Since it’s unusually long, we thought a more careful guide to the Journal might help.
Authoritarianism and Gospel Authority
Creeping politicization implies a creeping authoritarianism.
The government’s job description: To administer the justice requisite for protecting human life, secure the conditions necessary for fulfilling the dominion mandate, and provide a platform for God’s people to declare God’s perfect judgment and salvation.
If you don’t get your doctrine of the church right, you’re going to get your doctrine of the government and the nation wrong.
Theonomy and Christian Nationalism Basics
Theonomy has a view of the gospel and of the church’s mission that goes beyond preaching Christ and him crucified and risen for the conversion of sinners and the building up of churches.
Several distinctions can be made among the theonomists of our day.
In all our social media hot takes on Christian nationalism, we miss how nuanced nationalism has been in the American experience.
Theonomy risks conflating the identity of the church and civil society as a matter of law and polity.
Christians’ political thinking and conduct should always reflect the fact that our governments are in covenant with God through the Noahic covenant.
Is Christian Nationalism compatible with historic Baptist distinctives—with credobaptist, congregational convictions?
Christ is reigning, and he will accomplish his purpose on earth as it is in heaven. But that purpose is best seen in the beautification and building up of the church in the midst of nations, not a final golden era among the nations, where all the nations are made Christian by the church’s influence.
How does Moses’s law apply to believers today when so much has changed with Christ’s coming, not least of which is that we are part of the new covenant and not the old?
Four Critiques of Theonomy from Three Perspectives
A Presbyterian Perspective: The Intellectual and Sociological Origins of the Christian Reconstructionist MovementBy Ligon Duncan | 9Marks Journal: A New Christian Authoritarianism? | 04.28.2023
It is not our primary purpose here to provide analysis, but to describe and define, and to supply a preliminary sketch of the theoretical and environmental origins of the Christian Reconstructionist movement.
Confessional Baptist theology disputes theonomy in three areas.
Christians must call their governments to pursue and maintain a divinely-given, objective standard of morality. But Paul did not hold forth the law of Moses as this standard.
Theonomy fails to recognize that the New Testament applies Moses’s law through Christ only to the church and never to the state.
History, Culture, and Conversations
Christian theonomy poses some of the same dangers as an Islamic state.
The witness of the early church exposes us to a sort of culture warrior, but one who contrasts rather sharply from what’s usually meant by that term today.
From the beginning of the Baptist movement in the seventeenth century, the vast majority of Baptists have rejected religious establishments as a threat to flourishing faith.
Virtues help us to guard against the extreme vices of nostalgia and cynicism in our historical thinking as we come to grips with what it means to be an American.
Nationalist sentiment has come and gone, each time a different flavor, perhaps, but always the same recognizable brand.
Baptists who care about the integrity of their own tradition would do well to leave theonomy to the side and embrace the thinking of theologians like Gill whose thought well-represented the best of both Reformed and Baptist theology.
To what extent should the government use its coercive power to enforce Christian ethics?
When the church possesses coercive power, it invariably becomes warped and corrupted.
John Piper was recently asked, “How can American pastors begin to prepare the churches for persecution?”
Every pastor desires to see his congregation formed theologically. Part of this theological formation involves thinking through a number of questions that relate to church and state.
Which more afflicts the heart of God’s people—a morally declining country or a spiritually diseased congregation?
We should never confuse God’s kindness to our home nation with the idea that nationality is his primary interest.
In the face of today’s so-called “ culture war,” Theonomy and Reconstruction teachers often take bold stands on social issues that attract anxious evangelicals. How can pastors guide and guard their sheep from possible error?
Be wary of anyone who casts their political strategy and positions on less clear matters with a “thus saith the Lord” level of certainty.
How do we as Christians know when we’re putting too much hope in politics?
9Marks asked several pastors outside of the U.S. to answer this question: in your context, do you think of yourself as a culture warrior?
Read the prayers of four pastors at city, state, and national governmental gatherings.
‘The Case for Christian Nationalism’ trades the beatific vision for Bible verses at the DMV.
Leithart’s view of the church’s mission roots in postmillennialism, which yields not just an optimism about the future, but risks placing an eschatological and redemptive burden on Christians’ work in the world.
After reading Gribben’s account, one matter is clear—these are not your father’s (or grandfather’s) theonomists.
Precisely here is where theonomy is in danger of becoming a new legalism: demanding of the church what Jesus does not demand and what the church cannot in any case do.