Biblical Theocracy

James Jordan says:

The gospel is the announcement that Jesus is now king of the entire world, and that all nations are to be discipled. Israel was the model discipled nation, and now all nations are to be discipled. Israel’s history relates typologically to all the world now, as we are put into the olive tree. Everything God told Israel, including the Law, is typologically normative for all the world, for all nations. I call this “Biblical theocracy.”

The gospel is not theology or ideas. It is not experiences. It it not even the church considered merely as some kind of annabaptist worshiping community in the midst of a world that will never be changed. The gospel is a new creation, a new world. It is Christendom. It is theocracy. This is not “theonomy” as Bahnsen defined it, but it is close enough that it looks like it to many people. And the practical implications of Biblical Theocracy are often quit similar to “theonomy” as regards the discipleship of nations, because typological application is still application. And just as the early church directly challenged Caesar’s purported lordship, there is a need today for the prophetic people of God to directly challenge modern ideas of law and democracy and insist on the crown rights of King Jesus.

Against Evangelical Hipsters

In the Summer 2009 issue of The City there is a superb piece of writing that diagnoses a creature that I come across quite a bit online and sometimes in the flesh up in D.C. – the evangelical hipster.  John Mark Reynolds wrote the piece, where he diagnoses the persona of these individuals:

Secularists should stop worrying about a theocracy: Anderson finds young Evangelicals to be like young Mark Studdock in the C.S. Lewis novel That Hideous Strength—more spaniel than pit bull in their desire to charm rather than snub those that despise them. In fact, Anderson’s article essentially accuses young Evangelicals of being just like the characters Mark and Jane Studdock. Like Mark, young Evangelicals desire admission to the “inner ring” of the culture more than any other temptation. Like Jane, they are lightly educated, but take their thoughts very seriously. Unlike Mark and Jane, young American Evangelicals are given Blue Like Jazz rather than Taliesin through Logres.

Although I have often seen this, I’ve never quite put my finger on it like Mr. Reynolds does. The admission to the inner ring of the culture is THE temptation for me and many folks who have moved beyond Left Behind and Christian bookstores and think they have it all together. To me, the solution is to take a stand and appear to be a (gasp) fundamentalist on some issues. I realized some years ago that one thing which makes men like Tolkien great is that he had beliefs and he stood for them. We can easily quibble with his obscurantist stands on motor cars, roads and airplanes, but he had reasons for believing and he believed! He was not a perpetually vacillating ninny who never arrived at a position and did not stand up for the Creeds and culture which gave him birth.

I see the solution to this drift in the hermeneutic approach of James Jordan and Peter Leithart, the post-Reconstructionist conversation, the Creeds and Liturgy of the Anglican Church, and a saturation of Bible study. But many who see through Christian “positive hits” radio and local church anti-intellectualism yo-yo to the far opposite side, embracing Obama, horrible sexual ethics, a flawed Bible and no church authority. Reynolds continues:

Evangelical youth are being corrupted and Evangelical scholars and leaders are at least partly to blame. Why? The church and the Evangelical academy have, by and large and for various reasons, rejected Christendom and left Evangelical youth to create their own inadequate pseudo-culture on the fly.

Amen to this! We’ve had para-church pablum and bad doctrine on parade for 50-100 years now. The Reformed and Lutherans have held there own in terms of intellectualism, but most of the rest of the church is out to sea and doesn’t know how to think critically. Reynolds describes those who get tired of this shallowness only to embrace leftist shallowness of a different kind. Any jibe at Bush gets a laugh. Limbaugh is a buffoon. Republicans are idiots. I concur with most of this thought, but from an even way further right position, not a liberal, ill-thought out hatred of culture and mores. Still, Reynolds words strike home with me.

The attack on patriotism is a part of this assault on Christendom. “Christendom” in the mythology of the academy is about power and politics. Patriotism is a simple trick to get the rubes to turn over power to politicians. Evidently the solution to this problem is to either to abandon politics altogether or to “speak prophetically to power,” though generally only to Republican power. Of course, Christian intellectualists ignore the ties of prophets like Nathan or Isaiah to the royal house of David since this would spoil their pristine idea of the non-partisan Biblical prophet.

And Reynolds says patriotism can equate to the holy grail concept that I have espoused: community.

Of course, disdain for patriotism contradicts another value of intellectualists: the love of authentic community. Isn’t “a strong love for your folks” just another way of describing patriotism? The solution in many Christian colleges has been to allow everyone in the world to love and take pride in their people group except for Americans.

Another searing critique applies to those who utilize Orthodox and Catholic critiques of Protestants, but only as a tactical way of blasting their own communities, not at the cost of believing all that claptrap about sex taught by Rome or the East:

The group Anderson describes are more horrified by the strong, traditional Protestants than by Catholic or Orthodox beliefs, but this is no real sign of an ecumenical spirit. Too often the Evangelical young adult merely uses Catholic and Orthodox thinkers to tear down those parts of Evangelicalism they do not like while ignoring those parts that that challenge their assumptions. They are cafeteria ecumenicists. Roman Catholic teaching on birth control and sexuality are not quoted or applauded, though nothing is a greater challenge to the norms of Evangelical sub-culture. Evangelical intellectualists tend to ignore those writings by John Paul the Great or the brilliant Benedict XVI that attack post-modern or pop culture views of sexuality or scholarship. John Paul certainly spoke truth to power and helped liberate millions from murderous tyranny, but the tyranny was a leftist one and Evangelical parents admired him, so he is not the kind of Catholic they admire.

The whole article should really be read and digested. I see too much of this love of approval in myself and I am determined to root it out.

Hans Kung downgrades the Bible

I am sort of reading Hans Kung’s book Does God Exist? When it comes to theologizing Kung parrots the tired liberal line that peaked in the 60‘s. I am reading it because he does a good job of outlining various philosophical high points in recent history that I am too ignorant of.
Kung seems given to the notion, at least at the time of the writing of this book, of an advancing secularism. He mentions the “modern process of secularization and emancipation…” This ‘modern process’ strikes me as a widely-held fallacy of modernist Westerners writing in the post-war period and seems to still hold sway in the minds of the plebs in America. Quite to the contrary, much of the world is becoming more religious all the time.
Kung embraces evolution and sees that doing so necessitates abandoning the Biblical account of Creation and the Fall. He writes:
With regard to the origin and evolution of the world and man, has not science established the very opposite of such a perfect original state of the world and man: that there is no place in the scientific understanding of the world for a story of paradise and of the sin of a single human couple, if this is understood as a historical account and not a statement of principles?
Kung of course embraces higher criticism. In discussing Blaise Pascal he wishes that higher criticism had been embraced earlier:
A precondition, of course, for a different approach would have been a new critical understanding of the Bible in the light of the discoveries in astronomy and physics and increasingly in biology and medicine.
This doubt in the Bible is of course nothing new. It is everywhere present in modern thinking and has infected every corner of the Church. People want to be taken seriously by the world and the Academy and so they abandon the embarrassing notion of Creation in the Bible, never mind that Jesus himself said “the Scripture cannot be broken” which is about as high a view of Scripture as you’re going to find and it comes from a pretty reliable source! Contrast Kung’s surrender of the text to scientism with James Jordan’s thought in his Through New Eyes:
Moses, educated in all the learning of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22) – which was thoroughly “evolutionary” in its commitment to a “scale-of-being” philosophy – was doubtless as surprised at Genesis 1 as any modern philosopher would be. No impersonal forces here! No gradual shades of “being” from animals to man with all sorts of things (satyrs, sphinxes, etc.) in between. No huge cycles of time. Just a series of immediate personal acts, in a brief span of time, initiating linear time. This was not what Moses had been taught by his Egyptian tutors.
Jordan takes the text seriously, Kung doesn’t.

I am sort of reading Hans Kung’s book Does God Exist? When it comes to theologizing Kung parrots the tired liberal line that peaked in the 60‘s. I am reading it because he does a good job of outlining various philosophical high points in recent history that I am too ignorant of.

Kung seems given to the notion, at least at the time of the writing of this book, of an advancing secularism. He mentions the “modern process of secularization and emancipation…” This ‘modern process’ strikes me as a widely-held fallacy of modernist Westerners writing in the post-war period and seems to still hold sway in the minds of the plebs in America. Quite to the contrary, much of the world is becoming more religious all the time.

Kung embraces evolution and sees that doing so necessitates abandoning the Biblical account of Creation and the Fall. He writes:

With regard to the origin and evolution of the world and man, has not science established the very opposite of such a perfect original state of the world and man: that there is no place in the scientific understanding of the world for a story of paradise and of the sin of a single human couple, if this is understood as a historical account and not a statement of principles?

Kung of course embraces higher criticism. In discussing Blaise Pascal he wishes that higher criticism had been embraced earlier:

A precondition, of course, for a different approach would have been a new critical understanding of the Bible in the light of the discoveries in astronomy and physics and increasingly in biology and medicine.

This doubt in the Bible is of course nothing new. It is everywhere present in modern thinking and has infected every corner of the Church. People want to be taken seriously by the world and the Academy and so they abandon the embarrassing notion of Creation in the Bible, never mind that Jesus himself said “the Scripture cannot be broken” which is about as high a view of Scripture as you’re going to find and it comes from a pretty reliable source! Contrast Kung’s surrender of the text to scientism with James Jordan’s thought in his Through New Eyes:

Moses, educated in all the learning of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22) – which was thoroughly “evolutionary” in its commitment to a “scale-of-being” philosophy – was doubtless as surprised at Genesis 1 as any modern philosopher would be. No impersonal forces here! No gradual shades of “being” from animals to man with all sorts of things (satyrs, sphinxes, etc.) in between. No huge cycles of time. Just a series of immediate personal acts, in a brief span of time, initiating linear time. This was not what Moses had been taught by his Egyptian tutors.

Jordan takes the text seriously, Kung doesn’t.

The Essence of Theonomy

Theonomy boils down to this statement, made by an old friend:

If Christ is God, and if Christ is Lord, then His Lordship extends to all areas of inquiry: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. And so, the assumption, if one affirms ethical absolutes, is necessarily one of “theonomy” broadly construed in opposition to autonomy, as Cornelius Van Til indicated. Therefore, the question is whether one is a “consistent” theonomist or an “inconsistent” theonomist.

…one better presuppose a theonomic ethic (in a broad sense not necessarily ala Bahnsen), or otherwise, one is left without ethics, and therefore, without Lordship. The details of a theonomic ethic need to be determined through careful exegesis. But, what we cannot do is say that God has no claim on how we are to live – whether privately or publicly; he does have a claim, and that claim is a theonomic (God’s law) claim.

And, given Romans 13 and other passages, the notion of justice is never abstracted from God and His character, even if public justice is in view. Consequently, public justice exhibits a theonomic dimension.