Be Careful Not to Turn the Sword of God’s Law into a Machete

Nathaniel Darnell has written a brief epistle of admonition in the form of a loving rebuke directed at his fellow theonomists.

He tells them, in a word, Guys, don’t screw this up for the rest of us!

Well, he didn’t exactly say it that way.

But, he does remind us, in his recent post, that those who profess to love God’s law and respect it and cherish it and desire to implement and emulate it in our lives, had better make sure that our handling of that sharp, two-edged sword of God’s law and Gospel with respect to our brethren in Christ does not end up putting our own foolishness on display rather than the wisdom of God who wrote it, in that we wield it more like a machete!

It is not a plea for ecumenism or doctrinal compromise.  Just a plea for good sense and good will.

That was the heart and soul of the message of one of Christian Reconstruction’s most beloved, most gifted spokesmen, a highly-educated and articulate pastor, teacher and writer, Dr. Greg Bahnsen.

Bahnsen did not shrink from ardently defending orthodox, theonomic Christianity against its detractors, mainly those within the Reformed, Calvinist academic camp:

But he did warn the rest of us, make sure your zeal is powered by love and wisdom and a godly confidence in the truth, and not by arrogance, belligerence, and especially, ignorance.

Darnell’s warning is the same.

Greg Bahnsen Speaks on Wielding God’s Law with Wisdom

“Be affectioned to love one another with brotherly love. In giving honor, go one before another.” Romans 12:10

Why does it often seem that there are more divisions between fellow Christians than fellow unbelievers? Why does it seem oftentimes that Christians have a harder time getting along with fellow Christians—that theonomists have a harder time getting along with fellow theonomists even!—than with the ungodly?

The truth is that unbelievers actually do have just as many disagreements and divisions as Christians (often more so), but these are not often as obvious because unbelievers are frequently not as self-conscious about their worldview and faith as many Christians are trying to be. We are more likely to talk about our differences up-front because we are trying to be self-conscious and internally consistent, whereas most non-Christians don’t care whether they are self-conscious and consistent. Indeed, many of them have adopted post-modern philosophies that shrug off concern with contradiction and inconsistency. Relativism is the flavor of our day.

But there is another, deeper reason for why Christians often have a harder time getting along with fellow Christians—even ones with whom they have far greater doctrinal agreement than with most other people. As the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen would say, they simply lack wisdom.

mqdefaultWhen the history of Christendom is chronicled, Dr. Greg Bahnsen will no doubt be ranked as one of the “founding fathers” of Christian theonomy. Along with Dr. R.J. Rushdoony, Dr. Bahnsen left behind a body of messages and books that have been foundational in helping the Church of Christ return to a sound Biblical perspective on civil government. He’s been called Mr. Theonomist by some.

As zealous as Dr. Bahnsen was for the Law of God, even he realized before he died that there were some disturbing characteristics rising to the surface among the growing number of Christians willing to call themselves “theonomists” or “reconstructionists.” They were becoming often characterized by belligerence, back-biting, slandering, and arrogance.

Galatians 5:15 warns: “If ye bite and devour one another, take heed lest ye be consumed one of another.” That passage goes on to list the “fruits of the Spirit”—against which, it says, “there is no law.” Those fruits are “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperancy” (Galatians 5:22-23, 1599 Geneva Bible).

In 1994 at the church Dr. Joe Morecraft serves as an elder at in Cumming, Georgia, Dr. Greg Bahnsen shared this message embedded below, expressing the need for those Christians zealous for a sound Biblical orthopraxy and worldview to do so with charity, justice, peaceableness, and humility — not back-biting or sowing discord among the brethren. It’s a message on genuine Christian piety (not pietism) in the midst of promoting a Biblical morality. He speaks about how the problem is not with the Law of God. The Law of God reflects the holy character of God! But he stresses that the Law of God in the hands of the foolish can become a frightening tool for much hurt and destruction.

Please take one hour from your day to listen to this message from Dr. Greg Bahnsen. I believe in will truly bless you. (If for some reason it is not appearing, click here to listen to it.)

Often those new to the faith, or new to a particular teaching, are the most zealous to see it promoted. It’s encouraging to see this zeal in action, to be sure. But this zeal must always be tempered with wisdom. Wisdom that will lead the zealous to thoroughly study the Bible and their Christian predecessor’s scholarship carefully before they begin to get dogmatic on the subject themselves. (See James 1:19; Proverbs 18:13, for example.) I Timothy 3:6 warns that a Christian leader should ”[n]ot [be] a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (KJV).

bahnsenAs I observe much of the debating going on among my fellow Christians, and even fellow theonomists, on various issues, I often observe them debating over things that were studied and addressed by Christian scholars and leaders of previous generations long ago. Rather than consulting with the Christians of the past, they are trying to re-invent the thenomic wheel, as it were, and thus they are personally recapitulating the maturity process Christendom as a whole has undergone over the last 500 years since the Reformation. They are arguing and dividing over many matters godly men like Luther, Calvin, Baxter, Cromwell, Witherspoon, Kuyper, VanTil, Rushdoony, and Bahnsen answered and honed over the course of many years. If we all exercised the humility to listen and read before we jump to write or speak on a particular controversial topic, we might experience more harmony in our discussions. Of course, everything we take in from a respected Christian teacher should be subjected to careful Biblical evaluation. (See Acts 17:11.)

In the end of the day, we must remember that we are reconstructionists, not merely deconstructionists (no matter how many times my computer’s auto-spell corrector says otherwise!). We are not trying to merely tear-down. We are wanting to build up a way of life that reflects God’s virtue in every arena. But we cannot be building up the Body of Christ when we are biting and devouring one another. Building a godly culture must begin with me personally putting my life under the unconditional submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ—even if He requires me to be just, gracious, and longsuffering to someone who is dead wrong about an important matter of orthopraxy.

Reprinted with permission from the author.  Read the original article here.

What Would Jesus Shoot? John Piper on Why Guns and the Gospel Don’t Mix

John-Piper

There’s been a lot of interest this week in John Piper’s position on guns and the Second Amendment.

It stems from a video he did five years ago, that stems from a blog post he wrote five years ago.

The blog post was titled, Guns and Martyrdom.  In it, he mentions the 1956 murders of a group of Christian missionaries–including Jim Elliot–by marauding members of an indigenous Indian tribe in Ecuador.

In the video he did four months later, he refers to these missionary killings, and emphatically states that the way they handled their situation–shooting their guns into the air (risking potential injury or death to other folks in the area, but that’s another story and another ethical dilemma for another day) instead of firing directly at their tribal attackers–illustrates, in Piper’s mind, the true evangelical spirit and a genuine Christian approach to using guns in self-defense.

Which means NOT using guns at all in self-defense.

The “ethic” works like this.  If you’re a Christian who knows he’s going to heaven, and you’re faced with an attacker using lethal force against you, you have an obligation and an evangelical duty NOT to defend yourself–because you might accidentally kill him and, well, obviously your attacker (by virtue of the fact that he is attacking you) is not ready to go to heaven!

Is it just me or is this just a really unbiblical way of looking at it!

SANCTIFIED SUICIDE

Many have ruminated and commented on Piper’s pietism-driven, pacifist-retreatist position on guns and the Gospel and self-defense.

Before I give you my two cents’ worth, watch this…

There’s a lot to be disturbed about in Piper’s remarks.  Probably most disturbing of all is that millions of Christians AGREE with him!

That’s because millions of Christians are woefully unaware of the real history of Christianity and missions around the world, and the harsh realities of what happens whenever God’s church runs head-to-head against Satan’s counterfeit kingdom.  They’re unaware of what the Bible really says about weapons and warfare and evil and killing (vs. murder), and defending the defenseless and vulnerable and innocent against the heinous, malicious acts of the wicked and oppressors who would terrorize the weak through tyranny, intimidation and violence.

They seem oblivious to the fact that Jesus NEVER taught absolute pacifism and non-resistance in all cases.

They prefer a Christianity of niceness and non-confrontation, non-controversy, personal piety and silent devotion, as opposed to a Christianity of stalwart boldness, resolve and holy determination to combat evil and defeat evildoers in a spirited (and Spirit-led) defense and promulgation of the Gospel of reconciliation and forgiveness toward repentant sinners, and the foreordained advancement of Christ’s kingdom on earth.

No, that’s a bit much for them to stomach.  They’d rather just give this world and its “kingdoms” over to Satan, and focus on what’s really important–“getting ready for heaven” and remaining eternally vigilant for that most elusive of dispensational-premillennialism’s most cataclysmic events, The Rapture!

There are “unintended consequences” to embracing such a trendy, touchy-feely, biblically unnecessary argument against Christians using lethal force in self-defense against evildoers.   Besides being a DANGEROUS one, think of how man-centered and utterly lacking in faith and wisdom it is.

When asked if he would protect his own daughter if she were being attacked, Piper’s answer was–are you ready for this?–“probably.”  Probably?

“Gee, thanks, Dad!”

Think of how presumptuous and misguided this is.

Reflect back on those missionaries in Ecuador.

“We’re ready for heaven and they’re not.”  So, let’s just “help” God out a little bit here while we give a good “Christian witness” of love and forgiveness to these unconverted savages by letting them spear us to death while we have it within our power with these guns of ours to protect not only ourselves but also the poor people of this tribe that we’re ministering to.  Of course, doing so will probably embolden them and harden them further to turn their weapons against their fellow converted tribal members and slaughter them, too.  But, oh, well.  That’s the chance you take.  There’s always that risk of collateral damage whenever you “obey the Gospel.”  So, let’s just be passive non-resisters and allow these mass murderers to despatch us quickly so we can go to our heavenly reward, while they stay here (since they’re not “ready for heaven”) and keep on killing even MORE innocent people and needlessly create more widows and orphans and death and destruction after we’re gone, thus storing up even more of God’s wrath for themselves against the Day of Judgment.  After all, that’s the Christian thing to do.

In Piper’s world, none of this gets taken into consideration.  The idea that Christians have a duty to protect the innocent and defend them against evildoers, stopping them from doing OTHERS the same evil and harm that they seek to do to you.

That might not be such a bad “alternative” ethic. Sort of an alternate Golden Rule: “Do unto others–before they go and do unto others!”

Such is the theological short-sightedness and misguided application of Christ’s teachings and the Bible.  Piper and those who think likewise on this are not fully informed by God’s laws and ethics and statutes and commandments, which are infused into all of the teachings of BOTH the Old and New Testaments.

Piper could stand to read (and embrace the contents of) a few good Reconstructionist books.  Like Institutes of Biblical Law.  Like Backward, Christian Soldiers, like The Theology of Christian Resistance.  Like just about anything written by Gary North, Gary DeMar, David Chilton, R.J. Rushdoony, Kenneth Gentry, Greg Bahnsen, James Jordan, Joel McDurmon and a host of others.  These writers and teachers are NOT infallible.  Their books and teachings contain errors.  They disagree with each other.  But their works are path-breaking and eye-opening and theologically rigorous as far as seeking to faithfully apply the Bible and orthodox Christianity to all areas of life.

In addition to a thoughtful study of the Ten Commandments — from a theonomic/pro-nomian point of view! — Piper could also benefit from a more careful reading of the U.S. Constitution, especially the first Ten Amendments.

That might help him to remember which one of the Amendments has something to do with the right to keep and bear arms.