They Turned The Covenant Of Grace Into A Covenant Of Works (Or Why The Distinction Between Law And Gospel Matters)

Understanding The Duplex Regimen Would Also Help

…In replying to DeYoung, Kwon and Thompson could have replied in kind, foregrounding the theological questions raised by DeYoung. Indeed, they could easily have made the case that on the merits of DeYoung’s own theology he should be far more concerned about justice than he seems to be from his rhetoric. There are ample resources for making this case, some of which they already develop in their book. One might consider the work of Herman Bavinck, who despised American racism and warned against the dangers of colonialism in 1911. B. B. Warfield was, likewise, a keen critic of American racism, after growing up in a slave-owning home in ante-bellum Kentucky.

Moreover, it was only a few years ago that Jacob and Rachael Denhollander presented a paper at ETS arguing that penal substitutionary atonement actually provided an especially profound and powerful basis for the pursuit of justice and healing in cases of serious abuse. The point, in any case, is that given their common ecclesiastical home, it would have been easy (and effective, one hopes) for Thompson and Kwon to critique DeYoung on chiefly theological grounds.

Unfortunately, this is not what they chose to do. Rather than highlighting points of tension between DeYoung’s stated theological principles and his argument in the review, they shifted the terms of debate away from theology and toward sociology, arguing that DeYoung only thought he was engaged in a theological project. In reality, they say, he is engaged in a cultural project and the theological language he uses is merely an accessory to the culture he seeks to preserve. This move is already a bad one for Christians to make on principle, I think. There has been a breakdown of some sort when Christians arguing with other Christians tacitly ally themselves with the modernist project of casting the queen of the sciences down from her throne.

…What worries me is that while a properly Christian conception of racial justice seems to inherently trend toward reconciliation amongst brothers, sisters, and neighbors, the underlying logic and grammar of Kwon and Thompson’s thinking trends not toward reconciliation but a hardening and calcifying of cross-racial relations, such that they are forever and inextricably governed only by power claims. Read more»

Jake Meador | Racial Reconciliation and the Queen of the Sciences | Mere Orthodoxy | July 30, 2021

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10 comments

  1. I’d be grateful for bibliographic citations from Bavinck and Warfield re their criticisms of racism and imperialism.

    • Peter,

      I am unable to do this research right now but I have seen them. He is correct. I think the information is fairly widely available on the Internet.

      Eglinton has written this in re Bavinck. I’ve read Warfield on this somewhere. come to think of it, I have seen quotations from Warfield on this.

  2. In 1990, I was a member of a PCA church in Mississippi that had no minority membership. Across town was a large African Methodist church with only black members. Our elders were led by their consciences to reach out to the elders of the black church in the spirit of reconciliation. Both groups agreed that we should be united in Christ around the table of communion. After several meetings, however, both groups concluded that the doctrinal and practical issues were more important than presenting to the world a racially-unified church.

  3. The insight saying that Thompson and Kwon have moved from theology to sociology in their criticism of De Young is important. The two paradigms have conflicting teleology. Theology flows towards unity (assuming orthodox, biblical theology) while sociology flows towards power, influence, and earthly justice.

    • I absolutely agree on one level. I appreciate you.

      But there are some definitions of theology that are broad enough to include every other study, and sort of subsume them.

      John Frame says that theology is the application of God’s revelation to all of life. Applying God’s revelation to economics, history, or sociology has no necessary tension unless you’re doing the economics, history, or sociology wrong .

      Let’s try an analogy. If different areas of study are the things you see, then the application of God’s revelation is light that allows you to see. Rather than conflicting with them, the light (theology) reveals the things it shines on (economics, history, or sociology) .

  4. Thanks this is very helpful.

    Conclusion:
    Let me restate my original concern using your resources: I wanted to encourage sola scriptura without encouraging scriptura nuda.

    Background Reasoning:
    I don’t want to describe the problem as the field itself (theology or sociology). That would be begging the question. Instead, we can actually pinpoint the problem — it’s whether what they’re saying is true.

    Good theology results in good sociology (marriage, community, care for orphans & widows), solid economic practice (hard work, don’t steal, tithe). Since one results in the other, we can expect it to be helpful to distinguish between the two. But just because we make a distinction between the two does not mean they are necessarily in conflict with each other.

    I agree with you that Frame’s definition is subjectivist if you mean that this method is prone to confusing an action with its consequence; traditional theology with its application (sociology); the study of God with the study of man; the root with its fruit; mercy with justice; grace with nature; orthodoxy with orthopraxy, spiritual with material, the Gospel with the law; and special revelation with general revelation.

    RSC, I see that RRC (Williams, Pg 22) covers nuda scriptura as wrongly restricting the redemptive sphere to redemptive resources. This is very helpful to me. But I want to name the converse mistakes that I’m dealing with over here. Can you recommend a book or article that charts this?

    I’m just going to make this up over my coffee. My examples are intended to be harmless. Do you have any resources on this? Are there better terms for what I’m describing?

    Wrongly restricting the redemptive sphere to redemptive resources (nuda scriptura). For instance, I don’t want to restrict the use of cookbooks in Communion bread.

    Wrongly restricting the creation sphere to creation resources (nuda creaturae). For instance, I don’t want to teach my kids that keeping the law is merely a pragmatic concern of not getting caught.

    Wrongly imposing redemptive resources in the redemptive sphere (amicta scriptura). For instance, I don’t want to require fasting, or celibacy.

    Wrongly imposing creation resources in the creation sphere (amictae creaturae). For instance, I don’t want to require dance classes or 60 hour work weeks.

    • Joe,

      Comments infra:

      Thanks this is very helpful.

      Good theology results in good sociology (marriage, community, care for orphans & widows), solid economic practice (hard work, don’t steal, tithe). Since one results in the other, we can expect it to be helpful to distinguish between the two. But just because we make a distinction between the two does not mean they are necessarily in conflict with each other.

      I don’t understand how you’re using sociology. Given the usual sense of the word I don’t think your conclusion follows. If you’re talking about loving one’s neighbor, that’s not sociology. That’s ethics. Sociology is the study of people groups. Loving one’s neighbor is fulfilling the divine law.

      I agree with you that Frame’s definition is subjectivist if you mean that this method is prone to confusing an action with its consequence; traditional theology with its application (sociology); the study of God with the study of man; the root with its fruit; mercy with justice; grace with nature; orthodoxy with orthopraxy, spiritual with material, the Gospel with the law; and special revelation with general revelation.

      The application of theology is not sociology.

      RSC, I see that RRC (Williams, Pg 22) covers nuda scriptura as wrongly restricting the redemptive sphere to redemptive resources. This is very helpful to me. But I want to name the converse mistakes that I’m dealing with over here. Can you recommend a book or article that charts this?

      I’m not sure I agree with your interpretation of what I wrote. To what part of RRC are you referring?

      On sola scriptura:

      Resources On The Reformation Solas

      If you’re referring to As Far As the Curse Is Found, I’ve not read it. I’m a classically Reformed guy, not a Doyeweerdian. See these resources on the nature/grace distinction:

      Resources On The Nature/Grace And Sacred/Secular Distinctions

      I’m just going to make this up over my coffee. My examples are intended to be harmless. Do you have any resources on this? Are there better terms for what I’m describing?

      Wrongly restricting the redemptive sphere to redemptive resources (nuda scriptura). For instance, I don’t want to restrict the use of cookbooks in Communion bread.

      Wrongly restricting the creation sphere to creation resources (nuda creaturae). For instance, I don’t want to teach my kids that keeping the law is merely a pragmatic concern of not getting caught.

      I’m not a neo-Kuyperian. I don’t think Christians have unique insights into cooking or plumbing. Cooking belongs to nature (see above). Scripture speaks to the ethics of cooking and its significance generally (as it does to all things) but that’s it. Here are some resources:

      Resources On The Twofold Kingdom

      New Resources Pages On Common Grace And The Sacred/Secular Distinction

      Wrongly imposing redemptive resources in the redemptive sphere (amicta scriptura). For instance, I don’t want to require fasting, or celibacy.

      Wrongly imposing creation resources in the creation sphere (amictae creaturae). For instance, I don’t want to require dance classes or 60 hour work weeks.

      I don’t understand this point. I’m sorry.

  5. OK I’m going to try again. Please disregard if I still don’t make contact. I appreciate you and I will work through the links you posted.

    From google, “Sociology is the study of the development, structure and functioning of human society.” This includes marriage and care for those who can’t care for themselves, which are issues of loving neighbor. So parts of sociology include parts of law. I’m thinking of Rutherford’s Lex Rex as an example of good theology resulting in good sociology (structure and functioning of human society).

    When I followed the Frame citations in RRC as you suggested, page 22 says that “according to the Reformers, Scripture functions as the norm of faith and practice did not mean that Scripture was the sole resource of the Christian faith” and cites DH Williams. I take this to mean that although Scripture & theology is the norm of faith and practice sociology is also a resource of the Christian faith.

    But this is only one confusion between the two spheres and the problems I’m having are not described so I charted it out.

    In the chart in my previous post, I based the terms in contrast to “scriptura nuda,” which I took from RRC page 22, again cited to DH Williams. But a friend pointed me to the distinction between solo scriptura and sola scriptura (TableTalk Helopoulos). I’m going to try to use more pointed examples for clarity.

    Solo Scriptura overemphasizes Scripture in the redemptive realm. One way to do that is to cut theology off from sociology! An example besides the Thompson & Kwon criticism is when the Capstone Report on the McLean Bible Church implies that Christians shouldn’t study or teach sociology: “The solution to the ‘race’ problem in America is more Bible, not more sociology books. It is not the Bible plus a secular reading list, but sola scriptura.” To borrow from Helopoulos, we want to say that Scripture is the only rule of faith without saying it’s the only guide to faith. I put the discussion of the RPW in this category as well.

    Solo Creaturae overemphasizes nature in the creation realm. I’m thinking here of ethically sourced pornography, hedonism, pragmatism, consumerism

    But then we can cross the two fields as well which is where we get Moscow & St Louis.

    Dupla Scriptura overemphasizes Scripture in the creation realm. Just from a language standpoint, think of the title “Redeeming math.” No, that book is not a meditation on Trinitarian Redemption. This category would also include the transformationalist Christian agenda, Christian business and Christian nationalism.

    Dupla Creaturae overemphasizes nature in the redemptive realm. Here we have the social justice initiatives: renaming mercy ministries as justice ministries, advocating justice other than church discipline as part of Christian jurisdiction, teaching American history during children’s church, churches confessing moral guilt of slavery etc.

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