Why Theonomy Is Biblically-Theologically Wrong

I am going to post a few things on why I think theonomy does not do justice to the biblical theology of Scripture. Included will be several exegetical posts on various passages as well as more general biblical-theological directions.

First, let’s be clear about our terms. Theonomy may be defined as a theological viewpoint which sees the Old Testament civil laws as applicable in today’s government. It is NOT a viewpoint which sees the Old Testament ceremonial laws or the sacrificial system as still in force. This is often confused in people’s minds. The word itself comes from two Greek words: theos, which means “God,” and nomos, which means “law.” Theonomists utterly oppose any attempt for man to make up law for himself. As such, it is opposed to autonomy (self-law). It is also opposed to the two kingdoms approach of many Reformed folk today.

Now, I have to lay down a qualification first. The qualification is that I do agree with theonomists on many points. For instance, I do not believe that the general structure of human law should be autonomous. I believe that God has given the moral law in nature, not only in Scripture. This is proven in Scripture in Romans 2:12-16. Now, it is important to exegete this passage properly. The phrase “without the law” does not mean “destitute of law” but rather it means that the Gentiles did not have the law delivered to them on Sinai. Verse 14 clarifies what Paul means: Gentiles have a law unto themselves. This does NOT mean autonomy, but rather the moral law written on their hearts, as verse 15 explicitly says. The Westminster Confession of Faith gets at this when it says that the moral law was given to Adam as a covenant of works. If it was given to Adam, then it was given to all humanity. This is the concept of natural law. It is plain, then, that if a Gentile nation, having not the law as delivered on Sinai, yet rules itself according to many of the same principles as the Ten Commandments, then we can be sure that they are governing themselves according to the moral law as imprinted on the human heart, or natural law.

With that qualification out of the way, we can now look at the trajectory of biblical-theological development from Old Testament to New Testament, and we may come to this very important conclusion: the trajectory of Old Testament Israel does not direct us to modern day governments, but to the church. Now, presumably, many theonomists would claim that the trajectory goes from Old Testament Israel to the church and to modern-day government, whereas critics would say that modern-day governments are not included. Let’s look at a few passages to test this.

First up is the Gospel of Matthew. The Gospel of Matthew is rather clear (at least most scholars today have noted this feature) that Jesus relives Israel’s story. As Israel went down to Egypt, so Jesus went down to Egypt. As Israel was brought out of Egypt, so Jesus was called out of Egypt (see Matthew 2:15, quoting Hosea 11:1. Now the context of Hosea makes it quite clear that God is speaking about Israel. And yet Matthew uses the verse to refer to Jesus. How can this be on any other theory than that Jesus is the new Israel? Furthermore, as Israel was tempted 40 years in the wilderness, so Jesus was tempted 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4). As Israel came into the Promised Land led by Joshua (the Old Testament form of the name Jesus), so also Jesus leads the church into the new heavens and the new earth. In other words, Jesus is the way in which anyone has to be part of Israel. It is not outside of Jesus, but inside Jesus that we are now the faithful children of Abraham (as Galatians 3:9 makes clear).

Second up is Galatians 6:16. Now, much ink has been spilled over the question of how the word “and” is to be interpreted. If the word means “in addition to,” then the passage supports dispensationalism, as the Israel of God is a separate group from the “them” earlier in the verse. However, the word here almost certainly is epexegetical, which would be translated like this: “them, that is, upon the Israel of God.” In other words, on this interpretation, the Israel of God is the same group as the “them” earlier in the verse. Given the added testimony of 3:7 and 3:29, as well as the way in which he has been speaking about the “Jerusalem above” in 4:26-27, it seems clear that Paul does not have two groups in mind, but rather one. The people of faith are the true children of Abraham.

In other words, Jesus Christ is the apex of the trajectory of Old Testament Israel, and the church is in Christ. Therefore, it does not make sense to say that modern-day governments should run themselves according to principles that were given to Old Testament Israel as Old Testament Israel. Now, the theonomist will probably reply that the civil law of Old Testament Israel is of a piece with and is the outworking of the moral law given in the Ten Commandments. True, it is. But it is an outworking of the Ten Commandments for a particular place and people. The same principles apply in different ways in the church today. After all, as the result of the biblical-theological argumentation provided above, the principles of Old Testament Israel’s civil law ought to apply to the church today (by the arguments of theonomy) just as much as to the government. And I would agree, as long as we are talking about general equity. And yet the principles in the New Testament for church government say nothing of the sword. Instead, the weapons are spiritual, for we fight not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual enemies. Ephesians 6, by the way, is one reason why I believe the application of Old Testament Israel’s holy wars draws a straight line to spiritual warfare today in the church.

Lastly, there is nothing in Romans 13 that cannot be explained on the basis of natural law as explained above. The civil magistrate is there to punish evil. He is ordained by God to do that. The moral law has been implanted on his heart. Therefore, he should be a terror to those who do evil. However, it is not the civil magistrate’s job to execute a boy for cursing his parents (as was true in the Old Testament civil laws). It is the church’s job to instruct and to exercise church discipline. Nowhere in the New Testament does any writer say that the civil government is to rule itself according to Old Testament Israel’s civil law. Rather, every time the civil government is mentioned, it is in connection to the natural moral law.

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816 Comments

  1. March 29, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    [...] Theonomy is Biblical-Theologically Wrong At the GB. __________________ Rev. Lane Keister Teaching Elder, PCA, North Dakota (working out of bounds in [...]

  2. Hermonta Godwin said,

    March 29, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    To properly attack Theonomy, one has to make some sort of defense of the clarity of natural law. In this post, the claim is made that it is not the civil magistrate’s job to execute a rebellious son. At this point, one needs to go to natural law and say what is supposed to happen to said son, or one needs to go to natural law and justify that such is not considered evil and therefore the civil magistrate is not supposed to do anything.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    A couple of thoughts, Hermonta. First of all, I am not claiming that a son cursing his parents is not evil, as your statement seems to imply. It is a clear violation of the fifth commandment. But is such a violation the province of the church or the state today? I would argue that it is the province of the church. Naturally, it would take a great deal more argumentation to prove that. Nevertheless, the burden of proof would not be nearly as great as you seem to think it is.

  4. March 29, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    You have my attention, Lane. I’ll be back.

  5. Andrew said,

    March 29, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Lane,

    No one can fault your enthusiasm for controversy! Fv, paedocommunion, theonomy, all at the same time! (No one should unhelpfully construct physcological connections bettween the three). Somethings that might be helpful to clarify:

    – Your arguement centres on Christ. Do you deny his mediatorial rule and ownership of the nations, i.e. is do you say he is king of church only? If not, then the fact that he is new New Isreal doesn’t seem very relevant.

    – no theonmist will deny that the church is NT Isreal (and would see the fullfillment of ceremonial law, including holy war in it). But that does not show that it was not also a political nation with just (and therefore binding) laws.

    – no theonmist denies that the civil law was a practical application of God’s law to a particular situation. The challenge is to see the general equity and apply it to a different situation. But this is something a) all case law legal systems do, and b) something we all do in our exegesis – otherwise no command of God could ever be applied since it is always given to a certain person or persons at a certain time, or a certain place.

    The best tactic, I think, is to admit that the theonomist case is pretty strong, and to admit that clear parts (e.g. restitution for theft) should be applied. I think that many of parts we struggle with (blasphemy laws, etc) can be argued to be ceremonial or specifically referenced to Isreal’s special covenanted status. I.e blasphemy was not just blasphemy, but treason. And while in the NT we can have a covenanted christian nation (e.g. Britain in 17th centuary), I am not sure that God promises the same level of physical blessing and protection. Therefore he may not require the same level or corporate holiness.

    Anyway just passing thoughts, as I regard the paedocommunion discussion as more relevant and important.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    March 29, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Andrew, thanks for your thoughts. The reason I like debate and controversy is that it stimulates people to comment and think (hopefully). The result is iron sharpening iron.

    On Christ, He is obviously king of the universe. However, not every knee bows to Christ. Furthermore, He said that His kingdom was not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom now, and will be a spiritual/physical kingdom in the eschaton.

    My point about the church being NT Israel is that it seems strange that OT laws would not be applied to the church and would be applied to the state.

    The moral law was not given just at one time and in a particular place. It was given to Adam in the Garden, and is thus a creation ordinance, not culturally bound to any time and place.

    Your second to last paragraph I can resonate with fairly well. I am certainly not as against theonomy as many are.

  7. Andrew said,

    March 29, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    All very well, Lane, except that you don’t really belive it is the church’s job either! Discipline leads to excommunication, which is presumably the equivelent to execution. But since you probably wouldn’t commune the youth in the first place, you don’t have any sanction agianst him! Or would you ‘excommunicate’ someone already not allowed to take communion. So there we have it – a new arguement for paedocommunion! It is either paedocommunnion or theonomy. Take your choice, folks.

    Apologies, not really relevant to this thread, but couldn’t resist it!

  8. Paul M. said,

    March 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    @ Anderw,

    And all without a proper exegesis of the relevant text! Typical of PC.

    Anyway, the relevant text about executing a rebellious son could not be taken to mean executing a “toddler.” The executed son would be a professing Christian, older (hair in the right places), and so a communing member.

    Therefore, Lane could be perfectly consistent in applying that text to excommunication today.

    Your posts seems to imply that OT Israel executed toddlers! In fact, if excommunication replaces things like this, and we don’t execute toddlers, it might seem like a reversal was just pulled. :-)

    Credocommunnion or toddler-killing. Take your pick ;-)

  9. ReformedSinner said,

    March 29, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Without Greg Bahnsen at the helm theonomists seem to have lose steam in this matter. This debate can be fun, but really theonomists are just repeating most of Bahnsen’s arguments.

  10. CharlieJ said,

    March 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Lane,

    On what grounds would you say that it is not the civil government’s job to execute a rebellious child (young adult)? In Ancient Greece, a rebellious child could very well be banished or executed, as alluded to in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Many Eastern societies also strictly punished rebellion against ancestors. These were not Christian societies.

    I’m not arguing for theonomy, but your example didn’t make sense to me. Perhaps blasphemy would be a better example? But even there, Socrates was executed for supposedly leading the youth into atheism. How do you know what things fall outside the state’s jurisdiction?

  11. James Vandenberg said,

    March 29, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    There’s a non-sequitor up there. The post wraps up saying “there is nothing in Romans 13 that cannot be explained on the basis of natural law as explained above.” I don’t see any discussion of natural law anywhere. Our standards teach that the Civil Law has expired except for the general equity, yet that is not the same thing.

    Also, I’m not a theonomist, but I don’t find the BT-based argument convincing. You’re hanging a lot on a typological argument that “Jesus relives Israel’s story.” That may be true, yet I’m not that affects the theonomy argument one way or another.

  12. jpc said,

    March 29, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    Good question Charlie. Natural Revelation, a farce if not connected to the objective revelation of God’s word, is a wax nose. No doubt the examples you cited were learned by natural law.

  13. Tim Cunningham said,

    March 29, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Lane, you wrote: “First, let’s be clear about our terms. Theonomy may be defined as a theological viewpoint which sees the Old Testament civil laws as applicable in today’s government.”
    Actually, this way of stating the matter leaves a great equivocation in place that should be eliminated. If you are critiquing the CR/Bahnsen/Rushdoony view of Theonomy, your definition needs to be narrower as other non-CR viewpoints see OT civil laws as applicable in today’s government and the difference between these views is the differing grounds justifying and extent of the continuity. Bahnsen reduced his viewpoint to the axiom: In all of its minute detail, (every jot and tittle) the law of God down to its least significant provision should be reckoned to have an abiding validity- until and unless the Lawgiver reveals otherwise.” (Greg Bahnsen, “The Theonomic Position” in God and Politics, Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government ed. Gary Scott Smith, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. 1989, pp. 40, 41). This is in contrast with the WCF which mandates continuity only if the general equity of particular laws remains valid today.

    You also wrote: “With that qualification out of the way, we can now look at the trajectory of biblical-theological development from Old Testament to New Testament, and we may come to this very important conclusion: the trajectory of Old Testament Israel does not direct us to modern day governments, but to the church. Now, presumably, many theonomists would claim that the trajectory goes from Old Testament Israel to the church and to modern-day government, whereas critics would say that modern-day governments are not included.”

    Now I will agree that the direct trajectory goes from OT Israel directly to the church and modern day governments are not included in that trajectory anywhere in Scripture. I also proclaim that the civil law of Old Testament Israel is … an outworking of the Ten Commandments for a particular place and people. Yet, even though the Mosaic judicals were the decalogue applied to a particular place and people, they were also just laws. Sometimes the situations those laws addressed recur today. If the situation a Mosaic judicial addresses cannot be shown to be affected by the change in covenantal relationships between God and the nation state of Israel, one may if not must conclude that the general equity of that just law applied then will make it just if applied today.

    It is also important to recognize that contemporary democratic political theory now gives the final responsibility for laws to the ultimate magistrate – the voter. When we elect our lawmakers we must have a standard for judging candidates and the perforrmance of those we elect. The Westminster Divines were used of God to provide us with a standard (WCF 19:4 which is both biblical, and easy to apply so that Christians may responsibly discern which Mosaic judicials to apply today.

  14. Andrew said,

    March 30, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Paul,

    I presume you gather I am not altogether serious.

    Certainly the problem would be removed if we practiced ‘soft’ paedocommunion. But in Reformed circles it is quite possible that the rebellious son would not be receiving communion, e.g if he were 16.

  15. Paul M. said,

    March 30, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Andrew, that thought crossed my mind; but, with (some) theonomists and PCists, you never can tell for sure. So, I covered my bases with the use of smilies.

  16. Rob de Roos said,

    March 30, 2009 at 6:31 am

    Hello,
    First, I would also like say that I think one of the most devastating critiques of Theonomy is the exposition by Dr. Lane G. Tipton, entitled, “The Eschatology of Hebrews 2:1-4: A Critical Appraisal of the Theonomic Thesis”, which can be found at Kerux. Second, I think the biblical idea of natural law in conjunction with the Wisdom Literature is also particularly devastating to Theonomy. Third, it is also related to this second point that the creational emphasis in biblical theology, such as, The Temple and the Church’s Mission by GK Beale and From Eden to the New Jerusalem by T. Desmond Alexander, which highlight the redemptive historical link between original creation and consummation and thus the typological nature of OT covenant.

  17. March 30, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Why would the conjunction of “natural law” (which by definition must be given by God) and the “Wisdom Literature” be “particularly devastating” to Theonomy?

  18. Rob de Roos said,

    March 30, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Dear Benjamin,
    This is fair question. Since I did my Th.M. on the Wisdom Literature at WTS-Phila., I think I am in a position to answer this fairly well. First, since Walther Zimmerli’s famous article in 1936, it has become accepted within Wisdom Literature scholarship that the Wisdom Literature is to be identified in connection with creation theology. Raymond Van Leeuwen is a scholar in the Wisdom Literature who has explored the worldview of the book of Proverbs from the point of view of cosmology and boundaries that is namely this, that the boundaries of moral law are built into creation the simple untrained most be be instructed and motivated to embrace wisdom to live within the creational boundaries of righteousness and the covenant community. The relation of the Wisdom Literature to the rest of the OT becomes an issue of proper association and assessment. Whatever the proper relationship, the uniqueness of Israel’s covenant expressed in the Mosaic covenant does not supplant this creational or natural law. It must be seen in some sense as an addendum to it. Therefore, in some sense the Mosaic covenant must be seen as a specific redemptive historical administration that is relative to the ultimate redemptive historical goal, which is the consummation. I hope this makes sense.

  19. March 30, 2009 at 10:30 am

    [...] about church was more than clever. When the New Testament declares that we are Christ’s body, Why Theonomy Is Biblically-Theologically Wrong – greenbaggins.wordpress.com 03/29/2009 I am going to post a few things on why I think theonomy [...]

  20. Puritan Lad said,

    March 30, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Good post. I’m not sold on theonomy myself, though I have to confess that my rejection of it is more instinct than logical. A few questions though.

    1.) You wrote that “Nowhere in the New Testament does any writer say that the civil government is to rule itself according to Old Testament Israel’s civil law. Rather, every time the civil government is mentioned, it is in connection to the natural moral law.” How would you defend the idea that “Israel’s civil law” is distinct from “natural moral law”, since they both come from God. In other words, when God wrote the law on the hearts of the gentiles, was it not the same law as that which He gave Israel? To quote Bahnsen, “What God has declared to be sinful in Israel wasn’t tolerated just over the state line”?

    2.) If the United States ever passed a law that require death for a person who cursed his parents, would a Christian be able to argue against such a law?

    I ride the theonomy train a long ways, but get off short of Bahnsen/Rushdoony.

  21. Todd said,

    March 30, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    “If the United States ever passed a law that require death for a person who cursed his parents, would a Christian be able to argue against such a law?”

    Yes, the same way we would argue against putting idolaters or Sabbath-breakers to death in the New Covenant. OT Israel was a theocracy; Canaan typified the new heavens and earth. Canaan did not typify the United States or Canada, nor did its laws.

    Todd

  22. March 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    [...] ‘Why Theonomy Is Biblically-Theologically Wrong’ Green Baggins [...]

  23. Puritan Lad said,

    March 30, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    Thanks Todd. But on what basis would you argue against the law itself? Just saying that “Canaan did not typify the United States or Canada” doesn’t mean that the law is wrong. Is there a biblical reason to deny the state the authority to make such laws? After all, they are “biblical”.

    These are the types of questions I wrestle with in dealing with Theonomy.

  24. Todd said,

    March 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Puritan Lad,

    I guess you have to ask yourself – do you want the government to put your wife to death if she cheats on you? Or, do you want U.S. citizens turning people in who work on Sunday afternoon so they may be punished or even executed, as happened at times under God’s ordinance for Israel? If intuitively it doesn’t sound appropriate – trust your instincts and ask yourself why it would not be proper in this age.

    Todd

  25. Puritan Lad said,

    March 30, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Todd,

    That’s the very issue I wrestle with. To answer your questions, I would say “no”. I would not want the government to have such laws. However, I’m sure that there were plenty of Israelites who felt the same way. While I don’t necessarily want theonomy, is that a valid argument against theonomy? Is my own sinful heart a valid standard for which we can argue against such laws? Thankfully, the civil government doesn’t always act according to what I like (though the country would look much different if it did.)

  26. Todd said,

    March 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Puritan Lad

    I appreciate your wrestling with these issues. The question is not – do God’s laws reflect his goodness or justice? In that general sense even the command for Israel to wipe out all the Canaanite men, women and children were just. But obviously not for us today in the new covenant. The key is to understand the purpose of Israel as a theocracy; that Canaan was a type. The civil or judicial laws given to Israel, as the Westminster Confession states (XIX:4), have expired because the theocracy of Israel has expired. If you understand the typological purpose of Israel in the history of redemption then you will not be tempted to see OT Israel’s laws as a blueprint for modern new covenant governments.

    Todd

  27. jpc said,

    March 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Puritan Lad,

    Have you read Bahsnen? I have a extra, brand spanking new copy of By This Standard if you’re interested. The “Israel as typological of heaven” argument was answered 20 years ago in this book. It’s amazing that latent antinomians continue to offer the same thread-bare arguments. Let me know if you are interested in it. I also have an extra copy of No Other Standard you can have too.

  28. Todd said,

    March 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Thank you jpc,

    I haven’t been called an antinomian in a few months – thought maybe I was going soft or something. But what’s this “latent” stuff? Ask my congregation – there’s not a latent bone in my body.

    Todd

  29. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 30, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Regardless of which side of the question you find yourself, don’t neglect actually reading the theonomic literature. There is a ton of it, and much of it is very stimulating reading, not all, but a good part. Ray Sutton on the covenant is especially insightful.

    One thing that many of the theonomic commentators admitted was the need for continuing discussion and exegesis. Many of the issues being brought up in this thread have been covered or at least addressed in some way- and Bahnsen/Rushdoony were not the only ones!!

  30. Zrim said,

    March 30, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I’ve been trying lately to cut down on my big, fat worm intake, but while the spirit is willing the flesh is oh, so weak: Keep that sort of baiting up, jpc, and you’ll be a fisher of men in record time.

  31. jpc said,

    March 30, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Todd,

    Latent Antinomianism is a term used by Bahnsen in BTS (pp.298-302). It’s a descriptive term, not merely a bad name to call one’s opponent.

  32. Rob de Roos said,

    March 30, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Dear Puritan Lad,
    I can only give you my take on natural law in relation to civil government. My take is that as long as one takes one view of natural law as a subspecie of general revelation, I think that natural law can then be properly seen in connection with common grace civil government. Israel’s moral law would have both continuity and discontinuity with this. In terms of special revelation, Israel’s law restates the moral core that is common with the moral principles in natural law. But also through special revelation, Israel receives “moral law” that is unique. This would be in part the ceremonial and civil law. For Israel these are moral law, but not necessarily the core of the moral law. These laws implement the economy of the gospel for that covenant administration and typify the eschaton. Since Israel is a typological new creation, it must revelationally reflect its legal testimony in terms of special revelation.

    We also need to make a clear distinction between biblical natural law and any notion of natural theology. Within the purview of conservative Reformed theology, the former- biblical natural law. is OK but the latter- natural theology, is not acceptable. So with this, we must also make a clear distinction between a Reformed view of biblical natural law and a Roman Catholic view of natural law. The latter tends to oriented in terms of natural theology. Yet, in the last twenty years or so there has been a proliferation of various views of natural law, so that now there is even a gay socio-biological view of natural law, which would invariably be at odds with a Reformed biblical view of natural law.

  33. Colin said,

    March 30, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Unfortunately for Tim, the “non-CR viewpoints” are almost all silent on the topic of the applicability of OT civil laws, especially since most already presume their general inapplicability in advance for various unwarranted reasons such as typology, eschatology, pietism, or political apathy.

    As far as Bahnsen’s “axiom” goes, it is not at all “contrary” to the WCF, but rather very compatible with it. And Bahnsen, (unlike Tim) was a lawfully ordained Presb

  34. Colin said,

    March 30, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Unfortunately for Tim, the “non-CR viewpoints” are almost all silent on the topic of the applicability of OT civil laws, especially since most already presume their general inapplicability in advance for various unwarranted reasons such as typology, eschatology, pietism, or political apathy.

    As far as Bahnsen’s “axiom” goes, it is not at all “contrary” to the WCF, but rather very compatible with it. And Bahnsen, (unlike Tim) was a lawfully ordained Presbyterian teaching elder when he wrote it. And of course his axiom was backed up by extensive published writings on the topic. Hence, Bahnsen did not “reduce” his views to the cited axiom, for he previously explained and clarified and defended his position many times over the years in at least 4 books and numerous articles and taped lectures.

    Tim is also not in any position to be accusing a Presbyterian elder of teaching things “contrary” to the WCF when Tim himself holds to views that are explicitly contrary to the WCF, namely credo-baptism and non-cessationism. Nor was Bahnsen ever charged by his presbytery for teaching things “contrary” to the WCF. Hence, Tim’s charge is reckless as it is inaccurate.

    Tim claims that the WCF 19:4 makes it easy to discern which Mosaic judicials can be applied to today, but whenever pressed for an actual list of applicable judicials for today, Tim always remains silent in the details. And one wonders why Tim, a Baptist, would even refer to the WCF at all, when he personally follows the LBC?

    As for the claim itself, its rather naive to think that 19:4 alone will help us in the judicial law application process. For that would make most of the Westminster Larger Catechism (and similar writings) rather redundant.

    For the record, Theonomists have no problem with WCF 19:4 since there is nothing contra-Theonomic there. The real debate is found in WCF 23:3 (0riginal version) which BTW Bahnsen defended in TiCE, and which the Theonomic RPCUS under Joe Morecraft fully subscribes to. But since most American presbyterians hold to the revised WCF 23:3, then many are not aware of how far they really differ from their Reformed and Theonomic forefathers.

    As for Lane’s article itself, it appears obvious that he has not read “Theonomy in Christian Ethics”, nor at least “No Other Standard” which addresses his very concerns. But I thank him at least for willing to tackle a topic no matter how controversial it is. Its only a shame that he did not choose to directly tackle any Theonomic writing.

  35. Puritan Lad said,

    March 31, 2009 at 7:21 am

    JPC,

    Yes, I have read Bahnsen’s material, and he makes some excellent points. I have heard that O. Palmer Robertson has offered a rebuttal, but haven’t been able to locate it yet. (if anyone knows what this book is, let me know.)

    Thanks Todd. I guess my question to youi would be, “what kind of laws and punishments should civil governments operate under today?”. How would you apply Roamns 13:1-4, particularly examining the power of the sword in dealing with “good” and “evil”?

  36. March 31, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Dear Puritan Lad,

    Your question is right on target… In other words should man live by man’s laws or by every Word of our LORD, including civil laws for justice and righteousness in society? As for me, I’ll stick with the LORD’s Standard as found in Scripture as it is the only Standard that is everlasting. For those of you wanting to take a deeper look at theonomy, please check out Jay Roger’s website: Forerunner . com. Here has an excellent FAQ section on theonomy.

    For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,
    Angela Wittman, RPCNA

    Jesus is KING!!!

  37. Todd said,

    March 31, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Puritan Lad,

    Believe me, I am not meaning to sound trite, but I am not an expert on civil law. I am a minister of Christ’s kingdom. Since the Bible does not give a blueprint for what and how civil laws should be enforced today, I cannot answer the question. And Rom 13:1-4 is not Paul’s explanation of the limitations of government power, but his admonition to the church to submit to governments.

    Todd

  38. March 31, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Dear Todd,

    Sorry to intrude… But please remember that we are to obey God’s Laws first and foremost before submitting to a government which is becoming more wicked each passing day. We need a call for discernment, reformation and revival in the Church — not submission to tyranny!

  39. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:23 am

    “Since the Bible does not give a blueprint for what and how civil laws should be enforced today…”

    Todd, it may be true that the blueprint is not explicit, and that discovering how such laws, as say, those regrading the incorrigible child or the woman who grabs her husband’s sparing partner’s privates, apply today is not an easy task (these are instances of behavior that is shaped over time and observed by many, not single instances). Obviously. But the Bible does not give an explicit form of church government either. Presbyterian government does not lie on the surface, as much as it is implied and displayed. We have to dig for it.

    The main thing is, continuing the conversation. Many of the theonomists lost ground because they spent their time flinging so much of it at one another. In some ways they disenfranchised themselves. It would be great to see a new generation pick up where they left off and really continue the discussion in a creative manner.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  40. Stephen said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Palmer Robertson was my Old Testament professor in seminary and I am not aware of any critque he made of Bahnsen. If he has it is a very recent thing.

  41. Todd said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:30 am

    “But the Bible does not give an explicit form of church government either. Presbyterian government does not lie on the surface, as much as it is implied and displayed. We have to dig for it.”

    Chris,

    The difference is, the Apostle Paul is actually *interested* in telling us about church government.

    Todd

  42. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Todd,
    Good point, laconic too!
    He does talk about the role of the civil magistrate and the limits of government, i.e. the sword. That much is plain. And even though it is brief, it carries a very explicit message to rulers of any age.
    Would you agree?
    C

  43. Todd said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Chris,

    Rom 13 is not written to the state to warn them of the limits of their authority – it was written to the church to warn them to honor and submit to their civil authorities. Read it again.

    Todd

  44. dgh said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:44 am

    If theonomists were as partial to the first table of the decalogue as they are about the sixth and seventh commandments, then I’d be more open than I am. I’d do anything to get rid of the anti-nomianism that is contemporary Christian worship and its music.

  45. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Todd,
    “Read it again”? Is that a discussion or a command? What you are saying is that if I read it again I will come to the right conclusion, meaning, your conclusion? That is the kind of high-handed talk that just kills discussion. Seriously man.

    I am not the first to see more there than just my subjective attitude towards the state (Samuel Rutherford has some good things to say in this regard— “Lex Rex”). There seems to be an implied principle underlying Paul’s assertion that applies both ways. Paul seems to understand the role of the state as non-messianic, as that role is confined to the church. Any way, I’ll “read it again” and see how much more I might dig out of it, as my little brain might be missing something.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  46. Tom Albrecht said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:59 am

    “Palmer Robertson was my Old Testament professor in seminary and I am not aware of any critque he made of Bahnsen. If he has it is a very recent thing.”

    Stephen,

    I believe I have a copy of a paper written by Robertson somewhere in my collection. I’m not sure if it was against Bahnsen specifically or theonomy generally. It probably dates back to the late 80s or early 90s. I’ll look for it.

    Tom

  47. Todd said,

    March 31, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Chris,

    Wasn’t meant to be demeaning – point is – people often read the text asking the wrong questions – read it again means study it well and see if Paul is speaking to the point you are wanting him to. Don’t be offended.

    Todd

  48. Todd said,

    March 31, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Puritan Lad,

    You might check out T David’s Gordon’s critique of theonomy here.
    http://www.theologicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/gordon_theonomy.pdf

    Todd

  49. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Todd,
    No worries. I have a fairly thick skin, but wonder at the impatience of ministers sometimes.

    If nothing else, I would like to see the discussion on theonomy ripen a bit more. There is more work to do, and that includes every Christian, not just ministers.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  50. Puritan Lad said,

    March 31, 2009 at 10:51 am

    Todd: Since the Bible does not give a blueprint for what and how civil laws should be enforced today, I cannot answer the question.

    Response: That’s a scary thought. What about crimes such as murder. theft, and assault? Should the civil government deal with these laws? Why?

    Todd: And Rom 13:1-4 is not Paul’s explanation of the limitations of government power, but his admonition to the church to submit to governments.

    Response: I agree, but what is the reason that Paul tells us to submit to governments? Because they are God’s ministers to reward good and to punish evildoers. And then that leads to the question of how we define good and evil.

    So my instinct is that there is something not quite right about theonomy, but I haven’t been able to give a biblical explanation as to why.

  51. Puritan Lad said,

    March 31, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for the link Todd. I’ll check it out.

    Tom. If you find Robertson’s book, please let me know the name of it.

  52. Zrim said,

    March 31, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Todd is being modest in his recommendations. But I like blowing other peoples’ horns:

    http://www.opcfw.com/papers/theonomy.html

  53. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Zrim,
    There are many straw men in the article, all of which are blown over in the literature. This must be an old paper. I am not suggesting that everything that has come out of the theonomist camp is praiseworthy. However, to set up notions that have been answered roundly by those who identify themselves as theonomic is just poisoning the well. That is not a fair tactic, although it works to dissuade others to read. It creates misunderstanding and generalizations.

    Theonomy is a broad category that covers economics, civil law, aesthetics, media, etc. etc. A better term might be Kuyperian, or Neo-Calvinist, as law is only one aspect of the issues addressed by the literature.

    It is an ongoing discussion.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  54. Jerry said,

    March 31, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Puritan Lad,

    When you are done with Gordon’s paper pick up the response to it: COVENANTAL THEONOMY: A Response to T David Gordon and Klinean Covenantalism by Ken Gentry

  55. J.Kru said,

    March 31, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    But just because it is in the OT law doesn’t mean that it should be rejected. Would a Christian be able to argue against the death penalty for murder carte blanche? Canaan didn’t typify Canada, but that doesn’t mean that Canada can’t decide to apply certain OT laws, does it?

  56. drollord said,

    March 31, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Lane,
    Captivating post. I’ll be forthright admitting my (shaken) theonomic sympathies. Am reading with interest.

    Question: Would the commandment back in Genesis concerning if a man were to kill another he is to be put to death be considered General Revelation or Natural law or both?

    Please excuse my oil based paint influenced comments.

  57. Zrim said,

    March 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Sometimes I think we lose the forest for the trees. Asking if we can argue that murder is wrong without explicit reference to the OT, etc. is like asking if we can legitimately see what is front of us by simply using our eyes, or do we need something more than eyes to see?

    But just like eyes, God created faculties, like reason and conscience, in order for them to actually be employed. The standard-issue theonomic response here will be that our eyes are flawed, thus we need something more than our creation to see what is front of us (like glasses, meaning special revelation). But this usually is to presume something more akin to utter depravity than total depravity. Calvinism is to admit our faculties are completely sin-strewn and highly compromised, that we can get things very wrong, etc. Utter depravity is to go further and dispense with perfectly usable faculties because it is believed that “sin goes all the way down” and renders creation useless. It is actually a very low view of creation. But until the theonomist is willing to admit his feet haven’t really carried him across the room in a reliable fashion, his claims are just as ridiculous.

  58. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Drollord, interesting question. It would seem to me that the covenant with Noah was also a covenant with all mankind, and that capital punishment for murder is thus part of natural law. That’s a sort of off-the-cuff answer. But I think I would stick by it.

  59. greenbaggins said,

    March 31, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Angela, would you acknowledge that non-theonomists are NOT arguing for man’s law versus God’s law, but rather for God’s law as given in nature to be the standard for secular governments? It seems like you have understood the non-theonomic position to be arguing for autonomy. I believe I have made it crystal clear that I am arguing for no such thing.

  60. Stephen said,

    March 31, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks, Jerry. Where would you find Gentry response? Is this a title of a book he has written?

  61. Stephen said,

    March 31, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Amen, Angela!

  62. Stephen said,

    March 31, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Palmer Robertson has not written a book on this subject, but he has certainly made comments over the years regarding theonomy.

  63. Tom Albrecht said,

    March 31, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    “Drollord, interesting question. It would seem to me that the covenant with Noah was also a covenant with all mankind, and that capital punishment for murder is thus part of natural law. That’s a sort of off-the-cuff answer. But I think I would stick by it.”

    Lane,

    You just made a caveat that is not in the Noahic covenant. Where would one go in “natural law” to find the distinction between premeditated murder and accidental manslaughter? Or would you say that is not a necessary distinction to make?

    Tom

  64. jpc said,

    March 31, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Actually, with all due respect Lane,you are arguing for autonomy. Your Christian sensibilities tell you that such is bad, and thus your (correct) desire to oppose it. But your objective position implies autonomy because unless natural law is informed by God’s revealed Word, it is as flexible as the man who is reasoning on its alleged basis. That gentiles have a sensus divinitatis as noted by Paul in Romans is no warrant for thinking that civil governments (especially as composed of by man qua man) can govern with justice by principles they autonomously deduce from the world or their consciences. Natural law as you would have it always results in subjectivism and/or the naturalistic fallacy, and thus one can not hold to it with consistency while simultaneously opposing an autonomous civil ethic.

  65. Todd said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    “No worries. I have a fairly thick skin, but wonder at the impatience of ministers sometimes.”

    Chris, it’s not impatience as much as limited space – these blog discussions do not leave much room for qualification and amplification.

    Puritan Lad said,

    “That’s a scary thought.”

    Yes, it’s scary like being a Christian doctor but not being given the cure for cancer. Part of the tension of living in this fallen world that is passing away.

    “What about crimes such as murder. theft, and assault? Should the civil government deal with these laws?”

    Asking whether the government should deal with certain crimes is a different question than asking if the Bible informs us what crimes are to be enforced and how. Do you see the difference?

    “So my instinct is that there is something not quite right about theonomy, but I haven’t been able to give a biblical explanation as to why.”

    Keep asking good questions and searching the Scriptures like you are doing, and study classic covenant theology. You’ll get there.

    Angela wrote:

    “Sorry to intrude… But please remember that we are to obey God’s Laws first and foremost before submitting to a government which is becoming more wicked each passing day. We need a call for discernment, reformation and revival in the Church — not submission to tyranny!”

    Angela,

    You are not intruding. The Roman government to which the Apostle Paul called believers to submit was truly tyrannical. I am sure you have studied ancient Rome. Nero makes President Obama look like an angel. And while I understand the angst over our government moving more socialistic, I like to reserve the term “tyranny” for those Christians who are even now in prison and being murdered for simply confessing Christ. Since they only dream of being in our situation, I hesitate out of respect for them to call our situation tyrannical.

    Todd

  66. drollord said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    -On the side, Jews (Orthodox), I believe, “discourage” gentiles from becoming “converts” (or whatever they call them) telling them to follow the Noachic law (whatever that means), but FWIW Orth. Jews have something approximating an idea of natural law. Be that testimony against them in whatever way one would use that…

    Could it be argued that the death penalty in the Noachic commandment to execute murderers, being post fall and in proximity to the COG that it was a special commandment fulfilled in Christ?

  67. Frank Davies said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Lane,

    What do you think of Bahnsen’s thesis that a standing commandment from God is binding unless it is repealed in the New Testament?

    The question of Theonomy is really about the continuity in discontinuity between the old and new Covenant.

    Cheers,

  68. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    JPC,
    Nicely put. It seems that Paul is saying “when” the gentiles act in accordance with God’s Law they show that they are aware of an absolute standard, but they do not pursue this. Instead, man naturally suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. That is our bent outside of Christ. Fallen man might touch on it at the fringes, but it is a groping at the truth. Plato and others might be the archetype of natural law theorists, but these men liked sleeping with boys, amongst other things.

    Paul never uses the term “natural law”. It is a Thomistic formulation; one that even Calvin mistakenly adopted. The category does not exist in Scripture. “Natural law”

    Lane,
    Noah was given revelation concerning in regards to the sanction for murderers.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  69. Chris Zodrow said,

    March 31, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Apologies for the bad grammar.

    I want to clarify something: a person’s subjective response, does not define God’s Law, but simply proves that they are one of his creatures. I cannot escape His presence, but this does not make me an expert at formulating law in my autonomous mind. It is simply proof that He reigns over all, even those who refuse His revelation.

  70. JPC said,

    March 31, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    And also see Steve Hays’ reply here.

  71. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    March 31, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    I don’t see how this is utter depravity rather than total. No one says that fallen man can *never* recognize *any* aspect of the moral law–that would be utter depravity, with reason and conscience being totally flawed. Total depravity means that even the reason and conscience are flawed, so they cannot be held as the *standard* without some corrective. In your view, they seem to be working just fine, so they don’t actually need a corrective. That’s an essentially Thomistic view, or even Lockean: reason is working just fine, thank you, so leave it alone.

  72. Zrim said,

    March 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    I don’t see how this is utter depravity rather than total. No one says that fallen man can *never* recognize *any* aspect of the moral law–that would be utter depravity, with reason and conscience being totally flawed. Total depravity means that even the reason and conscience are flawed, so they cannot be held as the *standard* without some corrective. In your view, they seem to be working just fine, so they don’t actually need a corrective. That’s an essentially Thomistic view, or even Lockean: reason is working just fine, thank you, so leave it alone.

    Joshua,

    I agree. I’m not saying they “work just fine and need no corrective.” That’s why I said Calvinism (total depravity) is to admit our faculties are completely sin-strewn and highly compromised such that we can get things very wrong, etc. Theonomy only understands itself and autonomy (read: reason and conscience can never be wrong); it has no category for a fallen human faculty. It is not content with a maimed facility. I’m not saying our faculties work without flaw (quite the contrary), only that they work much better than theonomists seem to think.

    Moreover, I agree that any theonomist will ostensibly admit that fallen faculty can sometimes recognize some aspect of the moral law, but their whole system actually undermines this admission. It’s like when Roman Catholics say they believe Jesus is the perfect and sole sacrifice for sins, but the whole system actually works against such an admission.

  73. Jerry said,

    March 31, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    It is a book

    I believe Amazon has it

  74. March 31, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    “Theonomy only understands itself and autonomy (read: reason and conscience can never be wrong); it has no category for a fallen human faculty. It is not content with a maimed facility. I’m not saying our faculties work without flaw (quite the contrary), only that they work much better than theonomists seem to think.”

    One would think that the murder and holocaust of over 50 million of unborn would be enough testimony that our faculties are more than maimed but some people’s standards for maimed are different than others.

    Zrim’s argument, of course, a argument that is beholden to the enlightenment. Right reason and natural law. Self evident truths. etc. Theonomists hold that humans are fallen and that their reasoning mechanism is depraved. However theonomists also recognize that people must import biblical capital into their God hating worldviews in order to get those worldviews off the ground. As such theonomists are glad to admit that even a blind old sow finds an acorn once in awhile. Theonomists admit that natural law exists but they also hold that a right reading of natural law is not possible due to how the unbeliever suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. Where the unbeliever gets something right its always with the higher purpose of getting God wrong.

    “Moreover, I agree that any theonomist will ostensibly admit that fallen faculty can sometimes recognize some aspect of the moral law, but their whole system actually undermines this admission. It’s like when Roman Catholics say they believe Jesus is the perfect and sole sacrifice for sins, but the whole system actually works against such an admission.”

    Zrim, as is often the case, is just plain wrong here. He has offered an assertion without an argument.

    He really needs to read Gentry’s book that is a response to Gordon’s feeble efforts.

  75. Reed Here said,

    March 31, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Bret: if I might, just ne particular follow up question to the trajectory of your comment here:

    Theonomists admit that natural law exists but they also hold that a right reading of natural law is not possible due to how the unbeliever suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. Where the unbeliever gets something right its always with the higher purpose of getting God wrong.

    Based on the latter sentence, am I right in assuming that you believe (theonomy to the degree you’re representative) the unbeliever’s inability in this regard is not absolute? That is, you do think the unbeliever can get at least some of it right, yes?

    If so, then how does this, let’s call it dysfunctional but nevertheless effective, use of natural law by the unbeliever fit your contention here? In what way, in particular in what essential way does the unbeliever not get natural law right so as to make an appeal to natural law effectively impossible?

    reed

  76. March 31, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    “If theonomists were as partial to the first table of the decalogue as they are about the sixth and seventh commandments, then I’d be more open than I am. I’d do anything to get rid of the anti-nomianism that is contemporary Christian worship and its music.

    LOL …. LOL ….

    Theonomist are constantly complaining about violation of the first commandment but R2k folk constantly tell us that that idolatry in the public square doesn’t count.

  77. David Gadbois said,

    March 31, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Indeed, Zrim. I would ask why theonomists think that, if indeed man is so wicked, how the Mosaic law or any other form of special revelation would solve his ethical problems. That law would be subject to misinterpretation and suppression, same as the natural law contained in general revelation. The only solution is personal regeneration, not more revealed law.

    So much theonomic argumentation is nullified when one clearly distinguishes between the objective nature of ethical revelation (acknowledging general revelation to be perspicuous and sufficient) and the subjective interpretation of the objective (which is a spiritual problem *in us* that cannot be rectified by codifying the law at Mt. Sinai).

  78. March 31, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    Reed,

    I’m responding despite the fact that you are constantly impugning my character with no cause of evidence in previous threads. This is just an appeal for you to play nice.

    “Based on the latter sentence, am I right in assuming that you believe (theonomy to the degree you’re representative) the unbeliever’s inability in this regard is not absolute? That is, you do think the unbeliever can get at least some of it right, yes?”

    Just as I would believe that a broken clock gets the time right at least twice a day. That is to say the getting of something “right” is quite accidental and serves the larger purpose of getting something larger wrong.

    Let’s take abortion for example. The pagan gets it right from natural law that having sterile instruments in a sterile setting is a good thing for the sake of the baby murderer’s health. However, their reading of natural law that requires them to look out for the patients health is in service of a larger agenda that is aimed at striking out at God’s image by murder. Their reading rightly of natural law is done in service of attacking God. Their reading rightly of natural law is invoked in order to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

    “If so, then how does this, let’s call it dysfunctional but nevertheless effective, use of natural law by the unbeliever fit your contention here? In what way, in particular in what essential way does the unbeliever not get natural law right so as to make an appeal to natural law effectively impossible?

    It is effective for what it wants to be effective, but it will never be effective to the end of creating a just culture and society. Further its effectiveness will be continuously reduced and its dysfunction continue to be heightened as the culture as a whole is less and less influenced by Christian categories. The problem with Natural law thinking is that it is only as good as the faith of a people that inform it. Natural law can be easily appealed to as a justifying philosophy for cultural norms when it arises in a Christian culture and from christian soil. However, when Natural law arises in a pagan culture and from a pagan soil, any appeal to Natural Law by Christians will be laughed out of existence.

    Remember … even the Usurpers in the 1930’s europe appealed to Natural law to justify their laws that determined what constituted to much jewishness.

  79. Zrim said,

    March 31, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    David,

    Yes, I would take the time to ask that, too, but I have to practice my sieg heil. First things first you know.

  80. Reed Here said,

    March 31, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Bret:

    Thanks for your response. I’m not sure your answe scratches the itch, but that most likely flows from my lack of enough focus in my question.

    It seems to me that you deny the use of natural law by the Civil Magistrate, because it cannot used perfectly by unbelievers. Yet you do acknowledge that it can be used accurately, at least sometimes. Seems to me that you deny teh basis of your own argument. If natural law can be used accurately sometimes, then the fact that it cannot be used perfectly (accurately all the time) is no argument against it’s use. Can you see the inconsistency I think I’m observing?

    As to my constantly impugning your character, I will be more than willing brother to receive and hopefully respond in a manner that brings reconciliation, to an off list request: reedhereatgmaildotcom.

    Aside, I’d ask you to consider that it might be more helpful to do that than to make such a complaint outside of the context which you believe warrants it. Such can only serve to impugn my character, and in a manner to which I cannot respond, no?

  81. Colin said,

    March 31, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Dr. Robertson gave an oral lecture consisting of a review/critique of Bahnsen’s Theonomy in Christian Ethics back in 1978 or so. It is entitled, “An Analysis of Theonomy”.

    If I am not mistaken, the paper that Tom likely has is a transcript of that audio lecture. I have a copy of it too somewhere in my files.

    Dr. Bahnsen responded to Robertson’s lecture. This response can be found in the book, “No Other Standard”.

  82. March 31, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    “Can you see the inconsistency I think I’m observing?”

    No I can’t.

    The Natural law used by the pagan Civil magistrate will not be God’s natural law. Does the pagan or does he not suppress the truth in unrighteousness? The illustration I gave clearly revealed that even when getting it right it is in the service of getting it wrong. To say that pagans can sometimes get things right in spite of their presuppostions is only to admit that the only place people can be perfectly wrong in their thinking is in insane asylums. The ability to get some things right in the service of hating God is not due to pagan proficiency at getting Natural law right but rather it is due to their borrowing capital from Christianity in order to get their God hating system off the ground.

    Again you keep appealing to Natural law and the pagan Civil Magistrates use thereof as if Natural law wasn’t interpreted through some philosophical plausibility structure. Now we both agree that Natural Law is what it is but obviously the implementation of it by a Hindu Civil Magistrate or a Muslim Civil Magistrate suggests that Natural law is worldview dependent in its interpretation.

    There was a good deal in what I responded to earlier that you left uncommented upon and as such I will end here.

    Thanks for playing nice.

  83. Colin said,

    March 31, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    “Without Greg Bahnsen at the helm theonomists seem to have lose steam in this matter. This debate can be fun, but really theonomists are just repeating most of Bahnsen’s arguments.”

    How about this version?

    “Without John Calvin at the helm, Calvinists seem to have lose steam in this matter. This [Calvinist-Arminian] debate can be fun, but really Calvinists are just repeating most of Calvin’s arguments.”

    The death of John Calvin has not undermined the credibility or truth of Calvinism. Neither has the passing of Greg Bahnsen or Rushdoony undermined the truth of Theonomy.

    And if Theonomists repeat some or most of Bahnsen’s arguments, so what? They are simply using the best arguments against the same criticisms that Bahnsen had encountered. And since most recent critics of Theonomy are simply rehashing older criticisms, then it shouldn’t be surprising if they are countered with the same Theonomic arguments.

    We, as Calvinists, often repeat the same arguments of Calvin or of Owen or Gill, or Ness, or Boettner, or Pink, because though they be dead, yet they still speak the truth to every age. How should that be any different for a Theonomist?

  84. Reed Here said,

    March 31, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Bret: I only responded to your comments with regard to my one specific question. I was not ignoring the rest of what you said. I believe it is irrelevant to what I was asking.

    I think you’re assuming some inferences that I am not making. I am not appealing to Natural Law and ignoring the philosophical borrowing structure. I get that. (Sounds as if you’re hearing me arguing for something I am not – I really do have a very narrow subject in view.)

    I was questioning the validity of what appears to be your argument that since hecan’t use it right 100% of the time, the unbeliever (civil magistrate) can’t be trusted on to use natural right at all. This appeared to be one of your supports in the thread above. I think your agreement that they can get it right sometimes, even if only because they “borrow” from the biblical worldview, argues against your point.

    I guess, however, as you’ve noted, we’ll have to leave the question here.

  85. Colin said,

    March 31, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    That new copy of “By This Standard”. Is that the new Hardcover edition minus Gary North’s infamous Prologue?

    No matter since the original edition including the Prologue is available for free online.

    I have compiled an 8 page Scripture Index for BTS in order to correct that publication’s shortcoming, however the pagination is based on the original paperback and online editions prior to the 2008 Hardback version.

  86. March 31, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Reed,

    As they both know and not know at the same time they are picking and choosing what to allow through and what to strain out. Hence an appeal to Natural law on the basis that they sometimes, when convenient, allow some of what they know through can not carry the day.

    Thanks for not getting all upset at me.

  87. March 31, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Is that the prologue where he compares Bahnsen’s opponents as Bambis to Bahnsens Godzilla?

  88. March 31, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    “I guess you have to ask yourself – do you want the government to put your wife to death if she cheats on you?”

    Are you suggesting that it was mean or unreasonable of God to ever require this? If it is mean and unreasonable now, why wouldn’t it have been mean and unreasonable once upon a time? Is adultery any more satisfactory to God now as it was then? Was God more serious about adultery then than now?

    What of God’s immutability? This sounds very neo-Marcion. Really, you can’t fault people for raising the specter of anti-nomian.

    ” If intuitively it doesn’t sound appropriate – trust your instincts and ask yourself why it would not be proper in this age.

    I can’t believe a Reformed minister is making this kind of argument.

    Catechism

    Q — How should we understand God’s Word?

    A — According to our fallen intuitions

  89. jpc said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:26 pm

    Reed,

    Allow me an interjection:

    “I think your agreement that they can get it right sometimes, even if only because they “borrow” from the biblical worldview, argues against your point.”

    I think the point isn’t which law can be handled best in the hands of men, but which law is best. That is, which law is perfect and thus an objective, invariant, and universal law, and which is subjective, variant and more of less contingent on the interpreter. Even King David might make mistakes using God’s law, but at least the law he is interpreting is theologically warranted and philosophically feasible. That Mr. Obama might one day outlaw abortion by virtue of his intrepretation of NL would be accidental to his anti-Christ faith which opposes God’s law. Righteous public policy should not be a matter of who is in office, but a matter how faithful the officer is to the policy.

    Great discussion, brothers. Wish we could do so over a whiskey!

  90. jpc said,

    March 31, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    should read, “how faithful the officer is to righteousness,” but I guess either will do in an understood sense.

  91. Colin said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:27 am

    In the Prologue, North compared Bahnsen’s 1979 rebuttal of Meredith Kline’s “Review” of Theonomy to the classic underground cartoon of Godzilla’s giant foot squashing Bambi.

    I think that ancient cartoon can be seen on Youtube.

    Regarding Kline, …

  92. Jerry said,

    April 1, 2009 at 4:49 am

    Thanks Pastor DePace

  93. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 1, 2009 at 6:41 am

    I’ve yet to hear a direct explanation of how natural law/r2kt proponents square their position with:

    1. Belgic Confession Article 36 on the magistrate which says in part:

    “Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry, that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshiped by every one, as He commands in His Word.”

    2. Canons of Dort, Third/Fourth Head, Article 4 which says that regarding the natural light that remains in unregenerate man, “…he is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil.”

    3. Belgic Confession Article XIV which says in part “… [f]or there is no understanding nor will conformable to the divine understanding and will but what Christ has wrought in a man….”

  94. April 1, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Dear Greenbaggins,

    Please forgive my delay in responding to your question. No, I am not acknowledging that non-theonomists are arguing for natural law as given by God to be the standard for secular gov’ts. First of all, we have God’s written Word to tell us how to govern ourselves, our homes, our churches and society. Why should we look for revelation outside of Scripture? I think non-theonomists just haven’t thought this all the way through and they are not applying all scripture to all of their lives yet. But I have great hope they soon will see their way clear on this. Thank you… Sorry, but I do think non-theonomists are arguing for autonomy.

  95. April 1, 2009 at 7:11 am

    Dear dgh,
    Praise the LORD you are seeking more biblical worship! Please check out the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. We practice the Regulative Principle. Yes, you are right to be opposed to the anti-nomianism in mainstream evangelical churches. In my opinion, it is a reflection of their apathy to God’s holiness and Law.

  96. April 1, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I have “No Other Standard” posted at the Ladies of the Covenant blog. Please click on the label for “No Other Standard” on the sidebar. It is also available on-line at Gary North’s I.C.E. or you can order it from Gary DeMar’s American Vision.

  97. dgh said,

    April 1, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Hey Mark, good question. Haven’t heard it before. I wonder if you have the names of churches that subscribe the Belgic and enforce Art. 36. If you’re not a member of one of those churches, perhaps you could explain why you’re not.

  98. Reed Here said,

    April 1, 2009 at 8:36 am

    JPC (sorry I if I should know, but your name?):

    Yes, your comment is helpful. Bret seemed to be setting the bar higher (perfect use of natural law) and then denying that in what he said next (accurate use, apart from motive/goal). I might add that I’d be very comfortable with this standard, and therefore affirming that since this is impossible for the unbeliever, than we must affirm God’s law trumps.

    Of course, this opens up a whole host of other questions. But to get to one that I think specifically bears here, you are offering a different standard, that which is “best.”

    I guess this prompts me to ask a couple of follow up questions. Not how do we determine which is best (I’m there on that), but how exactly do we know that the best will actually be any better than the unbeliever’s imperfect use of natural law? After all, as Bret (I think) has agreed, it is not natural law that is the problem, but the one interpreting and enforcing it (the civil magistrate.)

    So will the unbeliever, or even a believer, be any more effective at administering God’s law than natural law?

    All this to ask what I hope is the more foundational question: is this even the right way to argue for the position? Does theonomy rest on the presupposition that only God’s law can be administered best in a fallen world? Is that the biblical justification?

  99. Reed Here said,

    April 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Bret:

    Feel free to contact me with your complaints. Otherwise I’ll assume we’re at peace with one another. No need to keep jabbing about something I disagree with you over.

  100. April 1, 2009 at 9:34 am

    “One day Korah son of Izhar…” You know the rest.

    Zrim,
    Are you suggesting that Moses was a nazi?

    David,
    Was God mistaken when He spoke at Sinai?

    Once again, these objections are answered in the literature. Even the snide objections.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  101. April 1, 2009 at 9:40 am

    DGH,
    If ad hominem tu quoque is allowed, then we should all shut up. Show me a church, even in the OPC sir, that is wholly Reformed. That will not be so until the second coming. In the mean time, we talk.

    Even Christ said, “Do what they say, not what they do”.

  102. Zrim said,

    April 1, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Why should we look for revelation outside of Scripture?

    Maybe because providence is something we confess, as in WCF V, or HC 27, or II Helvetic VI, or my favorite BC 2 (and 13):

    “We know him by two means: first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe; which is before our eyes as a most elegant book, wherein all creatures, great and small, are as so many characters leading us to contemplate the invisible things of God, namely, his power and divinity, as the apostle Paul saith, Romans 1:20…”

    To the extent that it is the Calvinist version of Methodism or the more confessional version of evangelical culture warriorism, I realize it’s the theonomist schema to under-realize the that most elegant book. But the confessions clearly teach that providence is entirely legitimate and that believers and non- have equal access to its truths. Moreover, sinners sin because they are sinners, not because they aren’t theonomists.

  103. Reed Here said,

    April 1, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Frank: no disparagement meant, but I always thought that sounded like a hermeneutical principle following more from dispensational presuppositions than reformed ones. Admittedly, I may simply be observing a surface similarity. Dispensational hermeneutics do have a noted history for this kind, albeit from the opposite side (it has to be repeated in the NT to be applicable.)

    Regardless, both positions, dispy’s and Bahnsen’s here, seem to be more based on rationalistic informed notions than they do actual biblical principles. Any details on how Bahnsen supports this from Scripture (and not just mere “proof-texting”)?

  104. David Gadbois said,

    April 1, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Re: Mark’s comment #40:

    1. You are quoting from the theonomy-unfriendly Belgic revision which 3 Forms of Unity churches use today. Why would we have a problem with it? It says that the government should protect the church, not endorse it.

    2. 3. These quotes demonstrate that man needs to be born again, not that natural law is not perspicuous and sufficient. If unregenerate man is ‘incapable of using natural law aright…” then more law isn’t going to help the situation. He won’t use law revealed by special revelation aright either. The problem is sin nature, not the form of the law.

  105. Tom Albrecht said,

    April 1, 2009 at 11:28 am

    “You are quoting from the theonomy-unfriendly Belgic revision which 3 Forms of Unity churches use today. Why would we have a problem with it? It says that the government should protect the church, not endorse it.”

    David,

    The Belgic Confession is not endorsing the natural law/(r)two-kingdoms view that says the state needs to protect all religions equally without distinction. “… that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted.” The state needs to work to actively promote the advancement of Christ’s kingdom. In that sense the Confession is rather r2k-unfriendly.

    “These quotes demonstrate that man needs to be born again,”

    Then they are not theonomy-unfriendly per se since the theonomist argues similarly.

    Tom

  106. dgh said,

    April 1, 2009 at 11:35 am

    Christopher Zodrow, if you want to complain about the OPC, bring it. My point was that Mark Van der Molen, who has brought up this point many times about 2k, doesn’t see that he himself is implicated since if he is in a Reformed church his own communion doesn’t abide by the confession’s instruction on the civil magistrate. It would be like me, if I were in the CRC, complaining about the PCUSA ordaining women.

  107. April 1, 2009 at 11:59 am

    DGH,
    I have no beef with the OPC, that was not my point. We all live in the in between, is more like it. I just want to hear a response to his point. Not a slam-down. If nothing else, he is pointing out that historically, there was a bit more clarity on the issue. I am not of the mind that confessions are absolute, and would prefer exegetical answers from Scripture, but I think he at least has a historical point.

    I am not sure any church can abide by the instructions given to civil magistrates, since, well, they are given to civil magistrates.
    in Christ,
    Chris

  108. April 1, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Yes, I said “point” waaay too many times.

  109. David Gadbois said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Tom, you said Then they are not theonomy-unfriendly per se since the theonomist argues similarly.

    No they don’t. Otherwise, why did Mark bring up those citations? These texts speak of a spiritual problem *in us*. The theonomist says ‘aha, see, this means we need the Mosaic law to set us straight.’ But that shows that they don’t understand the nature of the problem. If the problem is *in us*, then the solution is spiritual renovation from within, not more law outside of us.

    “… that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted.”

    Notice that this doesn’t say that the state must promote the kindgom. It must protect the church *so that* the kingdom may be promoted (by the aforementioned ‘sacred ministry’). Those are two different things.

    As to whether or not the state should protect adherents of other religions, it simply doesn’t address the matter.

  110. April 1, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    Reed,

    LOL LOL LOL

    R2K stuff has been called Reformed Dispensationalism by theonomists and now you’re suggesting that theonomists use a dispensational hermeneutic?

    Bahnsens principles clearly follows from Jesus own words in Mt. 5:17 when he says that,

    Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

    Obviously Jesus was of the persuasion that the law was binding.

    Really … how could you accuse this of being dispensational and rationalistic?

    Is it a case of any near by stick will do when a beating needs to be applied?

    Zrim said,

    To the extent that it is the Calvinist version of Methodism or the more confessional version of evangelical culture warriorism, I realize it’s the theonomist schema to under-realize the that most elegant book

    Well, I’m sure it looks that way to the anti-nomian version of Calvinism or the pseudo confessional version of the confessional culture of treason against the crown rights of King Jesus. I realize it’s the R2Kt schema to under-realize the presence of the Kingdom.

  111. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    1. The question is: If the magistrate in the so-called common realm is governed only by natural law, and not under the demands of the Word of God, then why does the Belgic confess that the magistrate is to protect the “sacred ministry” so “that the kingdom of God is *promoted*” and that the preaching be *countenanced* so “that God may be honored and worshiped by everyone, as God commands in His Word”.

    We if we read the entire phrase together and not omit any words– “sacred ministry”, “protect”, “promote”, “countenance”, “worship by everyone”, and “as commanded in His Word” — how does this fit with the duties of the magistrate as argued by R2kt/natural law proponents?

    2&3. Your response is a non-sequiter. The Canon does not just speak of the need to be born again, but says that fallen man is unable to use the natural light “…aright, even in things natural and civil”. So let’s not overlook the words “aright” and “natural and civil”. (Cf. the Belgic confessing that unregenerate man has no “understanding or will conformable to the divine understanding”.)

    So again, how does this square with R2kt/natural law that argues that natural man *can* use natural law *aright* in things *natural and civil*?

  112. April 1, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    So again, how does this square with R2kt/natural law that argues that natural man *can* use natural law *aright* in things *natural and civil*?

    It doesn’t square and can’t square. R2Kt is heresy.

  113. David Gadbois said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    We if we read the entire phrase together and not omit any words– “sacred ministry”, “protect”, “promote”, “countenance”, “worship by everyone”, and “as commanded in His Word” — how does this fit with the duties of the magistrate as argued by R2kt/natural law proponents?

    See my reply to Tom above. Again, it is the *sacred ministry* that is doing the promoting. The state is doing the *protecting* in order for this to be possible. And ‘countenance’ here just means toleration (compare with the original Belgic reading).

    You seem to be blurring the means (protection and tolerance of the state) with the ends (right worship by God’s people).

    says that fallen man is unable to use the natural light “…aright, even in things natural and civil”. So let’s not overlook the words “aright” and “natural and civil”.

    There is a difference between not being able to use natural law rightly and not being able to use it at all. My question is how, given this, unregenerate man would somehow be able to use the Mosaic law ‘rightly’ if he is unable to do so with natural law.

  114. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    DGH {DG Hart, I presume?), yes I have brougth this up before. The reason it is brought up again is that I have yet to receive your {or anyone’s} answer to my question of how R2kt/natural law squares with the present form of those cited confessional statements. Once you answer that, then I’d be more than happy to deal with the issue of whether my church communion {or me individually} is hypocritical in their subscription, or if the confessions should be modified to conform to R2kt, etc.

    Stay focused. First things first.

  115. Reed Here said,

    April 1, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Bret:

    You need to stop LOL (kind of old and meaningless from you, like the boy crying wolf ;-) ) and read more carefully what I said. I noted that this may very well be a surface similarity, and then went on to qualify that the real comparison is that both appear to me to rely on rationalism to a greater extent than biblical argumentation. This is not saying that theonomy follows a dispensational hermeneutic.

    Such mischaracterizations lead to way too many words, not addressed to the topic. Again, I’d ask you to read a little more carefully.

    Your exegesis of Mt 5:17 hinges, of course, on what the notion of “fulfill” means. Your interpretation requires that “fulfill” here means to apply Mosaic Law (at least it’s civil portions) to all the kingdoms of this world prior to the parousia.

    I for one am decidedly not persuaded that is what Jesus meant. I’ll stick with the explanation of Hebrews as to how Jesus fulfills the law, as the WCF’s understanding of the type/shadow nature of the Mosaic Law faithfully explains.

  116. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    David, thanks for your answer re: Belgic 36. Appreciate that you are addressing your argument to the *language* of the confession. I will post a further response when time permits.

    Very quickly re: the Canon—do we agree then that the confession says that natural law, in the hands of the unregenerate, is an insufficient standard for the “right” ordering of society? {I’ll give you an answer to your question on the unregenerate’s use of the Mosaic law later as well}.

  117. April 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Couple of sundry thoughts: If Theonomy ought to be exchanged for Natural Law because Natural Law is sufficient to tell nations how to govern themselves, then the necessary implication is that God’s Law has changed over time (which would require us to get rid of Moses and rely only on Natural Law); or else Natural Law contradicted OT case law. After all, if Natural Law today tells us that rapists are no longer to be put to death, then either God’s law has changed over time or else it contradicted special revelation under Moses (by telling us that rapists were never to be put to death)! However, if Natural Law has not changed over time and God’s two forms of revelation were never in conflict, then why discard the more explicit Old Testament case laws?

    Another consideration is that Natural Law cannot be justified in the first place. Don’t get me wrong. Natural Law is indeed known by all men everywhere, but it cannot be justified in any philosophically sound way apart from special revelation. What authority would one appeal to after all? As well, Natural Law was never intended to instruct anyone on which sins should be punished and what those punishments should be. It only confirms that each sin against the Moral Law requires death before God, but that is not how we are to govern ourselves in a fallen world now is it! If we follow only Natural Law with a pure heart – as if that were even possible, we’d have to put men to death for the least of all sins even without being able to justify the sanction in any non-arbitrary fashion! At the very least, how can a Dispensationalist, or Klinian for that matter – same thing really, refute the claim that Natural Law confirms to me all the case laws of the OT as still relevant and binding in their general equity? In other words, even if Theonomy were unbiblical, it cannot be refuted! What – may legislate any law as long as it isn’t according to Moses?!

    The genius of Theonomy – God’s Law – is that it allows us to govern ourselves according God’s revelation under Moses as the promises to Abraham are fulfilled!

  118. David Gadbois said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Just as an addendum, I’d say two things:

    1. When I distinguish between not being able to use natural law rightly and not being able to use natural law at all, I mean the same thing as Romans 2:14 & 15. Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law.

    2. The fact that the government’s protection of the church is a circumstantial precondition of the right worship of God’s people does not mean that the government is either an endorser or participant in right worship. This point does no violence to the 2 Kingdom conception of church and state.

  119. Reed Here said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Bret:

    Why are you so interested in talking with supposed heretics? Do you even consider us brothers in the Lord?

  120. Reed Here said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Bret:

    What 2 Kingdom adherents do you know that deny the general equity principle?

  121. April 1, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    David,
    To be fair, this is just another straw-man you are setting up. I have not read any theonomist who has said that the law will set us straight in the way you describe. Most, if not all, are classic Calvinists in their understanding or soteriology. Write Ken Gentry directly and get his take on this stuff.

    Rushdoony’s Chalcedon Report contains a statement of their theological position on may of the issues you are bringing up here.
    Here is the link to the site. They have been answering these issues for years.

  122. Tom Albrecht said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    “Notice that this doesn’t say that the state must promote the kindgom. It must protect the church *so that* the kingdom may be promoted (by the aforementioned ’sacred ministry’). Those are two different things.”

    David,

    It is clear that this sort of confessional language, especially the original, is unnecessary, indeed, intrusive, in any r2k framework. A modern r2k’er would never have penned such ideas using language like, “{Officers] must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshiped by every one, as He commands in His Word.” Countenance means supportive approval.

    Natural law advocates teach indifference to the preaching of the gospel on the part of the magistrate, not countenance. Natural law advocates believe that the job of the state is to ensure a “level playing field” so that all sorts of heresies and anti-christian religions may compete for the souls of men. To “countenance” all religions (oxymoron).

    But this is not “countenance[ing] the preaching of the Word.” This is the abandonment of the preeminence of Christ’s kingdom in the world.

    The magistrate is not free to do that before God.

    Tom

  123. David Gadbois said,

    April 1, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Tom, check any dictionary you’d like. Note that countenance can also mean toleration or permission, especially when used in verb form.

  124. Zrim said,

    April 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Bret,

    To your theonomic mind, what is the principled difference between theonomists and evangelical culture warriors? Or isn’t there any, are you more or less co-belligerents? Insofar as you both seem usually as worried about certain instances in wider culture, and you both seem to have similar answers to the worries, it’s hard to see how it isn’t a matter of “drawing the target around the arrow” or building a system in order to squelch certain problems.

  125. Zrim said,

    April 1, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Oh, and, Bret, I am aware of how anti-nomian I am and heretical, etc. What I want to know is how you perceive your project in relation to others, not how my view paves the way for Hilter and all that.

  126. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 1, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    As a non-theonomic, non-entire-2Ker, I want to make a couple of points in defense of the 2K brethren here. In the far future, I want to register some criticisms also, but for now I think it’s appropriate to dismiss the charge of antinomianism.

    The 2K system espoused by Todd and DGH and Zrim proceeds from a belief that the Church and its members are ruled by the Law of God; that the Scripture binds the consciences of the members of the Church.

    Outside the direct commands of Scripture, there is freedom vis-a-vis the judgment of other men. So while being generous is commanded, the quantity of tip that one must give in order to be generous is not commanded; it is subject to a degree of liberty.

    Outside the boundaries of the Church, unsaved people are morally obligated to God’s law, but they should not be constrained by other men in order to force them to do so. I believe the appeal is to 1 Cor 5.12-13: What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

    So the charge of antinomianism is really not applicable. Everyone here agrees that the full force of Scripture is binding on God’s people.

    In defending the 2K group in this way, I’m not giving them a full pass! Bret’s arguments can be sharpened, I think, to this point:

    By what standard should a Christian magistrate evaluate his decisions so as to be obedient to Christ?

    I think this is a question that 2K-ers have yet to give a satisfactory answer for. But I’m not ready to go there yet. For now, I’m content that DGH and Zrim in particular (and by extension the others) agree that Scripture is binding on all Christians at all times with respect to their own behavior.

    Jeff Cagle

  127. dgh said,

    April 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Mark: the reason for putting this question back to you is that your answer to this question will probably do for me. You are awfully eager to insist on the magistrate’s Christian responsibilities. You find it in the Belgic Confession, and keep finding it there. You seem to think this is only a problem for the 2k position. Some of us have actually admitted that the Constantinian arrangment that produced such statements, not to mention the political expediency of the 16h century, have changed and that such changes allow for confessional revision, as American Presbyterians, those enlightenment loving friends of deists, did. But some of you continue to insist that the norms of the 16th century are still in effect and that those who depart from them are inconsistent and even “heretics” in Pastor women’s ordination friendly Bret’s words.

    So if the Belgic Confession is still binding, Mark, how do you live with your own church or your own magistrate? You keep making it seem as if your question is only pressing upon 2k advocates, and that somehow your intellectual consistency allows you to escape the hook. But it’s your political inconsistency that is really the issue. Your magistrate, and mine, and your church, and mine, is violating God’s law on your scheme. So please tell me how do you resolve the tension? Please don’t tell me it is by pointing out the inconsistency of 2k holders.

  128. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Chris, as you can see below, once again Daryl will not directly answer my question on squaring R2kt with the PRESENT language of the cited confessions. Rather he turns the question back on whether I am living inconsistently, etc.,

    Yet, I’ll give him kudos for being consistent, albeit predictable, in deploying this evasive maneuver.

    {FWIW, I had answered DGH’s question on “resolving the tension” on a previous 900 post thread here at Greenbaggins. Perhaps he forgot. Hint: the answer is found in the Belgic itself}

  129. April 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Reed,

    All of them who aren’t theonomists.

  130. April 1, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    “For now, I’m content that DGH and Zrim in particular (and by extension the others) agree that Scripture is binding on all Christians at all times with respect to their own behavior.

    That should be amended to read,

    For now, I’m content that DGH and Zrim in particular (and by extension the others) agree that Scripture is binding on all Christians at all times with respect to their own individual behavior in their private personal lives. However, in the public square Scripture is not normative and should not be advocated to be so.

    Hence the charge of antinomianism against R2Kt types should be modified to “public square antinomianism.”

  131. April 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    “Why are you so interested in talking with supposed heretics?

    Several reasons,

    1.) I love Jesus and I know that the thinking of R2Kt is a denial of the Lord who bought His people. As such, in the interest of the honor of my Captain and my Prince I am interested in talking to you.

    2.) For the same reason Calvin pleaded with Servetus right until the very end. It is a reason of love and compassion for souls that have gone astray. Why would I desire otherwise solid men to be saved though as by fire?

    3.) Because this block of thinking has a strangle hold on the church and the trajectory of the Church will not be altered until the leadership of this movement repents.

    Do you even consider us brothers in the Lord?

    Y’all are strangely perplexing to me. You are as solid as a 20 dollar gold piece on all matters soteriological. You can be counted on when it comes to the authority and inspiration of Scripture. On the issues of Christ’s role as our great High Priest I sit at your feet.

    However, this one thing I have against you … you deny the authority of the risen and resurrected King Jesus. You treat His majesty as if it is still to be covered and apologized for. You limit salvation to souls and refuse to consider that Jesus is a full savior of all of men’s relationships, cultures, and institutions. Jesus as the Universe’s Liege Lord Christ and King is an anathema to you.

  132. Zrim said,

    April 1, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    But, Bret, if I am a public square antinomian why, for example, do I find myself favoring (read: not clamoring and frothing for) a literal reversal of Roe? Wouldn’t I just not care that the public debate has been lost thanks to moralists on either side instead of having a realistic perspective that mine will never prevail (you win some, you lose some)? And what gives with my sitting on public school committees arguing that full-time kindergarten and young fives programs get supported? I suppose the list of public square interests could go on, but the point is that I am having a hard time seeing where my public square antinomianism actually manifests itself.

  133. April 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    But, Bret, if I am a public square antinomian why, for example, do I find myself favoring (read: not clamoring and frothing for) a literal reversal of Roe? Wouldn’t I just not care that the public debate has been lost thanks to moralists on either side instead of having a realistic perspective that mine will never prevail (you win some, you lose some)?

    If your not clamoring and frothing you don’t have a real desire to reverse Roe. Hearing you say that is like over-hearing a 1930’s Soviet “Christian” saying, “Oh, dear, it is so sad what comrade Stalin is doing to those poor dear Kulaks. I do so desire a literal reversal of the great Leaders collectivist ambitions but I also realize that we must not clamor or froth when it comes to the liquidation of 30 million Ukranians. After all dear … these things take time and we must be realist in our expectations.”

    And what gives with my sitting on public school committees arguing that full-time kindergarten and young fives programs get supported?

    I was mistaken. I should not have said you are a public square antinomian. I should have said that you are a public square pronomian for another god’s law. Five year olds do not belong in public schools where they are saturated in the ways of false covenants and false gods. Tell me you were kidding. Tell me that this is a April fools joke on men.Tell me that you don’t really advocate that parents turn their 5 year olds over to the Molech State?

    “I suppose the list of public square interests could go on, but the point is that I am having a hard time seeing where my public square antinomianism actually manifests itself.

    I sincerely hope that I have made it clear for you.

  134. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Bret: I don’t like “public square antinomianism” because I’m not nearly as confident as you are that 2K is calling for a rejection of the law.

    To be honest, I’m not sure *what* they want in the public square — working on that question — but it seems to be more along the lines of laissez-faire or lack of coercion rather than an outright rejection of the Law.

    You express admiration for 2K-ers in other areas. Perhaps you could give them some space here by choosing a less pejorative term? Then you could argue ideas instead of butting heads over words.

    “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,
    and a gentle tongue can break a bone. ”

    Jeff Cagle

  135. dgh said,

    April 1, 2009 at 8:10 pm

    Bret, amidst your frothing and foaming, where’s the love?

  136. Zrim said,

    April 1, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Bret,

    My point was that it’s actually really hard to find antinomians. We were made for law, it’s in our hearts and bones. The more I go on the more I think the antinomian is an urban legend. It appears I may be making progress with you here, as I have now moved out from the antinomian forest and into the pronomian trees.

    (FWIW, your Soviet Christian analogy presumes something not really accurate about my views on this one: when it comes to rights my sympathies are with states, not women or babies. Whatever else this does, it also helps undermine a lot of unbecoming emoting moralists do about “holocausts” or “oppression.”)

  137. April 1, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    The same place the Apostle John’s was when he complained about Diotrephes.

  138. April 1, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    Actually, I don’t think you’re making progress if only because it is impossible to be antinomian without at the same time being pronomian. All antinomians who are against God’s law are at the same time for the law of some other god and hence are pronomian.

    I suspect that antinomians are real live creatures or otherwise there wouldn’t have been a need in Scriptures (shall we go on sinning that grace may abound) to address the issue.

    Let me ask you since you bring up that your sympathies are with states and not women or babies. Does this mean that you think states (as opposed to Feds) should have the right to murder the unborn? Believe me, even if states allowed murder of the unborn I still would be quite good at being a emoting moralist talking about holocausts and oppressions.

    You do realize that when you trivialize those who are passionate about abortion that you communicate your hardness of heart concerning the problem.

    But I forget … in your world we have to be realists and well … sometimes babies in garbage piles is what you get.

  139. JPC said,

    April 1, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Reed,

    “How exactly do we know that the best will actually be any better than the unbeliever’s imperfect use of natural law? After all, as Bret (I think) has agreed, it is not natural law that is the problem, but the one interpreting and enforcing it (the civil magistrate.)”

    Well, I already answered that from the normative perspective it will be better because it is always "better" to be faithful. God’s law, not NL has His sanction, so that should really settle it. But it seems that you’re asking about the practical question why we can be assured that God’s law can be handled better as a tool than some other tool, and by one craftsman rather than another.
    These are reasonable questions.

    Regarding the tool, simply because with the “best” law he will be working with righteous standards which are more or less already codified in writing. And he will be working with a tool that was designed for the task by the One who knows best how to curb the social evils of sinful men. (e.g. Are we guaranteed that NL will carry the "hear and fear" qualities?) With natural law he will be working with a system yet to be determined, and likely not righteous unless/until(?) interpreted properly, in which case it will just be the same thing as inscripturated law. This is why Bahsnen called natural law a sin-obscured version of the same thing in Mosaic law.

    Interpretation and application are challenges on either paradigm, but they are secondary to settling the normative issue. If a magistrate’s natural law is what it is supposed to be when rightly understood, then why not skip the laborious and arbitrary process of trying to deduce the moral order from creation and just go right to the Bible? It seems there is a secular/sacred, or cultic/common dichotomy working here that is causing more questions and concerns than are necessary. I think Frame’s excellent essay here is helpful in showing that natural revelation has never been sufficient in man’s ordained enterprises.

    As to the craftsman, I don’t think the unbeliever and believer are equal to the task, even should they have the same tool. Sin affects not the tool or standards of logic, but the ability to use them (reason), as well as the end to which logic is used (God’s glory; righteousness). Additionally, character and total depravity should also be considered when selecting leaders who would rule according to righteousness. That is, not only is the right standard to be used, but the one using it must have the right character so that he “not turn to the right or the left” (Deut 17:20). Therefore, I think we should prefer believing magistrates, rather than those who are described as… godless, estranged, sinners, at enmity with God (Rom 4:8-10); slaves to sin (Rom 6:17) unable to please God (Rom 8:4-8); sons of disobedience who live in the lusts of their flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind…by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:1-3); wayward (Isa 53; Rom 3:12), willfully blind (Eph 4:18; 1 Cor 2:14 ), ungrateful (Rom 1:21), condemned ( Rom 3:19) men who with corrupt hearts (Jer 17:9; Mark 7:21-23; Matt 7:16-18; 15:18-20) are Hostile to God (Rom 8:7). Maybe a little overkill :)

    See here for a case that Christians should only vote for Christian magistrates.

    “Does theonomy rest on the presupposition that only God’s law can be administered best in a fallen world? Is that the biblical justification?”

    No, it rests on the theological and normative principles that 1)God’s inscripturated laws are a reflection of His immutable moral character, and as such are the standard by which to judge all social codes; 2) that civil magistrates are deacons of God avenging His wrath on all criminals, and who will answer to God for their faithfulness to his perfect model of social justice (Duet 4:5-8).

    Thanks again for the interaction.

  140. David Gadbois said,

    April 1, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Chris, how does my comment prompt that question? You’re going to have to connect the dots on this one, because I’m lost.

  141. David Gadbois said,

    April 2, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Mark,

    You said ‘do we agree then that the confession says that natural law, in the hands of the unregenerate, is an insufficient standard for the “right” ordering of society’

    This statement blurs two different things – one is the objective standard, the other is the subjective interpretation of the standard. Natural law is the objective standard, ‘in the hands of…’ implies a subjective interpretation of the standard. That, itself, is never a ‘sufficient standard’, whether it is the hands of the regenerate or unregenerate.

    I don’t mean to overstate this point, but I think the failure to distinguish between the objective ethical norms and subjective ethical failures (an interpretive failure) is leading people to project the latter failures on the former. Our doctrine of depravity tells us what is wrong *in us*, and does not imply that natural law is not sufficient or perspicuous.

    Yes, I do believe that the noetic effects of sin lead unregenerate man astray. He interprets natural law in a skewed manner. No doubt.

  142. David Gadbois said,

    April 2, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Jeff, the short answer is that we’d like to see the 2nd Table of the Decalogue enforced in the public square, and a penology of the ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ principle.

  143. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 4:18 am

    But isn’t frothing a sign of demon possession? And to compare yourself to an apostle? Have you stopped taking your meds?

  144. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 2, 2009 at 6:01 am

    So even with the subjective/objective distinction you mentioned, you are agreeing here that God’s revealed Law {at least .5 of it} is to be used for the proper ordering of society. Correct?

  145. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Actually, I don’t think you’re making progress if only because it is impossible to be antinomian without at the same time being pronomian. All antinomians who are against God’s law are at the same time for the law of some other god and hence are pronomian.

    Well, I guess just get back to me when you finally decide what I am. I’m getting too old and inflexible for the sort of hyper leap-froging you’re doing (general anti-nomian, to public square anti-nomian, to pagan pronomian, to now a combo of anti/pronomian—all in just a few comments).

    I suspect that antinomians are real live creatures or otherwise there wouldn’t have been a need in Scriptures (shall we go on sinning that grace may abound) to address the issue.

    I’ve always understood the anti-nomian allegations against the apostle to be read by him as finally a straw man, designed to undermine the gospel itself. In other words, when one charges anti-nomian it may be an indicator that he’s making stuff up for whatever diverse reasons. Charging anti-nomianism is bit like accusing someone who favors states’ rights to hate babies and women. But I like both quite a bit. I have three females in my house, all of whom used to be babies at one time. Lifers and choicers do this all the time to each other, as if misogyny and anti-natalism characterize one side or another. While some of that attends the respective sides, it’s not true, it’s just a difference of political opinion.

    Let me ask you since you bring up that your sympathies are with states and not women or babies. Does this mean that you think states (as opposed to Feds) should have the right to murder the unborn? Believe me, even if states allowed murder of the unborn I still would be quite good at being a emoting moralist talking about holocausts and oppressions.

    I think states should have the right to govern themselves. That’s what a literal reversal of Roe means. A figurative reversal has to do with pushing back as hard as Roe shoved, criminalizing as hard as Roe legalized. Yes, I am aware that you’d not let up the crusade.

    You do realize that when you trivialize those who are passionate about abortion that you communicate your hardness of heart concerning the problem.

    I understand that is how fetalists perceive it, yes. If it helps, feminists find states’ rights views just as trivializing, etc. But this just shows how they both have way more in common than either would want to admit. Sort of like Fundamentalists and Liberals.

  146. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Bret, your Bill Clinton moment aside (I felt the pain of your biting your lower lip in your last comment), your passion about abortion does not make you right, nor does it give you license to trivialize the views of others. Oh wait, I forgot. It does. It’s the sixth commandment-red-letter edition of the Bible.

  147. April 2, 2009 at 7:36 am

    I’ve long suspected that you gentleman’s (in this case Zrim and DGH but I’ve seen this in other people) recalcitrance, seeming embarrassment, and playing down of the abortion issue was indicative of the fact that you really didn’t believe it to be a problem. There are those in your movement (The Irons come immediately to mind) that seem to believe the same about the burgeoning homosexuality movement. I’ve always gotten the impression with you people that these issues disappoint you because you seem to think that if the church would just pretend that these issues weren’t important why then more people could get saved by your Jesus.

    Your reasoning seems to be something like ….

    Taking a stand on these issue make people upset with Christians. People who are upset with Christians won’t listen to what Christians say. People who won’t listen to what Christians say won’t get saved.

    Solution — Christians need to quit having articulated convictions or at the very least mute their convictions about what make people upset so that Jeeeeeeeeeesus can save more people.

    Finally, if I pull reductios on your silly argumentation and so easily trivialize it you only have yourself to blame. Quit arguing in a silly manner and I won’t be able to trivialize it or you.

  148. April 2, 2009 at 7:41 am

    DGH,

    Your just like the terrorist that is about to be apprehended and then in a crowded place turns and points to undercover cop and yells …. TERRORIST.

    You are slippery and clever and speak with such a smooth and forked tongue.

    Now excuse me … its time for my Laudanum.

  149. April 2, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Well, I guess just get back to me when you finally decide what I am. I’m getting too old and inflexible for the sort of hyper leap-froging you’re doing (general anti-nomian, to public square anti-nomian, to pagan pronomian, to now a combo of anti/pronomian—all in just a few comments).

    Apparently you are also getting to old to follow a simple argument.

    1.) All antinomians are at the same time pro-nomians for another god’s law.

    I narrowed down to public square antinomians only in order to be more precise, but keep in mind that all public square antinomians are also public square pronomians for another god’s law.

    Now, there … that was so simple that even somebody with the R2Kt virus could follow it.

    But I like both quite a bit. I have three females in my house, all of whom used to be babies at one time.

    This only proves that you like your females and your babies. I suppose I should salute you for that much. It does not prove that you like all women and all babies. Your willingness to let states decide whether or not they would murder babies is indicative that you don’t.

    Let me ask you something Steve. What if Illinois passed a law that said that children up to 5 years old could be exterminated since they are not yet developmentally speaking a “person.” Would that be OK in Steve Zrimec’s world? What if Michigan passed a law allowing Sharia Law to be the law for large Muslim communities (Dearborn)? Would states rights be acceptable on that issue? Where does Steve Zrimec draw the line in his hyper libertarian anarchy?

    I understand that is how fetalists perceive it

    Behold the truth spills out. They are not unborn babies in the womb but only fetuses.

    Tell me Steve how do you know this? Tell me, when does the developing child move from fetus to unborn human being and also tell me how you know that.

    I mean take pity on me and enlighten me Steve … I’m just a bumpkin fetalist after all.

  150. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 2, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Interesting. That’s a different view than DGH and Zrim, I think.

    The “penology of eye for eye” is very Chuck Colson-y, which is certainly anathema in some 2K circles.

    Jeff Cagle

  151. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Bret, if you blogged less and read more, you might actually see some difference between the position I’m trying to carve out and the one that Misty and Lee Irons have attempted. I’m not saying that I disagree with them, but I do think you have captured their position better than you have mine. I know it takes more time to read a book, but I have a couple I’d recommend.

    Also, one thing you fail to consider is that the stress on abortion may lead some people to think that women’s ordination is something they can live with. I’m not saying that ordaning women is a greater offense than taking the lives of babies in the womb. Nor am I sure that the sin of Nadab and Abihu is worse than ordaining women.

  152. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Bret, I’ll let Steve answer for himself, but I’m betting he draws the line of his hyper libertarian anarchy at the communion known at the Christian Reformed Church.

  153. April 2, 2009 at 8:09 am

    DGH,

    I’d be glad to compare the number of books and pages I’ve read in the last 12 months with you or with anyone for that matter.

  154. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I’m not sure where to add this comment, as it is not a response to anyone specifically, but someone on the other theonomy thread, I forget who, noted well that theonomy is mostly an American phenomenon. I would add a modern American phenomenon. There are at least two aspects of theonomy that tie in well with modern America.

    First is the Internet, mass media, everybody-is-an-expect culture we find ourselves in. Where Hollywood actors talk publicly as political experts, where complicated legal and political realities are narrowed down to 30 second sound bites, where in the Internet age everyone is an expert on almost everything, theonomy fits well into this culture. With theonomy, Christians with no economic and political training are now experts on government policy; they know better than everyone else what should be done politically, because, well – they are Christians and have Bibles.

    We are not shocked to hear a Christian say, “I am not a medical expert, ask a doctor,” or, “I don’t know much about engines, ask a mechanic.” Yet imagine how shocked on a Sunday morning you’d be, if in a discussion after the service on political and legal matters, a believer would say, “I don’t know much about how to solve that, I am not an economist, or lawmaker, etc…” How refreshing that would be, yet the culture warrior mentality will not stand for such humility.

    Secondly, in a culture that modern conservatives consider going to hell in a hand basket, theonomy plays into our natural desires to establish a good-guy, bad guy world, where we are always the good guys. Socialism vs. capitalism, pro-life vs. pro-choice, theonomy vs. anti-nomianism, etc… Complicated and difficult issues are boiled down to a good-guy bag guy approach. The reality that we are all lawbreakers in our hearts becomes minimized, and law-breakers vs. law-keepers becomes the focal point of our self-identity.

    T David Gordon, in his excellent new book, “Why Johnny Can’t Preach,” considers this temptation as he writes:

    “Many people love to live in their imagined and self-made world of good guys and bad guys, to be reminded that there are good people and bad people and that they are among the good. Indeed, the appetite for this Manichean worldview is apparently insatiable for some; they appear psychologically incapable of functioning apart from it. And many ministers are willing to accommodate them” (pg. 86).

    Todd

  155. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Bret:

    The first to level the accusation is often the one to whom it applies. First labelig folks here heretics, then comparing them to Diotrephes, and now calling folks terrorists?

    At least Darryl asks you to consider before he simply labels.

    You sir, do label yourself. I know my opinion is not high in your estimation, but might I ask you to consider:

    > If we really are so many Diotrephes, then have we not sufficiently demonstrated we are incorrigible? If this is your conviction, I urge you to recommend your final anethema against us and our houses, and then go away.

    > If, however, you see us as brother who are erring, then sir, change your tone. The tone you use is good for heretics (wolves) who would destroy the flock. It is not for brothers you are hoping might be granted repentance (2Tim 2:25.)

    And let’s not complain that I’m only icking on you because I disagree with you and not Darryl. (I actually probably disagree with Darryl enough that I’d likely make him want to pull out some hair.)

    No Bret, you deserve these rebukes because you are an indiscriminant maligner of the brethren. Yes, a maligner. This is not the first time you’ve been challenged for calling folks here names that in effect assign them to the fires of hell – and not merely in response to them saying that of you – often merely because you disagree with them.

    It is not right, it is not consistent with the gospel, end of story.

  156. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:38 am

    JPC (again, I’m sorry, but what is your name):

    I follow your track. So what role do you perceive for the God’s (general revelation) natural law (as taught in Rom 1-2)?

    It seems that you are arguing for any absolute role for God’s (special revelation) Mosaic law, and denying any role for God’s (general revelation) natural law.

    What is the biblical basis for this?

  157. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Bret:

    You do not speak for me, or any 2k person I know. I affirm the general equity principle.

    Your grossly mischaraterize (misunderstand?) the position.

  158. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Darryl:

    Please don’t bait Bret. Hhallenge his arguments, but please refrain from rhetoric challenging him personally.

    And, no, lest anyone complain, I’m doing my best to not ignore anyone else doing that, including Bret.

  159. April 2, 2009 at 9:45 am

    “I forget who, noted well that theonomy is mostly an American phenomenon. I would add a modern American phenomenon. There are at least two aspects of theonomy that tie in well with modern America.”

    Look, I really try to be patient with people but this is just a terribly ignorant statement by Todd. Even perhaps the biggest opponent of Theonomy could refute the above quote,

    ““At the same time it must be said that Chalcedon is not without roots in respectable ecclesiastical tradition. It is in fact a revival of certain teachings contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith – at least in the Confession’s original formulations…. The (defacto) revision (of the confession), however, has left us with standards whose proper legal interpretation is perplexed by ambiguities, and the claim of Chalcedon is that it is the true champion of confessional orthodoxy. Ecclesiastical courts operating under the Westminster Confession of Faith are going to have their problems, therefore, if they should be of a mind to bring the Chalcedon aberration under their judicial scrutiny.”

    Meredith Kline “Comments on an Old New Error”

    Note that the title of Kline’s work, “Comments on an Old New Error” clearly communicates that theonomy is not a modern American phenomenon but rather it is in keeping with the historic Westminster confession in its original drafting. The bold section above clearly reveals Todd to be a person who is grasping for straws in order to discredit theonomy. Theonomy is not originally American, nor is it remotely a modern American phenomenon and to say to the contrary on either point is just plain ignorance.

    “First is the Internet, mass media, everybody-is-an-expect culture we find ourselves in. Where Hollywood actors talk publicly as political experts, where complicated legal and political realities are narrowed down to 30 second sound bites, where in the Internet age everyone is an expert on almost everything, theonomy fits well into this culture. With theonomy, Christians with no economic and political training are now experts on government policy; they know better than everyone else what should be done politically, because, well – they are Christians and have Bibles.”

    This statement assumes that all because some idiots who pretend to be other people for a living are taken for experts by our culture therefore any person who offers insights cross professionally they must be idiots.

    Second, this statement assumes that it is impossible to be a renaissance man. Pastors, of all people, should be the kind of renaissance men who have the capacity to speak cross professionally.

    Third, this statement assumes that pastors don’t have economic or political training. If Todd were to bother looking at some of our degrees he might see that we have had some training in these areas.

    Fourth, this statement assumes that disciplines are compartmentalized from each other so that a knowledge of some fundamental unity understood by a person might give them the capacity to speak in a inter-disciplinary fashion. I would contend that as Theology remains the Queen of the sciences and as such, those with a knowledge of theology will always be able to speak in a inter-disciplinary fashion.

    Fifth, this statement assumes that experts with training in their fields know what they are talking about. The above statement does nothing to distinguish quack economists or political theorists from those who are credible. What it suggests is that some kind of acknowledged training from some kind of accredited institution is enough for people to be experts. It does not take into account the reality that those who begin with false premises will end with false conclusion no matter how many degrees they have after their name. Speaking only for myself, I would not take to seriously anybody who has been trained in any field in one of our humanist Universities only on the account that they have degrees from those Universities.

    Sixth, this statement casts aspersions of the wisdom of God’s Word.

    All in all the quote immediately above is a woefully ignorant statement.

    “We are not shocked to hear a Christian say, “I am not a medical expert, ask a doctor,” or, “I don’t know much about engines, ask a mechanic.” Yet imagine how shocked on a Sunday morning you’d be, if in a discussion after the service on political and legal matters, a believer would say, “I don’t know much about how to solve that, I am not an economist, or lawmaker, etc…” How refreshing that would be, yet the culture warrior mentality will not stand for such humility.”

    Personally, I would find it refreshing if the R2Kt cultural warriors who are warriors for their own desired culture would read something that would allow them to talk intelligently about culture. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear them say … “I don’t know much about how theology affects culture, I only think compartmentally.”

    “Secondly, in a culture that modern conservatives consider going to hell in a hand basket, theonomy plays into our natural desires to establish a good-guy, bad guy world, where we are always the good guys. Socialism vs. capitalism, pro-life vs. pro-choice, theonomy vs. anti-nomianism, etc… Complicated and difficult issues are boiled down to a good-guy bag guy approach. The reality that we are all lawbreakers in our hearts becomes minimized, and law-breakers vs. law-keepers becomes the focal point of our self-identity.

    So, what Todd is saying that if we think like him we will be a good guy and if we don’t think like him we will be a bad guy. Hmmmm…. it sounds like Todd is taking a complicated and difficult issue and boiling it down to a bad guy vs. good guy approach.

    Todd’s statement is just a fancy way of saying that “all cultures are equal,” or that “all religions are equal.” This is just a refusal to be willing to say that Christianity is superior and that Christian culture is superior to all other options. No theonomist I know of insists that the problems that we face are not complicated or difficult though they are not ashamed to insist that biblical approaches are superior to unbiblical approaches.

    T David Gordon, in his excellent new book, “Why Johnny Can’t Preach,” considers this temptation as he writes:

    “Many people love to live in their imagined and self-made world of good guys and bad guys, to be reminded that there are good people and bad people and that they are among the good. Indeed, the appetite for this Manichean worldview is apparently insatiable for some; they appear psychologically incapable of functioning apart from it. And many ministers are willing to accommodate them” (pg. 86).

    And this is exactly what Todd is doing in this post. Todd is living in his imagined and self-made world of good guys and bad guys and he is reminding us that R2Kt guys like himself as good guys and the evil theonomists are bad guys. Todd has revealed his Manichean worldview and how his appetite is insatiable for a view that can psychologically make him capable of functioning. It is sad that he is a minister who has such a view.

  160. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Bret,

    DGH is right, my line is drawn at 28th and Kalamazoo.

    But, look, my point wasn’t to get into a row with you over some specific politics, etc., especially since it predictably spirals off into the absurd. My point is that, well, there are two kingdoms and they are ruled differently by Jesus, that the believer stands in that precarious nexus between them. But now we’re getting down to brass tacks. You don’t believe that. You believe there is one kingdom which should be ruled one way. The problem is that, to the extent this is the human default setting, this is exactly what everyone from Catholics to Evangelicals to Liberals to all manner of false religionists also believe.

  161. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 10:04 am

    Brett,

    In your zeal to defend all things holy and law-abiding, you ought to stop and breathe a little before responding. To say theonomy is a mostly modern American phenomenon is not to suggest the roots of such teaching cannot be found in church history. Dispensationalism is largely an American phenomenon, though it began in Ireland, and there were earlier forms of chiliasm in church history, but disp. in its modern form found a home mostly on American soil.

    The Rushdoony reconstruction movement has found a home mostly in the United States. I’ll let others argue whether Rushdoony, Bahnsen, North, etc.. were simply returning to the original teachings of the Westminster divines; I don’t think so.

    As to the rest of your response…sigh…never mind.

    Todd

  162. April 2, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Come on Todd ….

    Something can’t be both a modern American phenomenon while having roots in the Westminster confession and while having Fathers among the Westminster Divines.

  163. April 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

    You don’t have two Kingdoms Steve. You have three.

    1.) Spiritual Kingdom
    2.) Common Realm Kingdom
    3.) The Kingdom that exists that is comprised of both Kingdoms.

    Maybe I should call it R3Kt instead.

    My position if Sphere sovereignty which is something other then what you accused me of.

  164. Chris Zodrow said,

    April 2, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I assume the covenant at Sinai was essentially the same as that of the “kainos diatheka” in Christ. Although the form has changed, the substance of it has not: Christ was the center then, as He is now. Yes, there is development, but it is not to the destruction of the prior covenant, rather, it is fulfillment and expansion.

    So, your assertions would apply to the Mosaic, in as much as you apply them to the “kainos diatheka”. That is, dispositional considerations are made dominate by you, to the exclusion of normative and situational ones. This is a lopsided ethic.

  165. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 2, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Colin Tayler’s replies to post 10 are filled with numerous misunderstandings and errors. It is only a small minority of writers who advocate the complete irrelevance of Mosaic judicials today, the vast majority are couching the discussion in terms of “Which laws apply today and why?” For an example of the latter see Vern Poythress, “The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses.”

    I did not mean Bahnsen “reduced” his views to the axiom quoted in the sense of “changing” his views, but in the sense of “summarizing” them in an axiom.

    That Bahnsen’s axiom is not compatible with WCF 19:4 has been demonstrated by, among others, lawfully ordained Presbyterian elder Ligon Duncan in “The Westminster Confession of Faith: A Theonomic Document?” http://www.providencepca.com/essays/theonomy.html
    The contradiction between Bahnsen and Duncan proves that God has not, contra Colin’s implication, gifted Presbyterian teaching elders with papal infallability in their understandings of doctrine. Either Bahnsen or Duncan is right and the rest of us must determine which. The WCF tells us that settlements of religious controversies are to be made on the basis of either Scriptural statements or statements derived therefrom by good and necessary consequence, not by an a priori limitation of particpants in the discussion. And as Colin has been repeatedly reminded, on the subject of the Mosaic judicials contemporary applicability, the WCF and LBC are identical in substance.

    In previous discussions with Colin where the subjects were Bahsnen’s exegetical competence or lack thereof and
    the correctness of his understing of WCF 19:4, the question of particular laws contemporary applicability was not precisely on topic. My own view is that any Mosaic law must be considered valid today if it can be shown that it is required in today’s different context by general equity. And I have never said that 19:4 alone is enough. Rather I have said that 19:4 provides the hermenutical key which, when applied to pre-Mosaic instruction, Mosaic judical and social laws, prophetic commentary thereon and NT teaching, enables us to determine which Mosaic laws remain valid today.

    WCF 23:3 of the original WCF also does not establish Bahnsen’s Theonomy. For if the laws governing violations of the first table do remain valid by general equity today, the magistrate does have the duty to enforce them without arriving at that duty on the basis of Bahnsen’s hermeneutic. It is rather ironic that Theonomists have uncritically swallowed Kline’s misuderstanding of the WCF at this point: surely they of all people would have had to test his argument for soundness before employing it. As Duncan has shown in the essay previously cited, Kline got this one wrong too.

    The real problems with Bahnsen’s Theonomy are that his hermeneutic cannot be derived from Scripture nor can it be shown to be Confessional. For a free copy of the first full length demonstration of these points written from the Reformed perspective, contact the undersigned at timmopussycat@yahoo.ca. Ask for a copy of “How Firm A Foundation?” Commenting on this book, Dr. John DeWitt (Bahnsen’s department chair at RTS), writes as follows: “If Theonomy is still widely received and credited, your book is much needed. I was amazed at the thoroughness with which you have done your work. You have brought together a prodigious amount of material [and] have…organized it with painstaking care. I should think also that the case you make is unanswerable. I am deeply impressed with your accomplishment. Without question you have gone far beyond what others have done who have engaged the Theonomists from a biblical and theological perspective. Greg Bahnsen’s disciples will certainly attempt to refute your work, but as I see it the field is yours.”

  166. Chris Zodrow said,

    April 2, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Further to the point. If we say that “yes the Mosaic law applies to the kingdom (in your reading, the church), but not to the state” we imply a sort of double truth:”true here, false there”. What applies outside the church is in fact “natural law” which is a sort of malleable thing in the hands of the magistrate.

    This sounds much like the same thing that the Neo-Aristoteleans were saying following Thomas’ lead in the 13th century. Siger of Brabant suggested this notion as the “Double-truth” doctrine.

    Much of this might hinge on the how we understand the Kingdom. If we identity it with the church alone, then I can understand your conclusions. But, the dichotomy it creates between the sacred and secular might just put you back in the Middle Ages.

  167. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Bret,

    Actually, triadalism goes:

    1) Kingdom of man,
    2) Kingdom of God and
    3) Common ground

    The third is not a kingdom, it’s just where we find ourselves most of the time, even those of us who seem lost and think the (and others) can only be in one of the previous kingdoms. And, no, despite your darts of neutrality, common ground is not understood to be unruly because Kuyper was right: there is no square inch that doesn’t belong to Jesus.

    I forgot to iterate another point I am wanting to make. When I suggest that there are different ways of solving temporal problems the standard-issue theonomic response blows hard and tells us this is false: there is only one set of answers to just about anything you can come up with, and, lo, they resemble the ideological traits of very particular groups (see Todd’s point about how American theonomy is). I’ll leave it to rational minds to figure out how theonomy just doesn’t square with the real world we all live in. All one has to do, evidently, is suggest that states should be able to rule themselves.

  168. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 2, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Where God required it (and it was not unreasonable of him to do so) was in a particular covenantal context in which he had made a national covenant with a particular people making him head of state of that particular people. Included in that covenant were particular markers that marked Israel out as God’s people.

    The question that must be answered is not “is the death penalty an appropriate punishment for any sin” because it is. Rather the question that must be answered is this: Are contemporary states obliged to impose the death penalty for these particular crimes even though the covenantal relationship between God and modern states has changed. NB although God deserves as of right to be head of state of any and all modern nation, the difference between God and OT Israel is that he has nowhere covenanted himself to function in such a role for the modern state.

  169. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 2, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Lane, your instincts are sound. That was precisely the rationale for capital punishment given by Westminster Divine Anthony Burgess who, as a member of the subcommittee that drafted the chapter, is a critical source for what the Divines intended to mean at WCF 19:4

  170. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

    JPC you are misunderstanding a common anti-Theonomic position that Lane shares. Nobody on this view is denying that God’s revealed word has much to teach people about civil laws and which are just and which are not. But what is at issue is whether we must institute as written all Mosaic standing laws (Bahnsen’s term) that have community imposed punishments unless we have implicit or explicit Divine warrant to alter them or whether (as the Westminster Divines thought) only those where the general eqity may apply remain valid.

  171. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 2, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Contra Bahnsen, Jesus was not teaching the continuing validity of all ethical stipulations of the Law until the end of the church age in Matt. 5:17, 18 but rather he was teaching the entire immutability of the law down to its least details until he brought about its previously prophecied completion (a known meaning of the Greek word pleroo that Bahnsen simply omitted from his discussion) in the inauguration of the New Covenant. For exegetical demonstration of this claim see “How Firm A Foundation?”

  172. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    “Tell me that you don’t really advocate that parents turn their 5 year olds over to the Molech State?”

    This comment by Brett is a great example of what T. David Gordon was writing about – that culture warriors create an uncomplicated good vs. evil world. Notice no interest in what kind of public school, what area of the country, any special needs Zrim’s children might have that the public schools are better equipped to handle, whether the principle and many teachers are believers, etc…There’s Molech, and there is God’s way, and we do it God’s way. This unfortunately is the fantasy world many culture warriors, i.e., fundamentalists, create, and want gospel ministers to affirm so that they are assured that they are among the law-keepers. We need courageous young men not to give in and stick to preaching the kingdom of grace.

    Todd

  173. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    oops, that’s “principal”

  174. April 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    “The third is not a kingdom, it’s just where we find ourselves most of the time, even those of us who seem lost and think the (and others) can only be in one of the previous kingdoms.”

    It’s not a kingdom but its where we do most our living? Hence it belongs to nobody and no God and all actions that obtain there have no relation to any belief system. You can’t really believe this.

    If it is not a Kingdom then there can not be any absolute laws that obtain their since if it is not a kingdom there is no King and no law. Speaking about right and wrong in a sphere that is not a Kingdom is just ridiculous.

    The common realm that is not a Kingdom will not be neutral but neither will it be common in the sense that it is directed by no belief system.

    “And, no, despite your darts of neutrality, common ground is not understood to be unruly because Kuyper was right: there is no square inch that doesn’t belong to Jesus.

    But Jesus rules in absentia in this realm. He is a absent landlord. He doesn’t rule by revelation but by his secret decree found in providence. Jesus in this realm rules in the same way that the tooth fairy rules in the tooth realm.

    I forgot to iterate another point I am wanting to make. When I suggest that there are different ways of solving temporal problems the standard-issue theonomic response blows hard and tells us this is false: there is only one set of answers to just about anything you can come up with, and, lo, they resemble the ideological traits of very particular groups (see Todd’s point about how American theonomy is). I’ll leave it to rational minds to figure out how theonomy just doesn’t square with the real world we all live in. All one has to do, evidently, is suggest that states should be able to rule themselves.

    I’m sure Ayn Rand would applaud you.

  175. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Bret, the point wasn’t whether you read. The point is whether you read 2k views anywhere but on the Internet.

    Plus, if the 2k view is so unintelligible and incoherent, why is VanDrunen published by the Acton Institute, Eerdmans, and doing a study leave at the law school at Emory? I get it, all those institutions are compromised by the unholiness of secular society. You always have the anti-thetical trump card to play. Somehow it doesn’t work for 2850 Kalamazoo.

  176. April 2, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Todd’s comment is another example of ill informed people trying to weight in on things that they really don’t know anything about. Todd doesn’t realize that Government schools are pursuing a set agenda that is uniformly opposed to the Crown Rights Of King Jesus. People all across the ideological perspective have written books that have chronicled the dismal failure that is our government schools, and yet Todd wants to pretend that there might be some corner someplace in these united States that is safe for God’s covenant children. I’d be glad to recommend some of those books Todd if you ask.

    Obviously Todd writes the way he does as a culture warrior in order to be able to tell himself that his views are pleasing to God while the evil theonomist views are not pleasing to God. In such a way Todd can tell himself that he is on God’s side.

    In light of how the church keeps losing God’s covenant youth we need courageous young men not to be in denial about the nature of government schools and stick to preaching how the Kingdom of Christ is a Kingdom that is opposed to Satan’s Kingdom as that is found in government schools.

  177. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Todd,

    Remember, your principal is your pal–little public school trick on how to remember the spelling difference. It’s also good for making theonomists go nuts, imaigine being pals with Molech.

    Which reminds, me, bada bing on your point above. It must be nice to know exactly who the bad and good guys are all the time. But being at once saint and sinner, I find it way more complicated than that. Sinfulness is found wherever human beings are, even justified ones who want to set up sanctified outposts.

  178. April 2, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Acton is a Roman Catholic think tank.

    Eerdmans has been compromised for ages.

    And Emory? You can’t be serious can you?

    Don’t worry Darryl, 2850 Kalamazoo doesn’t like me anymore than you do.

    And I’m completely open to your R2Kt recommendations but don’t be surprised if I’ve already read some of them.

    Might I recommend to you books by Berman or Witte. I don’t always agree with them but I have found them stimulating.

    p.s. — there is no such thing as secular if by secular you mean a realm that is not driven by some Theology.

  179. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Zrim,

    Right – I don’t personally care whether our kids’ principal is a believer as long as he/she is competent; I was asking the type of questions evangelicals who tend toward fundamentalism even ask. Our local grade school principal is the best – she has the highest standards for the kids I have ever seen. We are blessed to have her.

    Todd

  180. Joe Brancaleone said,

    April 2, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    And that’s the crux of the matter as far as I’m concerned. The more approximately God draws himself covenantally to a certain people, the greater demands that the life of the people reflect the glory of heaven itself. God didn’t leave heaven to draw near, he brought a slice of heaven with him. And in heaven, there is no sin, so of course the moral law would be more intensely applied to criminalize sin when God drew so near to people capable of such sin. It’s also why the NT so obviously takes all of the Law (including civil case laws) and applies it to the functioning, well being, and discipline of the Church.

    Remember at Sinai, and the faux pas in the tabernacle and the temple and mishandling the ark of the covenant, why was *immediate death* surrounding those locales and not every situation in ever place? It was immediate divine judgment upon sin, no earthly court of law was even involved. Because the most intensely focused glory presence of God himself was associated with those locales.

    Likewise the land in general was to be a holy nation so that nothing, especially immorality and idolatry, would be co mingled with the localized glory presence of God. That was the main point of the civil law. To maintain the sanctity of the place as God encamped himself in the midst of his people, as well as to protect the people from judgment for the sins of some. Remove them from the midst lest the Lord strike out in anger against the people, lest the land itself vomit out all the people.

    Questions of applicability apart from those covenantal circumstances are inherently problematic. Really, what is the justification for surgically excising all those civil laws out of the context of seed promise and inheritance promise, conquest, sanctity, a typal showing of the glory of God among his people until the coming of Christ? To excise and then abstract them for more general aspirations of, what, finding your best life now at the socio-political level? I’m not trying to be smarmy, I’m just concerned that we firmly keep in mind the awesome glory of the giving of the Law and its stated function.

  181. Chris Zodrow said,

    April 2, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    And Jesus said, “Go, make disciples of all nations…”

    The world is His. The “covenantal circumstance” is now global. That is how “awesome” the reign of Christ is. Get busy.

    What you are suggesting is a return to a Thomistic, Neo-Aristotelean view of the world- “two truths”. It is philosophically untenable because it is unbiblical.

    As I have said in previous posts, all these “problems” have been answered in the literature.

  182. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Bret, if you had ever read anything by moi you’d know that I use secular in the Augustinian sense, not the one that’s on the back of the dollar bill that I use. I suspect you use it too. So much for your avoiding all secular uses of the secular.

  183. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Bret, I forgot to add that the reason for bringing up Acton, Eerdmans, and Emory is that for some reason those folks see something intelligible in the 2k position. It may be even more intelligible than the CRC, which I hear has been unreliable for years.

  184. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Zrim,

    To add to the point about theonomy being American, one of the ironies of theonomy is that it thrives upon the very pluralism it condemns. Theonomy is not big in China. To tell those Christians in China that they are responsible to hold their civil authorities accountable to rule by the Bible would be asking them to commit suicide. Theonomy is most abundant when freedom is allowed to create blogs where we can rebuke and insult our civil authorities without consequence.

    Todd

  185. dgh said,

    April 2, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Chris, wasn’t the Thomistic world precisely the one for which theonomists and covenanters pine? It was Christendom, where Christianity affected all realms of life. How odd that even Thomas is suspect. If Christendom wasn’t good enough, what would be? Be careful how you answer. No immanentizing the eschaton.

  186. April 2, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Well that Acton, Eerdmans, and Emory would see something intelligible in R2Kt is like telling me that pigs see something attractive in slop.

  187. April 2, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Not to worry Todd … Mao will never feel threatened by you. You have a Jesus that even Mao would love.

  188. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Todd,

    Just say Mao to theonomy.

  189. Joe Brancaleone said,

    April 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    “And Jesus said, “Go, make disciples of all nations…”

    The world is His. The “covenantal circumstance” is now global. That is how “awesome” the reign of Christ is. Get busy.”

    And the Great Commission commenced in Acts, where we can already discern its character and goals. And we continue to see and experience it even now when we gather with the saints, all those from among the nations, gathered at the throne.

    Yes, indeed, the reign of Christ is so awesome the author of the Hebrews spends the first two chapters on proving it. Yet, yet, yet, at present we do not “see” everything in subjection to him (cognitive dissonance much?), a reality the author pushes to the world to come. So the awesome glory of His reign certainly does not depend on empirically demonstrable evidences at present. At least according to that author. At present, it certainly will appear the present age continues to be subjected to angels and principalities.

    Which is one of the main reasons why the Church is still called a household of *faith* after Christ has already ascended to the right of God in his glory. “At present we do not see” . . . everything in subjection to Him.

    How do you baptize government institutions anyways?

  190. Chris Zodrow said,

    April 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Todd,
    Historically it can be argued that theonomy, or shall we say, a Biblical philosophy of man, is the foundation of pluralism, ie a context in which debate can take place without the threat of the sword.

    China lives under atheist humanism. The foundations are slowly being built by the saints there so that there will come a day when they will be able to talk openly. Time and pressure. Would you have them stay under atheist humanism? That is a bizarre and defeatist expectation. It is cruel.

    About your choice of the public school system. Again, there are dichotomies and antithesis that you are not admitting. There is something wrong in your soul. This is not just an intellectual debate.

  191. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Todd,

    More seriously, good point. Theonomy doesn’t seem to grasp that the Christian life may be summed up on one word: obedience. It has no way of making sense of Mark 12 (render unto Caesar–the point has more to do with submission than making sure one’s W2 is on the up-and-up). But it plays well to a culture that champions civil DISOBEDIENCE. It is highly ironic that those who want everyone to fall in line are the same ones who end up nurturing rebellion. But Paul says that to undermine Caesar (whtehr he is Mao or the Gipper) is to undermine Yahweh.

  192. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    “Well that Acton, Eerdmans, and Emory would see something intelligible in R2Kt is like telling me that pigs see something attractive in slop.”

    Brett,

    You wouldn’t happen to run a Leftorium, would you?

  193. Todd said,

    April 2, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Zrim,

    More good stuff, thanks. It is ironic that Pilate, who examined our Lord and determined that he was not a threat to the political order, understood the ministry of Christ better than many theonomists. (As well, Agrippa saw Paul as no threat politically, even after hearing him boldly preach the gospel – Acts 26:31)

    Todd

  194. April 2, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    No, I do a brisk sales in my store that caters to those who have been intellectually inbred. You wouldn’t believe how good of a living a guy can make off of selling goods to those people.

    Could I interest you in something for a loved one perhaps?

  195. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Bret: again, bad taste. “Leftorium” is jest with mild sarcasm. “Inbred” and “loved one” is belittling and derogatory, inappropriate.

    Stop it.

  196. Chris Zodrow said,

    April 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Todd,
    The irony of you quoting from Gordon is that your basic ideas would create a Manichean world, where Christians have nothing to do with economic, civil, medical, aesthetic issues. We should all just hunker down and realize how very stupid we are. Todd, you are at odds with yourself.

    I realize that I am no expert on economics, but I would be glad to have someone who is, and who understands the issues, to speak from a biblical philosophical perspective on it. Who has done that? Why, Gary North! Dive into his literature, then get back to us about how dumb and ignorant the theonomists are.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  197. Chris Zodrow said,

    April 2, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    One thing that is becoming clear as this thread has progressed is that most of the opposition to theonomy is coming from guys who have read other guys who have a problem with theonomy.

    Has anyone here, who has a problem with theonomy, read anything that the theonomists have written, excluding Greg Bahnsen or Rushdoony?
    Sutton, Jordan, Chilton, North, Grant, etc?

    PS- Lane, can we start a new thread?

  198. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Chris:

    Yes. In have read all these authors (and others), from the early 80’s when it was first getting started. I include among my friends and aquaintances a number of first generation theonomists, including Ken Gentry.

    Yes, I disagree with theonomy. Yes, many others writing here have even better first hand knowledge than I do. Our critiques are well informed.

    Maybe you are the one who needs to do more study – offered sincerely.

  199. Lauren Kuo said,

    April 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    I lost the thread of the discussion in the last several comments but I will dive in anyway. I believe the church always grows under persecution and hostile governments. For, Christianity transcends earthly governments. If our goal is to go and make disciples of all nations, then it really does not matter what government is in power. I think of the growth of the Chinese church under tremendous persecution by the government. Bad government does not seem to prevent Christianity from growing – it seems to promote it. I am very concerned for the moral and economic collapse of our own government. But, I can also be encouraged that these difficult times will bring about a spiritual revival in our country. The answer is not theonomy – a set of moral laws for immoral people to follow. The answer is for God in His grace to change hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. Hearts that will want to please God – repentant hearts of faith.

    Theonomy tries to legislate Christianity. You can force a person to obey what you believe are Christian laws, for that won’t change their hearts. And, it won’t make them Christians. What is the goal of theonomy? Is it to bring the gospel to the lost? Or, is it just another form of legalism? No different from Islam which enforces very strict laws of morality but does nothing to change a person’s heart? The old saying, you can live in a garage, but that won’t make you a car.

    Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. If you do not love Jesus, you will not have the ability to obey Him. Obedience comes from a love relationship with Jesus, not from adhering a set of religious rules. Love has to come first. And, we can only love, because He first loved us.

  200. April 2, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    “Theonomy tries to legislate Christianity”. No, it doesn’t. This is another straw man. read the literature, as this idea is debunked again and again.

    Reed,
    The reason I suggested the absence of veritas en radice, is because pretty much all of the issues, straw-men and otherwise, that are being suggested in the threads as problems have been addressed by the literature. And, no one seems to actually be attempting to answer to questions being brought up by those who are defending the notion. There is a whole lot of misdirection, characterization and misinformation being spread, by you as well as others, that would not be happening if the actual literature was being read.

    It is one thing to disagree, it is another to falsely characterize the position. If for nothing but the sake of honest scholarship, I would hope for that the opposite would happen. Even heathens deserve to be properly represented before we critique their views.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  201. April 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Again, apologies for the atrocious grammar. I’s not adept at typing fast.
    c

  202. Reed Here said,

    April 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Chris:

    Hogwash :-). Show one misdirection, (mischaracerization), or (mis) information I have spread. You can’t because I have not.

    I’ll expect a retraction when you realize this. Then you can offer the same to the rest of your opponents here.

    As to proper and honest representation, I thnik both sides are delving into what they believe are the inferences of their opponents position. Those with some wisdom do so via asking questions.

    Those acting foolishly merely label their opponents and assume their inferences are good and necessary without spending the time to prove it.

    If you care to debate someone’s wrong inference, do so.

    Please do not waste our time with such debate tactics. They are simply not true.

    I appreciate your gentility in offering this criticism. Nevertheless, and again – put up or retract and try another tack.

  203. Andrew said,

    April 2, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Mao or the Gipper, — how about Nebuchadnezzar. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were so lucky (I use the term intentionally) to live when civil disobedience was winked at by God — or is it your position that those three were actually sinning by disobeying the king, both in refusing his appointed food (Dan 1) and not bowing to the image (Dan 3)?

    Really though, Mao? Mao!!! Dude, that’s like saying “Amen!” to the martyring of those Christians that continued to be Christians after Mao outlawed it. So when the government says deny/repudiate Christ the Christian is to obey? I sure hope Mr Zrim never has to face that choice for himself.

    What’s next — are you going to condemn the smuggling of bibles into North Korea or Saudi Arabia? Even in China, N. Korea and Saudi Arabia some things actually do belong to God, and those things still have to be rendered unto Him.

    Agrippa and Pilate may not have seen Christianity as a threat, but Mao sure did.

  204. Colin said,

    April 2, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    You want real irony?

    Todd asserts that an unbeliever like Pilate “understood the ministry of Christ better than many theonomists” despite the latter being Christian believers.

    Logically then, Todd should count unbelievers and reprobates like Pilate among his close spiritual brothers, and certainly not any Bible believing Theonomist.

    As for Christ and Paul not being a political threat to Rome, both Pilate and Agrippa were greatly mistaken. Though they rightly deduced that there was no *immediate* political threat to Rome, they did not anticipate the long term threat that Christianity posed against pagan Rome (and all other pagan empires). A threat which came to fruition a few hundred years later when Imperial Rome ceased to exist as an Empire while Christianity expanded (both geographically and politically and spiritually)

    Christianity, even Theonomic Christianity, is not supposed to be an immediate political threat to any nation. It is however a long term threat to any godless nation, just as the gospel of sovereign grace is a long term threat to any godless person (by eventually converting them or hardening them in judgment).

  205. Lauren Kuo said,

    April 2, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    “Theonomy tries to legislate Christianity”. No, it doesn’t. This is another straw man. read the literature, as this idea is debunked again and again.

    Let me rephrase my statement as an opinion and maybe you could be so kind as to give me a couple of examples from your “literature” where this idea is “debunked”.

    I believe that theonomy is an attempt to legislate Christianity. I don’t believe one can legislate what is solely the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart.

  206. Colin said,

    April 2, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Zrim said:

    “Theonomy doesn’t seem to grasp that the Christian life may be summed up on one word: obedience.”

    That is not contra-Theonomic per se, however the real issue is, obedience to what? What law are we (and the civil magistrate, Christian or not) to obey?

    Even antinomians “obey” some law (a law unto themselves). Just as Atheists “believe” in a “god”, the god of reason, or whatever they presuppose as absolutely true.

    “It [Theonomy] has no way of making sense of Mark 12 (render unto Caesar–the point has more to do with submission than making sure one’s W2 is on the up-and-up).”

    Only Theonomy can make sense of Mark 12 since it rightly distinguishes between qualified obedience to magistrates (as per the 5th commandment and Rom 13), and the Biblical limits to that obedience (Acts 4:29).

    Remember too that the other part of that verse is “render unto God the things that are God’s”. Which also means that even Caesar must render unto God as well, since He is the King of Kings.

    But non-Theonomists cannot give a satisfactory account of how Caesar is to “render unto God the things that are God’s. IOW they cannot explain how civil magistrates are to submit to God since they assume that their imagined kingdom of men is free from such moral obligation.

    “…it [Theonomy] plays well to a culture that champions civil DISOBEDIENCE. It is highly ironic that those who want everyone to fall in line are the same ones who end up nurturing rebellion.”

    In the context of Theonomy, “civil disobedience” is simply obedience to God as per Acts 4:29 along with historical precedence found among the Protestant Reformers, English Puritans and Scottish Covenanters. IOW its to disobedience to political tyranny, not to lawful governments.

    “rebellion” is not a necessarily a sin if it is done in obedience to God’s revealed law. Therefore such “rebellion” IS “obedience” by Christian standards and not by worldly standards.

    “But Paul says that to undermine Caesar (whtehr he is Mao or the Gipper) is to undermine Yahweh.”

    But that is not all what the Bible teaches on the topic of Caesar or civil governments. We must take all of the Bible into account (2 Tim 3:16-17), and not just the Pauline epistles when studying Christian ethics and application.

  207. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Andrew,

    Refusing his appointed food (Dan 1) and not bowing to the image (Dan 3) were refusals to participate in idolatry. So, denying Christ is indeed a bad thing. But I’m not doing with “obedience” what the theonomist does with Scripture, namely “apply it to every square inch” indiscriminately. There are two kinds of disobedience, one bad (to not render Caesar his due and undermine him) and one good (not worshipping Caesar). It’s all about cult and culture.

    And smuggling bibles into China is a good thing.

  208. Colin said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Lauren, if you are going to accuse Theonomy of teaching that it is merely “an attempt to legislate Christianity”, then the burden of proof is on you to provide the literature sources to back up that claim.

    As for your last sentence, “I don’t believe one can legislate what is solely the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart.”, you will find that every single Theonomist will agree with you on that point.

    Theonomy is not about legislating Christian conversion or sanctification. Its about what should be the moral standard be for all ethical decision making? Including also what moral standard should the civil magistrate use when forming public policy that is pleasing to God? (e.g. banning abortion, suppressing sexual perversion, and public idolatry, etc)

    You might respond by saying, “well a Holy Spirit converted person would not do any of those sins”. granted, but as you know, not everyone is under the Holy Spirit’s converting power. There are many outwardly wicked people in this world, murderers, rapists, thieves, etc who are not under the convicting power of the HS (1 Tim 1:8-10), yet the civil magistrate needs to restrain them somehow (Rom 13:1-4). Hence, Theonomy asks, By what standard should any civil law be based? Upon God’s infallible Word? or fallen man’s wisdom?

    No law will convert any person, however all laws do serve to function as restraints upon human behaviour which is why God gave us civil governments (and civil laws) as a form a common grace, so that special grace will have the freedom to flourish wherever the HS chooses to work.

    For more on Theonomy, see:

    “What Is “Theonomy”?

    http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe180.htm

  209. Zrim said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Colin,

    Remember too that the other part of that verse is “render unto God the things that are God’s”. Which also means that even Caesar must render unto God as well, since He is the King of Kings.

    Right, obey Caesar (don’t worship him), only worship God. He was telling his people to obey Caesar, not Caesar to kiss the Son. But if the latter were true, and Caesar is to bend the knee to Jesus, what gives with the silent treatment to Pilate?

    But that is not all what the Bible teaches on the topic of Caesar or civil governments. We must take all of the Bible into account (2 Tim 3:16-17), and not just the Pauline epistles when studying Christian ethics and application.

    Who said anything about parts swallowing the whole? The whole Bible teaches 2K and some parts make it crystal clear.

  210. Colin said,

    April 2, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    “”Colin replies to post 10 are filled with numerous misunderstandings and errors.””

    Reply: Tim asserts the above about nearly everyone he strongly disagrees with. Apparently only Tim himself is free from making “numerous misunderstandings and errors”.

    “”It is only a small minority of writers who advocate the complete irrelevance of Mosaic judicials today””

    Reply: Not so, the vast majority of Christian writers on the topic of Christian ethics presume the irrelevance of the Mosaic judicials today, just because they are from Moses and found in the OT. If this were not the case, then Theonomy would never have been seen as controversial over the past 30 years.

    “”the vast majority are couching the discussion in terms of “Which laws apply today and why?” For an example of the latter see Vern Poythress, “The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses.””

    Reply: Again, not so. At best they will concede the validity of the OT death penalty for murder, but not because its commanded in the Mosaic laws, but because its found in the conveniently vague Noahic covenant.

    As for Poythress, Bahnsen already commended him as a “Theonomist”, albeit a weaker version of one. Yet Poythress’s effort at Christian ethics, is more of an exception than an example of common perspective. His work is certainly not praised for his positive use of the 2nd table of the decalogue and the OT civil sanctions. Nor for his highly important chapter critique of “Prisons” (which IMO ought to be published separately as a pamphlet or as an online article).

    So while in one sense, Poythress’s 1994 work is welcome, it unfortunately has not inspired other writers to expound on Biblical law in the same way that Bahnsen and Rushdoony have inspired others. Most Christian writers are content at Theonomy bashing, or Theonomist bashing, or both, whenever the topic is broached.

    (For those not aware, Dr. Bahnsen replied to Poythress’s book in an Appendix to No Other Standard). Both works are worth reading in respect to learning the similarities and differences between them on the topic of Theonomy. As well as learning at how much Poythress greatly differs from the Westminster Divines and John Calvin. (e.g: Poythress does not believe that both tables of the decalogue are to be enforced by the civil magistrate, particularly the first table)

  211. Andrew said,

    April 2, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Your invoking of Mao was very offensive. Maybe you should think twice before you, while in comfy America talk about the sinfulness of undermining Mao Tse-tung.

    You say you are

    not doing with “obedience” what the theonomist does with Scripture, namely “apply it to every square inch” indiscriminately.

    But that is exactly what you are doing by placing “undermining him” where you do.

    Under Nebuchadnezzar, Caesar and Mao there was no separation of Church and State, cult and culture. Remember in China it was called the “cultural revolution” . So your appeal to cult vs culture in the case of Mao and China is total FAIL.

    To fail to worship Caesar was to necessarily undermine him. That’s why it was so offensive to him. As long as you categorize “undermine” as sinful disobedience you are condemning all Christians that live under specifically anti-Christian or totalitarian regimes as being in sin by virtue of their being Christians. Their very existence is considered seditious. Are you going to strip governments of the right to determine what sedition is — since that’s really what “undermine him” means?

    You have no defence in natural law since to argue natural law to a tyrant is to undermine him. Don’t believe me — move to N. Korea and take it up with Kim Jong-il.

    Finally, my object is not to debate you, since we have no common ground. I just could not let go unanswered your suggestion (by your invocation of the name of Mao) that the absolute tyranny of Mao and his well known persecution of Christians was legitimate exercise of lawful authority.

    It is truly a sign of the decline of our times that no one else objects to the stated legitimacy of one of the most notorious violent revolutionary tyrants that came to power not simply by undermining the lawful Chinese government of the time but by taking arms and by violent murderous coup de’tat overthrowing it while he marched across the country slaughtering any loyal to the lawful government. Sad and shameful.

  212. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Andrew (sorry but there is no reply button under your comment): do you think a theonomic approach to Mao would have been any more successful? Is that what you’re suggesting when you say natural law would give no leverage? Also, wouldn’t a theonomic regime be a lot like a totalitarian oneof Asia? Would non-Christians be in a position legally to dissent?

  213. Todd said,

    April 3, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Andrew wrote:

    “Logically then, Todd should count unbelievers and reprobates like Pilate among his close spiritual brothers, and certainly not any Bible believing Theonomist.”

    That’s some pretty skewed logic. In common grace unbelievers often can “get” things Christians miss. In this case, Pilate and Agrippa understood that Jesus and Paul were concerned with matters of the soul and were not attempting to subvert the current regime and install a new government, yet they themselves were not interested in the eternal matters Jesus and Paul preached about.

    “As for Christ and Paul not being a political threat to Rome, both Pilate and Agrippa were greatly mistaken. Though they rightly deduced that there was no *immediate* political threat to Rome, they did not anticipate the long term threat that Christianity posed against pagan Rome (and all other pagan empires).”

    That’s another difference between us. I don’t consider The Holy Roman Empire a good thing. I don’t pine after the Constantinianism of yesteryear. Forced baptisms by the sword is not my idea of great evangelism. Christianity rightly understood is no threat to government. Now a leader who demands worship will find Christians threatening, because they will not worship him, but that is different. But remember, one of the reasons Calvin wrote the Institutes was to convince the King of France that Reformed doctrine was no threat to his kingdom. Below is from Calvin’s Prefatory Address to the king.

    “It is sheer violence that bloody sentences are meted out against this doctrine without a hearing; it is fraud that it is undeservedly charged with treason and villainy. So that no one may think we are wrongly complaining of these things, you can be our witness, most noble King, with how many lying slanders it is daily traduced in your presence. It is as if this doctrine looked to no other end than to wrest the scepters from the hands of kings, to cast down all courts and judgments, to subvert all orders and civil governments, to disrupt the peace and quiet of the people, to abolish all laws, to scatter all lordships and possessions—in short, to turn everything upside down! And yet you hear only a very small part of the accusation, for dreadful reports are being spread abroad among the people. If these were true, the whole world would rightly judge this doctrine and its authors worthy of a thousand fires and crosses. Who now can wonder that public hatred is aroused against it, when these most wicked accusations are believed?…And we are unjustly charged, too, with intentions of such a sort that we have never given the least suspicion of them. We are, I suppose, contriving the overthrow of kingdoms – we, from whom not one seditious word was ever heard; we, whose life when we lived under you was always acknowledged to be quiet and simple; we, who do not cease to pray for the full prosperity of yourself and your kingdom, although we are now fugitives from home!”

    Todd

  214. Todd said,

    April 3, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Zrim,

    Since we are talking ironies… Theonomists are usually very strong when it comes to male headship in the family. What if theonomist’s wives were allowed to submit to their authority the way theonomist husbands *submit* to their governing authorities? Patriarchal types are always telling Christian wives, “even when your husband makes a decision you might not agree with, you are to submit to and support him, and even when disagreeing with him, do so respectfully…” Then these wives watch their husband insult, publicly rebuke, etc… those the Bible calls them to submit to. No wonder perceptive women see right through us men – we can be a sorry lot.

    Todd

  215. April 3, 2009 at 7:19 am

    Andrew,

    When R2K’s start invoking the praises of Mao’s legitimacy and people don’t respond its not because nobody is horrified by the depravity of supporting Mao’s legitimacy, but rather it is because people realize that reasoning with such people who reason in such a bankrupt manner is futile. Would I argue with someone on the virtues of healthy eating who seriously advocated and gave a “intellectual” defense of cannibalism? No, I would just walk away and pray that God would be pleased to call them to himself.

    Do you think a theonomic approach to Mao would have been any more successful?

    Sometimes such approaches are more successful and sometimes they are not. Such an approach was more successful with King George III. Such an approach was not more successful with Stalin (The Christian Ukranians resisted but there’s only so much one can do with pitchforks). But, when it comes to obedience there comes an eventual point when the success of a venture is not the primary consideration. Jesus didn’t never said that all our obedience would be “successful” in the way that we use that term.

    “Also, wouldn’t a theonomic regime be a lot like a totalitarian one of Asia?

    Yawn … what a ancient canard.

    Theonomy is premised on government that operates on a grass roots basis. By its very definition a theonomic government would model constitutional government’s call for limited government. Theonomy would not be “a lot like totalitarian Asia” because a theonomic government could only exist where a overwhelming percentage of people were Christian.

    Would non-Christians be in a position legally to dissent?

    Why would they want to dissent since such government would be of such great advantage to them?

  216. April 3, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Todd,

    I constantly teach my flock that the rulership of husbands is no matter absolute then the rulership of civil authorities. The authorities of husbands is circumscribed by the scripture the same way the authority of civil magistrate is circumscribed by scripture. Wives do not owe their husbands absolute obedience any more than citizen owe their civil magistrates absolute obedience. This is a position that is commonly taught among theonomists. Though, not being a Patriarch in the movement sense I wouldn’t know what they teach.

    Do you ever know what you’re talking about Todd?

    But you’ll be glad to know that I agree with you on one thing …. We men can certainly be a sorry lot.

  217. Todd said,

    April 3, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Brett,

    (no reply to his post)

    When your wife creates her blog publicly criticizing and ridiculing you for all the ways she believes you are poorly running the household, and you think that is a good thing, then I will be convinced that you treat your authority the way you want her to treat hers.

    Todd

  218. April 3, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Todd,

    When I begin to sell my daughters and wife out as sex slaves to bring in some income and when I turn my son into a Jack and Bobby Kennedy thug the way old Joe turned is sons into thugs then my wife is welcome to start up a blog to complain.

    The point here is that theonomists are not complaining about penny ante kinds of things Todd ole boy. If the state was passing bad laws regarding jaywalking or the amount of time one had to wait to get a marriage license theonomists wouldn’t say much. But what we have, just for starters, instead is a State that is sanctioning and creating a climate where 1.3 million people are murdered annually by the state.

    That you can compare my complaint against the civil magistrate for holocaust to a wives complaint that her husband doesn’t shut the toilet lid after going to the bathroom is bizarre.

    Your responses to me Todd are just skull numbingly incredible. You continuously compare rutabagas to sex toys.

  219. Todd said,

    April 3, 2009 at 7:59 am

    (Not sure why certain posts don’t come with “reply” so I’ll respond here)

    Brett wrote:

    “That you can compare my complaint against the civil magistrate for holocaust to a wives complaint that her husband doesn’t shut the toilet lid after going to the bathroom is bizarre.”

    Well, in a recent post on your blog you wrote “Get into your minds that the Obama administration is filled with Tolkien Orcs” referring to their tax and financial policies. Not exactly the holocaust is it, (and I’m sure your wife, like all our wives, would have more to criticize you about than toilet care,) but again – the same disrespectful language for your God-ordained authorities that gives a bad name to Reformed Christianity.

    Todd

  220. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Bret, I wonder what you’d say to someone who thinks you are turning abortion into a fetish. After all, I recently read a Reformed historian (not me) who says:
    “Yes, God hates the slaughter of infants — but abortion is merely the most obvious way in which this takes place. Poor healthcare, unhygienic living conditions, lack of access to AIDS drugs, famine, sweatshops, unemployment, underemployment, war, environmental damage due to polution and greed — these all kill infants too. Reflection on these makes party politics less black and white than many would wish. It is time for Christians to face up to these issues as well.”

    Are you willing to admit among the faithful the Christian environmentalists and socialists who want to prevent the loss of innocent life in a more comprehensive way? I mean, by this guy’s logic outlawing abortion is only a partial remedy.

  221. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 3, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Since my specific subject was the Scriptural and theological justification for Theonomy, of which Bahnsen’s is unversally regarded as the finest extant, I have read Just about everything Bahnsen wrote on Theonomy, (including his replies to critics, which I analyze in “How Firm A Foundation”) as well as some Rushdoony. Nobody else has made major contributions to the foundations of Theonomy. (People like Sawyer and Strevel have added footnotes but are not essential).

    I have read Chilton’s “Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt Manipulators” and Jordan’s papers denouncing Bahnsen’s Theonomy. I am not as familliar with Sutton and Grant who, from what I understand, are not revising Bahnsen’s foundational justification for theonomy but are building on it. Gary deMar, although following North in presuming to found Theonomy on 1 Tim 1: 10-13 is also a house builder not a foundation layer. But I have read a little North, including his critique of Bahnsen in “Hierarchy and Dominion” pp. 347 ff which should be read by any Theonomist who uncritically believes the legend of “Bahnsen the Unanswerable” holds in theology as opposed to apologetics where he did great work.

    Now I have a counter question. How many of Bahnsen’s disciples here present have read not just Bahnsen’s replies to critics but original arguments of the critics themselves? I have done both, and as my “How Firm A Foundation” documents, there are repeated instances where the presentation of criticisms in Bahnsen’s “No Other Standard” and “The Exegesis of Matthew 5″ article insufficiently present exactly what those objections were, while his replies often fail to do justice to the critics’ objections. In fact in a couple of cases Bahnsen unwittingly refutes his own arguments! Those who want details can email me for a free copy.

    It will be interesting to see how many Theonomists in this thread will have the guts to find out just how badly Bahnsen got it wrong.

  222. Zrim said,

    April 3, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Andrew,

    Sorry you’re offended, but I’m putting my 2K money where my mouth is. 2K has to work under Mao and Reagan both, otherwise it’s no good. Granted, how it plays under both regimes may differ, and it certainly can get dicey. But if Jesus told me to render unto Caesar and was silent before Pilate after telling him his kingdom was not of this world, and if Paul said to undermine Mao was to undermine Yahweh, what alternative do I have? You seem to have missed my point about the difference between submitting and worshipping.

  223. Zrim said,

    April 3, 2009 at 8:29 am

    DGH,

    That’s why I think Catholics make waaaaay better culture-of-lifers than Calvinists. Calvinism really has no stake in it, but Catholics understand what it means to be consistent (ex vitro people count as much as in vitro people) if one first assumes Christianity is primarily about ethics.

  224. pduggie said,

    April 3, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Lane: “However, it is not the civil magistrate’s job to execute a boy for cursing his parents (as was true in the Old Testament civil laws).”

    *Could* it be? Could a society decide that it was a good idea to do that, and then do that? Why or why not?

  225. April 3, 2009 at 8:46 am

    Darryl,

    Esteem for the 6th commandment is a Fetish?

    Y’all really make me scratch my head in amazement.

    “Are you willing to admit among the faithful the Christian environmentalists and socialists who want to prevent the loss of innocent life in a more comprehensive way?

    No. Because these people look to solve the problems that they lament by turning to the state for answers w/o realizing it is the state that most often creates conditions wherein these problems flourish. Poor health care in the West is a problem augmented and accelerated by the state. The breakdown of the family in the West is a problem augmented and accelerated by the state. And we could go on. Socialism is idolatry and it its hatred of God it is a religion of death. This is why I can’t go with your liberal historian.

    But your “Reformed” historian will be glad to know that I think that both Democrats and Republicans are part of the problem.

  226. April 3, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Darryl, you haven’t tipped your hand enough for me to say but it clearly is the case that Zrim is a liberal (support for government schools, support for socialism, antagonism towards “fetalists”) who is using R2Kt as a shield to justify his liberal (unbiblical) thinking on social order questions.

  227. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Chris Zodrow said:

    “And Jesus said, “Go, make disciples of all nations…”

    The world is His. The “covenantal circumstance” is now global. …

    Chris, if you are saying that the Mosaic covenant, which was the covenantal circumstance referred to, is now global, you are in Galatianism and you need to repent. The Westminster Divines knew that they had to justifiy any continuing judicials on grounds other than covenantal continuity. The great English covenant theologian John Ball had made the point for them in “A Treatise of the Covenant of Grace,” published the year before the WA adopted ch 19. Ball wrote: “… if the law did continue as a covenant, there could be no place for repentance, no promise of forgiveness or mercy reaching to the pardon of sin or the quickening of them that be dead in trespasses.” Greg Bahnsen also denies that the Mosaic covenant continues AS AN OPERATIVE COVENANT when he wrote “We should presume that Old Testament standing laws [a term he defines in a footnote as ‘… policy directives applicable over time to classes of individuals…’] continue to be MORALLY [emphasis mine] binding” in the NT (Bahnsen, Theonomy, 3rd. ed p. xxvi, theses 4 and 6.) (This statement is why Bahnsen’s version of Theonomy is clearly not heretical.)

    But if the Sinai covenant no longer obliges covenantally we are faced with determining what of it does not apply morally. And here the question of the relationship of God to the state becomes critical. It was Rushdoony of all people, who AFAIK first recognized the problem writing: “The concept of sacrilege rests on God’s sovereignty and the fact that He has an absolute ownership over all things: men and the universe are God’s property. The covenant people are doubly God’s property: first by virtue of His creation; and second, by virtue of His redemption. For this reason, sin is more personal and more than man-centered. It is a theological offense.” (Rushdoony, Law and Society p. 28)

    … Rushdoony wonders whether the nature of some offenses changes depending on the type of relationship with God that underlies the situation. For “the Sabbath is a sign, a covenant sign, between God and His people.” (Rushdoony, Law p. 683) He then goes on to cite Jaffa’s observation that Sabbath breach is “an act of sedition,” and then Rushdoony posed the following question:

    “Does this mean that in the modern world, Sabbath-breaking is punishable by death or should be? The answer is, very clearly and emphatically no. The modern state is not in covenant with God but is an enemy of God. Sabbath-breaking has no specific penalty of death just as there is no death penalty for adultery (Hos. 4:14), because the nations are not in covenant with God and are therefore under sentence of death. Because of this general and central indictment, the lesser offenses have no place. Covenant offences are one thing, enemy offenses another.” (Rushdoony, Law p. 685)

    Although Rushdoony’s exegesis of these verses of Hosea is technically incorrect, he is right to raise the possibility that some Mosaic standing laws were covenant specific. Rom. 14:5 implies that the Sabbath laws were specific to the Mosaic covenant and it is certain that Christ in Matt. 19:1-6 abrogated the Mosaic Law concerning divorce in favor of the standard first set in Eden. Moreover, the Mosaic Law itself makes it plain that Rushdoony’s distinction between a party’s status within or without that covenantal relationship has a bearing on whether Mosaic civil laws apply. In Deut. 23:20, the Israelites were prohibited from lending money at interest to fellow Israelites. But the same verse makes it certain that civil law prohibition of lending money did not apply when an Israelite was asked to lend money to a Gentile.

    Given that some Mosaic civil laws and some changes to them are linked to covenant status, Christians must employ a hermeneutic that recognizes such changes. If Rushdoony is correct that a modern nation’s non-covenant status renders Sabbath breaking to be no longer a crime or subject to Mosaic penology, the necessary consequence (by parity of reasoning) is that all Mosaic stipulations for first table offenses are not automatically applicable outside the Sinai covenant.

    I have yet to see any Theonomist address this point.
    …..

    Chris: “As I have said in previous posts, all these “problems” have been answered in the literature.”

    I suspect you may not be aware of just how insufficient many of Bahnsen’s attempts at answering foundational issues have proven.

  228. April 3, 2009 at 8:59 am

    “Well, in a recent post on your blog you wrote “Get into your minds that the Obama administration is filled with Tolkien Orcs” referring to their tax and financial policies. Not exactly the holocaust is it, (and I’m sure your wife, like all our wives, would have more to criticize you about than toilet care,) but again – the same disrespectful language for your God-ordained authorities that gives a bad name to Reformed Christianity.

    Let’s have the whole paragraph Todd in order to see if your characterization is as strange as your posts on theonomy in general,

    I wrote on Iron Ink,

    “Look people, try to imagine the worst dystopian novel you’ve ever read and then realize that we are now well past the introduction and are entering into the building climax phase of that novel. Get into your minds that the Obama administration is filled with Tolkien Orcs or is one big expression of C. S. Lewis’ N.I.C.E. Understand that this administration sees themselves as Huxley’s Brave New World’s “social predestinators.” Washington is trying to turn the whole world into one big animal farm and your nothing but a prole whose name is Boxer. And since nobody reads, nobody needs to be concerned that a book burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.”

    So, we see that when my words are put in their fuller context my words were not uttered regarding tax policy. The article started off with observations about tax policy but this paragraph was serving as a summary climax as to where all this was going when combined with the other current contemporary realities. I am humbled that you’d read my work with such interest … now we must work in your comprehension skills in order for you to get as much possible from reading my works.

    And yes…. my wife would be justified if she complained about me on any number of issues that extend beyond toilet etiquette but there is nothing that she could complain about me that could compare to the genocide of the unborn.If there were I would be disappointed in her if she didn’t complain. Indeed, I would admonish a wife that she shared in the sins of such a husband if she didn’t complain.

    We really are in different worlds because I believe that it is your cowardly and craven ways Todd that are what give Reformed Christianity a bad name.

  229. April 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

    “Well, in a recent post on your blog you wrote “Get into your minds that the Obama administration is filled with Tolkien Orcs” referring to their tax and financial policies. Not exactly the holocaust is it, (and I’m sure your wife, like all our wives, would have more to criticize you about than toilet care,) but again – the same disrespectful language for your God-ordained authorities that gives a bad name to Reformed Christianity.

    Let’s have the whole paragraph Todd in order to see if your characterization is as strange as your posts on theonomy in general,

    I wrote on Iron Ink,

    “Look people, try to imagine the worst dystopian novel you’ve ever read and then realize that we are now well past the introduction and are entering into the building climax phase of that novel. Get into your minds that the Obama administration is filled with Tolkien Orcs or is one big expression of C. S. Lewis’ N.I.C.E. Understand that this administration sees themselves as Huxley’s Brave New World’s “social predestinators.” Washington is trying to turn the whole world into one big animal farm and your nothing but a prole whose name is Boxer. And since nobody reads, nobody needs to be concerned that a book burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit.”

    So, we see that when my words are put in their fuller context my words were not uttered regarding tax policy. The article started off with observations about tax policy but this paragraph was serving as a summary climax as to where all this was going when combined with the other current contemporary realities. I am humbled that you’d read my work with such interest … now we must work in your comprehension skills in order for you to get as much possible from reading my works.

    And yes…. my wife would be justified if she complained about me on any number of issues that extend beyond toilet etiquette but there is nothing that she could complain about me that could compare to the genocide of the unborn.If there were I would be disappointed in her if she didn’t complain. Indeed, I would admonish a wife that she shared in the sins of such a husband if she didn’t complain.

    We really are in different worlds because I believe that it is your cowardly and craven ways Todd that are what give Reformed Christianity a bad name.

  230. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Bret, so where do we go for an answer? The Left is wrong. The Right is wrong. Do we turn to Grand Rapids? Please, please, please, ya gotta give me an answer. The history of the world awaits.

    BTW, the sixth commandment is not only about abortion, is it? So if the 6th commandment is that important to you, you’re opposed to war which takes the lives of civilians, no? (Oh, but wait a minute, OT warfare did take the lives of civilians. Man, this gets confusing.)

  231. April 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Bret, so where do we go for an answer? The Left is wrong. The Right is wrong. Do we turn to Grand Rapids? Please, please, please, ya gotta give me an answer. The history of the world awaits.

    Yes, I’ve often found myself in the position of having to rescue the world. It is a heavy burden but it is one I can bear. Now, if only one could make a decent living off of saving the world. Sigh.

    Where do we go for the answers you ask …. Why the Bible of course you silly goose.

    “BTW, the sixth commandment is not only about abortion, is it? So if the 6th commandment is that important to you, you’re opposed to war which takes the lives of civilians, no? (Oh, but wait a minute, OT warfare did take the lives of civilians. Man, this gets confusing.)

    I am opposed to unjust wars. When we have a war where God tells us to wipe out the civilians as he did in the OT then I will be fine with wiping out civilians. But since God no longer speaks that way I shan’t be holding my breath.

    Now, see Darryl … that wasn’t that confusing. Why it’s simple enough that even a Ph.D. can understand.

  232. April 3, 2009 at 9:11 am

    Tim,

    If you’re offering a book that proves theonomy wrong I’d love to have a copy. Send me your e-mail and I’ll send you my address. I can’t wait to see how you’ve mastered and triumphed over Bahnsen.

  233. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 9:42 am

    Bret, forgive me, but you are holding your breath – rose bud smelling I’m sure — about unjust war. I don’t see any categories for it at Iron Ink. So I am still confused. Why don’t you rail as much against unjust war and those who say “I do” to the “man” of the military industrial complex? (Don’t worry, it’s not so bad being an anti-federalist. It doesn’t hurt much.)

  234. Todd said,

    April 3, 2009 at 9:44 am

    “We really are in different worlds”

    Hey, common ground!

    Let me try to follow your logic. When the state abuses their authority by moving toward socialism, Christians like you are allowed to publicly rebuke, ridicule, criticize them.

    So, let’s say a woman in your congregation is married to an unbeliever. He often gambles away too much of the family’s monies, he is cold and rude to her and the children, and he drinks too much. He is a lousy husband and father. Yet he has not done enough to warrant legal action.

    Now this woman comes to you and says, “while I am considering separation or divorce, and need your advice on that, I have also decided to start a blog and publicly expose and criticize my husband on the lousy ways he treats me and the kids. Would this be something that honors God?

    You would respond?

  235. Zrim said,

    April 3, 2009 at 9:46 am

    …it clearly is the case that Zrim is a liberal (support for government schools, support for socialism, antagonism towards “fetalists”) who is using R2Kt as a shield to justify his liberal (unbiblical) thinking on social order questions.

    But, Bret, how can I be the liberal when I’m the disgruntled member of the CRC hanging on by a thread for dear life? What’s public education advocacy got to do with it? I mean, I also like roads and libraries, cops and firefighters. Is that also because I am infected? What’s the verse you use to justify your use of roads, or does the Leftorium have the only jet-pack known to man?

  236. April 3, 2009 at 10:04 am

    There is one at the top of my post to which you just responded. It was offered by Lauren.

    Reed, I can no longer find the previous posts. So, I cannot go back to your comments. Again, if what you intended was an honest assessment, I can only say, “OK”. However, the conclusions being suggested in many of the posts are not true to the theonomic position, ie. there has been accusations of Manichaeism, of inciting civil rebellion, of having less understanding than Pilate. And these are just a few of what appear on the current thread. As I posted previously, go here for more information. The basic straw men are debunked in short shrift.

    I really can’t say anymore that has not already been said. At this point this is simply a clash of basic assumptions. I would suggest that may of the detractors here are simply Thomistic in their approach to things. There is an unargued notion that there are two truths: one for the church and one for everything else. This is a throwback to the Middle Ages, prior to the Reformation. I am not arguing for any one view of theonomy, but rather, that this dualism be challenged.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  237. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Chris, people detracting from theonomy aren’t saying that two truths exist. We’re saying that two sorts of people who believe different truths exist. The question is how we live together. God solved that problem for Israel by telling them to kill the heathen in the land. You surely don’t think that’s an option today, do you? Oh wait, it is. The church, the new Israel, does excommunicate the heathen and keeps them out of the kingdom of Christ.
    How is that dualistic? How is that Thomistic? How shall the heathen live in your world if they don’t believe the preacher?

  238. April 3, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Darryl,

    Your problem is that you came upon my writings to late in your life. I know … I know … that is a real cause of sadness. Might I reccomend that you go to a internet place called “A Better Country,” and ask them there what my views of the gulf war were when we were running up to that abomination. Indeed, Darryl, my vituperate writings against the ideology and supporters of the war were the stuff that legends are made of. Unfortunately, all of that writing was on my previous blog which exists only on a CD.

    I’m right there with you on anti-federalism.

    Now, is there anything else about me that you’d like to guess wrongly about?

  239. April 3, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Agreed, there are two kinds of people in the world. But, we do not all huddle inside the church. The church is only one sphere of the whole world, the Kingdom extends beyond the doors of the church. Not all of us work inside the doors of the church, nor in para-church ministries, nor as professors of church schools or seminaries. Some of us work in other spheres of life, spheres that are under the Sovereign rule of Christ as well. Should we apply His Word to our whole life, to the policies we may be responsible to create, or just ignore Him while we work as doctors, lawyers, designers, statesmen, teachers, etc. etc.?

    The distinction in people does not alleviate the question of normative ethics outside of the church. And so, my basic question still stands: “Is there one truth for inside the church, and one for outside?”

    Yes, what you are suggesting is Thomistic. It is one of the basic views of the Roman church.

    This is the rub.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  240. April 3, 2009 at 10:38 am

    I would advise the woman to separate with a view towards reconciliation.

    I would further advise her that if she followed my advice there would be no need to write a blog since her oppression would have ceased.

    However, if for whatever reason she could not escape his tyranny and if she thought that railing against it publically might bring relief to her and her children I would advise her to write away. The alleviating of such tyranny and oppressions would be worth the humiliation suffered by her having to admit all this in a public setting. Before you disagree with me try to put yourself as a child in such a setting.

    And before you get to smarmy on this score, keep in mind that I am very familiar with situations very much like what you describe and knowing the torture such situations bring to women and children I would defend them doing almost anything that would be genuinely successfully in ridding themselves of the kind of tyranny and oppression you describe.

  241. April 3, 2009 at 10:40 am

    Zrim,

    I told you I don’t run a leftorium. I run a …. Oh, that’s right … I can’t say what I run. But you’re welcome to come to the store I do run for items for you and yours.

  242. Reed Here said,

    April 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Chris:

    No need to beat a dead horse. You made an over the top comment, admittedly out of frustration. I challenged; your response demonstrates that the real issue is frustration with some whose rhetoric appears to you to be mischaracterization.

    O.k., I can say the same about some commenting pro-theonomy. What I shouldn’t do is make a blanket statement that all y’all are doing this. That would be unkind and unfair, let alone a mischaracterization.

    Chris, there are a few here, on both sides, for whom this is not the first discussion on this topic. They are, in effect, continuing the conversation where they left off. Yes, mischaracterization occurs, and on both sides.

    I am with you in asking others to not do so; hence my suggestion we ask questions before assuming our conclusion based on mere logical inference is in fact necessarily true.

    I’d only ask you to consider that maybe you spoke a little too much from frustration, and may have mischaracterized what is going on in the conversation (albeit unintentionally.)

  243. April 3, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Bret and others interested in “How Firm A Foundation?”

    My email is timmopussycat AT yahoo DOT ca.

    Tim

  244. Zrim said,

    April 3, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Christopher said: The church is only one sphere of the whole world, the Kingdom extends beyond the doors of the church. Not all of us work inside the doors of the church, nor in para-church ministries, nor as professors of church schools or seminaries. Some of us work in other spheres of life, spheres that are under the Sovereign rule of Christ as well. Should we apply His Word to our whole life, to the policies we may be responsible to create, or just ignore Him while we work as doctors, lawyers, designers, statesmen, teachers, etc. etc.?

    Speaking as one who works quite outside the “doors of the church” as well, the kingdom of God only extends beyond the church doors to the extent that it resides in the hearts of believers. And since human beings are hermetically sealed creatures the Kingdom doesn’t tend to leak out (unless medieval Rome was right and the bathtub of grace really does need to get re-filled every week): rather, it is worked out in fear and trembling.

    And why is the choice always, “Apply the Word to all of life, otherwise you’re just ignoring God”? This helps point up the radical nature of theonomy that has no ability to take into account nuance or complications or the precarious nature of having dual citizenship.

  245. April 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

    Reed,
    Another red herring: “my poor boy, you must have been frustrated”. No, not really. Thanks though. I do not retract anything I have said. The problem of a basic dualism still exists in your assumptions.

    Anyway, like I said, all of your problems with Kuyperian/ Dooyeweerdian/ theonomic/ neo-Calvinist views have been addressed in the literature.

    Cheers,
    Chris

  246. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Chris, you have not addressed the difference between Israel and the church. Israel was required to drive out the pagans from the promised land. Israel was not to extend its kingdom from the Meditteranean to the Indian ocean. And yet, Christ was still sovereign over Israel and the Babylonian Empire. There were two rules, two sets of people, even in the OT. So your assumption of one truth, no dualism, doesn’t even work for Israel.

  247. April 3, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Zrim,
    “This helps point up the radical nature of theonomy that has no ability to take into account nuance or complications or the precarious nature of having dual citizenship.”

    Dual citizenship does not require dual ethics. You are implying that the Word of God lacks nuance, and God does not speak in any way but as a blunt force object.

    Once again, here we are at basic dualism: Nature vs. Grace.

    Signing off now.

    Chris

  248. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Zrim: pssst, theonomists don’t believe in dual citizenship. They are 100 percenters, all the way down, which means they march right along side gays, women and african-Americans in the march of identity politics.

  249. dgh said,

    April 3, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Bret: I think you’re wrong about two-kingdom theology.

    And don’t you mean, Seeking a Better Country? Now that is a fine book.

  250. Reed Here said,

    April 3, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Chris:

    Your problrm is that I’ver made no assumptions in this conversation. I’ve only asked questions, and then responded to the answers, usually with more questions.

    I’m not the source of that fishy smell. Look to your own words.

  251. April 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Darryl writes,

    Bret: I think you’re wrong about two-kingdom theology.

    I have no problem with standard non-Lutheran Reformed two-kingdom theology. It is the Klinean “Westminster Concordia John Walvoord Memorial Seminary’s” Radical Two Kingdom Theology I have problems with.

  252. Todd said,

    April 3, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Bret,

    Those situations are par for the course for all of us pastors. Just wondering how railing publicly against her husband harmonizes with I Peter 3:1&2, and how publicly railing against your government authority harmonizes with I Peter 2:17.

    Todd

  253. Zrim said,

    April 3, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Bret,

    Isn’t there a difference between a bad situation and “tyranny and oppression and torture”?
    Do you understand a difference between adultery and really bad judgment, or are you like my wife who insists that there really such a thing as “emotional adultery”?

    And I am really quite stumped as to how wisdom would think that going public on a private matter, wearing it on one’s sleeve, wouldn’t make a bad situation worse and not really help anything. I know you may want to characterize your advice as some sort of heroics on behalf of the “down-trodden,” etc., but it does seem to me a wiser path would be much more cautious, staid and measured. And have you done any real-life investigation of this man or just taking her word for it because it sounds so tantalizing and sensationalistic?

    …oh, wait a minute. It’s all coming together now. You are very consistent, I must say.

  254. April 3, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Dear Gentlemen,
    I hope I am responding in the correct place to Todd’s comment: “What if theonomist’s wives were allowed to submit to their authority the way theonomist husbands *submit* to their governing authorities? Patriarchal types are always telling Christian wives, “even when your husband makes a decision you might not agree with, you are to submit to and support him, and even when disagreeing with him, do so respectfully…” Then these wives watch their husband insult, publicly rebuke, etc… those the Bible calls them to submit to. No wonder perceptive women see right through us men – we can be a sorry lot. ” Dear Todd, You are missing an important point here: As a theonomic wife, I submit to my husband knowing that in reality I am submitting to Christ. BUT if my husband asks me to do something that is sinful or may create unease in my conscience, I respectfully will say no, I am to obey God before I obey you. Now when a man submits to the civil magistrate, he is in essence submitting to Christ, but if the magistrate wants him to do something that is sinful or harms his conscience, the theonomic man will boldly stand against the wicked request and say no, I am to obey God before you. Now I sincerely hope you non-theonomic men will stand just as firmly against a wicked magistrate as the theonomist, but since your foundation does not seem quite as solid, I am concerned and will be praying for you all.

  255. April 3, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    Wow dgh… Your comment on prenatal child-killing is cold… Do you want to know who the outspoken pro-lifers are? Go by a planned murder child-killing clinic and you’ll see the majority of pro-lifers calling out to the murderous parents to save their children will be Protestants who lean heavily on Calvinism and theonomy. The Catholics are for the most part non-confrontational and pray the rosary. The Calvinist Theonmists are the ones actively trying to save lives because they understand the sin of bloodguilt.

  256. April 3, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Dear Lauren,
    Please click on my name and visit the blog “Ladies of the Covenant” which has articles about reformed theology, including what the Puritans believed. You will see that even though the word “theonomy” is not used by them, they did believe in living lives totally sold out to God. A reflection of your commitment to Christ is your activity in your community. I am sure you want to see your neighbors come to a saving knowledge of Christ and to also live safe, happy, peaceful lives on earth. You must then ask yourself by whose standard should they live? After all, if Jesus is your king, don’t you want them to also live under His reign? If so, you just might be a theonomist and not even know it!

  257. April 3, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Dear Colin,

    Great link! Thank you so much… May the good LORD bless you as you stand boldly for His Crown and Covenant!

    Your sister in Christ,
    Angela Wittman

  258. April 3, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    “I would be disappointed in her if she didn’t complain. Indeed, I would admonish a wife that she shared in the sins of such a husband if she didn’t complain.”

    Amen to Pastor McAtee! Love your articles… Keep up the good work!

  259. Colin said,

    April 3, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Bret,

    Tim’s so called “book” (really an unpublished paper, or rather more likely, an unpublishable paper as its been around for several years on the internet in ever changing revised editions) can easily be summed up as “Arminianism in Christian Ethics” (not surprising that much of its exegesis is mostly based on the teachings of the Arminian exegete, Dr. Gordon Fee).

    But the paper’s real Arminianism comes from the writer’s method of doing Christian ethics where civil law is primarily determined not on the basis of what God’s Word already says (following the hermeneutics of covenant theology), but rather on the subjective exegetical reactions to whatever particular criminal case occurs (IOW civil law determined on a case by case basis). No law actually gets legislated, because each criminal case differs from another criminal case and so each penalty (if any) must differ according to each separate case, and the conclusions of one Christian exegete examining one case, may differ completely from the conclusions of another Christian exegete examining the same case. But whatever conclusion is arrived at, ultimately it is the Christian exegete (such as Tim) who finally decides what punish will fit the crime (after it is determined by him that an OT punishment is transcovenantal or not restricted to OT Israel alone).

    Another point, in Tim’s paper he rightly encourages his readers to actually read the primary sources of Theonomy and he provides an extensive Bibliography (not unlike what Tommy Ice did in his book, “Dominion Theology: Blessing Or Curse?”). However, even before one is half way through Tim’s paper, the reader’s motivation for desiring to read any primary Theonomic book is practically destroyed by Tim’s frequent anti_Bahnsen, and anti-Theonomic propaganda and rhetoric. So Tim’s primary source study encouragement is really hypocritical.

    Another thing is that Tim rightly states that Theonomy is “not a Heresy”. However that comment is found buried in a tiny footnote more than halfway through his manuscript, long after the reader is left with the definitive impression that Theonomy IS a heresy. Tim does state that Theonomy is a “serious error”, but he doesn’t explain how that differs from “heresy”.

    But what is most offensive in the paper is Tim’s frequent immoral attacks on the scholarly competence of Greg Bahnsen (certainly not the same conclusions that Greg’s former professor, John Frame had of Bahnsen).

    I compare Tim’s mistreatment of Greg Bahnsen to that of Dave Hunt’s mistreatment of John Calvin. Though, unlike Tim, at least Dave Hunt is a successful published author.

    And having read Tim’s paper in its various mutations over the last 5 years, I can safely say that it is no threat to Theonomy, nor to Greg Bahnsen’s books on the topic. Tim simply does not understand Bahnsen nor Theonomy, nor John Calvin, nor the Westminster Divines,though he has tried to make an effort. However, in the end, Tim would have better luck trying to refute the five points of Calvinism than he would trying to refute Theonomy (and I speak as a five pointer).

    Lastly, the one good thing I can say about Tim’s paper is that at least he is not dismissive of the topic of Theonomy (like most Calvinists are). He takes it seriously enough to publicly show that he feels threatened enough by what he wrongly perceives as dangerous implications of Theonomy (just as some Atheists feel threatened by what they wrongly perceive as dangerous implications of conservative Biblical Christianity).

    As a result, Tim’s loud protestations against Theonomy only serves to provide some free publicity to the topic. (Greg Bahnsen once thanked his many critics for giving his Theonomy book more attention than he ever anticipated)

  260. Colin said,

    April 3, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Zrim,

    “”Right, obey Caesar (don’t worship him), only worship God. He was telling his people to obey Caesar, not Caesar to kiss the Son.””

    Jesus was obviously not speaking directly to Caesar, however, Jesus’s words are inclusive of Caesar’s obligation to “render unto God the things that are God’s”.

    We are to obey both God and Caesar, while Caesar is to obey both God and some form of public moral constitution that does not contradict God’s law. Obviously a tyrant like a Roman Caesar was beyond any constitutional restraint since he was “Rex, Lex”.

    So of course Jesus’s word’s were directed at Caesar’s subjects, but the Bible also teaches us that our submission to Caesar is never absolute, instead its always qualified by God’s law which vetoes any positive immoral command from Caesar (Acts 4:29)

    “”But if the latter were true, and Caesar is to bend the knee to Jesus, what gives with the silent treatment to Pilate?””

    Jesus had a specific pre-ordained ministry which required that he be betrayed by one of his own people, and crucified by the Gentiles. Such silence furthered that aim. Additionally, Jesus was not always silent to Pilate since he spoke about His Kingdom not being based from this world.

    Furthermore, the political command to “kiss the Son” etc, is derived from the OT and thus was a truth already revealed and still continuing even in the NT era (IOW it was never nullified by the NT). Jesus had no need to repeat what was already revealed by the OT scriptures (especially since He was not a Dispensationalist)

    Lastly, Christ’s then earthly based spiritual Kingdom only had just begun as a tiny mustard seed that had yet to grow into a great tree (or as a stone into a great mountain), hence, His kingdom was not ready to replace Caesar’s pagan Kingdom at that time.

    Instead, the Imperial Roman Kingdom was temporally used by God to provide the politically stable soil by which early Christianity could grow and expand in the face of fierce Jewish persecution. Yes, Caesar was still morally obligated to “kiss the Son”, just as he was personally obligated to repent and believe in Jesus).

    But the crucifixion of Christ was the main intent behind Jesus’s mostly silent treatment towards Pilate in fulfillment of OT Messianic prophecy.

  261. Todd said,

    April 4, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Dear Angela,

    No one ever suggested that if the government ordered you to disobey Christ, you should obey the government over God. But no one in the U.S. government has ever told me to worship them as God, or commanded me to disobey a command of Christ, so I will cross that bridge if it ever comes.

    But I just don’t see the qualifications in Scripture you theonomists see. When Peter commanded us to honor the emperor (I Pet 2:17), I don’t see a qualification which says, “of course, only if he is not a wicked ruler who abuses his authority.” That’s exactly what the emperor was when Peter wrote that verse. To obey that verse is to speak as respectfully of Ronald Reagan as you would Bill Clinton, or President Obama, regardless of their views on abortion, capitalism, etc….We as Christians are to be a quiet, respectful people, subject to our masters, not only to the good, “but also to the unjust” (I Pet 2:18)

    Todd

  262. Todd said,

    April 4, 2009 at 12:33 am

    “We really are in different worlds because I believe that it is your cowardly and craven ways Todd that are what give Reformed Christianity a bad name.”

    Bret,

    Sitting behind a computer blogging against the government, in a free country that allows people to malign authority without consequence, and ridiculing those authorities on that blog, is hardly courageous. I can think of a number of adjectives that apply, but “courageous” is not one of them.

    You theonomists (actually, not all theonomists, I have known a few respectful ones) need to take a lesson from Calvin. Note well how he speaks to the King of France in his Preface to the Institutes. Yes, that same king who had overseen the murder of so many Christians. Note the great honor and respect Calvin shows this wicked king who had committed so much evil. Now that’s true courage.

    Christian courage is holding your tongue and trusting the Lord that he will judge the wicked in his time; Christian courage is humbling yourself and honoring your authorities even when they do wrong. What you theonomists do with your constant criticism, ridicule and judgment of unbelievers, especially unbelievers in authority, is not courage, it is childish insolence. There is a huge difference between the two.

    Todd

  263. Colin said,

    April 4, 2009 at 2:10 am

    “”You theonomists (actually, not all theonomists, I have known a few respectful ones) need to take a lesson from Calvin. Note well how he speaks to the King of France in his Preface to the Institutes.””

    All Theonomists greatly appreciate Calvin (Dr. Bahnsen produced an 81 audio tape lecture exposition on Calvin’s Institutes. The Chalcedon Report (Feb 2004 issue) was dedicated to Calvin and contained a positive book review of Calvin’s Institutes; Gary North recommended that those Institutes become mandatory reading for all 1st year seminary students. Theonomists were the first ones to reprint in English, some of Calvin’s Sermons on Deuteronomy. One Theonomist wrote his Master’s Thesis on Calvin’s political/Theonomic views)

    And AFAIK, no Theonomist has ever criticized Calvin’s Prefatory Address to the King of France.

    BTW Let me point out some irony in your referencing Calvin’s Prefatory. When was the last time you saw any modern Calvinist theologian write a political Prefatory or any political address directly to a head of a civil government within their own theology book? Calvin simply assumed that his book would get read by the King of France. Do today’s modern reformed theologians, (RS Clark, Meredith Kline, RC Sproul, J, Ligon Duncan, J. Beeke, etc) make similar assumptions towards their own civil head of government?

    Do they feel the need to defend their “theology” from the political concerns of secular governments, the way Calvin did in his day? No, because today’s modern reformed theologians are unlike Calvin since their modern reformed theology has been truncated to a spiritual only realm which has no political or cultural implications that would concern any civil government. IOW modern reformed theologians have made Calvinism politically and socially irrelevant.

    “”Note well how he speaks to the King of France in his Preface to the Institutes. Yes, that same king who had overseen the murder of so many Christians. Note the great honor and respect Calvin shows this wicked king who had committed so much evil. Now that’s true courage.””

    So noted. but again, where is this same courage among modern NON-Theonomic reformed theologians today? Its gone since they just don’t care about any civil government one way or the other (and the government’s feeling is mutual towards them). If its outside the church or seminary classroom, then its considered all to be irrelevant.

    Your point about Calvin honoring the King of France is no argument against Theonomy, nor against Theonomists in general. We are not anarchists, nor seditionists. We fully agree with everything Calvin wrote in that Preface (and in the rest of his Institutes as well).

    “”Christian courage is holding your tongue and trusting the Lord that he will judge the wicked in his time;””

    Is that what a Christian magistrate must do as well towards a convicted murderer or rapist?

    There are practical ethical differences between what Christian individuals are to do, and what magistrates are to do towards wickedness (Rom 13:1-4)

    “”Christian courage is humbling yourself and honoring your authorities even when they do wrong.””

    Like what John the Baptist did to King Herod when he rebuked him for his incest?

    So IOW according to you, true “courage” is Christians being silent in the face of legalized abortion and legalized sodomy and legalized same-sex marriages. How long have you been living among the AMISH?

    “”What you theonomists do with your constant criticism, ridicule and judgment of unbelievers, especially unbelievers in authority, is not courage, it is childish insolence.””

    Lets revise and correct Todd’s words above to read:

    “What you Non-theonomists do with your constant criticism, ridicule and judgment of Theonomists, is not courage, it is childish insolence.”

    Otherwise, Todd doesn’t want any Christian, Theonomic or not, to ever criticize or ridicule or judge unbelievers, no matter how wicked they are because if they do, then its not courage but only childish insolence (which is apparently distinct from “Adult” insolence)

    Lastly, its apparent that Todd hasn’t actually read Calvin’s Institutes or he would have known about Calvin’s frequent judging and criticism and ridicule of those whom he strongly disagreed with. So by Todd’s moral standards, Calvin was “childish”.

  264. dgh said,

    April 4, 2009 at 7:31 am

    Colin, So Bahnsen wrote a preface in his book to — er — Jimmy Carter? Writ Is this the standard by which to judge good theology? And could it not be a blessing that we no longer need to write our theologies for magistrates because our political and legal status has been secured — which might explain why Calvin was addressing the king of France and not the Geneva City Council — what, was Geneve chopped liver?

  265. dgh said,

    April 4, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Bret, so you disagree with the following assertion: “All church power is wholly moral or spiritual. No church officers or judicatories possess any civil jurisdiction; they may not inflict any civil penalties nor may they seek the aid of the civil power in the exercise of their jurisdiction further than may be necessary for civil protection and security.”

    I think that makes you an Anabaptist. Those folks struggled with the idea of two kingdoms.

  266. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

    One of the things that the book demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt (and which Colin is well aware) is that the principle Covenant Theologians of the period, (Witsius, Brown of Haddington etc) unanimously regarded the Judicials as one of the discontinuities of covenant theology. Colin also knows that the book does not advocate a “case by case” approach but a “law by law” approach when considering the contemporary application of Mosaic judicials just as the WCF does in 19:4.

    Colin claims that the writer does not understand Calvin the WCF, Bahnsen or Theonomy. Colin has been repeatedly challenged to prove this assertion before and has dismally failed to take up the challenge. While asserting that Calvin’s position on the judicials cannot be fairly summed up by Institutes alone, Colin has yet to provide any quotations from Calvin that contradict that summary. The understanding of the WCF that Colin challenges is supported by the quotations from 3 of the 4 Scottish commissioners including Gillespie and Rutherford, 2 of the subcommittee that wrote WCF 19:4 and a cogent demonstration that 19:4 is a deliberate rejection of the principle adopted by two Divines who almost entirely anticipated Bahnsen. As for Theonomy, the writer carefully avoids all the straw men understandings of it that erroneous critics have propounded and narows what is at issue in the debate to whether Bahnsen’s own heremeneutical principle for applying Mosaic laws today is that of the WCF. Although Colin repeatedly asserts their identity he has not been able to deny that HFAF demonstrates there is a distinct difference between the two views.

    As for Bahnsen’s scholarly competence in “Theonomy in Christian Ethics and his replies to critics, let’s just say that How Firm a Foundation provides irrefutable proof that Bahnsen did better work in apologetics than in his Theonomic writings. Bahnsen repeatedly cites sources as supporting his view (e.g., Meyer Murray) when they clearly contradict him, he repeattedly fails to mention known meanings for key words (pleroo, alla), he demonstratably makes a premature jump to English dictionaries rather than a Greek concordance in an attempt to fix a meaning for one key word (pleroo),
    and there are points where Bahnsen in his replies to critics unwittingly refutes his own argument. Frame may have had a high opinion of Bahnsen’s scholarly competence in general, but as HFAF documents, Bahnsen made critical mistakes that nullify his thesis.

    Dr. Fee’s sole influence on the book was that of teaching the writer the discipline of grammatico-contextual -historical exegesis, that discipline of which the first great Protestant practitioner was Calvin. Dr. Fee’s expertise in teaching this discipline is acknowledged by many who observe that Dr. Fee’s own exegetical practice sometimes does not come up to his taught standards. Perhaps the best testimony to its effects is the writer’s own. Beginning my studies with him I was a conventional charismatic, a condition that did not survive my exegetics course, this despite Dr. Fee being Pentecostal by denomination.
    And Colin overlooks the fact that Dr. John DeWitt, no Pentecostal, did not object to any part of the exegetical section.

    The book began as an unpublished paper writtern over several years. The substance of the arguments never changed but additional detail was added as ongoing discussions brought new points to light.
    The book had been accepted for publication by one Reformed publisher until a family emergency made it too much to fit into the publisher’s schedule. It is now bing seriously considered by 3 others.

    So once again Colin puts forward misrepresentations and errors (which he already knew by previous correspondence were misrepresentations and errors) as fact. In this he demonstrates an unfortunate tendency of some of Bahnsen’s disciples to ignore the truth when it doesn’t suit their agendas. I urge all of Bahnsen’s disciples on this board not to follow Colin’s example.

  267. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 4, 2009 at 8:35 am

    No one ever suggested that if the government ordered you to disobey Christ, you should obey the government over God.

    Actually, that’s the confusing nature of this debate. Back over in the Election Cycle 2008 thread, that was precisely what (I thought?) Zrim was suggesting.

    (here, here, and here).

    But then it turned out that that may not have been the case.

    My point is not to contribute to the civil disobedience debate, but to suggest that both sides are proceeding primarily by poking holes in the other side, which creates extreme polarization.

    In other words, careful qualifications would help people ease their minds a bit, and would also help people to listen better, which is sorely needed here.

    <irony>Unless we *want* to keep on bickering. In that case, we should by all means continue to take extreme stances and also paint one another in the harshest light possible.</irony>

    So Todd, if you think civil disobedience is sometimes warranted, don’t assume that this is clear or taken for granted: lay out the cards and tell us when and where. I want to assume that you would prioritize obedience to Christ over obedience to Caesar, but it’s not entirely clear from the holes you poke in Bret’s submission.

    Jeff Cagle

  268. April 4, 2009 at 9:20 am

    “This helps point up the radical nature of theonomy that has no ability to take into account nuance or complications or the precarious nature of having dual citizenship.” – ZRIM

    “We are consecrated and dedicated to God; therefore, we may not hereafter think, speak, meditate or do anything but with a view to his glory. We are God’s; to him, therefore, let us live and die.” – John Calvin

    “I think I’ll renounce any dual citizenship I may have and just abide under one King whose name is Jesus Christ.” – Angela Wittman

    Dear Gentleman,
    I really think the anti-theonomists (their choice of label (?) — not mine) should chill out and extend grace to the radical Christians. After all, if we (the radical Christians) are all wrong, the LORD will deal with us and nothing will come of our work… But if we are right, may the good LORD bless our work and may it produce a great harvest of righteousness for all eternity.

    No King but Jesus!
    Angela

  269. April 4, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Darryl,

    asdlfj dfl 23405 vlkjfv drfjf dl 098gdsf';

    sdlfjoc bjhlh 34078a129-8, ][,lhh

    That makes as much sense as your most recent response to me. But then I’ve heard that ana-baptists like yourself have a problem with coherent logic.

  270. dgh said,

    April 4, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Bret, your mother wears army boots. (Be careful, in the OPC that could get her disciplined.)

  271. dgh said,

    April 4, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Bret, have you considered 1 Corinthians?

  272. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 4, 2009 at 10:33 am

    I’ll take a wild guess and say that Bret believes that the confessions are in harmony with that text.

    So Daryl, are you able/willing yet to directly answer as to whether your R2kt squares with Belgic 36?

  273. Andrew said,

    April 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

    DGH: (reply to April 3, 2009 at 6:07 am)

    I am not arguing 2K vs theonomy – I am very much a “general equity” guy, so both 2K and theonomy as thrown around by most here are “falling off the horse” just from different sides or ends. I think a lot of you on both sides have really not just fallen of the horse, but frankly are over the edge of the cliff. The blithe manner in which Mao was invoked is pretty strong evidence of that.

    Would non-Christians be in a position legally to dissent?

    It’s not about dissent, it’s about being. As I said, simply identifying as Christian in anti-Christian totalitarian regimes is enough to get you convicted of sedition/treason and executed. Do you have any documentation of actual people being killed for not being Christian under a theonomic regime? Enough with this red herring.

    My comment with respect to natural law being no defence to a tyrant, was about the idea that being a “2K” Christian doesn’t allow one to escape a conviction for sedition or treason under an anti-Christian totalitarian regime. Tyrant’s don’t ask if you’re a Theonomist. They kill Christians. The 2K guys say there is a law above the tyrant, natural law, the Theonomist says there is a law above the tyrant, God’s law as revealed in scripture. By saying there is any law above the tyrant, is to undermine his authority, since this authority as he sees it autonomous. So my point was that under the Zrim definition of being obedient per Christ’s command to render under Caesar, by not undermining him (Caesar) , he (Zrim) supports, as just and right, the persecution of Christians because the government says that simply being a Christian is seditious.

    So DGH, if you want to have only two buckets — Zrim’s 2K (good) and theonomy (bad), and lump everyone that simply really subscribes to the WCF (even the American and OPC editions) into the theonomy bad group, go ahead. But just because you want to call me names — theonomist, doesn’t make me one, not at least in the way you use the term.

    Also just because some may want to suck out any meaning from the words “general equity” doesn’t actually really deprive them of their meaning. Conversely, just because others want to read “general equity” as “exhaustive detail”, doesn’t make that right either.

    At least you know that if the USA were taken over by theonomists you could always defect to North Korea. — You’re a smart guy, I’m sure you could learn Korean pretty quickly, you start with “Dear Leader”.

    I find some people’s preference for the political philosophy of Mao to WCF American edition chapter on the Civil Magistrate very troubling.

    So until the theonomists stage a coup and actually have executed even 1/100th of 1 percent of the number of non-Christians as Mao has killed Christians, I don’t think you really have much to worry about. Maybe if it is the Theonomists that are ones in the black helicopters — then I guess you do have something to worry about. ;-)

  274. greenbaggins said,

    April 4, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Folks, this thread is getting out of hand. I can clearly see sin on both sides of the debate. If the temp doesn’t start cooling off, the thread will be locked.

  275. April 4, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Darryl,

    … And the horse you rode in on.

  276. Todd said,

    April 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Chris wrote:

    “All Theonomists greatly appreciate Calvin (Dr. Bahnsen produced an 81 audio tape lecture exposition on Calvin’s Institutes. The Chalcedon Report (Feb 2004 issue) was dedicated to Calvin and contained a positive book review of Calvin’s Institutes; Gary North recommended that those Institutes become mandatory reading for all 1st year seminary students. ”

    I’m not sure citing Gary North is going to help your argument very well. Everybody nowadays cites Calvin. When you can publicly honor and esteem President Obama the way Calvin honored and esteemed that wicked king of France, when you can publicly pray for the current President’s prosperity and peace, when you rebuke those who publicly malign their God-ordained authority, then you will be operating in the spirit of Calvin.

    “Let me point out some irony in your referencing Calvin’s Prefatory. When was the last time you saw any modern Calvinist theologian write a political Prefatory or any political address directly to a head of a civil government within their own theology book?”

    As DGH said, what theonomist has done this? And if our government begins murdering Christians, we may need to.

    “Do they feel the need to defend their “theology” from the political concerns of secular governments, the way Calvin did in his day?”

    That’s the point. If theonomists continue to publicly malign public officials and stir up agitation, and eventually the government takes notice, the rest of us might need to write such a letter to demonstrate that such rabble-rousing is not reflective of true Reformed doctrine and piety.

    “But again, where is this same courage among modern NON-Theonomic reformed theologians today? Its gone since they just don’t care about any civil government one way or the other (and the government’s feeling is mutual towards them). If its outside the church or seminary classroom, then its considered all to be irrelevant.”

    Again, a false dichotomy. It is not a choice between accepting the tenets of theonomy or having no concern with politics and government. Because I don’t go to the laws of Moses for answers to health issues doesn’t mean I don’t care about what cancer does to people.

    “Your point about Calvin honoring the King of France is no argument against Theonomy, nor against Theonomists in general. We are not anarchists, nor seditionists.”

    Submitting to authority means more than just not taking up arms against them. Peter did not simply write, “do not rebel against the emperor,” he wrote “honor the emperor.” Submitting also includes respect, honoring in public, etc…

    “We fully agree with everything Calvin wrote in that Preface (and in the rest of his Institutes as well).”

    Really? So you agree with the following statements in Book 4 under Civil Government?

    “For there are some who deny that any commonwealth is rightly framed which neglects the law of Moses, and is ruled by the common law of nations. How perilous and seditious these views are, let others see: for me it is enough to demonstrate that they are stupid and false.”

    “Under this obedience (to government), I comprehend the restraint which private men ought to impose on themselves in public, not interfering with public business, or rashly encroaching on the province of the magistrate, or attempting any thing at all of a public nature. If it is proper that any thing in a public ordinance should be corrected, let them not act tumultuously, or put their hands to a work where they ought to feel that their hands are tied, but let them leave it to the cognisance of the magistrate, whose hand alone here is free. My meaning is, let them not dare to do it without being ordered.”

    “Wherefore, if we are cruelly tormented by a savage, if we are rapaciously pillaged by an avaricious or luxurious, if we are neglected by a sluggish, if, in short, we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake by an impious and sacrilegious prince, let us first call up the remembrance of our faults, which doubtless the Lord is chastising by such scourges. In this way humility will curb our impatience. And let us reflect that it belongs not to us to cure these evils, that all that remains for us is to implore the help of the Lord, in whose hands are the hearts of kings, and inclinations of kingdoms (Prov. 21:1)”

    “Like what John the Baptist did to King Herod when he rebuked him for his incest?”

    And yet, Jesus treated Pilate with great respect, and Paul treated that fiend Agrippa with great respect. The answer is the difference between the Old Covenant and the New; the ruler in the old theocracy and the NC rulers in non-theocracies.

    “So IOW according to you, true “courage” is Christians being silent in the face of legalized abortion and legalized sodomy and legalized same-sex marriages.”

    Exactly – see Calvin above. Now, that is different from exposing the sins of the flesh common to all men, as Paul often does in Romans 2, Galatians 5, etc…

    “Lets revise and correct Todd’s words above to read:
    “What you Non-theonomists do with your constant criticism, ridicule and judgment of Theonomists, is not courage, it is childish insolence.”

    Bret, after playing the common “we are fighting Nazis card,” already played this card. Anyone who criticizes theonomists must be guilty of the same.

    “Otherwise, Todd doesn’t want any Christian, Theonomic or not, to ever criticize or ridicule or judge unbelievers, no matter how wicked they are because if they do, then its not courage but only childish insolence (which is apparently distinct from “Adult” insolence)”

    Chris, go and read I Cor 5:12&13 and think about what Paul might mean.

    “Lastly, its apparent that Todd hasn’t actually read Calvin’s Institutes or he would have known about Calvin’s frequent judging and criticism and ridicule of those whom he strongly disagreed with. So by Todd’s moral standards, Calvin was “childish”.

    Nice try – read it. Please show me one place where Calvin calls out or ridicules a public official? Who does he reserve his harsh words for? Those within the covenant community teaching false doctrine and those rabble-rousing. No amount of “A Serrated Edge” readings will help you to see this important difference.

    Todd

  277. Zrim said,

    April 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Todd said; No one ever suggested that if the government ordered you to disobey Christ, you should obey the government over God.

    Jeff responded: Actually, that’s the confusing nature of this debate. Back over in the Election Cycle 2008 thread, that was precisely what (I thought?) Zrim was suggesting.

    (here, here, and here). But then it turned out that that may not have been the case.

    Jeff, I’m glad that “it turned out not to be the case,” but there was really nothing in those quotes from me that suggested disobedience to Christ. It may have sounded that way if one still isn’t making a distinction between obedience and worship.

  278. Todd said,

    April 4, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Jeff,

    The problem arises when we begin with the exception and expand the definition of what constitutes an exception to the point where we ignore the basic rule. We start with the clear biblical teaching to submit, honor, revere and pray for our governing officials, regardless of whether they are righteous or unrighteous men, or how well they rule.

    Exceptions happen. As a converted Jew, I know a bit about pressure and ridicule for being a Christian, about choosing God over men (I would never compare myself to the Chinese, Cuban, Iranian believers who are truly suffering), but as I said before, no government official has ever commanded me to worship him, nor has he commanded me not to obey God, so if that ever happens I trust God gives me the courage to obey Him over man.

    Todd

  279. dgh said,

    April 4, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Bret: The CRC is disciplining horses? Surely it hasn’t come to that.

  280. Colin said,

    April 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Tim asserts:

    “”One of the things that the book demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt (and which Colin is well aware) is that the principle Covenant Theologians of the period, (Witsius, Brown of Haddington etc) unanimously regarded the Judicials as one of the discontinuities of covenant theology.””

    Reply: if Tim really believes his above assertion, then he has no judicials left to use for today since they are all “discontinued”. And Tim has thus contradicted himself by arguing elsewhere that some Judicials can still be used today.

    The truth is that the only judicials discontinued by the above sort of writers were ones tied to the ceremionial laws and to Israel’s unique cultic status (which discontinuty Theonomists have always agree with). But those Judicials tied the moral law were never discontinued (i.e. continuing general equity of the Judicials) which many puritans simply assumed them under the Moral law itself since such judicials are an civil application of the Decalogue.

    Any discontinuity of the OT judicials is still based on the Theonomic axiom (really the covenant theology hermeneutic) that the NT alone abrogates any OT law (e.g. the ceremonials and their peculiar relevant judicials) and not by any presumption of OT discontinuity.

    And the above puritan writers all believed in the OT death penalty for murder (a judicial law), for blasphemy, and adultery, and many other moral law based judicials. Because they rightly knew that none of those laws were abrogated by the NT.

    So Tim’s historical revisionism simply cannot stand up to the facts.

    “”Colin also knows that the book does not advocate a “case by case” approach but a “law by law” approach when considering the contemporary application of Mosaic judicials just as the WCF does in 19:4.””

    Reply: But Tim claims that the judicials are all “discontinued” so there are really no judicials left to consider for “contemporary application”.

    And if Tim insists that there are, then he still must provide a list of which particular judicial laws are still in force for today. And even if he does that, then any continuing judicial law can only be justified by the hermeneutics of covenant theology AKA Theonomy. i.e. that we are to presume OT continuity unless the NT states otherwise.

    But Tim, as a Baptist, does not grasp the principle hermeneutic of covenant theology (presumption of OT continuity) which is why he is both an anti-paedobaptist and an anti-Theonomist.

    “”Colin claims that the writer does not understand Calvin the WCF, Bahnsen or Theonomy.””

    Reply: I still stand by that claim. But I will give you points for trying to understand them. You just haven’t arrived there yet, which makes your current critique of Bahnsen definitively premature on the topic.

    “”While asserting that Calvin’s position on the judicials cannot be fairly summed up by Institutes alone, Colin has yet to provide any quotations from Calvin that contradict that summary.””

    Reply: There is simply no contradiction between Calvin’s any of views on the Judicials and Theonomy except on the topic of civil punishments for heresy, which most Theonomists dissent from. IOW Theonomists are far closer to Calvin’s political views than Tim or any other modern Calvinist.

    As for Calvin’s summarized views in his Institutes, it makes no difference for there is nothing in either the Institutes, nor in Calvin’s expositions which conflict with Theonomy rightly understood (except on the above mentioned topic of heresy).

    “”The understanding of the WCF that Colin challenges is supported by the quotations from 3 of the 4 Scottish commissioners including Gillespie and Rutherford, 2 of the subcommittee that wrote WCF 19:4 and a cogent demonstration that 19:4 is a deliberate rejection of the principle adopted by two Divines who almost entirely anticipated Bahnsen.””

    Reply: Funny how Bahnsen had no problem at all with WCF 19:4 (which he addressed in his Theonomy book and many other times over a 20 year period since writing it). And its funny how every other presbyterian Theonomist have no issues with 19:4, since there is nothing contrary to Theonomy in that section. Clearly then, Tim misunderstands both Theonomy and the WCF since he alleges a conflict where absolutely none exist.

    And since Tim is a Baptist should he not be more concerned about whether Theonomy agrees with the LBC? Tim has no business bringing up the WCF against Bahnsen, especially since the latter fully subscribed to it faithfully for 20 years, while Tim could never personally subscribe to it himself.

    “”As for Theonomy, the writer [Tim] carefully avoids all the straw men understandings of it that erroneous critics have propounded and narows what is at issue in the debate to whether Bahnsen’s own hermeneutical principle for applying Mosaic laws today is that of the WCF.””

    Reply: Tim repeatedly failed to avoid strawman understandings of Theonomy for in many cases he simply rehashes the strawmen from former critics (e.g. Ferguson, Duncan, Fowler, Poythress, etc) when employing those old critics against Bahnsen.

    “”Although Colin repeatedly asserts their identity he has not been able to deny that HFAF demonstrates there is a distinct difference between the two views.””

    Reply: Although Tim repeatedly asserts differences between Bahnsen and the WCF he has not been able to demonstrate those differences without resorting to strawmen and historical revisionism. Once again, Tim, a baptist layman, does not understand Theonomy (like Bahnsen did), nor the WCF (which Bahnsen faithfully bound himself to by oath for 20 years)

    “”As for Bahnsen’s scholarly competence in “Theonomy in Christian Ethics and his replies to critics, let’s just say that How Firm a Foundation provides irrefutable proof that Bahnsen did better work in apologetics than in his Theonomic writings.””

    Reply: Tim does not even address nor analyze, nor evaluate Bahnsen’s apologetic work in his HFAF, so this comparison is naive as it is moot. Nor is Tim, a non-scholar, in any position to critique Bahnsen’s scholarship. Tim simply has too high a view of himself.

    “”Frame may have had a high opinion of Bahnsen’s scholarly competence in general, but as HFAF documents, Bahnsen made critical mistakes that nullify his thesis.””

    Reply: Yet we are to believe according to Tim that even 20 years after Bahnsen wrote his Theonomy book, he still remained completely unaware of the existence of these “critical mistakes” that allegedly nullify his thesis. So Tim is really saying that not only was Bahnsen incompetent, he was also a complete moron, or perhaps even a pathological liar (if he was aware of any these “mistakes” but simply refused to correct them). Tim’s fantasy of Bahnsen’s alleged errors simply does not stand up to the facts about Bahnsen.

    Also, Tim is really saying that all Theonomists are incompetent morons because they too failed to notice these “critical mistakes” in Bahnsen’s thesis.

    Frankly I have an easier time believing in the Tooth fairy, than in Tim’s allegations against Bahnsen, but then again, I too must be an incompetent moron like Bahnsen was.

    Really Tim has like all naive critics before, simply has gone way over the top in his unwarranted condemnation of Bahnsen and Theonomy. Tim’s greatly overstated case against Bahnsen is one thing among many which undermines and thus nullifies Tim’s whole thesis. So as I said earlier, reading Tim on Theonomy is like reading Dave Hunt on John Calvin.

  281. dgh said,

    April 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    But Mark, Paul was teaching against the theology of glory that pastor Bret professes. Plus, the way Paul did this was to separate the things spiritual and eternal from the things physcial and temporal (i.e. secular in that good old Augustinian sense). The apostle in fact gives every reason for affirming the kind of dualism and already-not yet eschatology that pastor Bret thinks is so radical and infectious about 2k theology. So I don’t think pastor Bret’s theonomy squares with Apostle Paul’s theology of the cross.

    As for Article 36 of the Belgic Confession, I don’t know why you haven’t accepted my answer. I do not think that the Belgic Confession, the original Westminser Confession or any number of other Reformed Confessions taught correctly about the duties of the civil magistrate. HORRORS!! I know. But believe it or not, Presbyterians have been living with that discrepancy for over 200 years. We even amended our Confession.

    I’m not sure what this proves since anyone who reads the confession of my church knows that the OPC does not agree with the Belgic Confession, Art. 36. Nor has it become a source of discipline. It has certainly not caused any of the churches that hold the Belgic Confession to call us, as Pastor Bret does, heretics. Hmmmm.

  282. Lauren Kuo said,

    April 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Isn’t theonomy built on the eschatological premise of amillenialism? That we are now in the “millenial” reign of Christ via the church? And, since we are supposedly living in this reign, that the church has the authority and power to rule over civil governments and decide which laws should be the laws of the land? I was told this by a theonomist several years ago. Could this amillenial view be what drives theonomy?

    There are those of us, however, who do not hold to an amillenial view. Many of us hold to a premillenial view – we believe that Christ has not yet come again, but when he does he will establish a literal 1000-year reign where theonomy will be the law and rule of the land.

    But until He comes, Satan still has a hold on this earth and is still unbound. We will have corrupt governments and sin abounds. Our job is to be salt and light in a dark world. We are called to pray for our leaders so that as Christians we can live peaceable lives in order that the Gospel can move forward. I think of how open China is right now to the Gospel thanks to the blood of her martyrs. These martyrs did not try to overthrow the Communist government or change its laws. They submitted to prison and labor camps. And, in those prisons they prayed for those who tortured them. They witnessed to their fellow prisoners and to the guards – just like the early Christians. They were the church militant in their suffering, humility and meekness. And, as a result of this silent revolution, the church in China has exploded, softening the hearts of Communist leaders, and bringing about many changes in policies and laws.

    What would happen if we prayed as long and as hard for the salvation of our government leaders as we do in listening to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity? What if we turned our complaints and criticism to prayers of intercession? And, what if instead of a tea party, we went to our prayer closets or gathered our brothers and sisters together for a “tea prayer”? What an opportunity for God to truly bless this nation for the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

  283. Lauren Kuo said,

    April 4, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    oops – I need to add another “n” to millennial!

  284. Todd said,

    April 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Lauren,

    Most theonomists, but not all, tend toward post-millennialism.

    Blessings,

    Todd

  285. Colin said,

    April 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I don’t know who “Chris” is, but Todd’s recent response was to my post (Colin) which I am replying to here.

    Todd wrote: “”I’m not sure citing Gary North is going to help your argument very well.””

    Reply: Well unless you believe in using a genetic fallacy, the recommendation that North made is still a good one, is it not?

    “”When you can publicly honor and esteem President Obama the way Calvin honored and esteemed that wicked king of France, when you can publicly pray for the current President’s prosperity and peace, when you rebuke those who publicly malign their God-ordained authority, then you will be operating in the spirit of Calvin.””

    And what Theonomist does not? Theonomists pray for and honor and esteem the office of their president (or Prime Minister in my case)

    However, Theonomists admit to being closer to John Knox than to Calvin in respect to political dissent (I assume you are aware of the differences between Calvin and Knox in their respective views towards Bloody Mary).

    “”As DGH said, what theonomist has done this?””

    Theonomists haven’t written such prefaces, but my point was neither have any non-Theonomists in their own books like Calvin did in his. The example that Calvin set has not be echoed by any modern Calvinist writer.

    “”And if our government begins murdering Christians, we may need to””

    Our governments are already murdering the innocent (via abortion), But unlike Calvin’s French monarchy, we live under elected officials whereby we can address and veto unbiblical Government policies at the voting booth (assuming we have enough Christians who actually care about political issues and about such things as the life or death of infants).

    “”That’s the point. If theonomists continue to publicly malign public officials and stir up agitation, and eventually the government takes notice,””

    And what Theonomist has been maligning public officials and stirring up agitation? Bahnsen?, Rushdoony? North? Gentry? DeMar? Morecraft?

    “”the rest of us might need to write such a letter to demonstrate that such rabble-rousing is not reflective of true Reformed doctrine and piety.””

    Reply: Calvin wrote his letter in response to the then political agitation of the Anabaptist radicals. Your implied comparison of them to modern Theonomists is not only a breach of the ninth commandment, but also a paranoid insinuation based on total ignorance of what Theonomy actually teaches and what Theonomists actually believe and practice.

    Name one Theonomist who praises and endorses and seeks to emulate what the Anabaptists did in the 16th century that incited Calvin’s response?

    Your strawman concept of Theonomists reminds me of the common strawman conceptions of Calvinists that most Arminians frequently assert.

    “”Again, a false dichotomy. It is not a choice between accepting the tenets of theonomy or having no concern with politics and government. Because I don’t go to the laws of Moses for answers to health issues doesn’t mean I don’t care about what cancer does to people.””

    Reply: False analogy fallacy since health issues are not comparable to political judicial issues of crime and punishment.

    My point is that non-Theonomists have no real Biblical answers to address political social issues because they all assume in advance that the Bible doesn’t really address them, nor obligate us to deal with them Biblically. Hence, they invent their various natural law theories to compensate for this short coming, while overlooking the Biblical fact that all such theories are severely tainted by fallen man’s heart. In the end it is easier for them to just ignore political and social issues all together since they can’t use the Bible, nor anything consistent or coherent from natural law. Oh they may, like you, have some social concerns, but really no answers to those concerns.

    “”Submitting to authority means more than just not taking up arms against them. Peter did not simply write, “do not rebel against the emperor,” he wrote “honor the emperor.” Submitting also includes respect, honoring in public, etc…””

    Reply: Again, which Theonomist teaches otherwise? If there are any who do, then they need to be rebuked. Just like white supremacists who call themselves “Christians” who need to be rebuked and denounced. Every group has there share of embarrassing advocates, but it is common knowledge that such advocates are a tiny minority and thus an exception to the norm.

    “”Really? So you agree with the following statements in Book 4 under Civil Government?””

    Reply: Yes. and BTW do you agree with Calvin’s written defense of the execution of Michael Servetus? As well as Calvin’s defense of using many OT death penalties for today? (e.g. Sabbath breaking, adultery, blasphemy, idolatry, murder, etc)

    “”And yet, Jesus treated Pilate with great respect, and Paul treated that fiend Agrippa with great respect. The answer is the difference between the Old Covenant and the New; the ruler in the old theocracy and the NC rulers in non-theocracies.””

    Reply: But you are conveniently ignoring John the Baptist’s Biblical treatment of King Herod.

    BTW rulers in the NC (today) are under an international Theocracy, or rather a Christocracy. There is no such thing as a “non-Theocracy” because Christ is ruler of the nations (King of Kings) whether they chose to acknowledge it or not.

    And again, which Theonomist has ever criticized Jesus’s treatment of Pilate? or Paul’s treatment of Agrippa?

    “”“So IOW according to you [Todd], true “courage” is Christians being silent in the face of legalized abortion and legalized sodomy and legalized same-sex marriages.

    Exactly -“”

    Reply. Then why bother with the Ten commandments anyway? True courage according to you is simply to ignore all political disobediences to God’s law by remaining silent, just like the modern Anabaptist do today. So like I said before, how long have you been living among the AMISH?

    “”Chris, go and read I Cor 5:12&13 and think about what Paul might mean.””

    Um, its “Colin” BTW. And I Cor 5:12&13 is not a problem for a Theonomist. That you think there is only shows you don’t know the topic you are criticizing. That passage is simply Paul’s direction to the Corinthian church leaders to deal with their incestuous church member. He is not addressing the obligations of the civil magistrate. Hence, Paul rightly distinguished between the duties of church and state, just like a good Theonomist that he was.

    BTW do you believe that incest is a crime as well as a sin? If so, what should the civil penalty be? If its not a crime, and only a sin to be punished among church members, then I guess you don’t care if incest is practiced outside the Church.

    Furthermore, Paul would not need to repeat the civil penalty for incest since it was already stated in the OT and never abrogated by the NT. Again, you need to take the whole Bible into account when dealing with Christian ethics. Our ethics do not begin at Matt 1:1.

    “”Please show me one place where Calvin calls out or ridicules a public official?””

    Reply: How about the Pope who is also a public official? He called him “the antichrist”. Or do you consider the Pope to be among the “covenant community”?

    Calvin wrote in his Institutes:

    “Some persons think us too severe and censorious when we call the Roman pontiff Antichrist. But those who are of this opinion do not consider that they bring the same charge of presumption against Paul himself, after whom we speak and whose language we adopt… I shall briefly show that (Paul’s words in II Thess. 2) are not capable of any other interpretation than that which applies them to the Papacy.” [IV:7:25]

  286. April 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    The Confessional Presbyterian, Lord willing, will be running an extensive survey with analysis of the Westminster Assembly wrt Theonomy in the 2009 issue, which is the fifth volume to date. We won’t be flipping off anyone critiqued or the horse they rode in on. The issue is slated for Fall release.

  287. David Gray said,

    April 4, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Premillenial Dispensationalism is a novelty roughly 200 years old and with no basis in the Reformed tradition (or scripture).

  288. Zrim said,

    April 4, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    And most 2Kers tend toward amillennialism. Well, the better ones at least.

  289. Zrim said,

    April 4, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Saith Colin,

    My point is that non-Theonomists have no real Biblical answers to address political social issues because they all assume in advance that the Bible doesn’t really address them, nor obligate us to deal with them Biblically. Hence, they invent their various natural law theories to compensate for this short coming, while overlooking the Biblical fact that all such theories are severely tainted by fallen man’s heart. In the end it is easier for them to just ignore political and social issues all together since they can’t use the Bible, nor anything consistent or coherent from natural law. Oh they may, like you, have some social concerns, but really no answers to those concerns.

    Actually, 2K is a biblical answer to social concerns. Theonomy just doesn’t like them, because theonomy is all about human intuition and 2K is all about counter-intuition (just like the gospel itself). Theonomy is the equivalent of a doctor being asked what to do about an economic concern and the doctor having the inferior sense to actually answer without pointing out that he isn’t an economist and thus has no business answering. Or it’s like a literature professor being asked to weigh in on mathematical theories. It’s not, Colin, that doctors cannot have economic opinions or lit profs an interest in mathemetical theory, rather that those who truly grasp sphere sovereignty know their place, know when to shut up and listen and when to pipe up. There are two kinds of foolishness, one is foolish and the other is wise.

    If Paul were asked to what should be done about the social concern of his day he’d respond like a 2Ker and say something about only knowing Christ and him crucufied. That was his ordination as an apostle. That is our ordination as individual believers and the church corporate.

  290. Colin said,

    April 4, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Chris, I hope the CP will not include your mistaken “footnote 13″ claim that Martin Foulner had erred by not including John Ballie’s view in with his broadened definition of Theonomy. Since the view in question i.e. “allowing the Magistrate to inflict a greater as well as a lesser punishment than the OT Judicial law” is clearly contra-Theonomic. Foulner was right not to include Ballie’s peculiar view.

    The OT judicial law should always be the maximum penalty to be inflicted. To go beyond that in punishment, is to usurp the supreme wisdom and holiness of God which Ballie had unfortunately or perhaps unwittingly endorsed.

    I also hope the CP will take a more critical look at Sinclair Ferguson’s treatment of the Westminster Divines and modern Theonomy, rather just rubber stamp his opinions.

  291. Todd said,

    April 4, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Colin,

    Sorry, don’t know where I got Chris – won’t be near my computer for a few days, so if you respond mine, will be delayed

    “the recommendation that North made is still a good one, is it not?”

    I guess I’m always surprised when you guys cite Rushdoony and North so much without blushing. North has proven himself somewhat of a nutcase, and Rushdoony spent years refusing to submit to any local church government, but instead meeting in his home. As Zrim pointed out, why is it those who spend the most time telling everyone else how to obey are so poor at it themselves.

    “And what Theonomist does not? Theonomists pray for and honor and esteem the office of their president (or Prime Minister in my case)”

    It’s not just the office we are to esteem, but office holders. Only esteeming the office allows us to get way with the worst forms of sedition and public ridicule while pretending to be only honoring the office.

    “However, Theonomists admit to being closer to John Knox than to Calvin in respect to political dissent (I assume you are aware of the differences between Calvin and Knox in their respective views towards Bloody Mary).”

    Yes, but you claimed to agree with everything Calvin taught in the Institutes on the civil government. I appreciate that there are differences and that you admit you are closer to Knox.

    “Our governments are already murdering the innocent (via abortion),”

    Well, I don’t buy the rational that because something is allowed it the same as being forced, i.e. like Nazi exterminations.

    “But unlike Calvin’s French monarchy, we live under elected officials whereby we can address and veto unbiblical Government policies at the voting booth (assuming we have enough Christians who actually care about political issues and about such things as the life or death of infants).”

    No problem with voting or addressing issues as Christian citizens of the country. Since I don’t believe each government policy falls under the heading “Biblical” or “unbiblical,” I don’t accept the premise though. Has anyone demonstrated clearly that NAFTA was biblical or unbiblical?

    “And what Theonomist has been maligning public officials and stirring up agitation? Bahnsen?, Rushdoony? North? Gentry? DeMar? Morecraft?”

    If your system teaches that it is the responsibility of Christians to rebuke government officials publicly for not following the Bible in their governing, and the system assumes the prophetic public rebuking and mocking of sinful OC officials is indicative of our practice in the NC, then you are stirring up trouble. Now as I said, some theonomists are quiet and respectful about their political opinions, but some are following North and Rushdoony to their logical conclusions. Have you been to Bret or Daniel’s blog lately?

    “Calvin wrote his letter in response to the then political agitation of the Anabaptist radicals. Your implied comparison of them to modern Theonomists is not only a breach of the ninth commandment, but also a paranoid insinuation based on total ignorance of what Theonomy actually teaches and what Theonomists actually believe and practice.”

    O come on, enough with breaking the 9th commandment accusations. Just because there are some similarities, rejection of two kingdoms to be explicit, doesn’t mean modern theonomists are guilty of all the crazy teaching and actions of the Anabaptists. Calm down.

    “False analogy fallacy since health issues are not comparable to political judicial issues of crime and punishment.”

    That needs to be proven. Why does punishment of crime trump curing cancer?

    “My point is that non-Theonomists have no real Biblical answers to address political social issues because they all assume in advance that the Bible doesn’t really address them, nor obligate us to deal with them Biblically.”

    Right

    “Yes. and BTW do you agree with Calvin’s written defense of the execution of Michael Servetus?”

    Not really, but the times were different, and religious agitators and civil agitators were not as easily distinguished as in our day.

    “As well as Calvin’s defense of using many OT death penalties for today? (e.g. Sabbath breaking, adultery, blasphemy, idolatry, murder, etc)”

    I never claimed to agree with Calvin on that.

    “But you are conveniently ignoring John the Baptist’s Biblical treatment of King Herod.”

    John was an Old Covenant prophet, Herod ruled in Israel.

    “True courage according to you is simply to ignore all political disobediences to God’s law by remaining silent, just like the modern Anabaptist do today. So like I said before, how long have you been living among the AMISH?”

    Notice I didn’t accuse you of breaking the ninth commandment. Please tell me whether you have ever practiced civil disobedience and when.

    “And I Cor 5:12&13 is not a problem for a Theonomist. That you think there is only shows you don’t know the topic you are criticizing. That passage is simply Paul’s direction to the Corinthian church leaders to deal with their incestuous church member. He is not addressing the obligations of the civil magistrate. Hence, Paul rightly distinguished between the duties of church and state, just like a good Theonomist that he was.”

    Paul was a theonomist? Okay. I never suggested the verse was about the obligations of magistrates. But what does Paul mean when he says we are to judge people inside the church but not outside? Does he mean we do not ex-communicate people outside the church (being facetious)? What does he mean that we do not judge outsiders, but God does?

    “BTW do you believe that incest is a crime as well as a sin?”

    Crime is defined by government code. Sin is defined in the Bible. Incest is a sin, yes.

    “If so, what should the civil penalty be?”

    I have no idea, I am not a lawmaker.

    “If its not a crime, and only a sin to be punished among church members, then I guess you don’t care if incest is practiced outside the Church.”

    What? Hated is not a crime; selling Playboy is not a crime, adultery is not a crime, does that mean I don’t care if people commit them? Strange argument.

    “Furthermore, Paul would not need to repeat the civil penalty for incest since it was already stated in the OT and never abrogated by the NT.”

    Bahnsen’s hermeneutic stated above is flawed beyond belief, but here is not the place…

    “How about the Pope who is also a public official? He called him “the antichrist”. Or do you consider the Pope to be among the “covenant community”?”

    The Pope was a false religious teacher. Not the same.

    Peace,

    Todd

  292. April 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    You mean Robert Baillie.

    Don’t be silly; of course I’m right.

    We’ll do a scholarly job to the best of our abilities; with a main goal of not bringing shame on Christ or the gospel in how we interact with folks.

  293. Zrim said,

    April 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Our governments are already murdering the innocent (via abortion).

    Just curious: why do Calvinists call certain human beings “innocent”? While I don’t have political sympathies for either lifers or choicers, it sure seems like better lifers employ the language of “defenseless and weak” and know the difference between that and “innocent.” But more and more Calvinists don’t seem to and are really sloppy with their language. Of all people I wouldn’t expect my fellow Calvinist to be so quick on the innocent-trigger all the time. Weird.

    I realize this may be to invite a rabbit trail…but…you brought it up.

  294. Angela Wittman said,

    April 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    We refer to the preborn child as being “innocent” because he or she has not committed any crime deserving of death.

  295. Zrim said,

    April 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Angela,

    But one only pleads “innocence” when “guilt” has been illegitimately charged. I don’t think most choicers are charging unborn with any sort of “crime deserving of death.” Choicer’s point has more to do with individual rights of certain people (women) than the guilt of others (unborn).

    I guess if I were unborn I’d want folks to fight for my life based upon my defenselessness rather than my alleged innocence. And if I were a Calvinist unborn I’d wonder why my fellow Calvinists busied themselves with all this “innocence” jazz. I’d guess it had more to do with emotional manipulation than real-world argumentation.

  296. Jerry said,

    April 4, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    Zrim,

    I don’t think Manasseh was allowed to bring up “this ‘innocence’ jazz” when he was in the docket

    2Ki 21:16 Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another

  297. Andrew said,

    April 4, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    No need to be sorry I’m offended, because I was not offended. I don’t get offended at everything I see, read or hear that is offensive. You let us see the real you. At least now you’ve owned up to the idea that your version of 2K is at least as tyrannical and totalitarian as what other paint theonomy to be. Too bad for you though that Zrim’s 2K totalitarians have exterminated untold numbers of Christians while the theonomists have killed no one, Christians or not. Nice!

    You also seem to know as much about what the concept of putting your money where your mouth is as you do of 20th century Chinese history and politics. So exactly just when have you lived under an anti-Christian regime like Mao’s China or Kim’s North Korea?

    One could not legally be a Christian under Mao. To be a Christian was to undermine Mao. So with your version of 2K obeying Jesus (as you say) to not undermine Mao was actually to undermine Mao, because you were obeying Jesus.

    You are closer to the right answer when you say “…otherwise it’s no good.” I know that it’s hard for some people to let go of cherished errors, and I have no expectation that you ever will. However, that which impossible with men is possible with God.

  298. Colin said,

    April 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Chris, your analysis of Foulner and Baillie was mistaken, which means that your understanding of Theonomy is also mistaken. Which therefore means your upcoming CP content might not be as accurate as you think (unless you get an actual Theonomist to contribute to the project such as Foulner, Strevel, or Ritchie or Morecraft). This is just a friendly suggestion.

    As for your main goal, I applaud your aims. I only hope other non-Theonomists emulate that goal since they haven’t thus far in the past 30 years.

  299. Angela Wittman said,

    April 4, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Dear Zrim,
    First of all, I am wondering if you are a “troll” who wants to derail legitimate discussion here. Secondly, you must not be very much into the Word of God or you would realize what an affront it is to a Holy God for men and women to destroy life made in His image by His hands. Thirdly, why do you think most children are destroyed in the womb? I’ll tell you why: Their parents and society have passed judgement on that child and decided he or she is not worthy of life. Fourthly, many pro-aborts (including those parading as open minded Christians) think it is alright to kill a child who is conceived in rape and they are in essence passing judgement on that child that he or she should die for the sins of the father.
    Now if you want to discuss this more, send me an email. You can contact me through Christian Liberty Party — look it up.

  300. Matt said,

    April 5, 2009 at 12:36 am

    If there was ever a list of threads that proved the futility of the blogesphere, this might be close to the top of that list!

  301. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 5, 2009 at 5:53 am

    I don’t think most choicers are charging unborn with any sort of “crime deserving of death.” Choicer’s point has more to do with individual rights of certain people (women) than the guilt of others (unborn).

    That used to be the case in Roe days. Since then (since choicers started admitting that Roe was badly reasoned), the focus has shifted towards the woman’s right to defend herself against invasion. The fetus is seen as a hostile invader who can be lawfully killed.

    Here is the classic article; Ginsberg, I believe, is on record as citing this article as her primary reasoning.

    Jeff Cagle

  302. Zrim said,

    April 5, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Angela,

    No, I don’t think I’m a troll derailing things (maybe some others would agree with you, though). It’s just that after the Election Cycle mega-thread in the Fall, along with this one now, I think most of the arguments for 2K and theonomy were pretty well covered. I just got a bit bored and curious about something someone said. As to the rest of your reply, OK, thanks.

  303. Zrim said,

    April 5, 2009 at 6:17 am

    Jeff,

    Thanks, I have heard that argument is out there. I guess the old choicer argument makes more sense to me than this weird neo-choicer one, which seems as askance as Calvinist-lifers arguing innocence. I think it just goes to show how doomed this whole national debate really has become. If only we’d left things alone and let states decide for themselves. Sigh.

  304. Reed Here said,

    April 5, 2009 at 6:44 am

    All:

    I think this is a rabbit trail (as important as the issue of abortion is) to the main topic of Lane’s post. I’m asking that we all drop it here, as we seem to be moving away from using “abortion” as a means of critiquing theonomy to acceptable “abortion” positions.

    For the record, no one here who has posted on this subject has ever said anything here which questions their basic agreement and sincere affirmation that the killing of unborn children is a violation of the 6th commandment. Some may question the validity other’s affirmation (given their arguments), yet as that is not the purpose of this thread, I suggest we be at peace and move on (i.e., this is not the place to prosecute such efforts – and better ones are readily available – contact one another off list).

    The initial post was concerning Lane’s argument for a biblical-theological challenge to the validity of theonomy. Maybe a good way of moving forward now is to go back to that, outline Lane’s argument, and then debate it point by point.

    I realize that is where we started. Yet we’ve followed the ordinary course of: inference to inference to inference to rabbit trail, to hunting rabbits. Where we need to be is back at whether or not theonomy is a biblically valid type of ammunition (if you’ll allow the analogy.)

    Reed DePace
    (moderator – over-rulable by the GB Moderator :) )

  305. April 5, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Dear Matt,
    If this discussion saves one woman from killing her preborn child, it will have been worth it.
    The comments of this thread have left a startling impression upon me: The Reformed Church is a far cry from what it was during the Reformation and appears to be as lukewarm as Laodicea. I pray some of you will research the Scottish Covenanters and the LORD will use their testimony to fire you up.

  306. Elder Hoss said,

    April 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    R.C. Sproul recalled his final conversation with Francis Schaeffer, before the latter was taken home to be with Jesus.

    “Fran, what concerns you the most right now – What do you see facing us”?

    “The State” commented Schaeffer.

    Listening to some of these comments about theonomy, in addition to wondering whether most of the respondents here have taken to the time to digest the work of its central proponents, one wonders if not a few of the respondents here view the proposition “God’s Law as the standard of justice for society” is really a far greater threat than that posed by the burgeoning state.

    Very strange reasoning, particularly on the part of self-professed “Reformed” people, when we consider (even as our good 2K brother Darryl Hart admitted to me in a prior exchange here) that the first, well, 300 yrs of Reformed thought and praxis was either “T”heonomic, or at least “t”heonomic in the Kuyperian or Dooyewardian sense of the term, or, when we consider that the proclamation of the earliest followers of the Master was a direct frontal assault on Statism viz. the premise that Jesus is Lord and not Caesar (note Phil 2:5-11 against the background of the Caesar cult).

    Now, present hour, how many theonomists could we count in the USA? About 2000, maybe 20,000? Let’s inflate the numbers and go ahead and call it 200,000.

    Conversely, how many statists are there? How many who believe that the state is, in effect, “God walking on earth” as Hegel noted, responsible for, among other ambitious tasks as cradle-to-grave security, the education of youth (through college, according to BHO!) and the total centralized planning and control of all areas of life (here we think of the obvious concerns of abortion and euthanasia), down to the words and thoughts of the citizenry?

    What is the body count of the statists in the USA alone? 100 million, 200 million?

    What is the danger posed to Christians by the State, versus the alternative “danger” posed by theonomy? The State seems to pose quite a grave danger to the homeschooling mother in North Carolina (of all places), who has been forced to abandon homeschooling, notwithstanding that her children are testing 2 grade levels about their peers in Statist schools. What is the danger of Statism to the unborn baby whose very existence has been arbitrarily determined by the State?

    If the fine Southern Baptists V. Bauchum and B. Short are accurate, 70% of professing Christian kids go off the deep end in their later teen years. 80% of them (last I heard) were educated in institutions that explicitly (or implicitly, which is arguably more dangerous) reject the fundamental truth that “In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom in knowledge” and that “in Him all things consist”, beginning, executing, and ending the educational enterprise on the premise that the fear of the Lord is NOT the beginning of knowledge, that the knowledge of the Holy One is NOT understanding.

    Statism, right in front of our eyes, and millions miss it. Instead, the windmill jousting over museum piece objects like the dreaded theonomists continues.

    With regard to whether Theonomy is “biblically-theologically wrong” (Theonomy as it has been articulated by several of the Westminsterians such as Gillespie, or by contemporary worthies such as Francis Nigel Lee, or the late RJ Rushdoony), it should be noted that the OPC ruled quite some time
    ago that proponents of Theonomy were well within the bounds of not only orthodoxy in the broadest sense (ie, trinitarian), but in the specific
    more technically-nuanced definition associated with Presbyterian and Reformed Confessionalism.

    In fact, and has been just alluded to, prior to the late 18th century American revision, the Westminster Confession itself was a Theonomic document.

    Here is a plea for realism which will likely go unheeded: Let Reformed and Presbyterian ministers open their eyes before it is too late. We are called
    to be men of Issachar, discerning the times in which we find ourselves, not quixotic windmill jousters oblivious to the leviathan of the State.

    Or, is Angela Wittman one of the few “men” of Issachar in this entire discussion, seeing just what Dr. Fran Schaeffer saw and conveyed in his final discussion with Dr. Sproul?

  307. April 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Dear Elder Hoss,

    May the good LORD bless you. : )

  308. greenbaggins said,

    April 5, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Elder Hoss, good food for thought there. I am no statist. But one of the most frustrating things about this debate is that theonomists admit no shades of position among non-theonomic positions. It’s either full-blown theonomy, or else you practically hate God’s law. I am neither. I believe that governments should rule themselves according to the moral law. Therefore I believe that governments should not allow abortion. They should not be eliminating every form of Christian expression from every possible public place, as they are attempting to do. By the way, this commits the fallacy of composition. Just because the American government has positioned itself as creating no state church does not mean that individuals, even government officials, have to leave their faith behind when it comes to governmental positions. That would mean an intolerable disconnect for the Christian in a governmental position, where they would have to be a non-Christian in government, and a Christian only in private. So, that being said, I don’t really see my position being accurately described by any of the theonomists on this thread, because they see no continuum where any number of different positions might be held. There seem to be only two main positions: theonomy and not. So, I claim that the shoe doesn’t fit.

  309. Reed Here said,

    April 5, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Ditto.

  310. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 5, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    I should have painted a fuller picture. The other direction that pro-choicers have gone, more recently, is to admit the humanity of embryos but deny their personhood. You can imagine that the engine driving this shift has to do with embryonic technologies.

    They do this by creating new conditions for personhood: sentience and self-awareness.

    The most startling of these views is Peter Singer’s, who argues that if the preferences of the parents would be so satisfied, it could be moral to abort a post-partum infant of up to 6 months age, especially if that infant were likely to have a low quality of life.

    Jeff Cagle

  311. Zrim said,

    April 5, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Theonomy essentially says that there is only theonomy or autonomy; everything flows out from this. As such, theonomists really should not be expected to “admit shades of position among non-theonomic positions.” That would be an uncharitable expectation, not too unlike expecting Roman Catholics to admit something between papal authority and Anabaptist notions of ecclesiastical governance, or the Arminian something between his soteriology and Calvinism. The theonomist must be allowed to be what he is, not expected to make concessions.

    But 2K actually rejects this theonomy-or-autonomy arrangement as a false dichotomy and suggests that there is either two kingdoms that each have a clear respective nature (i.e. one ruled by law, the other by grace) and which have a very peculiar relationship with each other (i.e. antagonistic but resolved by a common or secular sphere), or there is one kingdom where there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular. On the theonomist view, 2Kers must end up pure secularists. But we’re not, we’re Christian secularists who say that if everything in the inter-advental age is sacred then nothing is.

  312. dgh said,

    April 5, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Stunning move by Elder Hoss. He’s the cleverest Theonomist I know. He’s turned theonomy into Anabaptism, as if theonomy is against the State. The way I read the Bible, the OT and the NT affirm “the state.” Having no state, but only the law, is no option this side of glory — but then there’s that immanentizing the eschaton again. But to read E. Hoss, it sounds even more radical than anabaptism — it sounds like theonomic anarchy.

    For the record, I’d say that 2kers also affirm God’s law over all. It’s just that darned question of what constitutes God’s law (as well as his rule). Theonomists don’t want to give any ground to laws outside holy writ, or rule that doesn’t not follow that writ. 2kers allow for God’s law to be wider than Scripture (as in natural law, common sense, the law written on the human heart) and divne rule to be administered by those opposed to divine rule who still keep the peace in their office as officers of “the state.”

    Also, I did not concede that the Westminster Confession or the other Reformed creeds were theonomic. If I did I mispoke because there is something different between Constantinianism and theonomy. It is clear that from Constantine to 1776, the state was supposed to enforce the true religion. The American revisions to the Westminster Confesison changed that. But that’s okay. So has Elder Hoss, because he is now opposed to the State in ways that the Reformers, Covenanters, and theonomists would have found remarkable.

    Also remarkable is the notion that 2kers are pro-statist. As for me and my house, I’d much prefer to live in Canada than the United States, or antebellum America to the post-bellum one, or even better the orginal Confederation of States. Most 2kers I know are not sympattheitic to large, leviathan-like states because those kinds of states readily overstep into the other kingdom — can you say Bismarck? So poliitcally 2kers and theonomists are amazingly the same. It’s just that they have different political theologies justifying their politics — oh, and that 2kers are willing to live in a world with people who will not bend the knee to Christ, and are willing to submit to rulers who do not bend the knee to Christ. Which is to say that 2kers are willing to live in this world, not as if they are living in the world to come.

  313. Jerry said,

    April 6, 2009 at 4:22 am

    Zrim,

    Sorry about the snarkiness of my above reply

    The Scriptures sometimes use the word ‘innocent’ outside the boundary you gave above. Ps 106:38; Jer 19:4-5 and possibly Jer 2:34 all speak of young ‘innocents’ who were murdered. They weren’t murdered because of illegitimate charges brought against them but they were murdered for another reason. Manasseh’s own son was amongst the innocent blood shed (2Ki 21:6). The TWOT says that this word (the same in all three instances) refers to “innocent blood (that is, shed blood of an unoffending or innocent party)”

    Ez 16:20-22 speaks of these babies just as you do (defenseless) in the first sentence of your second paragraph.

    God says that these children are ‘innocent’ and ‘defenseless’ but
    Mrs Wittman is using the word ‘innocent’ just as the Scriptures do

  314. Reed Here said,

    April 6, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Good stuff Darryl.

  315. Stephen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Collin, I would show a little more grace to Chris and make your comments after you see his work. I have the past issues of CP and find it extremely scholarly and well rearched. I would give Chris the benefit of the doubt. He offers a great service to the church.

  316. Stephen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Thanks, Angela. This is correct. We still regard the unborn as children of the first adam; dead in sin. They are innocent because they cannot defend themselves and have committed no crime. No Calvinist regards children as born without sin. Some people type before they think.

  317. Stephen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Thank you Matt. You have said the most brilliant thing I have heard in a long time. This is why many of us do not blog.

  318. Stephen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Thanks, Matt. This is the most brillliant statement I have seen in the blogesphere. This is why many people do not spend their days typing or commenting on issues.

  319. Stephen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Sorry for the duplicate response but, there is something wrong with the “reply.” It did not take my first reply, so I resent it. So much for advanced technology,

  320. TurretinFan said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I appreciate the irenic tone of Mr. Keister’s post, and I have tried to respond in a similar tone on my own blog, highlighting some areas of limited agreement as well as identifying some points at which I believe that Mr. Keister’s analysis cannot be supported by either Scripture or Natural Law (link).

    As you will see from my post, I am not the sort of theonomist that DGH complains about, namely one who doesn’t “want to give any ground to laws outside holy writ, or rule that doesn’t not follow that writ” and simultaneously I am an advocate of a multiple-kingdoms (at least two – probably more like five) view that “allow[s] for God’s law to be wider than Scripture (as in natural law, common sense, the law written on the human heart) … .”

    So, perhaps I’m not coming at this from the perspective of what the folks here would call a “theonomist” at all, though I’ve certainly attached that label to myself in the past. I’m not sure where that leaves me as far as labels go: for the short term I propose the label GH2K (Grammatical-Historical Two Kingdoms) in contrast to RH2K (Redemptive-Historical Two Kingdoms).

    -TurretinFan

  321. greenbaggins said,

    April 6, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Thanks, Turretin Fan. I certainly appreciate the irenic tone of your response. If I have time in the next few days, I will see if I can muster up a response.

  322. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    dgh wrote:

    As for Article 36 of the Belgic Confession, I don’t know why you haven’t accepted my answer. I do not think that the Belgic Confession, the original Westminser Confession or any number of other Reformed Confessions taught correctly about the duties of the civil magistrate. HORRORS!! I know. But believe it or not, Presbyterians have been living with that discrepancy for over 200 years. We even amended our Confession.

    I’m not sure what this proves since anyone who reads the confession of my church knows that the OPC does not agree with the Belgic Confession, Art. 36. Nor has it become a source of discipline. It has certainly not caused any of the churches that hold the Belgic Confession to call us, as Pastor Bret does, heretics. Hmmmm.

    I’ll accept this as a straightforward acknowledgement that R2kt is contra Belgic Article 36. (I just was not seeing this admission stated before in as direct and clear language as posited here. I appreciate that.)

    I suppose a whole ‘nother thread could examine the assertion that the Westminster Confession, as revised, now stands in conflict with the Belgic 36.

  323. David Gadbois said,

    April 6, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    It is unclear whether or not Dr. Hart was speaking in reference to the original or the revised Article 36.

  324. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    In my first discussions with Daryl on this question, I actually cited for him the text of the *revised* Belgic on the previous “Election Cycle 2008″ thread—which is where my pursuit of a clear answer from him began. Unless he has some new qualifier to add, we can safely assume his answer applies to the revised Belgic 36.

  325. David Gadbois said,

    April 6, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    I don’t grant that we can ‘safely’ assume any such thing. I’m sure he can clear it up himself.

  326. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    April 6, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    Just as in the 900 post thread there is a double-standard for “theonomists” and others.

  327. Colin said,

    April 6, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Stephen,

    You are welcome to show a little more grace to Chris than I did. But how you objectively measure that, I wouldn’t know.

    As for his upcoming CP, all I was doing was offering Chris some constructive criticism and advice based on his past published opinions of Theonomy and the Westminster Divines. That BTW is an example of showing grace to a brother. But being silent would not have been gracious on my part.

    I fully agree with you that Chris offers great service to the Church (I’ve been reading many of his publications since the early 1990’s from way back in his early Blue Banner days). I was only disappointed that he swallowed Sinclair Ferguson’s view of Theonomy, hook, line and sinker, and that he didn’t sufficiently appreciate the work of Martin Foulner (author of “Theonomy and the Westminster Confession” and several historical theonomy articles).

    I have also in the past referred to Chris as an expert on the history of the WCF. But Chris refuses that description. ;-)

  328. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 6, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Well, let’s remove the doubt then. Let me again place the citation in front of us all, and ask Daryl yet again{sorry Daryl, but David’s making me do this}, does R2kt square with the revised Belgic Article 36, which reads as follows, to wit:

    Article 36
    The Magistracy (Civil Government)
    We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword, for the punishment of evil doers and for the protection of them that do well.
    Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry,* that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.
    Moreover, it is the bounden duty of every one, of whatever state, quality, or condition he may be, to subject himself to the magistrates; to pay tribute, to show due honor and respect to them, and to obey them in all things which are not repugnant to the Word of God; to supplicate for them in their prayers that God may rule and guide them in all their ways, and that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.
    Wherefore we detest the Anabaptists and other seditious people, and in general all those who reject the higher powers and magistrates and would subvert justice, introduce community of goods, and confound that decency and good order which God has established among men.

  329. Elder Hoss said,

    April 6, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Lane – You noted, “There seem to be only two main positions: theonomy and not.”

    That is actually not accurate. Kuyper, Dooyeward, Schaeffer, and others would be representative of a view neither accurately described as “T”heonomic or 2kingdomish.

    I suspect in this regard at least, you and I would have a good deal in common, if in fact you are arguing that rulers are bound by the ten commandments not just as individuals but in their capacity AS RULERS.

    Several months ago I asked Darryl if he could tell us how Christ’s rule over the nations could be understood in terms of prescription/commandment, rather than merely via providence.

    I was met with “that’s a good question – Let me think about it.”

    Neither he nor others have provided us any insight since, and yet they seem to know beyond doubt that special revelation sustains no bearing on culture, governmental systems etc.

    This strikes one as a rather serious dereliction of duty on the part of Reformed ministers, particularly when we grant (as Darryl has) the fact that the first 300 yrs of our history were largely theonomic. Westminsterians such as Gillespie and Usher saw the case laws as merely an outworking of the 10 commandments, and as such, as having application to the civil magistrate.

    Calvinism from its inception, was always intimately concerned with the social order.

    In this regard, we have betrayed its legacy, and severely so.

    It appears that today’s Calvinists are (largely) of a different spirit (one evidence of this is the fact that many Reformed Paedobaptists can speak of “Calvinistic” Baptists as “Reformed”, insofar as “the Reformed Faith” congeals around TULIP, and not much more).

    And we wonder why the United States is headed for the ash heap? Look to the Reformed church! A full-orbed view of the rule of Christ as extending over all areas of life and thought, has given way to a provincialized, narrowing of things down to essentially interior/subjective considerations.

    All of this is surely far afield of the “Calvinism” envisioned by Jean Cauvin, the Westminsterians, and hosts of others, up until at least 1800 or later….

  330. Elder Hoss said,

    April 6, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Lane/All – Perhaps the best I can offer at this juncture, in addition to reiterating that moving account between RC Sproul and Francis Schaeffer (as it underscores the grave threat posted by Statism) is the following article by the strict Confessional Presbyterian Dr. Francis Nigel Lee (along with other of his articles for that matter), entitled “Christocracy: The Divine Savior’s Laws for All Mankind” and found here:

    http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs6/christocracy/christocracy.html

    His is a most balanced articulation of “t”heonomy, and – I would suggest – a far more faithful and healthier prescription than either the excesses of strict “T”heonomists on the one hand, or – more severely – injudicious R2K proponents on the other.

  331. dgh said,

    April 7, 2009 at 3:54 am

    I’ll be glad to answer if, Mark, you can first clarify to me why the Belgic Confession is the standard by which to ask anyone about the duties of the civil magistrate. Have you heard of Jim Dennison? He is putting together a comprehensive set of Reformed Creeds between say 1530 and 1650. The first volume is out. The Belgic Confession is there. It is not alone.

    And I’ll be clear again, as if I haven’t been in either of these threads, I have subscribed the OPC’s confession of faith, not the Belgic Confession.

    So what’s the point of this exercise? Would it be analogous to my producing article 6 of the U.S. Constitution on qualificiations for holding office and asking if you agree with our Constitution? And if you disagreed because of your adhering to the Belgic, doesn’t that mean you’re not a loyal American? Funny how I still have a Reformed confession to which to adhere while being an American.

  332. dgh said,

    April 7, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Constantinian, Hoss, Constantinian. Not theonomic.

    In point of fact, Calvinism was first concerned with the reform of the church, and things like the regulative principle, which in turn led Calvinists to be willing to stand up to magistrates who were compromised on worship. Philp Benedict is quite clear that the reformation of the church came first, and only from there followed Calvinism’s social dynamic.

    Hoss, I think you’re reversed the order and now find yourself in a position like Carl Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, who put social change ahead of church reform (was church reform, let alone the church, on the neo-evangelical agenda?).

  333. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 7, 2009 at 6:06 am

    Back to that tactic again. Well, I can hardly blame you, since I’m having to ask a question that you and I both know you’ve answered. But I’ll go along and answer your question first.

    I subscribe to the Belgic. It’s provision addresses one issue {the role of the magistrate} directly connected to the R2kt discussion. The language of the Belgic has been helpful for me to evaluate whether I am understanding your position correctly. I understand you as an OPC man do not subscribe to the Belgic. I understand you think my subscription to the Belgic makes me an inconsistent person/citizen.

    So for the benefit of others, here’s my now tiresome question yet again–and I trust for the last time!: does R2kt square with revised Belgic Article 36?

  334. April 7, 2009 at 6:42 am

    “In point of fact, Calvinism was first concerned with the reform of the church, and things like the regulative principle, which in turn led Calvinists to be willing to stand up to magistrates who were compromised on worship. Philp Benedict is quite clear that the reformation of the church came first, and only from there followed Calvinism’s social dynamic.

    And all God’s people said AMEN!

    Social order Reform follows church Reform as surely as R2Kt follows Westminster West. Indeed, I recently wrote a piece making the case that all our social problems are symptoms of the much larger problem of the need of Reformation in the Church. I would go so far as to say that apart from Reformation in the Church the larger social order problems won’t be resolved.

    But what is one of the problems we find in the Reformed church today that needs to be addressed? Why its the fact that people believe Christianity doesn’t have a word for the Public square. Why its the fact that they don’t agree with the three forms of Unity when it comes to the issue of Magistrates and Natural Law.

  335. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    April 7, 2009 at 6:59 am

    What are you 4 years old dgh?

  336. Reed Here said,

    April 7, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Benjamin: not a helpful comment. It might be o.k. to poke Darryl, provided you make a point connected to the poke.

    A poke by itself is open to at least all sorts of misunderstanding.

    Make a substance comment. Thanks.

  337. dgh said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Yes, I completed my degree at WTS when I was 2. Thank you, thank you very much.

  338. dgh said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:30 am

    Yes, Mark, the 2k view is at odds with the Belgic Confession Art. 36, as I understand it. So to is Calvin’s teaching on the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ at odds with the Belgic Confession Art. 36. So too is the U.S. Constitution at odds with the Belgic Confession Article 36. So too is my neighborhood community association at odds with the Belgic Confession Art. 36.

    What you’re not entirely seeing, Mark, is that some history has transpired since the Belgic Confession, Art. 36. The state churches where the arrangements of Belgic Confession, Art. 36 are still at play have become liberal, maybe even apostate. The free churches in America that profess the Belgic Confession, Art. 36, are violating Belgic Confession, Art. 36. And some free Presbyterian Churches in the United States have revised parts of their confessions so that they no longer hold to what Belgic Confession Art. 36 teaches.

    So what?

  339. dgh said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Or maybe the church needs to be reformed so that women are not ordained to special office. Funny how the church that ordains women thinks it has the most to say to public life (among the formerly conservative Reformed world).

  340. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:39 am

    You mean substantive comments like dgh is making?

  341. Elder Hoss said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Darryl – Please read strict-subscriptionist, confessional Presbyterian Francis Nigel Lee on this matter (link previously provided).

    I would remind you as well, that no less of a stalwart than Meredith Kline conceded that it would be well-nigh impossible to discipline Theonomic ministers in good standing since the Westminsterian tradition, in Kline’s assessment, was largely theonomic.

    Or are you not aware of that internecine dust-up of a few years’ ago, which led the OPC to rule that Theonomy was well within the bounds of orthodoxy, and not grounds for censure. Do you now question the wisdom of your OPC colleagues? I thought that was the whole problem with the “Federal Vision”, viz. it’s re-casting of key Reformed distinctives…

    You might also revert back to the original form of the Westminster Confession, the writings of Gillespie, Ussher, and others (not to mention the French Confession, and all that Calvin has written on the State). A.A. Hodge as well has written some startling things about the State (Bret, I believe, provided extensive primary source quotations spanning Calvin, several of the Westiminsterians, Hodge, and others on a few occasions now).

    As to you admitting in prior exchanges that the first 300 yrs of Reformed history were largely theonomic (which admission you recently appeared to retract), I am almost certain this was in the thread entitled “Why John Calvin is Still Important” or another one relating to Federal Vision blandishments.

    If I am “more radical than Anabaptistic” as you state, this would clearly make your reasoning unquestionably “Romanist”, insofar as you consistently argue that the “kingdom” is co-extensive with the local church (classic Roman Catholic erratum). Kuyper, Dooyeward and others are far more judicious in that they see such things as education as a crucial aspect of the kingdom.

    This brings us right back to Dr. Lee’s article, “Christocracy: The Divine Saviour’s Laws for All Mankind.”

    And, when you have an answer to how it is that Christ’s rule over the nations is more than one of mere providence, do let us know (as it now stands, I have no idea how the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, present session, or the redemptive event of the canon itself, sustains any relation to governance and the social order, within the framework for which you advocate – after all a doctrine of general providence pre-dates the coming of the Christ, no – Warfield “Predestination in the Old Testament”).

    Dr. Lee captures it very ably, particularly viz. the extensive citations of just what our Reformed and Presbyterian forefathers have taught in this regard.

    We are, it is to be feared, of a far different spirit than they. Just take a look around, as we continue to slouch toward Gomorrah, to quote the slighted judge, R. Bork.

  342. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I trust it is now clear for you David.

  343. Reed Here said,

    April 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Benjamin:

    Simple justice: since you made the first poke with substance, Darryl’s fair to make one back.

    Done, received, no need to make a major issue. From now on, I appreciate you’re and Darryl’s abiding by the substance-comment point.

  344. David Gadbois said,

    April 7, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Dr. Lee’s article is bizarre. It is full of assertion and proof-texting, and does not interact with 2K arguments. And for some odd reason he makes liberal use of bold type, caps, and exclamation points throughout, as is his habit in all his writings (at least he didn’t underline phrases this time).

    Do you guys honestly think this is persuasive to anyone but the already-converted?

  345. April 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Well Darryl… it’s like this…

    I can either be part of a Reformed denomination that embraces feminism or I can be part of a Reformed denomination that is filled with guys who embrace public square nihilism. Quiet a choice.

    Look folks… I think we need to back off of Darryl and give a little room. Let’s have a little compassion and pity on him.

  346. Zrim said,

    April 7, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I can either be part of a Reformed denomination that embraces feminism or I can be part of a Reformed denomination that is filled with guys who embrace public square nihilism. Quiet a choice.

    Bret, perhaps, but you should try being part of denomination that forces a confessionalist to decide between one house or another of broad evangelicalism: progressivism or fundamentalism. Wait, you are. But something tells me your struggles with the CRC are not mine, since when I pipe up the progressives reckon me fundy and the fundies render me, what was it you said, liberal?

  347. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 7, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I think the “so what” is now to examine the correctness of your premises, i.e.:

    1. that the revised Westminster is in harmony with your R2kt and in conflict with the revised Belgic

    2. that TFU churches by virtue of living in America are violating Belgic 36.

    I don’t accept either premise, but another thread would be in order for that undertaking.

  348. David Gadbois said,

    April 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Dr. Hart,

    I know of no denomination in North America that holds to the original Article 36 of the Belgic. Every one has followed the 1896 synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and adopted a revised version of the Article. That includes the URC, RCUS, CanRC, PRC, RCA, and CRC.

    http://www.puritans.net/news/kuyper051205.htm

  349. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 7, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    David wrote:

    Dr. Hart,

    I know of no denomination in North America that holds to the original Article 36 of the Belgic. Every one has followed the 1896 synod of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands and adopted a revised version of the Article. That includes the URC, RCUS, CanRC, PRC, RCA, and CRC.

    Which is why I was asking about, and Daryl was responding to me on, the language of the *revised* Belgic Article 36.

  350. April 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    “But something tells me your struggles with the CRC are not mine, since when I pipe up the progressives reckon me fundy and the fundies render me, what was it you said, liberal?

    Funny, Steve, when I pipe up the progressive reckon me fundy and the fundies think me liberal.

    For example when I speak up against women in office or homosexual membership I’m painted as a fundie.

    However, when I speak up against unjust wars the fundies think I’m progressive.

    When I speak up against changing the subscription requirement I am a fundie.

    When I speak up against prayer in public schools fundies think I’m progressive.

    Maybe we are really brothers separated at birth Steve?

  351. Todd said,

    April 7, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    “But what is one of the problems we find in the Reformed church today that needs to be addressed? Why its the fact that people believe Christianity doesn’t have a word for the Public square”

    Funny, as a 2k guy I would say the opposite. The more Christianity is used to address the public square the less it is Protestant Christianity. Or, as Presbyterian minister Steuart Robinson wrote to President Lincoln after both Northern and Southern Protestants used (misused) the Bible to support their political positions:

    “I have simply contended, first, on the highest doctrinal grounds that the church had no function touching such political questions, and violated fundamentally, her great charter in meddling with them. And secondly, on the grounds of the highest Christian expediency, that the church sinned enormously in thus driving from her ordinances and influences into infidelity and Popery ten millions of the people to whom she has been commissioned to preach the gospel.”

    Or, as he wrote in the Presbyterian Critic:

    “The preacher’s business in the pulpit is to make Christians; and not free-soilers, Maine law men, statesmen, historians, or social philosophers…. The importance of the soul’s redemption is transcendent. All social evils, all public and national ends, sink into trifles beside it.”

    Todd

  352. Todd said,

    April 7, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Sorry “Stuart”

  353. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 7, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    So Todd, dgh, Bret, Zrim, others:

    If you were to pick the priorities that your particular denomination ought to be spending time and energy on, what would they be?

    Jeff Cagle

  354. April 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Ohhh … I am so delighted that you brought this up Todd. I have a friend who sent me a academic paper on Stuart and his position during the War of Northern aggression. It is at my study and I will make sure to quote the pertinent parts here that exposes Stuart for what he was…

    At least according to this paper…. and of course I think the paper does a bang up job making its case.

    Give me a few hours. I think I know right where the paper is.

  355. Zrim said,

    April 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    When I speak up against prayer in public schools fundies think I’m progressive.

    Maybe we are really brothers separated at birth Steve?

    Maybe. But while we both may pipe up against prayer in public schools only you pipe up against public schools as well. I’d say that public schools should be secularized and Christian kids should be in them, but that would violate my sense of (maximized) liberty. Let’s not pose for the family portrait quite yet, Bret.

  356. April 7, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I’d say that public schools should be secularized and Christian kids should be in them, but that would violate my sense of (maximized) liberty. Let’s not pose for the family portrait quite yet, Bret.

    You’re right Steve … in light of this post I can see that we are probably really not related. This post tells me that you are for liberty restraints while I am the one for “maximized liberty.

    You see, by desiring to decline a functional monopoly to government schools on all matters educational I am the one who desires the liberty of the market place. Take away the forced taxation and allow people to keep their money and and spend it as they want on their children’s education. Take away the regulations for school teachers and let parents decide themselves who they want teaching their children.

    Now … that my friend is maximized liberty.

  357. Zrim said,

    April 7, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    Now … that my friend is maximized liberty.

    No, that’s a difference of ideology.

    I’m conceiving of liberty the old-fashioned way: on a thing indifferent let a conscience not be violated. Reformed tend to be given to think legalism is only ever about substance use or worldly amusement. But since legalism is simply a set of principles which can be applied anywhere there is such a thing as educational legalism; and it’s pretty rampant because it is assumed that education is not a thing indifferent. Just as they over-realize politics they do so with education. But it is, so one’s educational choice is subject to liberty. Most who talk of “handing children over to Molech” fiercely disagree, betraying their legalism.

    Because liberty resides between legalism and license, maximizing it can only edge them both out.

  358. April 7, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    What cold cocked baloney.

    The only thing indifferent about education is your head in the sand insistence that it is.

    People like you tend to be given to think that libertinism is only ever about substance use or worldly amusement. But since libertinism is simply a set of principles which can be applied anywhere there is such a thing as educational libertinism; and it’s pretty rampant because it is assumed that education is a thing indifferent. Just as libertines under-realize politics they do so with education. But of course everyone from Machen, to Dabney, to Gatto, to Bloom, to Calvin, to Luther knew and taught that education does not belong to matters adiaphora. Most who talk against maximized liberty and against the state not being given the monopoly of education fiercely disagree, betraying their libertinism.

  359. April 7, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    For those interested in the paper on Stuart Robinson and the “Spirituality of the Church” that Todd mentioned I posted a summary and review of Maddex’s work on Robinson on Iron Ink.

    It is titled,

    A Summary & Review of Maddex’s, “From Theocracy To Spirituality: The Southern Presbyterian Reversal on Church & State

    My conclusions on Stuart Robinson are quite different than Todd’s conclusions.

  360. Todd said,

    April 7, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    “My conclusions on Stuart Robinson are quite different than Todd’s conclusions.”

    No way! :-)

  361. Zrim said,

    April 7, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Jeff,

    If you were to pick the priorities that your particular denomination ought to be spending time and energy on, what would they be?

    My vote would be Recovering the Reformed Confession and Mother Kirk and the Lost Soul of American Protestantism while also Seeking a Better Country. But I’d settle for understanding how ours is A Secular Faith.

  362. Zrim said,

    April 7, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Bret,

    The only thing indifferent about education is your head in the sand insistence that it is.

    Maybe it’s been yet another long day in the common sphere, but I’m not sure that makes sense. Nevertheless, I think I get the spirit of your comment, so thanks. I really do try very hard at it. Sometimes I feel like I’m going soft, you know?

  363. dgh said,

    April 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Bret, thanks for your concern, but I’m fine, really. I took my meds today. I suggest you try yours tomorrow – ba dop bop.

    Also, if you read the NT you don’t have to make a choice between a church that ordains women and one that embraces public square nihilism, as you so unmedicatedly put it. The NT church didn’t ordain women and it didn’t have a word for the public square other than believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Would that be two strikes against your communion? Ouch!

    Jeff, my priorities for a church, since you’re asking, is more and better pastoral oversight of the flock, diligent catechizing of children and adults, and a common order of service for all of our churches that rids us of the hymns of Wesley and Watts (mainly), puts the pastoral prayer after the sermon, and chants the psalms in four parts. Man, is that an agenda for public life or what?

  364. Todd said,

    April 7, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Bret wrote of Robinson,

    “In light of this observation one must wonder if Robinson’s stance was born more of political cowardice then it was conviction. Such cowardice is certainly understandable.”

    Okay, a man exiled out of the country for his brave stance, a man whose publication was confiscated by the Union government more than once, a man who refused to give in to the pressure from both sides of the conflict to support their views, this man you label a coward, because you do not agree with him. And I see a few posts before that you label Michael Horton, one of our brightest theologians, “stupid.” I’m starting to think that you calling me cowardly and stupid might just be the best compliments I have received all year.

    Thank you,

    Todd

  365. kazooless said,

    April 7, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Green,

    Greetings. Who knows if this comment will be seen or just get buried in the morass? I don’t have time or desire to read everybody’s posts here. I’ve been through this merry go round too many times. However, I thought I’d offer a couple thoughts to you directly on this matter per chance you might want to respond. Maybe I’ll even write my own post on my small and humble blog in response to your thoughts here. Be that as it may, I would first like to affirm our brotherhood in Christ and appreciation for your efforts in making reformed thought so available on the net.

    First off, when you say theonomy is “wrong,” I take it that you mean “incorrect,” and not necessarily a gross moral error.

    Secondly, before I respond to a few of your comments specifically, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on why this issue never seems to go away. When Bahnsen published his work “Theonomy in Christian Ethics,” he did a spectacular job at covering every aspect that could come into play with the subject. Much later in his life he even admitted that it was “too detailed.” I think this comes into play as two different factors. First of all, most people don’t go to this source to learn about theonomy or to wrestle with it. It’s just too long and boring to be bothered with. But, in my opinion, if you don’t wrestle with THIS book, you are not interacting with the BEST arguments and definitions of theonomy. Secondly, because of the thoroughness (as well as biblical & theological accuracy), I believe that after 30 years, nobody has been able to aptly refute his thesis. Certainly there hasn’t been any work or critique that deals with TiCE with the attention necessary to do it justice. Everything I’ve seen against theonomy is usually a very small little essay that barely scratches the surface. And yet, most all of them are the same fallacious regurgitations you find everywhere else. I guess if the same lie (or bad argument) is repeated over and over again, soon enough it is believed. And that is what we have here. In fact, I am fairly certain (without getting my copy out and double-checking) that every argument you put forth in your post here has been explicitly dealt with in TiCE, which was written over 30 years ago! So, instead of making short arguments, why not look them up in the theonomic primary sources, or at least TiCE, and tell us what is “wrong” with Bahnsen’s actual argument? (Or North, or Rushdooney, or Jordan, etc.)

    Now to specifics: after your qualification, you write a paragraph regarding the trajectory of biblical-theological development. The next two paragraphs are written as examples to support your point. Then you summarize by saying:

    In other words, Jesus Christ is the apex of the trajectory of Old Testament Israel, and the church is in Christ. Therefore, it does not make sense to say that modern-day governments should run themselves according to principles that were given to Old Testament Israel as Old Testament Israel.

    And I have an objection to this, but you steal my thunder predicting the objection:

    Now, the theonomist will probably reply that the civil law of Old Testament Israel is of a piece with and is the outworking of the moral law given in the Ten Commandments. True, it is. But it is an outworking of the Ten Commandments for a particular place and people.

    I want to emphasize one sentence of yours here: “True, it is.” Other than certain nuances and an inference you make with an argument from silence (i.e. “And yet the principles of the New Testament for church government say nothing of the sword.), the rest of the paragraph is of no consequence to the above.

    The main point is that the CL in OT Israel is a reflection of the moral law. And here is what is wrong with the way you deal with this. You state that it is an outworking of the decalogue “for a particular place and people” as if that is all you must do to make this main point moot. But it is not. You must give a morally relevant reason and being a different people or in a different place is not that.

    For example, if one is morally obligated to show mercy to his animals in Israel, is it not a moral obligation in Babylon? Certainly you wouldn’t say that it was morally wrong to murder in Israel but not in Babylon! Assuming that cruelty to animals is a subject of morality, what is the biblical-theological reason that cruelty to animals might be different than murder? I will assert that “morality” is not defined nor determined by a people, nor a place. If was moral there and then, then it is moral here and now. That is the “general equity” which you and our wonderful confession refers to. What can be different, just like with our RPW, is the circumstances, not the morals. But different circumstances do not *necessitate* different morals.

    I have let this get long and I am getting fuzzy, being that it is late. But this is really the most important point. You can’t just wave the hand and say that it isn’t true anymore because it is a different place and time. Bahnsen deals specifically with this truth of morality and ethics in an audio interaction of Kline’s critique found here: http://www.cmfnow.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=372 . In this audio he goes into a great amount of detail and explanation regarding morality and the universal nature of such. He even quotes several secular ethicists showing that even they understand that morality is by nature universal. He goes on to show that even Kline understands this and tries to get around this problem in his critique, but falls short in his effort. (Here’s a challenge: listen to that audio and refute it. I’ll even pay you back the $2 for the audio if you do).

    Lastly, you assert that it is not the magistrate’s job to execute a boy for cursing his parents stating that it is now the church’s job to intercede in this area. The incorrigible “child” card was played yet again (of course!). Before I actually interact with this argument of yours on a serious note, I have to point out that YOU say that the CM should be a terror to those who do evil. Is it not evil for a child to curse his parents? :)

    Of course, that isn’t really what you meant though, right? Of course not. However, to set the record straight, look up the OT civil law that deals with a “child” that curses his parents. I believe you’ll find there was more to it than that, including being drunk all the time and beating up his parents. Bahnsen deals specifically with this, btw. But to be brief, the case is clearly that of a young strong man being violent to his parents. It is clearly a case of domestic violence. Now, are you saying that the CM today here in America should NOT interfere with domestic violence and instead it should just be the church?

    Please, would someone actually deal with Bahnsen’s book chapter by chapter? If it is such a poor biblical thesis, then it should have been easy to do, and should have been done decades ago. Nay, it is not the case because it is a very good and accurate description of what scripture teaches us. Not only that, but theonomy is SO much closer to the theology of the original reformers than modern day 2 Kingdom theology is, that those who love the reformers tend to be theonomic. Meredeth Kline affirms this here: http://www.covopc.org/Kline/Kline_on_Theonomy.html.

    Blessings,

    kazooless

  366. dgh said,

    April 8, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    E. Hoss:

    Wasn’t Judge Bork an agent of “the state” and now isn’t he a Romanist? Where is the consistency of Christocracy if you can appeal to corrupted sources when it works in your favor but somehow the inconsistency of the 2k view is self-attesting of its falsity?

    Among the bugs you still need to work out of your system is your earlier tirade against the state. Here I think you depart even from theonomy because theonomists believed that the state was required to execute God’s law. Now, you’d have the church do it? The family? The Christian?

    And before you claim Kuyper as your own, the little notion of sphere sovereignty might be a bit of a hiccup since that scheme allows for far more power to the state than you do. And maybe I’ll get back to you on the writings of Dr. Lee if you can explain how redemption makes calculus, chemistry, or English grammar work (or work differently).

    Finally, I don’t think God’s rule over everything through providence is as shabby as you do. If the WCF is right, God’s providential control is downright impressive. It reads:

    God the great Creator of all things doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy.

    So if you think I have too little faith in the powers of redemption to rule over all things, you may be guilty of too little faith in God’s control of all things through providence. (I suspect that the problem with providence for you is that it does not privilege Christians to run everything NOW.)

  367. Elder Hoss said,

    April 8, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    David Gadbois – I suspect the features you understandably notice w/regard to Dr. Lee’s article are attributable to the fact that a good number of his papers were addresses and/or sermons (take for example, his 400 page work on the history of family worship, a good portion of which was preached over the years).

    I would surmise you have not preached before, but can appreciate, or seek to appreciate, these features in Dr. Lee’s writings.

    As to Dr. Lee’s omitting any stating of the 2K or R2K position in THAT PARTICULAR article, his intention was to positively state the doctrine of Christocracy, and the application of our Saviour’s Laws to all of mankind, a form of address common to sermons (vs. a discursive presentation of various opposing views).

    Unlike Darryl Hart, Francis Nigel Lee actually believes that the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of Christ manifest themselves not merely over the 4 walls of the institutional (read “denominational Presbyterian”) church, but are cosmological in scope. As such, they are PRESCRIPTIVELY (and not merely via providence) to encompass all areas of life and thought, even as both sphere-sovereigntists like Kuyper and Dooyeward maintained, and as the more strict “T”heonomists also maintain.

    Calvin, Owen, any number of Westminsterian divines, A.A. Hodge, Dabney (who argued for the application of the death penalty for adultery on the basis of the Mosaic Law, as well as the State’s obligations with respect to the Sabbath) can be cited in support of this position.

    This is admittedly extremely inconvenient for Presbyterians and Reformed Christians who appear to be wiser than our forefathers, when, I would argue, the condition of Presbyterian and Reformed Christianity in the USA today suggests we are actually, far behind them in so many vital ways, the state of the culture attributable to the defection of the church.

    At least in this particular respect, Darryl is right that we must begin with the reform of the church. The problem you see however, is that Calvin and his immediate offspring for a few centuries at least, did not STOP there, for to do so, in their mind, would be a form of cowardice, and evidence of infidelity to our Saviour’s full-orbed commission, one which encompasses not disconnected individuals, but rather, entire nations.

  368. dgh said,

    April 8, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    E. Hoss, was it cowardice that encouraged Calvin to advise the French Reformed not to rebel against the French monarchy, despite great persecution by those authorities (who had a cosmological understanding of Christ’s rule through crown and pope)? Was it cowardice when Peter raised the sword and took of the ear of a soldier? Was it cowardice that Christ was showing when he went to the cross? Almost through — have you considered that seeking to implement Christ’s power not through law (how you’re going to do that without the state is another issue) but through word and sacrament, the spiritual means that the Greeks considered foolish and the Hebrews weak — have you considered that this may be braver than your imitation of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Roman Catholics?

  369. Zrim said,

    April 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    …his intention was to positively state the doctrine of Christocracy, and the application of our Saviour’s Laws to all of mankind…

    That always sounds good, but I, for one, don’t want my sheriff applying “turn the other cheek” to he who mows down my daughter’s classroom. How do you even do that? Now who’s the Anabaptist?

    Calvin, Owen, any number of Westminsterian divines, A.A. Hodge, Dabney…argued for the application of the death penalty for adultery on the basis of the Mosaic Law …

    While I wouldn’t be beyond wanting death, I’ll be fine with divorce based on NT law (Mt. 5:32).

    I would argue, the condition of Presbyterian and Reformed Christianity in the USA today suggests we are actually, far behind them [forefathers] in so many vital ways, the state of the culture attributable to the defection of the church.

    Far behind them in many ways, OK.

    However, the suggestion that the state of cultural things is directly proportionate to the state of the cult is quite laughable for several, inter-related reasons: first, it depends on the notion that “things have never been so bad (or good, for that matter) as they are in our time and place.” What generation hasn’t uttered this folly against the Teacher who said that there is nothing new under the sun? It’s actually quite self-important and -obsessed. Second, it presumes a cultic Golden-Age which is equally a function of pure religious fantasy and is a fairly reliable marker of fundamentalism. Third, granting that the sky is indeed falling like it done never has before, a more Calvinistic doctrine of sin explains the shabby state of things to be the result of…sin. In other words, the crime rate in Detroit has nothing whatever to do with how well or poorly the local Reformed churches are doing; rather it has everything to do with, you guessed it, sin. I realize these outside-in theonomic (and inside-out transformationalist) notions make certain religionists feel good about themselves and just what their presence means to the world, but until osmosis really works for that big test tomorrow instead of old-fashioned studying, these presumptions will remain the stuff of religious fantasy.

  370. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Funny how he wrote such long letters, then, with instructions on parenting, marriage, masters and slaves, education, and so forth. Certainly not social concerns at all.

  371. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 8, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Where exactly is the Biblical basis for a dual citizenship? Phil. 3:20, maybe?

    Maybe my Greek is rusty: was the prayer “thy will be done, in our hearts as it is in heaven?” Where’s my lexicon?

  372. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 6:49 am

    Right, Josh, Paul had lots of ideas for government agencies, policies, laws — you know, the things that godly magistrates do, but no one else does now that we have the state to take care of us. (I’d prefer they not feed us, though, if their cooking is as bad as my high school — eeeee gads!!! — I went to a public high school!!!)

  373. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Josh, while you’re checking your lexicon, maybe you could find out if “hearts” is synonymous with “polities.” If it is, then God’s will needs to be done in your heart, you heart resides in this world, thus giving you more power than Alexander the Great ever had. Dude, you da man!

  374. Andrew said,

    April 9, 2009 at 7:28 am

    DGH more importantly how is it right for you, believing as you do about this, to subscribe to a confession authored by an Assembly of Divines called and authorized by English rebels? Rebels who not only rebelled against the king but ultimately executed him? You want to condemn your revolutionary cake and eat it too. You’ll find no wriggle room in the American revision to WCF as that was revised by those American Revolutionaries — you know the guys that rebelled against George III. Your church’s constitutional documents were written by the kind of men you condemn – revolutionaries.

  375. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2009 at 8:12 am

    That always sounds good, but I, for one, don’t want my sheriff applying “turn the other cheek” to he who mows down my daughter’s classroom.

    That’s not an issue of the State or Common Sphere, though. You yourself would not “turn the other cheek” to a man who threatened your daughter. Accepting personal harm in lieu of violence is what Jesus commands; leaving your daughter unprotected is not.

    So the issue in this case is not “kingdom ethics” v. “state ethics.” It’s making decisions about oneself v. having responsibility for others.

    Jeff Cagle

  376. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Andrew, I think you may have bitten off more of that cake than you can chew. If rebellion is wrong all the time, then weren’t the Reformers wrong to rebel against the pope? Or if only political acts of rebellion are wrong, then aren’t all of us living after 1776 and 1789 participating in some kind of wrongness? But then if you say some forms of political rebellion are okay, then you yourself run up against chap. 20. 4 of the WCF (not to mention Rom. 13) which says that Christian liberty may not be used to resist the legitimate authority of both the state and the church.

    So while I appreciate your efforts to corner me — you wouldn’t be the first — I don’t think you have quite reckoned with the corner in which you have backed yourself. The 2k theology is a way to try to work through the complications of the in-betweenness of this age — to acknowledge the corner. No one of us who defends it says that it will be easy or without mess. What we wouldn’t mind hearing from our critics is a bit of humbe recognition that the alternatives to 2k are no less messy; I would argue even more so because how big that piece of cake and how small the theonomic fork.

  377. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I second Josh’s question. How do we know that Christians are “dual citizens” as opposed to “resident aliens”?

    Jeff Cagle

  378. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Jeff, am I not a citizen of the USA? Am I not a citizen of Christ’s kingdom? Last I checked, I was a member of each. I know enough math to see that something dual is going on here, like when someone is blessed enough to be a citizen of Canada and the US.

    So are you denying my dual citizenship? If so, by what authority?

  379. Zrim said,

    April 9, 2009 at 9:33 am

    But, Jeff, I’m not the sheriff. Hoss wants Christ’s commands carried out by the state. How does one enforce justice by turning the other cheek?

  380. Zrim said,

    April 9, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Jeff, they are synonymous terms, not antonymns. Two plus two is four, but so is ninety-six minus ninety-two. There are different ways to express the same concept. International citizens are sometimes known as foreign diplomats. One may not always be the other, but, well, you get it, right?

  381. Andrew said,

    April 9, 2009 at 10:49 am

    DGH,

    Nice try but no dice — unless you live in some fantasy world where the WCF was not a product authorized by the rebels of the English Civil War.

    which says that Christian liberty may not be used to resist the legitimate authority of both the state and the church.

    See it all hinges on what the definition of legitimate is. According to your comrades, (and you seem to agree) there is nothing that can ever make a sitting ruler illegitimate. So you can hardly present your position of one of reasoned civility “try[ing] to work through the complications of the in-betweenness of this age” when you give your ascent (even silently) to the idea that not even one of the most notorious murderous tyrants who came to power by coup de’tat (Mao) did so illegitimately.

    Or if only political acts of rebellion are wrong, then aren’t all of us living after 1776 and 1789 participating in some kind of wrongness?

    That’s a problem for you, not for me, since you’re the one that says that all acts of political rebellion are wrong. You may try to play your “legitimate authority” card, but if no government is ever illegitimate, what’s the difference? I on the other hand, actually agree with the WCF that acts of rebellion against legitimate authority is wrong. Where you and I disagree, and I think you run afoul of the WCF is I allow for lesser magistrates to depose illegitimate governments — you don’t.

    So pardon me when I find it hard to believe you when you say you’re trying to deal with the messiness of our in-between age when you don’t allow for the possibility of a government to be illegitimate. The complications only arise when the government becomes illegitimate. Maybe you do allow for the possibility of a government being illegitimate, it’s just that there hasn’t been one yet — is the right?

    I advocate the 2K teaching of the WCF, general equity and all. If I am in a corner, at least I have the WCF, the Scriptures (including Rom 13 and Psalm 2) with me.

  382. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Am I denying dual citizenship? No, I just wanted to see what was behind the term.

    Is it possible that there is equivocation between “citizen of the USA” and “citizen of Christ’s kingdom”?

    I’m just wondering where your reasoning makes room for Heb. 11: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

    I would prefer a way of expressing our citizenship in the USA that makes it clear that it is not of the same kind as our citizenship in heaven.

    Jeff Cagle

  383. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 9, 2009 at 11:32 am

    EH can speak for himself, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want Christ’s commands to be carried out by the state willy-nilly, without regard for context. Right?

  384. Todd said,

    April 9, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    Andrew,

    The question is not whether leaders have sought and gained civil authority in underhanded, deceptive, and murderous ways. That’s at least half the world’s leaders throughout history. Octavian became Caesar through manipulation, murder, plotting and subterfuge. Does that mean the Christians were free to not submit to Caesar’s rule? That would put a strange twist to Rom 13:1 and
    I Pet 2:14 and 1:17.

    And none of us “comrades” have denied the reality that lower magistrates can oust upper magistrates because of their improper leadership. Just because you may find yourself choosing between two authorities at times doesn’t negate the command to submit to authority. This happens at work all the time. One boss says one thing, and the boss above him says another. The messiness of application does not negate the command in I Pet 2:18 to “submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

    Todd

  385. Zrim said,

    April 9, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    Andrew,

    I wonder what you think makes a leader illegitimate? But I cannot conceive that when Jesus told us in Mark 12 to render unto Caesar his due that he parenthetically suggested, “But only if he meets your standards of good guy.” Or do you imagine that Jesus’ Caesar was somehow different from Mao?

    And what of a system of justice that actually employs crucifixion? By modern standards that would be enough to render a state “illegitimate,” you know, cruel and unusual punishment and human rights and all that?

    Sorry, but your reasoning is still way, way more 21st century American than 1st century Christian. It goes to show how authority, obedience and submission are darn near impossible for the modern mind to wrap itself around. But when Adolf comes rapping at our door wanting our endorsement our silence isn’t really tacit approval (as the theonomists suggest). He will likely interpret our silence as tacit disapproval and crack our skulls way sooner than Ghandi or the Gipper. But give them all enough time and our silence will get us hung high eventually. And neither Ghandi nor the Gipper will care much if we once claimed his authority was legit.

  386. Andrew said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Todd,

    And none of us “comrades” have denied the reality that lower magistrates can oust upper magistrates because of their improper leadership.

    No, you just deny that such improper leadership has ever happened, so what really is the difference? Let’s not forget you’re example world leader Mao.

    Does that mean the Christians were free to not submit to Caesar’s rule?

    I’ve never said they were.

    This happens at work all the time. One boss says one thing, and the boss above him says another. The messiness of application does not negate the command in I Pet 2:18 to “submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

    First off employees are not slaves. Free men may quit their jobs for any reason at any time unless he has signed a contract with specific terms limiting his separation options — unless the employer has violated the contract. Employment of free men is an agreement between equals. See the WLC on the 5th commandment since you seem to be need know more about superiors, inferiors and equals.

    Functionally one may be an inferior at work, but legally, the employer and employee are equals.

    So now you oppose contracts too? Everybody’s a slave, except you of course. Nice!

  387. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Hey Andrew, let me help you with that icing dangling from your mouth and down your chin because again, you bit off way more than a mouthful when you said, “According to your comrades, (and you seem to agree) there is nothing that can ever make a sitting ruler illegitimate. So you can hardly present your position of one of reasoned civility “try[ing] to work through the complications of the in-betweenness of this age” when you give your ascent (even silently) to the idea that not even one of the most notorious murderous tyrants who came to power by coup de’tat (Mao) did so illegitimately.”

    All of a sudden you are the bureau of legitimate governments?

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t bring up Mao and I agree with Todd that a cloak of ambitious unchecked and rapacious power clouds every single government that has ruled or ever will rule — including the U.S. of A. Also, you get no argument from me politically about the rights of lesser magistrates to rebel. I’m a Confederate States of America guy, and Mr. Lincoln may have used a little more naked agression than what the Constitution called for.

    So in your zeal to eat cake, you have seriously misinterpreted me on politics. Theologically, though, I don’t think you or I could justify rebellion against Lincoln or Mao on the basis of Rom. 13.

    But that wasn’t what this debate was about. It’s about the extend of legitimate power, and whether Chrisitanity, which is governed by the church, extends to the state.

    Just out of curiosity, since you’re such a fan of lesser magistrates rebelling against illegitimate authority, where do you stand on 1861? Don’t worry, it’s a big corner; I’ll make room.

  388. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    BTW, I don’t think every Christian has to take the CSA’s side. I actually believe that Christians may have legitimate differences over wars like the one started in 1861. Again, that’s one of the virtues of the 2k theology. But on theonomic grounds of Christocracy, either Christ was on the side of the North or the South. In which case, Sherman is either doing the work of the devil, or that of God. Why anyone would want the anti-thesis to play out that way, I’ll never know.

  389. dgh said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Andrew, are you not a slave of Christ? I suppose you are. So why all the talk about free men if the fundamental reality of your existence is being a bond servant to Jesus Christ? You know, 2k theology could really help you out here. You can be a slave in one realm, and a free man in the other. But if you’re going to collapse the two, then your case for rebellion is looking weaker and weaker.

  390. Todd said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    “No, you just deny that such improper leadership has ever happened, so what really is the difference? Let’s not forget you’re example world leader Mao”

    Actually, I never brought Mao up – you are confusing us comrades. Denied improper leadership ever happened? All leadership in this world involves some level of impropriety (Matt 20:25), some more than others. How do I deny it?

    “First off employees are not slaves. Free men may quit their jobs for any reason at any time unless he has signed a contract with specific terms limiting his separation options — unless the employer has violated the contract. Employment of free men is an agreement between equals. See the WLC on the 5th commandment since you seem to be need know more about superiors, inferiors and equals.”

    I am amazed how many loopholes you look for in such clear commands. And I’m not even a six day guy! Yes, submit to the governing authorities, but only if they are legitimate…submit to your bosses at work, well, they are not really your bosses, Eph 6:5ff. doesn’t apply to me because I live in America, and we are not really slaves…
    Yes, you can quit a job, but while you work for somebody you serve them, and they have authority over you at work. Not rocket science.

    “So now you oppose contracts too? Everybody’s a slave, except you of course.”

    Actually, it’s you who refuse the moniker “slave.” My 2k wears it everywhere.

  391. Andrew said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    DGH,

    Also, you get no argument from me politically about the rights of lesser magistrates to rebel.

    Theologically, though, I don’t think you or I could justify rebellion against Lincoln or Mao…

    Politically you can justify the rebelling of a lesser magistrate, but not theologically. Well that is just the fault I find with you. Any action taken that can not be justified theologically is sin.
    So according to you, politically it is OK for a lesser magistrate to remove a bad (illegitimate) greater magistrate, but it is still a SIN before God.

    Well I’m not a CSA guy at all, I think chattel slavery based on man stealing to be a very wicked thing.

    My point was really to get a better sense of what you really saying. Now I know.

  392. Andrew said,

    April 9, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Just because my comments have been focused on the state K doesn’t mean I’m combining to the two. You’re not really paying attention.

  393. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 9, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    The WCF Chapter 23 says:

    It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience’ sake.

    The call is to submit, but notice the qualifier– insofar as the magistrates’ command is lawful. So what is a “lawful” command? You’d think Christians would know where to look to answer that question, but apparently it is not an available resource in the so-called “common realm”.

    The Belgic 36 similiarly says that the Christian is to submit to the magistrate, except when his rule is “repugnant to the Word of God”.

    So there again we see a limit to our submission. When faced with what may appear to be antithetical duties, the Christian should stand on the Word of God and tell the magistrate he “will obey God, rather than man”. One need not be a “theonomist”, as that term is so sloppily used here, to believe in this straightforward Reformed confession.

  394. Andrew said,

    April 9, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Who is imposing the Bible on the state K now? You say the Bible may not be used to determine anything in in the state K, but when I say that in the state K I have equal legal standing as my employer, I’m a bad guy. You’re coming across more of a Theonomist than North. So the bible applies to the state K how Todd & Co says, and only how Todd & Co say. Thanks for playing.

  395. Todd said,

    April 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    “Who is imposing the Bible on the state K now? You say the Bible may not be used to determine anything in in the state K, but when I say that in the state K I have equal legal standing as my employer, I’m a bad guy. ”

    I don’t know if you are a bad guy, I just don’t believe that an employer is out of the range of application of Eph 6:5ff.

    “You’re coming across more of a Theonomist than North.”

    I get that all the time!

    “So the bible applies to the state K how Todd & Co says, and only how Todd & Co say. Thanks for playing.”

    We all wrestle with what the Bible says about the state and submission and are trying to do justice to it. You have your convictions; I have mine. Nothing unique to Todd and Co.

  396. kazooless said,

    April 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    DGH said:

    The 2k theology is a way to try to work through the complications of the in-betweenness of this age — to acknowledge the corner. No one of us who defends it says that it will be easy or without mess. What we wouldn’t mind hearing from our critics is a bit of humbe recognition that the alternatives to 2k are no less messy; I would argue even more so because how big that piece of cake and how small the theonomic fork.

    Uhh, that’s been recognized for decades. You want humble recognition from theonomists that their alternative to your radical W2K ‘theology’ is no less messy. Sure, I recognize it for you right here and now. And here is something I wrote on Clark’s site doing the same: http://heidelblog.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/natural-law-the-two-kingdoms-and-homosexual-marriage/#comment-3951 . And not only that, but if you were familar with Bahnsen’s writings and audio you’d know that he admitted the same.

    Theonomy is not some easy “let’s look it up” scheme as has been so often wrongly asserted. Those that say it is, are either ignorant or willfully misrepresentative.

    kazoo

  397. kazooless said,

    April 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    YOU’RE ALL OFF TOPIC, BTW.

    The subject of this little post is about the “biblical” and “theological” grounds for theonomy. You’re all arguing for and against on the “practical” grounds for it. There is a difference, and this is why you can’t seem to get off of this merry go ’round. Did anybody read my johnny come lately post up above? The real issue is that theonomy IS rightly theologically based. It is a sound argument from scripture, and the reformers were close to applying something similar in a practical way, though they had problems.

    Last thing, there is a “theological” basis for the “doctrine of interposition.” But that really is another subject too. Try looking up “vindiciae contra tyrannos” and “Lex Rex” for a start. Both of them very old “reformed” works responsible for the formation of the US as a free country. (It wasn’t a rebellion, but an act of interposition justified by God’s law. See the Declaration for Independence.)

    kazoo

  398. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Andrew, and now I know how selective your interpretation of tyranny and the right of lesser magistrates to rebel is. As with many defenders and friends of theonomy, it turns out that what “you” think is right becomes “God’s law.” And if someone disagrees, they are violating “God’s” — or is it “your” — law.

  399. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 6:09 am

    I should add that the war of 1861 was not simply about slavery, but I know how tempting it is to run all politics through the so-called theological grid of personal theonomic morality. (Ethics and theology are not the same; Related? yes, but different courses in the seminary curriculum.) In which case the war was about the political point of state vs. federal power. Lincol did not want to abolish slavery and only did so as a war measure. Charles Hodge who supported Lincoln did not think the Presbyterian Church had any wherewithall in ministering God’s word to determine whether the federal or the state governments had ultimate power.

    I suspect that theonomists would also be clueless in trying to resolve that one from the Bible. Which would mean that Christocracy extends everywhere except to federal republics.

  400. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 6:10 am

    Andrew, now you lost me. So you’re not collapsing the two kingdoms. But your opposed to two kingdom theology. Are you paying attention to yourself?

  401. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Hey, Mark, thanks for bringing Art. 36 back to the discussion. But your comment has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the state. A state can make an illegitimate law, I can refuse to obey it on the basis of God’s law, and I can still be punished by that state, which is sort of the point of the martyrdom of Christ and the apostles. If we would be their followers, then we submit to the unjust rule even to the point of death. Of course, we could be like the rest of the world and rebel against those unjust rulers. But would we be then good followers of Christ and the apostles?

  402. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 10, 2009 at 6:59 am

    You’re welcome, Daryl.

    I have not argued that the state, in itself, is illegitimate. The Belgic itself confesses their divine appointment. The issue is by what standard we discern whether the state’s commands/rules are lawful/legitimate in particular instances. It appears we are in agreement {gasp!} that there is a divine standard by which the Christian evaluates such things. {Although I’m not sure if by “God’s law” you agree that we are to look to the Bible for the answers.}

    Where I’d part with your language is your suggestion that a Christian’s refusal to obey the magistrate’s command is a “submission”. Rather, it is the opposite. It is in essence a rebellion against the lower magistrate in obedience to the higher magistrate {God}. If you “submitted” to or obeyed the unlawful thing they were commanding, they wouldn’t be putting you to death.

    Now that we have finally reached some point of agreement, it really would be very helpful to me if you could identify precisely what language/phraseology in the Belgic Article 36 you believe is at odds with your R2kt position.

  403. Andrew said,

    April 10, 2009 at 8:07 am

    DGH,

    So you’re not collapsing the two kingdoms. But your opposed to two kingdom theology.

    I’m not opposed to 2K theology, that’s actually what I believe. I actually believe that individuals should obey the state, just as scripture commands, even very evil wicked tyrants. Individuals don’t have the right to rebel, that’s both criminal and sinful.

    What I was going after was the admission from you guys that the lesser magistrates may remove the greater, when the greater really has crossed the line and become nothing but worst sort of tyrant. You sort of almost got there, but not without contradicting yourself. It is not about what I think is right or what the threshold for when it becomes justifiable for the lesser magistrates to do it, but just whether or not it is even possible. Good men may disagree as to what the threshold is for when it is appropriate for a lesser magistrate to remove the greater.

    My comment about slavery was baiting you, and you didn’t disappoint. — I knew you were baiting me with your choice of CSA, so I thought I would return the favor.

    You guys seem so freaked out over such a non-threat like theonomy that you go way overboard in how you go about trying to present 2K theology. It is pretty typical. Many in the reformed churches did the same thing in the late 1970s and 1980 with respect “Women’s Liberation”. Such a major freak-out and over reaction actually lead to untold number of abuses and not just theologically, but physically as well. So much was the true doctrine that a wife is to submit to her husband harped upon and way over emphasised, that the doctrine that a husband is to love his wife and give his life for her even as Christ had done for the Church was nearly forgotten.

    So no need to freak out first and start seeing theonomists lurking behind every tree. Try to put more effort into it so that your presentation of the true doctrine of 2K isn’t so distorted and unbalanced it becomes a parody of the the truth.

    I’m sure my comments here haven’t won me any friends, but then I’m not looking to make friends with over reactionaries. However maybe some day when you guys calm down just a little bit you might just see that you’ve been over reacting.

    Chillax

  404. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

    I should add that the war of 1861 was not simply about slavery, but I know how tempting it is to run all politics through the so-called theological grid of personal theonomic morality…the war was about the political point of state vs. federal power.

    If general understanding about the Civil War is any measure, and I think it is, it might be safe to say that most of America is “theonomic.” I think most interpret that historical phenomenon with reels of “Roots” running through their heads. (And the Third Reich wasn’t really about exterminating certain people.)

    I know it will quite unpopular to suggest this, but it is little wonder that these historical phenomena and their moralistic interpretations are used to bolster present-day arguments concerning certain legislative decisions in 1973. The issue at stake then was also really about state vs. federal power. That gets quite lost when personal theonomic morality—from both sides—is the dominant paradigm.

  405. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Mark, submission to rule is different from submission to law. I can refuse to obey a command and still submit to the punishment that comes from the ruling authority.

    I’m not sure about answering your question. You’re a bit of a Johnny-one-note on this. Actually, more than a bit. If you could possibly explain why the answer is so important I might be inclined to answer it AGAIN!!!

  406. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Andrew,

    I don’t think it’s a matter of over-reaction as much as a plea for consistency. Either Jesus had his fingers crossed when he said his kingdom was not of this world or he didn’t. The Bible either has direct and obvious bearing on the cares of this world or it doesn’t. If it does then it’s only a matter of degree that’s the question.

    Maybe it’s just my locale where the 2K peso has an awful exchange rate, but I see waaaaay more transformers than theonomists. And if you really want to see over-reaction try suggesting Jesus didn’t die for education but only for his people. And does it count for anything that such a rabid, intolerant 2Ker like me can abide Grand Rapids without the fellow sitting next to him at council being any wiser? In other words, if my 2K were such a reactionary threat you’d think living in peace with rabid transformers would be, well, impossible. I’m chilled, baby, chilled.

  407. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 9:27 am

    Andrew, and do you want to chillax about Mao?

    Really, you may be overreacting yourself, Mr. Kettle. The point isn’t that theonomists are poised to take over the world. The point is that there is this thing called biblicism, and it has broad appeal in conservative Reformed churches, even defenders like Prof. John Frame, and it’s fruit can be either soft or hard core theonomy. This outlook gains further support from the mantra, “The Lordship of Christ.” It leads to the cultural transformationalism you see in most sectors of the PCA, has overwhelmed the CRC, even has defenders in the URC despite its effects on the CRC, and is everywhere in the word and deed ministry championed by the likes of Keller. In other words, the 2k view is a minority position and it is being attacked in a variety of places for being “Lutheran,” fundamentalist, or even lacking in courage.

    BTW, the transformationalist view unites liberals and conservatives. It is found as much in the PCUSA as in the PCA. And you wonder why we’re worried?

  408. kazooless said,

    April 10, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Zrim,

    I see your thinking is still just as irrational (fallacious) as ever. Look up the “either/or” fallacy and put that away in your arsenal. :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

    kazoo

  409. kazooless said,

    April 10, 2009 at 10:07 am

    DGW,

    It’s easier to make a point when you resort to labeling things, huh? (i.e. biblicism, transformationalism, etc.)

    Trouble is that it is a sort of ad hominem argument (name calling) and therefore irrational where the conclusions don’t necessarily follow.

    kazoo

  410. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 10, 2009 at 10:24 am

    You confuse consequences with the first cause giving rise to it. I’m simply arguing that refusing to obey the command/law is a rebellion. I don’t think we disagree here. And yes, once that refusal is done, we will *willingly* accept the consequences/punishment. {What you didn’t answer is whether the divine standard appealed to for the Christian’s refusal to obey the magistrate is found in the Bible.}

    While it may sound to your ears to be “one note”, actually we’ve moved to a different note on the scale. The first was “does R2kt square with the Belgic”– which you’ve answered in the negative– to the question of “how” specifically it doesn’t square–which you haven’t answered.

    It is important for my understanding, clarification, and edification as we communicate here about what we confess. Pointing to “this phrase” or “that phrase” of the Belgic 36 where you are at odds would assist me in understanding where you are coming from so that I do not make any unwarranted assumptions.

  411. Todd said,

    April 10, 2009 at 10:47 am

    “What I was going after was the admission from you guys that the lesser magistrates may remove the greater, when the greater really has crossed the line and become nothing but worst sort of tyrant…. It is not about what I think is right or what the threshold for when it becomes justifiable for the lesser magistrates to do it, but just whether or not it is even possible.”

    I don’t see the problem. It is possible. While I don’t think the Bible answers the question, “when can a lower magistrate rebel?” it is certainly possible, and at times expedient, but when it happens Christians need to choose which side is right to submit to. It is a matter of conscience; Christians will disagree.There were good Christians on both sides of the Civil War following their conscience. I’m still missing the inconsistency this poses to our view.

    “I’m sure my comments here haven’t won me any friends, but then I’m not looking to make friends with over reactionaries. However maybe some day when you guys calm down just a little bit you might just see that you’ve been over reacting.”

    Funny you should mention overreacting, because I was thinking about that last night. Over and over we have heard on this thread that our beliefs are a virus that is leading to the destruction of our culture. Yet we are such a minority, even within the reformed community. Transformationalists have won the day. You got the conservative evangelical market – is John Hagee popular? James Dobson? Compared to the millions listening to Dobson and Hagee, how many have read Kingdom Prologue lately? So you’ve got the reformed community, which is a tiny subset of conservative Christianity, and you’ve got RTK’ers as you call them, a tiny subset of the reformed community, and somehow we are responsible for the lukewarmness of the reformed church and the declension of modern society. Who’s overreacting?

  412. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Mark, let’s be clear. You only obey the law when you think it is based on God’s revealed will as in the Bible? Do you think that a 65 mph speed limit is biblically warranted? If not, does that mean I am free to disobey that law? Aren’t some matters one of conscience, and others where we go along to get along? And if you think a general teaching about the illegitimacy of rebellion is in view — as in Christians may not violate the laws of the state — then how do you square all the unbiblical things the state does with your submission to its laws in other areas? Man, am I confused.

    And as much as I’d like to think you are concerned for clarity and edification, I have read other comments that suggest you could be trying to set me up by my disagreement with the Belgic Confession. I don’t see how I could be clearer — that I do not believe the Bible gives the state the authority to enforce truths pertaining to salvation. That means, I do not believe the state has a duty to maintrain true faith and punish false religion. Even if you did believe that, I’m not sure why you would. Wisdom suggests a state that is indifferent to religion is better for the church than an ecclesiastical establishment. It’s not like the state churches of Europe worked out all that well.

  413. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I thought biblicism was a good thing, at least according to Frame. I also thought that transformationalism was a good thing. How are these “names” or ad hominem attacks? Are they any more ad hominem that “Lutheran” or “heretic,” not to mention “irrational”? Kazooless, get a Kaloo.

  414. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Word.

  415. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 10, 2009 at 11:34 am

    Man, am I confused.

    It would appear so.

    And as much as I’d like to think you are concerned for clarity and edification, I have read other comments that suggest you could be trying to set me up by my disagreement with the Belgic Confession.

    What comments? Set you up for what? I have no authority over you. Let’s not get paranoid or assume the worst of motives. I have no problem assuming you have the best of intentions in your theology, even while I can believe you are in error.

    You could be clearer if you would interact with the language of the Belgic, for you do say some things above which indicate you have not have read the Belgic carefully. Who knows, you could end finding that you don’t disagree with it as much as you think you do! But if you’ve said all you want to say, that’s your perogative as well.

  416. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Kazoo,

    Boo.

    Irrational? My wife is the one who gets her peace of mind from a little box out of England. No, you’re thinking of her mom who pleaded with me to pray the demons out. And if it weren’t for lotsa help from me, my mother wouldn’t have finally been diagnosed bi-polar. I’m really, really, REALLY bad at irrationality.

  417. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 11:56 am

    Mark, yes, you’re so charitable not to pick up on my being confused.

    Does it help you out if I say I agree with everything else in the Belgic Confession? Does that get me any points? Or does the whole Reformed confessional tradition depend on the magistrate’s duties?

  418. David Gadbois said,

    April 10, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Dr. Hart,

    You can count me as confused about your position regarding the revised Belgic 36. Not only do I not see it as being incompatible with 2K theology, but I’m sure your old WSC colleagues Bob Godfrey, R.S. Clark, Horton, and Riddlebarger would not see them as incompatible, seeing as how they subscribe the revised Belgic as ministers in the URC.

  419. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Kazoo,

    If the either/or dichtomy I suggest is to be dismissed as irrational I would assume that means you think the Bible does indeed have direct and obvious bearing on the cares of this world. What finally distinguishes you, then, from 20th century liberals who also believed that? I know you’ll come up with a crafty answer (crafty is better than irrational, yes?), but let me cut to it: the only difference is that they had a different kind of social gospel than you. You both hold to the same principle, you just apply it differently.

  420. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Mr. Gadbois (please forgive an improper title):

    I’m not sure what you’re asking of me, nor am I clear that I need to answerfor my friends and former colleagues at WSC.

    Here is the footnote to Article 36 of the URC’s Confession of Faith:
    “In the original text this sentence read as follows: “Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also that they protect the sacred ministry, and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship, that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted.” The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1910, recognizing the unbiblical teaching, contained in this sentence, concerning the freedom of religion and concerning the duty of the state to suppress false religion, saw fit to add an explanatory footnote. The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1938, agreeing with the Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1910 as to the unbiblical character of the teaching referred to, but recognizing a conflict between the objectionable clauses in the Article and its footnote, decided to eliminate the footnote and to make the change in the text of the Article which appears above, corresponding to the change adopted in 1905 by the General Synod of the “Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland.” (See Christian Reformed Church Acts of Synod, 1910, pp.9,104-105; also Christian Reformed Church Acts of Synod, 1938, p. 17.). The Christian Reformed Church Synod of 1958 approved the following substitute statement which has been referred to other Reformed Churches accepting the Belgic Confession as their creed for evaluation and reaction: “And being called in this manner to contribute to the advancement of a society that is pleasing to God, the civil rulers have the task, in subjection to the law of God, while completely refraining from every tendency toward exercising absolute authority, and while functioning in the sphere entrusted to them and with the means belonging to them, to remove every obstacle to the preaching of the gospel and to every aspect of divine worship, in order that the Word of God may have free course, the kingdom of Jesus Christ may make progress, and every anti-christian power may be resisted.”

    I have no problem with this, and in fact it supports the view that the American revisions of the WCF were not as crazy as some allege because when the CRC was adding these footnotes, the Kuyperians were clearly in the ascendancy, which suggests that there is a better sort of transformationalism, one that recognizes two kingdoms as well as three spheres.

    Be that as it may, if you and Mark could clarify what specifically I’m supposed to affirm or deny, I’ll try to respond. As I understand your view, the magistrate is not to impede the ministry, nor is it to enforce laws against unbelief or false religion. If that’s what you’re affirming, I’m on board. But be careful if Pastor Bret finds out.

  421. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    Word squared.

  422. Mark Van Der Molen said,

    April 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Daryl, you’re right– that was an uneceessary poke and weak of me to take it. Sorry.

    It would help if you told me what you mean by “everything else” in the Belgic, so at least by deduction, I could then identify the specific phrases you disagree with. I *think* I know what they are, but as David G. has rightly corrected me, I am not going to *assume* I know exactly what those objectionable phrases are. All I know now is that you see your position to be at odds with some parts of it.

    And no, the whole Reformed confessional tradition does not depend on the magistrate’s duties.

    Nor am I in a position to hand out “points”. Who’d want them from me anyway? :-)

  423. David Gadbois said,

    April 10, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Perhaps it is prejudicial for you to call it ‘cares of the world’, but doesn’t the 2nd use of the Law indeed teach that the Bible has direct bearing on the ordering of this world?

  424. kazooless said,

    April 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    I was wondering what it would take to finally get recognized. I guess a short comment bringing into question one’s *argument* was all that was needed. ;-)

    Regarding the labels, I see them all the time in discussions like these and they are unhelpful (at least from a sincere intellectual perspective). They are used as if they carry a negative light, and is just a form of name calling. Whether the conclusion of the argument is true or not, using an *invalid* form makes the *argument* unsound, a.k.a: irrational.

    I have to work with my children (homeschooled) quite a bit with their logic courses, so my ears and eyes are a bit sensitive to *invalid* forms. I see a lot of it in discussions like this (and am most assuradly guilty of such myself as well!).

    Anyway, it’s nice to finally be acknowledged. :D

    kazoo (with a clue!)

  425. kazooless said,

    April 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

    Z,

    http://www.internetlogic.org/argtypes.html

    Notice I said your ‘thinking’ was irrational, not YOU. Keep it in context too, so your thinking *in this thread* is irrational. And by irrational, I mean that your form of argument is *invalid.* That doesn’t mean that the conclusion you were drawing is untrue (not *necessarily* at least). I wasn’t even engaging with the truth or falsity of what you were trying to say, but to just point out that you arrived there in an *irrational* way (aka with an *invalid* form). That’s all.

    Whenever you see someone give an “either this or that” argument, you should recognize that it is most likely a “false dichotomy.” Even if we can’t immediately come up with a third or fourth or fifth alternative, one almost assuredly exists.

    And by now trying to corner me into a “social gospel” label, you’re now doing was dgh was doing earlier with the ad hominem.

    One thing I would like to point out here now, is that even though this thread would seem to indicate that the 2K guys and Theonomic guys are at gigantic odds, in practicality, I don’t think that is true. One of my best friends in my congregation is a die hard 2K guy (RubeRad), and we have MUCH more in common than not. We worship and fellowship and confess together. We subscribe to the same confessions, we raise our children together, etc. God has truly given us a spirit of unity, even though we differ on the nature of Christ’s rule and its extent and what we want to call a kingdom, and how each kingdom ought to be ruled.

    Peace,

    kazoo

  426. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    David G.,

    …but doesn’t the 2nd use of the Law indeed teach that the Bible has direct bearing on the ordering of this world?

    You don’t need the Bible to know that you are to love your neighbor as yourself. Neither Moses nor Jesus had to descend from on high to tell us what we already know (law), rather what we don’t know (gospel). Or do we imagine that the Israelites had no idea what not to steal meant? But they quaked in their sandals because that law written on their hearts was what was to justify them. If Jesus’ own hermeneutic is right (that the Scriptures are all about him) then the Bible doesn’t tell us how to order this world, rather how to get into the next. Once you make it relevant to the cares of this temporal age you undermine its purpose, or at least compromise it.

    Kazoo,

    What is social gospel then? Do I really have to tip the sacred cow of soft and hard theonomists alike and suggest that reproductive politics are precisely that to get you to own up? Honestly, I don’t know why you think the term “social gospel” is so awful when you think the gospel has obvious implications for worldly concerns.

  427. kazooless said,

    April 10, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Z,

    You really crack me up, my friend. Once again you are missing the point. I’ve been on this merry-go-round with you in the past. I’m not trying to re-board. I know where you stand and you know where I stand.

    What’s funny is that I’m pointing out that you are using *fallacious* arguments, and you just want to defend the use of them once it is pointed out. LOL I point out that you’re guilty of relying on an ad hominem by applying the label of “social gospel,” and instead of saying “huh, you know what? You’re right! I am labeling you,” you argue for the use of such an *irrational* argument.

    Zrim paraphrased:

    I know that logicians would say that the *form* of my argument is invalid, but heck, I’m going to stick with it anyway. We all know “social gospel” is bad because of those “liberals” in the past that ordained women, and theonomists adhere to a “social gospel” too. The bible belongs in church and it better not ever be used in society.

    I hope you take this with a light heart. I really am chuckling at this. Go ahead and label me however you want and keep using your irrational arguments if it makes you happy. :D

    kazoo

  428. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 10, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    If Jesus’ own hermeneutic is right (that the Scriptures are all about him) then the Bible doesn’t tell us how to order this world, rather how to get into the next. Once you make it relevant to the cares of this temporal age you undermine its purpose, or at least compromise it.

    Zrim, I think your conclusion is unjustified.

    First, it’s not logically valid on the face of it. Grant that the Scriptures are all about Jesus. Does it follow therefore that they are all about getting into the next world as opposed to dealing with the cares of this one?

    No, not at all. Unless one thinks of “Jesus” as “justification” only.

    Second, one finds throughout the Gospels and epistles various kinds of advice, specific and general alike, about dealing with the cares of this world. Sometimes that advice is negative, sometimes positive.

    But never is it assumed in Scripture that “getting into the next world” is diametrically opposed to “the cares of this world.” Rather, Jesus teaches that the root of New Birth produces fruit in this world.

    Jeff Cagle

  429. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 10, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    The point is that there is this thing called biblicism, and it has broad appeal in conservative Reformed churches, even defenders like Prof. John Frame, and it’s fruit can be either soft or hard core theonomy. This outlook gains further support from the mantra, “The Lordship of Christ.” It leads to the cultural transformationalism you see in most sectors of the PCA, has overwhelmed the CRC, even has defenders in the URC despite its effects on the CRC, and is everywhere in the word and deed ministry championed by the likes of Keller.

    So you’re saying that paying closer attention to the Bible and the lordship of Christ has had deleterious effects on Reformed denominations, making them be more liberal?

    Perhaps biblicism is responsible for the CRC’s decision to ordain women?

    I’m having trouble understanding the analysis here.

    Jeff Cagle

  430. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Kazoo,

    What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good merry-go-round.

    So, let me get this straight: you should be able to say that I am all wet and I should say you’re right? Well, how about I meet you half way and ask what is so bad about trafficking in labels? I label myself 2K and all sorts of other things.

    But why can’t you just answer the question and tell me what social gospel means to you? To be honest, if the gospel is relevant to the cares of this world I’ll take the liberals hands down—the arguments about the poor, disenfranchised, socially marginalized and weak go really well with the biblical texts. But Reformed trying to be Methodists comes off as Reformed trying to be Methodists.

    Jeff,

    If you’re right then I don’t know how perfectly Christ-hating pagans fare so awfully well in this world. How do people who have never cracked a Bible have so much success in all facets of life? One answer is that their success is not as much as it could be because they don’t ground it in Scripture. But when the pagan doctor discovers what ails me and I feel better his success is really hard to quarrel with. And if the gospel is not diametrically opposed to the cares of this world what gives with Jesus resisting the devil and not coming down off the cross?

  431. Zrim said,

    April 10, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Kazoo,

    What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good merry-go-round.

    So, let me get this straight: you should be able to say that I am all wet and I should say you’re right? Well, how about I meet you half way and ask what is so bad about trafficking in labels? I label myself 2K and all sorts of other things.

    But why can’t you just answer the question and tell me what social gospel means to you? To be honest, if the gospel is relevant to the cares of this world I’ll take the liberals hands down—the arguments about the poor, disenfranchised, socially marginalized and weak go really well with the biblical texts. But Reformed trying to be Methodists comes off as Reformed trying to be Methodists.

    Jeff,

    If you’re right then I don’t know how perfectly Christ-hating pagans fare so awfully well in this world. How do people who have never cracked a Bible have so much success in all facets of life? One answer is that their success is not as much as it could be because they don’t ground it in Scripture. But when the pagan doctor discovers what ails me and I feel better his success is really hard to quarrel with. And if the gospel is not diametrically opposed to the cares of this world what gives with Jesus resisting the devil and not coming down off the cross?

  432. dgh said,

    April 10, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Jeff, if you’ve read A Secular Faith, then you should be able to understand what I wrote here. The mainline churches embraced the social gospel under the banner of the Bible, following Jesus, and the Lordship of Christ. There are correct ways of reading the Bible (WCF) and there are incorrect ways (Jerry Falwell and Jim Wallis). The same goes for the Lordship of Christ. The point is that if you handle those ideas the wrong way, and it gets you to a place where it’s hard to tell the difference between the kingdom of Christ and and healthy civil society, then you are going to become a liberal Protestant. The history of American Protestantism shows how this has happened both for the liberal mainline and for the conservative evangelicals. The Social Gospel is wrong, whether Democratic or Republican, NT Wright or Stanley Hauerwas.

    The visible church is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation. I didn’t make that up. It’s from the WCF.

  433. David Gadbois said,

    April 10, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Zrim said You don’t need the Bible to know that you are to love your neighbor as yourself.

    Agreed. But the sufficiency of natural law (which I affirm against the theonomists) does not negate the fact that the moral law taught in Scripture (special revelation) overlaps with natural law (general revelation). That fact is of no small significance.

    The Bible is not just Gospel, it is also Law. And it is highly artificial to limit its exposition of the Law to the First Use.

    If Jesus’ own hermeneutic is right (that the Scriptures are all about him) then the Bible doesn’t tell us how to order this world, rather how to get into the next. Once you make it relevant to the cares of this temporal age you undermine its purpose, or at least compromise it.

    Kazooless is right in saying that this is logically fallacious. It is true that Jesus’ own hermeneutic is right, which is why we affirm the 1st use of the Law. But I have never met anyone, until you, who thought that the 1st use of the Law logically excluded the 3rd use of the Law (at least) and the 2nd use of the Law (by implication; see above).

    And I do indeed see your comments as even affecting the 3rd use of the Law. If you argue that the Bible *only* expounds the Law for the purposes of the First Use (pointing to Christ), then this excludes the 3rd Use (in the lives of believers being sanctified) as well as the 2nd (civil use). But is the sanctification of the believer a ‘care of the temporal age’, or is sanctification somehow NOT ‘about Christ’? Or are you illegitimately partitioning Christ’s character as Savior from Christ’s character as LORD? I’m genuinely trying to parse your line of thinking here. Because if you affirm the 3rd use of the Law in Scripture then you have undermined your objection to the 2nd Use in the civil realm.

  434. Zrim said,

    April 11, 2009 at 7:17 am

    David,

    I quite agree that “the sufficiency of natural law (which I affirm against the theonomists) does not negate the fact that the moral law taught in Scripture (special revelation) overlaps with natural law (general revelation). That fact is of no small significance.” I don’t see how that conflicts with anything I’ve said.

    Everything I’ve ever said is said with a conventional understanding of the three uses of the law. I’m not clear on how anything I’ve said compromises or logically excludes any one of them. And the sanctification of the believer is structured by the law, empowered by the Spirit.

    My point in saying that the Bible isn’t concerned for the cares of this world is really directed more at the spirit of theonomy than its letter. Who could argue against the second use of the law? Not me. But theonomy isn’t about the second use of the law; if theonomists were concerned for the second use they’d also agree with your formulation above about natural law and move on; but it’s about take over in the here and now. It’s an impatient theology of glory that is unsatisfied with Jesus’ fulfillment of the law. While it may freely and ostensibly admit to it, the whole system actually works to undermine the finished work of Jesus. And it is all premised on an undue fixation with this world.

  435. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I think David G’s line of reasoning is pretty effective here, Zrim. You say that you don’t see a conflict between your view and the standard uses of the Law — but 2k-ers such as David do see that conflict.

    I mean, the three uses come straight from Calvin (Inst. 2.7), and there is no question that his second use has in mind the magistrate.

    The second office of the Law is, by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice. Such persons are curbed not because their mind is inwardly moved and affected, but because, as if a bridle were laid upon them, they refrain their hands from external acts, and internally check the depravity which would otherwise petulantly burst forth. It is true, they are not on this account either better or more righteous in the sight of God. For although restrained by terror or shame, they dare not proceed to what their mind has conceived, nor give full license to their raging lust, their heart is by no means trained to fear and obedience. Nay, the more they restrain themselves, the more they are inflamed, the more they rage and boil, prepared for any act or outbreak whatsoever were it not for the terror of the law. And not only so, but they thoroughly detest the law itself, and execrate the Lawgiver; so that if they could, they would most willingly annihilate him, because they cannot bear either his ordering what is right, or his avenging the despisers of his Majesty.- Calv. Inst. 2.7.10

    You specifically deny the use of Scripture to the magistrate, saying that the Word is reserved only to the Church.

    This is not a debating point I’m raising — it’s a real conflict between the view you express (but perhaps not what you hold?) and the Reformed tradition.

    The fundamental difference is that for Calvin and in the Reformed tradition, the standards of “good” and “evil” are articulated directly in the Word.

    For you, a non-Christian physician can do “good” without the Word, armed only with his conscience.

    Maybe you’re right? But if so, large swaths of Reformed theology need re-thinking.

    Jeff Cagle

  436. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2009 at 9:26 am

    OK, that’s what I thought you might be saying: that mistaken exegesis and an incorrect view of Christ’s Lordship lead to problems.

    But in that case, shouldn’t the rhetorical battle be fought at the level of “correct” exegesis and Lordship, rather than attacking “biblicism” and “the Lordship of Christ”?

    It puts you at a real disadvantage when your cure for what ails the Church is to get rid of biblicism and the Lordship of Christ. :)

    I’ve not yet raised this point in discussion, but for me, political power and influence has always been parallel to money, another wordly care that is handled much more extensively in Scripture.

    It strikes me that you treat politics like the “third rail” of Christendom — touch the political Baal and die.

    Perhaps, though, politics is like money, an inevitable but potentially perilous reality in our Now-and-Not-Yet existence.

    If that’s the case, then the proper stance of the Church is not to eschew social and political involvement but instead to engage in it wisely, for the sake of the kingdom; just as the proper use of riches is to invest them for the sake of the kingdom, rather than to try to “do without money.” (as the Carthusians did in the Middle Ages — and became fabulously wealthy and corrupt)

    In other words, perhaps what was wrong with the liberal Social Gospel was not that the liberals engaged in the cares of the world — does not Jesus require that, after all? (Sheep and Goats discourse, Matt. 25.31ff). Instead, perhaps the liberal Social Gospel was wrong because it was executed in an idolatrous way because the liberals had already previously surrender their faith at the altar of higher criticism. They gravitated towards social causes not out of obedience to the Lordship of Christ and of close reading of Scripture, but rather out of a sense that “this is all that’s left of my faith — to obey the moral teachings of Christ.”

    Historically, is that a possible read?

    Peace,
    Jeff Cagle

  437. Todd said,

    April 11, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Jeff,

    I’m curious what you believe the Bible says about money that would parallel the church getting involved politically as part of her proclamation. (Remember, we are arguing for the spirituality of the church, not that Christians should never get politically involved. And we are arguing that the purpose of Scripture is not to provide answers to American politics , health and diet, etc…)

    Thanks,

    Todd

  438. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I’m curious what you believe the Bible says about money that would parallel the church getting involved politically as part of her proclamation.

    I think you’re asking, “How does political involvement relate to Gospel proclamation?”

    And put that way, I doubt that it does, especially if we’re thinking about the Gospel in justificatory terms.

    So already, we can criticize the liberal Social Gospel on the grounds that it conflated two disparate ideas: “The Good News is that there’s better living through Jesus’ ethics.”

    We might likewise criticize a legalist who proclaims obedience to the Law as part of the Gospel proclamation.

    And yet having criticized, we also would have to admit that obedience to the Law, through the power of the Spirit, in joyful obedience to Christ, is the right result of correctly appropriated Gospel teaching.

    So … it would make some sense, would it not, to think of political involvement (if it *is* indeed the Lord’s calling) as an element of sanctification. For example, one might think of compassion towards the poor as a proper outworking of and response to the Gospel. Eph. 2.10 and all that.

    Now maybe political involvement is off the table for some reason. And in that case, political involvement is *not* a part of the life of a believer. But I would like to see why that is, more clearly. To my mind, political involvement, like money, is a “good of the world” to be used with liberty, in the framework of Scripture, to the glory of God.

    Jeff Cagle

  439. dgh said,

    April 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Jeff, it is highly debatable whether Calvin is talking about the magistrate in 2.7. He talks about the magistrate in 4.20 ff. Unless you’re going to make some distinctions about jurisdiction — which Calvin makes — I don’t think you’re reading Calvin fairly.

  440. dgh said,

    April 11, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Jeff, my advisor at Johns Hopkins showed that the Social Gospel was simply doing what evangelicals had been doing since the Second Great Awakening — that is uniting word and deed. His book was Revivalism and Social Reform. So a social gospel was around well before higher criticism in the U.S.

    Also, keep in mind that Carl Henry tried to update a conservative social gospel in the Uneasy Consience of Modern Fundamentalism (1947).

    What drives a social gospel is the idea that faith will lead to both personal and social moral transformation if it is genuine faith.

    But this begs a deeper question which is what is the nature of salvation and whether it can be the same as social progress. Is indoor plumbing, penicillen, and electricity a sign of the kingdom. Or are the marks of the kingdom of Christ spiritual goods, rather than temporal goods. Calvin said that anyone who knows how to distinguish body and soul knows not to look for the signs of spiritual fruit in the temporal arena. It seems to me that is a knowledge that many Reformed (Kuyperians and theonomists) and evangelicals lack.

    In other words, can you correlate a person’s or society’s well being with the advance of the gospel? Protestants are suckers for progressivism and have usually assumed that the gospel improves life. You read Calvin on the way we are to regard this world from The Golden Booklet of the Christian Life, and you don’t get that kind of progressivism. You get depression.

  441. Zrim said,

    April 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Jeff,

    If you’re right then the Decalogue belongs in every public place, from the shopping center to the court room. But my point is that the Decalogue was given exclusively to the people of God. Everyone else got some variation on the Code of Hammurabi. That there appears to be quite a bit of overlap doesn’t mean that the pagans should take down the Code and replace it with the Decalogue. The law is inscribed on every human heart; that is sufficient. Indeed, the people of God should be jealous for the symbol given only to them and not seek to either “whore it out” or force it on pagans. If nothing else, it just isn’t the sort of behavior exiles and pilgrims are about.

    And if you’re right then I should question my cured cancer because my doctor was Hindi, seeking a confirmation by a Christian one. Seriously, who lives like that?

  442. Zrim said,

    April 11, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Jeff,

    If you’re right then the Decalogue belongs in every public place, from the shopping center to the court room. But my point is that the Decalogue was given exclusively to the people of God. Everyone else got some variation on the Code of Hammurabi. That there appears to be quite a bit of overlap doesn’t mean that the pagans should take down the Code and replace it with the Decalogue. The law is inscribed on every human heart; that is sufficient. Indeed, the people of God should be jealous for the symbol given only to them and not seek to either “whore it out” or force it on pagans. If nothing else, it just isn’t the sort of behavior exiles and pilgrims are about.

    And if you’re right then I should question my cured cancer because my doctor was Hindi, seeking a confirmation by a Christian one. Seriously, who lives like that?

  443. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    OK, I’m listening. Why is Calvin not speaking of the magistrate here? It seems to me that

    (1) He is speaking of physical punishment, which as we know falls in the jurisdiction of the magistrate and not the church, for Calvin per 4.20.

    (2) His discussion of the magistrate is not limited to 4.20. It also appears in 3.19 and in his prefatory address to Francis.

    (3) He is speaking of uses of the Law. Who will be using the Law in this way, if not the magistrate?

    (4) And in any event, he requires the magistrate to uphold both Tables of the Law in 4.20.9. So even if one could not prove that he is speaking of the magistrate in 2.7.10, one would still have to conclude that the magistrate is to use the Law in order to restrain the evil behavior of violaters of the 10 Commandments.

    (5) And wasn’t the original WCoF 23 written with Calvin in mind? So should that not provide confirming evidence that Calvin wanted the magistrate to use the Law just as described in 2.7.10?

    Help me see where I’ve erred.

    Jeff Cagle

  444. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 11, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    I’m interested in your advisor’s work — I’m assuming that’s Timothy Smith, yes?

    The problem as always is in proving causation. The Second Great Awakening, as you know, was a theological dog from the start. So did the progressivism cause that, or was it caused by it, or were progressives attracted to the 2GA because of its lousy theology?

    If the first is true, then I think 2K is probably the way to go. But if the other two, then not necessarily.

    Hence [Paul] draws the exhortation: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The great point, then, is, that we are consecrated and dedicated to God, and, therefore, should not henceforth think, speak, design, or act, without a view to his glory. What he hath made sacred cannot, without signal insult to him, be applied to profane use. But if we are not our own, but the Lord’s, it is plain both what error is to be shunned, and to what end the actions of our lives ought to be directed. We are not our own; therefore, neither is our own reason or will to rule our acts and counsels. We are not our own; therefore, let us not make it our end to seek what may be agreeable to our carnal nature. We are not our own; therefore, as far as possible, let us forget ourselves and the things that are ours. On the other hand, we are God’s; let us, therefore, live and die to him (Rom. 14:8). We are God’s; therefore, let his wisdom and will preside over all our actions. We are God’s; to him, then, as the only legitimate end, let every part of our life be directed. — Calv Inst. 3.7.1, commonly called “The Golden Booklet of the Christian Life”

    I don’t understand what you mean when you say that Calvin tells us not to look for the signs of spiritual fruit in the temporal arena. How would that even be possible? It seems to me that Calvin desires that every single action in any arena would be fruit-bearing.

    Jeff Cagle

  445. kazooless said,

    April 11, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Z,

    So, let me get this straight: you should be able to say that I am all wet and I should say you’re right?

    Now you’re getting it! ;) Seriously though, I think I provided some links on logical argumentation that speaks to your question about trafficking in labels. An ad hominem doesn’t prove anything. It’s fallacious, that’s all.

    Now, social gospel. My knowledge of the what the “social gospel” really is happens to be pretty limited. However, when I hear the term I tend to think of those liberal mainlines and their abandonment of confessional Christianity and Christology. Doctrine is not important to them, but “doing good in society” so to speak is that which is important. (I’m trying to keep this short, so be charitable.) It’s a very negative label in my mind, being one that is highly loyal to Christ and our reformed confession.

    If you put an adjective in-between “the” and “gospel,” it always makes me hesitate. I truly want to correctly understand and preach nothing but what Paul refers to here: “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

    You and I disagree as to whether the doctrine of theonomy is taught by the scriptures, but we preach and believe the same gospel. I know you probably want to call me out on that and say you disagree, but I really believe that is because you (and most people here) don’t properly represent nor understand the theonomic doctrine. If you did, you could still disagree with it and acknowledge that theonomists (proper) don’t teach another one (gospel).

    And here is a quote from you that proves my point that (respectfully), you still don’t know what you’re talking about wrt theonomy:

    zrim said:

    But theonomy isn’t about the second use of the law; if theonomists were concerned for the second use they’d also agree with your formulation above about natural law and move on; but it’s about take over in the here and now. It’s an impatient theology of glory that is unsatisfied with Jesus’ fulfillment of the law. While it may freely and ostensibly admit to it, the whole system actually works to undermine the finished work of Jesus. And it is all premised on an undue fixation with this world.

    Please, pull out Bahnsen’s “Theonomy in Christian Ethics” or Rushdooney’s “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” and show me how they match up with your description here. I don’t think you can. Further yet, I’ll state that I am NOT about “let’s take over in the here and now.” I am NOT unsatisfied with Christ’s fulfillment of the law. I’m actually pretty grateful for it (guilt, grace, gratefulness). As to undermining Christ’s finished work, check out in TiCE, chapter 3: “Pharisaism Reproved,” or chapter 4: “The Law’s Inability to Justify and Empower.” Maybe chapter 11 might put your mind at ease: “Theonomy and Grace, Faith, Love” or chapter 13: “The Functions of the Law.”

    As to an “undue fixation with this world,” please tell me what you’re talking about. We’re stuck here in this world for now, and while I’m here, I want to please my savior. If I’m reading my larger catechism correctly, I do that with the 3rd use of the law and I use the law while I’m here in this world. As to loving my neighbor, part of accomplishing that is participating in the formation of my nation’s laws according to my station in life. That would be the second use. As a theonomist, I believe that the scripture reveals most clearly what a right and just civil law looks like. And, since the natural law and the revealed law are one in the same as you state above, I’m not going to worry if my nation’s laws are patterned after scripture. You make the theonomy debate so overblown.

    Happy Easter,

    kazoo

  446. Zrim said,

    April 11, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Kazoo,

    Now, social gospel. My knowledge of the what the “social gospel” really is happens to be pretty limited. However, when I hear the term I tend to think of those liberal mainlines and their abandonment of confessional Christianity and Christology. Doctrine is not important to them, but “doing good in society” so to speak is that which is important. (I’m trying to keep this short, so be charitable.) It’s a very negative label in my mind, being one that is highly loyal to Christ and our reformed confession.

    If social gospel is “doing good in society” why is it also “a very negative label” in your mind? The rest of your comment is shot through with a plea that you are trying to serve your Savior, which I take to be doing good in society. The liberals would say the same thing, they’re just trying to serve their Savior. Theonomy seems to be all about making sure society is zipped up and squared away in all goodness. Why is your project good and that which is associated with “those liberal mainlines” so evil? I guess your answer has something to do with the importance of doctrine. Beyond being something of a rote play button which, when hit, is supposed to theologically justify whatever happens to be your particular temporal concern, the trouble is that there is nothing obvious about how confessional doctrine translates into the cultural agenda of either the liberals or the theonomists. I see how it goes to the necessity of salvation, but what does Jesus being fully God and fully man have to do with either stomping out illiteracy or criminalizing abortion? I know, each will find his way to connect the dots back to his cultural concern and perhaps try to make the other guy appear out in left field. But a better confessionalism can see right through the worldliness of both projects.

    As to an “undue fixation with this world,” please tell me what you’re talking about.

    A theology of glory is all about meeting the felt needs of sinners on their terms instead of God’s. Some felt needs are fleeting, some are more enduring but both are passing. Some want the Bible to tell them how to lose weight, some want it to tell them how to order society (and some want something in between). Theonomy is the system for those more interested in enduring, but no less passing, concerns like statecraft and law and politics. It’s a form of prosperity gospel for those a bit more studied; and prosperity gospel isn’t just about cash and stuff or even personal health, wealth and happiness—it can also be a quest for social-cultural-political success. Theonomy is as much an undue fixation on the spoils of earth as any sweaty TV preacher.

  447. kazooless said,

    April 11, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Z,

    As I get older, I find that the roller coasters at Magic Mountain that I love so much unfortunately tend to give me motion sickness now. So too with the merry-go-round. I got on for you, but just for a little bit.

    Yes, it’s a very negative label in my mind just because they’ve rejected the savior and His gospel, true doctrine.

    I said “please” my Savior, not “serve.” Yes I want to serve Him to, but they both mean something a little different. I find it a bit illuminating that you replaced the word “please” with “serve” in trying to bolster your disagreement with what theonomy allegedly teaches. You say:

    Theonomy seems to be all about making sure society is zipped up and squared away in all goodness.

    You give too much weight to how theonomy comes into play in a theonomist’s life. You might have a little more teeth in using the argument describing the overall “Reconstructionist Movement,” but I still think it is a reach. Trying to overemphasize what you think is wrong in your opponents position to make it look that much worse. (At least you’re really good at something: i.e. using informal fallacies).

    Anyway, pure and simple:

    Theonomy is about the right use of God’s law.

    That is it. Nothing more, and nothing less. Given that framework, I see no reason why you and so many other people have to get so worked up and paint such a strong overemphasized light of it. You are Reformed and confessional. There was SO much written on this topic (the right and proper use of God’s law). Would you say that they were about a theology of glory too? They certainly spent a lot of effort on the subject of how to order society, that’s for sure. Was it wrong for them to do so? Theonomy is not about the spoils of earth and so on. Theonomy is not about using scripture to justify whatever whim I might want justified. Theonomy is not about having a little easy playbook to look up the answers to all things ethical. I know I keep telling you that, but for some reason you don’t want to believe me. Tell me, what primary sources are you familiar with that support your accusations? Or do you just hold on to the rhetoric that you’ve been told so that you can hold onto something to argue about?

    One last thing. I do find it amazing that you put criminalizing abortion in the same category as stomping out literacy. Forget special revelation and the church for a moment. Can you honestly tell me that as a citizen of mankind that there isn’t much difference in the importance of these two issues? On that note, do you think that once a person becomes a Christian that they shouldn’t be concerned with the civil arena? If they are, should they completely ignore the teachings of scripture and only let their conscience be their guide? Isn’t it possible that God’s word has some light to shed on the ordinary affairs of men?

    Peace,

    kazoo

  448. kazooless said,

    April 11, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Jeff,

    That quote from Calvin is pretty awesome. It seems to fly in the face of today’s “Radical Westminster 2 Kingdom” theologians (how’s that for an ad hominem, eh?). Seriously though, the more I read Calvin (we’re going through the one year reading at church this year), the more I recognize where Bahnsen got his stuff, and the less I see of our modern day seminarians. I love this guy!

    Happy Easter,

    kazoo

  449. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 12, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Guys, happy Easter.

    Though we may not see eye-to-eye on kingdoms and Calvin, we are united in a belief that Christ is risen, and that he gave himself to rescue us from this present evil age.

    In Christ,
    Jeff

  450. dgh said,

    April 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Kazooles and Jeff, yes that Calvin was one wild and crazy guy. And yet he also wrote things like the following, which suggest the 2kers are not radical nor fell too far from the trunk of the Calvinist tree:

    “Therefore, to perceive more clearly how far the mind can proceed in any matter according to the degree of its ability, we must here set forth a distinction: that there is one kind of understanding of earthly things; another of heavenly. I call “earthly things” those which do not pertain to God or his Kingdom, to true justice, or to the blessedness of the future life; but which have their significance and relationship with regard to the present life and are, in a sense, confined within its bounds. I call “heavenly things” the pure knowledge of God, the nature of true righteousness, and the mysteries of the Heavenly Kingdom. The first class includes government, household management, all mechanical skills, and the liberal arts. In the second are the knowledge of God and of his will, and the rule by which we conform our lives to it.

    “Of the first class the following ought to be said: since man is by nature a social animal, he tends through natural instinct to foster and preserve society. Consequently, we observe that there exist in all men’s minds universal impressions of a certain civic fair dealing and order. Hence no man is to be found who does not understand that every sort of human organization must be regulated by laws, and who does not comprehend the principles of those laws. Hence arises the unvarying consent of all nations and of individual morals with regard to laws. For their seeds have, without teacher or lawgiver, been implanted in all men.” II.2.13

    “But whoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between this present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom and the civil jurisdiction are things completely distinct. Since, then, it is a Jewish vanity to seek and enclose Christ’s Kingdom within the elements of this world, let us rather ponder that what Scripture clearly teaches is a spiritual fruit, which we gather from Christ’s grace; and let us remember to keep within its own limits all that freedom which is promised and offered to us in him. For why is it that the same apostle who bids us stand and no submit to the ‘yoke of bondage’ (Gal. 5:1) elsewhere forbids slaves to be anxious about their state (1 Cor. 7:21), unless it be that spiritual freedom can perfectly well exist along with civil bondage? . . . . By these statements he means that it makes no difference what your condition among men may be or under what nation’s laws you live, since the Kingdom of Christ does not at all consist of these things.” IV.20.1

    I’d suggest that we have two ways of reading Calvin. You can either read him as if he denies the 2k view, in which case you have no way of interpreting these passages except to say that Calvin is schizophrenic. Or you can read him as if the 2k view is how he operates. In which case he can write the things that Jeff has quoted about the heavenly, spiritual side of our existence, while he writes the other things that I’ve quoted about how to negotiate the earthly and perhishable things.

    I’m no Calvin expert, but I think reading him as sane is better than reading him as nuts.

  451. Todd said,

    April 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Kazooless,

    “Yes, it’s a very negative label in my mind just because they’ve rejected the savior and His gospel, true doctrine.”

    It really isn’t true that the proponents of the social gospel reject the Savior and true doctrine. Of course some have, but in the 20’s many proponents of the social gospel held to the fundamentals of the faith on paper. Even today, among the black churches that lead voting drives to vote Democratic in every election, most of them also hold to the fundamentals of the faith.

    As a matter of fact: here is the official doctrinal statement of a well-known church that we all know is all prosperity and social gospel.

    WE BELIEVE…the entire Bible is inspired by God, without error and the authority on which we base our faith, conduct and doctrine.

    WE BELIEVE…in one God who exists in three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to this earth as Savior of the world.

    WE BELIEVE…Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood for our sins. We believe that salvation is found by placing our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. We believe Jesus rose from the dead and is coming again.

    WE BELIEVE…water baptism is a symbol of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ and a testimony to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    WE BELIEVE…in the regular taking of Communion as an act of remembering what the Lord Jesus did for us on the cross.

    WE BELIEVE…every believer should be in a growing relationship with Jesus by obeying God’s Word, yielding to the Holy Spirit and by being conformed to the image of Christ.

    WE BELIEVE…as children of God, we are overcomers and more than conquerors and God intends for each of us to experience the abundant life He has in store for us.

    Now the last one was the only give-a-way that this is Joel Olsteen’s church in Houston.

    The difference between social gospel and theonomy/reconstructionism is not that T/R holds to the fundamentals of doctrine but the other doesn’t. Both sides tend to hold that in common, though reformed theonomists would be a bit better in a few areas (Calvinism for ex…)

    Point being – social gospel is social gospel whether the left or right are using it. I remember years ago when Coral Ridge hosted one of their Take Back America conferences, with many politicians from the right speaking. One of the hosts told the congregation to pray for these people working against socialism, legalized abortion, prayer not allowed in schools, etc… because they are our missionaries spreading Christ’s kingdom. Straight out of the liberals’ playbook, yet no one seemed to bat an eye (at least not on the television screen).

    So when the left invites Jesse Jackson to church to promote liberal politics, it is that dreaded social gospel. But when the right invites Tom Delay to church to promote conservative politics, all of a sudden it’s Taking Back America for Christ, or pressing the crown rights of Jesus to every spehere, or taking a stand, or whatever cliche you want to use.

    But if it walks like a duck…

    Todd

  452. Zrim said,

    April 12, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Kazoo,

    One last thing. I do find it amazing that you put criminalizing abortion in the same category as stomping out literacy. Forget special revelation and the church for a moment. Can you honestly tell me that as a citizen of mankind that there isn’t much difference in the importance of these two issues? On that note, do you think that once a person becomes a Christian that they shouldn’t be concerned with the civil arena? If they are, should they completely ignore the teachings of scripture and only let their conscience be their guide? Isn’t it possible that God’s word has some light to shed on the ordinary affairs of men?

    You only find it amazing because you have a particular cultural-political agenda that favors one much more than the other. And you imply that my view is that being a believer means one doesn’t care about the civil arena because you perceive that I don’t share your particular agenda, therefore I must not care at all. You cannot fathom how any reasonable person, much more a Christian, cannot see things the way you do. My liberals are pretty blunt about how real Christians hate the former presidential administration and those that show the slightest sympathy don’t care much for Christian doctrine. It really is uncanny how similar theonomists and liberals have in common. (But I might think illiteracy would be really bad to a theonomist—without being able to read who could discern what the Bible says about how to structure society?)

    And what’s wrong with letting one’s conscience be one’s guide? God made the conscience, didn’t he? Is what God made not good enough? He also gave me two eyes and a pair of legs. But I suppose using them to walk across the room isn’t good enough either? The problem with theonomy is that it has a doctrine of utter depravity instead of total depravity. And it thinks the solution to utter depravity is the Bible. But Calvinism teaches that our problem is total depravity, solved only by the person and work of Jesus. The human conscience, like every human faculty, is totally depraved, but not utterly unusable. It’s like my batty eyes and dim mind and flat feet—they are all pretty badly flawed and let me down on a regular basis, but they are good enough to get me through my day when I have to see or think or walk. And before you think a pair of glasses solves my vision problem, and compare Scripture to them, remember that even glasses are designed for proximate correction, not exact perfection.

  453. kazooless said,

    April 12, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Z,

    I hope you had an enjoyable Easter celebration today with your family.

    You only find it amazing because you have a particular cultural-political agenda that favors one much more than the other. And you imply that my view is that being a believer means one doesn’t care about the civil arena because you perceive that I don’t share your particular agenda, therefore I must not care at all

    No, that’s not why I find it amazing. I guess you’re admitting that to you the two issues are somewhat identical in importance, huh? I also wasn’t implying anything about your view. I was asking you questions, and they weren’t meant to be rhetorical.

    I have a view that favors one above the other, yes. But that is only a consequence of weighing how I value life and comparing that to how I value literacy. I happen to think that the murder of the defenseless is a very heinous crime that isn’t very debatable. I think it is wrong for any town, city, county, state or nation to allow such an atrocity. Literacy on the other hand is a completely different and less important matter than life, death and murder. That you or anyone can frame the debate differently is what is amazing to me. Apart from one’s depravity, it seems to me that any man’s conscience would value a baby’s life much more than a person’s ability to read.

    Todd,

    I think we both have the same problem when reading Calvin and that you (nor I) can really just choose to claim him as our own. We both have problem areas, such as what Jeff quoted for us above being a problem for you and what you quoted for us just now, as being a problem for us. I think the modern W2K proponents are just as guilty of anachronism as the theonomists that want to put the label of “theonomy” on the reformers.

    Hope your Easter was blessed.

    Kazoo

  454. Todd said,

    April 13, 2009 at 6:58 am

    Kazoo,

    It was actually DGH who quoted Calvin, I think you meant to address him, but I’ll take the Easter greeting anyway.

    Todd

  455. April 13, 2009 at 6:59 am

    I honestly believe that what is being promoted at Green Baggins is outside the Three Forms of Unity and ought to be treated as such. This is significant because Lane Keister, who is arguing against theonomy, serves a couple CRC churches and is teaching contrary to the confessions on this issue.

    I could cite several examples of how Lane is teaching contrary to the TFU but for now jsut consider the Heidelberg Catechism Q. 100,

    Question 100. Is then the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavor, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?

    Answer. It undoubtedly is, [f] for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and THEREFORE HE HAS COMMANDED THIS [g] SIN TO BE PUNISHED WITH DEATH.

    [a]: Lev. 24:11; Lev. 19:12; Mat. 5:37; Lev. 5:4
    [b]: Isa. 45:23,24
    [c]: Mat. 10:32
    [d]: 1Tim. 2:8
    [e]: 1Cor. 3:16,17
    [f]: Lev. 5:1
    [g]: Lev. 24:15

    Note that the Catechism doesn’t say, “Therefore God used to command this sin to be punished with death.” The Catechism clearly teaches that God’s OT case Law applies to blasphemers. There is no appeal to Natural Law here.

    Now people may think the catechism needs to be changed and they are welcome to try and change it but at this point in time anybody who teaches that God’s word doesn’t teach that public blasphemy deserves capital punishment by the magistrate is teaching outside the boundaries of the Catechism. Anybody who teaches that God’s case law isn’t to be used by the Magistrate to determine punishment is teaching quite contrary to the confession (TFU) they swore to uphold.

    From this one question alone it is perfectly obvious that the Reformers never envisioned R2Kt, Public Square Natural Law(ism), or so called principle pluralism.

    The problem that Lane Keister, Darryl Hart, R. Scott Clark, Steve Zmirec, M. Scott Horton, Reed DePace, John Meuther, Todd Bordow and a cast of thousands have is that they are trying, via the means of thin air interpretation, to create a whole new confession on this issue.

    They might possibly win the day but even if they do, it won’t prove them right.

  456. April 13, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Lane Keister wrote,

    “Now, I have to lay down a qualification first. The qualification is that I do agree with theonomists on many points. For instance, I do not believe that the general structure of human law should be autonomous. I believe that God has given the moral law in nature, not only in Scripture. This is proven in Scripture in Romans 2:12-16. Now, it is important to exegete this passage properly. The phrase “without the law” does not mean “destitute of law” but rather it means that the Gentiles did not have the law delivered to them on Sinai. Verse 14 clarifies what Paul means: Gentiles have a law unto themselves. This does NOT mean autonomy, but rather the moral law written on their hearts, as verse 15 explicitly says. The Westminster Confession of Faith gets at this when it says that the moral law was given to Adam as a covenant of works. If it was given to Adam, then it was given to all humanity. This is the concept of natural law. It is plain, then, that if a Gentile nation, having not the law as delivered on Sinai, yet rules itself according to many of the same principles as the Ten Commandments, then we can be sure that they are governing themselves according to the moral law as imprinted on the human heart, or natural law.”

    Rev. Keister, right out of the gate appeals to Natural law as the foundation upon which he will build his attempted dismantling of Theonomy. As such we must deal briefly with the whole concept of Natural law from a Biblical and Confessional perspective. Once we see the way Rev. Keister’s appeals to Natural Law is invalid the rest of his argument melts like the Witch of Oz being pelted with water.

    We must note that the phrase “Natural Law” is a elusive term that requires more than Natural Law in order to understand what it means. This is due to the reality that there have been different schools of thought that have sought to use “Natural Law theory,” and with each school of thought there are substantial differences in what “Natural Law” means. Certainly we can see, that the way that “Natural Law” was used by the Stoics was of a different stripe then the “Natural Law” of Medieval Christendom. Beyond that there have been “Natural Law” schools belonging to the materialistic and naturalistic tradition which sought to explain “Natural Law” in conjunction with putative scientific explanations and then attempted to develop concepts of oughtness by appealing to the physical laws of nature. Schools of thought such as Marxism, Skinnerian Behaviorism and Bentham Utilitarianism appealed to this materialistic Natural Law theory. A second school of Natural Law theory veered away from the naturalistic tradition and embraced the idealistic school of thought. This “Natural Law” school shunned scientifically informed norms and opted to seek normative explanations and oughtness by appealing to telological meaning and ordering within nature. Whereas Natural law in the materialistic sense conceived of Natural Law in the physical and descriptive sense, Natural Law in the idealistic school conceived of Natural Law in the metaphysical and prescriptive sense.

    Which one of the variegated senses of Natural Law does Natural Law teach? Which one is Rev. Keister appealing to? Immediately we see that even the reading of Natural Law is so confusing that it may take more than Natural Law to unwind the knot.

    Scripture clearly teaches (Psalm 19:1-6, Acts 17:23-31, Rom. 1:19-31) natural revelation which shines God’s Holy character and moral law through creation, providence, and man’s conscience. We would agree with Rev. Keister that Natural Law is part and parcel with this Natural revelation. God is faithful to Himself by filling the theater of this World with testimony of Himself. Because God is faithful to Himself in faithfully sending out testimony of Himself man is answerable to God and in being answerable to God man will be judged by this Natural Revelation (Romans 1:19-31). Where theonomy resists Rev. Keister is in the good pastor’s assumption that fallen man can reason rightly about this Natural law. Theonomy, following Reformed theology, asks Rev. Keister to explain how those who are characterized as being a tribe who “suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” can rightly interpret this Natural Law to the point of being able to rightly govern themselves by it, either individually or collectively.

    Man is a derivative being who can only know God’s light (way) dependently. Rev. Keister in his appeal to Natural law has man knowing God’s light independently of and autonomously from God and His Word. Even in the Garden, before man fell, Natural law absent from God’s external Word was not enough for man to be instructed in God’s will (Gen. 1:28-29, 2:16-17). If before the fall man was dependent upon God’s explicitly revealed Word for guidance how much more so after the fall is man dependent upon God’s explicitly revealed Word for guidance? And yet, men like Rev. Keister want to insist that Natural Law is enough for fallen man to guide their lives.

    The problem with Natural Law and fallen man is seen likewise in Genesis. The Fall can be reasonably characterized as man’s first attempt to reason as a independent and autonomous creature. When the fall happened, man had God’s law written on their hearts, as Rev. Keister insists remains true today, and yet even in innocence with the law written on their heart, man presupposed the absence of a personal
    God, and with the aid of Natural Law, as twisted by our first parents desire to be as God, man fell.

    The inability of Natural Law to function the way Rev. Keister desires is doubled by the fact that creation is now under the curse (Gen. 3:17-19, Rom. 8:19-22). As such Natural law is not as Natural as it was in the garden as it is afflicted by the consequences of the curse as seen in the presence of death and violence all about us. And while it is true that God’s Law remains written on the heart of the fallen creature (Rom. 2:14-15) it is also true that that man’s conscience is defiled and so cannot serve as a receiver that is attuned with God’s message (Prov. 16:25, I Tim. 4:2, Titus 1:5, Heb. 9:14, 10:22).

    The doctrine of total depravity teaches us that Natural Law is a hopeless guide to matter axiological.

    “The doctrine of total depravity of man makes it plain that the moral consciousness of man as he is today cannot be the source of information about what is ideal good or about what is the standard of the good… It is this point particularly that makes it necessary for the Christian to maintain without any apology and without any concession that it is Scripture, and Scripture alone, in the light of which all moral questions must be answered. Scripture as external revelation became necessary because of the sin of man. No man living can even put the moral problem as he ought to put it, or ask the moral questions as he ought to ask them, unless he does so in the light of Scripture. Man cannot of himself truly face the moral question, let alone answer it. – C. Van Til, The Defense of The Faith

    So we have seen that Natural law cannot serve as a standard for ethics because

    1.) Natural Law is a concept that is mired down in the muck of competing definitions as to what it is.

    2.) Even if Natural Law was not contested as to its meaning, the reality of total depravity would guarantee that Natural Law could not be rescued to provide a uniform standard for right and wrong.

    3.) Not even in the garden in man’s innocence did Natural Law operate successfully apart from God’s external Word.

    Because all this is true regarding Natural Law we must continue to insist that if Natural Law is to be successful it must be seen as dependent for its meaning upon Biblical law. When the written objective Biblical law is prioritized then Natural Law can serve as a kind of Moon to the Biblical Law Sun reflecting the light of the sun.

    Now as we turn from the Biblical arguments against Rev. Keister’s position we must consider the Confessional arguments. Rev. Keister serves CRC Churches and those Churches are bound by the Three Forms Of Unity.

    In the Canons of Dort, Third/Fourth Head, Article 4 we find, in perfect keeping with what has been laid out from scripture above, that even with the natural light that remains in unregenerate man “…he is incapable of using aright even in things natural and civil.” Further, the Belgic Confession, Article XIV confesses “…And being thus become wicked and corrupt in all his ways, he has lost all his excellent gifts, which had received from God, and retained only small remains thereof, which, however, are sufficient to leave man without excuse; for all light which is in us is changed into darkness, as the Scripture teach us… [f]or there is no understanding nor will conformable to the divine understanding and will but what Christ has wrought in a man.”

    Clearly these statements do not allow a Natural Law interpretation. Rev. Keister’s opening position just does not fit with the confession of the Churches that he serves. So, both on the basis of Biblical examination and of confessional examination Rev. Keister’s opening statement in his piece that seeks to dismantle theonomy leaves his position dismantled.

    And when Lane’s appeal to Natural Law goes down the rest of His argument becomes completely moot.

  457. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Bret, what does the Mosaic Law have to say about female priests?

    Of course another option for Christians, other than screaming down divine judgment on law breakers, is weeping and praying for repentance. Sometimes I miss the note of grace and forgiveness in your rendition of Christian Islam.

  458. April 13, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Darryl,

    You’ll just have to run a survey on the people I serve to see if I have enough compassion as seen in my “weeping and praying” quotient to qualify me to have an opinion.

    Methinks you’ll be surprised by the results of your survey.

    But maybe not … we all can’t be as sensitive and emotive as you.

  459. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Wow, Bret, so you are functionally R2k. You are all about grace in your CRC congregation, all about wrath on the Internet. See, I knew you had it in you.

  460. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2009 at 9:49 am

    “your rendition of Christian Islam”

    This is the sort of inflammatory comment that annoys those interested in serious discussion of the topic.

  461. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I don’t favor either one, so I’m not really sure whom you are responding to.

    The problem with Olsteen’s approach is that the last doctrinal point you mentioned is simply wrong — and it tends to dominate the distinctives of his ministry. It’s the same problem that we have with Calvinist dispensationalists. They’re so close to us — but the whole pre-Trib thing takes over and drives an impossible wedge in almost every area.

    But does Olsteen’s wrongness therefore mean that another church’s involvement in housing projects is *also* wrong?

    What bothers me about your analysis, and indeed about much 2K analysis I’ve seen, is that we begin by identifying a bogeyman, such as “the Social Gospel.”

    Then we take anything that remotely resembles the bogeyman and cast it into the outer darkness because of its genetic resemblance to “The Social Gospel.” Want to take your middle-school youth group to mow a neighbor’s lawn as a service project? Can’t do that; it’s “THE SOCIAL GOSPEL.” (duhn-duhn-duhnnn…)

    That’s faulty procedure. It doesn’t allow for the difference between Christians who are simply trying to obey the commands of Christ in this life, and Christians who are trying to bring about a realized kingdom of God on earth. If anything at all can be labeled as “Social Gospel”, then the term no longer has any meaning.

    Jeff Cagle

  462. Zrim said,

    April 13, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Jeff,

    If you think what is being said about social gospel (of one type or another) and mowing lawns are the same thing, you’re really missing it. There is a big difference between fixing the world (or at least transforming it) and showing a proper charity. Otherwise, I don’t know how to explain hauling bags of clothes to our Family Assistance program, sitting on the benevolence committee writing checks for neighbors whose heat was turned off or shlepping cots for the IHN program after the AM service.

    But I draw the line at signing petitions to shut down the local strip joints because I think it will lead to getting rid of sexual depravity on Divison avenue. I’d rather use my fingers to haul those cots, write those checks and carry those bags than wag them at people. Extra-ordinary social gospel is disgusted with ordinary charity, and the feeling is quite mutual.

  463. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 10:33 am

    DGH:

    I’d suggest that we have two ways of reading Calvin. You can either read him as if he denies the 2k view, in which case you have no way of interpreting these passages except to say that Calvin is schizophrenic. Or you can read him as if the 2k view is how he operates. In which case he can write the things that Jeff has quoted about the heavenly, spiritual side of our existence, while he writes the other things that I’ve quoted about how to negotiate the earthly and perhishable things.

    I’m no Calvin expert, but I think reading him as sane is better than reading him as nuts.

    Now we get to the nub of it. First, I’m delighted that we’re all talking about reading Calvin as a coherent whole.

    Second, as well you know, I will cheerfully concede that Calvin (1) teaches a 2K thought, (2) that the basis for his 2K thought is the spiritual nature of the Church and the temporal nature of the civil government.

    The problem is that Calvin’s 2K thought is structured very differently from yours. And the clearest proof of this is that he requires the magistrate (1) to use the Scripture as the basis for his rule, and (2) to uphold both tables of the Law. Both of these are *opposite* from what you require from the civil magistrate.

    Assuming that Calvin was “not nuts”, it stands to reason that his 2K system is not simply incidentally, but systematically different from yours.

    Why? Well, the first quote you give above, from 2.2.13, is a descriptive quote. For Calvin, the Natural Law is indeed present in men’s hearts (and is identical to the general equity of the decalogue). But that presence is not enough for just governance. Prescriptively, he believes that the just king rules according to the word. I won’t multiply the quotes again, but the Prefatory Address to Francis and 4.20.9 demonstrate this very, very clearly. The Natural Law is present, but insufficient.

    By contrast, for you, the descriptive becomes the prescriptive: because men *do* have the Natural Law, they *should* rule according to it — alone. The Natural Law is sufficient.

    The second quote you supply, from 4.20.1, shows that Calvin has a 2K structure in mind. Absolutely. It’s just not the same as yours. For him, the Church rules the conscience and the State rules the outward behavior, but those are two different aspects of the Law of God. The State is to rule the outward behavior so that men are frightened to break the decalogue.

    For you, this is really a kind of idolatry, forcing men to pretend to worship God outwardly while not worshiping Him according to Spirit and Truth.

    The other “clearest proof” of Calvin’s differences with you is his rule of Geneva. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. There is no question at all that Geneva’s governance, which was ordered according to 4.20, was entirely contrary to the 2K schema you propose. Far from a “bracketed faith”, he wants a fully realized faith.

    Again, assuming Calvin was “not nuts”, we conclude that the quotes you’ve supplied are not sufficient evidence that your 2K was Calvin’s 2K.

    Let me take the Calvin hat off for a second and say that I don’t fully agree with Calvin here. My point rather is that we should be clear-eyed about the differences between you and Calvin, especially because you carry the label “PaleoReformed.”

    Jeff Cagle

  464. Todd said,

    April 13, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Jeff,

    I think you are missing the point of my response, which was not to you, but to Kazoo (nice poem). Kazoo argued that theonomists cannot be accused of social gospel because the advocates of social gospel had given up doctrine and correct soteriology. I was arguing that that really is not true, either back in the 20’s or today. My point is that there are social gospel advocates both on the left and right, and they both, at least on paper, can hold to the fundamentals of the faith. I wasn’t considering the difference between social gospel and good works, which is an interesting topic though.

    Todd

  465. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    Well Zrim and Todd, if we can agree that there is a distinction here between garden variety obedience and whole-sale Social Gospelism — and I’m relieved that we can — then I think we’ve discovered the way in which social action is parallel to money.

    Here are the parallels:

    (1) Both social action and money are different ways of “getting things done in the world” — they are functionally similar.

    (2) Both, if taken for their own sakes’, are sources of idolatry. Paul is explicit about this with money, and the 2K/SOTC crowd (Todd, Zrim, DGH) are explicit about this with social action.

    (3) Both can be confused with spirituality. In Jesus’ day, money was viewed by the Pharisees as a fruit of righteousness. In our day, social action is viewed as a fruit of righteousness.

    (4) Both can transform our lives into greater comfort. Or, both can be used to seek first God’s kingdom.

    If we’re willing to view social action (or political power) as a kind of temporal currency, a “good of the world” that is not to be denied, but to be used with thankfulness and reverence per Calvin, then I think we get closer to a third way. The salient feature of the third way would be to distinguish between social action that comes out of genuine gospel teaching and obedience, and social action that replaces genuine gospel teaching.

    So in the case of Olsteen, we can spot the problem immediately: he turns Jesus’ teachings about poverty on their heads and distorts or ignores the warnings about love of money.

    All of this is very intuitive; I’ll try to clean it up with further reflection.

    Jeff Cagle

  466. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Lane is manifestly able to defend himself, but I thought I’d start the ball rolling a bit.

    (1) Lane’s position on Natural Law is not the same as Zrim’s position on Natural Law. In fact, Lane is much closer to Calvin on this point. For Calvin, there was indeed Natural Law, which reflected the equity of the Decalogue (both tables). I’m not entirely positive, but I think Lane sees the same kind of Natural Law at work in civil government.

    For Zrim, the Natural Law might reflect the equity of the Decalogue, but whatever it is, it’s good enough for governance. The Scripture is for the Church only.

    (2) The core problem that Lane IDs with theonomy is wrapped up in WCoF 19.4: “To [Israel] also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require. ”

    This is likewise in accord with Calvin.

    Bahnsenian theonomy specifically denies this, replacing it instead with the principle that any judicial laws not specifically repudiated continue in full force.

    My point is simply that Lane and Reed have not articulated views that are the same as those of Dr. Hart and Steve Z, and it’s probably not helpful to conflate those positions.

    Jeff Cagle

  467. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    So here’s the core problem I have with theonomy: How does God reveal His judicial will in this time and place?

    Seems easy, right? God reveals His will in the Scripture.

    But not so fast. Let’s consider the ins and outs of the question first.

    In OT Israel, the 10 Commandments were the basis for judicial law. Yet they themselves did not stand alone, sui interpretis. Instead, they were explicated by the case law (Ex. 21ff) that distinguished types of permissible killings from impermissible, “Murder 1″ from “Murder 2.” Work on the Sabbath was defined.

    And yet even these did not handle every case, but Moses adjudicated according to the Law. Sometimes, he required the Ummim and Thummim. When Jethro finally talked some delegating sense into his head, he relied on subordinates.

    And yet even this did not handle every case, but a Talmud sprang up around the Law, and schools of interpretation delineating what was and was not work on the Sabbath, which divorces were or were not violations of the 7th Commandment, and so on.

    For the theonomist, who will fill these functions? Who will provide the proper interpretation of the Law so that it will be properly administered?

    Presumably, the body with interpretive authority is the Church? How very Roman Catholic sounding.

    Or the individual magistrate, interpreting Scripture according to the historical-grammatical method (and perhaps guided by the collective wisdom of the Church)? If so, then we now have Two Kingdoms. One is the Church, one is the Civil Government. Both interpret the Law, but neither one dictates to the other.

    And thus we are back full circle. Unless we can have a modern-day Ummim and Thummim, direct theonomy in the literal Greek meaning of the term is impossible: God rules the people. Instead, we would have the rule of some people by other people, using the Scripture as a guide.

    Will that prevent “autonomy”? Doubtful. Churches are ruled by the Word, and yet, can anyone name a Pure Church untroubled by doctrinal dissent?

    I’m not counseling despair here. I think the individual magistrate ought to have his conscience beholden to the Word as the only source of knowledge of good and evil. But that’s the individual magistrate, not a top-down prescription called “theonomy” that eliminates “autonomy” by means of some men interpreting Scripture for the benefit of others.

    The flaw in theonomy is that there is no direct access to the judicial throneroom of God.

    Jeff Cagle

  468. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    As if the execution of disobedient children isn’t a tad inflammatory?

  469. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Jeff, again, like with real estate, social action is jurisdiction, jurisdiction, jurisdiction. The work of the insitutional church id defined by the Bible, not by good intentions. That is at the heart of sola scriptura and the regulative principle.

    I see no blue print in the Bible for social action that would allow me as an edler to employ the ministry and resources of my congregation in “social action.” I do see ways we are to care for the needs of widow and orphans who are members of the church. In cases extraordinary, the congregation might reach out to those suffering the effects of a flood or a hurricane. And Christians themselves are called to be good samaritans throughout their walks, but elders have really very little means to moniter such samaritan like behavior.

    But if you want a blue print for a righteous society, you either go to the OT, the theonomic temptation, or to Revelation, the anabaptist temptation. As for me and my household, we will live on planet earth in between the times.

  470. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    So Dr. Hart, you *would* object to a middle-school SS class doing a service project?

  471. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Jeff, I’m opposed to the Nazi’s in all forms, SS, Gestapo, you name it — ba dop bop.

    Theoretically, I’d be uncomfortable with Christians, on the basis of their faith, forming some kind of social/political organization. Now, if a SS teacher in my congregation wanted to a service project in a low key way, I’d likely weigh lots of factors before trying to pull the plug.

    But in a community that includes Christians and non-Christians under a polity that grants membership to both, I’m not sure why Christians need to organize themselves as a Christian group to serve a common end.

    Now, if you wanted that to be primary an evangelistic enterprise, I’m open to reconsidering, though I’m not open to ordaining 7th graders as evangelists.

  472. Ron said,

    April 13, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    “Of course another option for Christians, other than screaming down divine judgment on law breakers, is weeping and praying for repentance. Sometimes I miss the note of grace and forgiveness in your rendition of Christian Islam.”

    Daryl,

    That is shameful. What might be more shameful is the pass you continue to get from the moderators. Nasty and sarcastic is no way to go through life.

    Ron

  473. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 13, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    Took me a second on the Nazi thing. Ba-dump-bump indeed. :)

    It’s interesting that you distinguish between individual acts of mercy and organizations dedicated toward that end. I think that distinction might fit well with the direction I’m trying to go: thinking about social action, not as unmitigated evil, but as a “good of the world” to be used with wisdom.

    So let’s take this a bit further: What if a church has a yearly service project fixing up houses and running Vacation Bible School: a mix of mercy and evangelism.

    Opinion? We have a direct ministry of the church (not a separate organization). We have a combination of mercy ministry and evangelism.

    Jeff Cagle

  474. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Ron:

    You’re free to make complaints to the moderators (you may reach me at reed dot here at gmail dot com.) You are not free to complain about the moderators without first doing so.

    As to the shameful pass, I think Darryl’s response to Turretin fan sets the contextual balance in view.

    Lane’s rules are to allow lee-way in debate. As long as you are not calling your opponent names, and are willing to back up your characterizations of his position with content (actual debate), Lane will give you some room to make such comments.

    Darryl and his opponents have been pretty fair in doing so. You might not like his use of witty sarcasm. I easily say the same for some posting from the theonomy side. Yet their comments stand, un-moderated.

    Assigning shameful actions to the moderators without first talking with them privately is no way to go through life.

  475. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 13, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    You mention “the strict confessional Presbyterian” Dr.Francis Nigel Lee and his “Christocracy” article. Apparently you are not aware that Dr. Lee believes Bahnsenian Theonomy to be unconfessional. To my question:

    “Would you agree with Bahnsen that all the civil laws of the OT are
    operative today unless modified by the lawgiver,
    or would you agree with the WCF that only the general
    equity of the civil laws continues in the New
    Covenant?”

    Dr. Lee replied

    “Clearly the latter. Our model is not so much
    OT Israel, as the Decalogue written on *Adam’s* heart and reiterated
    at Mt. Sinai (WCF 19:1-2). I think with Calvin the “general equity”
    of the civil laws of Israel (cf. WCF 19:4) is the Decalogue itself (cf.
    19:1-2 & 19:5 & 19:7). So we need to study the civil laws of Israel,
    extract the general equity therefrom, and then apply the latter in our different situation.”

  476. Ron said,

    April 13, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    “As to the shameful pass, I think Darryl’s response to Turretin fan sets the contextual balance in view.”

    Does it, Reed? It would seem to me that the one you’re defending finds the penalty “inflammatory” – period – without any reference to dispensation. In other words, there is nothing in the context that would make me believe that he thinks that the penalty was ever appropriate, even under Moses. After all, it’s not as if the civil law is seen by the bashers as a loving and wise law that became “inflammatory” since the cross. After all, in the realm of equity and sanction, how does wisdom become stupidity over night? The penalty of the law is just ridiculed as *intrinsically* absurd. In a word, what I read in this thread is severe animosity toward the equity of the law without critical elaboration or remainder.

    Ron

  477. April 13, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Ron,

    I love you man … but you have to wade into this place with eyes wide open as to the double standard that exists here.

    Reed’s protestations to the contrary are delivered just to keep the choir convinced that they are the righteous ones.

  478. TurretinFan said,

    April 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    There’s a world of difference between offense (such as you take at the execution of wicked children) and needless offense (such as you give with your “Christian Islam” comment).

  479. April 13, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Darryl,

    Your interpretive dyslexia is acting up again.

    But in terms of wrath and grace …

    Surely you must know that the very same actions of God is wrath to those who hate Him and love to those who Love Him.

  480. David Gadbois said,

    April 13, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    No double standard here, Bret. We let you call DGH an anabaptist, so if he calls your view Islamic, then we’ll call it even.

    What we won’t let anyone do, BTW, is cut and paste entire blog posts from other blogs into the comments thread, so I deleted your previous post of Ron’s content. A link will suffice just fine, or feel free to resummarize his ideas in your own words.

  481. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Ron, Maybe Islamic was a cheap shot. But I have wondered many times in interacting with theonomists here if the sense of implementing divine vengeance upon law breakers is analagous to certain kinds of Islam that have been much in our minds as American since 9/11. I do detect a similar inability to live in a mixed society with unholy ones. I also hear a lot about justice and punishment for violating God’s law. I would expect to hear more about forgiveness and grace from Christans.

    And then when I read Pastor Bret defending the execution of children for cursing their parents according to OT law? You really think the similarities with Islam are so great that my remark is shameful? Why isn’t there shame on the part of any Christian minister who would call for God’s justice to be granted upon the heads of a wayward child rather than a call for faith and repentance?

    Maybe I’m a liberal, though I do favor capital punishment and am generally comfortable with cops, soldiers, and other pieces of the executive branch. But the odd thing about the law is that it comes back to bite — it comes back to bite me and it comes back to bite all Christians who continue to sin, and whose good works are filthy rags. Talking about judgment and vengeance is unbecoming Christians who have been forgiven their own cursing of God the Father.

  482. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    World? As in you’ve passed to the other side when the final sword has drawn and the ultimate separation of the wicked and the forgiven is taking place?

    Does it not give you the slightest twinge of unease to talk publicly about the execution of adolescents? Do you really think such talk is becoming of someone who has a commission to proclaim the good news that Christ died for sin, even the sin of cursing parents?

  483. April 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Does it not give you the slightest twinge of unease to talk publicly about the execution of adolescents? Do you really think such talk is becoming of someone who has a commission to proclaim the good news that Christ died for sin, even the sin of cursing parents?

    This assumes that children who cursed their parents in the old testament were somehow bereft of the good news that Christ was the answer for sin … even the sin of cursing parents.

  484. dgh said,

    April 13, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    So one of your policy proposals, Bret, when you were running for office with the Constitutional Party, was the execution of children for cursing their parents?

    Oh, wait. Wouldn’t running for election in a democracy be inconsistent with theonomy since you’d need the votes of autonomous individuals to secure elected office?

    Amazing how inconsistency bedevils us all. I have a solution for you. It’s called 2k. It recognizes the difference between earthly and heavenly realities and helps us negotiate them, just as Calvin taught. Come on over Bret. And bring along your congregation into one of the Reformed churches that doesn’t ordain women.

  485. Reed Here said,

    April 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Bret:

    I’ve given my word to be at peace with you here on Lane’s blog. Have you not also given your’s?

  486. April 13, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    Reed,

    I do not recall having taken that action. If you can reproduce my words to that end I’ll be glad to reconsider.

    As far as I’m concerned the moderators on this blog that I’ve come across are five thumbed literary troglodytes who can discern meaning as well as they can type with five thumbs.

    Fortunately for them thumbs work just fine for deleting comments and giving terse, albeit strange, warnings.

  487. kazooless said,

    April 13, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    As if using the short phrase: “exectution of disobedient children” isn’t misrepresenting. Keep the ad hominems coming. You can probably keep it up longer than I can call you out on them. I’m sure you’ll win the patience game. :)

    kazoo

  488. kazooless said,

    April 13, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I too think that there are valid ‘concerns’ here. Who makes the laws for each particular state? Certainly the scripture doesn’t address every single ‘case.’ We certainly don’t want a new torah. And, I’m saying this AS a theonomist. These practical problems have to be dealt with in a theonomic view as in any others. There are no easy answers. But this doesn’t make the theonomic framework incorrect. As I stated in my first comment in this extremely long thread, the issue brought up in this post is the biblical and theologic validity of theonomy, not the practical. But the practical is what has been discussed here in about 99% of the thread.

    Presumably, the body with interpretive authority is the Church? How very Roman Catholic sounding.

    Here is another question that I have tried to think through as well. In the light of this question, how is “church’ defined? We have licensed ministers in our pulpits and ordained elders, right? But what about the doctors of the church, our seminary professors? What about lawyers maybe? Isn’t this area where the levites came into play? My understanding is that there were many that were not necessarily preists but more like our lawyers today.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that the institution of the church may not be the one that writes the laws, but that there can be professionals (law makers, lawyers) that are members of the church but their vocation is the study of ethics, but of course with a Christian influence. They would not be forbidden to use the wisdom of the scriptures or the Jewish OT case law to help in forming our laws.

    Just meandering through my thoughts now..

    kazoo

  489. kazooless said,

    April 13, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    I’d like to point out again how much silence there has been in answer to the question “how much of the theonomic primary sources have you paid attention to?”

    I can’t understand how there can be SO much misrepresentation of theonomy after so many years of it being available to readers. The same misguided arguments against straw men instead of theonomy continually pop up, instead of real debate. THAT is what is a shame.

    Brett, I guess some of your comments were deleted by the moderators since I don’t see them here but received them via the e-mail description. I know what it is like to get passionate about this subject, but I’d like to suggest that we don’t fulfill the stereotype that we theonomists are often accused of. Let’s truly follow God’s law and love in thought’s, deeds, AND word. :)

    kazoo

  490. dgh said,

    April 14, 2009 at 4:35 am

    Wrong. What you read is the horror of someone who sees an OT law upheld as appropriate in any dispensation, even after Christ. This is after all the reality we are talking about. We are living here after Christ, and one of Christ’s ministers is actually suggesting that laws calling for the execution of cursing adolescents is still appropriate for today.

    You sir, render the epoch-making significance of Christ “intrinsically” absurd by defending such a view.

    Think, just once, about the way Paul ministers to the Corinthians, who were a pretty licentious bunch. Did he call down divine justice and wrath? In other words, there is a very big difference between the example of the prophets and those of the apostles.

  491. Zrim said,

    April 14, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Bada bing. Theonomy, or any variation thereof, fundamentally misses messianic fulfillment.

  492. kazooless said,

    April 14, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    DGH’s Paul argument paraphrased:

    We have no written history of Paul suggesting that an adulterer be handed over to the magistrate, therefore Paul DIDN’T ever suggest so. That’s error #1, a fallacious argument trying to prove something from silence.

    Paul positively instructs the CHURCH in the Corinthians passage, therefore we can conclude that he NEGATIVELY speaks to the magistrate as to what the magistrate “shouldn’t” do. That’s a similar error.

    Come on dear brothers! This is BASIC logic. If you can’t even get the basics down, how can you ever hope to engage in theological debate honestly and intellectually? YOUR CONCLUSIONS DO NOT FOLLOW FROM YOUR PREMISES.

    As to the “cursing adolescent,” DGH, are you saying that the minister is to have no opinion as to whether or not the magistrate is to consider drunken domestic violence a crime? Now who’s conflating the two kingdoms (spheres of authority)? Are you saying that it was never moral to execute a young man who beat his parents? Or are you saying that it just isn’t moral today? Isn’t it the common case to find ministers of the gospel ministering to those on death row, even though they might agree with the civil penalty for a civilcrime? Maybe Brett ministers God’s grace and mercy to these convicted criminals even though he believes they were justly sentenced. The two are not necessary against each other.

    kazoo

  493. Zrim said,

    April 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Kazoo,

    What your theonomy doesn’t grasp is that the OT laws were designed for a theocracy, not an exilic pilgrimage—you know, that age we are in right now, the inter-advental age where God’s people are dispersed and without a country and all that?

    But even when it was theocratic the point wasn’t to make the little slice of earth known as Israel purified from anything ever going wrong. It wasn’t a blue print for making the Good Society, it was to point ahead to its fulfillment in the true Israel, namely the Messiah Jesus. My sense from theonomists is that they are so horrified by the fact that sin and its consequences exists on the same planet as them that they completely by-pass all this. They want clean streets and buttoned down cities and neighborhoods. I know this will be denied out-of-hand, but ask yourself just what the point is. Given theonomists’ tirades over certain cultural phenomenon it seems really super clear that moralism drives all this instead of the glorification of God. But there’s a difference between being Christ-centered and law-centered.

  494. kazooless said,

    April 14, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    z,

    Theonomy grasps (and so do I) that THAT is your assertion. We reject your assertion and instead recognize that the OT case laws were specific case laws that applied the moral law to the nation of Israel. They were moral judgements. They were just judgements many of which meant to be applied to the civil sphere. They are God’s special revelation of how the general equity of the moral law can be applied in specific “cases.”

    Has morality changed since then? Was morality different outside of the nation-state borders then?

    What your mind doesn’t grasp is rational discourse. ;)

    k

  495. Zrim said,

    April 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Kazoo,

    No, morality hasn’t changed. But the old covenant has been fulfilled by Jesus in the new covenant. The fundamental difference here is between a view that understands Jesus has fulfilled all things, that old things have passed and new things have dawned, and a view that, for all its ostensible concern for “the things of God,” undermines the complete and perfect fulfillment of the covenant of works and knows nothing of the covenant of grace.

    But when he said it was finished he really meant it. How does theonomy understand that utterance?

  496. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Actually Cris’s analysis of both Foulner and Baillie is correct. Although Baillie was a theonomist in the older sense of the term (i.e. finding the source for ethics in the God of the bible), as Colin correctly recognizes, he was not an adherent of the ethical perspective of Christian Reconstructionism (EPCR) which also gained the name Theonomy. One of the shortcomings of Foulner’s work is that he does not cite at least key quotations from a number of authors including Gillespie, Rutherford and Baillie which showed that they specifically rejected the EPCR hermeneutic even though they sometimes reached identical conclusions

  497. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Actually Cris’s analysis of both Foulner and Baillie is correct. Although Baillie was a theonomist in the older sense of the term (i.e. finding the source for ethics in the God of the bible), as Colin correctly recognizes, he was not an adherent of the ethical perspective of Christian Reconstructionism (EPCR) which also gained the name Theonomy. One of the shortcomings of Foulner’s work is that he does not cite at least key quotations from a number of authors including Gillespie, Rutherford and Baillie which showed that they specifically rejected the EPCR hermeneutic even though they sometimes reached identical conclusions.

  498. dgh said,

    April 14, 2009 at 7:27 pm

    Kazoo, well sorry to break the news, but a major part of the REFORMED doctrine of the regulative principle of worship hangs precisely on the silence you claim to be illogical. Paul was silent about using candles in worship, therefore we can assume he gave no commandments to use candles in worship. If silence works there, why not when it crosses your position?

    Also, we do know that Paul told the Corinthians not to take legal contests to the civil courts. So if he had issues with his unbelieving neighbors, why are we to presume he’d go to the magistrate to get a law passed? The general equity of 1 Cor 6 seems to be that Christians are better than the courts and the legal system and shouldn’t go there. Your position seems to be that Christians are better then the courts and legal system and should go there to make them holy.

    I think Paul disagrees.

  499. dgh said,

    April 14, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    Kazoo, and speaking of the illogical, how do you get from the cursing adolescent to drunken domestic abuse? Could it be that drunken domestic abuse is something easier to disapprove than a cursing adolescent deserving death? Either way, how could it possibly follow that I favor the drunken domestic abuse if I’m uncomfortable with Christians calling for the reinstitution of laws that would condemn cursing adolescents to death? It’s been a while since I’ve taken logic, but I’m left with a sense of large gaps in your argument thanks to a rush to condemn your adversary.

    Let me be clear, I’m not saying it was immoral for God to outlaw children cursing their parents, any more than it is was immoral for God to take the lives of Nadab and Abihu for trying to steady the Ark. What I can say is that it is a great relief not to live under those sanctions after the coming of Christ. I can also say that I cannot believe that any Christian, in a climate of Islamic terrorism, would say in a public setting that he favors cursing minors as a capital offense.

    Again, if Paul could refrain from calling down God’s judgment on the incestuous practices of Corinthian Christians, I’m sure todays Christians could take a page from Paul when it comes to disobedient youth. Then again, Paul was accused of being an antinomian. That is something that would never be leveled against a theonomist, even though, as Lloyd-Jones said, if you don’t receive the charge of antinomianism after preaching the gospel, then you likely have not preached the gospel.

  500. Colin said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Contra Tim, Jesus was teaching the continuing validity of all ethical stipulations of the law until the end of the church age in Matt 5:17, 18, particularly in the face of His wicked contemporaries who had sinfully denied it.

    Also, Tim blatantly contradicts himself when he asserts that Jesus “was teaching the entire immutability of the law down to its least details until he brought about its previously prophecied completion“. For if the law is indeed “immutable” (which can only be based on God’s unchanging holy character which is also immutable), then there can be no future point where the law then becomes mutable as antinomians seek to establish.

    As for the alleged “omission” by Bahnsen, the minor point that Tim raises was simply not relevant to Bahnsen’s over all thesis, especially since he was not writing an exegetical or critical commentary on Gospel of Matthew. Nor should Tim expect any writer to attempt to exhaust every possible alternative interpretation of any given text unless they are writing some kind of doctorate on the topic. Furthermore, Tim overlooks the relevant fact that even 20 years after Bahnsen wrote his book, he saw no good reason to address the idiosyncratic interpretive point that Tim now raises.

    And as for Tim’s “demonstration”, its interesting that he only references himself, rather than any academically established professional theologian. This isn’t to say that the latter have not attempted to challenge Bahnsen’s overall interpretation of Matt 5, for several have, however they have all been successfully answered by him, as his subsequent publications easily attest.

    IMHO Tim’s own interpretation of Matt 5 is merely an attempt to find some loophole to undermine the Reformed view of the presumed continuity of the OT law. Thus allowing for Tim’s own neo-dispensationalist approach to Christian political ethics, as well as allowing some inflated justification for his compulsive Bahnsen bashing.

    No amount of exegetical gymnastics will justify any discontinuity of OT Law from Jesus’s teaching of Matt 5:17-19. Any discontinuity of the OT law must be found elsewhere in the NT (which is where most reformed authors have always found them)

  501. kazooless said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:27 am

    DGH,

    I am well aware and adhere to the RPW. So was Bahnsen, and he was a PhD trained logician (philosopy). The RPW definitely DOES NOT hang precisely on silence. It tells us not do engage in something we have no command for (silence), but the principle itself doesn’t come from silence. Scripture teaches us to worship God only in the way He has instructed. That isn’t silence. And it isn’t ME that is asserting arguing from silence is illogical. I am merely pointing out the truth of this fact: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_silence

    Conclusions do not necessarily follow when there is an argument from silence. It is a fallacy. The RPW is based on something other than the fallacious reasoning of arguing from silence. If that were not so, then the RPW would be irrational. I’ll leave it to you to re-study that topic and figure out why you’re incorrect. Your candle example doesn’t follow. Try putting it into a syllogism. That might help.

    And can you forget for a moment the idea of going to the courts to ‘christianize’ them? In the civil area, theonomy is trying to address the question of what does a moral civil code look like? By asking and trying to answer the question: “What should a magistrate do with a murderer?,” the theonomist is not ‘necessarily’ saying that the local organization of the church should as a corporate body go downtown and put as much pressure as possible on the magistrate to pass and enforce a civil law. Please, break it down a bit. Focus like a laser beam. You admit that there is a legitimate question of how should a Christian live in the civil arena. You admit that the Christian DOES do so. You are also trying to answer the same questions. You say that he should do it in a 2K view where the civil law questions are answered ‘outside’ of the Christian context. Fine, I get that. The theonomist is trying to answer the same question. But somehow, since since the theonomist believes that scripture has insight into this arena, and not only the personal spiritual life of the believer and the believing community, you want to cry foul. No! No! We (Christians) can’t use the bible outside of our personal lives or the four walls of the church! May it never be! That’s Islam, not Christianity! That’s Judiazing! That’s glory theology! Foul Foul Foul!

    Silly.

    kaz

  502. kazooless said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:55 am

    DGH,

    And speaking of the illogical, how do you get from the cursing adolescent to drunken domestic abuse?

    Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (New King James Version)

    The Rebellious Son

    18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

    Where do you see a “child” or even “adolescent” being referred to in that passage?

    Exodus 21:12-27 (New King James Version)

    The Law Concerning Violence

    12 “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. 13 However, if he did not lie in wait, but God delivered him into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee.
    14 “But if a man acts with premeditation against his neighbor, to kill him by treachery, you shall take him from My altar, that he may die.
    15 “And he who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
    16 “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death.
    17 “And he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.
    18 “If men contend with each other, and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but is confined to his bed, 19 if he rises again and walks about outside with his staff, then he who struck him shall be acquitted. He shall only pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for him to be thoroughly healed.
    20 “And if a man beats his male or female servant with a rod, so that he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished. 21 Notwithstanding, if he remains alive a day or two, he shall not be punished; for he is his property.
    22 “If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23 But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
    26 “If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.

    Where do you see a “child” or even “adolescent” being referred to in that passage? Notice the context surrounding the “son” who “curses?” Context still matters when you exeget a passage, right? What did it mean to “curse” ones parents? Could this have been something more than verbal? Are we reading our own culture and cultural understanding of the word “curse” BACK INTO this passage when we assert that the law was harsh to apply the death penalty to a “child” who merely curses his parents?

    Maybe I’ve done a little more homework on this issue than you have and that is why I refer to a “drunken adolescent.” One who beats his parents is more than a child. The Deuteronomy passage says the parents are to attest to this “son” being a glutton and a drunkard. A glutton and drunkard is more than a child. So, again I encourage you to deal with the real theonomic teaching instead of a straw man (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man).

    I’ll take it one step further for you:

    Romans 1:28-32 (New King James Version)

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

    Seems to me that Paul still thought it to be a very serious crime to mention it in the context of the rest of those things.

    You have parents, right? So then are you a child? In one sense you are, and another you aren’t. When you falsely accuse theonomists of wanting ‘children’ to be executed, you are using one sense of the word. But when the theonomist is trying to properly exegete the passages I gave you, he is never thinking of ‘child’ in the same sense you are using to accuse.

    I’m just trying to be real here and expose you to the real debate in the hopes that maybe you’ll wrestle with that instead of these straw men and other fallacies that are so common among your crowd.

    kazoo

  503. kazooless said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:12 am

    “It is finished.”

    The work that Christ had been sent to do was complete. Hallelujah. He is my substitute. He paid my price. He suffered in my place. He freed me from sin. The guilt of sin, as well as the power of sin. Full realization of that won’t be until I am in glory, but sanctification has begun.

    But what is sin? Disobedience to the law of God, right? I can account for there still being a law to break. But your logic leads you to say that there is no law to break any longer, “all was fulfilled.”

    Don’t bother telling me how you certainly do think you can still sin today. Just because you can act that way and talk that way doesn’t mean that you have a logical explanation for it. You’re all twisted in being able to support your worldview. It’s not different than an atheist who says he believes in logic since he uses it every day. That doesn’t mean that he can account for it. But that’s getting into presuppositional apologetics. Probably another area we disagree in.

    No, just because Christ has fulfilled His work, that doesn’t mean that the moral requirements of the law have changed in this pre-glory state of creation. I still don’t think you’ve quite grasped the problem of the moral demands in Israel BC and if they’ve changed in the here and now. Time and place do not, CAN not, have a bearing how morality changes. Christ’s atonement for His church didn’t change the moral requirements upon the magistrate (of any country, any where). The general equity remains the same. Magistrates are still required to punish certain evils (crimes) with equitable penalties. If it weighed 20 lbs back then and there, it weighs 20 lbs in the here and now. If murder weighed capital punishment then and there, it weighs capital punishment here and now. And you know what’s funny about this? I just argued for the equity of the moral law without using scripture. Just logic and natural law. How’s that for kicks?

    ;)

    kazoo

  504. Colin said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Tim presented a fallacious question to Dr. Lee in the form of a false dichotomy i.e. would you agree “with Bahnsen” or “with the WCF”, and by begging the very question that Bahnsen had allegedly contradicted the WCF. It might as well have been a rhetorical question given the obvious bias from the inquirer.

    And how would one expect a strict confessional Presbyterian like Dr. Lee to answer? Obviously he would side with the WCF, even unwittingly in a false dichotomy.

    The problem for Tim is that Bahnsen also sided with the WCF, and rightly saw no conflict between Theonomy and the WCF. One of Bahnsen’s aims in his book was to defend the WCF of the law, over against all modern forms of dispensationalism (including Klineanism)

    Another problem for Tim is that he is unaware that his bifurcated question to Dr. Lee is really a tautology. For whatever NT modifications the Lawgiver did to the OT law, all that now remains is the general equity of the judicials, which is what Theonomy has always taught, from the Calvin, to the WCF, and up to Bahnsen and beyond.

    As for Dr. Lee’s reply to Tim, Theonomists have no major disagreement with the answer he provided. For all the continuing OT civil laws are those tied only to the Decalogue and not to any of the ceremonial laws. Which is why the civil law standard for general equity remains the Decalogue itself. And of course, with Dr. Lee, all Theonomists recognize that such extracted civil laws must be applied to our modern “different situation” (ie. outside the ancient context of Old covenant Israel).

    But note also, that contrary to Tim, Dr. Lee believes extracted civil laws must be applied today. IOW Dr. Lee does not agree with Tim that only the Decalogue alone is binding. For if the former did, then there would be nothing to apply in our “different situation” since the Decalogue itself contains no civil sanctions.

    So in the end, I see much greater judicial disagreement between Dr. Lee and Tim, than I do between Dr. Lee and Bahnsen. Furthermore, when Dr. Lee began writing in the 1970’s he never once publicly challenged nor opposed any of Bahnsen’s major Theonomic arguments. Nor accused the latter of being unconfessional. Infact, many of Lee’s writings provide further historical support to Bahnsen’s Theonomic and confessional position (e.g. Dr. Lee’s book, Are the Mosaic Laws for Today?). And as an aside, Dr. Lee wrote a positive book review of Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law. A rather odd thing to do if the former had thought that the entire Theonomic viewpoint was unconfessional, or unreformed, or a serious error as some allege. (a copy of this 1975 book review is available upon request)

  505. Colin said,

    April 15, 2009 at 2:20 am

    Tim,

    Chris’s brief analysis of Foulner and Baillie is incorrect for the simple reason that any true Theonomy can never be redefined as allowing for inflicting civil punishments greater than those in the OT judicial law.

    Such redefinition would be a recipe for tyranny as there would then be no objective moral standard for restraint on the part of the civil magistrate when passing sentences. Hence, Foulner was right to exclude Baillie in that context since Theonomy rightly restrains the sentences of the magistrate to the standard of God’s revealed Word.

    I could suppose that Chris’s main point was that Baillie’s wide flexiblity in civil punishments (i.e. those “lesser and greater” than the OT judicials) made him qualify for a broad label of “Theonomist” since Theonomy itself teaches flexibility of the OT civil law and for some punishments less severe, than those stated in the Judicials. However, once one advocates civil punishments greater than those in the Judicials, then they have left Theonomy behind for the dark waters of autonomy and tyranny. Lex Talionis becomes a thing of the past.

    BTW your “older sense of the term” theonomist would still include Greg Bahnsen since he too found his “source for ethics in God of the Bible”, just like Calvin and the puritans before him.

    As for the alleged shortcomings in Foulner’s work, in one sense, every human book has its shortcomings since every author is fallible. And in another sense, you as a Baptist, believe that Calvin’s Institutes has obvious “shortcomings” from a Baptist perspective. Ditto with the WCF. But I suppose you are not so eager to openly discuss those “shortcomings” on any paedobaptist forum since you want everyone to believe you are some kind of defender of Calvin and the WCF.

    Returning to Foulner, he simply compiled what he rightly believed were sufficient quotations to adequately show the confessional and historical background to Theonomy or Reconstructionism. For a first edition effort he succeeded in that purpose. He did tell one reviewer that he had many more quotes to add for an expanded second edition. But any more puritan quotes would simply be icing on the cake.

    And BTW there are no “key quotations” from Gillespie or Rutherford which show them specifically rejecting the hermeneutics of Theonomy. That is simply your imagination acting up again, Tim.

    One could easily find from Rutherford and Gillespie them specifically rejecting some of the views of many modern Reformed authors such as Sproul, or Piper or Lloyd-Jones, or Poythress, or Kline or Packer, but you probably would not want to talk about that. Out of most modern reformed authors, its a fact that Greg Bahnsen is one who’s views stand much closer to Rutherford and Gillespie in both hermeneutics and theology and politics. Which explains in part why John Frame rightly noted how Bahnsen’s Theonomy book had revived a position often held in Reformed history. (cf. “Machen’s Warrior Children”)

  506. dgh said,

    April 15, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Kazoo, I didn’t bring up the question of children cursing their parents. I see how you are understanding it. Yet there’s nothing that you’ve quoted that suggests that the law would not apply to a 13-year old.

    Also, you were the one to ding me for making an argument from silence. Now it turns out that silence is okay in some respects, as a piece of the RPW shows (I know it is not entirely an argument of silence but it does rely upon the idea of not doing those things which Scripture is silent about). In otherw words, we need a positive warrent from Scripture for what the church institutionally is called to do.

    Which leaves the question hanging, where did Paul, Jesus or the apostles instruct the church to tell the magistrate to institute the Law? If you can’t find a positive warrant, aren’t you imposing something on the Bible?

    Second, if the magistrate is supposed to institute the Law, doesn’t that mean that you favor a state church? (I’m not trying to bait you. I’m just curious how far you’re willing to go with your “fallacious,” “silly,” “strawman” argument? How do you like those adjectives now?)

  507. dgh said,

    April 15, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Finished is the wrong word. Expired is. Kazoo, you’re trying to repristinate a judicial and legislative arrangement that the Confession of Faith says “expired” with Christ’s coming. I don’t think you really believe Israel expired, or should have.

  508. Zrim said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Kazoo,

    “It is finished.”
    The work that Christ had been sent to do was complete. Hallelujah. He is my substitute. He paid my price. He suffered in my place. He freed me from sin. The guilt of sin, as well as the power of sin. Full realization of that won’t be until I am in glory, but sanctification has begun.

    I know what you say “it is finished” means, but my question was what theonomy says of it. And it seems to me that your theonomy is getting is the way of your confession.

    But what is sin? Disobedience to the law of God, right? I can account for there still being a law to break. But your logic leads you to say that there is no law to break any longer, “all was fulfilled.”

    I understand. But sometimes logic works, sometimes it doesn’t: there’s at once a fine line and wide difference between saying “there’s no law to break” and “all was fulfilled.” Laws get broken all the time, and they should be punished. But if you think that is the point of the Bible there seems no greater example of missing forest for trees.

    Don’t bother telling me how you certainly do think you can still sin today. Just because you can act that way and talk that way doesn’t mean that you have a logical explanation for it. You’re all twisted in being able to support your worldview. It’s not different than an atheist who says he believes in logic since he uses it every day. That doesn’t mean that he can account for it.

    You seem quite possessed with logic. But an atheist doesn’t have to explain or confess the origin of logic to employ it well. His foolishness is being stored up against him, but in the meantime it seems equally foolish to suggest that just because he doesn’t confess the origin of logic (or the world for that matter) he is unjustified in employing or even claiming it. In the same way that you suggest an atheist can’t be logical because he’s not a believer, you seem to be suggesting that I can’t confess a doctrine of sin because I’m not a theonomist. Again, though, theonomy’s implicit doctrine of utter depravity is different from Calvinism’s explicit doctrine of total depravity.

    The rest of your comment is just getting repetitive. But I am still curious how theonomists sleep at night knowing they are members of earthly jurisdictions that don’t follow OT law per their understanding. And how do they deal with being members of spiritual jurisdictions that don’t either. Paul’s dealing with Corinth by merely expelling the immoral brother instead of stoning him must give you absolute fits.

  509. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:18 am

    Colin: Chris’s brief analysis of Foulner and Baillie is incorrect for the simple reason that any true Theonomy can never be redefined as allowing for inflicting civil punishments greater than those in the OT judicial law.

    Tim replies: You are correct that the Ethical Perspective of Christian Reconstruction (EPCR also known as Theonomy) does not allow for inflicting punishments greater than those in the OT judicial law, however not all “theonomists” follow the EPCR and agree with that limitation. As you know, Calvin was one such and Baillie was another. That they could arrive at such conclusions conclusively demonstrates that they arrived at those conclusions by a different hermeneutic than that employed by advocates of CR’s ethical perspective which specifically prohibits such conclusions.

    Colin: BTW your “older sense of the term” theonomist would still include Greg Bahnsen since he too found his “source for ethics in God of the Bible”, just like Calvin and the puritans before him.

    Tim’s reply: I am fully aware that all advocates of
    EPCR are theonomists in that sense. That is not what the debate is about: it concerns whether or not all of us are biblically required to adope the particular “theonomy” of the EPCR.

    As for the alleged shortcomings in Foulner’s work, in one sense, every human book has its shortcomings since every author is fallible. And in another sense, you as a Baptist, believe that Calvin’s Institutes has obvious “shortcomings” from a Baptist perspective. Ditto with the WCF. But I suppose you are not so eager to openly discuss those “shortcomings” on any paedobaptist forum since you want everyone to believe you are some kind of defender of Calvin and the WCF.

    Tim: Straw man argument. Foulner’s book makes the common error of misunderstanding what is at issue in the debate. At the time Foulner wrote the book he was not fully aware of the differences in hermeneutic used by the WD’s and Bahnsen. As for my differences with Calvin, they are not what the debate is about since on the hermeneutic needed to determine the contemporary applicapbility of a Mosaic judicial, we are closer to each other than either is to Bahnsen.

    And BTW there are no “key quotations” from Gillespie or Rutherford which show them specifically rejecting the hermeneutics of Theonomy. That is simply your imagination acting up again, Tim.

    Tim: It is not imagination to cite Bahnsen’s own axiom summarizing his hermeneutic (as I have done elsewhere) “In all of its minute detail, (every jot and tittle) the law of God down to its least significant provision should be reckoned to have an abiding validity — until and unless the Lawgiver reveals otherwise.” – a statement with which Colin agreed when, in an earlier response to this thread, he wrote that:
    “Any discontinuity of the OT judicials is still based on the Theonomic axiom … that the NT alone abrogates any OT law (e.g. the ceremonials and their peculiar relevant judicials) and not by any presumption of OT discontinuity.”

    But since Calvin, Gillespie and Rutherford all admit of outcomes that specifically deny this premise (Calvin, where he allows for greater punishments that the Mosaic law, Gillespie where he allows the magistrate to grant a forebearance of punishment applicable to a Mosaic crime when such is nowhere authorized by the NT and Rutherford when he claims that to adhere to a Mosaic law because Christ has not abolished it is to be guilty of Galatianism) it is certain that each man used a hermeneutic that was not that of Bahnsen whose hermeneutic does not allow these outcomes.

    (BTW in stating the EPCR hermeneutic as he has, Colin has not only agreed with Bahnsen’s own statement but has unwittingly demolished one of his own arguments against me. By agreeing that that Bahnsen’s summary was the Theonomic (EPCR) hermeneutic, Colin has made also refuted his claim that I do not understand Bahnsen’s Theonomy since it was that very statement of Bahnsen’s that I presented as the Theonomic hermeneutic in How Firm a Foundation.)

    ….

    Colin: Which explains in part why John Frame rightly noted how Bahnsen’s Theonomy book had revived a position often held in Reformed history. (cf. “Machen’s Warrior Children”)

    Tim: The position often held in Reformed history was the contemporary application of Mosaic penalties, not necessarily the hermeneutic that Bahnsen proposed to justify them today.

  510. Colin said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:56 am

    Rev. Lane and Reed and others,

    As most of the current commentators have left the OP thread, namely Lane’s critique of Theonomy, allow me to propose an alternative website for any continuing discussion and debate on the topic of Theonomy for interested members.

    The website is the all bahnsen debate yahoo groups forum:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/All-Bahnsen-Debate/

    Theonomy has been previously debated there and there are presently 38 members (though no discussions are current on the board). So any present discussions here at Greenbaggins are free to continue over there if any participants mutually desire.

    In addition, the website makes it easier to find older threads in the group’s archive.

    Just a thought.

  511. TurretinFan said,

    April 15, 2009 at 9:20 am

    “It recognizes the difference between earthly and heavenly realities and helps us negotiate them, just as Calvin taught.” (dgh)

    “[T]his, I say, is not its [i.e. civil government's] only object, but it is, that no idolatry, no blasphemy against the name of God, no calumnies against his truth, nor other offences to religion, break out and be disseminated among the people; that the public quiet be not disturbed, that every man’s property be kept secure, that men may carry on innocent commerce with each other, that honesty and modesty be cultivated; in short, that a public form of religion may exist among Christians, and humanity among men.” (Calvin, ICR 4.20.3)

    That doesn’t sound much like the version of “two kingdoms” that we hear from dgh, but maybe my hearing aid needs adjustment.

    -TurretinFan

  512. Reed Here said,

    April 15, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Interesting.

    What do you understand in Calvin’s separate references to: 1) “Public form of religion among Christians,” and 2) “humanity among men.”? Sounds like Calvin understood two different contexts: one within the Church and one outside the Church. Why “public” religion among the one, and “humanity” among the other?

    Might not Calvin be arguing for two different contexts, two difference realms? I.e., it does sound like Calvin does hold to a form of two kingdoms, does it not?

    Not saying it is clear and cut for Darryl. Nor, does it seem, for theonomists commenting here.

  513. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 15, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Hi kazooless

    As noted in an earlier post before you got here, I have read just about everything Bahnsen wrote on Theonomy. I also gave my email address timmopussycat AT yahoo DOT ca and announced that anybody who wanted to read a copy of a not yet published book critiquing Theonomy could email me for a copy.

    Bahnsen’s former department chairman at RTS has described as follows: “I was amazed at the thoroughness with which you have done your work. You have brought together a prodigious amount of material. You have, moreover, organized it with painstaking care. For the most part your argument is clear and readily followed, at least by those who have had some introduction to the school of thought you undertook to combat. I should think also that the case you make is unanswerable””

    It was instructive to notice that since that offer was made only one person asked for a copy. And that one person does not appear to be a participant in these debates. What are Bahnsen’s disciples here afraid of?

  514. Joe Brancaleone said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Kazoo –

    “Seems to me that Paul still thought it to be a very serious crime to mention it in the context of the rest of those things.”

    I don’t think there is any disagreement from any orthodox Reformed folk about the seriousness of such sins. I’ve been watching this common refrain from theonomists if I am understanding it correctly – non-theonomists in rejecting the continuing validity of Mosaic punitive laws today are implying either God was wrong to penalize such sins in the first place, or God has somehow lowered his standard against such sins since then. This implication does not seem to follow.

    Paul absolutely affirms in Romans 1, in accordance with the Mosaic law, that those who practice such things are worthy of death.

    However that does not then mean the seriousness of such sins can only be established in implementing such laws in earthly courts. The NT often cites what we can know from the Mosaic law in support of what we ought to know about the heavenly courts.

    In fact Paul expressly does NOT have earthly punitive retribution in mind in context of that section of Romans. He restates his case in Romans 2: “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things” (Rom 2:2), and after linking the self righteous judgmentalism of his audience to the group of offenders already listed in Romans 1, Paul further drives home his main point by saying: “because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom. 2:5)

    We can look at the covenantal laws of Moses, and we can look at the history of Israel where the punishments fit the crimes (the soul that sins shall surely die), and we will inevitably find ourselves agreeing with Paul that those who practice such things are worthy of death. And the application so far as the NT is expressly concerned is laying foundation for the gospel message: Israel under the Law was a sign in history that at the end of history there will be a day of wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness, therefore flee to the mercy of God found in Christ apart from the Law.

    What I mean is the NT DOES, like theonomists, take seriously the civil laws of Moses against sins. But unlike theonomists as far as I understand them, the NT does not take it in the direction of socio-political application. Like further argued in Hebrews 2:1-3. the retributive nature of the Mosaic law points us to an even greater day of judgment upon all the ungodly (particularly those who reject the message of salvation).

    The fallacy charge of argument from silence doesn’t mean much as far as I can tell. I think there is a greater burden of proof upon theonomists. To assume ongoing application of the Mosaic penal sanctions there necessarily needs to be the ongoing conditions in which such penal sanctions were meaningful in the first place. Sins must be punished lest the land be defiled. The land cannot be defiled because it is designated holy by virtue of it becoming the Lord’s “rest”.

    It is the same reason that no one could touch Sinai or go near it, lest they die instantly. Same reason priests and those who served in the tabernacle or temple would get annihilated immediately if they messed up. The closer proximity one is to God’s holy presence, the less tolerance for sin and defiling things in that environment.

    There are enough citations that could be provided from the OT to show that is the precise reason capital punishment for instance was instituted, or exile. Interestingly, the same reasoning was applied in the ceremonial laws barring individuals from certain cultic life if they were physically in certain conditions. All the Law as a unity was to be a demonstration of what it means to dwell before a holy God, to be holy as he is holy.

    The rebellious son is a great example. Why was something like that deserving of capital punishment? Well, in context of God’s covenantal relationship with Israel, parent-child relationships were required to reflect the parent-child relationship of YHWH with the nation. The rebellious son was not just disturbing the peace of a household or community, he was essentially commiting treason against the nation you could say. His behavior proved he was striking out against the very substance of Israel’s covenant relationship with YHWH. It contradicts everything Israel stood for as them alone being known by God, among all the peoples of the earth. No wonder such an individual had to be removed from the life of Israel. He was a defiling presence.

    In the final judgment, the laws and conditions will once again appopriately reflect one another. Jesus will return bodily in his glory, and the nations will be judged. There will not even be a remote possibility of mercy because the glory of heaven’s armies will wash over the entire earth. This is the NT’s idea of the progressive revelation of God’s moral law. Earthly courts were established after Sinai, tied to the earthly temple life of the earthly land, fulfilled in Jesus who is the true temple establishing our life in a better country, implemented analogously via church discipline in the new covenant, and finally implemented in a scorched earth policy at the last day when the entire creation will be a temple holy to the Lord.

    just some thoughts.
    j

  515. dgh said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:20 pm

    TFan: for the hearing impaired, I’ll repost what I did somewhere above. It is Calvin on the two kingdoms. And until I see some hermeneutic on the theonomic side that is able to make sense of this Augustinian side of Calvin, I’ll continue to think that the 2k theology reads Calvin better than theonomists and neo-Kuyperians because the 2kers can account for why Calvin thought the magistrate should enforce both tables but theonomists cannot account for Calvin’s dualism. So here goes (AGAIN!!):

    “Therefore, to perceive more clearly how far the mind can proceed in any matter according to the degree of its ability, we must here set forth a distinction: that there is one kind of understanding of earthly things; another of heavenly. I call “earthly things” those which do not pertain to God or his Kingdom, to true justice, or to the blessedness of the future life; but which have their significance and relationship with regard to the present life and are, in a sense, confined within its bounds. I call “heavenly things” the pure knowledge of God, the nature of true righteousness, and the mysteries of the Heavenly Kingdom. The first class includes government, household management, all mechanical skills, and the liberal arts. In the second are the knowledge of God and of his will, and the rule by which we conform our lives to it.

    “Of the first class the following ought to be said: since man is by nature a social animal, he tends through natural instinct to foster and preserve society. Consequently, we observe that there exist in all men’s minds universal impressions of a certain civic fair dealing and order. Hence no man is to be found who does not understand that every sort of human organization must be regulated by laws, and who does not comprehend the principles of those laws. Hence arises the unvarying consent of all nations and of individual morals with regard to laws. For their seeds have, without teacher or lawgiver, been implanted in all men.” II.2.13

    “But whoever knows how to distinguish between body and soul, between this present fleeting life and that future eternal life, will without difficulty know that Christ’s spiritual Kingdom and the civil jurisdiction are things completely distinct. Since, then, it is a Jewish vanity to seek and enclose Christ’s Kingdom within the elements of this world, let us rather ponder that what Scripture clearly teaches is a spiritual fruit, which we gather from Christ’s grace; and let us remember to keep within its own limits all that freedom which is promised and offered to us in him. For why is it that the same apostle who bids us stand and no submit to the ‘yoke of bondage’ (Gal. 5:1) elsewhere forbids slaves to be anxious about their state (1 Cor. 7:21), unless it be that spiritual freedom can perfectly well exist along with civil bondage? . . . . By these statements he means that it makes no difference what your condition among men may be or under what nation’s laws you live, since the Kingdom of Christ does not at all consist of these things.” IV.20.1

  516. TurretinFan said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Reed:

    The famous (infamous?) case of Servetus suggests that Calvin meant that blasphemy (for example) should be something handled by the civil magistrate.

    That’s not something that I think dgh would be very comfortable with, but perhaps, as he suggests below, I’m hearing impaired.

    -TurretinFan

  517. TurretinFan said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    dgh wrote:

    And until I see some hermeneutic on the theonomic side that is able to make sense of this Augustinian side of Calvin, I’ll continue to think that the 2k theology reads Calvin better than theonomists and neo-Kuyperians because the 2kers can account for why Calvin thought the magistrate should enforce both tables but theonomists cannot account for Calvin’s dualism.

    You seem to acknowledge that Calvin thought the magistrate should enforce both tables. From your comments here and elsewhere I presume that you do not agree that the magistrate should enforce both tables.

    So, I respectfully submit to you that your claim that your position is “just as Calvin taught” (your words, which I’ve quoted twice now) is not very accurate.

    I get the sense from your comments about hermeneutic that you might be willing to withdraw that statement in favor of a more vague claim to having a hermeneutic more similar to that of Calvin, in which case my objection would dissipate (not because I agree, but because I see no need to debate that).

    -TurretinFan

  518. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Dude, what Bible are you even reading? Jesus teaches directly on how our faith relates to the cares of this world. Paul gives instructions on how to live with and pray for the governors and neighbors, how to be a master or a slave, how to deal with courts, divorce (prevalent in the Roman world).

    And you need to do some basic interpretation to understand “OF this world.” It doesn’t mean “having nothing to with,” but “not deriving from,” the genitive of source. The very fact that he refuses to answer Pilate indicates that Jesus does not perceive himself to be under Pilate’s (and therefore Rome’s) jurisdiction–a radical claim in the first century world.

    Maybe it’s the public education…If we really understood the first century world and the relation between religion and society, we wouldn’t read these nonsensical, post-Enlightenment dichotomies into the ancient world. In short, classical education. By the way, on education, try reading about what paideia meant in the first century. And that doesn’t mean Jesus died for education.

  519. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Good point. I wrote in to ModRef some years back (when DGH was the editor, in fact), arguing against T. D. Jakes’–I mean Gordon’s–view of theonomy as the error of the never-to-be wise, and so forth, citing Bahnsen’s last published position in the Five Views book, where he discussed how much challenging work there is to do in exegesis and practical theology to put any view of the law into practice, and admitted that no view, even theonomy, has every problem worked out perfectly.

    If only they would read a little…

  520. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    And, by the way, while at Westminster Escondido, I read a great deal of Bahnsen, and became a self-identified theonomist. When I described what I meant to fellow-students, using stuff right out of Bahnsen, they were flabbergasted and said that didn’t sound like what theonomy was. Maybe that was because they were learning about it from professors (who shall remain nameless, even though they share two similar initials to that seminary) whose entire engagement with theonomy was “it’s un-Reformed, un-Christian, and just plain stupid” (and that’s pretty much a direct and complete quote) and several snide remarks on occasional about “rabbi Greg [Bahnsen].”

  521. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Dude, you are so modern. All you said was “social concerns,” which doesn’t by any means mean “state policies.” Only in the modern period does your equivocation between “social concerns” and “goverment policies” make any sense at all (and not much even then). So, your response is a complete non sequitur–I never said that those were state policies, just social concerns.

    And your logic shows that you went to a public high school.

  522. Reed Here said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Severtus, huh? Such an unclear piece of history to be basing your point upon.

    Aside from that, it does not appear you’ve responded to my query. Do you see Calvin differentiating between kingdoms? Stick to just the quote you provided if you wish, and leave Darryl’s further quoting aside.

    Do you? I remember you saying you are not so much a Theonomist, as possibly sympathetic. No intention to spring a trap, just further the clarification.

  523. Zrim said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    The very fact that he refuses to answer Pilate indicates that Jesus does not perceive himself to be under Pilate’s (and therefore Rome’s) jurisdiction–a radical claim in the first century world.

    Joshua, what in thee heck are you talking about? How could he who said render unto Caesar his due not consider himself under the latter’s jurisdiction? They were amazed in Mark 12 precisely because they expected a hint of insurrection, yet he tells them to submit and gives no wiggle room for any disobedience. Jesus willfully put himself under Pilate’s jurisdiction, and our very salvation depends on such obedience to the extent that Pilate’s judgment typifies God’s perfect judgment against our sin. Just as some here don’t seem to know the difference between worship and obedience, your statement doesn’t seem to indicate understanding jurisdiction at all. If Jesus wasn’t under Pilate’s jurisdiction what gives with all the submission?

    Yours is actually an incredible statement. Paul says to undermine Caesar is to undermine Yahweh. Like Forrest said, I may not be a smart man, but I know what obedience is. OK, he said “love” but I’m not so sure the two are mutually exclusive.

  524. Ron said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    “Why isn’t there shame on the part of any Christian minister who would call for God’s justice to be granted upon the heads of a wayward child rather than a call for faith and repentance?”

    Daryl,

    Why not do both whenever God’s law prescribes both. Look Daryl, certainly there must be some punishment you allow for some transgression. I even must believe that you might dare (maybe at weaker moments for you) to justify a penal sanction or two with Scripture, even Old Testament Scripture. Even if not, given the finality of the death penalty, what a glorious thing it would be to see evangelism accompany the sword! Before God’s justice is rendered, why not have God’s gospel proclaimed to the one who in moments will meet his Maker? I think you’re dealing in a classic either-or fallacy with that remark.

    It seems to me that nothing seems to accuse Bret more in your eyes than his love for the laws that you find so disdainful. Your argument seems to be that the foolishness of the penalty of death for incorrigible youth demonstrates the foolishness of Bret. Now you might like to say that I have misrepresented your position, and that you actually mean that “Bret is a fanatic because he loves even the most severe laws of Moses – even after the cross.” However, if that were truly your position, – if your objection truly is that Bret does not understand that the law was abrogated, then why mock the severity of the law, as if you do not deem it precious under Moses?

    Your argument seems to begin and end with the citing of the law, as if the shock-value of the law’s penalty is a valid argument. It is by citing the law to 21st century ears you seem think that you have made your case. By saying that a minister wants to see certain youths killed, even in the day of Christ, you seem to think that you have exposed the weakness of theonomy. But that, Daryl, does not prove the abrogation of such laws; nor does it tell us why Moses, and at one time God, were not also hateful fools for loving such laws as Bret. By mentioning the Law of Moses in the same breath as “after Christ came” does not tell us why the coming of Christ has made the civil law contemptuous in your eyes, let alone God’s. How does the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ cause God to hate the OT civil law as you do? Moreover, how does the severity of the penal code constrain us from pleading with men to come to Christ prior to their execution? Love and justice, gospel and the laws demands, need not only be displayed upon the cross. It can also be displayed on death row. Non-theonomists are not the only ones who want to seem men saved. We just don’t see, especially as Calvinists, how our view of God’s prescribed justice in a fallen world is a hinderance to the gospel and Great Commission.

    Let us hear you say, even once, that you think it was wise and glorious that such laws, (which you now seem to find so contemptuous for this age), were on the books for a season. Tell us that you see that in Moses’ time it was beautiful, wise, loving and glorious to put a witch, rapist or incorrigible youth to death. And if you do that, you might then let us have a verbal glimpse of you scratching your head in wonder over why God would have abrogated these non-ceremonial laws you could find so loving and wise under Moses, yet now so repugnant under Christ. Finally, you might explain how natural law confirms to you the putting away of those laws but affirmed their use at another time.

    You see, Daryl, and I hope you do see, your criticisms against Bret have spewed forth from what would appear to be a disdain for the law itself, usually without reference to time or season. You seem to convey that you find it appalling that anyone would want to see certain Mosaic laws legislated, and although you might now wish to index that disdain to the coming of the Messiah, you have drawn no rational connection why laws that God considered appropriate are now disgusting in your sight. I could understand you finding them unnecessary for today, but that you would hold them up as preposterous and ridicule them as you do is rather worrisome to me. I don’t suspect you would behave that way if you had a deeper appreciation for the law under Moses. And if you had that appreciation, I think you would see more clearly some of the flaws in your law-abrogation arguments. It would seem to me that your arguments against the law are being driven by a disdain for the law itself – under any dispensation, but I suppose that’s mere conjecture on my part.

    Finally, you also wrote elswhere: “Think, just once, about the way Paul ministers to the Corinthians, who were a pretty licentious bunch. Did he call down divine justice and wrath? In other words, there is a very big difference between the example of the prophets and those of the apostles.”

    And from that inference drawn from silence you would like to draw a concrete conclusion about role of civil magistrates? I think that argument might need some refinement.

    In His grace,

    Ron

  525. TurretinFan said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    As to the quotation itself, I don’t think Calvin is trying to differentiate with the expressions 1) “Public form of religion among Christians,” and 2) “humanity among men.”

    Nevertheless, there is a valid and important distinction that both Calvin and I make between the civil magistracy and the eldership of the church.

    As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not a theonomist the way that dgh defines theonomy, but I would agree with Calvin that the civil magistrate should silence public blasphemy.

    -TurretinFan

  526. Reed Here said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Joshua:

    Rather than disparaging remarks about unnamed brothers, please instead: name them, quote them, critique them. I don’t sense you are intentionally taking cheap shots. Yet such a pattern as yours can be used by others who might want to do so.

    Thanks for appreciating my caution.

    P.S. for any who think this caution should be applied to others, consider this so. I’ll be glad to remind any along the way. reed here at gmaildotcom

  527. Reed Here said,

    April 15, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Joshua:

    You’ve changed the definition of social concerns, from that originally used by Zrim above. His use is consistent with Darryl’s.

    Not for or against, just pointing out.

  528. TurretinFan said,

    April 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    dgh wrote:

    Does it not give you the slightest twinge of unease to talk publicly about the execution of adolescents? Do you really think such talk is becoming of someone who has a commission to proclaim the good news that Christ died for sin, even the sin of cursing parents?

    1) As to the first question, no it does not – nor should it. 2) Christ died for every kind of sin, and yet the civil magistrate has the power of the sword. More importantly, your talk suggesting that advocating the penalties of the Mosaic unbecoming is something that ought to give you pause.

    -TurretinFan

  529. Zrim said,

    April 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Let us hear you say, even once, that you think it was wise and glorious that such laws, (which you now seem to find so contemptuous for this age), were on the books for a season. Tell us that you see that in Moses’ time it was beautiful, wise, loving and glorious to put a witch, rapist or incorrigible youth to death.

    I know that Ron is addressing DGH here, but it is interesting. The rather clear message is that serious punishments for serious crimes are somehow to be almost relished. I find this odd and disturbing. When a judge hands down a capital sentence (something with which I have no problem per se) it seems to me the fitting and wise posture would be less relish and more sobriety. Any wise judge who has a sense of what is right, true and good will tell you it gives him or her no pleasure to have to conclude a heinous matter with an equally heinous sentence. It actually causes more pain and confusion. There is nothing “beautiful and glorious” about any of it. And wise victims know the same thing.

    To love the law of God is not the same as to relish its doling out. Moreover, and again, the OT laws being cited here have not to do with creating the Good Society. They have to do with what it means to work out our salvation by God in the person and work of Jesus. Those are two very different things. Those who want the Good Society convey a chilling relish, one that should demand a lot more outrage than has been seen here (and I’m not given to outrage). Those who understand this was all a typological pointing to God’s salvation of his people show, well, a more careful handling of the matter.

    So if it’s a confession that God’s law were wise and glorious, no problem. Just be sure it is understood that such a confession is not as one who quests the Good Society, but rather as one who is a miserable sinner whose only help is in the name of the Lord our God, who made heaven and earth.

  530. Ron said,

    April 15, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Come now… Nobody is suggesting that we should delight in the death penalty in a twisted way. We can delight in many other ways though – for instance in the confidence we may have the future would-be evil doers would be restrained.

    BTW – The same Paul who did not call down divine judgment on Corinth also noted to those in Ephesus that he who stole should steal no more but rather work with his hands. Given the argument from silence that Daryl put forth, should we conclude that under the NT magistrates should not punish thieves but merely require that they get jobs? :)

    Ron

    Ron

  531. Matthew said,

    April 15, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Dear Rev. Keister,

    It seems to me that your definition of “Theonomy” is somewhat too broad. Surely the OT civil law is applicable to us today, and applicable to the civil magistrate. Don’t we all believe that at least some small portion of the OT civil law is applicable today in some way?

    Would not defining “Theonomy” as the verbal or substantive denial of the Westminster Confession’s assertion of general equity be more accurate, and perhaps more helpful to debate?

    As a non-Theonomist, may I not confess the OT civil law to be valid and applicable to today’s civil magistrate, but not in exhaustive detail, rather only in so far as the general equity of it requires? Or am I perhaps missing something? (This last is entirely likely!)

    With thanks for your work as a servant of Christ and for this weblog,

    Matthew

  532. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Reed, if you don’t mind an interjection.

    The “public form of religion” and “humanity among men” were both jobs of the magistrate in the Institutes. For Calvin, the magistrate had responsibility for both tasks in the temporal realm — the administering of physical punishments.

    Meanwhile, the Church had care over the conscience and took responsibility in the spiritual realm, exercising spiritual discipline.

    TF is pointing out that this delegation of roles in Calvin is in sharp contrast to the 2K delegation of roles for Dr. Hart and friends. I’ve argued the same, but Dr. Hart is still trying to convince me that he and Calvin are closer than meets the eye, so I’ll let him make the case instead of foreclosing that issue.

    At this point, my largest objection is the same as TF’s. Calvin wants magistrates to enforce the 1st Table of the Law (Inst. 4.20.9 is really pointed on this issue), but Dr. Hart does not. Can it really be said that Dr. Hart’s views reflect the original Calvinic views, with only an incidental difference? Surely a larger difference must be under the surface.

    But again, Dr. Hart thinks I’ve made too much of this, and he’s a bright guy, so take my comments with a grain of salt.

    Jeff Cagle

  533. Ron said,

    April 15, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    Matthew, theonomy does not imply “exhaustive detail” as you say. For instance, the equity of putting someone to death is not bound up in stones being thrown; so stones can be substituted for other means. Moreover, a fence around roof tops is not what theonomists would argue for but the equity might suggest fences around ditches and pools.

    Ron

  534. Zrim said,

    April 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Ron,

    Cute. But the point is that the NT never even addresses the magistrate concerning how to carry out his duties. If he is addressed at all it is to repent and believe. The addressees are the people of God (which may or may not include the magistrate). Your question is moot.

    Anyway, what’s wrong with requiring a thief to get work? From what I understand of the nature of thieves, who are opposed to all forms of legitimate enterprise, that burden might be better than having tax-payers provide three squares a day, as it were.

  535. Ron said,

    April 15, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Zrim,

    If “the NT never even addresses the magistrate concerning how to carry out his duties” then a Reformed understanding of Scripture is that we then look to the OT for the equity. That’s theonomy.

    Nothing is “wrong with requiring a thief to get work” but does God have an opinion on the penalty for thieves and if so, where might we get that revelation?

    As for your view of tax payers and thieves, I’m sure the OT gives no intention toward rehabilitation at the expense of the people.

    Ron

  536. Matthew said,

    April 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Dear Ron,

    Thank you for that correction. I take your point that “Theonomy” does not imply “exhaustive detail” in those ways. “Exhaustive detail” was the phrase that leapt to mind; perhaps there is a better way of putting it.

    Nevertheless, is not the difference between us the difference between those who say that Ex. 21:15 and 21:17 (for example) apply “as is” under the New Covenant, and those who say that the civil magistrate’s application of the death penalty to the cursing child is out of accord with “general equity”, and, therefore, out of bounds for the New Covenant era?

    Is there better way of expressing that difference?

    Your brother in Christ,

    Matthew

  537. David Gadbois said,

    April 15, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    Matthew, no need to apologize. It was Bahnsen who described theonomy as upholding ‘the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail’. Ron can hardly blame anyone for representing theonomy in such a way.

  538. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Guys,

    I’ve kept up today with the reading, but been too busy to participate and reply, though I would like to on many things. I will on a couple up above in-line.

    But I would like to say that I am happy to see that the discussion seems to have turned a little more toward actual entertaining of one another’s arguments instead of talking past each other with needless disdain and ridicule. Let’s keep it real as between brethren, instead of making each other out as the anti-christ because our understanding of NT ethics differs.

    Peace,

    kazoo

  539. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 12:51 am

    DGH,

    Which leaves the question hanging, where did Paul, Jesus or the apostles instruct the church to tell the magistrate to institute the Law? If you can’t find a positive warrant, aren’t you imposing something on the Bible?

    The positive warrant that Jesus gave was in the OT. You take issue with the theonomic thesis, which really is where the debate should take place, but the theonomic thesis says that unless the NT abrogates then it is still binding. You are familiar with that concept if you are at least paedobaptist. So, the theonomist is not drawing a conclusion from silence. There is still consistency here on the part of the theonomist. And just to trump the objection I’ll deal with it now. It is the substance of the law, be it the general precept such as found in the Decalogue or a specific illustration such as found in the case laws, that is still binding if not abrogated. And yes, there is plenty of theonomic scriptural exegesis to support that (Theonomy in Christian Ethics is over 600 pages. I’m sure there is a limit to how much can go into one comment here.)

    Second, if the magistrate is supposed to institute the Law, doesn’t that mean that you favor a state church? (I’m not trying to bait you. I’m just curious how far you’re willing to go with your “fallacious,” “silly,” “strawman” argument? How do you like those adjectives now?)

    I get a warm chuckle feeling like this is playful banter between brothers. I hope that is so. I understand that nobody likes to have their reasoning picked apart and any fallacious argumentation brought to light. Especially if one is a doctor interacting with a laymen. I am always open to correction with the substance and form of my arguments. I don’t want to be guilt of any type of fallacy, be it formal or informal. Hopefully though, I won’t follow suit and just argue that fallacious reasoning is okay because .

    Me: You’re arguing from silence. That’s a fallacy so your premise doesn’t follow.

    You: I’m arguing from silence, sure. But it’s okay because the premise really does follow. Aristotle must have been wrong.

    Me: LOL.

    Regarding the state church debate: I would need a definition. I don’t favor erastianism, nor do I favor the opposite. But when you say church in this context, are you saying a particular local church? Denomination? Then NO! I don’t favor such. If you mean do I favor the state confessing and protecting Christianity, then yes. But only so far as God has given the state authority. Think the original Westminster Standards, and you have my view.

    kazoo

  540. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:15 am

    Joe,

    Thanks for you input up above. Replying inline doesn’t seem to place my comments correctly, so I’m replying here at the bottom.

    I am not going to go paragraph by paragraph, like I usually like to do. I just can’t spend the time necessary to engage thoroughly enough. (It’s almost midnight).

    Anyway, this is regarding your paragraph ending that “this implication does not seem to follow.” All crime is sin, but not all sin is crime (a sin to be adjudicated by the state). Keeping that in mind makes a difference when discussing these things. The magistrate, even in Israel, only judged certain sins, e.g. crimes. Witnesses had to be able to testify.

    Regarding Romans 1 & 2, I recognize that the list of heinous sins is not a list of crimes, and therefore the worthy of death statement isn’t talking about the civil courts. I may have misspoken up above. To clarify, I meant to merely point out that “disobedience to parents” is obviously very heinous to be included in that long list of sin which is post-cross.

    I find your discussion of land and holy proximity to be intriguing. It might be worth some further inquiry to me. I’d like to see how you might support this from the scripture.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Some of the best non-theonomic I’ve seen here yet (except for maybe Timothy, but I have yet to actually read through his comments).

    kazoo

  541. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Tim,

    Thank you for pointing this out, and thank you for sending me the draft. I guess now you can count two people responded to you. :)

    Have you also listened to a lot of Bahsen’s audio on Theonomy? I ask because there is a lot of good supplementation in his audio to what he does and doesn’t believe.

    One audio that I think does a fantastic job at explaining the basic principle of theonomy’s view on the laws is called: “Social Ethics and the Wesminster Confession of Faith,” found here: http://www.cmfnow.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=3165

    He reads from many highly influential Puritans that were writing before or during the Westminster Assembly to help shed some light on the vocabulary they used in the confession. There is much more there too. My offer to Zrim and DGH to reimburse them for a Bahnsen audio is extended to this one too.

    Kazoo

  542. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Z,

    I have to say that I am in agreement with the spirit of what you write here. To glory in the punishment due to and doled out to a convicted criminal is not a good thing, in my opinion. It is a sober occasion and we should mourn.

    Also, I once had one of the elders at my church express disappointment in me for representing the law in such a negative way. He is no theonomist, and couldn’t stand Bahnsen. But he isn’t a W2K guy either. Be that as it may, he wanted to point out like the psalmist how wonderful and delightful God’s law is. I agree, and sometimes wish we could talk more on the positive than the negative, wrt to God’s law.

    kazoo

  543. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:54 am

    Z,

    in response to your April 15, 2009 8:00am comment (my time at least):

    I think that what I say “it is finished” means is pretty close to the same thing that theonomy says. There are many chapters in Bahnsen’s book dealing with this question. Theonomy doesn’t negate Christ’s work one bit in the same way that the Larger Catechism doesn’t negate it when it exposits the ten commandments.

    I understand. But sometimes logic works, sometimes it doesn’t: there’s at once a fine line and wide difference between saying “there’s no law to break” and “all was fulfilled.” Laws get broken all the time, and they should be punished. But if you think that is the point of the Bible there seems no greater example of missing forest for trees.

    Logic always works. We might not have capacity to discover the truth all the time, but logic, by its very nature, works. God never contradicts Himself. That would be against His nature. He is not a man that He should lie. Therefore, doctrine can be learned from His word either explicitly or by “good and necessary inference,” i.e. deductive logic. Don’t be so ready to throw logic away. Logic is Rational thought is right thinking. The lack of logic is wrong thinking. Now there is a dichotomy for you. Maybe I just committed the fallacy, huh?

    I DON’T think that the point of the Bible (as if there is ONLY one point) is that broken laws should get punished [by the civil magistrate]. So, I must not be missing the forest. However:

    Westminster Larger Catechism
    Q. 5. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
    A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

    The whole of scripture does teach what duty God requires of man. Fathers, Husbands, Merchants, Magistrates, and many other classes of men. I wonder why the divines chose the word “man” instead of “Christian?”

    The rest of your comment is just getting repetitive. But I am still curious how theonomists sleep at night knowing they are members of earthly jurisdictions that don’t follow OT law per their understanding. And how do they deal with being members of spiritual jurisdictions that don’t either. Paul’s dealing with Corinth by merely expelling the immoral brother instead of stoning him must give you absolute fits.

    Yeah, you really don’t know theonomy that well, do you? Oh well. It’s not the lack of OT law that is bothersome to theonomists, just the improper diminishing of God’s law.

    Matthew 5:19
    19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    We’re in that kingdom now, right? I assume you’ll say yes, which means that you probably want to say that you keep these laws in Christ and that was Christ’s intention in this teaching. Okay. I disagree.

    kazoo

  544. dgh said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Ron, you wrote, “. . . I suppose that’s mere conjecture on my part.” Ya think?!? You take my remarks to mean I hate, disdain and am disgusted by God’s law, simply because I disagree with a theonomic interpretation of the OT and its abiding relevance. I thought the 9th commandment was one of the laws. But I don’t recognize in your depiction of my views any attempt to maintain and promote my good name.

    But this is only a specific example of the kind of contempt and rush to judgment that so often characterizes defenders of theonomy (and I guess makes them completely oblivious to how they sound – say, by talking openly as certain Muslims do about the execution of youth) If I disagree with you or Bret on public schooling or ways to combat abortion, I am a heretic, liberal, a disdainer of God’s law.

    I guess I could be heard to be saying you guys aren’t nice. I don’t care about niceness and think its highly overrated. But why disagree in such an uncharitable and disagreeable way. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see me after these exchanges (or I you)? Do you really want to come across in a way that sends someone, a member of the same communion, running in the other direction? But you seem to think that because you have the law on your side, your personal affect doesn’t matter at all, and you can be judge, jury and executioner.

    Let me state, I believe the law is good and reveals God’s holy will and justice. But your asking me to “relish” it goes beyond even the WCF. I’m perfectly content with the way the WCF describes the law in chs.19 and 20. I don’t think you can find anything in what I’ve written that suggests I do not agree with the WCF. That’s because the WCF doesn’t require me to do cartwheels when I hear the decalogue read.

    I also am not a libertine. I believe civil society requires laws and their enforcement. Heck, I vote against candidates that coddle criminals.

    But that’s a different point from whether the OT or the NT is the norm for magistrates who are not in covenant with God. Moses didn’t go around complaining about Egyptian public schools or reproductive rights. He was concerned about the covenant community. I too am concerned about the covenant community. That body is the New Israel, the church. Her powers are spiritual and ministerial, not physical and political. The OPC book of church order says as much.

    And from Paul’s example I do find a concrete example that bears no similarity to your approach to the magistrate or to wayward Christians. That may not end the matter. But if you have a problem with me, you may also have a problem with Paul. (How do you like me now?)

  545. dgh said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:07 am

    So Jeff and TFan, if you agree with Calvin, do you think the United States or any one of the individual states should shut down Mormon and Roman Catholic houses of worship (not to mention Vineyard churches)? Agree with Calvin all you want, but at some point Calvin turns on you and where you live.

  546. dgh said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:09 am

    You didn’t answer the question. How do you interpret Calvin’s comments? I get it how you interpret mine.

  547. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:14 am

    You know well that I *don’t* agree with Calvin on this.

  548. April 16, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Dr. Hart,

    Ron simply asked if you ever thought the Law was administered in wisdom and glory. He did not adjure you to relish it. Those words were Zrim’s interpretation of Ron’s post.

    What is difficult in affirming that God’s aministration of His justice in the penalties of the Mosaic Law is both wise and glorious?

    To quote Ron:

    “Let us hear you say, even once, that you think it was wise and glorious that such laws, (which you now seem to find so contemptuous for this age), were on the books for a season. Tell us that you see that in Moses’ time it was beautiful, wise, loving and glorious to put a witch, rapist or incorrigible youth to death.”

    It seems a rather simple request to me.

  549. dgh said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Then doesn’t that mean that you are functionally 2k?

  550. Zrim said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Ron,

    If “the NT never even addresses the magistrate concerning how to carry out his duties” then a Reformed understanding of Scripture is that we then look to the OT for the equity. That’s theonomy.

    Yes, I ‘m aware. The problem, Ron, is that I don’t know why theonomy thinks we have to crane backwards in the first place to figure out what the magistrate shoud be doing specifically. Who said that was our charge? The Reformed understanding actually is that the NT clears up OT prophecy, not that the OT clears up civil codes.

    And why does the magistrate get to enjoy bent rules when things are unclear? I mean, the NT seems to have something to say about deafness, yet nobody goes into the OT to resolve the tensions at Galluadet over American Sign Language or English Standard Sign Language. Harumph.

  551. April 16, 2009 at 7:35 am

    “So if it’s a confession that God’s law were wise and glorious, no problem.”

    Wise and glorious not only in their expression, but also in their faithful execution?

  552. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 16, 2009 at 9:32 am

    DGH

    If you have read any of my previous posts on this thread you will know that I am no fan of Bahnsen’s version of Theonomy. That said, I must inform you that your statement that “the horror of someone who sees an OT law upheld as appropriate in any dispensation, even after Christ” places you at odds with the WCF 19:4 which informs us that the general equity of sundry judicial laws “may require”. While the WA knew that the Mosaic laws had been given to regulate obligations o both parties to the Divine Israel covenant of Mt. Sinai, the divines never for a moment presumed that all of them were inappropriate “in any dispensation, even after Christ”. The Divines own testimony (in the prooftexts to the WCF to say nothing of their writings elsewhere is incontestible proof that the Divines believed that many particlar Mosaic judicials remain valid for states in the New Covenant era.
    If the change in covenant relationships between God and the state does not impact the sitz in leben that the law addresses (as is clearly true for many, and perhaps all, second table situations, then the biblical laws remain righteous responses to those situations whether they occured under Sinai or the New Covenant, and the punishments (or others of equivalent equity) assigned for breaches of those statutes, remain just for the state to institute in the present age.

    How the church relates with the state in a situation where a majority of voting citizens are Christians needs further thought. But that is another matter than the justice of Mosaic stipulations today.

  553. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 16, 2009 at 9:41 am

    Thanks K, I hadn’t seen that link. Do you know if it adds anything material to the following papers?:

    “The Theonomic Thesis in Confessional and Historical Perspective,” 1980 http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe144.htm

    or “The Westminster Assembly and the Equity of the Judicial Law” Penpoint Vol. IV:7 (October 1993)
    http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe170.htm

  554. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 16, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Matthew and Ron

    The phrase “the abiding validiy of the law in exhaustive detail” is Bahnsen’s own chapter heading for the chapter in Theonomy in Christian ethics in which he attempts to prove that Christ, in Matt. 5:17,18, was carrying over into the New Covenant the general principle that all Mosaic stipulations, down to the least detail, remain valid unless implicitly or explicitly amended by the Lawgiver.
    From Bahnsen’s perspective, since the Lawgiver has not explicitly amended any Mosaic judicial in the NT (he denied that Christ amended the divorce laws) nor can any individual Mosaic judicial be shown to be aboloshed as a GNC deduction from any NT statement, (on any grounds aside from the change in covenants, which possiblility Bahnsen specifically rejected), the necessary consequence is that those who follow Bahnsen’s version of Theonomy will inevitably find themselves committed, in practice, to the assumption that all Mosaic judicials will apply today in every detail.

  555. TurretinFan said,

    April 16, 2009 at 10:24 am

    a) Even if Jeff and I also differ from Calvin, that doesn’t place you in agreement with Calvin. My main objection is that you seek to grab Calvin’s cloak as though your position were “just as Calvin taught,” which it most certainly is not. My exhortation to you, and the main reason you are hearing objections from me, is that you are misleading folks with this claim of continuity with Calvin.

    b) In fact, there are places where I would (or at least I think I would) disagree with Calvin, such as over the amount of weight that we give to the particular punishments assigned under the Mosaic law.

    c) But as to the idea of closing (or converting to good use) mosques, Mormon temples, and Romanist cathedrals, I fully agree with Calvin, while you (it would seem) would be embarrassed to have Calvin speak on the topic at your church or to a group of your neighbors.

    d) Assuming my disagreements with some of the fine points of Calvin’s teaching are what I think they are, while I’d disagree with his exegesis of a few things, I’d certainly suffer no embarrassment from having him come speak at my church etc. because he and I have essentially the same world view.

    -TurretinFan

  556. dgh said,

    April 16, 2009 at 10:38 am

    Tim Cunningham: I take your point. I’m actually not sure what I was trying to say in the phrase you quoted, other than that the coming of Christ throws a wrench into applying OT law after his ascension. Perhaps my brain and fingers were thrown off by the mention of executing children.

  557. TurretinFan said,

    April 16, 2009 at 10:39 am

    a) You didn’t ask a question the first time.

    b) You are creating an appearance of trying to dodge the fact that you disagree with Calvin on the very issue with which you disagree with me.

    c) My point in the comment above was to exhort you to stop trying to pass off your theology as being “just as Calvin taught” when (in fact) it is not.

    d) As for my interpretation of Calvin’s comments, I’m not sure whether there is anything particularly unclear that requires explication. Calvin acknowledged that there are temporal and heavenly things and properly distinguished them. Calvin also acknowledged that laws over human affairs are (unlike the laws of physics) written on men’s hearts, such that all nations have laws, etc. Additionally, in an unrelated section, Calvin addresses the fact that we should not be troubled by our earthly estate, since it will not reflect on our heavenly estate. After all, although the Jews expected an earthly Messiah, Jesus is not that kind of Messiah, but an heavenly one.

    d) In short, the distinction between heavenly and earthly things in Calvin is not troubling at all to me. I am just a pilgrim on this earth and seek for a city that has a foundation whose ruler and maker is God.

    -TurretinFan

  558. dgh said,

    April 16, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Tfan: how many times does one have to say that the USA is different from Geneva? I’ve admitted that many times, I’ve claimed to stand in line with the American revisions of the WCF, and I’ve admitted that the state-church system of Geneva is something with which I would disagree, as well as the 1789 revisions of WCF.

    So where exactly have I claimed to have swallowed the spirit of Calvin, feathers and all.

    Meanwhile, your felicitious appropriation of Mormon temples and Roman Catholic parishes for “good use” is not exactly what the OT law would have done with idolaters and blasphemers.

    Again, I suspect that you like most theonomists are temperamentally and md methodologically 2k. But instead of purging the leaven from the body politic of blasphemers and idolaters, you beat up on those who try to work out a theory for your temperamental and methodological position.

    The thanks we get.

  559. Zrim said,

    April 16, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Kazooless (I hope you find your mouth organ soon, but you’d fit right into some congregations that don’t employ instruments),

    Logic always works…Don’t be so ready to throw logic away.

    But the covenant of works makes just so much sense (it’s logical). We were made to justify ourselves, to fulfill law, to win the favor of God. Having someone else do it for us makes no sense. The gospel demands we know when logic works and when it doesn’t. Since theonomy is a theology of glory (intuitive) it has a hard time grasping a theology of the cross (counter-intuitive). Your possession with logic makes, well, sense.

    I DON’T think that the point of the Bible (as if there is ONLY one point) is that broken laws should get punished [by the civil magistrate]. So, I must not be missing the forest.

    First, you have to be able to summarize the Bible in a succinct way and say what its main idea is. Second, again, if you don’t think the point is about how broken laws should be punished by the civil magistrate (and presumably is about the how God has saved his people) then your theonomy is getting in the way of your confession. Third, you are missing the distinction I am making between you and your theonomy.

    Matthew 5:19
    19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
    We’re in that kingdom now, right? I assume you’ll say yes, which means that you probably want to say that you keep these laws in Christ and that was Christ’s intention in this teaching. Okay. I disagree.

    As pilgrims and exiles, we have citizenship in both kingdoms. We are at once sinful and justified, which means we both keep and break the commandments.

  560. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 16, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    It turns out I have that mp3. One key problem with Bahnsen’s presentation is that his moral/restorative subclassification of God’s law conceals a real problem of equivocation in terms when the term “moral law is used”.

    Bahnsen correctly points out that the decalogue is eternal. But when he incorporates the Mosaic judicial laws into the classification moral and thus eternal, he is skipping considering a question that must be considered. The particular civil laws are God’s chosen responses to particular situations arising in a specific covenantal context. Will that civil law remain just outside that context? Bahnsen’s procedure misses this question when he asserts that both the general precept and the particular case laws both apply today.

  561. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    DGH,

    But this is only a specific example of the kind of contempt and rush to judgment that so often characterizes defenders of theonomy

    You and I, the W2K crowd and just about anybody else who engages in theological debate is guilty of this. It isn’t just a theonomy thing. And you’re right in condemning it (in all of us).

    kazoo

  562. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    z,

    But the point is that the NT never even addresses the magistrate concerning how to carry out his duties.

    Bare Naked Assertion. If it were that obvious, there wouldn’t be almost 600 comments back and forth regarding this subject.

    How about this as a tit for tat?: “The NT never even takes away the duties assigned to a magistrate.”

    See, I can assert things as well. Problem is, both of these assertions are begging the question we’re here debating.

    Did you ever take a basic logic course or critical thinking class?

    kazoo

  563. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    But Tim,

    The rest of the book goes on to explain what he does and doesn’t mean by that ‘eye-catching’ title. He definitely makes clear that he wouldn’t expect the details of a railing around the roof or stones at an execution to continue abiding. And, he gives scriptural support for that so as to avoid a logical contradiction with his thesis.

    What say you? (I haven’t read your book draft yet)

    Thanks,

    kazoo

  564. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    z,

    First, you have to be able to summarize the Bible in a succinct way and say what its main idea is. Second, again, if you don’t think the point is about how broken laws should be punished by the civil magistrate (and presumably is about the how God has saved his people) then your theonomy is getting in the way of your confession. Third, you are missing the distinction I am making between you and your theonomy.

    1st: the admission that the Bible has a ‘main’ idea implies that there are others.

    2nd: being that there are ideas ‘other’ than the main, the existence of a second or subordinate idea doesn’t necessarily get ‘in the way’ of the others. In fact they might complement each other nicely, which is what I and many others believe theonomy does.

    3rd: I get the distinction, but it was late last night and busy during the day (this is lunch hour), and I just couldn’t exhaustively cover everything. I understand how you think that my theonomy is contrary to my confession and what you think the reformed confession is. That’s why we have this disagreement in the first place.

    The plan of redemption may not make ‘sense’ to us. It might seem ‘foolish’ to the world. But that doesn’t make it in any way a logical contradiction. You’re talking apples to my oranges. Arguments still need to be rational, or they are of no value at all.

    RPW doesn’t in my opinion require the abandonment of instruments. They are a circumstance just like the when and where we have the worship service on Sunday.

    Blessings,

    kazoo

  565. TurretinFan said,

    April 16, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    dgh asked: “So where exactly have I claimed to have swallowed the spirit of Calvin, feathers and all.”

    Answer: When you said: “I have a solution for you. It’s called 2k. It recognizes the difference between earthly and heavenly realities and helps us negotiate them, just as Calvin taught.” (emphasis supplied, though perhaps you remember this from the half-dozen or so times I’ve already brought it to your attention)

    dgh: “Meanwhile, your felicitious appropriation of Mormon temples and Roman Catholic parishes for “good use” is not exactly what the OT law would have done with idolaters and blasphemers.”

    You asked about the buildings, not the people, unless I misread you. That’s why you got the answer you got. Please don’t try to drive a wedge between me and the Bible.

    dgh: “Again, I suspect that you like most theonomists are temperamentally and md methodologically 2k. But instead of purging the leaven from the body politic of blasphemers and idolaters, you beat up on those who try to work out a theory for your temperamental and methodological position.”

    I’m not a “theonomist” the way you define the term, as I’ve already pointed out. I’m almost certainly “functionally 2k” according to the way you use that expression, which doesn’t bother me in the least.

    In fact, I’m delighted that your version of 2k is functionally (or “tempermentally” or “methodologically”) the same as what you sometimes label “theonomy.” It’s nice to know that in practice those two positions are not as far apart as some of the hostile rhetoric (from both sides) might lead one to believe.

    dgh: “The thanks we get.”

    I’ve not been complaining about you working out theories. I’ve been complaining about you suggesting that your views are “just as Calvin taught,” when they plainly are not.

    I trust that is resolved in view of your “swallowing the spirit of Calvin” remark above, which seems to step back from your earlier and more radical claim. If so, then I’m done criticizing your comments, since my aim was to correct that misstatement of fact, not to convince you to abandon your distaste for the Mosaic sanctions.

    -TurretinFan

  566. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    I’ll need to go re-read those articles you link to to answer your question above. I find that there is a lot of nuance in the audio’s that you just can’t pick up in his writings (for the most part).

    Will that civil law remain just outside that context? Bahnsen’s procedure misses this question when he asserts that both the general precept and the particular case laws both apply today.

    I will have to take time with your argument later (tonight maybe), but on the face of it, I question your wording of him saying that the particular case laws apply. You might be spot on in what you mean by that statement, but in writing a lot of detail can be missing. I heard him stressing the point in that mp3 that even the “particular case laws” apply ONLY in the substance of them, or the ‘marrow’ as he quoted Thomas Cartwright. So in a sense, he’s saying that it is just because it is an illustration of the general precept and we don’t put fences on our roofs anymore being that our body politic is not the expired one of Israel anymore.

    I’ll wrestle a little more later.

    kazoo

  567. Tim Cunningham said,

    April 16, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I am aware that Bahnsen attempts to qualify his eye catching title. Unfortunately, if his exegesis of Matt 5:18 is correct, Christ’s words really don’t admit of any qualification: every last point of the Mosaic law must last until the end of the church age, or Christ has replied to the actual or anticipated charge of his enemies with an untruth.

    (PS I don’t think B’s exegesis of this verse is correct).

    Not quite. Neither Bahnsen nor I expect goverments to legislate railings on sloping roofs that are never used socially, but both Bahnsen and I would rightly expect that today’s governments would justly legislating railings around flat roofs that are so used. I live in and have so used the roof of just such a building, and there are at least two more within eyesight and I hope the building code provides for safety railings or equivalent, which the contractor has provided in our case.

    Since changing the method of execution does not change the equity of the punishment the criminal receives when he or she is executed, this variance of Bahnsen’s from strict biblical law is not really a substantive objection to the point that he never challenges either the contemporary validity of a Mosaic crime or equity of a Mosaic punishment, which is what is at issue in the debate.

  568. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 16, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Hmm… so Calvin was 2K like you are 2K, but if I disagree with Calvin, then I’m functionally 2K?

    I’m so confused. :)

    Perhaps it would help if I knew what you meant by “functionally 2K.”

    Jeff Cagle

  569. Zrim said,

    April 16, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Kazoo,

    The instrument-name thing was a joke. I’d explain the logic of a joke but that would take all the humor away, and I hate that (another example of logic not working).

    The arguments on both sides are rational, Kazoo. It’s just that we each have different presuppositions. The points about counter/intuition, for example, are broader, more intrepretive ones.

    And at some point these discussions move from pure academics where proper arguments are put on the table, everyone takes what he agrees with (gasp!, I know), then the fun begins. I say yours is Reformed religious right or Calvinism’s version of Methodism and you get to charge antinomianism, liberalism and Lutheranism. The difference is that I’m right and you’re wrong. See, fun.

  570. Zrim said,

    April 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Jeff,

    If I might, I think what it means is that if you’re not trying to keep Christendom alive you’re living like a 2ker (the way it’s understood over here on this side of the table). If what you are doing is living quietly, minding your own business and working with your hands instead of canvassing for National 10 Commandments Day, as it were, and if you are daily maintaining way more than you are transforming then you may be living more of a secular faith than your soft theonomy (i.e. transformationalism) wants to admit.

  571. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Yes, that was fun. I laughed pretty good on the first paragraph. :)

    Believe it or not, I don’t charge you with antinomianism or liberalism. Maybe Lutheranism, but even that would be in a good light.

    You’re my reformed brother and you confess to the same doctrines as I do (i forget whether you’re continental or English, but they’re the same). I take that to mean that you even live your life within the bounds of that system of doctrine and you believe much of the same things as I do. When our ethical glasses are put on, then we very much disagree, mostly in the ‘outside of the church’ realm. Overall, I think we’re closer to each other on the majority of issues, and differ on a minority. I praise God for that.

    Cheers,

    kazoo

  572. Ron said,

    April 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Matthew, I’m not sure I am getting your question. I sincerely believe it’s me, but just the same if you wouldn’t mind, please send me a post to my blog w/ an email and I’ll try to answer you upon an elaboration by you. The reason being, I probably won’t be checking back here for a while. I won’t publish your post with your email.

    Kazoo, I appreciate that you have read more than chapter headings. It’s obviously given you a much fuller understanding of Bahnsen than some others. How could it not? :)

    Zrim, you wrote: “The Reformed understanding actually is that the NT clears up OT prophecy, not that the OT clears up civil codes.” I trust you meant that the NT need not clear up the civil code. In any case, the OT code needs no cleaning up. It’s clear. The only questions are:

    If God demanded death for a certain transgression, why should we assume he requires not-death today, and how does natural law teach us that no-death is appropriate when it didn’t teach Israel that death was wrong for those transgressions? Any responses, please direct them to my blog if I’m to respond. I really am busy and I do apologize.

    Daryl, there’s nothing to say to you.

    Blessings all.

    Ron

  573. Zrim said,

    April 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Ron,

    If God demanded death for a certain transgression, why should we assume he requires not-death today, and how does natural law teach us that no-death is appropriate when it didn’t teach Israel that death was wrong for those transgressions?

    I guess a drive-by comment should be met with a drive-by response: that’s the sort of $64K question both theonomy and 2K wish to answer.

    But since we’re told to go two miles instead of one, I will also say that the kind of 2K (more or less) championed here doesn’t have anything against capital punishment per se. But the OT strictures had nothing to do with the Good Society but everything to do with pointing to Jesus as their fulfillment. No protest from me against capital punishment for capital crimes. While my daughter’s mouthing off may tempt me to pick up a stone, as well as my wife’s wondering eye, I’m good with either admonishment (daughter) or divorce (wife). When was the last time you put your money where your mouth is and had an adulterer in your midst put to death?

  574. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Hmmm, I WONDER….

    how is that an EYE can WONDER? I don’t think there are any laws against that, so divorce is not warranted. ;)

    I know this may spark some vitriol here, but I would absolutely vote yes for laws that brought the death penalty back for adultery. Of course the usual qualifications apply here. It would have to be a justly proven conviction of adultery by the mouth of two or three witnesses, and other “due processes.”

    k

  575. kazooless said,

    April 16, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Daryl, there’s nothing to say to you.

    Not even “Bless you?”

    :)

    k

  576. ReformedSinner said,

    April 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Yes, forget about grace and mercy. Jesus should of choke that woman to death when he had the chance at the well.

  577. ReformedSinner said,

    April 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Nathan should of struck down David as well… just saying. Sorry kazooless wasn’t there to remind them of the just thing to do under the Law.

  578. Colin said,

    April 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    I can’t understand how there can be SO much misrepresentation of theonomy after so many years of it being available to readers. The same misguided arguments against straw men instead of theonomy continually pop up, instead of real debate. THAT is what is a shame.

    Kazoo,

    Its easier understand it better when you compare such misrepresentations to the ongoing misrepresentation of 5 point Calvinism by Arminians. Both Arminians and anti-Theonomists engage in similar style fallacious argumentation against their respective theological rivals.

    Dave Hunt is one modern example of a critic who seriously misrepresents both Calvin and Calvinism (cf. Whatever Happened to Heaven? and What Love Is This?.

    Likewise, most anti-Theonomists have treated Theonomy and Theonomic writers the same way that naive Arminians have historically treated Calvinism and Calvinists.

    Now 5 point Calvinism (AKA the sovereignty of God in salvation) has been around in its present form for almost 400 years since Dordt (or 500 years if you go back to Calvin and Beza). So despite almost 500 years of published defenses of the doctrines of sovereign grace, many Arminians still misrepresent Calvin and Calvinism despite “after so many years of it being available to readers”.

    So should we be any more surprised when the sovereignty of God in ethics AKA Theonomy is similarly treated by critics?

    I believe the real shame lies in the sad fact that much of the misrepresentation of Theonomy is coming from those within the Reformed camp (e.g. Meredith Kline in 1978, and the book symposium against Theonomy by Westminster Seminary in 1990). The very ones who ought to know better, and the very ones whose puritan forefathers had held a much higher view of the moral and judicials laws of God for society than their self professed offspring do today.

    So if you have ever been in a debate over Calvinism, or have read any published critique of Calvinism, you will quickly notice how most anti-Theonomists have unwittingly borrowed the “playbook” from the Arminians. There is nothing new under the sun.

    Also remember what Dr. Bahnsen wrote way back in 1988:


    Over the last decade I have witnessed more slurs and misrepresentations of Reconstructionist thought than I have the heart or ability to count, and I am thinking here only of the remarks made by Christians in positions of leadership; elders, pastors, instructors, writers – those who bear the “greater accountability” since they lead Christ’s sheep as teachers. This has forced me as an educated believer to stand back and look more generally at what is transpiring in the Christian community as a whole with respect to its scholarly integrity. And I am heart broken…..The difficulty is magnified many times over when believers offer public, obvious evidence of their inability to treat each other’s opinions with careful accuracy….Over the last decade we have seen some extremely strong words of condemnation uttered about Reconstructionist theology. Those condemnatory words, however, have repeatedly proven to be tied to gross misrepresentations of the Reconstructionist perspective. When those counterfeit portrayals are laid aside, the cautious student will find that not one substantial line of refutation or criticism has been established against the fundamental distinctives of Reconstructionism – a transformational worldview embracing theonomic ethics, postmillennial eschatology, and presuppositional apologetics. These theological underpinnings can be shown to be sound and reliable.

    –Foreword to The Debate Over Christian Reconstruction

  579. Colin said,

    April 17, 2009 at 12:12 am

    Tim wrote:

    Unfortunately, if his [Bahnsen's] exegesis of Matt 5:18 is correct, Christ’s words really don’t admit of any qualification: every last point of the Mosaic law must last until the end of the church age.

    Bahnsen’s exegesis is correct since there is no qualification in Jesus’s words in Matt 5:18. Hence, you were partially incorrect when you earlier wrote:

    [Bahnsen] attempts to prove that Christ, in Matt. 5:17,18, was carrying over into the New Covenant the general principle that all Mosaic stipulations, down to the least detail, remain valid unless implicitly or explicitly amended by the Lawgiver.

    Your error was where you added the qualification or Divine amendment to Bahnsen’s interpretation of Matt 5:17,18. Such qualification is not taught in those particular passages. Any qualification to the reformed view of OT law continuity must be found elsewhere in the NT.

    The main point of Bahnsen’s view of Matt 5:17,18 is that Jesus’s words point to a hermeneutical presumption of continuity of OT law and not to any presumption of abrogation.

    So its premature to discuss or mention OT continuity qualifiers in Matt 5;17,18 when that is not even part of Jesus’s topic at that point.

    Dr. Bahnsen put it this way:

    The appropriateness of theonomists summarizing or generalizing their thesis that the entire law continues to be binding in the New Covenant, yet not immediately adding the qualifications, is nowhere more strikingly obvious and grandly sanctified than in the words of our Lord Jesus Himself. He is the one who categorically asserted the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail, without at that point explaining the presumptive sense of His words or the exceptions to the generalization given. (To gain the fuller interpretation, we must go to other texts.)

    –In Defense of Theonomy.

    http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe141.htm

    So once again, Tim shows that he greatly misunderstands both Bahnsen and Theonomy. This is why Tim’s strawman version of Theonomy (e.g. “no amendments to any Mosaic judicials”, and “all Mosaic judicials will apply today in every detail”) falls flat. Bahnsen explicitly refuted this strawman in his 1994 reply to John Robbins:


    Theonomic ethics has never held, contrary to the distorted portrayal given by Robbins (an inaccurate view brought to my books, not taken from them), that no changes in the Old Testament laws are allowed today. Anyone who is willing to read general statements in context – a fundamental rule of hermeneutics – knows better than to try to pin such a bizarre, unqualified, and erroneous interpretation upon me…….The general expression which I have used, “the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail,” actually comes from the mouth of our Lord Himself, who stated categorically that He did not come to abrogate the law, but until heaven and earth pass away, “not one jot or tittle” – indeed not “the least commandment – will pass away (Matt. 5:17-19). All faithful theologians must come to grips with the absoluteness of Christ’s own declaration – as well as with the qualifications which the Lord Himself expresses elsewhere in Scripture.


    Maybe theonomic ethics is mistaken, but the way in which it handles the absoluteness of Christ’s declaration of the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail is to interpret it as laying down the theological presumption which we should bring to every Old Testament commandment. Our operating assumption is that the law declared by God in the Old Testament continues to be binding until and unless the Lawgiver Himself tells us otherwise (e.g., Acts 10 regarding unclean meats). The general statement of Jesus is subject to qualifications Scripture announces elsewhere. But apart from such biblical qualifications, we as readers of God’s word have no prerogative to alter the law. Is that so unreasonable really? If non-theonomists have a better solution, I have yet to see it.


    –Greg Bahnsen Replies to John Robbins (1994)

    http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pe105.htm

    Tim also asserts a wicked false dichotomy by pitting Bahnsen’s interpretation of Matt 5:18 (or rather Tim’s interpretation of Bahnsen on Matt 5:18) against the alternative of calling Jesus a liar.

    I think the real problem lies with Tim’s unfortunate misinterpretation of Bahnsen here, along with Tim’s obvious obsession with trying to unsuccessfully discredit Dr. Bahnsen at every opportunity, just like John Robbins tried to do with Van Til. History repeats itself.

  580. dgh said,

    April 17, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Tfan: thanks for clearing that up. I’m not Calvin. I could have saved you time and energy on that one.

    But I suspect that you’re doing more than objecting to my not being Calvin. At the same time, I can’t figure out where you stand. You don’t like 2k and you join the theonomists in critiicizing 2k. But then you say you’re not a theonomist and admit that you are functionally 2k.

    Dude, way to take a stand.

  581. TurretinFan said,

    April 17, 2009 at 7:38 am

    “Dude, way to take a stand.”

    I’ve taken a stand in various posts on my own blog. At some point I need to organize it all, at which point it will, perhaps become more clear where I stand. I am thankful, though, that we can end this discussion amicably.

  582. Zrim said,

    April 17, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Kazoo,

    …I would absolutely vote yes for laws that brought the death penalty back for adultery.

    Vote? But if anything Scripture teaches monarchy, not democracy. You’ve got bigger fish to fry before cooking adulterers. Don’t look now, Kazoo, but you’re more functional 2K than you may think.

    Plus, what Reformed Sinner said.

  583. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Except for both of these were instances of a prophet acting as prophet, not as a magistrate. Nathan had no authority to stike down David–the prophet’s job is not to wield the sword, but to proclaim the Word of God. Where under the law does it tell the prophets to do any striking at all?

    So, I’m not clear how these points apply against theonomy. The church has a peculiar calling to preach God’s mercy and grace to everyone, even those who have been condemned by the civil authority. But the question is: “who should be condemned by the civil authority, and to what punishment?” This is what theonomy seeks to answer.

  584. Joe Brancaleone said,

    April 17, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Hi Kazoo,

    Thanks for explaining further about sin and crime. It is true that even in Israel not all sin was judged as crimes. Of course that was not due to the lack of seriousness of sin before God, but that a well ordered society of sinners must to some degree function and flourish in the land despite their sin, so that God’s gracious promises may be carried out in history. Just like with Adam and Eve after the fall, they actually deserved immediate death and eternal absolute separation from God, but in giving them to exile and a lesser judgment the promise of grace was able to take root in history.

    As for the land and holy proximity concept, I’m still myself working through all the implications, but here are some things I’ve been chewing on.

    There are a lot of OT verses that could be cited and discussed, but one interesting passage is the one often cited by theonomists themselves. Deut. 4:6-8, concerning Israel’s law keeping as a witness before her neighbors:

    “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ *For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us*, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?” (Deut. 4:6-8)

    What I find interesting is that the witness of the greatness of this nation, manifest wisdom of such a law given to them, is inseparably connected to the phenomenal condition that no other nation has the Lord God so near to his people, whenever they call upon him.

    Note then that the law giving and law keeping goes hand in hand with this sort of ongoing, special revelation. The law, in all its wise comprehensive ordering of Israel’s life, was given and functioned the way it did because God was literally speaking to these people, responding to their calling upon him, and intimately disciplining this nation through both its legislation and ongoing divine activity.

    I think it’s plain from the OT’s historical record that it was not enough for human judges and Israelite courts and kings to enforce and execute this law throughout the land. The Lord himself had to be disciplining the people and even the leaders of the people themselves, with various admonitions via the prophets, as well as temporal judgments via providential intervening events. In fact, the ultimate legal stipulation of judgment enforced by the Mosaic code was national exile, obviously an explicitly providential, divine intervention kind of event.

    So basically, I think its worthwhile to focus on these conditions as the proper framework in which the Mosaic legislation makes sense in any attempt to adopt it. It’s no surprise why God would be so intimately involved in the life of Israel in the land like this, via the comprehensive body of legislation. God declared the land itself to be holy by virtue of its being a sanctuary to his presence. So there were all sorts of sins in that context that were not just violation against God’s law in the abstract, but in a very real way they were a striking out against the holy presence of God before whom the people collectively stood as a nation. Why else could both “moral” and “ceremonial” violations kindle the wrath of God against the people, and the “ceremonial” violations seemed to elicit especially immediate divine judgment?

    And consider how even the first commandment of the decalogue is framed by conditions between God and the people. After retelling how God had redeemed this people from bondage and brought them near to serve him, he says “You shall have no other gods *before me*” God had condescended in that time and place to dwell among this people in a manifest way, thus to sin is to sin before *him*.

    The people were meant to closely associate living in the land with living before the face of the Lord. So close in fact that they could even be told that abominable sins must not be among them by reason of such sins defiling the land itself (Lev. 18:22-25). See, it is the Lord himself legislating and ordering every detail of the life of the people in that land. Through mediators, yes, for their own protection. But all the while there was an ongoing dynamic, real interaction of YHWH experienced by the people, and the legislation was ordering their social life within that historical experience.

    Those are the conditions under which the extensive application of the Mosaic legislation makes sense. The conditions and the legislations are logically and historically bound together in context of covenant relationship. In order to justify extracting one element from that covenant relationship (its legislation) to serve as a model for another entity outside of that covenant relationship, as a matter of coherency the conditions must also hold – God must be intimately ordering the life of a people before his presence, that the land and the people may be holy as his sanctuary, that the legislation is enforced not only through courts and magistrates but prophets and special revelation and providential divine interventions (authoritatively witnessed to by prophets commissioned by the Lord).

    j

  585. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Lane, I have to confess that I’m really not clear how your argument in the post defeats theonomy. I agree with everything you say about Christ’s fulfillment of the law, and particularly his re-enactment of the history of Israel, but I still find statements like these to be non sequiturs:

    “In other words, Jesus Christ is the apex of the trajectory of Old Testament Israel, and the church is in Christ. Therefore, it does not make sense to say that modern-day governments should run themselves according to principles that were given to Old Testament Israel as Old Testament Israel.”

    It seems you’re trying to construct a disjunctive syllogism, yes?

    C v G

    where
    C=the OT law applies to the church
    G=the OT law applies to governments

    But your structure appears to be this:

    C v G
    C
    Ergo, ~G

    But a disjunctive syllogism doesn’t work like this, since the disjunction simpliciter is inclusive, not exclusive. In order for this argument to work, the premise would have to be

    (C v G) & ~(C & G)

    But the problem with this is that the second half of this compound premise is actually the conclusion you are working towards:

    “Now, presumably, many theonomists would claim that the trajectory goes from Old Testament Israel to the church and to modern-day government [i.e., C & G], whereas critics would say that modern-day governments are not included [i.e., ~(C & G)]. Let’s look at a few passages to test this.”

    And you proceed to spend a great deal of time proving C. To which the theonomist agrees, since hold the conjunction C & G entails holding the conjunct C.

    So, the argument appears to me to be circular, assuming the conclusion as part of the premise. This simply means that your argument doesn’t decide the matter as you’ve laid it out, as demonstrating that C & G is in fact false.

    Now, perhaps you intended a modus ponens:

    C=>~G
    C
    Ergo, ~G

    But the conditional premise here is equivalent to ~(C & G):
    C=>~G equals ~C v ~G by material implication,
    ~C v ~G equals ~(C & G) by DeMorgan’s theorem

    Thus, I still haven’t seen actual demonstration of ~G in any way that is not circular.

  586. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    As for the next key section of that paragraph:

    “Now, the theonomist will probably reply that the civil law of Old Testament Israel is of a piece with and is the outworking of the moral law given in the Ten Commandments. True, it is.”

    Well, I’m glad we agree on that.

    “But it is an outworking of the Ten Commandments for a particular place and people.”

    I’m not sure what this is intended to prove, since the theonomist would agree. Because these were a specific outworking, they provide concrete examples of how the more general laws were applied, and specifically what sorts of sanctions were just, at least in a given situation. Thus, their being more specific actually makes them helpful in interpreting the broader moral law, rather than dispensible, just because they were given in a specific context. This is how case law or common law works: specific applications, although limited to particular places and parties, make clear how a general law has been understood.

    “The same principles apply in different ways in the church today.”

    Absolutely. Remember, you yourself identified theonomy as holding ~(C & G). The same principles (of the OT law) also appy in government today, in different ways–different both from OT Israel, because of historical, social, and economic context, and different from the church because of different peculiar callings.

    “After all, as the result of the biblical-theological argumentation provided above, the principles of Old Testament Israel’s civil law ought to apply to the church today (by the arguments of theonomy) just as much as to the government.”

    But that was agreed upon before! Again, you identified the theonomic position as “the trajectory goes from Old Testament Israel to the church and to modern-day government” and the critics position as “modern-day governments are not included.” Your BT argument was supposed to test this, which I thought meant something like “prove ~G correct over against (C & G).” I already explained why I didn’t find that persuasive, but now you’re saying that the BT argument proved C & G, which is still not getting at the issue!

    “And I would agree, as long as we are talking about general equity. And yet the principles in the New Testament for church government say nothing of the sword. Instead, the weapons are spiritual, for we fight not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual enemies.”

    Again, agreed. I’m not sure who this is directed against, since it would seem to be refuting the idea that the church wields the sword–but you’ve never defined theonomy in that way (and rightly so!). Rather, the question is whether and how the Mosaic law applies to the government, not how it applies to the church. But it’s not clear to me how this statement is relevant to that question.

    “Ephesians 6, by the way, is one reason why I believe the application of Old Testament Israel’s holy wars draws a straight line to spiritual warfare today in the church.”

    Again, I agree, now we’re even further from the issue, since no one, as far as I know, is arguing that the periodic holy wars are an extension or application of the moral law.

    Finally, I grant you the point about the natural law. But, as Romans 1 points out, human beings suppress that knowledge, which means that human governments and laws and by no means guaranteed to be always in accord with that natural law. That is exactly why we need the corrective lenses of special revelation to see clearly what is in accordance with the natural law and what is the product of man’s rejection of that.

  587. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 17, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I wasn’t going to here, but you’ve articulated this so clearly that some engagement seems possible.

    Let’s consider a slightly different syllogism:

    (1) Christians are no longer under the reward/penalty structure of the Law, BUT
    (2) Theonomy places all under the reward/penalty structure of the Law,
    SO THAT
    (3) Theonomy returns the Christian to being under Law, in specific contradiction to Galatians 4.

    Notice that I’ve skirted the issue of your syllogism, which is “Where will the magistrate get his norms from?” I think this is a good question; it’s just that I think the theonomist answer to the question causes the problem of putting the Christian back under the Law.

    Defense of syllogism:

    The Law was put into effect “because of transgressions” (Gal. 3.19, Rom. 5.20), in order to make manifest the penalty for sin, and to function as a tutor in order to lead people to Christ. It contained within it a system of rewards and punishments that taught through fear and type that perfect righteousness was required, but also impossible, so that the Messiah would be seen as the “promised clean seed”, the “obeying one” whose act of obedience would bring righteousness to many.

    Paul is very clear that now that Christ has come, two things occur:

    (1) Christians are no longer under the law in the sense of being subject to the written code. (Rom. 7.1-6)
    (2) We are set free to serve and indeed obey the righteous requirements of the Law through the power of the Spirit.

    None of this is denied by theonomists; we all agree that salvation is by grace through faith, and that Christians do not accumulate righteousness through law-keeping.

    But what goes unnoticed I think is that by restoring the Law as a legal code, we are placing all citizens, including Christians, under the Law. Christians are subject to the same “miserable yoke” (Acts 15.10) that pre-Christian Jews were subject to.

    In short, we return Christians to the rule of the Law as a source of rewards and punishments, which is explicitly forbidden in Gal. 4.

    Now, it might be argued that Christians now are different. Then I ask, “In what way? In what way are Christians now different from the OT saints?”

    After all, both pre- and post-Christ, salvation was by grace through faith — so the function of the Law has not changed in re salvation.

    Or that we have the Spirit in a way that the OT saints did not. And I agree with this point. And yet, it does not alter the function of the OT Law. That function was a temporal function, operating in the temporal realm in order to pre-figure Christ and to make God’s people ready for the Messiah.

    Now that He has come — does that temporal function of the Law have any place any more?

    Jeff Cagle

  588. Todd said,

    April 17, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Joe,

    Great stuff! Thanks.

    Tied to all that is that the Law and its penalties were tied into the land of Canaan in such a way that it was not even to be applied before Israel entered the land. It was indeed only the laws of Canaan. Israel had elders, stones, etc… in the wilderness those forty years, yet the theocratic, (i.e., typological) connection between the land of His Holy Presence and His theocratic law-code is so unique that Israel is instructed only to apply the Law in the Land. “I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them *in the land* that I am giving them to possess.”(Deut. 5:31) See also 6:1, 12:1.

    When God’s people were about to be exiled to Babylon, they were instructed not to seek to implement the theocratic laws there, but the instructions were much different (Jer. 29:4-7). In Canaan they were to stone idolaters, but in Babylon seek their welfare and share their culture. This has more to do than who was in power, it had to do with the holy vs. the common.

    You see this phenomena also in the dietary descriptions for Noah within the ark, which was a type of theocratic presence, where the dietary laws changed in the ark, but once out, Noah could eat unclean foods again, the dietary restrictions only returning in the Canaan theocracy.

    Todd

  589. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 17, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    I’m fascinated by the “Kline thesis” — that the Law functioned as canon for the time and place of Israel only.

    But a couple things trouble me about it.

    (1) Nations other than Israel were judged for failing to uphold the Law: Babylon, Tyre, Edom, Assyria, etc. Indeed, nations will in the future be judged for the same.

    (2) It’s true that while Israel got the 10 Commandments, surrounding Mesopotamia only got the code of Hammurabi. But it’s also true that while Israel got the full revelation of God, surrounding Mesopotamia only got the legend of Gilgamesh.

    Could it be that, now that the Gospel has come, that the Scripture as the true standard of righteousness is now explicitly binding on all nations also?

    In other words, it may be that the Kline thesis is undone by the history of redemption.

    Thoughts?

    Jeff Cagle

  590. Todd said,

    April 17, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Jeff,

    Kudos for recognizing Kline’s thesis. Can you show me where the nations were judged for not upholding Israel’s laws?

    thanks,

    Todd

  591. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Actually, it’s in the very passage Joe quoted from Leviticus: 18:24-25. Also in Deut. 18:9-12.

  592. Joshua W.D. Smith said,

    April 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    Interesting. This is a very different argument from the one Lane made in his main post, it seems, so I think my criticisms of that particular argument still stand, but you’ve given some very good food for thought. What follows is a miscellany of reflections:

    I don’t want to appear to answer this too easily, but it seems to me that the distinction between the ceremonial, judicial, and moral law goes a long way to resolving this. In Acts 15 and in Galatians, the issue is chiefly the ceremonial law, since the central issue is circumcision (Acts 15:1, Gal. 5:1-3; cf. the instigating issue of Peter’s refusal to dine with Gentiles in ch. 2 and the condemnation of the old calendar in 4:10). I’m actually of the opinion that the Law in Galatians refers chiefly to the ceremonial element of the law, which is probably controversial.

    As for Romans 7, if Paul is taken absolutely strictly, then he is doing away with the Decalogue as well, since his example is the tenth commandment (v.7). But he seems to take even the case law as still in force in some way in 1 Cor. 9:9 (as well as the decalogue, in Eph. 6). So, we have to define very carefully what it means to be under the law: just because we are obligated to follow God’s commands doesn’t mean we are “under the law” in Paul’s sense, since otherwise Eph. 6 and 1 Cor. 9:9 would stand in contradiction to Rom. 7.

    There was more than one function to the OT law. It had the pedagogical use for the covenant people, but it also had the function of testifying to God’s righteousness to the entire human race. So, the previous function, the temporal function, has passed, but that doesn’t mean that the other function has.

    I don’t suppose I’ve really done much but commented–but this the best I can do for right now.

  593. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks for the reply. I agree that the law serves several purposes Scripturally (parallel to Calvin’s 3 Uses), and I would want to affirm with you that the Christian continues to be morally obligated to the Law.

    It’s the reward/punishment aspect of the Law, which tracks with the judicial use, that is really in view for me: if the Christian is no longer under the “curse of the Law”, then is it appropriate to subject him to the threat of the Law?

    Thus, I’m reading “under the Law” as a specific phrase meaning “subject to the punishments threatened in the Law.”

    About Galatians and the ceremonial law — I’m persuaded by Gal. 3.10-14 that “the curse of the Law” is something about more substantial than the eating of shellfish or the mixing of types of cloths.

    Likewise in Romans (and in 2 Cor 3), we are set free from the punishment threatened by the Law – and thus set free to obey by the Spirit.

    Anyways, thanks for your comments.

    Jeff Cagle

  594. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 17, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Amos 1-2; Obadiah; Jonah 1.2; Nahum.

    Micah 1.2 is interesting:

    The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

    Hear, O peoples, all of you,
    listen, O earth and all who are in it,
    that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you,
    the Lord from his holy temple.

    Here, Samaria and Jerusalem are in the cross-hairs, but all earth is called onto the dock.

    Additionally, we have the judgment on Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4, at the end of which he states:

    At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
    His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.

    All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
    He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
    No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

    Here it seems clear that Nebu. acknowledges God’s sovereignty over all nations and not merely Israel.

    And following N. is the judgment on Belshazzar: “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin”, specifically delivered because Belshazzar did not honor God.

    Jeff Cagle

  595. Zrim said,

    April 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Joshua,

    You aren’t clear because you have chosen to ignore the other two offices of Jesus: priest and king. And as prophet, priest and KING, he told the adulteress to go and sin no more. It applies against theonomy because, at the very moment he in his three-fold office uttered as much, the theonomists were the ones with stones in their hands.

    And where theonomy asks “who should be punished and how,” 2k rather seeks to answer “who punishes and why.”

  596. dgh said,

    April 18, 2009 at 5:36 am

    Before the subject of Calvin and theonomy gets away, readers may want to see some of the passages that a couple of PCA pastors (who shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent) gathered to suggest that Calvin and theonomy are about as far apart as Oakland A’s and a World Series Championship. Here are some highlights:

    “…I have undertaken to say with what laws a Christian state ought to be governed, what laws can piously be used before God, and be rightly administered among men.…I would have preferred to pass over this matter in utter silence if I were not aware that here many dangerously go astray. For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.” Calvin, Institutes, IV.XX.14

    Or this:

    “The judicial law, given to them for civil government, imparted certain formulas of equity and justice, by which they might live together blamelessly and peaceably… the form of their judicial laws, although it had no other intent than how best to preserve that very love which is enjoined by God’s eternal law, had something distinct from that precept of love. Therefore, as ceremonial laws could be abrogated while piety remained safe and unharmed, so too, when these judicial laws were taken away, the perpetual duties and precepts of love could still remain.…But if this is true, surely every nation is left free to make such laws as it foresees to be profitable for itself…. they indeed vary in form but have the same purpose.” Calvin, Institutes, IV.XX.15

    And for good measure:

    “[After reviewing laws and penalties of various nations] Yet we see how, with such diversity, all laws tend to the same end. For, together with one voice, they pronounce punishment against those crimes which God’s eternal law has condemned, namely, murder, theft, adultery, and false witness. But they do not agree on the manner of punishment. Nor is this either necessary or expedient…. There are ages that demand increasingly harsh penalties…. There are nations inclined to a particular vice, unless it be most sharply repressed. How malicious and hateful toward public welfare would a man be who is offended by such diversity, which is perfectly adapted to maintain the observance of God’s law?” Calvin, Institutes, V.XX.16

  597. Reed Here said,

    April 18, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Hey! You stole my thunder :)

    I was planning a post on this, and possibly one on Calvin’s comments on natural law as well.

    To be sure, while Calvin does not enjoin the Magistrate to ignore Bibilical law, he does not track with the Theonomic principle that Biblical law is to be the substance of civil law. (And no, not ignoring general equity, 3-part structure of OT law, etc.; I just disagree with how Theonomy formulates such principles.)

  598. Todd said,

    April 18, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Jeff,

    These verses do not support the point you made earlier. No one is suggesting that God was not sovereign over the OT nations, nor judged them for sinfulness. I asked where the nations were rebuked for violating Israel’s laws; Sabbath breaking for example, or not punishing crime according to the Mosaic code.

    Todd

  599. Tim Harris said,

    April 18, 2009 at 8:47 am

    For a one-punch knockout of all this kind of Calvin quote mongering, see Chris Strevel, “Theonomic Precedent in the Theology of John Calvin,” in The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen.

  600. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 18, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Hi Todd,

    There’s a pair of dots to connect and then we’re there. “Sinfulness” *is* a want of conformity to God’s Law.

    In other words, the Law given to Israel was not separate from, but organically connected to, God’s universal standard of righteousness. It was this standard of righteousness that formed the basis of God’s judgment of Adam, and the judgments of the nations that I cited above.

    If you want to say that Israel was given much more in the way of detail and enforcement, I’ll cheerfully agree with you. But I do want to insist that the Law of God written on men’s hearts is not different in content, but rather the same as the Decalogue. WCoF 19.1-2 is to the point here.

    Once we agree to this, then it is clear that my examples support the point I made: God judged nations other than Israel for violating the Law.

    Jeff Cagle

  601. Todd said,

    April 18, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Jeff,

    By what standard did the Lord judge the Canaanites before the Law was given to Israel? Yes, the law written on their hearts at creation. This law is not to be identified one-on-one with the Decalogue, especially the sabbath command, yet we would agree the Decalogue contains the substance of the law on the conscience. I think we are both arguing against theonomy though.

    Todd

  602. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 18, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Yes, we are both arguing against theonomy.

    At the same time, I am also arguing against dividing the “Law given to Israel” from “God’s moral code.” Here’s the Confession:

    1. God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity, to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

    2. This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables: the first four commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six, our duty to man.

    3. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly, holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the new testament.

    4. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

    There is an entire continuity between the Law given at creation and the Decalogue. The command to keep the Sabbath, for example, is not local to Israel but is instead based on God’s resting after the work of Creation.

    Kline has difficulty when he says that nations outside of Israel were not judged for failing to keep the Law, or that OT Law was not canon for the nations. He cannot deny that nations were judged for sinning; so he must separate “sinning” from “breaking the Law.”

    I’m not comfortable with that. I can admit that Israel received a different administration of the Law, but not a different Law altogether.

    Jeff Cagle

  603. Todd said,

    April 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Jeff,

    I’m familiar with the Confession, thanks :-)

    Where it seems we agree, opposed to theonomy – is that the entire Mosaic law code, including all its case laws, was Land and time specific to Israel, and not the example to the Gentile nations on how they should govern also.

    Where we seem to disagree is that the Decalogue, as recorded in Ex 20 & Deut 5, *is* the moral law itself.
    You say there is exact identity, and I say there is not.
    Would that be accurate?

    Todd

  604. kazooless said,

    April 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I knew I’d be getting stuck to another tar baby by answering that question. What was I thinking!

    Reformed Sinner said:

    Yes, forget about grace and mercy. Jesus should of choke that woman to death when he had the chance at the well.

    Nathan should of struck down David as well… just saying. Sorry kazooless wasn’t there to remind them of the just thing to do under the Law.

    Zrim says:

    And as prophet, priest and KING, he told the adulteress to go and sin no more. It applies against theonomy because, at the very moment he in his three-fold office uttered as much, the theonomists were the ones with stones in their hands.

    But if anything Scripture teaches monarchy, not democracy. You’ve got bigger fish to fry before cooking adulterers.

    Reformed Sinner, you’re just like the Pharisees Jesus was referring to in the sermon on the mount. “You have heard it said, but I say to you.” Obviously you don’t know what the law of God really called for or you wouldn’t make statements that so clearly demonstrate your ignorance.

    What did Jesus do that was NOT in compliance with God’s law? Did He change God’s law in the story of the woman caught in adultery? No. He applied it. And this goes to show how the law really is full of grace and mercy. It is a reflection of God’s love and a wonderful display of God’s wisdom. The woman caught in adultery was not able to be justly prosecuted as guilty under the law of God. Why do you think Jesus said that the one without sin was to throw the first stone? (Hint: the OT law speaks to this. Look it up). Jesus “fulfilled, established, confirmed” the law of God in exhaustive detail in this situation, and in doing so was full of grace and mercy towards her. He did not in effect say “let’s ignore the law here. I am going to set a new precedent.”

    Regarding Nathan and David we have the same display of ignorance. Do you even read your OT, ReformedSinner? Exactly how could David have been convicted with due process under the law of God? Was Nathan an eye witness? Were there at least 2 eye witnesses not guilty of the crime?

    Same goes to you, Z. You are again displaying your ignorance of what the law of God under Moses really establishes. It was the anti-theonomists holding stones since they wanted to skip the details of the law that protect the innocent and provide grace and mercy to the guilty. They wanted punishment without due process.

    What you call ‘democracy’ is actually my participation in our ‘republic.’ The very idea and blueprint of our republic came from OT law. God didn’t intend for Israel to be ruled by a monarch, but by the judges under a republic at first. Go read up buddy. Then come back with something substantial.

    Next?

    kazoo

  605. Todd said,

    April 18, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Kazoo wrote, “And this goes to show how the law really is full of grace and mercy.”

    Deut. 28:15 But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

    Acts 15:10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

    III Cor 3:6b-8 For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?

    Rom 7:10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.

    Apparently someone forgot to tell Moses and the Apostles that the Law was full of grace and mercy.

  606. Colin said,

    April 18, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    A PDF file of Chris Strevel’s article on John Calvin is available from me.

    Another good source proving Calvin’s Theonomic convictions is Jack W. Sawyer’s 1986 Master’s Thesis, Moses and the Magistrate: Aspects of Calvin’s Political Theory In Contemporary Focus available from Westminster Seminary. Sawyer is currently a minister in the OPC.

    One thing that anti-Theonomists conveniently ignore about Calvin’s views on the law are his 200 Sermons on Deuteronomy , and his published defense of the execution of Michael Servetus (cf. Defense of Orthodox Faith against the Prodigious Errors of the Spaniard Michael Servetus ) , both of which argue for many OT penal laws such as the law against rebellious sons, and the law against blasphemy still being in force.

    Another thing that anti-Theonomists conveniently ignore is the fact that most Theonomists (including Greg Bahnsen) have had no disagreements at all with Calvin’s widely popular Institutes. Dr. Bahnsen even produced 81 audio lectures on expounding those Institutes. And the Chalcedon Report’s Feb 2004 issue was devoted to John Calvin and also included a positive book review of Calvin’s Institutes. So anyone trying to quote Calvin against Theonomy, is like trying to quote Calvin against Scottish Presbyterianism. It just won’t work.

    Remember that some written things on the surface might appear to oppose a particular theology, but careful examination usually proves otherwise. A famous case in point is whenever Arminians cite John 3:16 against Calvinism. Arminians think citing that and similarly anti-Calvinist appearing Bible passages, is enough to refute Calvinism.

    Likewise, anti-Theonomists think that citing Calvin’s Institutes (or citing certain NT passages like John 8:1-11, or I Cor 5) is enough to refute Theonomy. But anti-Theonomists will always fail to make their case, just as Arminians have similarly failed to make their case against Calvinism.

  607. kazooless said,

    April 18, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Two can play at that game:

    Psalm 119
    29 Remove from me the way of lying,
    And grant me Your law graciously.
    47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments,
    Which I love.
    50 This is my comfort in my affliction,
    For Your word has given me life.
    64 The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy;
    Teach me Your statutes.
    72 The law of Your mouth is better to me
    Than thousands of coins of gold and silver.
    77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live;
    For Your law is my delight.
    97 Oh, how I love Your law!
    It is my meditation all the day.
    98 You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;
    For they are ever with me.
    174 I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
             And Your law is my delight.

    Jeremiah 31
    33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

    (This is speaking of the merciful covenant of GRACE, the New Covenant, no?)

    Ezekiel 36
    27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

    Romans 7
    12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.

    22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

    Romans 8
    4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    The law is good. Sin is bad.

    Peace,

    kazoo

  608. Zrim said,

    April 18, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Kazoo,

    Reformed Sinner, you’re just like the Pharisees Jesus was referring to in the sermon on the mount…Same goes to you, Z. You are again displaying your ignorance of what the law of God under Moses really establishes.

    Let me get this straight. Here’s the scene: The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman “caught in the act of adultery” to Jesus (read: all due process took place, there is no question of her guilt). And the ones who want to stone her are the 2Kers, not the theonomists?

    Yeow. Seriously, do you all even listen to yourselves? You’re the ones who “would absolutely vote yes for laws that brought the death penalty back for adultery.” You’re the ones who are possessed with the question, “Who should be condemned by the civil authority, and to what punishment?” We’re the ones possessed with, “Who punishes (and who doesn’t) and why (and why not)?” Do you seriously want everyone here to believe that those possessed with what theonomy is possessed with are about “grace and mercy”?

    And now we have a democratic republic taught by Scripture. What’s next, free enterprise captitalism? I suppose Aristotle really was the forerunner to Christ instead John the Baptizer?

  609. dgh said,

    April 18, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    Colin and Tim, thanks for the bibliography, but why not tip your hand for the rest of us and suggest how a theonomist reconciles Calvin’s statements of a 2k variety with his apparently theonomic ones. I mean, would Bahnsen actually affirm any of the points that Calvin makes in the quotations above? If not, then why would Calvin make them? Maybe he needed medication.

  610. ReformedSinner said,

    April 18, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Not really a knockout punch, more like selective evasiveness. Everyone can quote Calvin here and there to say what they want Calvin to say. Karl Barth and Neo-orthodox anybody?

    As for Strevel’s book, yeah I’ve read it, interesting, but I was disappointed on how he too evaded passages where Calvin is “clearly” of 2K variety. It would be a wonderful book if Strevel would spend time to interact with those “tough passages” and show us the “right interpretation” or at least why those statements are made, which doesn’t effect Calvin the theonomist. But he didn’t. At the end while it’s a wonderful book for me to understand theonomist’s arguments, it does nothing to advance the dialogue of thenomist-anti-thenomist.

  611. kazooless said,

    April 19, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Z,

    The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman “caught in the act of adultery” to Jesus (read: all due process took place, there is no question of her guilt).

    You’re so sure of yourself that you didn’t go look up the case law, didn’t you? Of course not, cause if you did, you’d find out that your assumption was wrong.

    “all due process took place” is not true. I’m not going to spoon feed it to you though. If you want to stay uneducated on this matter, be my guest. Due process includes more than determining guilt. Where was the man? Who was allowed to participate in the execution? Remain in your ignorance if you will. You seem bent on it.

    k

  612. Zrim said,

    April 19, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Kazoo,

    If you’re suggesting the woman wasn’t given due process, and her guilt is at least questionable, how do you explain Jesus releasing her? If he’s so sympathetic to the theonomic cause then why didn’t he at least suggest a trial to get to the bottom of all this?

    But you have circumvented the point of my last comment you (missing forest for trees again): you want us to believe that 2K holds stones whilst theonomy seeks grace and mercy. Explain that, if you don’t mind.

  613. Todd said,

    April 19, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Kazoo,

    Quoting Scripture is not a game. If the Law was grace and mercy, why is there a curse pronounced on the Israelites if they didn’t obey all of it? How is that grace? Why does Peter say the Law was a burden none of them could bear? How is a law that gives mercy and grace too great a burden to bear? Why does Paul call the Law the “ministry of death?” Answer those and then I’ll explain your Scripture quotations.

    Todd

  614. Jeff Cagle said,

    April 19, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Let’s go one further and suggest that Calvin can be mined for both theonom