Johannes Calvyn

Does God’s law still apply to current civil governments and societies, and in what detail? Or is ‘natural law’ enough for governments to rule today, they do not need God’s revealed laws or bow before King Jesus Christ?  What is and should be the relation between church and state, biblically and confessionally?

These and many other questions has been part of a big debate in the second half of the 20th century, and also now to a lesser extent in the 21st century, within the reformed camp in the USA, in the reformed and presbyterian churches. For or against theonomy has been a big debate, unfortunately making many ‘enemies’ among each other, especially surrounding the work of some of the foundational theonomic theologians, like RJ Rushdoony and GL Bahnsen. I thought the debate died down a bit, myself not reading much about it since the beginning of the 2000’s, before then, I studied the topic more, but since then focusing more on other topics.

Someone who clearly is very strongly against anything that looks like or smell like theonomy, and still fighting it with a passion, is prof. RS Clark from Westminster Seminary California.

On his website is his newest article on this topic, where he tries his best to persuade folks not to learn anything at all from reformed theonomists, because they do not agree with his and his colleagues natural law (radical) two kingdoms views which seems to him to be the ‘only’ reformed view concerning ethics related to law, church and state, etc, in their eyes:

Just Discovering Reformed Theology? TheoRecon Is A Toll-Booth You Should Skip

RJ Rushdoony

I have tried to give some balanced perspective as a non-american reformed believer, but without giving any reasons, dr. Clark decided to delete my two short contributions to two of his current threads on theonomy. Maybe he decided to just ignore a no name theologian like me, or just don’t like what I am saying, but he has this footnote at his articles which give some explanation, and I must guess which one it is that applies to me:

“Comments are welcome but must observe the moral law. Comments that are profane, deny the gospel, advance positions contrary to the Reformed confession, or irritate the management are subject to deletion. Anonymous comments, posted without permission, are forbidden.”

Clark also followed up the above article with this quote from Calvin, which he and many others unforunately thinks settles the debate once and for all, namely “Calvin spoke against theonomy”, the debate is settled, let’s move on … or so he thinks:

Calvin Rejected Theonomy In Favor Of Natural Law

I have answered both Clark’s threads on this topic, and since he deleted it, I am publishing it here.

The biggest lesson for me in these kind of debates that I been following for 30 years, and especially now with Clark’s actions in not allowing my comments, is not whether one is pro- or non- or anti-theonomic as such, but that we should, no matter what camp we in, read and listen to both sides of views, debates, etc., especially if many on those debates are with fellow reformed brothers within the reformed camp.

Yes, we must beware of false doctrines, heresies, guard the true churches (BC art. 29), etc., but I do not believe pro or anti-reformed theonomic ethics (which I believe is another, not the only reformed ethic for God’s law for today, which should be considered within reformed and presbyterian churches, together with other reformed views on this topic, that will be more or less non-theonomic/theocratic) is a area to die for on a reformed hill, I do not believe one should be seen as ‘within or without the reformed camp’ because of being pro- or anti theonomic (with theonomic here I mean specifically Rushdoony or Bahnsen’s kind/version of theonomy, and not theonomy in general through history, which I believe all reformed should be theonomic in general: pro-law in the tradisional 3 uses of the law distinction sense, as is stated in our reformed confessions).

Here is my two replies, with a slight few changes, please read dr. Clark’s article and quote first (see above), and then read my two replies:

My reply 1 to dr. Clark’s “Just Discovering Reformed Theology? TheoRecon Is A Toll-Booth You Should Skip”

Greg L. Bahnsen

“As a non-American reformed believer, trying to read both sides of the Machen’s Warrior Children for decades (Clark’s view on this, see here), in this case, pro- or anti-theonomy/recon reformed views, all I can say is that I also see some serious problems with the (radical) Two Kingdoms (R2K) views espoused by the Westminster California brothers in the reformed camp, such as RS Clark.  It is clear that theonomy with it’s problems, and R2K with its problems, both are and wants to be reformed and claim the westminster/dordt confessions heritage, and I see many agreements and disagreements over the years in their debates.  Trying to drive out one or the other group from the ‘truly reformed camp’ is futile attempt, at least seen from the ‘outside’.

Yes, there definitely is a difference between theocracy and theonomy, as their will be  historical differences between for example Dordt and Westminster, but I really cannot see if one honestly read the reformed authors of the 16/17th century, how the R2K view can be any nearer to the theocratical reformed confessions of  the 16th/17th century in regards to the topic of ‘church and state’, than say 20th century theonomy advocates? Theonomy confirms for instance the essence of BC art. 36 (on civil government) and WCF chapter 23 (on civil government), but R2K denies it in favour of a natural law (neutral?) kind of state (theocracy/theonomy says: Christ is King over both Church and State, both church and king is under God’s Law, not only the Church, etc.)

But in saying that, I won’t give the same advice as the article above, I would recommend and say read and learn from all of Machen’s … and Van Til’s, and GH Clark’s, etc.’s warrior children and their struggles to try and keep each other out of the ‘reformed camp’, learn where one can from some excellent sources from all those battling camps, an above all, test everything according to Scripture, Acts 17:11.”

My reply 2 to dr. Clark (Calvin Rejected Theonomy In Favor Of Natural Law)

“Calvin’s battle in that quote (from Institutes 4.20.14) was against the Anabaptistic kingdom ideas of his days, who did not see any changes from Moses to our today, something theocrats and theonomists through history both rejected (they see both continiuty and discontinuity in terms of God law for today’s societies).  Calvin was not calling out current or future reformed theocrats and theonomist who believed in the general equity of God’s law for all of life, also for the state, he taught on God’s law for society himself. See also rev. Chris Strevel article dealing in detail with Calvin’s quote, in its historical and theological context of all other Calvin said on this topic, not only the Institutes, but also in his sermons, commentaries, etc.:

The Theonomic Precedent in the Theology of John Calvin 

But even if one thinks Calvin was “thinking” of Bahnsen, Rushdoony etc. in that quote, then at least it must be acknowledged that Calvin was also not in the (“radical”) two kingdom’s camps of our day at all, as very clearly stated here:

Calvin to King Francis I in his prefatory address in his Institutes (and by implications to all rulers of all times, Ps. 2; Rom. 13. Emphasis added):

“Your duty, most serene Prince, is, not to shut either your ears or mind against a cause involving such mighty interests as these: how the glory of God is to be maintained on the earth inviolate, how the truth of God is to preserve its dignity, how the kingdom of Christ is to continue amongst us compact and secure. The cause is worthy of your ear, worthy of your investigation, worthy of your throne.

“The characteristic of a true sovereign is, to acknowledge that, in the administration of his kingdom, he is a minister of God. He who does not make his reign subservient to the divine glory, acts the part not of a king, but a robber. He, moreover, deceives himself who anticipates long prosperity to any kingdom which is not ruled by the sceptre of God, that is, BY HIS DIVINE WORD. For the heavenly oracle is infallible which has declared, that “where there is no vision the people perish” (Prov. 29:18).”

Wonder if Calvin would also be seen by some as “not within the truly reformed camp” with words such as this today?

What any honest reformed historian would deduce from this quote (together with Calvin’s words in Inst. 4.20.14, and the rest of his works elsewhere) is:

There is both theonomic/theocratic and natural law grounds/aspects found in Calvin’s works, rightly understood and compared.

One modern day camp alone cannot claim higher ground, i.e. “Calvin is on only our side”, that would be a one-sided dishonest reading of Calvin and reformed history and confessions, all in service of some kind of 20/21 century ax battle grinders issue, who read stuff back into Calvin and the reformers… what the motives and reasons for that is, I leave in the Lord’s hands.


1. Most important, go read Calvin, Rushdoony and Bahnsen (and any other theologian) themselves, ad fontes (back to the sources!),  not what others say about them, for or against, that is secondary sources that could be helpful, but not original.

2. One does not have to agree with all detail, to still learn a lot from a past or current theologian. I learn a lot from RS Clark and other Westminster Californian R2K theologians on many other topics, and recommend many of their works, while disagreeing with their R2K, non-literal 24 day creation views, etc. The same with many other (past and current) reformed theologians that are (in my view) much too anti-theocratic/theonomic, but I still love and respect these brothers to learn from them, and recommend them with some reservations. They still are my reformed brothers in the faith, once delivered, and I will fellowship with them.  I do not go along with the ‘for or against theonomy’ sjibolet of some zealous warriors (from both sides!).

3. Dr. Clark has given recourses to read for being against our theonomy reformed brothers, you can read it there at his website. But don’t stop reading there…

4. Here are some other sources about the topic, also pro and against, and also some of my own writings (in Afrikaans) wherein I also give my own critiques about christian reconstructionism, etc.:

Die Kultuurbeskouing van RJ Rushdoony, ds. S Le Cornu

Pro and Con Theonomy

Bahnsen sources

(Standard works on the topic: Theonomy in Christian Ethics; By This Standard; No Other Standard)

What is Theonomy?

(A two page introduction and summary by Bahnsen)

The Westminster Assembly and the Equity of the Judicial Law

The Bahnsen Project: all his lectures and preaching at sermon audio

Rushdoony sources

(Standard works on the topic: Institutes of Biblical Law, vol. 1-3)

Teokrasie en Teonomie in die ZAR, by Totius, by Calvyn en die outentieke Reformatoriese belydenisskrifte van die 16/17de eeu

Pro Regno nr.12 – Die teokrasie en teonomie van NGB artikel 36

Theonomy library


Add yours

  1. A further comment by me at:

    January 18, 2020 @ 1:49 PM
    Your comment awaits moderation.

    All these theologians that you lately quote ‘against [your specific view] of theonomy’, now give us their pro-theocracy quotes, i.e. that not only the church, but the kings/civil magistrates of this world also must bow and serve King Jesus Christ and acknowledge Him in their ways, which includes His Word and laws?

    I guess you will not, because it does not fit nicely into your modern day 20/21st century R2K agenda which also clearly do not follow the confessional reformed theologians and confessions of the 16/17th century (BC art. 36; WCF chapter 23, etc.).

    But before you delete my message (again), what about this work, does it not count, specifically the confessional reformed men recommending, learning and working with it?

    “Disputations on the Judicial Laws of Moses (by Johannes Piscator, translated by Adam Brink)

    In this tour de force of Reformed political ethics, Johannes Piscator discusses the relevance of the Judicial Laws of Moses for Christian magistrates. This series of arguments originally appeared as an Appendix to his commentary on Exodus, and was recommended by George Gillespie (Scottish delegate to the Westminster Assembly) as helping to resolve scruples regarding the Judicial Laws of Moses.

    The Second Edition includes appendices with positive citations of this work by Samuel Rutherford (Covenanter), Thomas Edwards (London City Presbyterian), Thomas Shepard (American Puritan and Founder of Harvard), Francis Cheynell (Westminster Divine) and George Gillespie (Covenanter). Gillespie states that this work helps to resolve doubts regarding the judicial laws of Moses in their modern applicability.”


    “It will be asked, “But how does it appear that these or any other judicial laws of Moses do at all appertain to us, as rules to guide us in like cases?” I shall wish him who scruples this, to read Piscator’s appendix to his observations upon the 21-23 chapters of Exodus, where he excellently disputes this question, whether the Christian Magistrate is bound to observe the judicial laws of Moses, as well as the Jewish Magistrate was.”

    (See here:

  2. A further comment by me at:

    January 18, 2020 @ 2:13 PM
    Your comment awaits moderation.


    Kings Follow Old Testament Example by Natural Equity of Office:

    Free Disputation (1649) ch. 13, ‘Magistracy and Perpetual Laws in the Old Testament Warrant the Civil Coercing of False Prophets’, p. 179 ff.

    “What the patriarchs and godly princes of Israel and Judah were obliged to do as rulers and princes, and not as such rulers who were privileged types of Christ, that, all kings and rulers under the New Testament are obliged to do. For quod convenit h auto convenit kata pantos [that which agrees in the thing itself, agrees to all of that kind], what agrees to kings as such, and to rulers as such, agrees to all kings and to all rulers.

    But patriarchs and godly princes, as rulers commanded the putting away of strange gods, as Jacob (Gen. 35:2-4) did, and the worship of the true God: as Abraham (Gen. 18), he being a prince within himself. So repenting Manasseh (2 Chron. 33:15-16) removed strange gods and new alters. Asa removed idolatry and queen-mother for her idolatry (2 Chron. 14), renewed the Covenant, and “commanded that whosoever should not seek the Lord God of Israel, should be put to death whether small or great, whether man or woman.” Jehosaphat is
    commended because he took away the high places [of idolatry] and the groves, as other godly kings are blemished for not removing of them (2 Chron. 19:4). “Nevertheless there are good things found in thee,” says the prophet Jehu. Hezekiah removed the high places, the images, groves, brazen serpent, restored the Passover, worship, priests, and Josiah destroyed the high places, groves, carved, and molten images, idols, and altars of Baal, the horses dedicated to the sun, houses of the Sodomites, Topheth, Baal’s priests (2 Chron. 34).

    Now that they did this as princes, not as privileged types of Christ [as some argued for, who would annul these examples], and that God requires this at the hands of King Charles [then currently in power], when God shall establish him in his throne, to take order with [all the heretical sects of the day:] Arians, Socinians, Anti-trinitarians, Familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, Seekers, etc., is evident…”

    See here:

  3. A further comment by me at:

    January 18, 2020 @ 2:23 PM
    Your comment awaits moderation.


    Then why did Ursinus write (co write?) the following in the Heidelberg Catechism, clearly using judicial penalty law texts as scripture proofs for the abiding validity of these laws for today?

    “The Third Commandment

    Question 100. Is then the profaning of God’s name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavour, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?

    Answer: It undoubtedly is, (a) for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death. (b)

    (a) Prov.29:24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not. Lev.5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
    (b) Lev.24:15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. Lev.24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.

    The Sixth Commandment

    Question 105. What does God require in the sixth commandment?

    Answer: That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonour, hate, wound, or kill my neighbour, by myself or by another: (a) but that I lay aside all desire of revenge: (b) also, that I hurt not myself, nor wilfully expose myself to any danger. (c) Wherefore also the magistrate is armed with the sword, to prevent murder. (d)

    (a) Matt.5:21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: Matt.5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Matt.26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Gen.9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
    (b) Eph.4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Rom.12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Matt.5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Matt.18:35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
    (c) Rom.13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Col.2:23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. Matt.4:7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
    (d) Gen.9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Exod.21:14 But if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. Matt.26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Rom.13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

    The Eighth Commandment

    Question 110. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

    Answer: God forbids not only those thefts, (a) and robberies, (b) which are punishable by the magistrate; but he comprehends under the name of theft all wicked tricks and devices, whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the goods which belong to our neighbour: (c) whether it be by force, or under the appearance of right, as by unjust weights, ells, measures, fraudulent merchandise, (d) false coins, usury, (e) or by any other way forbidden by God; as also all covetousness, (f) all abuse and waste of his gifts. (g)

    (a) 1 Cor. 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    (b) 1 Cor. 5:10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. Isa. 33:1 Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.
    (c) Luke 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. 1 Thess. 4:6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
    (d) Prov. 11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight. Prov. 16:11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work. Ezek. 45:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD. Ezek. 45:10 Ye shall have just balances, and a just ephah, and a just bath. Ezek. 45:11 The ephah and the bath shall be of one measure, that the bath may contain the tenth part of an homer, and the ephah the tenth part of an homer: the measure thereof shall be after the homer. Ezek. 45:12 And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs: twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, fifteen shekels, shall be your maneh. Deut. 25:13 Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Deut. 25:14 Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. Deut. 25:15 But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Deut. 25:16 For all that do such things, and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
    (e) Ps. 15:5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
    (f) 1 Cor. 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    (g) Prov. 23:20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: Prov. 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. Prov. 21:20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”

  4. A further comment by me at:

    January 18, 2020 @ 3:05 PM
    Your comment awaits moderation.


    See these few quotes below, showing that the case for the judicial laws as understood by the confessional reformers of the 16/17th is not as ‘clear cut’ as you would like to make it = the reformers were anti-judicial laws in toto or totally anti-theonomy as such. The issue is much more complex, like I said previously, the reformers were a mixture between using Moses judicial laws and/or natural law ideas, not only the one or the other source.

    Once again, no modern day group, the theonomist or the natural law (R)2K group can claim they ‘alone’ build on the confessional reformation and reformers, like I said it is a futile sectarian project trying to read only one view back into the 16/17th centuries, it was much more of a mixed bag.

    Against modern day theonomy one can say the confessional reformed of the 16/17th were not only theonomically orientated, but also natural law orientated, and it must be acknowledged by them and studied more carefully. We have to make sure we really understood what the reformers themselves understand with these two concepts, not read our modern understanding (right or wrong) back into the past.

    Against the modern day (R)2K group, it must be said that many theonomic foundational aspects of the 20/21st century are basically found in the confessional reformed of the 16/17th centuries, and it would be historical ignorance and dishonesty to keep on denying it. Yes, we can agree or disagree with the reformers theocracy, some theonomic ideas, natural law ideas, etc, but we must be honest with history itself, especially if it does not confirm our modern day ideas, which also could be correct (further biblical reformation, as the reformers would welcome themselves = semper reformanda) … or we could be dead wrong because our view of civil government and society are build more on modern enlightenment ideas (sola practica or sola democratica?), and not the Bible itself?

    One thing is very clear: the 20/21st century theonomists are much more in line with the confessional reformed of the 16/17th century in regards to biblical theocracy/christocracy itself, i.e. Jesus is King over Church and State, while (R)2K is in utter denial about that, pleading for a neutral ‘natural law’ state. At least both groups can agree on this.

    Here is a few quotes:

    “In his annotations on Exodus, he says of the second commandment:
    ‘Cum vero hic ordo invereretur, idolatriae et toti isti abhominationi aperta est fenestra’. His comment on the death penalty for striking a parent may serve to capture his attitude: ‘Ecce, quanta puritas divinae legis!’. He was the first major Reformer whose theology made room for the judicial laws of the Old Testament.”

    “Bucer accepts the traditional threefold division of Mosaic law, and pays lip-service to the idea that the judicial law has been abrogated along with the ceremonial.4 But as often as he declares the Christian to be free [160] of it, he adds in the same breath that it is to be kept anyway. The Christian is freed but not loosed; freedom simply means freedom to take it more seriously.5 This extraordinary ambivalence is clearly seen in the De Regno Christi, Bucer’s blueprint for further reformation in England:

    ‘For inasmuch as we have been freed from the teaching of Moses through Christ the Lord, so that it is no longer necessary for us to observe the civil decrees of the law of Moses, namely in terms of the way and the circumstances in which they are described, nevertheless, in so far as the substance and proper end of these commandments are concerned, and especially those which enjoin the discipline that is necessary for the whole commonwealth, whoever does not reckon that such commandments are to be conscientiously observed is certainly not attributing to God either supreme wisdom or a righteous care for our salvation’. There follows Bucer’s recommendation of capital punishment for false teachers, blasphemers, sabbathbreakers, dishonourers of parents, murderers, adulterers, rapists and others. ”

    “However, there is some evidence in favour of Calvin’s acceptance of the Mosaic judicial laws. His exegesis of the Pentateuch tends to assume its validity, but he shows some uneasiness about its acceptance.”

    ‘No Christian commonwealth, no city or kingdom is compelled to be bound and to receive those very same laws…. Therefore every country hath [165] free liberty to use such laws as are best and most requisite…so yet that the substance of God’s laws be not rejected, trodden clown, and utterly neglected, [namely] those…agreeable to the law of nature and the ten commandments, and whatsoever else God hath commanded to be punished’”

    “The judicial laws should be neither abolished, nor totally binding: ‘the safest course is to keepe the meane betweene both’.2 Such laws apply where they qualify as ‘laws of common equity’ by the judgement of [168] ‘natural reason’ and ‘if it serve directly to…confirme any of the ten precepts of the Decalogue: if it serve to maintaine the family, the commonwealth, the church’”

    “It followed from John Knox’s rigorous application of the ’regulative principle’ of Scripture that he accepted the validity of the judicial law. The authority of Scripture is not to be understood ‘of the Decalogue and Law Morall onlie, but of statutis, rytis, and ceremonyis; for equall obedience of all his Lawis requyreth God’.2 In On Predestination Knox supports the burning of Servetus and Joan of Kent by the example of Moses putting the idolaters to death in Leviticus xxiii. Should it be objected, says Knox, that this is incompatible
    with the Kingdom of Christ, ‘himself wil answer, that he is not come to break nor destroy the law of his heavenlie Father’. Again: ‘That God hath appointed death by his law, without mercie, to be executed upon the blasphemers, is evident by that which is written, Leviticus xxiv’.3”

    Source: Moses and the Magistrate, by PDL Avis, see here:

    Click to access Avis.pdf

  5. A further comment by me at:

    January 18, 2020 @ 3:21 PM
    Your comment awaits moderation.


    “Do they (the judicial laws -slc) oblige any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require.”

    Yes, that is a theonomic view, the general equity of the judicial laws continue in it’s essence for today, but not as a ‘body politic’ given specifically for Israel, who was unique.

    See this article: “The Westminster Assembly and the Equity of the Judicial Law”, by Dr. Greg Bahnsen

    So what is the issue today then, what is the modern debate actually about, personalities that has a agenda against each other, because ‘they’ are not in ‘our’ camp?

  6. “”The law of the Sinaitic covenant also served Israel as a rule of life…The civil law is simply the application of the principles of the moral law to the social and civic life of the people in all its ramifications.” (Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pg. 298)

    “Things immutable, and common to all Nations are the laws concerning Moral trespasses, Sins against the Moral law, as murder, adultery, theft, enticing away from God, blasphemy, striking of Parents. Now that the Christian Magistrate is bound to observe these Judicial laws of Moses which appoint the punishments of sins against the Moral law, he proveth by these reasons.

    1. If it were not so, then it is free and arbitrary to the Magistrate to appoint what punishments himself pleaseth. But this is not arbitrary to him, for he is the Minister of God, Rom. 13.4. and the judgment is the Lord’s, Deut. 1.7; 2 Chron. 19.6. And if the Magistrate be Keeper of both Tables, he must keep them in such manner as God hath delivered them to him.

    2. Christ’s words, Matt. 5.17, Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill, are comprehensive of the Judicial law, it being a part of the law of Moses …

    3. If Christ in his Sermon, Matt. 5, would teach that the Moral law belongeth to us Christians, insomuch as he vindicateth it from the false glosses of the Scribes & Pharisees; then he meant to hold forth the Judicial law concerning Moral trespasses as belonging to us also: for he vindicateth and interpreteth the Judicial law, as well as the Moral, Matt. 5.38, An eye for an eye, &c.

    4. If God would have the Moral law transmitted from the Jewish people to the Christian people; then he would also have the Judicial law transmitted from the Jewish Magistrate to the Christian Magistrate: There being the same reason of immutability in the punishments, which is in the offences; Idolatry and Adultery displeaseth God now as much as then; and Theft displeaseth God now no more than before.

    5. Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, Rom. 15.4, and what shall the Christian Magistrate learn from those Judicial laws, but the will of God to be his rule in like cases? The Ceremonial law was written for our learning, that we might know the fulfilling of all those Types, but the Judicial law was not Typical.

    6. Do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. 10.31; Matt. 5.16. How shall Christian Magistrates glorify God more than by observing God’s own laws, as most just, and such as they cannot make better?

    7. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14.23. Now when the Christian Magistrate punisheth sins against the Moral law, if he do this in faith and in assurance of pleasing God, he must have his assurance from the Word of God, for faith can build upon no other foundation: it is the Word which must assure the Conscience, God has commanded such a thing, therefore it is my duty to do it, God hath not forbidden such a thing, therefore I am free to do it. But the will of God concerning Civil justice and punishments is no where so fully and clearly revealed as in the Judicial law of Moses. This therefore must be the surest prop and stay to the conscience of the Christian Magistrate.

    Though we have clear and full scriptures in the New Testament for abolishing the Ceremonial law, yet we nowhere read in all the New Testament of the abolishing of the Judicial law, so far as it did concern the punishing of sins against the Moral law, of which Heresy and seducing of souls is one, and a great one. Once God did reveal his will for punishing those sins by such and such punishments. He who will hold that the Christian Magistrate is not bound to inflict such punishments for such sins, is bound to prove that those former laws of God are abolished, and to shew some scripture for it.
    —George Gillespie, Wholesome Severity Reconciled With Christian Liberty, 1644.

    “I heartily yield that a lawful magistrate, whether Christian or heathen, ought to be a keeper or guardian of both tables; and, as God’s vicegerent, hath authority to punish heinous sins against either table, by civil or corporal punishments …”

    George Gillespie, Aaron’s Rod Blossoming

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: