The folks who lament the decadence of the contemporary West most (who also happen to be some of the biggest whiners about 2k) seem to think that a return to God’s law in the United States would fix our social and political woes. Aside from the problem of finding unregenerate citizens who will follow God’s law, these law lovers do not grasp a fundamental point of U.S. legal and political life (and this may explain why the so-called Religious Right is so easily ridiculed).
1.) Does this mean that Darryl does not bemoan the decadence of the contemporary West or that he does not believe that the contemporary West has become decadent? Does this mean that R2K folks think the contemporary decadent West is just fine? I mean, after all, Darryl’s first few words in that block-quote above indicates that the only bemoaners of the decadent West are “whiners about R2K,” leaving us whiners to wonder why R2K’ers don’t bemoan wickedness.
2.) I know of absolutely zero Kuyperians or other standard vanilla Reformed folks who believe that a return to God’s law, absent a turning to the Priestly work of our great High King, Lord Christ, will fix our social and political woes.
3.) However, vanilla Reformed folks don’t advocate a return to God’s law because it will, absent of Reformation in the citizenry, fix our social and political woes but rather they advocate a return to God’s law because that is how God has revealed that our social and political order should be ordered.
I Timothy 1:9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
Calvin speaks on this text writing,
“(Paul) … maintains that the law of God was given in order to restrain the licentiousness of wicked men; because they who are good of their own accord do not need the authoritative injunction of the law.”
4.) So, Darryl seems to be disagreeing with both St. Paul and John Calvin who understood that the law must be advocated in order to control the lawless. Is Darryl advocating getting rid of laws against Murder (as one example) all because laws against Murder do not by themselves fix our social order in relation to our Murder problem? Is the answer to our pedophilia problems getting rid of laws that prohibit pedophilia? I mean, since unregenerate pedophiliac citizens won’t follow God’s law then obviously it is stupid for Christians to continue to advocate laws against pedophilia right?
(Is insanity accounted for by nurture or nature or belief in R2K?)
5.) Darryl refers to his opponents as “law lovers.” Does this mean that Darryl is a law hater?
6.) If we are not to return to God’s law for our social and political order problems then whose law would Darryl have us return to? To Allah’s law (Sharia)? To postivistic law (Humanist)? To Talmudic law (Jewish)? If we will not return to God’s law then whose law shall we be governed by? Or has Darryl gone all Randian on us?
For Americans, as well as the Brits before them, law is not simply the embodiment of God’s moral standards. Laws against stealing and perjury do, of course, reflect God’s righteousness. But legal documents like the venerated Constitution are not primarily about morality. They are primarily procedural. Such laws place limits on government. The Constitution, for instance, prescribes and limits the powers of each branch of the federal government. Such restraints are at the heart of the Anglo-American notion of liberty, namely, the idea that people need to be protected from arbitrary and despotic power. To enjoy a life free from a potentially coercive government, we as a people drew up a body of laws that were designed not to constrain the actions of individuals but to prescribe the power of the magistrate. Placing limits on the government for the sake of civil and religious liberties is at the heart of libertarianism and is a major theme in J. Gresham Machen’s thought and political activities. (Whether or not he was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, he was sympathetic to the ACLU, a sympathy that would drive the likes of Doug Wilson and Greg Bahnsen batty).
1.) Darryl will be pleased to know that R. J. Rushdoony agrees with him. Rushdoony, agreeing with Darryl, wrote that the Constitution provides us with “procedural morality, not substantive morality”. I’m sure Darryl will want to re-think his position not that he has learned that the great Theonomist Rushdoony agreed with him.
2.) If Machen was sympathetic to the ACLU he was completely uninformed about the origins of the ACLU, their original purpose and intent, and their ideological commitments. This being uninformed should drive any Biblical Christian batty.
3.) Is Darryl suggesting that any law from a government that coerces is therefore evil?
4.) Is Darryl suggesting that Kuyperians or other vanilla Reformed Christians who advocate for God’s law are against civil and religious liberty?
5.) Let’s remember the restriction of Congress to make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, was a restriction at the Federal level. States could still, and many did at the time, have established religions.
6.) Darryl says he stands for religious liberties but does he support the religious Liberty of the Hindu to preform Sati? Does he support the religious liberty of an American Indian to smoke Peyote as part of a religious ceremony? Does he support the religious liberty of a Muslim to enter into honor killings against wayward Muslim women?
I didn’t think so.
As such Darryl’s complaint about religious liberties is not consistent. Darryl wants to draw lines regarding religious liberty the same way I do. Darryl just wants to draw different lines. By what standard will we determine what religious liberty will be allowed and what won’t be allowed?
In short Pluralism is neither faithful to Scripture nor even logically coherent. (“Yes … Yes, I can here the R2K’ers saying now, “We have to live with hyphenated lives that may not seem coherent.”) Contrary to the demand that all the kings and judges of the earth, “serve Jehovah” specifically (Psalm 2:10-11), pluralism instead calls upon the rulers of the state to honor and protect all religious positions, regardless of their avowed hatred for the God of the Bible. Further, pluralism guarantees that the god of all the competing gods in the public square is the State as the State has to be the god who insures that none of the gods are allowed to get the upper hand in the public square. In the pluralist social order the God of the Bible has to be limited in His ability to be embraced by the citizenry as God over all the State. Christian Pluralists like our good Dr. Hart is advocating that God be restricted in His authority in the public square.
Those who want more of God’s law in public life do not appear to understand this basic aspect of civil society in the U.S. They seem to think that if God’s moral standards are on their side, they have the power, duty, and right to make sure that the rest of Americans know that they are deserving God’s wrath. They also apparently believe they have responsibility to condemn the state if it fails to enforce God’s law, hence the double-down point about the magistrate’s duty to require observance of both tables of the law.
1.) It is the responsibility of all those who would see men evangelized to tell those outside of Christ that they are under God’s wrath and that they must turn to the Lord Christ for salvation.
2.) The nature of the State is to enforce the law of some god. Law itself, is a reflection of the will of some religious order that is headed by a god. Whenever a State enforces any law it is at that moment enforcing the law of some God. Darryl is frightened to death of the State enforcing the God of the Bible’s law but he seems perfectly content for the State to enforce the law of some other god. Is Darryl good with the State’s recent enforcement of the law against those who refuse to use their respective businesses to help the sodomite agenda? Is Darryl good with the Canadian State’s recent prosecution of citizens for hate crimes because they were advocating Biblical truths?
3.) What does Darryl do with John the Baptist’s condemnation of the Magistrate? Let me guess … that is dispensationalized away since John was still in the old Covenant?
Ok … what about Paul’s refusal to obey the Magistrate in Acts 16?
That argument about both tables of the law is almost entirely at odds with the American notion that law restrains government from exercising power unspecified in the Constitution. It also runs up against the legal tradition of assuming an accused citizen’s innocence until proven guilty. Just because we “know” someone broke the law doesn’t mean that district attorneys and police are free from following the laws that keep us from being a police state. In fact, the appeal to God’s law by some culture warriors has the flavor of vigilantism, that is, taking the law into their own hands. The problem for theonomists and other moral breast beaters is not simply that they don’t have power to execute God’s law. They also don’t seem to understand that the “rule of law” as we understand it in the United States actually prevents government from enforcing a whole host of laws, including God’s.
1.) The powers of the Federal Government in the Constitution are enumerated and delegated. The Federal Government ought to be limited those powers. I hold no tuck with the FEDS becoming more of a National Behemoth. However, the States themselves have the responsibility to enforce Biblical moral order. Darryl will be pleased to know that many of the original State constitutions were explicitly Christian.
2.) And whoever denied the principle of “innocent until proven guilty?” Certainly no Theonomist who insists that two or three witnesses must be brought to give testimony. Darryl is giving us a red herring on this one.
3.) Every Theonomist and moral breast beater (as opposed to every anti-nomian and immoral breast beater apparently) understands the whole idea of due process. Really, Darryl is being so silly here. The implementation and following of God’s law by the States is done in conjunction with due process.
4.) Still, when the State does enforce law, it ought to be God’s law that it enforces. Not Sharia law. Not Talmudic law. Not Humanist legal positivism law. But God’s law. This is no law from nowhere. No law that doesn’t belong to some God, god, or god concept. This reality is what Darryl can’t get through his academic head.
5.) Darryl’s appeal to pluralistic law has the flavor of cowardice and treason.
Darryl then goes on to talk about the dangers of arbitrary power. What Christian in their right mind would advocate arbitrary power? And yet arbitrary power is exactly what we get when we don’t follow God’s law Word. By what standard will our laws be based if not God’s law-word? Natural law? Our country is being balkanized along ethnic and religious lines. Does anybody really believe that Hindus, Muslims, Talmudists, Humanists and Christians are all going to agree on Natural law? If they do believe that they’ve been smoking too much Peyote. If we do not follow God’s law word as our standard than all that is left is the arbitrariness that Darryl is so frightened of.
Maybe the Anglo-American tradition of law and constitutional liberties is wrong (though it finds expression in Presbyterian government). Maybe the West if fundamentally flawed and should follow political patterns and traditions established by the Persians and Turks. Or maybe theonoomy and the original Reformed confessions’ teachings about the magistrate lost when the Reformed and Presbyterian churches embraced the politics associated with a certain eighteenth-century republic founded in North America.
1.) At least we are getting an admission here that R2K is a innovative reading of the original Reformed confessions. Darryl’s views and R2K are historically innovative.
2.) Darryl isn’t advocating the tradition of law and constitutional liberties. Darryl is advocating some kind of Randian objectivism or a kind of anarchism.
3.) Theonomy wants nothing to do with the Persians and the Turks. It is the Theonomists of all people who are screaming the loudest about the FEDS overstepping their constitutional boundaries as established by enumerated and delegated powers. It is the Theonomists who are trying to remind people that there is such a thing as a 9th and 10th amendment. Darryl is just being silly when he tries to combines Totalitarianism and Theonomy. After all, it is Theonomy that talks about Jurisdictionalism and Sphere sovereignty, which is hardly a recipe for Totalitarianism.
3.) What Darryl wants is not a return to a certain 18th century republic founded in North America. What Darryl wants, it appears, is a return to the Enlightenment. There is more of French Revolution and “The Rights of Man,” in Darryl’s reasoning then there is historical traditional Reformed understanding of the relation of Church and State.