Chapter 4: The New Testament and God's Law
Having already read this chapter, I both like it as a sympathetic theonomist but dislike it from the perspective of its conversion value. I just didn't feel the strength of this chapter by any stretch of the imagination.
The New Testament Assumes the Law
Gentry's argument here is simple. The Scriptures in the New Testament are affirmed as valuable for all Christians (John 10:35; 2 Tim 3:16-17). This is certainly true but it doesn't mean they are directly applicable. Even the passages that address heathen Gentiles are valuable to the Christian. Judas hanging himself is valuable to the Christian. But they aren't inherently directly applicable simply by their place in the Scriptures. Still, this is a necessary starting point though it proves nothing.
The New Testament Confirms the Law
This section is the lone bright light in the chapter. Mr Gentry highlights Romans 3:31 and Galatians 3:21 to demonstrate the impossible nature of placing faith and law at odds with each other. Paul simply does not speak in this capacity. Instead Paul sees them as affirming one another and being in harmony in the Christian church.
New Testament Sermons Are Based on the Law
There are multiple pre-crucifixion texts that are provided to show that Jesus taught and preached from the law (Matt 7:12; Luke 10:26). The problem is that this doesn't make it directly applicable to a post-pentecost church.
Some of the better texts that are provided come from Acts. Here Luke does seems to still be approving of people based upon their conformity to the Old Testament law (Acts 22:12; 24:14). However, it could still be argued that this is before the destruction of Jerusalem and hence a middle period of Jewish existence. Both individuals that Luke mentions are Jews and their obligations to the law had not yet ceased until the destruction of the temple.
The only New Testament text that might avoid this response is found in the book of Revelation. There John speaks of keeping the commandments of God (Rev 12:17; 14:12). These texts are hardly an anomaly from the rest of 1 John however. So one must be work to determine whether this means the Old Testament commandments.
Old Testament Case Laws are Cited as Binding Directives
Some may not know what the term "case law" refers to. It is the designation of laws that acts as "case" examples to the fulfillment of the Ten Commandments. Most of what we think of as "the law" is in fact the recording of case laws.
Here again the time frame of the Scriptures provided are questionable. Citing Jesus (Mark 10:19) and Paul (Acts 23:3) as they convict legalistic Jews of their failure hardly counts as binding on Christians.
However, there are a couple great verses in this section that do go a long way to proving Mr Gentry's point. The first is the case law cited in 1 Corinthians 9:8-9. The second is 1 Timothy 5:18. The point is clear in both of these texts that the Old Testament law provided guidance in the management and behavior of the church. But is that enough to prove the larger thesis that the whole of the Old Testament law is binding on the Believer?
We'll continue next week with a brief look at the closing sections of chapter 4.