Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Off-Topic: The Cash for Clunkers Program

I'm not given to political commentary, and I'm not going to take a partisan stance. It's just that while waiting for my daughters' ballet, I asked myself, "How much value are we getting from Cash for Clunkers?" And I was surprised that I had not seen any articles running the numbers on this one.

Computations follow.

Let's take a better-case scenario. Assume that a clunker gets 10 mpg and is traded in for a 30 mpg mid-sized car. Assume further that the CfC program causes Joe Schmoe to trade his clunker in early by four years. Assume further that Joe drives 30,000 miles in one year.

On these assumptions, Joe's gasoline usage for four years with the clunker would be

4 yr * 30,000 gal/yr * 1 gal / 10 miles = 12,000 gallons.

With the new car, his gas usage would be

4 yr * 30,000 gal/yr * 1 gal / 30 miles = 4,000 gallons.

This means that Joe is saving 8,000 gallons of gasoline because of this program.

Assume further that gasoline's density is 0.77 kg/L and assume that gasoline is 100% isooctane, C8H18. Changing these assumptions could move my numbers in the direction of worse-case by a few percent.

A quick use of the periodic table can show that 1 kg of gasoline (isooctane) creates 2.444 kg of CO2.

Thus we calculate:

8000 gallons saved * 3.75 L / gal * 0.77 kg gas / L * 2.444 kg CO2 / kg gas = 56,456 kg CO2 = 62 tons CO2.

So we are paying $4,500 for 62 tons CO2 saved, or $72.50 / ton. We compare this to the cost of a "certified carbon offset", which Wiki pegs at $1 - $30 / ton.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Carroll County Count 2009-07-04

The weather was abnormally rainy from April through June, so butterfly sightings were low. But with optimism in our hearts and a good forecast from weather.com, we embarked on the annual Carroll Co., MD butterfly count.

Alas, the numbers were low. In all, we saw a mere 24 species. However, the favorites were accounted for.




Orange Colias eurytheme
Clouded Colias philodice -- I'm slightly skeptical inasmuch as we only went by the lemon-yellow color, which is not a reliable separator from the Orange.


Coral Hairstreak Satyrium titus
Edwards Hairstreak Satyrium Edwardsii

We have definitely established the presence of a colony of Edwards' in northern Carroll.
July 4 count

Red-Banded Hairstreak Calycopis cecrops


American Copper Lycaena phlaeas


Summer Azure Celastrina neglecta/ladon
Eastern Tailed Blue Everes (Cupido) comyntas


Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybele
Pearl Crescent Phyciodes tharos
Baltimore Checkerspot Euphydryas phaeton
The state insect of Maryland, but not so common ...
PhotobucketJuly 4 count

Buckeye Junonia coenia
Hackberry Emperor Asterocampa celtis
Monarch Danaus plexippus
Little Wood Satyr Megisto cymela
Common Wood Nymph Cercyonis pegala
Found a mating pair.
July 4 count

Appalachian Brown Satyrodes appalachia
These are common in wetlands.


Dun Euphyes vestris
This is a male, as indicated by the tawny patches above. The golden head is the key to separating this "which?" from Little Glassywing and Crossline.July 4 count

Little Glassywing Pompeius verna
The identification keys are the white "glassy" patches on the wings of the female, and a white band on the antenna just behind the antennal club. Wouldn't ya know, the white band can't be seen in any of these pics. But we checked for it! In the last picture, a male is trying to wiggle his abdomen around to convince the female to mate.
July 4 count
July 4 count
July 4 count

Least Ancyloxypha numitor
Mulberry Wing Poanes massasoit
These bog denizens have a distinct landing habit: they land with wings closed for 1-2 seconds, then casually open up into the jet plane position seen here. As a result, I have yet to get a good shot of the underside.

Silver-Spotted Skipper Epargyreus clarus
Wild Indigo Duskywing Erynnis baptisiae
Horace's Duskywing Erynnis horatius
The silver spot on the forewing cell distinguishes this from the more common Wild Indigo Duskywing.
July 4 count



Friday, July 10, 2009

Galveston, TX 6/9/2009 - 6/12/2009

In June we visited Galveston Island, TX. We expected widespread devastation from Hurricane Ike, but at least at the west end of the island, rebuilding was proceeding along. Certainly, the butterfly population was not suffering!

The state park was closed for "rebuilding" -- as a friendly ranger informed me after an hour of photography. Oops. It was a little unclear what needed to be rebuilt, though. The butterfly habitat was doing quite well.

The island has an impressive sulphur diversity. I saw Orange, Large Orange, Little Yellow, Dainty, and Dogface Sulphurs (surely I saw a Cloudless also?! My memory fails here).

Interestingly, there were many Queens on the island, but I could not find any obvious milkweeds there.


Orange Colias eurytheme
Little Yellow Eurema lisa -- these were ubiquitous; we saw over 100 of them.
Click for shots


Dainty Nathalis iole -- this individual narrowly missed death by Robber Fly.
Click for shot


Large Orange Phoebis agarithe (perhaps philea?)
Dogface Colias cesonia

Checkered White Pontia protodice -- these entirely replaced the Cabbage White.
Click for shots
Male with pollen on his face. The male is extremely white, even more so than P. rapae.
The female is more strongly marked. This one was laying eggs on what appears to be Lepidium, Pepperweed.

Reakirt's Blue Hemiargus isola
Click for shot

Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus -- everywhere I go!

Buckeye Junonia coenia
American Lady Vanessa virginiensis
Painted Lady Vanessa cardui
Click for shot

Queen Danaus gilippus -- I saw no milkweeds, but the Queens were common enough!
Click for shots

Phaon Crescent Phyciodes phaon -- these limited themselves to the edges of ponds. Update: it turns out that they were hanging out near their hostplant, Frogfruit Lippia nodiflora
Click for shots
Frogfruit, Lippia nodiflora
mystery plant

Black Papilio polyxenes

Fiery Skipper Hylephila phyleus
Southern Skipperling Copaeodes minima


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Jesse H Jones Park 6/8/09

Jesse H Jones Park, located just north of Houston's Intercontinental Airport, has some really nice butterfly habitat.

In the trip last month, I saw the following:

Palamedes Swallowtail
Spicebush Swallowtail
Pipevine Swallowtail
Red Banded Hairstreak
Gray Hairstreak
Pearl Crescent
Texas Crescent
Gulf Fritillary
Little Yellow
Orange Sulphur
Carolina Satyr
Funereal Duskywing
Horace's Duskywing
Common Checkered-Skipper
Little Glassywing?
Fiery Skipper
Southern Broken-Dash?

On a previous visit in 2008, I saw a White-Striped Long-Tail!

Click for Shots

Funeral Duskywing Erynnis funeralis

Southern Broken Dash Wallengrenia otho? I'm open to correction on this ID.

Common Checked-Skipper Pyrgus communis

This individual demonstrates the blue sheen that sometimes makes these seem like Blues in flight.

Texas Crescent Phyciodes texana

This individual had marked out a 40-ft swath of forest path as his territory. I found him pacing back and forth, lighting and puddling at times.

Gray Hairstreak Strymon melinus
Everywhere I go, there's a Gray Hairstreak! These butterflies are more ubiquitous than even the Cabbage White.

Little Glassywing Pompeius verna?

Frankly, I'm not happy with this ID. The antennae lack the white band behind the club that we use as a field mark here in MD. And the grizzled appearance inside the median is not like any P. verna I see here. However, it's a reasonably close match, and my memory of the topside matches P. verna best. So that's my story for now, until someone corrects me.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

God's Covenant(s?)

David Weiner, ever the gentleman, has requested that we pick up a conversation from a while ago: link.

The salient question was, Does salvation run in families?

I argue:

click to toggle

In the OT, what percentage of the saved were from the biological line of Abraham? Probably 99.99% or higher.

In the NT era in which we live, what percentage of the saved come from a Christian lineage? Harder to say, but greater than 50%.

So now consider again your statement, “For, I can not find any rationale for God choosing anybody other than His good pleasure and glory.”

Yet, He does give a partial rationale: “I will be a God to you and your descendants.” God’s kindness to Abraham is extended to Abe’s family *for the sake of Abraham.*

If God gave no consideration to families at all, then election would be equally distributed around the globe. Empirically, that’s not the case!

David responds:

click to toggle
Kindness, as in to Abraham and his family, and election have to be considered synonymous for the argument to hold, it seems to me. And, Scripture does not link the two in any explicit way. So, each of us is ‘free’ to interpret loosely. Not exactly what you would accept in your science classes, I assume.

I don’t want to proof text this discussion; but, Jeremiah 7:23 makes it very clear (probably only to me!) that the idea of God being a God to Israel was not about salvation. It was about blessing. That is unless one can actually earn salvation by works and I know we agree on that one.

I read Barna reports and so I know there are lots of statistics. But, do we really know the geographical distribution of election? I think we are dealing with a lot of anecdotal data here. Certainly not double blind sort of stuff.

This led to a new question: was the covenant with Abraham a covenant of salvation, or of something else?

I argue:

click to toggle
It seems to me, then, that this forces us to conclude that belief is a requirement to properly belong to the covenant. This is made explicit in Romans [2.28ff]. If we see belief as a requirement, unstated but implied in Gen. 17, then several different features come into focus:

(1) Why did God reject so many Israelites along the way, even though they were physically descended from Abraham? Unbelief. They didn’t meet the requirement of belonging to the covenant.

(2) Why did Jesus have to die on the cross for Jews? Because justification is necessary to be a child of God — and Jews as much as Gentiles need justification. One might be tempted to separate the issue of being a child of God and being a child of Abraham, but notice how closely Paul links them in Galatians [3.6-8, 26-29] and also Ezekiel [36.18ff]. Notice how closely Ezekiel links “being righteous” with “being God’s people.” For Ezekiel, salvation is necessary in order to be God’s people.

Even the promise to the physical descendants of Abe in Romans 11 is still conditioned on faith: “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.”

And David responds

click to toggle
It seems to me that Gen 17 describes a group of people who are called God’s people. And, God says that they will get a bunch of blessings if they only circumcise, an activity that did not require any faith. I know, a statistically invalid single data point, that when I was circumcised my parents were simply following a tradition. As I have said, they were reprobate. I don’t know how to describe what is Gen 17 other than temporal blessings in response to a ‘work.’ I simply don’t see any reference to eternal things or faith, for example. On the other hand, it seems offensive to talk about God’s people being reprobate. And, we know that Abraham’s offspring included a fair share of reprobates.

For me, the solution is to see that there are different covenants. And, the definition of ‘God’s people’ is used to identify the group in question and not to give an absolute definition. The Abrahamic Covenant is not the same as the New Covenant; the people referenced in each covenant are not the same people, although there is some overlap in a Venn diagram sense.

And this led then to a discussion of whether there are many covenants or one.

I argue that a "multiple covenants" view has to clear four hurdles to stand:

click to toggle
On the other, if we say “multiple covenants”, then we have to ask several important questions:

(MCov 1) Why does the Scripture appear to mingle the covenants so freely?

* Believers in Christ are said to be “Children of Abraham and heirs according to the promise.”
* Recipients of the Mosaic Covenant are told that they are being given the land “for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
* The sign of the Mosaic Covenant is the same as the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant.

and so on.

(MCov 2) Why are the Gentiles, who formerly were excluded from Israel, now included into Israel:

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. — Eph. 2.11-13

(MCov 3) What is “the promise” that Paul speaks of in multiple places?

(MCov 4) Why do we see no hint in the New Testament of separate covenants each running their course throughout history?

And David responds with regard to MCov 2:

click to toggle
What I see here is first a description of the status of a group of people identified as gentiles. What then follows is a description of the status of the individual gentile who has received Christ. It is initially not about individuals; but, rather the group, in contrast to the group of people who were called Israelites (who were just a segment of those who came from Abraham; which is, of course, where the separation began.)

So what do we learn about the gentiles (before the cross):
1) you were at that time separate from Christ,
2) excluded from the commonwealth of Israel,
3) strangers to the covenants of promise,
4) having no hope
5) without God in the world

And these 5 items are summarized in the passage as their being “formerly far off.” Up to the cross, God had given the nation of Israel lots of promises and information (e.g., the Mosaic Law). He had not given this to all humanity equally. That does not mean that an individual gentile might not have known about the Mosaic Law or may have even tried to keep part of it. It just means that as a group, God had not given these things to them. Of course, each of the 5 items deserves about a book’s worth of explanation (particularly the word ‘covenant’ which as you can see is plural!); but, fortunately for you, I won’t subject you to that pain. (insert smiley face here) But, one thing I have to say about the description: it is not primarily about Israel. Israel is only mentioned as part of the description of the gentile’s pre-cross situation.

What does the passage say about their current status? Well, first of all it does not say anything about the status of the group. It only addresses the status of the individual saved gentile. And that is that they:

1) have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Brought near to what? What does one get when they are saved? Jesus. Not, a part of Israel, the nation. Does saved Israelites also have Jesus. Of course. That is a similarity; but, it does not erase the differences.

and again
After much thought about how to address your questions here, it seems to me that starting with ‘membership’ is the best approach. So, here goes.

According to my reading of Galatians 3:16, the promises were spoken to (made to) Abraham and Jesus. Another way of saying this is that God made the AC with Abraham and Jesus. God, for example, did not make the covenant with the nation of Israel. At this point in the discussion, I don’t see how I could add clarity to the role of God, Abraham, or Jesus by adding a term like ‘membership.’

As to the content of the covenant, some applied to individuals and some to groups of people. I would say that these individuals/groups were ‘recipients’ of the promises included in the covenant. I can see how the term ‘membership’ could be applied to these recipients; but, again, I don’t see how that clarifies the term recipients (of the covenant promises).

Another term that enters the discussion is ‘covenant people’ or ‘people of the covenant.’ Again, it seems to me that discussing covenants with regard to a) the people with whom the covenant was made and b) the people who are the recipients of the covenant promises would foster more clarity.

So, how does one become a type a) or type b) person or group? Only by God specifying their role in a specific covenant. And, that He has done quite well with regard to all of the covenants which He specifically makes in Scripture. Thus, I would have to respectfully disagree with the statement that ‘membership in one covenant granted membership in another.’ That is not to in any way take away from the fact that national Israel was made promises in both the AC and the MC. However, in the AC God made the covenant with Abraham and not national Israel and in the MC God made the covenant with national Israel and not Abraham. Similarities and differences existing without any conflicts.

You asked about Ruth, I misunderstood the question, and you responded with:

“By what means?” Faith is the means of inclusion into the New Covenant, circumcision into the Abrahamic (in your understanding). So by what means was Ruth included into the Abrahamic Covenant?

Ruth became part of a group (national Israel) identified as a recipient of promises in the AC by marrying a member of the group (actually, she did this twice). She also may have been a recipient of the AC blessings promised to ‘all families’ by God giving her saving faith. (Ruth 1:16 may show this; but, I don’t see it specifically spelled out in Scripture.)

I’d also like to clear up any misunderstanding that I gave you as to how one gains inclusion in the AC. Your statement above shows that I gave the impression that it was circumcision. That would have been an error on my part; circumcision did not gain one entrance to the AC. It was simply a sign of who was included in national Israel (e.g., it was not a sign of the promises involving ‘all the families’). National Israel was, of course, one of the recipients of promises in the AC. I’d like to just point out that circumcision came many years after the institution and a few reaffirmations of the covenant itself.

Now we get to the real question:

where do we see in the Scripture a positive affirmation that the New Covenant is separate from the Abrahamic?

First, I would not say that the NC is ’separate’ from the AC. What I would say is:
a) The covenant that we call the NC is specified in Jeremiah 31:31-34. (I certainly don’ t expect any disagreement on this? I do expect disagreement with what follows. (insert sad smiley face))
b) The NC is made with national Israel. The recipients of the promises of the NC are national Israel.
c)The foundation of the NC promises is the death (blood) of the Savior. The covenant could not be instituted (even though it was described long before) until Christ died and paid for sin.
d) Sorry for what I have to say next; but, the church is not now receiving the blessings of the NC. The church is receiving the blessings of the AC (in Abraham, all the families of the earth shall be blessed).
e) To enable these blessings to flow to all people while Israel still awaits the blessings of the NC, God made a new creation, the church, Jew and Gentile in one body. This body receives those salvific blessings, because of the self same cross as was required to institute the NC, through faith in Jesus. Or, as Ephesians 3:6 says: “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members (with the Jew) of the body (the church), and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus (AC promise to all the families of the earth [which would include the Israelites also!]) through the gospel.

So, my specific answer to your question is ‘no.’ There is no reason to expect a ’specific affirmation’ of separation. And, the reasons given above explain why that would not be required. Furthermore, the definitions of each covenant make it clear that they are not the same covenants.

The church is receiving the blessings of the AC because Jesus has paid the price of sin for ‘all the families of the earth’ and God created a new group, the church, a mystery, to receive these blessings. The new covenant only relates to Israel, although the death was also required for the enactment of that covenant. The fulfillment of the NC will have to wait for the second coming.

I’ll bet that there are just a few things in the above that you would like to point out as being not Scriptural. I am anxious to see what you have to say.

And I think this is more or less where we are: hashing through the four questions, and raising various issues in the process.

David, over to you.

JRC

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Myrtle Beach Apr. 9 - 17, 2009

It was windy and mid-60s most of our vacation, so the butterflies were scarce. However, I managed to find some at Huntington State Park. I also found a pipevine swallowtail in Paul Vallee's excellent garden. All of this was taken just prior to the wildfires at Myrtle Beach, which I believe went just north of this area.


Attenuated Bluet Enallagma daeckii? This ID is tenuous; if correct, it would be a record for the USGS survey.


Juniper Hairstreak Callophrys gryneus

Little Wood Nymph Megisto cymela -- form "viola"

Eastern Pygmy Blue Brephidium pseudofea

Salt Marsh Skipper Panoquina panoquin

Pipevine Swallowtail Battus philenor

Rough Green Snake Opheodrys aestivus


Objection 5 (and final) to REPT

Objection 5 (and final!): REPT is not a uniformly “good and necessary inference” from Scripture.

Discussion here.

JRC

Objection 4 to REPT

Objection 4: REPT takes the “Paleo-Calvin” out of Paleocalvinism.

Discussion here

JRC

Objection 3 to "REPT" (was, "W2K")

I'm cleaning house, and this stuff needed to get links. Dr. Hart has requested that I substitute "Reformed Ecclesial Political Theory" for "Westminster 2-Kingdom theology." I'm happy to oblige

Obj 3: REPT drives an unnecessary wedge between philosophy and theology.

Discussion here.

JRC

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Objection 2 to W2K

Obj 2: The Scripture does not sustain a clean division between “public” and “private” faith.

Discussion starts here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Objection 1 to W2K

Objection 1: W2K reduces, rather than enhances, liberty.

Argument and discussion here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An exposition of W2K

Prolegomena Part 1

I'm hoping to provide a space here for Dr. Hart to exposit the W2K position. Doing so will require figuring out multiple authorship.

Update: this discussion has moved here.

JRC

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Own History with W2K

Prolegomena Part 2

I first encountered explicit W2K theology while taking John Muether's Church and World class at Reformed Theological Seminary. I really liked the course. Dr. Muether challenged me in particular to consider the full implications of the spirituality of the Church and the dangers of the Church taking political power unto herself. It was at this time that I was first introduced to Meredith Kline's "Intrusion" concept -- that Israel occupied a special niche within God's redemptive plan, so that the Law was a republication of the Covenant of Works, yet not for salvation but rather for corporate probation.

At the time I was just emerging from dispensationalism and into a Reformed understanding of the Covenants. Kline's hypothesis seemed far too similar to the dispensational view of Israel, and I mostly rejected it.

This opinion changed when I took Jeff Jue's Church History classes at RTS. Dr. Jue patiently explained the typological nature of the Intrusion and Kline's careful distinction between salvation by grace through faith through the Abrahamic covenant and the distinct corporate and typological probation of the nation-state of Israel. It was essentially what Muether had explained, but sometimes I have to hear things twice.

Dr. Jue also recommended reading Kingdom Prologue and The Structure of Biblical Authority. This I did, and came out the other side amazed at the depth of Kline's thought and his skillful coordination of disparate Biblical ideas. I wrote a paper for the class comparing Calvin's view of Church and State to Kline's (and yes, I went for the cheesy title pun on Calvin and Kline). In it, I argued that Kline was essentially rearticulating Calvin's theology of Church and State. The paper got an A-. Dr. Jue disagreed with my thesis, noting that my understanding of Calvin overestimated his degree of separation between Church and State. Years later, I agree with him. :) Calvin was not a W2K guy.

Still and all, I continue to be impressed with Kline's basic thesis: that the OT judicial law was canon for the nation-state of Israel only, and that Israel represented a special suspension of God's common grace, never to be repeated until the eschaton. For this reason, I have never been attracted to the Bahnsen, Chilton, or Rushdoony forms of theonomy.

For Kline, as I understand him in Kingdom Prologue, there is a basic distinction between the City of Man and the Kingdom of God. The City of Man, first built by Cain under God's sanction, is under the reign of common grace and is to be ruled not as a theocracy but according to common grace; the Kingdom of God (located post-Christ in the covenant community) is ruled according to the Scripture.

While I appreciate Kline greatly, I am still troubled by an abiding question that first struck me in Dr. Muether's class: if a Christian happens to find himself in the position of magistrate, how then should he judge? Assuming that the job of the magistrate is to restrain evil (Rom 13), on what basis should (s)he define the word "evil"?

That is, if we can agree that the Church has the calling to preach the Gospel rather than to directly transform society -- and I do agree to this! -- still and all, what guidance can Kline's W2K theology give to the Christian who happens to be the magistrate?

The question is not academic. My pastor is a former FDA administrator; various members of my church work in the Federal government in various three-letter agencies. There is a real need for Christians in government to understand how to carry out their jobs with integrity and obedience. This need is amplified when we consider that in America, everyone is a participant in government. L'Etat, c'est nous. So how should we govern?

This question came rushing back to me as I watched, and then jumped into, the dialog on GreenBaggins concerning Church and State. The answer I received from self-professed W2K-ers (Dr. Hart, Zrim, and Todd) was that Natural Law should be the basis for governance, exercised in Christian liberty.

I'm perfectly happy with the notion of "Christian liberty." To my mind, ecclesiastical laws that bind the conscience beyond the warrant of Scripture are anathema.

But coming as I do from a philosophical bent, the notion of "Natural Law" raises all manner of red flags with me. First, Natural Law ethics has been thoroughly discredited in philosophy. And second, an appeal to Natural Law as the basis for deciding right and wrong appears to either (a) be a cover for smuggling in the Scripture, much as Roman Catholics use "natural law" to smuggle in Church teaching, or (b) be an appeal to an entirely different ethical standard entirely -- a form of heteronomianism. There are other objections also which will come in part 3 of this dialog, but this point is central for me.

So I stand now at this point: While I fully support the goals of encouraging the Church to be the peculiar and obedient people of God, and of encouraging the Church to concentrate on its mission of taking the Gospel to the nations; still, Kline's W2K appears to me to run off the rails when we hit the question, "How then shall we govern?"

Finally, I owe Dr. Hart an answer to this question:

Jeff, if God’s word is sovereign over all of your life, and you are a plumber, what does the Bible say about your practice of plumbing?

Dr. Hart, what I think you want me to admit is that Scripture prescribes neither copper nor PVC, so that plumbing is a "common" enterprise, governed by Natural Law.

Unfortunately, I don't think in that framework. Instead, I consider John the Baptist to be illustrative. When asked by tax collectors what they should do to show the fruits of repentance, he told them how the 8th commandment applied to their profession: Don't collect more than you are supposed to. When asked the same question by soldiers, he told them to refrain from extortion and false testimony.

For JtB, the moral content of the 10 Commandments was translated into their situations into specific ethical advice. He certainly didn't dither around the issue of the "commonness" of tax collecting!

Likewise, the Scripture might not use the words "copper" or "PVC." But if it turns out that some material (like polybutylene) is junky, then the 8th Commandment requires me as a Christian plumber to use something else. In the case of lead piping, the 6th Commandment would apply!

We sometimes don't see this, because in America a shoddy workman is usually out of work. But in many countries, or in certain sectors in American business or government, the only incentive to do a craftsmanlike job is God's command to "work as unto God and not unto men." This implies that God's commands have their tendrils in all that we do, since loving God and neighbor are commanded whether in the "common" sphere or the ecclesial.

What I'm suggesting is classic Frame-ian ethics: the Scripture helps us to read out the norms and the situation in light of our existential motives; the meaning of those norms in our situation is what we ought to do.

Interestingly, this approach still retains a high degree of Christian liberty. Unlike the theonomist who might wish to divine specific instruction on copper and PVC from the text of Scripture (or the symbolism thereof!), I am suggesting that the individual bears a large responsibility for determining what the Scriptural norms mean in his particular situation.

Hence, an outside agent may not be able to provide specific blanket advice in all situations. Thus, your reading of me that I have an "idea of a biblical position on everything Christians do" is quite wide of the mark. The Scripture leaves many details unspecified; and yet, every action that we take is either of faith, or else not. Our actions come out of a love for God and neighbor, or else not.

So Scripture *does* speak to all of life, from a normative perspective. And yet, it does not specify all of life, from a situational perspective. On this latter point, we agree.

It remains to be seen whether we can find other points of contact.

JRC

Monday, March 2, 2009

2K Theologies

Part 1

The conversation over at GreenBaggins has sometimes drifted into a discussion of the relationship of Church and State. Among the different positions is what has been termed "Westminster 2-Kingdom Theology." With Reformed roots back to Luther's 2-Kingdom theology, the Westminster variety springs from a consistent application of Kline's structure of the Covenant.

One of the foremost advocates of W2K is Dr. Darryl Hart, adjunct at Westminster Seminary, California, and author of A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors The Separation of Church and State (Ivan R. Dee, publ.; distributed by Amazon and others). He has agreed to share his views here.

Dr. Hart, for the sake of your time and to keep things decent and in order, I would like to propose the following format.

  • First, I would like to explain my own contact with 2K theologies and W2K in particular. This will, perhaps, expose misunderstandings on my part; certainly, it could be a point of departure for the conversation.
  • I am hoping that you can then provide a clear Scriptural exposition of the W2K position.
  • Then, I will respond with concerns and/or points of agreement.
  • And you can have the last word.

Does that format work for you?

JRC