Quill and writing

Greg Bahnsen (GB308) – Responses to Critics of Theonomy

      1. GB308

Bible Reading – James 4:1-12

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet[a] you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulterers and[b] adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”? 6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

“God resists the proud,

But gives grace to the humble.”

Humility Cures Worldliness

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.  11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?


  • Fowler argues against the Law’s general validity. How are Jesus’ words in Matt 5:17-19 compelling?
  • What is the essential ‘thrust’ of Matt 5?
  • What is the true interpretation of Acts 15 in relation to the injunctions recommended by the Council of Jerusalem?
  • What precisely did the reference to the Law being a ‘Tutor’ correspond to in Galatians 3/4?
  • Heb 7:12 intimates a change in the Law? How/why is this compatible with Theonomy?  What ‘hasty generalisation’ is employed by critics of Theonomy in connection with this passage?
  • What conflation do some critics make when they allude to the ‘progressive nature of Biblical revelation’?
  • Some urge that we ought simply to follow/emulate the pattern set forth by Jesus’ life. How should we respond?
  • Should we limit ourselves to NT morality alone?
  • Were all the OT covenants distinct from one another? How is Gal 3:21 relevant to our enquiry?
  • Reformed theology differentiates between moral & ceremonial law. Is that legitimate?  How is the doctrine of the Trinity relevant at this point?
  • Is it possible to keep the 10 Commands but relinquish obligations to the case laws?
  • May we de-legitimise the Law of God as inapplicable to those contemporary nations not in formal covenant with God (e.g. Kline, Sproul, Fowler)? Was OT Law restricted to the nation of Israel?
  • Is God’s Law racially variable?
  • Should Christians be interested in ‘politics’? How does Bahnsen demonstrate the pertinence of Scripture to political rule?
  • Are the Ten Commandments limited in application to OT Israel?
  • Is there a sharp/clear distinction to be made between ‘general revelation’ & ‘God’s revealed will/Law’?
  • Are inferential arguments made from Scripture valid?
  • May we reasonably set aside NT evidence for Theonomic evidence & see what’s left? Must we take account of all Scriptural evidence for a particular position?
  • May we safely reflect on our personal, subjective IMPRESSION of a topic?
  • Some suppose Theonomists fail to separate the spheres of Church & State. Do they?  Is this relevant to a critique of Theonomy?
  • Which crimes are ‘religious’ crimes?
  • Does the prosecution of civil justice conflict with the enterprise of evangelism?
  • Why is the text of Ezra Ch 7 concerning the pagan king Artaxerxes relevant to our enquiry?
  • Were the penal sanctions in the OT applied by (i) the Church or (ii) the state?
  • May we legitimately distinguish between religious & non-religious offences?
  • May different spheres (church, family, state) each have SIMULTANEOUSLY different reactions/responses to sins/crimes?
  • Is the provision of common grace contrary to the exercise of civil justice?
  • Is all sin a capital crime?
  • Did Jesus dismiss the Law of Moses when he forgave & then dismissed the woman caught in adultery? (Jn 8)
  • Would the implementation of God’s Law in civil society trigger a ‘Christian holocaust’?
  • What are we to think of the widespread tendency of Christian leaders who ridicule the penal sanctions of OT Law?
  • Did Dr Greg Bahnsen ever, during the course of his early life, reflect seriously on whether Scripture required him to hold (what would most likely be perceived as) such unpopular views?
  • What will our own personal choice be in this same regard? Would we be ‘double-minded’ (Jam 4:8)?
  • Did Calvin subscribe to the penal sanctions of God’s Law?
  • Is there anything really ‘novel’ in the theonomic ethical perspective? How does it compare with traditional CONSISTENT protestant orthodoxy?