Trying to understand Theonomy and its critiques

Status
Not open for further replies.

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Edit: I meant to note in the title that this is specifically about Bahnsen's writing on theonomy, no one else.

Since the Bahnsen Project liberated Bahnsen's recorded material from CMF, I've been listening to a good bit and got into one of Bahnsen's series on ethics.

Now background: I would consider myself Establishmentarian and certainly Confessional. I've always been a bit wary of Theonomy just because of the cult that seems to surround Rushdoony, although I admit my personal knowledge is very slim. For this reason I was wary of Bahnsen when he started talking about theonomy.

However, in listening to it, it seems to me to be more of a logical extension of the WLC's exposition of the decalogue. Example: how do we know that "thou shalt not murder" means preserving life, protecting the weak, if not from the OT case law which expounds the decalogue? Bahnsen seems to be arguing for a philosophical foundation for ethics and law as being what God has revealed and himself expounded, although those laws might be applied in different ways today (about which I'm sure wise and godly individuals will disagree as to the specifics).

This is contrasted to a purely "natural law" view, which leads people like the humanists to form erroneous conclusions and leads to seeming arbitrariness. It's hard for me to see how natural law, without divine revelation to interpret it, can be a standard.

Regardless of one's definition of "theonomy" (which seems to be fluid), is Bahnsen saying more than this? And what was the controversy, historically, with this view? Is Bahnsen at odds with Confessionalism? Or is it primarily Americanism or American Presbyterianism that has an issue with this view?

I'm hoping to get a better grasp and understanding on a topic that apparently has a lot of history and baggage for a lot of people.
 
Last edited:

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Since the Bahnsen Project liberated Bahnsen's recorded material from CMF, I've been listening to a good bit and got into one of Bahnsen's series on ethics.

Now background: I would consider myself Establishmentarian and certainly Confessional. I've always been a bit wary of Theonomy just because of the cult that seems to surround Rushdoony, although I admit my personal knowledge is very slim. For this reason I was wary of Bahnsen when he started talking about theonomy.

However, in listening to it, it seems to me to be more of a logical extension of the WLC's exposition of the decalogue. Example: how do we know that "thou shalt not murder" means preserving life, protecting the weak, if not from the OT case law which expounds the decalogue? Bahnsen seems to be arguing for a philosophical foundation for ethics and law as being what God has revealed and himself expounded, although those laws might be applied in different ways today (about which I'm sure wise and godly individuals will disagree as to the specifics).

This is contrasted to a purely "natural law" view, which leads people like the humanists to form erroneous conclusions and leads to seeming arbitrariness. It's hard for me to see how natural law, without divine revelation to interpret it, can be a standard.

Regardless of one's definition of "theonomy" (which seems to be fluid), is Bahnsen saying more than this? And what was the controversy, historically, with this view? Is Bahnsen at odds with Confessionalism? Or is it primarily Americanism or American Presbyterianism that has an issue with this view?

I'm hoping to get a better grasp and understanding on a topic that apparently has a lot of history and baggage for a lot of people.
Great points. A Catch-22. Moral Law is given by God. To truly be led and live by them, there needs to be more established in the hearts of men than a vague notion of natural law. How do we do this without catechizing each citizen? This was the tension that existed between Jefferson and the American Calvinists of his day. One side emphasized an enlightened self actualization view of humanity while the other offered a more guarded, check and balanced view of mankind on account of our corruptible nature. That's my short and sloppy take.

Freedom and Liberty as main virtues (idols?) outside a truly Christian framework (by necessity of our fallenness) will be seduced into oblivion, and is probably well along on that course.

I keep going back to this while seeing the inevitability of the sentiment:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."- John Adams


Just to add, in case you are further interested....

"Jefferson trusted:
“that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die an Unitarian. But much I fear, that when this great truth shall be re-established, its votaries will fall into the fatal error of fabricating formulas of creed and confessions of faith, the engines which so soon destroyed the religion of Jesus, and made of Christendom a mere Aceldama; that they will give up morals for mysteries, and Jesus for Plato. How much wiser are the Quakers, who, agreeing in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, schismatize about no mysteries, and, keeping within the pale of common sense, suffer no speculative differences of opinion, any more than of feature, to impair the love of their brethren. Be this the wisdom of Unitarians, this the holy mantle which shall cover within its charitable circumference all who believe in one God, and who love their neighbor.”
Calvinism, Jefferson feared, heralded the reclamation of the medieval imagination that he believed benighted the world for one thousand years.[3]

Jefferson need not have worried about Virginia. The changes made to the Westminster Confession in 1789 took the last serious teeth out of Calvinist political theology, and most serious Protestants in the Commonwealth saw disestablishment as prudential, if not good. New Englanders and the occasional Carolinian remained more circumspect.

Ultimately, however, all forms of western Christianity struggled to define their relationship to liberalism. There were and are Calvinist conservatives and Calvinist liberals, Anglican conservatives and Anglican liberals, as well as Roman Catholic conservatives and Roman Catholic liberals." -
Dr. Miles Smith IV (a historian of the American South and native Carolinian). Follow him on Twitter @ivmile
 
Last edited:

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
One of the difficulties is that Bahnsen treats the Torah like it is akin to a modern law code. It isn't. It has song, poetry, and story in it. The US Constitution does not. The Torah also doesn't address the most important issue in a desert/agricultural society: water rights. The Torah also has laws which aren't ceremonial or clearly political, but not entirely moral either. The "bitter waters" test seems to work only in the old theocratic society, but there isn't any textual reason why it is limited to that society and not applicable today (unless you want to argue that it is a primitive lie detector test).

And then there are laws which have no punishment attached, like don't boil a goat in its mother's milk.

And then there are laws which would be hard to apply. If you are defending your house and your wife grabs the guy's testicles, you got to cut her hand off.

And then there is the fact that most theonomists know zero about the historic Christian and natural law tradition.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
From what I understood of Bahnsen, he was focused more upon the intent of the law, and how to apply that in a modern setting, than the precise outworking in a particular historical setting (i.e., Israel). So the fact that it has song, poetry, and story in it, doesn't make it any less useful as an interpreter or exposition of the decalogue. Is that not the case?

I don't think I would accuse Bahnsen of knowing zero about the historic Christian and natural law tradition. I should have been more clear up front but I'm particularly interested in why Bahnsen's views might be considered unconfessional or different from that of the Reformers and Puritans (I'm not saying they are or are not, just trying to understand the reaction, since this topic has a huge history that I'm simply unfamiliar with).

Also, I'm not sure why cutting off a woman's hand would be hard to apply. Is that simply because we are unaccustomed to that in our culture? Or was it just to do in one era but not for all time? I have a hard time understanding the arguments that seem to act like "we don't do that, or we think it is barbaric, therefore it shouldn't be done." I'm willing to at least entertain the notion that God can determine what is appropriate punishment and that it might be advisable for all ages.

I don't care if his views are called "theonomy" or something else, I'm just interested in his views and the reasons behind any controversy over his views.
 
Last edited:

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
I would consider myself Establishmentarian and certainly Confessional. I've always been a bit wary of Theonomy just because of the cult that seems to surround Rushdoony, although I admit my personal knowledge is very slim. For this reason I was wary of Bahnsen when he started talking about theonomy.
I have a hard time separating Establishmentarianism from Theonomy. What would be the distinction? I know Calvin separated church from state (saw them as distinct) but didnt the established church in Geneva have a big influence on the law and order of the city. I believe in our day any form of establishmentarianism would be viewed as a theonomy.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
I have a hard time separating Establishmentarianism from Theonomy. What would be the distinction? I know Calvin separated church from state (saw them as distinct) but didnt the established church in Geneva have a big influence on the law and order of the city. I believe in our day any form of establishmentarianism would be viewed as a theonomy.
Just to be clear, every major Theonomist I have ever read believes strongly in the separation of Church and state.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
From what I understood of Bahnsen, he was focused more upon the intent of the law, and how to apply that in a modern setting, than the precise outworking in a particular historical setting (i.e., Israel). So the fact that it has song, poetry, and story in it, doesn't make it any less useful as an interpreter or exposition of the decalogue. Is that not the case?

That's part of the problem. While Theonomy in Christian Ethics has a lot of exegesis, Bahnsen nevertheless skipped over some key exegetical points. And it does make it less useful. There is no guidance on water rights.
I don't think I would accuse Bahnsen of knowing zero about the historic Christian and natural law tradition.

He was weak on it. On one hand, he doesn't have the histrionic reaction you will see in North and Rushdoony. On the other hand, he has very little sustained interaction with the Christian tradition on this point. His history of Philosophy courses are very light on the development of patristic and medieval law.
Also, I'm not sure why cutting off a woman's hand would be hard to apply. Is that simply because we are unaccustomed to that in our culture?

I'm not cutting off my wife's hand if she is helping stop a fight.
I have a hard time separating Establishmentarianism from Theonomy. What would be the distinction?

Theonomy is politically Libertarian. Establishment (rightly) rejects libertarianism.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think one thing that needs to be mentioned is some would view philosophy as something that is not necessarily a good thing in some cases. People like Aquinas are not always seen in a favorable light for the things they introduced into Christianity (Francis Schaeffer for example critiques Aquinas in Escape from Reason). I think generally presuppositionalists also would have some issues with philosophy being used to determine theology. I personally have major issues with individuals like William Lane Craig.
 
Last edited:

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Just to be clear, every major Theonomist I have ever read believes strongly in the separation of Church and state.
Yes, I'm not implying otherwise. Although that charge has and will continue to be laid. Calvin is often critically labeled a .... what is the proper term for those who advocate a merging of the two?

I know I'm out of my depth here, so I will bow out....
 
Last edited:

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
That's part of the problem. While Theonomy in Christian Ethics has a lot of exegesis, Bahnsen nevertheless skipped over some key exegetical points. And it does make it less useful. There is no guidance on water rights.
Forgive me if I'm being obtuse, but why would general principles (e.g., case law) need to be exhaustive in every detail, such as water rights? I might be able to use it and give specific examples, but something being incomplete doesn't invalidate the concept, does it? Or am I misunderstanding?

And is Bahnsen saying that we have to apply every single mosaic law to our present situation, or is it the other way around, that any law we have in the present must be grounded in the principles of the mosaic law? I don't know, so I'm asking.

He was weak on it. On one hand, he doesn't have the histrionic reaction you will see in North and Rushdoony. On the other hand, he has very little sustained interaction with the Christian tradition on this point. His history of Philosophy courses are very light on the development of patristic and medieval law.

Why is he weak on it (I don't know whether he is or is not, just asking)? And what bearing would patristic and medieval law have on the use of the mosaic law, except as historic examples of whether it was followed or not? And let's say the patristics rejected the mosaic law, how would that invalidate the hermeneutic? It seems that the hermeneutic must be of more importance than the historic usage, even though the latter is interesting. Could it be that Bahnsen believed that the patristic and medieval law had little relevance to whether it was a scriptural position and that's why he was "weak" on it? I feel like whatever we think of Bahnsen's views, ultimately, few of us could ever claim to be his intellectual equal.

I'm not cutting off my wife's hand if she is helping stop a fight.

I admit that's not my first choice either (although I think it wouldn't be me, but the magistrate), yet isn't that begging the question? Surely it wouldn't be right for an ancient Israelite to say what you just said. If God commanded it and if it is binding (I'm not saying it is or isn't), then my feelings on the matter are somewhat irrelevant, aren't they?
 
Last edited:

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Forgive me if I'm being obtuse, but why would general principles (e.g., case law) need to be exhaustive in every detail, such as water rights? I might be able to use it and give specific examples, but something being incomplete doesn't invalidate the concept, does it? Or am I misunderstanding?

Case laws aren't general principles. By definition they are specific applications. This is an ambiguity in theonomy. On one hand the case laws are specific applications of general principles, yet they apply today only as the general equity allows. It's a general application of a general principle.

My point in water rights is that maybe Torah isn't meant to be a modern day law code if it fails to address the number one thing in an ancient society.
Why is he weak on it (I don't know whether he is or is not, just asking)?

He doesn't deal with it. His take is light and inadequate.
And what bearing would patristic and medieval law have on the use of the mosaic law, except as historic examples of whether it was followed or not? And let's say the patristics rejected the mosaic law, how would that invalidate the hermeneutic?

I'm talking about natural law. I'm saying that Bahnsen doesn't interact with it in any serious sense.
Could it be that Bahnsen believed that the patristic and medieval law had little relevance to whether it was a scriptural position and that's why he was "weak" on it?

Could be. But in appealing to general equity he is using natural law reasoning to reject natural law reasoning.
yet isn't that begging the question?

Maybe. I'll just say that case law expired, which the Confession allows me to do.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
So here is an example of what Bahnsen wrote:

"Although Israel as a political body has expired — and along with it its judicial law as a constitution — the general equity of those judicial laws is still required (Westminster Confession XIX.4). Similarly, when a public library goes out of business (and your library card thus expires), the truth of what was written in its books is not abolished or changed. Political codes today ought to incorporate the moral requirements which were culturally illustrated in the God-given, judicial laws of Old Testament Israel."

This appears to my uneducated glance, to be very similar to what the WLC does with regard to the decalogue. I don't see the replication of the Mosaic law in the letter, but only in the spirit. Obviously people will differ on the application, but at the very least it's fewer differences than people will have on natural law, no?

Did Bahnsen go beyond this general equity and general principles?

Edit:
is the above quote from Bahnsen different from what WCF 19:4 is saying?
"To [Israel] also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require."
 
Last edited:

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
So here is an example of what Bahnsen wrote:

"Although Israel as a political body has expired — and along with it its judicial law as a constitution — the general equity of those judicial laws is still required (Westminster Confession XIX.4). Similarly, when a public library goes out of business (and your library card thus expires), the truth of what was written in its books is not abolished or changed. Political codes today ought to incorporate the moral requirements which were culturally illustrated in the God-given, judicial laws of Old Testament Israel."

This appears to my uneducated glance, to be very similar to what the WLC does with regard to the decalogue. I don't see the replication of the Mosaic law in the letter, but only in the spirit. Obviously people will differ on the application, but at the very least it's fewer differences than people will have on natural law, no?

Did Bahnsen go beyond this general equity and general principles?

Edit:
is the above quote from Bahnsen different from what WCF 19:4 is saying?
"To [Israel] also, as a body politic, He gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require."

The main point of WCF is that the laws expired, except as they obtain in a natural law framework today (and general equity is an Aristotelian concept).

Bahnsen's sense is the opposite: they haven't expired but are only reapplied.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Bahnsen's sense is the opposite: they haven't expired but are only reapplied.

The quotation above doesn't seem to imply "the opposite" to me, do you gather this from other writings?


Since my question is specifically about Bahnsen's views, could you elaborate how Bahnsen differed from covenanters on those 8 points? The article seems to be making sweeping generalizations which end up missing any nuance on either side.

Bahnsen seems to think he was very much in line with the framers of the WCF and the Puritans, not espousing something new. Was he wrong, and why?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The quotation above doesn't seem to imply "the opposite" to me, do you gather this from other writings?



Since my question is specifically about Bahnsen's views, could you elaborate how Bahnsen differed from covenanters on those 8 points? The article seems to be making sweeping generalizations which end up missing any nuance on either side.

Bahnsen seems to think he was very much in line with the framers of the WCF and the Puritans, not espousing something new. Was he wrong, and why?

The primary emphasis of the Confession is that the laws have expired but it allows that you may find some equitable applications. Bahnsen's primary emphasis is that they are binding.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Per the National Covenanting link:

1) Bahnsen saw (1) as a nice idea but not necessary to theonomy.
2) If (2) implies a specific denomination, Bahnsen rejected that.
3) Bahnsen agreed with (3). Most recons reject (3). North is very, very clear on the Sabbath.
(5) That's a given. Most Theonomists are preterists. Rushdoony was an idealist. All reject historicism.
(7) The whole point of Reconstructionism is to get our man elected to office. McDurmon literally wrote a book on that topic.
8) North mocks natural law. Rushdoony rejected it. Bahnsen didn't deal with it.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
The primary emphasis of the Confession is that the laws have expired but it allows that you may find some equitable applications. Bahnsen's primary emphasis is that they are binding.

I haven't read all of Bahnsen's thoughts on this so I'm just going off of this one quote of Bahnsen...but I'm just not seeing what you're saying. He clearly states that the "judicial law, as a constitution, has expired". Then he says that despite that, the general equity of the judicial laws (not the laws themselves, as you just stated) are still required. And he cites WCF 19:4, which would be extremely odd if his sense was the opposite, as you indicate.

There seems to be a distinction to me.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Per the National Covenanting link:

1) Bahnsen saw (1) as a nice idea but not necessary to theonomy.
2) If (2) implies a specific denomination, Bahnsen rejected that.
3) Bahnsen agreed with (3). Most recons reject (3). North is very, very clear on the Sabbath.
(5) That's a given. Most Theonomists are preterists. Rushdoony was an idealist. All reject historicism.
(7) The whole point of Reconstructionism is to get our man elected to office. McDurmon literally wrote a book on that topic.
8) North mocks natural law. Rushdoony rejected it. Bahnsen didn't deal with it.

Once again, I'd like to limit to Bahnsen, and I see all kinds of critiques of various reconstructionists being lumped in here.

This seems to be very side-tracked but also seems to be a critique not of theonomy itself but is more critiques for some of the other (unrelated?) positions some theonomists. I mean, just off the top of my head...

1) Fair, but nobody besides covenanters believe that so it's hardly a critique of theonomy alone. Are the two (covenanting and theonomy) mutually exclusive? I don't see why they would be.
2) Probably fair, I don't know about Bahnsen's particular views, but again, are the two views mutually exclusive or is the critique that (some) who hold to theonomy also do not hold to the establishment principle? Again, that's not a critique of theonomy but of some of the people behind it.
3) Good, that's important and consistent.
4) I know Bahnsen held to this, even if he didn't go to the extent of exclusive psalmody.
5) Bahnsen self-identified as post-millennial and seemed consistent with what I know of historic post-millennialism.
6) Bahnsen seemed to have a two-kingdom view, from what I can tell
7) Not sure Bahnsen ever went there, he saw it as a grass-roots movement rather than top-down, from what I can tell
8) Bahnsen does deal with it though, from what I can tell, he just doesn't think it is sufficient without special revelation. Seems hard to disagree with that.

Are any of these mutually exclusive with theonomy? From what I can tell, Bahnsen's idea of "theonomy" didn't think so.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
1) Fair, but nobody besides covenanters believe that so it's hardly a critique of theonomy alone. Are the two (covenanting and theonomy) mutually exclusive? I don't see why they would be.

If you accept all of what Covenanters believe under one heading, then yes, they are mutually exclusive. Bahnsen and the Theonomists specifically attacked Covenanter thought in God and Government: Four Views

Per (4). Historic Covenanter thought (and Reformed thought) held to a historicist unfolding of the end times. Preterism rejects that. Although I am not a preterist, I reject that, too.

(7) A grass roots movement is getting our man elected to office. That's how it works.
8) Bahnsen does deal with it though, from what I can tell, he just doesn't think it is sufficient without special revelation. Seems hard to disagree with that.

He mentions it in his course on Political Ethics, but it's just one lecture. He doesn't deal with it in detail except to rebut Geisler on certain points.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
I haven't read all of Bahnsen's thoughts on this so I'm just going off of this one quote of Bahnsen...but I'm just not seeing what you're saying. He clearly states that the "judicial law, as a constitution, has expired". Then he says that despite that, the general equity of the judicial laws (not the laws themselves, as you just stated) are still required. And he cites WCF 19:4, which would be extremely odd if his sense was the opposite, as you indicate.

There seems to be a distinction to me.

That's why Brian Scwhertely, himself a theonomist, criticized Bahnsen on this point. You cannot simultaneously say that the OT law applies in exhaustive detail unless specifically rescinded and say that it has expired except for the general equity.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Senior
Jacob,

You may be privy to a lot of information I'm not. I admit I'm relatively ignorant on the topic and I'm sure you've studied quite a bit, given your history. But I do find the conflation of various views and various theonomists to be a bit bewildering, not to mention the direct re-wording of Bahnsen's quote to mean something it specifically does not say (again, perhaps from some other source). I'm not interested in grinding an axe against theonomists in general or in particular, I'm just trying to get a better view of what the controversy and criticism of Bahnsen might be, from a confessional viewpoint. I just have to say I find it awfully hard to swallow that Bahnsen was so blatantly logically inconsistent as to say what you're making him out to say. I do believe in nuance.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Jacob,

You may be privy to a lot of information I'm not. I admit I'm relatively ignorant on the topic and I'm sure you've studied quite a bit, given your history. But I do find the conflation of various views and various theonomists to be a bit bewildering, not to mention the direct re-wording of Bahnsen's quote to mean something it specifically does not say (again, perhaps from some other source). I'm not interested in grinding an axe against theonomists in general or in particular, I'm just trying to get a better view of what the controversy and criticism of Bahnsen might be, from a confessional viewpoint. I just have to say I find it awfully hard to swallow that Bahnsen was so blatantly logically inconsistent as to say what you're making him out to say. I do believe in nuance.

I was a militant disciple of Bahnsen's for years. My former pastor lived with him for a while. Another pastor of mine edited his book on Van Til. I've held unpublished manuscripts in my hands.

I'm not conflating anything. I'm referencing key works like God and Govt where Bahnsen and Co. attacked Covenanter thought.

I didn't say he was so logically inconsistent on all points. I am saying his thesis was untenable in key areas. What most proponents and critics of Bahnsen don't understand is that theonomy was only a sub-section of his larger project. The Title of his book is Theonomy in Christian Ethics, not Theonomy is Christian ethics.

I've listened to his 90 lecture course on normative/situational/personal ethics several times through. Bahnsen on modern ethics/philosophy is quite good. Wittgenstein was his specialty. Earlier Christian thought, not so much.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
To cut a long story short, I still argue that Greg Bahnsen was clearly much closer to the earlier Reformed tradition in maintaining that there was much greater continuity regarding the OT penal sanctions than most of his critics were willing to acknowledge. I believe that he harmed his case by unnecessary overkill in relation to Matthew 5:17ff. While I am no Greek scholar, his assertion that πληρῶσαι means confirm seems far-fetched at best. Also, it would have been much easier to have argued for continuity on the basis of natural law/common equity rather than "The Abiding Validity of the Law of God in Exhaustive Detail." Yes, I know what he meant by this statement, but, as John Frame pointed out, it dies the death of a thousand qualifications.

So, on the one hand, Dr Bahnsen did a great service to the Reformed church in calling it back to a more confessional understanding of the judicial law. On the other hand, he harmed his own case by not sufficiently building a case for continuity in terms of natural law and common equity. Of course, we have the advantage of having access to a zillion more Reformed scholastic sources than he ever had in his lifetime.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Senior
To cut a long story short, I still argue that Greg Bahnsen was clearly much closer to the earlier Reformed tradition in maintaining that there was much greater continuity regarding the OT penal sanctions than most of his critics were willing to acknowledge. I believe that he harmed his case by unnecessary overkill in relation to Matthew 5:17ff. While I am no Greek scholar, his assertion that πληρῶσαι means confirm seems far-fetched at best. Also, it would have been much easier to have argued for continuity on the basis of natural law/common equity rather than "The Abiding Validity of the Law of God in Exhaustive Detail." Yes, I know what he meant by this statement, but, as John Frame pointed out, it dies the death of a thousand qualifications.

So, on the one hand, Dr Bahnsen did a great service to the Reformed church in calling it back to a more confessional understanding of the judicial law. On the other hand, he harmed his own case by not sufficiently building a case for continuity in terms of natural law and common equity. Of course, we have the advantage of having access to a zillion more Reformed scholastic sources than he ever had in his lifetime.
Even as a Theonomist, I really appreciate this analysis. Do you have any recommendations or could you point me in the direction of what you consider to be a good example of "arguing for continuity on the basis of natural law/common equity"?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Cancelled Commissioner
Even as a Theonomist, I really appreciate this analysis. Do you have any recommendations or could you point me in the direction of what you consider to be a good example of "arguing for continuity on the basis of natural law/common equity"?

Richard J. Ross's article, 'Distinguishing Eternal from Transient Law: Natural Law and the Judicial Laws of Moses' in Past & Present (2012) is probably the best place to start (see this link if you do not have access to OUP's articles).
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
what is the proper term for those who advocate a merging of the two?

Merging church and state in practice means putting one in control of the other. The view that the state should control the church is known as Erastianism. The view that the church should control the state is known as Popery.

Establishmentarianism is the view that the church and state are distinct with mutually exclusive spheres of jurisdiction, and that each ought to be mutually supportive of the other.

(Voluntaryism is the view that church and state should be entirely separate and that the state should treat the church on an equal footing with other (secular) clubs and societies, and with false religions - this is the popular view in the US since it is essentially the position of the US constitution.) Edit to point out that in practice Voluntaryism generally tends in the direction of Erastianism, as the complete separation of church and state generally ends up being impossible, and where they interact, Voluntaryism has no mechanism for rejecting the jurisdiction of the state in anything, so ends up having to acknowledge that the church should submit to the state in everything, which is essentially the Erastian position.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top