By Brad Finkbeiner
Published May 2, 2008
“Is Theonomy Exegetically Sound?” Rogers hardly answered the question. By stripping away his opening credo, his first round personal advertisement, his incessant definitions of “Theonomy,” his irrelevant points about salvation, his lengthy excursions into historical theology and, last but not least, his virtual army of straw men, it is clear that Rogers was engaged in some other debate. He never did rebut my expositions of Heb 8; Gal 3; Rom 2-3, 6, 7; 1 Cor 9; 2 Cor 3; Eph 2 and other key texts. And when trying to rebut my philosophical arguments he often missed the point (e.g., he still does not understand my “moral Meno” argument). Finally, he never resolved the monstrous contradiction of affirming Jesus’ jot and tittle principle while insisting that the ceremonial laws were abolished. And as for his quotation of Matthew 5…
The OL Passed Away With The Old Heaven & Earth
Jesus said “until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter nor stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all things come to pass.” Theonomists treat the verb “pass away” in the phrase “until heaven and earth pass away” as a consummative aorist, as though Jesus said “…until all the heavens and earth have passed away” or “until heavens and earth completely pass away.” But Jesus used a subjunctive aorist. Since this verb denotes an undefined action we must rely on context to determine what kind of action is being referred to. The immediate context does not tell us, but the broader context does. Later in Matthew’s gospel, when Jesus was discussing the utter destruction of Jerusalem, we read this: “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (24:34-35). Jesus associated the passing of heavens and earth with the destruction of the covenant nation in 70 AD.
Jews would have recognized this as the testimonial of God’s two witnesses. Having said “I call heaven and earth as witness against you today,” Moses assured the nation of Israel that they would one day be “utterly destroyed” (Deut 4:26). This was later repeated: “I call heaven and earth against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse” (30:19). Since the Law made it clear that two witnesses were needed to bring a charge against someone, God called upon heaven and earth to bear testimony against the covenant-breaking nation. Heaven and earth would “testify” by passing away in the first century AD.
Paul assured his audience that “the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31). John wrote: “The world is passing away…” (1 Jn 2:17). Elsewhere: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev 21:1). The following comparison of John’s account (12:2ff) with other texts reveals that the new heavens and earth were inaugurated in Christ:
“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…”
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…” (Heb 12:22).
“But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother” (Gal 4:26)
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
“For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (2 Cor 6:16)
“…the former things have passed away. Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new…”
“Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17)
The only way to make the phrase “until heaven and earth pass away” consistent with the NT epistles is to treat the verb “pass away” in an ingressive sense. As Todd Kofchur notes, “Jesus was focusing on the beginning of this ‘passing away’ event without reference to its duration or completion” (unpublished paper).
The NL Accompanied The New Heaven & Earth
Redemptive history was a regaining of paradise lost, a restoration of the creation that “fell” in the first Adam. That fallen order began passing away with the coming of the second Adam. Jesus spoke of the NC era as “the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne” (Mt 19:28). As the Spirit generated the first “very good” order (Gen 2:2) so He began to regenerate (lit. “re-genesis” or “re-beginning”) its corrupted state through the power of the resurrected Christ under the NC. Those who rose with Christ are “new creations” under a new life system (Rom 6:4).
In light of all this newness can the Old Law be the one thing that remains? Pop Theonomist Gary DeMar admitted “The New Covenant replaces the Old Covenant with new leaders, a new priesthood, new sacraments, a new sacrifice, a new tabernacle, and a new temple. In essence, a new heaven and earth.” How then, in spite of Jesus’ explicit giving of a “new commandment,” can Theonomists insist that Old Law alone remains?Life under the NC is a life of renewal (Rom 12:2; 2 Cor 4:16; Col 3:10; Eph 4:20-24; Titus 3:15). The goal is to be renewed unto the image of Christ (Rom 8)—not the Law—to be conformed to the Beginning of the firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18), the Progenitor of the new race appropriately called the “church of the firstborn” (Heb 12:23). To appear in the likeness of the new Adam let us live as He lived, let us love “as He loved.” Solo Christo!
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