19 March 2017

Dominionist Scripture Twisting on Display

This article authored by a PCA pastor completely misrepresents the position of Two-Kingdom advocates, especially those within his own Reformed circles. Most of the Two Kingdom advocates in Reformed circles are actually Kuyperians and his criticisms are invalid. He falls into the classic straw-man argument, projecting 'dualism' on to people who aren't dualists. He accuses Two Kingdom theology of a world-abandonment mindset that no one actually advocates.


His handling of Scripture is dubious.  Many of these folks are exegetical contortionists. They pull of some amazing maneuvers and manage to get Scripture to somehow say the exact opposite of what's being posited. Somehow Paul is trying to tell the Philippians to focus on earthly things which pass away? I don't think so.
The point is to focus on heaven, lay up our treasures there for it is in the Celestial Glory that we find hope and solace. This perfectly accords with the teaching found in the Sermon on the Mount and the rest of the New Testament.
It is because our citizenship (and conversation) is in heaven that we can turn away from the struggles for worldly power, success and/or victory as defined by the world. We are called to set our minds on heavenly things. Somehow that's translated into conquer the culture in the name of heaven.
It's moot anyway as Ball would learn if he bothered to read and absorb the rest of the New Testament. The Church is on no path toward cultural victory. We are a remnant headed through the narrow gate. Worldly power and cultural attainments aren't even in the cards. They are nowhere on the horizon. The historical manifestation of Christendom should not be a cause for celebration. Rather it should send up red flags and sound a call of warning.
Vigilance and wisdom are how we think about the next generation of believers. We try to learn from the past and posture ourselves in a better position, prepared for the world's deceptions and onslaught. Ball's views so confuse the world with the Kingdom that the Church is left ill-prepared and is quickly seduced by the world's enticements. It succumbs to its false-glory and lies. History testifies to this in abundance. Even recent history in the United States makes this painfully clear.
It is not Two Kingdom theology which fails to take the covenant into account. Rather it is the very theology while Ball advocates. It is his model which confuses the world with the Church and blends the covenant with the culture. It is truly a theology of sacrilege. They would in good Judaizing fashion apply Old Testament law to the non-covenanted nations. This contradicts not only the New Testament's read of the Old, but even how Old Testament Israel and the Mosaic order were to relate to the other nations around them. The Philistines and Babylonians could build no temple, keep no Sabbath and even if they patterned their civil code on the Law of Moses, it was not covenantal. It would have been a counterfeit. They had no right to take the Lord's name on their lips. Such 'worship' if it had been attempted was abomination.
The Philippians passage puts out no hope for the transformation of this age, for any aspirations of cultural influence, let alone power. Hebrews makes it clear the Mosaic model is obsolete and annulled. The calling for Christians is to bear witness and to 'win' by taking up the cross and suffering humiliation. This message, so basic to the New Testament is not understood by the Dominionist faction. In fact they are quite hostile to the teaching of the Apostles as Ball makes clear.
Ironically it is Ball who promotes the theology that more or less resonates with what the Apostle is rebuking! It is the Judaized focus on worldly power, an attempt to build a temporal tactile kingdom in this age that is being rejected by the Apostle. Dominionism's glory is its shame. Focusing on earthly things, the emphasis of their so-called spirituality is worldly success, power and influence. The Philippians were dealing with the same Judeo-Hellenistic heresy that plagues much of the New Testament. Its modern manifestation is found most poignantly in the theology of Dominion, the default theological position of most people in the Reformed and Evangelical world. It finds its fulfillment in the very imagery of Revelation, the Apostate unfaithful Bride transformed into a Harlot, in union not with Christ, but a whore in league with the Beast powers of the world. The Christendom Ball dreams of is the nightmare envisioned by John.
Larry Ball should stick with being a CPA, it's his true calling and vocation. He can build his pathetic pseudo-kingdom crunching numbers and helping people find tax loopholes.
We grow tired of these silly and baseless attacks.


11 comments:

  1. Great article, brother. Just curious, have you read "The Benedict Option" yet? I'm sure you've heard of it? It's making all kinds of noise in American evangelicalism. The dominionist's and the leftist "cultural transformationalists" are decrying it as "retreatism", all the while ignoring that the author, Rod Dreher, is a thorough going sacralist himself. He recognizes that Christian's have lost the culture war, and in response, we should form a christian sub culture of sorts, until the nation is ready for the Gosple once again. In essence, this is the same thing I've heard many theonomists, such as Gary Demar, recommend, i.e. form a christian underground subculture, and when society collapses, we'll be there to pick up the pieces, or fill in the gap so to speak, due to having our own thriving culture that will be attractive to the lost, and once that happens, we can restore Christendom.

    It's actually worth checking out b/c Dreher gets a lot right in the book, albeit, for all the wrong reasons.

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    1. I have not yet read The Benedict Option but yes I've heard the buzz.

      I would say our response should be in terms of losing the culture war and so what now....

      But instead the counter-culture paradigm... which I'm not sure Dreher is advocating the same thing... is actually the norm for the Church.

      The Theonomists are split. I've written about this some, probably more on the other blog. There are those that believe the Dominionist cause must be fought to the bitter end and the posture must never be compromised.

      Others, following Rushdoony to some degree believe that this culture is destined for collapse. They believe in forming a remnant community, hoarding gold, breeding an army of Dominion warriors (I'm not kidding) and then when this culture falls they will rise from the ashes and become the leading lights of the newly ascendant golden age.

      There are many variations. Some put a Confederate-Agrarian spin on it.

      This is why Rushdoony's advice in light of the impending culture collapse was... Buy Gold.

      The Apostle Paul would weep.

      All of this adds to the confusion when you pick up sociological books trying to analyse the Christian Right. Some of these Dominionists and Theonomists get labeled as 'retreatist' but this is to profoundly misunderstand them. They are not counter-culture by strategy or design. This is but a tactic. A lot of unbelievers misunderstand the Christian Right, why some of them homeschool etc...

      They themselves have exploited this. Kevin Swanson wrote a book The Second Mayflower appealing to the Pilgrim iconography. And yet that was blatantly dishonest. The Pilgrims of 1620 were Separatists who were trying to create a remnant Christian community... which sadly took a Sacralist hue.

      The Massachusetts Colony Puritans were not Separatists in any sense. They are the City on a Hill folks. Swanson was being dishonest and tugging at Christian heart-strings to evoke an image... even if it wasn't remotely accurate. The Mayflower Pilgrims were trying to escape the very Theonomic Sacralism espoused by someone like Swanson.

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    2. Part of my renewed curiosity with the Puritans, including both the Congregationalist Independents and the Separatists, among others, was how the Separatists continued to exist. It seems to me that they possessed, along with most Puritans, a millenarian eschatological vitality, standing on the edge, so to speak. Of course this meant different things. It's complicated because I don't think they can be sorted easily into post-millenialists, pre-millenialists, or amillinialists, but they certainly had a powerful expectation that gave them strength and a sense of purpose.

      Perhaps, there's a defect in amillenialism, as it seems to always veer towards a type of sacralism, whether in prizing the penultimate order viz. Rome or in a backdoor re-entrenchment of the sacral in the Lutheran/Magisterial secularism leading to a love of the profane. In the latter, the holy disappears only to reappear as Vocation, the Capitalists' Invisible Hand, or something else. Amillenialism seems always to run out of gas. Maybe there's a more biblical premillenialism, like Irenaeus' or some early fathers', which has little resemblance to the lunacy of dispensationalism's tortured hermeneutics.

      What do you guys think?

      cal

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    3. There's an amil that functions as post-

      That's what is most common in Reformed circles. The Protestant Reformed Church (PRC)would be a definite exception. A lot of their stuff is bad, even really bad, but when it comes to Eschatology and a couple of other issues, they excel.

      They heavily criticise Kuyper and Common Grace. In fact this is the raison d'etre for their break with the old CRC. Some of what they say is right but in other respects their critique of Common Grace fails.

      Most of the Puritans and Congregationalists of the period were Historicists with a Postmil twist. This clouded their understanding of Revelation and Eschatology in general.

      Kline represents another healthy branch of Amil within the Calvinist spectrum. While he paid lip service to Kuyper when you read his books... he's quite open in his pessimism for This Age and his practical level common cause with Premils. He thinks they're wrong on the Kingdom but when it comes to how to live in This Age and what our expectations are... we Amils have more in common with them than the Postmils.

      When Amil gets tangled up in Dominion, transformation (even if they limit it), Vocation, and even an attempt to sanctify culture, they're functioning as Postmils.

      Nationalism is the idolatrous toxin that drags many into an abandonment of Pilgrim Eschatology.

      That's what's so strange with modern Evangelicalism. You have Disp Premils who are supposed to be the most pessimistic... after all Christ has to come back within a generation of 1948 or 1967, followed by the Great Tribulation...

      But now, they've largely embraced Dominionism. I don't care what their eschatology is regarding raptures and Israel... they're functional postmils.

      George Eldon Ladd is the one modern Premil that I really respect. He's basically an amil that due to Revelation 20 insists that he has to maintain a Premil position. But he shows that Premil can be oh-so-close to the Amil I espouse.

      Most Reformed Amils I know are only inches away from Theonomy. We have little in common. On Sunday morning I would probably rather hear a good Fundamentalist preacher that's Disp than an Amil Reformed guy who is a Kuyperian Dominionist.

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  2. Amillennialism lends itself quite well to 2K theology. In fact, I would say Amil/2K is much more biblically consistent than Premil/2K. And ironically, premil's, specifically dispy premil's, are some of the most sacralist Christian's in the world. I know guys who are postmillennial and don't come close to the dominionist rhetoric that many dispy premil's spew.

    With that said, Proto nailed it(as usual). Most Amillennialist's today have been heavily influenced by Kuyper. In my conversations with Kuyperian's who are Amil, they only pay lip service to eschatology, so I'm wondering if their dominionist impulse is more or less a product of American Christian culture more so than their eschatology?...

    Interestingly, and I would love to get some input on this, a huge chunk of the Kuyperian's I know are also heavily influenced by social justice, and lean much further left than the majority evangelical christian right. They love men like Cornell West, Anthony Bradley, RAAN, etc... Essentially, I don't see a difference between leftist Kuyperian's and right leaning Kuyperian's. Their foundation is the same, it just manifests itself differently due to specific political leanings.

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    1. Why would you say Amill fits with 2K theology best? If Augustine's CoG is 'the' tome on Amil, it doesn't have a great track record. Einhardt said it was Charlemagne's favorite book, and I'm inclined to believe him.

      While questions about the Millenium are interesting, all three orthodox segments agree that whatever 'now' is, it is the 'penultimate'. The real question is 'what' is the penultimate age and what should we do in it. Here, one can see much greater affinities between premil, postmil, and amil that take a triumphalistic stance. I don't even think postmil is the problem, it depends more importantly on what that means. Theoretically, postmillenialism does not have to involve culture-conquering, dominionism, or gaining power.

      I'm always worried for an Amill position that becomes a lazy, corroded, reactionary status-quo conservatism. Even the Jews were admonished to seek the peace of Babylon. This involves not merely standing by.

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    2. The Left Kuyperian wing in Dutch Reformed circles??? Are you talking about Calvin College and RCA and CRC folks?

      Or are you referring to Evangelical Left in general terms, the Jim Wallace types?

      If it's the latter, I don't think they would look to Kuyper for inspiration but that said, the whole Christian Left/Social Justice paradigm is exactly the same error, just on the other side of the political spectrum. In some ways they might be a little better in terms of trying to apply Christian ethics to society, but it's the same root problem and produces the same error.

      The whole Social Gospel movement of the 19th and early 20th century movement was really just a theologically liberal expression of Postmillennialism. They took the same principles and just ran them through a different filter... the other side of Scriptural imperatives that American Conservatives tend to ignore.

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    3. Augustine's CofG is a battleground. The Amils and Postmils claim it and him as their own. It's a tough call. In some ways it leans Amil, but Augustine himself was wildly inconsistent. I would say he didn't follow what he himself seemed to teach in the CofG. As great as he was he helped lay a lot of Constantinian groundwork when it comes to 'Christian' statecraft and culture.

      Then of course, there's the other issue. Did the RCC follow his teaching? They praise his name but in so many ways have rejected the majority of what he actually taught.

      Charlemagne's affection for the CofG, and if I recall Alfred of Wessex (the Great) was also appreciative of it... that suggests that either they misunderstood it (if CofG is Amil) or it's not really an Amil work.

      Then of course, as has been said, not all Amil is the Amil I (or some of the Anabaptists for that matter) espouse.

      Premil doesn't work with 2K because formally it does not recognise the Kingdom as being a present reality. That's the millennium which occurs after Christ's Return.

      The older Dispensationalists used to create a dichotomy between the KofG and the KofHeaven within the Gospels. Matthew, usually designated the 'Jewish' Gospel used Heaven to avoid the Divine Name.

      The Scofield Dispensationalists in typical hyper-literalist fashion argued they were two separate kingdoms. One was spiritual and the other the physical 1000 year reign in Jerusalem etc.

      Some went so far as to say that we're not in the New Covenant etc.

      GE Ladd framed Dispensationalism in terms of Already Not-Yet. I can't remember just now if he used those specific terms but the concept was there. So in that sense he could understand the Kingdom being present in a sense.

      The Premil/Amil affinity comes not so much in understanding the Kingdom... because we don't agree. But instead in how to live now, our expectations for this age. That's where there's a great gulf between these schools and the Post-mils.

      To elaborate your point (Cal) Amil is technically speaking Postmil in terms of chronology. You're right that it's really the question of what we are called to do. Triumphalism can invade all the millennarian positions though generally speaking it is the default in the Postmil.

      I've written about what I often call the Banner of Truth variety of Postmil. The Theonomists scornfully used to call the Pietistic Postmils. They looked for the golden age to come through revival, and were far less focused on culture transformation. That said, the Brits who embraced this way of thinking seem to be big fans of Empire and pine for it.

      So theoretically Postmil does not have to involve cultural transformation but generally speaking, that's the expectation. They can divide over the how and why but they're all looking for a Christendom-ideal.

      We can't 'stand-by'. Agreed. But aside from the Amish I know of no one who really is doing that. Everyone, even the Amish, has to go out and interact with the world. How we live is bearing witness and being salt and light. It need not involve social action or politics.

      I'm not into either but obviously I pay attention to the world around me and I certainly talk about it... and write about it a bit too.

      So all that is to say, I think you've made several valid points but.... 2K does work best within an Amil framework. At least if we're talking 'Kingdom' then Amil can accommodate that in a way Premil cannot.

      But I still resonate with many practical aspects of Premil thinking... even those most Premils today have abandoned them.

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    4. I use to think the princes of Europe and the Roman church must have misunderstood Augustine, but then the Magisterial Reformers many times appealed to Augustine for similar theo-political mechanisms. I think that, perhaps, Augustine is not as inconsistent on this issue. It was during writing CoG he was whipping up support for the magistrate to suppress the Donatists. Having read a little article, I also think Augustine was much more infatuated with Rome and Romanitas than Jerome, but that's another story.

      I suppose the problem is the lack of a millenarian fervency among Amill. Augustine's CoG was used to construct a stable Christendom, one that basically undid the suspense of not knowing when the 'End' was going to be effected in time. Christendom became a penultimate political order, but penultimate in the stable balance between life and life-after. Hence, one can look at Dante's Last Judgement or consider the doctrine of individual judgement. The entire social order is bled of its expectation, and what was penultimate was really a kind of ultimate, though a lower tier. So much so that we can refer to a kind of katechontic theology, where the emperor (or whichever prince) exists to prevent the end of time that a Turkish, Arab/Berber, Mongol, etc etc invasion would usher in. In secularized form, this was some of what the Nazis used to construct their place in Europe. If they didn't stop the Bolsheviks, the whole world (European) order would melt down. The End was to be delayed and feared, not welcomed and expected.

      My position is amill, but what at least the Postmil have is a sense of the End, though its one they usher in, but at least its joyful and restorative, not Apocalypse Now. I think its clear that the material world won't be annihilated, though transformed and transfigurated. I think Amils need a recovery of millenarian expectation and joy, combined with a sense of sanctification that is tied to learning to live the "fulfillment" now. Too often it seems that Amill is code for not believing in a parousia at all.

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    5. The Amil I advocate has a Premil flavour. It's what Theonomists call pessimistic. I'm with J Vernon McGee when he says it's a waste of time to polish brass on a sinking ship.

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  3. Proto, by leftist Kuperian's I'm referring to men like Anthony Bradley, RAAN(reformed African american network), Tim Keller, and yes, Calvin college. Also, Sojourner ministries would be another. These churches/groups aren't theologically liberal in the sense that they still adhere to orthodox Christian doctrine and still adorn the Gospel. They're not emergent or anything like that(Jim Wallace, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, etc)

    Granted, I live in Atlanta, so my context in much different than yours. I don't see much of the christian right until I leave the perimeter and venture into the outskirts of the city. The small town I grew up, and the church I grew up in(SBC), for example, is chalked full of christian right dominionists and neocons. But within Atlanta, almost every reformed church to a tee is leftist in their politics, but vigorously love Kuyper and promote "cultural transformation". They can be also be every bit as racist as some of those on the Christian right. In most cases, these churches are PCA or Acts29.

    In fact, I was attending a reformed church in Atlanta for the past two years that was 95% black, and when I communicated my stance on 2K theology(in the same sense that you adhere to it), I was met with fierce resistance and push back, and even alienated to the point where my wife and I had no more fellowship and had to leave.

    It's no skin off my back as we've since found a solid church that I'm more in line with theologically. But in any case, it's interesting to see how sacralism, kuyperianism, cultural transformatiuon, etc can cut both ways, essentially committing the same error, and getting similar results. It's two sides of the same coin.

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