Friday, March 5, 2010

Why the PCA Needs the Spirituality of the Church

Over the past few weeks I've been following the running skirmish at the BaylyBlog between Darryl Hart, R. Scott Clark, and the Bayly brothers on Two Kingdom Theology (2k).  The Baylys are ministerial colleagues in the PCA and I was struck by their strident rejection of 2k because it is perceived to be weak, impotent, and well, spiritual.

This discussion has been illuminating for it has provided insight into the various streams of theological thought that make up the PCA.  An outsider might think that the PCA is monolithic but nothing could be further from the truth.  While there might be doctrinal agreement in the PCA based on the Westminster Confession of Faith there are lots of differences when it comes to how the church is to relate to the world.  Some argue that the church is called to transform culture.  Others argue that the church is to speak prophetically to the culture.  Others argue that the church is not the place for sermons against abortion, slavery, government-run healthcare, gay marriage, or the horrendous fair offered up on the public airwaves. 

This latter group basically acknowledges that their are two realms in this world: The City of God and the City of Man (based on Augustine).   The City of God (the Church) is called to be just that: a group of individuals called out by God to worship Him and to serve their neighbors.  They argue that the church's chief goal is to make disciples not to change culture or even confront it.  Thus ministers have the narrow task of speaking where Scripture speaks and being silent where Scripture is silent.  Furthermore, relation to the culture is left up to individual Christians as they exercise their gifts and devote themselves to their God-given vocations. 

All of this might seem strange given the recent past of the Religious Right and its activism.  Yet, I beg you to read and study this topic.  To that end Darryl Hart has written a thoughtful piece about my denomination and its need to recapture this understanding of the church.  Obviously, more than those in the PCA need to come to grips with this topic.

Click on the link to read why the Baylys, Tim Keller and those who follow Abraham Kuyper are wrong or at least misguided.

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Kaitiaki said...

"... read why the Baylys, Tim Keller and those who follow Abraham Kuyper are wrong or at least misguided." Alan, it's nice that we know where you stand.

I am sure there are those among the Kuyperians who would say the same about the 2k men. The arguments are there in the comments (and I admit I've added my fair share to them as well).

It seems to me that, at the present, there is the possibility of retaining the benefits of both insights. We need to remember that we have a responsibility to call sinners to repentance as well as to prepare young Christians to deal with the errors of the day.

Paul did that in his letters to the Churches. Or do you really think there are no societal implications in his instruction to pray for "those in authority over us, for they are a terror to wrongdoers ... they do not bear the sword in vain?"

Certainly his actions demonstrate how he knew the structures of his society and how to use his understanding to remind those in authority of their responsibility to act justly (e.g. Acts 25:8-11).

Then too do you really think that there are none of the Kuyperians who would agree that the single greatest need for the Church, worldwide is a faithful presentation of the whole counsel of God with respect to salvation? Scots, Dutch and Americans have the same zeal to see the Church of Christ grow and become more holy.

We need the same robust Christianity that led Calvin to both spell out the spiritual implications of the sin and also recommend second story balconies should have a railing because to fail there was to be guilty of breaking the sixth commandment.

Paul said the reason why there were differences in the Church at Corinth was so that the good might be approved. So far, I've seen a lot of "I am of Paul and I of Apollos and I of Christ." Can we not allow that each has something to offer to the Church before we lose Apollos's insight or (worse) Christ's? "Whoso is not against me is for me is as much one of his teachings as the current stress on whoso is not for me is against me."

Ken e said...

I think if one sees reaching out to the people who aren't church as activism is most likely wrong according to the proclamation of the Gospel. You cannot be salt without effecting our surroundings! I think that we need to guard against the radical idea of individualism that has even found itself in Reformed theology from the Enlightenment of the West.

I think it's strange with my western eyes seeing most believers here in Asia(3/4)being Pentecostal/Charismatic. We laugh at them in the West as being to individual and yet it reaches people who aren't individual but communal, people who need a transcendent savor from the immanent treat from the various false gods around them!

The PCA does need a Spirituality, but I'm not expert enough to say what that is. Maybe one that's not Western.