If Theonomy, Then No Machen (or United States)

The folks who lament the decadence of the contemporary West most (who also happen to be some of the biggest whiners about 2k) seem to think that a return to God’s law in the United States would fix our social and political woes. Aside from the problem of finding unregenerate citizens who will follow God’s law, these law lovers do not grasp a fundamental point of U.S. legal and political life (and this may explain why the so-called Religious Right is so easily ridiculed).

For Americans, as well as the Brits before them, law is not simply the embodiment of God’s moral standards. Laws against stealing and perjury do, of course, reflect God’s righteousness. But legal documents like the venerated Constitution are not primarily about morality. They are primarily procedural. Such laws place limits on government. The Constitution, for instance, prescribes and limits the powers of each branch of the federal government. Such restraints are at the heart of the Anglo-American notion of liberty, namely, the idea that people need to be protected from arbitrary and despotic power. To enjoy a life free from a potentially coercive government, we as a people drew up a body of laws that were designed not to constrain the actions of individuals but to prescribe the power of the magistrate. Placing limits on the government for the sake of civil and religious liberties is at the heart of libertarianism and is a major theme in J. Gresham Machen’s thought and political activities. (Whether or not he was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, he was sympathetic to the ACLU, a sympathy that would drive the likes of Doug Wilson and Greg Bahnsen batty).

Those who want more of God’s law in public life do not appear to understand this basic aspect of civil society in the U.S. They seem to think that if God’s moral standards are on their side, they have the power, duty, and right to make sure that the rest of Americans know that they are deserving God’s wrath. They also apparently believe they have responsibility to condemn the state if it fails to enforce God’s law, hence the double-down point about the magistrate’s duty to require observance of both tables of the law.

That argument about both tables of the law is almost entirely at odds with the American notion that law restrains government from exercising power unspecified in the Constitution. It also runs up against the legal tradition of assuming an accused citizen’s innocence until proven guilty. Just because we “know” someone broke the law doesn’t mean that district attorneys and police are free from following the laws that keep us from being a police state. In fact, the appeal to God’s law by some culture warriors has the flavor of vigilantism, that is, taking the law into their own hands. The problem for theonomists and other moral breast beaters is not simply that they don’t have power to execute God’s law. They also don’t seem to understand that the “rule of law” as we understand it in the United States actually prevents government from enforcing a whole host of laws, including God’s.

Even Presbyterian books of discipline reflect this other rule of law — not the embodiment of God’s morality but the protection from arbitrary power. The OPC’s book ensures that those accused will receive a hearing and not be found guilty of violating God’s law simply on the basis of an individual’s complaint:

3. Every charge of an offense must: (a) be in written form, (b) set forth the alleged offense, (c) set forth only one alleged offense, (d) set forth references to applicable portions of the Word of God, (e) set forth, where pertinent, references to applicable portions of the confessional standards, (f) set forth the serious character of the offense which would demonstrate the warrant for a trial.

Each specification of the facts relied upon to sustain the charge must: (a) be in written form, (b) declare as far as possible, the time, place, and circumstances of the alleged offense, (c) be accompanied with the names of any witnesses and the titles of documents, records, and recordings to be produced.

4. Offenses are either public or private. Public offenses are those which are commonly known. Private offenses are those which are known to an individual only, or, at most, to a very few individuals. Private offenses may or may not be personal, a personal private offense being one which involves injury to the person bringing the charge.

5. No charge of a personal private offense shall be admitted unless the judicatory has assured itself that the person bringing the charge has faithfully followed the course set forth in Matthew 18:15-17; nor shall a charge of a private offense which is not personal be admitted unless it appears that the plaintiff has first done his utmost privately to restore the alleged offender. However, even in the case of public offenses, it is not wrong to seek reconciliation in terms of Matthew 18:15-17 or Matthew 5:21-26 or Galatians 6:1. (chapter 3)

Maybe the Anglo-American tradition of law and constitutional liberties is wrong (though it finds expression in Presbyterian government). Maybe the West if fundamentally flawed and should follow political patterns and traditions established by the Persians and Turks. Or maybe theonoomy and the original Reformed confessions’ teachings about the magistrate lost when the Reformed and Presbyterian churches embraced the politics associated with a certain eighteenth-century republic founded in North America.

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311 thoughts on “If Theonomy, Then No Machen (or United States)

  1. Maybe the West if fundamentally flawed and should follow political patterns and traditions established by the Persians and Turks.

    I thought Theonomists chose this option.

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  2. The founders of our nation and the framers of the Constitution were not about setting up enforcements for a more righteous society, but for a more free society.

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  3. Darryl,

    I understand your point and agree that theonomy specifically and theocracy more generally is at odds with the American constitutional, republican tradition but, for the sake of clarity, you do want the magistrate to enforce creational/natural law, right? That law is God’s law. What you don’t want is the magistrate enforcing the first table of the decalogue and the 613 mitzvoth, right? When the magistrate enforces the law against murder, he’s enforcing God’s law.

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  4. DGH, as the loyal theonomist at Old Life, I have said on more than one occasion, that theonomy is impossible with a fragmented church. We can’t even agree on what constitutes idolatry! As much as it pains me to agree with Scott Clark, he’s right! The church is not of one mind on how to approach the Lord’s day. Can a christian play in the NFL and walk in God’s blessing? What would be considered public blasphemy? Clark and I may have two different ideas! And we sure don’t want one denomination slaughtering all the others. I’ve heard it said, that Scott Clark doesn’t consider Reformed Baptists a true christian church. Can you imagine what would happen if I talked Clark into theonomy, and he was in charge? Richard Smith, would be the first man to go, God forbid!!

    Until *we* get our act together in the unity of the true knowledge of Christ, enforcing God’s law on the first table is a moot point.

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  5. One wonders whether the Christian right has an adequate conception of liberty. Perhaps a combination of things, like aversion to natural law and a rigid “if the ACLU is for, I’m agin” has gotten us to this point. However we got here, though, most of the rhetoric is in support of increased governmental coercion of various kinds, Well,yes, there is a religious liberty recognized but one wonders how much it would shrink if there was a governmental takeover by the religious right.

    One also wonders if we need to come clean on Calvin’s Geneva to develop an adequate conception of liberty. That was a city, after all, that regulated the names of children, punished citizens for not attending weekday sermons, and punished for various statements uttered in small group settings. These and other aspects of its regulation fall short of the confessional idea of liberty of conscience not to mention civil liberties of today that we take for granted.

    Then there’s a degree of uncertainty that is helpful for liberty. The man in power who “knows” he is doing the exact will of God, believing he is freed from doubt, is a dangerous man who will soon be a tyrant. So give me a bumbling leftist government over a theonomic government. Please.

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  6. Scott,

    Of course, the magistrate does not criminally punish all violations of natural law. We generally only punish those violations that bring harm onto others without their consent, and, then, only when the violator possessed a certain mental state. That explains why we don’t punish those who make and distibute adult pornography, even though it may be against God’s law and natural law.

    I wouldn’t define this as procedural. It’s substantive. But the key is the consent of the victim, not whether the activity is consistent with God’s law or nature’s law, at least insofar as the Anglo-American legal tradition is concerned.

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  7. R. Scott Clark: Darryl, I understand your point and agree that theonomy specifically and theocracy more generally is at odds with the American constitutional, republican tradition but, for the sake of clarity, you do want the magistrate to enforce creational/natural law, right? That law is God’s law. What you don’t want is the magistrate enforcing the first table of the decalogue and the 613 mitzvoth, right? When the magistrate enforces the law against murder, he’s enforcing God’s law.

    RS: Which does not deal with the issue of a nation having a Constitution that is at odds with the laws of the Creator who commands all people to love Him with all of their being. The RPCNA believes that our Constitution is an act of disobedience because it ignores King Jesus.

    Doug Sowers: I’ve heard it said, that Scott Clark doesn’t consider Reformed Baptists a true christian church.

    RS: Which is the same thing as saying that one is saved by Presbyterianism alone? I thought the Bible taught that all that believed in Christ and Christ dwelled in were part of the Church. Maybe I am mistaken, but that sure sounds like something the former Popes might say.

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  8. Darryl, you keep writing articles like this and you are going to get your “sermons” pulled for TGC.

    mikelmann, the Christian right has zero concept of liberty. The problem, as you point out, is an aversion to natural law. Not only that, even if they do have some notion of natural law, they have no framework of how to apply natural law to the state. It becomes a jumbled mess of “keep your government hands off my medicare” and demands for government funded nativity scenes.

    I would recommend a reading of Lysander Spooner’s “Vices Are Not Crimes” for an understanding of natural law in regards to the state, but the fact that he’s not a Christian and is the dreaded L-word will get you tarred and feathered in most center-right Christian circles.

    http://www.lysanderspooner.org/VicesAreNotCrimes.htm

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  9. Lewis and company; you’re great at telling us legalistic slobs, that we haven’t a clue to what Christian liberty is, so why don’t you enlighten us? What is Christian liberty, Mr. Smarty pants? Give us the boundaries of true Christian liberty.

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  10. Richard, I didn’t say Reformed Baptists are not a true Christian Chruch, that would be Dr Scott Clark. You know, the guy who derisively referred to Dr.Greg Bahnsen as “Rabbi Greg”. Yet lacked the manhood to debate him in public, that guy.

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  11. Doug, that sounds humble and all, but theonomy is actually impossible because Christ has fulfilled all the OT judicial codes. Why does theonomy work to resurrect what Jesus has put to death? And when it portrays the problem as owing to the church’s obedience it only shows it works-righteousness streak.

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  12. Doug, liberty would be what the Abstract of New England law is not. Did you see this part: “11. Profaning of the Lord’s day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death.”
    They would have executed you.

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  13. Zrim opines Doug, that sounds humble and all, but theonomy is actually impossible because Christ has fulfilled all the OT judicial codes.

    Stupid is, as stupid does. I guess according to Zrim, we shouldn’t punish crime at all since Jesus fulfilled the judicial codes, let the prisoners go free! Murderers? Go free! Jesus fulfilled your punishment! Child Molesters? Go free! Jesus fulfilled the judicial codes, yippeeee!

    Zrim you’ve said some inane things in times past, but this is a new low for you. Slap yourself out of it!

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  14. M&M, if I knew what was entailed in honoring the Lord’s day, and that scornfully neglecting that duty would warrant the DP, I think I would modify my behavior, wouldn’t you?

    The fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom, amen?

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  15. Erik volleys back: MM – “So give me a bumbling leftist government”

    Your wish is granted. Oh, wait. Were you talking about France?

    LOL! LOL! LOL! I knew there was a reason I loved Erik!

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  16. M&M opines Doug, liberty would be what the Abstract of New England law is not.

    Oh really? So liberty is the ability to violate God’s law?

    Me thinks you have confused liberty, which licence.

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  17. I need to take back my insult regarding Dr. Scott Clark’s “manhood”. I humbly apologize, it isn’t my place to judge this Christian mans courage. Sorry Dr. Clark, I got carried away.

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  18. Doug Sowers: Richard, I didn’t say Reformed Baptists are not a true Christian Chruch, that would be Dr Scott Clark.

    RS: Yes, I was clear on that, though evidently I was not clear that I was clear on it.

    True Christian liberty is the freedom to love and obey God. The “freedom” to sin is really to be in bondage to sin, but the freedom to love Christ is true freedom. We are either slaves of sin or slaves of Christ.

    Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

    James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
    26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
    27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

    1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

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  19. “M&M, if I knew what was entailed in honoring the Lord’s day, and that scornfully neglecting that duty would warrant the DP, I think I would modify my behavior, wouldn’t you?”

    Doug, the most likely scenario is that you would have a different view of the Lord’s Day than the government. So, with convictions about the Word of God that diverge from that of the magistrate, you would be beaten down into enough visible conformity so that you don’t get caught. Then you have a choice to make with respect to your children. Either you tell them the magistrate’s version of the Lord’s Day (against your conscience) or you give them your version and encourage them,also, to maintain mere outward conformity to magistrate’s version. But even if you give them the magsistrate’s version, you are no poker face so your kids can tell you don’t really mean it. Since their father, whom they respect, doesn’t really mean it, your kids make sneaky violations of the magistrate’s version of the Lord’s Day on a regular basis. You pray that your kids will not be caught, and overcompensate by being quite vociferous in promoting the magistrate’s version, which is not your version. So not only your actions but your speech has essentially been compelled under criminal law. And conscience? It’s irrelevant to the magistrate.

    How’s that theonomic utopia workin’ for ya?

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  20. Doug, when it comes to how the church is governed that’s exactly the program: prisoners and captives are set free indeed. But when it comes to the civil order, the state of Mississippi is a little more hard nosed. I want my pastors to dole out rigorous grace (not law) and my sheriffs an equally rigorous law (not grace). If that means my sheriff’s conception of how to dole out law is closer to your theonomic idea than mine, i.e. death for adulterous wives and recalcitrant kids, I can hold my nose and live with it because enduring less-than-ideal society and proximate justice is what conservative Christians do. You know, instead of blustering about the need for the Great Society.

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  21. Doug, ok, you’ve retracted the assault on Dr Clark’s courage, but can you back up a reference to Dr Clark refusing to debate Dr Bahnsen? I’m not sure there was such a challenge. Greg Bahnsen went to the Lord in 1995. That was 2 years before Clark started at Westminster.

    When did this non-debate not happen? When would it have happened.

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  22. M&M, my Pastor was raised in the RNC, and is about 52 years of age. When he was young, his family prepared there food on Saturday, usually in a Crock Pot, and spent a quiet day at home, after church. It was a day of reverence, no visiting friends, no watching TV. A day to celebrate all that God has done. Whats wrong with that? Sunday for his family was a beautiful quiet day of prayer in the sixties and seventies.

    I don’t see how that behavior would get anyone killed in New England. Just curious, why would you say I would be executed?

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  23. Jeff, you mean my impassioned argument on behalf of Doug that he should have a civil right to be wrong about the Lord’s Day? Do with it as you wish. I keep on looking at my watch wondering when Doug will thank me for it.

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  24. Someone with the proper exegetical skills needs to do a study on “kareth” (cutting-off or excommunication) in the OT and what can be learned from that regarding church discipline and sanctions. Once that is done thoroughly it will be clearer what can be learned from the OT laws respecting civil matters in this New Testament age.

    “Kareth” sometimes involved temporary shunning or exclusion, some kind of judgement by God, or the death penalty itself.

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  25. Doug, first you say “I think I would modify my behavior,” clearly implying that there is a gap between your observance and the one demanded in Puritan New England. Then you tell me about how your pastor observed the Lord’s Day when he was young, You conclude with the non sequitur “why would you say I would be executed?” Given the structure of what you have written here, I advise you against representing yourself when a theonomist goverment charges you with a crime. I’ll represent you if they don’t execute me for something first.

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  26. A couple more laws from Puritan New England:

    13. Unreverend and dishonorable carriage to magistrates, to be punished with banishment for a time, till they acknowledge their fault and profess reformation.

    14. Reviling of the magistrates in highest rank amongst us, to wit, of the governors and council, to be punished with death. I Kings 2:8, 9, & 46.

    Again,be careful what you wish for, Doug. Have you ever reviled President Obama?

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  27. M&M: Theonomy 101: you don’t punish retroactively. Full disclosure: I wasn’t raised in the fear of the Lord! My Dad was not a believer; I was allowed to play hooky from church a few times a year with my Dad and go to Raider and 49er games. And when I came home from my Baptist church I wasn’t taught that Sunday was any different than any other day. I went out and played with the kids in my neighborhood.

    The reason I brought up my Pastor, was to show how a family, even in our very recent past could live quite comfortably in New England regarding the Lord’s Day and not worry about execution. I think we are sheep; and most of our perceptions of cultural rights and wrongs are based on how we are taught and trained. And I’m not even implying that New England was a panacea, but I’d take there laws over ours in a New York second. Why? They honored and feared God!

    Moreover, I don’t simplistically think all America needs is a good dose of theonomy to snap us back in line. I have always believed this is an issue for the body of Christ, first and foremost. God changes from within, and judges his house first. Ouch! What does that tell you about us? When *we* are corporately unified, no weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. On the other hand, Jesus solemnly warned, that if we lose our saltiness, we will only be good for being stepped on by the foot of the Gentiles.

    Isn’t that what’s happening? Who has more clout in the public square today, Planned Parenthood, or the Church? Is it even close? Isn’t the criticizing of sodomite behavior considered hate speech? How could a nation first founded at Plymouth Rock lose its moral bearings in a few generations? See Jesus warning above, and read the old testament. History may not repeat itself, but it rhymes.

    I have no allusions that America is ready to embrace theonomic values at this moment. But I pray and truly believe the day is coming when we will. If it’s happened before, (New England) then why can’t it happen again? Is God’s arm too weak? Is his arm stuck in his sleeve? Is God unable to turn the heart of our nation around? All one need do, is open the Bible and read, and then pray the Lord’s Prayer in faith. If *we* collectively had faith like a tiny mustard seed, we could move mountains. Queer Nation would melt like the wicked witch of the west, and sneak off to a hole in the corner.

    My problem with R2K is that it mocks God’s written moral standards for society. Some R2K guys sound like the scoffers mentioned in the first Psalm, and that’s not good.

    To quote a movie: “Houston *we* have a problem.”

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  28. Doug, you give with one hand what you take away in spades with another. You say you don’t think theonomy will cure the nation’s ills, but then you go on to invoke the usual Christian right rhetoric about how things were once so lovely in ‘merica when God’s law covered the land, topped with the standard whining about not having enough cultural clout, stolen away by those usual nasty suspects (why do I get the feeling you read a lot of Frank Peretti?), rounded off with a finger in the eye of those who advise caution against treating God’s law like a Ouji board and an assessment of the human condition that is more sophomoric than Calvinist.

    …Where’s the Tylenol?

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  29. Doug: My problem with R2K is that it mocks God’s written moral standards for society.

    Actually, 2k of any sort does not mock. It denies. It denies that using the judicial law of Israel as the judicial law for non-Israel is a valid use of the Law.

    Thus Calvin. First,

    15. The moral law, then (to begin with it), being contained under two heads, the one of which simply enjoins us to worship God with pure faith and piety, the other to embrace men with sincere affection, is the true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all nations and of all times, who would frame their life agreeably to the will of God. For his eternal and immutable will is, that we are all to worship him and mutually love one another … The judicial law, given them as a kind of polity, delivered certain forms of equity and justice, by which they might live together innocently and quietly…Those barbarous and savage laws, for instance, which conferred honour on thieves, allowed the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, and other things even fouler and more absurd, I do not think entitled to be considered as laws, since they are not only altogether abhorrent to justice, but to humanity and civilised life.

    — Calv Inst 4.20.15.

    Everybody in this room will affirm this. Then,

    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 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. Now, as it is evident that the law of God which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other (August. de Civit. Dei, Lib. 19 c. 17). The law of God forbids to steal. The punishment appointed for theft in the civil polity of the Jews may be seen in Exodus 22. Very ancient laws of other nations punished theft by exacting the double of what was stolen, while subsequent laws made a distinction between theft manifest and not manifest. Other laws went the length of punishing with exile, or with branding, while others made the punishment capital. Among the Jews, the punishment of the false witness was to “do unto him as he had thought to have done 5with his brother” (Deut. 19:19). In some countries, the punishment is infamy, in others hanging, in others crucifixion. All laws alike avenge murder with blood, but the kinds of death are different. In some countries, adultery was punished more severely, in others more leniently. Yet we see that amidst this diversity they all tend to the same end. For they all with one mouth declare against those crimes which are condemned by the eternal law of God—viz. murder, theft, adultery, and false witness; though they agree not as to the mode of punishment. This is not necessary, nor even expedient. There may be a country which, if murder were not visited with fearful punishments, would instantly become a prey to robbery and slaughter. There may be an age requiring that the severity of punishments should be increased. If the state is in troubled condition, those things from which disturbances usually arise must be corrected by new edicts. In time of war, civilisation would disappear amid the noise of arms, were not men overawed by an unwonted severity of punishment. In sterility, in pestilence, were not stricter discipline employed, all things would grow worse. One nation might be more prone to a particular vice, were it not most severely repressed. How malignant were it, and invidious of the public good, to be offended at this diversity, which is admirably adapted to retain the observance of the divine law. 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.

    — Calv Inst 4.20.16.

    Everybody in this room, except for you (!!), affirms this also. Now, we don’t all agree with one another. I think (and it seems that R.Scott Clark thinks as well) that the natural law and the second table of the law are synonymous and should be used interchangeably. Zrim thinks that since they are synonymous, there’s no point in promulgating the second table explicitly.

    And we give each other grief over that. 🙂

    But the key point is to understand that the judicial penalties of Israel are not in force for other nations. This a basic part of Reformed theology, and Calvin would say of Bahnsen, How malignant were it, and invidious of the public good, to be offended at this diversity, which is admirably adapted to retain the observance of the divine law.

    It is a malignant thing, leading to unnecessary suspicion of antinomianism on the part of others, to insist that “if it was just in Israel, it is just everywhere.” That’s a false premise, not found in Scripture.

    It is a malignant thing, leading to Colossianism, to insist that if the laws of society were framed according to the Law of God, then our society would be more just. The Law of God does not create justice, it demands it.

    We already have laws against theft. But people don’t obey them. They even find legal ways to circumvent the property rights of others.

    The Puritans had laws against murder. That didn’t prevent people from leveraging the judicial system in Salem to arrange for the (legal!) deaths of people they didn’t like on charges of witchcraft. The law did not change the heart.

    The Law of God goes to the heart, it judges the thoughts and motives of the heart. It is the sword of the Spirit, not the sword of the magistrate. To use it as a tool for reforming society is to misuse it.

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  30. Jeff,

    That was good.

    As Christians we might have a beef against our government that not only do we not punish adultery as Israel did, we don’t punish it at all. This is because Natural Law has been trumped by the notion of “sexual freedom” as perhaps the highest good in our land. If adultery causes divorce which causes unstable families wihich causes an increase in the welfare rolls, well, that’s just a price that has to be paid by society so we can maintain our freedom to have sex with who we want when we want, regardless of whether they are married or not. Abortion on demand is another consequence of sexual freedom as the highest good. The time when our country began to go nuts sexually was the late 60’s/early 70s, when the Baby Boomers were coming of age. We have lived with the consequences ever since.

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  31. It’s interesting how even though the “death penalty” may not be administered by the state for an offense, it is still administered as a natural consequence of ignoring natural law. The West is slowly dying as a result of ignoring natural law. They are turning away from Christianity, they are turning away from heterosexual marriage, they are turning away from childbearing, they are dying off — a communal, long-term suicide attempt. The U.S. has been behind Europe in this trend, but the question of whether it will follow or diverge is THE question in the culture war.

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  32. Erik:

    But I’m under a King that declares adultery to include thinking about the act. Not sure who is going to swear on a stack of Bibles that they are pure of that charge all their life.

    Also, through professional work to try and resolve the effects of adultery (divorce), I often hypothesize whether a jail term would be preferred to going through the endless parade of resolving the matter (as we do in North America.)

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  33. For crimes like adultery I would be content with the offender having to pay the cost of their offense (in monetary terms). I am o.k. leaving other punishments for judgment day. A welfare state allows people to shift the cost to everyone else. I read yesterday that a senator did a 23 hour fillabuster back in 1981 when our national debt reached $1 trillion. Today its between $16-$17 trillion. That sounds like the symptom of a national suicide attempt to me. My theory is that liberal secularists have a death wish and that sexual expression is the only comfort they find, so that trumps all.

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  34. Jeff, do you know what theonomy is? Calvin was for the DP for adultrey, sodomy, rape, child molestation, idolatry and blasphemy based on his understanding of God’s Word. Yikes! And no one can deny this! That is theonomy 101!!

    BTW, I agee with Calvin’s quotes in the Institutes, not your interpratation of them. If you took the time to read Calvins work on Deuteronomy you couldn’t say what you just said, with a straight face.

    What’s confuses many folks is that Calvin is quite often railing against the anabaptist position on the law, (as am I) not theonomy! And it confuses good men like yourself. Do you think Kline was confursed to lament that Calvin was a thenomist? He has read more Calvin, you or Kline? How about Kline complaining that the WCF was a theonomic document? Kline is loath to confess that 19.4 is not against theonomy! This puts a stick in the spokes of your weel, so to speak. Jeff, you need to read more Calvin! Because either Calvin hopelessley contradicted himself, (and is a nit wit) or there is a better explaination.

    Set the Institutes down for a second, and ask yourself HOW Calvin could be FOR each and every punishment that Greg Bahnsen espoused in Theonomy in Christian Ethics, and yet not be a theonomist? You need to be consistent Jeff, and right now you’re not! Once you read more of Calvin a light will blink on! But now? You havent a leg to stand on.

    I have read more than just Calvins’ Institutes so I know your wrong. Kline said your wrong, and he hated theonomy! I’m not near my books today or I could show you some undenable quotes from Calvin that make it obvious how he felt. Better yet, read Martin Bucer, Calvin’s mentor, he makes it obvious where he stands. Read the abstract of the laws of New England. Theonomic to the bone! I’m not saying you must agree with theonomy, but you may not change history. Calvin embraced the basic tennants of theonomy. Your understanding of Calvin, is like a Christian who only has the book of James. You get yourself in BIG trouble. We both know we need to embrace all 66 books to really understand the truth. The same is true with you and Calvin.

    Perhaps I will paste a few Calvin quotes a little later.

    My Calvin quotes are far more explicit, and clear than your quotes in his Institutes.

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  35. Doug, perhaps you have in mind this:

    For this expression, “for our good,” is equivalent to saying that God not only had respect and care for His own rights in enacting the Law, but at the same time regarded what would be useful to them; and this he more clearly states in the next verse, where he says that “this shall be their righteousness if they observe” the Law; otherwise, that the rule of a righteous life, which would please God, was prescribed to them, than which nothing better could be desired. But it will be elsewhere shewn at greater length how the keeping of the Law is in itself righteousness, and yet that no man is justified by the Law; for, that the Law brings only wrath and condemnation, does not arise from any defect or faultiness in its doctrine, but must be imputed to our own guilt, as being far removed, nay, aliens from the righteousness which it contains. Calv Comm Deut 6.20-25

    or this:

    The hope of eternal life is, therefore, given to all who keep the Law; for those who expound the passage as referring to this earthly and transitory life are mistaken. 195 The cause of this error was, because they feared that thus the righteousness of faith might be subverted, and salvation grounded on the merit of works. But Scripture does not therefore deny that men are justified by works, because the Law itself is imperfect, or does not give instructions for perfect righteousness; but because the promise is made of none effect by our corruption and sin. Paul, therefore, as I have just said, when he teaches that righteousness is to be sought for in the grace of Christ by faith, (Romans 10:4,) proves his statement by this argument, that none is justified who has not fulfilled what the Law commands. Elsewhere also he reasons by contrast, where he contends that the Law does not accord with faith as regards the cause of justification, because the Law requires works for the attainment of salvation, whilst faith directs us to Christ, that we may be delivered from the curse of the Law. Foolishly, then, do some reject as an absurdity the statement, that if a man fulfills the Law he attains to righteousness; for the defect does not arise from the doctrine of the Law, but from the infirmity of men, as is plain from another testimony given by Paul. (Romans 8:3.) We must observe, however, that salvation is not to be expected from the Law unless its precepts be in every respect complied with; for life is not promised to one who shall have done this thing, or that thing, but, by the plural word, full obedience is required of us. — ibid, Lev 18.5

    Oh, no. Those were the passages in which Calvin sets forth the works principle found in the Law. Sorry.

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  36. Maybe this whole American experiment is about answering the question of whether or not sinful, depraved human beings can sustain freedom and liberty without their sin eventually destroying them through bankruptcy. At the point they go bankrupt a tyrant takes over, and the logical form of government for sinful man is restored.

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  37. More Calvin:

    In short, let us no more wonder that the Israelites were only attracted and alarmed by temporal rewards and punishments, than that the land of Canaan was to them a symbol of their eternal inheritance, in which, nevertheless, they confessed themselves strangers and pilgrims; from whence the Apostle correctly concludes, that they desired a better country. (Genesis 47:9; Psalm 39:12; Hebrews 11:16.) And thus the wild absurdity of those is refuted, who suppose that the Fathers were contented with perishable felicity, as if God merely gorged them in a tavern. Still the distinction which I have noted remains, that God manifested Himself more fully as a Father and Judge by temporal blessings and punishments than since the promulgation of the Gospel. — Lev 26.3

    The restriction of the recompense, which is here mentioned, to this earthly and transitory life, is a part of the elementary instruction of the Law; for, just as the spiritual grace of God was represented to the ancient people by shadows and images, so also the same principle applied also both to rewards and punishments…. God for the most part shewed forth by external proofs that He was favorably disposed to His people or offended with them. Because now-a-days God does not openly take vengeance on sins as of old, fanatics infer that He has almost changed His nature; nay, on this pretense, the Manicheans imagined that the God of Israel was different from ours. But this error springs from gross and disgraceful ignorance; for, by not distinguishing His different modes of dealing, they do not hesitate impiously to cut God Himself in two. The earth does not now cleave asunder to swallow up the rebellious: God does not now thunder from heaven as against Sodom: He does not now send fire upon wicked cities as He did in the Israelitish camp: fiery serpents are not sent forth to inflict deadly bites: in a word, such manifest instances of punishment are not daily presented before our eyes to make God terrible to us; and for this reason, because the voice of the Gospel sounds much more clearly in our ears, like the sound of a trumpet, whereby we are summoned to the heavenly tribunal of Christ. Let us then learn to tremble at that sentence, which banishes all the wicked from the kingdom of God. So, on the other hand, God does not appear, as of old, as the rewarder of His people by earthly blessings; and this because we “are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God;” because it becomes us to be conformed to our Head, and through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of heaven. — ibid.

    Note that not distinguishing between God’s modes of dealings is termed a “Manichean” error.

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  38. Doug,

    I think Jeff’s point is that Calvin is not necessarily against strong punishments for the crimes you cite. They just don’t have to be identical to what Israel had.

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  39. Yeah Jeff. This is 101. Never mind your Calvin quotes, they’re lame. Go read some more. Get back to us when you’ve got it harmonized. Try some Laphroaig. She’s a wonder.

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  40. Still more Calvin: But, although it be not conceded to all to elect their judges, because God honored His chosen people with this prerogative, still he here recommends in general a regular government, since He signifies that human society cannot hold together unless the lawful rulers have authority to execute justice. — Deut 16.18.

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  41. But in all seriousness, Doug, consider this:

    This cause impelled the Gentiles, even before the Law, to punish adultery with severity, as clearly appears from the history of Judah and Tamar. (Genesis 38:14.) Nay, by the universal law of the Gentiles, the punishment of death was always awarded to adultery; wherefore it is all the baser and more shameful in Christians not to imitate at least the heathen. Adultery is punished no less severely by the Julian law 69 than by that of God; whilst those who boast themselves of the Christian name are so tender and remiss, that they visit this execrable offense with a very light reproof. And lest they should abrogate God’s law without a pretext, they allege the example of Christ, who dismissed the woman taken in adultery, whereas she ought to have been stoned; just as He withdrew Himself into a mountain that He might not be made a king by the multitude. (John 8:11, and 6:15.) For if we consider what the office was which the Father delegated to His only-begotten Son, we shall not be surprised that He was content with the limits of His vocation, and did not discharge the duties of a Judge. But those who have been invested with the sword for the correction of crime, have absurdly imitated His example, and thus their relaxation of the penalty has flowed from gross ignorance. — Calv Comm Deut 22.22

    Notice that Calvin here, as all throughout the Harmony of the Law commentary, compares the Law of God to the laws of other nations. He identifies the general equity of the Judicial Law by comparing it to universal laws of nations. He *does not*, in any place that I find, argue that “because this penalty was given to Israel, it must be given to all nations.”

    That’s precisely what Inst 4.20.16 is all about.

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  42. Now, here’s a question worth considering: In Calvin’s day, it really was the universal law of nations to, say, enact the death penalty for adultery.

    In our day, the opposite is the case.

    So this raises the important question: How does one “read” the natural law?

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  43. “So this raises the important question: How does one “read” the natural law?”

    Jeff,

    Great stuff! Who would have thought you would become such an ardent defender of 2K against the theonomic empire? You will soon be a full Jedi. Now if you just let go and receive Meredith Kline into your heart you will have been fully delivered from the dark side.

    As to your question, I don’t think it is right to say that magistrates are to read natural law, in that natural law is already inside them via the Imago Dei. And while natural law informs the mind and conscience of right and wrong, it does not inform the magistrate which wrongs to punish, and how. Why punish murder, and not fornication or gluttony, when both are wrong? Wisdom would dictate what benefits society to punish and what does not, and even that changes somewhat based on circumstances.

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  44. Doug, here’s a couple things you said:

    “M&M, if I knew what was entailed in honoring the Lord’s day, and that scornfully neglecting that duty would warrant the DP, I think I would modify my behavior, wouldn’t you?”

    “Theonomy 101: you don’t punish retroactively.” [WRT reviling Obama]

    Both of these give the distinct impression that you believe you would be more spiritual if there were criminal laws against certain sins. (BTW, I’m only picking on you to make a point here, not to suppose I have the moral high ground over you.) But if this is the case, what do you do with the confessional position that the Christian is “sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them”?

    Full disclosure: I wasn’t raised in the fear of the Lord! My Dad was not a believer; I was allowed to play hooky from church a few times a year with my Dad and go to Raider and 49er games. And when I came home from my Baptist church I wasn’t taught that Sunday was any different than any other day. I went out and played with the kids in my neighborhood.

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  45. Todd,

    Thanks. I’m still of the opinion that natural law and God’s Word are to be read together eather than separately (as indeed Calvin does in the Deut. Comm).

    That probably leaves me in noman’s land.

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  46. There are quotes of Calvin, and then there are “quotes”. This may give a little clarity to understanding what I was driving at with Calvin.

    “Then let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”

    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5

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  47. Doug,

    Thanks. Can you supply the context for the quote?

    That would help us understand what is meant by the phrase “this law.”

    Is he referring to Deut 13:15 in particular?

    Is he referring to the abiding equity of the entire command “destroy the town and everyone in it”, or of the principle of not suffering heretics to live?

    There’s much that remains unclear in that quote, and oddly enough I can’t find it online EXCEPT at ironink, excerpted exactly as here.

    So tell us what we may infer from this quote.

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  48. The Calvin quote from Deut. seems to be an example of the then Erasmian mindset of the 16th century reformers which subsequently the Church moved away from.

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  49. Franklin Hardy said,

    Speaking of Calvin,

    “For there are some who deny that a commonwealth is duly framed which neglects the political system of Moses, and is ruled by the common laws of nations. Let other men consider how perilous and seditious this notion is; it will be enough for me to have proved it false and foolish.”

    John Calvin

    This is a quote from Calvin that is repeatedly cited as proof that Calvin would have had no truck with Theonomy. However, this assertion needs to be examined in light of historical context. First, we need to keep in mind that if Calvin is really citing this against the abiding validity of the law then he is citing it against his friend and mentor Martin Bucer who wrote,

    “But since no one can desire an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in His law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over His people that follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.

    Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the Worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God (Dt. 13:6-10, and 17:2-5); for all who blaspheme the name of God and his solemn services (Lv. 24:15-16); who violate the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15, and 35:2; Num. 15:32-36); who rebelliously despise authority of parents and live their own life wickedly (Dt. 21:18-21); who are unwilling to submit to the sentence of supreme tribunal (Dt. 17:8-12); who have committed bloodshed (Ex. 21:12; Lv. 24:17, Dt. 19:11-13), adultery (Lv. 20:10), rape (Dt. 22:20-25), kidnapping (Dt. 24:17); who have given false testimony in a capital case (Dt. 19:16-21).”

    Martin Bucer
    16th century Magisterial Reformer
    The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties

    It kind of strains credulity that Calvin would have referred to Bucer’s position as “perilous and seditious.”

    So, if Calvin is not aiming at Bucer’s position that the Mosaic judicials have contemporary application for Commonwealths who might Calvin’s comments be aimed at? The answer to that doubtless are the Ana-Baptists. Calvin had a ongoing quarrel with the Ana-Baptists (who doesn’t?) as seen in his Institutes. The Ana-baptists likewise advocated for the Mosaic judicials but in a revolutionary manner. When you consider all the positives Calvin penned touching the judicials and the magistrate,

    …“But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God’s honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves…Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.”

    Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542

    Calvin’s pen seems pointed at the seditious and perilous Ana-baptists whose application of the judicials gave not Godly commonwealths but anarchistic Münsters. The initial quote by Calvin must not be taken out of context to prove something that puts it in contradiction w/ other things that Calvin wrote. What Calvin is doing, especially when one considers what he said elsewhere on this issue,

    “And for proof thereof, what is the cause that the heathen are so hardened in their own dotages? It is for that they never knew God’s Law, and therefore they never compared the truth with the untruth. But when God’s law come in place, then doth it appear that all the rest is but smoke insomuch that they which took themselves to be marvelous witty, are found to have been no better than besotted in their own beastliness.. This is apparent. Wherefore let us mark well, that to discern that there is nothing but vanity in all worldly devices, we must know the Laws and ordinances of God. But if we rest upon men’s laws, surely it is not possible for us to judge rightly. Then must we need to first go to God’s school, and that will show us that when we have once profited under Him, it will be enough. That is all our perfection. And on the other side, we may despise all that is ever invented by man, seeing there is nothing but *fondness and uncertainty in them. And that is the cause why Moses terms them rightful ordinances. As if he should say, it is true indeed that other people have store of Laws: but there is no right all all in them, all is awry, all is crooked.”

    * fondness = foolishness, weakness, want of sense and judgment

    John Calvin
    Sermons on Deuteronomy, sermon 21 on Deut. 4:6-9

    “The let us not think that this Law is a special Law for the Jews; but let us understand that God intended to deliver us a general rule, to which we must yield ourselves … Since, it is so, it is to be concluded, not only that it is lawful for all kings and magistrates, to punish heretics and such as have perverted the pure truth; but also that they be bound to do it, and that they misbehave themselves towards God, if they suffer errors to rest without redress, and employ not their whole power to shew greater zeal in their behalf than in all other things.”

    John Calvin, Sermon on Deuteronomy, sermon 87 on Deuteronomy 13:5

    In a treatise against pacifistic Anabaptists who maintained a doctrine of the spirituality of the Church which abrogated the binding authority of the case law Calvin wrote,

    “They (the Anabaptists) will reply, possibly, that the civil government of the people of Israel was a figure of the spiritual kingdom of Jesus Christ and lasted only until his coming, I will admit to them that in part, it was a figure, but I deny that it was nothing more than this, and not without reason. For in itself it was a political government, which is a requirement among all people. That such is the case, it is written of the Levitical priesthood that it had to come to an end and be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus (Heb. 7:12ff) Where is it written that the same is true of the external order? It is true that the scepter and government were to come from the tribe of Judah and the house of David, but that the government was to cease is manifestly contrary to Scripture.”

    John Calvin
    Treatise against the Anabaptists and against the Libertines, pp. 78-79

    “But it is questioned whether the law pertains to the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual and distinct from all earthly dominion; and there are some men, not otherwise ill-disposed, to whom it appears that our condition under the Gospel is different from that of the ancient people under the law; not only because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but because Christ was unwilling that the beginnings of His kingdom should be aided by the sword. But, when human judges consecrate their work to the promotion of Christ’s kingdom, I deny that on that account its nature is changed. For, although it was Christ’s will that His Gospel should be proclaimed by His disciples in opposition to the power of the whole world, and He exposed them armed with the Word alone like sheep amongst the wolves, He did not impose on Himself an eternal law that He should never bring kings under His subjection, nor tame their violence, nor change them from being cruel persecutors into the patrons and guardians of His Church.”

    John Calvin
    Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses – p. 77.

    So, given the context of his times what Calvin seems to be doing in his literary methodological approach is that he writes against the Anabaptists who stressed the necessity to adopt the Mosaic judicials as a whole without making the necessary distinctions between the Mosaic judicials in toto and the general equity of the judicials. Once having done that Calvin embraces, for nations, what we would call the abiding “general equity” and insists that magistrates must have to do with the case law in their considerations.

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  50. Jeff, read these quotes carefuly and then tap out 😉

    I love you bro, but these quotes leave no doubt as to how they felt about the general equity of the written law of God. Do you see the Scriptural reasons for why Bucer felt these DP laws should be enforced?

    Or give me a thoughful answer, as to why Martin Bucer espoused theonomy. Yet were supposed to believe Calvin was againt it?

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  51. … the Erasmian mindset of the 16th century reformers – which mindset was one h*** of a hangover from 1000 years of Roman Christendom – which subsequently the Church moved away from, i.e. rejected… returning to the understanding held by the pre-Constantine church.

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  52. Zrim, I implore you to read Martn Bucer’s quotes very carefully. He makes a distinction that you havent been able to put your finger on, which is one reason why we talk past each other, so much. Let me illistrate:

    “For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.”

    In one sense we are freed from the civil demands of the Mosaic law in Chirst Jesus! But that’s not the end of the story. Both Calvin and Bucer speak of the abiding general equity, which is the same language we find in the WCF 19.4! This proves that the WCF did not abroagate theonomy, it upholds it!

    Zrim, regardless rather you’re willing to embrace theonomic convictions, (I can only hope) I wish you would stop accusing me of the absurd charge of contradicting WCF 19.4 and the more insulting accusation of making hay out of Christ’s saving work. Them are fighting words! Let’s stay in the conversation, and fight like Christians. I will try to curb my tongue as well.

    Oh,Zrim, notice Martin charges you with disrespecting God’s supreme wisdom, with your view of the law. I have felt that way for years, even before I knew who Martin Bucer was! This is one reasn why I get so jacked up when you get sarcastic, I take that as a direct slap to God’s face. Now I realize you dont mean it that way, but since I hold that persepctive in my heart, please keep it in mind when we debate, thanks in advance!

    Keep pressing on!

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  53. Doug, I’m good.

    We are have a failure to communicate here, which might well be my fault. The last paragraph of your cite runs,

    …what Calvin seems to be doing in his literary methodological approach is that he writes (1) against the Anabaptists who stressed the necessity to adopt the Mosaic judicials as a whole without making the necessary distinctions between the Mosaic judicials in toto and the general equity of the judicials. (2) Once having done that Calvin embraces, for nations, what we would call the abiding “general equity” and (3) insists that magistrates must have to do with the case law in their considerations.

    Notice that (1) falls full force on the species of theonomy that insists on the necessity of adopting the Mosaic judicials as a whole. That has been one of my points throughout: the Mosaic judicial penalties are not binding on all.

    So (1) makes my point.

    Point (2) is precisely the confessional teaching, so there’s hardly a problem there.

    Now concerning point (3), the quote supplied doesn’t actually make the point. The citation is from Against the Anabaptists, and in that article, Calvin argues that it is (a) legitimate to be a magistrate and a Christian, and that (b) that the magistrate ought to be subject to Jesus as Lord and not as Savior only.

    There’s nothing there (that I saw) that speaks of magistrates “must having to do with the case law” in their decisions.

    Now here’s the part I don’t get. You say (1) Calvin and Bucer were theonomists and (2) that it is wrong to say that the judicial laws of Israel don’t apply to nations except for the general equity.

    But Calvin says (2). Then you argue he doesn’t, and produce quotes … which shows that he says (2).

    So what is your claim, exactly? When you say Calvin was a theonomist, what do you mean by that?

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  54. Doug, I don’t see how Bucer’s words overturn WCF 19.4. And with all your theonomic CPR to give life to what Jesus has put to death (as if), one has to wonder what exactly you think “To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now…” means. If theonomy is right then what gives with confessional language about judicial laws having been expired and none being obliged by them? Is that how a church speaks that wants to be clear that they are to be observed by magistrates?

    And I’ll return the plea to read carefully Kuyper:

    Does it follow, therefore, that the sooner we stop our observation of life the better, so that we can seek the rules of state polity outside life in Holy Scripture? This is how some mistakenly think that we reason…However, the opposite is true. Calvinism has never supported this untenable position but has always opposed it with might and main. A state polity that dismisses and scorns the observation of life and simply wishes to duplicate the situation of Israel, taking Holy Scripture as a complete code of Christian law for the state, would, according to the spiritual fathers of Calvinism, be the epitome of absurdity. Accordingly, in their opposition to Anabaptism as well as the Quakers, they expressed unreservedly their repugnance for this extremely dangerous and impractical theory.

    If we considered the political life of the nations as something unholy, unclean and wrong in itself, it would lie outside of human nature. Then the state would have to be seen as a purely external means of compulsion, and every attempt to discover even a trace of God’s ordinances in our own nature would be absurd. Only special revelation would then be capable of imparting to us the standards for that external means of discipline. Wherever, thus, this special revelation is absent, as in the heathen worlds, nothing but sin and distortion would prevail, which would therefore not even be worth the trouble of our observation…However, if we open the works of Calvin, Bullinger, Beza and Marnix van St. Aldegonde, it becomes obvious that Calvinism consciously chooses sides against this viewpoint. The experience of the states of antiquity, the practical wisdom of their laws, and the deep insight of their statesmen and philosophers is held in esteem by these men, and these are cited in support of their own affirmations and consciously related to the ordinances of God. The earnest intent of the political life of many nations can be explained in terms of the principles of justice and morality that spoke in their consciences. They cannot be explained simply as blindness brought on by the Evil One; on the contrary, in the excellence of their political efforts we encounter a divine ray of light…

    …with proper rights we contradict the argument that Holy Scripture should be seen as the source from which a knowledge of the best civil laws flow. The supporters of this potion talk as though after the Fall nature, human life, and history have ceased being a revelation of God and As though, with the closing of this book, another book, called Holy Scriptures, as opened for us. Calvinism has never defended this untenable position and will never acknowledge it as its own…We have refuted the notion that we entertain the foolish effort to patch together civil laws from Bible texts, and we have declared unconditionally that psychology, ethnology, history and statistics are also for us given which, by the light of God’s Word, must determine the standards for the state polity.

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  55. Doug, you can quote the theocratic Calvin until you’re blue in the brain, but the church has decided he was wrong–that’s the advantage of being Reformed. But here is more Kuyper, this time on the magistrate in relation to enforcing true religion:

    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 wish 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.

    The question that remains for you is whether you have the chutzpah to deny the name Reformed if to be Reformed means to side with Kuyper over Calvin et al. The revisions of the WCF 23 and Belgic 36 so sided.

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  56. D. G. Hart: Doug, are you going to acknowledge that Rome and Istanbul were also theonomic?

    RS: While your point is made in a sense, yet it is also true that the “theos” in “theonomic” is far different in Rome and Instabul than the THEOS of the Bible.

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  57. RS: that’s precisely the point. We can’t guarantee the orthodoxy of the magistrate. Hence, we should not give him spiritual authority.

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  58. Richard, actually it’s more of a distinction, and it’s one without a difference. Sort of like revival and revivalism.

    PS, Babylonian King Cyrus repatriated displaced people and restored temples and cult sanctuaries of deported peoples (including the Jews) across Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the region. And the Bible praises him.

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  59. Jeff says “Notice that (1) falls full force on the species of theonomy that insists on the necessity of adopting the Mosaic judicials as a whole. That has been one of my points throughout: the Mosaic judicial penalties are not binding on all.”

    Wrong-O! Theonomy recognized many discontinuities! Bahnsen has 78 pages of discontinuities in “Theonomy In Christian Ethics” Bucer gives the WCF 19.4 blueprint when he says;

    “For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.”

    This was one of Greg Bahnsen’s main points!

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  60. Jeff, there is a lot of meat left on the bone, up above. This isnt just a trifle, meditate on this:

    “And for proof thereof, what is the cause that the heathen are so hardened in their own dotages? It is for that they never knew God’s Law, and therefore they never compared the truth with the untruth. But when God’s law come in place, then doth it appear that all the rest is but smoke insomuch that they which took themselves to be marvelous witty, are found to have been no better than besotted in their own beastliness.. This is apparent. Wherefore let us mark well, that to discern that there is nothing but vanity in all worldly devices, we must know the Laws and ordinances of God. But if we rest upon men’s laws, surely it is not possible for us to judge rightly. Then must we need to first go to God’s school, and that will show us that when we have once profited under Him, it will be enough. That is all our perfection. And on the other side, we may despise all that is ever invented by man, seeing there is nothing but *fondness and uncertainty in them. And that is the cause why Moses terms them rightful ordinances. As if he should say, it is true indeed that other people have store of Laws: but there is no right all all in them, all is awry, all is crooked.”

    * fondness = foolishness, weakness, want of sense and judgment

    Let me summorize Calvin, it either theonomy or autonomy! Law based on man’s opinion are called (pro gay lawls) seem wise to wicked man but are foolish according Calvin. If society is going to last, it must be based on “God’s school” which is just another way of saying “theonomy”. Wicked laws are like smoke according to Calvin. Greg Bahnsensaid the same thing in TICE.

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  61. Zrim, quit chasing your own tail! We arent discussing Kuper; you only muddy the waters with side issues that are not on the table.

    It’s impossible for a true christian to be persecuted by God’s own law, properly carried out. Unless say I commit a murder, even if I’m a christian, I stil deserve to die.

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  62. Doug, if you want to claim a theonomy that does not adopt the Mosaic judicials as a whole, then by all means. Nevertheless, my point stands: (1) is opposed to the species of theonomy that adopts the Mosaic judicials as a whole.

    Meanwhile the more important issue is unanswered: what do you mean by the word “theonomy”?

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  63. Jeff says: RS: that’s precisely the point. We can’t guarantee the orthodoxy of the magistrate. Hence, we should not give him spiritual authority.

    Jeff, the magistrate already has God given authroity! He’s called a minister of God by Paul!. So the question is, by what standard should the Magistrate punish crime? Will he use autonomous reasoning like many advocate today? I’m thinking of DGH. Or should the Magistrate punish evil doers like God commands in his law? What should our society do with a kidnapper? Shall we give him a slap on the wrist, and tell him no no? Shall we throw him in jail and give him adult time out? Or should he be put to death? Calvin calls “mans” way foolishness and smoke, where theonomy exhibits God’s wisdom for socio political justice. Surely you agree that God knows the right punishment for a certain crime.

    Finally, under R2K’s scheme how could we hold a Magistrate to account without a written standard we can appeal too? Especially in a nation like ours that wants our imput? What if a Magistrate says he’s following Natural law, but wants man boy love to be legal? What could an R2K man say to such a fool? Nothing! Zrim couldnt say a darn thing. Where as with theonomy we can pray for the right standards, and if God gives us influence we can direct people’s attention to God’s written law. We have a sure Rock, for certain crimes that God has written down for us. God has given us enough build societies on the Rock of God’s commandments as a foundation. The basic Godly moorings of any nation that will stand. If a nation rejects Godly morals, it can’t stand for long.

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  64. Zrim: Richard, actually it’s more of a distinction, and it’s one without a difference.

    RS: No, it is an infinite difference that is the gulf between the true God and false gods. YAHWEH is not the god of Instanbul is as far from the true God as one can get. Huge, huge difference.

    Zrim: Sort of like revival and revivalism.

    RS: Another huge, huge difference. Those who believe in true revival seek the Lord to send revival. Revivalism is when people try to work it up themselves. In other words, they look to themselves to do something that only God can do.

    Zrim: PS, Babylonian King Cyrus repatriated displaced people and restored temples and cult sanctuaries of deported peoples (including the Jews) across Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the region. And the Bible praises him.

    RS: But did it praise him for setting up false places of worship? There is a huge difference between those who are like Cyrus who carry out the will of God because He is the sovereign Potter and those who love and desire the glory of God to be in all places and at all times. Huge, huge difference

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  65. Doug, it has not escaped my notice that your quotes do not appear to come from your own personal reading, but seem to be taken from IronInk, notably here.

    Allow me to caution you in a friendly way to not rely on secondary sources, as much as is possible.

    When one relies on secondary sources, one loses context to decide whether or not the quotes are used fairly.

    In this particular case, I have no way of assessing whether Calvin is talking above about the moral law or the judicial law. Nor do you, unless you happen to have a copy of Calvin’s sermons on Deuteronomy in your possession. And this makes a huge difference. If Calvin is speaking here of the moral law, then he is being consistent with his other statements about the moral law. But if he is speaking here about the judicial law, then it would seem that he is of two minds about the judicial law.

    Those are two very different situations, and the supplied quote does not give enough information to decide between the two.

    This an issue that touches on the borders of the 9th commandment.

    The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth … outfacing and overbearing the truth … speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice…misconstructing intentions, words, and actions

    Note that I’m NOT accusing you of having done anything wrong! Rather, I’m encouraging you to seek out primary sources as a way of being as certain as possible of the context of your quotes. We want to avoid, as “personal theonomists”, taking quotes in such a manner that they are equivocal, capable of two meanings.

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  66. Doug, the quotes you provided support, among other things, the magistrate enforcing true religion and punishing false religion. Kuyper and the revisions oppose that. How is it to muddy water you yourself stir up? So the question remains: in the same way that Kuyper was ready to release himself from being identified as Reformed if it meant Calvin’s theocracy, are you prepared to relinquish the name Reformed if Reformed means this Kuyperian sense of religious liberty?

    Re persecution under a theonomic regime, it is not impossible if that regime is something other than Reformed. Good grief, what do you think the crucifixion was and why do you think the reformers ran for their very lives and why missionaries get jailed (or worse)? It’s because regimes were and are theonomic.

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  67. Doug: Jeff, I mean what Bahnsen means. You know, the man who coined the term “theonomy”

    Yes, I’m familiar. He says,

    So theonomy teaches that civil rulers are morally obligated to enforce those laws of Christ, found throughout the Scriptures, which are addressed to magistrates (as well as to refrain from coercion in areas where God has not prescribed their intervention). As Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-10, magistrates — even the secular rulers of Rome — are obligated to conduct their offices as “ministers of God,” avenging God’s wrath (compare 13:4 with 12:19) against criminal evil-doers. They will give an account on the Final Day of their service before the King of kings, their Creator and Judge. Christian involvement in politics calls for recognition of God’s transcendent, absolute, revealed law as a standard by which to judge all social codes and political policies. The Scottish theologian, William Symington, well said: “It is the duty of nations, as subjects of Christ, to take his law as their rule. They are apt to think enough that they take, as their standard of legislation and administration, human reason, natural conscience, public opinion or political expediency. None of these, however, nor indeed all of them together, can supply a sufficient guide in affairs of state” (Messiah the Prince, p. 234).

    The Apostle Paul affirmed that one of the uses of the Old Testament law which we know to be good is the restraint of criminal behavior (1 Tim. 1:8-10). Jesus endorsed the penal sanctions of the Old Testament law, condemning those who would make them void by their own human traditions (Matt. 15:3-4). Paul likewise upheld the penal standards of the Mosaic judicial law (Acts 25:11). The author of Hebrews leaves us no doubt about the inspired New Testament perspective on the Mosaic penalties, saying “every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward” (2:2). God requires that judges not punish too harshly or too leniently, but assign a penalty proportionate to the crime (cf. “an eye for an eye…”). To uphold genuine justice in their punishments, magistrates need the direction of God’s law. In observing the law which God revealed to Israel, all nations should respond “what great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law?” (Deut. 4:8).

    Although Israel as a political body has expired — and along with it its judicial law as a constitution — the general equity of those judicial laws is still required (Westminster Confession XIX.4). Similarly, when a public library goes out of business (and your library card thus expires), the truth of what was written in its books is not abolished or changed. Political codes today ought to incorporate the moral requirements which were culturally illustrated in the God-given, judicial laws of Old Testament Israel. George Gillespie, widely regarded as the most authoritative theologian at the Westminster Assembly, wrote: “the will of God concerning civil justice and punishments is no where so fully and clearly revealed as in the judicial law of Moses…. He who was punishable by death under the judicial law is punishable by death still” (“Wholesome Severity Reconciled…,” 1645).

    Those who do not favor taking God’s law as the ultimate standard for civil morality and public justice will be forced to substitute some other criterion.

    — G Bahnsen, What is Theonomy?

    So what is the difference between this theonomy and “adopting the Mosaic judicials as a whole”?

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  68. Richard, God is indeed the God of of Instanbul. He is Lord over every square inch. And 2kers are the ones impugned for undermining his sovereignty? Yeow.

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  69. Doug: If a nation rejects Godly morals, it can’t stand for long.

    China? Egypt? How long is “long”? America is a babe in arms on the world stage. By contrast, Puritan New England self-consciously adopted godly morals and self-immolated in less than 200 years.

    Please understand, I would love for the whole world to adopt godly morals, and for the right reason: that the individuals in the world repent of their sins and trust in Christ.

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  70. Thanks for the note of caution Jeff 🙂

    I copyed my posts above from Greenbaggins a few years ago, from Frankin Hardy. I put him in quotations, no?. I have not made one quotation from Iron Like, no not one!

    Jeff, if you read Bucer carefully and see the qualifications he makes, then it becomes “easypeasy” to understand Calvin. Martin Bucer was Calvin’s dear friend and mentor and both men would be very sympathetic to Theonomy In Christian Ethics as were the large majority of our brave reformers.

    Forgive my spelling Erik, I know it bugs you but I don’t have spell check. 🙂

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  71. Come on Jeff, Eygpt was judged by God at least a couple times, no? By the way, I was paraphrasing Machen. God has his own time table, no? God told Israel that if she practiced the sins of th 7 nations and sacrifieced her children to Moleck the land would vomit them out as well, remember?

    King Solomon was the first King in Israel that built alters to Molech, and it took God over three hundred years to judge them for that sin, and for the Temple come down. God knows how to the judge the collective heart of a nation. I don’t know, but God knows.

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  72. Zrim, when are you going to grow up? No one says, if we just had theonomic laws everything would be fine. However, good laws are better than wicked laws!. I can’t see how a christian (man?) can argue the point! Maybe your just half the man you used to be? 😉 Was that a Beatle line? All kidding aside, you seem indifferent to wicked laws, and tone deaf to legalized wickedness.

    Here we live in a nation that asks us to be involved in the process, and you said once, you would probalbly vote for sodomites legally to marry. As someone once said:

    “Houston, we have a problem.”

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  73. Jeff asks So what is the difference between this theonomy and “adopting the Mosaic judicials as a whole”?

    Jeff let Bahnsen answer your question:

    Although Israel as a political body has expired — and along with it its judicial law as a constitution — the general equity of those judicial laws is still required (Westminster Confession XIX.4). Similarly, when a public library goes out of business (and your library card thus expires), the truth of what was written in its books is not abolished or changed. Political codes today ought to incorporate the moral requirements which were culturally illustrated in the God-given, judicial laws of Old Testament Israel. George Gillespie, widely regarded as the most authoritative theologian at the Westminster Assembly, wrote: “the will of God concerning civil justice and punishments is no where so fully and clearly revealed as in the judicial law of Moses…. He who was punishable by death under the judicial law is punishable by death still” (“Wholesome Severity Reconciled…,” 1645).

    That was the Westminster position as well! George Gillespie is on the same page with Dr Bahnsen. I really don’t see how this is even contraversial. I love the Library analogy!

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  74. Jeff says Please understand, I would love for the whole world to adopt godly morals, and for the right reason: that the individuals in the world repent of their sins and trust in Christ.

    So do I! For all the right reasons! This is why I pray for a change in the collective heart of our nation, a sea change, if you will, where we disire God’s laws to rule our nation. My frustration is with the church, and guys like DGH who seems against that idea, and mocks many of the penal sanctions as ridiculous. Calvin and Bucer would strongly disagree, as would the men who wrote the WCF. Even if DGH is right and I’m wrong, he should never call those penal sanctions oburd or ridiculous. Yet that is his tatctic in debating the issue.

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  75. DGH and Zrim, was Jesus a whiner when he wept over Jerusalem? How about Daniel, when he wept over Israel’s fate, even though it was still 490 years away? Was Lot a whiner, when the bible says the Sodomites tortured his righteouss soul everyday?

    Then I think you need to quit calling your Christian brothers whiners, when we lament the direction our nations is heading. If Jesus could weep, and grieve over sin, maybe you should zip your lip.

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  76. Zrim: Richard, God is indeed the God of of Instanbul. He is Lord over every square inch. And 2kers are the ones impugned for undermining his sovereignty? Yeow.

    RS: Of course he is the God of Instanbul and Lord over every square inch. I said nothing that contradicted that and that is not the point. God was sovereign over Germany and every square inch over Germany during Hitler’s reign as well, but that is not saying that Germany was theonomic. If your implication is applied, then in every location on the planet there is theonomic rule. In that case, you sound like a hyper-Calvinist or extreme fatalist at some point.

    When we are told to pray for the kingdom of God to come are we praying for something that cannot happen since God is the Lord over all the planet? Of course not. So God is absolute Lord in Instanbul but in the other sense His kingdom needs to come and reign through Christ there. God is the absolute ruler of each human heart as well hardening and softening as He pleases, yet we are told that each person must be taken from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of His Beloved Son. The difference between the no god or false god rule at Instanbul and the rule of YAHWEH is simply huge beyond words. “Yeow” is right, but I cannot believe you would even set forth what you have.

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  77. Doug, I apologize for misattributing your source.

    I’m glad you focused on Bahnsen’s analogy, because it is one of two places that I think his argument deserves critical scrutiny.

    When evaluating analogies, I’m watchful for inexact parallelisms, places where the analogy fails to hold together. That happens here.

    In Bahnsen’s analogy, what is the library? Israel. What is the library card? The judicial law. What are the books? Oops, those are the judicial law also.

    So he ends up having to affirm that the judicial law is expired (because the Confession requires him to say this!) and also that all that is written therein is of abiding and binding force (because his presupposition requires it).

    This is obviously a problem; it is unclear, at best.

    I’m guessing that in other places (e.g., Theonomy in Christian Ethics), he talks about continuity and discontinuity with more clarity, but here he is appearing to contradict himself.

    Here’s how the Confession reads as I understand it. The key is jurisdiction. The civil laws that governed Israel had jurisdiction over Israel. When that jurisdiction expired, the laws themselves expired — except for the general equity thereof.

    So the expiration is not that of a library card, but of a statute with a sunset provision: On such-and-such a date (AD 70), this statute will no longer be in effect.

    Two evidences that this is the correct reading:

    (1) This is the “plain language” reading of 19.4.

    (2) This reading is consonant with Calvin’s Institutes.

    I know that above, you dismissed the Institutes as not being real Calvin quotes (?!), but I would encourage a reassessment. Close reading of the Institutes together with the Confession shows that a lot of the language and thought structure of the Confession mirrors that of the Institutes.

    It is therefore proper to use the Institutes as a tool to help understand the intent of the Confession.

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  78. “My frustration is with the church, and guys like DGH who seems against that idea, and mocks many of the penal sanctions as ridiculous.”

    Doug,

    With all due respect, I would suggest your frustration is with Jesus himself. He just doesn’t seem to be interested in the type of kingship you desire for him.

    Luke 12:13&14 – Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”

    John 6:15 – Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

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  79. Doug, again, you take away with one hand what you give with another. You admit that biblical law would not usher in utopia, but then you speak as if we need biblical law precisely because the socio-political sky is falling around us, which implies that things would be righted if biblical laws were in place. And when I yawn about your socio-political idealism out of a contentedness with an approximated justice, you say it’s “indifference to wicked laws and legalized wickedness.” You speak like a classic liberal who thinks human society turns on a top down process of law and legislation instead of a conservative who knows that human society bubbles up from the bottom through families and communities which can more or less thrive whatever the laws. This is at all to say laws don’t matter or don’t bear on human society, rather that political power pales in comparison to power of human beings to make and sustain society.

    PS, for the umpteenth time, I’ve speculated on abstention on the political question of gay marriage. I don’t think homosexuality should enjoy the legal sanction of marriage, but I also have as much hesitation on giving fuel to the culture warriors (on both sides). Abstention is a perfectly viable option when one is dissatisfied with his political options.

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  80. Richard, if there is a church in Instanbul then Christ is adding to his already creative rule his redemptive reign there. Same for China, Bolivia, and America.

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  81. Zrim: Richard, if there is a church in Instanbul then Christ is adding to his already creative rule his redemptive reign there. Same for China, Bolivia, and America.

    RS: Indeed, but the “theos” in the theonomic rule in Instanbul still does not mean the same thing as what the theonomists in the United States mean. There is a huge difference, and it is not just a distinction.

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  82. Zrim pontificates “Doug again, you take away with one hand what you give with another. You admit that biblical law would not usher in utopia, but then you speak as if we need biblical law precisely because the socio-political sky is falling around us, which implies that things would be righted if biblical laws were in place.”

    Why are you so flippant about wicked laws? Who’s side are you one? You act unable to see that if wicked act are given legality, they tends to flurish. The sky doesnt have to fall, for one to be concerned.

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  83. RS, the point is more that once one has given the power of the keys to magistrate, you have to take whatever you get. And since the magistrate wields temporal power, his office attracts flies.

    There is a real jurisdictional problem with handing enforcement of orthodoxy to the magistrate. Does he have to take a licensure exam before holding office? To whom does he report?

    In that sense, the theonomist’s theonomy is structurally set up to become Islamabad within a couple of generations. Just let a baptist in office, and all of the sudden paedos are enemies of the state.

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  84. Jeff Cagle: RS, the point is more that once one has given the power of the keys to magistrate, you have to take whatever you get. And since the magistrate wields temporal power, his office attracts flies.

    RS: Perhaps, but once the flies are there then it is no longer a true theos (as in YAHWEH) rule.

    Jeff Cagle: There is a real jurisdictional problem with handing enforcement of orthodoxy to the magistrate. Does he have to take a licensure exam before holding office? To whom does he report?

    RS: God

    Jeff Cagle: In that sense, the theonomist’s theonomy is structurally set up to become Islamabad within a couple of generations.

    RS: But again, there is a real difference between those who are truly ruling by the laws of the true God which operates by love and justice and those who are ruled by a non-god.

    Jeff Cagle: Just let a baptist in office, and all of the sudden paedos are enemies of the state.

    RS: But it matters not who is in office, the paedos are always enemies of the state.

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  85. M&M observes: Both of these give the distinct impression that you believe you would be more spiritual if there were criminal laws against certain sins.

    Mike, good laws will not make me more spiritual, but good or moral laws are better than immoral or wicked laws for general society. The judicial law doesnt have the power to make us walk by faith, but it can set the right tone. Good laws validate being faithful to God. Good laws reinforce Godly values. Good laws teach society how God feels about sin. Good laws set bounderies for wicked behavior. Not all sin is the same in God’s eyes in a socio political sense. Some sins are more repugnant to God than others. Some sins require society to send the sinner to God ASAP.

    In another sense, all sin is worthy of hell. But in a socio political sense, some sins/crimes are more wicked than others. Speeding on the freeway is not like commiting murder. Which is obvious since not all crimes are death penalty worthy. So who should determine what sin/crimes are “worthy” of death if not the law giver Himself? Has God already given his opinion? In many cases the answer is a resounding yes! We should all want our leaders to read all of God’s word, so when we do punish crime, the crime fits the punishment.

    M&M confirms BTW, I’m only picking on you to make a point here, not to suppose I have the moral high ground over you.

    No offense taken Mike, I take your admonitons to heart, you’re a sharp cookie and a good brother imho

    M&M continues But if this is the case, what do you do with the confessional position that the Christian is “sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them”?

    I see no conflict, my personal sanctification does not depend on my nations laws on morality. But as someone who loves this country I pray that we would return to the moral standards found in God’s law. And I think it would be a good thing. But first things first, let’s get in agreement and then le’ts pray that God will move in power and turn our nations collective heart back to him.

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  86. Jeff opines: “In that sense, the theonomist’s theonomy is structurally set up to become Islamabad within a couple of generations. Just let a baptist in office, and all of the sudden paedos are enemies of the state.”

    Jeff, I’ve conceded, that theonomy (as far as the first table is concerned) is functionally impossible until *we* the body of Christ come together in general unity. How can we expect our police to enforce the first table? We don’t even agree among ourselves what constitutes a valid baptisim, let alone our public blasphemy/idolatry policy. Until the body of Christ gets its fragmented act together, we can’t expect our nation to correctly legistlate penal sanctions we can’t agree upon. So its our duty is to pray for the church first and foremost! We’re all over the place! God help our unbelief!

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  87. Doug, you don’t seem to have the slightest awareness of freedom and law protecting our liberties. A state that can establish the “good” laws you desire, can also take away your freedoms to worship and kvetch. If you know the history of the West, you know this is true. So the U.S. attempted to construct a polity designed to ensure freedom over state power. It has its problems. So does the other side. I believe you would generally complain and moan wherever you lived. But I think you’d complain more about Geneva if you lived there than you do about the U.S. In fact, I think most critics of 2k would never really want to live in Geneva. Think no Gospel Coalition, no ice creme.

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  88. Richard, obviously the Islamic theos in theonomic Instanbul may intend something very distinct from those in the US, but both have more in common with each other than either do with 2kers everywhere.

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  89. Doug, have you ever considered why they were so amazed when Jesus told them to render unto Caesar what was his, full stop? It couldn’t have been because the point was to file taxes honestly and on time, since that is non-amazing. It was because they had theonomic assumptions about what the people of God were supposed to do about wicked laws and magistrates, namely rise up and take dominion. Jesus came off as flippant and insufficiently indignant by instead suggesting the complete opposite, namely obedience and submission. IOW, it was precisely that biblical theocracy you crave that got Jesus hung on a tree. That’s the awful irony of your program.

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  90. DGH, sure Doug would complain if he lived in Geneva. But not without criminal sanctions. Oh wait, the criminal law would work grace in his heart to refom him. Yeah, I forgot that part.

    Schaff:

    A man was banished from the city for three months because, on hearing an ass bray, he said jestingly: “He prays a beautiful psalm.” A young man was punished because he gave his bride a book on housekeeping with the remark: “This is the best Psalter.” A lady of Ferrara was expelled from the city for expressing sympathy with the Libertines, and abusing Calvin and the Consistory. Three men who had laughed during the sermon were imprisoned for three days. Another had to do public penance for neglecting to commune on Whitsunday. …. A man who swore by the “body and blood of Christ” was fined and condemned to stand for an hour in the pillory on the public square. A child was whipped for calling his mother a thief and a she-devil (diabless)

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  91. Schaff continues:

    “During the ravages of the pestilence in 1545 more than twenty men and women were burnt alive for witchcraft, and a wicked conspiracy to spread the horrible disease. From 1542 to 1546 fifty-eight judgments of death and seventy-six decrees of banishments were passed.”

    Fn Calvin himself states this fact in a letter…where he says “A conspiracy of men and women has lately been discovered, who, for the space of three years, had spread the plague though the city by what mischievous device I know not. After fifteen women have been burnt, some men have even been punished more severely, some have commited suicide in prison, and while twenty-five are still kept prisoner, – the conspirators do not cease, notwithstanding, to smear door-locks of the dwelling-housed with their poisonous ointment.”http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc8.iv.xiii.x.html

    This has a striking resemblance to the Salem Witch Trials, but it seems to have passed under the radar for some reason. Can you imagine the desperation of the accused who commited suicide in prison, knowing the scorn that was upon them, knowing their upcoming punishment, and knowing the charges were based simply on superstition?

    The question here might be: is this kind of thing an anomaly or is it a characteristic of such governments? Given the magistrate’s frequent use of the death penalty, that it is illegal to criticize them, and that their impulse to purge evil overwhelms any recognition of liberty, a good case can be made that it was bound to happen, and would again.

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  92. M&M: The question here might be: is this kind of thing an anomaly or is it a characteristic of such governments? Given the magistrate’s frequent use of the death penalty, that it is illegal to criticize them, and that their impulse to purge evil overwhelms any recognition of liberty, a good case can be made that it was bound to happen, and would again.

    As in give a man a hammer and everything looks like a nail to him?

    My readings of the reality of those Genevan gigs doesn’t leave me with any wish to try it again.

    There is too much that is embarrassing (and worse) for someone who has is labeled with the name of Calvinism.

    But maybe next time the writings in a book will seamlessly integrate into the running of actual society… (that’ll happen)

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  93. Doug: Jeff, I’ve conceded, that theonomy (as far as the first table is concerned) is functionally impossible until *we* the body of Christ come together in general unity.

    Well, this is a good concession. And given that Paul presents the unity of the church in eschatological terms in Eph 4, then perhaps we ought to assume that theonomy ought to be suspended upon the eschaton?

    After all, you have created a chicken-and-egg problem here. For Calvin, the magistrate was supposed to protect the church from those that would trouble it (hence, Servetus). But now you are conceding that the Church must *first* deal with its trouble-makers — as 1 Cor 5 requires — and only then will it be in a position to tell the state which forms of worship are right and just.

    Well, if the church gets to that point, then it doesn’t really need the support of the state.

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  94. Doug: …good laws will not make me more spiritual, but good or moral laws are better than immoral or wicked laws for general society.

    No argument there. The only question is, What is a good law?

    I would argue that good laws will reflect God’s moral law, to the extent that such laws are in the jurisdiction of the magistrate and to the extent that such laws do not cause more harm than good.

    So absolutely, we should have laws against disobedience to authority, against murder and adultery and theft, and laws against lying and coveting.

    The first table, though, is not properly in the jurisdiction of the magistrate. He does not have spiritual authority (that is, authority over the church), but God-given temporal authority.

    And laws against, say, coveting, would most likely do more harm than good; they would open the door to massive abuses.

    But beyond that, I agree with the premise that the laws of all nations should reflect the general equity of the second table of the Law.

    Where I disagree is concerning the specific penalties, which as I understand them have expired with the jurisdiction of Israel.

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  95. JRC: There is a real jurisdictional problem with handing enforcement of orthodoxy to the magistrate. Does he have to take a licensure exam before holding office? To whom does he report?

    RS: God

    This is starting to remind me of our conversations about seeing love in other people’s hearts. 🙂

    I grant your premise, that the magistrate should report to God and not to other men. That’s 2k.

    Now: How do you create a governmental structure so that this can take place? In that structure, the church cannot come along and hold the magistrate to account in any binding way. So if a heretic gets into office, well …

    And that’s Zrim’s point and mine: the governmental structure that supports your idealized THEOnomy is identical to the governmental structure of, say, Rome or a dictatorship. Thus …

    JRC: In that sense, the theonomist’s theonomy is structurally set up to become Islamabad within a couple of generations.

    RS: But again, there is a real difference between those who are truly ruling by the laws of the true God which operates by love and justice and those who are ruled by a non-god.

    The difference you posit is a difference in the heart. In the THEOnomy, the godly magistrate rules by the laws of the true God because those laws are written on the heart.

    In any other theonomy, even one whose laws on paper are given directly at Sinai, the ungodly magistrate rules against the laws of the true God because those laws are not written on the heart.

    But the governmental structure is exactly the same.

    And so it comes to this, RS: Do you really want to set up a governmental structure in which everything will be righteous if only the leaders are pure in heart? But everything will be truly horrible if not?

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  96. Zrim: Richard, obviously the Islamic theos in theonomic Instanbul may intend something very distinct from those in the US, but both have more in common with each other than either do with 2kers everywhere.

    RS: What you are saying may be true, but that is not necessarily a positive thing to say about 2K. I might also add that the last time I checked the Bible and the Confessions neither set 2K out as the standard to go by. But to go on, and not that you meant to imply this, but if the word “theos” in theonomy refers to the true God and Instanbul is closer to that than 2K, that says a lot about 2K. You drove me to it.

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  97. DGH: So the U.S. attempted to construct a polity designed to ensure freedom over state power. It has its problems. So does the other side.

    My own sense is that we don’t really know what the problems with the “representative democracy” structure are, America being so young and all.

    Also, I don’t think that governmental structure will look the same in 100 years anywhere — from North Korea to the US — because of the Internet. The sheer amount of information and the ability to process it, point it at a specific target, and reshape it into misinformation via the Web is an ability whose time is ripening.

    Will that ability be appropriately tamed and curtailed, or will it lead to “invisible totalitarianism”, or something else? No idea.

    Some signs (“too big to fail”, Google’s involvement in the 2012 election, the defense industry’s position) point in a fascist direction, with government and business locking arms.

    Other signs (open-source software, Wikileaks) point in a libertarian direction. Who knows? Maybe teleworking will return us to your beloved Jeffersonian ideal. 🙂

    But consider that the great injustice in Les Miserables is that Jean-val-Jean must carry a yellow card around with him saying that he is a thief, and that he can’t get work without this card. One little piece of guilt follows him around until the pursuing law dies.

    Compare that injustice to the current state of affairs, in which criminal records are publicly available to all, identity theft is relatively easy, and private information can hardly be kept private. Yikes. An entire society of Javerts?! The mind boggles.

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  98. Jeff Cagle said: There is a real jurisdictional problem with handing enforcement of orthodoxy to the magistrate. Does he have to take a licensure exam before holding office? To whom does he report?

    RS replied: God

    Jeff Cagle: This is starting to remind me of our conversations about seeing love in other people’s hearts.

    RS: I know, those verses from I John and John 13:35 seemed to cause you to get nervous.

    Jeff Cagle: I grant your premise, that the magistrate should report to God and not to other men. That’s 2k.

    Now: How do you create a governmental structure so that this can take place? In that structure, the church cannot come along and hold the magistrate to account in any binding way. So if a heretic gets into office, well …

    RS: First of all, I don’t pretend to know all of the answers. However, it the Church is the pillar and foundation of the Truth, surely it has something to say to the government. If God is the Creator of all men and of all things and there will be a day of judgment in which all the deeds, thoughts, desires, and motives of men are judged, then the Church has something to say to the governing authorities.

    Jeff Cagle: And that’s Zrim’s point and mine: the governmental structure that supports your idealized THEOnomy is identical to the governmental structure of, say, Rome or a dictatorship.

    RS: But of course I would argue that a true government where God is properly recognized would not be one that would ever be one that would treat the people with disdain or in an unjust manner.

    Jeff Cagle: Thus …

    JRC old quote: In that sense, the theonomist’s theonomy is structurally set up to become Islamabad within a couple of generations.

    RS old quote: But again, there is a real difference between those who are truly ruling by the laws of the true God which operates by love and justice and those who are ruled by a non-god.

    RS: I would still argue that a true theonomy (whatever that is) could not become Instanbul. If ever it because anything like Instanbul, it would no longer be a true theonomy.

    Jeff Cagle: The difference you posit is a difference in the heart. In the THEOnomy, the godly magistrate rules by the laws of the true God because those laws are written on the heart.

    RS: I would also argue that a ruler that was not necessarily godly but simply had the fear of the Lord (like Cornelius) who followed the basic laws of God could also be a good ruler.

    Jeff Cagle: In any other theonomy, even one whose laws on paper are given directly at Sinai, the ungodly magistrate rules against the laws of the true God because those laws are not written on the heart.

    RS: What happened when Jonah preached at Neneveh? It brought a repentance of some kind to all levels of the society for at least a short time. An ungodly magistrate may indeed rule according to the external laws of God while not having the law of God in his heart, and we see that over and over again. A just magistrate is always better than an unjust one. A magistrate that has some fear of the Lord and recognizes a coming judgment is a far better ruler than one in Instanbul.

    Jeff Cagle: But the governmental structure is exactly the same.

    RS: I don’t think that it necessarily would be.

    Jeff Cagle: And so it comes to this, RS: Do you really want to set up a governmental structure in which everything will be righteous if only the leaders are pure in heart? But everything will be truly horrible if not?

    RS: I see your position as setting up some horns and yet I think we can go through the middle of them. Of course our government would be better if it had leaders with pure hearts, but leaders without pure hearts can also be decent leaders if they sought true justice out of a simple fear of God. I simply don’t see how we can remain quiet when a government is unjust and makes laws contrary to the laws of God. I am not arguing that a political answer is the answer, but simply that we should not find it acceptable to have governments who are setting up laws contrary to the laws of God. They will answer to God for that and we should tell them that. If the government listens and conforms its laws more closely to the ways of true justice, then how can that be such a bad thing?

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  99. RS: I am not arguing that a political answer is the answer, but simply that we should not find it acceptable to have governments who are setting up laws contrary to the laws of God.

    I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying.

    We just need to be careful in thinking about what are “laws contrary to the laws of God.” A law that says, “Thou shalt worship Ba’al” is contrary to the law of God. A law that says, “You are free to worship Jesus if you so desire” is not.

    RS: I see your position as setting up some horns and yet I think we can go through the middle of them. Of course our government would be better if it had leaders with pure hearts, but leaders without pure hearts can also be decent leaders if they sought true justice out of a simple fear of God.

    OK, and still you and I are both pointing to the heart as the determining factor. Laws on paper do not have a “fear of the Lord”; they legislate behavior.

    A magistrate may have the fear of the Lord in any society with any kind of governmental structure. He might have an easier time being just if the laws of that society are just (as measured by the moral law). But he will not himself be more just or less by simply finding himself the ruler over a society with just laws already on the books.

    What you’re missing here is the distinction between “governmental structure” and “those who govern.” You seem to agree with me that justice resides with “those who govern.” To govern justly, they must personally have the fear of the Lord — but then you miss the fact that the governmental structure has nothing to do with this.

    Without this distinction, the conversation doesn’t make much sense.

    RS: What happened when Jonah preached at Neneveh? It brought a repentance of some kind to all levels of the society for at least a short time.

    Sure. That would be the “law of God written on the heart.” What Jonah did not do was to establish a Yahweistic nation in Babylon. There is nothing in the text that indicates that the Babylonian legal structure changed. Right?

    RS: I know, those verses from I John and John 13:35 seemed to cause you to get nervous.

    Can’t resist the counter-snark — I don’t have an issue with John, but with Richard. The Word of God is perfectly fine, but certain interpretations …

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  100. M&M and look at America now! This coming Monday in our fine free land, we will execute appox. 4 thousand babies in their mothers womb, yea Mike we’ve come a long way. You bitch about three days in jail for interupting a church service? Yet you seem oblivious to the slaughter of the unborn.

    DGH says Doug, you don’t seem to have the slightest awareness of freedom and law protecting our liberties.

    Darryl what freedom’s are being denyed? You confuse freedom with license to sin!

    Histroy Professor, America had all the laws I’m advocating, and we were free’er then, than now!

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  101. Doug: Yet you seem oblivious to the slaughter of the unborn.

    So are you going to wait until the arrival of the THEOnomy to do something about it?

    Or are you going to work now, tomorrow, the next day, to persuade Christians and non-Christians alike that killing babies is just plain mean, and needs to stop?

    If the second, then you believe in natural law as a basis for political argument.

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  102. Kent, I was dialoguing with a neo-Cal-attorney-blog-frequenter who refused to say whether he would take our system over Calvin’s Geneva. Whaaaat?? I’ve suggested that we need to “come clean” on Geneva by frankly admitting its considerable flaws and recognizing that it’s nothing we should be trying to replicate. This is not to say that it was worse than other cities of its time and not to generally disparage Calvin, but we should seriously entertain that its very substantial flaws might be inherent to its theory of the magistrate. With a cleansed palate, maybe we can better perceive what the civil magistrate ought to be doing and also have a more robust sense of liberty.

    And maybe we can stop sparring Calvin quotes against Calvin quotes on the role of the magistrate as if Calvin is the highest and best word on the subject.

    [insert youtube video of Supertramp doing “Dreamer”]

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  103. Doug, do you know the difference between sins of omission and sins of commission? Of course you do. We can talk about what sins the government should prohibit, but it is of some signficance that our government doesn’t coerce abortions. But guess what? The magistrates of Calvin’s Geneva and Puritan New England did positively commit the sin of executing innocents. So were they utopian dreams or nightmares? It just seems like you’re always pushing for your utopian vision. But, like all utopian visions, it’s more pleasant in the abstract that it is when implemented.

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  104. 2nd Peter 2:7 ESV

    and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he wa tormenting his righeous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);

    Darryl and Zrim; was Lot a whiner because his soul was vexed by sodomite behavior?

    DGH you and your evil twin zrim, act cavalier about sin/crimes that grieved the Saints of old; why is that?

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  105. Jeff Cagle: We just need to be careful in thinking about what are “laws contrary to the laws of God.” A law that says, “Thou shalt worship Ba’al” is contrary to the law of God. A law that says, “You are free to worship Jesus if you so desire” is not.

    RS: A law that says it is okay to murder is an unjust law and should not be passed. A law that says people should be free to practice any and all religions is also an unjust act. One cannot force people to become Christians, but it is not absurd to think that religions that are anti-Christian should be allowed to flourish.

    Old quote RS: I see your position as setting up some horns and yet I think we can go through the middle of them. Of course our government would be better if it had leaders with pure hearts, but leaders without pure hearts can also be decent leaders if they sought true justice out of a simple fear of God.

    Jeff Cagle: OK, and still you and I are both pointing to the heart as the determining factor. Laws on paper do not have a “fear of the Lord”; they legislate behavior.

    RS: But laws on paper can be motivated by a fear of the Lord. While we cannot convert people since we cannot change their hearts, behavior can still be regulated to some degree by just laws.

    Jeff Cagle: A magistrate may have the fear of the Lord in any society with any kind of governmental structure. He might have an easier time being just if the laws of that society are just (as measured by the moral law). But he will not himself be more just or less by simply finding himself the ruler over a society with just laws already on the books.

    RS: But if the laws are just and the magistrate fears the true God, things would certainly be different. Men without the fear of the Lord in almost any way are basically doing what is right in their own eyes rather than doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

    Jeff Cagle: What you’re missing here is the distinction between “governmental structure” and “those who govern.” You seem to agree with me that justice resides with “those who govern.” To govern justly, they must personally have the fear of the Lord — but then you miss the fact that the governmental structure has nothing to do with this.

    RS: I don’t think that I am missing it, but I suppose I could still be doing so. I would argue that just laws can function within differing structures to some degree. Apart from just laws a just man has little to work with.

    Jeff Cagle: Without this distinction, the conversation doesn’t make much sense.

    RS: I think I am arguing that regardless of the basic structure of the government just laws and people who operate with a basic fear of the Lord will always be a superior government to any structure that does not have the fear of the Lord and just laws. But again, I am not advocating a full theocratic form of government, but simply saying that any form of government that had just laws (and sought for truly just laws) and the fear of the Lord would be far superior to any form of government that did not have those. In other words, as I perceive my position, I am not arguing for any particular structure for the government. I am arguing for all structures to pursue just laws as informed by Scripture and for men to have a fear of the Lord. It appears to me that 2K folks are not wanting the governments (of any structure) to be informed by Scripture for what true justice is.

    Just to repeat one more time. I am not arguing for a theocracy and I am not arguing for Christians to use all of their time, efforts, and money in the political process. But I would argue that Christians should inform their rulers about the standards of God and of the coming judgment of God. The wrath of God comes upon all sinners and there are results of those on all people.

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  106. Richard, you keep saying that a theonomy that is based upon true religion is far different than one based upon false. But as I’ve said to Doug, the only example in history of the former is the one that hung Christ on a tree. That’s fairly indicting, as in theonomies of whatever kind in the hands of sinners instead of at the hand of God are doomed projects. Maybe you think we could do better than old Israel, but that would seem to miss the whole point of Christianity.

    You also say that you don’t see how we can remain quiet when a government is unjust and makes laws contrary to the laws of God, that the church has a duty to tell the state what’s what, etc. But WCF 31.5 says that synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth.

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  107. Doug, 1 Peter 2:13-24:

    Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

    Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

    That doesn’t sound like a man as taken with earthly justice as you are. Was Peter being cavalier and insufficiently indignant about unjust authorities? In contrast to all the stand up and wag thy finger for justice jazz you and Richard vie for, Peter seems to be all about submission to authorities and the endurance of injustice. It is actually portrayed as gracious to suffer unjustly. Where is there any incentive or support for saints making sure justice prevails on earth? I can feel you seething, but you have to contend with the sort of NT ethics Peter expresses here, which grate modern notions great societies.

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  108. Darn it MM, now you’ve got eighth notes on the keyboard running through my head. “Dreamer (da dunh da dunh da dunh) ya nothin’ but a dreamer, …”

    But seriously: Kent, I was dialoguing with a neo-Cal-attorney-blog-frequenter who refused to say whether he would take our system over Calvin’s Geneva. .

    I’ll second that, actually. Geneva, like all past times and places, has to suffer from the spotlight effect: we see the really bad stuff that makes it into the records and assume that it represents the everyday state of affairs.

    Our country has plenty of executions every year, not to mention hundreds of thousands of “legal kills” without due process (thanks, Doug). And frankly, most of our societal improvements are the result of technological advancements, not superiority of system.

    I think I’d take either one. Geneva might threaten me into church attendance, but the US of A has an income inequality and human trafficking that would never be tolerated there.

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  109. Zrim: Richard, you keep saying that a theonomy that is based upon true religion is far different than one based upon false.

    RS: That is correct, though perhaps I have said it only a few times.

    Zrim: But as I’ve said to Doug, the only example in history of the former is the one that hung Christ on a tree. That’s fairly indicting, as in theonomies of whatever kind in the hands of sinners instead of at the hand of God are doomed projects.

    RS: But Jesus was not killed by true Christians and was not killed by people who loved the Law. Instead, they hated God and they hated the true Law of God. So I am not sure that is a good example.

    Zrim: Maybe you think we could do better than old Israel, but that would seem to miss the whole point of Christianity.

    RS: Why would that miss the whole point of Christianity? We do have a further revelation of the glory of God and as such more light on true justice.

    Zrim: You also say that you don’t see how we can remain quiet when a government is unjust and makes laws contrary to the laws of God, that the church has a duty to tell the state what’s what, etc. But WCF 31.5 says that synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth.

    RS: I am not sure that your statement about WCF 31:5 gets at the whole story. It allows for humble petition and the giving of advice.

    WCF XXXI
    IV. All synods or councils, since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.

    IV. Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate.

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  110. Jeff C quoting RS: What happened when Jonah preached at Neneveh? It brought a repentance of some kind to all levels of the society for at least a short time.

    Jeff Cagle: Sure. That would be the “law of God written on the heart.” What Jonah did not do was to establish a Yahweistic nation in Babylon. There is nothing in the text that indicates that the Babylonian legal structure changed. Right?

    RS: Correct, but the fear of the Lord brought about by the preaching of Noah sure brought some changes. They sought repentance from the true Lord. Why did God go to the trouble (so to speak) of dealing with the prophet Jonah if He did not want special revelation to the folks in Nineveh?

    Jeff C quoting RS: I know, those verses from I John and John 13:35 seemed to cause you to get nervous.

    Jeff Cagle: Can’t resist the counter-snark — I don’t have an issue with John, but with Richard. The Word of God is perfectly fine, but certain interpretations …

    RS: It is hard to misinterpret John 13:35 which says that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” It is also hard to get too far off of base with 1 John 2:5 as well: “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” While it is hard to misinterpret those too far, I thought back then that you had put forth enough effort to do so. Apart from a strict empirical theology, that is, one that thinks one has to have some empirical evidence to think something is true, you would have to say (following your apparent system) that the Pharisees that did good to each other would be believers (as an analogy). But perhaps true love has something about it that is something beyond the external acts. Counter to the counter-snark.

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  111. Jeff Cagle: Darn it MM, now you’ve got…

    RS: Please watch your language, you are providing more evidence of why we need righteous laws to govern BLOGS.

    Jeff Cagle: I think I’d take either one. Geneva might threaten me into church attendance, but the US of A has an income inequality and human trafficking that would never be tolerated there.

    RS: Why is income inequality such a bad thing?

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  112. M&M I don’t think I’m pushing for theonomy is much as I am defending it! I do not believe in a utopian society anymore than I believe in sinnless perfection prior to the resuurection

    Don’t you confess your sins and draw near to Christ? Why, since you will never be perfect? That seems to be your main argument. It’s what I hear from you and Zrim, we’ll never have a perfect nation, so why pray for good laws? Okay guys! Let’s just go to hell in a hand basket, eh?

    We don’t think like that with our personal sanctification, why should we with national sanctification? Why can’t we pray for our nation? And if we pray, why not for good laws that esteem God’s values? I would think much of this is praying how Jesus instructed to pray.

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  113. Jeff asks; So are you going to wait until the arrival of the THEOnomy to do something about it?

    My first action is prayer, but I protest in front of Planned Parenthood as well, and strongly encourage other believers to do the same. I rejoice everytime a women chooses to save the life of her unborn baby. And if anyone wants to know why I’m standing there, I go straight to God’s written Word. Why bring up natural law, when we have the written word?

    Thou shall not murder!

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  114. Zrim, I submit to the authorites, but we (in America) can also protest wicked laws, with no contradiction. So quit the obvication!

    Okay Zrim, stand and deliver: Was Jesus a whiner when he wept over Jerusalem?

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  115. Zrim: But as I’ve said to Doug, the only example in history of the former is the one that hung Christ on a tree.

    Balderdash! Have you read the abstract of the law of New England? The new land was founded on new covenant theonomic principles! Pull your head out of the sand!

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  116. RS: Why is income inequality such a bad thing?

    Decent question. In Calvin’s Geneva, deacons were assigned to take of the needs of the poor. Here, there is no such structure.

    The problem is not “inequality” strictly speaking, but the poverty that persists in the US. It’s a bizarre poverty, too, in which some people cannot get decent nutrition, but they can get cell-phones.

    The point is that the community of Geneva functioned more like a community (actually, so did the Puritan community) than the US does. As in people looking out for one another.

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  117. “Errr … ? Is “darning” and “dratting” over the line somehow?”

    In the Old Life comments or in Calvin’s Geneva? Probably two different answers.

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  118. Zrim, a few nights ago, I was watching Fox news (oh my!) and saw an FBI agent talking about his dealings wtih NAMBLA. He had been undercover pretending to be in the human trafic trade, and met a network of men willing to pay “big bucks” for 11 year old boys for the express purposes of sodomizing them. I don’t know if the special agent was a believer, but he thought these men were evil personified. Was he a finger pointing whiner? What should society do to these men who are caught? Say no no don’t do that anymore? Shall we try to educate them on waitng until the boys turn 18? Or just lower the age down to ten like they want?

    This kind of wickedness is on the increase according to the special agent!. NAMBLA wants the age lowered to ten, so they can enjoy legal protection while they try to bugger as many boys as they can. Was this a legitimate news story or just whining on Fox news part? Was the FBI agent a whiner? Would you tell the agent to chill out and quit whining? Would you call him a finger wagger?

    Zrim if you had the opportunity to vote on this issue in your state, would you abstain, since laws don’t change things, according to your world view? Would you call anyone who is concerned about the proliferation of NAMBLA, a whiner?

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  119. I was raised in a fundamental baptist church where we were taught that saying “darn” was just like saying damn; and saying “gosh” was just like saying “God”. If we said “shoot” that meant (you know)

    I think Richard is just having a little fun with us. Keep up the good work Richard! I never knew you were on board with theonomy. I need all the help I can get here at Old life, since we’re outnumbered 100 to 1. No worries though, in Christ we can drive a hundred to flight, and the two of us can drive a thousand to flight.

    Keep pressing on!

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  120. Richard, sorry, but when you plead that Jesus was not killed by true Christians I have to seriously wonder about your grasp of human depravity. When we hear the crowds cry out for crucifixion we should hear own voices in there, not tempt ourselves to a sense of self-righteousness. I thought you claimed Calvinist? So to think we could do better than theonomic Israel is to miss the point of Christianity because it presumes that depravity doesn’t abide quite so deeply and totally in us as it did them. You say we “have a further revelation of the glory of God and as such more light on true justice,” but that light doesn’t overcome the realities of abiding human sin which haven’t changed since then.

    Re WCF 31.5, first, you haven’t dealt with what it means to not intermeddle with political affairs. Second, I take the exception clause to be those times when the state encroaches on the church. Otherwise, everybody tends to think their particular political issues are the exception and the clause becomes that gaping hole through which tanks are driven.

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  121. Doug, yes, you may protest laws you hate. But the point I’m trying to make is that NT ethics would have you enduring those laws and injustice, real or perceived with patience, as well as avoiding self-righteousness. Sorry, but none of that tends to come through with theos.

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  122. Jeff Cagle: @RS: Please watch your language…

    Errr … ? Is “darning” and “dratting” over the line somehow?

    mikelmann: “Errr … ? Is “darning” and “dratting” over the line somehow?”

    RS: It depends on which law you are looking at.

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  123. Doug Sowers: I was raised in a fundamental baptist church where we were taught that saying “darn” was just like saying damn; and saying “gosh” was just like saying “God”. If we said “shoot” that meant (you know)

    I think Richard is just having a little fun with us.

    RS: Ah, you picked up on that one. In certain circles “darn” is quite the sin.

    Doug: Keep up the good work Richard! I never knew you were on board with theonomy. I need all the help I can get here at Old life, since we’re outnumbered 100 to 1. No worries though, in Christ we can drive a hundred to flight, and the two of us can drive a thousand to flight.

    RS: I am not really on board with a full theonomy, depending on what that means, but I simply cannot find a resting place where any creature has the right to set up laws contrary to the laws of the Creator. In saying that creatures have the right to do that is to agree that the promise Satan made to the woman (you shall be as God) was not so bad in reality.

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  124. Jeff Cagle quoting RS: Why is income inequality such a bad thing?

    Jeff Cagle: Decent question. In Calvin’s Geneva, deacons were assigned to take of the needs of the poor. Here, there is no such structure.

    The problem is not “inequality” strictly speaking, but the poverty that persists in the US. It’s a bizarre poverty, too, in which some people cannot get decent nutrition, but they can get cell-phones.

    The point is that the community of Geneva functioned more like a community (actually, so did the Puritan community) than the US does. As in people looking out for one another.

    RS: Okay, thanks for the answer. Your answer is one of the best options as opposed to some bad ones.

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  125. RS: I see your position as setting up some horns and yet I think we can go through the middle of them. Of course our government would be better if it had leaders with pure hearts, but leaders without pure hearts can also be decent leaders if they sought true justice out of a simple fear of God. I simply don’t see how we can remain quiet when a government is unjust and makes laws contrary to the laws of God. I am not arguing that a political answer is the answer, but simply that we should not find it acceptable to have governments who are setting up laws contrary to the laws of God. They will answer to God for that and we should tell them that. If the government listens and conforms its laws more closely to the ways of true justice, then how can that be such a bad thing?

    Me: Amen Richard! I couldn’t agree more! May God give strength to your right arm!

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  126. Zrim: Richard, sorry, but when you plead that Jesus was not killed by true Christians I have to seriously wonder about your grasp of human depravity.

    RS: After what you say below, I wonder about your grasp of what regeneration and the power of the Spirit in the heart is.

    Zrim: When we hear the crowds cry out for crucifixion we should hear own voices in there, not tempt ourselves to a sense of self-righteousness. I thought you claimed Calvinist?

    RS: 1 John 3:15 “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” What I have been saying has nothing to do with an assertion of self-righteousness at all. I am simply saying that a true believer in the New Covenant cannot commit murder. Depraved, yes. Sinner, yes. But the text says no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. So those who have eternal life abiding in them are not murderers. That is not self-righteousness, but simply a recognition that the New Covenant as better promises and it is all to His glory.

    Zrim: So to think we could do better than theonomic Israel is to miss the point of Christianity because it presumes that depravity doesn’t abide quite so deeply and totally in us as it did them.

    RS: No, it does not presume that depravity does not abide so deeply and totally in us as it did in them, but it supposes that Christ and His Spirit now lives in His people in a way that has far more power than then.

    Zrim: You say we “have a further revelation of the glory of God and as such more light on true justice,” but that light doesn’t overcome the realities of abiding human sin which haven’t changed since then.

    RS: But the life of Christ in the soul and the fruit of the Spirit delivers us from the bondage and slavery of sin. The New Covenant has better promises and God now dwells in His people and causes them to walk in the ways of obedience. God now puts the laws in their minds and writes them in their hearts.

    Zrim: Re WCF 31.5, first, you haven’t dealt with what it means to not intermeddle with political affairs. Second, I take the exception clause to be those times when the state encroaches on the church. Otherwise, everybody tends to think their particular political issues are the exception and the clause becomes that gaping hole through which tanks are driven.

    RS: But it also says that they can give advice. Remember also, that it refers to synods and councils and says that they are not to intermeddle with civil affairs. That would appear to mean that synods and councils (denominations, perhaps) as synods and councils are not to meddle, but it does not say that individual churches should not give advice and preach on these issues.

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  127. Doug, it is really fairly simple. Freedom of religion brings idolatry. Lots of people in the U.S. worship in ways that could have gotten you executed in or booted from Massachusetts Bay. I myself think freedom of worship is better than state control of religion. You are a theonomist. You disagree. But you are enough of an American that you enjoy the freedom (which is why you can hurl insults at an elder in the church — those would have gotten you in serious trouble in Geneva).

    Maybe the history prof wins.

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  128. Doug, if you are such a lover of the law why are you cavalier about the 9th commandment (like when you insinuate that someone doesn’t love the law)? Haven’t you heard about protecting someone’s good name?

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  129. Zrim says: Doug, yes, you may protest laws you hate. But the point I’m trying to make is that NT ethics would have you enduring those laws and injustice, real or perceived with patience, as well as avoiding self-righteousness. Sorry, but none of that tends to come through with theos.

    Sorry? How about begging forgivness for judging my heart? I do endure wicked laws with patience! Who are you to make a charge of self-righeuosness? Did you tell Jesus to move over from the right hand of God so you can judge who is and is not self-righteouss?

    Moreover, how could anyone’s desire for laws that conform to God’s will be construed as self-righteouss? It’s not a personal issue, it’s a corporate issue.

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  130. DGH says: I myself think freedom of worship is better than state control of religion.

    Darryl, theonomy (as I understand it) does not teach state control of religion. There is only one true religion anyway, and that is worshiping the triune God, period end of story. Church polity is another issue completely. In my OPC church, communion is open, to whomever wants to partake, even first time visitors. Other OPC’s have closed communion, and I don’t think the state should have an interest one way or the other, and neither did Greg Bahnsen.

    Furthermore, I don’t have all the answers for the *how* God’s law should be appylied in a wise new covenant context. But I have thought about this for many years, and have some ideas.

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  131. DGH asks Doug, if you are such a lover of the law why are you cavalier about the 9th commandment (like when you insinuate that someone doesn’t love the law)?

    Darryl, I have asked you *why* you don’t talk like David who loved the law, and you didnt say, “but I do love the law Doug!” You said “Doug you might look at the law like David, but I look at the law like Paul, and he said it is not of faith.”

    Remember Darryl? Those are your words not mine! I have asked you dozens of times why it seems your so down on the law, and you’ve never told me you do in fact love the law. Are you doing an about face? If you are, I am going to celebrate!

    Tell me you love the law like David, and I will jump for joy!

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  132. DGH observes: Doug, no, Jeremiah wasn’t a whiner. But why are you still weeping over Israel?

    Darryl, if Jeremiah wasnt a whiner, then why should a concerned believer today, (like me) be called a whiner, when anyone with half a brain can see our nation is slouching towards Gamorah with our sexual ethics?

    BTW, I”m not weeping over Israel. But I do lament the direction America is heading with our laws on sexaul morality. I know history never repeats itself, but it sure seems to rhyme, and I’ve already seen this movie, and it doesnt have a happy ending. 😦

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  133. Doug Sowers: BTW, I”m not weeping over Israel. But I do lament the direction America is heading with our laws on sexaul morality. I know history never repeats itself, but it sure seems to rhyme, and I’ve already seen this movie, and it doesnt have a happy ending.

    Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    2 Peter 2:8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),

    2 Kings 22:19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.

    Psalm 119:53 Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked, Who forsake Your law.

    Psalm 119:136 My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law.

    Ezekiel 9:4 The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”

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  134. Jeff opines: Where I disagree is concerning the specific penalties, which as I understand them have expired with the jurisdiction of Israel.

    Jeff, the penalties are an extension of the moral law. They are one. You seem to want to hold on to the ‘thou shall nots” but when we violate, you refuse His sanctions. That is not logical Jeff. Plus, what written authority do you have to seperate sanctions from the commands? I’ve searched the Scriptures and have yet to see it shown where we can cut them apart.

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  135. Zrim: Richard, you keep saying that a theonomy that is based upon true religion is far different than one based upon false.

    RS: That is correct, though perhaps I have said it only a few times.

    RS, I think you may be committing a category error. The term “theonomy” does not refer to a situation in which the magistrate happens to be godly. We all agree that this is a good thing, all else being equal.

    No, “theonomy” is a governmental structure. Israel was a theonomy. It was a theonomy under Ahab, and it was a theonomy under Hezekiah. Its constitution was God’s law, regardless of whether that constitution was obeyed.

    Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was not a theonomy, even during his repentant phase. It was rather an empire with a civil religion (whose cultic demands had little bearing on law)

    So speaking of theonomy v THEOnomy is not really sensible. Your stipluated difference of godliness inheres to the ruler, not the structure.

    Ah, you say, but a theonomy based on the OT law is different from other theonomies.

    And that goes to Zrim’s point: the Sanhedrin committed deicide. Top that, islamists!

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  136. Doug Bahnsen: Jeff, the penalties are an extension of the moral law. They are one. You seem to want to hold on to the ‘thou shall nots” but when we violate, you refuse His sanctions. That is not logical Jeff. Plus, what written authority do you have to seperate sanctions from the commands? I’ve searched the Scriptures and have yet to see it shown where we can cut them apart.

    This is the second point of Bahnsen’s argument that deserves critical scrutiny.

    There is nothing illogical about saying that the obligation remains in force but the judicial penalties have expired with the jurisdiction to whom they were applied.

    That is, unless you think that the only reason to fulfill am obligation is tp avoid a sanction? Surely not.

    Basic observation: God did not exact the death penalty on Cain. Was He unjust?

    Another: The judicial penalties of Israel were not instituted in Babylon. Yet God considered Babylon to be obligated to the moral law (as all men are)

    Bahnsen’s flawed premise is that obligation and penalty go together. This premise is false, and false in a profound way. At the most important level, the Christian continues to be obligated to the moral law, yet is freed from its penalty. Surely you don’t call redemption from Hell “refusing God’s sanctions”, do you?

    As to searching the Scriptures: Galatians 4 is the best place to start. If one reads it without the mistaken premise that juducial penalties are part of the moral law, then it becomes obvious why they expired, which is what both Calvin and the Confession taught. Note that the prooftext cited for wcof 19.4 is Ex. 21, which is clearly therefore an example of the expired judicial law.

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  137. Jeff, I must object! Why would the *just* punishment expire? Can you give a logical reason why it’s right to execute a rapiest in Israel, but somehow that punishment expired? That is a conceptual contradiction! What are the morally relevant circumstances that have changed to make rape no longer a DP offense?

    Will all Magistrates be judged by God on how they wield the sword? Of course!

    Here is the kicker: By what standard will God judge every Magistrate who meads out punishment if not his law?

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  138. Jeff opines: There is nothing illogical about saying that the obligation remains in force but the judicial penalties have expired with the jurisdiction to whom they were applied.

    I beg to differ!

    Jeff how can one say, “it was moral to execute a rapist in Israel, but not in America”? Huh? Can morality change? What are the morally relevant circumstances that have changed? If you’re going to confess that a rapist deserved the DP in Israel, HOW can he not deserve the DP today?

    You have trapped yourself in a conceptual contradiction! And that is not good!

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  139. Doug,

    Not so fast buddy:

    Can you give a reason why it is right to execute a rapeist in Israel, but somehow that punishment has expired

    The only time a rapist was to be executed was when he raped a woman who was betrothed or married (Deut. 22:23-27). However, if a man rapes a woman who is both a) a virgin, and b) not betrothed, not only is he not to be executed, he is to marry the woman, paying the betrothal price for her (Deut 22: 28-29). This passage, incedentally, sheds light on why the sins of Jacob’s sons were so grevious in Genesis 34, in the murder of the Shecemites after Dinah’s rape – the betrothal price had been paid in openess to trade and property rights, not to mention the fact that the Shecemites agreed to circumcision.

    So, this places you in a quandry, should we revert to the rape laws that befit the cultural moorings of an Ancient Near Eastern culture, or should we put rapists in prison, even if they rape virgins who are not yet engaged to be married? The general equity of the laws in Deuteronomy clearly indicate that rape is wrong, as it does in our own day, but only in certain cases was it a considered a capitol offense according to OT law. I wouldn’t even necessarily if our culture did decide that all rape warranted the DP, however if they did so, they would actually be enacting stricter punishment than the OT prescribes.

    So, ironically, your unnecessary appeal to emotional outrage actually serves to reinforce Jeff’s point that punishment is separable from the crime. That is unless you think unmarried rape victims should marry their rapists in today’s culture. I just bet, if you were to study the jurisprudence of Mosaic Law in its own historical and cultural context (e.g. Hammurabi’s Law) you would find how similar Israelite jurisprudence was with her Ancient Near East neighbors. Surprisingly, you might also find major points of commonality in what we deem illegal as compared to Israel, even where there are major deficiencies in our current legal system – we have laws on the books that condemn manslaughter, theft, rape, and even municipal codes such as regulations for the structural integrity of buildings that aim to protect human life, as did Israel.

    So, my question to you is why not simply opt for our own WCF, that states that the civil and ceremonial laws for Israel have expired, including their punishments BTW, and opt for the general equity of the Law be reflected in human society, which, ironically is part and parcel of Natural Law theory?

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  140. Richard, upon the suggestion that in aiding and abetting theonomy you are propping up self-righteousness you make the odd claim that believers may be depraved sinners but they cannot commit crimes because NC promises are better and God writes the law on their hearts (therefore, they can do theonomy better than old Israel, I suppose). First, that sounds like a polite version of total depravity—Christians are aren’t perfect but they certainly don’t do bad things, that’s those really bad people who aren’t us. Second, don’t you know that the key is repentance, which undoes any sin? It allows you to admit that Xns are just as able to commit crimes instead of maintaining the odd argument that they can’t.

    So I suppose the long and short of your point is that Xns can’t commit crimes and by that same token they can enforce a better theonomy than OT Israel. It might be appealing if it weren’t so addled with naivete and rang so loud with neonomianism.

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  141. Doug: Jeff, I must object! Why would the *just* punishment expire? Can you give a logical reason why it’s right to execute a rapiest in Israel, but somehow that punishment expired? That is a conceptual contradiction! What are the morally relevant circumstances that have changed to make rape no longer a DP offense?

    I’m happy to give a logical reason, but first you should attend to the fact that punishments have not been the same in all times and places.

    If your reasoning were sound, then God would have had to give the judicial statutes to Adam, not Moses.

    As I pointed out, Cain did not receive the death penalty for his murder of Cain. Nor Moses for his murder of the Egyptian. In fact, we are explicitly told by Paul that the Law did not reign from Adam to Moses.

    On your logic, God was unjust! He is trapped in a conceptual contradiction! This is Not Good!!

    Or,

    There is a good, logical reason that God did not impose the judicial penalties of the Law until Moses. Here it is: Penalties serve more than one purpose. In part, penalties reflect justice. In part, penalties deter wrong-doing. In part, penalties make victims whole (I’m thinking here of restitution for theft). And in Israel, penalties reflected God’s holiness.

    That last purpose is now served in the Church, not the state. For this reason, Paul transfers the death penalty of Deuteronomy in part over to the excommunication of the church (1 Cor 5.13, quoting Deut 13.5 passim.)

    Here’s another reason: it is false that a single, unique punishment is the only just punishment for a crime.

    In fact, various killings in the OT were punished with death, or restitution, or a kind of banishment.

    So the apparent contradiction you recoil from is not an actual contradiction; it is only contrary to your presupposition. Drop the presupposition, and the problem goes away.

    Doug: By what standard will God judge every Magistrate who [metes] out punishment if not his law?

    I would say, according to whether he punishes wrong-doing and rewards right-doing. If God had wanted to give all magistrates everywhere a uniform judicial code, He would have started doing so from the very beginning.

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  142. Jeff Cagle: I think you may be committing a category error. The term “theonomy” does not refer to a situation in which the magistrate happens to be godly. We all agree that this is a good thing, all else being equal.

    No, “theonomy” is a governmental structure. Israel was a theonomy. It was a theonomy under Ahab, and it was a theonomy under Hezekiah. Its constitution was God’s law, regardless of whether that constitution was obeyed.

    RS: The point I continue to make, however, is that under the law in Instanbul or any other false religion it is not God’s law that is being kept. For God’s law to be kept it must be the law of the true God.

    Jeff Cagle: Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was not a theonomy, even during his repentant phase. It was rather an empire with a civil religion (whose cultic demands had little bearing on law)

    RS: It depends on how Nebuchadnezzar viewed himself. If he thought of himself as a god in some way, then it was a theonomy of sorts. In Egypt the Pharoah was thought of as a god so it would have been a theonomy of sorts as well.

    Jeff Cagle: So speaking of theonomy v THEOnomy is not really sensible. Your stipluated difference of godliness inheres to the ruler, not the structure.

    RS: I would still argue that the strucure would be different. Those who follow the true and living God will always be different than those who follow a false god. If by structure you really mean a definition (laws of god or God), then in one sense your point is there. But if the structure includes how things are actually set up and how they run, I would argue that they simply cannot be the same.

    Jeff Cagle: Ah, you say, but a theonomy based on the OT law is different from other theonomies.

    And that goes to Zrim’s point: the Sanhedrin committed deicide. Top that, islamists!

    RS: But the Sanhedrin did not follow the law of the true God. By that point they were using their own laws to carry out their own desires. They used the name of the true God to carry out their own desires, but they were not following the law of God at all.

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  143. Here is the underlying theological problem, Doug. Theonomy undermines the Protestant doctrine of the atonement and throws us back to the Catholic one.

    In the Protestant doctrine, Jesus receives the penalty for sin on our behalf. He is punished as if a guilty sinner. The result is that the guilt and punishment that should have fallen on me falls upon him instead. Praise the Lord.

    In the Catholic, Jesus offers himself willingly as a sacrifice for sins. The merit of his action is then infused into us, making us no longer guilty before God — but the punishment, or some kind of punishment, remains. Hence purgatory.

    The theonomist now comes along and says, I’m a Protestant, justified by grace through faith alone (hence Bahnsen; did you wonder why he had to insert that paragraph?). But Jesus didn’t fulfill the judicial penalties. Those remain in full force.

    Well, if Jesus didn’t fulfill the judicial penalties, the punishment for sin remains. The theonomist’s understanding of the atonement sides with the Catholic over against the Protestant.

    That is, to quote a famous person, Not Good.

    But here is Paul:

    What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces[a] of the world. 4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. — Galatians 4.

    Notice the following:

    (1) Jesus was born “under Law.” This nullifies the hypothesis that “under Law” means “misusing the Law.” For Paul, “under Law” means what it obviously ought to mean: Subject to the the Law’s commands and sanctions.

    (2) Jesus redeemed those “under the Law” so that they are now “adopted as sons.”

    (3) And, as Paul develops below, returning to being “under the Law” means submitting oneself to slavery once again.

    Theonomy would return God’s people to slavery.

    Thus Calvin:

    First, we learn from it that our hope at the present day, and that of the fathers under the Old Testament, have been directed to the same inheritance; for they were partakers of the same adoption. According to the dreams of some fanatics, and of Servetus among others, the fathers were divinely elected for the sole purpose of prefiguring to us a people of God. Paul, on the other hand, contends that they were elected in order to be together with us the children of God, and particularly attests that to them, not less than to us, belonged the spiritual blessing promised to Abraham.

    Secondly, we learn that, notwithstanding their outward slavery, their consciences were still free. The obligation to keep the law did not hinder Moses and Daniel, all the pious kings, priests, and prophets, and the whole company of believers, from being free in spirit. They bore the yoke of the law upon their shoulders, but with a free spirit they worshipped God. More particularly, having been instructed concerning the free pardon of sin, their consciences were delivered from the tyranny of sin and death. Hence we ought to conclude that they held the same doctrine, were joined with us in the true unity of faith, placed reliance on the one Mediator, called on God as their Father, and were led by the same Spirit. All this leads to the conclusion, that the difference between us and the ancient fathers lies in accidents, not in substance. In all the leading characters of the Testament or Covenant we agree: the ceremonies and form of government, in which we differ, are mere additions. Besides, that period was the infancy of the church; but now that Christ is come, the church has arrived at the estate of manhood.

    Your presupposition, That all penalties must be the same as Israel’s or else be unjust, is in conflict with the word of God, that the yoke of being under the Law is not ours.

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  144. RS: The point I continue to make, however, is that under the law in Instanbul or any other false religion it is not God’s law that is being kept. For God’s law to be kept it must be the law of the true God.

    I don’t disagree with that point. But you’re still committing a category error. You aren’t seeing the difference between “structure” and “the individuals who run that structure.” This is evident here:

    RS: But the Sanhedrin did not follow the law of the true God. By that point they were using their own laws to carry out their own desires. They used the name of the true God to carry out their own desires, but they were not following the law of God at all.

    That’s absolutely correct. Nevertheless, the written Law of God was their constitution, and it was even their excuse. You could not have changed their written law in some way so as to improve or perfect their behavior.

    The basic difference is what’s on paper versus what people actually do. The theonomist wants to focus on what’s on paper and bring that into conformity with God’s law.

    You’re talking about what people actually do, and desiring to bring that into conformity with God’s law.

    It should be obvious that these two are different things.

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  145. Zrim: Richard, upon the suggestion that in aiding and abetting theonomy you are propping up self-righteousness you make the odd claim that believers may be depraved sinners but they cannot commit crimes because NC promises are better and God writes the law on their hearts (therefore, they can do theonomy better than old Israel, I suppose).

    RS: It sounds odd because it is not an argument I made. I said that Christians cannot commit murder and based that on I John 3:15. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” While a believer may commit a crime, it will not be murder and it will be a crime that s/he will not continue in. 1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The tense of the word “practice” is important. It does not suggest perfection, but simply that a true believer will not keep on practicing sin. Indeed a theonomy based on God writing the law on the heart (based on the work of the Spirit in the hearts of His people) would indeed be much better than one ran by old Israel.

    Zrim: First, that sounds like a polite version of total depravity—Christians are aren’t perfect but they certainly don’t do bad things, that’s those really bad people who aren’t us.

    RS: What you write above sounds like an impolite version of what Christ has done and is doing in the hearts of His people. All those who are in Christ and Christ is in them are new creatures. There is a real and a true change. They have the Holy Spirit who works in them to restrain sin and also to love righteousness. Read WCF XIII and look at the real difference in the redeemed.

    Chapter XIII Of Sanctification
    I. They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection,[1] by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them:[2] the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed,[3] and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified;[4] and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces,[5] to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.[6]

    II. This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man;[7] yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part;[8] whence arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.[9]

    III. In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail;[10] yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome;[11] and so, the saints grow in grace,[12] perfecting holiness in the fear of God.[13]

    Zrim: Second, don’t you know that the key is repentance, which undoes any sin? It allows you to admit that Xns are just as able to commit crimes instead of maintaining the odd argument that they can’t.

    RS: Repentance does not undo sin, but instead one has sorrow and turns from the sin. A true repentance demands that we view Christians as those who are not just as able to commit crimes, but instead they have truly repented and as such repent from sinful thoughts and desires the rest of their lives. Luther’s thought that a true repentance was that it made a person a repenter the rest of his or her life.

    Gal 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    RS: Note to Zrim. People who commit crimes and continue to commit crimes are those who have not crucified the flesh and will not inherit the kingdom of God. That is not naivete and that is not neonomianism. It is basic Christian teaching that God really and truly changes the hearts of His people.

    Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
    23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

    RS: Notice the contrast once again. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (the things in verses 17-21). Does that mean that they are perfect? Not at all. It is consistent with those who never do one perfect thing, but there is a huge difference between those who love God and yet do all they do far below the standard of perfection and those that live in outward sin and out committing crimes.

    Zrim: So I suppose the long and short of your point is that Xns can’t commit crimes and by that same token they can enforce a better theonomy than OT Israel.

    RS: Christians cannot commit murder and they will not continue in known sin as they are repenters by virtue of their new nature. But they are new creatures and now have an indwelling love for God and for others. So of course they would be able to enforce a much better theonomy than OT Israel did.

    Zrim: It might be appealing if it weren’t so addled with naivete and rang so loud with neonomianism.

    RS: Call it what you wish, but when God saves sinners from sin He really saves them. When God changes hearts, He really changes them. When God writes His laws in the hearts of His people, He writes them by the Spirit who works in His people to love God. It is not that I am so naive about sin, but perhaps you are simply unwilling to see what the Bible teaches about salvation from power of sin.

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  146. Jeff Cagle quoting RS: The point I continue to make, however, is that under the law in Instanbul or any other false religion it is not God’s law that is being kept. For God’s law to be kept it must be the law of the true God.

    Jeff Cagle: I don’t disagree with that point. But you’re still committing a category error. You aren’t seeing the difference between “structure” and “the individuals who run that structure.” This is evident here:

    RS: I see what you are saying and recognize it, but I am also arguing that those who actually write the laws will write them differently as well. The laws will have a different intent when a believer writes the law versus an unbeliever.

    Jeff C quoting RS: But the Sanhedrin did not follow the law of the true God. By that point they were using their own laws to carry out their own desires. They used the name of the true God to carry out their own desires, but they were not following the law of God at all.

    Jeff Cagle: That’s absolutely correct. Nevertheless, the written Law of God was their constitution, and it was even their excuse. You could not have changed their written law in some way so as to improve or perfect their behavior.

    RS: But the written Law of God was not their actual constitution, but instead they used their interpretation of the law as what they went by.

    Jeff Cagle: The basic difference is what’s on paper versus what people actually do. The theonomist wants to focus on what’s on paper and bring that into conformity with God’s law.

    You’re talking about what people actually do, and desiring to bring that into conformity with God’s law. It should be obvious that these two are different things.

    RS: I guess I would argue that what will be on the piece of paper will also be different. It seems to me that you are confusing a definition of Theonomy with how one would actually be set up which would include writing the laws under such a system. I guess I view the structure of it as including the foundational principles and how laws are to be written.

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  147. Jeff Cagle: Here is the underlying theological problem, Doug. Theonomy undermines the Protestant doctrine of the atonement and throws us back to the Catholic one.

    In the Protestant doctrine, Jesus receives the penalty for sin on our behalf. He is punished as if a guilty sinner. The result is that the guilt and punishment that should have fallen on me falls upon him instead. Praise the Lord.

    RS: Christ suffered and died to deliver His people from the just wrath of God. Let us say person X tries to commit suicide by stabbing himself in the heart. Person X misses the heart and lives, but in the attempt caused a lot of damage. When person X is converted, we say that person X is saved from the wrath of God by Christ, but there are still some temporal consequences from the knife for the rest of that person’s life. Let us also imagine that Jeff is a policeman and upon locking up a man for the crime of burglary, the criminal tells you that Jesus died to set him free and yet you are locking him up. The man may repent and come to Christ and so he will not suffer the wrath of God in eternity for that sin, but he will still have to suffer to some degree on earth the penalty of the law he broke.

    I am arguing that there is a huge distinction between Christ suffering for the sins of His people and yet there are still temporal sufferings they have related to the sin they commit. Christ never promised to do away with the temporal sufferings that are the result of sin, but instead He takes away the eternal wrath of the Father. Theonomy (again, I am not a theonomist) does not appear to be opposed to the atonement.

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  148. Doug, unless you can understand why sinners come up short against the law, this conversation is generally pointless. Then again, you were the one who was shocked to hear that good works are filthy rags. If you took the law seriously, you understand the point about filthy good works.

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  149. RS: When person X is converted, we say that person X is saved from the wrath of God by Christ, but there are still some temporal consequences from the knife for the rest of that person’s life.

    Certainly, and those consequences were built into the creation from at least the Fall.

    So asserting continuity for those consequences is not a problem.

    Nor is asserting general continuity for crime-and-punishment.

    The problem is asserting specific continuity for the Israelite judicial code.

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  150. Jeff says As I pointed out, Cain did not receive the death penalty for his murder of Cain. Nor Moses for his murder of the Egyptian. In fact, we are explicitly told by Paul that the Law did not reign from Adam to Moses.

    Nonesense! God’s law says that there must be two or three witnesses! Or are you implying that God must catch every criminal for Him not be a hypocrite! You’re not thinking clearly, nor have you even begain to answer my question.

    Tread carefully, you are boadering on blasphemy if you think about the implications of that line of reasoning! So God is unjust for not rightng every wrong in our time? Puleeeze!

    Jed, you butchered God’s law! The word rape has a different meaning today. You are confusing having sex outside of marriage, and calling that rape. There is a difference! Change the crime to sodomy and my point stands tall!

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  151. Theonomy undermines the Protestant doctrine of the atonement and throws us back to the Catholic one….

    Give that man a pipe (because cigars aren’t Reformed).

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  152. Christians cannot commit murder and they will not continue in known sin as they are repenters by virtue of their new nature. But they are new creatures and now have an indwelling love for God and for others. So of course they would be able to enforce a much better theonomy than OT Israel did.

    Oh my. And I suppose if they never would have crucified Christ either then. Must be nice to be so above it all. But I hear roosters crowing, Richard.

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  153. Doug: God’s law says that there must be two or three witnesses!

    In the case of Cain, God Himself was the witness. Is He inadequate as a witness? Was there any dispute as to whether the crime had been committed? You’re reaching, Doug.

    Doug: Or are you implying that God must catch every criminal for Him not be a hypocrite!

    I’m implying that God does not have to punish every crime in the exact same way in order for him to be just. Nor does man. It is not unjust for civil sanctions to vary according to the purposes and needs of societies.

    Doug: …nor have you even begain to answer my question.

    Actually, I did. You asked for a logical reason why the civil penalties could be done away with without violating the moral law. I gave you two. Now, refute them, or else accept them.

    Doug: Tread carefully, you are boadering on blasphemy if you think about the implications of that line of reasoning! So God is unjust for not rightng every wrong in our time? Puleeeze!

    I’m glad that you agree that it would be blasphemy to accuse God of injustice. Now train that blasphemometer on the theonomic presupposition, noticing that God did not enact the judicial laws until the time of Moses, and we’ll be on the same page.

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  154. Jeff, just replace Bahnsen’s name, with Calvin’s becuase as I’ve already established, they were on the same page! Remember the Bucer quotes? You need to fess up Jeff, Calvin and Bahnsen were of one mind on the Mosaic judicials. They believed in the same punishments for crime to a tee!

    Moreover, you’re misrepresenting me! I have always said “being under the law” was a good thing, until Christ fulfilled the shadows. Being under the law, simply meant being under the yoke of the Mosaic administration. So of course Jesus was under the law!

    The most insulting charge is you calling my position RC! How dare you? My view is in perfect harmony with Martin Bucer and John Calvin! Just look at the laws they had on the books!

    Jeff, so Jesus fulfilled the judicials? Balderdash times ten! That is a category mistake! So let the thief go! Let the rapist go! Let the sodomite go! Let the murderer go! That line of reasoning is absurd, especially since Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish the law” twice in the same paragraph! Just read the abstract of the Law of New England! It puts the lie to what you just asserted. You’re in quick sand up to your neck!

    Moreover, you are confusing Christ’s vicotory over sin, with socio political ethics, which haven not, can not change! BTW, arent you FOR the DP for murder? By what standard? Yikes! The DP for murder is in the Mosaic law! The one you claim Jesus fulfilled! This knocks your illogical house of cards to the ground.

    The right answer is Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law, NOT penal sanctions for crime! For you to be “logical” we shouldnt punish anyone for anything! God forbid! So you have missed the purpose for the penal sanctions in the first place! To give an eye for and eye! So that the punishment would fit the crime!

    I’m in a hurry today, and I have much more to say. You have confused Christ’s atonement sacrifice, with socio political ethics. Two different animals.

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  155. Zrim quoting RS: Christians cannot commit murder and they will not continue in known sin as they are repenters by virtue of their new nature. But they are new creatures and now have an indwelling love for God and for others. So of course they would be able to enforce a much better theonomy than OT Israel did.

    Zrim: Oh my. And I suppose if they never would have crucified Christ either then.

    RS: I John 3:15 “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” In salvation God takes the sinner and changes them from being those who at enmity with God to those who love God. No, true Christians would never have crucified Christ.

    Zrim: Must be nice to be so above it all. But I hear roosters crowing, Richard.

    RS: You might not hear the roosters if you would study the doctrine of regeneration more and take I John 3:15 to heart.

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  156. Hi Doug,

    Clearly I’ve touched a nerve. Let’s sort out a couple of issues, after a deep breath in which you recover from being associated with Catholicism and I recover from being called a blasphemer.

    I’ve already expressed my theological concerns about theonomy above. If you find them offensive, please be assured that I am describing the view, not the man. People are inherently inconsistent, so I have no reason to believe that you personally hold to a Catholic soteriology.

    I am simply observing that in the Protestant doctrine of the atonement, it is important that Jesus bears the curse of the law on Himself, and this curse of the law is not God’s wrath against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fibers. I hope that you can agree.

    On the scholarship side, you really haven’t established your position that Calvin and Bahnsen have the same position. The scholarship is lacking, brother.

    First, you are relying on secondary sources to substantiate your position. We’ve already discussed the weakness there: you are relying on your source to shape and interpret the quotations.

    Second, you are ignoring and dismissing contrary primary source evidence. I’ve provided serious contrary primary source evidence above, and connected it with the language of the Confession. You’ve dismissed the evidence as being not “real quotes”, which is what we call “wishful thinking.”

    Contrary evidence is very important to the scholar for the simple reason that he *must* account for it. You haven’t done so.

    Third, you haven’t paid careful attention to the source you used. Here is Bucer as cited by yourself:

    For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses…

    And then he goes on to say,

    …namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.

    Bucer is separating the substance and proper end of the commandments from the specific judicial penalties. And he says that these judicial penalties are no longer in force.

    If you want to claim Calvin and Bucer, then your proper position is the theocratic, not the theonomic position. What is the difference? The theocrat upholds

    (1) Applications of the OT law to current law,
    (2) Upholding of both tables of the decalogue.

    The theonomist, according to Bahnsen in the article, upholds the abiding validity of the specific judicial codes unless specifically abrogated. As you can see from your own quote, Bucer did not.

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  157. Doug,

    I absolutely have not mishandled the Deuteronomy passage, there is little to no debate amongst the commentators that 22:25 and 28 both speak of rape. The first is of a betrothed woman in vv. 25-27, where the man is punished to death as an adulterer for defiling another man’s wife, and the betrothed woman is held guiltless. In vv. 28-29 the man who rapes a unbetrothed virgin is liable for the bride-price, and must marry the woman, without ever being permitted to divorce her.

    In the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, the entry on Sexual Ordinances (Vol. 4 pp. 1198-1211) states:

    “If a man raped a virgin not already engaged, he paid the father the bride price whether or not he married her (Exod. 22:16-17 [15-16]). But the father had the right to refuse this offer of marriage and determine the fate of his daughter. According to Deut. 22:28-29, he had to marry her and could never divorce her, no mention is made of the father’s right of refusal. The difference between Exod. and Deut. is due to the emergence in Deut. of public concern and control over sexual behavior: in Duet., the community had an interest in preserving the chastity of young girls (c.f.Stulman, 46-63)

    Additionally, wouldn’t it be a theonomic faux paux to deviate from the judicial Law, and swap it out for modern charges of Sodomy? I mean, either the judicial Law is still sufficient or it isn’t. It seems you wan’t to have your cake and eat it too. The charge of sodomy would not have been applicable in the case of the OT, because the modern use of the DP would have left the victim’s family without restitution. Of course I am open to you actually proving that I have mishandled this passage, but for now I will stick to my sentiment that you have done nothing but a little hand waiving and cavilerly dismissed my argument.

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  158. Zrim: Theonomy undermines the Protestant doctrine of the atonement and throws us back to the Catholic one….

    Give that man a pipe (because cigars aren’t Reformed).

    RS: Neither are murderers.

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  159. Doug: Jeff, so Jesus fulfilled the judicials? Balderdash times ten!

    Well, Bucer said so.

    For emphasis: For inasmuch as we have been (1) freed from the teaching of Moses (2) through Christ the Lord (3) so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses…

    1, 2, 3.

    Doug: Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish the law” twice in the same paragraph!

    Yes. In greater context,

    For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    So when was “everything accomplished”? The ceremonial law was included in the “strokes and letters of the law.” Has it been fulfilled? I know you say Yes. When was that fulfillment? In the life and death and resurrection of Christ.

    What then is the objection to saying that the judicial law has also been fulfilled?

    Ah … because you cannot conceive of a way for the judge to do his job UNLESS he looks to the Mosaic judicials.

    And again, I point you to the time, thousands of years of time, between Adam and Moses, in which there were no Mosaic judicials. You have yet to even touch this point.

    So you’re stuck asking questions like this: BTW, arent you FOR the DP for murder? By what standard? Yikes! The DP for murder is in the Mosaic law! The one you claim Jesus fulfilled! This knocks your illogical house of cards to the ground.

    And yet Genesis 9 answers your question entirely.

    Doug, the problem here really is the Theonomic Presupposition that the judicial law is an extension of the moral law. That view is a novelty in the history of Reformed theology, and it’s keeping you from properly reading the evidence.

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  160. Jeff Cagle quoting RS: When person X is converted, we say that person X is saved from the wrath of God by Christ, but there are still some temporal consequences from the knife for the rest of that person’s life.

    Jeff Cagle Certainly, and those consequences were built into the creation from at least the Fall.

    So asserting continuity for those consequences is not a problem.

    Nor is asserting general continuity for crime-and-punishment.

    The problem is asserting specific continuity for the Israelite judicial code.

    RS: To be clear, I am trying to look at this from the atonement side as opposed to the theonomy side. If you agree that there is a general continuity for crime-and-punishment, I am unclear on how theonomy would drive us away from the Reformed view of the atonement and dump us in the Roman view. I don’t think that those who say that the Israelite judicial code should be kept are saying that keeping the code satisfies the wrath of God for sin, but simply that He who is perfectly just can set out a punishment for crime that is just. Again, I am not arguing the point, but just trying to get at what you are saying.

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  161. Richard, I hear you. It would be easy to slide over into “Jesus has fulfilled all punishment; there is no punishment left.”

    But if we see instead that punishment has multiple ends, then things are clearer. Punishment in general and justice in general is for society everywhere, for Sons of Adam.

    Holiness in specific is for Sons of God.

    The OT judicials commingled these. Hence: You shall be holy, for I am holy.

    Jesus fulfills the second but not the first purpose; hence, the general principle of justice abides, but the specific commands do not. To fail to affirm this is to fail to affirm that Jesus fulfilled all righteousness on the cross.

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  162. Jed,

    A good case can be made that Deut 22:28 is not referring to rape at all, but fornication. For one, they are both found out, or discovered, which assumes guilt in both parties. The Hebrew “shakab taphas” can be translated, “to take hold of her to lie with her, which would again simply refer to sex.” “chazaq,” the common word for rape, which is used in v. 25, is not used here. Plus, it would not make much sense to say: v. 22- a man committing adultery should be put to death; v. 23 both the man and pledged virgin who fornicate are to be put to death, v. 25 a rapists shall be put to death, and then v. 28 – a rapist who rapes a single virgin should only pay a fine and marry her.

    Many well-known exegetes have come to the same conclusion about this text:

    John Gill “If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed…” That is, meets with one in a field, which is not espoused to a man; and the man is supposed to be an unmarried man, as appears by what follows: and lay hold on her, and lie with her, she yielding to it, and so is not expressive of a rape, as (Deuteronomy 22:25) where a different word from this is there used… ”
    (The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible;)

    Meredith Kline: “The seducer of an unbetrothed virgin was obliged to take her as wife, paying the customary bride price and forfeiting the right of divorce” (Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy, p. 111).

    Matthew Henry”: “… if he and the damsel did consent, he should be bound to marry her, and never to divorce her, how much soever she was below him and how unpleasing soever she might afterwards be to him” (Commentary on the Whole Bible).

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  163. Can I just say that writing “DP” repeatedly in posts dealing with rape and sodomy has a vastly different meaning than the one intended?

    Maybe not being lazy and actually typing out “death penalty” would be a better option.

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  164. Richard, theonomy is functionally Roman-esque not because it says that keeping the Israelite judicial code satisfies the wrath of God for sin, but because it implies that Jesus doesn’t. And if Jesus doesn’t then something else does. Theonomy’s basic problem is that it undermines messianic fulfillment. At best, he’s only a partial Savior, just like in the Roman construal.

    And if we take theonomy at its pious sounding word that all it’s after is lending godly health to judicial life, then shouldn’t we also follow all the OT codes for dietary life in order to lend godly health to our physiological constitutions? But I’m not about to give up bacon and lobster. And so where does any of it really end—what about the strictures for family life, financial life, etc.? John 5:39-40 comes to mind: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

    In other words, theonomy misses the messianic forest for the judicial trees.

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  165. Jeff, you did touch a nerve! And now you’re compounding it! Did you read Bucer’s whole quotes? He leaves no doubt that he was theonomic! I know what’s going on, you LOVE Calvin, and it pains you to the core to be forced to confess he was theonomic! Just take your medicine, he was! As were all the reformers! Jeff, read Meredith Kline, he thought the WCF 19.4 upheld theonomy! So either Kline was a idiot, or he was seeing something you’re missing. I’ll take the latter.

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  166. Hi Jeff, 🙂

    I took a few deep breaths, and feel much better! It seems as if you missed this Bucer quote:

    “But since no one can desire an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in His law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over His people that follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.

    Can there be any doubt where Bucer stood? He unabasheldy says we should look to God’s law for instruction on how to punish evil doers, and that my friend is theonomy 101!!!

    We no longer have to put a rail around the roof of our house, unless you have a flat roof, and entertain guests on it. But if you have a pool where children can fall in, you put a cover over it, or a fence around the pool. In other words, the substance of the law is still in force! That is precisly what 19.4 was gettingt at.

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  167. Doug,

    May I suggest that your pinkie be shortened thus preventing you from overusing the exclamation point? It does not help make your point any.

    I leave you with the famous words of Terry Pratchett, “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.”

    Seeing that you used seven exclamation points in a ten sentence post, I am not sure what that is a sign of……..

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  168. Doug,
    Are you sure that’s what 19.4 says? “The substance of the law is still in force?
    “To them (Israel, LK) 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.”

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  169. To all; as much as Dr Greg Bahnsen clashed with Kline on theonomy, Bahnsen has many good things to say about Kline. He thought Kline was rigtht on a whole host of issues and thought his exegisis was brilliant. It’s just that Klines intrusion ethic left him wanting; and not only Bahnsen, but the whole reformed world is still rather confused by it. Moreover, Kline didnt feel the need to exegeticallyl prove his premise, he claimed any covenant child could see it.

    Sadly, none of the reformers like Calvin, Bucer, and Turruntin could grasp Klines intrustion ethic; nor can I.

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  170. “It’s just that Klines intrusion ethic left him wanting; and not only Bahnsen, but the whole reformed world is still rather confused by it.”

    To say “whole reformed world” would be incorrect. Randy Snyder has done extensive reading of Kline and understands him quite well. You should ask him about intrusion ethics. I am sure he would be able and willing to answer all questions you may have about the topic specifically or Kline in general.

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  171. Positive Richard, to prove it beyond any doubt, look at the laws they passed! They were all theonomic! It would be absurd to say they were against theonomy and then turn around a pass theonomic laws! Read Martin Bucers rational for the laws, he pulled them straight out of the Mosaic law!

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  172. Richard, check this out carefully. Jeff, lets hear you interact with this!!!

    “But since no one can desire an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in His law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over His people that follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.

    Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the Worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God (Dt. 13:6-10, and 17:2-5); for all who blaspheme the name of God and his solemn services (Lv. 24:15-16); who violate the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15, and 35:2; Num. 15:32-36); who rebelliously despise authority of parents and live their own life wickedly (Dt. 21:18-21); who are unwilling to submit to the sentence of supreme tribunal (Dt. 17:8-12); who have committed bloodshed (Ex. 21:12; Lv. 24:17, Dt. 19:11-13), adultery (Lv. 20:10), rape (Dt. 22:20-25), kidnapping (Dt. 24:17); who have given false testimony in a capital case (Dt. 19:16-21).”

    Martin Bucer
    16th century Magisterial Reformer
    The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties

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  173. Jeff and the gang, look at Bucer’s rational for penal sanctions! He takes them straight from the law! Jeff, how can you claim that Bucer thought the penal sanctions had expired?

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  174. Todd,

    Thanks for givigng some pushback here, it will allow me to explain a little more. Sorry if I am not terribly impressed by Gill and Henry on this account, both in terms of their grasp of Hebrew and the ANE sources are lacking. And while seduction is also in play in Dt. 22, I think that Kline’s interpretation is not picking up on the broader semantic range of tpsh. Here’s why:

    1) The verb hzq translated as “siezes” in Dt. 22:25, means in its basic (Qal.) root: “Grow firm, strong, strengthen”. In this verse it is in the hiphil stem, giving it a causative/reflexive intensity, whichif we were to woodenly translate would be “he causes himself to be strong upon her”, but BDB and the ESV both correctly translate the forceful and intense action, initiated by the male upon the woman, as seize” She is the recipient of the male’s action, and there is no indication of complicity on the woman’s part. hzq elsewhere in The OT is used as a term to indicate military might, or the power of God to bring about salvation and judgement. So the use of the term here should indicate the strength and force of the action. So I do not know how we can construe v25 to be describing anything but a forceful rape.

    2) In Dt. 22:28-29, the verb used, is tpsh which means “lay hold of, wield” (BDB), and it is used in the Qal stem. tpsh lacks the emphasis on raw force that hzq does, but they should be considered as semantically overlapping, as it is also translated as sieze, and can denote force. Again, the man is the progenitor of action, and no remark is made to the virgin’s volition, whether she is being forced upon or complicit. This should not be shocking, since, in that culture, the virgin was not considered to have any volotional right to determine who she would or wouldn’t lie with, this was a decision for her father to make based upon coming to agreement upon the bride-price. Whatever the volition of the virgin was with respect to the sex act, if she fought it off or was complicit, it was considered to be rape because the volition of the father, and the community standards had been violated all in order to please the man in question. The same NIDOTTE article I quoted above reinforces the term states “A man who had sex with a woman without proper arrangments was said to rape the woman even if she consented. This usage is found in Dinah and Shechem (Gen. 34). Dinah had gone out, and Shechem, seeing her, lay with her and had illicit sex with her. In this way he treated her as a whore rather than a proper woman whose parents had to be consulted.” (p. 1206). This means we can affirm that vv28-29 are describing rape of some form, whether it was forceful or as a result of seduction, because there is more liquidity in tpsh, but not enough to remove the possibility of rape.

    3) On the matter of the volition of the woman, we can rule out the woman’s complicity as determinitive in whether or not a rape has occured in the case of the rape of unbetrothed virgins (Dt. 22:28-29) and countryside rapes of betrothed women (Dt. 22:25-27). The only instance (Dt. 22:23-24) where the woman’s volition has preformative legal value is a) betrothed, and b) if she resists (by screaming for help). If she does not resist in a place where she can be helped, she and the man would be considered guilty of adultery and liable for death. So, the un-engaged virgin, basically has no legal volition in the matter of rape, that belongs to her father, who, like the virgin has had his household defiled. Yet, unlike the cases where betrothed women are raped, the death penalty is not in play for a man who either rapes or seduces a virgin who is not betrothed. The passages in Ex. and Deut. 22 serve to illustrate how grevious Jacob’s sons crimes were against Shechem in Gen.24, since a bride price had been agreed upon, and Dinah betrothed, even after she was violated.

    This gets to the crux of my argument with Doug, he seems to be pushing for the execution of all rapists in his theonomic political views. My counter was that if we are using OT Law as a jurisprudential basis for his theonomic politics, then there would be cases where rape victims would be required to marry their rapists. Moreover,, any man who sleeps with a virgin who is not engaged whether or not she was complicit would be considered guilty of rape. While these conventions, and legal precedents were perfectly suitable to the ANE context of ancient Israel, they would be considered supremely cruel, by even most believers today, because our cultural setting is so vastly different.

    This is why the framers of the WCF opted for the general equity approach, and why NL has figured so prominently in Reformed approaches to cultural and political matters. In this manner, we can affirm that rape is a crime, without having to devise punishments that would be equally burdensome on the victim in today’s context as it would be on the criminal. I don’t know about you, but if a man was caught raping my unmarried daughter, I would want him in prison (or more likely in the crosshairs of a rifle scope) than for her to have to marry him upon his restitution made to me. To me this is a good test case to see where theonomy breaks down in practice.

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  175. DGH scornfully asserts: Doug, you whine about America as if it were Israel. It’s not. Never was. Never will be. Catch up to redemptive history.

    What part of lament can’t you understand? Why can’t you stay consistent, if Jeremiah wasnt a whiner, why would call me a whiner? Was Lot a whiner? Was Jesus a whiner No? Then how about dropping the insults! You call me a whiner, and then wonder why you get some push back?

    As Sly Stalone once said: “He drew first blood”

    Darryl you need to re-read these verses Richard posted:

    Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

    2 Peter 2:8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),

    2 Kings 22:19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.

    Psalm 119:53 Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked, Who forsake Your law.

    Psalm 119:136 My eyes shed streams of water, Because they do not keep Your law.

    Ezekiel 9:4 The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.”

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  176. Doug,

    Thanks, but Jed’s question still stands, though tweaked a bit with our understanding of the passage. If you had a teenage daughter, and she in a season of weakness or rebellion committed fornication with a total loser, would you really want the government to force them to be married for life?

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  177. Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the Worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God

    Doug,

    The question is then raised, “how does one define a state sanctified to God and does America fit this description?”

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  178. Jed says: This gets to the crux of my argument with Doug, he seems to be pushing for the execution of all rapists in his theonomic political views.

    Not true Jed! Not all rape is the same. Today what some call date rape is not DP offense imho

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  179. Jed,

    I agree with your argument in general against theonomy, I just do not think that verse is a good test case to use against theonomists given the likelihood, or even possibility, that you are interpreting it wrongly. If, as they say, our strongest argument is our weakest link, I would simply suggest looking elsewhere in the OT law to make your case, for there are plenty of clear examples.

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  180. Doug,

    My longtime sparring partner, and interweb buddy (theonomy notwithstanding) how do I owe you an apology? I have offered not only commentary evidence, but grammatical and cultural exegesis to prove my point. You piggyback on a few preliminary comments made by someone else and expect an aplogy? So maybe all commentaries are not in agreement (the ones I own are), that is the only place I think I have overstated my case.

    No, you need to prove to me how I have butchered the reading of Dt. 22. It would be fine with me if you said, no, I read these as refering exclusively to seduction, because Hebrew lacks the precision that Greek or even modern English. But, even then you would have to make a case, which you haven’t. You can’t say someone has mishandled Scripture (one of the many accusations you are throwing around here) without some, even brief (after all this a blog), justification for doing so.

    Todd and I can chew on this for a while if needs be, because I know he isn’t going to slap me with a “twisting Scripture” penalty over a disputed translation of a term that doesn’t easily translate from Hebrew to English, and I am not going to do the same to him. I am pretty confident in the overall soundness of my arguments here, and even if they need tweaking, I think their substance will require you to interact with them, and prove me wrong, before I can consider an apology.

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  181. Jed, I didnt throw twisting of the Scripture on you! But you’re right, maybe an apology is a bit strong, so I’l back off that request, okay? 😉

    Chew on it brother! And please feel free to correct or admonish me when nessasary.

    God bless you!

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  182. Doug: how can you claim that Bucer thought the penal sanctions had expired?

    Because he says, quite plainly, that they had.

    Once more: For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses …

    So how then do I account for the fact that Bucer then goes on to recommend the OT laws as a standard for justice? And I freely admit: he does. here is the full text from which your quote comes.

    He clearly reaches into the OT for guidance on civil laws for all sorts of matters.

    Except when he doesn’t. For example, read Bucer on divorce. There, he mixes and matches Scripture and the laws of other nations.

    What Bucer is doing is to admit that the OT penalties had expired, BUT to seek in them their basic principle as the most excellent guidance for human laws. For Bucer, the OT Law is best practice, not moral requirement.

    Nevertheless, consider what end Bucer is tending towards.

    First, let’s start with your quote: “Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God…”

    Already, we are in stormy waters. Which state is sanctified to God? (Hint: rhymes with ‘birch’).

    Then, at the close, he writes,

    In this institution, modification, and enforcement of penalties Your
    Majesty will prove his trust and zeal for governing the commonwealth
    in a holy way for Christ the Lord, our heavenly King, if for every single
    crime, misdeed, or offense he establishes and imposes those penalties
    which the Lord himself has sanctioned.

    That sounds like you. I can hear Doug clapping through the internet. But there’s more …

    By means of these, in addition
    to changing and arousing to true repentance those who have sinned, he
    will strike the others with fear and dread of sinning; thus he will seek to
    burn away, i.e., deeply excise and exterminate, not only all licentiousness
    and boldness in wrongdoing, but also all yearning and desire
    for it. This is the purpose of penalties and punishments which God
    proposes in his law.

    — De Regno introduction.

    Notice what Bucer believes about the Law: that it can burn away our wicked desires. That it improves civil society and the hearts of individuals. Do you agree with him? Is this the theonomic package that you want to carry inside our doors?

    To summarize: Bucer distinguishes between Mosaic requirement and general equity. His read of general equity is to tend towards the letter of the law, which is certainly Bahnsen-esque. But his understanding of the function of the Law, as changing the heart, is one that I hope you would recognize does not reflect mature Reformed theology.

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  183. Jed,

    Thanks. I appreciate your work. I would argue this way:

    1. The lack of the usual term for rape in v. 28 is not to be ignored or under-appreciated. Legal codes are not known for stylistic differences; they mostly employ matter-of-fact language. The usual word for rape would be expected in a legal list of penalties against rape.

    2. The few times in the OT this combination of Hebrew words is used for rape, there is always a corresponding word for violate, (anah), to carry the idea of rape instead of simply sex. “And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.’ But he would not listen to her, and being stronger (chazaq) than she, he violated (anah) her and lay (shakab) with her. (II Sam 13:10ff.)

    3. If Exodus 22:16 is a restatement of the same law, which I believe it is, then it would explain the Deut passage: “If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife.”

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  184. Todd,

    Here’s why I think the whole question of sexual ordinances in the OT, not just rape, is a good test case – not the only one by any means – in showing why theonomy struggles in the arena of practical application. I think Doug is fairly representative of theonomists in general that view rape as warranting a capital crime, and that we should base our rape laws on what the Mosaic Law says. Here’s the problem, when Doug, or you, or I say “rape” we have a definite concept of what constitutes rape, wcich is informed by our own modern law codes. The problem, which the discussion on how to interpret Dt. 22 only serves to reinforce, is that “rape” in the modern vernacular has no semantic equvalent to Mosaic, or any other Ancient Near Eastern term. The fact of the matter is that almost all language describing sex in the OT, whether describing sexual physiology or organs, sexual acts (permissible or forbidden), is intentionally indirect, and reliant on subtlety and euphamistic connection. So instead of a precise term such as “sexual intercourse” we get “knew”, “went into”, “lay with”, etc. There is no term that precisely translates to “rape”, rather we hear of a woman being “taken”, or “siezed”, and these terms, while always indicating some sort of impropriety, do have semantic overlap with “seduce”. This gives some flexibility in the legal application of the terms, so that, in the case of an un-engaged virgin, whether she was seduced or forcibly violated, her family has legal recourse, and she gains marital/legal protection in a society where she would invariably be viewed as damaged goods and not a good candidate for marriage.

    This is why I view it as a good test case, because of the ambiguities and vagueries surrounding it. The theonomist cant simply sloganeer, “all rapists should be executed” and think that the Law outlined in the OT backs up their assertion, because the OT doesn’t develop the concept or the legal proceedures surrounding rape the way we do today. Nor does it demand the death penalty in all cases of rape. The problem of the transferability of the Law to modern times is not limited to sexual ethics, but the problems it raises are serious for theonomy. This is without even discussing how the Reformed tradition has approached the issue of how and in what ways the Law is still binding on humans, or how they deal with general equity, the light of nature, good and necessary consequence, division of powers, or even Natural Law. To me, contemporary Reformed theonomists constantly oversimplify these issues in an effort to see Scripture become the basis for modern human politics and jurisprudence.

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  185. Todd, great question! I usually feel I have a big advantage over you guys because, I have thought and meditated on how *some* of these laws could be applied, without thinking them absurd.But even with my *imagined* advantage, this one is a tuffy.

    So your queston about my daughter be seduced in a moment of weakness (to a loser) is interesting, but I would have to know more. Was this a committed christian she had an afair with? Was this a one time oops? What is going on in her walk? Or, is there an even bigger underlieing issue? What was I doing letting her go on a date with this out of control young man! (Arent most of them?!)

    Moreover your queston is sooooo contemporary American! One of our big problems, imho is the *we* (me included) are more American, than Christain. We eat of the worlds entertainment which is like a Jew eating unlclean food imho, and wonder why God’s law seems to barbaric to us. I think the problem is with us (and me) please dont take this like I think I have the moral high ground you Todd. We’re all in this together, we are one body.

    To be honest, I’m not sure! That is what I want you exegetes to figure out! To even define “rape” would require a lot of studying, prayer, and fruit of the Spirit. Obviously our society is no where near accepting God’s law as a binding law, but even when we are ready, it would take a whole lot of wisdom.

    Let me give a quick example, did you see the half time show at the last Super Bowl? That was incredibly seductive! I had never heard of the singer before, but WOW was she being obvious? If we feast on that kind of entertainment, it’s gong to be hard for us Christians to accept God’s laws on sexual behavior. Let alone hard core porn, the fifty pound gorilla in the corner. None of us ever wants to bring up that subject. I would call those strongholds that we all need to be praying that God will bring down. They effect us and our children, and if we’re not careful, we can get sucked in. I know from first hand experiecne, been there, done that!

    To sum it up, I would really have to study the rape issue more.

    That’s why I pray for God to collectivly change our nations heart back to him. Will we ever be perfect? Of course not! But if the Pilgrams who founded New England law felt it was good to look to God’s Word to punish crime, I think it’s something we need to pray and contend for. I think it’s coming sooner than many of us could imagine because I see a crash coming in our economy that will shake whatever may be shaken. And I’m not saying God told me, or saying this is the end, but I can’t see how our government can keep going in the hold, and not crash.

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall, amen? And when our nations has a financial collapse the crash will be great. Maybe that’s what will finally get our attention. Our nations has become very proud and arrogant against the very laws that we were founded on.

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  186. Todd,

    To your last comment, all I would argue is that context (textual, cultural, and historical) are the only way we can determine meaning. In Hebrew especially, but also in all human language, unless a word is used in a technical manner, it is not appropriate to assume a gloss or dictionary definition as adequate to explain how a term is used in a given context. This is where theological disctionaries, and even lexicons are so helpful, they elicidate the diversity and semantic range of a term. Moreover, I would not easily dismiss the findings of NIDOTTE, as it does give rigorous semantic, cultural, cognate, and theological analasys of the usage of OT terminology, which should factor into how a passage uses a term. Here Deut. 22 is described as dealing with rape, and the question of the woman’s volition in the act does not equate to modern understandings of rape, where consent mitigates againsts all allegations of rape. In the OT, the woman’s consent is secondary, and in the case of the virgin who isn’t engaged it is a non issue.

    The 2 Sam. example you cite would, to me serve better to illustrate the diversitly of the term, than to give a legal definition for, which would be more appropriate in the legal texts of Deut. and Exod. Moreover, there are qualifying terms in Deut. 22 that speak of hzq and tpsh as a “violation” of the woman. I tend to shy away from technical qualifiers in the OT, because, while in Greek, they tend to hold a lot more more interperative force, the Hebrew language is much more fluid, and contextually determined. I would simply say that a Hebrew term can indicate a range (not unlimited, but bound by semantic borders) of meaning, and in legal texts this served to give thise who judged some flexibility in how they applied the law and issued fair judgements. For an example of terms communicating a semantic range, we can look to the shema, where God is said to be “one” (ehad) – ehad can mean one numerically, or one of unity, or one of simplicity, all of which are contemplated in our Doctrine of God, to which the shema is indicative of.

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  187. Guys my home computer is having problems, so I am at the library and I dont have spell check or word. So forgive all the mis spells.

    Nice exegisis Todd, keep going!

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  188. Doug,

    I was simply responding to your charge, “Jed, you butchered God’s Law!”, so it wasn’t twisting, it was butchering – a distinction without difference.

    But, no worries, I know you are a passionate guy, and sometimes that is reflected in your penchant for hyperbole. I just felt particularly inclined to nail you on that one because I thought it might move the discussion forward.

    The main area I want to push you on isn’t how theonomy, or theocratic thought has been argued in the Reformed tradition, others are carrying on about that issue, but rather some of the practical difficulties that theonomy faces exegetically as it seeks to contextualize OT Law in a modern setting, given the vast differences between the culture of Israel and the modern West. To me, the only way theonomy works practically is to take a very flat, stilted reading of the OT, and to misunderstand the role of the Law in the history of salvation.

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  189. Jed,

    Doug thought my exegesis was better than yours, so I’m changing my mind – you must be right.
    (Just kidding Doug)

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  190. Jed I recognize textual difficulties in applying the law in a sensitive new covenant context, as did Cartwright, Calvin, Bucer and even Bahnsen. Not all these questions are easypeasy.

    Jed who are you drawing your exegesis from? Who are you reading to get this take?

    Todd; Ha ha! This isnt the first time we’ve been on the same side. I’d like to see more of it., keep up the good work, your exegesis is clear, cogent, and spot on imho.

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  191. DGH,

    Are you saying you wouldn’t want to take the middle seat between Edwards, aka Richard, and Bahnsen, aka Doug on a non-stop to Calcutta? Especially when the lavatory is out of service because of Bahnsen’s fear it will be used to violate OT Law (eg. The Mile High Club), and drink service has been suspended at Edwards’ request, so as not to diminish spiritual ardence amongst the truly converted on the plane?

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  192. Jed,

    If you had to pass a theonomic / pietistic TSA screening, the plane ride would be easy. And lonely.

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  193. So who gets to be appointed Philosopher King of the Theonomist movement?

    After watching all those horror movies years ago, hopefully someone who reminds us of the work of Vincent Price, he had a few memorable roles of the judge of “righteousness” in the name of religion.

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  194. Todd, How did Jesus death fulfill the penal sanction of kidnapping? And why? Do you think that makes sense?

    Did Jesus also change the penal sanction for stealing by going to the cross? Where is there exegisis for such a claim?

    Can you give me a brief definition of typology?

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  195. D. G. Hart: Doug, oh great, it’s the Richard and Doug show. Edwards and Bahnsen together.

    Jed Paschall: DGH, Are you saying you wouldn’t want to take the middle seat between Edwards, aka Richard, and Bahnsen, aka Doug on a non-stop to Calcutta? Especially when the lavatory is out of service because of Bahnsen’s fear it will be used to violate OT Law (eg. The Mile High Club), and drink service has been suspended at Edwards’ request, so as not to diminish spiritual ardence amongst the truly converted on the plane?

    RS: This means that D.G. Hart could get straightened out on the Law and on the affections and the inner nature of true Christianity. He could stop blowing smoke in two ways and learn spirituality without the spirits.

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  196. Jeff opines: Well, if Jesus didn’t fulfill the judicial penalties, the punishment for sin remains. The theonomist’s understanding of the atonement sides with the Catholic over against the Protestant.

    Jeff you’re missing a key component, God’s law required a thief to pay back restitution. Explain how Jesus fulfilled restitution? Are you inferring since Jesus fulfilled the penal sanction, a thief no longer has too? How did Christ’s death change the justice of asking a thief to pay back restitution?

    If you agree that should thief should pay back restitution, then your whole argument falls to the ground in one loud crash. You are confusing Christ’s death with socio political ethics. Christ accomplished redemption for his people so we no longer offer sacrifices for sin. He paid for a people, once for all. Morever Jesus is forever interceding for us at the Right hand of God, and amne!

    But Christs victory over sin and death, doest change societies obligation to punish crime, moreover change the standard. Show me that concept taught in Scripture. God hasn’t changed socio political ethics and justice. You are making a category mistake, blurring our redemptive realities with on goning penal sanctions, that take place everyday? What do you say we do to a thief? Put him in adult time out?

    Socio political justice (or the general equity thereof ) can not change because it reflects the character of God. God’s law helps us to know when the punishment fits the crime in God’s eyes. And what constitutes crime from sin. God’s written law gives us enough basic principles, that a nation sanctified to God can esteem Him in they way punish crime.

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  197. Awww, Richard, you do have a sense of humor! Good thing there are certain joys even Edwards can’t throw a wet blanket on.

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  198. Kent wonders; So who gets to be appointed Philosopher King of the Theonomist movement?

    Does there have to be a king? Can’t we all just pray that our nation would collectively repent and fear God? Once *we* the body of Christ come together in unity and our heart is in the right place.God will gift those who need to lead. Let’s pray for unity.

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  199. Jed Paschall: Awww, Richard, you do have a sense of humor! Good thing there are certain joys even Edwards can’t throw a wet blanket on.

    RS: But Edwards didn’t throw a blanket on joy, but instead he spoke of the greatest joy of all.

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  200. Doug: Jeff you’re missing a key component, God’s law required a thief to pay back restitution. Explain how Jesus fulfilled restitution? Are you inferring since Jesus fulfilled the penal sanction, a thief no longer has too?

    No, I’m not.

    Doug: If you agree that should thief should pay back restitution, then your whole argument falls to the ground in one loud crash.

    No, it doesn’t.

    Doug: But Christs victory over sin and death, [doesn’t] change societies obligation to punish crime

    Correct.

    Doug: …moreover change the standard.

    And there’s your problem right there. You are assuming, without warrant, that the OT judicial penalties were provided to Israel for the purpose of giving us a universal standard of judicial penalties.

    But the Bible doesn’t teach that.

    Listen to Bucer, whom you quoted: “For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses …”

    Do you agree with Bucer? If so, then you cannot maintain your “no other standard” position any longer.

    Listen to Calvin:

    We must attend to the well known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law, and we must attend to each of these parts, in order to understand how far they do, or do not, pertain to us. Meanwhile, let no one be moved by the thought that the judicial and ceremonial laws relate to morals. For the ancients who adopted this division, though they were not unaware that the two latter classes had to do with morals, did not give them the name of moral, because they might be changed and abrogated without affecting morals. They give this name specially to the first class, without which, true holiness of life and an immutable rule of conduct cannot exist.

    15. The moral law, then (to begin with it), being contained under two heads, the one of which simply enjoins us to worship God with pure faith and piety, the other to embrace men with sincere affection, is the true and eternal rule of righteousness prescribed to the men of all nations and of all times, who would frame their life agreeably to the will of God. For his eternal and immutable will is, that we are all to worship him and mutually love one another. The ceremonial law of the Jews was a tutelage by which the Lord was pleased to exercise, as it were, the childhood of that people, until the fulness of the time should come when he was fully to manifest his wisdom to the world, and exhibit the reality of those things which were then adumbrated by figures (Gal. 3:24; 4:4). The judicial law, given them as a kind of polity, delivered certain forms of equity and justice, by which they might live together innocently and quietly. 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. But if it is true that each nation has been left at liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial, still these are always to be tested by the rule of charity, so that while they vary in form, they must proceed on the same principle. Those barbarous and savage laws, for instance, which conferred honour on thieves, allowed the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, and other things even fouler and more absurd, I do not think entitled to be considered as laws, since they are not only altogether abhorrent to justice, but to humanity and civilised life.

    16. 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 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. Now, as it is evident that the law of God which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other (August. de Civit. Dei, Lib. 19 c. 17). The law of God forbids to steal. The punishment appointed for theft in the civil polity of the Jews may be seen in Exodus 22. Very ancient laws of other nations punished theft by exacting the double of what was stolen, while subsequent laws made a distinction between theft manifest and not manifest. Other laws went the length of punishing with exile, or with branding, while others made the punishment capital. Among the Jews, the punishment of the false witness was to “do unto him as he had thought to have done with his brother” (Deut. 19:19). In some countries, the punishment is infamy, in others hanging, in others crucifixion. All laws alike avenge murder with blood, but the kinds of death are different. In some countries, adultery was punished more severely, in others more leniently. Yet we see that amidst this diversity they all tend to the same end. For they all with one mouth declare against those crimes which are condemned by the eternal law of God—viz. murder, theft, adultery, and false witness; though they agree not as to the mode of punishment. This is not necessary, nor even expedient. There may be a country which, if murder were not visited with fearful punishments, would instantly become a prey to robbery and slaughter. There may be an age requiring that the severity of punishments should be increased. If the state is in troubled condition, those things from which disturbances usually arise must be corrected by new edicts. In time of war, civilisation would disappear amid the noise of arms, were not men overawed by an unwonted severity of punishment. In sterility, in pestilence, were not stricter discipline employed, all things would grow worse. One nation might be more prone to a particular vice, were it not most severely repressed. How malignant were it, and invidious of the public good, to be offended at this diversity, which is admirably adapted to retain the observance of the divine law. 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.

    — Calv Inst 4.20.16 – 17.

    Notice that Calvin rejects the very root of your argument, that the judicial laws relate to morals. He does not accept the premise that the judicial laws are an extension of the moral law.

    So it really doesn’t matter in how many places you find Calvin appealing to Deuteronomy. Those appeals show nothing more than that he found an instance of general equity in Deuteronomy. They do not prove that he was operating under your Bahnsenian premise.

    Were Bucer and Calvin theocrats? Yes, absolutely. Did they believe that the magistrate should attend to both tables of the decalogue? Without a doubt.

    Did they believe that the magistrate was obligated to use the OT law as a standard for judicial punishment? Bucer believed it was a good idea, but not necessary; Calvin not at all.

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  201. DS: Does there have to be a king? Can’t we all just pray that our nation would collectively repent and fear God? Once *we* the body of Christ come together in unity and our heart is in the right place.God will gift those who need to lead. Let’s pray for unity.

    Doug, do you believe that you are furthering this cause by your contributions to oldlife.org?

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  202. dg:Does there have to be a king? Can’t we all just pray that our nation would collectively repent and fear God? Once *we* the body of Christ come together in unity and our heart is in the right place.God will gift those who need to lead. Let’s pray for unity.

    I am grateful to be gracefully granted the ability to come to my senses (quite often) and repent and trust in Jesus, with the hope that what you describe there will be found in the next world.

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  203. I commend this Hart lecture on the spirituality of the church to you men:

    [audio src="http://tgc-audio.s3.amazonaws.com/hart_darryl/hart-01_christianity_and_politics.mp3" /]

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  204. Doug,

    Jesus fulfilled the sanctions of the civil law because he bore our curse for lawbreaking.

    And the sanctions of the law are fulfilled to the unbeliever on Judgement Day – Hebrews 2:2 “For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?”

    And we see in I Cor 5 there is a fulfillment of the Law’s sanction in church discipline, as the church is now the kingdom Israel typified; church discipline itself being a shadow of final judgment.

    So in general – the fulfillment of the OT Mosaic sanctions for law-breaking is either fulfilled for the elect at the cross, or the non-elect on Judgement Day. As Jeff has been pointing out – the Mosaic law’s sanctions held a spiritual purpose to typify judgment, not to provide all governments of the world with good laws.

    Here is Charles Hodge: “All those laws … in the Old Testament, which had their foundation in the peculiar circumstances of the Hebrews, ceased to be binding when the old dispensation
    passed away … Deplorable evils have flowed from mistakes as to this point. The theories of the union of Church and State, of the right of the magistrate to interfere authoritatively in matters of religion, and of the duty of persecution, so far as Scriptural authority is concerned, rest on the transfer of laws founded on the temporary relations of the Hebrews to the altered relations of Christians. Because the Hebrew kings were the guardians of both tables of the Law, and were required to suppress idolatry and all false religion, it was inferred that such is still the duty of
    the Christian magistrate. Because Samuel hewed Agag to pieces, it was inferred to be right to deal in like manner with heretics. No one can read the history of the Church without being impressed with the dreadful evils which have flowed from this mistake. When reasoning from the word of God, we are not authorized to argue from the Old Testament economy, because that was avowedly temporary, and has been abolished; but must derive our conclusions from the New Testament.”
    (Systematic Theology, vol. III)

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  205. D.G.,

    One of the things that would be helpful to me in debates like this one is knowing if men are speaking as ministers, as elders, or as Christian laymen. It makes a difference. I don’t think a lot of Reformed men, including several who post here, have really grasped or thought through the spirituality of the church (and how it protects the church and the consciences of church members).

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  206. At a minimum an understanding of the spirituality of the church reveals the debates over theonomy and neocalvinism to be debates over peripheral issues. I suppose the reason we need to debate them is because there are those who would seek to make them more important than that.

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  207. Kent, you’re a Christian, right? Iron sharpens iron, right? There is a battle going on right now for the heart and soul of reformed theology. Search the Scriptures and see if what I am saying is true.

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  208. Doug,

    I have been a bit busy today, so I haven’t been able to discuss my sources over the discussion of rape laws in the OT yet. Here goes:

    1) Some of the issues I brought up are as a result of my own original research, and personal interest in the OT, ANE history, and Hebrew. However, my arguments aren’t without reputable OT scholarship backing them up.

    2) The source I believe I cited as an example yesterday was from the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis or NIDOTTE. NIDOTTE is the “conservative” OT theological dictionary that is a counterpoint to the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament and other theological lexicons. NIDOTTE, unlike say, standard Brown Driver Brigggs Lexicon of the Old Testament (BDB), not only provides definitions of OT terms, but provides detailed discussions of the terms in their biblical context and theological usage.

    Additional Sources:

    2) The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (ed. John Walton, Victor Matthews, Mark Chavalas): “Rape as a means of obtaining a marraige contract was apperantly one strategem used in the ancient Near East. Laws Regulating this practice are found in Exodus 22:16-17, and Deuteronomy 22:28-29, the Middle Assyrian laws and the Hittite laws. Thes often require the rapist to pay an especially high bride price and sometimes forbid the possibility of divorce. Sumerian Law 7, like Genesis 34, deals with a case where a young, unbrtrothed woman leaves her parent’s home and is raped. The result is an option by the parents to marry her to the rapist without her consent” (Note on Gen. 34:2, p. 66) **Note: The same laws typically apply for an unbetrothed woman who is seduced into fornication.

    3) The NIV Application Commentary: Genesis (John Walton): “In cultures where parent-arranged marriage is the norm, there are always reasons and means to bypass they system. If it is considered unlikely that a marriage will be arranged by the parents, one or both parties can take matters into their own hands. For example, if the man isseduced or the woman is raped,or if the couple engages in intercourse by mutual consent, the question of whether arrangements can be made is largely preempted. Once the girl has been deflowered, the chances of making a suitable arrangement with another family are signifigantly reduced. In such a situation, arrangements often follow for the couple to be married, though a premium bride price is usually the consequence. The Old Testament law anticipates such possibilities and gives rulings (Fn. 1. See ex. 22:16-17; Deut. 22:28-29; Sumerian Laws #7, trans. Roth Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, 44).”

    I could supply more citations, but the last thing I want to do is type quotations all day. But, various fornication/rape passages in Waltke, Eichrodt, Von Rad, as well as works in grammar and syntax guides such a van der Merwe, Waltke-O’Connor, and historical ANE sources like Nemet-Nejat would all corroborate the positions I have advocated here. But, I will throw you a bone here, the line between fornication between unbetrothed men and women and rape was not as distinct in Israel or the ancient Near East as it is now, which means that the Exod. 22 and Deut. 22 passages likely contemplate both eventualities.

    This is precisely why I am arguing that the transferrability of OT “judicial” law (no such distinctions would have been made in Israel, even though we make them today for theological arguments), is not nearly as clean and easy as you propose. If you were to transplant a faithful Israelite judge to preside over a modern rape trial, the judgement just might not be the quick death penalty that you argue for on theonomic grounds. If the trial met certain requirements, his ruling just might be something that even the most conservative Reformed might recoil from. I am not saying that this is a lethal dagger in the theonomic system, because I think it dies the death of a thousand cuts, but I think it poses some very real hurdles to theonomic jurisprudence. Don’t even get me started on OT economics and the economics of various theonomists…. we could go another 500 comments just on this.

    If you want more sources, just hit me up over e-mail or on facebook.

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  209. Todd, how did Jesus fufill just restitution for stealing? Your whole paradigm falls apart when you get asked a specific question. The Mosaic penal sanctions said a thief should make restitution. How did Jesus going to the cross change that?

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  210. I’d ask Darryl to go back and correct my errant italics html, but he is on a cigar and scotch break – the notion of flying non-stop to Calcutta with Doug Bahnsen and Richard Edwards has taken its toll on him.

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  211. “Todd, how did Jesus fufill just restitution for stealing?”

    By taking the penalty upon himself for our thievery.

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  212. Jeff, how did Jesus conquering death, effect socio political ethics? What’s changed in how soceity should punish crime? Give me one solid example of how Jesus dying on the cross changed the penal sanction for any crime? And where do you see this taught in Scripture? Give me a specific example, please.

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  213. Todd, you are making a category mistake, just because I, (we) are forgiven for all our sins both past and present (justification) doesnt negate that we should be punsihed for crime by the Magistrate in a socio political sense, does it?

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  214. He probably won’t reorder my errant numbering of my comment either, reinforcing the common perception amongst 2k critics, that basic math just isn’t our thing.

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  215. Doug,

    All nations have believed we should be punished for crime by civil authority – that is not unique to OT Israel. The purpose of the specific theocratic Mosaic sanctions were spiritual in nature, as in the Sabbath-breaking penalties. The Code of Hammurabi, which was Babylonian law before the Israeli theocracy, had similar civil laws as Israel (with some notable differences), and the pagans did not need divine revelation to create or enact such laws. I do believe that modern magistrates could gain insight by reading OT laws as well as Babylonian laws, but that is not the same as suggesting those OT sanctions were given as required law for nations outside OT Israel. Here are some laws from the Code of Hammurabi; note how similar many are to OT laws.

    If a man has borne false witness in a trial, or has not established the statement that he has made, if that case be a capital trial, that man shall be put to death.

    If he has borne false witness in a civil law case, he shall pay the damages in that suit.

    If a judge has given a verdict, rendered a decision, granted a written judgment, and afterward has altered his judgment, that judge shall be prosecuted for altering the judgment he gave and shall pay twelvefold the penalty laid down in that judgment. Further, he shall be publicly expelled from his judgment-seat and shall not return nor take his seat with the judges at a trial.

    If a man has stolen goods from a temple, or house, he shall be put to death; and he that has received the stolen property from him shall be put to death.

    If a man has bought or received on deposit from a minor or a slave, either silver, gold, male or female slave, ox, ass, or sheep, or anything else, except by consent of elders, or power of attorney, he shall be put to death for theft.

    If a patrician has stolen ox, sheep, ass, pig, or ship, whether from a temple, or a house, he shall pay thirtyfold. If he be a plebeian, he shall return tenfold. If the thief cannot pay, he shall be put to death.

    If a man has stolen a child, he shall be put to death.

    If a man has broken into a house he shall be killed before the breach and buried there.

    If a man has committed highway robbery and has been caught, that man shall be put to death.

    If the highwayman has not been caught, the man that has been robbed shall state on oath what he has lost and the city or district governor in whose territory or district the robbery took place shall restore to him what he lost.

    If a man has taken a wife and has not executed a marriage contract, that woman is not a wife.

    If a man’s wife be caught lying with another, they shall be strangled and cast into the water. If the wife’s husband would save his wife, the king can save his servant.

    If a man has ravished another’s betrothed wife, who is a virgin, while still living in her father’s house, and has been caught in the act, that man shall be put to death; the woman shall go free.

    If a man’s wife has been accused by her husband, and has not been caught lying with another, she shall swear her innocence, and return to her house.

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  216. Todd, are you telling me, that if a thug broke into your house and savagely beat and raped your wife and ten year old daghter within an inch of their lives, that his punishment should be different since Jesus went to the cross?

    Please flush out how that works in your mind. Can socio political ethics change?

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  217. Todd says: The purpose of the specific theocratic Mosaic sanctions were spiritual in nature, as in the Sabbath-breaking penalties.

    That’s quite an assertion Todd, but is it true? Let’s leave aside the Sabbath-breaking penalties for a moment, and explain how making a thief pay back restitution is spirtual in nature? How is executing a homosexual spiritual in nature? How is executing a man stealer aka kidnapper, spiritual in nature?

    And if they are not spiritual in nature, (as I contend) then what does that do to your theory? Can you say POOF!

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  218. Todd, some of the laws you posted are lawful laws. Some are unlawful, when looked at through the standard of God’s law!

    Remember Todd, it’s not a matter of IF we’re going to draw the line, it’s a matter of WHERE.

    Are we going to use the autonomous reasonings of man, or stand of the Rock of God’s commands?

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  219. Jeff, are you telling me, that if a thug broke into your house and savagely beat and raped your wife and ten year old daghter within an inch of their lives, that his punishment should be different since Jesus went to the cross?

    How does that work? Please flush out how Jesus death changed socio political ethics?

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  220. Darryl,

    I chalk it up to commenting from a wrong paradigm. If we have learned anything, paradigms are very paradigmatIc.

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  221. Jed,

    That would be my $.20.

    (Get it? Paradigm? $0.02? Thanks, I’ll be here all week. Tip your host, try the veal. Oops, no, that was cooked in milk. Try something else!)

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  222. Doug: Jeff, are you telling me, that if a thug broke into your house … that his punishment should be different since Jesus went to the cross?

    Different from what? From the specific OT penalties, or the general equity of those penalties?

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  223. Doug, you keep saying that human ethics haven’t changed since the OT (which is why we still need the OT codes). But nobody is claiming that human ethics have changed. Neither has human physiology. So if we still need OT codes for judicial life because human ethics haven’t changed then what keeps you from saying we still need OT codes for dietary life because human physiology hasn’t changed? If OT codes bring health to human jurisprudence then wouldn’t they also bring health to human physiology?

    So your theonomic program seems as silly as reverting back to a diet that precludes bacon and lobster. At least AJ Jacobs had a comedic clue about missing forests for trees:

    http://www.amazon.com/Year-Living-Biblically-Literally-Possible/dp/0743291484

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  224. Jeff, I used that one, like, weeks ago. But if I had a digm for every time I was told I had the wrong pair I’d have, like, a few more bucks.

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  225. Doug: Give me one solid example of how Jesus dying on the cross changed the penal sanction for any crime?

    I can give you not one, but three different examples of change in political polity in the NT.

    But first, there are three important questions that have gone unanswered (I know, huge flurry of posts). I think it would be helpful for you to address them.

    (A) Can you admit that Bucer explicitly states that it is not necessary to follow the civil decrees of the law of Moses, and that Calvin explicitly states that laws in accordance with natural law may rightly be different from the OT judicial law?

    I don’t want to make too much of this point, for as you rightly point out, both Calvin and Bucer appeal to the OT law at points. Nevertheless, can you admit to these facts?

    (B) Can you admit that the Mosaic code was not in force for the thousands of years prior to Moses, even among God’s people?

    (C) Can you agree with me that the Bible does not explicitly teach that the Mosaic code is the standard for the judicial laws of nations?

    Now for the changes.

    (1) When Paul addresses the issue of a man “having his father’s wife” in 1 Cor 5, he does not prescribe the death penalty for this man, nor tell the church to seek the death penalty for this man (Lev 20.11).

    (2) When Ananias and Saphira lie to the church in Acts 5, God punishes them more severely than they would have been punished under OT law.

    (3) When Paul speaks of disputes within the church, he does *not* refer the disputing parties to a judge, as would have been done in the OT. Instead, he tells the church to handle it because he assumes that the judge will be an unbeliever.

    Notice that this is a marked departure in jurisdiction from the OT. Post-exilic Jews, though ruled by foreign kings and Caesars, formed their own government to handle civil matters according to their own law. The Sanhedrin was the highest of these courts. Jews in the OT handled judicial matters with judicial sanctions from the law of God by people who were assumed to be the people of God.

    The NT does not anywhere give any indication that the church is to set up its own government beyond elders and deacons. Instead, in the NT, judicial matters are handled by the magistrate who may well be an unbeliever.

    In other words, the judicial structure of Israel has expired. The codes of Israel have therefore expired therewith, except for the general equity thereof.

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  226. Doug,

    This is one of the most important changes between the OT economy and today.

    From Abraham to Moses, God’s people were sojourners in foreign lands. They were subject to the civil polity of whatever land they happened to be in. The Covenant was observed without regard to whatever religious laws happened to be in force.

    From Moses to Jesus, the “judicial branch” ruled over God’s people. Moses judged matters of religion according to the Word of the Lord. The judges did the same.

    The kings did even more so. David was not merely a king after the kings of the nations, but he was God’s appointed ruler over God’s people. And as such, he was a type of Christ. So was Solomon. So was Zerubbabel.

    That’s part of the subtext in Matthew, in which Herod is presented as the second Pharaoh (killing the newborns, forcing the Son to flee back to Egypt), but Jesus is the second Moses (“out of Egypt I called my Son”).

    When the true king comes on to the scene, there can be no more “king of Israel.” The line of David has been fulfilled, and there cannot be another religious state with a king over the church. Hence Jesus: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.” This line would make no sense under David, for what was proper obedience to David was proper obedience to God also.

    This is why the Catholic scheme is so problematic, for the pope is viewed as king over the church. And naturally enough, the history of the Middle Ages is littered with conflicts between kings and popes as each tries to assert his respective authority.

    Because there can be no more earthly king over the Church, there can likewise be no more enforcement of the first table. As a matter of faith, it would be improper to re-establish an earthly king with the authority to build God’s temple, or to judge God’s people. Jesus is the king over the church.

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  227. (A) Can you admit that Bucer explicitly states that it is not necessary to follow the civil decrees of the law of Moses, and that Calvin explicitly states that laws in accordance with natural law may rightly be different from the OT judicial law?

    I don’t want to make too much of this point, for as you rightly point out, both Calvin and Bucer appeal to the OT law at points. Nevertheless, can you admit to these facts?

    Yes, and I agree a thousand percent! The Mosaic law has expired and no longer binds us any further than the general equity requires. But the general equity, (theonomy) or marrow of the law is perpectual. That is WHY both Calvin and Bucer believed in the death penalty for rape, blasphemy, sodomy, striking ones parents, murder, and adultery. That is basic theonomy 101.

    (B) Can you admit that the Mosaic code was not in force for the thousands of years prior to Moses, even among God’s people?

    Yes. Why did God add the law? Because of sin according to Paul, so that His people wouldnt turn into Sodom and Gamorrah, which they wound up doing anyway! See the sin of King Solomon.

    (C) Can you agree with me that the Bible does not explicitly teach that the Mosaic code is the standard for the judicial laws of nations?

    No, God said his law is to be a light for all the nations. What can that mean other than a standard for all nations? Israel was to be a city set of a hill, so that all the other nations would say, “look wha at great God they have, and look at what *just* laws they have. So no Jeff, there a coutless places in the old testament that say God’s law is the foundation for justice for any nation. Not Israel’s civil laws per se, but the general equity thereof.

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  228. Now for the changes.

    (1) When Paul addresses the issue of a man “having his father’s wife” in 1 Cor 5, he does not prescribe the death penalty for this man, nor tell the church to seek the death penalty for this man (Lev 20.11).

    Me: Jeff, have you read theonomy? Bahnsen handles this objection with ease. Of course Paul didnt ask for the Death penalty! That would be an unlawful use of the law, since they were living under Roman law! Just like Daniel didnt insist on the execution of Jews who violated Jewish law in Babylon. Just like I don’t advocate taking the law in my own hands. I would think anyone with half a brain would know that, it’s common sense! VanDrunen and Gordon are miss guided when they make this specious attack on theonomy.

    (2) When Ananias and Saphira lie to the church in Acts 5, God punishes them more severely than they would have been punished under OT law.

    Wrong! What about the sin of Achan? See Joshua 7. It was the same sin of holding back and lying about it, no? A sin which caused Israel to be defeated at Ai! Same basic sin, same punishment! Israel stoned them to death! Once again Jeff, where do you get these specious arguments? Does Gordon teach this nonsense? Or was it VanDrunen? Either way, they both show a disturbing pattern of not researching the Bible. Sloppy arguments inho. BTW, I didnt need to reserach this question, becasue I’ve read the old testament. This is an embarrasing non-point.

    (3) When Paul speaks of disputes within the church, he does *not* refer the disputing parties to a judge, as would have been done in the OT. Instead, he tells the church to handle it because he assumes that the judge will be an unbeliever.

    Jeff, Paul didnt assume the leaders of Rome were unbelievers, he knew for a fact! But is Paul teaching the church, that unblievers will perpectually be in power? God forbid! This is a classic case of taking the text out of context and trying to make an argument from silence. It stands to reason, when the people of God recieve political power, they will punish crime in a God glorifying way. This is one of the worst arguments agaisnt theonomy that I have heard. Look at the laws during the time of Calvin. Were they more in line with God’s law? Of course!

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  229. Todd, here is question, if the penal sanctoins were fulfilled, then why do you still believe in the death penalty for murder?

    Did Jesus forget to fulfill murder? And even if He did, does that mean we should no longer execute someone who commits first degree murder?

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  230. JRC: (A) Can you admit that Bucer explicitly states that it is not necessary to follow the civil decrees of the law of Moses, and that Calvin explicitly states that laws in accordance with natural law may rightly be different from the OT judicial law?

    I don’t want to make too much of this point, for as you rightly point out, both Calvin and Bucer appeal to the OT law at points. Nevertheless, can you admit to these facts?

    DS: Yes, and I agree a thousand percent! The Mosaic law has expired and no longer binds us any further than the general equity requires.

    Very good. So then, Bahnsen says this:

    GB: So theonomy teaches that civil rulers are morally obligated to enforce those laws of Christ, found throughout the Scriptures, which are addressed to magistrates … The Apostle Paul affirmed that one of the uses of the Old Testament law which we know to be good is the restraint of criminal behavior (1 Tim. 1:8-10). Jesus endorsed the penal sanctions of the Old Testament law, condemning those who would make them void by their own human traditions (Matt. 15:3-4).

    Bahnsen seems to be saying that the penal sanctions of the OT are morally obligatory. You are saying that they are not.

    How do you put that together? Again, I don’t want to make too much of this because of the whole “general equity” concept.

    But Bahnsen seems to go beyond general equity and require the letter of the penal sanction. Yes?

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  231. Doug: Once again Jeff, where do you get these specious arguments? Does Gordon teach this nonsense? Or was it VanDrunen?

    No, they are my own.

    JRC: (1) When Paul addresses the issue of a man “having his father’s wife” in 1 Cor 5, he does not prescribe the death penalty for this man, nor tell the church to seek the death penalty for this man (Lev 20.11).

    Doug: Bahnsen handles this objection with ease. Of course Paul didnt ask for the Death penalty! That would be an unlawful use of the law, since they were living under Roman law!

    Exactly so. And the church in all ages lives under the law of non-Christian nations. You, for example, live under the laws of the USA. *Even if* the US were tomorrow to scrap the Constitution and adopt OT case law as its constitution, the US would still not be a Christian nation.

    There is only one nation of God, and that is the church, as the Confession points out.

    So asking for OT sanctions is always, as you say, an “unlawful use of the law.”

    JRC: (2) When Ananias and Saphira lie to the church in Acts 5, God punishes them more severely than they would have been punished under OT law.

    Doug: Wrong! What about the sin of Achan? See Joshua 7. It was the same sin of holding back and lying about it, no? A sin which caused Israel to be defeated at Ai! Same basic sin, same punishment!

    What about it? God gave a special directive for Achan’s sin that was not contained in the judicial code. But I suppose you would argue that God was therefore being unjust, since He didn’t follow His own law to the letter?

    JRC: (3) When Paul speaks of disputes within the church, he does *not* refer the disputing parties to a judge, as would have been done in the OT. Instead, he tells the church to handle it because he assumes that the judge will be an unbeliever.

    Doug: Jeff, Paul didnt assume the leaders of Rome were unbelievers, he knew for a fact! But is Paul teaching the church, that unblievers will perpectually be in power?

    That’s not on point. Whether a believer or unbeliever happens to be in power, the jurisdiction of the government is not a religious one. Modern governments, be they ever-so-stacked with Christians, are not ordained as religious governments. Instead, they are “ministers of God” per Caesar. *Nero*, the persecuter of the church, is the government that Paul terms a “minister of God.” His lack of godliness has nothing to do with it.

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  232. Jeff, it’s really not that hard. Some of Israel’s laws were of a cultural nature. Putting a railing around the roof of your house for instance. The law expired and no longer has force, excpet for the general equity. We still obey the equity of that law today in America, in thousands of different applications. Think of the many safety laws we enjoy in America. These are all an application of the railing around the roof law. We would be fools to literally put a railing on our roof, (Jewish civil law) but the marrow of that law is widely accepted today.

    Does that help?

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  233. Jeff says That’s not on point. Whether a believer or unbeliever happens to be in power, the jurisdiction of the government is not a religious one. Modern governments, be they ever-so-stacked with Christians, are not ordained as religious governments.

    Balderdash! That is not true Jeff! All men have been commanded to repent and bend the knee to Christ. Christ has inherrited all nations, and all kings are warned to serve the one true God. This is your worst and most flawed point. This cuts agaisnt the grain of the Bible. Jesus is the ruler of the kings of earth, RIGHT NOW. See Revelations chapter one!

    If Jesus is the ruler of all the kings on earth, then all nations are called to be theocratic. So there is no such thing as a sacred/common distinction, since every man is to everything for God’s glory in his strength. Once you accept that premise, common/sacred distinctions melt like the wicked witch of the west.

    Magistrates are called ministers of God, so they need to take heed, and rule in the fear of God. They are to punish crime as God wants crime punished. See Psalms 2: The ;very law of God!

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  234. Doug: We still obey the equity of that law today in America, in thousands of different applications. Think of the many safety laws we enjoy in America. These are all an application of the railing around the roof law. We would be fools to literally put a railing on our roof, (Jewish civil law) but the marrow of that law is widely accepted today.

    Does that help?

    Somewhat. I understand now that you see the possibility for extracting general principles from the OT Law which are “moral principles with application to today.”

    What I don’t understand, then, is why you argue that failing to follow specific OT penalties is unjust. That criticism seems in tension with your method of extracting general principles.

    And here’s the problem: If you can argue for the letter as it pleases you, but extract general principles as it pleases you, then have no controlling method to distinguish between the two. You get to pick!

    And so your system has an inherent tendency, not towards theonomy, but towards autonomy. You, the magistrate, Doug Sowers, gets to decide what counts as general principle and what counts as evil changing of God’s standard.

    Now imagine a different system in which we admit the general equity of the Law, but we do not seek to enforce the specific sanctions. This is the system that Calvin puts forward. In this system, we can argue about general equity without trying to make it a matter of religious faith.

    This has two advantages. First, we are not subject to the binding of conscience’s to someone’s arbitrary decision to play the “binding OT card” here, but the “general equity card” there.

    Second, we don’t have to worry about what happens when the non-Christian gets into power.

    And he will. Power attracts flies, and some of them may even be outwardly sheep. If your system depends upon the heart condition of the magistrate, it’s a bad (i.e., unstable) system.

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  235. Jeff, would you define “religious”?

    That is a word you and Sean and DGH and Zrim keep using. All things include everything, right? And God has commanded all men to repent and serve him in faith. Therefore EVERYTHING is called to be sanctified in Christ. Even those who resist that command. There is no such thing as a religious/common distinction in the Bible. Show me one area, where Jesus hasnt claimed all rights and authority. Are we talking about the same Jesus who said: “I have all authority in heaven and earth, therefore GO.

    What part about all authroity are you missing?

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  236. Doug: Jeff, would you define “religious”?

    “Religious authority” means “authority over faith and worship.”

    Doug: Therefore EVERYTHING is called to be sanctified in Christ. Even those who resist that command. There is no such thing as a religious/common distinction in the Bible.

    There is a distinction between faith and worship, on the one hand, and other matters on the other hand.

    The church has jurisdiction over the former. The magistrate has jurisdiction over the latter. Both are accountable to God for their work.

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  237. Doug: Show me one area, where Jesus hasnt claimed all rights and authority. Are we talking about the same Jesus who said: “I have all authority in heaven and earth, therefore GO. What part about all authroity are you missing?

    I’m missing the part in your analysis where Jesus farms out his authority to humans indiscriminately.

    You assume that because Jesus has all authority (true) that therefore human magistrates have all authority also (very false). Just because the Bible regulates faith and worship (true), it does not follow that any King Charles, Dick, or Harry can pick up the Bible and be an authority over faith and worship (false).

    There are jurisdictions, and for an authority to act outside his jurisdiction is to act unlawfully.

    The magistrate does not have jurisdiction over the church. He therefore may not regulate the church in the matters of faith and worship.

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  238. Doug: Jesus is the ruler of the kings of earth, RIGHT NOW. See Revelations chapter one!

    Yes.

    Doug: If Jesus is the ruler of all the kings on earth, then all nations are called to be theocratic.

    No. All kings are called to repent (as Agrippa was called to repent), and if they do, then they will of course rule in the fear of the Lord.

    But Nebuchadnezzar did not set up a theocracy. Nor the king of Babylon in Jonah’s day.

    In fact, I don’t think there’s one instance of a theocracy outside of Israel. Is there?

    Doug: So there is no such thing as a sacred/common distinction, since every man is to everything for God’s glory in his strength. Once you accept that premise, common/sacred distinctions melt like the wicked witch of the west.

    Two big problems:

    (1) Reformed theology has uniformly accepted the sacred/common distinction. If there is no such distinction, then you need to to step away from your keyboard right now, because I can guarantee you aren’t sitting at a Christian computer.

    (2) Reformed theology has uniformly accepted a sacred/common distinction while affirming that all things are to be done for God’s glory.

    So your inference is simply incorrect. You are reasoning from a true premise to a false conclusion.

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  239. Todd, here is question, if the penal sanctoins were fulfilled, then why do you still believe in the death penalty for murder?

    Because of Genesis 9

    Did Jesus forget to fulfill murder?

    No

    And even if He did, does that mean we should no longer execute someone who commits first degree murder?

    Apples and oranges. That would be like asking that if Jesus ended the OT clean-unclean food distinctions – does that mean we are not to care about what we put into our bodies, no matter how unhealthy?

    Eph 2:14&15 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. (Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law and the OT moral commandments)

    There are certain ethical laws and characteristics that of course carry over from Old to New, for God’s character does not change, but we are not under OT Mosaic law anymore. As the Apostle stated above, Jesus set it aside.

    “Right here we have one more difference between the Law and the Gospel. The Law does not bring on the Holy Ghost. The Gospel, however, brings on the gift of the Holy Ghost, because it is the nature of the Gospel to convey good gifts. The Law and the Gospel are contrary ideas. They have contrary functions and purposes. To endow the Law with any capacity to produce righteousness is to plagiarize the Gospel. The Gospel brings donations. It pleads for open hands to take what is being offered. The Law has nothing to give. It demands, and its demands are impossible.”
    (Martin Luther – Commentary to the Galatians)

    “The Old Testament Law, according to Paul, was truly authoritative and divine. But it was temporary; it was authoritative only until the fulfillment of the promise should come.” (J. Gresham Machen – The Origin of Paul’s Religion)

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  240. There is no such thing as a religious/common distinction in the Bible. Show me one area, where Jesus hasnt claimed all rights and authority. Are we talking about the same Jesus who said: “I have all authority in heaven and earth, therefore GO.

    Doug, yes. And the one who said to render unto God what is God’s and unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. And it’s that latter teaching where we see the classic eternal-temporal distinction made by the Lord himself. You’ll recall that it drew gasps from the theonomic crowd (Mark 12) the same way it provokes you to bewilderment. There is also Peter who tells us to be in subjection to all human institutions (1 Peter 2), and Paul who commands the same since there is no human authority except that which God has ordained an dmade his minister (Rom.13).

    So it’s not as if 2k is in any way denying that Jesus is Lord over every square inch. It’s that 2k is reading the Bible and picking up very clearly that while there is one Lord there are two kingdoms, one sacred and one secular. This has been classic Christian teaching ever since Augustine. Your denial of it is the novelty here.

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  241. Jesus was the last priest ==> No more priests.
    Jesus was the last prophet ==> No more prophecy.
    Jesus was that last king of God’s people ==> No more kings of God’s people.

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  242. Jeff Cagle:
    Jesus was the last priest ==> No more priests.
    Jesus was the last prophet ==> No more prophecy.
    Jesus was that last king of God’s people ==> No more kings of God’s people.

    RS: If you don’t mind, allow me to adjust just a bit:
    Jesus is the last priest ==> No more human priests.
    Jesus is the last prophet ==> No more human prophets.
    Jesus is the last king of God’s people ==> No more human kings of God’s people.

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  243. Jeff Cagle: Yes, though Jesus is fully human.

    RS: Well, not fully human. He is a Divine Person with a 100% human nature and a 100% Divine nature. This changing stuff to be accurate is a little tougher than first thought.

    Jesus is the last priest ==> No more fallen human and non-divine priests.
    Jesus is the last prophet ==> No more fallen human and non-Divine prophets.
    Jesus is the last king of God’s people ==> No more fallen human and non-Divine kings of God’s people.

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  244. Todd, Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law. But to fulfill the moral law is a category mistake. Jesus kept the moral law, but he did not fulfill it.

    The law says a man shall not thou lay with a man, so Jesus did not lay with a man. That is has nothing to do with fulfillment. That is still something we should not do! Jesus kept all the moral demands of the law, and amen. But that is a far cry from fulfillment. Now, the ceremonial law, which were types and shadows prefiguring His saving work, yes Jesus fulfilled them! So we set the shadows aside, and by faith we rest in his completed work. Redemption has been accomplished once for all. But the moral law? It’s still the standard we are to live by; in the fruit of the Spirit.

    The moral law, is still our stadard or rule of life, and just because Jesus obyed the law, doesnt mean we arent to obey it as well. Moreover, we dont lay the moral law aside (like the ceremonial) and say now that Jesus fulfilled I don’t need too. So I see a difference Jesus keeping the moral stardards of the law and fulfilling the ceremonial law. Does that make sense to you? Do you see a distinction as well? I

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  245. Todd, are you going to go all the way with Zrim? Zrim told me, a few years ago, that because of Genesis 9 society *should* still execute a murderer BUT no one else. Not a kidnapper, not a child molester, not a thug rapist.

    Zrim contends that Jesus bloody death fulfilled the Mosaic penal sanction, EXCEPT for murder. Do you believe this as well?

    Jeff, the same question applies to you, would you concur with Zrim?

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  246. Doug, I’m agnostic on that question, not having studied it. I do not believe that the magistrate is obligated to do so just because the OT Law required it.

    On the other hand, you agreed above with Bucer and Calvin that laws of nations do not necessarily need to be framed exactly according to OT Law. So we seem to be starting with the same ground principle.

    That being the case, the real question is whether general equity requires execution of thug rapists. And I don’t know. It’s not my area of expertise.

    More seriously than the movie clip above, you wrote

    Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial law. But to fulfill the moral law is a category mistake. Jesus kept the moral law, but he did not fulfill it.

    A category mistake is to predicate something about an object that is not logically possible of the predication.

    A “green idea” is a category mistake, if intended literally. Ideas cannot have colors.
    A “sad building” is a category mistake, if intended literally. Buildings do not have feelings.
    A “Christian T-shirt” is a category mistake, if intended literally. T-shirts cannot profess faith in Christ and be baptized in the Triune name.

    “Fulfilling the moral law” is not a category mistake. Laws are capable of being fulfilled.

    And in fact, the moral Law is fulfilled through Christ’s death on the cross:

    “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” — Rom 8

    ἵνα τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ νόμου πληρωθῇ ἐν ἡμῖν — 8.4a

    As you probably know, the word used here is the standard word meaning “to fulfill.”

    So in what sense “fulfilled”?

    The moral Law carries terms and sanctions. The terms are righteousness, love for God and man. The sanctions are heaven or hell. Jesus fulfills the moral Law by meeting its requirements on behalf of His people.

    If you don’t believe that (you probably do, but didn’t think about it in this way?), then you don’t actually believe the Gospel.

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  247. Thanks Jeff, what I want to avoid, is someone saying Jesus fulfilled the moral commands, so I don’t have too. Which seems to be the implication of some people. The majority reformed position, is that the moral law is still our rule of life.

    What your talking about is Christ broke the curse of the law, which was death! He took on death, so that we could live. He became our sacrifice. He was sinnles, but because Jesus obeyed all the demands of the moral law, in no way nullifies any of the commandments!!! We don’t lay the moral law aside, like the ceremonial law.

    Do you concur??

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  248. Doug, if you don’t mind, I’ll speak for myself, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that Jesus “fulfilled the Mosaic penal sanction, except for murder.” What I have said is that the sanction for murder is grounded in the Noahic covenant of Genesis 9, which is a covenant made with all humanity. So we’d agree that capital punishment for murder is fitting, but for very different reasons. Mine depends on a creation-redemption distinction, yours on a creation-redemption collapse.

    And I don’t know why you worry about anybody saying that because Jesus fulfilled the moral law that we are somehow not obliged to it. We keep pointing you back to WCF 19, not only to show that the Reformed hold that the judicial law is now abrogated, but also to show that in contrast “The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.”

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  249. Zrim, point away! Just remember the Father of R2K Dr. Kline conceded that 19.4 upheld theonomy. So either Kline was an inane boob, (I don’t even go there) or he saw something you continue to miss. I’ll take the later 😉

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  250. Zrim, God made the covenant with Noah who was the seed of Christ, just like God made a covenant with Abraham also the seed of Christ. Both had unbelivers in their family, true enough. But your take on the Noahic covenant being made with all mankind is specious, and not the majority view. My WCF workbook calles the Noahic covenant an administration of the covenant of grace. While it’s true that God’s plans include all of mankind, God made the covenant with believers.

    In other words, I don’t much care for Klines interpretation of the Noahic covenant.

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  251. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” — Rom 8

    Jeff, this is why we are called to walk by faith! Anything that is not of faith is sin, right? Yes Christ’s obedience is ours,when we walk by His Spirit. We can also walk in the flesh, which is death. But we still need to look to God’s commandments as a rule to walk by in faith.

    In other words, when we walk by faith, we fulfill the requirement of the law. Our good works done in faith, are not considered dirty rags, correct?

    Do you concur?

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  252. Jeff and Todd, maybe I need to reframe my assertion: The old testament penal sanctions were NOT typologically foreshadowing the final judgment.

    This was Klines worst folly inho. To prove my assertion, on the last day all sin will be worthy of death, even thought crimes. But was that true for the Mosaic penal sanctions?

    Not even close! Most penalties were not DP, so how could they foreshadow the last day? This is where Kline lost the reformed world. No one could really understand what he was talking about. Yet even now men like VaDrenen and Gordon continue in this unbiblical slant forced on God’s penal sanctions.

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  253. Doug: He was sinnles, but because Jesus obeyed all the demands of the moral law, in no way nullifies any of the commandments!!! We don’t lay the moral law aside, like the ceremonial law.

    Yes, I’m perfectly fine with that.

    Doug: Just remember the Father of R2K Dr. Kline conceded that 19.4 upheld theonomy.

    Just curious — where?

    I ask because I also know that Kline held that “the amillennial position is the only interpretation of eschatology that is systematically compatible with Reformed theology.” M Kline, Comments on an Old-New Error (polemic advisory! The linked article takes a strong anti-Bahnesenian tone.). Given that theonomy is inherently postmill, I would be surprised if he also believed that the Confession is theonomic.

    In that linked article, Kline concedes that WCoF 1647 gave both tables of the law to the magistrate, but he distinguishes even this from Bahnsen.

    So I’m just wondering what your source is.

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  254. Doug: In other words, when we walk by faith, we fulfill the requirement of the law. Our good works done in faith, are not considered dirty rags, correct?

    Do you concur?

    If properly qualified, yes. What is the role of the Spirit and of Jesus in that process?

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  255. As a good Dutch Calvinist I’m being ecumenical and going through the Westminster Shorter at night with my 4, 12, and 16-year old (when she’s around). We’ve reached the section on the Ten Commandments. As soon as we get through that I’ll ask my 4-year-old his opinion on Theonomy and get back to you. That will decide the matter once-and-for-all.

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  256. We’ll start the 4th Commandment tomorrow night. I’m anxious to hear what he thinks the implications of the 4th are for returning for a second service and avoiding video games on the Lord’s Day.

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  257. Doug,

    Jeff and Todd, maybe I need to reframe my assertion: The old testament penal sanctions were NOT typologically foreshadowing the final judgment.

    Then what did they typify? Notice Ursinus’s comment on Q&A 115 of the Heidelberg Catechism:

    The use of the judicial, or civil laws, was,

    1. That they might contribute to the preservation of the Mosaic polity.

    2. That they might be types of the government of the church in the kingdom of Christ, inasmuch as the princes and kings of the Jewish nation were no less, than the priests a type of Christ, the High Priest and King of the Church. These uses, together with the laws themselves, were done away with when the ceremonies of the former dispensation were fulfilled and abrogated by the coming of Christ, and the Mosaic polity overthrown y the Romans.

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  258. Doug, while you’re looking for a reference for Jeff’s inquiry about where Kline thought 19.4 theonomic, I’ll ask a related question again (I’ve yet to see you answer this): what do you think the point is in saying “To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require”? What do you think it means to point out that a political state and its judicial laws have been vanquished and that nobody is obliged to those judicial laws? Does nobody is obliged to them really mean everyone is?

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  259. Zrim it means an old testament law like building a railing around the roof of your house, is no longer in force other than the moral or principle of the law. We put railings on our steep porch steps so someone doent break there neck on our property. Israel expired, but the marrow of the law, the general equity is perpectual. We apply “the railing around the roof” law, in thousands of appliations in America. We put covers or fences around pools. We put all sorts of safety precautions around equipment. These are all modern appliications of an old testament law, requiring a railing around the roof of your house.

    So in one sense, the civil law expired, but the essense of the law is perpectual since morality is perpectual.

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  260. David R. the Moaic penal sanctions teach all men about God’s intrinsic justice in a socio political context. It should teach all men on how God looks at sin. Those sanctions give Godly bounderies for sin/crime. God’s penal sacntions gave an eye for and eye ,when it comes to how/what crime/sin deserves what punishment. And we know since God was just in giving an eye for and eye, how much more will God be vindicated on the final day? We have no reason to conclude that the intrinsic justice of the old testament penal sanctions could change. Morality iteself would have to change, which is a conceptual contradiction. That means the general equity should be applied in our day. General equity equals theonomy.

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  261. But “general equity” is also Hodge, and even Kline (!). So there must be something about theonomy that is distinct about its understanding of “general equity.” What is that thing?

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  262. Doug, I understand the concept of general equity. But what I am asking you is why point out that Israel’s theocratic polity has expired and that it is no longer obligatory? Is that the way somebody writes who wants to see OT Israel’s judicial codes more or less embodied by modern states? Or is it the way someone writes who wants to say that Jesus is the end of the law?

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  263. Zrim, because of the Ana-baptists! They were the trouble makers taking Mosaic civil laws word for word, and re-create another Israel. We must read the WCF in the context of their day, and understand what they were up against. This is why Calvin comes down hard on people who say Israel’s civil laws are still in force, yet he’s for the death penalty for blasphemy, adultrey, homosexulity, kidnapping and rape. Just like Bahnsen, they both thought the general equity was still binding. Yet we woulldnt ask a thief to have to pay back with lambs or a goat. Today we use dollars not animals. So we must look for the principle of the equity being taught for proper restituion. But just like the railing around the roof example, today we wouldnt’ force a thief to pay back with farm animals. Theonomy agrees the Isreal’s civil laws are expired and no longer have any force, further than the general equity.

    So Calvin is easily miss understood in much of his writings when opposing he fierce rivals the Ana Baptists, lest he is guilty of contradicting himself in other places. When we see theonomy as a synomym of general equity it all comes together.

    BTW, I posted Kline complaining about the WCF and conceding 19.4 was not agaisnt theonomy a few months ago.

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  264. Doug, if the point is reading WCF 19 (and Calvin) in context then how about reading the revisions to WCF 23 and Belgic 36 in their context which effectively oppose Calvin’s notion that the magistrate is tasked with enforcing true religion?

    And I wonder if you fully grasp general equity, the point of which is that 1) certain human phenomena have moral dimensions and thus 2) to morally comport with or violate the moral code deserves either affirmation or sanction. The hows and wherefores are secondary. So that blasphemy and adultery and rape are moral violations is true. But how they are politically sanctioned is different. By your logic, it seems that unless moral trespassers are lethally punished there is no general equity (and lawlessness abounds and the sky is falling and everybody hide the women and children).

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  265. Zrim, as I have expounded before, until the church comes together in unity on what constitutes public blasphemy and idolatry, it’s both impractical and functionally impossible to enforce. Now we have far more vocal enemies, like the PC police and others, who have become politically powerful, along with groups like Queer Nation and their ilk.

    When we pray, the Lord Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will before we pray for our own needs. How about we pray for what God wants accomplished on this earth? That his kingdom would come, on earth like it is in heaven, slowly like leaven. We are commanded to pray that’s God’s kingdom would grow, like a giant tree, until that tree takes over. That is both God’s plan and his will.

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  266. Doug: …until the church comes together in unity on what constitutes public blasphemy and idolatry, it’s both impractical and functionally impossible to enforce. Now we have far more vocal enemies…

    Well, amen.

    So isn’t a call to theonomic arms basically just attempting to skip to the end of the book? Why not, in this age, do the best thing: teach and exhort and make disciples within the church; put energy into gospel proclamation; keep the Main Thing the Main Thing (Matt 28).

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  267. Jeff, I agree the gosple is the main thing. But to what end? Individual salvatoin alone? No, I see something more grand. Panecia on earth? No, but something God wants to see; the nations serving him while our enemies lick the dust in front of us. This is pleasing in God’s sight to see us trust in his promises while they may look impossible at present.

    Christ has claimed the whole earth in the here and now! So let’s not limit God’s written rule to the church alone, let’s pray for the whole enchaleda, to use a Califronia expression 🙂 meaning let’s claim the world in Jesus name. After all, he is the ruler of the kings of the earth, isnt He?

    Let’s be zealous for more of God’s written instruction in every area of life. Even in areas some are calling the common realm. . Now please don’t understand me as saying this can be accomplished in our own strength by gritting our teeth and forcing a recalsetrant people against there will. It can not. This will require us to come together in unity, in all humility so that God gets all the glory.

    He loves it when we trust him to move mountains, trusting in his strength to accomplish it. And God promises when we have faith, (like a mustard seed) he will throw Strongholds into the sea. I see some mountians that need to be leveled, by the Rock made without human hands. Let’s pray that our God will move in power, for he is able!

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  268. Doug: Jeff, I agree the gosple is the main thing. But to what end? Individual salvatoin alone? No, I see something more grand. Panecia on earth? No, but something God wants to see; the nations serving him while our enemies lick the dust in front of us.

    I don’t see the grandeur. Adding souls to the kingdom of God? Priceless. Enemies licking the dust in front of us? That’s what, a couple trillion in military hardware? Mastercard can handle that.

    “Shall we call down fire on them?”

    “You do not know what spirit you are made of.”

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  269. Doug, yes, because that’s how fishers of men are made, by telling them the goal is to have them lick the dust in front of us. Brilliant. And with all that if-we-just-get-our-act-together-God-will-bless-our-obedience and whole enchilada jazz, tell me again how theonomy isn’t prosperity gospel for the socio-politically inclined.

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  270. Sorry Zrim and Jeff 😉

    I don’t mean that the way it sounds. I’m not talking about forcing obedience by law or edict. I mean (lick the dust) in a poetic way, that Christ will change enough hearts to make that a general reality. And those that disagree will be in such a minority there opinion won’t matter. That’s how I see the fulfillment of Psalms 72. And even then, this earth will be no panecia, even the ‘elect” will battle our flesh and the devil.

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  271. Doug wrote: Kent, you’re a Christian, right? Iron sharpens iron, right? There is a battle going on right now for the heart and soul of reformed theology. Search the Scriptures and see if what I am saying is true.

    Me: that isn’t iron at all

    more like two drunken old widows chattering away with useless gossip

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  272. Boliver, your a day late, and a dollar short. Plus, I don’t have the foggyest idea of what your babbling about. See? I didn’t evey use exclamation points! Oops, well, I almost didnt. I guess your rapier wit got the best of me.

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  273. Doug,

    I am babbling? That is funny coming from you. Do you notice what you post?

    that is true babbling.

    Babbling: foolish or meaningless chatter; prattle:

    Yep that sounds right.

    The fact that you do not have the foggiest (notice the proper spelling. Words ending consonant – y. Change the -y to i before the endings -ed/-er/-est/-ly.) only speaks to the validity of you acting like a drunken old widow.

    Like

  274. Boliver, I may get emotional, I may get over the top. But calling me a drunken widow? Even if I’m wrong, how does that make you right? I must be saying something that is tripping your switch, or why would you come at me, this late in the game?

    BTW, thanks for the spelling lesson, I NEED IT 😉

    Like

  275. Boliver,

    Alow mee too stic upp fer mi amigo Dug, dis iz a blog, and typikallee wee doznt ding ppl fer spellin. Meybee hiz spillckeker iz bustid.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s 8:30 AM here on the west coast, which means it’s time for my 3rd beer of the day!

    Regards,

    Sotally Tober Jed

    Like

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