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Letter on the Scottish Free Kirk's Attack on Theonomy

In the November issue, Rev. Gentry's article, excellent in content, sets a new height to his legendary gentleness in his treatment of the Free Church of Scotland.

  • Chalcedon,
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In the November issue, Rev. Gentry's article, excellent in content, sets a new height to his legendary gentleness in his treatment of the Free Church of Scotland. I know that our leaders have been encouraging us not to be so judgmental of other bodies (e.g. Randy Booth, Chalcedon Report "Open Letter," #385 pp. 17 ff.), but is there not an occasional danger on the other hand that sheep may not be warned away from wolves? The carnal double-mindedness in which the Free Church appears to be stuck is seen from internal evidences in their theonomy position paper, which may be viewed on the web at

They let the cat out of the bag early on their horror at the thought that theonomy would abolish their beloved socialized medicine — the mere suggestion of which is to them an "outlandish notion" which would make it easy to write off theonomy as "the product of the fevered imagination of cranks, and not worth wasting time considering." Then there is the "possible disastrous effect on our public profile if we are seen to tolerate such views." Image is what these men are really about. Tut, tut, tut, they say; what will the world think of us now?

They claim the Confession; but the Westminster Larger Catechism on Ten Commandments already gives the lie to their peculiar twisting of the notion of the eternal moral law as "summarily comprehended" in the Ten Commandments, making it mean "exhaustively comprehended and identical to."

Isn't it odd that they shift back and forth between original intent of the authors, and "as interpreted by our church's decree" as it suits them? Thus, to get the notion of "general equity," they cite the usage of the phrase from the Romans up to the time of the Assembly. But when it comes to the duties of the civil magistrate toward idolatry, etc., then the "Declaratory Act XII of 1846" is operative.

They say they believe in natural law. But then, why don't they read and understand von Mises? Why are they mired in pre-Adam Smith (one of their own countrymen) yet willing to opine authoritatively on economics in an international forum? They make the old Siderian mistake in arguing from the premise that "Israel's civil law prohibited the sale of land" (Lev. 25:23). From this they conclude that theonomy's valuation of property rights, based on the eighth commandment and its explication, "demonstrates that theonomy has a right-wing political bias towards free-market economic conservatism." Then, having concluded, however absurdly, that A causes B, they finish it out by inferring that A probably causes C and D as well: "is there not good grounds for believing that its views on crime and punishment are due, not to sound exegesis and theology, but to the same political bias?"

They know that they need some answer on the law question, but lacking any answer that satisfies, they suggest looking further into . . . Meredith Kline! They do not know what Kline is about; they have not yet discovered the fundamental incompatibility between Kline and men that they pretend to extol, like Van Til and Murray. But they have heard that Kline provides an intellectual antidote to theonomy, and that is good enough for them. They solemnly forbid theonomy to teachers of their church, but are willing to publicly point the way to someone they have not yet read, studied, or understood!

Is it not obvious that these men are just a bunch of slimy socialists that, in self-deception, have fooled themselves into thinking that their own carnal lust and self-righteousness is actually a love of the holy? (The communist friends that Rush recently described with respect at least weren't pretending to be orthodox Presbyterians!)

It makes one wonder. Already a century and a half ago, Thornwell expressed exasperation at the Free Church's stupid communications re slavery: Does it reach a point where one says, "There is no hope for this group"?