Justification by Law
Theonomy on Steroids
A Theonomic Rebuttal to J.D. Hall
On a recent podcast, J.D. Hall criticized R.J. Rushdoony's slogan, “Justification is by grace through faith; sanctification is by law.” Hall accused Rushdoony of being a "Judaizer," and guilty of "the Galatian heresy." I wonder which is worse, being a "Judaizer" or calling down God's "Anathema" on a Godly Christian man like Rushdoony.
The slogan is admittedly somewhat misleading, for it could be taken to suggest that law plays no role in justification and grace no role in sanctification — a plainly unbiblical idea.
So let's clarify.
It is only through the gracious, undeserved power of the Holy Sprit that anyone can be sanctified. Rushdoony certainly teaches this.
The point of Rushdoony's slogan is that God's Law is the pattern for our sanctification. The more obedient to God's Law one is, the more one is "sanctified." The less obedient to God's Law, the less sanctified. God's Law is the measure of our progress.
Despite the dangers of offering another potentially misleading slogan, I would like to offer a new slogan:
"Justification is by Law"
Now, having stated the slogan, let's see if I can make it beneficially edifying, by writing an explanatory essay.
Consider the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
I'm going to take some Q&A's from the Catechism and give them a decidedly "Theonomic" slant. If you're against Theonomy, please tell me how my editing is not faithful to the Catechism or to the Scriptures.
Let's start with a definition of "sin."
Here are the Catechism's prooftexts:
"Sin is the transgression of the law."
The opposite of "sin" is "righteousness."
Are we together so far?
Now, let's define "justification." (For best results, get a copy of your Catechism at your side (or in another window) and see which words I have altered.)
"Received by faith alone" can be misleading. Nobody has the perfect Theonomic obedience of Christ imputed to their account unless they "repent." Here's proof of that:
Suppose Jones says, "I refuse to renounce my sin and make a commitment to obey God's commands, but I demand that God impute the perfect law-abiding righteousness of Christ to my account." Is this "saving faith?" Will such a scoundrel enjoy the benefits of imputation?
Let's explore the concept of "repentance" a little more -- with a dash of Theonomy thrown in.
Please tell me if those additions are theologically errant. You can leave your comment on Facebook.
A Theonomist hates non-Theonomic words, thoughts, and deeds.
Therefore I esteem all Thy
precepts concerning all things to be right;
precepts I get understanding:
This is the mark of the man who repents. He loves God's Law. He hates lawlessness.
A person who rejects God's Law does not feel a need to be pardoned for violating God's Law ["sin"]. He feels no "grief and hatred" of his sin against God's Law, and does not want to turn from his "liberty" or "freedom" or "autonomy" and become the Theonomic bond-servant of Christ. He does not want God's justification. He has his own. He feels no need to have Christ's perfect Theonomic obedience imputed to him.
Why would God impute the perfect Theonomic obedience of His Son to such an unrepentant person? He does not want to commit 100% to a "full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience" to every jot and tittle of God's Law. Nobody likes that "obedience" stuff anymore.
Except the Theonomist.
O how love I thy law!
it is my meditation all the day.
Therefore, justification is by Law
My favorite formulation of this concept is "Justification by Allegiance."