Random Notes, 74

By R. J. Rushdoony
November 01, 1997
  1. Since I was born in 1916, when I started school, Woodrow Wilson's crusade, World War I, the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution forbidding the sale and use of intoxicating beverages, and women's suffrage were all newly accomplished. All three rested on a religious premise, that original sin was a myth, and a changed environment could change man. One of two teachers, women, felt that the passing of Prohibition and women's suffrage would change the world, and the latter was seen as adding "a moral dimension" to politics. But women have proven to be, like men, fallen creatures, no less capable of sinning than men! Meanwhile, the same error, a refusal to see man as fallen, as a sinner, undergirds contemporary economic thinking. Neither free trade advocates nor protectionists recognize the obvious fact of man's depravity, and their thinking is thus faulty. Economic activity has always been a fertile ground for man's sin to express itself.
  2. In A.D. 389, Valestinian II, Theodosius, and Arcadius of Rome declared that Easter could not be a judicial date, nor could the seven days before and after the celebration of the resurrection be other than a holiday.
  3. During the reign of King James I of Britain, the court became the locale of his favorites, homosexuals. At the same time, female fashions were masculinized; their hair was "cut short or shorn," and their manners altered.
  4. At 81, having been a child in a rural area, I saw the horse and buggy age; now we have space exploration, at vast cost to taxpayers. The biggest change is, however, in another area, the intellectual one. We have re-paganized our world after the pattern of Charles Darwin. This means that we have gone from a God-created and God-governed world, one ruled by God's providence and a realm of total meaning, to a belief in a meaningless and blind world of change, a world of the fortuitous concourse of atoms. We have seen meaning and morality progressively denied to man and the universe. Why the surprise then at the growing barbarization of life? Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed, well over a century ago, that, if there is no God, all things (meaning all horrors) are possible. We are increasingly vindicating his insight. Now some people insist that all will be well, because "the pendulum will swing back." This is, however, simply an echo of the old pagan belief in the wheel of fortune, in eternal recurrence without meaning. The world around us is in the grips of a new and worse paganism, and only regeneration will alter its downward course. Expecting our present world to turn from its evil ways without Christ is like expecting graveyard inhabitants to breed children.
  5. Prudence Jones and Nigel Remick, in A History of Pagan Europe (1995, 1997), call attention to the fact that peoples of imperial Rome found the notion of sin "foreign." They also could not grasp the idea of heresy, or choice. They believed the choice of gods or goddesses was man's right. They preferred myth to history (myth being something of man's devising). Repentance was to them a strange idea. Being man-centered in their religions, they saw it as the duty of the gods to please man, not man the gods. Too much of our church religion, even when professing to believe in Christ, is pagan in that it wants a church and or doctrine to please men. Thus, we have "designer churches" and like abominations. One couple, on visiting such a church, were called on by a pastor. When they asked, what does this church believe in, the quick response was, "What do you want us to believe?"

    We are often told of Rome's "tolerance" of other religions. They were indeed very tolerant of any religion that did not challenge the states' sovereignty, which Christ did. Hence, the persecutions, the fundamental problem being, Who is the Lord? This is again the problem.
  6. Since my student days, I have read much of, and about, James Joyce and Ezra Pound, two anti-Christian men who worked to create a post-Christian culture. Pound was a leader in the secularization of the messianic hope; he wanted "to recover the gods, and he saw his work as a commedia agnostica." He was radically anti-Christian. His intense anti-Jewish stand is excused by too many scholars, perhaps because they approve of his anti-Christianity, which they rarely mention. Pound's talents were quite meager, his pomposity great. In another era, the praise of Pound and Joyce will be remembered as an aberration of our time.
  7. Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe, in New Religions as Global Cultures (1997), call attention to an important fact. The "new age" idea, and the "Age of Aquarius," go back to Swedenborg's works (p. 91). Much of the nineteenth century world, in its errors, had its source in Swedenborg. Research in his thinking has been minimal because it would drive someone out of his mind to spend too much time studying Swedenborg. At one time, as a student, I was tracing some Transcendentalist ideas, especially in Melville to Swedenborg, but I gave it up out of weariness!

Topics: American History, Culture , Theology, World 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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