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Fatherhood

By R. J. Rushdoony
June 01, 1999

Andrew Sandlin has asked that I write about my father's influence on my life and faith. This is not easy to do, since his formative power was more than I can summarize.

Both my father and mother influenced me profoundly. I was closer to my mother but more taught by my father. Both all their lives read their Bibles daily. After his blindness, my father recited it from memory. My mother's faith was simple and uncomplicated. My father's was complex. In Armenian, he was a simple, trusting believer in the whole Word of God. In English, he showed the influence of his education at the University of Edinburgh and New Mound College, and he reflected the British systematic theology; he more or less took modernist views of the Bible on a tentative basis. But, as an Armenian, he held to the Faith of his fathers. When we argued, he always ended up by commending my strong Calvinism and unreserved faith.

I cannot begin to delineate his influence on me. Before my birth, he dedicated me to the Lord and His ministry. I was told this very early, and though at times I rebelled against the idea, most of the time I felt honored and privileged.

My father told me, well before my teens, when I was already an omnivorous Bible reader, that there was much in the Bible I would not understand, but to believe and obey was my primary responsibility.

My father and I would often take long walks together, especially in the evenings, and these were times of informal teaching. My first ambition was to be a farmer, having even then a love of the country, and then an astronomer, for my father taught me to love and know the stars. Above all, he taught me that to serve God is man's highest privilege and calling, something I strongly still believe. If the Bible is true, no king or emperor has ever had a calling to rival that of God's servants.

Both my parents taught me to love reading. They read to us or bought books for us, something I have done for my children and grandchildren. I enjoyed talking with them and discussing things with them to the last.

The family was important to them, personally and religiously. My father laid down the law that, when we were apart for any reason, a weekly card or letter was a duty, one I honored faithfully, I think.

Very early, I was troubled and distressed by the lax and disrespectful attitude of American children toward their parents, and I found it as painful to hear as foul or obscene language. I saw it as immoral and religiously wrong. I loved my parents, and, even now after many years, I miss them, and I look forward to seeing them in heaven.

My father knew the Bible by heart, both in English and Armenian, as some of us, including my eldest daughter, Rebecca, can testify. It was a wonderful sound to hear him in his blindness as he walked around joyfully reciting the Bible, even to the many chapters of "begats." It was there that his faith shone through most clearly and joyfully. And it was a joyful faith. It saw him through orphaned years, the massacres and the loss of his firstborn, Rousas George, through the death march, and hard years of work, and finally blindness. He was a happy man because he knew his Lord, and the truth of His Word.


Topics: Education, Family & Marriage, R. J. Rushdoony

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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