Thursday, August 30, 2007

Movie Recommendation: The Lives of Others

I saw this movie last weekend and can't stop thinking about it. The directorial debut of of writer/director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, The Lives of Others provides a broad cross-section of experience within East Germany on the cusp of the disintegration of communism as a world political order. It is a wonderful tribute to those who realized its inhumanity and resisted the system at great personal risk. I heartily recommend the film to understand life under communist totalitarianism. For it, Donnersmarck won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Lives of Others is a must have for enthusiasts of great cinematic portrayals of human drama.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Quote of the Day

Matt Bondy is an Op-Ed columnist for Canada's Guelph Mercury. The following quote is from this blog post.

"If we look carefully, we find that the Islamic extremists are in fact inviting us to our own brand of extremism – a choice between the embrace of defeat and a blind, mindless commitment to violence. But if our tradition of moderation and resolve has yet withstood the corrosive effects of live-to-the-minute combat cameras and an ever accelerating materialism, we will find ourselves, before too long, recommitted to a two-pronged approach to the Middle East; a strategy defined equally by compassion and strength. And borne out in patience. We will facilitate reconciliation and the construction of social infrastructure in territories held by free men, and we will forcefully, if necessary, advance the cause of freedom in the territories that remain.

"The Afghan war, like the counter-insurgency in Iraq, is a just cause, and it is imperative that allied forces stay and fight and win. Because abandoning people we’ve sworn to protect is just not something we do."

I especially like how Bondy describes our Middle Eastern strategy as ideally "defined equally by compassion and strength." War is hell, but America and her allies have been engaged in the most humanitarian war (in both method and purpose) fought in recorded history.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reply to Jason Stellman: Coerced Conversion vs. Covenant Enforcement

Pastor Stellman,

You say “our only options are to (1) bite the bullet and proselytize by sword-point, (2) reduce Christianity to a social gospel, or (3) let the State be the State, and the Church the Church.” I disagree that these are our only options.

According to Darryl Hart, Christian engagement with culture trivializes faith (point 4 of your last comment on 8/21). We should keep in mind that Hart’s is an historical judgment made by a fallible historian. Hart can martial facts that show how superficial Christianity often coincides with Christian engagement in politics. So what? I can martial mine and point to how the greatest victories of orthodoxy occurred in the context of Christendom. Who is right? Well, the OT prophets never attributed Israel’s unfaithfulness to the fact that church and state cooperated together. It was when both kings and priests were unfaithful that the people fell into apostasy. So there is no biblical argument that ecclesiastical engagement with politics compromises the faith.

I think a distinction should be made between proselytizing with the sword and enforcing covenantal sanctions with the sword. The first is definitely prohibited, but the second has historically been seen as lawful. There are indeed covenantal sanctions for apostasy in the new covenant (Heb. 10:27-31). It seems to me that the civil magistrate is perfectly within his authority as God’s minister to encourage national faithfulness to the covenant and eliminate threats to the nation’s covenantal constitution. Granted, the line can sometimes be crossed in the messy affairs of state, but that is due to sin—not because it isn’t theoretically possible to distinguish between proselytism and enforcement. Such enforcement need not necessitate requiring church attendance among the citizenry.

Responding to point 3 of your comment, I recognize W2K folks want people to become believers. As expressed in my last posted comment, I consider W2K proponents to be brothers in Christ—just misguided. I don’t believe the state’s job is merely to “seek the temporal welfare and peace of this present age” as you indicate, pastor. Such a definition of the state assumes that the state is a post-Fall institution, that it has no temporally transcendent orientation. Alternatively, I propose an understanding of the state that locates its origin in the governmental authority initially granted to Adam to fulfill the cultural mandate.

The dominion Adam was given was for the purpose of cultivating the earth in anticipation of future glory. In Kline’s terms, Adam was to build a garden-city megapolis under the covenant of works. Megapolis would be the highest development of civilization under natural conditions, but once man passed his probationary test, he would be eschatologically transformed along with his culture, indeed, all creation, into metapolis. We see then, that the divine intent for human culture was that it would eventually enter into a state of confirmed righteousness.

I see no evidence in Scripture that the cultural mandate was revoked, but quite the opposite. Beginning with the protoevangelion, various redemptive covenants affirm its abiding validity and contain instruction as to how it is to be carried out under post-Fall conditions. Even with the limitations imposed by the Fall judgment, the essential telos, or, goal, of the cultural mandate remains intact. (This Kline denies when he argues that the original mandate was “fractured” after the Fall.) Under the covenant of grace, believers can continue mankind’s cultural task with the knowledge that their “labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Just as parents aren’t solely concerned with their children’s temporal needs simply because the family is a “common” institution, so also civil rulers have a legitimate oversight over certain spiritual matters socially. This spiritual role of the civil magistrate has to do with overseeing the temporal development of culture for God’s glory. As indicated, I don’t think this necessitates proselytism by the sword.

If a nation were to legally codify Christianity in its constitution (which could only be accomplished with the consent of the majority) a sacral national identity would be forged. I argue this would eliminate controversy over what social good the nation is committed to pursue. However, those who would aggravate discontent in order to erect an alternative social order for different social ends would incur the wrath of the governing authority. Such malcontents would be justly regarded as destabilizing threats to the established order and suppressed. Every legitimate government has the right to use force to maintain order and crush revolt. I am quite aware all this sounds harsh to modern ears. However, even liberals should be intellectually honest enough to recognize the difference between forced conversion and enforced conformity (as benign as possible, of course) to social norms.

The raison d’tre of human authority is for man to rule under God’s authority, on God’s behalf and for his glory. The introduction of the power of the sword to restrain violence and wickedness post-Fall (a negative purpose) did not compromise government’s essential function. In fact, the sword was granted so that government could continue to exercise its divinely commissioned vocation.

Those committed to the ideals of Enlightenment liberalism will never accept a theological rationale for human government exercised under God and in his name. To the liberally minded, theocracy can never be justified. But liberals have a problem with authority anyway, except, of course, the authority necessary to prop up their moral lawlessness. For the liberal, governmental authority is at best a necessary evil because it is the illegitimate imposition of one man’s ego over his equals, the means the powerful use to justify their control of the few. Liberals have no argument against Christendom except that Christian rulers sometimes exercised their authority wrongly, occasionally trying to enforce conversion through coercive means. And so far, I see very little difference between liberalism and W2K politics in principle.

Let us be clear on this: W2K propagates a specific political theory and agenda. W2K denies that political authority was originally granted for the purpose of fulfilling the cultural mandate. W2K also denies the original cultural mandate was perpetuated after the Fall. W2K shares with liberalism the suspicion that human authority is a necessary evil. W2K makes much of the sins of Christendom, but somehow the atrocities of the secular phase of western civilization don’t invalidate secularism. True, W2K is concerned for the integrity of the Christian confession, but it has not yet been demonstrated that a causal relation obtains between Christian culture and the trivialization of Christian confession. Emotional reactions against the sins of Christendom and the perceived apostasy of American evangelicalism are not proof at all. More is needed to establish an entire theory of church-state relations than the emotional intuitions of a few gifted historians and Reformed theologians. Reasonable demonstration from principles found in the coordinate testimony of general and special revelation must carry the day.

Dennis Prager interviews author Lee Harris

Lee Harris is the author of the following books:

I've read Civilization and its Enemies and highly recomend it to anyone interested in understanding what an achievement western civilization is and the threat posed to it by Islamic Jihad.

Listen to the interview here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The UO knight sallies forth to slay the W2K dragon

The Rev Jason Stellman, a fellow Orange Countian transplanted to Washington to found Exile Presbyterian Church (PCA), is an ardent proponent of the two kingdoms theology spawned from Westminster Seminary California. Since this theology detracts from the Christian's true cultural calling, and is in fact calculated to undermine the cause of Christian conservatism, I believe it must be discredited. Many people might be led astray by this teaching, which is in fact a theological rationale for secularism. The body of this post reproduces a comment I made at Pastor Stellman's blog, De Regno Duobus. Go here to follow the discussion.

Pastor Stellman, this response is as long as it is because I had to accept your challenge and raise the ante. We may not be able to carry this debate much further, but I’ve found the exercise to be beneficial. I hope it will be clear if it isn’t already that I have substantial reasons to think W2K to be a theological and practical dead-end.

1. Yes, the W2K claim is that society should not glorify God nor thank him (Rom. 1:21) by its cultural activity. W2K claims culture is a “common” sphere where cultural man provides “bread” (sustenance and security) for himself and is assuredly not to acknowledge that he lives by every word coming from God. Only some of God’s words are applicable to order man’s collective existence (i.e., natural law as defined by W2K secularists).

Of course, this wasn’t the case before the Fall. So, the W2K theory (formulated by Meredith Kline) is that while man was formerly supposed to dedicate his labor to God, he is now to work for temporal ends (peace and prosperity) only. To say human culture has no confessional “function” is to say that society’s purpose is neither to acknowledge nor thank the Lord. W2K then, is essentially a theological rationalization for practical atheism on the macro scale.

2. Of course, you object to this characterization, pastor. You say, “People should be free to worship whomever or whatever they want. That includes Yahweh, Allah, or no one.” But I am not talking about the inviolability of my fellow citizen’s conscience; I’m talking about the objective telos of human action. There is no doubt that W2K requires the suppression of public Christian confession outside cultic activity, strictly defined. W2K calls for the expurgation of religion from all temporal endeavor, and would counsel civil coercion to accomplish this if necessary. Thus W2K advocates side with the secularist party to purge the religious party’s political influence.

In place of obedience to the lordship of Christ, W2K substitutes atheistic materialism and humanistic utilitarian principle under the guise of natural law. This is seen by the fact that W2K men will never invoke “Thus says the Lord” when they appeal to the consciences of their fellow men. They will always use reasoning that thus-and-so is right, not because it is good, but because it provides the greatest material (never spiritual) benefit for the greatest number. This greatest good is determined not by God’s justice, but what would be good irrespective of eternal rewards and punishments. God cannot be invoked in any cultural matter because that would constitute an illegitimate confession of man’s accountability to God in the common public sphere.
These radical consequences must be exposed so that W2K will receive the condemnation it justly deserves.

3. The Gospel calls all men to discard those obstacles that impede entrance into the Kingdom (Matt. 5:29-30; Lk. 9:57-62). Leftist radicalism, though sanctified by its association with the Democrat party, is no exception because it is political. People who embrace Enlightenment liberalism, or, who ignorantly live under the influence of its logic, will find it extremely difficult to conform their lives to godliness. And this is not to say the Republican Party is God’s party. It isn’t, and I never implied such a thing. I would vote for Joseph Leiberman against a less worthy Republican candidate.

Finally, I don’t especially enjoy acknowledging that the majority of my countrymen are spiritually enslaved to pernicious antichristian ideals. I wish it wasn’t the case, but spiritual rebellion has been institutionalized in the West at least since the founding of our republic.

4. Your fourth paragraph evidences an uncritical acceptance of socially radical ideas. This is confirmed by the fact that you have confused true tolerance with the social protection of infidelity and advocacy of immorality. Tolerance does not trump justice, and Caesar’s primary duty as God’s minister is to reward the good and punish evil (Rom. 13:4; 1 Pet. 2:13-4). From this follows Caesar’s responsibility to recognize the true religion (Christianity) and promote it (Rom. 13:4) in a way consistent with the maintenance of social order. This involves a careful process of incrementally adjusting state law to preference the Christian religion.

4.i. Multiculturalism has nothing to do with natural rights (respecting the life, liberty, and property of individual citizens). Equal protection has been codified in American constitutional law since 1868 (the 14th Amendment), a 100 years prior to the advent of Multiculti. As a legal principle it is far older.

Multiculturalism is a more recent phenomenon where various subcultures (especially non-heterosexual, non-affluent, non-male, non-white) are molded into voting blocs that further the progressive (i.e., radical) cause. Within multiculturalism, the traditional loyalties of faith, country and family are replaced by supposedly more fundamental identities: sexual orientation, class, sex and race. All of these “identities” are generic, that is, they are not associated with any particular cultural tradition, and thus provide suitable media on which liberals may anachronistically project their ideals. We see this in the popular portrayals in literature and film of gay, working poor, female, or black protagonists (real or imagined) as being the historical forerunners of liberal progressivism. This fraud continues to succeed due to the historical ignorance of the gullible populace.

4.ii. Political correctness has nothing to do with libeling and slandering minorities. There are laws for those kinds of crimes, though our legal system is highly selective about who is actually protected. Political correctness has everything to do with an Orwellian manipulation of language to effect a transvaluation of values in western civilization. The rational pretext for this repudiation of traditional values is alleged to be found in the disparity that exists between Christian historical practice and Christian ideal. Again, a lack of historical knowledge helps such false judgments to form in the minds of the credulous. It is not commonly known that the Crusades were defensive wars fought in response to centuries of Islamic aggression. It is also not well known that the Inquisition primarily targeted social radicals who used religion as a vehicle for their transformative agendas. Nor is it well known that black witchcraft was practiced in colonial Massachusetts.

I’m not arguing for some kind of insidious conspiracy carried out by a cabal of Trilateralists and Freemasons. Political correctness is what naturally happens when educated elites exchange the truth of God for a lie (Rom. 1:25) and consciously engage in an attempt to undermine the cultic foundations of culture. As it works in tandem with the hostile forces of liberalism, W2K acts to undermine the foundations from within as a sort of fifth column.

4.iii. If you think that social egalitarianism and feminism are all about getting fairer wages for minorities, think again. The egalitarian goal is to flatten the organically developed strata of society by eradicating privilege obtained through achievement and/or inheritance. The feminist goal is to supplant man with woman. This exaltation of the “humble” and humiliation of the “proud” mimics prophetic biblical expectation, but is counterfeit because illegitimately foisted upon society by radical social engineers. The exaltation of the humble that the Gospel anticipates is to be achieved by other means and will have other results.

4.iv. My name is not Jim Dobson and I’m not on a crusade to outlaw premarital sex. For one thing, such a law would not address the root cultural problem. Homosexualism is not the same as homophilic sex. Homosexualism is the ideology that homosexuality is a natural phenomenon, that homophilic behavior is just as beautiful as heterophilic behavior, that society ought to accord homosexual unions the dignity of marriage, and that homosexual couples should be able to adopt children. Homosexualism is a view about what is good for society. Then there’s the whole transgender issue.

Free love is likewise an ideology: that having lots of uncommitted sex is good for one’s psychological health. There is also a weird mystical element involved. I believe these ideologies (which are linked) are harmful to society and should be discouraged and counteracted. What about you, Pastor Stellman?

4.v. You seem unaware of the ideological motivation behind birth control policy. Based on junk science that the world is in danger of overpopulation, birth control advocates have long argued for the enforced sterilization of various groups. It is government policy in China. BTW, what do you think about the cultural mandate? Oh, that’s right; Christ fulfilled it for us so we don’t have to obey it. So, in your mind bellicosity is the opposite of pacifism. If I think pacifism immoral because it makes no distinction between just and unjust violence, you think I must be a warmonger. Nice. By this logic, if I think the anti-capital punishment position immoral because it fails to distinguish between innocence and guilt (the dictum that all killing is unjust), I must be a blood-thirsty monster. Stop the hate.

4.vii. Actually, I’m not much of a capitalist. However, I definitely think the trend toward more and more socialism will actually stifle creativity and achievement in the long run. I’m probably a corporativist, but I’ll admit a lack of conviction in this area.

Pastor Stellman, I hope I’ve demonstrated I’m not merely some Republican Party hack or religious right Kool-Aid drinker. I don’t want to needlessly discourage people from coming to church either. Please allow me a candid moment. I suspect you’ll eventually find that a ministry bending over backwards not to offend liberal “seekers” will have difficulty speaking to the concerns average Christians have about the state of the society in which they live. If you are not counseling your people how to resist the spirit of the age, but are in fact oblivious to the spiritual contest going on between the two cities—the real culture war—then the effectiveness of your ministry will not be very great.

“For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous; lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.” (Ps. 125:3)

James Jordan writes a letter

"Next came the Clarkians at Knox Theological Seminary. They, and they alone, actually spoke to the "FV" people that they disagreed with. This, I'm horrified to recount, is unique. None of the other committees and people who have investigated this "FV" stuff have ever bothered to email or phone anyone they are evaluating. At least the Clarkians did talk to us."

As someone who came to the Reformed faith through Gordon Clark's writings and the newsletters produced by the Trinity Foundation, this warmed my heart. I have always appreciated Clark's catholic spirit and intellectual integrity, and am glad to see some of his followers have continued this tradition.

Jordan also writes,

"The OPC chimed in next. No surprise. The OPC is full of Klineans who hate any type of cultural transformation. The whole Reformed "world and life view" tradition is rejected by the Klineans. They want a "spiritual" church that might as well be an invisible church, holed up in this wicked world and waiting for Jesus to come back. Not exactly the robust Calvinism of our postmillennial and "optimistic amillennial" forebears. So, the OPC report (from a stacked committee) rejects the FV. No surprise there."

Read the rest of Jordan's letter here.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Rome Calls Anglicans to the Fold

Read this article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the Anglican Use of the Latin Rite.

Blogs I Read

Here are a few blog recommendations:

I can always count on Steven Wedgeworth, a younger Reformed blogger, to provide thoughtful commentary on the happenings in Reformedland. I especially enjoy his short reflections on various scriptural themes and passages, an example of which can be seen here.

I just found this exciting blog yesterday. Just Genesis, a blog started earlier this year by Alice Linsley is devoted to an on-going theological and anthropological exploration of Genesis. The author has been engaged with the study of this book on a high level for the last quarter century. Just Genesis promises to be an important resource for my own work on the foundations of humanity's religious and social life.

For those interested in the ongoing dialogue between Roman Catholics and their "separated brethren" over papal supremacy check out the following:

  • Cathedra Unitatis - An Eastern Orthodox Christian Looks at the Church of Rome.
  • Pontiffixations - Ponderings on the Papacy by a Sympathetic Protestant (Another blog by Tim Enloe, who is always worth reading.)
  • Principium Unitatis - A blog dedicated to the reunion of all Christians.
  • Pontifications - This blog set the standard for Roman Catholic apologetics on the web.
  • Energetic Procession - There's a thought provoking discussion going on right now comparing the two main (catholic) theories of ecclesial validity (Augustine vs. Cyprian) on this Orthodox blog.

Finally, relating to the Federal Vision controversy that is currently rocking the Reformed world:

  • Blog and Mablog & Green Baggins - Watch Doug Wilson (FV) and Lane Keister (FV critic) battle for the soul of the Reformed Tradition.
  • De Regnis Duobus - Jason Stellman, an FV critic and proponent of W2K, is currently evaluating the recent Joint Federal Vision Statement. I think he's being as fair as possible, given his ecclesial and soteriological presuppositions.
  • Corrigenda Denuo - The blog of Jeff Meyers, a member of the notorious FV cabal. ;-)
  • Heirodule - Paul Duggan (FV) tackles the biblical issues and interacts with the work of Meredith Kline.
  • Biblical Horizons - Scott Clark thinks Doug Wilson is the FV leader, but James B. Jordan is actually the grandmaster of the organization, the inspiration behind their dastardly schemes.

I take personal interest in Shawn Abigail's blog (Grey in Black and White). Shawn is both an informed cultural critic and Open Brethren. (I, myself, came out of the Brethren "church.") It's instructive to observe how someone from the free church tradition who is supposed to be separate from the world, "in the world but not of it," can be so deeply concerned with the world in which we live.

Finally, Mike Spreng's Anglican Thought provides a viewpoint as close to mine as I've seen. I'm excited about discovering his site and can't wait to interact with him.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Dialogue with Mark Pele: Was Adam the Prototypical Priest-King?

Updated 8/9/07 6:30 p.m. pst

Dialogue with Mark Pele: Was Adam the Prototypical Priest-King?

Thanks for waiting for this response, Mark, I needed to take a little breather there…

We agree, “Adam's position before the Fall is extremely significant,” however we disagree as to the nature of that significance. Please allow me to flesh out my position further. Along with the responsibilities that were originally given, God also gave Adam the appropriate authority to carry them out. What were these responsibilities? They were to subdue the earth, multiply offspring, and rule the animal kingdom (Gen. 1:28). This original commission to humanity, which should be considered all of a piece (i.e., the cultural mandate), involved the initial grant of man’s essential authority roles. What were these roles? The first responsibility (to subdue) is the most complex, so I’ll tackle it last. The second responsibility (to multiply offspring) is easy: Adam became the original father of mankind. The third responsibility (to rule the animals) is also easy. This rule was first exercised when Adam named all the animals. So, Adam was endowed with fatherhood and a kind (I hope you’ll grant) of kingship.

Let us now consider the initial work the man was given: to subdue the earth. His task was to work and care for the Garden of Eden wherein he was placed (Gen. 2:15). But God’s commission to Adam was that he was to subdue the entire earth; his work of cultivation was to begin in the Garden but not to stop there. How was he supposed to accomplish this monumental task? First, Adam was to produce offspring to aid him in his work and, I presume, to delegate work he could not do himself. Second, he was to govern the animal kingdom. Consider, there were no wild animals in the sense we are now familiar with, post-fall. All the animals were potentially domesticatable, and so were to assist humanity in its cultural task. So it appears that the last two responsibilities are actually supplementary to the first: to cultivate the earth.

I have already discussed why I think this command to subdue the earth is a complex task, but I’ll recap here. First, it involves Adam hearing God’s word and conveying it to his wife and posterity. This is the vocation of prophecy. Second, it involves the duty of planning and overseeing the cultivation project. This is the vocation of administrative authority, or, kingship. Third, it involves offering the completed work of human culture to God. This is the vocation of priesthood. James Jordan thinks Adam’s priestly ministry primarily involved the custodial task of guarding the tree of knowledge. I would modify Jordan’s insight here and say that this custodial guardianship of the sacramental tree (of covenantal curse) is a negative corollary to Adam’s positive priestly vocation: that of offering the cultivated life-system of the world in thankfulness to the Creator.

I will agree, Mark, that Adam was not a king in the limited (and misleading) sense of some feudal monarch of the Middle Ages. He was much more than that. As God’s vice-regent, Adam was granted a primordial office simultaneously prophetic, priestly, kingly and fatherly. All vocations of human authority and oversight were given to Adam as the first man. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that all natural human authority is derived from his primordial office. I know I’ve pretty much said all this before, but I wanted to state it comprehensively in order to proceed with the following argumentation.

I propose, further, that there is plenty in Scripture and recorded history showing how the primordial Adamic authority developed over time. We do know kingship did later arise and that the principle of hereditary succession was already operative in the patriarchal societies we have record of. Some biblical examples are Cain’s line (Gen. 4:17ff.), Noah’s oracle regarding his sons (Gen. 9:25ff.), and the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 25:1-5; 27:1ff.; 48:12ff.; 49:1ff.). In these cases we observe the various practices of fathers distributing inheritances, and pronouncing curses and blessings upon their offspring.

The blessings and curses are especially significant in that they show how fatherly authority determines which descendants are to rule and which will be subservient. Such oracular determinations hold significance far beyond what we normally think of as the family sphere and actually concern the fate of whole nations. Our modern desacralized notion of fatherhood as a “common” institution simply does not do justice to how fatherly authority was exercised in the patriarchal eras.

Mark, you write: “We can say that Adam acted like a king, but to say that God's role for Adam was to be the supreme monarch of the earth in light of the first chapters of Genesis is a generalization I'm not willing to make.” I hope that the reasoning provided in the first paragraphs above qualifies as a little more than the fast and loose handling of the text you imply I’m guilty of. I’ll grant you that in Gen. 1:28ff. we see God granting authority to both Adam and Eve over the created order. The human race (in general) was to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth and its creatures. So, the right of dominion over creation was not a unique property belonging solely to Adam. Yet, the sequence of how God created man and set him in the garden first (before the woman was even created) shows Adam was granted authority first. This is what I mean when I refer to Adam’s prime or primordial authority.

“Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13; cf. 1 Cor. 11:8). Here we see St. Paul deriving a general principle from biblical revelation that it is improper for woman to rule over man. Mark well: this principle transcends social spheres; woman is not to teach or have authority over man in church or in the home. We may reasonably conclude she is not to do so in the political sphere either. To separate social from covenantal headship, as you propose, Mark, is a mistake, I believe. The “male headship principle” enunciated by the inspired apostle Paul is logically and temporally prior to the existence of every human social institution.

Adam’s generational priority can reasonably be extended beyond the simple male-female relation. His prior generation implies a perpetual rule over his offspring. While fathers do not exercise total authority over the minutiae of their adult children’s lives, we do see a broad authority exercised in the examples given above. The fifth commandment may be applied more comprehensively to young children than children come of age, but its obligation can never be fully discharged while one’s parent is still alive.

To round out the argument, I find sphere sovereignty problematic because life is lived as an integrated whole. There is all kind of overlap between the three “spheres” (so-called) of family, church and state. So, we should not impute modern specialization, much less egalitarian theories of equality, to the race’s natural social structure. A king’s wife is his subject as well as his queen, and it is not easy to disentangle the two. Similarly, in addition to being a wife, a woman is subject to the headship her husband exercises as executor-administrator of the family estate (a civil function). I prefer instead to speak of different institutions (i.e., family, church, state) distinguished by proper vocations that cooperate to advance mankind’s single purpose: to serve, glorify and enjoy God forever.

Mark, you write: “While I believe that Adam was Eve's head, as her husband, I believe that there is a difference between submission and obedience. My wife vowed to submit to me, but did not vow to obey me.” The difference you make between “obedience” and “submission” here is based on a perceived distinction between the honors that are due to civil authorities on one hand and familial authorities on the other.

I’d suggest that submission and obedience are not different kinds of things, but simply different degrees of honor owed—dependant on the relationship in question. This is confirmed by the fact that the fifth commandment has been traditionally understood to encompass all honor that inferiors are obliged to render their superiors, not merely that owed by children to their parents (e.g., Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 64). The honor due to any superior (including one’s familial covenant head) must involve some kind of submission; and submission is meaningless without obedience to some degree. I would be remiss to omit that this commandment also respects the care and regard superiors owe to their inferiors.

Mark, you write: “I believe that Adam was ‘whole’ and that Eve being taken from Adam meant that God was taking certain roles and responsibilities, and even characteristics from him in creating this woman. Thus masculinity does not define humanity, nor does femininity. Adam was, prior to that, in possession of some combination of both traits, which God separated into distinct, yet complementary roles.”

I don’t think this is quite correct. While I agree that “certain roles and responsibilities” were given to woman, she is to fulfill her vocation and exercise her responsibilities under the oversight and guidance of man. I believe that the hierarchical relationship of man to woman is definitional of what it means to be human. Man was created to image and foreshadow Christ, and woman was created to image and foreshadow the Church (Eph. 5:23ff.). In other words, “man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man” (1 Cor. 11:7). Certainly, the roles of male and female are complementary and are each necessary to express the full reality of humanness, yet one is original, the other, derivative.

I’m not arguing here for a sort of absolute autocracy of male headship. Human authority should be exercised with respect to how God ordered human nature with its variety of vocational responsibilities. There is a degree of obedience proper for young children to their parents, another for adult children to theirs, another for wives to husbands, another for servants to masters, and another for subjects to kings. For each of these relations there is potentially a point where authority figures will transgress the bounds of their proper authority and take honor belonging only to God. To exercise authority well, a ruler must have a sense of these limitations and not demand more than is just, for it is by wisdom (knowledge of the Creator and the created order) that kings reign (Prov. 8:15-16).

Mark, you write: “Historically, it seems that monarchies tend to draw more power to themselves to the point of the "Divine right of kings" where even your own conscience was to be given to the king. The Pope is no different, claiming to speak inerrantly for Christ, and claiming that Christ's own words (scripture) are inadequate. It's hard for me to not associate those abuses, when it seems they occur over and over. Even Absalom used that mentality to sway his servants to murder his brother.”

I do believe in a divine right of kings, but would agree that abuses have occurred over and over again. All I can say is that abuses do not delegitimize a good institution, especially when I think that institution ordained by God. I am more than willing to discuss the pragmatic differences between monarchies and republics. I am even willing to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the democratic republic you favor versus the sacral constitutional monarchy I favor. However, I have more thoughts regarding the biblical basis of monarchy, for, certainly you agree, theoretical considerations must precede pragmatics. Finally, I am not willing to argue for monarchy or prelacy in ecclesiastical government without recourse to the royal-priesthood we see existent in the OT, and so my account must begin with Adam.

We know that Adam was originally placed in a probationary position in the garden. After proving himself in that capacity, he was to be exalted to a higher state: a glorified man over a glorified kingdom. This exaltation was to occur after Adam faithfully fulfilled what traditional Reformed theology commonly calls the Covenant of Works (CoW). An aspect of this preliminary (pre-consummate) form of the kingdom was that Adam was placed under tutelage administered through the ministry of angels (Ps. 8:5; cf. Heb. 2:5-9), but was in time to be placed over them to judge them (Ps. 45:6-7; cf. Heb. 1:4ff.; 1 Cor. 6:3). Adam was basically a crown prince, who had yet to enter into the full exercise of his kingship. Of course, Adam failed his probation, and this necessitated the coming of the second Adam—Jesus Christ. Through Jesus’ obedience unto death the CoW was at last fulfilled, and as a reward he was endowed with his consummated Kingship (the realization of his authority, power and glory) when he ascended on high to the Father (Ps. 2:6ff.; Phil. 2:6-11).

Jesus was a king both before (Matt. 27:11) and after his exaltation (Mark 16:19). He was king by right, by virtue of his messiahship, but he became king in power and glory when he formally entered into his inheritance (Heb. 1:3-4). Similarly, I argue that Adam was a king by virtue of being God’s son (Luke 3:37), but looked forward to a future investiture of glory—a confirmed kingship—once his obedience was complete.

Ezekiel’s vision of the King of Tyre in the twenty-eighth chapter of his prophecy is a remarkable description of that king’s glory and is indicative of far more than superfluous metaphoric fancy. While it has been traditionally acknowledged that Lucifer is in view (vv. 14, 17), it is certainly appropriate to consider the vision as referencing man’s fall (vv. 15-17; cf. Amos 1:5), and even the glory Adam would have inherited if he had successfully fulfilled the terms of the CoW (v. 13). It is a common feature of biblical apocalyptic that several themes are combined together in symbolically rich imagery. We are under no compulsion to choose between the two options. Rather, we are obliged to recognize an intentional thematic recapitulation of several events in the vision. The king of Tyre (henceforth: “Tyre”) falls because his temptation is the same as the serpent’s deception: the delusive prospect of achieving autonomous godhood (Ezek. 28:1-2; cf. Gen. 3:5). Because of his pride, God brought Tyre to the dust (like the serpent) and expels him from the mount of God (simultaneously a reference to Eden and Heaven).

Tyre is pictured as standing in Eden, clothed with the same precious stones and metals that characterize Aaron’s high priestly breastplate (Ex. 39:8ff.) and the glory of the coming New Jerusalem (cf. Rev. 21:18-21)! What could possibly be the purpose of identifying a pagan king of Tyre with Lucifer, Adam and Aaron? Furthermore, what is the connection these personages have to the bride of Christ? First, it should be noted that the original Hebrew of Ezekiel 28 lists only nine precious stones for Tyre, while there are twelve stones set in Aaron’s breastplate. So, it seems that Tyre is of less dignity than Aaron.

But this disparity is not that between the superior dignity of a high priest versus that of a king. This is because Tyre is portrayed in this vision as a priest: he is described as a cherub guarding (a priestly function) sacred mysteries. He walks among fiery stones much as a greater Priest-King would later walk among seven golden lamp stands (v. 14; cf. Rev. 1:12-16). Let us not forget that Adam once walked among the trees of Paradise. So, we have priestly clothing, priestly guardianship, and priestly ministry attributed to Tyre!

How can this be? The key is to be found in the mysterious connection between Adam and Lucifer. Ezekiel’s vision is both an image of what Satan once was, the glory he had as the chief of God’s angels, and an image of what Adam might well have been. If Adam had completed his probation faithfully, he would have been set above the angels. But this was not to be. So, from Adam until Christ, covenant administration from the divine side was effected through angelic mediation (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19) and on the human side, through various human mediators (most notably Moses). I submit for your consideration that the king of Tyre was another such mediator, but like Lucifer he fell, deceived through his own pride. Tyre was certainly not an angel, but he was a beneficiary of Adam’s royal-sacerdotal office. Covenant headship necessarily includes a mediatorial function, and since Adam was the first covenant head he was also the first covenant mediator.

The connection between Adam’s priestly kingship and that of his descendants, is strengthened, I believe, by Scripture’s likening of kings and their nations to the trees of Paradise (Judges 9:7ff.; Ezek. 31; Dan. 4:10ff.; cf. Ps. 1:1-5; 52:8; 92:12-15; Jer. 1:18; Rev. 3:12). I would speculate—though my studies are incomplete at this time—that under the old covenant the rulers of the earth were in a real sense ministers in God’s royal sanctuary through angelic representation (cf. Dan. 10:4-20). Because Eden was where God communed face to face with his vice-regent, it was a particularly suitable milieu for picturing the “sons of God” assembled before the divine Majesty. Eden, in other words, was an earthly prototype and small-scale replica of God’s glorious heavenly Temple-Throne room. Perhaps the original trees of Eden actually corresponded to great kings and nations that subsequently arose in history, but this cannot be known for certain.

The trees of Paradise were symbolic of kings and their nations as well as the pillars of God’s house. Here we see an analogical (though real) relationship between trees and pillars, with angelic and human mediators informing the tree/pillar symbol’s substantial content (e.g., so-and-so is a pillar of the community). It is nearly certain that as Adam was to be transformed into a glorious man, a consummated son of God, so Eden would be transformed into the eschatological temple. This is appears more plausible when we consider that Scripture portrays New Jerusalem (adorned with many paradisiacal features) descending out of heaven to earth. New Jerusalem coalesces with earthly Jerusalem; Eden is restored and earth becomes heaven.

Before concluding, I must emphasize that this exploratory essay has been largely concerned with the administration of the old covenantal economies pre-Christ. There is a new administration now, and it is characterized by the rule of Jesus Christ through his Church over all things (Col. 1:15-21; Eph. 1:18-23; 4:7-17).

Finally, this synthesis of patristic recapitulation, traditional angelology, covenant theology, and modern biblical theology is admittedly a speculative endeavor. I hope I have not extended too far and fallen off the beam. Was Adam a king? Let us study the Scripture, fully familiarizing ourselves with its modes of discourse, taking care to distinguish between its teachings and our rationalistic prejudices, to judge whether Adam was indeed the prototypical priest-king.