Reforming the Church’s Understanding of the OT (Post 106) – Does John Calvin support Theonomy?

I had an interesting exchange on Gab with someone that pointed out John Calvin’s view on Theonomy. Here is my response which will outline Calvin’s views as well as my issues with Calvin’s views.

In general, I find Calvin “slippery” on this topic. For instance, quoting from this article, Calvin writes, “But if it is true that each nation has been left at liberty to enact the laws which it judges to be beneficial, still these are always to be tested by the rule of charity, so that while they vary in form, they must proceed on the same principle.”

In essence, Calvin seems to be saying that the nations can view God’s law as a smorgasbord and enact whatever they want. At this point, Calvin is on the horns of a monstrous dilemma – If the law is no longer in force, then Calvin has no right to suggest that nations review them to see if “anything looks good to them”. On the other hand, if they are still in force, then the nations must establish them. Either they are in force or they aren’t. Period.

Those who have studied Calvin at great depth have long said that Calvin, on the law of God, is mild in his Institutes but much more steadfast in his Sermons on Deuteronomy. Calvin writes regarding Deuteronomy 24:7 the following,

For albeit there be not nowadays any certain people which God has chosen, and should out from the rest of the world; yet are we come by succession into the room and place of the Jews. For God has received us into his Church, and we are at this day in the same degree of honor which the children of Abraham were in. Seeing it is so, he which steals away a man nowadays, to cut him off from the Church of God, is in as great fault as he who in old time sold any one of the Israelites. And although earthly justice has established no law against it, yet does it not cease to be a grievous sin still in the sight of God. Let us therefore acknowledge the honor which God vouchsafes us, when he makes us of the number of his household, and takes and allows us for his children. Now forasmuch as much as this is an inestimable benefit, we must endeavor to the utmost of our power to preserve and keep it: and that not everyone for himself only; but for his neighbors also… And if we be a cause and occasion that the congregation of God be diminished, and that he which was sometime of it, be estranged from it by our means; we see that punishment the law has ordained. As touching the outward policy and civil order, it remains not, yet nevertheless God has declared that such lewdness shall not abide unpunished. “

John Calvin’s Sermons on Deuteronomy – “On Saturday, the 1st of February 1556 The 138th Sermon, which is the third upon the four and twentieth Chapter”

Summing up, Calvin seems to be saying in his sermon that he agrees with the law against kidnapping but not the penalty. So, here is Calvin promoting Deuteronomy 24:7 but denying God’s penal sanction. I take great issue with this as well since the writer of Hebrews says, “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every violation and act of disobedience received a just punishment,”. (Hebrews 2:2) The writer of Hebrews doesn’t agree with Calvin’s assessment of the law and penalties.

Another text that could be cited in this regard, Acts 25:11 “If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.” So, for Paul, he believed that penal sanctions of the law that included the death penalty weren’t “off the table”. He was willing to submit in that regard.

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A Response to Tom Hicks/John Samson’s Contra-Theonomic Post

I noted in December of last year that Pastor John Samson reblogged a post from Pastor Tom Hicks entitled, “Assessing Theonomy”. The entire post is contra-theonomy. Pastor John Samson is a favorite in our household and we catch his sermons from time to time. I am not familiar with Pastor Tom Hicks though. Nevertheless, I was saddened to see Pastor Samson reblog the post. He didn’t include any caveats to the post so I take that to mean he’s on board with the general gist of the points?

I initially thought to just ignore the post (I have very limited time) but could not – n o t – get it out of my head. For weeks now, I’m been reading and re-reading the post shuffling through arguments in my mind. I had finally gotten to the place where I was going to start a series of blog posts refuting the arguments when, lo and behold!, I found that someone had already done that. I found the refutation to be very well done – far superior to any response I would have made.

So, without further ado, here is Tom Hicks’ blog post that John Samson reblogged.

Here is the blog post from The Council that refutes Tom Hicks’ blog post.

Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 105) – Does John 18:36 Teach Jesus’ Kingdom is only Spiritual?

At a high level, Theonomy is about the validity of God’s Law and its application to every area of life – none are excluded. A passage that sounds counter to that notion is John 18:36 which reads as follows:

33 Therefore Pilate entered the Praetorium again, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “You are the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed You over to me; what have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this purpose I have been born, and for this I have come into the world: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

John 18:33-38 (NASB 2020)

Some have wrongly interpreted Jesus’ mention of His kingdom not being of this world to mean that it’s only spiritual – a pietist’s dream! Is Jesus saying His kingdom has nothing to do with this life? Whatever it means though, it can’t mean that. How can we be sure? Look at The Great Commission:

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB 2020)

So, the same Jesus that is saying in John 18 that His Kingdom has nothing to do with this life turns around in Matthew 28 and says we are to disciple the nations? Clearly, the interpretation of John 18 is faulty. So, what is Jesus saying in John 18?

In Jesus’ discourse with Pilate, Pilate is trying to figure out what should be done with Him. Clearly, Jesus’ proclamation that He is a King automatically makes Him an enemy of the Roman state. Jesus doesn’t shy away from the kingship question but nuances it by saying it’s not of this world. If it were of this world, “My servants would be fighting”. By qualifying His kingship, Pilate doesn’t see Him as a threat to the State – which was actually an incorrect conclusion since Christianity brought down the Roman empire.

A lengthy quote from the NICNT touches on many of these points and more:

36 Jesus knows this, and responds accordingly: “My kingship is not from this world. If my kingship were from this world, my officers would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingship is not from here” (v. 36). He tacitly acknowledges that he is a king, just as Nathanael and the crowds in Jerusalem confessed him to be, but he is careful to explain what kind of king he is not, leaving the reader to infer the kind of king he is. In contrast to 3:3 and 5, it is not a question of a “kingdom,” a realm that human beings can “see” (3:3) and “enter” (3:5), but rather “kingship,” something belonging to Jesus alone, his royal authority as Son of God (see 1:49, “Son of God” and “King of Israel”).

It is important here to avoid a common misunderstanding. That Jesus’ kingship is not “from this world” does not mean that it is merely “spiritual” in the sense of being inward or subjective. It is not simply Christ reigning in the hearts of individuals. The phrase does not so much define the nature of Jesus’ kingship as locate its origin. It is not “from” this present world, just as Jesus himself is not “from this world” (8:23b). Rather, he is “from above” (8:23a), or “from heaven” (3:13; 6:33, 41, 50, 51, 58), and he now wants the reader to know that the same is true of his “kingship.” He says it twice: “My kingship is not from this world,” and “But now my kingship is not from here.” In the same way that “not from this world” implies “from heaven,” or “from above,” the notice that Jesus’ kingship is not “from here” implies that it is “from above” (3:31). In short, it comes not from Jerusalem or Rome, but from heaven, from the very presence of God, and therefore belongs to God. Divine origin implies divine ownership. “Not from this world” implies no allegiance to this world, but allegiance only to God. Jesus’ kingship is not merely “spiritual” but eschatological, rather like the Holy City in Revelation, always coming down “out of heaven from God” (Rev 3:12; 21:2, 10). It is nothing less than Jesus’ all-encompassing “authority over all flesh” (17:2; also Mt 28:18), and in the end it will supersede all human authority. Pilate in the end will pronounce it politically harmless (see v. 38b), but it is more dangerous than he imagines.

The two assertions that Jesus’ kingship, or royal authority, is not “from this world” (or “from here”) frame a contrary-to-fact condition. The second one, “But now my kingdom is not from here,” brings matters back to reality, but the conditional clause itself addresses the question, “What if Jesus’ kingship were from this world? What difference would it make?” The difference, he says, is that “my officers would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews.” To begin with, he would have “officers” under him, like the “officers” of the chief priests who came to arrest him (18:3, 12, 18, 22; also 7:32, 45), not just “disciples.” These “officers” would fight back, and he would not have been taken. Admittedly, the logic is not airtight. First, one of Jesus’ disciples, evidently fancying himself an “officer,” had in fact drawn a sword and cut off Malchus’s ear (v. 10). Second, even a king whose kingship was “not from this world” might (according to a different tradition) have called on “twelve legions of angels” for reinforcements (see Mt 26:53). But the first was irrelevant because Jesus renounced Peter’s misguided attempt to help (v. 11), and was in fact arrested despite the token resistance. The second scenario—even if known to the writer of John’s Gospel—would have made no sense at all to a Roman governor. The contrary-to-fact condition is ambiguous as far as tense is concerned. It could be translated either “my officers would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews” (as we have done), or “my officers would have fought so that I would not be handed over to the Jews” (italics added). We might have expected “so that I would not be handed over to you,” for Pilate has just said, “Your nation and the chief priests handed you over to me” (v. 35). The present tense, “my officers would fight,” is marginally more appropriate because the reference to being “handed over to the Jews” anticipates not the present moment but rather the end of the whole sequence of events when, as we will learn, Pilate finally “handed him over to them [that is, to “the Jews”] to be crucified” (19:16, italics added). Already here, Jesus drops a hint that he will die at the hands of “the Jews” after all.

The Gospel of John by R. Ramsey Michaels in the NICNT Series

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Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 104) – Are You, or Your Ministry, or Your Church Least or Greatest in the Kingdom?

How serious is keeping of the Law to our significance in God’s kingdom? Jesus taught:

17 “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not [g]the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished! 19 Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches [h]others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever [i]keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:17-19 (NASB 95)

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that keeping/teaching the Law of God determines our significance in the kingdom. If we nullify (or ignore) and teach others that God’s law is abrogated, we will be least in the kingdom of God. Least. On the other hand, those that teach God’s law is still in force for the New Testament age will be great in God’s kingdom.

That is profound! How many protestant ministries ignore God’s law? Far and away, the vast majority! They are the least in God’s kingdom. It doesn’t matter if they have charismatic pastors, if they are worldwide, if they have large followings, or if they have a large church on Sunday. They are least in the kingdom. Least. It doesn’t matter if they are well known by everyone with materials printed in every language, if they don’t observe and teach others to follow God’s Law, they are least in the kingdom.

By the same token, do you observe and teach God’s law? If you don’t, you are also least in God’s kingdom.

The church you attend, do they teach the congregation to observe and follow God’s Law? If not, your church is the least in God’s kingdom.

Note that Jesus isn’t speaking in broad terms; in other words, if the Law is taught in broad terms that it is in force. That’s not enough! Jesus said His concern is even to the, “…least of the commandments”. Jesus wants it all taught and none of it ignored! All of it!

God’s Law is not a tangential aspect of the Christian life, it determines one’s standing in God’s kingdom.

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Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 103) – Are There Any Laws that Don’t Carry Through to the New Testament Era?

Are there any exceptions to the Laws that carry through to the New Testament era?

An example of these Old Testament laws which separated Israel from the world is found in Leviticus 20:22–26, where we see that the observation of such laws (for example, distinguishing unclean from clean meats) was but symbolic of separation from worldy customs. All meats are now deemed clean (Mark 7:9; Acts 10:14–15), yet God’s people are still obligated to separate themselves from worldliness (Rom. 12:1–2) and union with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14–17). How was holy separation accomplished, according to Leviticus 20? “You shall therefore keep my statutes and all mine ordinances and do them” (v. 22).

Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today, 76

In simple terms, we should expect God’s Word and Law to continue unless God specifically makes changes.

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Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 102) – What was the Attitude of the Apostles toward God’s Law?

Did the Apostles believe God’s Law had expired? What did they teach?

The Teaching of the Apostles

The apostolic attitude toward the law of the Old Testament parallels that of Christ. The keeping of the law is greatly significant (1 Cor. 7:19), for the believer is not without the law of God (1 Cor. 9:20–27). Law-breaking is not to have dominion over the believer (Rom. 6:12–13; 1 John 3:3–5), for the Holy, Spirit fulfills the ordinance of the law within him (Rom. 8:4). The law is written on the New Covenant believer’s heart (Heb. 8:10), so that those who loyally follow Christ are designated by John as those “who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17; 14:12).

The apostles often supported their teaching by appealing to the law (for example, 1 Cor. 14:34; Jas. 2:9)—its general precepts found in the decalogue (for example, “Thou shalt not steal,” Rom. 13:9), the case law applications of those details (for example, “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treads,” 1 Tim. 5:18), the penal code (for example, “if I am an evildoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die,” Acts 25:11; cf. Deut. 21:22; Rom. 13:4), and even “holiness” requirements in the ceremonial law (for example, 2 Cor. 6:14–18).

Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today, 66

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Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 101) – Does Time or Geography Negate God’s Law?

Does time or geography negate God’s Law? Was it only written for a specific people at a certain point in time?

The continuing authority of God’s law today is inherent to a biblically based theology. Time does not change or wear out the validity of God’s commands, and a change of geography or locality does not render them ethically irrelevant. With the coming of the New Covenant and the spreading of the church throughout the world, we still read in Scripture that the law of God is to be written on our hearts, and we are to disciple all nations and teach them to observe whatsoever the Lord has commanded. The Biblical doctrines of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the Covenant of Grace all harmonize in pointing to the abiding validity of God’s inspired law.

Greg Bahnsen, By This Standard: The Authority of God’s Law Today, 63

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Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 100) – Muddled Thinking about God’s Law

In BigEva, and even hardcore Reformed churches, much muddled thinking exists regarding the permanency of God’s Law. Even a Theologian as great as R.C. Sproul wrote the following:

Should we try to make the United States a theocracy? The confession says we should not. The judicial laws were set forth in Israel for the purpose of their redemption and are no longer applicable since that theocratic state has expired. However, it is inconceivable that there could be another theocracy today, molded according to the legislation of the Old Testament. It could be made a capitol offense to profane the name of God publicly. Such a penalty would not be inherently unjust, for that would mean that God was unjust to impose such a sanction in the Old Testament community.

Since the Old Testament came from God, who is holy and righteous, we should not be offended by any laws that we read there. If we are offended by them, it is because our thinking has been distorted by a secular perspective on law, righteousness, and ethics. God’s standards, revealed to his people in the Old Testament, are as foreign to us today as they were to the ancient worshipers of Baal. We must go to the pages of Scripture and ask ourselves if it is really the law of God. If it is, it teaches us what is pleasing to God and what is odious to him.

R.C. Sproul, Truths We Confess: A Layman’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, 2:267

Brian Schwertley wrote in incisive rebuttal:

Sproul says that the judicial laws were redemptive (which is incorrect, only the ceremonial or typical laws pointed to Christ); that they have been abrogated with the coming of Christ; and, that this is the position of the Westminster Confession. The Confession actually teaches that whatever is moral in content within the judicial law (e.g., the many moral case laws) does continue. Sproul then says that a nation could become a theocracy if it wants to and could even implement some of the laws within the judicial code (including the penalties) because Jehovah wrote them and therefore we cannot say they are unjust. Here we have Sproul (a man noted for his brilliant analytical and reasoning capabilities) saying that we should not seem a theocracy in America and that the whole judicial law has been abrogated; but, apparently, if a nation decides that it wants to form a theocracy and adopt the moral case laws and the accompanying judicial penalties, that would be all right because God wrote the laws and therefore we cannot say they are unjust. It seems that Sproul believes that that which is righteous, just and good can be abrogated, yet can still be followed because it is just.

Brian Schwertley, National Covenanting – Christ’s Victory Over The Nations, 474

Beyond what Brian wrote, a couple of issues are at the bottom of this. If you asked a Christian if bestiality is sin, they would say it is. Why though? It’s not addressed in the New Testament. You have to use the Old Testament to come to that conclusion. At that point, you are on the horns of a dilemma and are probably holding onto a “squishy hermeneutic”. If your hermeneutic allows the Old Testament to speak to bestiality, why can’t the Old Testament speak to everything else? If you’re convinced it can’t speak to everything else, then you can’t use it to speak to bestiality (or any other ethical issues!). To say this another way, if the Old Testament can’t speak to ethics, it then shouldn’t be used to speak to ethics. Period. If you can use the Old Testament to speak to anything, it then has to speak to everything. A hermeneutic can’t be arbitrary. If the Law isn’t binding to the New Testament era, it shouldn’t be used in the New Testament era. Was it God’s purpose to shelve His Law after the Old Testament era? Clearly not:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV)

The other issue at the bottom of this is that, of course, God’s Law speaks to all peoples at all times. Why? It’s not positive law (i.e., it’s not arbitrary). God’s Law is based in His character.

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Social Media Choices in Light of the Extreme Fascism of the Left

Wow, it certainly didn’t take long for the claws of the extreme fascists on the Left to come to bear. President Trump isn’t even out of office and:

  • He’s been permanently banned on Twitter (and several other services)
  • Lots of Christians and conservatives have been banned from Twitter
  • The Parler app has been banned on Apple and Google’s stores
  • Amazon has kicked Parler out of AWS

Is everyone feeling the warmth and unity of Joe Biden’s administration? The Globalists are more than happy to continue their fascist practices.

This has left many reeling for “safe” social media choices in our current hour. To begin, I work in the Internet space managing teams of developers and have insight into how software is created and deployed. I hope this is a help to someone. I wrote this article quickly because it needed to go out today; so, there are many aspects and points that need further clarification that I simply didn’t have time to cover. Have mercy.

To begin, let’s start with some definitions:

  • For a website to run, custom software must be running on a server which is connected to the Internet. Yes, we’re painting with broad strokes. You can run that server in your basement, at your business, etc. If you don’t want to set up your own server and/or deal with it, some companies have set up entire businesses offering virtual servers you can use for your website and they charge you for the access time and bandwidth. I doubt many realize that Amazon has a VERY large offering in this space, it’s called AWS. Google and Microsoft have an offering too. So, you develop your website and deploy it to these offerings. When you’ve done this, it’s said you’ve deployed to the “cloud”. The cloud is an offsite (offsite to your business) server/network offering.
  • Most times, a social media offering will also develop a smartphone app that offers their social media particulars in a way that works well for your smartphone. To be clear, you can access all social media offerings on your phone’s web browser but often, that is clunky and is why apps are created. It’s very necessary (you’ll soon see why!) to further clarify types of smartphone apps:
    • Native apps are what you are most familar with. You purchase and download them from the Apple or Google stores.
    • Mobile Web apps are ones that you do NOT download from the Apple or Google stores. They create icons on your phone and in many ways seems just like a “native app”. Where do you get them? A social media site will offer them if they have one.

I’m assuming many, like me, are completely disgusted with Facebook and Twitter and are looking for other options. I’ve never had a Facebook account but have been with Twitter since almost the beginning. Someone recently quipped that they can remember when Twitter was fun. Me too! I remember when it was small and growing. No longer. It’s now a tool for the fascist-left to wield on behalf of the Democrats. I’m tired of waking up every day hearing everyone complain how many followers they have lost and who else has been banned. Folks, we’re not welcome on these platforms any longer. Currently, there is a gigantic exodus happening from Twitter that would make Moses’ tongue wag. I read this morning that Parler now has more users (active?) than Twitter? I don’t know if that’s true.

So, what are the choices I’ve investigated? MeWe, Parler, and Gab are three well known options at the moment.

I’m not going to dig far into WeWe because, for me, it’s got an achilles heel – it’s hard to find people to follow. What do I mean by that? Yes, all the social media sites offer search bars if you know someone’s name or handle. That’s now how I largely find people though. I look at people I know (that have similar views as I do) and look at who they follow and who follows them. I find a lot of people that way. This is very hard to do on MeWe. Unless I misunderstand, the only people I can “investigate” are people I follow. Even “following” on WeMe is locked down – someone has to agree to allow you to follow them – you make a request. So, yes, if my good friend “Jim Lee” lets me follow him on MeWe, I can see who he follows but can’t “investigate” who they follow. This greatly limits finding people on MeWe. Now, for some, how locked down this is is appealing. I may still stay on MeWe, I haven’t decided.

Let’s talk about Parler. They’ve been the anti-Twitter darling for many months; but, they are very vulnerable to leftist Big Tech (as we’re seen this week). I’m on Parler and have been enjoying my stay but Big Tech wielded their nasty claws this week. Parler is very vulnerable for two reasons:

  • Their servers are deployed in the AWS cloud. AWS is run by Amazon and Jeff Bezos is the CEO of Amazon. He’s also a big Democrat.
  • Their mobile apps are native mobile apps

So, once Big Tech heard President Trump was coming to Parler, that turned into a red alert to attack them. And attack them they did! Apple/Google banned the Parler native app from their stores. Now today, Amazon employees have been pushing Amazon to kick Parler’s servers out of AWS. That decision was made yesterday and Parler is out of AWS as of Sunday night at midnight. Now only was this fascist but rude in that it only gave them a couple days notice. That’s the “caring” left for you.

Lastly, let’s talk about Gab and contrast how they’ve positioned themselves beyond the claws of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple and Google. Gab doesn’t run their servers in the cloud. They run them at their own business. The “big 5” can’t cut them off. In addition, Gab’s mobile app is not a native app but a web mobile app. In other words, there isn’t anything for Google/Apple to ban in their stores. Gab had great foresight in how they positioned themselves. Personally, I like the Gab site quite a bit. Since Gab doesn’t need the “big 5”, they also don’t have to deal with bowing their knee to them about what “big 5” thinks is a good or bad post.

So, right now, Parler is scrambling to purchase and set up servers at their business. I read their CEO say today they would be a week setting up their equipment and deploying their software. As a further insight into all of this, I know from personal experience that this is very likely going to be much more expensive for Parler going forward. AWS is inexpensive. But, once this is done, the “big 5” can’t shut down their servers. That doesn’t fix the native app problem though. Before we can discuss this further, let’s talk about getting an app from Amazon/Google’s stores. What happens (at a high level)? You purchase the app, it downloads a file to your smartphone and once that file is there, it executes it for you which then starts the installation process. There is a way to install an app without the store and it’s got a funny name, it’s called “sideloading”. In essence, you download the app file to your phone and then kick off the installation process yourself. Parler has already put out instructions on how to sideload the Parler app. So, that somewhat gets around being banned by Google/Apple. Now, some people just won’t be up for that; but then what happens when Parler updates their app? Yep, you’ve got to sideload the new version. Now, Parler could go the Gab route and create a web mobile app but that’s going to be a significant development effort.

All isn’t perfect with Gab’s web mobile app. They did a GREAT job with it but you can’t “share” to it since it’s not a native app. In other words, if I’m viewing a photo in Gallery, I can’t share to the Gab web mobile app. That is a shortcoming of mobile web apps in general and not a shortcoming in what Gab created. In essence, a web mobile app is running within your smartphone’s browser and not the OS directly.

As of right now, MeWe and Gab are slow to respond since millions – literally – are setting up accounts and using the sites. Gab set up 10 servers alone just last night. Fascism is sure good for the competition!

What did the wise Knight say in the Indiana Jones movie? “Choose, but choose wisely!”

If you want to follow me:

  • Parler: PresuppAndDominionPolemics
  • Gab: PresuppAndDominionPolemics

Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 99) – Problem Passages that Seem to Negate the Law of God (Part 18)

In the previous series of blog posts, we cited a number of historical leaders in the protestant church that saw the Law as having permanent significance. Those opposed to the Law of God in the New Testament era cite a number of passage they believe is favorable to their position.

Another passage cited as a theonomic defeater is 1 Cor 5:1-13:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

1 Cor 5:1-13 – ESV

So, what is the issue? The position is put forth that if the Law of God is still upheld in the New Testament era, then Paul should have pushed for execution in the Corinthian church. I’ve seen John Piper push this issue on Twitter. I’ve also seen John Piper draw doctrine from the Law of God. Dr. Piper, you can’t have it both ways without a consistent hermeneutic.

There are at minimum a couple of major problems trying to make this case from 1 Cor 5. The first problem is that sanctions in the Old Testament were for the civil magistrate, not the ecclesiastical authority; therefore, it would have been wrong of Paul to indicate that it was the responsibility of the Corinthian church to take matters into their hands. Here is how Greg Bahnsen states the matter:

Paul surely did not expect ecclesiastical authority to punish the unbelieving murderers, kidnappers, homosexuals, perjurers, etc. that he mentions in this passage (cf. 1 Cor. 5:12). Who then did he envision as “lawfully” applying the law in such cases? The civil magistrate (Rom. 13:4 – punishing those who do “evil” which is contrary to the law of God, cf. w. 9-10).

Bahnsen, Greg L. No Other Standard: Theonomy and Its Critics. Institute for Christian Economics, 1991.

The second problem is a misunderstanding regarding Old Testament sanctions. Some sanctions stated a maximum penalty but allowed for lessor penalties (there will be much more about this in a later post). That is the case for adultery. As a simple example, consider the case of David and Bathsheba. Were they executed? So, although Paul didn’t push for the Corinthian church to execute the offenders (since that wasn’t their function); Paul also wouldn’t even have to push the magistrate for execution since lessor penalties would also sometimes be sufficient.

Previous Post in this Series

The previous post in this series can be found here.

Some of the Memorable Books I Read This Year

My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. – Ecc 12:12

Here are some of the more memorable books I read this year:

My path towards postmillennialism is complete. I have yet to find anything Greg Bahnsen championed that, after fully studying, I didn’t end up adopting. Postmillennialism is yet another example. Ken Gentry’s masterful and exhaustive text on the subject is persuasive. I certainly found it to be so. His considerations on the Great Commission and 1 Corinthians 15 were enough to bring my position around to postmillennialism. Highly recommended!

I am a theonomist which is yet another core doctrine Greg Bahnsen championed that I resisted and resisted. His audio series on refuting Westminster Theological Seminary’s objections to theonomy pushed me over the edge. It resolved my remaining questions.

Brian Schwertley is a theonomic preacher and I am mesmerized by his teaching. I listen to it every chance I get. The guy is sound and thoughtful and brings the full Bible to bear on every text. So, what is this book about? Taking the Great Commision seriously, after a nation follows God’s law, what is the next step? Brian’s book answers that question. Covenanting is a principle found throughout the Old Testament. Most of Brian’s books exegetes relevant Old Testament texts. I could not put down his book. Highly recommended!

Dr. Steven Dilday is on a mission to return Matthew Poole’s commentaries to the church. You can purchase them in both hardback and PDF (you will need to write Dr. Dilday to get the PDF versions). I purchased everything he had in PDF form and read them on my Kindle Oasis when I am resting in the evening. I loved, loved, loved, Poole’s commentary on Genesis 1-11. Highly recommended.

I have some of this remaining but read most of it in 2020. Joel Beeke and Mark Jone’s book is essentially a systematic theology from the Puritans. I learned a lot reading through it. Every sentence is weighty and worth serious consideration. Many of my tweets on Sunday come from this book. Highly recommended!

I love systematic theology. I love biblical theology. A book that has both is like a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup – two great tastes in one! I completed the first volume of Dr. Gamble’s project in 2020 and have now started volume two. Dr. Gamble provides a sweeping coverage of the Old Testament from both a systematic and biblical theology perspective and brings many highlights to your attention. Highly recommended!

Brief Review of Jonathan Sarfati’s “The Genesis Account” commentary on Genesis 1-11

The older I get, the more I am intrigued and drawn into the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. So very much of the foundation of our world (and the Christian’s worldview) finds its foundation in these chapters. Truly, a correct understanding of the entire Bible will be faulty if your understanding of Genesis is faulty. So, as a result, I have a tendency to find and read commentaries on Genesis.

What book has been more savagely attacked than Genesis? None. Satan knows if he can undermine Genesis, it opens the gateway to attacking and undermining the rest of Scripture. As a result, the book of Genesis has been attacked and eisegetically (“reading into” a passage in contrast to exegesis which is to “draw out” from a passage) interpreted to include concepts foreign to the text (such as the “gap theory”, etc). A few years ago, my family and I went to a Genesis conference taught by Ken Gentry and he said a straightforward reading of Genesis would lead anyone to believe that God created the world in 6 days. Sadly though, we live in a time of too many BigEva teachers trying to score points with the evolutionist crowd though.

Well, to begin, JF’s commentary is 1010 pages in length. Now, a big book doesn’t necessary mean depth. A short book just about always does though. In this case, it does have depth. JF has a PhD in Chemistry and spent a lot of his life defending young-Earth/6-day creation. It shows! In our day and time, there are many, many errors to refute in a Genesis commentary as well as many needed pages to set the record straight about what the Genesis text is really teaching. You will find few stones left unturned in JF’s commentary! Be ready to read extended discussions on the 6-days of creation, Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel, etc. JF also tackles the underlying Hebrew when that level of detail is needed. While there is much scientific discussion, I can honestly say it is a page-turner. It’s truly hard to put down!

I met JF at an Orlando, FL conference and got him to sign my copy – surely a treasure in my library. I’ve read the commentary twice, all the way through. Twice. The highest praise I can offer is that my wife completely read it through and commented she was deeply sad when there were no more pages to read. My wife is not given to sitting down with a commentary and reading it through. I have also gifted this commentary to a number of people.

JF’s commentary is truly a gift to the church. I can’t wait to finish my current Bible reading schedule so I can run through his commentary again. JF truly loves God’s word and does a masterful job exegeting the text in a straightforward and honest way. My first read was through a hardcover version but since then, a Kindle version has come out too. The Kindle version is only $20 and is the best $20 you’ll spend this year. Get it. Now. Right now.

What Does “Follow the Science” Mean?

I’ve been amused how much I see Biden/Harris trying to justify their COVID-19 direction with the notion that they are going to, “…follow the science“. What does that mean though?

Let’s take a step back and look at the long standing dispute between Creation scientists and Evolution scientists over the origin of the world around us. Both sides claim lots of facts to justify their position. Both sides make scientific arguments. Both sides are claiming to “follow science”. Why then don’t they come to the same conclusion? The answer is presuppositions.

Do presuppositions undergird the scientific method? They sure do! Here are ten:

  1. The existence of a theory-independent, external world
  2. The orderly nature of the external world
  3. The knowability of the external world
  4. The existence of truth
  5. The laws of logic
  6. The reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties to serve as truth gatherers and as a source of justified true beliefs in our intellectual environment
  7. The adequacy of language to describe the world
  8. The existence of values used in science (e.g., “test theories fairly and report test results honestly”)
  9. The uniformity of nature (i.e., induction)
  10. The existence of numbers

So, scientific conclusions don’t float down out of the sky like unimpeachable brute facts. The facts must be interpreted and those interpretations will be guided by the scientists presuppositions.

So, returning to Biden/Harris, what do they mean when they says they are going to “…follow the science”? It simply means they are going to follow the direction of Democrat approved scientific conclusions. Straight and simple, that it what it means.

Reforming the Church's Understanding of the OT (Post 98) – Problem Passages that Seem to Negate the Law of God (Part 17)

In the previous series of blog posts, we cited a number of historical leaders in the protestant church that saw the Law as having permanent significance. Those opposed to the Law of God in the New Testament era cite a number of passage they believe is favorable to their position.

Following the order of passages in Dr. Greg Bahnsen’s Theonomy in Christian Ethics, in chapter 10, Alleged Negative Passages, here is Greg’s next area of concern:

The Sabbath. The Sabbath is a creation ordinance (Gen. 2:2, 3) which men were obligated to observe even before the coming of the Mosaic law.7 Compare Exodus 20:10, 11 for its interpretation of Genesis 2:2, 3. All men are subject to the Sabbath law (note that Christ does not say that the Sabbath was made for Israelites in Mark 2:27, but for generic “man”). Man’s moral obligation to Sabbath observance is placed right along side the nine other universally moral words of the Decalogue, which was written by the very finger of God. When man
observes the Sabbath he is rightly imitating his Creator; the Sabbath rest is patterned after the creation rest of God. In the era of the New Covenant this creation rest becomes a sign of the Christian hope, his heavenly rest at the consummation of this age (Heb. 4). In the beginning God established His rest; Christ provides for and promises entrance to this rest, and in the eternal age we shall enjoy it. The Sabbath has universal extension and perpetual obligation. At the coming of Christ the Sabbath was purged of the legalistic accretions brought by the scribes and Pharisees (Luke 13:10-17; 14:1-6; Mark 3:1-6); the Sabbath had suffered corruption at the hands of the “autonomous” Pharisees just as numerous other moral precepts had (cf. Matt. 5:21-48). Moreover, the ceremonial and sacrificial aspects of the Older Testamental cycle of feast days (“new moon, sabbath year, Jubilee, etc.”), along with those cyclic observances of feasts, were “put out of gear” by Christ’s work of redemption. Hence Colossians 2:16 f. looses us from the ceremonial elements of the sabbath system (the passage seems to be referring specifically to feast offerings),8 and passages such as Romans 14:5 f. and Galatians 4:10 teach that we need not distinguish these ceremonial days any longer (as the Judaizers were apt to require). As Christ provides for entrance to the eternal Sabbath rest of God by His substitutionary death upon the cross, He makes the typological elements (e.g., offerings) of the Sabbath system irrelevant (things which
were a shadow of the coming substance according to Col. 2:17; cf. Heb. 10:1, 8). By accomplishing our redemption Christ also binds us to the observance of that weekly Sabbath which prefigures our eternal Sabbath (cf. Heb. 4).

Although ceremonial days are no longer to be distinguished, the New Testament does distinguish the first day of the week from the other six (1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7) and denominates it “the Lord’s Day” (Rev. 1:20). In observing the weekly Sabbath we honor Christ who is the “Lord” of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28), and we anticipate the coming Sabbath rest which our Lord has secured for us (in this, parallels can be seen with the “Lord’s Supper”). In Mark 2:23-28, Christ and His disciples are accused of “doing what is not lawful” on the Sabbath, but because they had only violated a rabbinical tradition Christ does not bother to contest the accusation; it simply amounted to nothing. There was no contest, for Christ did not recognize the traditions of the elders as “lawful.” However, Christ does take this as an opportunity to assert that He is “Lord even of the Sabbath.” Thereby Christ definitely and positively confirmed the Sabbath; otherwise Christ would be grandly proclaiming His lordship over something which was nonexistent. The Sabbath did not pass away with Christ’s advent or Messianic work; until our eternal rest the weekly Sabbath continues to be “lorded” by Christ and is a type of the coming reality. “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27), and man still needs the benefit of it. The issue of the Sabbath poses no contradiction to the abiding validity of God’s moral

Bahnsen, Greg L. Theonomy in Christian Ethics. Covenant Media Press.

It is certainly worth nothing that Dr. Richard Gaffin makes a solid case against John Calvin that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance and, as a result, has not been abrogated:

The relation between the creation and redemptive Sabbaths may be further clarified along the following lines.

1) The weekly Sabbath instituted at creation is a type of eschatological rest. But, as we have also seen, as such and more concretely, it points to the order of the Spirit in its perfect, consummate finality. It therefore continues to serve a typical function until what it prefigures is realized. That eschatological consummation, 1 Corinthians 15, for one, makes clear, will not be until the resurrection of the body (vv. 42–49), until the time “when he [Christ] hands over the kingdom to God the Father …, so that God may be all in all” (vv. 24–28).

Certainly, believers have already received the Spirit as an actual deposit on their eschatological inheritance (Eph. 1:14); the blessings they enjoy are “semi-eschatological.” But to reason, on the basis of these incipiently enjoyed blessings, that the weekly Sabbath has ceased, reflects a greatly impoverished view of biblical eschatology. To conclude that the Sabbath institution has been abrogated because all the blessings of the eschatological order are in principle realized in the New Testament church, as if nothing essentially new remains to be realized, is to lose sight of the present incomprehensibility of the consummate glory of the new heavens and new earth that God, in Christ and through the Spirit, has prepared for his people, glory that neither eye has seen nor ear heard (1 Cor. 2:9). The weekly Sabbath is the type of that still future perfection and will continue to picture it until it becomes reality.

2) The Old Covenant redemptive Sabbath was not, strictly speaking, the Sabbath institution expressed in the fourth commandment, but the particular expression that creation ordinance took in redemptive history from the fall until Christ. Since the redemptive considerations it typified have been fulfilled in Christ, it is no longer in force. That fulfillment, however, has left an indelible imprint on the creation Sabbath. The fulfillment of the redemptive Sabbath was absolutely indispensable to realizing the ultimate outcome in view, typically, in the creation Sabbath. Without the redemptive rest brought by Christ, Spiritual rest would be an unobtainable goal for sinners. Confirmed redemption rest, achieved by Christ for believers, is their guarantee of the full realization of the eschatological rest in view already in the creation Sabbath.

To give a concluding focus to much of the preceding discussion, Scripture teaches that the weekly Sabbath was a creation ordinance and that it was given as the type par excellence of the eschatological state toward which creation is moving. To be sure, the realization of that Spiritual order cannot now be realized, given the fall, apart from redemption. But to fail to see the significance of the creation Sabbath before the fall and apart from redemption, is to render the fourth commandment largely meaningless. Calvin’s view is a clear illustration of that failure.

The typical element is a permanent aspect of the fourth commandment. The Lord’s Day, as the weekly Sabbath, remains a type until the present created order (the psychical) gives way to one that is consummately higher and better (the Pneumatic). To say that believers are still bound to keep this type is not to compromise the freedom brought by Christ. Rather, observing the Lord’s Day is an expression of that freedom. The weekly rest day, faithfully kept by the church, is a concrete witness to a watching world that Christians are not enmeshed in the turmoil of an impersonal historical process but look with confidence to sharing in the consummation of God’s purposes for the creation, a witness that there does indeed remain an eschatological Sabbath-rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:9).

Gaffin, Richard B. Calvin and the Sabbath: Mentor, 2009.

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