Theonomy

  • An Introduction to Theonomy and Reformed Confessions

    religion and politics

    Heresy is declared by an ecclesiastical court after due process and adequate trial. Individuals do not pronounce a position to be heretical, the church does. Critics of Theonomy make haste to build various strawmen, proceed to tar them well, grab the masses of churchmen by their emotions and then burn that baby real good. All those with forks and picks stand back, breath in the satisfaction of the toxic, charred remains of Theonomy and its so-called legalism.Only problem is that a strawman is exactly and only that. No matter how many of them you burn, the true position will keep moving forward. The self-gratification of feeling victory over a myth holds no gravitas. The truth wins. God’s Word prevails. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Is 40:8).

  • The war on drugs

    war on drugs

    The war on drugs has cost the western world. Australian civil governments have ploughed huge sums of money into policing, courts, rehabilitation programs, hospitals and other medical care, social security and a raft of other things. As always the bill is footed by Australian taxpayers via the theft of wealth redistribution. And we love it! We want more to be done by our civil governments. Why? Like the Jews in Moses' day, we love slavery. The food and drink are good.


    A pretty penny

    The drug war has cost the Australian taxpayer millions:

    war on drugs graph

    These Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) 2011 figures included "13,849 public and 6,928 private hospitalisations due to principal diagnoses related to illicit drugs...65,376 closed-treatment episodes...[and] the number of people in pharmacotherapeutic treatment in 2010–11 was 46,446." These figures are staggering but they exclude "social welfare payments made to those who are drug dependent." [1]

    Trying to solve drug addiction via civil government programs is a total drain on our economy and is a form of idolatry. It does not work and will not be blessed by God. History attests to this. The Bible tells us so. Whenever the civil government oversteps its God-ordained responsibilities, disaster/judgement is near. Ignoring the centrality of the Gospel of Jesus in dealing with addiction is costing us and our children thousands of millions every year; and many, many lives. We have been trusting in the untrustworthy. Our faith has been placed in the strong arm of civil government instead of individuals, families, churches and private organisations. 

    Drug addiction is a Gospel issue

    The same 2011 AIC figures attributed approximately 974 deaths directly to illegal drug usage.[1] What type of warfare is going to end drug addiction, crime and deaths? This is a good question. As Christians, we must ask; "by what standard" are we to design a solution? Do we run into the open arms of secular humanism's wisdom or do we return to the Scriptures?

    Only Gospel centred counselling can destroy drug addiction and its nihilistic lifestyle. But whose gospel? Many conservatives and Australian Christians desire this warfare to be fought by the civil government. Salvation via the messianic state. Our father who art in Canberra must act and save his children who have "waywardly" become involved in "illegal" drugs. This is achieved through policing, civil government approved rehabilitation and clean, "safe" areas to inject oneself. Such a gospel and its arbitrary law is absurd. The civil magistrate is not God, he does not have the power unto salvation nor does he possess the authority to legislate anything other than the Law of God.

    So, again; "by what standard?" How should we address the problem of drug addiction in Australia? Through the Gospel of Jesus and His law of freedom. It is a worldview issue. No amount of civil government legislation or redistribution of taxpayer money can cleanse a person of their addiction and deliver them from death. Only the gospel of Jesus brings salvation (Mk 16:16, Jn 3:16, Acts 4:12), new life (Ro 6:4, 2 Cor 5:17) and a renewed mind (Ro 12:2, Eph 4:23).

    If we are serious about how Australians, our neighbours, are addicted to illicit drugs we must be serious about the Gospel. And we better stop truncating the sovereignty and authority of King Jesus. Only the Gospel of the crucified, resurrected, ascended and enthroned Messiah alone transforms lives, families and communities. Civil government programs are part of the problem. They ride rough shot over the kingship of Jesus and rob individuals, families, churches and communities of ministering to neighbours in need. If we really love our neighbour we ought to not give the Gospel ministry work of healing drug addiction to the civil state.

    Now let's filter out some background.

    The war on drugs

    What exactly is the war on drugs? Where did it come from and how did it start?

    The war is an international effort. It is not unique to Australia. President Richard Nixon's administration declared war on drugs in 1971. At that time John Ehrlichman was the President's domestic policy chief. He should know something about this nefarious war. Ehrlichman said this in an interview; "the Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did." [2]

    Our pet war was simply a political game play. It was never designed to deliver people from their addiction. It increased the ungodly power and limits of the civil government. And we bought the lie.

    Politics

    What is the basis for our law, "by what standard" are we to legislate? This is an important question. It is a theological hot potato. For decades modern evangelical leaders have shied away from the applicability of God's law to politics. We are eating the fruit of their and our unfaithfulness. Our societies are degenerating due to the myth of political neutrality. Politics and law cannot be approached within an ethical/religious vacuum. Our civil state passes legislation that determines what is good/bad, right/wrong in our society. Thus, by the very nature of the case, politics and law making are religious. The battle is over whose religion will be codified into legislation. Note that carefully. Don't let any secular humanist tell you otherwise. Law making is the codification of a religion. Scripture tells us that the civil government is the minister of God who must avenge evil with the sword (Ro 13). Civil government's duties are deeply moral. As a minister of God, the civil magistrate is to use the Word of God to determine good from evil. Paul clearly identifies law (and politics) as Gospel issues (1 Tim 1:8-11). Yes, pic the mic back up. A nation's laws are a Gospel issue.

    The very early church was confronted with the very same battle over sovereignty. These early Christians were told, surely there is no harm in pinching a little incense and admitting Caesar is the lord? Come on you sticklers, even Jesus said, give to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. Politics and legislation belong to Caesar, right? Now hang on a minute; let's think that through a little bit more. Caesar wants that which belongs to God - determining good and evil. Autonomous man in the civil state is always tempted with "did God really say that?"

    Let's be clear, all power and authority in heaven and on earth have already been vested in the God-Man, Jesus (Matt 28:18-20). All means all. The implication of this single word paradigm shattering. If Jesus has all authority then everything matters. If Jesus has all authority on earth then everything that happens on earth is important. Further than this. To assert that Jesus and His Law-Word has nothing to do with politics and law is to empty the Great Commission of its meaning. The Church's mission is covenantally bound to Jesus' authority. Because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth the Church is to go and disciple the nations. The Gospel is deeply political. Our good news is that there is a new King, Jesus, who demands all people everywhere to repent and subject themselves, their families, societies and nations to Him. Why? Because He has all authority and power in heaven and on earth. Words matter, a lot.

    In the Gospel, Jesus destroyed the earthly thugs and tyrannies. Through the humiliation and servitude of the cross, God destroyed and then recreated the world's power structure. Satan was dethroned. Jesus was enthroned. Satan thought that he thwarted the Creator of the universe. Through weakness, the strong, proud and arrogant were brought low in defeat. The Gospel is political. Deeply. Caesar or the civil magistrate must bow the knee to Jesus or face His wrath and judgement (Ps 2:10-12). Every law debated in our parliaments is fundamentally a moral issue. Whose morality should our civil government legislate? God's Law or that of autonomous, sinful man? Every Bible believing Christian should declare that our Australian parliamentarians must quietly bow the knee to King Jesus and reform our laws to reflect His Law-Word (Ro 13:4).

    This should drive us to ask, if Jesus is the new authoritative King and the civil magistrate is to submit to Him, then who determines what drugs are illegal and the associated punishments. If we answer this question Biblically we would drop to our knees and ask God to have mercy on us. God's Law-Word is the only objective truth to which our civil government ought to go in order to define crimes and their punishments (Ro 13:1-7, 1 Tim 1:8-11, Ps 2).

    There is a King above Caesar and He demands our civil governments implement His Law as the law of our land. Jesus does not accept lip service. He commands faithful obedience (Ps 2:10-12).

    Lier, lier, weed on fire

    Does the usage of so called "illicit drugs" bring about harm to individuals. Yes. Does it cost society? Yes. Does this mean the civil government has the authority to arbitrarily make certain drugs illegal? No. Our ultimate question remains, "by what standard?" The Law-Word of God, and it does not give the civil magistrate authority to arbitrarily outlaw and attach penal sanctions to certain drugs, period. 

    The system needs to be rolled back. Legislation and penal sanctions developed in the "war on drugs" political game has had enormous unintended consequences. Every law that makes a drug illegal creates a cartel and a black market. Ultimately users of so called illegal drugs will go bust funding their addiction. This leads to increased crimes in order to fund the addiction. Another unintended consequence is outlawing other application of a substance. Marijuana is the perfect example. This God-given weed can be used for a variety of medical issues. It is illegal in Australia. When our civil governments legislate outside of its God given sphere of sovereignty there are negative consequences. Plus, the "war on drug" laws presuppose that the government can redeem man. Only God through the gospel has the power to save those addicted to death and sin.

    If we want to address our nation's drug addiction we must see through the smokey haze of the political game plays. Next, Christians must realise that these games are played by liberals and conservatives, leftwingers and right wingers. Then, we must realise that this issue is moral/religious at heart and thus needs to be addressed with the Gospel at every point. Our duty is to urge our civil government leaders to repent and submit to the Lordship of Jesus in their life and work (Matt 28:18-20, Ro 13:1-7, 1 Tim 1:8-11, Ps 2). This will lead to a reduction in the number of Australian laws. Serpents' heads will be trampled and the bride of Christ will have Gospel opportunities in many areas of life.

    Where do we start?

    Repentance and worship. Our national drug addiction [3] is a moral/ethical/religious problem. It must be addressed with the Gospel by individuals, families and churches. The first issue is that of repentance. The gospel is "the power of God unto salvation" (Ro 1:16). Addiction is broken firstly by the Gospel. Once a man repents he is to walk in faithful obedience to the Law of God (1 Jn 5:3-5). This gives man dignity and responsibility. The imago dei (image of God) is valuable beyond all the creatures. He has worth in the eyes of His Creator. Further than this, when a man repents he gets to know that he has responsibilities before God. These responsibilities include looking after his body and taking up his position on the battlefield to advance the Kingdom. Nothing can thwart God; not even illicit drugs. Law does not save. As Christians we must repent of passing the buck to our civil magistrates and then vote for local, state and federal leaders who will honour the Law-Word of Jesus by reducing the size, power and authority of our civil government. This will take time; perhaps even many decades. 

    Please note that I am not proposing a simplistic solution; say a little prayer and then all will be well. No. Repentance and submission to the Lordship of Christ is the starting point. Individuals, churches and organisations are then to apply the Gospel to the counselling, treating and loving of drug addicts. We simply cannot continue in our idolatry by giving this ministry to the civil government.

    The civil government does not help drug addicts end their addiction. Civil government have used a two edged sword to hamper true healing: social security and illegalisation of the drugs themselves. Paying men to sit around and find a job is sinful. No civil government has the authority to take hard earned wealth from one man and redistribute it to another; full stop. Thus our social security system needs to be removed and replaced with individual, family, organisation and church based care. This will be accomplished over time, decades or even hundreds of years.

    Our profession of Christ as Lord matters. How we submit to His Lordship in all of life is important. Our Great Commission is not to silently look on as our nation is deformed into a secular humanistic hell; we must stand for the authority that Jesus has over our nation. We must apply our saviour's Law-Word to every inch of our lives, families, churches, societies and nation.

    We must refocus our war on drugs. It is a moral/religious issue. The Gospel of Jesus must be applied to the rule and laws of this land; only then will freedom, true freedom, triumph over our idolatry and addiction.

    End notes

    1. Cited on the Australian Institute of Crimonology website, 23/03/2016: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/rpp/121-140/rpp129/20-drug-abuse.html

    2. Cited on the Harper's Magazine website, 03/04/2016: http://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/

    3. Australian Crime Commission, IDDR 2013-14 Snapshot, cited 23/03/2016: https://www.crimecommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/IDDR-201314-SNAPSHOT.pdf

  • Theonomy and the Hobart grapevine 3

    Angry Priest

    Heresy rolls off the tongue. It’s orgasmic to discernment bloggers. Those who step outside the fundamentalist unbiblical tunnel vision are instantly castrated. Unfortunately, a few Hobart Christian leaders have evidently bathed in those blogs, or should I say bogs. Elements of two-kingdoms (2K) and radical two-kingdoms (R2K) theology seem to undergird at least some of the thinking of these leaders. A number of these men strongly oppose Theonomy. Goo was well and truly spat over our recent conferences. Some do not understand the position; while others continue to misrepresent it. Elements of 2K and R2K theology obscures everything.

  • Theonomy and the Reformation

    Heroes of the Reformation

    The 16th century Reformation transformed the western world. [1] Many of our societal freedoms were won by men like Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Knox, Bucer and the like. These men were used by God to impact the world and topple tyrannies. This was accomplished through a return to faithful teaching and preaching of the Bible. The Reformers thundered the Word. They were bold men and often spoke hard words. These men taught that the Word of God applied to all of faith and life. The Bible once again became man’s ultimate standard. Sola Scriptura pulled the rug from under the feet of ecclesiastical and political tyranny.

  • Theonomy on the Hobart grapevine

    angry protestant leader

    “Oh I heard it through the grapevine. Oh I'm just about to lose my mind.” Classic Marvin Gaye. Often Christians hear and discern "truth" via the Marvin hermeneutic. It is not a good thing. Gaye style gossip is sinful (Exodus 23:1, Psalm 34:13, Proverbs 20:19, Romans 1:29, Titus 3:2, James 1:26,4:11, etc). We are warned; “the first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). Should the grapevine be your source of truth?

  • Theonomy on the Hobart grapevine 2

    legalism

    Theonomy has been a little buzz word in some Hobart circles over the last few weeks. You can read my first article on the topic here. Let's recap, the theonomic soundbite:

    “The word ‘Theonomy’ comes from two Greek words, theos (God) and nomos (law). Together, these words simply mean ‘God’s law’…Theonomy is the biblical teaching that Mosaic law contains perpetual moral standards for living, including some civil laws, which remain obligatory for today” (Joel McDurmon - The Bounds of Love, pp. 12 & 24).

    I am continuing to briefly discuss concerns that I am aware of. Conversation is good. This certainly isn’t exhaustive nor is it the last word. If you have specific concerns/questions please contact me.

  • What is theonomy

    ten commandments large1

    The theonomic position as outlined by Dr Greg Bahnsen.

    Dr. Van Til taught us that "There is no alternative but that of theonomy and autonomy" (Christian-Theistic Ethics, p. 134). Every ethical decision assumes some final authority or standard, and that will either be self-law ("autonomy") or God's law ("theonomy"). While unbelievers consider themselves the ultimate authority in determining moral right or wrong, believers acknowledge that God alone has that position and prerogative.

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