Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Theonomy and response to a response to critics

Therefore, it is mean, illogical, and inexcusable propaanda for some theonomic critics to dismiss it as allegedly: (1) Judaizing the New Testament, (2) making the law our dynamic of sanctification, (3) denying any distinction between moral and judicial laws, (4) taking the civil use of God's law as the way of bringing in His kingdom, (5) wising to impose the kingdom by the sword, (6) asking the state to enforce all the Mosaic laws and curb all outward evil, (7) shifting emphasis from personal piety, evangelism, and the church so as to stress instead the cultural mandate, politics, and capital punishment, (8) demanding postmillennial eschatology, or (9) viewing America as God's chosen nation. [Greg L. Bahnsen, "Preface to the Second Edition," in Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, p. xxx]

Theonomy, unsurprisingly, has quite a few critics. From his book, critiques 1, 2, 4, 7, 8 and 9 do not seem to represent Theonomy as advocated by Greg Bahnsen. But the rest I think do stick in some measure or another.

Take accusation 3. Now, if the accusation is that Bahnsen does not recognize any distinction at all, then of course the accusation is false. But the issue is not whether Bahnsen recognizes a distinction, but whether the distinction he recognizes translate into how he conceives of God's law, and obviously it did not. The "judicial law" for Bahnsen remains the moral law, not a separate category called "civil law," and thus the accusation sticks.

Accusations 5 is somewhat ambiguous, because it is true that Bahnsen is not thinking of using the sword for evangelism, i.e. convert or die. The issue however is what the penal sanctions will do in a populace whereby everyone has to outwardly conform to the Mosaic law code. If we think of the kingdom not just as those who are saved but those are externally in the Church, it seems that there is in some sense an imposition of the kingdom in its external aspect. Since the Sabbath command has penal sanctions attached to it, everyone including non-believers would be compelled to attend church on Sunday or be killed, so how is this not an imposition of the kingdom by the sword? This ties in with accusation number 6. If Bahnsen says that ".. we must conclude that it is the moral responsibility of all magistrates to obey and enforce the law of God as recorded in the Older Testament (including its penal prescriptions for crime)" (p. 439), then what else can it mean except that the Mosaic laws (all of the non-ceremonial ones in "exhaustive detail) including its "penal prescriptions for crime" is to be enforced by the Magistrate?

If Theonomy wants to have the OT Mosaic laws in exhaustive detail, then they must own all of the laws in exhaustive detail. Bite the bullet and admit that all who violate the Sabbath should be put to death, and all who use the phrase "OMG" are to be put to death too. That is the Mosaic precedent and example, so they need to be consistent and own their position, warts and all.

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