The offensiveness of Nobles Oblige

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dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Hi. I have been a member here on the Puritan Forum for about 12 years now. I have been a Presbyterian for about 25 years and have thoroughly benefited from the theology of my adopted tradition. I was raised in an Assemblies of God church, the kind that puts an inordinate emphasis on charismatic manifestations and preaches a dispensationalist eschatology. Some of the abberations of that otherwise orthodox church were the reason I had a rebellion in the first place, and I am glad to have found a home in the reformed tradition. I have gradually come to realize, however, that by espousing the reformed tradition I have espoused the tradition and culture of the old ruling class. I am not preaching that it is a crime to be educated, North European and professional, but... I have encountered resentment to this denomination's old role as the ones in power, the class that called the shots and had all the benefits of schools and a network of coreligionists to help them secure safe and comfortable positions in society. Many of my baptist and lutherin friends are content to just poke a little fun at me for being a doctrine snob, but among working class Catholics I have have been subjected to some cold looks and stiff behavior. I think that some of our efforts at goodwill towards other traditions smack a bit of Nobles Oblige, which to other traditions comes across as offensive. I mean, we mean well, but our unspoken attitude of "ours is best, let us help you" grates on the nerves of other Christians who also have some good things to say and point to about their denominations contributions to society. We have good things to say, excellent things. But let's examine ourselves. Perhaps we need to back off a bit from singing lead and acknowledge that we are supposed to sing harmony with our family.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
My take is a bit different. As someone who aspires to be an aristocrat, I endorse Nobles Oblige. On the other hand, I am well aware of the corruption in power. I've suffered from it. I went hungry some nights as a result. That doesn't negate the superiority of aristocracy, though.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The lowliest among us, the children of God, are given the very spirit of the royal family of heaven, the true aristocratic heart seen in the Person and bearing of the Lord Jesus. The lowliest street cleaner or washer-woman has the Spirit of the King in him or her, full of gentleness, meekness, compassion, zeal for justice and righteousness — and possessed of an adoration and worship of the triune Glory.

The aristocracies of earth are tawdry affectations compared to heaven's.

Daniel, I suppose it depends on every individual's heart and way. There are wonderful characters in God's children regardless of denomination. Even the well-educated and learned may be humble, approachable, and deep-hearted. One should ourselves seek to model those godly characteristics we see lacking around us. As Paul says, "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies" (1 Cor 8:1).
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Eh.. What?

For starters I had to guess at what you were talking about. If all you are saying is we shouldn't look down on the least of the brothers, then I can't imagine anyone who would disagree with that.

You mentioned the tradition and culture of the old ruling class, but you neither define that nor give examples, so we are just left to guess. Even though I am an aristocrat, I generally dislike "Good Ole Boy" Presbyterianism and I have been hurt by it big time. That didn't ruin aristocracy for me, though.

In any case, the Shorter Catechism mentions our duties towards inferiors, superiors, and equals. One of the duties that superiors owe to their inferiors is Noblesse Oblige.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Don't you see? Good ole' boy presbyterianism is not the necessary alternative to Nobles Oblige. You don't have to check your education or intellectual capacity at the door in order to address someone as a peer, and that's what we are in Christ, peers. In fact, peer is to weak a term for what we are. We are family. The only head we have is Christ himself, the rest of us are subordinate members of the body who are to think of each other as having equal worth. You are right in that I did not offer any specific examples of Reformed snobbery to substantiate my argument. Do I need to? This is our common culture, you know we as a denomination take pride in having a well thought out and scripturely underpinned theology. Is it so hard to believe that this has become an idol to us? It is an inescapable propensity of even regenerate souls to idolize their strengths individually or corporately, we are warned of this many times in the bible. Take some time to examine yourself. Are you using your strengths to build up the body? Has the whole notion of condescending to the less intellectually endowed become so tiresome to you that you are unwilling to use any technique other than sarcasm to make your arguments? You obviously have much to offer by virtue of your standing, but do you have the servants heart?
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I have been a member here on the Puritan Forum for about 12 years now.
And are showing 65 posts at the moment.

Many of my baptist and lutherin friends are content to just poke a little fun at me for being a doctrine snob, but among working class Catholics I have have been subjected to some cold looks and stiff behavior.
Are you equating Popery and Popery light with the sound truths of the Reformed tradition? Are you well down the path of saying that doctrine doesn't matter?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
You are right in that I did not offer any specific examples of Reformed snobbery to substantiate my argument. Do I need to?

Maybe. No one on this thread has the slightest clue what you are talking about.
The only head we have is Christ himself, the rest of us are subordinate members of the body who are to think of each other as having equal worth.

You are moving the goal posts. We all have equal worth, but some have superior positions in society. No one is saying one is "more in Christ" than the other.
It is an inescapable propensity of even regenerate souls to idolize their strengths individually or corporately, we are warned of this many times in the bible.

Not sure of anyone who ever denied this.
but do you have the servants heart?

Yes.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not denigrating the worth of reformed theology. As my post clearly states I celebrate it. But good doctrine does not elevate my status in God's kingdom above those who are wrong on even many points but are still believers. God tolerates even egregious errors in our doctrine if we believe fully in the sinless divine sonship of Christ, his atoning sacrifice at the cross and his resurrection from the dead. I for one will not talk down to a brother who disagrees with me on a non-essential. To do so is to deny the doctrine of Grace, the most essential doctrine of all.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I am not denigrating the worth of reformed theology. As my post clearly states I celebrate it. But good doctrine does not elevate my status in God's kingdom above those who are wrong on even many points but are still believers. God tolerates even egregious errors in our doctrine if we believe fully in the sinless divine sonship of Christ, his atoning sacrifice at the cross and his resurrection from the dead. I for one will not talk down to a brother who disagrees with me on a non-essential. To do so is to deny the doctrine of Grace, the most essential doctrine of all.

Again, I am confused. I'm not aware of anyone here doing that. But maybe you are just making a general observation. It wasn't clear if you were.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I for one will not talk down to a brother who disagrees with me on a non-essential.
Perhaps, but Daniel, it sounds like you are "talking down" to people who you say share your doctrine. I point out that much of your postings on this thread comes across as accusatory. Steady....
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Again, I am confused. I'm not aware of anyone here doing that. But maybe you are just making a general observation. It wasn't clear if you were.
Sorry brother. I should have made clear that I was addressing Edwards concerns that I was denying the illegitimacy of the doctrine of Popery, which I do. The position I was taking was that acknowledging the pope as your ecclesiastical head does not preclude you from being in a saving faith.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Perhaps, but Daniel, it sounds like you are "talking down" to people who you say share your doctrine. I point out that much of your postings on this thread comes across as accusatory. Steady....
OK. My apologies to all who think that I am accusing anyone here in particular of doctrinal idolatry. To take pride in well constructed confessional statements is no sin. The Westminster confessions, among others that came out of the period of the reformation, were glorious and God honoring answers to the gross abuses of the Roman Church. But, but I am only trying to point out that the grace of God is so pervasive that it reaches even those souls who are in relatively deficient confessions and we need to refrain from lording our own overtly superior confessions over them. These are not deficient Christians, only a little confused. Maybe that is the position of this board, but I am speaking to the attitudes I have seen in the churches.
 

Ethan

Puritan Board Freshman
These are not deficient Christians, only a little confused.
Not understanding basic tenets of the faith seems like a fairly good reason to believe one is deficient. I'd venture to say I was incredibly deficient in my early walk and still am, as we all are in some ways. However, as I've grown in understanding I have not become more justified before God. An example: If one sees the old testament as a compilation of moralistic stories then I'd have to say they're terribly deficient Christians as their missing out on a wealth of knowledge about God and it would be my duty as a brother to try and lead them out of that and show them the overarching story of redemption. That doesn't necessitate condescending behavior on my part.
 

Ethan

Puritan Board Freshman
I would also add that as one of the least informed, newer members of the board I appreciate everyone taking the time to engage with me when I do post. It is very helpful.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Not understanding basic tenets of the faith seems like a fairly good reason to believe one is deficient. I'd venture to say I was incredibly deficient in my early walk and still am, as we all are in some ways. However, as I've grown in understanding I have not become more justified before God. An example: If one sees the old testament as a compilation of moralistic stories then I'd have to say they're terribly deficient Christians as their missing out on a wealth of knowledge about God and it would be my duty as a brother to try and lead them out of that and show them the overarching story of redemption. That doesn't necessitate condescending behavior on my part.
I don't think there is any such thing as a deficient christian. Every believer is predestined for an eternity in glory in the presence of God and the heavenly host. If you do not understand the basic tenets of the faith then you are not a Christian, but please, it is critical that you limit the basic tenets of the faith to that which they truly are, the full divinity of Jesus, his sinless life, his atoning death at the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. If you have that, then you are elect. I do not mean by this assertion to minimize the incredibly salutary effects of study of the complete word of God. When you are reading the word of God you are studying God himself and taking on his attributes thereby. I know that everyone here believes that. GLORY! But, let's have some compassion and patience for those who don't have the benefit of a complete grip on all the doctrines contained therein. You are absolutely right, let us not condescend when we presume to correct and instruct.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe I need to rethink my attitudes towards Nobles Oblige. James seems to teach that Nobles Oblige on material matters is a good thing, even a commandment. Let's just make a distinction in Nobles Oblige in material matters, which on reflection appears to be obligatory, and taking the attitude of a superior in spiritual matters, which we are not to do. Maybe that's what BayouHuegonot was saying, and I just wasn't following.
 

Ethan

Puritan Board Freshman
the full divinity of Jesus, his sinless life, his atoning death at the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. If you have that, then you are elect.
If you believe all of this you may still have a low view of the body of Christ and neglect the meeting together of believers as some do (Heb. 10:25). To me that would seem like a glaring deficiency but not necessarily a guarantee that one isn't saved.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
If you believe all of this you may still have a low view of the body of Christ and neglect the meeting together of believers as some do (Heb. 10:25). To me that would seem like a glaring deficiency but not necessarily a guarantee that one isn't saved.
For by grace you are saved through faith. Faith is sufficient. Neglecting the table and the assembly is hurtful, but it does not lead to deficiency in your standing with God. Your behavior may be deficient, but not your standing. That was settled before the foundation of the world and is irrevocable.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
Just because somebody is elect, called, justified, etc., does not mean that their theological deficiencies are not true deficiencies, or that those deficiencies ought not be addressed. This is a false dichotomy. Furthermore, spurring others on to better doctrine (i.e., love and good works) is not "lording one's confession over" another.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Just because somebody is elect, called, justified, etc., does not mean that their theological deficiencies are not true deficiencies, or that those deficiencies ought not be addressed. This is a false dichotomy. Furthermore, spurring others on to better doctrine (i.e., love and good works) is not "lording one's confession over" another.
Theologically deficient yes. Behaviorally deficient yes. Deficiency in standing, no. And I think we are in agreement on this point. I repeat, I am not accusing you or anyone here of prideful attitudes when disputing with a non-reformed believer. But I have seen it, and I venture to say you have seen it too. It is a great evil, because it co-mingles idolatry of doctrine with the message of salvation. On a certain level, it is as bad as the idolatries of Rome.
 

dnlcnwy

Puritan Board Freshman
Does it really matter what the serfs and peasants think? They are fortunate that we deign to better their theology and worship.
I know you are just being funny SolaScriptura, but lets have a care for sensitivities. I suspect that BayouHuguenot has a title and an attendant upbringing and education that makes his interaction here a little more formal than the laity are accustomed to. Hence his disparaging comments about good ole' boy presbyterianism. It didn't help that I opened the thread with a denigrating comment about noblesse oblige. a responsibility that he no doubt considers honorable and obligatory to his class. Referring to those of a less privileged background as serfs and peasants probably stings a bit more to him than you intend. I have already backed off of my position on the material aid to the less endowed as offensive. Lets just be glad he is here instead of on the Anglican board.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I suspect that BayouHuguenot has a title and an attendant upbringing and education that makes his interaction here a little more formal than the laity are accustomed to.

I had a middle class upbringing. Both parents worked insanely hard. I am a school teacher. While I aspire to be a landed gentleman, it's not happening any time soon.
 
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