Dear Pastor — Is Theonomy Like Circumcision?

The coming of Christ, the true Son of God, abolishes national Israel. Since the coming of Christ, there is no more reason for the theocracy. Whether they mean to or not, theonomists are an affront to Christ. They want to have the theocracy that Christ abolished by his coming. He fulfilled the purposes of Israel. To claim those purposes for ourselves is to reject Christ himself.

Read Gal 5:1-5 and replace “circumcision” with “theonomy”.

First, the coming of Christ does indeed abolish national Israel. That is why we don’t see any relevance of that piece of sod in the Middle East for eschatology. However, saying that the coming of Christ abolishes national Israel and saying that the coming of Christ abolishes the law are two quite different statements. The case law that Theonomy appeals to is naught but the moral law applied to concrete situations. If one insists that the case law is abolished one is left saying that the moral law only continues to inform in a completely abstract fashion, or one is left to inconsistently saying that while the moral law applies concretely to individuals it doesn’t apply concretely to the public square where it was specifically given and never rescinded to apply to.

Second, as Theocracy is an inescapable category, the coming of Christ has nothing to do with its elimination. All governmental arrangements are theocratic since all law orders that provide the framework for all social orders are derivative of some expressed or implied Theology. Saying that theocracy is eliminated by the coming of Christ is like insisting that oxygen has been eliminated by the coming of Christ. You can say it all you want but it doesn’t make it so.

Third, we would say that it is not theonomists who are an affront to Christ but rather those who would deny the proper place of His Kingship. They argue against God’s concrete law and they turn around and plead for a Kingship of Jesus that is abstract and debatable. (Debatable because Jesus’ Kingship as expressed by their natural law theories is a Kingship that looks different according to which natural law theorists you speak with.)

You letter however, does reveal the anti-thesis between Christians who are theonomists and Christians who desire to read them out of the Kingdom. It is difficult to see how, if each insists that the other is an affront to Christ how they can co-exist together.

Fourth, theonomist, most assuredly do not desire the Israelite Theocracy that Christ abolished. They want the Theocracy that comes from bearing allegiance to Christ in this age and in this place. Silly boy, why would we ever build fences around our roofs as the Israelite Theocracy was required to? No, the Israelite Theocracy is abolished, but the law of God lives on since it is, after all, Holy, just and good.

Fifth the purpose of Israel is not abolished. The overarching purpose of Israel was to testify and be witnesses to God’s hegemonic glory. That remains the overarching purpose of the Church today. Certainly you are not saying that this purpose is abolished are you? That would be true Reformed Dispensationalism if you were. One way the overarching purpose continues to be pursued is by properly esteeming God’s law (we still meditate on it both day and night), which means that we do not seek to use it as a ladder to climb into the presence of God but rather out of gratitude we seek to conform ourselves in every area of life to God’s law revelation.

Sixth, thus it is quite clear that theonomists do not reject Christ himself, though once again we see the anti-thesis here between Classical Reformed Theology and more recent Reformed innovations. We see it because it is the conviction of many a theonomist that it is the Reformed innovations that are rejecting Christ himself. So, each side continues to hurl invective at one another.

1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free,[a] and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become a theonomist, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes a theonomist that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

First, while it might have been convenient for your argument if the Holy Spirit had inspired the writer to write ‘theonomy’ instead of ‘circumcision’ such is not the case and the suggestion of replacing one word for the other is completely gratuitous and may border on faulting the Holy Spirit for not using the word that you would prefer.

Second, while Scripture makes it abundantly clear that the ceremonial law has been fulfilled (not abolished) and so no longer in force it does not make the same case for the moral law which the civil law is but the concrete embodiment of.

Third, your position consistently embraced would (and some would say does) result in public square anti-nomianism.

Fourth, you come perilously close to bearing false witness about Theonomists since no theonomist has ever come close to teaching that we are justified by the law as the Judaizers taught that the Galatians would be justified by circumcision. Do you have no conscience against bearing false witness or do you not have to be concerned about that since your comments are in the public square and the law does not apply to the public square? Once again, I would recommend Samuel Bolton’s book to you that teaches a very standard Reformed and Puritan view of the Law.

I hope this helps you think your way through these matters more precisely,

Pastor Bret

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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