Undermining the Theonomist Syllogism

It seems to me that the Theonomist argument can be boiled down to the following Syllogism:

P1) God does not change.

P2) If the Law has been abrogated, then God has changed.

C) The Law has not been abrogated.

The Reformed Libertarian objection is with P2. This is not necessarily true. If the purpose for giving the law in the first place was so that it would be a typological and eschatological foreshadow of things to come with the intention all along that it would be abrogated when those things came to fulfillment, then it is not a matter of God changing for him to abrogate the law now that those things have come to be. Rather it is a symptom of God NOT changing that he would be faithful to fulfill that plan.

For example, when Israel committed the sin of the golden calf at Mount Sinai and God was going to wipe them out, Moses interceded for them. He reminded God of his promises, and God appears to change his mind. It almost looks like God is a nearly unhinged human person who Moses talks sense to until he calms down. It even uses a word that is very similar to “repent” for what God does here.

So did God change? Certainly his course of action did! Does this mean he is no longer immutable? No longer simple?

Of course not. It meant that his purpose all along was to evoke this intercessory ministry from Moses. He never really intended to destroy Israel because he knew and sovereignly ordained what would happen. One major reason for this was because it gives us an amazing picture of Jesus’ intercessory work for us.

The same idea or pattern holds here. The judicial/civil Mosaic Law for Israel was meant, in large part, to foreshadow the coming greater Kingdom of Christ. That Kingdom is now here in a different sense, and that sense clearly does not involve using the sword against outsiders (1 Corinthians 5).

So the theonomist argument is not proven by this syllogism. Rather it begs the question of whether God’s purpose was for the law to be a type/foreshadow or whether it was intended to be set in stone for all ages.

And the answer to that question will inform our interpretation of what Jesus means by what he says in Matthew 5:17-18.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

What is meant here by these words “abolish”, “fulfill” and “accomplish”? What we understand the original purpose of the Law to be will inform the definition of those terms, won’t it? It will lead us to a certain view about whether and to what extent Christ’s life, death and resurrection fulfilled and accomplished some or all of it.

The Reformed Libertarian position, from considering the whole of Scripture and especially the whole of the New Testament, is that yes the Law is typological. It has indeed NOT been abolished, but has been, in large part, fulfilled and accomplished by Christ and the New Covenant which it was foreshadowing. There are nuances to this view, but the overall point is the same: The New Covenant is the Covenant of Grace, the Old Covenant (including Abraham’s) were all Covenants of Works with Grace coming retroactively from the New as a foreshadow. All the preceding Covenants were typological of the New and all must be interpreted in light of that typology, including elements like the Law of Moses.

No the Law has not been abolished. Certainly the moral principles of the Law (the standard of God’s holiness it sets forth for all people and especially his covenant people) is very much the same today as it was then, and the Law is inestimably valuable at teaching it to us, for it is God’s holy, infallible, inerrant, and sufficient revelation of it.

Yet it’s application to the New Covenant must take into account the ways in which Christ has fulfilled and accomplished the typology of the way it was applied in the Old Covenant. Therefore the practical application will of necessity look different today (1 Corinthians 5 gives us a hint of this).

And whatever else we believe about baptism or sabbath keeping or the second commandment or whatever…. One thing is crystal clear to us Reformed Libertarians: the standards of the Law are no longer to be enforced in exhaustive detail with the sword by the civil magistrate. For God’s covenant community no longer takes the form of a civil nation. Instead, the purpose of the sword bearing magistrate is to defend the life, person and property of those who “do good” (Romans 13).

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Against All Prohibitions

“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” – Genesis 9:6

“…if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” – Exodus 21:23-24

So on the Wire of Worthless things I came across this gem today:

This is Nancy Grace debating rapper 2Chainz about the issue of Pot Prohibition. I would declare this utterly worthless, except that it did actually provide the perfect opportunity for comment. In this video, Nancy tries to use the example of a guy who video taped himself forcing his toddler to smoke pot as an argument for the prohibition of marijuana.

She says,

My point to you is, you say that there are reasonable people that can smoke pot, use pot, and they won’t involve their children; nobody else is going to get hurt. But what about these people? That’s what makes me keep arguing about this.

So what do I say about that, huh? I’ll phrase her argument a little more directly for her: Pot should be illegal because there are bad, irresponsible people out there like the guy in this video who will use pot in such a way that hurts others.

That’s a pretty strong case for pot prohibition, wouldn’t you say? Well, no. Not at all. All you have to do to defeat that is to point out that the event filmed in this video occurred under pot prohibition. So clearly the pot prohibition that Nancy supports as a measure to prevent things like this from happening didn’t stop this from happening. Continue reading Against All Prohibitions

What Is The Goal Of Parenting? Discipleship.

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Introduction to Part 2

In my previous article, I began a Review of the practice of spanking from my seemingly unique perspective. I am a Reformed Baptist. I am a Libertarian. As a Reformed Baptist, I believe that the Scriptures clearly teach that spanking is a necessity in parenting. As a Libertarian, I believe the Scriptures clearly teach that coercive aggression is a sin. I therefore find myself in the crux of a difficult dilemma. These two truths that I hold seem to be in direct conflict. So I have been seeking for a satisfactory resolution to this dissonance. Since these things have been in my mind, and since I recently came across the article I critiqued in Part 1, I have embarked on this series to discuss my thoughts on the matter.

Part 1 covered the ground of most primary importance: What does the Word of God actually say about spanking? It took the form of a rebuttal to an article which attempted to reinterpret the Biblical teaching on the subject. I interacted with the arguments and believe that I have shown definitively that the Word clearly teaches spanking.

In today’s installment, I seek to answer the generically foundational question: “What is the goal of parenting”? This will influence our choice of methods and naturally lead us to “When do we spank?” and further to “How do we spank?” which will bring to light some critical misunderstandings about Biblical spanking which will begin to set the stage for Part 3.

In Part 3, I plan to bring this all together and attempt to resolve this apparent tension between the Non-Aggression Principle and this seemingly coercively aggressive abuse.

What Is the Goal of Parenting?

There are many ways to summarize it. Ephesians 6 says to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” One of my Elders likes to define it as “raising a godly seed”. But what does that actually mean? Let’s look a little more closely at what the Word teaches.

Continue reading What Is The Goal Of Parenting? Discipleship.

Spoil The Child? No really, the Bible DOES Command Spanking. Here’s What it says

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2Part 3

Introduction

I am probably going to get myself in a heap of trouble with this one, so I have to start with a disclaimer: I mean none of this personally. There that ought to about cover it.

So I thought I would take a break from my typical rants about homosexuality and taxation and the police state and what-not and talk about something completely different: The Larch.

No really, I want to discuss spanking. This is a topic of considerable import to me because I have young children, so I must of course have an answer to the question of spanking. Well, depending on who you are, it may or may not surprise you to know that I spank my children. I hope child protective services isn’t reading this… ahem…. No, but really we do spank our children and this is because of the instruction we have received from the Word of God through our elders and the ministry of Paul and Tedd Tripp. See, I’m a good little Reformed person aren’t I?

So why write about this? I usually use this platform for controversial topics – at least those topics that are controversial for those I tend to rub shoulders with, and this would not seem to be one of them. Well believe it or not, this is one of those issues in which it came to me that I need to be ware of a potential loophole in my thinking. I mean. I’m a Libertarian. I quote the non-aggression principle right and left. And spanking would seem to be a form of coercive aggression wouldn’t it? Have I missed something? If the Bible commands spanking and spanking is a violation of the non-aggression principle, then perhaps the NAP is not all it’s cracked up to be! Or does the NAP truly prohibit spanking in God’s economy, and have I been wrongly dividing the truth? In short, how can I be a staunch Libertarian AND spank. It would seem that something has to give. And if by some miracle the Libertarian Revolution does actually happen, how can I stand and defend the practice of spanking to the atheists who don’t hold to the authority of Scripture and believe spanking to be an outright violation of the NAP, which would decidedly make it criminal? So there is quite a lot at stake here, not the least of which are the souls of my children and the glory of God. These are not things I take lightly, and so I have given them much thought and have wanted to write about them for some time.

Then the other day, I came across this article which is an exert from the book Jesus the Gentle Parent: Gentle Christian Parenting by L.R. Nost. In this exert, she attempts to make an exegetical argument against the Biblical teaching of spanking. So having felt a bit of momentum from reading this article, and in the interest of providing a Biblically sound response for my friend who posted this on Facebook, I feel led to finally get myself in gear and write these things down.

I am going to do this in three parts. Today, I am going to interact specifically with Nost’s article and deal with what the text of Scripture actually says, particularly in the texts that she uses. Part Two will be a synthesis of my own study of the Word, the teaching of my Elders, and what I have learned from the Tripps to answer a very important question: What is the goal of parenting, which will have drastic implications for what methods we use and how we use them. Then in Part Three, I will deal with the Non-Aggression Principle and see if I can reconcile it with the teaching of Scripture. Rest assured, if I cannot, the NAP is what goes!

So for starters, go read her article so the things she says are fresh in your mind as you consider my response.

Continue reading Spoil The Child? No really, the Bible DOES Command Spanking. Here’s What it says

Dividing Moral Law from Civil Law

Click for more in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

This is the third installment of my counter series to Adam McIntosh, a man I have been picking on for a couple weeks now. If you are unfamiliar with his work, please visit The Kuyperian Commentary.

This article focuses on the second of my three critiques of McIntosh, which is that he provides a rubric for dividing between civil and moral laws that I believe to be incorrect. McIntosh says

God distinguishes between sins and crimes. If a command is given without an attached punishment, then it does not constitute as a civil law. It’s a moral law that you should obey but not a law that civil rulers are to regulate.

I plan to interact with this in today’s installment and to show where I think he is wrong, and to suggest a better rubric for dividing between criminality and private morality. In fact as we do, we may find out that McIntosh doesn’t really disagree with me, but we’ll have to see.

Unfortunately for you, the reader, I have to take a slightly windy path to get there. I do apologize. Please stick with me. There’s a gold star in it for you if you do.

Continue reading Dividing Moral Law from Civil Law

Legislate Morality?

I read these comments from Al Mohler on Facebook:

“The argument for removing polygamy laws was simple: the state has no business legislating morality. But every legislature legislates morality. Every code of laws is a codex of morality. The law is itself inherently and inescapably moral, even irreducibly moral. The law can’t be anything other than a moral statement.”

In my early days, I made that argument rather vigorously, but have now come to modify my position. It is not so much that I have abandoned what I once believed, but that I now understand the nature of that belief with greater clarity. Continue reading Legislate Morality?

Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4

This is it, I promise!. This post is the fourth and final part in a 4 part series on a Biblical Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government. You will really be lost trying to read this post on its own without the context of the other posts. I strongly recommend getting caught up first.

In Part 1, I laid a foundation for the discussion, noting that my opponents and I share critical common ground and that we need to properly contextualize Romans 13 if we are to understand what it means to us as we stand in the place of the civil magistrate in the voting booth.

In Part 2, I discussed the foundational principle of human ethics: that each individual person is made by God and for God and in his image, which means that each individual person has inherent human dignity and the right to his life, liberty and property. It is with those things in mind that we turn our attention to Romans 13.

In Part 3, I analyzed Romans 13 and discovered that there are some Biblical commands for the civil magistrate that we ought to consider: namely that the civil magistrate is commanded to punish criminals and that he is commanded not to be a terror to good conduct. 

In today’s post, I deal with a potential objection, discuss some additional concerns, like what light 1 Peter 2 and Titus 3 shed on this, and lay out my Conclusion. Thank you for reading!

OBJECTION! Surely the Government Can Do Things That Don’t Involve the Sword?

No, it can’t. Continue reading Theology of Human Authority and Civil Government Part 4