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Precisionism

By R. J. Rushdoony
August 01, 1999

One of the marks of the twentieth century has been the insistence on precision. The modern era has required such a view. Computers, mechanization, and urban culture have required an adherence to the clock, to accuracy, to a mechanical precision, and more.

The reverse has been true in the world of ideas, and especially religion. Two movements and attitudes have marked the twentieth century where religion is concerned, Christianity in particular. The first has been agnosticism. Previously, the atheist openly professed his faith that there is no God. This, by the twentieth century, was superseded by the ostensibly more thoughtful position of agnosticism, meaning, in essence, "I do not know whether God exists, nor is it really possible to know." This supposedly more modest stand than open atheism in effect held that it is not possible to know; and it eliminated religion as an area or source of knowledge. By a show of modesty, it ruled out religion, Christianity in particular, as a source of knowledge, certainly not the source of knowledge.

The second perspective has been relativism. With this attitude, we cannot make moral judgments, nor can we determine what truth is. Relativism has been used to eliminate the Biblical doctrine of man as a sinner, as a fallen creature in need of salvation. It has been used to vindicate once forbidden sexual practices, to undermine God's law, and to create a society essentially open to lawlessness and godlessness while open to every evil. Its logical conclusion is that of the Marquis de Sade, that the only evil is the Biblical God and His law.

Popular culture today, its entertainment and religion, is based on agnosticism and relativism. Because of this, with each year it descends further into the abyss of a world whose foundation is the Fall, and its premise that every man is his own god and the determiner for himself of what is good and evil. Our education and politics are increasingly based on agnosticism and relativism. We are now far from Augustine and Calvin and very close to Wagner, Marx, and Darwin.

Our state schools are temples to agnosticism and relativism, as are our laws. We have adopted with Nietzsche a philosophy of death, and our culture is a dying one. We are increasingly disrupted by violence and by hatred and murder.

Sadly, the church has become widely infected by these influences. Precision in theology has given way to pietistic fuzziness, and truth to feeling. The pulpit gives voice to imprecision, and it replaces truth with feelings. Sound and precise preaching is condemned as having no heart, and emotional outbursts have replaced sound faith.

We need a return to sound theology and to an emphasis on understanding the Word of God. As of now, a life-long churchgoer is often as ignorant of the Bible as a novice in the Faith.

It is interesting to note that Calvin, a precise and clear thinker and writer, is commonly spoken of as "difficult" reading and too theological. Such judgments tell us more about the critic than about Calvin.

The church should surpass the world in the clarity and precision of its faith. This is what the Bible gives us, a clear and precise account of our faith. There is no excuse for fuzziness. The word "fuzzy" is not a synonym for faith.


Topics: Philosophy, Education, Church, The

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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