Nations or Individuals?

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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


The Greek grammar indicates rather clearly that the nations are to be made into Christ's disciples: panta ta enthnae. All of the nations of the earth. It is not make disciples from people among the nations, but make disciples of the nations themselves. Anything short of this is a disobedient form of evangelism.

So is the focus to be political and National instead of seeking to disciple and baptise individuals?

Is the Churches focus in the wrong place?
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


The Greek grammar indicates rather clearly that the nations are to be made into Christ's disciples: panta ta enthnae. All of the nations of the earth. It is not make disciples from people among the nations, but make disciples of the nations themselves. Anything short of this is a disobedient form of evangelism.

So is the focus to be political and National instead of seeking to disciple and baptise individuals?

Is the Churches focus in the wrong place?

Given that you can't baptize a nation, and disciple a nation, but you do this with people OF the nations (or rather individuals OF the peoples - ethne) this assertion is ludicrous. It's a highly forced interpretation.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mr. Snyder,

It appears to me that the decline of Christendom in missions can be traced to the shift from covenantal evangelism to individualist evangelism.

I don't frankly think that the two are at odds with each other, or mutually exclusive. However, I do think that the modern missions movement, since the early 1800's, and especially since the rise of dispensationalism, has tended to miss the national focus of missions in favor of the individual focus.

One example of a Puritan Missionary, with a focus clearly given in the Great Commission, would be John Elliot. He ministered to the Indian tribes, and taught them a biblical form of civil government as well. Here's his book on the subject:

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1021&context=libraryscience

The tried and true form of evangelism that changed the barbarous tribes of the Kelts, the Angles, the Norsmen, the Tutons, the Picts and many more into Christian nations was that spelled out in the Great Commission. The rise of secularism and communism has come in those nations not discipled to observe everything Christ has commanded us.

Cheers,

Adam




Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.


The Greek grammar indicates rather clearly that the nations are to be made into Christ's disciples: panta ta enthnae. All of the nations of the earth. It is not make disciples from people among the nations, but make disciples of the nations themselves. Anything short of this is a disobedient form of evangelism.

So is the focus to be political and National instead of seeking to disciple and baptise individuals?

Is the Churches focus in the wrong place?
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Todd,

I was simply translating. My translation may be wrong, but the sentence Christ gave makes the direct object of the teaching and baptising to be the nations. The subject of the sentence is "You all" (2nd person plural), the verb is "Make Disciples", and the direct object is "all the nations". It is accusative, neuter, plural. As you may well know, the accusative case means that it is the direct object of the sentence, meaning that Christ told the disciples to make disciples of the nations, and then He commanded them to baptize them, and teach them to observe all that He has taught us.

I agree that the interpretation of the passage requires household baptisms, as a nation is nothing more than an overgrown household, but that is giving an interpretation rather than just translating.

If you can give some insight into the grammar of the passage, then perhaps we can discuss whose interpretation is right. However, please refrain from calling a translation a "highly forced interpretation", since I was merely translating, and it appears that you were performing the interpretation.

Cheers,

Adam



Given that you can't baptize a nation, and disciple a nation, but you do this with people OF the nations (or rather individuals OF the peoples - ethne) this assertion is ludicrous. It's a highly forced interpretation.
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry Adam, but I believe your hermeneutic is flawed. I do believe we can call upon the governing persons to repent and submit to the Authority of God. I believe the intent of the passage is that one needs to go to all εθνη (Ethnos) (not just to the Isrealites) and preach the Gospel. Governmental systems should promote the Gospel and that the governing authorities should submit to Christ as Lord but I think your grammatical stance doesn't take into consideration the context and understanding that individuals are redeemed and not political systems. Political systems can be Reformed but not redeemed. The Gospel is not the redemption of politics but the redemption of people of every Nation.

I do note that μαθητευσατε (make disciples) and διδασκοντες (teach) are different words.

I see Matthew's fulfillment of this in the following verses.

(Rev 5:9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;


(Rev 7:9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
(Rev 7:10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
I agree that the focus on 'all nations' in the Great Commission is to be read in contrast to the previous focus of God’s religion solely on the Jewish nation. In addition, if we look at the bible example of how the apostles carried out this instruction in the book of Acts, I believe it shows the apostles did focus their evangelism on individuals or families within the various nations they went to, rather than on the nations as a whole.

Also, in Rev 5:9 which PuritanCovenanter quoted above, the redeemed praise God for redeeming them out of every … nation. Again, I see an emphasis on God saving individuals (or families) out of the nations, rather than the nations themselves.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mr. Snyder,

Thank you for digging into this important passage, and bringing some good thoughts for us to consider.

First, the intent of the passage ought to be judged, as you rightly point out, by the context and by what it says.

You stated "I believe the intent of the passage is that one needs to go to all εθνη (Ethnos) (not just to the Isrealites) and preach the Gospel."

Generally the intention of a particular clause can be seen by the emphasis placed in the original writing. For instance, the main verb in Matthew 28:19 will be the key for unlocking what Jesus intended to say.

The main verb in this passage is <<math-ae-tou-sah-tae>>, "make disciples". The verb, "having gone" (an aorist participle) is used to modify the main verb, "make disciples". Teaching and baptising are likewise participles used to describe the main verb. Thus, at least grammatically, making disciples is the intent of the passage, and everything else revolves around that.

It is also noteworthy that the Apostle Paul had several different methods he would employ in each locality he came to. One, go into the synagogue. Two, go to the market place (the center of philosophy, commerce and government). Three, go to the magistrates.

For instance, Paul sought to convert Sergius Paulus. He likewise sought the conversion of Felix, the ruling council of Athens, and ultimately of Caesar himself, and the Praetorian Guard.

The point I am making is not that individuals are not to be the target of evangelism, or that "politics are to be redeemed". What I'm saying, however, is that we keep the goal in mind which Christ gave us, then our evangelism will not be exclusively personal, and will reach beyond the individual to man's life in every area: self-government, church government, family government, civil government, and so forth. I think we're basically saying something very similar. Let me assure you that I don't think that this ought to decay into the social gospel. In fact, historically, it was once these methods were dropped (conversion of entire nations being the goal) THEN the social gospel became rampant.

If we take a merely personal approach to evangelism, then I believe, based on this and many other passages, than we miss one of the glories of the New Covenant: the Holy Commonwealth being for all the Gentiles, and not just for Jews any longer.

Cheers,

Adam






Sorry Adam, but I believe your hermeneutic is flawed. I do believe we can call upon the governing persons to repent and submit to the Authority of God. I believe the intent of the passage is that one needs to go to all εθνη (Ethnos) (not just to the Isrealites) and preach the Gospel. Governmental systems should promote the Gospel and that the governing authorities should submit to Christ as Lord but I think your grammatical stance doesn't take into consideration the context and understanding that individuals are redeemed and not political systems. Political systems can be Reformed but not redeemed. The Gospel is not the redemption of politics but the redemption of people of every Nation.

I do note that μαθητευσατε (make disciples) and διδασκοντες (teach) are different words.

I see Matthew's fulfillment of this in the following verses.

(Rev 5:9) And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;


(Rev 7:9) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
(Rev 7:10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Usually missionaries (even Puritan missionaries like John Elliot and others) have targetted distinct ethno-linguistic groups, ethne (i.e. a distinct tongue, tribe, nation). Rev 5 seems to speak of individual ethnic groups being targetted and God's plan to redeem some from each of these ethnic groups. The modern nation states is not in view here in the Great Commission.

This is what leads modern missionaries to institute Adopt-A-People Programs and to research and target the "Least-Reached" peoples of the world.

We evangelize as we GO, but we intentionally go where none are discipled.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Pergamum,

Good point! The modern nation state is a hegelian invention.

It is interesting, however, that Dr. Livingston's vision (whom you quote) was one of total conquest of all of the nations of Africa. Conversion of each tribe on a tribal as well as individual level. Commerce, ending the slave trade, healing disease and evangelism; this was his discipleship method.

Cheers,

Adam


Usually missionaries (even Puritan missionaries like John Elliot and others) have targetted distinct ethno-linguistic groups, ethne (i.e. a distinct tongue, tribe, nation). Rev 5 seems to speak of individual ethnic groups being targetted and God's plan to redeem some from each of these ethnic groups. The modern nation states is not in view here in the Great Commission.

This is what leads modern missionaries to institute Adopt-A-People Programs and to research and target the "Least-Reached" peoples of the world.

We evangelize as we GO, but we intentionally go where none are discipled.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Yes, I love Livingstone despite his shortcomings.


And Yes, I agree about the Hegelian invention thing (though I wouldn't blame Hegel so much for it.....I am really not sure what the one MAIN factor in forming the modern nation state is....possibly the Reformation and Wars of Religion helped).

And yes I believe that missionary influence will yield societal affects. The ending of infanticide, tribal murder, and revenge killings is an aim that is dear to my heart here.


I do agree with you that individuals MIGHT not be the main focus of the Biblical texts.

The focus is, from Rev 5, tongues, tribes and nations in the origianl sense of ethne. This indicates people clusters and affinity blocs and ethnic groups, not countries - and thus we avoid any civil religon, theonomy or social gospel, but we target ethno-linguistic groups, break doen and translate the Bible into their languages and encourage local evangelists to spread the Gospel to the furthest extent of every people-group boundary.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Mark Li might be right that nations might merely mean "the gentiles," i.e., one bloc of people the goyam. But from Rev 5, it appears that nations is not one mass but many masses, many nations (ethne) that are the same as the many tongues, tribes and nations of Rev 5.

The goal of the Great Commission is towards all the world (i.e. not just the Jews), but it is also towards the uttermost parts of the earth as well and not merely the Gentiles in general, but all the Gentiles - those near and far. Thus, the Great Commission is not yet fulfilled and our focus is not merely to reach Gentiles in general (as a generic mass, the goyam) but every tongue tribe and nation of those Gentiles with the Gospel.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Pergamum,

So is it your opinion that civil religion, such as that proposed under Moses and some of the Puritans and as contained in the original Westminster Confession, and as practiced/invisioned by David Livingstone is somehow a form of the social gospel, or were you merely listing them as guilty associates? If these are part of the social gospel, then it is no gospel at all, correct?

Cheers,

Adam



This indicates people clusters and affinity blocs and ethnic groups, not countries - and thus we avoid any civil religon, theonomy or social gospel, but we target ethno-linguistic groups, break doen and translate the Bible into their languages and encourage local evangelists to spread the Gospel to the furthest extent of every people-group boundary.
 
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satz

Puritan Board Senior
Mark Li might be right that nations might merely mean "the gentiles," i.e., one bloc of people the goyam. But from Rev 5, it appears that nations is not one mass but many masses, many nations (ethne) that are the same as the many tongues, tribes and nations of Rev 5.

The goal of the Great Commission is towards all the world (i.e. not just the Jews), but it is also towards the uttermost parts of the earth as well and not merely the Gentiles in general, but all the Gentiles - those near and far. Thus, the Great Commission is not yet fulfilled and our focus is not merely to reach Gentiles in general (as a generic mass, the goyam) but every tongue tribe and nation of those Gentiles with the Gospel.

hmmm...

I did not mean to say that the focus of the great commission is on a generic block of people, in fact I would generally agree with your post here.

My point was simply that when Christ used the term 'the nations' it seems to me he used it to show specifically that the gospel was now to go out to all peoples as opposed to solely the jews. He did not mean that evangelism was to be directed towards peoples as political or national entities as opposed to individuals (or families).
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mark,

It seems to me that the basic point of disagreement is that we are using a different context to interpret Matthew 28. I believe that, by comparing scripture with scripture, we may reason out what exactly Christ meant by the Great Commission. Since I have given what I understand Matthew 28 to say, let me explain what I believe the context is.

If I'm not mistaken, when the Scriptures use Jew/Israel vs. Gentile, it brings us right back to nations vs. the non-chosen in the books of Genesis - Deuteronomy. For instance, the promise to Abraham that all "families" (Gen 12:3), and all "nations" (Gen 18:18 and 22:18) would be blessed in his seed.

Contrast this with the division of the nations at the Tower of Babel (Gen 11), and the specific description God gave to the sons of Jacob:

Deut 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. 8 When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. 9 For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.


I would argue that this is the context of Matthew 28. Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise: all families and all nations would be blessed in Him. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Thus, when Jesus talks about the nations becoming His disciples, He's casting their minds back to the division of the nations, and the peculiar people being chosen, which the New Covenant gloriously alters by calling all of the Gentiles into the same relationship which once exclusively belonged to Israel.

Here are some prophecies about the New Covenant which explicitly confirm that it is actual nations (such as Israel) that would be called by Messiah:


Isaiah 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. 19 In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. 20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. 21 And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. 22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them. 23 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. 24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: 25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.


Note well, v. 19 is parallel language to what God established in Israel: the temple with its altar and the pillar of reminder. Notice the covenant language which was once exclusively used for Israel; it is now applied to Egypt and Assyria as CIVIL BODIES POLITIC. The relationship that God once had exclusively with Israel is now had with Egypt and Assyria (representative of all nations, as the promise to Abraham and the Great Commission make clear). Calvin (volume 2 of his commentary on Isaiah, pages 68 – 84) and the “The Westminster Annotations and Commentary on the Whole Bible” (as published by SWRB; vol 4 of 6, in re) both agree that this passage refers to nations as political bodies. Calvin argues that Egypt and Assyria are chosen to represent all nations; the two worst enemies of Israel being chosen for emphasis.

If we say that God doesn't want to see all nations made into His disciples, it would appear to be the result of preconceived notions about what scripture ought to say versus what it does, in fact, say. It seems that scripture is replete with declarations by Moses, the Prophets and the Apostles, such as those quoted by Isaiah. I don’t believe that it is legitimate to spiritualize such texts without very good reason. Passages from Isaiah could be multiplied confirming the same thing: Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and all kings and judges must rule under Him, since all authority in heaven AND UPON THE EARTH has been given to Him.

Again, as mentioned previously, I don't take personal and national evangelism to be mutually exclusive. However, I do think that it is rebellion against the plain declarations of scripture for missionaries to confine their discipleship to individuals or even families, rather than discipling the entire nation to which they are sent.

And this brings us back to where this all began. The Solemn League & Covenant was meant to lead to such a form of national discipleship in the three kingdoms, and to lead to the fulfillment in said kingdoms of the promises given in Isaiah 19 that they would all speak with one tongue, and serve and worship God together. This was the puritan understanding, and this, by God's grace, is my understanding. I think I'm in good company.

Cheers,

Adam




Mark Li might be right that nations might merely mean "the gentiles," i.e., one bloc of people the goyam. But from Rev 5, it appears that nations is not one mass but many masses, many nations (ethne) that are the same as the many tongues, tribes and nations of Rev 5.

The goal of the Great Commission is towards all the world (i.e. not just the Jews), but it is also towards the uttermost parts of the earth as well and not merely the Gentiles in general, but all the Gentiles - those near and far. Thus, the Great Commission is not yet fulfilled and our focus is not merely to reach Gentiles in general (as a generic mass, the goyam) but every tongue tribe and nation of those Gentiles with the Gospel.

hmmm...

I did not mean to say that the focus of the great commission is on a generic block of people, in fact I would generally agree with your post here.

My point was simply that when Christ used the term 'the nations' it seems to me he used it to show specifically that the gospel was now to go out to all peoples as opposed to solely the jews. He did not mean that evangelism was to be directed towards peoples as political or national entities as opposed to individuals (or families).
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Ah, so this thread is not really about evangelizing groups of people but mainly about the SL and C again?


Where is Assyria and Ephraim right now? Where are the Midianites and Cush?

Hard to evangelize these nations as nations, much like many other "nations" mentioned in the Bible if these are to be taken as present polictical entities.


Missionaries evangelize "nations" all the time.


They evangelize nations in the form of ethne, clear ethno-linguistic groups.

In fact, that is a normal practice of missions today, live among one ethne, learn that ethne's language and translate the Bible and evangelize this whole ethne. Regardless of what political country that ethne lives in. Indonesia for instance has what seems to be 127 distinct ethno-linguistic groups that still do not yet have a church established among them as a people.... let's start evangelizing those nations!
 

mshingler

Puritan Board Freshman
Mark,

It seems to me that the basic point of disagreement is that we are using a different context to interpret Matthew 28. I believe that, by comparing scripture with scripture, we may reason out what exactly Christ meant by the Great Commission. Since I have given what I understand Matthew 28 to say, let me explain what I believe the context is.

If I'm not mistaken, when the Scriptures use Jew/Israel vs. Gentile, it brings us right back to nations vs. the non-chosen in the books of Genesis - Deuteronomy. For instance, the promise to Abraham that all "families" (Gen 12:3), and all "nations" (Gen 18:18 and 22:18) would be blessed in his seed.

Contrast this with the division of the nations at the Tower of Babel (Gen 11), and the specific description God gave to the sons of Jacob:

Deut 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. 8 When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. 9 For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.


I would argue that this is the context of Matthew 28. Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise: all families and all nations would be blessed in Him. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Thus, when Jesus talks about the nations becoming His disciples, He's casting their minds back to the division of the nations, and the peculiar people being chosen, which the New Covenant gloriously alters by calling all of the Gentiles into the same relationship which once exclusively belonged to Israel.

Here are some prophecies about the New Covenant which explicitly confirm that it is actual nations (such as Israel) that would be called by Messiah:


Isaiah 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction. 19 In that day shall there be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to the LORD. 20 And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt: for they shall cry unto the LORD because of the oppressors, and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them. 21 And the LORD shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the LORD in that day, and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yea, they shall vow a vow unto the LORD, and perform it. 22 And the LORD shall smite Egypt: he shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the LORD, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them. 23 In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. 24 In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: 25 Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.


Note well, v. 19 is parallel language to what God established in Israel: the temple with its altar and the pillar of reminder. Notice the covenant language which was once exclusively used for Israel; it is now applied to Egypt and Assyria as CIVIL BODIES POLITIC. The relationship that God once had exclusively with Israel is now had with Egypt and Assyria (representative of all nations, as the promise to Abraham and the Great Commission make clear). Calvin (volume 2 of his commentary on Isaiah, pages 68 – 84) and the “The Westminster Annotations and Commentary on the Whole Bible” (as published by SWRB; vol 4 of 6, in re) both agree that this passage refers to nations as political bodies. Calvin argues that Egypt and Assyria are chosen to represent all nations; the two worst enemies of Israel being chosen for emphasis.

If we say that God doesn't want to see all nations made into His disciples, it would appear to be the result of preconceived notions about what scripture ought to say versus what it does, in fact, say. It seems that scripture is replete with declarations by Moses, the Prophets and the Apostles, such as those quoted by Isaiah. I don’t believe that it is legitimate to spiritualize such texts without very good reason. Passages from Isaiah could be multiplied confirming the same thing: Jesus is King of kings, and Lord of lords, and all kings and judges must rule under Him, since all authority in heaven AND UPON THE EARTH has been given to Him.

Again, as mentioned previously, I don't take personal and national evangelism to be mutually exclusive. However, I do think that it is rebellion against the plain declarations of scripture for missionaries to confine their discipleship to individuals or even families, rather than discipling the entire nation to which they are sent.

And this brings us back to where this all began. The Solemn League & Covenant was meant to lead to such a form of national discipleship in the three kingdoms, and to lead to the fulfillment in said kingdoms of the promises given in Isaiah 19 that they would all speak with one tongue, and serve and worship God together. This was the puritan understanding, and this, by God's grace, is my understanding. I think I'm in good company.

Cheers,

Adam


I believe we have to remember that God took the Israelites and made them into a unique nation, to be a people for His name and His purposes. When God promised that, one day, Gentile nations would be united to Israel and would know the Lord, it was not that there would now be a whole group of chosen "nations" but that the nations (ethne) would be joined to the one nation - the one people of God. Peter indicates the fulfillment of that promise in 1Pet. 2:9-10: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." In other words, the church, made up now of Jews and Gentiles who represent many different peoples, form one spiritual nation - one people of God. The Gentiles Peter is writing to were still part of a separate political entity which had not been converted to Christianity, at least at that point in history. Yet they were simultaneously part of the one true Israel of God. So, In my humble opinion, I don't think the fulfillment of the Isa. 19 passage or other similar passages requires the conversion of any political/national entity but refers to Gentiles of the nations who are joined to the spiritual people of God.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mr. Shingler,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my post!

Would you say then that the many passages which discuss nations, whether the Great Commission, or Isaiah's multiple prophecies, or the prophecies in Moses, or the Psalms, etc. even though they name specific nations as representative of the original people groups divided from Israel, yet we should spiritualize these passages?

Is this because you believe there are compelling reasons to interpret such passages other than as they are written? For instance, the Peter passage is quoting a theocratic passage, and this kingdom of priests was intended to be a light to all of the other nations on earth. To me, that may be compelling, but I am interested in learning more about what would help you to understand the multitude of national passages in an ecclesiastical sense.

Also, I see that you are SBC, but do you think that Calvin and the Westminster Divines were misguided in interpreting these as "national", and in seeking to build Christendom?

Cheers,


Adam





I believe we have to remember that God took the Israelites and made them into a unique nation, to be a people for His name and His purposes. When God promised that, one day, Gentile nations would be united to Israel and would know the Lord, it was not that there would now be a whole group of chosen "nations" but that the nations (ethne) would be joined to the one nation - the one people of God. Peter indicates the fulfillment of that promise in 1Pet. 2:9-10: "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation..." In other words, the church, made up now of Jews and Gentiles who represent many different peoples, form one spiritual nation - one people of God. The Gentiles Peter is writing to were still part of a separate political entity which had not been converted to Christianity, at least at that point in history. Yet they were simultaneously part of the one true Israel of God. So, In my humble opinion, I don't think the fulfillment of the Isa. 19 passage or other similar passages requires the conversion of any political/national entity but refers to Gentiles of the nations who are joined to the spiritual people of God.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Pergamum,

I have noted that you do not generally answer questions I pose. In the future, would you please answer a question if I ask you one directly please? Once you answer my questions from my previous post, I will answer these.

Cheers,

Adam


Ah, so this thread is not really about evangelizing groups of people but mainly about the SL and C again?


Where is Assyria and Ephraim right now? Where are the Midianites and Cush?

Hard to evangelize these nations as nations, much like many other "nations" mentioned in the Bible if these are to be taken as present polictical entities.


Missionaries evangelize "nations" all the time.


They evangelize nations in the form of ethne, clear ethno-linguistic groups.

In fact, that is a normal practice of missions today, live among one ethne, learn that ethne's language and translate the Bible and evangelize this whole ethne. Regardless of what political country that ethne lives in. Indonesia for instance has what seems to be 127 distinct ethno-linguistic groups that still do not yet have a church established among them as a people.... let's start evangelizing those nations!
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I believe these passages compliment each other very well.

(Mat 28:18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

(Mat 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

(Mat 28:20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

(Act 1:6) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

(Act 1:7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

(Act 1:8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

(Act 1:9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Thanks for the quotation!

That's interesting about how the disciples are asking about the restoration of Israel, which is a common theme in the prophets...

Cheers,

Adam




I believe these passages compliment each other very well.

(Mat 28:18) And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

(Mat 28:19) Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

(Mat 28:20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

(Act 1:6) When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

(Act 1:7) And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

(Act 1:8) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

(Act 1:9) And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
 

mshingler

Puritan Board Freshman
Adam,
Thanks for your response.

Mr. Shingler,

Thank you for taking the time to answer my post!

Would you say then that the many passages which discuss nations, whether the Great Commission, or Isaiah's multiple prophecies, or the prophecies in Moses, or the Psalms, etc. even though they name specific nations as representative of the original people groups divided from Israel, yet we should spiritualize these passages?

I think the answer to this depends on which specific passages, as I don't have a blanket answer. In regard to the Isa. 19 passage mentioned earlier, I don't know if I would say we should "spiritualize" it. Rather, I think it is a description of the coming salvation of Messiah, extended to all peoples, even those who are Israel's enemies, cast in Old Covenant terms. I look to the New Testament to help me understand such a passage. Perhaps a similar example would be Amos 9:11-12. Amos speaks of Israel "possessing the remnant of Edom." In Acts 15:15-18, James applies this passage to the inclusion of Gentiles on an equal basis with Jews in the church. The OT passage seems to speak of Israel's conquest of nations, but the NT understands it to be a prophecy concerning the inclusion of people from the nations (Gentiles) with the OT people of God (Jews).

Is this because you believe there are compelling reasons to interpret such passages other than as they are written? For instance, the Peter passage is quoting a theocratic passage, and this kingdom of priests was intended to be a light to all of the other nations on earth.

The 1Pet. passage may be quoting a theocratic passage regarding national Israel, but I believe that national Israel was a type of the NT church. Peter indicates that believers, from various nations and ethnic groups, are already made a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. It's not a call to create holy nations (ie. "Christian geopolitical groups"). It is a statement that what was applied to Israel is now applied, spiritually, to the church.

To me, that may be compelling, but I am interested in learning more about what would help you to understand the multitude of national passages in an ecclesiastical sense.

In addition to some things already cited in this thread, Rev. 1:6 comes to mind, "He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father." Is John speaking of a geopolitical kingdom or a spiritual kingdom? Also, John 18:36 comes to mind.
Also, I see that you are SBC, but do you think that Calvin and the Westminster Divines were misguided in interpreting these as "national", and in seeking to build Christendom?
In a word, Yes. I guess that is, primarily, what makes me Baptist. I note a fundamental difference between the Westminster Confession and the 1689 LBF:

Westminster
I. God, the Supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under him over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil-doers.
II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto; in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth, so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.
III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath 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 ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he hath 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.
IV. It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience' sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, doth not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their obedience to him: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted; much less hath the Pope any power or jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and least of all to deprive them of their dominions or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretense whatsoever.

1689 London Baptist Confession
CHAPTER 24; OF THE CIVIL MAGISTRATE
Paragraph 1. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates to be under him, over the people, for his own glory and the public good; and to this end has armed them with the power of the sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.1
1 Rom. 13:1-4
Paragraph 2. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate when called thereunto; in the management whereof, as they ought especially to maintain justice and peace,2 according to the wholesome laws of each kingdom and commonwealth, so for that end they may lawfully now, under the New Testament, wage war upon just and necessary occasions.3
2 2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 82:3,4
3 Luke 3:14
Paragraph 3. Civil magistrates being set up by God for the ends aforesaid; subjection, in all lawful things commanded by them, ought to be yielded by us in the Lord, not only for wrath, but for conscience’ sake;4 and we ought to make supplications and prayers for kings and all that are in authority, that under them we may live a quiet and peaceable life, in all godliness and honesty.5
4 Rom. 13:5-7; 1 Pet. 2:17
5 1 Tim. 2:1,2

The 3rd paragraph of the WCF is absent from the LBF. That probably summarizes a fundamental difference in our understanding, here. It shouldn't be too surprising if I don't agree with Calvin at that point. If I'm not mistaken, if I'd have been living in Calvin's Geneva, I'd be arrested for being a credo-baptist. Now, I'm not a church history expert, by any means, so correct me if I'm wrong there.
I do believe that the gospel should influence societies and whole nations. I don't believe, however, that the church can be melded with a political entity. The church is a spiritual kingdom, not a political one. I'm not even really sure what that is supposed to look like, exactly.

Blessings,
Mike

PS: Pardon me if this post is a little hard to sort out. I've never quite gotten the "quote" function figured out exactly.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Adam,

.........Already answered your question, but here it is again:

The focus is, from Rev 5, tongues, tribes and nations in the origianl sense of ethne. This indicates people clusters and affinity blocs and ethnic groups, not countries - and thus we avoid any civil religon, theonomy or social gospel, but we target ethno-linguistic groups, break down and translate the Bible into their languages and encourage local evangelists to spread the Gospel to the furthest extent of every people-group boundary.



There is no way we can advance an argument to rebuild Christendom from the Great Commission. Civil entities are not spoken of and Paul did not intentionally target the gov't to "convert" - though he did not refrain from it either.



Again,


Where is Assyria and Ephraim right now? Where are the Midianites and Cush?

Hard to evangelize these nations as nations, much like many other "nations" mentioned in the Bible if these are to be taken as present polictical entities.


Missionaries evangelize "nations" all the time.


They evangelize nations in the form of ethne, clear ethno-linguistic groups.

In fact, that is a normal practice of missions today, live among one ethne, learn that ethne's language and translate the Bible and evangelize this whole ethne. Regardless of what political country that ethne lives in. Indonesia for instance has what seems to be 127 distinct ethno-linguistic groups that still do not yet have a church established among them as a people.... let's start evangelizing those nations!
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mr. Shingler,

Yes, the quote function can be a bit tricky.

If you copy the begin and end Quote, you can repeat it several times You can put this:

"[ QUOTE=mshingler;434359]"


and then this:

"[ /QUOTE]"

as many times as you choose, and you'll be able to quote portions of someone's post.

The only things to make sure you do are 1. Leave the open quote exactly as you find it with open and close brackets, 2. don't use the quotation marks I've added, and 3. put your text in between the open and close quotes. Hope that helps.

I think that our discussion should be about other issues at this point, as I see the point you are making about the difference between baptist theology and covenant theology (as stated in the WCF).




I think the answer to this depends on which specific passages, as I don't have a blanket answer. In regard to the Isa. 19 passage mentioned earlier, I don't know if I would say we should "spiritualize" it. Rather, I think it is a description of the coming salvation of Messiah, extended to all peoples, even those who are Israel's enemies, cast in Old Covenant terms. I look to the New Testament to help me understand such a passage. Perhaps a similar example would be Amos 9:11-12. Amos speaks of Israel "possessing the remnant of Edom." In Acts 15:15-18, James applies this passage to the inclusion of Gentiles on an equal basis with Jews in the church. The OT passage seems to speak of Israel's conquest of nations, but the NT understands it to be a prophecy concerning the inclusion of people from the nations (Gentiles) with the OT people of God (Jews).

Mike, this is exactly my point: the Gentiles are on an equal footing with the Jews. Jew is a national term, as is Gentile. It's akin to talking about "Americans" and "foreigners" (or non-Americans): it's a badge of nationality.


The 1Pet. passage may be quoting a theocratic passage regarding national Israel, but I believe that national Israel was a type of the NT church. Peter indicates that believers, from various nations and ethnic groups, are already made a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. It's not a call to create holy nations (ie. "Christian geopolitical groups"). It is a statement that what was applied to Israel is now applied, spiritually, to the church.

This is an interesting thought. However, I take exception to Peter's audience being a mixture of Jew and Gentile. Peter was an apostle to the Circumcision, and wrote to the diaspora of the Jewish Christians. I'm not arguing that this isn't applicable to Gentiles: I think that Gentiles may likewise be part of the Commonwealth of Israel. I don't see the NT's teaching as excluding the civil aspect, but as building upon it, or applying it to ecclesiastical matters.

The problem I would see is the OT addresses both civil and ecclesiastical matters. When the NT quotes from the OT, it often applies civil laws to ecclesiastical matters. I don't find this as an abrogation of the specifically civil laws of the OT, as much as an application of their general equity to the specific situation at hand.

For instance, Paul says "thou shalt not muzzle the ox" means that pastors should be paid. The original context is a civil law which I take to still be in force, which James even applies to a civil context, when he talks about paying your workers lest God curse you. In my understanding, there is no need to discuss the "typology of the ox" or the "fulfillment of oxhood", it is enough to recognize that the Holy Apostles were skilled at applying the marrow of the laws to situations that arose in the church or out of it. So, if Peter talks about the church as a "Holy Nation", that does not do away with the civil magistrates obligation to do God's bidding, and be a holy ministers, or deacon, of God (as we are taught in Romans 13).




It shouldn't be too surprising if I don't agree with Calvin at that point. If I'm not mistaken, if I'd have been living in Calvin's Geneva, I'd be arrested for being a credo-baptist. Now, I'm not a church history expert, by any means, so correct me if I'm wrong there.
I do believe that the gospel should influence societies and whole nations. I don't believe, however, that the church can be melded with a political entity. The church is a spiritual kingdom, not a political one. I'm not even really sure what that is supposed to look like, exactly.

Blessings,
Mike

I'm not sure how reliable this assertion is. If you were a credo-baptist in the modern sense of the term, I'm not sure you would have been arrested as much as reasoned with. If you're thinking of Servetus, you should consider that he was openly, belligerently, blasphemously and vociferously opposed to all that is good and holy. He hated the doctrine of the Trinity, mocked at the atonement of Christ, exalted man's powers, and slandered the servants of God. Those were the crimes for which he was imprisoned and executed. His Anabaptist ideas were merely one of many errors he held. When I say Anabaptist, I'm not talking about modern credos, as the two are similar but not the same. The similarity is in what we have been discussing. Anabaptists attack the foundational teachings of Scripture which bolster and support Christendom. However, if you didn't do anything to actually carry our Anabaptist principals (which, sadly, some of them did) then I don't think you would have had trouble in Geneva.

By the by, as an aside on American culture, I believe that the decline of the "holy commonwealth" ideal in America may be traced to Anabaptist principals. Once the anabaptist, "pluralism" ideal gained ascendence, American culture has become more and more hostile to biblical law, to our historic Christian roots, and to the puritanism that made this nation great. If you ever get insomnia, there's a free book which discusses these ideas at length:

Failure of the American Baptist Culture

Cheers,

Adam
 

mshingler

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the answer to this depends on which specific passages, as I don't have a blanket answer. In regard to the Isa. 19 passage mentioned earlier, I don't know if I would say we should "spiritualize" it. Rather, I think it is a description of the coming salvation of Messiah, extended to all peoples, even those who are Israel's enemies, cast in Old Covenant terms. I look to the New Testament to help me understand such a passage. Perhaps a similar example would be Amos 9:11-12. Amos speaks of Israel "possessing the remnant of Edom." In Acts 15:15-18, James applies this passage to the inclusion of Gentiles on an equal basis with Jews in the church. The OT passage seems to speak of Israel's conquest of nations, but the NT understands it to be a prophecy concerning the inclusion of people from the nations (Gentiles) with the OT people of God (Jews).

Mike, this is exactly my point: the Gentiles are on an equal footing with the Jews. Jew is a national term, as is Gentile. It's akin to talking about "Americans" and "foreigners" (or non-Americans): it's a badge of nationality.

I disagree. "Jew", in the natural sense, is an ethnic term. "Gentile" simply designates "non-Jew", thus it is also not a national term. I would propose that a better comparison than "American" and "foreigner" would be "Anglo" vs. "African" American. Of course, there is another sense in which Jew is a term of spiritual distinction (cf. Rom. 2:28-29).

The 1Pet. passage may be quoting a theocratic passage regarding national Israel, but I believe that national Israel was a type of the NT church. Peter indicates that believers, from various nations and ethnic groups, are already made a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. It's not a call to create holy nations (ie. "Christian geopolitical groups"). It is a statement that what was applied to Israel is now applied, spiritually, to the church.



This is an interesting thought. However, I take exception to Peter's audience being a mixture of Jew and Gentile. Peter was an apostle to the Circumcision, and wrote to the diaspora of the Jewish Christians. I'm not arguing that this isn't applicable to Gentiles: I think that Gentiles may likewise be part of the Commonwealth of Israel. I don't see the NT's teaching as excluding the civil aspect, but as building upon it, or applying it to ecclesiastical matters.

The problem I would see is the OT addresses both civil and ecclesiastical matters. When the NT quotes from the OT, it often applies civil laws to ecclesiastical matters. I don't find this as an abrogation of the specifically civil laws of the OT, as much as an application of their general equity to the specific situation at hand.

For instance, Paul says "thou shalt not muzzle the ox" means that pastors should be paid. The original context is a civil law which I take to still be in force, which James even applies to a civil context, when he talks about paying your workers lest God curse you. In my understanding, there is no need to discuss the "typology of the ox" or the "fulfillment of oxhood", it is enough to recognize that the Holy Apostles were skilled at applying the marrow of the laws to situations that arose in the church or out of it. So, if Peter talks about the church as a "Holy Nation", that does not do away with the civil magistrates obligation to do God's bidding, and be a holy ministers, or deacon, of God (as we are taught in Romans 13).

I would have to disagree, here, as to Peter's audience. I won't go into a detailed defense of that view here, but I'm not sure if it makes a huge difference anyway. If Peter was writing to Jewish Christians, in what way could it be said that they are a holy nation, royal priesthood, etc. except in a spiritual sense? Are you saying that these dispersed Jews, living under the rule of the pagan Roman Empire had somehow already established a Christian geopolitical nation? Maybe I'm not quite clear on your point here?
I agree that Paul and other NT writers apply civil law to ecclesiastical matters. However, I don't see how James is applying the passage above to a civil situation. He simply condemns the rich for withholding pay from their workers and warning them of God's judgment. I don't see where he is trying to establish a civil punishment for that situation. On the contrary, the comfort he gives for the oppressed is in verse 7, "Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord." The Lord will ultimate be the judge of those who have practiced social inequity, whether they be Jew or Gentile, and that at His coming.
None of what I have just said is intended to intimate that the truth and validity of God's Laws are undermined by the NT. Paul applies the law concerning the ox to the necessity to pay elders fairly. That same principle holds true in other settings as well. Nevertheless, the church is still a spiritual entity, the Body of Christ, and not a political-national entity.
I also don't think that Rom. 13 implies that the civil government is called upon to enforce the OT law or the practice of Christianity. When Paul says that the ruling authority is a minister of God, I take that to mean that government is instituted by God for a specific purpose in His plan - a purpose that falls within the bounds of common grace. The function of government and the function of the church are 2 different spheres.
If the governing authority has the responsibility to enforce the Law of God, in accordance with the OT, wouldn't the apostles and early have been in error when they practiced church discipline? For example, in 1Cor. 5, where a man was living in gross immorality, should he not have been executed instead of merely excommunicated? Furthermore, if enforcement of OT law is a function of the state, then it would seem that Paul was interfering in the realm of the state by trying to discipline this person instead of handing him over to the authorities. It is, perhaps, conceivable that the NT measures of church discipline were only temporary, until such time as a Christian State could be established, but I do not see that taught anywhere. I think it would have to be implied through some kind of theonomic presupposition.

It shouldn't be too surprising if I don't agree with Calvin at that point. If I'm not mistaken, if I'd have been living in Calvin's Geneva, I'd be arrested for being a credo-baptist. Now, I'm not a church history expert, by any means, so correct me if I'm wrong there.
I do believe that the gospel should influence societies and whole nations. I don't believe, however, that the church can be melded with a political entity. The church is a spiritual kingdom, not a political one. I'm not even really sure what that is supposed to look like, exactly.

Blessings,
Mike

I'm not sure how reliable this assertion is. If you were a credo-baptist in the modern sense of the term, I'm not sure you would have been arrested as much as reasoned with. If you're thinking of Servetus, you should consider that he was openly, belligerently, blasphemously and vociferously opposed to all that is good and holy. He hated the doctrine of the Trinity, mocked at the atonement of Christ, exalted man's powers, and slandered the servants of God. Those were the crimes for which he was imprisoned and executed. His Anabaptist ideas were merely one of many errors he held. When I say Anabaptist, I'm not talking about modern credos, as the two are similar but not the same. The similarity is in what we have been discussing. Anabaptists attack the foundational teachings of Scripture which bolster and support Christendom. However, if you didn't do anything to actually carry our Anabaptist principals (which, sadly, some of them did) then I don't think you would have had trouble in Geneva.

By the by, as an aside on American culture, I believe that the decline of the "holy commonwealth" ideal in America may be traced to Anabaptist principals. Once the anabaptist, "pluralism" ideal gained ascendence, American culture has become more and more hostile to biblical law, to our historic Christian roots, and to the puritanism that made this nation great. If you ever get insomnia, there's a free book which discusses these ideas at length:

Failure of the American Baptist Culture

Cheers,

Adam

I thank you for not associating me and modern credo's with the anabaptists, even though there is some commonality. I actually didn't have Servetus in mind. However, since you brought it up, "He hated the doctrine of the Trinity, mocked at the atonement of Christ, exalted man's powers, and slandered the servants of God." Okay, he was a heretic. He believed false doctrine. Was that really a reason for the state to execute him? If so, why would Paul not have sought the death penalty for the man in 1Cor. 5? Why not for the Judaizers? Why not for other heretics and false teachers? If the state is supposed to execute people for heresy, what will that look like on either a national or global scale? Who gets to define what heresy is worthy of death? How long do we try to win a heretic to the faith before we make the decision that he or she has no more opportunity to repent?
It seems pretty clear to me, from the NT, that the judgment of unbelievers - even those who blaspheme and persecute the followers of Christ - is something that is left to God (2Thess. 1;8-10; Rev. 19:11-21). How would you interpret 1Cor. 5:9-13? Who are those who are "outside"?

Thanks for your interaction. I hope I got the quotes correct this time.

Mike
 

mshingler

Puritan Board Freshman
By the way, I wanted to post a link to an article by M. Kline, with which I very much agree, in regards to this topic. I meant to paste into my previous post but forgot to, so here it is.

Kline_on_Theonomy
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
Mike,

Excellent work on the quotations!

For the James passage, I was unclear. What I intended by "civil" was a non-ecclesiastical situation. James' usage of the non-ecclesiastical law was my point in that regard.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on Peter's audience at another time perhaps.

Are you saying that these dispersed Jews, living under the rule of the pagan Roman Empire had somehow already established a Christian geopolitical nation? Maybe I'm not quite clear on your point here?

The Jews were already an (albeit weakened) geopolitical nation whose existence ended, in my understanding, at 70A.D. as threatened by Christ.

Nevertheless, the church is still a spiritual entity, the Body of Christ, and not a political-national entity.
I also don't think that Rom. 13 implies that the civil government is called upon to enforce the OT law or the practice of Christianity. When Paul says that the ruling authority is a minister of God, I take that to mean that government is instituted by God for a specific purpose in His plan - a purpose that falls within the bounds of common grace.

Mike, I wholeheartedly agree with the reality that God has created the church and the civil sphere to be separate spheres of government. In fact, I would say that Scripture also recognizes self govt and family govt to be prior to both ecclesiastical and civil govt. God has given different assignments to the differing spheres of govt. HOWEVER, that does not mean that the Word of God (nay, Christ Himself personally) does not rule over each area. The magistrate has been armed by God to enforce both tables of the Law. Paul says he is God's deacon to execute wrath on those that practice evil. Is sabbath-breaking evil? Is blasphemy evil? Is idolatry evil?

The church, the family, the individual, and the state have each been given differing roles to combat each of these evils. Simply because Paul addresses the responsibility of the church does not mean that he is denying or contradicting the role given to God's deacon: the magistrate. Nor is he denying the duties of individuals or families. It is not logically necessary that the assertion of a duty in one area is a negation of the duties of another area.

If the governing authority has the responsibility to enforce the Law of God, in accordance with the OT, wouldn't the apostles and early have been in error when they practiced church discipline?

Absolutely not! The things to consider are jurisdiction and venue.

For example, in 1Cor. 5, where a man was living in gross immorality, should he not have been executed instead of merely excommunicated?

I'm not sure what you mean by "merely" excommunicated? This is quite a statement to make (I know it was a question). Assigning a man's soul to hell is much more serious business than merely burying him under a pile of stones. And, yes, if the Roman authorities would have punished such a crime, Paul would have undoubtedly turned him over. In his own case, when on trial for heresy, Paul said that he would be willing to die if he had done anything "worthy of death". He didn't argue against being on trial for heresy, he merely asserted his orthodoxy, while accepting the heresy trial.

It is, perhaps, conceivable that the NT measures of church discipline were only temporary, until such time as a Christian State could be established, but I do not see that taught anywhere. I think it would have to be implied through some kind of theonomic presupposition.

Oh no, Mike! God forbid that I should seek to take away the keys of the kingdom which Christ our Lord specifically gave to the church. No theonomist that I'm aware of would do such a thing.

Okay, he was a heretic. He believed false doctrine. Was that really a reason for the state to execute him? If so, why would Paul not have sought the death penalty for the man in 1Cor. 5? Why not for the Judaizers? Why not for other heretics and false teachers? If the state is supposed to execute people for heresy, what will that look like on either a national or global scale? Who gets to define what heresy is worthy of death? How long do we try to win a heretic to the faith before we make the decision that he or she has no more opportunity to repent?

Excellent questions! If I'm not mistaken, the main charge against Servetus was blasphemy. The scriptures don't necessarily give the death penalty for heresy, but they do for idolatry, promoting a false god, and blasphemy. I don't see a problem with giving civil penalties or even banishment for heresy (as was done in New England), but I don't think that it's a capital offense without specific scriptural warrant.

I think I answered the 1 Cor 5 question earlier... as for what this would look like on a national / global scale, I'm not sure. I know what it is supposed to look like on a smaller scale. Basically, it looks like a libertarian freeland where people are left to do as they please, so long as they don't offend God or their neighbor in the specific ways outlined in scripture. Civil government is small because it's bounds are strictly set by Scripture. False accusers get the penalty they intended for the innocent accused, sodomites are driven from society, marriage is protected and honored, and whoremogers and adulterers get their just reward. Stolen goods are only replaced by restitution. Blasphemers are ridden from society so that God's Name is reckoned as holy, even by the strangers among the people.

Albeit this has never been fully realized yet, God has given us glimpses of this throughout history. In fact, this is where America has derived much of its greatness. The propagation of pluralist ideas are what have led, in my opinion, to the loss of liberty, the rampant blasphemy, the breakdown of marriage, etc. There is no "global" organization to enforce this. God's enforcement mechanism is small, it is localized, and it is holy.

As for how long a blasphemer has to repent before execution, I think we are often pragmatists in such regards. The magistrate's duty is to give a fair and speedy trial, followed by a swift execution of justice. If there are appeals, of course, they should be handled with a wise and judicious care not to pass an unjust sentence, but the point is not for the magistrate to contemplate the man's salvation, but to execute God's vengeance.

It seems pretty clear to me, from the NT, that the judgment of unbelievers - even those who blaspheme and persecute the followers of Christ - is something that is left to God (2Thess. 1;8-10; Rev. 19:11-21). How would you interpret 1Cor. 5:9-13? Who are those who are "outside"?

Yes, of course vengeance is God's. What that means is that we should not take personal vengeance for personal wrongs. However, we are also informed in Scripture that the magistrate is the minister of God's wrath and vengeance against those that do evil. Likewise, the church participates in the ministration of God's wrath against the wicked, although with a redemptive goal in mind. Of course the church does not exercise church discipline against those on the outside. I take outside to be non-believers, or those not within the jurisdiction of a particular church court.

Thanks for your interaction. I hope I got the quotes correct this time.

Indeed, THANK YOU! I love the chance this gives us to think about such issues! Again, great job on the quotes.

Cheers,

Adam
 

Christusregnat

Puritan Board Professor
I'd like to discuss the article at some point, but here's a brief article by Bahnsen:

PE043

I think it's a direct response to Kline.

By the way, I would like to commend you for your gentleman-like dialogue. Enjoyable and yet challenging!

Cheers,

Adam






By the way, I wanted to post a link to an article by M. Kline, with which I very much agree, in regards to this topic. I meant to paste into my previous post but forgot to, so here it is.

Kline_on_Theonomy
 
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