Friday, March 21, 2008

Gerson on Obama and Theonomy


One fairly typical commentary about Barack Obama’s “race” speech came from neocon Mike Gerson. Gerson, an evangelical who graduated from Wheaton College, was formerly the wordsmith of that fine rhetorician, George W. Bush. From his perch at the Washington Post, Gerson is what passes for a Christian in the public square.

So to whom does he compare Jeremiah Wright? Greg Bahnsen and R. J. Rushdoony. According to Gerson’s sharp theological mind, theonomy is comparable to Wright’s crackpot assertions that the CIA is filling urban America with crack and created AIDS to destroy Black America. Writes Gerson,

The better analogy is this: What if a Republican presidential candidate spent years in the pew of a theonomist church -- a fanatical fragment of Protestantism that teaches the modern political validity of ancient Hebrew law? What if the church's pastor attacked the U.S. government as illegitimate and accepted the stoning of homosexuals and recalcitrant children as appropriate legal penalties (which some theonomists see as biblical requirements)? Surely we would conclude, at the very least, that the candidate attending this church lacked judgment and that his donations were subsidizing hatred. And we would be right.

Let’s forget the stoning of homosexuals and discuss Gerson’s claims regarding recalcitrant children. Here is the passage from Deuteronomy:
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

The law serves, first, as a limitation on family authority. In pagan antiquity, fathers had absolute jurisdiction and authority over their children and could kill them, leave them victim to exposure, etc. Here the Mosaic Law establishes a limitation on family authority, and civil authorities enter the picture only at the behest of upholding God’s law.

Second, the law requires that a family line up with law and order, God’s order, even against flesh and blood. In other words not blood, but law is to govern.

The point is that no Hebrew could be a professional criminal. This law is not meant to apply to small children. The purpose of this case law was to eliminate those whose way of life was systematically and habitually criminal.

How might this work in the real world? Take for example the recent murders of Abhijit Mahato and Eve Carson (pictured above). They were murdered by two “incorrigible delinquents” named Laurence Lovette and Demario Atwater.

Lovette’s career as a criminal was quite productive despite his youth. Here is a newspaper blurb:

Lovette turned 17 last November. Within weeks, he was on probation. Within months, authorities allege, he embarked on a crime spree that started with the slaying of a graduate student at Duke University and ended with the fatal shooting of the University of North Carolina's student body president.

Police charged Lovette with first-degree murder Thursday in the January death of Abhijit Mahato, just hours after Lovette surrendered in last week's death of North Carolina student body president Eve Carson.

In between those killings, court records show, the teenager from Durham was arrested several times and charged with felonies ranging from burglary to car theft to resisting arrest.

Trials were pending on nine charges. He paid a fine for a traffic violation. And the whole time, he was on probation for a pair of crimes committed ten days before his 17th birthday: misdemeanor larceny and breaking and entering, pleaded down from felonies.


Atwater’s criminal resume included convictions for larceny, drug possession, breaking and entering and felony possession of a firearm.

Instead of dealing with these thugs in a manner befitting their crimes, the “criminal justice system” saw fit to send them back into society repeatedly so that they could ultimately murder two young people to steal their Ipods. The “fanatical” theonomist would simply have purged the evil from our midst before it was allowed to engulf and snuff out the lives of two innocents.

May God give us fewer Mike Gersons and more "fanatics."

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't normally leave comments, but I wanted to let you know that I always find your posts thought-provoking and interesting. I often tell my husband or father, you need to read the Dow Blog today. Thank you for giving us a lot to think about!

8:05 AM  
Blogger Mocheirge said...

Consider this irony: to a neocon like Gerson, pre-emptive execution of incorrigible children is hideously immoral; pre-emptive slaughter of nations is righteous.

Amusingly (in a sick way), Gerson's CFR page lists his expertise as "Democracy promotion" and "human rights issues."

1:30 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

Thank you for the kind of words. Of late, I've been wondering if anyone is reading.

Mocheirge, that is an excellent point. I would only add that I'm not endorsing the execution of children. In part, we have a problem in that childhood and adolescence is, in many cases, defined now into the thirties. But I think that 16 and 17-year-old kids who are committing these sorts of crimes deserve harsh punishment.

But it is interesting that so many neocons who might have qualms about executing thuggish killers would unleash destruction on innocent civilians.

3:25 PM  

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