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PORNOGRAPHY, THE ANABAPTISTS AND DOUG WILSON'S CIVIL ANTINOMIANISM

by Reg Barrow, copyright, 1997



 (A special note of thanks is offered to Larry Birger for his editorial 
expertise and assistance in completing this piece.)

"For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the 
children of light" (Luke 16:8b).

The civil antinomianism which Doug Wilson adopts regarding pornography 
and negative civil sanctions in "Cyberporn: A Case Study" 
[_Credenda/Agenda_, vol. 7, no. 5, p. 11] is a fundamental error also 
prevalent among antiestablishmentarian *modern* Theonomists. Wilson 
believes that 

"Christians must learn to distinguish sins from crimes. If God reveals His 
will on a matter, disobedience is sin. If God reveals the civil penalty which 
must be applied, then it is also a crime. But without wisdom from Him on 
the civil penalty to be applied, the civil order must leave enforcement of 
God's law to the church, family, or the providence of God." 

He further states that "when pornography is made and distributed, it 
should simply be used as evidence -- of the adultery or of the sodomy, 
etc." In his analogy between adultery/pornography and theft/movies 
showing theft, he laments, "Why do we resist punishing what God requires 
punishment for, and insist on punishments found nowhere in Scripture?" 
In short, according to Wilson, because God in his word has *not specifically 
mandated* negative civil sanctions against pornography *per se*, "with a 
biblical approach, pornography would not be [a] crime." 

It bears mentioning that not all modern Theonomists agree with Wilson 
that pornography is not a crime. For example, R. J. Rushdoony states, "the 
link between pornography and revolutionary totalitarianism is a necessary 
one. The rise of totalitarianism has always been preceded by moral 
anarchism... the politics of pornography is a moral anarchism whose 
purpose is revolution, a revolution against Christian civilization. . . . 
Certainly new and clearer legislation [against pornography--RB] is 
*necessary and urgently needed*. . . we need and must have sound 
legislation" (_Law and Liberty_, pp. 18-20; emphasis added). However, 
others, like Greg Bahnsen (cf. his cassette "Pornography, Obscenity, 
Censorship"), do concur that the making and distribution of pornography, 
generally, is not a crime. Regardless of some disagreement amongst 
themselves, the idea that the civil magistrate is limited by *explicit* 
biblical pronouncements in what and how he may punish is a teaching 
some *modern* Theonomists (as opposed to biblical "*historical* 
theonomists" like Calvin, Knox, Rutherford and Gillespie) have promoted 
for about three decades. In fact, some in the movement even suggest this 
"hyper-regulativism" (defined below) extends to the actual method of 
punishment, while others are content to apply it only to the crime and 
negative sanction itself. Either way, its proponents insist that their view 
alone provides an antidote to civil despotism by offering divinely 
prescribed limitations on the civil magistrate's power in punishing 
offenders of God's law. Such a view may sound pious, appeal to a 
libertarian mentality, and appear to be the only possible check against civil 
tyranny, but it is in opposition to God's revealed will and therefore must 
be rejected as just another form of modern heresy -- a heresy, which as 
Rushdoony notes above, actually helps usher in civil tyranny.

There are a number of major problems with Wilson’s principles and their 
applications, and it may be helpful to survey some of these before giving a 
more full refutation from history and Scripture. 

To begin with, on the pornography question Wilson (and other *modern* 
Theonomists) apply a *form* of "regulativism" (really "hyper-
regulativism"; see below) where it does not belong -- i.e. in the case of 
negative civil sanctions. Ironically, many of these same people also deny (if 
only by their practice; James 1:22; Titus 1:16) the true regulativism where 
Scripture teaches it does belong -- i.e. in the public worship of God. 

The regulative principle *of worship* has been skillfully handled in _The 
Songs of Zion_ by Michael Bushell, _Instrumental Music in the Public 
Worship of God_ by John Girardeau and _A Dispute Against English Popish 
Ceremonies_ by George Gillespie, and reader is urged to consult these. For 
our purposes here, we simply note that the regulative principle, as taught 
and practiced by the Reformers, permitted only those acts of public 
worship which had "divine warrant from God's Word either by (1) 
command; or by (2) authorized example of the apostles; or by (3) good and 
necessary inference" (Greg Price, _Foundation for Reformation: The 
Regulative Principle of Worship_, p. 5). 

The imposition of anything God has not prescribed has long been *rightly* 
exposed and rejected in the area of *public worship* (cf. my _The 
Regulative Principle of Worship in History_ [free at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CRTPWors.htm], my 
_Psalm Singing in Scripture and History_ [free at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CRTPsSing.htm] and 
my _Doug Wilson's Five Questions on the Regulative Principle of Worship 
Answered_ [free at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/Doug5Qs.htm]).Wilso
n and other *modern* Theonomists, however, take this approach not to 
*worship*, but to *negative civil sanctions*. As he says, "We do not have 
the capacity to legislate wisely where God has been *silent*" (emphasis 
added). Not only does he make a *fundamental* mistake in attempting to 
apply a form of the "regulative principle" to negative civil sanctions, he 
takes it one step further by misconstruing the regulative principle itself. 
Wilson's form of "regulativism" in the civil sphere denies "good and 
necessary inference" (an integral part of the true regulative principle), and 
therefore cannot be rightly called biblical regulativism without causing 
some confusion. Hence, I call Wilson's view "hyper-regulativism" because 
he makes the regulative principle *more strict* than do the Scriptures, or 
the Reformers who expounded this principle from the teaching of 
Scripture. Furthermore, Wilson's rejection of what Samuel Rutherford 
termed "logical or natural consequences," and what the _Westminster 
Confession of Faith_ (1:6) designates as that which "by good and necessary 
consequence may be deduced from Scripture," (when applied to the 
pornography question before us) does not comport with the classical 
Protestant position on negative civil sanctions.

The combination of these errors by Wilson, in the distortion (through the 
denial of natural consequences) and misapplication of the regulative 
principle, actually turn the making and distribution of pornography into a 
*civil right* (except for certain *actual participants* who explicitly violate 
biblical judicial laws; i.e. those actually committing the acts of adultery, 
sodomy, etc. in the making of the pornography). Noted author and 
Reconstructionist-turned-Covenanter, Michael Wagner (who is presently 
completing his doctorate in political science), has defined one aspect of civil 
rights as "imposing an obligation on the state not to interfere with some 
aspect of an individual's life by applying negative civil sanctions." This 
definition, given Wilson's view of pornography, would grant most aspects 
of the pornography industry a *civil right* (based on Scripture falsely 
interpreted) to practice their vile trade freely, without any threat of civil 
punishment; and, according to ministries like _Credenda/Agenda_ (unless 
they disagree with their editor), such actions would have a kind of "civil 
blessing" from God, inasmuch as Scripture allegedly *forbids* negative civil 
sanctions against pornographers.

Even more, not only would the making and distribution of pornography be 
a civil right (and not a crime), but it would actually be a **sin** for the 
civil government to intervene and violate Wilson's "hyper-regulativism" in 
such cases (outside of "simply" using the pornography "as evidence -- of 
the adultery or of the sodomy, etc." in civil trials). Sin is "any want of 
conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God" (_Westminster 
Shorter Catechism_ question and answer 14). By applying negative civil 
sanctions to the pornographers the civil government would be doing that 
which God has given them *no mandate* to do; and thus, in Wilson's 
scheme, the civil government would "lack conformity unto... the law of 
God" in punishing pornographers. As Wilson writes, "If God reveals His will 
on a matter, disobedience is sin;" and, "Why do we resist punishing what 
God requires punishment for, and insist on punishments found nowhere in 
Scripture?" Therefore, if God has indeed revealed his will on this matter -- 
that most pornographers are *not* criminals -- then *for the civil 
government to treat them as such* is sin. 

We cannot escape this conclusion to which the regulative principle drives 
us. For example, concerning public worship, if everything except that 
which God has instituted is forbidden (outside of "some circumstances... 
common to human actions and societies"; cf. Westminster Confession, 1:6), 
then any addition of elements and regulated circumstances not instituted 
of God for use in public worship (e.g. man-made hymns, musical 
instruments, drama, dance, women preachers, holy days other than the 
Sabbath, etc.) is, of necessity, sin. The same is also true if Wilson's "hyper-
regulativism" is to be applied to negative civil sanctions. The addition of 
any negative civil sanctions *not explicitly revealed* in Scripture would be 
a transgression much akin to the sin we speak against in the sphere of 
public worship. Thus, Wilson must argue that a civil government that 
enacts laws for which it has no biblical warrant, such as laws against the 
possession, production and/or distribution of pornography, ***must be 
sinning***. 

On a practical level, the situation that has developed in the African nation 
of Zambia may be instructive here. Shortly after Zambia threw off her 
communism and embraced Christianity as the official state religion it was 
reported that "whether by accident or design, new found freedoms also led 
to the legalization of pornography and abortion" ("Those Who Walk In 
Darkness, Will See A Great Light... The Christian Reconstruction of Zambia" 
by Abshire, free at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/zambia.htm). In the 
case of pornography, was this a good or bad testimony to the other nations 
of the world? Wilson would have to say that it was very good, as it was in 
keeping with God's (alleged) instruction concerning negative civil sanctions. 
The communists kept the nation relatively free of pornography but a 
professedly Christian government actually initially legalized it (along with 
abortion) -- and Wilson's views would have the Zambians "glorifying" God 
by legalizing pornography! (One wonders where the civil leaders of Zambia 
originally got the idea that it was honoring to God that pornography be 
free from negative civil sanctions!) But , thanks be to God, it came to pass 
that,

"the Zambian government then took a most encouraging turn. President 
Chiluba made a public speech against pornography and called for its total 
eradication. This was followed by vigorous action by the Zambian police in 
rooting out all publicly displayed pornography and arresting those who 
sold it. Representations of Zambia Christian Action convinced the Zambian 
government to have the police burn the pornography on the streets 
wherever it was found" (ibid.).

Given these developments in Zambia it would now seem appropriate for 
_Credenda/Agenda_ to provide a short article (their specialty) rebuking 
the Zambian civil government for "backsliding" into this latter state of 
affairs (by enacting negative civil sanctions against those involved with 
pornography). After all, "Why do [Zambians] . . . insist on punishments 
found nowhere in Scripture? . . . [Zambians] must learn to distinguish sins 
from crimes. If God reveals His will on a matter, disobedience is sin. If God 
reveals the civil penalty which must be applied, then it is also a crime. But 
without wisdom from Him on the civil penalty to be applied, the [Zambian] 
civil order must leave enforcement of God's law to the church, family, or 
the providence of God." Articles, attacking the faithful, are becoming more 
common in the pages of _Credenda/Agenda_, so the production of such a 
column should not catch many off guard -- especially if _C/A's_ writers 
turn the Zambian's faithfulness on this matter (and disagreement with 
them) into some kind of a joke or parody (thus confusing people into 
believing something about such righteous actions which have nothing to do 
with what has actually transpired in reality). Beware the man who is 
*quick* to jest about sin or other serious matters related to the kingdom of 
God (Eph. 5:3-4). Somehow I doubt we will ever see such an article 
(rebuking the Zambian's) from our "jovial" (I'm being kind) friends; for I 
think -- or at least hope -- that they are already wiser than the principles 
Wilson espouses in "Cyberporn: A Case Study." But, if no rebuke to the 
Zambian civil government (for their "sin" of outlawing pornography) is 
forthcoming from _Credenda/Agenda_, a public retraction of Wilson's 
published principles may be in order. But alas...

Having thus given a brief overview of some of the glaringly absurd and 
destructive problems inherent in Wilson's position, we now turn to an 
examination of irrefutable historical and Scriptural evidences against it. 
We will thereby briefly, but I believe sufficiently, demonstrate that Doug 
Wilson's position (though we doubt that he holds to it consistently) on the 
application (or lack thereof) of negative civil sanctions, especially 
regarding pornographers, is not the "classical Protestant" position, nor is it 
biblical. 

Beginning with some historic proof we find that Wilson's "hyper-
regulativism" can be soundly refuted in citations taken from the individual 
(major) Reformers, their confessions and their covenants. Our first quote is 
taken from _Wholesome Severity Reconciled With Christian Liberty; or, the 
True Resolution of a Present Controversy Concerning Liberty of 
Conscience_ by George Gillespie (1644; free at: 
http://www.reformed.org/ethics/wholsome.html). Gillespie, one of the 
Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, here illustrates that 
the basis of Wilson's position has historically been used by at least one 
Anabaptist. Gillespie writes, 

"I have endeavored in the following discourse to vindicate the lawful, yea 
necessary use of the coercive power of the Christian Magistrate in 
suppressing and punishing heretics and sectaries, *according as the degree 
of their offense and of the Church's danger shall require*: Which when I 
had done, there came to my hands a book called _The Storming of 
Antichrist_ (by Christopher Blackwood, 1644--RB). Indeed, "The Recruiting 
of Antichrist, and the Storming of Zion" (if so be that I may *anabaptize an 
Anabaptist's book*). Take one passage for instance (p.25): 'And for Papists,' 
says he, 'though they are least to be borne of all others, because of the 
uncertainty of their keeping faith with heretics, as they call us, and 
because they may be absolved of securements that can arise from the just 
solemn oaths, and because of their cruelty against the Protestants in 
diverse countries where they get the upper hand, and because they are 
professed idolaters, yet may they be born with (as I suppose with 
submission to better judgments) in Protestant government, in point of 
religion, **because we have no command** to root out any for conscience,'" 
etc. (1644 edition, p. v, emphases added).

Note that this Anabaptist's tolerationism is built on the same foundation 
Wilson insists is the magistrate's guide regarding negative civil sanctions. 
The Anabaptist argues that we must not punish the "papists" because "we 
have **no command** to root out any for conscience" (emphasis added). 
Gillespie subsequently distinguishes the truth from the error in the 
Anabaptist's statement (on tolerationism and conscience), but for our 
purpose it illustrates that this was one instance where Wilson's principle of 
civil hyper-regulativism is called upon to justify the Anabaptist position 
regarding civil penal sanctions.

I also addressed this question on pages 17-18 of my work, _John Knox, 
Oliver Cromwell, God's Law and the Reformation of Civil Government_:

"One further example of weakness in the modern Theonomic movement is 
found in the application of the *regulative principle to civil penal 
sanctions*. This idea has led some to such logical extremes that they would 
deny the civil government the right (or should I say duty) to censor or 
prohibit the *investment* in, or the *distribution* and *sale* of, 
pornographic materials (the seventh commandment notwithstanding). In 
such a 'Theonomic' state hard-core pornographic movies, books and 
magazines would be protected by a 'Theonomic' civil legal code -- while 
the 'Theonomic' police would have authority (based on a constitution which 
establishes the application of the regulative principle to civil penal 
sanctions) to apprehend *only* those who have *participated* in the 
adultery, fornication or sodomy of the pornography *itself*. The regulative 
principle, when applied to penal sanctions, would insure all other 'non 
participants' the constitutional *right* to involve themselves in the chain of 
production and distribution of pornographic materials, because the civil 
penal sanctions of the Old Testament don't *specifically* cite them as 
offenders. One further example would involve the sixth commandment. 
Would it be no crime to hire, counsel or plan a murder that was carried out 
by another because the penal sanctions do not *specify* anything other 
than the *actual murdering* as the crime? Obviously, matters must be 
judged in regard to allowing for an interpretation of Scripture, concerning 
crime and punishment, which takes into account those things which can, 
'by good and necessary consequence... be deduced from Scripture' 
(_Westminster Confession of Faith_, ch. 1, sect. 6). Questions 91 to 151 of 
the _Westminster Larger Catechism_ would be an indispensably helpful 
guide to the civil magistrate here."

In this vein Gillespie notes:

"Fourthly, I distinguish between bare opinions or speculations, and 
scandalous or pernicious practices, as Mr. Burton does in his _Vindication 
of the Independent Churches_. 'You must distinguish,' he says, 'between 
men's consciences and their practices.The conscience simply considered in 
itself is for God, the lord of conscience alone to judge, as before. But for a 
man's practices (of which alone man can take cognizance) **if they be 
against *any* of God's commandments, of the first or the second table; that 
appertains to the Civil Magistrate to punish**, who is for this cause called 
custos utriusque tabuloe, the keeper of both tables.' For this he cites Rom. 
13:3-4, and he adds, 'So as we see here that is the object of civil power, to 
wit, actions good or bad, not bare opinions, not thoughts, not conscience, 
but actions.' And this in his answer to the interrogatory concerning the 
lawful coercive power of the civil Magistrates in suppressing heresies. In 
which he handsomely yielded the point, for who advises the Parliament to 
punish men for their thoughts, bare opinions, or for conscience simply 
considered in itself? It is for preaching, **printing, spreading** of 
dangerous opinions, for schismatical, pernicious and scandalous practices, 
for drawing factions among the people contrary to the covenant [the 
Solemn League and Covenant -- RB], for resisting the reformation of 
religion, for lying and railing against the covenant [the Solemn League and 
Covenant -- RB], the Parliament, the [Westminster -- RB] Assembly of 
Divines, or against the Reformed Churches" (_Wholesome Severity_, p. 34, 
emphases added).

Likewise: 

"Those that are in authority are to take such courses and so to rule, that we 
may not only lead a quiet and peaceable life, but further that it be in all 
godliness and honesty (1 Tim. 2:2). The Magistrate is keeper of both tables, 
and is to punish the violation of the first table, as well as of the second. 3. 
'Will any man,' says Augustine, 'who is in his right wit, say to Kings, "Do not 
care by whom the Church of God in your Kingdom is maintained or 
opposed; it does not concern your Kingdom, who will be religious, who 
sacrilegious:" to whom, notwithstanding, it cannot be said, "It does not 
concern you in your Kingdom who is chaste, who whorish," etc. Is the soul's 
keeping faith and truth to God a lighter matter, than that of a woman to a 
man?'" (_Wholesome Severity_, p. 14).

In another place Gillespie goes so far as to say that 

"though *other* judiciall or forensecall laws concerning the punishments of 
sins against the Moral law, may, yea, *must* be allowed of in Christian 
Republickes; Provided always they be **not contrary** to Gods own 
Judiciall laws: yet I fear not to hold with Junius, _de Politia Mosis_ cap. 6, 
that he who was punishable by death under the Judiciall law, is punishable 
by death still; and he who was not punishable by death them, in not to be 
punished by death now" (_Wholesome Severity_, p. 9, emphases added).

So we see, whereas Wilson would not even have the godly magistrate 
protect the public for the "lesser" second table physical whoredoms (of 
pornography), Gillespie would have the magistrate punish for the "greater" 
first table spiritual whoredoms (e.g. tolerationism, heresy, false worship, 
etc.). Wilson says that we need **specific institution** for sanctions; 
Gillespie says that the magistrate can punish as long as the punishment is 
"**not contrary** to Gods own Judiciall laws." The antithesis is clear: either 
Gillespie and his fellow Covenanters at Westminster were wrong on this 
point, or Wilson, the "Classical Protestant"; for there are no revealed penal 
sanctions which specifically call upon the magistrate to punish people "for 
drawing factions among the people contrary to the covenant [the Solemn 
League and Covenant -- RB]... for lying and railing against the covenant 
[the Solemn League and Covenant -- RB], the [English -- RB] Parliament , 
the [Westminster -- RB] Assembly of Divines, or against the Reformed 
Churches." Negative civil sanctions for these crimes must be specifically 'by 
good and necessary consequence... deduced from Scripture' (_Westminster 
Confession of Faith_, ch. 1, sect. 6). Clearly, Gillespie and other *historic* 
theonomists oppose Wilson and many *modern* Theonomists. 

John Knox's "Appellation... to the Scottish Nobility" in volume 4 of his 
_Works_ also refutes Wilson's civil regulativism. In this appeal Knox 
repudiates the use of the regulative principle to guide magistrates (in 
regard to negative civil sanctions) when he notes that we are to submit to 
the laws of the magistrate except "*such as be expressly repugning to God's 
commandment*" (cited in Knox's "Appellation" as printed in _John Knox on 
Rebellion_, R.A. Mason, ed. [Cambridge University Press, 1994], p. 107; see 
also the discussion of Westminster Confession 20:2,4 below). This is not the 
regulative principle applied to negative civil sanctions, which Wilson sets 
forth (i.e. only that which is expressly *instituted* of God is a lawful 
negative civil sanction), but the Reformation principle of negative civil 
sanctions, which allows for sanctions rightly **deduced from Scripture "by 
good and necessary consequence"**. The bulk of Reformed divines believed 
that God allows the magistrate much more room to *apply* Scripture to the 
area of negative sanctions -- as the Judges in Israel of old did, as well as a 
father disciplining his children -- than our modern "Presbyterians" and 
Theonomists do. Samuel Rutherford clearly states, "that which the *master 
of a christian family* may doe, that the *father of the Common-wealth the 
King*, in his place may doe" (_A Free Disputation Against Pretended 
Liberty of Conscience, p. 176; emphasis added). 

One contemporary author who has diagnosed part of the problem with 
applying the regulative principle to the state, writes: 

"I have read in other places the argument that government should have no 
involvement in education because the Bible does not give instructions for it 
to be involved. These authors set forward what I call the 'regulative 
principle of the state.' Just as the regulative principle of worship says that 
what is not explicitly commanded is therefore forbidden, the regulative 
principle of the state says that what is not explicitly commanded to the 
government is forbidden. This principle is, as far as I know, without 
significant precedent in Church history, lacking in exegetical support, and 
leads to absurd policy implications (e.g. the elimination of traffic laws). 
This "libertarian model" of Christian statesmanship is inferior to the 
historic Calvinist view, which I call the 'patriarchal model.'" (Jerry Bowyer, 
_Christian Statesman_ magazine, "Bowyer's Blast" in the Educational Choice 
Issue, January/Feb., 1993).

This leads us to some incisive questions. Is the state really forbidden to 
intervene, because there is no explicit or specific biblical law mandating 
civil punishment against those who would *corrupt the morals of young 
children* through the use of lewd pictures? What about when hard core 
pornography is being displayed in a local community playground (or the 
local corner store)? Are we really to think that a godly civil magistrate 
would be honoring God by allowing triple X billboards on public highways 
because there is *no specific negative civil sanction* against the public 
display of such morally reprehensible trash -- only negative civil sanctions 
against those who actually participated in the act, as Wilson asserts? And 
what if the participants were married, or only one person was before the 
camera? Are pornographers then free from any form of punishment? Is 
there a *specific* negative civil sanction against *watching* married 
couples copulating or against self stimulation for public viewing? Against 
filming such acts? Against publicly displaying the film? Against selling the 
film? Against selling the film to minors? Is God really a civil libertarian? 
Or is He a "covenanter"? Can we lay on our beds at night and thank God in 
prayer that He is biblically glorified by a civil government that protects 
those that *publicly* pimp off of the base lusts forbidden in Scripture -- 
rather than bringing negative civil sanctions against them? Or would we 
not rather bless God for his benevolent ordinance of civil government 
which, rightly functioning, would have delivered us from the filth that has 
defiled so many, and which continues to sound its siren song? Can a 
*public* moral wrong, which is an affront to God (openly violating the 
seventh commandment) and destructive to society (violating the fifth and 
tenth commandments), be a civil right? Or should it be punished by the 
civil magistrate? 

Just stop for a moment and try to thank God in prayer that pornographers 
(at just about every level -- excepting paedophiles -- from production to 
distribution) are free from civil punishment in our society today. In 
attempting such a prayer, at a very practical level (by the testimony and 
witness of the Holy Spirit with your spirit) you should know immediately 
and intuitively that pornography is not a civil right positively sanctioned 
by Scripture. If fact, if your conscience is acting in accord with truth, you 
should also clearly see what the civil magistrate should *deduce from 
Scripture, by good and necessary consequence* regarding negative civil 
sanctions against pornographers (unless, of course, you have become so 
hardened that you can falsely "bless" God in prayer that the pandering 
dogs of pornography are free from civil sanctions). And, it should be 
carefully noted that these same type of questions -- which produce such 
horrid answers if approached with Wilson's principles of biblical 
interpretation -- may with equal force and revulsion be asked of other 
areas. For example, is there a *specific* negative civil sanction in the 
Scripture against *promoting* Nazism (or similar immoral political 
philosophies, ideas and/or antichristian civil governments)? Or was Paul 
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's official propagandist, undeserving of civil 
sanctions in his marketing of Hitler and his murderous and tyrannical 
regime? The reader is left to continue this reductio ad absurdum (see the 
end of this essay for other examples) and conclude for himself whether 
Wilson and *modern* Theonomy really provide the check against civil 
tyranny as they claim; whether their conception of the civil magistrate 
really is "the minister of God to thee for good" (Rom. 13:4). "Wisdom is 
justified of her children" (Matt. 11:19) and the offspring of Wilson's and 
many *modern* Theonomists' principles (on this point) are illegitimate -- 
and look much more like the bastard children of the Anabaptists and 
Libertines. 

As an interesting side note, we also see that the application of the 
regulative principle to civil penal sanctions (what we might rightly term a 
"sub-theonomic" view of God's law) ties closely together with the 
antiestablimentarianism prominent in many Reconstructionist and 
"evangelical" circles today. Antiestablishmentarianism is also another 
aspect of Anabaptist thought that finds its ways into the pages of 
_Credenda/Agenda_ (when was the last _Credenda/Agenda_ article, much 
less entire issue, defending -- or even mentioning -- the truth of 
establishmentarianism?), and sadly much of the modern "Reformed" 
community as well adopts this species of defection (moving away from 
Reformation attainments to the innovations and heresies of the 
Anabaptists). We will not discuss extensively why Wilson's view of civil 
sanctions is the sister to antiestablishmentarianism, but the Anabaptist 
connection is clearly evident. Cunningham notes:

"Under the general head of the civil magistrate, or of civil magistracy, -- 
that is, in the exposition of what is taught in Scripture concerning the 
functions and duties of the supreme civil authority of a nation, whatever 
be its form of government, -- *the Reformers were unanimous and decided 
in asserting what has been called in modern times the principle of national 
establishments of religion*, -- namely, that it is competent to, and 
incumbent upon, nations, as such, and civil rulers in their official capacity, 
or in the exercise of their legitimate control over civil matters, to aim at 
the promotion of the honour of God, the welfare of true religion, and the 
prosperity of the church of Christ. This principle, which comprehends or 
implies the whole of what we are concerned to maintain upon the subject 
of national establishments of religion, we believe to be fully sanctioned by 
Scripture; and we can appeal, in support of it, to the decided and 
unanimous testimony of the Reformers, -- *while the Anabaptists of that 
period seem to have been the first, if we except the Donatists of the fifth 
century, who stumbled upon something like the opposite doctrine*, or 
what is now-a-days commonly called the Voluntary principle" (William 
Cunningham, _Historical Theology_, Still Waters Revival Books, [1882] 
reprinted 1991, vol. 2, pp. 559-560, emphases added).

According to the Anabaptists, then, it was not the civil magistrate's official 
task "to aim at the promotion of the honour of God, the welfare of true 
religion, and the prosperity of the church of Christ" by causing the nation, 
in her official character, to make a public confession of the one true 
reformed religion, to the exclusion and suppression of all contrary heresies 
and corruptions. If, rather, his job is to ensure every citizen's "freedom to 
choose" their own religious practices (even if only amongst the differing 
sects of Christianity) then it is not difficult to see the link between 
"freedom" in this area and "freedom of speech" in disseminating 
pornography. And, we need look no farther than the United States, with its 
dogmatic religious pluralism and thriving pornographic market, for 
verification. 

Citations could be multiplied from Calvin, Knox, Rutherford, the General 
Assembly of the Church of Scotland 1638-1649, the best Dutch Synods, 
other Reformed Confessions, etc., to offer further historical "Classical 
Protestant" support of our position and opposition to Wilson's. We will 
consider only four more, however: another from Gillespie; one from _The 
Register of the Company of Pastors of Geneva in the Time of Calvin_; a 
third from the Solemn League and Covenant; and the fourth, and perhaps 
most powerful, from a fruit of that Covenant, the Westminster Confession 
of Faith. 

Turning again to _Wholesome Severity_, we find mentioned a number of 
others who concur with the position on civil punishment here set forth. In 
answering the question of "Whether Christian Judges may lawfully punish 
Hereticks" (p. 1), Gillespie deals with three views, first disposing of the 
Papists' opinion, "who hold it to be no sin, but good service to God, to 
extirpate by fire and sword, all that are adversaries to, or opposers of the 
Church and Catholick Religion" (p. 1). 

He then says,

"The second opinion falls short, as far as the former exceeds: that is, that 
the Magistrate ought not to inflict any punishment, nor put forth any 
coercive power upon Heretics or Sectaries, but on the contrary grant them 
liberty and toleration. This was the opinion of the Donatists, against which 
Augustine has written both much and well, in diverse places: though [he] 
himself was once in the same error, till he took the matter into his second 
better thoughts, as is evident by his Retractations (lib. 2, cap. 2, & epist. 
48). In the same error are the Socinians and Arminians (See Peltii 
Harmonia, Artic. 21; Nic. Bodecher, Sociniano. Remonstrantismus, cap.25. 
See also Grotii Apologeticus, cap. 6, p. 130; Theoph. Nicolaid, Refut.Tractat. 
de Ecclesia cap. 4, p. 33). The very same is maintained in some books 
printed amongst ourselves in this year of confusion: viz. The Bloody Tenent 
[by Roger Williams -- RB]; Liberty of Conscience; The Compassionate 
Samaritan; John the Baptist; and by Mr. [Thomas--RB] Goodwin [the 
Independent --RB] in his Theomaxia, p.50, and in his Innocencies Triumph, 
p.8. In which places he denies that the Magistrate, and particularly that 
the two houses of Parliament, may impose anything pertaining to the 
service and worship of God under fines or penalties. So M.S. to A.S. (pp. 53-
55, &c.), disputes against the coercive power of the Magistrate to suppress 
Heresies and Sects" (pp. 2-3).

Finally, Gillespie gives the classical Protestant position:

"The third opinion is that **the Magistrate may and ought to exercise his 
coercive power, in suppressing and punishing Heretics and Sectaries, less 
or more, according as the nature and degree of the error, schism, obstinacy, 
and danger of seducing others, requires**. As this was the judgment of the 
orthodox ancients (_vide Optati opera_, edit. Albaspin, p. 204, 215), so it is 
followed by our soundest Protestant writers; most largely by Beza against 
Bellius and Monfortius, in a peculiar treatise, _De Hareticis a Magistratu 
puniendis_. And though Gerhard, Brochmand, and other Lutheran writers, 
make a controversy where they need not, alleging that the Calvinists (so 
nicknamed) hold as the Papists do, that all Heretics without distinction are 
to be put to death: the truth is, they themselves say as much as either 
Calvin or Beza, or any other whom they take for adversaries in this 
question, that is, that heretics are to be punished by *fines, imprisonment, 
banishments*, and if they be gross idolaters or blasphemers, and seducers 
of others, then to be put to death. What else does Calvin teach, when he 
distinguishes three kinds of errors: some to be tolerated with a spirit of 
meekness, such as ought not to [cause] separation between brothers; others 
not to be tolerated, but to be suppressed with a certain degree of severity; 
[and] a third sort so abominable, and pestiferous, that they are to be cut off 
by the highest punishment? And lest it be thought that this is but the 
opinion of some few, that the Magistrate ought thus by a strong hand, and 
by civil punishments suppress Heretics and Sectaries: let it be observed 
what is held forth and professed concerning this business, by the Reformed 
Churches in their public confessions of faith. In the latter Confession of 
Helvetica (cap.30), it is said that the Magistrate ought to "root out lies and 
all superstition, with all impiety and idolatry." And after, "Let him 
suppress stubborn Heretics." In the French Confession (art. 39), "Therefore 
he hath also delivered the sword into the hands of Magistrates, to wit, that 
offenses may be repressed, not only those which are committed against the 
second table, but also against the first." In the Belgic Confession (art. 36), 
"Therefore hath he armed the Magistrates with the sword for punishing 
them that do evil, and for defending such as do well. Moreover it is their 
duty not only to be careful and watchful for the preservation of the civil 
government, but also to defend the holy ministry, and to abolish and 
overthrow all idolatry, and counterfeit worship of God." Beza, _De 
Hareticis_, tells us in the beginning, that the ministers of Helvetia had 
declared themselves to be of the same judgment, in a book published of 
that argument. And toward the end he cites the Saxon Confession, Luther, 
Melancthon, Brentius, Bucerus, Wolfangus Capito, and Bullinger. The Synod 
of Dordt (ses. 138), in their sentence against the Remonstrants not only 
interdicts them of all their ecclesiastical and academical functions, *but 
also beseeches the States General by their secular power further to 
suppress and restrain them*" (pp. 3-5, emphases added; spelling and some 
wording modernized).

Moving next to _The Register of the Company of Pastors of Geneva in the 
Time of Calvin_ (P.E. Hughes, ed. and trans., Eerdmans, 1966), it is evident 
that Wilson's view of negative civil sanctions was alien to Calvin and the 
Geneva Presbyteries. Blasphemies, contradiction of the Word, drunkenness, 
usury over five percent, dissolute games, missing church, being late for 
sermons, women (midwives) baptizing, superstitious worship, observing 
Romish festival days, attending Mass, etc., all came under civil cognizance 
(usually fines, pp. 53-59). Never mind punishing pornographers, the 
Genevans correctly deduced from the seventh commandment that "anyone 
who sings indecent, dissolute, or outrageous songs, or dances the fling or 
some similar dance shall be imprisoned for three days and shall then be 
sent before the Consistory" (p. 58). This, and even stronger laws, could be 
used in our day to rid the land of the Devil's minstrels, and all the literary 
"pornography" (in the form of the antichristian propositions that infect our 
society through Rock and Country music, blasphemous comedy, etc.) that 
bombards us through radio and television. Is there any real question how 
AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Madonna, 
Michael Jackson, "Rappers" or even Shania Twain (and their videos) would 
fare among the real classical Protestants? How much more those who 
corrupt the nations with pornography!

Thirdly, we consider an illustrative section from the Solemn League and 
Covenant (SL&C), the bond that joined the nations and churches of England, 
Scotland and Ireland in a covenanted "uniformity in religion, confession of 
faith, form of church-government, directory for worship and catechising" 
(Head 1). The portion in question is Head 4, which we simply reproduce 
with appropriate emphases (noting that reference can be made to the _The 
Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland, From the Year 
1638 to the Year 1649 Inclusive_ for further understanding of the original 
intent and actual implementation of this section of the SL&C, concerning 
the question of negative civil sanctions):

"We shall also, with all faithfulness, endeavour the discovery [disclosing or 
making known -- RB] of *all* such as have been or shall be incendiaries, 
malignants, or evil instruments, by hindering the reformation of religion, 
dividing the king from his people, or one of the kingdoms from another, or 
making any faction or parties among the people, contrary to this League 
and Covenant; that they may be brought to public trial, and receive 
*condign [appropriate -- RB] punishment*, as the **degree of their offences 
shall require or deserve**, or the supreme judicatories of both kingdoms 
respectively, or others having power from them for that effect, **shall 
judge convenient [suitable or proper -- RB].**" 

Finally, we look at the fourth and perhaps most powerful example, taken 
from chapter 20 of the **original** Westminster Confession of Faith, "Of 
Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience." Section 2 of that chapter 
teaches, "God alone is lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the 
doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing **contrary** 
to his word, or *beside it*, in matters of faith or worship." Section 4 
condemns practices subversive of lawful power and lawful exercise thereof 
which might plead Christian liberty for their warrant. It frankly describes 
the biblical sanctions due to such offenders: "And for their ***publishing*** 
of such opinions, or **maintaining** of such practices, as are **contrary to 
the light of nature**, or to faith, worship, ***or conversation [conduct or 
behavior -- RB]***; or ***to the power of godliness***; or such erroneous 
opinions or practices, as either in their own nature, or in the manner of 
publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and 
order which Christ hath established in the church; they may lawfully be 
called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church, 
***and by the power of the civil magistrate***. 

Note carefully the distinction between the qualifiers, "contrary to" and 
"beside" the word of God in Section 2. The latter, "beside", is a reference to 
the regulative principle of worship which teaches that God may only be 
worshiped in ways "prescribed in the Holy Scripture" (cf. 21:1). Anything 
*beyond (or "beside") this*, except those "circumstances . . . common to 
human actions and societies" (1:6) is strictly forbidden in public worship. 
"Contrary to," on the other hand, is applied to all other "doctrines and 
commandments of men," which would include (according to the *historic* 
theonomists at Westminster) the laws and punishments of the civil 
magistrate. We saw this view in our earlier mention of John Knox, and it 
truly is the "Classical Protestant" position as taught by the reformers and 
their creeds.

This observation on Section 2 alone overthrows Wilson's position. Even 
more pointed, however, is the wording in Section 4, which not only 
contradicts Wilson's principles, but would subject Wilson himself to the 
civil sanctions of a truly biblical magistrate. This is evident because Wilson 
(and many *modern* Theonomists) are "publishing such opinions . . . as are 
contrary to the light of nature . . . or conversation [conduct or behavior -- 
RB]; or to the power of godliness," inasmuch as they declare most of those 
involved in the making and dissemination of pornography (excepting 
certain participants) to be free of negative civil sanctions. Of course, this 
says nothing of their erroneous views of worship which likewise are 
"contrary to . . . the power of godliness" and "are destructive to the 
external peace and order which Christ hath established in the church." (Cf. 
Larry Birger's copious citations from the National Covenant and Solemn 
League and Covenant which prove the same point regarding his former 
elders, in "Why The PCA Is Not A Duly Constituted Church, And Why 
Faithful Christians Should Separate From This Corrupt Communion," free on 
the web at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/PCAbad.htm). 

It is time for those like Wilson to acknowledge that not only are they *not* 
holding to the positions of our reformed forefathers, but these very 
forefathers (as evidenced by their national **confessions and covenants**) 
would have sought civil sanctions against them if they did not repent of 
their errors! Then, based on this admission they must either repent (as we 
ourselves have done by the grace of God) or cease claiming to be the 
progeny of the Reformation. 

Even a cursory survey of the small amount of historical evidence 
presented above renders impossible the conclusion that Doug Wilson (and 
a number of *modern* Theonomists) adopt anything near the classical 
Protestant position on negative penal sanctions. But historical practice is no 
rule outside of its agreement to Scripture; so we now turn to some clear 
examples revealed by "the supreme Judge, by which all controversies of 
religion are to be determined" (WCF 1:10).

Gillespie, in "Whether it be lawful, just, and expedient, that the taking of 
the Solemn League and Covenant be enjoined by the Parliament upon all 
persons in the kingdom under a considerable penalty" (Chapter 16 of "A 
Treatise of Miscellany Questions," pp. 85-88 in _The Works of George 
Gillespie_ volume 2, Still Waters Revival Books reprint -- or free at 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/SL&CGil.htm), 
presents a *positive* biblical example of approved negative civil sanctions 
which are nowhere *expressly* revealed in the portions of Scripture 
dealing with the laws related to civil punishments:

"When king Josiah made a solemn covenant (the effect whereof was a 
thorough reformation, the taking away of the ancient and long-continued 
high places, the destroying of Baal's vessels, altars, priests, &c. 2 Kings 23, 
throughout), he did not leave his covenant arbitrary; but 'he caused all that 
were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to it,' 2 Chron. 34: 32. In 
all which he is set forth as a precedent to Christian reformers, that they 
may know their duty in like cases" (p. 86).

Likewise, his comments in _Wholesome Severity_ (p. 10):

"Josiah caused 'all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to 
the Covenant,' 2 Chron, 34:32, which could not be without either 
threatening or inflicting punishment upon the transgressors; there being 
many at that time disaffected to the Reformation."

Did Josiah "not have the capacity to legislate wisely where God had been 
silent," as Wilson contends? Where in Scripture is Josiah, as king, told to 
**cause** "all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand to" 
this *particular covenant*? Does Scripture commend or condemn Josiah's 
work as a covenanting king? 

Another clear example, contrary to Wilson's position (as noted in my, _A 
Contemporary Covenanting Debate; or, Covenanting Redivivus_; free at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/CovDebRB.htm), is 
King Asa -- who "nationally caused (by civil power) the inhabitants of the 
nation to stand to the covenant." The Scripture relates it thus:

"So they gathered themselves together at Jerusalem in the third month, in 
the fifteenth year of the reign of Asa. And they offered unto the LORD the 
same time, of the spoil which they had brought, seven hundred oxen and 
seven thousand sheep. And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD 
God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; *That 
whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, 
whether small or great, whether man or woman*. And they sware unto the 
LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with 
cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all 
their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of 
them: and the LORD gave them rest round about" (2 Chron. 15:10-15).

Was this **particular** covenant renewal revealed in Scripture as a duty 
which king Asa was to enact (in his civil capacity over the nation), or was 
this civil duty deduced by Asa "by good and necessary consequence" from 
the moral law of God? (See "Covenanting a Duty," chapter 3 in John 
Cunningham's _The Ordinance of Covenanting_ for a *detailed* explanation 
of the answer.) Were the *negative civil sanctions* attached to the 
malignants (covenant refusers) in Judah *explicitly* revealed or were they 
also deduced from Scripture, "by good and necessary consequence," from 
the moral law of God? Was God "found of them" for these actions? Was Asa, 
at this point in his reign, a Covenanter or an Anabaptist? On this point is 
Wilson closer to the Covenanters or the Anabaptists?

Samuel Rutherford touches on matters related to negative penal sanctions 
in numerous places in his _A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty 
of Conscience_ (1649). Pertinent, in principle, to the Scriptural question 
before us are Rutherford's comments when he writes, 

"but they had just powers, as the [civil -- RB] Ministers of God, to punish 
seducing Prophets as well as other ill-doers, by the law of nature and 
Nations. And this I take is holden forth by Job 31.26,27,28. *who being 
under no Judicial Law*, obliging the Jewes, but a Gentile, and so in this led 
**by the Law of nature and Nations**, maketh Idolatry and worshipping of 
the Sunne and Moone, to be an iniquity to be punished by the Judge" 
(_Free Disputation, p. 313, emphases added). 

Two final Scriptural examples follow demonstrating that God approves of 
negative civil sanctions which are not *explicitly* revealed in the judicial 
law. 

The first is found in Ezra's godly example during the covenanted 
Reformation of his day.

"Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the 
wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, 
and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be 
done according to the law. Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we 
also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it. Then arose Ezra, and 
made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they 
should do according to this word. And they sware. Then Ezra rose up from 
before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of 
Eliashib: and when he came thither, he did eat no bread, nor drink water: 
for he mourned because of the transgression of them that had been carried 
away. And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem unto 
all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves 
together unto Jerusalem; *And that whosoever would not come within 
three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his 
substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the 
congregation of those that had been carried away*" (Ezra 10:3-8, emphases 
added). 

Where in the judicial law do we find civil penalties which state that if one 
did not attend this particular covenant renewal "within three days" that 
the civil magistrate could relieve him of all his "substance," and separate 
(exile) him from the covenanted people of God? If no such negative civil 
sanction can be expressly found in God's Word, then Wilson's view of 
penology stands overturned. Clearly we need to look beyond his truncated 
view for guidance on such contemporary questions as how the civil 
magistrate should deal with the pornography plague. 

Though the preceding Scriptural and historical examples provide more 
than ample refutation of Wilson's hyper-regulativism as applied to 
negative civil sanctions, we consider briefly one final, devastating account. 
Nehemiah, a civil reformer par excellence, exemplifies God's ordinance of 
civil magistracy as a "nursing-father" (Isa. 49:23) to the church of Christ:

"In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, 
and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, 
and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the 
sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold 
victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all 
manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in 
Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, 
What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not 
your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon 
this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. 
And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark 
before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and 
charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of 
my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in 
on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged 
without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said 
unto them, Why **lodge ye** about the wall? **if ye do so again, I will lay 
hands on you**. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath" 
(Neh. 13:15-21, emphases added). 

Note carefully that in his treatment of those who just gave "the appearance 
of evil," by waiting outside the gate for the Sabbath to end, Nehemiah 
threatens to apply negative civil sanctions ("I will lay hands on you") 
*before* any actual *explicit* Sabbath violation (i.e. buying and selling, 
etc.) occurs. Is there an explicit judicial law requiring the magistrate to 
punish those who look as if they are about to break the Sabbath? Or were 
Nehemiah's civil threats a logical inference deduced by good and necessary 
consequence from the fourth commandment and the Scriptural duty of the 
civil magistrate?

But further -- and this observation once-and-for-all nullifies Wilson's civil 
hyper-regulativism -- consider the nature of the offense for which 
Nehemiah was to punish these merchants who were camping outside of the 
city. It is apparent from the context that Nehemiah was seeking to keep 
the inhabitants of Judah, and especially Jerusalem, from desecrating the 
Sabbath by merchandising. He does not wait until the actual infraction 
occurs to threaten punishment, nor does he promise those lodging outside 
the city that they will be punished *if they break the Sabbath by buying 
and selling the following day*. Rather, he assures them that if they even 
***tempt*** his constituents to break the Sabbath ***he will "lay hands on" 
them***. Matthew Poole concisely concurs: "For this was a *temptation* to 
covetous or needy Jews, that lived in or near the city, to steal opportunities 
of buying their commodities, which then they might do with more 
advantage" (emphasis added). And thus we have righteous Nehemiah's 
example standing as an eternal and irrefutable testimony against the 
teaching of Wilson and a number of *modern* Theonomists, for what is 
pornography but ***a temptation to violate the seventh commandment***? 

As we have seen, at the root of this issue are two questions. First, Is 
Wilson's "hyper-regulativism" to be applied to negative civil sanctions? 
And second, what is the place of logical consequences in determining upon 
whom (and why) these sanctions should be applied? Samuel Rutherford, 
one of the greatest biblical political philosophers ever to have lived (and 
one of the Westminster Divines) answers both of these questions as we 
have answered them (contra Wilson). 

In arguing against the application of "hyper-regulativism" to negative civil 
sanctions, Rutherford writes,

"I see *nothing said against bodily punishing* [notice Rutherford does not 
say I see something 'said *for* bodily punishing,' as Wilson's view 
requires--RB] of such as teach transubstantiation to others: for the 
Idolaters and Seducers in the Old Testament believed the same way, there 
is one true God 'Jehovah that brought them our of Egypt,' Exod 32.4,5. 
Jereboam who made two Gods, and Jehu who was zealous for Jehovah, 1 
King 13.6,c.13.1,2,3,. 2 King 9.25-36,37.c.10.16.20,21... [Rutherford here 
adds many biblical examples concerning various idolaters, some who 
claimed to worship Jehovah and some who did not, which we have 
omitted--RB]" (_A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of 
Conscience_ [1649], p. 71, emphases added).

He then states, on the question of logical consequences, that each of these 
idolaters

"yet denyed and hated this *logicall consequence* that they had 'forsaken 
the Lord,' Jer. (.13,14. or Deut 32.18. 'forgotten the rocke that begat them', 
Ps.78.11,41. Ps. 107.12,13. that 'they forsooke him dayes without 
number'... and *they did error indeed in a consequence*, against the light 
of nature, yet the irreligious and wicked stopping of eyes and eares at 
*naturall consequences in matters of Religion is no innocent errour*, as is 
cleare, Isa.44.18... yet *the Papist will deny this consequence*, that he 
multiplyes Gods as loaves are multiplyed in an oven; because as Esaiah 
saith, 'he knoweth not, he understandeth not, God hath shut his eyes'; 
certainly that knowledge he denyes to the Idolater, *is the natural 
knowledge of a naturall consequence*; if ye worship a bit of a ash-tree, or 
a bit of bread, ergo, the halfe of your God, or the quarter thereof, 'is baken 
in an oven', ergo, 'there is a lye, and an abomination in your right hand'; 
then **the deniall of logicall consequence in Religion, and the teaching 
thereof to others, may be, and is an heresie, and punishable by the 
Magistrate**, as Duet.13 and Exod. 32. So Christ rebukes Matth. 22 Saduces 
as ignorant of the Scripture, when they denyed but the consequence or a 
logicall connexion, as God is not the God of the dead but of the living, ergo, 
the dead must rise againe, and Abraham must live, and his body be raised 
from the dead. And the Idolaters who were to dye by the Law of God, 
Exod. 32. Deut.13. denyed not the true God more than our false teachers 
doe now [who deny him in consequence--RB]. We see no reason why none 
should be false teachers, but such only as deny fundamentals, and that 
pertinaciously, though these by Divines be called Heretickes" (_A Free 
Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience_ [1649], pp. 72-73, 
emphases added).

Moreover, in accord with these principles, Rutherford writes,

"I say not for believing tran-substantiation only, men are to be hanged; the 
question now is of bodily punishing, hanging and burning quick, are 
particular kinds of punishing, in which I should be as sparing as another 
man, but the question may draw to this, whether the Laws of England & 
Scotland be bloody and unjust, that ordains seminary Priests and Jesuits, 
whose trade it is to seduce souls [soul murder--RB] to the whole body of 
Popery, to bee hanged. I conceive *they are most just Lawes*, and 
warranted by Deut. 13. [based on the good and necessary inference that 
the enticing of the people to Romanism, and 'Romanism' is not mentioned 
by the name 'Romanism' in Scripture, is the enticing of the people to 'go 
and serve other Gods' Deut. 13:2,6,13--RB] and many other Scriptures, and 
*that the King and Parliaments of either Kingdomes serve Christ, and Kisse 
the Son in making and executing these Laws*" (_A Free Disputation Against 
Pretended Liberty of Conscience_ [1649], pp. 70-71, emphases added).

But you may say that "This is an hard saying; who can hear it?" [John 6:60]. 
The answer from the lips of our Lord: "My sheep hear my voice, and I 
know them, and they follow me" [John 10:27]. 

Thus, we find that here, using different examples (idolatry, 
transubstantiation and seduction to soul murder [as an occupation]), 
Rutherford has summarized and refuted Wilson's view of negative civil 
sanctions on the pornography question -- at a principial level. Rutherford 
attacks the use of Wilson's "hyper-regulativism" and approbates the use of 
lawful ("good and necessary") inferences regarding negative penal 
sanctions (for further study see the whole section "Errours in non-
fundamentalls obstinately spread, punishable," pages 64-77, in _A Free 
Disputation..._ for extensive Scripture proofs on this point). On the two 
most important points of principle related to the question of pornography 
and criminal penalties Rutherford (the Westminster Divine) is 
diametrically opposed to Doug Wilson the "classical Protestant." And 
Rutherford's view was not novel in his day, but rather the majority 
position among the Reformers. 

We agree with Rutherford (and Scripture), and thus proclaim that all 
pornographers should come under negative civil sanctions (to a greater or 
lesser degree depending on the level of offence) as a logical consequence of 
their public violation of the law of God (and in light of the damage their 
actions do to the promotion of godliness in society as a whole). This is the 
"classical Protestant" position on the power of the civil magistrate, in 
opposition to the "freedom of choice," Anabaptistic, Libertarianism 
rampant among Christians today.

In our brief treatment we have noted a number of Scriptural and historical 
examples squarely opposed to the civil "hyper-regulativism" which Doug 
Wilson promotes in _Credenda/Agenda_, and thus we must reject forever 
this hermeneutic and its illegitimate, socially destructive offspring. 

One of the tragic ironies of the *modern* Theonomy/Reconstructionist 
movement is its (seemingly) paradoxical antinomianism. We say 
"seemingly" because, as noted, their principles lead some of them 
unembarrassedly to avow that the civil magistrate leave stumbling blocks 
in the middle of the road (such a pornography) which ultimately encourage 
its citizens -- especially the young and immature -- to break the seventh 
commandment (and how many Christians compromise their testimony and 
injure their soul by watching "off color" movies and television programs or 
listening to "adultery glorifying" music?, "But I say unto you, That 
whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery 
with her already in his heart" Matt. 5:28). Such stumbling stones, if they 
were found in the middle of a busy highway (and caused car accidents) 
would never be tolerated, yet we are told that the *greater dangers* posed 
by *spiritual stumbling stones* are to be left alone civilly, until they are 
removed by the "church, family, or the providence of God." Even a civil 
highway department couldn't be run on the bases of such principles, much 
less a nation seeking to honor God. Could you image the traffic jam that 
would occur on a busy mountain road, after a landslide (leaving massive 
boulders on the highway), as people waited for the "church, family, or the 
providence of God" to clear the way? This is a graphic picture of the 
problem caused by civil antinomianism and the antiestablishmentarianistic 
views of civil government held by many Christians today -- and we have 
many detouring off the road to Zion (practically speaking) and on to the 
highway to hell, along with multiple car collisions in ruined Christian 
testimonies, to prove it. Hordes are held captive to the lusts that readily 
available pornography feeds, when civil governments are commanded by 
Scripture (rightly understood) to have long ago brought out the graders 
and rock crushing equipment and to have removed such impediments 
from the road. And this is not to say that externals will produce salvation 
or righteous behavior, but the older Reformed writers all recognized the 
value of (civilly) limiting the public expression of sin in every legitimate 
way possible. But this aspect of the Reformed understanding of Scripture 
has been largely ignored or forgotten in our day.

Others have also noted this antinomian streak of which we speak (e.g. 
Kevin Reed, _The Antinomian Streak in the Reconstructionist Movement_ 
free on the web at: 
http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualnls/AntinomR.htm), 
particularly concerning offenses against the first four commandments (the 
first table of the moral law). Every bit as tragic, however, have been their 
opponents' insipid and equally antinomian criticisms. Indeed, we are 
convinced that one of the greatest strengths of *modern* Theonomy is the 
weakness and more blatant lawlessness (at least at a principial level) of 
the majority of its critics. 

Likewise lamentable has been Doug Wilson's insistence in claiming the 
title, "Classical Protestant"; yet as we have briefly demonstrated he is 
simply rehashing antinomian *Anabaptistic* principles. Similarly, other 
Theonomists have mustered the alleged support of the Westminster 
Confession (and other products of the Reformation), when in reality their 
principles fly directly in the face of the biblical truths championed by the 
best of our reformed forefathers. We believe much of this 
misrepresentation has arisen from ignorance, for many of the compositions 
of our covenanted forebears have laid buried for centuries. However, by 
the abundant grace and lovingkindness of God many of these works are 
again being made available to the general public. Thus, while we do not 
denounce everything these brethren have asserted (for who could not be 
roused by the invigorating return to God's law that some of them have so 
eloquently proclaimed?) we do call upon them to beware of willful 
ignorance (2 Pet. 3:5), and to reject the cockiness exemplified in Wilson's 
one-liner dismissals of the true "classical Protestantism" of the 
Westminster Divines and other reformers (Rom. 12:3). We also admonish 
them to consider a verse often appealed to in their writings: "Whosoever 
therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach 
men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." 

We ourselves once zealously promoted many of the errors we now abhor 
and testify against, so it is not a matter of who is superior: we are *all 
desperately wicked*. We only ask that our brethren humble themselves 
and admit their ignorance and errors, as we by God's grace have done, and 
that in the meantime they do not rail against the truth they fail to 
comprehend. May they also heed another sobering warning: "It is 
impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom 
they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his 
neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little 
ones" (Luke 17:1-2). Civil magistrates are to be the church's "nursing-
fathers, and their queens [her] nursing-mothers" (Isaiah 49:23), not the 
protectors of her enemies. 

A more extended treatment of this topic is well overdue, and perhaps this 
essay will arouse such an edifying endeavor. In the meantime, we 
encourage the reader *not* to be content with the evidence shown herein. 
Rather, armed with an introduction to the true, *historical* theonomy held 
by our reformed progenitors, and tasting of how their faithfulness to 
Scripture would deliver us (as a body politic and as individuals) from 
many of our society's temptations, let the reader obtain the *source 
documents* of the Reformation for himself and enjoy a hearty spiritual 
feast. In doing this he will certainly partake of Christ's wondrous gift to the 
church: "And he gave . . . *pastors and teachers*, for the perfecting of the 
saints, for the work of the *ministry*, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 
till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of 
God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of 
Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and 
carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:11-14, emphases 
added).

The following list presents some questions, aimed at the thoughtful reader, 
which we believe will help demonstrate the absurdity of the modern 
"Anabaptist" view of negative civil sanctions. When we speak of civil 
punishments, we do not have anything particular in mind, for the type and 
severity of punishment are other issues which need to be addressed 
separately. But, once civil coercion is allowed in a given instance, outside of 
an *explicit* negative civil sanction from God's Word (as in the biblical and 
historical examples we have cited above), Wilson's "hyper-regulativism" as 
applied to the state stands overthrown. 

• Is the magistrate to punish a neighbor who inconsiderately and 
obstinately plays his stereo (from his front porch) at 120 decibels (every 
night of the week) from 3 to 5 A.M.? What if "Mr. Rock and Roll" decides to 
do the same thing outside of an old folks home? A hospital? A church 
"meeting house" on the Lord's day (at 11 A.M.)?

• Should those in favor of abortion be allowed to speak publicly in favor of 
their views, or to print pro-abortion literature, or make pro-abortion 
videos and music? Should they be punished for seeking to win others to 
their view? 

• Should medical establishments be free from civil punishment for training 
abortionists?

• Should the civil magistrate allow triple X videos to be intermingled in the 
children's section of the local video store? Should those who do such things 
be liable to negative civil sanctions? What would you think of a father who 
said that he doesn't agree that civil sanctions are lawful in such a case, and 
though he would boycott such a store *personally*, and have his church 
pray against them, he would also defend (in his magazine?) the *civil 
right* of the store owner to pervert others who do not find (in their 
reprobate minds) such public perversion to be offensive to them or their 
children? This is an interesting question, as *modern* Theonomists often 
denounce those who focus on *only* individual (or family) piety, to the 
exclusion of civil matters -- and yet some of them exempt pornographers 
from criminal penalties (which in effect makes them less reconstructionists 
than some of the pietists who understand by "the law of nature and 
nations" [as the old divines would say] that public pornography should be 
suppressed by the civil magistrate).

• Should heroin, LSD, PCP, MDA, mescaline, peyote, pot, or other mind (and 
spirit) altering drugs be legal and available at your local corner store? Does 
the Bible explicitly mandate any civil restrictions on the *age of buyers* of 
such poisons? Does the Bible explicitly mandate any civil restrictions on 
the age of buyers of alcohol? Tobacco? Pornography?

• If a group of university students takes it upon themselves to block a 
major interstate as some sort of protest (as happened a few years ago in 
San Diego), should the magistrate use his coercive force to intervene, and 
later punish these offenders in some way? Given Wilson's published 
principles civilly defending pornographers, could there even be a law 
making such behavior criminal?

• Can the police, as police (and not as private men) stop a crime at its 
beginning, or even before it begins, or do they need to wait until it's been 
committed to apply negative sanctions (even death to the criminal) against 
the perpetrator (or would-be perpetrator)?

• Should terrorists be apprehended and proceeded against with sanctions 
*before* they have detonated the bombs they are found to be 
manufacturing? Which *explicit* biblical negative civil sanction deals with 
bomb *making* (in and of itself)? Is there not much which a lawful civil 
magistrate must determine, that is not explicitly stated in Scripture, in 
order to rightly apply the *spirit of the law of God* in a case such as this?

• Should a teacher (in a public, private or home school) be punished for 
positively *promoting* (not just exposing) homosexuality, atheism, 
communism, Romanism, Islam, occultism, or even bestiality in the 
classroom? What about for providing recipes for home-made 
hallucinogenics (as one of my high school teachers did many years ago)? 
For teaching evolution as a fact?

• Should a drunk driver be punished by the civil magistrate before he 
actually hurts anyone? 

• Should those flagrantly violating traffic laws be punished, though they 
may not yet have hurt anyone or damaged property? Should there even be 
traffic laws (or other safety standards applied to vehicles)?

• Should those wearing flagrantly immodest clothing in public (e.g. bikinis) 
be prevented from doing so by the magistrate, and punished if they persist 
in this sin? Should those running naked in public ("streaking") be subject 
to civil sanctions?

• Should those making movies, songs or books promoting blatant error be 
subject to civil sanctions?

• Should the civil government ever repress godless (and blasphemous) art 
or music, and punish those producing and promoting such filth?

• Is the U.S. law mandating civil punishments for "conspiracy to violate an 
international treaty" biblically legitimate (apart from the question of 
whether or not the US in a duly constituted nation)? Does this depend on 
which treaty is being violated (i.e. whether it is lawful or unlawful to begin 
with)?

• Is it a crime in Scripture for one person to commit adultery, while, on the 
other hand, promoting, counselling and encouraging millions to do so (as 
pornographers do) is free from civil punishment? 

• Is the public toleration of pornography, Romanism, abortion, Islam, 
homosexuality, idolatry, the occult, atheism, etc. (all parts of the complex 
moral person of Antichrist) one of the causes of God's wrath upon our 
nations? Should all publicly know national or provincial causes of God's 
wrath be dealt with by the civil magistrate?

• Are patent laws legitimate?

• Should cigarette companies, who knowingly deceived the public about 
the health hazards of smoking, be liable to civil penalties?

• Are there explicit penal sanctions revealed in Scripture (without the use 
lawful inferences) regarding medical malpractice (which does not result in 
death)? For example, if the undisputed negligence of a doctor causes a 
person to become a paraplegic, is the negligent doctor free from civil 
liability? 

• Would it be a crime for a company to produce a food containing traces of 
peanut extract, and not alert their customers as to this ingredient, if they 
knew that severe allergic reactions would seriously harm a small portion 
of those who consume this product? What *explicit* Scripture deals with 
this from the civil standpoint? Do we again have to rely on necessary and 
lawful inferences, based on Scripture, to determine this case?

• Should avowed Satanists be allowed to homeschool their children? 
Unitarians? Romanists?


***********************

Still Waters Revival Books
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***********************

This item is also available as a bound photocopy for $1.99 [Canadian funds]) and is appendix "B" excerpted from Saul in the Cave of Adullam: A Testimony Against the Fashionable Sub- Calvinism of Doug Wilson (Editor of Credenda/Agenda Magazine; and, For Classical Protestantism and the Attainments of the Second Reformation.

FOR FURTHER STUDY

GILLESPIE, GEORGE

Wholesome Severity Reconciled With Christian Liberty, or, The True Resolution of a Present Controversy Concerning Liberty of Conscience (1644)
One of our most rare and valuable resources. A masterpiece! Wholesome Severity was written during the sitting of the Westminster Assembly and demonstrates why Gillespie is considered one of the most influential Divines of the seventeenth century. Here we have the question stated (regarding liberty of conscience), the middle (or biblical) way between Popish tyranny and Schismatizing liberty approved, and also confirmed from Scripture, with the testimonies of Divines, yea of whole churches added to vindicate Christ's kingship (over the idolatry of the rule of an ill- informed, sinful conscience sitting in judgement upon the truth of the Word of God). The chief arguments of exception used in (Roger Williams) The Bloudy Tenet, The Compassionate Samaritane, M.S. to A.S. etc. are examined herein and Gillespie also deals with many of the thorny questions related to the abiding validity of the Old Testament judicial laws. Eight distinctions are added for qualifying and clearing the whole matter. In conclusion, a moving brotherly appeal is addressed to the five Apologists (Independents at the Assembly) for choosing accommodation rather then toleration. This is classic Scottish (covenanted) Presbyterianism at its best, a work that can be read over and over with increasing profit! This exceedingly rare essay is not found in Gillespie's Works or The Presbyterian Armoury, however it is also available on two cassettes for $4.77.
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $49.95-85%=7.49
(Hardcover photocopy) $19.00 (US funds)

RUTHERFORD, SAMUEL

A Free Disputation Against Pretended Liberty of Conscience (1649 edition.)
Rutherford's Free Disputation, though scarce, is still one of his most important works — with maybe only a few copies of the actual book left in existence. Though Rutherford is affectionately remembered in our day for his Letters, or for laying the foundations of constitutional government (against the divine right of kings) in his unsurpassed Lex Rex, his Free Disputation should not be overlooked — for it contains the same searing insights as Lex Rex. In fact, this book should probably be known as Rutherford's "politically incorrect" companion volume to Lex Rex. A sort of sequel aimed at driving pluralists and antinomians insane. Written against "the Belgick Arminians, Socinians, and other Authors contending for lawlesse liberty, or licentious Tolerations of Sects and Heresies," Rutherford explains the undiluted Biblical solution to moral relativism, especially as it is expressed in ecclesiastical and civil pluralism! (Corporate pluralism being a violation of the first commandment and an affront to the holy God of Scripture). He also deals with conscience, toleration, penology (punishment), and the judicial laws, as related to both the civil and ecclesiastical realms. Excellent sections are also included which address questions related to determining the fundamentals of religion, how covenants bind us, the perpetual obligation of social covenants (with direct application to the Solemn League and Covenant and the covenant-breaking of Cromwell and his sectarian supporters), whether the punishing of seducing teachers be persecution of conscience, and much more. Walker adds these comments and context regarding Rutherford's Free Disputation, "The principle of toleration was beginning to be broached in England, and in a modified shape to find acceptance there. Samuel Rutherford was alarmed, or rather, I should say, he was horrified, for he neither feared the face of man or argument. He rushed to the rescue of the good old view... It is not so easy to find a theoretical ground for toleration; and Rutherford has many plausible things to say against it. With the most perfect confidence, he argues that it is alike against Scripture and common sense that you should have two religions side by side. It is outrageous ecclesiastically, it is sinful civilly. He does not, however, take what I call the essentially persecuting ground. He does not hold that the magistrate is to punish religion as religion. Nay, he strongly maintains that the civil magistrate never aims at the conscience. The magistrate, he urges, does not send anyone, whether a heretic (who is a soul murderer--RB) or a murderer, to the scaffold with the idea of producing conversion or other spiritual result, but to strengthen the foundations of civil order. But if he gives so much power to the king, he is no lover of despotism withal: the king himself must be under law. To vindicate this great doctrine is the object of another book, the celebrated Lex Rex; of which it has been said by one competent to judge, that it first clearly developed the constitutionalism which all men now accept" (Theology and Theologians..., pp. 11-12). In our day Francis Schaeffer, and numerous others, have critiqued many of the problems found in modern society, but most have spent little time developing explicitly Biblical solutions — especially regarding the theoretical foundations that Rutherford addresses here. Rutherford's Free Disputation provides a detailed blueprint for laying the foundations that must be laid before any lasting, God-honoring solutions will be found. Furthermore, Rutherford and his writings were the enemies of all governments not covenanted with Christ. This book will give you a very clear picture as to why "the beast" (civil and ecclesiastical) has reserved his special hatred for such teaching. As Samuel Wylie noted “[t]he dispute, then, will not turn upon the point whether religion should be civilly established... but it is concerning what religion ought to be civilly established and protected, -- whether the religion of Jesus alone should be countenanced by civil authority, or every blasphemous, heretical, and idolatrous abomination which the subtle malignity of the old serpent and a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, can frame and devise, should be put on an equal footing therewith” (Two Sons of Oil: or, The Faithful Witness For Magistracy and Ministry Upon a Scriptural Basis, softcover). Can our generation swallow Rutherford’s hard, anti- pluralistic, Covenanter medicine, poured forth from the bottle of the first commandment, without choking on their carnal dreams of a free and righteous society divorced from God (and His absolute claims upon everyone and everything)? Not without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit -- that is for sure! In summary, this book answers all the hardest questions theonomists (and their wisest and best opponents) have been asking for the last 20-30 years (and these answers are much more in depth than any we have seen in the last couple of millennia [less about a century to account for the apostles]). As the reader will discover, Rutherford was a wealthy man when it came to wisdom (and much advanced theologically), and those who take the time to gaze into the King's treasure house, as exhibited in this book, will find that they are greatly rewarded. Furthermore, because of its uncompromising stand upon the Word of God, this book is sure to be unpopular among a wicked and adulterous generation. However, on the other hand, it is sure to be popular among the covenanted servants of King Jesus! This is one of the best books (in the top five anyway) for advanced study of the Christian faith. We have now obtained an easy-to-read, amazingly clear copy of this very rare, old treasure. Great price too, considering that a copy of the 1649 edition, containing this quality of print, would likely cost upwards of $1000 on the rare book market -- though it is unlikely you would ever see a copy for sale!
(Rare Bound Photocopy) $199.95-90%=19.99
(Hardcover photocopy) $39.00 (US funds)

WESTMINSTER DIVINES

The Westminster Confession of Faith
":The product of Puritan conflict," stated Shedd, reaching "a perfection of statement never elsewhere achieved.""All that learning the most profound and extensive, intellect the most acute and searching, and piety the most sincere and earnest, could accomplish, was thus concentrated in the Westminster Assembly’s Confession of Faith, which may be safely termed the most perfect statement of Systematic Theology ever framed by the Christian Church," writes Hetherington in The History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines (p. 345, emphasis added). "These are worth an hundred victories on the battle field. We do not fear to say of them that they are the finest transfusion into uninspired language of the sublime, awful, blessed truths of the Word of God which the Church has as yet been honored to make... Never can the Covenanters be robbed of the immortal honor of having, while at the summit of their power, published this great principle to the world" noted J.A. Wylie, in praise of the Westminster Standards (cited in Johnston’s Treasury of the Scottish Covenant, p. 101). Concerning the Shorter Catechism, which is one of the items also included in this book, Mitchell, in his Westminster Assembly: Its History and Standards, notes: "...it is a thoroughly Calvinistic and Puritan catechism, the ripest fruit of the Assembly's thought and experience, maturing and finally fixing the definitions of theological terms to which Puritanism for half a century had been leading up and gradually coming closer and closer to in its legion of catechisms" (p. 431). The WCF is the greatest of all the creeds of the Christian church. The church of Christ cannot be creedless and live. Especially in an age of doubt and confusion, it is her duty to define and proclaim the one true faith. Nowhere has the Reformed church done this so effectively as in the Westminster family of documents. This book represents Reformed thinking at its purest and best. It was intended, as part of the covenanted reformation taking place during its compilation, to be adopted as the binding confessional standard for every individual, family, court, church, and legislature in the British Isles. Study it carefully and we think that you will see why this same goal should be covenanted to by all serious minded followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the definitive edition of the WCF and its many related documents. It contains Manton's "Epistle to the Reader," the Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism, "The Sum of Saving Knowledge," "The National Covenant (1638)," "The Solemn League and Covenant (1643)," "Acknowledgment of Publick Sins and Breaches of the Covenant (1648)," "The Directory for the Publick Worship of God (1645)," The Form of Presbyterial Church Government (1645)," "The Directory for Family Worship (1647)," an extensive index and more! "Every effort has been made, by sparing no expense or labour... to render it the Standard Edition," note the publishers. An essential book for every Christian home, church, and state! Next to the Bible itself, no other book can furnish you with as much necessary spiritual information. Related items: Robert Shaw's Exposition of the WCF ($29.95 - 60% = 11.98/bound photocopy) and William Hetherington's History of the Westminster Assembly ($24.95 - 50% =12.47/softcover).
(Hardcover) $29.95 - 50% = $14.98

(Softcover) $19.95 - 40% = $11.97
(Pocket edition, just the Confession: without scripture proofs, the Catechisms, etc.)
$4.95-20%= $3.96
(The Confession on cassette)
$7.95 - 80% = $1.59
(Larger Catechism on 2 cassettes)
$15.90 - 80% = $3.18
(Shorter Catechism on cassette)
$7.95 - 80% = $1.59

GILLESPIE, GEORGE

The Works of George Gillespie (2 vol.)
Gillespie was one of the Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly. One of the great theologians of all time -- almost singlehandedly steering this august Assembly at certain points. As Hetherington notes, "in all those debates no person took a more active part, or gained more distinction than George Gillespie," though he was the youngest man there. Furthermore, Hetherington calls him a "genius of the highest order," and writes that his work "dazzled and astonished his countrymen." He "held an undisputed position among the foremost of the distinguished men by whose talents and energy the Church of Scotland was delivered from the prelatic despotism" of that day. This rare work contains Gillespie's per- sonal notes during the Westminster Assembly and A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies. A Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies is a rare classic on Reformed worship, taking on all the arguments related to the use of man-made ceremonies in worship. Burned by the Prelates (Episcopalians) just after it first appeared in 1637, this masterful defense of the regulative principle has yet to be answered (by those that oppose God's sovereignty in worship). It ably, and in a detailed manner, refutes the old errors of Prelacy and Romanism -- many of which are being resurrected in our day by writers like James Jordan (and others abandoning historic Presbyterian [i.e. Biblical] worship). Gillespie's practical "Treatise of Miscellany Questions," contains 22 chapters. Topics dealt with range from: whether prophets and prophesying continued beyond the primitive church (answered in the negative); whether a sound heart and an unsound head can consist together; what are heresies and what is their purpose; are infants to be baptized; should the civil government attach a negative sanction to not swearing to the Solemn League and Covenant (against one aspect of Theonomy); etc. These Works also contains a memoir of Gillespie's life and writings, written by Hetherington, Gillespie's sermons before the house of commons, and much more!
(Rare Bound Photocopies, 2 volumes) $99.95-65%=34.98
(Hardcover photocopies, 2 volumes) $65.00 (Canadian funds)

BURGESS, ANTHONY

Vindiciae Legis: or, A Vindication of the Moral Law and the Covenants, from the Errors of Papists, Arminians, Socinians, and more especially, Antinomians (1647)
"A nonconformist clergyman," Burgess "was a member of the (Westminster) Assembly of Divines. Ejected at the Restoration... his works are much valued and have become very scarce" (Darling, Cyclopedia Bibliographica, p. 439). This book contains 30 lectures preached at London "against the antinomian errours of the times." It is the second edition corrected and augmented. Burgess says that he wrote to "maintain the dignitie and use of the Morall Law against late errours about it." Taking on all the errorists listed in the subtitle Burgess also notes that he has "endeavoured to give the Law its due, and the Gospel its due, remembering that of Luther... He that knoweth how to distinguish between Law and Gospel, let him give thanks to God, and know he is a Divine" (i.e. a scholar of Scripture-RB). An exceedingly rare item that sells for over $300 a copy on the rare book market. This book should be read by everyone in the Protestant Reformed church (or anyone who must deal with them) as it demolishes their (i.e. Protestant Reformed) errors concerning covenants -- especially in regard to their denial (and disregard for the biblical, "Westminster" view) of the covenant of works. Some of its 62 chapter heads include: "What a man cannot do by the power of nature;" "Whether there are any antecedaneous works upon the heart before grace;" "What does this Image (of God in man--RB) consist;" "Whether God did enter into a covenant with Adam;" "How God can be said to covenant, or enter into a promise with man;" What Law this delivered in Mount Sinai is, and what kind of laws there are, and why it's called the Moral Law;" Whether this Law repeated by Moses, be the same with the law of nature implanted in us;" "Why God gave the Moral Law;" Whether the Law be an instrument of sanctification;" "Whether the Law be a covenant of grace;" Wherein the Law and Gospel do oppose or differ from each other; under which is handled the false differences between the Law and Gospel made by Anabaptists, Papists, and Antinomians;" "Whether the Law command faith;" "How Christ is the end of the Law." Indexed.
(Rare bound photocopy) $99.95-85%=14.95
(Hardcover photocopy) $29.00 (US funds)

CHURCH OF SCOTLAND GENERAL ASSEMBLY 1638-1649

The Acts of the General Assemblies of the Church of Scotland, From the Year 1638 to the Year 1649 Inclusive (1682)
Exceedingly rare, these are the acts from what many consider the greatest general assembly gatherings since the days of the apostles. The work accomplished and ratified at these meetings has been called "the most perfect model" of Presbyterial Church Government "as yet attained." Sitting during the momentous days of the Covenants (National and Solemn League) and the Westminster Assembly, this general assembly included the likes of Samuel Rutherford and George Gillespie. Judicially binding on covenanted Presbyterians (WCF 31:3), these Acts demonstrate how these godly leaders officially dealt with individual, family, ecclesiastical and civil Reformation (including national and international matters). Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that these rulings had major national and international ramifications in their day and that they still guide faithful Presbyterians at the close of the twentieth century (as terms of ministerial and Christian communion in the Reformed Presbyterian church). Moreover, they contain "noble examples to be followed in testifying against all corruptions embodied in the constitutions of either churches or states" (Reformed Presbytery, Act, Declaration and Testimony for the Whole of Our Covenanted Reformation, p. 216). Christ's Kingship has never since been so boldly and clearly proclaimed to the nations by a duly constituted general assembly -- neither has His rule and reign been upheld and actually embodied into the laws of a nation (civil and ecclesiastical) as it was during these days in Scotland. Much of this can be attributed to the work (humanly speaking) done by the ministers present while these Acts were debated and passed. Regarding doctrine, worship, government and discipline there are few books that will be as helpful -- especially to elders and those advanced in the faith. Additionally, if you want a glimpse at the heart of the second Reformation this is one of the best places to look. It may also be considered "the eye of the Puritan storm," seeing that the Scottish Covenanters exerted such a godly influence among their English Presbyterian brothers (and the Westminster Assembly) during these days -- the two nations having covenanted with God (in the Solemn League and Covenant) for the international "reformation and defence of religion... the peace and safety of the three kingdoms... the glory of God, and the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, etc." Over 500 pages and indexed for easy reference to all major topics.
(Rare bound photocopy) $199.95-90%=19.99
(Hardcover photocopy) $39.00 (US funds)


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