The Decalogue and the Civil Magistrate

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Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm interested in hearing about people's views on the civil magistrate's biblical obligation/role (or lack thereof) to enforce the Decalogue, or the moral law. I am not interested in making this thread a set of arguments for (or against) theonomy, as that is really a separate issue. Thus, I'm especially interested in hearing which view non-theonomists hold with respect to the magistrate's enforcement of the moral law, and why you biblically and confessionally hold to that view.

(The reason I have not listed sole enforcement of the first table without the second is that I have never heard anyone espouse that view.)
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
30+ views and no votes or posts...I'll bite.

Believe it or not, I was the other person to vote yes at this point. Why? It is in the confessions, the reformers, the puritans etc. I've jokingly told people in private that we have another change in historic Reformed Doctrine:
N.P.P. = New Perspective in Politics

I know there is a long list below and I'm still working on underlining the relevent points, but it would be worthwhile to print it out and read through it. It sounds so foreign to our ears in this day and age.

W.C.F. Chapter 23:3 [Of the Civil Magistrate. ]
" The Civil Magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he hath authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed."


[Second Helvetic Confession on magistrates].
" In like manner, let him govern the people, committed to him of God, with good laws, made according to the word of God in his hands, and look that nothing be taught contrary thereto. ... Therefore let him draw forth this sword of God against all malefactors, seditious persons, thieves, murderers, oppressors, blasphemers, perjured persons, and all those whom God has commanded him to punish or even to execute. Let him suppress stubborn heretics (who are heretics indeed), who cease not to blaspheme the majesty of God, and to trouble the Church, yea, and finally to destroy it."


The Scots Confession "“ John Knox
Chapter 24 - The Civil Magistrate
We confess and acknowledge that empires, kingdoms, dominions, and cities are appointed and ordained by God; the powers and authorities in them, emperors in empires, kings in their realms, dukes and princes in their dominions, and magistrates in cities, are ordained by God's holy ordinance for the manifestation of his own glory and for the good and well being of all men. We hold that any men who conspire to rebel or to overturn the civil powers, as duly established, are not merely enemies to humanity but rebels against God's will. Further, we confess and acknowledge that such persons as are set in authority are to be loved, honored, feared, and held in the highest respect, because they are the lieutenants of God, and in their councils God himself doth sit and judge. They are the judges and princes to whom God has given the sword for the praise and defense of good men and the punishment of all open evil doers. Moreover, we state the preservation and purification of religion is particularly the duty of kings, princes, rulers, and magistrates. They are not only appointed for civil government but also to maintain true religion and to suppress all idolatry and superstition. This may be seen in David, Jehosaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others highly commended for their zeal in that cause.


The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article XXXVI
The Magistracy (Civil Government)
We believe that our gracious God, because of the depravity of mankind, has appointed kings, princes, and magistrates; willing that the world should be governed by certain laws and policies; to the end that the dissoluteness of men might be restrained, and all things carried on among them with good order and decency. For this purpose He has invested the magistracy with the sword for the punishment of evil-doers and for the protection of them that do well.
Their office is not only to have regard unto and watch for the welfare of the civil state, but also to protect the sacred ministry, that the kingdom of Christ may thus be promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by every one, as He commands in His Word.


The French Confession - John Calvin
XXXIX. We believe that God wishes to have the world governed by laws and magistrates,[1] so that some restraint may be put upon its disordered appetites. And as he has established kingdoms, republics, and all sorts of principalities, either hereditary or otherwise, and all that belongs to a just government, and wishes to be considered as their Author, so he has put the sword into the hands of magistrates to suppress crimes against the first as well as against the second table of the Commandments of God. We must therefore, on his account, not only submit to them as superiors,[2] but honor and hold them in all reverence as his lieutenants and officers, whom he has commissioned to exercise a legitimate and holy authority.

1. Exod. 18:20-21; Matt. 17:24-27; Rom. ch. 13
2. I Peter 2:13-14; I Tim. 2:2


John Calvin 1509-1564
But this was sayde to the people of olde time. Yea, and God's honour must not be diminished by us at this day: the reasons that I have alleadged alreadie doe serve as well for us as for them. Then lette us not thinke that this lawe is a speciall lawe for the Jewes; but let us understand that God intended to deliver to us a generall rule, to which we must tye ourselves...Sith it is so, it is to be concluded, not onely that is lawefull for all kinges and magistrates, to punish heretikes and such as have perverted the pure trueth; but also that they be bounde to doe it, and that they misbehave themselves towardes God, if they suffer errours to roust without redresse, and employ not their whole power to shewe a greater zeale in that behalfe than in all other things.

Calvin, Sermons upon Deuteronomie, p. 541-542

[Deut 13:6-10].
" Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt. This is not laid down on human authority; it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for his Church. It is not in vain that he commands paternal love and all the benevolent feelings between brothers, relations, and friends to cease; in a word, that he almost deprives men of their nature in order that nothing may hinder their holy zeal. Why is so implacable a severity exacted but that we may know that God is defrauded of his honour, unless the piety that is due to him be preferred to all human duties, and that when his glory is to be asserted, humanity must be almost obliterated from our memories."

Quoted in P.Schaff; History of the Christian Church vol 8 :791f.(Eerdmans 1981). The context is the defence of the execution of Servetus

on Psalm 2
...without a doubt he is speaking of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus. He admonishes all kings and authorities to be wise and to take heed to themselves. What is this wisdom? What is the lesson He gives them? To abdicate it all? Hardly! But to fear God and give homage to His Son...Furthermore, Isaiah prophesies that the kings will become the foster fathers of the Christian church and that queens will nurse it with their breasts (Isa. 49:23). I beg of you, how do you reconcile the fact that kings will be protectors of the Christian Church if their vocation is inconsistent with Christianity?

Calvin, Treatises Against the Anabaptists and Libertines, p. 79
Martin Bucer 1491-1551
[Penal sanctions].
" But since no one can describe an approach more equitable and wholesome to the commonwealth than that which God describes in his law, it is certainly the duty of all kings and princes who recognize that God has put them over his people that they follow most studiously his own method of punishing evildoers. For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely, in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they described, nevertheless, insofar as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is certainly not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation.
Accordingly, in every state sanctified to God capital punishment must be ordered for all who have dared to injure religion, either by introducing a false and impious doctrine about the worship of God or by calling people away from the true worship of God (Deut 13:6-10 and 17:2-5); for all who blaspheme the name of God and his solemn services (Lev.24:15-16); who violate the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14-15, and 35:2; Num. 15: 32-36); who rebelliously despise the authority of parents and live their own life wickedly (Deut.21:18-21); who are unwilling to submit to the sentence of a supreme tribunal (Deut.17: 8-12); who have committed bloodshed (Ex.21:12; Lev. 24:17; Deut. 19:11-13), adultery (Lev. 20:10), rape (Deut.22:20-25), kidnapping (Deut. 24:7); who have given false testimony in a capital case (Deut. 19:16-21)."

" The Fourteenth Law: The Modification of Penalties" in Pauck ibid. pp.378-9
Theodore Beza
The duty of the civil authority in this matter is hedged about by these three regulations: (1) It must strictly confine itself to its own sphere, and not presume to define heresy; that belongs to the church alone. (2) It must not pass judgment with regard to persons, advantages, and circumstances but with pure regard to the honor of God. (3) It must proceed after quiet, regular examination of the heresy and mature consideration of all the circumstances, and inflict such punishment as will best secure the honor due to the divine majesty and the peace and unity of the church

Beza, De Hereticis, quoted in Schaff, History, p. 798

Let this be the conclusion of this argument: those who would bar the Christian magistracy from the care of religion and especially from the punishments of heretics, condemn the plain word of God, reject the authority of the ages, and as a consequence seek the total destruction and extermination of the church.

Beza, De Hereticis, quoted in Verduin, Stepchildren, p. 57

But what , then, is the relevance of this long discussion of the duty of kings and magistrates to maintain religion for deciding whether they may be forcibly resisted if they persecute it? I reply that it is one thing to introduce religion in a country, another to preserve it once it is established or to restore it when it has been buried, as it were, under the connivance, ignorance, and wickedness of men. I hold, then, that religion is planted and increased by the Spirit of God alone, through the Word, which is ordained for teaching, encouraging, and exhorting, since this is the special activity of the Holy Spirit, which works by spiritual means. The duty of a prince who would convert his subjects from idolatry or superstition to true religion is to see that they are given good and lively instruction, while the duty of subjects, correspondingly, is to yield to reason and to truth. The prince, finally, should provide and enforce good edicts against those who, from pure stubborness, would resist establishment of the true religion, as has been done in our time in England, Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, and in a large part of Germany and of Switzerland, against Papists, Anabaptists, and other heretics. And if, instead of believing in the bloodstained whore of Rome, other nations had done likewise, there would be peace not only in religion but in all other public matters, too.

Beza, Right of Magistrates as found in Constitutionalism and Resistance in the Sixteenth Century Translated and edited by Julian H. Franklin, p. 134
John Knox 1514-1572
[A petition " to the Quenis Majestie, and Hir most Honourable Privey Counsall etc."].
" The secound that we requyre, is punishment of horrible vices, sic as ar adultery, fornicatioun, open hurdome, blasphemye, contempt of God, of his Word, and Sacramentis; quhilkis in this Realme, for lack of punishement, do evin now so abound, that syne is reputed to be no syne. And thairfoir, as that we see the present signes of Goddis wrath now manifestlie appear, so do we foirwarne, that he will stryck, or it be long, yf his law without punishement be permitted thus manifestlie to be contempned. Yf any object, that punishementis can nott be commanded to be executed without a parliament; We answer that the eternall God in his Parliament has pronounced death to be the punishment for adulterye and for blasphemye; whose actis yf ye putt not to executioun, (seeing that Kingis ar but his lieutennentis, having no power to geve lyefe, whair he commandis death,) as that he will reputt you, and all otheris that foster vice, patronis of impietie, so will he nott faill to punishe you for neglecting of his judgements."

works of John Knox; collected and Edited by David Laing. vol.2 (Edin.1864) pp.339-340.

[Idolatrie of Queen Mary; capital punishment].
'" What ye may," said the uther,[Knox] "be force, I disput nocht; bot what ye may and aucht to do be Godis express commandiment, that I can tell. Idolatrie aucht nocht [only] to be suppressit, but the idolater aucht to dey the deith, unless that we will accuse God."" I knaw," said Lethingtoun," the idolater is commandit to dey the deith; but be whome?" "Be the peopill of God," said the uther;" for the commandiment wes gevin to Israeli, as ye may reid, 'Heir, Israeli,'sayis the Lorde, 'the statutis and the ordinancis of the Lord thy God,' &c. Yea, ane [commandement] wes gevin, That gif it be heard that idolatrie is committit in onie ane cytie, inquisitioune sal be taikin; and gif it be founde trew, that than the whole bodie of the peopill sail aryse and destroy that cytie, spairing in it nether man, woman, nor chylde."

ibid., p. 441. note that both Lethington and Knox are agreed on the continuing relevance of the punishment for idolatry, the only question is who should carry out the punishment when the idolater is
the Queen of that nation.


It is evident, that principallie it apperteineth to the King, or to the Chief Magistrate, to knowe the will of God, to be instructed in his Lawe and Statutes, and to promote his glorie with his hole hart and studie, which be the chief pointed of the First Table. No man denieth, but that the sworde is committed to the Magistrate, to the end that he shulde punishe vice and meinteine vertue. To punishe vice, I say; not onelie that whiche troubeleth the tranquilitie and quiet estat of the common welth, by adulterie, theft, or murther committed, but also suche vices as openly impugne the glorie of God, as idolatrie, blasphemie, and manifest heresie, taught and obstinatly meinteined, as the histories and notable actes of Ezechias, Josaphat, and Josias do plainlie teach us,...

John Knox, The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, 6 vols. (Edinburgh: James Thin, 1895), 4:398
Johannes Wollebius - 1586-1629
(4) Such is the government of the church. We come now to civil authority, by which the church is subject to the magistrate.

Propositions

I. The magistrates are protectors [nutritii] of the church, in that they enforce both tablets of the law, protect [conservere] churches and schools, and defend the truth.

Wollebius: Compendium Theologiae Christianae as found in Reformed Dogmatics edited by John W. Beardslee p. 148

Calling of councils
I. The calling of a council is the privilege of the magistrate, if he is a believer; if he is an unbeliever, either it must be obtained by a petition, or, if he is actively hostile to a council, then as a matter of necessity it must be held with the general consensus of the church.
II. The persons who ought to be present at a council are civil and ecclesiastical presidents, clerks, suitable men chosen for the purpose...
VII. The duty of the civil president is to convene the council, to defend it after it has gathered, to prevent all violence and disorder, to promulgate the regularly adopted decrees by his authority, and to use force against those who are unwilling [to comply].

ibid. p. 149

Chapter IV: The Works Connected with the Second, Third, and Fourth Commandments in General
V. Religion ought to be the concern of everybody, but especially of magistrates and ministers.
The former are indeed the guardians of the church. They are responsible, therefore, for the maintenance of churches and schools, the support of ministers, and so on.
VIII. Religion is not to be forced [upon people] but taught.
IX. Religion is not to be spread by arms, but nevertheless it is to be defended by them.
Examples are pious kings, like the Maccabees, and emperors, especially Constatine the Great and Theodosius the Great.
X. If any abuse enters religion, it is to be reformed by the prince or magistrate.
Examples are Moses, Joshua, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, Constatine the Great, Theodosisus, etc.

ibid. 201-202

Chapter VII: The Duties Connected with the Fourth Commandment
XIV. The sanctification of the sabbath is the duty of everyone, but especially of magistrates and pastors.
The magistrate should give heed to Nehemiah's example, lest the sabbath be persistently violated (Neh. 13:15ff.). It is also his duty to moderate the strict obersavation of this day when necessity requires, in order that considerations of love may also be effective. Examples were given by the Maccabees (I Macc. 2:41), and Constantine the Great, who permitted farm labor whenever weighty necessity required it.

ibid. 223
Francis Turretin - 1623-87)

Thirty-Fourth Question: The Political Government of the Church
What is the right of the Christian magistrate about sacred things, and does the care and recognition of religion belong in any way to him? We affirm


I. After having treated of the ecclesiastical government of the church, we must add something about the political. Concerning this, a grave question is moved in the examination and decision of which it is sinned in different ways, in excess as well as defect.

II. They sin in excess who claim all ecclesiastical power for the magistrate; who oppressed by the liberty of the ministry, deliver the thurible into the hand of Uzziah and think that no power belongs to pastors except what is derived from the magistrate.

They sin in defect who remove him from all care of ecclesiastical things so that he does not care what each one worships and allows free power to anyone of doing and saying whatever he wishes in the cause of religion Or who, although they ascribe to him the care of nourishing and defending the church, so that he may kindly cherish and pwerfully defend it, still leave nothing of recognition and nothing of judgment concerning religion save the execution alone to him. They rest upon this foundation - that this knowledge and judgment about matters of faith is proper to the ecclesiastical order, whose decrees the magistrate is bound to respect and perform. This is the opinion of the Romanists, which Bllarmine sets forth.

III. The orthodox (holding the mean between these two extremes) maintain that the pious and believing magistrate cannot and ought not to be excluded from all care of religion and sacred things, which has been enjoined upon him by God. Rather this right should be circumscribed within certain limits that the duties of the ecclesiastical and political order be not confounded, but the due parts be left to each. this we embrace in two propositions.

IV. First proposition. "A multiple right concerning sacred things belongs to the magistrate." It is proved (1) from the divine command. To him was committed the custody of the divine law; on this account he ought to care for the piety and worship of God, which is commanded by the first, no less than for justice and love, which is commanded by the second table: "And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes" (Deut. 17:18,19)

Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol.III, pgs. 316-317

XI. Although Christ did not commit his church to Tiberius, but to Peter, still he did not exclude princes from the care of religion (he called them nursing fathers); nor did he who said "Kiss the Son" repel kings as such. The ministry of the word is committed to pastors; but the care of the state no less to the magistrate; in which state if the church exists, why should not the pious magistrate as such both afford entertainment to the church and keep off the wolves, who in the name of pastors lay waste the flock? Otherwise, by the same argument, I shall have denied that the defense of religion belongs to the magistrate because he gave no commands about religion to Tiberius.

ibid. 319

XIV. Affirmatively there are many things which belong to the magistrate in reference to sacred things.
(1) He ought to establish the sacred doctrine and the pure worship of God in the state according to the prescription of the divine word; faithfully to conserve it when established or even to restore and reform it when declining, as is evident from the passages already quoted concerning Asa, Jehoshaphat, Josiah, Joash, Hezekiah. Hence the design of pious princes and Christian magistrates must be praised, according to which they lent a helping hand to the Reformation (which was in vain expected from the Roman court) and used all their endeavors to cherish and sustain it.
(2) He ought to protect the church according to his ability, to restrain heretics and disturbers of ecclesiastical peace, to promote the glory of God, to defend and propagate the true religion and to hinder the confusion of religions.
(3)-(6) my fingers are getting tired...there are more good things he says - CR.

XV. Ecclesiastical power is either internal, direct and formal, occupied with the administration and exercise of sacred things (such as the preaching of the word, the administration of the sacraments and the dispensation of the keys); or extrinsic, indirect and only objective (such as concerned with sacred things, as to procurement and disposition, that all things be done decently and in order in the house of God). The first belongs to pastors alone, to whom he has committed his church and given the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the latter belongs to Christian magistrates and princes, inasmuch as they ought to be the guardians of both tables; as in a well-regulated family the father disposes and arranges all things, the execution and
performance of which belongs to the domestics.

ibid. 320-321

From pages 327-336 Turretin deals with heretics and especially the Servetus affair. It is a necessity to read the whole passage to guarantee all the nuances and qualifications are thought through but for the sake of time here is a sample:

XLIV. Third proposition. "We think that incurable factious and blasphemous arch-heretics, not ceasing to scatter their poision, against interdicts often and repeated and a pledge given, disturbing both the state and church, can be punished with death." Yet that this is not resorted to unless all other mild means have been tried without avail to cure them and restore them to a better mind. For when it is evident that such remedies not only do not cure the evil, but rather exasperate and increase it, then at length (although sorrowfully) the magistrate compelled by the necessity of his office will direct his attention to it.; like physicians, who are wont to employ extreme remedies for desperate and extreme maladies that what cannot be corrected and cured may be stopped by the knife and cautery so that the healthy parts may not be affected...

XLV. The reasons why we so determine are various, indicated already by us in Section 32 and the following, to which we add the attrociousness of the crime. for if punishment ought to increase with the greatness of the crime, no one can doubt that the blasphemy and impiety by which the majesty of God is directly assailed, is the greatest of all crimes and one which on that account ought to be visited with the greatest punishment; especially if an obstinate and pertinacious contempt of political and ecclesiastical order is joined with it as also perjury and an insane fury for corrupting others with the same poison. Such monsters of men ought to be regarded as public pests and cancers, as disturbers of the church and state whom it is of the highest importance to remove, whether to vindicate the glory of the offended supreme majesty or to conserve human society.

ibid. 332-333

Wilhelmus A Brakel - (1635-1711)

Question:

Does the civil government exercise any authority at all with regard to the church?

Answer:

It has no authority whatsoever in the church, but it does have authority with regard to the church.

We thus most strenuously oppose the Erastians and Arminians who posit all authority and government with the civil government, subordinating all ecclesiastical authority and government to the civil government, from which it is in turn delegated to the church. We have contradicted this notion in the foregoing and shall shortly do so again. We are likewise opposed to the view of the papists who remove all who belong to the church from governmental jurisdiction. At the same time, they maintain that the civil government may not render judgment at all in the realm of religion, and that the civil government must merely follow blindly and execute whatever the church has deemed and judged to be correct. We are also opposed to the view of the Libertines who insist that the government may not be involved with religion at all, but must permit every religion in its territory to proclaim whatever it wishes. We declare that the civil government does indeed have authority with regard to the church and is obligated to make use of this, which is a matter we subsequently shall demonstrate to be so.


Question:

What authority does the civil government not have?

Answer:

It has no authority whatsoever in the church and may not rule over the church as lords and masters. Government officials may not act as if they are servants sent of Christ"”in Christ´s Name preaching, administering the sacraments, using the keys of the kingdom of heaven, commissioning ministers, appointing elders in the church, and decreeing what or what will not be preached concerning divine truths, and what are or are not the fundamental points of the Christian religion. They also have no right to depose and expel ministers who are godly and blameless in doctrine and life, and who have been lawfully called as the ministers of given churches. They may not, as lord and master over the church, reject such men, declare the calling to be null and void, efface it, etc. The government has no authority relative to such ecclesiastical matters, for in doing so she would reach for the crown and scepter of the Lord Jesus, whose prerogative this is. Those governments who are not refrained by the many examples of divine judgment will pay a bitter price for such a practice.

Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service Vol. II, pp. 169-170


The Responsibility of the Civil Government with Regard to the Church

We must now consider also what authority the civil government has with regard to the church. Such use of its authority we wholeheartedly uphold.

The duties of the government with regard to the church are threefold. It has 1) the power of protection, 2) the power to legislate concerning external circumstances, and 3) the power to subdue evil influences.

First, the civil government is empowered to protect the church. It must protect the church from all oppression from without and within, so that no one will disturb or prevent either the exercise of religion or the meetings of consistories, Classes, and Synods. It must preserve the freedoms and the spiritual privileges which Christ has given to the church, so that she may use and exercise them without impediment. It must remove all external obstacles which either could be detrimental to religion or impede the growth and well"“being of the church. It must do everything possible to promote religion so that the church may flourish under its protection and "œ?may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty?" (?1 Tim. 2:2?). Such was the practice of the godly kings David, Solomon, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah"”a fact which can generally be observed in the books of Kings and Chronicles.

Secondly, the civil government has power to legislate concerning external circumstances. As such it can maintain order as far as the external circumstances of public worship are concerned"”such as the most suitable time for and place of worship, as well as that the welfare of the civil state be not impeded. It must also call ecclesiastical synods together, and see to it that other ecclesiastical assemblies are held, so that they in turn may promote the internal well"“being of the church.

Thirdly, the civil government has the power of control with regard to ecclesiastical matters. It must see to it that members of the clergy"”ministers, elders, and deacons"”discharge their duties and not be negligent in this regard, as well as that they adhere to the established church order which is according to God´s Word. It must publicly oppose those who by false doctrine and immorality trouble the church, or who by evil philosophies and opinions disturb the civil state as far as political matters are concerned. It must also prevent the continuation of such practices. It must exterminate false religions. It must promote the reformation of the church if she becomes entirely degenerate in doctrine and morals, and by the use of all political means imaginable restrain opponents and compel those who forsake religion to observe their duty, etc. In this manner Moses (Ex. 32), Asa (?2 Chr. 14?), Jehoshaphat (?2 Chr. 17?), Hezekiah (?2 Chr. 29?, ?30?), Josiah (?2 Chr. 34?), and Nehemiah (?Neh. 13:30?"“?31?) were engaged in the work of reformation. How blessed is the church and the civil state which functions in this way, and where the church and the civil government, each within their own sphere of influence, are faithful in the discharge of their tasks!

We thus observe that none ought to be of the opinion that the government is not to be involved in the church at all, ought not to be concerned about her, and ought merely to be the blind executor of whatever the church wishes her to carry out. There is a certain Jus majestatis circa sacra; that is, a rightful claim, power, or duty of civil governments with regard to that which is holy. The Belgic Confession speaks of this in Article 36:
[quoteAnd their office is, not only to have regard unto, and watch for the welfare of the civil state; but also that they protect the sacred ministry; and thus may remove and prevent all idolatry and false worship; that the kingdom of antichrist may be thus destroyed and the kingdom of Christ promoted. They must therefore countenance the preaching of the Word of the gospel everywhere, that God may be honored and worshipped by everyone, as He commands in His Word.

It is the duty of civil government to uphold not only the second table of the law, but also the first. It must see to it that God is honored. It may not tolerate any idolatry, worship of images, or any false religion within her jurisdiction, but must rather eradicate these. It must prevent the vain use of God´s Name practiced by cursing, swearing, and blasphemy. It must prevent the desecration of the Sabbath, punish violators of this commandment, and see to it that the gospel is proclaimed everywhere within its jurisdiction. It must see to it that the church, as the darling of the Lord Jesus, is protected and preserved; and that neither internal dissension nor any external oppression disturb or destroy the church, but that instead she be safely preserved in the use of the privileges and liberties which her King Jesus has given her.

The government must be engaged with regard to all these things, but not formaliter; that is, by intruding into the very essence of the matter at hand. It must do so objectively; that is, deeming her (the church) to be the object of its activity. Therefore we say that the civil government has authority with regard to the church, rather than in the church. Neither civil governments nor any other individual may exercise power in or over the church, for Jesus is her only King. The civil government has, however, an obligation with regard to the church. There is a significant difference between "œ?in?" and "œ?with regard to.?" A civil government has authority with regard to marriage, but no authority in the marriage; with regard to a household, but not within the household. It likewise has authority with regard to the church, but not in the church. We have thus shown what authority the civil government has with regard to the church, and what authority the elders have in the congregation.

Brakel, The Christian's Reasonable Service Vol. II, pp. 178-179
Zanchius

Almost all of our men are of this opinion, that heretics should be punished with the sword.

"De Magistratu," Operum Theologicorum [1613][Miscellaneorum], 7:166-88 cited in Turretin Vol. III, p. 334


Bucanus

"Is it lawful for the magistrate to proceed against heretics with the sword?" He answers affirmatively

Institutes of Christian Religion 49 [1606], p. 874 cited in Turretin, Vol. III pg. 334
Gerhard

"It is not a question concerning the seditious, blasphemous, heretics, who besides the propagation of false doctrine, excite sedition in addition, instigate subjects against magistrates and utter direct and open blasphemies against God; for that they can be capitally punished on account of sedition and blasphemies we do not wholly controvert."

Locus 24.317, "De Magistratu Politici," Loci Theologici [1868], 6:446
"No one of us denies that pertinacious heretics can be excommunicated, no one hinders the punishment of seditious heretics, disturbers of the public peace, with the sword."

Locus 24.355, ibid. , 6:470 both cited in Turretin, Vol. III p. 334
James Ussher - Archbishop of Armagh (1580-1655) in a speech published with a controversial work against the Jesuit, Hybernus, defends the oath of fidelity which declared the king to be the sole supreme governor in the kingdom. Thus he distinguishes

"two distinct powers established by God in these lands, one of which is of the keys committed to the church, the other of the sword entrusted to the civil magistrate; the former ordained to operate about the internal man, having an immediate relation to the remission and retention of sins; the latter ordained to operate about the external man, affording protection to the obedient, and inflicting external punishments upon the rebellious"

A Speech Delivered in the Castle-Chamber at Dublin the xxii of November, Anno 1622, pp.304

Although in this way we make the prince and priest guardians of both tables, and although the matter about which they exercise their office can be the same, still the form and mode of governing in it is distinct in every way. One extends itself only to the external man, the other to the internal; one binds or looses the soul; the other attends to the body and things pertaining to it; one has a special regard to the judgment of the future world, the other refers to the present retention or privation of some of the conveniences of this life.

ibid., p. 6

Both citations as found in Francis Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. III, p. 322-323
Parliament of Scotland
[21. Act aginst the Crime of Blasphemy].
" OUR Soveraign Lord, and the Estates of Parliament considering that hitherto there hath been no Law in this Kingdom, against the horrible crime of Blasphemy, Therefore, His Majestie, with advice of His said Estates, Doth hereby Statute and Ordain. That whosoever hereafter, not being distracted in his wits, shall rail upon, or curse GOD, or any of the Persons of the blessed Trinity, shal be processed before the chief Justice; and being fpund guilty, shall be punished with Death."

THE LAWS and ACTS Made in the FIRST PARLIAMENT of Our most High and Dread Soveraign, CHARLES THE SECOND, etc. Holden at Edinburgh the first of January, 1661 etc. Edin 1683. no page numbers
A Solemn Testimony Against Toleration, etc. By the Commissioners of the General Assembly 1649
[Punishment of idolaters capital; perpetuity of this law].
"As the Lord by his servant Moses, in the xviiith of Deuteronomy, requires of him that shall reign over his people, that he have a copy of the law of the Lord by him, and that he read therein all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, and to keep all the words of that law; so in the xiiith of that book he gives a command to put to death the false prophe, and the brother that speaks to his people to turn them away from the Lord their God; and the reasons taken from the nature of the duty, whereby he persuades unto the obedience thereof, are perpetual and no less binding unto us now, than to them of old."

Reprinted in Faithful Witness-Bearing Exemplified: Kilmarnock1783. p. 74.
James Durham 1622 - 1658
[Job 31: 26; idolatry].
" Vs. 26. // / have looked to the Sun, or moon, when they shined, and my heart hath been secretly enticed or my mouth hath kissed my hand. He gives two reasons why he would riot do this.
[1] Because it is a heinous sin; for as little as folks think of false worship or idolatry; yea, an iniquity to be punished by the judge. Job was not of their religion that plead for toleration. He knew that God's law gave warrant to them then (and it gives also warrant to us now) to punish idolaters, and the judge ought to do it."

James Durham, Lectures on Job. Edt. by C. Coldwell. (Dallas, Texas; Naphtali Press,1995) p.170. Note that Durham declares the death penalty decreed by Deut.22:22 to be a moral law. 90 ibid., p. 172
Thomas Cartwright 1535-1603
[Judicial Law and equity;].
" And, as for the judicial law, forasmuch as there are some of them made in regard of the region where they were given, and of the people to whom they were given, the prince and the magistrate, keeping the substance and equity of them ( as it were the marrow), may change the circumstance of them, as the times and places and manners of the people shall require. But to say that any magistrate can save the life of blasphemers contemptuous and stubborn idolaters, murderers, adulterers, incestuous persons, and such like, which God by his judicial law hath commanded to be put to death, I do utterly deny, and am ready to prove, if that pertained to this question ".

"SecondReply" 1575 cited in Worksof John Whitgift,1.270. ParkerSoc. 1851
William Perkins: A Commentarie upon the Epistle to the Galatians. Lon.1617 [ Pilgrim Press, 1989] pp. 202-204.
Example 3. Hee that blasphemeth the name of God, shall bee put to death, Leuv.24.16. Understand this law of manifest and notorious blasphemies, that pearce through God, as the words import: and then it is a maine fence to the third commaundement. For Gods name may in no wise be abused, and troad under foot: and therefore blasphemers pearcing God, are to be cut off. This is the very law of nature, as appeares by Nabuchadnezzar , who gave in commandement to his people, that whosoever blasphemed the name of the true God should be put to death, Dan.3.29. Here note, that manifest and convicted Atheists, if they bee put to death, have but their deserts.
John Cotton (December 4, 1585 "“ December 23, 1652)
Excerpt from a Copy of a Letter from Mr. Cotton to Lord Say and Seal in the year 1636

I am very apt to believe, what Mr. Perkins hath, in one of his prefatory pages to his golden chain, that the word, and scriptures of God do contain a short upoluposis, or platform, not only of theology, but also of other sacred sciences, (as he calleth them) attendants, and handmaids thereunto, which he maketh ethics, economics, politics, church-government, prophecy, academy. It is very suitable to God´s all-sufficient wisdom, and to the fullness and perfection of Holy Scriptures, not only to prescribe perfect rules for the right ordering of a private man´s soul to everlasting blessedness with Himself, but also for the right ordering of a man´s family, yea, of the commonwealth too, so far as both of them are subordinate to spiritual ends, and yet avoid both the churches usurpation upon civil jurisdictions, in ordine ad spiritualia, and the commonwealths invasion upon ecclesiastical administrations, in ordine to civil peace, and conformity to the civil state. God´s institutions (such as the government of church and commonwealth be) may be close and compact, and co-ordinate one to another, and yet not be confounded. God hath so framed the state of church government and ordinances, that they may be compatible to any common-wealth, though never so much disordered in his frame. But yet when a commonwealth hath liberty to mold his own frame I conceive the scripture hath given full direction for the right ordering of the same, and that, in such sort as may best maintain the euexia of the church. Mr. Hooker doth often quote a saying out of Mr. Cartwright (though I have not read it in him) that no man fashioneth his house to his hangings, but his hangings to his house. It is better that the commonwealth be fashioned to the setting forth of God´s house, which is his church: than to accommodate the church frame to the civil state. Democracy, I do not conceive that ever God did ordain as a fit government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed? As for monarchy, and aristocracy, they are both of them clearly approved, and directed in scripture, yet so as referreth the sovereignty to himself, and setteth up Theocracy in both, as the best form of government in the commonwealth, as well in the church.

Cotton, John cited in Puritan Political Ideas 1558-1794 ed. By Edmund Morgan, 1965, p.170-171


Abstract of the Laws of New England

CHAPTER VII.

Of Crimes. And first, of such as deserve capital punishment, or cutting off from a man's people, whether by death or banishment.

1. FIRST, blasphemy, which is a cursing of God by atheism, or the like, to be punished with death.
2. Idolatry to be punished with death.
3. Witchcraft, which is fellowship by covenant with a familiar spirit, to be punished with death.
4. Consulters with witches not to be tolerated, but either to be cut off by death or banishment.
5. Heresy, which is the maintenance of some wicked errors, overthrowing the foundation of the christian religion; which obstinacy, if it be joined with endeavour to seduce others thereunto, to be punished with death; because such an heretick, no less than an idolater, seeketh to thrust the souls of men from the Lord their God.
6. To worship God in a molten or graven image, to be punished with death.
7. Such members of the church, as do wilfully reject to walk, after due admonition and conviction, in the churches' establishment, and their christian admonition and censures, shall be cut off by banishment.
8. Whosoever shall revile the religion and worship of God, and the government of the church, as it is now established, to be cut off by banishment. Cor. 5:5.
11. Profaning of the Lord's day, in a careless and scornful neglect or contempt thereof, to be punished with death.



James Fergusson 1621-1667
[The magistrate's right to punish idolatry etc.].
" The main question then is, concerning State Toleration. Concerning which some do affirm, That whatever the Church may do in inflicting Church censures on Heriticks, Maintainers of Heterodox Opinions: Yet, Say they, no civil Punishment, such as Death, Imprisonment, Mulcts, or fines, should be inflicted on any Error or Blashemy whatsoever; providing the Maintainers of them carry themselves peaceably, do not trouble the State, or do evil against the Commonwealth in civil Things: We again on the contrary do hold, that it is the duty of the Civil Magistrate to suppress Error, Heresies, and every sin against the First Table, as well as it is his Duty to suppress Adultery, Fornication, Sedition, and other sins against the Second Table: And that he is not only bound to suppress Errors and Blashemies, that are contrary to fundamental Truths, or the Light of Nature; but all Error contrary to other points of Truth."

81 James Fergusson, A Brief Refutation Of The Errors Of Toleration, Erastianism, Independancy And Separatbn. 1692. pp. 51-52. These sermons were originally preached in 1652 but published posthumously by his son.

The magistrate's power to punish blasphemy and heresy].
" If it was the approven practice of Kings and Magistrates under the Old Testament to suppress Error, Heresie, and Blasphemy, then Magistrates under the New Testament are bound to do the like."

ibid., pg. 54. Later [pp.61-62], Fergusson says That whatever was commanded to be done by Magistrates under the Old Testament as a part of their duty, this Magistrates under the New Testament are obliged to as a part of their duty also, ."he cites Exod.22.20; Lev.24.15,16;Deut.13.1
David Dickson 1583-1663
[Chapter 20; Of Christian Liberty, Quest. IV; Magistrate to punish by the law].
"Do not lastly the Lutherans, Anabaptists, Arminians, Quakers, and all sort of Hereticks, and Sectaries err, who maintain, ( under the pretext of Christian Liberty) that the Civil Magistrate, is not obliged in duty, to punish any man with the sword, for errors in doctrine, but that they ought to be tolerated, and suffered, providing such persons as own them, do not trouble, or molest the Common-wealth? Yes: By what reasons are they confuted? ... The Lutherans, Anabaptists, Arminians, and other sectaries are confuted? (1) Because, it is evident, from many examples of Godly Magistrats, who did extirpat Idolatry, and inflict punishment upon Idolaters, as did Jacob the Patriarch, ... Of Asa, who decreed that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel (according to the law of God; Deut. 13.9.) should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man, or woman; 2 Chron.15.13....(4) It is evident from the office of the Magistrat, who is the Minister of God against them, that do evil, and beareth not the sword in vain: Rom. 13.3,4. (5) Because, it is expressly commanded in Scripture, that punishment be inflicted upon Idolaters, even by the nearest relations. If then, the Father may kill the Son, may kill the Daughter, the Husband the Wife of his bosom: and if one brother may stone another brother with stones, that he die, for being Idolaters; much more may the Civil Magistrat do this; Deut.13.6 to the 13 verse;
Deut.17.2 to the 7 verse; Lev.24.16 (8) Because, Ezra did esteem it, a great favour and blessing of God, conferred upon the Church; for which he thanked God, that had inclined the heart of Artaxerxes, to publish a Decree, for the punishment of those, that did not observe the Law, whether it be, (saith the Text) unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment; Chap.7.23,25,28 ".

David Dickson, Truth's Victory Over Error. Edin. 1684. pp. 157-162

[WCF. chapter. 23; Of the Civil Magistrate Quest.1. Magistrate; Power of sword].
" CHAP. XXIII. Of the Civil Magistrate. Question 1. Hath God armed the Civil Magistrat, with the power of the Sword, for the defence, and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers? Yes. Rom.13.1,2,3,4. I Peter 2.13.14. Well then, do not the Socinians err, who maintain, that it is not the duty of the Civil Magistrate, to punish the guilty with death? Yes. By what reasons are they confuted? (1) Because, GOD hath expressly commanded, that transgressing Idolaters be put to death; Deut.17.7. Deut. 19.21. (2) Because, it appertains to the office, and duty of the Magistrate, to punish the guilty with death; Rom. 13A I Peter 2.14. (3) Because, the capital punishment of evil doers makes others stand in awe, and fear to offend; Deut. 13.11 Deut. 19.20:..."

ibid., p. 206. Dickson further cited Exod. 21.12. The use of Case law confirms that by "evildoers" in Romans 13, is meant transgressors of the Law of God.

[WCF. chpt. 23 Quest. II. Civil magistrate; punishment of blasphemies, etc.]
" Quest.II. Is it the duty of the Civil Magistrate, to take order, that all Blaspemies, and Heresies be suppressed, all the ordinances of God duely settled, administered, and observed; all abuses in worship, and discipline reformed, all Idolaters, Gainsayers, and other obstinate dissenters, be obliged and forced to quite their tenets and opinions, and conform themselves to the true worship , and service of
God, according to his law? Yes (5) Because, whosoever blasphemed the name of the Lord, was surely put to death; lev.24.16....(6) Because, the supream magistrate is Custos utriusque Tabulae, a keeper of both tables of the law of God. as well the first Table, which relates to Religion, and our duty to God; as of the second which relates to righteousness, and our duty to our neighbour. If then, he may punish evil doers, who offend against the second Table, and force and compel them to obedience, by the sword of justice, which God hath put into his hand, much more may he punish Idolaters, and Blashemers, who offend against the first Table, and force and compell them to obedience:..."

ibid., pp. 210-211. Dickson uses an afortiori argument (from the lesser to the greater), which depends on a belief in the right of the magistrate to punish 2nd. table crimes. Thus the Christian may be a Civil magistrate.. " (3) Because, the Magistrate exercises, and executes Gods judgements; Deut.1.17."p.212
Samuel Rutherford ** 1600 - 1661
[Magistrate's to punish idolatry, as keeper of two tables of the law].
"And this is the cause (I conceive) why great Divines have said the object of the Magistrates power as a Magistrate is the externall man, and earthly things, because he doth not in such a spirituall way of working, take care of the two Tables of the Law, as the Pastor doth; and yet the spirituall good and edification of the Church in the right preaching of the Word, Sacraments, and pure discipline is his end. It is true, whether the blashemer professe repentance, or not, the Magistrate is to punish, yea and to take his life, if he in seducing of many, have prevailed, but yet his end is edification, even in taking away the life; for he is to put away evill, that all Israel may feare, and doe so no more; but this edification is procured by the sword, and by a coactive power, and so the Church power and the kingly power differ in their formall objects, and their formall ends."

Samuel Rutherford, The Due Right of Presbyteries or, A Peacable Plea, etc. Lon 1644. p. 398

[Deut. 17; Magistrate's to read the law].
" It is true as King hee is oblieged to read continually in the booke of the Law of God, Deut. 17. and to know what is truth, what heresie, in so farre as hee commandeth that Pastors preach sound doctrine, and that as a Judge hee is to punish heresie."

ibid., p. 429

[Punishment requires witnesses for all Old Testament crimes which are perpetual as to equity].
" It is clear the question must be thus stated, for all the lawes of the old Testament (which we hold in their Morall equitie to be perpetuall) that are touching blasphemies, heresies, solicitation to worship false Gods and the breach of which the Godly Magistrate was to punish, command or forbid onely such things as may be proved by two or three witnesses, and which husband and wife are not to conceal, and from which all Israel must abstain for fear of the like punishment. Deut. 13.8,9,10,11; Deut. 17.5,6; Levit.20.1,2,3,4,5. But opinions in the minde, acts of the understanding, can never be proved by witnesses and such as neither Magistrates nor Church can censure."

Samuel Rutherford, A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty ofConscience etc... (Lon-1649). p. 47

[Seducers to idolatry to be punished now as then].
" For neither under Moses more then now, could the sword convert men to the true Religion, yet bodily death was to be inflicted on the seducer, then, as now. Deut.13.11."

ibid., p. 55.

[Duty of the Magistrate from Deut.13 & Rom.13 perpetual].
"... the intrinsecall worke and end of the Magistrate is to avenge evill doing, and so to remove the fierce anger of the Lord from a land, that the people may feare and not do any such wickednesse, as is cleare, Deut.13:10,11. Exod.32:29,30. Deut. 19:20. Rom. 13:3,4,5. 1 Pet.2:14. Now the false Prophet is such as brings on all these evills, and therefore if Magistrates stand under the new Testament, and if there be such a sin now as thrusting away people from the Lord who hath, in Christ, delivered us from a greater bondage then that of Aegypt, this must be a perpetuall Law."

ibid., pp. 186-187

[Lev.24:10-14 a perpetual law against blasphemy].
" Levit.24:10,11,12,13,14. which is,ver.15,16. Whosoever curseth his God shall beare his sin, 16. And whosoever blasphemeth the name of the Lord hee shall surely be put to death; and all the congregation shall certainly stone him, as well the stranger as hee that is borne in the land, when hee blasphemeth the name of the Lord shall be put to death: there be two things here for me that proveth this was no judiciall temporary law binding Israel onely. 1. His God, Holdeth forth, that nature abhorreth, and the sum of the first command written in the heart is, hee that curseth his maker whom he is to blesse, love, and serve with all his heart, should dye. 2. This law obliegeth the stranger, and any heathen to be put to death, if hee should blaspheme God, saith it is the law of nature, and obliegeth us under the New Testament as being the highest sin that nature crieth shame, and woe upon;"

ibid., p. 183
George Gillespie** 1613-1648
[ The Judicial law; its continuing authority].
" 1. Though we have clear and full scriptures in the New Testament of the abolishing the ceremonial law, yet we no where read in all the New Testament of the abolishing of the judicial law, so far as it did concern the punishing of sins against the moral law, of which heresy and seducing of souls is one, and a great one. Once God did reveal his will for punishing those sins by such and such punishments. He who will hold that the Christian Magistrate is not bound to inflict such punishments for such sins, is bound to prove that those former laws of God are abolished, and show some Scripture for it."

George Gillespie, Wholesome Severity Reconciled with Christian Liberty, Lon. 1645 (reprinted in;Naphtali Press, Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature, Volume 4. Dallas Texas, 1991)
pp.183


[Capital punishment by magistrates].
" It is but a poor argument whereby Bishop Bilson, Of the Government of the Church, chap.4, would prove the cutting off not to be meant of excommunication, because it is applied even to capital offences, such as the law elsewhere appointeth men to be put to death for, as if it were any absurdity to say, that one and the same offence is to be punished sub formalitate scandali with excommunication, and sub formalitate criminis with capital punishment; and who knoweth not that a capital crime is a cause of excommunication, which is also sometimes the sole punishment, the magistrate neglecting his duty. If a known blashemer or incestuous person be not cut off by the magistrate, as he ought by the Law of God, shall he therefore not be cut off by excommunication. If he had proved that all the causes of cutting off in the law were capital crimes, he had said much; but that will never be proved."

Aaron 's Rod Blossoming; p. 30

[ The Magistrates duty to enforce punishments against law].
" 2. I heartily yield that a lawful magistrate, whether Christian or heathen, ought to be a keeper or guardian of both tables; and, as God's vicegerent, hath authority to punish heinous sins against either table, by civil or corporal punishments, which proves nothing against a distinct church government for keeping pure the ordinances of Christ."

ibid., p. 67
Philip Nye ** 1596-1672
[Distinction between civil and ecclesiastical sanctions].
" Blasphemy may be punished with two punishments, if a sin may be punished with two punishments; as for example, theft: if a man were a church member he might be excommunicated first, and hanged afterwards. That was not a fallacy.

There were two places that Mr. Collier had [alleged]. They must not punish idolaters then because the magistrate was so. But for the woman taken in adultery, this was the reason that Christ did not judge her, because he would not meddle with magistratical matters. All the while Christ lived no Jewish rite was abolished."

Puritanism And Liberty Being the Army Debates (1647-9) from the Clarke Manuscripts, edt. by A.S.P. Woodhouse. Lon-1974 p. 128. All words in square brackets have been added by the editor to
give the sense of the MSS.
Thomas Hodges ** d.1672
[Parliament is to enforce God's Law against blasphemy].
" By your Censures and Punishments, let all the world take notice you are sensible of Gods dishonour, and that there is nothing more you affect, then to do him service in this great businesse: If nothing else will do it, (t) the Seducing Prophet must die the death, for offering to thrust Gods people from him; Eliah slayes (u) Baals Prophets, the like doth (w) Jehu, (x) The People of the land slay Mattan. If any offer sacrifice to Idols on altars, let him be cut off with the sword, says Constantine; Valentinian, Theodosius, Martian , were alike disposed against such persons. I confesse, such executions should be after other means made use of, all endeavor frustrated; desperate Doctrines broached, with Haeresie, Blasphemy, or Sedition mingled. The Thunderbolt smites few, but frights many."

Thomas Hodges, The Growth and Spreading of Haeresie. Set forth in a Sermon preached before the Honourable House of Commons, Lon. 1647. p.57. The proof texts cited in the margin are (t) Deut.13.5.(u)1 King. 18. (w) 2 King. 10.24. (x) 2 King. 11.18.
Richard Vines ** 1600-1655
[Blasphemers and seditious heretics still to be executed].
" For the blasphemous and seditious Haeritickes, both Lutherans and others of the Reformed churches do agree that they may be punished capitally, that is for their blasphemy or sedition; but the Socinian stands out here also, and denies it; alleadging that the punishment of false Prophets in the old Testament was speciali jure by speciali law granted to the Israelites, and therefore you must not looke (saith the Socinian ) into the olde Testament for a rule of proceeding against false Prophets and blasphemers: Nor (saith Calvin and Catharinus ) can you find in the new Testament any precept for the punishment of Theeves, Traytors, Adulterers, Witches, murtherers and the like, and yet they may, or at least some of them bee capitally punisht: for the Gospell destroys not the just lawes of civill policy or Common¬wealths;... "

Richard Vines, The Authours, Nature, and Danger of Haeresie. Laid open in a sermon Preached before the Honourable House of Commons... March 1646. Lon. 1647 p. 64
Nathanial Hardy 1618-1670
[God to be honoured more than Man].
"...divers Nations appoint various punishments, all some, for those that violate Religion, tell me, I beseech you, Is it a capital! crime to speak Treason against the three Estates of the Land, and shall it deserve lesse to belch out blasphemy against any of the three Persons in the sacred Trinity? Is it an offence worthie of punishment to abuse the Sonne of a King? and is it lesse to dishonour the Sonne of God? shall they who rob your houses be condemned, and these that rob your soules escape? are those women which adulterate their husbands beds justly sentenced? and shall those that adulterate Gods sacred Word go free? Fidem ne sen/are Deo levius quam homini? Is it a more veniell offence to break faith with God then man ? "

Nathanial Hardy, The Arraignment of Licentious Libertie, and Oppressing Tyrannie. In a Sermon before the Right honourable House of Peeres.Febr.24.1646 p.18.

William Reyner ** d.1666
[How we may prevent idolatry].
" Execute judgment for God, every one as farre as his power will stretch. First, doe judgment upon thine owne selfe for thy sinnes in all wayes of godly revenge, as by Fasting & c. sing mercy and judgment to thy family, as David Psa.101. Doe thy best that judgment that hath beene turned to wormewood and hemlocke, may run downe like a mighty streame, in publique. and where thy hand cannot reach a blow, or cast a stone at an idolater, blasphemer persecutor, & c. let thy heart at least doe it. For if a mans consenting to, or approving of an act of injustice may in guilt him, as I may say, in it as it was with the Jewes, whose state was ruined for killing Christ and the Prophets, though most part of them had never seene any of them Mat.23.37. why may not a mans executing judgment, with his heart, when he can proceed no further, be accepted, in respect of him, for an act of justice, by him that is pleased both in good and evill actions, to accept the will for the deed?
This duty is principally incumbent upon the Magistrate, who is to execute judgment of the Lord, not arbitrarily as himself pleaseth; but according to the rule of the Word, both for mater and manner.
1. For the matter man hath no warrant either to leave grosse and horrid sinnes unpunished in the committers of them; such as are the ring leaders in idolatry and persecution; nor yet to commute or change the nature of the punishment."

William Reyner, Babylons Ruining- Earthquake and the Restauration ofZion delivered in a sermon before the honourable house of commons... Aug. 28 1644. p.44 Leter Reyner questions the
motives of Magistrates who punish theft, yet do not pursue idolaters etc.
Herbert Palmer ** 1601-1647
[Conscience no excuse to save idolators].
" Also are not men's Souls in greater Hazard (rather then lesse) in sins against the 1. Table (Idolatries, Blasphemies, Heresies & c.) then in those against the second ?
How then shall it be more allowable to give Liberty and Toleration against the 1. Table, then against the second ? And what Idolater, or seduced Prophet, might not (or may not) [p] lead his conscience ? And yet you know GODS Sentences of old against such even to extremities, extirpation, Deut 13. throughout the whole Chapter, and elsewhere, and so against other breaches of the first Table. The Baalites whom Elijah caused to be put to death ( according to the Law of GOD) 1 Kings 18. did certainly thinke in their consciences that Baal was a true GOD , and theirs the true Religion. And so, those that caused their children to passe through the fire to Molech (which GOD expressly commands to be punisht with death , even though
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by crhoades
Believe it or not, I was the other person to vote yes at this point. Why? It is in the confessions, the reformers, the puritans etc. I've jokingly told people in private that we have another change in historic Reformed Doctrine:
N.P.P. = New Perspective in Politics
I realize the first option in the poll is the majority view among the Reformers, Puritans and original confessional documents, including Westminster. That is not so much the case, however, with the 1789 revision of Westminster:

Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or, in the least, interfere in the matter so faith. Yet, as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the Church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such a manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his Church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder, the due exercise thereof, among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people, in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretence of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any other person whatsoever: and to take order, that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance.
How do those who hold to the above version of the Westminster Confession interpret the section I put in bold? Unless I am missing something, I cannot see anything in the chapter (section three or the rest) to suggest a civil enforcement of the first table of the law--and the only thing I can see possibly suggesting a necessary civil enforcement of the whole second table is the part I put in bold; most notably, the statement that no person should be permitted to offer "any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury" to another.

What I'm unclear on, with respect to the plain intent of the Confession on that point, is the meaning and extent of those four prohibitions. For instance, prohibition of "violence" and "injury" could be said to not in and of itself mandate prohibition of premarital sex (seventh) or most marriages lacking parental blessing (fifth commandment). On the other hand, it may be the case that the required prohibition of "indignity" or even "abuse" could in fact imply a necessary enforcement of the fifth and seventh commandments.

Originally posted by Puritanhead
Let me pose this question-- is this an observation or wishful thinking?
Could you elaborate?
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Christendom was great fun while it lasted, except for the 60,000 + Calvinists who were murdered or the 3,000+ Anabaptists.

It was a mistake. We should admit it. God has not charged the magistrate with enforcing the first table.

He does not bear the sword in vain, but Paul did not want Claudius or Nero to enforce the first table! He wanted the magistrates to be just, according to the natural knowledge of justice that all humans possess. He didn't ask the magistrate to suppress Judaism nor did Peter or the Apostle John.

The second table is properly the magistrate's business. No one (not even the magistrate) has the right to steal my house, my wife, my life etc. The magistrate doesn't have to know my heart or thoughts. He just has to know what I've done. Did I steal, murder, lie, commit adultry or not?

Where I worship and how is not the magistate's business. God bless the mostly agnostic or liberal Anglican or deist (with a sprinkling of God-fearing Presbyterians and Anglican) founding fathers for getting that right in principle.

I'll duck now whilst stones and pitchforks are thrown in great numbers!

rsc
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
"No one (not even the magistrate) has the right to steal my house, my wife, my life etc."

I don't think anyone is arguing that the magistrate has the right to steal. However, you agree that the magistrate can use the sword in upholding the second table, correct?

"The magistrate doesn't have to know my heart or thoughts. He just has to know what I've done. Did I steal, murder, lie, commit adultry or not?"

I don't see how this objection applies. There are external violations of the first table as well.
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by SRoper
"No one (not even the magistrate) has the right to steal my house, my wife, my life etc."

I don't think anyone is arguing that the magistrate has the right to steal. However, you agree that the magistrate can use the sword in upholding the second table, correct?
NB the verb steal.

When the magistrate puts a murderer to death, he's not stealing. The murderer has violated natural (creational) justice. The murderer has forfeited his life and magistrate is obligated to execute the just punishment, hence Paul says that the M. does not bear the sword in vain.

rsc: "The magistrate doesn't have to know my heart or thoughts. He just has to know what I've done. Did I steal, murder, lie, commit adultry or not?"

SR: I don't see how this objection applies. There are external violations of the first table as well.
My point was that most idolatry is not visible, but invisible. The magistrate is charged in non-Mosaic society with enforcing natural justice relative to what is visible and empirical. Even, however, if idolatry became visible, there's no non-Mosaic evidence that the magistrate is charged with the enforcement of the 1st table. He is not charged with enforcing cultic (religious) purity. He's charged with protecting public safety.

How did Paul argue in Athens? He noted their idolatry but he didn't call for the application of the Mosaic ("Old covenant" - 2 Cor 3) civil penalties against the idolaters. He called for repentance (law) and faith (gospel) in the risen Christ.

rsc
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Practically speaking, in any other society apart from OT israel, i think it is impossible to speak of magistrate's duties apart from the context of the government they live in. To say a magistrate has a duty to enforce the moral law when to perform that duty would result in said magistrate being immediately removed from power by his superiors is ultimately meaningless in my opinion.

To be honest i do not think i agree with the confession's emphasis on the civil magistrate for NT times. The bible says NT christians are only sojourners in this world, and almost all the time, the rulers of this physical world will be evil men. Christians are to live righteous lives in this world without compromise, not try to change the entire system. And i think the teaching of the new testament is that living in an evil nation and making use of its systems is not compromise in God's eyes. That is not to say that christians can or should not try to make good changes in their countries, whether by voting, legal protests, or other means, but i do not think it is a very high priority for new testament christians.

Regarding magistrates, i think taking up roles or jobs in government is an issue of liberty for christians if they feel that is how they can best serve God. But whilst they must never sin or compromise themselves, there is not, i think, any duty outside of israel to enfore the moral law.

Daniel and Joseph served in positions of high authority in pagan empires, but i doubt they attempted to enforce God's law upon those peoples.

:2cents:
 

R. Scott Clark

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by crhoades
Johannes Wollebius - 1586-1629

Wollebius: Compendium Theologiae Christianae as found in Reformed Dogmatics edited by John W. Beardslee p. 148
Wollebius (one of my favorites and a good transmitter of the work of Polanus and an excellent representative of the Dort era Reformed theology) summarized the most reasonable and tempting revisions of "Christendom."

He doesn't demand Christian magistrates. He doesn't demand the enforcement of the Mosaic civil code. There's a lot to like about Wollebius' view except that, as might be noticed, he subtly elides the line between the Mosaic theocracy -- which had a specific and special and unique function in redemptive history -- and other (including post-canonical) states.

This is a premise that I'm unwilling to grant. It was widely held in the 16th and 17th centuries. It was a given. Appeal to the Mosaic theocracy was standard in the Reformed arguments by Beza (On the Right of Magistrates) and others against tyranny.

There has been since, for a variety of reasons, a paradigm shift for most Reformed theologians so that few (until recently) have been as willing to concede that crucial premise.

If that premise is not granted, then the notion that the magistrate should enforce the 1st table is much harder to defend. Yet, most of us recognize that Moses was a distinct and unique administration of the kingdom in redemptive history. This is an area where there was tension in most Reformed theology even in the 16th and 17th centuries. Calvin rejects the notion of any attempt to reconstruct the Mosaic theocracy today. So, otoh, they taught this distinction (the uniqueness of the Mosaic theocracy) and otoh they denied it when it was convenient for their politics. I think that, since 1648 (the 30 years war was a power stimulus) we've resolved that tension in a more consistent way.

I'm sometimes accused of simply wanting to "go back" to the 16th/17th century. Here, however, is an example where I think there has theological progress.

rsc
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not going to attempt a protracted defense of the principles of the Reformation here, any one who wants that can read any protestant prior to the late 19th century, but a few passing notes would be prudent. First there is the complete arbitrariness of this limitation of the extent of the civil magistrates power to enforce the moral law. Christians are to obey God's Law in every capacity. If the civil magistrate is an exception why?

There is an appeal to the silence of Paul. Simply because Paul (or any NT writer) does not spell out the enforcement of the 1st table does not mean he disapproves of it. But then Paul does call the magistrate the minister of God.

It is also purported that we who are for Reformation principles wish to police peoples' thoughts and private opinions, "invisible idoltary". This is a misrepresentation. The magistrate's power in the first and second table of the law is with outward things. Most violations of the 2nd table are invisible and inward as well. Hatred, lust, covetousness, etc. shall the magistrate do away with the 2nd tble as well?

Concerning penalties: The question is not over what degree of the Jewish application of the moral law carries over in the NT but whether civil enforcement of the 1st table of the moral law carries over at all.

Concerning "natural justice" which all men know about, the content of this includes the first table of the Law. The invisible things of God, his eternal power and Godhead, in short all of the first table, are known by everyone. Through sin this innate knowledge of God is smuthered but then so is knowledge of the second table which is why pre-born baby murder and sodomy is tolerated by the govt.
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
1Ti 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,
1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

Geneva Study Bible
An argument taken of the end: that is, because magistrates are appointed to this end, that men might peaceably and quietly live in all godliness and honesty: and therefore we must commend them especially to God, that they may faithfully execute so necessary an office.
Matthew Henry

Pray for kings (1Ti_2:2); though the kings at this time were heathens, enemies to Christianity, and persecutors of Christians, yet they must pray for them, because it is for the public good that there should be civil government, and proper persons entrusted with the administration of it, for whom therefore we ought to pray, yea, though we ourselves suffer under them. For kings, and all that are in authority, that is, inferior magistrates: we must pray for them, and we must give thanks for them, pray for their welfare and for the welfare of their kingdoms, and therefore must not plot against them, that in the peace thereof we may have peace, and give thanks for them and for the benefit we have under their government, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Here see what we must desire for kings, that God will so turn their hearts, and direct them and make use of them, that we under them may lead a quiet and peaceable life. He does not say, "œthat we may get preferments under them, grow rich, and be in honour and power under them;" no, the summit of the ambition of a good Christian is to lead a quiet and peaceable life, to get through the world unmolested in a low private station. We should desire that we and others may lead a peaceable life in all godliness and honesty, implying that we cannot expect to be kept quiet and peaceable unless we keep in all godliness and honesty. Let us mind our duty, and then we may expect to be taken under the protection both of God and the government. In all godliness and honesty. Here we have our duty as Christians summed up in two words: godliness, that is, the right worshipping of God; and honesty, that is, a good conduct towards all men. These two must go together; we are not truly honest if we are not godly, and do not render to God his due; and we are not truly godly if we are not honest, for God hates robbery for burnt-offering.
John Calvin
With all godliness and decency. The second fruit is the preservation of godliness, that is, when magistrates give themselves to promote religion, to maintain the worship of God, and to take care that sacred ordinances be observed with due reverence. The third fruit is the care of public decency; for it is also the business of magistrates to prevent men from abandoning themselves to brutal filthiness or flagitious conduct, but, on the contrary, to promote decency and moderation. If these three things are taken away, what will be the condition of human life? If, therefore, we are at all moved by solicitude about the peace of society, or godliness, or decency, let us remember that we ought also to be solicitous about those through whose agency we obtain such distinguished benefits.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Whilst the OT focuses on israel as a nation dedicated to God, the new testament always shows christians as individual citizens living within pagan nations.

What practical value is talking about magistrate's duties when in all but the most exceptional cirucmstances christians will have very little control over their magistrates at all?

And i think the examples of christians who served in pagan empires in both testaments show that Christians can serve in positions similar to that of magistrate even when the context of the ruling government does not allow them to enforce the laws of God.


I am sincerely interested; Even if we grant that the magistrate does have the duty to enforce either all or part of the decalogue, what practical effect would it have on christians living in 2006?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by satz



I am sincerely interested; Even if we grant that the magistrate does have the duty to enforce either all or part of the decalogue, what practical effect would it have on christians living in 2006?
Well, the bible says don't kill. Abortion is murder. Civil magistrate outlaws abortion. That's pretty practical, wouldn't you say?
 

Me Died Blue

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by satz



I am sincerely interested; Even if we grant that the magistrate does have the duty to enforce either all or part of the decalogue, what practical effect would it have on christians living in 2006?
Well, the bible says don't kill. Abortion is murder. Civil magistrate outlaws abortion. That's pretty practical, wouldn't you say?
While that is (intentionally) a very simple, basic illustration, it illustrates the principle of why this issue as a whole is important. While we cannot completely change the government overnight, and it may often take years or a lifetime to even affect one step of change in certain areas, we need to know what Scripture requires of the government in order to ever hope to do any of that, and even more basically, in order to know what to stand for now.

Building on Jacob's example, should we oppose the legal recognition of homosexual marriage? Why or why not? Is it a seventh commandment issue? If so, then should we ultimately stand for the outlawing of extra-marital sex? If it is the case that those stands (which are parts of the second table) should be advocated, what should people who believe so advocate in terms of the fifth commandment and its civil application? Also, the ninth commandment has definite implications as well--should we advocate treating perjury as a crime, even if it was not done under oath or in a judicial context?

Those are questions everyone must answer who wants to affirm the second table of the law as the magistrate's responsibility to fully enforce. (Along those lines, what would some such people say with regard to some of those questions, especially those that would seem particularly outrageous in our day?) Likewise, one must take a position on that question (whether or not the second table--and ultimately the first--should be enforced) in order to know what to advocate with respect to many issues that are currently changeable and under consideration. Should prostitution be legal, for instance? If not, why?
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by satz



I am sincerely interested; Even if we grant that the magistrate does have the duty to enforce either all or part of the decalogue, what practical effect would it have on christians living in 2006?
Well, the bible says don't kill. Abortion is murder. Civil magistrate outlaws abortion. That's pretty practical, wouldn't you say?
Whilst that may be a good answer in theory i don't think it is very practical simply because;

i) Generally in our present day the magistrate won't outlaw abortion. So saying the magistrate has a duty to do such and such becomes nothing than theological knowledge of another way the nation is in sin for 2006 christians.

ii) If a christian man were to be the magistrate himself, and he were to attempt to outlaw abortion, the government he serves in would simply get rid of him and change the law back. And Chris (Me Died Blue) raised a good question, if we say we must outlaw one (outward)sin, where do we draw the line? Why not outlaw adultery or fornication?

Thus in the end the only practical effect of saying the magistrate has a duty to enforce the decalogue is to say christians can never take up roles similar to that of magistrate in government, which as i mentioned earlier, goes against all the examples we see in the bible of christian men serving in pagan empires.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by C. Matthew McMahon
Wow, Chris Rhoades, great post. Were did you get that list? Is that your compilation?
I am still compiling and typing up more quotes. Ones that I hope to post soon are A'Brakel, Heppe, Kersten, Martyr, Viret, Voetius, Swinnock, etc.

The main source for the majority was Martin Foulner's Theonomy and the Westminster Confession: An Annotated Sourcebook I was trying to be selective in my quote selection from this book to make sure that it was dealing with the first table of the decalogue. There are many, many more quotes of note in the book and many more by the Rutherford's and Gillespie's even dealing with this topic. This should be a must have book for anyone seriously considering this topic or any aspect of a reformed view on the civil magistrate much less theonomy...

Other than that I pulled sources from my personal library. I've been studying this issue for the last 3 years pretty in-depth. What I've found is that people's writings on the magistrate fall under many places. Some actually have chapters in the systematics regarding the civil magistrate. Others deal with it under the head of Christ's Kingly Office. Some deal with it under headings of the ten commandments while others yet deal with it under the heading of the church and discipline. Going to commentaries on Deut., Exodus, Romans 13 are also a gold mine. Certain works like David Hall's - Genevan Reformation and the American Founding are worth every penny just for the bibliography not to mention the footnotes! The SWRB cd's are also an excellent treasure trove of works like Peter Martyr's Common Places (Loci Communes) that collect all of his writings on the magistrate into one place. One last resource that I've found excellent is Moses And The Magistrate: Aspects Of Calvin's Political Theory In Contemporary Focus - Jack Sawyer (search for it). It was his ThM dissertation at WTS PA. Download it in PDF - it would be a 11.20 well spent. He compares Calvin's writings and sees how closely they parallel a theonomic viewpoint such as Bahnsen's.

In my mind this is one area where the reformed have fallen asleep at the wheel. Love 'em or hate 'em, the theonomists have done the church a service by making this an issue again. By doing so, it has caused us to go back and look at our heritage. And what do we find?

Calvin, Bucer, Bullinger, Beza, Martyr, Knox, Wollebius, A'Brakel, Voetius, Turretin, Ussher, Durham, Perkins, Cartwright, Dickson, Rutherford, Gillespie, Nye, Palmer, Burroughs, Thornwell, et.al. all hold that the magistrate is God's minister and as such should enforce God's law - both tables. Name me one other doctrine that a person could disagree with the men on this list as well as the WCF (original), 2nd Helvetic, Belgic, Scots Confession, French Confession etc. and not be thought out of the strain of reformed thought. Henceforth my comment that we have another NPP to fight. New Perspective on Politics. We are compromised.

That being said, the concept of the magistrate enforcing the first table is such a foreign concept today. I still scratch my head at it. Like others, the question of practicalness rears its head. The thing is many, many men of the past and present have written on the topic as well as lived it out in church history. That is the kicker for me. Calvin. Bucer. Martyr. Knox. Puritans. These men were not just reformers of the church and of doctrine. They were also intent on reforming the social order to make sure justice occured to God's glory. And they went about it the right way. They taught the Bible to the common folk. They sought to reform/sanctify their own lives. They taught the magistrates role under God. They wrote. They persuaded. We are now left to read and act. We are in a state of reformedom now that we enjoy conferences and message boards (myself included) but not putting legs on our theology. We have to move past that. We don't need to lose sight of the 'not yet' - it is still a motivating factor and our true home - but we need to put both feet in the 'now'.

[Edited on 2-26-2006 by crhoades]

[Edited on 2-27-2006 by crhoades]
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Mark,
I see that we are arguing on two different levels:
1) You are saying that it wouldn't be practical because, given the poor state of society, such would not work. You are making a descriptive argument. Perhaps there is some force to your argument, but it misses the point: Is it right or wrong for the magistrate to govern in a just and godly manner? Not, is it expedient for the magistrate to govern justly?

2) I am arguing on the normative level. I am asking, as was the intent of this post, what is right or wrong.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
3) Not all sins are crimes. Drunkeness, for example, is a sin, but not a crime. Reasoning by analogy, if I were to drive drunkly and cause harm, that is a crime.
4) Finally, Kevin Clauson, in his stunning essay, "Ruler of the Nations," made the crucial distinction:
We must distinguish between political (what rulers should do) and social ethics (private sectors). This allows us to distinguish between crime and sin. Thus, the state can be limited on morally warrantable grounds.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by satz
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by satz



I am sincerely interested; Even if we grant that the magistrate does have the duty to enforce either all or part of the decalogue, what practical effect would it have on christians living in 2006?
Well, the bible says don't kill. Abortion is murder. Civil magistrate outlaws abortion. That's pretty practical, wouldn't you say?
Whilst that may be a good answer in theory i don't think it is very practical simply because;

i) Generally in our present day the magistrate won't outlaw abortion. So saying the magistrate has a duty to do such and such becomes nothing than theological knowledge of another way the nation is in sin for 2006 christians.
So to add some practical application we should:
1. Repent. Repent of our ambivalence. Repent of our lack of compassion and coldness of heart. Millions of lives and blood are on the church's hands for not striving to see this heinous crime ended.
2. Read all of the material that you can get your hands on regarding the issues.
3. Stay on top of the happenings regarding the issue in court cases etc.
4. Bring them up in conversation. I have engaged an athiest, liberal over the last three years and in the last month have had him tell me that he is now pro-life based on all of our conversations.
5. Engage your elected officials in letters and pray for them. I repeat. Pray for them.
6. Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center.
7. Get with your presbytery and begin finding families that are willing to adopt. That way when women come to the center we can offer another way out of their "situation".
8. Start a post abortion counseling opportunity at your church.
9. Preach against the topic as well as educate your congregation on their civic duty as well as the magistrate's duty.
10. Post on boards like this and connect to brothers and sisters worldwide encouraging them to do the same.
11. Preach the Gospel! In season and out.

We CAN change people's hearts and minds through the work of the Holy Spirit. We CAN see society changed. It has happened in history. God still works in history. We have to start thinking of things in a practical manner.

ii) If a christian man were to be the magistrate himself, and he were to attempt to outlaw abortion, the government he serves in would simply get rid of him and change the law back. And Chris (Me Died Blue) raised a good question, if we say we must outlaw one (outward)sin, where do we draw the line? Why not outlaw adultery or fornication?
We should outlaw adultery. No-fault divorce? What an abomination.
We should seek to call crime, crime where God calls it crime.
Thus in the end the only practical effect of saying the magistrate has a duty to enforce the decalogue is to say christians can never take up roles similar to that of magistrate in government, which as i mentioned earlier, goes against all the examples we see in the bible of christian men serving in pagan empires.
I don't see that conclusion as following.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Me Died Blue
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Originally posted by satz



I am sincerely interested; Even if we grant that the magistrate does have the duty to enforce either all or part of the decalogue, what practical effect would it have on christians living in 2006?
Well, the bible says don't kill. Abortion is murder. Civil magistrate outlaws abortion. That's pretty practical, wouldn't you say?
While that is (intentionally) a very simple, basic illustration, it illustrates the principle of why this issue as a whole is important. While we cannot completely change the government overnight, and it may often take years or a lifetime to even affect one step of change in certain areas, we need to know what Scripture requires of the government in order to ever hope to do any of that, and even more basically, in order to know what to stand for now.

Building on Jacob's example, should we oppose the legal recognition of homosexual marriage? Why or why not? Is it a seventh commandment issue? If so, then should we ultimately stand for the outlawing of extra-marital sex? If it is the case that those stands (which are parts of the second table) should be advocated, what should people who believe so advocate in terms of the fifth commandment and its civil application? Also, the ninth commandment has definite implications as well--should we advocate treating perjury as a crime, even if it was not done under oath or in a judicial context?

Those are questions everyone must answer who wants to affirm the second table of the law as the magistrate's responsibility to fully enforce. (Along those lines, what would some such people say with regard to some of those questions, especially those that would seem particularly outrageous in our day?) Likewise, one must take a position on that question (whether or not the second table--and ultimately the first--should be enforced) in order to know what to advocate with respect to many issues that are currently changeable and under consideration. Should prostitution be legal, for instance? If not, why?
I agree - excellent questions and direction. Like many of the quotes above said as well as a lot of material I didn't include...Why are we to expect the magistrate to rightly legislate the right/just laws as well as enforce them? Why are we surprised about homosexual marriage? How can we expect magistrates to get the 2nd table right when it has no grounding in the 1st? Positive law based on men's opinions carry no weight. If there is not a transcendent, immutable, just standard to pin them on then what good are they? The reformers also argued from the lesser to the greater. If we are to legislate on the 5th commandment regarding the respect of magistrates and following their laws as well as punishing treason - then how much more so should we guard God's glory.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
Jacob,

My brain doesn't seem to be working properly this morning, so sorry if i misunderstand anything. Yes, i was making a descriptive argument (not necessarily my intention, but looking back i can see that is probably what i did).

On the normative level, i think i do agree with you that the magistrate is under an obligation to obey God and enforce his laws. Every human being is under God's authority and is to obey God in the authority he exercises and the magistrate is no exception.

Unbelieving magistrates who do not enforce God's laws are certainly in sin (I do think God allows believing magistrates to serve without sin in pagan governments if the government over them makes it impossible for them to enforce his laws). A christian can and should try to affect political change in his nation, be it though prayer, voting, lawful protests or other means, i am just saying i do not see it presented as being a big priority for the New Testament church.
 

satz

Puritan Board Senior
I don't see that conclusion as following.
Chris,

The point i was trying to make was that if a magistrate in one of our modern nations were to outlaw abortion (as an example) but without the support of the higher ups in the government, than thos higher ups would simply overturn his ruling. And if he kept trying they would eventually force him out/ ask him to leave etc.

I think you made some good points on practical steps we can take though.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I have long realized that theonomy is the quickest way to lose friends and not influence people (and I have the scars to prove it). So, while generally theonomic in my views, I rarely bring up the dreaded "t" word, especialy with non-believers. Instead, I ask questions. Concerning standards. How do you know what is right and wrong? Can you justify that without sounding subjective or arbitrary? No?

The best line of approach is this: When is punishment criminal?

Governments which do not guard the majesty of GOd and his righeous law have no alternative and choice but do uphold the majesty of their own human authority. When crime is not viewed as an offense against the moral order of God, it becomes viewed as an offense against the arbitrary power of the State. If no higher law is adhered to, then the law of man is absolute; there is no logical barrier to stop such a state from becoming totalitarian.
And here comes the hammer blow:
If no higher law {we will come back to the notion of transcedental legal theories in a second--JA} is adhered to, then the only real crimes become crimes against the State (as in Imperial Rome, former Soviet Union, and much of the not-United States). Men die for resisting the absolute will of the state and not for crimes against a holy God. There is no appeal beyond the State and its rulers when God's law is set aside; man has no realm of justice to which he has recourse in opposing the will of the State. Here we have the Beast of Revelation 13 who executes all who do not live according to his ultimacy and law-word.
Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, p.455
When God's law (however you want to define it. I will not limit it to theonomy of the moment), then untrampled human will comes to rule insanely where God's law ought to be followed.

[Edited on 2--26-06 by Draught Horse]
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by satz
Jacob,

My brain doesn't seem to be working properly this morning, so sorry if i misunderstand anything. Yes, i was making a descriptive argument (not necessarily my intention, but looking back i can see that is probably what i did).

On the normative level, i think i do agree with you that the magistrate is under an obligation to obey God and enforce his laws. Every human being is under God's authority and is to obey God in the authority he exercises and the magistrate is no exception.

Unbelieving magistrates who do not enforce God's laws are certainly in sin (I do think God allows believing magistrates to serve without sin in pagan governments if the government over them makes it impossible for them to enforce his laws). A christian can and should try to affect political change in his nation, be it though prayer, voting, lawful protests or other means, i am just saying i do not see it presented as being a big priority for the New Testament church.
Unless I am as tired as you are (a big possiblity), I agree with virtually everything you just said.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Originally posted by satz
I don't see that conclusion as following.
Chris,

The point i was trying to make was that if a magistrate in one of our modern nations were to outlaw abortion (as an example) but without the support of the higher ups in the government, than thos higher ups would simply overturn his ruling. And if he kept trying they would eventually force him out/ ask him to leave etc.

I think you made some good points on practical steps we can take though.
Correct. I anticipated this possibility. In my treatises ( :lol: not really, but I have written a lot on it) on civil resistance I underline the need for a grass roots movement in the country before we can seriously enact change.

Nevertheless, the magistrate ought to at least try. Stonewall Jackson, the second greatest american to ever live, said this: "Duty is ours, consequences are God's"
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by satz
I don't see that conclusion as following.
Chris,

The point i was trying to make was that if a magistrate in one of our modern nations were to outlaw abortion (as an example) but without the support of the higher ups in the government, than thos higher ups would simply overturn his ruling. And if he kept trying they would eventually force him out/ ask him to leave etc.

I think you made some good points on practical steps we can take though.
:handshake: Abortion is one of the hot button issues for me. I have spent a lot of time on it. It literally tears me up. It is always a good litmus test for discussions of Christian politics. If one's political theory does not exhort believers to demand justice be done as well as get them to act on it, then it is not a true Christian theory - no matter how much redemptive historical gymnastics one can pull off.

On a practical note - if a Christian got elected and tried to outlaw it and got beyond talking points what would happen. What would happen if Bush took a state of the union address - let's say an hour's time and addressed the American public. Let's say that all he did was lay out the case for why abortion should be made illegal. Put forth every argument under the sun and shred to pieces every one against it. And then he implores people to take action. He also at the same time implores people to compassion etc. He then suggests websites and a couple key resources for more information.

What would happen? It would be all over the media and get an incredible conversation going all over the place. And what if for once, the church was ready with persuasive, loving arguments? Instead, we have officials paying lip service to it but still funding it.
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
Originally posted by Draught Horse
Chris,
Now you are just running up the score.
Hey, when they put the autistic kid in and he nailed 6 three-pointers, they didn't say that. There's an analogy here!:lol:

Still have a few more sources to go. There is something to be said for being able to compile 23+pages of support for your position from all of these reformed luminaries. Not to mention, it will be handy for reference eventually.

Not to mention...I dedicate this thread to Andrew Myers a.k.a. VirginiaHugenot. We have to take up his slack.

[Edited on 2-28-2006 by crhoades]
 

crhoades

Puritan Board Graduate
I trimmed the thread and left all of the quotes in the second post above in order to cut down scrolling etc. (although it did reduce my post count...:banghead: :lol: ) I cut quotes from Ussher, Turretin, Bucanus, Heidegger, Gerhard, Kersten etc.

I'll continue to add quotes below and leave them there for a few days for an easy way of seeing what's been added, then I'll probably cut them as well and refer people to the master list at top.

[Edited on 3-1-2006 by crhoades]
 
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