1. Christian Reconstruction: Part I (Remastered)

R.J. Rushdoony • Mar, 15 2024

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  • Series: Christian Reconstruction (Remastered)
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Christian Reconstruction, I

R.J. Rushdoony

The last time I was in this assembly room I shared this platform with Congressman Larry McDonald. Then last week he was murdered by the communists. One veteran foreign correspondent editor told me that this was more than the death of a man. That the Marxists tested the ability of The United States to resist, and they found us as soft as hot butter and so he said this may well mark the death of The American Republic. Larry McDonald was shot down by three squadrons of three fighter planes whose technology came from The United States to a great measure, and who were probably fed on American wheat. Nothing the White House has said thus far has indicated that we will stop the flow of technology, apart from which their nuclear missiles cannot be built, nor the flow of grain apart from which they would face hunger.

One Soviet dissident who died last year, Andrei Amalrik, made the statement in a book he wrote a decade or so ago, that the main ally of the Soviet Union was the government of The United States.This, unhappily, has been the case. The day before Larry McDonald was killed, Lord Bethell of England wrote an article published in The Wall Street Journal; Tuesday Sept. 6, 1983, which highlights a few facts from articles and a book he has written. The title is ‘How the Western Allies Shipped Victims to Stalin.’ Reading just a little bit:

“On Jan. 19, 1946 a contingent of American military police surrounded a prison camp near Munich with orders to arrest one hundred and five Russians, and deliver them to the Soviet authorities. The Russians did not want to be handed over to Stalin. They had every reason to believe that they would be shot as soon as they returned. However, The US and Britain had agreed at Yalta a year earlier to repatriate all Soviet citizens after the war, irrespective of their individual wishes and by force if necessary. The Russians had barracked themselves inside their huts and stripped their underwear. When they refused to move the MP’s broke into the huts and dragged them out one by one. One hut was especially well defended. The Americans fired tear gas through the windows. Then, as soon as they broke down the door and entered, the Russians embarked on an orgy of mass suicide. Two men tried to disembowel themselves with broken glass. Another stood side by side slashing at each other’s throats. One man stuck his head through a window and shook it from side to side pressing his neck down against the jagged edges. The M.P.s beat the men into insensibility, and carried them to the waiting trucks on stretchers. Day after day it went on until we had finally delivered more millions to be killed by Stalin than Hitler had ever killed. I knew a Russian girl who was allowed to live because she was acting as interpreter for the American high command in Vienna. At her pleading they allowed her family, her parents, her brothers and sisters to survive and felt they were being very big hearted. When she cried out against the massacre of the millions they said, ‘We are only obeying orders,’ Exactly what at Nuremberg we sentenced Nazis to death for.”

Is it any wonder that we are doing nothing significant to date of the murder of Larry McDonald? Washington has been closer to Moscow then it has been to men like Larry McDonald and to the Christians of this country.

In a sense we have asked for it. The churches have withdrawn from the world. They have acted as if only a small corner of the world, the church, belongs to Christ and the rest of the world belongs to the devil and can be allowed to go its own way. They’ve forgotten The Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. And so it can be said: “Shine, perishing republic with phosphorescence of decay and of death.” Turn to the church pages for evidences of that. ‘God wants you to have inner peace.’ What kind of gospel of conquest is that? Withdraw from the world. Withdraw from the mission of the church, just to concern ourselves with our ‘inner peace!’ Men seeking peace when there can be no peace to the wicked; and we are of the wicked when we pass by on the other side of the road and are not good Samaritans, when we have no gospel to the people of the world except our quest for inner peace. We have sinned! As churches and as a nation, and we are like that woman described in Proverbs 30:20 of whom it is said, “Such is the way of an adulterous woman that eateth and wipeth her mouth and said I have done no wickedness.” The meaning of that is that just as the flight of the eagle through the air leaves no trail, and the path of a ship through the waters, a half an hour later leaves no wake, so the adulterous, so sinners feel that all they have to do is to pass on and there is no mark of sin left. “She eateth and wipeth her mouth...” and all trace of the sin is gone. The assumption is that sin has no consequences; but it does and judgment is in the air.

We live in a time of judgment but in every time of judgment there is also salvation. The Bible tells us that throughout history there is a coincidence of judgment and salvation. That the flood was a judgment upon the old world but the redemption of God’s people. That the plagues upon Egypt were the judgments upon the old world but the salvation of the people of God. The Cross is supremely the judgment of God upon man, but also our salvation. Revelation tells us that the history of the world from the fall of Jerusalem on marks a great shaking of the nations. The seven vials, the seven bowls of wrath indicating the judgment upon the ungodly, upon the nations and the salvation of His people. This is a time of judgment and of salvation and the only question is, “Will we be among those judged or redeemed?”

The sad fact is the Christian community, so called, is largely on the side of the enemy. I was amused in a grim way the other day. I received a publication by the so called ‘evangelical homosexuals.’ They are a large group. At their last conference they had alumni and delegates from every major Reformed and Fundamental seminar in The United States. They singled out three men as their enemies and had a paragraph about them. Francis Schaeffer, John Whitehead, and R.J. Rushdoony. We do have the right kinds of enemies. But do you know whom they quoted in that statement, citing us as the great enemies and threat to Christianity? Carl F.H. Henry, an evangelical. And again, and again this is the case. They let the evangelical community do the hatchet-job for them. Interesting.

Recently a woman who is in her sixties, has been a faithful church goer all through the years, sits in the second row morning and evening and is always present in prayer meetings told me she had come to a conclusion; that the church was the enemy of God. Why? She said “I suddenly realized that, as I was going through my Bible again, that all the servants of God, all the prophets of God spoke out against the kings and I don’t know when I have heard a preacher speak out against Washington or The State Capitol. And certainly God knows they are as evil in Washington and in The State House today as they were in the days of Elijah and Elisha and the other prophets. And the church is silent. Moreover, it ignores the basic doctrines of the faith, the doctrine of the covenant! This is basic to the Reformed faith.

No-one can call himself a Reformed believer who does not appreciate the significance of this doctrine. Because, what does this doctrine tell us? A covenant is a treaty of law. It is always, and without exception, a treaty of law. When it is contracted between a greater and a lesser party, it is at one and the same time a treaty of law and of grace. The greater gives his law to the lesser party and says; “if you live by my law I will extend to you my protection.” God’s treaty with us is a treaty of grace and of law at one and the same time. God in His grace gives us His law and says, “This is the way, walk ye in it. And if you are faithful to me my blessings will pursue you and overtake you and come upon you.” Irresistible blessings for faithfulness.

One of the great Reformed preachers of about two and a half centuries ago was Jacques Saurin. Look up his name in some religious encyclopedia and you will be told what a great man he was in his day but what a bad man he is from our perspective. They don’t like him now, and I am sure from having read a number of those articles none of the writers ever read Saurin. In his day in the early seventeen hundreds Saurin began to encounter the kind of antinomianism and pietistic withdrawal from the world which marks the church today. In the seventh volume of his ‘sermons on the covenant of God with the Israelites,’ he says in part;

“Moses required the Israelites, in renewing their covenant with God, to consider what constituted its essence: which, according to the views of the Lawgiver, was the reciprocal engagement. Be attentive to this term reciprocal; it is the soul of my definition. What constitutes the essence of a covenant, is the reciprocal engagements of the contracting parties. This is obvious from the words of my text ; that thou shouldest (stipulate or) enter. Here we distinctly find mutual conditions; here we distinctly find that God engaged with the Israelites to be their God; and they engaged to be his people. We proved, at the commencement of this discourse, that the covenant of God with the Israelites, was in substance the same as that contracted with Christians. This being considered, what idea ought we to form of those Christians, (if we may give that name to men who can entertain such singular notions of Christianity,) who ventured to affirm, that the ideas of conditions, and reciprocal engagements, are dangerous expressions, when applied to the evangelical covenant; that what distinguishes the Jews from Christians is, that God then promised and required; whereas now he promises, but requires nothing. My brethren, had I devoted my studies to compose a history of the eccentricities of the human mind, I should have deemed it my duty to have bestowed several years in reading the books, in which those Systems are contained; that I might have marked to posterity the precise degrees to which men are capable of carrying such odious opinions. But having diverted them to other pursuits, little, it is confessed, have I read of this sort of work: and all I know of the subject may nearly be reduced to this, that there are persons in these provinces who both read and believe them.

Without attacking by a long course of causes and consequences, a system so destructive of itself, we will content ourselves with a single test. Let them produce a single passage from the Scriptures, in which God requires the acquisition of knowledge, and engages to bestow it, without the least fatigue of reading, study, and reflection. Let them produce a passage, in which God requires us to possess certain virtues, and engages to communicate them, without enjoining us to subdue our senses, our temperature, our passions, our inclination, in order that we may attain them. Let them produce one passage from the Scriptures to prove, that God requires us to be saved by the merits of Jesus Christ, and engages to do it, without the slightest sorrow for our past sins,—without the least reparation of our crimes,—without precautionary measures to avoid them,—-without the qualifying dispositions to participate the fruits of his passion. What am I saying ! Let them produce a text which overturns the hundred, and the hundred more passages which we oppose to this gross Antinomian system, and with which we are ever ready to confront its advocates.

We have said, my brethren, that this system destroys itself. Hence it was less with a view to attack it, that we destined this article, than to apprise some among you of having adopted it, at the very moment you dream that you reject and abhor it. We often fall into the error of the ancient Israelites; frequently forming as erroneous notions of the covenant God has contracted with us, as they did of that he had contracted with them. This people had violated the stipulations in a manner the most notorious in the world. God did not fulfil his engagements with them, because they refused to fulfil their engagements to him.” 1

And yet today, we have prominent pastors in this country such as one who has said that you can go forward and accept Christ, and after that you can even be an Atheist, but you cannot lose your salvation. Why? God has bound Himself to you once you say yes and go forward. But you are not bound because grace is free of any obligation of reciprocity of faithfulness, of obedience. In fact this man goes on to say: “did you know that if you were a genius you could not figure out a way to go to hell? You can blaspheme, you can deny the Lord, you can commit any sin in the Bible plus all the others but there is just no way, once you have said “yes” to Jesus, he is bound to save you.” “By their fruits shall ye know them...” and “faith without works is dead.” But today Jesus Christ is hocked as if He were a fire and life insurance salesman. “Come to Jesus and get fire and life insurance and go your way!” Most of us have to think as to where our insurance policies are. Once we get them we don’t worry about them. If we have a problem we call the agent. Well, that’s The Gospel so-called with many. “Come and buy your life and fire insurance from ‘The J.C. Insurance Agency and then go your away and all your problems are cared for!” And yet there was a time when the most popular books in the Christian community were books with such titles as The Whole Duty of Man or Essays to Do Good and these were written by Reformed men. As Wilberforce, a century and a half ago said, a man who changed the face of England with his faith:

”Sin is considered in Scripture as rebellion against the sovereignty of God, and every different act of it equally violates the law, and, if persevered in, disclaims his supremacy.” 2

The Reformation began as an effort to reorder all of life in terms of the whole Word of God. After some years Luther, seeing what some were doing with the idea of reformation, wrote a tract against the antinomians. It’s a sad fact that we hear next to nothing about that little tract. Only about ten pages. Luther addressed it to a friend, a Dr. Caspar Güttel, and he began by saying:

“I assume that you received some time ago a copy of the disputations against the new spirits who have dared to expel the law of God or the Ten Commandments from the church and to assign them to city hall? I never expected that such false spirituality would occur to the mind of man, much less that anyone would support it.” 3

Luther went on to say that he had stood for justification by faith alone but he never said that sanctification did not require obedience. He never said that the law was just a state matter. The law comes from God and it is to be obeyed by the people of God in their private lives, their church lives, in state, vocation, everywhere. Moreover he said of this doctrine calling for obedience to the law:

“This doctrine is not mine, but St. Bernard’s. What am I saying? St. Bernard’s? It is the message of all of Christendom, of all the prophets and apostles.” 4

But none dared dispute it except those who were undermining the faith. Then he went on to say:

“...does anyone imagine that there can be sin where there is no law? Whoever abolishes the law must simultaneously abolish sin. If he permits sin to stand, he must most certainly permit the law to stand; for according to Romans 5 [:13], where there is no law there is no sin. And if there is no sin, then Christ is nothing.” 5

And so Luther said the Antinomians end up abolishing The Gospel, they leave only man. Luther went on to say that the devil works to further antinomianism, and wherever we find it, we must account it to be the work of the devil. But he said that in spite of all that the devil does, and in spite of all the work of the antinomians the law remains written upon the hearts of man. Man was created by God and every atom of his being, as Dr. Cornelius Van Til has said, is revelational of God. Hence The Psalmist can say:

“Though I flee to the uttermost parts of the morning behold thou art there. If I make my bed in hell behold thou art there.”

“The whole creation shows forth the glory of God...” and every atom of man’s being. “The heavens declare His glory...” and so, it is our nature. And so it is that the ungodly hold the truth, or hold down, the Greek literally means, suppress the truth, as Paul said in the first chapter of Romans, in unrighteousness, in injustice in their hatred of God.

But Francis Thomson in ‘The Hound of Heaven,’ echoing the Psalmist describes the impossibility of that. He declares;

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

But always pursuing he felt the presence of God. And the voice resounded in all things; “all things flee from thee, if thou dost flee from me.” Man cannot escape God. Nor can man escape the law of God.

Luther said the antinomians seek what he called a ‘sweet security.’ I’ve called it ‘pious gush.’ They want to revel in their pious gush. And so Luther said with all this sweetness and light, this sweet security they sink quietly and sweetly into hell. And so, Luther concluded therefore, that the law must be preached wherever Christ is preached.

I spoke earlier about the church pages on the sermon topics. God wants you to know inner peace. Every now and then, I see a series on prayer and I get letters asking why don’t you write something on prayer, and I say someday I am going to, but it is not going to be the kind of book you are used to reading. Why? Because I think a lot of the instructions on how to pray are rubbish. And the idea that there is some real virtue in praying is rubbish. Now, there are no points for me if I talk to my wife. I love her. Every night I am away I call her. I run up a phone bill because I have trouble getting off the phone. I want to share all of my life with her and consult with her on everything. Now what is the big deal in that? Did someone have to sit down and give me a course of instruction before I got married? “Now, this is the way you go about talking to a wife.” That is ridiculous! The whole idea stinks, that is the only way you can describe it.

Now, if Christ is my redeemer, if the triune God is my sovereign, my Lord, how are you going to keep me from talking to Him? How are you going to keep me from day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment conversing with Him in sentence-prayers and sharing things with Him? Because I know I cannot live without Him. Why do I need instructions in that, as though it were the big deal in Christian life? It is as natural as breathing if you are a Christian. No one gave me instructions on breathing! When I was born the doctor slapped my butt and I started breathing!When Jesus Christ redeemed me and made me a new creation He slapped my butt and I started praying. That is all there is to it. Why do we spend so much time on things that are the ABC’s of the Christian faith when we should be arming the soldiers of God for battle? If they can’t breathe, tell them they are dead! Because, if you are teaching people to pray that can’t breathe, you are teaching them to be hypocrites and we have too many in the church today. Prayer is as natural to breathing and we don’t have a breathing church. Some places we have a gasping church. We need a living church. And we are told by our Lord Himself, John 7:17 “if any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine.” An easy way to know, an easy way to grow is to obey God, do what He commands you, and you will grow. And you will become an effective soldier.

I said we were in a time of judgment, and a time of judgment is also a time of salvation. One of the great verses in Zechariah declares, as it speaks of the gathering gloom of judgment of the horror of man’s sin and what it is accomplishing. But then comes this sentence that rings out like the peal of a bell throughout all of Scripture; “at evening time it shall be light.” At evening time it shall be light. We see now the gathering gloom of judgment. The next decade will perhaps be the grimmest in all of history. We have been living in the darkest age of all of history. Some of you have heard me describe the data, the statistics of that. A higher percentage of mankind, a higher percentage as well as more numerically, have died since 1900 as a result of mass murders, slave camps, famine, war, revolution, executions and so on than ever before in history. We are in the last days of humanistic statism. Of an evil world dedicated to the kingdom of man. To a world at war with God. It is dying around us and its death is a bloody one. We will either be a part of that death or the light that breaks at evening time. Our Lord said:

“I am the Light of the world.”

And he also said that we are called to be the salt, the preserving agent and the light of the world, that “faith without works is dead.” “By their fruit you shall know them; a good tree bears good fruit.” We need a living, a breathing working church, to go forth and conquer. Because “this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith.” Thank you.

1 Rev. James Saurin. Sermons. Translated by Joseph Sutcliffe. Second American from the Fifth London Edition. Vol. VII-On Important Subjects. Schenectday: William J. M’Cartee, 1813, 273 f.

2 William Wilberforce. A Practical View Of The Prevailing Religious System Of Professed Christians, In The Higher And Middle Classes. Sixth Edition. Glasgow: William Collins, 1837, 301.

3 Martin Luther. The Christian in Society, IV. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971, 107.

4 Martin Luther. The Christian in Society, IV. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971, 110.

5 Martin Luther. The Christian in Society, IV. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971, 110.

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