Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Reformed View of Justification


By Wes White
This is an excellent statement of the Reformed doctrine of justification by John Girardeau from his book Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism. All emphases are mine.
The Calvinistic doctrine may be stated under three heads: first, the Ground of justification; secondly, its Constituent Elements, or Nature; thirdly, its human Condition or Instrument.
The Ground of Justification
1. The Ground of justification, or, what is the same, its Matter or Material Cause, is the vicarious righteousness of Christ imputed to the believer. This is the obedience of Christ, as the appointed Substitute of the sinner, to the precept and the penalty of the Moral Law: what Paul denominates the righteousness of God which is revealed from faith to faith. It is fitly termed the righteousness of God, not only because it was provided and accepted by God, but because it was wrought out by God himself in the person of his Incarnate Son. It is God’s righteousness because God produced it. This is judicially imputed by God the Father to the believing sinner, who had no share at all in its conscious production. In that sense, it is not his, but another’s righteousness – justitia aliena. But as Christ was his Surety and Representative and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to him, it becomes, in this sense, his righteousness. It is his in law, before the divine tribunal; not his as infused and constituting a subjective character, but his as a formal investiture of his person. God, therefore, is just in justifying him since, although consciously and subjectively a sinner, he possesses in Christ a perfect righteousness, such as the law demands in order to justification, and such as satisfies its claims. When the sinner by faith accepts Christ with this righteousness, he has an adequate ground of justification: consciously has it, so that he can plead it before God.
The Constituent Elements of Justification
2. The Constituent Elements of justification are, first, the pardon, or non-imputation, of guilt; secondly, the acceptance of the sinner’s person as righteous, involving his investiture with a right and title to eternal life. Taken generally, justification may be said to consist of three things: first, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness; secondly, the non-imputation of guilt, or pardon; thirdly, the acceptance of the sinner’s person as righteous and the bestowal upon him of a right and title to eternal life. But taken strictly, justification is pardon and the eternal acceptance of the sinner’s person. The ground and the constituent elements are not to be confounded. It is not: justification is the non-imputation of guilt and the imputation of righteousness, which would seem to be the natural antithesis; but first comes the imputed righteousness of Christ as the ground, and then the elements or parts, – namely, pardon, and acceptance with a title to indefectible life.
The Condition of Justification on Man’s Part
3. The Condition on man’s part, or the Instrument, of justification is Faith, and faith alone. In receiving Christ, as a justifying Saviour, it receives and rests upon Christ’s righteousness, as the ground of justification. God imputes this righteousness and the sinner embraces it by faith. In describing faith as the condition of justification, an indispensable distinction is to be noted. The only meritorious condition of justification was performed by Christ. As the Representative of his people he undertook to furnish that perfect obedience to the precept of the Law which, under the Covenant of Works, was required of Adam as the representative of his seed and which he failed to render, and, in addition, to furnish a perfect obedience to the penalty of the violated law. Upon the fulfilment of this condition the justification of his seed was suspended. This condition he completely fulfilled in his life and in his death, and thus meritoriously secured justification for his seed.
But in the application of redemption to the sinner, he is required to exercise faith in Christ and his righteousness, in order to his conscious union with Christ as a Federal Head, and his actual justification. In this sense, faith is to him the condition of his justification. It is simply an indispensable duty on his part – a conditio sine qua non. He cannot be consciously and actually justified without faith; but his faith has no particle of merit. All merit is in Christ alone. Faith involves the absolute renunciation of merit, and absolute reliance upon the meritorious obedience of Christ. Faith, then, is simply the instrument by which Christ and his righteousness are received in order to justification. It is emptiness filled with Christ’s fullness; impotence lying down upon Christ’s strength. It is no righteousness; it is not a substitute for righteousness; it is not imputed as righteousness. It is counted to us simply as the act which apprehends Christ’s righteousness unto justification. All it does is to take what God gives – Christ and his righteousness: Christ as the justifying Saviour and Christ’s righteousness as the only justifying righteousness.
In discharging this instrumental office faith is entirely alone. It is followed, and in accordance with the provisions of the covenant of grace it is inevitably followed, by the other graces of the Spirit, and by good, that is, holy works; but they do not co-operate with it in the act by which Christ and his righteousness are received in order to justification. They are not concurring causes, but the certain results of justification. In a word, faith, while not the sole cause for the act of the Spirit uniting the sinner to Christ in regeneration is also a cause, is the sole instrumental cause on man’s part of justification. Other graces, the existence of which is conditioned by faith may be superior to it in point of intrinsic excellence, love for example; faith has none. All the excellence it possesses is derived from its relation to Christ. Itself it confesses to be nothing, Christ to be everything. It is an exhausted receiver prepared by its very emptiness to be filled with the merit of Christ’s righteousness. Hence, it is precisely suited to be the instrument, and the sole instrument, of justification. As all human works whatsoever are excluded from it, justification is seen to be altogether of grace.

originally posted at Johannes Weslianus

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pat Necerato's Reaction to Gay "Marriage" Legislation Debate

The Reformation Versus the Enlightenment Being Promoted by the Media


While many in the media praise the Enlightenment, it resulted
in the bloody French Revolution. As Benjamin F. Morris
notes, "its results shocked the civilized world with horror
... their atrocities were committed with a wanton levity and a
brutal merriment; the reign of atheism was avowedly and
expressly the reign of terror."


by Randy Pope

The news media has dubbed the Obama era as the “new Enlightenment”. Just Google how many times the Akron Beacon Journal has referred to President Obama's policies as “enlightened”. This moniker is intended to be complimentary toward the president and his policies. A cursory understanding of the original Enlightenment will reveal two things; one, the label fits, and two, if you love God and freedom, there is nothing complimentary about it.
Most media personalities look upon the Enlightenment with favor because they, along with most Americans, have been taught to believe that the American Revolution of 1776 is a result of Enlightenment thinking. In addition the vast majority of media people do not believe in God. Nothing could be further from the truth on both counts.
The Enlightenment, or what should more accurately be called the Endarkenment, was a system of thinking that attempted to understand the world in terms of human reason alone. Because they denied the existence of God, Enlightenment thinkers defined the world and its institutions by replacing the sovereignty of God with the sovereignty of man. The true result of the Enlightenment was the French Revolution. This short excerpt from a description of the French Revolution by Benjamin F. Morris in “The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States”, which was first published in 1876, is enlightening about the Enlightenment; “The atheism of France in 1795 had engulfed that empire in anarchy and blood. It was the first experiment in the history of the world, of the national reign of infidelity, and its results shocked the civilized world with horror, and demonstrated its terrific nature and evils on civil government and society...their atrocities were committed with a wanton levity and a brutal merriment; the reign of atheism was avowedly and expressly the reign of terror...”
Now you understand why it should rightfully be called the Endarkenment. It was this kind of darkened thinking that led to the American Revolution of the 1960's and is indeed risen to prominence in the Obama era.
This Endarkenment thinking brought us the sexual revolution, the acceptance and legalization of the evils such as abortion, homosexuality, and theft (taking from the citizenry to give to other citizens). The women's revolution for modest dress is a response to the degeneracy spawned by the very thinking that the media is lauding. The women's revolution for modest dress is a return to the Biblical principles that reigned during the American Revolution of 1776.
The thinking that inspired the American Revolution of 1776 is the thinking of the Reformers of the 16th century. Because Americans believed and lived by the principles of Biblical Christianity they rejected the influences of the Enlightenment. It is a return to the principles of the reformation that will defeat the Endarkenment that threatens civilization once again. The stakes are too high to ignore the heritage bequeathed not only by the founders of America but by the Reformers. Reject the darkness of humanism and turn to the light of Biblical Christianity.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

IF (part two)

By Buddy Hanson

Last week we looked at seven Spiritual Mind Expanding thoughts designed to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of their commanded duties as a member of God’s family and Christ’s Kingdom. This week we add six more IF’s to share with your friends. Remember to write down any IF’s you think of and send them in. If we have enough to publish in a Part Five, we’ll do so.



IF

We continue to live as though God’s Word doesn’t exist by hiding it “under a basket,” how will our neighbors “see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven?” (Matt. 5.15-17) Do we not have numerous promises from God that He will use our obedience to confound our opponents in His perfect timing? (1 Cor. 1.27) 

IF

We really believe that God created an orderly cause-and-effect creation, then we agree that the only way we, and other Christians across the world, can bring about positive results is to live according to God’s truths, instead of man’s lies.


IF

Our pastors don’t begin to systematically instruct us in how to apply the truths of Scripture to our everyday situations and circumstances, how can we expect to demonstrate lifestyles that are distinctively different from that of our non-Christian neighbors? (Romans 12.1-3) And


IF
Our daily goal is not to “bring glory to God in all we do and say” (1 Corinthians 10.31), aren’t we imaging Satan, instead of Christ?


IF

This is the case, are we not testifying that we are merely a well-intentioned, but misguided and pragmatic conservative moralist, instead of a Christian whose life on earth, as well as our eternal existence, is based upon our subjective imaginings of how to live, rather than upon the objective truths on the pages of our Bible? And,


IF
This is the case, why bother to go to church or study the Bible, when for all intents and purposes, we have decided that each of us is, in effect, our own mini-god? (Rom. 1.25-26) 

(Scripture quotes may be paraphrases) 

Buddy Hanson is President of the Grace & Law Resource Center, which helps fellow Christians provide a visual model of what a redemptive world will someday look like by assisting them to re-suppose what they pre-suppose by interpreting the Bible in terms of our present days, instead of according to the last days. www.graceandlaw.com, 205.454.1442

To send in more IFs, contact Buddy Hanson at bhanson@graceandlaw.com. If enough are received, Hanson plans to incorporate them into a Part Five.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Laws from Charlemagne's "Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae" (Theonomy Applied)

Charlemange, also known as "Charles the
Great"
Charlemagne (742-814), or "Charles the Great," King of the Franks from 771-814 and Roman Emperor from 800-814, issued in 782 a body of laws for Saxons called Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae. Below are several more or less theonomic laws from that code.  


Law against falsely accusing someone of being a witch and burning or eating him:

If any one deceived by the devil shall have believed, after the manner of the pagans, that any man or woman is a witch and eats men, and on this account shall have burned the person, or shall have given the person's flesh to others to eat, or shall have eaten it himself, let him be punished by a capital sentence. (Law no. 6)

Law against human sacrifices to the devil:

If any one shall have sacrificed a man to the devil, and after the manner of the pagans shall have presented him as a victim to the demons, let him be punished by death. (Law no. 9)

Law against scheming against Christians:

If any one shall have formed a conspiracy with the pagans against the Christians, or shall have wished to join with them in opposition to the Christians, let him be punished by death; and whosoever shall have consented to this same fraudulently against the king and the Christian people, let him be punished by death. (Law no. 10)

Law against Sabbath breaking:

That on the Lord's day no meetings and public judicial assemblages shall be held, unless perchance in a case of great necessity or when war compels it, but all shall go to the church to hear the word of God, and shall be free for prayers or good works. (Law no. 18a)

Law against idolatry:

If any one shall have made a vow at springs or trees or groves, or shall have made any offering after the manner of the heathen and shall have partaken of a repast in honor of the demons, if he shall be a noble 60 solidi, if a freeman 30, if a litus 15. If, indeed, they have not the means of paying at once, they shall be given into the service of the church until the solidi are paid. (Law no. 21)

Law against perverting justice:

Concerning presents and gifts: let no one receive gifts to the detriment of an innocent person; and if any one shall have presumed to do this, he shall pay our ban. And if perchance the count shall have done this (may it not happen!) he shall lose his office. (Law no. 28) [1] 



Notes


    
     [1] Dana Carleton Munro, Selections from the Laws of Charles the Great ( Kessinger Publishing, 2004), 2-5.

Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics). 
      

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Answers to Postmillennial Objections (Ken Gentry)

Cotton Mather on Family

"Before all, and above all, is the knowledge of the Christian religion that parents are to teach their children. The knowledge of other things, be it ever so desirable for them, our children may arrive in eternal happiness without it.  But the knowledge of the godly doctrine of Jesus Christ is a million times more necessary for them."

--Cotton Mather

originally posted at What they Said
 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ron Paul versus Biblical Civil Government




Note: while this video does a good job showing Ron Paul's unbiblical view of civil government, we do not endorse Rick Santorum, whom this video is favorable of. Santorum's Roman Catholicism alone is enough to disqualify him from being biblically qualified.


   

Ron Paul and Messianic Small Government

Embracing small government while still rejecting Christ's
lordship is every bit as "Messianic" as embracing big
government while rejecting Christ's lordship;
both seek political salvation in princes rather
than in the name of the Lord.

"The zeal of facebook Christians to abandon biblical principles of voting and statecraft in order to justify voting for Ron Paul tells us something: you do not have to believe in "big government" in order to believe in the Messianic State. It is only because men look for societal salvation in small princes, rather than in the name of the Lord, that they cast the law of God behind their backs in order to elect a man who refuses to bow to Christ's royal prerogatives over civil government. Thus the civil government that the Ron Paul voters want would be every bit as "Messianic" as the one that their opponents lust after." --Daniel Ritchie, Facebook, January 4, 2012


[Note: Neither this site nor Daniel Ritchie has anything personal against Ron Paul; it is just that he is not biblically qualified for office. Moreover, while this site believes that many Ron Paul supporters are sincere, their support for Ron Paul does not take enough consideration in biblical ruler qualifications]
    

Friday, January 20, 2012

Frederick III's Iconoclasm (Theonomy Applied)

Frederick III, "the Pious"
Frederick III (1515-1576), "the Pious," ruled 1559-1576 as the Elector Palatine of the Rhine, a German Principality. (Frederick III is also known for commissioning the writing of the Heidelberg Catechism.) In A House Divided, Andrew L. Thomas discusses  Frederick III's iconoclasm:

"Frederick III's model was the biblical king Josiah who abolished idolatry and restored true worship among the ancient Israelites. In a protocol to his sons and trusted advisors in 1564, Frederick III admonished them to be diligent against Satan as defenders of the faith and to follow the example of King Josiah. In 1565, Frederick III ordered the removal of altars, crucifixes, and other "idolatrous" works from the churches within a month. ... Confiscated liturgical dress was also supposed to be given over to the poor, and ones made from expensive textiles were to be sent to Heidelberg. In stark contrast with Bavarian Wittelsbachs' patronage of monastic orders, Frederick III abolished 40 monasteries in his territories. Although a number of them were already abandoned, Frederick III used physical force against the remaining monks and nuns who refused to give up their clerical attire and attend Protestant sermons. ...

"An example of Frederick's zeal against recalcitrant monks was an occasion in 1565 when he dealt with the refusal of the monastery of Sinsheim to abolish the mass. He sent handworkers into the building to rip out the altars, panels, wooden images and take these, along with books and similar items, and burn them in his presence. Indeed, Frederick III personally participated in iconoclast visitations of the churches. For example, it is recorded that he once used his own fist to punch through a painted crucifixion scene in the room of the prioress of Liebenau. The action at Liebenau demonstrates how much the ideal of Wittelsbach leadership had been confessionalized, because Dorothea of Wittelsbach (1439-1482), a granddaughter of Ruprecht King of the Germans, had actually been a prioress there. Frederick III's grandson, Frederick IV, followed in his grandfather's footsteps by personally exhorting the inhabitants of Heidelberg to overcome their weaknesses at the time of the visitations of 1593-5. He did the same in the Upper Palatinate from 1596 and 1598. However, the use of force to Calvinize the Palatinate made it even harder for Lutherans to accept Calvinist claims of irenic Protestantism."[1]

 Notes

     [1] Andrew L. Thomas, A House Divided: Wittelsbach Confessional Court Cultures in the Holy Roman Empire, c. 1550-1650 ( BRILL, 2010), 111, 112. Frederick III also enacted laws against blasphemy and failure to attend church services (Ibid., 110).


Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics). 


    

Sharia Law OK'd for Oklahoma - Worldviews and Law Systems (Kevin Swanson)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

IF (part one)

By Buddy Hanson

Once more it’s the height of the political season, and once more Christians are disappointed in the candidates that have emerged. There is something very puzzling about this. In the first place why should we be surprised that, after sitting on the sidelines waiting for a random act of kindness on behalf of non-Christians to offer up a slate of explicitly Christian candidates? For example, how many churches have provided weekend seminars for local candidates and legislators (and their members!) on how a Christian civil ruler should legislate? In the second place, the Bible promotes the personal liberty of self-government, not the tyranny of central government, so why are we more interested in what a president might do, than we are in what we should do?

Rather than continuing to preach to the choir, I thought a more effective tactic would be to provide a series of brief Spiritual Mind Expanders. Perhaps you can use them with your Christian friends to arouse their interests and awaken them to some ways to bring honor to their Lord, Savior, and King, Jesus Christ in all they do. Since this is not in any way a complete list of “IF’s, you may think of additional ones. If so, send them in after Part Four (at bhanson@graceandlaw.com),and if we have enough to send out a Part Five, we’ll do so. 

Following are the first seven IF’s. Enjoy!


IF

We really believe that God’s Word is true and without error,

IF

We really believe that man’s word, when it doesn’t conform to God’s Word is false, then aren’t we agreeing that ONLY God’s Word works, and that man’s word ONLY fails?

IF

This is the case, then why do we spend even a millisecond considering which candidate to vote for?

IF

They don’t believe that Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him?" (John 14.6)

IF

They don’t believe this, they will seek counsel from people who hate the triune God of Scripture and will make decisions based upon the self-centered and sinful wisdom of man, instead of the others-centered and holy wisdom of God.

IF

We vote for the lesser of two evils, are we not disobeying the apostle Paul’s admonition to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12.21), and at the same time, “resisting the ordinance of God,” causing Him to appoint evil rulers over us, instead of godly rulers? (Romans 13.1-7)

IF
We blatantly disobey God’s counsel on how to select civil rulers, upon what basis can we expect Him to “hear our prayers” to turn our country back to living according to biblical ethics? (Isaiah 1.15)

(Scripture quotes may be paraphrases)


Buddy Hanson is President of the Grace & Law Resource Center, which helps fellow Christians provide a visual model of what a redemptive world will someday look like by assisting them to re-suppose what they pre-suppose by interpreting the Bible in terms of our present days, instead of according to the last days. www.graceandlaw.com, 205.454.1442

To send in more IFs, contact Buddy Hanson at bhanson@graceandlaw.com. If enough are received, Hanson plans to incorporate them into a Part Five.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Football Idolatry



Don't know enough about "skit guys" to endorse their overall theological views, but this is very relevant for football fans.

   

George Whitefield on Family Discipleship

"Would then the present generation have their posterity be true lovers and honorers of God; masters and parents must take Solomon's good advice, and train up and catechize their respective households in the way wherein they should go. I am aware but of one objection, that can, with any show of reason, be urged against what has been advanced; which is, that such a procedure as this will take up too much time, and hinder families too long from their worldly business. 

"But it is much to be questioned, whether persons that start such an objection, are not of the same hypocritical spirit as the traitor Judas, who had indignation against devout Mary, for being so profuse of her ointment, in anointing our blessed Lord, and asked why it might not be sold for two hundred pence, and given to the poor. For has God given us so much time to work for ourselves, and shall we not allow some small pittance of it, morning and evening, to be devoted to his more immediate worship and service? Have not people read, that it is God who gives men power to get wealth, and therefore that the best way to prosper in the world, is to secure his favor? And has not our blessed Lord himself promised, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all outward necessaries shall be added unto us?"

--George Whitefield

originally posted by Tony Konvalin at What They Said


Monday, January 16, 2012

Christ's Kingdom is not of this World, but Christ does Rule this World

(Above: a depiction of Pontious Pilate)
It is because earthly kingdoms must submit
to God's kingdom that Pilate sinned in his
treatment of Jesus. On the other hand,
if God's kingdom has nothing to do with
this world, then earthly kingdoms would
have no moral responsibility before God,
and therefore Pilate would not have sinned.
by Steve C. Halbrook

Excerpt from God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws, with an additional argument

[Note: The phrase "kingdom of God" can have different meanings, depending on the context. For a thorough treatment of the doctrine of God's kingdom, see The Kingdom of God by Brian Schwertley]

There are those who believe that Christ’s statement “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36b) means that Christ’s kingdom is narrowly confined to such things as heaven, the individual, and/or the church; as such Christ’s kingdom has nothing to do with kingdoms in this world.  But this view has several problems.

First, there is no reason to insist “of this world” means “nothing to do with the world.”  Christ’s disciples are in the world but “are not of the world” (Jn. 15:19b).  Thus “of the world” in John 15 does not exclude Christ’s disciples from being involved with the world.  Neither does it mean they are not to work, by God’s grace, to transform the world—and in fact, the Great Commission requires that Christ’s disciples attempt to do this very thing (Matt. 28:18-20). 

Second, while Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, it is over it: The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps. 103:19) (emphasis mine). Christ thus is King over the world (1 Tim. 6:15; cf. Eph. 1:20-22).  

The same Christ who told Pilate “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36b) also told Pilate “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (Jn. 19:11b). The kingdom of men is subordinate to the kingdom of God

The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17). 

The Great Commission acknowledges that Christ’s kingdom is over the world: And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (Matt. 28:18).  


The Lord's Prayer teaches us to
desire that all men on earth--which
includes civil rulers--acknowledge
and submit to God's kingdom.
It is because earthly kingdoms are subordinate to, and thereby must submit to, God’s kingdom, that Pilate sinned in his treatment of Jesus. As Jesus tells Pilate in John 19:11c, “Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” There was a sin greater than Pilate’s, but Pilate sinned nonetheless. On the other hand, if God’s kingdom has nothing to do with this world, then earthly kingdoms would have no moral responsibility before God, and therefore Pilate would not have sinned.

Third, “of this world” has to do with a source of power.  “Christ’s kingdom does not derive its origin from the world”[1]—so Christ’s kingdom is not of the world in the sense that it is not from the world.  In fact the very verse that says “My kingdom is not of this world” goes on to say that very thing—“my kingdom is not from the world” (Jn. 18:36d).  “[O]n the contrary, His kingdom has been given to Him by His Father (Dan. 7:14),”[2] and therefore, God has everything to do with civil government.

Fourth, John 18:36 also reads, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews.”  Some interpret this as meaning rulers can not use the sword to enforce God’s civil laws.  But we must reject this from the outset, since rulers are required to use the sword to punish evildoers in accordance with God’s requirements (Rom. 13:4). 

It is true that Christ’s servants “do not ‘fight’ in order to establish His kingdom, or indeed to spread His kingdom on the earth.”[3]  Christ’s kingdom advances “by the Holy Spirit regenerating sinners as the gospel is proclaimed: ‘“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit” says the Lord of hosts’ (Zech. 4:6).”[4]  “This however, does not mean that the state is not to protect the kingdom of Christ from attack, because civil magistrates are to ensure that God’s people can live ‘a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence’ (1 Tim. 2:2).”[5]

Let us note the reason Jesus gives for saying that His servants would fight if His kingdom was of this world: “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews” (emphasis mine). There is nothing about this reason that opposes enforcement of biblical civil law, since enforcement of biblical civil law and preventing Jesus from being delivered over to the Jews are two different concepts entirely. In other words, the use of the sword by Jesus’ servants to prevent Jesus from being delivered to his enemies and the use the sword by the state to enforce God’s justice are not the same.

Perhaps the reason Christ connects an earthly kingdom with His servants fighting to prevent Him from being delivered to the Jews is that if He was a mere earthly king, and his enemies destroyed him, his kingdom would cease to exist. The only recourse would be for his servants to fight, to protect both their king and his kingdom. But Christ is no mere earthly king; as God, He rules over all. His deliverance to the Jews was part of God’s sovereign plan, and thus Christ’s enemies could do no harm to His kingdom. Thus, there was no need for Christ’s servants to fight to prevent Him from being delivered to the Jews.

We must add that had Christ’s disciples prevented His crucifixion with an armed revolt, there would have been no basis for the church-aspect of the kingdom to advance at all, since such kingdom advancement depends on Christ’s saving work.  

Fifth, those who consistently press the idea that Christians should never have anything to do with the sword must be pacifists in every conceivable situation.  This would absurdly mean there is no moral basis for Christians to be involved with civil government, just warfare, self-defense, and defending others. 

Sixth, and finally, let us not forget the Lord's Prayer, which mentions “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:9b-10). Christians are thus to desire to see all men on earth—which includes civil rulers—acknowledge and submit to the Kingdom of God. Thus to hold that Christ’s kingdom has nothing to do with kingdoms in this world is to deny the Lord's Prayer itself.

part of the "anti-theonomy objections" series



     [1] Daniel F. N. Ritchie, A Conquered Kingdom: Biblical Civil Government (Saintfield, Northern Ireland: Reformed Worldview Books, 2008), 92.
     [2] Ibid.
     [3] Ibid., 93.
     [4] Ibid.
     [5] Ibid. On the phrase “my servants would have been fighting,” John Calvin writes: “He [Jesus] proves that he did not aim at an earthly kingdom, because no one moves, no one takes arms in his support; for if a private individual lay claim to royal authority, he must gain power by means of seditious men. Nothing of this kind is seen in Christ; and, therefore, it follows that he is not an earthly king
     “But here a question arises, Is it not lawful to defend the kingdom of Christ by arms? For when Kings and Princes are commanded to kiss the Son of God, (Psalm ii. 10-12,) not only are they enjoined to submit to his authority in their private capacity, but also to employ all the power that they possess, in defending the Church and maintaining godliness.  I answer, first, they who draw this conclusion, that the doctrine of the Gospel and the pure worship of God ought not to be defended by arms, are unskilful and ignorant reasoners; for Christ argues only from the facts of the case in hand, how frivolous were the calumnies which the Jews had brought against him.  Secondly, though godly kings defend the kingdom of Christ by the sword, still it is done in a different manner from that in which worldly kingdoms are wont to be defended; for the kingdom of Christ, being spiritual, must be founded on the doctrine and power of the Spirit. In the same manner, too, its edification is promoted; for neither the laws and edicts of men, nor the punishments inflicted by them, enter into the consciences.  Yet this does not hinder princes from accidentally defending the kingdom of Christ; partly, by appointing external discipline, and partly, by lending their protection to the Church against wicked men. It results, however, from the depravity of the world, that the kingdom of Christ is strengthened more by the blood of the martyrs than by the aid of arms.” John Calvin, Commentary on the Gospel According to John: Volume Second, William Pringle, trans. (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), 210, 211.
     

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Instrument of Government (1653) and Christian Tolerance (Theonomy Applied)

Major-General John Lambert, drafter
of  The Instrument of Government
The Instrument of Government (1653), which declared Oliver Cromwell Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, was England's first written constitution. It was drafted by Major-General John Lambert (1619-1684). Below are excerpts that address tolerance of professing adherents of Christianity:

XXXV. That the Christian religion, as contained in the Scriptures, be held forth and recommended as the public profession of these nations; and that, as soon as may be, a provision, less subject to scruple and contention, and more certain than the present, be made for the encouragement and maintenance of able and painful teachers, for the instructing the people, and for discovery and confutation of error, hereby, and whatever is contrary to sound doctrine; and until such provision be made, the present maintenance shall not be taken away or impeached.

XXXVI. That to the public profession held forth none shall be compelled by penalties or otherwise; but that endeavours be used to win them by sound doctrine and the example of a good conversation.

XXXVII. That such as profess faith in God by Jesus Christ (though differing in judgment from the doctrine, worship or discipline publicly held forth) shall not be restrained from, but shall be protected in, the profession of the faith and exercise of their religion; so as they abuse not this liberty to the civil injury of others and to the actual disturbance of the public peace on their parts: provided this liberty be not extended to Popery or Prelacy, nor to such as, under the profession of Christ, hold forth and practise licentiousness.



Note about the Theonomy Applied Series: In quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily endorse every aspect of that law as biblical, whether it be the prohibition, sanction, court procedure, etc. Rather, we are merely showing the more or less attempt to apply biblical law in history, whether or not that application was fully biblical. Moreover, in quoting any particular law, we do not necessarily consider those who passed and/or enforced such a law as being fully orthodox in their Christian theology. Professing Christian rulers in history have ranged in their theology from being orthodox (that is, Reformed Protestants) to heretical (for example, Roman Catholics).