Theonomists All

If you thought Calvinists and Muslims had a problem accepting political liberalism, wait til you see this (from a review of American Law from a Catholic Perspective: Through A Clearer Lens):

Over and over again, we see the deep chasm between the Catholic understanding of the human person and the anthropology implied by American liberalism. The difference is stark. The former conceives of each human being as a person—a relational being, in relationship to God and others and dependent on God and others. The latter sees each human being as an individual who can make and fashion his own being and existence autonomously and apart from God and others. God is a valid choice, but he is just that, a choice. The Catholic lawyer cannot help but feel a dissonance between his deepest beliefs and the law he is called to practice each day. American Law from a Catholic Perspective helps to remind readers where their allegiances must lie. The attentive reader can begin to see the ways in which he must work to change American law at its very roots to help it conform to the truth proclaimed by the Church. (Briefly Noted)

Doesn’t “at its very roots” mean radical?

And here I thought 2k was rad.

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68 thoughts on “Theonomists All

  1. What D.G. posted is consistent with conservative Catholic thinking. Over at the Imaginative Conservative blog, an article by Hungarian President Viktor Orbán proclaimed that Europe was Christian and that forcing immigrants on Europe was wrong because it threatened Europe’s Christian monoculturalism with multiculturalism. According to Orbán, Christianity is both culture and civilization.

    The above shows the strength of 2kt. Of course the weakness is that 2kt robs the Church of its prophetic voice. There are more than 2 choices here. In the meantime, those wishing to win the “culture war” are clueless as to why they get pushback from the general population.

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  2. “[American liberalism] sees each human being as an individual who can make and fashion his own being and existence autonomously and apart from God and others.”

    I suspect that most political theorists would be surprised to learn that one’s being and existence is fashioned by one’s self. Perhaps this makes more sense in latin. Whatever the case, it sounds like the author doesn’t buy into the right of conscience (error has not rights and all that). Either he is naive and believes that if people just followed his reasoning sufficiently, we would all get on board with the big questions, or he is naive and thinks if the RCC just exerted her power properly she could whip all the dissenters into shape. Neither is going to happen, so how do we live peacefully with one another when we don’t agree on the big questions? I’ve yet to see a realistic alternative to American liberalism.

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  3. SDB,

    And it’s questionable how long American liberalism can preserve the order. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see some breakup of the country into different states. If it happens, hopefully it will be peaceful this time.

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  4. D.G.,
    But repent from what? That is what prophets identified as well as John the Baptist. And the Apostles gave specifics as to what to repent of.

    Yes, telling people what to repent of, especially their participation in corporate sins, is prophetic Prophetic doesn’t always mean warning people about impending temporal doom that was revealed to the prophet supernaturally.

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  5. D.G.,
    Yes, but the question is why wasn’t He prophetic the way some of us are, not whether some are better than Jesus. Why try to make me the subject when the issue is theonomy and how I compared it with 2KT? And can we really follow what Jesus said by merely imitating that which we can imitate from Him? Didn’t the Apostles do things and talk about subjects Jesus didn’t? And didn’t the Church Fathers and those after them do the same in relation to both The Apostles and Jesus?

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  6. Curt, there you go to Rome — from the apostles adding to Jesus (they were inspired, you know), to the church fathers adding to the apostles (tradition).

    Sufficiency of Scripture anyone? (Here come the prophets.)

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  7. D.G.,
    Sufficiency of Scriptures does not rule out the use of inferrence and implication. That is true espcially since some of the situations we face are different than what Jesus and the Apostles faced.

    The appeal of only having to follow what is literally commanded or what can be imitated is strong. It is an appeal that is irresistable to those who put too much stock into their sincerity to be in a right relationship with God. But it was also the appeal that the Pharisees fell for and Jesus had to challenge that over and over again. It seems to me that following the regulative principle has unforeseen side effects such as reducing all, not just some, interpretation and application of what the Bible says to literalism. And while some take pride in following that regulative principle, they need to read Isaiah 58-59 when such an approach to reading the Bible allows them to take pride in their observance of the Bible while relegating the neglect and oppression of the vulnerable by the state and society to not being relevant anymore because we are in NT times. Such a faith is void of love for neighbor.

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  8. Curt, do you approve of binding the conscience of others to commands that God has not actually commanded?

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  9. Jeff,
    Is only what is literal commanded? Think about the times whn the Pharisees wanted to bind Jesus to only what was literal. Think about the Good Samaritan Parable. Did the Good Samaritan only do what was literally commanded of him by the OT or did love for neighbor didctate his actions?

    Think about the struggles Isaiah had when speaking prophetically to the people. They were so proud of how they worshipped God while neglecting and even oppressing the vulnerable. Amos had the same struggle with those who felt at ease while neglecting to be broken over the state of Israel.

    THe question is whether what is implied or inferred by the Scriptures binding? Or is only what is literally commanded or modeled? Tell me, how tod the Scriptures tell me how to vote?

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  10. Good questions, but answer mine first, please. Is it, or is it not, acceptable to bind the conscience to commands that God has not actually commanded?

    Once that issue is established, then we can address your issue, which is how to determine what God has commanded.

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  11. Jeff,
    If something is implied by a commandment, then how is not commanded? Do you know what the definition of implication is? And we can go to the parable of the Good Samaritan to show this. Did the Good Samaritan only do what was exactly commanded of him or did he do what love for beighbor implied?

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  12. Jeff,
    Again,if something is implied by a commandment, then how is not commanded? Do you know what the definition of implication is?

    Your last response indicates that you have answered my first question without considering the second or third questions. And if you are going to answer questions that way, you have shutoff any discussion as how you can support your view.

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  13. Sorry Curt, but it’s a simple question. If you are unwilling to answer it, then that strongly suggests that you are uncomfortable with your answer.

    For the last time: Do you believe that you may bind the consciences of others with commands that God has not commanded?

    If you can answer that question, I will be happy to explore the questions you raised.

    If not, that’s really on you.

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  14. Jeff,
    I believe that you do owe an apology. I asked a rather simple question in response to your question. Is what is implied by a command commanded of us? Did the Good Samaritan only do what he was specifically commanded to do or was what he did required because it was implied by the commandment to love one’s neighbor? Those questions, without the answers, answers your question

    So if you don’t wish to answewr, don’t blame me.

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  15. Curt, I actually do want to answer your questions. As I said, I think they are good questions.

    However, your evasion raises a red flag for me. You seem to be unwilling to agree with Jesus (Matt 15.9) that we may not teach as doctrines the precepts of man; yet you also seem to be unwilling to admit to your disagreement.

    So until there is candor on your part, we’ll just have to wait on those other questions.

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  16. Jeff,
    Again, one of the issues here is implication. Wat follows whe I aks if I ask about what is implied by a command? Do you understand what the word ‘implication’ means?

    There is an ambiguity in your questin that raises red flags for me. Here, we are only dealing with what the Scriptures say should bind our consciences. And that is what my questions show. In addition, your concern about what I am not willing to agree on is prejudgmental. And you have a choice here. Are you wager to clear up that prejudgmental view or are you trying to prove it?.

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  17. Curt, you seem to be hung up over the scope of God’s commands: Do they include only the literal words, or do they include implications also? We can discuss that.

    But the prior issue is whether you may lawfully bind other’s consciences to commands outside what God has commanded. If you think that God’s commands include the implications of His commands, you may include that qualification part of your answer. Clarity is always welcome.

    But your obstinate refusal to answer, and subsequent attempts to coyly answer questions with question, look like an attempt to hide something.

    Man up, man.

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  18. Jeff,
    Answering a question is hardly coy, it is a common way to answer questions from some. In the meantime, you make an accusation for which you excuse yourself from having to prove.

    By asking about whether implications from the commandments of God are included does involve the scope of God’s commands. But my feeling here is that your hangup has to do with the definition of ‘implies.’ And, IMO, you seem unaware of the mathematical definition of implication. That is a more common fault with new theologians and I am talking about those who are my age, not just the middle age or young adults.

    Finally, this ‘man up’ is for those who talk down to others. Either we talk as equals or we don’t talk at all.

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  19. @ Curt: I have no discomfort whatsoever with implications.

    I have considerable discomfort with people who dodge questions that should be easy to answer, especially when given wide latitude for qualification. You’ve gone seven rounds with dodge, weave, turn-around, and no answer to a simple question. If we are on equal terms, which we certainly should be, then why are you so chary of giving a straight answer?

    If you wish to be considered an equal, which I want to do, then show yourself to be of good faith. Answer the question with candor.

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  20. Jeff,
    I didn’t ask if you had discomfort with implications, I questioned whther you understood the mathematical definition of the word. And putting in the mathematical notation doesn’t mean that you understand the definition and thus how it applies the issue we are discussing. In fact, without defining A and B first, your notation is meaningless.

    And answering a question with a question isn’t dodging the question. My guess is that if you understood the definition of the word implication, then you would understand my answer and know that I wasn’t dodging question. You would know that I answered your question with candor. Instead, we are at a place where you can make an accusation without having to prove it.

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  21. Curt,

    I’ll give this one more shot on the hope that we are simply misunderstanding each other.

    I asked: Do you approve of binding the conscience of others to commands that God has not actually commanded?

    You replied: Is only what is literal commanded? … The question is whether what is implied or inferred by the Scriptures binding?

    What I can reasonably infer from your question is that you believe that the implications of God’s commands are in fact also commanded.

    Which is fine, and I happen to agree.

    But that statement is in no way responsive to my question. I did not ask about things God has literally commanded. I did not ask about things that God has commanded by implication. I asked about things God has not commanded at all. Since you seem to be aware of mathematical logic, you will of course know that the statement

    “What God has commanded (either directly or through implication) is binding”

    is logically unrelated to either

    “What God has not commanded is binding” OR “What God has not commanded is not binding.”

    So your questions-as-answers do not, as far as I can tell, ever address my original question. They establish only that you believe that the implications of God’s literal commands are also commanded.

    So I have two options:

    (1) You are unaware that your response is non-responsive.

    This was my working assumption at first. I would still like to hope that this is true.

    (2) You are aware that response is non-responsive, and you’re simply not being fully candid about it.

    I don’t want to believe this, but I can’t understand how any reasonable person could be so obstinately persistent as you have been, unless there is some motive to conceal.

    So help me out, because what should have been a routine question has turned into a mess.

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  22. Curt Day says: The question is whether what is implied or inferred by the Scriptures binding?

    I think the Lord says yes.

    Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

    Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets

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  23. Jeff,
    Yes, my question to you was a sufficient answer to your question. What is the definition of implication as it applies to our discussion? WHile you have the math definition, it doesn’t help in what we are talking about because the variables you gave are undefined.

    All implication means regariding our discussion is that if a statement is true and that results in fact that a second statement must be true, then the first statement implies the second statement. Borrowing from an article on Reformation 21 I believe, Jesus’s inclusion of the request for God to forgive us our debts/transgressions in the Lord’s prayaer implies we sin.

    So when I ask if what a commandment implies is binding, what is my concern? Is it that I am interested in binding consciences to what is not a commandment? The answer to that is not implied by my question but it is suggested.

    And when I talk about the Good Samaritan and how what he did was implied by the commandment to love one’s neighbor rather than dictated on a list of actions, again, what is my concern? If my concern is what is implied, then it is suggested that I am only interested in what God’s commandments are requiring us to do. And you ignored what I was suggesting made an accusation to the opposite. SO this isn’t just about whether you are satisfied with my answer, it is about a leaning towardf making accusations which you see no requirement to prove.

    We have conversed before and I have glanced at some of your responess to others. And what I find irnoic in your question is that, for the most part, you referrence extra biblical material to make your case whether that material comes from the reformers or the confessions in many of your comments to others.

    When you stop maki9ng accusations and pay attention to the evidence of what I have been suggesting, it will indicate, not imply, that you are ready to converse as an equal.

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  24. @Curt
    When someone asks a question telling them that you have already answered that question does not move the discussion forward. What do you possibly lose by simply stating yes or no with whatever qualifications you wish to provide.

    In our conversations on other topics, you have had a history of making assumptions about subtexts that weren’t really there. For example, in this exchange you write,

    If my concern is what is implied, then it is suggested that I am only interested in what God’s commandments are requiring us to do.

    The “then” does not at all follow from the conditional. By bringing up the good Samaritan, you note that you are concerned about what the parable implies. Your concern does not suggest that you are only interested in what God’s commandments are requiring us to do. We have very little information about one another on this board. We don’t each other’s history, temperament, or intellectual background. Further, text communication is a very difficult medium for expressing tone, sarcasm, irony, etc… So when someone asks for clarification, it could simply be just that. Clarification. Why not provide it? Instead, you’ve demanded an apology for an imagined slight and resorted to an odd assertion that Jeff is making accusations.

    I can’t speak for Jeff, but I generally avoid asking leading questions. I’m not hear to prove anything to anyone. Rather, I’m here to learn by advancing conversations. That has been my impression of Jeff in our discussions. Perhaps you could learn (and teach) from(to) all of us if you would be a bit more patient and charitable in our interactions here.

    At any rate, is it safe to conclude that you believe that binding the conscience of others to commands that God has not actually commanded is wrong? Christian traditions disagree on this point of course (e.g., those who follow Natural Law).

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  25. sdb,
    I answered the question with questions of my own. SO if you want to be consistent, you should be writing this note to both Jeff and I.

    Jeff and I gave similar reasons for why we answered the way we did. What each each of us wrote raised red flags of concern for the other. And that led Jeff to make an unfounded, anticipatory accusation for which he felt no need to prove. That was unfortunate on his part.

    My answer already suggested what he wanted to know. At the same time, for Jeff and I to communicate, there has to be some basic understanding of the vocabulary used. While claiming to know one part of the vocabulary, he gave reasons to believe he didn’t know. So I was trying to establish that vocabulary.

    That brings me to how we have discussed things such as neoliberalism. Again, understanding the vocabulary being used was a problem. So perhaps you are trying to admonish me because you lacked a basic understanding of the terms being used in our discussion. That is fine. Realize that, again, if you are consistent, you would be admonishing Jeff as well who also didn’t clarify, but instead followed up his lack of moving the discussion forward by making an accusation. Apparently, his unfounded accusation was less of a concern to you than me not moving the discussion forward. Good joh sdb.

    BTW, your analysis of what I wrote is off. And it appears that you give the appearance of knowing more than you really do. What follows the then in the sentence you are analyzing is wholey adequate and precise. Since I was only expressing concern for the commandments and what they implied, something I expressed explicitly, I showed no interest in what laid outside the commandments. So whie you take note of the what I wrote about the good samaritan parable, you ignore the first question I asked Jeff. That is selective. And btw, since I was careful to note after the then was that I was suggesting rather than implying, what follows that then is correct. Here, you need to know the difference between and implying.

    Anyway, you need to know the verbage you are using if you want to converse adequately. You didn’t know that when we discussed neoliberalism nd you seem not to know enough when discussing the subject of conditional sentences..

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  26. sdb,
    In the last sentence of the second to last paragraph, I missed a word. The sentence should read:


    Here, you need to know the difference between suggesting and implying.

    The two words have different meanings.

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  27. Curt, you add your implications to Scripture. And your implications are not exactly widely shared in the history of Reformed Protestantism (or Roman Catholicism for that matter). Don’t you worry about being a cult?

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  28. D.G.,
    Implications that are false are not implications. And whether whether an implication is not widely held does not negate the implication. Again, today’s theologians struggle with logical concepts and definitions.

    So again, be specific. What specifically am I adding to the Scriptures?

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  29. Now that we have established that my command of the English language is not even merely adequate, I would be delighted for you to educate me on the difference between suggest and imply. I always thought that imply meant to strongly suggest. And wouldn’t you know it, I looked up a few online dictionaries and I see:
    Imply: Indicate the truth or existence of (something) by suggestion rather than explicit reference.
    Suggest: To mention or imply as a possibility
    Hmmm… perhaps you can correct the dictionaries? I’m traveling, so I don’t have my copy of the OED handy. Perhaps I’ll need to check that out too and see what it has to say about these words.

    So what about neo-liberalism? Perhaps you can edit the wiki page on that to clarify things for everyone,

    The definition and usage of the term have changed over time. As an economic philosophy, neoliberalism emerged among European liberal scholars in the 1930s as they attempted to trace a so-called “third” or “middle” way between the conflicting philosophies of classical liberalism and socialist planning. The impetus for this development arose from a desire to avoid repeating the economic failures of the early 1930s, which neoliberals mostly blamed on the economic policy of classical liberalism. In the decades that followed, the use of the term “neoliberal” tended to refer to theories which diverged from the more laissez-faire doctrine of classical liberalism, and which promoted instead a market economy under the guidance and rules of a strong state, a model which came to be known as the social market economy.

    Yikes! Who knew that a perfectly simple word like neoliberal could be so complicated guess I shouldn’t have introduced a term from a Friedman article written in the 1950’s. Oops. Not sure why that needed to derail a conversation though. It did introduce me to a very interesting article about the word. You might enjoy it as well. The abstract includes,

    In recent years, neoliberalism has become an academic catchphrase…the term is often undefined; it is employed unevenly across ideological divides; and it is used to characterize an excessively broad variety of phenomena.

    So much for a uncontested technical meaning…. Perhaps a bit more charity and patience would help move conversations forward. Asking for clarification rather than accusing your discussion partners of ignorance of the definition of basic words might be a good way to start.

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  30. Curt, since you aren’t specific with your implications, I can’t be. You simply hold over others heads the idea that you have “implications” from what Jesus said and this supposedly gives you justification for all of your political views — as if they are Christian or something. An implication from one Christian is not binding on mmmeeeeeEEEE.

    Plus, you haven’t answered Jeff’s question. I suspect because you got in over your head.

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  31. sdb,
    I never challenged your command of the English language, I am questioning your knowledge of Mathematics. Logic is an area of study in Mathematics. For example, we study logic in a course called Discrete MAthematics. And not knowing how math defines logical constructs implies nothing about your command of the English language. If anyone lacks command of the English language, I would have to say that that is issue for me after rereading my comments.

    Definition of implicaton–let A and B be statements that are true or false but not both. A implies B if B is always true when A is ture. Otherwise A does not imply B.

    Suggestion would be defined somewhat in the following way. Let A and B be statements that are true or false but not both. If A is true, we should consider whether B is true.

    As for the description of neoliberalism, In terms of economics, neoliberalism preplaced Keyneisan economics that followed WW II and it would be Keynesian economics that would be in the middle, rather than neoliberalism. In addition, neoliberalism includes the free flow of capital in a nation. Such was not the case with keynesian economics.

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  32. D.G.,
    You make the charge that I am adding to the Scriptures because of what I wrote about what the commandments imply and yet you are unable to produce any specific evidence to back your claim. Have you read what the Larger Catechism says about the commandment prohibiting bearing false witness?

    And unlike you who pivots, I answered Jeff’s question. I answered with a question and he would have realized that if he knew the definition of implication. In fact, even without knowing that definition, I gave no indication of wantnng to bind consciences to extra-biblcal mandates.

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  33. Curt, this post is a rebuke.

    There is a reason that I do not believe you’ve answered my question.

    You actually said it yourself. Your words: So when I ask if what a commandment implies is binding, what is my concern? Is it that I am interested in binding consciences to what is not a commandment? The answer to that is not implied by my question but it is suggested.

    I was asking whether you approve of binding consciences to what is not a commandment. Your question neither states nor implies an answer to my question, as you freely admit. I am not so naive that I would take a “suggestion” as an answer.

    When I first asked my question, I was anticipating and hoping that you would say, “No, I don’t” — so that we could then move on to the heart of the matter, which is distinguishing between legitimate and false inferences from the text.

    Somehow you seem to have read my question as an accusation, which it was not.

    So instead of answering an easy question, you’ve led us down a rabbit hole that includes

    * Telling a working math instructor that he doesn’t know mathematics (my degree committee was fully satisfied)
    * Repeatedly dodging a question that is easily capable of a one-word answer
    * Accusing others of being Pharisees, then bristling at an “accusation” that was never stated nor implied
    * Bickering over whether someone does or does not know the meaning of “neo-liberalism”

    This is not the behavior of someone who thinks of himself as an equal. It is the behavior of someone with a chip on the shoulder. My challenge to you above to “man up” is not a put-down, but a call to take on the mantle of an equal. Lay aside petty bickering over words, don’t drag people into measuring contests about who knows what, and for goodness’ sake, don’t play games that waste your time and mine.

    Put aside such behavior. You don’t need to prove anything to be treated as an equal. You just need to talk to people as … equals, without guile or games or prophetic airs.

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  34. Jeff,
    Yes, but my answer suggests the answer to your question. And nowhere in that suggestion is there a hint of wanting to bind consciences to anything guide or rule that is not Scriptural. And when you make an accusation about me because of that, you placed yourself in a role where you did not have to prove that accusation. But the Larger Catechism’s interpretation of the 9th commandment challenges that position of yours.

    And now it seems that you do not understand what it means when I wrote that my response did suggest an answer for you. That simply means that I was asking you to consider that what I am saying is staying within the bounds of the Scriptures. So just because my response suggested the answer doesn’;t mean I was dodging the question. Here, your literalism leads you to misinterpret my responses and that literalism is what I address a little later on.

    And, btw, if you have a math education, then you know that to define implication with variables, those variables must be defined as well. For the correct notation you provided meant nothing unless A and B were defined as statements that are either true or false but not both. ANd if you knew how apply the definition of implication to the issue at hand, then you would realize that I was only asking was mathematically trivial. Thus, if you understood the question, you would realize that I was only concerned with what is scriptural.

    ANd what you fail to acknowledge is that just as my answer faised some red flags of concern for you, so did your question and response raised red flags for me. What was the red flag for me? It was that of literalism. I was concerned that correct implications from the commandments would not be counted as being scriptural. D.G.’s responseto me about implication provides an example of someone who is leery of counting what is implied by a commandment as being Scriptural. I think that is, in part, because he didn’t fully understand what implication means and if that is true, he is not the first well educated theologian I have conversed with who didn’t. As I compare today’s theologians with yesteryears, those from the past had a firmer grasp of logical constructs than today’s theologians.

    So what you rebuke me and you feel insulted because I wrote that you seem not to have an adequate grasp on how the definition of implication applied to our discussion. We are equals. And yet, you found it easy to make accusation about me but felt no need to prove it. Doesn'[t that merit a rebuke too?

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  35. Jeff,
    Having given you such a hard time about the math definiton of implication, I thought about my last response and realized I made a math error in what I wrote.

    Still, my question showed concern for only what was scriptural.

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  36. Curt you wrote, “I never challenged your command of the English language…”
    Hmmm…. So when you wrote, “So perhaps you are trying to admonish me because you lacked a basic understanding of the terms being used in our discussion.” and later “Here, you need to know the difference between suggesting and implying.The two words have different meanings.” you didn’t mean to *ahem* imply (or is it suggest) that my ignorance of the meaning of “suggest” and “imply” indicates anything about my command of English. Curious… I don’t generally think of imply as an SAT word. While it is true that my Ph.D. is in physics rather than math and none of the 166 scientific articles that I’ve published are in mathematics, I’m pretty sure I have a decent hold on logic (believe it or not), though I certainly have plenty to learn. Let’s take a look at your analysis of these words:

    “Definition of implicaton–let A and B be statements that are true or false but not both. A implies B if B is always true when A is ture. Otherwise A does not imply B.”
    Generally we don’t want to define a word with the word. Now looking at the wiktionary definition of imply I see that:
    1. imply means to have a necessary consequence
    2. suggest by logical inference
    3. to suggest tacitly

    “Suggestion would be defined somewhat in the following way. Let A and B be statements that are true or false but not both. If A is true, we should consider whether B is true.”
    How does a work get defined “somewhat”? This doesn’t make any sense at all. Looking at the definitions of suggest I see that:
    1. Suggest means to imply but stop short of saying explicitly.
    2. Suggest means to make one suppose; cause one to suppose (something).
    3. Suggest means to ask without demanding.
    4. Suggest means to recommend.
    5. Suggest means to seduce; to prompt to evil; to tempt.

    Now I’m stuck. Suggest means to imply and imply means to suggest. None of these look like technical mathematical definitions. The second definition looks like what you are getting at. If A suggests B, then one might suppose something about B on the basis of what one learns about A. Fair enough. But nothing you wrote in this thread hinges on subtle technical definitions of imply and suggest. Why not just clearly state that you do not believe one should bind another’s conscience on matters not defined in scripture (or whatever it is you want to say)? Like the definition of neoliberal (a term I introduced in our conversation) that is highly contested and not at all a technical term (as I showed), you reveal yourself to be merely recalcitrant and incapable of learning from others. That’s really too bad.

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  37. Curt: Having given you such a hard time about the math definiton of implication, I thought about my last response and realized I made a math error in what I wrote.

    No problem. We’ve all been there.

    Curt: Still, my question showed concern for only what was scriptural.

    Well, I agree. Your question did indeed address those commands which are found in Scripture. Which is why it was non-responsive, since my question was about what is not scriptural. I asked a question; your response was playing in a different ballpark. By way of analogy, it was as if I asked, “Do you eat meat?” and your response was “Isn’t broccoli also a vegetable?”

    Let me put the original question a different way. I was asking, “Is it on your radar that we should not be binding consciences to non-scriptural commands?”

    On Jan 7, I asked that question, as I often do, so that we could establish a baseline of shared agreement. In this case, we should be able (have been able) to agree that consciences are bound only to God’s word, either by direct statement or implication. And from that common agreement, we could (have) then go on to deal with the heart of the matter, which is how to discern the implications of Scripture.

    To my great surprise, you appeared to be unwilling to agree to that simple point — and to be engaging in an unusual pattern of discourse in which you addressed a different (but related) topic by means of a question, then declared my question answered.

    Can you see how that might seem dodgy?

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  38. sdb,
    If you don’t know the definition of the logical connector implication, that is not an indicator of your command of English..That shows that you don’t understand a specific mathematical definition And all along, when talking about implication, I’ve been talking about its mathematical definition. So when I ask Jeff what a Scripture verse implies and I mention the mathematical definition of the word ‘imply,’ I am saying this: If that is what God is commanding us to, then what else must we also do or must be true because of what that command says. So if we talk about what the request for forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer implies using the mathematical definition of the word ‘imply,’ I am going to say what must also be true if we are to pray for the forgiveness of sins. What must also be true is that we are sinners.

    So when I talk about what t a Scripture commandment implies and whether that is binding. I am asking if a Scripture commandment prohibits us from or tells us to do action A, then what other actions must be, not might be, included in that prohibition or command. That is basically the logic used in the Westminster larger catechism when it lists the dos and don’ts of each commandment. Now what they think a commandment implies may not be right. But the logic of the Catechism is still using the mathematical meaning of the word imply. The list of prohibitions or commands that accompanies each command in the Catechism are not mere suggestions to consider nor are those prohibitions or command merely possible prohibitions and commands, they are definitely part of the commandment. So that if we don’t follow through on any of those prohibitions or commands implied, using the mathematical definition of imply, then we have violated the original commandment.

    Does the Larger Catechism use the word ‘imply’? No. But it is using concept of the mathematical definition of implication when it lists the other actions that we must do or are prohibited from doing in describing each commandment. To ask what does a Scriptural commandment imply, using the mathematical definition of imply, we are asking what other actions must be included in keeping the commandment.

    BTW, when using the mathematical definition of the word ‘imply’ here, the statements must be put in true-false form. That is because the mathematical definition of implication only works with true-false statements. A commandment by itself is not a true-false statement. But when one asks what is implied, using the word’s mathematical definition, then one is saying if God is commanding me to do this, what else is He telling me to do.

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  39. Jeff,
    When I asked if what a commandment implies is also binding, then am I not appealing to the same logic employed by the Larger Catechism when describing what prohibitions and actions must be included with a given commandment?

    And why did your way of saying things raise a red flag for me? It was because you logical flow of the discussion. For if what a given Scripture commandment implies is binding, then how can I be refer to something outside of the Scriptures as being binding. After all, again, I was doing nothing more than employing the same logic used by the Westminster Larger Catechism.

    BTW, answering your question with my question does not imply disagreement. In fact, I am not sure how it even suggested disagreement.

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  40. Curt: For if what a given Scripture commandment implies is binding, then how can I be refer to something outside of the Scriptures as being binding.

    Exactly so: You cannot be referring to something outside of scriptures. You weren’t referring to what I was asking about.

    Ironically, it is precisely because I understand the mathematical definition of “implication”, that I can see that your answer was irrelevant. It did not refer to the question I was asking about.

    More precisely: Let A be “God has commanded X” and B be “X is binding on the conscience.”

    I asked, “Do you believe that B is true for some ~A”, or more simply, “Do you believe that A is not necessary for B”?

    You replied with a question that amounted to “A implies B.”

    Assuming that you know a little discrete math, you should be able to agree that those two statements are logically unrelated to each other.

    In other words, you wanted me to infer from the fact that you affirm that God’s commandments are binding, that I should infer that you believe that commandments that are not God’s are non-binding.

    That would be a bad inference, and I therefore did not make it.

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  41. @Curt
    Right – an ordinary meaning of imply is “necessarily follow”. That’s what I thought you meant originally. I completely agree that the WCF uses this concept. I don’t think anyone here would disagree or think otherwise. It is also totally irrelevant to the original discussion. The original question that started all this was, “do you approve of binding the conscience of others to commands that God has not actually commanded?”. You responded with the question, “Is only what is literal commanded?” and then went on to talk about the Pharisees. But this has nothing to do with the question you still haven’t answered.

    The question isn’t rhetorical or pedantic. Some Christians believe that Natural Law should bind the conscience in addition to what God commands in scripture. Others believe that culture should bind our conscience as well. All of these Christians can agree that God’s commands in scripture include the implications of those commands rather than just the literal application, but disagree about the correct answer to Jeff’s original question.

    Now answering Jeff’s question can actually get a bit thorny I think. If one is talking about the Church, then I think the answer should be obvious for a reformed Christian. But I’m not so sure it applies so cleanly otherwise. Consider the case of parents and children. I require my kids to do chores around the house. I think many of those chores extend beyond the implications of what God commands in scripture. In a sense, I bind their conscience (they should feel guilty if they don’t take out the compost after dinner and the dog gets into it). Now you might say that this is a proper application of my authority. I agree! So the question is what the proper application of the authority of the church is. When asking about an individual elder, I think it depends on the function the elder is fulfilling – are we talking about his authority as a teacher, as a father, as a churchman, as a commentator on a blog, as a citizen? The answers are different in each sphere, but the scriptures only limit his authority as a churchman. This is why 2K is so important in my estimation.

    So we’ve gone round and round for several days now, been accused of not understanding math, all the while dancing around a fairly simple question meant to clarify and extend the discussion in fruitful ways. This is a pattern and it is unfortunate as it impedes useful interaction.

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  42. @ SDB:

    I usually make this distinction: outwardly obeying the magistrate is a matter of conscience. The particulars of his commands are not.

    So I stop at red lights because the magistrate says so (not to mention prudence). But there is nothing inherently moral about red and stopping.

    Likewise, my students refrain from gum-chewing because School Rule. But there is nothing inherently immoral about gum-chewing.

    So we obey the magistrate, but do not identify his commands as matters of conscience. “What is legal is not necessarily right.”

    This is in contrast to the elder, whose commands are (ought to be) congruent to what God actually requires of us, hence are matters of conscience of themselves.

    That’s why the church needs to have self-restraint in what it commands!

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  43. Jeff,
    Why would I ask if you believe what the Scriptures imply is binding if I didn’t believe that the Scriptures are binding as well? And why would my question which was in response to your cause you concern if my question uses the same logic as the Larger Catechism, and Calvin too, uses on the commandments? After all, doesn’t the Larger Catechism ask what is prohibited and demanded by each commandment? And I believe Calvin did that too. And their approach entailed not just what the scriptures said literally, but what logically followed. So why do you think that my answer had nothing to do with your question?

    IN addition, why did you ask your question in the first place? Let’s examine my previous answers. When D.G. replied that Jesus said we are to repent, I answered:


    But repent from what? That is what prophets identified as well as John the Baptist. And the Apostles gave specifics as to what to repent of.

    Now how did that answer indicate that I was interested in binding consciences to anything that was not from the Scriptures? You might have picked it up from the following


    Yes, but the question is why wasn’t He prophetic the way some of us are, not whether some are better than Jesus. Why try to make me the subject when the issue is theonomy and how I compared it with 2KT? And can we really follow what Jesus said by merely imitating that which we can imitate from Him? Didn’t the Apostles do things and talk about subjects Jesus didn’t? And didn’t the Church Fathers and those after them do the same in relation to both The Apostles and Jesus?

    The issue was can we really follow Jesus by merely imitating him? And what did I ask? I asked those questions because I was concerned that different circumstances and issues not faced by Jesus, and then the Apostles, would not be addressed by what D.G. was saying? And in mentioning the Church Fathers, I was not using them as a source for binding consciences, but as having to deal with new issues and situations not faced before. And how did they respond to those new issues and situations? Did they not rely on what was said and implied by the Scriptures?

    And if you doubt my explanation in that paragraph, note what I wrote to D.G. when he brought up the sufficiency of the Scriptures:


    Sufficiency of Scriptures does not rule out the use of inferrence and implication. That is true espcially since some of the situations we face are different than what Jesus and the Apostles faced.

    The appeal of only having to follow what is literally commanded or what can be imitated is strong. It is an appeal that is irresistable to those who put too much stock into their sincerity to be in a right relationship with God. But it was also the appeal that the Pharisees fell for and Jesus had to challenge that over and over again. It seems to me that following the regulative principle has unforeseen side effects such as reducing all, not just some, interpretation and application of what the Bible says to literalism. And while some take pride in following that regulative principle, they need to read Isaiah 58-59 when such an approach to reading the Bible allows them to take pride in their observance of the Bible while relegating the neglect and oppression of the vulnerable by the state and society to not being relevant anymore because we are in NT times. Such a faith is void of love for neighbor.

    Am I not agreeing with the sufficiency of the Scriptures there? And if I am agreeing with the sufficiency of the Scriptures there, don’t you have the answer to your question?

    Or tell me how my first response to you did not answer your question:


    Is only what is literal commanded? Think about the times whn the Pharisees wanted to bind Jesus to only what was literal. Think about the Good Samaritan Parable. Did the Good Samaritan only do what was literally commanded of him by the OT or did love for neighbor didctate his actions?

    Think about the struggles Isaiah had when speaking prophetically to the people. They were so proud of how they worshipped God while neglecting and even oppressing the vulnerable. Amos had the same struggle with those who felt at ease while neglecting to be broken over the state of Israel.

    THe question is whether what is implied or inferred by the Scriptures binding? Or is only what is literally commanded or modeled?

    Jeff, if I did not answer your question in your eyes, is it possible that the only answer you would accept is a yes or no answer? And the reason that was the only answer you would accept is that you were fixated on being too literal? That first response, along with the responses I gave to D.G. answered your question.

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  44. Jeff,
    I know what denying the premise is. But that doesn’t come into play here and if you think it does, please show. For the implication I was working with was if what is directly commanded by the Scriptures is binding, then what is logically implied by the Scriptures is binding too. Your question was did I believe what was outside of the Scriptures was binding too. I then answered saying that what is literally commanded by the Scriptures is not the issue because the conflicts between Jesus and the Pharisees, the lessons taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan, and the complaints Isaiah had about the Israelites in his day.

    In addition, I just pointed out previous comments showing my support for the sufficiency of the Scriptures. What does supporting the sufficiency of the Scriptures mean? According to John Piper, it means the following (see https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/thoughts-on-the-sufficiency-of-scripture ):


    The sufficiency of Scripture means that we don’t need any more special revelation. We don’t need any more inspired, inerrant words. In the Bible God has given us, we have the perfect standard for judging all other knowledge.

    Please note that last sentence. If I believe in the sufficiency of the Scriptures, am I not signing onto to the belief that the Scriptures provide the standards by which all other knowledge is judged. And thus, I was not supporting any binding of consciences that are outside of what the Scriptures command.

    So how does negating the premise play into our discussion, especially since my argument negated neither the premise nor the consequence of the implication I was working with? I wrote that my note answered your question. But that note was more than just about what the command of the Scriptures imply. It showed the problem of those who were literalists and used that literalism to teach what was not Biblical. Much like what Piper described as the conflict between the Arians and Athanasius. Didn’t the Arians reject what Athanasius taught because what he taught did not use the language of the Bible? And thus didn’t they interpreted what he said as being outside the Bible? Isn’t that the same issue I was debating with D.G. and then said to you that my note answered your question?

    If I supported the sufficiency of the Scriptures and said that what commands of the Scriptures logically imply are binding, why did you ask if I believed that commands outside of the Scriptures are binding too?

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  45. Good morning Curt,

    At this point, I am satisfied that you affirm that commands outside of Scripture are not binding on the conscience, and I hope that you are also satisfied that I affirm that the implications of Scripture are as binding as the words themselves.

    Curt: If I supported the sufficiency of the Scriptures and said that what commands of the Scriptures logically imply are binding, why did you ask if I believed that commands outside of the Scriptures are binding too?

    Assuming that we understand each other’s beliefs at this point, I only want to go down further down this road if it will be mutually beneficial. So my goal at this point is to prevent future misunderstanding.

    We agree that denying the premise is a fallacy.

    That is: (A ⇒ B) does not imply (~A ⇒ ~B)

    So let A be “If commanded in Scripture (by letter or implication)” and B be “Is binding.” We then have

    (1) A ⇒ B “Whatever is commanded in Scripture is binding”
    (2) ~A ⇒ ~B “Whatever is not commanded in Scripture is not binding.”

    And we agree that (1) does not imply (2)

    Now, you affirmed A ⇒ B in many different ways — through question and through direct statement. I got that message loud and clear, as far back as Jan 7. You definitely believe that whatever Scripture commands, through letter or implication, is binding.

    But now, we also know that A ⇒ B has no bearing on, is irrelevant to, the proposition ~A ⇒ ~B, “Whatever Scripture does not command is not binding.”

    So your repeated affirmations that “whatever Scripture commands is binding” gave me absolutely no information as to whether you also believe that “whatever Scripture does not command is not binding.” Those two statements are logically independent, and any amount of affirmation of (1) provides no evidence of the truth of (2).

    Yet! You were upset that I didn’t take your repeated affirmations of (1) to be answer to my question, “Do you believe (2)?”

    My reason for declining had nothing to do with literalism. It was because (1) doesn’t tell me (2). You were engaged in a logical fallacy, thinking that affirming (1) was also evidence of affirming (2). It may be the case that you were trying to affirm something stronger, that A ⇔ B: “A command is binding if and only if Scripture teaches it.” If so, then your language didn’t reflect this stronger statement.

    That’s all. If this doesn’t satisfy you, then let’s just drop it.

    Piper via Day: The sufficiency of Scripture means that we don’t need any more special revelation. We don’t need any more inspired, inerrant words. In the Bible God has given us, we have the perfect standard for judging all other knowledge.

    Day: Please note that last sentence. If I believe in the sufficiency of the Scriptures, am I not signing onto to the belief that the Scriptures provide the standards by which all other knowledge is judged. And thus, I was not supporting any binding of consciences that are outside of what the Scriptures command.

    I’m slightly confused — is the “not” in bold a typo?

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  46. Jeff,
    You had written a while ago that you agreed with what I wrote, that that what is implied by a commandment from the scriptures is also binding.

    As for the negating the premise fallacy, we know that it is true though we can’t show it with the model you showed. You are correct in stating AB, which for laymen is (A–>B) /\ (B–> A) for the statements you defined. That is the appropriate model to be used.

    BTW, the not is not a typo, but forgetting the question mark is.

    Finally, my concern was with placing too much emphasis on literal interpretations of the Scriptures. There are examples in both the Bible and Church history where those who claimed they were literally interpreting the Scriptures were actually misrepresenting what the Scriptures meant. That misrepresentation could be due to a faulty exegesis or the lack of awareness of what is implied by the Scriptures.

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  47. Jeff,
    MY only criticism of this blog is that there is no option to edit after one posts. Some of my comments contain more errors, due to grammar, than an early Mets game.

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  48. God is love – love is from God- we know love by this, that He laid down His life for us- – if God so loved us-

    implication,
    -we love because He first loved us (the one who abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him)
    -we love the LORD our God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.
    -the one who loves God loves his brother also (if someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar)
    -love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
    -if (I do a whole of stuff), but do not have love, I am nothing.

    faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love

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  49. But US Catholics are providing almost all of the intelligent attempts to balance natural law with legal and philosophical matters (and their well-trained lawyers dominate the good side of the Supreme Court, hopefully for another century.)

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