But whereas theocracy is not biblical, theonomy is. There has always been a separation of powers--the sacred and the secular--in the Bible. Both Testaments present two spheres of authority. When Jesus said to give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what belongs to Him; He was not speaking a new truth. Rather, He was applying an old truth. While there are two spheres of authority--sacred and secular or church and state--both of these spheres should be ruled according to God’s Law. And that’s what theonomy means: God’s Law.
The following is a short respectful dialogue concerning theonomy. My friend’s words are bold and italicized for clarity. May God add His blessing to your reading.
**********************************The closer we get to Dominion Theology, the closer we get to living by the sword. Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world my disciples would fight."
I don't find Piper's treatment of theonomy, in this short article, to be accurate. The theonomists with whom I am familiar are in no way in favor of putting "the sword into the hands of the priests."
The New Testament recognizes the distinction between the church and the state, as does the Old Testament. Typically, kings were not priests (remember King Saul's sin in offering a sacrifice) and priests were not kings. Thus, the distinct spheres of church and state are not new with the New Testament.
However, theonomy does biblically state that civil government is to act as God's minister or servant (c.f. Rom 13). The government or magistrate is to punish evil and reward good. The question is: How does the government, as God's servant, know what is "good" and what is "evil"? The theonomist insists that God's Law [not man's autonomous "law"] is the standard by which civil government should rule.
A good book on this subject is "By This Standard" by Greg Bahnsen.
Well, Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world; if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight. In fact, when Peter tried to use his sword, Jesus had to tell him to put it away. The way I see it, civil government is not the issue here. We can be living in a peaceful nation that is still not a Christian nation...besides, some governments are good and some governments are bad.
There's no conflating the two kingdoms. Theonomy recognizes the distinction between the church [the power of the keys] and the state [the power of the sword], as do both Testaments of scripture.
While we recognize two spheres, church and civil, we also affirm that Christ is LORD over both spheres. The civil magistrate is under the authority of the LORD Christ [though the magistrate may not acknowledge this fact]. That is, the power of the government is NOT absolute.
The power of civil government is derivative. Civil government gets its authority from God, as God's servant [Ro 13], and is accountable to God for how it uses the granted powers. (Recall Christ's words to Pilate: "You could have no authority at all unless it had been given to you from above.")
Because civil government gets its authority from God and is answerable to Him, the civil government OUGHT to govern righteously. That is, the magistrate OUGHT to punish "evil" and reward "good." What determines "good" and "evil"? Majority vote? Hardly! The whims of a dictator? Not at all.
God Himself determines "good" and "evil." Therefore, civil authorities OUGHT to rule according to the Law of God. All laws or statutes are moral [or immoral]. The further a civil government moves away from God's Law, becoming an absolute "law" unto itself, the more immoral that government, and that nation, become.
Yes, "some governments are good and some governments are bad." But, "good" or "bad" based upon what standard? What objective standard for "good" or "bad" do we have, if not God's Law?
Well, I just posted a story about a "bad government"...and the death of many believers...etc.
Yes, I ran across this story the other day. Tragic. Thanks for posting it. We must pray daily for God to preserve and protect, to deliver from evil, our persecuted brethren. I pray that God will save their loved ones and their adversaries; and that His Gospel will banish all the godless philosophies of men which war against Him.