(If you haven’t read it yet, back up to the previous post)
In regards to Theonomy, I have learned that it is definitely not a single target. Everybody has their own specifically nuanced definition of the details. Apparently Rushdoony is a crackpot, and Bahnsen is more worth investing my research. But I still don’t buy into the fundamentals of what (I think I have learned) Theonomy is all about. I think it makes too much of the Old Testament Law, and there is too much New Testament it can’t account for. For instance:
* What does it mean that
- “you are not under law, but under grace“
- “we are released from the law … so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit”
- “now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [or tutor: the Law]“
- and so many other deprecations of the law in the NT?
* Do we need to not wear blended fabrics, not shave, not round the corners of our beards, or do we need to wear little scriptures on our heads and arms? Since I don’t see theonomists observing these, how did Christ’s sacrificial act fulfill/abrogate these laws for us? Or what is their general equity?
* Where in scripture are we directed (or even allowed) to extrapolate/reinterpret God’s laws? Wasn’t that the sin of the Pharisees? (It’s not just a question of extent (that they did it wrongly), it’s a question of intent (they (like us) should focus more on grace than law)). General equity (which is almost a throwaway term in the context of where it appears in the confession) is one thing if it is a matter of individual conscience, but encoding and enforcing a uniform interpretation of general equity for all believers or all society is quite another!
* Isn’t the extension of Theonomy in the civil sphere tantamount to reverting to a non-free church? Forcing non-Christians to obey biblical law? Wouldn’t that also logically require forced sabbath observance (church attendance) and forced confession of ‘faith’? If the church gets to excommunicate people, where would they excommunicate them to?
* Isn’t the extension of Theonomy in the civil sphere just taking an eschatology that includes a perfect society ruled by God’s perfect law, and rolling it back to the present, where it doesn’t belong (wouldn’t want eschatalogical ethics to intrude… :-) )
* Only in researching Theonomy have I heard “turn the other cheek”, “go the extra mile”, “give your coat also” interpreted as submission to opressive civil authority (e.g. Rome). Is that a novel Theonomic interpretation? It seems that Theonomy is obsessed with the civil, and desirous of preserving “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” (at least in the state, “which is not allowed mercy”). Where’s “love your enemies”?
* OT penalties, as far as I can see, include only material restitution (+ interest) or execution. Sometimes. Many commandments don’t provide any penalty, saying only “don’t do it”, with no “or else”. How is a civil magistrate supposed determine penalties that have general equity? Is there any Theonomic role for other penalties, like community service or incarceration? (Or is a city of refuge just a free-range prison, where the only thing that keeps a murderer in place is that his victim’s family may be laying in wait to legally kill him?)
So you see, I still have many questions. I have audio CDs of Bahnsen’s lecture “Has Westminster Found a Critique for Theonomy Yet?”, which I have yet to listen to. Maybe Bahnsen in the (virtual) flesh will address some of these…
(Keep going on to the next post)