Biblical Law and Apostasy

[…] in my book, I said that I was in part answering some questions I felt previous writers had left undefined. Adams seems to suggest, however, that I have left Theonomy behind and was perhaps playing a bit loose with the facts on this. He says that theonomic writers did answer the questions in the past; I just didn’t like their answers. He argues, then, that I did not really write an introduction to Theonomy, but a “very substantial revi­sion of it.”[2]

I know this is the perception of some, so it is worth a brief comment, but I do not know how he arrived at there being answers to the questions I felt were either unaddressed or inadequately addressed. For example, I can find precious little exegetical com­mentary from the most prominent theonomists on the [death penalty for] apostasy law of Deuteronomy 17. Rushdoony covers it, but almost seem­ingly in passing. In his commentary on Deuteronomy, he dedicates a grand total of three and a half pages to Deuteronomy 17:1–7, and half of the first page is taken up just printing the passage. When he arrives at the meaning of the verse, he says the subject is about treason. He does eventually admit the word “apostasy,” but seems to suggest that by this he only means radical revolutionar­ies. Before he moves on to the aspect of witnesses and due pro­cess, he spends a total of about a page and a half on treason and apostasy. He gives even less treatment in the first volume of his Institutes of Biblical Law (p. 66), and seems to arrive at a primitive conclusion: this is treason to God and deserves the death penalty. These treatments are hardly adequate, let alone definitive. I say they are barely even helpful.

They are more helpful at least than Bahnsen, however, who never provided any exegesis of the passage (we have already seen his passing comments in a previous chapter, where he concluded he was undecided on the passage). As we have labored to show above, Bahnsen’s big problem was that he never clarified what dis­continuities there are exactly, not that he denied there was discon­tinuity. Granted, while I find several points of critique in his work, where he actually drew the lines of discontinuity is not one of them because he never drew it, even though he spoke of it. He never nailed this line down exegetically, and his broad-brush strokes about continuity or discontinuity (depending on the paragraph) leave us with only an unresolved tension in his body of work.

North, also, provided no commentary at all, though it was because he did not see economic policy there.

So, which major writer in these schools provides the definitive exegesis and definitions? My point stands. . . .

An Abiding Definition for Theonomy: “Solus Bahnsenus” just won’t do…. by Joel McDurmon

If Theonomy/Christian Reconstruction is to succeed, we are going to need actual answers to these kind of questions.

Answers that will be repeated across the media — a hostile media, BTW — shouted from the hilltops, and pounded into lecterns.

We can’t just sit here with Rushdoony, Bashan, and North. More is needed.

McDurmon is at least wrestling with the issues, with published books you can buy from Amazon, with his name on it.

Bojidar Marinov has a CD and a book out there – and tons of articles (see the menu of this website to download!), but he’s primarily a (fiercely intelligent) missionary, not a theologian.

(I think he made the right choice, BTW: we have enough thinkers, we need more doers.

A few more doers courtesy of Chalcedon here and here.)

Our disunity has occurred for the same reasons disunity has always plagued the church throughout history, but it is magnified in our circle because the circle was small to begin with, and because it was at heart always a puritan movement. Puritan movements always face the risk of purifying the church until you’re the only one left in it. We have done this well.

An Abiding Definition for Theonomy: “Solus Bahnsenus” just won’t do…. by Joel McDurmon


I just want a stable, predictable, just legal system that at least provides some approximation of justice, which is not defined as “whatever Our Betters want.”

I am not so interested in “church purity” as commonly understood, as I care very little about official organizations, institutions, or bureaucracies. A vast network of home and small-scale churches, let by a host of mutually supportive men and women, all filled and led by the Holy Spirit is plenty enough for me.

(An interesting Chalcedon reflection on leadership is here. For their perspective on connecting Christians, go here.)

Well, I will recognize that the most godly of them can rise up to bishops, anointed by the Holy Spirit, and recognized as such by the majority of faithful pastors and laity. So there is a place for a widely recognized bishop for a city.

“Command and control”? Who cares about that? Either the man is proven by his works and his life, or rejected due to his works and his life. Mystical ceremonies and the power of religious guilds mean nothing to me.

No more than it meant anything to God, when He used the Romans to torch and shatter the bone-corrupt, filthy “temple” the pious, devout religious types were offering up to Him as His “home”.

Why on earth would He remain in the house of the people who despised and murdered His Son?

Why would He bless people who babble about “Jesus our King”, and point-blank refuse to do what their supposed King says?

Why should God care about how perfectly these rebels – then or now! – performed their magic rituals?


Let the pagan rip such filthy temples apart.

And let the pagans deal with those antichrist priests, too, just as they please.

As God did in Jerusalem then, may He do so now, across the world… and especially in the West.

In Christ’s Name, Amen.

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