Saturday, July 23, 2005

Theonomy under fire-2

4. We should presume that Old Testament standing laws continue to be morally binding in the New Testament, unless they are rescinded or modified by further revelation.

i) I disagree with Bahnsen on this point. It’s too aprioristic.

However, Bahnsen’s claim can be put on a firmer exegetical footing. For example, we’ve already seen how Paul cites the 6th commandment in Eph 6:2-3. The Shema (Deut 6:4) lies behind 1 Tim 2:5. The Mosaic laws on incest lie behind 1 Cor 5:1 (cf. Lev 18:8; Deut 22:30; 27:20)—even though this is legal technicality, since the liaison is between in-laws, not blood relations. The Decalogue is reproduced in 1 Tim 1:9-10. A central plank of the Holiness Code (Lev 19) is reproduced in James (2:1,9; 4:11; 5:4,9,12,20).

ii) In addition, one can hardly erect an electrified fence between the Decalogue and the case law, for the case law is merely an application of the general norms in the Decalogue to special cases.

And although some of the hypotheticals are culture-bound, it is easy to update others.

So although I decline his exegetical shortcut, one can arrive at the same destination by taking the long way around.

6. God's revealed standing laws are a reflection of His immutable moral character and, as such, are absolute in the sense of being non-arbitrary, objective, universal, and established in advance of particular circumstances (thus applicable to general types of moral situations).

i) Once again, I disagree with Bahnsen. The Decalogue and case-law is inapplicable to God himself.

The proper way of expressing his point is to say that God’s law is adapted to human nature, since God is the author alike of the moral law and human nature, his law is universal due to the universality of human nature.

ii) At this point we need to ground the Mosaic criminal code in the creation mandates of Gen 1. For just as the case-law is an application of the Decalogical norms to special cases, the Decalogue is a special application of the creation mandates to the nation of Israel.

Let there be no misunderstanding of Bahnsen's position. In his ideal state "public" blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, apostasy, witchcraft, sorcery, and false pretension to prophecy would be subject to civil penalties up to and including the death penalty.

Here we need to draw a couple of distinctions:

i) In principle, we might decide that these particular laws pertain to the ceremonial law rather than the moral law. That would not invalidate the civil law in toto. Rather, it would just be an issue of classification.

ii) We much never back down just because we don’t like the consequences. If it was right back then to execute such offenders, we are in no position to act as though it’s intrinsically wrong to do so now.

God may be more merciful, but he is never less than just.

Rushdoony's response is the most honest and straightforward. At the same time, however, it is also the most arrogant. He unflinchingly admits the contradiction and then accuses the Confession of "confusion" and "nonsense" and charges Calvin with uttering "heretical nonsense."

It’s highly intemperate of Rushdoony to impute heresy to Calvin.

However, it’s not as if Waldron, as a Reformed Baptist, agrees with Calvin all the time.

In addition, there’s nothing arrogant in suggestion that the Confession might possibly be confused. The Confession was a consensus document. Rutherford, for one, was no fan of Cromwell.

And it’s my impression that the Scottish Divines tended to be more theocratic than some of their English counterparts.

Is the Theonomic viewpoint the legitimate offspring of Reformed paedobaptism?

No, I don’t think so.

i) I recall reading an interview with Rushdoony around the time of his death in which he explained that in Armenia, you had different ethnicities, and each ethnicity was governed by its own law code. The Armenian Christians were governed by Christian law, the Muslims by Muslim law, and so on. There was no notion of a secular state with a religiously neutral law code for all.

ii) In addition, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, and North are Van Tilians. Theonomy is simply the extension of Van Tilian presuppositionalism and antithesis to the sphere of social ethics. Just as Van Til contended that the Christian worldview supplies the preconditions of intelligibility, Rush, Bahnsen, and North contend that God’s law supplies the preconditions of morality. It’s a logical extension of the impossibility of the contrary from the sphere of ontology and epistemology to ethics.

iii) I’d add that theonomy is simply the extension of the Protestant rule of faith (sola Scriptura) to politics. Just as Scripture is the only rule of faith for personal ethics, it is the only rule of faith for social ethics.

Frankly, this ought not to be controversial among Bible-believing Protestants.

Theonomists, however, are among the leading advocates in the recent Reformed movement for paedocommunion.

I happen to agree that arguments for paedobaptism support paedocommunion. But that’s incidental to theonomy.

The Nature of the Theocracy

1.Here, Waldron goes on for pages and pages with what he clearly regards as the key issue, and what I regard as tangent.

To me, theocracy is not about polity (“civil order,” “civil structure”), it’s not about the ruler or the regime, but about the rule of law; in particular, what law should be the law of the land?

This is neutral with respect to the law-enforcement mechanism. Under the OT, for example, the Mosaic law could be implemented by either a monarchy or tribal oligarchy.

How you arrange the boxes in the organizational chart is irrelevant to the question of what law supplies the moral norm. Is it God’s preceptive will, revealed in Scripture, or something else?

BTW, this is not limited to the role of the Mosaic criminal code. It includes the creation mandates, proverbial wisdom, NT household codes, and so on. Basically all of the paraenetic material of Scripture is in play.

2.To comment on one specific claim--if I'm reading him correctly, it is simply bizarre that Waldron would relegate the Davidic covenant to the Old Covenant, superseded by the New. This is certainly not the standard amil position as I understand it, viz., O. P. Robertson.

1. The Authority of the Gentile Kingdoms as Divine

Do the Gentile kingdoms possess a legitimate civil authority over the people of God? Is their power de jure as well as de facto? In the course of our examination of this subject we shall note in order the validity, responsibility, and perpetuity of their authority.

a. Its Validity

1) Nebuchadnezzar

2) Cyrus

i) These are counterproductive examples for a Reformed Baptist to establish his point. The Jews were under the thumb of pagan powers (e.g., Assyrian, Babylon, Persia, Rome) because they were covenant-breakers, as a consequence of which they suffered the curse sanctions.

But Waldron is of the opinion that the curse-sanctions are indexed to the unique and temporary historical-redemptive status of Israel. So how does her subjugation to pagan powers due to breach of covenant establish the perpetual de jure validity of such governance?

(5) The Central Importance of the Church for the Work of the Kingdom.

This assumes a false dichotomy between the OT theocracy and the NT church, as if the OT theocracy was not central in the work of the kingdom.

(2) Dictating religious belief and worship is not the task or function of the state. It is outside the sphere of the civil authorities.

(2) For a state to dictate religious belief or worship inevitably requires the State to rule the church or the church to rule the state.

This fails to distinguish between the prescription of what is true and the proscription of what is false. The state has the right to do the latter, but not the former.

Even Rutherford drew this distinction. And that was operative under the OT theocracy.

For example, resident aliens were not compelled to participate in Israel’s religious life. To the contrary, they were forbidden to participate unless they freely converted to Judaism.

Moreover, even Jews were not compelled to profess the faith. Rather, they were, on the one hand, enjoined to observe certain rituals and forbidden, on the other hand, from openly opposing the covenant. But unbelieving Jews didn’t have to pretend to be true believers.

3. The moral law revealed in the Old Covenant has already been revealed to every man because its demands are written in his heart by creation. Man, therefore, by nature has certain ideas about right and wrong. Cf. the following passages Rom. 2:14, 15.

I prefer the interpretation offered by Augustine, Cranfield, and Wright that this refers, not to pagan Gentiles, but Christian Gentiles.

Theonomy under fire-1

I’ve been asked to comment on Pastor Waldron’s “Theonomy: A Reformed Baptist Assessment.”

Because I have other priorities, I’m only going to comment on what interests me. In speed-reading about 130 pages of text it’s entirely possible that I’ve missed something important. Again, because I have other priorities, I’m not going to take time out to hunt down or document all my claims and references. I’ll just rely on memory. And the order of my comments will track the order of the original presentation.

Let me say at the outset that I respect the fairness with which Pastor Waldron has conducted his exposition and evaluation.

BTW, on the question of Jonathan Edwards, I'm happy to take my place alongside the New Lights. However, the Old Lights had a point as well. Godly seed and the regular ministry of the church is the ordinary means by which God grows the church. But we should never neglect evangelism or reject revival on that account.

So far as I know, all of the younger Reconstructionists reject Mr. Rushdoony's Armenian (note not Arminian) view of the patriarchal family (p. 19). This is a major area of disagreement within the Reconstructionist camp. The "Tyler Group," as well as Greg Bahnsen, holds to the biblical nuclear family, where the departure of sons and daughters to set up new covenantal family units (Gen. 2:24) establishes a clear covenantal break with parents. No man will tolerate living in his father's household with his wife and children unless forced to by custom or economics.

There was more to the dispute than this particular point. It involved a dispute over Rush’s familial, low-church, ecclesiology in contrast to the high-church ecclesiology of North, Jordan, et al.

Speaking for myself, although I appreciate high-church aesthetics, I favor a familial, low-church ecclesiology. Israel was a tribal society in which the pater familias presided over the Passover. And the NT church consisted of house-churches.

Although I think that Acts and the Pauline Epistles do teach such a thing as church office, administration of the sacraments is never assigned to the pastor or elder.

In addition, the membership of most churches consists of families, so, in that sense, the natural family is prior to the church.

Finally, if Chilton’s exposé of the Tyler church is reliable (making allowance for the fact that he suffered brain damage due to a heart attack), the Tyler church had degenerated into a mini-cult. (I believe that you can find Chilton’s exposé in back-issues of the Trinity Foundation).

Be that as it may, the whole combination of self-anointed prelacy, smells-and-bells, as well as signs-and-wonders casts the break-up in a different light since the time that Waldron wrote this piece.

And the Tyler church spun off in various directions from there, with Sutton taking the helm the REC seminary, Jordan doing his own thing, and North becoming the Jean Dixon of Xrecons.

It is clear that one peculiarity of Theonomic postmillennialism is its emphasis on the application of Biblical law to every area of human life as the means of bringing about millennial blessing.

As I recall, Bahnsen, for one, rejected that linkage.

As the quote from Rushdoony makes clear the full, present applicability of the blessings described in Lev. 26 and Deut. 28 (and there promised to the obedience of Israel, the Theocratic nation), is the crucial link which connects obedience to the law with millennial blessing. North seconds Rushdoony's point.

1.It could be argued that the blessing/bane structure is bound up with the ceremonial law a la the land-promises, and does not, therefore, carry over into the New Covenant.

2.However, theonomy is not contingent on this particular connection. It would only be a bonus point.

3.But even if you don’t have such a tight-knit blessing/bane correspondence, there is still a general connection (Eph 6:2-3).

This age does not evolve through natural or gradual process into the age to come.

Xrecons don’t attribute this to natural process. I also don’t know that they’re committed to gradualism, per se. You could have mass conversion, mass revival, exponential growth, &c. There are different mechanism and models.

This age is and always will be an evil age.

This may be correct, but, of course, both amils and postmils have their own prooftexts to prove the other side wrong.

Postmillennialism and the Two-stage Coming of the Kingdom.

1.This is slippery. Although amils subscribe to a basic two-stage eschatology (the already/not yet), they also subscribe to inaugurated eschatology. So, to some extent, it can be subdivided into multiple phases.

2.I’d add that all-too-often, the “already/not yet” mantra is a disguised description devoid of any real explanatory power.

Properly understood, no more complete or clear teaching on the coming of the kingdom occurs in the NT than that of the seven parables of the kingdom found in Matthew 13.

The problem with appealing to the parables is that different sides appeal to different parables since some emphasize imminence, while others emphasize progressivity or delay.

This growth of evil in this age is also the explicit teaching of other passages in the NT (2 Thes. 2:7, 8; 2 Tim. 3:1, 12, 13; Rev. 20:7-9).

I’m not sure that you can cobble together verses written by different men to different churches occasioned by different concerns under the assumption that they all have the same historical referent in view. Waldron is assuming what he needs to prove.

Theonomists like North and Rushdoony refuse to accept the Biblical paradox of the parallel growth of good and evil in the present age.

If true, that would not be a paradox.

I do regard parallel growth as a live interpretive option.

There is a theological logic behind the parallel growth of good and evil in the present age. This theological logic, once understood, will tend to corroborate it. Simply stated, it is this. Biblically, both good and evil are capable of maturation individually, corporately, and historically. Evil matures as it rejects light and is progressively hardened. Good matures as it progressively recognizes and rejects evil. It is in the very interaction of light and darkness that this maturing process takes place. In a certain sense it is the very growth of good, the more brilliant shining of light, which is responsible for driving historical evil to its wicked consummation.

There’s some truth to this. However, it is also consistent with the possibility that the forces of evil atrophy over time.

Their dialectic sees only two alternatives: "pessimillennialism" or postmillennialism, optimism or pessimism.

That’s because they’re taking aim at the dominant eschatology, which is the Lindsey/LaHaye variety.

It’s true, though, that North, for one, over does this. And, ironically, he often sounds like Chicken Little.

The first is the meaning of the passage cited by North, Isa. 65:17-25. This passage is arguably the classic locus of postmillennialism.

1.Is it the locus classicus? A gross oversimplification.

2.I agree, though, that North’s interpretation is off-base. He fails to make due allowance for hyperbole as well as the open-textured perspective of typology, which can have more than one historical referent.

<< It ignores the NT interpretation of this prophecy. >>

Up to a point, I agree with the general principle that the NT interprets the OT.

1.But unless you’re a hyperpreterist, you believe that some OT and NT prophecies remain unfulfilled or in process of fulfillment, so although we know how the NT interprets OT oracles which are, in fact, fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, we don’t know in advance of the fact how certain other OT and NT prophecies are being fulfilled or to be fulfilled in the course of or at the end of the church age.

2.The NT, itself, is one part of the prophetic arc of. So there’s still the question of how the NT itself fits into the larger pattern of promise and fulfillment.

3) It forgets the OT character of this passage.

It is a recognized principle of the interpretation of OT prophecy among Reformed commentators that in the OT the blessings of the age of resurrection were much less clearly revealed and were often spoken of in terms familiar to OT Israel. So here in Isa. 65 the blessings of eternal life are held out under the shadow of extended longevity of earthly life and blessing as we know it in this age.

1.Here he (Waldron) and I simply part company. I would not archaize OT prophecy in that manner.

2.In addition, the problem is that all millennial schools appeal to the OT golden age prophecies, but fit them into different time slots. Premils apply them to the Jewish millennium. Augustinian amils apply them to the whole church age. Some contemporary amils (Hoekema, Poythress) apply them to the Consummation. Classic postmils apply them exponentially to the church age while preterist postmils…well…preterize them.

Theonomic postmillennialism must produce a skewed and imbalanced view of the Christian's relative responsibilities in the world. There is visible in their writings a depreciation of "soul-saving" and the church in favor of the dominion mandate with its emphasis on the familial, economic, and civil spheres of life.

1. Perhaps. But as I’ve said before, churches are mostly made up of families, so the natural family is the fundamental unit of the church in particular as well as society in general.

2. In addition, unless Waldron happens to be a universalist, it is simply untrue that soul-saving is the solution to all social ills for the simple reason that all sinners shall not be saved. So what do we do about the reprobate?

Do you believe in fairies?

Kevin Johnson has shut down Coffee Conversations, but not before going out in the hail of bullets, Bonny-n-Clyde style:


I’m done with the overly critical spirit I’ve learned all too well from certain Reformed pastors and laymen over the last five years.

I’m done with the cynical and partisan ecclesiastical showmanship and pride.

I’m done with the cowardly ravaging gossip that goes on in Certain Reformed Evangelical Circles.

I’m done with those who condemn without first looking at their own errors.

I’m done with the biting sarcasm that often accompanies such condemnation.

I’m done with a prejudice against Rome and other communions that exists merely because they are different.

I’m done with the idolatry of our own opinion in Reformedville.

I’m done with an idolatry in Reformed churches that rivals anything Rome has ever had to offer.

I’m done with men who have shown themselves to be neither friends nor brothers.,+shut+down&hl=en&client=safari


Well, what’s there to say? A provocateur will reap what he sows. If he writes in a highly provocative style, he may succeed in provoking a reaction. If he goes out of his way to be offensive, he may succeed in offending the target.

But although he’s shut down Coffee Conversations, he continues to write. Here’s an interesting question: What do Kevin Johnson and J. M. Barrie have in common?


Sometimes, though not often, he had dreams, and they were more painful than the dreams of other boys. For hours he could not be separated from these dreams, though he wailed piteously in them. They had to do, I think, with the riddle of his existence.

Lest he should be taken alive, Hook always carried about his person a dreadful drug, blended by himself of all the death- dealing rings that had come into his possession. Five drops of this he now added to Peter's cup.

Soft and cautious, but in that stillness it was sinister. Peter felt for his dagger till his hand gripped it. Then he spoke.

"Who is that?"

For long there was no answer: then again the knock.

"Who are you?"

No answer.

He was thrilled, and he loved being thrilled. In two strides he reached the door. Unlike Slightly's door, it filled the aperture [opening], so that he could not see beyond it, nor could the one knocking see him.

"I won't open unless you speak," Peter cried.

Then at last the visitor spoke, in a lovely bell-like voice.

"Let me in, Peter."

It was Tink, and quickly he unbarred to her. She flew in excitedly, her face flushed and her dress stained with mud.

"What is it?"

"Oh, you could never guess!" she cried, and offered him three guesses. "Out with it!" he shouted, and in one ungrammatical sentence, as long as the ribbons that conjurers [magicians] pull from their mouths, she told of the capture of Wendy and the boys.

Peter's heart bobbed up and down as he listened. Wendy bound, and on the pirate ship; she who loved everything to be just so!

"I'll rescue her!" he cried, leaping at his weapons. As he leapt he thought of something he could do to please her. He could take his medicine.

His hand closed on the fatal draught.

"No!" shrieked Tinker Bell, who had heard Hook mutter about his deed as he sped through the forest.

"Why not?"

"It is poisoned."

"Poisoned? Who could have poisoned it?"


"Don't be silly. How could Hook have got down here?"

Alas, Tinker Bell could not explain this, for even she did not know the dark secret of Slightly's tree. Nevertheless Hook's words had left no room for doubt. The cup was poisoned.

"Besides," said Peter, quite believing himself "I never fell asleep."

He raised the cup. No time for words now; time for deeds; and with one of her lightning movements Tink got between his lips and the draught, and drained it to the dregs.

"Why, Tink, how dare you drink my medicine?"

But she did not answer. Already she was reeling in the air.

"What is the matter with you?" cried Peter, suddenly afraid.

"It was poisoned, Peter," she told him softly; "and now I am going to be dead."

"O Tink, did you drink it to save me?"


"But why, Tink?"

Her wings would scarcely carry her now, but in reply she alighted on his shoulder and gave his nose a loving bite. She whispered in his ear "You silly ass," and then, tottering to her chamber, lay down on the bed.

His head almost filled the fourth wall of her little room as he knelt near her in distress. Every moment her light was growing fainter; and he knew that if it went out she would be no more. She liked his tears so much that she put out her beautiful finger and let them run over it.

Her voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies.

Peter flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed all who might be dreaming of the Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think: boys and girls in their nighties, and naked papooses in their baskets hung from trees.

"Do you believe?" he cried.

Tink sat up in bed almost briskly to listen to her fate.

She fancied she heard answers in the affirmative, and then again she wasn't sure.

"What do you think?" she asked Peter.

"If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die."

Many clapped.

Some didn't.

A few beasts hissed.

The clapping stopped suddenly; as if countless mothers had rushed to their nurseries to see what on earth was happening; but already Tink was saved. First her voice grew strong, then she popped out of bed, then she was flashing through the room more merry and impudent than ever. She never thought of thanking those who believed, but she would have like to get at the ones who had hissed.

"And now to rescue Wendy!"

The Adventures of Peter Pan



My personal belief is that we attribute all too little power to things like the external rites of the New Covenant such as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. That’s not the way the Bible describes these things, that’s not the way the early Church looked at the matter, but we are all so sure our opinion in this century and the last one are exactly right on the matter. We need to return to the ecclesiology of the magisterial Reformers.

This generation needs the power of such life-changing sacraments. These things are so much more powerful than stunted overly boring systematic theology treatises that they won’t listen to anyway. This generation needs to see death result in life and the new birth that Baptism signifies and in some sense causes. Not that we return to Rome’s understanding, but where is the mystery of our faith in this day and age?

We need to quit worrying about theological error and worry about the state of men’s souls. Men die and go to hell every day. Christ is their answer. They need the waters of Baptism and the grace communicated in the Supper of our Lord. They need the salvation the Church offers–why do we have to spend so much time arguing about it instead of communicating it to others around us?


Both Barrie and Johnson are spinning fairy-tales, but at least Barrier knows that it’s only a fairy-tale, whereas Johnson, like Peter Pan, has taken up full-time residence within his fideistic fairy-tale.

If the sacraments do, indeed, have life-changing power, then what does it matter whether we attribute such power to the sacraments or not? Does their life-changing power depend on our attribution, or do we depend on their life-changing power?

And if, in fact, they have such life-changing power, then why are they not changing more lives? And how did it come to pass that countries and communions which have been dispensing the sacraments to entire nationalities have so little to show for it? Why is church attendance practically nil in Greece and England and the Contingent when, at one time, practically every citizen was baptized and thereby regenerated--where practically ever citizen received communion on a regular basis? If the sacraments are a means of grace, then where’s the grace? Where, indeed, is the “resultant new life and new birth”?

For that matter, evangelical churches celebrate the sacraments just as do liturgical churches. The choice is not between Word or sacrament.

Well, perhaps I should qualify my statement. Word-centered churches also observe the sacraments. But sacramental churches are not often as diligent in preaching the word.

Kevin says that we should quite worrying about theological error, turn away from stunted overly boring systematic theology treatises and turn instead to the sacraments.

Men die and go to hell everyday, he says. They need baptismal grace and Eucharistic grace, he says. They need the salvation offered by the church, he says.

Now there’s only one little problem with his prescription. These are all theological assertions. And different churches offer different prescriptions.

Are we saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? Or are we saved by putting our faith in a wafer? Will a wafer save us?

Yes, I know—there’s a whole theology that goes along with this. But that’s the point. All Kevin has done is to exchange one set of complications for another. Even if you accept his prescription, there is still the question of which pharmacy you go to to fill your prescription. What’s a valid sacrament? In which church can you find the sacraments validly administered?

In traditional sacramentology, a valid sacrament of communion or baptism is contingent on the valid sacrament of ordination, and a valid sacrament of ordination is contingent on apostolic succession. So you need to validate each link in the chain to be assured of sacramental grace.

When all is said and done, Kevin doesn’t want a Savior: he wants a pacifier. He wants to stop thinking about his faith. He wants to turn back the clock to the innocence of a child before the age of discretion and suck on a soothing piece of make-believe. He wants to turn the Evangelical church into one big nursery.

And, at a certain level, he’s right, you know. It’s boring to study Greek and Hebrew. It’s boring to read Greek grammars and Hebrew lexicons. It’s boring to trudge through 1000 page commentaries. It’s boring to read two tomes on Variegated Nomism.

Boring! Boring! Boring! So much easier to sit in the lap of Mother Church and suckle the mother’s milk of someone else’s systematic theology. Let someone else make all the judgment calls and blindly trust in his powers of doctrinal discernment.

Our Lord does, indeed, call upon us to exercise childlike faith—but faith him, and him alone. A Bible-based faith rather than an infantile faith for overgrown children addicted to pious nonsense.


One of the demands made by critics of “Evangelical cobelligerence” is that those who support it make a Biblical case for cobelligerence.

Now, in one respect, this is a perfectly reasonable request. After all, if sola Scriptura is our rule of faith, then don’t we need some Biblical warrant for what we do?

As I say, there is nothing wrong with this request. The problem is not with the nature of the request, but the source of the request. For this debate is going on within the Reformed Baptist community--although there are parallel debates in other bodies such as the OPC.

For example, suppose someone demanded that you make a case for the deity of Christ. There’s nothing wrong with that demand. But it’s the sort of demand you’d expect to come from the lips of a J-Dub.

You would be rather surprised if that demand came from the lips of a Reformed Baptist. Why? Because he already belongs to a theological tradition with a track-record on certain issues. So you take many things for granted. You don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel each time you have a conversation.

It would be rather odd if a Reformed Baptist demanded of me that I make a case for credobaptism. Presumably he believes in credobaptism himself. That’s one of the reasons he’s a Reformed Baptist. He believes that the case has already been made for credobaptism.

What is surprising about Camp’s demand is not the nature of the request, but the source of the request. For some of the things he is saying play right into the old polemical Presbyterian stereotype of Reformed Baptists as crypto-Anabaptists or crypto-Dispensationalists.

Instead, for example, of asking what reasons Albert Mohler can give for cobelligerence, it might clarify matters to turn the question around and ask why an Anabaptist does not believe in cobelligerence.

Well, for one thing, an Anabaptist doesn’t believe in cobelligerence because he doesn’t believe in common grace. For him, there is no overlap between the church and the world. These occupy separate and antithetical domains.

For another thing, he doesn’t believe in cobelligerence because he doesn’t believe in covenant theology. For him, there is no carryover from OT ethics to NT ethics, from OT statecraft to NT statecraft.

Now, this is a position with a certain measure of internal consistency to it. If it’s wrong, it’s consistently wrong.

By contrast, one of the things which sets a Reformed Baptist apart from an Anabaptist is a belief in common grace and covenant theology. And these are the theological presuppositions of cobelligerence. So is the burden of proof on Dr. Mohler or Steve Camp?

There is also the question of the necessary level of Scriptural specification to warrant whatever what we do. Do we need specific warrant for everything we do? Or do we only need to show that our particular practice is a special case of a general Scriptural norm?

The Bible is full of general norms. But it often leaves the concrete implementation up to the discretion of the believer. And that’s because the application varies with the situation.

We do many things which are not spelled out in Scripture. Their justification lies in the fact that these are particular means of facilitating general ends.

For example, the Bible never specifies the creation of creeds. And there are some Christians who oppose human creeds. But Reformed Baptists have a creed--the London Baptist Confession of Faith.

The justification for this custom is that it represents a reflection or extension of the church’s teaching ministry, which is mandated in Scripture.

Over the centuries, Evangelicals had devised a number of adaptive strategies designed to apply general Scriptural norms to our specific circumstances.

Formal ordination boards, with oral and written exams, have no express warrant in Scripture. Mass media like World Magazine, the Founders Journal, and CampOnThis have no express warrant in Scripture.

Seminaries like Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have no express warrant in Scripture. Denominations like the SBC have no express warrant in Scripture. One could go on and on, but you get the point.

In a case like this, the necessary burden of proof is keyed to the necessary level of warrant. And their interrelation does not entail a one-to-one correspondence between a specific Scriptural injunction and a specific application, but rather, a one-to-many correspondence between a general Scriptural injunction and a wide variety of applications, each of which is a special case of the general injunction. That’s the operative framework.

Friday, July 22, 2005


1.Some readers may find my position confusing. The explanation is that, when it comes to the sacraments, I’m closer to the Baptists, but when it comes to politics, I’m closer to the Presbyterians. So why don’t we split the difference and classify me as a Bapterian?

2.Did I take umbrage at being called a theonomist? No. If someone wants to call me that, I can live with that. Doesn’t bother me.

3.Am I a theonomist? Is that what I’d call myself?

I suppose that’s a matter of definition. It’s true that my views aren’t much different from those of Bahnsen and Rushdoony. So I suppose you could call me a theonomist.

But, then, my views aren’t much different from those of John Frame, John Murray, and B. B. Warfield. So I suppose you could call me an old school Presbyterian.

And my views aren’t much different from Kuyper or van Prinsterer. So I suppose you could call me a Kuyperian.

And my views aren’t much different from those of John Cotton, John Winthrop, Cotton Matter, and William Bradford. So I suppose you could call me a Pilgrim.

And my views aren’t much different from those of Oliver Cromwell, John Owen, and Samuel Rutherford. So I suppose you could call me a Puritan.

And my views aren’t much different from Calvin, Knox, and du Plessis Mornay. So I suppose you could call me a Calvinian.

In terms of historical Reformed theology, my position is pretty mainstream. It’s the idiosyncratic and contraconfessional views of Meredith Kline and his epigones that are out of the mainstream of Reformed tradition.

That came out loud-and-clear in the Irons’ trial. Lee Irons is a brilliant and consistent protégé of Meredith Kline. Now, there were many twists and turns to that trial, but setting to one side all of the evasive, hair-splitting nuances, it came down to two things:

i) Irons is of the opinion that redemptive-historical theology has superseded the traditional Reformed view of the law as it bears on believers and unbelievers alike. And he also embraces, with a vengeance, Kline’s desacralized view of common grace.

On the role of the law and, relatedly, church/state relations, Irons is of the opinion that traditional Reformed theologians did the best they could, but they were children of their time, and did not have the benefit of the revolutionary insights afforded by redemptive-historical theology. The work of Vos and especially of Kline is said to have rendered that paradigm obsolete.

Kline’s position on the role of the law is no more confessional than Shepherd’s. It’s just counterconfessional in a different way.

ii) And if you want to tabulate the cash-value of this paradigm-shift, just look at Lee’s tacit endorsement of same-sex marriage--which was what got him into hot water in the first place.

And if the state doesn’t have the right to draw the line then and there, where, if at all, does it draw the line?

4.The problem I have with Chad is that he is doing the same thing as the liberals do. The liberals substitute labels for arguments. If you disagree with then over, say, sodomy, they brand you as a homophobe, end of discussion. Chad is resorting to the same tactic.

And his proof-by-labeling isn’t limited to disciples of Bahnsen or Rushdoony. Notice that Jus denied he was a theonomist. Instead, he identified his own position with the position of the Westminster Divines, which—incidentally—is the position taken by Paul Helm, the Reformed Baptist philosopher and theologian.

But, for Chad, that makes him a theonomist. And, for Chad, once you’ve assigned the label, then that absolves you of having to defend your position from Scripture.

Notice that Liefeld comes in for the same silent treatment. Now, in some respects, Liefeld is decidedly left of center. On the one hand, he’s no Calvinist. On the other hand, he is an egalitarian. And he also denies church office. This hardly puts him in the same camp as Bahnsen or Rushdoony.

5. Speaking of “camp,” is Camp an Anabaptist? Well, he doesn’t live like an Anabaptist. On the other hand, what I’ve quoted from him sure sounds like classic Anabaptist theology on church/state relations and the role of the law.

So it’s six of one and half a dozen of another. Either he’s a confused Calvinist or else he’s a confused Anabaptist! Either he’s a Calvinist with an Anabaptist view of the law or else an Anabaptist with Calvinist view of grace. Take your pick since his inconsistencies don’t select for one classification over another. I’ll leave others to sort that one out.

6.Finally, forgive me for interjecting a reality check, but I can’t help noticing the disconnect between the airtight bubble into which Camp and his defenders withdraw and the world out the window, where child molesters and suicide bombers are running amok.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Holy Batmania!

Over at Camp’s outfit, “Breuss Wane,” aka Chad Bresson, posted the following comment about my material

You'll have to excuse those of us who simply dismiss the theonomically inclined argument outright without feeling the slightest compunction to answer.

Impressive, isn’t it? Life is so much easier when labels do the work of arguments.

Keep in mind that this comment was made with reference to my “Anarchy in the Camp” essay, in which, unlike Chad, I offered some exegetical arguments for my position. For example, I cited Walter Liefeld’s commentary on the Pastoral Epistles. Last time I checked, Liefeld was not your average witchburning theocrat--unless he's been leading a double-life all these years.

So I guess that Chad only holds himself answerable to the 23 subscribers to Kerux magazine. A small world for a small mind.

Incidentally, Vos never hesitated to engage those with whom he disagreed. But I guess attitude is everything.

The caped crusader then followed up that comment with the following:

Because the gospel is inherent to everything that a Christian does in the marketplace of ideas. There is no equivalence to buying a car, or attending a sporting event, or mowing the grass AND engaging the marketplace of ideas. The moment a "philosophy" is involved is the moment "the gospel" becomes involved de facto (whether we admit it or not).

Actually, I agree with Chad about this--if he’s saying what I think he’s saying. But you can take this all-or-nothing outlook in either of two opposing directions: Amish or Kuyperian. I’m Kuyperian.

However, Chad and Camp talk as though they're Amish. Take, once more, this comment by Camp:

Abortion, Gay marriage, etc. are not political problems, but are issues of the heart and are spiritual ones. They need the gospel; not legislation.

Presumably, Chad agrees with that. But while they talk the Amish talk, they don’t appear to walk the Amish walk. For example, Chad makes his living as a journalist.

It’s exceeding strange that a journalist would strike an apolitical pose. Why is a Christian reporting on world events unless he’s interested in cultural engagement? Shouldn’t he be riding around in a horse-and-buggy with a funny hat and a German accent?

At least the Amish have a consistent position in what they preach and practice. They are true to 2 Cor 6:14-7:1 as they see it. But Chad seems to have an Amish philosophy with a Kuyperian lifestyle.

Of course, I don’t expect him to explain this to me since, in a good Anabaptist fashion, he doesn’t speak with worldings like me. He only relates to his own kind--you known, the 23 subscribers to…but I’ve said that already.

Yet let’s go back, one more time, to Camp’s statement about same-sex marriage. Well, if we shouldn’t outlaw same-sex marriage, then I guess we shouldn’t outlaw child marriage.

That’s not just a hypothetical. Child-marriage is commonplace in the Muslims world. And when Muslims emigrate to the West, they demand their own laws.

So, should an adult Muslim-American male be allowed to wed and consummate his marriage with a prepubescent girl?

I say “we” shouldn’t, since I assume that Chad and Camp frown on Christians who lobby for this sort of legislation. But if Christians don’t do it, who will?

And while we’re on the subject, what about NAMBLA? What about sodomites adopting children? What about kiddy porn?

Since Chad doesn’t care for “theonomy,” what is his Vossian-cum-Klinean version of social ethics?

Since he’s written off OT ethics tout court, and since he presumably believes that NT ethics are for Christians only (at least, that’s Camp’s position), just where then, between the upper register and the already/not yet, between the Alpha-Author and the Omega-Consummator, between the Cosmic House and the Glory-Tabernacle, between the advent of the Antilord and the parousia of the Glory-Spirit, does he draw the line on unbelievers?

I know where the Amish draw the line. And I know where Rushdoony draws the line.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Anarchy in the Camp

Here are some more gems from Steve Camp:

Where ECB comes in (a term I coined) is that they are trying to fight spiritual battles with carnal weaponry (2 Cor. 10:1-4). Abortion, Gay marriage, etc. are not political problems, but are issues of the heart and are spiritual ones. They need the gospel; not legislation.

We don't have the right biblically to go around holding unsaved people to that same standard (1 Cor. 5; Rom. 6:20) as they do in many of their writings and radio broadcasts (Being constantly critical of non-believers for living like non-believers.)

So Steve Camp is an anarchist—at least where unbelievers are concerned. According to St. Paul, the law is not for the lawful, but for the lawless (1 Tim 1:9).

Paul is no antinomian. He isn’t saying that Christians are above the law. His point, rather, is that the Christian is already law-abiding. He has internalized the law. He is a law-keeper, not a law-breaker.

But in Camp’s upside down world, the law is not for unbelievers, but believers--not for the unjust, but for the just, not for rebels, but for the righteous.

Notice, in vv10-11, how Paul goes on to specify the very sorts of unsaved sinners whom Camp has exempted.

Indeed, as Liefeld points out in his commentary, vv9-10 are modeled upon the Decalogue (Deut 5:6-12). Cf. 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus (Zondervan 1999), 64.

So the law that unbeliever are still under is the Mosaic criminal code—or at least the Decalogue. And it’s hard to separate the case law for the Mosaic code which the case law exemplifies.

So Steve Camp has decided to go into business for himself, with his homemade theology and moral anarchy.

It’s true that abortion and sodomy are spiritual problems. They issue from a sinful heart. Of course, the very same thing could be said of rape and robbery, as well as other forms of murder and immorality.

Does it follow that homicide and pedophilia, to take but two examples, are not political problems, but only spiritual problems? Is the solution, not laws banning murder and child-rape, but mass evangelism?

In the first place, laws don’t exist for the benefit of the perpetrator, but for the potential victim--as, among other things, a deterrent to crime. Laws were never intended to help the perpetrator.

There is, in addition, the principle of retributive justice. But Camp abandons both deterrence and retribution for a purely remedial rationale. That, however, is unscriptural.

Is there a double standard--one for believers and another for unbelievers? Is there no common code of conduct?

Camp is confusing social ethics with sodality or consociation. You can’t have a society without social mores. You can’t have a polis without a political system.

But people relate to each other on more than one level. There are various subcultures within the general culture.

I, as an American citizen, am subject to Federal law. I’m also subject to state laws, which vary from state to state.

A student, a soldier, or a frat-boy, si as a member of a voluntary association, subject to its particular terms of membership. If you break the rules, you can be expelled. But to be expelled from school is not to lose your US citizenship.

The church is a voluntary association, with its own distinctive terms of membership. These are inapplicable to the unbeliever for the simple reason that the unbeliever is not a member of the church, and is disqualified from membership due to his unbelief. But if hardly follows from this fact that there is no standard of common decency.

We see this illustrated in the Mosaic Law. According to the Law, a resident alien was excluded from the Passover unless he underwent circumcision.

He was exempt from the ceremonial law. But he was not exempt from the civil law. The criminal code applied to Jew and resident alien alike.

From this distance we cannot always draw a bright red line. There were unspoken rules to which we are not privy. There was a cultural preunderstanding and common knowledge that we can’t recover.

When in doubt, we have to draw our own lines, based on broad Biblical norms. But the radical individualism and laissez-faire antinomianism of Camp is wholly opposed to Biblical ethics.

The white man's burden

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

- Rudyard Kipling

This is the opening stanza of a notorious poem, penned at the height of Victorian imperialism.

It is regularly held up as a paradigm-case of white supremacist racism. The ironic thing is that it’s hard to tell the difference between Kipling’s patronizing attitude and the equally patronizing attitude of modern-day white liberals. They still treat Africa as though it were a European colony or charity-case, just waiting for the Great White Hope to swoop in and civilize the backward natives.

Another irony is that in the unraveling of the Anglican Communion, African clergymen generally regard their Caucasian counterparts north of the equator as modern-day barbarians who have reverted to heathen mores. If anything, the S. hemisphere needs to reevangelize the N. hemisphere.

In my opinion, the best thing we could do for Africa is to arm--as in firearms--our brothers so that they are able to defend themselves against the jihadis.

Rushdoony wrote an excellent book on The Politics of Guilty & Pity which is well worth reading at a time like this. And the following bloggers (see below) have posted some excellent material on the current shakedown. In particular, Frank Turk has been running a great series on the whole subject.

As a practical matter, "soak the rich" is code language for soak the middle class, because the poor don't pay income tax and the rich hire tax attorneys. Remember that Teresa Heinz-Kerry, a multi-billionairess, is in a low-income tax bracket. Income redistribution begins, not at the top, but in the middle, and moves upward or downward.

Crampton cramps

With his permission, I’m posting an email from Dr. Michael Sudduth:


>First, Cornelius Van Til, who is often thought of as a staunch presuppositionalist (461), is not a >presuppositionalist. Why? Because he believes that there are proofs for the existence of God. As >cited by Dr. Bahnsen, Dr. Van Til writes: “I do not reject ‘the theistic proofs’ but merely insist on >formulating them in such a way as not to compromise the doctrines of Scripture…. There is a >natural theology that is legitimate” (613); and “When the proofs are thus formulated [i.e., on a >Christian basis] they have absolute probative force” (615). This is true, we are told, of the >“ontological proof,” the “cosmological proof,” and the “teleological proof” (621). Dr. Bahnsen, in >summarizing his teacher’s position, states: “Van Til did not sweepingly and indiscriminately discard >theistic proofs. He affirmed quite boldly that the argument for the existence of God, when properly >construed, is indeed objectively valid” (622).


This is the same argument Robbins presents in his lectures. Robbins brings this one up in at least two of the lectures in which he discusses presuppositionalism. As I think Steve and Aquascum pointed out, the criticism is entirely lame. Here's the better formulation. Clark was a presuppositionalist. Clark rejected theistic proofs. Therefore, presuppositionalism rejects theistic proofs. :-)

>Whereas “the traditional method proposes to show only that the truth of Christianity is ‘highly >probable,’” the presuppositional method intends to show that Christianity is “infallible and >certain” (545).

But of course this isn't the only alleged difference. Crampton fails to note that it is structurally an argument to the necessity of Christian theism to account for the conditions presupposed by the traditional proofs (e.g., causation, efficacy of human reasoning).

>Understandably, then, Dr. Bahnsen is openly critical of Gordon Clark, who denies the validity of the >theistic proofs altogether (671

Yes, and Clark also accuses the arguments of being circular. So given Clark's strict definition of validity, which is it? Are the arguments circular and thus necessarily valid? Or are they invalid and non-circular? I'll chew up Clark in my book and spit him out like an old piece of chewing gum.

>Dr. Clark, he writes, is a “dogmatist,” who believes that the Bible is to be our indemonstrable, >axiomatic starting point.

For what? The Bible was also Van Til's starting point. Crampton apparently ignores the ambiguity of "starting point."

>Amazingly, Dr. Bahnsen also criticizes Dr. Clark because, even though “Clark did endorse rational >discussion with the unbeliever and criticism of the unbeliever’s theory of knowledge, ethical stand, >etc.,…[Dr. Clark averred that] the only ‘reason’ (cause) for an unbeliever choosing the Bible over the >Koran is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit” (466n). Query: From a Reformed and Biblical >standpoint, what other “reason” or “cause” could there be?

Like I told you guys earlier, this is how scripturalists respond to the query, "so what reason do you have for accepting Scripturalism." They decide its best to equivocate on the word "reason." Pure intellectual high jinx.


Know your enemy!

As is his prerogative, David Kear has offered a response, of sorts, to my comments:

I said:
"i) The IRA is an example of domestic terrorism based on issues of nationalism and colonialism, not international terrorism. The IRA isn’t blowing up soft targets around the world."

"ii)”Foreign” and “international” are not synonymous. In any case, the issue is not some technical definition of what constitutes an international terrorist organization, but the actual threat level which it poses to the free world."

He said:
(Answer to the first two) You are not arguing with me. You are arguing with Colon Powell.

How is this any sort of answer?

i) So what if I were arguing with Colin Powel? Actually, Powell was just reaffirming something generated by the State Dept. under the auspices of Madeleine Albright.

How does this address the facts of the case? How does this “answer” constitute a realistic risk assessment? It doesn’t.

Kear acts as if the way to deal with suicide bombers is to look up a definition of terrorist in the dictionary.

This is not an argument from authority, but a factual question of the threat-level posed by certain terrorist organizations.

BTW, I happen to agree with Newt Gingrich on the need to reform the culture of Foggy Bottom. It suffers from an acute case of clientitus.

ii) Since Kear is evidently opposed to Administration policy on the Iraq war, why is he citing a document from the State Dept., anyway? Clearly he doesn’t defer to the mere authority of the Administration to settle either the de facto or de jure merits of the case.

iii) Even on its own grounds, the document does not treat “foreign” and “international” as synonymous. All it does is to designate certain offshore terrorist organizations as “foreign.”

By definition, they are foreign in relation to the continental US. That doesn’t make them “international” in the sense of blowing up innocent civilians all over the world. These are not interchangeable realities.

Why doesn’t Kear drop the semantic games and get serious about the mortal peril we’re in?

I said:
"iii) Why could a war on Islam not be considered a just war? Islam is the aggressor. Our response would be a defensive war or counteroffensive."

He said:
Simple, Islam is not the aggressor. Islam is no more the aggressor than the Lutheran church in WW2.

Well, this is simple, all right. Simple to a fault.

i) Kear doesn’t spell out what he means. I guess the assumption is that the Lutheran church in WW2 was an unwilling accomplice to the Third Reich. Actually, there were some bona fide Nazi theologians like Kittel. Conversely, there were also some Lutheran theologians like Bonhoeffer and Kasemann who resisted the Third Reich.

ii) In general, though, to the extent the Lutheran church collaborated with the Nazi regime, it did so under compulsion.

But that’s just where the analogy breaks down. Jihadist clerics and Muslim terrorists are not acting under coercion. Suicide bombers are volunteers, not draftees.

iii) Or, to press his own comparison, what about Mosques which serve as armories? What about Mosques which function as buckers from which militants fire upon US troops? And all this with the blessing of the Mullahs and Imams.

If Lutheran churches had been turned into armories and bunkers, they would have been legitimate targets.

I said:
"iv) Just-war theory is a product of medieval moral theology. Why does David Kear embrace this part of medieval moral theology, but not the part about the Crusades?"

He said:
Here is a good site to learn some modern ideas of the Just War Concept. My opinion is that the Crusades did not meet the criteria in most cases either.

i) Kear is either missing the point or ducking the point. The initial question is why he regards just-war theory as authoritative? Does each and every one of just-war criteria enjoy Scriptural support?

Speaking for myself, I take my point of departure with the Biblical laws of warfare (e.g., Deut 20).

ii) Actually, if you bother to read Urban II or Anna Comnena, you’ll see that Medieval Muslims were the aggressors, as defined by just-war criteria.

I said:
"v) Is it merely guilt-by-association that leads us to link jihadism with Islam? This is not a Christian characterization of Islam. Rather, that’s part of Islam’s self-definition."

He said:
This is like saying that blowing up abortion clinics is a self description of Christianity. I am a Christian. I am pro-life. I have even gone to jail to protect the unborn. But, I do not blow up clinics. Fairly simple concept.

Fairly simple fallacy, you mean. Presumable, Kear doesn’t believe in firebombing abortion clinics because he thinks that this activity is contrary to Scripture or Christian ethics or whatever.

So, for the argument from analogy to hold, terrorism committed in the name of Allah would have to be contrary to the Koran or Islamic theology.

But Kear is simply turning a blind eye, both to the theology of jihad as well as the history of jihad.

In Islam, the rule of faith is more like Catholicism or Orthodoxy than Protestantism. It isn’t a Koran-only faith. Tradition is also authoritative in Islam. That figures in the self-definition of Islam.

I'd add that the comparison with abortion clinics is fatally flawed in another couple of respects:

i) These are isolated events. There is no trend or pattern here.

ii) These incidents come in for the nearly unanimous condemnation of Evangelical clergy. By contrast, the way in which most Muslim clerics respond to Islamo-terrorism is to: (a) incite further violence; (b) reply with deafening silence; (c) condemn the death of the innocent, but redefine "innocent" to exclude Christians and Jews and Americans and Westerners and collaborators with the Great Satan.

I said:
"It is not a case of guilt-by-association to judge behavior by its stated belief-system. Would Kear make these same generous allowances for the Nazis?"

He said:
No, but I do make the same allowances for the Lutheran church that hung swastikas from their alters. Under your logic we should have declared war on the Lutheran Church. Or better yet since you can't differentiate between Lutherans and Christianity we should have declared war on Christianity.

This is intellectually obtuse. Did the Lutheran church have a theological tradition of holy war? Did the Lutheran church have a history of waging holy war?

Under my logic, the Koran is analogous to Mein Kampf.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A word on the war

Just to clarify my position on the Iraq war, I’ve always been of the opinion that, unlike the war in Afghanistan, it is possible for reasonable men to differ over the wisdom of the Iraq war.

There are perfectly respectable conservatives like Bob Novak, Bill Buckley, and George F. Will who have registered prudential reservations about the Iraq war.

My problem is when I can’t tell the difference between Pat Buchanan and Michael Moore, Gary North and Jim Wallis.

Camp rant

Steve Camp ( has some very creative theories about church/state relations:

JSII wants God to "save the United States and this Honorable Court." How? (I know that "save" here means to "preserve, protect and endure"), but how do they propose to do this? Political activism by the church. This is so foolish ladies and gentlemen, again. It is the Lord who establishes governments and they are under His sovereign control (Psalm 2:1-5; Rom. 13:1-7).

This is a striking admission. Camp denies the sovereignty of God. According to Camp, governments are under God’s sovereign control, but political activism is not under God’s sovereign control. I guess that makes Camp a political open theist.

1. As Christians and as individual citizens in a free society, can we make our voice known on political issues without violating the standard of Scripture? Yes. We enjoy that freedom as individuals constitutionally in our nation to voice our views in a lawful manner and to do so in a way that doesn't tarnish or diminish our testimony for the Lord, His gospel, or His Word and still show respect for those in governing authority in our land (Romans 13:1-7). We may do so through voting, contacting our Senators or Congressmen; through lawful assembly, and local community involvement. We can make our voice known, but then we must leave the results to the Lord; for He is sovereignly in control over all the affairs of men and will even use unrighteous governments and their leaders to fulfill His perfect and providential will on the earth.

Once again, Camp denies the sovereignty of God. Actually, if God is truly sovereign, then it matters not whether we left the results to him. For if God is truly sovereign, then his overruling providence would check our efforts in case we did not leave the results to God.

So Mr. Camp evidently believes in conditional divine sovereignty. God is sovereign if and only if we leave the results to God. If we don’t leave the results to God, then God’s sovereignty is infringed.

Of course, the whole point of sovereignty is that it can’t be thwarted no matter what you do. So, if we can’t frustrate the will of God by not leaving the results in his hands, then, once again, Mr. Camp denies the sovereignty of God. That confirms my original suspicion that Camp must be a political open theist.

<< 2. Is it biblically permissible to unit the body of Christ by turning them into a "voting block entity" or "religious PAC" to use in threatening or militant tones to try and strong arm politicians to fulfill our political agenda? No. The role of the church collectively and biblically, has never been to promote governmental legislation or to act in an aggressive manner against the governing authorities over us. The Apostle Peter warns against this in 1 Peter 4:15 when he exhorts those who are suffering under the tyrannical and torturous reign of Nero, to not suffer as a "troublesome meddler." Or as they are known in our day... "political agitators." >>

This claim is fascinating on several grounds:

i) Our own form of government, unlike imperial Rome, is based on the principle of popular sovereignty. In the words of the Declaration of Independence:


Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever the form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.


So, by his own admission, Camp is not a patriotic American. To the contrary a political subversive. He openly denies the principle of popular sovereignty on which our Republic is founded.

ii) Camp is evidently ignorant of the strategic role played by Christians in the Revolutionary War and the Continental Congress:


At least 12 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were Presbyterians, including the only minister, Witherspoon. Later, 10 of the 55 delegates who prepared the Constitution were Presbyterians.

At least 235 Princeton students rendered some military service for the patriots (about 50 as chaplains).

No colonial Presbyterian exploited sermons as freely for political purposes as did their contemporary Congregationalists in New England, where annual rituals like election sermons had been carried on since the early 17C.

D. Hart ed. Dictionary of the Presbyterian & Reformed Tradition in American (IVP 1999), 19.


So Camp has chosen to take the side of the Redcoats.

iii) How is it Biblically impermissible for Christians to unite as a voting block? The Bible says we should submit to government. The 1st Amendment says we have a right to freedom of assembly. When Christians unite as a voting block, they are respecting their form of government.

iv) Another hypocritical feature of Camp’s position is that while he pays lip -service to civil authority, he disdains ecclesiastical authority. Although Scripture enjoins our respectful deference to religious leaders (e.g. Acts 23:4-5; 1 Tim 5:19; Heb 12:17), he, a mere layman, has engaged in a running defamation campaign against the Rev. Dr. Albert Mohler.

To try and twist politicians with the threat of not being re-elected (we will remember in November was the montra last July) is prohibited biblically;

But by his own admission, “we, the people,” have the Constitutional right to elect our representatives. And we have the same right, under the US Constitution, as well as state constitutions, to vote them out of office. We also have the legal right to recall state officials who hold elective office.

In addition, running ads against a candidate is protected speech under the 1st amendment.

Camp is inciting Christians to civil disobedience by attacking our form of government and Bill of Rights. Far from inculcating lawful submission to the powers-that-be, Camp is leveling a seditious attack on the democratic process.

3. Is using a Sunday evening worship service to promote a political rally or cause permissible in the Word of God? Never! There is not one example in the N.T. where the worship of the Lord, the preaching of His Word, the sharing of His gospel, the fellowship of His people, the practice of baptism and communion, prayer, etc. is ever to "take a back seat" to a political function.

i) To begin with, the NT has very little to say about the details of public worship, period. This is in conspicuous and deliberate contrast to the Mosaic cultus, with its blueprint of ritual prescriptions and proscriptions.

Moreover, of what little the NT does have to say about the details of public worship, much of that is descriptive rather than prescriptive or proscriptive.

Since revelation is the measure of responsibility, this means that God has given Christians a good deal of freedom in what to include or exclude from the worship service.

ii) The NT is addressing itself to the situation of Christians living in a pre-Constantinian political environment. The question, then, is how we should apply Scripture in a post-Constantinian situation, where Christians have added responsibilities that come with majority rule.

In Scripture, a priest could hold political office (1 Sam 4:18). He could function as Prime Minister (2 Chron 19:11). And he could even stage a coup d’etat (2 Kgs 11).

Perhaps, though, Camp is a Marcionite--excising the OT from his canon.

WMD redux

Al-Qaida's U.S. nuclear targets
Captured documents, terrorists reveal bin Laden's preferred dates, places for 'American Hiroshima'

Al-Qaida's prime targets for launching nuclear terrorist attacks are the nine U.S. cities with the highest Jewish populations, according to captured leaders and documents.

As first revealed last week in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND, Osama bin Laden is planning what he calls an "American Hiroshima," the ultimate terrorist attack on U.S. cities, using nuclear weapons already smuggled into the country across the Mexican border along with thousands of sleeper agents.

The series of attacks is designed to kill 4 million, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history.

At least two fully assembled and operational nuclear weapons are believed to be hidden in the United States already, according to G2 Bulletin intelligence sources and an upcoming book, "The al-Qaida Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime and the Coming Apocalypse," by former FBI consultant Paul L. Williams.

The cities chosen as optimal targets are New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Washington, D.C. New York and Washington top the preferred target list for al-Qaida leadership.

Bin Laden's goal, according to G2 Bulletin sources, is to launch one initial attack, followed by a second on another city to simulate the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The optimal dates for the attacks are Aug. 6, the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, Sept. 11 and May 14, the anniversary of the re-creation of the state of Israel in 1948. No specific year has been suggested, however, this Aug. 6 represents the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima attack.

The captured terrorists and documents also suggest smaller attacks may take place on American soil before the nuclear incidents. They may include some involving automatic weapons at schools and shopping malls, but will not include any airplane hijackings. Why? Because bin Laden does not want any failed efforts to overshadow "the success of Sept. 11." There will also not be any attacks on U.S. nuclear power plants. The rationale? The nuclear power plants can act as force multipliers when the weapons of mass destruction are detonated.

Another requirement dictated from the top at al-Qaida is that the attacks take place in daylight, so that the whole world will be able to see the images of a mushroom cloud over an American city.

One of the sources for the information is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, who is now in U.S. custody.

As previously reported by G2 Bulletin, al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union – including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.

U.S. military sources also say there is evidence to suggest al-Qaida is paying former Russian special forces "Spetznaz" troops to assist the terrorist group in locating nuclear weapons planted in the U.S. during the Cold War. Osama bin Laden's group is also paying nuclear scientists from Russia and Pakistan to maintain its existing nuclear arsenal and assemble additional weapons with the materials it has invested hundreds of millions in procuring over a period of 10 years. Al-Qaida sources indicate they would prefer to use Russian-made weapons for symbolic reasons.

The plans for the devastating nuclear attack on the U.S. have been under development for more than a decade. It is designed as a final deadly blow to the U.S., which is seen by al-Qaida and its allies as "the Great Satan."

At least half the nuclear weapons in the al-Qaida arsenal were obtained for cash from the Chechen terrorist allies.

But the most disturbing news is that high level U.S. officials now believe at least some of those weapons have been smuggled into the U.S. for use in the near future in major cities as part of this "American Hiroshima" plan.

According to Williams, former CIA Director George Tenet informed President Bush one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that at least two suitcase nukes had reached al-Qaida operatives in the U.S.

"Each suitcase weighed between 50 and 80 kilograms (approximately 110 to 176 pounds) and contained enough fissionable plutonium and uranium to produce an explosive yield in excess of two kilotons," wrote Williams. "One suitcase bore the serial number 9999 and the Russian manufacturing date of 1988. The design of the weapons, Tenet told the president, is simple. The plutonium and uranium are kept in separate compartments that are linked to a triggering mechanism that can be activated by a clock or a call from the cell phone."

According to the author, the news sent Bush "through the roof," prompting him to order his national security team to give nuclear terrorism priority over every other threat to America.

However, it is worth noting that Bush failed to translate this policy into securing the U.S.-Mexico border through which the nuclear weapons and al-Qaida operatives are believed to have passed with the help of the MS-13 smugglers. He did, however, order the building of underground bunkers away from major metropolitan areas for use by federal government managers following an attack.

Bin Laden, according to Williams, has nearly unlimited funds to spend on his nuclear terrorism plan because he has remained in control of the Afghanistan-produced heroin industry. Poppy production has greatly increased even while U.S. troops are occupying the country, he writes. Al-Qaida has developed close relations with the Albanian Mafia, which assists in the smuggling and sale of heroin throughout Europe and the U.S.

Some of that money is used to pay off the notorious MS-13 street gang between $30,000 and $50,000 for each sleeper agent smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. The sleepers are also provided with phony identification, most often bogus matricula consular ID cards indistinguishable from Mexico's official ID, now accepted in the U.S. to open bank accounts and obtain driver's licenses.

According to Williams' sources, thousands of al-Qaida sleeper agents have now been forward deployed into the U.S. to carry out their individual roles in the coming "American Hiroshima" plan.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

"Chemical expert testifies in Jordan trial" (thousands of people would have died)
AP story via The Herald Online

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Islamic militants planned to detonate an explosion that would have sent a cloud of toxic chemicals across Jordan, causing death, blindness and sickness, a chemical expert testified in a military court Wednesday.

Col. Najeh al-Azam was giving evidence in the trial of 13 men who are alleged to have planned what would have been the world's first chemical attack by the al-Qaida terror group. The accused include al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi, and three other fugitives who are being tried in absentia.

Jordanian security services foiled the plot in April last year. Jordanian officials say that had it been carried out, thousands of people would have died.

Azam, a chemical expert at Jordan's General Intelligence Department, testified that a large quantity of plastic containers seized from the defendants contained hydrogen peroxide. He said the accused planned to add "ground black cumin" to the concentrated solution, which would have made "an explosive substance stronger than TNT."

"They sought to disperse poisonous gases which would have caused death, illnesses and blindness," Azam testified.

He said his information was based on the steps to manufacture the chemical explosion as given in the confession of prime defendant Azmi al-Jayousi. Al-Jayousi has told the court his confession was extracted under duress.

Al-Azam said the defendants also had oxygen, sulfuric acid and nitroglycerin.

A consultant on weapons of mass destruction, Andy Oppenheimer of Jane's Information Group, told The Associated Press that some of the substances identified in Wednesday's hearing could be used in chemical weapons and were "extremely volatile."

The indictment says al-Zarqawi intended that suicide bombers would detonate vehicles filled with the chemicals in an attack on the Amman headquarters of the intelligence department.

Jordanian security officials have said other potential targets were the prime minister's office and the U.S. Embassy in Jordan. But the indictment does not mention these sites.

In his televised confession, Al-Jayousi said his group had plotted the chemical attack under instruction from al-Zarqawi. In an audiotape posted on the Internet in May 2004, a man who identified himself as al-Zarqawi acknowledged his group had been plotting an attack in Jordan but denied it involved chemicals.

If convicted, 12 of the defendants - including al-Zarqawi - could be sentenced to death. The 13th man is charged with the lesser crime of assisting two fugitives.

By JAMAL HALABY, Associated Press Writer
TOPICS: News/Current Events

Jordanian security services foiled the plot in April last year. Jordanian officials say that had it been carried out, thousands of people would have died.

The accused include "al-Qaida's leader in Iraq, Abu-Musab Al-Zarqawi", and three other fugitives who are being tried in absentia.

The indictment says al-Zarqawi intended that suicide bombers would detonate vehicles filled with the chemicals in an attack on the Amman headquarters of the intelligence department.

See "Jordan: Jaiousi admits meeting with Zarqawi in Baghdad, receiving instructions for attacks" at

"In a videotape confession screened during the trial at the State Security Court (SSC) yesterday, Azmi Jaiousi said he met with Zarqawi and two other men in Iraq. "Zarqawi told me there would be military operations in Jordan soon and we needed to prepare for them... he gave me around $50,000, weapons, explosive devices and instructions to launch attacks. Our first target was State Prosecutor Mahmoud Obeidat," Jaiousi was quoted as saying in the videotape."

A second target was a General Intelligence Department (GID) officer who had blue eyes and a white Mercedes, he added. Jaiousi said he infiltrated into the Kingdom from Iraq in February 2002, hidden in a truck, and later met up with the rest of the defendants."

Azmi al-Jayousi was plotting this terrorist act with al-Qaeda's Zarqawi in Iraq and left Iraq in February 2002. This was pre-Iraq War! We are fighting the War on Terrorism because of "September 11th", wherever it takes us, Iraq or elsewhere.

Cross & crescent

Last week, Philip Johnson posted a little essay on political correctness in the face of global jihad over at

His essay was blunt, but balanced. As a consequence, he suffered the fate that a reasonable man must always suffer when he dares to state the obvious: he was instantly accused of saying things he didn’t say and not saying things he did say.

No matter how carefully you qualify your position, no matter how obvious the point you’re trying to make, there are always folks who will disregard your caveats and deny the obvious.

In this particular instance, one reason is that everyone has an opinion on the war effort, and those who disapprove of the war effort are just spoiling for a pretext to unload on those of us who do support the war effort.

I’ve been waiting until the comments ran their course before I weigh in. What is disturbing, but predictable, about some of the comments is the level of moral confusion in the face of a morally unambiguous enemy. And what is more disturbing, but predicable, is that this moral confusion is coming from some conservative Christians. Let’s sample their comments:

Kim said...

I may be revealing just how terribly obtuse I am, but does this war not having a little something to do with oil?

Is this the no-blood-for-oil slogan? To judge by the price of gas when I tank up these days, I’d just say that if this war were about oil, then we’re not getting our money’s worth!

If this war were about oil, why didn’t we seize the oil fields, secure the oil fields, and start pumping free crude oil directly into supertankers bound for the USA?

<< David Kear said...

To comment that "Every international terrorist is Muslim." is at the very least a disregard for most of history. What branch of Islam is the IRA part of? I agree with the war on terror. But, a war on Islam could not be considered a "Just War".

I can agree that we are at war with Islamic jihadism. But, I can not agree that Islamic jihadism is not divisible from the rest of Islam. That is no more true than saying that there is no distinction between those who are Christian and those who call themselves Christian or act in the name of Christianity. I certainly would not want to be held "guilt by association" to many so called Christian organizations whether they are terrorists or not. An example would be Fred Phelps and his group who protest at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. My Christianity is not the Christianity that they claim to have. As far as the comment that I was actually in disagreement with that "Every international terrorist is Muslim". It is simply not true. There are at least 13 different non-Islamic international terror groups listed by the U.S. government as Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. It is true that we are not at war with them. But, maybe we should be.

This jumbles together a whole lot of stuff:

i) The IRA is an example of domestic terrorism based on issues of nationalism and colonialism, not international terrorism. The IRA isn’t blowing up soft targets around the world.

ii)”Foreign” and “international” are not synonymous. In any case, the issue is not some technical definition of what constitutes an international terrorist organization, but the actual threat level which it poses to the free world.

iii) Why could a war on Islam not be considered a just war? Islam is the aggressor. Our response would be a defensive war or counteroffensive.

iv) Just-war theory is a product of medieval moral theology. Why does David Kear embrace this part of medieval moral theology, but not the part about the Crusades?

v) Is it merely guilt-by-association that leads us to link jihadism with Islam? This is not a Christian characterization of Islam. Rather, that’s part of Islam’s self-definition.

It goes back to the Koran, in what it has to say about the infidel (Jews and Christians). It goes back to the paradigm-case of Muhammad’s massacre of the Jews of Medina. It goes back to the Hadith, and to centuries of theological tradition. It goes back to centuries of theological tradition put into actual practice in the violent conquest of the Christian Arabia and Africa and Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, there are people like Kear who never learn from history, never learn from experience, never listen to what the enemy has to say for itself.

It is not a case of guilt-by-association to judge behavior by its stated belief-system. Would Kear make these same generous allowances for the Nazis?

Andrew said...

Hi Phil
You have a great blog going here, and I now visit it as regularly as I do your 'Bookmarks' and 'Hall of Church History'. Also can I say that theologically I am in line with most (if not all) of what you have to share.
I do feel, however, that care needs to be taken in any depiction of terrorism. I am not postmodern, and I despise the PC environment that is seeking to clap a hand over our mouths in these days. But terrorism and the causes of terrorism are never simple. I am from Northern Ireland, and have watched for the best part of my life men, women and children being slaughtered by terrorists. Throughout the years of the 'Troubles' religion was often blamed. People characterised the conflict as being between Protestants and Catholics, when in actual fact neither side bore any resemblance to those two religious perspectives. Then other people said it was a political war, being fought with fervour over the partition of Ireland. In actual fact, though, it is now clear that there was communication and at times collusion between so called 'warring factions'. What was the base cause of such conflict then? A whole range of social factors: the lure of extremism to young hormonally charged males, the traditions of family groups, the enormous pressure of peer groups, the ghettoisation of our society, the carelessness of political and religious leaders in their calls to arms, and the list could go on. At base though, I think the cause was fallenness.

Now the problem I have with your last post is that:

1. You are intellectually sophisticated enough to hold a balanced and nuanced view of Islam - in its extreme and its peaceful forms. Many of your readers may not. For George Bush or Tony Blair to declare a 'War on Islamic Jihadism' could have disastrous consequences for Muslim communities across the world, where dimwitted thugs would relish the opportunity to rough up some Muslims in the name of justice or ethics. An example of this was the rather ironic incident that happened here in Northern Ireland four years ago. A few days after September 11th someone threw a brick through the window of the local mosque here in Belfast! Go figure!!!

i) Folks like Andrew and Jeri (see below) are too smart for their own good. Andrew wants to see a more nuanced analysis.

But this is not about being fair to the enemy. This is about defeating the enemy before the enemy defeats us.

The first order of business in dealing with a mortal enemy is to defeat the enemy, not to develop a sociological theory about the enemy.

You could fill whole libraries with psychological theories on why Hitler turned out the way he did. You could fill whole libraries with sociological theories on why Germany followed him over the cliff.

That might have some bearing on how to prevent the next war. It has no bearing on how to win the current war.

ii) As far as comparing the IRA with militant Islam, the question is, indeed, whether religious factors or the socioeconomic factors are uppermost. The fact that socioeconomic factors may be uppermost when it comes to the Irish Question does not imply that socioeconomic factors are uppermost when it comes to the jihadist death-cult.

An honest comparison allows for the possibility of contrast, where there’s more discontinuity that continuity.

iii) It’s a very revealing view into Andrew’s moral and practical priorities that his chief fear is not suicide bombers, but a brick through a window.

Why should our primary concern be the protection of Muslim communities rather than Jews and Christians and the free world?

iv) BTW, it’s striking that a sensitive male such as Andrew has a taste for violent movies like the Godfather and The Thin Red Line.

2. You can't separate Al Queda's activity from groups such as the IRA. Both consist of killers without conscience, who are willing to wage war on anyone who does not agree with their warped and evil logic. This distinction, I feel, lies at the heart of America's problem in waging war on terror anywhere in the world. How many Armalites were funded by American institutions throughout our period of 'Troubles'. The AK47 was known as the widow-maker, and America helped many IRA volunteers along the way to owning there very own weapon!
For America to look at the world through the awful palls of smoke that descended on September 11th 2001 and decide to 'clean up the globe', strikes me as hypocritical, unethical, and a kick in the teeth to those of us who endured terror for thirty years. To say that the IRA has nothing to do with this issue, is to subscribe to the same mentality as the political leaders of the IRA who, in an act of supreme duplicity, condemned the London bombings, and pretended that the IRA only killed legitimate targets. I could give you a long list of victims who fall very far outside of that category.

i) Phil wasn’t discussing moral equivalence. Phil was discussing the threat level. Militant Islam is a threat to world peace. The Provisional IRA is not.

ii) I assume that the Americans who supplied or supported the IRA are a subset of Irish-American Catholics. What makes Andrew suppose that those of us who are not Irish-American Catholics are culpable for the misconduct of some Irish-American Catholics?

Notice how quickly Andrew can ditch all his fine-spun moral nuance when it comes to America-bashing. He reserves his nuance for the enemy, not the brave soldier who stands between us and the enemy.

iii) Suppose, for the sake of argument, that America is hypocritical and unethical. Speaking for myself, if I had a choice between a hypocrite who shielded me from my mortal enemies, and a saintly social worker who would let them kill me to vent their socioeconomic grievances, the hypocrite would have my vote every time.

Andrew and Philip represent two fundamentally different strategies--indeed, two fundamentally different worldviews.

Phil Johnson sees this, first and foremost, as a practical issue: how do we deal with the danger of militant Islam?

But Andrew sees this, first and foremost, as a question of fair play and the Marquis of Queensberry rules.

If Phil Johnson were hired to build a bridge, his first concern would be, is the bridge safe to drive across? Is it structurally sound?

If Andrew were hired to build a bridge, his first concern would be, is the bidding process equitable? Were all the racial quotas filled?

Andrew is more bothered by a metaphorical kick in the teeth than a literal beheading or suicide-bombing.


Broken Messenger said...


How about loving our enemies? Where does that work in with your view of the terrorists here? Not trying to draw an inference of any kind, I certianly don't know your heart or assume to know, but I am very curious.

Now let me start by asking some uncomfortable questions in response to Phil’s remarks. In light of Islamists who have declared war upon the West, and that we here in the West would generally concede as being our enemy in return, can we honestly say that if we were called by God to bring the message of the Gospel to these men and women that we would readily go? Would we be like a relenting, submissive, post-wale version of Jonah, and walk willingly into the very heart of our enemies camp to preach a message that God has asked us to carry?

How does the War on Terror find support under the message of the Gospel particularly in light of how wer are supposed to view and treat our enemies?

Personally, I think Phil’s extrapolation of Romans 13:4, in his hope to lend weight to his argument, does a bit of violence to the text of this verse and of the overall passage it is extracted from. Yes to be sure, we are to submissive to authority, but did Jesus or His followers pursue human forms of warfare or spiritual? Did they humble themselves before their enemies or wipe them out? Can the Great Commission be obeyed while staring down the sights of an assault rifle?

i) All other things being equal, we should love our enemies. But that is not our only moral priority, or even our highest priority. We are also supposed to love our neighbor. To love our brothers in Christ. To love our parents and siblings, children and spouse.

In a fallen world, you can’t be equally nice to everyone all the time. In a fallen world, where one individual will prey upon another individual, where one group will attack another group, you have to take sides. You have to choose between the rapist and the rape-victim, the Nazi and the Jew.

ii) If we lay down our arms and let the Muslims murder all the Christians, then there won’t be any Christians left to evangelize the Muslims, now will there?

iii) As a practical matter, Islamic theocracies do not allow Christian missionaries to evangelize Muslims. So this is an empty hypothetical.

iv) I agree that Rom 13 is too limited to make the case for war. Christians turn to Rom 13 because they don’t know what to do with the OT. But in Deut 20, you have inspired laws of warfare, and those laws distinguish between conventional war and holy war.

Even if you think that holy war is part of the ceremonial law, conventional war is not. That’s part of the moral law. Human nature hasn’t changed. The threat hasn’t changed. Israel had enemies, we have enemies; Israel had the right of self-defense, we have the right of self-defense.

Jeri said...

What you fail to make clear in this post is that most Moslems, even if they feel an ethical sympathy for bin Laden (or at least a similar distaste for America) are not terrorists. This world holds a huge population of Moslems. The jihadists are a small group.

And what you seem to have missed, Phil, is that we are not at war with jihadists, except on paper. We are at war in Iraq, a country that the jihadists also hated. In Iraq, we are fighting Moslems, but they are motivated by political issues, the largest of which is to either claim or retain the edge of power in Iraq. It's not a Taliban-type culture at all, and even though a few people here and there may mouth a few words about Allah, the real issues is which minority will emerge on top in their government. We *ought* to be fighting jihad in the moountains of Afghanistan, but in the name of "The War on Terror," Bush has launched us into this campaign in Iraq, a nation that had nothign to do with 9/11.

Just as you wouldn't like all Christendom to be linked, politically, socially, or even theolgoically, with people who blow up abortion clinics or members of the IRA, please exercise care in saying "not all Moslems are terrorists." The fact is, most Moselms are not terrorists.

As for the mis-use of the word terrorist, George Bush needs to blur the distinction and eliminate the religion factor or else people would notice that the insurgents in Iraq are motivated by politics and the guerillas of Al Qaeda are motivated by religious fanaticism and the Palestinian Liberation sub-groups are motivated by revenge for having their lands seized. He can only maintain this "War on terror" by making sure that Americans view all of them as mindless, raving terrorists. If we accept as a premise that they cannot be reasoned with or that some of them may actually have legitimate grievances, then he gets to wage war where ever he pleases, as long as he can point to anything he can call "terrorism," whether it is religious, political, or social in nature.

This war is indeed about religion. It is also about the exploitation of religion, and it is also about religious prejudices. I grant you that the religion of Islam is a fallen religion, as are all fallen religions. The solution for fallen religions is conversion to Christ, not war. And the worst fallen religion of all is a de-Christed Christianity that believes war leads to a rapture, the president is God's prophet, and there can exist two Peoples of God, one political and one spiritual and both entitled to take whatever they think belongs to them. Such a false religion as this never accepts responsibility for its own history of abusing or defrauding others and neatly labels its enemies as "terrorists," or "witches," or "unbelievers" or whatever propagandistic term comes readily to mind.

Yes reformer, I have a very sinister agenda: I believe that Americans have a right to know exactly why they are going to war, exactly who they are fighting, and exactly what the objective of the war is. Any confusion on those points is the result of gross incompetence or gross deception. Confusion on all three points is blatant incompetence or deception.

Yes, it is non-jihadists who are blowing themselves up to get the US out of Iraq. They are not fighting for Islamic supremacy over Christianity but for Iraqi sovereignty over Iraq.

Just like the kamikaze pilots in Japan used culturally embedded practices derived from their religion to destroy Americans in WWII, the suicide bombers in Iraq are using culturally embedded practices derived from their religion to destroy Americans in Iraq. But if we were not there, they would not be interested. They are not AL Qaeda; They do not have a cultural background to destroy all other faiths but Islam and every version of Islam except their own.

They are insurgents who want us off their territory, and they are as much subject to ethnic prejudices as religious ones in trying to secure power for their own racial-cultural subset within the multi-ethnic Iraqi society. But their ultimate aims, whatever their methods, are political---getting us out of their country.

Unlike the fanatical Osama bin Laden and his crowd who went on the offensive to harm us and discredit us, the insurgents in Iraq are not the Taliban, and they are responding to our presence in their country and the upset of their government.

The two largest groups of insurgents in Iraq are the Ba'athist party and the Nationalist party. The Ba'athists are political: they want to be reinstated as the ruling party in Iraq. The Ba'athist party is the most effective party of the resistance (or they were, anyway). The Ba'athists are made up of former military commanders, security operatives, and members of the previous regime's power infrastructure. It is widely suspected that their orders were to melt into the landscape when the US first attacked, wait until we were entrenched, and then begin guerilla warfare to prevent the US from establishing a non-Ba'athist (or non Saddam) government.

The Nationalists are mostly of Sunni ethnicity, and their primary goal is expulsion of coalition troops from Iraq and the restoration of the Sunni minority in the political process. Although they may descend from time to time into soapbox rhetoric, their aims are for ethnic supremacy of the Sunnis in the political power structure of Iraq. They don't liek other Moslems who are not Sunni (like the Shia), and they don't trust them. They use tactics of insurgency, but they also work through the political process.

The two parties listed above have the lion's share of educated strategists for formulating insurgency as well as financial resources to support themselves. They are political in nature, and their ends are political. They seek political power.

On the low-scale end of insurgency, the Mahdi Army is a polyglot of conservative Islamic beliefs combined with nationalism. Its members are uneducated and impoverished. They are fueled by grievances against the US, but their ultimate ends are political rather than religious.

The most purely religious group(s) are headed up by Sunni Clerics who espouse brotherhood between all Moslems. Unlike the larger Nationalist party, the clerical party openly seeks union with Shia Moslems and espouses a primarily religious revival of Fundamental Islam.

Moslem infiltration from disgruntled Saudis is another factor in the insurgency. These boys are the real thing: Moslem fanatics. But they came from the country that our government has propped up for decades, the despotic government that has resulted from America itself preventing democracy from gaining a foothold in Saudi Arabia.

If we need to rid the world of the death-cult of jihadic Islam, than President Bush need look no further than our "good friends" the Saudis. Freeze their assets; hold up their money, and jihad will be crippled. But there's no way Bush will do it.

The religious exploitation that is going on in this war doesn't entirely come from the Moslems or the Middle East. There are people in this country who will follow anybody who names Jesus Christ and do anything he says, (especially if he is in power, because surely that means God has blessed him) even if he gives no evidence of truly being in Christ, and even if his ideas are sheer madness.

i) Phil never said anything about the Iraq war.

ii) Jeri has a remarkably detailed knowledge of just who the insurgents are in Iraq. Why, if our Marines knew half as much as Jeri does, they would have nabbed the insurgents months ago!

iii) The fact that most Muslims are not terrorists misses the point. Muslims wouldn’t resort to terrorism unless there were a measure of popular support for their activities. If peer pressure frowned upon terrorism, if jihadis were ostracized by the Muslim community, if leading clerics pronounced fatwas against them, it would dry up in short order.

iv) Jeri's allegation that the Iraq war is a distraction from the real war on terrorism is deceptive, for Jeri was also opposed to the war in Afghanistan:

Just recently she posted the following:

“By the way, if the US forces had poured into Afghanistan and arrested Osama bin Laden like justice demanded after 9/11, Al Qaeda could be a thing of the past now and perhaps today's events would never have happened.”

Some of us will remember that this is the position taken by and other radical organizations right after 9/11.

Don't treat this as an act of war. No, march into Afghanistan, serve UBL with an arrest warrant issued by the Kofi Annan, extradite him to the World Court in the Haag, have him Mirandized, lawyered up, swaddled in the Geneva Conventions--the whole nine yards.

v) We still have troops deployed in Afghanistan. This isn’t an either/or. You can fight on more than one front at a time. Indeed, you have to fight on more than one front at a time.

vi) If Brad and Jeri think that we should evangelize the Muslims instead of defeating them on the battlefield, then why don’t Brad and Jeri practice what they preach rather than telling others to do their job for them. Why don’t they buy a plane ticket to Saudi Arabia and start spreading the gospel?

vii) I link Islam to terrorism because Islam makes that linkage. Why is Jeri making excuses for the Muslim world? It is up to the Muslim world to distance itself from holy war and terrorism. Shouldn’t the leading clerics is Egypt and Iraq and Iran and Saudi Arabia be publicly condemning attacks on Jews and Christians and even on fellow Muslims?

Why do you always have folks like Jeri who rush in to speak for Muslims, about Muslims, on behalf of Muslims, and in the place of Muslims when Muslims in the traditional religious and cultural centers of the Muslim world are, at best silent, and, at worst, inciting their followers to violence?

viii) What are the “legitimate grievances” of the suicide bombers? Is it that “the Palestinian Liberation sub-groups are motivated by revenge for having their lands seized.”

This assumes: (a) that there is such a thing as a “Palestinian,” in contradistinction to an Arab (Arafat was Egyptian, most “Palestinians” are Jordanians); (b) that it was “their” land; (c) that their land was “seized.” Jeri seems to be taking her history lessons from Jew-haters.

Again, what, exactly, is the Christian history of “abusing and defrauding” the Muslim world? Jeri’s version of church history is remarkably akin to Bin Laden’s. Maybe she’d like to become one of his wives. This could be her tent-maker ministry!

ix) Doesn’t the Bible speak of “witches” and “unbelievers”?

x) Yes, Americans do have a right to know why we went to war, who we’re fighting against, and what our strategic objective is. And if she could tear herself away from long enough to check out the White House website (, she would find that all her questions have been repeatedly answered.

I quite agree with her that “any confusion on those points is the result of gross incompetence or gross deception. Confusion on all three points is blatant incompetence or deception.” So when is she going to look in the mirror and take countermeasures to correct her blatant incompetence and gross self-deception?

xi) It’s quite true that the Saudis are a major source of the problem. We don’t crack down on the Saudis for the obvious reason that we’re dependent on Saudi oil. What is Jeri’s practical alternative? Well, what about wind-power? We could certainly put all that hot-air to more productive use.