Continuing with my fisking of this Godless Coalition article,
Dr. Andy Walker (AW) writes,
What does Theonomy have to say right now to the church in China or Iran?
Theonomy has the same thing to say to the church in China or Iran as to the Church in America. Theonomy says to each and all;
“Christ is Lord and as Lord His Law-Word is to be owned, cherished, and championed at every point whenever possible. Be encouraged dear Church that God’s Law-Word is an anvil that has wore out many a tyrant’s hammers. Be faithful. When possible be like the Hebrew mid-wives in disobedience to tyrants. When possible rise up and crush tyrants who rebel against the Crown-Rights of Jesus Christ. Do not lose your first love just so you can go along to get along with tyrants.”
Now, one wonders what AW would say right now to the Church in China and Iran? Probably something like… “Make sure you kiss the arse of the wicked sovereign even if it means disobeying God’s Law-Word because God realizes at times that blaspheming Him by bowing to the Tyrant state is necessary.”
It is an over-realized eschatology with a static view of culture that will disappoint its supporters and make them grow ever strident in their resentment toward culture. A more accurate assessment of history understands culture as buffeted by times of both victory and defeat. To pick either victory or defeat as the litmus test for the church’s mission in society is to subject oneself to either utopia or despair.
1.) First of all, it is hard to believe that a Ph.D. could be so torpid that he does not realize that Theonomy is not an eschatology. Dr. Greg Bahnsen conceded, for example, that it was possible for one to be a Theonomist and be Amillennial.
This is really quite embarrassing that someone could pick up a pen to write a hit piece on “Theonomy” and not realize that Theonomy is not an eschatology. Having said that I am more than willing to admit that most Theonomists I know are postmill but that still doesn’t mean that Theonomy is an eschatology.
2.) The statement that theonomy has a static view of culture is almost as embarrassing as saying that theonomy is an eschatology. It is precisely because theonomy believes that culture can change from non-Christian to Christian that theonomy remains so hopeful.
3.) If culture is defined as the outward expression of a people’s religious beliefs then it is the case that Christians should be increasingly strident and resentful towards Christ-hating culture since Christ-hating cultures are being shepherded by some false God and some false religion. As a Christian am I supposed to be giddy over cultures that defy Christ’s Lordship? Is AW suggesting here that Christians are supposed to make themselves at home in cultures that are anti-Christ? If so, people better quit writing tomes about those evil German Christians who did nothing during the Nazi regime.
4.) Theonomy isn’t asking for instant victory in the Kulturkampf. Theonomy is only asking that people like DW be faithful to Christ in their culture. Theonomists perfectly understand that in God’s inscrutable providence varying cultures wax and wane. No theonomist I know believes in Utopia in the sense that man apart from the Spirit of Christ is going to usher in social order Nirvana. These stupid accusations have been raised many times and likewise answered many times. Walker is just creating a straw man and then tearing down his straw man.
A Christian’s posture toward the world must simultaneously embrace both glory and the cross. Inhabiting this paradox is understandably complex, but it gives us a proper perspective to see that the church’s mission throughout various societies can look very different depending on the societal context.
1.) Earlier in this same article AW faulted theologies of glory. He now admits here that there are times when we must embrace a theology of glory. Now I agree with him here but I can’t help wonder which end of his contradiction he is embracing – Theology of glory always bad or theology of glory sometimes needs to be embraced? Make up your mind man.
2.) The Church’s mission can look very different through various societies depending on societal context. I know of no theonomist who would disagree with that statement. However, the theonomist would add that in any societal context, regardless of the Church’s mission in that societal context the Church – both Institution and Organic – must tell the society to “Kiss the Son lest they perish in the way.” “I love the smell of Theonomy in the morning.”
It’s debatable whether Theonomy desires a formal unity of church and state. Doubtless, though, church and state work in unison to promote each other’s interests. With intention, they mutually reinforce and consolidate one another’s authority. This can be both good and bad. It is bad when religion becomes the government’s handmaiden or vice versa; good when the government enables the gospel to be proclaimed freely (1 Tim. 2:1–2).
1.) It is not debatable in the least that Theonomy desires a formal unity of Church and State. The fact that Walker implies that it is debatable points us towards the idea that Walker doesn’t know the difference between a theocracy (which is an inescapable category and as inescapable all theonomist embrace) and an Ecclesiocracy which no theonomist embraces.
2.) All Governments at all times use religion as a handmaiden. Right now in these united States the Government is using the religion of Cultural Marxist humanism as a handmaiden. So, as all governments at all times use religion as a handmaiden then all Christians at all times should champion all Governments to submit to Christianity so that the Government can be the handmaiden to Christ. This is all theonomy, following Scripture, asks for.
Though medieval Europe was not strictly Theonomic, the first thing to learn about strong unity between church and state is how undesirable it is. A nostalgia that looks with longing on “Christendom” erases the bloodiness that resulted from church and state working in tandem. Absent from history is a tradition of church-state unity that was good for the church’s purity or religious dissent.
1.) Andy can talk all he likes about a strong unity between church and state being undesirable but since all States are a reflection of and descend from some God or god concept it is simply the case that Church and State always walk together. For example, we right now are experiencing a strong union between our current State and the Church (i.e. – Public Schools teaching the religion of Cultural Marxism). Now I quite agree this is undesirable but only because cultural Marxism is a false religion. If Biblical Christianity was the religion of the land I would find it quite desirable. So, once again Andy is wrong about Church and State working together in their proper jurisdictional spheres being undesirable. The Christian Church working with the Christian State is always desirable. Anti-Christ Churches working with Anti-Christ states though is always undesirable.
2.) Now AW raises the old saw about how bloody Christian reigns were and we concede that there were times in history that Christian reigns did unchristian things. However, shall we compare the bloodiness of Charlemagne with the bloodiness of Stalin? Shall we compare the burning of witches at Salem with the Christians killed in Rome’s persecutions? Shall we compare the Inquisition to the numbers that Pol Pot rang up?
The point here is that self-hating Christians like AW are forever ringing their hands over “the bloodiness of Christendom,” without realizing that perhaps Christendom is the least bad of all options. As Church and State always work together maybe Christendom was the least bad combination of Church and State possible? That is the way I read history.
I get weary with Christians lamenting Christendom as if they’d prefer Liberaldom, or Islamadom, or Talmud-dom. Kingdoms crafted by the combination of Church and State are inescapable as we have shown, and since that is true I’ll take Christendom for 1000 Alex.
3.) I’d say the Church-State harmony of early Puritan New England was pretty good. I’d say the Church-state harmony of the Antebellum South was pretty good.
4.) I am opposed to allowing for religious dissent as arising from those who hate Christ. I do not think it should be allowed in a Christian social order.