He who hears the shema drinks the shekar!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who's Afraid of the Masked Man!

My 'Valentine's Day' surprise -- 2 tickets to see San Jose vs. Vancouver on March 9th. It should be fun rooting for the Canucks in the hostile 'Shark Tank' (San Jose).

Robert Luongo is going to have to play out of his mind to keep the Canucks in the game, since they play the previous night in Phoenix. [Sorry, ladies....this trilingual, Italian-French-Canadian married last year!]

Wow, now I'm realizing how much I miss hockey!

Thanks, Vick! :)

And while we're on the subject of hockey.....let's enjoy some 'Swedish Twins'!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Theonomic Bribery!

From time to time, I think I'll include a few choice quotes from some of my 'favorite' theonomists!

Our first installment comes from Gary North:

Christ warns His people explicitly: "And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." (Matt. 5:40,41). Christ therefore informs His followers that they should give to those in power over them (i.e., if any compel thee) an extra quantity of goods and services over and above the original request. If such a gift were voluntary, we would call such an action a tip or charity. What, then, should we call such an action under conditions involving external coercion? There is a word for it, of course, but legalists may shrink from it. What Jesus advocates is for Christians to bribe the offending official. A bribe is a gift over and above what is legally required or asked for--a gift which will encourage the offending party to leave the Christian and the church in peace. It enables the Christian to escape the full force of the wrath that, in principle, a consistent pagan would impose on Christians if he realized how utterly at war Christ and His kingdom are against Satan and his kingdom. In other words, the bribe pacifies the receiver, just as Solomon said it does. The ethic of the Sermon on the Mount is grounded on the principle that a godly bribe (of goods or services) is sometimes the best way for Christians to buy temporary peace and freedom for themselves and the church, assuming the enemies of God have overwhelming temporal power.

~Gary North, "In Defense of Biblical Bribery," in R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), pp. 845-846

Yes, I shrink away from this....and I certainly don't need to be a 'legalist' to do so.

And that's why friends don't let friends become theonomists!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Westerholm-ian Interlude...

Stephen Westerholm comments on that thorny question of 'Paul and Law':

What, then, is the relation of the believer to the Mosaic law? Paul cannot but think that believers are bound to serve God. And he cannot but think that believers are still bound to do what, in the order of creation, is good and right for all human beings. Indeed, if Torah is a statement of the divine will and of 'what is good' for humankind, then Paul must surely believe that, when Christians live as they should, they effectively 'fulfill the righteous demand' of Torah. And so he does (Rom 8:3-4; cf. 13:8-10; Gal 5:14). To this extent there is a Pauline basis for the insistence of Reformed Christianity that the law is not done away by the gospel, but reinstated as the standard and guide for Christians who seek to express their thankfulness to God in appropriate behavior.

But that, of course, is not the whole of the Pauline picture. Paul was not one to dissociate Torah from the context of the Sinaitic covenant of which it was a part: and that covenant proved a covenant of condemnation and death (2 Cor 3:7-9). Christians, Paul maintains, are no longer bound by that covenant or at least in some significant sense by its laws. Paul speaks repeatedly of believers as those who have 'died to the law,' have been 'set free' from the law, are no longer 'under' the law, have been 'redeemed' from its sway (Rom 7:6; Gal 2:19; Rom 6:14-15; Gal 4:5). He means in part that believers are no longer subject to the curse that the law pronounces on transgressors, a curse borne vicariously on their behalf by Christ (Gal 3:10-13). But elsewhere it is clear that Paul believes as well that Christians serve God in a way different from those who are bound by the law's demands: 'we have been set free from the law, we have died to that which held us captive, so that we might serve [God] in the new way of the Spirit, not the old way of the letter' (Rom 7:6; cf. 2 Cor 3:6).

Here those under the 'law' serve 'in the old way of the letter.' 'Law' must refer, not simply to a statement of the standards inherent in creation by which all human beings are to live, but to those standards formulated into demands and imposed on wills that are bent on resisting them. The 'flesh' (as Paul uses the term) can only encounter a statement of God's standards as just such an externally imposed and unwelcome 'law.'

But God's ideal for humanity could hardly be the external imposition of his will on resistant subjects; 'law' in this (Pauline) sense can only be the 'guardian' of a humanity not yet 'come of age' (Gal 3:23-25). Already in the prophetic scriptures, the ideal future was seen as one in which God's will was embraced in the hearts of his people. For Paul, that 'future' had come. Provisions of Torah meant to distinguish Israel from other nations in the period leading up to Christ's coming must not be imposed upon the people of God in the new age. And even provisions which embodied what is good for all humanity cannot encounter the redeemed as unwelcome 'laws' imposed from without: the redeemed, after all, are no longer 'in the flesh' (Rom 7:5),[xiii] no longer God's 'enemies' (5:10), but his willing 'servants' (6:22).

Indeed, more than servants, they are God's adopted children for whom trust in their loving Father and obedience to him should be natural (Rom 8:14-16). Temptations must still be faced and resisted. Believers still stumble and need to be restored (Gal 6:1). Indeed, the 'flesh' continues to war against the Spirit and must be continually 'put to death' (Gal 5:17; Rom 8:13). Nonetheless, Paul is sufficiently confident of the transformation wrought when believers 'died with Christ to the law' that he can speak of Christians as serving God 'in the new way of the Spirit' (Rom 7:6). The same righteousness which was (ineffectively) demanded by the law of its resistant subjects is portrayed as the natural outgrowth (or 'fruit') of a life controlled by the divine Spirit (Rom 8:3-4; Gal 5:22-23).

To sum up: Paul was confronted by those who believed that the Sinaitic covenant was still operative and that its laws must be imposed upon his Gentile converts. He was thus compelled to explain how that covenant and its laws could, on the one hand, be divine in origin and serve a divine function, and yet, on the other hand, be set aside now that the Messiah had come. He responded with a broad sketch of humanity's dilemma and redemption in which Sinai played a significant, but temporary, role.

As creatures of God, Paul insisted, all humanity owes God praise and obedience. As creatures in a cosmos ordered by divine wisdom, all humanity is obligated to do what is good and right. In Adam, however, all humanity has chosen to go its own way. God revealed his will to Israel, the most favored segment of fallen humanity, in the laws of Torah. The revelation of God's commands inevitably provoked the rebellion of a people that remained a part of Adamic humanity. Disobedience brought on Israel the divine judgment and curse spelled out in the Sinaitic covenant. The divine purpose in giving the law was to bring definition and recognition to the dilemma posed by human sinfulness.

From this dilemma Christ delivers believers, who are no longer 'under law.' Not that they are exempt from the obedience owed by all human beings to God their Creator, or from the need to comply with the order of creation as spelled out in the moral laws of Torah. Nor, indeed, as long as they remain in bodies belonging to the old creation, are believers exempt from the struggle against temptation and sin. Still, the divine will no longer confronts them as unwelcome demands imposed from without on resistant wills. Already now, as the Spirit of God sanctifies their lives, they begin to produce the 'fruit' of righteousness that is pleasing to God.

...[T]he law was divinely given, but incapable of coping with human sin. At best, it could provide the divine diagnosis of the human problem, limit its ill effects, and foreshadow the divine solution. The transformation of the human heart, however, required, not the statutory formulation of God's will in Torah, but the personal demonstration of God's redemptive love in Jesus Christ.


And score one for the ranks of 'genuine catholicity'....a Presbyterian quoting from a Baptist who rightly employs Paul's historia salutis orientation that is sometimes (unhelpfully and not quite correctly!) referred to as the 'Lutheran' view!

See Westerholm's remarkably helpful and exegetical rigorous, Israel's Law and the Church's Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters, for further elaboration and study.