A Lutheran critique of Escondido theology

Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California, has some impressive theologians–Michael Horton, David Van Drunen, and other Calvinists of the sort who appear on White Horse Inn.  I know some of these guys, think highly of them, and appreciate how some of them are being influenced by Luther and Lutheran theology.  But though they speak of the distinction between Law and Gospel, have a stronger influence on the Sacraments, and teach about vocation, they are still Calvinists and their use of Luther is still within a Calvinist context.

A controversy has broken out in Reformed circles about the doctrine of the Two Kingdoms, as formulated by these Escondido theologians, particularly David Van Drunen in his book Living in Two Kingdoms:  A Biblical Vision of Christ and Culture.  He is developing an alternative to the “one kingdom” model of the Dominionists and to the Abraham Kuyper’s “neocalvinism” with its notion of “sphere sovereignty” over every dimension of life.

This is a worthy project, but Van Drunen’s version of the Two Kingdoms is NOT the same as the Lutheran view.  Yet the two are being confused.  As other Reformed theologians push back against this so-called “Escondido theology,” they are saying that Van Drunen’s view is the official position of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  I’ve heard that Dr. Van Drunen’s book is being taught in courses on Lutheran theology.  And, to top it off, I’m told that I am even mentioned in at least one book on the subject as advocating this Escondido theology!

At that Two Kingdoms conference I participated in, Jordan Cooper gave an important presentation entitled “Escondido Theology: An Evaluation and Critique.”

After the jump, I’ll sum up some of the differences and post the video of Jordan’s presentation. [Read more…]

The curses on vocation

Picking up from yesterday’s post, something else I learned from Jordan Cooper’s presentation on the Two Kingdoms and Creation.  He pointed out that just as God established human culture by appointing the vocations of marriage, parenthood, and work in Paradise, the curses after the Fall are directed specifically to vocation:  conflict within marriage; pain in parenthood; frustration with work.

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Vocation as the foundation of culture

I learned some things at the Two Kingdoms conference I spoke at, sponsored by Jordan Cooper at Just and Sinner.  Jordan commented that our vocations–in the family, the economy, the church, and the state–are no less than the foundations of culture.

He studied the first chapters of Genesis and concluded that the so-called “cultural mandate” (by which human beings are given the authority and the ability to rule the earth), should more properly be called the “vocational mandate.”

UPDATE:  You can hear Jordan’s complete presentation here.

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Men who won’t work

Nearly a third of American men aren’t working.  These include the unemployed, men who can’t find jobs.  But there are two-and-half times more men who aren’t even trying to find a job.  Because their lack of work is voluntary, they aren’t counted in the unemployment rate.  But the number of men between 25 to 54 who are “economically inactive” is soaring.

This has nothing to do with educational attainment, the business cycle, or the availability of jobs.  Many men just don’t feel that traditional masculine impulse to work for a living.  Instead they are living off of government benefits, family members, and girl friends.  (Women, by contrast, are working in vast numbers.  But the men who don’t work tend not to be the marrying kind.)

After the jump, an excerpt and link to George Will’s review of Nicholas Eberstadt’s book on the subject, Men Without Work:  America’s Invisible Crisis.

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Family Vocation, revisted

It’s very gratifying for a writer to hear from a reader who “gets” what the writer was trying to say.  So I would like to humbly commend to you Heather Judd’s review of Family Vocation, excerpted and linked after the jump.

Which reminds me that you have through Friday to sign up to win a free copy of that book from GoodReads.  Just click on the widget after the jump. [Read more…]

Death of a vocation warrior

I’ve been in Texas quite a bit this summer and was introduced to the HEB grocery stores.  They aren’t just supermarkets; they are megamarkets–but they are also clean, spacious, well-laid out, and they carry everything you could possibly need.

Now I know where the stores got their name (pronounced “H,” “E,” “B”):  They were started by a man named Howard E. Butt.  His son, Howard E. Butt, Jr., who took over the company, just died at the age of 89.

He ran the company after his father died, but after awhile he turned the management over to other members of his family and used his wealth for Christian philanthropy, from supporting Billy Graham’s ministry to funding church camps.  But his biggest cause was living out the Christian faith in the workplace.

For years, he did a 60-second spot on Christian radio entitled “The High Calling of Our Daily Work.”

I have never heard any of these spots.  (Have you?  If so, please report.)  I’m not sure of his specific theology of vocation (he was a Baptist), but he deserves credit for reminding Christians of this crucial teaching. [Read more…]