Continuing where we left off last time we will now evaluate Ken Gentry's seven points in his theonomy position. These will be essential for affirming or denying his view. It will also be important to remember when reading other people and their often false critics of theonomy.
Chapter 1: Introduction
A Proposed Position
1. God's Law is binding.
This point is highlighted by Mr Gentry saying that "God's Law is law, not suggestion". I don't think anyone would disagree with that. But the concern would be over who is the proper recipient of God's law. Mr Gentry pre-answers this by saying that "all men are obliged to obey". This is where theonomy losses most people.
The simple fact is most Christians don't believe in the continuing authority of God's law into the new covenant era. I think our heretical friend Don Preston would have a thing or two to say about this inconsistency. Nevertheless, this is something that Mr Gentry will have to fight for.
2. God's Law is relevant.
I'm actually not going to lean on anything Mr Gentry writes in this section. I think the practical matter of homosexuality should put a quick end to the topic of relevance. Many Christians will deny that God's law is binding while running fiercely to the law to affirm that homosexuality is a sin.
Maybe you are easily convinced by Paul's passages on homosexuality. What about bestiality? Nowhere in the New Testament is this condemned. Are you prepared to go to the Old Testament law to make an argument against the practice of bestiality? I think the argument for relevance is simple. The bigger question is how relevant we want it to be.
3. God's Law is historical.
This is really a hermeneutical principal. That God's law was given at a specific time for a specific people is obvious. That it contains eternal principals may not be so obvious. That we must use the historical information of the specific people/time to determine the eternal principal is even less obvious.
Many complaints against theonomy claim that they simple want to drop the Old Testament law into the modern day. This might sound nice and simple but it isn't true. Their are relevant and historical principals within God's law that would manifest themselves. Mr Gentry will not be arguing for a strict wooden literalism of God's law.
4. God's Law is adaptable.
This is the application of the above point. If the above point is truly believed, then this point should be the logical and hermeneutical result. Many individuals who go to the Old Testament for eternal principals are misunderstood. They are often called legalistic. But that's simply because the majority report of church laymen remain in confusion over God's law.
5. God's Law is multifaceted.
This is a simple affirmation that while the law can be boiled down to a singular point, it doesn't remain full of depth. It is easy to see Jesus and Paul reduce the law to love (Matt 7:12; 22:40) while recognizing that this doesn't mean the destruction of all morals and laws.
Liberal theology and Christianity has long been pushing the simplistic agenda. And now sadly many conservative Christians are slipping into that simplicity for want of understanding the full depth of God's law. We must affirm God's law is deep and yet simple. Easy to speak but hard to live in every facet of life.
6. God's Law is comprehensive.
Every facet of life. This is the key of this next point. What portion of your life does God desire? Which portion do you think He has a plan for? Which one do you want Him to bless? Which one do you think His law affects? The answers to these questions should look similar. Perhaps it should come as a wake-up call that they are not.
7. God's Law is behavioral.
This is a theologically crucial point. The law does not save. It never has saved. It never will save. This is behavioral and as such can never convert a person to a genuine relationship renewal with God through Jesus Christ. God's law is no substitute for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is especially important when theonomy is linked with postmillennialism. Many begin to propagate the lie that postmillennial Christians want to force their Biblical law on people and make them all Christians. This is patently false. Postmillennial Christians want to convert everyone through the gospel and call them to discipleship in God's law.
Hopefully this post was able to introduce some interesting thoughts. The next few blogs will cover chapter two and the essence of God's law.
Joshua Torrey is the sole proprietor of Torrey Gazette (don't tell Alaina) and the fullness of its editorial process. That means everything wrong with TG can legitimately be blamed on him.