Establishment Principle

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Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
I'm seeing two differing uses of the word establishmentarian; is it to establish the Church (Kingdom of Christ) regardless of the surrounding nation, or to establish a Kingdom of Christ which includes both the Church and the surrounding nation? I understand establishment theocrats as those desirous of the latter; that is how the term is applied to ISIS for example, or the Wahab who desire an Islamic caliphate, a blending of church and state, with separate clergy and magistrates, and sharia - theocratic and theonomic. I've a background in Islam, and comparatives, and so I am using my terms from that perspective.

Its been argued that the magisterial reformers were non-theonomic theocrats; theocrats in that Christ is actual king over all earthly and heavenly matters, but non-theonomic in that they did not argue for the establishment of eternal law in temporal kingdoms (i.e. Mosaic law passed away with Mosaic polity, American law will pass away with American polity). The WCF for example therefore cannot be binding on the magistrate, if the temporal polity does not recognize the authority of the WCF. And the magistrate therefore will neither promote true religion nor punish heresy or idolatry, nor would we want them to. The WA may have been establishmentarian, but when put together with a non-theonomic position, it may have been more of an ideal, than a requirement. 25 suggests that those of us in the Kingdom of Christ know we are bound to the eternal law; Romans 13 indicates we are likewise bound to the temporal law of the polity in which we find ourselves, as God has ordained the magistrate even when he is not himself a citizen of the Kingdom of Christ. The American Experiment In my humble opinion is the best compromise - a secular temporal polity which is bound by Constitution from meddling in the Kingdom of Christ because of an a priori position on the reality of an Eternal (Natural) Law over which Christ is King. For me to take an oath to support and defend said Constitution is both non-theonomic and theocratic short of establishmentarian, and not dependent on the eternal citizenship of the magistrate.

I started this thread so that we would not further derail the other thread.

So, a few things need to be distinguished and clarified.

1) You continue to say the “eternal law”. Are you referring to the moral law? The WCF gives the classic reformed distinction of the three fold division: Moral (WCF 19.1-2), Cermonial (WCF 19.3), and Judicial (WCF 19.4).

2) Natural Law is the moral law. Anthony Burgess is one of the better treatise on this subject in his work “Vindicatiin of the Moral Law”. So, when you refer to Romans 13 as God commanding us to obey secular government, are you suggesting they are right to make any law contrary to the moral law?

3) The WCF rightly states “The moral law doth forever bind all” (19.5). This would include the magistrate.

4) I need you to define Theonomy (it’s a loaded term with many definitions).

5) what is a non-theonomic theocrat? Have you read Calvin’s Institutes on the civil magistrate?
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