What dominionists would do with gays (disobedient children, sabbath breakers, etc.), Part 3

On Monday and Tuesday, I published posts examining what dominionists (short hand for Christians who believe Old Testament law should be the basis for civil law) recommend for people who violate aspects of Mosaic law. Today, I briefly examine a 2011 book by Stephen Che Halbrook titled, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.

The book is an extension of a Master’s thesis presented at Regent University in 2008. The thesis and the book calls on government to use the Old Testament moral code as a basis for civil law, including the death penalty for blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, disobedient children, adulterers and gays.

Halbrook runs the Theonomy Resources and teaches at The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy. New Geneva is a college-level school which is endorsed by American Vision’s Gary DeMar, Chaplain Ray Moore, of Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate, and Mark Rushdoony, son of R. J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism.

Basically, Halbrook says that capital punishment for violators of biblical law benefits society. Throughout the book he makes the case that the laws governing all of us should reflect “God’s law as applied to the realm of civil government (which is mostly found in the Older Testament).” (p.xxi). Here is a sampling of recommendations for capital sanctions. On disobedient children he writes:

To all this we must add that capital sanctions for those who repudiate parental authority protect the family from treason. Many today would think capital punishment for treason against the family is extreme, but on the other hand, capital punishment for treason against the state is a necessity. (p. 205)

On Sabbath-breaking:

Given the evidence that criminality begins with Sabbath breaking, we see the importance of the Sabbath capital sanction. Fear of execution by the state deters many would-be criminals from embracing a life of crime and executing innocent people. Thus the more lax society becomes regarding the Bible’s penalty for Sabbath-breaking, the more society can expect to contend with crime. “[T]he wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the wages of the heinous sin of Sabbath breaking on a societal level results in death on a societal level. (p. 191)

In general, God’s law as understood by Reconstructionist authors is to be the law of the land. On sanctions against blasphemy, Halbrook writes:

In sum, the purpose of civil government is not primarily to defend the rights of man, but the rights of God. God’s rights over the state entail the state’s requirement to recognize God as Lord over the state (i.e., the highest political authority), and the state’s requirement to execute God’s wrath in His prescribed manner. This in no way diminishes human rights, but increases them. As we can see from the necessity of theocentric laws that we discussed, to disregard God’s rights—which are the rights from which all human rights derive—is to disregard man’s rights. And what right of God is more fundamental than not to be blasphemed? (p. 155)

This is similar to the thinking of Islamic clerics who defend anti-blasphemy laws in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, where Christian mother of five, Asia Bibisits in a prison cell waiting to see if her sentence of death for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed will be carried out. Of course, among the other capital sanctions, Halbrook has a chapter on “sodomite” acts. He begins this chapter:

Before exploring this topic, we must note that Christians must evangelize sodomites. This in no way conflicts with the capital sanction against those convicted of engaging in sodomite acts, a sanction which helps protect potential sodomites from themselves as well as society, as we shall see, from suicide.

Aren’t you warmed by the fact that he wants to “evangelize” and “protect potential sodomites from themselves?” Halbrook’s chapter about gays is filled with quotes from Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika (the book is refuted here). Drawing on Lively’s characterization of National Socialism as a “sodomite movement,” Halbrook justifies his position:

But as we have seen, justifying sodomy on the grounds of it being a private act doesn’t work, because it contributes greatly to a society’s cup of iniquity that can result in God’s destruction of that society. What good is it for a society to promote the freedom for all to participate in the lifestyle of their choice if a society isn’t around to promote it?

The 503 page book is comprehensive in defense of applying Old Testament law to civil life, even including a chapter defending stoning and burning as methods of capital punishment. One endorser of the book is Buddy Hanson. Hanson is the Alabama representative to the Exodus Mandate, a home school support group which calls for all Christians to remove their children from the public school. Hanson wrote in support:

With God’s grace, God Is Just: A Defense Of The Old Testament Civil Laws will be used to bring American Christians to repentance and back to honoring God’s Word through their daily decisions.

Halbrook cites Hanson (as well as R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, etc.) as providing justification for imposing biblical laws on a society. Halbrook writes:

And so Buddy Hanson is correct: “By not ‘imposing’ Christian beliefs on others, we allow them to ‘impose’ their beliefs on us.”455 (This endorses imposing Christian beliefs about biblical law—it does not endorse imposing conversions.) Pluralism is no less impositional than other political system—and actually, it is potentially the most impositional. Being polytheistic and thereby lacking anything beyond the coercion of the state by which to unite others, pluralism naturally tends towards outright totalitarianism, and even imperialism. (pp. 169-170).

Do unto others before they do unto you.

Some readers may believe I am giving too much attention to what appears to be a movement on the fringe of the evangelical community. Clearly, a large portion of evangelicals would be offended by this book and feel out of place in the churches where this teaching is offered. If anything, bringing this to light highlights just how diverse evangelicalism is.

Still, theonomy (the term those in the movement prefer) cannot be ignored. The groups in the theonomy world (American Vision, Exodus Mandate, Vision Forum) have political influence within the Christian Right and seek broader impact. If Halbrook is correct, some theonomists have designs on infiltrating the broader Christian Right to pursue their goals. Mostly, Halbrook criticizes the Christian right for being aligned with political conservatism, writing

The Christian Right—the largest group of politically-active Christians in America—rejects the Bible’s requirement of the state to uphold the O.T. civil laws. Instead, it embraces political conservatism. But conservatism, as pointed out, lacks an unchanging moral anchor (see Appendix D). Thus the Christian Right is handicapped by its marriage with political conservatism.

However, quoting a 1992 book by Matthew Moen, Halbrook holds out hope that perhaps Reconstructionists could save the Christian right:

Other evidence that the secularization of the Christian Right may be limited to that time frame [the Reagan era] is found in the emergence of Christian Reconstructionism. It emphasizes the utility of the first five books of the Old Testament for ordering contemporary American society, a goal that Bruce Barron and Anson Shupe have noted proceeds well beyond the Christian Right in scope yet has certain affinities related to ‘recapturing’ institutions from secular forces. … [T]he penetration of the Christian Right by Reconstructionists may halt, or even reverse, the process of secularization described. (from Moen, 1992, p. 425 in Halbrook).

While such a take over may be no more likely now than in 1992, I am concerned that theonomists and dominionists of several persuasions, notably the New Apostolic Reformation movement, continues to make gains in GOP and evangelical circles.

See also Part 1 and Part 2 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 1 examines the differences between New Apostolic Reformation dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionist variety. Part 2 briefly describes the views of the American Family Association spokesperson on criminalizing homosexual activity.

  • Richard Willmer

    Al Qaeda in (very masculine, of course) drag?! And nothing whatsoever to do with the Gospel.

    The essential error (heresy) of ‘theonomy’ (a.k.a. ‘dominionism’) is to worship the Bible (the O.T. in particular) instead of God. It’s also got a strong whiff of gnosticism (‘only-we-know-the-truth-because-we-are-superior-beings’) about it.

    Mainstream Christians have perhaps been too soft on these people because they say ‘ooh’, ‘aah’, ‘Jesus’ and ‘amen’ at all the right moments. Obviously, we should not seek to do them harm, but it is great that people like Warren are ‘sounding the alarm’ and seeking to discredit their vile heresy.

  • Richard Willmer

    Specifically on the issue of capital punishment: there is little or no evidence that the availability of the death penalty reduces crime. After all, in the USA, where some states execute people and others do not, I’ve never heard it suggested that ‘death penalty states’ have less crime than ‘non-death penalty states’.

    Some of the most civilized nations on earth have not employed the death penalty for decades. If we take the Lord at his word (which strikes me as a rather good idea for Christians!) in John 8 : 7, then noone is actually qualified to administer it. (And isn’t it odd that these heretical lunatics cite ‘the state’ as if the state somehow had nothing to do with people; that puts them in some rather ‘totalitarian’ company, doesn’t it?)

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  • Dave in Boston

    I’m a Jew and I also happen to be gay. My question to Warren and his readers may be self-evident to some, but this honestly confuses me. Sincerely, help me out here.

    Why are Christians looking to the laws given in the Torah (perhaps aside from the Ten Commandments) as a basis for civil law or frankly anything? Are not believing Christians living under grace? Isn’t grace the bedrock and raison d’etre of Christianity? As you can tell I’m not completely ignorant about Christianity, but I’m confused about why the legal part of the OT gets so much attention from some Christian groups.

    And, when it comes to Leviticus, where we all know the principle law against male homosexuality resides (actually some rabbis are now saying that the scripture applies only to male-male intercourse, as opposed to other intimate acts), it’s so easy to make the retort about, say, about eating shellfish or wearing mixed fibers, men shaving their beards, etc..

    Consequently, it seems to me that when some Christians pick and choose which Levitical laws to value and obey, they are simply demonstrating their own personal prejudices – which we all have – and not following “a biblical” life.

  • http://wthrockmorton.com Warren

    Dave in Boston – I don’t have much of an answer except to say you’re question is mine as well.

    I think most evangelicals would be offended by the theonomists and I suspect there are few Christians who are self-consciously theonomist. However, they continue to work toward recognition within conservative circles and have been joined by the New Apostolic Reformation crowd who apparently see the church as taking Israel’s place, which opens up the Old Testament for picking and choosing verses to make relevant to now.

  • Richard Willmer

    Dave in Boston

    IMHO, your points are well-made.

    As you may be aware, the central theme of Saint Matthew’s Gospel account (which was addressed to a Jewish audience) is that Jesus is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets (‘the new Moses’, ‘the new Elijah’, and very much more besides). The Christian theological perspective is (or should be) that, the Law having been fulfilled, we have moved beyond it.

    From a different perspective (applying literary analysis and hermeneutics): the Book of Leviticus is not some kind of legal textbook, but rather represents an attempt on the part of leaders of the Jewish community in exile in Babylon to maintain its cultural identity. The key message of the Book is ‘don’t go native’ / ‘stick to your principles’. Of course, it does not mean we should not change what needs to be changed – and certainly getting homophobia out of the mainstream of western society is a good and necessary achievement of the past 40 or so years. (Of course, there is still much homophobia around, but those who practise it are these days generally considered to be outside the bounds of ‘civilized society’ … I think.)

  • libfreak48

    Interesting how religious fundamentalists, regardless of the particular religion they espouse, always think mass slaughter will drastically improve society.

    And they’re always wrong.

    And, after due course, they get thrown out of power.

  • Don Confalone

    Ok, I read American Vision daily as I was once a reconstuctionist. You are correct in what you say but I have found a huge hole in there armor and am exploited it almost daily. No one there seems willing to admit to wanting their daughters forced to marry their rapist only after said rapist pays the father. You can be sure this is because, all of the sudden, their love of their daughters, or fear of their wives, stops “God’s Law” in it’s tracks. I love these people, I really do, and I hope I can push this point to “save” some. If I don’t get kicked off the site first. It’s the same with LGBTQ “issue”. People change their views mostly from relationships and not debate. Reconstuctions cannot seem to talk about this women issue due to the relationships they have. I hope this will be a starting point to change, before we are all executed by them. Or maybe I’m just naive, but it sure is fun to watch them squirm.

  • Don Confalone

    Richard, I oppose the death penalty, but I’m convinced that it would deter crime if carried out the way reconstructionists want. I have a friend who was a black jack dealer in vegas for many years, now retired. He says you can be sure stealing from casinos was much less rampant back in the day No courts, no appeals, you are taken out back and killed in front on God and everyone.. Stating that the death penality does not deter crime is the wrong way to argue it, in my humble opinion. The death penalty is wrong because it is never 100% the perps fault for commiting the crime in the first place, among other reasons.

  • Bernie

    No, Warren, I don’t think you are spending excessive time on the subject. This is serious business, just look at the C Street family. Their desire to turn the US into a theocracy is real.

  • Joe

    Dave in Boston,

    “Why are Christians looking to the laws given in the Torah (perhaps aside from the Ten Commandments) as a basis for civil law or frankly anything?”

    ‘Pray tell’ where else would we get the basis for civil law?

    The fact, of course, is the very nature of law is to impose the conscience of the community on the individual. The only question is On What Basis, and With What Limits?

    Richard Willmer,

    “The key message of the Book is ‘don’t go native’ / ‘stick to your principles’. Of course, it does not mean we should not change what needs to be changed – ”

    Where do we get these principles, how do we decide what needs to be changed?

    There is no law that is not ultimately founded on a moral judgment and there is no moral judgment that is not ultimately rooted in your view of the human person and his place in the cosmos–which is ultimately a religious question.

    Dave,

    ” it’s so easy to make the retort about, say, about eating shellfish or wearing mixed fibers, men shaving their beards, etc.. ”

    And a trite retort at that…Are these not addressed in the NT, along with say, marriage, adultery, incest, homosexuality, and murder.

    I think it would be helpful to be biblically literate enough to refute the dominionists on more than just feelings alone.

  • Henry

    What if there was evidence that other sanctions worked better than execution? It seems that these ancient edicts are quite incapable of taking up modern technology.

    I am currently taking an applied behaviour paper where our lecturer talked of visiting the Judge Rotenberg centre – where they use a delayed (about 5 mins) electric shock to punish those with severe behaviour disorders. The fear and unknowning of when the shock would be adminstered is a remarkable at extinguishing problem behaviours.

    I would never advocate the wider use of this – but as it proves to be a treatment that aids in the reintegration of high destructive or self-harming people. It makes reconstructionists looks especially brittle, callous and primitive that they would prefer death instead of a good rehabilitation.

  • Patrocles

    Dave in Boston,

    the judaizing of Christianity began with Calvinism. Mostly because the gospel didn’t give sufficient advice for the building of christian states (one of the central themes of Calvinism), so the “O.T.” became more important. Judaizing tendencies were much helped by two later developments: first the impact of jewish studies on Christianity which promoted the idea that Jesus (or even Paul) was a jew by heart; secondly the theological rejection of “supersessionism” (the idea that Christiantity suspends or overcomes Judaism).

    As for the “picking and choosing”, I think that reproach applies much more to mainstream or liberal Churches (in Christianity as well as in Judaism) than to the orthodox.

  • Richard Willmer

    @ Don

    I understand your point (and agree with your closing sentence), but isn’t it also the case that many of the most lawless places in the world today are those where ‘the authorities’ are most ‘trigger-happy’ when it comes to executing people?

    @ Joe

    My point about Leviticus was that its ‘message’ is not “do this, do that, don’t do the other thing, execute those people, and we’ll get a ‘perfected society’ in line with what ‘God wants’.” After all, the whole point of the N.T. (and quite a lot of what the O.T. Prophets taught) is that the ‘do this …’ approach just produces new forms of the old misery – just like any totalitarian system of social control.

    Human history is littered with bloodstained attempts at ‘perfecting society’ – many of these attempts driven by ‘religion’ and/or ‘the church’. What the ‘dominionists’ propose is, in essence, really no different from what nazis, communists, islamists and many others have proposed before them. If such an approach was ever going to work, we would surely by now be living in some kind of ‘heaven-on-earth’. We aren’t.

    As for the N.T.: there is no suggestion therein that people who ‘don’t fit’ the ‘approved patterns’ should be slaughtered (or even throw into prison). Jesus appeared to take a very hard line on remarriage after divorce, calling it adultery … but when he was confronted with someone ‘caught in the very act of adultery’, what did he do? Cast the first stone? Lock her up and throw away the key?

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: it is just so typical of ‘dominionist’-types to lump together consensual same-sex relationships with things like murder (which involves killing people) and adultery (which usually involves deception and betrayal). This is ideologically-driven ‘moral laziness’.

    One last point: the issue of dietary laws is addressed in the N.T.: see Acts 10 : 13. It could also be argued (and is by many, including me) that situations akin to ‘gay marriage’ (to people of the same sex making a commitment to each other because they love each other) are not.

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  • http://mojowire.typepad.com/blog vanmojo

    No! You are not making too much of a “fringe” movement. These people are engaged in a well-organized — and well funded, I might add — war on pluralistic society.

    Arguably, the best look we have had at the man behind the curtain has been the “Wedge Document” introduced at trial in the Dover v. Kitzmiller “Intelligent Design” case.

    The Discovery institute, in very plain language, lays out a strategy for dismantling pluralistic society and replacing it with a theistic monoculture. The problem is that we are focusing on the potential for theocracy.

    These people don’t really want a Taliban-style theocracy. They want a culture where that kind of government would be redundant and unnecessary.

    mojo sends

  • Richard Willmer

    Maybe I should join (though I’m not technically a Catholic)? http://www.cacp.org/home.html

  • http://www.exgaywatch.com Emily K

    Petrocles, if Christianity had truly been “Judaicized” as far as the “Old Testament” is concerned, they would recognize the authority of the Talmud, which has so many rules regarding the death penalty as to render it practically unenforcable.

    Unfortunately, Christians, Calvin included, seem to be completely (willfully or otherwise), ignorant of this.

  • Richard Willmer

    Of course, Emily, most Jews (the vast majority, I suspect) would accept neither the prime facie scope nor the nature (e.g. death by stoning or strangling) of the Talmudic provisions. And as you say, there are so many ‘caveats’ and restrictions that actually executing someone is indeed a near impossibility.

  • Patrocles

    Imho, Warren came to the central point when he cited Halbrook/Hanson’s critique of pluralism, the underlying fear of being overwhelmed by the seculars and the feeling that “we have to impose our values to others because otherwise they impose our values to us”.

    A lot of seculars would underwrite that (only exchanging the ideas

    about who is “we” and who is “them”).

    It’s quite useless to denounce this position which is grounded in experience. We have to admit that people feel threatened by each other and that cultural pluralism doesn’t work as well as we would hope. Pluralism has to be rethought and reformed so that people haven’t to fear each other.

  • Richard Willmer

    You have a point, Patrocles: we are ‘multi-….’, yet we do need some kind of ‘social contract’ (or ‘culture’) that provides a framework that promotes the common good. Many post-industrial societies are in a ‘state of social flux’ at the moment, and this is bound to be unsettling for many. However, history teaches time and again that ‘dominionists’ (or nazis or islamists or similar) do not have ‘the answer’.

  • stephen

    Dave in B,

    I’m surprised no one here seems to have been able to give you the answer. If I don’t misunderstand him, Joe points the way with his questions.

    Though I’m not a Christian I did study the Bible at school and later through my own work had to give a fairly close reading to the gospels. The point is this:

    Jesus gave as the reason for his ministry the need to temper the harshness of the mosaic law with love. His words. With love. Now. Jerusalem and environs lived under an occupying force and couldn’t tolerate dissent. Which to them meant blasphemy. This was the ‘crime’ of which the rabbis of the temple accused him, the crime for which he was condemned to death, and the crime he dodged with brilliance for as long as he could.

    The crux of Matthew comes with the sermon on the mount. Before He begins, Jesus tells his followers to listen well to his words. What he discusses is important, what he ignores isn’t. So we hear a lot about adultery etc: nothing about fags.

    In John, the most novelist of the gospels, this theme is amplified in the story of the woman taken in adultery. The woman runs ahead of a crowd which, according to mosaic law, wants to stone her – the boyfriend is off playing pinball in the local cafe bragging about his conquest. Jesus steps to the front and challenges anyone who is without sin to cast the first stone. The rabbis realize that what he is doing is challenging them to commit the crime of blasphemy and since the only entity who can be without sin is the godhead they are forced to drop their stones and slink away.

    The challenge to the OT’s mosaic law is the central idea of Jesus’ ministry. Unless one understands that, the rest is a miasma of touchy-feely. And of course, in the end, the rabbis of the temple insist that He be put to death for it. As in Vichy France they calculated that one death might spare hundreds.

    To claim an adherence to the Old Testament contradicts Jesus and denies the truth of the Christ. The New Testament was named so to declare a new way of relating mankind to God; more personal, more directly involved.

    The trouble is that most American evangelicals have no idea what it means to be a Christian. They are merely Walmart puritans. Speaking of which, this mosaic law malarkey was tried out in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They tried very hard to make themselves a theocracy. It proved to be impossible. As it will with the dominionists. They are merely the tea baggers of protestantism. The ignorant, the angry, the old. Dragging down the reputation of evangelicalism, a movement of ecstatic connection to a personal Christ, to a drive-in B feature horror-show.

    What American evangelicals should be proud of is that if you count the Mayflower Compact as the first political contract of this new world, as it was, it was instrumental in carrying forward the organization of congregtions from the old world to the new. The congregational contracts are the foundation of our American republic. Protestantism=Democracy.

    As to the dominionists: have they ever walked a street in New York or Los Angeles? Have they ever been out in the real world? Conference rooms in the Grand Rapids Holiday Inn don’t count. It is a fantasy aimed at fund raising. A poor man’s Family. Without the army staging a putsch they are a freak show, the aspect of America I have to spend too much time defending as my own work goes out, convincing the rest of the world we are not all illiterate neandertals (correct spelling). Because I, like many others, go out in the world to demonstrate that the US has not been consumed by the fagbashing homeschoolers of Liberty U.

  • Richard Willmer

    Stephen

    Remind me: what was Dave’s question?

  • StraightGrandmother

    Patrocles,

    “We have to admit that people feel threatened by each other and that cultural pluralism doesn’t work as well as we would hope. Pluralism has to be rethought and reformed so that people haven’t to fear each other.”

    SGM- Well, um, do you have any suggestiones on how to do that?

  • Mary

    Stop being so angry at people who have different opinions.

  • StraightGrandmother

    Mary, I am not angry at people with different opinions. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, religion, personal world views etc. It is not opinions per se that trouble me, it is when people push to enact their opinions on how other people should lead their private life, into civil law. Everyone is entitled to their religion for example, the muslims the buddists the wiccans, everyone has the freedom to choose their religion. I believe in our Liberty Rights guaranteed to each of us in our Constituition, and I am angered when people’s opinions turn into actions, into discriminitory State Constituitional Amendments. This series of Topics had been about Dominionism meaning to Dominate, to force your world view onto citizens who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender. It is really mean and self centered to impose your world views onto others and by force of law, force them to live according to your beliefs. It is not right. As long as citizen is not harming anyone else, each of us has the freedom and Liberty to live according to our own world views. The day I see gays, lesbians, bi-sexual and transgender citizens treated Equally under the law, is the day I will be cool as a cucumber.

  • Kurtis

    Warren, in response to:

    “Some readers may believe I am giving too much attention to what appears to be a movement on the fringe of the evangelical community. Clearly, a large portion of evangelicals would be offended by this book and feel out of place in the churches where this teaching is offered. If anything, bringing this to light highlights just how diverse evangelicalism is.”

    Let me just say that pieces like this are essential to debunking the theonomy mythos. It’s about to be campaign season (some would say it already is.) When I see the 101st facebook posting on “It’s time to get back to the 10 commandments… elect ” I’ll think about this post.

    The core issue is that people believe things (both positive and negative) without actually finding out anything about them.

    I’ve told you the story about taking Humanities 101 as a senior at Rice (because I’d put it off) and all these well-intentioned Christian freshman in my class who argued with the Professor the day we were discussing Exodus (which was assigned) and it was obvious from their statements that not only did they not know what they were talking about, but they HADN’T EVEN READ IT. Not as Christians, and not as students.

    You can imagine how much weight my Professor gave to their arguments. I (a Christian) wanted to hide under my chair.

    It’s like Palin’s statement about her “favorite founding father” being “all of them.” I’m sure there’s a number of them she’d really dislike if she knew much about them, but for her (and many Americans) the “founding fathers” is just a designation attached to an almost deific group, like “the apostles”, “the magnificent seven”, or “the ’92 Cowboys.”

    Man, that was a good year. I miss Troy Aikman.

  • stephen

    Richard, his question was why are evangelical Christians in the US obsessed with the Old Testament. I pointed out that it’s because most of them have never read the New or understood its import.

  • ken

    Kurtis# ~ Sep 4, 2011 at 12:18 am

    “it was obvious from their statements that not only did they not know what they were talking about, but they HADN’T EVEN READ IT. Not as Christians, and not as students.”

    That is common with freshmen. I know as a freshman far to much of my “knowledge” (and I suspect yours) came from movie adaptations rather than original sources. Now freshmen are getting it from youtube/facebook video clips and commentary. the intelligent ones will eventually learn how to judge the validity of their sources (and gravitate to more reliable sources). Sadly, not all of them will do that (as many postings on this blog show).

    “Man, that was a good year. I miss Troy Aikman.”

    ’92 cowboys can’t compare to the 2007 Patriots and their near perfect season. (let the real “Holy Wars” begin :) )

  • Richard Willmer

    Thanks Stephen.

    I found your response interesting and thought-provoking.

  • Mikhael

    If I may offer some insight to Dave’s question. I realize that I am not going to be popular here and I also realize that it is pretty much futile to argue Theonomy here with anyone. So I will try to just stick to Dave’s question. I will say I do count myself a theonomist (not reconstructionist, there is a difference) and I see Legitimate Civil Magistrates as ordained Civil Ministers of God (Romans 13) and must govern according to the precepts that God has laid down for that sphere of authority. Ok, So Dave asked “why are evangelical Christians in the US obsessed with the Old Testament. ” First off, as a Reformed Christian I reject the label evangelical and differ with them on almost all points although you will find evangelicals who are theonomist or even reconstructionist. Now to get to the main point. Reformed Christianity and I might as well say the Historic Protestant position found among the Reformed, Anglican, Zwinglian, and even for the most part Lutheran and even the Historic Baptist such as John Gill and Charles Spurgeon is that Christ did not come to replace, destroy, or even set up a new law. We also do not believe in the artificial division placed in scripture – Old Testament and New Testament which were terms invented in the Second century by Marcion. We do not believe in the dichotomy that modern christians place on law/gospel – that of old testament equals law and new testament equals grace. Protestant Covenant Theology teaches salvation has always been the same since the fall of Adam and that is of Grace. That the law and grace that Paul is teaching about is not the Old Testament way of things versus the New Testament way of things but that all believers are lost and are bound by the Covenant of Works (Do this and Live). You see we believe that God made a Covenant with Adam which is Do this and live but Adam fell and thus spiritual death came unto all of Adam’s posterity. So after the fall God created the Covenant of Grace by the blood of a Redeemer. All of mankind are found within these two Covenants. You are either found in the Covenant of Works (Do all the law and live) which no person can due to total depravity (inability) or they are in the Covenant of Grace and are redeemed by the blood the Redeemer. Now being in the Covenant of Grace does not nullify the requirements of obeying God’s law but it does nullify the curse of the law (Spiritual Death and the Second Death) which is condemnation at judgment and punished in hades. Being found in the Covenant of Grace means we are not saved by doing the law but we do the law out of sanctification, our rule of life. In the Reformed Church there is two other lawful uses of the law and they are they teach us our need for a savior and the suppress evil in the land. Anyway, We do not believe that Christ taught anything different then what was taught on Mount Sinai. Love was taught and commanded even to our neighbors and enemies. Grace was found in salvation in faith by the promises of the future coming redeemer. We believe the prophecies about the commission of the Messiah was that He was to come to magnify the Law and make it honorable as found in Isaiah 42:21 and that He testified that He came neither to destroy nor abrogate the law but to confirm it until heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5) which is language that is metaphorical that means forever since the heavens and earth will be renewed and the law is eternal (Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 11:1; Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 119:159-160). We believe the fundamental differences between those believers found before Christ and those believers found after Christ is that we are no longer bound by the temporary ordinances that was prophetically told to be temporary and come to an end and what the book of hebrews confirm what as ended due not because Christ changed the law but due to the death of Christ. They were the shadows and types, the images of the life, office, and death of Christ. They were said to come to an end when the Messiah would be cut off in Daniel 9:24-27, Zech 6, Psalm 79, Psalm 110 – which is the Temple along with the Temple Rituals, the Sacrifices, and the Temple Cohen Priest which were told to be replaced with the heavenly realities of those things. The Heavenly Temple where Christ who is the High Priest now sits at the right hand of the Father, the physical blood sacrifices are no longer need to show the picture of Christ death which has come to completion and are now spiritual sacrifices of praise, prayer, confession, thanksgiving, etc. These are the same things that the Book of Hebrews testifies to that was super-seceded by heavenly realities. But what was not shadow or type, what was not some picture or image of the work of Christ still stands as tutor to lead us to Christ – the first use, as a rule of life – the second use, and to suppress evil in the land – the third use. I will live you with one more argument to the case in hand. If Christ or His Apostles changed, destroyed, nullified, or added to the laws that He Himself gave on Mount Sinai as the Melakim Yahovah in the burning bush, then Christ broke the Law, Deuteronomy 12:32 – “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”. If Christ broke the law then He could not be the Messiah as that would nullify His claim of keeping the Law perfectly and would have exceeded His commission as stated above in Isaiah and Daniel. The Messiah HAD to keep Torah perfectly to be qualified as the Messiah. To say the Messiah changed Torah would disqualify Him from being the Messiah because He had to keep the above passage perfectly. If He broke that command then He is no Messiah and we must look for another. Neither could His apostles change Torah or it would disqualify them from being spokespersons of God. But even the words of the Messiah confirm this truth. Matthew 5 – “I came not to destroy Torah or the Prophets but to confirm … not one jot or tittle would pass until heaven and earth pass away”, John 5 – “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. … I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” And later in John 5 he tells us – “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” The Messiah did not come to change laws or add new laws but to confirm His Fathers laws and to magnify them and make them honorable, Isaiah 42:21 and make an end of transgression, Isaiah 53:8. So to say that the Messiah changed or altered laws and set up a new system would go against everything that was foretold of Him and everything He did say through His testimonies, which would disqualify Him. This is why Reformed Christians are so much about so-called old testament law. And partly why we believe that civil government should carry out their mandate found in scriptures. We believe that the laws given to national Israel are a model for all nations (Deuteronomy 4) and we believe that fallen men who are God’s ministers in the civil realm (Romans 13) can not know what is just or what is righteous judging apart from God revealing in His goodness and righteousness what is just. The bottom line of Theonomy is this: can fallen sinners invent laws and punishments which are more just, righteous and holy than what God has sovereignly given? And my answer is, No, they can not. God is sovereign over all spheres of creation including civil government. He has not left it up to man to govern themselves and Only God who is perfect, holy and just can determine what is a just punishment and what is right and what is wrong.

  • Jayhuck

    @Mikhail -

    Ok, so now there are 2001 different Christian denominations in the US! :) The number of different beliefs, the different ways people seem to understand history and the sacred texts – the number of different Christian sects with different beliefs just keeps growing

    We believe that the laws given to national Israel are a model for all nations (Deuteronomy 4) and we believe that fallen men who are God’s ministers in the civil realm (Romans 13) can not know what is just or what is righteous judging apart from God revealing in His goodness and righteousness what is just. The bottom line of Theonomy is this: can fallen sinners invent laws and punishments which are more just, righteous and holy than what God has sovereignly given? And my answer is, No, they can not. God is sovereign over all spheres of creation including civil government. He has not left it up to man to govern themselves and Only God who is perfect, holy and just can determine what is a just punishment and what is right and what is wrong.

    Men wrote the Bible Mikhail. Fallen sinners wrote the words that you are so quick to reference. When you talk about laws and punishments that “God has sovereignly given”, what do you mean exactly?

  • Richard Willmer

    I would add to what Jayhuck has said by noting that, in the Gospels, it appears that Jesus modified, developed or even contradicted aspects of what is written in the O.T..

  • StraightGrandmother

    @ Mikhael, what do you have against paragraph breaks? I quit reading after a few lines. Common courtesy to the reader is to write with paragraph breaks.

  • Mikhael

    @Richard, I am glad you used the word “appears”when speaking about the Messiah modifying, or contradicting aspects of what was written. Because that is all it is, a superficial reading of the Messiah’s words and a lack of understanding the Torah and Prophets.

    The Messiah always contradicted the “Traditions of the elders”, the “Doctrines and Commandments of men”- the so-called oral law of moses and everything else not found in the Holy Scriptures. The Messiah also corrected incorrect understandings of the Law. Examples of this would be the Sabbath. It was never against Torah to not to heal on the Sabbath nor was it against Torah to provide for basic nourishment. And in fact mercy and acts of necessity was commanded to be done even on the Sabbath. So even here the Messiah brought back the proper understanding of the Sabbath.

    His entire discourse on the Sermon on the Mount was in fact bringing back the proper understanding of the law that was given on Mount Sinai that was so badly twisted by the sect of Pharisee. Another example of this would be Divorce. In Deuteronomy 24 it was written that man could put away your wives for sexual uncleanness, i.e. Adultery. Then the sect of Pharisee’s came along and declared that it was written that it was commanded to put away your wives and they did so for every conceived reason. Christ taught the correct understanding, that except for sexual uncleanness it was not permitted to divorce your wives and if you do so then you are by the very act making your wife an adulteress when she becomes another man’s wife and through that act you yourself have been made guilty of adultery because you are the one who made your wife go out by giving a false bill of divorcement.

    Christ also taught in the Sermon that the law was not just Physical. That it was also spiritual. To keep your hand from murdering your neighbor was not enough. You can not be angry with a neighbor without a just cause or you are guilty of murder. But the same is true the other away around as well. To deny the physical and deny the spiritual or to deny the spiritual and deny the physical aspects of the law is at the very root Gnosticism. This is the correct understanding of the law of God and it was taught by Christ and it was taught by Christ through Moses. For it was taught that we should love our enemies even in the Torah.

    So Christ Magnified the law and made it honorable and confirmed it just as was prophetically said to happen in Isaiah 42:21.

    I could go step by step with the Sermon on the Mount and the rest of the words of the Messiah but it would make this post too lengthy. Suffice to say that this is very important. The very core here is important. What is at stake is the very veracity of the Messiah. As I stated previous if the Messiah changed, altered, deleted or added to the Law of God then all His claims of being the Messiah are false and must be thrown out of the window. If Christ then gave a new law, or rule of life, He exceeded His commission, and we must call in question His veracity, as well as His Sincerity, in that declaration of His, Matthew 5. 17, 18, 19. likewise as to what he says, John 12:49, 50. I have not Spoken myself, but the Father which sent me He gave me a Commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak- and I know that His commandment is life everlasting. Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me so I speak. See Deuteronomy. 18:18,19.”

  • Mikhael

    @StraightGrandmother, I have nothing against paragraph breaks. I do not comment very often on blogs and it had been awhile since I had and was trying to get use to the system (not all blog comments allow paragraph breaks) while I had a very precious family arrow on my lap and I was tried… ;) I am sorry…

  • Mikhael

    @Jayhuck, You said “Men wrote the Bible Mikhail. Fallen sinners wrote the words that you are so quick to reference. ” Then I fear we have very little in common and most likely not agree on much. We consider this to be one of the most fundamental important doctrines of the church. It is chapter one in our 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith and questions 3 through 6 in the 1648 Westminster Larger Catechism, two of the official documents of the Reformed Church.

    Question 15 of the Children Catechism for kindergarten age and first grade states:

    15. Q. Who wrote the Bible? A. Holy men who wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    And the Westminster Shorter Catechism for school grades 2 through 6 states:

    Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and

    enjoy him? A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures [a] is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. [b]

    [a]. Matt. 19:4-5 with Gen. 2:24; Luke 24:27, 44; I Cor. 2:13; 14:37; II Pet.1:20-21; 3:2, 15-16 [b]. Deut. 4:2; Ps. 19:7-11; Isa. 18:20; John 15:11; 20:30-31; Acts 17:11; II Tim. 3:15-17; I John 1:4

    Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach? A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, [a] and what duty God requires of man [b].

    [a]. Gen. 1:1; John 5:39; 20:31; Rom. 10:17; II Tim. 3:15 [b]. Deut. 10:12-13; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:105; Mic. 6:8; II Tim. 3:16-17

  • Jayhuck

    @Jayhuck, You said “Men wrote the Bible Mikhail. Fallen sinners wrote the words that you are so quick to reference. ” Then I fear we have very little in common and most likely not agree on much. We consider this to be one of the most fundamental important doctrines of the church. It is chapter one in our 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith and questions 3 through 6 in the 1648 Westminster Larger Catechism, two of the official documents of the Reformed Church.

    Ah, so you are definitely a Protestant then? I love these confessions that come hundreds if not a thousand years down the road of Christianity. Mikhail, you are one of thousands of Christian denominations in this country alone. I do not dispute that you have the right to interpret scripture as you and your church see fit, but I hope you will extend that right and privilege to those who disagree with you.

    Question 15 of the Children Catechism for kindergarten age and first grade states:

    15. Q. Who wrote the Bible? A. Holy men who wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

    When you say “Holy men” are you saying that they were without sin? If not, then my previous statement stands that the Bible was written by sinners and fallen men.

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and

    enjoy him? A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures [a] is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him. [b]

    The “Word of God” as you know it today was put together by men in the councils of the 4th century. Since you seem to uphold this work of the councils, I wonder, do you also support the other works of these councils?

  • Mikhael

    @Jayhuck, The thousands of Christian Denominations in this country is because of a clear misunderstanding of the Doctrine of Christian Liberty. Christian Liberty does not mean we have the liberty to do what ever we want. Christian Liberty is that we are free from the bondage of sin, the grip that sin has over those who are not found in the Covenant of Grace – and frees us from that slavery to sin so that we now have the liberty to obey and keep God’s laws.

    There are laws in the scripture that does not attach a temporal punishment to that only God has the right to pronounce sentence on. Such as the First Commandment “Thou shalt not have any other gods before me”. There is no magisterial temporal punishment attached to that God because only God has a right to judge that person on that violation of God’s law. But when a punishment is attached for civil ministers or ecclesiastical ministers those punishments are to be carried out. Another example of this would be the corners of the fields must be left for the poor but there is no civil temporal punishment attached to this violation and is left for God to judge that person whether in this life or in the life to come.

    Regarding the Protestant Reformation. There were two main branches of the Reformation. The Reformed and the Lutheran. The Anglicans were a Reformed Church in every detail but they accept the Lutheran form of church government. The Zwinglians were a Reformed Church but had a novelty for the Lord Supper. The Baptist as well were a Reformed Church that came much later. The main divisions between the Reformed Church and the Lutheran Church were small in number. The first difference was the Lord Supper, whereas the Reformed Church believed we partake of the body and blood of Christ through the conduit of the Holy Spirit in Heaven, the Lutheran Church believed we partake of the body and blood of Christ in/under the bread and wine on Earth. The issue seems small but what it was over was the Body of Christ and whether His human body can be present in multiple locations at one time which would divide His Divine from His humanity. The difference was over the regulative principle of worship. The Reformed believe that we must only worship according to the principles set down in scripture and the Lutherans believed we can worship Him in other ways that are not forbidden. So the Lutherans had Human made Hymns and the Reformed sings solely from the Psalter.. The Lutherans allows human made holy days and the Reformed does not, etc, etc..The stakes here are over the Second Commandment and bringing false worship that He did not command to Him. The third difference was over His Kingdom. The Lutherans held to a Two Kingdom Theology whereas the Reformed held to a single mono kingdom that was divided in three spheres, Family, Church, State.

    These were the only differences between that divided the Reformed from the Lutheran. By that definition the Zwinglians were Reformed as well as the Anglicans. Church government only played a superficial division in the Reformed camp since all of them, Reformed, Zwinglian, Anglican, and even the Lutherans came together for a Protestant Ecumenical Council, the Synod of Dort in 1619. The Doctrines of Grace (What people call Calvinism) was not the issue because all Protestant camps agreed with it as it evidence by the council decrees in the Synod of Dort by all the major players: Reformed, Zwinglian, Anglican, and Lutherans. What made the Reformed Church, Calvinism are the three differences listed above.

    So the reason for all the major divisions today is because of a misunderstanding of Christian Liberty. I might also add that many modern day christians fail is that they do not allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places in Scripture that speak more clearly.

    To your other question. When it says “Holy Men” who were inspired by the Holy Spirit it means they did not sin when the wrote down the inspired words through the Holy Spirit. Holy Men mean Prophets and the Holy Spirit spoke through the Prophets infallibly. That does not mean they did not sin in their lives but when the Holy Spirit spoke to record Scripture they did so without sin and did not add or delete what the Holy Spirit spoke. The very word of Scripture is Christ as the Word was made manifest and tabernacled amongst us. All of Scriptures are the words of Christ.

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail -

    @Jayhuck, The thousands of Christian Denominations in this country is because of a clear misunderstanding of the Doctrine of Christian Liberty.

    That’s funny Mikhail, because the others would say that it was *you* who have a clear misunderstanding of scripture.

    To your other question. When it says “Holy Men” who were inspired by the Holy Spirit it means they did not sin when the wrote down the inspired words through the Holy Spirit. Holy Men mean Prophets and the Holy Spirit spoke through the Prophets infallibly.

    Really? So are you saying that everything in the Bible is absolutely correct? These fallible and fallen men magically got everything correct when writing the Bible?

    I don’t see that you addressed my question regarding the origins of the Bible and the councils of the 4th century.

    I highly recommend you read the following:

    Problems with Biblical Inerrancy

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    The Bible is *literally* full of contradictions and problematic verses. I know we’ve been down this road before on this blog but I won’t mind if we have to go there again.

    The problem here boils down to how you understand the Bible and what it means to you or your church when talking about how the Bible is the “inspired” Word of God. I think some Christians have taken the historical understanding of the Bible being inspired and somehow turned that into an understanding of the Bible being inerrant which is false. If you understand the Bible to be inerrant, without errors, then your faith is just a little research shy of collapsing.

  • Mikhael

    @Jayhuck, Councils are a benefit to the church though not infallible and can err.. For myself I accept the first original seven ecumenical council (The current seventh is not the original seventh, over iconoclasm vs. icondules), the Protestant Ecumenical Council of Dort of 1619, the Westminster Assembly and the Ploughlandhead Declaration of the Covenanted Reformation of 1761.

    There are other councils I would accept betwixt them and other I would not. Regarding councils the Westminster Confession says it best:

    “The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

    “For the better government and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.”

    “All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both”

    Regarding the Word of God.. The Council of Hippo in 393 AD and the Council of Carthage of 397 AD and later confirmed by Ecumenical council only confirmed what was already set and determined to be Scripture from the earliest days of the Apostles. Besides the many list of canons of Scripture before the 4 century which confirms the same listing of the above three councils but also manuscript copies also confirm the same listing. I have in my collection Aramaic Manuscripts that date back to the 100s and they have the same exact so-called New Testament books that we have today. I know of Aramaic Manuscripts that date back to the early 70s AD that I all the current books except Revelation.

    Yes everything in the Bible is absolutely 100% correct (In their original language). There are no contradictions except what appears to be a contradiction due to either man not interpreting the Scripture with Scripture and coming up with something different, the translation into another language which has created some contradictions, or manuscript variations and the wrong manuscript is chosen.

    I study manuscripts and I have gone through many of the apparent so-called contradictions only find out that either the language was biasely translated wrong into English or the wrong manuscript was chosen when other manuscripts have small variations that agree with the whole of Scriptures (again, Scripture must interpret Scripture).

    You do not believe that inerrant is a historical doctrine? If that be the case how does the Westminster Confession of Faith of 1646 state the following:

    “The Scriptures, being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as in all controversies of religion the Church is finally to appeal unto them.”

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    “The Supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.”

    You realize there was no Scripture, at least in the sense I believe you to be talking about it, the first 3 centuries of the Church, right? There was the Church.

    Regarding the Word of God.. The Council of Hippo in 393 AD and the Council of Carthage of 397 AD and later confirmed by Ecumenical council only confirmed what was already set and determined to be Scripture from the earliest days of the Apostles. Besides the many list of canons of Scripture before the 4 century which confirms the same listing of the above three councils but also manuscript copies also confirm the same listing. I have in my collection Aramaic Manuscripts that date back to the 100s and they have the same exact so-called New Testament books that we have today. I know of Aramaic Manuscripts that date back to the early 70s AD that I all the current books except Revelation.

    Not entirely accurate. It was through the Church and the Councils that was determined which books would and which ones would not be used in the Bible as you know it today. There were many books in many of the Churches that did not make the cannon.

    It sounds like you desire to pick and choose what you like and what you do not like from the councils – even the first seven. If the councils could err than it is logical the Bible could have been made in error, since it was only through the councils that you have the Bible you use today.

    Yes everything in the Bible is absolutely 100% correct (In their original language). There are no contradictions except what appears to be a contradiction due to either man not interpreting the Scripture with Scripture and coming up with something different, the translation into another language which has created some contradictions, or manuscript variations and the wrong manuscript is chosen.

    I study manuscripts and I have gone through many of the apparent so-called contradictions only find out that either the language was biasely translated wrong into English or the wrong manuscript was chosen when other manuscripts have small variations that agree with the whole of Scriptures (again, Scripture must interpret Scripture).

    You need to further your research then because even Biblical scholars acknowledge contradictions in the texts. We have no original Bible books to study from either, only copies of them. I suggest you read that article to which I posted a link above about Biblical errors.

    I have found through my studies that there are in fact errors in Scripture, and that the so-called inerrancy of the Bible is a misuse of the term by people of faith who have to profoundly believe the Bible is inerrant or else their faith would topple.

  • Richard Willmer

    I think you are looking at the Bible in completely the worng way, Mikhael.

    It’s not a kind of scientific/historical ‘text book’, rather a collection of writings showing a journey. The O.T. is about how the First ‘People of God’ groped their way towards an understanding of God. But Christians believe that Christ is the ultimate revelation of God. That said, no person’s understanding of God is complete (or else God would not be God).

    What I am about to write is in no way intended to show disrespect to Islam or Muslims – merely it is designed to make a very important theological point.

    Islam holds that the Prophet (the person) is the Messenger, and the Quran (the book) is the Message; the Christian understanding in effect is the opposite: the messenger is the (collection of) book(s) – the Bible – and the Message is Christ. One could say that what you are doing is (theologically-speaking) ‘islamifying’ Christianity. OK – so become a Muslim if you want … but please don’t tell us that an apple is an orange!

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    Do you believe the world was created in just 7 days? Besides inerrant, do you also assume the Bible is to be taken literally?

  • Richard Willmer

    Hello Jayhuck

    Here’s a nice little idea for you: notice how, in the Creation story in Gen.1, God does TWO things on the ‘day six’. Some scholars believe that the original manuscript had God doing one thing on ‘day six’ and one on ‘day seven’, but that the manuscript was altered to ‘justify’ the keeping of the Sabbath (‘God did it, and so should we!’). (Now, of course, a day of rest per week is a jolly good idea – for individuals and for society … but we should not pretend that the person who wrote what is there was ‘God’s personal secretary’ that day! This is a facile notion.)

    The whole story is, you, I and many other Christians believe, an allegory – a very good, rich and useful one in its way, but an allegory nontheless.

  • Richard Willmer

    *nonetheless*

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    Regarding the Word of God.. The Council of Hippo in 393 AD and the Council of Carthage of 397 AD and later confirmed by Ecumenical council only confirmed what was already set and determined to be Scripture from the earliest days of the Apostles.

    For anyone who would like a bit more in-depth understanding of how the Biblical Cannon, especially the NT, was developed and don’t want to accept Mikhail’s assertion that a couple councils just stated what was already accepted from “earliest days of the Apostles”, I encourage you to read this article. The process by which the NT cannon was created took decades and a great deal of debate. It was by no means a simple process and the different churches of time were not all using the same books.

    Development of the New Testament Cannon

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    I have in my collection Aramaic Manuscripts that date back to the 100s and they have the same exact so-called New Testament books that we have today.

    Who is “we”? And what exactly are these manuscripts? “Not every branch of the Christian church agrees on which writings should be regarded as “canonical” and which are “apocryphal” – Wikipedia

    And what about non-canonical Epistles?

    “There are also non-canonical epistles (or “letters”) between individuals or to Christians in general. Some of them were regarded very highly by the early church:

    Epistle of Barnabas

    Epistles of Clement

    Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul

    Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

    Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallians

    Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

    Epistle to Diognetus

    Epistle to the Laodiceans (an epistle in the name of Paul)

    Epistle to Seneca the Younger (an epistle in the name of Paul)

    Third Epistle to the Corinthians – accepted in the past by some in the Armenian Orthodox church.”

  • Jayhuck

    Mikhail,

    This could go on forever, but another problem with reading the Bible as a history book is the “massacre of the innocents” by King Herod:

    Another prophecy related to the birth of Jesus is the claim that the Messiah would be born at a time when King Herod was killing children. Only the gospel of Matthew (2:16-18) makes this claim, quoting a prophecy of Jeremiah (31:15) which states that “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” There are two problems with this alleged messianic prophecy: it is not a prophecy about children being killed and it is quite doubtful that there ever was such a slaughter of innocents by Herod. “Rachel weeping for her children” refers to the mother of Joseph and Benjamin (and wife of Jacob) weeping about her children taken captive to Egypt. In context, the verse is about the Babylonian captivity, which its author witnessed. Subsequent verses speak of the children being returned, and thus it refers to captivity rather than murder. The slaughter by Herod is also in doubt because the writer of Matthew is the only person who has noted such an event. Flavius Josephus, who carefully chronicled Herod’s abuses, makes no mention of it.

    There is no evidence for this massacre. “The massacre is not mentioned in Luke’s gospel or by any contemporaneous historians, or later Roman Jewish historian, Josephus. Some historians take the silence of Josephus as evidence that the massacre did not take place.”

  • Richard Willmer

    Jayhuck

    I believe that there was also considerable discussion as to whether there should be an O.T. at all in the Bible. (I think my parish priest puts it very well when he describes the O.T. as chronicling the ‘groping towards an understanding of God’ by the Jewish people … which is perhaps why the Book of Leviticus, while compiled relatively recently [c.550 BC], finds its place early on in the Canon: it reflects a relatively primitive, even tribal, concept of God, designed to discipline and encourage a ‘tribe’ in exile and threatened with losing its identity.)

    We all must keep ‘groping towards …’ (sorry about that!), of course: none of us has all the answers.

  • Pingback: Box Turtle Bulletin » Dominionism Is Not A Myth, Continued

  • Yanos

    You people are stupid and your Blaspheming yourselfs for it is stated that God gave every man woman and child “free will” and that Everyone has the “Right” to choose there path be it serving God or what ever we choose. At no point does it say to force the believe in God onto anyone. God says Choose not submit. What you are wanting too do will start a War unlike anything seen since the Crusades with Millions dead by the time you people see that your wrong.

  • Yanos

    And my comment was directed at the Dominionist

  • Mikhael

    Yanos, You have so many logical fallacies in your premise. Red Herring: Sub- Appeal to Emotion, Argumentum ad Metum, and Poisoning the Well Fallacy. Not including a Ad hominem and a False Premise.

    But lets take the numbers for a moment. The best estimate for the deaths of all 8 crusades is about 1 Million. The Thirty Years’ War: 6 Million, The French Wars of Religion: 4 Million. For a Estimate 11 Million Deaths

    Now let us look at the Estimated death toll for non-religious secular atheistic wars. Mongols Wars: 60 Million, Napoleonic Wars: 6.5 Million, Russian Civil War: 9 Million, WW1: 35 Million, WW2: 70 Million, Stalin’s regime post ww2: 20 Million, China from 1945 to 1975: 40 Million, Korean War: 3.5 Million, Vietnam War: 6 Million. For a Estimate of a staggering 250 Million Deaths.

    These are estimates for wars and does not include civil sanctioned deaths such as abortion.

    So the secularist atheist wars have done far more death globally throughout history then religious wars have done.. But we have been brainwashed to think that religious wars have done far more destruction and death throughout the history of the world.

  • Richard Willmer

    Most wars, whether apparently to do with religion or otherwise, are about fights over resources or about struggles for some kind of political supremacy.

    When one looks at the core teachings of Christ, who wept over Jerusalem because of its failure to understand ‘the message of peace’ (Luke 19 ; 41 – 44), any death due to a so-called ‘christian’ war is a travesty and an emblem of evil.

  • Mikhael

    Richard, I disagree because Christ teaching is NOT limited to His Earthly Ministry. All of the Scripture is ABOUT HIM and Christ was Present throughout the Old Testament. So anything Christ said must be taken in the context of the whole of scripture. The passage you gave is Christ teaching How peace was to come to Jerusalem through Obedience to God and His laws and they failed and they did not accept the Messiah so War will come to them , verse 43 “Because days shall come upon thee, and thine enemies shall cast around thee a rampart, and compass thee round, and press thee on every side”. Rooted in the Sixth Commandment “Thou shalt not Murder” is also the doctrine of Self-Defense. The use of force in preservation of life is a biblical doctrine (Exo. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Esth. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp. John 15:13–14). God gave the sword to moral civil magistrates to punish evil doers (Romans 13) and to protect the nation from foreign invaders. War is not always Evil otherwise the scriptures would not speak about Christ coming back with ten thousand of His angels to war with those who fight against Him. The reason Christ did not pick up the sword 2000 years ago was not because He was against it but because It was not His office yet given by the Father. Christ was to have two comings with two different functions and office. The First Coming was the office of Messiah ben Yoseph (Messiah son of Joseph) who was to come to be the suffering servant to save His people just like Joseph did. He did not pick up the sword because He had to fulfill all righteousness and become the suffering servant on the cross. He was not yet enthroned as King until the day of Ascension and is Now sitting at the right hand of the Father and ruling the universe. The Second Coming is to be the office of Messiah ben David (Messiah son of David) when He shall return as the Conquering King. After the Final Day will began the Days of the King with Peace as Christ being the Son of Solomon.

  • Richard Willmer

    … anything Christ said must be taken in the context of the whole of scripture.

    So says Mikhael.

    But Mikhael has got it completely the wrong way round: anything that scripture says should be seen in the context of Christ. Why? Because Christ himself is the Word of God.

    Mikhael is making the classic error of the ‘biblical’ fundamentalist: he is (his interpretation of) setting scripture (written by human beings) above the One who is the Human Face of God. This, for the orthodox Christian, is both heresy and idolatry.

  • Richard Willmer

    Apologies – my penultimate sentence above should have read as follows:-

    Mikhael is making the classic error of the ‘biblical’ fundamentalist: he is setting (his interpretation of) scripture (written by human beings) above the One who is the Human Face of God.

  • Richard Willmer

    I also believe that Mikhael has completely the wrong idea of what constitutes Christ’s ‘Kingship’. But maybe he and I can discuss that another time. For now, we should perhaps reflect on how Christ will finally conquer evil: I have no doubt that his methods will not involve violence of any kind. Christ will be true to his own nature, which is identical to that of the Godhead, and which was fully revealed on the first Good Friday.

  • Mikhael

    Richard, because Christ confirmed otherwise.. The words of the Messiah confirm what I have already stated.. Matthew 5 – “I came not to destroy Torah or the Prophets but to confirm … not one jot or tittle would pass until heaven and earth pass away”, John 5 – “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. … I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” And later in John 5 he tells us – “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”

    Wow, Christ said that He and Moses spoke the same thing and If you don’t believe Moses you won’t believe me…

    Likewise as to what he says, John 12:49, 50. I have not Spoken myself, but the Father which sent me He gave me a Commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak- and I know that His commandment is life everlasting. Whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me so I speak. See Deuteronomy. 18:18,19.”

    Richard to say otherwise is Blasphemy and Heresy… These are the very words of the Messiah Himself. He also spoke on Mount Sinai and gave ALL the law to Moses.. So those parts are not be be discarded either.. They are the very words of the Messiah.

    But I am done with this discussion… We are not going to convince each other… So I pray that the Lord will open your eyes….

  • Richard Willmer

    Well now, the central theme of Saint Matthew’s Gospel is that Christ is the fulfilment of the Law and the Prophets. There is plenty in the NT that suggests that, the Law having been thus fulfilled, we should not be slaves to its ‘letter’.

    Of course, I don’t take a ‘literalist’ view of the OT, so don’t believe that Moses was given ‘ALL the law’ in one go, as it were. Literary and contextual analysis suggests that what we have in the way of ‘law’ in the first five books of the Bible was compiled over an extended period – up to as late as the mid-six century BC perhaps.

    We Christians believe that the ultimate revelation of God is in Christ Crucified; you seem more interested in words on pages. But I respect your freedom to put your views (which I regard as heretical, of course), as long as you do not harm others in the process.

    Do you wear polycotton shirts, by the way?

  • Richard Willmer

    I’ll be completely honest with you, Mikhael: I think that the picture of God your ilk paints is one that makes God out to be parochial and partial, vicious and vindictive.

    If I, for a moment, believed that God was anything akin to what to you seem to say he is, I would instantly become an atheist … I hope! Why? Because, despite all their faults and failings, human beings are infinitely to be preferred to a ‘god’ like that. I hope also that I would peacefully do all I possibly could to oppose and discredit what I would then consider to be the monstrous evil of ‘religion’.

    However, I see God differently …

    (P.S. Why didn’t Jesus stone or strangle his disciples when they plucked corn on the Sabbath? And how about the woman caught ‘in the very act of adultery’? And any news on the polycotton shirts?)

  • Mikhael

    Richard, Actually the Aramaic/Greek word Matthew 5 is not in modern english “Fulfill” but “Confirmed”. Christ Confirmed the Torah and Prophets and not will not pass until heaven and earth passes away…

    Secondly, with regards to polycotton shirts.. I sense a trying to trap me trap with this question.. And it does not work because I do not wear clothing with mixture of fabrics in them. Why?

    Keil & Delitzsch Commentary written in 1866 states it’s the best, “The words, ‘Ye shall keep My statues,” open the second series of commandments, which make it a duty on the part of the people of God to keep the physical and moral order of the world sacred. This series begins in v. 19 with the commandment not to mix the things which are separated in the creation of God. “Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with two kinds of seed, or put on a garment of mixed stuff.” … In Deut. 22:9-11, instead of the field, the vineyard is mentioned, as that which they were not to sow with things of two kinds, i.e., so that a mixed produce should arise; and the threat is added, “that thy fulness (full fruit), the seed, and the produce of the vineyard (i.e., the corn and wine grown upon the vineyard) may not become holy” … By these laws the observance of the natural order and separation of things is made a duty binding upon the Israelites, the people of Yahovah, as a divine ordinance founded in creation itself (Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25). All the symbolical, mystical, and utilitarian reasons that have been supposed to lie at the foundation of these commands, are foreign to the spirit of the law.”

    And before you ask, Yes I obey Shabbats (Sabbaths), Moedims (Feast Days), Tzniut (Modesty), Tzitzit (Tassels to remind us of Gods laws), Mezuzot (Laws on Door Post), Tallit (Headcoverings), Niddah (Women Issues), Yichud (Prohibition to be privately with other gender other then family), Nissuin (Marriage), Kashrut (Kosher), etc, etc, etc.

    The only laws I do not keep are those that can not be kept and was said to be temporary in the OT and would be superseceded with heavenly realities. What are those. The Temple which is superseceded with the Heavenly Temple, the Cohen (Aaronic Priesthood) which is superseceded with the Cohen of Christ as the High Priest by the order of Melchizedek, The Temple Rituals which can not be performed without the Temple and now is superseceded with our spiritual services and the physical sacrifices which is superseceded by Christ once and for all sacrifice. Those laws were said to be temporary and was needed only for the time to teach Christ and his sacrifice and His office and would be superseceded by the true realities that they represented.

  • Mikhael

    Richard, God is God and we have NO RIGHT to question Him.. As Paul so stated in Romans 9 “Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? ”

    We are His creation and we have no right to question HOW He does things. For man to be repulsed by anything Yahovah commands or permits is an expression of humanism. Worse, anytime we conclude our morality is superior to that of Yahovah’s, it is ultimately an attempt to usurp Yahovah’s divinity. In Job 40:8, Yahovah asked Job a question, “Wilt thou disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?” We may not always understand Yahovah’s actions or commands, but this does not give us the right to shun or ignore His instructions.

    So I would hope that you would reconsider being an atheist…

  • Mikhael

    P.S. Why didn’t Jesus stone or strangle his disciples when they plucked corn on the Sabbath?

    because It was not unlawful to pluck or eat on the Sabbath. In fact acts of Mercy and Necessity were required by the Law… And it is quite Necessary to Eat even on the Sabbath… Christ did not break the law, He broke the Pharisee’s Added guard laws.

    And how about the woman caught ‘in the very act of adultery’?

    You will not find that passage included in the scriptures before the 3rd century neither in the Greek Manuscripts nor the Aramaic Manuscripts. It was added centuries later when Anti Torah Law movement was in full force in the Western and Eastern Churches. But even if you don’t want to accept that answer how about the fact that the women was CAUGHT in adultery.. Where was the man? Where were the witnesses? For the law to be carried out both the man and the women were to be brought before a civil court and they must have been witnessed by 2 or 3 witnesses to condemn them to death.. The problem here is that the Pharisee’s were trying to entrap Christ with a known harlot women but Christ knew the what the Pharisee’s were up to and the fact was simple the law could not be carried out without the man and the witnesses.

  • Richard Willmer

    I see where you’re coming from, Mikhael.

    Nice to see that you do apply some kind of hermeneutics … but only when it suits you to do so, of course!

    Again, your essential thesis is that the Torah comes first (that is your ‘god’, in other words), and anything (anyone) that doesn’t fit with that must be dismissed (punished/killed).

    Well, we’ll see who is right one day, won’t we? I’m happy to take the ‘risk’ of radically more ‘liberal’ approach …

  • Mikhael

    Torah is God’s Law, Torah is Christ Law. It was Christ who gave Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai as the Melakim Yahovah in the burning bush.. Torah is the very words of Christ. I see no difference between Christ and the words of Christ. All of the Scripture is the Word, and Christ is the Word and the Word is Christ. Torah is the Rauch – the breath and wind of Christ and was given by the Ruach Ha-Elohim (what you call the Holy Spirit) – the third person of the trinity.

    As for my hermeneutics – they are as follows..

    Christological -– Scripture must be interpreted in the light of the Messiah and cannot be interpreted in a way that does destruction to the claims of the Messiah. e.g. introduction that the Messiah changed or add laws which would nullify His claim of Messiahship.

    Christo-centric Principle – All of the Scripture is about Christ. The mind of deity is eternally centered in Christ. All angelic thought and ministry are centered in Christ. All Satanic hatred and subtlety are centered at Christ. All human hopes are, and human occupations should be, centered in Christ. The whole material universe in creation is centered in Christ. The entire written word is centered in Christ.

    Literal -– All scripture is to be taken in a literal interpretation unless otherwise indicated by scripture itself. e.g. “That Dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan.”

    Covenantally -– All scripture is to be taken as a organic whole and no scripture is to be interpreted apart from the rest of scripture.

    Contextually -– Scripture is without error. Any apparent inconsistencies needed to be understood by careful examination of a given text in the context of other texts.

    Inerrancy – Since God is the author of Scriptures it contains no error, no self-contradiction, nothing contrary to scientific or historical truth. Minor contradictions are caused by copiest error or translational error.

    Systematic – the Bible should be taken as a completed whole and endeavored to exhibit its total teaching in an orderly, systematic form.

    Redemptive-Historical -In the historical content there is a Redemptive pattern that is for our instruction and example. e.g. Israel’s salvation from Eygpt (sin) is our example of our salvation from sin. Israel in the Wilderness is our example of our time in the wilderness and our time of sanctification.

    Original Intent -– All scripture must be taken in the Original intent of its writing.

    Narrative Theology -– God teaches us through the Narratives of Scripture.

    Logical Deduction – the logical deduction of a halakah from a Scriptural text or from another law.

  • Richard Willmer

    I see you think you’ve ‘got it all sorted’! Bully for you! :-)

    The Bible ‘contains … nothing contrary to scientific or historical truth‘. Really? Have any evidence for that? (I would say that you miss the point about the nature of ‘truth’, and the true meaning and purpose of those mythical accounts in the early part of the Bible.)

    Just do us a favour and make sure you don’t try to ‘sort out’ everybody else according to your own particular viewpoint (though I would defend your right to hold and express, in ways that do not harm others, your own views). Such an approach never works in the real world; in fact, such attempts always ‘end in tears’, precisely because noone has a monopoly on the truth, and anyone who thinks they have usually ends up causing havoc.

    (I doubt that Egypt would be too pleased about being labelled ‘sin’, by the way. Sounds rather racist to me!)

  • Richard Willmer

    Mikhael

    As a matter of interest, what is your religion?

    I would guess that, from what you have said, it is neither Judaism nor Christianity nor, of course, Islam. I would strongly doubt that you are a Jehovah’s Witness, given JWs’ inclination towards neutrality in war, and even pacifism (something which I respect about them, the profound theological differences I have with them notwithstanding).

    Are you one of these ‘dominionists’? Or do you respect the right of others to hold to different beliefs within a society in which there is genuine freedom of conscience?

    I’m truly interested to know. I’ve really not come across anyone who expresses quite the same set of religious dogmas as I’ve read here this afternoon.

  • Richard Willmer

    I should just explain that the phrase ‘bully for you‘ is a piece of English idiom meaning something along the lines of ‘aren’t you the lucky one?’ It is a little satirical, even sarcastic, but then you know what we English can be like … sorry!

  • Mikhael

    Richard, sorry I was away at my exercise class. To answer your question I am a Reformed Christian who also holds to what would be called Messianic Judaism belief. With regards to the Messianic Judaism belief – those would be Moedims (Feast Days), Tzitzit (Tassels to remind us of Gods laws), Mezuzot (Laws on Door Post), Niddah (Women Issues), Nissuin (Marriage), Kashrut (Kosher), Mikveh’s (Various Baptisms), Shatnaz (Mixture of Fabrics, seeds, and animals). With everything else I have said comes from Reformed Christian doctrines. Personally I believe that those of my Messianic Judaic beliefs are a outgrowth of my Reformed doctrines and the most consistent. Everything I have said apart from the list of the Messianic Judaic beliefs above can be found in the Reformed Confession (Westminister Confession of faith of 1647 along with the rest of the Westminster Standards).

    I am not a dominionist because I do not believe in a Post Millennial Reign of Christ and thus a dominionist would be a forceful bringing in the Post Millennial Reign. They see it as ushering in the Kingdom as the Earth gets better and better until Christ returns.. Many of my friends are Post millennial and dominionist and I personal know Mr. Halbrook who is listed in the article and I highly respect him.

    I am what you would call a Theonomist.. A Theonomist is not one trying to usher the return of Christ but simple believe that God ordained the Civil Government and it’s sphere of authority and that Civil government must govern according to the Civil Law given by God for all Civil Magistrates. A Dominionist IS a Theonomist but not all Theonomist are Dominionist. I happen to believe that things will get worse and worse until the return of Christ but that does not mean that we do not teach on the role and job of civil government.

    Theonomy is found and taught firmly in the Reformed Westminster Standards of 1647s and is one of three marks that define the Reformed Church and what Separated them from the Lutherans during the Reformation. The other two marks would be worship practice (Regulative Principle for the Reformed vs. Normative Principle for Lutheran) and Lord Supper issues (Christ is present in the supper in Heaven for the Reformed vs. Christ is present locally corporally in the supper for the Lutheran).

    Theonomy and Dominionism is MOSTLY found within the Reformed Camp but you will find them in almost all the different denominations in America – Baptist, Evangelical, non-denominational, Methodist, even Charismatic. I have even seen Catholics who hold to one or the other.. I am not sure I have seen a Lutheran but I am sure they exist..

    Theonomy was firmly held and practiced by the Reformed Puritans of New England and the Scottish Reformed Covenanter of Scotland. I happen to be a member of a Reformed Covenanter Church.

    I might also add that the Westminster Standards that teach Theonomy was signed by the British Parliament in 1647 and was the Doctrine that England held to until the Restoration of the Monarchy..

  • Richard Willmer

    Thank you, Mikhael. I’m ‘in the picture’ now.

    (Yes, there was that ‘political experiment’ in Britain in the middle of the 17th century, wasn’t there?)

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