Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baptist vs. Reformed

Turretinfan's recent post on the separation of Church and State reminded me of this quote from John Calvin:

Compel them to come in. This expression means, that the master of the house would give orders to make use, as it were, of violence for compelling the attendance of the poor, and to leave out none of the lowest dregs of the people. By these words Christ declares that he would rake together all the offscourings of the world, rather than he would ever admit such ungrateful persons to his table. The allusion appears to be to the manner in which the Gospel invites us; for the grace of God is not merely offered to us, but doctrine is accompanied by exhortations fitted to arouse our minds. This is a display of the astonishing goodness of God, who, after freely inviting us, and perceiving that we give ourselves up to sleep, addresses our slothfulness by earnest entreaties, and not only arouses us by exhortations, but even compels us by threatenings to draw near to him. At the same time, I do not disapprove of the use which Augustine frequently made of this passage against the Donatists, to prove that godly princes may lawfully issue edicts, for compelling obstinate and rebellious persons to worship the true God, and to maintain the unity of the faith; for, though faith is voluntary, yet we see that such methods are useful for subduing the obstinacy of those who will not yield until they are compelled. (link)

That's a bit scary.  Baptists have some loose ties back to Ana-Baptists, who understood the separation of church and state issue better than the reformed churches. 

44 comments:

Turretinfan said...

I'm not sure what's scary about people having to go to church, but nevertheless, the Reformed churches certainly did have a different (and better, since we're cheering) understanding of the proper degree of separation between church and state.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear Turretinfan,

Compultion to worship? History indicates your approach is impractical and more prone to abuse than success. But that said, if you really think your ideas here are biblical, maybe you should provide your justification in a post. I suspect our differences in dispenstationalism vs. covenant theology (i.e. my focus on the progressive nature of revelation vs. your focus on the unity of God's word and work) may account for our difference on this specific topic. But I could be wrong and I truly would be interested in what reason you could provide to justify "compultion to worship?".

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

I'm not sure I have time for a full-fledged exposition. Do you agree that parents can and should compel their young children to come to worship every Sunday?

Godismyjudge said...

Turretinfan,

No.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Dan,

Do you agree that both Jews and Christians have been compelling their young children to come to worship on at least a weekly basis since the time of Moses.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

TF,

I don't know; I don't know if they nurseries and children's programs back in OT times or not. While we can and should punishment kids for not going to church (and this is common) the child can always choose the punishment over going. But I doubt compelling (vs. disciplining or compulsion as a disciple) is all that common. But I am not saying it doesn't happen.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

How do you distinguish punishing for non-attendance and compelling attendance?

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

They can choose the punishment and not attend.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

I'm pretty sure that's what Calvin means by "compel." It's certainly the way that the Puritans implemented things. If you didn't go to church (and you didn't have a good excuse), you were punished. They considered that compelling - I would as well.

Perhaps this has just been a matter of miscommunication.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

So is a major aspect of the justification?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

I don't understand your question.

Godismyjudge said...

Is the example of young children/parents a major way in which you justify governments compelling citizens to worship?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

No. It's a way that explain its reasonableness to people.

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

OK, well if you don't have time to provide justification for your view, do you have a link where someone else has done so? Thanks!

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Oh, I thought you were already on board with my view! Are you not?

Godismyjudge said...

No, I am not.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

But you're not against requiring people to come to worship by threatening punishment if they refuse, right?

Godismyjudge said...

We were talking about young children. The government is not your parent.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Do we at least agree that it is right for parents to require their children to come to church under threat of punishment for non-compliance?

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Dear TF,

Discipline is a better word than punishment. I am unaware of a bible passage that speaks of punishing kids. Punishing sounds more like "an eye for an eye" rather than training. The government punishes criminals, parents discipline their kids.

I also am not crazy about the word "threaten", but I suppose you mean it in the best possible way.

I also am talking about young kids; kids that aren't thinking clearly just yet. For example, I think it's counter-productive to discipline a teenager for not going to church.

But young kids, yes, we should require them to attend and discipline them if they don't have a good reason for not going.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

"But young kids, yes, we should require them to attend and discipline them if they don't have a good reason for not going."

OK

Given your agreement on this point, it seems that your objection (whatever it may be) to the government doing the same thing is not founded in a universal principle that requiring attendance at church is intrisicly wrong.

Now, I'm not sure what your objection is, except that it is scary (per your original post).

Maybe the scariness has to do with a distrust of government?

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

TF,

Yes, I do think such power is prone to abuse. The Divine Right of Kings, the Catholic Church, the Crusades, Islam... to name a few.If the government has the power to control your religion, what would stop them from forcing you to practice Islam?

But I also think the mindset of people who promote compulsion of religion is a bit scary. Why would someone want to do that to people?

That's why it's scary. But my main objection (or question) is that of the Swedish Pietists: Vhere is it written?

As I mentioned, if you don't have time for it, I would still appreciate a link. Thanks!

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

The scariness objection shouldn't be an objection at all, if the Bible supports it. Calvin provides one example, but I understand you're not buying that.

Godismyjudge said...

That's correct. I could explain why if needed.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Well, suppose the government is a monarchy (makes the analysis easy). Should the King do what is good for the people under his authority?

Godismyjudge said...

Yes. The question is what is good for them?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Hearing the gospel is good for them (if they believe), I think we can agree.

Godismyjudge said...

Not if they are being forced to hear it. That does more harm than good.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

"Not if they are being forced to hear it. That does more harm than good."

What makes you think that?

Godismyjudge said...

Well one reason is I know I would not want someone else to force their religion on me and would resent them if they tried.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

I guess the same argument could be made against vaccinations.

Godismyjudge said...

I don't know - I get a flew shot every year.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

And some people go to church voluntarily too!

Godismyjudge said...

Yes, but forcing religion isn't the same as vaccinations.

In any case, do you have any direct evidence that forcing religion is biblical?

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Well, we have the example of Old Testament Israel.

Godismyjudge said...

That's true. But of course there are some vitial differences then till now.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

The differences would not be differences either in human nature or in moral absolutes, agreed?

Godismyjudge said...

Agreed.

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Ok.

So if people haven't changed, and morality hasn't changed, and if we leave aside the scariness, what does it matter if there are some other differences?

-TurretinFan

Godismyjudge said...

Well it would be reckless to ignore them. We are talking about differences between Government and Religion, man and God...

God be with you,
Dan

Turretinfan said...

Can you identify one of those differences that you think is relevant?

Godismyjudge said...

Well the two I mentioned are probably the biggest ones – at least they are the ones that first come to mind.
Take for example the difference between God and man. God is perfect, man is sinful. That’s why it’s scary to give man the same sovereignty as God. Now it makes sense that God would require us to worship Him. But for a man (or group of men) to have this power is another matter – especially since people may misuse their power. The track record for giving people such authority isn’t very good.

BTW, aren't you kinda trying to shift the burden of proof to me? I don't mind answering questions about children and the OT and I suppose you are getting around to how they show your views are biblical, but shouldn't you have a postive case to present?

God be with you,
Dan

O said...

That was the scariest exchange I have ever expected to read on this, generally polite and highly educational, blog.

(hitting my forehead )Elohim...my oh my... Turret,not in a million years would I've guessed that you of all people don't understand the dangers of Theocracy. Dont you realise that you can practice your religion precisely because of religious freedom that people fought for, you little ungrateful snob (and i say it with all the brotherly love i can master, just to give you a friendly nudge)? Do you really think that it would work, considering it never, ever worked? Let me tell you, dear- unless Turretinfan is a King himself and pushes his own brand of religion... God forbid you idea will ever come to life!You wont like it, trust me.I lived in democratic theocracy , where nobody pushes you to worship one way or another, and even that is very, very inferiour to american religious freedom.

Arent you aware of the evils pushed on people by puritans? Well, anyway, Dan already pointed it all out. I am just shocked, to be honest. I have a high opinion of your brain, so this really spooked me..

Odel.

Godismyjudge said...

Odelya,

If this scares you, I woudn't be shocked to find him getting an ox and plowing his front yard on Christmas morning. :-)

God be with you,
Dan