Objections to the Abiding Validity of the Judicial Law

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wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
General equity means exactly what it sounds like. It has to do with the principles associated with the judicial laws. These particular laws were for a covenanted nation that no longer exists. Since God has chosen not the create a new covenant with any other nation like He did with Israel, no other nation is obliged to adhere to those laws. Sinclair Ferguson and Lig Duncan have given sufficient explanations but unfortunately many theonomists don't like them so they resort to the old "well the Standards can be viewed in a number of different ways so theonomy is an allowable interpretation". The Standards say what they say and they can't be massaged to fit a particular viewpoint no matter how hard one tries. I don't buy if from the FV's and I don't buy it from the theonomists.

That's fine. What are those principles, then?

An example would be that of liability or that of proportionality (punishment fits the crime so to speak).

the Westminster Divines all swore a national covenant and believed that all nations were to be "covenanted nations" that walked in God's statutes.

I assume you are talking about the Solemn League and Covenant? I'm not up on 17th centrury English history, but I think that covenant was broken? Is England, Scotland and Ireland now under God's curse for breaking it?

Also, if I remember my old testament right it was God who initiated the covenant with Israel not the other way around. Since God established that covenant (as an administration of the Covenant of Grace with the last administration being the New Covenant) he obligated Israel to comply with the law and He would bless them.

Since God has not seen fit, as far as I know, to initiate a covenant with any other nation than Israel, what would be the stipulations of this new covenant between God and that nation that God would be obligated to meet?
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
Correct me if i'm wrong, but weren't dietary laws ceremonial in nature...and not moral?


Some might argue that since clean and unclean animals were recognized that way before Moses was on the mount that we should observe dietary regulations today. Noah put a difference between the clean and the unclean.
I'm not convinced though. For now I'll still enjoy my bacon and shrimp.
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear Pergamum,

With all due respect, it appears to me you are interpreting the 1788 revisions to the Westminster Confession presupposing a post-Reconstruction legal paradigm inversely normative.

This is an incorrect understanding. The 1788 revisions were made to maintain unity in interstate relations with the Church existing in completely separate and independent States having federal union without any jurisdiction over religion. How do you maintain Presbyterian polity with the Church existing in independent and separate magistrates?

It wasn't a "widespread desire to purge the confession of it's theocratic elements," rather it was an ecclesiastical recognition of the several state's restoring Sovereignty to God. If anything it is a greater recognition of it's theocratic elements whereby the civil law is Constitutionally established upon a kingless English Common Law, speaking after the manner of men.

Hence, Lex Rex, came to a purer meaning exempted from man's meddling and the alterations of the Confession were made to enhance Biblical Authority flowing in and through Common Law.

Cordially,

Thomas
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
General equity means exactly what it sounds like. It has to do with the principles associated with the judicial laws. These particular laws were for a covenanted nation that no longer exists. Since God has chosen not the create a new covenant with any other nation like He did with Israel, no other nation is obliged to adhere to those laws. Sinclair Ferguson and Lig Duncan have given sufficient explanations but unfortunately many theonomists don't like them so they resort to the old "well the Standards can be viewed in a number of different ways so theonomy is an allowable interpretation". The Standards say what they say and they can't be massaged to fit a particular viewpoint no matter how hard one tries. I don't buy if from the FV's and I don't buy it from the theonomists.

That's fine. What are those principles, then?

An example would be that of liability or that of proportionality (punishment fits the crime so to speak).

I assume you are talking about the Solemn League and Covenant? I'm not up on 17th centrury English history, but I think that covenant was broken? Is England, Scotland and Ireland now under God's curse for breaking it?

It is hard to say they are under God's blessing right now. God does impose judicial sanctions in history.

Also, if I remember my old testament right it was God who initiated the covenant with Israel not the other way around. Since God established that covenant (as an administration of the Covenant of Grace with the last administration being the New Covenant) he obligated Israel to comply with the law and He would bless them.

Since God has not seen fit, as far as I know, to initiate a covenant with any other nation than Israel, what would be the stipulations of this new covenant between God and that nation that God would be obligated to meet?

While you might be on to something, keep in mind that the majority of Reformed and Puritanical thinking was covenantal. They might be wrong, but those who want covenants today are most assuredly in the Puritan line. Those who object are not Puritan/Reformed when it comes to social matters.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Also, if I remember my old testament right it was God who initiated the covenant with Israel not the other way around. Since God established that covenant (as an administration of the Covenant of Grace with the last administration being the New Covenant) he obligated Israel to comply with the law and He would bless them.

Since God has not seen fit, as far as I know, to initiate a covenant with any other nation than Israel, what would be the stipulations of this new covenant between God and that nation that God would be obligated to meet?

While you might be on to something, keep in mind that the majority of Reformed and Puritanical thinking was covenantal. They might be wrong, but those who want covenants today are most assuredly in the Puritan line. Those who object are not Puritan/Reformed when it comes to social matters.

Okay, you've lost me here!! You'll need to flesh this out a little more.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Also, if I remember my old testament right it was God who initiated the covenant with Israel not the other way around. Since God established that covenant (as an administration of the Covenant of Grace with the last administration being the New Covenant) he obligated Israel to comply with the law and He would bless them.

Since God has not seen fit, as far as I know, to initiate a covenant with any other nation than Israel, what would be the stipulations of this new covenant between God and that nation that God would be obligated to meet?

While you might be on to something, keep in mind that the majority of Reformed and Puritanical thinking was covenantal. They might be wrong, but those who want covenants today are most assuredly in the Puritan line. Those who object are not Puritan/Reformed when it comes to social matters.

Okay, you've lost me here!! You'll need to flesh this out a little more.

Well just look at Reformation Scotland. I have in mind Richard Cameron who, along with others, covenanted before God to kill Charles II. In fact, why were the Scottish Covenanters called "the covenanters?" Or the Mayflower Compact. They very boldly considered themselves in Covenant with God. In The Name of God, Amen thoroughly documents my point. I will demonstrate later tonight if necessary.
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
Okay. I'm following you know. To make sure I have this straight:

1. The US (as should all other countries) needs to establish a covenant with God and pattern it after the covenant God made with the nation of Israel or

2. is it that the US as well as other countries are already under the original covenant that God made with Israel.

If it is the first, what would we obligate God to do if we broke it (which no doubt we would just as Israel did as well as Scotland, Ireland and England and any other covenant nations have made with God, with some exceptions as noted)?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
For the record, I have never advocated that we ought to covenant with God as a nation. I was just pointing out that was a standard Reformed practice until the secularization of the american church. Theonomists as theonomists do not advocate covenanting. That is the National Confessionalist position.


Okay. I'm following you know. To make sure I have this straight:

1. The US (as should all other countries) needs to establish a covenant with God and pattern it after the covenant God made with the nation of Israel or

2. is it that the US as well as other countries are already under the original covenant that God made with Israel.

If it is the first, what would we obligate God to do if we broke it (which no doubt we would just as Israel did as well as Scotland, Ireland and England and any other covenant nations have made with God, with some exceptions as noted)?

Someone like Virginia Huguenot would be a better person to ask. But I will give it a shot:

I would probably say #1. If we look at the original writings, especially the Mayflower Compact, some could say that we are already under covenant with God. On the other hand, someone else would retort that Lincoln's war severed that covenant because since the South fell, Christendom fell.

But as I say, I am not a National Confessionalist. I don't know how they would answer.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
For the record, I have never advocated that we ought to covenant with God as a nation. I was just pointing out that was a standard Reformed practice until the secularization of the american church. Theonomists as theonomists do not advocate covenanting. That is the National Confessionalist position.


Okay. I'm following you know. To make sure I have this straight:

1. The US (as should all other countries) needs to establish a covenant with God and pattern it after the covenant God made with the nation of Israel or

2. is it that the US as well as other countries are already under the original covenant that God made with Israel.

If it is the first, what would we obligate God to do if we broke it (which no doubt we would just as Israel did as well as Scotland, Ireland and England and any other covenant nations have made with God, with some exceptions as noted)?

Someone like Virginia Huguenot would be a better person to ask. But I will give it a shot:

I would probably say #1. If we look at the original writings, especially the Mayflower Compact, some could say that we are already under covenant with God. On the other hand, someone else would retort that Lincoln's war severed that covenant because since the South fell, Christendom fell.

But as I say, I am not a National Confessionalist. I don't know how they would answer.

Dan Ford deals with this in his book, "In The Name of God, Amen" available here: http://www.visionforum.com/booksandmedia/productdetail.aspx?productid=91445&categoryid=155
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

If "further than the general equity thereof may require" means all of the judicial laws are still binding today, then what does "not obliging under any now" mean? :scratch:
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

If "further than the general equity thereof may require" means all of the judicial laws are still binding today, then what does "not obliging under any now" mean? :scratch:

It means, among other things, that we don't need to establish cities of refuge.
 

CDM

Puritan Board Junior
Brian Schwertley has just given a lecture in defence of Biblical civil law:

SermonAudio.com - Objections to Judicial Law :popcorn::gillespie:

Have you listened to the whole series?

Daniel,
Do you belive Mr. Schwertley is a Theonomist ?

He is a Theonomist, but is unhappy with things in the Theonomy movement. I think he goes a bit far in his criticism of the movement (the same things could be said of Protestantism, Presbyterianism, and Calvinism). :2cents:

You say he is a Theonomist. I have always thought that too - especially when his old page says he was a Theonomist & Post-Mil etc.

Yet, in this same series the thread is about, specifically Schwertley's part 5, starting in second 24 he says,

I have been accused by people of having an unbiblical view of natural law and being a Theonomist and all sorts of things and so I wanted to clarify my views, clarify the views of the reformation, and show that certain people are taking natural law and their going in a direction with it that was never intended by the Reformers, was never part of the WCF, and is quackadox - it is unorthodox.

Later on, Schwertley goes further, during minutes 26 through 28, and calls out a member (and others) in the PRC (the denomination I am a part of). He is commenting on Schaff's History of the Christian Church Volume 8 where Schaff is describing Calvin's view which Schwertley says he agrees with. After reading this portion, Schwertley says:

"So, it is quite obvious Calvin did not hold to the Natural Law Antinomianism of Greg Durand and some in the PRC denomination...the Presbyterian Reformed Church"

:um:
 

wsw201

Puritan Board Senior
For the record, I have never advocated that we ought to covenant with God as a nation. I was just pointing out that was a standard Reformed practice until the secularization of the american church. Theonomists as theonomists do not advocate covenanting. That is the National Confessionalist position.


Okay. I'm following you know. To make sure I have this straight:

1. The US (as should all other countries) needs to establish a covenant with God and pattern it after the covenant God made with the nation of Israel or

2. is it that the US as well as other countries are already under the original covenant that God made with Israel.

If it is the first, what would we obligate God to do if we broke it (which no doubt we would just as Israel did as well as Scotland, Ireland and England and any other covenant nations have made with God, with some exceptions as noted)?

Someone like Virginia Huguenot would be a better person to ask. But I will give it a shot:

I would probably say #1. If we look at the original writings, especially the Mayflower Compact, some could say that we are already under covenant with God. On the other hand, someone else would retort that Lincoln's war severed that covenant because since the South fell, Christendom fell.

But as I say, I am not a National Confessionalist. I don't know how they would answer.

Dan Ford deals with this in his book, "In The Name of God, Amen" available here: In the Name of God, Amen

I don't have this book so could you give the readers digest version of how he handles this?
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

If "further than the general equity thereof may require" means all of the judicial laws are still binding today, then what does "not obliging under any now" mean? :scratch:

It means, among other things, that we don't need to establish cities of refuge.

So the 'general equity' that is allowed refers to judicial laws and that which is 'not obliging now' refers to the ceremonial laws? If that were the case, why didn't the Divines just say so? If this is what their words mean they seem to be unnecessarily vague.
 

Croghanite

Puritan Board Sophomore
Brian Schwertley has just given a lecture in defence of Biblical civil law:

SermonAudio.com - Objections to Judicial Law :popcorn::gillespie:

Have you listened to the whole series?

He is a Theonomist, but is unhappy with things in the Theonomy movement. I think he goes a bit far in his criticism of the movement (the same things could be said of Protestantism, Presbyterianism, and Calvinism). :2cents:

You say he is a Theonomist. I have always thought that too - especially when his old page says he was a Theonomist & Post-Mil etc.

Yet, in this same series the thread is about, specifically Schwertley's part 5, starting in second 24 he says,

I have been accused by people of having an unbiblical view of natural law and being a Theonomist and all sorts of things and so I wanted to clarify my views, clarify the views of the reformation, and show that certain people are taking natural law and their going in a direction with it that was never intended by the Reformers, was never part of the WCF, and is quackadox - it is unorthodox.

Later on, Schwertley goes further, during minutes 26 through 28, and calls out a member (and others) in the PRC (the denomination I am a part of). He is commenting on Schaff's History of the Christian Church Volume 8 where Schaff is describing Calvin's view which Schwertley says he agrees with. After reading this portion, Schwertley says:

"So, it is quite obvious Calvin did not hold to the Natural Law Antinomianism of Greg Durand and some in the PRC denomination...the Presbyterian Reformed Church"

:um:

Maybe he changed his position between part 1 and 5. Seriously, It makes you wonder why he would post that he is a Theonomist on his website and then deny Theonomy in a sermon. :scratch:

I dont know of anyone who holds to Natural Law Antinomianism in the PRC. Thats a hefty charge to be giving out.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
For the record, I have never advocated that we ought to covenant with God as a nation. I was just pointing out that was a standard Reformed practice until the secularization of the american church. Theonomists as theonomists do not advocate covenanting. That is the National Confessionalist position.




Someone like Virginia Huguenot would be a better person to ask. But I will give it a shot:

I would probably say #1. If we look at the original writings, especially the Mayflower Compact, some could say that we are already under covenant with God. On the other hand, someone else would retort that Lincoln's war severed that covenant because since the South fell, Christendom fell.

But as I say, I am not a National Confessionalist. I don't know how they would answer.

Dan Ford deals with this in his book, "In The Name of God, Amen" available here: In the Name of God, Amen

I don't have this book so could you give the readers digest version of how he handles this?

He has about 300 pages showing that the Reformers, Puritans, and early Americans believed in covenanting with God. I meant to get to it last night. I will try again tonight. He doesn't really deal with the theology of it, leaving the readers to draw their conclusions. However, he does show it was standard practice.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Does the controversy over whether the WCF allows for theonomy the reason that Morecraft is not a part of the PCA or the OPC? He subscribes to the WCF and is a strong theonomist. (At least from the sermons I have listened to) Is his view of theonomy more than the mainline Presbyterian denoms can handle?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Does the controversy over whether the WCF allows for theonomy the reason that Morecraft is not a part of the PCA or the OPC? He subscribes to the WCF and is a strong theonomist. (At least from the sermons I have listened to) Is his view of theonomy more than the mainline Presbyterian denoms can handle?

Morecraft required his deacons/elders to be theonomists, among other things. I think he went too far on that one. But yes, Morecraft is more than most mainline Presbyterians can handle.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Does the controversy over whether the WCF allows for theonomy the reason that Morecraft is not a part of the PCA or the OPC? He subscribes to the WCF and is a strong theonomist. (At least from the sermons I have listened to) Is his view of theonomy more than the mainline Presbyterian denoms can handle?

Morecraft required his deacons/elders to be theonomists, among other things.

If true there doesn't seem to be anything about this on their website. All it says is that elders and deacons must subscribe to the WCF.

Members do not have to adhere to all the teachings in the Westminster Standards. Like the Bible, we make a distinction between those who are Christians who must only make a credible profession of faith and promise to live as "becometh the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ" in order to be a member of the church and the spiritual leaders of the church, the Pastors, Elders, and Deacons. These I Tim. 3 tells us must be "sound in the faith" and must, therefore hold to all the doctrines taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith which we believe to be the very teaching of the Bible.

So, my question is, do theonomists (like Morecraft) believe that the WCF demands a theonomic interpretation? Or do they simply argue that a theonomic interpretation is allowed?

BTW, I love listening to Morecraft preach.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Does the controversy over whether the WCF allows for theonomy the reason that Morecraft is not a part of the PCA or the OPC? He subscribes to the WCF and is a strong theonomist. (At least from the sermons I have listened to) Is his view of theonomy more than the mainline Presbyterian denoms can handle?

Morecraft required his deacons/elders to be theonomists, among other things.

If true there doesn't seem to be anything about this on their website. All it says is that elders and deacons must subscribe to the WCF.

Members do not have to adhere to all the teachings in the Westminster Standards. Like the Bible, we make a distinction between those who are Christians who must only make a credible profession of faith and promise to live as "becometh the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ" in order to be a member of the church and the spiritual leaders of the church, the Pastors, Elders, and Deacons. These I Tim. 3 tells us must be "sound in the faith" and must, therefore hold to all the doctrines taught in the Westminster Confession of Faith which we believe to be the very teaching of the Bible.

So, my question is, do theonomists (like Morecraft) believe that the WCF demands a theonomic interpretation? Or do they simply argue that a theonomic interpretation is allowed?

BTW, I love listening to Morecraft preach.

Morecraft probably believes it demands it. I think it merely allows it. Whatever it does, it does not allow modern pluralistic notions of general equity to be read back into it. It also does not allow dispensational notions (often seen in the Reformed world) to be read back into it.
 

larryjf

Puritan Board Senior
If "further than the general equity thereof may require" means all of the judicial laws are still binding today, then what does "not obliging under any now" mean? :scratch:

It means, among other things, that we don't need to establish cities of refuge.

So the 'general equity' that is allowed refers to judicial laws and that which is 'not obliging now' refers to the ceremonial laws? If that were the case, why didn't the Divines just say so? If this is what their words mean they seem to be unnecessarily vague.

The cities of refuge are not ceremonial laws, they are civil/judicial laws.

Other laws, like putting a fence on your roof, are not literally in force, but the intent of the application is still in force. So that instead of putting a fence around our roof, we follow the same intent of application by putting a fence around our pool.
 

Thomas2007

Puritan Board Sophomore
Dear KMK,

You asked:

IV. To them also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging under any now, further than the general equity thereof may require.

If "further than the general equity thereof may require" means all of the judicial laws are still binding today, then what does "not obliging under any now" mean? :scratch:

One of the keys of interpreting matters such as this is to learn the history and circumstances in which they were written and attempt to understand them in the cultural context they came to light.

As such the medieval social consensus was a Christian consensus, the Reformation was not working toward a humanistic secular State. I'm sure you understand that, as it is self evident, but it is important to state it. If this is interpreted to mean a "non-binding general equity," which is how it is interpreted by many, then on what basis was King Charles I deposed and put to death just a few years later? They certainly did make it obligatory unto him!

Since then, we have nearly 300 years of autonomous humanistic thinking that we have to deal with, that are present in our presuppositions whether we know it or not because of the cultural context in which we live. We must keep in mind the vision of the Magisterial Reformation as bringing to unity all of life under Christ the King, wherein every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, as Scripture prophecies.

I believe these statements must be understood consistent with the expansive scope of the Covenant as an international law order pursuant to the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20)

We are sent forth unto all the nations to conquer the heart of men, not the State, by means of the Gospel, not the law; yet the law is true, and perfect and holy and provides us with the principles of eternal Justice to teach men how to obey God. If God's law has no sanctions then God has no law, as all law is negative proscribing behavior and assigning a sanction for its violation, in so doing it prescribes the opposite behavior; not belief. Otherwise the blessing and cursings of the Covenant are no longer valid as well, as those who argue for an estoppel by deed must concede.

Hence, the general equity of the law being advanced by means of the Gospel is an equitable estoppel (not obliging under [other body politics]) of the penal sanctions until a body politic willing receives the public confession of faith of God's Law. (Exodus 20:2) An equitable estoppel is an estoppel in pais, or by conduct, not by law. That is to say that Christ is not imposing His Kingdom by force of law, but by Grace through preaching of the Gospel. His conduct is an estoppel in pais of the penal sanctions and are not imposed upon men unwilling to accept them, but adopted by men who have accepted Christ as King, as the law of their King, once He conquers the heart by the Holy Ghost.

Those that argue "not obliging under any now" means that the New Testament is an estoppel by deed must necessarily become antinomian. Is "further than the general equity thereof my require," a fuzzy principle whereby we can't know what is Just or what is not Just, or is it circumstantial and conditional upon the redeeming work of Christ? I believe the latter because Scripture teaches us that God doesn't change and that Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever.

Consider Biblical Law for a moment, the center of social life is the family. God proscribes behavior that is treason against the family and provides sanctions to that degree. In humanistic law orders the center of social life is the State and the State proscribes behavior that is treason against the State and provides sanctions to that degree. While men interpret Biblical Law as being unconscionable with death penalties for that which strikes at the heart of the family, Biblical Law doesn't teach treason against the State.

The intent of the law unto Israel, and unto us, is that man would find his life in the Triune God, not the body politic of either Church or State, but that both would provide man the means to live towards those ends, providing truth in both the ministry of Grace and Justice.

The Scripture requires that we carry forth our personal profession and work toward it's establishment as public confession teaching the nations to obey whatsoever God has commanded. The key word is teaching, not imposing, otherwise we are left to live dialectical lives advancing our faith as nothing more than moralism but never being able to live in terms of it to fulfill our chief end.

Cordially,

Thomas
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
Correct me if i'm wrong, but weren't dietary laws ceremonial in nature...and not moral?


Some might argue that since clean and unclean animals were recognized that way before Moses was on the mount that we should observe dietary regulations today. Noah put a difference between the clean and the unclean.
I'm not convinced though. For now I'll still enjoy my bacon and shrimp.

As will I... but it was God, not Noah, who put the difference between clean and
unclean (which he did BEFORE the flood).

Nevertheless, when the distinction between clean and unclean was made isn't relevant - whether or not it's a pre-Mosaic distinction, the clean/unclean separation was made for the purpose of blood sacrifice
- which is completed - and thus as a law it is fulfilled in full. Furthermore, the distinction was explicitly
disposed of by God by revelation to Peter - so enjoy your shrimp & bacon & your cheeseburgers.
 

toddpedlar

Iron Dramatist
If "further than the general equity thereof may require" means all of the judicial laws are still binding today, then what does "not obliging under any now" mean? :scratch:

It means, among other things, that we don't need to establish cities of refuge.

So the 'general equity' that is allowed refers to judicial laws and that which is 'not obliging now' refers to the ceremonial laws? If that were the case, why didn't the Divines just say so? If this is what their words mean they seem to be unnecessarily vague.

Ken -

I'm confused about your remarks above. I don't see Larry saying that ceremonial laws alone are under the
'not obliging now' phrase. Simply put, the 'general equity' article intends that the judicial system of Israel
contains general principles which are clearly to be seen in the judicial laws laid down - and these we are
obligated to uphold in our laws. As Larry said, this means for one that we do not need to establish cities
of refuge. Neither is stoning the only permissible form of capital punishment. Neither are we required to
construct barriers on the edges of our roofs so that people don't hurt themselves (but therein is a principle
of one's liability for injury done to someone else through negligent care of our property) Another principle
respecting 'general equity' that the Law teaches (and should be returned to our laws) is the principle of
restitution.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the revision, with all due respect this is utter nonsense. Downright Clintonesque with the spinning in this post. One need not engage with Romanist apologists to see jesuitry in action. No wonder most FVers came from the ranks of theonomists with this kind of reasoning and revisionism.

Dear Pergamum,

With all due respect, it appears to me you are interpreting the 1788 revisions to the Westminster Confession presupposing a post-Reconstruction legal paradigm inversely normative.

This is an incorrect understanding. The 1788 revisions were made to maintain unity in interstate relations with the Church existing in completely separate and independent States having federal union without any jurisdiction over religion. How do you maintain Presbyterian polity with the Church existing in independent and separate magistrates?

It wasn't a "widespread desire to purge the confession of it's theocratic elements," rather it was an ecclesiastical recognition of the several state's restoring Sovereignty to God. If anything it is a greater recognition of it's theocratic elements whereby the civil law is Constitutionally established upon a kingless English Common Law, speaking after the manner of men.

Hence, Lex Rex, came to a purer meaning exempted from man's meddling and the alterations of the Confession were made to enhance Biblical Authority flowing in and through Common Law.

Cordially,

Thomas
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
As for the term "expired" in WCF 19:4 it is self-evident from the context that it refers to aspects of the judicial law that were circumstantial to Israel (i.e. cities of refugee in the land of Canaan), in distinction from what is of general equity - i.e. justice righteousness. Tell me, was it just to execute idolaters, adulteres etc in Israel? If so, why would it be unjust to carry out this penalty one-yard over the border in a gentile nation?

It would not necessarily be unjust. I don't hold to "intrusion ethics" and I doubt Wayne or Pergamum do either. The crux of the issue is, MUST the state execute idolaters, and MUST the state enact the judicial law in exhaustive detail. in my opinion Isbell and Duncan haven't been answered by the recons on this.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
That's fine. What are those principles, then?

An example would be that of liability or that of proportionality (punishment fits the crime so to speak).



It is hard to say they are under God's blessing right now. God does impose judicial sanctions in history.

Also, if I remember my old testament right it was God who initiated the covenant with Israel not the other way around. Since God established that covenant (as an administration of the Covenant of Grace with the last administration being the New Covenant) he obligated Israel to comply with the law and He would bless them.

Since God has not seen fit, as far as I know, to initiate a covenant with any other nation than Israel, what would be the stipulations of this new covenant between God and that nation that God would be obligated to meet?

While you might be on to something, keep in mind that the majority of Reformed and Puritanical thinking was covenantal. They might be wrong, but those who want covenants today are most assuredly in the Puritan line. Those who object are not Puritan/Reformed when it comes to social matters.

While this is something to keep in mind this is also an example of the genetic fallacy.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
An example would be that of liability or that of proportionality (punishment fits the crime so to speak).



It is hard to say they are under God's blessing right now. God does impose judicial sanctions in history.



While you might be on to something, keep in mind that the majority of Reformed and Puritanical thinking was covenantal. They might be wrong, but those who want covenants today are most assuredly in the Puritan line. Those who object are not Puritan/Reformed when it comes to social matters.

While this is something to keep in mind this is also an example of the genetic fallacy.

Only if I said their position is "wrong" because of from whom they originate. I didn't say that. In fact, I freely granted to Wayne that he may be right. My point was that Wayne had actually criticized Reformers and Puritans when he made his criticism against covenanting.

Then I pointed to what I thought an obvious and not really controversial point: there are socio differences between late Americans and early Puritans. Meredith Kline critiqued Bahnsen for being too Puritan.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
As for the term "expired" in WCF 19:4 it is self-evident from the context that it refers to aspects of the judicial law that were circumstantial to Israel (i.e. cities of refugee in the land of Canaan), in distinction from what is of general equity - i.e. justice righteousness. Tell me, was it just to execute idolaters, adulteres etc in Israel? If so, why would it be unjust to carry out this penalty one-yard over the border in a gentile nation?

It would not necessarily be unjust. I don't hold to "intrusion ethics" and I doubt Wayne or Pergamum do either. The crux of the issue is, MUST the state execute idolaters, and MUST the state enact the judicial law in exhaustive detail. in my opinion Isbell and Duncan haven't been answered by the recons on this.

Bahnsen held to a premise that both Recons and his critics don't really bring to attention. It has been a while since I have read By This Standard, but Bahnsen, If I recall correctly, did not merely say "the judicial law in exhaustive detail." He said whatever has not been modified by the New Testament is still binding while allowing for different cultural applications.

But back to your point: there is no exegetical demonstrating warranting the distinction between crimes against God and crimes against man, assuming that the death penalty is only valid to the former.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
It means, among other things, that we don't need to establish cities of refuge.

So the 'general equity' that is allowed refers to judicial laws and that which is 'not obliging now' refers to the ceremonial laws? If that were the case, why didn't the Divines just say so? If this is what their words mean they seem to be unnecessarily vague.

Ken -

I'm confused about your remarks above. I don't see Larry saying that ceremonial laws alone are under the
'not obliging now' phrase. Simply put, the 'general equity' article intends that the judicial system of Israel
contains general principles which are clearly to be seen in the judicial laws laid down - and these we are
obligated to uphold in our laws. As Larry said, this means for one that we do not need to establish cities
of refuge. Neither is stoning the only permissible form of capital punishment. Neither are we required to
construct barriers on the edges of our roofs so that people don't hurt themselves (but therein is a principle
of one's liability for injury done to someone else through negligent care of our property) Another principle
respecting 'general equity' that the Law teaches (and should be returned to our laws) is the principle of
restitution.

I do not disagree with Larry. In fact, I lean theonomic. But I am wary of making the words 'general equity' mean so much that the words 'not obliging now' mean nothing.
 
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