Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT

The Christmas Conspiracy




"'. . . that He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.'
For from Zion will go forth the Law
Even the Word of God from Jerusalem
Micah 4:2

Theonomy in Christian Ethics

One of the most important developments in recent Christian thought is the "Christian Reconstructionist" movement, also called "Theonomy."[23] The Christian Reconstruction movement believes that "God's Law" (Theonomy) should be applied in every area of life: in our relationships, in our families, in our businesses, in education, in science, in the arts. Even politicians are obligated to begin following God's Law in their political decisions. Perhaps most notable about this movement is that they find God's Law - ethical norms binding on contemporary culture - in every verse of the Bible - even in the Old Testament. The idea that modern man should obey Old Testament law is probably the most controversial aspect of "Theonomy."

While most Christians assume that a given Old Testament law is no longer obligatory unless it is specifically repeated in the New Testament, the "Theonomists" have shown that this does an injustice to the unchanging character of God's Word. In such studies as Theonomy in Christian Ethics by Greg L. Bahnsen and Institutes of Biblical Law by R.J. Rushdoony, it has been conclusively demonstrated that the Biblical assumption is that unless the New Testament explicitly qualifies an Old Testament norm, that principle is still in effect and remains in force.

To be sure, the Old Testament receives a divine interpretation in the New Testament, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New. But "fulfillment" does not mean "annulment," "replacement," or "destruction." In fact, Jesus explicitly condemns such a view in Matthew 5:17-20. Those who teach that Christians are no longer obligated to obey God's Word in the Old Testament are to be viewed with suspicion; Jesus called such "least in the Kingdom of heaven" (v. 19).

Jesus did not come to abrogate the Old Testament; He came to purify it and put its intentions into force by empowering His People to obediently fulfill its promises. The dynamic New Covenant difference is not the Standard of Righteousness, but the Spiritual ability we have to obey it.[24]

Of course, in some cases we don't even need the New Covenant to tell us that some Old Testament laws are no longer letter-applicable: the Old Testament itself tells us about the dramatic change of priesthood that was to occur with the coming of the Messiah; many laws would someday obligate no more. As Bahnsen puts it,

The Levitical priesthood, representing the Mosaic system of ceremonial redemption, could not bring perfection and so was intended to be superseded (Heb. 7:11f.,28). The people of God were subjected to a law or principle of ceremonial redemption with reference to [a] priesthood, says the author of Hebrews, but when Jesus instituted a change in the priesthood (for He was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi) the ceremonial principle was altered as well. . . . The former commandment with reference to ceremonial matters was set aside . . . in order that God's people might have a better hope, for the ceremony was imperfect and kept men at a distance from God (Heb. 7:18f.). [S]uch a change in stipulation is also a confirmation of the Older Testamental law as implied in Psalm 110:1,4.25

The Old Testament Law was authored by the Spirit of God, and cannot be any less "Spiritual" than God's Word in the New Testament. The Old Testament contains God's Law for every dimension of the Spiritual man's life. The truly Spiritual life is no option; even the Old Testament commanded men to live Christ-like lives. The Spiritual man obeys the Old Testament Law.

Theonomy in Christian Ethics

Previous | | Next | | E-Mail | | Contents | | V&FT


(23) The word "Theonomy" comes from two Greek words, theos, meaning "God," and nomos, meaning "law."

(24) Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:27; Jeremiah 31: 31-34 + Hebrews 8:8-13; Romans 8:3-5 + Ephesians 4:13.

(25) Greg L. Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics, Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1977, pp. 208-209. An unfortunate but understandable tendency among "Reconstructionists," is to limit "God's Law" to political issues which have long been ignored by Christians. The thesis of "the Christmas Conspiracy" is that Jesus came to overthrow the Old World Order not by bullets, nor even by ballots, but by the personal application of God's Law by great numbers of individual people in their families, at work, and in every area of life.