Chapter 5: Negative Passages and God's Law
This is a very interesting chapter. I believe that handled properly it can be the major breaking point for a pro-theonomy view. Or at the very least a more sympathetic opinion. During the introduction Kenneth Gentry lists three "backdrops" to keep in mind while analyzing the so-called "negative passages" that seem to refute theonomy. These backdrops are 1) argumentative backdrop, 2) historical backdrop and 3) theological backdrop.
I personally find that Mr Gentry slips between these very often. They almost get to a point where they are indiscernible from one another. Of the three, the argumentative backdrop carries the most recognition. Stems from previous "positive passages", Mr Gentry almost establishes an impossible task for any negative passage. Matthew 5:17-19 and Romans 3:31 can only be used so often in support of a principal application of the Scriptures.
So while Mr Gentry says that he wants to "promote a whole-Bible ethic", I fear he may have done himself a disservice by over addressing the "argumentative backdrop".
A Survey of Passages
In this section we are provided with four categories that these supposed negative passages are slotted into. They categories are 1) passages that renounce the law for justification, 2) passages emphasizing death to the law, 3) passages pertinent to the ceremonial law and 4) misunderstood passages.
In surveying the upcoming texts, these categories are used to disqualify the texts as negative passages. The introduction of this concept is useful. The inconsistent and non-direct application of it throughout the chapter is less useful.
Mr Gentry is quick to place this in category four. The reason? Contextual argumentative backdrop. The majority of the defense stems from other passages in the epistle to the Romans (Rom 3:19, 31; 7:12 ) that would seem to diffuse Romans 6:14 as a negative passage text.
In addition to this contextual argument, Mr Gentry points to multiple Old Testament references that would seem to deny the setting up of law against grace. The strongest of these truly is Psalm 119:29. I find it very interesting when Mr Gentry says that "law and grace are not antithetical" for this truly does strike me as a Federal Vision type statement.
As we continue in this chapter we will directly address more negative passages. Many of them however continue in the vein of the epistle to the Romans and share a similar defense.