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Tom
Tom
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#45286 - Wed Oct 13, 2010 8:12 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Tom]  
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Tulipman Offline
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Hi Tom,

You picked up on the right thing about how that statement doesn't sound very Amillenial, but first let me clarify; To "Christianize" here simply means the effect in a society of turning the population towards Christ...you're not disagreeing with me there. The elect are saved by the proclamation of the Gospel.

However in Postmil, most hold that one day the vast majority of earth will convert and most theonomists are Post....in the context of my discussion with Peter I was emphasizing how those Postmil Theonomists believe that the Christianizing of nations comes from properly from Christianizing the masses through preaching the gospel and not by the imposition of the Mosaic Law, a misconception some have about theonomy. That's probably where I threw you...I was speaking about majority of theonomists who are Postmil so my fault not yours.

-B

#45287 - Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:01 AM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Tulipman]  
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Robin Offline
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I have always thought that the only major difference between Postmils and Amils is in their views of what the Lord will find on the earth when He returns: Postmils say He will find a world largely converted to Christ and governed by godly men - a "Christian culture" being predominant on the planet; and Amils say He will find a tiny, persecuted remnant "purified" by their suffering, and rescue them.

Attempts to "hasten the Lord's coming" by using the civil magistrate to enforce "Christianity" have historically failed. And some have done incalculable damage to the Church. That is the great temptation of a Postmil eschatology I guess.

-R

#45298 - Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:11 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Robin]  
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Robin with all due respect I would say that is the great temptation of any society that tries to use the civil authority to enforce the civil laws of Israel upon society. True Posties see the change wrought upon society via the gospel and changed lives Theonomic Posties see the Christianizing of society via the use of the law: Again I'll quote Ray Sutton:

Quote
Many sound Christians have exercised influence there [i.e., the political and social arena]. They have held political office. But more often than not they have not ruled by the Bible, particularly God's law. Rather, men such as Abraham Kuyper believed in the rule of natural law, even though he implemented some fine Christian legislation. So, after Kuyper the present age of decadence began. Why? Because the Bible and God's law were not set up as the rule. Christians ruled, in other words, but they did not establish Christian rule, namely under God's Law.


Sutton's quote is illustrative of those who say that they want to change via the gospel but in actuality once they are established into office they want to impose the law of God upon the unregenerate. This isn't the same as the traditional postmillennial view which saw the gospel as the vehicle that changed the culture.

Boettner:
Quote
We have defined Postmillennialism as that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness and peace commonly called the 'Millennium.' It should be added that on postmillennial principles the second coming of Christ will be followed immediately by the general resurrection, the general judgment, and the introduction of heaven and hell in their fullness.


Peter

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself. Augustine of Hippo
#45299 - Sun Oct 17, 2010 5:06 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Peter]  
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We are completely agreed on the subject, I think, Peter. My friend Dan likes to describe old-style Postmillennialism (or "true Postmillennialism" if you prefer) as "Optimistic Amillennialism" because of it's emphasis on the transforming power of the gospel rather than reliance upon the State to impose "Christian character" on an unregenerate population.

That said, I do believe that civil laws sooner or later boil down to someone's idea of "morality," whether Christian or not. Most folks, Christian or not, agree that laws against the use of force and fraud in the ordinary dealings of citizens is immoral and therefore good for the State to enforce, but that religious laws or laws that impose religious values on the population are "immoral."

-R

#45300 - Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:39 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Robin]  
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Originally Posted by Robin
That said, I do believe that civil laws sooner or later boil down to someone's idea of "morality," whether Christian or not. Most folks, Christian or not, agree that laws against the use of force and fraud in the ordinary dealings of citizens is immoral and therefore good for the State to enforce, but that religious laws or laws that impose religious values on the population are "immoral."

Interesting that you should mention this. evilgrin

See here: Libertarianism's Folly

All disclaimers apply. wink


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simul iustus et peccator

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#45301 - Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:04 AM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Pilgrim]  
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Robin Offline
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Every criticism of Libertarianism I have ever read includes one also found in that article, completely ignoring the distinctions between moral laws against force and fraud and those that don't involve force or fraud in any way. A comparison of recreational marijuana use (which involves neither force nor fraud) with rape, or with abortion (both of which involve the use of force applied against an unwilling recipient) is completely illegitimate.

I do agree though, that a truly libertarian society could only exist among a moral people, just as George Washington warned. When the people abandon Christian values, liberty without morality becomes a liability; the people become wanton and savage, and the society is doomed to decline and self-destruct.

But neither extreme - merging Church and State as some so-called Theonomists would do; nor creating a pure Libertarian state with no civil penalties for immoral behavior - is appropriate in a society like that of my own, with a rich Christian heritage abandoned several generations ago. The answer is a God-sent revival among the remnant of His people, who should influence the culture as salt and light instead of imposing "Christian" values on God-haters using the power of the State. Republics give way to Empires because liberty only works in a moral society. When the society abandons morality, it must also surrender liberty, or else suffer decay, collapse, corruption, and even conquest.

-R

#45302 - Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:37 AM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Robin]  
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Tulipman Offline
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Robin,

I presume by "Christian values" you mean those that Christians find either in the Bible, or that are entirely in accordance with the Bible? or like Dr. Ligon Duncan seems to suggest, are we able to invent Christian value as something new as we go along, using the Bible as an ideas generator?


re "merging Church and State as some so-called Theonomists would do;" Your statement suggests that you may be unaware that Theonomy, while advocating Mosaic law and Old Testament precedence as the foundation for the civil law of any nation, does not by any means promote the union of Church and State. God's law is universally true because truth is one, isn't it? When our countries pass laws that say murder is a crime, is just a little bit of mixing of Church and State? Or is the Church still separate? Would it be a mixing of Church and State if blasphemy against the true God is a crime? Or could the governance of our State still be separate from the Church? Let's not equate "Church" with "morality" as if they mean the same thing. If a Theonomist does advocate a union of Church authority with State authority, then you are quite right that they would be only "so-called" Theonomists.....or maybe my blurbage above is what you meant already. I digress.

re "....or creating a pure Libertarian state with no civil penalties for immoral behavior is appropriate in a society like that of my own, with a rich Christian heritage abandoned several generations ago" I wonder, where would a pure Libertarian state with no penalties for immoral behaviour ever be appropriate in our God's world? Again, your statement seems to suggest that righteous law-making is only appropriate for countries that used to have a lot of Christian influence. Would it be an evil thing, a wrong thing, or inappropriate if today Somalia passed laws honouring to God?

re "The answer is a God-sent revival among the remnant of His people, who should influence the culture ". If everybody was a Christian, there would be no more "influence" necessary, am I right? We would all be on the same page, so to speak. To talk of influencing the culture still presumes a situation of Christians in a culture full of, or containing, non-Christians in which case, wouldn't your influence be an imposition to the non-Christians there? Your statement also seems to suggest that we have no right to control the culture, only influence it, that we must abandon real authority to non-Christians and come at them obliquely with our "influence." If that's your belief, 'm not sure where you'd get that.

So if the predominant philosophy/culture of a society is indeed non-Christian, and by our great bulk of numbers in a revival we add our overwhelming influence, would this not mean that our Christian influence is being imposed upon people who are not Christians? And is this not just the sort of behaviour you condemn theonomy for?

If "influencing" the culture does not mean the actual establishment of anything formally "Christian", ie Biblical, in the civil law of the State, then do you envision a society where immorality is entirely legal by the Government but people aren't choosing the immoral way because they're all Christian? Abortion is payable on demand because governments do evil, but nobody has an abortion anymore because they don't believe in it? I wonder if that's the acceptable version of a non-theonomists ideal state.

Is it acceptable for a country's laws to be evil simply because there are no Christians in it? Or should a country's laws be in line with "Christian values" and thus honouring to God whether or not there are Christians there? Is it more appropriate to have evil laws now if a country has no rich Christian heritage such as yours?

People think that it's only ok to be a Christian country because you have Christians in control, or because in some opinions it once was Christian. But I don't believe it is ever right, objectively true and proper before God, for any country to be immoral just because it lacks a Christian head-count, or used to. Our presence does not create the rightness of God's law in society, God's presence does and when people make assumptions that we only have the moral right to insist on moral right just because we're there, we commit the sin of relativism committed by the empiricists.....that a tree does not exist when no human eye sees it, that there is no propriety to enact a God-honouring law when there are no Christians to follow it, to which I respond as I have responded elsewhere on this site recently, and which I now amend to suit our discourse;


There once was a man who said God
must think it extremely odd
when he finds that the rules continues for fools
when no Christians are here in the Quad.

The rely came;

Dear Sir,

Your astonishment's odd
for I am always about in the Quad
and that's why the rules continue for fools
since observed by

Yours Faithfully,

God.

Remember, God annihilated Sodom and Gomorrah not because the communities were immoral in spite of a 51% majority of Godly men who testified to the truth, but because the cities were evil. Period.

-Barry








#45303 - Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:35 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Tulipman]  
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Robin Offline
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All righteous civil laws ultimately, I think, find their origins in God's word. In a perfect world of righteous people, Libertarianism probably would work. In the world we live in, pure libertarianism is bound to fail, since the civil law would be grounded not in God's word, but in whatever seems right in the eyes of those in power.

My use of the words "so-called" was in reference to what passes as Christian theonomy today, not in historic Christian theonomy.

I am not well qualified to debate much on this subject, since my only real exposure to anything like it has been in a non-Reformed, Charismatic-style "Kingdom Now" theology, and in evangelical efforts to "hasten the Lord's coming" which were aimed at getting Republicans elected rather than being salt and light and "conquering the culture" by means of the gospel lived out and demonstrated.

My further contributions to this thread would be the fruitless ramblings of a kid making uneducated guesses more than informed debate. Thus I won't attempt to justify any position, but rather ask questions to clarify things that seem unclear to me.

For example, the observation I made earlier:
Quote
I have always thought that the only major difference between Postmils and Amils is in their views of what the Lord will find on the earth when He returns: Postmils say He will find a world largely converted to Christ and governed by godly men - a "Christian culture" being predominant on the planet; and Amils say He will find a tiny, persecuted remnant "purified" by their suffering, and rescue them.


Is that an accurate summary of the difference, or have things changed in the common definitions of Amil and Postmil? Apparently the common understanding of the word "theonomy" has been changed by to refer to the views of more recent writers like Gary North. It looks like it has changed to one of more political activism in recent times than one of the "cultural conquest by the gospel." Is that correct as well?

Respectfully retreating so as not to confuse myself any further,

Robin

#45304 - Mon Oct 18, 2010 9:27 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Robin]  
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If I sound too much like I know what I am talking about, then it is to the degree that I have a brain to think (therein lay my limitations) and a Bible to read. I've read precious little about theonomy and am not it's best student, so you are in good company. We needn't read much Calvin and to an arminian look like a Calvin PhD. Folks here on the forum are mostly honest, direct, and inquisitive and we're all learning, far as I'm concerned. So ask away.

And still slightly on point, you do have the problem there of American context...a problem not because a Christian there can't be American in their topical approach to matters (what else could they be in local matters?) but that so much of the latter development of theonomy is/was in the US by Americans talking about the context of American politics, including all the rhetoric of the American right, which does not always help us. But I think you've already overcome that when I read that you are focused now on "being salt and light and "conquering the culture" by means of the gospel lived out and demonstrated." Don't do like Duncan did and look elsewhere for what to conquer with....you have the Law.

I had the pleasure once of being at a Reformed (Baptist) Church in the States one Sunday July 4th. The sermon was usual, not nationalistic, people didn't worship draped in flags and they weren't lighting off firecrackers during the picnic....you could have been in Canada and not have been able to tell the difference (except you guys say "about" kinda funny) but people focused on the Lord. I have to say, I was suprised...I thought all American Christians blended Jesus with America like a John Haggee, especially on a July 4th. But they didn't. I felt more like I was in a Christian brotherhood than I ever had. Next day things got wierd, but in a good way. You guys spend a lot of money on firecrackers.

And in just that way you, indeed most of us, already have what is needed to understand the theonomic approach to the society around us...as the Baptist Catechism and Westminster say, we have the light of nature in us and the works of God around us and that is sufficient for us to all be judged by him for not submitting to him....the people in Noahs day and at Sodom had the same criteria and suffered the same wrath and neither had much of Godly heritage in theonomy so far as we know. And we have the Word giving us greater detail than common man can know and that's it...that's all we really need I think. So don't worry about not being studied ... it wearies the flesh to read it too much.

"the only major difference between Postmils and Amils is in their views of what the Lord will find on the earth when He returns: Is that an accurate summary of the difference, or have things changed in the common definitions of Amil and Postmil?" I would say you're right. Amillenialism is a form of postmillenialism, and is generally taken to precede it in Church history in case that statement suggests to anyone that Amil came from Postmil. Postmil gave a new impetus to hurry up and prepare for theonomic bliss because that's what's needed before the end can come. I've always been convicted that he could return right now, save for the fact that there are elect left to save, thus the purpose of the great Commission and thus the implication of theonomy for societies. That is the purpose of history, to save the uttermost, not to muck around making suitable arrangements like a war here or there or Apache helicopters launching stinger missiles at Jack Van Impe. Or even making a theonomic society; that's not a criteria for the end, though it should continue to be our ethic until the day he arrives. We're supposed to do be doing that because, much more simply, it is the right thing to do. Churches should be governed after the law of God, families should be governed after the law of God, and so should our own Christian lives and all the while show how we love the law...there is no flaw in it and it was a graceful act of God to give it. And with all my reason, and all my Bible it is sufficient for me that all the world should submit to his revealed law now....all the world will be judged accordingly by it sooner or later.

"Apparently the common understanding of the word "theonomy" has been changed by to refer to the views of more recent writers like Gary North"

Not among theonomists it hasn't changed. That the Bible teaches that all the world should submit to God, from the individual, through families, all the way to state level, is unchanged by the fact that Gary North wants a Christian America.. Can you sense how those are subtly different things? North et al are simply being particular in the application of a universal principle. We must all do that...I must do it here for my own country, too. But that Canadian aspect I may apply to theonomy for Canada does not nullify all of theonomy, nor does it change it universally. Once you read Gary North et al, you see they are not trying to define theonomy, they are trying to take the universal truth of it and apply it to one country in one time. If different theonomists in the US want to apply it differently this way or that, great...that's called political debate and it is a great tradition, it is part of what healthy debate and sharpening the ideas is all about. Where would America be if it's founders gave up on the notion of "America" just because some people had nutty ideas about it? The crude, crass, ore being fashioned by Rushdoony and North and DeMar and Bahnsen today is just to get the fire lit so that real examination can get going....what it will ultimately be still remains to be seen and even they are ALL humble enough to admit that, at least in the texts I've read. Applications in theonomy are in their infancy because the rebirth of the doctrines of grace are still going on around the world. Like the way in which collectible cars increase in number by moving from mass production to being kept, true Christians may become more apparent in a society, more refined and outstanding, but that's probably just because the hoy polloy is being consumed around them. We're not really growing like Postmils might say, it just seems that way because we're being refined. But more minds doing more work seeing farther may yet produce the right reconstruction, the good theonomy, for a particular time and place. The key is to continue, and not give up, on thinking as Noah did and as Abraham did, thinking theonomically despite the fact that not all the world is turning to God.

Theonomy is right and proper for a Christian to believe. If North is too polemic or some moron tells you all Baptists or Presbyterians would have to die under theonomy (oh yes, in the infant years all manner of wierd sounds are made) then that is still no reason to abandon it for the ethical relativism of human autonomous thinking that got us all here in the first place. Forget North if you want to, and examine a less polemical theonomy in Bahnsen or let's just take our Christian minds to Scripture and just read it, and then read the newspaper, then read the Bible, then read the paper, then the Bible and it really will not take any confessing Christian long to to understand...theonomy is a way of thinking, about anything, including a way of thinking about our society.







#45309 - Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:05 AM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Tulipman]  
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Robin Offline
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Thanks, Barry.

I think you would have been pleased had you worshiped with us at my (PCA) church on July 4th as well. We simply continued with our study of Isaiah and the song service was in keeping with the sermon content, not the date. It's not as uncommon as you might expect. Though it probably was much more rare a few years ago when American evangelicalism had almost as much faith in the Republican Party as it did in the Scriptures.

Since the party betrayed it's Christian base of support, however, it may never recover. Incumbents even in the GOP are being rejected if they have any history of voting against our values. Many have rejected the Republican party altogether and have found our way to "minor" political parties, but most importantly, I hope, evangelicals have learned a lesson from this long-term betrayal by the party they once had so much faith in: That it is God alone in whom we should trust, not in horses, chariots, wealth, nor even Grand Old Parties.

-R

#45313 - Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:17 PM Re: The Quote By J. Ligon Duncan & The Way Of Theonomy [Re: Tulipman]  
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Tom Offline
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Tom  Offline
Needs to get a Life

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Kelowna, British Columbia, Can...
Barry said:
“Theonomy is right and proper for a Christian to believe. If North is too polemic or some moron tells you all Baptists or Presbyterians would have to die under theonomy (oh yes, in the infant years all manner of wierd sounds are made) then that is still no reason to abandon it for the ethical relativism of human autonomous thinking that got us all here in the first place. Forget North if you want to, and examine a less polemical theonomy in Bahnsen or let's just take our Christian minds to Scripture and just read it, and then read the newspaper, then read the Bible, then read the paper, then the Bible and it really will not take any confessing Christian long to to understand...theonomy is a way of thinking, about anything, including a way of thinking about our society.”

You will get no argument from me about thinking biblically about everything. All mankind is ultimately responsible and without excuse for not thinking biblically.
However, only Christians can and will think biblically.

Robin mentioned being “salt and light” and other that I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but what you seem to be saying would involve not only Christians thinking biblically, but everyone. That is highly unlikely seeing that unregenerate man thinks autonomously.
Am I misunderstanding you scratch1

Tom

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