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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The Theological Reasoning Behind Reformed Libertarianism

This is a cross post from Facebook, but I thought I would preserve it. Somebody asked me for the Theological Reasoning Behind Reformed Libertarianism. So here it is:

1) Man was made in the image of God, the primary characteristic of this being the dominion mandate, meaning that God has given men a stewardship responsibility over their lives and the portion of creation under their control. We are to exercise this dominion in accordance with God’s law and for his glory.(Gen 1, Matt 25)

2) Since other men are conspicuously absent from the rather exhaustive list of things man is to have dominion over, and seeing as how men are to consider the lives (Gen 6:9, Ex 20:13) and property (Ex 20:15,17) of other men to be off-limits, and since God holds each person individually accountable (Matt 25, Ezek 18, 2 Cor 5), it can therefore be concluded that the dominion mandate falls on each person individually.

Therefore each person has the individual responsibility of self-stewardship (which the secularists call self-ownership). This grants each person the duty and human right to exercise the authority incumbent in the dominion mandate over his own life, person and property. To restrict a man’s dominion over such is to offend against the image of God in him, which is really to offend against God. (psst: this is the Non-aggression Principle)

Because sinful men love to offend against God and therefore have no respect for their neighbors, God communicated these standards, first in seed form as part of the Noahic Covenant (Gen 9:6) and later in fuller detail in Exodus 20-24 (though they were clearly in force by the first generation after the fall (Gen 4) though we have no inspired record of them being communicated).

In doing so, God set forth a principle of justice for this fallen world that those who do wrong to their neighbor should be harmed in equal measure to the harm they caused (Ex 21:23-25).

Thus property rights are to be seen as the foundational principle on which the apparatus of justice in a civil society is to be constructed, and by which justice in a civil society is to be measured and evaluated.

As part of that apparatus, God has instituted the role of magistrate in society. The magistrate is anyone who serves other men by bearing the sword against those who wrong their neighbor. (Romans 13:3-4). In doing so, he is not to be “a terror to good conduct”, meaning he is only to bear the sword against those who do evil, as God has defined his role.

Thus, the very maximum any government has theological authorization to do is to serve citizens by aiding them in defending their life, liberty and property and bringing vengeance upon those who agress against them.

Any government that uses its power to break God’s law is a corrupt and invalid government in God’s eyes. Any government that abuses its position to take away the rights of those who’s rights it is tasked with protecting, is no true government at all, but a criminal organization.

We Christians are still called to be ordered under such a government (even Nero), but that does not make such government valid. And in as much as we have influence in the government, as officials or as voters, we ought to use our influence to direct government to follow God’s standard.

The only governments God considers morally valid are the ones who use their sword against wrong doers and only against wrong doers.

Ultimately the only government that will prefectly meet that qualification is King Jesus.

Justice under the sun is always going to be imperfect. However that should not stop us from upholding the perfect standard as the target we are aiming for in our political action.

Now, as stated here, this is a very broad tent under which many forms of government might fit including certain forms of theonomy and a constitutionally limited republic (provided that the constitution is actually founded on these principals and the republic is actually limited by such constitution.)

I believe further logical and exegetical analysis would swing the balance around to favor anarcho-capitalism much more strongly, but I’ll save that for a future post.

For now, it is not so much my aim to convince the world to be Anarcho-Capitalists, though I would love it if that were so. For the time being, it would be sufficient if everyone could simply agree to the founding theological framework I have described here as the grounding for all analysis of government. I think MOST Christians, certainly Reformed ones, DO agree to this, though many have not fully thought through the logical implications of it, and thus are not Anarcho-Capitalists. I think the primary reason for that is a lack of knowledge and clarity about what Anarcho-Capitalism actually IS and what it is not. See Al Mohler for an example of such confusion.

Kevin DeYoung ALMOST Gets it on Gay Marriage

The Gospel Coalition published an article today by Kevin DeYoung in which he made yet another case for why Christians should oppose Gay Marriage. His main points were relatively predictable: Marriage has historically be recognized as one man and one woman; State Recognition of Gay Marriage will result in religious oppression against Christians who dissent. He did, however, say some interesting things that I thought were worth highlighting and interacting with.

DeYoung clarifies very well what is actually going on in the political movement regarding Gay Marriage.

There’s a lot of confusion in this world, and among those things is the confusion that the Libertarian position on marriage is connected to the LGBT movement. This is false. Now the Libertarian world is a bit disjointed, so I’ll grant that that may be a correct diagnosis of SOME Libertarians. But just as there are some Libertarians who are Pro Choice, the position of the Reformed Libertarian must not be confused with them.

Whatever our belief on the correct definition of marriage, and whether gay marriage should be allowed, DeYoung does a good job of clarifying what is the real goal of the LGBT movement.

we need to be sure we are talking about the same thing. Let’s think about what is not at stake in the debate over gay marriage.

○ The state is not threatening to criminalize homosexual behavior. Since the Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas (2003), same-sex intimacy has been legal in all fifty states.
○ The state is not going to prohibit gays and lesbians from committing themselves to each other in public ceremonies or religious celebrations.
○ The state is not going to legislate whether two adults can live together, profess love for one another, or express their commitment in erotic ways.

The issue is not about controlling “what people can do in their bedrooms” or “who they can love.” The issue is about what sort of union the state will recognize as marriage.

Then later down, he gets even clearer:

…They want public recognition…

[…]

We must not be naïve. The legitimization of same-sex marriage will mean the de-legitimization of those who dare to disagree. The sexual revolution has been no great respecter of civil and religious liberties. Sadly, we may discover that there is nothing quite so intolerant as tolerance.

Indeed, true Libertarians who are consistent with their own principles will be opposed to the LGBT efforts in this area, not because they seek true equality and freedom, but they seek the coercion of those who hold differing opinions. True Libertarians (thin Libertarians) stand on the side of the bakers refusing to bake cakes and against the gay couple seeking to force them to bake them. Even though we believe the gay couple should have the equal right to have such a ceremony, we do not believe this confers upon them the right to coerce others

The LGBT community does want to coerce others. They want to police thoughts and opinions and to outlaw all that they consider to be an expression of intolerance. If they have their way, this will mean the State mandating that Christian churches perform weddings and other such things. Libertarians agree that such an outcome is unjust.

DeYoung makes a strong case for why marriage works best and society is benefited when it is done according to God’s plan.

DeYoung does a good job of arguing from a social standpoint why marriage works best when done the way God designs it. Of course, that is not the source of moral authority on the matter. All moral authority comes from the Word of God. But it is also good to observe, as Solomon often does in the proverbs, just how things go better when wisdom grown out of the fear of the Lord is followed.

Says DeYoung (emphasis added):

We must consider why the state has bothered to recognize marriage in the first place. What’s the big deal about marriage? Why not let people have whatever relationships they choose and call them whatever they want? Why go to the trouble of sanctioning a specific relationship and giving it a unique legal standing? The reason is that the state has an interest in promoting the familial arrangement whereby a mother and a father raise the children which came from their union. The state has been in the marriage business for the common good and for the well-being of the society it is supposed to protect. Kids do better with a mom and a dad. Communities do better when husbands and wives stay together. Hundreds of studies confirm both of these statements (though we all can think of individual exceptions, I’m sure). Gay marriage assumes that marriage is re-definable and the moving parts replaceable.

Now we want to be careful that we don’t overstate this argument. I don’t like his hand-waving claim of “Hundreds of studies.” That’s way to vague to interact with. What parameters is he exactly referring to here? For at least one set of those parameters, this clam is demonstrably false.

But with the overall point, I do agree. It is true that God created the family for a reason, and that life goes better when it is lived according to God’s plan.

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people.
– Proverbs 14:34

So Christians should be interested in promoting traditional marriage. I do not dispute this. But there’s an implied question there isn’t there. Keep reading.

DeYoung totally misunderstands the Christian Libertarian position because he completely misses what the real problem is.

I’ve hinted a couple times at the real Libertarian position on Gay Marriage, and it is the crux of this issue. DeYoung has a certain understanding of that position:

It is a sad irony that those who support gay marriage on libertarian grounds are actually ceding to the state a vast amount of heretofore unknown power. No longer is marriage treated as a pre-political entity which exists independent of the state. Now the state defines marriage and authorizes its existence. Does the state have the right, let alone the competency, to construct and define our most essential relationships?

Now I must grant, again, that this is the position of some who call themselves Libertarians. It may be so as a means of compromise, or because they are inconsistent. As I said before, Libertarianism is a broad umbrella.

But Christian, Reformed Libertarians are clear on this point. Our position is not that the government ought to recognize gay marriage. It is that government ought to recognize no marriage.

Here is the official Libertarian Party platform (emphasis added):

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.

And Laurence Vance:

Same-sex couples should certainly have the right to form any kind of legal arrangement they choose whereby medical and financial decisions by one party on behalf of another could be made. But this right has nothing to do with them being a same-sex couple. It is only because any couple – gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, transgendered, or undecided – or any group of people should have the right to form any kind of legal arrangement they choose. If they want to call their arrangement a marriage, have a ceremony, and go on a honeymoon – fine. They have the freedom to do so just like they have the freedom to replace their Chevy emblems with Ford emblems and call their Camaro a Mustang. They just shouldn’t expect or demand everyone else to violate nature, language, tradition, and history and do likewise.

And Norman Horn:

Libertarians in general should not think marriage “licensing” is any better than occupation licenses, and are not within the purview of governmental power. If government has any purpose at all in this arena of life, it is to be a storehouse for consensually agreed upon contracts, of which Christian marriage or other arrangements such as those between homosexuals could be included. However, it is not up to the state to decide how to regulate such contracts.

Christian marriage is an institution of the church, not that of the government. Therefore, the government should have no power to tell churches what they can and cannot do regarding Christian marriage.

And C.Jay Engel (emphasis added):

No one has any authority to define marriage contrary to Scripture, which declares that marriage is a legal and spiritual union whereby one man and one woman become one flesh through means of a covenant.

Marriage is neither a state institution nor a church ordinance. Marriage is a common (though divine) institution and is not unique to the kingdom of Christ (which has been given the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper). […]

It is an agreement between two people. Though the terms and conditions are much more solemn, a marriage agreement is not altogether different than any other kind of legally binding agreement between two parties. Just as the state does not issue a license for every agreement people enter into, neither should they nor need they issue a marriage license. […]

Individuals in a free society are at liberty to honor or reject another party’s marriage. Christians are under no obligation to honor an unbiblical marriage (homosexual or otherwise) but neither may they restrict two parties from voluntarily entering into an agreement.

So to sum up, our position is that government should not be in the business of issuing marriage licenses at all – not even to straight couples.

But Why?

Because there’s another issue that he has almost completely overlooked. Well, no, that’s not quite right. He hasn’t completely overlooked it, he’s just not recognized it for what it is.

He almost gets it! He says at one point.

the state is engaging in (or at least codifying) a massive re-engineering of our social life.

Of course if that’s true, then there must be something inherent in what the State does in response to marriage. There must be something inherent in what a State issued marriage license is that this would be the obvious, natural impact of it.

A State issued marriage license is a writ of coercion. With it, you may use the implied threat of government force against various people in various ways in order to get what you want from them. You may coerce insurance companies into giving you favorable policies, for example. We reject all forms of coercion, and do not believe that the world becomes a more peaceful or just place by an increase of coercion, but a decrease.

The bottom line is that the State, in “recognizing marriages” and “promoting the familial arrangement whereby a mother and a father raise the children which came from their union,” does so with the only tool in its bag: The Sword.

Yes, the LGBT community wants to take that Sword and wield it against us, and to this we are absolutely opposed. But must we take that same sword and wield it back at them?

Why can’t we instead work towards a society in which there is no coercive aggression committed against anyone who has not himself initiated coercive aggression?

Ostensibly it’s “for the children.” Going back to his argument that traditional marriage is better, he said:

The reason is that the state has an interest in promoting the familial arrangement whereby a mother and a father raise the children which came from their union. The state has been in the marriage business for the common good and for the well-being of the society it is supposed to protect. Kids do better with a mom and a dad. Communities do better when husbands and wives stay together.

Yet what he fails to demonstrate is why the State is necessary to these ends! He fails to demonstrate how these would be threatened by a society without marriage licenses. Like if we didn’t have a legal means to coerce others, then there would be no way to raise kids in a nuclear family. Though to be fair, he did not have this in mind as the Libertarian view he was rebutting, so I don’t know that he realized he would need to.

Earlier in the Article, he said:

Any legal system which distinguishes marriage from other kinds of relationships and associations will inevitably exclude many kinds of unions in its definition.

This again begs the question of whether they should be distinguishing marriage from other kinds of relationships at all. There is no need for them to.

In short, DeYoung issues this cry of alarm:

if and when same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land—the integrity of the family will be weakened and the freedom of the church will be threatened.

While I don’t disagree with the second proposition, as has been discussed, that first one leaves a lot to be desired. The integrity of the family will be weakened? Not my family. I don’t need the State telling other people how to live in order for my family to follow the Lord.

My Definitive Exegesis of Romans 13, and How it Supports Anarchy

Introduction

I have set forth in this post to demonstrate the preference for Anarchy from the Scriptures by exegesis. I am an anarchist who was, until recently, a minarchist because I could not “get around” Romans 13. But in recent months I have come to accept anarchy through careful study of Romans 13.

In a recent casual debate, I was accused of begging the question. My “opponent” claimed that I could not prove any of my positions (that taxation is theft, primarily) without first presupposing anarchy. In short, he accused me of eisegesis, though he didn’t put it in such terms.

So this post has the main goal of showing my work, to demonstrate how my exegesis of Romans 13 leads me to anarchy. I do this to answer my critic and to explain my new position to my faithful readers who know that I was once a minarchist. Continue reading My Definitive Exegesis of Romans 13, and How it Supports Anarchy

“The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you”

There is much blasphemy running around the world these days, and while there is no outright persecution in the United States, at least, there certainly is a writhing sense of loathing seething under the surface. They malign us as bigots who are responsible for all the woes of society that their progressive humanism has cured and that promoting the standard of God’s Word, we are trying to “roll back the clock” and are “on the wrong side of history.” And because of this tension and conflict, many unbelievers have come to view God unfavorably.

Is there a problem with that? Not necessarily, no. The unbeliever walks in darkness and the standard of God’s law is the light. As it is written, “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)

So when we shine the light of God’s Word on the world, we should expect them to experience a certain amount of discomfort. We should expect a certain unpleasant response from them. This is all normal and a part of what Jesus told us to expect when he said, “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you… If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:18-20)

Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of people seem to draw the line. Because there is more to be said. Consider this passage from Romans 2:17-24

…if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth – you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?

While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

Here Paul brings light to the fact that hypocrisy has a damaging affect on one’s witness for God and actually causes the world to blaspheme on our account. What a terrible thing! We would never be guilty of this in our day and age, would we?

Except I think that we are in the realm of politics. It’s too easy to take pot shots at the Mainstream Christian Right, but I would even include the Theonomist in this charge. In fact, I think the Theonomist is most directly in focus here – not that Paul was speaking about politics, mind you. The Theonomist certainly boasts in the Law (not in the salvific sense… please don’t misunderstand…)

So what is my charge? It is this: That in our quest to uphold the Law of God and use it as God’s standard for our lives and to commend it as God’s standard for others lives, to the degree that we use politics and government as our means to achieve those ends, we have transgressed God’s law by committing violence against people without just cause. In doing so, we have caused people to blaspheme God. Whether you’re a theonomist or one of the looser versions of the Christian right, if you support the State, you are guilty of trying to use violence to force people into the mold of God’s law.

This is not to say that God’s law is not the right mold! This is the trap of the Theonomist. You start denouncing them like this and they say, “if not God’s law, then who’s?” God’s Law of course! But that really isn’t the point. It’s a red herring at best. Our contention is not that the Law of God is wrong, it is that the Law of God is what defines the role of civil justice. And on this we agree with the Theonomist that governments are not free to violate God’s law. No individual, group, government agent our government agency has that authority. Further, civil magistrates are not the king themselves, they are servants of King Jesus. Thus the scope of their authority is defined by his Law.

Here is where we critically diverge from the Theonomist. The Theonomist would have the full scope of God’s law, moral and judicial, enforced by the civil magistrate. We reject this, not to reject God’s law, but becasue of different exegetical conclusions from our study of the Law itself. Here we find a critical misunderstanding of the purpose of the law itself in light of redemptive-historical and covenental typology has led the Theonomist to expand the role of the civil magistrate beyond the bounds that King Jesus has defined in God’s Law defines. And it is entirely my point that the Theonomists error leads him to violate God’s Law itself, causing the Gentiles to blaspheme God.

Those are fighting words, so before I show my work, I have to back off a bit. I have no intent to sow any sort of dischord or disharmony in the church. In fact, I think it wise to consider you Theonomists as allies right now, because your understanding of God’s Law is so close to correct that we agree on the vast majority of it and are certainly in agreement that the modern, humanistic, progressive state is an abomination and an idol that should be opposed and torn down. So I think we need to be united more than divided. Yet, in light of the recent debate in which I would have laid this charge directly before McDurmon’s feet, I think that Thenomists need to be shown the error of their ways. I fully believe they have no ill will in this. I believe they are sincere in their fear of the Lord and respect for his Word and his Law. However, I think they are sincerely mistaken and I think this has put them on the wrong side of God’s law – ironically.

So, in brief, what leads me to this interpretation of God’s Law? I start with Genesis 9:6.

Genesis 9:6 established the principle that violence is punishable by violence. It leaves no room for any other just use for violence by virtue of the fact that you should expect a violent response every time you use violence other than to punish the use of violence. The use of equal force to punish the unprovoked use of force leaves no logical room for the initiation of force without justly deserving retaliation. Genesis 9:6 speaks only specifically about the crime of murder, but we can also see in the Mosaic law where this is fleshed out further through case law in Exodus 21. Thus, the civil magistrate’s jurisdiction of authority us over those sins which bring harm to victims.

Now the Theonomist thinks he has me beat because I have quoted from Exodus. That’s God’s Law, isn’t it? I must rely on God’s Law so therefore he has won. Well no. I rely on God’s Law, just not the theonomist’s interpretation of God’s Law. His error lies in incomplete exegesis of the passages in question, and a failure to ground his hermeneutics in the proper redemptive-historical and covenental context.

The Theonomist is confused by the fact that there are other portions of the law of Moses that appear to be in the domain of the civil magistrate by virtue of their civil penalties, but this is an exegetical error. It is important to observe three things.

  1. These two bodies of law (judical and moral were given in a completely different section of the law from one another.
  2. The language that is used in their commandment is drastically different from each other.
  3. Whereas in the Exodus 21 Civil/Judical case law there is an identifiable civil victim, this is not the case in any of the laws in Leviticus.

So there is a clear, exegetical distinction between the laws given in Exodus 21 and those given in Leviticus and other places. We can use this as a pattern, in fact, for determining what is civil and what is moral. Civil laws deal with the fact that there is a human, civil victim who has been harmed by some violence, fraud or gross negligence. Moral laws deal with sins involving only the person himself or another willing participant and is not, therefore, civil crime, but moral impurity.

So having established a clear exegetical distinction between the civil and moral laws, we are left with a further question: Does the scope of the civil magistrate’s authority prescribed by God’s law include the enforcement of the moral laws as well as the civil laws? Here we diverge from the Theonomist. The theonomist, if he admits that there is such a distinction, relies on the fact that there were civil penalties in Israel for these things, and so therefore, in his mind, civil penalties must be God’s prescription.

Here is where his hermeneutical expands into contextual considerations. He has failed to set the law of Moses within its proper redemptive-historical and covenental context and has failed to consider typology.

Remember, the question is not whether God’s moral law is the right moral law, but whether there is authority for men to enforce the moral law with civil penalties. God does not command this prior to Moses. Instead, he commands that the use of violencce be restricted to the punishment of those who initiate violence, giving us the non-aggression principle. It was not until the Law of Moses that there were civil penalties prescribed for these moral sins. So we must ask, by what authority were the moral laws enforced by the civil magistrate in Israel? The answer is: by the same authority that commanded the conquest of Canaan and the utter destruction if Jericho. God himself was their king (1 Samuel 8:7). So tell me, Mr. Theonomist, are land conquests and city destruction just? If not, then by what standard to you make that judgment? If not, then how is the civil enforcement of the moral law just?

But surely that’s not convincing enough. So let’s point this out another way that makes this situation even clearer. The Theonomist loves to use the argument from silence that if the New Testament hasn’t repealed something then it’s still in force. So is there anything to break this silence? Certainly there is. Consider 1 Corinthians 5. Here we see one of the moral laws from Leviticus (incest) enforced in the very specific context of church discipline using the same language from Leviticus “purge the evil from among you.”

It’s important to note some things that Paul says here. He says in verse 9 and following:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who names the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality, or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you.

Notice here that Paul does not say that God’s moral standard has change, nor that those who practice these evil deeds here are going to escape judgment. Instead, he is making a very clear point about the jurisdictional authority of God’s moral law. The scope and means of human enforcement of the moral law is the church discipline applied to the church.

We can connect these dots back to the Old Testament by way of covenant topology to see that Israel was a shadow of the church and God’s coming eternal kingdom. In Israel there was a historically unique blend of church and state that has never been divinely sanctioned before nor since and will not recur until Christ returns.

Now that the church has come and has been decoupled from the state, the scope and means of human enforcement of the moral law has been changed. What was once a matter of civil enforcement for the purpose of maintaining the purity of a covenant people living in the presence of the Shakinah glory, is now a matter of discipline for a people in whom the Spirit of God dwells individually and collectively.

This leaves the civil magistrate concerned only with those matters that are purely civil along the principle established in Genesis 9:6 and fleshed out in Exodus 21. That is to say: only those sins that cause harm to others. Those sins that have a civil victim. Those matters in which the life, liberty or property of someone is harmed through aggression, force, the threat of force, fraud, gross negligence, etc.

For a civil magistrate to do anything else is to step outside the jurisdictional authority given to him by King Jesus, to claim authority he does not have, and to violate God’s moral law by committing aggression against those who have done no harm to any victim thereby becoming the criminal.

Now I’m aware that there’s a logical issue going back to 1 Corinthians. My own brain alerts me to a potential weakness in my argument, or perhaps a chink I might use were I to debate against myself. Surely someone will say that God’s means of judging those outside is through the civil magistrate. They’ll rely on Romans 13 for this. I have been working on an exegesis of Romans 12 and 13 that will cripple this notion straight from that text, but suffice it to say this: that God does not consider the civil magistrate part of his kingdom. He uses him as he once used Assyria to judge Israel, and judges him for his sinful use of coercion in doing so, as he judged Assyria for conquering Israel, but he does not anywhere give moral blessing to him. The civil magistrate is certainly one of the tools in God’s hands that he often uses to accomplish his purposes of judgment. But we must consider carefully what the Christian might do if he found himself in the position of the civil magistrate, which is of particular relevance to our discussion of the prospect of shaping government. How ought the Christian rule as the magistrate while remianing in obedience 1 Corinthians 5:12-13? I believe he would NOT use his sword to judge those outside the church for violations of the moral law. He might use his position of authority as a platform to preach the gospel to them, certainly, but he would not use coercion. He would leave that judgment up to God who does not need the civil magistrate in order to give out just punishment to those who sin. They will get their due at the last judgment even if they escape any harm in this life. The Christian would not dare to ascend to God’s seat of judgment, but would instead leave the scope and methods of human enforcement of the moral law right where God has put it.

So when we consider Romans 2 in light of all of this, I think it should become clear that at least a certain percentage of the angst directed our way by the World has come from the fact that they feel attacked by us when we attempt to use government to direct the course of their lives. It doesn’t matter the specific issue. When governments, which are the embodiment of violence by nature, initiate force against people for any reason whatsover, they are committing criminal acts. When that is systematically directed toward whole groups of people based on some common chracteristic, they call that persecution. When we attempt to classify homosexuality as a civil crime, we are guilty of this kind of persecution, and cause people to blaspheme God because of us.

So. Should we outlaw homosexuality, or some other morally deviant behavior that does not do harm to civil victims? And cause people to blaspheme the name of God? I’ll have no part in it.

Christianity AND Libertarianism! RE: Bill Muehlenberg

I came across this blog post by a guy name Bill Muehlenberg. I know nothing about Mr. Muehlenberg and have read nothing else that he’s written. I only know this post. But I thought I would rebut. This is yet another opponent to Libertarianism who does not understand Libertarianism. Why do I bother rebutting them? Because hopefully by setting the record straight, I can help those” the fence make a more informed decision, potentially convince some to be libertarians, and maybe even convince a guy like Murhlenberg. At the very least, I hope to help him refine his arguments into something more relevant to the topic at hand. Stylistically, I sort of write this in steam as I read his article.

I initially wasn’t going to go into great length on this. I stopped reading his article in the first paragraph when I read:

I have almost zero tolerance for those so-called Christian libertarians who spend all their time trying to justify all those lousy activities”

At that point, I commented:

Respectfully, you do not understand Libertarianism. I must admit, I stopped reading when I read [the above quote]. If this is your definition of Libertarianism, then the rest of your article is not worth reading.

Christian Libertarianism is not about justifying sin. It is about opposing the sin of using violence to make people stop sinning. How do you justify this lousy activity?

Indeed that is the entire issue if this debate. Theonomists and Christian statists alike accuse Christian libertarians of having a low regard for God’s law. We are called worldly, humanist, and antinomian. But that is not even remotely the case.

We have a such a high view of God’s law and his standards for conduct that we consult his word on questions of how he would have us to promote his standards. In this way, we believe we have a higher view of God’s law than the theonomists!

We insist that violence is a violation of God’s standard, and that violating God’s standard in order to uphold God’s standard is illogical, immoral, and counterproductive.

Unfortunately, I may have played right into his hand, as he later describes people like me as being “as belligerent, ornery, argumentative and troll-like as many angry atheists or homosexuals.” So I suppose perhaps a more full and reasoned rebuttal is in order here. Continue reading Christianity AND Libertarianism! RE: Bill Muehlenberg

A Libertarian Defense of Spanking

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

This is my long overdue conclusion to the series I started back in the summer about spanking. Work has been terribly busy lately, and I have been very tired and not had a lot of energy to write. Plus, I’ve been doing a lot of debating on Facebook lately which is of dubious merit, and that has sapped a lot of my juices on this issue. Add to that the fact that I did NaNoWriMo this year, and my writing momentum for this blog has almost vanished. Oh well. I did post my critique of Dr. Clauson, and that seemed to have gotten things going again!

Well today, I want to complete my series on spanking. I’ve written two parts already in which I defend the practice of spanking from the Biblical Worldview. Today I want to tackle this from a different angle. I want to defend against the allegation that comes from certain Libertarians, Stefan Molyneux being the most prominent, that spanking is a violation of the Non-Aggression Principle, and therefore it is immoral.

In order to do this most effectively, I want to divest myself of the Biblical worldview temporarily. It’s not because I don’t think the Biblical worldview has anything to say on this, nor is it that it I don’t think it is an authoritative – or the authoritative – voice on the subject. In fact, I won’t really be leaving it behind at all. I just won’t be appealing to it, but to certain truths supported by it that are held by my opponents in order to be most practically persuasive.

So for the sake of pragmatism, I want to argue this case from a strictly anarcho-capitalist worldview, which is the worldview held by many prominent Libertarians such as Larken Rose and Stefan Malyneux.

Continue reading A Libertarian Defense of Spanking