Rushdoony the Philosopher and the Historian
For Such a Time as This
It is easy for those of us who have been graced with a knowledge and understanding of the law-word of God to forget how hell-bent and wrong-headed we were prior to receiving the gift of salvation. Depending how long we have walked the journey of faith and with it the sanctification that accompanies obedience, the walk of rebellion against God and our outright disobedience can become a distant memory. But we must recall what it was like to live apart from God because this is the greatest witness we have to those who need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ—our own testimony to God’s love and forgiveness.
Sadly, that is not always the case with those numbered among the faithful. Rather than have a heart for the lost and the mire of sin they wallow in, there is a tendency to place a focus on identifying their sinfulness, forgetting but for God’s grace we would all still be in the horrible quagmire of our own sin. By merely pointing out what is wrong with a particular worldview a person holds, many feel that they have completed their Great Commission calling. They have fallen into the trap of seeing only the distance that separates them from others, rather than view the bridge provided by Jesus Himself. Our calling is to understand the premises behind false worldviews and determine how to penetrate them with God’s Word of promise and truth.
When we succumb to what makes us different (the godly vs. the ungodly), rather than what we have in common (a joint need for the salvific work of Jesus), we play into societal forces that win by default if they can get opposing groups to fight against one another. Therefore, skin color becomes a dividing line, or gender, or economic level, or even an opposing religious belief. If we take our eyes off our primary task—seeking and furthering the Kingdom of God—we can become pawns in someone else’s game.
As far back as the mid-twentieth century, R. J. Rushdoony spoke about the collapse of humanism. Those who walked by sight rather than faith thought him to be deluded at best and demented at worst. What they did not perceive was that he looked at the world through the promises of God and the law of God, having full confidence in the veracity of what God said over what he saw with his own eyes. He correctly concluded,
The death of an age is a bloody business. Men, disillusioned with the promises of their faith, yet unwilling to surrender them, strike out at everything in rage and in frustration. Like a rudderless ship, the civilization loses its direction and is driven by events instead of driving through them. Today, in the last days of humanism, as men steadily destroy their world, it is important for us to understand the meaning of the times and act in terms of that knowledge. The humanists in their blindness celebrate “the death of God” when it is, in fact, the death of humanism and their own funeral they are racing to in their heedless course.1
Those who were raised and educated with the false hopes of humanism, continue to experience dissonance between the promises made to them by public school teachers, media superstars, and politicians, and the abysmal realities of modern culture. As Rushdoony points out, we must approach those outside the covenant personally convinced of their progressive march toward suicide, so we can effectively be change agents in the culture.
Man without God ends up as man without man, unable and unwilling to live at peace with anyone, and unable to live at peace with himself. The existentialist Sartre has stated the modern mood bluntly: “Hell is other people.” If every man is his own god, knowing or determining for himself what constitutes good and evil, then every man is at war with any limitation upon himself imposed by other men or by a state. Hell then is logically “other people,” and the humanistic faith in man as his own god becomes history’s major impulse towards suicide. The Satanic temptation (Genesis 3:5) thus becomes the counsel of death to men and nations.2
As we seek to fulfill our callings in and under Christ, we need to do more than identify where others are wrong and point that out to them. We need to become skilled at recognizing the chinks in their armor, realizing that as ambassadors for Jesus we are in a unique position to show them the way out of their dilemma, be it personal, familial, or societal. This is possible only when we have a working knowledge of God’s law and can apply it to every area of life and thought.
I recall being in a Sunday school class once where one participant made the statement that there were some people who didn’t have real problems or sins in their lives so it was difficult to witness to them. He was eager to learn how to present Jesus as an added benefit to those who already lived a good life. He revealed that, while he might say otherwise, he believed that the road was not narrow that led to eternal life with Christ.
Until you understand health, it is very difficult to diagnose illness. Until you are convinced that those who live by humanistic premises have no hope except in Christ, your ability to effectively witness will be hampered. Until you can identify the cosmetic hypocrisy of humanism, continuing to be fooled by its charade, you will not be able to penetrate the prison where the unsaved reside. What’s more, you will not have a clear idea as to where to place your efforts.
Humanism is dying, if not dead. Living with a corpse is no pleasant matter. It does not require documentation to tell us that a corpse is far gone. The answer to our problem lies elsewhere, not in documentation on death, but in reconstruction for life.
Humanism is dead, but the triune God lives and rules, sovereign over all. There must be reconstruction, godly reconstruction. Let the dead bury the dead. The living have work to do. All things shall be made new; new schools, new social orders, new institutions, renewed family life, in every area the principle of godly reconstruction must be applied.3
It’s Not Where They Are, But Where They’re Headed
We must go beyond identifying anti-Biblical thinking and wicked practices; we must be ready to apply Biblical faith to overturn their influence and results. We need to make it a priority to penetrate the false armor of the unsaved and demonstrate the godly alternatives. Not all will respond well; but some will—especially those who have received the full dose of humanism and reaped its consequences. They know their worldview has betrayed them; we need to show that the answers of humanism are empty.
Therefore, we must not automatically turn away if their bodies are pierced, or tattooed, or if their hair color comes from a can of paint. We must not allow ourselves merely to be repulsed by their choice of words (vulgar, profane, or blasphemous) unless we also find a way to present the truth of the Scriptures. After all, you have to get up close and personal if you want to make a difference in someone’s life. You have to be able to look people in the eye and demonstrate that their eternal life matters to you.
As Jesus instructed His followers in Matthew 10:6–8, 11–14:
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, enquire who in it is worthy; and there abide till ye go thence. And when ye come into an house, salute it.
And if the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it: but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
It is not where you find people; it is where they are headed. Instead of negatively reacting to the amount of make-up, the lack of modesty, or other behaviors that cloak despair and guilt, seek to identify whether this is a person who “receives” you. You may be surprised at how quickly one who is marked by the Holy Spirit responds to words and interactions presented with care and concern.
Some Good Examples
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield is a former feminist and lesbian, who by the honest care and concern of a pastor and his wife, came to recognize her need for Jesus as Savior. She chronicled her journey from enemy of God to a Reformed Christian, minister’s wife, and a homeschooling mom in her two books.4 Her salvation was accomplished as caring Christians looked past her obvious sins, and focused on the hunger and thirst they perceived in her spirit. Instead of merely chronicling her errors, they engaged her in conversation, meant to help her see for herself the utter futility of warring with God.
As I have written about elsewhere,5 once while at a homeschool convention I learned a valuable lesson as I made some judgments about a woman whose body was covered with tattoos. Assuming that she would not be able to relate to my message, I was humbled by the fact that she was extremely hungry and thirsty for truth when it came to teaching her children Biblical truth. Had I merely relied on my first impression, I would have missed a valuable opportunity God had placed right before me.
Going on the Offensive
How many of us miss such opportunities day-in and day-out? Are we ready to engage our neighbors, coworkers, employers, and people in the community? The next time you are in a public place, be it standing in a line in the grocery store, the bank, or just waiting to be seen at a doctor’s office, look around you and ask yourself, Which of these people does not need Jesus? If you understand the plight of man apart from Christ, you already know your answer. Be willing to go on the offensive, certain that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Body of Christ. Be willing to be contagious in your conviction that all need to hear the good news of Jesus, and that God has placed you here for such a time as this!
1. http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/death-of-an-age-and-its-faith/ Taken from Roots of Reconstruction ( Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991), p. 697; Chalcedon Report No. 56).
4. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith andOpenness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.
5. Andrea Schwartz, A House for God: Building a Kingdom Driven Family (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2014), p. 26.
Andrea Schwartz has been active as a home educator since 1983. She successfully educated her three children through high school. She has written five books Lessons Learned from Years of Homeschooling, The Homeschool Life, The Biblical Trustee Family, Woman of the House, & A House for God. She also has written two children's books for families to read together: Teach Me While My Heart is Tender: Real-Aloud Stories of Repentance and Forgiveness and Family Matters: Read-Aloud Stories of Responsibility and Self-Discipline. Her website www.KingdomDrivenFamily.com is a useful site for homeschooling families, and she is a regular contributor to the Chalcedon publication, Faith for All of Life. Andrea runs the Chalcedon Teacher Training Institute, a mentoring/study program designed to help homeschooling mothers become the best teachers for their children. She is a sought after public speaking and writing instructor, as well as a guest speaker for Christian schools, homeschooling support groups, and introductory seminars on homeschooling. She resides in San Jose, CA with her husband of 40 years. She can be contacted @ Andrea@chalcedon.edu.