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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).

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