Think Tank 2012 Live-Blog Session: Two-ism and the Law (Jeff Ventrella)
Speaker: Jeff Ventrella (Alliance Defense Fund)
Session: Two-ism and the Law
My talk is on the beauty of two as it pertains to law.
It’s important to first recognize and remember that there is a Creator-creature disctinction – the notion that there is a transcendent and personal God. There are only two worldviews and both are deeply religious. I am speaking of One-ism vs. Two-ism. The law arises in this cultural milieu. And insofar as the law coinsides with Two-ism, the law will be beautiful.
Law implies that there is a law giver. And for laws to be given by men, there must be a standard, or law, above “the law”. Therefore, there must be an ultimate Law-Giver. This is the Two-ist worldview.
There will always be opponents to this idea of transcendent law and transcendent Law-Giver. We have and will continue to have such opponents, and they come in all shapes and sizes and vocations.
Tertullian (lawyer): “The principal crime of the human race, the highest guilt charged upon the world, the whole procuring cause of judgment, is idolatry.”
There are two primary forms of idolatry as it pertains to the law:
- The idol of the state
- The idol of the people
Both of these idols tend toward reductionism because they ascribe transcendence to creation rather than the Creator. This is One-ist. In contrast, Two-ism teaches that only God is truly transcendent; therefore, only His law can be truly transcendent. Time and time again, we see that when the legal world ascribes transcendence to creation, rather than the Creator, things go bad.
The question to ask: How to we discern this? In other words, by what standard do we make our laws?
When the Two-ist secular world asks the question “By what standard?” here are the answers they give:
- social utility
- sentiment of justice
- semi-intuitive apprehension of the pervading spirit of the law
- penumbras formed by emanations
These standards are reductionistic. It is One-ism.
If we only have a concept of a transcendent standard (i.e. Islam), we are left to turn to creation for direction. If we deny Him, we are still left to turn toward creation. It is only Christian worldview that law can be truly good – God is high, and He is also near. Jesus is the Lord of Lords. There is a legal dimension to this title. The Christian Two-ist worldview is both affirming and redeeming of law.
Remember, there is a Law above the law. Further, there is a particular concept that can be known about this law. Even when we have redemption there is still need for a law.
Note: Paradise was subject to law but was not hyper-regulated. Man was told to create and flourish as the image of God. Compare this to the mantra of “human rights”. What is “human rights” anyway? It is a code word for the supposed entitlement to whatever one desires. “If I want it, then I’m entitled to it legally.” “Not only do I want to do this, I have a right to!”
There is law implied from creation itself—its design and ordering.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men”
-Declaration of Independence.
Contrast this statement with Hitler: “If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not resort to the regular courts of justice, then all I can say is this: in this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the supreme judge of the German people…Everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot!” This is reductionism. There is no law above the law. No fixed standard. This echoes Psalm 2 in which leaders set selves against the anointing of God.
Justice Thurgood Marshall – “I do what i think is right and let the law catch up with me.”
Without God, who or what is transcendent?
- totalitarian sovereignty – Hobbes
- agreement – Rousseau
- pleasure – Bentham and Mill
- the stronger – Nietzsche
- “tolerance” – contemporary liberalism
We see Two-ism in distinction between animals and humans. Yet One-ist law is trying to subvert this. Beastiality is on the rise. There was also an instance in Europe in which a chimpanzee was able to sue a human being in its own name. We also see Two-ism in the distinction between man and woman. Yet One-ist law is trying to subvert this too. We also see Two-ism in the distinction of families. In the created order there is mediated institution. Government in One-ist thinking is the State. Government in Two-ist thinking takes into account other forms of government. For example: self-government (Paul: those who do not work will go hungry), family government (1 Timothy 5:8), and church government.
Gen 3 is animated by One-ist thinking – the drive to be like God. It leads to rebellion. In Genesis 4 we see the institution of family government subverted. Consider Solomon: the wisest man was taken out by God’s design for marriage. Consider Samson: the strongest man was taken out by God’s design for marriage.
“Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?’ He answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” – Matthew 19:1-6
One-ists either join what God made separate, or they separate what God has joined:
- baby in womb
- red letter christian (those who create canon within a canon)
- the “I’m for jesus but against religion” mentality
Jesus in Revelation: return, remember, and repent. Titus: He came to redeem us from all lawlessness.
“God’s law, the law of nature is binding all over the globe, in all countries, and at all times.” – William Blackstone