Among those four views, with the exception of one (which will be explained later), they are all saying the same thing - the law of God is to be the very foundation from which all our modern laws are to be derived.
Ethically speaking, the Second Psalm portrays God responding to political opposition against Christ by calling upon “the kings…[and] judges of the earth” to become wise and instructed (v. 10). It is utter moral foolishness to disobey the King whom Jehovah has enthroned. It is noteworthy that this verse is addressed, not simply to the magistrates of theocratic Israel, but to all of the kings and judges “of the earth,” even (especially) to those who dare to exercise civil rule in defiance of Jesus Christ. We cannot escape the clear biblical truth that each and every earthly ruler stands under the divinely established moral obligation to “serve Jehovah with fear…[and] kiss the Son “ (vv. 11-12). Serving the Lord with fear unquestionably means obeying His commandments (cf. Josh. 22:5; Ps. 119:112-126; Deut. 10:12-13).
The dichotomy between “the-private-as-religious” idea and “the-public-as-secular” idea is wholly arbitrary and artificial. The public affairs of society and the state are no less religious than the so-called private affairs of individual, church, home, and school life. … Since all of life is religion, and since the Bible as a book of religion speaks to life as a whole, the question is not whether but how the Bible speaks to issues of society and the state. The question is not whether Scripture addresses matters of public justice, but how it addresses them.
I wish to show that it is in accordance with Scripture and, therefore, natural for Christians to try to establish central biblical, Christian values by law in our one large corner of this fallen world. The current American doctrine that our society must be pluralistic in the sense that all values and value judgments are equally acceptable, is self-contradictory and destructive.
Because Jesus has come, the time when God overlooks the ignorance of kings and nations is past! God now “commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:30-31) … The lesson is clear: God will no longer tolerate kings who blasphemously claim divinity. Jesus is now the ruler of all things, and he will not allow earthly kings to steal His glory. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). That is the most important political fact of our time.
Three of these views are actually very close in principle to advocating the same position. And that becomes not only evident in the content itself but also the remarks made by the different contributors.
For instance, Kevin Clauson’s “The Christian America Response to Theonomy” basically agrees point by point with much of what Bahnsen advocated in his opening position. Clauson's beginning footnote in the article states: “I accept theprinciple of theonomy, and I will direct my comments to certain related subjects with that presupposition in mind” (p. 61).
In Bahnsen’s closing remarks, he states: “Both H. B. Harrington (for the national confession position) and Kevin L. Clauson (for the Christian America position) have replied to my essay in a way that indicates that their perspectives agree essentially with the theonomic viewpoint. Despite peripheral variation in details of application, at the heart of our political theory and understanding as Christians, the theonomic, national confession, and Christian America positions are one. … A key achievement of our consultation was that it disclosed this underlying unity among the three perspectives” (p. 234).
What Bahnsen goes on to say is what the reader naturally sees in his progress through the book anyway: “that within the Reformed community today (even as in the Reformed heritage) the peculiar position is that of pluralism” (p. 234).
And Principled Pluralism is indeed the view that is not like the others.
While above there were comments made by Gordon Spykman (representing the Principled Pluralism view) indicating that Christ is ruler over every aspect of life - including government and politics, the rest of the essay tries to demonstrate a very complex view of what that looks like in the different sphere-sovereignty outlooks he presents. His authority, then, for the state switches from the Lord Jesus Christ to society: “The state has a specifically limited scope, bounded and balanced [not by Scripture but] by the rights of other societal groupings and spheres” (p. 97). In other words, state justice is dictated by societal groupings and spheres rather than God’s Word.
It is no wonder that in application he ends up taking what God did not establish as civil law and advocates that it should be made civil law (Example: the government giving preferential treatment to the poor, p. 87, 88; contra Lev. 19:15) as well as civil laws that ought to be laws being advocated as abrogated (Example: giving an unbridled freedom of religion, p. 99 ; contra Deut. 13:6-10) - does he really think worshipers of Molech (or a similar modern religion) should be protected by the civil magistrate, even if part of their worship (freedom of religion) is to make their children pass through fire and die as a sacrifice to such a god? Whether he does or not, his view leaves that open if applied consistently.
Nonetheless, with the exception of the Principled Pluralism approach (which was severely dismantled by the responses from the other views as well as Bahnsen’s major response at the end), all the other views are very close and truly the same in principle. There were minor disagreements regarding the history of America and how the founding fathers approached the foundations to government, as well as disagreements regarding specifics on how exactly the laws of Scripture ought to be applied today. But overall out of the 12 contributors (not counting the 4 advocates of Principled Pluralism), all of them had one very clear voice: the Law of the Lord ought to be the law of all societies. And that is simply Scripture applied (Deut. 4:8; Heb. 2:2; cf. Ps. 2:1-12).
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