New “New, ‘Warrior Children’ Thread”

A second thread now open for the overflow from “The Resurrection of Machen’s Warrior Children.” The combox bog-down problem becomes noticeable right around 700 comments; it is definite by 800 comments. The original thread and the first additional one reached a combined total averaging just below 800 each.
Again, the topic is Two Kingdoms issues, with fire arms (and any major artillery pieces) left at home please. Thank you. (reed depace)

(Added by Paige:) Here’s a link back to a comment near the end of the OLD New WC Thread, for those of you who are still jumping back there to consider something.

632 Comments

  1. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    First post!

    Just kidding. More seriously, I dipped into Hodge (Chuck) today for his take on Natural Law. It was striking that he limits Natural Law to the workings of God’s providence.

    Whereas with ethical issues, we are speaking of God’s revealed will.

    So I wonder … just a preliminary thought, but one that I’ve wondered before … whether the proper criticism of pc-2K thinking is that it confuses God’s providence and His revealed will?

  2. February 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Perhaps a Greenbaggins Forum site is in order?

  3. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Zrim (#700 on NMWC thread): But, Neal, the problem remains which none of you seem to take up: plenty of vital differences between Spirit-indwelt-Bible-readers exist. In other words, there are Reformed Protestants and Roman Catholics.

    So your argument, if I understand, is

    (1) If “clarity” means “most people agree on its meaning”, and
    (2) Various groups of Christians do not agree on Scripture’s meaning, so
    (3) Scripture is “unclear” on (1), BUT
    (4) We know already that Scripture is sufficiently clear, so
    (5) Disagreement is not a correct measure for clarity, so that
    (6) We can’t use *disagreement on general revelation* as an argument for the unclarity of general revelation.

    Did I get that right? You sure are an implicit kind of a guy … :P

  4. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Tfan (#658 of the old new thread),

    “In order to properly understand what he’s referring to there, however, we must perforce read section III of the same question which our dear friend David R. left off, together with section II. I have already transcribed section II, and perhaps a little later I will transcribe section III.

    “Or perhaps another fan of Turretin with more available time or faster typing skills could do that for me. In any event, once it is clarified, I think you may better see what Turretin is saying, so that a simple affirmation by me would not confuse anyone.”

    Because I’m feeling generous and because my life has slowed down a bit, but mostly because I’m curious to see by what sleight of hand you’re going to make your hero over into a theonomist, here ya go. ;)

    “III. In that law [the Mosaic judicial law] various ends must be distinguished. For inasmuch as it was a distinction of the Jewish state from the Gentiles and a type of the kingdom of Christ, it is simply abrogated because there is no longer any distinction between the Jews and the Gentiles in Christ (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:14). As the Jewish state and polity has been destroyed, so there is no need of a type to adumbrate the future kingdom of Christ, since it has already come. But as to the good order or form of government of the Israelite people, it cannot be said to have been abrogated, unless relatively. Undoubtedly those things are to be accurately distinguished which in the law were of particular right (which peculiarly applied to the Jews in relation to time, place and Jewish nation: such was the law concerning a husband’s brother, the writing of divorcement, the gleaning, etc.) from those which were of common and universal right, founded upon the law of nature common to all (such as the laws concerning trials and the punishment of crimes, widows, orphans, strangers and the like, which are of moral and common right). As to the former, they may well be said to have been abrogated because the Jewish polity having been taken away, whatever had a peculiar relation to it must also necessarily have ceased. But as to the latter, it still remains because it enters into the nature of the moral and perpetual law and was commanded to the Jews not as Jews simply, but as men subject with others to the law of nature. For distinguishing those things which were of common and particular right, a threefold criterion can be employed. (1) That what prevails not only among the Jews, but also among the Gentiles (following the light of right reason) is of common right. Thus the Greeks, Romans and others had their own laws in which are many things agreeing with the divine laws (which even a comparison of the Mosaic and Roman laws alone, instituted by various persons, teaches). (2) What is found to be conformed to the precepts of the decalogue and serves to explain and conform it. This is easily gathered, if either the object and the matter of the laws or the causes of sanctioning them are attended to. (3) The things so repeated in the New Testament that their observance is commended to Christians.”

  5. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Jeff,

    “Whereas with ethical issues, we are speaking of God’s revealed will.”

    But Jeff, did you read that Calvin quote I posted toward the end of the last thread? Calvin was clearly talking about natural law as it relates to ethical issues.

  6. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Is there a tutorial somewhere on how to indent quotes, italicize, etc.?

  7. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    David R, thanks for posting that. I’m slightly confused: In (3), “The things so repeated in the New Testament …”, is that a marker of being common right or particular right?

  8. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    David R (#6): Here ya go: HTML tags. Skip on down to the examples at the bottom and look for bold, italics, and anchor.

  9. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Jeff, I believe he’s saying those things are of common right.

  10. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I found a typo. About two thirds of the way down, the sentence which begins, “For distinguishing those things which were of common and particular right …” should actually read: “For distinguishing those things which are [present tense] of common and particular right …”

  11. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    David R — are you referring to #697, the citation from Inst 2.2.13?

    Calvin’s got something complex going on (which is why we’re up to about 1100 posts now). Clearly he endorses the idea that man, made in God’s image, has a residual sense of justice.

    Clearly *also* he endorses the idea that the magistrate’s job is to enforce the decalogue.

    So …

    The pc-2k explanation is that Calvin was blinded by culture, a Constantinian assumption that *of course* the magistrate ought to support the church. Take away this assumption, and we get post-Constantinian 2k thought, a refined Calvinism.

    I’m not so sure. For one thing, Calvin seems to have been fairly self-aware of theological assumptions, and willing to examine, tackle, and accept or reject them based on their consonance with Scripture. So I’m skeptical of an argument that starts off with “Calvin had blinkers on.”

    I would suggest a different explanation: Calvin saw an essential unity between SR and GR, such that decoupling them would have been nonsensical. Inst 2.2.13 appears to me to be arguing that human nature has not been utterly obliterated by the fall; but still and all, our knowledge is still defective.

    As chief witness:

    It remains to consider the third branch of the knowledge of spiritual things, viz., the method of properly regulating the conduct … Nothing, indeed is more common, than for man to be sufficiently instructed in a right course of conduct by natural law, of which the Apostle here speaks. Let us consider, however for what end this knowledge of the law was given to men. For from this it will forthwith appear how far it can conduct them in the way of reason and truth. This is even plain from the words of Paul, if we attend to their arrangement. He had said a little before, that those who had sinned in the law will be judged by the law; and those who have sinned without the law will perish without the law. As it might seem unaccountable that the Gentiles should perish without any previous judgement, he immediately subjoins, that conscience served them instead of the law, and was therefore sufficient for their righteous condemnation. The end of the natural law, therefore, is to render man inexcusable… — Inst. 2.2.22.

    He then goes on to explain that man’s reason is defective in regard to both first and second tables of the Law, which I won’t cite for space, but is found in Inst 2.2.23 – 27.

    So we see that in contrast to DGH, who argues that general revelation is sufficient to guide our conduct, Calvin argues that it is *not*.

    But interestingly, in contrast to theonomists, Calvin’s solution in 2.2 and 2.3 is NOT that all laws need to be based on OT civil law, but that every man needs the Spirit!

    So again, Calvin has something complex going on. He sees behavioral issues as ultimately requiring a Spiritual solution, and not as much a civil one.

  12. Reed Here said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    David: look up “Html block quote formatting”. That should give you the exact process. The basic process involves:

    > To begin application: place the style command you want applied inside a left and right inequality signs (respectively over the comma and period keys on the keyboard).
    > To end the application: place the same command inside the same left/right inequalities signs, but place a forward slash (to the right of the period key, symbol below the question mark) in front of the command, directly after the left inequality sign.

    To effect a blockquote, spelled out to avoid applying it to this example, it would look like this:

    “left inequality sign” blockquote “right inequality sign” [text being quoted] “left inequality sign” /blockquote “right inequality sign”

    Replacing the spelled out elements in quote marks turns the previous example into this:

    [text being quoted]

    Make sense?

  13. Zrim said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Jeff (#3), I think so. If we begin with the premise that explicit special revelation and implicit general revelation are equally clear (which presumes that implicit doesn’t mean unclear or deficient), then disagreement on that which we agree is clear is a good indicator of human deficiency. When you say two plus two is four and I say it’s five that doesn’t mean the multiplication table is unclear or in any way deficient, it means I’m lacking understanding.

  14. Reed Here said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Jeff: I’m not so sure this is exactly what Darryl is saying,

    So we see that in contrast to DGH, who argues that general revelation is sufficient to guide our conduct, Calvin argues that it is *not*.

    Isn’t Darryl instead saying that GR (natural law) is a sufficient guide for all purposes that are common under GR, exclusive of any SR contexts? I.e., it seems to me Calvin is not limiting himself to addressing man in his relationship to the Secular realm, but is particularly addressing his relationship to the Sacred Realm.

    Maybe Calvin is best understood to be discussing Man’s relationship with God, not merely man’s relationship with man. It seems to me this is the force of the distinction Darryl is trying to draw. He is not disagreeing with Calvin at the level of Man to God, but man to man.

    I welcome correction as seems appropriate. Thanks.

  15. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Reed, thanks!

  16. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Reed, it’s an interesting question. I agree with your take on DGH — he’s definitely speaking of our conduct in the general realm, in contrast to our conduct in the spiritual realm. He even distinguishes between “behavior” and “Christian behavior.”

    But Calvin seems to mush them together. In Inst. 2.2, he’s definitely angling towards our behavior towards God. But to get there, he points out that man’s behavior toward man is *also* deficient, and that reason alone is not enough to get us to righteousness even on the human plane.

    Perhaps we might put it like this: For Calvin, the obviously poor behavior of man towards man shows that a basic defect exists that cannot be remedied by GR. That defect is the lack of the Spirit.

  17. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Zrim (#12):

    If we begin with the premise that explicit special revelation and implicit general revelation are equally clear…

    OK. Let’s examine this. For certainly, Scripture is clear on the things necessary for salvation, meaning “that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.”

    And, that “when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.”

    Can you say the same of general revelation? Are there “clear passages” of general revelation that help interpret the “unclear passages”? Can the unlearned in a due use of the ordinary means come to a sufficient understanding of general revelation?

    And is there a Westminster Confession of General Revelation?

  18. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Jeff,

    “David R — are you referring to #697, the citation from Inst 2.2.13?”

    Yes, that’s the citation I meant.

  19. David R. said,

    February 5, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Jeff,

    “But Calvin seems to mush them together. In Inst. 2.2, he’s definitely angling towards our behavior towards God. But to get there, he points out that man’s behavior toward man is *also* deficient, and that reason alone is not enough to get us to righteousness even on the human plane.”

    Maybe a quibble, but this seems unclear. You seem to be speaking of a horizontal/vertical distinction (man relating to man vs. man relating to God), but is that what you mean? Calvin is not here speaking of this distinction; rather he’s distinguishing earthly from heavenly (and temporal from eternal). And while he insists that all is ultimately for nought without SR (and special grace), he does have a very high view of GR (and common grace).

  20. Reed Here said,

    February 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Hmm …

  21. paigebritton said,

    February 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Hi, David R.,
    Thanks for your quotes from Ursinus and Calvin on the last thread. Yes, those passages give clearer indicators of a positive or optimistic sense of an “unwritten” moral law on the hearts of those without SR than anything I encountered in reading up on this yesterday.

    Far be it from me to criticize Calvin and Ursinus unnecessarily, but I wonder these things:

    1. How far can one really push Rom. 2:14-15 into optimism about the human moral condition under GR only? Is Calvin in particular (in that quote) being realistic about how well the conscience works without the curbing influence of explicitly spoken SR, or is he waxing eloquent about something that is only merely hinted at in Paul’s words? Does he elsewhere balance his optimistic view with a proportionally correct pessimism about the moral state of human beings without God (as per Rom. 1 & 3, and cf. Eph. 2 & 4)?

    2. I notice that Ursinus in that section very quickly leaves the notion of “engraven on the hearts” for the security of what is declared and spoken. I wonder, is there continuity or discontinuity between their THEORY and their PRACTICE in this area of the civil use of the law? That is, once possessing the exact words of Special Revelation, did they find that they (and believers in general) now had an obligation to communicate these words (somehow!) to those who governed in their neighborhoods? (Or did they live in a society where this communication was not necessary, magistrates in general having heard the 10C’s from the cradle?) Or, on the other hand, did they believe in a “hands off” policy, letting the unbelieving magistrates go their own way and leaving God’s words out of the picture, because they figured General Rev was sufficient, since the law of God would certainly be inscribed on the heart of the magistrates? (Like, they wouldn’t bother to dedicate a systematic theology to a king, or anything like that?)

    3. Did they ever actually experience a setting that was completely removed from exposure to SR, or did they just theorize about it? Did they observe unbelieving magistrates in a culture that was familiar with the moral law (because it had been preached or published) and conclude, in effect, “Hey, look, those guys don’t believe in God, and they have the murder and robbery stuff right. Must be General Revelation working in their conscience! Guess that works every place.” Did they ever actually see the gruesome effects of a culture and government that had NO exposure to SR, even in a trickle-down fashion? What would they say if they had?

    Lots of questions. I’m really troubled, I think, by undue optimism about the effects of GR among unbelievers. I think the situation is lots more serious than pc-2K concedes, and I get that feeling from Paul.

    Thanks for the interaction!
    Paige

  22. Doug Sowers said,

    February 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Zrim thanks for taking the time to fully explain yourself, especially after I have been so tuff on you, as of late. I will respond a little later, God bless.

  23. Doug Sowers said,

    February 5, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    @Jeff from # 1: I think the more you look at how our our Great Theologians felt about common grace, the more your going to see how *alone* Kline is, in his understanding of the intrusion ethic, and common grace.

  24. Doug Sowers said,

    February 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    @Jeff, the problem with “common grace” is that it’s too subjective. IMHO. What on earth does common grace mean for sorting out our penal sanctions, regarding our sex laws? How do we know IF were following *common grace* for punishing crimes such as homosexuality, rape, murder, kidnapping, or blasphemy? Or do we go the other way with Zrim, and say sexual sins are legal tender? Zrim to the Magistrates, sexual sins are none of your business!

    Accordingly, Magistrates should do nothing about bestiality, necrophilia, homosexuality, whatever, as long as it’s consensual. Why does Zrim think this way? He sees Christ typologically fulfilling the DP laws in the Mosaic Law, (using Kline’s intrusion ethic), so we are now governed by *general revelation* which dovetales with Klines concept of common grace. But I have a more fundamental question Jeff; by what standard can we say were following either?

  25. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    David R (#19): Maybe a quibble, but this seems unclear.

    That’s pretty much because I’m unclear. :) Meaning, that I am still struggling to put into words — and to adequately research — a big-picture objection to pc-2k. To wit:

    It appears that in Calvin, knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves form a unified whole; and correspondingly, special revelation and general revelation form a unified whole.

    But in pc-2k, it appears that knowledge of God and knowledge of ourselves in relation to God are the provenance of special revelation; whereas knowledge of ourselves in relation to the world around us, and in relation to one another, are the provenance of general revelation.

    It’s really the apparent bifurcation of knowledge that has me edgy about the project. I’m very cool with separate jurisdictions for church and state; I’m greatly puzzled, even now, with trying to put SR and GR into two separate compartments in my head. They keep wanting to have slumber parties.

    Calvin again: After we shall have expounded the Divine Law, what has been previously said of its office and use will be understood more easily, and with greater benefit. But before we proceed to the consideration of each separate commandment, it will be proper to take a general survey of the whole. At the outset, it was proved that in the Law human life is instructed not merely in outward decency but in inward spiritual righteousness. — Inst 2.8.6.

    There it is: SR instructs us in both vertical and horizontal relations.

    And I think it is *this* belief of Calvin’s, not some never-mentioned Constatinian fantasy, that drove his view of the magistrate.

  26. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Doug (#24): I don’t think you’re correct to say that Zrim thinks that sexual sins are not the magistrate’s business. Zrim will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe his position is this:

    (1) The magistrate has sufficient knowledge from GR to do his job. This includes implicit knowledge that homosexual behavior is morally wrong, that rape, murder, kidnapping, even blashphemy are morally wrong. Adding SR to the equation does not add to his knowledge; he knows it already in the heart.

    (2) From there, it is the magistrate’s business what he does with that knowledge. We officers of the church might think the magistrate is falling down on the job, but he’s not in our jurisdiction. So our part is to obey, rather than to scold the magistrate.

    (3) The magistrate, in theory, *may* use Scripture to inform his laws and penalties, but he is not morally obligated to do so. In our country, respect for the law of the land (the 1st Amendment as currently interpreted by the courts) greatly restricts his doing so.

    (4) The acts proscribed under the 10 Commandments continue to be wrong, and a Christian magistrate should see those actions as wrong; but the magistrate is not obligated to follow the OT penalties, as these are part of the civil law.

    Zrim, how’m I doing?

    Anyways, what I’m trying to get across is that Zrim does not AFAIK forbid the magistrate from setting penalties for this crime or that. Nor does he require the magistrate to set penalties for this crime or that. As a non-law-making citizen, he shuts up and obeys.

    What is for Zrim “not business” is for the church to dictate to the state which laws ought to be passed and which penalties ought to be assessed.

  27. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    TFan (#708 on the NMWC thread):

    At least with respect to the first table, Kline says that the civil magistrate is not allowed to enforce them. And not just the penalties, but any penalties.

    Right, but that’s a separate question. For Kline, the church’s beliefs are none of the magistrate’s business.

    Whereas the question of penalties has to do with the abiding and abrogation of the OT Law.

  28. dgh said,

    February 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Jeff et al, it seems to me that Turretin could readily clarify what might appear to be a mystery in Calvin. It is the difference between natural law and special revelation, as David R. has usefully shown by supplying the missing part from Turretin (in #5). Notice that only some of the laws given to Israel pertained to Israel as a covenant people. They are now abrograted. Also, some of the laws given to Israel were also given to the Greeks and Romans — this is the over lap between the moral law of the Decalogue and natural law. So some law is universal, and some law is particular to the covenant people.

    I’d be very surprised if Calvin is not following this distinction and overlap.

    In either case, it makes natural law sufficient for order in secular society. And it means that it is a mistake to apply laws given specifically to the covenant people to all people. And it means that telling the magistrate to punish certain evils does not require an appeal to Scripture.

  29. Doug Sowers said,

    February 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    @Jeff, I spoke with Zrim way back on our first thread, and he didnt mince his words. He said, that since Christ typologically fulfilled the DP crimes found in the Mosaic Law, we are not to punish sexual crimes today. Murder was given to mankind in Genesis, but the Mosaic Law was for the Church only. The Church may administer Church discipline for sexual sins, but the Magistrate may not punish the sex fiend. Zrim was just that bold.

  30. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    DGH (#28):

    Please explain this further, because I’m not reading Turretin in the same light.

    He says in criterion (2) that things are of common right which are found to be conformed to the precepts of the decalogue and serves to explain and conform it.

    Doesn’t that presuppose testing General Revelation against Special?

    And then in criterion (3), those things are of common right which are repeated in the New Testament that their observance is commended to Christians.

    And that’s blatantly thrusting Special Revelation into the common realm.

    So help me out here: what are you seeing?

  31. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 5, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    And also: Wouldn’t Turretin have been a 1647 guy? So he’s not going to argue that the magistrate is free from enforcing true worship, which is found in SR, right?

  32. Doug Sowers said,

    February 5, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Jeff, it’s nice to see somone take their time and do the careful spade work, good job brother! I am interested to see how this pans out.

  33. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

    @Reed; 1 Tim 1-11

    (Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for underers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.)

    Hi Reed, please let me respond: When Paul says we *know* that the law is good, he’s presupposing the law in on par with God himself. Only God is good, yet Paul says we all *know* the law is good “present tense. So Paul doesn’t have to say, “and by the way, that would still be a good idea today”, that would be superfluous. He also says the Law was laid down for lawless, disobedient, ungodly and profane people who beat there parents, homosexuals and murderers. We still have those kinds of people today, so I have yet to hear how this verse doesn’t promote the continuing validity of the Law…as in good. Paul speaks of crimes in both tables of the law! Paul combines murder with homosexuality, and blasphemy. Paul says the Law is *good* for handling these matters. This also presupposes that these law breakers are getting there just due. He also says that the punishment of these evil doers through the law is in accordance to the Gospel! They go together like a horse and carriage.

  34. David Gadbois said,

    February 6, 2011 at 4:49 am

    With this thread I’m going to start actively deleting posts so that we can keep the clutter down and so that we don’t get to 1000 posts in less than a week.

    That means any posts that are demagogic, non-responsive, propagandistic, unsubstantial, smack of cheerleading, etc. will be deleted.

  35. Reed Here said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Doug: thanks, but that didn’t answer my questions. Maybe it will help if I observe this: there is nothing explicit in the context that Paul is saying about how this all applies to the civil magistrate. At best you can only work off of inferences. And to do that accurately, you must import the teaching of the Bible elsewhere, i.e., how do other passages elsewhere relate and inform the interpretation of this passage.

    As I see it at this point, you’re importing your own convictions (biblically informed) about the law. But this presupposes you’re convictions are the correct ones. Zrim or Darryl could with equal integrity claim the same, importing their own (biblically informed) convictions, and we’d be no further advanced.

    In the end, I don’t this is a passage that particularly informs our debate here. It speaks to God’s judgment of sinners. At most it offers personal ethical instruction – that can only be applied in the context of a saving relationship with Christ. I.e., the passage is expressly addressed to the Sacred Realm. Anything we might say about how this applies to the Secular Realm must be informed by outside this text considerations. I’m not saying it proves the 2K position. I’m simply observing it doesn’t move things one way or the other.

  36. dgh said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Jeff, I’m not going to wander back to the other thread and try to find II from Turretin.

    But here is a commentary on III.

    “As to the former, they may well be said to have been abrogated because the Jewish polity having been taken away, whatever had a peculiar relation to it must also necessarily have ceased. But as to the latter, it still remains because it enters into the nature of the moral and perpetual law and was commanded to the Jews not as Jews simply, but as men subject with others to the law of nature.”

    DGH — Israel had two sets of laws in effect, some from divine revelation pertaining to their identity as a covenant people, some from the natural order of things. Some of their laws were Jewish. Some of their laws were universal.

    “For distinguishing those things which were of common and particular right, a threefold criterion can be employed. (1) That what prevails not only among the Jews, but also among the Gentiles (following the light of right reason) is of common right. Thus the Greeks, Romans and others had their own laws in which are many things agreeing with the divine laws (which even a comparison of the Mosaic and Roman laws alone, instituted by various persons, teaches).”

    DGH — the laws that Israel observed that were universal were also observed by the Gentiles. Greek and Roman law agreed with divine law, namely the universal or natural parts of divine law (GR).

    “(2) What is found to be conformed to the precepts of the decalogue and serves to explain and conform it. This is easily gathered, if either the object and the matter of the laws or the causes of sanctioning them are attended to.”

    The decalogue, which I suppose is narrower than the natural law (I’m no NL expert), also finds reference in Gentile law. And this makes sense since the catechism teaches that the Decalogue is a summary of God’s moral law.

    “(3) The things so repeated in the New Testament that their observance is commended to Christians.”

    This seems to refer to parts of the New Testament that refer to the common or natural law. In which case, Christians have laws that are peculiar to them as Christians and laws which they share with everyone else.

    I don’t see how any of this requires laws in the natural realm to be tested by special revelation. It may, but I don’t see it. And I don’t think that Turretin or Calvin, given their high estimate of the Romans and Greeks as jurists and political theorists were sitting there evaluating Aristotle and Cicero for failing to follow Moses. In fact, Calvin and Turretin both saw that Moses’ laws were peculiar to the Jewish people, and they recognized that Greek and Roman laws were good for other people because they reflected universal norms revealed in creation.

    As for Turretin on the magistrate enforcing true worship, he would likely have said that worshiping God is part of the light of nature. The WCF says this in 21.1. So, if a magistrate is to enforce the moral law, he is going to enforce laws regarding worship. Even the Greeks and Romans did that.

    But if you are going to bring this up against 2k then you also need to own up to which side you are on regarding 1647. Calvin and Turretin’s Geneva did not tolerate Baptists. 2k critics make it seem as if only the magistrate would enforce the moral law everything will be well. But the problem the Greeks and the Romans had with the Christians was that Christians would not cooperate with the religious syncretism of the ancient world. It’s not exactly the same thing, but Calvin and Turretin would not cooperate with the interdenominationalism of most culture warriors today. They wanted the true religion, not many good denominations.

    In which case, are 2k critics going to go all the way with Calvin and Turretin on the magistrate or are they going to take the parts that are convenient for bedeviling 2kers?

  37. dgh said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Doug Sowers, are you saying that adulterers must receive the death penalty? Do you think this will be effective in restraining the cultural disorder that you bemoan? Do you think that any legislator will adopt this? Do you think any state or the feds’ will enforce it? Do you think that if adulterers are executed we will finally have a virtuous society? Or is this simply part of a grand strategy to get rid of all sinners in our midst? (Be careful if you answer that last question.)

  38. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 10:09 am

    You know dgh, of all the arguments against Theonomy, the rolling your eyes, and scoffing at God’s law, is the most offensive. Shame on you! It sounds like your saying God’s law would be ridiculous to implement today, no? I can almost hear you say, “we’d have blood flowing in the streets”.

    But couldn’t you have made same indictment against God in the Older Covenantal period; “must we kill all the sinners in our midst”? Was that God’s intent? Of course not!

    I was just reiterating God’s Word in 1 Tim 8:11, where Paul (unlike you), thought these punishments were still binding; in that they were called *good*. Paul said this good law was in accordance with the Gospel. “Quick question dgh.” What are the morally relevant changes in our society today that make adultery no longer a DP crime?

    Can you please show me the verse in the Bible, that says:

    God says, in times past he was furious with adultery and commanded both the man and woman were to be put to death, but since sending His own Son, the Father has mellowed out. Now adultry is a Church discipline issue only, as is blasphemy, bestiality, and homosexuality. After all, let’s not wipe everyone out”.

    I haven’t seen that verse anywhere!

  39. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    DGH (#36): Thanks for the commentary.

    I do disagree with you on your reading of (3).

    Turretin: “(3) The things so repeated in the New Testament that their observance is commended to Christians.”

    DGH: This seems to refer to parts of the New Testament that refer to the common or natural law.

    Your reading has some weight, given the context; but the grammar can’t sustain it.

    Turretin is saying, grammatically, that those things are of common right which are (a) repeated in the NT; and (b) commended to Christians for observance.

    Whereas you are saying that those things are of common right which are (a) in the New Testament, and (b) refer to the natural or common law.

    Which parts are those, exactly? I’m struggling to recall any passages of the New Testament that refer to the natural or common law and are commended to Christians for observance.

    But more importantly, can you concede that this is not an obvious reading of (3)?

    DGH: But if you are going to bring this up against 2k then you also need to own up to which side you are on regarding 1647 … It’s not exactly the same thing, but Calvin and Turretin would not cooperate with the interdenominationalism of most culture warriors today. They wanted the true religion, not many good denominations.

    In which case, are 2k critics going to go all the way with Calvin and Turretin on the magistrate or are they going to take the parts that are convenient for bedeviling 2kers?

    Two things, in case they weren’t clear already:

    (1) I subscribe to the 1789 revision of the Confession. I am persuaded that the church and state have separate jurisdictions, and that for those jurisdictions to be respected, the magistrate must not legislate 1st Table issues; else, he acts as if he were an officer of the church.

    (2) My purpose in criticizing pc-2k is not to bedevil you but to push us all into trying to get it right. I am unconvinced that the “GR/SR” divide of pc-2k is correct; it seems to have too many loopholes, problems, and exceptions to be a good theory.

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Doug S (#38): Now adultry is a Church discipline issue only, as is blasphemy, bestiality, and homosexuality. After all, let’s not wipe everyone out …

    Which is a more severe punishment: the death penalty, or excommunication?

  41. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    @Jeff, the problem with your question, is that Israel had Church discipline in the Mosaic Covenant as well as the Death Penalty.

  42. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Still, the question remains: which is more severe?

  43. Zrim said,

    February 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Jeff (#26), yes, I think you capture it well.

    Doug (#29), I don’t recall putting it in such a way that would somehow forbid the civil magistrate from administering the highest punishment for certain sexual sins, nor that he “may not punish the sex fiend.” If I did then let this be a clarification: he most certainly should punish evil. Personally, I don’t see what is at all to be gained by administering capital punishment for anything but murder (shouldn’t capital punishments fit capital crimes?). But that is different from saying that the magistrate mayn’t carry it out on infractions other than murder. If the magistrate decides homosexual behavior should be a capital offense, ok. I don’t like it for various reasons, as much as I don’t like legalized abortion, but I’d be even more loathe to witness “A Sermon to a President” that publically rebukes him for not governing according to my conscience in the matter. And that’s because I see new covenant ethics to be much more concerned with believers obeying their magistrates than magistrates pleasing God. How a sermon rebuking a magistrate fosters submission to and living at peace with him is just something my small mind cannot fathom.

    The church used to carry out capital punishment for certain crimes when she was a theocracy in Israel. But then Christ came and changed everything significantly. Not only does that mean the sign and seal of the covenant changed from circumcision to baptism and now includes female children (I trust you grasp just how huge that is), it also means that in the pilgrim era punishment changes to discipline and is strictly spiritual in nature. The same sins are considered violations but are dwelt with as differently as the sign and seal of the covenant are administered.

    You keep pointing to the fact that God told OT Israel to execute sexual sinners as if this is somehow a reason for the civil magistrate to do so. But you miss that OT Israel was the church, so pointing back to this reality should be reason for the NT church to execute sexual sinners. On the one hand, you’d make much more sense to me if you were making the case for the church to have as much civil jurisdiction over the bodies of believers as spiritual jurisdiction. But she doesn’t do that anymore for the reason I already stated. Which makes me wonder if you really grasp the utter magnitude of Christ’s advent.

  44. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t know how to answer your question; because you can’t put a Mormon on CD, since they arent trying to join your church, in the first place. Moreover, I thought the rational behind CD was that the wayward brother would repent, and come back to the Lord, no?

  45. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Zrim says, (Personally, I don’t see what is at all to be gained by administering capital punishment for anything but murder (shouldn’t’t capital punishments fit capital crimes?)

    Notice how Zrim infers that God’s punishments didn’t fit the crime? I think you need to retract that statement! Are you God’s counselor?!

  46. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    #44 was to Jeff

  47. Zrim said,

    February 6, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Doug (#45), I had a hunch you’d take it in that direction. But the point really wasn’t that God’s OT economy was somehow deficient. It was that Christ fulfilled what that economy pointed toward, which again, means things have significantly changed in the NT era. Unless you know of a church that still stones its adulterers?

    And this is theonomy’s basic error from which flows all others: it doesn’t understand fulfillment.

  48. GAS said,

    February 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    ph

  49. Roger du Barry said,

    February 6, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Fact: nowhere does the NT criticise the OT law, or even hint at a criticism. On the contrary, Paul says that it is good, righteous and holy. The problem lies in man, not in God’s command. Indeed, we are given a new heart and mind so that we will have the law written on our hearts and in our minds, and we are given the Spirit that we might walk in it.

    Those are the stated goals of the new covenant.

    How this law can be regarded as obsolete, repugnant, and to be ignored, is beyond me.

  50. Ron said,

    February 6, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I would respectfully ask the moderators to consider our brother Darryl’s post # 37 in light of David G’s sound advice from post #34 in which David says:

    That means any posts that are demagogic, non-responsive, propagandistic, unsubstantial, smack of cheerleading, etc. will be deleted.

    I interact with Darryl’s post below. I sincerely hope that the moderators will agree that Darryl’s post is “non-responsive” to the issues that we are to be discussing and deem it purely “unsubstantial” and “propagandistic”. What’s more, every 2K person alive should agree with my findings, that Darryl’s post raises irrelevant points that would be unfair to impugn to those who might hold to the same final conclusions as Darryl. In other words, Darryl’s points should be considered an embarrassment to those who agree with Darryl’s ultimate conclusions and we should not hold Darryl’s way of thinking against such persons.

    This line of questioning that Darryl pursues in his post has been dealt with by me and others – multiple times, yet Darryl continues to raise these same sorts of questions and in doing so possibly hinders progress among Christians in understanding the issues.

    I sincerely regret having to be so severe on a brother in the Lord, but I think Darryl needs to quit with the rhetoric – once and for all – and begin thinking and behaving more critically. With that said, I will now turn to Darryl’s post to Doug Sowers.

    Doug Sowers, are you saying that adulterers must receive the death penalty?

    The answer of whether one ought to be put to death for any particular transgression depends upon God’s word. The answer to Darryl’s question should never depend upon whether the penalty is found personally offensive to one’s own sense of justice. Accordingly, Darryl’s question is irrelevant.

    Do you think this will be effective in restraining the cultural disorder that you bemoan?

    We are to hope that all forms of public discipline, whether ecclesiastical, domestic or civil, will deter others from evil. Whether God will give increase to discipline or not is another question but not one that is germane to the question of ought certain censures be practiced. Accordingly, Darryl’s question is irrelevant.

    Do you think that any legislator will adopt this?

    Whether a governing body will adopt that which is true (or false) is irrelevant to the question of whether such a body ought to adopt that which is true (or false). Accordingly, Darryl’s question is irrelevant.

    Do you think any state or the feds’ will enforce it?

    Governing bodies will typically enforce that which they adopt, but again whether they do or not has no bearing upon the question of which laws ought to be adopted and enforced. Accordingly, Darryl’s question is irrelevant.

    Do you think that if adulterers are executed we will finally have a virtuous society?

    Whether one thinks: (a) that certain laws will bring about a virtuous society, (b) that certain laws will bring about a slightly more virtuous society, or (c) that laws are insufficient in and of themselves to bring about virtue – is irrelevant to the question of whether certain laws ought to be administered. Accordingly, Darryl’s question is irrelevant.

    Or is this simply part of a grand strategy to get rid of all sinners in our midst? (Be careful if you answer that last question.)

    Whether one thinks that all non-Christians should or can be purged from society has nothing to do with the question of which laws ought to be legislated. Accordingly, Darryl’s question is irrelevant.

  51. Reed Here said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Ron: while I disagree with your request that Darryl’s post represents the kind David G. has targeted for moderator deletion, I actually d have some inclination to agree with your responses to Darryl.

    Having said that, I’m not ready to conclude his questions are irrelevant. It may very well be that he is doing nothing more than what I see being done to the 2K position by some of the critics here, wrongly concluding that a possible inference is a necessary inference, It may be that Darryl is looking at possible inferences to Doug’s (theonomy’s) approach to such questions, and wrongly concluding that these possibles are necessary.

    Then again, he may actually have some valid points to offer, demonstrating that the possible is indeed necessary.

    At the very least he deserves the same kind of leeway his critics have been given on this blog. Let him explain why he thinks these questions are valid to ask of the theonomic position. Let the readers then decide if he has made his case.

    If not, I expect he will be man enough to drop this line of interaction.

  52. Reed Here said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Roger, some of the rhetoric in this discussion does make it sound like the 2k position disrespects the Mosaic Law. From what I’ve read and heard, I think this is more an impression given due to the direction of the discussion, not a fact.

    The issue is not respect vs. disrespect. Instead the issue is a question of the proper role of the Mosaic Law in the New Covenant era, in both the Secular and Sacred Realm.

  53. David R. said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Jeff (#39),

    “I’m struggling to recall any passages of the New Testament that refer to the natural or common law and are commended to Christians for observance.”

    Turretin had mentioned earlier in that passage things like care for widows, orphans and strangers as one of the things from the MC civil law that is of common right, and this of course is “commended to Christians” in James 1:27. I’m wondering if that’s not the sort of thing he’s referring to.

  54. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Doug (#44): What I mean is, if we are weighing excommunication for adultery or the death penalty for adultery, which is more severe?

    If it would help for me to play my card, I would go with “excommunication.” But I’m wondering what you think also, in terms of understanding where you are coming from.

  55. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 6, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Several additional thoughts about the abiding nature of the OT civil penalties.

    (1) It strikes me that Israel was bound to the law because it was under covenant with God (this point is made by Kline in Structure of Biblical Authority).

    Is there any reason to believe that the nations in general are also so bound by covenant?

    Certainly, all men are under the covenant of works in Adam. But the penalty associated with that covenant is spiritual and physical death to all men.

    So for Doug, Curate, and TFan: Why should the nations at large be under the sanction of the OT laws, if they are not under covenant with God?

    (2) Jer 31:

    “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
    “when I will make a new covenant
    with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
    It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
    when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
    because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
    declares the LORD.
    “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the LORD.
    “I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
    I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
    No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’
    because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
    declares the LORD.
    “For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

    In the theonomic scheme, where is there room for this passage to have fulfillment?

  56. David R. said,

    February 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Paige (#21),

    Thanks for your response and the questions you raise. Just some quick thoughts regarding Calvin’s apparent optimism about the workings of GR in the common realm:

    I’m not sure it’s right to see Calvin as overly optimistic here, because after all, his purpose in this section is not to prove the sufficiency of GR for the common realm, or anything as ambitious as that. Rather, I think his overarching purpose is to argue for what we call total depravity. But in the process of doing that, he doesn’t want to fail to tip his hat to the Creator and especially to speak of the gratitude owed to God for the gifts of common grace. (We’re totally depraved; not utterly depraved.) But even though it’s not Calvin’s purpose here, I *do* think an implication of what he’s saying is the sufficiency of GR for the common realm. (After all, he’s essentially saying that the entire superstructure of culture with all its components was built by pagans on the sole foundation of GR.)

    Regarding the appeal to Romans 2:14-15, I don’t think that’s the primary text in view; rather I think Calvin and the Reformed recognized the state as a common grace institution (e.g., Genesis 4:15-17; 9:1-17) and that all the elements of culture originated from outside the covenant line (Genesis 4:19-22). For example, check out this passage from Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis 4:20:

    “Moses now relates that, with the evils which proceeded from the family of Cain, some good had been blended. For the invention of arts, and of other things which serve to the common use and convenience of life, is a gift of God by no means to be despised, and a faculty worthy of commendation. It is truly wonderful, that this race, which had most deeply fallen from integrity, should have excelled the rest of the posterity of Adam in rare endowments. I, however, understand Moses to have spoken expressly concerning these arts, as having been invented in the family of Cain, for the purpose of showing that he was not so accursed by the Lord but that he would still scatter some excellent gifts among his posterity; for it is probable, that the genius of others was in the meantime not inactive; but that there were, among the sons of Adam, industrious and skillful men, who exercised their diligence in the invention and cultivation of arts. Moses, however, expressly celebrates the remaining benediction of God on that race, which otherwise would have been deemed void and barren of all good. Let us then know, that the sons of Cain, though deprived of the Spirit of regeneration, were yet endued with gifts of no despicable kind; just as the experience of all ages teaches us how widely the rays of divine light have shone on unbelieving nations, for the benefit of the present life; and we see, at the present time, that the excellent gifts of the Spirit are diffused through the whole human race. Moreover, the liberal arts and sciences have descended to us from the heathen. We are, indeed, compelled to acknowledge that we have received astronomy, and the other parts of philosophy, medicines and the order of civil government, from them. Nor is it to be doubted, that God has thus liberally enriched them with excellent favors that their impiety might have the less excuse. But, while we admire the riches of his favor which he has bestowed on them, let us still value far more highly that grace of regeneration with which he peculiarly sanctifies his elect unto himself.”

    As far as your questions about magistrates and the GR/SR issue, my assumption is that in Christendom, it was a given that the magistrate was a member of the church, and so of course would be informed by SR. VanDrunen has a helpful discussion about this in Natural Law and the Two Kingdoms, which I really need to go back and read myself.

    Thanks for the help in trying to think these things through!

  57. dgh said,

    February 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Ron, Reed, and Doug, the relevance of my questions to Doug stem from the practical issue at stake. We may debate over and over what the magistrate theoretically is required to do, but since part of the back drop for this discussion is Doug’s and others concerns about the wickedness and debauchery of our culture, I am trying to figure out what the theonomic alternative is practically. And the relevance increases since Doug has alleged that 2k offers nothing to the current chaos of our culture.

    If that is a critique of 2k, that we bring nothing to the culture war table, then I’m asking what theonomy brings. It sounds to me Ron, like you think it brings the truth. Okay, so what are you going to do about that truth as it bears upon the magistrate TO DAY!??!

    I also raise the question to pinpoint the disagreement. Theonomy has no more of a snow ball’s chance of fixing the culture than 2k does. 2k doesn’t presume to fix anything beyond desiring to see God’s kingdom of grace extended and increased until the kingdom of glory is hastened. But theonomy or theonomists are not going to fix anything. So it would be good to be clear about this. This is all merely theoretical.

    And since no one responded to my comment on the other thread, I’ll bring it up again. What’s the point of bringing up a completely impractical position? One could be to be true and faithful? That’s all well and good. But could we cut some of the self-righteous censoriousness (as in my loathing God’s law) that goes with the anti-2k rhetoric? It does seem a tad plausible that part of the point of repeatedly showing up another person is to exalt one’s own faithfulness.

    And Ron, for you specifically, if your views of God’s law were implemented, then wouldn’t my questions be relevant? I mean, I can assert the regulative principle of worship till the cows come home but some time I’m going to have to answer questions like what about choirs, what about hymns, does the pastoral prayer go after the sermon? I’m ready to answer those questions and I’m also willing to entertain questions about the practical implications of my position. Are you? Or is your position irrelevant?

  58. dgh said,

    February 6, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Doug, the (at least) one place in scripture where adulterers are not executed and are not required to be is in 1 Cor. 5. Here we have a case not only of adultery but of incest. And what did Paul do? He called for the new covenant form of death penalty — excommunication. Why don’t you get that the physical penalties of Israel have been spiritualized in the the spiritual community of the church. And if you’re view is correct about adultery, then the apostle was remiss in not carrying out the execution of the adulterers in Corinth.

  59. dgh said,

    February 6, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Jeff, I’m not going to try to figure out Turretin any more beyond this. I’m not sure it’s the greatest of translations and I’d need to know more about Turretin’s oevre if I were going to try to make sense of his prose.

    On the matter of seeing problems on the 2k side, so what is your position? You really do seem to be in no mans land. 1789 but nostalgic for 1647? 1950s America? 1890s America? 1710s Scotland? You keep putting 2k on the stand but you never seem to get up there and take some questions on your own view.

  60. dgh said,

    February 6, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    To summarize #57:

    2k and theonomy are both impractical (not going to fix anything).

    So the question is which is faithful. Theonomists think 2k is unfaithful.

    Ah, but the rub is that theonomy has not the standing of the revised Reformed confessions. So theonomy calling 2k unfaithful requires going outside the confessions. Puts a bit of a twist on faithfulness.

  61. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    What do you say concerning Meredith Kline’s statement that even revised the WCF is still theonomic?

    Also why did the revisers not touch the catechisms?

  62. David R. said,

    February 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Jeff,

    Thanks for #8. Does one of those functions indent paragraphs?

  63. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Jeff says:

    Jeff, in the Mosaic Covenant, both Jew and Gentile had to obey the *moral law*. Gentiles who were not circumcised did not have to believe in God or keep the ceremonial ordinances. And they were to be treated kindly. But anyone who commits Murder, rape, homosexuality, kidnapping, adultery, and blasphemy was to be put to death. The law of God is the foundation for any Nation that would honor God. It’s what we build our personal lives, our family, church, city, nations upon. Christ must be at the foundation of everything, which means everything must be founded on the Law of God. And that means both Church and State.

  64. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    dgh says:

    Because the Bible doesn’t teach that God abrogated his moral law. It’s my contention, that one can not separate God’s moral standards from his punishments, unless the Bible teaches that it’s so. The Bible does none of these! You, my friend need to repent and bend your knee, to the word of God. You simply haven’t given anyone a wedge, or a verse, that shows us God’s moral sanctions for crimes for both *Israel and the sojourners* has been abrogated. In fact, I can show you a bunch of NT scriptures that say the exact opposite! Therefore, just like Kline, you’re caught in a conceptual contradiction.

  65. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Doug, the (at least) one place in scripture where adulterers are not executed and are not required to be is in 1 Cor. 5. Here we have a case not only of adultery but of incest.

    Earth to Hart! When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, Rome was still in power. They would have scoffed at enforcing the Law of God. There are two spheres of authority on earth, both Church and State. Just because Rome wouldn’t acknowledge God, didn’t mean the Church shouldn’t! So your whole question is wrong headed! Once Rome became “Christian” guess what happened? They started applying the Law of God! That should” go without saying, since we all *know* that the law is good, amen?

  66. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    @ Ben #61 Kline shows how *out of the main stream* of refromed thought he really was. Everybody is a Theonomist unless you agree with Kline! It’s either intrusion ethic, and Common grace, or Theonomy. I’ll gladly take the later.

  67. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Reed here, says:

    Reed, with all due respect, the doctrine of the Trinity is drawn from inference, not explicit testimony. So should I start doubting the Trinity?! No? Thank God! Therefore, Paul calling the Law good, for punishing crime, must mean its’ good today, since Paul said this after Jesus “supposedly fulfilled the typological Mosaic Law” for the DP crimes! This verse busts dgh! Why should Paul have to say, oh, and when you Magistrates are converted, make sure you use this good law? That should go without saying!

  68. David R. said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Following are a couple of relevant sections from Ursinus’s Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism on the abrogation of the MC judicial law. (Thankfully, I didn’t have to type this as it’s available on google books.)

    III. TO WHAT EXTENT HAS CHRIST ABROGATED THE L.AW, AND TO WHAT EXTENT IS IT STILL IN FORCE?
    The ordinary and correct answer to this question is, that the ceremonial and judicial law, as given by Moses, has been abrogated in as far as it relates to obedience; and that the moral law has also been abrogated as it respects the curse, but not as it respects obedience. That the ceremonial ind judicial laws have been so abrogated by the coming of Christ, that they no longer bind any to obedience, and that they have not the appearance and force of laws in respect to the present time, is proven, 1. From the fact that the prophets even declared and foretold this abrogation in the Old Testament. “Christ shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease.” “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. (Dan. 9: 27. Ps. 110: 4.) 2. Christ and his Apostles, in different places in the New Testament, expressly assert this abrogation. (See Acts 7: 8. Heb. 7: 11—18; 8: 8—13.) Instead of adducing a number of testimonies in confirmation of this point, we shall merely cite the decree passed by the Apostles when assembled in Jerusalem: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you no greater burden, than these necessary things,” &c. (Acts 15: 28, 29.) 3. When certain causes are once changed, the laws which are based upon these causes are also changed. One cause now of the ceremonial and judicial law was that the form of worship and civil polity which existed among the Jews, from whom the Messiah was to be born, might distinguish them from all other nations until the Messiah would come. Another cause was that they might be types of the Messiah and of his benefits. These causes now since the coming of the Messiah, have been done away with: for the Apostle declares that the middle wall of partition between the Jews and other nations -has been broken down: “He is our Peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us,” “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Eph. 2: 14. Gal. 6: 15.) It is also every where taught in the New Testament Scriptures that the rites and ceremonies of the old dispensation have been fulfilled in Christ. “The Holy Ghost, this signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while the first tabernacle was yet standing.” “The law and the prophets were until John.” “Let no man judge you in meat or in drink,” &c. (Heb. 9: 8. Luke 10: 16. Col. 2: 16.).”

  69. David R. said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Admittedly he’s dealing with the abrogation of the ceremonial law there too.

  70. Doug Sowers said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Jeff says, If it would help for me to play my card, I would go with “excommunication.” But I’m wondering what you think also, in terms of understanding where you are coming from.

    I knew where you were coming from Jeff, I just didn’t want to play ball. Mainly because IMHO, church discipline is primarily designed to bring a wayward brother back to repentance. Or at least that’s our hope, amen? Now, if he wont repent, then yes! It’s much worse for him, than say Sodom and Gomorrah. But we all pray that he would return to God and show the fruit of repentance.

    Now, the death penalty is a different question. It’s mainly crossing an objective line, where God himself says, “come to me, now”! So it all depends on the heart of the person on church discipline to see if it was a blessing or a curse, amen?

  71. David R. said,

    February 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    Ursinus responds to a number of objections. One of them is the argument that:

    “The best and most wholesome form of government is always to be retained.The form of government established among the Jews was the best and most wholesome, for the reason that it was instituted by God.Therefore it is to be retained.”

    Following is Ursinus’s response:

    “Ans. There is here a fallacy in taking that to be absolutely true, which is true only in a certain respect. The form of government established among the Jews was the best, not absolutely, but only for that time, that country and nation: for there were many things in it adapted to the state and condition of that nation, country, time, and ceremonial worship, the observance of which would now neither be proper nor profitable, because the causes on account of which those laws were given to the Jews are now changed or removed; as giving a writing or bill of divorcement, marrying the widow of one’s kindred, &c. God did not, for this reason, institute this form of government that all nations and ages might be bound by it; but only that his own people might, by this discipline, be separated for a time from the surrounding nations.

    “If any one should object and say, that if Christians are permitted to observe and conform to the laws of other nations, such as the Greeks or Romans, &c., much more ought we to observe those which were given by Moses, the servant of God; we readily grant the argument, if this observance is rendered without attaching to it the idea of necessity; or if these laws are observed, not because Moses commanded and enjoined them upon the Jewish nation, but because there are good reasons why we should now comply with them; and if these reasons should be changed, to retain the liberty of changing these enactments by public authority.”

  72. Ron said,

    February 7, 2011 at 12:24 am

    And Ron, for you specifically, if your views of God’s law were implemented, then wouldn’t my questions be relevant?

    Darryl,

    If my view of God’s laws were implemented, that would not imply that my views of God’s laws are correct. My concern is with the correct standard – i.e. what ought to be the case, and not with the question of whether my view of correct laws will achieve this end or that end.

    I mean, I can assert the regulative principle of worship till the cows come home but some time I’m going to have to answer questions like what about choirs, what about hymns, does the pastoral prayer go after the sermon?

    Ah, I think I might be gleaning something new here. Are you saying something like let’s assume the theonomic thesis and then let’s take a look at what it will look like? OK, I do see some value in that sort of thinking. In fact, I appreciate that some can be “won” to a position by seeing the splendor of it once it’s fleshed out a bit more, whereas others might just see God’s requirement that we hold to a particular thesis and by walking in obedience through that door come to see the splendor of the position. I’ve been pushing the latter upon you and ignoring the former way in which people come to embrace new things – in which I’ve come to embrace many (most?) things. I’ll have to think about how to paint a pretty picture for you of putting kidnappers to death, if that’s what you’re looking for. Actually, I’ve done that before with respect to pleading the demands of the gospel along side God’s justice. My only “fear” is that you have seemed more interested in spraying graffiti on the pictures that have been painted of the law rather than trying to appreciate their beauty in the face of the gospel. Darryl, it’s painful to read some of your statements that seem to project a disdain for the law that would seem to transcend testaments. In other words, as I’ve pointed out before – much of what you write seems to indicate that you would have had a problem with these laws even under Moses, for you seem to argue against the law by the harshness you find in the law; such a polemic would have made you a not so good Jew.

    I’m ready to answer those questions and I’m also willing to entertain questions about the practical implications of my position. Are you? Or is your position irrelevant?

    I just don’t want to get into a discussion that places our opinion over God’s. That’s my concern.

    Let me sleep on this…

    Peace,

    Ron

  73. Roger du Barry said,

    February 7, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Reed, saying that dgh disrespects the law of God is my belief based on his posts, not a rhetorical device. DGH believes that the OT penalties for capital offences are abhorrent in themselves. He believes that they are irrelevant and unworkable, especially the first three commandments.

    Note that I am not speaking of Israelite specific laws, but the ten words.

    How is he being respectful? I believe that dgh needs to rethink his attitude to God’s commands, because they reveal God’s righteous judgements, which will all be carried out on the Great Day when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.

    That does not bother me, because it is not my problem. I am interested in his view, although I have yet to hear a proper explanation of it that takes the law of God into account. All I have read so far is vague generalisation, so I have a specific question.

    WHAT ARE THE LAWS THAT DEGH CALLS GENERAL REVELATION. PLEASE SPELL THEM OUT FOR ME IN A TABLE OF COMMANDS.

  74. paigebritton said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Thanks, David R. (#56) for your thoughtful engagement and the passage from Calvin.

    I’m not surprised that Calvin has an optimistic view of Common Grace, and I understand and heartily agree with the distinction between “totally depraved” and “utterly depraved” — but as I brought up before, traditional treatment of what is called “General Revelation” involves something different. The conscience bit of Rom. 2:14-15 allows for some overlap between these two theological categories, but the gist of it is this:

    The CONTENT of General Revelation is GOD;
    the REACTION to General Rev is HATRED and SUPPRESSION OF THE TRUTH;
    the RESULT of General Rev is CULPABILITY and CONDEMNATION, both temporal and eternal, resulting, in this life, in great depravity.

    What troubles me, see, is the mushing together or conflating of GR and Common Grace, which I find has been done quite blithely (by all of us!) in these threads. What gets lost and never addressed is the fact that GR, both as a traditionally conceived theological category and as presented by Paul in Rom. 1, is inherently about God, and is also tightly bound up in this cycle of revelation-rejection-judgment. Secular and optimistic this is not! So when Zrim argues that “General Revelation is sufficient for civil life,” meaning that people can get at everything from morals to school boards without reference to God, I go, “No, Common Grace is [maybe] sufficient; General Revelation is something different.”

    And it’s this pessimistic aspect of GR, the hatred–>judgment/depravity part, that raises for me those questions I asked above about the possessors of SR in the public square. Common Grace (also called God’s governance, providence, and preservation) is why things work sufficiently well mechanically speaking, if you will — language and wheels and vaccines and such things. And it’s God’s hand of grace that restrains the “total depravity” from becoming “utter,” so that human beings can get along sufficiently well. But you’ve also got to take into account this fierce opposition to God and desire to sabotage anything smacking of godliness — so the moral aspect of General Rev is very vulnerable.

    Given this situation on the ground, what do the SR people do? Take a totally hands-off approach, since Common Grace is available to those outside the church, and it will be sufficient? This seems to be the pc-2K position. The embarrassing transformationalists, on the other hand, quote Bible verses in the public square.

    I’m seeing a third way, though I can’t prescribe any specific “oughts” — be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and wisely, creatively, insert what we know to be true from SR into all aspects of public discourse and life (I’m leaving aside the question of “which OT laws” here; I’ll let you guys hash that out). My theological conclusion, as far as I know it from Scripture, is that GR is God-referring and condemning; Common Grace is sufficient for mechanics but ultimately not for morals; and we are the preservers — being “preservative” — of culture. (I don’t think this third way is necessarily anti-2k, but I do realize it is not the extreme position of pc-2K.)

    FWIW!!
    pb

  75. dgh said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Roger du Curate: you wrote that I believe OT penalties for violating God’s laws are abhorrent.

    That is not a good and necessary consequence of anything that I have said. It is uncharitable. If you are concerned about the TEN WORDS, you may want to check the NINTH.

    But if you can say that my view finds those penalties abhorrent, may I surmise that you find them beautiful? Do you not find that a tad strange, to take delight in the punishment of others (does Bin Laden come to mind?)? I would think in a theocentric world that only God, in his infinite wisdom and holiness could somehow take delight in the punishment and torment of sinners. Even that is hard to fathom since God is love and mercy.

    But if you really think I am to take delight in seeing sinners slaughtered, when I know myself to be a sinner, then, Curate, let’s just say I’m glad you’re ministering on the other side of the pond.

  76. dgh said,

    February 7, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Doug, thanks for the answer. Now I know your position. All government should become Israel. That solves your policy prescription problems.

    It makes hay of the work of Christ.

  77. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 7:19 am

    Roger: no. 73, Darryl has already defended himself. Let me, in an effort to see brothers not separated over misunderstanding, say I think you’re misreading him.

    Of course, it may be that you’re doing a good job of tyting up inference loose threads. Both Darryl and the rest of us will be blessed in your demonstration of that. That, at least, gets us into debate/discussion territory where we can learn from each other.

    Just a suggestion to try and help.

  78. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 7:37 am

    Doug, no. 67: slow down a bit. You’re misreading me now :-)

    There is a difference between a plausible inference and one that is necessary. A plausible one is simply a logical conclusion that might be drawn from an argument – however there is not enough information to say anything more. A necessary inference is one is not only plausible, but there is enough information to prove that it is also necessary – it must be concluded. Darryl used the common language in our confessions, “good and necessary consequence”.

    Examples: at one point in Church history it was a plausible inference that the 2nd person of the Trinity was created by the 1st Person. The plausibility followed from some logical inferences growing out of the “begotten” language in some biblical passages. The Church did further study and came to the conclusion that while it was plausible, this was not a necessary inference. (Indeed, working off of other inferential based arguments, they concluded the exact opposite).

    The Trinity is a good example of a plausible inference that is also necessary. No need to challenge my orthodoxy in such an inferential matter as this.

    To exemplify from your response, you reference Paul’s language of the law and punishment. You then conclude that he is talking about punishment in a civil setting that applies to all nations.

    It is in this latter part that you are basing your argument on an inferential argument that you think is necessary. But it is this very inferential argument that is questioned by 2k. I.e., yes the passage necessarily is speaking about the law’s use for civil punishment, at least, in OT Israel. Yet in order to apply that to other nations you must make an inferential based argument informed by other passages. I.e., there is nothing in this passage that requires us to conclude Paul is assuming universal civil application for the Mosaic civil laws.

    In point of fact, Paul’s immediate usage is not to discuss civil punishment but eternal punishment. In this sense Paul is using the OT law’s punishments according to their picture functioning (read Hebrews). He is actually saying nothing about their ongoing applicability to other nations. This case might be made, but only from inferential reasoning using other passages outside this one.

    Now this is not to say that your inferential argument is therefore debunked. I am willing to here the argument spelled out. It is simply to say that you’ve assumed the necessity of the very inference that 2k denies. Therefore this passage does not support your case, as it is written. You must go elsewhere. prove your inference is necessary, and then insist it applies here.

  79. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Doug: you said, ” It’s my contention, that one can not separate God’s moral standards from his punishments, unless the Bible teaches that it’s so.”

    This is an example of an inferential argument. I.e., there is no specific statement in the Bible that this is a hermeneutical rule that must be applied when interpreting the Bible. Instead it is conclusion based on inferential reasoning fro a number of passages.

    When you makes arguments based on the assumption that this hermeneutical rules is true you will automatically conclude that any argument which violates this rule is wrong. But there is another possibility, the rule could be wrong itself. If so, any argument based on it is false.

    The 2K position specifically believes this hermeneutic principle (common in theonomy) is actually incorrect. Therefore its usage in interpreting the Bible will yield faulty results.

    If one’s desire is to win over one’s brother, then first some agreement must be reached on whether or not this hermeneutical tool is indeed valid. At the very least, in your comments it will help if you show some recognition that this difference exists, and that you’re going to argue on the basis of it anyway. At least then your opponent in his response can pin down more clearly why he disagrees. This will result in a lot less speaking past each other.

    Sorry for any condescending tone here. It is not intentional, but fleshly weakness. I actually do appreciate your tenacity and willingness to keep engaging. Only trying to pass on some hard learned lessons

  80. David R. said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Paige (#74),

    Thanks for the further clarification and explanation. Yes, I see better now what you’re saying about the use of the theological terms. I admit I’ve not been careful enough in my use of the term “GR.” I guess it’s an easy mistake to make, since we’re searching for some sort of opposite of SR (to indicate the things people know w/o reference to SR), but after searching Berkhof, I agree with you; GR is not the correct term. So what might be a better term for what we know by common grace, perhaps the “light of nature”? (In its use in the WCF, it seems to mean GR in WCF 1.1, but in WCF 1.6, it looks like it has the other meaning.)

    I agree with your last paragraph, though I don’t clearly see (yet?) that you’ve said anything there that contradicts pc-2k.

  81. Neal said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:43 am

    @Zrim, #702 (prev thread) – But, Neal, the problem remains which none of you seem to take up: plenty of vital differences between Spirit-indwelt-Bible-readers exist.

    Certainly there are, but that wasn’t the point. Do you agree that SR corrects our interpretation of GR? In other contexts the idea that SR corrects our interpretation of GR wouldn’t even be controversial. It’s only controversial to Klineans who find it inconvenient for a particular version of 2K that they espouse.

    So if misinterpretions of special revelation aren’t even decidedly solved once and for all by opening special revelation, such that there is way more Reformed Protestantism in the world than Roman Catholicism (last I checked there are way more RCs than RPs), what makes anybody think that misinterpretions of general revelation will be so solved by opening special revelation, such that there will be way less acceptance of abortion and homosexuality (or whatever social ills get your panties particulalry in a bunch)?

    This all seems to be a rather twisted way of denying that SR corrects our interpretation of GR.

  82. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:17 am

    DGH (#59): On the matter of seeing problems on the 2k side, so what is your position? You really do seem to be in no mans land. 1789 but nostalgic for 1647? 1950s America? 1890s America? 1710s Scotland? You keep putting 2k on the stand but you never seem to get up there and take some questions on your own view.

    It probably got lost in this blizzard, but I proposed a “purely jurisdictional 2k” position in the NMWC thread.

    If you would like to poke holes in it, I’m game.

  83. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Doug (#70): Jeff says, If it would help for me to play my card, I would go with “excommunication.” But I’m wondering what you think also, in terms of understanding where you are coming from.

    OK. Where I’m coming from is this: is it really true that DGH and Zrim are “antinomian” if they argue for strong church discipline?

  84. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Paige (#74): Good catch.

  85. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Doug (#65): My pragmatist side took a shower this morning. And it started thinking,

    “Doug is entirely likely to live, grow old, and die in the USA, in which the 1st Amendment and 14 Amendment are the law of the land. So what’s the endpoint of the theonomic argument? Is it merely a hypothetical? Does he desire for Moscow, ID to pass laws establishing 1st table-friendly laws, in defiance of the Supreme Court? How does this play out?”

    On behalf of my pragmatist side, what *is* your desired endpoint?

  86. Phil Derksen said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Paige #74

    Well said. I think your sentiments fit well with something that was expressed by the Synod of Dort:

    “There remain, however, in man since the fall, the glimmerings of natural light, whereby he retains some knowledge of God, of natural things, and of the difference between good and evil, and discovers some regard for virtue, good order in society, and for maintaining and orderly external deportment. But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, that HE IS INCAPABLE OF USING IT ARIGHT EVEN IN THINGS NATURAL AND CIVIL. Nay, farther, this light, is such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it (back) in unrighteousness; by doing which becomes inexcusable before God.” (Third and Fourth Heads of Doctrine, Article 4; emphasis added)

  87. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:45 am

    David R.:

    You wrote:

    Because I’m feeling generous and because my life has slowed down a bit, but mostly because I’m curious to see by what sleight of hand you’re going to make your hero over into a theonomist, here ya go. ;)

    Heh. I think this alone would be enough to qualify him as a “theonomist” by most of those in the Escondido school, when identifying the parts of the Mosaic law that remain, he writes: “such as the laws concerning trials and the punishment of crimes.”

    As for the question about preferring Roman laws, Turretin’s explanation seems to be related back to his comment about the idea that the manner and degree of punishment may vary according to circumstances. Thus, stoning could be replaced with a more Roman mode of execution, or Roman severity or laxity in the punishment of certain crimes could be followed rather than Mosaic severity or laxity.

    An example (not of Roman, but of non-Mosaic) would be in the instance of the rebellious son. The Mosaic code punishes this with death – Hammurabi handles a similar crime with the sawing off of the son’s hands. There is punishment in both, and severe punishment, but the manner and mode of punishment differs.

    Another example might be the regulation of slaves. The Roman regulations on slaves differed from the Mosaic regulations. However, some of the Mosaic regulations are tied to Israel in a particular way (such as the distinctive treatment of Israelites as opposed to non-Israelites when it comes to how slaves are treated).

    Is it conceivable that we might prefer Roman laws to Jewish laws, particularly in the latter category (i.e. where the provisions of the Jewish law were uniquely Jewish)? Yes.

    But notice that Turretin has already pretty narrowly delimited the cases where that sort of thing might happen.

    In any event, I hope that answers DGH’s question (in the affirmative, with the further explanation and clarification I’ve provided).

    -TurretinFan

  88. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:47 am

    DGH wrote: “It makes hay of the work of Christ.”

    How exactly does Curate’s position – which appears to simply be the 39 articles position – make hay of the work of Christ?

    That’s a serious charge – can it be seriously defended?

    -TurretinFan

  89. Roger du Barry said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

    dgh: “But if you can say that my view finds those penalties abhorrent, may I surmise that you find them beautiful? Do you not find that a tad strange, to take delight in the punishment of others (does Bin Laden come to mind?)”

    Yes, I find them beautiful. All the judgements of the LORD are right and to be praised.

    Am I Osama bin Laden? As much as Moses and the people of Israel who sang and danced before the LORD at his destruction of the Egyptian Army in the Red Sea. I am with the ungodly Moses and Deborah on this one … (irony alert).

    Am I to mourn at the death of the wicked? It appears that you do. Have we not been created for the praise of God’s justice in the destruction of the wicked? Are we to praise God only for his mercy, and not for his righteous judgements too?

    You deny that you find capital punishment of the biblical kind abhorrent. You make a very weak case for yourself.

    BTW I was careful to say that I BELIEVED that you found them abhorrent, thus expressing an opinion, not stating a fact.

  90. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    DGH wrote:

    Jeff, I’m not going to try to figure out Turretin any more beyond this. I’m not sure it’s the greatest of translations and I’d need to know more about Turretin’s oevre if I were going to try to make sense of his prose.

    I have seen some problems in the translation a few times, but it is the only translation out there. There is a good Latin edition for free on the net:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=aWAwAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA145#v=onepage&q&f=false

    That should take you to the starting page for the question that we have been discussing.

    -TurretinFan

  91. Roger du Barry said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:56 am

    dgh: what are the GR laws that you recognise? Please provide me with a list.

  92. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Jeff says: OK.

    Me: Not at all. I too, would argue for strong church discipline, so I don’t fault them for that. I just wouldn’t preclude the Magistrate from enforcing crime with God’s “good” law”, as well. But what has me so upset, is for dgh and Zrim, to tell our Magistrates you may not “Biblically” punish our criminals with God’s standards found it his “good” law. (Except for murder) This is a form of antinomianism! How can either dgh or Zrim say capital punishment for murderers is still a good and just punishment, but not for homosexuals or child molesters? Where “in scripture” can they make that bold distinction?

  93. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Reed:

    In the spirit of trying to persuade my brethren, here’s an argument:

    1) Let us call the general moral principles of justice and equity that govern men in their relation to men the “natural law.”

    2) Let us affirm that Justice and Equity are unchanging principles.

    3) Let us affirm that some of the laws of Moses governed the Israelites as men and some of the laws of Moses were uniquely Jewish (dietary laws, for example).

    4) Let us affirm that the laws of Moses that governed the Israelites as men were good laws in the sense that they properly implemented (the laws themselves did) justice and equity. In other words, the laws of Moses that governed the Israelites as men were in accordance with Natural law.

    Conclusion
    May I suggest that if we can agree on 1-4, our conclusion is properly that the laws of Moses that governed the Israelites as men are an example of laws that are in accordance with natural law. Do you agree or disagree? If you disagree, where do you disagree?

    -TurretinFan

  94. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

    @Jeff #85 LOL! I don’t know brother! I would hope and pray before the Lord calls me home; there could a measure of unity within the Presbyterian reformed community that I love. That men like dgh, Zrim, and even David Gadbois with they’re “functionally agnostic” perspective of the Magistrate would be proved false. I don’t ask for much :)

  95. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Earth to Hart! When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, Rome was still in power. They would have scoffed at enforcing the Law of God. There are two spheres of authority on earth, both Church and State. Just because Rome wouldn’t acknowledge God, didn’t mean the Church shouldn’t! So your whole question is wrong headed! Once Rome became “Christian” guess what happened? They started applying the Law of God! That should” go without saying, since we all *know* that the law is good, amen?

    So, Doug (#65), when the church didn’t execute sexual violations amongst the faithful it was because the magistrate wasn’t converted yet? So in effect Paul was telling the church to be unfaithful to God’s law which called for execution by commanding excommunication? That sounds a lot like the world setting the church’s agenda. The theonomic impulse likes to suggest that 2k cowers to the ways of men, but this sure makes it sound as if the church cannot do what she is mandated to do until given protection, approval and assistance by the state.

    And so the modern post-Christendom church has now found herself to be in the same position as the primitive pre-Christendom church. And the theonomic suggestion is that to merely excommunicate is to abhor God’s law. But 2k says that God’s law, from blasphemy and idolatry to sexual sins to covetousness, still stands. The difference, though, is twofold: violations are carried out by the church alone and that strictly spiritually.

  96. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:14 am

    And it’s God’s hand of grace that restrains the “total depravity” from becoming “utter,” so that human beings can get along sufficiently well. But you’ve also got to take into account this fierce opposition to God and desire to sabotage anything smacking of godliness — so the moral aspect of General Rev is very vulnerable.

    Paige, I’ve been trying to make the point that there is some connection between GR for civil and SR for ecclesiastical and that the problem lies within sinners and not the books ordained to govern the respective realms. The critics of GR being sufficient for civil life seem to be bothered by the fact that plenty of opposition to godliness exists in the civil realm. And they take this as some sort of proof that GR is less than sufficient. But ungodliness is also rampant in the ecclesial realm, as in gospel anathematizing Trent or the soteriological heresy of Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism. Does this mean that the “gospel aspect SR is very vulnerable”? If by vulnerable we mean to cast doubt on the sufficiency of either revelation, I think the answer is clearly no. GR is as sufficient to beat back the immoral in civil life as SR is sufficient to beat back Galatian errors in the ecclesiastical.

    And two things strike me about your alternative. First, as you seem to suggest yourself, it has a Jeff Cagle-ish tone insofar as it seems to suggest a via media between 2k and some form or another of transformationalism. It reminds me of the suggestion that there is a via media between Calvinism and Arminiaism (i.e. 3-point “Calminianism”). You suggest pc-2k is extreme, and I understand, but it just seems to be likely the sort of extreme some think Calvinism to be. Second, it includes this suggestion that redeemed believers are the “preservative” in culture. This isn’t uncommon, salt and light and all that I suppose, but it is always confusing to me. Preservation is a creational project, not a redemptive one. True enough, I’m much more sympathetic to creational efforts that are more preservative of culture than transformative (whether they come from believers or non-), but to think that redeemed believers are specially endowed to preserve culture in a way that unredeemed creatures aren’t is odd. We are endowed to be a witness and hold out the unfettered gospel, but how that is the same as preserving culture doesn’t register.

  97. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:36 am

    dgh says: Why don’t you get that the physical penalties of Israel have been spiritualized in the the spiritual community of the church?

    Me: Because the Bible doesn’t teach that! Please give us a wedge, a Bible verse that teaches what your saying it says!

    Dgh: And if you’re view is correct about adultery, then the apostle was remiss in not carrying out the execution of the adulterers in Corinth.

    Me: Come Dr Hart! Haven’t you been paying attention? There is a separation of Church and State! Elders may not bear the sword! Rome scoffed at the Law of God! Once the Magistrate is converted, then it goes without saying he should rule in a God glorifying manner, after all Jesus is Lord. And God has already revealed his opinion on how we are to punish evildoers. The Magistrate is a minister of God’s justice, and what could more “just” than enforcing God’s good law? Unless you’re going to attempt to say, that Justice can change? If you go that route, then you’re simply incoherent once more.

  98. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Neal (#81), the problem I have with saying SR corrects our interpretation of GR is that it sounds like saying one clear text corrects another clear text. How can a clear text correct a clear text? Again, the problem is human deficiency.

    But my point is what happens when SR is pulled out to correct bad readings of SR and it doesn’t take? If that happens then what makes anyone think pulling out SR to correct bad readings of GR helps? It just seems to me that the critics of GR as sufficient for civil life don’t really account for how SR can’t make up for the alleged deficiencies of GR when it doesn’t solve human deficiencies in SR in the ecclesial realm. Moreover, the Spirit indwells everyone looking to SR to correct bad readings of SR and bad readings persist. In the civil realm, not everyone is Spirit indwelt. If bad readings amongst the Spirit indwelt persist they will certainly persist in mixed company.

  99. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Zrim wrote: “But 2k says that God’s law, from blasphemy and idolatry to sexual sins to covetousness, still stands. The difference, though, is twofold: violations are carried out by the church alone and that strictly spiritually.”

    a) I sure hope Zrim means “punishment for violations,” not “violations.”

    b) Zrim is still plainly wrong when he says that punishment for violations of God’s law are exclusively the domain of the church.

    I don’t think that even Zrim believes that. I think this is just another of countless examples of Zrim making extreme (read: “radical”) statements that aren’t correct.

    -TurretinFan

  100. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Plus, Neal, if GR is insufficient and SR corrects it then why not just forego the middleman and simply use SR for civil tasks? Why waste time with an insufficient text? But human deficiency persists.

  101. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Yes, Tfan, discipline for violations.

    And the point is that spiritual discipline is carried out by the church alone. How is that controversial?

  102. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Doug (#92): But what has me so upset, is for dgh and Zrim, to tell our Magistrates you may not “Biblically” punish our criminals with God’s standards found it his “good” law.

    But see, that’s factually false, at least for 2nd table issues. See #43.

    And if we’re talking 1st table issues, then there’s another matter: the problem of keeping the magistrate’s nose out of the church’s business.

  103. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Zrim says: So, Doug (#65), when the church didn’t execute sexual violations amongst the faithful it was because the magistrate wasn’t converted yet?

    No, there is a separation between two spheres of authority, (or kingdoms if you will) but only one King. The Church and the Civil Magistrate are both subject to the Law of God, it follows that as the leaven of the Gospel permeates through the Nations, that both Church and State would confess that Jesus is Lord. Elders and Church leaders are not the Magistrate; the Magistrate doesn’t have authority over the sacraments and church polity. Both are subject to God’s Word, this is why, in a good and wise nation, there should be a cooperative relationship between the two spheres of authority, to best understand how to please, honor, and apply God’s rule, in all areas of life.

  104. greenbaggins said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Zrim, I think TFan here would probably point to something like murder. That is a spiritual sin, and a physical act. It would be something that the church should discipline a member for doing. But surely it is ALSO something that the state should do something about. Would you agree with this?

  105. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Zrim:

    You wrote: “And the point is that spiritual discipline is carried out by the church alone. How is that controversial?”

    What is controversial is your statement that only the church punishes violations of God’s law, not your point that spiritual discipline is carried out by the church alone. Do you really not see the difference?

    -TurretinFan

  106. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Zrim (#96): First, as you seem to suggest yourself, it has a Jeff Cagle-ish tone insofar as it seems to suggest a via media between 2k and some form or another of transformationalism…

    Zrim, we’ve only got a few options on the table. Either Bahnsenian theonomy is completely correct, or Zrimecian 2k is completely correct, or else there is some via media, or there is some third way.

    In the case of Calvinism v. Arminianism, the church has spoken (at Dort): Calvinism, as in five points, is completely correct.

    In the case of Zrimecian 2k, the church has not so ruled. So unless you want to raise your view up to be the measure of all things, you have to concede that there might be via medias out there, and that your analogy to Calvinism and Armenianism might be flawed.

    In my case, I believe it’s possible to have a jurisdictionally-based 2k, without trying to link it to general and special revelation. I’m specifically denying your thesis that there’s some connection there.

    And the reason I deny it is, that when we press hard on the details (“Jeff, you’re working too hard”), it turns out that your wall between GR and SR has all of these holes and exceptions.

    UNLIKE the wall between church and state, which has far fewer.

    My view is that the holes and exceptions in the wall between GR and SR ought to mirror the holes and exceptions in the wall between church and state. And they don’t. So that gives me cause to doubt that the connection is as clean as you say.

    Does that make sense?

  107. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Zrim says: But 2k says that God’s law, from blasphemy and idolatry to sexual sins to covetousness, still stands. The difference, though, is twofold: violations are carried out by the church alone and that strictly spiritually.

    Me: What you have failed to do, is prove your theory, in God’s word. It’s not enough for you to boldly assert your PC 2K premise; show us (in God’s Word) where sexual sins, and blasphemy violations, are only to be dealt with through *church discipline alone*?

  108. greenbaggins said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Doug I edited your comment. Zrim is not blowing up, you are. Calm down.

  109. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Sorry Lane. I feel better already! :)

  110. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Doug, why does the magistrate have jurisdiction over what believers do with their mothers-in-law (Corinth) but not over whether they baptize their children? It seems to me that if the gospel “permeates through the Nations, that both Church and State would confess that Jesus is Lord” that the state would not only execute incest it would also execute for credo-baptism or paedocommunion. But the church disciplines for all of it because the gospel permeates her alone.

    Lane, yes, quite agreed: the church should discipline murder and the state should punish it.

    Tfan, I think you’re doing your level best to make my words say things they aren’t saying, which is that the church carries out spiritual discipline for violations of the law, the state carries out physical punishment for them. You know that I fundamentally hold that the state is responsible for the second table and not the first, so I’m not saying the state is exempt from physically enforcing some aspect of God’s law. I know you disagree and say that the state must enforce both tables, but it’s a fundamental disagreement.

  111. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Tfan, no. 93: not being fully convinced of the proper role of Natural Law in this discussion yet (I’m 2k, although not persuaded fully of the 2K Darryl proposes; I like Jeff Cagle’s via media position, at least on the sub-question(s) it addresses), let me go with what you’ve said.

    A couple qualifications/clarifications for agreement with your 1-4:

    On no. 3 I’ll need a bit more nuancing, particularly in terms of distinguishing between purely ceremonial, purely civil, and laws that may cross these lines. I think there may be quite a few of the latter. That being said, I agree in principle that such distinctions exists and can be made (more or less accurately).

    On no. 4, am I correct to read the phrase “governing of Israelites as men” to be referring to civil realm laws? If so, with no. 3’s clarification in mind, yes, I’ll agree to this one as well.

    Finally, to your conclusion, I can offer an “agree” only to degree that I am tracking with you. My qualification/clarifications might demonstrate I’m not getting what you’re meaning. Or better yet, I don’t see where agreeing is taking us.

    Final observation: I have a hunch about where you might be going (and I could be way off). If my hunch is correct, I think the issue of how does the equity principle work will be the sticking point.

    Anyway, here is my “agree.” Now what?

  112. greenbaggins said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:44 am

    OK, Zrim, that’s what I thought you meant. So here’s the question for you. What do you mean when you say “violations are carried out by the church alone and that strictly spiritually?”

  113. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

    “Tfan, I think you’re doing your level best to make my words say things they aren’t saying”

    I’d be offended by your false accusation regarding my motives, except that I don’t think you pay very close attention to what you yourself write or to how I respond. If you did, you’d see my caveat, “I don’t think that even Zrim believes that.” (which it turned out was correct)

    -TurretinFan

  114. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Reed:

    Yes, there are some things not stated in the argument that might need to be fleshed out in order to make the argument useful. Hopefully those will not pop back up to bite us as we go on.

    1) If we agree that the laws of Moses that govern men as men (as explained above – laws that have a general quality, as opposed to laws that are uniquely Jewish) are an example of laws that comply with “Natural Law.”

    2) And if we agree that good laws for any nation ought to comply with natural law.

    3) Then, it seems that it would at least permissible for a civil magistrate to pattern their laws based on those Mosaic laws that have that general quality.

    Notice that I have not said it is mandatory, but have here only argued that it would be at least permissible to use the generally-applicable Mosaic laws in this way. Are we still in agreement? (I realize that again, figuring out which laws are “those Mosaic laws” may be a sticking point, but let’s leave that for a little later, if possible.)

    – TurretinFan

  115. Neal said,

    February 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    @Zrim, #98 – the problem I have with saying SR corrects our interpretation of GR is that it sounds like saying one clear text corrects another clear text. How can a clear text correct a clear text? Again, the problem is human deficiency.

    The problem you are having is in thinking of GR as a “text”. It is not a text, except perhaps metaphorically, whereas SR is literally a text. The actual state of affairs is that we have a clear text correcting a sin-stained understanding of a revelation that in and of itself would be “clear” were it not for sin clouding the view.

    But my point is what happens when SR is pulled out to correct bad readings of SR and it doesn’t take? If that happens then what makes anyone think pulling out SR to correct bad readings of GR helps?

    I will grant that it might not solve every problem, but that was never what was in view here. I’m arguing for the validity of applying SR to the civil realm. That doesn’t require that every question be solved or that we necessarily drop GR, but that SR can be used to supplement GR in societies where God’s word has sufficiently penetrated to make it feasible to implement.

    It just seems to me that the critics of GR as sufficient for civil life don’t really account for how SR can’t make up for the alleged deficiencies of GR when it doesn’t solve human deficiencies in SR in the ecclesial realm.

    It seems to me that this notion of “sufficient” is not clearly defined. To what ends are we saying it is “sufficient”? Where you are saying GR is sufficient, I’m saying that SR is even better, because it doesn’t leave us guessing what parts of civil law are properly derived from GR, and what parts are sinful distortions. I’m saying that SR is a lens through which to read GR.

    I’m also not tracking with your arguments about differences of opinion regarding SR. I know you are not suggesting that there is not a correct and right interpretation of SR. There are degrees of clarity in SR, and we say that we let more clear passages interpret less clear passages. But its not as if there are huge disagreements over the interpretation of the decalogue. There aren’t many ways to parse “do not murder” or “do not commit adultery”.

    Plus, Neal, if GR is insufficient and SR corrects it then why not just forego the middleman and simply use SR for civil tasks? Why waste time with an insufficient text? But human deficiency persists.

    We still live in an unconverted world right? So I am happy live with GR where we are unable to bring SR to bear.

  116. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    “I know you and Zrim may have noted this, but church discipline is not “punishment.” Big difference.”

    I certainly agree. :)

    -TurretinFan

  117. GAS said,

    February 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Maybe it has already been brought up but I haven’t seen it. Doesn’t Jesus in the Beatitudes addresses case law when he says, “You have heard it said”, putatively meaning what they had heard from the religious leaders and then at the end of the discourse fully affirms the continuing validity of the Law?

    If this is true, that Jesus is correcting a poor interpretation of the case law by the religious leaders, what affect does that have on this discussion?

  118. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Jeff, the point wasn’t to “raise my view up to be the measure of all things.” It was simply to say that I see as much internal consistency within 2k and over against any form of theonomy as I see in Calvinism and over against Arminianism. I don’t see any way to forge the via media in either project than I do to discover a whole number between four and five.

    Lane, as Tfan pointed out, “violations are carried out by the church alone and that strictly spiritually” was not as clear as it could have been. What I meant to write was that discipline for violations is carried out by the church alone and that strictly spiritually. Conversely, punishment for violations (and as David G. helpfully reiterates, discipline and punishment are very different things) is carried out by the state alone and that strictly bodily. IOW, the church spiritually disciplines for violations and the state bodily punishes. I don’t want my pastor locking up rapists anymore than I want my sheriff exhorting them.

    Tfan, sometimes it’s discerning motivations. Other times it’s going by what it said. Yes, your caveat was nice, but only after suggesting my words were saying something they weren’t. I think part of your problem is that you think unless a statement can say everything at once then nothing should be said.

    The problem you are having is in thinking of GR as a “text”. It is not a text, except perhaps metaphorically, whereas SR is literally a text.

    Neal, if GR is written on the heart then it’s a text.

    I will grant that it might not solve every problem, but that was never what was in view here. I’m arguing for the validity of applying SR to the civil realm.

    Christian secularism argues for a place for SR in the civil realm, too. It’s against the legal secularist who denies this may happen. And it’s against the theonomist who says it must happen.

    It seems to me that this notion of “sufficient” is not clearly defined. To what ends are we saying it is “sufficient”? Where you are saying GR is sufficient, I’m saying that SR is even better, because it doesn’t leave us guessing what parts of civil law are properly derived from GR, and what parts are sinful distortions. I’m saying that SR is a lens through which to read GR.

    When I say GR is sufficient for civil life I mean it gets us an approximate, imperfect public square. When I say that SR is sufficient for ecclesial life I mean it gets us an approximate, imperfect church. This life, be it sacred or secular, is imperfect because human sin clings and abides in both. If SR doesn’t get us the perfect church, it also won’t get us the Good Society.

    I’m also not tracking with your arguments about differences of opinion regarding SR. I know you are not suggesting that there is not a correct and right interpretation of SR. There are degrees of clarity in SR, and we say that we let more clear passages interpret less clear passages. But its not as if there are huge disagreements over the interpretation of the decalogue. There aren’t many ways to parse “do not murder” or “do not commit adultery”.

    Really, no huge disagreements about how to interpret the Decalogue? Was it a republishing of the CoW or not? Should the second table be enforced by the state or both? Which breakdown is right: Jewish, Anglican/Reformed, Orthodox or Roman Catholic/Lutheran? I say there is a correct way and it’s the Reformed way. My Lutheran friends don’t think so. I say the second commandment forbids images, he thinks pictures of Jesus are kosher. I say the third means taking the Lord’s name in vain includes even outbursts that are thankful to heaven, he thinks I’m too precise. The fourth means no shopping that day, he disagrees. We also differ over the sacraments. Wait, let’s go to SR and get that cleared up. Oops, he says consubstantiation and I say real presence, still another says transubstantiation. Then there is sola fide, which I think SR is plain as day on. Lutherans agree, but not so my Catholic friends.

  119. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Zrim (#118): What are your thoughts about #17? It seems that the clarity of Scripture is fairly well-defined: There are clearer passages that help interpret the unclear. That which is needed for salvation is so clear that even the unlearned can read and understand.

    Is the same true about GR? Are there “clearer” passages of GR that help interpret the unclear? Can even the unlearned obtain a right understanding of the main articles?

  120. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Zrim (#118):

    On a separate thought: The core idea of “clarity” of GR is that we do not need SR to help clear it up; it is sufficiently clear on its own, right?

    Is the same true in reverse: SR is sufficiently clear on its own, so that we do not need the help of GR to interpret it?

    If so, what do you make of things like

    * Greek dictionaries and grammars
    * Using ANE treaties to illumine the structure of the Covenant
    * Old-earth interpretations of Gen 1
    * Use of historical information about Roman practices to understand various terms in the Gospels and Paul’s epistles (e.g.: 2 Cor 2.14).

    Are those out of court because SR is sufficient?

  121. greenbaggins said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Zrim, thanks. That is certainly much clearer. And I agree with you.

  122. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    And one final thought. I’m with Neal in that GR does not appear to be a text, except metaphorically. You say, “If it’s written on the heart, it’s a text.”

    There’s a myriad of troubles here.

    * For one thing, the whole of science is part of GR, but it is not written on the heart.
    * Importantly: children too young to be able to read or write any text whatsoever show a moral sense.
    * If GR is a literal text, then why can’t we purchase The Natural Law on Amazon.com? Being a text, it should be easy to transcribe!

    So I’m baffled by the insistence that the law of God written on the heart is literally a text. Surely you mean this metaphorically? For it does not function like any other text in existence.

  123. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    TFan, no. 117: with the caveat that “as applied through the filter of the equity principle,” OT case laws may be used by the civil magistrate to inform him of his duties.

    Keep going …

  124. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Jeff, I’m not sure the un/clear analogy between SR and GR is as helpful. The point I want to make simply is that, even as both have what could be called “unclear” aspects, both SR and GR are clear enough for their respective tasks and deficiency lies in the human agency.

    Re 120, I think I’ve made the point before that I don’t think sufficiency means that each form of revelation cannot be used to aid the other realm (tradition for church and sixth and second greatest for civil). IOW, SR may be used in civil life and GR in ecclesial life. But the point about sufficiency really seems to be a jurisdictional point: the Bible belongs to the church and the light of nature to the civil. Sure, there is overlap and interplay, just like the rules that govern doctors also can be found in those that rule attorneys. But when doing medicine we consult medical texts, and when doing law legal texts.

  125. Neal said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Neal, if GR is written on the heart then it’s a text.

    Yes, metaphorically, which I allowed for. But it’s not a “text” in the same (literal) way that the scriptures are a text.

    Christian secularism argues for a place for SR in the civil realm, too. It’s against the legal secularist who denies this may happen. And it’s against the theonomist who says it must happen.

    I wasn’t arguing for theonomy per se (depending on how you are defining theonomy).

    When I say GR is sufficient for civil life I mean it gets us an approximate, imperfect public square. When I say that SR is sufficient for ecclesial life I mean it gets us an approximate, imperfect church. This life, be it sacred or secular, is imperfect because human sin clings and abides in both. If SR doesn’t get us the perfect church, it also won’t get us the Good Society.

    So your argument is that since SR cannot give us perfection in ecclesial life, therefore we cannot apply SR to the public square. How does that follow?

    You say that GR will give us an approximate, imperfect public square. I say GR + SR will give us a better, though still approximate, imperfect public square. What’s wrong with that?

    Really, no huge disagreements about how to interpret the Decalogue?

    I’ll give you that one. Okay, there are disagreements. Does that really change the question of whether SR is applicable to the civil sphere, any more than the question that it is applicable to the ecclesial sphere? You can’t perfect the ecclesial sphere either, so why the application of SR to it?

  126. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Jeff (#122), of course I’m speaking metaphorically, as does Paul in Romans 2:15 when he says, “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts…” Maybe you baffled at the idea that the law of God is literally written on the heart because you are taking the metaphor too literally? But I don’t see what keeps you from leveling this criticism against Paul when he says the exact same thing.

  127. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Reed:

    Great! Your caveat is noted.

    1) If the civil magistrate may do so;

    2) Let’s affirm that there is no other example of laws that God has indicated (explicitly or implicitly) comply with the Natural Law as to those parts of the laws that govern men as men (i.e. applying the same standard we are applying to the Mosaic laws).

    3) And let us affirm that consequently it would be wise or prudent for a civil magistrate to select those Mosaic laws (the ones that relate to the general purpose of governing men, as opposed to the uniquely Jewish aspects) as a starting point (though not necessarily as an ending point) when constructing a civil code.

    Does that also seem acceptable?

    -TurretinFan

  128. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Zrim wrote:

    I think part of your problem is that you think unless a statement can say everything at once then nothing should be said.

    Mind-reading failure. Not only didn’t I say that, I didn’t think that. Hopefully this clears up the matter of my thoughts.

    -TurretinFan

  129. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    So your argument is that since SR cannot give us perfection in ecclesial life, therefore we cannot apply SR to the public square. How does that follow? You say that GR will give us an approximate, imperfect public square. I say GR + SR will give us a better, though still approximate, imperfect public square. What’s wrong with that?

    Neal, first, I hate to seem so exacting but, once again, it isn’t that we “can’t” apply SR to the public square, rather that we don “have to.” This seems to be an important difference.

    Second, what I am responding to is what I think is a premise in less-than-2k thinking, namely that perfection is the goal. Often the argument seems to be, “Look at all the bad things happening in the world. If we just opened the Bible we’d be closer to perfection.” And I’m saying, no, we wouldn’t, because perfection is impossible in this age. GR + SR will not give us a better public square because sinful human beings still comprise it. Frankly, I count it religious fantasy to think that somehow we can expect to circumvent the effects of our sin by adding the Bible to civil projects. It actually betrays a dangerous view of sin.

    Does that really change the question of whether SR is applicable to the civil sphere, any more than the question that it is applicable to the ecclesial sphere? You can’t perfect the ecclesial sphere either, so why the application of SR to it?

    Because that is the appropriate application. Those are the rules. I didn’t write them. The Bible rules the church, but that doesn’t mean it perfects the church. The Spirit perfects the church (n conjunction with the Word and sacraments, of course, to be complete about it in case Tfan is tempted to get after that one). But that process is painfully slow and really won’t be anywhere near complete until Jesus’ return.

  130. dgh said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Roger dB, okay you’re Osama, and I take my model from Jesus who wept for Jerusalem.

    As for laws from General Revelation, here’s the chapter on water rates from the Philadelphia Legal Code:

    CHAPTER 13-100. WATER RATES
    § 13-101. Standards. 1

    (1) Councilmanic Examination. At least once in every four years Council shall make or cause to be made an independent examination of the current operations and Capital Programming and Budgeting of the Water Department, and in connection therewith employ qualified consultants to advise the Council directly with respect to:

    (a) The formulated policy as prescribed by the Water Department for its capital program and capital budget and sinking fund requirements.

    (b) The economic soundness of operational methods, universal meter operations, bill collecting and accounts receivable procedures, inventory control and similar factors.

    (c) The reserves necessary to stabilize rates for 3, 4 and 5 year periods.

    (2) Standards for Rates and Charges. 2 Pursuant to Section 5-801 of the Charter, the Water Department shall fix and regulate rates and charges for supplying water, without further authorization of Council, in accordance with the following standards:

    (a) The rates and charges shall be such as shall yield to the City at least an amount equal to operating expenses, including interest and sinking fund charges on all obligations of the City in respect of the water system and, in respect of water and sewer revenue obligations of the City, such additional amounts as, together with additional amounts charged in respect of the City’s sewer system, shall be required to comply with any rate covenant and sinking fund reserve requirements approved by ordinance of Council in connection with the authorization or issuance of water and sewer revenue bonds, and proportionate charges for all services performed for the Water Department by all officers, departments, boards or commissions of the City.

    (b) The rates and charges shall yield not more than the total appropriation from the Water Fund to the Water Department and to all other departments, boards or commissions, plus a reasonable sum to cover unforeseeable or unusual expenses, reasonably anticipated cost increases or diminutions in expected revenue, less the cost of supplying water to City facilities and fire systems and, in addition, such amounts as, together with additional amounts charged in respect of the City’s sewer system, shall be required to comply with any rate covenant and sinking fund reserve requirements approved by ordinance of Council in connection with the authorization or issuance of water and sewer revenue bonds. Such rates and charges may provide for sufficient revenue to stabilize them over a reasonable number of years.

    (c) The rates and charges shall be equitably apportioned among the various classes of consumers.

    (d) The rates and charges shall be just, reasonable and nondiscriminatory as to the same class of consumers.

    (e) Special rates and charges, to be designated as “charity water rates and charges”, shall be established for public and private schools, institutions of purely public charity, and places used for actual religious worship.

    (f) Special rates and charges, to be designated as “public housing water rates and charges” shall be established for property of the Philadelphia Housing Authority and shall be set so that the Philadelphia Housing Authority receives a five percent (5%) reduction off of the Water Department’s service and quantity charges. 3

    (3) Notice of Proposed Changes. The Water Department shall give written notice to Council at least 30 days in advance of the filing of notice of any proposed change in rates or charges or of any proposed revision in service rates, and shall submit therewith financial, engineering and other data upon which the proposed water rates and charges are based. Proposed revisions of rates to be made within 90 days prior to the enactment of the next annual operating budget shall be submitted to Council forthwith. 4

    (4) Annual Report. Water rates and charges shall be reviewed by the Water Department at least once a year, and a report thereof shall be submitted to Council.

    For the entire code, all of which follows general revelation, see http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.dll/Pennsylvania/philadelphia_pa/thephiladelphiacode?fn=altmain-nf.htm$f=templates$3.0&vid=amlegal:philadelphia_pa

  131. dgh said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Tfan, it was Doug not Roger of whom I said his comment makes hay of the work of Christ. The reason is that Doug thinks Israel’s for of polity and legal code is the norm for all political entities. If you still think that Israel of the OT should exist after Christ has died, been raised, and ascended to heaven, you may need a little instruction on the epoch-making significance of the work of Christ.

  132. dgh said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Okay, Doug. I see your point. Paul could not appeal to the Roman authorities. But he could make of himself a pain in the neck to the Roman authorities — the way some do on blogs — about those authorities not executing adulterers. So why is it that Paul and Jesus himself do not complain an iota about the rulers under which they labored? And why would they commend those rulers to believers as lawfully ordained by God? Why, in other words, did they not follow your model of lamenting the evils of their society and the unfaithful rulers who would not implement God’s revealed will?

  133. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Tfan: think I may have reached a sticking pint.

    Can you try to re-word no. 2? I’m not sure I’m tracking with you. Are you saying that there are no other examples, that is, outside the OT case laws? Are you saying ‘let’s assume this for the argument here”? Or are you saying something else?

    I think I’ll need the clarification to see if I’m tracking on no. 3.

    If it is any help, I do like the history, at least as I understand it, of how Alfred the Great compiled the beginning of what we know as English common law. Beginning with a host of tribal laws (various Germanic tribes either under his authority or influence), he used the Deuteronomic expression as a filter, adjusting, and/or deleting the tribal law to fit the general equity of the Deuteronomic law.

    I won’t suggest it was perfect. I am quite pleased with the degree to which it approached the beauty of perfection this side of eternity.

  134. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Doug, no 132 from Darryl: I agree with Darryl here (as if that counts for much ;-)). The silence in the NT in this regard is quite deafening. There were plenty of places where even anecdotally Paul could have made comments affirming the kind of approach it sounds like you’re proposing.

  135. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    “If you still think that Israel of the OT should exist after Christ has died, been raised, and ascended to heaven, you may need a little instruction on the epoch-making significance of the work of Christ.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Israel of the OT,” but perhaps I do need your instruction if your theory is that the nation of Israel magically dissolved into a puff of smoke when Jesus ascended. If, on the other hand, Paul circumcised Timothy (Acts 16:3), kept a feast (Acts 18:21), and kept the law (Acts 21:24), then perhaps you’ve misunderstood the true marvel that the apostles explored in Acts, particularly in Acts 2 and 15.

    The Gentiles now enjoy blessings that were previously only given to the Jews.

    To be clear though: judgment and destruction did eventually come to the Jewish nation. It is gone.

    -TurretinFan

  136. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    I do find it sad and disturbing that DGH thinks that Philadelphia’s water codes are revealed by God.

    -TurretinFan

  137. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Reed:

    Re: #2, let me explain. We have lots of different sets of laws. We have the Philadelphia water code, we have the laws of the Romans, we have the Code of Hammurabi, and we have laws of many other nations as well.

    We have all those laws, but from all of the laws we have, there is only one example where we can say that we know God approves of these laws as complying with His natural law. That one set of laws are the Mosaic laws. God doesn’t say, “These comply with the Natural Law,” but we can deduce that, since God made the laws and since God calls the laws good. Thus, where the laws do the work of the Natural Law (where they occupy the field in which Natural Law is relevant), they do not contradict it – they comply with it.

    Thus, it is prudent for those writing a civil code that aims to comply to begin not with the Philly water code, or the Code of Hammurabi, but with the Mosaic law. I’m not saying that we end the consideration there, nor am I saying that we must begin the consideration there, but rather that it is prudent to do so.

    Does that track with your understanding as well?

    -TurretinFan

  138. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Reed:

    Let me play silence’s advocate. The apostles made a big deal about letting the Gentiles know that they were not bound by ceremonial law. I think their silence regarding abrogation of the civil law is deafening.

    But rather than relying on that logically invalid argument from silence (equally as invalid, from a logical standpoint as DGH’s), let me provide you with an argument about silence.

    On the other hand, the Apostles don’t even bother to make infant baptism explicit in so many words. I don’t know about you, but I think that infant baptism is more important than just civil government. So, I’m not overly surprised that the apostles did not find time to specifically reaffirm what was already taught in the Old Testament regarding the duties of the civil magistrate, when they didn’t provide us with explicit comments in exhaustive detail regarding the sacrament of faith.

    -TurretinFan

  139. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Tfan: that it is wise for the civil magistrate to at least consider the OT case laws? Or are you saying more than this? I’m confused by the words “prudent,” qualified by “begin with.” You seem to suggest prudence is opposed to those that do not begin with the Mosaic law, but then you say you’re not saying we must begin with the Mosaic law. “Not begin” and “begin” are throwing me a bit.

    I agree with the notion (to re-word hopefully consistently with your point) that the OT case laws, filtered by the general equity principle, are most consistent with the kinds of civil laws to be used in a fallen world for God’s purposes.

    I

  140. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    You may have broken off mid-comment (that “I” is not your usual signature), but let me try to provide some further clarification by backing up.

    You wrote: “I agree with the notion (to re-word hopefully consistently with your point) that the OT case laws, filtered by the general equity principle, are most consistent with the kinds of civil laws to be used in a fallen world for God’s purposes.”

    That leaves me scratching my head a little. Maybe it’s just a difference in the way you and I phrase things, so let me go back a step or two to make sure that I haven’t passed you going the other direction without knowing it.

    I think you and I agree:

    1) Civil government, like family government, is an office ordained by God.

    2) It is possible for civil government to govern as it ought or as it ought not.

    3) In other words, civil government is not inherently evil and moral principles govern at least some of the functions of civil government (governing principles of civil magistracy, or GPCM for short).

    4) The Mosaic laws complied with GPCM.

    5) Scripture does not tell us, explicitly or implicitly, whether any other set of laws complies with GPCM.

    6) There’s a caveat to (5). To the extent that Scripture reveals to us what the GPCM are, then we can apply those GPCM to other sets of laws.

    Do those things seem agreeable?

    -TurretinFan

  141. Zrim said,

    February 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I don’t know about you, but I think that infant baptism is more important than just civil government. So, I’m not overly surprised that the apostles did not find time to specifically reaffirm what was already taught in the Old Testament regarding the duties of the civil magistrate, when they didn’t provide us with explicit comments in exhaustive detail regarding the sacrament of faith.

    Or maybe the apostle did not take the time to specifically reaffirm what was already taught in the Old Testament regarding the duties of the civil magistrate because he used that time to instead prescribe to the church on the duties of being obedient to the magistrate, and along the way describe the civil magistrate as he who is appointed to God to punish evil and reward good. So, while there may be an argument from silence (the apostles didn’t rebuke their rulers, etc.), there is also one from speech, as in Romans 13:1-7.

    But I do agree that sacramentology is more important to the mission of the church than whether or not there is a just civil government. And that the sign and seal has changed from circumcision to baptism and includes females helps to make the point that the new covenant is radically different from the old. So where male only circumcision is transformed into unisex baptism, the theocratic concern of the magistrate’s obedience to God shifts to the exilic concern of the believer’s obedience to the magistrate.

    P.S. I’m not saying this is you, Tfan, but I do find it interesting that many anti-2kers, both credo and paedo, who are particularly worried about justice problems in the civil realm seem to also be sacramental latitudinarians (“Bapterians”). They seem to be concerned to bring the Bible to bear on civil life more than on ecclesial life. So they get together to fight socio-political imperfections while tolerating each other’s sacramental deviancies. To my mind, it should be the other way around.

  142. Neal said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    @Zrim, 129 – Neal, first, I hate to seem so exacting but, once again, it isn’t that we “can’t” apply SR to the public square, rather that we don “have to.” This seems to be an important difference.

    Yes, but I get the idea that there is more to it than this. I get the feeling that when you say “we don’t have to” that what you really mean is “we shouldn’t”. Otherwise I can’t for the life of me figure out what all the fuss is about.

    Second, what I am responding to is what I think is a premise in less-than-2k thinking, namely that perfection is the goal.

    Well I would think that perfection would certainly be the goal of any endeavor, but there is a difference between seeking perfection and expecting to achieve it. Perfection is certainly the goal in personal sanctification, wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t you also agree that we should actively seek it, even though we know that we will not attain it this side of glory?

    GR + SR will not give us a better public square because sinful human beings still comprise it.

    And your support for this argument is what? That we can’t perfect it doesn’t mean it can’t be made better. What’s your argument that sinful human beings are incapable of applying SR to make society better (not perfect)? Your argument would also undercut usage of GR as well.

    Frankly, I count it religious fantasy to think that somehow we can expect to circumvent the effects of our sin by adding the Bible to civil projects. It actually betrays a dangerous view of sin.

    Let’s try to be a little more charitable, shall we?

    Because that is the appropriate application. Those are the rules. I didn’t write them.

    The question was rhetorical. But I think your answer here betrays how you like to frame the debate. I’m not even really sure any more what exactly it is that you believe with regard to the applicability of SR to the civil sphere. In your comments above you seem to be allowing that it might be okay.

  143. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    dgh says: And why would they commend those rulers to believers as lawfully ordained by God? Why, in other words, did they not follow your model of lamenting the evils of their society and the unfaithful rulers who would not implement God’s revealed will?

    ME: Why belabor the obvious? John the baptist told a pagan king, that his taking of his brothers wife was unlawful. What Law do you suppose Herod was breaking?

  144. TurretinFan said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Or maybe the apostle did not take the time to specifically reaffirm what was already taught in the Old Testament regarding the duties of the civil magistrate because he used that time to instead prescribe to the church on the duties of being obedient to the magistrate, and along the way describe the civil magistrate as he who is appointed to God to punish evil and reward good.

    Yes, right. I should have mentioned that as well. He does mentions he civil magistrate, and he calls him the minister of God, and he describes the magistrates duties at a high level (punishing evil and rewarding good).

    -TurretinFan

  145. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    On the other hand, my brothers; what is preferable, credo baptism, or abortion? I think I would rather live in a Nation that feared God, and got the baptism question wrong, than live in a Nation that has torn the judicial Law of God apart, like it was a scrap of paper, and could legalize abortion.

  146. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I agree with Meredith Kline 100%! The choice is stark; either we accept his “intrusion ethic” coupled with his *dubious* view of common grace; or call yourself Theonomic. It’s really that simple; all of our hero’s of the Reformed faith were theonomic, even Kline knew that. I’ll gladly take the later!

  147. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Zrim says:

    There is a seperation of Church and State to which Greg Bahnsen would agree. And no one thinks all we need to do, is plop down the Bible, and have easy answers. We do not. But as a general rule of thumb, I would say, that the Civil Magistrate punishes evil doers, of the like in which Paul mentions in 1 Tim 1:8-11. Those are crimes that should be left up to the Magistrate.

    And for matters like baptism, we let the Church handle it. I am pedo baptist all the way, yet I know some brothers in Christ, that have studied the Bible far more than me, that disagree. I believe that’s not an issue for Civil Government to meddle in, just yet. There may be a time, “thousands of years from now”, when it’s a settled issue. So I am uncomfortable with government sticking it’s nose into church polity.

  148. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    TFan, no 140.: no, the “I” was just an “oops, I’m late for my appointment!” hitting the [post comment] button without spell checking sufficiently.

    All sounds good except for one quibble on no. 5. It may or may not be material to the case you’re trying to make. I think Rom. 2, whatever it means concerning the Gentile’s knowledge of the “law,” at least necessarily means that there is some valid knowledge of the law apart from Scripture. Admittedly this needs qualification (what “law”, how known, etc.), but I think this might be an exception to your no. 5.

    If it is not material to where were going, I’m still following.

  149. Reed Here said,

    February 7, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Doug: rather anachronistic comment about the heroes. It is never proper form to label a historical figure/position with a later position. Show similarities, o.k., but to equate one with the other simply goes to far.

  150. Doug Sowers said,

    February 7, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    “Quick question dgh.” What are the morally relevant changes in our society today that make adultery no longer a DP crime?

  151. dgh said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:30 am

    People keep trying to draw a line between baptism and the civil magistrate. Because the NT is silent on the civil magistrate, and because the NT is relatively silent about baptism, we may presume that the OT is still in force. Silence, in other words, means that expectations for the civil magistrate from the OT still apply.

    But the relative silence of the NT on infant baptism does away with circumcision (as a rite for the covenant community).

    And so the relative silence of the NT on the civil magistrate does away with OT expectations for the magistrate.

    The appeal to silence regarding infant baptism makes no sense because that silence did away with a pattern established in the OT. In other words, if the relative silence of the NT leaves you with change — from circumcision to baptism — the relative silence of the NT also means change from Israel’s government to Rom. 13.

  152. dgh said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Doug, quick answer, none. The reason for the change is the Bible’s teaching. And your appeal to John and Herod avoids the question of Paul in Corinth. Why didn’t Paul call on the Corinthian Christians to oust the pagan rulers and institute a biblical magistrate who would execute those caught incest? Paul’s failure makes him as unfaithful, in your eyes, as I am.

  153. dgh said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:34 am

    I find it amazing that Tfan believes Philadelphia’s laws exist in a morally neutral realm independent of God.

  154. paigebritton said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Zrim (#96):
    …to think that redeemed believers are specially endowed to preserve culture in a way that unredeemed creatures aren’t is odd. We are endowed to be a witness and hold out the unfettered gospel, but how that is the same as preserving culture doesn’t register.

    Re. my “Jeff Cagle-ish” via media, which I do not see as pc-2K, anti-2K, or embarrassing transformationalism:

    You asked how it is that we are salt and light and “preservers” of culture. I very much don’t want to go sixty rounds on this, as it’s beside the point of the theonomy discussion, and I know how it turns out. So I offer this as a partial answer, and you can have the last deconstructive word.

    Did you see my post a little while ago on the “Worldview Tree,” a graphic organizer for sketching systems of thought? One of the questions you answer on that tree is:

    WHAT IS A HUMAN BEING?

    Different systems answer this in different ways, and the answers very much determine the state of the culture under that governing system (“governing” being both literally “government” and “the way people in general think about things”).

    We are salt and light, “preservers” of culture, in the thousands upon thousands of ways we are able to give a biblical answer to the question WHAT IS A HUMAN BEING?

    ….over against (for example):

    Philosophical naturalism
    Anarchy and nihilism
    Nero’s Rome
    Communist China
    Liberal theology
    Animism
    Buddhism
    Neoplatonism
    Existentialism
    Shintoism
    Cannibalism
    Soviet-era atheism
    Islam
    Apartheid
    New Age thought
    Wicca
    Pantheism
    Secular humanism
    American chattel slavery
    Etc. etc. etc.

    We are salt and light, “preservers” of culture, BECAUSE we speak and act in love from the solid ground of Special Revelation, preserving the humans who make that culture. HOW we speak and act this love will depend, if we are wise as serpents, on the situation.

  155. Roger du Barry said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:41 am

    dgh: Why, in other words, did they not follow your model of lamenting the evils of their society and the unfaithful rulers who would not implement God’s revealed will?

    Addressed to Doug, but if I may cut in …

    The Lord Jesus constantly attacked the rulers of Israel for failing to obey the law of Moses. Remember the woes? They were hypocrites because they observed the little things and disobeyed the big things.

    Moreover, the Lord commanded his followers to do the things that they were commanded to do by these rulers because they sat on Moses’ seat. That does not look like the Lord undermining the law at all. Indeed, it is theonomy if it is anything.

    He also commanded the witnesses to stone the woman taken in adultery, stipulating that it has to be the witnesses first according to the law, and that they had to be upright morally themselves, which is the meaning of being without sin, and also a requirement of the law.

    Being hypocrites they turned away. But if they had been righteous like Joseph, Simeon, Hannah, and Mary, who are called righteous in scripture, the woman would have died there.

  156. Roger du Barry said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:44 am

    dgh: But the relative silence of the NT on infant baptism does away with circumcision (as a rite for the covenant community).

    That is a Baptist argument, and it is completely wrong. Peter explicitly commanded that our children be baptised.

    Acts 2:38   Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

  157. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:22 am

    DGH wrote: “I find it amazing that Tfan believes Philadelphia’s laws exist in a morally neutral realm independent of God.”

    Thankfully, I don’t believe that. I believe that they are an expression of man’s rebellion against God, like all of man’s sinful deeds. But DGH refers to them as “laws from General Revelation.”

    -TurretinFan

  158. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I am in the process of creating a list of arguments that DGH makes over and over again in this discussion. One of them is his argument that if you believe what the WCF 1646 or 39 Articles or Belgic Confession (1561) teach (not to mention if you hold to what B*hns*n or R*shd**n*y taught), then to be consistent you also need to seek to overthrow the regime under which you currently live. It’s an argument that is so utterly irrational that it either demonstrates ignorance or malice. Here’s an example:

    Doug, quick answer, none. The reason for the change is the Bible’s teaching. And your appeal to John and Herod avoids the question of Paul in Corinth. Why didn’t Paul call on the Corinthian Christians to oust the pagan rulers and institute a biblical magistrate who would execute those caught incest? Paul’s failure makes him as unfaithful, in your eyes, as I am.

    I wish DGH could be made to see that basic integrity requires him to leave such arguments out of the conversation – just like his argument that his opponent “makes hay out of Christ’s work,” but sadly he continues to use these kinds of arguments.

    -TurretinFan

  159. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:40 am

    “But the relative silence of the NT on infant baptism does away with circumcision (as a rite for the covenant community).”

    No. Acts 15 and the book of Galatians are positive declarations about that subject, and they themselves are not based on relative silence of the NT, but on the positive prophesies of the Old Testament (as well as additional positive confirmation in the New Testament). So, your premise is utterly wrong.

    – TurretinFan

  160. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Reed:

    1) Agreed that there is at least some knowledge of the law of God in the hearts of unregenerate men.

    2) They, however, have become “vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” and “even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind” and they are described as “without understanding” even though it is still said that they “know[] the judgment of God.” (Romans 1)

    3) So, although God has shown men his law and written it on their hearts, we cannot move from there to a conclusion that any specific set of laws, written by unregenerate men, comply with the governing principles of civil magistracy, or GPCM for short.

    4) That appears to leave us in the position that the Mosaic laws are the only laws that we know complied with GPCM. I say “complied,” because I want to leave open (for now) the possibility that there are circumstances that would require different laws now than then.

    Does that seem acceptable?

    -TurretinFan

  161. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:18 am

    TFan, no. 157: it sounds like you believe that unregenerate man are unable to do anything good or right? Not just that they are unable to do anything that is morally acceptable to God, but that any action they take is so tainted by their fallen nature as to make it absolutely bankrupt.

    It almost sounds like you disagree with the Westminster Confession’s notion of relative good (WCF 16.7) that the unregenerate are able to do.

    Am I misreading you?

  162. Zrim said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I get the feeling that when you say “we don’t have to” that what you really mean is “we shouldn’t”. Otherwise I can’t for the life of me figure out what all the fuss is about.

    Neal, you may be hearing me saying “shouldn’t” when I say “may” because you presume “should” and anything less than “should” means “shouldn’t.” But you may notice that “may” is actually the nuanced position over against the legal secularist “mayn’t” and the theonmic “should.” And the fuss may be that for all the accusations that 2k is extremist it may be that the premise of “anything less than should is shouldn’t” is the black and white view.

    Well I would think that perfection would certainly be the goal of any endeavor, but there is a difference between seeking perfection and expecting to achieve it. Perfection is certainly the goal in personal sanctification, wouldn’t you agree? Wouldn’t you also agree that we should actively seek it, even though we know that we will not attain it this side of glory?

    I don’t see that seeking perfection and expecting it are mutually exclusive at all, no. But the question is when to expect it and how to achieve it. My answer is at the return of Christ and by his hand alone. In the meantime we wait and make due. And I think you are quite onto something by suggesting that views of sanctification are relevant here. I take the view that the target of God’s sanctifying project presently is the imago Dei only (individual and corporate), not wider creation. I do think there is a parallel between how one views personal sanctification and worldly improvement. It could be that the relative eagerness one shows about improving the world in the here and now is the social version of personal prosperity gospel: impatience with imperfection and suggestions that proximate justice, like proximate personal success, is all we can and should expect here and now.

    And your support for this argument [GR + SR will not give us a better public square because sinful human beings still comprise it] is what? That we can’t perfect it doesn’t mean it can’t be made better. What’s your argument that sinful human beings are incapable of applying SR to make society better (not perfect)? Your argument would also undercut usage of GR as well.

    The argument is the doctrine of sin and total depravity. I think if that is properly in place we’d see that we do a lot more value and virtue in preserving and maintaining than improving and bettering.

    Doug (#147), are you saying that sacramental theology is not a settled issue? But the Reformed confess that it is. In fact, it rises to the level of indicating true churches from less than true. Your latitudinarian slip is showing, the one I find amongst lots of theonomists and transformers who want the church to have an intolerant theocratic posture toward the outside world and a tolerant exilic posture toward the church. 2k is saying it should be the other way around: intolerant theocratic posture within the church and a tolerant exilic posture toward the outside world. Which means things like credo-baptism and paedocommunionism are to cause stir, not RvW or Prop 8.

    Paige (#154), yes, I did see your “Worldview Tree” post, but not to be dismissive 2k isn’t wild about worldviewism.

    If you’re saying that there is a Christian doctrine of man and creation that is distinct from any other doctrine of the same then I am quite agreed. But if you’re saying that such doctrines are needed to actually do preserve or cultivate creation well, not so much. Unbelievers do earth very well all the time, even if they hold to doctrines of creation we reject. When Daniel went to the University of Babylon and the text clearly teaches received a world-class education, even as the underpinning doctrines were as pagan as anything on your pagan list. Indeed, there are plenty who do not have a Reformed doctrine of sin and yet seem to have a better grasp on sin than those that do.

  163. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:22 am

    TFan, no. 158: I disagree. Darryl has already explained why he makes such “what’s the end in view” arguments. It is because his position receives criticism from his opponents that is based on “what is the end in view arguments.” It is quite simple, what is good for the goos is also good from the gander. If its right for his opponents to criticize him using such arguments than it is right for him to use such arguments to criticize their position.

    I actually agree with you, if you were simply to observe, that such arguments are weak. But then, knowing Darryl’s debating techniques I suspect he would agree as well. I don’t think he uses such arguments to make hay. I think he make them simply to deny his opponents the appearance of making hay using the same kinds of arguments.

    Of course, that’s just opinion of mine. Darryl can answer for himself if he wishes.

  164. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:41 am

    TFan, no. 160: may have hit a snag. I’m comfortable with 1,2, and 4, but not as they’re modified by no. 3. To be sure that is an inference of no. 2. Yet I think other Scriptures inform us and tell us that this inference is not a good and necessary consequence to conclude.

    WCF 16.7 lists the following passages as those which, “Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands; and of good use both to themselves and others:

    II Kings 10:30-31; I Kings 21:27, 29; Luke 6:32-34; 18:2-7; see Rom. 13:4

    I’m particularly taken by Rom. 2:14: “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.”

    It seems to me that this verse at least denies that your no. 3 inference is necessary.

  165. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Reed:

    re: #163

    Two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s not right when DGH’s opponents egregiously misrepresent him, and it’s not right when he does it to others.

    -TurretinFan

  166. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Reed:

    I’m confused. How does a general statement about the ability of men to do morally compliant acts (from a wrong motive) lead us to identify any specific set of laws as compliant with GPCM?

    I think that all that such a general statement can tell us is that it is possible for a set of human laws to comply with GPCM. It doesn’t tell us which set of human laws complies, and it certainly doesn’t tell us that all, most, or even any complete set does comply.

    Now, let’s assume that GPCM includes the proposition “the magistrate must punish premeditated murder of adults.” Lots of human laws have that feature and consequently comply with that aspect of GPCM. That seems to mesh with our expectation drawn from WCF 16:6-7 (which in turn comes from Scripture). In other words, although men are sinners, and although they do nothing morally neutral (in fact, all is sin) nevertheless they sometimes comply with the outward aspects of the law of God.

    Viewed in that light, does (3) seem acceptable?

    -TurretinFan

  167. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Tfan, no. 165: I guess the difference is that I don’t think “what is the end in view” challenges are necessarily wrong. I do agree that most of those thrown at Darryl and quite a few of the ones he throws back do appear to be rather pedantic and unhelpful to the conversation. If I could get both side agree with my obvious wisdom, they’d all cease and desist. Yet, as that’s not going to happen, I’ll take the poor in hopes of finding a gem.

    One application of this means I don’t disagree with a comment from you delineating the flaws in Darryl’s arguments like this. It may very well clear away some fluff. I only disagree with labeling all such arguments as wrong.

  168. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Tfan, no 166: my quibble is with the language that sounds as if you’re denying a possibility that is an actuality. Your premeditated murder example clears up that this is not what you mean.

    May I then offer this re-wording of no. 3:

    3) So, although God has shown men his law and written it on their hearts, we cannot move from there to a conclusion that any specific set of laws, written by unregenerate men, perfectly comply with the governing principles of civil magistracy, or GPCM for short. (perfectly added).

    Move forward? (Appreciate your willingness to patiently bear with me).

  169. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:51 am

    re: 167, I hear what you’re saying.

    re: 168, I don’t disagree, but I think my (3) should be reworded, because I think I see an ambiguity in what I wrote originally.

    Let me try this, imagine someone arguing that because men can outwardly obey the law, therefore Hitler outwardly obeyed the law, and consequently the laws of Nazi Germany complied with GPCM.

    Our imaginary person is making a mistake. It does not follow from the general principle that people can outwardly comply, that Hitler did in fact outwardly comply.

    And, in fact, the selection of “Hitler” and “Nazi Germany” are simply arbitrary. From a logical standpoint, the same is true if you say
    – “Calvin” and “Geneva” or
    – “Pontius Pilate” and “Jerusalem” or
    – “Roosevelt” and “America” or
    – “Stalin” and “USSR.” or even
    – “Marquis de Sade” and “Sade March.”

    In any specific case, it does not follow from the general principle that the laws of that particular person/place comply. We could say, “that they perfectly comply,” or we could say “that any individual law complies.”

    The opposite is also true: we cannot conclude that because Stalin, Hitler, or the Marquis de Sade were particularly depraved men that all of their laws did not comply.

    So, your modified (3) is correct, but we could even take it a step further and say that we can’t infer from the general principle alone that any of those sets of laws mostly or mainly complies. Or to phrase it differently, we can’t know from the general principle alone that there are any “good” examples of human laws. To put it negatively, if every example of human laws that have is a bad example, that would not mean that the general principle is wrong. Furthermore, even if there are some good examples, the general principle doesn’t tell us look to the 14th century Chinese laws as a good example, or to 17th century Geneva, or to 18th-19th century France.

    So, even taking into account the general principle that not all human laws are necessarily outwardly non-compliant, there is only one set of laws that we know is a good example.

    Does that seem agreeable?

    -TurretinFan

  170. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 11:28 am

    TFan: ah, I think I’m getting some glimmers of where we are going. :)

    I don’t think I agree with your “step further.” I think that Rom. 2:14 (et.al.) doES not tell us that we can conclude to what degree a particular civil law complies. I do think that this verse (et.al.) tellS us that such laws are “good enough” for God’s purposes for civil law. That is, Rom. 2:14 tells us:

    > that the civil magistrate does not have to consult the Mosaic law (filtered by the general equity principle),
    > in order to get civil laws that sufficient for God’s eschatalogical purposes.

    He may, and I think the Bible teaches that such a course (consulting the Bible) actually proffers temporal blessings on a nation that does so. (Some OT prophecy contains principles to this end, I think). Nevertheless, the civil magistrate does not need to consult, and can still achieve a sufficiently just/equitable result.

    I think we may be moving here into territory where differences in understanding the eschatalogical purposes of the nations begin to separate us. But if you think we can move forward without my agreement to your alone qualification, let’s do so.

    So no, I don’t think we can conclude that the Mosaic case laws are the only good examples we can know. The only perfect examples, yes, but they are not the only good examples, even after filtered by the general equity principle.

    E.g., historical some form of murder has been met with capital punishment at some point in the vast majority of the nations in history. Most of these came up with this civil law without any knowledge/exposure to the Mosaic law. These are examples of non-consulted civil laws that are good and sufficient.

  171. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 11:55 am

    @dgh in Daniel 2:44 God predicts:

    “And in the days of those kings (Roman Empire) the God of heaven will not set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people (I see this next verse as crucial) It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand and that it broke in pieces the iron the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.”

    Notice how God sees a battle raging between his kingdom, and all opposing kingdoms. God promises that his kingdom will prevail throughout history progressively destroying his enemies. How did God’s kingdom crush Rome? It took over a hundred years, for God’s judgment to fall, but in God’s perfect time Rome was judged and destroyed. By what standard was Rome judged? The ten words, no? All opposing rulers are now commanded to repent and confess that Jesus is Lord! This means that Jesus is Lord over civil laws, for there can be no neutrality. Really Dr Hart, I don’t know why you can’t just say amen, and move on. How can any nation glorify God, if it’s not founded on the Rock of God’s word? Doesn’t Daniel 2 make that clear? Christ’s kingdom will destroy all competing systems, until every nation makes the good confession. See Psalm 72

  172. Neal said,

    February 8, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    @Zrim, 162 – But you may notice that “may” is actually the nuanced position over against the legal secularist “mayn’t” and the theonmic “should.” And the fuss may be that for all the accusations that 2k is extremist it may be that the premise of “anything less than should is shouldn’t” is the black and white view.

    Then you agree that that you have no argument with those who think we can supplement GR with SR in the civil realm? If that is so, then I am certainly glad to hear that.

    Although I do have a question about this “may” position. It would certainly seem odd and inconsistent that God would explicitly give us laws that we “may” apply if we so desire, but it is not required.

    I don’t see that seeking perfection and expecting it are mutually exclusive at all, no. But the question is when to expect it and how to achieve it. My answer is at the return of Christ and by his hand alone.

    As is mine. I thought I made that clear, when I said “Wouldn’t you also agree that we should actively seek it, even though we know that we will not attain it this side of glory?”

    Your problem seems to be with the “seeking it” part.

    In the meantime we wait and make due.

    What does this mean? Are you saying that man’s role in sanctification is passive?

    I take the view that the target of God’s sanctifying project presently is the imago Dei only (individual and corporate), not wider creation.

    I would agree, but there are also fruits of sanctification that would have relevance to the wider creation.

    I do think there is a parallel between how one views personal sanctification and worldly improvement. It could be that the relative eagerness one shows about improving the world in the here and now is the social version of personal prosperity gospel: impatience with imperfection and suggestions that proximate justice, like proximate personal success, is all we can and should expect here and now.

    Here is where I am scratching my head. On the one hand, you say that we “may” apply SR to the civil realm, but what you give with one hand you take away with the other with suggestions that doing so amounts to the social version of the prosperity gospel. I take this as your saying that we “mayn’t” lest we be guilty of promoting a social prosperity gospel.

  173. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Hi Reed:

    You wrote:

    I don’t think I agree with your “step further.” I think that Rom. 2:14 (et.al.) doES not tell us that we can conclude to what degree a particular civil law complies. I do think that this verse (et.al.) tellS us that such laws are “good enough” for God’s purposes for civil law.

    Perhaps I don’t follow you here. It sounds to me like you could be saying either:

    1) Romans 2:14 (and other verses) provide us with additional examples of sets of laws that comply. Specifically, they say that the laws of the Romans in the mid-1st century, or perhaps those of the Medes and the Persians (around the time of the exile), or the Egyptian laws (during the period of enslavement) comply with the GPCM.

    or

    2) Romans 2:14 (and other verses) provide us with additional standards by which we can judge whether any given law or set of laws complies with the GPCM.

    Is one or both of those what you are saying?

    -TurretinFan

  174. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Tfan: more focused, Rom. 2:14 tells us that:

    > Civil nations can come up with civil law that are uniformed by the Mosaic law,
    > Which nevertheless sufficiently comply with GPCM for God’s eschatalogical purposes for the nations.

    The word “sufficiently” is particularly defined and nuanced by my understanding of God’s eschatalogical purposes for the nations. (Here I think my theonomic brothers will disagree with me). Sufficiency is defined by God’s purposes.If God’s purposes required 100% compliance with GPCM then I’d follow you. I don’t think this is the case.

    This is not to say that any or all such laws of such nations do in fact sufficiently comply with even this “God’s purposes” modified GPCM. E.g., I’d echo Roger duBarry’s horror that the U.S. is the only western nation that still has capital punishment laws on the books. it is to say that there can be (and I believe there are) examples of civil laws that sufficiently comply with GPCM, laws which were arrived at without consideration of any biblical input.

    Again, the rather historical universal example of some forms of murder being met with capital punishment is an example of this. Each individual law will be more or less consistent with the biblical examples of the same. Yet such deficiencies do not detract from their sufficiency for God’s purposes.

  175. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Zrim, you’ve got me confused. On one hand you say;

    You say the Magistrate is responsible for punishing the second table, but then say, “no DP for homosexuals”? How does that jibe? It seems inescapable that you have a different standard of justice for the second table as well, no?

  176. Neal said,

    February 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Zrim said: The argument is the doctrine of sin and total depravity. I think if that is properly in place we’d see that we do a lot more value and virtue in preserving and maintaining than improving and bettering.

    I’m going to agree with you in in as much as the law of God is all about preserving. When I talk about “improving” or “bettering” society, I’m not talking about some utopian dreams. I’m talking about applying God’s law for the purpose of preserving, e.g. life, respect for God, etc. In a fallen world, the natural course of society is depredation. God’s law preserves.

  177. Zrim said,

    February 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Then you agree that that you have no argument with those who think we can supplement GR with SR in the civil realm? If that is so, then I am certainly glad to hear that.

    Although I do have a question about this “may” position. It would certainly seem odd and inconsistent that God would explicitly give us laws that we “may” apply if we so desire, but it is not required.

    Neal, glad to make you glad. As to your lingering question on “may,” think of it this way: the sixth and second greatest commandments are written both on the human heart and in the Bible. There is no need to pull out the Bible to tell people what they already know by nature. Unless maybe one wants to make some sort of unspoken point beyond what those two commandments convey, namely that Jesus is Lord over all the earth. But again, I don’t really care if anybody confesses that in the common realm so long as they behave as if that’s true.

    I said, “I don’t see that seeking perfection and expecting it are mutually exclusive at all, no. But the question is when to expect it and how to achieve it. My answer is at the return of Christ and by his hand alone.”

    To which you responded, As is mine. I thought I made that clear, when I said “Wouldn’t you also agree that we should actively seek it, even though we know that we will not attain it this side of glory?” Your problem seems to be with the “seeking it” part.

    Yes, but it seems like what you give with one hand you take away with the other. If social and political perfection really do come at the return of Christ and by his hand alone why would we actively seek it by our efforts in the here and now? If approximate justice is the only thing we can expect in the here and now, and by own efforts, then shouldn’t we be seeking that?

    What does this mean? [In the meantime we wait and make due]. Are you saying that man’s role in sanctification is passive?

    I am saying that our sanctification is indeed God’s work alone. While the law is the structure of our sanctification, the Spirit is its power. So we are active insofar as we attend the means of grace and keep the law, but we are passive insofar as God is the one who is inwardly sanctifying us. Sanctification, like justification is by grace alone through faith alone.

    I said, “I do think there is a parallel between how one views personal sanctification and worldly improvement. It could be that the relative eagerness one shows about improving the world in the here and now is the social version of personal prosperity gospel: impatience with imperfection and suggestions that proximate justice, like proximate personal success, is all we can and should expect here and now.”

    To which you responded, Here is where I am scratching my head. On the one hand, you say that we “may” apply SR to the civil realm, but what you give with one hand you take away with the other with suggestions that doing so amounts to the social version of the prosperity gospel. I take this as your saying that we “mayn’t” lest we be guilty of promoting a social prosperity gospel.

    What I am actually trying to say is that efforts to use SR in the civil realm seem to be ways to circumvent human sin and the realities of its effect on our world. Your own words were to the effect that if we use SR in the civil realm it will make the world better. And I am saying that’s just not true. And it sounds very similar to how prosperity gospelers tell us if we would just use the Bible more often in our personal lives we’d have better lives. Sorry, still not true. The Bible doesn’t circumvent and overcome the effects of human sin in either our own personal lives or our social and political lives. Yes, we may apply the Bible to our individual and social lives, but the expectation that this will improve matters is pure fantasy. I know you find that language uncharitable, but I wonder if you think it uncharitable to tell health and wealthers that they peddle pure religious fantasy? My guess is that you don’t have much tolerance for them. So why do you tolerate the idea that the Bible will better society when you (I presume) are intolerant if the message that it will make people’s individual lives better?

    And, so, I can’t help but wonder why so many Reformed give Pentecostals such a hard time about personal health and wealth gospel when they tolerate the same principles informing social and political health and wealth. Sometimes I think it’s a case of “You can’t because you’re you, but we can because we’re us.”

  178. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Reed:

    God used the Sanhedrin and the Romans to crucify Christ, agreed?

    -TurretinFan

  179. Zrim said,

    February 8, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    You say the Magistrate is responsible for punishing the second table, but then say, “no DP for homosexuals”? How does that jibe? It seems inescapable that you have a different standard of justice for the second table as well, no?

    Doug, as I have maintained, the only crime worthy of death is the one found in the Noahic covenant: murder. That’s in the second table (sixth). Do you also want death for disobedient kids (fifth)? Oh my. But, again, if a civil magistrate wants to dole out death for homosexuality and juvenile disobedience, ok. But I don’t think we find that in the creational order and so it’s bad law (remember, I can live with proximate justice). It was in the redemptive order, but that has completely changed, and I still don’t think your theonomy grasps that at all.

  180. Zrim said,

    February 8, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    When I talk about “improving” or “bettering” society, I’m not talking about some utopian dreams. I’m talking about applying God’s law for the purpose of preserving, e.g. life, respect for God, etc. In a fallen world, the natural course of society is depredation. God’s law preserves.

    That’s fine, Neal, as far is it goes. But I just find that those who talk about improving and bettering actually mean that and tend to have an almost visceral response to the idea that maintaining is not only different from improving but that maintenance should be pursued. So, if you mean preserving, cultivating and maintaining why do you talk of improving and bettering?

  181. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Tfan: uhh, yeah! Seriously, that’s kind of given in history.

  182. Paul said,

    February 8, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    “Doug, as I have maintained, the only crime worthy of death is the one found in the Noahic covenant: murder.”

    So are those penalties that dole out the DP for murder-for-hire cases unjust?

    “But, again, if a civil magistrate wants to dole out death for homosexuality and juvenile disobedience, ok. But I don’t think we find that in the creational order and so it’s bad law”

    This kind of reasoning is what spawns the mischaracterizations of natural law. Natural Law isn’t “if we do/don’t find it in nature it’s therefore bad/good.”

    Anyway, this argument is certainly missing some key premises. In the hope of persuading others, not making assertions, and presenting good reasons for conclusions, would you care to derive your conclusion from your premise:

    [1] It is not the case that we find [the death penalty for homosexuality] in the creational order.

    _________________

    [2] So, [the death penalty for homosexuality] is a bad law.

    It not at all clear how [2] follows from [1], and since the purpose of discourse here is to persuade the other side, or present objective reasons for your own side, would you mind spelling this out?

  183. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Reed:

    And yet this was a great sin and injustice, as evidenced by:

    Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

    Matthew 27:24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

    Agreed?

    -TurretinFan

  184. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Zrim says:

    Me: Once again Zrim, you disparage, mock, and ridicule the Law of God! Of course I want the DP for disobedient kids, the way God intended for it to be carried out! We must look to the case law, to define what a disobedient child was, that was worthy of death… Children that are drunkards and gluttons, who beat up there parents, are to be put to death! (At least in there late teens or early twenties) How dare you say, “oh my”? Your assertion presupposes that God’s law was either stupid, Neanderthal, inane, or just too harsh for today’s standards. “Oh my”, you say?! Did you really think I wouldn’t see threw your double talk? You’re mocking of God’ judicial law is very troubling; if not down right abominable! The greatest irony is, the only time our Lord Jesus mentioned the DP was in Matt 15 starting with the first verse, and Jesus condemns the Jews for what???? Not executing rebellious children!! Out of the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ; you’re busted. “Oh my”!

  185. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Question for Zrim! How would we define “murder” if not for God’s case law? Must we execute someone for accidentaly killing someone? How about if someone dies, in a fair fight? If it were not for God’s case law, we wouldnt have a standard to define murder!!!

  186. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Doug said Question for Zrim! How would we define “murder” if not for God’s case law? Must we execute someone for accidentaly killing someone? How about if someone dies, in a fair fight? If it were not for God’s case law, we wouldnt have a standard to define murder!!!

    Doug, once again you bring in your own philosophical demands when Genesis 9 directly refutes you. Noah did not have the Mosaic case laws, yet God commanded the death penalty for murder to Noah and his progeny. You are living in your own rationalistic world. Scott Clark was right about QIRC.

  187. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Doug, I’ve never seen any commentary on Matthew that views Jesus as criticizing the Pharisees for failing to execute rebellious children in Matt 15.

    The usual emphasis is on what the Pharisees permitted, not on their mode of punishment.

  188. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Jeff, there is no need to do the hard work of exegesis and do things like consult scholarly commentaries on the Bible. Just put on some theonomy-tinted glasses and read away, fitting your interpretation neatly into your pre-conceived view. :)

    Needless to say, Jesus quoted the Mosaic injunction that 1. forbade disrespect to parents and 2. compelled the death penalty for the crime in the nation-state of Israel. However, the commentary Jesus offered in relation to this verse concerned 1. (the Pharisees were allowing a form of disrespect to parents), not 2.

  189. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    @David Gadois, Show me how Genesis 9 refutes anything I just said? Are you trying to insinuate that God’s case law is superfluous? If Genesis 9 is all we needed to know regarding murder, then why did God bother to define murder in his case law?

  190. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    @David Gadbois; are you saying that young men who are drunkards and gluttons, who beat up their parents should not face the DP? Please check out 1 Tim. 1:8-11

  191. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    @David Gadbois; are willing to stand with Zrim, and say we should only have the DP for murder?

  192. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Doug,

    You made an argument to the effect that one cannot know what murder is, without the case laws. But God told patriarchs not to murder and to punish murder, prior to Moses. That suggests that those men could know what murder is, without the case laws. That’s what your opponents are saying, as I hear them.

    There’s no need to deny that, I think. But I’ll let you decide what to deny, of course. :)

    -TurretinFan

  193. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    Doug said Show me how Genesis 9 refutes anything I just said? Are you trying to insinuate that God’s case law is superfluous?

    I guess I have to spell it out:

    1. Genesis 9 says that the command to punish murder with the death penalty was given to Noah.

    2. The Mosaic case laws were not given to Noah.

    3. Unless you want to charge God with giving Noah insufficient instruction (indeed, was given an incoherent command), one must conclude that one can indeed define murder without reference to the case laws.

    are you saying that young men who are drunkards and gluttons, who beat up their parents should not face the DP? Please check out 1 Tim. 1:8-11

    I don’t know why I should have to make up for your lazy prooftexting and evasion of substantive exegesis. What precisely is the lawful use of the Law? It seems that the autobiographical comments Paul makes in the rest of the chapter provide the answer. There is no mention here of punishment by the state or the civic uses of the Law.

    As a matter of fact your appeal would prove too much. If it is refering to the whole of the Mosaic Law, it would necessarily include the ceremonial portions of the Law as well.

  194. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    @Tfan, I believe that God’s commandment given to Noah in Genesis 9 was a summary command, similar to “thou shall not kill”. God being rich in mercy obviously said more to Noah’s heart, then just an overview. However, God did not see fit, to leave a summary command, as the final word on the subject, so it should go without saying, that Genesis 9 was not sufficient, If God thought only Genesis 9 was required for carrying out the DP for murder, he wouldn’t have bothered to give us the case law. I’m going with the premise, that all of God’s word is written for our instruction, correction, and reproof. Therefore, when God gives more information, it’s because it is necessary for us to understand his perfect will. Therefore, God’s case law concerning murder, is not superfluous!

  195. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    David Gadbois sarcastically says:

    Paul said the lawful use of this “good law” was to punish evil doers; (present tense) men who commit homosexuality, strike their parents, kidnappers, blasphemers, liars, murderers, thieves, and perverts; and that according to the Gospel of which Paul had been in trusted with! Notice how Paul lumps both first and second table crimes as something that this “good” law should punish? (present tense)This verse confirms theonomy! Please show me how I didn’t proof text this passage.

  196. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Doug, perhaps you are exegeting I Timothy 1 from the original Elvish, but you’ll notice that in the Greek it doesn’t say “punish” at all.

  197. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    @David Gadbois, talk about non responsive! Zrim just gets done saying he believes only murder warrants the DP today, and I ask you point blank, should young men who beat up their parents get the DP, and you berate me! How is my question not going to the heart of Zrim’s assertion? I, for one, will stand with God’s law, and simply say, yes they should!

  198. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    @David Gadbois, maybe I was prooftexting too much. lol! So is it your position, that Paul was infering something other than punishment in 1 Tim 1:8-11???????

  199. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Tfan, no. 183: agreed.

  200. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Moreover David Gadbois, it’s not my position that “thou shall not kill” is incoherent! It’s just not enough, or else God wouldn’t have elaborated! Since God did feel the need to elaborate, it must have been necessary! I should think that goes without saying!

  201. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    @Reed, I reading both you and Tfan from afar, with much interest. Your a good brother! :)

  202. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Doug said I ask you point blank, should young men who beat up their parents get the DP, and you berate me!

    Again you act as if your own demands for answers are what is important here rather than the demands the text of Scripture makes on us. I could answer the question either way, and I could be right or wrong in my answer, and my point on 2K and natural law would still stand.

  203. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Doug said Moreover David Gadbois, it’s not my position that “thou shall not kill” is incoherent!

    You said we could not *define* murder without the case laws, so yes it follows that the command would be incoherent if murder was undefined for Noah.

    It’s just not enough,

    Enough for what?

    or else God wouldn’t have elaborated! Since God did feel the need to elaborate, it must have been necessary!

    This is your own assumption, but you won’t find it supported in Scripture either explicitly or by good and necessary consequence. Indeed, Paul tells us that all Scripture is “profitable”, but profitable is not the same as necessary.

    Anyway, “necessary” is a relative term. Necessary for what? Surely it was not “necessary” in order for Noah to understand and follow God’s command to him.

  204. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    David, I was simply responding to Zrim, who said “only Murder” is a DP offense. And that taken from Genesis 9. (I was hoping you would call Zrim a liar, lol!) I pointed out, that the command in Genesis 9 doesn’t give us parameters on “what exactly murder entails”. I am sure that God spoke clearly to Noah’s heart and gave him more than just the summary command, so as Noah didn’t walk away befuddled. It was Zrim who mocked the very notion of the DP being used for rebellious children. (Oh my!) I thought it only right to point out, that the only time Jesus mentioned the DP, was in Matt 15, and he was talking about the DP for, “yep you guessed it”, rebellious children, Oh my!” I thought it was ironic, that’s all.

  205. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Doug said I am sure that God spoke clearly to Noah’s heart and gave him more than just the summary command, so as Noah didn’t walk away befuddled.

    I’m glad you are so “sure” about something the text of Scripture does not say.

    Even if Noah did receive further instruction directly from God, there were still many generations between Noah and Moses who lived after him who did not have case laws.

  206. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Moreover David, from Noah to Moses, there wasn’t even a written testimony! After all; who wrote the book of Genesis, Noah? I didn’t think so either! Special Revelation is progressive, if all we needed for a civil society was Genesis 9 God wouldn’t have given us more. But God did give us more, because it was necessary!!!

  207. dgh said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Tfan, what is so irrational about asking you what you believe should happen in civil society today if you think Calvin’s Geneva was a model society? You have constantly asserted that Calvin’s view was biblical. The Bible requires obedience. So I’m asking you if you are willing to obey the Bible and seek Geneva circa 1555.

    As far as the quip that Doug’s view makes hay of Christ’s work, I stand by it. But please note that you thought I was referring to Roger. And then I explained my reason — Doug seeks to reinstitute a form of government that even the original WCF said was no longer in force.

    And so rather than answer that, you complain to the moderator. Turretin up.

  208. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Reed:

    Given #178 and #183, it seems to follow that it is possible for a nation to be used for God’s purposes, without complying with God’s law. In fact, it is possible for a nation to be used for God’s purposes exactly by violating God’s law.

    So, there does not appear to be any reason to speak about the laws of a nation complying with governing principles of civil magistracy, or GPCM for short, based merely on their ability to serve God’s purposes.

    You say “eschatalogical purposes,” and I don’t know if you think that the “eschatological” modifier there would require some kind of compliance with the GPCM that other purposes would not. If you do, please explain.

    Otherwise, does this seem agreeable?

    -TurretinFan

  209. dgh said,

    February 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Doug, yes, I agree. Jesus is Lord of civil laws, even Philadelphia’s. It is you that seems to have a problem with Jesus being Lord when God’s people aren’t in office. Was Jesus Lord of Pharoah? Was he Lord of George Bush? Does Jesus ever stop being Lord? So what’s your point?

  210. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    DGH:

    Re:207

    You wrote:

    Tfan, what is so irrational about asking you what you believe should happen in civil society today if you think Calvin’s Geneva was a model society?

    No, that wasn’t what I labeled irrational.

    You wrote:

    You have constantly asserted that Calvin’s view was biblical. The Bible requires obedience. So I’m asking you if you are willing to obey the Bible and seek Geneva circa 1555.

    The Bible does require obedience, and Calvin’s view is – in many respects – Biblical. It does not follow, however, that Christians are therefore required to seek to overthrow regimes (“oust the pagan rulers” to use the words you used) that don’t comply with God’s law. I have trouble believing that you think it follows, and if you know full well it doesn’t follow, your arguments here are unethical, and you should be ashamed of them.

    You wrote:

    As far as the quip that Doug’s view makes hay of Christ’s work, I stand by it. But please note that you thought I was referring to Roger. And then I explained my reason — Doug seeks to reinstitute a form of government that even the original WCF said was no longer in force.

    Yes, that was my mistake in thinking you were referring to Roger. I think that the charge (or “quip” as you call it) against Doug is pretty severe, and I don’t think you’ve justified it. But, I’ll let you and Doug work that out with one another.

    I notice that you haven’t addressed #135.

    -TurretinFan

  211. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    dgh, I am not sure what kind of government would the ideal, as it relates to God’s laws. So please don’t characterize me as some kind of hard core freak. I pray, and yearn, that all nations would honor God’s name with there laws. I believe that would be the ideal for all nations. And I firmly believe, that the foundation for any God glorifying nation is the Law of God. How we apply all of God’s wisdom in our civil laws, will by left to our posterity. But I believe it will be awesome!

  212. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    @David Gadbois, you know, for someone who can’t answer a straight question like; “should young men who are drunkards and gluttons and beat there parents, deserve the DP”? You’ve got a lot of nerve telling me general commands are sufficient! Your making my point! If I tell you “go out and do well”, that’s not incoherent, if I lovingly give you more specific information on how to do well, that means I think it’s necessary. God’s Word never prattles on were it not important. All of scripture is God breathed, good for “here’s a biggie for you” correction.

    If you were a Magistrate, and you said, I’ve got Genesis 9, therefore, I must execute this man, because he shed another mans blood. But then I show you God’s case law, and prove to you, that God says if it was an accident, then this man must be set free. How isn’t that a good thing? More information is a good thing. Only God’s case law could correct that mistake, Genesis 9 doesn’t say one way or the other. Therefore, God felt it the need to put in in scripture. If God felt it should be in, who are you to say it’s not necessary!

    Let’s stop right there; if God had not given his case laws, the parameters of what constitutes murder would be much more vague. People could read the general command amiss, no? God gives illustrations that define how he thinks we should punish criminal activity. The times and customs may change, but it’s our task to look at his principles and apply them in our society today. I’m not saying it’s easy, but God has given us a lot. What troubles me, is that you seem to say we need not look to God’s word, to solve some of our most difficult issues today when it comes to law. I say the opposite, we must start with God’s revealed word, and work up.

  213. Reed Here said,

    February 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Tfan, no. 208: o.k. you’re starting to lose me. If my response is not helpful, please clarify for me.

    The examples (Pilate and Sanhedrin) demonstrate that God can/does use man’s sinful choices.These examples are clearly of civil laws that do not comply with GPCM (or better the application of civil laws. The laws themselves may have been more less sound. They were abused by the authorities in view). The failure in the case of some laws does not deny the possibility for sufficient compliance with other laws.

    The only reason to speak about the possibility of a nation to sufficiently comply with GPCM without recourse to Scripture was in response to your suggestion that this was not possible. Again, Rom. 2:14 in my view teaches otherwise.

    By “eschatalogical” I am merely bringing into view that God’s purpose for the nations do not require perfect compliance with GPCM to achieve his goals for history. A relative (good enough) compliance is sufficient.

    Again, I am only reacting in this point to your suggestion that we can only know that the civil laws in the Bible (Mosaic Law) comply with GPCM. This is not the case. We can know that other civil laws, one’s not informed by Scripture, do indeed comply with GPCM as well, not perfectly, but sufficiently for God’s eschatalogical purposes.

  214. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Calvin on Matt 15:4….

    The latter clause which Christ adds, that he who curseth father or mother deserves to be put to death, is intended to inform us, that it is no light or unimportant precept to honor parents, since the violation of it is so severely punished. And this is no small aggravation of the guilt of the scribes, that so severe a threatening does not terrify them from granting an extension of liberty to those who despised their parents.

    Matthew Henry on Matt 15:4…

    …our Saviour waives that, lest any should thence infer it to be only a thing commendable and profitable, and insists upon the penalty annexed to the breach of this commandment in another scripture, which denotes the duty to be highly and indispensably necessary; He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death: this law we have, Exod. xxi. 17. The sin of cursing parents is here opposed to the duty of honouring them. Those who speak ill of their parents, or wish ill to them, who mock at them, or give them taunting and opprobrious language, break this law. If to call a brother Raca be so penal, what is it to call a father so? By our Saviour’s application of this law, it appears, that denying service or relief to parents is included in cursing them. Though the language be respectful enough, and nothing abusive in it, yet what will that avail, if the deeds be not agreeable? it is but like him that said, I go, Sir, and went not, ch. xxi. 30.

  215. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    dgh says Doug seeks to reinstitute a form of government that even the original WCF said was no longer in force.

    What the heck are you talking about? All I have said, is that I want all nations to revere the name of the Lord, and glorify him with our laws. What is so contraversial about that?

  216. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Benjamin, thanks for that. Calvin I had read, and I don’t think he’s saying that Jesus is criticizing their lack of stoning. Henry I had not read; he’s obviously laying stress on the death penalty.

    And yet he goes in much the same direction as Calvin: the problem with the Pharisees is *not* that they fail to stone offenders, but that they are hypocrites for raising a human tradition above the law.

    The obvious question is, why does Jesus follow up with a clarification of hand-washing and purity, rather than with an affirmation of the death penalty for disobedient children?

    It’s not certain; but the direction he goes casts doubt on the idea that his point here is to reaffirm that disobedient children are to be stoned.

    That is: it’s one thing to cite the law (as Jesus does) to indicate the seriousness of the law (as Henry takes it). It’s another thing to cite the law in order to positively affirm that they should be enforcing its sanctions. It’s *possible* that Jesus is doing both; but the conversation doesn’t seem to head in that direction.

    What do you make of the fact that Henry and Calvin both omit any discussion of stoning in the commentary on Eph 6? In fact, Calvin goes so far as to say this:

    <i.Kind and liberal treatment has rather a tendency to cherish reverence for their parents, and to increase the cheerfulness and activity of their obedience, while a harsh and unkind manner rouses them to obstinacy, and destroys the natural affections. But Paul goes on to say, “let them be fondly cherished;” for the Greek word, (ἐκτρέφετε,) which is translated bring up, unquestionably conveys the idea of gentleness and forbearance. To guard them, however, against the opposite and frequent evil of excessive indulgence, he again draws the rein which he had slackened, and adds, in the instruction and reproof of the Lord. It is not the will of God that parents, in the exercise of kindness, shall spare and corrupt their children. Let their conduct towards their children be at once mild and considerate, so as to guide them in the fear of the Lord, and correct them also when they go astray. That age is so apt to become wanton, that it requires frequent admonition and restraint. — Calv Comm 6.4.

  217. Zrim said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Doug, I just want to point out the irony of charging me with disparaging, mocking and ridiculing the law of God when you yourself seem to suggest that Genesis 9 was insufficient for Noah (made up for, I guess, with a shot of pietism: God speaking down in the depths of Noah’s heart), as well as previously suggesting (#65) that in 1 Cor. 5 Paul commanded to excommunicate instead of execute because the state wasn’t converted yet–which makes Paul’s command insufficient.

    Oh my.

    But it would be nice if you transformed some of that praying and yearning for geo-political nations to be ruled by God’s law into praying and yearning for the spiritual nation to be ruled by God’s gospel.

  218. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    DGH (#209): Was Jesus Lord of Pharoah?

    I’ve mentioned this before, but Jesus’ lordship over Pharaoh was decretal, referring to the working out of His providence (cf. Rom 9). Pharaoh did not obey God’s revealed will (“Let my people go!”), but was constrained by God’s providential will. It was a matter of what Pharaoh *would* do, willing or not.

    By contrast, the law of God written on the heart is a part of God’s revealed will, what we *ought* to do.

    This kind of argument confuses God’s providence with his revealed will.

  219. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    My response to why Jesus did not go any further with the stoning in Matt 15 would be it would not have been in the sphere of authority for the Pharisees to stone anyone; so to chastise them for not doing something for which they had no authority to perform in the first place would be odd, in my view.

  220. Neal said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    @Zrim (#177)

    Yes, but it seems like what you give with one hand you take away with the other. If social and political perfection really do come at the return of Christ and by his hand alone why would we actively seek it by our efforts in the here and now? If approximate justice is the only thing we can expect in the here and now, and by own efforts, then shouldn’t we be seeking that?

    “Approximate justice” sounds reasonable as long as the conversation remains purely hypothetical, but when you ask the question, what is approximate justice, we see that in reality it is actually a very slippery concept. How does one know what “approximate justice” looks like? It could be said that all societies have “approximate justice”. Including the ones that you don’t like, say for example Nazi Germany, the ante-bellum south, or modern day Iran. So by definition, what you are saying is that we should be seeking the status quo. No improvements, ever, for that would be hankering after a social prosperity gospel. “Approximate justice” reduces to a form of the naturalistic fallacy, in that whatever state a society is currently in, we must conclude that this is the way it is supposed to be.

    I am saying that our sanctification is indeed God’s work alone. While the law is the structure of our sanctification, the Spirit is its power. So we are active insofar as we attend the means of grace and keep the law, but we are passive insofar as God is the one who is inwardly sanctifying us. Sanctification, like justification is by grace alone through faith alone.

    I’m glad you said “keep the law”. For that is what we are talking about, yes? Scriptures exhort us to seek sanctification (Hebrews 12:12-14) and holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16), not just passively wait for it.

    What I am actually trying to say is that efforts to use SR in the civil realm seem to be ways to circumvent human sin and the realities of its effect on our world.

    Yes. As is the use of GR. Although I would rather use the language of “restrain” human sin. I come back to my medical analogy. The medical profession is an attempt to mitigate the physical effects of sin on our world. And it is a noble calling.

    The Bible doesn’t circumvent and overcome the effects of human sin in either our own personal lives or our social and political lives. Yes, we may apply the Bible to our individual and social lives, but the expectation that this will improve matters is pure fantasy.

    Whether it “improves” (not even sure what you mean by that) it or not is irrelevant. Repentence is not optional for the Christian, regardless of whether or not it “improves” one’s life.

  221. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I agree Ben; I don’t think Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees for not enforcing the DP for rebellious children, (your right, they lived under Roman law) Jesus was rebuking them for tolerating a DP offense in there midst, and not taking appropriate church discipline. IMHO.

  222. David Gadbois said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Doug said Moreover David, from Noah to Moses, there wasn’t even a written testimony!

    No, but clearly God’s command to Noah regarding the death penalty for murder was not intended for Noah alone, but his progeny as well. It is wrapped up in the whole Noahic covenant.

    Special Revelation is progressive, if all we needed for a civil society was Genesis 9 God wouldn’t have given us more. But God did give us more, because it was necessary!!!

    That is your extra-biblical assumption.

    And again you are vague on what you mean by “necessary”. Sometimes things are sufficient, insufficient, necessary, or unnecessary depending on time and circumstance.

    You’ve got a lot of nerve telling me general commands are sufficient! Your making my point!

    But just as one wouldn’t challenge the sufficiency of Scripture by demanding the Bible answer your questions before you accept it, neither should you challenge the sufficiency of general revelation by demanding it answer particulars to your satisfaction. God is not obligated to answer in either case. Both are his revelation to man.

    If I tell you “go out and do well”, that’s not incoherent, if I lovingly give you more specific information on how to do well, that means I think it’s necessary. God’s Word never prattles on were it not important. All of scripture is God breathed, good for “here’s a biggie for you” correction.

    Thanks for all the philosophizing, but again you aren’t getting this from scriptural principles. And, BTW, I did say that the Bible is profitable for correcting our misunderstanding of general revelation. You should try to pay attention rather than score points.

    In any case, in this paragraph you simply confuse what is important with what is necessary. Noah could fulfill God’s command to him, as could his immediate descendants. So the Mosaic case laws may have been important *in that time* for God’s specific purposes with Israel, but it was not *necessary* for executing God’s command to Noah regarding the death penalty and understanding the nature of murder.

    Only God’s case law could correct that mistake, Genesis 9 doesn’t say one way or the other.

    *Only* case law? So between Noah and Moses no one could have understood that accidents should not be punished as murder by the light of nature? That is very difficult to believe.

    Therefore, God felt it the need to put in in scripture. If God felt it should be in, who are you to say it’s not necessary!

    This is just dressing up your own extra-biblical assumption in pious demagoguery.

    I say the opposite, we must start with God’s revealed word, and work up.

    First of all, general revelation is also revealed.

    Second, I agree that the Bible overlaps with natural law and general revelation, so it can certainly be illuminating and profitable. But that should not commit us to the fallacy that the judicial laws of Israel are patterns for all governments generically. You simply collapse the judicial laws into the moral law and say “see, the judicial laws should be universal since the moral law is universal.” Nice try.

  223. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 8, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Jeff,

    As an addendum to my post Calvin clearly is pro-death penalty for adultery (see his commentary on John 8:11). He also says this in his commentary on John 8:11, which I think is revealing:

    But let us remember that, while Christ forgives the sins of men, he does not overturn political order, or reverse the sentences and punishments appointed by the laws.

    Doug,

    It was never the Pharisees’ responsibility (regardless of who the civil authority was at the time) to administer the DP.

  224. Doug Sowers said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks Ben, excellent point. I think that may reinforce my church discipline idea, no? Regardless, Jesus wasn’t embarrassed about the DP for children, amen? Whatever Jesus was getting at, one thing is for certain, he wasn’t acting like he felt the law was outdated or had been abrogated.

  225. TurretinFan said,

    February 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Reed:

    You talk about the sufficiency of the laws to serve God’s purposes in the working out of history. What’s the logical connection between that and the laws complying (or not) with GPCM? What has one to do with the other? In other words, why would any particular level of compliance be necessary to serve God’s purposes in the working out of history?

    Couldn’t the most wicked regime imaginable (with laws that are as out of compliance with GPCM as we could think) serve God’s purposes in the working out of history?

    If so, it seems that there is no real connection between compliance with GPCM and the ability to serve God’s purposes in the working out of history.

    Or am I missing something you’re saying?

    -TurretinFan

    P.S. Before posting, I thought that perhaps an analogy might be helpful. Suppose I order some 8 1/2 x 11 paper (the standard American size) from you, and you take my money and deliver A1 paper (the standard size in Europe). Suppose you then point out that I can print the same documents on both sizes of paper. In other words, the paper size you’ve given me is sufficient for my task of printing. You might be right about that, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lived up to the terms of the contract. Just because I can use the paper doesn’t mean I have to accept it as fulfilling the contract.

    By analogy, just because God can use regimes whose laws don’t measure up to GPCM, doesn’t mean that those laws are pleasing to God. He doesn’t have to deem them acceptable, simply because he can use them.

    Likewise, if I subsequently instruct my printer to print my documents from a tray bearing A1, I am giving the printer clear instructions about what to do with the paper. Yet I am not, by telling my printer to print on that paper, letting you off the hook for giving me the wrong size paper.

    By analogy, if God commands us to be obedient to parents, our masters (if we are slaves), and the civil magistrates, that does not mean that God has endorsed the obedience of the parents, masters, and civil magistrates in terms of their relation to Him. These are two separable things.

    We owe obedience (constrained and delimited obedience) to our parents, our masters, and our civil magistrates, even though they likewise owe obedience to God.

    -TurretinFan

  226. curate said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

    Doug: As I am not getting any answers from dgh, and since you have followed this more closely than I have, what does dgh think the commands are that are revealed to all men in general revelation, and are they different from the Ten Words?

    Many thanks.

  227. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:36 am

    Doug, you are in fact saying more than that nations should glorify God. You are saying that adulterers should be executed as part of that giving glory to God. And if someone questions whether adulterers should be executed you question the questioners fidelity. Doug, come on, you say so much here you really are saying a lot more.

  228. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:44 am

    Tfan, Doug advocates the execution of adulterers and appeals to the OT for it. I say that order has passed away. Do you still advocate that? Would not Christ’s fulfilling the ceremonial and civil laws make hay of this way of appealing to Israel?

    As for whether or not you follow Calvin all the way and seek to implement the kind of society he lived in, why do you keep bringing Calvin up if not to show that 2k departs from Calvin not simply on the duties of the magistrate but also on the kind of society we live in? Is this merely a theoretical conversation for you? Have you not noticed that 2k is regularly accused of being antinomian, telling pastors they can’t preach on God’s law, putting a silencer on the church, and offering no prophetic voice to contemporary society? So if you are going to advocate a certain biblical view, don’t you think you should be prepared for the practical implications?

    You never do seem to want to acknowledge that Calvin’s order executed Servetus.

    But really, how consistent is it for you to be content with many of the freedoms people enjoy today and yet continue to promote Geneva circa 1555 as the model of biblical society?

  229. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Curate du Roger, no reason to ask Doug for my answers. I gave you the Philadelphia legal code as part of general revelation. So far all I’ve heard in response is crickets.

  230. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Jeff, I get the difference between Christ’s decretal and providential Lordship (if that’s the right way of putting it), but those who accuse 2k of denying Christ’s Lordship don’t seem capable of making such a distinction on their rush to censor 2k. 2k does believe in Christ’s Lordship.

  231. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Tfan, no. 225: I think this boils down to a distinction I see within the governing principles of civil magistracy. I see Rom. 2:14 (et.al.) saying that the nations of the world do have the ability apart from recourse to Scripture to construct civil laws that are sufficiently compliant with the standards of justice and equity to be valid in God’s eyes. Such sufficiency is a factor of his eschatalogical purposes. Such validity does not mean moral perfection.

    A parallel example is God’s sovereign usage of the wickedness of men. It is certainly not moral. Yet God nevertheless sovereignly uses it.

    I hear you saying, tell me I wrong and it’s o.k., that only by recourse to the Bible is any nation able to secure civil law that complies with God’s standards of justice and equity. If we’re talking about the eschatalogical end, then yes I agree.

    If we’re talking about getting to the end, then no, I do not agree. God in his mercy has limited the effects of the fall. Tom. 13’s magistracy principles go so far as to say that God has ordained all civil magistracy worldwide. He uses it for his purposes. Rom. 2:14 (elt. al.) tells us that some of the biblically uninformed civil laws sufficiently comply with the GPCM.

    This is not to speak of the salt and light effects that God gives even the unregenerate as the Church pursues the gospel. That is an effect of the gospel ministry, not a transformationalist application.

  232. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:18 am

    Reed: (re: 231)

    You wrote: “sufficiently compliant with the standards of justice and equity to be valid in God’s eyes.”

    Let me try to distinguish between two things, and then examine those in light of two other things.

    1) “Valid in God’s eyes”

    I’m not sure why you have introduced this concept into the discussion, but I think I’m glad you did. The validity of a regime may have some fuzzy lines (was occupied Holland under a valid Nazi regime – was occupied Ireland under a valid British regime – what about the Southern American states post 1860’s?). However, I would respectfully submit to you that the validity of a regime has nothing at all to do with how well the regime measures up to standards of equity and justice.

    One would rarely expect a highly compliant regime to be an invalid regime, but perhaps it happened in the case of Cromwell (or not – I’m not especially interested in arguing about Cromwell).

    2) “Just and Equitable in God’s Sight”

    On the other hand, there is the question of whether governments comply well or poorly with the GPCM. Those who comply well would be relatively just and equitable, whereas those who comply poorly would be relatively unjust and inequitable. Perhaps it goes without saying that we should not expect any human government to be perfectly just and equitable in its laws, and yet some are more just and equitable than others.

    3) Sufficiency for God’s Purposes

    God is able to use both valid and invalid magistrates for His sovereign purposes in the working out of history. Moreover, God is able to use both just and unjust regimes in the same way. So, even the validity or invalidity of a regime is not a bar to God’s ability to use that regime.

    4) Sufficiency for the Job of Governing

    Moreover, both valid/invalid and just/unjust categories of government are able to perform the job of governing. We see the same thing analogously in parents. Children are successfully brought to adulthood by parents who are very kind and very cruel. Children are successfully raised both by true parents and, in some sad cases, by kidnappers.

    Questions for you:

    Do you agree with the distinction between valid/invalid and just/unjust?
    Do you agree that the unjust does not mean invalid?

    -TurretinFan

  233. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Tfan: I was not applying the concept of validity to particular ruling entities, but to the civil laws of a given nation. I chose valid as a means of distinguishing from moral perfection in civil law. I.e., valid (as nuanced in my comments) t is another measure of compliance with GPCM. Moral perfection (the measure of compliance your arguments are using) is another.

    A civil law that says capital punishment for murder at least in part on the basis of biblical considerations is valid.

    A civil law that says capital punishment for murder without any biblical considerations is also valid.

    Both comply in this sense with GPCM.

    With regards to moral perfection, both’s compliance with GPCM is measured by their consistency with God’s moral standard (only known to us via the Bible).

    That being said, I’ve no problem with the valid/invalid and just/unjust distinction. Nor do I believe that unjust necessarily equates to invalid.

  234. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:35 am

    DGH wrote:

    Tfan, Doug advocates the execution of adulterers and appeals to the OT for it. I say that order has passed away. Do you still advocate that?

    I don’t know what “that” refers to.

    You wrote:

    Would not Christ’s fulfilling the ceremonial and civil laws make hay of this way of appealing to Israel?

    If the civil law were merely or primarily typological, and if consequently it were fulfilled by Christ, as the ceremonial was, then the argument appealing to it would have the same force as an argument appealing to the ceremonial laws. However, of course, as the Scriptures and our Confession teach, that’s not what Christ did. So, the premise of your hypothetical question is not true.

    You wrote:

    As for whether or not you follow Calvin all the way and seek to implement the kind of society he lived in, why do you keep bringing Calvin up if not to show that 2k departs from Calvin not simply on the duties of the magistrate but also on the kind of society we live in?

    Who said I follow Calvin all the way?

    You wrote:

    Is this merely a theoretical conversation for you?

    I’m not sure what you mean by that.

    You wrote:

    Have you not noticed that 2k is regularly accused of being antinomian, telling pastors they can’t preach on God’s law, putting a silencer on the church, and offering no prophetic voice to contemporary society?

    I’ve noticed a variety of complaints, not against “2k,” but against the Escondido variety. To the extent that the criticisms are made, they should be substantiated, rather than just asserted.

    You wrote:

    So if you are going to advocate a certain biblical view, don’t you think you should be prepared for the practical implications?

    If you think the practical implications are an argument against being Biblical, your theology is severely deformed. If you don’t think that, you’re just presenting a red herring – and knowingly presenting red herrings isn’t an ethical way to argue.

    You wrote:

    You never do seem to want to acknowledge that Calvin’s order executed Servetus.

    Perhaps if you were more familiar with history, you’d know that Calvin’s order did not execute Servetus. Or alternatively, if you – as an historian – know full well that Servetus was no executed by an order from Calvin, it’s not proper for you to assert a falsehood as though it were a fact.

    You wrote:

    But really, how consistent is it for you to be content with many of the freedoms people enjoy today and yet continue to promote Geneva circa 1555 as the model of biblical society?

    Your attempt to accuse me of inconsistency is based on what amounts to be equivocation or category error. There are different kinds of contentment and different ways in which truth can be promoted. Promoting the 10 commandments as the model of moral behavior does not prevent me from living at peace with my very immoral neighbors. If that’s true, and it seems you must acknowledge it is, then there’s nothing inconsistent with anyone holding up 16th century Geneva as an example of a generally godly regime, even while living peacefully under a regime that is generally evil and corrupt.

    -TurretinFan

  235. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Reed:

    Based on #233, I think you and I are mostly in agreement. We seem to agree that there are laws that are just and laws that are unjust, and I think we also agree that it is a duty of the civil magistrate to enact just laws.

    There still remains the question of how a civil magistrate can determine what laws are just and what laws are unjust. But I think that is a second order question. It may be a point of disagreement between us, but if it is, then it is a lesser order of disagreement.

    -TurretinFan

  236. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

    @Roger, While I may have followed this a little closer than you; dgh is one slippery fish. He thrives on thinking he’s so smart, and yet his whole premise is against God’s moral standards of justice found in the Bible. dgh seems to be fine with the idea, that in the older covenantal period, the “same” crime should not be punished the same today. Now that is incoherent and convoluted!

    Feel free to jump in anytime you feel Dr Hart needs another good rebuke. Let a righteous man “like you” smack him on the head, (full force) it’s some much needed oil for his head.

  237. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:15 am

    @dgh; Which is it? First or second table, or none? I thought you were agaisnt the Magistrate enforcing the first table, but now your also saying adultry isnt a DP offense either? By what standard? By what standard is the civil Magistrate to punish adultry today?

  238. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Tfan, no 235: aw shucks, no fireworks! ;-)

    Yes, I sense this too. As I’m not sure how far off from Darryl I am, I’m, wondering where the disconnect lies (most likely with me).

    If you’re willing, I’d appreciate exploring the secondary. I admit to not having all this nailed down.

  239. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:39 am

    @dgh: The most disturbing thing about this debate, is hearing dgh say, and I quote: >But really, how consistent is it for you to be content with many of the freedoms people enjoy today and yet continue to promote Geneva circa 1555 as the model of biblical society?>

    It seems as if Dr Hart is implying that the freedoms we “enjoy” in America would come to a screeching halt if we implemented God’s law today. He implies there would be “less” enjoyment not more. In other words, general revelation is far superior way of governing a nation compared to God’s law. To Hart’s way of looking at things God’s law is a kill joy. What an insult to God! According to Hart, there would be no fun in Mudville if our Magistrate took God’s word seriously, after all, someone might get executed, oh my! That is what I see at the heart of Hart’s concern. God’s law, no fun, general revelation, weeeee!

  240. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Doug, no 236: please refrain from the personal caricaturizations of others.

    Thanks.

  241. Zrim said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:51 am

    “Approximate justice” sounds reasonable as long as the conversation remains purely hypothetical, but when you ask the question, what is approximate justice, we see that in reality it is actually a very slippery concept. How does one know what “approximate justice” looks like? It could be said that all societies have “approximate justice”. Including the ones that you don’t like, say for example Nazi Germany, the ante-bellum south, or modern day Iran. So by definition, what you are saying is that we should be seeking the status quo. No improvements, ever, for that would be hankering after a social prosperity gospel. “Approximate justice” reduces to a form of the naturalistic fallacy, in that whatever state a society is currently in, we must conclude that this is the way it is supposed to be.

    Neal, you almost make it sound like the regimes you and I don’t like are insufficient. But Romans 13 says that there is no civil authority that God not appoint. If God appoints then it is sufficient, regardless of whether anybody likes it. But, look, I would say that all societies fall within the category of approximate justice, and that within that range there are some better than others, so it’s not as if I don’t understand we can objectively evaluate or make distinctions between them. But I would also say that the way we all gauge what is better is every bit as much subjective as objective. I like my time and place, but I think that as at least as much to do with it being mine as it has to do with it objectively being better. It’s not too unlike saying my father is the best father in the world. That really is a statement of love and loyalty, not really an objective one that seriously means to say that he is literally better than your father. Or my boss is the world’s best boss—the reason Michael Scott’s mug is funny is that instead of understanding it to be a statement of love and loyalty he errs on the side of thinking he really is, literally and objectively, the world’s best boss.

    I’m glad you said “keep the law”. For that is what we are talking about, yes? Scriptures exhort us to seek sanctification (Hebrews 12:12-14) and holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16), not just passively wait for it.

    Well, I am of the mind that the Christian life can be summed up in one word: obedience (as in grateful obedience). I wonder if it helps you to know that this is sometimes interpreted as a form of legalism. So, depending on who you ask, the way I would formulate the Christian life is either antinomian or legalist. But I like to think that the Christian life is at once structured by law and characterized by freedom.

    Yes. As is the use of GR. Although I would rather use the language of “restrain” human sin. I come back to my medical analogy. The medical profession is an attempt to mitigate the physical effects of sin on our world. And it is a noble calling.

    Do you suggest adding SR to medical training the way you suggest it be added to social and political ordering? I doubt it. So what would you say about the doc who suggests he has also consulted the Bible on my intestinal problem? I would say he very likely seems to think that whatever general revelation tells him about my problem it is made clearer by the Bible, and further that he thinks it will help circumvent the effects of sin on my body in ways that GR doesn’t. But if the Bible is not an appropriate resource for the doc when his medical training stumps him then why is it appropriate for political problems? The Bible makes reference to the body and its health, right? I’m not saying he mayn’t reference the Bible, but it sure seems odd to do so since the Bible isn’t about the cares of this world (from the repair of cuts and bruises to how to politically arrange our lives). It’s about the next life. A fellow 2ker around here calls that “crazy talk,” but I’d be willing to bet that when his stumped doc pulls out the Bible his Pentecostal radar goes off just as much as mine.

    I said, “The Bible doesn’t circumvent and overcome the effects of human sin in either our own personal lives or our social and political lives. Yes, we may apply the Bible to our individual and social lives, but the expectation that this will improve matters is pure fantasy.”

    To which you responded, Whether it “improves” (not even sure what you mean by that) it or not is irrelevant. Repentence is not optional for the Christian, regardless of whether or not it “improves” one’s life.

    You’ve sort of shifted things. You went from using the Bible to repentance. But I agree that both aren’t options for believers. But the point remains: Bible reading and repentance do not overcome sin. They are commanded things for us to do, totally regardless of whether it has any perceivable good effect on us. Sometimes I don’t feel rested on the Sabbath, but that’s no reason to break it; sometimes I get kicked in the teeth for doing the right thing while others get away with their sin, but that’s no reason not to do the right thing. (You don’t know what I mean by “improve”? Well, welcome to my world, Neal. I’m not clear on it either, but you’re the one championing social improvement. I’m just using your term.)

  242. Zrim said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:56 am

    By analogy, if God commands us to be obedient to parents, our masters (if we are slaves), and the civil magistrates, that does not mean that God has endorsed the obedience of the parents, masters, and civil magistrates in terms of their relation to Him. These are two separable things…We owe obedience (constrained and delimited obedience) to our parents, our masters, and our civil magistrates, even though they likewise owe obedience to God…The validity of a regime may have some fuzzy lines (was occupied Holland under a valid Nazi regime – was occupied Ireland under a valid British regime – what about the Southern American states post 1860′s?). However, I would respectfully submit to you that the validity of a regime has nothing at all to do with how well the regime measures up to standards of equity and justice…One would rarely expect a highly compliant regime to be an invalid regime, but perhaps it happened in the case of Cromwell (or not – I’m not especially interested in arguing about Cromwell).

    Tfan, just an observation: there seems to be two different sets of premises going on. You seem to think that the Bible is concerned with both the magistrate’s obedience to God and the believer’s obedience to the magistrate. But I’d like to say that the Bible is concerned with both the believer’s obedience to God and the magistrate (and that, along with Paul in Romans 13:1-7, to dis/obey the magistrate is to dis/obey God).

    But you also seem unclear, or “fuzzy” in your own words, about the validity of certain regimes. And the reason you seem fuzzy seems to be based on your premise concerning whether a magistrate is properly obedient to God. But Paul says that there is no civil authority which God did not appoint. Doesn’t that pretty much clear it up? True, you go on to say that “the validity of a regime has nothing at all to do with how well the regime measures up to standards of equity and justice,” and I can only assume it’s Romans 13 that makes you say that. But then I wonder why you are so concerned about any magistrate’s obedience to God. By your own words you say even one that doesn’t measure up is valid. Isn’t that the end of it, per Paul? God appointed him, he’s valid, and we obey (unless he tells us to personally disobey God). Paul and the rest of the NT says nothing to suggest that we need to go beyond that, as in being concerned for his political obedience to God. So why do you?

  243. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:04 am

    @dgh and Zrim; while you laugh and ridicule theonomy, you both fail to understand that justice and morality are coterminous. If it was moral to execute two people caught adultery in the Old Testament, then it has to be moral today! If it was justice to execute a homosexual in the Old Testament, then it has to be justice today. Morality and justice can not change! So at the most basic level your arguments are incoherent. And to make matters even worse, you mock, and ridicule God’s standards of morality as if they were barbaric. Zrim has gone so far as to say, (If were going to use capital punishment, shouldn’t it be for a capital crime?) Isn’t the rich? Zrim now feels he knows better than God what constitutes a capital crime!

  244. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Zrim:

    You wrote: “You seem to think that the Bible is concerned with both the magistrate’s obedience to God and the believer’s obedience to the magistrate.”

    Yes – and I find it concerning that you respond to that with a “But …,” which makes me think you disagree.

    As for your second paragraph, about fuzziness, I think you’ve misunderstood my point. Take Holland circa the 1940’s. At some point, the people of Holland are self-governing. Then, an invasion occurs. Then, a new regime claims and exerts power. Then more fighting occurs, and the prior regime is reinstated. There are are five time periods there. (1) time of self-governing, (2) time of invasion, (3) time of occupation, (4) time of liberation, and (5) time of renewed self-governing. In (1) and (5) it is easy to see who we must submit to. Most folks think that (3) is less clear (perhaps you do not), and (2) and (4) seem likewise unclear. That’s where some of the fuzziness comes in. It’s not really related in any way to whether the laws of the occupying force were just and equitable or not. So, in a way, I agree with your comment that, in essence, says we shouldn’t consider how just and equitable the laws are in deciding whether we owe allegiance to the regime. The fuzziness comes in from other considerations, not from the considerations of justice and equity of the laws.

    Or, at least, I don’t see any direct connection between the answer to which regime we serve in (1)-(5) based on which regime has better compliance with God’s laws regarding the duties of the civil magistrate.

    What is troubling is the appearance you give of saying that either (1) the Bible does not tell us anything about the duties of the civil magistrate, or possibly (2) God does not impose any moral duties on the civil magistrate (as such). I hope that’s just an appearance – but I can’t see why you would have a problem with my position that that the Bible is concerned with both the magistrate’s obedience to God and the believer’s obedience to the magistrate.

    -TurretinFan

  245. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Doug said If it was moral to execute two people caught adultery in the Old Testament, then it has to be moral today! If it was justice to execute a homosexual in the Old Testament, then it has to be justice today. Morality and justice can not change!

    Was it moral and just to invade Canaan and wipe out all of its inhabitants? If so, then does that also have to be moral today?

  246. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Doug (#221): I can live with that.

    Benjamin (#223): Interesting and good catch. Calvin certainly is complex.

  247. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

    David G.:

    To answer your question, yes – whenever God tells a nation today to go in and wipe out the population of a country, it is moral for them to do so. Hopefully one can draw a distinction between general principles (death for adultery) and specific commands (wipe out the Canaanites).

    -TurretinFan

  248. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Doug S (#243): If it was moral to execute two people caught adultery in the Old Testament, then it has to be moral today! If it was justice to execute a homosexual in the Old Testament, then it has to be justice today. Morality and justice can not change!

    You’re conflating several issues that it would be helpful to separate.

    (1) Can something bad become good? No.

    So adultery and homosexuality cannot go from bad to good simply “because the times have changed.” The moral law of God endures.

    (2) Does the punishment for wrong actions have to be the same for all times and places? No again.

    God’s punishments given to Israel served two separate functions. They upheld justice. They *also* served to place Israel under the law, so that transgressions would be clearly and obviously marked as worthy of judgment. Take a moment to reflect on what Paul says about Christ: “cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.” (Gal 3.14, citing Deut 21.23). The curse of the Law is found in its punishments.

    So it may not be the case that punishments under the Law, which are just, but also serve to typify God’s wrath, are the ONLY possible just punishments.

    After all, if every sin deserves death, then the death penalty for any sin would be just, no?

    It may be that a range of punishments for a given sin are just. This is, as you read, what Calvin thought about stealing.

    It may very well be that different punishments are better suited for different times and places.

    (3) If the OT punishments were just, do they continue to be just today? Yes.

    We cannot evade the force of this question. It would be just to execute people for any sin, given that sin deserves death.

    BUT

    We may well ask: if we place all people under the OT punishments, are we not placing them back under the Law? And then, are we not in danger of using the Law unlawfully?

    Again: the curse of the Law is not God’s wrath against eaters of shellfish and pork. It is the curse that comes to us for failing to live up to the moral Law. If we continue in the punishments of the OT economy, to the letter, we are in essence retaining the outward form of the curse of the Law, just as if Jesus had never come and borne that curse for us.

  249. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

    @ Zrim and dgh, for what “sins” did God judge the 7 nations? God said it was for sexual depravity, and because they sacrificed their children and threw them in the fire. God told Israel that if she committed sexual depravity and sacrificed her children in the fire, the same thing would happen! They did, and God did.

    In fact, the two central sins that keeps bringing down empire after empire is idolatry and sexual depravity, i.e. homosexuality, orgies, and the slaughter of the unborn. Does anyone remember how the Greeks thought *man boy love* was superior to marriage? How the Greeks exalted human reason above the word of God? How about the decadence of Rome? How about Rome executing any Christian who had the nerve to say “Jesus is Lord! God has one standard of justice for every Nation. So it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that American is facing the same reoccurring sins that have besieged mankind since time began; how should a wise and God fearing Nation, deal with idolatry and sexual depravity? Shall we obey the Law of God? This is where Zrim and dgh are at their worst, they say no! They mock and ridicule anyone who believes we should! They say sexual sins are no longer DP worthy crimes. Put them on church discipline! (I don’t see a ton of homosexuals trying to go to my church, but that is beside the point.) This stance of Dr Hart and Zrim shows zero historical awareness, on what sins bring down a nation, and is a recipe for the destruction of America if we heed their foul advice.

  250. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Zrim (#241): But Romans 13 says that there is no civil authority that God not appoint. If God appoints then it is sufficient, regardless of whether anybody likes it.

    No, no, no. God appointed Herod, and then He struck him down. You act as if office were carte blanche approval of all that the office-holder does.

    The office is just an office — appointed by God, to be respected and obeyed. But being appointed to office is no guarantee that your actions are sufficiently just!

    The other Herod had all the 2yr-olds and under killed. Approximate justice? Never.

  251. Zrim said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Tfan, I can see why you think certain civil and political arrangements and situations are fuzzy. But it does seem to me that there is always a form of authority in even fuzzy times. I mean, part of our creation includes natural inclinations for some to lead and others to follow. Even in a stuck elevator someone rises to leadership. It’s what social creatures like us do, and so I do wonder if this is more of the clarity issue playing itself out. For my part, I think creation is clear from stuck elevators to relatively restful regimes even if human beings are fuzzy.

    And let me quell your fears. The Bible does tell us the duties of the civil magistrate: to punish evil and reward good. But I do make a distinction between a magistrate’s personal behavior and political behavior. The magistrate who enforces wealth redistribution isn’t guilty of stealing (like so many theonomist tell us). Robin Hood is though.

    And while you answer to David is technically correct, it’s worth pointing out that the theocratic “wiping out of Canaan” has been replaced by exilic evangelism. That’s in place until the final theocratic wiping out at the second coming. Both of which are perfectly moral.

  252. Zrim said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Jeff, but while Herod was in office he was to be obeyed. That’s why “they were amazed” in Mark 12. And I’m not saying being appointed means your laws are sufficiently just. If our magistrates took our theonomist’s advice and executed our homosexuals I think that is unjust because only murder deserves death. But I’d submit to their rule, just like I submit to their rule as they allow for on-demand abortion. And I’d be just as critical of pulpits that rail against magistrates that call for the execution of homosexuals as those that rail against magistrates who protect abortion on-demand.

    And what do you mean Herod’s laws weren’t a part of approximate justice? That’s all we get in this world. Approximate justice includes bad laws and good ones—that’s what makes it approximate.

  253. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Ok, Reed, on toward the secondary issues.

    How can a civil magistrate assess whether his laws are just?

    1) Of course, the civil magistrate has a conscience. Moreover, at least some level of information about just and equity are provided to men that way. So, the civil magistrate can consult his conscience as one way to determine whether laws are just.

    2) The civil magistrate can consult Scripture. How Scripture is to be consulted is almost a third layer of the onion, but hopefully we can agree (and I think that you already have) that Scripture can be consulted by the civil magistrate to determine whether or to what extent his laws measure up to God’s moral standards with respect to justice and equity.

    (1) and (2) are true of any moral issue. There are also indirect ways of getting at (1) and (2), such as doing surveys of public opinion (an indirect way to get at (1)) and asking the church (an indirect way of getting at (2)).

    Does this seem agreeable?

    -TurretinFan

  254. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

    @David Gadbois; yes it was moral, because God commanded them to do so. No, it wouldn’t be moral today, because God told us, “in his Word” that the circumstances have changed. That was easy. Now, if you can show me, *in God’s word*, where God’s law moral law with its penal sanctions have been abrogated, then I’m ready to listen. Show me in God’s word, that God has given the Nations a new standard of justice? This is where you’re all alone and naked IMHO; none of the men who wrote the WCF would be on your side in this debate, no not one!

  255. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Zrim wrote: “If our magistrates took our theonomist’s advice and executed our homosexuals I think that is unjust because only murder deserves death.”

    Amazing! I cannot find anything that extreme in Kline (yet). I wonder if it is there.

    -TurretinFan

  256. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Zrim wrote: “If our magistrates took our theonomist’s advice and executed our homosexuals I think that is unjust because only murder deserves death.”

    What does a man who rapes another man’s wife, beats here within a half inch of her life, and then rapes both of his little girls “deserve?” 10 years in jail and then parol, complete with a new suit and a job at the local mill? The Bible and several ANE cultures said death, same with many cultures today. What would your argument look like that shows they’re wrong?

  257. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 11:58 am

    @Jeff thanks for your thoughtful post. I think your last paragraph is where the wheels fell off. IMHO this is you: >Again: the curse of the Law is not God’s wrath against eaters of shellfish and pork. It is the curse that comes to us for failing to live up to the moral Law. If we continue in the punishments of the OT economy, to the letter, we are in essence retaining the outward form of the curse of the Law, just as if Jesus had never come and borne that curse for us.>

    Me: Jeff no one ‘I know’, is trying to retain the outward form of the Mosaic Covenant. I love eating crab, and lobster, and I eat them to the glory of God, because but God said, it was clean to eat shell fish. God’s change in redemptive history is seeing Promise and shadow giving way to reality. There are glorious awesome changes within the law; but God never said, his penal sanctions for moral crimes for both Jew and Gentile, have changed even one jot or title. Heaven and earth have not passed away. Moreover, John Calvin certainly didn’t believe that God’s penal sanctions were abrogated, and neither did the men at Westminster.

  258. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    @Paul, don’t forget; all the rapist would have to say, is that he is a believer, and Zrim would say, “Church discipline only”! lol!

  259. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Doug (#257):

    Moreover, John Calvin certainly didn’t believe that God’s penal sanctions were abrogated

    Why then does he say this:

    The allegation, that insult is offered to the law of God enacted by Moses, where it is abrogated and other new laws are preferred to it, is most absurd. Others are not preferred when they are more approved, not absolutely, but from regard to time and place, and the condition of the people, or when those things are abrogated which were never enacted for us. The Lord did not deliver it by the hand of Moses to be promulgated in all countries, and to be everywhere enforced; but having taken the Jewish nation under his special care, patronage, and guardianship, he was pleased to be specially its legislator, and as became a wise legislator, he had special regard to it in enacting laws. — Inst. 4.20.16

    Isn’t that quite clear?!

  260. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    @Zrim,

    Can you please show me the verse in the Bible, that says:

    God says, in times past he was furious with adultery and commanded both the man and woman to be put to death, but since sending His own Son, the Father has mellowed out. Now adultry is a Church discipline issue only, as is blasphemy, bestiality, and homosexuality. After all, let’s not wipe everyone out”.

    I haven’t seen that verse anywhere!

  261. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Zrim (#252): And what do you mean Herod’s laws weren’t a part of approximate justice? That’s all we get in this world. Approximate justice includes bad laws and good ones—that’s what makes it approximate.

    No, that makes it random and uncertain, as in Ecclesiastes. You’re saying, “good, bad, it’s all approximately just.” We might as well say, “good, bad, it’s all approximately unjust.”

    Or “green, blue, it’s all approximately red.”

    Approximations center around a true value and show defined variation from that value. Herod’s decree is outside the pale.

  262. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    @Jeff, no it isn’t. Calvin did not feel, the “judicial” or “moral” sanctions for both *Jew and Gentile* had been abrogated. We all agree that the Mosaic Laws, that pertained *for Israel alone*, have been changed, no doubt. And that IMHO is what Calvin is referring too. He certainly believed in the DP for rape, homosexuality, striking ones parents, blasphemy, murder, and kidnapping. For Calvin those were no brainers!

  263. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    #261 In responce to your responce to Zrim. Moreover, God’s law is an eye for and eye, tooth for a tooth, meaning perfect justice! God’s law never punished one hairs breath to hard, or too little. God’s law is the very personification of justice! And since God calls his Law justice, who is Zrim to say it was only approximate?

  264. David R. said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Doug, (260),

    “Can you please show me the verse in the Bible, that says:

    God says, in times past he was furious with adultery and commanded both the man and woman to be put to death, but since sending His own Son, the Father has mellowed out. Now adultry is a Church discipline issue only, as is blasphemy, bestiality, and homosexuality. After all, let’s not wipe everyone out.

    I haven’t seen that verse anywhere!”

    Regarding the question of the MC civil code as a blueprint for all nations, you might consider the implications of this passage:

    “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:28-31)

    Shadows have given way to substance. The MC is a thing of the past, but the curse sanctions that its civil penalties pointed to are far more serious than capital punishment.

  265. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Doug @258,

    “@Paul, don’t forget; all the rapist would have to say, is that he is a believer, and Zrim would say, “Church discipline only”! lol!

    Zrim would not say that, and that’s the kind of unhelpful rhetoric and sophistry that hinders constructive dialogue and doesn’t cultivate intellectual virtues. There’s epistemic oughts and standards for us too. Consider them as you tell others that the civil sphere needs to follow God’s special revelation standards.

  266. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Doug said @David Gadbois; yes it was moral, because God commanded them to do so. No, it wouldn’t be moral today, because God told us, “in his Word” that the circumstances have changed.

    Indeed, circumstances have changed. The theocratic nation-state of Israel is gone.

    That was easy. Now, if you can show me, *in God’s word*, where God’s law moral law with its penal sanctions have been abrogated,

    Again you repeat your own idiosyncratic fallacy that the judicial law is part of the moral law. Also, you impose your own hermeneutic that specific commands in Scripture must be specifically abrogated.

    then I’m ready to listen. Show me in God’s word, that God has given the Nations a new standard of justice?

    First off, God didn’t give “the nations” a standard of justice, he gave Israel a standard of justice.

    What you and Tfan aren’t really grappling with is that in both the Mosaic law and the conquering of Canaan, Israel was executing God’s justice. The latter is dismissed as a “specific” command and the former is labeled a “general” or universal command. But that is begging the question. It seems to me that in both cases God was using Israel to execute a certain cross-section of God’s wrath against evil, and that it is not necessarily true that all governments are called to these same tasks and offices as Israel was as an avenger for God. You admit this in regard to the conquest of Canaan, so you cannot simply argue that the Mosaic judicial law and penal sanctions *must* still hold since the standards of justice don’t change.

    The question must be, what cross-section of God’s justice has He appointed to modern governments, either in continuity (in some tasks) with Israel, or in discontinuity in others. Being an agent of wrath for God is a job that only comes by appointment, it is indeed *wrong* to carry out God’s wrath if the office does not belong to oneself, even if the end result is an equitable eye for an eye. That is why vigilante justice is wrong. That is why the church does not punish evil.

    In saying all of this I’m not really intending to argue for my position. I’m just showing that the argument that the Mosaic judicial law must apply today because the standards of justice don’t change is bogus. It is a question of office.

    This is where you’re all alone and naked IMHO; none of the men who wrote the WCF would be on your side in this debate, no not one!

    I hold to the 3 Forms of Unity, not the Westminster Standards. Guess you’re just gonna have to use your Bible, Doug.

  267. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Point taken Paul! I’ll take that as oil for my head. Please forgive me Zrim for putting words in your mouth that you wouldn’t have necessarily said. Now back to something contructive;where Zrim get shaky IMHO, is that he doesn’t have an objective moral standard he can appeal too. If he’s going to tell us, that Christ has typologically fulfilled the DP crimes in the Mosaic Covenant, so that it would no longer be moral for us to execute these sinful crimes, then by what Standard are we to punish, rape, homosexuality, kidnapping, blasphemy, and murder? This is why I say an appeal to general revelation is very subjective. Zrim has basically cut the legs off of any objective standard of socio justice

  268. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Tfan, do you agree with Doug that adulterers should be executed, just as they were in Massachusetts Bay in 1646?

    As for the judicial laws not being abrogated by Christ, WCF (the 1646 version) says those laws expired along with the state of Israel (19.4). If Christ did not do that I don’t know how did?

    BTW, I know Calvin did not pull the trigger on executing Servetus. But Calvin’s view of the civil magistrate’s responsibilities gave warrant for Servetus’ execution by the civil magistrate.

    I don’t believe pragmatic necessities should govern our morality. I do think consistency should govern arguments and if it is okay for you not to agree with the biblical understanding of the magistrate’s duties, it should also be okay for me. Or at least I’d think you’d have the good sense not to charge me with something of which you are guilty.

  269. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Doug, if morality does not change, and it was immoral for Israel to eat bacon, what are you ordering as a side these days for your eggs and hash browns? You don’t seem like a smoked tofu man.

  270. Neal said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    @Zrim (#241)

    Neal – “So by definition, what you are saying is that we should be seeking the status quo. No improvements, ever, for that would be hankering after a social prosperity gospel. “Approximate justice” reduces to a form of the naturalistic fallacy, in that whatever state a society is currently in, we must conclude that this is the way it is supposed to be.”

    Zrim responds – Neal, you almost make it sound like the regimes you and I don’t like are insufficient.

    Insufficiently in accordance with God’s revealed law? Absolutely. Shoving people into gas chambers for mass extermination is not sufficiently in accordance with God’s revealed law. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    But Romans 13 says that there is no civil authority that God not appoint. If God appoints then it is sufficient, regardless of whether anybody likes it.

    Your conclusion is not validly drawn from the premise. Just because God appoints civil authorities doesn’t mean that we can draw any particular conclusions about whether those civil authorities are sufficiently in accordance with God’s law, whether you are talking GR or SR.

    But, look, I would say that all societies fall within the category of approximate justice, and that within that range there are some better than others, so it’s not as if I don’t understand we can objectively evaluate or make distinctions between them. But I would also say that the way we all gauge what is better is every bit as much subjective as objective.

    You aren’t making much sense here. Can we objectively evaluate them or can’t we?

    I like my time and place, but I think that as at least as much to do with it being mine as it has to do with it objectively being better.

    That’s why we don’t evaluate them on the basis of what we like, but on the objective standard of God’s law.

    Do you suggest adding SR to medical training the way you suggest it be added to social and political ordering?

    No, but then again that’s only because God has not explicitly revealed anything about medical training in SR.

    I’m not clear on it either, but you’re the one championing social improvement.

    I’ve talked about “improving society” it is true. But I think the term “social improvement” is a loaded term with lots of baggage, so I would prefer to avoid it. When I talk about improving society, I’m talking about applying God’s law, whether GR or SR. To take an example, I think banning abortion would be an “improvement” in that it would make our laws more consistent with God’s law. Regardless of what the temporal effects may be (for example some have argued that crime is lower because of abortion).

  271. Zrim said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    Paul (#256), I’m not a jurist, so I don’t feel comfortable deciding your characteristically loaded and provocative hypothetical (indulging your hysterical hypo’s is always a minefield). But all I am saying is that murder is what deserves capital punishment. Heinous crimes deserve severe punishment, but if they do not include actually taking a life then I don’t think it rises to the level of capital.

    So, the onus seems to be on others to show just why a life should be taken when another hasn’t. After all, that is the stipulation of the Noahic covenant: Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind. It doesn’t say, “Whoever does something really heinous but short of murder shall be put to death.”

    Doug, just a friendly bit of general advice. When you suggest that those with whom you disagree are opposed to God you sound a lot like the revivalists who accused the confessionalists of being unregenerate because of their criticisms. Like RSC suggests, who can argue with one who presumes him to be so completely bankrupt? So, take a deep breath and calm down a bit.

    Re your Biblicist request for a proof-text in #260, you have been repeatedly answered on all of this. But you have it quite wrong that I am saying certain crimes only get church discipline. What I am saying is that some sins are also crimes, like rape. And when a believer commits one he is subject to spiritual discipline by his church and bodily punishment by the state. Why is this so hard for you?

    Jeff (#261), no I am saying that Herod, like any other temporal ruler, doled out bad law and good law and it all gets put into a bag called proximate justice. If all he doled out was good law then we’d have perfect justice

  272. dgh said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    BTW, Doug, if you see the law and say “yippee-yay-ay” you are indeed a better man than I. You see, I am a sinner and the law does not offer me comfort. But as long as my savior is at the ready, I’ll be okay. Must be nice to be comforted by something that should scare us to death.

  273. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    David Gadbois says

    Sorry David, but that’s not what my Bible says please consider Isaiah 51:4

    “Give attention to me, my people, and give ear to me, my nation; for a law will go out from me, and I will set my justice for a light to the peoples”.

    God holy law was to set a standard of justice for all the nations! Just as we are to be a light for the world, God’s law is a light to the peoples!

  274. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    @dgh,

    Come Dr Hart, is that the best you can do? God himself told Peter that all foods are now clean, it doesnt follow from there, that the DP for rape has changed.

  275. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    “Must be nice to be comforted by something that should scare us to death.”

    To which we respond with Psalm 119, Zain (49-56):

    Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself. Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law. This I had, because I kept thy precepts.

    The law no longer frightens those of us who have been released from the curse of the law – now it only delights and comforts us. But it should scare some.

    -TurretinFan

  276. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Hi David,

    “It seems to me that in both cases God was using Israel to execute a certain cross-section of God’s wrath against evil, and that it is not necessarily true that all governments are called to these same tasks and offices as Israel was as an avenger for God.”

    God’s wrath will punish all sin with eternal death, why think all the civil crimes that had even lighter penalties than we have today represent God’s wrath against evil? Not all civil crimes deserved death in the Mosaic economy, so what’s the reason to think they’re intrusions of the final judgment into history? In many instances, the laws and penalties seem too practical for that, too earthy. Thoughts?

  277. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Doug said God holy law was to set a standard of justice for all the nations! Just as we are to be a light for the world, God’s law is a light to the peoples!

    This is not a reference to the Mosaic law. The Mosaic law had “gone out” centuries before Isaiah. It is in reference to a future edict of God’s. See Calvin’s commentary on this point.

  278. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    @David R. Are you saying that bestiality is no longer a death penalty offense? How did Christ’s death at Calvary change how a Nation should punish crime? And by that, I mean crimes for both Israel and the Gentiles? How do you jump from ceremonial sanctions that we all agree have been changed, (animal sacrifice, circumscion, washings, moons, Passover, Temple sacrifice) to not executing a rapist? Why would it be unjust to execute a homosexual today? And oddly, you still want the DP for murderers, but not for the other DP worthy crimes. How did Christ’s death, change the DP?

  279. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    #269 Moreover dgh, the laws that only pertained to Israel, like the dietary laws, the washings, animal sacrifices, the days and moons were not *moral*, in the same way, as were the laws for both Israel and the Gentiles. So your point is muddled, as per usual.

  280. Zrim said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Insufficiently in accordance with God’s revealed law? Absolutely. Shoving people into gas chambers for mass extermination is not sufficiently in accordance with God’s revealed law. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
    Your conclusion is not validly drawn from the premise. Just because God appoints civil authorities doesn’t mean that we can draw any particular conclusions about whether those civil authorities are sufficiently in accordance with God’s law, whether you are talking GR or SR.

    Neal, you’re making the same point Jeff is: when a magistrate doles out bad law means his rule is insufficient. No, it means he doles out bad law sometimes. But he also doles out good law, which means he gives us proximate justice no matter who he is, which means he is sufficient to punish evil and reward good. That God appointed him is the key, not what accord his laws have with God’s revealed law.

    You aren’t making much sense here. Can we objectively evaluate them or can’t we?

    How is that unclear? I said “it’s not as if I don’t understand we can objectively evaluate or make distinctions between them.” The point was that we can’t and don’t make absolutely objective assessments of these things.

    That’s why we don’t evaluate them on the basis of what we like, but on the objective standard of God’s law.

    See, you’re not accounting for or admitting to how human beings actually work. But you evaluate America as much with patriotic measures as you do with its measuring up to God’s law. You’re just not admitting it because it will hurt your case.

    I said, “Do you suggest adding SR to medical training the way you suggest it be added to social and political ordering?”

    To which you responded, No, but then again that’s only because God has not explicitly revealed anything about medical training in SR.

    He also hasn’t explicitly revealed anything about running a country (hi, Tfan). He hasn’t said anything that would suggest a commonwealth is preferred to a monarchy. Sure, there is talk about health and rulers, but if one is going to suggest that the Bible should be added to ideas on how to run a country then he should be willing to allow for it to be added to medical endeavors.

    When I talk about improving society, I’m talking about applying God’s law, whether GR or SR. To take an example, I think banning abortion would be an “improvement” in that it would make our laws more consistent with God’s law. Regardless of what the temporal effects may be (for example some have argued that crime is lower because of abortion).

    Ban it how? Federal outlawing, or states’ rights? What does SR say? I say states’ rights, but I don’t see anything in the Bible to back me up. But I don’t think this will improve society, it will only maintain it.

  281. David R. said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Doug (#278),

    Did you even read the Hebrews passage? ALL sin is worthy of death, but the “death” that the Mosaic civil penalties merely pointed to cannot be inflicted by civil magistrates.

  282. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    DGH wrote:

    Doug, if morality does not change, and it was immoral for Israel to eat bacon, what are you ordering as a side these days for your eggs and hash browns? You don’t seem like a smoked tofu man.

    This response suggests an inability to understand the difference between moral and ceremonial law.

    -TurretinFan

  283. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Doug Sowers, et al,

    Professor David Van Drunen is a leading scholar and advocate for Escondido 2K or Westminster 2K (or R2K or PC 2K). Here’s a very thoughtful book review by Professor James Anderson about Professor Van Drunen’s book:

    Two Kingdoms, Ten Commandments, One Objection.

  284. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    @David Gadbois, Jesus said,

    Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

    Christ did indeed fulfill the ceremonial law, but let’s take him at his word; Christ didn’t usher in a new morality or standard of justice! We are called to be a light of the world, the salt of the earth.

    Take heed to verse 19:

    Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven.

    Isn’t that what you’re doing? We no longer have an objective standard of justice? Is it no longer moral to execute a homosexual? How did Christ’s death change morality and justice? Aren’t you teaching men that God’s universal punishments for *all men* found in his law, have been relaxed?

  285. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Doug (#278),

    Did you even read the Hebrews passage? ALL sin is worthy of death, but the “death” that the Mosaic civil penalties merely pointed to cannot be inflicted by civil magistrates.

    Huh? That is not what that passage says IMHO. In fact, I think your off by a mile. The magistrate is not mentioned, or even alluded too.

  286. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    You wrote:

    Tfan, do you agree with Doug that adulterers should be executed, just as they were in Massachusetts Bay in 1646?

    I don’t recall the specifics of that law, but I think it was essentially the same as the Mosaic law. I don’t have a problem with either the law of Moses or the law of Mass. Bay (as I remember it). If you do have a problem with the law of Moses or the law of Mass. Bay, I’d love to know why. It might help me change my mind about it.

    You wrote:

    As for the judicial laws not being abrogated by Christ, WCF (the 1646 version) says those laws expired along with the state of Israel (19.4).

    Yes. “Expired.”

    You wrote:

    If Christ did not do that I don’t know how did?

    How about Titus Flavius Vespasianus? At least, he was the instrumental means by which the nation of Israel was destroyed.

    You wrote:

    BTW, I know Calvin did not pull the trigger on executing Servetus. But Calvin’s view of the civil magistrate’s responsibilities gave warrant for Servetus’ execution by the civil magistrate.

    Considering that Servetus came to Geneva under death sentence elsewhere (he managed to escape prior to execution of that sentence), it’s hardly attributable to Calvin’s theological influence.

    You wrote:

    I don’t believe pragmatic necessities should govern our morality. I do think consistency should govern arguments and if it is okay for you not to agree with the biblical understanding of the magistrate’s duties, it should also be okay for me. Or at least I’d think you’d have the good sense not to charge me with something of which you are guilty.

    Well I’m glad to hear the first sentence of that, and I agree with the sentiment expressed in your last sentence. On the other hand, the issue of departure from Calvin (which I think is the one on your mind) is one of degree. You disagree with him on a very fundamental level, whereas my disagreements with him are much more minor. In fact, my points of disagreement don’t even show up in the WCF 1646, whereas yours do (i.e. you cannot hold to the WCF 1646).

    I don’t, of course, think it is ok for anyone to disagree with the Bible – either you or me. If you persuade me that I’m out of accord with Scripture, I’ll recant and reform.

    -TurretinFan

  287. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Zrim @271,

    “Paul (#256), I’m not a jurist, so I don’t feel comfortable deciding your characteristically loaded and provocative hypothetical”

    If you can’t present an argument for the claim you make, just say so. You said “only murder deserved the DP,” and so at the very least you should say that the situation I have doesn’t deserve the DP.

    Moreover, I asked you to argue for your claim that “only murder deserves the DP.” You keep making assertions and when asked to present reasons for your view, you launch into the above kinds of hand waving.

    Finally, this is no mere hypothetical. It happens quite often, actually. Indeed, situations much worse happen. Shall I link to the news reports. So on al counts your diversionary tactic fails.

    “But all I am saying is that murder is what deserves capital punishment.”

    You said “only” murder deserves the DP. If this is what you mean here, yeah, we got you. You’ve said it more than once. I’m asking for an argument for the claim. I want to know what reasons there are for thinking it’s true. You’ll have to pardon me for not just accepting your say-so.

    “So, the onus seems to be on others to show just why a life should be taken when another hasn’t.”

    You’re making an assertion, you have burden.

    However, surely you aren’t saying it’s immoral to take a life for reasons other than murder, because that would implicate you in saying that biblical penalties were immoral. So you must mean that now it is immoral to take a life for anything other than murder. But why think that? Indeed, that notion is a relatively recent phenomena. In fact, Genesis 20, which DVD argues shows natural law, could easily be taken as showing that adultery deserves death. The king wasn’t incredulous that he deserved death, he tried to explain his innocence.

    There’s serious legal debate right now about child molesters getting the death penalty. So it’s not obvious that child molestation shouldn’t deserve death. You apparently think it’s obvious, so what would your argument look like?

  288. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Doug (#262): Calvin did not feel, the “judicial” or “moral” sanctions for both *Jew and Gentile* had been abrogated.

    I’m sorry, but I must strongly dissent. You have equated “moral” and “judicial sanctions” in your mind, and assume that Calvin does likewise. But he very, very clearly states that the judicial sanctions for Israel do not apply to governments today, and calls it a “folly” to think otherwise.

  289. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    @Jeff, by what standard do you think John Calvin believed, (and he did believe) that blasphemers, rapists, adulterers, homosexuals, and murderers should be executed, were it not for God’s law?

  290. David R. said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Doug (#285),

    “The magistrate is not mentioned, or even alluded too.”

    Exactly!

  291. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Neal: “To take an example, I think banning abortion would be an “improvement” in that it would make our laws more consistent with God’s law.”

    Zrim: “Ban it how? Federal outlawing, or states’ rights? What does SR say? I say states’ rights, but I don’t see anything in the Bible to back me up. But I don’t think this will improve society, it will only maintain it.

    Zrim, why don’t you think banning abortion (which is in accordance with the Decalogue) will improve society?

    Since you are a professing Christian, your statement is rather puzzling.

  292. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Come on David R. as I have pointed out many times, Rome would have scoffed at inforcing the Law of God. Hebrews 10 has nothing to do with the Mgistrate, but Heb 10, in no way precludes the Magistrate from carrying out justice. Two complete different issues. IMHO.

  293. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Doug said Christ did indeed fulfill the ceremonial law, but let’s take him at his word; Christ didn’t usher in a new morality or standard of justice! We are called to be a light of the world, the salt of the earth.

    When one line of argument fails, just pretend it didn’t happen and bring up some tired prooftexts as a shibboleth.

    The text doesn’t actually have any of the distinctions you want it to have. Christ fulfilled the *entire* law. Vs. 18 “accomplished” explains how Christ “fullfilled” the law in vs. 17.

    Isn’t that what you’re doing? We no longer have an objective standard of justice? Is it no longer moral to execute a homosexual? How did Christ’s death change morality and justice? Aren’t you teaching men that God’s universal punishments for *all men* found in his law, have been relaxed?

    Again, you insert your own assertions about the punishments being “universal” and for “all men.”

  294. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    David G., any thoughts on my 276? Just interested.

  295. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    @Jeff, my gut feeling is that when Calvin states that “sanctions for Israel do not apply to governments today”, Calvin meant sanctions for *Israel alone*! He *could not* mean the penal sanctions for both *Jew and Gentile*, unless you think Calvin was hopelessly incoherent. Calvin favored the DP for all the DP worthy crimes that Paul mentions in 1 Tim 1:8-11. Which is what this debate is all about, amen? Therefore, there can be no doubt that Calvin would side with theonomy, when it comes to the DP for all the DP crimes mentioned by Paul in that “good law”.

  296. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    David Gadbois certain laws with there punishments, were for both Israel and the unbelievers that sojourned there. That what makes them universal! I’m not talking about laws that were *just* for Israel. These were laws that all men had to keep; laws like…..well why not read 1Tim 1:8-11.

  297. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Tfan, no 263 (I think – step away for a few hour and y’all start blathering),

    I agree with nos. 1 and 2. I wonder, however, if there might be a third source for informing the civil magistrate, namely the wisdom to be gathered from the civil-law as used in other nations. I’m thinking here not so much of a contemporary comparison between one nation’s laws and another’s, but historical comparisons.

    It seems to me that one of the general revelation related functions of history is to demonstrate what God approves and disapproves. Admittedly, as with all general revelation, the issues of approximately knowledge examined by man under the noetic defects of the fall is in view.

    Nevertheless, does not the Bible suggest that God adorns history with evidence of his temporal blessings/cursings on pagan nations according to how consistent their laws (written and applied of course) are with his unchanging moral law?

    If I’m onto something here, this seems to be a bit more than a nuancing of the two you’ve listed. If so, I think it should be identified as a source in its own right.

    What do you think?

  298. curate said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    dgh: I gave you the Philadelphia legal code as part of general revelation. So far all I’ve heard in response is crickets.

    Not having my personal copy of the said legal code readily available, I still have no idea what the answer to my question is.

    What are the laws of GR, and how do they differ from, or agree with, the Ten Commandments? A short list will do.

  299. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Sorry, Paul. I didn’t catch your post before.

    God’s wrath will punish all sin with eternal death, why think all the civil crimes that had even lighter penalties than we have today represent God’s wrath against evil?

    I think I see the point you are getting at, but I would have a hard time reducing the penalties to just being practical punishments. They were punitive, retributive in nature and sought to maintain some balance of equity (at the very least horizontally speaking, and sometimes vertically speaking as well). The punitive nature and vengefulness of the penalties tells me that they were a function of God’s wrath/retributive justice.

  300. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Doug said David Gadbois certain laws with there punishments, were for both Israel and the unbelievers that sojourned there. That what makes them universal!

    That doesn’t sound very universal to me. That sounds like it applies to sojourners through Israel, a nation that no longer exists as such.

    These were laws that all men had to keep; laws like…..well why not read 1Tim 1:8-11.

    Yes, we’ve been over that. Rather than lazily repeating your prooftexts why don’t you provide some exegesis to support your position.

  301. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks David. I wouldn’t reduce them to “just” practical punishments, but I’m wondering why one would want to classify all of them as intrusions of God’s eschatological judgment against sin/ners? It seems like the paradigm cases of said intrusions involve death, a removal from the land, which I can see as representing God’s final punishment of sin and the removal of all the wicked—whether expulsion or harem warfare. But why think, say, working off what you stole is an example of God intruding into history and fast forwarding the final judgment? This isn’t analagous to retributive justice for sin, which deserves death. A key component to retributive justice is “fittingness,” and one can see how death penalties picture final judgment but not many other penalties, as they don’t “fit” that picture of final judgment.

  302. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Doug, no. 300 (David Gadbois’ last paragraph): Yes, Doug, it would be important for you to offer some exegesis of this passage. I’ve already challenged you on a few times. Perhaps you didn’t see my last comment regarding it?

    You are reading into this passage your own presuppositions. You have an inference in the passage (it applies to civil magistrates). Yet nothing in the text, or the immediate context proves that this is a necessary inference. You need to establish the inference’s necessity from an appeal to other passages outside this one.

    Unless/until you do, the passage simply does not support your usage. You’re wrong, at least as far as you’ve demonstrated. Follow up with some commenting demonstrating where/how the Bible supports your usage.

  303. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Paul, I wouldn’t say that all (or perhaps even most) instances of God’s wrath/retributive justice are big-daddy eschatological instrusions, some are just plain ol’ eye-for-an-eye punishments (but I’d still say wrathful/vengeful). What I’m just trying to avoid is a governing assumption one way or the other.

  304. Paul said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    But then intrusion ethics can’t be used to say we can’t mine civil case laws for moral principles that are still applicable today, or no?

  305. David Gadbois said,

    February 9, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I would agree, Paul.

  306. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Doug (#289): …by what standard do you think John Calvin believed, (and he did believe) that blasphemers, rapists, adulterers, homosexuals, and murderers should be executed, were it not for God’s law?

    I think he distinguished, as I’ve urged that we do also, between the general equity of the law, which he identifies with the principle of charity; and the specific judicial punishments of the Mosaic code.

    Here’s Calvin: And as that exercise in ceremonies properly pertained to the doctrine of piety, inasmuch as it kept the Jewish Church in the worship and religion of God, yet was still distinguishable from piety itself, so the judicial form, though it looked only to the best method of preserving that charity which is enjoined by the eternal law of God, was still something distinct from the precept of love itself. Therefore, as ceremonies might be abrogated without at all interfering with piety, so also, when these judicial arrangements are removed, the duties and precepts of charity can still remain perpetual. — Inst 4.20.15.

    He clearly believed that death penalty for those crimes you mention was universally equitable.

    By contrast, he did *not* believe that four-fold repayment for theft was universally equitable, as the discussion of Inst 4.20.16 makes clear.

    Calvin’s core idea is this:

    What I have said will become plain if we attend, as we ought, to two things connected with all laws, viz., the enactment of the law, and the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests. Equity, as it is natural, cannot but be the same in all, and therefore ought to be proposed by all laws, according to the nature of the thing enacted. As constitutions have some circumstances on which they partly depend, there is nothing to prevent their diversity, provided they all alike aim at equity as their end. — Inst. 4.20.16.

    There is universal equity, diversity of implementation. I think David R has shown that this was Ursinus’ position, also.

    The problem with Bahnsen is that he cannot get past the equation “OT law = justice.” He cannot distinguish between the equity of the law and the way a particular nation implemented that equity; and so he cannot imagine that there is any other way to do justice, than to resurrect OT law.

    But a simple thought experiment shows that the equation is wrong. Imagine a day in the future in which our brains are wired, and therefore hackable. And imagine that it were possible to determine when someone is having an illicit lustful thought. We know that such thoughts are morally equivalent to adultery. The penalty, therefore, ought to be stoning, right?

    Farewell, human race.

    And the point here is that under the OT law, with its severe penalties prefiguring the wrath of God upon sin, there was inevitable pressure towards externalism: to take the law and its punishments as literally as possible, working out a detailed system of “what constitutes work on the Sabbath”, and “what are grounds for divorce”, and so on.

    This is the inevitable sinful human response to law. The law awakens disobedience in us.

    What is needed in order to have a different response (says Calvin, based on the Scriptures) is the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit is received through the Gospel.

    If you were to become king of Dougistan and implement the OT law, I fear that you would learn only that the law does not bring righteousness. The kingdom of God does not advance through the law. It is proclaimed instead in Jesus, the one who frees us from the curse of the Law and at the same time creates the desire and ability in us to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law, not through fear of punishment, but out of love.

    Theonomy misses this (though, praise God, many theonomists do not, through happy inconsistency!) because it does not admit to the typological aspect of God’s civil law for Israel.

    Bahnsen: Some people try to draw a line between ‘moral’ and ‘civil’ laws
    with the intention of giving the impression that the latter class are
    mere matters of time-bound administration which are irrelevant
    today; in this way they can shave off those laws of God which
    have social and punitive application. Yet Scripture recognizes no
    such demarcation.”
    — Theonomy in Christian Ethics, cited in No Other Standard, 91.

    Calvin: As I have undertaken to describe the laws by which Christian polity is to be governed, there is no reason to expect from me a long discussion on the best kind of laws. The subject is of vast extent, and belongs not to this place. I will only briefly observe, in passing, what the laws are which may be piously used with reference to God, and duly administered among men.

    This I would rather have passed in silence, were I not aware that many dangerous errors are here committed. 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. — Inst 4.20.14.

    The contrast is clear, it seems.

  307. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Jeff says;

    Bottom line Jeff, Calvin and Greg Bahnsen are in 100% agreement that 1 Tim. 1:8-11 applies today on all Magistrates. And Calvin believed that every one of those DP crimes mentioned, were worthy of death TODAY, as do I. How we apply laws on stealing must come from the general equity of the law, sure enough, but even Calvin looks to the Law. That’s all I am saying, that Scripture is to be our Standard for justice.

  308. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    @Jeff, I do appreciate you taking the time to give me a detailed perspective of Calvin, but with that said, I think your post is riddled with misunderstandings about Bahnsen, and me. I have never, and I mean, never, had trouble with seeing typology. I love the majesty of Christ coming and fulfilling all the ceremonial foreshadows at Calvary’s cross. Yes, I believe that Christ’s perfect life is imputed to my record, by grace through faith. What I still don’t understand, is how Jesus death on the cross, changed the penalty for murder, rape, homosexuality, blasphemy, striking your parents or theft. I don’t see one Scripture anywhere in the New Testament even imply that notion. Can you show me an example in the NT, where you see a change in how are to punish the crimes I mentioned above, because of the cross?

  309. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Doug (#307): That’s all I am saying, that Scripture is to be our Standard for justice.

    Brother, we can agree on that. We may disagree as to what that looks like — do we take the Mosaic penalties as the prescription for just punishment or not — but we agree that the moral law is the basis for saying “this is wrong, that’s not.”

  310. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    @dgh; BTW, Doug, if you see the law and say “yippee-yay-ay” you are indeed a better man than I. You see, I am a sinner and the law does not offer me comfort. But as long as my savior is at the ready, I’ll be okay. Must be nice to be comforted by something that should scare us to death.

    If the law is so spooking, then why did King David love the law? King David was BC, yet David saw the Law aright, because he saw Christ as its aim. David knew that he needed a savior; and he saw the law graciously pointing to a day when he would be redeemed. All one need do, is read Psalm 119 and you will quickly see my point. You’re seeing the Law like a reprobate, all duty with no way of keeping it.

    But the Law seen through the eyes of faith sees grace! You need to practice what you preach, and start thinking typologically. The whole ceremonial law was the gospel in figures! It was all about Christ in shadow form, showing how God through vicarious sacrifice would redeem his people. It was anticipatory, yet still glorious.

    Now for the reprobate, they saw the Law, a means of merit, something they must do in there own strength. But the elect saw it as a refection of God character, and saw mercy and grace. They understood that it must be kept through faith. This is why King David could say,

    “Oh how I love you law”,

    “Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise”

    “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law”.

    Especially look at this verse 32: I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”

    Notice how David understood that obedience could not be accomplished in his own strength?

    The Law taught David that truth! David could see the grace in the Law itself, because he was a man of faith. And that’s why he loved the Law, because the Law seen correctly could see Jesus!

    Give me your Law graciously!

  311. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    BTW DGH, I was in no way implying that you are a reprobate.

  312. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    @Jeff, amen and amen! :-)

  313. TurretinFan said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Reed:

    Thanks for your comment. You wrote:

    I wonder, however, if there might be a third source for informing the civil magistrate, namely the wisdom to be gathered from the civil-law as used in other nations. I’m thinking here not so much of a contemporary comparison between one nation’s laws and another’s, but historical comparisons.

    It seems to me that one of the general revelation related functions of history is to demonstrate what God approves and disapproves. Admittedly, as with all general revelation, the issues of approximately knowledge examined by man under the noetic defects of the fall is in view.

    Nevertheless, does not the Bible suggest that God adorns history with evidence of his temporal blessings/cursings on pagan nations according to how consistent their laws (written and applied of course) are with his unchanging moral law?

    If I’m onto something here, this seems to be a bit more than a nuancing of the two you’ve listed. If so, I think it should be identified as a source in its own right.

    I certainly agree that history a source for informing the civil magistrate as a general matter. In other words, a wise civil magistrate will not be ignorant of history. There are a thousand reasons for this.

    But do those thousands of reasons include “to gain information about the moral principles that govern civil magistrates”?

    Well, in one limited sense, certainly yes. Just as a horizontal survey of public opinion today gives us some indirect knowledge of the state of the conscience of the populace, so a vertical survey of historical laws show us the state of the consciences of those who went before us.

    You propose another test though – basically a test of whether a regime has enjoyed God’s blessings as a reward for a degree of fidelity to his moral law. This approach has some intuitive appeal, since sometimes God rewards obedience. On the other hand, we also find plenty of Scriptural examples of the opposite – of the wicked prospering.

    I am rather hesitant (perhaps even more than some of my Reformed ancestors) to draw a lot of conclusions from the duration, extent, or wealth of a regime. Partly, I am hesitant because God can bless a nation for a lot of reasons, and because God’s common grace (as we historically use that term) is give both to the wicked and the righteous. In other words, temporal blessing come to both groups.

    Partly, I am hesitant because there is nothing that clearly sets apart the laws of successful nations from failures. Partly, I am hesitant because even if we identify successful nations as successful because their laws were generally just, it’s hard to draw any particular conclusions from that.

    Perhaps such a presumption would lead us to use their laws a starting point or template, but such a presumption wouldn’t be a very good reason to adopt any particular law.

    Do we seem to be of one mind about this?

    -TurretinFan

  314. Reed Here said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Tfan: for the unregenerate magistrate, it is a principle in operation regardless of his awareness. A Seneca can pursue justice and secure that which will be used of God.

    Of course, this all can’t be fully known until eternity. For the Christian magistrate, yes it serves as a starting point. Or may better, it serves as a foundational promise, a rail which constrains and controls, but does not necessarily get one the the destination.

    Make sense?

    (I think we’re more or less on the same page.)

  315. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Doug (#308): What I still don’t understand, is how Jesus death on the cross, changed the penalty for murder, rape, homosexuality, blasphemy, striking your parents or theft.

    I’ll give this a shot, and then be quiet for a while. I can say that I appreciate your zeal to resist antinomianism, and that I’ve been persuaded by Kurt and you and others that the Puritans held to a strong sense of the “general equity” of the Mosaic law, including the death penalty for various crimes.

    I’m not sure where that leaves me, but at least the historical record is more clear.

    The big change that occurs with the advent of Jesus, and not the death per se, is that the true Israel comes on to the scene, the eternal King and descendant of David, who shall reign forever.

    With his birth, the nation of Israel, as a monarchy under whomever, begins to expire. And expire it does in AD 70. No longer is there a nation who can lay claim to being God’s peculiar and set-apart people. Instead, there is a nation made up of all tongues and tribes who belongs to the true king — and that nation is the church. This is not to say that the church did not exist prior to this time; but rather, that it had been located within a particular nation and ethnic group. No longer. Now, members of all nations are invited to belong to God’s nation. Now, the church has a government that is separate from that of the magistrate (Rom 13).

    To the government of that church is given a particular punishment: excommunication of the offender (Matt 18 and 1 Cor 5). For those who repent, of course, excommunication is a form of discipline that restores. But for those who do not repent, excommunication is the outward sign of God’s wrath. This is why Paul calls it “handing over to Satan” in 1 Cor 5.

    What then of the government of nations? Unlike the nation of Israel, those nations as geopolitical units have no inherent tie to the Gospel.This is the change. No longer can a particular government be called “God’s people”, for the king of such a people would be stepping into David’s shoes — and those shoes are already filled.

    Can the governors of nations learn justice from God’s Law? Yes, they can. From God’s Law, they can learn to distinguish right from wrong. They can and should “countenance the church” as the Confession puts it, and even promote piety. To be concrete, the decalogue reflects the moral law of God and the covenant of works laid upon Adam and his descendants. It is therefore of universal force, and can be commended as the standard of righteousness everywhere. Magistrates would do well to think of the decalogue as the basic norm of righteousness.

    But the magistrates’ laws are human laws, and do not carry the force of divine sanction. The Mosaic Law was God’s Law, the unarguable Word of the Lord, and was given as a part of the covenant. It begins with “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” And any ambiguities in the Law were resolved by Moses the prophet of the Lord, or by the Urim and Thummim.

    There is no such infallible Word of the Lord to the nations today. No nation can claim to be God’s people. No magistrate has recourse to receive the Word of the Lord to resolve questions of judgment. For this reason, the laws of men cannot be and should not pretend to be the Law of God.

    So this is our major difference: though we might learn general justice from the Law, we cannot fashion our laws after the Mosaic Law and say of it, “Thus saith the Lord.” The magistrate of Rome, or America, has no divine sanction for his particular laws. He only has the general sanction of his office: He has been appointed to reward the good and punish the evildoer.

    Further: since the magistrate and the church have been separated, the Law does not come forth any longer from Sinai, but from Zion, from the church. It is to the church, and through her to Christ, that the nations — people, not magistrates! — come streaming to learn the Law of God, that it might be written on the heart.

    So it is the expiration of Israel as a nation that causes the OT civil law to expire as the standard for the laws of nations.

    Nations may emulate that law if they wish; but even if they do, they cannot say with confidence, “This is God’s Law.” For that law was given to Israel and not them, and there is no guarantee that what was suitable for Israel might be suitable for them. For example: we might find general principles of justice in the command “do not steal”; but there is no guarantee that we accurately apply those principles to cases of intellectual property.

    I could go further and argue that the magistrate needs to keep out of the church’s business, and thus the 1st table.

    But let me stop there, because I think I’ve recapitulated the argument that lies behind the Confessional statement:

    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. — WCoF 19.4.

  316. Neal said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    @Zrim (#280)

    Neal, you’re making the same point Jeff is: when a magistrate doles out bad law means his rule is insufficient.

    Um, no that is not what I said.

    But he also doles out good law, which means he gives us proximate justice no matter who he is, which means he is sufficient to punish evil and reward good. That God appointed him is the key, not what accord his laws have with God’s revealed law.

    Which makes your earlier question about whether we should not be seeking after (ap)proximate justice rather than perfect justice an exercise in bad faith. If “proximate justice” is a term that can be applied to all manner of civil magistrates on the continuum of wicked to righteous rulers, it is a vague, meaningless term.

    Neal – “That’s why we don’t evaluate them on the basis of what we like, but on the objective standard of God’s law.”

    Zrim responds – See, you’re not accounting for or admitting to how human beings actually work.

    Aren’t I? I say we need an objective standard because we are too biased by our own preferences to be able to rightly evaluate societies, and you say I’m not accounting for how human beings actually work?

    But you evaluate America as much with patriotic measures as you do with its measuring up to God’s law. You’re just not admitting it because it will hurt your case.

    On the contrary it would strengthen my case. I’ve already said we’re biased, therefore we are in need of an objective standard, and your response is “but you aren’t taking into account your own biases!”. Um, okay if you say so.

    He also hasn’t explicitly revealed anything about running a country

    Israel was not a country? ;-)

    Ban it how? Federal outlawing, or states’ rights? What does SR say? I say states’ rights, but I don’t see anything in the Bible to back me up. But I don’t think this will improve society, it will only maintain it.

    Pick one, whatever tickles your fancy. I am not one of the opinion that the Bible gives us exhaustive details on how to uphold his law in every permutation of civil magistracy. It’s the general principles that I am after.

  317. Doug Sowers said,

    February 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    @dgh; Look at King David’s opinion God’s Law, and please ask yourself, why you don’t see it like he did?

    . Here are some excerpts from 119. (My favorite chapter in the whole Bible.)

    “At midnight I rise to praise you, because of your righteous rules.”

    Notice David did not find the rules a burden? He praised God for his righteous rules.

    “The Law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces”.

    Once again, David loved the Law!

    “Let your mercy come to me, that I may live, for your law is my delight”

    Once again David saw grace was the key to fulfilling God’s rules, and he delighted in the Law.

    “Oh how I love your Law! It is my meditation all the day.

    David wasn’t scared a bit, was he?

    “Accept my free will offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules”.

    Once again, David was completely dependent of God’s grace.

    “My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.”

    This is how I feel when my brethren (like you) who don’t feel our society should obey the Law.

    “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules”.

    Doesn’t sound like David thought those picky case laws were a bummer!

    “O long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight.

    This is a biggie! Notice David knew he wasn’t saved by the works of the Law, he knew it was through promise!

    I could go on and on dgh, but I would be interested in a response, as to why you and King David have such different views of Gods Law. It’s almost as stark as night and day. Same for Zrim, David Gadois, and David R. Please feel free to explain.

  318. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 9, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    George Gillespie shows quite clearly in his book “Aaron’s Rod Blossoming” that their was a separation of Church and State within Israel prior to Christ’s Advent.

  319. curate said,

    February 10, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Doug, keep up the good work.

    dgh: The reason for the abolition of the Mosaic Law was the creation of the new Israel consisting of ingrafted Gentiles and Jews, and those laws had to go because their function as a wall of division had become obsolete.

    IOW the Jewish laws were abolished not because they were too harsh, made others feel uncomfortable, forbade freedom of religion to idolators, overthrew the constitution of the USA, because God had a change of heart and became more merciful, or because the human race is more enlightened and better informed.

    The real reason is that they kept believing Jews and Gentiles from becoming one people under God. The end.

  320. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 72 I think may be helpful here. He has a lot to say concerning this issue in that passage.

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom10.vii.i.html

  321. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

    You said “only murder deserved the DP,” and so at the very least you should say that the situation I have doesn’t deserve the DP.

    Paul, the situation you describe doesn’t deserve the DP. It also doesn’t deserve 10 years and a new suit.

    Moreover, I asked you to argue for your claim that “only murder deserves the DP.” You keep making assertions and when asked to present reasons for your view, you launch into the above kinds of hand waving.

    The Noahic covenant was a creational covenant. It includes the DP for murder only. You pointed to societies that execute for lesser crimes. They are out of accord with the explicit creational covenant, which is also known by implicitly nature. What they’re doing so does show is that everyone has a clear sense of right and wrong and that good should be rewarded and wrong should be punished. But that they stumble on the details shows that human beings are also deficient in their understanding of what is clear.

    There’s serious legal debate right now about child molesters getting the death penalty. So it’s not obvious that child molestation shouldn’t deserve death. You apparently think it’s obvious, so what would your argument look like?

    That it’s not obvious that sexual predators shouldn’t be executed is a function of human deficiency in reading both SR and GR. So that there is great debate right now only shows how deficient we are. So if you want to say that sexual crimes deserve death then I still think the onus is on you to show why the explicit Noahic covenant (which is also known implicitly by nature) is insufficient. I say it’s sufficient and by implication obviously rules out death for anything less than murder.

  322. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 9:55 am

    TUAD (#291), I don’t think banning abortion will improve society because nothing really does. You can ban abortion but another social ill arises. I do oppose the legalization of abortion, but I don’t hold any illusions that this will improve much since abortions will still take place as well as the conditions that precipitate them. Kind of like, well, anything that is currently banned.

  323. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

    If “proximate justice” is a term that can be applied to all manner of civil magistrates on the continuum of wicked to righteous rulers, it is a vague, meaningless term.

    Neal, the terms “wicked” and “righteous” are eschatological terms. No civil magistrate is either because he inhabits the common realm which is neither holy nor unholy. In the common realm there is only proximate justice doled out by rulers who do it better or worse than others.

    Aren’t I [not accounting for or admitting to how human beings actually work]? I say we need an objective standard because we are too biased by our own preferences to be able to rightly evaluate societies, and you say I’m not accounting for how human beings actually work?

    Right. You seem to have the idea that to operate subjectively is always a bad thing. Sometimes it is, but often times it isn’t. When I say my country (or father or boss or spouse) is the best I am making a subjective statement of love and loyalty. I’m not really making a purely objective statement about them. How could I say that my country is the best when I’ve only ever been a citizen of one?

    I said, “He also hasn’t explicitly revealed anything about running a country.”

    To which you responded, Israel was not a country?

    You also included an emoticon, but I’m still going to say it: “So theonomy wins then, eh?” he said with a snarky tone.

    I said, “Ban it how? Federal outlawing, or states’ rights? What does SR say? I say states’ rights, but I don’t see anything in the Bible to back me up. But I don’t think this will improve society, it will only maintain it.”

    To which you responded, Pick one, whatever tickles your fancy. I am not one of the opinion that the Bible gives us exhaustive details on how to uphold his law in every permutation of civil magistracy. It’s the general principles that I am after.

    Nice try, but if you’re going to say that general biblical principles should rule the earth then you’re going to have to answer the question of how (why do you get the luxury of ducking that?). So the question remains for you: how, using SR, would you ban abortion? I am opposed to federal outlawing and for local magistrates deciding for themselves, but I don’t have any biblical support for it. Good thing for me I don’t claim that the Bible should rule the earth.

  324. TurretinFan said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Zrim wrote:

    Neal, the terms “wicked” and “righteous” are eschatological terms. No civil magistrate is either because he inhabits the common realm which is neither holy nor unholy. In the common realm there is only proximate justice doled out by rulers who do it better or worse than others.

    But King Solomon, the wise, wrote:

    Proverbs 16:12 It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness.

    -TurretinFan

  325. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 10, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Me; “Zrim, why don’t you think banning abortion (which is in accordance with the Decalogue) will improve society?”

    Zrim: “TUAD (#291), I don’t think banning abortion will improve society because nothing really does. You can ban abortion but another social ill arises. I do oppose the legalization of abortion, but I don’t hold any illusions that this will improve much since abortions will still take place as well as the conditions that precipitate them. Kind of like, well, anything that is currently banned.”

    Zrim, I appreciate your forthright and honest answer. Of course, I also think that your forthright and honest answer is terribly mistaken in places, and I hope that you change your mind.

    Let’s just take your first sentence: “”TUAD (#291), I don’t think banning abortion will improve society because nothing really does.”

    There’s quite a bit here in this first sentence. And there are multiple approaches to choose from in dissuading you from continuing to hold this position.

    Let me just start with this as a good-faith gentleman: Would you like to re-phrase this sentence? Or do you want to stand by it?

  326. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 11:21 am

    But, Tfan, I read with a 2k grid. When will you admit yours is at least a tad theonomic?

    TUAD, I stand by it because what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Man is the same creature he was when sent packing east of Eden and his world really hasn’t changed at all and never will until the last day. But if you have a sunnier view of human nature and its potential, maybe you want to re-phrase your Calvinist confession?

  327. TurretinFan said,

    February 10, 2011 at 11:34 am

    “But, Tfan, I read with a 2k grid. When will you admit yours is at least a tad theonomic?”

    When your grid requires you to say things that are the exact opposite of what Scripture says, your grid needs to be reconsidered.

    -TurretinFan

  328. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 10, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    “TUAD (#291), I don’t think banning abortion will improve society because nothing really does.”

    Hi Zrim, as I alluded to before, I don’t really know where to begin in the hopes of changing your mind.

    (Sidenote: This is an important point of discussion because the topic of abortion is a good test case for the outworking and practice of R2K doctrine).

    Alright, for better or worse, let’s start with this: Do you agree that abortion is murder. Do you agree that murder is against God’s Word (“thou shalt not kill”). Do you agree that when God gave His Law to us that it improved and improves society?

    If you disagree with any of those three, please say so, and why you disagree.

    Also, not to pick on Zrim, but I am cognizant of the possible differences between Zrim’s position and the implications or outworkings of R2K doctrine. I.e, what Zrim says is not necessarily representative of the logical implications or outworkings of R2K doctrine. (But it might be!)

    “You can ban abortion but another social ill arises.”

    So? Just because obeying God’s commandments results in Satan doing something else doesn’t excuse not obeying God’s commands.

  329. Neal said,

    February 10, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    You seem to have the idea that to operate subjectively is always a bad thing. Sometimes it is, but often times it isn’t. When I say my country (or father or boss or spouse) is the best I am making a subjective statement of love and loyalty. I’m not really making a purely objective statement about them. How could I say that my country is the best when I’ve only ever been a citizen of one?

    It’s entirely possible that one could come to the conclusion that their country is not the best. I’m not getting the point of this tangent. Yes, we typically think our country is “the best”, but what does that have to do with evaluating whether or not it’s laws are in conformity with God’s laws? You’re raising a red herring.

    Nice try, but if you’re going to say that general biblical principles should rule the earth then you’re going to have to answer the question of how (why do you get the luxury of ducking that?). So the question remains for you: how, using SR, would you ban abortion? I am opposed to federal outlawing and for local magistrates deciding for themselves, but I don’t have any biblical support for it. Good thing for me I don’t claim that the Bible should rule the earth.

    Why do you think that if one uses SR to draw general principles, that one must also draw from it the exacting details in applying those principles? You seem to think that if the Bible says anything about a particular subject, it therefore must say everything. How does that follow?

  330. Neal said,

    February 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Neal, the terms “wicked” and “righteous” are eschatological terms. No civil magistrate is either because he inhabits the common realm which is neither holy nor unholy. In the common realm there is only proximate justice doled out by rulers who do it better or worse than others.

    I think you are being pedantic here, but okay:

    If “proximate justice” is a term that can be applied to all manner of civil magistrates on the continuum of “those rulers who do it worst” to “those rulers who do it best”, it is a vague, meaningless term.

  331. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    TUAD (328), I do agree with you that this particular social and political issue looms large in the broader debate about the nature of the kingdoms and their relationship to one another. At the same time, it’s something of a third rail, and as Robert Bjork has pointed out, it’s a highly explosive and divisive issue. So I am loathe to discuss it, if for no other reason then it seems to serve more entrenching than understanding. But you guys always bring it up as a way to defeat 2k, so…

    I believe that life begins at conception and that it is morally wrong for anyone, including even those who house that life, to take it at will or whim. I oppose it being afforded legal protection as know it now. I appeal to both the sixth and the second greatest commandments, both of which are known by special and general revelation. Against the lifer who makes it about individual human rights to life, and the choicer who makes it about individual rights to privacy, I appeal to what obligations human beings have to one another. I think that answers your first two questions.

    When you ask if I think God gave us his law to improve society, I demur. I’d rather say it regulates society (first use), much like it regulates the Christian life (third use). But just as it doesn’t improve the Christian life, it doesn’t improve civil life. To regulate isn’t to improve. It seems to me that the appeal to improving life by way of the law is to appeal to human felt needs. It’s more pragmatic than principled.

    And so when I say that legally banning something doesn’t improve society because that something and the conditions that precipitate it will still exist in society (casting doubt on this claim that things have actually improved), and you say, “So? Just because obeying God’s commandments results in Satan doing something else doesn’t excuse not obeying God’s commands,” I think you are now making a principled instead of a pragmatic argument. I would like to make only a principled argument. I think you need to decide which one you want to make. And the more you cling to this improvement hooey the worse it gets for you, no least because your opponents make an equally compelling one (“Legal means safe”). I reject the appeal to banning means improved and legalizing means safe.

    But back to the larger debate. I tend to think this fixation of politics and legalities also points to that common thread theonomists and liberals have: the right, true and good is nurtured by law and legislation. I think the truly conservative view is that these things are nurtured by the institution of the family (and to some extent the church). This isn’t to eschew the dignity of law and politics at all, but to put them into a better and more realistic perspective. I think old school 2k understands this and categorically takes a more agnostic view on the power of politics, which tends to drive religious liberals and theonomists pretty nuts.

  332. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Why do you think that if one uses SR to draw general principles, that one must also draw from it the exacting details in applying those principles? You seem to think that if the Bible says anything about a particular subject, it therefore must say everything. How does that follow?

    Because “all of life” includes the details, Neal. Are you suggesting that the details are not a part of every square inch of Jesus’ rule? But I say the details matter as much to Jesus as the generalities. Do you see how 2kers might be more Kuyperian than the neo-Kuyperians? But now you are suggesting that the Bible is silent on how abortion should be outlawed. Careful, you might have caught that 2k virus.

    If I’m being pedantic on the point of triadlaism then so is Mike Horton when he says in “God of Promise”:

    …we begin the story with one creation, one covenant, one people, one mandate, one city. Then after the fall, there is a covenant of creation (with its cultural mandate still in effect for all people, with the law of that covenant universally inscribed on the conscience) and a covenant of grace (with its gospel publicly announced to transgressors), a City of Man (secular but even in its rejection of God, upheld by God’s gracious hand for the time being) and a City of God (holy but even in its acceptance by God, sharing in the common curse of a fallen world). Just as the failure to distinguish law covenant from promise covenant leads to manifold confusions in our understanding of salvation, tremendous problems arise when we fail to distinguish adequately between God’s general care for the secular order and his special concern for the redemption of his people.

    Religious fundamentalism tends to see the world simply divided up into believers and unbelievers. The former are blessed, loved by God, holy, and doers of the right, while the latter are cursed, hated by God, unholy, and doers of evil. Sometimes this is taken to quite an extreme: believers are good people, and their moral, political, and doctrinal causes are always right, always justified, and can never be questioned. Unless the culture is controlled by their agenda, it is simply godless and unworthy of the believers’ support. This perspective ignores the fact that according to Scripture, all of us—believers and unbelievers alike—are simultaneously under a common curse and common grace.

    Religious liberalism tends to see the world simply as one blessed community. Ignoring biblical distinctions between those inside and those outside of the covenant community, this approach cannot take the common curse seriously because it cannot take sin seriously…everything is holy.

    …[But] the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.

    If “proximate justice” is a term that can be applied to all manner of civil magistrates on the continuum of “those rulers who do it worst” to “those rulers who do it best”, it is a vague, meaningless term.

    Then all you’re left with is exact or perfect justice. Despite the 2k-ish suggestion that the Bible is silent on the exact political details regarding abortion, maybe being left with exactness means you haven’t shaken off all the neo-Calvinism yet?

  333. dgh said,

    February 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Doug and Curate, if God’s laws are moral and perpetual, and then God changes those laws, maybe you want to speak with greater qualification, as in perhaps the death penalty for adulterers went the way of pork. It doesn’t mean that adultery isn’t punished. It means the death penalty is spiritualized.

    Curate: I supplied a link to the Philadelphia legal code. It’s one example of many laws that come complete with General Revelation. No antinomianism here.

    Doug, you look at the law with David? So you have a messianic complex? I tend to look at the law as Paul did — it’s not of faith.

  334. dgh said,

    February 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Tfan: you wrote: “the issue of departure from Calvin (which I think is the one on your mind) is one of degree. You disagree with him on a very fundamental level, whereas my disagreements with him are much more minor.”

    How very convenient. Do you have a biblical text to back that up? For what it’s worth, you have been banging the drum throughout 1500 plus comments that Calvin’s view is what the Bible teaches. So how can departure of any kind from biblical teaching be acceptable? I know, because you say so.

    Tfan wrote: “In fact, my points of disagreement don’t even show up in the WCF 1646, whereas yours do (i.e. you cannot hold to the WCF 1646).”

    The original rendering of the Confession is not in force in any communion. Come in from the cold and join the rest of the church.

  335. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    February 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Well at least not in the bigger conservative denominations.

    The PRC (Presbyterian Reformed Church) and the RPCUS as well as some micros hold to the original 1646 WCF.

  336. TurretinFan said,

    February 10, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I had written: “the issue of departure from Calvin (which I think is the one on your mind) is one of degree. You disagree with him on a very fundamental level, whereas my disagreements with him are much more minor.”

    DGH replied: “How very convenient.”

    No comment necessary.

    DGH continued: “Do you have a biblical text to back that up?”

    If it were a serious request, I’d be happy to oblige. But, in the context, it seems to be nothing more than a mocking request.

    DGH again: “For what it’s worth, you have been banging the drum throughout 1500 plus comments that Calvin’s view is what the Bible teaches.”

    Only someone with reading comprehension of small child would think that saying Calvin’s view about some particular point is Biblical means that Calvin’s view about everything is Biblical. You have more reading comprehension than that. Consequently your assertion seems dishonest.

    Just like the next one, in which you wrote: “So how can departure of any kind from biblical teaching be acceptable? I know, because you say so.”

    I had written: “In fact, my points of disagreement don’t even show up in the WCF 1646, whereas yours do (i.e. you cannot hold to the WCF 1646).”

    You replied: “The original rendering of the Confession is not in force in any communion. Come in from the cold and join the rest of the church.”

    Again, you display your ignorance of the contemporary church. And again, when presented with an opportunity to defend your aberrant theology from the Bible, you resort to sarcasm, dishonesty, and fallacious argumentation. It’s really quite sad to see.

    -TurretinFan

  337. curate said,

    February 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    no. 333 dgh: It doesn’t mean that adultery isn’t punished. It means the death penalty is spiritualized.

    Serious questions to you. What do you mean that it is spiritualized? I really do not understand you. What is the spiritual punishment for adultery? And why is the death penalty not considered spiritual by you?

  338. Doug Sowers said,

    February 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    So Dr Hart, was that supposed to be an answer? Surely you aren’t suggesting that the Apostle Paul was contradicting King David?

  339. Doug Sowers said,

    February 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    @Roger: Nice question! This goes straight to the heart of *Hart’s* confusion. IMHO. He’s played a *Jedi mind trick* on himself, (with a lot of help from Kline), saying the DP for homosexuality has been spiritualized. As you wisely point out, that is utter nonsense! (With nary even one Scripture for support) And he thinks that’s the answer! That gives him a license, to think, and behave, incoherently, talking out of both sides of his mouth. Telling us, we are to be ruled by “general revelation” not the law. Yet he says general revelation is from God; huh? Is the same standard or a different standard? We can’t get a straight answer from anyone.

    And when you ask him what that means, he gets squirrely, and plops down the Philadelphia civil code book? Huh?! lol! To make matters worse, Hart and his ilk, (especially Zrim) align themselves with God’s enemies, basically agreeing with “Queer Nation”, that sodomy should be a government protected behavior. And then DGH and his allies fight against God’s own judicial standards being established in our Nation! Dr Hart’s confusion is so profound; he *actually* said the Apostle Paul, and King David, were at odds with each other over the Law! Paul thought it lacked faith, David loved it. Is this what happens when someone goes to Westminster West? They come out more muddled, and confused, than went they entered!

  340. Neal said,

    February 10, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Me: Why do you think that if one uses SR to draw general principles, that one must also draw from it the exacting details in applying those principles? You seem to think that if the Bible says anything about a particular subject, it therefore must say everything. How does that follow?

    Zrim responds: Because “all of life” includes the details, Neal. Are you suggesting that the details are not a part of every square inch of Jesus’ rule?

    I’m sure they are, but what has it to do with your notion that the Bible must say everything if it says anything?

    But now you are suggesting that the Bible is silent on how abortion should be outlawed. Careful, you might have caught that 2k virus.

    I don’t have a fear of being labeled “2k”. In fact I maintain that I am 2k. Try again.

    If I’m being pedantic on the point of triadlaism then so is Mike Horton when he says in “God of Promise”:

    Do you go out of your way to miss the point or does it come naturally? ;-)

    Me: If “proximate justice” is a term that can be applied to all manner of civil magistrates on the continuum of “those rulers who do it worst” to “those rulers who do it best”, it is a vague, meaningless term.

    Zrim responds: Then all you’re left with is exact or perfect justice.

    No. What we are left with is a perfect standard of justice, which is to be pursued. In this life, we won’t attain it, but it is still the standard that we must strive for.

  341. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 10, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    “TUAD (328), I do agree with you that this particular social and political issue looms large in the broader debate about the nature of the kingdoms and their relationship to one another.”

    Zrim, there’s another term missing in your adjectives of this issue. You say that it’s a “social” and “political” issue. The term that is missing is “moral”. Abortion is a moral issue. Perhaps it is an accidental oversight on your part since in fact, you do mention “that it is morally wrong for anyone, including even those who house that life, to take it at will or whim.”

    “I oppose it [abortion] being afforded legal protection as know it now.

    So are you saying that you support the banning of abortion?

    “When you ask if I think God gave us his law to improve society, I demur. I’d rather say it regulates society (first use), much like it regulates the Christian life (third use). But just as it doesn’t improve the Christian life, it doesn’t improve civil life. To regulate isn’t to improve.. It seems to me that the appeal to improving life by way of the law is to appeal to human felt needs.”

    Wow. There’s a lot here to unpack and explore. I think the key sentence is “To regulate isn’t to improve.” I would disagree with you in a qualified way. The qualification I’d offer (which shows that I agree with you in a qualified manner) is this: (1) Over-regulation isn’t to improve. And (2) Under-regulation isn’t to improve. (The discussion of what constitutes over-regulation and under-regulation is a wholly separate matter and a wholly separate discussion.)

    But at normal face value, to regulate is to improve. “Thou shalt not kill” is a regulation. And this regulation improves both individual Christian lives and the society.

    “It seems to me that the appeal to improving life by way of the law is to appeal to human felt needs.”

    Now I’m not going to psycho-analyze why God gave us His Divine Law. If He gave us His Law to “appeal to human felt needs” then so what? What does that matter? Whatever His motivation is in giving us His Law, it still results in the improvement of our lives and society (through regulation).

    The bottleneck in our discussion is your insistence and your view that God’s Law is a regulation that doesn’t improve Christian life, nor does it improve civil life.

    I am a bit perplexed that you would make this claim, and I’m not sure how best to get you to retract your claim so that you can agree and accept the argument: Obeying God’s Commands/Law Improves Society.

    Which would then lead you to accepting the argument: “Banning abortion (or making abortion illegal) improves society.”

    Would other commenters care to assist Zrim in seeing that God’s Law does improve the Christian life, and that it does improve civil life?

    Or if other commenters want to support Zrim’s claim of “I’d rather say it [God’s Law] regulates society (first use), much like it regulates the Christian life (third use). But just as it doesn’t improve the Christian life, it doesn’t improve civil life. To regulate isn’t to improve.” then please, by all means, chime in and support Zrim’s contention.

  342. Doug Sowers said,

    February 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    dgh, since you asked a question, let try to answer you. When Paul was addressing the Judiazers in Galatians the issue were the Jewish ceremonial rituals, for table fellowship. Table fellowship was HUGE for the Jews, especially the Pharisees. It wasn’t the moral or judicial aspect of the law that was causing the controversy; it was the rituals, cleansings, typified in circumcision that the Jews insisted there Gentile brothers fulfill. To Judiaze means to make Jewish!

    Paul’s point; IMHO, was that the Law, i.e. (ceremonial law) was the school master, pointing them to Christ. (For instance the law against bestiality was not a school master to Christ) nor was(Thou shall not commit homosexuality) was also not a school master to Christ either. It merely told them what not to do. The ceremonial law on the other hand, was the *Gospel in figures*. Once Christ came in reality, the shadows were obsolete, and ready to fade away. And this is the biggie, to cling to shadows, was *in a sense* to deny that Christ has come, meaning they were denying the faith! And in that sense the Law was not of faith!

    The Law before Christ went to the cross, was glorious, and could only be obeyed by grace through faith, just like now. The moral standards are exactly the same; it’s the outward form of the Mosaic economy that has vanished. Paul said that the Law was not against the promise! However, after Christ came, the shadows were superfluous!

    You must understand that Christ typologically fulfilled the ceremonial law! And even though his death broke the power of sin, he didn’t change socio political morality or justice! And there is nothing in scripture that would suggest that he did. Ironically Kline’s hobby horse, the intrusion ethic, and his common law principle, has is caused you and his followers to misunderstand Paul’s whole point in Galatians. Paul often used “Law” in different senses; which are just a linguistic fact.

    Either that’s true, or Paul was incoherent. So to misunderstand how Paul was using the term “Law” in Galatians; has caused you to read the Bible in a contradictory manner. (Incoherently)

    Want proof? You actually think Paul and David were at odds with each other over the Law! Nothing could be further from the truth. The moral and ethical aspect of the Law can’t change, because morality can’t change. Once you accept that premise as axiomatic, you then must discard Meredith Kline and Professor David Van Drunen’s hypothesis (regarding R2K). That’s not to say everything Meredith Kline ever wrote was rubbish, but his intrusion ethic certainly was a mistake. Van Drenen is perpetuating Kline’s mistake all the more, so he as well needs to be discarded. IMHO.

  343. Neal said,

    February 10, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Would other commenters care to assist Zrim in seeing that God’s Law does improve the Christian life, and that it does improve civil life?

    Perhaps this will help:

    And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

    Ephesians 4:11-16

  344. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 10, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Zrim, #331: “To regulate isn’t to improve. It seems to me that the appeal to improving life by way of the law is to appeal to human felt needs.”

    Hi Zrim, let me offer an example of how regulative law improves life for both individual citizens and for society as a whole. It’s mundane, but hopefully effective.

    Traffic laws.

    Traffic laws regulate. And this regulation improves the lives of individuals and it improves society.

    Would you agree?

    And if you do agree, how much more so does God’s Law improve Christian life and civil life.

  345. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Neal,

    What you originally said was, “I think banning abortion would be an ‘improvement’ in that it would make our laws more consistent with God’s law.” This suggests that the Bible is not politically silent on outlawing abortion. Then when I ask what the Bible has to say about how to go about it you clam up. When I press further you suggest that I am saying that the Bible has to say everything or nothing. But here is the difference: I am saying is that the Bible doesn’t speak politically at all. You are saying it speaks politically sort of. I am saying it doesn’t tell us either that abortion should be outlawed or how to do it (I have my views, but I don’t claim the Bible for them). You seem to be saying it tells us abortion should be outlawed but not how. Why do I get dinged for being consistent but you get to be arbitrary?

    You initially suggested a “continuum of wicked to righteous rulers.” By making the point about triadalism I was actually addressing your point, not missing it.

    What we are left with is a perfect standard of justice, which is to be pursued. In this life, we won’t attain it, but it is still the standard that we must strive for.

    Well, ok. I understand this sounds good in an after-school-special-ish way, but I still don’t understand why we must strive for something in this life we’ll never attain. It’s like telling a young scientist, “Now, understand you’ll never actually cure cancer, but you should nevertheless strive to.” Huh? Shouldn’t you believe someone can attain that which you tell him to strive? It would go down easier if you admitted that there is a perfect standard for justice and we can attain it in this life.

  346. Zrim said,

    February 10, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    TUAD, the traffic laws I obey do not improve my life. They merely regulate my driving. I still have an imperfect life when I obey the laws, be they traffic codes or moral imperatives. Seriously, your claim that obeying law improves life is pretty much what prosperity gosplers claim. What is the principled difference?

    And, yes, abortion is a social, political and moral issue. I oppose it morally and politically. I don’t know why you ask if I favor the banning of abortion, since I couldn’t be any more clear about it. Is it hard for you to fathom that someone can be opposed to abortion but not hysterically indignant about it, or what?

  347. Doug Sowers said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    @Zrim, just to give you a *fact Jack*. In 1972 one year prior to Roe v Wade, there were one hundred thousand abortions in America. The following year once it became legal, abortions soon spiked to one point three million. We have had over forty million abortions since Roe v Wade, in 72. Possibly as high as 49 million!

    When Israel had foolish Kings, and ruled in a way that dishonored God, the people suffered. And grew wicked as a result. But when Israel had righteous Kings, who loved and revered God, they tore down the “high places” the people responded. I don’t see how you cam say that wise rulers, and righteous laws, are not good for a Nation. I see the exact opposite taught in the Bible.

  348. Neal said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    What you originally said was, “I think banning abortion would be an ‘improvement’ in that it would make our laws more consistent with God’s law.” This suggests that the Bible is not politically silent on outlawing abortion.

    Right. I didn’t say it was politically silent. I said it doesn’t give exhaustive details on how to do it. You are just arguing now for the sake of arguing.

    Then when I ask what the Bible has to say about how to go about it you clam up.

    I’ve already answered this. Why is “the Bible doesn’t give exhaustive details on how to ban abortion” not a good enough answer for you?

    When I press further you suggest that I am saying that the Bible has to say everything or nothing. But here is the difference: I am saying is that the Bible doesn’t speak politically at all.

    Well then present your case.

    You seem to be saying it tells us abortion should be outlawed but not how.

    Yes, drawn from general principles (thou shalt not murder). The Bible doesn’t talk about the specific permutation of murder known as abortion. But since it is a form of murder, we can deduce from this that abortion should be outlawed. Why does it have to spell out how to pass a law under the U.S. system of jurisprudence?

    Why do I get dinged for being consistent but you get to be arbitrary?

    How am I being arbitrary? And what do you mean you are being dinged for being consistent?

    You initially suggested a “continuum of wicked to righteous rulers.” By making the point about triadalism I was actually addressing your point, not missing it.

    I respectfully disagree that my point was addressed. Rather, you saw it as an opportunity to launch on what is apparently a theological hobby horse of yours, as a quick googling of “triadalism” reveals. I even changed my wording to accomodate you, yet you still didn’t address the point.

    Well, ok. I understand this sounds good in an after-school-special-ish way, but I still don’t understand why we must strive for something in this life we’ll never attain.

    Because we will attain it in the end. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

  349. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    “TUAD, the traffic laws I obey do not improve my life. They merely regulate my driving.”

    Zrim, perhaps this might help. Take a moment to imagine that there were no traffic laws at all. None. No red lights, no green lights, no yellow lights, no stop signs, no laws against drag racing, no laws against drunk driving, no laws about the minimum age to drive a car, no laws about the maximum age to drive a car, etc….

    Can you imagine that there would be chaos without traffic laws? And can you imagine that it would also be hazardous and unsafe without traffic laws?

    If so, can you now see that traffic laws improve your life, and that they also improve society?

  350. Doug Sowers said,

    February 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    You know Zrim, you argue as though you have never read the Old Testament! You talk as though you have never considered and meditated on the moral lessons, the history of Israel and things we can learn, not to mention the typological foreshadows of battle. The sins for which they were judged. Idolatry and depravity, the very things your saying America should just “let be”. After all, “good laws don’t do any good”. Huh? Was that true for Israel? You actually think rulers should be agnostic? Freedom of religion? I guess you haven’t read the Bible, because God hates that! There is only One True and living God and Jesus is Lord!

    The very sins and crimes, that have brought down Nation after Nation, Empire after empire, (idolatry, homosexuality and depravity) are now legally protected in your ideal world, Zrim; (if you had your way) after all, “good laws wouldn’t make a difference”. LOL! Earth to Zrim, did wicked laws make a difference in Israel? What happened to Israel when everyone did what was right in his own eyes? It was disaster! And as soon as Israel had wicked Kings who had idols in there life, the people soon followed suit and became even more depraved! Please do yourself a favor, read the Bible!

  351. Paul said,

    February 11, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Zrim @321,

    Paul, the situation you describe doesn’t deserve the DP. It also doesn’t deserve 10 years and a new suit.”

    Right. You have said this 4 or 5 times now. I want to see the argument for it.

    You appeal to the creation covenant, but that does not say that “only murder deserves the DP.” You are reasoning fallaciously, then. You need a verse that says “only murder deserves the DP.” You don’t have it; hence, you don’t have a good argument for your position; hence, you have given no one any reason to accept your conclusion.

    Moreover, given your argument, all punishments are wrong since the “creation covenant” doesn’t proscribe punishments for, say, stealing, spousal abuse, etc. Since “the creation covenant” doesn’t tell us what they are, that must mean there are none, according to your argument from silence on the DP.

    Lastly, I presented a natural law argument, using the same passage DVD uses in his A Biblical Case for Natural Law, that would seem to suggest that adultery deserved the DP.

    So far I’ve given you a reason (from premises you apparently would accept) to suppose you’re wrong, and I’ve also pointed out that you still haven’t presented an argument for your claim that, “only murder deserves the DP.”

  352. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Doug (347), I’m quite familiar with the numbers game. But what are you missing here? I have said I am politically opposed to abortion. But I think what chaffs you is that I refrain from the kind of moral indignation the church has uncritically accepted from the pro-life movement. Contrary to the political correctness, I don’t think pro-lifery is the fourth article of the Christian creed.

  353. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

    I didn’t say it was politically silent. I said it doesn’t give exhaustive details on how to do it. You are just arguing now for the sake of arguing…Why is “the Bible doesn’t give exhaustive details on how to ban abortion” not a good enough answer for you?

    No, Neal, I’m pointing out our fundamental difference. I say the Bible doesn’t speak to politics at all. You say the Bible does speak politically, but selectively, such that it is pulled out sometimes but not others, which is sort of a moving target. It sounds like you get to decide when the Bible speaks to politics and when it doesn’t (that’s what I mean by being arbitrary).

    But is the question of “how” really so exhaustive and detailed? Federal outlawing or states’ rights? That’s not too complicated, is it? What’s the Bible say, because it’s a very important question in American jurisprudence. It’s what RvW was really all about.

  354. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:19 am

    TUAD (#350), the problem with your analogy is that we are not a lawless land. Stay within the realm of reality here. But I think it also is the flip side of a skewed coin: you want perfect justice so you tell me to imagine absolute lawlessness.

  355. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Paul (#356), why do I need a verse that says “only murder deserves the DP”? That seems awfully Biblicist. But it seems perfectly reasonable to say that Genesis 9 reserves execution for the crime of murder. Or put another way, the question is, What deserves execution? Simple: murder. I fail to see why this means that all punishments are wrong. It just means that the one called execution has the high standard of murder. For everything else there’s natural law, human reason and civil statutes that can be fitted for specific times and places. I really think you’re being wooden and overly-academic here to say that “all punishments are wrong since the ‘creation covenant’ doesn’t proscribe punishments for, say, stealing, spousal abuse, etc.”

    Re Genesis 20, I tend to think that this is descriptive of a certain situation serving a redemptive-historical purpose, not a prescriptive the way Genesis 9 is serving a creational purpose for all of humanity.

  356. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

    Reed:

    You wrote: “Tfan: for the unregenerate magistrate, it is a principle in operation regardless of his awareness. A Seneca can pursue justice and secure that which will be used of God.”

    A Seneca or a Saladin can give laws that are influenced by their conscience and consequently which embody to some degree or other the principles of justice and equity that God requires. That part, I think, we agree on.

    You wrote: “Of course, this all can’t be fully known until eternity.”

    I think that goes for virtually any aspect of theology.

    You wrote: “For the Christian magistrate, yes it serves as a starting point.”

    Here’s where I’m not completely clear. What is the the starting point for the Christian magistrate? Is it conscience? history? or the Bible? (or all three?) And if it is one of the three and not the other two, why is that?

    You wrote: “Or may better, it serves as a foundational promise, a rail which constrains and controls, but does not necessarily get one the the destination.”

    I’m not sure what promise you have in mind here. I don’t think that, in general, there is a promise that our conscience is an adequate guide by itself for our moral duties. But perhaps you mean something else.

    You concluded: “Make sense?”

    I’m not sure … see above.

    -TurretinFan

  357. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Zrim:

    You wrote: “The Bible does tell us the duties of the civil magistrate: to punish evil and reward good.”

    I am glad we agree on that. But that means we agree that the Bible norms the civil magistrate. In other words, when the civil magistrate punishes good or rewards evil he is sinning – he is failing with respect to the 5th commandment’s duties of superiors.

    Perhaps you think that the Bible has nothing more to say about the duties of the civil magistrate than that. I wouldn’t agree with you, if you think that. But, at least, if you acknowledge that the Bible’s rule that the civil magistrate is under a moral obligation to punish evil and reward good, then we are closer to one another than some of our previous interaction suggested.

    You wrote: “But I do make a distinction between a magistrate’s personal behavior and political behavior.”

    I would hope you do! The civil magistrate executing justice is one thing – people being vigilantes is quite another thing.

    You wrote: “The magistrate who enforces wealth redistribution isn’t guilty of stealing (like so many theonomist tell us). Robin Hood is though.”

    I don’t want to get into a debate on the welfare state, but suffice that I agree with you that Robin Hood’s vigilantism is properly distinguished from state action (although, since he was actually a lesser magistrate … but let’s not go there).

    You wrote: “And while you answer to David is technically correct, it’s worth pointing out that the theocratic “wiping out of Canaan” has been replaced by exilic evangelism.”

    I’m not aware of any theonomists that think that the genocide of the Canaanites is part of Israel’s civil code, or who think that we are obliged either to follow it exactly or to extract a principle of general equity from it.

    Of course, one could write a book full of things that I’m not aware of when it comes to those designated “theonomists,” so perhaps I’m just unaware of someone who has advocated what seems exceedingly strange to me.

    “That’s in place until the final theocratic wiping out at the second coming. Both of which are perfectly moral.”

    Of course, I probably don’t have the same eschatology as you do, but I’m not aware of any Amillenial eschatologies that feature a mass killing of the wicked at the second coming.

    -TurretinFan

  358. Doug Sowers said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Zrim, I wrote those statistic’s to refute your statement, that good laws won’t change things for the better. Bad laws, as anyone can see, have produced a million more abortions per year, than when it was illegal. I was just pointing out the lie of your premise.

  359. Neal said,

    February 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    No, Neal, I’m pointing out our fundamental difference. I say the Bible doesn’t speak to politics at all. You say the Bible does speak politically, but selectively, such that it is pulled out sometimes but not others, which is sort of a moving target. It sounds like you get to decide when the Bible speaks to politics and when it doesn’t (that’s what I mean by being arbitrary).

    It is not arbitrary to recognize that the Bible provides general principles, but not exacting details. Your attempt to force me to adopt a rigid hermeneutic that reads the Bible as a either a political treatise on the one hand or completely denies that it says anything about politics at all on the other is itself arbitrary. As is reading the Bible through the lens of either an over-realized or under-realized eschatology.

    But is the question of “how” really so exhaustive and detailed? Federal outlawing or states’ rights? That’s not too complicated, is it? What’s the Bible say, because it’s a very important question in American jurisprudence. It’s what RvW was really all about.

    “How” exhaustive and detailed is not really germaine. That God politically instantiated the moral law in one particular case (Israel) doesn’t mean that He must give us instructions for instantiating it in every case.

    Neal, you have a funny definition of wise if you think Ron’s reflect an ability to take his ideas more seriously than himself. I suppose it sounds pious though, sort of like telling people to strive for a perfection one also admits they’ll never achieve in this life. Now I see how you define wise.

    No comment here, it speaks for itself.

  360. Doug Sowers said,

    February 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

    @Zrim; you say “we are not a lawless land”. Huh? So was Rome a lawless land? They had plenty of laws, to be sure; then why did John the baptist, tell a Pagan King, that the taking of his brothers wife, was “lawless”? He sure wasnt talking about Roman law!

  361. GAS said,

    February 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Jeff said:

    And the point here is that under the OT law, with its severe penalties prefiguring the wrath of God upon sin, there was inevitable pressure towards externalism: to take the law and its punishments as literally as possible, working out a detailed system of “what constitutes work on the Sabbath”, and “what are grounds for divorce”, and so on.

    This is the inevitable sinful human response to law. The law awakens disobedience in us.

    Jeff, thanks for writing this and I’m sorry this has been passed over in this discussion. I would argue this is the most important consideration in all these discussions.

  362. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    I am glad we agree on that [the Bible does tell us the duties of the civil magistrate: to punish evil and reward good]. But that means we agree that the Bible norms the civil magistrate. In other words, when the civil magistrate punishes good or rewards evil he is sinning – he is failing with respect to the 5th commandment’s duties of superiors.

    No, Tfan, I think it more precise to say it means the Bible describes the civil magistrates duties. It doesn’t prescribe or norm them. So, taken together with the personal/political distinction you evidently agree with, the problem with saying that the Bible norms it is what to do when he fails to reward the good and punish evil. When people who are members of the church fail in their own persons they are admonished or disciplined. What to do with institutions that are not members of the church and fail to do what they are allegedly prescribed? This seems insurmountable, unless you really want to suggest that the Supreme Court should be hauled before a church court for violating the sixth and second greatest or the Bush Administration for killing the weak and defenseless Iraqi citizens in Shock and Awe? But one way to avoid that utter silliness is to drop the prescriptive idea in favor of 2k.

    Of course, I probably don’t have the same eschatology as you do, but I’m not aware of any Amillenial eschatologies that feature a mass killing of the wicked at the second coming.

    There goes that tick again for loaded language. But the point is that at the final judgment God will crush all our enemies once and for all. Until then, we live at peace with them and in common endeavor.

    I wrote those statistic’s to refute your statement, that good laws won’t change things for the better. Bad laws, as anyone can see, have produced a million more abortions per year, than when it was illegal. I was just pointing out the lie of your premise.

    So, Doug, it’s a matter of pure numbers? How mega-evangelical of you. Do you also think man is the sum of his parts? But even if abortion is outlawed it will still take place. Now what? But maybe you’ll say that less abortions are better. But then what’s the difference between that and the typical choicer’s notion that we need to work to keep abortion legal but rare?

    Neal, got it. For those interested in the supposed right to life the Bible speaks politically. But for those interested in states’ rights it’s silent. Some might say that sounds like a way to leverage heaven’s sanction for what one is really interested in but gives up on those things one is indifferent about. But I guess I’ll take what I can get: the Bible is indeed silent on what interests me more.

    But I still think Ron’s words sound awfully close to the pious sounding prayers thanking heaven one isn’t a woman, a tax collector or a woman.

  363. Doug Sowers said,

    February 11, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Zrim, God would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah if there were *ten* righteous men! Don’t tell me the numerical number of depraved citizens are not observed and apprised by God! God never judged Israel because of a few sins, God looked them, in the totality! When the people corporately in a unified way, is when God judged them!!

    When God told Abraham he was giving him the land of Palestine, “he said there iniquity was not complete”. Earth to Zrim, when Nations become more evil with there laws and customs, God becomes more angry. You need to read your Bible!

  364. Doug Sowers said,

    February 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    @Reed: Okay, you flushed me out lol! I appreciate you giving me time to respond without berating me; please let me try again. With that being said, I completely disagree with you, as to my not proving my case. I felt it was a slam dunk! When Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, *we know the law is good, when we use it lawfully* one of the main functions of that good law, was magisterial. To exclude that function is irrational! So it is you who are fallacious in your reasoning to not include the Magistrate, in this good law. Paul would be superfluous to repeat the obvious. Next Paul says, (I think this is key) knowing that the law was is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, (Let me stop right there) Paul is now talking primarily (but not only) about the civil use of the Law, because the DP *crimes* he mentions in this *good* law, could only by preformed by the Magistrate! So *the Bible* proves my point, that the DP for rape is still *good*!!! Paul was speaking in present tense. I thought that was what this debate was about? Now you may say I haven’t proven my case, fine. But Calvin thought rape, homosexuality, blasphemy, and murder were still binding on the government, why do you suppose he felt that way? Not one of the DP crimes that Paul mentions in 1Tim 1:8-11 were thought to be abrogated in the New Testament, by the men at Westminster! Call them theonomic, call them wrong, but they would all agree with me. I will listen to your response, but I see this as the ultimate no brainer.

  365. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Doug, speaking of reading the Bible, I still have to wonder if the words “It is finished” mean much to you. God’s wrath was satisfied on the cross, yet you seem to want us to believe that maybe it wasn’t sufficiently taken care of when you correspond his anger to what geo-political nations do in their laws and customs. I have to say, it has a sort of semi-Pelagian flavor to it where Jesus’ sacrifice must be supplemented with human works, only in geo-political terms instead of personal ones. Why do I get the sense you think with Pat Robertson that natural disasters, wars, diseases and terrorist attacks are God’s way of chastising countries?

  366. Neal said,

    February 11, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Zrim, are you suggesting that Christ died for geo-political nations?

  367. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Neal, no, that’s the implication of the theonomic (liberal and evangelical) outlook which is fixated on politics and legislation. 2k says that Christianity is about God’s redemption of his covenant people, not their geo-political projects and institutions. Theonomy works with a geo-political hermeneutic, 2k with a personal one.

  368. Neal said,

    February 11, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Zrim, I already know what you think of theonomy. The question that I posed to you was in response to this:

    God’s wrath was satisfied on the cross, yet you seem to want us to believe that maybe it wasn’t sufficiently taken care of when you correspond his anger to what geo-political nations do in their laws and customs.

    The implication you seem to be making is that the cross expiated not only the sins of God’s covenant people, but the collective sins of geo-political nations as well. It just sounds kinda sorta like you are collapsing the kingdoms, confounding cult and culture.

  369. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Re: 391. Thanks for your explanation. Your proposed hermeneutic seems to be that we interpret DGH’s words in the most charitable way possible. I hope you will apply the same standard to my words, including to my criticisms. I’d be happy to explain more in private, if you wish, but I see no reason to bog this are down with further meta-debate on the subject.

  370. Reed Here said,

    February 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    All: I specifically want to apologize to TFan, Ron and TUAD for the flurry of moderating comments concerning my decision about comments about Darryl. I made a serious error in judgment in that I thought that my comments would be recognized as just and helpful. Instead my wordiness, in public, only served to make matters worse. Rather than bringing peace to the situation, I stirred the waters.

    That is my fault, not theirs. I hereby confess my sin and ask for TFan’s, Ron’s and TUAD’s forgiveness.

    The proper course of action I should have followed was to simply remove the offending comment(s). I have rectified my error in this regard. Particularly I removed 15 +/- comments that initiated and perpetuated what I deemed to be an offense, all posted before I stepped in with my first moderating comment.

    In addition, I have removed 12 +/- comments, beginning with moderating comments and then all those interacting with them.

    I am fully aware that my actions cannot remove the offense. I offer my actions only as sincere evidence of my repentance, and that it flows (Lord willingly) from the Spirit’s work who unites me to Christ.

    In the future I promise to pursue a better course of action. That will be:

    > To remove any comment that appears to offer inappropriate offense, and
    > To explain via email, as I have time and resources, to the person who made the pulled comment about my action and why I did it.

    This afternoon has been very informative to me of my weaknesses and continuing needs for Christ in my life. I am aware of many opinions about my moderating, some kind, some very unkind, and lots in between. It is my prayer that I will be respectful of the unkind, take with a grain of salt the kind, and give all serious consideration.

    I am sorry to the posters and readers of GreenBaggins for where I fail in this. I solicit your prayers to that end.

  371. Reed Here said,

    February 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Doug, no. 364: hopefully I did not “flush you down.” I sincerely have not worried about your lack of response. I thought my example was generic enough that it would not be attached to anyone. It is rather common and I didn’t mean to single you out. Please forgive my carelessness.

    My critique of your use of 1Tim 1:8-11 is on two levels. At the most foundation level I was observing that you’re offering criticisms of the 2K position based on an interpretation of the passage that is informed by outside the passage considerations. It is simply good form to first expose and prove these considerations before offering criticism on them.

    In your response here you do offer some considerations and some defense of them. Good form! Thanks.

    On the second level, I do critique your use of this passage, even tangentially for your argument. Yet, given my failures in the use of my blogging time this afternoon, I simply do not have time to engage you. Thanks for understanding and leaving this disagreement where it should lie, as something not material enough to separate us in our love for one another in Christ.

  372. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    I’m very glad to forgive you, Reed. I am sorry for not finding a more irenic way of handling my concerns about DGH, and consequently for adding fuel to the flames of the situation.

  373. Ron said,

    February 11, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Reed,

    Please give it no more thought.

    Yours,

    Ron

  374. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Hi Reed,

    Your heartfelt apology and request for forgiveness has touched me deeply. I most certainly do forgive you.

    May God’s peace and blessings grace you and your family.

    Warmly Yours,

    Truth Unites… and Divides

  375. Reed Here said,

    February 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    TFan, no. 356: I was referring to Man’s in-born knowledge of the Moral Law, the concept of natural law if you will, with the helpful biblical qualifications.

    This is what our consciences (a faculty of our souls, our immaterial beings) are geared to hear and consider. Like all parts of natural man (born under the Fall) this faculty still bears a sufficient impression of the image of God in which it was originally created. This is so much so that Paul can appeal to it as a valid witness of the Moral Law in Rom. 2.

    It is not sufficient in any/all manners. That is not Paul’s point in his usage of it. E.g., it is fully flawed for usage in making us right with God (i.e., it too needs to be redeemed).

    Yet for God’s purposes for the secular nations of the world Romans 2:14 (in light of God’s ordaining the civil magistrate as spelled out in Romans 13) this naturally in-born capacity for access to the Moral Law holds out a temporally based promised that God will indeed work through the pagan civil magistrate.

    Here I would bring back in my prior observations about sufficiency and eschatalogical considerations. It is only sufficient for such uses. We may differ on the exact shape and structure of those (i.e., eschatalogically based differences), but I think we can agree on the basic principle.

    Yes?

  376. Zrim said,

    February 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Neal, I was responding to this from Doug:

    Earth to Zrim, when Nations become more evil with there [sic] laws and customs, God becomes more angry. You need to read your Bible!

    What I was getting at in my comment in response is that in theonomy there seem to be two errors at play. First, that in addition to God’s covenant people the object of God’s redeeming work is geo-political nations, and second that the cross didn’t sufficiently atone for the sins of those nations. So evidently nations need to get in line because the work of the cross only goes so far, and if they don’t get in line then God is going to make up for what the cross didn’t do.

    The personal version of this misguided geo-political hermeneutic is the sort of semi-Pelagian theology that tells people to get in line or else God will send something their way to punish them since the cross was only so effective. In the geo-political world of theonomy natural disasters, diseases and terrorist attacks on nations are evidence of all this. In personal lives, it’s diseases, broken families, lost jobs, etc., etc.

    So it’s a form of “faith plus something.” First it’s a matter of who is the target of God’s salvation. 2k says God’s people alone. Theonomy says “God’s people plus geo-political nations.” Second it’s a matter how God salvifically relates to his people and vice versa. 2k says “by faith alone.” Theonomy says “by faith plus works.”

  377. dgh said,

    February 11, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Tfan, yes, please do show me the biblical exegesis that shows why your disagreement with Calvin is tolerable and mine is not. And please do supply me with the name of those communions that still hold to the 16th and 17th century understanding of the magistrate’s duties to enforce the true religion and punish idolatry.

    BTW, my reading comprehension is fine and it indicates that you are coy but do not answer questions directly. It took a long time to get you to recognize a bit of difficulty with the Servetus matter. And when you do it is an emotional issue. But since you think Calvin’s understanding of the magistrate is biblical, and his view was harmonious with the Geneva authorities executing Servetus, it does seem a legitimate question to see whether you agree with both Calvin’s view and the application since part of the reason for 2k is disagreement with the application, which in turn leads to a different view.

    So I’m still trying to fathom how if you disagree with the application but agree with the view you are intellectually coherent and honest. Or maybe you’re just being coy. At least we know what Doug thinks. You seem to be hiding behind Calvin.

  378. dgh said,

    February 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Curate, do you really not know that the spiritual equivalent of execution is excommunication?

  379. Doug Sowers said,

    February 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    dgh: Do you really not know, that Israel had the DP and church discipline?

  380. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    DGH wrote: “Curate, do you really not know that the spiritual equivalent of execution is excommunication?”

    As noted before, execution and excommunication are not equivalent. Execution is punishment, not discipline. Excommunication is discipline, not punishment. There is no coming back from execution (indeed that is the plan), there is a hope that excommunication will lead to restoration (indeed that too is the plan).

    -TurretinFan

  381. Reed Here said,

    February 11, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    TFan: yet in the case of the one who does not come back after excommunication, does not the keys passage make it clear that in such cases excommunication is a declaration of eternal capital punishment?

    It seems too far to say it is only discipline, not punishment.

  382. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    DGH wrote: “Tfan, yes, please do show me the biblical exegesis that shows why your disagreement with Calvin is tolerable and mine is not.”

    Will you accept the principle that lesser disagreements are more tolerable than greater disagreements without Biblical exegesis? Or to put it another way, where shall I begin. If you sincerely wish to understand how the Bible permits us to treat some matters as more central than others, I guess I need to know how detailed an explanation you need.

    DGH wrote: “And please do supply me with the name of those communions that still hold to the 16th and 17th century understanding of the magistrate’s duties to enforce the true religion and punish idolatry.”

    I still don’t see any reason to cure your ignorance on this point.

    DGH wrote: “BTW, my reading comprehension is fine and it indicates that you are coy but do not answer questions directly.”

    I was hoping your problem was reading comprehension. If you understand full well what I wrote and write comments that suggest I wrote something other than what I wrote, what else should I conclude except that you have difficulty understanding what I wrote?

    DGH wrote: “It took a long time to get you to recognize a bit of difficulty with the Servetus matter.”

    I’m still waiting on your explanation of how that imagined difficulty is a Biblical or logical difficulty. I mean, Servetus is real enough, but you have no compelling Biblical or rational argument to oppose his execution. I think some people say that Geneva should have just sent Servetus back to the place where he was already under a death sentence. If I were to take that position, it would make for an interesting after-dinner discussion, but wouldn’t really advance our discussions here, now would it?

    In point of fact, however, you don’t even have a legitimate Biblical argument for the principle that underlies the typical visceral objection to Servetus’ execution, namely the idea the people have some sort of right to blaspheme God in the name of freedom of religion. Perhaps you don’t share that objection – perhaps you do. If you’d get back to discussing the actual issues, perhaps we’d learn.

    DGH wrote: “And when you do it is an emotional issue.”

    Servetus, an emotional issue? I think I told you that two threads ago.

    DGH wrote: “But since you think Calvin’s understanding of the magistrate is biblical, and his view was harmonious with the Geneva authorities executing Servetus, it does seem a legitimate question to see whether you agree with both Calvin’s view and the application since part of the reason for 2k is disagreement with the application, which in turn leads to a different view.”

    I’ve repeatedly told you what my view is. It is the view of the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646. It is also fundamentally the same view expressed in the Irish articles of 1615 and the Belgic Confession of 1561.

    You’re welcome to explain how the application of the Reformers teachings should lead us to a different view than they held, but why don’t you just do that?

    You wrote: “So I’m still trying to fathom how if you disagree with the application but agree with the view you are intellectually coherent and honest.”

    Why would you assume I disagree with the application? Why not just assume I agree with the application and proceed with whatever Biblical or rational argument you have?

    You wrote: “Or maybe you’re just being coy. At least we know what Doug thinks. You seem to be hiding behind Calvin.”

    I’ve given you Calvin’s Biblical argument, and it seems to have kept you off the Biblical battlefield. If hiding behind a sword is “coy,” I guess I’m frightfully coy.

    -TurretinFan

  383. Neal said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Zrim, do you have some proof that theonomy teaches that in addition to God’s covenant people the object of God’s redeeming work is geo-political nations? Be specific.

    Second, if you are trying to be clever in answering what you perceive to be an error with an even more grevious error, you are not doing yourself any favors. It was not all clear that in saying what you did that you were engaging in hyperbole.

    Third, you seem to be claiming that there are no temporal consequences to sin in either personal lives or in the civil realm. That’s just plain false. David had to endure the consequences of his sin for the rest of his life even though God forgave him. As well, the Bible is full of passages about God judging nations for their sins.

  384. TurretinFan said,

    February 11, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Reed (#381):

    You wrote: “yet in the case of the one who does not come back after excommunication, does not the keys passage make it clear that in such cases excommunication is a declaration of eternal capital punishment?”

    I think that’s a stretch. Excommunication is a pronouncement that, as far as the church is concerned, the person is outside the body of Christ, and consequently is in danger of God’s judgment. Whether the disciplined person responds to this with godly sorrow and repentance or not doesn’t convert discipline into punishment. The punishment will come if they don’t repent, but restoration will come to one who does repent.

    Surely you do not think that admission to baptism saves a person (but rather is a recognition of the covenant status of the person) and likewise you do not think that excommunication damns a person (but rather is a recognition of the covenant status of the person). But even if we would informally speak of it that way, encouraged by Biblical and patristic examples, still we would acknowledge that the reality is that neither Baptism saves nor Excommunication damns. Instead, union with Christ saves.

    You wrote: “It seems too far to say it is only discipline, not punishment.”

    No person who repents of their sins and trusts in Christ for salvation will be denied heaven on the basis of excommunication, just as no self-righteous person will gain admission to heaven simply because they were members in good standing. I am sure you agree.

    All that the church can (and should) do for its members is discipline. Indeed, this is an important two-kingdoms principle. The exercise of true punishment (retributive justice) is properly the exercise of the state, not the church. Thus we see Peter explaining:

    1 Peter 2:13-14
    Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

    Whereas, in contrast, the duties of the elders are more fatherly – aimed at restorative discipline, rather than retributive justice. For example:

    1 Thessalonians 2:10-12
    Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: as ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

    We may see an exception that in the case of Ananias and Saphira, but there – of course – there was simply immediate divine capital punishment, as under the Old Covenant administration with Nadab and Abihu. I don’t – and I’m sure you don’t either – think that the church should take either of those pairs as examples of how the church should respond to those who are in grave sin.

    -TurretinFan

  385. Tim Prussic said,

    February 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

    How do Two-Kingdom folks understand the second (civil) use of the law?

  386. curate said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

    dgh: Curate, do you really not know that the spiritual equivalent of execution is excommunication?

    Well, not until you posted this. So you are arguing by implication that the States of the USA should excommunicate all murderers. That will put the fear of God into them alright. I am just dashing off an email to my Member of Parliament suggesting that we abolish our prison system and replace it with excommunication.

    I am picturing a burglar having second thoughts about breaking and entering, saying to himself, “Hang on! If I do this I won’t be allowed to attend Communion this Sunday. Better not.”.

    Dgh, you are a classical liberal. What you really mean when you say things have been spiritualized is that they are no longer applicable, IOW, they are cancelled. It is a typical ply to make a thing mean its opposite, without saying it out loud.

  387. todd said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:14 am

    So Zrim needs to repent and Darryl is a closet liberal. You theonomists really cannot handle anyone disagreeing with your theonomy.

  388. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Todd, feel free to disagree, just don’t disparage God’s Law. How about coming into agreement with the first Psalm ;-) David who was a man after God’s own heart, and he loved the Law of God.

  389. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Quick question for dgh; King David was called a man after God’s own heart. (By God himself) We know from reading King David’s history that he loved the Law of God! Of that there can be no doubt! We also know that King David was both prophet and King. Dr Hart, have you ever asked yourself why your opinion of the Law is so low, while David’s is so high? Even if you want to side with Paul in Galatians, why do you suppose, you think so differently than David? How could he delight in something that scares you to death?

  390. curate said,

    February 12, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Doug, keep up the good work.

    A quick point on the law in Galatians. Paul never criticises the law of God. What he is attacking in Galatians is the idea that our justification, our acceptance by God, is caused by our obedience. On the contrary, the work of Christ is the sole cause of that. dgh is misreading Galatians if he thinks otherwise.

  391. curate said,

    February 12, 2011 at 3:19 am

    389 todd: I don’t know if I am a theonomist. The position I am defending is simply that the ten words are compulsory for all the nations of the earth, starting with rulers. That is old fashioned Christianity of the pre-disenlightenment kind. IOW orthodoxy.

  392. dgh said,

    February 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Tfan, as I have argued repeatedly — apparently you are reading comprehensino challenged – the NT is silent on the magistrate enforcing God’s moral law. The NT is not silent on the legitimacy of magistrates who do not enforce God’s law still being ministers of God. Ergo, a magistrate may be legitimate and not enforce God’s law.

    This is not the same for Israel or the church which are both to enforce God’s law. But if God’s people are to be set apart, how is God’s law going to do that if everyone — both believers and non-believers — have to follow the same laws.

    This is a biblical argument. It is not an exegetical argument. But it is based on the difference between Israel and the church. You may disagree, but please do not say I have not made a biblical argument (which you haven’t done — you’ve quoted Calvin).

    As for the churches that hold to 1646, 1615, or 1563, I’ve asked you repeatedly for names and you have coyly avoided an answer by saying my ignorance of those churches is unbelievable. So please help out the ignorant and stupid and perhaps even morally challenged — please tell me a church that still believes the magistrate must enforce the true religion and banish false religion. (Actually, I know one that does, but I’ll see if you can actually back up what you say. Other can be coy also.)

    As for my remark about intellectual honesty, what I meant to say was that you have not been forthright about your own views in responding to me. I see that you can carry on a conversation and show some of your own reasoning abilities with Reed. But with me it has only been snippets from Calvin or the confessions, or coy responses and dodges. If you are not going to go by a name, it would seem judicious for you to actually identify what your position is, not merely by saying with whom you agree, but also by clarifying what the implications might be for the life, health and well-being of adulterers and blasphemers in our midst.

  393. Zrim said,

    February 12, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Neal, the geo-political semi-Pelgianism seems to be the clear implication of theonomy. It seems you might disagree?

    I am not saying there are no temporal consequences to sin. There are. I am saying that God relates to his people (not nations) through faith (not works). But you also have to account for why doing good often goes unrewarded and evil gets away with itself in this life. For my part, I account temporal blessings more to the grace and providence of God than to some one-to-one correspondence to human works.

    Doug, teacher’s unions are blasphemous? Shouldn’t you be out on a ledge somewhere?

    Tim (#285), the civil use (usus politicus sive civilis) of the law serves the commonwealth or body politic as a force to restrain sin.

    Todd, it is interesting how visceral theonomy seems to be against 2k. It reminds me of the revivalists against the confessionalists. Yeow. But I wonder if you are as surprised as I am that education hasn’t come up yet beyond Doug’s hysterics about teacher’s unions?

  394. Reed Here said,

    February 12, 2011 at 9:11 am

    TFan, no. 384: then what is the force of this passage?

    Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

    Jesus specifically references this in Matthew 18:18, specifying for us that this is particularly (maybe not exclusively) applicable in church discipline. Your position effectively guts the sacred magisterial force of what Jesus is saying. Excommunication has two uses:

    1. To call the child of God to repentance.
    2. To condemn the false child of God to eternal punishment.

    The brother in 1 Cor. 5 is an example of the first use; Annanias and Saphirra an example of the second use.

    Surely the power of church discipline is only declaratory. Yet it carries both divine promise of either restoration or destruction. When exercised in faith by His Church, God promises to restore his child via the ministry of Christ received in faith (repentance). As well, when exercised in faith by His Church, God promises to destroy (eternal capital punishment) his enemies who krept into his house.

    If excommunication is only unto restoration then you void the declarative action of half its force. Worse, you deny what Jesus said, “whatever you bind (over to eternal judgment) on earth I will bind (over to eternal judgment) in heaven.” Jesus has not given the Church merely rhetorical keys, but actual keys in their hands that open and shut heaven to people. To be sure, these keys do not work unless the Church hold on these keys is within the grasp of Jesus (the Church’s hand on the keys, Jesus’ hand around the Church’s hand.)

    So yes, excommunication is both a declaration used to restore sheep – and a declaration used to remove goats.

    I don’t think there is any material danger to your position in granting this. I’ve not grandiose argument that then expands from here. I only write to suggest an adjustment that is biblically necessary (in my opinion).

  395. dgh said,

    February 12, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Tim Prussic, why would you ask what 2kers think of the second use of the law? 2k says that God’s law rules everyone. For unbelievers God’s law comes through general revelation. For believers it comes through general and special revelation.

    Furthermore, 2k insists that Christ is lord over all people. For unbelievers he has delegated his authority to magistrates and parents. For believers he has delegated that authority to church officers, magistrates, and parents.

    In the 2k scheme there is no escaping God’s law or Christ’s rule.

    But that is not the same as saying that all Christians must never send their children to public schools or that the state should execute adulterers.

  396. dgh said,

    February 12, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Ben, thanks for pointing out the positions of the PRC and the RPCUS on the original WCF. (I wonder why you’re not one of their ministers.)

    But don’t you think it a tad ironic that the PRC was formed largely through the influence of John Murray, who had subscribed the American revisions at least while he was a minister in the OPC? And isn’t it interesting that the RPCUS says that is has no basic disagreement with the American revisions as subscribed by the PCA. In other words, these churches affirmations of 1646 is not without a few historical wrinkles.

  397. Reed Here said,

    February 12, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Doug, 390, 391, et.al: brother you keep chastizing Darryl for his opinion of fear regarding the law. I could be wrong, but I hear him merely reflecting on Paul’s attitude towards the law in its preeminent purpose:

    Romans 7:7-11 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

    Pal’s point is simply that the preeminent use of the law is to show me my sin, and in that to confirm me in my condemnation. In this sense the law is holy and good, and to be feared. Apart from Christ the law only slays – and it is relentless and universally 100% effective.

    The Mosaic law itself reflects this fear factor:

    Deuteronomy 8:6 So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.
    Deuteronomy 17:19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,

    The child of God will have a healthy holy fear of God’s law because one of the primary things it is intended to yield is a holy fear of it’s Author.

    Fear is not necessarily opposed to love. Paul’s attitude is not opposed to David’s in Psalm 1. Remember that the beginning of wisdom in some sense involves an attitude of holy fear (Proverbs). We even pursue the perfection of our salvation in fear marked by trembling (holy fear), Phil. 2:13.

    Paul then goes on in Romans 7 to deny that the problem is inherent in the law, but is inherent in us. Without the presence of Christ in our lives we can only experience that kind of fear which flees the law. But because of Christ (Rom 7:25) we are freed from serving the law only unto death.

    We still fear the law, but it is a fear that is a factor of the holy fear we feel towards God. It is the fear of a child who both knows his father loves him and punishes violations of his law. Instead of running away such fear wedded to love compels us to run to God. David reflects this fear wedded to love in Psalm 51.

    If we do not approach the law through faith in Christ it is only a law of death to us, something to be feared in the most worldly of manners (much more than a Monty Python’esque “run away!”). If we approach the law through faith in Christ we still fear it, but we approach the law with the fear that is described as holy reverence. Such fear wedded to love is only possible for those united to Christ.

    Darryl can speak for himself as to why he challenged your approach to the law. Others who have made a similar point are warning that we must not treat God or his law with the casual familiarity that denies his holiness. E.g., he is our Father-God; he is not good ole’ dad who gets little respect. Jesus is our heavenly brother; he is not our best bud we can pal around with.

    My challenge to you here is that you’ve chosen a criticism of Darryl’s point that is not really opposed to it. It is both love and fear, wedded together, that the children of God bring to him and his law.

    Maybe Darryl is merely trying to suggest that your love for God’s law doesn’t seem to be very well wedded to proper holy fear for God’s law. An effective retort to that would be to show that he has taken the absence of fear expressions in your comments to be the absence of fear itself. One or two sentences (much less than my weak effort here) would suffice to remove his objection.

    As it is, you’re asking him to prove in effect that he has stopped beating his wife, something he never did in the first place. Darryl has not said he does not love God’s law.

  398. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Zrim says; why do I get the sense you think with Pat Robertson that natural disasters, wars, diseases and terrorist attacks are God’s way of chastising countries? Why do I get the sense you think with Pat Robertson that natural disasters, wars, diseases and terrorist attacks are God’s way of chastising countries?

    Well Zrim, I believe the Bible. And the Bible says that God does in fact judge nations through war, so why are you having a hard time with this concept?

    Consider Isaiah 10:5

    Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger, the staff in their hands is my fury!

    I thought this was elementary stuff that every Christian knew. If you’re still struggling with this concept, then you’re even more muddled than I feared. I don’t have time right now, to spoon feed you more scriptures, but it should suffice to say, that God is Lord over the *storm* as well. Nothing can happen in history that is not a part of God’s overarching plan. All things that happen can only happen because God has foreordained them to pass… Even when Joseph’s brothers behaved wickedly, Joseph said, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. You see? Therefore all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and are called according he purpose. Even the wicked sinful acts of men have been foreordained. Are you really maintaining that you didn’t know this? Were you just joking?

  399. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

    So dgh, and Zrim; are you serious? The American Teachers Union, as a group, do not confess that Jesus is Lord! Yet they are active in training our youth the exact opposite. Therefore, they teach a world view, that is founded on a lie.They teach evolution to our children, as though it were fact. They do not teach that God created the heavens and the earth, oh no they say, that is just a fable or a myth, like believing in Zeus. And all this started happening in the sixties. Now, it’s far worse!

    There is currently a full court press going on in our public schools, to teach that homosexuality is a class of people like our gender. (In other words, it cant be immoral, if your born that way) Third graders are being instructed how to put on condoms, using cucumbers. The American teachers Union have always supported planed parenthood, and they vote in block for Democratic candidates for President, who have always been pro abortion. Look, I understand there are a few Christians within the system, (I know some), regardless, the large majority, believe the Bible is a myth. Plus, as a Union they will not make the good confession. They roll there eyes and scoff at the notion of Christ, and him crucified. How can they be anything other than an enemy of Christ?

  400. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 12, 2011 at 11:32 am

    This may have been in one of the posts that disappeared down the memory hole, but Doug, you referred to me as being “on the bubble”, IIRC.

    I thought it important to lay cards on the table so that no-one misunderstands my position.

    (1) I strongly reject “Old Testament theonomy”, the view that the civil law given to Israel is the de facto standard for the laws of nations.

    We’ve hashed out some of the whys and wherefores for this, but the strongest compelling reason to my mind is that the civil law served the function of placing Israel “under the Law” until Christ came, and to recapitulate that Law would simply place Christians under the Law as well.

    (2) I do believe that the moral law of God abides and is binding on all people. It therefore forms the framework around which the “general equity” of laws of nations should be built.

    (3) And further, I believe that magistrates can and should learn wisdom and justice from Scripture.

    Points (1) – (3), AFAICT, are straight-up Calvinian.

    (4) I believe that it is very unwise to grant the magistrate enforcement over 1st table issues. I have not yet seen any proposal that would allow him to do so, without either subverting the authority of the church, or losing his authority as a magistrate, or some of both.

    That is to say: the 1st table of the law is indeed just and right; but it’s not the magistrate’s business.

    In this, I differ from Calvin but agree with the 1789 Confession.

    I hope that clears up any confusion.

  401. todd said,

    February 12, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Doug,

    The Chamber of Commerce, National Football League, Republican Party, National Rifle Association, Tea Party, Little League, and Boy Scouts of America also do not as a group confess Jesus as Lord. Are they also on your list as enemies of Christ?

  402. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Zrim says: Doug, speaking of reading the Bible, I still have to wonder if the words “It is finished” mean much to you. God’s wrath was satisfied on the cross, yet you seem to want us to believe that maybe it wasn’t sufficiently taken care of when you correspond his anger to what geo-political nations do in their laws and customs.

    Wow! I almost don’t know where to begin. Yes Zrim, when Christ cried out “it is finished” he was talking about the atonement. Christ accomplished Salvation for his people. He purchased his people with his own blood. Since you appear to be struggling with this concept, I would suggest John Murray’s classic “Redemption accomplished and applied”. He has a great discussion Christ accomplished work. What Christ did not do, is change socio political morality and justice. Once you understand that justice and morality are coterminous, a light will blink on in your *bean*. Until then, I’ll leave the light on for you.

  403. Zrim said,

    February 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Doug (#401), I wonder what you’d make of W.A. Strong’s account of things in his Children in the Early Church:

    “The early Christians lived in a society whose values were inimical to them in many respects. The pagan society around them was underpinned by a religion which they considered false, if not demonic; it was characterized by moral values they could not share; and it was entered into by an education steeped in paganism. So we might expect the early Christians to try to protect their young by providing some alternative form of education which would keep them free from the temptations and snares of the pagan world in which they lived. They had, after all, the example of the Jewish synagogue schools. But, rather surprisingly, the Christians did not take that course for several centuries. There was no fiercer critic of paganism than Tertullian (c. 160-c.225), but even he accepted the necessity for young people to share in the education on offer at pagan schools. His chosen image to describe the Christian pupil’s situation as he read the pagan authors whose work formed the ancient syllabus, was that of someone offered poison to drink, but refusing to take it (On Idolatry 10).

    “The young Origen (born c.185 AD)…is said to have received extra instruction in the Scriptures from his father, Leonides, each day before he set out for his secular schooling (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.2.7f.)…Here was a devout Christian father, later to be martyred for the gospel, who was nonetheless willing for his son to attend school, and follow the normal curriculum of the pagan classics. Origen himself became an enthusiast for secular education as a preparation for Biblical study, and in later life urged it on those who came to him for instruction (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.18.4: NE 192).

    “We hear of no Christian schooling outside the home in the early centuries. A century after Clement had written to Corinthian fathers and husbands to ‘instruct the young in the fear of God,’ the same pattern of family responsibility can be seen in Origen’s Alexandria. Christian parents were still content for their children to share a common education with their pagan neighbors, and the church was slow to copy the synagogue in providing an alternative pattern of schooling. Even when John Chrysostom (c.347-407) wrote the first Christian treatise on the education of children (On the Vainglory of the World and on the Education of Children), he addressed himself to parents, and said nothing about sending children to specifically Christian schools. The first Christian schools seem to have been those founded by the monasteries from the fourth century onwards (Marrou 1965 472-84).

    “It is worth asking why Christians did not take the opportunity to create their own schools. If we take the comparison with the Jewish community, one reason must have been that there was no need for Christian children to learn a sacred language; their Jewish contemporaries had to learn Hebrew. Those who spoke Greek could read the New Testament in its original language, and the Old testament in Greek translation. And the New Testament Scriptures were rapidly translated into the various languages of the Mediterranean. Further, Christians did not see themselves as culturally distinct from their neighbours. An anonymous writer of the late second century expressed eloquently how Christians were in the world, but not of it:

    For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind by country, or by speech, or by dress. For they do not dwell in cities of their own, or use a different language, or practise a peculiar speech…But while they dwell in Greek or barbarian cities according as each man’s lot has been cast, and follow the customs of the land in clothing and food, and other matters of daily life, yet the condition of citizenship which they exhibit is wonderful, and admittedly strange…Every foreign land is to them a fatherland, and every fatherland a foreign land.(Epistle to Diognetus 6.1-5: NE 55).

    “To set up their own separate educational provision would have been to withdraw from the common life they shared with their pagan neighbours. And, while they recognized the dangers and allure of paganism, the early Christians saw no need to do that. They let their children ‘share in the instruction which is in Christ’ (1 Clement), and they allowed them access to education for the wider pagan society. They were not trying to create a Christian ghetto, but to be salt and light in their world. Their attitude to their children’s education was an expression of this open yet critical attitude.”

    So whatever evils (real but at least as much perceived and not a little over-wraught–at least my third grader has never seen a cucumber) are going on in our secular educational halls, the cue from the early church seems to be something of a collective shrug.

    Now, if you want to say that the quality of an American secular education is wanting, I’ll be the first public school advocate to say you have a point. But if you are going to make the case that sending covenant children to public schools is “handing them over to Molech,” then you might have to contend with something like Strong’s accounting of things.

  404. Zrim said,

    February 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Doug,

    Yes, I know that theonomy includes an understanding that Christ died for his covenantal people. But the question is why is it so concerned, then, for the geo-political nations? It would seem that theonomy is getting in the way of its good confession.

    And so I’ll repeat something I suggested to Tfan who also seems to think the Bible “norms the magistrate.”

    Taken together with the personal/political distinction you evidently agree with, the problem with saying that the Bible norms it is what to do when he fails to reward the good and punish evil. When people who are members of the church fail in their own persons they are either admonished or disciplined. What to do with institutions that are not members of the church and fail to do what they are allegedly prescribed? This seems insurmountable, unless you really want to suggest that the Supreme Court should be hauled before a church court for violating the sixth and second greatest or the Bush Administration for killing the weak and defenseless Iraqi citizens in Shock and Awe? But one way to avoid that utter silliness is to drop the idea that the Bible norms the magistrate in favor of 2k which says it norms the church.

  405. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Thanks Jeff, :-)

    Your position on point two makes Theonomic in my book! Because you and I agree that God’s word is our standard of justice in all areas of life. You may not go all the way with Bahnsen, and that’s fine. John Murray didn’t either, yet Bahnsen still called Murray a Theonomist for the very same reason.

    I do want to ask you a question on your use of civil law; are you combining the ceremonial laws, which were part of Israel’s civil law, when you say civil law? Because every theonomist I know, thinks many parts of Israel’s civil law has been set aside. In fact, Bahnsen thought that was so obvious, he felt it was a given. So when he uses the term ‘civil law” he meant it, in a more nuanced sense.

    Eph. 2:14

    “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the Law of commandments expressed in ordinances that he might create in him self one new man in place of the two so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross thereby killing the hostility”.

    Certainly Jeff, we both agree, that the Jewish *ceremonial civil laws*, and ordinances with there dietary laws separating Jew and Gentiles have been abrogated. Amen, and amen. To attempt to maintain the outward form of the Mosaic economy would be sinfully wrong, just as it was during the writing of the letter to the Galatians. I see this Ephesians verse saying the ceremonial law has been abolished, not the moral punishments for crime.

    Let me shoot this question at you; let’s say that as a Nation, America agrees with Bahnsen, and in a decade or two in the future, we pass the DP for rape, and homosexuality, based on the moral teachings found in the Mosaic Law. How could that place us back under the Law? That has me puzzled.

  406. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    @Zrim: Why are we so concerned for geo political nations? Because Jesus is Lord of all. And Jesus is King. Doesn’t the title *King* imply geo political authority to you? Have you ever heard of a King who didn’t rule over the geo political landscape?

  407. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Doug (#407):

    For me, it’s a matter of arithmetic. Count with me, if you will, the laws that go into the ceremonial, civil, and moral sets.

    The ceremonial laws are fairly clear: restrictions on food, clothing, holy days, and so on.

    There were also judicial punishments for ceremonial infractions, and these are vacated. Were those judicial punishments “civil” or “ceremonial” law?

    I think we agree “civil.”

    There remain still judicial punishments for transgressions of moral laws. Are those judicial punishments part of the civil law or the moral?

    Clearly, the civil, by the same logic.

    You have argued that the punishments for moral infractions ought to be considered moral law. But that reasoning would also compel us to place punishments for ceremonial infractions into the ceremonial law.

    And then — where is the judicial law? It has vanished into a recategorization. For there are no punishments, apart from commands; and each command is either ceremonial or moral. If we throw the punishments into the same bin as the command, then we only have two bins and not three.

    So my main objection to your line of reasoning is that it is improper taxonomy. You’ve assigned ceremonial punishments to “civil law”, but mysteriously and inconsistently assigned moral punishments into the moral law.

    I’m very confident that this is logically inconsistent with WCoF 19.4, which distinguishes between ceremonial and civil law (“To them also he gave…”) and declares that the civil law has expired.

    If the civil law consisted only of punishments for ceremonies, 19.4 would not have to be written. For 19.3 already declares the ceremonies expired; the punishments are therefore already vacated. The “also” of 19.4 would be nonsensical.

    No, the civil law encompasses punishments broader than merely punishments for ceremonies. It includes all of the punishments for all infractions. Those have expired — except to the extent that general equity may require.

    Now, I’m aware that some (notably Frame) have argued that each law has a ceremonial, civil, and moral aspect to it. And my argument still holds in that framework as well: the punishment attached to a given command is the civil aspect of that command.

    That civil aspect has expired, except as far as general equity requires.

  408. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I forgot to mention that WCoF 19.4 characterizes the civil law as “sundry judicial laws.”

    It’s fairly clear that all punishments fall under the rubric of “sundry judicial laws”, right? Hence: all punishments are a subset of the judicial laws given to Israel , which have expired (except …)

  409. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Doug (#407):

    Let me shoot this question at you; let’s say that as a Nation, America agrees with Bahnsen, and in a decade or two in the future, we pass the DP for rape, and homosexuality, based on the moral teachings found in the Mosaic Law. How could that place us back under the Law?

    The short answer: because it would be a partial reconstitution of the judicial law of Israel, and therefore a reconstruction of the OT nation.

    It’s the contrapositive of WCoF 19.4:

    Confession: Since Israel has expired, the judicial law expired with it.

    Contrapositive: Since the judicial law has not expired, Israel has not expired either. (Presumably, it has been transferred from Jews to Gentiles).

    I would urge you to dwell a bit on the fact that we believe that

    * Jesus fulfilled the office of prophet; therefore, there is no new prophecy.
    * Jesus fulfilled the office of priest; therefore, there are no new priests.

    What’s missing?

    * Jesus fulfilled the office of Davidic king; therefore, there are no new kingdoms of God on this earth.

    And his kingdom has been established and is advanced by the Gospel, not the Law. He “rules with a rod of iron” not by outward force, but by writing his law on the hearts of his people.

    Far better than regulations enforced by punishment, he places his spirit in the hearts of his people as a deposit guaranteeing their perseverance to the end.

    Israel was not “under the Law” simply in the sense that they had to be circumcised and refrain from pork. They were under the Law in the sense that every infraction carried a severe outward penalty. It was intentionally a yoke that they could not bear.

    The law was given, says Paul, so that “trespass might increase” and so that those who sin under the law might be judged by the law.

    We cannot gloss over this function of the OT law in our zeal to have just laws.

    Could America reinstitute the death penalty for disobedient children? Yes. There’s a snowball’s chance of that, as the saying goes, but theoretically Yes.

    In so doing, would it be any closer to being a righteous society?

    No. For it is not the law that makes a people righteous. The law simply lays out a penalty for outward acts of unrighteousness — but the sin goes underground, takes advantage of the commandment, invents a new way of doing wrong.

    When Calvin considers the fact that many do not follow the moral law of God, he does not call for stricter enforcement. Instead, says he, what is needed is the work of the Spirit.

    That’s why I asked you earlier what your end goal is. If I may leave off with this, I encourage you to think more on that question: What is the end-goal? Is it anything more than a theoretical longing for the day when society will be just? If so, then how?; if not, then shouldn’t we identify that day with the Lord’s return?

  410. dgh said,

    February 12, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Jeff, please take this with several grains of salt and three tongues in cheek, but I couldn’t help but chuckle when Doug wrote of you: “Your position on point two makes Theonomic in my book! Because you and I agree that God’s word is our standard of justice in all areas of life. You may not go all the way with Bahnsen, and that’s fine. John Murray didn’t either, yet Bahnsen still called Murray a Theonomist for the very same reason.”

    Finally, Doug, Zrim, and dgh agree!!!! Only Jeff Cagle could do that.

    (You know of course, that I don’t think you are really theonomic. But you have also heard Zrim and me say that your arguments do tend in that direction.”)

  411. Neal said,

    February 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    @Zrim (#395)

    I don’t know if I agree or not. That’s why I asked for proof. I’m having a hard time understanding how an application of the civil use of the law amounts to Pelagiansim.

  412. greenbaggins said,

    February 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    This has got to be the largest rabbit trail in history. The original “Machen’s Warrior Children” thread had to do with doctrinal orthodoxy, and Darryl Hart’s article in the Bob Godfrey Festschrift. It has turned into one of the largest, longest debates on theonomy ever. I just think this is funny.

  413. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    The original “Machen’s Warrior Children” thread had to do with doctrinal orthodoxy, and Darryl Hart’s article in the Bob Godfrey Festschrift. It has turned into one of the largest, longest debates on theonomy ever. I just think this is funny.

    Funny or not, J. Gresham Machen was certainly doctrinally orthodox when he wrote:

    Instead of obliterating the distinction between the Kingdom and the world, or on the other hand withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism, let us go forth joyfully, enthusiastically to make the world subject to God.”

  414. Zrim said,

    February 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Doug (#408), 2k holds that Jesus is Lord over every square inch but that he rules the spheres in two different ways (secular by law, sacred by gospel).

    But all you’ve done is assert something with which 2k agrees, yet you haven’t engaged the point I have made about the implication of “the Bible norms the magistrate.” Are you prepared to haul the Supreme Court before a Reformed jury?

    And, really, no thoughts on the educational posture of the early church? But what I find interesting here is how the early church made no effort to construct educational arenas for their children in the midst of thoroughly pagan world. Fast-forward to our modern western state, you know, the one that has been converted and according to you finally got around to executing adulterers because of it, and it’s the theonomists howling about the evil secular state and how to partake educationally in it is to hand our children over to Molech, etc. It sure seems to me that the early church was made out more might and muscle and it’s the modern church that seems like three-whiny-sheets-to-the-wind. They didn’t even have the luxury of at least a residual converted state, and yet they willingly and happily sent the kiddos off each day to be taught by the pagans. Moderns might have cucumbers in their classrooms (or more likely stories of cucumbers in classrooms), but pre-moderns had much worse. And yet, two very different postures.

    I’m having a hard time understanding how an application of the civil use of the law amounts to Pelagiansim.

    Neal, it doesn’t. My point is that theonomy, insofar as Doug well represents its application in his comments, reveals not only a geo-political hermeneutical error but a semi-Pelagian application of that same error.

    Actually, Lane, I think this is less of a bunny trail than you may imagine. 2k has everything to do with doctrinal-ecclesiastical precisionism, and there is about as much latitude between the two as there is between Calvinism and Arminianism (the via media efforts of Jeff Cagle nothwithstanding). IOW, 2k is to ecclesiology what Calvinism is to soteriology.

  415. Neal said,

    February 12, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    My point is that theonomy, insofar as Doug well represents its application in his comments, reveals not only a geo-political hermeneutical error but a semi-Pelagian application of that same error.

    Yes, but it would be nice to see this argued for rather than just asserted. Re-stating one’s position does not establish it.

  416. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    @Jeff, the ceremonial laws are not at all clear. Not even Greg Bahnsen was sure as to the exact nature to some of the Laws nor the meaning of all the Laws. The ceremonial laws were the main portion of the Civil law that carried punishments and sanctions; as well as laws that were laid down for all men, both Jew and Gentile. When Christ went to the cross, he abolished the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile making the Jewish Civil Law obsolete. Except for the general equity, which IMHO means, punishing crime by the word of the LORD. As you have already noted, “all the men who wrote the WCF were all in favor of the DP for rape, homosexuality, murder, and kidnapping. (Theonomy!)That’s what I believe as well. I’m hoping that I have phrased my position in a more concise way.

  417. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Zrim says: The Noahic covenant was a creational covenant. It includes the DP for murder only. You pointed to societies that execute for lesser crimes. They are out of accord with the explicit creational covenant, which is also known by implicitly nature.

    That is the biggest load of “you know what”, I’ve heard in a while. A boat load of assertions, with not a shred of Biblical proof. You are pitting the Noahic Covenant verses the Mosaic Covenant, in a very wrong headed “lame” not to mention perverse way. The Noaic Covenant was part of the Covenant of Grace; IMHO.

  418. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Zrim says: Doug (#408), 2k holds that Jesus is Lord over every square inch but that he rules the spheres in two different ways (secular by law, sacred by gospel).

    Once again, that is an erroneous, as well as ridiculous assertion. The Secular State is a concept that Machin hated with all his being! There can be no neutrality, he thundered! Jesus is Lord and King over every realm, both Church and State, with one standard of morality and justice. To rule secularly, is incoherent, and dishonoring to God. You are sadly muddled in the distinction you’re attempting to make. I’m just not going to let you get away with it. I’m throwing the penalty flag, “holding on to incoherence”; you’re out of the game!

  419. todd said,

    February 12, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Doug,

    After you learn how to spell Machen’s name correctly, try actually reading him. You are demonstrating that you have no idea what you are talking about. After that, try actually reading Kline and understanding him before condemning him. BTW, I would say the same to those who argued against theonomy publicly but had never read Bahnsen.

  420. Doug Sowers said,

    February 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Thanks for the spell check Todd, Now, if you’re insinuating that Machen would be on R2K’s side in this debate, and then you’re out of your mind! Haven’t you been reading the quotes? Don’t you know that Machen was Bahnsen’s hero? Maybe you’re not up to speed, on the latest evidence, but your waaay off base. And I’ll take you take you to the matt on this one Todd, and body slam you out cold! You’re the one, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about! If you want, I can, and am ready to prove this beyond any doubt that Machen held to the belief that, Christianity must transform all of society to the *Law of God*. With Machen there could be no neutrality! He believed our *Government schools* should teach the Law of God, as the one majestic standard that all men and nations must obey. He said it was the only patriotic thing to do. Machen thought America should punish criminals though the revealed standards found in the word of God! Machen would side with Theonomy in this debate. Moreover, Machen would rail against *you* and R2K!

    It’s really very simple; it’s either Theonomy or Autonomy, take your pick Todd.

  421. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 12:39 am

    DGH, Thomas Cartwright ranked as the most highly esteemed Puritan in English Presbyterianism. Listen to his perspective on the Law, and I quote:

    “And as for the judicial Law, for as much as there are some of them made, in regard of the region where there were given, and of the people to whom they were given, keeping the substance and the equity of them as it were the marrow may change the circumstance of them as the times of places and manners of the people shall require. But to say that any Magistrate can save the life of any blasphemers, contemptuous and stubborn idolaters, murderers, adulterers, and incestuous persons and such like , which God by his judicial law hath commanded to be put to death, I do utterly deny and I am ready to prove if that pertains to this question”.

    Me: Notice my Brothers, how confident and sure Cartwright was that the Magistrate should enforce the Mosaic Law on wicked men *today*! And he felt it was easy to prove.

    Zrim says, yes, but through natural law!

    No, says Cartwright, through God’s Word!

    Zrim says, we can’t go by that outdated thing! Most of those laws were in the Mosaic Covenant. It’s too restricting! Plus Christ changed the way we should punish crime.

    Cartwright says, I’ll prove it, in God’s Word!

    Zrim say, No! Not God’s word! Shriek! We must be secular! We must be agnostic, just because Jesus is Lord, doesn’t mean our rulers should look to God’s revealed word, they must only look to general revelation. The Magistrate must take a more autonomous approach!

    Cartwright says, no! We stand on the Word of the Lord, period! Only God’s Word can speak with authority, because only God can speak with an objective standard; the revealed word of the LORD!

    Zrim says: We can’t do that! Why, that would violate freedom of religion!

    Cartwright says: Jesus is Lord; therefore, we must build our nation of the Rock of God’s Word.

    Zrim says; what would the Muslim’s say to that? Wouldn’t that just force the man to lie?

    Of course this is my characterization of Zrim and Cartwright ;-) and I was probably having way to much fun, playing like I was Zrim. So, sorry Zrim, NOT! LOL!

    End notes:

    I agree with the most esteemed Puritan of all time over and against our *poor muddled* brother Zrim. He’s hopelessly outmatched, and trapped in a conceptual contradiction. Thinking that socio political ethics have changed, when that is utter nonsense. Earth to Zrim; when will you wake up? It’s either Theonomy or Autonomy!

  422. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:00 am

    For additional reading: Ligon Duncan on WCoF 19.4 and theonomy.

    Teaser quote: No man can unreservedly subscribe to the Westminster Confession … and hold a Reconstructionist view of the law, because the Reconstructionist position on the continuing normativity of the civil law on principle (cf. Bahnsen, By This Standard, 301) postively contradicts the WCF in at least four points: 1) the threefold division of the law, 2) the assertion that the civil law has expired, 3) the recognition of ad hoc principles in the civil law, and 4) in its definition of “general equity.” Thus, if the Reconstructionists are right in their view, the Confession must of necessity be declared antinomian in its view of God’s law.

    Not to be snarky, but Duncan seems to believe that it’s either theonomy or the Confession.

  423. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Neal, God bless you brother! Your really showing the fruit of the Spirit, with your longsuffering, your logic, your polite questions, and your strength; “in Him of course”. I read your posts with interest and find your logic irresitable. Keep pressing on to the higher calling found in Christ Jesus!

    Rest in his completed work,

    Doug

  424. curate said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Doug, you are doing a tremendous job of defending the law of God. More strength to your arm.

    The basic disagreement between you and those opposing you is found in their lack of knowledge of the purposes of the law. People today are so steeped in enlightenment assumptions that the are unable to see any merit in God’s holy laws.

    I would wager that the vast majority of ministers of religion today are unable to recite the ten words from start to finish. I took a poll of once, many years ago, and not one of those I asked was able to do it. If the men of God cannot, how will the others?

    Another issue is a fundamentally baptistic stroke Marcionite division between the OT and the NT. To many the God of the OT is the angry god of Moses, but the God of the NT is the loving and gracious God of Jesus – and ne’er the twain shall meet. (The ten words is part of the OT, and thus anti-gospel).

    To this way of thinking the OT death penalties are obviously over the top, replaced by a new ethic taught by Jesus, different and opposite to the old one, immortalised by John Lennon, that “All we need is love, la la lala la”.

    The problems are fundamental, and until they are recognised by those holding them, and corrected by studying the scriptures, they will persist.

    Finally, the goal of the gospel according to Paul is that we might fulfil the righteous requirements of the law, to which we both say amen. In modern evangelical religion to goal of the gospel is to go to heaven, and to cover our sin in the meantime. Holiness must not be pushed, because that would be legalism, according to this gospel-sans-law consensus.

    This lawless gospel is orthodoxy in my own ex-denomination. In four years of full time study we did not cover the commands once. We had generalised teaching about ethics, much like many of the posts we have read here. When I courteously asked about this, the head honcho airily said that it is impossible to cover everything in three or four years …

    Finally, regarding the term, theonomy, I never use it. It is unhelpful and misleading. It has too many associations with home schooling, the right, and a raft of other issues that effectively obscure the central point – that God’s holy laws are eternal and universally applicable

  425. todd said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:44 am

    Doug,

    “He believed our *Government schools* should teach the Law of God, as the one majestic standard that all men and nations must obey. He said it was the only patriotic thing to do.”

    Okay Doug (sighing) – I look forward to your evidence that demonstrates this contention about Machen.

    FWIW, you might consider stepping away from the computer for a few weeks for some studying. As I said, I read Bahnsen’s two books on theonomy carefully, as well as his other articles, before deciding against theonomy or ever daring to debate or disagree with a theonomist. It is simply a responsible practice, as well as respectful of the side you wish to refute. Blogging can be addicting, to anyone, and it is good to stop and study before going public. To understand Kline start with Kingdom Prologue; that is his seminal work on all these matters. For Machen, start with Christianity and Liberalism, especially the chapters on salvation and the church. I never suggested Machen would entirely support our church-state views, but any honest reader will see he was no theonomist. Read his testimony before Congress where he clearly states what the schools should and should not teach, as well as his belief in freedom for all religions. Enjoy your reading; Who knows, you might come back with a different understanding of Kline, or loaded for bear with more ammunition against.

  426. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Hi Jeff:) It should go without saying, that I don’t think much of Ligon Duncan. (As a teacher on the Law) In fact, even when he teaches on subjects that have nothing to do with Theonomy, ethics, or eschatology, he’s still not very good. Not that he’s all bad, but one of my least favorite reformed teachers. I have no reason to doubt the validity of his salvation; but his teaching ability of the Law of God is abysmal, for a “reformed Pastor. IMHO. He is everything that’s wrong, with going to Seminary and comes out, not understanding the scope and purpose of the Great Commission. On that subject he’s in one big “purple” haze. On the subject of eschatology he’s stuck in a muddle. Even with that said, I love Ligon Duncan in Christ, and would still listen to him, if I had too, “meaning (I wouldn’t walk out on the man) and I’m willing to admit that he has had far more rigorous training, than I. Duncan could even teach me a thing or two or three, and maybe a little bit more. I just feel strongly that his perspective on Theonomy is wrong.

    Jeff, let me point out that the men at Westminster, yep; the ones who wrote 19.4 would all agree with me, and disagree with Ligon Duncan as to Theonomy. So who cares what Duncan “thinks”? He’s the one who is at odds with the WCF not yours truly. The irony is, that the very laws that came to being, during the lives of the authors of the WCF, were Theonomic in nature. Were these men alive today, they would side with Greg Bahnsen and not Ligaon Duncan when it comes to the DP for rape, homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, murder, and kidnapping. All one need do, to prove my premise, is look at the laws that went on the books, during the Reformation.. Case closed!!!

  427. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Todd, I will take your advice.

  428. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 2:17 am

    @Todd, you say that you read Bahnsen carefully, before you would dare debate a Theonomist; could you please briefly explain the crux of your biblical support for your decision?

    Did you read “No Other Standard” his rebuttal to his opponents?

    Do you believe Kline’s intrusion ethic?

    Do you believe that Christ typologically changed the DP for rape, homosexuality, kidnapping and blasphemy?

  429. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Doug, please see my email to you. Thanks.

  430. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Roger: have you read Marrow of Modern Divinity? You sound an awful lot like the Nomista character.

    I think your gospel goal is way smaller than the Bible’s. ;-)

  431. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Thanks Curate, coming from you that’s a real compliment! I think your right about the term Theonomy; it comes with a lot of baggage. Most men on this board have dismissed it out of hand. I still have yet to hear one man on Greenbaggins give me a cogent reason (found in God’s word) on why we would abolish the death penalty sanctions for rape, homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and kidnapping. Something all the men who wrote WCF strongly still believed was valid. From dgh, and Zrim, I keep hearing raw assertions, with nary a Scriptural defense. Dr Hart has the nerve to say, “Why couldn’t the punishment for rape, have gone the way of pork”? Huh?

    If one more person tells me, Christ typologically changed the way we punish crime, without providing Bible verses, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll…hmmm, I don’t know what I’ll do, but I will not be moved with such an argument. In fact, it makes me all the more convinced that they are dead wrong. I would think someone could give me some clear and convincing evidence, but so far, I hear the sounds of silence. What I get from dgh, and Zrim is that the *Word of the Lord*, is not the standard for the Magistrate. (They say) The Magistrate is to look to general revelation, not to the Bible. Yet neither one of them can explain or define what general revelation is; or how anyone could possibly know, if they were in fact following it, in the first place! Amazing! And how disrespectful to the Law of God! IMHO. Bottom line, they hate an objective standard, even when it’s the Word of the Lord!

  432. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Doug (#426):

    Brother, I think you are capable of much better than this. Whether one likes and agrees with Duncan in general, his argument cannot be dismissed with “I don’t think much of him.” It’s about the argument, not the man.

  433. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 13, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Doug, if I you’ll permit me to double down on #432, I’d like to challenge you to sharpen your argument in several ways. The purpose here is not to hector with endless questions, or to condescend, but to lay the cards on the table so that you can see clearly the work that remains if you wish to persuade. I assume that you have similar complaints about the views I’ve expressed.

    First, decide what’s actually important to you. (1) Do you merely want to establish the death penalty for kidnapping and rape, et al? (2) Or do you believe that the Mosaic code, every jot and tittle, is the standard of justice for the nations? (3) Or do you believe that the general equity of the Mosaic code is the standard of justice for the nations?

    If (1), then Cartwright is your friend. But if (2), which is how it appears from your frequent appeals to Bahnsen, then you ought to stay away from Cartwright.

    Your own quote shows that he was not a jot and tittle man:

    And as for the judicial Law, for as much as there are some of them made, in regard of the region where there were given, and of the people to whom they were given, keeping the substance and the equity of them as it were the marrow may change the circumstance of them as the times of places and manners of the people shall require.

    And if (3), then you may have noticed that several of us (*waves hand) have affirmed the abiding validity of the general equity, as indeed the Confession teaches.

    The point is that (1), (2), and (3) are all different, and need to be argued differently.

    Here I’ll shamelessly plagiarize. A certain “Michael Mann” (presumably not the climatologist!) posted this link on OldLife recently concerning general equity: What is Equity?.

    Second, you need to substantially bolster the lines of evidence and defense for your argument. The primary strands of your argument are (if I’m reading correctly in this heavy blizzard of posting)

    (1) There is no Scripture that teaches that the civil code has been abrogated,
    (2) Justice is coterminous with morality, so that justice can no more change than morality can change, and
    (3) 1 Tim 1.8.

    and the primary strands of your defense are

    (4) The typological arguments aren’t persuasive to me (Doug), and
    (5) The “civil law” of WCoF 19.4 refers to the penalties for the ceremonial law.
    (6) Likewise, the “curse of the law” in Gal 3-4 refers to the ceremonial law.

    Each one of these lines has been questioned in some way or other, so that each one needs some additional argumentation.

    For example, why is (1) sound, given that it argues from silence?

    (2) needs to address the issue of jurisdictions. God’s Law includes things like commands to love one’s wife as oneself; but that is not in the jurisdiction of the magistrate. To say “justice is coterminous with morality” gives the magistrate jurisdiction over every ethical issue — and I don’t think anyone thinks this is reasonable.

    The complaint against (3) is that it confuses “being worthy of death” with “the magistrate ought to kill for it” — again, a jurisdictional issue. How do you respond?

    With regard to (4), what is your account of the typology, if not that Jesus has fulfilled the office of king? How do you handle Heb 2.2, which clearly associates the threatening and punishment of the law with the Old Covenant?

    And finally, (5) seems novel, and therefore requires the highest standards of proof.

    In particular, you’ve not addressed the question of why the Westminster Divines stated clearly that the “sundry judicial laws given to the nation of Israel are abrogated.” Why was this necessary to state in addition to declaring the entire ceremonial law was abrogated (WCoF 19.3)? And why is there is principled exception given in 19.4, when no such exception is given in 19.3?

    Nor have you addressed, or even acknowledged, that both Ursinus and Calvin clearly held that the judicial law given to Israel was not the model for the laws of nations, except insofar as the general equity might require. And Luther was even farther into the Law/Gospel divide than either of those two! Given their views, which are “baseline Reformed”, how do you defend (5) from the charge of theological novelty?

    And finally, how does (6) square with the belief that we all share: that Jesus took the penalty for our sin on the cross? If Gal 3.13 means “Jesus endured the penalty for breaking the ceremonial law for us by dying on the cross”, then what atones for our sin?

    OR

    If Jesus’ death on the cross satisfies the penalties for both ceremonial and moral law, then what does this say about those penalties?

    Again, I put these out here for further thought so that you can refine your argument.

    And I really need to shut up now. Todd is right — blogging is like a drug.

  434. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Oops, it looks like the link to the article was mistyped. Here it is again: What is Equity?

  435. Zrim said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Doug,

    You can quote Cartwright who says, “But to say that any Magistrate can save the life of any blasphemers, contemptuous and stubborn idolaters, murderers, adulterers, and incestuous persons and such like , which God by his judicial law hath commanded to be put to death, I do utterly deny and I am ready to prove if that pertains to this question.”

    But I can just as easily quote Kuyper who says:

    The question is also brought up and is of importance: does not a part of the work of reformation belong to the magistrate? The question is especially whether the magistrate is not called, authorized and obligated “to prevent and exterminate all idolatry and false religion.”

    Our conviction in this respect does not agree with that of our fathers. We do not make a secret of this difference. Only God’s Word, not the word of the fathers, is finally authoritative for us. And it is on the ground of God’s Word that we are convinced in conscience not to follow our fathers in this subordinate part of their Confessions.

    The reason for this is that these words from the Confessions designate and imply that the obligation rests on the magistrate not only to, admonish heretics if they refuse to perform their public duty, but also to arrest, imprison, and pass sentence upon them, and execute them on the scaffold.

    This actually is implied in these words.

    The proof of this is Calvin’s writings: “that heretics must be executed with the sword”; Beza’s Essay, “that heretics must be corporally punished by the civil magistrate”; and further the sentiments of Maresius in his explanation of the Confession. Compare also the sentiments of our theologians: Voetius in his “Dispute. Theol.” III, 802-809, and II, 122; H. Alping in his “Script. Heidelb.” Tom. 2, p. 2, probl. 20, p. 335, f. 9; Spanheim, “Vind. Euang, ‘ ‘ 1, II, lot. 20; C. Van Velzen, “Pheol. Pratt.” II, 1, I, p. 632; Gerdesius, “Bibel, menstr. Belg.” m. Jan. 1742, p. 30; J. a. Marck, “Med Pheol.” C. XXIII, para. 32; De Moor, “Comm. a Marck” VI, p. 490f.; and Turretin, “Theol. Hand.” T. 1, XVIII, p. 84, para. 30.

    All these theologians are unanimously of the opinion that Article 36 of our Confessions actually lays on the magistrate the obligation to execute a heretic on the scaffold in the final analysis.

    They differ from Rome in this that they leave to the magistrate its own judgment. Rome teaches that the magistrate must pass sentence on the ground of the ecclesiastical judgment. Our fathers say, on the other hand, Let the magistrate decide for himself.

    They also grant that as a general rule the magistrate should not resort to this extreme punishment except in the worst instances and with the worst heretics, etc.

    Also, it was usually added since the time of a Marck that the magistrate ought not to do this to a heretic as long as he was not a threat to the Republic. But however mildly and however carefully their sentiments were expressed it finally comes down to this, that when other means have failed, the extermination of idolatry must be carried out by fire and sword.

    We oppose this Confession out of complete conviction, prepared to bear the consequences of our convictions, even when we will be denounced and mocked on that account as unReformed.

    We would rather be considered not Reformed and insist that men ought not to kill heretics, than that we are left with the Reformed name as the prize for assisting in the shedding of the blood of heretics.

    It is our conviction: 1) that the examples which are found in the Old Testament are of no force for us because the infallible indication of what was or was not heretical which was present at that time is now lacking.

    2) That the Lord and the Apostles never called upon the help of the magistrate to kill with the sword the one who deviated from the truth. Even in connection with such horrible heretics as defiled the congregation in Corinth, Paul mentions nothing of this idea. And it cannot be concluded from any particular word in the New Testament, that in the days when particular revelation should cease, that the rooting out of heretics with the sword is the obligation of magistrates.

    3) That our fathers have not developed this monstrous proposition out of principle, but have taken it over from Romish practice.

    4) That the acceptance and carrying out of this principle almost always has returned upon the heads of non-heretics and not the truth but heresy has been honored by the magistrate.

    5) That this proposition opposes the Spirit and the Christian faith.

    6) That this proposition supposed that the magistrate is in a position to judge the difference between truth and heresy, an office of grace which, as appears from the history of eighteen centuries, is not granted by the Holy Spirit, but is withheld.

    We do not at all hide the fact that we disagree with Calvin, our Confessions, and our Reformed theologians.

    We readily testify that we therefore are not compelled by necessity through invincible testimony to let this difference come out.

    We completely agree that those who accede to this paragraph in Article 36 have an easier position in this respect.

    We admit that he who in this respect represents us in the church as deviating from the Confessions is true in his testimony.

    Notwithstanding this serious objection which we do not consider lightly, we would nevertheless continue frankly to insist: In the name of the Lord we do not ash a scaffold for the heretic.

    Because of this the church of our Lord Jesus Christ should understand and it should be sharply bound on the soul of the children of God who know love: Those teachers who claim to maintain this paragraph in Article 36, lay upon the people of God the demand that they shall approve of the execution of heretics. No, even more, if God wills it, they must confess and take upon themselves the responsibility for the blood of heretics once again.

    If the children of God are of a mind to do this in their land, then naturally they must condemn us in this matter.

    But a better testimony speaks in them: “I may not erect a scaffold for the heretic!” Let them then also have the courage openly to add their vote to ours so that the proponents and opponents of the burning and beheading of heretics may stand in clear and total opposition to each other.

    As is known, we deny least of all that which is implied for the magistrate in Christ’s kingship and in both tables of the law. This, however, is treated in earlier paragraphs and need not be repeated here.

    Permit us to add only this.

    As much as our opponents must maintain that also Nero was obligated to burn the heretics according to his own judgment (i.e., the people whom he held to be heretics), they actually concede that this obligation can only be carried out properly by the magistrates who make profession of the Reformed religion.

    And because there is no such magistrate who as yet has appeared in our land, we want the question asked if it is good to condemn brethren concerning such a painful question as the question of the scaffold for the obstinate heretics.

    At any rate, we indulge in the hope that even those teachers who are zealous with respect to the preference for the maintenance of this “scaffold-sense” in Article 36, will be themselves the first to shrink back from the consequences of their position when the mayor of their town actually permits a heretic to be brought to the scaffold or the stake.

    We think that in that hour they would, rather than to call for the blood of heretics, themselves carry water to extinguish the stack of wood, or in loving zeal cut the ropes which already are tied on the neck of their fellow citizens.

    It’s a matter of which individual one agrees with. You can have Cartwright and I’ll take Kuyper.

    But lest it becomes merely a contest over individual writers, I’ll also take the ecclesiastical revisions of Belgic 36 and WCF 23 which also clearly side with Kuyper insofar as they delete the magistrate’s responsibility for suppressing heresy and blasphemy (and highlighting his duty to protect the good names and reputations of heretics and false religionists to boot).

    Also, if it’s Bible verses you need to show how “Christ typologically changed the way we punish crime,” try this helpful summary on why we don’t stone adulterers. It has Bible verses in it (though something tells me those won’t nearly do):

    The Bible is a mysterious book to many people, not least because of the peculiar (and harsh) laws and punishments one finds in the Old Testament. I can recall a discussion of religion and ethics on Larry King Live a number of years ago, when the evangelical guest was asked why he could be so adamant about enforcing the Bible’s morals when the punishments assigned for breaking these rules seemed so outrageous. Obviously we don’t stone people for their sexual activities, so isn’t the sin just as outdated as the punishment? Sadly, the pastor was completely flummoxed as to how to interpret these sections of the Bible.

    Calvin and the Reformed offer a few simple guidelines to help you get started solving these alleged conundrums for yourself. Accordingly, there are three different kinds of laws in the Old Testament: ceremonial, civil, and moral. The ceremonial laws regulated the believing community’s life of worship, including the intricate sacrificial system oriented to the temple. The civil laws pertained to the “nation” of Israel as a unique theocratic society. Some scholars describe these temporary arrangements as a kind of martial law phenomenon, a state of “intrusion ethics” in which the normal order of affairs is suspended and God rules his people directly in a way that hints at the final intrusion of the kingdom of God in the age to come. Finally, there were and are moral laws written on every human’s conscience; these are the basics of what is right and wrong. Calvin equated this with “natural law” and insisted it could be accessed via general revelation. In that sense, it was rooted in God’s creation of the world (that is, “natural”), and some relative degree of justice in the world is possible because of “common grace”–the superintending work of God that restrains evil and lets the rain fall on the just and on the unjust.

    As Christians, we rejoice in the fact that Christ has fulfilled all the law (Rom. 10:4). The ceremonial laws are fulfilled because Jesus was the final and perfect sacrifice (Heb. 10:10-12). The civil laws are abrogated because the church, Israel, is made up of a people in exile without any socio-political expression in this phase of redemptive history. We do not, in other words, live in a period of intrusion ethics. We have no need, therefore, of ecclesiastical officials to govern the affairs of state and nation, nor do we need the sacrifices of goats and bulls to atone for our sins. But what of the moral laws?

    For Calvin, Christ has redeemed us especially from the consequences of breaking the moral law; he has fulfilled all righteousness and has taken upon himself the curse of the law so that in him we might have abundant life. We then pursue a life of piety out of gratitude. Our adherence to the moral law can profit us nothing in relation to our justification before a holy God, yet it continues to inform all of the interactions between creatures, believer and unbeliever alike. In this sense, the moral law remains in effect such that right is right and wrong is wrong.

    What then is the quick answer to the question of stoning adulterers? Our approach flows out of this basic categorization of laws and a Reformed understanding of where we are currently situated in redemptive history. The moral law remains in effect in this qualified way so that adultery is wrong at all times and in all places. But the stoning punishment of Deuteronomy 22:23-24 is no longer in effect because this particular code belonged to the civil law that temporarily governed the nation of Israel but has long since passed away.

    Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford), “Why We Don’t Stone Adulterers,” Modern Reformation, Issue: “Interpreting Scripture” July/August Vol. 19 No. 4 2010 Page 23.

  436. Paul said,

    February 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Zrim 355,

    Paul (#356), why do I need a verse that says “only murder deserves the DP”? That seems awfully Biblicist.deserves

    Zrim, because you’re trying to make a case from the Bible that the Bible says that murder the DP, therefore, you reason, only murder deserves the DP. But surely you can see that inference is too quick. The biblical verse you cite doesn’t get you to that conclusion, so if you want your biblical argument to go through, you need a verse with an “only” in it, or else give up the argument from the Bible and present a reason for why “only” murder deserves the DP. Can you make good on your assertion in this regard?

    But it seems perfectly reasonable to say that Genesis 9 reserves execution for the crime of murder. Or put another way, the question is, What deserves execution? Simple: murder.

    This is true, but your position has been only murder deserves the DP. Got an argument for that? The Apostle Paul sure seemed to think that the DP could be deserved for more crimes than murder:

    Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!”

    Also, Romans 13 seems to support the idea that the State may punish with the DP for crimes other than murder and that this would be just for them to do.

    I fail to see why this means that all punishments are wrong.

    Oh, because you argued this way: The creation covenant tells us that murder deserves the DP. The creation covenant doesn’t tell us that any other crime deserves the DP. Therefore, no other crime deserves the DP. Of course, the creation covenant doesn’t tell us that stealing deserves 2 years in jail, therefore, stealing doesn’t deserve 2 years in jail. I simply mirrored your reasoning pattern. I used as many true premises as you did, ergo, if your argument goes through, then so must mine, on pain of arbitrariness.

    It just means that the one called execution has the high standard of murder.

    Right, I got that you think this, what I want to see is the argument for this. I think I’ve asked for an actual argument about three times now.

    For everything else there’s natural law, human reason and civil statutes that can be fitted for specific times and places.

    But I showed you that human reason and civil statues handed out the DP for crimes other than murder. Rome did, and you didn’t see Paul condemning it. Indeed, he seemed to support it.

    I really think you’re being wooden and overly-academic here to say that “all punishments are wrong since the ‘creation covenant’ doesn’t proscribe punishments for, say, stealing, spousal abuse, etc.”

    I gave the argument for this above, now what you need to do is show how it is invalid or show which premise is false. One problem will be that showing a false premise will implicate your argument. So you can go for validity. The problem here is that if you show the argument is invalid, that implicates yours since mine takes the same form as yours.

    Re Genesis 20, I tend to think that this is descriptive of a certain situation serving a redemptive-historical purpose, not a prescriptive the way Genesis 9 is serving a creational purpose for all of humanity.

    So you disagree with VanDrunen’s argument from this passage that in this passage we see the existence of natural law and it is a completely common passage having nothing to do with the unique laws of Israel or its unique status as theocratic kingdom? It certainly seems to me that the pagan king knew his action would have been wrong, knew it deserved death, and so he argued that he was innocent and had done nothing wrong. If you choose to part way, congrats, you just undermined the MAIN argument DVD used in his A Biblical Case for Natutural Law. It’s clear that you’re offering an ad hoc response to me and that you should think twice when the experts on your own side disagree with you.

  437. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Doug, no. 431: some of us have decided against theonomy after serious study and prayerful deliberation. Please don’t assume that everything you read against your theonomic position is rooted in dismissiveness. Much of it may very well be quite principled. I know mine is. As well, having read quite a bit of Dr. Hart, I know he has not been dismissive of theonomy. (And, if it helps, my decision against theonomy was prior to my introduction to Dr. Hart).

    Dr. Hart’s “pork” quip is actually more substantial than you’re hearing. Pork is clearly ceremonial in the Mosiac law. Dr. Hart is simply challenging you, on what biblical basis do you maintain that capital punishment for rape still applies and is not to be treated the same as the restrictions on pork, only applicable to the OT nation of Israel? That is actually a very profound question, and worth exploring, as it will move the discussion forward between you both. Don’t let what sounds harsh in your ears lead you to being dismissive yourself. You may actually end up proving your point. :-)

    Be that as it may, I encourage you to spend sometime engaging with Jeff Cagle’s arguments in no. 432-33. I think it will be profitable for all of us if you both interacted and see where it ended up.

    FWIW, I agree with Dr. Hart that the Mosaic Law capital punishment for rape law went away with the nation of Israel. I believe this primarily on the basis of the typological nature of the Mosaic Law, taught by Paul (in various places, especially Romans) and by the author of Hebrews. This is not something that can be summarized in a few sentences (at least because of my own intellectual weaknesses). However, some time spent studying the arguments for and against this hermeneutical principle have been most helpful to me.

    And (here is the interesting part) I wish I could vote for a man (women) who would enact capital punishment for some forms of rape (i.e., definitely stranger rape). I admit my appreciation for the justice of this civil is informed by OT considerations. At the same time, I don’t want the Church going anywhere near the politics of this issue.

    Tell you what, move to Alabama, get yourself elected into a position where you can do something about rape, and I will be more than happy to offer any biblically informed counsel I can. At the same time I will make sure the Minister’s work does not in any way merge into the Magistrate’s work. You do your’s and I’ll do mine.

    (Yes, we do have politically active folks in our congregation, even someone serving in our current governor’s administration. We are in the state capital, almost every church in town does).

  438. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 13, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Zrim, I’m a little surprised to see you making an argument from Scripture about what the magistrate mayn’t do. Residual evangelicalism? ;)

  439. Kurt said,

    February 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Hello Brothers,

    It would behoove us to put more stock in what the Westminster Divines said about the judicial law and its equity than what we say about that equity. In that spirit see:

    George Gillespie: http://www.naphtali.com/articles/george-gillespie/wholesome-severity/

    Samuel Rutherford: : http://reformedlayman.com/FreeDispHtml/ConvertedDisputation.htm

    for a secondary source about the Westminster Divines view of the judicial law see here: http://theonomyresources.flockalert.com/pdfs/WinzerJudicialExpiry.pdf

    Blessings,

    Kurt

  440. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Nice questions Jeff, let me read for a while before I respond.

  441. Paul said,

    February 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    ReedHere

    “Dr. Hart is simply challenging you, on what biblical basis do you maintain that capital punishment for rape still applies and is not to be treated the same as the restrictions on pork, only applicable to the OT nation of Israel?”

    Dr. Hart’s been given an argument that natural law declares death for the rapist, and so on what basis is it declared the death shouldn’t be the punishment? Invitation to Haavahd cocktail parties? The glad-handing of a modern-day Mencken?

    Furthermore, OT law didn’t allow murder and punished it by death. But Hart says that murder is wrong and that death is the penalty is known by natural law. So, OT law clearly contained at least one natural law and punishment. Thus it’s eminently plausible it contained more than one. Thus locating a law in the Mosaic law-code isn’t an automatic reason to think it doesn’t apply today.

    Two Kingdomers have told us they reject God’s law delivered to his OT covenant people. Okay, fine. But will they also be against natural law? Can’t be, they tell us they’re not antinomian and haters of God’s law.

    Natural Law is the big problem for two kingdoms. As Lee Irons has said, natural law may well give us a set of laws for society entirely congenial to what theonomists would want to see.

    Isn’t that an important question? Or is his question important even in light of the fact that we are explicitly told that the ceremonial law doesn’t apply anymore? We’re specifically and explicitly told we may eat pork, isn’t the refutation of Hart’s question a rather obvious one? Perhaps Dr. Hart knows of a verse where a sheet was hung up with 10 years in jail for rape and God tells a Jewish magistrate to punish rape with 10 years in the slam and the magistrate says, “Lord, I will no so punish in this unjust way,” and God says, “Do not call anything unjust that I have made just.” Can we get a verse like that?

    Questions with obvious refutations shouldn’t be called “serious.”

  442. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    Paul, no. 441: a little too much heat for the point I was making friend.

    In the context of the discussion Dr. Hart has asked for a biblical argument that refutes his contention that the Mosaic civil law punishments were abrogated in a manner similar to the biblical argument that says the ceremonial law has been abrogated. Doug did not hear that in Dr. Hart’s short question, and mistook it for silliness. I was merely expanding it a bit to demonstrate that Dr. Hart’s shorthand actually contained a question that was pertinent to the heart of a disagreement here. No need for contentiousness or snippiness.

    As to the rest of your comment, I see that you’re importing into my clarification for Doug a valid question you’ve posed to Zrim. Yes, of course that’s an important question. My clarification to Doug has absolutely nothing to do with it. I cannot imagine why you seem to take offense when I’ve not said anything to dismiss you or your conversation with Zrim. (Frankly, I wasn’t even talking to you.)

    As to obvious refutations, your reference to the sheet vision of Peter sounds like you are reflecting on the theonomic hermeneutic principle that states unless an OT law is particularly abrogated in the NT, it still applies. Is that what you’re trying to get at? At the very least I’d respond that what you say is obvious is not so obvious to others. Even for some of us to whom it is, obvious does not mean we agree that “refute” is actually what the obvious achieves.

    Regardless, I was offering Doug some background on why Dr. Hart said what he said. His question flows from a presupposition held by 2K. It is very appropriate for Doug to respond with a biblical argument based on his theonomic hermeneutic. The next step would then be for both sides to examine whose hermeneutic is most consistent with that expressed in the Bible.

    Contentiousness has no place in such a conversation. Maybe my words reminded you of an argument said by someone else, somewhere else. I ask you to consider if maybe you’re reading too much into what I said.

  443. Paul said,

    February 13, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Reed Here,

    I am confused by your response. I was not contentious, applying “heat,” or “offended,” and think there’s no warrant for you to claim such things. I used what I took to be an objective comment by you to offer an objective response. I only cared about the *propositions* not the *person*. Why do you take offense so easily?

    Regarding the sheet, I was not using any “theonomic hermeneutic,” I was replying that there is obviously a biblical basis for claiming that we don’t have any laws about refraining from eating pork. Given that we have explicit statements that the restrictions from eating pork are now lifted, how serious is Hart’s question? This is regardless of any hermeneutic. That is, regardless of any specific hermeneutic, it seems pretty obvious to me that anyone has a biblical basis to say laws concerning eating pork are done. The question seems like a poor one and I didn’t buy your justification of Hart’s asking it. I gave my reasons and was told that I was contentious, taking offense, and applying heat, as well as applying a theonomic hermeneutic.

    If you intended to teach me not to respond to public things you say in an open combox, you succeeded.

  444. todd said,

    February 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Doug,

    First, I really appreciate your willingess to accept my counsel on reading. I don’t know your station in life, but since it was my challenge I would like to buy the two books for you (“KP” and “Christianity and Liberalism”). You can email me your address and I will get them shipped to you.

    Not meaning to sound snarky either, but is it safe to assume that your not supplying a Machen quote on teaching God’s laws in the schools mean you may have spoken too soon on Machen and assumed some things before checking, or is the quote forthcoming?

    As to your questions:

    “Todd, you say that you read Bahnsen carefully, before you would dare debate a Theonomist; could you please briefly explain the crux of your biblical support for your decision?”

    As briefly as possible, Israel prefigured the new covenant church (Gal 6:16, Eph 3:6). The law of Moses was given to a people in a special and unique covenant with God. The civil law of Moses was for a kingdom of priests unlike any other nation. In the new covenant, the church is the kingdom of priests, the fulfillment of the law penalties are seen in two places in the New Testament: ex-communication (I Cor 5) and final judgment (Heb 2:1-4). Because God is an ethical God, certain basic ethics will be continuitive throughout all covenant epochs, but the civil law had a unique redemptive-historical purpose. The NT witness concerning nations is to honor and submit to human authorities whether just or unjust (I Peter 2:13-18). I realize there are exceptional circumstances, but this is the NT witness. The state in the NT is not a kingom of priests to God and not given the authority to enforce Christianity by penalty of law, unlike Israel, who was given such authority. In other words, religious persecution is not only wrong when the other guys do it to us, but it is wrong period, until God himself brings final judgment, pictured in Israel’s punishment for covenant-breaking sins. And the NT witness is that our posture and attutude toward unbelievers in the new covenant age is one of mercy (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”), forebearance (I Cor 5:12&13), and love for our enemies, and our only mandate in the NT is one of reaching them with the gospel and discipling them in Christ.

    “Did you read “No Other Standard” his rebuttal to his opponents?”

    yes

    “Do you believe Kline’s intrusion ethic?”

    Yes

    “Do you believe that Christ typologically changed the DP for rape, homosexuality, kidnapping and blasphemy?”

    It’s the worng question. Since it is illegitimate to make a direct correlation from Israel to any nation today, since the church is the fulfillmet of OT Israel, the Bible simply does not answer your question. It does not tell us which crimes non-theoctratic states must punish and how. Blasphemy is a religious crime against God, and since the modern state is not given the responsibility to execute God’s judgment in advance against all sinners, it would be wrong to persecute based on blasphemy alone. Since rape and kidnapping are crimes against fellow man regardless of religion, the state has a right to punish these, with death if it chooses, but remember even in the OT Law some types of rape were not punishable by death (“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father fifty skelels of silver, and she shall be his wife, and he may not put her away all of his days.”Deuteronomy 22; 28-29). There are reasons this made sense in ancient Israel, but not outside of that time and covenant.

  445. TurretinFan said,

    February 13, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Re this:

    In the context of the discussion Dr. Hart has asked for a biblical argument that refutes his contention that the Mosaic civil law punishments were abrogated in a manner similar to the biblical argument that says the ceremonial law has been abrogated.

    Shouldn’t the onus be on DGH to set forth a Biblical argument for his position, rather than on others to bring forth a Biblical argument against it? Doesn’t the advocate of ceremonial law abrogation (rather than confessional expiration) bear the burden of proof?

    -TurretinFan

  446. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    @Jeff, I understand the distinction between chapters 19. 3 and .4 as follows. Certain ceremonial laws such as animal sacrifices were abrogated as they were fulfilled and confirmed and completed in Christ at the cross. His once for all sacrifice was sufficient in that redemption had been accomplished. To knowingly sacrifice an animal after that reality would be an abomination and a sin… However “for Christian Jews” they still preformed “some of the ceremonial ordinances until the destruction of 70AD. Remember, Jewish Christians were still circumscing there boys, in Acts 15 with an Apostolic blessing, and we assume, they were baptizing there children as well. Paul preformed a ceremonial ritual shaving his head, in Acts 21. While it’s unimaginable that Paul would have partaken in animal sacrifice, the New Testament record doesn’t say the Christian Jews gave them all up. Not even Paul.

    This was an overlap of two ages. The old age, (The Jewish eon) had still not run her course, although she was obsolete, the author of Hebrews senses it was ready to vanish. The Kingdom of God would not fully vindicate until the fall of Jerusalem, in the eyes of God. The Church is now the New Israel. The Jewish Nation had become the enemy of God and all mankind according to Paul … When Christ came on the clouds and judged Apostate Israel; the Jewish Christians were projected into all the Nations. This being the equivalent to Israel’s invasion into the 7 Nations. So the New Testament record shows me, even among faithful Jewish Christians there were two different types of ceremonial laws. After 70AD all types of ceremonial laws were abrogated, as the Jewish Nation expired. That would explain the difference between three and four in chapter 19 IMHO.

  447. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    TFan: agree that such is fair to ask of the 2K proponent. However, that argument is one that has been made. Maybe not well in this series of threads, but it is one that Dr. Hart and others have made before. It is not archaic or unknown. I think you’re familiar with the typological based argument. Yes?

    Dr. Hart was responding to an affirmative argument from Doug, that the civil law still applies (I’m summarizing, not intending ignore any distinctions and/or nuances offered). After almost 2,000 comments, his simple question going back the other way seems reasonable to at least ask. As well, it is not that hard for a theonomically based summary response to be given.

    Again, I was only writing to help Doug see where Dr. Hart was not simply being dismissive toward him and his arguments. He actually asked a question that did interact on point with things Doug was saying. My intent was to help Doug appreciate that Dr. Hart was taking him seriously. My intention was not anything other.

  448. TurretinFan said,

    February 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Reed: you wrote:

    TFan: agree that such is fair to ask of the 2K proponent. However, that argument is one that has been made. Maybe not well in this series of threads, but it is one that Dr. Hart and others have made before. It is not archaic or unknown. I think you’re familiar with the typological based argument. Yes?

    I haven’t seen a compelling explanation. I think someone tried to make an argument along those lines one or two threads ago, and it got shot down pretty easily. I’ve surveyed a portion of the relevant literature, and I can’t find any argument from any of the advocates of the position that stands out as being “here’s our argument,” as opposed to being the same assertion phrased in various ways.

    I’m not sure how arguments become “archaic” (perhaps that was just a typo for arcane) but if the argument is known (whether simple or arcane), could you provide it to us?

    Perhaps I’ve already seen it in one of the earlier threads and addressed it — or perhaps I’ve managed to overlook it.

    Where is the Biblical argument for the idea that the civil law is not simply expired (as the Westminster Confession of 1646 — maintained in the revision — puts it) but actually abrogated (a position that Turretin explicitly distinguishes from his own position)?

    I don’t mind, Reed, if it is not your argument. In other words, I’m not trying to put you on the spot here. If DGH has made the argument somewhere and you can direct us to that, I would appreciate the chance to read the argument. Or if anyone else in the Escondido camp has — again, I’d be happy to read it, even if it is off-site.

    But – and here’s the warning/caveat – I will plan to respond to it, so please pick something that you think represents the best of what the abrogation (not mere expiration) position has to offer.

    -TurretinFan

  449. Zrim said,

    February 13, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    Paul (#436), my point has simply been that the Noahic covenant was made with all humanity. (It is different from the Mosaic covenant made specifically with Israel which included execution for other crimes.) And the only crime I see that creational covenant prescribing execution for is murder. I don’t know of any other creational covenant that prescribes execution for other crimes. So I am hesitant to speak where I don’t see Scripture speaking clearly on this.

    So, yes, it may be that “Romans 13 seems to support the idea that the State may punish with the DP for crimes other than murder and that this would be just for them to do.” But I think the point of Romans 13 has a lot less to do with settling the question about the DP than it does with believers submitting to their magistrates because he is God’s appointed vice-regent and to dis/obey him is to dis/obey God. Somewhere in these threads I have made the point about proximate justice being by definition an admixture of bad law and good law. It may be that the magistrate executes for crimes other than murder. But by the same token, the magistrate may also protect abortion (interestingly, Paul’s Roman state protected exposure and yet no “Sermons to a President”). I’m not convinced that either is good law outside theocratic Israel. But if the point about Romans 13 isn’t to settle questions about the DP or abortion but rather to submit to the legitimate authority and thus legitimate policies of the civil magistrate, then the speculation of your point seems rather moot. IOW, the point of something like Romans 13 might be that we are to live with what we think is bad law, and it might be that a superior form of obedience is to live with proximate justice rather than clamoring for what one thinks is a more exact one.

    I’m a little surprised to see you making an argument from Scripture about what the magistrate mayn’t do. Residual evangelicalism?

    Jeff, maybe one man’s residual evangelicalism is another’s Christian secularism? Remember, the latter don’t have qualms about drawing a line from Scripture to the magistrate (that’s the legal secularist). What he wants is brighter lines drawn designating the respective purposes and roles of the spheres, something the former wants to blur. And per my point to Paul, the Christian secularist can live easily with the magistrate disagreeing with his argument from Scripture about what he thinks the magistrate should or shouldn’t do, while the evangelical rebukes him in screechy sermons.

  450. Reed Here said,

    February 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Sorry TFan, not biting. My only purpose was to offer Doug a brief observation as to why Dr. Hart was not dismissive of him. I neither have the time nor the interest to “channel” Dr. Hart here.

    Look, this is silly. If you’ve already seen/dismantled to your satisfaction the argument as to why the civil law is abrogated according to the 2K position, I’m good with that. It really is not that important to me. I was only writing to help Doug see where Dr. Hart was coming from, and that he was not ignoring him, but making a point relevant to their interaction.

    All this effort to challenge me to take up the mantle is besides the point. Please don’t bother asking me about again. I’ll not be responding to any further comments from anyone else on what was a comment directed at Doug.

  451. Doug Sowers said,

    February 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    @Todd, Let me search for that quote: I typed it down off of Greg Bahnsen’s 20th lecture on Theonomy. Machen was Bahnsen’s hero of the faith. Greg said, “If you could play the game to go back in history, who would you want to meet, except for Jesus and the disciples? He said Calvin, and Cotton would be up there, but he thinks he would choose J Gresham Machen he had just that much admiration for the man.. The quotes from Machen were fast and furious, please give me a day or so, and I will source it for you, so you can check there validity. I’ve already quoted his exact quote about 1500 posts ago, some where in a sea of writing.

    God bless,

  452. curate said,

    February 14, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Let me tell you Americans what general revelation and natural law mean here in the UK. Natural justice says that feminism must be promoted and protected by law, and anyone who espouses male headship is a bigot.

    Natural justice says that a woman can and must hold every post and job that a man can, including husband, and to speak against that is to be an outcast, and branded a bigot.

    Natural law means that homosexual perversion be protected by the law, so that the Christian owners of a Bed and Breakfast are losing their house to legal fees after being successfully prosecuted for refusing to accept a couple of sodomites.

    Opposing these agendas means political suicide, so that not a SINGLE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT will speak against them.

    Dgh offered the laws of Philadelphia. I offer the laws of the UK.

  453. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Tfan, if the civil law is expired, does it have more life than if abrogated? Abrogation and expiration both seem pretty decisive.

  454. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 5:40 am

    Doug, I hope you read Bahnsen better than you read Machen. Here’s what Machen had to say about religion in public schools:

    “The moral influence of the public-school teacher should be exerted in practical rather than in theoretical ways. Certainly the (thoroughly destructive and immoral) grounding of morality in experience should be avoided. Unfortunately, the true grounding of morality in the will of God may, in our public schools, also have to be avoided. But if the teacher himself knows the absolute distinction between right and wrong, his personal influence, without theoretical grounding and without “morality codes,” will appeal to the distinction between right and wrong which is implanted in the soul of the child, and the moral tone of the school will be maintained. . . .

    “The public-school system should be kept healthy by the absolutely free possibility of the competition of private schools and Church schools, and the State should refrain from such regulation as to make their freedom illusory. . . .
    “The reading of selected passages from the Bible, in which Jews and Catholics and Protestants and others can presumably agree, should not be encouraged, and still less should be required by law. The real center of the Bible is redemption; and to create the impression that other things in the Bible contain any hope for humanity apart from that is to contradict the Bible at its root. . . .
    “Public-school children should be released at certain convenient hours during the week, so that the parents, if they choose, may provide for their religious instruction; but the State should entirely refrain both from granting school credit for work done in these hours and from exercising any control whatever either upon attendance or upon the character of the instruction.”

    Worldview alert: the moral influence in public schools according to Machen would have to be practical, not theoretical.

  455. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 5:43 am

    Curate, your legitimate lament of England’s current legal battles is as much a case for a return to the 1950s as it is for going all the way back to King David. After all, for much of England’s history the problems you note were not problems and England was not a theonomic kingdom. You don’t need a return to the OT to fix society’s ills.

  456. Zrim said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:28 am

    So you disagree with VanDrunen’s argument from this passage that in this passage we see the existence of natural law and it is a completely common passage having nothing to do with the unique laws of Israel or its unique status as theocratic kingdom? It certainly seems to me that the pagan king knew his action would have been wrong, knew it deserved death, and so he argued that he was innocent and had done nothing wrong. If you choose to part way, congrats, you just undermined the MAIN argument DVD used in his A Biblical Case for Natutural Law. It’s clear that you’re offering an ad hoc response to me and that you should think twice when the experts on your own side disagree with you.

    Paul, sorry, I missed this bit before.

    First, I can’t readily find my copy of ABCNL so I’ll have to go by memory. I agree with DVD that in this passage we see the existence of natural law and it is a completely common passage having nothing to do with the unique laws of Israel or its unique status as theocratic kingdom. I don’t agree with you that this passage makes the case for the DP for crimes other than murder. It seems to me that the larger point of the Genesis 20 argument is that the natural law is written into the human heart and thus human society has all it sufficiently needs in natural law, not to make the specific case for the DP for sexual infractions. Your reasoning here is as odd to me as your saying that Romans 13 makes the case for the DP for crimes other than murder when its plain meaning is that believers are to submit to civil magistrates. So I don’t think I’ve parted ways and undermined anything. Rather, I think you’ve tortured the larger argument and missed the point.

    Second, this seems to be a favored tactic of yours: pull something from leading 2k lights and show how I zig from their zagging, thus placing my views even off the radical reservation. One shows relative sympathy for culture war and I convey skepticism, and somehow this means 2k comes unraveled instead of the more reasonable conclusion that there are two 2kers having different views on the best way to go about earth (the point of 2k). Another says the Bible doesn’t speak of football but to football; I prefer to say it does neither but rather speaks to people who play football (and to be even more precise, to covenant people), and somehow 2k comes unraveled.

  457. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Reed: I’m sorry for appearing to bait you. It was really intended to be more of an offer to let you aid in informing the discussion.

    Zrim quoted this from Glomsrud:

    The civil laws are abrogated because the church, Israel, is made up of a people in exile without any socio-political expression in this phase of redemptive history. We do not, in other words, live in a period of intrusion ethics. We have no need, therefore, of ecclesiastical officials to govern the affairs of state and nation, nor do we need the sacrifices of goats and bulls to atone for our sins.

    This argument is flawed in a couple of ways. First, animal sacrifices were a type and shadow of Christ’s sacrifice. That is all they were. They did not actually take away or atone for sin. They have ceased, having been fulfilled in Christ. They were not an “intrusion,” however. Instead, they were the norm from Abel to Christ, and now we have a new norm.

    Likewise, there is no particular reason to view the civil laws as an intrusion, or to think that the general equity of those laws has ceased. The nation of Israel itself, of course, has been destroyed.

    DGH wrote: “Tfan, if the civil law is expired, does it have more life than if abrogated? Abrogation and expiration both seem pretty decisive.”

    It has something that the ceremonial law does not, something my spiritual forerunners referred to as “general equity.” Do you want to call that “more life”?

    -TurretinFan

  458. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thanks Dr Hart

    I am aware of the Machen quote, you just made above. But your the last person in the world, that needs to be lecturing anybody on miss quoting Machen. You started this thread by insinuating that Machen was your type of 2K. When in reality your view was repugnant to Machen. Machen wouldnt be on your side of the 2K issue, that’s for sure!

  459. Reed Here said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:41 am

    TFan: no, didn’t feel baited. I understood your’s was an offer to interact on the topic. I was seeking to explain why I’m not biting on the offer (not the bait). I just don’t have time for serious interaction right now. (Seriously behind on local priorities, and sick to boot.)

    No offense taken. None intended.

  460. Zrim said,

    February 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Doug, what seems always absent your comments is any cognizance of the reality of human sin. You seem to speak as if all we need is either more Christian influence or more Bible in order to keep the sky from falling. But last I checked Christians were still sinners (as in Simul justus et peccator) and the Bible still doesn’t circumvent that reality. And as much as I’d like to think more of me would make the world a better place, I can’t shake the sense that I’m actually more a part of the problem than any solution.

    So you and Curate can point to as many examples of the big, bad world as you want and suggesting more Christians and Bible will cure things. I’ll keep pointing to sinners and saying as long as they make up the world no amount of general or special revelation will keep bad things from happening. That’s the way it’s been since Eden.

    And, just to be clear, I understand the rhetorical intent of saying one wants to “legalize sodomy.” It’s designed to suggest one is not morally opposed to that which is immoral. But my point has been to make a distinction between the moral and the political and the political with the religious. Your comment reflects the premise that the morality of a thing is unequivocally tied up in its legality, a premise you and your legislative opponents seem to share. I simply reject that premise.

  461. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

    @Todd, I was listening to Bahnsen’s lecture on Meredith Kline’s intrusion ethic. And Bahnsen pointed out, “If Kline was to be consistent with his premise, then he should say sexual sins can no longer receives the DP today”. You were right Todd! Kline did leave the death penalty for sexual sins up to the Magistrate. But was Kline consistent? Of course not. Now brother Zrim comes along in 2011 and applies the intrusion ethic in a consistent manner. Say what you want about Zrim; at least he’s being consistent with the intrusion ethic! Zrim says, the Magistrate may not *morally* execute a rapist or a sodomites today. The irony is, Bahnsen caught this inconsistency in Kline, in 1980! Zrim is merely applying Kline’s intrusion ethic consistently, albeit against the Law of God.

  462. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Zrim, I, like you am aware that this world is a sinful place. And even when or if, we establish perfect laws, there will always still be sin. Not all sins should receive the same punishment, amen? My premise is that only God knows what a just punishment for any given crime is. God doesn’t have a double standard of justice, one for Israel, and one for the other Nations. The General equity of God’s law, should apply today. That doesn’t imply that we just plop the Mosaic Law on our books in America. Yes, there are some important changes, and thorny issues. Should we execute a heretic? Moreover, how do we define a heretic? If that were the law of the land, written in ambiguous language like that, someone might have to execute the both of us! In one sense, we all have some heretical ideas floating around our darkened minds. So I agree with Cartwright and Kuper! I really don’t see them at odds *necessarily*. I think Cartwright’s idea of the DP for a contemptuous blasphemer, would find Kuper agreeing with him wholeheartedly. If we have someone in public screaming out, “May Jesus Christ be damned”! It’s time to pull the plug on that kind of person and let him swing from the gallows. And if faced with that issue, I think Kuper would tighten up his argument, and concur with Thomas Cartwright. On the other hand, even Israel never executed people for unbelief, which is a form of idolatry. Israel was to execute people for attempting to subvert the one true relgion.This law can be scary thing in the wrong hands. So I see Kuper’s concern, if abused, and we started lopping off the heads of everyone we disagree with. I don’t believe we should execute someone for being wrong on a doctrinal point, like baptism. Even though I feel it’s an important issue, I don’t see that as a Capital offense. You quote Kuper, but did you know he was for the DP for rape and homosexuality and kidnapping? Kuper would not be on your friend in this debate.

  463. curate said,

    February 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    dgh: Curate, your legitimate lament of England’s current legal battles is as much a case for a return to the 1950s as it is for going all the way back to King David. After all, for much of England’s history the problems you note were not problems and England was not a theonomic kingdom. You don’t need a return to the OT to fix society’s ills.

    Why do you think that I want to return to the OT? Or the fifties? Are you deliberately twisting my words? Isn’t that a violation of one of the two or three commandments out of ten that you believe still apply?

    The law of God is eternal and always applicable, regardless of the age we live in. Indeed, it applied prior to King David, as you put it, and it applies after the resurrection, and it will be perfectly obeyed in the age to come, until the ages of ages. If you wish to be in the kingdom you had better get used to liking, and living by, the Law.

    And you are missing my point. The point was that modern ideas of natural justice, the ideas that are now passed into European law, fly in the face of the Ten Commandments. That makes nonsense of your claim that we are all under God’s law via natural justice, or general revelation.

    What is more, Christians are being targeted by these laws. Wake up.

  464. Zrim said,

    February 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    One problem I see, Doug, is how this all works out in your mind to say that withholding baptism from covenant children doesn’t earn the spiritual equivalent of execution, which is to say excommunication. You want magistrates to punish-execute blasphemers and homosexuals but not elders to discipline-excommunicate credo-baptism (or its mirror error, paedocommunion). But 2k says that the moral, doctrinal and sacramental sins of her people are all to be disciplined by the church. Yes, some sins are also crimes, in which case the magistrate punishes them, sometimes executing (murder) and other times in another way (kidnapping and rape).

    To my mind, when you say “I don’t believe we should execute someone for being wrong on a doctrinal point, like baptism,” it seems arbitrary and not a little breathtaking. Theonomists appeal to Geneva, but Calvin’s Geneva wouldn’t have tolerated Anabaptism. And how does your latitudinarian view endure the narrow and intolerant Belgic Confession Article 34 which “detests the error of the Anabaptists who are not content with a single baptism once received and also condemn the baptism of the children of believers. We believe our children ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as little children were circumcised in Israel on the basis of the same promises made to our children.” And what about eucharistic sacramentology? Are you saying Reformed churches should tolerate transubstantiation? How so, when the Heidelberg Catechism 80 condemns the popish Mass? So what other doctrinal matters are negligible for you? The Trinity, the doctrines of sin and grace, justification? Probably not. But baptism is the second mark of the true church. Why is that one so negligible to you when the church uses sacramental theology to distinguish true churches from less-than-true? So here is where theonomy actually seems to work quite against the militant mission of the church in its misguided quest to make sure the magistrate has his socks pulled up. You’ve got sexual deviancies being civilly punished and sacramental errors ecclesiastically protected.

  465. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    It probably doesn’t matter to the discussion, but I wonder if anyone gets excommunicated for adultery or murder in the Reformed churches. I’ve never ever heard of it.

  466. Zrim said,

    February 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    (Tfan, I’ve personally witnessed fornication getting overlooked in neo-calvinist Reformed churches while similtaneously passing around finger-waging petitions to close down a local strip joint. And I am aware of credo-baptists having “associate memberships” in local Reformed churches. I understand neither, but something about minding one’s own house seems fitting.)

  467. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Tfan, maybe for unrepentant adultrey, since it’s no longer illegal in America to cheat on your wife. I’ve heard of situations where a Deacon took off with another mans wife. So if it’s not illegal, then the Church must discipline. For murder your right, since most murderers are prosecuted by the Magistrate, making it superfluous for the Church. We see Paul having to discipline the man who took his Father’s wife, just because he hadnt broken any Roman law. When the Government’s laws confrom to God’s law, many problem’s work themselves out.

  468. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Zrim:

    Some points of clarification/minor contention:

    a) “Tfan, maybe for unrepentant adultrey, since it’s no longer illegal in America to cheat on your wife.”

    Depends what part of America you are in. It’s still illegal some places, though I don’t think there is a death penalty for it anywhere in the U.S. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal for all U.S. military personnel, everywhere in the world, even to this day.

    b) “I’ve heard of situations where a Deacon took off with another mans wife. So if it’s not illegal, then the Church must discipline. For murder your right, since most murderers are prosecuted by the Magistrate, making it superfluous for the Church.”

    I’m not sure how it is superfluous for the church to exercise discipline in that case.

    c) “We see Paul having to discipline the man who took his Father’s wife, just because he hadnt broken any Roman law. When the Government’s laws confrom to God’s law, many problem’s work themselves out.”

    I believe there was Roman law against incest, so I think you may be mistaken about that.

    -TurretinFan

  469. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Ack: I wrote “Zrim” but I was respond to Doug.

  470. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Zrim:

    I’m aware of credobaptists being members in good standing in Reformed churches – and not just Reformed baptist churches, either. They can’t be church officers, but one doesn’t have to have a correct understanding of the sacraments to be saved.

    -TurretinFan

  471. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Tfan, if a man is continuing to live in an adultrous afair, your most cetainly right. However, if the man wants to remain with his wife, and has repented, then it’s a different situation, amen? (I’ve seen and wittnessed this situaton)

    Even more so with murder, I would think and hope, when most people are caught, they are very repentant. If they say, “I”m glad I killed him”, then once again, church discipline would be the result until the execution of sentence.

    At least that’s how I “think” I see it at.

  472. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Zrim says: Theonomists appeal to Geneva, but Calvin’s Geneva wouldn’t have tolerated Anabaptism.

    Zrim, please try to get this through your head; I don’t want to go back in time. What I think is prudent, is to look at the attempts great men of God have made, in attempting to apply God’s Word, and with wisdom make wise improvements. Curate, said it best; God’s standards of justice found in the Law are eternal! Amen, and amen!

  473. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    @Zrim, In Douglas Wilson’s church, they have both pedo and credo baptist men. While Wilson couldn’t in good conscience re-baptize an individual who has just come to a saving knowledge of Christ, he knows men who would be willing, without violating they’re conscience.

    Me thinks you’ve taken church discipline and confused it with punishment; as in the death penalty. That is just a category mistake, that your going to have to re-think. IMHO. Since Israel had both church discipline and the death penalty, you can’t have it both ways. That of course is only IF, you want to be logical and consistent.

    Please understand, no one I know, is saying that Geneva is our model. While there is much we can learn from other societies, mistakes as well as triumphs, our goal is to honor God, in everything we do, even the way we form our laws. And of course every Nation should be found it’s laws on the one majestic Law of God, that binds all men and Nations. (Machen) So please don’t pit the “perceived” mistakes Geneva “may” have made, and say that is what I want. Because as I’ve said time and again, “I’m not sure how we are to apply all of God’s Law today, but I strongly believe the Law is good!

    Hey wait, didn’t Paul say that as well? Oh yea, “We know the Law is good, if we use it Lawfully”. Can’t I get an amen out of you on that?

  474. David Gadbois said,

    February 14, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Doug, I’m having to delete way too many of your posts in this thread. Aside from the fact that you aren’t going to win any converts to your position with your rhetoric, it is cluttering up this fast-filling combox thread. If I get too many more posts from you that I have to delete then I’m going to suspend your posting.

    Notice that most of your posts remain. 8 or so were deleted over the past few days.

  475. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    David Gadbois, perhaps you can give me an example of what you find offensive, or unresponsive, so I will have a better idea of what your talking about. I noticed when Ron thought Dr Hart was unresponsive he was deemed, in the right. All I’m asking for, is an example of what you think is out of bounds. Feel free to email me in my private email.

    Thanks in advance

  476. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    @Jeff, while it may have got lost, through the maze of posts, it has been pointed out, “although I’m not sure by who”, that Calvin himself went through a sea change in his understanding of the Law of God, later in life. If you read his commentary on Deuteronomy he is as Theonomic as Greg Bahnsen. He completely re-thought and contradicted many things he said in “Institutes of the Christian Religion”. I think this needs to be acknowledged by all of us. Simply put; Calvin became Theonomic.

  477. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Tfan, okay, Israel is expired. The general equity is a civil magistrate. If that’s all you mean, then why so attached to 1646 or Calvin?

  478. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Curate, the reason I think you want to return to Israel is because you have high fived Doug Sowers so many times while he is defending the execution of adulterers.

  479. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Doug, now you tell us you don’t want to go back in time. You might have spared us many hundreds of comments if we knew all along that this was all semantics. You favor God’s law as revealed in the OT, but not so much to identify with OT Israel or Geneva. Wow!

    BTW, if you think Machen would have agreed with you, you must have a prescription for medical marijuana.

  480. dgh said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Tfan, I serve on a session where we have had two excommunications for adultery. Thankfully, one of those persons repented and has been restored to fellowship. I don’t know your identity, but if you were going to an OPC, PCA, or Reformed Baptist congregation you would have “ever” heard of such discipline.

  481. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Wrong as per usual Dr Hart: Machen believed with every fiber of his being; that all Nations must be founded on the Law of God; if they are to last. And ALL Nations should punish crime by….?? “You guessed it” the Law of God! He would find your general revelation theory repugnant, as do I. You see dgh, God isn’t fickle, and he hasn’t changed his mind, nor does he does he have one Standard of justice and morality for Israel, and another Standard for the rest of the Nations. To make that assertion is not only incoherent, it’s a conceptual contradiction. You’re the man who writes like you’re *stoned*.

  482. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    DGH; Please let me make this perfectly clear; I believe that we should follow all of God’s commandments until we hear revelation from God himself telling us that he has either set them aside, or modified them, period. We must *presume* continuity with Old Testament commandments until God himself says otherwise. When God speaks in his Word, he speaks with authority, and who are you, to say his words are no longer binding? I have yet to hear a cogent (Biblical) argument proving that homosexuality, or rape, is no longer a death penalty offense. And until you can show me “in God’s Word”, I will not be moved.

  483. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 14, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Doug, you know that I’m not entirely with DGH on his conception of general revelation. But I think you ought to be careful about trying to bop him over the head with his differences with Machen on 2k theology.

    For if I remember correctly, DGH was Machen’s student and (again, if memory serves) learned 2k directly from Machen himself.

    Which doesn’t mean that he’s entirely 100% like his professor … but he does at least have a comprehensive grasp of Machen’s theology.

    Jes’ sayin’.

  484. Zrim said,

    February 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I’m aware of credobaptists being members in good standing in Reformed churches – and not just Reformed baptist churches, either. They can’t be church officers, but one doesn’t have to have a correct understanding of the sacraments to be saved.

    Tfan, my understanding is that “associate membership” is synonymous with “non-communicant membership,” which means credo’s, apparently, may come over but not eat. That doesn’t sound exactly confident to me. If the analogy is familial, I’m not sure what the point is of creating a limbo-like category that says one is a part of the family but not really (do biological families do this?).

    And my own sympathies lie with an older, Continental understanding of membership that doesn’t split laity and officers the way you seem to suggest. AS RSC explains:

    The argument has been made that, in American Presbyterian churches, the tradition has been, since the 19th century, that it is not necessary for lay members to affirm the confessional standards as a condition of membership. The slogan has sometimes been used, “the doors of the church should be as wide open as the doors of the kingdom.” I doubt the wisdom of this approach.

    The original British (i.e., English, Scots, Irish, and Welsh) Presbyterian approach to lay membership was no different than that of the Reformed churches on the continent. I doubt that the Old Side churches in the New World practiced two levels of membership (but I am not certain about this). I suspect that the notion that there are two levels of membership, confessional and non-confessional is of relatively recent vintage.

    Whatever the historical facts as matter of theology, piety, and practice, I’m a little surprised at how blithely some American Presbyterian (and now some URC) folk accept the notion of two classes of church members: those who confess the Reformed faith and those who do not. I am thankful that, in my experience at least, few NAPARC congregations actually practice two levels of membership, that it remains more theoretical than actual. In practice, it seems to me that where the elders and ministers are committed to being confessional there is at least an unstated assumption that members will also confess the Reformed faith. Where the elders and ministers (or TEs and REs) aren’t much concerned about being confessional then the congregation also tends to have a certain unfortunate uniformity.

    So, if one cannot become an officer I don’t know why he’s teased with membership. And, to be honest, the two level model just smacks of latitudinarianism (see, more relevance to the original thread).

    Me thinks you’ve taken church discipline and confused it with punishment; as in the death penalty. That is just a category mistake, that your going to have to re-think. IMHO. Since Israel had both church discipline and the death penalty, you can’t have it both ways.

    Doug, yes, I know we can’t have both church discipline and magisterial punishment. That’s my point. It’s because the temporal theocratic Israel has expired and given way to the exilic church until the final and eternal theocratic era comes. It’s never coming back (ok, forget Geneva, but if you don’t want to go back in time then why do you keep looking to temporal theocratic Israel for a model?). That’s why it’s all church discipline now.

  485. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Dear DGH:

    You wrote:

    Tfan, I serve on a session where we have had two excommunications for adultery. Thankfully, one of those persons repented and has been restored to fellowship. I don’t know your identity, but if you were going to an OPC, PCA, or Reformed Baptist congregation you would have “ever” heard of such discipline.

    It’s not good that such discipline was necessary, or that the sin occurred, but I am glad to hear that your session practices such discipline. I’ve heard of sessions who simply erased such people, or who excommunicated them instead for contumacy.

    Let me take something a step further. Imagine one of those scenarios. Imagine, however, that the sin came to your attention because one of the parties came before you as his own accuser, expressed contrition for his sin, and showed evidence of repentance of it. Surely, in that case, you would not excommunicate the person.

    Agreed?

    -TurretinFan

  486. TurretinFan said,

    February 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Jeff:

    I’m not sure that DGH is a clone of Machen, by any means.

    Take this example, that I posted some time ago:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-would-machen-say-to-darryl-hart.html

    Sometimes the acorn falls nearer and sometimes farther from the tree.

    -TurretinFan

  487. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks Jeff, as usual, you’re the voice of reason. I didn’t realize dgh was so old, since Machen died in 1937. For some reason, I thought dgh was a youngster. Ooops! I guess I need to cut the old geezer some slack, eh? That means Dr Hart over ninety years old! Please forgive my impertinence Dr Hart!

  488. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Jeff, did you see my distinction between WCF chapter 19: point 3 and 4? I’m hoping it made some sense, no?

  489. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Dr Hart says: Doug, now you tell us you don’t want to go back in time. You might have spared us many hundreds of comments if we knew all along that this was all semantics. You favor God’s law as revealed in the OT, but not so much to identify with OT Israel or Geneva. Wow!

    No Dr Hart, I don’t believe in time travel. And I don’t yearn for going back to Israel. My point is that God’s Law is the foundation for justice and morality. Ethics by there very nature can not change. For something to be moral means it must be universal. So while I wouldn’t care to go back in time, I will say that all of our current laws should, and must, be founded on the Rock of God’s Word, if they wish to remain. In fact, that’s exactly what J. Gresham Machen believed as well. Morality and justice are coterminous. You can’t have unjust morality, nor can you have immoral justice. Therefore, if you’re a wise builder, you must build your life, family, city, state, and nation on God’s Word, which imbodies Christ Jesus our Lord. End of story!

  490. Doug Sowers said,

    February 14, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Zrim says:

    Oh, heavens no Zrim! We could never do that; after all the Supreme Court has more authority than God’s Law, right? Once the Supreme Court said abortion is legal tender, who is God to protest, right? Doesn’t the Supreme Court have the final say in 2K? They were judging by *sufficeint* general revelation, right?

  491. curate said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

    dgh: I know that your mind is made up, and that nothing will move you. I have no expectation of doing that.

    I do, however, point out to you that one of the privileges of the saints is to sit on Christ’s seat on judgement with him when he judges the living and the dead. How much mercy do you think will be shown to the wicked on that Great Day? How will you be able to agree with the righteous judgements of God and his Christ? I can’t see you doing it.

    Your posts have made me believe that you fundamentally disagree with God on what constitutes a suitable punishment for grievous sin.

  492. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 6:56 am

    Zrim:

    I’ve seen them have full communicant memberships. You don’t have to agree with everything in the Westminster Confession (any revision) to be a member of a Reformed church.

    -TurretinFan

  493. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 15, 2011 at 7:12 am

    Doug (#487): I didn’t realize dgh was so old, since Machen died in 1937.

    Ah, well, my memory may be at fault. Neurons are subject to frustration, too.

  494. Zrim said,

    February 15, 2011 at 7:13 am

    Doug (#490), I’m guessing that you’re responding to a previous suggestion that if the Bible norms the magistrate (in addition to the church) then the magistrate should come under discipline for violating the Bible. I understand you have your tongue plunged well within your cheek, so it’ a little hard to understand you. Maybe if you dislodged it a tad you could hazzard a serious answer about the clear implication of the idea that the Bible norms the magistrate.

    Tfan, just curious further: if “one doesn’t have to have a correct understanding of the sacraments to be saved,” then would we require one to repent of his transubstantiation before obtaining church membership? But I’m trying to understand how Belgic 34 and Heidelberg 80 comprt with this whole idea that sacramentology is more or less negeligible, as in condemn sacramental errors but allow those who hold them membership?

  495. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 7:20 am

    DGH wrote: “Tfan, okay, Israel is expired. The general equity is a civil magistrate. If that’s all you mean, then why so attached to 1646 or Calvin?”

    The correct statement of doctrine is not “the general equity is a civil magistrate,” but rather “the general equity binds the civil magistrate.” I’m not sure whether that was a typo on your part, or not. If you agree with the correct statement of doctrine, then we are closer in our views than some of your comments have seemed to suggest.

    -TurretinFan

  496. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 7:26 am

    Zrim:

    You wrote:

    fan, just curious further: if “one doesn’t have to have a correct understanding of the sacraments to be saved,” then would we require one to repent of his transubstantiation before obtaining church membership?

    We would expect people to repent of worshiping the host – and it is hard to imagine someone who held to transubstantiation without engaging in that idolatry. But just as we do not require a perfect understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship (and yet would require those who worship statues and icons to repent), so we also don’t require a perfect understanding of the sacraments.

    You wrote:

    But I’m trying to understand how Belgic 34 and Heidelberg 80 comprt with this whole idea that sacramentology is more or less negeligible, as in condemn sacramental errors but allow those who hold them membership?

    I don’t think it comports very well at all.

    -TurretinFan

  497. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 15, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Doug, I did notice your distinction between 19.3 and 19.4. I’m trying to hold back from jumping into the fray at this time, but I will continue to read your responses to my various questions.

  498. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Thanks Jeff, and yes, I still need to tighten up my arguments as you have suggested; I havent forgotten you questions, please give me some time.

    God bless

  499. GAS said,

    February 15, 2011 at 9:59 am

    until we hear revelation from God himself telling us that he has either set them aside, or modified them

    Doug, here’s some revelation that I think you’re missing. Be ready….

    Christ is the end of the law

    Now if you heard a high pitch squealing in your ears when you read that it could mean that you have a legalist inside you or Doug Wilson is standing behind you.

    Meditate on that.

  500. Truth Unites... and Divides said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:03 am

    There’s been a lot of discussion on this thread about the Death Penalty, about General Revelation or Natural Law or Natural Theology. Anyways, I saw the following comment in a blog I peruse and I thought it was interesting enough to share here:

    Here is a piece written in 1918 by a Menshevik leader Martov who was scandalized by the Bolshevik dishonesty – these cold-blooded hypocrites had loudly opposed death penalty before their own takeover:

    http://www.marxists.org/archive/martov/1918/07/death-penalty.htm

    “The International Socialist Congress in Copenhagen in 1910 resolved to fight against the barbarous death penalty in all countries.

    International socialism recognised that socialists should never, under any circumstances, reconcile themselves to that cold-blooded murder of unarmed people on state orders, known as the death penalty.

    This resolution, comrades, was signed by all the current leaders of the Bolshevik party: Lenin, Zinoviev, Trotsky, Kamenev, Radek, Lunacharsky. I saw them there, in Copenhagen, raising their hands in favour of a resolution declaring war on the death penalty.

    Later, in July last year, I saw them in Petrograd protesting against the application of the death penalty, even in wartime, even against traitors.

    I see them now using the death penalty right and left, against bourgeois and workers, against peasants and officers. I see them demanding that their underlings do not stop to count the victims, but that they should use the death poenalty as widely as possible against the opponents of Bolshevik power.”

  501. Zrim said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:06 am

    But just as we do not require a perfect understanding of the Regulative Principle of Worship (and yet would require those who worship statues and icons to repent), so we also don’t require a perfect understanding of the sacraments.

    Tfan, I’m not arguing for “perfect understanding.” I’m arguing for right practice. It’s true enough in theory that right practice follows right understanding. But I think the confessions call for something less than “perfect understanding” (who could ever have that?) but more precise than latitude on sacramental confession. And right practice seems to me to entail right confession. I for one confessed and practiced a paedobaptism that I didn’t quite understand when I took membership vows, so it isn’t clear to me why the same couldn’t be demanded from others. I mean, isn’t confessing and practicing what isn’t “perfectly understood” what most believers do anyway?

    If, as you say, BC 34 and HC 80 don’t comport with a sacramental latitudinarianism then why maintain the two level view of membership where some must confess along with the standards (extraordinary-officers) but others get to fudge (ordinary-laity)?

  502. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

    @GAS: I believe your’re reading that verse wrong (edited). Christ is the aim of the Law, not the terminus. Jesus confirmed what the types and shadows could only dimly point too. He upheld the promise! Christ is the Chief Cornerstone; the Rock of stumbling, Christ is the Temple. Christ is the scape goat offering, he is our Great High Priest, he is our year of jubilee, he is our Passover, and he is the Pascal lamb, He is the second Adam, the first fruit offering. He is our all in all! And to the Nations, he is the King of Kings!

    To read the verse as the terminus of the Law, is incoherent, and contradictory, because Jesus did not abrogate the Law, he upheld it!! Jesus himself said, “Don’t even begin to think I have come to abrogate the Law! Christ confirmed it! And now thanks to his substitutionary work at the cross, he has once and for all atoned for the sins of the world. He did not terminate the ceremonial law, he upheld and confirmed it. When he cried out, “it is finished” he was referring to the atonement being complete, meaning it is fulfilled, not abrogated.

    Jesus told us we are to live by every word from the mouth of God. He said, “Don’t you know scripture can’t be broken?” That all of Holy Scripture is God breathed, well for correction, instruction, and reproof, so we would be ready for every good work. (Even for building a Nation?) Yes! A thousand times yes! It’s comprehensive! Jesus also said, “If you love me, then keep my commandments”. Every one of his good commandments can not be broken until heaven and earth pass away!

  503. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    @GAS: Moreover, Jesus said “if you love me, then keep my commandments”. How does that jibe, with your understanding that Christ, “ended” the Law? Especially since Jesus; until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or tittel will pass away from the Law.

    I hope can see that Jesus did not *END*, as in *TERMINATE* the Law. He upheld, and confirmed the Law, amen?

  504. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Doug: no disrespect brother, but your comments on the law show a serious deficiency in terms of the various ways the NT speaks of the law. Might I suggest another worthwhile read?

    Pick up a copy of Edward Fisher’s Marrow of Modern Divinity. The recent edition from publisher Christian Heritage includes Scottish Worthy Thomas Boston’s extensive commentary notes. A thorough reading and biblical reflection can only help your theonomic apologetic.

  505. curate said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Reed, I am afraid that it is you who are not entirely correct on this point, not Doug. Christ is the end of the law of Moses, which has been abolished, but no the end of the Ten Words.

    IOW the law is abolished, but at the same time the law is eternal. Depends on the reference.

  506. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Roger: you’ve read too much into my criticism. Doug’s comment is relatively flat and does not even appear to appreciate the nuance you offer, let alone any his opponent might offer.

    I completely agree with you “reference” observation, and that is the reason for my recommendation to Doug. The Marrow of Modern Divinity does an exceptional job of identifying, categorizing and then relating the various biblical references to “law”. What’s the harm in advising a work that might actually increase understanding between brothers?

  507. Reed Here said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    NOTE: for any interested in a related but different thread in the 2K position, I’ve put up another post: 2K, 2nd Table Only, Biblically Based Inference

  508. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Zrim wrote: “Tfan, I’m not arguing for “perfect understanding.” I’m arguing for right practice.”

    Understood. However, until it comes time for the credobaptists to baptize their children, their practice is the same as ours.

    Zrim wrote: “It’s true enough in theory that right practice follows right understanding.”

    Agreed.

    Zrim wrote: “But I think the confessions call for something less than “perfect understanding” (who could ever have that?) but more precise than latitude on sacramental confession.”

    They confessions don’t require full agreement with the confession on the sacraments (for members).

    Zrim wrote: “And right practice seems to me to entail right confession.”

    I don’t agree.

    Zrim wrote: “I for one confessed and practiced a paedobaptism that I didn’t quite understand when I took membership vows, so it isn’t clear to me why the same couldn’t be demanded from others.”

    We should be careful to make something more than the gospel a barrier to church membership.

    Zrim wrote: “I mean, isn’t confessing and practicing what isn’t “perfectly understood” what most believers do anyway?”

    sure

    You wrote: “If, as you say, BC 34 and HC 80 don’t comport with a sacramental latitudinarianism then why maintain the two level view of membership where some must confess along with the standards (extraordinary-officers) but others get to fudge (ordinary-laity)?”

    There is a reason for requiring a greater degree of orthodoxy for teachers than for non-teachers. I’d be happy to explain that.

    I don’t see how a 3FU church could legitimately accept credobaptists as members, however.

    -TurretinFan

  509. dgh said,

    February 15, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Curate, I get the impression from you that you think what Christianity brings to the table is law and righteousness. In point of fact, most of the gay lobby and various left and right wing causes are all about justice and fairness. What seems to distinguish Christianity for me from all other perspectives in our times is forgiveness of sins in the death and resurrection of Christ. How that plays out in public life is open to interpretation. But your righteous disposition is but little removed from any other number of causes (which of course is indicative of the law written on the human conscience).

  510. dgh said,

    February 15, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Doug, so your hermeneutic appears to be that of the Judaizers — the OT is in force unless the Bible says differently? This logic would prompt many to think that circumcision and the sabbaths were still in place. It helps your case that Paul rejects your logic and so gives you grounds for not requiring circumcision or the OT liturgical calendar. But surely our creeds and confessions are filled with lots of inferences that take this abrogation and expiration of Israel’s laws and polity as the starting point for Christian life. Or do you need Doug Wilson to give you the green light to turn on your oven on the Lord’s Day?

  511. dgh said,

    February 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Tfan, the general equity of Israel’s government is government.

    As far as the further examples you raise about adulterers and discipline, that wasn’t the question I answered. If you mean that restitution is in view in discipline, of course. And if persons don’t repent the outcome is spiritual execution. It was hard for adulterers in the OT to repent after execution, but that is a further indication of the graciousness of the covenant of grace after the coming of Christ.

  512. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    DGH:

    You wrote: “Tfan, the general equity of Israel’s government is government.”

    “Government” does not fit within the category of “equity.” Instead equity describes how a government should operate. Do you see the difference?

    “It was hard for adulterers in the OT to repent after execution, but that is a further indication of the graciousness of the covenant of grace after the coming of Christ.”

    Harder? It was impossible. But, more accurately, excommunication isn’t execution.

    -TurretinFan

  513. TurretinFan said,

    February 15, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    DGH wrote:

    Doug, so your hermeneutic appears to be that of the Judaizers — the OT is in force unless the Bible says differently? This logic would prompt many to think that circumcision and the sabbaths were still in place.

    The apostles, elders, and brethren at Jerusalem, however, did not deny the hermeneutic. Instead, they seemingly embraced it and nevertheless discovered Biblical grounds for the end of the ceremonial law.

    -TurretinFan

  514. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Dr Hart says: You favor God’s law as revealed in the OT, but not so much to identify with OT Israel or Geneva. Wow! >

    Wrong again Darryl, I’m identifying with Christ, not Israel. God’s law has not changed, *in its essence*. Sure there have been magnificent changes in the scaffolding, as it were”, true, we no longer follow the outward form of the Mosaic economy. Israel received her big promotion in one new body in place of the two, made in Christ’s own flesh. Now instead of one unique Nation unto God, Christ has put a claim on every Nation! Christ has commanded all men, and all Nations to bend the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord!

    Now all Nations are called to become Theocracies, with a far greater expression of holiness and righteousness, and obedience, than Israel was able to achieve! Now, with the Holy Spirit poured out upon all flesh; just in the places where Older Israel failed, the New Israel will succeed. King Jesus proclaimed that he has, “all authority in heaven and earth” let that soak in; and for that reason, and we are to make disciples of every Nation baptizing them in the Triune name of God, instructing every Nation in all of God’s commandments. Jesus then lovingly said, “I’ll be with you to the end”.

    Brothers, the sooner we start believing in the fulfilling of the Great Commission, the sooner Christ’s kingdom will manifest itself in greater and greater power, because God rewards those who seek him. Faith was always the key to every victory Israel ever fought. As long as we have *doubting Thomas’s*, who say that is preposterous; wrong era, and continue to listen to there’re bad report, the longer it will take to complete the mission. Much like when Israel listened to the ten witness’s evil report. Dr Hart is singing the same, pessimistic song, saying “It’ll never happen until the second coming, boo hoo. Well, as long as we listen to Dr Hart that will be true!

    We must be a people who trust in what God says is true, not what our natural eyes see. We must walk by faith, not by sight. It seems to me, the problem with Dr Hart; is he looks around with his natural eyes, and can’t conceive how Christ will conquer every Nation during the Kingdom of God, or the Church age. He can’t conceive how America, let alone every other Nation on earth, will one day confess Christ Jesus is Lord. During the Church age! So he puts it off this reality, until the resurrection taking away the Churches responsibility. Sadly, that day will not come, until Christ’s church repents and removes the idols out of her life, and starts trusting Christ. Only then, we will overcome the world! Brothers, we must contend for the things, God has told us to accomplish, by grace alone, through faith alone. When we quit listening to the *faithless naysayers*, like Dr Hart, Zrim and there ilk, and start looking to Christ; our “collective” faith will move mountains. Because King Jesus will be fighting for us. IMHO

  515. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for the adivce Reed, I’ll try to pick that book up :-)

  516. Zrim said,

    February 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    “Tfan, I’m not arguing for “perfect understanding.” I’m arguing for right practice.”

    Understood. However, until it comes time for the credobaptists to baptize their children, their practice is the same as ours.

    First, I know you disagree with the premise, but if right practice entails right confession then what they are “doing” up until that time is actually just as much in opposition as when the time for practice comes. Second, the first point aside, since you at least agree that when it comes time to baptize their children credo’s are out of accord, what point is there in allowing them membership when everyone knows full well that that time is coming (at least, in the case of those, all things being equal will have children)? IOW, it’s a pragmatic matter and seems not a little short-sighted all in the name of latitude and catholicity.

    We should be careful to make something more than the gospel a barrier to church membership…We should be careful to make something more than the gospel a barrier to church membership.

    Then maybe things like BC 34 and HC 80 should be revised which explicitly state that such errors as credo-baptism and transubstantiation are condemned and implicitly suggest that holding to them must be repented of? And maybe articles and chapters like Belgic 29 and WCF 25.4 which indicate that the correct administration of the sacraments mark the true church? If sacramental theology marks the true church then why is it different for marking the true individual? If it’s permissible to make something more than the gospel a barrier to marking the true church then shouldn’t it be the same for marking the true individual? Or maybe you think the corporate body and the individual believer are mutually exclusive? But I think they are organic.

    There is a reason for requiring a greater degree of orthodoxy for teachers than for non-teachers. I’d be happy to explain that.

    Please do. (Two things. First, keep in mind a question and a comment: if laity are for whatever reason allowed to be less orthodox does that mean some may hold to unorthodox Trinitarian views if others may hold unorthodox sacramental views? Second, I would agree that teachers have greater burden on them to teach correctly. But that seems to be in the nature of their office, not in the nature of their faith.)

    Harder? It was impossible [to repent after execution]. But, more accurately, excommunication isn’t execution.

    Tfan, if I might, I think the point here is that the NC is greater than OC and is seen in this: those punished-executed cannot repent. But those disciplined-excommunicated can repent. The church is ruled not by law but by gospel, so that even when it comes to what looks like a carrying out of law it is really a carrying out of gospel. So excommunication is indeed execution, but a kind that is marked by resurrection. Get it?

  517. Phil Derksen said,

    February 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Zrim: “…articles and chapters like Belgic 29 and WCF 25.4 which indicate that the correct administration of the sacraments mark the true church?”

    Really? I won’t argue the formulations in the 3FU here, but it seems to me that the whole point of 25.4 (and 25.5a) is to acknowledge that even “true” visible churches will administer these vital things “more or less purely.”

  518. Zrim said,

    February 15, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Phil, so does that mean that those which administer these vital things “less purely” are closer to false than true? I tend to think so. But if that still grates, maybe that’s why the Belgic is more helpful to make the point.

    But 25.5a references 1Cor 13:12 which reads, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The point actually seems to be that, just as individuals are simil justis et peccator, the church militant isn’t perfect but always compromised. And both live by faith and not by sight. Wolves within, sheep without. Plus, it’s just hard to believe the point is that credo-baptist churches are closer to true than false.

  519. GAS said,

    February 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Doug (502, 503)

    Slow down a little bit, brother.

    I gave a proposition from Scripture and we need to believe it. Surely it needs to be delimited but nevertheless it is true in some sense. We need to discover that sense.

    Expressing yourself with a stream of theological statements doesn’t really address the proposition. I gave the entire proposition and after that Paul speaks to the purpose of that proposition.

    So if we’re going to believe all of Scripture and all it’s propositions we need to believe this one. So in what way is Christ the end of the law?

  520. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Okay GAS, let’s examine the word “end”.

    First definition for the Greek word *end* in Strong’s dictionary:

    (“to set out for a definite point or goal”)

    This is crucial and makes my point perfectly! Jesus is the *goal* of the Law. Or you could just as easily say, Jesus is the *aim* of the Law. What this verse does NOT mean, is that Jesus is the *terminus* of the Law.

    You see GAS, the whole ceremonial Law was founded on promise and foreshadow, it was the schoolmaster, pointing to Jesus, who was the *end* *goal* or *aim* of the Law, because it was all about Christ! *End* simply does not mean the, abrogation or termination of the Law, Unless your ready to call Jesus contradictory. God forbid! My understanding of the word *end* harmonizes beautifully with Jesus earlier statement in Matt 5:17

    , “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them”.

    Take these two verses together and my point becomes irrefutable standing firmly on the Rock of God’s word. With two or three witnesses let it be established, amen!

  521. Doug Sowers said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Moreover GAS; with all deference to my brother Curate; (who I agree with to a point) I wouldn’t even say Jesus “ended” the Mosaic Law. Once again I would say it upheld and confirmed it. He made animal sacrifice obsolete the day he cried, “it is finished”!

    But there were many faithful Jews who lived in the dispersion (Roman empire) who hadn’t heard the “good news” that the Christ had come and accomplished salvation for his people. Moreover, Christian Jews in Jerusalem still continued circumcising there children (Act 15) and celebrated “some not all” of ceremonial rituals until 70AD when Christ *came on the clouds* on Apostate Israel. The termination of the Jewish State, was the end of the old order, and the end of the age.

    Finally the Law of God, is the Standard by which God is going to judge all men and Nations. Therefore, it would behoove the body of Christ, if we really love our neighbor for us to pray and contend (in faith) that America, as well as all Nations would conform there Laws to the Standard the would be pleasing and honoring to God. Yes, the Law of God! As Machen said, “only a Nation founded on the Law of God will last.

  522. GAS said,

    February 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Doug,

    If you want to claim that “end” means “goal” then you need to show me how it works in the context of the actual passage.

    And if it means “goal” then you need to explain how Jesus was the goal of the law beyond merely the ceremonial law or prove from the passage that it is limited to merely the ceremonial law.

    I actually pointed to the beatitudes and the verse you cite in one of these threads, though no one seemed interested in pursuing it. The question you need to ask yourself is if the law is unchangeable, which it is, why did Jesus give a series of statements that began: “You have heard it said…” and in the case of equity, eye for eye and tooth for tooth, does he seemingly reject that equity, when he prefaced that he was not abolishing the law?

    I agree, the Beatitudes and Romans 10 work seemlessly together but not in the way you think.

  523. curate said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:26 am

    dgh: Curate, I get the impression from you that you think what Christianity brings to the table is law and righteousness.

    Right on target. Those under law are those under the power of the Lord of the Air, captive to sin and sinning. Those under grace have died to that captivity, and have been raised in baptism to newness of life, so walk in righteousness.

    The delicious twist in Paul’s teaching is that those under law cannot fulfil the law, but those under grace can and do.

    Indeed, walking in the law is the goal and purpose of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.

    That is not to downplay our forgiveness, but it seems to me that you are turning the grace of God into an excuse for breaking the greatest commandment of the law.

  524. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:53 am

    Okay brother GAS;

    Let’s look at this whole thing in context: Romans 9:31 says:

    (But that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.)

    The Jews heard, “Do this and live”, and thought they could grit there teeth and say, we will do it. How wicked and disobedient! What they didn’t understand, is the Law was never offered as a works salvation arrangement. Notice Paul saying, “as if it were based on works”? It was never offered as something they could accomplish in there own strength. The Mosaic Covenant was an administration of Grace. So why did Israel stumble? They did not pursue it by faith! The unregenerate heart will always attempt to achieve good works in there own strength.

    The whole sacrificial system should have been pointing them to Christ, causing them to desire mercy. But they perverted his gracious Law, by turning grace on its head, which the natural man always attempts. With apostate Israel “even the sacrifices” were on there own terms. Meaning not by faith.

    Now for Romans 10:3

    (“For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the *aim* of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes”.)

    Notice all who believed; let’s start with Abraham, Moses, David, and Daniel, they believed God and were declared righteous by grace through faith, because they saw the Law pointing to the promise. (And Christ was the aim of the promise, amen) All the Saints of God approached the Law by grace through faith alone. The biggest difference being, there faith was looking forward.

    Listen to David in Psalm 119:41

    “Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD your salvation according to your promise”

    David knew he wasn’t saved by the works of the Law! He saw salvation through promise.

    Verse 32 I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!

    See brother? David knew the only way to be obedient unto good works was in trusting God to work in and through him.

    David saw the Law aright, because he was a man of faith! He saw Christ as the goal of the Law. The Law was never legalistic, except to the natural man, which is why Israel stumbled, because they lacked faith. And the same is true today. Our faith now looks back at the completed work of Christ, we have tremendous advantages, Christ broke the power of sin with its curse, but the temptations are still the same. Will we trust in Christ as our all in all; or attempt to please God in our own strength?

  525. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 8:53 am

    Doug,

    But didn’t Jesus fulfill the moral law as well? Isn’t 10:2-3 speaking to that and wasn’t that what Jesus was saying in the beatitudes?

  526. dgh said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Roger, so how delicious is it to live in a society or a home where you have unbelievers? If these people can’t keep the law, then what are we to do with them? Lock them up? Or is there a way to talk of civic righteousness that is different from sanctification? (Of course, there is, our confessions do it all the time.)

    But you position (don’t take this personally) locks all unbelievers up because they are breaking God’s law all the time. Maybe if you make Doug Sowers the chief of police you can cut down on the prison population. He seems to know what to do with adulterers (which are everywhere thanks to lust in the heart). Could be a lonely place your Christendom.

  527. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

    There may be some Reformed homes where the parents don’t make some attempt to enforce both tables. But if homes can do it, why not states? After all, the state is simply a development of the family.

  528. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 10:55 am

    You know Dr Hart, not all sins are crimes. Adultery “of the heart” was never matter for the Magistrate. If you would crack open your Bible, and read the Law, you may discover, that unbelievers lived in Israel just fine! It was a blessing to live in Israel, as an unbeliever! They were treated kindly. You keep blurring the difference between “thought” sins, and crimes that the Magistrate must enforce. Because a man lusts in his heart, is not cause for execution. Until you get over that hump, there isn’t much I can do for you. Your hatred for God’s law is becoming more evident with every post you write, with your mocking sarcastic examples of how stupid and lame. Your questons imply that you feel it would ridiculous be to enforce God’s Law in our Nation. Something the men who wrote the WCF all believed. What frightens you, and scares you to death, caused David to rejoice and thank God. Once again Dr Hart, why do you and David see the Law in such a radically different way?

  529. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Curate said: The delicious twist in Paul’s teaching is that those under law cannot fulfill the law, but those under grace can and do. Indeed, walking in the law is the goal and purpose of the New Covenant in Christ’s blood.>

    Great and profound point brother! It seems as if Dr Hart and company are trying to say, that once Jesus fulfilled the Law, *we* can dismiss it. Hart seems to say; Jesus did it, I don’t have to. Hart has said the Law scares him to death. He almost seems to say, “Don’t look at all the standards of God; you’ll just become legalistic if you do”, when the exact opposite is the case!

    Christ once for all sacrifice, justified his Saints, broke the power of sin, so we have far less of an excuse for not walking in conformity to God’s commands, than the Saints of old. “in his strength through faith of course”.
    For Hart, “Law” is a dirty word, because he still doesn’t see the Law as a perfect reflection of God’s character, Holy and righteous. He’s so hung up with Paul’s rebuke of the Judiazers; he thinks the Law is a bad thing, which certainly makes him “latent antinomian”. Hart will not say with David; *oh how I love your Law it’s my meditation both day and night!* He doesn’t realize, that Paul was railing against using the good Law, in an unlawful way: (As if it were by works”) The Law was never offered as a means of salvation in ones own strength.
    After Christ fulfilled the types and shadows accomplishing salvation for his people, breaking the power of sin, he made the outward form of the Mosaic economy obsolete and ready to vanish. No one I know wants to return to shadows and OT rituals, however every one of the Laws righteous standards are eternal because they reflect the very wisdom of God.

    After all Jesus said we should live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Earth to Hart! That even means the Law! So all Christians should be able to say; Oh LORD gives me your Law graciously! The Law seen through eyes of faith sees Christ, yesterday and today!

  530. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    GAS, If the Law was such a burden, then how can the Bible say in Luke 1:5:

    In the days of Herod, king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Eliszabeth. (pay attention!) And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandmets and statutes of the Lord.

    Notice they were *blameless in all the cmmandments and statutes?! Doesnt sound like the Law scared them to death, like it does Dr Hart; why do you suppose that is?

  531. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Doug, I’m not interested in running down one of your rabbit trails.

    Most importantly, do you believe the gospel? Do you believe Jesus fulfilled the moral law?

  532. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

    GAS; what does it mean to you, that Jesus fulfilled: “Thou shall not commit bestiality”? It’s nonsense! Yes, Jesus lived without sin, and he kept all the moral requirements found in the Law. But to say, he fulfilled thou shall not commit adultery is a conceptual contradiction. Now, I am open to correction, but I don’t see how Jesus sinless life, changed our requirements of living holy and righteous before God. In fact I see the exact opposite, because Jesus broke the power of sin, justified us by grace through faith, filled us with his Holy Spirit, we have even less of an excuse for not walking holy before him in all of his commandments. After all, didn’t Jesus say, “If you love me, then keep my commandments”? Or are you suggesting that Jesus fulfilling the moral law, means we don’t have to?

  533. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

    GAS, The Jews recieved the same gospel we did. Just check out Hebrews, the difference being, in the OT the Gospel was founded on promise and foreshadow, in the New, the promise and shadows are realized. The moral law, is the same for both. Just becasue Jesus was sinless, (and he was) did not change the moral law, so what’s you point?!

  534. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    GAS: It seems to me, in your insistence to say: Jesus fulfilled the moral law; you are in some sense saying we no longer need to. The OT Law seen in faith presupposed that no one other than Christ could keep the Law, perfectly, but like all the Saints then and now, we can keep it blamelessly. (In Christ) The Ceremonial Law taught justification by grace though faith, not the moral law! The moral law merely taught the people of God, the “ought” of morality and the penalties for violating his statutes. The moral Standards and penalties of justice found in the Law of God can not change! It seems as if your suggesting that because Jesus fulfilled the moral law, we no longer execute a rapist? I believe that Jesus perfectly obeyed “thou shall not kill”. But he didn’t change the Law or the punishment for murder! And the must be true for homosexuality! You’re using Christ’s fulfilling the Law, in a way to tell us, that we may no longer execute a practicing homosexual, which has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ fulfilling the Law! IMHO.

  535. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Doug,

    My point is that you have failed miserably to live by the moral law, as we all have, and if you want to be reconciled to God you need to rely on a substitute who has loved his neighbor as much as he loved himself. So every time you find yourself not loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself you better look to the one who lived a life of complete fulfillment, always loving his neighbor as much as he loved himself.

    This is why I believe you have a misunderstanding on the function of the law. The Laws function is to point us to perfect existence and fulfillment in a world in which everybody loves their neighbor as much as they love themselves, Shalom; not imposition of duties. That’s what Jesus was teaching in the Beatitudes; that when we show forbearance to our neighbor when he breaks the moral law against us we are bringing on the kingdom of heaven, it brings on shalom.

  536. TurretinFan said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    GAS: The law has three uses, not just one. – TurretinFan

  537. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    T-Fan,

    I would say that the moral law has two functions; one for individuals and one for the magistrates. As individuals we are called to show forbearance to our neighbor who break the moral law and the magistrate is called to resist those who break the moral law.

  538. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks Tfan! GAS; how many times do I have to say this, no one other than Christ has obeyed the Law perfectly! But all the Saints, in both the Old and the New Covenant obeyed the Law “blamelessly”. They were clean meat, washed in the precious blood of the Lamb. They were vessels of mercy, from the righteous blood of Able to the newest Saint who just confessed Jesus as Lord, today. Can’t I get an amen out of you, brother? Please, just one amen!

  539. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Sure brother, Amen! :)

    My hope is that at some point you put away the theological slogans and deal with the substance of my post.

    Peace

  540. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks GAS and God bless you too:) I want you to know, that if I’m missing the substance of your post, it’s not out of meanness, or wickedness, on my part, (as far as I know). It may be out of blindness, but I honestly don’t know how I missed the substance of your post.

    Will you now agree that I was correct in saying that Jesus was the goal of the Law, and not the terminus? I did provide a dictionary definition that “end” in fact can mean, “goal”. And if not, how was I missing reading Roman’s 10:3 in your mind? You know brother; you were rather sarcastic and confident, that you had proof positive how wrong I was, along with Douglas Wilson that the Law had ended. Are you ready to modify your position a wee bit? Would you even be willing to say my understanding of Romans 10:3 might even have merit?

  541. Doug Sowers said,

    February 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Oh, and GAS: I really did try to prove my understanding of Romans 10:3 If you really don’t believe I came through, then please show me how I fell short, and please explain the real meaning. And that goes for Reed, Hart, Zrim, or Gadbois. I really want to understand how you view this passage.

  542. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Doug,

    The point is if you love your neighbor as yourself you are not under the law. The law has disappeared because there is no further need for the law. You get to live your life with full liberty without the condemnation of the law hanging over your head. That’s why Paul says in Galatians that those led by the Spirit are not under the law.

  543. Neal said,

    February 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    We are no longer under the law, but what about the third use of the law? “Full liberty” certainly does not include license to sin.

  544. GAS said,

    February 16, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Neal,

    If you love your neighbor as yourself there is no sin.

    And yes, the law teaches us how to love our neighbor as ourselves by pointing to those things we must avoid in order to keep that love.

  545. Doug Sowers said,

    February 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

    @GAS, if someone rapes my sister, I should, I must, I’m commanded by Christ, to forgive the man, as vile and as wicked that act is. The same if someone was to murder someone in my family. But the magistrate may not forgive such a trespass! Your confusing personal and civil boundaries. Jesus teaching in the beatitudes can not; must not be understood as Jesus introducing a new morality or ethic. Jesus was not changing how the Magistrate should punish crime. Jesus was correcting the Jews misunderstanding of how to personally apply the Law of God in there life. Primarily dealing with personal slights, (with pleanty of hyperbole) as to not to encourage sin to escalate. There was nothing new in the beatitudes. Just clearer instruction on common misapprehensions of application. And certainly not a new way to punish crime! IMHO.

  546. Zrim said,

    February 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Doug (#545), speaking of confusion, when we are trespassed as citizens of the world we are not commanded to forgive. We are commanded to forgive when trespassed as citizens of heaven. So when a nurse visits my home and steals my wife’s credit cards after sending her to the bathroom for a sample as a distraction, I don’t forgive her. I call the cops. When a man taunts my faith, I don’t call a lawyer. I turn the other cheek.

    I understand that you say the magistrate cannot forgive even repentant trespasses and must punish crime (presumably as opposed to forgiving repentant sin like elders must). And this is correct. But what underlies your notion that we must forgive when trespassed as citizens of the world is a confusion of law and gospel which has at least some residual similarity to an Anabaptist confusion where Christian parents ask judges to suspend judgment on the man who mows down their daughter’s classroom because “we are commanded to forgive and turn the other cheek.” I know you wouldn’t ask a judge to suspend judgment on such a man, but when you say we must forgive him I don’t see what keeps you from asking a judge not to press charges on your behalf.

  547. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    How in the world is “demanding someone’s cloak” trespassing on someone as a citizen of heaven?

  548. Doug Sowers said,

    February 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    @Zrim, it’s a heart issue. You’ve not only missed my point, but you’ve completely misunderstood the Lord Jesus as well. The Law contained the *Gospel in figures*, so there isn’t a conflict, between Law and Gospel when looked upon with eyes of faith! Remember the three uses of the Law? The same Law has three different effects… Christ was the goal of the Law! In fact, Paul calls the Law a schoolmaster pointing to Jesus. The moral standards are a reflection of God’s character, where the ceremonial ordinances prefigured Christ Jesus. Once again, it’s a heart issue. The natural man reads the Law, and attempts to achieve it, “as though it could be accomplished in his own strength. David read the Law, and said, “Enlarge my heart, so that I may walk in all your commandments”. David read the Law aright, he saw grace.

  549. GAS said,

    February 18, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Doug,

    I agree that Jesus wasn’t introducing anything new. God told the religious leaders through the prophets of old that he preferred mercy to sacrifice. And as I described to T-Fan the moral law is implemented differently for the magistrate than for individuals. The basic principle is that one person may not exploit another person. (You’re not loving your neighbor as you love yourself if you exploit him.)

    God in the Law lays out the framework through which those exploitations are manifested. Man will use violence and coercion against his neighbor (6th Commandment). Man will break contracts against his neighbor (7th Commandment). Man will take his neighbors property (8th Commandment). Man will use fraud against his neighbor (9th Commandment). And all this caused by an egalitarian heart that disrespects his neighbor (10th Commandment).

    What makes these exploitations so abhorent is that every man is created in the image of God, and unique, with particular gifts and desires, and exploitation by a neighbor robs a person of his liberty to use those gifts as God designed for him. Thus the magistrates duty is to create an atmosphere which discourages one neighbor from robbing another neighbor of his liberty.

    But honestly Doug, I think contemporary theonomy repeats the error of the Pharisees by failing to realize that history moves on and conditions change and trying to force an atmosphere from a time alien to our own time. We have the basic principle but the conditions on which a man will rob another man of his liberty have changed and so the bible does not speak specifically to many of these new conditions. We know that Justice demands an equitable restitution but what is equitable in one time period may not be equitable in another time period, nor creates the atmosphere that promotes liberty.

    But an even worse error is by those who fail to hold the magistrate to their God-ordained duty to promote liberty, encouraging others to abide with the magistrate even if the magistrate is breaking the moral law. That’s unconscionable. Unfortunately we’ve seen in history what happens when Christians employ a false interpretation of Romans 13 just like the post modern interpretation. Here’s how Christians in the past reasoned using the same interpretation like our post modern friends would like us to us.

    i)All the powers that be are of God
    ii)The powers that be of God should be obeyed
    iii)Hitler is one of the “power that be”.
    iiii)Consequently, Hitler should be obeyed.

    When Christians failed to resist Hitler’s destruction of the moral law it unleashed a world war. God requires us to obey good government that promotes liberty, nowhere does the bible tell us to obey bad government. So I believe we can agree that we Christians have a moral duty to resist those magistrates that break the moral law, amen?

  550. Doug Sowers said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:08 am

    GAS says: When Christians failed to resist Hitler’s destruction of the moral law it unleashed a world war. God requires us to obey good government that promotes liberty; nowhere does the bible tell us to obey bad government.

    Paul said, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment”.

    In fact, Dr Hart has been telling us, that we must sit back and take it, and not say a word. When Paul wrote the letter to the (Romans) Nero was the Cesar; was that good government? True, Nero started out magnanimous, and started ruling in a semi-wise and kind way. Many thought he would be a good if not a great Cesar, however around 64 AD he went mad and started persecuting the Church. He was truly a “beast”. But, would you ever call any Cesar in Rome, good Government? I think not. Yet, it’s God who appoints the King! So there was a tension, to say the least! And yes, when they go the way of Nero, they must be opposed. But how?! With the sword? It all depends on the circumstances, amen? All Christians that knew the Scriptures knew God himself would wind up smashing Rome; See Daniel 2:44; but not for over hundred years!

    The Kings heart is in the hand of Jehovah, and he turns it like the rivers of water, where ever he pleases. Amen? All authorities are established by God, for His overarching reasons. Even wicked kings! Our weapons are not merely carnal, but powerful able to take down strongholds, amen? We wield the sword of the Spirit, the Gospel, amen?! I do agree, GAS, that there is a time and a place for Civil disobedience, but that’s a sticky subject. And when you say we should oppose “bad” Government that seems very broad. Is our Government “good”? We tolerate abortion in our land, what’s that say about our government? My main concern as a Theonomist, is that our Nation would turn her heart back to God, “and desire good and righteous laws. I know fully well, that for this to happen there will have to be a sea change in the attitudes of the people, and most importantly in Christ’s church!

    Finally GAS; even as a self subscribed theonomist, I am not sure how to apply the Law of God in our society. I am well aware, that it could be misapplied, and there are thorny issues to overcome. We need the fruit of the Spirit. We may not know the “how” of perfect application, for years to come, BUT when God says all government authorities are ministers unto him to punish evil, it should mean, (at least to me) they are to look to the Bible to see how God defines evil and good, amen?

  551. GAS said,

    February 18, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    BUT when God says all government authorities are ministers unto him to punish evil, it should mean, (at least to me) they are to look to the Bible to see how God defines evil and good, amen?

    But Doug, we already know what the Bible says about what evil the government should punish. Anytime someone does not love his neighbor as he loves himself and uses coercion or fraud against him, in whatever form, and robs his neighbor of his liberty the magistrate must punish him with an equitable punishment.

    Likewise, whenever the government itself uses coercion or fraud against it’s citizens we must resist that coercion or fraud.

  552. Doug Sowers said,

    February 18, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    That’s very interesting GAS, were probably not that far apart. Your a good brother, and God bless you!

  553. dgh said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Doug and Roger, you guys should exchange emails. I see the makings of a loving, caring, and high-fiving friendship.

  554. dgh said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Doug, maybe you can help me out here. Every time I read the law, it brings me up way short. Apparently, when you read it you feel exonerated. How DO you do it?

  555. TurretinFan said,

    February 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    DGH wrote:

    Doug, maybe you can help me out here. Every time I read the law, it brings me up way short. Apparently, when you read it you feel exonerated. How DO you do it?

    Answer: Union with Christ. That is the only way to feel exonerated in the face of the law.

    -TurretinFan

  556. Zrim said,

    February 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Jeff (#547), the whole context of Luke 6 is about being persecuted as a citizen of heaven, that’s how.

    But maybe you’re right. When my credit cards were stolen I should’ve given her my debit card as well instead of calling the cops.

  557. GAS said,

    February 18, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Doug,

    bless you as well, my friend.

  558. Doug Sowers said,

    February 18, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Hi Todd, check this out!!!

    I thought I would share some telling quotes from J. Gresham Machen :)

    Education, Christianity, and the State: by J Gresham Machen
    “In the nature of the case Christianity must under take to transform all of human culture, and that only the Christian ethic based of the majesty of God’s Law could arrest the decline of western culture”.

    On reforming the government schools: from a lecture of Greg Bahasen on Theonomy #20 I can’t pin point which book it’s taken from. But this is the biggie!

    “Surely the only truly patriotic thing to teach the child is that there is one majestic moral Law to which our own Country and all Countries of the world are subject. There will have to be recourse again despite the props supported by the materialistic paternalism of the modern state, to the stern solid masonry of the Law of God. An authority which is man made can never secure the reverence of man. Society can endure, only if it is founded on the Rock of God’s commands.

    Amen and amen!!

  559. Doug Sowers said,

    February 18, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Let’s see if Dr Hart; or perhaps Zrim; mabe even David Gadbois, would be willing to give an amen to Dr J. Gresham Machen on his heart felt quote::::

    On reforming the government schools by J. Gresham Machen: from lecture #20 Greg Bahnsen’s lecture on Theonomy:

    “Surely the only truly patriotic thing to teach the child is that there is one majestic moral Law to which our own Country and all Countries of the world are subject. There will have to be recourse again despite the props supported by the materialistic paternalism of the modern state, to the stern solid masonry of the Law of God. An authority which is man made can never secure the reverence of man. Society can endure, only if it is founded on the Rock of God’s commands.

    While it’s true, I havent been able to locate the exact place Dr. Machen made this quote; I dare! Make that, I double dare!! Anyone, and I mean anyone; to tell me Machen didnt make this statement. Go on, I dare you!

  560. David R. said,

    February 18, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Doug,

    I just did a google search and found that the Machen quote appears in an essay entitled “What Education Ought to Be,” which is accessible online. The thrust of the essay is that Machen is critiquing the practice of American public schools teaching children morality on the basis of patriotism (e.g., “Good Americans don’t lie”) rather than on “the Rock of God’s commands” (i.e., the moral law). The point is that it’s harmful for children to be taught any sort of false basis for morality, that is, anything other than the moral law, which of course no one here disagrees with.

    Also (assuming the online source is accurate), it looks like either you or Bahnsen spliced together two sections that actually appear in different parts of the essay.

  561. Doug Sowers said,

    February 19, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Thank you so much David R.!

    I didn’t want anybody to think either Bahnsen or I, were misrepresenting the venerable Dr Machen. Greg Bahnsen was quoting fast and furious off a tape that I was trying to type, which I believed, captured Machen’s overarching perspective on the Christian world ethic. You’re a true blue brother in Christ to find this for me “Bro”, because even though we haven’t seen eye to eye on this very issue, you have strongly bolstered my argument. Not to mention, you’ve always comported yourself with temperance and grace, that I can only wish to aspire too.

    Rest in his completed work, and God bless you

    Doug

  562. Doug Sowers said,

    February 19, 2011 at 1:37 am

    @David R.

    Your right once more! (Is this becoming a habit?) Bahnsen was quoting Machen all over the place, right and left from one book to the next. Not to twist Machen’s words out of context, but to clearly show where Machen’s heart was in this issue. Dr Machen, much like Calvin was complex, so that none of us may quote a few paragraphs here and there, and think we can see the whole, of the man. On the other hand, some quotes tell more, than others; amen?

    And these *choice quotes* from J. Gresham Machen leave no doubt, that he would clearly been against Dr Hart and brother Zrim’s *agnostic* general revelation theory for the civil magistrate. In fact, Dr Machen would rebuke Hart so, so, so, so, so,”well let’s just say I wish I could be a fly on the wall to hear this thrashing. lol! Bahahhahaha!

    The biting irony is; that Dr Hart started this whole crazy, long, superfluous, ridiculous, blusterous, thread, by having the gall, the nerve, the temerity, to insinuate, that J. Gresham, Machen would be on his side in the PMS 2K debate. NOT! Nothing could be more repugnant to Machen regarding our governing process, than to hear, Hart’s secular civil government hypothesis.

  563. David Gadbois said,

    February 19, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Doug said On reforming the government schools by J. Gresham Machen: from lecture #20 Greg Bahnsen’s lecture on Theonomy:

    I object on several levels, actually.

    First, is my belief that all government schools should be burned to the ground, the rubble hauled away, and the earth salted behind it.

    Second is my belief that if we are to have government schools they should teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, not moral instruction.

    Third, I would point youngsters to God’s law instead of patriotism as a means of moral guidance, but the problem is that anywhere you see the term “God’s Law” you automatically assume the Mosaic Law and not natural law.

  564. Doug Sowers said,

    February 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Come David Gadbois!

    I was finally ready to agree with you, and give you a big amen, and then you wrote the last sentence! Arghhh! Why must you to recoil, and reject the written “Law of God”? Once again, is Natural Law a different standard? And if not, why not an objective Standard? You still haven’t been able to explain how a fellow is to *know* if he’s following Natural Law, “or not”.

    And BTW, when Jesus said, “Don’t think I have come to abolish the Law” which *Law* was Jesus talking about, Natural Law?

  565. David Gadbois said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Doug said Once again, is Natural Law a different standard? And if not, why not an objective Standard? You still haven’t been able to explain how a fellow is to *know* if he’s following Natural Law, “or not”.

    First of all, natural law is an objective standard.

    And you keep intruding your philosophical demands into a question that is governed by exegesis and systematic theology. I don’t have to explain “how” someone knows something. If the Bible says that all of creation knows God’s law, I don’t have to know how this is so, only that it is so.

  566. TurretinFan said,

    February 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    David G.:

    I understand with your comment, and I mostly agree with it. But there is a small snag. Suppose you and I disagree about what Natural law teaches. What is the right way to resolve that dispute? Do we just accuse the other of suppressing the truth? Do we say that Natural law must have nothing to say?

    The problem is that if you don’t know how we know what Natural law says, when it comes to actually sorting out Natural law and distinguishing it from things like personal taste or preference, you will be lost. You can stick by your exegesis that says we all know the Natural Law, but that doesn’t help you to identify what it is, so as to put it to useful purposes.

    Do you see what I mean?

    -TurretinFan

  567. David Gadbois said,

    February 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Tfan said Suppose you and I disagree about what Natural law teaches. What is the right way to resolve that dispute? Do we just accuse the other of suppressing the truth?

    Between Christians we obviously would look to the Bible on moral questions, but I don’t see any mandate for us to “prove” anything to unbelievers on moral issues. We simply proclaim what is true. Maybe that means we can only make axiomatic assertions at some point and, yes, tell them that they are suppressing the truth. Other times perhaps there can be various arguments made from shared principles (as is often done in, for example, the public debate on abortion).

    The problem is that if you don’t know how we know what Natural law says, when it comes to actually sorting out Natural law and distinguishing it from things like personal taste or preference, you will be lost.

    Well, I admit this is a problem from the standpoint of unbelievers. But for believers, since the Bible and natural law overlap, we are at an advantage.

    But I don’t think that the basic principles of love of God and love of neighbor are really all that elusive, even to unbelievers. All the moral law is written on their hearts, so they can make deductions about moral actions from the broader principles that we find summarized in the Decalogue.

  568. TurretinFan said,

    February 20, 2011 at 7:27 am

    David G.:

    The reason I am asking is that some Christians seem to have the idea that we should discover what the general equity of the civil law of Israel is, by comparing that to “Natural Law,” which they seem to think involves looking at the Code of Hammurabi and the Corpus Juris Civilis.

    But it sounds like you would not agree. For moral principles (in discussions amongst Christians) you would use the Scriptures to decide the matter. Thus, the general equity of the civil law could be determined by reference to Scripture without having to make reference to the CoH or CJC.

    Am I correctly understanding you?

    -TurretinFan

  569. dgh said,

    February 20, 2011 at 7:51 am

    Tfan, how can I, a sinner, be united to Christ, the righteous one? Your answer leaves me unconsoled.

  570. dgh said,

    February 20, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Doug et al, if you think Machen stands close to you then you need to step back on consider the Old School Presbyterian tradition of the spirituality of the church. It was actually from Machen that I learned this (and it is fairly distinct from the Kuyperianism that inspired Bahnsen. You don’t have to agree with it. But you need to read Machen in that context — which would explain also why he can speak highly of the law of God and defend the liberties of Roman Catholics to worship and preach).

    Dave Coffin from New Hope PCA in Fairfax, Va., just gave two sermons on the doctrine. Those sermons are an important resource for trying to understand both the spirituality of the church and its related doctrine of the two kingdoms. Here is one brief expression of the doctrine by James H. Thornwell:

    “The provinces of Church and State are perfectly distinct, and the one
    has no right to usurp the jurisdiction of the other. . . . The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual, that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church is a Divine revelation—the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of Providential events. . . . They are as planets moving in different orbits, and unless each is confined to its own track, the consequences may be as disastrous in the moral world as the collision of different spheres in the world of matter.”

    Before you write off 2kers like myself as proponents of atheism or secularism, you really should come to terms with the Old School Presbyterians. And at some point you might consider that the rise of Dutch Calvinist influence in 20th century Reformed Protestantism virtually sank the Old School tradition.

  571. TurretinFan said,

    February 20, 2011 at 9:36 am

    “Tfan, how can I, a sinner, be united to Christ, the righteous one? Your answer leaves me unconsoled.”

    By repentance from sin and faith in His name.

  572. TurretinFan said,

    February 20, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Machen may well be a man in the middle – between your position and ours, DGH. I certainly can’t recall him saying that the blue laws are wrong, even though he’s clearly not aligned all the way with Calvin.

  573. Doug Sowers said,

    February 20, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Dr Hart quotes, David Coffin: The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual, that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church is a Divine revelation—the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. . . .

    Me: The problem with that sentence is, while no one is against “human reason” per se, even the Magistrates “reasoning process” is subservient to God’s Word. This is why kingdoms have been judged by God in times past, and continue fall into his displeasure as we speak. Why did the Soviet Union fall? God has one standard of morality and justice! There is no such thing as neutral justice, concocted in the heart of autonomous man. We will either punish crime by the general equity found in the Rock of God’s Word, or choose an autonomous standard based on the will of man.

    The lines are drawn; the choices are stark as night and day. How are we to punish crime? What did J. Gresham Machen think? And while I’m not sure on the how, or the exact applications for every trespass, I, like Machen believe that when a nation punishes crime, it should be based on the Law of God. Yes! Two sphere’s of authority, one standard of morality and justice.

    Therefore, when a Nation says it’s legal for a Mother to abort a human life, God pays especially close attention. If we have learned anything from reading God’s Word, any society that practices abominations like that will not last. God himself says the land will vomit you out if you do these things! Is it different today, than it was for Israel? Of course not! King Solomon was the first King in Israel that started sacrificing children to the fire, (because of his Godless wives) and the southern kingdom still lasted another 350 years before God utterly ran them out of the land.

    God’s standards of righteousness do not change. They can not! If it was moral to execute a rapist in the OT, it must be moral today, because morality can not change. Therefore be wise of kings, and kiss the Son, so that God does not be come angry. And for his part, J. Gresham Machen would agree, that when it comes to punishing crime, we must derive our punishments from the Law of God.

  574. Ron said,

    February 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Dr Hart quotes, David Coffin: The power of the Church is exclusively spiritual, that of the State includes the exercise of force. The constitution of the Church is a Divine revelation—the constitution of the State must be determined by human reason and the course of providential events. . .

    Doug,

    Just a point of clarification. Darryl referred to David Coffin’s recent sermons and then immediately quoted Thornwell. The quote is clearly not to be attributed to David Coffin. It’s not even deducible from Darryl’s post whether David Coffin cited Thornwell in this regard. It might be a fair inference that David Coffin employed the quote in his sermon but from Darryl’s post we can’t be sure.

    Best,

    Ron

  575. Zrim said,

    February 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Doug, I disagree with David G.’s notion that public schools should be “burned down and hauled away.” I get the form of rhetoric here to make a point, but I’ll register my exception to it as well. And here is 2k actually at work: two believers may diverge on the way to do earth. Per Luther, I am actually an advocate for public education. I’ll grant that its condition at present makes such advocacy hard. Even so, for all the rhetoric about being salt and light, I find it odd that so many have a fundamentally antagonistic posture toward public education, especially given that the larger balance has absolutely nothing to do with it anyway. And so I take the view that it’s better to adopt a protagonist posture.

    That said, I am with David G. that education is primarily an intellectual enterprise and only secondarily, at best, an affective project. I take the view that the moral making human beings is only the project of the home, not the school. To that end, I offer another Machen quote from “Christianity in Conflict”:

    “In Baltimore I attended a good private school. It was purely secular; and in it I learned nothing about the Bible or the great things of our Christian faith. But I did not need to learn about those things in any school; for I learned them from my mother at home. That was the best school of all; and in it, without any merit of my own, I will venture to say that I had acquired a better knowledge of the contents of the Bible at twelve years of age than is possessed by many theological students of the present day…My mother did more for me than impart a knowledge of the Bible and of the Faith of our Church. She also helped me in my doubts.”

    The affective life, religious and moral, is not the obligation of the school but of the home alone. The school is not even an extension of the home. It doesn’t co-make human beings. It only educates them. Yes, because human beings and their projects are complicated and there will be some intercourse and overlap. But I take great exception to anybody’s idea, even Machen if he conveyed it in places, that the school does anything remotely close to what the home does.

    So perhaps instead of David G.’s notion that public school should be burned down, I would rather say that any transformationist idea that the school does my job as a parent should be thrown into the furnace. Indeed, the idea that the school traffics in making human beings is an “all of life” transformationist concept. And to be quite honest, in all my time as a public school student, teacher and parent I have seen that most secularists, despite what they have principally inherited from the transformationalist roots in American public education, pragmatically have a much better grasp on the idea of “sola familia” than most religionists.

  576. dgh said,

    February 20, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Tfan, where do our standards say that I am united to Christ by faith? If you look at the Westminster Confession (you know, 1646), the chapter on saving faith does not mention union.

  577. dgh said,

    February 20, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Doug, as Ron indicates, the quotation was from Thornwell, not Coffin. And my point in quoting Thornwell is that the idea of a separation of church and state is not new to 2k. It was also that you must read Machen as an advocate of the Old School Presbyterian doctrine of the spirituality of the church. And Old School Presbyterians rejected the view of the magistrate that you articulate. They argued for a secular state and also conceded that they were parting with Calvin and the Reformers. 2kers are not advocating something new in American Presbyterianism.

    I’d have thought you’d have learned that from Doug Wilson’s book on slavery.

  578. TurretinFan said,

    February 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    DGH:

    At #576, you asked:

    Tfan, where do our standards say that I am united to Christ by faith? If you look at the Westminster Confession (you know, 1646), the chapter on saving faith does not mention union.

    Our standards explain this in WLC 65-67.

    Q. 65. What special benefits do the members of the invisible church enjoy by Christ?

    A. The members of the invisible church by Christ enjoy union and communion with him in grace and glory.[269]

    Q. 66. What is that union which the elect have with Christ?

    A. The union which the elect have with Christ is the work of God’s grace,[270] whereby they are spiritually and mystically, yet really and inseparably, joined to Christ as their head and husband;[271] which is done in their effectual calling.[272]

    Q. 67. What is effectual calling?

    A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s almighty power and grace,[273] whereby (out of his free and special love to his elect, and from nothing in them moving him thereunto)[274] he doth, in his accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by his Word and Spirit;[275] savingly enlightening their minds,[276] renewing and powerfully determining their wills,[277] so as they (although in themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer his call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein.[278]

    See also WCF 9:

    CHAPTER XI.
    Of Justification.

    I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

    II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

    III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction of his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.

    IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.

    V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.

    VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.

    I hope that helps.

    -TurretinFan

  579. February 20, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I thought we had proved already that what Thornwell (who offered up an amendment to the CSA constitution to recognize Christ as Lord over the CSA) mean by separation a far different thing than the R2K folks?

  580. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 20, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Yikes, DGH. What can you mean by #576?

    I get the sense that you want to place more burden-of-proof on TFan, correct? But the way you ask the question makes it seem like you doubt the doctrine.

  581. TurretinFan said,

    February 20, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Thornwell and Dabney don’t sound much like DGH, most of the time — although of course they might agree with a few of his points, here or there. Stuart Robinson sounds somewhat more like DGH (S.R. even opposed the blue laws, if I recall correctly) – but I haven’t seen anything to suggest that S.R.’s reasons for his beliefs were the same as DGH’s, or that his reasons were accepted by his contemporaries.

  582. February 20, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    “Nevertheless we, the people of these Confederate States, distinctly acknowledge our responsibility to God, and the supremacy of His Son, Jesus Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords; and hereby ordain that no law shall be passed by the Congress of these Confederate States inconsistent with the will of God, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures”.

    Southern Presbyterian Review, Vol. 16, No. 1

    http://tinyurl.com/6g8ycur

  583. Doug Sowers said,

    February 20, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I strongly concur with Jeff #580!!!

    Moreover DGH, you keep asking the same tired question as to why I love the Law, and it scares you to death. (This doesn’t bode well for you,friend) The answer is; the Law seen through eyes of faith pointed the way of salvation! The Law taught that man needed something apart from himself, to get right with God. The Law taught that we were in need of a Savior. The Law taught that sin was an affront to God. The Law taught the vicarious atonement of the precious Lamb of God! The whole Temple apparatus was a parable about Jesus. The Law taught our need for a Great High Priest.

    Why is this so hard for you to see? Many of the ceremonial laws prefigured the work of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. And although, Jesus wasn’t “literally” burned, without the book of Leviticus, we wouldn’t be able to grasp the theological meaning of Christ’s work in expiation, propitiation, redemption, and adoption. So even after the Christ completed salvation for his people, (Hallelujah!) it’s a good thing to read and meditate on the Law, to grasp the depth and enormity of Christ’s incredible work at Calvary. Of course when we read it today, we look back and rest in His completed work, where as King David rested in the promise. But the Law seen in either era through eyes of faith could see Christ, who was the goal, or aim of the Law.

  584. Mike K. said,

    February 20, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    #582,

    What was the intent of this citation? I don’t know what happened to the proposed amendment being quoted there by Peck, but he appears to be rather against it in the rest of his article.

  585. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Jeff says: First, decide what’s actually important to you. (1) Do you merely want to establish the death penalty for kidnapping and rape, et al? (2) Or do you believe that the Mosaic code, every jot and tittle, is the standard of justice for the nations? (3) Or do you believe that the general equity of the Mosaic code is the standard of justice for the nations?
    Jeff, I don’t “really” see a conflict with premise one, two or three. Every jot and tittle “means” (to me) the general equity! And while many of the ceremonial laws prefigured Christ’s atoning work of the cross, they still can teach us great things. Jesus did not come to abolish the Law!
    Thomas Cartwright said it so well:
    “And as for the judicial Law, for as much as there are some of them made, in regard of the region where there were given, and of the people to whom they were given, keeping the substance and the equity of them as it were the marrow may change the circumstance of them as the times of places and manners of the people shall require.”
    Cartwright understood, that the laws, in regard with the region they were given may change, but the marrow, or equity was perpetual. All of the *great men* who penned the WCF, were Theonomic, to they’re core! They would oppose Dr Hart, to his face! Zrim would be dropped kicked into the next time zone! (Metaphorically of course! Sorry Zrim :( The very sins that caused God to judge the 7 Nations also caused God to judge Israel as well! God doesn’t have a double standard of justice. The very abominations that Zrim tells us, “we should just let be”, (homosexuality, bestiality, and incest) are the very sins that caused God to judge other kingdoms. How does that make any sense?

  586. curate said,

    February 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Doug, because for dgh and company God commands some men some of the time to repent of some things. :)

  587. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

    @ Jeff, I’m sorry for that jumbled post, above. Perhaps I can explian myself better.

    You asked: First, decide what’s actually important to you. (1) Do you merely want to establish the death penalty for kidnapping and rape, et al? (2) Or do you believe that the Mosaic code, every jot and tittle, is the standard of justice for the nations? (3) Or do you believe that the general equity of the Mosaic code is the standard of justice for the nations?

    (Me) Jeff, I love premise 3! Yet I don’t see a conflict with premise 2, unless were to believe that Jesus was mistaken on heaven and earth passing away, before he abolished the Law. Moreover, I believe that a thief should be forced to pay some type of restitution, commensurate with the offense. And sitting in prison, is not a form of punishment that is God sanctioned, nor God honoring. So, I’m not “merely” after the DP for rape, homosexuality, and kidnapping, I want all of our laws to be based on the Bible, to the best of our understanding.

    We should look at all 66 books of Holy Scripture to adduce how we should best honor God, in punishing crime, with our Penal Laws. In short, like Machen, I believe our Laws should be founded on the Law of God. God’s Law is “eye for and eye, tooth for tooth”, which is poetry for “perfect justice”. While the times and cultures have changed, justice and morality haven not.

    So I’m for taking the general equity, or the moral universals found in all 66 books found is Scripture, and applying them today. And I wouldn’t think there could be a conflict with Natural Law, since they’re the same Law, just written down two different ways. Obviously since “man” has a hard time interpreting the Law correctly, (since the fall) the more explicit the testimony, the better.

  588. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Doug, on the exegesis of Matt 5: What is the “everything is accomplished” of 5.18? And how does that relate to the fact that the ceremonial law is clearly fulfilled, while the moral law is clearly not?

  589. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    @Jeff, What is, the everything is accomplished?

    Jesus was certainly NOT saying, *Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish the Law, for truly I say to you until heaven earth pass away not in iota, nor a dot, will pass from the Law*, (or until a year from now when I accomplish it)

    That is a gross misreading of the text, IMHO. As well as inherently contradictory. The all “accomplished” probably means the end of time on the Day of Judgment. Which Law will condemn the sinner on the Day of Judgment? The Law of God! And until that day, the Law is still in force, for blessings and curses.

    For those of us, “in Christ” we are saved from the curse of the Law. Those who are not of faith, are under the wrath of God, which means there under curse of the Law, as we speak. Both Christian and pagans are subject to the moral Law with its sanctions, found in the Law itself.

    Jesus did not fulfill, “thou shall not commit bestiality” nor did Jesus fulfill thou shall not commit homosexuality. Yes, Jesus was sinless, but he himself said “don’t think I’ve come to abolish the Law”. While Jesus accomplished salvation for his people, (Amen, and amen!) He did not not fulfill all things! The Law will not pass away until heaven and earth pass away, or maybe that’s just Jesus way of saying it will never pass away. Even in eternity after our glorification we will forever sing “Oh how I love your law, it’s my mediation both day and night”.

  590. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    @Jeff, Just by virtue of the New Testament calling Jesus, “King of Kings” implies a Theocratic rule, amen?

  591. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Doug (#590): Yes, a theocracy of Christ over his people. We as individuals are theocratically obligated to Christ’s Lordship.

    It is in this sense, I believe, that van Til meant that the only options are theonomy or autonomy. Though I may be mistaken, I believe that his burden was for individual Christians and not governments per se.

  592. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Doug (#589): Jesus was certainly NOT saying, *Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish the Law, for truly I say to you until heaven earth pass away not in iota, nor a dot, will pass from the Law*, (or until a year from now when I accomplish it)

    That is a gross misreading of the text, IMHO. As well as inherently contradictory.

    Well, you sense in part where I’m going, but you haven’t answered the question yet. How is it that Jesus has fulfilled the ceremonial Law (He has, right?) if not one jot or tittle is to pass away until all is accomplished?

    We agree, BTW, that Jesus has not abrogated the moral law. Bestiality is just as wrong now as then.

    But getting Matt 5 right is key for this discussion, and the blanket assertion that the full Law remains in force today clearly will not do.

  593. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    @Jeff, Moreover, what Law judged Sodom and Gomorrah? What Law judged the 7 Nations? What Law judged Israel? What Law judged Babylon? What Law judged Rome? What Law judged the Soviet Union? What Law judged Hitlers Germany? What Law will judge all kings from every Nation?

    The Law of God!

    This is why every Nation needs to build its house of the Rock of God’s Word. Which is just another way of saying, the Law of God, amen? All things have not been accomplished, until all of God’s purposes have been completed. So let’s pray that God’s name would be hallowed in every Nation, and that his kingdom would progressively come on earth as it is, in heaven.

  594. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Doug (#593): All things have not been accomplished, until all of God’s purposes have been completed.

    But still (I’m like the little dog on the ankle): How is it that the jots and tittles of the ceremonial law have passed away?

    For on your reading, they should not have.

  595. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    No, keep it up Jeff, these are good questions. I’ve got to run, but I promise I do have an answer, that I feel is Biblically sound. Just give me a couple hours.

    God bless you brother,

  596. Zrim said,

    February 21, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Doug, so much of what consumes you (law and sex) would make more sense if you thought in terms of the church instead of the world, spiritual instead of political. I trust you are familiar with 1 Cor. 5:

    It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

    For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    You might, like other theonomists I’ve enagaged, be inclined to say that, yes, you think we should be intolerant of impiety within the church but that doesn’t mean we ought not have a mind for the goings on in the wider world. But then what to make of Paul’s latter point about not judging those outside and leaving it to God? Would you also have Paul dropped kicked into the next time zone for suggesting that “we should just let be” the sins that caused God to judge the nations (homosexuality, bestiality, and incest)?

    So it’s not that I am suggesting so much a collective shrug toward impiety, but following Paul that it should be the impieties of God’s covenant people alone which should earn stripes. And, yet, even here the discipline meted out to God’s people is also ruled by gospel and not law. Have you considered that the difference between OT physical execution and NT spiritual excommunication, the sort Paul prescribes here in 1 Cor. 5? In the former you cannot repent. In the latter you can, as in resurrection.

  597. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    @Zrim, I’ll say this for you Brother, you hang in there :)

    You can say I’m consumed with sex and law, but would you have said the same thing to God? Remember, when God was giving the Law to Israel? God gave the reasons he was judging the Amorites; for their sexual perversions and because they sacrificed they’re children in the fire. Idolatry plus sexual perversion, plus child sacrifice. What’s striking from my perspective; is that America is facing the same issues, front and center!

    One of the main funtions of God’s Judicial Law, was to prevent Israel from doing the same things that caused God to judge the 7 Nations. Sadly, after some 500 years they started throwing they’re children if the fire and after another 350 years, God drove them out of the land as well. Would you say God was obsessed with sex and Law? No, it just happens that sexual depravity mixed with idolatry destroys Nation after Nation and Kingdom after Kingdom throughout history.

    If it was true for Sodom and Gomorrah, the Amorites, and Israel, it’s true today! God doesn’t have a double standard of morality and justice. The DP is NOT a harsh penalty for these crimes; in fact it sends the exact “right” message!!

    Now, in America not only are these sinful crimes legal, but look at the epidemic of pornography? Should that remain legal as well? If America were to accept the Law of God as binding, it would suddenly answer about a zillion questions instantly! Now, granted, I know the American people are not ready for the DP for the making of pornography, but can I get an amen out of you, that it’s wicked?

    You see Zrim; I know you aren’t saying sexual sins are not sins. But, by legalizing homosexuality, you open up a can of worms, for a zillion other depraved actions that certainly follow. (And they are by the way!) Your right in the sense, by making an action illegal, won’t stop all people from engaging in depravity; but by legalizing it, you open the flood gates of hell. I hope you will reconsider.

    And I will answer your other questions as well, I’m not done with you yet, bro.

  598. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Doug (#597): but by legalizing it, you open the flood gates of hell.

    A little historical perspective here: America is by no means at the point that Italy was in the Middle Ages in terms of sexuality: crass, in the streets, and exploitative. And that was *with* restrictive laws.

    See, it’s one thing to pass laws. It’s another to have the will to enforce them. It’s safe to say that America jettisoned her laws about sexuality long after she lost the will to abide by and enforce them.

    Where does that will come from? From personal theonomy — from individuals being under the ministry of the Word and being made willing by the Spirit, not by the threatenings of the Law, to love one’s neighbor enough to obey the 7th commandment.

    Pass all the laws you want. But if there is no heart change on the part of the people, they will subvert and flout the law until it becomes pointless.

  599. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    @ Jeff #598 Amen Jeff!

    I think back to Israel, even when she had the right Laws of the books, but no will to enforce it. I agree Jeff, that an external law all by itself is not the solution. Great point!

  600. Zrim said,

    February 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Doug, I’m afraid you are still missing my point. And that is that sin within the church is the concern in the new covenant era, not sin without. The church is the nation with which God is concerned. There is continuity, for we see this concern in the OC era. Theocratic Israel was pursued by God for her trespasses. In the same way, exilic Israel is the focus in the NT. Every epistle is written to the church of God, just like every prophetic warning is written to Israel; there is nothing published to any magistrate or worldly institution in the same manner. That parallel between OT Isreal and the NT church seems much more striking and instructive than any alleged parallel between the perversions of Israel’s neighbors and the church’s. You’re right, there is no double standard, but the standard is for God’s people. And the more theonomy parcels out God’s concern for the world the more the church is vulnerable and weakened. Or think of it this way: the more I am concerned about my neighbors’ kids behaviors the less my kids get my attention. Can you see how problematic that is?

    And to the extent that I have made them as well, Jeff’s points are well taken. However I prefer the older term of Christian obedience to “personal theonomy.” And the one caution I would make is that, while it is true that the Spirit is necessary in order to obey the Word, even when indwelt justified and sanctified sinners are still always more sinful than not.

  601. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Zrim: Listen to the promise God gave to Abraham in Genesis 17:8

    (And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.)

    Yet in Romans 4:13

    (For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.)

    Notice how Paul sees the promise made to Abraham as the whole world, and he doesn’t even mention the land of Canaan. That is because you are not seeing the typological expansion of what God was really promising. The seed of Abraham is to inherit the world. That includes families, cities, nations, and culture. While it’s true that Jesus is King of Israel, when Jesus met the woman of Samaria she called him Savior of the World.

    Consider Psalm 72: 8

    (May he have dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth? May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!)

    Vs. 11 (May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him!)

    This Messianic prophecy includes more than just individuals and ones personal family; this prophecy includes “all kings” and all Nations serving Christ with his enemies licking the dust! This can’t be referring to the “eternal state” because there are still enemies running around. So you are grossly incorrect saying that Old Testament prophecies are just talking about Israel.

    Isaiah 2:2

    (It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths”.)

    Once again Zrim, this proclaims “all the nations” shall flow to it! It shall be the tallest mountain!

    And finally in verse 3 (For out of Zion shall go the law and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not life up sword against nation, nether shall they lean war anymore.)

    What a beautiful picture of the conquest of Christ’s church! This is a poetic wonderful prophecy of the fulfillment of the Great Commission. And notice how God will decide disputes with his law? Which is Theonomies point from the beginning.

  602. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    @Zrim; Moreover, God so love the *world* that he gave his only begotten Son.

    Why is it so hard for you to believe, that God will ultimately save the line share of mankind, as in the world? Look what he promised Abraham, the world! God started out with a Covenant with one man, our father Abraham. And it ends with salvation of the whole earth. God says he will save a number that no one can number in Revelation 5. How do you know it won’t be in the trillions, or perhaps far more? Why do you insist on thinking so small? The kingdom parables Jesus told, talk of a conquest that will take over the earth much like Psalm 72. Think of the women who put leaven in the meal, until it’s all leavened! All I’m trying to do is be faithful to all of scripture, and shake you out of your truncated pessimistic theology. Why can’t you say alone with brother J. Gresham Machen, “let us joyfully make the nations Christ’s slaves”? After all, that’s exactly what Jesus told us to do!

  603. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Doug (#601): The seed of Abraham is to inherit the world. That includes families, cities, nations, and culture. While it’s true that Jesus is King of Israel, when Jesus met the woman of Samaria she called him Savior of the World.

    But not everything in the world is inheritable; for not everything lasts. Marriages, for example. And possessions.

    So what then of culture? Or governments? Are they to be claimed for Christ? In the eschaton, will there be a Europe? Or an Italy? Or a Rome? Or an Etruscan nation?

    Do they not rather pass away? Are they not the medium in which men and women dwell, men and women who are to be claimed for Christ?

    You’ve argued from Matt 28 that “nations” are to be made disciples. I think a more accurate reading of the Greek, and of the NT in general, is that men and women out of the nations are to be made disciples. Isn’t that what Rev 5 says? (Can I get an amen? :) )

    There is this tension between under-realizing salvation in the world in which we live, and over-realizing it. The species of under-realization that we have seen are Gnosticism and antinomianism; while over-realization is detected by an inordinate hope in the flesh: the law and the world.

    Without saying that you’re there — still, can you consider the possibility that the desire to transform this world into the age to come is to fail to see the radically different character of Christ’s kingdom, one which is not of this world?

    Here’s a test: in the eschaton, the effect of sin (death and sorrow) will be gone. How can this world ever be transformed into that one?

    And the purpose of that test is to focus the mind: Job one, and the only job of the church, is evangelism and discipleship. Not to transform nations for Christ; not to promulgate laws reflecting the justice of the OT. Those things might happen as incidental side effects (Is 2 *is* rather hopeful, yes?); but they are not to be sought as a part of our mission.

  604. Doug Sowers said,

    February 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    (@Jeff, let me give you an amen brother :)

    What do you say about Isaiah 2:3?

    (For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples)

    Notice, *God’s Law* will decide disputes and judge between the nations. Don’t we have a battle brewing right now, in America? (Should we legalize “gay marriage”?) Wouldn’t you like God’s Law to settle this dispute? I sure do. And if and when it does, wouldn’t that be a fulfillment of Isaiah 2?

  605. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Doug (#604): Wouldn’t you like God’s Law to settle this dispute?

    Yes, I sure would. But not at the hands of the magistrate. In Isaiah 2, the magistrate doesn’t come forth from Zion and subjugate the peoples with his sword so that they all submit to Christ’s law.

    No. The peoples stream to Zion to be taught the Law. For God’s Law to settle the dispute in America, it would be necessary for the people first to come to Zion.

    If the church does her job, the rest will follow in God’s providence, to whatever extent that may occur. Transformation of culture? It happens. But it’s not the goal.

    There is a time for compulsion: when Christ returns, and not before.

  606. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 12:29 am

    @Jeff: Let me admit, I don’t know what the fulfillment of the Great Commission will look like. I read prophesies like Psalm 72 Isaiah 65 Isaiah 2 Isaiah 9 Psalm 2 Daniel 2 and many others, and they seem too incredible, too grand to comprehend. In fact many people want to place Isaiah 65 in the eternal state; however, there are still people dying, and sinners running around, so that prophecy must be talking about the church age. I believe God is faithful, amen? I also recognize the danger of triumphalism, trying to accomplish his kingdom promises in our own strength.

    But Jeff, I’m convinced that the Churches problem is not triumphalism, but social retreat. And a lack of believing that Jesus really wants all nations to become Christianized. I used to think the number one enemy of Christ’s church taking a transromational perspective (besides Satan) was a dispensationalist understanding of the Bible. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “God told us to be fishers of men, not clean out the fish bowl”. Now that I’m in the OPC; it seems as if my *pessimistic* amillennial brothers have the exact same outlook for our Nation. (Don’t expect things to get better) I have spent years battling the Tim LaHaye *left behind* branch of eschatology, so I’m battle ready. Now I see fellows like dgh and Zrim with the same depressed, agnostic, outlook, only worse! No dispensationalist I ever spoke too would say we should legalize homosexuality. (And neither would David Gadbois) What they would say is that’s proof the antichrist is about ready to take over the world. So this whole R2K issue seems like a bazaar re-run for me. Same identical outlook with some of the terms changed. Where the premillennial brothers are waiting for the millennium, Zrim and dgh are waiting for the eternal state, but have no hope for the nations. Something I see the Old Testament teaching will be glorious. Like in Psalm 72 

  607. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Zrim, I haven’t been able to get you to interact with my main point. God judged Nations like Sodom and Gomorrah, the 7 Nations, Israel, Greece, Rome, precisely because of they’re idolatry and sexual depravity! Don’t you care about our Nation? We are supposed to be the salt of the earth, no? How can you in good conscience, be indifferent to the legalization of something that has brought down empire after empire? Do you feel that God has stopped judging Nations like he once did? Has God changed his mind?

  608. paigebritton said,

    February 22, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Jeff, #603 –

    And the purpose of that test is to focus the mind: Job one, and the only job of the church, is evangelism and discipleship. Not to transform nations for Christ; not to promulgate laws reflecting the justice of the OT. Those things might happen as incidental side effects (Is 2 *is* rather hopeful, yes?); but they are not to be sought as a part of our mission.

    Just to clarify, are you speaking of the church-as-institution, responsible for Word & Sacrament, or the church as God’s people? I find I am missing in your “missional” statement the idea of love, which, it would seem, would have as a mission the relief, though not the total eradication, of the effects of the Fall in the world.

    pb

  609. paigebritton said,

    February 22, 2011 at 6:25 am

    Theology check, guys:

    Zrim writes (#600), while it is true that the Spirit is necessary in order to obey the Word, even when indwelt justified and sanctified sinners are still always more sinful than not. (my emph.)

    Is this true? It seems much more pessimistic than anything I have ever read. Have I missed something, or is this a Zrim thing? I know Zrim often uses it to emphasize the hopelessness of Christians “improving” anything at all, since we are always so dreadfully in need of improvement ourselves…

  610. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Paige (#608): It’s a good point. I am not distinguishing between the church as institution and the church as people (and I tend to resist such distinctions).

    Acts 6 seems to be a template for coordinating the ministry of the Word and mercy ministry: the church does both, but her main mission is the proclamation of the Gospel. The deaconite was created so that the apostles could be about the business of the Word.

  611. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Re: 609: Zrim is secretly a Lutheran who got Minnesota and Michigan mixed up. ;)

  612. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Hi Jeff, this is what I’m talking about! Play extra close attention to verse three and four.

    Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
    Let earth receive her King;
    Let every heart prepare him room,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven and nature sing,
    And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

    Verse 2

    Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
    Let men their songs employ;
    While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
    Repeat the sounding joy,
    Repeat the sounding joy,
    Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

    Verse 3

    No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground;
    He comes to make His blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found,
    Far as the curse is found,
    Far as, far as, the curse is found.

    Verse 4

    He rules the world with truth and grace,
    And makes the nations prove
    The glories of His righteousness,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders of His love,
    And wonders, wonders, of His love.

  613. Zrim said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Doug, an amillenialist also believes that God will bring all geo-political nations to himself. But that’s not until the consummation of all things. Until that final theocratic era is inaugurated we live in the inter-advental era which is actually the final exilic era. During this time God is adding to his church only people from every tribe, tongue, kindred and nation.

    And I am interacting with your main point, which apparently is that we should care at least as much about the state of the world as the state of the church. But I am rejecting that premise, as in we should care more about what goes on in our own homes than what goes on in our neighbor’s house. Have you ever heard of being a busy-body? Have you considered how annoying it would be for your neighbor to be consumed with the goings-on in your household instead of his own? But this is only an analogy and isn’t to suggest a Gnostic apathy about the world. Rather, it’s to put a much needed perspective on worldly cares. It’s to retain the dignity of the cares of this world but lowering their stakes. (And, by the way, I’m not apathetic about gay marriage. What I said was that the way things are put in front of me I would abstain from voting. Since when was abstaining so contemptible? It’s a perfectly valid way to respond when the choice given is poor. I’m not persuaded that homosexuality should enjoy the sanction of marriage, but I’m also not persuaded of the efforts of many to socially and politically marginalize a certain class of sinners.)

  614. Zrim said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Paige (#608), Kuyper distinguished between the church as organism and the church as institution. He placed the emphasis on the former and is what arguably created the whole neo-Calvinist movement, which while had good intentions nevertheless had devastating effects on the church as institution. DVD, in “Always Reformed” describes Calvin as having a high view of the church as institution over against Kuyper and says this about the effects:

    Another common characteristic of neo-Calvinism, amidst its diversity, is its dedication to putting the church in its place. That may seem unnecessarily pejorative, but I believe it is not unfair. What I mean is that neo-Calvinism, if it is united by anything, is united by a desire to promote Christian cultural engagement, the goodness of all lawful vocations, and a “kingdom vision” that includes but by no means is limited to the church. Conceptions of Christianity that are overly church-focused—and hence restricted in their kingdom vision—come in for special critique. Neo-Calvinism aims to convince believers that Christianity is about all of life and that their common occupations are just as holy and redeemable as their pastor’s work and their own worship on Sunday. Of course none of its proponents are anti-church and many of them are dedicated servants of the church. It seeks to elevate other institutions and activities rather than lower the church’s status, but the effect is still to ensure that the church does not have too prominent a place in the Christian life, for the sake of aholistic kingdom vision…

    …Obviously neo-Calvinism did not set out to decimate the church, but to raise other institutions to a level of (equal) importance—all with very good intentions to protect against cultural indifference and to give meaning to all areas of life. The church, unfortunately for neo-Calvinism, is not the sort of institution designed by Christ to be one among equals for Christians. Neo-Calvinism has not only made little noticeable progress in transforming Western civilization (or even Holland, or South Holland), but it has to an alarming degree lost the importance and uniqueness of the church along the way as well. It certainly has done no better than earlier Reformed Christianity in resisting the temptation of theological liberalism and other contemporary religious fads.

  615. Zrim said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Paige (#609), first, just as there is a difference between utter and total depravity there is a difference between having a skeptical view of human nature and a pessimistic view. Second, if you want something skeptical to read along these lines how about the following:

    BC Article 24

    “In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through his grace that he crowns his gifts. Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them.”

    Even our works done in faith are “polluted by the flesh.”

    HBC Q/A 62

    “But why cannot our good works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?

    Answer. Because, that the righteousness, which can be approved of before the tribunal of God, must be absolutely perfect, and in all respects conformable to the divine law; and also, that our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.”

    Our works are “imperfect and defiled with sin.”

    HBC Q/A 114

    “But can those who are converted to God perfectly keep these commandments?

    Answer: No: but even the holiest men, while in this life, have only a small beginning of this obedience; yet so, that with a sincere resolution they begin to live, not only according to some, but all the commandments of God.”

    Even the holiest amongst us only make but a small beginning.

    WCF, XIII (Of Sanctification)

    “II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”

    Unless we want to say words like “polluted, filthy rags, corruption, defiled” are merely polite ways of saying we’re not perfect instead of realistic Calvinistic commentary on the reality of sin, what in any of this inspires the idea that we are less sinful than not? The missing piece from the theonomists is a sober and skeptical understanding of human sin and human potential. They vacillate between having virtually no doctrine of total depravity and a doctrine of utter depravity. All sinners seem to need is the right book to construct the right laws and they can more or less circumvent the effects of sin.

  616. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:38 am

    Doug (#612): Love that carol, but it does wrest passages from their context, making it easy to construe them in many possible ways.

  617. Doug Sowers said,

    February 22, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Zrim says: And I am interacting with your main point, which apparently is that we should care at least as much about the state of the world as the state of the church. But I am rejecting that premise, as in we should care more about what goes on in our own homes than what goes on in our neighbor’s house. Have you ever heard of being a busy-body?

    Me: Zrim I was not insinuating that I care more about the Nation, than I do