You can listen to this in podcast form over at Reconstructionist Radio.
My previous article released last month called, “Understanding God’s Covenantal World,” was meant to introduce you to the truly biblical way of looking at God and His relationship to the world. I am convinced that getting this paradigm right will absolutely equip you to tackle any issue you may face. The reason, of course, is because once we get a solid worldview in place, we can, as Paul says, “Destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Getting covenantal thinking down will not only unlock the Scriptures, it will add some proverbial ammo to your Reconstructionist arsenal.
Getting a covenantal worldview was and is the most important thing to the practice of theology. Which is to say, we may now walk the walk and talk the talk. Theology isn’t meant to be a vacuous endeavor where we banter and go about our lives and do that “other stuff.” No, theology is war, and war is the implementation of the law-word of God in every nook and cranny of life. That’s the beauty of Christian Reconstruction, that’s the beauty of properly understanding how God has structured His world.
While I’m not going to rehearse everything I mentioned last time (you can go back and read it if you missed it), I am going to remind you of the covenant model as revealed in Scripture. Remember, everything is covenantal, nothing is neutral. The 5-point model is as follows:
- Transcendence. This refers to ultimate sovereignty. God is the only ultimate, transcendent sovereign. He created and sustains all things. All things owe their origin and purpose in the sovereignty of God. He is distinct yet involved with His creation. When God gave his law-treaty to Israel, when he brought them out of Egypt, he established his sovereignty as the conquering warrior King who is the only Sovereign. Everyone and everything is derived from this first point of the covenant. Who’s in charge? God.
- Hierarchy. This is God’s hierarchical system of law enforcement. It’s how God is set up to execute his plans. There is an established order underneath point 1 of the covenantal model. Man sits underneath God’s authority. Man is God’s covenantal man. What needs to be clear with regard to this point of the covenant is that man is God’s agent for dominion in the world and only when he is restored in Christ can he actually achieve it. Therefore, it is appropriate to say that Christ is the one who has been established as the hierarchical leader in this part of the covenant. Stated another way, Jesus Christ has been established as King of kings and Lord of lords, who, according to Matthew 28, has all authority in heaven and on the earth, and this kingdom is a mediatorial kingdom that will be turned over to the Father in accordance with 1 Corinthians 15 after King Jesus destroys His enemies. God is the sovereign, that’s point 1, Jesus is King, and we are in Him; that’s point two.
- Ethics. This is the law of the Kingdom of God. Laws are the terms and conditions of the covenant. Law establishes what the Suzerain expects of the vassals. When God gave his covenant law-word, he was establishing His peace treaty. Law is a peace treaty because law sets the conditions necessary for man to be in relationship with God. It doesn’t save a man, for only the gospel can do so. But the law and gospel work together; they are friends, not enemies. The opposite of law is lawlessness, not grace. We should also note that the law of God and only the law of God is the true law in the universe. The self-proclaimed despots of any kingdom who subjugate men under their supposed “law” are actually subjugating them under lawlessness. Only God’s law reigns supreme in God’s covenant world.
- Oaths. These are God’s covenant sanctions. An oath ratifies the treaty. It calls forth God’s judgment—which can be either blessings for obedience, or cursing for violations. Covenant loyalty is the key in this point. In Deuteronomy 28-29, for example, God lays out the sanctions against people and nations who will not submit to God’s law treaty. A man who doesn’t want the covenant is not in a position of neutrality, he is a covenant breaker. Only the gospel moves a covenant breaker to a covenant keeper. Only when the Spirit of God writes the law treaty on our hearts can we actually experience blessing. That doesn’t mean, however, that a Christian is free from any of God’s judgments in history. God will judge nations in the end, and he judges nations in the present. All of it depends on covenant faithfulness. Faith without works is dead.
- Succession. This is the issue of time. This last point of the biblical covenant has everything to do with where this outfit is heading. Where is this relationship with God going? What’s your theology of time? God is the Lord in time and the Lord uses time to establish His Kingdom. Ray Sutton prefers “continuity,” but the concept is the same. This is an issue of covenant renewal: will there be a confirmation and transfer of inheritance? Who are the true heirs of God’s world? The children of the promise? Or the children of Satan? Will Satan inherit the earth, or will God’s meek children inherit it? This flows out of point 4 because those who will not obey will be disinherited and displaced. Covenants can be dissolved. Covenantal death is a real thing. The question is, where is this thing heading? What is the plan for the future? This is an issue of eschatology.
So how might this be deployed as we engage the world with the gospel message? Great question. Let me explain.
Having an ethical/judicial hermeneutic rooted in covenantal thinking which says that everything is covenantal, and nothing is neutral, means that you are establishing a worldview based upon the inerrant word of God. You are developing a worldview rooted in actual, revealed, objective truth. When we talked about the covenantal, ontology of God, we’re talking about things as they are, not things as we think them to be. This type of worldview, then, is at war with other worldviews. Jesus told us that if we aren’t with him, we’re against him (Matthew 12:30). There is no gray area, no neutral ground. Which means that if we don’t have covenantal thinking rooted in God as He is, we’re giving ourselves over to a worldview that is at odds with God.
Let’s test this theory. Remember Karl Marx? Influence by Darwin, Marx developed his own theories of history and societal evolution. For him, history is simply the wealthy class and working class at odds. This gave rise to Communism as the State inevitably needed to take control and fill the void (remember, there is no neutrality). The only real true meaning to life and history is serving the State’s means and ends—thus the elimination of individual purpose, and in its place comes the obsession over collectivism. At its root, this is a philosophical issue, but it certainly had and still has real-world, tangible implications. No one (should) like big government.
Let’s look at our model to critique this worldview. If God the Trinity isn’t the transcendent “One and Many,” then who is? For Marx and other humanist philosophers, there really isn’t a “need” for a transcendent law-giver, a transcendent being whose objective truth and morality matters. Once point one is obscured, does it really matter? Remember: everything is covenantal, nothing is neutral. Which means that despite Marx’s agenda, and despite Satan’s attempts behind all humanist doctrine, there can be no elimination of the Sovereignty of God. The only thing men can do is pretend that they are the sovereign ones. Which means that, as evident in Marx’s ideology, and any subsequent man-centered humanist philosophy–their efforts are futile. Sure, man can think he’s sovereign, and thus use his oppression to form his own counterfeit covenant structures (how many atheistic tyrants did folks like Pol Pot kill again? Stalin? Ah yes… about that); despite these counterfeit covenants structures, they cannot escape the necessary implications of their worldview. Hence the no neutrality doctrine. When you mess with point 1, you don’t suddenly have no points, you have counterfeit points—after all, ideas do have consequences, and you can’t beat something with nothing.
When men try and usurp point 1, setting up a faulty point 2, they end up with a messed up point 3. Look at America. Instead of Lex Rex, we have Rex Lex, the King being secularism’s phony god—Demos (the people). Lawlessness becomes the default posture du jour. This is why we have homosexual marriage and abortion—lawlessness loves to take over when point 3 is messed with.
The issue of law in our society is a tricky one because, not only have the pagans been able to fly under the radar of the faulty notion of religious freedom and separation of church a state, they’ve now been able to legislate their immorality. Again, covenantal thinking is inescapable: “To whom (or what) might you appeal to in order to justify a man playing the soft one in bed with another man?” The silence is deafening.
Covenantal thinking helps us realize what is happening around us. When someone tries to throw off point 1, and thus point 2, point 3 isn’t far behind. “Why again, is it okay to butcher these babies and sell their parts, again?” Mother’s choice? Mother’s life? I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the sound of your hypocrisy, Mr. No-Standard. The same lawless thing happens when you have sodomites flooding the streets with signs that read, “Choose love, not hate,” all the while chanting, “Christians are hateful bigots.” It’s like they don’t even see it.
When you cast off the law of God, you do not suddenly have no law, you have lawlessness, and if you don’t have a biblical worldview, you can’t see straight (Ps. 119:105). Remember, we have the glasses and we can see. All the world has is their drunken orgies and they can’t walk straight.
Which leads us to the application of point 4. God judges men in history, and one of the ways he does so is through the lowering of his hand. Once his hand of grace is lowered, the flood of his divine wrath takes over. How is he judging America? Look at covenantal thinking. When God judges nations, he gives them tyrants. When God judges churches, he lets them entertain themselves with skinny jeans and mochas (and I like mochas). Sometimes we assume that fire from the sky is how God judges nations, but it’s not always the case. Part of God’s judgment is rooted in point 2 and 3. He will allow men to accumulate for themselves people like Joel Osteen and Donald Trump. By the way, you know what the difference is between Statism and anarchy? A necktie.
Back to God’s judgment: God allows men to set up for themselves abhorrent hierarchies, and lawless societies. The judgment of God was Roe and Obergefell. The further judgment is the statism and anarchy that you see on the news every night. Marx is quite happy in his grave.
What about point 5 of the covenant model? What about eschatology? As a postmillennialist, I’ve had to endure some friendly ridicule because most people who aren’t postmillennial don’t understand postmillennialism. “Does this look like winning to you!?” they say. Usually I say, yes, but just because you didn’t score in the bottom of the 5th and the other team did, doesn’t mean we’re losing the game. You forgot that in the first inning, Jesus rose from the dead and we’re up by a trillion runs.
At any rate, when you deploy the covenant model, you quickly have to deal with eschatology and the issue of time. Humanists think the world is about to blow up because these rednecks won’t quit buying Ford trucks. Humanists also think that time is somehow circular and that history repeats itself. If you don’t think statists, humanists, anarchists, Muslims, and Mormons doesn’t have an idea about point 5, you’re going to need to sit down.
Remember, there is no neutrality. There is no neutral eschatology. Premillennialists are trying to fix their charts right now while Amillennialists aren’t quite sure what to do. Here we Postmils are laying out the biblical blueprints for history, because after all, the Bible isn’t a book about what to do when you get to heaven. Because there is no neutral eschatology, either we will believe Jesus is enthroned and putting his enemies under his feet now, or we will believe that he’s ‘sorta’ king, but these other worldviews are going to win out, so we better start canning spaghetti sauce.
Point 5 is the issue of succession, or covenantal inheritance. Which means that we get to stand up and say, “Jesus bought this place with His blood, it belongs to him; get over yourself.” (Yes, we will try to smile when we say it.) Deploying a covenantal worldview like this means that you have to get in the fight for culture because the gospel addresses culture. Which means that applying this worldview in your parenting is a non-negotiable. Your children need to know that this earth belongs to them, no matter what the looting bureaucrats say about property tax. The Lord is faithful to a thousand generations, which means that those who are faithful in obedience to his law-word will receive those blessings. It’s the impotent humanists who are castrated in history.
Applying this ethical/judicial hermeneutic takes a lot of patience and a lot of careful thought. Part of the reason so much of this is foreign to the church is because the church has been way too busy designing bible covers. Instead of engaging in the culture, we’re retreated and said, “No thanks.” After all, “this world is not our home.” Which means that Pietism is literally killing us.
I’ve asked this several times with different people, especially at our church, because I don’t think people have put 2 and 2 together. Why does it feel like the church is being railroaded in public right now? It feels that way because it’s actually happening. But why? Why are we being trampled? The answer is very, very simple. Think of the word “trampled.” Didn’t Jesus say something about this?
Matthew 5:13 — “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
Feel the weight of this indictment. I realize that we’re in quite the predicament. I mentioned in a recent sermon how America today continues to be a pluralistic blender with no lid, and someone keeps adding Red Bull to it. Everyone’s upset, and no one is thinking. Emotions are high, careful, tactical thoughtfulness is low. This isn’t just what’s happening outside the church, the same is true on the inside.
But the point I’m making is, perhaps we’ve lost our saltiness? Not just the issue of preserving meat and giving flavor, perhaps we’re being trampled because we’re not bringing God’s judicial governance to bear on culture? After all, salt in scripture isn’t just a cute metaphor. Abimelech in Judges 9:45 “razed the city and sowed it with salt.” Part of what it means to be salt in culture has everything to do with these covenantal ideas. We are to bring, through means of the gospel and the proper application of the Word of God, God’s judgment in a society. Which is why we should be praying judgment on all civil leaders who refuse to address the issue of abortion. Which is why we ought to be engaged in the war through means of the word of God. Our weapons are not carnal, but that’s not the same as saying we have no weapons.
Applying the covenant worldview is a must for the church. A sound recovery of the sovereignty of God and man’s proper role under His authority is crucial. A recovery of the law of God and an understanding of God’s judgments and blessings in history—we are in dire need of.
But most of all, we have to remember that this is a gospel issue. The good news isn’t just about man’s personal salvation. It’s also about the arrival of the Kingdom of God in history. And the tool of God’s covenantal law-word is our main way to engage the world, and see men fall to their knees in worship of the King.
For any counterfeit covenant, we can call it for what it is, and bring God’s true ethical/judicial standard to bear on it. Once we get our thinking straight, and start to implement these things, I’m betting God will use it in a profound way—perhaps a revival of the church’s understanding of these things would lead to a Reformation that makes the 16th Century look like mere footnote in history.
Thanks for reading. Soli Deo Gloria.