Friday, July 16, 2004

A Belated Thanks to Jollyblogger

I saw this post by fellow theonomist, David Wayne, at Jollyblogger a couple of weeks ago, and meant to comment on it at the time, but ... well you know the story.  He is kind enough to compare my strategy of beating bad ideas with better ideas to similar words by Thomas Chalmers, the early 19th century scottish evangelical:

There are two ways in which a practical moralist may attempt to displace from the human heart its love of the world; either by a demonstration of the world's vanity, so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon simply to withdraw its regards from an object that is not worthy of it; or, by setting forth another object, even God, as more worthy of its attachment; so as that the heart shall be prevailed upon, not to resign an old affection which shall have nothing to succeed it, but to exchange an old affection for a new one. My purpose is to show, that from the constitution of our nature, the former method is altogether incompetent and ineffectual and that the latter method will alone suffice for the rescue and recovery of the heart from the wrong affection that domineers over it.

I was not specifically familiar with this discourse when I wrote my comments, but it does not surprise me that others thinkers in the Reformed tradition would have enunciated similar ideas.   American and European Christians have largely abandoned their birthright as intellectual leaders for the past century and a half, but it was not always so.   I think we are mired in the attitude of the Ephesian church noted in Revelation 2:1-5
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.

Except that we don't do such a good job at weeding out the false apostles either...
For a taste of what Christian intellectual leadership looks like, I would recommend the editors of Touchstone Magazine. And, now that I know he is there, Jollyblogger,  himself, who is doing the work I should be doing were I not so slothful.

UPDATE: Oops. I guess he doesn't exactly consider himself a theonomist. But he seems to be "not a theonomist" in the same sense that I am not a theonomist -- to wit: generally sympathetic to their principles but wanting to keep a reasonable distance from the more absolutist elements. Fair enough. I will let him speak for himself, but I think the term can be used in a broader sense to indicate people who think that Christian principles provide the best foundation for society and government. Maybe this is too imprecise, since it would basically cover anyone faithful to the reformed tradition, but I still think we need some word to distinguish those who wish the kingdom to advance from those who wish to retreat. Theonomy works for me in the qualified sense noted above, but I am well aware of the criticisms that can rightly be leveled at the various theonomic groups.

UPDATE: On further reading, it looks like he is using the term "theonomist" as synonymous with "reconstructionist". This is a reasonable use of the term, since the Reconstructionists pretty much invented the current theories of theonomy. But I use the term theonomy as a genus and reconstruction as one species (and not the most exemplary species, at that). I sort of see my role as giving theonomy a more reasonable and irenic spirit than its representatives have heretofore shown. Since this could easily be a whole discussion in itself, I will save any future remarks on this subject for a seaparate post.

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