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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magnum Opus of Theonomic Thought, August 15, 2002
This review is from: Theonomy in Christian Ethics (Hardcover)
Greg Bahnsen in this work offers the world a comprehensive hermeneutical lens by which all of life is to be viewed -- viz. God's Law.
Bahnsen begins with a masterful exegesis of Matthew 5:17-20 and the following reproof of the Pharisees which lays the foundation for his thesis. Bahnsen does such a thorough job of refuting the competing views that, I must say, Mr. Cunningham (the reviewer above) has an impossible task before him (i.e., to refute Bahnsen).
Bahnsen cogently presents Theonomy as a foundation to Christian thought which one cannot do without if the Christian community is to be faithful to the Word of God.
He proposes that not only is the Christian to bow before the Law of God in all of life, but that ALL MEN in every realm are expected to conform to God's Law. This includes even the civil magistrate, which should rule society according to the eternal bar line of the Law's justice.
He furthermore recoils at any Church/State union, but shows that Church and State alike have only one standard: God's Law. Thus, there should be a sort of checks and balances between the two administrations -- the Church holding the State accountable to rule according to the Law, and the State protecting the rights of the Church, while making sure the Church does not exceed its rights in society (e.g., by administering capital punishment, etc.).
There has been much misunderstanding and controversy especially over Bahnsen's (and Theonomy's) proposal that the Law's penal sanctions should likewise be administered, which would basically amount to capital punishment for adultery, rape, homosexuality, abortion, and other crimes. Many have seen this as an element of an all too harsh OT ethic. However, if that be the case (that the OT penal sanctions are too harsh), then that would be tantamount to saying 2 very astounding things:
(1) God's morality changes
(2) God's perfect Law (Ps. 19) is not perfect, since it is not truly just.
This is unreasonable and impugns the integrity and righteous character of God. To be faithful to God's Law for society, the civil magistrate must rule according to God's Law in every jot and tittle.
I could go on and on recommending Bahnsen's book, but suffice it to say that EVERY Christian should read this book to understand how God's Law should apply to his/her life.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 23, 2008 6:37:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 23, 2008 6:56:35 AM PST
Anyone who thinks the task of refuting Bahnsen's exegesis is impossible is either untrained in the discipline of exegesis or has not applied their training to an analysis of Bahnsen's work.
Anyone who calls Bahnsen's exegesis of Matt. 5:17-20 "masterful" simply has not done his homeworks and tested Bahnsen's work against sound exegetical standards. Quite aside from the question of whether his conclusions are correct, Bahnsen's methodololgy is so deeply flawed that the best one can say is that he has not made his case. He chose a novel meaning of "confirm" for "pleroo" in Matt. 5:17 without sufficient justification for doing so, and he did not mention let alone discuss two of known contemporary meanings for that word involving "completing" something or "completing" a set period of time that something would last. Competent exegetical practice requires discussing these meanings and explaining why they are to be rejected. Bahnsen repeated the mistake of insufficient justification and no discussion of a probable alternative when he gave no grounds for selecting the stronger meaning of the Greek word behind "but" in the same verse against the weaker meaning of the word. He made an additional error when he claimed that this stronger meaning of "but" forced a meaning on "pleroo" that must be the abosolut antonym of "destroy/annul". Any competent exegete would recognize that the meaning of the words setting out a contrast is not determined by the conjunction used, as Bahnsen did but is determined by the meanings of the contrasting words themselves (in this case "destroy" and "fulfill") which, in so doing set up the intended meaning of "but". Moreover Bahnsen commits other errors: he repeatedly cites various commentators as supporting points he makes, when in fact they disagree with him! and on at least one occasion in a later discussion he refuted his own argument without realizing he was doing so!

If anyone wants to see the proof of these assertions email me at

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2014 8:50:18 PM PST
Who made you the authority? Grammatical and spelling mistakes aside, maybe you should get an editor, and write a book yourself. You could start it by answering my question. Your opinions on Bahnsen are out of place here. 3 of 3 people means you're wasting your time and others'. If you disagree with Bahnsen, write your own book, and who knows? Someone might read it.
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