Objections to the Abiding Validity of the Judicial Law

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Reformed Covenanter, Dec 16, 2007.

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  1. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  2. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    WCF XIX: 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.

    Some folks really like to stretch that general equity phrase.
  3. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Ok, what does general equity mean, then? And you tell us the answer, not some website which you have "ctrl c + ctrl v". The ball is in your court, with all due respect. At least Ken Gentry (The Standard Bearer) gave an exegetical, historical analysis of the Confession to provide a theonomic answer to it. Critique him if he's wrong but he must be given credit, along with Schwertely and others, for going back to the Confession and seeing what it says. It appears that modern Reformed people read their own 21st century, pluralistic understanding of civil law back into the theocratic puritanism of the 17th century.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  4. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner


    Again, you need to be more careful and less dogmatic in your assertions. Whatever WCF 19:4 means precisely (I believe it was a compromise statement which allows you to be a Theonomist, but accommodates other viewpoints), it is abundantly clear that the Westminster Divines were a million miles away from your own political philosophy. You want to have it both ways: on the one hand, you complain that historic Calvinists believed in Christendom and persecuted idolaters, but on the other hand, you turn round and try to use the very same people in order to support your view that Biblical civil law is no longer relevant, yet the reason historic Calvinists "persecuted" idolaters was because they believed in the abiding validity of Biblical civil law.

    Please read the following works:

    Martin A. Foulner, Theonomy and the Westminster Confession

    James B. Jordan, Calvinism and "The Judicial Law of Moses"

    Kenneth Gentry, "Theonomy and Confession" in The Standard Bearer

    John Calvin's Sermons on Deuteronomy and his Commentaries

    George Gillespie's Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty

    Matthew Henry, Matthew Poole, John Gill and Thomas Scott's respective commentaries on the whole Bible in relation to civil law.

    My forthcoming book A Conquered Kingdom: Biblical Civil Government, which contains 75-100 pages of Theonomic quotations from the Reformers, Puritans, Covenanters and later Calvinistic theologians (they may not all have used the precise same methodology as modern Theonomists, but the similarity of their conclusions are striking).
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I could not find the Gentry online but is his contribution to the Bahnsen [SIZE=-1]Festschrift [/SIZE]the same as the review of Foulner's booklet, found here:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20030311161620/www.chalcedon.edu/report/97nov/gentry.shtml ?

  6. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    No Chris, its a much larger article. You will have to fork out in order to get that one :2cents:; this might bankrupt Naphtali Press ;)

  7. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

  8. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Yes that article is particularly good for showing how the word "equity" was used in the Authorized Version. Needless to say it refers to justice, not church discipline as Pergamum's historical revisionism would have us believe. ;)
  9. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    It has been posted more than once over the years, but I didn't see in a search of PB that it ever got any response when it was cited. Has anyone on the Gentry side of things dealt with Sherman Isbell's article on general equity?
    General Equity: Part I
  10. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I think Brian Schwertley answers him in this lecture:

    SermonAudio.com - Abiding Validity of the Law

    That is also valuable for highlighting the weaknesses of those in the Theonomy movement in areas like worship etc. And thus is a good all round exhortation for Theonomist and non-Theonomist alike.

    My aim is to see Liturgical Theonomists (Exclusive Psalm-singers), become Civil Theonomists, and vice-versa; thus I am a cross-bread between a Scottish Presbyterian and an American Reconstructionist.

  11. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Any more certain source?
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Sorry, don't know of one. Though the more recent "Theonomy and Confession" article by Ken Gentry probably deals with similar stuff.
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Do you recall the argument generally he makes (and what time is it there; shouldn't you be in bed?)
  14. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I think he concentrates on Ligon Duncan's 3-fold division of the law argument, and what the term equity meant, among other things.

    Also, if you check his website, it may be possible to purchase this article on its own without having to by The Standard Bearer.

    In the UK it is currently 3:15 am - I should be in bed, but insomnia is keeping me up. :banghead:
  15. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Sorry you are awake still; I have had a few bad nights the last several days but nothing like all out insomnia.:pray2:
    I mysteriously obtained the Gentry article tonight :)cheers:); I searched it and he does not even mention Sherman Isbell. I would like to see a head to head on the two arguments.
    I'm off to bed now.

  16. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Cross-breading is out of accord with Theonomy - Deut 22:9,11
  17. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Psalm 3: I laid me down and slept. I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2007
  18. Croghanite

    Croghanite Puritan Board Sophomore

    Do you belive Mr. Schwertley is a Theonomist ?
  19. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    He is a Theonomist, but is unhappy with things in the Theonomy movement. I think he goes a bit far in his criticism of the movement (the same things could be said of Protestantism, Presbyterianism, and Calvinism). :2cents:
  20. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Historical revisionism? American Presbyterianism sides with me in their 1788 revision of the embarrassing theocratic parts of the WCF.

    They could have left the WCF as is, because non-theocratic views were tolerated all along, but they decided to revise those theocratic parts; evidencing a widespread desire to purge the confession of its theocractic elements.

    I am glad for this. They consciously opted for a greater degree of disestablishmentarianism, or at least consciously rejected the state persecution of heretics.

    I am on the side of the majority of American Presbyterians who clarified their position on the law by revising the WCF in 1788. If you contend with me you have to contend with all those people much smarter than I who did that revising to bring it more in line with Scripture.

    Practical ramifications - Tolerating false religions. Should the civil governemnt tolerate Jews and Atheists and let them live in peace within their borders? It appears the the 1788 revision of the WCF says, Yes, a nation is not to persecute other faiths. That is an improvement from many of the Reformers' persecutory mindset who desired to protect the Kingdom of Christ by coercion.

    One last point: Even the original confession states that the judicial laws are EXPIRED. They do not obligate us any longer. Only insofar as general equity is required - and the American Presbyterians define "general equity" in the same manner as I do and they are against you. Those divines in Philadelphia held to a view of "general equity" the same as mine. Take your fight to them, not me.
  21. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Why would you take the definition of "general equity" from the revisers instead of from the authors of the WCOF? The more suitable thing to do would be to define it by the source, not by the revision.

    I thought that the moral laws of God were to be adhered to by everybody...even by those in the government. Clearly, worshipping a false God is a moral issue. If we think that the civil government should punish immoral behavior...it doesn't get much more immoral than idolatry and such.

    Is lying (ie: perjury) immoral enough for the government to punish, but idolatry is not?

    These are not simply "other faiths" that we are to accept as equal alternatives to Christianity, they are demonic hordes that seek to destroy the truth of Christ.
  22. wsw201

    wsw201 Puritan Board Senior

    General equity means exactly what it sounds like. It has to do with the principles associated with the judicial laws. These particular laws were for a covenanted nation that no longer exists. Since God has chosen not the create a new covenant with any other nation like He did with Israel, no other nation is obliged to adhere to those laws. Sinclair Ferguson and Lig Duncan have given sufficient explanations but unfortunately many theonomists don't like them so they resort to the old "well the Standards can be viewed in a number of different ways so theonomy is an allowable interpretation". The Standards say what they say and they can't be massaged to fit a particular viewpoint no matter how hard one tries. I don't buy if from the FV's and I don't buy it from the theonomists.
  23. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Why would Paul say ...

    and although they know the statutes of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, they not only do them, but also give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:32)

    if those who practice such sins are not deserving death anymore?

    The particular civil laws that were given were in some part to apply ceremonial laws, and in some part to apply moral law. We must still apply the moral law in our civil government, and the OT gives us great insight into how to apply it.
  24. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    You admit that the American Presbyterians have revised the original meaning of the Westminster Confession - that is historical revisionism.

    There is NO BIBLICAL WARRANT for their revision of the Westminster Standards, indeed it was a sop to the ungodly philosophies of the enlightenment. More importantly, it is an insult to the crown rights of Jesus Christ - the Prince of the kings of the earth.

    American Presbyterians (who hold to the revision) are just as much in favour of a theocracy as I am - the difference is they are in favour of a humanistic theocracy, while I am in favour of a Christian Theocracy. Thus they are guilty of violating the first commandment when it comes to politics.

    As for the term "expired" in WCF 19:4 it is self-evident from the context that it refers to aspects of the judicial law that were circumstantial to Israel (i.e. cities of refugee in the land of Canaan), in distinction from what is of general equity - i.e. justice righteousness. Tell me, was it just to execute idolaters, adulteres etc in Israel? If so, why would it be unjust to carry out this penalty one-yard over the border in a gentile nation?

    I have exhorted you repeatedly to look into the issue before making such dogmatic pronouncements - even reading the footnotes of the original WCF and Larger Catechism, with their repeated appeals to the abiding validity of the penal sanctions as part of the moral law - is enough to prove that your interpretation is wrong. Mind you, you continually keep saying the Reformers and Puritans were in error for their Theocratic views, so for you to appeal to them in order to justify your pluralist political philosophy is utterly illegitimate.
  25. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That's fine. What are those principles, then?
  26. Blueridge Believer

    Blueridge Believer Puritan Board Professor

    If all of the judicial laws are still for the New Covenant, then how about the dietary laws? Why would we not allow slavery and multiple marriages as well? Not railing brethren, just asking.

    BTW, I listened to Brian's two messages on whats good and whats bad about theonomy. It was worth the time.
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Theonomists don't maintain that all of the judicial laws are for the new covenant. I don't want to condescend, but reading By This Standard (which can easily be read in 2 days) answers most of your questions.

    And I believe we should allow for indentured servitude today.
  28. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    That is simply not true; Ken Gentry has refuted Duncan and Ferguson in his article. Your interpretation of general equity makes it meaningless. BTW, the Westminster Divines all swore a national covenant and believed that all nations were to be "covenanted nations" that walked in God's statutes. Any unbiased reader of Martin Foulner's Theonomy and the Westminster Confession will acknowledge that this is accurate. It is actually pietistic pluralistic Presbyterians - like Duncan and Ferguson - who distort the Westminster Standards to get them to fit in with their post-Enlightenment outlook.

    Please tell me precisely what principles associated with the judicial law remain binding? The word equity means justice. If it was just to execute criminals for capital offences in Israel, then it is just to execute them now.
  29. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    I am now leaving this debate; if you wish to discuss the matter further then feel free to PM me.
  30. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Correct me if i'm wrong, but weren't dietary laws ceremonial in nature...and not moral?
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