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Law and Chaos

posted Dec 7, 2016, 12:49 PM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 4:56 PM ]

Dec 26, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 8, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

Chaos, the Basic Force of the Universe

If we believe that the universe evolved out of a primeval chaos, we then hold chaos to be the primary and ultimate factor and force of the universe. Chaos is then the source and origin of all things and is the given, the datum, the under-girding force of the cosmos. Instead of God as the source, we then have chaos.

All non-Biblical religions trace their origins to chaos. Creation is seen, not as an act but a process, a growth, development, or evolution. Only in the Bible do we have creationism; every other religion rests on process-philosophy. In the religions of antiquity, the gods themselves are a product of process; they themselves are born of chaos.

Now, as I have shown in my study, The Religion of Revolution, when chaos is ultimate, when chaos is the source of all things, as it is in evolution, then regeneration is by means of chaos. Chaos is the formless, the completely disorderly, the absolutely lawless source of all things. As the source of all things, chaos is thus also the basic and underlying energy and power of the universe. Instead of deriving all power from God and His creative act, evolution derives all energy and power from primeval chaos. Chaos is ultimate; hence, it is the basic force of the universe.

Rebirth Through Chaos

In such an evolutionary perspective, regeneration—rebirth—for man and for society is therefore by chaos. The Christian goes to the triune God, revealed in Jesus Christ, to be born again. All believers in evolutionary and process philosophies go to chaos to be born again.

As a result, in all paganism the basic religious rite or festival was a ritual of chaos, of which the Roman Saturnalia was one form. During the festival of chaos, practices normally forbidden became religiously required. Incest, adultery, all forms of perversion, all forms of lawlessness, became mandatory and necessary and were practiced by all. It was belief in being born again by means of chaos. Both to have personal rebirth and social regeneration, chaos was necessary. Evolution is a modern form of the cults of chaos, and the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species was hailed with delight by Marx and Engels. They saw immediately that it provided, as Marx wrote to Lassalle, “a basis in natural science for the class struggle in history” and for revolution. For communism, social regeneration is by means of chaos. Even when a country is taken over peacefully, revolution must be applied to it from above. Revolution is planned chaos as regeneration. It is a religious principle. Both evolution and Marxism are modern forms of the ancient cults of chaos.

God the Source of Law

Now Biblical faith is in creationism; not chaos but God is ultimate. God has created all things, sustains all things, and only God can recreate all things. Regeneration is by God’s grace through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Grace does not set aside the law; it fulfills and establishes the law. As St. Paul declared in Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” The purpose of the law is life. As St. Paul said, it “was ordained to life” but, because of sin, “I found to be unto death” (Rom. 7:10). In itself, according to Paul, “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12). “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). Man in Christ dies to the law as an indictment, a sentence of death, which Christ assumed for us. Man lives in Christ, not to despise God’s law but now to abide by it through the grace of God. Grace is the believer’s life, and law is its condition.

When man was created and established by God in the Garden of Eden, man was given the principle of law to live by. Genesis 2 makes this very clear. Paradise was not a lawless domain. On the contrary, the principle of law prevailed absolutely. Man had from the beginning the responsibility of moral choice with respect to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. By his daily obedience, man said that God is the sovereign and the determiner of all things; God alone can declare what is good and what is evil, and man the creature must obey. The temptation of Satan was, “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Every man shall be his own god, determining what is good and evil for himself. Thus, first of all, the principle of law was at stake daily in Paradise. Would man recognize God as the source of law, or would man declare himself to be the source of law?

Law and Man’s Responsibility

Second, law was involved in Adam’s responsibility to care for Eden. Work, then, without the curse, was his responsibility to God, and the law of man’s daily life involved accountability for his labor and a responsibility to discharge his duties. Work is a basic law sphere. Our attitude towards work is a part of our attitude towards law.

Third, man was under law in Paradise in that he was given the responsibility of naming the animals. Now to name in the Hebrew means to classify, to define the nature of, and a man’s name in Old Testament times was also his definition. A man’s name could therefore change several times in his life, as his life changed. Naming the animals was therefore a scientific task for Adam. It required understanding the basic laws of creation, of species and kinds, and classifying and identifying animals in terms of laws of their creation. Again, Adam was strictly bound to recognize and understand God’s laws.

Fourth, law was paramount in Adam’s marriage. Eve was not created simultaneously with Adam, but only after a considerable lapse of time, during which he had been active in his classification of nature and in his responsibility for Eden. Adam observed the male and female nature of animals but also saw that there was no help meet for him. In other words, Adam’s marriage was not to be merely in fulfillment of biological law, but in terms of God’s calling. Only as Adam found himself as a man in his vocation, in his responsibility, and in his understanding, was he then given Eve as his wife.

The Principle of Law was Paramount in Paradise

The principle of law, God’s law, was thus paramount in Paradise. The image of God in man, in its narrower sense, is knowledge, righteousness, holiness, and dominion. The development and realization of that image was through law. When man fell, the salvation of man by the grace of God through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, reestablished man in communion with God. It placed man again in relationship to God, and the rules of man’s relationship are law, God’s law. As St. Paul said, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5). We are not saved to despise the law but we are saved to keep the law as the righteousness of God.

Change and Development out of Chaos: The Evolutional Foundation of Revolutionary Forces

Now the essence of any evolutionary perspective is its concept of change and development out of chaos. Thus, it both emphasizes chaos as the ultimate power, and change as the constant factor. If chaos is ultimate, then revolution is a necessary form of social regeneration. If change is the constant factor, then law is a changing factor, and we cannot have a belief in an absolute law, in an ultimate good and evil, in a constant right and wrong. Change is then the only law of life, and the means of change is chaos and revolution.

Our world today is caught in the forces of revolution and of change. The change is not growth, but change for the sake of change. Revolution only deepens our crisis, but men turn to revolution for salvation. In fact, for modern evolutionary thinking, revolution is salvation.

We cannot begin to combat these revolutionary forces unless we first of all challenge their evolutionary foundation. The myth of evolution, a modern form of an ancient cultural myth, must be challenged in the name of Biblical creationism, without any apology or hesitancy, and without any concessions. The creation of all things by God in six days is the plain statement of Scripture. It is the necessary premise, the foundation, of Biblical faith. For men to compromise and to substitute other foundations means to substitute man for God, and man’s thinking for God’s word, and the consequence can only be disaster. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1).

Law and Authority

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:23 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 27, 2016, 1:03 PM ]

Dec 19, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 7, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

No Thinking Without Authority

All thinking appeals to authority, and the question to ask of any man or of any philosophy or religion, is simply this: “What is its authority?” To what does it appeal as the foundation, the basis, of its thinking?

Now we are used today to hearing some express their contempt of all authority. In particular, many college radicals are quite vocal, as are many of their professors, in despising any appeal to authority. Supposedly, they are free minds and need no such appeal. But all such claims represent either hypocrisy or ignorance, because there is no possibility of any thinking without authority. The only question is which authority?

Which Authority?

For many of these supposedly anti-authoritarian persons, their basic authority is the individual. In other words, they recognize no God or man as authoritative, and they exalt their own thinking to a position of ultimacy. They become gods in their own eyes. In essence, their faith is that every man should be his own god, but that no man can be free or become his own god unless he agrees with them. This position is essentially anarchism, and it is as intolerant and exclusive a kind of authoritarianism as any. The hostility of these anarchists is to every kind of authoritarianism except their own.

People who profess to be believers in democracy also have their own brand of authoritarianism. They claim that democracy is the true way of life and the true form of civil government because it rests on the true foundation, the people. The ancient faith in democracy is summed up in the Latin phrase, vox populi, vox Dei, the voice of the people is the voice of God. The people are thus the god of democracy. No law, no constitution, no religious faith can be permitted to stand in the way of the will of the people. The will of the people incarnates itself in a governing elite who express this general will infallibly. There is a direct connection between the democratic thinking of Rousseau and Karl Marx’ dictatorship of the proletariat.

All Systems of Thought Are Authoritarian

In any system of thought, authority is inescapable. In this respect, every religion, political faith, philosophy, and science is authoritarian. Each appeals to a basic and ultimate authority, to God or man, to the individual or to people in the mass, to reason or to experience; whatever the case may be, something is the underlying authority in every system of thought. Science is as authoritarian as any religion. Science rests on certain authoritative beliefs that undergird all science. Science holds, for example, to the faith, first, that reality is measurable. In other words, what is real is that which can be measured. Second, science holds that reality has unity, uniformity, so that knowledge of reality is possible because reality does not contradict itself. These and many other axioms or presuppositions of science are basically religious beliefs, and they provide the authority for science.

No man can escape the problem of authority. Every man will consciously or unconsciously appeal to some authority as basic and ultimate to life. Most authorities revered by men today are human authorities: the individual, the people, the elite thinkers and planners, science, reason, or the state, these are all humanistic authorities.

Authorities that are of This World Enslave Man

When a man’s authorities are of this world, then man is in danger. These authorities are then not only ultimate, they are also proximate or present. They stand right over him with all their imposing claims, and, because they occupy the same ground man does, they limit and destroy the liberty of man.

Two things of the same world cannot occupy the same point in time and space. If a man’s gods or authorities are of this world, they will insist on occupying his place in time and space, and the result is the enslavement and eviction of man from his due liberties and station in life. A man cannot compete with his authorities, with his gods; they are by his own recognition above and over him. If a man’s gods are of this world, and if they are man-made and humanistic, they know only one realm to occupy, man’s realm. This is why anarchism and democracy, while professing to exalt man, end by oppressing him. This, too, is why humanistic science, while claiming to serve man, ends by using man as its experimental test animal, its guinea pig.

Your Authority is Your God

The authority of any system of thought is the god of that system. Men, by denying God, cannot escape God. God is the inescapable reality, and the inescapable category of thought. When men deny the one true God, they do it only to make false gods.

Behind every system of law there is a god. To find the god in any system, locate the source of law in that system. If the source of law is the individual, then the individual is the god of that system. If the source of law is the people, or the dictatorship of the proletariat, then these things are the gods of those systems. If our source of law is a court, then the court is our god. If there is no higher law beyond man, then man is his own god, or else his creatures, the institutions he has made, have become his gods. When you choose your authority, you choose your god, and where you look for your law, there is your god.

The Ground of Liberty

The ground of liberty is Jesus Christ. Biblical faith places authority in the triune God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost—and in God’s inspired and infallible word, the Bible. God does not compete with man as humanistic authorities do. He is above, over, and beyond man. The purpose of His law and of His government is to establish man in godly order and in true liberty. Because God has created this world and history, God does not seek to obliterate history but to bring man and history to fulfillment.

God, the Source of Authority in this World

Authority in Biblical faith is in this world only under God. Men are given authority over their wives, and parents over children, under God and subject to His laws. The authority of the state over its citizens and the authority of the church over its members are always subject to the prior authority of God and the supremacy of His law. In every area, God undergirds legitimate authority, which is His creation, by His word and law. But, in every area, God also limits all human authority by His own sovereignty and by His word. No human authority can claim to be ultimate, nor can any authority speak with final power.

Both Authority and Law are Necessary

Just as it is impossible for man to live without authority, so it is impossible for man to live without law. Moreover, every honest system of law will openly avow its basic authority and disavow every other authority. Every law presupposes a basic authority, and the ultimate authority of every system of thought is the god of that system.

It is apparent therefore that we are sadly astray today in our thinking about law. Our law has ceased to be Christian and has become humanistic and democratic. Its purpose is to establish the will of mass man, of democratic man, as the ultimate authority. As a result, our law is increasingly an anti-Christian system of law. It is hostile to the sovereignty of God, and it affirms the sovereignty of man. Our lawmakers are saying in effect, “Let us make god in our own image, after our likeness.” They are bent not only on remaking law but on remaking man.

The Purposes of God’s Law and Man’s Law

God’s law has as its purpose the government of man, to guide and direct man into the way of righteousness and truth. Grace recreates man, and law is the form of the new man’s life, in that man is regenerated in order to be conformed to God.

Man’s law seeks to remake man in terms of the humanistic state’s plan for man. As a result, the humanistic state, as the new god over man, controls every fact of life in order to use all things to remake man. Education is increasingly used in order to teach statism and to mold the minds of children. The motto of progressive educators, “We do not teach subjects; we teach children,” is very apt. Their purpose is not the communication of knowledge to children but to re-shape children to their ideas of democracy. The schools thus are instruments of social regeneration. Instead of rebirth by Jesus Christ, they offer rebirth by means of statist, progressivist curriculum. The public schools are the creatures of the state, and therefore they teach and exalt the authority of the democratic state. They exalt the authority of democracy and under-cut the authority of God, whom they bypass as though He were irrelevant to education. The public schools are thoroughly authoritarian and their authority is democracy.

Choose, and Submit to that Choice

Authority is inescapable. The basic question is which authority, the authority of God or of man? If we choose man, we have no right to complain against the rise of totalitarianism, the rise of tyranny—we have asked for it. If we choose God’s authority, then we must submit to it without reservation; we must accept His infallible word and must in all things acknowledge His sovereignty. On this foundation, we are “founded upon the rock,” Jesus Christ, and we shall not fall (Matt. 7:24-27).

Answers to Objections #9

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:20 AM by Paul McClintock

Dec 15, 2011 by Buddy Hanson

Answers to Common Objections are a regular column on Explicitly Christian Politics. These answers were written by Buddy Hanson and published in the appendix of his book, The Christian Civil Ruler’s Handbook. Buddy has written a number of books on applying God’s Word to culture, civil-government and politics and we are grateful for the answers he gives to common objections we hear all the time. Check out his website here.

Objection #9: “What you are advocating amounts to ‘blind obedience’ to Civil Rulers; couldn’t this lead to the State promoting a false religion?”

It should be clear by now that Christianity does not promote “blind obedience” to any of its doctrines. However, this objection does describe the situation that happens under any form of civil government. Civil rulers govern according to their worldview, and if that view happens to be non-Christian, their policies and legal decisions will promote a false religion. There is no mention in Scripture about a civil government being pluralistic in its religion. Indeed, in the first commandment God says we are to have “no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

Therefore in submitting to civil rulers who are enforcing God’s rules, we should also resist those who are enforcing man’s rules. As long, then, as civil rulers enforce God’s rules, instead of making up rules (laws) of their own, citizens have no option but to obey them. In order to properly function as God’s ministers, civil rulers should be familiar with and study God’s Word so they can carry out His will for their citizenry (promoting peace and keeping their community safe). In the words of Samuel, “He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God” (2 Samuel 23:3).

Tyranny exists when the civil governor replaces God’s laws with his own. Since tyranny is Satanic, not to resist it is to resist God; or expressing this in positive terms, to resist tyranny is to honor God.

Moreover, since the obligation of self-defense is given by God, to give up that right is sin!

Since the king is granted power conditionally, it follows that the people have the power to withdraw their sanction if the conditions are not fulfilled. The king―or political authority or civil magistrate―is a fiduciary figure; that is, he holds his authority in trust.

Law and the Future

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:18 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 5:07 PM ]

Dec 12, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 6, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

Planning the future

Man is not alone in planning for the future. Animals store food, build nests, migrate to other climates, and, in a variety of ways, live in terms of tomorrow. With animals, however, such activity is instinctive. Man alone envisions a future, dreams of a hope or plan, and then works, self-consciously and purposefully, to realize that future.
Man lives, moreover, in terms of a future he believes in or looks forward to. To a very great degree, his life is governed and measured by his future. Recently, many very seriously ill hospital patients were questioned about their future. A high degree of correlation was found between thinking ahead and life expectancy. Those who could think ahead only a week usually lived a week; those whose vision included or spanned a month, lived a month. On the whole, it became apparent that usually, when a man’s thinking has no future he has no life.

The Nature of Man’s Vision of the Future

Historically, Western man’s vision of the future has been Christian. Christian man has seen the future of history, and of himself personally, in terms of the triumph of Christ and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. Beginning in the seventeenth century, this Christian future was gradually replaced by a vision of history as the fulfillment of man apart from God, in terms of a religious and scientific humanism.
Utopian writing began to express this dream of a marvelous new world in which science and technology conquer all problems, and man becomes a new Adam, living in a new paradise on earth. For the Christian the basic problem and roadblock is sin; for the scientific utopian, the basic problem is insufficient science and technology. As science and technology develop, all man’s problems will disappear.
In the Soviet Union especially, science fiction became the expression of this hope. Science cannot fail; technology will overcome all problems. The future will see communism triumph because it is scientific, and it avails itself of every instrument of science to create the perfect future for man. For Communist science fiction, there is no failure, only the steady triumph of scientific socialism. In the United States, many science fiction writers are beginning to see sin in man’s future destroying or misusing all the powers opened up by science and technology to create a hell on earth. The result is a vision of the future filled with great horrors and no faith. The American perspective is half-humanistic; it sees science as a new god and able to create almost at will. But the American perspective is also half-Christian; it sees science as also subject to original sin and thus able to use its powers to unleash fearful calamities and destruction. The Soviet Communist is forbidden to doubt the future; it is a question of science and controls, not a question of religion. The American still sees the scientist producing science; he sees the men behind science and is distrustful of man. The American is ready to believe in sin and depravity but not in salvation.

The Connection with Law

Now law is also closely connected with our thinking about the future, and it is very closely connected with social planning. As a matter of fact, law is the basic form of social planning. God’s law, His eternal decree, is His predestination of man and the universe, His foreordination and creation of the future. Man attempts to do the same thing with law, both under God and apart from Him. When the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, that law was a plan for the future of the federal government under God. Because the framers did not claim omnipotence or perfection, they left room for improvements or corrections by means of amendments, but they did impose a basic law on the federal union as a plan for its future. The minutes of the Constitutional Convention give us their hopes and fears for the future, and they devised the Constitution as a means of realizing their hopes and preventing their fears from realization.
Thus, law is the basic form of social planning. Every law is geared to a belief concerning the nature of society; every law is expressive of some faith concerning life, liberty, and property, and it is a part of a plan to realize an envisioned future.
The question that we must ask therefore is simply this: of what plan are our new laws a part? They represent, as do all laws, a piece of social planning, but what plan?

What Plan?

As we analyze these new laws, certain facets become more and more clear. First, our laws are increasingly alien to Christian faith; they do not see man and the republic as “under God.” Instead, they are clearly humanistic. As a result, we do face a major legal revolution, and it is already well under way. Second, for American law, from its earliest days to the present, sin has been the problem. Checks and balances, divisions of powers, express powers, criminal law, civil law, and various levels of civil government all were designed to cope with the fact that man is a sinner, and he is no less a sinner when he becomes a civil official but rather more potentially or ably a sinner. Increasingly, our legal revolution is geared to a denial of the doctrine of sin. Not sin but environment is at fault. The answer is a change of environment through legislation, and this changed environment will thereupon change man. Instead of Christian salvation, man needs scientific reconditioning, either through mental health programs, wars on poverty, master plans for areas and peoples, or by means of controls.
Third, for the new law, man’s liberty is from God and from religion. The state must be separated from God, but it is not separated from agnosticism or atheism, and it embraces humanism. It affirms the sufficiency of man and the state apart from and without God. For the Christian, man’s true liberty is under God and from sin, and from the tyranny of sin as it manifests itself in man, the church, and the state.
Fourth, for Christian law, the future is a godly and law-abiding society under God, free from the tyranny of men and free to realize itself under God. For humanistic law, social planning as realized in laws has as its goal a scientific, humanistic world in which an elite plan for and govern all men in terms of technology and reason.
In discussing science fiction, we saw that the Soviet Union has a determined goal in terms of scientific socialism, and it is governing all things in terms of achieving that goal. American science fiction reveals a schizophrenic vision of the future—a partial commitment to scientific, socialistic humanism, and a partial retention of the Christian faith that man’s basic problem is sin and his basic answer is salvation through Jesus Christ.

Tyranny and its Remedy

Because of our ignorance of the Bible, of our Christian foundations, the erosion in our historic American system is both deep and widespread. Many of the people who are most worked up over this problem are the least prepared to cope with it, because they lack Christian foundations. They know the problem well. They can document our American crisis by the hour, with voluminous detail. But they are basically humanistic in spite of themselves because of their radical ignorance of the faith. It is not too difficult to stand by bedsides and know when men are dying, and to say so. It is much more difficult to prescribe the medicine, or perform the surgery necessary, to save a man’s life.

Law is a plan for the future. To return to law which undergirds and establishes a Christian future under God, it is necessary to know God in Christ, and to know His law and to know it well. The future we want is a future under God, not under tyrants. The law we need is a law which protects the Christian man in his God-given liberties rather than a law giving the state god-like powers over man.
A humanistic law must find its god and its devil in the world of man, since it denies any supernatural realm. Thus, a very influential book, written in Russia just three years after the Revolution, Eugene Zamiatin’s We, sees the future as a one-world order populated by people whose names are numbers. Every man has a “zip-code” instead of a name. The god of this world is named We, and its devil is I.
The thinking here is logical. If the supernatural is eliminated, then the natural must be the root and source of good and evil, the source of the god and the devil for the system. For the collectivist or socialist, the god is We; for the anarchist, the god is I. Both the I and the We, the individual and the group, become fearful monsters when they are made into gods, and, under humanism, one or the other must prevail. The loser becomes the devil and must be destroyed. This is why, under humanism, tyranny is inescapable. The very word tyranny comes from an ancient Greek word meaning “secular rule,” that is, rule by man rather than by means of God’s law. The true remedy for tyranny is not the rule of a church but of godly law, the rule of law which plans for a present and a future under the sovereignty of God. As the psalmist said long ago, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1). 

Law and Nature

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:17 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 5:09 PM ]

Dec 5, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 5, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

Doubts About Natural Law

It has been so customary for men in Western civilization to think in recent centuries of natural law that it comes as a shock to some to hear doubts concerning it. But not every aspect of Western thought has always agreed that there is such a thing as natural law, nor have other cultures assented to it either. Thus a Chinese poet in the fifth century A.D. (Pao Chao, The Ruined City, 414-466) surveyed the past and present with a melancholy regret at the perversity of nature and history, concluding,

The greatest displeasure of the largest number Is the law of nature.

Oriental philosophy has on the whole been skeptical and pessimistic about both nature and the supernatural. Its perspective has been one of either a basic agnosticism or atheism, and it has usually believed that nothingness is the ultimate truth about all things.

By contrast, originating in ancient Greek thought, Western thinkers have often believed in natural law. They have insisted that there is a higher law in nature as against the positive law of the state. In the late medieval period, especially from the Renaissance on, natural law philosophy came to dominate Western thinking until recently.

The Relevancy of the Problem

All this sounds academic and rather remote, but it is urgently relevant to our present problems. We cannot understand what has happened to our courts, especially the Supreme Court, without a knowledge of this problem, nor can we understand anything about our modern world situation without a grasp of it.

The problem in part is this. The advocates of natural law say that there is a higher law in nature which man’s enlightened reason can discover. This higher law, which is inherent in nature (that is, it is in and of nature) is the true law by which men and nations must be governed.

Against this belief, two groups of thinkers are arrayed. First, there are the relativists, positivists, pragmatists, Marxists, existentialists, and others who deny natural law. For most of these thinkers, the only real law is positive law, the law of the state. There is no higher law or higher justice to pass judgment over man and the state. The only truth in being is human truth as it appears in history in the form of the state. As a result, men, instead of gearing their hopes to some non-existent higher law, must gear their hopes to reality, and this means civil government, the state as man’s hope.

Legal Positivism and Oliver Wendell Holmes

Some years ago, this opinion, legal positivism, began to take over the United States Supreme Court. As we shall see, there were good grounds for this change. Central to this change in the court was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., chief justice of the court and one of the most influential thinkers in its history. Everything that has since happened to the court is simply a product, a logical working-out, of Holmes’s legal revolution.

Before criticizing Holmes, it is important to note that Holmes was very extensively on solid ground in criticizing natural law. The doctrine, he held, was simply legal nonsense, if not tyranny. Various rationalistic thinkers, governed by their concepts of logic, concluded that nature had inherent within it certain laws which were higher laws over man and the state. But the rationalism of these men varied, and as a result, their natural laws varied. Chinese, Hindu, Moslem, and Western legal thinkers and philosophers were by no means agreed as to what constitutes natural law. Those who held to natural law were, moreover, not agreed amongst themselves; their concepts of natural law varied in terms of their backgrounds, beliefs, and general cultural experience. Thus, experience, not a higher law or logic, was basic to law. As Holmes said, at the beginning of his study, The Common Law (1881), “The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories, intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which judges share with their fellow men, have had a good deal more to do with the syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed … The substance of the law at any given time pretty nearly corresponds, so far as it goes, with what is then understood to be convenient; but its form and machinery, and the degree to which it is able to work out desired results, depend very much upon its past.” Holmes’s statement is a very fair one: law has embodied experience, belief, and prejudice, and natural law is a law which is as variable as the persons expounding it. The question, of course, still remains as to whether a higher law lies in back of that experience. For Holmes, however, the rationalism of the natural law philosophers is a poorer guide than the experience of the people as embodied in the state. Holmes had no illusions about either, but he did prefer the broader basis of the experience of the people as embodied in the state.

More can be added in defense of Holmes’s position. Darwinism dealt natural law a body blow. If evolution be true, then nature, instead of representing a perfect and final law order, is instead simply a blind, lawless force working its way upward and establishing its own rules, if they can be called that, by blind, unconscious experience. An intelligent experience, and an intelligent reflected experience, is known only by man. This intelligent reflected experience man uses to formulate law.

Law is therefore positive law, not a higher law. It is the experience of society embodied as the law of the state. It is therefore a changing, developing experience and law. Instead of being bound by a higher law or a past constitution, it must reflect present experience and reality. A constitution reflects dead experience, whereas man’s present life is governed by living experience. The courts therefore must reflect the growing experiences of society intelligently and conscientiously, in order to ascertain the direction and form of these experiences.

Without agreeing with this position, it must be noted that there is much in its favor. If evolution be true, natural law is hopelessly dead, and legal positivism is a necessary conclusion for any modern thinker. The natural law thinkers begin on an Aristotelian or Enlightenment basis. They do not face realistically the implications of a post-Darwinian world. As a result, the courts, in choosing between these two positions, have simply kept up with the times. Intellectually, the Supreme Court justices have been especially alert to the philosophical currents of our day, and they have reflected with consistency what most people believe without consistency.

Christian Orthodoxy

However, we stated that these legal positivists were one of two groups lined up against the old natural law concepts. The second group represents supernaturalism, Christian orthodoxy. According to these thinkers, whose presuppositions are governed by the Bible, laws govern nature, but these laws which govern nature are not therefore laws of nature but laws over nature. In other words, nature has no power, mind, consciousness, or will in and of itself. Nature is simply a collective noun, a name for the sum total of this universe. It is a collective noun, a name for the sum total of this universe. It is absurd to personify nature and to ascribe to it a law or purpose.

But this is not all. For the Christian thinker, nature cannot be normative, that is, it cannot be a standard. We cannot say, as moral anarchists do say, that a thing is good because it is natural, that is, because it occurs in nature. All kinds of things occur in nature—crimes, murders, thefts, perversions, and all manner of evils. According to Lenny Bruce, “Truth is ‘what Law is.’” In other words, every kind of criminal activity is equally the truth with all things else, because it occurs in nature. The lie is that which tries to impose a standard of right and wrong in and over nature. There is for anarchism a total moral equality between all acts.

For the Christian, however, nature is not the standard, because the world of nature is a fallen world, a world in rebellion against God and infected by sin and death. For a standard, we must look beyond nature to God.

Now God has established various law spheres over nature, laws governing physical reality, laws governing society, morality, religion, the church, and all things else. In every area of our lives, we are governed by laws; whether we eat or sleep, work, worship, or play, we move in law spheres. Our eating obeys laws of nutrition and digestion; our sleep is governed by physiological laws; our every activity involves one law sphere after another. These law spheres are a part of God’s creation; nature did not evolve them; they appeared together with nature when God created all things.

Our Present Legal Crisis—And its Answer

Our present legal crisis has its roots in Darwinism’s demolition of natural law. The legal positivists believe that it is impossible to go back to the old eighteenth century belief in Nature as a kind of substitute for God, a Nature with hard and fast laws of its own making. Both reason and experience lead modern thinkers to agree substantially with the present Supreme Court. Law is the developing, intelligent, and reflected experience of the people of the state as expressed through the court.

But this makes the judges of the court into new gods of being—Plato’s philosopher-kings who are the totalitarian rulers over mankind. Clearly, this is our present direction. The democratic consensus is best known, we are told, by the experts, who can best tell us what we should favor and believe. In short, when we deny God as our God, then we make men gods over us. The answer to natural law and to legal positivism is revelation. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1).

The Politics of Pornography

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:15 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 5:11 PM ]

Nov 28, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 4, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

In order to understand some of the major currents of our day, it is necessary to recognize that one of the central purposes of pornography is political. An analysis of the politics of pornography is therefore essential.

Pornography and Obscenity

Before doing so, it is necessary to call attention to a distinction made between pornography and obscenity. The novelist, Henry Miller, has said, “Obscenity is a cleansing process, whereas pornography only adds to the murk…Wherever a taboo is broken, something good happens, something revitalizing.” Miller is by his own statement a champion of obscenity, but hostile to pornography. What is the distinction, if there is one? Basically, Miller’s distinction is this: pornography is dirt for dirt’s sake, whereas obscenity has as its purpose the systematic destruction of law and moral order, a revolutionary reordering of society. This distinction is only partially true. Obscenity does have this revolutionary purpose, consciously and openly. Pornography is more exploitive, but it has nonetheless an implicit or explicit revolutionary purpose. It is hostile to morality and law, and it encourages and favors rebellion against morality. As a result, it has political implications no less than Millers’ obscenity. In discussing the politics of pornography, we are therefore analyzing the basic position of the whole field, pornography and obscenity. While there are differences in emphasis, the essential position is the same.

Hatred of Morality

Now the first thing which is apparent in pornography is its obvious hatred of morality, its marked distaste for Biblical faith and morals. Moral restraint is seen as bondage for man, a slavery which must be destroyed. As a result, pornography indulges endlessly in long, tasteless, and highly emotional attacks on morality, on the sanctity of marriage, on monogamy, and on every kind of moral inhibition. It seeks to fan the flames of moral rebellion, to see morality as dull and restrictive, and immorality and perversion as exciting and liberating. Although people will attempt to prove almost anything these days it would be an impossibility to prove that pornography is not hostile to Biblical faith and morality, because it so obviously reeks with hatred and hostility.

Evil is Life

A second observation is equally obvious: pornography sees a tremendous appeal in moral evil. Morality is seen as tedious and confining, as utterly boring and restrictive, whereas evil is portrayed as man’s liberation. Evil has the potency of a magnetic force for the pornographer. The vitality, potency, and possibility of life are wrapped up in evil. Truly to live means for him evil, a commitment to and an involvement in moral evil. Man is not really alive, we are told, if he lives morally; life means evil; it means what is called sin and perversion. Only the person who sins is truly alive, it is held. Evil, for these people, is life.

Morality is Death

Third, it can be further stated that for the pornographer morality is death. To confine men and women to the prison house of morality, marriage, law, and order is seen as equivalent to a sentence of death. Since evil is life, morality is logically death, and this is the religious faith of pornography. The gospel for man is thus evil; sin is the way of salvation, and the way to life and liberty. This faith is insistently presented, and with a religious fervor, and with good reason, because its roots are in an ancient religious faith, Manichaeanism, and also in various cults of chaos. For this faith, sin is life. Researchers a few years ago found that many people commit adultery, not because of any desire for the other person, but because of a fear that they will miss out on life if they do not sin. This is in essence the position of pornography—it offers sin and evil, and it declares it to be true life precisely because it is sin and evil.

Hostility to the Idea of Morality

Fourth, pornography manifests a hostility to the very idea of law and morality. Law means for it something inhibiting and stultifying, a deadening restraint upon man. Morality is held to be the dead hand of the past, the fearful and death-oriented will of men bound to superstition and fear. The destiny of man is to be free from law, according to these men, and the way to be free is to begin by breaking the law, by violating morality. Man’s freedom is to be free from law, free to do as one pleases, and the mark of this freedom is the deliberate violation of all law and order. Very briefly, this position is one of moral anarchism. Man’s greatest enemy is religion, morality, and law. Eliminate religious and moral law, and all the evils of human life will disappear. Man and the state can then reconstruct society in terms of man’s liberation from God and create a truly human order, the great society of humanism, the city of man.

At the Second Annual Conference of Socialist Scholars, one of the leading lecturers called for “the collective worker in a collective society” and for “the destruction of monogamic bourgeois family as we know it” and for “complete freedom of sexual life.”1. Human Events, September 24, 1966, 5

Totalitarian Authority: A Necessity Without Self-Government

Fifth, in other words, man’s freedom, he stated, involves being “exempt from Totalitarian worship” as well as morality, but man’s freedom also involves a Marxist state! Slavery is religion and morality, and freedom is Marxist socialism. Moral anarchism is the tool and instrument of totalitarianism, of socialism, and dictatorship. Moral anarchism is used to destroy every form of social stability and order in order to pave the way for totalitarian order. Christianity gives to man the faith and character for self-government, and morality is the essence of self-discipline and self-government. Dissolve man’s self-government and you make a totalitarian authority over him a social necessity. It becomes apparent, therefore, that the link between pornography and revolutionary totalitarianism is a necessary one. The rise of totalitarianism has always been preceded by moral anarchism, and those seeking tyrannical powers over man have always worked to reduce man to a dependent position by undercutting his moral self-government and responsibility. The rise and triumph of pornography is a prelude to totalitarianism. Moral anarchy is the seedbed of tyranny.

This then explains the relationship between pornography and totalitarianism. The champions of pornography talk loudly about liberty. Any legislation against pornography is protested as hostile to freedom of press and civil rights generally, but these same people are curiously silent about protesting the inroads of totalitarianism, of Marxism, into the social order. If they are interested in liberty, why not defend it against Marxism? The answer is that they are hostile to liberty; hence their defense of pornography is an instrument whereby man’s moral liberty can be eroded and destroyed.

Purpose: Revolution

Our sixth point is thus an obvious conclusion: the politics of pornography is a moral anarchism whose purpose is revolution, a revolution against Christian civilization. The dean of modern pornographers and a great revolutionist was the Marquis de Sade. The Marquis called for total freedom for every kind of sexual perversion. For Sade, “true wisdom” meant “not…repressing…our vice…since these vices constitute almost the only happiness in our lives…to repress them would be to become our executioners.” The Marquis called for the abolition of the death penalty, laws against theft, laws against murder, prostitution, adultery, incest, rape, sodomy, and all else. Equality required that all acts have equal standing before the law, except, of course, Christian moral laws such as monogamy, laws protecting property, and similar legislations. For Sade, Christianity and its moral laws should be abolished by law; all things else should be accepted. He defended all kinds of crimes and perversions as natural and good. “Can we possibly imagine Nature giving us the possibility of committing a crime which could offend her?…The most independent of men and those closest to Nature are savages; with impunity they devote themselves to murder every day.”

The Marquis de Sade wrote with honesty. In his books, the politics of pornography is open and obvious. The contemporary pornographers are less open about stating their revolutionary goals, but they are still very obvious. The politics of pornography is simply the politics of revolution.

The sexual aspect of pornography is the most obvious aspect. It is an excellent come-on for the stupid and immature, but the underlying purpose is far more extensive in scope. It is nothing less than revolution. It is the reordering of life and society in terms of moral anarchism.

In Esquire, June, 1963, Anthony Lewis wrote on “Sex – and the Supreme Court,” stating that after the Supreme Court’s Roth decision, “no serious literary work can now be termed constitutionally obscene.” All that a pornographer needs to do, if this be true, is to call attention to his serious purpose, namely, his revolutionary purpose, to seek to escape from prosecution. The “serious” purpose can be called sexual reform. Thus, in The New Leader for September 2, 1963, Stanley Edgar Hyman, writing on “In Defense of Pornography,” wrote, “These books may teach and encourage a wider range of heterosexual activity, oral and anal as well as genital, and should be welcomed if they do.” In other words, the increasing defense of pornography is that pornography itself is a socially redeeming activity and is therefore its own justification. In short, the plea for pornography is becoming the fact that it is pornography.

Recognition, Legislation, and Positive Actions

Many things can be said at this point. Certainly new and clearer legislation is necessary and urgently needed. Moreover, it is necessary that we recognize the radical and political implications of pornography. These things and more need to be done.

But positive actions must also accompany them—the reordering of life and society in terms of Biblical faith and standards. The basic answer to moral anarchism is the strengthening of Christian moral discipline. We need and must have sound legislations, but we must also establish the right kind of theological and moral foundations. If the foundations are destroyed, the structure will not stand. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1).

Liberty: Limited or Unlimited?

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:13 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 5:13 PM ]

Nov 21, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 3, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

The issue of legislation governing pornography is becoming a major debate on the American scene. Shall legislation be further framed to abolish pornography, or does such legislation become censorship and a violation of civil rights?

For and Against

Before analyzing the issue, let us examine the arguments for and against. In California, for example, the CLEAN Initiative, in 1966 Proposition 16 on the ballot, was one campaign among many to combat pornography. The advocates of CLEAN called attention to the fact that pornography in the United States has been a two billion dollar business annually. The publishers of pornography openly solicit manuscripts emphasizing perversions and hard-core pornography. Prosecution of avowedly pornographic works is difficult or impossible because existing laws are too weak. District attorneys do not initiate prosecutions, because the present law is inadequate to secure convictions. It is held that, to combat both pornography and its products, criminality and venereal disease, new laws are necessary.

Not so, the opponents argued. There is no necessary connection, it is claimed, between pornography and criminality, between pornography and immorality. Moreover, even if it were proven that such a connection exists, it would be wrong to pass laws against pornography, because such laws would introduce a greater evil, censorship and the loss of liberty. We are told that if pornography is the price we must pay for liberty, then we must be prepared to pay it. Liberty is too basic to the life of man to be sacrificed for any other factor. A lesser good cannot be sacrificed for the greater and basic good. We are against pornography, many argue, but we are even more emphatically against censorship and against any and every attack on liberty.

We can, as we assess these two conflicting positions, appreciate both a concern for moral standards and also a concern for liberty. The argument concerned with liberty is an important one, but it must be intelligently used. And what is liberty? Can it be limited, or is true liberty only unlimited liberty?

Unlimited Liberty is not Possible

Liberty is defined by the dictionary as “The state of being exempt from the domination of others or from restricting circumstances.” But this definition, like all others, presents problems. After all, who is free from the domination of others, and free from restricting circumstances? We all have some domination to face: a husband, even a wife, parents, employers, superior officers, tax collectors, the various forms of government, and so on. And, supremely, we are all under the dominion and domination of God. And who is ever exempt from restricting circumstances? After all, your income is a restriction on your liberty: you can spend so much and no more. Having a family is a restricting circumstance: it definitively limits your liberty. The necessity of working is also a restriction on our liberty, as is every other circumstance in our life. Thus, according to this definition, only God is absolutely free, because only God is “exempt from the domination of others and from restricting circumstances.” If we look to other dictionary definitions, we are not much better off. Another reads that liberty is “The power of voluntary choice; freedom from necessity.” But who is ever free from necessity in this life? The point, I think, is clear: no such thing as absolute or unlimited liberty is possible or good.

Without Limitations There is no Liberty

More than that, unlimited liberty for man is destructive of liberty itself. Can we give any man the unlimited liberty to do as he pleases? Can a man rob whenever he sees fit, kill at will, lie as he wishes, and generally be a law unto himself? If we permitted this, soon no one would have any liberty. The result would be only anarchy. Man’s total liberty is always anarchy, and anarchy is the death of both law and liberty. Unless every man’s liberty is limited by law, no liberty is possible for any man. The criminal law and the civil law impose mutual limitations on all of us in order to provide the maximum liberty for all of us.

As a result, we must be aware of those who talk about defending liberty when they actually want to promote anarchy. When we are told that there can be no laws against pornography without endangering liberty, we must challenge their claim to be interested in liberty. There is no area where freedom is unlimited. Take freedom of speech, for example: no man has a right to slander others, nor do our laws allow him the liberty to do so at will. Neither do we allow any man the liberty to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. Freedom of speech does not give any man the right to walk onto the floor of Congress and speak his mind. His liberty is limited not only as to where he can say it but also as to what he says. This does not mean that I lack freedom to speak my mind, if it be done decently and in order.

Freedom of press means the liberty to publish, but it does not mean liberty to publish libelous statements, nor does it mean that any man can demand that his freedom of press be subsidized to enable him to publish. A man has the liberty to publish if he provides the cost of publication or interests a publisher in doing so. Moreover, the contents of what is published are also subject to limitations. Libel has already been cited. No man has the right, or liberty to publish another man’s property, to publish stolen or copyrighted material. Again, no man has the right or liberty to publish materials violating the privacy of others. There are all kinds of legitimate and necessary restrictions on every kind of liberty man has, and these are necessary for the maintenance of liberty, because liberty cannot be equated with anarchy.

Suppression is One Necessary Limitation on Liberty

One of the necessary limitations on liberty is the suppression of pornography. Certainly mistakes have sometimes been made here, but they have also been made with reference to laws governing libel, privacy, slander, treason, crime, and every limitation on liberty. Neither man nor his laws are perfect, nor will they ever be in this life. The alternative to perfection is not anarchy; it is a realistic and working use of laws to further both human liberty and law.

A Basic Premise

One of the basic premises of the American system, and a basic article of Christian faith, is that man’s liberty is under law. The purpose of law in the United States, has, historically, been to further liberty by law. Basic to all moral anarchism is the insistence that liberty can be gained only by freedom from law. From the beatniks and hippies to the student left and civil disobedience agitators, this belief in liberty as freedom from law runs deep. To prove that they are free, these immature and perverse minds insist on breaking some laws to demonstrate that they are free men. But moral anarchy is always the prelude to statist tyranny, and this vaunted freedom from law ends always in a freedom from liberty!

Liberty, then, is under law and it requires careful and conscientious legislation to maintain the social structure in that state of law which best promotes liberty. Limited liberty is the only kind of liberty possible to man. To dream of more is to endanger liberty itself.

The Rev. John Cotton, Puritan divine, wrote in the earliest days of New England, “It is necessary that all power on earth be limited.” This premise became basic to all colonial government and to the United States. The restoration of true liberty requires the restoration of true law. It is a dangerous and totally false idea that freedom means an escape from law; this can be true only if the escape is from some such system as communism, and communism is not true law but tyranny.

Favoring Anarchy

To oppose in the name of liberty legislation against pornography is thus to favor anarchy rather than liberty. The basic premise of American law calls for liberty of speech and freedom of press, subject to the necessary restrictions of law and order. The purpose of current legislation proposals concerning pornography is not the destruction of liberty but its furtherance. It is a destruction of the freedom of press if libel is made legal, if stealing copyrighted materials is made permissible, and if violations of privacy are left ungoverned. The press then becomes a tyrant and a menace; it is out of control; it can invade your home, steal your writings, and also lie about you.

Liberty and Responsibility Go Hand-in-hand

Pornography similarly is destructive of social order and of liberty. It is an insistence on the so-called right of moral anarchy, and, since its basic premise is anarchy, it brings anarchy also to every realm. Liberty goes hand-in-hand with responsibility. The laws limiting freedom of speech and freedom of press are laws requiring responsibility. Responsibility and liberty reinforce and strengthen each other. But pornography demands a world of moral anarchy, a world in which anything and everything goes, especially if it is perverted. As a matter of plain fact, the pornographer is hostile to law and order and to Christian morality. Being committed to moral anarchy, this is necessarily so. Being irresponsible, he is at war with the world of moral responsibility.

A Major Enemy to Liberty

The defense of pornography on the ground of liberty, of freedom of press, is a false one, because the essence of pornography is dedicated moral irresponsibility, and this moral anarchism is an enemy of liberty under law. Pornography denies the very concept of law; it believes in a world without law and is dedicated to creating it. It must destroy liberty under law in order to usher in anarchy and a world without law. The defense of our historic American system of liberty under law requires then that we wage war against pornography, because pornography is a major enemy to liberty.

The opponents of pornography are therefore no threat to liberty. Rather, they are its friends and defenders. Under the cloak and name of liberty, the pornographers are out to destroy liberty. The real champions of liberty are in every age hostile to pornography.

Answers to Objections #7

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:02 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 27, 2016, 1:19 PM ]

Nov 17, 2011 by Buddy Hanson

Answers to Common Objections are a regular column on Explicitly Christian Politics. These answers were written by Buddy Hanson and published in the appendix of his book, The Christian Civil Ruler’s Handbook. Buddy has written a number of books on applying God’s Word to culture, civil-government and politics and we are grateful for the answers he gives to common objections we hear all the time. Check out his website here.

Objection #7: “It’s not fair for non-Christian nations to be held accountable to God’s Laws because they don’t know what His Laws are!”

Moses teaches, “There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as for the native, for I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 24:22, Exodus 12:49). God’s perfect laws provide the best standard for anyone to live by, whether he be a Christian or a non-Christian (or in the original context, Jew or alien). It should be remembered that John the Baptist didn’t hesitate to apply God’s law to the non-Jewish King Herod (an Idumean) concerning his adulterous affair with his brother’s wife (Mark 6:18). In addition, this objection is dated because now the Bible has been translated into practically every known language. Secondly, since God’s Law has been written on mankind’s hearts (Romans 2:12-16) there is no excuse for anyone to claim, “I didn’t know about God’s Law!”

The Sanctity of Life

posted Dec 7, 2016, 11:00 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 5:22 PM ]

Nov 14, 2011 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 2, by Rousas John Rushdoony, a Reformed scholar and brilliant writer of the last century. Dr. Rushdoony was the founder of Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and to cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. His son Mark continues to publicize and distribute Rushdoony’s work through Chalcedon. We are grateful to Chalcedon for permission to publish this book serially, chapter by chapter. Visit Chalcedon’s website here.

Reverence for Life

One of the more prominent thinkers of this century, and a famous humanist, was Dr. Albert Schweitzer. By his own statements, Schweitzer was religiously not a Christian but a humanitarian. His basic religious principle was not Jesus Christ but reverence for life. For Schweitzer, reverence for life meant that all life is equally sacred and holy, and equally to be reverenced. The life of man and the life of a worm or a mosquito, the life of a saint and the life of the most depraved criminal, are equally sacred and equally to be revered. Any killing, even of plants and animals for food, is a guilty act of murder, so that man lives by guilt only. There can be no moral discrimination between men or between living things, because all equally represent life, and all life is sacred and holy. In varying degrees, this belief is widespread in our times. Many hold that capital punishment is murder, a crime against life, and that all warfare is murder and therefore totally to be condemned. Moreover, the new morality refuses to distinguish between moral and immoral acts in the Biblical sense: all acts are held to be moral which do no violence to life. Life is holy, and there can be no discrimination against any act which is an aspect of life.

People who hold to this faith are almost always pacifists, although some will justify the killing of fascistic enemies of humanity; they are against capital punishment, and they are against Christian morality because they claim it is restrictive of or hostile to life and the will to live.

Life on God’s Terms

To cope with this very prevalent faith, it is necessary to know the Biblical perspective thoroughly. The plain statement of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill.” The meaning of this commandment is that God as Creator is Lord over life and death: “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand” (Deut. 32:39). Life is the gift of God; it must therefore be lived on His terms and according to His law. Man cannot take life, including his own, according to his own wishes without being guilty of murder. In many states, our law still reflects the Christian belief that attempted suicide is attempted murder and a criminal offense. Our life is not our own: we can neither live nor die according to our will but only according to God’s will and word. As a result, the death sentence against murder is repeatedly pronounced in the Bible: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). “He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death” (Ex. 21:12). “The murderer shall surely be put to death” (Num. 35:16-18). Murder, thus, is one of the crimes that calls for capital punishment.

The Right to Kill Belongs to God

But, some have argued, how can the Bible logically ask us to impose death as a penalty when it also forbids us to kill? The answer is a simple one. The right to kill does not belong to man; it belongs to God as the author of life. Life can be taken, capital punishment imposed, only according to the law of God and under commission from Him. Repeatedly the Bible tells us, as for example, in Romans 13:1-6, that officers of state, civil government officials, are ministers of God. Just as the church represents a ministry of the word and of the sacraments, and of church discipline, so the state or civil government represents a ministry, the ministry of justice, the administration of law and order under God. Moreover, just as the officers or ministers of the church must believe in and be faithful to God, or else incur His wrath and judgment, so also must the officers or ministers of the state believe in and be faithful to God, or else incur His wrath and judgment.

Authority Like the Authority of a God

Because the officers of state exercise God’s power, that is, the ministry of justice, with the power and right to take life, they are spoken of by God as “elohim” in Psalm 82, that is, as gods. They are like gods in that they share in God’s authority over human life: to them is delegated the duty of killing men when men violate God’s laws. When they discharge this duty according to God’s word, their judgment is regarded as “judgments of God.” According to Deuteronomy 1:17, in its instructions to civil officers and judges, “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s.” If the judges and officers of civil government fail to keep God’s laws, if they pervert God’s justice, then, according to Psalm 82, although their authority is like the authority of a god, they “shall die like men” (Ps. 82:7). God Himself will bring judgment and capital punishment on a country that despises His law.
Capital Punishment Not an Option of the State

As a result, from the Christian perspective capital punishment is not an option of the state, not a matter where civil government has a choice. The state has an ironclad law, the law of God, which it must obey, because the execution of criminals who incur the death penalty is required of the state at the penalty of the state’s own life if it disobeys.
The rights of the criminal are protected by Biblical law. The legal principle that a man is innocent before the court until proven guilty is derived from the Bible. The same is true of the requirement of corroboration before a testimony is allowed to stand against a man. But the Bible makes clear that man proven guilty cannot be the object of pity. As Solomon summarized it, “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov. 28:4). Those who are full of pity for the guilty criminal are themselves men who have forsaken the law. Their pity for the criminal is itself a sign of depravity.

A few years ago, the father of a six-year-old girl who was brutally slain by a sex pervert, said, “I can’t blame the man as much as the society which produced him.” The criminal was clearly a degenerate man. But we must insist that this father himself was fearfully degenerate. This father was denying the doctrine of personal moral responsibility. He was turning the whole moral world upside down by calling the criminal the victim. He was despising God’s law in favor of various sociological excuses for criminality. Solomon expressed clearly the consequences of such moral delinquency: “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination” (Prov. 28:9).

The power to kill thus is God’s power; it must be exercised according to God’s law, and it is not man’s power but God’s power. This godly use of the power to kill is, according to the Bible, also involved in just warfare.

True Liberty is Under God’s Law

But this is only one side of the matter. The power to kill is under God’s law, and life and living are also under God’s law. Nowadays, it is popular to think of laws as a restraint on life, and this is an attitude widely encouraged by existentialist humanism. The free life is the life beyond law, beyond good and evil, we are told; it is emancipation from law and morality. Our historic American position, however, has been the Christian faith that true liberty is under law, God’s law. Godly wisdom, which means faith and obedience, is, according to Scripture “a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her” (Prov. 3:18; cf. 11:30). According to the Berkeley version of Psalm 19:7, “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul.” Instead of being a form of bondage, God’s law is for us the condition of life.

The Law of God, the Ground of Man’s Moral, Spiritual, and Physical Health
Let us analyze the meaning of this, God’s law as the condition of life. The condition of a fish’s life, its environment, is water; take a fish out of water, and it dies. The condition of a tree’s life, its health and its environment, is the soil; uproot a tree, and you kill it. It is no act of liberation to take a fish out of water, or a tree out of the ground. Similarly, the condition of a man’s life, the ground of man’s moral, spiritual, and physical health, is the law of God. To take men and societies out of the world of God’s law is to sentence them to a decline, fall, and death. Instead of liberation, it is execution. Man’s liberty is under God’s law, and God’s law is the life-giving air of man and society, the basic condition of their existence. When Moses summoned Israel to obey God’s law and to walk by faith, he said, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deut. 30:19). “Therefore choose life,” and choosing life means living in obedience to God’s law through faith in Jesus Christ, whose saving grace enables us to believe and obey.

“They That Hate Me Love Death”

Law is therefore the condition of man’s life because God is the creator of life and the sole ground of its continuation. God’s law is the essence of life and the terms of life. Those who tamper with God’s law, or who espouse any departure from it, instead of seeking freedom to live, as they claim, are in actuality seeking death. For a fish, “escape” from water is an escape from life; it is a will to death. Jesus Christ, speaking as Wisdom ages ago, declared, “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36). The hatred of God’s law is the hatred of life: it is the love of death.

Despising God’s Government is Presumption

True government is government according to God’s word, in terms of His law, as a ministry of justice. Those who despise government are, according to Moses (Num. 15:29-31) and St. Peter (2 Pet. 2:10), guilty of the sin of presumption. Presumption means taking for oneself authority and power for which one has no warrant or right. Whenever we set aside God’s laws concerning life and death, we are guilty of presumption. Presumption is the mark of an unbeliever. Presumption means that we have set ourselves in the place of God and have demanded that life and death be on our terms only.

The presumptuous humanists talk about reverence for life, but, instead of having any regard for the sanctity of life, their view of life is secular and profane. Life for them has no connection with God; it is simply a natural resource to exploit and re-shape to their own tastes. They are presumptuous, that is, self-willed; their universe is essentially their own ego and their own intellectual pride, their confidence that they represent the elite ruling class of the ages. Their presumption makes them not only contemptuous of God but of other men. We live in a day when the love of all men is insistently proclaimed in theory, and massive hatred of all men is practiced in fact. We hear much about equality from men who tell us they are our superiors and therefore know what is best for us. We hear calls for unity from men whose every action divides us. Presumptuous men, because they are self-willed, can bring only anarchy. Faith and obedience bring unity because they unite men in Christ, not in man’s will. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps. 127:1).

What Christian Voter Clubs Are About

posted Dec 7, 2016, 10:59 AM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 7, 2016, 11:26 PM ]

Nov 10, 2011 by Maynard Eyestone

“What Is Our Mission?” asks Rick Wood, Editor, in the September-October 2011 issue of Mission Frontiers (Pasadena, U. S. Center for World Mission). “There seems to be a great deal of confusion in the Church about what is and what is not the mission that God has given to us….Does God just want us to get people saved and bound for heaven, or does He care about our lives in this world as well?....


    “Based on the ministry strategies that have been employed over the last 100 years, it is fair to deduce that a major emphasis of our efforts in the Church has been to get as many people saved as possible and not to disciple new believers….[Prevailing] methods are centered upon ‘professional’ leaders delivering the gospel message and not on equipping all believers to carry out the work of ministry….

    “We have paid a terrible price by focusing so much on just getting people saved and not enough on making them disciples who can and should change the world.”


    The goal defined here applies equally to the Christian Liberty Party. We have exercised diligence in conducting introductory meetings and distributing membership recruitment letters, all aimed at maintaining and increasing the number of members. Now the challenge before us is to achieve more action aimed at bringing God’s standards to bear on our culture and our civil government.

     We are attempting to enlist our members in “voter clubs”–whose purposes include training the members for greater participation in the civic process.  Here is where we “equip believers to carry out the work of ministry.” This is where we “[make] disciples who can and should change the world.” It is through Christian Voter Clubs that we can best respond to the challenge that is before us.


    We have said very clearly, “our nation needs a Christian political party through which we can express our commitment to God-fearing and God-honoring policies in government. By joining, support us in this worthy cause.” “Join!” The focus of our appeal should be, “come and work; come and sacrifice; pray and discover what God would have you do in the civic arena; join one or more others who will hold each other accountable for the performance of those God-given assignments.

    We have drafted fine plans. It was vitally important that we state clearly the Scriptural principles on which laws should be based and by which government should operate; we have diligently attempted to do that. It was important that we express clearly our vision; we believe that with God’s help we have done that very well. And in our day the need is most urgent to state a platform that is totally consistent with God’s Word. The Lord has given us gifted theologians who are producing that platform. These things are foundational.


    Our fine organization is like a superior car.  Fine automobiles grow from fine plans. But fine automobiles do not fulfill their purpose when people buy them. They fulfill their purpose when people drive them—when people get in them and go!

    Driver’s Ed: that’s what Christian Voter Clubs are about. And we need thousands of them, if we are to see God’s people fulfilling God’s will in the civic arena.

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