The Third Paradigm

The Third Paradigm, God and Government in the 21st Century, by Mark Ludwig ★★
I’ve had many discussions with brother Dennis regarding the nature of government and the response of a Christian man to government. This is apparently Ludwig’s Magnus opus on civil government, which he defines as properly being a theocracy. Ludwig being of theonomist roots, I am not surprised. This also makes me underwhelmed at Ludwig’s arrogance and demeaning stance toward those that don’t see precisely the same way that he does. Clearly, Ludwig has solved the nature of the church, state, and the individual, that 6 millennia of both the greatest and worst thinkers have not been able to resolve. I am not trying to be too hard on Ludwig, but his stylistic mannerisms, though fitting to the age of John Calvin, just don’t fly in the 21st century. Perhaps I sat too long under the tutelage (directly and indirectly) of JI Packer, Bruce Waltke, and Simon Kistemacher, who tend to be both scholarly and graceful while preserving hardcore Christian truth. Back to Ludwig. I don’t deny Ludwig’s thesis that every Christian man must first hold God as his King, and achieve his daily marching orders from the Scriptures. How we interact with the governments that be are another issue. Ludwig has responded by moving to where there is essentially minimal government–I suppose he views that as an act of piety. I certainly agree with Ludwig’s view of a minimal government but feel that others such as Ron Paul do a much better job of beating the war drum of smaller government. Ludwig’s book starts out with a history of monarchical government down to our time, showing how it has failed man. Oddly, he doesn’t show how the Scriptures (oftentimes even within the same book, such as I Samuel, leading liberal scholars to divide the book into “priestly” and “kingly” authors later redacted into the form we have) tend to give both strong arguments for and against Monarchy. Secondly, Ludwig discusses the history of democracy and shows its failures. Again, Ludwig shies away from discussing the many attempts at establishing a theocracy on earth, mostly because most attempts either failed before they ever got started, or emerged into something quite horrid, such as many of the monastic movements. Ludwig then spends several chapters outlining specific civil law rulings, such as the order of state law in regard to marriage, property, war, judicial law, and slavery. Take slavery for instance. He uses the term loosely, defining such things as income taxation as a form of slavery. He argues for a biblical basis for slavery. Oddly, he is quick to defend slavery, without a word of mention of the form of slavery that we in modern times have seen, that of kidnapped slavery, which biblically is punishable by death. Yet, I have not seen Dabney or civil war Reformed thinkers bring slavery to task in such a way, always deferring only to the biblical permission for slavery. All in all, Ludwig says nothing new and clarifies no issues in my mind as to how a Christian may live in the world but not of the world. Ludwig has matters perfectly figured out in his mind, and to disagree means that you either do not possess his innate brilliance or perhaps are just stubbornly wrong-headed. Nobody would win a debate against Mark. Too often, we use the defense that we take strong stances since we hold a high view of truth. Humility is left wanting. Mark would be best served by mellowing out a little, and realizing that many of us have serious problems with our democratic form of government, yet do not view the “revolutionary” response as that of leaving all forms of “worldly” government to form a theocracy. To Mark, I wish you the best.