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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 Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Error of Theonomy in a Nutshell, by Greg Loren Durand

20 comments:

NewKidontheBlogg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie J. Ray said...

Carol, I would recommend the other article to you as well: The Reconstructionist Road to Rome.

Unfortunately, Carol, the reconstructionists and the theonomists are pushing a form of "legalism" and "righteousness" by keeping the OT law. The point of the article is that the civil or judicial laws from nation of Israel in the OT are confused with the "moral" law as it is summarized in the 10 commandments. The "case" law is a courtroom situation where individual cases were judged by Moses and the elders, such as "if an ox gores your neighbor," etc. But the 10 commandments make general statements that cover a whole range of things such as, "Do not commit adultery." This covers all sexual deviance and not just cheating on one's spouse.

The problem with the theonomy view is it tries to say that all the specific case law of the OT is in fact equal to God's "moral law" which is summarized in the 10 commandments and written in man's heart since creation. This becomes an excuse to emphasize "law" above Gospel and in fact leads back to Roman Catholicism. The other article I posted, The Reconstructionist Road to Rome illustrates this clearly.

Also, I personally know of a pastor here in Orlando who went from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church to the Reformed Episcopal Church and finally to Anglo-Catholicism/Tractarianism. His starting point? Reconstruction/theonomy.

I am opposed to dispensationalism because that is a heresy from the Reformed faith. But I must say that theonomy and reconstruction are equally serious departures from the doctrines of grace. They are secretly "papists" and "judaizers". "Legalists" and "Pharisees" who think keeping the OT judicial law trumps all else.

I'm concerned for you since I noticed that your church is closely related to Kenneth Gentry, a well known theonomist.

May the good Lord deliver us from all false teaching.

Sincerely in Christ,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Greg Loren Durand has left a new comment on the post "The Error of Theonomy in a Nutshell":

Yes, Charlie, you may use it. However, your readers may find my online book, Judicial Warfare, more helpful. It covers the subject in much greater detail. The address is Crown Rights Bookstore.

Billy said...

What does that then do for the biblical view of capital punishment? Obviously, Gen. 9 touches on this, so the concept is pre-Mosaic. But then the death penalty would only apply to people who murder, as we say, in the first degree.

I'm fine with that view point, and I think it helps better explain how St. Paul himself could advocate the death penalty (rom. 13) without feeling condemned by it for being at the very least one who did not try to protect Christians as they were martyred. It also better helps explain how Jesus could not only have mercy on the woman taken in adultery, but forgive her also the penalty of her actions.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Capital punishment really has nothing to do with the issue of theonomy/reconstruction. One can consistently affirm or deny capital punishment without appealing to theonomy.

Billy said...

Without theonomy, you don't have the case laws which require the death penalty, being applicable to now. I know a number of theonomists who advocate the death penalty for rapists, kidnappers, and all other crimes punishable by death in the Mosaic law.

So I'm saying if you deny theonomy it creates a situation where the only time a Christian in good conscience good affirm the death penalty is in the case of first degree murder.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Billy, theonomy is not even the Roman Catholic position. The Protestant Reformers agreed with Rome that "natural law" replaces the judicial laws of the OT. Also, the Protestant Reformers held to the principle of "general equity" along with John Calvin. This means that each nation makes its own laws according to their own needs and in accordance with the principle of general equity.

The error of theonomy is to make the judicial laws of the OT the same as the moral law thereby collapsing the two into one. For theonomists the distinction between judicial and moral is nonexistent.

Also, the situtation today is that nations are no longer "Christian." So to expect modern nations to prosecute heretics is to invite the persecution of Christians.

While I agree that we ought to try to influence the civil laws in a more Christian direction, it does not follow that we must reinstate all of the judicial laws of the OT. Even Bahnsen couldn't decide which OT judicial laws should be enforced and which should not. The case law of the OT is no longer binding.

Furthermore, I have already pointed out that the death penalty can be affirmed without appealing to theonomy. The US is proof of that. I personally only support the death penalty in extreme cases like serial killings, terrorism, and extremely cold blooded and cruel crimes, especially pedophiles who murder children.

However, it seems to me that you have confirmed my thesis that theonomy is the road that the Reformed Episcopal Church has taken to return to the Anglo-Catholic heresy which was the original reason for the separation from the Protestant Episcopal Church in the first place.

I'm assuming that you and your ordained relatives are all theonomists?

Billy said...

No, no, not at all. You misunderstand me. Well, my father used to be. But I'm not at all. And for exactly the reason you stated above about the United States not being a Christian nation.

I fully agree that the death penalty need only be used in extreme cases. That said, I wouldn't mind seeing it used a bit more often.

The other point I would make is that Israel was the pre-cursor and type of the Church. Her strict laws and their enforement foreshadow the purity the Church is to maintain...not necessaily societies. Although, I again agree with you that Christians should seek to shape civil law.
Which is at least partially the reason I don't mind things like the Manhattan Declaration.

Charlie J. Ray said...

tohisglory said, "The principle (a.k.a General equity) of the law applied still remains. Therefore, we are to deduce, through exegesis, what the principle of the law is and then apply it to the civil society. This is not a fallible if you use the principles of application that God has given us in His Word."

The principle of general equity, according to Calvin, means that secular nations are obligated to obey the moral law "written in the hearts of men." I'm supposing he drew this from Romans 2. Furthermore, Calvin said that different nations could dispense punishment as they reasonably saw fit. In other words, the punishment might be death in one nation and somethihg less in another. This is the principle by which we do not stone adulterers today. If we did, a great many of the theonomists might be dead!

You once again prove my point that theonomists are heretics because their focus is NOT the Gospel but LAW!

I hold to the Lutheran and the Reformed view of law and Gospel. Theonomists put the Gospel in the background and focus on this world, dominion, society, etc., et. al., ad nauseum. This is why I am not and never will be a theonomist.

I might further note that it is thenonomists and reconstructionists who convert to Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy because they are in essential agreement on the doctrines of christendom and dominion. Theonomists are quite willing to sacrifice the Gospel for the sake of dominion.

Scott Hahn is a perfect example of that tendency. I might mention Franky Schaeffer as another example. There are many others but I will not mention them to save you the embarrassment, although the Reformed Episcopal Church as a whole went Anglo-Catholic because of theonomy. What a shame!

Charlie J. Ray said...

The point of the sermon on the mount and the beatitudes is not to show that you are able to keep all the law and prophets. Jesus did not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them for us because we are unable to keep them perfectly, which is God's standard. "Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees..." "Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect..."

It is precisely in Matthew 5-7 that theonomists become pelagians because they do not understand that their theology is essentially that of the Pharisees who thought they were righteous as well! Jesus did not come for the righteous. He came for sinners. The law condemns theonomists as self righteous hypocrites who will bust hell wipe open unless they repent of their own righteousness and cry out for mercy (Romans 10:1-4).

The real point of theonomy is a demonstration of self righteousness rather than realizing there is no hope of keeping the law perfectly and therefore only Christ and HIS righteousness can justify us before God.

As I said before, theonomy is nothing more than neo-nomianism and pelagianism disguising itself in Reformed garb. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Charlie J. Ray said...

You also claim that you are infallible in your interpretation of Scripture regarding general equity. You're right up there with the Pope, tohisglory. You really ought to convert to Rome.

Fact is, ALL interpretations of Scripture are FALLIBLE. ONLY Scripture is infallible and inerrant. If you were truly confessional, you would know this. Even the Reformed Confessions are fallible interpretations of infallible Scripture. Scripture is the final authority and not humans or churches which interpret it. This is a basic principle of sola scriptura.

Thus, no Reformed believer is obligated to believe theonomy. I consider it a damnable heresy on the same order of the Federal Vision, New Perspectives on Paul, and even Arminianism.

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

Quote: "4. The last point leads me to this point and that is that Dr. Duncan points out that the theonomists do not accept the traditional reformed understanding of the abrogation of OT civil law. So, it seems to me that they would have to take exception to the Westminster Confession, 19.4 on the abrogation of the OT civil law. Yet, from my understanding theonomists consider the Westminster Confession to be a "theonomic document."

I realize that Dr. Duncan and others have addressed this last point elsewhere but I am wondering if there might be a self-identified theonomist out there who might want to explain their position on this to us.

All in all, I think you will find that, though Dr. Duncan is a critic of theonomy, he gives a fair and balanced treatment of the movement, demonstrating strengths and weaknesses. I don't believe he constructs straw men and I believe his criticisms are on point. But I would invite any theonomists who disagree to respond in the comments."

From: Jollyblogger: Ligon Duncan on Theonomy.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Ligon Duncan: ". . . proponents of the movement occasionally vacillate between ambiguity and dogmatism when asked about the distinguishing characteristics of their position. As we have noted already, this is an impediment to critical discourse."

Moses' Law for Modern Government:
The Intellectual and Sociological Origins of the Christian Reconstructionist Movement
.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Kurt,

You might want to investigate the logical concept known as "compatibilism." The Westminster Confession clearly says that God does not violate the will of man and that he works through through secondary causes. "... nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
" WCF 3.1

As for how Adam could have sinned, obviously it is because he had free will to choose good or evil and given he was tested he failed. Of course, free will does not necessarily have to be tested. Angels in heaven are proof enough of this since they are now sealed against falling and are elect.

The bottom line here is that God decreed the fall before creation. God could have prevented the fall simply by not putting Adam on an eternal probation. The test was apparently a perpetual one.

As for the apparent contradition between free moral agency and God's absolute sovereignty, there is no contradiction in God's mind and simply because we are limited in intellectual abilities does mean there are any actual contradictions. This is where Van Til gets it wrong. God is not irrational or illogical. Van Til's views are closer to neo-orthodoxy than anything else.

Sincerely,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

contradiction

Charlie J. Ray said...

There is none righteous, no not even one. Romans 3:23. Good works are for the purpose of showing gratitude to God for his mercy and to testify to others that God does bless his people. However, God is not obligated to do anything for us and it might be that we fail miserably and glorify God in our failures rather than in prosperity, success, dominion, a kingdom on earth and other such nonsense.

aaytch said...

Wonderful Explanation. Thanks.

This is changing the topic a bit, but I wonder Charlie whether you might also consider the notion of "Apostolic Succession" in the Anglican tradition to be like theonomy. As you know, it's not a concept that can be found in anything that's officially Anglican such as the 1662 BCP, yet Anglo-Catholics and broad-church Anglicans swear by it. In my view, it imports a part of the Old Covenant's economy into the New Covenant (a hereditary priesthood), thereby refusing to see that Christ fulfilled it when he rose and was seated at the right hand of God.

The Covenant under Abraham had the physical mark of circumcision and the priests were determined by Levitical ancestry, bearing a physical mark in blood. But in the new Covenant, we are taught there are only 2 Sacraments (ordination not being one of them) and that all the baptized are ordained as ministers and priests in the basic sense. How then do we get to the point where priests are like the Levitical order, marked and set aside with special privileges?

Considering the history and practicality of A.S., its introduction, presumably by the Laud faction of 17th century Anglicans, was the beginning of the ‘conciliar’, ‘democratic’ approach in Anglican 'tradition'; the thought that we must reach out for the “continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit” and for “apostolic authority” that is grounded not in the teaching of the apostles but rather in physical connection to an assortment of priestly ancestors. "Apostolic Succession", as a theonomy, serves the objective of demoting the authority of Scripture and Christ himself to merely one of many. Once a "Father" is put into the apostolic line, he has "a priori" authority, and he is given a pass (allowed to preach) even if his words are widely understood to be heretical.

Charlie J. Ray said...

aaytch, you're absolutely right. While the 1552 and the 1662 ordinal does refer to the bishop as "reverend father in God," the ordinal is to be subjected to both Scripture and the 39 Articles of Religion. Other Reformed Anglicans have argued that the three offices of ordination in the episcopal polity should be seen as equals and not as a three tiered hierarchy.

The Declaration of Principles of the Reformed Episcopal Church, which they no longer believe, clearly says that there are no priests but only presbyters. Also, episcopal polity is historic but not biblically mandated. Therefore, fellowship between Evangelical denominations is preferred over against fellowship with Anglo-Catholics who deny biblical authority in favor of church authority.

Well said, aaytch!

God bless,

Charlie

Charlie J. Ray said...

The Manhattan Declaration promotes a false unity with Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. The Protestant faith and the theology of the other two "communions" are diametrically opposed. The EOC and the RCC are in serious error and promote another gospel.

Charlie J. Ray said...

5/17/2017

Update: I removed this post because I was supposed to review the book to which it was referring. I never reviewed the book because I found the book to be so full of contradictions and errors as to not being worth the effort for review. Also, I no longer accept the view stated in an earlier comment that the Protestant Reformers accepted natural law. The moral law is written in man's heart by virture of the image of God. But the moral law is only defined and specially revealed in the written Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. The beginning axiom of Christianity is Holy Scripture, not natural law or human rights or secular humanism.

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