Butcher, Baker, …

Scott Clark has a couple of excellent blogs (one, two) recently about the distinction between “a distinctively Christian way of doing p or q [versus] a distinctively Christian interpretation of p or q”. You can find a critical review over there, and a friendly review over here.

Here are my muddled (and probably somewhat self-contradictory) thoughts on the topic: I was thinking about this a little bit, and I was going along fine until I got to the following section:

Confessing these things, however, doesn’t elevate us from our status as fellow creatures who muddle through creation doing creaturely, proximate tasks (history or baking) with no distinctively Christian insights on how it ought to be done.

Hmmm, I thought, “do history”. There is certainly a non-Christian way to “do history”: understanding history as purposelessly cyclical. Similarly, there is a non-Christian way to “do literature”: Deconstruction (presupposing that words carry no actual meaning). One must also admit that there are professions that are non-Christian, like pimp, or drug dealer, or abortion doctor, or priest. So if there are non-Christian ways of doing, and there are non-Christian professions, wouldn’t definitions alone admit a category for “profession which may or may not be Christian”?

But then I realized I had fallen into exactly the trap Clark describes; what I describe above are Christian/non-Christian ways to interpret history, or to interpret literature. “Do history”, or “do literature” are not even meaningful terms.

In the end, I think it is generally a categorical error to attempt to classify common-grace endeavors as “Christian” vs. “non-Christian”. A critic tries to justify the label “Christian baker” as follows:

A Christian view of baking would take into nutritional aspects of baking, social justice aspects of baking, economic aspects of baking, aesthetic aspects of baking, and so on. There is a lot more to baking than sticking your hands in the oven!

However, being considerate (or inconsiderate) of nutritional/social/economic/aesthetic aspects of baking does not make it Christian baking vs. non-Christian baking (a non-Christian can certainly arrive at the same considerations in all those categories as a Christian could/would/should). A better category would be “sinfully baking” or “sinlessly baking”. Or, since total depravity renders the latter category empty, the question becomes “what aspects of my baking (or whatever profession) are sinful?” The vocations of the Christian and the non-Christian alike are equally subject to this question. The fact that the Christian’s professional sins are forgiven does not make his profession “Christian”.

In a sharp about-face, I’d like to close with a few common-grace endeavors that seem to me properly able to wear the label “Christian”. I’ll skip right over the trivial examples of “Christian Pastor” and “Christian Missionary”. How about “Christian book-store“? Is not doing a Christian book-store quite distinctive from doing Barnes & Noble? How about Christian Psychology? Is not doing Nouthetic Counseling (or if you don’t like that term, how about “Biblical Counseling”?) quite distinctive from doing secular psychotherapy? How about “Christian historian”? What happens to the doing/interpreting distinction when the doing of a profession is an inherently interpretive act? What if some historian actually gets paid to research historical facts, and interpret them in the light of Biblical truth?


16 Responses

  1. Great blog… I will check out the two blogs you referenced. check mine out if you care to.



  2. Rube,
    You’ve shown how this can be a hard subject to nail down. And you bring up good questions at the end. When I considered the “Christian” baker having to take into account fair wages for farmers I wondered if he could ever get a loaf out of the oven.

    As for your examples, I think a Christian book store owner runs his business the same way Mr. Barnes and Mr. Noble run theirs. The only difference is the kind of book on the shelf. Sure, you may only carry theological works, but are you any different in the way you conduct your business?

    But someone might say “My Christian bookstore is a mission.” To that I would ask, “really? Who comes into your store?” Just because you sell Bibles (or even hand them out free) doesn’t mean the reader will understand the Gospel. The Christian bookstore is just something that appeals to a specific kind of consumer.

    The Pastor and Missionary vocations don’t belong in this conversation. They are allowed to have a Christian way of doing what they do because they are called by God to do so. The Christian way is the only way to do what they do – if they do it right.

    Biblical Counselors –I can see some die-hard saying that there shouldn’t be such a vocation, that Biblical counseling should only take place in the Church (not just in the church building, but you know what I mean) and that it should only be done by pastors or elders. Others might say that it’s ok to have Biblical counseling outside of the church as long as an ordained someone is doing the counseling. I don’t quite know what to say about that one.

    As I don’t know what to say about the “Biblical Historian.” Because I’m tired and all wound up because the Tigers actually won an extra-inning game tonight.

    But good stuff for further discussion.

  3. “(a non-Christian can certainly arrive at the same considerations in all those categories as a Christian could/would/should). ”

    Did I suggest otherwise? If I say “A Christian view of community would include such things as loving your neighbor as your self, etc.” would you take that to imply that non-Christians can’t love their neighbors as themselves?

    The reason I think this is an important issue is not to put Christians in one group and non-Christians in another group, but rather because I think it is important for Christians to think critically about their daily activities, and that includes bakers and carpet cleaners, as well as historians and ministers.

  4. Of course it’s important. How does considering Baking to be Christianizable help achieve that end? It certainly helps to put Christians and non-Christians in separate groups though. Hence I offer instead of a distinction between “Christian” vs. “non-Christian” professions, the distinction “sinning” vs. “not-sinning”, which is a useful distinction for everybody (Rom 2:14-15).

    Rick, as for Christian Bookstores, I purposely linked to the best Christian bookstore in San Diego, where they self-consciously stock only “good”, Reformed books. I don’t think “way they conduct their business” is restricted to how they operate the cash register. Maintaining a stock of books is certainly part of the “way” a bookseller does business, and for a Christian bookstore, that involves doctrinal decisions, which I would never trust to a pagan. Moreover, “Christian bread” is indistinguishable from “non-Christian” bread, but a Christian bookstore is easy to distinguish from a non-Christian bookstore.

    The point is that running a “Christian” bookstore is not a more redeemed activity than running a regular bookstore. I’ll reiterate the (IMO) best point from the original post:

    “what aspects of my baking (or whatever profession) are sinful?” The vocations of the Christian and the non-Christian alike are equally subject to this question. The fact that the Christian’s professional sins are forgiven does not make his profession “Christian”.

  5. I think the introduction of some categories would be helpful here, because I’m kind of confused by some of the things being said. So I’ll just throw this stuff out there, and see what happens.

    There are, of course, two kingdoms. One is the realm of common grace/common curse, while the other is the realm of special grace. Obviously pastors operate in the latter realm, the latter kingdom as a matter of profession. Laymen, however, participate in the sacred realm of special grace primarily on Sunday, while the rest of the week they are operating in the common realm. Now this is not to say that they don’t continue to participate in the realm of special grace during the week – they do – but I’m speaking in terms of what realm they primarily operate in.

    The realm of special grace is characterized by the Christian religion, and all that that entails. The realm of common grace/common curse, however, is characterized by a simple pursuit of justice. It is principles of justice that govern the common realm.

    So when a non-believer or a believer act unjustly to you in the common realm, it is sin either way. “Love your neighbor as yourself”, however, is distinctively Christian. That goes beyond mere justice. Acting justly toward your neighbor is not the same as loving him as yourself. Acting justly toward your neighbor means something akin to doing no harm to others. Not harming someone is not the same as loving them, because love entails more than just not harming them.

    So while justice is the operating principle in the common realm for all people, Christians seek to go above and beyond that by seeking to exhibit not just justice to their neighbor, but love. Not just tolerance or live and let live. Not just not stealing, but being generous and kind. Not just not murdering and allowing to live, but nurturing. Christians are to consider others first. Christians are to be altruistic, generous, charitable, giving of themselves for the good of others. Non-Christians, however, cannot be and should not be expected to be like this. To be sure, many of them enjoy giving this appearance, because they want to appear to be good followers of our (God’s) law. But they cannot even begin to be truly altruistic. It’s impossible.

    True altruism means truly doing something without seeking benefits of some kind for yourself. There is only one category of person who is capable of any truly altruistic act, and that’s (elect and regenerate) Christians, and even for them whatever they do remains tainted with sin.

    Christians are justified by faith alone and not by works of the law. We do not get to heaven by helping little old ladies cross the street.

    Non-Christians may help an old lady across the street, but there is a matter of motive. Why do they do it? It is either to gain praise from men or from God, to feed their ego, or to otherwise reap some reward of some kind. This act is not altruistic at all, then, but only self serving.

    Christians can help a little old lady across the street in a truly altruistic manner, however, because they have been justified by the righteousness of another, namely Jesus Christ. Only those who are justified by faith alone can even begin to do something for someone else purely for the other person’s benefit to the exclusion of their own good. Only those who are justified by faith alone are able to even begin to exhibit anything that can be called love. This is because their reward is secure whether they do it or not.

    Objection: But Jesus died for us in order to win himself a bride. Isn’t that a selfish motive, and therefore not altruistic? Answer: Actually, everything God does is for his own glory primarily, everything else only serving those ends. So is God selfish? Yes in a sense he is. He is right to be so. His glory is the righteous end for anything. Jesus was given a bride, a people, a church because he truly deserved it. Unbelievers who think helping a little old lady across the street will get them into heaven are wrong because they are selfish, but also because their selfishness is unjust and wrong-headed. Do they suppose that helping a little old lady across the street is an act so utterly wonderful that fellowship with God is the natural result? Will helping this little old lady make them worthy to be in God’s presence? They seem to think so. And what does that say about God? For US, altruism is the rule for our interaction toward others. Ultimately this is to serve God. We serve others because they are made in the image of God. For God, his own glory is the rule. He serves his own glory. He saves us to manifest his mercy, so that he would be revealed, shown to be merciful. Saving us is not the primary goal. Our salvation SERVES God’s glory. That’s why Psalm 23 says “for his name’s sake”. But anyway, we can still say that Jesus died not to save himself, but to save his people, whom he truly loves. He didn’t deserve to die in any way. And actually there can be no better example of altruism. Sure, he won a reward, a people. But remember, God didn’t create man because he was lonely and wanted some company. Think about that.

    So, anyway, in the realm of common grace, it should be expected that non-Christians will be self serving, so what is enforced can only be justice. Love cannot be enforced. Only God can look on the heart. Man can only look on the action itself, not the motive. So unregenerate man can only operate according to principles of justice, not love.

    So now we see that while a Christian layman may operate in the common realm, yet because he is justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, we see that he begins to exhibit love, which is a thing of the realm of special grace. Love, in fact, is eschatological. Love as seen in us is a taste of the eschaton to come. It is an “already” in the midst of the “not yet”.

    1Jn 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
    1Jn 3:11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

    1Jn 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.

    1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

    1Jn 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
    1Jn 3:24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

    So those who think that the 10 commandments ought to be enforced throughout the realm of common grace are mistaken. They CANNOT be enforced on unbelievers.

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    What CAN be enforced, however, are some general principles of justice, which the 10 commandments teach us.

    What I just said depends on the fact that, for example, the command “thou shalt not kill” means more than simply not killing someone. As Jesus said, if you hate someone in your heart, you are already guilty of murder, or if you lust after a woman with your eyes you are already guilty of adultery. But this goes BEYOND mere justice. Jesus shows that while the 10 commandments do teach general principles of justice, there is more to it than that, because they legislate/mandate love. They govern the heart.

    Nowhere can this be more clearly seen than in the command not to covet. That is PURELY a heart condition. Some might say that we should govern unbelievers perhaps by the second table of the law only, prohibiting stealing, murder, adultery and lying. But it seems to me that those who would say such a thing have forgotten the 10th commandment, which teaches us the nature of the commandments themselves. It teaches us that the commandments are about more than outward justice and the appearance of justice. It teaches us that ALL the commandments are about the heart. It is LOVE for God and neighbor that is demanded of them. Not only are we prohibited from stealing someone else’s possessions or wife, we are prohibited from even wanting to do so.

    But since the 10 commandments also give us an idea of what love looks like on the surface, we therefore can glean some good principles of justice in a general sense. In other words, live and let live, do no harm to anyone, though you may defend yourself. Those who victimize others will themselves be victimized: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

    Justice, not love, governs the common realm. There is no possibility of love in the common realm. (Remembering that Christians who dwell in the common realm, nonetheless also dwell in the special grace realm.)

    Or why do you think that the theme that “love conquers all” is so common in secular media? They are fascinated with the idea of love, and they long to experience it and know it. They are obsessed with it, and they think that it comes only in a male-female package. They think that love is sex, in a word, the union of male and female.

    Imagine that. Unbelievers are seeking in sex what you have found in Christ. They will never find it there, of course. But they are looking for something other than mere justice. They want to love and be loved. But this is impossible. They, being unjustified because they don’t believe, cannot submit to God’s law. It is impossible. It’s impossible for us (in this life) to submit to God’s law FULLY, but it’s impossible for them to even begin to submit to his law. They do not know love at all.

    1Jn 3:16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

    We only know love because of Christ’s love for us. They don’t believe in that, so they don’t know it. This does not require even a belief in limited atonement. If they don’t have faith by which to believe what Christ has done, then they cannot perceive the love in it, and thus cannot know love, having never experienced it or seen it in Christ. They do not have faith that assures them that Christ’s love is real. They have no source of love, but only hatred. Christ is the one and only source of love there is. If we don’t know love from knowing the love of Christ, we have literally no access to love whatsoever.

    Thus their lives devoid of Christ are utterly devoid of love, though they seek after it with many tears, even as Esau wept, seeking after the lost birthright that he himself had despised and thrown away.

    And indeed, they have turned their quest for love through sex into a religion. We call it paganism. This is why they worshiped goddesses. They worshiped the image of mothers and lovers, because they know that love should come from these sources. If you don’t believe me, I would bet money that if you read the DaVinci Code you would.

    And you might object, saying that a mother’s love for her son is in fact true, altruistic love, or at least exhibits some signs of it.

    Nope. They cannot submit to God’s law, even in part. The unbelieving mother doesn’t love her children like you love your children, Christian. She loves them out of duty, seeking to think well of herself. Haven’t you ever heard someone defend themselves by citing their love for their children? And while we all think of a mother’s love as pure when we conceive of it in the abstract, don’t you know that parents can often be VERY selfish and negligent of their children?

    No, unbelievers seem to love their children because they think they have to. And indeed, they do have to. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, restraining sin, maintaining a common GRACE realm in the midst of the common curse. Thanks to his work, even in the hearts of unbelievers, some semblance of justice is maintained. Thanks to his work, most parents provide for their children as best they can.

    But have you never seen how this provision can turn into a competition? Children come home from school and say that their friends are all getting such and such for Christmas, and how do parents react? Need I remind you of the Tickle-Me Elmo craze, or should I say frenzy? Or remember Cabbage Patch dolls? Or Beenie Babies? Or the Harry Potter books? Parents want to be perceived by their children and others as being good providers. This is ego driven. If their kid has more X Box games, they have bragging rights.

    Imagine that. Parents providing for their children in order to feed their own ego. This is pure love? But there’s more. Sometimes it is out of some sense of duty, thinking that this will justify them before God, betraying an attempt to earn their own spot in heaven. So maybe it’s even an eternal reward they think they are earning, rather than just bragging rights. Perhaps that is even worse because it appears more noble. And yet once again, the statement about God is even more monstrous than it appears. Truly, these people think that buying their kid the latest XBox game makes them worthy to be in God’s presence forever in heaven. What a wicked way to think!

    Perhaps you object that no one actually thinks that way. But I say, sure they do. Ask an unbeliever if they’re going to heaven, and they’ll say that they are, because they have been good. Then they will cite all the good things they’ve done. They’ll talk about raising their kids, providing for their family, being nice to people, etc. They will sound more like a kid telling Santa how good he’s been, and consequently why Santa should give him what he wants for Christmas. God should give me what I want, because I’ve been good, and what I want is to be promoted to being equal with God, and I deserve it because I bought my kid an XBox. Unbelievers are not as nice as you think they are, Christian. They aren’t as much like you as you think they are. They are quite wicked and blasphemous in their thinking, but are quite skilled at masking it and pretending to be just like you.

    And how many families now include two parents that work well over 40 hours a week a piece? And don’t those families often drive fabulously luxurious cars or SUV’s and live in gigantic homes that they hardly spend any time in except in front of the TV, numbing themselves with entertainment? And how many of them justify this selfish behavior by saying that they are providing a better life for their family, when it is really only a simple matter of GREED? And what on earth is the deal with college tuitions that increase at like 10 times the rate of inflation? It is demand, my friends, that drives this. Parents kill themselves with work, numb themselves with entertainment, and force their kids to grow up alone among all their expensive toys, until it comes time to send them to college to gain an education that costs 100 times what it is worth, where they will learn to do the same or worse to their children, while thinking that they are doing the right thing and making their greedy children happy. Because, after all, greed is a virtue in our country, and we teach it to our children like a catechism. And of course, everyone knows that in order to get a well paying job you need a college degree these days. And of course, that has everything to do with an ever increasing greed. Parents don’t want their kid to be a plumber but an accountant, not a brick layer or construction worker, but a lawyer or a doctor. And children are raised to be hyper-greedy and snobby and so, they don’t want to be plumbers or construction workers, but they want to be upper class, they want to strive for what they call the “good life”. This means college, business college, law school, med school, more school, more school, more school. And the more school, the more money. So demand for schools has sky rocketed as greed has sky rocketed. Meanwhile, what they are teaching in colleges today would embarass people who went to college 50 or more years ago. It’s just further greed training. And parents think that what they are doing is justified because they are giving their children a better life, and therefore God smiles upon them. No, the only god that smiles on them is greed, because that’s the only god any of them are serving and teaching their children to serve. And of course, greed is no god, because he who serves greed serves only himself. What a joke.

    It is no wonder that the divorce rate is what it is. So much for love in sex and marriage for the unbeliever. It is no wonder that parents and children are continually more and more isolated from each other. So much for the love in the parent-child relationship for the unbeliever. It is no wonder that our culture continues to grow more selfish, more self serving and more greedy everyday, more closely resembling an ethics of live and let live rather than anything that even seems outwardly like love, giving up even the attempt to imitate the people of God. They can’t find love from their parents, can’t find it from their wife, so they seek it in possessions, where they also can’t find it, because enough is never enough. Women too become just another possession, as porn grows astronomically more common every day. And parents eventually become another possession as well, good only to be kept alive as long as possible in a nursing home where no one can see them. They desperately seek any procedure that will keep their elderly parents alive as absolutely long as possible, because for them there is no hope beyond death, and to watch their parents die is for it to be even more real that they will one day die themselves, just like their parents. So they clutch at their parents as if they were fighting for their own lives, because every day that their parents stay alive is another day of being able to deceive themselves that death will never actually arrive, but will always only be coming some day. But do they love their parents? No, because while their lives are unnaturally prolonged through multi-million dollar operations, their survival only means living in an old folks home, where the very air is dead. They are alive, but only waiting to die, forgotten, laid aside, left to rot alone. No love.

    Yes, if there is one thing that is sorely lacking in our world today, it’s love. But love is something that only, only, only Christians have ever experienced and perceived. And only in this way can we even begin to understand what it even is. And it is only through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, working in conjunction with the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17) that any of us exhibit any love whatsoever.

    For the unbeliever cannot even begin to submit to God’s law, and we cannot but begin to do so, for faith without works is dead.

    And do you know why faith without works is dead? Because it is the love of Christ, that self sacrificial love for US that he showed in such great glory on the cross, that now lives in us. Because by faith we not only perceive and understand that love, but we also receive it. And having received it, and perceived it, we begin to exhibit it, because we begin to understand it, and it begins to live in us, so compelling is that love. And it makes us to love him, and consequently to love our neighbor, who is made in his image.

    Thus it can truly be said that I no longer live, but Christ lives in me: for God is love, and his love lives in us, and so it is the eschatological life to come, Christ’s very life, that lives in us. And we call it love.

    There is no love for the unbeliever. No love at all, though they have sought it with tears.

  6. Echo wrote:
    There are, of course, two kingdoms. One is the realm of common grace/common curse, while the other is the realm of special grace.

    It seems you have made the common mistake of identifying the distinction between common and special grace as a contrast of “realms” –areas of life. This is erroneous.

    Common grace does apply to both nonbeliever and believer (thus, common) but it does so in all areas of life. Likewise, while special grace applies only to believers, it also does so in all areas of life, not just in things ecclesiastic. Your attempt to account for the level of overlap that you perceive is confused by the fact that you are construing common and special grace as “realms” of life, which they are not.

    You might find this critique helpful.

  7. I think you are assuming quite a lot about what I mean by “realms”, and are telling me that what I mean by it betrays a misunderstanding of common and special grace. However, in reality, I didn’t really define it, and that was deliberate.

    Your argument, then, I’m claiming, works like this:

    1. By “realm” you mean such and such.
    2. Common and special grace cannot be distinguished by such and such.
    3. Therefore, your distinction based on realms is confused/incorrect.

    But I’m afraid that I didn’t give “such and such” as a definition of realms. And I’m not even sure what you mean by “realm”, but you seem very sure what I mean by it. (And I don’t remember now if I used the phrase “areas of life”, and I have no desire to go back and re-read what I wrote, it being long, but nonetheless, my point remains valid for that phrase as well, as it is quite ambiguous, and if I used it, I used it thinking that its ambiguity was a virtue, because it was not my intention to give a precise treatise, but only to give some general categories in which discussion could be had.) So the bottom line is that you have made an assumption about what I said and then critiqued me for what amounts to your own assumption about what I said. You have made what I said more precise than I made it, and critiqued me in a precise way for the precision you have added.

    And anyway, I’m afraid I didn’t find your offered critique (of VanDrunen) helpful at all, since it seems that VanDrunen is correct (which fact, I have learned, is never surprising). So I guess I don’t suppose this conversation can be continued with profit, at least for me, since it would involve a terrific amount of articulation, at the end of which we would still disagree and have a serious debate on our hands, and I have no desire nor time for such a thing.

  8. I don’t remember now if I used the phrase “areas of life”

    Edit…Find…”areas of life” reveals that the phrase was first used in this thread by Baus.

  9. I’m sorry that Echo thinks he holds to a critique-proof recommendation because of his ambiguity and/or unwillingness to clarify his terms. Echo also doesn’t tell us why he thinks VanDrunen is correct overagainst the criticism of his proposal. Others who are interested in knowing more precisely what they think about this issue will find the critiques helpful, I’m sure.

    If by “realm” Echo didn’t mean ‘areas of life’, then “the general categories in which discussion could be had” that he does offer are even more problematic for the reason of their deliberate ambiguity. Turns out, according to Echo, that we can’t (afterall) have this discussion because he believes ambiguity to be a virtue. At least he was clear about that.

    Despite Echo’s claim to virtue, I think he gives a fairly obvious implicit definition of the realms when he talks about Pastors operating in the special grace realm professionally, and laymen primarily operating in the common grace realm during the week. We know that professionally, Pastors minister in the church, and that laymen during the week primarily operate in non-church. So, perhaps Echo was being less ambiguous than he had hoped.

    My point is this: special grace extends through church and non-church, regenerate pastors and laymen equally. And common grace extends through church and non-church, unregenerate and regenerate pastors and laymen equally. Echo tries to offer us useful distinctions and fails to do so.

    It’s sad that he’s unwilling to talk more about it. It could be edifying.

  10. I’m not critique proof, but your particular critique, I find, was unwarranted. Further, DVD doesn’t need me to defend him. I would be arrogant indeed if I felt up to the task. If you disagree with him, fine. Disagree with him. But he is far clearer than I’ll ever be, so I can’t hope to clarify him. He is far more educated than me, so I can’t hope to bring any insights I’ve gained from my education to the table. And he is far more articulate than I’ll ever be, and since I agree with him, I will not speak for him.

    I’m sorry I cannot edify you, but I am very weary of conversations about these particular matters.

  11. Alright, I relent.

    First I would ask you to back up your statements in your “my point is” paragraph. I would like you to substantiate your claims. In what sense is common/special grace equally operative in church and non-church for laity and pastors?

    Second, surely you would agree that the work place and church operate according to different rules, different principles, yes? Surely you would agree that my obligations to the people at work are different than those in my church? We take no vow of submission to our boss like we do to our session. We operate at work according to justice, while at church according to love, don’t we? And surely you would agree that a pastor has a very different job than laymen?

    Third, perhaps you would be more satisfied if I offered the phrase “operate according to the principles of common/special grace more particularly at certain times”? So for example, a layman at work operates according to common grace, being at peace with all men. He is not separating himself from the world. In Church, he is separating himself, having one foot in heaven, being taken there in worship, so to speak, joining his voice with those who have gone before, something he is not doing outside the worship service. (Heb 12:22ff)

    Fourth, isn’t it on Sunday, and Sunday alone that we partake of the promised means of grace (not meant to exclude personal devotions, prayer, etc that are done during the week, but notice the qualifier “promised” in means of grace)? Sunday is the only time we get the preaching of the Word and the Sacraments. There, if ever, we are especially participating in special grace, in a way that we are not during the other 6 days.

    Fifth, the hyperlink you provided gave a cut out of what appears to be a much larger argument, and doesn’t really discuss DVD’s position. It is too quick, thus I’m sorry, but no, I don’t find it helpful. Furthermore, I am not open to arguments that run: God is the Lord of all of life, therefore everything ought to operate according to the same rules or whatever. The state operates according to principles of common grace, while the church doesn’t really. I do believe there ought to be freedom of religion, for example, in the state, but obviously not in the church.

  12. echo,

    whatever problems baus points out, i simply find your huge post to work itself into confusions. here is one example of what pops out and i say…”huh?”:

    “The unbelieving mother doesn’t love her children like you love your children, Christian. She loves them out of duty, seeking to think well of herself.”

    what universe are you in? you come up with some hoi polloi definition of just what altruism/love is and claim that such is happening when the Xian is helping old mother hubbard across the steet but not when the unbeliever is. you think too much. it isn’t that complicated. you actually seem to work yourself into transformationslist presupp’s by suggesting that Xians are the only ones who grasp the Law an dits application. just where are all these Xians who grasp your high-pitched and barely discernible definition of love? it might sound good on some cyber-list, but i have no idea what you are talking about…maybe i am just too earthly and not gnostic enough?

    …and, btw, this is from a devotee of the so-called W2K POV. you seem to claim such a view, but i sure don’t get you. i find this frustrating amongst those who say they are W2K yet talk just like transformationalists. what gives? go back and read your DVD without the beer this time.


  13. Zrim,

    When unbelievers appear to do the works of the law, there is always a sinful motive behind it, thus it is not a “good work”. Purely sinful. Total depravity. Classic reformed doctrine here.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 16 On Good Works, says:

    7. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others: yet, because they proceed not from an heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God: and yet, their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing unto God.

    Presbyterians have been confessing this for over 350 years now. Believe me, I didn’t come up with it myself. You might enjoy checking the rest of that chapter out, and the rest of the Confession too.

    I think this is pretty straight forward stuff, but if you have a question about what the confession says, I’d be happy to try to answer it for you. If you don’t want to ask me, perhaps I might recommend Hodge’s commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith. Good stuff.

    But just in case you’re thinking that you’re not Presbyterian, you’re CRC, and you have no such strange views, here it is from YOUR OWN CONFESSION:

    The Belgic Confession, Article 24 says:

    Therefore, far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned.

    There is nothing left for me to say.

  14. […] if you get right down to it, wouldn’t a strong W2K’er hold that, just as there are no “Christian bakers”, there are no Christian Soup Kitchens (soup is created from soup ingredients the same way, […]

  15. Echo says,

    “When unbelievers appear to do the works of the law, there is always a sinful motive behind it, thus it is not a “good work”. Purely sinful. Total depravity. Classic reformed doctrine here.”

    The implication of what you say is that when believers do the works of the law they are not so tainted.

    Read these forms. I have put asterisks next to the lines of special import.

    BC Article 24

    “In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for *we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh*, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them.”

    “Question 62. But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?
    Answer. Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; *and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin*.”

    WCF, XIII (Of Sanctification)
    “II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; *yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh*.
    III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail; yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

    There is only one kind of love, yet the two agents come at them differently. This is clear from the teachings of the forms. But what is also quite clear is that there are not two kinds of love, Echo, one for the unbeliever and one for the believer; and the believer doesn’t do it in a superior way.


  16. Zrim,

    You missed the point altogether.

    You are implying that believers cannot do good works, and saying that what I have said implies that they can, and then you go on to try to demonstrate how I am wrong from the confessions. I’m glad to see you looking at the confessions. That’s great. I’d like to encourage that.

    But your post is denying the reality of sanctification. Yes, our good works remain tainted with sin, but they are still to some extent good, because the Spirit is at work in us.

    I now reference the WCF yet again:

    CHAPTER 16
    Of Good Works

    1. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

    2. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

    3. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, beside the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure: yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

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