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False Flags

Up until now, books critical of the work of Chalcedon and other ministries of like mind have been mounted where they should be mounted: upon the exegesis of Scripture. Such undertakings naturally invite responses at the same level: the text of Scripture. The most prominent critique was a 400+ page volume written by sixteen seminary professors which prompted a detailed reply the following year. Despite the ebb and flow, the passionate exchange of ideas (of admittedly variable quality and accuracy found in books of this genre) has been marked, however imperfectly or inconsistently, by explicit appeals to God’s Word. With the publication this year of Paul McGlasson’s new book, NO! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism, this appears to no longer be true.

Martin G. Selbrede
  • Martin G. Selbrede,
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Paul C. McGlasson cuts a sympathetic figure should you first encounter him bucking modernism as described so pointedly in R. C. Sproul's valuable book, Renewing Your Mind:

One well-respected professor at a theological school changed his mind and took a stand against the atheism of his colleagues. A scandal erupted. He refused to resign. He was on tenure and thus could not be fired. He was consequently stripped of his classes and assigned to a new office-in a janitor's closet.1

McGlasson himself reports witnessing a previous case of what he calls "theological fascism" involving a seminary instructor "accused of ‘mentally raping' the students" because he was "reading from the King James Psalter as a devotional to begin class."2 That same instructor was further accused of "verbal abuse" for "expounding the Sermon on the Mount," particularly the Lord's commands concerning divorce.3 That instructor was subsequently "banned from all public teaching and stripped of all roles in the faculty governance of the seminary. All without any due process, without any public hearing."4 [emphasis added]

You would think that a man having gone through what McGlasson did, who has witnessed what McGlasson has seen, would be the very last person to inflict similar injuries upon faithful co-laborers in Christ. Surely McGlasson, of all people, would guard against repeating such enormities at any level, in any context, through any vehicle. He would never be the one who "automatically applies the harshest measures" to others, having preached openly against such conduct.5 Least of all would we expect McGlasson to dispense with due process in regard to Christian polemics, let alone Christian civility. Moreover, you would think that McGlasson would therefore shun what he calls a "hermeneutics of evasion"6 in responding to the work of others who name the name of Christ. In fact, you would be led to believe that McGlasson operates by his own stated principle that "there is simply no excuse not to hold the Christian ministry in the world today accountable to the highest standards of excellence."7

But you would be mistaken.

False Flags

Up until now, books critical of the work of Chalcedon and other ministries of like mind have been mounted where they should be mounted: upon the exegesis of Scripture.  Such undertakings naturally invite responses at the same level: the text of Scripture. The most prominent critique was a 400+ page volume written by sixteen seminary professors8 which prompted a detailed reply the following year.9 Despite the ebb and flow, the passionate exchange of ideas (of admittedly variable quality and accuracy found in books of this genre) has been marked, however imperfectly or inconsistently, by explicit appeals to God's Word.10 With the publication this year of Paul McGlasson's new book, NO!  A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism,11 this appears to no longer be true.

McGlasson states that "the theological response I am offering here to Christian Reconstructionism is a serious one."12 The back cover affirms that his book "is based primarily on careful exegesis of Scripture." The back cover endorsements inform us that "Paul McGlasson's response to this theology is clear, charitable, forceful, and biblical" (Mark A. Noll of Notre Dame), that "McGlasson is fair but scathing in his biblically based, evangelical, and theologically well-informed critique" (William H. Willimon of Duke Divinity School) as he "uses Scripture and a wide array of Christian thinkers past and present to debunk this false vision of the church" (Mark Tranvik, Augsburg College).

These assured reports of ostensible fairness, charitableness, clarity, and exegetical care interweave with the tone of the book's first four chapters, where it seems that McGlasson is taking extreme pains to accurately lay out his opponents' case by picking four "representative" books and summarizing their content "as objectively as possible"13- Cornelius Van Til's A Theory of Christian Knowledge, R. J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law, Francis Schaeffer's A Christian Manifesto, and Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn't by Gary North and Gary DeMar. As McGlasson affirms, "there is no point arguing over a position unless it is being accurately represented: surely the reader expects nothing less."14

And therein lies the problem.

The unwary reader could easily believe that he's getting exactly what he's been led to expect (accurate representations,15 fair, charitable, well-informed handling of the data, and exegetical care) and will naturally reach McGlasson's conclusion concerning the purported tenets of reconstruction, "that they must be rejected, not debated."16 The book's eight short chapters (averaging a mere 14 pages each) further underscore the author's view that he's dealing with easily detected heresies that can be exposed in short order and dispensed with.

But in virtually all relevant particulars, this book is flying under a false flag.17 It so grossly misrepresents key positions with which it interacts (often asserting the precise opposite of the facts) that the only valid reason to devote ink to it is for the teaching opportunity such a response might present to our readers. We submit the following in the prayer it will be found edifying, although it departs from our primary emphasis (to actively guide and act, rather than to react). Perhaps in this case, a suitable reaction can itself be proactive in applying the Word of God.

McGlasson's Introduction

McGlasson uses two examples to prove how influential Christian Reconstructionism has been. The first is the presidential candidacy of Texas governor Rick Perry: "Put simply, Christian Reconstructionsim [sic], as a religious movement, was there to launch a major campaign for the presidency of the United States."18 The second is Milton Gaither's listing of R. J. Rushdoony as one of "the three pioneers of the modern homeschooling movement."19

The second claim is credible. The first one is incredible. Informed Reconstructionists oppose "salvation by politics" and are firmly anti-statist. Here in Austin where Perry actually governs, Reconstructionists favor Ron Paul (while well-intentioned purists seek someone even further removed from Perry)—and this orientation is evident nationwide. The associative leap made by McGlasson jumps straight into the void.20

McGlasson then lists the four books he'll interact with, followed by his argument premised on canonical considerations in which the Bible's "pattern of truth"21 is to be discerned, against which he previews his objections to the four books he will examine shortly.

Chapter 1: Epistemological Dualism

McGlasson attempts to put Cornelius Van Til's A Christian Theory of Knowledge under the microscope.  By the third page of discussion McGlasson promotes the concepts of brute factuality and neutrality that Van Til so vigorously opposed. While McGlasson cites Van Til's view that "modern thought as a whole has a profound predicament which it cannot under any circumstances solve within the resources at its command,"22 he never actually refutes Van Til on that key point.

Further, we first encounter here a pattern to be repeated for each of the four targets: that McGlasson purports to analyze each one in about 14 pages and then thoroughly debunk them in about the same amount of space. Previously, Van Til warranted an entire 1971 book, Jerusalem and Athens,23 498 pages, with two dozen contributors analyzing, pro and con, his ideas. It took Greg Bahnsen over 750 pages to put Van Til's apologetic method into its most accessible form,24 while ten scholars contributed to Foundations of Christian Scholarship,25 which carefully elaborates Van Til's ideas and their implications in different disciplines, a study over 350 pages long. But consider McGlasson's counsel to reject the ideas he opposes without debate: would you buy and read any of the above books after McGlasson has poisoned the well against them? Is this a fair sifting of all the relevant evidence, or does McGlasson operate closer to the "cavalier dismissal" approach that D. A. Carson identified?26

A lot depends on whether McGlasson conceives of Van Til's position correctly and fairly, and if his extremely brief critique actually confronts Van Til's position in a fatal way. Neither of these appears to be the case. Back in 1976, Dr. John Frame put his finger on the first problem: "The idea that Van Til's apologetic substitutes proclamation for argument is frequently denied in Van Til's writings, but is nevertheless one of the most prevalent misunderstandings of his position." McGlasson adopts this misunderstanding.27 It is not his only misunderstanding of Van Til, whom he later associates with Protestant liberalism28 and Gnosticism.29 It is troubling that a "serious" book stumbles in so many regards in representing a major thinker's views with any reasonable accuracy.

McGlasson denies that a covenant was ever made between God and Adam, least of all a covenant involving dominion of any kind.30 He later states, "There is of course no mention of a ‘covenant' with Adam in Calvin, again for the simple reason that there is no mention of such a covenant in Scripture."31 Such a notion is "a fiction [and] certainly not found in the Bible."32 This is interesting because elsewhere McGlasson loves to quote the other Reformer, Martin Luther - but apparently not on this issue! Luther held that Hosea 6:7 does explicitly speak of a covenant between God and Adam, while Warfield's analysis33 of this issue (in which Warfield ultimately agrees with Luther after exhaustively sifting all the relevant evidence) shows that this understanding goes back many centuries. In fact, several theologians that McGlasson quotes favorably in his book (Marck, Turretine, Bavinck, Luther, Warfield) disagree with McGlasson's (and Calvin's) claim. Is McGlasson's case a house divided,34 or merely a case of selective use of evidence, which would normally point to the logical fallacy of special pleading?

McGlasson has criticized "cultural Christianity," Abraham Kuyper (Van Til's forerunner), and the concept of "worldviews" before,35 and in this new book he opposes further Van Til's rejection of neutrality (perhaps most mockingly when he inquires what difference there could possibly be between a Christian hydrogen molecule and a humanist hydrogen molecule).36 Yet McGlasson's comments elsewhere suggest he opposes the concept of neutrality ... at least neutrality as he defines it.37 He also makes statements that precisely mirror assertions he roundly criticizes when made by a Reconstructionist.38 Notwithstanding these earlier (perhaps unguarded) statements, he now appeals to the "rhythms of Biblical truth"39 in general, and Philippians 4:8 in specific, to prove that Van Til's alleged dualism (!) is rejected by St. Paul, informing the reader that Paul validates humanistic culture in this passage because of the apostle's choice of two specific words. On the basis of this verse, McGlasson condemns Van Til's position as "a serious distortion of the Pauline gospel, a distortion which strikes at the heart of the mystery of grace."40

But is McGlasson's view of Phil. 4:8 correct? Nineteenth-century exegete A. R. Fausset argues that the word virtue is used by Paul in a different sense than the heathen term excellence.41 Lightfoot's 1868 commentary points out that Peter's use of the same term involves a special sense, not the classical (humanistic) meaning,42 while other commentators note the moral (not cultural) dimension of the terminology.43 Renowned exegete H.A.W. Meyer's 1883 commentary refutes McGlasson's view quite vigorously, explaining that Paul's terminology "shows the contrary, as it means no other than Christian morality."44 Lutheran expositor R.C.H. Lenski, in his 1937 commentary, concurs: the terms "are, of course, to be regarded from the Christian standpoint like the other terms. Paul is not using the terms employed by pagan, namely Stoic, moralists; Christian exhortation does not need to borrow from pagans, it is rich in its own linguistic right."45 When confronting Lightfoot's conjecture that this passage might possibly teach that some value may be found in heathen morality, Lenski begs to differ: "none exists there for the Christian."46 Fortunately, all these commentaries were written well before Reconstructionists arrived to pollute discourse. But then again, perhaps these commentaries should be added to the [quickly growing] list of books to reject rather than to debate.

Of all the misrepresentations populating McGlasson's treatment, perhaps the most astonishing is this: "I think it is highly significant that preaching the Word is scarcely even mentioned by Van Til, or by any of the Christian Reconstructionists after him."47 Regarding Van Til, see Bahnsen for the defense,48 but when McGlasson extends this claim to the only Christians who take the Great Commission seriously, who fully believe it can actually be fulfilled, he is operating by a standard of fairness you will be unable to discover in the Scriptures. McGlasson's reduction of Christian Reconstruction to carefully selected passages from authors who are writing on explicitly narrow topics creates a straw man of colossal proportions. This situation only worsens as one progresses further through his book.

Chapter 2: Mosaic Law and Society

I belabored a discussion of McGlasson's first chapter (with some references to later comments of his) to illustrate a fundamental problem with his approach, a problem that persists in subsequent chapters of his work. In "analyzing" Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law, McGlasson will resort to rewording Rushdoony's position if the Mosaic law in question isn't sufficiently abhorrent to be worthy of condemnation by simply quoting the literal scripture. Because McGlasson rejects a "fundamentalist" approach but wants to tie his views to "canon," he quotes St. Augustine as a reliable guide for "knowing when to take the words of the Bible as literal or figurative expressions."49 Because McGlasson agrees with Augustine, he lauds the church father's On Christian Doctrine as a "brilliant treatise," particularly when Augustine says "that whatever appears in the divine Word that does not literally pertain to virtuous behavior ... you must take to be figurative. Virtuous behavior pertains to the love of God and of one's neighbor" [ellipsis in original].50 On Augustine's authority, we can pit scripture against scripture and safely ignore Christ's statement that "upon these two commandments hang all of the law and the prophets."

In this light, Rushdoony's position leads to "an unspeakable nightmare of death, repression, violence, hatred, bigotry, discrimination, and yet more death,"51 evidently because it creates "a dystopia of all-too-human origin"52 by being based on the laws of God. This makes one wonder why McGlasson quotes Luther approvingly when the Reformer says that if he were emperor, he wouldn't be bound by Moses, yet he "should be free to follow him in ruling as he ruled." Would Luther be free in following all of Moses if God's law is a prescription for spawning wicked dystopias? Wouldn't McGlasson say of Luther what he says of Rushdoony's view: "I do not believe this barbaric new world order needs any special condemnation from me. As a religious ideology of bitter anger and fanaticism, it is filled with such malice, ignorance, bigotry, prejudice, and toxic hatred of the human race that it clearly stands self-condemned."53 Significantly, McGlasson arrives at this conclusion after only three short pages.

We must first note that whereas Rushdoony distinguishes between godly dominion and ungodly domination, McGlasson mixes the two and doesn't understand the world of difference between them. If you don't grasp this, you don't understand Christian Reconstruction and are attacking a straw man. McGlasson doesn't understand this.

Second, McGlasson insists that Rushdoony is primarily interested in abstract principles drawn from the law, when in fact Rushdoony is a lethal critic of abstractions of any kind in theology, as his Systematic Theology makes crystal clear.54 Rushdoony even alienated proponents of The Principle Approach to American education, rightly or wrongly, because of his opposition to abstract principles, which he saw as being in sharp contrast to the concrete Person of Christ. (Rushdoony actually sounds like McGlasson in repeatedly asserting the person of Christ as the proper focus of our faith, but you would never learn this by reading McGlasson.) In short, it is Rushdoony who argues for concrete application of the laws of God as written; it is McGlasson who actually extracts abstract principles when he follows Augustine.

Third, McGlasson pits the Ten Commandments against the rest of God's law, citing the case of Christ's encounter of the rich young ruler as a strong proof.55 But one of the commandments Christ lists is not among the Ten Commandments: apostereisis, "defraud" or "withhold," is what Christ holds against the ruler. Is McGlasson even aware that his own appeals to Scripture actually dismantle his position?

Fourth, McGlasson excoriates the entire concept of homeschooling. In a society where homeschooling dominates, he sees disaster looming:

You may or may not consume contaminated beef; you may or may not get your prescribed medicine, a placebo, or a dangerous narcotic; and since your butcher and pharmacist are home-schooled in their field, the chances are high that mistakes will be made. ... Your surgeon will be home-schooled in the latest techniques of surgical procedure, or at best educated at church; ... Fathers and mothers will now train the next generation of particle physicists, microbiologists, literary critics, neurologists, brain surgeons, linguists, international diplomats, oceanographers, specialists in sustainable architecture, and wildlife managers.56

You might now appreciate how McGlasson handles other matters after reading the scorn he heaps upon the results of faithful homeschooling parenting and discipleship.57 In the paragraphs in which the above quotes were extracted, McGlasson also laments the loss of government regulation, never once mentioning that deregulation in Christian Reconstruction is always coupled to the abolition of limited liability laws. Statist regulation addresses the irresponsibility subsidized by such laws, which sever actions from their consequences in the business world. The reaffirmation of full liability incentivizes maximum responsible conduct among men. But McGlasson esteems such marvelous things in God's law to be a strange thing (Hos. 8:12). Small wonder that the abolition of poverty (Deut. 15:4) in God's way remains beyond McGlasson's grasp: he expects the state to solve the problem, and cites Psalm 72 as proof (!).58

For this reason, it is McGlasson's views that lead to a large state apparatus, not the views of those Christian Reconstructionists whose views he unaccountably misrepresents.59 The massive growth in civil government that McGlasson predicts under God's law flies in the face of the strict financial limitations Scripture places on state taxation (see the first of two essays by Dr. Robert Fugate appearing in this issue of Faith for All of Life). A warped and partial understanding of Reconstruction necessarily leads to a warped assessment of it. This accounts for his bizarre claims about Christian Reconstruction being focused on the past and not the future,60 when anyone familiar with Rushdoony knows his strong published opposition to a past-oriented approach and his promotion of a future orientation in all things.

In short, McGlasson's take on the matters with which he deals with fall little, if anything, short of a series of theological hit-and-runs that propagate a false understanding of the positions with which he interacts. This is most evident in the case of Van Til and Rushdoony, but his later treatment of Francis Schaeffer, Gary North, and Gary DeMar aren't too far behind in these regards. While I could easily write ten times as much by way of analysis and refutation of McGlasson's claims, we need to move on.

Chapter 3: Cultural Christianity

The reader has grasped the weaknesses of McGlasson's attempted rebuttal of Christian Reconstruction as touched on briefly above. It is actually easier from this point forward to discuss what McGlasson gets right in the subsequent chapters, rather than where he errs (by misrepresentation, or faulty exegesis of the Biblical texts). In regard to Francis Schaeffer, McGlasson makes a good point that if Schaeffer is calling for civil disobedience at some threshold level of oppression, he should at least define what that point is, rather than leave the matter open and (admittedly) vague. We can certainly agree with McGlasson here. In this, McGlasson was paying attention and drawing a reasonable conclusion.

Where McGlasson and Schaeffer fail to see eye-to-eye is when Schaeffer apparently treats the United States as a totalitarian regime. McGlasson sees the U.S. government as sufficiently benign (or beyond the legitimate scope of Christian critique a lá Schaeffer) that he and Schaeffer end up talking past each other. This diversity of view provides some background as to why Schaeffer and McGlasson end up so far apart. In fact, the seventh chapter of McGlasson's book (in which he responds to Schaeffer) is all over the map theologically. It appears he hasn't been able to pin down his precise target either. The best McGlasson can do is condemn Christian violence, doing so in a context that looks estranged from Schaeffer's views (and thus serving as a straw man once again).

Chapter 4: Christian Political Domination

There is at least one point that McGlasson makes in dealing with Gary North and Gary DeMar's book that isn't difficult to agree with: that the book's claim that nobody understood the doctrine of the covenant until 1985 is "astoundingly bold" and even "arrogant."61 I tend to agree. Unguarded statements like this do populate the writings of Gary North. So, McGlasson is paying attention, at least at this point.

But note the bold subhead above: the word domination is there, not the word dominion. Again, this is a distinction that McGlasson needs to make but does not. Things go downhill from here, and I suspect that in this case (where the two authors are among the living, unlike the other three targets McGlasson has chosen to analyze), we might expect North and DeMar to charitably point out the deficiencies in McGlasson's brief critique. (Such a response could fill a book; if Greg Bahnsen were still alive, it would fill two.)

As is the case with the other writers with whom he interacts, McGlasson appears to be unaware that many of the views he pits against those writers are actually held and promoted by those same writers, especially as they involve the question of the advance of the Gospel across all cultural boundaries and barriers. McGlasson thinks his targets are unmindful of this or that text, citing the scriptures in question, but in many cases those texts are well-known calling cards for Reconstructionists. Ignorance of reconstructionism's distinctives (despite having critiqued these four books) has led to this persistent anomaly throughout this book.

In other words, the debilitating weaknesses of McGlasson's workmanship cry out for full debate with Reconstructionists rather than the wholesale rejection he prematurely advocates. We could then learn why McGlasson quotes Matthew 5:18 and 5:20 but inserts an ellipsis for verse 19: "Therefore, whosoever shall loosen even the least of these commandments and teach men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Since McGlasson claims that Jesus alone is competent to speak concerning the law, surely this profound comment of our Lord's shouldn't be edited out and left on the cutting room floor.

We could then move, point by point, page by page, to set the record straight. I believe that Rev. Paul McGlasson, and the men who endorsed this new book of his, owe that much to his potential audience: to replace a false flag with a true one, and not put his fellow Christians in a janitor's closet.

Is this not what the living Christ would command: that we speak the truth one to another?

1. R. C. Sproul, Renewing Your Mind: Basic Christian Beliefs You Need to Know (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998) 3rd edition, 78. Dr. Sproul reveals the professor being targeted to be Paul McGlasson in the associated endnote found on page 214.

2. Paul C. McGlasson, Another Gospel: A Confrontation with Liberation Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994), 81.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid., 82.

5. Paul C. McGlasson, Canon and Proclamation: Sermons For Our Times (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 90.

6. McGlasson, Another Gospel, 56f., in which the author finds it "utterly dismaying" that so many theologians "could so openly mishandle the text of Holy Scripture."

7. Paul C. McGlasson, Invitation to Dogmatic Theology: A Canonical Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 170.

8. William S. Barker & W. Robert Godfrey, ed., Theonomy: A Reformed Critique (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1990).

9. Gary North, ed., Theonomy: An Informed Response (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991). See also Greg Bahnsen, No Other Standard: Theonomy and its Critics (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1991).

10. If only because various formal and informal logical fallacies and abortive appeals to consensus or dubious "tenor of scripture" arguments were too easily rebutted, as participants to such dialogues came to learn. As a result, imprecision in expressing ideas became its own penalty, and the general level of discourse tended to slowly improve as a result of such intramural exchanges. The tendency for theonomists and Christian Reconstructionists to continually redirect the focus back onto the Scriptures has already served a beneficial purpose, apart from any other consideration of the merits of such convictions.

11. Paul C. McGlasson, NO! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012). The word "NO!" stands in letters 2-1/4" tall on the front cover.

12. Ibid., 6. McGlasson asserts the same on page 3: "I will offer a serious theological critique of this set of ideas."

13. Ibid., 3.

14. Ibid., 3-4.

15. McGlasson assures us that his representations are taken, "not from critics of the movement, but from the sources themselves" (Ibid., 70). As we shall see, he might have done better to use inferior secondhand sources given the unaccountable mutilation the primary sources suffer at his hands.

16. Ibid., 70. McGlasson is not "convinced that theological debate would be the faithful response."

17. Some readers might have expected such issues in the opening sentence written by McGlasson in the book (page ix), which credits Rodney Clapp as the volume's editor. To the extent this critique is sound, Clapp would need to join the author and his endorsers in sharing responsibility for the false flag being flown.

18. Ibid., 2. McGlasson asserts this on the grounds that an August 2011 prayer rally, which Gov. Perry attended, was organized by the New Apostolic Reformation, which he believes "is in fact a branch of Christian Reconstructionism."

19. Ibid., 2, referring to Gaither's book, Homeschool: An American History, which states that Rushdoony's influence in this arena has been "direct and powerful."

20. It wasn't until the last half decade that such dubious missteps were starting to be noticed and openly corrected by the secular critics of Christian Reconstruction. The Christian observers appear to be far behind the secularists in revising erroneous ideas such as these.

21. Ibid., 7. McGlasson follows his mentor, Brevard S. Childs, in this regard.

22. Ibid., 13. McGlasson cites Joseph Butler's 1736 treatise in favor of his approach, leading to the Scottish Rationalism later inherited by Warfield in his conduct of apologetics at Princeton.

23. E. R. Geehan, ed., Jerusalem and Athens: Critical Discussions on the Philosophy and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1971).

24. Greg Bahnsen, Van Til's Apologetic: Readings and Analysis (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 1998).

25. Gary North, ed., Foundations of Christian Scholarship: Essays in the Van Til Perspective (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1976, 2001).

26. D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 120.

27. McGlasson, NO!, 15-16, 24.

28. Ibid., 114.

29. Ibid., 62, 80-82.

30. Ibid., 20, 73.

31. Ibid., 67.

32. Ibid., 112.

33. John E. Meeter, ed., Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, Volume 1 (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1970), 116-129, in an essay entitled "Hosea 6:7: Man or Adam?" first published in 1903.

34. A serious problem is that McGlasson's "canonical approach" puts special store by the concept of church consensus over the centuries, so readers encountering his claims in the context of his approach will easily draw faulty conclusions (namely, that McGlasson is presenting the data correctly, without omitting any important details).

35. Paul McGlasson, Invitation to Dogmatic Theology: A Canonical Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006), 260-262.

36. Paul McGlasson, NO!, 77.

37. Paul McGlasson, God the Redeemer: A Theology of the Gospel (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), 93: "There is no neutral humanity ... our relationship to God cannot be somehow neutral."

38. Ibid., 94: "Indeed, there is no true life apart from this relationship [with God]. To be sure, there is some manner of existence, of eating and drinking, of work and sleep, of birth and death. However, in the gospel of the Kingdom God determines that existence in the old world of human sinning has no meaning and purpose, and therefore has no future. The first aspect of divine judgment is therefore a resounding "No!" to the possibility of true life in the old world, the world of revolt against God." He goes even further on page 96: "God condemns the world of human sinning because he judges life in the power of sin not worth living ... life in the new world of God is the only life in which human beings can experience the fulfillment of their being. ... We are certainly in no position to assess the possibilities of life in revolt against God with any measure of truth."

39. McGlasson, NO!, 79.

40. Ibid., 79-80.

41. Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, A Commentary Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), Vol. 3, Part 3, p. 437.

42. John B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians (London & Cambridge: MacMillan and Sons, 1868), 160.

43. W. Robertson Nicoll, The Expositor's Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1983 reprint), Vol. 3, 468. Also Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, n.d.), Vol. 8, p. 87, F.C. Cook, ed., The Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981 reprint of the 1871-1881 Charles Scribners original 10-volume publication), Vol. 9, pp. 635-636.

44. Heinrich Augustus Wilhelm Meyer, Meyer's Commentary on the New Testament (Winona Lake, IL: Alpha Publications, 1979 reprint of 1883 T & T Clark edition), Vol. 8, p. 170. Meyer adds a technical note on page 173: "It is to be noticed that the predicates in verse 8 do not denote different individual virtues, but that each represents the Christian moral character generally, so that in reality the same thing is described, but according to the various aspects that commended it.... That it is Christian morality which Paul has in view, is clearly evident from ver. 9 and from the whole preceding context. Hence the passage cannot avail for placing the morality of the moral law of nature (Rom. 2:14f.) on an equality with the gospel field of duty..."

45. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, and to the Philippians (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1937), 883.

46. Ibid., 883-884.

47. McGlasson, NO!, 82.

48. Bahnsen, op. cit., 42, 68, 494, 571, 713, 731-32.

49. McGlasson, NO!, 97.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid., 42.

52. Ibid., 32. McGlasson elsewhere acknowledges the "divine origin" of the entire Mosaic law (p. 90), but since that contradicts what he elsewhere asserts, this is probably an editorial error.

53. Ibid., 86.

54. R. J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), Vol. 1, pp. 71-74; 111-113; 115-118.

55. McGlasson, NO!, 89.

56. Ibid., 84, then 83 at second ellipsis.

57. It is somewhat jarring, then, to read elsewhere in NO! that various "worldly ideas of status, rank, and privilege are totally foreign to God's new world" (p. 122). They're not very foreign to McGlasson's critique of homeschooling, however.

58. Ibid., 131-32. This is, of course, a Messianic psalm, but McGlasson applies it to Solomon and implies that Solomon delivers the poor from poverty by (presumably) wealth transfer-not from his own treasure trove, but by taxing Israelites to do so. As Henstenberg's commentary points out, the deliverance involves judicial matters and the restoration of the original goods to the poor man that were misappropriated by theft.

59. Ibid., 68-69.

60. Ibid., 124. McGlasson "exegetes" the term "reconstruction" to arrive at this incongruous conclusion. This is what D. A. Carson would call a word study fallacy.

61. Ibid., 65.

Martin G. Selbrede
  • Martin G. Selbrede

Martin is the senior researcher for Chalcedon’s ongoing work of Christian scholarship, along with being the senior editor for Chalcedon’s publications, Arise & Build and The Chalcedon Report. He is considered a foremost expert in the thinking of R.J. Rushdoony. A sought-after speaker, Martin travels extensively and lectures on behalf of Christian Reconstruction and the Chalcedon Foundation. He is also an accomplished musician and composer.

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