Law and Magic

Post date: Dec 07, 2016 8:54:34 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.