Biblical Interpretation of Gary North’s Theonomy
AbstractTheonomy is the idea that the Mosaic Law should be practiced in modern societies. Theonomists reject the more usual belief that the civil and ceremonial laws of the Mosaic Law are no longer applicable. This approach to Christian economics has received little critical scrutiny, despite a volume of work by its main protagonist, Gary North. Reasons for its relative neglect appear to emanate both from within theonomy itself, and from Christian economics. This paper assesses the nature of biblical interpretation used within theonomy, illustrated in Gary North’s mammoth economic commentary on the book of Exodus. How North interprets matters of lending and interest in Exodus is the focus. His commentary extends far and wide beyond Exodus, even to Jesus. Some of these excursions are investigated here, including the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and Jesus too, whose instruction on lending and interest is compared to North’s interpretations. Since Jesus had so much to say on these matters, the second-to-last section considers how Jesus’ teaching on lending and interest is being practiced in the advanced capitalist economy and what scope may exist for its extension. With some caveats noted, North’s interpretations in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy are substantially different from most biblical exegetes. His readings of Jesus, moreover, do not sit comfortably with most of them.