Ability and Authority

I promised a “major concession“, so here it is.

The (Westminster Confession’s) distinction between ‘duty to God’ and ‘duty to man’ does not justify the exclusion of first-table laws from enforcement by the civil magistrate.

[Secondary concession: Before I continue, let me throw another bone to the Theonomists: Echo, in comments like this:

There can be only one reason for insisting that the law of God be enforced by the civil magistrate. It MUST be the case that you think this will make the people underneath those laws more holy, otherwise there’s no point.

shows that he doesn’t understand the Theonomist’s true position, and also proves too much (as Wacky also notes): asserting that making people more holy is the only possible reason to enforce God’s law precludes the civil magistrate from enforcing any laws at all — even murder. But I think it is pretty clear that the reason to enforce “Thou shall not murder”, is not to make people more holy, but to make people less dead. Sidebar over]

Back to the point, I now realize that there is no clear-cut distinction between the two tables wrt sins against man and sins against God. Everybody agreed beforehand that second table sins are against both God and man, and first table sins are against God. And previously I denied that first table sins were sins against man. But consider this Wacky little counterexample:

Let’s say someone at your church sought to try to get you to believe heresy. If you did, you’d be out of the covenant community, and on your way to hell. Now, how is that not a sin against you?

Touche. Finally, somebody was able to convince me that first table sins are potentially sins against man — and it only took two sentences! I think what made it click for me was putting it in the context of the church. Myself, I don’t feel threatened or sinned against by Mormons or JWs or Hare Krishnas, but seduction to heresy from within the church is quite obviously a sin against one’s covenant neighbor.

It so happens the New Testament is quite clear on how to handle one that does this: “let him be accursed.” As Calvin comments,

This word, which we render accursed , doth not signify ‘accursed or condemned of God to the punishments of another world.’ This the Apostle would not wish to the worst of men. The meaning is, ‘Let him be as a person excommunicated, or wholly cut off from the synagogue, or church, with whom it is unlawful to have any commerce or correspondence whatever.’

Later in Galatians, Paul repeats his condemnation with a pun:

O that even they would cut themselves off who are unsettling you!

(The pun uses the Mosaic catchphrase “cut off” from Israel to describe what the circumcisers should do to themselves).

So it’s clear that covenant members who commit this first table sin against their neighbor, are to be expelled from the covenant. But what about those outside? In 1 Cor 5, Paul echoes another Mosaic catchphrase (“Purge the evil person from among you“). This is in the immediate context of juxtaposing the church’s responsibility to excommunicate sinning brethren, against the inevitability of rubbing shoulders with sinners (both tables) out in the world. Key verse:

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.

In other words, “Civil Magistrate, you’re on your own.” (I won’t go into that all over again, because I’m happy with how I treated it last time).

Which brings me to my new understanding of jurisdiction wrt God’s law. Theonomists & non- both agree that the civil magistrate is not to regulate sins of the heart, but only outward sins. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. Obviously,

If man is not able to see sin X, man is not able to judge sin X (~P=>~Q)

It is beyond this point that Theonomists commit the logical fallacy of confusing the contrapositive (valid deduction) with the converse (invalid deduction). It is logically correct to conclude that

If man is able to judge sin X, then man is able to see sin X (Q=>P),

but foundational to the Theonomist’s system is the logically incorrect conclusion

If man is able to see sin X, man is able to judge sin X (P=>Q)

So, bringing me all the way back to my concession, the true distinction between what part of God’s law lies within man’s jurisdiction, and what part is reserved only to God, it’s not duty to man vs. God, and it’s not even sins of the hand vs. heart. The critical distinction lies with the reason behind heart-sins being judged only God: man is unable to judge heart sins. Obviously, man is well able to judge many outward sins. Even an unregenerate man can determine, from the testimony of witnesses (and the testimony of mute witnesses like forensic crime scene evidence, written documentation, etc.) whether one man murdered another man, or slept with a woman not his wife, or stole another man’s property.

But unregenerate man is unable to discern between true worship and false worship; unable to discern the distinctions between blasphemy, heresy, and mere theological disagreement. That’s why the responsibility for “all matters of the Lord” were given to the priesthood, and “all the king’s matters” put under a Judge (2 Chr 19:11). That was yesterday. Today “matters of the Lord” are still reserved for the nation of priests (who are not given the physical sword), and tomorrow for the Great High Priest to pronounce eternal judgment Himself.

God gave only his priests the ability to judge in “all matters of the Lord” (his regenerating Holy Spirit enables that judgment) but in the New Covenant, he did not give his priests the authority to judge with the sword. On the other hand, God gave the authority of the  sword to all men to regulate themselves civilly, and in his common grace he gave all men the ability to judge a subset of sins (which subset has a large correlation with outward sins against neighbor, which is why I was previously confused), but he did not give them the ability (and therefore not the right or jurisdiction) to judge all outward sins. To sum up (in Jon Stewart a la George Dubya Bush style) when it comes to “matters of the Lord” in the New Covenant, Priests — ability, no sword! Heathen — sword, no ability!

Thus the only possible way to enforce 1st table sanctions like they did in Israel, is to get the people with the ability into the role that has the authority. The problem then becomes, if a Christian is made a judge, he doesn’t get to enforce a new set of laws that he deems just; he has to enforce the laws already on the books. And getting new laws on the books, which have the just Christian standards required, would require codifying Christianity into earthly, civil law. Enacting such laws at all violates the borderless, not-of-this-earth nature of the one and only holy nation of Christ. Enacting and enforcing such laws justly violates I Cor 5:12-13, because it requires the judgment of the Church.

So in conclusion, I reissue a challenge to Theonomists (I can’t find any originals around the blog, but they might be from other email or conversational contexts):

Draft a civil death-penalty law against subversion to false worship which is not specifically Christian.

Go ahead, there should be no reason consistent Theonomists shouldn’t hold a convention to draft this law right now, and work the initiative process to get it enacted ASAP. You shouldn’t have to worry about constitutionality — I’m sure you’ll be able to convince the voting public that your law is not “Christian”, but “just just”:

Having a government that reflects these requirements would not force society into being ‘Christian,’ just just (figured I’d leave the pun) or righteous.

It is true that today, it is the Christian church that God has ordained to handle His special oracles. Still, what I say above stands. There is nothing so specific in the laws God requires of the state the would make the state look so specifically Christian. The state would look just as “Jewish” or just plain old “righteous” even though it is the Christian church now informing the state.

(Before you just cut&paste the 1st commandment and say that, once society is Christianized enough, we will be able to require that only Christians be judges — know that you are pre-emptively disqualified for cheating, since such a requirement itself would codify Christianity specifically into the law.)

Once you realize that false worship cannot be meaningfully or usefully defined without codifying true worship into the law (thus making the law, and the nation, specifically Christian), maybe you will stop pussyfooting around the fact that what you really want is an earthly Christian nation, and stop equivocating (here, and a few subsequent comments) about what it means for the state to judge God’s laws independently from the church.

Just man up (like Ron has) that what theonomy is talking about is not church/state separation, but church-over-state hierarchy, and then our discussion will finally end.

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46 Responses

  1. So in conclusion, I reissue a challenge to Theonomists (I can’t find any originals around the blog, but they might be from other email or conversational contexts):

    Draft a civil death-penalty law against subversion to false worship which is not specifically Christian.

    Hey Ruben,

    I have to go to work so I’ll respond in full later, I just wanted to comment on the above:

    You know what I was reminded above when I read that ad hominem argument? The pro-choicers always tell me, “well if you really care about the life of children then why aren’t you adopting children? If there were more adoptions maybe people wouldn’t be killing children.”

    Anyway, I thought it was interesting.

    See you later.

    ~Wacky

  2. Not sure which hominem you think I’m arguing ad, but frankly, I think the abortionists have a point. Mad props to Ron for putting all of our pro-life beliefs into action for us.

  3. Rube,

    Can you please:

    Draft a civil death-penalty law against murder which is not specifically Christian and yet is not also arbitrary?

    Jeff (during a very quick break)

  4. Can you please:

    Draft a civil death-penalty law against murder which is not specifically Christian and yet is not also arbitrary?

    Dodge. This isn’t a response to RubeRad’s question, as it switches gears to a second-table offense.

  5. No, the answer he gives will go toward the Theonomists answer. Not a dodge. Not a trick. A real question that I believe to be relevant.

    :)

  6. Dodge. This isn’t a response to RubeRad’s question, as it switches gears to a second-table offense.

    It is a response, just not one you want. Jeff’s request (And Ruben’s inability to fill it) proves that Ruben is arbitrarily deciphering the jurisdiction of the state.

    Anyway, Ruben’s request asserts at least 2 false premises:

    First False Premise: A Law can be non-Christian and still just.

    This premise is false because Christ defines justice and is bringing it to the nations. (Is 42, 51; Jer 4; Matt 12) Therefore Christian laws are just and non-Christian laws are unjust.

    Second False Premise: Civil laws that are Christian and are enforced justly violate apostolic instruction in I Cor 5:12-13.

    This Premise is false because it is internally contradictive. If apostolic instruction is just (I believe this can be safely asserted here), then violating that instruction is unjust. Therefore Ruben’s statement can be accurately reworded to say, “Enacting and enforcing such [Christian] laws justly is unjust.”

  7. Can you please:
    Draft a civil death-penalty law against murder which is not specifically Christian and yet is not also arbitrary?

    The text of a law does not contain the justification for the law. Laws must be enforceable whether the agents of the law know, understand, or agree with the justification. The law itself includes definitions of how to recognize the crime, and sanctions to apply when the crime has been judged to happened. So here goes: “Murder is the killing of any person, except for self-defense, just war, or executions with due process. Murderers shall be executed by the state, after due process.”

    In common grace, men can get together and agree to enact and enforce laws against murder, regardless of the fact that some believe correctly that man bears the image of God, and some believe merely that murder makes people unhappy. The policeman and the judge and the executioner don’t need to know why murder is wrong; they only have to know what it is, and what to do when they find it.

    As a matter of fact, the police, judge, and executioner don’t even have to know whether murder is wrong — they only need to know that it is illegal. It is the job of the legislators to define what is illegal. And yes, legislators rely on their understanding of the justification behind a law (and the extent that civil government derives its authority from its people, will largely determine whether correct justification is used). But when the law as written needs to spell out definitions and responses that can be justly administered. The final product of the legislative process, the law itself, is arbitrary. Regardless of the justification used by legislators to compose a law, in the end the text of the law stands alone, and the law is either just, or it is not just. (And at least one component of whether a law is just has to do with whether the law can possibly be justly administered.)

    So I grant you, justification plays a role. But we live in a republic. You, and all your theonomist friends, are low-level legislators. You’ve got justification for laws which is better than anybody else’s. So get to work and write the laws and work to get them enacted!

    So I’m still waiting for you to provide a set of definitions and responses that enable police, judge, and executioner to justly administer commandment I.

  8. “Enacting and enforcing such [Christian] laws justly is unjust.”

    Yes, but it makes more sense with air-quotes:

    Enacting and enforcing such Christian laws ‘justly’ is unjust in that just administration requires the Church to violate the apostolic commandment.

    Enacting and enforcing such Christian laws ‘justly’ is unjust in that just administration requires the Church to sinfully assume the jurisdiction that God has reserved for himself.

    How just is it for one of your sons to spank another one? Sure the bad son might well deserve the spanking, and so from his perspective, he received justice. But from your perspective, your other son overstepped his authority, and unjustly assumed your sole right to discipline your children.

    I’ll just fill in your retort for you: “but I did not delegate that authority to my son, and God did delegate that authority to…” To who? His sons? 1 Cor 5 tells the church not to judge outsiders. To the unregenerate civil magistrate? Would you delegate to a retarded son the authority to discipline his (retarded and enlightened) brothers? Would you delegate authority to choose matching church clothes to a son that was color-blind?

    As Jeff is fond of reiterating, Calvinists should understand that ability is not the same as responsibility. Amen! Just because the Church has been given the ability to judge, does not mean that they also have been given the responsibility.

    Gotta go grill some cheez for the boyz…

  9. I don’t know what to do.

    As I said numerous times before, I can’t spend all my time doing this (note: Echo, if you’re reading this, my desire is to *stop* talking about theonomy. I would not do that with something I was “obessed” with. ot, if it were my “pet doctrine.” So, if someone denied particular redemption, or Calvinsim, then I might spend some more time).

    I really should just not make a comment because then I know, even if I say I’m done, I’ll probably respond to the bad responses. ;-)

    When I take on a job I like to see it through.

    Hence my dilemma.

    I know my response won’t convince anyone, and this thread will become another 50-100 comments filled combox.

    Anyway, I know I promised a “fuller” response, but I can’t do it. I’ll make a few comments and, hopefully, end it at that.

    Myself, I don’t feel threatened or sinned against by Mormons or JWs or Hare Krishnas, but seduction to heresy from within the church is quite obviously a sin against one’s covenant neighbor.

    I’m glad you’re not threatened by those religions. Some people are, though. And, I might add that methedological naturalism is a religion as well. Maybe that would suite your intellect more than, say, Mormonism would.

    So, the example clicked because that’s where you’re at. It would click just as easy for someone whose entire family was Mormon and they felt the pressure to join Mormonism.

    II. I’d now like to talk about your examples of how the church punishes those things. Good job pointing out that the church excommunicates people who spread heresy within a church.

    But, we’re not talking about that, are we? What can the Church do to the Mormons? Nadda.

    Furthermore, as I’ve proven, there were *civil* aspects of this law in the OT. I’m arguing for their continuity. I assume continuity. I didn’t see ONE REASON where your post spoke to the abrogation of the *civil* aspects of that law.

    The OT church would not allow unbelievers to partake of the passover, or other covenant fellowship. So, we see the continuity there, but what about *civilly?*

    You’re still confusing categories, Ruben. You’ve not even got into the debate yet.

    Illustrating (II), you write:

    For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.

    Classic case of confusing categories.

    And, how does God judge them? The civil magistrate. What standard does the magistrate rule by? God’s revealed law. We’ve been over this 1,000 times.

    If man is able to see sin X, man is able to judge sin X (P=>Q)

    Hmmm, why would you think theonomists think such a thing?

    I’m able to see someone lusting over a playboy playmate. Does the magistrate judge that?

    Even an unregenerate man can determine, from the testimony of witnesses (and the testimony of mute witnesses like forensic crime scene evidence, written documentation, etc.) whether one man murdered another man, or slept with a woman not his wife, or stole another man’s property.

    But unregenerate man is unable to discern between true worship and false worship; unable to discern the distinctions between blasphemy, heresy, and mere theological disagreement.

    I know you like those two sentence (or less) refutations, so here you go.

    Begin Devistating Rebuttal*****

    For your argument to work you’d have to prove that all the civil judges in OT Israel WERE REGENERATE. If you can’t (and I think we know that’s false), then you MUST, by logic and Scripture, say that your claim that “unregenerate man is unable to discern between true worship and false worship; unable to discern the distinctions between blasphemy, heresy, and mere theological disagreement,” is false.

    End Devistating Rebuttal*******

    maybe you will stop pussyfooting around the fact that what you really want is an earthly Christian nation

    As soon as you stop pussyfooting around about you wanting an anti-Christain nation.

    There is no neutrality. As Jesus said, “he who is not with me is against me.” And, Jesus assumes the abiding validity of the law in Matt. 5.

    Just man up (like Ron has) that what theonomy is talking about is not church/state separation, but church-over-state hierarchy, and then our discussion will finally end.

    Well if Ron said that then I disagree with him.

    I want a Bible-over-church-and-state hierarchy. As David says, “In thy light we see light.” I hold to the Reformed emphasis on special revelation. I hold to the Reformed emphasis of the noetic effects of sin.

    hoping I’m done,

    ~Wacky

  10. For your argument to work you’d have to prove that all the civil judges in OT Israel WERE REGENERATE.

    Only if I asserted that all civil judges in OT Israel were JUST civil judges.
    Israel was a Covenant community, all of its members were expected to be regenerate (I mean from our perspective — I doubt “regenerate” was part of their working vocabulary (although I’d be pleased to be pointed to scriptures about this)). And certainly non-Covenant members would (should) have never been considered for judgeship (civil or ecclesiastical).

    And yes there were plenty of unregenerate civil judges in OT Israel, and guess what — they were unjust in their application of God’s Law!

    And, how does God judge them? The civil magistrate. What standard does the magistrate rule by? God’s revealed law.

    Your assertion that the civil magistrate rules by the standard of God’s revealed law begs the question yet again. The civil magistrate rules by the standard of God’s naturally revealed law, and theonomic justice according to the standard of God’s specially revealed law requires the judgment of the Church. Which is forbidden by Paul. Still waiting for an explanation for this one — in the form of a 1st commandment law that can be justly administered without requiring the codification of Christianity into civil law.

  11. Rube,

    Why doesn’t the following work given your premises and worldview? I just barely edited your law for murder. This is NOT what my answer really is, but I’m still trying to understand your view. I’m not trying to banter, play, be disengenuous, etc.

    The text of a law does not contain the justification for the law. Laws must be enforceable whether the agents of the law know, understand, or agree with the justification. The law itself includes definitions of how to recognize the crime, and sanctions to apply when the crime has been judged to happened. So here goes: “Satanic proselytizing is the attempt of an individual or group of individuals to verbally induce a person or people to convert to satanism. Satanic proselytizing shall be executed by the state, after due process.”

    In common grace, men can get together and agree to enact and enforce laws against satanic proselytizing, regardless of the fact that some believe correctly that satanic proselytizing is false worship, and some believe merely that satanic proselytizing makes people unhappy. The policeman and the judge and the executioner don’t need to know why satanic proselytizing is wrong; they only have to know what it is, and what to do when they find it.

    As a matter of fact, the police, judge, and executioner don’t even have to know whether satanic proselytizing is wrong — they only need to know that it is illegal. It is the job of the legislators to define what is illegal. And yes, legislators rely on their understanding of the justification behind a law (and the extent that civil government derives its authority from its god, will largely determine whether correct justification is used). But the law as written needs to spell out definitions and responses that can be justly administered. The final product of the legislative process, the law itself, is arbitrary. Regardless of the justification used by legislators to compose a law, in the end the text of the law stands alone, and the law is either just, or it is not just. (And at least one component of whether a law is just has to do with whether the law can possibly be justly administered.)

    So I grant you, justification plays a role. But we live in a republic. You, and all your anti-theonomist friends, are low-level legislators. You’ve got justification for laws which is better than anybody else’s. So get to work and write the laws and work to get them enacted!

    I can see based on your answer that you gave me in #7 above that we already have a disagreement by what we mean by “a law that is not specifically Christian.” I really need to understand better what you mean by that in order to give you a real answer. To me, I would have taken that if the foundation is Christian, then the law is Christian. Seems like you’re not saying that. So, what are you saying?

    Sincerely,

    Jeff

  12. Only if I asserted that all civil judges in OT Israel were JUST civil judges.

    No, here’s what you said,

    But unregenerate man is unable to discern between true worship and false worship; unable to discern the distinctions between blasphemy, heresy, and mere theological disagreement.

    So, you’re saying that unregenerates are not even able to enforce/apply first table laws.

    Formally: No unregenerate men are men who can properly apply 1st table laws to society.

    That’s what you said. Not me. You.

    My response was that this is factually wrong given that we know that some unregenerate magistrates correctly enforeced/applied first table laws.

    How do we know they were “just?” Because it was *God’s* law. God’s law is just. X was just. I don’t know what it means to say that the *judges* were not just??? The *law* was just. If the judge enforces *the law* he’s enforcing justice.

    My point was an obvious refutation of your view. In fact, it was such a clear refutation, that I’m not sure how else to put it. Like Wittgenstein said about people who get to this point: “All you can do is point your finger at the other man and cry ‘heretic.'”

    And yes there were plenty of unregenerate civil judges in OT Israel, and guess what — they were unjust in their application of God’s Law!

    Yes but now we’re equivocating. I’m not talking about just *judges,* I’m talking about just *laws.* Theonomy asks what *laws* should the civil magistrate enforce.

    Look, check out the supreme court’s decision to allow Roe v. Wade. The *judges* were unjust. That doesn’t make the law against murder an unjust law, though.

    Your assertion that the civil magistrate rules by the standard of God’s revealed law begs the question yet again.

    No, because I’ve argued fro this premise at length in the previous thread.

    The civil magistrate rules by the standard of God’s naturally revealed law,

    i. Didn’t I just read something about assertions?

    ii. I don’t even know what *you mean* by “naturally revealed law.”

    iii. What, precisely, is this law? Lay out the details. Is 2nd and 3rd degree murder given in this law? What about penalogy? What does this law say is the punishment for 2nd degree murder, adultary, beastiality, etc., etc., etc. How do you come to know this law, epistemologically. What happens when two people disagree? Do any of these laws differ than Scripture? How about taxes? Is out governments tax system “just?” If not, is there a just tax code given in nature?

    iv. Where does the Bible teach that “civil magistrate” is only supposed to rule according to “naturally revealed law?”

    v. Where’s your basis for saying that unregernate men will accept and apply correctly *any* of God’s laws? “Natural law” is still *God’s* law. And, unregenerate men hate God.

    vi. If there is no hope that a pluralistic society will ever accept the standard of biblical law, what basis is there to hope that such a humanistic culture will ever come to a true and common understanding on what constitutes natural law?

    vii. In 1884 William Symington wrote:

    It is the duty of nations, as the subjects of Christ, to take his law as their rule. They are apt to think it enough that they take, as their standard of legislation and administration, human reason, natural conscience, public opinion, or political expediency. None of these, however, nor indeed all of them together, can supply a sufficient guide in affairs of state. Of course, heathen nations, who are not in possession of the revealed will of God, must be regulated by the law of nature: but this is no good reason why those who have a revelation of the divine will should be restricted to the use of a more imperfect rule. It is absurd to contend that, because civil society is founded in nature, men are to be guided, in directing its affairs and consulting its interests, solely by the light of nature…The truth is, that revelation is given to man to supply the imperfections of nature; and to restrict ourselves to the latter, and renounce the former, in any case in which it is competent to guide us, is at once to condemn God’s gift and to defeat the end for which it was given. We contend, then, that the Bible is to be our rule, not only in matters of a purely religious nature, in matters connected with conscience and the worship of God, but in matters of a civil and political nature. To say that in such matters we have nothing to do with the Bible, is to maintain what is manifestly untenable. To require nations, who possess the sacred volume, to confine themselves, in their political affairs, to the dim light of nature, is not more absurd than it would be to require men, when the sun is in the heavens, to shut out its full blaze and go about their ordinary duties by the feeble rays of a taper. Indeed, if nations are moral subjects, they are bound to regulate their conduct by whatever laws their moral Governor has been pleased to give them; and as they are the subjects of the Mediator, they must be under the law of the Mediator contained in the Scriptures. He has not placed his moral subjects in ignorance of his will, nor left them to search for it amid the obscurities and imperfections of a law which sin has effaced and well nigh obliterated. In the Holy Scriptures of truth, he has given them a fairer and more complete exhibition of the principles of immutable and eternal justice, than that which is to be found in the law of nature.

    viii. Is “kidnapping” wrong? prove it from ‘natural revelation.’

    ix. What about “tripping blind men” (Lev.19:14)? Does ‘natural law’ reveal that that’s wrong?

    x. I’ll give the tougher arguments later.

    and theonomic justice according to the standard of God’s specially revealed law requires the judgment of the Church.

    i. ‘nother assertion?

    ii. It didn’t in OT Israel, I don’t see why it would today.

    iii. It’s so interesting that the *same* strategy I use against credobaptsits is working here. I use Calvin’s maxum: “What can the anti-paedobaptist bring against us that could not have been brought against Moses?” Stated another way, your arguments would be arguments against OT Israel.

    a) You say unbeliever would have to go into hiding – but they didn’t in OT Israel.

    b) You say that only regenerate men could enforce/apply these civil laws – but that wasn’t the case in OT Israel (as an aside: what’s wrong with having regernate Christains as civil magisrates?).

    c) That civil justice would be in the hands of the church – it wasn’t in OT Israel.

    d) ad infinitum.

    Still waiting for an explanation for this one — in the form of a 1st commandment law that can be justly administered without requiring the codification of Christianity into civil law.

    i. God administered it in OT Israel against non-Israelites and it was “just” back then.

    ii. I guess you need to prove that enforcing the moral civil crimes in the OT was “unjust.” If they were “just” then they’re just today. Point (ii) is proved by the falsity of moral relativism. Indeed, the laws reflected God’s *unchanging* holy character.

    iii. Without Christianity there is *no basis* for *any* law. So, you’re already “codifying Christainity into civil law.”

    It was the pre-incarnate *Christ* who revealed that murder is wrong. Indeed, those laws reflect the christian God’s holy character. Therefore, you have the same problem I do.

    hope that helped,

    ~Waky

  13. To me, I would have taken that if the foundation is Christian, then the law is Christian. Seems like you’re not saying that. So, what are you saying?

    If I give you the finished text of a law, without explaining the justification behind it, can you tell if the foundation was Christian or not? My first draft of this post used the phrase “explicitly Christian”, but I changed it to “specifically Christian” because it is a quote from you , so I figured you’d know what you were talking about.

    What I mean is that the law would eventually have to say something to the effect of “Believing in the bible”, but even that’s not enough, because Mormons & JW’s would claim they believe the bible, so it would have to be something like “Believing in the bible, being trinitarian, holding to justification by faith alone, … People who subvert people to any other religion which does not meet those criteria are guilty”.

    Nice try on the Satanist law. But I would contend that since that law ignores Muslims & Jews & Mormons & JWs & Moonies & Bahai & Unitarians & Universalists & …, the law is not just in that it lets them off the hook. So you would need parallel laws for all possible false religions, and even if it were possible to enumerate all false religions, what do you do about sub-cults that spring off? It turns out there are very many offshoots of Mormonism, which would try to declare themselves as “not Mormon”. And what about when brand new heresies arise, like this crackpot? And what is a religion, anyways? What if the Masons went door to door? And where is the line drawn between proselytizing and private worship? A public building with open services? Invitation-only services in a private home? Public advertisements saying “We’re not going to try to convince you to be one of us (since we don’t want to die), but for public transparency, here is our statement of faith. If you’re interested, you come and ask us.”?

    If you do manage to get a complete list of all possible false religions that deserve death if they proselytize, and manage to keep it up to date, is that not logically equivalent to a law that merely says “Anybody who attempts to proselytize for a religion which is not orthodox Christianity must die”? And if it’s logically equivalent, (a) isn’t Christianity then implicitly, but specifically codified into law, and (b) who are you fooling? Why not just write the simpler law?

    No unregenerate men are men who can properly apply 1st table laws to society.

    Yes. This is as obviously true as “no unregenerate men are men who can obey God”

    My response was that this is factually wrong given that we know that some unregenerate magistrates correctly enforeced/applied first table laws.

    Who? Does the bible say somewhere “X was an unfaithful member of the Israelite covenant, but he sure knew how to justly enforce/apply God’s law!”

    Yes but now we’re equivocating. I’m not talking about just *judges,* I’m talking about just *laws.* Theonomy asks what *laws* should the civil magistrate enforce.

    So let me get more specific to eliminate the equivocation. Laws on their own may be just. But justice is not served if just laws are administered incorrectly — this is unjust, but it’s not the law’s fault. Now if a law itself is just, but the men authorized to enforce it are not able to justly enforce it, then enacting that law would be unjust, because it would result in incorrect, unjust application.

    All of God’s laws are just. Here’s a law: “The wages of sin is death”. Even though that law is just, it would not be just to enact it in the civil or ecclesiastical sphere. All of the civil laws that God gave through Moses were just within the context of God’s Old Covenant chosen people. Some of the laws God gave through Moses are also just in common grace contexts. For 1st table civil laws that God gave through Moses, it would not be just to enact them in the context of any extra-covenantal civil sphere, because the civil magistrate was not given the ability by God to properly administrate them.

    As for your examples, yes kidnapping and tripping blind men are obviously wrong. Ask even any atheist, and they’ll agree they are wrong (even though Derek Sansone might masquerade his condemnation with insane rationalization “At this time, and based on my preconditions and environmental factors, I don’t choose to participate in those activities”)

    You say unbeliever would have to go into hiding – but they didn’t in OT Israel.

    Ron & Jeff agree that Mormon “churches” should be shut down, so that Mormons can worship only privately, not publicly. That’s what I mean by go into hiding.

    what’s wrong with having regernate Christains as civil magisrates?

    Let’s get plenty of regenerate Christians as civil magistrates, amen! With the regenerating and sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, they would be more justly able to apply the laws. What’s wrong is REQUIRING that ONLY regenerate Christians be civil magistrates (so that the civil magistrate can justly administrate 1st table laws). If that requirement is codified into law, who other than the church is going to draw the line between Christian and non-Christian? It’s the same problem as 1st commandment laws having to divide seduction to false worship from fulfillment of the great comission by true worshippers.

    civil justice would be in the hands of the church – it wasn’t in OT Israel.

    ?? Church = New Israel Israel = Old Church. What are you talking about?

  14. BTW, Wakster, since I answered you about kidnapping and tripping blind people and natural revelation, how about some questions for you and special revelation. Is pornography wrong? How about a grown man marrying (and consummating with) a 5-year old girl? How about dealing drugs? What does Moses have to say about lesbian sex?

  15. Rube:

    Jeff Said:

    To me, I would have taken that if the foundation is Christian, then the law is Christian. Seems like you’re not saying that. So, what are you saying?

    Rube Said:

    If I give you the finished text of a law, without explaining the justification behind it, can you tell if the foundation was Christian or not? My first draft of this post used the phrase “explicitly Christian”, but I changed it to “specifically Christian” because it is a quote from you , so I figured you’d know what you were talking about.

    Well, since ‘I’ know what ‘I’ mean by that, then now I have something to go on. However, you take it to mean something different than I do. My Satanist law does work, as you point out. Yes, you would need one for all types, but it ‘does’ meet your own requirement. No? Either way, I wasn’t serious. That was to show you that within your very own argument, it could be done.

    Here is the full context of my quote where I mentioned “specifically Christian:”

    So, before Christ, was God’s law Christian? Before Moses? Before Abraham? Noah?

    The universal standard of right and wrong, just and unjust, has been in existence since existence began. There are many things in ‘Christianity’ that does not belong to a state. Murder is wrong because God says it is wrong, NOT because it is Christian. In the same sense, government must obey and enforce the laws God requires of states because He requires them and NOT because it is the ‘Christian’ thing to do. Having a government that reflects these requirements would not force society into being ‘Christian,’ just just (figured I’d leave the pun) or righteous.

    It is true that today, it is the Christian church that God has ordained to handle His special oracles. Still, what I say above stands. There is nothing so specific in the laws God requires of the state the would make the state look so specifically Christian. The state would look just as “Jewish” or just plain old “righteous” even though it is the Christian church now informing the state.

    When you are asking me to make a law against the first table of the law that is not “specifically Christian,” AND you are doing so based on “this” comment above without referring to it until now, are you not just taking the words, but ignoring my meaning?

    In what way do you understand my question: “So, before Christ, was God’s law Christian? Before Moses? Before Abraham? Noah?”

    What do you think I mean by this?: “… government must obey and enforce the laws God requires of states because He requires them and NOT because it is the ‘Christian’ thing to do.”

    Now, I don’t accept the thought that you can separate a law in its finished form from the reason behind the law. The reason behind the law has everything do do with why the law is in existence. Therefore, I am looking at the reason behind the law that makes it “Christian, Muslum, Humanistic, Darwinian, etc.” But, notice now that the meaning of “Christian” is not the same. So, we have two “terms” with the same exact word: “Christian” right here in this comment.

    I’m off to breakfast and soccer games. (This is still a serious response, not a blow off)

    Jeff

  16. we have two “terms” with the same exact word: “Christian” right here in this comment.

    Sounds like equivocation to me. I admit only one sense of the term “Christian”, and to head Echo off, I’ll go ahead and say that if you’re trying to define a “Civil Christianity” which is different than “Church Christianity”, that really sounds to me like “Christianity minus salvation” = “Christianity minus justification” = “Christianity minus the gospel” = “Christianity with only sanctification” = some kind of works-based system.

    Yes, you would need one for all types, but it ‘does’ meet your own requirement. No?

    No. I guess I need to add another requirement to my challenge: the law should be sufficient, or complete. I’ll repeat, if you take your Satanist template, and extend it until it is sufficient, then you will have a pile of equivalent laws with a laundry list of false religions inserted. And if you do it correctly, then the end result would be logically equivalent to a law that uses the framework once, with “anything but Christianity” substituted for Satanism. When I say logically equivalent, I mean it would be the same law, just with more words. So the one “non-Christian” law would be the same law as your pile of Satanist+Mormon+Muslim+Buddhist+Unitarian… laws. So if the “non-Christian” version of the law codifies “specific Christianity” into the law, so does your enumerative pile of laws. The former just codifies it explicitly, and the latter does it implicitly.

    Put it this way. If a martian showed up, and wanted to choose a religion that would enable him to proselytize, he would go to the public library and read the laws, and find that he can’t be a evangelizing Satanist, or Mormon, or Muslim, or … But since he doesn’t know about religion, it might seem to him as if nobody can evangelize for anything at all. So if he asked around (or asked the civil magistrate) “OK, so where is the list of religions I AM allowed to evangelize for?” he would get the immediate answer, “Christianity, that’s it. Here’s a bible, let me show you all about it”. And the martian says “I understand now — your government is specifically Christian.” And the civil magistrate says “no, we’re not specifically Christian, we’re just just.”

  17. Can I ask four really direct questions of the theonomists (those that are still here)? There’s so much hemming and hawing, I can’t seem to see my way through the fog.

    1 Should a Hare Krishna who worships Vishnu through chanting on a public beach be executed?
    2 Should an atheist who gives public speeches mocking creation be executed?
    3 Should a college prof who mocks God openly in his university classes be executed?
    4 If a detective catches a preacher in the act of committing meth-fueled gay sex in a Denver Motel room, and he turns the pictures and video over to the authorites, should that preacher be executed?

  18. Albino,

    Maybe even the gay prostitute should be executed, since if he had just kept his mouth shut, people wouldn’t have been turned off to Christianity by this pastor’s hypocritical witness. Yep, both the pastor and the prostitute have served to drive people away from God.

    Of course, if they go out from us, they are not of us, are they?

    E

  19. Theonomists,

    I have asserted what may be a more palatable objection in post 86 in the previous thread. It was addressed to Jeff, but any theonomist may answer if s/he wishes.

    E

  20. Albino,

    I’m thinking over your last post again.

    It’s interesting that when Paul confronted a gross sin, a man having his father’s wife, he did not advocate the man’s execution or imprisonment, but his excommunication. But even that was for the purpose of restoring the man.

    1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.
    1Co 5:2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
    1Co 5:3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
    1Co 5:4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
    1Co 5:5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    It’s interesting that Paul goes on to say:

    1Co 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–
    1Co 5:10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
    1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.
    1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
    1Co 5:13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    Now, I know that the theonomists say that the civil magistrate is the one who acts on God’s behalf here to judge those outside the church.

    But in response, although it is not particularly definitive, what do you make of verse 10?

    It seems like verse 10 characterizes the world as FULL of sin of all kinds. And while Paul says that we shouldn’t associate with the sexually immoral, he does NOT mean the immoral of the world. It seems that on the one hand, he is saying that the world simply IS an immoral place, and that we should simply accept that. On the other hand, I have to ask: isn’t this a perfect opportunity for Paul to assert the need for theonomy if he believed in such a thing?

    No, rather, he says that in order to escape the immorality of the world, you would have to LEAVE the world. As long as you are in the world, it seems that it is going to remain immoral. Why wouldn’t he say something here about the civil magistrate being responsible for restraining that evil, but lament the fact that he doesn’t? He seems to ACCEPT that the world is immoral and will remain immoral.

    But anyway, a big issue here is how to interpret verse 13. When it says that God will judge the world, does it mean through the agency of the civil magistrate, or something else? I wonder if this parable that Jesus told doesn’t serve as an interpretive key for this verse:

    Mat 13:24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
    Mat 13:25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
    Mat 13:26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.
    Mat 13:27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
    Mat 13:28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
    Mat 13:29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.
    Mat 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

    Jesus goes on to explain the parable:

    Mat 13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”
    Mat 13:37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
    Mat 13:38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
    Mat 13:39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
    Mat 13:40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
    Mat 13:41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
    Mat 13:42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    Mat 13:43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

    Theonomists, if I am understanding these passages correctly, that they illumine one another (following the hermeneutic of the WCF, which teaches us to compare Scripture with Scripture, so as to interpret unclear passages in the light of clearer passages), then the Bible teaches that God will judge the immorality of this world on the last day, at the last judgment. There is no warrant whatsoever in these passages to say that this will be done through human agency, because Jesus is crystal clear that it will be through angelic agency, at the end of the age.

    I am not antinomian here. I am not the enemy of justice here. I believe in the necessity of the civil magistrate to uphold justice. I believe that the law of God is good, and that we ought to seek to follow that law.

    But I do not think that we in the church ought to believe that the civil magistrate ought to take on the role that God has given to his angels. I do not think that we should try to bring about some kind of golden age by maintaining the Mosaic law. I am not a postmillennialist. I’m not saying that all theonomists are postmillennialists; they aren’t. But I am saying that I am not a postmillennialist, and therefore I do not believe that we should work to bring about a golden age of Christianity. Our works will not bring about the eschaton.

    I am not sure why theonomists are not postmillennialists consistently. I know at least some of them are.

    Let me be perfectly clear. I too hope to see the world purified. I would love to see it in this life. But the Bible makes it abundantly clear that our hope should not be in this age, but in the age to come. In the New Heavens, New Earth, we will be glorified, unable to sin. I can surely sympathize with your desire to see a less sinful world. I share that desire.

    But it will not come about through law-keeping. It will not come about through the agency of the civil magistrate.

    I am utterly convinced that teaching that this is the role of the civil magistrate undermines the gospel. For part of the gospel is that God himself will bring about the eschaton. Our eschatology is not unrelated to the gospel. They illumine one another.

    Everything in the Bible – EVERYTHING – points to, illumines, and bears testimony to the gospel. Everything. There is nothing in the Bible that doesn’t.

    Of the Holy Spirit, who gives Scripture, Jesus said:

    Joh 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

    Nothing the Spirit says, whether to a person, through prophesy, through tongues, through Scripture, whatever, can fail to bear witness to Christ. We can surely say this about the NT, but is this true of the OT as well?

    Joh 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
    Joh 5:40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

    Jesus says a little bit more than that the OT simply bears witness to him. He says that the OT bears witness to the fact that eternal life is found in him. After all, if we had believed the testimony of the OT, we would come to him for eternal life. That is the content of its testimony. It doesn’t just point to Jesus in some vague way, it points to the person and work of Jesus, also known as the gospel.

    The Holy Spirit not only WILL come to the apostles and the church and bear witness about the gospel, but that is how he has ALWAYS operated.

    Luk 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
    Luk 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
    Luk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    Verse 26 is an abbreviation of the gospel, and verse 27 tells us that Jesus showed them how to interpret a small percentage of the OT so as to understand that they were ABOUT him. No, that’s not what it says, it says ‘ALL THE SCRIPTURES’. To clarify, it says ‘Moses and all the prophets’. The law and the prophets. It’s not JUST the Messianic prophesies of the OT that point to Christ, but also the law, indeed, ALL the Scriptures. But as Jesus told us in John 5 above, it is not just bearing witness to him in some vague way, but the fact that eternal life comes only through him and in him.

    Well, no wonder then that Paul says that he knew nothing among the Corinthians but Christ and him crucified, and declared that this was the content of our preaching, saying that we PREACH Christ and him crucified. It is not that this is the content of evangelistic preaching only, as Jay Adams would have us believe, but this is the content of ALL preaching, because it is the content of ALL of the Scriptures.

    But perhaps you object that we need to hear the law that we might be sanctified. We need to be trained to be obedient. This training must be through explaining and understanding the law.

    But this misunderstands the Scriptures. It is not through the preaching of the law that we are sanctified, because it is not our RESPONSE to preaching that brings about sanctification, any more than it is our RESPONSE that brings about our justification. We are not justified because we respond to God, we respond to God because we are justified and being sanctified.

    Why does Paul insist that faith comes through hearing the word of Christ in Rom 10:17? Why doesn’t he say that faith comes through hearing the law? Why does he say earlier in chapt 1 that he is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for salvation? Why doesn’t he say that it’s the power of God for justification, but the law sanctifies? He uses those words, but not interchangably. When Paul says “salvation”, he means to refer to the entire ordo salutis, including glorification.

    Sanctification as well as justification are by grace through faith, and faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ, that is, the gospel. The entire Scriptures point to it. The entire Scriptures are ABOUT it.

    This is why I say that theonomy is not biblical. Even if you could somehow prove that it does not undermine the gospel, it is still not biblical, because it does nothing to glorify the gospel. It doesn’t make anyone more holy, it doesn’t convert sinners or sanctify saints. This only, only, only comes by grace through faith, which comes through the hearing of the preached Word of Christ.

    It is irrefutable that theonomy would do nothing to make anyone more holy or to bring anyone to faith in Christ. It would furthermore not prevent any true Christians from falling away from the faith, since John tells us in his first letter that if they go out from us, they are not really of us. They are not one of us if they go out from us. And furthermore this serves God’s purposes:

    1Jo 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

    God USES unbelief. It is part of his plan. He uses it to distinguish his people from the world. THIS upholds the gospel. And it must uphold the gospel, because it is Scriptural, and because it is something God does. God does not do anything or desire for us to do anything that does not uphold the gospel in all its glory. Our job as the church is to uphold the gospel and bring glory to the name of Jesus by doing that. This, and only this mission is what the Bible speaks to.

    If theonomy doesn’t accomplish this mission, then it CANNOT be the case that theonomy can be derived from the Bible.

    Adam failed to uphold God’s law, then Israel failed to uphold it. So Christ came and DID fulfill it, and he did so on our behalf. Israel was a re-enactment of Adam in the garden on a bigger scale. Thus Jesus Christ is the true Israel, the true Son.

    Mat 2:14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
    Mat 2:15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

    Hos 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
    Hos 11:2 The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.

    Matthew quotes Hosea, but is telling us something. He is telling us that Jesus IS the true Israel. Jesus recapitulated Israel, just as Israel recapitulated Adam. Adam was to obey a covenant of works, so was Israel, and Jesus too was born under the law.

    But the law has finally been conquered and fulfilled in Jesus Christ! He has conquered the law which formerly CONDEMNED us.

    Col 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,
    Col 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.
    Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
    Col 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.
    Col 2:17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

    The law is accomplished.

    Heb 7:18 On the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
    Heb 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

    Heb 10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.
    Heb 10:2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sin?

    Gal 3:23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
    Gal 3:24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
    Gal 3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,
    Gal 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

    Paul and the author to the Hebrews are in perfect agreement that believers are not under the law.

    WHY are we not under the law? SO THAT we might be justified by faith.

    Now what sense does it make for believers to NOT be under the law, but then to put UNBELIEVERS under the yoke that isn’t even good for believers? Believers are not under the law that we might be justified by faith. Shall we then require an even higher standard for unbelievers, who are even less able to carry such a yoke than we are?

    To put believers under the law undermines the gospel. Paul makes that clear over and over and over and over again.

    Even if you think unbelievers should be under the law, you have to admit that the Bible CLEARLY denies that BELIEVERS in the very least should be under the law.

    But if you have the civil magistrate upholding the law, you would put believers under the yoke of the law.

    About people who share your view, Paul said this:

    Gal 5:12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

    And Peter would plead with you:

    Act 15:10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?

    Now I’m sorry if what I’m saying seems stupid and illogical, and you write me off as being unsophisticated and poorly read in your sophisticated view. I’m sorry if you’re so infuriated by what I have said that you feel the need to be offended personally, and lash out at me.

    But you know what? What you have said infuriates me. What you have said tramples on the gospel in my estimation, and my only response can be: HOW DARE YOU? You, who LOVE the gospel, or claim to, yet in the same breath, you trample on it. You ridicule others for their lack of sophistication, then plead with us that we take the time to read and study your wise position and rage at me when I say that it isn’t worth my time.

    I visited Jeff’s personal website, and saw his written confession of what he believes to be the gospel, and God bless him, I found it praiseworthy and true. I could not but say “amen” to his profession of faith.

    But that is why I take the time and expend the effort to appeal to you all, because I know that at least he believes the gospel, and judging from the response I have gotten from the rest of you, I can at least be sure that the accusation that you are undermining the gospel illicited a negative reaction.

    But don’t you see, this only fuels my incredulity all the more! How DARE you undermine the gospel this way? If you cherish it and treasure it as your only hope as I do, if you love the gospel as I do, if you find that it is to be upheld above all other things, then how on earth can you do this? How can you teach this? How can you confess this? How can you acknowledge that this is what you believe?

    This is NOT what you believe if you believe the gospel.

    I really don’t care who you would execute and who you would simply imprison, or whatever. If you do it exactly like the Israelites – frankly, even if you don’t, it doesn’t matter – if you even utilize the same law, and seek to place it as a yoke on our necks, then the Scriptures, not me, condemn you and your ideas.

    Yep, both are condemned. Not just the idea, but the person.

    That doesn’t mean eternally condemned. Remember, Paul used that word about Peter when he was acting out of line with the gospel.

    Gal 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
    Gal 2:12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.
    Gal 2:13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
    Gal 2:14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
    Gal 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;
    Gal 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
    Gal 2:17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!
    Gal 2:18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
    Gal 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.
    Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
    Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    Obviously, Peter didn’t go to hell. The 12 apostles serve as the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem, and it was upon Peter that Christ built his church (representing the 12, but that’s irrelevant). And Peter went on to write 2 books of the Bible. I think we’ll see him in heaven.

    Nonetheless, when he was acting contrary to the truth of the gospel, he stood condemned.

    You are acting contrary to the gospel.

    God calls you to repent.

    I know how the theonomists will respond. They’ll say that I’m ignorant, that I’m setting up strawmen, that I’m distorting the Scriptures, and that they can’t possibly be guilty of the sin which I claim Scripture has found them guilty of.

    Ok. So be it.

    My only response from here on out is: tell it to the Judge.

    I have said what I have said with your best interests at heart. I would like to see you repent and live life more in keeping with the gospel. That is my TRUE motive. Accuse me of some other motive if you wish, but this is my stated purpose. I am utterly sincere. If I have set up strawmen, then I am wrong. I have not done so intentionally. My motive is not simply that I hate God’s law and I don’t want to see it obeyed, so, in order to cover up my sin, I am making up strawmen and distorting the Scriptures. I know you’ll think that’s what I’m doing, but I’m not. I really, truly do love the gospel of Jesus Christ. I really do. It totally transformed my life, and I have dedicated my life to proclaiming it.

    That is why I cannot abide your trampling on it in good conscience.

    I don’t think I’m smarter than you. I’m sure you’re all more well read and much smarter than me. I’m also sure that your understanding of Van Til is deeper than mine, and that your understanding of Bahsen is too, and your understanding of the Mosaic law, and whatever else you’d like to claim is important to understand in order to understand that theonomy is a “good” thing. I’m sure you can wax far more eloquently about many things than me.

    But I do know the gospel. And it is clear, crystal clear to me that what you are espousing is not in keeping with it.

    Paul opposed Peter to his face not because Paul was an apostle, and not because Peter was an apostle and should have known better. There is only one simple reason why Paul opposed Peter to his face: “I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” Why did he stand condemned? “I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel.”

    Paul never once says that it was because he was an apostle, therefore he should oppose Peter to his face. The only right he claimed that allowed him in his estimation to oppose Peter to his face was that Peter stood condemned because his conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel. Period.

    In fact, Paul condemns the entire Galatian church for not recognizing their error.

    The gospel is the one thing we need to believe in to be saved. Therefore, even the most painfully ignorant among us MUST be qualified to understand it, even if they understand nothing else.

    Because I have professed faith in the gospel, and this profession has been acquitted now by two sessions of elders, not just one (on account of the fact that I transferred), I am therefore qualified to understand the gospel. As are some 10 year olds I know.

    Because I am officially qualified to understand it, and I have demonstrated that I understand it to leaders of the church appointed by God, therefore I am qualified to speak out when I see that what is being said is not in keeping with the gospel.

    Now, if you understand the gospel better than me, then by all means, correct me and show me how I am wrong. But you better do so by explaining how your view upholds the gospel, because that is my objection. Answer my objection, not me. Do not attack me, attack my objection.

    If you attack me, you only prove that you cannot attack the objection.

  21. By the way, only the beginning portion of that post was directed to Albino, not the whole thing. I know he’s not a theonomist.

    E

  22. I am not sure why theonomists are not postmillennialists consistently.

    It’s because of the common theology of earthly victory

  23. P.S.

    Ron,

    The imputation of the active obedience of Christ is part of the gospel. Norm Shepherd and his ilk of the Federal Vision theology are liars, and this has been at the very least declared by the OPC, who in their recent justification report said that the teachings of the Federal Vision folks (Shepherd, Wilson, Wilkins, etc) ranges from error to heresy.

    And oh, by the way, just to be clear, someone tried to attach a statement to the report saying that we weren’t condemning people but only ideas, and it was shot down by the Assembly.

    You can read the report here:
    http://www.opc.org/GA/justification.pdf

    And if you’re wondering why I am saying this, it’s because I have just visited your blog, where you said that you remain unconvinced of the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, etc.

    P.P.S.

    By the way, for everyone else, if you DO believe in the imputation of active obedience, do you think it’s significant that someone who doesn’t believe in the imputation of Christ’s active obedience to us is also a theonomist? Well, at least Ron has good reason to get mad at me for saying that theonomy is contra gospel. It’s not contra his gospel.

  24. Ron,

    I am, of course, referring to this:

    http://www.xanga.com/Lord_Ron/528208342/covenantal-headship-and-the-need-for-individual-obedience.html

    Funny how so many thought I was being irrational when I said that theonomy undermines the gospel. It doesn’t undermine your gospel at all though, does it?

  25. I know I’m out of the theonomy debate, but I’d like to take this opportunity to comment on something echo said,

    The imputation of the active obedience of Christ is part of the gospel. Norm Shepherd and his ilk of the Federal Vision theology are liars, and this has been at the very least declared by the OPC, who in their recent justification report said that the teachings of the Federal Vision folks (Shepherd, Wilson, Wilkins, etc) ranges from error to heresy.

    Amen and amen.

    ~Wacky

  26. Jeff said:

    “My understanding of the ‘reason’ to enforce the ‘civil application’ of the first table is not “to guard the flock by the civil sword.” What you point out about the officers of the church guarding the flock is all very valid and I agree. But it’s not an argument ‘against’ Theonomy if the reason for enforcing 1st table application is different. See?

    “So, what is the reasoning? I’m sure there is more than I understand, but my reasoning is that I believe through systematic theology, Theonomy’s understanding of the Civil Magistrate is logically necessary. So, in short, I’m saying that the reason is becuase the Bible says so.”

    Echo says:

    When I asked this question earlier, I was ridiculed and insulted and told to “go read”. But now even Jeff is asking the same question I asked: WHY should the civil magistrate enforce the first commandment?

    The best answer Jeff can come up with is that systematic theology demands it. Fair enough.

    Perhaps one of the other theonomists can answer.

    It seems to me that common grace makes a lot of sense with regard to the civil enforcement of the 6th commandment, as in the covenant with Noah.

    But one thing we need to bear in mind is that when the civil magistrate, who is an unbeliever, executes a murderer, he doesn’t do so out of obedience to God. He does so out of hatred towards God.

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    God restrains evil by his Spirit, and we call this common grace. Thus no one is as evil as they could be. But this doesn’t make them obedient.

    The unbelieving doctor who donates a month or two to go to Africa to help sick people does not do so as a manifestation of love for God – he has no love for God to express! He hates God! Jesus tells us that what is in a man comes out of the man. If someone is an unbeliever, they are rebels and hate God. But according to common grace, God can direct this for the common good of humanity.

    But it is easy to see how people can be friendly to their fellow man out of hatred towards God and denial of God. After all, people are not God. But how can they be obedient, even outwardly, to the first table of the law?

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    Indeed, it CANNOT.

  27. Let me just add that even if something like theonomy did logically follow from Systematic Theology, which it doesn’t, then that still doesn’t prove that it’s biblical.

    Again, the test for biblicity is: does it glorify Christ and his gospel? It it doesn’t, then it cannot have come from the Holy Spirit, and thus cannot be biblical. That’s deductively valid and based on clear declarations of Scripture.

  28. crickets…crickets…

  29. http://www.upper-register.com/theonomy.html

    As a matter of fact, there’s a lot more here…

  30. I haven’t really been involved in this conversation because I don’t feel qualified to debate in either direction but I just want to throw out a brief comment on my perspecitve on theonomist and why i don’t think that they undermine the gospel.

    My perspective of thenomist is that they are post-millenialist who see civil rulers being moved and run by God himself to create a better and better society that is more outwardly holy and pleaseing to God. (similar to how God moved the heart of King Cyrus, God will move the heart of president Clinton and vice president Obama).

    I would think that this view would be perfectly in line with the staunch Calvanist view point. I mean if God is control and he wills that this is what happens, who are we to complain?

    Would he really be undermining his own gospel if he were to do such a thing?

  31. Daniel,

    I’m not sure theonomists would agree with you.

    You said: “My perspective of thenomist is that they are post-millenialist who see civil rulers being moved and run by God himself to create a better and better society that is more outwardly holy and pleaseing to God.”

    Not all theonomists are post-millennialists, but I don’t know why, so don’t ask me. I think they should be, but what do I know?

    But if they did agree that a society that was more outwardly holy was better, then so be it.

    For my part, I have a problem with equating an increase in outward “holiness” and “more pleasing to God.” The two are not the same thing. Outward obedience is not obedience. Period. Obedience is something of the heart only.

    Rom 2:29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

    God looks on the heart.

    This is what Jesus is saying here:

    Mat 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:
    Mat 15:8 “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;
    Mat 15:9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”
    Mat 15:10 And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand:
    Mat 15:11 it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

    So, Daniel, I’m not exactly sure what your definition of a “staunch Calvinist” is, but I would caution you that Calvinism is not fatalism. That is what is more commonly referred to as hyper-Calvinism.

    But anyway, I probably fall under your definition of “staunch” Calvinist, though I don’t take that title on myself. I am a Christian who is a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who confesses the Westminster Confession of Faith as adopted by that church.

    As to your last question, Daniel, it reminds me of questions like: Can God make a rock so big he can’t lift it? The answer is no. He can’t.

    So you ask if God does something, if it is possible that it undermines the gospel. My response is, no, God would not reveal anything in the Scriptures that undermines the gospel. He can’t. That’s like asking if he can lie. He can’t do that either. God does not undermine the gospel.

    Now, you might ask if anything he does via his providence undermines the gospel. Well, since all believers have been predestined from before the foundation of the world, then everyone who God wants to have faith in him will hear the gospel and believe it. Does that mean everyone will hear the gospel, or that everyone who hears it will believe it? No. Does that mean that God undermines the gospel? No.

    Nope.

  32. Sorry Echo, I guess I meant “hyper-Calvanist” instead of “staunch”.

    My question really is that if Post-millenialism is correct then does it undermine the gospel?

    In a very broad sense I don’t think it does. I agree the there are theonomist who can undermine the gospel s you well illustrated.

    But that doesn’t mean that theonomy (in the post-millenial interpretation) necesecerilly undermines the gospel and should be collectivley rejected.

  33. Daniel,

    We can talk about whether or not post-millennialism undermines the gospel, but honestly, that’s not the key thing about theonomy that I’m claiming causes it to undermine the gospel.

    My critique was of theonomy apart from post-millennialism.

    But of post-millennialism, I would ask: where does this doctrine teach you to put your hope? Who brings about the eschaton: God or man? Does it teach us to hope in God’s initiation, or in man’s response?

    I would argue that it teaches us to hope not in God’s initiation, but in man’s response, because it is man’s response that will bring about the golden age of Christianity on earth, in this present evil age.

    Meanwhile, the gospel teaches precisely the opposite. It teaches us not to focus on man’s response, but on God’s initiation. Of course, we are called to respond to God’s initiation, but the focus of the Scriptures, and the focus of the gospel is God’s initiation. It all really boils down to a question of emphasis.

    But “question of emphasis” does not always mean “hair-splitting” or “unimportant”. Sometimes questions of emphasis are crucial. For example, what’s the difference between a good gospel sermon and useless moralism? Often it’s only a matter of emphasis. One preaches the Word, one preaches human wisdom.

    For example, you can preach on the book of James and talk about how Christians need to work harder and how they shouldn’t be lazy, etc. And you’d be more or less right that that’s what James says. But in that case, your emphasis would be all wrong. The emphasis should not be on the believer, encouraging believers to examine their own lives and determine if they’re doing enough for God and his church. It is good to serve God and his church, but the only thing that’s going to produce good works is faith, not human effort. As James himself says, faith without works is dead. But that means that works require faith, and faith comes by…hearing the Word of Christ, that is the gospel. So you see, in this case, you can easily misplace the emphasis when preaching through James, and send precisely the wrong signal to the congregation. You can either encourage them to greater faith, which brings about works, or you can bypass faith and encourage them to works. In the one, the works come from God, in the other, from man.

    This is why I say that sometimes questions of emphasis make all the difference in the world. You can very easily preach James, for example, all wrong, turning it into useless moralism (and thus not actually the Word of God), or you can explain it in light of the gospel, which is the interpretive key to the entire Scriptures, and unlock the beauty of the text and truly “preach the Word”.

    Theonomy and post-millennialism share the same kind of emphasis as the above problematic way of preaching James. They both focus on man’s response to God. Man’s response brings something about.

    It places the efficacy in man’s response to God’s Word, rather than in the Word that is spoken by God.

    Just to show how much of the Scriptures this is at odds with, take a look at the creation narrative.

    God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

    Non-existent “things” (for lack of a better term, since in order to be a thing it has to exist, so non-existent things is kind of a contradiction in terms) responded to the Word of God by coming into existence.

    But in this example, where is the efficacy? Is it even possible for it to be in non-existence? Non-existence cannot “hear” the Word of God. This is entailed in the fact that non-existence does not exist, so it cannot have ears with which to hear, because ears must exist.

    But even if non-existent things could somehow be said to hear, could they make a moral choice to be obedient to God? Again, not a chance. Impossible.

    But even if non-existent things could hear the Word of God, and could make the moral choice to be obedient to God, could they then bring themselves into existence? No, no, no.

    All of this discussion has been futile. Non-existent things obviously can’t create themselves because they heard the Word of God and decided to obey. That’s nonsense. Utter nonsense. The efficacy MUST be in God and his Word. Well, the Scriptures confirm this not just in the creation narrative, but also in a very famous passage of Scripture:

    Isa 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
    11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

    This completely confirms what I’ve just been saying. If God’s Word ALWAYS accomplishes the purpose he has for sending it, then the result of his Word must be entirely in his control. In short, the efficacy must be in his Word.

    But we can see that this also applies to us. The Scripture says so. God is not just telling us about his Word as it operated in creation, but also how it operates in salvation. He is making a general statement about his Word. He confirms this for us too.

    Rom 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
    14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
    15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
    16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
    17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    Paul makes the exact same point I’m making here. He makes the same point in Ephesians:

    Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
    5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

    We were DEAD in our sins, just like non-existence. Can dead men hear? Can dead men make a conscious choice to obey? Can dead men respond? You cannot respond unless you are alive, and you cannot be alive in sins, but only dead in sins. We can be alive only in Christ. But if we are in Christ, then we are already united to him. I could go on.

    But this is why it’s so problematic to focus on man’s response. The Scriptures don’t do that. You might be able to interpret it that way if you take it OUT of context, but it’s always grounded in God’s initiation.

    Look at the beginning of the 10 Commandments if you don’t believe me.

    Exo 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying,
    2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
    3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

    Notice it begins with God speaking, and then what does he say? He says I have redeemed you; THEREFORE respond by having no other gods…etc. We are to have no other gods, because THIS God is the one who has redeemed us. HE is our deliverer, HE has rescued us from Egypt.

    There is a connection between God’s having redeemed us and our obedience. James confirms this when he says that faith without works is dead. In other words, faith without works is NOT faith. It is dead, non-existent, it is not alive.

    But faith, real faith, comes by hearing the Word of Christ. This is a necessary precondition to any obedience.

    This is why it is terribly problematic and undermines the gospel when we seek to place unbelievers especially under the Mosaic law, supposing that this will be pleasing to God.

    How CAN it be pleasing to God? If it is not done out of faith, it is sin.

    Rom 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

    Look at that! Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin! How cana the unbeliever ever do ANYTHING that’s pleasing to God? The most selfless act of charity that is performed by an unbeliever is still a deplorable thing to God, because it does not come from faith. It is not the result of faith. If it does not come from faith, it is sin.

    Meanwhile, true faith always works.

    The ONLY WAY TO PLEASE GOD is by faith.

    Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

    Without faith it’s impossible to please God. Why? Because only faith obtains the merits of Christ offered to us freely in the gospel. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. How much more so unbeliever’s “righteousness”?

    Why does anyone think that God will be pleased by ANYTHING other than faith, which comes ONLY from the preaching of the Word?

    The state, the civil magistrate CANNOT please God. Only the church that preaches the gospel can please God. That’s it.

    As a matter of fact, theonomy will only provoke the Lord, because it claims to be more pleasing to God when it isn’t. It’s probably even less pleasing to God because it’s more hypocritical than the honest sinner who simply thumbs his nose at God. What does he say about being lukewarm? He, God, says that he wishes we would be either hot or cold, because that lukewarm stuff really, really aggrevates him. He has less tolerance of that than those who are totally cold.

    Rev 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
    Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

    Theonomy wants to make everyone lukewarm. Theonomy wants to turn the outward obedience into a pleasing aroma to God.

    This is why it undermines the gospel, because the gospel demands of us that we believe that ONLY FAITH can please God, because ONLY FAITH can obtain the perfect merits of Christ Jesus our Lord. And it is only this faith that even begins to produce good works in us, because it is only when we are truly justified that we can begin to be truly sanctified. No sanctification equals no obedience. Period.

    Theonomy focuses on our response to God, rather than to the work of Christ on our behalf. That’s the focus, the focus on law keeping.

    Post-millennialism does something similar, because (no, I haven’t read a whole library of books on this either) it teaches that eventually, more or less the entire world will become Christians, and this will be a 1000 year reign (literal or figurative, depending) of Christians on earth. This is the golden age of Christianity, the so called eschatology of victory, because Christians will win. Exciting, huh?

    1Jo 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.
    5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    I shouldn’t really even have to say more than these verses, but I will anyway. They think that the victory of believers is found in coming to rule on earth. The Bible says that the victory IS our faith. Why?

    Well, just ask yourself: what does faith do? Well, according to James, it works. Ok. What else does it do? It obtains the merits of Christ which are imputed to us by faith alone, because faith obtains Christ as our covenant/federal representative. JESUS CHRIST has overcome the world, and he did THAT when he rose from the dead!

    You want an eschatology of victory, O post-millennialists? Look no further than the resurrection of Christ. THAT IS our victory. And he will raise US up at the last day! THAT will be our victory.

    Post-millennialists would call my eschatology defeatist, which is why they refer to their own as an eschatology of victory. That’s the kind of thing that undermines the gospel. Do you, post-millennialists, deny that the resurrection is our victory? If you do not deny that, do you deny that this victory is sufficient? What about our victory when we are vindicated in front of the whole world, when Jesus Christ proves that he is not ashamed to call us his brothers on judgment day? Is that victorious enough for you? If it is enough, then why is my eschatology defeatist? If that is enough, why do you find victory in another place and then claim the name of eschatology of victory?

    For the post-millennialist, the resurrection of Christ and our glorification and vindication on judgment day are not enough victory. They want to have a temporal, fleeting, passing away victory in THIS WORLD, in THIS AGE on THIS EARTH to add to our eternal victory in Christ in the age to come in the new heavens, new earth. Once they have added this useless addendum, which is sort of like a child saying “infinity plus one!”, then they claim for themselves the title of “eschatology of victory”. Not only do they want to add this useless victory in this age, but they think it’s so important that they even glorify it, because this distinctive of theirs characterizes their whole view. No, it’s not our eternal resurrected bodies that allow us to have an eschatology of victory, it’s the rule of Christians over this cursed earth while we remain sinful. This sinful reign makes our whole eschatology one of victory, they say. By saying this, they’re implying that this earthly rule in corrupted bodies by corrupted people who are suceptible to decay is more important than that which is eternal, incorruptible, unable to decay, unending, etc.

    It not only undermines the gospel, it doesn’t make much sense either.

    There’s a lot of tolerance for post-millennialism in my denomination, for example. There’s a lot of tolerance for it in the broader reformed world. I think this is just because it isn’t dispensational. But I for one find post-millennialism very offensive and I can’t stand it. I hate it. It makes me angry. It undermines the gospel. Really, anything that undermines the gospel is likely to get me all riled up.

    I don’t think there should be any tolerance for this view at all. It undermines the gospel and is therefore clearly unscriptural. I don’t care if the confession doesn’t condemn it. It doesn’t need to. It’s out of accord with the gospel.

    Can you tell that I’ve a litmus test of the gospel when it comes to distinguishing truth from lies?

  34. sorry it was so long. What’s WRONG with me?

  35. Geez Echo switch to decaf. Why is it that everything you disagree with you disect into something that, in your view, undermines the gospel?

    Bare Bones post-milleniallism states that God brings about this “Christiainized” society by his own soverign will. So what if he uses humans to accomplish it. This does not undermine the gospel but rather could easily be embraced by both hyper and ridlinized calvanist.

    I am NOT a post-millenialist, and no one has really argued for that postion in this thread, I simply brought it up to see if you would admit that theonomy in the context of post-millenialism doesn’t undermine the gospel as you said. You went off arguing against that but since you aren’t really arguing anyone in particular I think you are going to get little response.

  36. Daniel,

    No, I fully admit it was a rant.

    However, you wanted me to admit that theonomy in the context of post-mill didn’t undermine the gospel. I was just trying to say that not only is that not the case, but both independently undermine the gospel.

    But you hit the nail right on the head. You’ve got me pegged. I’m a gospel zealot. Anything that undermines the gospel becomes a target.

    It seems to me that it should be obvious to us all that love the gospel that if something undermines the gospel, it couldn’t possibly be right. That should end the argument. If it can be proven that something undermines the gospel, then people who love the gospel shouldn’t believe in that gospel undermining doctrine anymore, because we recognize that the gospel is the most important thing in the world.

    Gospel before all.

    E, gospel zealot.

  37. P. S. I’ll never switch to decaf. I love caffine. mmmm…

  38. “But you hit the nail right on the head. You’ve got me pegged. I’m a gospel zealot. Anything that undermines the gospel becomes a target.”

    Echo, I don’t want you to think of this as a challenge or an gressive accusation I just want you to see how you are not percieved as a gospel zealot to anyone else but yourself. To most people I think you appear as a dogmatist, an arguer, and crusader of your own opinion. NOT of the gospel.

    I am sure you are well intentioned and believe your cause is righteous but the perception that you give off is one of arrogance. You also tend to build your arguments that show how something “undermines the gospel” on insinuations, appearances and inferances rather than on facts, teachings or reality.

    I am sure you are familiar with Paul’s writings to the philippians when he says, “the important things is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

    I see so little rejoicing in your words regarding Christ being preached. Rather you appear (not just to me) to be more concerned with securing your own position than anythign else.

    You don’t appear a gospel zealot, you appear a self zealot.

    Please understand I don’t mean to be offensive but I say this because I want you to realize that you can be so much more effective if you stop judging other views of scripture as ones the “undermine the gospel”. You would be hardpressed to rally anyone to your cause of saying, “theonomist, charismatics, post-millenialist, non-presbyterians, non-calvanists etc. undermine the gospel”. You are doing nobody any good with your stances. The reality is that you haven’t argued with anyone who would ever deny salvation by grace through faith. You haven’t argued with anyone who denied the authority of scripture. You haven’t argued with anyone who denies the trinity or the deity of Christ. You keep trying to make them deny those things, but no one (with the possible exception of someone who did deny the active and passive obedience of Christ) disagrees with the fundamental truths of the gospel and none of us are enemies of the gospel. So as a self-proclaimed, “gospel-zealot” you look more like “those people” Paul talks about in Galatians 4:17, hell bent on the purpose of alienation and their own cause.

  39. BTW I love caffine too.

  40. Daniel,

    That you would say the following only proves that you haven’t understood my point:

    “The reality is that you haven’t argued with anyone who would ever deny salvation by grace through faith. You haven’t argued with anyone who denied the authority of scripture. You haven’t argued with anyone who denies the trinity or the deity of Christ. You keep trying to make them deny those things, but no one (with the possible exception of someone who did deny the active and passive obedience of Christ) disagrees with the fundamental truths of the gospel and none of us are enemies of the gospel.”

    How many times do I have to say it? I’m not accusing anyone of not believing the gospel!

    I have said repeatedly that I’m not saying that. I’m saying that certain things are INCONSISTENT with the gospel.

    I know you’re not trying to be offensive. I don’t think you’re trying to be. I don’t think you’re deliberately trying to call me a jerk or whatever. I believe you are honestly trying to tell me how I appear to you, and I cannot help but appreciate that.

    So. I appreciate what you said.

    I do NOT appreciate that what you said reflects a lack of carefully reading what I said. I have repeatedly stated that I’m not doing what you say I’m doing.

    Theonomy undermines the gospel. But that doesn’t mean everyone who believes in theonomy denies the gospel. It means that their view in this part of their theology is inconsistent with the gospel.

    Tongues undermines the gospel. That doesn’t mean everyone who believes in tongues denies the gospel. I have said this. It means that their belief in tongues is not consistent with the gospel. This view is inconsistent with their view of the gospel.

    I wouldn’t BOTHER to argue about something undermining the gospel with people who don’t BELIEVE the gospel. What point would there be?

    The whole POINT of my arguments is to appeal to you and the others I have argued against. I have tried to appeal to you, saying, look, you believe the gospel, but this belief you’re espousing is inconsistent with that. Therefore, because you love the gospel, you should give up this belief.

    This line of reasoning would be a complete waste of time if I offered it to people that didn’t believe the gospel.

    Let me ask you something. Let’s say for the sake of argument that your view, tongues, does undermine the gospel. Let’s also say that you are not convinced that that’s the case.

    How would this conversation look any different?

    Isn’t it true that you only view me as arrogant and self promoting simply because you disagree with me?

    If tongues or theonomy DIDN’T undermine the gospel, wouldn’t your criticism be well founded? But if tongues and theonomy DOES undermine the gospel, then am I standing up for the gospel, and not myself?

    You perceive me this way because you disagree with me. See, you don’t believe that tongues does undermine the gospel, therefore, in your mind, the only POSSIBLE explanation is that I’m standing up for my own deranged ideas.

    But what if all of my arguments were exactly correct?

    I would not be arrogant.

    You have said yourself that I believe my cause to be righteous in your estimation.

    What if it is righteous? What if I happen to be correct? What if your view DOES undermine the gospel?

    Then your perception of my arrogance is really just resistance to the truth. You are making the argument about me instead of about what I’m saying.

    Instead of interacting with what I’m saying, you’re interacting with me personally.

    The proof is that you’re also doing the reverse. Even though I’ve said it repeatedly that I’m not accusing anyone of not believing the gospel (even going so far as to admit that Wacky caught me saying something to that effect and I apologized for it, denying that that was what I was really trying to do). Despite my repeated clear declarations that I’m saying that certain views are inconsistent with the gospel that people DO believe in…

    …yet you still insist that I’m attacking you personally, and that I’m denying that you believe the gospel.

    Since you are taking it personally, you are assuming that I mean it personally. It is the way you are viewing it that causes you to perceive me the way you are.

    In short, you think I’m arrogant because you disagree with me. Nothing more.

    If you agreed with me, better yet, if you were persuaded of what I said, it’s not to ME that you would repent, but to God. You wouldn’t ask MY forgiveness for doubting me, you’d ask God’s forgiveness for holding a view that was inconsistent with the gospel, and you would turn away from that view. You wouldn’t turn towards me but towards God.

    Your perceptions are colored by your resistance to what I’m saying.

    And now, I suppose, you will say that I doubly arrogant. After all, I MUST be arrogant if I suppose that I understand the gospel and someone else doesn’t.

    In fact, isn’t it true that no matter who someone is, and no matter how someone goes about it, if they tell you that your view undermines the gospel, it doesn’t matter if they’re right, you would still unequivocally believe them to have no right to say such a thing.

    In your view, no one has any right whatsoever to say that something is inconsistent with the gospel. No one. Anyone who tried would be arrogant. Isn’t that true?

    Isn’t it true that you think I’m arrogant because you think I’m saying that I understand the gospel better than you, and that I’m smarter than you? Isn’t it true that the reason you think this is because it is actually YOU who thinks that no one has the right to tell them that they hold a view that is inconsistent with the gospel?

    You assume that I’m like you, but I’m not.

    When it has been proven to me that my views are not in line with the gospel, I have repented of them. That doesn’t make me better than you, it’s a fact that I have demonstrated that I do think other people have the right to point out MY inconsistencies. And I have given them a fair hearing, and a chance to convince me.

    I admitted when Wacky caught me being inconsistent. I apologized and repented.

    When I was shown that my A/G upbringing was inconsistent with the Bible, with the Gospel, I gave it up.

    What have you ever given up because someone showed you that what you believed was inconsistent with the gospel, with the Word of God?

    Does anyone have the right to tell you that you’re wrong? Ever?

  41. …and after an entire week, no one has said ANYTHING on this blog.

    Are your hearts so hard?

    I’ll leave you to it then.

  42. Just worn out, man. I’m hoping to get back into it soon — although ‘it’ is not the same ‘it’. I want to get back to my TAG series. Check back soon!

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