Dietary Laws

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VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
I am curious where theonomists on this board stand on the issue of the binding nature of the Old Testament dietary laws. As is well-known R.J. Rushdoony, the 'father of theonomy,' advocated that they are binding today (Law and Society, p. 702). Gary North and many other theonomists argue that they are not binding today (see http://freebooks.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/html/gnbd/Chapter21.htm). There is clearly a division amongst theonomists on this point.

I view them as part of the ceremonial laws, which were abrogated in the New Testament. Where stand ye?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Rushdoony held (wrongly, I believe) to the dietary laws because he could not fully escape his Armenian/Old World heritage (ie, living in a primitive, Middle Eastern culture, some things are harder to give up). Theonomist Jim Jordan critiqued Rushdoony on that part.

Anyway, I would call Rushdoony the Father of Christian Reconstruction, Bahnse the Father of Theonomy.
 

Saiph

Puritan Board Junior
Acts 10:13-15

And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."
And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Saiph
Acts 10:13-15

And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."
And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."

I agree that this passage provides clear teaching that the dietary laws are no longer binding on believers. All food is created by God is to be received with thanksgiving.

Rushdoony specifically addresses this passage and comes to a different conclusion. North deals with Rushdoony on this point here: http://freebooks.entrewave.com/freebooks/docs/html/gnbd/Chapter21.htm

I still wonder what theonomists in particular and others say as to whether the dietary laws were ceremonial or judicial - thoughts?
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Andrew,

Could you provide a working definition of judicial and ceremonial laws? Feel free to quote the WCF and give examples but I'm really looking for something like that the ceremonial laws are laws that typify Christ and his atoning work...

I know that there are either disagreements or misunderstandings between how the law cake gets sliced. Trying to untangle the mess myself.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by crhoades
Andrew,

Could you provide a working definition of judicial and ceremonial laws? Feel free to quote the WCF and give examples but I'm really looking for something like that the ceremonial laws are laws that typify Christ and his atoning work...

I know that there are either disagreements or misunderstandings between how the law cake gets sliced. Trying to untangle the mess myself.

Sure. It's always good to understand the terminology under discussion.

To start with, I'll refer to the Westminster Confession, Chap. XIX:

III. Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to give to the people of Israel, as a church under age, ceremonial laws, containing several typical ordinances, partly of worship, prefiguring Christ, His graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly, holding forth divers instructions of moral duties. All which ceremonial laws are now abrogated, under the New Testament.

IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

Basically, as I see the distinction, ceremonial laws are those temporal regulations given by God through Moses which cover the system of sacrifices and temple worship and which point to Christ's sacrifice; whereas, judicial laws are those temporal civil regulations given by God through Moses to the nation of Israel as a political entity. The dietary laws, in my view, appear to be a subset of the former (ceremonial) because they have to do with "clean" and "unclean" states of being which is very much tied in with Jewish worship. Those are my working definitions. They can be refined if need be, but that is where I am when using these terms.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
So does anyone besides Rushdoony argue that the dietary laws are still binding? Does anyone argue that they are part of the judicial law as opposed to the ceremonial?
 

andreas

Puritan Board Sophomore
The law of God is always standing.God gave us His law,and there is nothing to say that He changed His mind and the law is no longer binding.The fundamental principle is that, we obey the law IN Christ who fulfilled the law for us.If you are IN Christ,then the law has already been fulfilled for you.

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:17

andreas.:candle:
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by andreas
The law of God is always standing.God gave us His law,and there is nothing to say that He changed His mind and the law is no longer binding.The fundamental principle is that, we obey the law IN Christ who fulfilled the law for us.If you are IN Christ,then the law has already been fulfilled for you.

"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:17

andreas.:candle:

Is it your position, then, that the dietary laws are still binding?
 

andreas

Puritan Board Sophomore
***Is it your position, then, that the dietary laws are still binding?***

Christ fullfilled every iota of the law,once and for all.In Him and only in Him we also fullfilled the law.
andreas.:candle:
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by andreas
***Is it your position, then, that the dietary laws are still binding?***

Christ fullfilled every iota of the law,once and for all.In Him and only in Him we also fullfilled the law.
andreas.:candle:

So...are you going to answer the question or not? Earlier, you said, that "The law of God is always standing.God gave us His law,and there is nothing to say that He changed His mind and the law is no longer binding." I can't tell whether you are saying the dietary laws are still binding or not. Please answer. Otherwise, what the point of this discussion?
 

andreas

Puritan Board Sophomore
Not everything is "binding" on Christians under the New Testament. The necessity of sacrifices was fulfilled when Jesus died on the cross. When Christ said: "It is finished," he died once for all our sins,so the sacrificial laws have been fulfilled once for all. Other laws not considered binding have to do with cleanness and uncleanness, dietary laws, feast days, and religious ceremonies. These are still valid, and have meaning, but they have been fulfilled through Christ's death .
andreas.:candle:
 

SmokingFlax

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'm not exactly sure where I stand on this issue...I've waivered in my years as a Christian between the two views here. Simply the wisdom of the health benefits alone gives me reason to seriously consider the dietary laws.

Even so, I think that the passage quoted above (Acts 10:13-15) is a poor defense for the abolition of the dietary laws. Peter himself gives his interpretation of the vision later in Acts 1O.

17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant...

It seems to me that this verse suggests that Peter didn't think that the vision was so cut and dry about dietary laws.

24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.
26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."
27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together.
28 Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

I'm totally persuaded that chapter 10 of Acts is all about the breaking forth of the Gospel unto the Gentiles and not at all about the dietary laws. The progression of the Gospel is just as was commanded...to Judaea (Acts 1-7) and Samaria (Acts 8) ...to the ends of the earth (Acts 9 -saul the 'Apostle to the Gentiles' is converted)...Acts 10 Peter (and the rest of the Apostles) hardline Jewish perception of Gentiles as dogs is being demolished by God.
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Interesting.

Andrew,

I think that another essential component of the ceremonial laws that you left out are the ritualistic ethic partition between Jew and Gentile. That's category that the dietary laws fall into. The diet kept the Jews clean from the covenantally wayward goyim. This is precisely what Christopher is missing in his objection to the abrogation of the dietary laws in my opinion. the dietary laws were the symbols for the divide between the clean and unclean, part of the Jew/Gentile partition.

I say this as someone who was once quite sympathetic to the continuing force of the ritual law. I used to walk around calling Jesus "Y'shua" exculsively, and I would sneer at the smell of pork sausage. But thankfully we as beleivers are no longer bound to the elementary principles of the world: "don't touch, don't taste".



[Edited on 27-11-2004 by Ianterrell]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Acts 10, in my view, uses the occasion of illustrating the abolition of the dietary laws, which are ceremonial in nature, to reveal the larger truth that the gospel is now going forth to all Gentiles as well as the Jews. The wall of partition is indeed broken down between Jews and Gentiles but the specific occasion for showing this to Peter has to do with dietary laws. The principle that we should not call common that which God has called clean is a major revelation in terms of the break between OT ceremonial religion and NT worship in spirit and in truth. But it also has application in a number of other areas involving Christian liberty and the use of the things of this world.
 

SmokingFlax

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'd say the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 is a far better and more conclusive example to use for the abolition of the dietary laws.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Acts 10 involved private revelation from God and then public application of the principle in a tangible way by an Apostle. Acts 15 involved presbyterian church government at its best in making application of the principle by rendering judgment in light of what God had done in the church and what barriers the gospel message had broken down.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Another significant NT verse dealing with this issue prior to Acts is Matthew 15.11:

(Jesus said) Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.
 

SmokingFlax

Puritan Board Sophomore
The thing that I've never been able to understand in light of Matt. 15:11 is...For what purpose did the dietary restrictions serve in the first place???

Simply for health reasons? As an example of separation/sanctification from uncleanness?

I've never come across an answer that fully satisfies and doesn't make God look totally arbitrary.
 

cupotea

Puritan Board Junior
Originally posted by SmokingFlax
The thing that I've never been able to understand in light of Matt. 15:11 is...For what purpose did the dietary restrictions serve in the first place???

Simply for health reasons? As an example of separation/sanctification from uncleanness?

I've never come across an answer that fully satisfies and doesn't make God look totally arbitrary.

Here's an unsatisfactory answer: that's one of God's mysteries which we don't get to know.
 
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