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An Advantaged Disease, Indeed

I obey the quarantines and the social distancing measures.

I even recommend them, for now.

I remain distrustful about the media-fueled panic, mainly because I’m confident that the resulting economic devastation is going to be a good deal greater than anything the disease would have done.

The possibility that I am wrong is why I still back the quarantines and the lockdowns. I am not willing to have people die, because the media and the doctors may be hyping everything up.

But if this whole things turns into a dud by the end of April, I will be quite angry. And I will lay the blame for the coming recession/depression on the heads of the medical establishment and the media.

In that case, it will be obvious that the devastation of the coming hard times will kill more people than would the decision of just letting COVID-19 do what it pleases.

As you know, the coronavirus—if you catch it, and get very sick—is a terrible thing to go through and you may even die.  The virus and the fear of it are sorely testing our medical capacity in some places.  And the body count will get much worse this week, right before Easter.  The heroic efforts and sacrifice of many doctors, nurses, and volunteer civilians are all notable and praiseworthy.  Millions of Americans are pulling together.  We all know this.  But do you know the odds of any American getting this virus?  One would think that number is easily known or available.  It’s not. A lot of digging into various municipal data portals reveals, based on the population tested, that rates can vary from, at most, eight-tenths of a percent in New York City to two-one-hundredths of a percent in Phoenix. 

Did you know the chances of recovery from the coronavirus are about 98%—if you catch it?  Did you know there are models showing 50% of the population may have already had it, never knew they had it, and recovered?  Again, one would think this data would be widely available and reported.  It isn’t. What is presented widely are numbers and warnings that scare and frighten us, and we are now being conditioned to a lot of panic and speculation.  But part of the reason we are getting conditioned to a lot of panic is because of the wide range of speculation about other numbers we accept as our new fright-inducing reality, an increasingly confusing and frenzied set of numbers.  And the normalization of our panic is having dire consequences and augurs for even worse.

Our officials and media have warned us of 2 million deaths in the United States. Then 200,000 deaths. Then 100,000 to 240,000. This needs to stop. There have been a total of 68,000 coronavirus deaths worldwide. And we are told we will see, just in America, three to four times that number. Does that even pass the plausibility test?

Is it too much to ask for some perspective with numbers we do know about, numbers which have never shut down our country, much less a church or synagogue, much less entire industries; numbers which have never restricted travel or put this nation into one big frenzy? In any given month in America, we lose about 54,000 Americans to heart disease; 50,000 to cancer; 14,000 to asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema; 12,000 to stroke; 10,000 to Alzheimer’s; 7,000 to diabetes; 5,600 to drug overdoses; and 4,700 to influenza and pneumonia. Since February, in America, coronavirus: 9,500. Where is the sympathy for the victims and families of those other causes of death? The daily mortality count? The blaring headlines? The upending of the country? We hear almost nothing about them. Those deaths give us over 157,000 deaths a month. Given all that is being done about one cause of death, COVID-19, it turns out this is a very advantaged disease, indeed. And we will in time develop a vaccine for it, not to mention more and more good news coming in the short term about treatments from other extant medicines like hydroxychloroquine.


Yet the elites, from Bill Gates down, tell us we need a nationwide shutdown for 10 weeks or more. Others are pushing in that direction, too, putting pressure on various state and federal officials for even more coercion.  Perhaps such pushing has its merits in saving some lives, but it will likely take more, and will kill the heart and soul of our country, which is dependent on the economic engine of the rest of us. The consequences of what this country is putting itself through simply cannot be understated.  They are affecting the low-skilled and blue-collar workers the hardest.  And the solutions the federal and state governments have ordered for the problems they have created—from stimulus checks to loans to abatements and reprieves—are already causing bureaucratic confusion, claims of unfairness, delays, and pitting Americans against each other.  And now there is no end in sight for even more massive and unprecedented spending.

The president’s instincts to re-open this country as soon as possible are right. This country is not prepared for a worsening of all the other social harms and deaths brought on by an incredibly overwrought, self-induced, hysteria and panic that doesn’t parse.  It better be.  But remember with all the nonprofits, volunteer, and self-help communities organized to address these problems being shuttered and harmed, direly and financially, be prepared for massive social failure and more death.  This is what happens when sanity is at discount and hysteria reigns supreme.  This is what happens when societies get used to pandemonium.  As bad as the coronavirus is, and it is bad, unless we arrest the frenzy and panic mongering, we should be prepared for things worse than the virus.

An Advantaged Disease, Indeed by William J. Bennett & Seth Leibsohn

Some good news, though:

  • the economic devastation is smashing all the lower rungs of the media establishment right now;
  • in a year, it will tear apart the liberal bastion of academia, as parents simply will not be able to afford to pay for college (a.k.a. the political indoctrination of their children.)
    • Better plan on an online college, if you want something you can afford!
  • in a decade – maybe less – the busted budget will, indeed, bring in the Great Default and shatter the might and power of our only Established Lord and Master, the State.
  • homeschooling is going to do very well off of this disaster.

Another Cosmos Episode, Another Sermon from Pastor Tyson

Anthropomorphic Language

Tyson tells us that trees can exchange information and empathy. He suggests trees can know and have consciousness. He uses highly anthropomorphic language throughout this segment. This is not presented as a controversial idea, which it certainly is. Tyson doesn’t mention that this idea comes from a book written by a German forester, The Hidden Life of Trees. There’s also an older book with similar claims called The Secret Life of Plants. Smithsonian Magazine ran a fairly balanced article on this topic in 2018. A skeptical biologist the writer interviewed had this to say about it:

It’s so anthropomorphized that it’s really not helpful. The case is overstated and suffused with vitalism. Trees do not have will or intention. What worries me is that people find this so appealing that they immediately leap to faulty conclusions. Namely that trees are sentient beings like us.

It’s ironic that Tyson, who believes in the magical powers of natural selection, shows no skepticism about this idea. He believes that natural selection can create anything, even trees with consciousness.

A segment on bee communication similarly makes heavy use of anthropomorphisms. Tyson calls Karl von Frisch’s ground-breaking work with bees the “first contact” with another intelligent species. Both these segments attempt to demonstrate that we are not exceptional. See, bees and trees can talk and empathize with each other just like us, and bees even demonstrate the value of skepticism. If only Tyson and the writers of Cosmos would look in the mirror when they say that.

Saint Charles (No Kidding)

Eventually, Tyson gets to Saint Charles. No, we mean that literally. Tyson calls Darwin “the greatest spiritual teacher of the last 1000 years.” Never mind those backwards rubes, Christian saints Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi, Jewish Torah scholar Maimonides, and Muslim theologian Al Ghazali.  

Other notable statements in this episode include, “Life is an emergent property of chemistry. Science is an emergent property of life. Life can begin to know itself.” Also, “Darwin debunked the story of Adam and Eve. Humans are not the kings of life, created separately and charged with its management.” Finally, “Darwin worshiped nature.”

We prefer instead our own description: Darwin was the greatest teacher of materialism since the Atomists. Tyson shows the extent to which Darwinism is a religion, not empirical science. After all, if Darwinism is the all-encompassing worldview that the Cosmos writers and host believe it to be, then it will have to completely displace any worldviews that get in its way.

Another Cosmos Episode, Another Sermon from Pastor Tyson by Evolution News

Long ago — back when Liberals swore up-and-down about their Love of Free Speech — Atheists insisted that their beliefs were not religious in the slightest, but strictly materialistic and factual.

Of course, this was always a bald-faced lie.

However, with the ongoing disintegration of atheistic culture —

do you seriously think the Tolerant People care in the slightest about “empirical, objective reality” or “the results of repeated experiments over time” or “the laws of logic and physics”?

— it’s now time for our erstwhile Masters to grab some religious robes and pantheistic mumbo-jumbo to protect their fast-rotting legitimacy and authority and government paychecks from the Common Christian Trash.

Best to avoid these godless pastors, whether they are on the Fox Network, at the seminary, or at the head of the local congregation.

The Heathen Rage… in Vain

A nice Chalcedon article on Psalm 2 today… which is actually a repost from a 1997 article by James Nickel.

—<Quote begins>—

“The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” The plans and counsels of heathen cultures, vain and empty as they are, are against the Lord and His anointed one. In context, David was God’s anointed one (1 Sam. 16:1-13). The Hebrew word for anointed is mashiyach. It speaks of a consecrated person. In greater context, it points expressly to the Greater David, the Messiah (Christ) the Lord Jesus. The rage that David experienced was ultimately a rage against his Lord and his Christ (Ps. 110:1-2; cf. Mt. 22:42-45).

—<Quote ends>—

The Power Elite really, really

  • love to tell others what to do
  • hate being told what to do

They want to be little gods, having authority over others, and with none – not even their Maker – having authority over them.

Delusional fools.

—<Quote begins>—

Bands are fetters or halters; restraints used on horses in order to control them. Cords are ropes of control. The kings and rulers of the nations are saying, “Let us fling off the controls of God!” The prophet Jeremiah defines the bands of restraint as the way of the Lord; the judgments (laws) of God (Jer. 5:5). To rebellious nations, the laws of God are anathema. They cast away:

  • God’s law for marriage and sex (monogamy and sex for the marriage bed only).
    God’s law for the economy (just weights and measures).
    God’s law for justice (restitution and death penalty for murder).
    God’s law for welfare (he that does not work shall not eat).
    God’s law for the education of children (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge).

—<Quote ends>—

Just two addendums:

  • “Just weights and measures” include a solid commodity currency, not based on mere paper or promises, and not to be destroyed – swiftly or slowly – to better protect the ability of the State and the Major Banks to get what they want.
  • Parents, not the State, is to rear and teach the children.

—<Quote begins>—

Rebellious nations do not want God’s restraints. The result? Death. “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36). They would rather die prematurely from AIDS or venereal disease than submit to God’s law. They would rather go down the tube of economic disaster than submit to God’s law. They would rather let murderers and other criminals walk the streets free to commit more crimes than submit to God’s law. They would rather watch their children smolder on the coals of Moloch than submit to God’s law. God, the Lord of the nations, responds to this testimony.

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.” His first response is that He sits in the heavens. The raging of the nations does not catch Him by surprise for He has sovereignly decreed it. Not only does He sit, He laughs! (cf. Ps. 37:12-13; 59:1-8). He derides or scoffs (makes fun) at the evil plans and schemes of the heathen. His second response is that He will speak to them in His wrath. Christ is the word of God (Jn. 1:1-14). The word of God is like a sharp sword that smites the nations (Heb. 4:12; Rev. 19:11-16).

How long will God suffer the nations before He speaks to them in His wrath in time and on earth? How long did He suffer Sodom and Gomorrah with its rampant homosexuality, arrogance, abundant food, careless ease, and blind eye toward the poor and needy (Ez. 16:49)? In time, He smote these cities with fire and brimstone. How long did He suffer ancient Babylon when it captured God’s people and mocked the vessels of the holy temple? In time, God wrote on a wall and smote the city with the armies of Cyrus. Note that the remnant returned to their homeland at the command of Cyrus. How long did He suffer national Israel when it rejected the Messiah and persecuted the saints? In time, God sent Roman armies and rivers of blood flowed in the streets of Jerusalem. Note that their rejection brought salvation to the nations (Rom. 11:11). How long did He suffer Rome with the blood of Christian martyrs on its hands? In time, God sent a few thousand barbarians who walked over a culture that had lost all will to resist and survive. Note, the barbarians, ancestors of Western civilization, eventually converted to Christianity. How long did He suffer France with its massacre of the Huguenots, total hatred of Christianity, and mass abortions? In time, God sent a ravaging blood bath called the French Revolution. How long did He suffer the atheistic regime of Communist Russia? Only 70 years. How long will He suffer us? Isaiah 26:9, “For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”

God will trouble or terrify the nations in His fury. As He once terrified a godless Nebuchadnessar with a dream, He will also terrify the nations that reject His law.

—<Quote ends>—

Despite watching

  • the destruction of European power
    • “with a special focus on Germany”
  • the destruction of Japanese power
  • the destruction of Soviet power

Our Betters remain confident that God will never judge the West, regardless of how much contempt they throw in God’s face.

Well, maybe less confident than they were before, “due to recent events.” But still, basically confident.


You know, if you watch the Western-Secualrist-Darwinian Tower of Babel closely, you can already see it swaying, and the cracks in the foundation spreading…

—<Quote begins>—

The Church as Culprit

The nations follow the church. The reason why the nations are in a mess is because the church is in a mess (2 Chr. 15:1-6). That is why God’s first order of business is to “purify the sons of Levi” that their offerings might be pleasant unto the Lord (Mal. 3; 1 Pet. 4:17). He will judge the spirit of disunity, for the unity of God’s people provides the basis for the world to believe in the apostleship of Jesus (Jn. 17:21; Heb. 3:1). He will send a delusion upon those who disregard and despise sound doctrine in favor of “manifestations of the Spirit” (2 Thes. 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). He will either clean up or dispose of church leaders so that the saints will be “equipped for service” in order to bring about the “unity of the faith” (Eph. 4:11-13).

—<Quote ends>—

The Power Elite will not the the first to be judged.

The pastors and priests who lied about the nature of God, and claimed that God would NEVER act, will be the first to be judged.

After all, it’s their lies that gave the Ruling Class the confidence they needed to despise God in the first place!

“Laws that aren’t enforced do not exist.
And those who hand out such powerless laws can be ignored… with laughter.”

The problem is, God’s laws ARE ENFORCED.

Partially but quite painfully, in time and on earth:
and definitely after the resurrection, before the Throne of God.

The men who claimed otherwise, the Professional Christians — preachers and theologians, generally — are going to get punished more harshly than the gullible “ruling class” fools who so eagerly lapped up their lies.

These lawless God-haters propped up a clown idol, some Santa Claus, and claimed that this idol of their imagination was the Creator, Redeemer, and Judge of Heaven and Earth.

No, that clown idol of churchly imaginations is a fake.

And a lot of people are going to die, and go to hell, and the lake of fire, because of these corrupt priests and pastors and theologians.

God sees, and God will act against His core enemies first, and then deal with the minor league failures, the “kings of the earth”.

On Cherem and Justice II

If you’re talking about a restoration of God’s Law — as opposed to the Law grounded in the will of (certain) Men — then you will need to address the Cherem principle, one day or another.

I will be making two huge excerpts:

Note that — unlike the first post — I am breaking up my quote of McDurmon’s article into several parts, to insert my own commentary.

—-<Quote Begin>—

When did cherem jurisdiction change?

To begin his critical questions, Selbrede says, “We must ask, When, precisely, did cherem jurisdiction change? Christ’s conception? Death? Ascension? When Christ executed His priestly office for us? What precisely happened between that point and 70 A.D.? Was cherem unenforceable in Canaan when God’s Spirit departed the temple twice?”[3]  He goes on to pose the real heart of his challenge on this point: Zechariah 14:11 says cherem will have a terminus. When this verse is fulfilled, therefore, means a lot.

To begin with, the language of Selbrede’s question could be tightened up. He says this verse speaks of a “termination of cherem enforcement.” The verse goes beyond speaking of mere “enforcement,” however. It speaks of no more existence of cherem, at least within a particular setting. The Hebrew here is not an exact one-to-one science, but it is clear enough that it says something to the effect of, “cherem will not occur again,” etc. The emphasis here is on a final end: “no more,” “never again,” “not ever.” These two concepts of the end of enforcement and the end of existence could possibly mean the same thing, depending on what we mean by enforcement. If by “enforcement” we mean the existence of a jurisdiction altogether, then the terms are virtually synonymous, and Selbrede and I would be on the same page here. The term enforcement, however, can also refer to the practicality of enforcing, a practical need to enforce, or the willingness to enforce, and these are all entirely different matters not necessarily intended by this text. Yet this latter view seems to be the direction Selbrede leans.

Selbrede suggests that seeing a first-century fulfillment of this passage causes all kinds of exegetical nightmares (though to be fair he sees it causes problems for all eschatological positions), and warns that we do not want to be caught letting the tail wag the dog here. For his part, he suggests taking Old Princeton theologian B. B. Warfield’s distinct view of the millennium and eschatology so that it “dovetails nicely.” In my view, however, neither of these suggestions have as much solidity as he may like. As far as Warfield dovetailing, this requires that we look near the end of his view of the millennium, when the world is practically Christianized and there is no future threat of a rebellion or apostasy, etc., and everything will be smooth sailing until Christ returns. In this golden setting, there will be no need for cherem enforcement, practically speaking, even while the law remained on the books. Thus, the view relies on a practical or pragmatic interpretation of the terminus of cherem enforcement. I do not think this view squares with what the text says. I do not think it is talking about the practical need for cherem; I think it is speaking of the judicial end of cherem.

The “practical end” view would mean that judicially cherem still applied. This would mean that in a Warfield’s future world of billions of Christians, even if a single one still apostatized, blasphemed, falsely prophesied, etc., that person would still be liable for the cherem death penalty. So this view only works in a world in which it is absolutely certain there will never be another single cherem crime, and this would certainly take a fresh revelation from God. Judicially, otherwise, the law must remain on the books until Christ returns (in their view).

Further, we also all know that in that view, there is still a heavenly cherem that remains. In my view also, the heavenly judgment remains, for the heavenly throne room of God remains eternally, and every man must give an account at this final judgment. The final judgment, however you view it, is a cherem/anathema judgment. It is the time when even those who have spent their entire lives outside of the covenant of grace are now brought across the threshold of God’s most holy place and must at that point be judged in his presence. Thus, the text is not speaking of an absolute abolition of cherem altogether.

Cherem only applies within the boundaries of God’s covenants. All men are in covenant with Adam. Only believers are in the New Covenant with Christ. Only these survive the final cherem judgment with their most holy faith. The cherem spoken of in Zechariah was the shadow of this heavenly cherem, and was given during the Old Covenant. The end of cherem in Zechariah is the end of the earthly cherem, the shadow. Anyone within that Old Covenant who transgressed a relevant law could be liable to the earthly cherem institution. The Jerusalem spoken of in Zechariah, in which God is Lord over all, is the New Covenant, which includes only believers. By definition, therefore, there is no more cherem in it. This is what we see in Revelation 21–22 also, including 22:3 where, incidentally, we see Zechariah 14:11 quoted. But this same picture of the church still includes a world in which there are dogs, liars, and infidels outside the gates. This is clearly a picture of the New Covenant era. Inside the church, there is no curse, and outside the bounds of God’s covenant, there never was an earthly cherem law to begin with (else, we would see a biblical mandate to combine evangelism and cherem, which would be no different in practice than Islamic jihad, killing those who refuse to convert). Instead, God has created a New Jerusalem in this world in which there is no more cherem, and what cherem remains will be the final judgment for every man.

—-<Quote Ends>—

We are not Muslims.

It is important to understand why we are not Muslims.

Note that the Muslims do have a legal code, Sharia, and that legal code is going to be around long after today’s entirely arbitrary secularist legal code are rendered into complete meaninglessness, boiled down to just some version of:

“Powerful men telling the commoner trash what they may or may not do, regardless of what Our Betters may or may not have said earlier, and regardless of whether our commands have any connection with reality: genetic, economic, or physical.”

“We make reality with our words.”

No, men – even politically connected, very wealthy, and highly intelligent men – are not God.


Powerful Men don’t shape reality with their mere words, even if the lawyers and the judges and the media and the politicians and the soldiers and the police all agree that they do.

The fact that secular law is unpredictable and arbitrary makes their law worthless: Islamic law, however oppressive and tyrannical, is quite predictable and has a far stronger connection to reality than the secularist do!

(And centuries of development too: a long history of judicial application and experience matters!)

If we are not all going to be run by some version of Sharia or the arbitrary word of some Party-backed secularist strongman, we will need to master the Law of Moses, as modified by Jesus Christ.

This will take work. And it will take (immediately) personal, familial, church, and (in time) neighbourhood, regional, and national respect for and obedience to God.

Redemption, compassion, prosperity, liberty does not start at the throne of some mighty man: it starts at the throne of God, set in our hearts.

And it expands by our words and our examples and our actions. When we think we are being watched, and when we think no one is watching.

(For there are always at least one pair of eyes,
watching all that we do.)

—-<Quote Begin>—

I do agree with Martin that there are exegetical stresses when it comes to interpreting Zechariah 12–14. We have already covered  some  of  these  in  our  previous  chapter  on  prophecy  and eschatology. Warfield’s attempt does not solve the problem in my opinion. A preterist view does. The final earthly cherem, under the Mosaic Covenant, came with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The kingdom was taken from them and given to a spiritual Jerusalem, bearing the fruit of God’s kingdom (Matt. 21:43). In this New Jerusalem, there is no more cherem. With the change in the nature of the temple, land, priesthood, etc., as we have said, there also is no more earthly cherem jurisdiction. These things are all perfectly consistent, and depend upon a definitive, judicial view of the terminus of cherem, not a pragmatic view that is not even suggested in the text to begin with.

When the change of jurisdiction took place “precisely” is of less concern than one may think. We have seen Gary North argue earlier that, “This resurrection of saints [Matt. 27:50–53] revealed a definitive break with the Old Covenant’s legal order, including its sanctions.” There is certainly something to this point as a definitive announcement. But New Testament definitive announcements can be difficult to render into definitive historical realities. When Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), what exactly was finished? Whatever it was, it was finished on the cross, but before his actual death, and certainly before his resurrection, ascension, AD 70, and more. But it was “finished.” Yet we also read in Hebrew 8:13 that the Old Covenant was ready to pass away—meaning, for all of its tottering, fleeting “last days,” it had not quite passed away yet at that time. I join the preterist interpreters as seeing this as being completed in AD 70, which was the final end to the Old Covenant. Yet, John 19:30 tells us that at least part of the Old Covenant had already ended on the cross when Christ said it did.

I do not intend to hash out when precisely amidst all of this cherem jurisdiction ended, if it did end with some particular detail before AD 70. I stand certain, though, that by AD 70, it certainly ended, for that is the final stop for all the Old Covenant distinctives, and the Mosaic cherem law was definitely an Old Covenant distinctive.

—<Quote Ends>—

We will have to eventually work out when the cherem jurisdiction ended.

We do know that the Old Covenant cherem principle, tied to seed and land, was concluded with the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70.

—<Quote Begins>—

Cherem and the Land

Selbrede asks of the relationship between the Old Covenant cherem doctrine and the Holy Land. This is also related to a point I made in The Bounds of Love regarding the land vomiting out defiled inhabitants; in the New Testament, Jesus himself is the one said to do the vomiting, not the Land. It seems somewhat suspect, Martin suggests, first, because if cherem only applied in the Land, then anyone guilty of a cherem crime could evade punishment by simply stepping one foot outside of the boundary. I do not see the force in this criticism at all, for this applies to all earthly jurisdiction and enforcement of all criminal law in all of history. Anyone indicted for a crime can, if they think they can get away with it, run, and many do. Depending on what jurisdictions and what crimes we are talking about, fleeing may be very effective. In the older days of the United States, for example, it was often the case that a criminal wanted in one state could simply hit the road and live in another. That is more difficult today with the vast centralization and information sharing of law enforcement agencies, but even now people live with outstanding warrants all the time. Of course, you can step up jurisdiction to the international scale as well. How many classic songs or movies feature people fleeing to Mexico to evade American police, or vice versa to escape the Federales? Certainly there is an element of God’s providence in all of this as well. For example, God specially decreed the cherem of the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15), and Saul is said to have carried it out to the last person except for the King (which Samuel killed). Yet we later find out there are stray Amalekites who obviously escaped. Haman is one, as we saw above. Likewise, the young man who falsely took credit for Saul’s death was an Amalekite. David killed him in 2 Samuel 1. Both of these Amalekites were cherem, yet both escaped the fate of the cherem war. Neither, however, escaped their fate in God’s providence.

The flaw of this criticism should have grown even more apparent when he expanded it to the law for apostate cities. “If you know your city is being indicted for the offense of Deut. 13:12–16, it makes sense to get out of dodge,” he says.[4] The defeater for that challenge is here: this is exactly what Jesus told his disciples to do! We would all agree that the judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70 was in fact a cherem judgment, and there is probably very little debate that it was an instance of Deuteronomy 13:12–16 imposed by God himself. Here is Jesus’ advice for his followers when that judgment came:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written (Luke 21:20–22).

Did this invalidate the cherem law? Not at all. Jesus was affirming that judgment could be escaped by physical removal.

Selbrede adds another point suggesting that the New Testament does not end earthly cherem jurisdiction, but rather expands it to the whole world (for example, citing Romans 4:13 and Psalm 87). The New Jerusalem, however, is not global in the sense that the whole world is now the Holy Land. Holiness of the actual land or ground in Scripture is always typological or temporary, pointing to fulfillment in the church.

Take a couple of analogous examples often neglected. When Moses encounters the burning bush, he is told to take off his shoes because he is on holy ground (Ex. 3:5). He was in Horeb, near Sinai, at the time. This was not part of the Holy Land. Yet the land at that moment was holy because God’s temporary presence was there. I am going to go out on a limb here and say that when God left, Moses put his shoes back on. A similar episode occurs in, or at least right by, the Promised Land, yet still demands a temporary change. When Joshua encounters the “Captain of the Host of the Lord,” generally regarded as a theophany, if not Christ himself, he is instructed to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground (Josh. 5:13–15). Why was this the case? Was it the nature of the Holy Land itself? Did the Israelites never wear shoes then? Of course not. This was special, because God had manifested himself in that place.

So, we can see there is something clearly special about the presence of God in the land. The special holiness of the land was due to the fact that God’s presence was there. Granted, there were degrees of this holiness expressed and different physical and moral boundaries related to them, but the presence is the key. Likewise, we saw earlier that the Israelites after captivity understood this themselves. They decline to enforce certain cherem death penalties during the second temple era, when the presence of God was not in the temple.

Yet Selbrede is right that the future Zion will be transnational. Indeed! The church is the fulfillment of this. The church is now the temple and the dwelling place of God. There is no way to deduce a geographical applicability argument for cherem death penalties from this idea. The church is not a place, but a people. Anathema laws apply universally in the church: there can be excommunications. To apply physical cherem death penalties universally would be to call to implement executions of all false worship throughout the world. As we discussed with Deuteronomy 13 and 17 earlier, there is no escape from this conclusion. Of course, the premise is wrong to begin with. We are not called to kill infidels, apostates, blasphemers, and sabbath breakers, certainly not universally, as a mission, and as a foreign policy.

—<Quote Ends>—

“We are not Muslims.”

“Why not?”

“Because the Law was a ministry of death: Christ came to begin a ministry of life and repentance and forgiveness and restoration.”

“So the Law  has been repealed!”

“No. The first table of the Law – against blasphemy, rebellious children, etc – is in force, but is not to be enforced by the sword: excommunication and shunning is sufficient. The second table of the Law – against murder, theft, etc – is still to be enforced by the sword if need be.”

“So, no pious tyranny.”

“Secularist tyrannies are murderous, delusional and demonic enough: no need for Christians to oppress the masses as well. But remember, the first table of the law has not been annulled, but – like the second table – will be enforced by God Himself at the Last Judgement.”

That’s why we are not Muslims?”

“Muslims are here to enforce their definition of the Law, with swords and submission and subjugation of the kafer filth under the heel of the righteous. Christians are here to heal the world, to lead it to repentance, blessings, life, prosperity, liberty, peace.”

—<Quote Begins>—

The purpose of temporal judgment

These next two points from Selbrede are heard frequently coming from critics within the circles that take seriously the application of God’s law to the civil realm. They are summarized some- thing like this: “McDurmon’s theory takes away the real force of civil government!” The idea is that by removing several of the civil government punishments for religious crimes, these proponents imagine it then impossible to have a Christian nation or a godly nation. Such a nation, in their view, must absolutely be able to remove rivals by executing blasphemers, adulterers, etc. I certainly do not want to put these words in Selbrede’s mouth, but since the general thrust of these two points of his is very close to that of the people also promoting these views, I find it convenient to address them both together.

Selbrede argues from Isaiah 26:9–10 that the purpose of temporal judgment is in part to instruct the world in righteousness. If we do not impose these judgments, we are warned, the wicked will not change their ways. Selbrede formulates his argument: “Those who defend the view that God relocated jurisdiction from ‘ judgments in the earth’ to ‘ judgments in heaven’ must explain how it is that Isa. 26:9–10 is now obsolete.”

Surely, this is not very thoroughly thought out. If we are to say that my view of the change in cherem jurisdiction renders Isaiah 26:9–10 obsolete, then any change in any law or judgment any- where would fall under the same charge. This occurs on multiple levels. For example, we all agree than the ceremonial law is now rendered obsolete. Yet there were death penalties associated with certain boundaries of the sacrificial, priestly, and temple system that even Bahnsen, as we have seen, considered abrogated. How do these abrogations not fall under Selbrede’s censure also? R. J. Rushdoony, for example, believed the death penalty for sabbath breaking is abrogated in the New Testament era. Selbrede agrees on this law. Why, then, does this change in temporal judgments not also render Isaiah 26:9–10 “obsolete”?

We can go yet one more step and remember there was a time when God had not yet given any laws for civil punishments. It is generally understood and agreed upon that civil government punishments entered with Noah and the death penalty for murder (Gen. 9:5–6). Before this time, God allowed a system so radical that there was not even a jurisdiction to punish a murderer. In fact, when the murderer, Cain, feared revenge from other men, God placed a mark upon him to prevent temporal punishment from coming upon him. This act had its own didactic effects: Cain’s grandson Lamech decided he could commit even more evil and get away with it even more (Gen. 4:13–15; 23–24)! These negative didactic results, however, do not in themselves prove that God cannot reveal changes in temporal punishments, or that the purpose of them is substantially altered in general.

In any of these cases, while details can change, and applications can change, and even jurisdictions can change, the main purposes of civil punishment remain the same: to remove evil, to instruct in and promote good behavior, etc.

God is sovereign over how and when he reveals temporal, civil punishments. He can add, and he can take away. If anything, the removal of cherem jurisdiction in the New Testament makes more sense than many of these others. As we have explained, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to capture, train, and retain the hearts of God’s people. That is the very core of the New Covenant. The more this succeeds in human history, the more spiritual insight inspires world thought and government, the less civil punishment we will need.

This is all the more true when it comes to religious belief: in the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit is unleashed and is sufficient. There is no need to kill infidels of any sort. This change makes more sense with progressive revelation than other changes we have seen. Further, we can add that even if we remove all civil judgment in the earth, that does not mean his judgments in general are removed. The church, the body of Christ, proclaims the truth of his word, and thus his judgments as well. This is the primary way the world will “learn righteousness.”

—<Quote Ends>—

The Power of the Word, not the Power of the Sword.

Mercy and truth from the heart, not a badge and a gun and pious (or scientific, or ideological, or nationalist/tribal) babble.

—<Quote Begins>—

A final note on this point: the ultimate thrust of the “sons of Belial” angle is that when a nation does not defend its religious foundations with death penalties, then it is doomed to some kind of cultural suicide. I find it hard to take seriously anyone who has read the law, and has read the history of Old Testament Israel, and yet thinks incorporating such laws today would save our civilizations. Israel had these laws on their books the whole time. Yes, there were times of Reformation, but anytime and every time the people’s hearts strayed, they lost it all again and the nation was overrun with every imaginable child of Belial. In every such case, the laws were no protection. The laws were only coincidental when the people’s hearts changed to begin with. Well, this is the whole difference between the Old and New Covenants. With the Holy Spirit unleashed, when the day comes that hearts and minds are changed enough that a majority may possibly assent to laws “protecting” Christian doctrines, etc., the truth is that we will not need them. If we cannot achieve such a supermajority, then the laws will help us no more than they helped in corrupt ancient Israel. If the idea is rather that an insistent minority of Christians can somehow achieve power and then lead a national reform with such death penalties, then we are in for a bloodletting. If they think they will only need political power and the overhanging threat of deadly punishment, what kind of future success do you see for such a national pressure-cooker?

It is interesting that this series of moral and intellectual pressures is reflected in observations made by R. J. Rushdoony, with whom I am nevertheless in disagreement on some of the death penalties, it would seem. Recognizing that the foundations of society may be subverted and at war with the views of a humanistic majority, he wrote,

What, then, must Christians do? Some ask, are we to work for the execution of all idolaters in our midst today? The question presupposes either stupidity, or malice, or both. It is our duty to evangelize, to work for the conversion of men and nations to Christ as Lord and Savior. At the same time, as part of our evangelism, we witness to the meaning of covenant law, and, in our own personal dealings, we live by it: we practice the tithe, restitution, debt-free living, and much, much more. Only as God’s law is made the practice of men can it become the practice of nations. Only those laws are enforceable which virtually all men are already enforcing in their own lives, so that the state’s law affects a minuscule minority.[7]

This is the practical reality: either we are stupid and/or malicious, or we do not really need those penalties. When the day comes that most are already enforcing them through self-government, only a tiny minority would be affected—in which case, I would argue, we still would not need them.

Finally, it is interesting also that Rushdoony’s comment suggest that the law would apply to “all idolators”—not just terrorists and vicious revolutionaries. I agree. I agree that we also do not practically need them. I just happen to believe also that God’s rev- elation for the New Covenant takes them away altogether.

—<Quote Ends>—

The point bears repeating, once more with feeling:

“…the ultimate thrust of the “sons of Belial” angle is that when a nation does not defend its religious foundations with death penalties, then it is doomed to some kind of cultural suicide. I find it hard to take seriously anyone who has read the law, and has read the history of Old Testament Israel, and yet thinks incorporating such laws today would save our civilizations.”

Old Testament Israel is an historical example of the inability of the Law to save a civilization.

The Law brings death: Grace from the Holy Spirit brings repentance, salvation, life.

This does not void the Law, or weaken it’s power or effect in the slightest.

  • Murder is still to be punished by the State… and, in time, before God’s throne. And of course, the unrepentant murderer is to be tossed out of the church, the Body of Christ.
  • Blasphemy is not to be punished by the State, but will be punished before God’s throne. And the blasphemer is to be tossed out of the Body of Christ as well, on this world.

We Christians simply realize that the Law does not save.

Faith in Jesus Christ saves.

Faith is manifested by His followers naturally obeying the Law, now inscribed in our hearts, without the need of State compulsion. The unrestrained power of the Holy Spirit in our heart and mind and soul is sufficient.

On Cherem and Justice I

If you’re talking about a restoration of God’s Law — as opposed to the Law grounded in the will of (certain) Men — then you will need to address the Cherem principle, one day or another.

I will be making two huge excerpts:

—<Quote Begins>—

The principle of cherem (KHE-rum) is perhaps the most significant aspect of discontinuity for our discussion. It is here, precisely, where general statements about continuity lead to many raised eye- brows: do you mean all those death penalties would be brought back? For blasphemy? For apostasy? For idolatry? For adultery? Ironically, even our best past authors have provided little direct discussion of modern application of these penalties, so this section of this book may in fact be its most important contribution.

Cherem means “devoted” in the sense of devoted wholly unto the Lord. In the instances most relevant to our discussion, it means specially devoted to destruction. To be devoted unto the Lord in this sense means to be separated from holiness of the Holy Land and immediately into God’s holy presence for judgment. This can refer to objects such as animals being devoted to the Lord for sacrifice and given to the priests as their food and inheritance, but even here the devoted animal was to be sacrificed. This means its purpose was primarily as a substitutionary recipient of God’s wrath. When in the context of a punishment for a crime against God’s holiness (idolatry, paganism, etc.), it meant to be put under the curse of immediate death. For this reason, cherem is often referred to as “the ban” or, in its verb form, as a command to “utterly destroy” or “devote to destruction” the person or objects.

Cherem is peculiar to the Old Testament administration because it functioned only in the context where God’s presence was in the physical temple/tabernacle, in the altar fire, the land itself was holy and was an agent of sanctions, and the inheritance of God’s covenant promises was through blood descent and external possession of the Holy Land. As we have seen, all of these realties have been drastically altered by the New Testament economy. The civil penalties based upon the cherem principle must be considered in this light as well.

First, where in the Old Testament do we see this cherem principle? It appears first in Exodus 22:20, although its meaning and importance are made clearer in later verses. This first instance says, “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.” Here the penalty of devotion to destruction [cherem] is applied to false worship. Deuteronomy elaborates on this particular crime:

If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the LORD your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones (Deut. 17:2–5).

If applied in New Covenant times, this law would seem to require the death penalty for merely leaving the Christian faith. A simple apostate would, under strict application of this passage, be required to die at the hands of the State. There can be no doubt this is what it meant for Old Testament Israel. Does it still abide today? We will see in a moment.

Also subject to the direct judgment as cherem were the original Canaanite tribes who were to be purged from the land. God invokes the term cherem when describing both the people and their idols (Deut. 7:2, 26) that should be utterly destroyed. He reiterates this special devotion to destruction in the laws of warfare (Deut. 20:16–18). This inclusion is very helpful specifically because it was special and not normal even for Old Testament Israel. In ordinary warfare, rules for seeking peace, allowing tribute taxes, and pro- tecting innocents apply. But in the Canaanite cities “devoted to complete destruction,” nothing and no one was to be spared. This distinction in the Mosaic law itself shows that there was a special case already operative, and temporary, for those special commands that God applied under the cherem principle: some laws were just based upon the eye-for-an-eye rule (as we shall see); others were just based upon God’s immediate judgment under cherem.

There are other instances of cherem that illustrate its distinctiveness even more clearly. Numbers 21:1–3 relate how God answered the Israelites’ prayer to place Arad, a Canaanite king, under cherem.

And the LORD heeded the voice of Israel and gave over the Canaanites, and they devoted them and their cities to destruction. So the name of the place was called Hormah.

Hormah is derived from the word cherem and thus means “devoted.” In other words, the Israelites named this conquered territory after the principle itself. It was a memorial to God’s curse upon the Canaanites and the victory wrought thereby.

Similar stories are related concerning Sihon King of Heshbon (Deut. 2:30–34) and Og King of Bashan (Deut. 3:1–6). Both instances were not normal warfare, but rather warfare against peoples who were devoted specially to destruction before the Lord. Another instance appears in the destruction of Jericho. The city and all its property were dedicated to the Lord for cherem destruction. Achan violated cherem property and Israel suffering defeat for this (Josh. 7). Achan was ritually executed for his offense. Also, Saul’s failure came in response to a special application of cherem by God upon the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15). In each case, there was a special (not normal) application of the death penalty to unbelievers or apostates.

Another important instance of cherem is found in Deuteronomy 13. This case describes the destruction of even a Hebrew city that is nevertheless led away by faithlessness or apostasy. Shall a whole city be destroyed in modern times if it follows ungodly leaders and departs from the faith?

This instance is helpful in that it further clarifies the nature of cherem “devotion.” In this case, in Old Testament Israel, a city had been led away by either false prophets or false worship (see Deut. 13:1–17). In such a case, the whole city was to be devoted and destroyed, including all the property within it. All the property was to be burned specifically “as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God” (13:16). This detail is crucial. The “whole burnt offering” is a reference to the ordinary substitutionary sacrifice for atonement (Lev. 1:9, 13, 17). When that society had rejected the true God, however, and started to worship false gods, there remained no substitutionary sacrifice for them. The penalty that would normally fall upon the substitutionary sacrifice would now fall upon them. They themselves were therefore devoted to destruction: destroyed and burned for their apostasy.

Cherem in the New Testament

This principle is obviously continued in the New Testament, but with the change in temple, priesthood, and land administration comes a transfer of the seat of judgment from the earthly land to the heavenly throne of Christ. God’s consuming fire is no longer on earth in an altar. It was removed. Thus, the same principle of apostasy can be declared in the New Testament, but the sanction is no longer by earthly civil government, it is from the throne of Christ. In light of the change from shadow to substance (Heb. 10:1), the book of Hebrews makes this change fairly clear:

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26–29).

Keep in mind, the author was writing to Hebrews about the change from Old Covenant to New Covenant under Christ. The issue here would have been mass apostasy. The Hebrews who remained in unbelief after Christ would have been committing idolatry (false temple worship) and apostasy (denial that Christ had come in the flesh). Under the Mosaic administration, they would have been devoted to destruction (Ex. 22:20; Deut. 13; 17:2–5) by the civil government. The author of Hebrews acknowledges this. Yet he does not prescribe a cherem death penalty administered by the civil government. He prescribes an even worse judgment that will come from the throne of grace. This judgment fell, in history, in God’s providence, in A.D. 70, when Jerusalem was utterly destroyed in the greatest demonstration of cherem devotion to destruction ever. This was carried out by God Himself in history, not by human civil governments (although Rome was used as God’s providential agent).

With the New Covenant, therefore, the cherem principle is entirely changed. Its locus of authority has been removed from earth to heaven. God no longer calls upon the civil government to carry out cherem penalties. He still carries them out by punishing societies for idolatry and apostasy, but He does so through Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

Why this change? The discontinuity encountered in regards to the cherem principle is directly related to the difference in nature of the Old Covenant compared to the New. Just read God’s basic description of the change:

For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.

And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.

For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
and I will remember their sins no more”
(Heb. 8:8–12; cp. Jer. 31:31–34; Heb. 10:15–18).

The New Covenant is said specifically to be “not like” the Old. We know there are many differences already, but what is the fundamental difference in view here? The law continues, as we have noted already, but it is now written on the minds and hearts of God’s people, not merely on stones and books. It is that the New Covenant is administered by the Spirit, from heaven, not from the letter on earth. It is also marked by permanence: whereas the Israelites broke the Old Covenant and God cast them away for it, this New Covenant is wrought by God Himself in our hearts and cannot be broken. It is also marked by general forgiveness as opposed to the call for immediate cherem death.

Paul discusses the difference in precisely these terms:

And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory (2 Cor. 3:3–10).

This is hardly to say that the law in its entirety is brought to an end, but to show the difference in the nature of the two covenants and their administrations. The first was a ministry of the letter and death, the latter a ministry of the Spirit and life.

Finally, we see this difference manifested in how the New Testament applies the principle of cherem. We have already seen it transferred from earth to heaven in Hebrews 10:26–29. We see the same elsewhere as well. The word to look for is anathema. This is the Greek word used to translate the Hebrew word cherem in the Greek version of the Old Testament. Most of the passages we have covered use this word in the Greek version (Lev. 27:28; Num. 21:3; Deut. 7:28; 13:16; 20:17; Josh. 7). Where it appears in the New Testament, we should consider its equivalence. Sure enough, where it appears, it generally refers to religious sanction (Rom. 9:3; 1 Cor. 12:3; 16:22; Gal. 1:8–9). Consider these two examples that relate directly to the First Table of the law:

If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed [anathema] (1 Cor. 16:22).

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed [anathema]. As we have said before, so now I say again: If any- one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed [anathema] (Gal. 1:8–9).

It is clear that Paul is still applying the cherem/anathema principle in relation to First Table offenses, but the only sanction here is ecclesiastical. This in itself does not prove that the civil penalties no longer apply, but when taken together with the lessons from Hebrews, the change in the nature of administration of the covenants, and the transfer of temple/priesthood/land to Christ in heaven, it is illustrative.

Which laws does cherem cover?

It is my conclusion that civil governments no longer have authority to apply cherem punishments in the New Covenant. So, which laws does this cover? In general, these are all First Table offenses: false worship, apostasy, idolatry (Ex. 22:20; Deut. 13; 17:2–5). Further, there can no longer be any concept of holy war (Deut. 20:16–18), but the general laws of warfare abide.

The cherem principle indicates that certain other death pen- alties related to the First Table would also no longer apply. It would include laws relating directly to inheritance in the land, even when it crosses into family matters. This is why, for example, the death penalty was required for incorrigible sons (Deut. 21:18–21). (While not traditionally considered so, the Fifth Commandment is part of the First Table. It is a general principle but was also directly tied to inheritance in the land.) Under Old Testament law, a son would inherit the land by mandate, not by choice of the parents. A rebellious, incorrigible son was therefore a threat. His wicked influence and legacy was to be permanently purged “from your midst” (21:21). (Note that this law is not said to apply to daughters, who could be just as wicked and rebellious, and just as incorrigible, yet could inherit the land only in rare circumstances). While the word cherem is not used here, the principle is the same. The evil son was devoted to destruction to prevent the Holy Land and Holy people from being defiled.

In the New Testament, the land/seed/inheritance principles are all superseded. While a general principle against incorrigibility in regard to crime may still stand, the need to execute rebellious sons in this way is. In the New Covenant, the parents can by decision simply disinherit him, shun him, and leave him to God’s judgment.

—<Quote ends>—

There’s a LOT more going on here, lots of good stuff that I snipped.

Serious Christians desire to have Divine justice direct our hearts, our neighbourhoods, and (in time) our public justice system. As opposed to the culturally and financially and personally destructive policies of short-sighted desires of powerful men with silver tongues.

To preach this part of the Gospel, the defining terms of the righteousness and justice of God that is to cover the world, we Christians must master the details of the Law of God, and master the basic theory needed to know what applies today, and what does not, get the book, and read it for yourself.

And after mastering the core principles — including WHY the cherem principles (a.k.a. the first table of the Ten Commandments) are not to be enforced by the public magistrate today — then, we must apply the principles of God’s Law: first in our own hearts and lives, then in our families and churches, then in our businesses and neighbourhoods and counties, and finally at the national level of public policy.

Not murderous revolution. Not pious oppression.

Compassion, truth, righteousness, mercy, and justice for all, led by preaching and personal example.

That’s how God’s work will get done.

Again, the book is:

The Bonds of Love