By G. Richard Hale
IS THE LAW DEAD?
Thou shall have no other god before me
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
Honor thy Father and thy Mother
Thou shalt not kill
Thou shalt not commit adultery
Thou shalt not steal
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
Thou shalt not covet
Christians in most churches today believe that The Law of God has been "put away." This teaching is an aspect of Dispensational Theology wherein Christians are taught that we are presently living in a "dispensation" of Grace and the "dispensation" of the Law was for Old Testament times only.
In the early 1990s, I came across some very sound arguments refuting the Dispensationalist position. Having been thoroughly indoctrinated into the "Law is dead" theology, I found it very difficult to overcome my cognitive dissonant "knee-jerk" reaction when exposed to a doctrinal position that was the exact opposite of what I had always believed. I wanted to know the argument from both sides of the issue, and with a lot of prayer and trusting God's Holy Spirit to lead me, I began to research both arguments.
Fortunately, I had already read and studied the writings of Francis Schaeffer a decade earlier and his logical approach to Christian principles would play a large role in my research. One of the soundest principles I came to believe form Mr. Schaeffer's writings and lectures was his teaching that there can be no morals if there are no absolutes. His Trilogy is a must read; HE IS THERE AND HE IS NOT SILENT, THE GOD WHO IS THERE, AND ESCAPE FROM REASON.
Schaeffer further taught that man is insufficient in himself to establish a set of absolutes that are applicable to all men at all times. Only God has the capability to set such principles and the absolutes which God gave us are known as, The Ten Commandments. If the Ten Commandments are not absolute and applicable for all time, then we have no moral code by which to live. My continued research led me to understand that the Ten Commandments are THE LAW!
When most people refer to The Law, they are including the 700+ statutes and judgments which Moses wrote down subsequent to his experience on Mount Sinai. I have to include myself in that group when I first began my research. I was faced with the dilemma with which many others have struggled. which of the 700+ statutes and judgments would be applicable today? How could any be eliminated if, as I then believed, they were absolute? An example of this, and there are many, would be the law found in
"Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard."
How would this statute apply to us today? Another example is found at
"And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even,"
During menstruation, should a man have his wife live in separate quarters until she is finished with her monthly cycle? These and many other similar questions put me into a quandary because I knew that Frances Schaeffer was correct in his reasoning, but which part of those 700+ statutes and judgments were applicable and which were not?
Each moral statute that Moses wrote related to one of the Ten Commandments. The statutes about usury related to the commandment, "Thou Shalt not steal." Those statutes would still be applicable today although they could be rewritten to apply to our circumstances. Another confusion arises when people do not differentiate between the moral statutes and the health laws, agricultural laws and food laws. Although these laws are not moral in nature, they were written for our well-being and they should be applied as well.
Another aspect of my research, which I believed to be unrelated at the time, was my study of the Internal Revenue Code and other American Laws. In time I came to understand that laws which are written by our Congress are inert until such time that a regulation is written which implements them. A Supreme Court ruling expresses it well: In United States v. Mersky 361 US 431, 437, 438(1959) it was ruled:
[N]either the statute nor the regulations are complete without the other, and only together do they have any force. In effect, therefore, the construction of one necessarily involves the construction of the other."
Although our laws are not absolutes, the principle expressed here would cause me to realize the relationship between The Ten Commandments and the statutes and judgments that arose from them. The principle in law is SUBSTANCE OVER FORM. The substance of God's law is the Ten Commandments and the form was the 700+ statutes and judgments that arose from them. The Substance is abiding while the form may change over time and circumstance.
The statutes and judgments recorded in the Old Testament were the way in which The Law was implemented into the Israelite culture of the time. Subsequently, I read The Institutes of Biblical law by Rousas J. Rushdoony wherein he shows exactly how The Ten Commandments could be implemented into our society today, His work is an exhaustive treatise and although I don't agree with all of his conclusions, he certainly had a grasp of The Law and its implementation. Dr. Greg Bahnsen's work, Theonomy in Christian Ethics further solidifies the Scriptural foundation of the abiding validity of God's Law. After reading Bahnsen's book I realized how shallow the Dispensationalist theology was and how lacking in Biblical support were their conclusions.
The form of law which appeared first in England and then in America known as, "the common law," was the closest that western civilization has come in having a law system based on The Ten Commandments. The common law can be traced right back to Mount Sinai. It is a law system that affords the greatest amount of individual freedom and demands the greatest amount of responsibility. Today we have a form of Roman Civil Law in America "civil rights" are actually privileges which can be altered, modified, redefined, or revoked by the state at will. The maxim, "ignorance of the law is no excuse," cannot be applied to Roman Civil Law simply because there are millions of them but does apply to common law.
Finally, I began to see how and why the theological teaching that, "The Law is Dead" had gained acceptance. What is not understood by those who teach this doctrine is the devastating effects upon our society and our western culture. I would reiterate, if there are no absolutes, there are no morals.
Is it any wonder that every denomination has their own set of "sins?" I would attend one church which taught that dancing and drinking were sins and then attend another church that taught just the opposite. Both denominations had their "pet" verses they used to support their various claims. That's exactly why we have hundreds of denominations, and they can't agree on what the Scripture teaches is sin and what is not sin. It only solidifies my belief that men are incapable of determining morals or absolutes.
Paul tells us in his epistle to the Romans:
"For whatsoever things were written afortime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
The 700+ statutes and judgments were written for our learning to teach us how to apply God's Law to our society. Those same statutes would be applicable today in principle (substance) but many require a different application (form) to today's society. They are the implementation of The Law, The Ten Commandments.
The Law was never put away and the confusion arises because men have not understood that the writings of Paul teach us about justification apart from The Law. He is correct, and to conclude that this teaching causes The Law to cease is a gross misunderstanding of Christian theology. The abiding validity of The Law was taught throughout the New Testament by Paul and all of the disciples.
1 John 3:4
"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law."
If The Law is dead, then John was a fool and we should ignore everything he wrote, as well as all the writings of Paul. Apart from God's Law, you cannot define sin.
Those who teach that, "The Law is Dead," are antinomians (opponents of the moral law) and one of their favorite verses used to support their erroneous beliefs is Paul's statement in Colossians:
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;"
Antinomians use this Scripture to provide proof that The Law was nailed to the cross. This is not the case. The Law is not mentioned in this verse. The Greek word for "ordinances" is dogma. Dogma comprises those religious beliefs held by tradition or practice and promulgated by religious leaders. The Greek word for law is nomos. Paul never said that the Nomos had been nailed to the cross but rather the dogma of,..."touch not; taste not; handle not;..." for these are "the commandments and doctrines of men," Colossians 2:22. He nailed the rituals and mens' practice to the cross and removed them.
If you understand that The Ten Commandments are the absolutes by which we must live our lives and that statutes and judgments were the implementation of those laws, then it isn't hard to understand that we still need The Law of God in our society today.
It is the Responsibility of Christian churches to lay the foundation upon which society should function and by teaching that God's law has been "done away," they have aided in the destruction of Christian societies everywhere. Regardless of other teachings common to Dispensationalists, I would reject their theology if for no other reason than this one dogmatic error because of the consequences attached to it. It is the Church that has declared that the only set of moral absolutes ever given to man is dead and of no effect. Pastors and theologians have taken the position of the Pharisees of old and have set aside the law of God and now they alone will tell us what is right and wrong by their traditions. Two Scriptures come to mind;
"But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men."
2 Peter 3:16
"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable rest, as they do also the other scriptures unto their own destruction.
The Law of God is not grievous.1 John 5:3
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
There can be no justice outside of God's Law. If we want a decent and orderly society, then we must undergird it with a solid foundation. That foundation is Christ and His Law. There can be no other.
"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."
For a more in-depth study order
There's a Hailstrom Coming
by G. Richard Hale
Mr. Hale discusses these errors of Judeo-Christianity in 132 pages.
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