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).

Advertisements

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

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

Clay Jars, Vines and the Cultural Collision

So apparently, David Haseltine of Jars of Clay has come out as supportive of same-sex marriage via Twitter. Here’s a few soundbites:

Queue the controversy! Michael Brown posted a lengthy response to his comments at Charisma News. My reaction on Facebook was:

Sigh, as usual, we can’t seem to realize that there are two different issues at play here. What homosexuals do or call their relationships have no substantive effect on us. Us not attacking them for their behavior would not be to condone it. Why is this even a debate?

Oh yeah, because of that thing called government that possesses a monopoly on coercive aggression and has declared that we may not use the word “marriage’ without their express consent sought before hand. This issue isn’t really about marriage or homosexuality. It’s about the first amendment. The proper Biblical position is to oppose government licensing and definition of any marriage, returning that role to the church where it belongs, and to commit to only perform Biblical weddings.

Interestingly, Charisma’s article has prompted Haseltine himself to try to clarify himself, so it appears that there’s more to this story, though I haven’t read all of the particulars of it, because I’m not actually here to discuss Haseltine. I mention him because he’s a hot topic, and because he marks the next advance in an ongoing trend in which the enemy is sinking his teeth into the church’s stance on Biblical Authority. It comes in the wake of Al Mohler’s book rebutting Matthew Vines’ assertions that the Bible does not actually teach that Homosexuality is a sin, and it is this issue that I actually want to interact with.

If you’ve read much of my blog, you may know where I’m going, but please stay tuned anyway. This is one of those issues where I feel stuck in the middle, but not really. I don’t side with either Mohler or Vines. I have to confess that I’ve not read Mohler’s book yet, nor have I even had a chance to read through this quasi debate between them, but I’m familiar enough with Mohler that I can guess his position. (by the way if it seems like I pick on Mohler, I can’t give an explanation. I don’t particularly dislike him on a lot of things, but several of his statements lately, such as…., have required comment. Actually, I haven’t commented on that one, have I? Oh well…. Add it to the To Write list….)

I actually watched Vines’ video a while back and wanted to post a rebuttal, but never got around to it, and now that Mohler has come out with his own, I figure the time is right to put it out there. I think this needs to be written and this is the time to do it, because there is a third side to this debate; one that is hardly ever argued; one that is actually Biblical.

In the interest of full disclosure, and for the purpose of context, here is Vines’ lecture in full. Be warned. This is an hour long. You might want to pop some pop corn first, and definitely have your Bible handy. I would also encourage you to get and read Mohler’s book at some point, or at least read through the debate I posted above.

Continue reading Clay Jars, Vines and the Cultural Collision

Property Rights on a Tropical Island

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

Welcome back to my ongoing series in which I interact with the ideas put forth by Adam McIntosh in his article series at The Kuyperian Commentary. In Part 1, I discussed the large degree of agreement there is between us. In Part 2, I interacted with his critique of the Non-Aggression Principle. In Part 3, I discussed the task of separating the Biblical Laws into civil and non-civil categories. I realize this last article was quite a bit rambly, clocking in at 4,000 words! I will need to write more on this subjecxt as I hone my arguments and approach. So if you were a bit confused or unsatisfied, stay tuned for more in the coming months.

Today, however, I want to interact with his Tropical Island analogy. Continue reading Property Rights on a Tropical Island

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