Posted in theonomy

That Dirty Word Called Theonomy

Theonomy is a dirty word. For the uninitiated the term is the combination of two Greek terms: Theos (God) and nomos (law). “So then,” you might be wondering, “how is it a dirty word?” How indeed!

Sometimes I’m a bit naive and I make assumptions of others that I learn later were in error. Over a decade ago I did this in two different settings. The first was in a secular setting on a job I was running in Columbus, OH. The second was in a local church where I served as pastor. My subject matter was different in each situation, but I assumed too much on a commonality that I believed was sufficient grounds for civil conversation.

Let me share with you what happened in the secular setting first and then move onto the ecclesiastical one. Afterwards I will tie in the subject of Theonomy. I believe you’ll understand the connection without much effort.

Secular setting…

As I mentioned earlier I was running a job in Columbus, OH. It was on a new construction project, a rather large L-shaped building, that was to be an assisted living facility. My position was the HVAC foreman, and I was responsible for ordering, installing, and managing my team in the process. This type of job required that I become acquainted with all the other trades (e.g., electricians, plumbers, pipe-fitters, painters, etc.) as we were all expected to work together in a somewhat coordinated effort; so that, all steps of the building/finishing of the project were according to the schedule laid out for us by the general contractor.

The project was about two-thirds of the way done when my encounter with a window caulker occurred. I had returned from lunch and was heading from the rear parking lot towards one of the main entrances when I heard the man on his step ladder humming the melody of a well-known hymn. I thought, “Here is a kindred spirit that shares my faith,” and so, I attempted to start a conversation with him.

Now the day was warm and sunny, therefore my attire matched the elements. I had some worn jeans on and a sleeveless black shirt. About the age of 26 I began to enter into that stage of life that some men experience (male pattern baldness), and so, having been gifted with a nice dome from my Lord I began the ritual of cleanly shaving my head. My arms are tatted and my ears are pierced. So, I suppose outwardly I look anything but a Christian, least of all a pastor, nevertheless, I am both. Unfortunately, the man I struck up a conversation with. That fellow humming a familiar hymn. As soon as I spoke he looked me up and down arriving at the conclusion that the person speaking to hymn was a wolf pretending to be a sheep. He was anything but polite. Judgmental would be a better word. A very unpleasant encounter to say the least.

Ecclesiastical Setting…

My second encounter around the same time period happened after a lesson I’d given during a service. It was an election year and I used another dirty word (unknown to me): politics. What I had proclaimed from the pulpit is the universal nature of God’s Word. How it is intended to shape our thinking and acting in every area of life. No subject was forbidden. No matter is off limits as far as God is concerned, and this included politics. In particular, the way we ought to vote for a candidate. If the candidate is firmly planted on a platform that calls for the execution of the newly conceived, then any Christian worth his or her weight should not cast a vote for that individual. How could they in good conscience?

The individual in question, as soon as I was finished speaking, stood up with a Bible firmly gripped in one hand and a pointing finger on the other. On the verge of shouting, he explained to me that I was dead wrong. You would have thought I’d just finished blaspheming from the pulpit. His frustration was pouring from every facet of his being. His face was contorted with what I do not doubt was a righteous indignation on his part. Trying to reason with him went no where. Eventually, he stormed out of the sanctuary. His wife apologized for the spectacle. She told me that she doubted that he’d return. I kept my composure until after they left and then I hit my knees before the Lord praying for the man.

(Sidenote: Later that evening I received a call from the individual who attacked me, apologizing for his behavior. The following week he apologized to the church. The man is a solid believer. I believed this when he attacked me, and so I prayed for him. I told his wife as much when she left that service embarrassed. The Lord heard my prayer, and the believer repented. He became one of my strongest supporters before I resigned from the Nazarene denomination for issues pertaining to doctrine. I plan on seeing him and his wife in heaven one day.)

The Dirty Word called Theonomy

We have now come full circle. My point in sharing those experiences was illustrative. We sometimes make assumptions about people or teachings that are in error. Presuppositions are strong deterrents. This can be a good thing, if the presuppositions that we hold are correct. The first individual I spoke about made a judgment call about me because of how I appeared to him outwardly. He couldn’t reconcile what he believed a Christian should look like, with what actually makes one a Christian (the atoning life of Christ put upon those that trust in Him). The second individual struggled with seeing how his voting was an extension of His faith in Christ. The first individual never spoke to me again, even though I saw him for the a few more months before the job was finished. The second person did, and through consistent biblical teaching eventually laid aside his former convictions, adopting new ones.

I first encountered the word “Theonomy” in the writings of Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen. I had found a paperback copy of his book, By This Standard, while working on my Master of Divinity degree (2011-2015). After reading through it, I was convinced by the biblically based cogent arguments provided by Bahnsen that saturate every page. Here is the general synopsis that Bahnsen proves in this work:

“Fundamental to the position taken herein is the conviction that God’s special revelation—His written word—is necessary as the objective standard of morality for God’s people. Over against the autonomous ethical philosophies of men, where good and evil are defined by sinful speculation, the Christian ethic gains its character and direction from the revealed word of God, a revelation which harmonizes with the general revelation made of God’s standards through the created order and man’s conscience…

by this standard, 2

“Indeed, the Bible teaches that we should presume continuity between ethical standards of New Testament and those of the Old, rather than abbreviating the validity of God’s law according to some preconceived artificial limit…

by this standard, 2

“The methodological point, then, is that we presume our obligation to obey any Old Testament commandment unless the New Testament indicates otherwise. We must assume continuity with the Old Testament rather than discontinuity.”1

by this standard, 3

In other words, God has revealed to His people and through them to the world, the manner in which He intends for His creatures to live righteous lives. This ethic applies to all, including even the civil government over us, who are in reality, according to the testimony of the apostle Paul, God’s ordained ministers for good (Rom 13.1-5). A little later, Bahnsen continues,

“Christ said that the attitude which is genuinely godly recognizes the moral authority of God alone, does not question the wisdom of His dictates, and observes every last detail of his word. This is man’s proper path to God-likeness…[Moreover,] those who are not striving to become rivals to God by replacing His commands according to their own wisdom will rather endeavor to reflect His moral perfection by obeying all of His commands.”

By This standard, 47, 48

To be an image bearer means to reflect the One in whose image you’ve been created to mirror. According to Christ, says Bahnsen, God is concerned that our mode of operation is to submit to His divine word as an ethical standard that cannot be deviated from. So far so good?

One would think that all Christians would find commonality in this standard of ethics revealed in Scripture and proclaimed by Bahnsen (among others of his ilk). Yet, that is not the case. In fact, much to my own astonishment (initially at least) there are many who, bearing the name of Christ, kick at every jot and tittle laid before them from God’s Law-Word. Much of the angst seems to be based on misunderstandings as to what has changed between the Old and New covenants. A direct equivalency is not what Bahnsen or other theonomists (like Gary North, David Chilton, or Gary DeMar) argue for.2 Bahnsen even notes this in the beginning of his work:

“The aim of those studies is to set forth a case in favor of the continuing validity of the Old Testament law, including its sociopolitical standards of justice. It is advocated that we should presume the abiding authority of any Old Testament commandment until and unless the New Testament reveals otherwise, and this presumption holds just as much for laws pertaining to the state as for laws pertaining to the individual. As already noted, such a presumption does not deny the reality of some discontinuities with the Old Testament today; it simply insists that such changes be warranted by Biblical teaching, not untrustworthy personal feeling or opinion.”3

By This Standard, 7

That being said “Theonomy” is still a dirty word in many Christian circles. Bahnsen had his critics. He wrote an entire book answering them in the follow up to this work entitled, No Other Standard. I have encountered the same sort of criticism since adopting this theological branch of study into my own Christian worldview. Regardless, I have found that when investigated at a foundational level the critics are the one’s standing on shifting sand. Not the other way around.

As of yet, I have hardly begun to answer the question, “Why is Theonomy viewed in such a negative light?” This will be a topic returned to at some future date. Until then….

For those interested I would recommend the following works:4

Bahnsen, Greg L. By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics. 1985.

_____________. No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics. 1991.

North, Gary, ed. Theonomy An Informed Response. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics. 1991.

____________. Was Calvin a Theonomist? Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics. 1990.

ENDNOTES:

1Greg L. Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985), PDF e-book. All emphasis in these quotes (throughout) are what Bahnsen stressed, not the particular whims of the current writer.

2An easy example for the reader to consider is found in Deuteronomy 22:8, which reads, “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it” (ESV).

A couple of things may be said about this verse. First, taking it as stated and trying to apply it exactly as written is not what a good theonomist would do. The reader would need to consider what a parapet is (a boundary marker or “fence” or “rail”) and what the historical setting entailed (flat-roofed homes were commonplace in the Middle East [and still are], first before attempting to apply it. The concern is to discern the direction and purpose of God’s Law-Word here. The Law-Word of God is meant to demonstrate the love of the image bearer; primarily for the Creator, secondarily for the neighbor (i.e., fellow image bearer). Secondly, the underlying principle would need to then be applied to the current cultural setting. An example today would entail building a rail around one’s deck. This would be set as a guard for the guests life. Notice that the law does not say that the railing or fence needs to be impassible, for it invites the conclusion that one might still fall and die, but it does state that if the individual in question does this kindness in submission to what God has revealed, then, if something undesirable does happen (like injury or death) the individual in question is innocent before the eyes of the Lord.

3The emphasis in this section is of my own doing.

4Anyone may get these books free of charge in their PDF version here: https://www.garynorth.com/public/2649.cfm

Posted in Biblical Questions

Questions about True Victims and the Immaturity of a People to Recognize the Difference

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'”

Gen 2:16-17; ESV

When I served as youth leader I was often asked questions about the beginning. This makes sense since such questions pertain to much of the substance and meaning of life: Why am I here? What purpose do I have for living? Am I an accident that slowly came out of a primordial soup, like biological evolutionist’s teaching in school? Am I just an animal, then? What happens when we die, is that it or is there something else?

Another question that was sometimes hurled at me was this: “Why were Adam and Eve told that they would die if they ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil?”

A related question that followed was, “Why do I suffer the consequence (sinful nature) of their sin?”

Good questions. These are the sorts of things that kids should be asking mom’s and dad’s everywhere. And, they should be the sort of questions that mom’s and dad’s ought to jump at answering. I know, I know not many parents teach their kids these things nowadays. Not many parents read to their children or teach their kids to pray, thanking God for the many blessings we receive each day throughout out lives.

What I would like to do today is offer a short answer to the underlying problem of the question proposed by children (and adults) regarding the eating of the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden, in the beginning.

“I thought you said it was a ‘good question,’ ‘the [sort] of things that kids should be asking…? So then, how can you say that there is an underlying problem with the question?” you ask. Very good. I’m glad that you were paying attention. Here’s the problem.

Who are the supposed victims when the question is being asked? God or mankind? When the punishment/consequence of the eating of the forbidden fruit is challenged it is on the grounds that “dying” is far too harsh. “All they did was eat a piece of fruit!”

Were they warned ahead of time of the punishment/consequence to follow if they did so? Yes, they were. “But dying! But passing on that death sentence to their children after them (an inherited sin nature)! That seems too radical!”

It does, why? You see, the supposition is that mankind (male and female; Adam and Eve) are the real victims here. But, they are the one’s who committed a transgression against a known law. If they are punished for violating the law, then why assume that they are victims? Bear in mind that this mentality has deeply seated itself into the very fabric of our society. The idea that a just punishment for a crime is too harsh, too inhumane is to make a victim out of the perpetrator.

I have heard this argument used time and time again in defense of those who break the law. We see those that show little regard for righteousness as somehow the victims of the system of law. This reveals, to me, the immaturity of our society at large. Our society thinks more like a child, than an adult.

Just in case you didn’t know the real victim in the garden when Adam and Eve decided to eat the forbidden fruit, was not the man and woman who were held accountable for their crimes against their Maker. The true victim was God their Creator. He gave them life. He gave them all that He had created. All He required is that they respect and love Him in honoring His Word. They refused. They spit in His face. They chose to rebel against Him and attempted to strike their Father in the face. The true victim in that act of eating the forbidden fruit was the Holy God whose word was violated, not the man and woman who treated Him so lightly.

The punishment was, therefore, just. Justice served from a righteous King. It really is too bad that so many in our world today fail to recognize true justice, true victims, true violations of the law, but can we expect anything less from a people who have been indoctrinated with lies. A nation who does not know its left hand from its right? Sadly, I think not.

Posted in Biblical Questions

Does the Bible Teach Personal Responsibility?

Does the Bible teach personal responsibility? Weeks ago I was challenged by a reader that seemed to suggest all of my talk about the biblical teaching of personal responsibility was baseless. He stated, “You talk a lot about personal responsibility. Does Christ ever talk about personal responsibility?”

On the surface the claim has an air of truth to it. If you searched in your Bible’s you will not find the phrase “personal responsibility,” or even a similar phrase like “self-governance.” Of course, there are other phrases, terms, concepts or ideas that you won’t find in your Bible’s expressed in the language of today. Here are a few examples: trinity, theonomy, dominion mandate (i.e., cultural mandate), reconstruction, reformation, dinosaur, etc. Jesus didn’t mention any of those by name. Does that mean they are not taught in the Bible?

Who said…

For some, you may be wondering, why I am equating “Did Jesus say?” with “Does the Bible teach?” I will grant the two do not necessarily coincide. But based on the conversation we had together my reader’s chief concern was that I was leaning heavily on tradition and not on biblical precepts. This in spite of the fact that we both were citing various texts to support our position.

There are those that will see the Christian faith in light of the “red letter” editions of the Bible. In other words, “If Jesus didn’t specifically state it, then it doesn’t apply.” Some who want to promote a homosexual lifestyle or the redefining of marriage will often use such arguments. In order to affirm what they believe is the essence of the Christian faith, they will say “Jesus didn’t specifically address it, and so it is not a real issue.”

There are a lot of things that Jesus didn’t do (he didn’t own a house, run a business, or get married), and there are a lot of things that Jesus did not specifically address (homosexuality, bestiality, incest, abortion, etc.), but that does not mean that He disproved of the former and approved of the latter. But those sort of things are spoken of directly or indirectly in the rest of Scripture.

I should note that I am not accusing the individual who raised the issue with me is saying that “only if Jesus says it, then I will believe it.” I do not know his position on any of those specific issues, but I am using his challenge as a stepping stone of sorts to address the area of concern he did raise in regards to personal responsibility as a biblical teaching coming from our Lord.

The Covenantal Lord…

Christ Jesus is Lord of both covenants; what are often referred to as Old and New. He is the fulfillment of what the Old pointed to, being the perfecter of the New (cf. Heb 8.8-13; 9.11-15). Jesus is the epitome of grace and truth and righteousness, being the exact imprint of the Holy image of the invisible God, in whom the fullness therein dwells (see John 1.1-18; Heb 1.1-3; Col 1.15-19). And it was the Law-Word of God that Jesus confirmed, upheld, and obeyed on all points (Matt 5.17-19), of which all person’s of faith in Him are likewise called to do (Rom 3.21-33). Meaning what? That what was taught in the Old Testament, regardless of whether or not Jesus specifically mentioned it, still holds.1

Answering the Objection…

Now I will answer the question (objection?) raised: Does the Bible teach personal responsibility? The giving of the Law presupposes the answer to be, without doubt, “Yes.” To give a law and say this is right and that is wrong, is to say you are personally responsible for doing what is right and abstaining from what is wrong. To show disregard for this truth and to act like our first-parents did in the garden is to invite the wrath of God. A reality disclosed by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:18,

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”2

ESV; emphasis added

Notice that though Paul begins with a general reference against all people, he then makes it very specific in identifying it was “by their unrighteousness” and no one else that God’s fearful judgment is weighed in the balance over them.

Not for his sin, but my own…

Here is a lesson that our generation would do well to learn. I am speaking specifically to those in the WOKE movement, adherents of the various “Critical theories” being perpetrated by a misinformed, misguided populace that profess themselves wise, but are anything but.

“Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.”

Deut 24:16; NASB

We are all personally responsible for our own sin. What my father did, or what my ancestors might have done, is by no means any fault of my own. In the same vein, I am not responsible for what my children do. We are all each personally responsible for how we govern our lives. If I steal or murder or bear false witness or covet or commit adultery against my neighbor, then I, and I alone, am responsible before God. If I fail to worship God alone, or fashion an idol in my heart, or blaspheme my Holy Creator, or refuse to honor my parents as a rightful authority over me, then I, and I alone, am responsible for my sin before God. No one else. I am to receive the just punishment coming, not my children. But, if it is my children who behave in such a way, then the just consequences of their sin will be weighed against them.

In short, I am guilty for my sins against God (primarily) and neighbor (secondarily) and no on else. Or, you are guilty, and no one else. This truth is repeated by the prophets of God at various places (e.g., Jer 31.29-30; Ezek 18.20). The weight of this Law alone clearly demonstrates that we are all personally responsible for how we govern our lives. We bear the guilt of no one else, but our own.

All this foolish talk nowadays about me being guilty because I suffer from “white privilege” or that I should have to pay reparations for the sin of man-stealing (forced slavery, chattel slavery) is a load of hogwash. I did not own slaves. I did not participate in segregation. I am not an ethnic bigot (i.e., racist). I am not guilty for those sins of the past, because I did not commit them. And neither are you guilty for the sins of others.

Some are often confused on this point in Arminian circles regarding Calvinist (Reformed) theology. We are not guilty before God because we bear the guilt of Adam’s sin. We are all guilty because we have all denied God our Maker and sinned against Him. What we receive from Adam is a consequence of his sin, a nature that has suffered loss. A nature, a will, that has been enslaved to sin. But our guilt is not from him, our guilt is from our own reprobate hearts.

And Yes, Jesus did say…

Remember that this whole question was raised because a reader challenged my presupposition that the Bible teaches personal responsibility, and a consequence for failing to govern oneself in light of God’s Word. In essence, the question (which is a good one, I shall not deny it) is did Jesus ever say such a thing? Yes, I believe that Jesus did say this, and He did it on more than one occasion. But since I only need one citation to refute the objection, I will close with one from our Lord.

In John 5, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath at the pool of Bethesda, “…who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years” (John 5.5). After asking if the man would like to be healed, the man confessed that he did but his own efforts for a remedy were to no avail. “Jesus said to him, ‘Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5.6). A little while later, Jesus sees the same man, and he offers the following advice:

“See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

John 5:14

Here we may draw an apt inference from this statement. Jesus is pointing out that the man is personally responsible for his own welfare. He is given sound advice on how to avoid something worse end up happening to him (i.e., negative consequence for failing to self-govern). “Sin no more….”

Our sin, for which we all bear personal responsibility, will be judged. In terms of salvation, there is hope, for Christ has paid the sinners debt (ultimate consequence), for all of those who place their trust (faith) in Him alone. His work covers a multitude of sins and sinners. Others, who refuse, will have to face the ultimate consequence for their sin, when they stand before His holiness. While this is true, be careful that you do not draw the erroneous conclusion that your sins—even if they are forgiven in Christ—will bear no negative consequences in this life. Although Christ’s work of redemption does offer forgiveness ultimately in an eternal sense, there is still a temporal sense where we suffer righteous judgments against our sin in this life. I could give you some examples, but if you think hard enough, I’m sure you can come to the answer of how this is the case on your own.

ENDNOTES:

1For the reader, I will add this little note for clarification. Jesus is the marker to which the entire Mosaic system pointed to. Some theologians will speak of the variances found within the Law of God (ceremonial, moral and judicial/penal distinctions). Christ upheld the moral aspects of the Law in His life never sinning. Christ will deliver final judgment in light of the judicial/penal sanctions required by the Law in the end. Christ has become the perfection of which the shadowy ceremonial laws pointed to in His death and resurrection.

Thus, all aspects of the law still hold in the Christian faith. We are required by God to uphold the Decalogue’s requirements, summarized in Loving God and loving neighbor. We receive forgiveness, mercy and newness of life in the true sacrificial Lamb of God, who is our true circumcision by the Spirit’s power putting to death the old man and walking in the new via God’s effective grace. And the penalties associated with the Law in light of covenant keepers and covenant breakers, still hold. These laws, which form our moral basis for living godly (i.e., good) lives have positive and negative sanctions to be applied in this life by God’s ministers in the civil government, and in the life to come at the great white judgment. In this way, all the law is to be upheld.

2The Scripture references shall be of the English Standard Version (ESV), unless otherwise noted.

Posted in politics

A Voter’s Conscience: Support for Donald Trump

I will be voting for Donald Trump this coming November for President of the United States, and I’m not the least bit ashamed of doing so. My support does not mean that I agree with everything he does or says. Nor does it imply that I approve of his previous life choices. But it does mean that I believe he is the most fit person for the position this election cycle.

Recently Tim Keller posited the argument in the Twitter-sphere that a Christian cannot tell a fellow believer who they should vote for (Biden or Trump). He has taken the position that to do so would be an attempt to bind the conscience of another; evidently, a severe “no-no” in Christian etiquette. To be honest, I find that a bit strange.

As a pastor, is it not the job of leading the flock of God by helping shape and mold their conscience in order to curb their behavior to pursue righteousness (i.e., right versus wrong living)? Keller goes on to argue that the Bible teaches many things, principles even that we may infer from, but it does not give us direct answers on some of today’s political issues. “Therefore,” says Keller, “we cannot insist that all Christians, as a matter of conscience, follow one or the other.”

The famed Protestant Reformer once argued on similar grounds.1 He stated when challenged to disavow some of his teachings, and in so doing condemn much of his writing, that unless they be

“…proved to be wrong by the testimony of Scripture…it is impossible for me to recant. [For] my conscience is bound to the Word of God. It is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. Here I stand. God help me. I cannot do otherwise.”2

Martin Luther, Diet of Worms, 1521 A.D.

However, there is a vast difference between what Luther defended as a matter of conscience and what Tim Keller is proposing.

Choking Spasms

Politics is an area deemed off limits for many in terms of religious convictions. To say that social policy (practice of politics) ought to be regulated in terms of religious beliefs causes a choking spasm for those who cherish the false dogma called neutrality. For those unfamiliar with my terminology its called being “bipartisan” in our day. To be partisan (i.e., following a particular party line and thereby denying the aforementioned cherished dogma) is extremely vilified by a great number of people. Sadly, it is not just those outside the Church of Jesus Christ who are so affected but those inside as well. What Keller seemingly wants is for us to be bipartisan in our approach to this election year, and he is not alone. The call for unity is being propagated on all fronts.3

You see, Trump plays by the beat of his own drum. He does what he believes is right, often times to the chagrin of others. He doesn’t play bipartisan politics, for his positions and the policies that he desires to enact are very partisan. This is one of the many reasons why Trump is so hated. He says what he thinks (sometimes not a good thing), and he doesn’t appear to give two thoughts to what others might say regarding it. Which is just another way of saying that he doesn’t succumb (in most cases) to peer pressure.

An Illustrative Ad…

One such example was sent to a few nights ago by a friend through a Facebook link that had the current president speaking about how he was for protecting the rights of the newly born. Why would he find a need to address that topic? Because there are leaders within this nation that are for infanticide. Governor elect Ralph Northam of Virginia is one such individual in favor of terminating the life of the newly born, as an extension of current abortion practices in this country. He once stated on a radio program that he’d have no problem after a baby is born having the mother and her doctor(s) discuss whether or not that child should live or be terminated.4

Such savagery is supported by many within the party of the Donkey.5 The termination of a mother’s offspring in the womb is one of the chief selling points (platform is the more formal term) for this party. Trump’s ad was no doubt a promise to his supporters (and some who are not) that he will not give even the slightest nod to such practices.

Weighing the Issues…

In light of such things, who should I support in the upcoming election? Should I follow Keller’s haphazard claim that it is wrong to attempt to bind the conscience of another?6 Bear in mind I am not talking about my personal standards (that would be self-righteousness), but God’s objective standard of truth. His ethical claim on what is right, holy and good.

“Oh, but you’re just being a one-issue guy. There are so many other issues that must also be taken into account. According to the Bible, we as Christians are to care for the poor. What’s Trump ever done for the poor!” comes the critic’s response.

I’m sure you’ve heard this argument. I’ve heard quite a few times from those that bear the name of Christ. The claim that we need to have a more holistic approach to political involvement rather than just focusing on one issue out of many. What of racism? What of employment? What of the sojourner? What about education? What about healthcare? Etc.

Ethical Considerations in light of Current Ethical Matters

Okay, what about those things? There is more than one way to approach such concerns. First, are all ethical matters weighed the same? According to our Lord they are not (e.g., John 19.11)

Ethics refers to right and wrong practices based off of some upheld (preferably objective) standard. So, are all issues of right and wrong measured the same? For example, it is it ethically wrong according to Scripture (which is to say, according to God) to murder another human being? Yes ,of course it is. Is it wrong to steal from another human being? Yes, of course it is. Is it wrong to lie about another human being? Yes, of course it is.

All of these things are ethically wrong, but are they all weighed the same? What is the penalty according to God’s holy law when someone takes the life of another unlawfully? What of theft? What of lying? Depends on the context of the sin committed.

If the murder was accidental then the penalty is less than if it was premeditated, but a premeditated taking of another’s life requires the death penalty (Numb 35.16-34). Whereas stealing normally results in paying back what was stolen by a factor of 2 or 4. But if the theft results in the enslavement of another’s life, then the death penalty is the result (Exod 21.16). The same could be said of lying. Lying about yourself or your neighbor is ethically wrong, but it is not a crime. Unless, of course, your lying is in a court of law in order to pervert justice. In that type of circumstance the liar (perjurer) will be held accountable by the court by the very punishment they sought to inflict on their neighbor through their lying (Deut 19.18-19).

A little kickback…

So, when someone says “yes, killing a baby in the womb or on the table after birth is wrong, but so is not caring for the poor!” my response is that they are not equitable in terms of injustice. Christians are commanded to love their neighbor (Lev 19.18), which means we are to be concerned for the poor, but God places more value on the life of another being wrongly taken (Prov 24.11). To kill is worse than to neglect the impoverished. One is a crime punishable by death (life for life, blood for blood), but the other is a wrong that the Lord above shall tally on His Day.

Identifying Differing Spheres of Governance…

Secondly, I would add that many of those other matters mentioned are not governmental responsibilities. Whose job is it to care for the poor? Is it the responsibility of the Church or the Civil Government? Does not the Lord lay that burden at the feet of His own in order to test their hearts (cf. Deut 15.7-11)? Isn’t it the responsibility of the individual as well to work so that they might eat (2Thess 3.10)? Not all of us will amass the same amount of wealth in this life (cf. Deut 8.18), but we are all required to be content with what we have been given (Phil 4.11-13). This is true in terms not only of talent and gifts and abilities, but in terms of accepting our station in life and not being envious of others around us (1Pet 2.1).

Education, healthcare, poverty, racism (i.e., tribal bigotry) are all biblical issues, but they are biblical issues concerned about self-governing individuals within the family and ecclesiastical governments. These are not issues that a free societies’ civil government are supposed to be dictating, monitoring, delegating. Though I am somewhat inclined to agree with those of Keller’s mindset in that the Bible gives many guiding principles in how one handles each area, and direct “This is how it must be done” commandments are naturally (and purposefully) limited by the Lord, there is a caveat that needs to be added.

God’s Law-Word does lay out what is holy, righteous and good (see Psa 119). The ethical norms prescribed in the Bible are more than principles from where one might draw from at leisure, but they are objectively prescribed measures by which all men, women and children are required to live by.

Closing Remarks…

To say that you are a Christian and that you can support the redefining of marriage, allow government sanctioned child abuse (called gender reassignment), stand by approvingly for theft from one group (“the haves”) in order to redistribute their property to another group (“the have-nots”), all the while having a seared conscience toward the millions of defenseless ones whose lives are snuffed out on a daily basis is asinine to the highest degree! To vote for a party that promotes the systemic abuses of power based on ethnicity is nothing more than calling evil good. And let us not forget that the freedom to speak against tyranny, against the abuse of power, and to proclaim the gospel message of Christ is being squelched by the party of Biden/Harris.

So as I said in the opening I will vote for the reelection of Donald Trump for President of the United States of America, and I hope others are wise enough to do the same.

ENDNOTES:

1When I say similar I do not mean that the intention of both men (Keller and Luther) is the same. Both use a similar form of the argument (speaking about not going against a bound conscience), but I tend to believe that Luther had a better idea of political climate in the 1500’s in his day than Keller does in our own. Not to mention the fact that Luther’s intention was to bind the conscience of fellow believer’s to trust in the justifying work of Christ on the cross over and above indulgences and any other service that the Pope or another leader might insist would help such individuals “work out their salvation.”

2Ray Comfort, Luther Gold: Pure. Refined, Mary Ruth Murray, ed. (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2009), 22. This was Luther’s testimony at the Diet of Worms before King Charles V of Spain in 1521.

3Should we seek unity for unity sake, or should we seek unity in light of the truth? Which do you suppose is the better path to live by?

4Andrew Kugle, “Northam on Abortion Bill: Infant Could be Delievered and Then ‘Physcians and the Mother Could Decide if it Lives,’” The Washington Free Beacon, January 30, 2019, https://freebeacon.com/issues/northman-on-40-week-abortion-bill-infant-would-be-delivered-and-then-a-discussion-would-ensue-between-the-physcians-and-the-mother/.

5In stating this fact, I am not denying that many within the elephant party are also guilty of such reasoning. The only difference, as of right now, between these two political parties is the rate (speed) in which they continue their descent into the abyss. Though the donkey’s are leading the race, the elephants are not too far behind!

6By the way, Keller’s tweets work in the opposite direction. If it is wrong to bind the conscience of another believer, then why is Keller attempting to bind the conscience of his readers that it is wrong to “bind the conscience” in political matters? In other words, his standard cuts both ways and is therefore not a consistent model to follow.

Posted in Worldview Analysis

Quarantine Who? Powerful Message of Loving One’s Neighbor by Upholding God’s Law Abiding Principles

www.youtube.com/watch

For those who have no voice, those who have been declared nonessential by those who are supposed to be representing ALL of us, not this segment versus that. Thank you Pastor Jeff Durbin for a challenging reminder of who we are called to love and how.