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 The judicial laws were set forth in Israel for the purpose of their redemption and are no longer applicable since that theocratic state has expired.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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