Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Westminster Standards are Theonomic: Part 4

The Westminster Assembly
Posts in this series: Part 1, Part 2,
Part 3
Part 4

WCF Chapter 20
, "Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience," is quite revealing of the Westminster divines' pro-theonomic views.

Part 1 reads,  

I. The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and in their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a childlike love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of. 
Notice the category of law that it says that Christians in the New Testament era are free from: ceremonial law.  Conspicuous by its absence is the "sundry judicial law" referred to in WCF 19:4.  If the divines thought that these civil laws had expired, this would have been the appropriate place to mention it.  Thus by implication WCF 20:1 teaches the abiding validity of the Older Testament civil code.

Not only this, but part 4 of this same chapter reads,

IV. And because the power which God hath ordained, and the liberty which Christ hath purchased, are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another; they who, upon pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices, as are contrary to the light of nature, or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation; or to the power of godliness; or such erroneous opinions or practices, as, either in their own nature, or in the manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the Church; they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the Church, and by the power of the Civil Magistrate.
In affirming the power of the civil magistrate, the WCF also affirms the civil magistrate's duty to enforce O.T. civil law, for some of the prooftexts the confession uses to back its position include Deuteronomy 13:6-12; Ezra 7:23-28; Nehemiah 13:15, 17, 21, 22, 25, 30; 2 Kings 23:5, 6, 9, 20, 21; 2 Chronicles 34:33; 2 Chronicles 15:12, 13, 16; and Daniel 3:29.

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