- Publisher: Reformation Trust Publishing (August 31, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1567691196
- Westminster Books
- Reformation Trust
Many thanks to Reformation Trust for the opportunity to review Dual Citizens: Worship and Life Between the Already and the Not Yet by Jason J. Stellman. The book is divided into two parts: 1. Christian Worship for Dual Citizens. 2. Christian Life for Dual Citizens.
In developing his thesis, Mr. Stellman argues for both theocratic and non-theocratic contexts and how both relate to God’s people through redemptive history: “when God’s people are a holy theocracy (and only then), they are commanded to withdraw from pagan religion and pagan culture, but when they are exiles and pilgrims, they are called to separate themselves only religiously, not culturally” (p. xxiv). So a theocratic context would be Eden or the Promised Land, and a non-theocratic would be exile in Babylon—therefore a Jeremiah 29:4-7 should read with this distinction in mind (p. xxiii).
But things are framed somewhat differently for the New Covenant church: “We are, like the patriarchs, religiously particular but culturally indistinct. For the new covenant church, cult is distinct from culture, church is distinct from world, and the sacred is distinct from the secular” (p. xxvi). So why should believers pay their taxes? “The answer is that in a non-theocratic context such as our own, culture has its own legitimacy apart from cult” (Ibid).
But it is Mr. Stellman’s insistence to regard Sunday as the New Sabbath that I find most objectionable: “There was a time in the American church when most people not only discussed, but also observed, the Christian Sabbath. Those days are long passed” (p. 51). Mr. Stellman then turns to the Presbyterian Church’s 1819 General Assembly resolution and the Old Testament to buttress his argument for observance of the Fourth Commandment under the New Covenant, in the life of the church.
In Part Two of Dual Citizens, Mr. Stellman reminds us that The War Is Over! though we continue to encounter conflicts of different kinds. He then goes on to prove his thesis of the victory that is already ours by a consideration of Revelation 12:1-6, where he identifies the Woman as “true Israel in her pre-Messiah agony of expectation”, the Dragon as Satan, and the Male Child as Jesus Christ. Dependent on Robert H. Mounce’s commentary on Revelation, the 1260 days represent the church’s ongoing experience of suffering and safety (pp. 91-100).
In a chapter titled “Bridging the Gap: The Cross, the Spirit, and the Glory to Come,” Mr. Stellman objects to Martin Luther’s famous “Theology of the Cross vs. Theology of Glory.”
To insist that the cross and glory are antithetical is, from the perspective of the New Testament, difficult to maintain. If Christ’s statement in John 12:23–24 about His glorification resulting from His death has any bearing on this theme, it must be admitted that there is an organic connection between suffering and exaltation to which those who press Luther’s paradigm too far have failed to do justice. In fact, the cross and glory are not enemies at all, but friends; the latter is the natural outgrowth of the former. (pp. 138-39, emphasis added)
For those who are interested in a Reformed perspective on Worship and Life Between the Already and Not Yet, Mr. Stellman’s Dual Citizen’s remains a good choice.