Theonomy Debate

The Theonomy debate finally happened. About 60 men gathered in the very chilly SoCal mountain night air to eat Hoagies, smoke Stogies, drink homebrew, and hear a debate. The specific debate question was

Does the Civil Magistrate today have the responsibility to enforce the first table of the Decalogue?

Our good friend Jeff “Not-a-Sith” Kazules argued in the affirmative, and our new friend Gene “Unchained” Cook in the negative. Both speakers represented their positions well, and everybody enjoyed the debate. You will enjoy it too, if you download it right now! Here’s the debate proper (65 minutes) and here’s the Q&A (90 minutes).

Here I have some post-debate reflections, including a number of verses that I was saving up, because I didn’t want to post them earlier and distract Jeff from his preparation.

First off, Jeff has always maintained that the state is not responsible to enforce sins of the heart, only crimes of the hand. To this end, Jeff was careful to distinguish between idolatry/false worship (which would remain an open option to unbelievers in a theonomic society), and subversion to idolatry/false worship (which would be penalized by death). So for instance, there would still be Mormons, but they wouldn’t be allowed proselytize in any way. That’s kind of Jeff to allow, and it makes his position an iota easier to argue, but in the end, I still can’t swallow it. Are we to believe that Israel was only allowed to put to death idolaters amongst themselves if the idolaters had sent out invitations? If the Israelites discovered false worship being performed in secret (or in the open, like a public Mormon worship service), were they supposed to let it go, if the offenders said the magic words “but we’re not encouraging you to join us”? What happened in the Bible, in this excellent example of God’s law (and due process) in action, when Israel “heard” that the trans-Jordanian tribes had set up a giant altar?

Second, many times during the debate, Jeff attempted the reductio ad absurdem of “can it be that a standard of law and punishment is just on one side of a line, but not just if you jump across a border to the other side of a line?” Well how about this line between “cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance” (for which the Lord prescribed “you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction”), and “the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here,” (for which the Lord allows to Israel: “you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you”)?

More to the point, the Theonomist often attempts to soften the apparent harshness of his position by saying “such laws are not appropriate for today, but for a (postmillenial) future in which society has become [majority/largely/completely] Christian.” To that concept I say, how can it be that a standard of law and punishment is just on the far side of a dateline in which society is 51% (90%? 99%?) Christian, but not just right here and right now?

Bahnsen has written books titled By This Standard, and No Other Standard. If I ever write a book about Theonomy, then I would title it No Other Nation, as in “What other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deut 4:8) The answer to this rhetorical question is “None!” See also Ps 147:19-20.

2 Chr 19:11 is often used by Theonomists to demonstrate separation of church and state in Israel. I see it as a refutation of the Theonomic assertion that the first table cannot be separated from the second table. Some laws belong to the king, and some laws belong to the priesthood. In any case, Israel’s church/state separation is not all that clean. In this passage, the (non-priestly) Levites are shown to stand in the gap — and as I learned from Bahnsen himself, the Levites had a mix of religious and political roles. For instance here and here the Levites had to step in and participate in the priestly duty of offering sacrifices. Here David (not even a Levite!) bypassed the priests, offering his own sacrifices and receiving the divine stamp of approval of fire from heaven. Here Jehoiada the Priest crosses the line to become a kingmaker. Bahnsen says this intervention was necessary to show the people that the usurpation of Athaliah was wrong, because how else could the people know? (They seemed to know here though…). Here priests and judges are to decide cases together.

How’s this for an illustration of the principle that the unregenerate masses are not to be held to the full standard of all of God’s law? How’s this for a commandment?

Whew! Now I’ve gotten that out of my system. I think I’m done with Theonomy now. Let me close with one final rejoinder: The Old Covenant saw God’s law written on tablets of stone. The New Covenant saw that law written on tablets of flesh — our hearts. The Theonomist says, “Let’s try paper!”

[Addendum] Was with Ron and Jeff last night, and I think they must have been frustrated about the debate, because they took out on me what Jeff couldn’t do against Gene! And all the other non-theonomic brothers that were there stood by and let me get creamed! Good thing I wasn’t debating Saturday night, because I totally froze. Now that I’m in the safety of my own bully pulpit, however, I can look all big and authoritative again, so let me add some more things:

First of all, in fairness, I have to mention Gene’s one colossal error in the debate: when Jeff asked him if he would vote against a law forbidding subversion to idolatry, Gene said NO! Which totally contradicted his position! He made a partial save later, when Ron questioned him on this, and he said he would not support a Supreme Court justice with an agenda to execute sabbath-breakers. But I’m really surprised Jeff failed to explosively capitalize on this heinous error.

In related news, it turns out that, despite Jeff’s “very clear” emphasis that Theonomic laws are not meant to regulate man’s heart, but only his outward actions, it turns out that in his (& Ron’s) dream Theonomic society, not only would Mormons be executed for door-to-door subversion-to-idolatry, they would also be executed for public worship, even if they are not inviting others to join them. For the same reason that a whorehouse doesn’t need to advertise.

OK, back to Theonomy-bashing:

First, an excellent point that I heard Gene make on the debate CD about 5 seconds after I turned on the car to leave Ron’s place last night: What is the new priesthood? In 2 Chr 19:8-11 (linked also above), we see that in Israel, the Priests and Levites were to “give judgment for the Lord…in all matters of the Lord”, and the judges to “decide disputed cases…in all the king’s matters”. So in the New Covenant, who is responsible to give judgment in all matters of the Lord? What is the new priesthood? We the church are a nation of priests, and the church has the responsibility of judging the moral law among its members. Who is the new high priest? Jesus Christ is our high priest forever, and will judge all men according to the moral law in the end.

Here’s a question that I flubbed with Jeff and Ron: What does the Bible have to say to the civil magistrate? Here’s the right answer: Exactly what it says to every man: repent! Turn in your heart of stone, and accept from God a heart of flesh, so you can obey all of God’s law, externally as well as interally. The Bible NEVER says improve yourself (or your nation) by obeying outward laws. A secondary answer was the same as from my questioning of Jeff at the debate. Paul’s message to the civil magistrate in I Cor 5:12-13: “You’re on your own!”

Finally, Jeff mentioned many different flavors of “nations are required to be righteous”. Apart from Gene’s correct interpretation of this concept as nations=gentiles=world outside of Israel, meaning in the New Covenant, all the earth must submit to Jesus Christ or be destroyed in the final judgment — apart from that, the obvious response is this: if nations are required to be righteous, then outward, civil laws are not going to do the job, any more than outward obedience makes a sinful heart righteous. Sure, a nation may be unrighteous because of excessive idolatry, adultery, etc. But enforcing laws that prevent people from idolizing, adulterating, etc., does not make the nation any less unrighteous! It just makes them pharisees. (And note that in A.D. 70, the nation of pharisees got destroyed anyways!) The theonomist will probably then say, “but wouldn’t the nation be better off without all that idolatry, adultery, etc.?” Well (a) that’s a separate question from whether verses about “nations required to be righteous” can be used to justify theonomic laws, and (b) is a non-Christian “better off” if he burns his idols, and ends his adulterous affair, but remains a non-Christian? Are nations called to be outwardly righteous, or truly righteous? The only way for a nation to be righteous is the same as the only way a person can be righteous. By being Christian. Not by acting Christian, or more specifically, not by not acting non-Christian under penalty of death.

[Another Addendum]: Listen to Gene’s post-debate show — I call in, and Jeff calls in too! Here’s the link to the podcasted mp3.

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95 Responses

  1. Are we to believe that Israel was only allowed to put to death idolaters amongst themselves if the idolaters had sent out invitations?

    No, but if they sent out invitations, it would be used as evidence against them. The way I see this point is that theonomists do not advocate the state driving around town with surveillance wagons listening in on your private conversations to see if your committing idolatry of blasphemy, rather outward sin will be suppressed by the civil magistrate (even like some sin is suppressed now) and any who dare commit those sins would be forced into hiding rather than their wickedness being accepted out in the open in front of God and everyone.

    Murder is illegal, but it still happens. However, if it were permitted legally, murder would happen more, yes? It is the job of the civil magistrate to protect its citizens from this evil, is it not? With regard to the first table laws, certainly they outline man’s duty toward God, but a failure on behalf of the civil magistrate to purge first table wickedness from among us is a failure to protect its citizens from a different sort of murder – the sort we see in the first few verses of Genesis 3.

  2. More to the point, the Theonomist often attempts to soften the apparent harshness of his position by saying “such laws are not appropriate for today, but for a (postmillenial) future in which society has become [majority/largely/completely] Christian.”

    I’m not sure who attempts to make this point, but I disagree with it. Every one of God’s righteous ordinances is everlasting. Psalm 119:160

  3. If I ever write a book about Theonomy, then I would title it No Other Nation, as in “What other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deut 4:8) The answer to this rhetorical question is “None!”

    Or “None, yet…”

  4. I’m not sure who attempts to make this point, but I disagree with it.

    As usual Ron, you are a bit more extreme (and/or consistent?) than Jeff. How about this:

    I must pause here. Let me explain that I am now in the realm of ‘ideals.’ I don’t believe that if a small few of us could somehow seize power and enforce the death penalty for the duly processed and shown to be guilty of sodomy, that we ’should’ enforce it. I believe that society first and foremost needs to be evangelized and then properly discipled (Theonomy being only one area of proper discipleship) before the society will start accepting God’s law as their rule, even in the civil sphere (which should never be secular).

    Or “None, yet…”

    That additional “yet” is pretty arbitrary, eh? Can you add one to this rhetorical question as well?

  5. On Lk 12:47-48: Apples and Oranges. This does not speak to the penal responsibilities of the civil magistrate, but to condemnation levied by God Himself. Everyone knows that unfaithful covenant members are punished more severely than pagans on the last day.

  6. Indeed, so are we supposed to “get medieval” on the pagans until then? (I am tempted to say “no pun intended” about the Pulp Fiction reference, but since the shoe fits, I’ll wear it!)

  7. “That additional “yet” is pretty arbitrary, eh?”
    Actually, no. It is based on the numerous prophecies in scripture telling us that Christ will being justice to the nations. Arbitration happens when you acknowledge that some of those prophecies speak to the destruction earthly nations, but when it comes to Christ’s victory, well that only happens in heaven, not on earth. Take Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in Daniel 2, for instance.

  8. #6 No, we are to get mosaic.

    On Revelation 22:10-11: Note it says, “… the time is near.” Please entertain the proposition, if only for a moment, that what was near then is hear now. After AD 70 the Christian Church went from wandering about the desert to moving into the land for conquest. We’ve got roughly 1/3 of the promised land (the whole earth) world conquered so far. (Psalm 37:9; Matthew 5:5) the history of western civilization is the gospel of the Kingdom’s triumph over the works of the devil. This is why Christ came; to destroy the works of the devil, both in heaven and on earth.

  9. Ron,

    You want this earth? That’s pretty sick. I want The New Heavens and The New Earth, as did Abraham.

  10. Furthermore,
    The fact that you want to “get Mosaic” is a complete denial of the Book of Hebrews.

  11. Thx for bringing the hurt, Gene!

    I agree about Hebrews; theonomists don’t seem to understand that the law passed away because it was part of the Old Covenant, which was set aside as a whole. They seem to view it inside out, as if the Old Covenant were somehow smaller than, or inside The Law, so that the Old Covenant could be replaced with the New Covenant, and The Law left intact.

  12. You want this earth? That’s pretty sick. I want The New Heavens and The New Earth, as did Abraham.

    That’s like saying, “I want wine, but first let’s get rid of all the grape juice.” Yes, I want this earth, but not in its current condition, which is why I am a theonomist. I want it as it was in the beginning when God made it good. Sin corrupted that goodness when Adam fell. But now, the Heavens have been renewed (Satan has been cast out), and the Earth is following suit. If the world fell in Adam, and Christ as the Last Adam came to undo what the first Adam did, then what does that mean? Was Christ’s victory of no effect in this world? If not, can it even be called a victory? Skip to the end of the Book if you want to know what happens. Heaven comes down. All things are made new (as in the beginning). Mankind is reunited with their gracious Father in the Garden and is once again given access to the Tree of Life. This earth is becoming the New Earth and it is our inheritance. I’m sorry you think I am sick for not turning my nose up at what my Father in Heaven has promised me.

  13. What is the theonomist position on circumcision? Paul fought against gentiles being required to be circumcised, even saying of the circumcision group, “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” Doesn’t sound like Paul is as enamored with Old Testament law as the theonomists.

    “We are the circumcision, we who worship God in the spirit AND PUT NO CONFIDENCE IN THE FLESH.” A simple reading of Galatians should free us from slavish obedence to the law.

    Ok, I’m ready to get my teeth kicked in now! :-)

    P.S. Enjoyed the joke about the theonomists standing ready at the debate with a wheelbarrow full of rocks.

  14. theonomists don’t seem to understand that the law passed away because it was part of the Old Covenant, which was set aside as a whole.

    Sweet, so we can do whatever we want? Is that what it says in Hebrews? No, it says not to go back to Jerusalem and resume the old Levitical sacrificial system because the priesthood has been transferred to Melchizedek and Christ has taken up the office of our High Priest. Nowhere does it say that the Law has passed away. You can attempt to make it say that via copy/paste hermeneutics, but it doesn’t say that. The Law is not nullified through faith, but rather established.

  15. Yes, I want this earth, but not in its current condition, which is why I am a theonomist. I want it as it was in the beginning when God made it good.

    I think you have a non-starter here. That which you say you want is not what God offered to Adam, had he passed his probation. He was offered the very eschatological consummation that we are hoping for. To settle for what Adam had in the garden would equate to hell, a never ending probation without ever eating from the tree of life. Your way of getting back to that tree will end in disappointment, for you will find your way blocked by numerous cherubim weilding their flaming swords.
    In addition to that, it is not mere external conditions, paradise, in view here. What is really in view is to get beyond and not merely back to the internal original condition of Adam. He was able to not sin, we are not. In the consummation, not only will we be able to not sin, we will be unable to sin.
    Your current earth-bound program of law-keeping and obedience is a failure because you, and none of your offspring, can get to the point of not being able to sin. Therefore, your theonomic plan sounds like a good way to keep you off the streets at night but it will never bring about the consummation age. You need a radical consummation operated externally on the creation for this to happen.

    This earth is becoming the New Earth and it is our inheritance.

    Your choice of the word becoming gives me great pause. My hope is the resurrection of the dead. It’s all I think about. [Ask RubeRad why that is the case.] God’s language certainly suggests more than a gradual slide “upward” into a new state of being. I think his “simultaneous universal resurrection of the dead” language suggests the radical opposite of gradual upward slide [i.e. becoming].
    So, at bottom I think that what you have here is a theology of glory whereby man’s good works, law-keeping, obedience are thought to be able to bring us upward to that glorified state.

  16. Skip to the end of the Book if you want to know what happens.

    10 verses from the end of the book:

    Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.

    6 verses from the end of the book:

    Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

  17. Question for theonomists: Wouldn’t the prodigal son have been executed for disobedience to parents, before he could be restored by the father?

  18. Ruben,
    RE: #16 – Thank you for so vividly displaying the copy/paste hermeneutics I pointed out in #14. I have already explained to you in #8 how I handle those verses, but you make no attempt to handle the loads of verses that conflict with your eschatology. You just heap on other pieces of scripture in attempt to cover up those you do not want to talk about.

    I would like to see an autonomist answer to the numerous positive statements Paul makes concerning the Law. I would like to see an explanation how the prophetical nations destroyed are viewed as earthly, but the Nation that rises in their place is heavenly only or how the nations that run to that Nation are heavenly, not earthly. I would like to see how amills pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” or how they explain away the numerous passages that speak of Christ conquering the earth, nations, kings, just as He has cast the devil out of heaven. Could it be that ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH ARE COMING UNDER ONE HEAD, EVEN JESUS CHRIST? I think so. There are too many passages to list. All I can say is read your Bible and try not to read to quickly past the parts that do not fit into your paradigm.

  19. #17 *yawns* Not if the son was an adult.

  20. #19 – *belch* argument from silence?

  21. Ron,

    Re: 8

    We’ve got a third of the whole earth conquered? Really?

    Does that mean that you’re counting the Roman Catholic Church as conquered for Christ?

    Is that why they pray to Mary and to saints, and in the Council of Trent (which has not and will not be revoked) declared the doctrine of justification by faith alone to be anathema?

    If the Romans are right, then the Protestants (at least those who are still teaching justification by faith alone) remain unconquered, and those who seek to be justified by the works of the law are conquered already. That means Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc, are already conquered, because they’re seeking justification by deeds. As Paul says, they have the law written on their hearts, so it’s no wonder that they seek to be justified by it. Sure, they are confused about what justification is, but who cares? They’re still moral.

    If the Romans are wrong, then it is only Protestants who are in any sense conquered for Christ, not the Romans. This surely brings your “one-third” number down quite a bit. Protestants surely make up less than 10% of the earth, and even some of them aren’t really teaching justification by faith alone, so who knows how tiny a percentage is actually conquered?

    You seem to think that the Great Commission (to make disciples of all nations) is some kind of cultural mandate. The job of the church is not to make war or to conquer peoples, but to bear witness to the nations. Revelation speaks of people FROM every tongue, tribe and nation, not every person from every tribe, tongue and nation.

    We are pilgrims. This is not our home. We look forward to the city built not by the church, but by God. That’s why the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. Now, I don’t want to take this too literally either, but our hope is not in THIS world in THIS life. It is in the age TO COME, not in this present evil age.

    I think you’d be hard pressed to prove that there are any more true Christians now than there were 1000 years ago. But you’re welcome to try. But don’t assume that you can lump all the Romans in that category. That doesn’t mean NONE of them could be in that category, but surely not every member of a church that has declared the truth of the gospel to be anathema is saved. Where would they hear the gospel, so that they might come to faith and believe it? (See Rom 10)

    Or perhaps you suppose that salvation comes through law keeping. Very well, let’s all sit back and let the muslims take over. They believe in law keeping. If Jesus is more than a prophet, law keeping isn’t what it’s all about.

  22. Albino,

    I heard one preacher recently say that the prodigal son would have been cut off from the community, not allowed to be part of it, rather than executed, because he’s an adult. That’s why the father ran out to meet him, before the people could kick him out. Since his father was the offended party, he had the authority/power to forgive/restore his son.

    Take it for what you wish.

    E

  23. More argument from silence

  24. This is the only example of theonomy in action that I could find on video. The confusing thing, is the “magistrates” are dressed like pirates, and, from what I can deduce, they aren’t even Calvinists.Actual Video of Theonomy in Action

  25. Albino,

    Are you saying that I’m arguing from silence? What do you mean by that? Are you saying that I’m making an argument about something that isn’t in the text? Surely cultural context is a relevant interpretive tool?

    E

  26. Ok, here’s your homework, Echo. This is Jesus’ parable from Luke 15 in the ESV. Tell me how old the son was from the text? If you infer how old he was from “silence”, that is called an “argument from silence”.

    11And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to[b] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

    17″But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”‘ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'[c] 22But the father said to his servants,[d] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

    25″Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'”

  27. Albino,

    You obviously haven’t read “The Bible Code” by Michael Drosnin. If you drop every other “l” and add a vowel to every 5th “C” you come to and rearrange the 1st paragraph with the 2nd and add the day of the year, you’ll discover that the youngest son was 27, the father was an Old Testament Salesman and the older son was an ancestor of Stalin, Mao and Hitler. Couldn’t be clearer. :-)

    Brad

  28. Question for theonomists: Wouldn’t the prodigal son have been executed for disobedience to parents, before he could be restored by the father?

    Save me some time here. What’s the OT reference for this? Does an age limit accompany this prescription? I didn’t think so. Which isn’t to say there wasn’t one.

    Putting all that aside, I think this one-sided pissing contest over his age is moot since 1)he was dallying with whores. (And that fact alone is enough to prove that he was no spring chicken.)and 2) that crime was a capital offense.

    The reason he wasn’t executed for his crimes against God’s law is that this was a story told by our Lord. And the point of the story was to goad the Pharisees into seeing that Jesus himself is the longsuffering covenant Lord of the adulterous vassal nation of Israel and who himself wills to seek and save that which is lost (note the previous parables of the sheep and the lost coin).

    I am fairly convinced that had Jesus some other purpose behind the story, he might have concluded it with the son’s execution, since it was warranted.

  29. No, the son should not have been executed.

    Maybe you can make the argument for why you would think such a thing.

    I fear you’re taking Deut. 21:18-21 out of context.

    Jesus upheld this principle, though

    For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death (cf. Mark 7:10).

    The “children” mentioned in the OT are not simply disobedient children. They are grown, full blown rebels. The do not honor their mother or father, even when death is on the line (to borrow a phrase from The Princess bride)!

    Calvin states about nthis law,

    “Here first of all is showed what their charge and duty is which have children: and secondly that when children have grown past amendment by their fathers and mothers, they must be rooted out, because their doing is against nature, and is such an infection as provoketh God’s wrath upon the whole country…. Here God condemneth such disobedience to death. It is God that gives this sentence, and not man. And he sayeth that it is an unpardonable fault, when a child is so hardhearted that his father’s and mother’s correction cannot prevail with him. For why? We must ever come back to this point, that such a one is a monster: and whatsoever is against nature we ought to loathe and abhore it.”

    Einwhechter comments,

    “Severe Disobedience
    Second, the problems associated with this son are severe. This is not the case of a child who has failed to do his chores, spoke back to his parents, or even committed a serious act of disobedience, but of a son of dissolute character who is in full rebellion to the authority of his parent–she holds them and their word in contempt. Thetext says that the son is “stubborn” and “rebellious” (vv. 18, 20). Both of these descriptive terms are active participles, thus indicating habitual action. The son does not display a stubborn streak now and then, or act rebelliously from time to time, but is continuously stubborn and rebellious. The word “stubborn” refers to one who is obstinate in his resistance to authority. It is used in the Old Testament of a wild, untamed heifer (Hos. 4:16); of a immoral woman who has cast off restraint and indulges in lust (Pr. 7:11); and of Israel as a stubborn people who will not submit to God’s authority (Ps. 78:8; Is. 1:23). The word “rebellious” means, literally, to strike or lash, and is used of those who contend against authority and refuse to heed their words. The “rebellious” individual lashes out in contempt against those who have authority over him verbally, and perhaps even physically. In light of this, it is important to note that the law of the covenant prescribes death for anyone who strikes his parents (Ex. 21:15) or curses his parents (Ex. 21:17). There is, therefore, reason to suppose that the son in this case law has broken the law of the covenant in one or both of these ways. The parents also describe the character of their son as being a “glutton” and a “drunkard.” These sins are put forth as examples of a life lived without restraint.

    In the case of such rebellion and riotous living, and after all attempts at discipline and control have failed, the parents are to bring their son before the magistrates for judgment. If the magistrates concur in the parents’ estimate of the situation, they are to order the men of the city to stone the rebel with stones so that he dies (vv. 20-21). The purpose to be served in the execution of the rebellious son is to “put evil away from among you” and that all will “hear and fear” (v. 21).”

    And so in closing, let’s stop the straw men and the weak attempts at reductio ad absurdums.

    Why do people think they can refute thinsg so easily just by citing one verse, or, even more heinous, a *parable.*

  30. I am fairly convinced that had Jesus some other purpose behind the story, he might have concluded it with the son’s execution, since it was warranted.

    Wow!

  31. No, the son should not have been executed.

    You got me confused. Because you pretty much proceed to demonstrate why he should have been executed – or at least you have demonstrated that church discipline proceedings should have begun?

    I think your quotes support the beauty of the parable which outraged the Pharisees who would have wanted the story to end with a spanking if not a stoning.

    In any case, Jesus was certainly not teaching anything about theonomy here, as I pointed out.

  32. I’ll blockquote it backwards.

    !woW

    What are you all exercised about? It’s very hard to read minds, not having the gift and all.

  33. Bruce,

    Was that to me?

    The son was not like the children mentioned in the passages I cited. I explicitly pointed out that “disobedience” was not what was being talked about. It went much further than that. If “disobedient” kids were all killed, then why wasn’t *every* child in the OT community killed? Therefore, we must assume that a more *psecialized* for of rebellion and disobedience was involved. And to just *assert* (as Albino rhetorically has) that the prodigal was just such a child, is just that, an assertion.

    Furthermore, the son showed repentence. The Deut 18 passage presupposes that there is no repentence. These are children who refuse to humble themselves before their parents; not the case with the prodigal.

    The death penalty was not called for by a son going off and squandering his father’s money, and living with pigs.

    Einwechter states,

    “In the case of such rebellion and riotous living, and after all attempts at discipline and control have failed, the parents are to bring their son before the magistrates for judgment. If the magistrates concur in the parents’ estimate of the situation, they are to order the men of the city to stone the rebel with stones so that he dies (vv. 20-21). The purpose to be served in the execution of the rebellious son is to “put evil away from among you” and that all will “hear and fear” (v. 21).”

    Nothing like the above happened. And if Albino says it did, well, “argument from silence!.” ;-)

    So, here’s my syllogism:

    1. If no attempts at discipline and control are made, then rebellious sons cannot be put to death.

    2. No attempt was made with the son in Jesus parable.

    ____________

    3. Therefore, this rebellious son cannot be put to death.

    Indeed, the prodigal’s father *wilfully* gave his son his share of the inheritance. The son *chose* to spend his money in the way he did.

    This was not a direct sin against the father, but more of a sin against himself. He was stupid. A fool.

    But, you’re correct, this passage has *nothing* to do with theonomy.

    I furthermore noted where the lawgiver, the Lord Jesus, had no problem upholding the death penalty for those children who deserved it. And *that* does support the theonomic thesis.

  34. Albino asked,

    “What is the theonomist position on circumcision? Paul fought against gentiles being required to be circumcised, even saying of the circumcision group, “I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” Doesn’t sound like Paul is as enamored with Old Testament law as the theonomists.”

    Albino, can you cite *one* theonomist who argues that circumcision should still be applied today?

    Can you find *one* theonomist who says that we are saved and/or justified by the law? One?

    Here’s what Bahnsen says,

    “2). Since the Fall it has always been unlawful to use the law of God in hopes of establishing one’s own personal merit and justification, in contrast or complement to salvation by way of promise and faith; commitment to obedience is but the lifestyle of faith, a token of gratitude for God’s redeeming grace.”

    Or, take this thesis by Bahnsen,

    “11). The civil precepts of the Old Testament (standing ‘judicial laws’) are a model of perfect social justice for all cultures, even in the punishment of criminals. Outside of those areas where God’s law prescribes the intervention and application of penal redress, civil rulers are not authorized to legislate or use coercion (e.g., the economic marketplace).”

    Note the word “civil.” Was circumcision a “civil” crime? No. People who refused to be circumcised were not allowed in the covenant community, just liek today. This is the Church’s domain.

    Honestly, it appears you’ve not spent much time studying this issue and, in accord with a new testament command/law: “show yourself a workman approved by God,” I’d say that you should desire th do the appropriate homework before jumping into a debate.

    Really, you may not agree with theonomy, but to misrepresent your fellow Christians thusly, when you could spend an afternoon studying the issue in order to at least get the basics down, isn’t treating your neighbor how you would want to be treated.

    I mean, how would you feel if I said: “How do the law-hating antinomians here feel about beastiality? To bad you can’t say that having sex with cows is wrong since you reject the law. What’s your answer?”

    I’ll try to not slander my brothers, and us “legalistic” theonomists would appreciate the same.

    Sorry if the above was a little stern, but you’re the one who said,

    “Ok, I’m ready to get my teeth kicked in now! :-)”

    And so I was just obliging ;-)

  35. I’m not an expert on theonomy. It really was a question (with my rejoinder thrown in to save time). Now I know that you theonomists do not view circumcision as a Mosaic Law requirement that will be restored when you fellas become magistrates. Problem solved.
    Another question: Have you studied how the stonings will take place? How big will the rocks be,how will the victim be restrained, and where will the pharis – whoops, I meant magistrates stand in relationship to the victim. Will the rocks be thrown in baseball fashion, or just slammed over the victims head? And since Jesus said that “if we look at a woman to lust for her, we have committed adultery” too, I guess we better start lining up to get our rock shower with everybody else.

  36. Interesting that Jesus affirmed the death penalty:

    Matthew 15. 1-4

    1(A)Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus (B)from Jerusalem and said,
    2″Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they (C)do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

    3And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

    4″For God said, ‘(D)HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘(E)HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’

    (I am using NASB online bible. It capitalized OT quotations. I didn’t do it for rhetorical effect).

    The point is that its not just mean theonomists wanting to kill cute little children–Jesus says this! And the Dt21 reference actually in society acts to eliminate (not perfectly, mind you) the criminal class. It was on all the law books in America until sometime this century.

  37. Note the addendum to the original post…

  38. The point is that its not just mean theonomists wanting to kill cute little children–Jesus says this!

    You’re right — this is not the point. You are making reference to a second-table law. What the point really is, is that mean theonomists want to kill spiritually retarded non-Christians for outworking their original sin. Theonomists want to usurp God’s role as judge of non-Christians’ rebellion against Himself.

  39. Note the word “civil.” Was circumcision a “civil” crime?

    Are false worship, idolatry, blasphemy, and sabbath-breaking civil crimes? Theonomists say yes.

  40. Wacky,

    No, #32 was not directed to you. See #30.

    I put some effort into #15 and got no response. I sincerely want to hear where I am missing the theonomic/post-mill position regarding the desire to get back to Adam.

  41. Here’s a response: great comment!

  42. Every time Bruce posts, I feel like that weirdo on the tv show “Kung Fu”, trying to snatch the rock from his master’s hand.

  43. RE #15:
    It doesn’t matter. Theonomy doesn’t demand postmillennialism. My pastor was best friends with Bahnsen and my pastor is an amillennialist.

    I will set forward a scenario where amillennialism proves true AND a government is theonomic.

    Scenario:
    Let’s say that Hillary Clinton becomes Empress of the American Empire. And let’s say a lot of counties, states, and regions declare independence. One of them decides to start a theonomic government. No problems.

    And let’s also add that the rest of the world is in its sustained anti-climax amillennial outlook. Is there any tension between the two? I don’t think so.

  44. To post #35, Albino,

    God commanded stoning, so let’s remember who gave the law when we enthymemetically imply that it’s “harsh.”

    Furthermore, theonomy would hold that the standing case laws, in there general equity, are applicable. Stoning was not a standing case law. it’s not, say, an *element* of the death penalty but, rather, a *circumstance.*

    Lastly, it’s already been pointed out that the civil magistrate does not judge sins of the heart. The don’t have thejob of punishing sins of the heart, the church deals with that. We shoudl remember that though all crime is sin, not all sin is a crime.

    In regards to post #38, Ruben,

    We don’t *want* to kill non-Christains. That’s a psychological evaluation.

    But, isn’t all crime an outworking of original sin? If men were not sinful, they wouldn’t commit crimes against the law of God.

    Therefore, your claim proves too much. It would lead, logically, to the conclusion that *no* crimes should be punished because, well, they’re “outworkings of original sin.”

    Regarding post #40, Bruce,

    I meant was your post #31 directed at me, not #30.

    But I’ll comment on your post #15, since you put so much time into it ‘n all :-)

    Basically, I don’t have anything to say regarding any theonomic/postmill ties. One is an *eschatological* position and the other is an *ethical* position. I wouldn’t rest my theonomic case on the weak exegesis of postmillennial eschatology. Furthermore, postmillennialism talks about what *will* be the case, theonomy speaks to what *ought* to be. So, we need to be precise here.

    Having made those distinctions, I find most of your post irrelevant. I’ll offer a few comments, though:

    You wrote: “Your current earth-bound program of law-keeping and obedience is a failure because you, and none of your offspring, can get to the point of not being able to sin.”

    Reply: I wonder why you’d say this? Earlier I quoted one of the theonomic theses statement by Bahnsen. It reads,

    “2). Since the Fall it has always been unlawful to use the law of God in hopes of establishing one’s own personal merit and justification, in contrast or complement to salvation by way of promise and faith; commitment to obedience is but the lifestyle of faith, a token of gratitude for God’s redeeming grace.”

    So, theonomy is not teaching that law keeping earns us merit before the Father. But we do recognize that we live in a real world, with real sin, and real crimes, and those need real punishment. Everyone has a legal and peneological theory. So we throw our out there as a viable option, one which has a rigerous philosophical foundation in terms of which crime and punishment makes sense and can be considered just. We contend that, say, pluralism, is a faulty option. We contend that the other-law attitudes are faulty and do not have the philosophical muscle required to do heavy ethical lifting needed to show your position to be just, non-relativistic, etc.

    You wrote: “Therefore, your theonomic plan sounds like a good way to keep you off the streets at night but it will never bring about the consummation age.”

    Reply: And I agree. And I’m glad that you agree that it’s a “good plan” for civil magistrates to follow. ;-)

    Anyway, in conclusion, by rejecting your tie into postmillennialism, and your redirection of an ethical debate to a eschatological debate, I don’t think you’ve really offered a challenge to theonomy.

  45. your claim proves too much. It would lead, logically, to the conclusion that *no* crimes should be punished because, well, they’re “outworkings of original sin.”

    My full sentence included “rebellion against Himself”, by which I meant specifically theonomists are attempting to “get God’s back” and temporally punish people who have sinned only against God, not against man. I know Theonomists believe that 1st table sins are civil offenses, but I don’t buy it. It is not man’s role to execute judgment for God’s greivances. Rather, it is only man’s role within a Holy Nation where God has specifically delegated that authority: Namely in OT Israel, and in the New Covenant Church. The OT Israelite sword was typical of the NT sword of excommunication. Read 1 Cor 5:12-13 carefully, then go read all of these, and if you can’t figure it out, go read this.

  46. Note the second addendum to the post. Jeff & I both called in to Gene’s post-debate webcast. Here’s the mp3

  47. You have to read #15 in the context of #9 and #12. This is where the jump from ethics to eschatology took place, not in #15. #9 addressed it, #12 confirmed it.

    Yes, I want this earth, but not in its current condition, which is why I am a theonomist. I want it as it was in the beginning when God made it good. Sin corrupted that goodness when Adam fell.

    So, I would say #15 read in context is totally relevant. If you notice, I am the one squashing any attempts to bring eschatology into the picture. Thus, I fully realize that there can be theonomists who are a-millenial.

    So, my charge that we have here a full blown theology of glory stands.

  48. On the radio show today, Gene made a very good point, which I will try to capsulize. The Theonomist makes progress by isolating the “ought” from the “how”. All by itself, the “ought” is hard to argue against. But just as (from Jeff’s earliest opening statement) there is really no law without enforcement, there is really no “ought” without “how”. Thus, it’s not hermeneutically valid to divorce the “how” from the “ought”.
    Let me break it down for you, practical-style. Man “ought” to obey the first table of the law. Therefore the civil magistrate “ought” to enforce the first table of the law. But any “how” involves unregenerate civil magistrates getting in over their heads, trying to legislate and enforce matters that their depravity makes them unable to comprehend, agree with, or submit to! Thus we have to unroll and fix our understanding of the “ought”.
    Man “ought” to obey the first table of the law. But that does not mean that the civil magistrate “ought” to be enforcing it. The only “how” is God regenerates man, enabling him to obey, or God judges man for failing to obey.
    To bring this back to the previous discussion, any “how” for the Theonomic position is bound to a postmillenial theology of glory. Since Postmil is wrong, that’s what forces us to roll back the “oughts” to find out at what point the Theonomic argument went wrong.

  49. And you misread my

    your theonomic plan sounds like a good way to keep you off the streets at night

    I should never have put the words “plan” and “good” in the same sentence with the word “theonomic” lest it come out like an approbation of theonomy. What I meant was that #15’s ruminations over this theory keeps him so busy that he doesn’t have time to make hay on the streets at night.

    His respect for the cops is strictly a common grace deal. God’s providence either falls into the bucket of common grace or redemptive grace. Therefore, unless you are trying to create a third category, theonomy will have to fall into one or the other. Since I don’t see how theonomy can possibly fall into the redemptive grace bucket, it has to fall into the common grace bucket. However, due process, established in Genesis 4 and reaffirmed in Genesis 9, already falls into the common grace bucket. So I don’t see the need to modify it. God is in control. Thank him for that.

  50. Hmmmm,

    Well…

    So the “outworkings of original sin” was a mute point and so now we can drop that aspect of your claim and focus on the others. Good.

    You wrote: “My full sentence included “rebellion against Himself”, by which I meant specifically theonomists are attempting to “get God’s back” and temporally punish people who have sinned only against God, not against man.”

    I’ll outline an answer:

    i) Then I assume you don’t think beastiality should be punished since it’s not “sin against man?” Looks like you need to be more careful, or claim that beastiality shouldn’t be punished. Which is it?

    ii) It looks as if you assume that the *punishments* for the second table crimes still apply today. So, would you be for the death penalty for adultary and incorrigible children? Both those are “sins against man.” If not, then why act as if theonomists are wrong for positing some punishments for first table sins when in actuality you think that theonomists are wrong about penology in *both* tables. If you think that, then what’s your just punishment for theft? 10 or 5 years in jail? If either, how are you not a relativist? And, how can *both* be “just?”

    iii) Regarding sin against God/man: Psalm 51:1-13 is almost universally recognized as David’s confession for muder and adultary. He says, “Against the, and THEE ONLY, have I sinned.

    Or, take Joeseph’s discussion of Adultary in Genesis ch. 31:

    “Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, AND SIN AGAINST GOD?”

    So, in one sense all sin is sin strictly against God, and Him alone.

    In a more restricted and narrow sense, sin can be against man also. But in this sense man fits into the sins committed against them in the 1st commandment.

    iv) We’re attempting to punish people who commit crimes. That’s it. Your comments are styled by question begging epithets.

    You said: “I know Theonomists believe that 1st table sins are civil offenses, but I don’t buy it.”

    Reply: No, the civil *aspect* of some first table sins are sins against man. There’s more than one aspect to sins. We need to be more precise. The second table includes, as an aspect, sins which are not violations of the civil law in one way, but not another. Take murder for example. You’re confusing categories.

    You said: “Rather, it is only man’s role within a Holy Nation where God has specifically delegated that authority: Namely in OT Israel, and in the New Covenant Church.”

    Reply: You’re not taking into account that varied functions and types Israel was a type of. Yes, a type of Israel was to forshadow the church, eshatology, etc. But another was a model for civil governemnt (as Deut 4 tells us). Indeed, I can even say that eschatology and the NT church were cheif ends of OT Israel. But “cheif” ends presuppose other ends.

    This is common in Scripture. David typified Christ, be he also had the role of a real kind. Christ’s cheif end was a “redeemer.” But he was also a “revealer.”

    Therefore you’re focusing one one picture, while I’m looking at another.

    The OT state did enforce civil laws against non-Israelites (Lev. 24:22). Yet these foreigners were not required to keep most of the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law (Ex. 12:43,44,48; 9:33; Deut. 14:21). Only the circumcised were allowed to participate in the Passover, the old covenant communion meal. Thus the two marks of the covenant — circumcision and Passover — separated members of the “church” from members of the “state.”

    Hope that helps,

    Waky

  51. my post 50 was a reply to ruben’s post 45

  52. So Bruce,

    Those were responses to someone other than me.

    I’ve already told you how I’d answer it and to refer me to other posts that someone else posted isn’t a reply to anything I’ve said. Nor were those other posts found in theonomic literature.

  53. In response to post #48,

    That’s a weak point.

    First, thanks for recognizing that “it’s very hard to argue” against theonomy since the *ought* is *all* it is committed to, logically.

    Second,

    “But just as (from Jeff’s earliest opening statement) there is really no law without enforcement, there is really no “ought” without “how”. Thus, it’s not hermeneutically valid to divorce the “how” from the “ought”.

    This is a non-sequitur. One can simply talk about how the law *ought* to be enforced.

    Furthermore, it’s vague. We know “how” they would enforce it. doesn’t mean they will.

    Third,

    “Let me break it down for you, practical-style. Man “ought” to obey the first table of the law. Therefore the civil magistrate “ought” to enforce the first table of the law. But any “how” involves unregenerate civil magistrates getting in over their heads, trying to legislate and enforce matters that their depravity makes them unable to comprehend, agree with, or submit to! Thus we have to unroll and fix our understanding of the “ought”.”

    Self-refuting. I’ve been over this with gene as well. And, at best, all this would prove is that theonomy will never be the case, not that it *shouldn’t.* These are elementary fallacies.

    But it’s self-refuting because man cannot “submit” to ANY of God’s laws. So, the argument proves too much.

    Fourth,

    “Man “ought” to obey the first table of the law. But that does not mean that the civil magistrate “ought” to be enforcing it. The only “how” is God regenerates man, enabling him to obey, or God judges man for failing to obey.”

    Same with murder.

    Anyway, there are people who hate America. They just don’t publicly seek to form rebellion or anarchy.

    Likewise, it wouldn’t be hard for men to not publicly undermine the foundation of society as found in God. Indeed, NON-ISRAELITES did it in the OT land!

    If your argument were true, then unbelievers in Israel would be getting killed on a daily basis.

    I mean, can we even get a competant critique of theonomy here that isn’t logically, philosophcially, and factually faulty?

  54. i) Then I assume you don’t think beastiality should be punished since it’s not “sin against man?” Looks like you need to be more careful, or claim that beastiality shouldn’t be punished. Which is it?

    Fine. I’ll amend my statement to “sin only against God” and leave off the “not against man”. Or change it to “sin only against the Creator, not against his creation.”

    ii) It looks as if you assume that the *punishments* for the second table crimes still apply today.

    I won’t be drawn into a (closely related) second-table debate, just like you won’t be drawn into a postmil debate. I’m not sure exactly where I stand with second-table, and whether or not to uphold precise general equity of second-table violations is at least negotiable with me.
    The problem I do see with the basic concept of plopping the Mosaic law into today’s civil sphere is that it is difficult to disentangle just how much of that law (moral and case) applied to Israel because of its special status as a Holy Nation. This is the basis on which I deem that none of the first table is applicable to non-holy modern nations. I think there might be much of the second table that is similarly non-applicable, but I am not certain of the details. Moving on, you already respond to this paragraph (are you consulting a witch to see into the future?):

    But another [purpose of Mosaic law] was a model for civil government (as Deut 4 tells us)

    I disagree. When I read Deut 4 (and Ps 147:19-20), I see the other nations realizing (and Moses confirming) that no other nation could ever be like Israel. What other nation? No Other Nation. So I know you’re looking at another picture; it’s not that I’m not focusing on your picture, I’m denying its validity. To assume your picture is to beg the original question.

    man cannot “submit” to ANY of God’s laws. So, the argument proves too much.

    I’m sure you’ve been over this with Gene too, but if you want to stay in “ought” land, then all men “ought” to obey God full all the time, thus no civil magistrates would be necessary, much less ones to legislate unnecessary-to-enforce laws.

    One can simply talk about how the law *ought* to be enforced.

    One cannot easily see the flaws in one’s “ought”-only thinking until one realizes that all possible “hows” show that what you thought were “oughts” were wrong.
    In any case, my argument is that the common-grace institution of the civil magistrate “ought” not to meddle in 1st-table legislation.

    If your argument were true, then unbelievers in Israel would be getting killed on a daily basis.

    Talk to Jeff & Ron, who would have laws executing Mormons, JW’s, Hare Krishnas, etc. for evangelizing or even publicly worshipping without evangelizing. If their arguments were true, then unbelievers in Israel would have been (or at least should have been) getting killed on a daily basis.

  55. To #54
    I am theonomic and I don’t believe in “plopping the judicials” onto society as they stand (although if we did do that our civil liberties would dramatically increase). In Bahnsen’s lecture on either “Law-Categoriation” criticism or–I think it was that one–he was responding to Lee Roy Taylor and said that no theonomist believes “x” (a form of what you just posited).

    Rather I would suggest we apply the underlying principle behind the case law to our society. Quite often this will parallel the case law. Fine. Sometimes, given 21st century context, it will look differently (railing on roof = fence around swimming pool).

    My two cents

  56. I didn’t say plop them as they stand, I said plop the general equity. I’m fine with fences around swimming pools, and I feel no compunction to put a railing on my roof.

    And the general equity of 1st-table penalties is excommunication administered by our nation of priests, the Church, and final judgment of all mankind by our Great High Priest.

  57. In response to #54, Ruben,

    Fine. I’ll amend my statement to “sin only against God” and leave off the “not against man”. Or change it to “sin only against the Creator, not against his creation.”

    I’ve already addressed this in #50. There’s a “against God” *asepct* of the first commandment, and an “against man” *aspect* of it.

    In my view it would function just like laws against anarchism and rebellion in the U.S.

    The non-Israelits were not forced to bring sacrifices to God, but they were forced to not publicly draw Israelites away from Jehovah. And, if they did, that would be a sin against *man!* (And God, of course.)

    Some of the violations of the first commandment were *civil* violations, others were not. Unbelief is a violation, but in the OT land, foreigners who did not believe were not punished for their unbelief, yet they did commit sin by doing so. But, unbelievers *were* punished for other 1st commandment violations.

    I won’t be drawn into a (closely related) second-table debate, just like you won’t be drawn into a postmil debate. I’m not sure exactly where I stand with second-table, and whether or not to uphold precise general equity of second-table violations is at least negotiable with me.

    Ah, but I won’t be drawn into that because it’s *fallacious* to draw me into that. It’s a category mistake.

    Take this situation: Maybe the world will all stop having abortions, maybe they won’t. Let’s say that we had a crystal ball and saw that the world would never end abortion until Jesus came back from heaven. So, now we know that it will *never* be the case that people won’t stop aborting children. Should we then say, well since it *won’t* end we shouldn’t say that it *ought* to end? No!

    But with you, I’m trying to draw out a *logical inconsistency.* With both tables we’re talking about *ethics/ethics,* whereas with postmillennialism/theonomy we’re talking about eschatology/ethics.

    With regards to Deut 4 you replied,

    I disagree. When I read Deut 4 (and Ps 147:19-20, I see the other nations realizing (and Moses confirming) that no other nation could ever be like Israel. What other nation? No Other Nation. So I know you’re looking at another picture; it’s not that I’m not focusing on your picture, I’m denying its validity. To assume your picture is to beg the original question.

    Some comments

    i) This doesn’t mean it’s not a model.

    ii) Apropos (i), Christ’s life is the model for us. Just because we won’t be like Christ in this life (in that we’ll still sin, etc) doesn’t imply that he’s not our *model.*

    iii) The fact is that the nations *noted* that these laws are just and righteous. And *this* is the question. What *standard* should the standard of our laws be?

    iv) Cultural relativism is false. Therefore, if the civil laws in Israel were the moral and just laws, they should, therefore, have the same status for all cultures.

    v) If these laws were not a standard, then why does God tell us that the nations there before the Israelites had violated the *same* laws he gave Israel?

    vi) 1 Timothy 1:8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

    vii) Apropos, (vi), notice *both* tables included in 1 Timothy.

    viii) Thus if Israel is not a model for civil government, what is? Opinions? To the extent you appeal to general revelation, i appeal to the fact that that is supressed and that, as calvin says, is only read aright through the specticals of Scripture.

    ix) Yes, Israel was definately unique. But our question is, was it unique in its civic aspect?

    x) Apropos (ix), I don’t think so, As Bahnsen puts it: “All political rulers, even those outside of the Jewish nation, are morally bound to the political requirements of God’s law. We can see this by the fact that the most evil political ruler imaginable, “the beast” of Revelation 13, is negatively described as substituting his own law for that of the law of God, figuratively written upon the forehead and hand (vv. 16-17 in contrast to Deuteronomy 6:8). Those who oppose this wicked ruler are, by contradistinction, twice described as believers who “keep the commandments of God” (12:17; 14:12). Paul’s condemning title for this wicked ruler was precisely “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), indicating his guilt for repudiating the law of God in his rule.”

    I’m sure you’ve been over this with Gene too, but if you want to stay in “ought” land, then all men “ought” to obey God full all the time, thus no civil magistrates would be necessary, much less ones to legislate unnecessary-to-enforce laws.

    Yes, I’ve been over that with Gene. And, yes, all men “ought” to obey God’s laws. But, they don’t. So, now my next question is: “Since they don’t, what legal and peneological system “ought” we to have?”

    In any case, my argument is that the common-grace institution of the civil magistrate “ought” not to meddle in 1st-table legislation.

    I know that’s your assertion.

    Talk to Jeff & Ron, who would have laws executing Mormons, JW’s, Hare Krishnas, etc. for evangelizing or even publicly worshipping without evangelizing. If their arguments were true, then unbelievers in Israel would be getting killed on a daily basis.

    No, because unbelievers in Israel did not *do that.* That’s my point. If it was “impossible” for unregenerate man to obey the first commandment, then why weren’t they getting knocked-off left and right?

    Obviously it wasn’t “impossible” for them to obey this *aspect* of the law – the *civil aspect* of the 1st commandment. Now, of course they couldn’t obey the *heart* aspects of the civil law (i.e., unbelief, believing in other gods, etc), but those weren’t enforced by the OT civil magistrate; otherwise, we’d see all unbelievers being killed in OT Israel.

    Therefore I maintain that “Mormons” and “JWs” etc., could obey the *civil* aspect of the law, but it would take the regenerating work of the Spirit to obey the non-criminal elements of it.

    Likeiwse, in our society, American-hating domestic terrorists, anarchists, and revolutionaries, and the like are able to obey the outword requirments of the law, while they still don’t submit to America in their hearts.

  58. Apropos, (vi), notice *both* tables included in 1 Timothy.

    Actually, before I even read that you wanted me to notice both tables, I was looking for the 1st table, and didn’t find it, at least not specifically. “Ungodly”, “unholy”, and “against sound doctrine” are pretty vague — is not murder ungodly and unholy and against sound doctrine? And I find it quite interesting that, in contrast to many other lists of evils in the NT (Rom 1:23, I Cor 5:10, etc.), “idolatry” is omitted

    If these laws were not a standard, then why does God tell us that the nations there before the Israelites had violated the *same* laws he gave Israel?

    Because those nations did violate God’s law, and God sovereignly used Israel to punish them — but (as Gene noted), the punishment did not come civilly, not according to Mosaic due process, but specially. I think you will agree that Israel’s execution of God’s justice to the Canaanite nations was unique: God will never again give an earthly nation a 007 license to kill. He may well work his justice through second causes (nations that do not understand or admit that they are carrying out God’s will, like Babylon conquering Israel, etc.), but he will never again use special revelation to direct a nation to execute His judgment on another nation. Because of this, the guilt of the Canaanite nations is irrelevant to the question of the duties of the civil magistrate, and actually reinforces the non-theonomic perpsective that, outside of Israel, God personally assumed responsibility for judging 1st table offenses, and did not delegate that judgment to the general earthly institution of civil magistrate.

    Yes, Israel was definately unique. But our question is, was it unique in its civic aspect?

    Israel was the only true theocracy that ever was, or ever will be. The only one that was theocratic in relation to the true God, and established by the true God. Seems pretty unique to me.

    No, because unbelievers in Israel did not *do that.* That’s my point. If it was “impossible” for unregenerate man to obey the first commandment, then why weren’t they getting knocked-off left and right?

    I assume you mean “No, because BELIEVERS in Israel did not *do that*”? There were lots of things believers in Israel didn’t do that they should have been doing. You can’t use the flawed practice of the Israelites to argue about what the law actually was.

  59. Albino,

    Re: 26

    You’re so smart! The prodigal son COULD HAVE been 5 years old for all we know! Thanks so much for bringing this to my attention. Little did I know that 5 year olds ask their father for their inheritance and then pick up and move away, squander their inheritance, work for a while as slopping hogs, and then come back, all before they had reached adulthood!

    You’re right! I am an idiot. I totally made unwarranted assumptions about the text!

    E

  60. I’d really like to see somebody address this from my original post:

    Second, many times during the debate, Jeff attempted the reductio ad absurdem of “can it be that a standard of law and punishment is just on one side of a line, but not just if you jump across a border to the other side of a line?” Well how about this line between “cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance” (for which the Lord prescribed “you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall devote them to complete destruction”), and “the cities that are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here,” (for which the Lord allows to Israel: “you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you”)?
    More to the point, the Theonomist often attempts to soften the apparent harshness of his position by saying “such laws are not appropriate for today, but for a future in which society has become [majority/largely/completely] Christian.” To that concept I say, how can it be that a standard of law and punishment is just on the far side of a dateline in which society is 51% (90%? 99%?) Christian, but not just right here and right now?

  61. Wacky,

    Re: 34

    Excellent! Bravo! I’m not a theonomist, but I applaud your response, both in form and content. Very respectable.

    E

  62. You’re right! I am an idiot. I totally made unwarranted assumptions about the text!

    Finally, an Echo quote that needs no rebuttal! Seriously, though, Echo brings forward the little used “ad hominem” fallacy ON HIMSELF! Like the man holding a gun to his own head saying, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot!” Nice…

  63. I won’t be drawn into a (closely related) second-table debate, just like you won’t be drawn into a postmil debate. I’m not sure exactly where I stand with second-table, and whether or not to uphold precise general equity of second-table violations is at least negotiable with me.

    Why do you think this is, Rube? Do you plan to categorize the commandments further? How about divvying them up into “Laws the breaking of which I personally find detestable”, and “Laws the breaking of which no one should lose sleep over.” You don’t even need any exegetical basis to make such a division. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Get your hammer and chisel out and it’ll all come loose like so many pieces of old green kitchen tile. Once you start chipping away at God’s Law, it’s hard to stop, huh?

  64. [Adam] was offered the very eschatological consummation that we are hoping for.

    Yes, I know. This is my same hope. It would appear then that our point of contention is not whether we will once again receive what we lost in Adam, but rather what exactly it was that Adam lost.

    To settle for what Adam had in the garden would equate to hell…

    So Autonomists think that union and communion with our Heavenly Father, talking and walking with Him in the garden in the cool of the day is hell? And someone said I’m sick…

  65. To post #58, Ruben,

    Actually, before I even read that you wanted me to notice both tables, I was looking for the 1st table, and didn’t find it, at least not specifically. “Ungodly”, “unholy”, and “against sound doctrine” are pretty vague — is not murder ungodly and unholy and against sound doctrine? And I find it quite interesting that, in contrast to many other lists of evils in the NT (Rom 1:23, I Cor 5:10, etc.), “idolatry” is omitted.

    Reply,

    i) Read the sins committed in the first commandment in our catechisms.

    ii) The law is against the murderers, the liars, the adultarers, etc. It’s also against the “profane” and “ungodly” and “unholy.” Why assume that those are just talking about what Paul mentions right below them. Kind of repretative.

    iii) Calvin comments,

    “Here Paul glances at several classes, which include briefly every kind of transgressions. The root is obstinacy and rebellion; which he describes by the first two words. Ungodly and sinners appear to denote transgressors of the first and second table.”

    iv) Romans 1 most definately includes first commandment violation.

    Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

    v) Operating on the assumption that we consider binding until the law-giver abrogates, then where’s the abrogation of these laws.

    vi) Idolatry was a moral/civil offense in the OT. So, do we hold to cultural relativism?

    Because those nations did violate God’s law, and God sovereignly used Israel to punish them — but (as Gene noted), the punishment did not come civilly, not according to Mosaic due process, but specially.

    Right, but the point is that God held them accountable to the *same* civil laws He gave Israel. He told Israel to “keep those laws.” He tells us that “not keeping them” is wrong. Therefore, for any nation to not keep those laws, they’re wrong to do so. What, do we assume that just because God is not engaged in holy war anymore those nations have different laws now? That’s odd reasoning.

    Furthermore, *God* has the right to punish sin at any time He wants. That He chose to exercise his right to immediate judgment does not imply that the civil punishments for *nations* wouldn’t apply? I would have thought this much was obvious. I mean, God immediately killed Ananias and Saphira, therefore the *Church* isn’t obligated to go through excommunication processes?? Stated another way, does God’s immediate judgment of Ananias and Saphira have *anything* to do with how *Church’s* are supposed to govern? Likewise, does God’s immediate judgment somehow mean that the human civil punishments don’t apply?

    Because of this, the guilt of the Canaanite nations is irrelevant to the question of the duties of the civil magistrate, and actually reinforces the non-theonomic perpsective that, outside of Israel, God personally assumed responsibility for judging 1st table offenses, and did not delegate that judgment to the general earthly institution of civil magistrate.

    i) No, it’s relevant to showing that those nations were under the *same* laws though. The one doesn’t negate the other. See above.

    ii) You must be assuming that there’s a theonomic thesis which says that God didn’t directly punish those nations!?

    iii) It’s an ethical question. What laws *should* those nations have had and how *should* they have punished criminals? To argue that they *didn’t,* therefore they *shouldn’t,* is to commit the is/ought fallacy.

    iv) We know that they were under the same laws, therefore the same punishments should have applied. Punishments can be moral and immoral as well. Morality is objective and non-relativistic.

    Israel was the only true theocracy that ever was, or ever will be. The only one that was theocratic in relation to the true God, and established by the true God. Seems pretty unique to me.

    i) But I agreed it was unique. They also ate food. Should no other peoples eat food? Were they unique in *that* sense?

    ii) There was also a civil tax, should our nation not tax anyone?

    iii) “Theocracy” is a terribly vague word, subject to multiple interpretations:

    a) It could mean that a God governs government. Well, then all governments are theocratic, it just depends on what “god” they choose to govern the land.

    b) It could mean that God directly governs his people via ongoing revelation. Well, theonomists don’t teach this.

    c) It could just mean that God is the king. Well, Jesus is king over all.

    d) it could be used to deny a political pluralism, in which *men* decide applications of law. But theonomy denies this in that its pluralism is a biblical pluralism and the men simply decide based on an ultimate authority, just like they do now.

    iv) The attempt to undermine that theonomic responsibility on the basis of theocratic considerations has ben refuted by Bahnsen, see Theonomy in Christian Ethics pp. 427-432.

    v) So, we recognize the continuity and the discontinuity of OT Israel.

    vi) As a reductio, I’ll bring back the second table. Why do those apply today? Wasn’t Israel unique? If you say, “no, murder (for example) was outlawed before the ‘law’,” then I’ll respond by pointing out that the *distinctions* between 1st and 2nd degree murder was made in the law given to Israel. So, where does *that* disticntion come from in your view? If you can accept *some* of Israel’s laws and apply it today, then it appears that even *you* don’t hold that Israel was *radically* unique. So, why is it wrong for me to accept *some* of the laws as applicable today, just like you do? I think its because you don’t *like* the theonomic thesis. it just doesn’t *feel* right. but, that’s IMHO.

    I assume you mean “No, because BELIEVERS in Israel did not *do that*”? There were lots of things believers in Israel didn’t do that they should have been doing. You can’t use the flawed practice of the Israelites to argue about what the law actually was.

    No, I meant UN-BELIEVERS.

    Gene argued that unbelievers couldn’t obey the law of God (1st table), right?

    I simply pointed out that UN-BELIEVERS obeyed the law, in its civil aspect, in the OT; otherwise, they would have all been killed.

    So, apparently, UN-BELIVERS can obey this aspect of the law and, hence, we wouldn’t be offing Mormons and Muslims left and right, just like the OT jews weren’t offing the UN-BELIEVERS who lived in their land.

  66. So Autonomists think that union and communion with our Heavenly Father, talking and walking with Him in the garden in the cool of the day is hell? And someone said I’m sick…

    Hell in the sense of being on probation with the prospect of the consummation being forever offered but never delivered. Hell in the sense of forever being susceptible to sin and being killed for it. Nothing more. I’m not sick.

  67. Romans 1 most definately includes first commandment violation.

    Yes, and Romans 1 and 2 clearly describe God as the Judge: quoting myself from elsewhere:

    Paul’s judgment that such offenders should be “delivered unto Satan” hearkens back to Romans 1; even though the godless “deserve to die”, “God gives them up” to to their lusts, to their dishonorable passions, to their debased minds. Immediately after this, Romans 2 proceeds to instruct man not to judge. Man cannot judge because every man is equally guilty. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things.” “He will render to each one according to his works” “there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress”; not from men on this earth, but from God in the final judgement.

    Likewise, does God’s immediate judgment [of Ananias and Sapphira] somehow mean that the human civil punishments don’t apply?

    No more than God’s direct indictment/judgment of Sodom & Gomorrah, Nineveh, Canaan, Babylon, Assyria, Tyre, Sidon, &c &c &c, somehow mean that human civil punishments DO apply.

    “Theocracy” is a terribly vague word, subject to multiple interpretations

    How about this one: The laws & politico-religious structure were given by direct, special revelation from God. (Why do you skirt this definition with “ongoing”?) This whole question would go away if God had written the American constitution…

    I simply pointed out that UN-BELIEVERS obeyed the law, in its civil aspect, in the OT; otherwise, they would have all been killed.

    That relies on the incredibly false assumption that Israelites obeyed the law and killed everybody they were supposed to kill. I think that’s called the “is/ought fallacy”, although I can’t quite remember where I first learned that term…

    Morality is objective and non-relativistic.

    Then why did God decree different punishments relative to distance from the promised land? Why do theonomists push 1st table death penalty laws off into the future, saying they are (relatively) inappropriate right now?

  68. Response to #67, Ruben,

    Yes, and Romans 1 and 2 clearly describe God as the Judge: quoting myself from elsewhere:

    Paul’s judgment that such offenders should be “delivered unto Satan” hearkens back to Romans 1; even though the godless “deserve to die”, “God gives them up” to to their lusts, to their dishonorable passions, to their debased minds. Immediately after this, Romans 2 proceeds to instruct man not to judge. Man cannot judge because every man is equally guilty. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” “We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who do such things.” “He will render to each one according to his works” “there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress”; not from men on this earth, but from God in the final judgement.

    i) Murray ( a non-theonomist and author of a commentary on Roamns in the top 3) says,

    “The ordinances of God in this case is the judicial ordinance of God; it is expressly defined as such in the succeeding clause, namely, “that they that practice such things are worthy of death.”

    ii) The expression “deserve death” (axios thanatou), is an allusion to Deut. 21:22.

    iii) Dikaioma (ordinance) is properly translated: regulation, requirment, commandment, statute (authoritative dictionaries and lexicons describe this as the rendering “with the most common sense”).

    iv) Man cannot judge? Well, “when you judge, judge rightly.” The civil magistrate judges.

    v) God’s judgment falls rightly on murderers, so the civil magistrate shouldn’t punish murderers? I frankly don;t see the relevence of your point.

    vi) If your point means to imply that the civil magistrate does not have a responsibility to punish those sins mentioned in Romans 1, then what, exactly, does the magistrate punish?!?

    No more than God’s direct indictment/judgment of Sodom & Gomorrah, Nineveh, Canaan, Babylon, Assyria, Tyre, Sidon, &c &c &c, somehow mean that human civil punishments DO apply.

    But again you miss the point. Those show that God held those nations/cities responsible for the *same* laws he held Israel accountable. You can’t have moral sanctions without the penal sanctions.

    How about this one: The laws & politico-religious structure were given by direct, special revelation from God. (Why do you skirt this definition with “ongoing”?) This whole question would go away if God had written the American constitution…

    Well that’s not a standard definition of theocracy.

    At any rate, was the garden a theocracy? On your definition it would have been, and, therefore, israel was not unique!

    Be that as it may, I don’t have a problem with this per se. What’s the alternative? Man’s autonomous reason finding our what the structure for politics should be? Autonomous man making up laws?

    I do have a problem in that theonomists agree that *those laws* that God gave Israel “expired” with “that body politic.”

    I just recognize that man needs revelation. As David said, “In thy light we see light.”

    That relies on the incredibly false assumption that Israelites obeyed the law and killed everybody they were supposed to kill. I think that’s called the “is/ought fallacy”, although I can’t quite remember where I first learned that term…

    No, that’s not called the is/ought fallacy.

    I gave the evidence to back my claim up. The unbelievers WERE NOT commanded to obey cerimonial laws, just civil.

    My claim is that the unbelievers were allowed to live in the land simply BECAUSE they could obey the external civil aspect of the 1st commandment. If they were killed for unbelief then EVERY unbeliever would have been killed. If your only out is to say that Israelites didn’t kill NOT A ONE of their unbelieving neighbors, then at this point I can’t convince you of anything.

    Then why did God decree different punishments relative to distance from the promised land? Why do theonomists push 1st table death penalty laws off into the future, saying they are (relatively) inappropriate right now?

    I don’t say that they’re inappropriate right now. Which theonomist says that?

    Your passage just shows your misunderstanding of theonomy. We argue for THE STANDING CIVIL CASE LAWS, the above was not a case law.

    The above wasn’t a “moral law” and so it has absolutely nothing to do with the debate.

    I’m at a lost as to how 95% of your arguments are against theonomy, seriously?

  69. Wow, busy busy bees. I know who Wacky is (now). But who is Theo Nomian?

    If you don’t want to reveal yourself here, could you go to my website, e-mail me off line to let me know? If you want to keep it secret, let me know and I’ll keep that a secret.

    Jeff
    http://www.kazules.com

  70. Maybe the right response is just being lost in all of the long posts. Therefore, I will respond to ONE point that seems like Rube either:
    a. doesn’t understand or
    b. refuses to admit he does.
    Rube says:

    No more than God’s direct indictment/judgment of Sodom & Gomorrah, Nineveh, Canaan, Babylon, Assyria, Tyre, Sidon, &c &c &c, somehow mean that human civil punishments DO apply.

    THE FACT THAT GOD JUDGED THE AFOREMENTIONED *GROUPS* OF PEOPLE AS *GROUPS* DEMANDS THAT *THEY* WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LAWS THAT *THEY* BROKE (AS A GROUP).
    There is NO unrighteousness in God, therefore He would not have punished a group of people that *didn’t* know any better.
    Same argument, restated:

    Leviticus 18:21 And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:27-28 27 (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

    Among *MANY* of the sins these *nations* were judged for, we find

    “profaning God’s name.”

    So, these people, these *groups* of people *knew* that they SHOULDN’T BE DOING THEM!!!!

    That’s one simple point. If you don’t get this ONE point, then it’s no wonder you DON’T (or won’t) get the rest of the argument.

    Jeff

  71. I’m at a loss as to how 95% of your arguments are against theonomy, seriously?

    I’m at a loss as to what you’re talking about!

    Your passage just shows your misunderstanding of theonomy. We argue for THE STANDING CIVIL CASE LAWS, the above was not a case law.

    The above wasn’t a “moral law” and so it has absolutely nothing to do with the debate.

    ?The above what? Not a case law and not a moral law? I’m talking about case laws to execute false worshipers, idolaters (Deut 13:6-18), blasphemers (Lev 24:10-16), and sabbath-breakers (Num 15:32-36).

    I don’t say that they’re inappropriate right now. Which theonomist says that?

    The honorable Jeff Kazules, Th.onomist. I pasted a quote up in #4

    I do have a problem in that theonomists agree that *those laws* that God gave Israel “expired” with “that body politic.”

    Take it up with WCF.XIX.IV. My problem is that theonomists shoehorn their entire thesis into the subordinate clause of “further than the general equity thereof”.

    I just recognize that man needs revelation. As David said, “In thy light we see light.”

    I recognize that man needs revelation to justly enact and enforce 1st table commandments. So what about the civil magistrate that doesn’t have revelation?

  72. THE FACT THAT GOD JUDGED THE AFOREMENTIONED *GROUPS* OF PEOPLE AS *GROUPS* DEMANDS THAT *THEY* WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LAWS THAT *THEY* BROKE (AS A GROUP).

    Yes. They were responsible for the laws that they broke. Now lean in close to the monitor…

    closer…

    GOD JUDGED THEM. GOD DID NOT ORDAIN CIVIL MAGISTRATES TO PUNISH THEM. He rained hellfire and brimstone, or he sent Israel to annihilate them, or he sent a prophet to warn them, or he sent non-covenant nations to do unwittingly do his bidding.

    That’s one simple point. If you don’t get this ONE point, then it’s no wonder you DON’T (or won’t) get the rest of the argument.

    I’m still waiting for you to explain why, when God demands that a nation be righteous, he would be satisfied with outward, civil righteouness. If that truly pleases God, then maybe we were wrong all along about this justification by faith thing — we can probably get along all right with outward observance of the ten commandments.

  73. Nope. I still don’t think you understand. Let’s not draw any conclusions yet, okay?

    You said:

    Yes. They were responsible for the laws that they broke.

    Let that sink in just a little bit. Now, look back at my quote that you re-quoted. What’s missing? What are you avoiding? What’s the FULL point that I am making? This point is foundational to *one* of my arguments. If you don’t understand it, we’ll continue to talk past each other. I didn’t draw a conclusion in that comment, so return the favor, okay?

    :)

  74. I will agree to returning to stoning people to death, only if Jesus’ instructions are followed right before the sentence is carried out: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

  75. OK, GROUP. Does God have a different standard of righteousness for groups than for individuals? All of a sudden he’s ok with outward righteousness? Was Jesus pleased by GROUPS of whitewashed tombs?

  76. post #71, Ruben,

    I’m at a loss as to what you’re talking about!

    Well, I can have a Theonomy 101 class up at my house, coupled with an Intro to Logic course? ;-)

    The above what? Not a case law and not a moral law? I’m talking about case laws to execute false worshipers, idolaters (Deut 13:6-18), blasphemers (Lev 24:10-16), and sabbath-breakers (Num 15:32-36).

    I talked about moral relativism.

    I’m talking about theonomy.

    You cited a passage which has no bearing whatsoever on the theonomic debate.

    You referred me to a passage where God gives specific commands to Israel. But those were not case laws. There’s a difference.

    Take it up with WCF.XIX.IV. My problem is that theonomists shoehorn their entire thesis into the subordinate clause of “further than the general equity thereof”.

    I cited exactly what the confession said. Section 19.4 says “expired with that body politic” and section 19.3 says *abrogated* in regards to the cerimonial law.

    At any rate, I don’t know what your non-docummented, generalized, and ambiguous statement about theonomists shoehorning their entire thesis.

    I’m still at a loss as to what your arguments are against theonomy. You mentioned some above, but I responded to those and you’ve not responded to my responses.

    I recognize that man needs revelation to justly enact and enforce 1st table commandments. So what about the civil magistrate that doesn’t have revelation?

    Well, not just the 1st table. For example, is the punishment for theft “written on mens hearts?” How about the various punishments for manslaughter?

    So what about the civil magistrate that doesn’t have special revelation? Well, what about the philosophers who don;t have special revelation? they’re lost in epistemological darkness.

    What about families that don’t have special revelation to tell them how to guide their familes?

    What about education? Should we turn to special revelation to teach us how to educate our children? She we use it to educate our children? Or, maybe math is “neutral?”

    Oh, maybe in all these other areas we turn to Scripture to guide us. The sure rock, amongst the ruinous sands of human opinion. Yes, in all these areas we see what Scripture says. Us reformed folk know too well the noetic effects of sin, and the futile attempts of the rationalists. We won;t be like those who built the tower of Babel, bulding an intellectual tower up to God, thinking we’re sufficient to govern ourselves. No, that was the mistake in the garden. hath God said? Yes, us reformed folk recognize that the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the Lord… except in the political realm!!

    So, what about the civil magistrate that doesn’t have God’s revelation for civil magistrate? They’ll sink, not being founded upon the rock. They’ll be judged for their unjust laws and punishments. Making punishments that are either more or less than God requires is immoral. The civil magistrate, just like the apologist, philosopher, mathemetician, cosmologist, etc., all need to turn to Scripture.

    Post #74, Albino,

    I will agree to returning to stoning people to death, only if Jesus’ instructions are followed right before the sentence is carried out: “Let him without sin cast the first stone.”

    Wow, so we must be completely sinless to punish anyone? Guess we should do away with government all together, huh? Now, is *that* really what Jesus was saying?

    If this woman was caught in the very act (v.3), where are the witnesses? Where is the man that she transgressed with? (Leviticus 20:10) Jesus challenged the legitimacy of the accusation by demanding that the witnesses come forward to cast the first stone. Since God’s Law is orderly and not subject to the whims of the people or a mob, Jesus was reminding them that there are proper procedures that must be followed in order for her to have a fair trial. In other words, since there were no witnesses, the charge was inadmissible.

    Got any more soft balls we can knock out of the park? :-P

    Post #75, Ruben,

    OK, GROUP. Does God have a different standard of righteousness for groups than for individuals? All of a sudden he’s ok with outward righteousness? Was Jesus pleased by GROUPS of whitewashed tombs?

    God is not a respecter of persons.

    He’s not okay with outward righteousness. But that statement shows me all the more you’re not even talking on the level we are.

    Of course God isn’t pleased with white washed tombs. But there’s still a civil law.

    I mean, a non-Christian who never murders someone doesn’t get punished by society, but God will still punish him on the last day.

    You’re confusing things here. You agree that there should be a law, right? Well, so do we. You agree that crimes should be punished, right? Well so do we. Now, I’ll put up my theory – which just so happens to be revealed by a just and holy God, who always punishes the crime with the exact penalty it deserves; eye for an eye, no more, no less – against your theory any day. We both agree that there should be civil laws, and civil punishments. Now, I know what my answer is to the questions. Do you know what yours is? Maybe 100 years in jail for theft is moral? No? Maybe 1 day? No? Why/ Where’s your standard? Is the punishment for theft written on the heart? What about second degree murder? What about beastiality? Where do you get the idea that that’s wrong.

    I have answers, do you?

  77. Ruben wrote:

    GOD JUDGED THEM. GOD DID NOT ORDAIN CIVIL MAGISTRATES TO PUNISH THEM. He rained hellfire and brimstone, or he sent Israel to annihilate them, or he sent a prophet to warn them, or he sent non-covenant nations to do unwittingly do his bidding.

    I’ve been trying to write this out formally so I could see the argument. Here’s what I have so far:

    P1. God immediately/directly punished heathen nations for their sin.

    BIG GIANT GAPING HOLE I COULD DRIVE A SEMI TRUCK THROUGH

    _______________

    C1. Therefore, the nations are not required to execute the standing civil case laws of the OT

    Okay, see that big hole in the middle where I could drive a truck through? Well, that’s where what they call “the argument” goes.

    :-P

    Please forgive me, it’s late and I’m a little bit crazy tonight. All if brotherly fun, I hope?

  78. we turn to Scripture to guide us

    Yes we do, but they don’t. And even if they did, they wouldn’t understand it enough to justly administer it.

    Maybe 100 years in jail for theft is moral? No? Maybe 1 day? No?

    If you were a good theonomist, you would not be talking about jail at all, but restitution.

    He’s not okay with outward righteousness.

    Great. So let’s quit proposing civil, outward regulations as a solution for verses in which God requires nations to be righteous.

  79. P1. God immediately/directly punished heathen nations for their sin.
    C1. Therefore, the nations are not required to execute the standing civil case laws of the OT

    That is not the conclusion I am drawing. Here is the conclusion I am drawing:

    Therefore any example using heathen nations does not demonstrate an alleged desire on God’s part for heathen nations to regulate outward 1st table offenses with civil laws.

    So if you want to demonstrate convincingly, find some other scriptures to argue from already!

  80. If this woman was caught in the very act (v.3), where are the witnesses? Where is the man that she transgressed with? (Leviticus 20:10) Jesus challenged the legitimacy of the accusation by demanding that the witnesses come forward to cast the first stone. Since God’s Law is orderly and not subject to the whims of the people or a mob, Jesus was reminding them that there are proper procedures that must be followed in order for her to have a fair trial. In other words, since there were no witnesses, the charge was inadmissible.

    Wacky, I don’t agree with your assessment of the “woman caught in adultery”. In fact, I think you got it totally backwards. They were the witnesses since they “caught her in the act” (pretty sick puppies, when you think about it). Jesus saw through their charade, and confronted them with their own sin. They simply left, oldest to youngest (usual order of stoning), convicted by their own hearts. I don’t see Jesus getting this woman free “on a technicality” here.
    I think this story does fly in the face of theonomous thought, because Jesus clearly isn’t into killing this woman for adultery. Your “legal loophole” theory is weak.

  81. Rube,

    Okay, next question. Still the same point, but I’m tired of talking past one another. So far you admit agreement on the premise to a point. Here’s the rest of the way:

    Since this *GROUP* of people (as a group) had the responsibility to obey God’s laws, did they *KNOW* about this or not? In other words, was God *JUST* for punishing them for breaking His laws?

    (BTW, Jerusalem was Judged by God because they crucified the Son of God murderously, NOT because they outwardly obeyed but inwardly disobeyed. Are we lacking in a little intellectual honesty here? Or do you seriously think that argument is cogent?)

    Jeff

  82. Post #78, Ruben,

    Yes we do, but they don’t. And even if they did, they wouldn’t understand it enough to justly administer it.

    I’m still talking about the standard. And, remember my *should* above. And, I highly doubt you could prove that they couldn’t see that the death penalty is required for adultary in some cases, tha it’s wrong to X, etc.

    Anmyway, I think you just admitted that Scripture should be the standard, the light in the darkness, for our socio-politico laws and punishments.

    If you were a good theonomist, you would not be talking about jail at all, but restitution.

    Yes, but *you’re* not a good theonomist, so I’m trying to figure out how you don’t escape my reductions and how your peneology isn’t arbitrary, and immoral.

    Great. So let’s quit proposing civil, outward regulations as a solution for verses in which God requires nations to be righteous.

    Hmmm, he required the nations to not murder, steal, rape, etc., to be righteous, so let’s not punish *at all!*

    I’m just saying that rulers should enforce the civil sanctions for the *civil aspects* of the laws they violate. Pretty simple. And, I’ve argued for this above, no one’s addressed it.

    Post #79, Ruben,

    Therefore any example using heathen nations does not demonstrate an alleged desire on God’s part for heathen nations to regulate outward 1st table offenses with civil laws.

    Oh. Well, for the third time now, the example with heathen nations shows that God held them responsible for the same civil laws He held Israel responsible for.

    Post #80, Albino

    Wacky, I don’t agree with your assessment of the “woman caught in adultery”. In fact, I think you got it totally backwards. They were the witnesses since they “caught her in the act” (pretty sick puppies, when you think about it). Jesus saw through their charade, and confronted them with their own sin. They simply left, oldest to youngest (usual order of stoning), convicted by their own hearts. I don’t see Jesus getting this woman free “on a technicality” here.

    I think this story does fly in the face of theonomous thought, because Jesus clearly isn’t into killing this woman for adultery. Your “legal loophole” theory is weak.

    i) If she was “caught in the act” then where was the husband. Jesus was smarter than the pharisees. They were trying to trap him again.

    ii) Yeah, where where the witnesses?

    iii) Your position would have us not civily punish anyone, since no one is “without sin” in the sense of being perfect. Therefore your understanding suffers a reductio ad absurdum.

    iv) Jewish law said that false accusations got the same punishment as what the accused would have received. Jesus knew that they would falsly accusing her, and so said, “he who is without sin cast the first stone.” He knew full well that they were lying and would also be stoned when they were found out. So, Deut 17:7 tells us that *the accusers* are to “cast the first stone.”

    v) Jesus obeyed the law. If she REALLY WAS guilty, then he would not have “kept the law” to not have the law punish her. I mean, he’s the one who gave the law, afterall.

    vi) They wanted to trap Jesus in another dilemma. between upholding Jewish law and submitting to Roamn law which reserved the sole right to kill people.

    vii) The greek wors used refers to one who did not commit the *particular* sin of adulatery.

    viii) The accusers were either not free from adultary (i.e., they rapped her, or all had sex with her) or they were not witnesses.

    ix) The law demands the cases be legal before they are deprived of their lives.

    x) So, it looks as if Jesus UPHELD the law, which is my thesis.

    xi) Lastly, and unfortunately, this passage is doubtful as to its authenticity. It is omitted by the majority of Greek manuscripts and by the oldest representative of every kind of evidence; witnesses against its authenticity are p66, p75, B, N, O, unicals N and W, and several codicies and early fathers. Several passages in earlier manuscripts which have this passage bear asterisks or obelisks, indicating doubt about the passage by the copiest. The passage is not characteristicly Johannine, and even stichometric information about John’s gospel implies its absence, and hence it’s authority.

    Be that as it may, I showed how it still was *supportive* of my position.

    Have a good one!

  83. Let me add, Ruben, that I gave the argument from the *model* of the nations. I addressed your counter above, it wasn’t responded to. Basically, Jesus is our *model* but that doesn’t mean that in this life we’ll be able to perfectly be like him. That is, one can have a *model* even though one can’t perfectly model the model.

    Basically,

    P1. All nations need to rule by a just civil standard (and the falsity of reletivism shows only one standard can be just).

    P2. God’s revealed civil standards are just.

    C1. Therefore, nations are to rule by God’s just civil standards.

    P3. If a nation rules by just civil standards, they also need a just penological standard so that their punishments are not immoral.

    P4. Nations need to rule by God’s just civil standards (from C1).

    C2. Therefore they need a just penological standard.

    P5. God’s penological standards are just.

    C.3 Therefore, they need God’s revealed penological standards so that their punishments are not immoral.

  84. This is getting nowhere, and I’m losing interest and energy to continue. At the risk of spurring that continuation, however, let’s back way way way way up. I deny that 1st table offenses are civil offenses, and I deny that 1st table offenses are sins against man. (And I affirm that that previous sentence is redundant). In II Chr 19, what are matters of the king administered by judges (which would have continuation in the civil magistrate via common grace), and what are matters of the Lord administered by the priesthood (which would have continuation only in the holy nation of priests, and the Great High Priest)?

  85. […] But don’t worry — you see, you shouldn’t be afraid that Theonomy hopes to spread the gospel by the sword. All they’re talking about is that the state will use the sword to clearcut non-Christians from the public arena, so that all other voices would be “forced into hiding“, and the gospel could be preached freely (but not by the sword). […]

  86. BTW, Jerusalem was Judged by God because they crucified the Son of God murderously, NOT because they outwardly obeyed but inwardly disobeyed.

    Jerusalem was judged because of centuries of violating their Covenant with God, inwardly and outwardly. No other nation has ever had, or ever will have, such a covenant relationship with God. After Jesus was incarnated, sacrificed, and resurrected, the New Covenant was instituted, and God had no further use for an earthly people, and he demonstrated that to the world in grand style in AD 70.

  87. P1. All nations need to rule by a just civil standard (and the falsity of reletivism shows only one standard can be just).

    P2. God’s revealed civil standards are just.

    C1. Therefore, nations are to rule by God’s just civil standards.

    Finally, a clear statement. Something to bite my teeth into. However, I reject P1. on the grounds that the common grace institution of the state has been set up on natural law from day 2 (roughly). This will be the last you hear from me on theonomy.

  88. Notice Rube acknowledges my comment 81 in 86 but doesn’t respond to the question. he only responds to the postscript at the end. He also says elsewhere he’s tired of the discussion while refusing to let even the simplest of points be hammered out. I want to suggest a motive here, but instead I’ll refrain. Theonomy is the necessary logical inference from scriptural premises. You must reject rational thought to reject Theonomy.

    Jeff (from my phone so excuse if not polished)

  89. #87
    That’s an assertion. And it still doesn’t escape relativism. Are the common grace standards to be unjust, then? No? how do you *know* that? What is common grace, anyway? The Reformed community has a multitude of common grace defintions. What makes Kline’s better than anybody else’? Futhermore, if Kline really followed Van Til (see the dedication in Structure of Biblical Authority), then why did he play down the antithesis between covenant breaker and covenant keeper?

    In a common-grace society, how do you punish murder, theft, etc? How do you know your punishment is not too cruel or too lenient? In short, how can you escape the conclusion that your penalogy itself may very well be criminal!

    Btw, I am “draught horse” on Puritanboard.

  90. Wacky sez:

    Therefore, all his pointing to Bible verses that are not standing OT case laws, are actually irrelevant to the discussion of theonomy.

    Exactly. Every passage to do with God judging heathen nations is irrelevant to the discussion of theonomy. Thank you for making the point I’ve been trying to make.

  91. Hey Jacob,

    Also, #87 assumes that the law gave was different. So, he can’t reject P1, unelss he thinks those laws were *different.*

    Furthermore, he’s not going far enough. Since Bruce is reformed why does he not hold to the noetic effects of sin? Why think man’s mind in-and-of-itself, without reveltion, is fine on his its own? Why did Calvin say that “general revelation” needs to be read through the glasses of “special revelation/” And, laslty, you don’t get the disticntions for 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree murder before the law of Moses, therefore Bruce’s position leads him, logically, to execute ALL murderers, despite any disticntions between “manslaughter” “murder” etc.

    Lastly, #90,

    It should be obvious that I meant that as saying that those passages do not determine what the civil magistrtae is supposed to do, i.e., you were trying to draw a reductio but it couldn’t be drawn.

    The moral laws are unchanging, special laws concerning holy war were *specific* and did not apply cross-generation. You’re, like always, confusing so many categories it looks like you’re playing theological twister!

    Okay, now I’ve said my last piece in both the discussions.

    Ruben, it’s your blog, have the last word.

  92. Rube,

    Are you going to respond to #81 above? I seriously would like you to.

    Jeff

  93. I already responded to the back end of #81, so I assume you mean this:

    Since this *GROUP* of people (as a group) had the responsibility to obey God’s laws, did they *KNOW* about this or not? In other words, was God *JUST* for punishing them for breaking His laws?

    No, I don’t think they did necessarily know *as a GROUP* that they had that responsibility. Even at the level of individual responsibility, they suppress the truth of their guilt in unrighteousness. But that has nothing to do with whether God was just for punishing them for breaking His laws. He would have been just for punishing them even if they didn’t break His laws — go read Job.

  94. […] trekking up to Murrieta on Sunday night, Aug. 19, to hear Hoagies & Stogies veteran Gene Cook (Theonomy, Amil/Postmil) argue credobaptism against Paul Manata’s […]

  95. Ok, I think we’ve found the candidate all our theonomous brethren can get behind…yeeehah!!!

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