Contradicting the Canons

December 7, 2022 by Mark Van Der Molen

We live in a time when the very nature of male of female is denied, laws are passed that codify the denial, and any talk of biblical principles governing society will soon be viewed as punishable hate speech. One would think that such basic realities found in the light of nature could not be denied, yet we are witnessing a culture rushing headlong in suppressing such truths in unrighteousness in almost every facet of public life.

Our Reformed Confessions have an explanation for this problem. In discussing the obscured natural  light remaining after the fall, the Canons of Dort 3/4.4 says:

But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God and to true conversion that he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. By no means, further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted and hinders in unrighteousness, which by doing he becomes inexcusable before God.

Enter Scott Clark once again, who despite the evidence to the contrary, continues to give us his twisted R2k reading of the confession:

What about the clause “incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil.” Aright to what end? The context is salvation. The article speaks of salvation just before that clause and just after it. It seems odd to insist (as some do) that the delegates were rejecting the use of natural law in civil life.

First, the confession is not rejecting the existence of natural law. Rather, it is speaking of the insufficiency of natural law alone to govern civil society, given the pervasive effect of the fall. We are not Pelagians.

Second, when Clark asks “aright to what end?”, the clause itself answers the question: that the natural light is not used aright EVEN IN THINGS NATURAL AND CIVIL. The confession couldn’t be clearer that it is not just speaking about salvation.

Keep in mind, this is nothing new from Clark.  He has long posited the sufficiency of natural law alone to norm the civil sphere:

The cultural or civil sphere is normed by God’s general or natural revelation. Special revelation wasn’t given to norm cultural or civil life. E.g. if we wish to apply special revelation to civil life, then we should all become theonomists, since they are those who wish to apply the only civil code in Scripture (the Mosaic civil laws) to post-canonical civil life.” (2009)

Does his R2k “sufficiency of natural law alone position” simply blind him to the plain reading of the confession? Or is he just distracting his readers from the Canon’s clear language?

In either case, The URCNA Form of Subscription still states:

We promise therefore diligently to teach and faithfully to defend the aforesaid doctrine, without either directly or indirectly contradicting the same by our public preaching, teaching, or writing.”

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