This paper was written in the early 1980's, but was never widely circulated. As a result, it bears evidence of having not been adequately critiqued and revised. I hope you will send me your comments:


The Controversy
Diet and the State
The Gospel of Reconciliation
Justification and Theonomy
Statism and the Gospel
The Annulment of the Dietary Laws?
New Testament Annulment of the Dietary Laws
Acts 10
1 Corinthians 8
Mark 7
Cleanness and Capital Punishment

The Controversy

Apparently, there is something of a controversy emerging in the Theonomic movement concerning the Dietary Laws. The Institute for Christian Economics, headed by Gary North, has recently published an "I.C.E. Position Paper" entitled, "The Annulment of the Dietary Laws," in which the controversy amongst Reconstructionists is both revealed and purportedly ended. The Paper claims to give fairly definitive answers to questions. It remains for us to show that the conclusions are superficially reached. It is not our purpose in this essay to defend the proposition that the Dietary Laws are still obligatory. We take no position on that difficult question.

The present controversy is probably a result of disagreement with our present thesis: that the Dietary Laws present a "difficult question." Controversies usually erupt when people take opposing views of a difficult question and announce that the difficult question is perfectly clear.1 It is our purpose to show that neither those who uphold the Dietary Laws nor those who oppose them have answered all the questions. What follows is not a defense of the abiding validity of the Dietary Laws, only a plea for humility and peace and further research.

Let us remember the proper place of the Dietary Laws. I don't believe that any Theonomists believe that the Dietary Laws are among the most important of all God's Laws. For my part, I know I too often find it easier to return a self-righteous "No way!" to even the best-prepared, most delicious pork dish,2 than to return a gracious, sincere, and cordial compliment to one who has served a macaroni and cheese dinner. Even if the Dietary Laws are still binding, we must not neglect the weightier matters of the Law (Matthew 23:23).

Diet and the State

One purpose of the series of essays entitled "The Meaning of Vine & Fig Tree" was to defend a belief that "institutional Christianity" has fallen far short of the Biblical ideal for Christian culture. The institutional church is trying to battle Babylon with a strategy of replacement-by-duplication rather than replacement-by-elimination. Rather than eliminate power-grabbing altogether, the institutional church is attempting to become stronger power-grabbers than the State (Luke 22:24-27). These Essays suggest that we should strive to replace the state altogether with a society based on service rather than imposed authority and coercion.

Vine & Fig Tree Essay Number Four summarized a position on the State which holds that God nowhere commands men to form an Empire or State. What was ordained by angels at the hand of Moses was what we might call "the Church," not the State. Forming a State, and profiting from it, is basic to rebellion. It therefore characterizes all non-Christian societies. God's people are not to have any gods but the Lord.

The Bible says that all Babylons are towers of rebellion, a quest for political godhead (Genesis 3:5), and an assault on the Christian life set forth in the Law and lived by the Word. I Samuel 8 is an example of the violation of the substance of the Dietary Laws. It is a case of Israel imitating the unclean lifestyles of sinful men.

Some scholars have attempted to link the Dietary Laws to the Gentile nations. But the clean and unclean animals listed in Leviticus symbolized sinful men, not nations. Granted, the ideal was for the nation of Israel to be Godly (clean), leaving uncleanness to the nations around them. But these scholars have been trapped in "archist" presuppositions. The only way nations can be brought into the picture is the simple fact that all sinful people who form associations large enough to speak of form Empires which we call nations.3 All of man's Babylons are departures from God's central unit of social order, the Family. Patriarchy is the inescapable preferred social order of Jesus and the Prophets.

Far from being tied to any form of Empire or State, the distinction between Old Testament believers and Old Testament sinners is not national but Familial. The great message of the Gospel, which we can sum up in the word Adoption, is the end of the tribal distinctions and protections God gave to Israel and withheld from other Families. When the Gospel was preached to Abraham it was the promise that in the Messianic age "All nations (ethné, from which we derive our word "ethnic") shall be blessed" (Galatians 3:8).

The Psalmist recognized the universal extension of the promise to Abraham:

Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! Selah {4} "I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me; Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia: 'This one was born there.'" {5} And of Zion it will be said, "This one and that one were born in her; And the Most High Himself shall establish her." {6} The LORD will record, When He registers the peoples: "This one was born there." Selah
Psalm 87:3-6
That this has nothing to do with the existence of the State is seen from later passages in the book of Galatians (and elsewhere) stating that all believers are now members of Abraham's Family and are thus Israel (Galatians 3:29; 6:16).

We can look back at the Old Testament in faith and know that Israel was a Spiritual type of the Church; the State as a form of social organization had nothing to do with it (except incidentally4).

We must still speak of unbelievers as "Gentiles" therefore (I Corinthians 5:1; 12:2; I Thessalonians 4:5; I Peter 2:12; 3 John 7) because what really divides men is their relationship to God, not the place of their birth. In John's Gospel even the Jews are spoken of as Gentiles (ethné). The relationship between "nations" (peoples, tribes, tongues, etc) and the Gospel must therefore be examined more closely. Non-Familial political organization must be contrasted with the Patriarchal social order of the Bible.

The Gospel of Reconciliation

Vine & Fig Tree Essay Number Two devoted but one paragraph to a very important issue. That is the issue of Paul's attack on the Judaizers. The Judaizers told the Gentiles that they could not become Christians unless they first became Jews. They restricted the sending of the Gospel to those who were Jews, holding to the traditions of the elders (cf. Matthew 15:1-9). There had always existed tremendous tension between the Jews and the Gentiles. This tension increased when Christians claimed that the promises given to Abraham were now being extended toward the Gentiles. If there were ever an example of "irreconcilable differences" it would seem to be between the Jews and the Gentiles. Yet Paul is adamant: Jews and Gentiles can now co-exist; the wall between them has been broken down.

Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh; who are called "Uncircumcision" by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands; {12} that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. {13} But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. {14} For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, {15} having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, {16} and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. {17} And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. {18} For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. {19} Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, {20} having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, {21} in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, {22} in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
(Ephesians 2:11-22).
The tension between Jews and Gentiles is no less evident to the world today than it was when Paul wrote this. The Jews, because of their "literal" interpretation of the Scriptures, had written the Gentiles off, and began to glory in the traditions of the Israelite Church-State. They grew to despise all non-Jews.

But the miraculous thing about the Gospel, in Paul's eyes, is that it has the power to unite these two perennially-fighting groups. For Paul, a Jew of Jews, this fact was particularly amazing, and it forms the basis for much of his instruction.

Most Evangelicals today don't like to consider the ethical and social aspects of the Gospel. But most of the New Testament is ethical and social in character. Even the "strictly theological" passages are often written as the basis for instruction in practical obedience. And perhaps one of the most important ethical considerations made in the New Testament is that the Gospel is a Gospel of Peace; the message of the Gospel is that men shall get along together.

This is a truly striking promise, if you stop to think about it. Most of our problems in life are simply problems of people not getting along together; people who aren't speaking to each other, or are yelling at each other, threatening each other, or engaging in intimidation or one-upmanship. Can you imagine a time when you will actually get along with your little brother? With your boss? With mean old Mrs. Morgenstern? With your mother-in-law!!? As you read the New Testament, it becomes clear that this dimension of the Gospel has been neglected. "Making two men one," "breaking down walls," "brotherly love" and other ways of looking at the answer are overlooked in favor of a more individualistic view of the Gospel. No one wishes to say that the individual's eternal destiny is unimportant, but that is not where the New Testament places the emphasis.

Justification and Theonomy

In our day, those who claim to follow the path charted by the Protestant Reformation tell us that Paul was not concerned with social and interpersonal healing. Paul's great contribution to Christianity was the doctrine of "Justification by Faith," which speaks of the individual's justification as a legal standing before God, period. Further distortions of this "justification by faith" motif are seen in the view that Paul was concerned that men observe the distinction between "law and gospel." This is a desperately confusing notion.

The heresy Paul was struggling against was not that the Jewish Christians continued to be committed to keeping certain aspects of the Law of the Old Testament; Paul was quite tolerant of those who held to such a conviction. He went out of his way to share their ritual faithfulness when in Jerusalem (Acts 21:20-26). It was not their thinking that by keeping the Law of God they could be justified before God, for the Jewish Christians did not believe that. Godly Jews had always known the place of the Law, and knew the one doctrine of justification that had been taught in the Bible from Genesis to Malachi. A Jew did not become a Christian by coming to see God as a righteous Judge and yet now also a gracious, forgiving Protector. The Old Testament teaches that, and he believed it already.

(We can see here the problem with Evangelicalism today: It teaches that men in the Old Testament were justified by obeying the Law but that men in the New Testament are justified by faith alone. Both sides of the coin are counterfeit. Men were justified by faith as much in the Old Testament as they are in the New. Men are justified by works as much in the New Testament as they were in the Old. The theologians are going to have to shed a number of unBiblical preconceptions before they can understand clearly the Biblical doctrine of justification.)

What it took for a Jew to become a Christian was, in many cases, not some new idea about the Law, about justification, about his sin, or about God's righteousness, but rather a new idea about the Gospel. The heresy Paul most often attacked was the failure of the Jewish Christians to believe that the Messiah was extending salvation to the Gentiles.

Statism and the Gospel

Throughout the history of Israel, Jewish leaders had refused to accept God's definition of the Gospel, as one that would include all peoples. Their failure to perceive the power and jurisdiction of the Messiah and His Kingdom led them to redefine the content of the Gospel. This led to their adding to God's Word5 and to their subtracting from God's Law.6

The Old Testament, in what some have called the "ceremonial law" and others, more descriptively, the "pedagogical law," singled out certain animals that in various ways could be pedagogically used to illustrate sin, and forbad the eating of these animals.7

But where the Old Testament had taught separation from sin, politically-minded and egotistic Israel legislated traditions that taught separation from other associations of people, namely, the Gentiles, even while they were emulating the Gentiles in all their political rebellion. Faithless Jews, in their hypocrisy and political pride, in effect added the men of other nations to this list of unclean animals, making them permanently unclean.

But not all Gentiles were on the "unclean" list. You see, the Pharisees were also statists, and while they professed abhorrence at the Gentile statists round about them, well, "birds of a feather, etc."

Throughout the Old Testament, faithless Israel trusted in kings and princes and military might rather than in the LORD of hosts. They saw their strength not in God but in their own political machinations. God had warned them time and time again that they should repudiate the political and military practices undertaken by the nations around them, and to be separated from them. God promised that "national security" would be the gift of God, not the result of political "détente" or a "military-industrial complex."

In their hypocrisy they claimed to be God's chosen people and cultivated a social hatred8 of the Gentiles, yet when one Gentile nation threatened them, they would run to another Gentile nation and form an alliance with it, hoping thereby to gain security (literally, "salvation"). Their hypocritical interpersonal etiquette developed into a strong nationalism; their chauvinistic hyper-patriotism distorted the Law of God into racist traditions. The Law and the Prophets spoke of the extension of the Kingdom to all nations; the elimination of all Babylonian political divisions and the uniting of all -- Jew and Gentile -- under the banner of the Kingdom of the Messiah (e.g., Micah 4:1-4). Faithless, statist Israel refused to believe this. And then they justified themselves by saying they were "pure" because they hated the Gentile poor and obeyed a lot of silly ritualistic traditions. Sound familiar?

We must remember, therefore that not all Gentiles were on this unwritten "unclean" list. Only the poor and politically powerless were "unclean." Would-be lenders, merchants, the rich, and the militarily powerful were regularly courted by the Jewish rulers. Can you imagine a wimpering Ahaz, after begging the king of Assyria for political and military support, while he is signing a covenant with Assyria (instead of God), checking with the Gentile king to make sure there wasn't any pork in the room? Not a chance. But ask such a Jew if he could be gracious to the man-on-the-(Gentile)-street. One could certainly never invite a Gentile over to one's house to tell him of the wonderful mercies of the LORD; that would be too much like a servant. Pharisees were true politicians: they lusted for power and control through hierarchical rank. The more pharisaical Jews would not even walk on the same side of the street as a (politically powerless, non-"influential") Gentile. How silly. How stupid.

We should note here something common to all man-made legislation: it reflects the pride and selfishness of its authors, and always maintains a double standard, one manner of law for the powerful and for favored "insiders," and another for the powerless. God's Law reflects the Justice of its Author: Leviticus 24:22.

Obviously the Law of God did not in any way -- letter or spirit -- say you couldn't be gracious to Gentiles, much less that you couldn't preach the Gospel to them. Although in the Older administration of the Covenant God did not normally call the Gentiles to be a part of His Kingdom, but only the seed of Abraham, it was clear that this "normal" state of affairs was in fact only temporary. The "norm" was a universal Kingdom. Noah reflected such a world-wide covenant: no Babylonian statecraft ("nations") yet the observation of the clean/unclean symbols of sin and unbelief. The good news of Adoption into the household of faith was everywhere spoken of in the Law and the Prophets. Ask Jonah! Those mean pharisees should have worried that God would put them in the belly of a whale for their pride and nastiness toward innocent Gentiles, and for their failure to tell the Gentiles of God's marvelous mercy (Jonah 4:2,11).

Acts 10

An example of this is recorded in Acts 10:28. There Peter is explaining the extension of the promise of Abraham in the Gospel to some Jews and he says,
"Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean."
The great Protestant exegete, J.A. Alexander, comments on this verse:
The Greek adjective ("unlawful") is used but twice in the New Testament, and in both instances by Peter. According to its etymology and classical usage, it denotes what is contrary to ancient custom or prescription (Gk: themis), rather than to positive enactment (Gk: nomos); and this agrees exactly with the case before us, where the prohibition does not rest upon the letter of the law, but either on its spirit, as interpreted in later times, or on some traditional addition to it.
In the New Testament we see over and over again this battle between God's Law and man's traditions. It was thus necessary to destroy the centuries-old accretions of "law" which narrowed the scope of the Gospel, and to put the Law and the Prophets -- in their Scriptural purity -- back into force (Matthew 5:17-20). One phase of this task was accomplished through Peter and is recorded in Acts 10-11. Peter, in contrast to Paul, seems to have retained something of the mentality of Jonah and the Pharisees. Paul continually and openly battled against those who restricted the full promises of the Kingdom to their own little clique. Peter seems to have succumbed to Jewish peer pressure, as is evident in Galatians 2:11ff.

Acts 10 records a vision given to Peter in an effort to get him to repudiate the traditions of men. In the vision, Peter is told three times to kill and eat unclean animals. Some have quickly concluded that this is an endorsement of the eating of the meat of dogs, cats, swine, etc., and the setting aside of the Old Testament symbols of instruction. We are not necessarily trying to encourage a ham boycott, but these interpreters (mostly amillennialists) have missed the point of this particular passage.

Peter himself did not immediately understand the meaning of the vision (Acts 10:17). But the Spirit spoke with him (10:19-20) and he then understood the vision. And the meaning of the vision had nothing to do with food, but with community and postmillennialism. As he told those at the home of Cornelius, Jewish traditions had held it

an unclean thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).
Now Peter understood the Gospel: "All nations shall be blessed!"
"Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons (Deuteronomy 10:17) but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him" (Acts 10:35).
In the next chapter (ch. 11), Peter explains to some Jews why he was being hospitable towards Gentiles (11:3) by telling him of his vision. Like Peter, they too made an important conclusion regarding the Gospel:
"Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18).
The issue in Acts 10 is not food .

The Annulment of the Dietary Laws?

With this understanding of the Jews' misuse of the Dietary Laws and failure to believe the Gospel, let us consider the arguments of those who say (very dogmatically) that the Dietary Laws have been annulled. Remember, our purpose here is not to conclude that the Dietary Laws still obligate. We just don't think it's an open and shut case. Yet.

Let us remember the Theonomic position, as stated in this I.C.E. Position paper:

The principle of interpretation promoted by the Theonomist movement is this: if an Old Testament law has not been officially abandoned or modified by a passage in the New Testament, or if a New Testament principle has not annulled it, then it is still morally binding. . . .
What we are going to be looking for, then, as we go through this Position Paper, are the New Testament principles that tell us we should no longer observe the clean/unclean distinction. We are not looking for New Testament principles that tell us not to observe the Israel/non-Israel (Gentile) distinction, because we are Israel, God's holy nation (I Peter 2:9) and unbelievers are Gentiles (see above). We have already seen, of course, that the statist, hypocritical, mean-spirited distinctions certain Jews made concerning those who weren't a part of their little clique are most assuredly condemned.

It is important that we find a New Testament statement setting aside the clean/unclean distinction as it was expressed in the Old Testament. It would be so easy for a Theonomist to assume that the Dietary Laws were still in force. A Theonomist does not misinterpret the Law and the Prophets like the Jews did. A Theonomist is not a pharisee, but a follower of Jesus the Messiah (Matthew 5:19). And over and over again the New Testament encourages us to observe some kind of clean/unclean distinction (2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 4:19; 5:3; Colossians 3:5; I Thessalonians 4:7; Revelation 17:4). As Theonomists we might naturally assume it is the same clean/unclean distinction as set forth by the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (and not, of course, the Pharisaical interpretation of same) in the absence of any New Testament statement to the contrary.

Naturally, Theonomists will not be shaken by the fact that antinomians don't accept the abiding validity of the Dietary Laws. The fact that we are now even thinking about whether they are binding on Christians is surely a healthy sign. As the Position Paper notes,

Prior to the mid-1960's, no one in the Christian world believed that the Mosaic laws concerning food are in any way binding in New Testament times. Only in the late 1960's, as the theonomic position was being initially formulated, was the question of the dietary laws even raised. . . .9
But in the 1960's the "Christian Reconstructionist" movement arose, challenging us to reconstruct our lives according to God's Law in the Old and New Testaments. Thus, many who had not previously paid any attention to the Dietary Laws in their own households now found themselves offering reasons why they should be observed. This because the Theonomic position prompted them to ask difficult questions (difficult because not previously asked). We should not be intimidated by an irrelevant marshaling of quotes from non-theonomic Reformed theologians who did not ask difficult questions, and blandly (or emotionally and dogmatically) asserted that the Dietary laws have been annulled. Nor should we worry that concern over diet is "Jewish," "Roman Catholic," or some other label. Theonomy emphasizes God's Law, not man's traditions. And what we have seen so far is certainly not a "lack of a Biblical case for the dietary laws." There is clearly a presumption that the Dietary Laws are still binding, because the Old Testament is as concerned with Spiritual things as the New. We must not allow the Pharisees to rob us of God's commands.

The question is: Are these Old Testament restrictions still morally binding on Gentiles? (For that matter, were they ever designed by God to be morally binding on Gentile converts who did not intend to live in Israel, such as those in Ninevah who were converted by the preaching of Jonah?)

Let's consider the last part of that question: were Jews obligated to observe the dietary laws if they lived in a Gentile land? When Gentiles were converted, what was their new relationship to Abraham? Did they become "heirs of the promises" (Galatians 3:29)? Were they now a part of "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16)? Were the Scriptures (the Old Testament) now profitable to them for all good works (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? Greg L. Bahnsen, in Theonomy in Christian Ethics has done a convincing job showing that Gentile nations, even before being converted, were obligated to obey the "Hebrew" Scriptures (chap. 18). We would therefore presume that they would even obey the pedagogical laws that taught about the Coming Savior and the sin from which He would deliver them, especially after their conversion and adoption into the Household of Faith.

What about aliens living in Israel (Deuteronomy 14:21)? Some have inferred that Gentiles were never obligated to obey the Dietary Laws. But this is only because they were not submitting to the Faith. Had they desired to submit to the True God and be adopted into His Household, they could have been. They also would have had to be circumcised, would they not? Aliens surely had an obligation to become members of the Church of God, but until they did, believers did not have to worry about whether Gentiles observed the symbolic order of the Church (Proverbs 13:22b).

New Testament Annulment of the Dietary Laws

If we strip the traditions of non-Theonomic Reformers from the I.C.E. Position Paper and search for the New Testament verses of Scripture that speak to the issue, we are left with three, according to the Paper:
The basic passages relating to the question of the eating of unclean or profane meats are Acts 10:7-16, Romans 14:14-23, and I Corinthians 8:1-13.
We have already looked at Acts 10, and saw at least a plausible interpretation that would allow for the continuing validity of the Dietary Laws. Is it not plausible? Should we get hot under the collar over anyone who would hold such an interpretation?

According to the Position Paper, the fact that I Corinthians 8 has yet to be discussed by the proponents of Christian "kosher" laws . . . testifies eloquently to the exegetical weakness of the position. Let's look at the passage.

1 Corinthians 8

{1} Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.
{2} And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know.
{3} But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.
{4} Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.
{5} For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
{6} yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
{7} However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled.
{8} But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.
{9} But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak.
{10} For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol's temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols?
{11} And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
{12} But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
{13} Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
As you read the passage, do you find any mention of unclean meats as described in Leviticus 11? There is a problem with new converts from paganism who felt that they could not buy meat which had been ceremonially dedicated to a pagan idol. But does the Old Testament prohibit the eating of lizard meat because it has been dedicated to idols? It would seem that I Corinthians 8 is talking about something else. Leviticus 11 meats are still a difficult question, and to say that a failure to deal with 1 Corinthians 8 "testifies eloquently to the exegetical weakness of the position" does not clarify, but merely disturbs the peace. In light of Theonomic presuppositions and continued use of a clean-unclean/Israel-Gentile distinction in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 8 is certainly not obvious in its setting aside of Leviticus 11, even if it is ultimately persuasive.

What about Romans 14? Again, is it so patently obvious that this is a discussion of the Old Testament pedagogical law? Or is this a discussion of vegetarianism (vs. 2)? Perhaps it is a reference to other pagan rituals and ceremonies (vvs. 5-6).

At any rate, I can imagine a defender of the Dietary Laws giving a reasonable interpretation of these three passages that allow for the continuing obligation of the Dietary Laws of the Scriptures.

Mark 7

Another passage often quoted is Mark 7:19. If the context is not read theonomically, we force Jesus into an Old Testament/New Testament dichotomy, as though the New Testament taught inward, Spiritual purity and the Old Testament taught only external, fleshly "purity." Jesus is here saying that the Jews idolized the symbols and ignored that which they symbolized. If we are not to eat certain animals, that is only to remind us not to do certain things. Jesus says it isn't the food per se, because what you eat does not affect the heart. At most it is only an indication of the state of your heart even before you ate. But the food itself, Jesus says, just goes out into, literally, the "sitting-apart place," if you catch the drift. At that point, "all the food is cleansed", which we might take to be an observation that ultimately the food is no longer identifiable as a clean or an unclean food, so you Pharisees are worrying about the wrong thing. James Jordan says that in saying this, Jesus is declaring the food clean "for eating purposes." That's hard to swallow.

Probably the most compelling argument against the Dietary Laws is found on the first page of the Position Paper under the heading "The Cleansing of the Land." We are told

There is no ritual cleansing required by the civil magistrates in order to free the land of pollution.
But on reflection, what this shows is that the manner of cleansing uncleanness has been altered by the Coming of Christ; it does not clearly demonstrate that the acts which rendered a man unclean have been neutralized. I will argue, in the next paper, that the death penalty has similarly been abrogated, because the stated purpose of the death penalty is a ritual shedding of blood to cleanse the land of pollution. I think we will then see we have been far too presumptuous in the matter of many difficult questions.

All this infighting among Reconstructionists is really getting me down. When will we stop rallying behind traditions (Conservative, Reformed, or our own particular party of the Theonomists) and start testing all things by the Scripture (Acts 17:11)?



Cleanness and Capital Punishment

The following paper on the "Death Penalty" was written well over a year before the publication of the I.C.E. Position Paper on the Dietary Laws. It was a result of thinking similar to that expressed at one point in the Position Paper, specifically, is there under the New Covenant a ritual cleansing required of the civil magistrate in order to free the land of pollution? There are two questions here:

1. Is there a ritual cleansing required under the New Covenant?

2. Does a non-Familial "civil magistrate" have a monopoly on this ritual?

The first of these questions may be seen in the Position Paper:

The Cleansing of the Land

indent.gif (90 bytes)Since Christ's death and resurrection, the whole earth has been permanently cleansed of the death-curse it labored under as a result of Adam's fall. That release was established definitively at Calvary, and is being progressively revealed over time. The whole creation looks forward to the final release at the end of time (Rom. 8:19-23). This is one aspect of the release granted to the Church and to mankind in general by Christ.
indent.gif (90 bytes)In Old Testament Israel, for instance, the land was polluted -- religiously polluted -- by any unsolved murder. The elders of the city in which the murder occurred had to slay a heifer in order to remove the pollution from the land (Deut. 21:1-9). Calvary annulled this law; the death of Christ covered the pollution and permanently cleansed the land. There is no ritual cleansing required by the civil magistrates in order to free the land of pollution.
If this is true -- and it seems to be -- then what are the implications for "capital punishment?" Can one hold that the Dietary Laws have been annulled and yet still uphold "capital punishment?" And if this shedding of blood is still required, is it a duty of the State, the institutional church, and/or the Family?

It is the purpose of the following paper to ask these questions, and to suggest possible lines of inquiry as to the answers.


(1) And the strong implications that those who disagree are perfect idiots.  [Back to text.]

(2) and thereby preserve my holiness (while casting unmistakable doubts on the knave who's serving swine flesh for human consumption).  [Back to text.]

(3) There is no such thing as "anarchy." The chaos we picture when we speak of "anarchy" is actually the conflict of many Humanistic "archists," or would-be rulers. Christ will eventually put down all "archists," (I Corinthians 15:24) and His followers will be servants, not "rulers" (Matthew 20:25-28).  [Back to text.]

(4) That is to say, those who were to be the Church, the Bride of the Lord, often committed spiritual adultury by voting for other lords. Thus the connection between Israel and a State is not normative.  [Back to text.]

(5) by defining "true Judaism" in terms of their perception of the "ordinances" of the Old Testament Church [Ephesians 2:15], turning the Church into a State in order to rival the pagan States [I Samuel 8], adding to this their own pharisaical traditions, and then requiring the Gentiles to become "Jewish" by obeying this "law."  [Back to text.]

(6) by neglecting God's commands for brotherly love -- compare Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 5:43.  [Back to text.]

(7) Hygienic considerations (which were summed up in the Command, "Thou shalt not kill") may also have been involved in the selection of these animals, but this is not explicitly stated in the relevant passages, and so need not be considered.  [Back to text.]

(8) anti-personalism.  [Back to text.]

(9) Actually, there have been many Christians who have observed the Dietary Laws. Most of them have been poor, persecuted, a part of a Christian "underground," because any people who take the Bible seriously as to believe that God's Law governs our diet, are likely to take other parts of the Bible seriously, and become thereby a threat to the Empire in which they live. But membership list of "the Christian world" tends to be defined by the politically and ecclesiastically powerful.  [Back to text.]