Chapter 4: The New Testament and God's Law
As we continue to look at chapter four it should become clear that this section is far from a negative against the thesis of theonomy. But since most people reject the view outright it can hardly be counted as a productive chapter. Nevertheless, it is a necessary chapter and one that allows people to take their pulse on the theonomy perspective.
Love is Defined by God's Law
This is barely debatable. Jesus is clear that love is the culmination of the law (Matt 22:37-40). Paul is clear that boiling down the law results in love (Rom 13:8, 10; Gal 5:14; 6:2). Even James gets in on the pronouncement of law as the ultimate fulfilled by love (James 2:8). John finishes everything off with a simple correlation between love for God and obeying His commandments (1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6).
Though this section is not the shut door on the argument, it does begin to change the nature of the debate. We are not talking legalism. We are talking love. When the law is used to justify it is a legalistic and dangerous thing. When the law is used to protect the people of God it is described as love.
God's Commandments are Important
Depending on how one interprets Paul's writing in 1 Corinthians 7:9 the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:19 could in fact be the end-all of the discussion. Coupled with a straight forward reading Romans 7:12 and one can see how easily Mr Gentry can say "the new covenant age will involve living under the directives of God's law."
If one accepts Gentry's claim that John's epistles teach that "law-keeping provides evidence hat one truly knows Christ" then the roots of theonomy are certainly developing.
Gospel Preaching Depends on the Law
This is a section that I think is true and valuable without pushing the theonomy argument. It is true that Paul's gospel stems straight out of the truth of sin (Rom 3:23; 6:23; Eph 2:1). Jesus and John are clear that the kingdom is about repentance of sin (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; 5:32) . This is one of the important times where even after the resurrection the teaching has not changed (Luke 24:47).
It is with these fundamental gospel principals that Peter gives his sermon on pentecost (Acts 2:38). These examples all point to two of the previous points Gentry has attempted to make: God's law defines and convicts of sin.
Judgment Day is Based on the Law
This was an interesting section to read. It has probably only been a week since I wrote up the post for the Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement. In that post I dealt with the idea of the final judgment being based on works. Here also I was confronted with Gentry's perspective on the subject. Though he and I would find many places of agreement, he does an excellent job of stressing the importance of the law in judgment.
Quoting passages like Matthew 7:23, Romans 2:14-16, Galatians 2:16, James 2:10 and Revelation 20:12 Gentry is able to conclude the section by saying "that judgment will not weigh man's merit whereby men may be saved...rather it will determine the degree of punishment that the unsaved receive in hell."
In conclusion I remain unconvinced that this chapter succeeded in doing what it was meant to do. It was necessary but I felt that the teaching of Greg Bahnsen was much stronger in this area. In the future we will look at some of his teaching from the book "Theonomy in Christian Ethics".
In the next theonomy post Ken Gentry will be tackling passages that seem to put a negative light on his thesis.