A Word About “R2K” (4): The Church

So far in this series I have attempted to set the background of the current controversy over the so-called “R2K” ethic, sketch the history of the Reformed approaches to the twofold kingdom, and discuss the question of rhetoric, i.e., how should we discuss these issues. In this final installment, I wish to discuss some of the practical implications of the way the controversy is being conducted within the confines of my own federation (denomination) of churches (URCNA). In recent weeks things have become somewhat heated but only in one classis (regional assembly) of our churches, classis Michigan. Most of the churches in the classis are in Western Michigan and proximate to Grand Rapids, the hub of cultural and political conservatism in Michigan.

A Storm Brewing In Michigan

There have been rumblings and indications for several months (or more) online, on social media, and in the email list for URCNA pastors that something was forthcoming and now it is before us. The Synod of the URCNA convenes in 12 days in Buffalo, NY. There the churches will consider an overture from Classis Michigan that seeks to address the controversy via “pastoral advice.” This is a document which gives guidance to the churches, but which is not binding (e.g., the URCNA adopted Nine Points of Pastoral Advice on Justification regarding the self-described Federal Vision theology and other errors).1

At the same time, in advance of synod, there have been sermons and articles written in what a cynic might construe as a campaign to persuade members of the URCNA and delegates to synod to consider the idea that Christ rules his kingdom sovereignly, in two distinct spheres, to be a serious error. One notable sermon, from August 2022, caught the attention of a number of URCNA ministers when the preacher claimed that laity in the URCs are being, “confused with a false understanding” of the law and the gospel by “false teachers.” He said, “They portray the law and the gospel as contrarians, as competitors and they pit the two, as it were, against each other just like the Marcions [sic] of old did of heresy.” He alleged that the same is true of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He attacked what many of us regard as the Reformation distinction between law and gospel (and the teaching of our confessions) as “crafty” and preachers as “deceptive” who teach an “enmity against the law of God.” He charged unnamed URCNA pastors with “changing the gospel into something else.” He claimed that the same preachers get justification right, but “then they go ahead and say that since it [sic] the promise and not the law that saves we have to abandon the law. And they become antinomians, they become enemies of the law, discarding the law altogether.” At the center of his concern, however, is what he characterized as “false understanding and the false doctrine, the so-called radical two kingdom doctrine.” This he said, is “not the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is another gospel. There I said it—with all the possible repercussions and consequences. It is another gospel. Because that’s clearly not what the Bible teaches.” This way of speaking and teaching, he said, leads to a “sanctification-less message.” The questions raised and allegations made were public, but they are being pursued ecclesiastically by the assemblies of the church. These direct quotations suffice to give the reader a sense of the rhetoric in some quarters.

Fallacies And Idiosyncrasies

More recently, in September, another URCNA minister, Doug Barnes, published an article in The Outlook (Sept/Oct 2022) which responded to one of his critics, noting that the critic had been influenced by what he characterized as “the radical two kingdoms view.” He characterized “R2K” thus: “…the R2K view divides life into two kingdoms: the spiritual realm and the secular realm. The spiritual kingdom is eternal, whereas the secular realm is temporary, having no eternal import.” The gospel, he continues, “according to R2K advocates, stands at the heart of the spiritual kingdom.” Like our preacher quoted above, he also writes, “I discovered that proponents of the R2K are the ones skewing the gospel.” The first example he cites for this approach is something I published in this space in 2017.

The Good news is the message that Jesus Christ is God the Son incarnate, who obeyed in the place of his people, suffered for them, was crucified, dead, and buried for them, was raised for their justification, and is coming again. We receive Christ and his benefits by God’s free favor (grace) alone, through faith (resting, receiving, trusting) in Christ alone. That is the gospel. Any doctrine that denies this message is a “gospel issue.”

The article continues by articulating the historic Reformation (and Reformed) distinction between law and gospel. The way I spoke in the article is the way our Reformed forebears spoke and, more significantly, it is the way we speak in our confessional standards and thus the reader might imagine my surprise to see that quotation being cited as an example of error. I have not subscribed to The Outlook for a while, so I did not see it until someone sent to it me, but the parent organization, Reformed Fellowship Inc., has published, in booklet form, for 15 years, a series of articles I wrote for that publication responding to the Federal Vision: Baptism, Election, and the Covenant of Grace. In that very booklet (e.g., pp. 4–5, 18–19) I advocated the substance of the view which at least one Michigan preacher and now Barnes now finds problematic. In his review, Barnes did not note the context of the passage he quotes, nor does it seem that he bothered to see if I had said anything else about how to characterize or define the gospel. In fact, I have. In 2004 I published an essay on this very topic, “When The Good News Becomes Bad.” It has been online for a decade or more. In it I articulated the historic Reformed distinction between law and gospel, but I also accounted for the fact that there is a broader sense of gospel and a narrower sense. Rev. Barnes seems to have missed that nuance in his research nor does he seem to have consulted the chapter, “Letter and Spirit: Law and Gospel in Reformed Preaching,” in R. Scott Clark, ed., Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry: Essays by the Faculty of Westminster Seminary California (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2006), 331–63 or “Law and Gospel in Early Reformed Orthodoxy: Hermeneutical Conservatism in Olevianus’ Commentary on Romans,” in Jordan J. Ballor, David S. Sytsma and Jason Zuidema eds., Church and School in Early Modern Protestantism: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Muller on the Maturation of a Theological Tradition (Leiden: Brill, 2013). For more on the historic Reformed and Reformation distinction between law and gospel, see the resources below.

Barnes goes on to say, “[m]ost R2K advocates emphasize that the gospel thus defined alone has a place in the pulpit.” He then quotes yours truly again, this time from an essay I wrote against the intrusion of “woke” or critical theory into the agenda of the church:

The church, as a visible institution, as the embassy of the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven, has no social agenda for the wider civil and cultural world. To use a World War II analogy, as an institution, the church as such is more like Switzerland than it is like Germany. Christians are free to form what the Dutch Reformed used to call societies (committees, organizations) to achieve this end or that but they are not free to impose those agendas on the visible, institutional church by way of programs or in public worship. Christian organizations must stand or fall on their own, without the endorsement of the visible church.

Again, I stand by these words. The church, as an institution, is a spiritual institution with a very definite mission. Christians, however, are free to organize and advocate as they will, within the confines of God’s moral law. Barnes responds to my argument from the silence of the New Testament about the social issues facing the Roman empire in the first century by arguing “sizable chunks of John’s Revelation condemn the wicked works of the Roman government, while Daniel was not shy about calling out the social sins of the four world empires. Amos and Isaiah, among others, were bold in addressing the social sins of the nations that surrounded Israel.”

He also complains that I do not account for places in the New Testament where Scripture addresses “all manner of sins.” With regard to his appeal to the Revelation perhaps Barnes is assuming a particular stance regarding the dating of the Revelation or how to interpret symbolic language, but as I understand it, the Spirit, through the Apostle John, is instructing the churches of Asia Minor (and the rest of us) as to the nature of inter-adventual life. I have never read the Revelation the way Rev. Barnes seems to assume to be obvious. Certainly, we may learn from the OT prophets (major and minor) and one of the things we should learn is to whom they were speaking (God’s drifting national people) and to whom those words apply now, the visible church. I cannot imagine how Barnes concludes that I think that Reformed preaching should not remind God’s people about the sins of the nations, nor can I imagine how he thinks that his conclusion follows from his premises. Perhaps just as he operates from a different hermeneutical handbook than I, he also has his own rules of logic?

Nothing I wrote, in the passage Barnes quotes (or anywhere else) could be construed by a fair-minded reader as forbidding preachers from preaching the law—which is the first part of “the law and the gospel”—nor could anyone look at my writing and conclude that I think that preachers should not apply the law to congregations in their pedagogical, civil, and normative uses or even apply it to the broader culture. There are dozens of articles on the HB (and elsewhere) on the application of the law in all three uses and to multiple audiences. What Barnes seems not to understand is my argument that the church as an institution, may not be harvested for a social agenda unless he equates preaching and applying God’s holy law with one social agenda or another and the harnessing of the visible church to that agenda. Frankly, Barnes’ essay reveals that he simply does not seem to grasp the traditional Reformed position on the third use of the law and thus he seems to impute his impoverished understanding to me and then proceeds to critique it. What we have here is a series of straw men, which he proceeds to knock down.

Perhaps the most telling example of his inadequate understanding of the historic Reformed approach to the distinction between law and gospel is his quotation and application of Acts 20:27, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” and says the phrase, “‘the whole counsel of God’…addresses matters encompassing all of life.” Amen! That is not in question, but the issue is how? The traditional Reformed way of understanding Paul’s expression, the “whole counsel of God” is as shorthand for the law and the gospel. Notice how Calvin interpreted this phrase in his 1552–54 commentary on Acts:

I do not doubt but that he had respect unto the place of Ezekiel, where God denounces that his prophet shall be guilty of the blood of the wicked unless he exhorts them unto repentance (Ezek 3:18, 20.) For upon this condition he appoints pastors over his Church, that if anything perish through their negligence, an account may be required at their hands; yea, that unless they show the way of salvation without guile and crooks, the destruction of those who go astray may be imputed unto them. Those men must needs be wonderful dull whom such a sharp threatening cannot awake. Wherefore the Epicurean impiety of the Popish clergy the more accuses itself, where, though they cry and brag of their honorable titles, yet they think no more upon giving of an account for so many souls which perish, than if there sat no Judge in heaven, neither is their ungodliness any whit less filthy before the whole world, in that being given only to devour sheep, they usurp the name of pastors. Furthermore, the Lord shows how dear souls be to him, seeing that he so sharply punishes the pastor’s sluggishness for their destruction; but we see what small account many men make of their own salvation, for which even God himself bestows to be careful.2

As Calvin understood “the whole counsel of God,” it referred to a call to repentance and the preaching of the “way of salvation without guile and crooks…” i.e., the law and the gospel. God’s Word does speak to all of life but, like Calvin, we do well to be careful to observe how. For Calvin, in Acts 20:27, Paul was speaking chiefly about salvation and Calvin mentioned nothing about a social agenda or even the ills of the surrounding (nominally) Christian world. Perhaps Barnes should also give Calvin lessons on how God’s Word speaks to the whole of life because he too seems to have missed that memo.


All of this is background to the Overture 12 from Classis Michigan, asking the Synod of the URCNA to adopt pastoral advice regarding “the Relationship of Church, State, and Family,” (hereafter O12).3 The preamble to O12 observes the pervasive “moral and cultural decline” in the USA and Canada (the URCs are located in both countries). It expresses concern about what I previously characterized as the end of Christendom, that North America is “…renouncing, both in law and in socio-cultural life, its historic Christian heritage in pursuit of liberty without the Gospel, justice without God’s law, truth without the Scriptures, flourishing without obedience, atonement without the cross, love without faithfulness, peace without repentance, salvation without Christ, and a world without creational norms.”

That this is so is undisputed. What is in question is how the visible, institutional church, as Christ’s representative institution on the earth should respond. O12 calls the visible church to “set forth, to all powers and authorities, the claims of Christ and the freedoms possessed by His Kingdom people, the church (Matt. 28:18-20; Eph. 3:10; Col. 2:15; 1 Tim. 1:9-11, 17; 3:15; 1 Pet. 2:16-17; 5:11).” The audience for O12 seems not to be the church but the powers and principalities of this age. The ground given for this address to the magistrate is Matthew 28:18, Hebrews 12:28–29, and Matthew 10:26–33. This paragraph seems particularly revealing of the intent of the classis:

In a cultural context in which ultimate authority is being seized by – or readily surrendered to – the state, imperiling our sacred obligations and exposing both government and citizens to divine judgment, we must be mindful that freedoms not defended are soon forfeited. It is the obligation of the church to oppose whatever seeks to usurp ultimate authority, lovingly protecting our neighbors from enslavement to tyranny.

We did not see this sort of language coming from the assemblies of the church pre-Covid. That O12 comes from Western Michigan is significant since the governor there imposed a strict lockdown, provoking a strong reaction in many quarters. This language seems to reflect that reaction. Ironically, it is as a proponent of a twofold kingdom analysis of Christ and culture that I have advocated for and defended the liberty of the churches over against unconstitutional orders by health authorities and others. For more on this see the resources below.

The grounds for O12 are significant and they help us to understand the intent of the overture:

1. Serious cultural errors and a broad moral decline presently are infecting and marginalizing the church, such that our civil society is renouncing, both in law and in socio-cultural life, our historic Christian heritage.

2. Increasingly the state is imperiling our God-given obligations and exposing our government and citizens to divine judgment.

3. These developments have sown confusion among the churches regarding the relationship between church and state, the proper submission due to governing authorities, and the boundaries belonging to the family, the church, and the state. The need to apply Scripture and our Confessions to our contemporary context is important for the unity of the churches on these significant matters.

I will address these grounds in the comments on the nine points below:

1. Jesus Christ claims and owns total authority over the nations as the Creator and Ruler of the kings, judges, and governors of the earth (Ps. 2:7-12; Ps. 110; Luke 23:3; John 19:11; Acts 17:7; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:15-17; 1 Tim. 1:17; Rev. 1:5).

The rhetoric of the overture reminds one more of that of the Covenanters regarding the “crown rights of King Jesus” and the “Mediatorial Kingship of Christ” than it does that of the Apostle Paul. There is no question whether Christ owns and claims authority over all nations. What is at issue is how he has ordained to administer that authority. According to Calvin and many of his Reformed orthodox successors, Christ does so through his twofold kingdom. Are our brothers in Michigan accounting for that distinction?

The congregations of Western Michigan did suffer but were they jailed or martyred? The Apostle Paul was unjustly handled and jailed—and he did finally invoke his civil rights (Acts 25:11)—but he did not declare the mediatorial kingship of Christ.

2. The one, holy, catholic (i.e. universal), and apostolic church was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ long before our contemporary temporal authorities came into existence, and the church grows and remains until the return of Christ, even when the nations where she is found crumble (Matt. 16:18; Mark 3:13-19; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:7-13; Col. 1:18; Belgic Confession Art. 27).


3. The church of Jesus Christ does not have her position in the nation assigned to her by the permission of civil government, but jure divino – she has her own organization, and she possesses her own office-bearers (Matt. 10:1-15; 18:15-20; 28:18-20; Acts 14:23; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 6:1-7; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:9-13; Belgic Confession Arts. 30 & 31; URCNA Foundational Principles 3, 6, and 12).

Amen. Perhaps my brothers in Michigan are more amenable to a twofold kingdom analysis than some of their rhetoric would lead us to believe?

4. The authority of the state and the authority of the church exist side by side, instituted by God according to the purpose and means assigned by God and in service to God, as recognized in the Scriptures. The magistrate is instituted by God and is endowed with power, in order that it, on its part and within the limits set for its authority, may maintain and promote the flourishing of human life and its development as a society pleasing to God in agreement with the law of God (Mark 12:13-17; Acts 5:29-32; Rom. 13:1, 4; 1 Cor. 6:1-7; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9-11; 1 Tim. 2:1-4; Belgic Confession Art. 36).

The language of “flourishing” comes from the neo-Kuyperian school of rhetoric. The verb “to flourish” does not occur in our confession. Thus, it has the status of an opinion or that of social theory, but it has no place in an ecclesiastical document.

We should also be careful not to assume any sort of American-Israelite view of the USA or any other post-theocratic nation. The nation of Israel was the last theocratic state as far as Christians are concerned. God has made no national covenant with any other.

5. The church shall recognize and honor the magistrate in its God-given power and service by faithfully proclaiming the full demands of the Word of God, both for the office and life of the magistrate and for that of its subjects; and by being mindful of the apostolic injunction to make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all men, including kings and those in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; see also Ezra 6:10; Jer. 29:7; 1 Pet. 2:17; Belgic Confession Art. 36).

Amen. It might have been helpful here too for the brothers to remind us all of what we confess about the fifth commandment in Heidelberg 104, “That I show all honor, love and faithfulness to my father and mother, and to all in authority over me; submit myself with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction, and also bear patiently with their infirmities, since it is God’s will to govern us by their hand.” In O12 are the brothers “bearing patiently with the infirmities” of Governor Whitmer et al.?

6. The magistrate, under penalty of forsaking its proper office and falling into tyranny, should forbear assuming the right and power of the only King of the church, Jesus Christ, who from heaven rules and protects and saves His church. The church with its officers, in all that has been given and entrusted to her, owes allegiance and responsibility to Christ alone, and shall for the coming of His kingdom and the overthrow of the kingdoms of antichrist have her expectations fixed alone upon the power of His Spirit and the revelation of His glory. (Ps. 2:7- 9; Dan. 2:44; Rev. 2:4-5; Rev. 11:15; Rev. 20:7-10; Belgic Confession Arts. 27 & 36).

Tyranny is a great evil and our Reformed forebears, e.g., Theodore Beza (1519–1605) and others in our tradition opposed it mightily (on this see the resources below). Nevertheless, this article is arguably as indebted to Protestant Resistance theory as it is to Scripture or the Confession. We would do well here to remember that the author of our confession, Guy de Bres (1522—67) chose martyrdom over rebellion. He had the opportunity to rebel against the city of Antwerp and thereby to be delivered from death. He chose death because he believed that rebellion against the magistrates in Antwerp, even though what they were about to do was wicked in the sight of God and all righteous men. What this means is that good and godly men, formative influences on our theology, piety, and practice disagreed in theory and in practice over the question of resistance to unjust magistrates. That very fact urges us to be moderate in our rhetoric about and to the civil magistrate.

Here again, the twofold kingdom analysis of Christ and culture helps us as we, as citizens of the secular polity seek to uphold natural liberties. One of the classical functions of Reformed natural law theory is to resist tyranny.

7. The church must fulfill its obligation freely and fully to preach and teach the Law and Gospel of Jesus Christ, proselytize, establish churches, and disciple those who wish to follow Christ, despite any form of censorship or penalties imposed by temporal civil authorities. We reject all false doctrine asserting that the church must surrender the content or form of her message to the prevailing ideological and political convictions of our day. The Christian church is in all things to acknowledge and declare the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, whose Word upholds all things. The civil magistrate is called to protect the preaching of the Gospel and all the holy service of God with all the means given to it by God, in order that freedom of conscience to serve God according to His Word be guaranteed and every anti-Christian power which would threaten the church in the exercise of her holy ministrations be resisted and prevented (Psalm 82; Matt. 28:18-20; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Tim. 4:1-5; Belgic Confession Art. 36; Canons of Dort Head 2, Art. 5).

We confess as much in Belgic Confession articles 27 and 28 but what is less clear, based upon the rhetoric emanating from at least a couple of places in Western Michigan, is whether we agree about what we mean when we say, “law and gospel.” In light of the rhetoric appearing in the pages of the The Outlook and proceeding from certain pulpits in the classis, it would behoove the brothers to be perfectly clear by what they mean by what has become, sadly, a disputed phrase.

It is good to see that the brothers reject “all false doctrine asserting that the church must surrender the content or form of her message to the prevailing ideologies and political convictions of the day.” Does this mean that they disagree with brother Barnes’ article? After all, this language would seem to mean that the church, as an institution, may no more become hostage to the cultural-political agenda or ideology of the middle-class right than it may of the upper-class left in America.

8. The church and her members must remain committed to meeting in person for religious worship, prayer, the study of the Bible, or any other purpose necessary to her mission in spite of disturbance or interruption from any persons. The sacred duties to assemble for worship and engage in Christian ministry are divine obligations laid down in Holy Scripture and should be recognized and protected by civil authorities. Christians have the obligation to join with the assembly of Christ’s church wherever God has established it, even if civil decrees forbid it and death and physical punishment result (Ps. 92:1-2; Psalm 100; Heb. 10:19-25; Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 38; Belgic Confession Art. 28).

As a resident of a very blue state, which was locked down harder than Michigan, I understand the frustrations of the brothers which come to clear expression in this article. Nevertheless, the Church of Christ should speak to ecclesiastical matters and should speak very cautiously to matters of public policy beyond its vocation and authority. It seems clear now, in hindsight, that the public health authorities overreacted to the Covid pandemic, but does that overreaction license the assemblies of the church to make declarations like this? What if, God forbid, the bubonic plague should break out again? In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the magistrates cleared out entire towns, including the churches. Are there no circumstances in which the magistrate might limit or restrict the ability of the church to meet? In San Diego County it is wildfire season. At times authorities issue evacuation orders. Does the magistrate have the right to make such orders that might even temporarily affect the ability of the visible church to meet?

9. Parents in Christian churches must continue to disciple, educate, and catechize their children in the faith and confession of the church and lawfully resist all persecution, reprisal, or the seizure of their children by the state. We reject the false ideology that beyond its God-ordained and limited sphere as a ministry of public justice, the state should become sovereign over human life and so presume to fulfill the vocations of the family and the church (Eccl. 2:24-26; Eccl 3:12-14; Daniel 1; Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Days 1 & 13; Belgic Confession Art. 36).

Again, my brothers seem to be embracing a twofold kingdom analysis of Christ and culture, insofar as they are recognizing that there are distinct spheres in which entities are limited.


The question that keeps arising as I work through these points is not whether we all agree that there are, in nature, divinely ordained limits on the authority of the civil magistrate but whether O12 sufficiently recognizes the divinely ordained limits upon the visible, institutional church? In article 17 of our church order we all agree: “In all assemblies only ecclesiastical matters shall be transacted, only in an ecclesiastical manner.” In O12, have the brothers confined themselves to speaking in an ecclesiastical manner to “only ecclesiastical matters?” It seems fairly obvious to me that their frustration with the state of the world and the collapse of the culture permeates this overture. Further, has the rejection of the old distinctions by the neo-Kuyperians led to confusion about the marks, vocation, and authority of the visible church? These are important questions with which Synod Niagara shall have to deal carefully and prayerfully.


1. For more on this document and what it intends to say, see the following resources: Explaining the Nine Points of Synod Schereville

2. John Calvin, Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles, 2 vols. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 2.252–53. The spelling and vocabulary have been modernized for readability.

3. O12 begins on p. 103 of the provisional agenda.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.



  1. Dr. Clark: Between the “Side B” controversy of the PCA and the “R2K” controversy of the URCNA, do you see one as having greater potential for harm to its respective denomination?

  2. One must wonder if Barnes’ failure to accurately portray 2K is due to a lack of reading those whom he is criticizing, care in reading, poor comprehension, or lack of interaction with those whom he disagrees–or a combination? He certainly has had much time to read, understand, and interact with those against whom he is making false judgments, for he has been criticizing 2K for (at least) the last decade:


    In 2010 Rev. Barnes posted the following comment on this blog (context: FV in the URC):

    “For myself, I find it helpful to interact with those with whom I disagree. I find that it can be helpful in more fully understanding what they are saying.”

    Has Rev. Barnes heeded his own words?


  3. Every MI state Executive Order I read–and I had good reason to acquaint myself with these–promulgated by the heavy-handed authoritarian MI governess, who was not above ignoring the same official dictat when it suited her personal desire, contained explicit language EXEMPTING her EOs from enforcement on religious institutions.

    Every single EO, including those that limited public gatherings to a handful of people, appeared determined to avoid a US Constitutional challenge if only on the matter of religious liberty. I note the distinction, because there were states like CA in which no such recognition seems to have been given, and where legal challenges (whatever one may think of them) resulted in belated relief for the religious institutions on US Constitutional grounds.

    Many congregations chose a path of formal submission to state authority (an Erastian approach, as opposed to formal reception of state advisement for consideration). This led in the long run to internal conflict, chafing, and finally to a kind of vocal rights-assertion that is still (unfortunately) based on a perception that the church through its members is a state-constituency. O12 seems to be addressing earthly powers, because some folks want the church to speak up as a secular society stakeholder.

    That’s too bad.

    • I think the church can and should have a voice but it should be done in a lawful and peaceful manner without a sense of entitlement especially when faced with an emergency scenario no matter how sketchy it sounds. But we may have to think about the precedents that have been set and how we may appropriately react and respond. A political response is not the way to go. We may reference the Constitution but God is our refuge.

    • Marsh, you make an excellent point about, “some folks wanting the church to speak up as a stakeholder in civil society.” I think they would like the church to advance a social gospel of “human flourishing.” To these folks the gospel is not only about spiritual salvation but also about the transformation of society through political action. It looks like a species of moralism which always appeals to the law as a way to make people do the right thing. In their view, unless you are also advocating for social improvement as part of the gospel, you are not truly preaching the gospel. They insist on not separating law and gospel or spiritual and civil, because they want to add the requirement of working for social change to faith alone. Like all moralists, they want to make faithFULNESS, to the cause of social improvement, rather than faith alone, a necessary part of preaching the gospel.

  4. Pastor Clark, stand your ground, I think the only thing that made me pause for a second (from an earlier part) was the reaffirmation of a spiritual and a secular realm, but I totally agree that this is our reality. We should live quiet, moral, industrious lives.

    The one benefit of me being a veteran conspiracy realist is I won’t get seduced by the political circus or some MAGA crusade. But I’ll try to keep that part to myself.

    I came to the OPC by way of the NRC (hyper Calvinism via marriage) by way of nominal RCC. When I come across the Spanglers, the (Nick) Barnes, and other Geneva Commons types on the fringes of my current denomination it makes me cringe. None of us are perfect but only some of us are dangerous….. albeit not in a physical sense.

    • AJ,

      The distinction between the sacred and the secular is a ancient and good distinction. It might help if we distinguish further between the secular and secularism. The latter is an ideology that says that only the secular is valid or good. As Christians we affirm that God is sovereign over all things, including the secular realm and the sacred.

      For more on this distinction see the resources (above) underneath the essay. There is a library of essays explaining the history and use of this distinction.

  5. I am slightly confused; is there a problem with the first block quote that I am missing? Is that NOT an accurate articulation of the gospel? Is there a way to link the original article so we can try to understand his complaint better? Is the problem just that he seems to think your POV is that this is ALL that is to be heard from the pulpit,and nothing more? It seems too ridiculous a complaint, surely he is also accusing you of more; kicking puppies or riding a broomstick at midnight, or something more subztantial?

  6. “As Christians we affirm that God is sovereign over all things, including the secular realm and the sacred.”

    Yes! I follow you…. thanks!

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