Thursday, February 17, 2011

Distinguishing between Judicial Laws

by Daniel F. N. Ritchie

How do we distinguish between judicial (socio-political) laws in the Bible? In the early Reformed and modern Theonomic writings there are various useful suggestions (I won't repeat them all here), which are fine as generalisations, but perhaps not entirely sufficient. However, allow me to make the following suggestion (largely based on recent reading of Daniel Cawdrey, Herbert Palmer and John Owen):

1. Simply moral: these are laws which are purely and simply moral laws, such as the death penalty for murder or the prohibition on bestiality. Such laws simply forever bind all. 

2. Moral-positive: these laws are in substance moral, but have circumstantial aspects. These continue to bind us according to their marrow, but they do not bind us any further than the general equity thereof may require. The Deut. 22:8 case law is an example of this.

3. Ceremonial-positive: these laws are either ceremonial in nature or entirely unique to Israel, they have either been abrogated or completely died out with Israel's expiration.

This piece was originally posted on the Confessional Puritan Board 

1 comment:

Timothy said...

Has anyone read the book, From The Finger Of God: The Biblical And Theological Basis For The Threefold Division Of The Law, by Philip Ross? ( has been promoting it recently ) If so, I'd be interested in hearing what you thought of it. I'd also be interested in other books you could recommend on that same topic. Thank you.