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The position which has come to be labeled "theonomy" today holds that the word of the Lord is the sole, supreme, and unchallengeable standard for the actions and attitudes of all men in all areas of life. It also teaches that since the fall it has always been unlawful to use the law of God in hopes of establishing one's own personal merit and justification. Commitment to o The position which has come to be labeled "theonomy" today holds that the word of the Lord is the sole, supreme, and unchallengeable standard for the actions and attitudes of all men in all areas of life. It also teaches that since the fall it has always been unlawful to use the law of God in hopes of establishing one's own personal merit and justification. Commitment to obedience is but the lifestyle of faith, a token of gratitude for God's redeeming grace. Jesus said, "if you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Moreover, we will strive to teach others to observe whatever He has commanded us (Mart. 28:18-20). Such healthy and necessary moral standards are surely not burdensome to the believer who bows to Christ as the Lord (1 John 5:3). Theonomy views God's laws directing moral behavior to be a reflection of His unchanging character; such laws are not arbitrary, but objectively, universally, and absolutely binding. It is God's law that "you are to be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16, citing Leviticus). The law may not be criticized or challenged by us. It is "holy, righteous and good" (Rom. 7:12). This moral law was revealed to Israel in oracles and ordinances, but even the Gentiles show the work of the law upon their hearts and know its ordinances from the natural order and inward conscience (Rom. 1:32; 2:14-15). Who, then, is under the authority of God's law? Paul answers "all the world" (Rom. 3:19). The law revealed by Moses and subsequent Old Testament authors was given within a covenantal administration of God's grace which included not only moral instruction, but gloriously and mercifully "promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come" (Westminster Confession of Faith VII.5). God's revelation itself teaches us that New Covenant believers, who have the law powerfully written on their hearts, no longer follow the foreshadows and administrative details of the old covenant. They are obsolete (Heb. 8:13), having been imposed only until the time when the Messiah would come (Heb. 9:10; Col. 2:17). Theonomy teaches, then, that in regard to the Old Testament law, the New Covenant surpasses the Old Covenant in glory, power, and finality. Theonomy also teaches that civil rulers are morally obligated to enforce those laws of Christ, found throughout the Scriptures, which are addressed to magistrates (as well as to refrain from coercion in areas where God has not prescribed their intervention). As Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-10, magistrates—even the secular rulers of Rome—are obligated to conduct their offices as "ministers of God," avenging God's wrath against criminal evil-doers. They will give an account on the Final Day of their service before the King of kings, their Creator and Judge.


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The position which has come to be labeled "theonomy" today holds that the word of the Lord is the sole, supreme, and unchallengeable standard for the actions and attitudes of all men in all areas of life. It also teaches that since the fall it has always been unlawful to use the law of God in hopes of establishing one's own personal merit and justification. Commitment to o The position which has come to be labeled "theonomy" today holds that the word of the Lord is the sole, supreme, and unchallengeable standard for the actions and attitudes of all men in all areas of life. It also teaches that since the fall it has always been unlawful to use the law of God in hopes of establishing one's own personal merit and justification. Commitment to obedience is but the lifestyle of faith, a token of gratitude for God's redeeming grace. Jesus said, "if you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). Moreover, we will strive to teach others to observe whatever He has commanded us (Mart. 28:18-20). Such healthy and necessary moral standards are surely not burdensome to the believer who bows to Christ as the Lord (1 John 5:3). Theonomy views God's laws directing moral behavior to be a reflection of His unchanging character; such laws are not arbitrary, but objectively, universally, and absolutely binding. It is God's law that "you are to be holy because I am holy" (1 Peter 1:16, citing Leviticus). The law may not be criticized or challenged by us. It is "holy, righteous and good" (Rom. 7:12). This moral law was revealed to Israel in oracles and ordinances, but even the Gentiles show the work of the law upon their hearts and know its ordinances from the natural order and inward conscience (Rom. 1:32; 2:14-15). Who, then, is under the authority of God's law? Paul answers "all the world" (Rom. 3:19). The law revealed by Moses and subsequent Old Testament authors was given within a covenantal administration of God's grace which included not only moral instruction, but gloriously and mercifully "promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come" (Westminster Confession of Faith VII.5). God's revelation itself teaches us that New Covenant believers, who have the law powerfully written on their hearts, no longer follow the foreshadows and administrative details of the old covenant. They are obsolete (Heb. 8:13), having been imposed only until the time when the Messiah would come (Heb. 9:10; Col. 2:17). Theonomy teaches, then, that in regard to the Old Testament law, the New Covenant surpasses the Old Covenant in glory, power, and finality. Theonomy also teaches that civil rulers are morally obligated to enforce those laws of Christ, found throughout the Scriptures, which are addressed to magistrates (as well as to refrain from coercion in areas where God has not prescribed their intervention). As Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-10, magistrates—even the secular rulers of Rome—are obligated to conduct their offices as "ministers of God," avenging God's wrath against criminal evil-doers. They will give an account on the Final Day of their service before the King of kings, their Creator and Judge.

30 review for Theonomy in Christian Ethics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Just the introductions and forwards to this book were worth every penny I spent ...and I've only read to page 25! Just the introductions and forwards to this book were worth every penny I spent ...and I've only read to page 25!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    Bahnsen is one of the most perspicacious and easy to read philosopher/theologians of the 20th century. A child can understand his writing, even if the concepts may fly far above his ability to apply with consistency. Theonomy in Christian Ethics is no different. It is a great comprehensive introduction to and apologetic for applying the Law of God in every area of life in every age of history. It is an important book right now because of the increasing popularity of two destructive theological p Bahnsen is one of the most perspicacious and easy to read philosopher/theologians of the 20th century. A child can understand his writing, even if the concepts may fly far above his ability to apply with consistency. Theonomy in Christian Ethics is no different. It is a great comprehensive introduction to and apologetic for applying the Law of God in every area of life in every age of history. It is an important book right now because of the increasing popularity of two destructive theological positions regarding law and society: 1) two-kingdom theory which would entirely separate Church and State spheres, and 2) the blending of Church & State spheres beyond recognition, which is common among political evangelicalism. Theonomy has gotten a bad reputation due to the personalities of some of its more prominent expositors, and due to some less-than-competent adherents, but as it is laid out by Bahnsen, it is really an irrefutable doctrine in its basic form. Everyone should read it, if only to rightly know what it is they wish to condemn as false.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adam Calvert

    I can not overstate the value of this book. It is a remarkable work of theology, philosophy, and Biblical scholarship. It points one to God's Word in every aspect of our lives, and I can only pray that every Christian minister - whether as a vocation or in a lay-level capacity - will read this book and reflect upon the arguments presented in it. For a more detailed review, see my post on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3290GWX... Whether you agree with Bahnsen or disagree with him, you will n I can not overstate the value of this book. It is a remarkable work of theology, philosophy, and Biblical scholarship. It points one to God's Word in every aspect of our lives, and I can only pray that every Christian minister - whether as a vocation or in a lay-level capacity - will read this book and reflect upon the arguments presented in it. For a more detailed review, see my post on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/review/R3290GWX... Whether you agree with Bahnsen or disagree with him, you will not be able to study the Bible again without at least reflecting on the perspective (historic though it may be) that Bahnsen offers in this volume. With that, I truly commend it with my highest recommendation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben Zornes

    Theonomy was an enormously helpful enormous book; the sort that takes a while to work through, but is replete with a great wealth of insights into the application of the Old Testament laws in the New Testament era. While this thinking is not new to me, this book is the most thorough and helpful exposition on how the Old Testament pertains to and is binding upon believers of both testaments. As I read through this I was grateful for such a well studied and well written defense of why Christians c Theonomy was an enormously helpful enormous book; the sort that takes a while to work through, but is replete with a great wealth of insights into the application of the Old Testament laws in the New Testament era. While this thinking is not new to me, this book is the most thorough and helpful exposition on how the Old Testament pertains to and is binding upon believers of both testaments. As I read through this I was grateful for such a well studied and well written defense of why Christians can and should believe the whole Bible. Bahnsen threads the needle of why God's law must be the standard for sin and righteousness, but the law is not to be the means whereby salvation is earned. Further, this is not advocating "judaizing" NT Christians. Some Christians I know have begun observing OT laws, ceremonies and festivals thinking they are recovering God's law. They are in fact missing some of the key distinctions which Jesus and the Apostles made as it regarded how we should understand and obey God's law as revealed unto Moses. Highly recommend this for people who, you know, want to obey the whole Bible.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    Bahnsen is crazy thorough in defending his main thesis that Christians are obligated to keep OT law. On pg 307 he says "Love summarizes the law, but it does not replace it; the Decalogue summarizes the biblical ethic, but it is not a substitute for the whole". This is important as our 21centry church has all but abandoned the OT. Bahnsen is crazy thorough in defending his main thesis that Christians are obligated to keep OT law. On pg 307 he says "Love summarizes the law, but it does not replace it; the Decalogue summarizes the biblical ethic, but it is not a substitute for the whole". This is important as our 21centry church has all but abandoned the OT.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy Peyton

    Fantastic book. Very informative. Read this.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Seth Goodale

    A year ago today seemed very dark and hopeless for me. I was a college student not knowing how to look at Scripture as a whole and would, at the same time, attempt to rigorously criticize the text. On top of that, I was an antinomian out of ignorance; I didn’t know what purpose God’s law had. Such a mixture led me to confusion and restlessness, leading me into depressing autonomy. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom and was (in a way) rebuked by one of my professors. He said, while pointing to the A year ago today seemed very dark and hopeless for me. I was a college student not knowing how to look at Scripture as a whole and would, at the same time, attempt to rigorously criticize the text. On top of that, I was an antinomian out of ignorance; I didn’t know what purpose God’s law had. Such a mixture led me to confusion and restlessness, leading me into depressing autonomy. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom and was (in a way) rebuked by one of my professors. He said, while pointing to the Bible, “The moment you begin to question behind this book, is the moment you begin to slide into confusion, rebellion and hopelessness.” This stuck with me, and instead of trying to criticize and “deconstruct” the text for the sake of “context,” I took a breather and asked myself, “When are you going to just take God’s Word for what it says?” This question got me to work. I ordered this book to see what Theonomy was all about. I ended up not only enjoying the writing of Bahnsen, but most importantly, I “fell in love” with the law of God. I thought loving God’s law was legalism before all this, and then I realized that my attitude was more Pharisaical before this endeavor, when I was in a pit of confusion and misery. Bahnsen clearly states in his preface that if you don’t have an open Bible while reading this, you will not come to appreciate the actual meat of this book, and that is simply obeying the Great Commission to teach God’s people to observe everything He commands (Matthew 28). With this being said, I still have some stuff I have to review and go over from this book, like that incredibly hard and painful commentary on Matthew 5:17-20. It is extremely technical and a very hard plod; worse than reading a difficult Puritan. I just wanted to give my brief thoughts and reflections on this book. I hope to write a more in-depth and clearer review on my future blog post, Lord willing. All-in-all, this book will point you to what God says about self, family, social, and national ethics, the doctrines of justification and sanctification, the separation of Church and State biblically applied, answering objections to all sorts of modern/antinomian theologians, and the need for Christians to promote obedience to God’s law in every area of life. Although this is just an intro into applying God’s law into all of life, this dissertation changed my life. I am very thankful to God, in His providence, to raise me up out of the miry clay and is establishing my steps (Psalm 40:2). This is only the beginning. Praise God!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Ventura

    Bahnsen been woke since way back. At one point he says that social justice is when we advocate for the death penalty for homosexuality. A far cry from what passes as social justice in Christian circles today.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Austin Cox

    Gloriously thorough.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Rachel

    Bahnsen gives a good basis for a Christian ethic situated in the law. Much of this book deserves a hearty "amen" from a Reformed perspective. Its greatest weakness, however, is his insistence (and non-cogent and confused) application of the OT civil law to the common political state. While Bahsen is a heavy-weight in this argument, IMHO he fails on several (major) points to persuade me of "theonomy": 1. His postmil disposition 2. Reductionism as to the relation of Israel's theocratic government to Bahnsen gives a good basis for a Christian ethic situated in the law. Much of this book deserves a hearty "amen" from a Reformed perspective. Its greatest weakness, however, is his insistence (and non-cogent and confused) application of the OT civil law to the common political state. While Bahsen is a heavy-weight in this argument, IMHO he fails on several (major) points to persuade me of "theonomy": 1. His postmil disposition 2. Reductionism as to the relation of Israel's theocratic government to contemporary governments 3. His inconsistent application of the civil law in light of those who oppose theonomy 4. Loss on the focus of the church, especially as the church in Christ is the antitype of OT Israel 5. Failing to appreciate the "general equity" of the WCF and argued by Wallace and Troxel

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Comis

    Good start to a very difficult and highly debated issue. Bahnsen wrote this for his Th.M. at Westminster Seminary (East), and it has gotten him into a lot of hot water over the years. B. was a great scholar and committed to sola scriptura. He never let up on his theonomic position, which I commend him for. At the same time, I think he probably could have listened to his critics a little more carefully, and it would've done him some good in refining his own view. He changed his view on one issue Good start to a very difficult and highly debated issue. Bahnsen wrote this for his Th.M. at Westminster Seminary (East), and it has gotten him into a lot of hot water over the years. B. was a great scholar and committed to sola scriptura. He never let up on his theonomic position, which I commend him for. At the same time, I think he probably could have listened to his critics a little more carefully, and it would've done him some good in refining his own view. He changed his view on one issue (I can't remember what it was exactly) which was brought to his attention by D. Fuller. He noted it in the edition of TCE that I read. But he failed to do the same with those whose criticisms were more explicitly directed at his positions. J. Jordan's criticisms of "classical theonomy" are the best I've come across. Check them out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Scott Cox

    I had the honor to have met Dr. Bahnsen and to hear him speak on numerous occasions. Though I do not agree with his theonomic position, he certainly helped to raise the standard regarding the importance of the law of God, as noted by the following quote, "the church today has either joined hands wiht the Enlightenment in insisiting that the individual and state be free from scriptural direction or has declared the law of God is no longer valid at least in its socio-political details . . . the wo I had the honor to have met Dr. Bahnsen and to hear him speak on numerous occasions. Though I do not agree with his theonomic position, he certainly helped to raise the standard regarding the importance of the law of God, as noted by the following quote, "the church today has either joined hands wiht the Enlightenment in insisiting that the individual and state be free from scriptural direction or has declared the law of God is no longer valid at least in its socio-political details . . . the worst part of this silence is the current conviction among theologians that God's law no longer binds the individual or the civil magistratrate."

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Steele

    This book provides thorough exegesis on God's law and Jesus attitude toward the law of God. The best teaching on the Sermon on the Mount which has Jesus confirming the law in the life of His followers which does not provide justification but provides the righteousness which we walk out through the power of the Holy Spirit! This book provides thorough exegesis on God's law and Jesus attitude toward the law of God. The best teaching on the Sermon on the Mount which has Jesus confirming the law in the life of His followers which does not provide justification but provides the righteousness which we walk out through the power of the Holy Spirit!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Nuckols

    Compelling. Thought Provoking and Life Changing. Law School and its ethical sand castle has sent me running to the Word of God for a stable and sure foundation. God's Word is authoritative for all of life. Compelling. Thought Provoking and Life Changing. Law School and its ethical sand castle has sent me running to the Word of God for a stable and sure foundation. God's Word is authoritative for all of life.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Horn

    This book gives an argument as to why the Old Testament law must be the basis of modern civil government. At times it seemed to be written in an overly complex manor, and I would agree with every single argument he makes, overall it is a good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason Trivium

  17. 4 out of 5

    A.J. Jr.

  18. 4 out of 5

    James Nickel

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robtvoss

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Emery

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dirk

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bill Baldwin

  23. 4 out of 5

    ~*amy N

  24. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Mallon

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jon-michael Samek

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Clark

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cory Kierkegaard

  28. 5 out of 5

    Everlasting Nonexistence

  29. 5 out of 5

    Seni Adeyemi

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jon

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