Saturday, April 21, 2012

Some Comments on the Present Controversy to Exegete Rushdoony’s “Radical Libertarianism” Statement



(Above: autonomous man)
Does secular libertarianism advocate
theonomy or autonomy?
"Secular libertarianism has no concept
of civil enforcement of the First Table
of the Law ... As to the Second Table,
the penalties under secular
libertarianism would differ, and some
would be truncated altogether."
(photo by Oren neu dag/CC BY -SA 2.5)
by Caleb Hayden 
Biblical Soteriology

[Editor's note: one can read about the controversy here and here, with the latter link being Joel McDurmon's latest comments on the controversy (note the American Vision disclaimer in the first link)]


The debate continues about Rushdoony’s meaning when he contrasted biblical theocracy with dictatorial, tyrannical rule and urged that theocracy in Scripture is instead the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.

The Core Issue: Defining the Civil Magistrate’s Role with the Non-Aggression Principle vs. Biblical Law
The core issue of controversy has been quite plain all along, it seems: The libertarian basis for limiting the power of the civil magistrate and protecting individual rights is the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate’s role. Dr. Talbot explains and analyzes this notion quite well in his article. The other information he provided about the concepts and history behind the word “libertarianism” was indeed interesting and perhaps not entirely necessary in the context of the present controversy. The important point is that the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate, means that coercive power is immoral for the state to use unless it is preventing the violation of another person’s rights. Contrary to this, the Scriptures contain various instances of “sins” that are “voluntary” (and thus, by the libertarian standard, do not “aggress” against another person’s rights) but which count as “crimes” worthy of death.
There is more than simply a “foundational theological difference” between the two political systems of libertarianism and theonomic theocracy. The difference extends, not to every conceivable ethical question (for one could inconsistently hold to “theonomic ethics” in his personal morality, yet not in his political platform), but rather to the following narrow yet important point: By what standard does the civil magistrate inflict punishments for crimes and determine the limits of its jurisdiction?
Steve Halbrook’s charge of equivocation seems to stand against those who maintain that theonomic views of libertarianism have the same meaning compared with secular views, as to the scope of political structure and law. In fact, secular libertarianism has no concept of civil enforcement of the First Table of the Law, which is inherent in Rushdoony’s theonomy (thus, a major difference in the “law” part of the political platform). As to the Second Table, the penalties under secular libertarianism would differ, and some would be truncated altogether (e.g., no civil sanction for voluntary sodomy or adultery). Secular libertarianism seeks to limit the civil magistrate on a different basis (an arbitrary rule) than what could be called a "Christian" version of libertarianism (which defines the civil magistrate's role in terms of God's revealed Law; this makes all the difference in the world).
To those who say that libertarianism is inherently biblical and Christ-honoring: This introduces confusion when a system that styles itself “libertarianism” maintains an unbiblical concept such as the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate. Far from being biblical, such a system seeks to truncate and overturn Christ’s rule and Law as the standard for the civil realm, which opens the door for arbitrary application (i.e., tyrannical statism) of an unstable system not rooted in God’s Law.
Rushdoony [above] "also cautioned
that the libertarian political ethic
gives too much room for immorality...
because [libertarians] do not
acknowledge God's Law that civilly
proscribes certain "voluntary" acts
that the libertarian system would
not recognize as crimes."
Applying this to Ron Paul
As it relates to definitions of these systems and to Ron Paul, the debate should be primarily about his political philosophy. Here you will see that he adheres to the libertarian “non-aggression principle,” as applied to the civil magistrate. Dr. Talbot’s points are sound regarding the libertarian non-aggression principle and Ron Paul’s adherence to it. This is why some of us charge certain of Ron Paul’s supporters with equivocation when they say that libertarianism is inherently and necessarily biblical and Christ-honoring, for they are (presumably) referring to a “libertarianism” that seeks to limit the civil magistrate by God’s revealed Law. They then ignore the fact that Ron Paul’s libertarianism is at least largely grounded in the humanistic “non-aggression principle” as applied to the civil magistrate (which is the “secular” libertarian position that we oppose).
Are we justified to say that Ron Paul is antinomian across the board? In fact, I maintain that his critics who say this are overstretching and giving supporters of his candidacy room to respond with legitimate criticisms. I like to segment categories and focus specifically on his civil ethics, which is the primary issue at hand as we evaluate a candidate's qualifications for civil office. Is he inconsistent? I hope we can all agree the answer is yes. Are his positions informed by biblical morality at points? Undoubtedly, yes. Our major concern has to be with those who ignore Ron Paul’s problematic statements that incorporate a humanistic, biblically foreign premise (the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate) into his political philosophy and platform.
Here is an example that could aid understanding of this important point: A number of theonomic Ron Paul critics (most, in fact) like to say, “Ron Paul thinks it’s fine if gays marry.” Well, he did make statements to this effect, but Ron Paul’s supporters point out that he is probably “personally” against this from a moral standpoint (at least, some of his statements or literature seems to give this impression). How are we to resolve this seeming conflict between his “political” and “personal” views? My answer, again, is to focus specifically on his civil ethic and political philosophy. He believes the civil government cannot force people to be moral in the sense of internal virtue (true enough), and he argues that the extent of civil government’s role, again, is to prevent aggression against others’ rights (he clearly said so numerous times and in numerous ways in the video I linked to above, so this should not be a point of controversy). Yes, civil government should proscribe fraud, theft, coercion, and murder, which are biblically unlawful aggressions against others’ rights; there is no argument here. The controversy is whether civil government should recognize Christ as the ultimate political authority and whether His Law is the standard to define and limit the role of the civil magistrate, protect individual liberty, and enumerate the specific penal sanctions for crimes. 
There is some overlap between libertarianism and the Christian theonomic/theocratic position, especially as to deconstructing the state. Rushdoony himself said libertarians are exceptionally good critics of state power, and I personally think his stance on voting ethics could have given him warrant to support Ron Paul’s candidacy, just as his prominent son (Mark Rushdoony), son-in-law (Gary North), and grandson-in-law (Joel McDurmon) are doing. But as these men likely recognize (and so should we), Rush also cautioned that the libertarian political ethic gives too much room for immorality (especially in the sexual realm) — not because libertarians are of necessity all “personally in favor of” immorality but because they do not acknowledge God’s Law that civilly proscribes certain “voluntary” acts that the libertarian system would not recognize as crimes.
Some will say that if the major outworkings of the two systems, libertarianism and theonomic theocracy, are the same — especially in the desperate battle to fight centralized, statist tyranny — the articulation and application of the important underlying philosophy and foundations can be delayed for more agreeable times. The first problem with this is that compromise covers up the truth; God's Law is redefined so as to rationalize the expedient agenda of the day. (I realize not all Ron Paul supporters are doing this and I appreciate those who will agree with my critique of the libertarian system and its differences with consistent theonomy, but many will be hostile to this critique, ignore it, or explain it away by claiming that their redefinition of theonomy is what was formulated in the beginning.) 
Secondly, the battle will be won by fighting from beginning to end (especially when the battle rages hottest) upon a solid foundation. The faithful soldier expects to receive fire from God's enemies, and He may give his life in the process. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). If now is not the time to fight specifically and principally for Christ's Kingship over the nations and an explicitly biblical expression of His Law as applied to politics, when will the time possibly come? God's Word warns us of wrath and judgment upon ungodliness, so if disobedience got us into this mess, only repentance and obedience on the part of God's regenerate people will ultimately get us out. Ponder these things and consider how God would have you to wisely apply them to your voting decisions and political action — not merely to the question of whether to support Ron Paul, but to every alliance you form, position you articulate, candidate you support, and priority you model before a watching world and future generations (not to mention God's omniscient eye). Take all these decisions captive to the obedience of Christ!

12 comments:

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Good post. Although I come down on the side of supporting RP, I agree with most of your criticisms here. Thx.

Am having a debate with a 'Christian Anarchist' on my blog, and there is a debate raging about this post over on the Christian Anarchist FB page (OK, not a debate, a series of commments).

Austrian_guru said...

“Contrary to this, the Scriptures contain various instances of “sins” that are “voluntary” (and thus, by the libertarian standard, do not “aggress” against another person’s rights) but which count as “crimes” worthy of death.” ~ Yes, Scripture contains about 4 or 5 vague crimes that require the death penalty. The question is, Should we interpret the vague crimes according to the ideas of socialism, statism, and collectivism, or should we interpret the vague crimes according to the NAP (no violation against property: 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments).

Caleb is not arguing for a theocracy, but an ecclesiocracy. What is the difference? The difference is not whether or not law is based on morality or not. The question is whether all immorality should be made criminal.

“[S]ecular libertarianism has no concept of civil enforcement of the First Table of the Law.” ~ This is not a sacred/secular distinction. The distinction is a natural law distinction as defined by the NAP, which is summarized in the 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments. In contrast to this distinction we have the totalitarian view of the civil magistrate that would not distinguish between sin and crime, but make all immorality criminal, which is nothing more than a neo-barbaric conversion by the sword.

“As to the Second Table, the penalties under secular libertarianism would differ, and some would be truncated altogether (e.g., no civil sanction for voluntary sodomy or adultery).” ~ First of all, sodomy is not mentioned in the Second Table. Second of all, there would be sanctions for adultery if there is a contract. If there is a consent (I do), consideration (wedding ring) to a contract and the contract contains sanctions, then what libertarian could disagree?

“Secular libertarianism seeks to limit the civil magistrate on a different basis (an arbitrary rule)…” ~ Secular merely means temporal as opposed to eternal. Is time the issue here or is atheism the issue? I think the rule is the non-aggression principle, which many atheists will hold too, just as many atheists hold to the Pythagorean theorem. Now, as stated above, the NAP can be deduced from the 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments. Are these commandments “arbitrary” too? Is there a secular Pythagorean theorem that Christians should not agree with? The author seems to be unable to distinguish between ideologies and worldviews.

““[L]ibertarianism” maintains an unbiblical concept such as the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate.” ~ Take note, Caleb is stating that the 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments are “unbiblical.” Caleb also states, “Yes, civil government should proscribe fraud, theft, coercion, and murder, which are biblically unlawful aggressions against others’ rights; there is no argument here.” ~ Ha!

Austrian_guru said...

“Far from being biblical, such a system seeks to truncate and overturn Christ’s rule and Law as the standard for the civil realm, which opens the door for arbitrary application (i.e., tyrannical statism) of an unstable system not rooted in God’s Law.” ~ Far from being biblical, theonomic socialists seek to truncate the clear prescriptions of the 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments and all for all immorality to be made criminal. For instance, without the principle of non-aggression, what immoral act could not be construed as idolatry. With no principle of demarcation between sin and crime, theonomic socialists become a tyrant’s dream citizen.

“They then ignore the fact that Ron Paul’s libertarianism is at least largely grounded in the humanistic “non-aggression principle” as applied to the civil magistrate (which is the “secular” libertarian position that we oppose).” ~ Humanistic? Are the 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments “humanistic” as well? It would be good to define what you mean by using the term “humanistic” so your audience knows what you are talking about. Do you mean atheistic? Does one have to be an atheist to believe that the clearest crimes of the Decalogue are criminal? Is it the secular libertarian or the atheistic libertarian you oppose? Do you oppose temporal things, or atheistic things? Later, Caleb contradicts himself anyway: “Yes, civil government should proscribe fraud, theft, coercion, and murder, which are biblically unlawful aggressions against others’ rights; there is no argument here.”!!!

“Our major concern has to be with those who ignore Ron Paul’s problematic statements that incorporate a humanistic, biblically foreign premise (the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate) into his political philosophy and platform.” ~ Caleb’s problem is that he doesn’t believe that theft is wrong for all people. He doesn’t believe that murder is wrong for all people. He doesn’t believe that bearing false witness is wrong for all people. If this is not a biblically foreign premise, then I do not know what is. However, Caleb does contradict himself later: “Yes, civil government should proscribe fraud, theft, coercion, and murder, which are biblically unlawful aggressions against others’ rights; there is no argument here.”!!!

“Rush also cautioned that the libertarian political ethic gives too much room for immorality (especially in the sexual realm) — not because libertarians are of necessity all “personally in favor of” immorality but because they do not acknowledge God’s Law that civilly proscribes certain “voluntary” acts that the libertarian system would not recognize as crimes.” ~ This is why libertarianism is not a religion, but an ideology. However, theonomic socialists would have you punished apart from the individual contract for victimless crimes. They do not believe that vengeance is His. They believe that vengeance is theirs (provided that they get to sit in the judgment seat I’m sure).

Caleb said...

To Austrian_guru (and others who might be confused): Not much needs to be stated in response to your fallacies and misrepresentations other than you need to please re-read my article carefully. I wrote this in one of my opening paragraphs: "The important point is that the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate, means that coercive power is immoral for the state to use unless it is preventing the violation of another person’s rights." Please interpret every further negative reference to the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate, in light of this sentence.

I take issue with the notion that coercive power may only be used by the civil magistrate to prevent aggression against others' rights. This is not a biblical idea. As you pointed out, civil government may use coercion to prevent aggression against others' rights (I said so clearly in the article, but you misread me to be contradicting myself), but that is not the extent to which God's Law grants coercive power to the civil magistrate. If you are going to critique this position, at least represent me fairly.

This is simply classical theonomy.

Yes, I recognize a distinction between sins and crimes. Nothing in my article in any sense contradicted this important distinction.

No, I am not arguing for an ecclesiocracy. You neither defined this word, nor did you show how my article argued for this.

I am mostly targeting old school theonomists (and those who know something about theonomy but are confused about its application to the civil magistrate) in this article, and I'm not interested in arguing with people who already have embraced classical political libertarianism and/or anarchism. I will, however, to some extent correct misrepresentations of my views by anyone, including by people like Austrian_guru.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Yes, it really seems as if he didn't read the article. Indeed, he hardly seems to have read the parts he quoted.

Can someone tell me how Sodomy is a 'vague crime'? Or incest?

And as for where it fits, I believe that Sodomy is a violation of the second great commandment (love your neighbor), the commandment 'thou shalt not commit adultery', and is, obviously, specifically forbidden in the case laws and the NT, receiving the death penalty in both places.

And, actually, would any libertarian really agree that a marriage contract which contained death penalty provisions for its violation could be enforced? And by whom? If so I am more impressed by the libertarians than I thought I was :)

Anonymous said...

It has been asserted that the non-aggression principle is "unbiblical". But I am not convinced this is the case.

It seems equivalent to saying "Kids, don't bite others" or "You shall not eat donuts without paying for them" are "unbiblical" assumptions.

No, it not possible to derive these "principles" from unbelieving (ultimately incoherent) worldviews. But I'm sure glad that unbelievers--inconsistently with their foundational assumptions about reality--are interested in refraining from the initiation of biting and worse! It makes dialogue easier, whereby the Word of God may pierce their hearts and change their foundational assumptions about reality. (If they are hell-bent on violence, well, the conversation doesn't get very far...)

All that the non-aggression principle covers can (easily!) be derived from the foundation of the moral law of God. Yes, this requires rightly understanding aggression, which I am happy to admit ultimately takes a Christian worldview. Yet many unbelievers by common grace are using "borrowed capital" from the Christian worldview (as the law is written on their heart and revealed in creation) to understand aggression related to most forms of murder and theft - indeed, even if they are dreadfully wrong on issues like abortion (as some are), often unbelieving libertarians are far more consistent than Christians on the true meaning of aggression, as those who bear the name of Christ make excuses for the State when it engages in evil. It ought not be so!

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Anonymous seems a bit off in his logic.

First of all, he makes a bit of a leap, I'm not sure why, from 'unBiblical' to 'unBiblical assumptions'.

But that is trivial. The much more dramatic logical leap is as follows. He seems to say that if principle A leads to conclusion B, then if conclusion B is true, then principle A is true. However this is false.

It may be true that an application of the NAP would lead to the forbidding of biting and eating unpaid for food. But that does not mean that only the NAP leads to those conclusions. It could also be, and some would assert it, that God's direct command to love our neighbors, detailed in the various subsidiary laws, would also forbid these things, without ever passing through the intermediate stage of the NAP.

If Anonymous will review other laws of God, he might find laws that are inconsistent with the NAP; leading some of us to believe that the principle we are to follow is the theonomic principle, not the NAP.

Caleb said...

Anonymous wrote: "It has been asserted that the non-aggression principle is 'unbiblical'."

To be clear, there is a biblical version of the "non-aggression principle," and it is found in several of the Ten Commandments (especially within the Second Table) and various Older Testament Judicial Laws. As I clearly stated in my article and in my follow-up comment responding to the misrepresentations of Austrian_guru, Scripture forbids fraud, murder, and various forms of unlawful coercion.

Pertaining to the libertarian system, as I understand it, the essential feature of this political philosophy is application of the "non-aggression principle" to every person and institution, including the civil magistrate. This means, for practical purposes, that the civil magistrate should not interfere with "voluntary" idolatry, blasphemy, sodomy, and other violations of God's Law for which He specifically prescribes a civil sanction. Yet the Bible does not impose the "non-aggression" principle on the civil magistrate, for civil government is a God-ordained institution to enforce God's justice. This is why we object to libertarianism.

It is a straw man to say that we are suggesting that the non-aggression principle is "unbiblical" across the board. Rather, we are saying that it does not apply to the civil magistrate insofar as God's Law requires civil officers to stray neither to the right nor to the left from enforcing the specifics of His Law. (Note: civil rulers are not to enforce their own arbitrary applications or imaginations of what might be moral, but rather what God's Law specifically commands by way of penal sanctions, or civil punishments for "crimes"). God's Law is the standard, not the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate. As Dr. Bahnsen argues in his lecture, "Libertarianism vs. Christianity," the non-aggression principle, as applied to the civil magistrate (and it is key for you to catch the repeatedly used phrase "as applied to the civil magistrate"), cannot be biblically derived and must be rejected in favor of the specific moral framework of God's Law.

Anonymous said...

@Caleb
Indeed, my view is that the moral law of God is over presidents, kings, nobles, judges, and all of the ruling class of a society just as much as the common man. Individuals acting as representatives of the State may not engage in murder, theft, or fraud, any more than other individuals--regardless of what noble end or essential civil function is in view. Unfortunately, this sort of lawlessness is imbedded in the very *nature* of the modern State.

The State makes false claims about itself. This is especially true of democratic States, supposedly "of the people, by the people, for the people" when in fact some people are still ruling over others - two lambs and a wolf deciding on what's for dinner--and what's worse, no area of life is off the menu.

But note that the problem isn't merely that Government has overstepped some "scriptural bounds" (as if Scripture ever encourages men to form this type of territorial monopoly of force), but the very notion some people should own/control/rule other people. Insofar as any single person dissents from being made a mandatory "customer" of the State's "services" there is non-consensual rule of man over man.

This is a problem as fundamental as involuntary servitude (chattel slavery) but on a higher level. Yes, the Scriptures allow for voluntary servitude, but the involuntary sort is rightfully understood to be immoral and warrant total root-and-branch abolition. Likewise, in a free society there must be people we call "governors", "rulers", "arbitrators", "judges", "police" etc. enforcing the moral law. What we object to is that such rulers enforce the law by *first breaking it*.

The State is an expropriating protector, a contradiction in terms. It unilaterally determines how much and what type of "protection" (or whatever else) it will provide and at what cost.
The demand for funding by taxation is an inherently aggressive behavior (threats of violence are in store for any who resist). Note again that it isn't just the massive waste, fraud, and abuse of such tax money that is problematic. The problem is that you have some people purporting to have a prior claim on the property/income/lives of other people.

Anonymous said...

@Caleb, who wrote:
"This means, for practical purposes, that the civil magistrate should not interfere with "voluntary" idolatry, blasphemy, sodomy, and other violations of God's Law for which He specifically prescribes a civil sanction."

Theonomists differ from most Christians here only by a matter of degree, as the former are more consistent in miss-applying the civil law of Israel to the modern State in this way.

Scripture's own interpretation of Scripture shows something entirely different. For example, read and study 1 Cor 5, where the apostle Paul clearly articulates the "general equity"(WCF 19.4)of OT death-penalty cases related to God's present covenant community - the Church, through the exercise of discipline (expulsion to "purge the evil from your midst") - with no hint that the modern State should use the sword against such sins as violations of the 7th commandment. cf. 1 Cor 5:13 with Deut. 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7.

So no, we should *not* kill, imprison, fine or otherwise harm people who engage in such sinful but voluntary folly. Love these pagans who are living as...yes, pagans...those outside the covenant community. That means boldly standing for the truth and preaching forgiveness through Christ, ultimately relying on the persuasion of the Holy Spirit--not the sword.

Texts like Rom 13, 1 Pet 2, and Titus 3:1 are difficult for anyone, as they must be nuanced to avoid teaching absolute submission to tyrants. But the Bible has so much more to say about the State, such as 1 Sam 8 for a start--warning about the State's methods of conducting "business". The above mentioned texts are consistent with truly consensual government (the market/voluntary type) and the whole counsel of God is far more consistent with this type than the violent type of State most Christians support today.

Further, how in Genesis 9 is the "life-for-life" principle of justice carried out in that day without such a modern State? Does Rom 13 really require the sword to be "public" (funded by compulsory taxation, a monopoly of force in a territory) or is not a private/voluntary sector sword possible?

Further, how in Genesis 9 is the "life-for-life" principle of justice carried out in that day without such a modern State? Does Rom 13 really require the sword to be "public" (funded by compulsory taxation, a monopoly of force in a territory) or is not a private/voluntary sector sword possible? Before anyone cries that this would lead to a "warlord society", consider how nice it would be to choose from among several local police depts. for your protection (how long would speed traps and tag-scanners last? would they start shooting each other or trying to provide customers with better protection and avoid costly wars?), consider how superior private security already is to government security (your own firearm, mall security, etc.)

Yes, pay taxes and revenue to whom they are due. But plunder isn't due to thieves under the cover of law - and it wasn't Caesar's coin in the least just because it had his picture on it and claimed a monopoly of its production, you know. Yes, give honor and respect to whom they are due. But the parasitic class of men who claim to be a law unto themselves, above the requirements of the moral law of God, are not due any honor or respect - indeed their evil deeds warrant hatred and contempt. Yes, we should love them as enemies--never approving of their depredations, but seeking to win their hearts and minds over to the truth by the gospel, or at least attempting to persuade them to accept (by common grace) the principle that they ought not use violence to control/own/rule their fellow man.

Caleb said...

@Anonymous, you bring up some interesting points and I'm sure we could engage in an interesting discussion, but as I wrote earlier to Austrian_guru, I'm mostly targeting old school theonomists who recognize that God's Law provides important distinctions between theft and taxation by the magistrate, as well as between murder and justly inflicted capital punishment by the magistrate. Political anarchists and libertarians who embrace the unbiblical form of the non-aggression principle are not who I'm targeting at this particular point.

Vaughn Ohlman said...

Scripture's own interpretation of Scripture shows something entirely different. For example, read and study 1 Cor 5, where the apostle Paul clearly articulates the "general equity"(WCF 19.4)of OT death-penalty cases related to God's present covenant community - the Church, through the exercise of discipline (expulsion to "purge the evil from your midst") - with no hint that the modern State should use the sword against such sins as violations of the 7th commandment. cf. 1 Cor 5:13 with Deut. 13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7.

So no, we should *not* kill, imprison, fine or otherwise harm people who engage in such sinful but voluntary folly.



Anonymous seems to make the common error of mistaking jurisdictions here. No theonomist, at least none that I would know, would argue that the proper 'punishment' for the unrepenetnant sinner, within the jurisdiction of the church, is 'church discipline', possibly resulting in excommunication.

But the church jurisidction is not the only jurisdiction. The Scripture, even the NT, still speak of the jurisidctions of the magistrate, the family, the master, the employer, etc. Has the law concerning those jurisdictions been abrogated somewhere in the NT?

A 'hint' of the proper use of the law in the NT is found here:

1Ti 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;


We all know, hopefully, what punishments the law proscribes for some of these actions. Surely it cannot be argued even from the WCF (which is not Scripture) that the 'general equity' of the OT law is served by excommunicating a murderer instead of executing him. Indeed, what would we do for his second murder? Excommunicate him again?

No. One might argue (although I wouldn't) that the general equity might mean that we could now use bullets instead of stones to execute murderers or blasphemers or Sodomites (I suppose they are small stones, thrown very quickly) but that is a far, far, cry from replacing the punishment entirely, completely ignoring all other jurisdictions, and denying the basic Scriptural metaphor of life for life.