Op-Ed: 9 Marks Maestro Issues Misguided Warning to ‘Magisterial Protestants’

othing characterizes the state of Big Eva like the overly nuanced statements of evangelical leaders in response to cultural issues and events. In the wake of the fall of Roe V. Wade, some evangelical leaders made statements that rejoiced in the ruling while recognizing and mourning alongside those who syncretize faith with the murder of pre-born children. Other leftist evangelical leaders decried the verdict as a miscarriage of justice. Christian abolitionists who seek to utterly abolish abortion now face criticism from incrementalists in evangelicalism who attack abolition as impractical and lacking in nuance.

The methodology for achieving such nuance usually lacks a standard. Often the test for finding the perfect moderate third-way position on a theological issue looks like the Goldilocks test. Identify the left and right positions, label both as “too extreme”, and then quickly assume the pragmatic third-way position, as if the middle position must be correct solely because it sits betwixt left and right. Such a strategy approaches every problem as if the answer to the question, like the one faced by Solomon in 1 Kings 3:16-28, is to split the baby right down the middle. Third-way proponents believe that the answer must lie in a highly nuanced middle position when in reality, the baby has one mother on either the right or the left, and the truth is clearly discernable when scripture is used as a guide. The position of Big Eva third-wayism exists in nearly every modern evangelical issue, from the issue of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to the matter of determining standards of guilt for sex abuse cases. 

The root of many third-way positions lies in the antinomian disposition of church leaders who neglect scripture as the origin of all relevant standards. Often the arguments made by Big Eva third-way position holders begin with an accusation of legalism or theonomy against those to the right. Believers in the sufficiency of scripture, which refer back to standards found in Old Testament law or the Apostolic instructions of the New Testament, are accused of acting as heartless legalistic Pharisees who could care less about the feelings or emotions of their opponents on the opposite side of an important issue. Never mind the fact that actual theonomists, those who believe that the entirety of the moral and ceremonial law of God given to Israel should be directly applied word for word to modern criminal and civil law, are about as common as real live unicorns. 

Jonathan Leeman of 9 Marks, a Big Eva figure who loves himself some third-wayism, recently issued a warning for Christians who have begun “exploring various forms of theonomy or magisterial Protestantism” in response to “cultural opposition to aspects of Christianity.” 

In his recent exposition on the threat of theonomy, Leeman fails to define with any level of precision the definitions of either theonomy or magisterial Protestantism. One must assume that by referring to “various forms” of theonomy, Leeman broadly refers to all those who believe in the general equity principle of the Law of God, along with actual theonomists. Leeman’s main point seems to be that those who engage in culture wars run the risk of falling into the ditch of neglecting the Gospel, as if the church can’t engage every issue in culture war under the banner of the Gospel, with the primary purpose of advancing the Gospel, as it has done for millennia. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the history of Leeman’s line of argumentation against what he characterizes as “various forms” of theonomy, Leeman appeared on the September 6, 2020 episode of Crosspolitic, where he was pressed by hosts Toby Sumpter, Chocolate Knox, and Gabe Wrench on his opposition to John Macarthur’s position of church’s remaining open during COVID restrictions, in the face of government-mandated closures. Leeman characterized his idea that churches don’t necessarily have to meet on Sunday or in person as simply a different way to “cut a diamond” in response to the arguments of the Crosspolitic hosts.

The conversation initially focused on issues related to government overreach concerning the church. Leeman argued that “a legitimate implication of Genesis 9:5-6 can be used to defend “preventative” government measures related to government-mandated COVID restrictions. While Leeman believes that elements of the Noahic Covenant can be used to defend a position that allows government overreach against a church during lockdowns, he opposes a hermeneutic that allows for the “normative” use of Old Testament Mosaic law in the context of the general equity principle. Instead, Leeman believes the Bible is insufficient to answer all the specific questions that a pastor may face. He claims that the wisdom necessary to answer the more complicated questions comes from God in a form that looks like the wisdom of Solomon but is frequently divorced from specific scriptural support.

The interview ends with Leeman repeatedly dodging questions about whether the general equity of principles found in the Levitical law can be applied to a modern context. Chocolate Knox asked Leeman whether the death penalty should be applied to people who have sex with animals, women who murder their pre-born children, or abortionists. Leeman claimed that he was hesitant to answer the Crosspolitic host’s questions because he hadn’t given much thought to the questions. Leeman, by his own recent account, has been actively contemplating political theory since the 1990s but somehow hasn’t given enough serious pastoral thought to state with any degree of certainty whether the death penalty should be on the table for an abortionist.

Leeman couldn’t answer simple questions about the law of God because he considered it to be subservient to a gnostic form of wisdom that is not tethered to scripture. As the downgrade in evangelicalism continues, fault lines continue to form between those who believe in the sufficiency of scripture to determine truth and those who use claims of wisdom that contradict the written Word of God. These fault lines are evident in the debate over sexual abuse. Many Big Eva figures purposely ignore or reject the Old Testament principles for what constitutes rape in passages such as Deuteronomy 22:23-27. The fault lines are also evident in the partiality debate, where proponents of Social Justice Theory and Critical Race Theory impose anti-Biblical lenses onto the clear teachings of scripture while ignoring scriptures like Galatians 3:28 that clearly show that partiality based on woke ideology is anti-Gospel. 

Jonathan Leeman is only one of numerous Big Eva figures who ascribe to an abstract view of Biblical Wisdom and despise those who seek truth in God’s Law and the clear instruction of the scriptures. 

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