards for what could be displayed.

While nude art has been shown before on Covenant’s campus, Hall explained that unlike a sculpture or a painting, a photograph requires a fully unclothed model, making it inappropriate for display on campus.

Really? That’s the standard of propriety?

513RKRK9X5L SL160The report does a good job of displaying the poorly founded thinking of most evangelicals in relation to the topic of Christian modesty as it relates to art. It seems that when Christians interact on this subject, no one bothers to ask how various degrees of artistic undress comport with biblical standards of modesty and sexual propriety. Rather, it appears that we simply assume the secular standard of what constitutes propriety in art, and then we may try to incorporate some connection to scriptural “ideals” afterward. Maybe.

That’s just backwards. We ought to start with biblical standards of modesty, and then develop our view of what constitutes a proper representation of the human form in art based on that foundation.

To help reorient our thinking away from the lewdness of the world’s standards of propriety and back toward biblical thinking on modesty, I recommend a small book by Jeff Pollard entitled Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America.

[HT: The Aquila Report]

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Thinking Biblically About Church Architecture

Laon.jpgIn the (http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/video/architecture/) for Renewing Your Mind, Dr. Sproul emphasises the following principle.

Every form is an art form, and even the way we construct buildings says something about our worldview. Throughout the history of the church, architecture has revealed something about man’s concept of God and of worship.

At the outset Dr. Sproul corrects any misconceptions that may arise regarding God’s omnipresence. We are not to think that God resides only in specific locations. Neither are we to think that only certain locations are appropriate as places for worship. In the New Testament, location is a secondary matter in relation to worship. A congregation may rightly assemble for worship in any location that will allow them to engage together in the sacred acts commanded by God.

To give a biblical context to the concept of church architecture as a Christian art form, Dr. Sproul develops the concept of sacred space as we find it revealed in the Old Testament, pointing out that it is the manifestation of the holy presence of God that shaped this concept of sacred space. It is this understanding of the holy presence of God that informed classic Christian architecture as we find it, for example, in the majestic cathedrals of Europe. Continue reading

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Today in 1946

From [Wikipedia](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Selected_anniversaries/July_22): ‘1946 — A bomb [destroyed](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel_bombing) the headquarters of the British Mandate of Palestine at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing about 90 people and injuring 45 others.’

This was a terrorist attack against the British and Palestinian government agencies located in the building. The surprising thing to realise for us ‘history challenged’ Americans is that this terrorist bombing was carried out by an underground Jewish paramilitary organisation called the [Irgun](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irgun) which advocated [‘Revisionist Zionism’](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revisionist_Zionism) prior to the establishment of the modern Israeli state.

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Quotable Machen

Dr R. Scott Clark shared this quotation from J. Gresham Machen and I find it both profoundly true and deeply moving.

The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life — nay, all the length of human history — is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that He has revealed Himself to us in His Word and offered us communion with Himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whosoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth — nay, all the wonders of the starry heavens — are as the dust of the street.

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Overtreated: More medical care isnt always better – Yahoo! News

***This is something we’ve suspected for quite some time. -VRH***


Overtreated: More medical care isnt always better – Yahoo! News
.

> More medical care won’t necessarily make you healthier — it may make you sicker. It’s an idea that technology-loving Americans find hard to believe.

> Anywhere from one-fifth to nearly one-third of the tests and treatments we get are estimated to be unnecessary, and avoidable care is costly in more ways than the bill: It may lead to dangerous side effects.

> It can start during birth, as some of the nation’s increasing C-sections are triggered by controversial fetal monitors that signal a baby is in trouble when really everything’s fine.
It extends to often futile intensive care at the end of the life.

Read more at [Yahoo! News](http://yhoo.it/bVtVK7).

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