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Question and Answer

Theonomy and the OPC

Question:

Does the OPC have a position on theonomy, or done any "official" studies on the subject?

Answer:

To the best of my knowledge, our General Assembly has never appointed a study committee on theonomy, which is how a matter would be dealt with by our entire denomination. Our official doctrinal positions are found in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (which is subordinate to the Bible, of course, and which we believe is an accurate summary of its essential doctrines). The Orthodox Presbyterian Church would have an "official position" on theonomy if the Westminster Standards somehow required it or ruled it out of bounds.

The problem is that "theonomy" is a rather broad category, encompassing a range of views. A number of self-described theonomists disagree with each other on various points of doctrine. Thus, the relationship of theonomy to the Westminster Standards depends on what "brand" of theonomy is under discussion.

Some critics of theonomy argue that it contradicts the Westminster Standards' on how the Law of God given to Moses is to be applied to day (Westminster Confession of Faith ch. 19). Some theonomists argue their views are in fact required by the Westminster Standards. All theonomists (to the best of my knowledge) would argue their views are at the very least allowable by the Westminster Standards.

As you can see, I'm unable to give a clear answer to your question because there is no one definition of the term "theonomy." You will find a range of opinion in the OPC regarding theonomy, but no official position on the movement one way or the other.


About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by email. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

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