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A Review of Patrick J. Buchanan's The Great Betrayal, How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy

By R. J. Rushdoony
March 01, 1999

The Great Betrayal (Boston: Little, Brown, 1998) is a work of major importance by one of the finest minds on the current scene. What it has to say is of very great importance, both economically and politically. My purpose in this review is not to describe Buchanan's superb analysis but to point to its theological importance, one of major importance in our time.

It has become commonplace in this century to see free trade as basic to American and world economic advancement. Nothing could be further from the truth. Free trade is an economic concept with theological roots. Because God is the Creator of heaven and earth and all things therein, it follows therefore that basic to all meaning is the theological interpretation. Now the essential meaning of free trade is the essential goodness of men and nations, so that all things work naturally together for good, not by God's ordination, but by man's. Now it is true that economic protectionism is plainly affected by original sin, but it can have other objectives as well. Buchanan rightly points out that "global free trade" is at odds with early American thinking and is rooted in a secularism which is "a first cousin to Marxism" (174 f.). It is associated with a deep animosity towards our historic American views of church and state. Free trade represents a shift in man's worldviews "from a God-centered universe to a man-centered one" (201). Free trade also shifts the burden of taxes from trade to the citizen.

Clearly, ideas do have consequences, and free trade represents a world view alien to a Biblical one.

For men of the last century, like Richard Cobben, "free trade was the way, the truth, and the life" (189). Buchanan represents a Biblical perspective.

It is understandable why Buchanan's study is so important. It represents a return to Christian premises in the economic and political spheres, and to neglect Buchanan is to neglect our future. This is a book to read and circulate.


Topics: Economics, American 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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