Cynical questions are nothing new. In televised political debates, which are really political theater and showmanship without any reasoned discussion, we are used to hearing questions based on hypothetical scenarios with the intent being to make someone look foolish. This was often the tactic of Jesus’ critics.
A classic example of a cynical question was one posed by the Sadducees about resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33). It was a transparently insincere question because the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection. Moreover, their question posed an absurd hypothetical scenario, intended to force Jesus into an equally absurd position. The smug Sadducees were largely pragmatists who, while believing the written law, put little stock in miracles.
In response, Jesus addressed the real, not hypothetical, and confronted the problem of the Sadducees themselves, which was their cynical, rationalistic approach. They erred, He said, “not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.”
It was not just their misunderstanding of Scripture, their exegesis. More fundamental was their underestimation of God. By deemphasizing the supernatural, they necessarily had to put too much reliance on the natural, hence their rationalism. Sarcasm and cynicism both come from an arrogant mind, as so much of modern thought evidences.
It is easy to underestimate the power of God, just as we forget the power of “natural” forces. I recently saw the immediate aftermath of a flash flood in the desert after seeing the area just hours earlier. We tend to assume the future will proceed as the past and wrongly apply this error to the progress of the Kingdom of God. Those with a pessimistic eschatology will project the religious decline of recent years into the future. Even those with a vision of victory can presume the growth they believe in will be a very slow, gradual one.
Both perspectives ignore the power of God because they focus on a process rather than the power of God. To use a Biblical expression, they walk by sight, not by faith.
Evil will self-destruct, not triumph, and the Kingdom of God will fill the earth. We are not responsible for that victory, only for our own faithfulness to it. Therefore, we teach faithfulness, which only comes by obedience. The results and timing are in God’s all-powerful hands.
- Mark R. Rushdoony
Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.
He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.
In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at www.chalcedon.edu.
He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.
Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.