08 July 2010

Interacting with Theonomists....Don't let them dictate the terms.

Here's a little exchange I had at the GreenBaggins site with a Theonomist. You may find this of interest:

This was my response to a blog post concerning the First Amendment and a few other issues....

As far as the Christian parties in Europe many of them come out of a Constantinian tradition but in a different context than Conservative Christianity in the United States. Protestants were often the working class, poorer people while Aristocracy was often Anglican, Roman Catholic or at least committed to the ideals of the Old Order. So in Europe conservative Protestantism actually took what we would call a turn to the political left. Their visions of Christian Societies and application of Old Testament Law as well as the Sermon on the Mount meant things like labour laws, welfare, universal health care, restricting capitalism. I know Conservative Bible believing Evangelicals in the UK who were happy to vote for Tony Blair and loathed Reagan and Bush.

I would assert both sides are wrong. The whole Christian America discussion is based off of a false assumption. What is a so-called Christian Nation? Where do we get the idea from the Bible that there can be such a thing? OT Israel was a Theocracy, not a theocracy. We can't have that again...well we do, it's the church. We don't have the power to declare things Holy...only God can do that. If the nation is Christian...it's holy. If you mean something else by Christian......well, what exactly do you mean? A cultural underlay? Okay, but does that somehow Sacralize the nation? Where do you get this from the New Testament? The Old Testament has to be interpreted in light of the New. Is there a single Scripture in the New Testament that indicates we are to try and build Christian Nations, reform culture....anything like that? I would say no. In fact I would say there are numerous verses which indicate this was not some Paul or anyone in the New Testament was even remotely concerned with.



All nations are part of the common grace order...they are not holy and cannot be made holy. They're part of the restraint apparatus God has instituted. Is Natural Revelation based Natural Law sufficient?....absolutely not...but with Providence...absolutely yes. God can raise or lower the hand of restraint as He wills. What we pray for is a matrix in which the gospel can work.

We don't need an Integrationist view of Culture. The Bible was given to the people of God...to apply it to Common Grace nations and Common Grace culture is to profane it. We bring them the Kingdom...the City of Man cannot be transformed into the City of God.

The whole Theonomy/Autonomy question is a false dilemma. It stems from Van Til's quest for the comprehensive system...an abuse of Sola Scriptura. T David Gordon has written on this. There is no perfect political system...Moses is not the pattern it was typology. There's no perfect economic system......we live in a fallen world. We need to live as Christians. It doesn't matter if we live in Plutocratic America, Totalitarian China, Tsarist Russia, or the Sacralist Holy Roman Empire. It doesn't affect the gospel.

As far as the first ammendment......we should cherish it. Not because it's Christian, but because it shows there is still some restraint....The Beastial power all governments seek has not been fully unleashed here. If that means sinners can continue acting like sinners...that's fine. As long as I can keep witnessing to them.

Great discussion. I'm enjoying it.

Protoprotestant


Then a Theonomist responded to me:John,

I would imagine you would insert a third option to God’s law (theonomy) and man’s law (autonomy). Let me guess… “natural law”? :) If that is your other option, then you’ve missed a major point I’m afraid, as did the one who defended the natural law option at the conferance held at Greenville Seminary in March, 2000. Natural law is God’s law. Accordingly, any appeal to it would be theonomic in nature. There is no natural law that is not God’s. With that in mind, if God’s general revelation has not changed over time and never has contradicted his special revelation, which I’m sure is the case, then any contemporary appeal to the OT case laws cannot be at odds with natural law. Therefore, at the very least, you should not find it strange for men to desire to see, with God’s blessing, laws legislated that mirror the general equity of the civil case laws. In other words, if all we have is natural law to go by, then there can be no objection to theonomic laws and for men to desire God to bring them to pass through lawful means.
At this juncture anti-theonomic Christians often start pointing to what they believe to be absurd OT case laws, which is when I usually ask how did the cross make God’s OT wisdom somehow now absurd. It’s been my experience that those who mock the current application of certain OT laws do so without being able to distinguish how they might have found those same laws most wise under Moses. Accordingly, I have always been left to conclude that their problem was with the intrinsic value of the law and not with the time of implementation.
What also seems to be overlooked is that general revelation was never intended to inform mankind of the transgressions that are to fall under the jurisdiction of magistrates. The role of general revelation has always been complimentary to that of Scripture’s revelation (even before the fall), in that general revelation is “general” – for it convicts mankind of sin that violates the moral law; whereas special revelation, as contained in Scripture, informs us of the sins that are punishable and to what degree.
“All nations are part of the common grace order…they are not holy and cannot be made holy. They’re part of the restraint apparatus God has instituted. Is Natural Revelation based Natural Law sufficient?….absolutely not…but with Providence…absolutely yes. God can raise or lower the hand of restraint as He wills. What we pray for is a matrix in which the gospel can work.”
That too was an un-argued assertion made at the 2000 conference. The simple response should have been: That God governs by providence has nothing to do with what men ought to desire to see come to pass in God’s providence. To pit providence against theonomy is like pitting providence against the Great Commission. Both the fulfillment of the wisdom of God’s equity under Moses’ laws and the fulfillment of the Great Commission are things Christians should desire that God bring to pass in his good providence.
Blessings,
Ron

And I responded to him.......

Ron,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I'm going to interact with some of the things you wrote....


John,
I would imagine you would insert a third option to God’s law (theonomy) and man’s law (autonomy). Let me guess… “natural law”? :) If that is your other option, then you’ve missed a major point I’m afraid, as did the one who defended the natural law option at the conferance held at Greenville Seminary in March, 2000. Natural law is God’s law. Accordingly, any appeal to it would be theonomic in nature. There is no natural law that is not God’s.

That would be a bit of an oversimplification. No one for a moment asserts that Natural Law isn't from God. Rather it is Theonomy which totally misses the Covenant Nature of the Mosaic Law. It was given to the nation of Israel, not to the nations around them. It was on one level a typological anticipation of the coming Messiah. More could be said...but I'll stop there for now.

With that in mind, if God’s general revelation has not changed over time and never has contradicted his special revelation, which I’m sure is the case, then any contemporary appeal to the OT case laws cannot be at odds with natural law. Therefore, at the very least, you should not find it strange for men to desire to see, with God’s blessing, laws legislated that mirror the general equity of the civil case laws. In other words, if all we have is natural law to go by, then there can be no objection to theonomic laws and for men to desire God to bring them to pass through lawful means.

Again this is to misunderstand the nature of the Law. If Edom were to suddenly declare..."We too are in Covenant with Jehovah we will take the laws of Moses and apply them in our land..."

What would that look like? Well, they would either have to build a temple and erect a priesthood etc... which would be blatant sin. In fact the Lord rejects the worship of the pagan.

Or they could merge with Israel....but then they would cease to be Edom...they would be Israel.

The Law Covenant is a unity. You can't slice and dice and take out civil codes and yet leave behind what is commonly called ceremonial. I reject the 3-fold Westminster construct, it's an interpolation. But I'll assume it for the sake of argument. The law in anticipation of Christ shows in the ceremonial laws a typology of redemption...Christ as Saviour. The penal codes show Christ as Judge. To take one and leave the other utterly destroys the picture. To argue the 3-fold division is really a 2-fold of Moral/Civil and ceremonial doesn't solve the problem.

Even the Decalogue in so far as the first table was not binding on the other nations....not in the sense of Covenant Law. All men everywhere ought to worship the Lord God alone and in the right way....but when you read the prophets condemning the nations...what is the standard? It's not the Mosaic law. They're not being condemned for failing to keep Sabbath, offer sacrifice, obey the dietary laws. What are they condemned for?.....murder, theft, fornication etc....things every society more or less has acknowledged as wrong since the dawn of time....more or less according to Providence.

When the Jews were in exile in Babylon were they to try and change Babylon into a Mosaic Theocracy? No, they were to live in the city and pray for its peace.

Where in the New Testament do we have any indication at all that the goal was to convert Rome into a Mosaic Theocracy?

The only Theocracy today is the church..

It's not a question of Old Testament case laws being at odds with natural law......OT case laws are covenantal....and have nothing to do with non-covenantal nations.

You're assuming we need a philosophical-theological Super-structure to govern the world. We don't. It's a question driven by Kuyperian and/or Postmillenial assumptions. If those are wrong, much of Theonomy's emphasis becomes moot. I think North said something to that end.


At this juncture anti-theonomic Christians often start pointing to what they believe to be absurd OT case laws, which is when I usually ask how did the cross make God’s OT wisdom somehow now absurd. It’s been my experience that those who mock the current application of certain OT laws do so without being able to distinguish how they might have found those same laws most wise under Moses. Accordingly, I have always been left to conclude that their problem was with the intrinsic value of the law and not with the time of implementation.

Yes, I know this argument well. Actually I would say that taking Covenant laws and applying them to non-covenantal, non-holy nations is actually profaning the Law. It destroys the picture of Christ presented to us in Moses...and actually this ends up making a mockery of it. Somehow we think if we can get unbelievers to act like Christians, it will be glorifying to God? Jeroboam tried something along those lines. Since he didn't have the covenantal seat, he tried to create his own. Admittedly his motives were certainly corrupt, but the very attempt was an offense to God.

I'm more baffled by the constant concern with transforming nations. Is this our home? We're pilgrims here. Only the eschaton will bring about the Triumphalism you're looking for.

It is actually Theonomy which has a problem with the intrinsic value of the law...you're profaning it. In addition, one of the core points of the book of Hebrews is that we are no longer under Levi and Aaron...under Moses. That Law was weak, it was mere shadow and type.....not just the ceremonial....the entire law covenant which encapsulates the entire Westminster 3-fold construct. We under the order of Melchisedec and by trying to bring back Moses it is akin to the Dispensationalists wanting to rebuild the Temple. It is tantamount to suggesting the Messiah hasn't come. It is failing to recognize ALL the promises are affirmed and confirmed in Him. It's wanting to go back to the weak and beggarly elements. When the NT takes Moses alone and contrasts him with Christ....the language is quite strong. It was an administration of death. Now, we understand there is also a unity with the Old Covenant period...but where's the tie...Moses? No. Abraham. The book of Galatians in many ways directly contradicts the Theonomic thesis.

So to come at the magistrate in the NT with Mosaic case laws in hand indicates a grave misunderstanding of the nature of the Law....and certainly the nature of the Kingdom....the Theocracy of the NT.


What also seems to be overlooked is that general revelation was never intended to inform mankind of the transgressions that are to fall under the jurisdiction of magistrates. The role of general revelation has always been complimentary to that of Scripture’s revelation (even before the fall), in that general revelation is “general” – for it convicts mankind of sin that violates the moral law; whereas special revelation, as contained in Scripture, informs us of the sins that are punishable and to what degree.

Hmmm... I thought you have to be born again to see the kingdom of God. I thought the natural man was in a state of enmity against God. General revelation has always been to hold man accountable and to provide a matrix of restraint and delay for the gospel to work. But you want the non-covenantal Magistrate to somehow take a portion of the Mosaic law and apply it to unregenerate people..?

Since law is covenantal....obeying it and keeping is an act of worship. How can the unregenerate worship God? They hate him. In fact the sacrifices and prayers (worship) of the wicked is an abomination to Him. It would almost take a Pelagian view of man to think we can force men to worship God rightly in their hearts. At best this creates a veneer in society where everyone is Christian and yet almost no one is....consequently we then have to get them unsaved to get them saved. Constantinianism is a destroyer of the Biblical doctrine of the church and kingdom.

Also this sets up a direct contradiction to the Great Commission. How can we make disciples when we're killing them for disobeying God's law?


“All nations are part of the common grace order…they are not holy and cannot be made holy. They’re part of the restraint apparatus God has instituted. Is Natural Revelation based Natural Law sufficient?….absolutely not…but with Providence…absolutely yes. God can raise or lower the hand of restraint as He wills. What we pray for is a matrix in which the gospel can work.”

That too was an un-argued assertion made at the 2000 conference. The simple response should have been: That God governs by providence has nothing to do with what men ought to desire to see come to pass in God’s providence.

We're told what to desire. We are to pray that we may lead quiet lives so we can work with our hands and be Christians. We are to pray for the peace of the City whether it be Babylon or Rome.

To pit providence against theonomy is like pitting providence against the Great Commission. Both the fulfillment of the wisdom of God’s equity under Moses’ laws and the fulfillment of the Great Commission are things Christians should desire that God bring to pass in his good providence.

No, what you desire is to transform the City of Man into the City of God. What happens is the City of God is deceived by the power the Beastial city offers...and the imagery very clearly portrayed to us in the Apocalypse is what comes about. This has been the story of Church history both pre- and post- Reformation.

Sadly in the United States we've erected a Christo-Americanism and as this false facade began to crumble a couple of generations ago...Christians panicked and they've bought into a lot of arguments which are very appealing to the flesh....appealing to a lot of what I would call...down home inclinations...deep feelings about America and its place in the world. But the theology of Theonomic Reconstruction is built on a few basic assumptions. Like Dispensationalism it is a house of cards... and in the end steers the church in a fatal direction...into the wrong kingdom.

Sorry,


John
www.proto-protestantism.blogspot.com



And he responded......

John, I have little time these days for interacting with those who don’t distinguish assertions from arguments.
So long.
RD


And I responded......

Sorry I upset you. I understand about being busy…getting involved in an active thread can get pretty intense.
Actually we’re both using arguments and assertions. I make assertions like I think Theonomy appeals to people’s flesh and cultural anxiety. I knew you wouldn’t agree, but maybe someone else will see the connection I’m making.
But I also am giving arguments like the Covenantal Nature of Law, Theonomy’s misunderstanding of what Theocracy is…the relationship between Old and New. I’m asking questions…like what’s driving you to ask some of your questions?
All of us are mixing arguments and assertions. You did it in your piece as well. You seemed to indicate people who have a problem with Theonomy are mocking God’s law…. I assume you mean we’re letting our American values make judgments concerning the Bible? Something to that end? But then I made it clear in my answer, that’s not the case all. You made an assertion which no doubt is sometimes valid. There are people like that. But you can’t accuse me of reasoning in that manner.
It’s a discussion board. We’re skimming issues and interacting. We could write books hundreds of pages long off some of the sentence fragments were positing here. That’s not the purpose of the exercise. We’re challenging, encouraging, and provoking…in a good way. Iron sharpens iron.
I just wanted to throw some ideas that I thought might challenge people to think a little. There’s obviously people on this site who want to think about and apply the Word of God to His glory.
And you answered me …thank you. And then I answered you, and apparently you’re done now. That’s fine. Maybe we can interact again some time.
Cheers,
John



I've been interacting with these people for years and this is always what I get. It's either....

You're not logical
You're a dualist
or
We're just trying to get people to obey God's law. What's wrong with that?

These people need to be challenged and answered. The Reformed Community has let these people take over. They have a few basic assumptions which are wrong.

I hope he writes back again sometime. I'm sure he's a good man.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Proto, could you please list the basic assumptions of theonomy and reconstructionism that are wrong? It would help me when dialoging with them. I know that they have a (shocking) misunderstanding of the purpose and scope of OT Law, reading it onto New Testament revelation rather than the other way around. Also, their preterism causes them to read the Scriptures a certain way, no? When you get a chance, think about listing the basic theological problems with and causes of theonomy. Thanks.
Victoria

Anonymous said...

Hello,

I think you've pretty much got it. It's hermeneutics. They define Kingdom and all that goes with it from the OT and frankly ignore HOW the NT interprets the Old. Theonomists basically operate under the same assumption as the Pharisees.

Kingdom, Law, and their eschatology as well.

The Dominionism is in part from the OT...the universal realm of Christ which due to their faulty reading must take place before the 2nd Coming. But much of the Dominionism is philosophically derived from this basic assumption.

I would say the Preterism is more of a result of these other forces. Remember Preterism refers specifically to the Book of Revelation. The Futurist Interpretation doesn't work at all with their Golden Age assumptions and the Idealist and Parallelist view (which I hold) doesn't allow for a Geo-Political Cultural victory before or after the 2nd Coming. It approaches the whole issue in a different way.

They're almost forced to the Preterist reading in order to practically speaking...remove Revelation from consideration. The book doesn't agree with their theology so Preterism allows them to relegate it to the past.

Hermeneutics is THE problem. How the OT and NT relate is one of the biggest questions imaginable when it comes to understanding the Bible. They answer it completely wrong and as a result (I would argue) they essentially jettison the NT teaching with regard to Kingdom, Law, Eschatology, Mission, Worldliness, and certainly love.

I find it interesting that they explain away Revelation. Much of the symbolism deals expressly with the error they commit.

Some of them also focus heavily on a certain Apologetic school and some groups on other specific (usually American) issues. Van Tillian Presuppositional Apologetics is crucial to their philosophical system. It's a premise which creates for them an unassailable circular argument. It gets complicated but simpler versions of it have become mainstream.

As you know I could go on for a few more hundred pages but I'll stop there. It's both hard and easy for me to explain it. I tend to see it all working as a unit. The system is coherent (they're intention to be sure)...it all stands or falls together.

Either they've derive the True Faith from the Scriptures or....they're just flat dangerous and destructive heretics.

Proto

Cal said...

Just an interjection by someone who agrees with the preterist line on Revelation and the prophecy of Jesus:

A preterist would argue that yes, much of the prophesying of Jesus was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It was a sign that the Old had been fulfilled in the consolation of Israel and this city of brick was just that, not some holy relic (which sadly some Christians today have forgotten).

But the Preterist on Revelation would not necessarily relegate it to the past. The contrary, a preterist may argue that Revelation is a prophecy of all times. It occurred in Rome with the Caesars, it occurred in the Holy Roman Empire with the Popes, it occurs even now with our Religioso Empires, like the Soviet Union and the United States, making cults out of its institutions.

The preterism you've dashed, and rightly so, is bordering on full-preterism. They haven't quite rejected the resurrection as a metaphor(yet), but they deny Revelation has any meaning to the Church. And it is not some newspaper cyphered for finding out Barack Obama is the anti-christ and other things fitting for non-sense like 'Left Behind'

Anonymous said...

Actually the position you're advocating is more the Historicist position on Revelation. Full Preterism (that Jesus came back in AD70) is of course a heresy.

Partial Preterism usually views that everything up to Ch. 19 or so has been fulfilled.

Historicism also views the book as chronological and looks for the fulfillment throughout history...which yes, allows for continued relevance throughout the Church Age.

Preterism mostly views the book as fulfilled and thus not directly relevant. Futurism views the book as largely irrelevant for all but the last generations on earth. Historicism views it as a historical account and Idealism or Progressive Parallelism views it as a symbolic telling of the entirety of Church History from different perspectives told over and over again.

It's interesting. Historicism was the default Eschatology of the Reformation and remained popular into the 19th century. The rebirth of Premillennialism in it's modified Dispensational form really changed things.

Most of the older forms of Historicism were also Postmillennial...they looked for a Christianization, a Golden Age PRIOR to the 2nd Coming. Iain Murray writes about this extensively in The Puritan Hope and looks at the modern missionary movement through this lens.

I guess the Kingdom question must be wrestled with a bit before one comes to the book of Revelation. How that is defined will shape your understanding of what John is talking about.

Is the Kingdom physical, geographic, cultural, civilizational?

If the answer is no...then most of the Eschatological views must be laid aside. I would say start with the Epistles first (the clearest teaching), the Gospels second (less clear but still non-symbolic) and then come to Revelation. The Apostolic treatment of the OT helps us to get it. I think a compelling case can be made from Daniel for progressive and recurring visions. Revelation is the same Apocalyptic genre.

Practically speaking though we disagree, we're not THAT different. You see history as a progression of Beasts and false church heresies that work with it. I wholeheartedly agree. We have general principles...I would just argue there are no specifics per se. The HRE was a Beast, just as the British Empire, Soviet Union and USA are as well.

If you see that...we've got some pretty awesome common ground. I guess that will come in handy when we get Left Behind (wink).

Proto

Cal said...

I've never heard a fullfleshed description of 'historicism', I suppose my view doesn't fit such easy categorizations. I see much in the Parallelism view. Maybe I would argue that Revelation is much different than the prophecy Jesus gave over the Temple and the state of Jerusalem? I had just swept both modes under the label Preterist. This is why I hate labels!

Very good then! We agree very much so. I wouldn't argue that the HRE, USSR, USA or British Empire were parts of a prophecy but the same bestial structure rising up, time and time again. I didn't mean to make it seem that the Popes of the Middle Ages fulfilled some of it, the USA others and so on and so forth. The same drive that made the Pope's raise the armies of Europe to march east, was the same drive that made Britain seize India and the USA to do whatever it's doing now. Spreading the 'light' of civilization, or in better terms, having one culture slam its boot on the neck of others for domination.

Protoprotestant said...

Yeah, labels are often restricting. The positions are not monolithic. They're just a starting point. They're both helpful and worthless.

With regard to a passage like Matthew 24, I understand the Preterist argument. I'm not sure what you do with it, but many Preterists attempt to divide the passage at a particular verse and say everything before this was AD70, and everything after this verse is the Eschaton.

Premils say it's all future.

Amils like me say the passage is about both AD70 and the Eschaton, but you can't divide it up into specifics. AD70, like the previous destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC are typological pictures of the Day of Judgment. The Prophet whether it be Isaiah or Christ Himself employs Prophetic Perspective. It's as if he's viewing a mountain range from a distance. It all looks like one event...only when you get there do you make out the different ridges and peaks. AD70 was indeed a typological picture of the End. When Antiochus Epiphanes sacrificed a pig on the altar in the 2nd century BC...that was the abomination of desolation. When Titus destroyed the temple in AD70, that too was the abomination of desolation. Just today I was showing my kids the 8x10 I took of the inside of the Arch of Titus showing the Roman carrying out the menorah. They were impressed.

And I would say the abomination of desolation continues to happen....the Church is now the temple and so when Popes and others desecrate the 'temple' we have the same thing happening again. On Sunday 11 September 2011, it would have been hard to find a church in the United States that wasn't an example of the abomination of desolation. The local Baptist church which some relatives attend said the Pledge of Allegiance and sung the Star Spangled Banner. Antiochus and Titus from the fires of hell gave an approving nod I am sure...

The Empires you mention...they are Generally prophesied...I just don't know that they're specifically prophesied. There's no doubt when you read Revelation 18, at least in our day, it's hard not to think of something like the United States...and indeed it is a present and extremely poignant and powerful version of the Bestial Power. But to a Christian in 19th century India or China...the British Empire sure looked like it. And certainly to the Medieval Underground...there was no question...the Papal System was the picture of the Whore riding the Beast.

It sounds like we agree. There are some historicists who do try and say okay...Revelation chapter x, this refers to Charlemagne's defeat of the Lombards and this chapter refers to the Reformation and so forth. I can't agree with that. It's not a sound hermeneutic and it seems to just lead to endless speculation. There's no way to know for sure and no way to gauge the chronological scale. Maybe we're only on chapter 5 right now? Who knows?

I agree with your last two sentences 100%...and its that same spirit that leads 'churches'/whores (apocalyptic symbol, not name calling) to support these empires in their bloodshed, which can also come in many forms.

Always stimulating....Proto.

Cal said...

I suppose that's a very good point about the amill. I didn't think of that. It also solves the trouble of looping much of what Christ said around the 70 AD destruction. Paul didn't say the Old Passed away in the ruining of Jerusalem, it passed away the moment it was nailed to the cross. Jesus constituted the true Israel around Himself.

And who's to say that a new temple won't be built in Jerusalem? Plenty of zionists ship buckets of money to make it so, I just wouldn't expect it to go so well. Most Israelis could care less, they'd just like a peaceful Jerusalem (which may or may not include Arabs depending on who you ask).

Protoprotestant said...

Right on...the New came with the cross.

Some people talk about the transition period...interestingly about 40 years. I guess I assume the crucifixion to have taken place around the year 27-29....round it and say 30AD.

So you've got this 40 year period from Pentecost until the last vestiges of the Old Order are swept away.

On the one hand...yes, definitely at the cross it was done.

On the other hand, Paul and the other Apostles seem to accomodate a certain level of shall we say...Jewish Retention? Obviously Paul went much further than the others (and wrote most of the NT)...but even Paul will shave his head for a vow, worship in the temple etc...although it seems to be more for the Jews than the actual experience he was getting from it or out of some sort of formal obligation.

I'm not going to be dogmatic on the transition. I can say (with you)...New Covenant order/New Israel begins at the cross...period.

But maybe by way of accomodation...God gives a relatively short time for those wrestling and for the weak who are still bound to the tenets and practices of the Old Covenant. Plausible? Does that make sense?

As far as the New Temple, a 3rd Temple. Boy, I sure hope not. Sure it COULD happen, but no Christian would want to see that. While visually fascinating and geopolitically explosive...theologically speaking it would be...well, blasphemous...a architectural declaration of Christ rejection. A monument of apostasy.

I wish our media would cover the Israelis who oppose the Likud agenda as well as the numbers of Jews (including Orthodox) who oppose the legitimacy of the nation-state of Israel. These Jews believe that Zionism is sinful and that the Jews have no right to the land until God essentially sends a prophet to tell them to go back.

It's strange how Herzl's Zionism, the ideology of the modern state is so acceptable to American Dispensationalists. It was hardly interested in Mosaic or Davidic Covenant application!

History is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.

Who would have ever imagined that the Holocaust would lead to the birth of Zionist Israel and that they would then turn around and treat other people the way they do...after the horror and oppression they endured?

So what's our duty as Christians? Can we support a politician that is pro-Zionist and wants to see a Levitical Restoration?...in addition to being a proponent of the Imperium Americanum?

What if the other candidate is pro-abortion? Where does that leave us?

I'm genuinely asking anyone who cares to engage this point. I wrestle with this.

If it's Perry v. Obama, what do I do? I can't really vote for either.

Of course on another level...does it matter?

Cal said...

Not sure on a time of accommodation. I see in it an attitude that Christians should take generally. Becoming a Jew to the Jew, a Greek to a Greek. Of course this is a very nuanced statement that means not abandoning the truth to accommodating certain practices. Paul tells women not to shave their heads, why? Because this is how Grecian prostitutes present themselves. Paul is adamant about telling Greeks not to be circumcised because it is a symbol of abandoning Christ for the Old, the Judaizers who want to rope people into law. But on the other hand Paul says circumcision is nothing, it doesn't matter one way or another what is done 'down-there'. He also seemingly becomes a vegetarian in Rome for the sakes of those brothers who are tempted to pagan ways by eating any meat (of which all has been offered to this god or that goddess). I hope the general point is made.

As for Israel, I don't feel such a tough attitude. I have a great compassion for the Jewish people, not in a zionist sense, but as a cultural group that has been wandering Europe, Asia and Africa for the past 2 millenium. I think Israel is a good idea, that the Jews should have a place to govern themselves. However there is so much myth surrounding the country it makes me want to vomit. And even more so that it is propagated by 'christians'. Israel is a nation like the rest of them (though I'd rather them have a different name so there isn't confusion when talking about the New Israel of Jesus Christ, and the nation state Israel).

It is a beast that is trying to fight and survive amongst other beasts, it has its claws into the juggernaut America. And as being blind, I can't blame their decisions. They're hanging on the edge of invasion, they signed a deal with the Empire, an Empire that is infiltrated with many filial networks. Most Israelis don't give a damn about any religious duty (though a sacralist strain beats in their blood for fighting for their homeland), they want a decent wage to support a family and an end to hostilities.

Again, it varies on if this can be done with so many Palestinians inside Israel and what should be done with them. Some have taken the same bigoted attitude that Anglo-Americans had with the Native Americans, the Nazi-Germans with Jews, and most of modern Europe with the Roma. Throw them out or make camps. Others see a way through without struggle, but the Palestinian must abandon any track to Arab supremacy or an independent state. But all Palestinians see is the bigoted behavior, so they turn to their only hope, the extremists in Hamas, as fighting fire with fire. And thus the violence goes round and round. But what else would be expected from Beast-states?

As for Perry or Obama, I feel your pain. I'm more persuaded to vote for Obama so that even though I disagree with much of his policy, atleast Perry's victory doesn't spread more delusion, that America is "turning back to God" or that America "will receive His blessing". I'm coming to be more satisfied in this nation being shattered so we'd have men writing up laments like Jerome asking what are we to do without Rome. It'd be a step into perceiving Americans as something other than an Imperial Ambassador.

My 2 cents,
Cal

Protoprotestant said...

Responding to the first paragraph....

I agree.Wisdom must dictate our interactions. We can accomodate to a point. We have liberty but this is shaped also by obedience and wisdom and of course, love.

2nd paragraph:

I too have great compassion for the Jews, but as you acknowledge that doesn't necessarily have to extend to the Zionist state. Sure they could have a nation, but the location and place they chose....yikes. And the means they've had to employ to get and keep it....yikes.

And that Christians support this because of a theological position...argh!

Their responses are perfectly logical for lost people. Of course....strike back. But a theology that encourages Christians to support this...is just plain wicked.

Protoprotestant said...

You're next to last paragraph regarding the camps etc... is spot on. Worth far more than two cents. (smile)

History is indeed stranger than fiction....fiction has to make sense!

Obama and Perry.....

I don't know. I don't think our vote matters anyway. They're not going to let any change agents get into that office and a president's hands can be pretty much bound if need be. Obama has sold out on so many fronts and where he hasn't...his hands are tied.

I'm quite interested in the large segment of the Left that is basically refusing to vote for him. They feel betrayed.

What I'm wrestling with is.....okay, say it's Perry v. Daffy Duck. Do I not vote then? Or 'waste' a vote going for a 3rd party....or do I vote for ol' Daffy just because he's the only one that has the shot at beating Perry?

Part of me says....do anything to defeat a Dominionist. Another part of me says....why bother with any of it? I didn't for several years.

Another part of me says...ah, vote 3rd party and do whatever I can to help break the 2 Party Establishment.

We have many Jerome-ish laments already happening. Indeed what will the Church do without America? Blasphemous.

But you're right, if a Dominionist gets voted in, they get all excited. They seem to keep missing the fact that when they get their so-called Christian candidates elected...nothing changes, at least not for their kingdom crusades. When a so-called liberal is elected....nothing happens despite all their dire predictions.

It was exactly the same back in 92 when Clinton won. The world was going to end. But then nothing happened...in fact they all did rather well in the 1990's and ended up with a president that was in some ways more conservative the G HW Bush. Go figure.

We have to pray for the peace of Babylon, I just wish everyone would remember it's Babylon not Zion!

Protoprotestant said...

Breaking from the comment thread with Cal… this blog post came up in an email exchange with a friend tonight and I thought I would share part of what I wrote to him. He was asking about the Theonomic doctrine concerning the law and the ways they present it. For those who are unaware….Theo- refers of course to God and Nomos is law. So Theonomy is simply God’s Law…except in their case, it’s not.

Ken Gentry is a well known Theonomist and the late Greg Bahnsen was considered one of the three main figures involved in the genesis of the movement in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. The other two are the late RJ Rushdoony and Gary North who interestingly used to work for Ron Paul and today among other things has articles that appear at LewRockwell.com
----

We can talk about nomos any time you like. I took a semester of Greek. All I can say is....95% of the pastors who took Greek have forgotten most of it within a couple of years unless they really diligently applied themselves to it. Only a few have. The basic knowledge helps when you're trying to make use of the available tools...the concordances and commentaries. It helps me when I can read the text, even if I can't quite translate it all. I know some words and am familiar with the basic concepts.
The Theonomists have made much of their Greek arguments. All I can say is....conservative Biblically minded Greek scholars don't agree. Bahnsen's argument on Matthew 5.17 has been absolutely shredded.
Usually.....not always, but usually....I'm immediately suspicious of arguments built on questionable translations of Greek. It usually indicates they don't have much of a case.
Theonomy rests not on the Greek issues, but on some basic theological issues.
Just a quick example. When he's talking about Moral, Civil, and Ceremonial law....that's all from the Westminster Standards. This division was a mistake and not Biblical. Nowhere does the Bible split up the Mosaic covenant into 3-sections and then the idea that you can take ONE and keep it or in the case of the Theonomists combine two into one and keep that and exclude another is to misunderstand the nature of the Covenant. Also, the fact that they would take law that is given to the Covenant people and apply it to nations who are not under that law. I can go on and on....for hours. I contend as you well know, their system is fatally flawed....they just haven't understood the Bible and I believe I can prove it.
Why? That's a different matter that I've given a lot of time to. I think I can explain that as well...but it's more complicated. It's more of a philosophical issue, has to do with Van Til, and creates a pretty impressive argument that on the surface seems undefeatable.

Protoprotestant said...

contd.....

And to answer your question regarding distortion...yes, it can be distorted. The problem is...and you see this even with a Strong's Concordance....the context has to play into it. We use words all the time that don't have wooden definitions. Context determines what you mean. Greek is more technical than English which means you can speak with greater precision...but context still plays a huge role. But as I said, Bahnsen's argument doesn't stand. I'm not sure where else Gentry goes, but I can imagine he's in Romans and Galatians. It's ironic because the core of Theonomy is the Galatian error.
We'll have to get together...maybe at a time and place w/out distraction. It might help.
You might find this exchange of interest....
http://proto-protestantism.blogspot.com/2010/07/interacting-with-theonomistsdont-let.html
You can copy-paste it. That was with a OPC elder. He ran away because he couldn't answer the questions. We're not dealing with the same categories. Theonomists insist on dealing with specific questions that are philosophical in nature rather than textual. They argue Theonomy v. Autonomy, and By What Standard? as in...for the nations of the world. These are questions the Bible doesn't ask...at least not they way they ask them.
Wrong questions....hence, wrong answers. They want you to argue on their turf, so they can use all their ready answers to slaughter you. The problem is they've strayed so far from the text that when you present them with it they're left spluttering.

Protoprotestant said...

Continuing the discussion.......

From: abcde
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2011 10:00 PM
To:wxyz
Subject: Re:

Actually I believe that there was a Wesleyan gathering called Hilltop or something that just
I've been listening to Phillips on apologetics. To cut to the chase w/ you , he says that any pagan that has any knowledge has borrowed it from the Christian worldview because apart from the Bible all are ignorant according to Paul on Mars Hill. DO you agree?? He was also saying that there is Classical apologetics and Biblical apologetics. Is that how you would divide and teach them?? D.James Kennedy is an Evidentialist which Doug doesn't agree w/ even though he loves D.James and obviously you know Doug is Van Tillian. Are you familiar w/ the term evidentialist?

I responded-

Apologetics.........
As far as Phillips statement regarding pagans....yes and no.
On one level I can agree that when a pagan says 2+2=4, he knows this because God has created a universe with laws and in this creation 2+2 does indeed equal 4. So in that sense the pagan has grasped something that is true because of God's law, but he doesn't acknowledge God as the source of this knowledge and truth...and thus is condemned because of it.
The reason Van Tillians (what he's calling Biblical Apologetics) make much of this is because they want to account for the fact that lost people can accomplish things, even great things and that lost people can contribute to culture. So for example when you take someone like Adam Smith (the economist that most Conservative Christians revere) and realize he wasn't a Christian...what do you do with that? Well by pushing this issue they can say that though Adam Smith was lost, he reflected truth by borrowing from the Christian Worldview.
Van Tillians believe that all spheres have to be transformed into Christian Spheres. Thus there has to be a specific way (a blueprint) to do that. Though the Bible doesn't really provide specifically Christian ways to do economics, art, or politics on a societal level, they believe that using theological and philosophical methods we can come up with what the models are supposed to be...and call them Biblical.
I DO believe the Bible speaks to things...for the Church. It tells us how to think about these things, but because the Bible is Covenantal I don't expect to provide societal models...and it doesn’t.
OT Israel they say.....to which I say absolutely not. Israel was not like the United States. Israel was the covenant community, the True Theocracy, a picture of Christ. It's practically sacrilege to apply that to nations today. The only parallel to OT Israel is the NT Church. The political and economic set ups for Israel were not models for nations today. They were pictures of Christ.
Due to some other theological positions (largely stemming from their method) Van Tillians believe the unbeliever can't come up with anything good, anything true. If he does, you HAVE to ascribe it somehow to revelation from God. On one level, again, that's true, but they push these points for a particular reason.
The assumptions of Dominionism, which makes perfect sense since Van Til was coming out of a Dutch Reformed background, drive their thinking about the unbeliever, what he's capable of, what he isn't, as well as the whole issue of coming up with Christian solutions and models to all of societies problems. Van Til believed every thought captive, means the Bible can provide us the foundation for us to come up with blueprints for everything in culture and society.
While it sounds great, it's really going far beyond the scope of what Scripture is meant to do. It's taking it and making the Bible a sort of document/tool to create their version of the Kingdom which is more like an earthly utopia than anything the Bible ever presents to us.
It's complicated but I would argue they make a couple of missteps and this sets them on a course of asking wrong questions which begin to take over and drive all they do.

Protoprotestant said...

contd........

I'm trying to make this simple and not doing very well. It's complicated. There's several facets to this and each one is fairly complicated and they all sort of work together.
I could say....their problem is Rationalism which has led to a hyper-Systematic which has led to hyper-Calvinism and when this interacts with Dominionism they come up with a Philosophical System (rather than a Bible-Text based one) that provides them a model to take over the world and establish their utopia.
They wouldn't agree, but there are others who would agree with me.
Van Til has cast a long shadow over the Reformed world. His arguments regarding the Sovereignty of God and how to glorify God in apologetics impressed a lot of people and the simple version of his views have become the default in those circles. I know of some who don't agree with him...but don't dare say so. They literally will be chased out and suffer persecution. I remember guys at seminary saying they would never vote to ordain an elder or pastor who wasn't a Van Tillian.
Theonomists (and Van Til actually wasn't one) have taken his ideas and melded them with certain American traits and their particular version of Postmillennialism. They are consistent, I will grant them that. When they encounter other Dominionist-minded people in Reformed circles who claim to be Van Tillian...the Theonomists can crush them, at least philosophically and theologically. I have to be honest, the sad and frustrating thing is that often times they're not arguing about much of anything from the Bible. They spend their time arguing about philosophy (mostly the mathematics of logic) and about tradition (the Westminster Confession, what Calvin, Turretin, Hodge said etc...). Sad but very true.
Classical Aplogetics or Evidentialism (some might make a distinction, but I wouldn't bother)....is championed in Reformed circles by Sproul, and he's pretty much it. There are some others in Dutch Reformed circles, Plantinga, Dooyewerd etc..., but in Presbyterian circles it's Van Til, Sproul the classicist and a handful of Gordon Clark disciples.
Clark and Van Til disciples do not get along. Van Til and Clark both died in the 1980's. Bahnsen and John Robbins kind of took up the mantle as their protégés. Bahnsen of course died in 1995 and Robbins died....a year or two ago, I can't remember.
Clark is an extreme rationalist. He's quite popular among Hyper-Calvinists, which would include Herman Hoeksema's Protestant Reformed Church...and some people we know. There are a handful of folks in Presbyterian circles that like him. The Bible Presbyterians I think have a bit of an affinity for him and I even have been to some OPC's that are dominated by Clarkians. But they're a definite minority.
Classical Apologetics sticks with the apologetical methods that have come down through history. It still employs the arguments used by people in the ancient and medieval Church, like Anselm and Thomas Aquinas. It seeks to find a common ground with the unbeliever and build from that point, arguing them toward God. For example, you believe in right and wrong, where do you think that comes from? Could it be from a God? Or...you believe in God? Good...and then argue toward specifically the Christian God.

Protoprotestant said...

Van Tillians argue that this does not glorify God in that it subjects Him to argument when the unbeliever can't make sense of anything apart from God....and (here's where the Hyper-Calvinism comes in)....they would say that you're ascribing abilities to the unbeliever that he can't have...that is to say, theological reasoning.

The Classicists counter that when Van Tillians say God is, because you can't make sense of anything without God...or God is, because the Bible says it and the Bible is the Word of God.... they're arguing in circles which is a classic illogical error. In other words, it’s the classic ploy of someone who can't make their case.
Some of this ends up being something of a waste of time. They end up arguing about Paul in Acts 17...clearly Evidentialist to my mind....but the Van Tillians of course have to claim Paul was arguing their way.
On the apologetic end...I don't care....whatever works when you're talking to someone. Bottom line, you can't reason someone into the faith, it's an operation of the Holy Spirit. They've take 'be ready to give an answer' to the 1000th degree. I don't think intricate philosophical subtleties is quite what Peter had in mind!
I'm more interested in Van Tillian philosophies effect of being wedded to Dominionism (in whatever form)....that creates a powerful (but flawed) argument for what is being done at present in Christian circles.
Just like Dispensationalism is a house of cards....so is this. It's a bigger and more complicated house, but if a couple of the cards at the bottom are removed, the whole thing falls apart.
So, Phillips is largely right in splitting things up between the Classical and Van Tillian but I wouldn't refer to Van Tillian-ism as Biblical Apologetics. On the other hand it's kind of simplistic view that ignores a lot of other people's positions...including those who don't particularly resonate with someone like Sproul but also don't appreciate Van Til.
Classical Apologetics by Sproul is probably the best book giving his argument. In it he gives a pretty thorough critique of Van Til and some of his critiques are valid. Though I would also levy some of the same charges against him. He accuses them of being Hyper-Calvinistic, but his rationalism largely takes him in the same direction.
I think Van Til's way of arguing....the presuppositional circle is fine as long we're talking to other believers. Of course we presuppose God and that affects all of our discussions and inquiries. But when I'm talking to an unbeliever, a circular argument that beats them over the head often does little. Van Tillians aren't always consistent. People have debated about Bahnsen's performance against Gordon Stein. He clearly dusted the guy, but was he a consistent Van Tillian in the process?
DJ Kennedy was probably an evidentialist. He was trying to argue people into why this or that law being passed was good for them, how it made society better. That's not how a Van Tillian wants to argue. He wants to say...God said so and you just try to argue against it. It's clever, but often to my mind they're not representing God at all. And since so much of what they argue about it miles away from Scripture (and there's a reason for that too!) it largely is reduced logic...or math. And you'll find they spend lots of time on that. Just visit their blogs where they're interacting with others.

Protoprotestant said...

I find in the end, that once again, they're largely missing the point of it all and Christianity is almost reduced to who can employ the bigger weapons in the culture war. Their array is pretty impressive. It must have vexed them though that someone like DJ Kennedy got more of an audience. In the end he was very much on their side. All that he laboured for helped move people in their direction. To me Kennedy is sort of the poster child for a lot of the stuff I critique. I listened to him many times on the radio....personally, I don't expect to see the guy in the Kingdom, because all he ever promoted was idolatry, syncretism, and Beast worship. To me he was a classic case of the enemy appearing as an angel of light.
In the end, the Theonomists represent the extreme but consistent manifestation of Dominion Theology which in various forms has been at work in the Church since the days just before Constantine the wrongly called 'Great'.
There's been another force that has countered them. We've always been the minority and we too have existed in different forms and to various degrees. Two Kingdoms, Remnant, Anabaptist, Donatist...whatever. There have been many names. But we sort of represent the other side that has a very different vision.
There are many others have tried to ride both sides of the issue...never quite comfortable with either extreme. From the Theonomist standpoint they're inconsistent and need to be beat over the head. From the Two Kingdom perspective, most of the others are really Dominionists just held in check by the text or some other force.
Wisdom would say...the middle must be the answer. Maybe but whenever I see the middle....it just looks like Dominionism. There are those who say something like....Two Kingdoms is right but we're supposed to live like we're Dominionists. Or some would say Amil is right, but we're supposed to live like we're Postmil.
But that's the thing both the Theonomists and the Two Kingdom people understand....eschatology is not just about end times. It profoundly affects how we think and live now.
I'll stop there. Feel free to hone in on any point and we can go further if you like.