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. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    First, Christ himself made an *exception* to adultery laws. Thus it is wrong to say that he doesn't admit of qualification.

    And, to be charitable, as you say you desire, one should also note that in TEC, which you site, he claims that his position doesn't rest on his exegesis on Matt. 5.

    Furthermore, the corpus should be consulted. So, you need to read/listen to all he has to say on the subject, right? He makes my point in many places. I cited one. Here's another: "But then neither does theonomic ethics hold that such a theocracy is a kind of revealed prerequisite for the moral validity of the Mosaic laws" (Bahnsen, NOS, 114). Or, "[The puritans] correctly held that we are not bound today to keep these [Old Testament] judicial laws as they are worded, but only required to keep their underlying moral principles" (Bahnsen, BTS, 137-38). I have therefore refuted the notion that Bahnsen didn't employ the particular law and fact vs. underlying principle distinction. In response to the charges of "retreating" to this position, there is a ready answer: "Since the publication of TEC there have come along the way a fuller explanation and consistent refinement of the thesis, but this is usually not deemed as a fault, but a virtue" (Bahnsen, NOS, p.27).

    And Bahnsen can say that even the principle which underwrites the smallest law is still valid. Therefore that principle should be applied today. It would be ridiculous to assume that Bahnsen meant that one still needs to put fences around roof tops. If you grant me that it would be ridiculous to assume that, then you tacitly grant me my premise: Bahnsen distinguished between historical law and underwriting principle.


    Here is what Bahnsen takes to be GE:

    "However, the confession is careful to remind us that "the general equity"
    of this illustrations - that is, the underlying moral principle - is still "required" of us" (emphasis supplied). (Note that this justifies my specific law/principle distinction I've made.)

    Wasn't Sherman Isbell's article touted here?

    Isbell states, "The Confession uses the term general equity to identify the element in the judicial laws which is of enduring obligation. The meaning of this term is evident from the chapter in which it appears. There is an equity or righteousness which on four other occasions in this chapter is said to still oblige, amidst all the changes in redemptive history. That equity is the moral law,"

    Now, it is true that Bahnsen doesn't take the Decalogue to *exhaust* the moral law of God as expressed in certain principles either explicitly or implicitly instantiated in the Bible, he claims that they *summarize* them. Is he wrong? "The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments" (LC 98). And John Murray, "[T]he summary does not obliterate or abrogate the expansion of which it is a summary" (Principles of Conduct, p. 192).

    So, there is a *basic* agreement, even if some *factual* disagreement is present. This is not sufficient to show that there are two *different* ethics. Just as in my illustration above about eating cows. When we disagree with the Hindu, we *are not* disagreeing in our *ethic.* We *both* agree that it is immoral to eat grandma. So, the disagreement here isn't enough to show a difference in ethic.


    Right. And the problem here is that you sound like a theonomist. You are saying that man needs to look to God's revelation to determine the moral precepts men are obliged to follow today. If you say that *the Bible* tells you that X law isn't applicable today, then you agree with Bahnsen.

    Indeed, didn't you quote Bahnsen above thusly:

    In all of its minute detail, (every jot and tittle) the law of God down to its least significant provision should be reckoned to have an abiding validity- until and unless the Lawgiver reveals otherwise. (Greg Bahnsen, "The Theonomic Position" in God and Politics, Four Views on the Reformation of Civil Government ed. Gary Scott Smith, Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. 1989,
    pp. 40, 41.)

    ?

    Thus Bahnsen would *agree* with you that if the Bible tells us that X law isn't applicable today, then it isn't applicable today.

    So I'd say that, at the very least, a critique of a position that is consistent with that position, isn't much of a critique. I take this to be a plausible assumption, for obvious reasons.


    If you do, just remember that Bahnsen covered this charge of "qualifying" in NOS (among other places) pgs. 19-29.

    Also, if you want to make demonstrably false claims that all non-Christian ethics are relativistic, then you can include the quote. I don't think that will bode well for your book, though. Usually, stating falsehoods isn't good for establishing reliability or intellectual honesty.

    I'd also make sure you really want to affirm a DCT theory of ethics. This is implied in the post

    Peace.
     
  2. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore


    Matthew,

    With all due respect, I did read the post. I suggest re-reading mine. You are being pedantic in your interpretation of Bahnsen. Basically, your critique looks like this, to me: "I have a certain conception of theonomy, and I have to put it in that box for my argument to work, so I *will* put it in that box, and then my arguments work."

    I'd also suggest familiarizing yourself with certain qualification and definitions of terms that ethicists employ.

    Anyway, if my post didn't help you or function to allow you look at the situation differently, then there's not much I can say by way of response. I'm sure both of us telling the other to re-read the other's post isn't the best use of our, or the other's, time.

    Perhaps other readers/lurkers found either one of our posts helpful, though.
     
  3. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Matthew,

    Are you saying that if Bahnsen had not defined his system as Theonomy but instead Theodidacy, then all would in fact be well? Should not the argument be over the content of the position defended vs. the particular name that it was called?

    Also since Theonomists have "accepted" the idea of adaptability to modern situations from the beginning, I am missing the point of the critique.

    CT
     
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Friend, you yourself acknowledge that theonomists make the qualification which I have noted, so I fail to see the relevance of your perception that I am twisting facts in order to prove an argument.
     
  5. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Rev Winzer,
    I think his point is that the theonomists themselves freely admit these qualifications and don't see it as putting tensions in there system.
     
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Hi Hermonta. It's not simply the word "theonomy" that is the problem, but what that word represents as a basic thesis -- namely, that the law as given is eternal and unchanging. If that is the case, the judicial laws which are not restorative are binding AS LAWS on modern nations and do not leave room for the adaptability of basic principles undergirding the laws. Such a qualification ceases to maintain that the laws as given are substantive, and hence eternal and unchanging, but rather that the laws themselves are the expression of eternal and unchanging principles.
     
  7. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I haven't said anything to the contrary. The fact is that discussions end up in confusion because theonomists take their stand on the basic supposition of unchangeable law, but when their position is shown to be untenable they revert to the position of unchangeable principles undergirding the law. If the latter is their actual position, and I think we agree that it is, then it's high time to move beyond the basic supposition of theonomy and to discuss the subject intelligibly in terms of the unchageability of the eternal principles which are expressed in the judicial law. And at this point theonomists will probably awake to discover that they have more friends than they were aware of.
     
  8. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore


    But surely Matthew, even you don't believe this attempted reductio. You must believe that the *law* to put a railing around your roof was and OT law. Thus you must, according to what you write above, take Bahnsen to believe that *that law* is "unternal and unchanging" and so should be enforced as binding today.

    Furthermore, Bahnsen's position is that the *Holy character* of God is "eternal and unchanging." The *particular laws given* are not. The *principles* which underwrite the laws, being based on that character, are "eternal and unchanging." Those *principles* can be *codified* in law-forms that reflect the various historical particulars of the time.
     
  9. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This "surely" is the perennial problem inherent in the discussion. Yes, this is Bahnsen's position as qualified. But the fundamental thesis of theonomy is "the abiding validity of the LAW in exhaustive detail." It is the defence of this basic commitment which causes continual confusion when discussing the subject of theonomy. It is this basic thesis which must be abandoned if the discussion is going to proceed to another level. Any old theoretician knows you cannot put forward one thesis and hope to prove it by defending a different thesis. It simply will not do.
     
  10. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    Right. And I've already noted that you're being pedantic here. You're not using "LAW" the way Bahnsen intended. You're simply defining the debate how YOU want to. The way that your critique will work. But surely you would agree that it's not much of an intellectual feat to define a position in a way that makes it subject to a critique, even when your interlocutors have been on record since the 70's making the appropriate qualifications. I'll offer some advice, which you're free to reject, of course: I'd try to make sure to take note of, and respect, the dictinction between *words* and *meanings.*

    Lastly, I noted that even YOU don't take Bahnsen to mean "LAW" the way you want to because even you don't think he meant that putting railings around roofs was "eternal and unchanging." If you grant me this most sensible point, your argument crumbles, no?
     
  11. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Friend, there is obviously something in the way I'm speaking which hinders you from understanding the point being made. Let me outline things in simple steps to try to make it as plain as possible. Please hear me out.

    Step one. The fundamental tenet of theonomy is the abiding validity of the LAW, not principles.

    Step two. Opponents of theonomy object, and point out various discontinuities in the law.

    Step three. Theonomists respond by qualifying that by law they actually mean the principles underlying the law, and that the laws themselves are adaptable to changing situations.

    Step four. Along comes lil ol me and suggests it would be better to make the qualification the starting point so that the discussion can move ahead without the misunderstanding.

    The whole thrust of my point is that Bahnsen does in fact qualify what he means, and that he and his followers ought to present their case with that qualification so that there is no further misunderstanding by the use of the term LAW. I do not believe there is any warrant for your suggestion that I am misunderstanding terminology, because we are both agreed as to the definition of the terms being used. I have not distorted anyone's words in order to prove an argument, and frankly find the accusation unbecoming the charity which ought to mark Christian conversation.
     
  12. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Move Step 3 to Step 1. I do not think Bahnsen engaged in ad hoc qualifications. Yes, you are correct: he did qualify. But as I have read everything he has written, and listened to hundreds of tapes, I believe he began with those qualifications.

    Or maybe he didn't consciously begin there. The problem with theological discourse is that you can't say everything at once.
     
  13. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The problem is, that once the qualification has been made theonomists continue to maintain the abiding validity of the LAW as LAW, not as PRINCIPLE. Bahnsen himself continued to maintain a heremeneutic of continuity until proven otherwise.
     
  14. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    Friend, maybe this will make it easier. I reject your characterization of (1).

    I have provided ample resources which debunk your shoe horn critique.

    It's not that I don't understand your critique, it's that I reject its very foundation. You've done nothing to persuade me that your characterization is correct. I have even pointed out that you don't take them to be offering (1) in the way you're trying to push it.

    If your (1) were correct, then you'd have to say that one could validly deduce this from it:

    Step one. The fundamental tenet of theonomy is the abiding validity of the LAW, not principles.

    Step 1 a: A fundamental tenant is the abiding validity of the putting railing around 21th century American slanted roof tops, not principles.

    Since you are honest enough not to attribute 1a to the theonomists, then you have debunked your own argument.

    Hopefully that helps.
     
  15. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    Right. Bahnsen assumed that the *moral principle* behind, say, laws against rape were still in tact while those *principles* which underwrote laws regarding holy wars were not.

    You're still being pedantic.
     
  16. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Then your rejection of my characterization of (1) is a rejection of theonomy and its hermeneutic of continuity; which helps to explain your agnostic position.
     
  17. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    If pedantic means avoiding imprecision and vagueness, then I'll adopt it. The laws relative to rape, etc. are substantive; the laws relative to holy wars are restorative. Hence you are comparing apples and oranges since this discussion relates only to substantive biblical law.
     
  18. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore

    At this point I think we can both see the uselessness of continuing. For I will reply, and have proven by quotes from the horses mouth, that your charicature is simply that, a self-serving misrepresentation of someone's position. Apparently you don't feel that you should opperate by the maxim that the formulators of a system have interpretive priority over how one is suppoed to understand the words they use. I guess denying that *moral principle* helps to explain your rejection of theonomy. ;)
     
  19. Jim Johnston

    Jim Johnston Puritan Board Sophomore


    I've supplied the precision, you're refusing to get down and dirty and deal with the position in its best light. CDeal with how the founders of the position would want to be read. This is especially ironic considering all of your fine posts on Calvin and limited atonement. Frankly, you sound just like your interlocutors do in that discussion. Thankfully, I know that you appreciate the value of letting people define their own position, of using other writings to clarify what they have said elsewhere, and not making more out of words ("whole world," "all men" etc.,) than you need to. So, I know that if you were being completely objective, you'd see that you're doing the very same thing the universalists do to Calvin.

    I'm also afraid you totally missed my point about the laws of rape and holy war. I proved that his assumption of continuity was over *principles.* Perhaps another example will do:

    YOU SAID: The problem is, that once the qualification has been made theonomists continue to maintain the abiding validity of the LAW as LAW, not as PRINCIPLE. Bahnsen himself continued to maintain a heremeneutic of continuity until proven otherwise.

    MY REPLY: Well, there is no future revelation saying that we are not to fail to put railings around our roof tops, therefore you should argue that Bahnsen is committed to this idea. If you do not think that, which is the only correct thing to think, then you have disproven your thesis and proven mine. Bahnsen argued for the abiding validity of the PRINCIPLES. For if he did not, then you *must* say that he advocated the continued validity of roof-railings. But, he did not advocate such. Therefore, he did advocate the continuing validity of the underlying moral principles. This is a valid modes tollens argument. All the premises are true. Thus: QED. You can only deny my position by denying a sound logical argument.
     
  20. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    I'm not sure why you think a charge of immorality should be accompanied with a wink. It's disgraceful and ought to be addressed by one of the moderators. You need to go back through this page of the thread and examine your penchant for personal derogation.
     
  21. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This "sound logical argument" is refuted by a simple reference to Bahnsen's discussion of penology, to which he devotes a whole chapter.
     
  22. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    It is not wrong to say that Christ admits of qualification here, but if you say that, you disagree with Bahnsen who denies that Christ did so. The subject of my book is the Theonomic hermeneutic as Bahnsen presented it and Bahnsen, while admitting the possiblility of amendments in theory, (in subsequent works without explaining how such a position would square with his exegesis of Matt. 5:18), specifically denied that Christ made an exception of adultery laws.

    I demonstrate at some length in HFAF that the other Scriptures generally cited in the debate, notably by Bahnsen and Strevel, don't provide the needed foundation for Bahnsen's hermeneutic. If Bahnsen's hermeneutic doesn't rest on Matt. 5:17-19, on what Scriptural text does it rest?

    Notice, however, how Bahnsen continues:

    But Bahnsen has misunderstood his critics: his exegesis of Matt. 5:18 in TICE, his reduction of his thesis to aphorisms, and his earlier comment:

    all say "there is a red barn north of the field" especially when there is nothing in the text of Matt. 5:18 that allows us to think that Jesus intended that

    The language of Matt. 5:18 cannot be stronger. Jesus is saying that no change whatsoever to the law is legitimate until "all things are accomplished" and there is nothing in the immediate context to indicate hyperbolic intent, which, under the cirucumstances would have been a major tactical error on Christ's part. If you are at all wise, you don't make unqualified answers to your enemies charges which you know you must qualify later.

    But when Bahnsen now tries to say, without exegetical grounds that "the general principle would be qualified by Biblical teaching elsewhere he is saying "there is a red barn south of the field." One may have Bahnsen's "principled" explanation or one may have his exegesis of Matt. 5:18 but one cannot have both at the same time.

    And if every jot and tittle remains valid until the lawgiver reveals otherwise then there are only three possibibilities for legitimate amendment of any Mosaic statute.

    1) the civil statutes are amended as a class - which Bahnsen rejects.

    (Bahnsen, By This Standard, pp. 3,4)

    2) Explicit amendment of particular statutes - of which there is none in the NT other than Christ's changing the laws of adultery (which view Bahnsen rejects) and the apparent relaxation of the sabbath laws in the church (which doesn't really solve the problem for the laws regulating sabbath under Sinai. Those laws should be considered as ceremonial rather than civil as they were enforcing a covenant specific sign and as such would be decriminalized when the covenant ended.) Which means this example is useless for questions of offenses that were not covenant specific. Stealing was stealing whether within Israel or without.

    or 3) good and necessary consequence deductions from other Scriptural statements. The problem here is that we cannot prove whether any inferences drawn are necessary or not.

    So which civil laws don't apply today "in exhaustive detail"? None

    If the roof is used as a social space a fence is still needed, no? I have at least two condo towers within sight of my corner that require such fences. The trouble is Bahnsen sometimes talks as if he makes the distinction, but at other times he talks as if he denies it. Was it John Robbins who asked "Will the real Greg Bahnsen please stand up?"

    Yes, Bahnsen and Murray are wrong at this point. “Summarily” means giving the essentials; “comprehended” in context means either "understood" or "included" as in "education comprehends the training of many kinds of ability from the Latin comprehendere," (New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary of the English Language, 1989 s. v. "comprehend") (a meaning well known to the Divines who had all received their University instruction in Latin). (cf. Isbell part 4.) This meaning is preferred because to take it as Bahnsen and Murray do means that the Divines both made an error in WCF 19:1-3 when they specifically defined the decalogue as the moral law, contradicted their definition in WLC 98 and didn't notice the contradiction. That's unlikely, for, as Bahnsen noted, the "Confession is recognized as the most cautiously worked out and carefully worded creed of the Evangelical Church.” (Bahnsen, The Westminster Assembly and the Equity of the Judicial Law) Men who can achieve such a level of clarity do not often contradict themselves.

    Uh....I deny the Hindu premise that the cow is grandma. Given the difference in premises we cannot reach identical conclusions about the result. In the same way Bahnsen on the one hand, and Calvin and the Westminster men on the other, differ in their hermeneutics and thus sometimes reach different conclusions. Who is right and why?

    I am a theonomist in the sense Van Til used the word. I hold that there is no real ethical alternative between a God sourced ethic and an autonomous one. So also is Greg Durand, the 1990 Faculty of WTS and just about everybody who has criticized Bahnsen and the CR ethical perspective. And all of us get tired of being slandered as antinomian or dispensationalism which is how we have been treated by some of Bahnsen's disciples, just because we are not Theonomists (i.e those who hold to the ethical perspective of Christian Reconstructionism).

    But Bahnsen would disagree with me, and Calvin and the Westminster Divines for we differ from him on the grounds that may be adduced for holding that a particular Mosaic judicial is applicable today. Bahnsen presumes continuity unless Scripture teaches the contrary (explicitly or implicitly) the Calvin Westminster tradition presumes discontinuity unless general equity requires, and it "may" not do so in all cases because the covenantal context is different. For example, the Jews were forbidden to lend at interest to fellow Jews but they could do so to Gentiles. Calvin allows interest because he recognized that the superseding of Sinai by the New Covenant ended the prohibition of interest among God's covenant people.

    I hope you now understand where the inconsistency lies.

    AMEN!!! Matthew, may I add the above comments to my book? You have just said exactly what I have been trying to get some Theonomists to see for years now.[/QUOTE]

    This point is discussed above. There are other places where Bahnsen attempted to address the matter and some key ones are addressed in my book.

    Are you calling Van Til in error when he made his quote about the choice being theonomy or autonomy? If so, why? In Van Til's sense, as Bahnsen recognized heretics could be theonomists (He cited Tillich) but one could also cite Moslems as theonomists in this sense. (Their source of ethics is in their "god," but their error is that their god is not God.) I also recognize that some atheists or agnostics try to hold an absolute based ethical system as a hangover from a theistic worldview but I have yet to see such an attempt survive Lewis's knife (one is propounding conclusions in the imperative from premises in the indicative and the conclusion doesn't follow.) Which is why all non-theonomic ethics will inevitably decay into relativism sooner or later: some clear minded sinners will ask the question "Why should this apply to me?" get an illogical answer, and do what they want to do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2008
  23. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    :judge:

    I see nothing in Matthew's post that is self-serving. Please moderate the tone here.

    I know I threw in with a Check and Mate statement but primarily out of humor.

    I think Matthew is acknowledging the point that they don't really claim to uphold what the words or the starting point implies.

    Honestly, his critique from a pedagogical standpoint, in my opinion, is a valid one. Given the number of people that do proceed from Step 1 of Matthew's example and never get to Step 3 it might be better for folks to explicitly state Step 3 from the outset.

    I'm all for representing people accurately for what they teach but there is a valid criticism to be levied against those who lead with terms that lead those that don't disect the system and are led to erroneous conclusions. Good teachers save their students from error by using approaches that will keep them from error. The fact that we have to spend 100+ posts and dig through material to demonstrate that Bahnsen (and others) don't really teach step 1 speaks volumes to the problem in the approach.

    I honestly find Matthew to be saying, basically, that more common ground exists than most people believe and, if the intelligent Theonomists would simply speak more clearly then all would discover there was more common ground.

    I don't know if they had this term when you were in the Navy but we like to talk about BLUF in the Corps: Bottom Line Up Front. Theonomy has a basic BLUF problem and that is why some of its followers ended up painting their teachers in a bad light.

    I look at my students and what they understand from what I'm teaching. If what they believe is out of whack from what I'm saying then I need to adjust.
     
  24. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I think that both Bahnsen Theonomists and Calvin/Westminster theonomists
    would affirm that we may apply the principles of justice ("general equity") that undergird Mosaic civil stipulations not only to analogous situations in biblical times but to analogous situations today. The difference between the two groups is that the CW's apply general equity reasoning to the identical situation today, and on that basis, may or may not argue that a given stipulation is inapplicable; a premise Bahnsen for one, denies. A CW adherent, noting the change in covenants, may (or may not- see below) deny the death penalty for idolatry, because it is no longer a direct assault on the covenant suzerein and treason to the covenant nation, because it triggers the suzereins curses, but to Theonomist who follows Bahnsen's hermeneutic, this possible view of the matter is rendered unacceptable by Bahnsen's exegesis of Matt. 5:18.

    Another CW adherent may recognize that even though God is no longer the covenanted suzerein of his own nation, God still judges ungodliness and idolotry will trigger God's judgments against any nation that commits it. He may suggest to his fellow citizens that a law against idolatry may be in the best interests of the nation, given God's dealings with idolatrous nations and it may pass. What that CW adherent will not do, however, is say that Christians are required to promote or institute such a law as a NT requirement, for it is not.
     
  25. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    It might be useful to consider what Greg Bahnsen himself said concerning changes to Old Testament law by reading his responses to John Robbins:

    Here is a bigger response to Mr. Robbins:

    That last quote is especially relevant to some enemies of Greg Bahnsen who seem obsessed with discrediting a man who is no longer around to defend himself.
     
  26. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    I think that I just reached an Ah ha!! moment in this discussion. Any critique would be helpful.

    The confession assumes both discontinuity and continuity. The discontinuity in all (any?) of the particular laws given in the OT (judicials) and a continuity in the moral principles (Moral Law). In opposition to this, Theonomists assume a continuity in both, while allowing for the NT to reveal various changes. A confessional person/leader would be allowed to implement any law that held to the spirit/moral principles of the law, while changing the particular penalty for a certain crime. A Theonomist would probably balk, however, if one could not put forward a NT justification for a change in the exact penalty.

    In the majority of cases, the confessional position and Theonomy, look strikingly similar but a the end of the day, the confessional position would give a leader a great deal more flexibility in "upholding the moral law" before someone could reasonable object that one is breaking the moral law or be called an antinomian.

    That being said, if a Theonomist was made dictator for a year of the United States, then
    one could not object very much on Biblical grounds (perhaps that one should establish a church, which very few Theonomists have advocated?) without in fact calling OT Israel an unjust soceity, but instead could object some on practical grounds.

    CT
     
  27. D. Paul

    D. Paul Puritan Board Sophomore

    :applause:
     
  28. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Let's go back to something Reverend Winzer said. He said, if I may paraphrase, that it is time to drop the debate and theonomists need to realize they have more friends than they thought.

    I agree, but...

    I agree that we probably need to drop the debate. While theonomists were probably blackballed from Reformed institutions, and no one ever had the guts to face Bahnsen in a public debate, and while theonomy will never win the day in Reformed circles, I have reason as a theonomist to rejoice.

    If someone started reading the old Knoxian views of civil govt, then we are doing well. In America at least many people are tired of the old Republican establishment status quo. Just look at the excitement that Ron Paul's campaign generated on the issue of decentralized government (see Wine's The Hebrew Republic) sound money, critique of statism (a major thoenomic theme) and individual liberty. Secondly, most Christians are theonomists when they go vote. They vote (usually ignorantly and naievely, but the principle's the same) for the guy with strong morals, oppsoed to abortion, or whatever lie Republicans tell Evangelicals (I have in mind "]Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's[/URL] description of Ralph Reed).

    But I seriously doubt the mainstream Reformed world wants to be friends with theonomists. Anyone can PM me for personal examples.

    And there are some critics of theonomy who have an unhealthy obsession with it. I don't talk about it too much, except to defend it from hatchet jobs.
     
  29. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    I do remember Rev Morecraft saying that he was surprised at how many unbelieving supporters he had during his political campaign. (I don't remember for which office) I think the general equity of Biblical law rings true for many people. I think it is the theonomist's penal sanctions that scare people away. :2cents:
     
  30. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Give the man 3/4 of a cigar! He's almost got it. The confession assumes continuity of the Moral Law/Decalogue and both discontinuity and a measure of continuity in the judicials. The discontinuity is due to two factors: first all the judicials are no longer covenantally valid, but have "expired" but those judicials that remain valid today are valid for a different reason; they are morallyvalid. Second, not all of the judicials remain valid; the only laws remaining valid are those that "general equity may require" in the new covenantal circumstances.

    That's how Theonomists define matters. But the problem is that Bahnsen provided extended exegesis of Matt. 5:18 which correctly demonstrates that no change to the law whatsoever is legitimate during the time it is in force. When Bahnsen defined the terminus ad quem of the law as the end of the church age, and contra Bahnsen's opinion that Christ's apparently absolute statment admits of qualification, the necessary consequence is that no change to the law in the church age can be legitimate. This gives Theonomists an unpalatable choice: they may keep either Bahnsen's exegeisis or his view that some NT change is legitimate but they cannot have both.

     
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