Chapter 7: Practical Benefits of God's Law
Well we are closing in on the home stretch. In fact this special week of theonomy should close out this book and launch us into a serious discussion of Greg Bahnsen or Kenneth Gentry's response to follower of Meredith Kline.
For the most part this book is done with arguments. There is a good set of arguments in chapter eight that will be purposely skipped for the sake of not covering everything within this book. Chapter eight deals with the topic of theonomy within historical Reformed confessions. This chapter deals with practical benefits of God's law. We'll move through this very quickly as we simply make general responses to each of Mr Gentry's points.
1. An Intact Word of God
We have to ask ourselves a serious question when we deal with theonomy. It is the same question one must ask about infant baptism. It is the same question that haunt the hermenutical theory of progressive revelation. "What revelation shows us we must change previous revelation?"
That really is the crux question of many doctrinal differences between denominations. In particular Baptists tend to prefer the New Testament say something explicitly. But what revelation gives us the slightest idea that this should be the standard working model of God's revelation? Likewise, opponents of theonomy tend to stress the change in the New Covenant. Of course there are changes. But does that automatically entail that God's standard of moral law has changed? Well, answers vary but Mr Gentry makes a strong argument that only theonomy retains a whole and intact Scripture.
1. God's law outlines specific moral behavior.
This is the most obvious of benefits to the theonomic position. And once someone concedes that the theonomic position does this successfully, the debate over theonomy is over. Presently I am persuaded by the strong push from Greg Bahnsen that the Scriptures do teach this and that it is a huge benefit to the believer.
2. God's law obligates us to love our neighbor.
So does the teaching of Jesus Christ. But the law does give us some excellent source material for examples of how this is to be done. Even Reformed folk who retain the "general equity" of the law are willing to stress this benefit.
3. God's law obligates us to treat our enemies with respect.
While there are certainly OT texts to support this, there are also New Testament texts to support this. Is this a benefit? Of course. Is it a unique benefit? No.
4. God's law obligates safety of others.
Deuteronomy 22:8 stands as a great example of the value of retaining the "general equity" of the law. But I'm not convinced this is a benefit unique to the Old Testament case law.
5. God's law obligates full financial remuneration.
Okay, now we're striking on some interesting ground. The reason this is of particular benefit to the theonomic thesis is because the topic of financial retribution goes generally untouched in the New Testament. And yet we see in modern law a great misfortune in legislation to protect property and money. This lack of law has lead to insurance companies that make money on provided essentially nothing but a promise of retribution from a source that is not held responsible in God's eyes.
6. God's law forbids us to load money at interest to the needy.
There are quite a few sinful people who love this idea. There are quite a few Godly people who could be delivered many burdens through this. This truth is practical. This truth is Biblical. This truth is Old Testament case law. It is hard to make an argument for this without adhering to the theonomic thesis.
Tomorrow we will look at some of the "public benefits" before more to the conclusion of the book!
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.