Thursday, July 7, 2016

#1688: Stephen Che Halbrook

Well, Matthew Hagee may be an utterly deranged loon, but for frothing, sadistic bloodthirst and evil he probably doesn’t hold a candle to Stephen Che Halbrook. Halbrook runs something called the Theonomy Resources and is a teacher at The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy, a “college-level” “school” endorsed by people like Gary DeMar, Ray Moore of Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate, and Mark “we must base our laws on faith, not reason” Rushdoony, the vile spawn of R. J. Rushdoony himself. Halbrook is the author of a 2011 book called God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws (oh, yes, precisely), which is apparently an extension of a Master’s thesis presented at Regent University in 2008. The book, which is hardcore even by dominionist standards, promotes the idea that government should use the Old Testament moral code as its basis for civil law, including the death penalty for blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, disobedient children, adulterers and gays. Apparently having capital punishment for violators of biblical law benefits society, as Halbrook sees it, but his understanding of the word “benefits” seems to be unidiomatic.

And yes, he advocates the death penalty for disobedient children: “To all this we must add that capital sanctions for those who repudiate parental authority protect the family from treason. Many today would think capital punishment for treason against the family is extreme, but on the other hand, capital punishment for treason against the state is a necessity.” I don’t think you need us to point out some flaws in that analogy. And for breaking the Sabbath? “Given the evidence that criminality begins with Sabbath breaking, we see the importance of the Sabbath capital sanction. Fear of execution by the state deters many would-be criminals from embracing a life of crime and executing innocent people. Thus the more lax society becomes regarding the Bible’s penalty for Sabbath-breaking, the more society can expect to contend with crime. ‘[T]he wages of sin is death’ (Rom. 6:23), and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the wages of the heinous sin of Sabbath breaking on a societal level results in death on a societal level,” which may just be the most amazingly malicious and delusionally insane passage ever recorded on the Internet. Ok, his justification of the death penalty for blasphemy comes close: “In sum, the purpose of civil government is not primarily to defend the rights of man, but the rights of God. God’s rights over the state entail the state’s requirement to recognize God as Lord over the state (i.e., the highest political authority), and the state’s requirement to execute God’s wrath in His prescribed manner. This in no way diminishes human rights, but increases them. As we can see from the necessity of theocentric laws that we discussed, to disregard God’s rights —which are the rights from which all human rights derive — is to disregard man’s rights. And what right of God is more fundamental than not to be blasphemed?” Just think about it. Halbrook didn’t. Will his master’s thesis supervisor please go have a chat with some real grownups? (Halbrook probably shouldn’t be let near anyone, grown-up or otherwise.)

And the gays? Ah, Halbrook’s chapter on homosexuality is riddled with quotes from Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika, and endorses Lively’s claim that Nazism is a “sodomite movement.” Not that Halbrook really needs the connection to justify his conclusion about gays: “justifying sodomy on the grounds of it being a private act doesn’t work, because it contributes greatly to a society’s cup of iniquity that can result in God’s destruction of that society. What good is it for a society to promote the freedom for all to participate in the lifestyle of their choice if a society isn’t around to promote it?” Ah, yes: what good is allowing sodomy if God is going to destroy society over it. Apparently capital punishment for sodomy will also help sodomites themselves by preventing them from committing suicide as a natural consequence of their sinful lifestyle. Which is, in a deranged sense, true.

And yes, if you wondered: Halbrook does think that stoning and burning are proper methods of capital punishment.

The book has been endorsed e.g. by Buddy Hanson, the Alabama representative to the Exodus Mandate, a home school support group, who said that “With God’s grace, God Is Just: A Defense Of The Old Testament Civil Laws will be used to bring American Christians to repentance and back to honoring God’s Word through their daily decisions.” Halbrook actually refers to Hanson to justify imposing biblical laws on a society: “By not ‘imposing’ Christian beliefs on others, we allow them to ‘impose’ their beliefs on us […] Pluralism is no less impositional than other political system – and actually, it is potentially the most impositional […] pluralism naturally tends towards outright totalitarianism, and even imperialism.” And no, this is not a parody. At least Halbrook also denounces the Christian right for lack of integrity.

Diagnosis: Yes, there are people more extreme, fanatic and ideologically pure than Boko Haram. And please maintain your distance to this one; love and compassion will probably be futile.


  1. I'm no fan of Regent University, but it is truly a university and not a "university". It is accredited by a accreditation organization and it is highly ranked every year in both US News and World Report and in the Princeton Review.

    1. You're right, so I have changed the text - although I wouldn't use a definition of "real university" that depended only on whether the university was, technically speaking, accredited (for all I know even Oral Roberts is accredited for some degrees, and it is definitely not a real university). In that sense, Halbrook's master's thesis is itself evidence against Regent university being a real university.