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Village Church of Lincolnshire

Let Justice Roll Down Lesson Four: Measured and Found Wanting (Ch. 7)

This is our fourth lesson in our series on Amos. To watch the livestream, click here.

Introduction

Christ, the prophets, and apostles of our Lord, went to heaven with the note of traitors, seditious men, and such as turned the world upside down: calumnies of treason to Cæsar were an ingredient in Christ’s cup, and therefore the author is the more willing to drink of that cup that touched his lip, who is our glorious Forerunner: what, if conscience toward God, and credit with men, cannot both go to heaven with the saints, the author is satisfied with the former companion, and is willing to dismiss the other.[1]

If I were to ask you who wrote that paragraph, you would probably either have no idea or tell me it came from some liberal theologian or Christian socialist, some “anarchist” who misunderstood the gospel and made it too political. You would not, probably, guess that it came from a Scottish Presbyterian in the seventeenth century by the name of Samuel Rutherford, one of the most famous of the Scottish Puritans, a man as protestant as there ever was. You would not guess that it was the preface to a book in 1644 entitled Lex, Rex, or The Law and The Prince, arguing forcefully that the law was above the king and that the people had a right to oppose a monarch when he went against that law. And you would not guess that this work influenced not only Rutherford’s fellow puritans, but John Locke, and later John Adams and many other of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

But those things are true. Rutherford, aghast at the way many were ascribing absolute power to the English monarch, had to speak up. He’d seen the way the absolute power of the king had led to the king committing gross injustices, especially to the Scotts, and when certain Christians had written claiming that the Bible endorsed such power, he couldn’t stay silent. Rutherford’s point was simple: the king was subject to both the people and law, and that he would be held accountable for his injustices. Or, in other words, God holds all nations, peoples, and rulers accountable for their injustice.

Because of this little book Lex, Rex, Rutherford was not praised but called a traitor. Like Amos before him, he was called to kings’ courts and accused of wanting to bring down the establishment. His insistence of the ultimate authority of God’s law was perceived as conspiratorial sedition. Being accused of treason in Rutherford’s day meant almost certainly a brutal death, but Rutherford persisted. The fact that the powers refused to listen to God’s Word was only proof that Rutherford was right: they were unjust.

In Chapter 7 of Amos our prophet faces a similar reality. Rutherford, and many others throughout Christian history, were simply following Amos’ lead, the reality that God holds all nations and peoples accountable for their injustice. But when Amos finishes his scathing prophecy today in chapter 7, we find that he is called a “conspirator” and “anti-Israel,” and the people confirm what we suspected all along: they were an unjust people. God would hold them accountable.

The Plumb line (7:1-9) 

After both displaying clearly the sinfulness of the people and the only way they could be saved in chapters 1-6, Amos describes a series of final “warning visions” to really get the people to understand the danger of this moment in verses 1-9. He describes three different punishments, in classic prophetic tradition, that “the Lord showed” him, and relates the dialogue he had with God about each of them. These again are sirens, final blaring warnings, and they display something about God’s great patience with these wayward people.

The first siren is a vision of locust swarms. Amos says that God was “forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout,” that is, the important wheat harvest which the people would use to make the years’ worth of bread. Without this harvest, not even the king would be able to eat, and he would certainly not get the tax of grain from the poor (called “the king’s mowings”, cf. 7:1, 5:11). This would spell famine for the people, and also be a painful parallel to God’s punishment on pagan Egypt (Exod. 10:12-15). Just as God had punished Pharaoh for his refusal to listen, so too would he punish these fickle, stiff-necked people.

What is fascinating, however, is how Amos responds to this image. Remember, these people are Amos’ main opponents; they are sinful, selfish, and tyrannical. You would expect Amos to cheer the locusts on, to bask in the destruction, and to burst out with an exclamation of “I TOLD YOU SO!” But this is how Amos responds:

            “O Lord God, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” (v.2)

Amos, like Moses before him (Exod. 32:11-14), pleads with God to forgive these people. He throws himself before the Lord and begs for mercy, seeing how great of a disaster this would spell to the nation that he loves. He recognizes the righteousness of it, how the Lord would be just to do it, but he calls on the Lord and hopes, just maybe, that God would be merciful too.

God is merciful indeed. Verse 3 says “The Lord relented concerning this: ‘It shall not be,’ said the Lord.” This mini drama has within it the whole cycle of the threat of punishment, the cry for forgiveness, and God’s longsuffering and patience in relenting from disaster that sums up the entire Old Testament narrative. God’s justice is not his only attribute; he acts in great mercy and love to those who fear him (Luke 1:50). He is

The Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will be no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation. (Exod. 34:6-7)

When people repent (as Amos images in his cry for forgiveness), God relents. This promise is as sure as any; all the people need to do is admit their iniquity and God will hear (Psalm 32:5). Sin thrives in the stubborn insistence that we have done no wrong, that there is nothing to repent of, and that we have it all figured out. Such an insistence, a digging in of our heels, spells only disaster. For when someone comes along to tell us otherwise, we find it not a message of mercy by an offensive affront to our righteousness.

Amos, by his little dialogue with God, images what repentance would look like for these people. This drama is repeated, almost word for word, in verses 4-6, when God shows Amos a vision of “the Lord God calling for a judgment by fire,” a devouring, scourging fire that leaves the land desolate. Amos again cries out, using similar words as above, and the Lord again relents. One thinks of Abraham begging for God’s mercy on Sodom, when he points to the innocents and righteous within the city and God over and over relents of the disaster which he plans on it (Gen. 18:22-33). But another vision is coming, and just like with God and Sodom no intercession will be enough to convince him that these people don’t deserve his wrath.

In verses 7-9 Amos is shown a vision in which “The Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand” (v.7). A “plumb line” was simply a little string with a weight on one end, which conveniently allowed builders to ensure that the wall they were constructing was perfectly straight. To us it might not be that intimidating of an image; the Lord standing, fire around him, dangling a little string with a rock at the end and saying, “you’d better watch out!”

But to the people, this is a terrifying picture. A “plumb line” is used, throughout the prophets, as an image of evaluation, a measuring line, an evaluative tool. To say that something was straight or crooked had decidedly moral connotations; to disobey God was to “make crooked all that is straight” (Mic. 3:9), and when God pulls out the plumb line, he is determined to find it out. “Plumb line” had the connotations of measuring, evaluating, judging the people by a standard. The idea is one of measuring, of God stepping in and giving the authoritative evaluation of the people’s behavior. This is what God did when he wrote those cryptic words on the walls of king Belshazzar’s palace, “MENE, MENE, TEKEL and PARSIN”, which Daniel interpreted as “you have been weighted in the balances and found wanting” (Dan. 5:24-28). God had evaluated the Babylonian rulers and had found them out of line, and the result was the invasion of the Medes and Persians and their destruction.

Isaiah reiterates this idea of a “plumb line” as an image of God’s moral evaluation, and insists that the metric by which the people will be measures is justice and righteousness: “And I will make justice the line, and righteousness the plumb line; and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies, and waters will overwhelm the shelter” (Isa. 28:17).Similarly, anonymous prophets used the image of a measuring or plumb line to convince the evil king Manasseh of the destruction coming his way:

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day. (2 Kings. 21:12-15)

The message is clear: when God pulls out the plumb line, he will evaluate the people unflinchingly. When the plumb line comes out in Amos 7, notice how Amos doesn’t plead for mercy as in the previous two visions (Amos 7:8-9). When God drops the plumb line in the midst of Israel, the result is sure: they will be found wanting. And so, God utters these words of judgment after dropping the line:

I will never gain pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword. (7:9)

Translation? “you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting” (Daniel 5:27).

 

Measurement: Accurate (7:10-17)

At this point, it looks like Amos has finished his prophecy. Judgment is coming if the people do not repent. God holds all people, nations, and leaders accountable for their injustice, and he will repay them for their evil deeds in the social realm. Amos has told them what to do, to “seek the Lord and live” by “hating evil and doing good” in every realm of society. He’s even imaged what it looks like to ask the Lord for mercy, to beg for forgiveness and receive it. The people, if they had been listening, were set up for a slam dunk of repentance.

Then Amaziah shows up, the “priest of Bethel.” Even that epithet should make us suspicious. When Jeroboam I, some hundred years ago, had set up the Northern kingdom of Israel, he had made Bethel the religious center of the North, and in a jealous rage tried to make it the new Jerusalem. He made two golden calves, and declared “behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out the land of Egypt,” and put one in Bethel. And he made a temple and feast days to be celebrated in Bethel instead of Jerusalem and appointed “priests” to minister at the alter there (1 Kings 12:25-33). For a hundred years now, we had institutionalized idolatry at Bethel and throughout the land, and Amaziah, one of the “priests” there, was no true priest at all. He was a professional idolater and political tool.

Now, Amaziah the “priest” hears these words of Amos at Bethel and is furious. In a fury he sends to Jeroboam II, the king of Israel, with this message:

Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword and Israel must go into exile away from his land.” (7:10-11)

Remember two important things about Amaziah. First off, he doesn’t know God’s laws. He is no good and just Israelite, but rather simply claims God’s favor and supposes to instruct the people on what they should do and believe. Secondly, Amaziah has a political dog in this fight; he sees that the repentance of these people would mean that he would lose his power, and that his influence would wane. He’d no longer be the authority, but rather would be forced to step down (at the least). Amaziah is solely concerned with maintaining the power he has and keeping public opinion on his side.

It is hard not to see contemporary parallels to Amaziah. He seeks to sway and stoke the fear of both the leaders and the people, claiming (falsely) that Amos is a conspirator. He claims that Amos has “conspired against” the king, using the term qšr, which had the connotation of people secretly joining or “binding” together to work a secret agenda (2 Sam 15:31 ;2 Kings 14:19; 15:30; 2 Chron. 25:27).[2] Amaziah speaks by twisting words, making claims that are simply not true by taking Amos’ words out of context. He claims that there is a secret society, led by Amos, “in the midst of the house of Israel,” and by insinuation claims that their one desire is to take down the monarchy.[3] You can just hear the arrogant authority behind this declaration, and the fear that he seeks to stoke by his spin of Amos’ prophecy. And you can hear the echoes of Amaziah every time someone claims that Bible-believing Christians are secret cannibals or political rebels (as was the ancient Roman suspicion), or secret communists (as is a modern suspicion).

Amaziah then turns to Amos with his scathing rebuke. “O seer, go,” he chides, “flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary” (7:12-13). Amaziah publishes this “anti-Israel” interpretation and in effect says to Amos, “If you don’t like it here, you can leave!” He tries to destroy the force of Amos’ words by pointing out that he said these insulting things “in the king’s sanctuary,” that is, he insulted the institution of the monarchy and the power that it holds. He tries to make Amos seem pathetic, telling him to “flee” and go “eat bread” somewhere else. He also hints, through these words, of danger for Amos if he doesn’t listen.[4] Amaziah is trying to discredit Amos, make him seem like some Judean seditionist sent to weaken Israel.

We should remember that this is exactly what Amos said took place in Israel. Way back in chapter 2 he had told the people that they “command the prophets, saying ‘you shall not prophesy” (2:12). It was a constant theme during this era of Israel’s history that they adored messages of “peace” and national pride, even when the walls were crumbling down around them (Jer. 8:11). When Jeremiah prophesied the same kind of destruction later to the people of Judah, the officials want to kill him because “he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm” (Jer. 38:4). As we’ve discussed back in lesson 2, these cultural narratives, of the people as God’s people no matter what they did, made it nearly impossible for the people to listen when God sent them prophets to tell them what he actually thought of their deeds.

Therefore, when Amos replies to Amaziah, his answer is simple: God’s measurement of you is accurate. The plumb line has been dropped in their midst, and they’ve proven that God’s measuring tools were correctly calibrated. He denies any conspiratorial occupation (saying that he was simply a farmer and herdsman before God told him what to say, 7:14-15), and just reiterates the just judgment coming their way. Amos doesn’t back down, as Amaziah had thought he would, but takes his words and quotes them as the direct reason for the coming judgment:

You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.” Therefore thus says the Lord: “your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.” (7:16-17)

A Famine of Hearing the Words of the Lord

You can’t but mourn this total lost opportunity for the people in chapter seven. They’ve responded in the exact wrong way. Amaziah’s spinning of conspiracy theories has led them not just astray, but straight into Sheol. They’ve listened to blind guides and, well…. you know how the saying goes.

Today’s passage is yet another grave warning for us. Later in chapter eight, Amos will prophesy a coming famine for these people, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (8:11). They’ll look around for God’s wisdom for them, but it will be gone. Amaziah will still be there, prattling away with his message of “peace,” but those who speak God’s words will be all but gone from life.

We find ourselves in danger of a similar famine. What Amos 7 teaches us is that once God’s people turn to pundits instead of God’s word for guidance, they are in grave danger of missing the warning signs. As every last ounce of our world get politicized, we find that those who speak from God’s word are relegated to less and less “acceptable subjects” or “spiritual matters.” If a pastor or Bible-believing author speaks out, as Amos did, for justice in the world, they are quickly shut up by the Amaziahs of today, and conspiracies begin to foment. Issues of which the Bible is undoubtedly clear become the realm of the political commentator, who is no Berean and is often devoid of the virtues of Christ (Matt. 5:2-12; 43-48). Those who look for God’s word to be spoken in the political sphere find a famine, they find no hope, and they feel the pressure to pick a side.

It is in this kind of situation where injustice thrives. When God’s people will no longer listen to his Word but will go instead to those who do not know it as the authority, they put themselves in extreme danger of being complicit in injustice. For no amount of rationalizing, of equivocating, or of demonizing the other side will move God when he puts the plumb line in our midst. Amos’ basic message rings true, like a desperate siren in a famished land: God holds all nations and peoples accountable for their injustice. And as Amos, and Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Obadiah, and Jesus, and Paul, and Peter all say: that includes us (Amos 3:2; Isaiah 10:12; Jer. 25:29; Ezek 9:6; Obadiah 15-16; Matthew 11:20-24; Matt. 25:31-45; Romans 2:9; 1 Pet. 4:17).

How should we respond?

            I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)

 

            If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9-10).

 

Excursus: A Brief Evangelical History of Social Engagement 

An interesting part of the current debate has to do with the true Christian heritage of engagement in the social sphere. The argument goes something like this: Christians have only recently started caring about “social justice” because of the influence of the secular world and have lost the gospel’s true message for a sneaking ideology that seeks to destroy the church. People (rightly) point to many aspects of modern equality movements, which are often militant in their insistence that LGBTQAI+ issues are of the same category as civil rights issues (an idea called intersectionality[5]), and they worry that younger Christians are capitulating to the whole host of ideas often espoused by the most vocal of those derogatorily called “social justice warriors.”

And before we say anything else, we should admit that they have at least some right to be concerned. One needs only to look to the Modernist/Fundamentalist controversy of about a hundred years ago, when many in mainline denominations experienced a radical theological shift which did include an augmenting of the gospel message to focus solely on social ills. This move was unprecedented and became one reason (among many others![6]) for the schism that occurred in American Christianity between those who began to call themselves “fundamentalists” and those who did not. In addition, one can point to some who in the name of “holistic” ministry never really get around to actually preaching the gospel.[7]

While all this remains true, one thing must be said: it is observably not true that Christians have only recently began to care about issues of justice. While the social gospel movement certainly gave Christians cause to be more careful in how they talked about justice, the social implications of the gospel (including the call to work for social reform) have always been seen as a vital part of Christian life. Louis Berkhof, writing at the height of the modernist/fundamentalist controversy (1913)  as one on the side of fundamentalism, had this to say of the Christian duty of social reform:

[If Calvin’s followers are asked if they should work for social reform], they too will answer: Most assuredly: and for further explanation they will add: There is no dualism between nature and grace, the natural and the supernatural, a man’s body and his soul. The natural as a gift of God is just as good as the supernatural. Only it has become subject to sin, it is in bondage, and that bondage results in misery. And now the supernatural grace of God has entered the world as a redeeming, a liberating force. It seeks the redemption of man, body and soul; the removal of sin and its dire consequences; the sanctification of life in all its relations; the restoration of the world to its pristine beauty….Hence the Church as a social organism is certainly not exempt from duty in the movements for social betterment..[8]

To Berkhof, the world was right to criticize the Church for moving out of cities, for not speaking up against the injustices taking place in factories, and for not seeking the welfare of citizens in growing urban centers.[9] But he is quick to point out that most, if not all, modern democracy has Calvinism in particular to thank:

Calvinism faithfully preached and applied has been of momentous significance in the past. It has fostered in one nation after another political democracy. The liberty we enjoy in our country is in no small measure the fruit of Calvin’s work. And Calvinism also contains the principles and forces that make for industrial democracy, for the establishment of God’s rule in every sphere of life, for the introduction of a better social day, and for an ever increasing fulfillment of the Church’s constant prayer: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”[10]

Berkhof is not the only one who points to this vital aspect of Protestantism (and in particular, Calvinism). John Witte Jr., in his fascinating book the Reformation Of Rights, points out that the concept of liberty and the creation of a just society was of vital concern for Calvin himself.[11] Calvin, far from being simply a theologian, was also a political and judicial organizer in Geneva, and the radical change that took place there for a time afforded him an opportunity to think about what good government looks like and how best to achieve those ends.

Calvin writes of two major types of liberty, a spiritual (liberty of conscience) and a political (civic freedom).[12] These liberties are essential to human life, and both were to be protected regardless of one’s religion. Witte Jr. elaborates that Calvin’s view meant that, “the church must also respect the liberty of conscience of Jews, Turks, Muslims, heretics, and others.”[13] The government was to make room for these liberties, allowing Christians the opportunity to “make public manifestation of their faith.” The litmus test for a true government was its protection of these liberties, and they derived their legitimacy from that task.

Calvin felt so strongly about this that he writes in his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion that the best version of government was one “where freedom is regulated with becoming moderation and is properly established on a durable basis.”[14] Government leaders had a responsibility to the people to protect these liberties, “to provide for the common safety and peace of all.”[15] This prevention of the loss of liberty included leaders exercising “justice and righteousness” by defending “good men from the wrongs of the wicked” and giving “aid and protection to the oppressed.”[16]Hence, Calvin’s vision of a good government was rule by spiritual and moral representatives elected by the people.[17]

To Calvin, Christians had a right and a duty to appeal to their leaders when they did not act according to this vision. Christians were to speak against evil in all its forms, whether that evil was the anarchist tendency of human hearts to rebel against all authority, or the evil of civil leaders and governing authorities. “Unless both these evils are checked,” he writes, “purity of faith will perish.”[18] There was no distinction made between the “spiritual” and the “natural”; God had authority over all, and every area where evil lurked was now under the authority of the gospel message. When powers do evil instead of good, Christians must oppose them. “Earthy princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God” he wrote. “We ought rather to spit on their heads than to obey them when they are so restive and wish to rob God of his rights”

Calvin’s reflections on the social implications of the gospel led to a developed theory of protest and social reform amongst his followers, most notably Theodore Beza. When French Calvinists were severely persecuted by the monarchy, Beza and others took Calvin’s reflections to heart when thinking about when and how government action could be disobeyed and protested. The first step was for the people to appeal to local leaders to resist top-down tyrannical rulings, that is, ruling that violated people’s rights and were not according to God’s law. Local leaders then had the responsibility to listen first to those they represent and to disobey/refuse to enforce the unjust laws and petition the higher authorities to act justly[19]. If such action was successful, the people were to accept the leadership of the local leader and the protest would cease. Yet, if even the local leader sought to enforce the tyrannical ruling, the covenant between them and the people was broken, and the people had the right to further protest the unjust action or flee the area.[20]

This Calvinist heritage changed the world. Samuel Rutherford (whom we spoke of in the beginning), came right out of this kind of tradition of social reform and protest, as did John Winthrop, and later John Adams.[21] The concern for the sins of the social realm continued to influence both theologians and political organizers, and became part-in-parcel of Protestant Christian witness. From the Westminster Catechism[22]to Charles Hodges’ calls for the emancipation of slaves;[23] from the Revolutionary war to the ethical writings of evangelicals such as Walter Kaiser Jr.[24], Carl F.H. Henry, Harold John Ockenga, and Billy Graham;[25] Christians, and especially protestants, have always had a keen concern for social issues. Certain recent theological perspectives, in what we may call a revival of the “spirituality of the church” argument by southern Presbyterians during the civil war,[26] are aberrant in their denial of the social implications of the gospel. The reality is that the gospel always has social implications, and that part of God’s call on his people is to love our neighbors “in deed and in truth”(1 John 3:18). As Berkhof summaries,

The Church should never forget the social message entrusted to her. Most assuredly, the Church is concerned first of all with individuals and their preparation for life eternal. Hence the pulpit should never degenerate into a chair of sociology. At the same time she must continually remember that she is God’s chosen instrument, not only to save individuals, but to seek, as far as may be, the realization of the Kingdom of God on earth. The Bible contains many directions for social life, reveals to us the principles that should control every movement for social reform, and offers us the only final solution of all the social problems. And no sinister influence should ever induce the preacher to hide this light.[27]

 

Footnotes

[1] Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex or The Law and The Prince, 1644, https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/rutherford/Lex,%20Rex%20-%20Samuel%20Rutherford.pdf, 31.

[2] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Vol. 3, trans. M. E. J. Richardson, New Ed edition (Leiden: Brill Academic Pub, 1996) 1153; Francis I. Anderson and David Noel Freedman, Amos, AB 24A (New York: Doubleday, 1989), 766.

[3] Francis I. Anderson and David Noel Freedman, Amos, AB 24A (New York: Doubleday, 1989), 635.

[4] Anderson and Freedman, Amos, 772.

[5] Andrew Byers, “Don’t Scoff at ‘Social Justice.’ Don’t Anchor Yourself to It, Either.,” Christianity Today, June 18, 2020, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/june-web-only/douglas-murray-madness-crowds-social-justice.html.

[6] In fact, it should be noted that the primary issues of the modernist/fundamentalist controversy were “(1) The inerrancy of the autographs [original written Scriptures]; (2) the virgin birth of Jesus; (3) his substitutionary atonement; (4) his bodily resurrection and (5) the miracles of Jesus”, John D. Woodbridge and Frank A. James III, Church History: From the Pre-Reformation to the Present Day (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 798.

[7] D.A. Carson, “The Hole in The Gospel,” Themelios 38, no. 3 (2013): 353–56,355-56.

[8] Louis Berkhof, The Church and Social Problems (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1913), 16.

[9] Ibid., 20-23.

[10] Ibid., 23.

[11] John Witte Jr., The Reformation of Rights: Law, Religion and Human Rights in Early Modern Calvinism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 45.

[12] Witte, The Reformation of Rights, 45.

[13] Witte Jr., The Reformation of Rights, 46.

[14] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles, vol. II (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), IV:XX:8.

[15] Calvin, Institutes, IV:XX:9.

[16] Calvin, Instutites, IV:XX:8.

[17] Witte Jr., The Reformation of Rights, 63.

[18] Calvin, Institutes, IV:XX:1.

[19] Calvin himself had made this point, cf. Institutes, IV:XX:30-31.

[20] Witte Jr., The Reformation of Rights, 105.

[21] Witte. Jr., The Reformation of Rights, 288-285.

[22] See Question 135, “What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?”

[23] In fact, Hodge reacted strongly against the Southern idea of “the spirituality of the church” that meant it could never discuss political matters: “There are occasions when political questions rise into the sphere of morals and religion ; when the rule for political action is to be sought, not in considerations of state policy, but in the law of God,” The Princeton Review, January 1861, 1.

[24] Walter Kaiser Jr., What Does the Lord Require? A Guide for Preaching and Teaching Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, n.d.),19-41.

[25] Woodbridge and James III, Church History: From the Pre-Reformation to the Present Day, 806-812.

[26] Deborah Jane Rayner, “The Plunge into Secession: The Presbyterian Schism of the Reverends. Charles Hodge, James Henley Thornwell, and Benjamin Morgan Palmer” (Las Vegas, University of Nevada, 2009), https://digitalscholarship.unlv.edu/thesesdissertations/1125/, 75-76.

[27] Berkhof, The Church and Social Problems, 18.

Pastor Casey is the Associate Pastor at Village Church of Lincolnshire. He graduated from Trinity International University with a B.A. In pre-seminary studies in 2018, and from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Mdiv) in 2019. You can read Casey's thoughts on his blog, https://revivalrenewal.wordpress.com/.

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