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. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Remember, the judaizers were preaching another gospel and anathema. Perhaps I am in error; that's fine. But to say I am in hell-bound error is another (labeling theonomy = new galatian error). If someone wants to say that, I won't be offended. Just be honest and consistent and say I am anathema.
     
  2. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    :ditto:

    Well said.
     
  3. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Well now then, you probably shall have some condemning you if you wish it that away. Now I am stepping in and saying that this kind of talk should stop on this forum. You seem to be stirring the pot after I gave the warning.

    Some people do believe theomomy is serious error and I would agree that some shades of it are. I don't think anyone in this forum is to that level though. We disagree on varying points concerning the Covenants. Especially when it comes to baptism. But you don't see anyone prodding for a condemnation here. CT, I dealt with that post you are referring to. No one is looking for justification in the law in this thread. But some in our denominations have sought for justification in works because of their studies in history and the book of Galatians. I am referring to the FV and NPP. None of us are vying for this.

    I tried to head this off. So now I am heading it off for sure now. No one in this thread is looking for justification by works in this thread. So drop the Galatians comparison or the thread will be closed.

    Randy Snyder.
     
  4. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    I dissent from the view that Bahnsen's Theonomy is the New Galatianism. In my view it is a theological error and not a heresy. But it is certain that Bahnsen's committee made a number of mistakes that they should not have made.
     
  5. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    I changed it because the Reconstructionist error is not exactly identical to the Galatian heresy as it is commonly understood and I didn't want folks to think that I was saying it was. The Judaizers were openly teaching observance of the Mosaic ceremonial laws, along with faith in Jesus as Messiah, in order to be justified. On this point, Rushdoony, North, et. al. would have said that justification is by faith alone. Here, they would have defined justification in the evangelical sense of salvation from the eternal penalty of sin, so the label of "Galatianism" in this sense would not apply.

    However, my question is, were the Judaizers really using the word "justification" in this strict evangelical sense? Were they really denying that the Galatian Christians could not go to heaven without being circumcised? I think it would be anachronistic to say that. I think there is good evidence to suggest that the Judaizers were using the term in a broader sense of enjoying the favor of God, or right-standing within the "covenant" - the covenant which God made with national Israel at Mount Sinai which the Galatian Gentiles were being told they needed to identify with and obey. Circumcision was the entry point for individuals into this covenantal relationship. Observance of the ceremonies would follow. But this all was in reference to INDIVIDUALS. It would not be a leap to assume that the Judaizers would have applied the same covenantal principles to society at large, particularly a Christian civil magistrate, if they had had opportunity to speak on that subject.

    Using this broader definition of justification (covenantal right-standing with God), Reconism does have a definite problem. North's books are loaded with the idea that both individuals and nations are cursed or blessed by God based on their keeping of the law. Rushdoony had this to say in his Institutes of Biblical Law: “[D]iligent keeping of the law” is “the condition of blessing: it is the ground of conquest and of possession, in terms of which the covenant people of God, His law-people, enter into their inheritance.” What Rushdoony did here was transfer the typological aspect of Israel's inheritance in the promised land to the spiritual New Covenant Kingdom where it does not belong. Elsewhere, he wrote that regeneration returns the Christian to the covenantal position of Israel in Palestine and Adam in the Garden. That would mean that belief in Christ places one back under the Covenant of Works, albeit with power to keep it. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Christians are not under the law/Covenant of Works in any way, shape, or form. Even in regeneration, Christians do not have the power to keep the Covenant of Works because it requires absolute and perpetual obedience. Consequently, they are not blessed or cursed by their "covenantal faithfulness," but they are justified - completely and eternally - by Christ's covenantal faithfulness alone. The Covenant of Works, and its republication at Sinai, has nothing whatsoever to say to the believer in Christ. "I, through the law, am dead to the law."

    The whole theonomic Postmillennial idea of dominion is based on an ever-increasing earthly blessedness for Christians as they "keep covenant" and dispossess the heathen using the Mosaic law (judicial warfare). This is covenantal nomism applied to society and I believe the many Recons now found in the ranks of Federal Vision are merely being consistent in applying covenantal nomism to individual justification where the original Judaizers applied it. The FVers have only taken the subtleties of Rushdoony and made them explicit.
     
  6. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    A few theonomic minded folks like myself are premillennialists. To put it mildly, we don't really believe in earthly dominion (at least not right now). Not many, I grant. So the above wouldn't be directed at us?
     
  7. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    No, not really. Just to those who believe that the Mosaic law was meant to be used by the Christian Church as a "tool of dominion" and that nations are blessed or cursed by their obedience to a defunct covenant that was only made with the nation of Israel, which was a typological republication of the original Covenant of Works designed to lead Israelites to faith in Christ, and which was completely fulfilled by Christ.

    If you are defining "theonomy" as the application of the moral principles found in the Old Testament to modern situations, then there is no problem at all. That is what the Confession meant by the "general equity" of the law.

    But North and Rushdoony went far beyond that. I'm not so sure about Bahnsen.
     
  8. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I have Bahnsen in mind, primarily. Keep in mind that North disagreed with Bahnsen on the relationship of theonomy to postmillennialism (relevant sections in Political Polytheism). Bahnsen did not see theonomy depending on postmillennialism (and I posited a few hypothetical scenarios elsewhere where I grant the premillennial vision or the amillennial despair, and yet still posit a theonomic republic). North got irritated that Bahnsen didn't make a connection.
     
  9. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    A lot of us who are not Postmil, believe that Christ has dominion now, and Pray the prayer, "Thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" just want to see Christ honoured in the State as well as the Church. And how this debate and discussion applies to us is cloudy sometimes, just as it is for those who are "theomomists". I hold more to a theocratic understanding of things which (to me) has a different hermeneutic in understanding the things that are abrogated in comparison to those things that remain. Yes, I understand theonomy is Theocratic.

    I guess my point in saying the above is that I appreciate this kind of discussion because I keep learning from them. This isn't just a postmil struggle of Christianizing the world. It is a struggle to know God's will for many of us. Many on this board have come from the Dispensational camp and have gleaned a lot from you guys. Thanks

    BTW, I didn't come from a Dispensational camp. I was born an Amil Reformed Baptist. LOL I come from good stock. LOL:lol:
     
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Two thoughts:

    1) I, with many, including Ligon Duncan, do not hold the Mosaic Covenant to be a republication of the CoW. That is not a mainstream Reformed view. I am not saying it is even erroneous or out-of-bounds, but it cannot be used to clinch a debate. (On second thought, in Covenantal Theonomy, Ken Gentry assumed the point to show it wasn't necessary to non-theonomy positions against theonomy).

    2) While I grant your points on the dangers of cultural covenantal nomism, I kept thinking: Isn't it true that widespread, cultural disobedience to God's law brings judgment? This point should be obvious. Look at modern day America or Europe. And conversely, the Bible itself promises cultural blessings for cultural obedience. I know, I know, that was the old testmament and Isreal was a theocracy. But on the other hand, maybe there is a logic and consistency to God's order.

    Well, I understand the dangers (although I think modern day Reformed cultural agnosticism is much worse--not saying that is your position) but I can't write off other statements God says about cultural obedience.
     
  11. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Remember Adam or Noah? Pre Mosaic. I was just reading an article in the Reformed Baptist Theological Review by Robert Gonzales Jr. where he references the Noahic Covenant as having foundation in the Pre fall Covenant possibly.

    Anyways there is blessing and cursings placed on the whole of cultural obedience before the Mosaic.


    Sorry if the font doesn't come through and I know it may be off topic a bit.

     
  12. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    The fact that FVers such as James Jordan and Peter Leithart have openly repudiated Christian Reconstruction shows us that this comment is erroneous.

    Personal regeneration leads to Christian Reconstruction. Those who believe in salvation by law imagine a vain thing.
     
  13. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Not necessarily. Greg said "many Recons" not all Recons.
    I don't know why Leithart repudiated CR, but Jordan did so because he believed that Bahnsen's Theonomic hermemeutic was unScriptural compared to that popularized by Poythress in The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. But that hermeneutic, as Bahnsen correctly recognized, is iteself a form of theonomy in the older sense of the word. And all foms of theonomy, not just the ethical perspective of CR apply covenantal nominism to society in one form or another. The question is: which form should be applied and why?
     
  14. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Some guys that I have spoken to at great length have said, "The Federal Vision is not a monolithic movement." Some references I have read say that this movement has proceeded from the ranks of and or moved into those who hold to theonomy. The Federal Vision does share certain aspects but it has its cross breads. Yes, these two guys are two of the major players. But they don't speak for everyone. And if you said that in their presence you would be scolded by those who don't or do hold to paedocommunion.

    I think that Mr. CrownRights is generally correct in his assessment. You can not deny that the NPP and some forms of Covenantal Nomism have not made headway into this movement. The Federal Visionist's do seem to flatten out the Covenants into one all encompassing Covenant instead of the Bi-covenantal understanding of Works and Grace. Therefore their understanding of Society and Salvation are looking more like each other. One big mess.
     
  15. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior



    Greg: Thank you kindly for this clarification. Obviously I did not develop this thought, but this is what I was attemtping to say. Hence putting "new" before Galatian is more assuredly correct. AS an aside, Paul did not seperate the mosaic law into 3 parts in this writing. The Judaizers were transporting the OT Mosaic convenant into the New Covenant, and were shaprly rebuked by Paul who did not tolerate this thought one bit, Hence the Pauline corpus is much harder on leagalism in any sense of the word compared to the antinomianism in the corinthian body.
     
  16. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    You're right that a straight-out republication of the CoW is not the mainstream view, although it was held by some notable theologians such as John Owen and Samuel Petto. However, I qualified it by adding "typological." That is, as far as I can tell, the mainstream view, even though the exact terminology might not be used (see "Different Views of the Mosaic Covenant Within the Reformed Tradition"). Israel's tenure in the land was dependent upon their obedience to the Sinaitic covenant. The land itself was typological of the spiritual Kingdom of God. Hence, Moses' words, "I set before you this day life and death" bore some relationship to God's words to Adam, "Thou shalt not eat lest you die."

    Whether the Sinaitic covenant was an actual republication of the CoW or merely typological (my view) is debatable. What is not debatable is that it must have been a covenant of works IN SOME SENSE because Christ was born under it for the express purpose of fulfilling its terms and meriting salvation for the elect. He could not go back to the Garden to fulfill the original CoW, but was born a Jew under the law. The way I see it, if the Sinaitic covenant was not, or did not contain, a covenant of works element, there can be no imputation of the active obedience and perfect righteousness of Christ to the believer. This puts us back in the probationary state of Adam where we must maintain our standing with God through our own "covenantal faithfulness." We are forgiven, but still naked and still unraised to "heavenly places with Christ Jesus." That is not the Gospel.

    It all depends on how one defines "God's law." Mainstream Reformed commentators define it as the "moral law," or that law implanted into mankind at creation - i.e. natural law. Theonomy/Reconstructionism tends to define it in a more narrow sense to refer to the Mosaic covenant. Using the mainstream definition, it is certainly true that cultures which depart from the moral law will eventually collapse. God does not have to directly impose "sanctions" for this to happen. All He has to do is "give them over" (Romans 1), and the consequences of unnatural behavior will do the rest. If man lives as he was created to live, he will prosper; if he persists in acting contrary to his created nature, he will die. The same goes for society in general.

    But this is not all that Reconism is saying. They go further by insisting that the Mosaic covenant itself must be obeyed by both individual and society or covenantal sanctions will follow - a covenant which none of the patriarchs prior to Sinai knew anything about and which the Apostle Paul expressly taught was abolished in Christ. Although Bahnsen didn't go as far as Rushdoony and North, he did expressly teach that the civil magistrate was covenantally bound to enforce the penal sanctions of the Mosaic law. It was to the "COVENANTALLY bound" part of his theory that his critics have been objecting to, not to the idea that the civil magistrate may use the Old Testament as a guide for enacting just laws today. Even I do that all the time in laying down the law in my own house and I certainly would do the same thing if I held public office. But then, according to Schwertley, I'm just a "natural law antinomian." :rolleyes:
     
  17. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    Where did Bahnsen say that the civil magistrate was covenantally bound to enforce the penal sanctions of the Mosaic law? I know at least one place where he denies that premise.
     
  18. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    That is not true if you are referring to Christian Reconstructionism proper. Personal regeneration NEVER leads to the belief that the Christian is placed back under the terms of the Sinatic covenant for blessing or cursings. To the contrary, personal regeneration leads to resting in the fact that Christ merited those blessings and suffered those cursings in our behalf.

    Personal regeneration then leads to personal sanctification, which, with the blessing of God, in turn leads to the spread of the Gospel and to cultural reformation.
     
  19. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    According to Bahnsen:

    "The overall view of the civil magistrate according to Scripture (whether Older Testament, New Testament, Israelite or Gentile) has been found to be uniform and unchanged.... Thus the doctrine of the state presented by Paul in Romans 13 is a reaffirmation of the essential Older Testament conception of the civil magistrate" [Theonomy in Christian Ethics, page 398; emphasis in original].

    The civil magistrate in the "Older Testament conception" was a covenantal agent, so the implication is that, since this conception is "uniform and unchanged," the civil magistrate today is also a covenantal agent. To the contrary, Romans 13 says absolutely nothing about the magistrate's duty to enforce the judicial laws of the Old covenant. The magistrate is a common grace institution which was established in embryonic form in Genesis 9 - long before Sinai.

    Again:

    "If the magistrate is to have direction from God, if the magistrate is to be limited in what he can legitimately do, and if there is to be any court of appeal above the magistrate to which the Christian can plead against abuse, then the magistrate should be seen as bound by the law of God and obligated to enforce it...." [ibid., page 466]

    "Law of God" = Sinaitic covenant, according to Theonomy. Hence, the magistrate is covenantally bound to enforce the laws of the Sinaitic covenant.

    My library is all packed up in preparation for moving, so that's the best I can do at the moment.
     
  20. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't dispute that. I would only express my doubts that a comprehensive Christian ethic can be derived from Genesis 9. Or pre-fall. I don't mind using whatever insights may be there, but I find them incomplete.
     
  21. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Genesis 9 does not distinguish between manslaughter and murder, you need further revelation to do that.
     
  22. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    According to this logic the people in the Old Testament must have been saved in some other way than by the merits of Christ. That is Dispensationalism.
     
  23. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    Nor does it tell you how to punish rape, incest, kidnapping, nor not supporting Tradition GOP values, etc.
     
  24. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Tell me, are Christians obliged to obey the Ten Commandments?
     
  25. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Please tell me which parts of God's law we are now required to obey?
     
  26. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    Daniel,

    That is unwarranted conclusion. Nothing at all was ever said to suggest that OT saints were saved other than by the merits of Christ.

    Please read my response to Brian Schwertley's similar charge of Dispensationalism HERE.

    The Old Covenant promised blessings for obedience (i.e. longevity, health, continued tenure in the land, etc), and cursings for disobedience (i.e. death, sickness, expulsion from the land, etc.) Do you believe that these sanctions carry over into the New Covenant? If so, then you can't agree that these sanctions were typological.
     
  27. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    Please define your term. What exactly do you mean by "God's law"?
     
  28. crownrights

    crownrights Puritan Board Freshman

    Of course.
     
  29. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member


    I was only showing support for your thought in the above quote Jacob. The thought that God did in fact bless and curse based upon cultural behavior before the Mosaic Covenant. And if he acted thus before the Mosaic Covenant then the arguments you seem to suggest concerning Isreal's Theocracy have no warrant. You and Daniel Ritchie went past my post's intention.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2008
  30. Amazing Grace

    Amazing Grace Puritan Board Junior

    What do you mean which part and what is the motivation for obedience? We are specifically speaking of penal sanctions attached to thus Law. Which again was not part of the Pauline Corpus.
     
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