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The Dream of the Golden Age of Reason

By R. J. Rushdoony
January 08, 2022

[Excerpted from “The Dream of Reason,” Chalcedon Position Paper No. 13, June 1980, in An Informed Faith, vol. 3 (p. 950-955).]

The Platonic … ideal of a rational state has long been a dream of Western man. The French Revolution was a classic example of it: the revolutionaries debated as to what would be an ideal population for France, and then began to exterminate people to reduce France to the desired status. Unwanted peoples and classes were similarly executed. The Russian Revolution gives us the same ideal. From top to bottom, men are expendable at the altar of the ideal order. Classes are liquidated; Christianity is made the target of obliteration, and mass murders made a policy of state. … All things are to be destroyed, to make way for the “rational” and planned society. This same goal is very much with us. It is basic to the thinking of virtually every modern state. For this reason, the modern state is at total war with its peoples: they are its real enemies, who must be remade, and, if they refuse, destroyed in one way or another, economically, if not physically.

The means to the goal are twofold. The older version, as in the Soviet Union and Red China, holds to total terror as the main instrument in attaining the dream of the golden age of Reason. The more “advanced” humanists of the West have an improved version of the dream, … [T]his new model relies on the control of education, economics, and technology. In this dream, efficiency requires that the slaves of the philosopher-kings be educated to love their slavery and to regard it as freedom…

… If this sounds familiar to Americans, Canadians, and others, it is with good reason so. It is all a part of the same rationalistic dream of a scientifically planned order by philosopher-kings. These philosophers now have added science and behaviorism to their repertoire; they have moved from a rigidly planned to an existentially planning order, but their goal is the same.

Justice has now become, not the righteousness and law of God, but the law and interests of the modern and humanistic state… “Justice to them means upholding the interests of the State, not primarily guaranteeing fair play to the citizen.” This is increasingly true of every modern state.

This course of events should not surprise us. When men despise God’s law and its requirement of very severely limited civil and human powers, they will create their own dreams of order. If we deny God’s law, we will choose man’s law; if we deny God’s predestination or plan, we will substitute a man-made plan or decree of predestination. The dream of reason, a nightmare reality, will be with us as long as we deny God’s law and government.


Topics: Government, Humanism, Justice, Philosophy, Statism, Technology, World History

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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