Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Second Sunday in Lent.

The Collect

ALMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect from the First Day of Lent is to be read every day in Lent after the Collect appointed for the Day.

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Scripturalism, Libertarianism, Relativism and Sean Gerety

"But can he maintain intellectual consistency if he favors political liberty and rejects the Christian presuppositions?"  --  Dr. Gordon H. Clark

As the discussion of the nature and authority of government revealed its various complexities, it must have become evident that much of the argument passes beyond the limits of strictly political theory. That there are religious implications in every view was made clear. Other aspects of politics tended to merge either with sociology or with a general philosophy of history. Then, too, it was seen that the problem of politics could not be solved without answering the psychological question as to the nature of man. But of all the subjects to which the preceding chapter led, it is ethics that demands immediate attention. In fact, it may have seemed that not a single important decision on politics could be made without choosing between competing moral ideals. Of any particular proposal one had to ask whether it was right or wrong. If the proposal were shown to be a plausible means to an end, one could not avoid the question, Is this end a good end or an evil end? It is therefore impossible to arrive at a satisfactory theory of politics without having first settled the questions of ethics.

Gordon H. Clark (2014-06-05T04:00:00+00:00). A Christian View of Men and Things (Kindle Locations 2146-2153). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

No doubt morality is of greater value than wealth, and nearly everyone would prefer a state with good citizens to a state of immoral citizens.

Gordon H. Clark (2014-06-05T04:00:00+00:00). A Christian View of Men and Things (Kindle Locations 1548-1549). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition. 

I do not have the time to go into a lengthy article.  However, in a discussion group on Facebook called "Gordon Clark Discussions" I discovered that the self-appointed archbishop of Scripturalism, Sean Gerety, is a moral relativist in his view of ethics and political philosophy.  (See:  God's Hammer blog).  This is truly unfortunate, especially since Gerety is not really a spokesman for Scripturalism.  Furthermore, neither Dr. Gordon H. Clark nor Dr. John Robbins is still living, so we cannot refer to their expertise other than consulting their writings and extant audio lectures.

Dr. Gordon H. Clark advocated the axiom of Scripture.  Scripture alone is the Word of God.  For Dr. Clark all ethics and political philosophy are to be deduced from Scripture.  Libertarians, on the other hand, start with a libertarian philosophy that openly denies dogmatism and the Bible as the basis for their political philosophy.  They apparently apply the axiom that government should be limited and non-agressive.  The problem, however, is that there is no such thing as neutrality.  There is no middle ground between Scripturalism and secular humanism.  Basically, the libertarians have a political philosophy that calls for co-belligerence between atheists, secularists, Christians, Scripturalists, and various other political allies that wish to restrict the government's control over the population, business, the economy, religion, politics, etc.  Unfortunately, Dr. Robbins rejected co-belligerency with Roman Catholics in regards to socially conservative values like the pro-life movement.  So how would Robbins have approved of co-belligerency with those promote moral relativism in the civil and criminal laws of a nation?

By now you're asking what I mean by Gerety's moral relativism?  Well, the simple answer is that Gerety agrees with Ron Paul that the government should not restrict moral vices like drug abuse, pornography, homosexual marriage and homosexual civil rights.  Instead, these vices, including gambling, should be left up to individual states within the United States.  Unfortunately, Scripturalism contradicts moral relativism.  If the moral law of God as summarized in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments condemns an activity as sinful, then the government of any nation on earth is obligated to obey that law as much as any individual is obligated.  The seventh commandment is a deontological and apodeictic law that is universal.  From that universal law Scripturalism deduces that all sexual immorality is evil and therefore should be regulated by the state.  Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and bestiality are all forbidden by the seventh commandment. (Exodus 20:1-17; Exodus 20:14). 

Gerety, however, wishes to have the state and federal governments break all the commandments except the sixth commandment, "Thou shalt not murder," the eighth commandment, "Thou shalt not steal," and the tenth commandment, "Thou shalt not covet."  Gerety specifically agreed with Al Sharpton that he does not want the government in his bedroom.  He also affirmed the government's "right" to pass laws in favor of pornography because "what a man does in his own bedroom is his own business."  But when the morality of a nation is degraded and depraved the very fabric of society itself is degraded.  Morality matters.  Even Oprah gets this since she disapproves of female circumcision in African nations, foot binding in the Chinese culture, and neck rings in Thailand.

Kant's moral imperative does not work because it is based on natural law or natural reason, which has been darkened by the noetic effects of sin.  The only way to know right from wrong definitively is by special revelation in Holy Scripture.  God expects obedience simply because He commands obedience.  He does not give reasons to creatures for obedience other than He commands obedience.  Those who disobey the covenant of works can expect judgment from God.  It is an argument of the Arminians that God owes man rewards.

According to Dr. Gordon H. Clark, the Bible stands as a whole book. It is all of a piece and the Scriptures cannot be broken.  (John 10:35).   (Audio:  The Inerrancy of the Bible).  The Bible is not composed of an aggregate of propositions.  Instead, according to Dr. Clark, the propositions of Scripture are to be organized into a system of theology.  The best summary of the system of theology in the Bible is the relatively brief statement we know as the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Further, Dr. Clark said that the system of theology in the Bible is the same system of theology in God's mind.  According to Dr. Clark, it is not a good idea to disagree with the Westminster Confession.  

And what does the Westminster Confession have to say about civil government?

CHAPTER XXIII—Of the Civil Magistrate

  1.      God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates to be under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defense and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers. (Rom. 13:1–4, 1 Pet. 2:13–14)

  2.      It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: (Prov. 8:15–16, Rom. 13:1–2, 4) in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; (Ps. 2:10–12, 1 Tim. 2:2, Ps. 82:3–4, 2 Sam. 23:3, 1 Pet. 2:13) so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the new testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion. (Luke 3:14, Rom. 13:4, Matt. 8:9–10, Acts 10:1–2, Rev. 17:14, 16)

The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

I guess for Gerety pornographers are not really evil doers?  The Westminster Confession specifically says that the civil magistrates have an obligation to God.  They are to be "under Him."  How does homosexual marriage, gay rights, and pornography obey God or submit to God as being "under Him"?  Furthermore, the laws of a commonwealth are to be "wholesome."  How does homosexuality, pornography, abortion, and religious relativism/pluralism uphold the principle of "wholesome" laws?

If Scripture is the beginning axiom for libertarianism, then I would like to know how you deduce from Scripture a political philosophy that openly rejects dogmatic theology?  The Reformed Libertarian, an oxymoron by the way, insists that religious dogma cannot be a part of their political platform:

Libertarians can most certainly argue amongst themselves about epistemology and ethics, religion and sociology, culture and lifestyle.  And none of the opinions on these matters stem from libertarianism for libertarianism does not seek to, indeed cannot, address those issues.  Libertarianism has one role as a political theory: to make a statement on the “proper role of violence in social life” (Rothbard).  For when discussing what should be made legal and what should be illegal, we are attempting to determine what deeds should be punished with physical force and which deeds should not be punished with physical force.  

The Nature of Libertarianism

So my question is how is libertarianism compatible with Scripturalism or the Westminster Confession?    The fact of the matter is that libertarianism is a direct contradiction to the dogmatic theology of Dr. Gordon H. Clark, the logical and propositional system of theology in Scripture and summarized by the Westminster Confession of Faith.  The political philosophy deduced from Scripture could never approve of any violation of the seventh commandment, despite the protests of so-called "Scripturalists" who appeal to relativism.  In fact, Dr. Clark specifically says that the civil laws of any state or federal government should be deduced from the Ten Commandments.  That would include all of the commandments, not just the one or two favorites of Mr. Gerety.  (Audio:  Questions and Answers).

The primary principle of Scripturalism is that all theology and philosophy is to be logically deduced from Scripture:

Westminster Confession of Faith
Chapter 1.  Of the Holy Scripture

6.      The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit or traditions of men. (2 Tim. 3:15–17, Gal. 1:8–9, 2 Thess. 2:2) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: (John 6:45, 1 Cor 2:9–12) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed. (1 Cor. 11:13–14, 1 Cor. 14:26, 40)

The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

It could further be argued that the basis for the American principle of separation of church and state did not intend for the government to pass laws out of line with the moral law of God or laws hostile to Christian morality.  In fact, the Puritans never intended for religious freedom to include non-Christian religions, including Roman Catholicism:

WCF, Chapter 23, Of the Civil Magistrate

3.      Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; (2 Chron. 26:18) or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; (Matt. 18:17, Matt. 16:19, 1 Cor. 12:28–29, Eph. 4:11–12, 1 Cor. 4:1–2, Rom. 10:15, Heb. 5:4) or, in the least, interfere in the matter so faith. (John 18:36, Acts 5:29, Eph. 4:11–12) Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the Church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. (Isa. 49:23, Rom. 13:1–6) And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his Church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. (Ps. 104:15, Acts 18:14–15) It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance. (Rom. 13:4, 1 Tim. 2:2)

The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).
Additionally, it is the duty of the government to uphold the moral law of God as it is summarized in the Ten Commandments.  The phrase "general equity" is a direct reference to the Decalogue:

WCF, Chapter 19, Of the Law of God

  4.      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. (Exod. 21, Exod. 22:1–29, Gen. 49:10, 1 Pet. 2:13–14, Matt. 5:17, 38–39, 1 Cor. 9:8–10)
  5.      The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; (Rom. 13:8, 9, Eph. 6:2, 1 John 2:3–4, 7–8) and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. (James 2:10, 11) Neither doth Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation. (Matt. 5:17–19, James 2:8, Rom. 3:31)

The Westminster Confession of Faith (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).

 It is my conclusion then that Sean Gerety has more in common with Al Sharpton than with either Gordon H. Clark or John Robbins.  In fact, Ron Paul is the poster boy for theological and political relativism and liberalism. 

The purpose of this chapter is to give evidence that Christian presuppositions justify civil governments of limited rights, whereas humanistic principles imply either anarchy or totalitarianism. The person who considers these matters is forced to make a choice. He may choose humanism because he is enamored of anarchy or of his chances of becoming a dictator; or he may have a desire for political liberty, in which case Christianity will provide him with a coherent worldview. But can he maintain intellectual consistency if he favors political liberty and rejects the Christian presuppositions?

Gordon H. Clark (2014-06-05T04:00:00+00:00). A Christian View of Men and Things (Kindle Locations 2036-2040). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.
A second objection to the argument of this chapter will also come to mind. It may be true that only in a theistic worldview can both anarchy and totalitarianism be avoided. But though this may be a satisfactory motive for choosing theism, it is not a reason for choosing Christianity. There are other forms of theism. Unitarianism, Judaism, and Mohammedanism are theistic, but they are not Christian. The argument of the chapter therefore provides no sufficient motive for choosing Christianity rather than Judaism. This second objection is not only as formally logical as the first, but it is materially more applicable. While there are hints as to how to answer the first objection, it seems there is none that meets this second. And for that matter, the chapter fails to motivate anarchists and dictators to choose Christianity or any other form of theism. Its force will be felt only by those who already have a love of freedom. In fact, those who desire to reduce men to the condition of regimented robots will be motivated against Christianity – and very consistently so. They make their choice. This simply means that political considerations favoring a theistic worldview constitute only a fraction of the argument. Arguments against totalitarianism must be sought, not in politics narrowly defined, but in ethics, or some more general sphere; and similarly, the choice between Christianity and other theistic systems requires theological and not just political arguments.

Gordon H. Clark (2014-06-05T04:00:00+00:00). A Christian View of Men and Things (Kindle Locations 2047-2056). The Trinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.

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