Thursday, June 29, 2006

Value of Life

The June 28th commentary by Dr. Mohler discusses a chilling article by Anne Lamott. You can read it here. I don't know if you could find a more striking example of the antithesis between a Christian worldview and a non-Christian worldview. This seems to be the cultural issue of our age: human value/dignity and the right of our creator to give and take life by His providential plan. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that Ann Lamott considers herself a Christian. Who's fault is that? I would suggest it is the Church's fault.

After reading this article how would you tackle this issue? Do you want to wage war against cultural elites like Ms. Lamott, or would you like to explain to her why she is not thinking as a Christian, since that is her self description of herself? Can we do both simultaneously?

Lets get introspective. If we confess to believe that all humans are made in the image of God, are we living our lives and treating every single other person we meet with that understanding? Should we be?


Dax said...

Here is a woman bragging about murder. My question is-What punishment is due to someone like Ms. Lamott? She is obviously unrepentant and guilty. The same with abortionists. I applaude Dr. Mohler and the many others who engage in the culture wars, but they usually stop short when you want to talk about how these people should be dealt with. Do we say that they should go to prison? Is that even the biblical way of dealing with these types of crimes?
So here is the question I'm pondering-do we submit to those God has placed over us(Rom. 13) and make the best out of their ever increasing secularized court and prison system by starting prison ministries and outreach programs for these criminals, or would handling things according to the Old Testament pattern of judicial law be better for the greater good of society? I'm just thinking out loud here. Let me know what you think. I am in no way saying I'm against prison ministries or reaching out to criminals with the gospel. I'm wondering how should our society deal with these individuals judicially according to God's Word.

BJ said...

T-H-E-O-N-O-M-Y!!!!!!!! Its our only hope

Randy said...

Russ, This is an issue that inflames many emotions..While I understand the desire of those who want to appear "humane", I cannot and will not cave in to the wishes of those who are so sadly misguided. I, as a 17 year old, watched as my grandmother wasted away and eventually succumbed to the ravages of colon cancer. Not once would she have ever thought of taking her own life, for she knew that God would give her grace to endure whatever came upon her. I learned a lot from her during her last few months, and never once did she complain or rail against God. Anyone who would "help" someone take their own life is, in fact, an accessory to murder. Suicide, defined, is actually the murder of one's own life. One who "assists" is therefore an accessory to that murder, and should be held accountable for said actions under the laws already established for such crimes. Anyone, it seems, can call themselves Christian, but as Bro. Mose would say, "Is the fruit produced good or rotten?" My heart genuinely goes out to those poor, misguided souls who would be a part of this, while my mind is angered beyond belief. I pray for them, that their eyes may be opened before it is too late for them, and then they MUST answer for their unrepentant crimes against God, to the Holy One Himself.

Russ said...

Thanks for the comments guys.


I agree Anne Lamott is guilty of murder, period. Should we go back to OT laws? I don't know, but I don't think so. It's not really up to me or Dr. Mohler how she should be dealt with. It is up to the government who is charged with bearing the sword and carrying out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. You can read into my comment that that is not the church's job, which is to bear witness to the Gospel. I believe Romans 13 is prescriptive of a Govt that does not usurp the authority of God. IOW, we do not have to obey any governmental decrees that oppose God's decrees. I believe our Govt is doing that in certain areas. The human life issue is one of those areas. That is my short and incoherent answer. You'll have to ask smarter guys than me for a better answer.

Right now, I disagree. I'm more theocratic than theonomic.

I agree. Thank God for your grandmothers example. What a blessing.

Josh Brisby said...


As one who is postmillennial but non-theonomic, I offer the following observations:

(1) I think it is good to work within the imperfect system of government that we have, such as having prison ministries, etc.

(2) In 1 Corinthians 5, it is somewhat interesting that Paul mentions nothing about capital punishment for the adulterer. Instead, he mentions that this person should be excommunicated. If theonomy in the strict hermeneutical application that many theonomists have were true, then why doesn't Paul mention this? One may say that, since they were in a majority pagan society, that God's Law wasn't applied. Granted. But if Paul had the kind of view of the OT Law that theonomists have, I still find it hard to believe that he wouldn't have mentioned it.

(3) Having said that, I can still affirm (along with Vern Poythress and G.I. Williamson) that I think the principle of theonomy is good--namely, that God's Law offers us principles of justice for society. It certainly isn't fair that in our system, a man gets five years or less for raping a woman. In my view, I think such a man should be capitally punished because he basically took the woman's soul and emotions and person. Double restitution for theft also makes much sense. What about capital sanctions for adultery? I'm not sure. What if the spouse who committed adultery is repentant?

(4) If theonomy was what God expected, how would we work it out? Even Bahnsen himself had his doubts about capital punishment for idolatry. How far would we take this? What would it look like?

(5) Theonomists seem to think that their system offers ethical consistency. But in reality, they are back in the same boat as before, because theonomists differ with each other on how to apply certain case laws. For example, Gary North thinks that we should still use stoning. R.J. Rushdoony even thought that the dietary restrictions should still be around (as does Vic Lockman). Some theonomists do not believe that Sabbath-breaking should be a crime, and others do. Some think you shouldn't sow two kinds of seed together (Lockman) and others believe it is permissible (North). Some think idolatry should not be a crime (at least Bahnsen had his doubts here), and others think it should. So it seems that theonomy does not offer us an objective ethical system. I asked postmillennialist Keith Mathison about this, and he said that this is one of the reasons he cannot embrace theonomy.

(6) How would theonomy deal with things like the penal sanctions for speed limit laws? It seems to me that fines are good justice for this. But would theonomy say, claiming that it was using the principles of God's Word, that someone who was speeding should be capitally punished because they were putting someone's life in danger, and hence guilty of possible murder? I'm just thinking outloud here as well.

(7) Tah-tah for now. I'd love to hear from you brothers for some good iron sharpening iron. :0)

In Christ,
Josh Brisby

Russ said...


Well, as I am not prepared to discuss Theonomy, thanks for the very thought out points. I think I agree with each one,so you won't find much iron to sharpen with me!

As far as God's law offering principles of justice, yes sir! Otherwise, our laws are completely arbitrary. A study of "Lex Rex" by Rutherford would be helpful on this I believe.


Josh Brisby said...

Brother Russ,

Thank you for the good suggestion. I found Rutherford's Lex Rex online after you mentioned it and saved it to my favorites. It looks like a good and rich read!

In Christ,
Josh Brisby

BJ said...

I was merely joking with the Theonomy comment, and at this time I am not eqiup to debate the view. I am currently reading three books on the view. The first is "Christian Reconstruction" by North and DeMar, the second is a small paperback by Gentry, and last but not least is "By this Standard"(Bahnsen).

However, North does mention that Theonomist are merely "tough-minded" Van Tilians, and since I consider myself Van Tilianiannistic
I thought I might need to read up. Of course North and others are also Post-Mil, and Partial Perterist like me. The only distinctives that they are and I am not is infant baptism and theonomy.

Josh...what do you think about this thought....

R.C. Sproul admitted once that Van Til created the greatest crew of worldview destroyers the Western world has ever seen. However he was concerned about what the Presupper would replace it with when they got through with the worldview. This was a thought I have been thinking about recently. As Presuppers, that happen to be Post-Mills, what do we replace a fallen worldview with? I think R.J., Bahnsen, North, DeMar and others, although they may have some disagreements, are on the right track. Is it really fair to point out that just because Theonomist are in disagreement with somethings that we should just dismiss it? I mean Presuppers dont agree with each other on certain things i,e...Schaffer, Bahnsen, Frame, etc... So should we throw Presup. out the window as a Christian Philosophy and Apologetic? No! I think that what I have read so far is nothing more than these men (The Theonomist)that came out of the VanTilian tradition standing on his shoulders (Van Til's) and trying to see a bit further, or as we might say "being more consistent." Just as Van til stood on the shoulders of Kuyper, Calvin, and others to give us perhaps the greatest starting point for Christian Philosophy and Theology, "The myth of neutrality."

BJ said...

BTW Josh,
Do you remeber telling me, when you were here, that you would be O.K. with me if I became A partail Preterist.....and even a Theonomist.....and certainly a Post-Mill, but if I stooped to infant Baptism you would be really upset? Do you remember that conversation? Well...there are only two of Bahnsen's views I dont currentl hold to yet...Theonomy and Baby Baptism....Just in case you were keeping count.:)

Josh Brisby said...

Brother B.J.,

Thanks for the good thoughts. I of course do not disagree necessarily. As mentioned, though, what concerns me about the popular expression of theonomy is what I think is a rigid hermeneutic which does not take into account redemptive-historical fulfillments (although Bahnsen et al gave lip service to saying that they do). So, as I mentioned, I don't have problems with the *principle* of theonomy--that is, that God's Law offers us principles of justice for modern-day societies; I just have a problem with the *application* of that idea. As a non-theonomist, and a presup, I can (and I believe I do) replace the unbelieving worldviews with something--and I don't have to be a theonomist to do it. I replace it with Reformed Christian theism. (On a side note--I'm surprised Sproul would even be concerned what presuppers would replace the critiqued worldviews with--Van Til affirmed countless times that we do an internal critique of the unbeliever's worldview and then set up Christian theism in its place--and he always said that you can't beat something with nothing. This again goes to show that Sproul doesn't even have an elementary understanding of Van Til--not meaning to sound disrespectful toward Sproul.)

I have read all the books you mentioned above. Were you mentioning God's Law In the Modern World by Gentry? That's a good starter.

I would suggest reading G.I. Williamson's short article "Some Thoughts On Theonomy", as well as various sections in Very Poythress' The Shadow of Christ In the Law of Moses. I know Bahnsen responds to Poythress in his No Other Standard, but I think Bahnsen is quite inconsistent at points. (Gasp!) We can discuss these over the phone if you wish sometime.

I do remember the conversation you spoke of, and I think I can still say "fine" that you're a partial preterist and "fine" if you become a theonomist. And even in another sense, I can say "fine" to our amillennial brothers because I don't think as a postmil that the gospel will conquer during our lifetime. In other words, there are things that are closer to the center of my web of beliefs, and postmillennialism is further from the center than the more important ones, I believe. But even if someone believes in theonomy and partial preterism, I think there can be some consequences, as there are with all wrong ideas. :0) (I meant that humbly.) I'm sure I hold to some wrong ideas too--I wish someone would tell me what they were! :0)

Well, I've blabbed enough for this entry, so I'll take off for now. Peace out Hunter.

In Christ,

Christina Meyers said...

Okay... so Here I am trying to get into this blogging thing! Perhaps... I'm realizing I'm completely out of my league! I read all these comments... had to even look up half the words!! Do you ever just say things simple? For those of simple minds? HA HA :)
Love to you guys!

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