Theonomy posits that the Biblical Law is applicable to civil law, and theonomists propose Biblical law as the standard by which the laws of nations may be measured, and to which they ought to be conformed.

History of Theonomy

The type of theonomic ethics depends on the Covenant theology in which it is embedded. The Reformed wing of the Reformation showed a strong interest in Biblical law, and this was especially so in Britain where there was a tradition of Biblical law going back into the Middle Ages. The development of a clear bi-covenantal system of theology provided a framework to support theonomy. Covenant theology holds that there are two fundamental covenants between God and man. The first is the Covenant of Works, made with Adam, the covenant representative of all humanity and thus binding on all of humanity. The other covenant is the Covenant of Grace, made with Christ and his church. Theonomy, as taught by Greg Bahnsen is a development of this bi-covenantal type of theology.

An additional contribution by the Reformation, especially in its Scottish-Presbyterian expression, to Bahnsenian theonomy is the Regulative Principle of Worship. This holds that we may only worship God in the manner that God has commanded. These commands are to be found in the Bible and those in the Old Testament are still binding, except where they have been modified by direct commandment, example, or the logical implication of these in the New Testament. This same interpretive principle was applied first by Rushdoony and then by Greg Bahnsen to ethics as well as to worship. There is, therefore, standing law from the Old Testament, found in its greatest detail in the law of Moses, that still binds today, except where it has been overturned by the commands of the New Testament, apostolic example in the New Testament, and what these logically imply.

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