There are some pretty massive — we’re talking Death Star sized — misconceptions floating around the world of Christendom concerning theonomy, but one of the objections that seems to pop up on an endless loop like a horrific Justin Bieber tune, slowly driving me to the brink of madness, is when folks think theonomists believe in adhering to the ceremonial law.
Like Christian radio/television host Todd Friel for example:
I respectfully asked the question of my theonomic friends: those people who believe that somehow, in some way, shape, or form, Jewish law from the Mosaic Covenant—pretty much the stuff you read about in Exodus, Deuteronomy—all of those laws—and I mean all [of] it—eating, dietary laws, civil issues, ceremonial issues—that they somehow should be brought forth and applied to America.
So I’m not entirely sure which group of theonomists Friel is chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and shootin’ some b-ball outside of the school with — Fresh Prince reference for the win — but it sure isn’t anyone I know, because all of the theonomic adherents I’ve studied have all agreed the ceremonial law is fulfilled in Christ and believers are no longer required to observe those practices.
So, to the Christian exploring theonomy for the first time, terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought about the idea of giving up the delicious awesomeness that is bacon, relax. Take a deep breath.
You can — and absolutely should — keep on devouring one of the Lord’s most tasty treats, eating and enjoying this good gift to the glory of God.
You see, the vast majority of truly reformed theonomists believe Christians are bound to the moral law — Ten Commandments and civil case laws as an extension of the Decalogue — not dietary restrictions or the observance of Jewish holidays and feast days.
Granted, we believe the ceremonial law is still binding, but thanks to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, those who have faith in Him are keeping this law for eternity by believing in Him.
But hey, don’t take my word for it, let’s see what the Bible has to say about it and do this thang Sola Scriptura style.
Now, we should assume all of God’s law is binding on us today, unless otherwise stated in the New Testament. In the book of Acts and the gospels, changes were made to the observance of the ceremonial law, making it clear we no longer were expected to keep them.
Several places in the book of Hebrews explain to us that the ceremonial laws were shadows, types pointing forward to their fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross.
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. — Hebrews 8:1-7
Here’s a little more wisdom from my main man — besides Jesus — the Apostle Paul from Romans 14:5-6:
One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks
In Acts 10, the Apostle Peter gets a vision where God makes it clear all foods are clean, a message meant to help him understand it was all chill for him to go hang with Gentiles and share the good news of the gospel with them.
Then we have Mark 7:18-23:
And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[f] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
As you can clearly see from the texts above, all of the ceremonial law has been fulfilled, and those who have faith in Jesus are keeping that law now and forever, therefore, we no longer have to obey these restrictions and observances.
In other words, Gentiles were no longer ceremonially unclean. The distinction between Jew and Gentile is wiped out in Christ.
As a theonomist — and lover of Reformed theology — I 100 percent believe salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Law keeping in any way, shape or form, lacks the ability to save us from the wrath of God.
In fact, the law condemns us by pointing out that in our natural state it’s impossible for us to keep the law, therefore we stand condemned before God, needing a Rescuer to save us from a fate worse than death.
Jesus is the promised Rescuer who lived a sinless life of perfect obedience to all of God’s law, who died on a cross, crushed by the Father in order to save those promised to Him in eternity past.
However, the Lord doesn’t just save us from the wrath of God we deserve and then flush His law down the toilet. No, He writes the law — moral, not ceremonial — on our hearts, and by the power of the Holy Spirit gives us a deep love for the law and a desire to obey it, not just outwardly, but in our heart attitudes as well.
What this means is that we’re to seek to love God and neighbor with all our hearts, and one of the ways we can accomplish that is by sitting down and enjoying a nice, piping hot plate of crispy bacon together!