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Law & Government

posted Dec 7, 2016, 2:18 PM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 22, 2016, 7:37 PM ]

Jan 30, 2012 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 13, 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 Meaning of the Word Government

It is difficult nowadays to discuss government because the word government has radically changed its meaning. In my book, This Independent Republic, I pointed out that originally the word government was never applied in this country to the state. The world government meant, first of all, the self-government of the Christian man, the basic government in all history. Second, and very closely and almost inseparably linked with this, government meant the family. Every family is a government; it is man’s first church and first school, and also his first state. The government of the family by God’s appointed head, the man, is basic to society. Third, the church is a government, with laws and discipline. Fourth, the school is an important government in the life of a child. Fifth, business or vocations are an important area of government. Our work clearly governs us and we govern our work. Sixth, private associations, friendships, organizations, and the like act as a government over us, in that we submit to these social standards and we govern others by our social expectations. Seventh, the state is a form of government, and, originally, it was always called civil government in distinction from all these other forms of government.

But, tragically, today when we say government, we mean the state, the federal government, or some other form of civil government. And, more tragically, civil government today claims to be the government over man, not one government among many, but the one over-all government. Civil government claims jurisdiction over our private associations, our work or business, our schools and churches, our families, and over ourselves. The word government no longer means self-government primarily and essentially, it means the state.

But, originally, in our Christian American heritage, government did not mean the state. Some object that, while this was true in the colonial period, the picture changed after the War of Independence. The answer to that is to examine a textbook used in public high schools and in normal schools prior to World War I, Alex L. Peterman’s Elements of Civil Government. Peterman was principal and professor of civil government in the Normal School of the Kentucky State College and also a member of the Kentucky State Senate. Notice also that Peterman’s title speaks of civil government.

First, the Family

The preface stated, “This textbook begins ‘at home.’ The starting point is the family, the first form of government with which the child comes in contact.”[1]

According to Peterman, “The family … is a form of government, established for the good of the children themselves, and the first government that each of us must obey.”[2]

The first chapter of Peterman’s textbook was devoted to “The Family,” its purpose, members, rights, duties, officers, and responsibilities. It is interesting to see that Peterman wrote that “The office of a parent is a holy office, and requires wisdom for the proper discharge of its duties.”[3]

Five Areas of Civil Government

Peterman’s perspective on civil government was clearly one of a division of powers and federalism. He defined five areas of civil government: “the township or civil district, the village or the city, the county, the State, and the Untied States.”[4]

But, most important, as recently as World War I, civil government was a minor area of government in American life; now, civil government claims to be the overall government in man’s life. This claim is the essence of totalitarianism. From the self-government of the Christian man as the essence of government we have gone to the idea of the state as the totalitarian ruler over man.

Two Causes of the Shift: Subversion and Delinquency

When we raise the question, “How did this happen?” two answers are immediately available. First, we can say that we have been subverted by revolutionary and totalitarian groups, and, second, we can say that our own spiritual delinquency has led us into this sorry condition. Clearly, there is truth in the first answer. We have been the target of subversive activity in every area, and highly trained and skilled subversive agents have been at work in our midst for many years. However, there has never been a period in American history when subversives have not been active, nor has there ever been a civilization in all history without a challenge from hostile forces. The important fact to remember is that we will always be challenged by some kind of subversion; the real question is this: Do we have the spiritual health to resist the challenge? If we are spiritually and morally delinquent, we are easily subverted. In contrast to the millions of Americans, the subversive forces are numerically small, even if we estimate them in the millions. Our problem is not primarily what others are trying to do to us but what we have done to ourselves. The subversives are real and they are deadly, but they are helpless against a spiritually strong people.

Today, most Americans have lost their faith in Christ as Savior, and they expect civil government to be their savior. They have no desire for the responsibilities of self-government, and so they say to politicians, “Do thou rule over us.” Instead of Jesus Christ as their good shepherd, they elect politicians to be their shepherds on a program of socialistic security for all. Is it any wonder that we are subverted?

The First Pre-requisite of Free Civil Government

To have free civil government it is necessary first of all to have free men whose greatest desire is responsible self-government under God. Not many men are interested in this. A professor, who had left teaching soon after World War II, lectured to a group of students at a major Western university a few years ago on the decline of liberty. To his shock, one of the first questions asked by a student was simply this: “What’s so wonderful about liberty? What makes you think it is necessary for man?” For the students, security was a necessary social objective; liberty was not. Some years ago, Lin Yutang reported that, before he came to the United States, he thought of America in terms of Patrick Henry’s words, “Give me liberty or give me death.” When he came here, he found that the modern American creed seems to be “Give me security or give me death.” It is because we are refusing to govern ourselves under God and by God’s grace and word that we are being governed by the state. As William Penn and Benjamin Franklin long ago noted, men will either be governed by God, or they will be governed by tyrants. Americans are being subverted, and they have themselves to blame most of all for it.

Our breakdown is secondarily political; it is primarily spiritual. Our subversion is secondarily political; it is primarily spiritual.

The Government of God: The Basic Government, the Basic Essential

The basic government of the universe and of man is the government of God. Every person, family, institution, vocation, school, church, or state which is in rebellion against God’s government or bypasses His word and law is thereby in rebellion against its own health, against its own life. According to St. Paul, the law of God was ordained to life, or, as the Berkeley version translated it, the law “aimed to give life” (Rom. 7:10), but man’s sin has made it a death sentence. Jesus Christ, speaking as Wisdom, said long ago, “He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Prov. 8:36).

Wherever any government departs from God and His law it departs from health and ultimately from life. The government of God is basic to self-government, to the family, church, school, society, vocations, and to the state. It would be ridiculous for man to plan a life and a future in which air is abolished, because, obviously, man needs the air to breathe, to survive, to live; his life depends on it. Even more fundamentally, man’s life depends on the government of God; it is the essential for life in every sphere of existence.

No True Freedom Apart From Jesus Christ

Self-government presupposes freedom, and there can be no true freedom for man apart from Jesus Christ. Christ is our principle of liberty, the source and power of man’s deliverance from the slavery of sin and the penalty of death. Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). “[Y]e shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). This is the foundation of liberty and of true self-government. Apart from this foundation, Jesus Christ, our destiny is tyranny and slavery. In Jesus Christ alone is our liberty assured and true government possible.

[1] Alex L. Peterman, Elements of Civil Government (New York: American Book Company, 1891, 1903), 5.

[2] Ibid., 18.

[3] Ibid., 19.

[4] Ibid., 18.

Judging the Presidential Candidates

posted Dec 7, 2016, 2:00 PM by Paul McClintock

Jan 29, 2012 by Daniel Eby

Which candidate is qualified to be President?

Discerning the qualifications of candidates for civil office is an essential responsibility of any citizen who casts their vote. It has been said that people elect those most like themselves, that the leaders we elect for civil office are a reflection of the electorate. What a sobering reality! We certainly have not done well at this business of elections.

Even more, for the Christian citizen it is of paramount importance to elect those who meet the qualifications set forth in Scripture.

For far too long, Christians have followed the wisdom of the world by electing the “lesser of two evils” or the “the most electable candidate” or the candidate that seems to be “mostly conservative”.

Yet to understand what the Bible teaches about the qualifications for civil office, is just as important as churches selecting qualified leaders for their church, or a godly woman choosing a godly man to be her husband.

One example from the Bible that we can use in order to sift through the current batch of candidates for the office of the President of the United States is what the apostle James wrote in the third chapter of his epistle. While not the usual list of qualifications found in other areas of the Bible, it offers a real insight into what we should be looking for:

Is He a Man of Wisdom and Understanding?

“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him show out of a good conversation (or good life) his works with meekness of wisdom.” James 3:13 ESV

What a powerful combination James gives to us as the most important qualification for leaders: Wisdom and meekness.

It reminds us of what Paul says in his letter to the Romans: “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” Romans 12.3 ESV

Go ahead and start your checklist!

Which of the current candidates meets this two-part qualification? Which candidate has spent his life learning the wisdom and knowledge that begins with the fear of the Lord? Which candidate understands that it is not about him, but about the ideas of liberty, self-government and limited civil government that come from the wisdom that is above?

Is He a Man Not Driven by Selfish Ambition?

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” James 3:14-16 ESV

The Christian citizen is a step ahead of his non-Christian neighbor on this one. He understands the depth of his own sin and his desperate need of a Savior. The American Christian should be quickly able to discern the man who seeks office from primarily a selfish ambition because he knows the root of selfish ambition is a love of self above all else. What about you?

Our nation has reaped the whirlwind of the disorder and vile practices from electing leaders whose primary motivation is selfish ambition. From the selfish ambition of rewarding themselves or funneling millions of taxpayer dollars into private banks and corporations as payoffs to their supporters or from the selfish ambition to be a “king“, isn’t it about time we elect men who are filled with wisdom and the fear of God and not full of themselves?

Get your checklist out again! Who among the candidates, Republican or Democratic, are disqualified because of their selfish ambition?

Is He a Man who is a Peacemaker?

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18 ESV

…peaceable, open to reason, full of mercy, impartial! What a powerful list of qualifications! But that is what God’s Word tells us must be a prerequisite for those we would seek to be our leaders.

What a novel approach to civil justice in our country and for foreign policy around the world!

Get out that checklist one final time: Who among the candidates meets the Biblical qualification of peacemaker?

But don’t ask us to make election decisions for you! This is your job and it is a requirement that God gives to every Christian who reads his Bible. We hope you take your responsibility seriously!

Real Ideas from the Bible

Explicitly Christian Politics simply put is an idea that the Word of God has something to say about every area of life, including politics. Isn’t it about time that we gladly embrace what the Word of God has to say about Presidential politics?

Answers to Objections #11

posted Dec 7, 2016, 1:58 PM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 27, 2016, 12:11 PM ]

Jan 26, 2012 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 #11: “As a preacher, I should not teach about political issues.”

Our response to this all-too-common objection should be, “That’s very interesting. Could you show me a Scriptural basis for your statement?” The objector certainly won’t find it in any of the writings of the Apostle Paul, who told the elders at Ephesus, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

The Bible presents inerrant wisdom for how we should live. This includes principles to apply in our homes, churches, and workplaces, as well as in civil government. Praise God that Jesus has not left us on our own to figure out how best to live and govern ourselves!

In being faithful to preach the whole counsel of God, pastors not only instruct their congregations in all the facets of God’s Word, they may also be preparing future civil rulers. Who knows whether there may be a future mayor, governor, or even president in one of their pews! Professor John Eidsmoe writes, “The church’s role is to teach the principles of the Word of God as they apply to politics and every other field of life. It is then the responsibility of individual Christians within the church to take these principles and apply them to concrete situations in society” (Eidsmoe, John, Christ and Caesar, p. 59).

Law and Magic

posted Dec 7, 2016, 12:54 PM by Paul McClintock   [ updated Dec 27, 2016, 1:45 PM ]

Jan 23, 2012 by Rousas John Rushdoony

This article is from Law and Liberty, Chapter 12, 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 modern mind tends to dismiss magic as something that belongs to the primitive state of mankind and with no relation of any vital sort to our present-day world. The reality of the matter is that magic is basic to the modern mentality, to our politics and science, and we cannot understand our present-day world without a knowledge of what magic is.

What Is Magic?

It is therefore important to know what magic is. Magic is the attempt by man to gain control over the world of man, nature, and the supernatural. In magic, man attempts to become god over all things and to assert his power and control over all reality. According to Kurt Koch:

At the threshold of human history stands the command of God: Replenish the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). The task and right of man was the peaceful conquest of the earth’s powers in agreement with the will of God. In opposition to this command, Satan, the great master of confusion, made the arch-temptation: Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). The antithesis of the command of God is magic, hunger of knowledge and desire for power in opposition to the will of God. With this, young mankind found itself at the crossroads.[1]

The points are shifted: voluntary subordination under the will of God, or compulsion for knowledge and greed for power in rebellion against divine rules and barriers. Today these points are still shifted. Either we let ourselves be fit into the divine pattern of the way of salvation, or we carry on a rebellion and try to rule the powers of beings of creation in a monstrous rivalry with God. Therefore, magic is arch-rebellion from the beginning until today. It is the climax of man’s revolt against God. All talk about harmless forces of nature and neutral application is an outrage in the face of this Biblical fact.

It is thus obvious that magic is very much a part of our world today. Let us examine some areas in which magic appears.

Basic to Science

Magic is very basic to modern science. The Biblical purpose of science is that man should seek knowledge in order that he might exercise dominion over the earth under God. Science in this sense is a necessary activity and sphere of knowledge for Christian cultures. But science today bypasses God and seeks to gain power without restraint and seeks knowledge as a tool of total power. Increasingly, science functions, not under the law of God, but as the new law of creation, as the new source of law and power. Instead of being governed by morality, science seeks to govern morality and to remake it in terms of its own standards. The purposes of science can be summed up as prediction, planning, and control. Science is thus a basic and essential part of the new politics, because their goals coincide; they are both clearly totalitarian. A scientific world is a controlled world, a world of experimentation, and valid experiments require a control of all factors. As a result, scientific society is a planned society, a society in which there is no liberty, because liberty is not possible in a situation of scientific planning. As a result, the more our culture is dominated by this new science, apostate science, the more totalitarian it will become. Modern science not only rests on magic, it is a form of magic; it is the belief that all things can be potentially or ultimately controlled by man.

Magic and Politics

Our politics today is also governed by magic, by the faith that man can become his own god and remake the world to his heart’s desire. The techniques of magic are no longer crude and primitive; they have been refined and developed into a science. But the purposes of magic remain unchanged and today govern both science and politics. The political orders of our world have separated themselves from Christianity, because they feel no need for God. They feel no need for God because they plan to become the new gods of creation. They plan to abolish sin and guilt, poverty, disease, and hunger, even death itself, and create a new paradise on earth. The new politics is a politics of total control, and it therefore hates God, because God represents a roadblock to power. God is the enemy who must be destroyed so that man can become his own god. The Fabian Socialist leader and teacher, G. D. H. Cole stated that an objective of socialism is the “abolition of God.”[2]

The logic of scientific socialism requires this goal. If man is to be the total agent of control, then God cannot be, and God must be abolished. The new politics is therefore the politics of anti-Christianity. It is the politics of magic. And magic has always been an enemy of Biblical faith. The Bible forbids magic, because magic is by its total nature in enmity to God. In a variety of passages, magic is strictly forbidden (e.g., Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:10-11; Isa. 8:19; Micah 5:12; Mal. 3:5; Gal. 5:20; etc.). Its purpose, according to Scripture, is to divert people from God to man (Isa. 8:19).

Magic in Art

Another important area where magic prevails today is in art. T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, in his study, Mona Lisa’s Mustache: A Dissection of Modern Art, observed that “modern art is not modern at all. It is a revival of one of the oldest systems for getting power. It is a revival of magic.”[3]

The modern artists are totalitarians who despise man and liberty. As Robsjohn-Gibbings noted,

According to the futurists, “Man has no more significance than a stone.” We find Kandinsky, the leader of expressionism, writing haughtily of “the vulgar herd,” and “the mob,” we find the surrealists insisting on the “greatest possible obliteration of individuality,” and Picasso, the leader of cubism, calling for “a dictatorship of one painter.”[4]

To men such as these, art could be only a medium through which they would gain power over the fellow beings they consider so insignificant.

The modern magical artist hates above all to be moral, law-abiding, and meaningful; he belongs in his imagination to an elite group whose purpose is to smash the present order and remake it totally in terms of their own elitist plans. According to one artist’s manifesto, “The artist ‘should be understood as a contemporary magician … How are we to wield power; how are we to influence:’ and not ‘Are we scientists or poets?’ is the question to be posed … Seers, we are for the magic of life.”[5]

Modern art seeks to destroy God’s meaning, to obliterate it from man’s mind, so that man will no longer see God’s order in things but will relearn all things as taught by magical art. Its purpose thus is total brainwashing.

Magic and Education

Modern education is also dedicated to magic, to man’s total control of all reality and man’s remaking of all things in terms of human planning. State controlled schools have replaced religion with magic, and the goal of education today is the same as that of ancient magicians, the total control of all reality by man.

It is a serious error to treat magic as a relic of the past. The desire for magic is deeply imbedded in the heart of man. It is basic to his original sin. Satan’s temptation was “Ye shall be as gods, knowing [that is, determining, or establishing for yourself] good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Man, by his own will can become god; he is told by Satan that he can not only become his own god and remake all things according to his will but that his will is creative and determinative. What man wishes, that man can do. Every vagrant dream of man’s sinful and proud heart magic tells him is a possibility. And now modern science and the new politics, scientific socialism, tell man that they are about to make real this magical hope. The appeal of scientific socialism is the appeal of magic. It is the belief that man’s imagination rather than Almighty God is the ultimate governing and creating force in the universe.

A Collision Course

Every belief in magic is therefore firmly set on a collision course; collision with God’s purpose and judgment is inescapable. Because the science and politics of magic openly declare war against God and His government, they invite that collision, and they invite it in the confidence that they shall kill God and abolish Him. In their pride, they cannot tolerate the thought that there is a God over them. Friedrich Nietzsche, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra wrote: “But that I may reveal my heart entirely unto you, my friends: if there were Gods, how could I endure it to be no God! Therefore there are no Gods.”[6]

In other words, Nietzsche’s main objection to God was that he himself was not God; therefore, he declared there can be no God if I cannot be one. Having “abolished” God, Nietzsche proceeded to declare himself a god and also the creator of a new world, for “what would there be to create if there were—Gods!”[7]

The Conclusion

This is the mind and world of pure magic, and its conclusion, as in Nietzsche’s life, is madness and
some form of self-destruction.

We face, then, a conflict between two worlds of law, the law of God, versus the law of magic, of the new politics, science, and education, of humanism in its essence. Of the conclusion there can be no doubt. The Psalmist said of Christ the King, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth … Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Ps. 2:9, 12).

[1] Kurt E. Koch, Between Christ and Satan (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1961), 77.

[2] Rose L Martin, Fabian Freeway: High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A., 1884-1966. (Boston: Western Islands, 1966), 95.

[3] T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Mona Lisa’s Mustache: A Dissection of Modern Art (n.p.: Knopf, 1947), 13.

[4] Ibid., 15.

[5] Cited from T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, View, 175.

[6] Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part II, xxiv.

[7] Ibid.

Answers to Objections #10

posted Dec 7, 2016, 12:52 PM by Paul McClintock

Jan 22, 2012 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 #10: “I’ve seen how Moslems persecute non-Moslems in their countries and I don’t want a repeat of that in America, should Christians control civil government. I don’t want us to violate anyone’s liberty of conscience!”

This objection may take the prize for containing the most inaccuracies. First, it presupposes that all religions are at bottom the same, therefore it is imagined that since Moslems tyrannize the folks in their countries, so, too, would a Christian-influenced civil government. Those voicing this objection have obviously not compared the teaching of the Bible with other religions. If they had they would know that Christianity promotes (indeed, invents) personal liberty. A brief comparison of Western civilization (which was founded on biblical principles) with Eastern civilization should be enough to establish this point.

Second, in order for a Christian-influenced civil government to come into being, a majority of the citizens would have to be converted to Christ. Regeneration, not revolution, would be the driving force behind this development. Third, being a non-Christian would not be prohibited. Everyone would have the freedom to live according to his personal beliefs and to worship whatever god he might imagine. Unlike the tyrannical practices other religions impose upon their citizens, a Christian-influenced civil government would allow for personal beliefs and the private practice of non-Christian religions. It should be seen, then, that under a Christian-influenced civil government no one’s liberty of conscience would be violated.

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