Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I really, really do not like Theonomy

At various times on this blog I have written against theonomy. I have read the Christian Reconstructionists, and remain unconvinced by their exegesis. I do not think they understand the law—and they especially do not understand those aspects of the law that were, in effect, the civil code of ancient Israel—a nation that logically ceased to exist with Christ’s public ministry and literally ceased to exist on AD 70.

They provide no compelling explanation as to why Christ ignored the Law on many occasions. Christ encountered blasphemers galore, even mother-of-all “blasphemers of the Holy Spirit,” and not once did he call for them to be put to death as the Law demanded. Why? I think the only explanation is that Christ was, like us, a pilgrim on earth and a citizen of the kingdom of God, not of the effectively nonexistent nation of Israel. As a non-citizen of Israel, he was not under the "death-to-blasphemers" law.

Would a Christian nation be great? Well, not one achieved at the ballot box or in the courts. If the entire country converted to Christianity that would be fantastic—it would then, however obviate any perceived need to have “Christian Nation” codified into the law of the land. We would be a Christian nation because we would, as a nation, trust in God—and what was stated on our coinage would be rendered sweetly superfluous.

As I said, I am against theonomy on biblical grounds. This in spite of the fact that I am a Reformed Postmillennialist. While theonomists (which are not all that common) come from various theological perspectives, the intellectual footing for theonomy comes mostly from Presbyterian post-mills. Indeed, I count among my friends and acquaintances a handful of staunch theonomists, and to a person they are Reformed post-mills.

But today I want to point out that even if I wasn’t sure that you cannot support theonomy from the bible, for practical reasons it would scare me half to death.

Consider comments on this recent post from John Lofton of this transparently Christian Reconstructionist site. Commenter and fellow devout Christian Bill Nettles and I both disagreed with John, and for our unforgivable impropriety Bill was called dyslexic and I was given credit for the moral decline of the United States.

Now he is just one person, and there are those of all ideologies who cannot handle disagreement graciously—but it demonstrates why I would not like to live in a theocracy. (And why I am especially glad that the bible does not condone theonomy—if it did I would have to support it in spite of it being quite scary.) What would be the punishment for even mild theological dissent in such a nation? Would it be just name calling, or something worse?

As always I am reminded that I am a Baptist, and that we didn’t fare to well under (take your pick—Roman, Presbyterian, …) theocracies. Indeed, because of the treatment we received we invented the glorious and biblically sound idea of separation of church and state. Clever people, the Baptists.

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