While there are several books on Theonomy, there was still a great need for something clear, simple, direct, updated, and both at an introductory level and yet somewhat comprehensive regarding the most important and debated issues. I think I have filled that need with The Bounds of Love: An Introduction to God’s Law of Liberty.
The Bounds of Love is released today, and is available as an introductory offer for $9.95 with FREE shipping until Sunday night, March 6, 2016 (use discount code: theonomy at checkout)
While there are, as I said, tons of Theonomy books already, there have always been some outstanding questions that I felt have never really been addressed directly—at least not to my satisfaction. In conjunction with my studies for the Worldview Study Bible (still forthcoming), I’ve had to tackle the toughest passages head-on. The theological framework that has developed from that study have led me to answer some of the outstanding questions as well as revise a few of my previously held views. I’ll give you the bottom line here, and you can read the exegesis and explanations in the book (and I assure you that you will be blessed by doing so):
Contrary to what usually been merely assumed, I do not believe civil government has authority to punish First Table offenses under the New Testament administration. While I was not completely settled on these questions before, I am now. The book explains why.
Contrary to my own previous views on sodomy and adultery, I do not believe the death penalty continues for these under the New Testament administration. This applies also to certain other forms of incest and sexual perversion punishable under the Old Covenant. I do not believe the civil government has any jurisdiction here and should be out of the marriage business altogether. The book explains why.
But yes, God’s law still continues in many ways, still binds modern governments in many ways, and yes, it does so in a glorious way that creates the only standard for a society of liberty. For example, murderers, rapists, and kidnappers ought to be executed; but the modern prison-industrial complex ought to be abolished.
Why the title? Simple: Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others all teach that love fulfills the law, and that if you wish to love, you will follow the law. Love is the law fulfilled, and the law is love exemplified. Love is not an emotion, it is a way of life. God’s law explains to us in various situations what the loving thing to do is. Thus, the law gives us the boundaries of what is love and what is not. The book explains both sides of this: love and law.
My views against punishing First Table offenses puts me at odds with those who use the label “Theonomy” in regard merely to continuing the sixteenth century and original confessional settlements that empower the civil magistrate in these areas. I do not believe there is nearly as much overlap and similarity between biblical Theonomy, as I have exegeted it, and those attempting to continue those traditions. I have a whole chapter explaining why those civil standards, including Luther, Calvin, and some of the Divines and Covenanters, are not God’s law but Roman law.
While theonomists and our critics have often defaulted to Bahnsen’s phrase “the abiding validity of the law in exhaustive detail,” few have taken the time to take Bahnsen’s many qualifications of that very seriously. Bahnsen himself did not even get to provide much specific exegesis in this regard.
Bahnsen’s other well-known principle is that a law should continue unless it is explicitly repealed in the New Testament. While I have often used this phrase as well, I have always understood it only to be a simplistic shorthand for lots of hermeneutical work that needed to follow. Even Bahnsen did not get the chance to develop it the way he wanted to.
The outstanding issue in any discussion of God’s law is that of continuity and discontinuity. Both are clearly taught in the New Testament. The book explains this. Where to draw the lines between the two is the toughest question. I have developed Bahnsen’s more simplistic principle by arguing that not just certain laws are explicitly repealed, but that certain types of laws are clearly repealed, and this means many are repealed or altered which are not mentioned individually. The book explains which ones and why.
Only a tiny handful of scholars have exegeted the texts with an eye to developing what abides and what does not. These include Gary North, James Jordan, and Vern Poythress. I value all highly. I have built the hermeneutical chapters in this book on North’s conclusions in his commentary on Leviticus (vol. 3), which I have referenced many times. I develop his views further in this book.
As you can see from the contents below, I also address openly what a theonomic society would really look like, and how such a society can and will come to pass—questions that students and critics alike often ask.
In short, I am very proud of this new book. I think it meets a need for a short, clear, and updated introduction for students of all ages, as well as an important and badly needed clarification and corrective for the old guard. I was very honored to have Dr. Frame endorse it as “written with exceptional clarity” and offering an attractive portrait of God’s law in society. I think you will all be blessed by reading it, and I think it will set the stage for many great developments moving forward. I’m already planning them.
Because I want you to read this book so strongly, I am making this great introductory offer. Purchase your copy before it’s too late.