2 Kingdoms again. Again?!

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by discipulo, Mar 31, 2011.

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  1. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Rev. Winzer, what are the implications of that for contemporary society?

    Should governing authorities FORBID False Religion then? Should Civil Authorities forbid Idolatry then?

    And How? Still my questions on my first post.

    And how could Civil Authorities say what is False Religion and True Religion?

    And if Civil Authorities have that right concerning True Religion, what happens when they are deceived to think a False Religion as being the True one?

    For instance what are the implications when Christians live under an Islamic State (the xiite islam like Iran actually promotes a theocracy, but the question applies to the sunite islam too )

    where there is no Religious freedom?

    Should they under Islamic Civil Authorities still obey in the religious sphere the commandments of

    Romans 13

    Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

    or Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey.

    Is not rather that in that situation they should rather say like Peter: We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5

    Isn’t Constantinianism and Erastinianism precisely the extremes we should keep ourselves from?

    in my opinion the only way to avoid those 2 extremes is to understand that God rules both society and the church as different independent spheres (2 Kingdoms) and trough different means

    (Special Revelation / Natural Revelation + Natural Law + Providence).

    And while we, Christians, as are members of God’s Kingdom, the Visible Church, we will only see the complete integration of both spheres in consummation,

    that's why we pray for the coming of the Kingdom with thirst of final complete aboslute justice.

    Till then we must also avoid the anabaptistic pietistic tendency to withdraw from our role in this world, because we are also citizens of Civil Society, we should commit in our jobs, in our civic duties, in our marriages (also a temporary institution), in our daily activities to be a positive influence in this world.

    Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s Luke 20:25

    That’s the way I’ve been reading Kuyper, which is in my opinion quite different from the way Reconstructionists and Theonomists try to read him.
  2. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Seems to me this records a Old Covenant perspective rather than a Christian one. The missing and necessary premise is that Christianity takes the same view.

    Paul here seems to be doing nothing more than denying that he has done anything worthy of death under contemporary Roman law. Where do you see him conceding the right of Roman law to make legal judgements concerning true religion in a Constantinian sense?

    And this too does not seem to concede to the Roman magistrate the right to make legal judgements concerning the true religion for Tertullian is not advocating Constantinianism. His target is on the injustices the Roman magistrate was then committing when acting in ignorance of what Christianity is.
  3. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    There is nothing in the text about old covenants or new covenants. It contains a statement by the Lord Jesus relative to the power of the civil magistrate to judge concerning a religious matter.

    He appealed to Caesar to settle a matter which concerned the religious law of the Jews.

    "Constantinianism" might refer to a whole range of ideas, and doesn't really communicate anything precise.

    It is clear from this statement that Tertullian (1) addressed the Roman higher power to make a judgment relative to Christianity, (2) believed that those who impartially considered Christianity turned to it, and (3) rejoiced to see the State filled with Christians as an evidence of its veracity. Later history was nothing more than a materialisation of these ideals. Tertullian did not believe in the separation of church and state but urged the state to invoke its powers concerning religion on behalf of Christianity. In chapter 5, he writes, "And this, too, makes for our case, that among you divinity is allotted at the judgment of human beings." What judgment in divinity does Tertullian urge? "It should surely be judged more natural for bad men to be eradicated by good princes as being their natural enemies, than by those of a spirit kindred with their own."
  4. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Civil authorities forbid certain forms of idolatry now. Human sacrifice is outlawed. Holy war is outlawed. If civil authorities took the time to consider the claims of various religions and what they stand for we would likely see numerous religions outlawed. Law serves to protect the values of the citizens. Should a great reformation and revival overflow our lands, and many souls turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, we would expect the laws to eventually be altered to protect the values of those Christians.


    This is what they do now. Whence come "human rights?" From a religious belief that all men are created equal in the eyes of the law. Yes, indeed, that is a religious belief.

    The citizens suffer. That is the consequence of falsehood, not government.
  5. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    The statement of the Jews “We have a law and by our law he ought to die” is, I believe, a direct reference to the relevant Sinai Covenant (Old Covenant) stipulation which was Israel’s God given civil law. The civil magistrates of Israel had the God given responsibility to make legal judgements concerning true religion, but the only reason these men were appealing to Pilate is that the Roman overlords had deprived the Jewish authorities of the right to execute the death penalty.

    Yes Pilate had the power to judge a religious matter at that moment, but what is at issue is not the magistrate’s power to make such judgements, but the
    to do so.

    Where in his statement do you see Paul conceding Caesar’s right to do so? In his situation, when both he and Festus knew that some Jews had made a vow to kill him, Paul was standing before the only safe judiciary he could reach. With Festus’ reply, he knows he has no hope of Roman justice in Caesarea and his only card is to appeal to Caesar, which he plays. While Paul does deny that he has committed any offenses against Jewish law, I see nothing in his statement that concedes Festus right to judge Jewish law cases.

    In the context of this thread, I am using “Constantinism” in the sense seemingly intended by Dr. Clark that of of “civil enforcement of the first table” when he wrote:

    I am not saying that it will prove impossible to Scripturally justify civil enforcement of the first table, but if 10 years in the trenches of the Theonomy debate has taught me anything it is that if one is going to offer any justifications for contemporary state enforcement of the first table, those justifications must be provable from the decalogue (the law of nature) or Scripture by provably good and necessary consequence reasoning.

    That Tertullian addressed Rome for clemency and impartial justice is nothing more than a plea for mercy from a then de-facto persecuting state. Tertullian’s whole case is that if the Roman Governors examined Christianity honestly instead of ignorantly persecuting it, they would find no cause for offense. In fact he argues that the reason they don’t examine Christianity is that they want to continue hating it.

    Nor is Tertullian urging “the state to invoke its powers concerning religion on behalf of Christianity” when he writes, “that amongst you divinity is weighed out at human caprice." In this he says nothing about state’s rights. Rather his target is an abuse of state practice in that the laws against Christians are the result of an old decree and the results of the worst emperors. Even his comment "It should surely be judged more natural for bad men to be eradicated by good princes as being their natural enemies, than by those of a spirit kindred with their own” is not a concession of Roman right to do so. In context, his statement concludes illustrate the folly of the persecuting Roman rescripts.

    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  6. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Theonomy is the inconsistent specific reapplication of the penal law of Moses.

    Specific reapplication in that with theonomy the penal laws must be followed just as they are in the law of Moses e.g. the death penalty must be applied as was prescribed in Moses.

    in that if the theonomists were following Moses law more accurately they'd get the Church rather than the State to excommunicate its presumptiously sinning members by execution, and the mode of execution prescribed by Moses, e.g. stoning, would be followed.

    Where Christianity is the established religion, Muslims and Roman Catholics would not be threatened with death as theonomy demands but the general equity of the Mosaic law would involve the Christian state in a certain amount of prudent regulation.

    Having laws against certain forms of public blasphemy and against e.g. shops and sporting venues opening on the Sabbath, threatens no-one's civil right to change one's religion and therefore be possibly converted by grace, rather than be bounced into a false-conversion or hatred of Christianity, by the sword or bullet of the wrongheaded carnal Christian State using carnal means to do a spiritual job that is the function of the Church wielding the Sword of the Spirit.

    Unless there are religions that oblige one to work or go to football matches on Sunday or to publicly blaspheme Christianity?
  7. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Judea was under Roman occupation, which you seem to acknowledge. The appeal is to the Roman governor. There is no stipulation in this so-called "old covenant" for foreign jurisdiction. If anything, one distinctive of this "old covenant" is its nationality. Hence "cutting off" is a primary focus rather than execution.

    "Eksousia" is "authority," "right;" it is not "dunamis," ability.

    The magistrate's rule is moral, not positive. There are no special dispensations given from heaven. The basis of right is judged on moral causes, and moral is universal.

    Acts 25:10, "Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest."

    I'm not sure what theonomy has to do with this seeing as most theonomists reject establishmentarianism and are set against "statism."

    That is a part of the apology; one may not dismiss the whole in favour of a part. I've referenced his appeal to the power of the Senate to judge concerning religion. That should decide the matter irrespective of what else he has to say. He clearly grants that right to the higher powers. Read the following chapters, and it will be seen that he praises the powers that be for outlawing certain religions and faults them for their religious failures.
  8. Grillsy

    Grillsy Puritan Board Junior


    Why the ultra-large font? Kind of seems like you're yelling.
  9. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Willie, thanks very much for pointing that out. My apologies to any others who received the same imppression. I worked on my last post in another program and copied and pasted to the board and didn't realize that 7 was a large font size. I thought it was the norm.
  10. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

  11. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

  12. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Rev Winzer, again for the sake of clarity on defining your position:

    What should be the Legal Penalty / Penalties - legislated and executed by Civil Authorities - for the violations of the 1st, 2nd or 4th Commandments?

    Who could be part of those legislating assemblies - namely to make such a constitution and consequential criminal and civil laws?

    I assume non other than professing Christians could be both legislators and judicial magistrates, but then I ask.
  13. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Cesar, your assumption is based upon a misunderstanding of the establishment principle. I take it that you will allow the Westminster Confession to stand as witness to what establishmentarianism teaches. It does not only say what is the civil magistrate's duty with respect to true religion; it also teaches what is the Christian's duty towards the civil magistrate. It acknowledges civil constitutions as legitimate, and calls upon the Christian to submit to them. It also maintains that the magistrates' religious convictions do not form the basis upon which he can legitimately govern. There is not even a hint that people can be made Christians by the sword. It simply teaches that law continues to act as law in the case where people become Christian -- that is, to protect its citizens, encourage them in what is good, and discourage them from what is evil.
  14. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Rev Winzer, thank you for bearing with me. I assume this is one of the articles you mention concerning the Westminster Standards. I add the BC.

    WCF 23

    III. Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven. yet he has authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordainances of God duly settled, administrated, and observed.. For the better effecting whereof, he has power to call synods, to be present at them and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.

    BC 36

    And the government's task is not limited to caring for and watching over the public domain but extends also to upholding the sacred ministry, with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist; to promoting the kingdom of Jesus Christ; and to furthering the preaching of the gospel everywhere; to the end that God may be honored and served by everyone, as he requires in his Word.

    In 1905 the Synod of the GKN remove the following part, in 2 different translations here:

    that all idolatry and false worship may be removed and prevented, the kingdom of the Antichrist; may be destroyed.

    with a view to removing and destroying all idolatry and false worship of the Antichrist.

    Now I ask

    Is there any government in the face of the earth that is doing this mentioned above, either in the articles of the WCF or the BC pre 1905 version ?

    Is this a reasonable expectation in a secular post modern relativistic society?

    On the other hand.

    Would we accept that the Civil Magistrate would condemn and forbid abuses in worship in all Churches, our Reformed Churches included?

    If we truly hold that : yet he has authority, and it is his duty Then, we have to answer yes.

    "There is not even a hint that people can be made Christians by the sword." That is of course true.

    But it is, never the less, also stated black and white the principle that the Civil Magistrate must:

    take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire,

    that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed,

    and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administrated, and observed.

    Should we now expect and accept that a Civil Magistrate, on the duty of keeping the purity of Worship (RPW) would Forbid the Organs in our Services?

    With all due respect, I am loading the question with the kind of argument to divide the “Sinedrion”, that we may consider the implications of this.

    How about the Civil Magistrate preserving the unity in the Church, and preserving that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed.

    But of course all this would only be possible (as I mentioned and asked before) if a Civil Magistrate can tell what is True Religion and what is truly Worship in Truth.

    How about Unity, what that means in Ecclesiastical terms? There were under Hitler, Stalin or Mao Tse Tung, Authorized Single and yet False Churches.

    My concern here is that we are expecting too much and too less.

    And in in my opinion we may be shifting the pendulum back and forth from Popish Constantinianism towards an Interventioning Erastianism.

    We are expecting too much and too less from Natural Man who cannot understand the things of God but cannot avoid to understand the things of men.

    On one part we expect the Civil Magistrate to rule over certain areas of the ecclesiastical sphere and promote and preserve True Religion, and not only in the churches but in the whole of society.

    (lets remember that Calvin had to fight even for the Keys of the Kingdom to stay in the Church, away from the control of the Genevan Councils)

    Namely we may even expect as Confessional the enforcing of the 1st Table of the Law.

    all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed

    Well, that is the reason for my questions in the first post, how should Civil Authorities legislate and enforce that? How? I keep asking!

    And on the other side we fear that Civil Authorities, unless holding to the Mosaic Law as revealed in Scripture, may not be able to keep society in peace and order.

    We seem not to trust God’s Providence or the Natural Law, the Moral Law God wrote on the hearts of men, as being sufficient for the Civil Political sphere.

    Although we may perform our duties in prayer, obedience, etc see WCF 23.4 and we know that God's Providence may not always bring the Government we would humanly prefer. (see the Institutes 4.20.26-31)

    Calvin on the Institutes is also in my opinion keeping both extremes on check, sometimes getting closer to one side than the other, so it is possible to quote Calvin for different purposes, but I believe that in fact he saw the dangers of the extremisms I mentioned above.

    Calvin definitely sees the Biblical ground for dividing the Ecclesiastical and Civil spheres, to concede that because of natural Law even pagan nations had righteous laws and Providence should be accepted, providing we obbey rather God than men, both when obbeying civil authorities or when resisting persecution.

    Institutes 4.20.16

    What I have said will become plain if we attend, as we ought, to two things connected with all laws—viz. the enactment of the law, and the equity on which the enactment is founded and rests. Equity, as it is natural, cannot be the same in all, and therefore ought to be proposed by all laws, according to the nature of the thing enacted. As constitutions have some circumstances on which they partly depend, there is nothing to prevent their diversity, provided they all alike aim at equity as their end. Now, as it is evident that the law of God which we call moral, is nothing else than the testimony of natural law, and of that conscience which God has engraven on the minds of men, the whole of this equity of which we now speak is prescribed in it. Hence it alone ought to be the aim, the rule, and the end of all laws. Wherever laws are formed after this rule, directed to this aim, and restricted to this end, there is no reason why they should be disapproved by us, however much they may differ from the Jewish law, or from each other .
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011
  15. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Cesar, there are four sections in chapter 23. Please read them. They answer all the concerns you have raised.
  16. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Rev. Winzer, I assumed that you were referring to the 1647 version of the WCF 23:3 as posted above. I apologize for my wrong assumption.

    With the current Confessional binding formulation of the WCF 23:3 or for the same matter with the present version of the BC 36, I don’t see any reason to be concerned, quite the opposite.

    In my humble opinion both are very good formulations, emphasis mine.

    Concerning the revision, it was in 1788 that the (then) PCUSA adopted a different formulation of WCF 23:3, adopted later by the PCUS in 1867, the OPC in 1936, the UPCUSA in 1958, the PCA in 1973, and the now PCUSA in 1983.

    WCF 23.3

    Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and Sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in matters of faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger.

    And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief.

    It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.

    I would like to add an excerpt of Reforming Natural Law by Daryl Charles, a review of an important resource for understanding the development of Natural Law in the history of Theology.

    Stephen J. Grabill, Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics , Eerdmans, 328 pages.

    From 2 reviews, emphasis mine

    This book is both a historical and topical approach to the foundations of ethics in the Reformed tradition. Those already familiar with the historical methodology of Reinhold Seeburg, Heiko Oberman, David Steinmetz, and Richard Muller will find this survey in the history of doctrine a comfortable read. Grabill examines in detail a limited number of interrelated doctrinal topics (natural revelation, natural theology, natural law) as they were formulated by Reformed founders (Calvin, Vermigli) and developed by later successors (Zanchi, Althusius, Turretin).

    According to Grabill, it was a consensus that was shared by patristic, medieval and late-medieval, and early-modern Christian thinkers:

    the conviction that God promulgated a natural law that directs and binds human creatures; that this “law of nature” has been written on every human heart;

    that conscience and reason serve as natural lights leading people to act in accord with the natural law;

    that the Decalogue, in terms of its moral content, defines the contours of the natural law;

    that despite the pervasive effects of sin in the moral order, the natural law still yields adequate data for humans to distinguish between good and evil;

    and that, while the natural law is not sufficient for justification or redemption, it is crucial to maintaining just and well-ordered civil polities.

    Calvin himself not only inherits the natural-law tradition but also grounds his understanding in two sources: Scripture and creation. That Calvin is explicit in his affirmation of a duplex cognitio Dei makes Barth’s and contemporary Protestants’ rejection of natural-law thinking all the more remarkable. Protestants today commonly presuppose that Calvinism’s account of total depravity obscures humans’ ability to use reason rightly and therefore to discern basic good and evil. But this is not the case. Universally imprinted non-salvific knowledge of God as Creator serves as a “preconception” of God for Calvin; therefore all people are accountable for their moral agency. This conviction is predicated on human beings’ creation in the image of God and their awareness of God’s existence. While Calvin views the human heart as deceitful and implacably wicked, he observes that the imago Dei is not eradicated; otherwise, there could be no order in civil affairs whatsoever, no holding human beings to any sort of moral accountability.

    The theological system of Francis Turretin (1623–1687) is for Grabill particularly instructive. While Turretin, with the magisterial Reformers, acknowledged the role of natural revelation, he is cut in the mold of Melanchthon and Vermigli owing to his speculative philosophical method. Moreover, the precision with which he formulated Reformed doctrine in the late seventeenth century is, for Grabill, grounds enough to examine his theological system. And yet despite Turretin’s towering stature as a theologian—what one historian called a “champion and grandmaster of Reformed polemics”—his theological ethics has been strangely ignored. This absence is all the more remarkable to the extent that Turretin’s formulation of natural-law doctrine is “systematic and integrated seamlessly with the adjacent doctrines of natural revelation and natural theology.”
  17. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Christian civil rulers are to form laws suitable to their country as a result of Christian (regenerate) reflection on their place in history, and the - particularly - spiritual condition of the people, in the light of Scripture.

    But they are not morally bound to follow a specific reapplication of the Mosaic penalties, which were first of all designed for the Church under age.
  18. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    Richard, I entirely agree with you, from the Mosaic Law, the civil – judicial part was given for the political civil and judicial sphere of the Kingdom while the Ceremonial found its antitype in the finished vicarious work of Christ.

    We now retain its moral elements summarized in the Decalogue and those are morally binding and permanent.

    My aim on this thread has been to encourage a debate concerning

    1- If it is justified that we expect the Civil State to legislate and enforce the 1st Table of the Law, namely the 1st and 2nd commandment – since, as mentioned, the Civil side of the Mosaic Law was meant for legislating the Political Ethnical Territorial Kingdom.

    2 – Under the fallen state of man how can Civil Society and mankind in general still retain moral values that may inform and conform Civil Law?

    I believe this is where Natural Law plays such an important role:

    While Calvin thought this was an intrinsic part that God created in man by creating man in His image, Zanchius, who developed further all aspects of the understanding of the Law, thought that it was because of the fall and to avoid that total depravity would lead to anarchy and chaos, that God wrote Natural Law in a post-lapsarian measure, in the hearts of men.

    Differences apart, both recognize its role in the moral conscience and aims of man, both recognize that the Natural Law can’t be substantively different from the Revealed Moral Law since their legislator, God, is the same.

    3 – I believe the movement known as Theonomy, having a positive wish that society may be reformed in conformity with God’s Revealed Will, erase the distinctions between the 2 Kingdoms, the Church and Society, and retain a kind of Theology of Glory, an unreasonable expectation for justice right now, that can only find its fulfillment in the consummation of the Kingdom.

    4 – On the other side the current 2 Kingdom’s Ethics and formulation a la VanDrunen tend to confine the Kingdom of God exclusively to the Church, while Vos, Bavinck, Schilder, Ridderbos and Kuyper (although Kuyper in my opinion stretched it too much) saw the Kingdom as reaching all spheres of society and creation, through the spiritual influence of Christ through the Church, through His covenant children's commitment to reform society and through the progress of the semi-eschatological age towards consummation, like some parables reveal.

    I was expecting this debate to focus a bit more on this side of the Kingdom transforming the other kingdom.

    For instance Puritanism had a more optimistic view of the mentioned progress of the semi-eschatological age, often seen in a postmillennial victorious growth of Gospel influence in the whole fabric of society, that in my opinion shouldn’t be dismissed altogether.

    Hopefully the debate will continue.
  19. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I was referring to the 1647 version, but to the other sections of the chapter. E.g., Christian involvement when "called" to the function requires a recognition of constitutional process. "Wholesome laws" presupposes a legislative process. The reference to infidelity or difference in religion likewise upholds the legitimacy of government in the hands of non Christians. It is clear that the divines understood "Christianity" to impose superadded obligations which were for the benefit (bene esse) of magistracy but were not essential (esse) to its office and function.
  20. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    I'm not aware of any known theonomist who "erases the distinction" between church and state in the application of the law of God.

    Your argument might be more compelling if your claims were accurate.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  21. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    The First Table is not just commandments 1 and 2. It is 3 & 4 as well. Do you think the government has any interest in upholding the 4th commandment, with its pattern of working 6 days and resting 1? Even hardcore R2k-er Dr. aR.S. Clark admits so. How about the 3rd commandment and it's interest in for oaths? Of course the government has an interest in this command. The first table/second table dichotomous nonsense has been refuted so often it really is just a distraction in this discussion.

    The question is not "whether" the government has an interest in upholding the 1st table, Rather, the more challenging question is "how" it is to do so in a pluralistic society.
  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I never heard of this distinction between the first and second table of the law - that the magistrate should only concern himself with the second table - until I went on American message boards, notably the PB.

    All of these plans that Christians have for civil society are so many pipe dreams until more people are converted to Christ in our countries and Christianity is once more in the ascendency, unless Christianity is meant to progress by top-down revolutionary means.

    A society in which Christianity is in the ascendency will be more homogeneously Christian - as it was before - and less pluralistic.

    Christians have to work to transform society with the numbers and resources they have, and aim for realistic goals, whatever their ultimate goals are.

    Secularism won't be in the ascendency forever. Are there any signs that it may already be running out of steam?
  23. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I don't "seem to" acknowlege that Judea was under Roman occupation and that there was no stipulation in the Sinai covenant for foreign jurisdiction. I have alluded to both facts because they create the problem with using John 19:10 and 11 to support the thesis that contemporary governments have the God given right to regulate religious practice all all points. (Note: at one point it is clear that human goverments can step in-Gen. 9:6 prohibits human sacrifice). But if the state is going to attempt to regulate any additonal religious practice, Scriptural support is needed to support such action and John 19:10 and 11 doesn't supply it. Here's why.

    The Jews under Sinai had been granted by God the right to regulate religous practice in the promised land and they had been specifically taught what they, under God, were to approve and what they were to reject. God's commandments in this area were an exercise of his preceptive will. On the other hand, the Roman state, in common with every other contemporary or subsequent state had received no instruction from God about how religion was to be regulated. God permitted the Roman state to assume the power of regulating religion in itself and its territories, and when Israel fell under Roman occupation, Rome gained the de-facto power to overrule Jewish death sentences, something God permitted by his will of decree even though his will of precept expressed through the Sinai covenant made no provision for foreign jurisdiction having a power of review. But if God's will of decree and will of precept are known to differ, can we automatically follow his will of decree without supporting evidence from his will of precept?

    Actually "eksousia" can also mean "capability, might, power (BAGD) and was translated "power" by the KJV translators in each of the 3 times it occurs in John 19:10,11.

    If you mean that you are justifying the state regulating religious practice by reasoning from the decalogue, that is the kind of argument that needs to be made in more detail. Because if the Confession is correct that the decalogue is the moral law, this is the place to anchor such justifications.

    And where else should a Roman citizen stand when he had done no offense against either Roman or Jewish law and it was known that Jews in high places were allied to those seeking to kill him?

    The Theonomy debate in itself has nothing to do with this. What is important is the lesson the debate taught me: if Christians advocate for contemporary states to regulate religion (with the above mentioned exception) they must be certain that they can justify their stand by reasoning by good and necessary consequence from the moral law.

    Indeed he does. But he is a lawyer making a case adressing Rome's abuse of its own practices, he is not considering the underlying question of whether those practices have God's authority behind them. Even if he were making such a case, his opinion is neither apostolic nor canonical.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
  24. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    No claim has been made that "contemporary governments have the God given right to regulate religious practice." That would ascribe an in sacris (in religion) power, which would be contrary to the old "mutual two kingdoms" view. The old view is for circa sacra authority -- authority concerning religion. That is the authority which was being questioned and which I have been defending. The facts are (1) The Roman government was being asked to sustain a religious judgment, and (2) Jesus acknowledged that the right of judgment was given to the Roman government from above.

    "God permitted the Roman State" falls short of the classic teaching that the powers that be are ordained of God. This is not mere permission. "Two kingdoms" teaching of whatever variety basically acknowledges the power of the human rule in the State is God's ordinance.

    The will of precept is found in the natural law, the locus classicus of which is Rom 2:14, 15.

    Even when it means such, the connotation of the word is in the direction of "right."

    Again, there is no regulation of religious practice. See WCF 23.3. The same section clearly demonstrates the power of the magistrate circa sacra. If the Confession is correct with respect to the moral law, then the moral law includes all ten commandments, including those which pertain to religion.

    The apostle had no difficulty with the belief that the Roman authorities were competent to judge concerning a religious matter. That is the point I was making. Where he may or may not have turned is irrelevant. The "ought" is a matter of morality.

    Again, "regulate religion" misses the point at issue. The moral law includes the first four commandments.

    There was no claim of apostolical authority. Prof. Clark's post invoked a broader historical time period, so I replied with a broader historical time period. The fact is, Tertullian had no difficulty with the State's authority concerning religion. "Constantinism," however defined, did not emerge out of thin air.
  25. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    My apologies: a busy workload meant I overlooked this reply until now. To answer your question: if the moral law (decalogue) is known to every human heart (Rom. 1:18-32) it is reasonable to expect that many men with different opinions and even religious beliefs to, sooner or later comply, with contemporary applications of particular Mosaic laws that are show to be equitable despite the change in covenants.

    Paul is writing a letter to a group of Christians in a pagan state who were not the magistrate. He is not addressing the question of what the Christian magistrate should do with regard to the situation. To answer that question we must discern whether or not Scripture provides material from which we may derive the needed conclusion by good and necessary consequence reasoning.

    And although it may be suggestive that Paul doesn't suggest informing the magistrate about the situation: (does anybody know whether incest was a crime under Roman law?) aguments from silence are generally held to be not conclusive.

    ---------- Post added at 10:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:51 PM ----------

    I haven't read Van Drunen's book and so I don't know if he moves further in the direction he appears to move here. But I hope VD does not go so far as to confuse the Moral Law (decalogue) with specific Mosaic judicial laws as he appears to do here when he says that we should not "simply take the commands . . . and enforce them as such on the world at large." For if it is true that the decalogue is written on all human hearts, states would appear owe it to God to institute and enforce just laws addressing decalogue violations.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  26. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    No claim has been made that "contemporary governments have the God given right to regulate religious practice." That would ascribe an in sacris (in religion) power, which would be contrary to the old "mutual two kingdoms" view.The old view is for circa sacra authority -- authority concerning religion. That is the authority which was being questioned and which I have been defending.[/QUOTE]

    I'm more than a little confused here. It seems to me that Cesar’s original question and Rich's comment following both address erring Christian and false religious "practice".

    And then Rich made the following comments:

    Both Cesar’s question and Rich’s last statement raise the question of the state's right to judge Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Hindu practice as false, do they not?

    Not always as BAGD points out when it gives (in meaning 2.) examples which do not involve "right" eg. Rev. 9:19. BAGD pointedly observes that "it is not always possible to draw a hard and fast meaning betw. this meaning and the meaning "authority" and John 19:10, 11 is a good example of such a situation. Pilate is reasoning or possibly attempting to intimidate Christ into answering his questions. Would he intend the nuance of power or authority in such a situation, and would Christ have replied with the same nuance? But that is almost by the way.

    You are still not seeing the problem with using John 19:10,11 to argue for the state's right to advocate Constantinianism which was the proposition you attempted to defend by introducing it. While you may be able to prove whatever form of Constatinianism your original reply appeared to wish to justify against Dr. Clark's denial that the apostles or early apologists advocated Constantinism by providing biblical evidence in favour, I don't think you can get there from John 19.

    Unless you are saying the powers that be can do whatever they want without reference to God, you still have to face the question of the limits God places on state power. Although the powers that be are ordained of God, the question at issue is what is one of the God-given powers of the powers that be and how can that be Scripturally demonstrated. Using the John 19 passage to answer that question is reasoning from a particular to a general and this example is complicated by the fact that the Jews had in God's will of precept the stated punishment of death for particular decalogue violations, something no other nation had given to them by God's will of precept, and which the Romans only acquired in the case of the Jews because of Jewish abandonments of God and his covenant leading to captivities (since if the Jews had obeyed God's commands, his preceptive will, he had promised that such captivities would not happen to them). Why does Rome now have the right to exercise judgements in areas of Jewish religion when God's will of precept never gave it that right? Must we therefore legislate everything that God decrees to come to pass, even if what comes to pass contradicts aspects of his preceptive will?

    I don't have any problem with your statement that

    but it is a matter of observation that states have legislated different punishments ranging from none to death for 1st commandment violations and how do we know which (or possibly more than one) should be enacted by the Christian state and why?

    In the context of Acts 25:10 the "ought" may refer to nothing more than Paul's moral and legal right to Roman justice. He had done nothing wrong against either Jewish or Roman civil law (remember he was arrested because his enemies caused a riot) and this was known to the Governor.

    Somewhere there is a problem here. As previously noted both Cesar's original questions and Rich's comments not to mention Cesar's post 74 raise particular questions of religious practice. Either we're not using the term the same way or something else is going on. Perhaps this question will focus the issue: how can any "Christian state" wishing to be obedient to the moral law which prohibits images avoid legislating against images which falls under religious practice? Are we perhaps talking at cross purposes?

    Of course Tertullian made no claim of apostolic authority. I was referring to the significance of his opinion for us.

    The question I am trying to focus on is not whether a state has the God given right to regulate either religion or religious practice, but on what valid biblical grounds Christians may rest either such a claim or a legislative proposal to institute such regulation.

    To ground this in a real world discussion, Cesar asked a number of questions in post 74. You replied in post 75 that he would find his concerns addressed in WCF XXIII. I find it difficult to see some of his questions answered there. For example, although WCF XXIII regulates the civil magistrate's activity in the church preventing blasphemies and heresies, it does not specifically mention his responsibilities when a decalogue command is violated either inside or outside the church beyond, whether in the making of "wholesome laws" to forbid such violations or the enforcement thereof. Also, does the he in "if he shall judge them to be heretics" XXIII4 refer to the pope or to the Civil Magistrate. If the former is correct, can the civil magistrate legislate punishment upon heretics (as defined by the church)? WCF XXIII seems to leave this open.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  27. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    This follows from e.g. Christ being King of Kings and Lord of Lords
    The only question is how a Christianised government is to regulate the first two commandments while being as gentle as a dove and as wise as a serpent.

    A perusal of the histories of the regulation of those two commandments by civil government in post-Reformation England and Scotland, and other Reformation countries will give some food for thought, and some examples of how not to do things.

    E.g. A very recent example is that even political liberals in Great Britain, if they could turn the clock back to the post-war period, would prevent the influx of those of the Muslim religion into Britain. The liberals have created a rod for their own backs, and for everyone else in the country, by not distinguishing between different religions in their foolish mass immigration policy.

    How this is done wil depend upon how extensive, intensive, and homogeneous Christianity or Reformation Christianity is in a land. Otherwise we have a top down Reformed revolution without popular support. Is that true Christianity, the work of grace in the heart of a nation?

    Stephen Perks's book should have some clues as to how a Christian government should run a Christian society, although he's more theonomian than I would agree with:
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2011
  28. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    The subject topic is "two kingdoms." According to that paradigm, progressive or conservative, the State is a different sphere from the Church. Where it is recognised that the State has power "circa sacra," it is always on the understanding that the power is limited to "civil" peace and order. There is no thought that religious practice itself is to be "regulated" by the State.

    O Betz, NIDNTT 2:606, "By contrast with dynamis, where any potential strength is based on inherent physical, spiritual, or natural powers, and is exhibited in spontaneous actions, powerful deeds, and natural phenomena, exousia denotes the power which may be displayed in the areas of legal, political, social or moral affairs... For instance, it is always linked with a particular position or mandate; so that it refers to the right of a king, a father or a tenant to dispose as he wishes...; or the authorization of officials or messengers...; but also the moral freedom of people to allow or to do something."

    In John 19, the most obvious sense of "power" is that of official power since Pilate was the Roman governor to whom the Jews were presenting their case. Compared with Romans 13:1, "powers that be," it is natural to understand Jesus as referring to the political power to condemn a malefactor to death. The "right" of that power is implied in the concept of "greater sin" which is imputed to the false accusers.

    The State's "right" concerning religion is clearly stated in John 19. The Jews brought a religious charge against Jesus and Pilate is expressly told by Jesus that he had an authority from above to judge in this matter. It is as plain as plain could be.

    Please note what you have quoted me as maintaining from the beginning of this discussion:

    "Concerning" is "circa," not "in."

    I am arguing the opposite -- the powers that be may not do whatever they want without reference to God. God does place limits on state power -- they are to punish evil and promote good. Therefore God (religion) falls under the authority of the State so far as it affects the civil realm.

    In the realm of natural law, Rom. 1:32 makes it plain that "death" is understood as just and reasonable for "haters of God." Rom. 13:4 legitimises the use of the sword -- an instrument of death; therefore death is understood to be a legitimate punishment. It does not mean it is a necessary punishment. Discretion and the aim of maintaining civil order will regulate the particular punishment.

    The apostle invoked his "moral and legal right" in a religious matter. That is all that is needed to demonstrate the point under discussion.

    As you quoted from one of my previous posts, "concerning religion" is the point I have been maintaining. The distinction between circa sacra and in sacris is fundamental to the "two kingdoms" differentiation.

    In the context of a claim relative to the early centuries of Christianity, it is obvious that Tertullian acknowledges the power of the State concerning religious matters. So that at least settles this part of Prof. Clark's statement. Constantinism, however defined, is not a momentary lapse, but can be shown to have precedents in Christian writings prior to its advent.
  29. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you. We are using different words for the same thing. I thought it might be something like that. But let me put a hypothetical case to make sure if I understand you correctly: if America's Christian voters all voted in favour of candidates who a) took an explicitly confesssional position on civil govermnent and b) were all elected to a majority in House, Senate and the Presidency, their just legislation of religious matters would be limited to such measures that would preserve civil peace and order and they would not be within their confessional boundaries if the legislated the death penalty for 1st commandment violations. And if a DA then charged, tried and convicted the President of the Latter Day Saints of blasphemy under the new law and jury sentenced him accordingly, would these people be acting unConfessionally?

    If your answer is that such action from legislators and jurors would be unconfessional, I would think that this would have given you an additional reason not to use the John 19 passage in this context. For, if your reading of that passage is correct, It seems to me it does more than you want it to in that it allows not only the civil government the right of capital punishment to preserve "civil peace and order;" but does so in cases where the offense is false religious teaching. And as such it is a de facto regulation of religious practice.

    O Betz, NIDNTT 2:606, "By contrast with dynamis, where any potential strength is based on inherent physical, spiritual, or natural powers, and is exhibited in spontaneous actions, powerful deeds, and natural phenomena, exousia denotes the power which may be displayed in the areas of legal, political, social or moral affairs... For instance, it is always linked with a particular position or mandate; so that it refers to the right of a king, a father or a tenant to dispose as he wishes...; or the authorization of officials or messengers...; but also the moral freedom of people to allow or to do something." [/QUOTE]

    Betz seems to have missed the usage of exousia as in Rev. 9:19 where the "exousia" of the giant locusts seems to be focused entirely on the physical ability to cause pain for 5 months. There is certainly no "moral right" here.

  30. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    All human power is (1) ordained by God, to (2) be for and over the people. If a nation has become predominantly Christian there is no reason why their predominantly Christian values should not be upheld in the civil sphere by the God-ordained means. That includes making laws which prohibit the open practice of religions threatening the values of the people. Whichever way we look at it, "religious indifference" is not possible because "religious values" add to the quality of the person and his actions. The only way religious indifference can become functional is by outlawing the political and social expression of religious values, which is what we see coming into focus at the present time. It is evident that this non-religious commitment turns out to be (1) the expression of commitment to another religion, namely, humanistic relativism, and (2) is discriminatory against the socio-political practice of every religion.

    To answer your hypothetical -- conditions might hypothetically require the full force of the law to be carried out against the blasphemy. With treason, a verbal attack is taken as a serious threat against the State, and is punished accordingly. When God is acknowledged as the fountain of power in the State it is not difficult to see how blasphemy might be regarded as an even greater threat to the well-being of the State. That is for the people and its leaders to decide in a constitutional manner. It is the duty of all people within the State to abide by its laws, and to protest in a civil and orderly manner. The same would apply to blasphemy laws.

    I'm perfectly comfortable using John 19 according to its plain and common meaning.

    Given that Revelation is a symbolical book, and the fact that the symbols are often applicable to human institutions and actions, I don't think there is any difficulty here.

    I am quite happy to deal with the proper limits "God" place on state power. It is obvious, however, that "God" does not demand a "non-religious" use of such power.

    I have no problem with that. It is the word of God and cannot be broken.
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