Friday, October 31, 2008

Response to Anonymous Diatribe against Theonomy

Some anonymous person wrote the following diatribe. It's worth reviewing it, since the spirit behind the diatribe walks to and fro and up and down in the Earth, ensuring that this won't be the last time we hear these sorts of things:
theonomists believe in following the OLD LAW rather than the NEW TESTAMENT, and in murdering blasphemers, heretics, idolators [sic]. And yes, its murder, because the New Testament has removed any and all religious authority for this type of action. "Let him that is without sin cast the first stone" condemns all theonomists to hell. Now, TF says he wouldn't kill someone for wearing wool and linen together.....but that's only because the American government won't let him, not because he doesn't want to. Admit it, TF, just like all your buddy theonomists you wish that Calvinists were in control of the government so they could flay Hindus alive, bore the tongues of Arminians through with hot irons, crucify Roman Catholics, and burn people at the stake for "breaking the sabbath" or wearing wool and linen together. Just admit it. Any theonomist is an extreme theonomist, because the New Testament nowhere tells Christians to take control of the government and punish people for not being Christian. Calvinists just love to persecute, however, and convert by threat of death or injury, because they are Judaizing scum on the worst sort.
First of all, it should be clear that I don't endorse anything that this anonymous person (who sounds more or less like Beowulf2k8) has to say. We'll call this poster just "the Accuser" for short. Let's pick apart his rant, piece by piece, expose it to the light of truth, and watch it dematerialize.

Accuser's Accusation: "theonomists believe in following the OLD LAW rather than the NEW TESTAMENT, and in murdering blasphemers, heretics, idolators [sic]."

Answer:
a) One God gave both testaments. There's not a disunity between them. They are two edges of the same sword of the spirit.
b) Blasphemers are worthy of death, according to the law of God. A civil government that executes them (or murderers, or anyone else worthy of death) is not "murdering" them. If the Accuser has a problem with that, he needs to take it up with God, under whose law blasphemers were put to death.
c) Heretics and idolaters, as such, were not subject to capital punishment under the law of Israel. So, one would not expect theonomists to support capital punishment of such folks. A civil government that kills people simply for being heretics and/or idolaters would not seem to have any Biblical justification for their judgment.

Accuser: "And yes, its murder, because the New Testament has removed any and all religious authority for this type of action."

Answer: The Accuser is a bit vague in his accusation here. The question of whether something is "murder" or proper execution is a moral question. Questions of morality are religious questions - or at least have a significant religious aspect. If it was just under the Old Testament law (and it was) for someone to be stoned to death, one wonders whether the accuser imagines that justice itself changed.

Accuser: "'Let him that is without sin cast the first stone' condemns all theonomists to hell."

Answer:
Even if we moderate the Accuser's comment to say that the phrase "contradicts the theonomists":
a) This is not a verse to which a "two kingdoms" kind of person could appeal for that kind of concept, because the punishment of death here was not for a violation of the first table of the law (crimes against God) but the second table of the law (crimes against man).
b) This is not a verse to which those fond of modern textual criticism could appeal for that kind of concept, because most modern textual critics deny the originality of this passage, since it does not appear in the earliest manuscripts that we have today.
c) This is not a verse to which any person who believes that crimes should be punished (but only that capital punishment is out) can appeal to for that kind of concept, because Jesus does not fine the woman, or sentence her to life in prison, but simply lets her go free.
d) This is not a verse to which any person that values consistency of Scripture could appeal to for that kind of concept, because Paul clearly states:
Romans 13:3-4
3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
e) So who could appeal to this kind of verse for that concept? Someone who has only a cursory understanding of the Scriptures and/or someone who wishes to justify his conclusion ex post facto. There are a thousand better ways to understand the comment, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her," than to view it as a condemnation of capital punishment.

Accuser: "Now, TF says he wouldn't kill someone for wearing wool and linen together.....but that's only because the American government won't let him, not because he doesn't want to."

Answer:
a) Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11 both proscribe (forbid) garments made from a mixture of wool and linen. There is not, however, any sentence of death proclaimed on people who violate this law. In fact, the law of Moses doesn't indicate any punishment for violation of this law.
b) The prohibition on garments of mixed fibres was a ceremonial law pointing to separation and physical purity. It was fulfilled in Christ, who was free from impurities.
c) I am in favor of the death penalty, for example, for rape of a married woman, although "the American government won't let" the state governments execute this just punishment for that particular form of the general category of adultery. I do not suggest that Christians should take the law into their own hand in this matter, or the matter of punishment for murder. In short, my position with respect to what is just is framed by the Word of God, not the opinion of the American (or any other) government. If I thought people should be sentenced to death for wearing garments of diverse sorts, I'd just say so.

Accuser: "Admit it, TF, just like all your buddy theonomists you wish that Calvinists were in control of the government so they could flay Hindus alive, bore the tongues of Arminians through with hot irons, crucify Roman Catholics, and burn people at the stake for "breaking the sabbath" or wearing wool and linen together. Just admit it."

Answer: See above. I don't have any problem speaking clearly. I have elsewhere identified what the Old Testament laws were that carried the penalty of death. Simply being a Hindu (pagan) or Romanist (heretic) would not qualify. Wearing mixed garments clearly wouldn't qualify. Breaking the sabbath would qualify as a capital crime. Torture (such as burning holes in people's tongues - even those of "Arminians" who Arminius would not recognize as his followers) is not part of the Mosaic administration of justice.

Accuser: "Any theonomist is an extreme theonomist, because the New Testament nowhere tells Christians to take control of the government and punish people for not being Christian."

Answer:
a) Christians are not commanded to try to "take control of the government."
b) I certainly don't, and I think most theonomists would agree, think that people should be punished "for not being Christian."

Accuser: "Calvinists just love to persecute, however, and convert by threat of death or injury, because they are Judaizing scum on the worst sort."

Answer:
a) Calvinists, in general and especially these days, are not necessarily theonomists. Furthermore, even among Christian theonomists, I've never seen a love of persecution.
b) Calvinists deny the possibility of conversion through threat of death or injury. Unlike Arminians, who imagine that conversion is simply a decision of man, Calvinists believe that it is grace (not the sword) that converts.
d) Conversely, one could deny TULIP and be an Arminian or Amyraldian theonomist. I cannot think of any off hand. There are, however, Federal Visionists (I would not consider them to be Calvinists, because of at least a formal rejection of the "P" in TULIP) who also appear to be theonomists of some kind.

-TurretinFan

3 comments:

natamllc said...

yep, TF: "....and watch it dematerialize."

Yep, I did indeed watch it dematerialize.

GeneMBridges said...

The prohibition on garments of mixed fibres was a ceremonial law pointing to separation and physical purity. It was fulfilled in Christ, who was free from impurities.

Actually, this would, as I recall, be a concrete instance of the moral law. Wearing clothes of two fibers would have been, in that society, a signal one believed in sympathetic magic. It's on the same level as the prohibition of boiling a kid in it's mother's milk. The most severe penalty would, indeed, have been death for the impentient. There isn't, IMO, as concrete a separation between uses of the law as many think.

Turretinfan said...

Brother Gene,

I have responded to your comment in a new post (here).

-TurretinFan