Why did Bahnsen shave his beard?

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Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
The reason I struggle with Theonomy is because theonomists themselves cannot seem to agree on which laws are binding today. Who gets to decide if shaving is illegal? I don't see how theonomy can be God's Will for us today simply because it seems to be impossibly impractical.
Ken,

Can the same not be said of non-theonomists? How is it any more practical when they disagree on these things?

The shaving issue was answered above.

God bless!
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
7) Reinstate indentured servitude.
Huh?
Better idea than declaring bankruptcy at taxpayers' expense. Or, if the crime isn't a capital one, it beats going to prison where they might get sodomized at taxpayers' expense. It also allows people there dignity to work instead of rotting in a jail cell for 25 years.
Oh, my. I thought you were kidding. Guess not.

Indentured servitude is oppression of the poor and contrary to the moral law. It violates our constitutional liberties are free citizens. It is worse than slavery because even slaves were treated as part of the master's household.

Bankruptcy laws are not theft. They are a corrective measure against usury and loan speculation -- and they allow the poor to rebuild their lives with minimal government intrusion.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I had no intention of bringing Bahnsen into this discussion as a person. Perhaps it would have been better to just stick to the real question, "What does the theonomist do with laws such as these?"

The reason I struggle with Theonomy is because theonomists themselves cannot seem to agree on which laws are binding today. If Jacob and Morecraft and Weaver and Einwechter etc. were elected into public office, how would they agree on which of the OT laws would be placed on the American people? Who gets to decide if shaving is illegal? I don't see how theonomy can be God's Will for us today simply because it seems to be impossibly impractical.
Whether it is practical or not in no way affects the truth-value of the proposition. Christ told me to be perfect. That's impossible. Therefore, it is not true. If I were elected--perish the thought!--what would I do? (in no particular order)

1) Ban abortion
2) Ban Sodomy
3) Ban Income tax
4) Get rid of most Federal departments.
5) Call the military home so they can defend America in case of invasion.
6) Get the Federal Government out of the lives of Americans.
7) Reinstate indentured servitude.
8) Ban pop culture music because it is terrible
You have my vote for president!

Believe me if onr of you Reconstructionists discovered a new country and established your own theonomic government, I would move there in a heart-beat. But I still think my question is relevent. Who gets to decide which OT laws would be binding? It seems to me that men would have to get together and hash it out and compromise and vote and argue etc. How is that any different than what the writers of our Constitution did?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Better idea than declaring bankruptcy at taxpayers' expense. Or, if the crime isn't a capital one, it beats going to prison where they might get sodomized at taxpayers' expense. It also allows people there dignity to work instead of rotting in a jail cell for 25 years.
Oh, my. I thought you were kidding. Guess not.

Indentured servitude is oppression of the poor and contrary to the moral law. It violates our constitutional liberties are free citizens. It is worse than slavery because even slaves were treated as part of the master's household.

Bankruptcy laws are not theft. They are a corrective measure against usury and loan speculation -- and they allow the poor to rebuild their lives with minimal government intrusion.
Many commentators consider the slavery laws of the OT to be indentured servitude laws. If so, then you have just said that God's civil law contradicts his moral law.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I had no intention of bringing Bahnsen into this discussion as a person. Perhaps it would have been better to just stick to the real question, "What does the theonomist do with laws such as these?"

The reason I struggle with Theonomy is because theonomists themselves cannot seem to agree on which laws are binding today. If Jacob and Morecraft and Weaver and Einwechter etc. were elected into public office, how would they agree on which of the OT laws would be placed on the American people? Who gets to decide if shaving is illegal? I don't see how theonomy can be God's Will for us today simply because it seems to be impossibly impractical.
Whether it is practical or not in no way affects the truth-value of the proposition. Christ told me to be perfect. That's impossible. Therefore, it is not true. If I were elected--perish the thought!--what would I do? (in no particular order)

1) Ban abortion
2) Ban Sodomy
3) Ban Income tax
4) Get rid of most Federal departments.
5) Call the military home so they can defend America in case of invasion.
6) Get the Federal Government out of the lives of Americans.
7) Reinstate indentured servitude.
8) Ban pop culture music because it is terrible
You have my vote for president!

Believe me if onr of you Reconstructionists discovered a new country and established your own theonomic government, I would move there in a heart-beat. But I still think my question is relevent. Who gets to decide which OT laws would be binding? It seems to me that men would have to get together and hash it out and compromise and vote and argue etc. How is that any different than what the writers of our Constitution did?
Thank you, but I am not a Reconstructionist. Who gets to decide? Good question. I don't have a full answer, but that's cool. We have a while to think out this question before anybody gets in office.
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
Could the moderators please confirm that describing other Reformed people as "leaglists" and "Pharisees" is persona non gratia.
Legalism is a big issue among "Reformed people." For example, that is what the Federal Vision controversy is about. And Baxter was a legalist. So it isn't that simple.
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
Many commentators consider the slavery laws of the OT to be indentured servitude laws. If so, then you have just said that God's civil law contradicts his moral law.
You can't just port Moses into the United States. It doesn't translate. Even if we put the covenantal issues aside, we are a completely different people, in another time, in a industrialized society, with our own culture. Bringing back indentured servitude for the reason you mention is cruelty.

We are not ancient Israel. The code is just, but it expired and it was never meant for us. The Gospel call was not to rebuild the Temple, but to invade the Roman Empire. We are the children of that campaign.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Many commentators consider the slavery laws of the OT to be indentured servitude laws. If so, then you have just said that God's civil law contradicts his moral law.
You can't just port Moses into the United States. It doesn't translate. Even if we put the covenantal issues aside, we are a completely different people, in another time, in a industrialized society, with our own culture. Bringing back indentured servitude for the reason you mention is cruelty.

We are not ancient Israel. The code is just, but it expired and it was never meant for us. The Gospel call was not to rebuild the Temple, but to invade the Roman Empire. We are the children of that campaign.
So, do you think it better for a man to rot away for 25 years, possibly getting traumatized (to put it mildly) forever, instead of treating him like a man and working off to pay for his crimes?

The prison system by definition makes the victim pay twice: once for the crime and continually afterwards in sustaining the criminal.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Btw, a code cannot be "just" and only limited to one people. That is cultural relativism. As Norman Geisler states,

Norman Geisler states, defending and defining moral absolutes,

1. An objective moral duty--a duty for all persons
2. An eternal obligation--a duty for all times.
3. a universal obligation--a duty for all places

( Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, p. 501)

The alternative to moral absolutes is cultural relativism.
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
Believe me if one of you Reconstructionists discovered a new country and established your own theonomic government, I would move there in a heart-beat.
This brings up an interesting point: no theonomic Christian society has ever existed and I doubt one ever will. The code was time-bound as it was never intended to be permanent. People would (and do) try to come up with all sorts of typologies to make Moses fit industrial society. It would be like the writing of the Talmud all over again. And since the state has no teaching authority, textual disputes would be inherently irreconcilable.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
Many commentators consider the slavery laws of the OT to be indentured servitude laws. If so, then you have just said that God's civil law contradicts his moral law.
You can't just port Moses into the United States. It doesn't translate. Even if we put the covenantal issues aside, we are a completely different people, in another time, in a industrialized society, with our own culture. Bringing back indentured servitude for the reason you mention is cruelty.

We are not ancient Israel. The code is just, but it expired and it was never meant for us. The Gospel call was not to rebuild the Temple, but to invade the Roman Empire. We are the children of that campaign.
So, do you think it better for a man to rot away for 25 years, possibly getting traumatized (to put it mildly) forever, instead of treating him like a man and working off to pay for his crimes?

The prison system by definition makes the victim pay twice: once for the crime and continually afterwards in sustaining the criminal.
Nice! The prison system as is solves no problems long term. It is gulag and barbaric and frankly....creates worse criminals..
 
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clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
Btw, a code cannot be "just" and only limited to one people.
The laws of Puritan Board only apply to one people (us) and are not a universal code of human rights. Yet that is not relativism.

Likewise, the common law is only for one set of people (we English-speaking folk). Yet our magistrates made a good faith effort to make decisions that reflected the moral law ordained by God. They were not relativists for not telling the Belgians how to live.

I want to live in a constitutional republic based on Anglo-American legal traditions. The English Puritans did too. Why is this bad?
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
The prison system as is solves no problems long term. It is gulag and barbaric and fankly....creates worse criminals..
Prisons should sequester violent and anti-social criminals from society. I agree that the American's prison are barbaric, but I don't see that as an argument against prisons themselves.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Bringing back indentured servitude for the reason you mention is cruelty.
Could you elaborate? What standard are you using that judges indentured servitude for the reason Jacob mentioned as 'cruelty'? You are accusing God of cruelty, are you not?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Believe me if one of you Reconstructionists discovered a new country and established your own theonomic government, I would move there in a heart-beat.
This brings up an interesting point: no theonomic Christian society has ever existed and I doubt one ever will. The code was time-bound as it was never intended to be permanent. People would (and do) try to come up with all sorts of typologies to make Moses fit industrial society. It would be like the writing of the Talmud all over again. And since the state has no teaching authority, textual disputes would be inherently irreconcilable.
This is exactly my concern about Theonomy. Why hasn't it been used before? Do theonomists consider our founding fathers to be theonomists?
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
The prison system as is solves no problems long term. It is gulag and barbaric and fankly....creates worse criminals..
Prisons should sequester violent and anti-social criminals from society. I agree that the American's prison are barbaric, but I don't see that as an argument against prisons themselves.
All I am saying is this...suppose some 19 year old steals a set of tires....ok..yes it is criminal and sinful. But at the same time it BREAKS my heart this kid will probably be victimized in a way for 5 years and that this "justice" is no justice at all.....the punishment would not meet the crime.:2cents:
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Believe me if one of you Reconstructionists discovered a new country and established your own theonomic government, I would move there in a heart-beat.
This brings up an interesting point: no theonomic Christian society has ever existed and I doubt one ever will. The code was time-bound as it was never intended to be permanent. People would (and do) try to come up with all sorts of typologies to make Moses fit industrial society. It would be like the writing of the Talmud all over again. And since the state has no teaching authority, textual disputes would be inherently irreconcilable.
This is exactly my concern about Theonomy. Why hasn't it been used before? Do theonomists consider our founding fathers to be theonomists?
RJ Rushdoony wrote several books defending the Founding Fathers.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Btw, a code cannot be "just" and only limited to one people.
The laws of Puritan Board only apply to one people (us) and are not a universal code of human rights. Yet that is not relativism.
They are more like regulations than laws. Disanalogous.

Likewise, the common law is only for one set of people (we English-speaking folk). Yet our magistrates made a good faith effort to make decisions that reflected the moral law ordained by God. They were not relativists for not telling the Belgians how to live.
But what moral principle(s) is the common-law grounded in?

I want to live in a constitutional republic based on Anglo-American legal traditions. The English Puritans did too. Why is this bad?
Relevance?????
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
Btw, a code cannot be "just" and only limited to one people.
The laws of Puritan Board only apply to one people (us) and are not a universal code of human rights. Yet that is not relativism.
They are more like regulations than laws. Disanalogous.
There's no meaningful distinction between regulations and laws. Sinful men must apply the moral law equitably to their time and situation, whether in government or voluntary associations.

Likewise, the common law is only for one set of people (we English-speaking folk). Yet our magistrates made a good faith effort to make decisions that reflected the moral law ordained by God. They were not relativists for not telling the Belgians how to live.
But what moral principle(s) is the common-law grounded in?[/QUOTE]

The moral law. Moses is a model of justice, but not a blueprint. He doesn't tell us how to run a police department.

I want to live in a constitutional republic based on Anglo-American legal traditions. The English Puritans did too. Why is this bad?
Relevance?????[/QUOTE]

Establishing theonomy would force the reinvention of jurisrudence, as all decisions must be based on Moses. You might keep the institutions, but the law itself would be up for grabs. Lawyers, being ornery critters, would come up with more and more bizzare interpretations. Since the Mosaic law is not portable, we would be tied down to abstractions, whether than the functioning equity we have.
 

clstamper

Puritan Board Freshman
RJ Rushdoony wrote several books defending the Founding Fathers.
To borrow a Van Tillian phrase, this is a paradox. Rushdoony claimed that the old republic was based on the Ten Commandments. Then came theonomy, which didn't mesh with the previous party line. The transition was never clearly explained. I'm supposed to believe that the constitutional system is merely procedural -- and that all we need do is stir in Moses and shake well to create a Christian society.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
Lev 19:27:
Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
Shouldn't all theonomists have a beard like Rushdoony? How does the theonomist interpret such an OT law?
Don't know if Rushdoony's beard would have counted; it was neatly trimmed.

This may have been a cultural stipulation, just like greeting one another with a holy kiss was in the New Testament.

Perhaps the pagans attached some superstitious value to shaving or something.
I think the Egyptians were very scrupulous about shaving, but I don't know what significance they ascribed to it.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Would this not be considered a case law that did in fact separate Israel (as God's people) from other nations? Today, the application has changed as society has changed, but the principle remains the same. The Church (as God's people) are to be separate from the world.
Are you saying that the only purpose of this law was to separate Israel from the Gentiles? If so then it separated them in the manner of their appearance. You say that God's people today should be seperated from the world in appearance also. Is that the 'principle' that remains the same? That our appearance should be different than the world?

Or are you trying to draw an analogy between Israel 'looking' different and the Church 'behaving' differently? If so, I've never understood this analogy because Israel was required to behave differently than the world as well.

The bottom line is, I don't see where the Bible teaches that the law of the beard was simply to make Israel look different than the Gentiles.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
RJ Rushdoony wrote several books defending the Founding Fathers.
To borrow a Van Tillian phrase, this is a paradox. Rushdoony claimed that the old republic was based on the Ten Commandments. Then came theonomy, which didn't mesh with the previous party line. The transition was never clearly explained. I'm supposed to believe that the constitutional system is merely procedural -- and that all we need do is stir in Moses and shake well to create a Christian society.
Whether Rush was consistent in it is a different question (and I fully grant you might have a point there). However, with the notable exception of Gary North, most theonomists did not see themselves at odds with the Founding Fathers. I think of Bahnsen, Demar, Rushdoony, Morecraft, Doug Phillips, Gentry, etc. Now, whether they are indeed consistent is a different question. But they didn't see themselves attacking the Founders'.

So if you asked them the question, "What's wrong with just going back to the Founders'?" They would answer, "Not much. We're on board with you here."

However, here is where I think they have a point: The whole country has drifted into statism and is at odds with teh Founders. That, I think, is the thrust of their critique in American history.
 

Jim Johnston

Puritan Board Sophomore
The laws of Puritan Board only apply to one people (us) and are not a universal code of human rights. Yet that is not relativism.

Yes, it actually is relativism. The rules are "binding for us" but we hardly expect all discussion board members across the WWW to be held accountable to our "rules." In fact, we'd probably say that other members of other discussion boards should follow *those rules* as those rules are "binding for them." Now, this forum may be some form of combinatorial relativism, but even that is stretching.

Anyway, never mind me....
 

Barnpreacher

Puritan Board Junior
Would this not be considered a case law that did in fact separate Israel (as God's people) from other nations? Today, the application has changed as society has changed, but the principle remains the same. The Church (as God's people) are to be separate from the world.
Are you saying that the only purpose of this law was to separate Israel from the Gentiles? If so then it separated them in the manner of their appearance. You say that God's people today should be seperated from the world in appearance also. Is that the 'principle' that remains the same? That our appearance should be different than the world?

Or are you trying to draw an analogy between Israel 'looking' different and the Church 'behaving' differently? If so, I've never understood this analogy because Israel was required to behave differently than the world as well.

The bottom line is, I don't see where the Bible teaches that the law of the beard was simply to make Israel look different than the Gentiles.
Ken,

Please see:

Leviticus 18:1-5,
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD."
God's people (Israel) were to LOOK and ACT differently from the Gentile pagans around them. That is much of what Moses spends teaching the people in Leviticus 18-20 (Which includes the beard in Leviticus 19:27).

He goes on to say in Leviticus 20:7-8,

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.
We see this in New Testament language in II Corinthians 6:14-7:1,

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
I believe that we as Christians today can look at Leviticus 18-20 and the principles laid down therein to help us make ethically righteous decisions of separation from the world. If this were not true then II Timothy 3:16-17 would not be true:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Every single verse found in the Bible gives us direction for how to live and make righteous decisions. That doesn't mean it's always easy to discern how to do so. Let me quote Bahnsen in "By This Standard" (p. 7):

We need to be sensitive to the fact that interpreting the OT law, properly categorizing its details (for example, ceremonial, standing, cultural), and making modern day applications of the authoritative standards of the OT is NOT AN EASY OR SIMPLE TASK. It is not always readily apparent to us how to understand an OT commandment or use it properly today. So the position taken here does not make everything in Christian ethics a simple matter of looking up obvious answers in a code-book. Much hard thinking - exegetical and theological homework - is entailed by a commitment to the position advocated in these studies.
But if II Timothy 3 is true (and you and I both believe it is) then that homework must be done. God does not have one standard of justice for one and another standard for another. That doesn't mean that the applications don't change (such as shaving the beard, putting a roof around the top of your house), but the principle remains the same. It is our job to learn and understand that from Scripture.

Some notes of mine from an Ethics course by Bahnsen on this subject:

The course of history changes the judicial and ceremony laws in terms of how we obey them. The course of history does not change the moral law because it is stated in such a generalized form that there isn’t anything that changes from situation to situation (thou shalt not steal etc.).

There is a different reason for the change of the judicial and ceremonial laws through the course of history. The judicial law changes its application through the course of history simply because the cases change. We don’t live in a society where we have flat roofs where we entertain people. Therefore we don’t have to have a railing around our roof. We do live in a society where people can be endangered when we don’t have a fence around our pool etc. With the change of history there are changes of illustration and a change of the judicial law. But that is not the reason for the change in the case of ceremonial laws. The accomplishment of redemption changes our observation of the ceremonial law. Christ has come fulfilling the shadows of the OT. So, don’t think the judicial law should be merged into the ceremonial law. They are not of the same ethical category. The judicial law changes because culture changes. Ceremonial law changes because of the accomplishment of redemption. The moral law doesn’t change because it’s stated in such generalized terms that there’s nothing to change.
I don't pretend to be an expert in this field. I don't even pretend to be a theonomist. I just know what I've studied can't be ignored. There are a lot brighter minds on this board than mine that can set me straight, but as of right now this is the best way I can explain Bahnsen's explanation of theonomy.

God Bless!

Psalm 119:160

Thy word is true from the beginning: and EVERY ONE of thy righteous judgments ENDURETH FOR EVER.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
That was the answer I was looking for, Mr. Barnhart! It is nice to hear a theonomist admit that application of the judicial laws would be a very difficult task. I have to say that I agree with this kind of theonomy. It reflects a love for God's Law and therefore a desire to apply it as much as possible to society through unity. To me that sounds a lot like Madison and Hamilton et al. If that is theonomy then it sounds to me like our founding fathers were theonomists.

But some theonomists seem to speak with words, like 'obviously' and 'surely' and I have to reply, "It ain't obvious to me!" Why is it 'obvious' that we should stone disobedient children and yet not punish shavers? I like the kind of theonomy that you and Jacob describe.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
So you guys think you can do a better job than the American Puritans did? How many 'witches' does it take to hang that notion?

Isn't the lesson here that God's perfect law in the hands of sinners turns into a very dangerous thing?
 
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