Jay Rogers
Director:
Jay Rogers

Links Recent Posts

Archives

The Forerunner Weblog

Answering an objection about theonomy

The following is from author Peter Otajian.

Dear Friends,

As you know, I am far from being an expert in theonomy and Christian Reconstruction and still have much to learn and grow before I ever catch up to many of you. Ergo, I request your help in answering the objections of one of my Deacon friends from my church to whom I emailed Rev. Paul M. Raymond’s sermon on:

The Biblical View of Culture and Social Theory 11.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=129072330332

Below is my good Deacon friend’s response:

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the sermon audio – it is a polemical sermon and includes a swipe at the amillennialist position. I am sympathetic to the frustrations and concerns, but overall I think there is need for greater exegesis from Scripture to be convincing. Also he appeals to section 23 of the WCF, but I do not think that the WCF as a whole supports Theonomy and Reconstructionism (see WCF sect. 19.4).

Friends,

I truly appreciate all of your time and consideration in answering this serious objection if you can. It should be very educational to all of us and it will buttress and re-enforce us in what we believe.

Your comrade in Christ,

- Peter

It’s an ironic position to take that England, Scotland and America were not theonomic and Reconstructionist in the mid-1600s when the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) was adopted.

For some hard data on this, I’d recommend Iain Murray’s The Puritan Hope. The fact is that not all Puritans and Presbyterians were postmillennial. In fact, that term did not exist then. There was no distinction between amillennialism and postmillenialism until later. Premillennialism existed on the fringes, but was viewed as aberrant. The so-called “Fifth Monarchy Men” were akin to the modern “end-times” prophets. The problems they caused served as a lesson for us today. However, Murray does a good job showing that what we now call “postmillennialism” was the dominant eschatological view among those who adopted the Westminster Confession. It was the “Puritan Hope.”

In addition to the solid optimistic eschatological outlook among the Puritans and Presbyterians, theonomy was the order of the day. If you read John Knox’s interviews with Mary Queen of Scots in The Reformation of Scotland they both appealed directly to the Bible in their arguments about civil policy.

When John Knox, a student of John Calvin, defended Protestantism in the court of Mary Queen of Scots he did not shrink back from the binding nature of the Law of God. He even openly proclaimed in these debates that the death penalty should be carried out in accordance with the prescribed biblical sanctions. These debates demonstrate conclusively that Knox was a theonomist in the sense that he believed in the continuing binding validity of Old Testament penal sanctions.

Knox wrote:

This we have not by profane writers only; but the Holy Spirit taught us this infallible truth, that where iniquity reigns in a commonwealth, and none is found boldly and openly to reprehend the same, that there shall sudden vengeance and destruction follow.

Knox then quotes from Ezekiel 22, and says that the moral Law of God, as reiterated by the prophet, is for every nation.

Advert, madam, for these are not the words of mortal man, but of the eternal God, and were not spoken against Jerusalem only, but against every realm and nation that so offends.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Bible shaped civil law either by direct application or by principle. Whether Puritan, Presbyterian, Anglican or Roman Catholic, biblical law formed the basis for determining the civil law. When Henry VIII wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragorn he appealed to the prohibition against marriage to his now deceased brother’s wife, which was forced on Arthur and then Henry when they were still youths in order to secure an alliance between Spain and England.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife: it is thy brother’s nakedness (Leviticus 18:16).

Here was the question posed to the Catholic Church: Since Arthur and Catherine did not have sexual relations during their brief marriage, did the the injunction of Leviticus still apply? Catherine claimed the marriage was never consummated and therefore the marriage to Henry was legitimate.

The Catholic Church argued that the case law here applied only to Levitical priests and that Henry had no right to have the marriage annulled based on the precepts of Leviticus. And in fact, that is what the WCF means when it says that certain laws are no longer applicable – either they were for the priests specifically or described the civil structure of the twelve tribes. Those laws obviously passed with the passing of civil Israel.

To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people, not obliging any other, now, further than the general equity thereof may require (WCF 19.4).

But it is shortsighted to say that the Reformed and Presbyterian churches did not try to apply the law of God to civil, ecclesiastical or familial polity. The modern theonomic movement does not teach that we do not need to adapt the case laws to our modern culture

  1. The Ten Commandments are binding and have not passed (no Christian and certainly no Calvinist would argue that we don’t need to obey the Ten commandments). Cursing God is still wrong, Sabbath breaking is wrong. Murder, adultery, theft and lying are still wrong.
  2. The case laws where they are specific and applicable still apply and, in fact, they are part of our law code. Today, we differentiate between first degree murder and homicide based on biblical law. Biblical law also gives us the parameters for incest, when a rape is a capital crime and why a “date rape” might involving some culpability on the part of the woman. It describes why pollution laws may exist and that cruelty to animals is forbidden.
  3. Some civil laws may be derived from the case laws in principle. For instance, the law requiring a rail around a rooftop (Deut 22:8) may be applied to tort law that makes a property owner responsible for injuries that take place around unsafe construction works.
  4. The aspect of theonomy that most moderns oppose are the capital cases, that is, those laws that carried death by stoning as a penalty. Here again, we only need to look at the civil laws during the centuries surrounding the Reformation to see that adultery, homosexuality, sorcery were considered capital offenses. It makes no sense to say that the general equity clause of the WCF describes the abrogation of these punishments. If anything, biblical law would have reigned in the abuses of medieval justice in punishing witches without two or more eyewitnesses and without due process.

I have always thought that this argument over whether the Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians were being “non-theonomic” when they wrote the WCF is both myopic and stunningly stupid. This point of view is foisted by Reformed people who are squeamish about applying the civil sanctions of the moral law of God — especially the death penalty in any case except premeditated murder.

But the fact of the matter is that England, Scotland and America had all sorts of capital sanctions on the books for rape, adultery, witchcraft, and so on, at the time of the signing of the WCF in 1646. For example, in 1650 England’s Parliament passed laws making adultery punishable by death.

However, it was not the WCF that brought these laws to bear. All of Christendom had more capital laws than we do today. Sometimes they even superseded the recommended penalties of the Bible and were far more harsh than the Mosaic Code could ever be interpreted — especially as perceived by today’s humanistic standards.

For instance, we had death penalty laws on the books in some states for horse thieves until the 20th century. Calvin sided with those who would execute Servetus, but thought that beheading rather than burning was the way to go. Cromwell advocating cutting off the king’s head “with the crown upon it.” And so on.

So in reality, a “theonomic” interpretation of the law actually softened the harshness of the civil penalties for most crimes of that day.

For evidence of this, see my article here:

Theonomic Find Surprises Historians

See also yesterday’s USA Today article here:

Adultery, in many states, is still a crime

Your comments are welcome!

Textile Help

The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!

These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

Although the content is emotionally gut-wrenching, these videos have been used in church seminars and small groups to educate Christians on the abortion issue and to lead people toward a pro-life position. Contains 2 hours and 40 minutes of materials that can be shown separately.

Watch these pro-life videos on-line.

“These videos helped change my mind from pro-choice to pro-life. Your videos are what did it for me. I will be walking in next year’s March For Life in San Francisco.” — A. Jackson, California

“I was going to have an abortion until I saw your video. Praise Jesus!”
— M. Drew, YouTube Commenter

$4.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information


Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

$49.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

Click here for more information

Share |

Search this site:
View CCNow Cart/Checkout
View CCNow Cart/Checkout

RSS
Subscribe to
The Forerunner

Have The Forerunner Weblog sent straight to your inbox!

Enter your email address:

YouTube
The Forerunner Channel on YouTube


Promote Your Page Too

Featured Product
If you like the articles on this website, you may also be interested in:

Featured Articles

Live Seminar!

Real Jesus
The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
continued ...


View My Stats