First table of the law as US law?

Status
Not open for further replies.

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't know how well this is gonna go but here we go. My intention for starting this is to discuss what think are real practical problems for instilling the first table of the law as US law. Three facts upfront
1. scripture teaches only one view on this issue so it's settled
2. the church does not agree on what scripture teaches. So different members can in good conscience hold different views.
3. it is impossible under our current legal system to instill laws that require obeying the first table of the law
With those three facts on the table for anyone, who I know has the best of intentions, who wants to instill the first table of the law as the law of the land, how would it practically be done? Also in a moral fashion.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
In the previous thread where this was being discussed (https://puritanboard.com/threads/magistrates-as-nursing-fathers.100612/) you said that "Christiandom didn't work in the long run and is responsible, like it or not, with the current secular world we live in. If people don't like religious freedom as it is, they have the church to blame for that. Yes God can make these things happen. But how is going back going to solve problems that we don't even existed and hence are probably going to repeat themselves?" And also said "the Reformation was full of wars, not all religious. It was those wars that appear to have shifted western society in the direction it's gone, in my opinion."
I guess we do view history differently. The doings of man are always marred by sin and failure. There won't be a perfect godly kingdom until Christ comes. I guess my view is that I'm content with however God's providences work out in this area, yet I think it's our duty to pray fervently for his kingdom to come and for his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. He is answering that prayer no matter what the political landscape is like, and he is building his church. The reform of the 15th-17th centuries was his doing, look at the fruit! But wolves are always lurking in the church and even good men get worn down. I just see it simply. God will do what is good and right. He's not limited. We are to pray.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I don't know how well this is gonna go but here we go. My intention for starting this is to discuss what think are real practical problems for instilling the first table of the law as US law. Three facts upfront
1. scripture teaches only one view on this issue so it's settled
2. the church does not agree on what scripture teaches. So different members can in good conscience hold different views.
3. it is impossible under our current legal system to instill laws that require obeying the first table of the law
With those three facts on the table for anyone, who I know has the best of intentions, who wants to instill the first table of the law as the law of the land, how would it practically be done? Also in a moral fashion.

How do you support your first point, by which I assume you mean that the First Table may not be used to govern a nation?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
From a practical standpoint, the first thing that would help would be if individual Christians and churches gave up their #FourthCommandmentDenial and #LiturgicalAntinomianism. We can hardly expect society to have much regard for the first table of the law when the church in such blatant rebellion to the second and fourth commandments.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
My own opinion as to how to deal with the matter politically is to a) admit that it is not achievable in the short-term; b) concentrate on issues that are more achievable in the short-term such as stopping abortion, opposing the homosexual mafia, fighting Globalism, George Soros, Marxism, and open-borders.

We could spend all our time commenting on the civil application of the first table of the law - and I believe that there is certainly a place for doing so even today - but we have to ask ourselves whether or not it is the best use of time in our current circumstances? In Franciscus Junius's preface to his book, The Mosaic Polity, he notes that the early church did not spend much time discussing the judicial laws because they were not in a position to administer justice while living under a heathen ruler. Instead, "they were most wisely busying themselves so that their own piety would be useful in all circumstances." [1]

How is our piety most practically useful in our circumstances? Endlessly obsessing about the application of the first table in a context where it is not possible for it to be implemented is probably not a good idea nor is it the best use of time and resources. Yet there is still a place for sharing what the Reformers taught on these subjects among ourselves and in passing it on to our offspring.

[1] Franciscus Junius, The Mosaic Polity, trans. Todd M. Rester, ed. Andrew M. McGinnis (1593; Grand Rapids, 2015), p. 14.
 

kodos

Puritan Board Junior
In poll after poll, we read that the gospel is preached in so few churches, that the Church ought to focus on calling the dead to life in Christ and instruct them to follow the law themselves. Once the land is full of the living, then the living can tackle these issues of the First Table in earnest.

And as Daniel states - we must share the doctrine and pass it to our children so that when the "time is ripe", they can disciple the nation appropriately.

Also, perhaps, this is a time for our ministers and people to be engaged with lesser magistrates and to exhort them to A) Be converted and B) Honor Christ in their office.
 
Last edited:

ADKing

Puritan Board Junior
2. the church does not agree on what scripture teaches. So different members can in good conscience hold different views.

With those three facts on the table for anyone, who I know has the best of intentions, who wants to instill the first table of the law as the law of the land, how would it practically be done? Also in a moral fashion.

I have often heard the objection that the differences of opinions amongst even true Christians makes something like the establishment principle, impractical or undesirable, if not impossible. We can look at what happened subsequent to the Westminster Assembly and see the disagreement amongst the Presbyterians/Independents and others to see the difficulty of achieving an establishment even in what were better times than these. I have taken encouragement from what I believe is the biblical teaching that a day is coming when God's Spirit will bring his Church to a uniformity. "Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion." Isaiah 52:8.

"Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." Ezekiel 37:19-22

It truly blows my mind to think what can/will be accomplished when the Church is of one mind. When that is the case the situation will be so different that many of the current objections will fade away. As others have said, this will be the work of God's Spirit and we should pray for that.

I have long maintained that the traditional view about the first table needs to go hand in hand with an eschatological outlook that sees God promising to bring these things to pass. When those two doctrines are wed, to me anyway, it seems a lot easier to accept and to be less concerned with objections that arise when we only look at how things appear to be now. I can only speculate about this, but it seems to me that the decline in the eschatology of the "Puritan hope" or postmillennialism has had a direct impact on the decline on how strong Christians have held to things like the establishment principle and the application of the first table of the law to society.
 

smalltown_puritan

Puritan Board Freshman
In poll after poll, we read that the gospel is preached in so few churches, that the Church ought to focus on calling the dead to life in Christ and instruct them to follow the law themselves. Once the land is full of the living, then the living can tackle these issues of the First Table in earnest.

And as Daniel states - we must share the doctrine and pass it to our children so that when the "time is ripe", they can disciple the nation appropriately.

Also, perhaps, this is a time for our ministers and people to be engaged with lesser magistrates and to exhort them to A) Be converted and B) Honor Christ in their office.

I wholeheartedly agree. I would also add that ministers should lead the congregation in actively praying to this end, and to do so regularly as commanded in the Scriptures.

The Directory for the Publick Worship of God says it well: 'To pray for all in authority, especially for the King's Majesty; that God would make him rich in blessings, both in his person and government; establish his throne in religion and righteousness, save him from evil counsel, and make him a blessed and glorious instrument for the conversation and propagation of the gospel, for the encouragement and protection of them that do well, the terror of all that do evil, and the great good of the whole church, and of all his kingdoms; for the conversion of...' [all rulers and magistrates].
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
How do you support your first point, by which I assume you mean that the First Table may not be used to govern a nation?
All 3 points are taken together. We can argue over scripture all we want, and should. But I've never seen a convincing argument. But that's not the point. If you map out all the things that practically have to be changed somehow, it's oustounding. And I think will only lead to tyranny. The constitution and Bill of rights have to go. But once they are gone and this new council or whatever is set up to decide things, what do they choose? Will our nation be generically Christian, so RC and EO may be free to worship? Or evangelical? Or should it be only the Reformed? But who in the Reformed can decide, Theonomists and 2k people? You see with step you are widaling it down until only a select group is legal and everyone else isn't, that's the beginning of tyranny. A Postmillianal view solves that, but how many amil and historic premill people think the first table of the law should be the law of the land?
Saying that God will bring it about is great too, but we don't even agree on how that goes. Two kingdom, Transformationalism, and Theonomy all have very different ideas on how it will go.
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
All 3 points are taken together. We can argue over scripture all we want, and should. But I've never seen a convincing argument. But that's not the point. If you map out all the things that practically have to be changed somehow, it's oustounding. And I think will only lead to tyranny. The constitution and Bill of rights have to go. But once they are gone and this new council or whatever is set up to decide things, what do they choose? Will our nation be generically Christian, so RC and EO may be free to worship? Or evangelical? Or should it be only the Reformed? But who in the Reformed can decide, Theonomists and 2k people? You see with step you are widaling it down until only a select group is legal and everyone else isn't, that's the beginning of tyranny. A Postmillianal view solves that, but how many amil and historic premill people think the first table of the law should be the law of the land?
Saying that God will bring it about is great too, but we don't even agree on how that goes. Two kingdom, Transformationalism, and Theonomy all have very different ideas on how it will go.

I'm going to start winding down my participation, because my work's busy season is drawing near. But a few thoughts.

If it's not Scriptural, the discussion ends. But if it is Scriptural, the impossibility doesn't matter. Despite the raging nations and the inconsistency and doctrinal/practical disunity of the church, Christ is anointed to sit on Mt Zion, and Christ will have His way. If the nations are given to Christ as Psalm 2 says, He will rule them just as He wishes. And being the God-Man, He is powerful enough to convert the whole of nations or to judge them.

Many things are impossible. My and your conversion. Raising the dead. Healing of lepers. The creation of the world from nothing. The victory of Gideon, the strength of Samson. The defeat of Sennacherib. The conversion of 3000 Jews in one day. The endurance of the church to the end of the world. Nonetheless, they all happen. So the only question is, What does Scripture say to expect?

As for tyranny, let's remember we live in a country that has the blood of 60 million babies on its hands. We are the world bully. Much of what we've got is by taking out massive debt and refusing to pay back. You'd be amazed at what power plays we have undertaken to collect our tax money. I can give other instances. We've banned the Triune God from governance by declaring that the government will not countenance, support, promote or endorse any one religion over another but would attempt to be thoroughly neutral. We have a sea of potential tyrants sitting in the Senate and Congress who are under the banner of the Democratic party. If the concern is tyranny, we at least look at how things are now and say that the American way has been an utter moral disaster. It brings us back to the question, "Why do we think this way of governance has ever been the will of God?"

And I cannot accept the logic that once Christ gets involved in the governance of a nation, and you actually expect rulers to be godly, that this will somehow make us worse off, when we involve the only one who is able to tame and restrain wicked hearts and brings whole nations to worship himself.

I have to start winding down participation, so I may or may not reply. God bless you brother.
 
Last edited:

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I'm going to start winding down my participation, because my work's busy season is drawing near. But a few thoughts.

If it's not Scriptural, the discussion ends. But if it is Scriptural, the impossibility doesn't matter. Despite the raging nations and the inconsistency and doctrinal/practical disunity of the church, Christ is anointed to sit on Mt Zion, and Christ will have His way. If the nations are given to Christ as Psalm 2 says, He will rule them just as He wishes. And being the God-Man, He is powerful enough to convert the whole of nations or to judge them.

Many things are impossible. My and your conversion. Raising the dead. Healing of lepers. The creation of the world from nothing. The victory of Gideon, the strength of Samson. The defeat of Sennacherib. The conversion of 3000 Jews in one day. The endurance of the church to the end of the world. Nonetheless, they all happen. So the only question is, What does Scripture say to expect?

As for tyranny, let's remember we live in a country that has the blood of 60 million babies on its hands. We are the world bully. Much of what we've got is by taking out massive debt and refusing to pay back. You'd be amazed at what power plays we have undertaken to collect our tax money. I can give other instances. We've banned the Triune God from governance by declaring that the government will not countenance, support, promote or endorse any one religion over another but would attempt to be thoroughly neutral. We have a sea of potential tyrants sitting in the Senate and Congress who are under the banner of the Democratic party. If the concern is tyranny, we at least look at how things are now and say that the American way has been an utter moral disaster. It brings us back to the question, "Why do we think this way of governance has ever been the will of God?"

And I cannot accept the logic that once Christ gets involved in the governance of a nation, and you actually expect rulers to be godly, that this will somehow make us worse off, when we involve the only one who is able to tame and restrain wicked hearts and brings whole nations to worship himself.

I have to start winding down participation, so I may or may not reply. God bless you brother.
Well there's a lot there. I appreciate your zeal. Even though that doesn't begin to deal with the practical issues I laid out. How many died for the establishment of religion in Europe? Was that "good"? The Lord's Will? I know you don't believe that but I see no other to make sense of it than that murder was ok but our sins are not. How do you deal with issue of who gets to rule, Lutherans, Reformed, or only some section of Reformed? Do hymns with music get a free pass in this society or a Capello only? What sorts of punishments should one side get over the other?
How do even decide what punishments to give out in such a society? You see these are the sorts of questions I'd like to see some answer to before I rethink my 2 kingdom/natural law view. As far as a biblical defense of it look up David Vandrunen's work. But this thread is about practical issues not exegesis. As I said I admire you and your POV but if it is so right than what sorts of answers do you have for the issues I brought up? I know work prevents you from engaging so I hope that goes well. But anyone else who agrees with you please answer.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
James:

I think you are right that there are real practical problems "for instilling the first table of the law as US law." But surely there are just as many for maintaining any semblance of the second table and recovering those that have been overturned.

Second, not to be curt, but the US is one nation on earth. There are many more that could (potentially) be used of God to countenance and maintain the church (WLC, Q&A 191). I tend to think that the church is largely going to die out in the West but it might be revived or built up in a better position somewhere else.

Third, I agree with the other brothers that the conviction of an established church cannot consume us when we have other duties to which we must (and can) attend. But I would also maintain that we always have a duty to maintain the whole counsel of God's Word (Acts 20:27), regardless of the practicality or possibility of implementing each truth.

Fourth, I disagree that "different members can in good conscience hold different views" because the church does not agree. I assume it is not your intention to teach implicit faith, but we do not hold to something or (in this case) the freedom to hold to something simply because the church is divided. There may (naturally) be less impetus to hold to something that unifies us, but that should drive us all the more to hold to something that is true because, as you say, scripture only teaches one doctrine.

Fifth, the only practical way it could be done, it seems to me, is adopting a revision of the constitution. The only practical way that could be done is by the spirit of God falling on men in a time of national revival and reformation.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
How many died for the establishment of religion in Europe? Was that "good"? The Lord's Will? I know you don't believe that but I see no other to make sense of it than that murder was ok but our sins are not. How do you deal with issue of who gets to rule, Lutherans, Reformed, or only some section of Reformed? Do hymns with music get a free pass in this society or a Capello only? What sorts of punishments should one side get over the other?
How do even decide what punishments to give out in such a society? You see these are the sorts of questions I'd like to see some answer to before I rethink my 2 kingdom/natural law view. As far as a biblical defense of it look up David Vandrunen's work. But this thread is about practical issues not exegesis. As I said I admire you and your POV but if it is so right than what sorts of answers do you have for the issues I brought up? I know work prevents you from engaging so I hope that goes well. But anyone else who agrees with you please answer.

Tens of thousands I suppose. But I am not certain what you are referring to when you write "for the establishment of religion in Europe." Are you referring to religious wars in general? The Covenanters?

Who gets to rule? In civil matters, the civil magistrate. In terms of punishment, that is left up to the wisdom of the government with careful attention to the general equity of scripture. The government could impose restrictions on those who seek to implement false worship or undermine Reformed churches. They could also outlaw any church that meets under another confession. They could ban, fine and, in the extreme, execute.

I wouldn't expect that, in the days of establishment, there would be any more denominations. Personally, I don't know of any person who embraces establishmentarianism who holds to anything other than the original Westminster Standards and its views on worship.
 
Last edited:

Henry Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
As far as a biblical defense of it look up David Vandrunen's work.
BSchwertley addresses your questions in his covenanting book and series on sermonaudio, and VanDrunen’s view in his series and forthcoming book on natural law pluralism.

He says that it would take pure worship, preaching the gospel, revival, reformation, and national covenanting with a Christian amendment to the USCON. BTW he said it wouldn’t be easy.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
What denomination is Schwertley in?
BSchwertley addresses your questions in his covenanting book and series on sermonaudio, and VanDrunen’s view in his series and forthcoming book on natural law pluralism.

He says that it would take pure worship, preaching the gospel, revival, reformation, and national covenanting with a Christian amendment to the USCON. BTW he said it wouldn’t be easy.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Still? It no longer exists does it? His family had been attending the Dallas RPCNA. Okay; I did some searching. He now seems to have a church in Prosper, Texas which, I guess his, site says is WPCUS; but the link to the official WPCUS.org site brings up a dead site.
WPCUS still.
 

Henry Hall

Puritan Board Freshman
Still? It no longer exists does it? His family had been attending the Dallas RPCNA. Okay; I did some searching. He now seems to have a church in Prosper, Texas which, I guess his, site says is WPCUS; but the link to the official WPCUS.org site brings up a dead site.
All true...Covenanted Reformed in Prosper is still very small.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Tens of thousands I suppose. But I am not certain what you are referring to when you write "for the establishment of religion in Europe." Are you referring to religious wars in general? The Covenanters?

Who gets to rule? In civil matters, the civil magistrate. In terms of punishment, that is left up to the wisdom of the government with careful attention to the general equity of scripture. The government could impose restrictions on those who seek to implement false worship or undermine Reformed churches. They could also outlaw any church that meets under another confession. They could ban, fine and, in the extreme, execute.

I wouldn't expect that, in the days of establishment, there would be any more denominations. Personally, I don't know of any person who embraces establishmentarianism who holds to anything other than the original Westminster Standards and its views on worship.
My point was that in order for the reformers to get their established religion people had die to get it. Trying to compare that time to our sins, which are way to many, is not like comparing apples with oranges, it's a rotten apple with a rotten apple. Bloodshed is bloodshed, now matter what for.
As far as who gets to rule, dismiss everything you know and go to zero. In order for this to happen, at some point the constitution, Bill of rights, and all of our case laws must be wiped off the books. Now that we are at zero something must replace it, some document or council or whatever, but something. So now this council must decide (If everything doesn't disintegrate in the process, anarchy tends to do that) what this new set of laws are, which Christians are good legally and which ones are in violation of "the law", and what the penaltiesare. But humans have a bad habit of not agreeing, so who knows. As far as penalties go I think it would be helpful for someone advocating that POV to really think about it, think it through what should happen to these people. When you put a face on a "criminal" it's a little more sobering what's going on.
I don't think people who advocate this think about it, other than the gentleman's post above.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Now postmillianalism solves the problem but how many amils hold this view. Also with all bloodshed it wasn't some golden age or anything.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
We are not a theocracy like Israel was. We ARE strangers in a foreign land. God sets up governments and brings down governments all of which are used to further his kingdom. We aren't to "make" America a Christian nation by making laws that people have to be a Christian or follow Christian laws. We are to spread the Gospel and God will convert those he has predestined. I'm thankful for our Constitution and Bill of Rights even though more and more politicians are disregarding it. Let people have freedom of religion and let us go out to tell them of the true religion which brings true freedom.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
My point was that in order for the reformers to get their established religion people had die to get it.
I don’t know through what lens you’re interpreting this period of church history. I see the upheaval surrounding the reformation as the age old clash of satanic forces waging war on the saints. The reformers wanted to worship God as he has commanded his people to worship. The forces arrayed against the church would have war to stop that happening. “No bishop (prelacy), no king.”
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
My point was that in order for the reformers to get their established religion people had die to get it. Trying to compare that time to our sins, which are way to many, is not like comparing apples with oranges, it's a rotten apple with a rotten apple. Bloodshed is bloodshed, now matter what for.
Also with all bloodshed it wasn't some golden age or anything.
First, I question your historical analysis.

Second, Samwise Gamgee has something to say on the subject.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I don’t know through what lens you’re interpreting this period of church history. I see the upheaval surrounding the reformation as the age old clash of satanic forces waging war on the saints. The reformers wanted to worship God as he has commanded his people to worship. The forces arrayed against the church would have war to stop that happening. “No bishop (prelacy), no king.”
In the context of my whole post, in order to get establishment people died. It wasn't peaceful, it was war and death. It wasn't wrong either, it was necessary. So what makes us think it be any different in our age and is that right?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
First, I question your historical analysis.

Second, Samwise Gamgee has something to say on the subject.

We can't even get Tom to observe the Sabbath by not posting movies on the Sabbath much less have unbelievers observe the Sabbath. :cool: Tom, I have a big gun and I'm ready for a reformed war. Actually, I hate guns and war so carry on. :surrender:
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top