Does postmillennialism make theonomy a 5th wheel?

Theonomists seek to alleviate secularists’ fears of an armed theocratic take-over which will institute God’s law by saying, “It will happen when the gospel takes wide effect.”  In other words, they won’t be imposing a Shariah-type law because most of the populace will be Christian and will gladly accept it.

I grant that they make such a distinction.  I just don’t think it matters.   If postmillennialism ends up being true and the people accept Christ and Christ gives them His Spirit, then what’s the deal with the law anyway?  You already have a godly society.  There are Christians today who are very godly yet reject theonomy.   Banner of Truth, for one.  The point is this:  if the only way in which “godly law” will be instituted is when most of the populace is Christian, then why are you even focused on reconstruction?  By your own admission you can’t do anything about it in the near, foreseeable future. And if society is converted, then they are going to be living godlily (sp?), Moses’s law or not.

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7 comments on “Does postmillennialism make theonomy a 5th wheel?

  1. This is a good point. Also, reason and Scripture suggest to me that in accepting the gospel, people will accept the grace of God, not Old Testament Law. I recognize, of course, that God will write His laws on the hearts of all true Christians.

    Reconstructionist theonomists turn to the Law for not only guidance, but specific instructions in areas such as government, criminal law, and the economy. The Old Testament provides typology and guidance, which will be needed to replace secular presuppositions & methods. That said, since God showed us mercy through Jesus’ sacrifice, I don’t think we need to be stoning people to death and things like that. We must choose between Law and grace because they are opposing principles.

    The Law was made for sinners. Therefore, as more people come to Christ, we will have less need of laws, not more.

    • Quote: If postmillennialism ends up being true and the people accept Christ and Christ gives them His Spirit, then what’s the deal with the law anyway? You already have a godly society.

      Answer: God’s Law stands immutable and universally binding, regardless of how many or how few accept it and obey it at any point in time, past, present, or future. And how could you even have a “godly society” without the presence of God’s law as a measuring stick between “godly” and “ungodly”?

      Are you seriously implying that a future “godly society” has less need for God’s law than an ungodly society? Perhaps less of a need to enforce many of its capital civil statues, since there would be less criminals. But a gradual decrease of civil enforcement should not mean a corresponding decrease in the requirement to have those civil laws in the first place. If everybody decided to obey the speed limit, should the civil government then abolish speed limits? Or keep those limits around in case there might be a few speeding drivers?

      More importantly, does the civil magistrate even have a choice about which moral/civil laws to keep, or abolish, or ignore? Even in a future “godly society”?

      • I’m not implying a godly society has no need for God’s law. My point was in asking why make a big deal out of theonomy now when its only going to matter after the Christianization of society has begun? Even theonomists implicitly concede this point.

    • Quote: We must choose between Law and grace because they are opposing principles.

      Actually they are complimentary principles. For example, the OT law commanded that mercy be shown. That is why Jesus had once rebuked the Pharisees for not showing mercy when the OT law demanded it. He even called mercy one of the “weightier matters of the law”. (Matt 12:1-7; Matt 23:23)

      And grace cannot exist at all without some kind of law. God showed us grace only because there was a law which demanded death for breaking it and He graciously provided a substitute to pay the penalty. IOW there would be no grace if there wasn’t first God’s demanding law. God’s law itself is one of His greatest graces He bestowed upon men. (Deut 4:6-8)(Psa 1:1-3).

      A good book on this topic is, The Grace of Law: A Study of Puritan Theology by Ernest Kevan.

  2. Quote: There are Christians today who are very godly yet reject theonomy. Banner of Truth, for one.

    BoT doesn’t really “reject Theonomy”, at least not consistently. BoT is simply living on the borrowed capital of a post-Theonomic society. (recall the vantillian story of the little girl on grandpa’s knees while she is trying to slap his face). For BoT to consistently reject Theonomy would entail them all to move to a place like anti-Christian North Korea and to defend it as the ideal nation for all Christians to live in. But instead BoT prefers to live in pro-Christian western nations who historically follow God’s law more so than atheistic nations.

    Still, it would be nice if BoT had as much an interest in reprinting Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex book as it does in reprinting His Letters. Or an interest in any other puritan’s social-political writings (which are legion). I think the closest they came was when they reprinted The Sermons on the Great Ejection of 1660.

    But we will always have need for the spiritual emphasis of personal piety provided by the puritan reprints done by BoT. And for that we will always be grateful to God.

  3. Quote:The point is this: if the only way in which “godly law” will be instituted is when most of the populace is Christian, then why are you even focused on reconstruction? By your own admission you can’t do anything about it in the near, foreseeable future. And if society is converted, then they are going to be living godlily (sp?), Moses’s law or not.

    Answer: Again, how does one know when a future society is even “godly”, without Moses’s law? (properly: God’s moral law). IOW God’s law is the final standard of internal and external godliness.

    As for “Reconstruction”, this is always a gradual thing, much like personal sanctification is. In fact both terms are synonymous. Every person, family, institution, and civil government is in need of moral reconstruction by God’s law, regardless of whether it can be accomplished in the “near, foreseeable future” or not. A negative eschatology is not a valid excuse for ignoring God’s law, politically or personally.

    BTW in a premillennial future kingdom, will there be any use for a civil enforcement of God’s law? Or will Jesus once back on earth, just force everybody and every nation to obey Him for a 1000 years? And if so, what law would they be obeying exactly?

  4. Colin the conquerer says:

    Quote:My point was in asking why make a big deal out of theonomy now when its only going to matter after the Christianization of society has begun? Even theonomists implicitly concede this point.

    Quick answer: The rise of secular humanism in society, and the spread of dispensationalist hermeneutics and ethics in churches (including Reformed churches) had prompted a necessary defense of reformed covenant theology and the continuing validity of God’s law.

    And Theonomy matters now, not necessarily only in some future Christianized society. God’s law is useful (2 TIm 3:16-17) today for personal and family and ecclesiastical matters. Its not always about national political ethics.

    Its usually the critics who want to make a big deal out of the use of Biblical penology, more so than the Theonomists. But God’s moral law is much broader than that.

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