The Covenantal Orthodoxy of Daniel Ritchie: A Response to Greg Loren Durand’s “The Covenantal Nomism of Daniel Ritchie”
It is interesting how many who are very vocal in arguing that theonomy leads to the heretical Federal Vision (FV) movement (which teaches salvation by works), are not so vocal about the fact that the theonomic Reformed Presbyterian Church of the United States (RPCUS) was the first denomination to condemn the FV, and, that it is the largely non-theonomic Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) (the two largest ostensibly conservative Presbyterian denominations) that have tolerated the FV and allowed it to fester within their ranks.
In fact, the RPCUS—which condemned the FV the very year of its inception, in 2002—was accused of condemning the FV too hastily.
While critics of theonomy (here we refer to the second and third definitions of theonomy) have not been able to refute it, some resort to guilt by association attacks, saying, “see all those theonomists within Federal Vision (FV) circles! This proves theonomy promotes salvation by works!”
But linking theonomy with the FV heresy is fallacious for several reasons:
1. As we mentioned, it is a guilt-by-association argument, and such arguments are logical fallacies.
2. There will be heresies within the circles of even the most legitimate theologies. The Apostle Paul warned “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29, 30)
Whenever people attack theonomy by saying it promotes salvation by works, ask them to define their terms.
Theonomy, as I understand it, has 3 basic meanings:
1) It means literally “God’s law.” “The word theonomy is simply a combination of the Greek words for God and law, theos and nomos.” (William Einwechter, “Family Squabble,” Part I [footnote 6])
In this sense, all true Christians are theonomists, since all true Christians uphold God’s law (while sometimes disagreeing on the validity of certain laws for today) . All who are born again will naturally love God’s law and bear good fruit in obeying God’s law (albeit imperfectly).