Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gems from the North (7) - God's Sanctions in History

Gary North is one of the few theologians who deals seriously with the working of God's sanctions in history.

Without visible sanctions in history, there can be no public testimony to the truth or falsity of any assertion regarding the effectiveness of any proposed system of social organization. The theorist must be able to offer evidence from history that the application of his logic in history will have the positive results that he promises This is not philosophical pragmatism; this is biblical covenantalism: the nations can see the benefits that come from obeying God’s law. They can also see the righteousness of this law-order (Deut 4:4-8). The work of the law is written in their hearts (Rom 2:14-15). Righteousness does not produce bad fruit: “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Luke 6:43).

In any free society, visible sanctions must be imposed in terms of a publicly announced system of law (Deut 31:10-13). These public sanctions must be predictable. This is what law enforcement is all about: the imposition of negative sanctions against publicly proscribed behavior. Try to run a family or a business without law and sanctions. It cannot be done. But if you accept (“sanction”) the idea that a legal order’s sanctions can Iegitimately be random in terms of fundamental law, you have accepted the legitimacy of tyranny and arbitrary rule.

Nevertheless, Christian theologians insist that there is neither a required system of biblical civil law nor corporate sanctions imposed by God in terms of this binding legal orders The rejection of the idea of the reality of God’s corporate covenantal sanctions in history parallels the rejection of the idea that biblical covenant law is supposed to govern society formally. Those who deny that biblical law is God’s required corporate standard also hasten to assure us that God does not bring negative sanctions against societies that ignore this standard (Millenialism and Social Theory pp.197-188).

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