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Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Reformed Covenanter, Dec 16, 2007.
That was addressed to Nicholas, not to you.
I am not saying that you are definitely teaching Dispensationalism, but only that I think that is where the logic of your position leads to. I have to make statements like that to give you the opportunity to clarify your position.
Sorry I do not understand the question. Could you rephrase it please?
I think so. As I reread your statement I thought I saw agreement. And if you would have read mine (don't bother now--it is probably buried in some old page. ) you would have seen that I was not pushing the hard line obedience = blessing (though I am definitely pushing disobedience = cursing).
Sorry for the confusion.
You will need better evidence before you charge Bahnsen with requiring the civil magistrate to hold the Mosaic judicials as a covenantal duty.
From those excerpts, one may only reach your conclusion by way of inference and, lacking better evidence, I suspect that not only is the inference unnecessary but that Bahnsen would also deny your claim.
Once you move and have unpacked, I think you should doublecheck Bahnsen's books and if you find no passages that make the fulfillment of Mosaic judicials the magistrates covenantal responsibility, then you shoudl withdraw the claim.
A comprehensive theonomic (non-CR) ethic is not limited to pre-fall data or Gen. 9. It incorporates pre-Sinai data, Sinai data and NT data, each as and where appropriate.
I think I can agree with that.
Are you saying that the three part distinction is invalid or something?
Here is what was written on the flap of Theonomy: An Informed Response:
"Theonomy: An Informed Response is a mopping-up operation. It completes what Gary North began in Westminster's Confession: the Abandonment of Van Til's Legacy and Greg L. Bahnsen extended in No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics. The authors challenge the Westminster's faculty's assertion that biblical civil law is no longer binding in the New Covenant era, especially its mandated negative civil sanctions against convicted criminals. The authors ask the faculty: What does the Bible require of civil government if a resurrected Old Covenant law-order is not applicable? What is the Bible-sanctioned alternative? In short, 'If not God's law, then whose?'
There are two things to notice here: First, Theonomy is said to teach a "resurrected Old Covenant law-order" along with its "mandated negative civil sanctions," and second, the term "God's law" is narrowly identified with this "law-order."
Granted, the above was written by Gary North, but Bahnsen was a contributor to the book and I have never read that he objected to North's summary of Theonomy.
Bahnsen was always more cautious than North, and it is true, one is often left to draw conclusions from inference rather than explicit statement when coming to an understanding of his position.
I just found my copy of Theonomy in Christian Ethics and am going through some of the things I've highlighted in it. Here are some quotes:
"The New Covenant presents no new covenantal law or moral order.... [quotes from 1 Chron 16:14-17] The perpetuity of God's commandments follows from the eternality of His covenant of which they comprise an inalienable part" [pages 184-185 - from the chapter entitled "Covenantal Unity"]
Inference: The Old and New Covenants are really only the same covenant under "older" and "newer" administrations. Consequently, the civil magistrate today is under the same covenantal obligations as the magistrate in OT Israel. Later on in Chapter 16, Bahnsen verified that this is indeed the direction he meant to go when he asked the rhetorical question, "Ought the civil magistrate to obey and enforce the Older Testament law of God (particularly its penal sanctions)? [page 317].
Chapter 17 lays out the civil magistrate's covenantal duty to enforce "covenantal law" within Israel. Since there is "no new covenantal law or moral order" and the "one covenant" is eternal, according to Bahnsen, one should expect that he would apply the same responsibility to the civil magistrate today. That is exactly his point in Chapter 19: "The magistrate must rule, then, according to God's Law" [page 387] - not just the moral law, but the specific "covenantal law" given at Sinai. On page 399, he wrote, "The continuing validity of the law and the uniform doctrine of the civil magistrate make it nearly impossible to drive a wedge between the moral obligations of the civil magistrate now and those of the civil magistrate in the Older Testament."
All inferences, yes, but I think they are valid inferences. Bahnsen flattened out the Old and New Covenants into one covenant and taught that the civil magistrate's duty to enforce "covenantal law" is unchanged since Sinai. This view fails to consider the typological and pedagogical purpose of the Sinaitic covenant and it implies that God's covenantal relationship with national Israel was not unique in history but was normative and was intended to extend to all the nations of the world. When I was a theonomic Postmillennialist, I would have said, "Yeah, so what?" But now, as an Amillennialist, that idea is utterly foreign to me. "This present evil age is passing away." "My kingdom is not of this world." There are two kingdoms - the City of Man (where the civil magistrate sits temporarily as God's common grace agent) and the City of God (where the elect of God are found). Contrary to Theonomy and Reconism, there is no mixing of the two kingdoms in Scripture.
Finally, the Westminster divines clearly stated that the OT civil law has expired with the nation of Israel and no longer obliges beyond the general equity thereof. So, Bahnsen's insistence that there is "no new covenantal order" is unconfessional and just plain wrong.
Bahnsen has provided a chapter on covenantal unity. So far as covenantal framework is concerned, Bahnsen worked within the traditional formula of one covenant being the same for substance though different in administration. One is not at liberty to draw inferences from his words which do not fit within his basic theological framework as stated.
Well, this is the problem I'm having then. If I were asked to contribute to a book on a particular subject that was edited, published, and interpreted by someone with whom I was in vital disagreement with, I would not even consider doing it.
All throughout the years that I was involved in the Recon movement, I never once saw Bahnsen distance himself from it. In fact, back in 1994, Bahnsen published an article of mine in his Penpoint newsletter which defended Reconism. I was an avid reader of Gary North, and since I saw them associated with one another in the same movement, perhaps I tended to read Bahnsen through the lens of North.
So, you are saying that you have evidence to prove that Bahnsen rejected North's interpretation of Theonomy as teaching a "resurrected Old Covenant law-order"? I would very much like to see that, and if true, I will make note of it in the revision of my book that I'm working on.
Okay, I have the 1977 edition published by Craig Press. This is the one to which Meredith Kline responded, and Kline got the same impression that I did: that Bahnsen was teaching continuity on covenantal grounds, instead of merely moral grounds. So did Walter Chantry and many others.
Here's what it looks like to me: Bahnsen shot out of the gate insisting that "every jot and tittle" of the "Older Covenant" applies "in minute detail" today. When his critics objected that this merged the Old Covenant with the New, he backtracked and said, "No, I'm only referring to MORAL principles." As someone pointed out earlier in this thread, that is not theoNOMY after all since moral principles are not law.
Not even a Dispensationalist would disagree that the moral principles of the Old Testament remain the same today and should be applied. So, if what you are saying is correct, Bahnsen spent his whole career defending a position that nobody in the Christian world really disagreed with.
Now I'm confused as to why you think that Bahnsen's version of Theonomy is a serious error.
So would you agree with my assessment of North/Rushdoony Reconism as a variation of the Galatian heresy? Their writings clearly put forth a continuity of the Sinaitic covenant administration. According to Mark W. Karlberg, "[T]he judaistic error is the misapplication of the works-principle of inheritance in the typical, pedagogical sphere (where it does apply as an aspect of a divinely instituted administration) to the antitypical, spiritual sphere" [Reformed Interpretation of the Mosaic Covenant]. Would you also agree with that quote?
Yes, of course. Christians are citizens of the spiritual Kingdom of God, but they also live in the earthly kingdom of man and should participate in its affairs as far as they can without compromising their faith. As I said before, if I were ever to hold public office (hypothetical situation only), I would have no problem consulting the Old Testament as well as the New for guidance. But I would never do so with the mindset that I was "taking dominion" or "dispossessing the heathen." I would do so with the mindset of promoting temporal peace in this world for the ultimate benefit of Christ's Church and the free proclamation of the Gospel.
Does the "agreed" apply to the first sentence, the second, or both? I'm still confused as to your exact disagreement with Bahnsen.
I am saying I, as of lately, do not see the 3 part distinction in the Pauline corpus. With much prayer and supplication, I am fighting endlessly on this subject. Has God sent me a delusion? I pray not. Am I being swayed to and fro? I pray not. In my heart of hearts I am unable to see this 3 part distinction as clear as others can. I see different aspects of it in Paul. All under the umbrella of Mosaic code. And an overwhleming amount of evidence that Paul speaks of it being abolished, all of it. I know the reprecussions of this thinking will lead one to call me antinomian. If you please bear with me and allow yourselves some patience with me on this subject, it will be greatly appreciated. Scriptures that are giving me a different light than before are the following:
.These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me" (Luke 24:44).
3And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
12Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
13) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes
were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14) For he is our peace, who hath made both one,
and hath broken down the middle wall of partition
15) HAVING ABOLISHED in his flesh THE ENMITY,
even THE LAW of commandments contained in
ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one
new man, so making peace;
16) And that he might reconcile both unto God
in one body BY THE CROSS, having SLAIN THE
17) And came and preached peace to you which
were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also
ye are risen with him through the faith of the
operation of God, who hath raised him from
13) And you, being dead in your sins and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened
together with him, having forgiven you all
14) Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances
that was against us, which was contrary to us,
and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15) And having spoiled principalities and powers,
he made a show of them openly, triumphing over
them in it.
21) Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law,
do ye not hear the law?
22) For it is written, that Abraham had two sons,
the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23) But he who was of the bondwoman was born
after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by
24) Which things are an allegory: for these are
the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai,
which engendereth to bondage, which is Hagar.
25) For this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and
answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in
bondage with her children.
26) But Jerusalem which is above is free, which
is the mother of us all.
27) For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that
bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that
travailest not; for the desolate hath many more
children than she which hath a husband.
28) Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the
children of promise.
29) But as then he that was born after the flesh
persecuted him that was born after the Spirit,
even so it is now.
30) Nevertheless what saith the Scripture? Cast
out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of
the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son
of the freewoman.
31) So then, brethren, we are not children of
the bondwoman, but of the free.
We have the Law being abolished, nailed to the cross, cast out as the bondwoman, just to name a few. And included in this were the 2 tables. If anyone can show me where God or any other writer of the inspired writ seperates the Law into 3 seperate categories, I will be most gracious. I want to see it. I want to find it, yet I cannot. I have repented already for this blindness I am portraying in this vein of thought, yet I am receiving no answers from our Lord. I will be taking myself out of Law discussions for now. And pray that the truth will shine forth to me as clear as God wills it.
Do you disagree with the historic Christian understanding, including our blessed Confession, on the tri-partite division of the Law?
It is not necessary to disagree with the historic Christian understanding including the confessions on the tripartite division of the law to affirm as that the law has covenantally expired. The tripartite division is a tool applied by later Christians to analyze how which parts of the law remain "profitable" today.
Right to the point and right on target.
"Neither Christ nor the apostles ever distinguished between the moral, the ceremonial, and the civil law, when they speak of its establishment, or its abolition" [John Kitto, A Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature (New York: American Book Exhange, 1880), article: "The Law"].
The WCF 19:1-3 postulates that the moral law was given to Adam in the Garden has been implanted in the hearts of all men since and was republished as the Decalogue. Now this is not an explicit Scriptural statement, but it can be derived from behaviours clearly condemned as sinful pre-Sinai or held up as moral or theological axioms by an NT writer. (see the Scripture refs for WCF 19:1-3).
That the Sinai covenant was abolished does not alter humanity's pre-existing obligation to the moral law. That Christ fulfilled the law does, however, change a Christian's motivation to keep the law from that of obligation but to anothor complex of emotions including, but not necessarily limited to, love. "If anyone loves me, he will keep my words". If we love someone, we do things that please them because we find an intrinsic enjoyment in pleasing them and there is a real reward we experience in their pleasure; "if you keep my commandments you will abide in my love just as I keep my father's commands and abide in his love." Or as a hymn I know puts it:
"and when thou dost smile upon me
God of wisdom love and might
Foes may hate and friends may shun me
Show thy face and all is bright."
I know that when I do something that pleases God that his heart rejoices. For as he tells us in Proverbs 23:15,16
My son, if your heart is wise
My own heart also will be glad
and my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.
With full disclosure hoping my condemnation from those here will not result, I will answer 'I don't honestly know' at this point in time Jacob. What I am certain of is I cannot find anywhere that there is a "Thus says the Lord" dividing Law. Perhaps because Law is Law and there is no "the'' in the original manuscriptus of what I have read.
This is where i am at: "Neither Christ nor the apostles ever distinguished between the moral, the ceremonial, and the civil law, when they speak of its establishment, or its abolition" [John Kitto, A Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature (New York: American Book Exhange, 1880), article: "The Law"].
I do not know how to develop this any further than this quote provided by brother Greg. Law encompassed all tit for tat as my eyes see presently.
I have David Bahnsen's testimony that his father did dissent from a Northean hyperbole: if memory serves correctly I think it was the "Bambi meets Godzilla"
one. I'll try to find it in chat club files. If any Theonomist on the list knows off hand the chat club post I mean, feel free to post it.
I don't think one can fairly say that Bahnsen retreated from Law to Principle and I think he did mean from the first that the civil laws were morally and not covenantally binding today. To take the latter point first; HFAF documents at least one other case where he did not say what he wanted to say (and clearly believed at the time) as clearly as was needed to avoid misunderstanding, so it is also possible that he made the same sort of mistake in regard to why the laws were binding today. (Keep in mind that the seminary student who wrote Theonomy was recently married, a new father, working as youth minister, pursuing a double master's degree and writing a thesis about 3 times longer than the required length! Plenty of room for possible mistakes through overwork, which is what I think is what happened.) As for the former point, he did say in his clarifications that "that Old Testament standing laws continue to be morally binding in the New Testament, unless they are rescinded or modified by further revelation". (thesis 4). How some of his followers represent him, on the other hand, is another question entirely.
From my previous paragraph you will see that I think Bahnsen spent his career disagreeing with dispensationalism.
As I explain in HFAF: (citations ommitted: pm me if interested)
My book focuses almost exclusively on Bahnsen's statement of the Theonomic hermeneutic not CR as a whole. I don't know enough about North's writings to have any view of what he says on this point. I know that Rushdoony made at least one statement ("...and sanctification is by law" Forward in Theonomy in Christian Ethics) which, read in isolation, could lead one to conclude that that he was a heretic. But I have not read enough of his other writings to know whether that remark was an aberration or his real position on the point. Nor have I familliar with Karlberg's article so I can't comment there either.
Both. And, contra his denial, Bahnsen disagrees with Westminster as well as myself. For he has required that all explicitly or implicitly unamended laws be applied today rather than letting general equity determine the question in particular cases as Calvin and the Westminster Divines did.
Missed this first time. This justification for this Mosaic punishment is not Theonomic in Bahnsen's sense but is reasoning from general equity in the Westminster sense.
So you were saying that you would agree with idolatry being punished with up to the death penalty on Westminsterian grounds but not what you believe to be Theonomic grounds?
My point is that in arguing this way you and any Bahnsenian who follows you have abandoned what is distinctive in Bahnsen's position for the Calvin/Westminster approach.
Now Bahnsen himself might argue this way, but were I discussing matters with him, I would point out that he would also have an additional reason to hold such a view: his misexegesis of Matt. 5:17,18 meant that he was bound for good or ill to the premise that the only laws ruled inapplicable by general equity were those where we had implicit or explict Scriptural warrant to alter them and no such warrant applies in this case. So, I would conclude, the ultimate controlling reason for holding the continuity of the death penalty for adultery is that the Lawgiver has not explicitly or implicitly amended it and he would have to say yes, or sacrifice his exegesis of Matt. 5:17,18, something he was not willing to do.
Now I might agree with idolatry being punished with death on the above C/W reasoning if two possible objections to it were satisfactorily refuted. (I won't start that hare here except to say I think a biblical death penalty brought about under biblical safeguards is more just than the humanistic alternatives. Moreover, I have not seen such refutations yet.) But while I could have a profitable debate on the matter with another Calvin/Westminster type, I would not have one with Bahnsen were he present: since neither objection can show implicit or explicit Divine amendment of the death penalty statute scriptures, they are, on his Theonomic premises, inadmissable.
So your answer is "yes" to Hermonta's question?
It is such a dreadful idea isn't it, that only God has the right to amend his holy law?
Oh look I have found a Westminster Divine that agrees with this "terrible" hermenuetic. His name is George Gillespie, perhaps the most learned theologian of the Covenanted Reformation:
For the man who says that Biblical penology can only be applied if we decide that the penalty has "general equity" in it amounts to nothing more than Arminianism in Christian Ethics (not theological Arminianism). For him the judicial laws are not laws but only "suggestions" or "good advice" and only if men will accept them of their free will.
The reason we know that the penal sanctions are of general equity is because they were a model to the Gentile nations (Deut. 4:5-8), and since they have not been abrogated then they must be continually valid. Any other approach allows man to sovereignly pick and choose which parts of the Bible he is going to obey.
Besides the fact that He did, I need some questions answered that may further my understanding of Law.
1) What is the difference between Moral, Civil, judicial, ceremonial Law and case law ,are there 'subcategories' within each of these divisions within the theonomic understanding.
2) Why does Rabbi Greg and his disciples use a twofold distinction of moral and ceremonial, and 'invent' or 'postulate' all non ceremonial law with the moral law? Would this not allow one to 'postulate' that since the moral law summed up in the two stones enduring validity into the NC, bring with it the non ceremonial law since the 2 have now been blended together?
3) What is the "mosaic Civil Legislation" as talked about by them? And how can this Law division be combined with the moral law?
I have asked a local Jew once again this question. There is absolutely no Hebrew understanding of ceremonial law vs civil Law in Torah. To them to call one Moral and the others not Moral would make them immoral.
4) Lastly, 19;4 "He [God] gave to them [the people of Israel] also, as a body politick, sundry judicial laws which expired together with the state of that people [Israel], not obliging any other [nation-state] now, further than the general equity thereof may require."
How can anyone with any amount of common sense give the force of this statement to hinge on 'general equity?' The force is most assuredly on expired, and not obliging. To Banhsen et al, the words general equity are there to almost soften and discount expired and not obliging.
5) The NT has no division between moral and civil law. I see old vs new, and nothing else.
6) Does bahnsen believe that it is the duty to keep the civil law as part of the moral law(10 words) that he speaks of since his exegesis of Matt 5;17 makes 'fulfilled' mean 'confirmed?'
WHo is this "we" you speak of Daniel? This last stament is very untrue and inflammatory. This unhealthy appetite for Law you have and how you wantr to legislate it on NC believers is troublesome to scripture.
Oh Daniel, if you'd only taken up my offer to read "How Firm a Foundation" you would have discovered that Gillespie is at best inconsistent with Theonomy and at worst not a Theonomist at all. For he allows a magistrate to "forbear" punishment when it is due for reasons unsupported by Scripture and with no implicit Scriptural justification either. For Gillespie, with neither explicit nor implicit support for doing so, grants to the magistrate "that kind of toleration whereby the Magistrate when it is in the power of his hand to punish and extirpate, yet having to do with such of whom there is good hope either of reducing them by convincing their judgments, or of uniting them to the Church by a safe accommodation of differences, he grants them a supersedeas [forbearance]; or though there be no such ground of hope concerning them, yet while he might crush them with the foot of power, in Christian piety and moderation, he forbears so far as may not be destructive to the peace and right government of the Church, using his coercive power with such a mixture of mercy as creates no mischief to the rest of the Church.
I speak not only of bearing with those who are weak in faith (Rom. 15:1), but of sparing even those who have perverted the faith, so far as the word of God and rules of Christian moderation would have severity tempered with mercy: that is (as has been said) so far as is not destructive to the Church's peace, nor shakes the foundations of the established form of church government, and no further…" (Gillespie, George "Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty," London, 1644, now online at Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty, by George Gillespie. 30 August 2004)
Since one's hermeneutics controlls one's outcomes, how did the Theonomic hermeneutic supposedly held by Gillespie permit him to reach such a contra-Theonomic outcome?
If you deny that the outcome is Theonomic please square it with Bahnsen's thesis 4.