Friday, December 28, 2007

Gems from the North (8) - Sanctions in History

What I argue in this book is that law, historical sanctions, and eschatology are uniquely linked together in ways denied by virtually the whole of the modern Church. God’s stipulations (laws), God’s historical sanctions, and God’s kingdom triumph in history are a unit. This is not to deny that God’s absolute predestinating sovereignty is what guarantees His kingdom’s historical triumph, or that Christians, as members of God’s Church, are not God’s kingdom representatives in history. But the great debate has come over the inextricable relationship between biblical law, God’s historical sanctions, and cultural progress over time. Yet most modern covenant theologians expressly deny this connection (Millenialism and Social Theory pp.39-40).

Nevertheless, the program of the Church is peaceful positive displacement, soul by soul. God wins, Satan loses: soul by soul. Who brings the necessary negative corporate sanctions? God does, not through the Church but through such means as pestilence, plague, and war. The Church is supposed to pray for God’s negative discontinuities in history against entrenched corporate evil. This is why God gave us His imprecatory psalms to sing and pray publicly in the Church (e.g., Psalm 83). Here is the biblical program for cultural transformation. First, the Church is to bring continuous positive sanctions into a covenant-breaking culture: preaching, the sacraments, charity, and the disciplining of its members (a negative sanction by the Church, but positive for society: it keeps other Christians more honest). Second, the Holy Spirit must also bring positive discontinuities into individual lives: conversion. This is at His discretion, not ours. Third, a sovereign God in heaven must bring His discontinuous, corporate, negative sanctions against covenant-breakers in history. Notice, above all, that it is God who brings negative corporate sanctions in society, not the Church. The Church is an exclusively positive agent in society. I stress this because of the continuing misrepresentation of our position on social change by critics, both Christian and pagan (Millenialism and Social Theory pp.134-135).
God advances his kingdom in three ways. The Church disciples christians. The Holy Spirits brings unbelievers to salvation. God brings negative sanctions against societies that reject him. The sanctions ensure that evil does not get out of hand.

To complement the praying of imprecatory Psalms, we need a prophetic voice to warn of God's judgement (sanctions) against societies that choose evil.

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