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Culture Versus Faith

By R. J. Rushdoony
April 01, 2000

One of the problems of our times is the false faith in culture. To illustrate, I have known more than a few humanistic parents who have been horrified by the vicious delinquencies of their children. Given the "good" family background, home, and environment, how could their son or daughter be so "insanely" delinquent?

Their error is to assume that good character is inherited. They will cite the good character of grandparents and great-grandparents, the good environment and schooling, and they assume some freakish circumstance to be responsible. They are environmental, not Christian, in their analysis.

As Christians, we do not believe that we are the primary source of character in our children. God is. If we assume that we are, we are playing God. Character is a religious product. It can and must be supplemented by family, church, and school, but without the Lord it does not exist.

This means that public schools and many churches are off base. The reason more youth are not delinquent is, as one teenager confessed to a friend, "I don't have the guts to do what _______ is doing." His condition was cowardice, not character.

Education is important, but modern man too often substitutes education for Christ and the Faith. As a result, we see cultural decay on all sides.

Henry Van Til observed, "Culture is religion externalized." The common externalized religion is humanism.

As Christians, we do not believe that we are the primary source of character in our children. God is. If we assume that we are, we are playing God.

Today too many in the church expect the state school to provide character for their children, an illusory hope. Character comes from the faith, through the home and the church. Rearing children means far more than providing them with food, clothing, and shelter.

Chalcedon has done much to further strong families and Christian education. We do not believe that good character is an automatic product but a Christian one. We must apply our faith to child rearing and education. This is our calling.


Topics: Culture , Education

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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