You might remember when Joel McDurmon, the heir apparent of Rushdoony’s decaying and rotting corpse of Reconstructionism, son-in-law of Y2K conspirator and economist, Gary North, believed that Biblical “justice” required stoning homosexuals. There was a time, back before our debate on theonomy, when Joel McDurmon was an actual textbook theonomist. He has since redefined theonomy and abandoned all the notions of Biblical justice he, North and Rushdoony promoted. Having reinvented himself and adjusting his beliefs to the point they are almost unrecognizable from what they were previously, McDurmon now champions “woke” evangelicalism and Grandad Rushdoony is turning over in his grave. Far from the racist, pseudo-Kinist and Holocaust-denying foundations upon which he started, McDurmon is now an awkward and unlikely compatriot of those advocating a bizarrely leftist version of justice that’s just as errant as the kind which he once advocated, but on the opposite side of the spectrum. McDurmon, who – like all one-time-theonomists – fancied themselves as old school Calvinists, cited New Calvinist leader, DA Carson, in his last post at American (Re)Vision and claims that the pushback against Rauschenbuschism is really an attack against “racial reconciliation.”
McDurmon once opined on the American (Re)Vision blog, “The problem is that in modern society, we have let the liberals and heathen define the values for us. Instead of gathering our standards of what is to be loved and what is to be ‘hated’ from God’s word, we are supposed to accept the shouts of shame from liberals – shouts which derive directly from their rejection of God’s word and replacing of God’s standards with their own value system.” Proving himself to have all the positional fortitude of a theological chameleon, McDurmon now uses a contemporary cultural lexicon to promote the very opposite worldview American (Re)Vision was founded to combat.
D. A. Carson is acknowledged widely as one of today’s foremost conservative evangelical scholars, certainly in New Testament scholarship, and certainly among Reformed Baptists.
That was the first sentence of his post.
No. No, no, no.
Carson is not “conservative” on either the theological or the political spectrum. He is the driving force behind one of the most socially progressive, theologically liberal change agents in American evangelicalism, The Gospel Coalition (yesterday they ran a post arguing for more “political diversity” – read that, liberals – in church). Furthermore, Carson is not a “Reformed Baptist.” He is a Calvinist and a Baptist, the two of which are not enough to call someone a “Reformed Baptist.” I don’t know any actual Reformed Baptists who would give the man that moniker. He does not subscribe to the 1689 London Baptist Confession and he is a Continuationist, which is an automatic disqualification from the title.
Providing material for his blog post, McDurmon elucidates on words from Carson’s 2002 book, Love in Hard Places. As McDurmon cites Carson:
Carson’s concluding comments need to be emphasized here at the outset: “certainly we must not be perceived to be knee-jerk reactionaries who are dragged into racial reconciliation kicking and screaming, bringing up the end of the pack, the last to be persuaded” (p. 107). The sad truth is that for the majority of their existence, the conservative Protestant and Evangelical churches have only arisen to the level of being dragged kicking and screaming at their better moments. Much of the time was instead fierce opposition.
I just want to point out here that, like John MacArthur in the 1960s, many evangelicals were supportive of civil rights. MacArthur certainly wasn’t drug kicking and screaming. Likewise, Protestants and evangelicals were a sizable contingent among those fighting for abolition, the end of Jim Crow laws, and equal protection under the law. While there have been historic figures in Protestantism who have fought strongly against racial equality, some have been related to McDurmon by marriage, including Gary North and RJ Rushdoony. Rushdoony is cited by Stephen McDowell as saying ,”since unbelievers are by nature slaves, they could be held as life-long slaves” 1 without piercing the ear to indicate their voluntary servitude (Lev. 25:44-46). This passage in Leviticus says that pagans could be permanent slaves and could be bequeathed to the children of the Hebrews.”
In the Institutes of Biblical Law, Rushdoony wrote of slavery:
The (Biblical) Law here is humane and also unsentimental. It recognizes that some people are by nature slaves and will always be so. It both requires that they be dealt with in a godly manner and also that the slave recognizes his position and accepts it with grace.
So they are by nature slaves. Okaaaay.
Ironically, McDurmon cites Carson, “[W]e who are Christians must be constantly on guard against all forms of cultural and ethnic pride (especially in our own hearts) that mark out others as intrinsically inferior..”
While I’m glad that McDurmon had the theonomy beat out of him at some point, it would be nice if he would iterate that the people he now speaks against are those who formed the Chalcedon Institute and American (Re)Vision. That level of intellectual honesty would be appreciated.
McDurmon argues, People can haggle over the finer points of the definition of the word ‘racism,’ but what really matters now is whether those who have more power are willing to serve and sacrifice for those of our brethren who don’t. What matters is whether we have a passion for justice, and are ready to turn that passion into real, physical, relational solutions.
McDurmon has adopted the language of those from a value system absolutely foreign to Scripture and which were formulated in the pagan academy in the 20th Century. McDurmon speaks of the power class, a mythical group of people with the near-omnipotent power to affect change, the type and kind that is needed to help the suppressed class of permanent victims of the power class. The power class, oozing with privilege, must now “serve and sacrifice” (give stuff) for the oppressed. The notion of reparations for past grievances (which rewards those not personally victimized and punishes those not individually guilty, neither of which is in any sense just) oozes from McDurmon’s keyboard in the term, “real, physical, relational solutions.”
In short, the Gospel is not enough. The well-to-do need to cough it up. “Justice” is a term McDurmon is increasingly letting the pagan define, rather than the Sacred Writ. McDurmon does leave himself room to stop short of full-blown government-given redistribution of wealth, however:
I certainly won’t follow Carson if he thinks any kind of government program of redistribution of wealth is the answer, but it certainly does not scare me to discuss “distributive” justice in general, for that can simply mean the need for private, charitable solutions from Christian individuals and churches. This most definitely is God’s law for us today.
Here is the primary malfunction of McDurmon’s characteristic inability to follow a line of Biblical reasoning. First, “distributive” justice is not a thing. He pulled that out of nowhere. The Eighth Commandment presupposes the right of private property ownership. What this means is that no one is entitled to what belongs to you. Therefore, whatever wealth may be voluntarily redistributed by private individuals or charities is not “justice.” Justice is that which is demanded and can be coerced. In fact, that the lightbulb illuminating his inconsistencies didn’t go off in his brain when he typed “charitable solutions” and “distributive justice” in the same sentence is astounding. Charity is, by definition, a matter of mercy. Mercy is not the same as justice.
This is the flaw of the entire Social Justice movement as promoted by “woke” evangelicalism. Caring for the widows, the orphans, the needy, the alien and sojourner, or the disenfranchised is not a matter of “justice” at all. It is a matter of mercy. A widow is not entitled to a husband. An orphan is not entitled to another’s property. An alien is not entitled to Citizenship. A hungry person is not entitled to food. A sick person is not entitled to medical care. However, all of these things, if done properly, could be provided for by Biblical acts of mercy. To call these acts justice is to show a grossly unbiblical view of justice and mercy.
The notion of entitlement is a part of the current zeitgeist. I would wager to bet that our church’s food pantry feeds more hungry people in a week than American (Re)Vision has fed in its entire existence. And yet, we recognize that this is an act of mercy. No one is entitled to the food we give them, although some may act like it.
Furthermore, McDurmon fails miserably at understanding the proper place of the Civil Magistrate and the individual Christian. He argues above that individuals and charities should engage in these acts of “justice,” but 1 Peter 2 and Romans 13 are both abundantly clear that it is the government – and not the church and not individuals – that are tasked with the act of justice. Understanding the government’s responsibility to do justice, there is no logical reason why the government – and not individuals or charities – should be redistributing wealth.
Finally, while noting that “[Wealth redistribution is] most definitely God’s law for us today,” McDurmon fails to cite any pertinent New Testament passage that demands individual, voluntary wealth redistribution as an act of “justice” in fighting perceived cultural wrongs. And that’s because the entire notion is contrived.
The windmill McDurmon is fighting – and by extension, Carson – is the myth that the evangelical church is somehow fighting against so-called “racial reconciliation.” Poppycock. Give me names. Who are they? Who are the prominent evangelical leaders who do not want the races to reconcile? What makes reconciliation difficult are those who insist on class and race divisions, those who claim the unprosperous are entitled to the wealth of others as a matter of justice and those, generally speaking, who insist on being given Mammon in order to get along with others. And those are the ones who are divisive.
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