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Theonomy in Christian Ethics Hardcover – June, 1984

4.6 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Hardcover, June, 1984
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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It is only because of God that I have life and a life that is meaningful. Without at all losing sighof the tremendous distinction between Creator and creature, I would rather say that God is my meaning and God is my life. "In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). I can make a list of all the really important things that have happened to me throughout my life and career - all of the special moments of accomplishments, all of the things which have communicated joy or dignity or purpose, all of the things which have deep meaning for my life - and over against that list, I still say from the bottom of my heart, "Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:25).

With the simple and few wrds that I have, then, I would say that God has always been to me an inescapable and holy presence (cf. David's testimony in Psalm 139). God has been a secret source of personal acceptance and forgiveness, when at times there were doubts about any human source of the same. God has been a stabilizing strength as well as the fire of eagerness, whether in negative situations of adversity or positive mes of opportunity. God has been my ideal of moral perfection and, thus, both a constant rebuke to my falling short of His glory and a gentle guide in the right direction. God has been the sovereign and incomprehensible governor of every detail of my life - something which has (ironically to those who dispute such a portrayal of Him) filled me with a sense of freedom and understanding.

There is no religion for me apart from the historical work of the Son of God, applied to me in the power of the Holy Spirit. The story of Christ's incarnation, life, miracles, teaching, self-sacrificial death, powerful resurrection and glorious ascension is to me the story of stories - the historical truth which provides the paradigm for interpreting everything about myself. Life has been for me, on a day to day basis, a matter of seeing ever more fuller, deeper, and clearer how that saving story provides the integration and meaning of everything that has happened to me - of everything I am or hope to be. Many years ago I chose as a testimony verse Galatians 2:20. I understand better now than thn how appropriate it was. "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Greg L. Bahnsen --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen, one of the most effective Christian apologists of the twentieth century, consistently underscored the abiding authority of the word of God and the requirement to apply it to all olife. In addition to apologetics, his seminarl work, "Theonomy in Christian Ethics", is still challenging the church to honor all of God's word as the only perfect standard of righteousness.

Known for his rigorous logic and theological depth, Dr. Bahnsen's scholarship and teaching always delivered sixteen ounces to the pound. His intellectual gifts and debating skills won many devoted friends - and foes. The hard work of the theological precision is rarely accomplished without controversy. Nevertheless, Bahnsen's love the Christ and His church enabled him to press on through the inevitable battles. Bearing the standard of God's word as the only inerrant rule by which men must live, Bahnsen stood fast and firm in a day of ethical relativism and ecclesiastical compromise.

On December 11, 1995, Dr. Bahnsen, 47, was taken home to be with the Lord. This festschrift seeks to pay homage to the enormous contribution Dr. Bahnsen offered to the Christian church - a contribution that has strengthened and will continue to strengthen citizens in the kingdom of God. Each of the contribors to this volume owes a debt of love and gratitude to Dr. Bahnsen not only for the labor and instruction he provided but also for his friendship and affection. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Presbyterian & Reformed Pub Co (June 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875521177
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875521176
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,406,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While the thrust of Bahnsen's argument can be had from reading some of the other reviews, I think a slightly different perspective is in order. Here are some important notes:

1) Theonomy does not "stand or fall" based on Bahnsen's _50 page_ exegesis of St. Matthew 5:17 ff. While it is integral, the reviewer who stated this below, I would wager, did not read the book. Theonomy is a _framework_ that is developed exegetically and logically from the entire Bible, starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation. Bahnsens' _30 page index_ of Bible passages at the end should have been a clue. There is not one passage in the Bible regarding the law that Bahnsen does not use, I am sure. He brilliantly coheres the Torah with Sts. Paul, James, Peter, and John in a manner that is _consistent with Reformed Orthodoxy_. He is firm that there is _nothing new_ in this book. The church has historically believed the thesis contained here, and he frequently goes as far back as Tertullian and Augustine to show this. I cannot emphasize this more: theonomy is developed from the _entire Bible_.

2) This book is big. It reads big. It does not read like a concise, epigrammatic literary masterpiece (like many of Rushdoony's shorter books do). Instead it is meticulous, thorough, repetitive, painstaking--big. You feel like you're reading a masterwork when you're reading it. It feels big in your hands; it feels big in your head. Some people like this; some don't.

3) Even so, Bahnsen's language is known for its supreme clarity and cogency. His repetition is welcomed (as far as I am concerned), and his laconic summaries are each highly quotable. It is a joy to read.

4) What can bog the reader down is the _insane amount_ of Biblical references, which is obviously a good problem to have.
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Format: Hardcover
First let me say this: This book reads like a thesis (and as it started out as a thesis for a Master of Theology degree, that makes sense). But what a Biblically substantiated, exegetically sound, and theologically insightful thesis it is - by a truly gifted theologian, teacher, and communicator!

It is so very rare that one comes across a book in which after finishing it he can say, "This book has truly altered the course of my life." If there is any one book - obviously apart from the Bible itself - of which this can be said by me, it is Greg Bahnsen's "Theonomy in Christian Ethics."

The theonomic principle as stated by Bahnsen is simply this: "By 'theonomy' I will mean that verbalized law of God which is imposed from outside man and revealed authoritatively in the words of Scripture" (p. 35). Theonomy is God's Law - over against man's self-law - applied in all areas of life, both in the church and in society.

While throughout the history of the church it was taken on assumption that the Old Testament had abiding validity unless something in the New Testament was revealed to have cancelled or changed it in some way, in today's evangelical world just the opposite view seems to be the one most widely held: that unless a commandment is repeated in the New Testament, we should assume it no longer has abiding validity (a view with many more problems than one might think).

And so Bahnsen lays out cogently, articulately, and (most importantly) Biblically in 563 pages his thesis that the Old Testament Law is just as much applicable today as it was in the days before Christ, even in the area of the civil magistrate.
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Format: 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.
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