Theonomists for Romney

I had a bit of a row earlier this week with Marcus Pittman of Crown Rights Media over at the Facebook page of Sye TenBruggencate. In the comments under this post, we had ourselves a “discussion” about politics, government, and God’s sovereign ordained purposes. I thought I’d bring the comments to the front page of the blog for others to see, learn, and evaluate; and of course, be entertained:

Marcus Pittman  This idea that being a Mormon has no consequence whatsoever on being president needs to die the death.

From your post, “Additionally, he made a comment or two about Christians voting for a Mormon, to which he said they could because we aren’t voting for a pastor or some church leader. He’s a president in a secular government.”But we are voting for a “Minister of God, for Justice” correct?This really just goes to prove my post more. Worldview matters. In response to this I present Charles Spurgeon, since you guys at Grace to You are students of him:

“I should not allow a Mormonite to be Judge in the Divorce Court, nor a Quaker to be Commissioner of Oaths, nor an atheist to be Chaplain to the House of Commons; and, for the same reason, I would not have a Roman Catholic, sworn to allegiance to the Pope, to be Viceroy of India. Mr. Gladstone said this himself when writing about the Vatican; but the way in which he eats his words, and puts on a new form so soon as he is in power, does not increase my esteem for him.”

Fred Butler Nebuchadnezzar was called God’s servant. He was a cruel tyrant until his salvation. The same would be said of Caligula and Nero. God ordained them to be rulers, to be in essence, “Ministers of God, and Justice.” Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t elected, but obtained that position via birth. Caligula and Nero by the election of a senate in Rome, or other nefarious, dishonest means. What ever the case, God ordained means for them to rule.

In the case of America, God has ordained the election process. We as Christians, who are members of our society, are allowed to partake in the election of our officials. Even though they are “divinely” appointed ministers of God, they are divinely appointed within a secular government.

Worldview certainly matters, and any truly discerning believer would study to show himself approved in these matters. It’s entirely disingenuous to argue that Theonomist have the right worldview, but then be disengaged from the reality of things politically.

As to Spurgeon, the man lived 150 years ago or more. What he says about elections in 19th century England has no relevance to 21st century America. In fact, it was pretty much irrelevant when he spoke these words in the 19th century seeing that, again, he lived in England, not America.

Marcus Pittman So you would vote for Nero? Let me rephrase that. Would it be a sin for a Christian to vote for Nero? By what standard?

Fred Butler That’s a clown question and is beneath you.

We are living in different circumstances, different points in history. Mitt Romney, in spite of his Mormonism, is not promoting unrighteousness in the same manner as a Nero, or a King James the 1st for that matter. His duty, according to Romans 13, is to restrain evil and punish evil doers in society and to strike fear in the hearts of the unrighteousness. His duty is not to bring forth some Puritanical “Dominion mandate.” He’s to govern a secular government in the U.S. I’ve been given the God ordained privilege to vote, and I am not squandering that privilege by not voting or voting in some third rail candidate.

Marcus Pittman correct me if I am wrong. But are you making the case that Government is autonomous? Whose standard of Good and Evil should the Government administer justice?

Fred Butler No. I am not making that argument. Government is under God’s authority. He ordains the humanity to run them, even the corrupt and evil. He also ordains the means to get them into their ordained power, by such manner as military might, bribery, assassination, and in our case, voting them in by democratic process.

The government administers justice by the standard of God. This is what Romans 1,2 and 13 say, or do you disagree? Men are created in the image of God, they have the law of God written on their heart, they understand by nature right and wrong. It’s not salvific, of course, but it reflects God’s general law.

Marcus Pittman Obviously things like adultery, homosexuality, are violations of God’s objective law and its written on men’s hearts. Would it be “puritanical” for the Government to punish those acts…or would it be just?

Fred Butler I would say it is good to legislate those things, for example, opposing gay marriage and passing marriage amendments, which Romney is likely to allow states to continue doing, but we don’t live in a theocratic nation. The church does not bear the sword against sinners in this dispensation =-)

I would not want to live in Puritan Boston. As soon as I speak of believer’s baptism, I’d be either exiled into the wilderness with Puritan Roger Williams or stockaded. OR my tongue bored through.

Marcus Pittman Fred, no one mentioned the Church bearing the sword. I was only using your own standards.

Fred Butler Fair enough. But Theonomists would execute sinners in such a fashion, correct? Please correct my “strawman” views of theonomy in this regards.

Marcus Pittman No, Theonomist would execute criminals, who have been found guilty in the court of law. Not every sin is criminal.

Fred Butler What about breaking the Sabbath?

Marcus Pittman the objective standards for criminal justice are eternal and unchanging. If they do change, then God is not immutable and the death of Christ could one day not be enough. Was God unjust when he laid out the instructions to civil magistrates for Sabbath breakers?

Fred Butler  He was not unjust under the circumstance of a theocratic nation. There is no theocratic nation now. The NT church is not under the terms and conditions of the nation of Israel. The application of that law has been suspended until Christ returns and establishes a global theocratic nation.

Marcus Pittman Fred, you keep bringing up the Church. We are not talking about the Church. We are speaking of the Minister of God, for Justice. The Civil Magistrate. There are three institutions in scripture founded by God. The Church, The Family, and The State. You wouldn’t say a Father should rule his family according to God’s word would you?

Fred Butler I keep bringing up the church because ultimately you will insist on laws and principles of spiritual conduct that are only for the church being imposed upon the state. The minister of God for justice operates under separate principles for the state that are maybe similar, but are distinct from those that govern the church and family. For example, I don’t execute a child for apostasy.

Marcus Pittman  Can you show me in scripture where this Change has taken place?

Fred Butler In the inauguration of the NC. See Hebrews. Additionally, look at the parables of the Kingdom Jesus taught. When the tares grew up with the wheat, what were the workers to do? Wait until the end so no wheat would perish with the tares. In other words, we do no exercise the authority in the church to execute apostates or false Christians.

Marcus Pittman I agree. We’re not talking about the Church. We’re talking about the Government.

Fred Butler Okay. So what exactly is the problem with voting for Mitt Romney? He’s the minister of God for the state, not the church. He operates under a different application of divine principles than a minister. He’s not being voted in as head pastor. Unless you are arguing that state officials must be elder qualified per 1 Tim. 3.

Marcus Pittman No, I use the standards given by God for an Elected official.

“Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” – Exodus 18:21

Four simple requirements. Able. Fear God. Trustworthy. Can’t be bribed.

Fred Butler But that is for a theocratic nation. A distinctly redeemed people. Essentially, those qualifications would transfer over to the qualifications of elders and church leadership. Not a minister of God for the state.

Marcus PittmanThe three institutions. Church. Civil. Family. Were distinct and separated in the OT as well. It’s no different in structure.I would ask that you define “Theocratic” as I would say it is impossible for one to “rule according to Law” without a source of that law. That source, would be the standard and thus the Government would be theocratic.It’s impossible to have a neutral rule. Every Government is theocratic. It’s not a matter of should we have a theocracy, but which one is best.

Fred Butler No different in structure? Are you telling me how God held the nations accountable is the same as He held his covenant people?

“Theocratic” means God’s rule over a nation. But it just isn’t any ole nation. It was Israel. God’s redeemed people He personally promised He would make a great nation and delivered from Egypt by His power. When He chose them (beginning with Abraham) he made a specific covenant with them that was ratified further at Sinai, and to David, and through to Jesus. The standard by which God deals with Israel is going to be different than what He deals with the nations based upon the fact that Israel is God’s special, unique people in an exclusive covenant with Him. None of the other concurrent nation-states at that time experienced God’s dealings in such a way.

Of course it is impossible to have neutral rule, but God’s rule over the nations who are not His people is going to be different than His rule over His distinct, covenanted people. That rule is different now over the people of God who comprise the Body of Christ that is both Jew and Gentile, but still distinct from His rule over the State. Same God, different applications and administrations of His rule.


6 thoughts on “Theonomists for Romney

  1. Please continue the debate. There is much more to say about how Theonomy works in the entire bible. If we are not under a theocratic rule, then who is ruling the world? Please teach me on the Theonomic worldview as I am interested on how theonomy is played out in the New Testament. Thanks much.

  2. No one is disputing that God is not in control of nations. I certainly am not. In practical terms, I am a theonomist. All Christians would be. The debate with “theonomy” and theonomists is the application of spiritual principles that comprise God’s law in the world. Whereas I believe there are specific “laws” applied to Christians and the church, those laws don’t spill over and apply equally to government among the nations. They are exclusive to the spiritual body of believers.

    So, whereas a Mormon would be forbidden to lead a Bible believing church, it would not be sinful for a Mormon to run for secular office and for a Christian to vote for him. Unless the candidate has promised to willfully engage in what we know is defined as sinful behavior in the Scripture, at that point, I would not vote for such a person. The former mayor of San Francisco I believe falls into that category.

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  4. Most Reformed literature on the subject of hermeneutics places the Law in three categories: The MORAL LAW which applies to all men in all ages, fulfilled only by Christ, which defines sin and convicts sinners, driving us to Christ for mercy. The CEREMONIAL LAW, prefiguring Christ, fulfilled by His work, no longer binding because the Substance supersedes the Shadow. And the CIVIL LAW of ancient Israel, which applied only to the kingdom of ancient Israel. It applies today only in the sense of “general equity.” For example, the law in ancient Israel requiring a fence being erected around household rooftops makes no sense today, but a fence around a swimming pool does, or a trigger lock on firearms does. How theonomists can take the principle of “general equity” and twist it into some blending of Church and State, I’ll never understand.

  5. Additionally, Spurgeon’s point concerning a Mormon as judges in the divorce court relates, in context, to the fact that the LDS were still thoroughgoing polygamists at the time that Spurgeon spoke the quoted words. His point was that since Mormonism at that time had a totally different view of marriage from the state, a Mormon judge in the divorce courts could not be trusted to apply the law at it stood because he owed allegiance to an entirely different law on the matter. In British (and US) law a man can only have one wife, and marrying a second would be a crime and grounds for divorce; according to the teaching of the LDS at the time a man HAD to have multiple wives in order to attain to the highest level of exaltation.

    Therefore the Spurgeon quote is entirely beside the point. Additionally, none of the offices Spurgeon refers to are, or were at the time, elected posts, they are government appointments. The point is that the Mormon’s faith commitment on marriage means that he cannot function in a divorce court as a judge, the Quaker’s belief that all oaths are wrong means that he cannot function as a commissioner of oaths, and the atheist’s denial of God precludes him from acting as a chaplain. Elected office is not in view at all in the discussion.

  6. So finally, Spurgeon is talking about conflicting loyalties that place a man at odds with the law of the land (in the case of the Viceroy of India, the Protestant constitution of the UK, though I think Spurgeon’s reasoning very weak on the matter). If it could be shown that Mormonism sets a man at odds with the US constitution (which the LDS believe to be inspired!), then Spurgeon’s reasoning could be applied to Romney. Otherwise what we have is abuse of a historical quotation.

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