Friday, February 8, 2013

Non-Theonomists and the First Table of the Law (Brief Thoughts on Theonomy)

by Steve C. Halbrook

If non-theonomists would come to see that A) the first table of the law is even more important than the second table of the law (as important as the latter is)--so that, if second table offenses such as theft and murder should be criminalized, how much more should first table offenses, such as blasphemy and witchcraft--and that B) criminalizing certain outward offenses of the first table of the law is not the same as forcing someone to believe the Gospel (only God can cause one to believe, Jn. 6:44), then many non theonomists might just become theonomists. 

Regarding the second point, the idea that the state's forcing one to restrain outwardly from idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, etc. is somehow forcing one to become a Christian has been promoted for so long that many cannot see on this point the enormous categorical distinction between internal and external matters (one might refrain from blasphemy outwardly, but not inwardly). Moreover, when pressed consistently, this view that opposes criminalizing immoral acts would also make criminalizing offenses against the second table of the law an imposition of Christian faith; after all, the forbidding of second table offenses is also coercing one not to sin externally against God. By this logic, theft and murder couldn't be criminalized!

Finally, belief in Christ as Savior is different than works. Obedience to either table of the law is not saving faith. Nevertheless, men are to both believe the Gospel and to obey the civil enforcement of biblical law. The difference is the role of civil rulers--they do not coerce belief, but they do punish crimes.  

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