By this Standard!

I have just finished reading one of Greg Bahnsen’s major work entitled: By This Standard. In this 350-page excellent defense of theonomic ethics, Bahnsen articulates and defends the basic premise of theonomy: that God’s law is the only law to be followed in the arena of ethics and civil justice. No other standard is greater and no other standard will do when it comes to ordering society and man’s lives.

Since the early 1990’s an attempt to refute theonomy’s basic premise (see above) was made by a confused and often contradictory group of scholars. Greg Bahnsen and others have replied en mass. Theonomy’s proliferation of books in the 80’s and 90’s made the opponents think twice before replying. I am still amazed that after so many years have passed since By This Standard was written, the same futile line of argumentation continues to be brought forth. By This Standard answers each argument with care and precision leaving absolutely no doubt to the absolute normativity of God’s law.

About Uri Brito

I am the Pastor of Providence Church (CREC) in Pensacola, Fl.
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5 Responses to By this Standard!

  1. adam says:


    I love it! When I argue with post-theonomists I always tell them that these arguments that they think are new were answered by Bahnsen (and others) YEARS ago. I’m yet to hear a new argument that was not dealt with by Bahnsen in his tapes, books, or articles.

    There are STILL only two options: theonomy, or autonomy.

  2. U.T. Brito says:

    Hey Adam,
    You’re absolutely right! I love that Van Til quote in the end. Oh, if he had joined the team. Out of curiosity, who would you put in the post-theonomos category?

  3. adam says:

    Sadly, the one who invented the word was James Jordan. Who is, essentially a theonomist, but doesn’t like to call himself one. Back in the early 90’s he was calling himself a theocrat, and he had what he called a theocratic critique of theonomy. He didn’t really have an argument against theonomy so much as an appeal for more discussion on theonomic hermeneutics, or something. Basically Jordan has a different hermeneutical bent than Bahnsen did…we all know that. Anyway, Tim Gallant is a post-theonomist as well. In my discussions with Leithart and Wilson I can say that they both are essentially theonomists, but that they tend to stray form the name because of the strong political association I suppose. It’s not a big battle for them.

    Personally I wish it it was still a big deal. I feel that just as theonomists were gaining ground the movement lost steam.

    I have to go.

  4. U.T. Brito says:

    I agree Adam,
    I chatted with Gallant on AOL a few months ago and asked him about theonomy and he was quick to say that he abandoned theonomy about 6 years ago. His main reason from what I remember was that his interest in Biblical theology led him away from it, but he says he is stil may be a postmillenialist in his understanding of Romans 11.
    I guess apart from Chalcedon and American Vision, there isn’t much being done out there since Bahnsen, Rushdoony, and Chilton died. Oh that GOd would raise men like them once more!

  5. adam says:


    I can only hope to become half the men that they were in terms of promoting the Lordship of Christ in ALL areas of life. We may not rise to their level in many ways, but we HAVE to continue to promote the Lordship of Christ in the arena of public policy. Anything less would be unfaithful. Let us remain committed to see that Christ and his lordship advanced in all areas of life.

    I could go on…needless to say it’s an issue I’m pretty passionate about. As far as Tim Gallant goes, I’ve talked to him about it a few times, and as much as I admire and appreciate him, I think he’s dead wrong. Furthermore, I think that Biblical Theology was part of what led me INTO the theonomic camp. I would submit that Tim’s approach to Biblical theology is coming very close to New Covenant theology and Dispensationalism in some respects. His theology reminds me of the Presbyterians of the first half of the 19th century who continued to hold to Calvinism in traditional forms, but ended up embracing and helping develop early Dispensational theology. Gallant’s willingness to allow for great discontinuity in some respects, while arguing for total continuity in other respects is somewhat inconsistent. I think non-theonomic biblical theologians have a REALLY hard time arguing for just HOW the law was supposedly “rescinded”, when Christ explicitly announced that it would not be rescinded, but established. Jordan’s arguments regarding Matthew 5 were a complete failure – again, as much as I respect and admire him.

    P.S. Jordan wrote some of the best theonomic work that you can still get on-line from free at

    Anyway, I should go. I’ll be in touch, I actually have an idea for us that you might be interested in. I’ll email you about it.

    Take care.

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