Dominion Rule or Life as Sacrament?

Good News for all the world

This blog posting is a response to Erik’s excellent comment to the previous blog posting “An Orthodox Critique of the Cultural/Dominion Mandate.”  Thank you Erik for contributing to the Reform-Orthodox dialogue!

From Erik:

As for the key to CR, Rushdoony states that “Because we are not God, for us the decisive power in society must be the regenerating power of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us. Not revolution but regeneration, not coercion but conversion, is our way of changing the world and furthering the Kingdom of God. This is the heart of Christian reconstruction.” In this light Christian dominance, or Christians being the predominate force in all society or in every sphere, is not the means or even the end sought in and of itself but is simply the by-product of God’s sovereignty in a redeemed society. In other words it is the outworking or effect of a nation observing what Christ has commanded. It just stands to reason that if a society is mostly Christian they are going to elect Christian magistrates to govern said society; Christian rulers (like all Christians) in turn are obligated to submit to Christ’s authority and only sanction or institute laws He has ordained (e.g. outlawing things like murder, adultery, theft, etc.).


Erik, your summary of Rushdoony and noting that regeneration trumps governmental coercion is refreshing. I have made this point many times to those accusing Theonomists of a sort of Islamic Jihad mentality. Besides, Protestants do not give their clergy social power over the State. Also, from a Protestant perspective, your progression from God’s monergistic regeneration of people–who grow into a Christian community-and elect Theonomic magistrates-and build the Shining City on a Hill is an easy flow. The primary thing an Orthodox would find missing here – is the two thousand years of Orthodox doctrine and praxis, jettisoned by the Reformation. As we will see below, the whole Dominion mentality has decidedly Western roots and recent origin – not rooted in the soil of the Early Church, Desert Fathers, Church Councils, or the Liturgical and Sacramental life of the Church.  Bear with me as I try to explain.

There comes a point in many discussions or debates where one realizes they can no longer keep the issue at hand truncated from a broader picture. Responding to you has forced this reality. The issues surrounding Dominion, Reconstruction and Theonomy cannot be truncated away from other more fundamental theological matters which lay at the root of the Protestant Reformation. We could continue to quibble about the exegesis of verses here and there, or which verses best make dominion and post-mil points. We could niggle about how much natural law and natural revelation effect the General Equity of the Law. Yet ultimately, we come to that place where we must realize these issues are connected to other issues more central to the Faith once delivered to the saints.

You most likely believe the Protestant Reformers were right to rebel from the corrupt Roman Catholicism of the late middle ages. Agreeing with you at this point, however, does not begin to address where the Reformers should have looked after repudiating Roman corruption. Nor does leaving Rome address the new doctrinal spins on theology, or the fragmenting denominationalism that arose from some of their fundamental commitments.

It has often been quipped the Protestant Reformation “threw the baby out with the bath water”.  So before moving too quickly to social & civil realms of Dominion, Law and Reconstruction, we might consider more of the substance of just “what-baby-was-in-the-bath-water” that got thrown out. Though we will not pretend here to elucidate the whole of what all was lost, allow me a few observations.

First, the Reformers did not simply reject the sale of indulgences, papal authoritarianism, purgatory, icons and the veneration of Mary as Theotokos. Even the most modest of magisterial reformers would evolve and ultimately reject most of the Sacraments of the historic Church East & West – and remove them from their central place in the worship and liturgy of the Church gathered. That expository or exegetical sermons and bible instruction would ascend to the central place, and crowd out the former is indisputable. A few short decades would begin to show the Protestant Church primarily as a place for bible instruction and learning, with minimal accessories. Gone were the icon, incense, as were the centuries old prayers and rituals and ornate liturgies of the historic East or West.

These same Reformers would go on to reject and replace the episcopal structure of Church government. This would include the sacred historic place of Apostolic succession connecting Church leadership with the Apostles themselves through the laying on of hands. These are no small things – with no incidental ripple-effects for the culture at large.

Note again, there is more here than just rejecting papal authority. Not only was the whole system of liturgical and sacramental worship of the Roman Catholic Church rejected.  The 1,000+ history of Orthodox Byzantium and Russian Church history, Liturgy & Sacramentalism was also rejected. Essentially (despite some extensive borrowing that would creep back in later) ecclesiastical history was wiped clean – only to be pieced back together by some Reformers in various ways. The Anabaptist would do little or no piecing back and were oddly forced to wear the label  “Revolutionary”. This includes, of course, largely rejecting the early Church Fathers, Councils, Scriptures (Bible), part of the Creed and Orthodox Holy Tradition. Luther and most ‘magisterial Reformers’ would try to distance themselves from the Anabaptists, even making war on them. But here is the salient point, from a cultural and historic perspective – the mental paradigm was broken in a revolutionary way. At the root of Protestant cultural life the Anabaptists were simply more thorough, consistent and radical  Revolutionaries than their more modest and popular Revolutionary first-cousins.

As for Dominion, Reconstruction and Theonomy, we see what ultimately happens when historic Liturgical and Sacramental Worship is expelled from the Church – they also lost the Liturgical and Sacramental Life in the civil realm as well. However unintended it might have been, this marked the beginning of the secularization of Western culture. Subsequent Protestants project(s) of theological-minimalism and reducing The Faith to various lowest common denominators began. What did this do to life in the polis? What did this do to vocation, and ultimately the very telos or purpose of man on earth?

Reformed Christians have been zealous to mend the breach ripped opened by this truncating of life. But by making the sermon and bible knowledge substitute for the Saints, the ancient calendar, the writings of the desert Fathers, the whole place and importance of suffering, dying to self in the ascetic life, the centrality of the Sacraments — have been a losing cause.

Protestant Christian Man now stood in the public square without the secure and ancient ecclesiastical moorings. Increasingly, this was a culture without mystery. With a fresh new work ethic he might now be increasingly Individual-man, or, Productive-man, Legal-man Medical-man, Engineering-man, Family-man  . . . .  on and on. But there is little place left in Protestantism for Sacramental-man. Some have argued that the Reformation, by its rejection and loss of the Sacraments – secularized all life, especially life outside the ecclesial realm. The loss here (though difficult to articulate in ways easy for a Western protestant mentality to grasp) is far greater than many have realized. Indeed, the partial realization of this loss is likely behind Federal Vision theology and Jordan and Leithart’s rediscovery of Sacramentalism in the writing of Alexander Schumemann, Vladimir Lossky, John Zizioulas and other Orthodox and Roman Catholic writers. Sadly, their solution was to sew their favorite selected liturgical quilted-patch on to their new Protestantism to make it more historic. It is destined to fray and rip apart.

The de-sacramentalism of Worship would ultimately de-sacramentalize all Creation (nature). The loss of liturgical & sacramental life at the heart of the public square and polis was in the mix, lurking secretly in the recipe of the loss of liturgical & sacramental worship at the heart Protestantism. Gone also from the life of the Christian is all asceticism and battle with the passions – especially if these involve prolonged and historic sacred fasts. I do not recall ever seeing quotes like these in the writings of my favorite Theonomists.

Seek within yourself the reason for every passion, and finding it, arm yourself and dig out its root with the sword of suffering. And if you do not uproot it, again it will push out sprouts and grow. Without this means you cannot conquer passions, come to purity, and be saved. Therefore, if we desire to be saved, we must cut off the first impulse of the thought and desire of every passion. St. Paisy of Neamt

Or, article like this one recently making the Orthodox rounds: What Can We Do to Nourish Our Experience of the Transfiguration of Christ?  

The ascetic struggle with the passions or any zeal to enter into the deeper spiritual life of the Faith are absent, or ridiculed as childish pietism in most theonomic and Recon circles. Such striving after Christ is dismissed – relegated to a Legal category.

When we compare Rushdoony’s writing with that of the early Church Fathers, what is strikingly absent is the sense of mystery.  Rushdoony and his followers have much to say about God and His law-word, life in the legal and judicial realm. But where is the Eucharist wherein we receive the Body and Blood of Christ?  Where is the blessing?  In Genesis 1:28 and 2:3 we read that God blessed Adam and Eve, and the Seventh Day.  These blessings marked the climax of creation.  Then we read in Mark 14:22 that at the Last Supper Jesus blessed the bread.  The act of blessing turns “mere” matter into a means of divine grace.  God intended creation to be sacramental, a means of grace in which we come to know God’s love and goodness and to share in the life of the Trinity.  For this reason the Liturgy (the work of the people) lies at the heart of the Church.  The Liturgy reconciles fallen humanity to God and restores fallen matter to its original calling to be a manifestation of God’s love and goodness.  Alexander Schmemann argued that the “original sin” consisted not so much in disobedience to the divine command but rather that man ceased to hunger for God, to live life as communion with God.

In our perspective, however, the “original” sin is not primarily that man has “disobeyed” God; the sin is that he ceased to be hungry for Him and for Him alone, ceased to see his whole life depending on the whole world as a sacrament of communion with God. The sin was not that man neglected his religious duties. The sin was that he thought of God in terms of religion, i.e., opposing Him to life. The only real fall of man is his non-eucharistic life in a noneucharistic world. The fall is not that he preferred world to God, distorted the balance between spiritual and material, but that he made the world “material”, whereas he was to have transformed it into “life in God”, filled with meaning and spirit.  [Source]

Orthodox Byzantium would know and develop the concept of a Symphony – the holy  cooperation between the Civil realm and the Ecclesiastical realm. Yet it did so without any sense of de-sacramentalizing either realm, and ending with a Cartesian rationalism that altogether demystifies true Christian Faith, and secularizes Life. This is why we appeal to the fullness of Orthodoxy. Rather than minimalism and reduction – Orthodoxy maximalizes the full depth and richness of The Faith, once for all delivered to the Saints.

“Come and see!”

David Rockett and Robert Arakaki

David Rockett was an elected Elder at two dynamic Reconstructionist churches for thirty years.



  1. Great article with some great points, there’s actually not a lot to dispute with here because my main take away from this article is that most of your critique actually seems to center on problems with Protestantism in general rather than with CR/Theonomy itself. Even though the CR camp arose from Reformed denominations in the West, and this was of course out of a need to combat the continuing extremes of Western secularization and humanism becoming dominant, I do not see that its premise or operating assumptions are something necessarily restricted to Reformed theology or the West in general. For example, I read up on the Orthodox concept of Symphony and that Transfiguration article link and I only have more respect for Orthodox thinking on the matter. If the Symphonia Theory is defined as a church/state relationship in which each focuses on their areas of prescribed authority while at the same time giving mutual respect and cooperation to the other, then count me in because it shares that hallmark with CR. For example, these quotes below from the sources you recommended exactly mirror what is generally advocated for in any CR book.

    Fr. Dubois:
    “Having been sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have the…responsibility of transforming society around us… and… to change the spiritual and moral standards of society” (CR in a nutshell)

    Fr. Hopko:
    “Orthodox Christians accept certain rules of behavior as normative and binding not because they consider them as universally applicable to human beings regardless of their beliefs and conditions, but because they believe them to be commanded by the living God” (Here you see the similar CR rejection of modern iterations of natural law and then promoting what is essentially the standard of theonomy)

    “Orthodox Christians are obliged to reflect together on what love for God in Christ and the Holy Spirit requires of believers. We are called to consider in common what God commands each one of us to do. We are especially obliged to do this in respect to specific issues, such as those involving nations and lands, properties and possessions, goods and services, sickness and health, life and death, sexuality and family life, and the use of money, resources and power, which in recent years have become extremely complicated due to social, political, economic, scientific, technological, and legal changes and developments.” (Wow, it’s like Fr. Hopko is channeling or plagiarizing text from Rushdoony or Bahnsen)

    “Without effective Orthodox Christian thinkers and activists in the political structure, the Church is reduced to a mere spectator, forcing her to become disconnected with the world in which she resides.” (I’m looking at you pre-millennial dispensationalists)

    Perhaps the main problem you have with CR, and I think you touch on this, is not so much with theonomy or dominionism per se but that they are basically trying to put the cart before the horse. In other words, theonomy cannot effectively be the standard for society at large until the church and believers get their house in order first. Now CR authors actually agree to this point but faltered on how to effectively right the ship. Some looked to the Puritans, some looked to an Abrahamic-like tribal patriarchalism, and others have looked to find moorings in the liturgy and sacramentalism of the early church. That is why many CRs end up in EO or Continuing Anglicanism. For example, I belong to a Continuing Anglican denomination that uses the Sarum Rite, the same rite that is used by some Western Rite Orthodox churches. Not to belie some very real doctrinal or praxeological issues, but overall I have to agree that many CRs and Protestant adherents suffer from a flawed ecclesiology.

    You comment that there “comes a point in many discussions or debates where one realizes they can no longer keep the issue at hand truncated from a broader picture.” This is actually one of the things CR sought to address in Western churches. Rather than truncate the gospel to individual salvation and experience, it sought to reestablish the covenantal and recreation aspects of the gospel that should influence society at large. Moreover, its big picture question can be summed up with a phrase I will borrow from Rushdoony – By What Standard? What standard do you use to judge whether a law or anything else is just or right? If you say that one must begin with God’s Word and His precepts, then that is theonomy. If in turn you say that our relationship with God and the teachings of His Word should influence every aspect of our life and society, then that is CR. On the other hand if you say that one should begin with experience and reason, then that is autonomous humanism. Hence the antithesis pushed in CR is whether one will choose theonomy or autonomy.

    Beginning with the individual and the family, and then moving on to the church and society, CR argues that as “we grow in grace, we become a blessing to the world around us, and the world, in terms of its relations to us, is blessed or cursed. This means that the politics of the world capitals, however important, is not as determinative of the future as the faithfulness of the covenant people to their God and to His covenant law-word. When history wallows needlessly in the seas of politics, it is simply because the rudder of the ship, the Christian, is giving no direction and is neither a curse nor a blessing, only salt which has lost its savor and is good for nothing except to be thrown out on the road of history” (Rushdoony). In another place he contends that “Law is good, proper, and essential in its place, but law can save no man, nor can law remake man and society.”

    On a side note about icons, here is a Rushdoony quote that will probably blow your mind:
    “If the Incarnation is real, it can be portrayed; an unreal incarnation, one that is “merely phantastic,” cannot be depicted. Put in modern terms a true and real Christ can be photographed; a mythical one cannot. The second point is equally valid. Honor paid to the portrait is honor paid to the one portrayed.”

    1. Erik,

      Interesting quote by Rushdoony about icon! Do you know the source?

      It is evident that you put a lot of thought into this response; I’ll let David respond to it.


      1. It is in Rush’s book *Foundations of Social Order,* the chapter on the 7th Ecumenical Council. Rush’s thoughts on icons are hard to decipher. On one hand, as above, he approves iconic art, but on the other hand he rejects a lot of the 7th council.

    2. Hey Eric,

      Thank you Erik for your kind and thoughtful response. It is certainly true the differences Orthodoxy has with throwback Scot-Puritan Covenanters, Charismatic-Pentecostals, and Continuing Anglican “Reconstructionists” are a tad different from each other! Anastasios also caught me in a “protestant do/think” slip – as IF there is uniformity!

      I do pray there is less and less any grand dispute between us. Yet a few issues should be further clarified. You say that “I do not see that its [Dominion/Re-construction] premise or operating assumptions are something necessarily restricted to Reformed theology or the West in general”. It is true that Bahnsen’s idea of “the abiding validity of the Mosaic law in exhaustive detail” rarely describes or articulates Theonomy as it once did. This, as they say, has died the death of a thousand qualifications and nuances the last three decades. It also might be easy to imagine an Orthodox Magistrate (King), in his zeal for true Symphony with wise Ecclesiastical Orthodox counsel, might land in a similar place in applying the “general equity” of the law in his civil jurisprudence (Justinian’s code) – as would Continuing Anglican Theonomists. After all, if I recall correctly, Rushdoony’s world history tapes had nothing but good to say about the thousand years of Byzantium. So let me set Covenanter and Pentecostal “Theonomists” aside to address problems Orthodox might be have with Continuing Anglican Theonomists and perhaps magisterial reformers.

      While we are closer to each other than the a fore mentioned, Orthodox magistrates (as with all Orthodoxy) of necessity would at best be only an incidental theonomist. Though he rules in the civil realm, it is secondary, not primary even to the King. His primary telos in this life is Theosis – union with God by Holy Spirit within the Liturgical Life and Sacraments of the Church. The civil realm is never primary – not even a legitimate “secular” realm. Orthodoxy’s appeal to the center of Worship (and therefore the center of Life) being Sacramental and Liturgical, is by default a rejection of the root of Protestantism. We do not sanctify the secular with bible verses in the corner of our paintings and photographs. Indeed, Orthodoxy sacramentalizes and thus swallows the secular realm altogether. One can almost hear a would be Orthodox Rushdoony say, as man becomes truly human (anthropos per his heavenly gaze) in his union with God via his sacramental life in the Spirit – he of necessity extends such a life to make all Creation sacramental. Almost.
      None of this, of course, happens apart from the life and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the very Body of Christ in creation. Sacramentalism, at best, yields an incidental theonomist whose primary focus is not law, legislation and dominion rule over the nations. His telos is in God, via the Church.

      Admittedly, this is not an easily grasped mindset for a modern western Protestants. Modern libertarians might gasp that such a sacramentalization of Life, swallowing up the so-called “Secular” realm, would results in lost productivity – lowering the utilitarian sense of “progress”, Gross Domestic Product, and standard of living! Perhaps, but maybe not. As the work-and-prayer day becomes intermingled, mankind might become far more productive. Indeed, as such a culture matures, the vast amounts of time & wealth devoted to legal governmental realms, courts, prisons, military techno-weapons expense, global armies, etc – might be diverted to the arts, houses of worship and the beautification (dressing & keeping) of Creation. What would such an up-dated Byzantium look like in the US, China, or Africa – filled with thousands of modest self-reliant Orthodox communities, manicured gardens and glorious Churches?

      The Orthodox point here is that such a world and civil order is never primary, but itself an incidental by-product of the sacramental life and liturgy in the Church. The Theosis of Man IS the redemption of the World (Romans 8:18ff)! It is a pipe-dream for even the best and most sincere of our Protestant brothers to believe they can on the one hand repudiate the historic sacra-mental center of Worship the Church inherited from the Apostles and Fathers – but on the other hand acquire a piety in the civil or secular realm by theonomic social activism. The sacraments must be restored to the center as the Fathers and Church Councils have instructed. The Baby in the bathwater the magisterial reformers threw out must be reclaimed along with all the Holy Spirit taught the Fathers. One’s favorite liturgical patches will not do, but further rip the fabric of life apart.

      Consider a few of Fr Alexander Schmemann’s on point remarks some emphasis added.

      “In the tradition of the Church, nothing has changed. What has changed is the perception of the eucharist, the perception of its very essence. Essentially, this crisis consists in the lack of connection and cohesion between what is accomplished in the eucharist and how it is perceived, understood and lived… That schizophrenia that poisons the life of the church and undermines its very foundations has come to be seen as a normal state.”

      “…It is frightening above all because it is characterized by a mounting rebellion against God and his kingdom…At a certain point, western Christianity accepted this point of view: almost at once one or another “theology of liberation” was born. Issues relating to economics, politics and psychology have replaced a Christian vision of the world at the service of God. Theologians, clergy and other professional “religious” run busily around the world defending—from God?–this or that “right,” however perverse, and all this in the name of peace, unity and brotherhood.”

      “Perhaps many people will be astonished that, in response to this crisis, I propose that we turn our attention not to its various aspects but rather to the sacrament of the eucharist and to the Church, whose very life flows from that sacrament.” (The Eucharist, pp 9-10)

      “These issues are none other than secularism—the progressive and rapid alienation of our culture, of its very foundation, from the Christian experience and “world view” which initially shaped that culture—and the deep polarization which secularism has provoked among Christians themselves. Indeed, while some seem to welcome secularism as the best fruit of Christianity in history, some others find in it the justification for an almost Manichaean rejection of the world, for an escape into a disincarnate and dualistic “spirituality.” (For The Life Of The World, pp 7-8)

      So, what we are saying is that the Fall in Genesis 3 was a profoundly secularizing event. Creation which was originally intended to manifest God’s glory became opaque. Food became a possession and not a gift. When food became an energy source, saying grace became a superfluous gesture. Politics became a matter of power, and law the result of human reason detached from divine wisdom. In the Old Testament Torah was understood not as raw law but in terms of wisdom. To keep the commandments was to be shaped by the divine wisdom in preparation for the coming of Christ. When Christ came in the flesh he did not just give a new set of teachings as he gave his life on behalf of all for the life of the world. He died that we may live in him. Therefore, salvation is not so much following theonomic-law as it is to be joined to Jesus Christ the way to the Father and who gives us the Holy Spirit. In the Liturgy we experience the Kingdom of God, we are transformed through the receiving of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist. This life in Christ not only transforms us but spills over into other aspect of our lives, our family, our society, and even our politics. With respect to symphonia, the harmony between the civil and the ecclesial realm, I think it is more of a glimpse of the age to come. Fr. Stephen Freeman’s “long defeat” is a helpful reminder that any victory in Christ come from a long suffering, striving, defeat is something we need to give thought to. Fr. Stephen writes:

      “The narrative was rewritten in the modern era – particularly during the 19th century. The Kingdom of God was transferred from apocalyptic hope (the end of the long defeat) to a material goal to be achieved in this world. This was a heresy, a radical revision of Christian thought. It became secularized and moderated into mere progress. It is worth doing a word study on the history of the word “progressive.”

      Theonomic thought – detached from the Eucharist – is often vulnerable to modern progressivist and triumphalist ways of thinking. We all must be mindful of the fact that God’s victory over sin, death, and the Devil, and the redemption of the cosmos was accomplished on the Cross and the Resurrection, and that Christ’s victory is revealed every Sunday in the Eucharist.

      I’m sure you have much to think about, so think it through and let’s continue the conversation. God keep you brother, and Lord, have mercy on us all.

      1. I feel like we’re starting to talk past each other a little at this point because I note that some of the counterpoints you offer are reiterating what I have already agreed with or conceded in earlier posts. Also, like Robert’s original post above, you seem to be focusing more on the Protestant failings that can be associated with CR/T rather than the paradigm itself.
        For example:
        “The civil realm is never primary – not even a legitimate “secular” realm. Orthodoxy’s appeal to the center of Worship (and therefore the center of Life) being Sacramental and Liturgical, is by default a rejection of the root of Protestantism… The sacraments must be restored to the center as the Fathers and Church Councils have instructed.”
        I agree, there is no sacra-secular dichotomy, whatever a Christian is engaged in (worship, employment, family life, etc.) is first and foremost done for the “glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). As for worship, I’ve conceded that it is for this reason that many CRs have ended up in EO or Continuing Anglicanism because they realize that any ‘reconstruction’ efforts must first flow from a proper ecclesiology, to include a sacramentally (Eucharist focused) and liturgically grounded orthodox-historic-Biblical worship. The Church is now the expanded and borderless Israel, and it is the worship and operations within this improved iteration of Israel that must first transform and grow believers in order that they may serve as a light to the un-discipled gentile nations.

        “The Orthodox point here is that such a world and civil order is never primary, but itself an incidental by-product of the sacramental life and liturgy in the Church… Therefore, salvation is not so much following theonomic-law as it is to be joined to Jesus Christ”
        Exactly, I’m not sure how this differs from my comment that Christians being the predominate force in a society is not the means or even the end sought, but is simply the by-product of God’s sovereignty in a redeemed society. “Law is good, proper, and essential in its place, but law can save no man, nor can law remake man and society.” The redemption of man, along with the rest of creation, must proceed from and can only be accomplished through Christ and the operation of the Holy Spirit.

        “In the Old Testament Torah was understood not as raw law but in terms of wisdom. To keep the commandments was to be shaped by the divine wisdom in preparation for the coming of Christ.”
        I commented earlier that Torah is to be viewed holistically as instruction or loving guidance. However, if you agree that God’s ‘commandments are to shape us’, would you not also agree that the civil case laws and their administration of justice fall into that category? If not, why not? After all Christ directed that man should live “by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). Ask yourself this question, do the Pentateuch’s civil precepts reflect the moral character of God? If so, are they not objective and universal, and therefore a “model of perfect social justice” (Bahnsen)?

        When I argue holistic unity I mean that it is more helpful to think outside of the artificial categories of moral versus ceremonial versus civil law, all law is moral. Torah finds the basis of all its laws, guidance, and wisdom in the two greatest commandments – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets”. How do we show our love for God and our neighbor – refer to the first and second tablets of the Decalogue. Likewise, how do we more fully realize and ethically apply the Decalogue – refer to the host of familial, civil, charitable, and cultic laws found throughout Torah. Moreover, all laws and guidance are still in effect and required (Mat. 5:18), this is why I would actually argue in favor of “the abiding validity of the Mosaic law in exhaustive detail”. It is just that now many are fulfilled in Christ. For example, the laws of sacrifice are satisfied by our new and perfect High Priest the Lord Christ Jesus. As well, laws of separation still abide but their observance is marked by things like baptism and Lord’s Day worship (or the 8th day of the re-creation) rather than its precursors of circumcision, purification washings, dietary restrictions, and seventh day Sabbath observances.

        Rather than focus on the sacramental and liturgical failings that afflict some (but I would argue not all) churches in the West, what I would really like to see you engage is the “By What Standard” question. Do you agree with Fr. Dubois that we have a responsibility to transform society, along with its spiritual and moral standards? Or do you agree with Fr. Hopko that we as Christians are called to [exhaustively] apply the “rules of behavior…commanded by the living God”…even down to the minutia of “specific issues, such as those involving nations and lands, properties and possessions, goods and services, sickness and health, life and death, sexuality and family life, and the use of money, resources and power”? If so or even if not, then what standard do you use to judge what is right and just?

        If you will indulge me, I would like to get your response to a thought experiment. Let’s say you are now a judge in a society that is 90% Orthodox Christian (because there is always that 10%) and the overwhelming majority of people and institutional structures proclaim God as their King and His Word (and Tradition) as their guide and blueprint for a peaceful and just life. In your courtroom a rapist, who was found guilty beyond all doubt, now sits before you for sentencing. Do you:
        A. Decree a sentence ranging from 25 years to life depending on the severity of the crime and the possibility they may be a repeat offender
        B. Castrate them, tag their ear, and release them into the wild
        C. Decree a sentence of execution
        Please explain your choice and why?

      2. Hey Erik,

        Perhaps rather than talking past each other, we likely just prefer how we each say similar things. We agree that life is sacramental and that the civil realm, though intended and in one sense sanctified as holy, is secondary in focus to the Sacraments and Ecclesiastical Life at the center of all Life. But you don’t say it like I do! 😉 Since becoming Orthodox I’m likely more eager to emphasize Sacramental-Ecclesial matters at the center of life. I’ve seen first hand how easy life can be secularized (especially in dominion/theonomic circles). Legal, judicial matter in the civil realm easily become preoccupied with power politics. Once one steps outside a Western worldview, one sees the ugliness of power politics and power economics all around us.

        Yes, I do agree with the Orthodox men you quoted. The potential for a “soft” or “incidental theonomy” – a by-product of Orthodox Symphony’s application of “general equity” is real. You ask “by what standard”. The answer is both easy and complex. Holy Tradition in all its fullness is the Orthodox standard. Yet as the wisdom of Torah was never a simplistic raw legislation from Moses, so too the wisdom of Holy Tradition is no narrow biblicalism. Tradition includes all scripture, of course. But it also includes the writings of the Fathers and Councils – the services and liturgy and all the wisdom wrought by the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church Christ. It includes all the Fathers understood Christ accomplished on the Cross, by His resurrection, Ascension and the sending the Holy Spirit to the Church. The fullness of Orthodoxy is far removed from the minimalism of fundamentalism.

        As for your thought experiment I confess up front my lack of wisdom or experience in judging such things. At first blush I’d need far more information, asking many questions. Is the guilty rapist a 17-yr old teen first offender – or a 45-yr old repeat offender who has already received mercy from the court? What is the testimony and wisdom of his parents, Priest, Bishop, insightful Orthodox psychologist, as to his history and present state of mind and heart? Does he confess and grieve over his sin with great remorse and contrition? Or, is he defiant before God and man? There are a host of things to be known of the man still in the image and likeness of God beyond him being a rapist. Is he an apostate, pagan, jihadist with great scorn and defiance – like those gang-raping young girls in Europe? What was the circumstance or the context of the crime? Is he a boy who fell into great sin when his girlfriend or woman seducing him opted to say “no” at the last minute? Mutilation is never a Christian option. Yet though Orthodoxy has heightened my reluctance to take human live in God’s image and likeness, there are occasions where the death penalty is regretfully necessary. Yet even with Moses, capital punishment did not trap a wise judge into a mandatory wooden application. We must take seriously the counsel of a host of wise and holy advisers to make as suitable judgment as possible. Others, both Orthodox and protestant will disagree, and might be right.

        1. I had assumed that Holy Tradition would be the Orthodox standard; however, I am interested by your comment that “Tradition includes all scripture”. When you say all Scripture do you mean that even the judicial application of moral law cited in the Pentateuch (to include penal sanctions) is at least something to be referenced and used as a guide even if not directly translated? Would that in turn lead an Orthodox magistrate to outlaw things like adultery or homosexuality on this basis?

          Please don’t take this as a trick or leading question because I’m genuinely interested in the answer. I ask this because most Christians in the West would give the knee-jerk response that the judicial laws (especially as it relates to capital crimes) were only for ancient Israel and they have no bearing and carry no weight for the NT red-letter Christian. Though the more conservative will use it in a heartbeat to condemn homosexuality (despite other NT condemnations) or endorse lex talionis in regards to murder.

        2. Erik,

          I do not presume to know how an Orthodox King would apply/use the penal sanctions of the Mosaic code as part of Scripture — or have in history. I do suspect historically that adultery or homosexuality would be illegal (as they often have been in the Christian West) but doubt the penalty was often if ever stoning or execution. Putin & the Russian State Duma’s rulings of late seem to be trending gradually in this direction, which of course infuriates our fellow Western libertines who are so proud the West’s increasing secularism.

  2. “Protestants do not give their clergy social power over the State”

    That’s true largely, but not universally. The Scottish Covenanter movement did, indeed, want “The Kirk” to be sovereign over the state. Likewise there were some Anabaptists (the Munsterites) who wanted a theocratic, utopian city-state. In general, though, Protestantism was historically very Erastian (I. e., the State directly controlled the Church). Partly this was a reaction against Rome which had given the Papacy a great deal of control over the kingdoms of medieval Western Europe.

    In recent years, the development of the American “Religious Right” has arguably led to clergy obtaining a degree of informal influence (though not official control) within American politics and especially within the Republican Party. You can see this with groups like John Hagee’s CUFI and its effect on foreign policy, or with “faith-based” charities being preferentially treated during the GWB administration.

    So we do need to think hard, and critically, about how (and if) we want the church to influence the state, especially when such influences could actually harm Christians in the long run. One example the Russian Revolution, which was partly a reaction–“blowback”, you could say–against too much chumminess between the government and the Russian Orthodox Church. Another is that many evangelical pastors supported Bush’s Iraq War for eschatological reasons (some thought it would hasten the end times, or would benefit Israel), yet this very same war’s aftereffects are right now leading to genocide against Iraqi Christians.

    I agree with most of the points being made here (e. g., I don’t consider theonomists to be the equivalent of ISIS or jihadists, contrary to what some of their critics on the left think). First of all, most of them seem more fond of talking about Old Testament law than actually implementing it. Second of all, they’re often very libertarian, tending to be “think and act local” types who are suspicious of government and any sort of activist social agenda, as evidenced by the fact that most of them supported Ron Paul. I do think theonomists are very wrong on a lot of things, though.

    I think we have a lot more to fear from Pentecostal dominionism (which is a different movement, albeit one arguably inspired by theonomy; some of its founders read some of Rushdoony’s works). These people _do_ tend to think in apocalyptic and utopian terms; the “Joel’s Army” movement see themselves as an end-times fighting force who will fight the Antichrist and usher in the Second Coming. The movement emphasizes visions and “enthusiasm”, which makes it seem a lot like radical Anabaptists in some ways. I hope it doesn’t end up spawning another Munster. To see an example of the dark places these kinds of thinking can lead, look at China’s “Eastern Lightning”, which is arguably as bad as ISIS. The only difference between Lightning and Joel’s Army is that the former believe the end times are already upon us (they have a woman whom they claim is the returned Christ, and that they are her soldiers whose job is to kill evildoers, or anyone who won’t accept her rule). The Joel’s Army folks are really only one Christ-claimant away from becoming a similar menace.

    1. Interesting that you bring up the Covenanters. They wanted two distinct roles–magistrate is not the church and vicer-versa while at the same time acknowledging a Scottish state church. It proved to be a double-edged sword. What happens when the state (or state church) becomes pagan and apostate? When the borders of the church are co-terminous with the borders of the State?

      A similar phenomenon can be seen in late Tsarist Russia.

      Some thoughts on Robert’s essay:

      1) Much of it is terrority we have gone back and forth on, so no need to repeat old arguments.

      ***Essentially (despite some extensive borrowing that would creep back in later) ecclesiastical history was wiped clean – only to be pieced back together by some Reformers in various ways. ***

      I do not think this is entirely true of Bucer et al and certainly not of Hooker. Probably more of the independent Puritans. Further, Patristic historical awareness really wasn’t sharp for anyone back then like it is now. Nearly a century of historical criticism has helped everyone’s awareness of Patrology.

      ***As for Dominion, Reconstruction and Theonomy, we see what ultimately happens when historic Liturgical and Sacramental Worship is expelled from the Church – they also lost the Liturgical and Sacramental Life in the civil realm as well. ***

      On one hand this is a correct corollary of CR’s low-church ecclesiology. But on the other hand, one could asky why the civil realm–nature, if you will–needs to be “graced” or “liturgized.”

      ***The de-sacramentalism of Worship would ultimately de-sacramentalize all Creation (nature).***

      I agree with you to an extent, but I don’t see it as a problem. If nature has to be “graced” (or sacramented or etc), then it raises the question of what was lacking in nature to begin with.

      1. Hi Jacob,

        Regarding your last point, perhaps I can lend a little perspective. All creation is holy by virtue of God’s creation of it, but humans having fallen from grace no longer perceive this. The Church’s liturgical recognition of holy things, holy days (Feasts/Fasts, sanctification of oil, water, bread and wine, etc.), is there to help her members begin to perceive in what way all things are, indeed, holy. Fr. Stephen Freeman covers this subject frequently on his blog, “Glory to God for All Things.” His book, Everywhere Present, addresses the modern secular mindset (where “things are just things”) and contrasts it with the sacramental mindset of the Church (created things have a proper purpose and meaning–“logoi”–that are referents for Christ, the Logos). If you haven’t spent much time reading at his blog, I’d recommend it. I also recommend his book.

        1. Hello Karen,

          ***All creation is holy by virtue of God’s creation of it, but humans having fallen from grace no longer perceive this. ***

          I prefer to say creation is “good and very good,” rather than “holy.”

          ***but humans having fallen from grace no longer perceive this. ***

          I might be able to accept that.

          *** and contrasts it with the sacramental mindset of the Church (created things have a proper purpose and meaning–”logoi”–that are referents for Christ, the Logos).***

          I read a bunch of his stuff years ago, so I am generally familiar with the idea. I have no problem saying that created things have a telos which points to the logoi. Reformed Protestant employed Aristotelian terminology (for better or worse) and using categories like telos is fine.

          I guess the connection I don’t see is why, if the above statements on the logoi stand, we need to pour oil on stuff. I am not saying it is wrong; I just don’t see the warrant.

          1. Ah, but Jacob did not “we need to pour oil on stuff” per God’s command in the Old Covenant? God has from the beginning instructed His people to sanctify matter for special or holy use via ceremony and ritual…wherein the Spirit works in a sacramental manner via water, bread, wine…and oil to effect change.

            Is this is all “needed” or “necessary”? Fr Stephen Freeman recently began his excellent Blog on the Virgin Mary with a story of a classmate who didn’t believe in angles because

            “…did not think they were necessary… that anything angels did could be done by the Holy Spirit…” While this is obviously true, I [Fr Stephen] noted that angels are found throughout Scripture, and that “necessary” was not a theological category – and that he himself was not necessary for that matter. The story had a happy ending…but has always remained with me as an example of how people sometimes go wrong theologically.”

            No, God is no utilitarian. Creation teems with excess in most any category imagines…and we pour oil on stuff in ceremony & ritual to openly show God’s sacramental work in Creation.

  3. Per your first paragraph, I note a couple of words that reinforce my point: “God’s command” and “Old Covenant.” I just don’t see the warrant in moving from God’s express command in the Old Covenant to relative silence from God in the New Covenant, therefore it is warranted.

    As to Fr Freeman’s conversation with a classmate, the classmate’s views really aren’t my own so I will leave it at that.

    Further, I have no problem saying the Spirit works to effect change in me when I eat the bread and wine. That’s what the Confession means about sacramental union between sign and thing signified.

    1. Do you distinguish between anointing objects versus persons? If not, wouldn’t Mark 6:13 and James 5:14 be a positive NT example of using oil to anoint or sanctify something in creation?

      1. As I tried to intimate to David above, I really don’t have a huge problem with anointing “creation.” My larger point–and I assume you are a Van Tillian, so you would agree with me on this–is the integrity of the Creator/creature distinction. My issue was not “anointing oil” on Tsarist Battleships. Rather, I was aiming my critique more at the chain of being ontology (see Rushdoony’s masterful One and Many, which I am sure you have read as it is his greatest work).

        When I read Ortodox guys on theosis and sacramental creation, I get the idea that there must be something in creation that needs a little “extra.” And as a student of Herman Bavinck, I take issue with this.

        1. Certainly, there is a Creator/creation distinction. That creation, having been co-opted by the enemy through man’s fall from grace, may once again be set apart for God’s purposes through Christ working by the Holy Spirit in his Church–creation also thus becomes “holy” once more in this sense. Us humans, being part of the material creation, use the material of creation in our worship and for signifying spiritual realities–as God Himself has revealed these meanings to us in Christ. This is how I understand the Church’s rituals. They are a symbolic Body language, if you will, speaking of Christ, just as is the written Word.

        2. I must ashamedly admit I haven’t read The One and the Many yet; although, I did incidentally download a Kindle preview of that book the other day. I guess I need to get on it. In any event, I am aware of the ethical versus metaphysical view of redemption via Van Til if that is what you’re getting at. If so, I’m probably with you in that it would be somewhat askew to think of creation outside of man needing to be directly graced by sacrament or liturgy. I would be more comfortable saying that the creation feels the effect of us being or not being graced by sacrament and liturgy, so that it is either blessed or cursed based on our relationship to God. I think it could be argued that the effect experienced through us represents sanctification, or its relationship to man or to God through man being put right. Thus, it’s not that creation needs something extra so much as it is missing something and needs that to be properly reestablished. I see this in Romans where it claims that “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.” So even though Christ has inaugurated the Kingdom and in one sense creation has already been redeemed, it is also being redeemed and will be redeemed. Not unlike how people are saved, yet are also being saved and still waiting “eagerly for adoption as sons”.

          By the way Karen, I love that phrase “humans, being part of the material creation, use the material of creation in our worship and for signifying spiritual realities”. I’m going to have to steal that from you.

          1. Erik,
            Jacob is right. _The One and the Many_ is outstanding…likely Rush’s best book. You will love it & profit from it. Highly recommended.

    2. Jacob you said:
      “I just don’t see the warrant in moving from God’s express command in the Old Covenant to relative silence from God in the New Covenant, therefore it is warranted.”

      Yet the Apostles Paul say: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and
      hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word,
      or our epistle.” (2 Th 2:15) Paul, the Apostle of Christ clearly seems
      to bind his disciples’ conscious with his words he know are NOT
      written in his Epistles (silence?). Orthodoxy’s zeal for Holy Tradition
      grows out such Scriptures…and a history of reverence for a prior
      Holy tradition in God’s instructions to Israel.

      As for ‘need-&-necessity’ I just wanted to point out neither are
      theological categories since you said, “I don’t see is why…we need
      to pour oil on stuff.” Wasn’t implying you are in perfect unity
      with Fr Freeman’s classmate. 😉

      1. And as I’ve pointed out, you have not demonstrated that Paul’s use of the word “tradition” is identical with your “tradition.” Rome, Copts, Armenians, Nestorians all make the same claim.

      2. Are the Orthodox the rightful inheritor & preservers of the “Tradition” the Apostle Paul exhorts his disciples to keep and follow in Holy Scripture? Over 280 million thinks so today as have million before them and thousands of martyrs — with thousands of Protestant yearly. Of course others make the same claim. But claims might be empty. Jehovah Witnesses claim to be Christian, and Islam claims to be a religion of peace! Claims must be investigate for the truth.

        But where are the Protestant books claiming possession of the Apostle Paul’s Holy Tradition exhorted for his disciples to keep in Scripture? Do Protestants take the Apostles’ exhortation seriously? Where are the books? Oh, the books are on Sola Scriptura which castrates the authority given to Holy Tradition by the Apostles themselves! Historically, Protestants have confused Holy Tradition with Roman Catholicism. Thankfully, today many are learning this is patently false and are looking more carefully at what Paul in Scripture had in mind — Orthodoxy! 😉

  4. Jacob writes: “I prefer to say creation is ‘good and very good,’ rather than ‘holy.'”

    I assume you are drawing “good” and “very good” from the Genesis creation account, and this is, of course, perfectly appropriate. However, yesterday’s Gospel reading in the Orthodox Church was from Matthew 19 and included vs. 17, so I could (if I chose to use this statement of the Lord’s out of context) quibble with the terminology you prefer (I don’t so choose). When you look at the Scriptures that pop up in a Bible concordance search when you use the phrase “shall be holy” or “holy,” it is abundantly clear that it is appropriate to use “holy” both of God Himself and of all aspects of His redeemed and sanctified creation. So on what would you say your stated preference is based?

    1. Qadosh means set apart. It’s not necessarily wrong to say that “creation is holy [set apart]” but that raises the question, “Set apart for what?” Maybe there is a good answer but if everything is set apart then nothing is.

      1. Good point and question. In his book, Everywhere Present, Fr. Stephen in fact makes a similar point as you where you say “if everything is set apart, then nothing is,” in support of the classical “sacramental” practices of the pre-modern Church continued in the Orthodox tradition. On page 39, he writes:

        “. . . it is possible to eliminate holy days under the slogan, “All days are holy” (a common sentiment among many early Protestant groups). It is, of course, true that all days are holy. However, not long after all days are declared holy—and therefore no particular day is singled out as holy—the result will be that no day is holy. . . . ”

        This resonates with the attitudes I learned toward the practices and attitudes surrounding the “sacramental” of the more ancient classical Christian traditions–primarily Catholic, Oriental, and Orthodox (but also to an extent Lutheran and some Anglicans as well)–from my mainline Protestant and Evangelical roots. While Evangelicals (and other Protestants) generally allow it is biblically correct to say that all creation is holy (and here I would answer your question by saying this means creation is to be set apart for the glory of God–and, properly ordered, through grace does in fact participate in the glory of God), practically, we who are not yet fully sanctified will revert to treating all of it as ordinary/mundane unless we ritually set aside certain parts for sacred use to cultivate the proper perspective and learn to see in what way things do in fact participate in the holiness of God when ordered according to their proper purpose in Christ. That this happens seems quite evident in the modern era where we see the overwhelming majority in the culture treat the material (including each other) as passion-driven consumers/users/idolators of it, rather than sanctifying and honoring it and offering themselves and all of the creation in thankfulness to God as stewards and priests of the Most High. (By the way, this is also his apologetic for the existence of the liturgical/sacramental Christian priesthood/presbytery alongside and in the midst of the spiritual reality of the priesthood of all believers.)

        This would seem to me to be an argument for continuing the ritual and liturgical setting aside of ourselves and all the elements of creation within the formal boundaries of the Church militant when it is gathered for worship, as long as we are still waiting for the consummation of the Kingdom. Only when the Kingdom is consummated will those who are now being redeemed no longer need these helps (nor even the prophecy of the Scriptures). At the point of our complete transformation into the likeness of Christ and the consummation of our communion with God, we will all directly perceive the holy reality of all things as they find their fulfillment in Christ (1 Corinthians 13:9-10)–we will no longer need the symbolic Body language of liturgical ritual nor even the verbal expression which can only imperfectly point to the incomprehensible Reality to which they point–the Mystery of Christ in His Church.

        1. Hi Karen,

          You wrote,
          ***it is possible to eliminate holy days under the slogan, “All days are holy” ***

          My position is the opposite of that. One of the things the Reformation accomplished was the category of the Common. Some things in creation are neither holy liturgy or evil, but simply common. They are allowed to be the common. It would fall under the aegeis of protecting the finitude and integrity of creation.

          1. So, let me see if I am following you here: would you allow that the Spirit working through the Church can continue to set apart both people and objects of the material world for holy use, or is that precluded because the creation, being distinct from God, is, by (Reformation) definition, “common?” What does it mean that at the consummation of all things there will be a new heaven and new earth and that everything will be summed up in Christ? Is this consummated creation that is “in Christ” still “common?”

            If we allow that there is only one High Priest, Christ, who is appointed by God to offer up sacrifice to God on behalf of all for sins, in what does the “priesthood” of all believers consist?

    2. All things can be holy (sacramental) by God’s creation without
      assuming an egalitarianism in them. Indeed, God is no egalitarian
      in Scripture. All things have their “degree of glory unto glory”…
      their own telos or purpose for being. The slug is not equal to the
      lion, moon or stars. And man is uniquely crowned with glory and
      honor. Likewise, in formal ritual God command somethings be
      set aside for a sacramental use & glory…sanctified for special and
      peculiar use…oil, bread and wine. The Fathers simply picked up
      on this and by the Spirit, established appropriate times and things
      to receive special anointing for special uses. The protestant
      instinct is simply to resist this and argue against it because it
      seem at first blush too ‘Roman-Catholic’ and become blind to
      what both the Scriptures and Orthodox Fathers saw and taught.

      1. I have no doubt that some Protestants reacted to perceived Romanizing, but that isn’t my own position. I am wary of seeing holy days outside God’s own command for holy days (in Leviticus God determines which days are holy for him). And in Colossians Paul warns against “times and seasons” (of course, he probably means Jewish holy days but I think it is safe to infer my position from that statement).

  5. This has been an interesting read. Regarding the point where you mentioned that the Reformation had been the root of Western Secularism, I would argue that it brought about the seeds for the Prosperity Gospel in the form of the Protestant Work Ethic as coined by German sociologist, Max Webber in his work, ” The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” in which he argue that Protestantism helped develop the economies of Northern Europe and the United States. He reasoned that since the outward signs of being a Predestined Elect are through hard work, people are more motivated to work harder use the obtained wealth as an outward sign of the hard work being done and ultimately, being one of the predestined Elect and spiritual wealth. This forms the perfect system to ‘enslave’ employees as employers can use the Protestant Work Ethic as an excuse for their employees to work harder and increase productivity which help even more if the workers themselves are Reformed Protestants. Such a system would go on to influence the economical thoughts and ideologies of economists such as John Maynard Keynes who advocated more government intervention within the economy and higher spending, the latter of which is influenced by the aspect of the Protestant Work Ethic that wealth earned should be spent on the business itself to generate more wealth which is in a nutshell how the Keynesian Economics work, spend more to earn more. In fact, Saving money based on the Keynesian School of thought is frowned upon, creating the Paradox of Thrift in which states that assuming every single member of the economy Saves money during a Recession, aggregate demand (Total Demand of Goods and Services within an economy at any given time) would drop, hereby slowing economic growth and decreasing the Total Savings of everyone.

    This is rather similar to the Protestant Work Ethic though instead of endangering the economy, it is due to the saving of money for the purchase of luxurious goods as being frowned upon. Any Economics student would know that the Keynesian School and mindset is popular with many countries today such as the US which in turn, serve as the catalyst alongside the Protestant Work Ethic to give birth to the modern day Prosperity Gospel which follows the same mantra albeit with some modifications such as encouraging donating to the pastor in order to obtain higher gain and profit and then doing the same thing again and again. It must be noted however that the original Protestant Work Ethic doesn’t encourage this form of behavior and no doubt would frown upon it. However, it definitely still serves as the primary reason for the birth of the Prosperity Gospel.

    The Protestant Work Ethic would go beyond simply giving birth to the Prosperity Gospel but rather, advocate an economical system in which the government would be in control. The original conception of this Work Ethic doesn’t explicitly mention this but just think about what would happen if a government were to use such a system. The government in question could justify controlling the populace against its own hopes, dreams and desires, using Calvinism as its justification and reminding the populace that all secular jobs are vocations and God’s Call, requiring them to do their best in order to be considered as the Elect. Such a system is opposed by Keynes’ rival, Friedrich Hayek who advocated Economic Freedom for all which means that the government cannot tamper with the Economy as such an act would interfere with the freedom of the people. The Protestant Work Ethic in contrast, would actually permit such things to happen which ultimately permits totalitarianism, especially given just how authoritarian God is as portrayed by Calvinism.

    1. Sakura,

      Welcome to the OrthodoxBridge! Glad you can be part of the discussion.

      My apologies for your comment not being published earlier. For some reason I haven’t been getting comment notifications. Apparently, there’s a glitch in the software.

      I think you made some good points but I wonder if the argument could be made that Prosperity Gospel is a distorted form of sola fide (faith alone). What do you think?


    2. Sakura,

      Welcome to the Orthodox-Reformed Bridge. If you will read R. B.
      Tawney’s book _Religion and the Rise of Capitalism_ you will find
      he convincingly destroys Weber’s thesis that Protestantism devised
      the work-ethic and Capitalism. All these early elements existed in
      various Roman Catholic groups several hundred yrs before Calvin
      was born. Today you have several very conservative Roman Catholics,
      also von Mesis capitalists like Tom Woods and Jeffery Tucker who
      argue the Spainish had a well developed ‘Open-Mkt’ theory of com-
      merce with strong work ethics long before the Reformation.

      Also, as Jacob has hinted strongly a few times, the early Reformers’
      economic theory was far more medieval catholic than modern Liber-
      tarian. Again, Tawney also convincingly demonstrates this over and
      welcome again to the Blog. I pray it proves a safe and stimulating place
      for you to read and learn. But as Robert often reminds us…nothing takes
      the place of visiting Orthodox Divine Liturgy 6-12 times.

      1. I agree with what David says above. I think Calvinist Economics overlaps with capitalism at some places, but it sharply diverges from it in others.

        The only way Weber’s thesis can be salvaged (a little) is by looking at the Puritan view of time. Time is limited, and so is a limited commodity. Limited commodities have to be managed wisely. If they are managed wisely, then one often experiences success.

  6. I thought about this post and the previous one off and on all day and it occurred to me that its probably not a coincidence that Dominion Mandate was conceived in our adversarial democratic system. When we are the government, at least theoretically, we bear responsibility for what we build. It makes sense that people raised on the idea of self government would get a little worried watching the moral decline of the West.

  7. I have been reflecting more on this, also. The phrases “Dominion” and “Cultural Mandate” have been hijacked by various groups to such a degree it’s no longer healthy to say it out loud. This is a shame, for “dominion” *is* a biblical concept. And while there are huge problems in the Dutch reformed tradition, guys like Klaas Schilder, Vollenhoven, Dooyeweerd, and Bavinck do have fruitful reflection on these topics.

    Interestingly, in its definition of the image of God, the Westminster Shorter Catechism lists man’s role of dominion, which is precisely what later Dutch thinkers like Schilder said, yet few Anglo-American reformed outside the theonomic camp really expounded that idea.

    I suppose I do not have anything else by way of argument or critique that would be new, but this post did raise (even if unintentionally) issues of man’s creation, finitude, creation in general, image of god, and the nature of dominion. I think there is fodder for a future essay, at least on my part.

  8. Thank you for your very fair and calm approach to this issue. I know this is an old post, but hopefully you can still respond, as I feel that the discussion in the comments didn’t really get to the heart of the issue.

    Both sides of the debate seemed to focus on the major differences between the big picture worldviews of the Orthodox and Reformed Theonomists. I would like instead to ask about some much more practical applications, and hopefully you can give an Orthodox perspective.

    The Orthodox and Theonomists can agree that abortion should be illegal, and they would both cite the same reasons for believing this: God forbids murder and God speaks of the unborn as being full human persons. This shared position is already basically theonomic. We both think that there are certain areas where our civil laws should be shaped by God’s revelation.

    Let’s consider a slightly more obscure moral issue. I have always been struck by the great compassion that God shows in the Mosaic laws protecting the family from disruption caused by military service. The integrity of the family (especially the families of those recently married) is preserved by these laws. From my study of history, it seems to me that both the US and Tsarist Russia fell far short of fulfilling the letter and spirit of these laws. So here is my question: would it be appropriate for an Orthodox Christian to criticize the behavior of his government in the treatment of military families on the specific grounds that the government is violating the standard set forth in the Mosaic law?

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