by R.J. Rushdoony
In Jude 24, we are told that our Lord “is able to keep you from falling.” The word “falling” can be better translated as “stumbling.” In other words, our Lord is able to keep us from being stumblebums!
Between forty and forty-five years ago, I knew an ex-boxer who was physically a healthy-looking man. A gracious and kindly man, he had been in a few too many fights, and, as a result, he at times was mentally or physically tangled. The unkind term “stumblebum” was applied by some to him.
Well, there are spiritual stumblebums in the church, and they cannot blame too many fights for their problem! They stumble morally and religiously because they refuse to submit to the discipline of God’s Word and His Spirit.
A pastor I know has a chronic problem with a man well into his forties who gets into temptation faster than a jackrabbit can race across the road. He is a spiritual stumblebum who would trip over a grain of sand. He regularly confesses to his pastor, bewailing his sins, and as regularly is in trouble again. He uses his pastor as a crutch, and he is “too busy” to submit to the disciplines of the Word and the Spirit. He is a stumblebum who has no desire to grow strong.
But our Lord is able to keep us from stumbling and falling. Do we want to walk in strength? Or do we prefer to be stumblebums in the church?
Rushdoony, R. J. (2015-07-15). A Word in Season (Vol. 6) (A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life) (Kindle Locations 784-798). Chalcedon/Ross House Books. Kindle Edition.
Here is a very succinct survey of modern philosophy from Rene Descartes to Immanuel Kant. It’s a one-of-a-kind explanation of how our world has gotten itself into a mess. It takes about 15 minutes.
If you like this excerpt, then you can hear the full one hour lecture here.
This lecture is taken from a series of 10 lectures entitled “Epistemology” by Dr. R.J. Rushdoony. You can find all of them here.
Written on Ash Wednesday
Evil triumphs. And you ask why.
Some people wring their hands in desperation, pray like crazy, talk about it with their friends, condemn the evil perpetrators. But nothing changes. Why?
Is it that God has made us automatons, without a mind and will of our own, that we might not do something about evil? History is littered with the names of evil. Robespierre, Amin, Castro, Stalin, Krushchev, and Mugabe wreaked havoc on the lives of millions. How did they get to those positions?
R.J. Rushdoony left this life in February, 2001, just 10 years ago. At that time I wrote a tribute to a remarkable man, a friend, and a mentor. Here’s my updated version of that tribute.
It is with sadness, yet a spirit of hope, that the tribute was written to acknowledge a great man, Rousas John Rushdoony. His greatness, however, remains one of the best kept secrets of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, except for a relatively small devoted and loyal following that Dr. Rushdoony accumulated in his lifetime.
“Rush”, as he was fondly called by his friends, was a unique man. I did not have the opportunity to meet him more than a dozen times during the 21 years of our association. But I thoroughly enjoyed every moment with him.
“Few revolutions in history have been more deadly than the shift in theology from God’s law to man’s emotion.”
Commenting on Limited Atonement, R.J. Rushdoony contrasts this idea over against Arminianism’s unlimited atonement. He recognizes the Arminian failure that brings an unwarranted sentimentalism and emotionalism into the picture of the Atonement:
The root of the problem goes back to the meaning of forgiveness. We cannot understand the Biblical meaning of the word unless we begin with the fact that in the Old Testament it is inseparable from the sacrificial system, and, in the New Testament, from Christ’s atonement, in its essential meaning. In relationship to God, it requires sacrifice, i.e., the death penalty as restitution, with the animals sacrificed as types of God’s Redeemer and His sacrifice. In relationship to God, “without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Heb. 9:22). The atonement by Jesus Christ was a necessity for the remission of our sins against God. . . .
By separating forgiveness from sacrifices of atonement and from restitution, we have reduced its meaning from a legal or juridical requirement to a matter of emotions. Few revolutions in history have been more deadly than the shift in theology from God’s law to man’s emotion. Forgiveness now mean, “I forgive you,” i.e. I am no longer angry with you It has nothing to do with the offender’s repentance and restitution and hence nothing to do with God’s law. . . .
Clearly forgiveness in the Bible is not a blanket remission nor is it without cost to the forgiven. Arminian forgiveness leaves all the penalty on Jesus Christ, and a self-willed view of gaining remission with the sinner. It transfers priority and sovereignty from God to man. No judge sits on a bench merely to give to the guilty men before him whatever they want!
Limited atonement upholds the sovereignty of God and His law. It does not supplant God’s law with man’s emotional responses. . . .
Unlimited atonement sets aside the meaning of forgiveness in its Biblical and juridical sense to give it a lawless meaning. Antinomianism and unlimited atonement go together. . . .
Any weakening of God’s law is also a weakening of the meaning of the atonement. We have seen a steady loss of meaning for the doctrine of the atonement as antinomianism has prevailed. But without the atonement, there is no Christianity.
The effects of Pietism’s influence have devastated the older view of God’s law, and therefore the atonement. This, in part, explains the failure of contemporary Christianity to change the culture. It has the wrong message.
- R.J. Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol 3: “The Intent of the Law,” p. 107-108.↵back
In the first part of this Tribute to R.J. Rushdoony I recalled the personal side of my relationship with him and some of the fond memories I have as a result of a 21-year association.
In this portion of the Tribute, I’m going to highlight what I think is Rush’s very significant contribution to Christian thought.
The name R.J. Rushdoony is tied up with two concepts: theonomy and Christian Reconstruction. But for Rushdoony, these two concepts are tied together in a unique manner.
For those of us raised outside of Reformed circles, his call to return to God’s law was somewhat radical. Yet for those raised on Reformed catechisms, Rushdoony’s view was not that unusual in some respects. Both the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Larger Catechism expound the Ten Commandments using what Rushdoony called “case law”. That is, the Ten Commandments were given substance through the many laws given in the Pentateuch (or Torah).
Many of Rushdoony’s followers, then and now, came from outside the Reformed tradition. What is curious, however, is the hostility Rushdoony received from the Reformed community, and I can understand why.
The Mythology of Science
On the surface, a myth is the illusion of an age or a culture whereby life and its origins are interpreted. As such, the myth has an axiomatic truth to the age and is its criterion for judging and assessing reality.
To fill a role he never wrote, to enter on stage at a time not of his choosing, this man resents.
But much more is involved in the concept of myth. A myth is the attempt of a culture to overcome history, to negate the forces and ravages of time, and to make the universe amenable and subject to man. The myth reveals a hatred of history. History shows movement in terms of forces beyond man and in judgment over man; history rides heavily over man, is inescapably ethical, shows a continuing conflict between good and evil, and clearly shows man to be the actor, not the playwright and director. And this man hates. To fill a role he never wrote, to enter on stage at a time not of his choosing, this man resents. The purpose man then sets for himself in his myths is to end history, to make man the absolute governor by decreeing an end to the movement that is history. Where his myths acknowledge man’s lot in history, man ascribes his sorry role, not to his depravity, but to the jealousy of the gods. The goal of the myth, progressively more clearly enunciated in time, has become the destruction of history and the enthronement of man as the new governor of the universe.
The purpose of magic is the total control by man over man, nature, and the supernatural.
The means used by man to accomplish the goal of his myth is magic. The purpose of magic is the total control by man over man, nature, and the supernatural. Whatever the form magic takes, this is its goal. The relationship of magic is therefore basically to science rather than to Biblical religion. Under the influence of Christianity, science escaped from magic. The purpose of science ceased gradually to be an attempt to play god and became rather the exercise of dominion over the earth under God. The redeemed Christian is God’s vicegerent over the earth, and science is one of man’s tools in establishing and furthering that dominion. For science to overstep that role is to forsake science for magic. The purposes of modern science are increasingly those of magic, the exercise of total control. The essential goal of modern science is knowledge in order to have prediction, planning, and control. Magic thus has again triumphed, and modern science is popular precisely because man today, wedded again to the world of myth, demands magic to overcome history, to eliminate the ethical struggle and to place man beyond good and evil and beyond judgment. On the whole, modern science has taken readily to this new role, and it is enjoying its status as magicians to modern man. Science thus has become magic and is governed by myth.
- Rousas John Rushdoony, The Mythology of Science (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1967), pp.1-2.↵back
Ad Hominem – Latin for “to the man.”
It’s a debating technique that is designed to avoid real argument by attacking the person with the express purpose of undermining his character. In other words, it’s a debating tactic that can be very, very effective, even though it is a false argument. Ad hominem arguments might be:
“The trouble is, he’s Australian . . .”
“He sounds just like a Roman Catholic”
“He’s dangerous . . .”
“He’s a Calvinist . . .”
It could even be, “He’s not a Calvinist . . .”
Get the idea? What has Australian got to do with in an argument, or being Roman Catholic, or dangerous, or being Calvinistic or even non-Calvinistic. It’s an attempt to slur the person’s character, thereby undermining the statements they make. It throws into question their character and integrity, so you begin to think, “well, if he’s like that, his arguments cannot be very good.”
Not surprisingly, amillennialism produces a retreating and crabbed outlook, a church in which men have no thought of victory but only of endless nit-picking about trifles. It produces a phariseeism of men who believe they are the elect in a world headed for hell, a select elite who must withdraw from the futility of the world around them. It produces what can be called an Orthodox Pharisees Church, wherein failure is a mark of election. Lest this seem an exaggeration, one small denomination has a habit of regarding pastors who produce growth in their congregations with some suspicion, because it is openly held by many pastors that growth is a mark of compromise, whereas incompetence and failure are marks of election! Amillennial pastors within this church regularly insist that success surely means compromise, and their failures are a mark of purity and election. Not surprisingly, postmillennials cannot long remain in this basically and almost exclusively amillennial church.
Rushdoony, R. J. (2012-09-20). God’s Plan For Victory: The Meaning of Postmillennialism (Kindle Locations 170-176). . Kindle Edition.
[From the archives. Originally published April, 1989.]
Banners of Untruth – III
In this series entitled “What is Christian Reconstruction” I have attempted to clarify just what it is that distinguishes a Christian Reconstructionist. By contrasting what the critics of Reconstruction claim over against what the Reconstructionists actually say, we have seen great disparity between Reconstructionists and those who not only disagree with Reconstructionism but consider it anti-biblical.
In particular, I have been concentrating on a published address given at the 1988 Banner of Truth conference in Sydney by Rev. John Paterson who attempted a dismissal of Reconstruction teaching on several grounds. In part one we highlighted Mr. Paterson’s obvious ignorance of the published writings of the Reconstructionists, which led him to make the outlandish claim that the Reconstructionists deny New Testament teaching. Proof for these allegations has not been forthcoming from him, despite repeated requests. I believe that without Rev. Paterson providing any proof, we may safely assume he has made unfounded and therefore unwarranted allegations that Christian Reconstructionists deny the gospel.
In the second part I dealt with Rev. Iain Murray’s claim that the Reconstructionists do not properly recognise the threefold division of the Old Testament law into moral, civil (or judicial) and ceremonial (or sacrificial). It was argued that the Bible does not make such a division, and therefore it appears unsafe to abrogate parts of God’s law based on a separation of the laws which God Himself does not make.
In his address against Christian Reconstruction, Rev. Paterson listed several Christian groups in Australia which were classified as “dangerous” because of their supposed adherence to Christian Reconstruction. These groups included Logos Foundation, Festival of Light, and Call to Australia. While those who know what the Reconstructionists really stand for might find this claim amusing, however, it is the method of Rev. Paterson’s argument which interests us at this point. This is in need of analysis to see if in fact he has proven his case.
First, let us remind ourselves of Mr. Paterson’s definition of Christian Reconstruction. “In single terms it’s the detailed reinstatement of the law of the Old Testament over the whole of society. . . . It’s changing the laws of Australia so they are in fact the laws of the Old Testament.” I have already pointed out that this definition is a caricature, at best, of Reconstruction teaching. It implies a denial of New Testament teaching and a failure to recognize the way in which Reconstructionists themselves attempt to modify Old Testament laws in the light of New Testament revelation. Please keep this definition firmly in your mind, however, as we proceed to dissect the manner in which he makes his conclusions.