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DOUG WILSON'S CIVIL ANTINOMIANISM, PORNOGRAPHY, AND THE ANABAPTISTS BY Dr. REG BARROW (SWRB)
TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2011
Posted by: Still Waters Revival Books | more..
4,600+ views | 1,020+ clicks
BLOG ON: SERMON Sexual Purity & 7th Comm. 8/10
Still Waters Revival Books
Francis Nigel Lee
PORNOGRAPHY, THE ANABAPTISTS AND DOUG WILSON'S CIVIL ANTINOMIANISM by Dr. REG BARROW
(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:
ht tp:// www.s wrb.c om/ne wslet t/act ualnl s/CRT PWors .htm] , my
_Psalm Singing in Scripture and History_ [free at:
ht tp:// www.s wrb.c om/ne wslet t/act ualnl s/CRT PsSin g.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.

Continued at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/porn.htm

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PORNOGRAPHY, THE ANABAPTISTS AND DOUG WILSON'S CIVIL ANTINOMIANISM by Dr. REG BARROW

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