Friday, February 11, 2011

2nd Statement by Frank Turk (Negative)

Frank Turk's second statement is attached below:


Well, we can see exactly were Daniel is gong [sic] in this debate: because we can separate from the wicked, we must separate from the wicked. That is: it seems overwhelmingly-obvious (to him) that when we identify sin in someone, our duty is to move on.

But here's something to consider—when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he greeted them in this way:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, … [1Cor 1:2-4, ESV]

You know: Paul here conflates the church with the people in it—his greeting makes it clear that he thinks that "the church" and "those sanctified" and "[those] called to be saints" are all the same set of people.

But there's some radical audacity in Paul's perception of the matter here, and Calvin says it this way:

It may perhaps appear strange that [Paul] should give the name of a Church of God to a multitude of persons that were infested with so many distempers, that Satan might be said to reign among them rather than God. Certain it's, that he did not mean to flatter the Corinthians, for he speaks under the direction of the Spirit of God, who is not accustomed to flatter. But among so many pollutions, what appearance of a Church is any longer presented? I answer, the Lord having said to him, “Fear not: I have much people in this place” (Acts 18:9, 10;) keeping this promise in mind, he conferred upon a godly few so much honor as to recognize them as a Church amidst a vast multitude of ungodly persons. Farther, notwithstanding that many vices had crept in, and various corruptions both of doctrine and manners, there were, nevertheless, certain tokens still remaining of a true Church. This is a passage that ought to be carefully observed, that we may not require that the Church, while in this world, should be free from every wrinkle and stain, or forthwith pronounce unworthy of such a title every society in which everything is not as we would wish it. For it's a dangerous temptation to think that there is no Church at all where perfect purity is not to be seen. For the man that is prepossessed with this notion, must necessarily in the end withdraw from all others, and look upon himself as the only saint in the world, or set up a peculiar sect in company with a few hypocrites.

What ground, then, had Paul for recognizing a Church at Corinth? It was this: that he saw among them the doctrine of the gospel, baptism, the Lord’s Supper — tokens by which a Church ought to be judged of. For although some had begun to have doubts as to the resurrection, the error not having spread over the entire body, the name of the Church and its reality are not thereby affected. Some faults had crept in among them in the administration of the Supper, discipline and propriety of conduct had very much declined: despising the simplicity of the gospel, they had given themselves up to show and pomp; and in consequence of the ambition of their ministers, they were split into various parties. Notwithstanding of this, however, inasmuch as they retained fundamental doctrine: as the one God was adored among them, and was invoked in the name of Christ: as they placed their dependence for salvation upon Christ, and, had a ministry not altogether corrupted: there was, on these accounts, a Church still existing among them. Accordingly, wherever the worship of God is preserved uninfringed, and that fundamental doctrine, of which I have spoken, remains, we must without hesitation conclude that in that case a Church exists. [John Calvin, Commentary on Corinthians Vol 1, Chapt 1.2] [emph. added]

Because I have let Calvin be wordy, I shall be brief. True: Calvin resorts to the 3 marks to make his case. True: he says some are corrupt. But unlike Daniel, Calvin makes it clear that someone who thinks he can just seal himself off from everyone who is not everything we think they ought to be is suffering from a "dangerous temptation" which will cause him simply to be an isolated hypocrite.

See: the key for Paul is not that some people are evil—it's true that in 1Cor he demands that the man in open sexual sin be cut off from the church in disciple. But what about the false teaches -- the super saints? Does Paul require them to be cut off? The answer is plainly "no", even though they are causing division in the church. His call is that all be reconciled in Christ, not divided! If Paul were using Daniel's view of what must be done, 1Cor would be full of the instructions we find in 1Cor 5 -- or better (for Daniel), full of instructions for the excellent few to shuck off the rest and start their own church since they have Paul still to guide them via blog letter.

But that's not Paul's guidance at all: it's Paul's view that because Christ died for these people, they have a basis for continuous and radical reconciliation even when discipline is not being practiced, the sacraments are not being rightly practiced, and the Gospel has been obscured.

Just to be as clear as possible: of course there are some who must go. The unrepentant sinner who flaunts God's law must be disciplined (cf. 1 Cor 5) the unrepentant false teacher must be "handed over to Satan" (cf. 1 Tim 1; 2 Tim 2). If Daniel wants me to list everyone that is in that category, our word count is probably too short -- so listing people he thinks I don't object to doesn't make any case whatsoever. But in both those cases (and there may be other broad categories), the answer Scripture provides is not "flee the local church". The answer is, "the local church must take action against them". That is: the church must remove these sorts of people from their ranks, not leave them as if those people are immovable and Christ is not.

The difference, then, between Paul's view and Daniel's view is how we wield the truth. Do we use the truth only to identify those who are corrupt in order to drive them out, or do we use the truth in the best use of Law and Gospel so that we can convict ourselves—all of us together—of our failings and take up the gift of Christ to overcome those failings. Is the truth of Christ greater than sin? If it's, it doesn't just overcome sin on paper or in the future: it overcomes the problem of sin for us and right now so that reconciliation inside the local church is possible.

I am sure more can and will be said in the cross-ex. I look forward to making my point clearer in answering Daniel's questions.

2 comments:

Mary said...

Dear Daniel,
May I considerately make an inquiry?
John Calvin set forth fundamental doctrine ":as the one God was adored among them, and was invoked in the name of Christ:" to be a mark of a True Church in Christ Jesus.
So,if Pastor Warren has enlisted a Jewish doctor (Dr.Hyman) and a Muslim doctor (Dr.Oz)under the umbrella of the Church to shepherd his flock in the worship of pagan gods via Transcendental Meditation (eastern spirituality) and Yoga (Hinduism), would this not be in violation of "as the one God was adored among them, and was invoked in the Name of Christ"?

Is this not akin to setting up asher poles and baals in the very sanctuary of the One True and Living God and His Son Christ Jesus?

I apologize if I ask this in ignorance, but I don't understand.

Respectfully in Christ alone, mary

PuritanReformed said...

@Mary:

Yes, it is.