It was the summer of 1995. I had been pastoring the Reformed Bible Church in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, since 1992. I had always been concerned about the culture and the church’s impact upon it, but was never able to crystallize my convictions as a result of the amillennial indoctrination I had been exposed to. By 1994, however, I had come to the realization that the position of amillennialism was flawed and postmillennialism was the only eschatology which was Biblically consistent. The more I studied the more convinced I became. That conviction began to mold all subsequent sermons.
In that summer of 1995, I had just completed a sermon, the details of which I have no recollection, and an older gentleman from our fairly large, but very theologically eclectic congregation, immediately approached me. Slapping me on my arm he said, “Now don’t you go getting Rushdoony on me!” I not only had no idea what he was talking about but I didn’t even know what a Rushdoony was. A new doctrine, a method of preaching, a protein drink? What was a Rushdoony? After a lengthy tongue-lashing by this man, I learned that Dr. R.J. Rushdoony was a modern theologian who held to the doctrine of postmillennialism. What infuriated this man was not so much the total and universal conquest of the Lord Jesus in time and in history, but the doctrine of theonomy and Rushdoony’s use of it. I also learned that Dr. Rushdoony had written several books on the topic. I immediately went out and bought as many as I could.
By 1995, I had already been exposed to theonomy by a dear friend who was not part of my congregation. Before that I had never heard the term. My friend asked me if I was a theonomist. Since I had never heard the word I told him I really didn’t know. What was theonomy? He then proceeded to ask me a series of questions related to the law of God and its application, and after I had answered them all, he informed me that I was, in fact, a theonomist. There is nothing like a label to put you in a notorious category, especially one which modern evangelicals, pietists, antinomians, and even some Reformed folks despise.
Dr. Rushdoony’s books changed the way I thought about everything by clarifying and solidifying what I only knew conceptually through my personal studies. I began with Rushdoony’s magnum opus, The Institutes of Biblical Law, volume 1 and volume 2. Volume 1 impressed upon me the value of the law and its application to every area and institution of life. Upon reading volume 2, I began to understand more thoroughly what pietism was and how it undermined both the church and the culture.
In addition to reading Rushdoony, I was also listening to Rushdoony via audio tapes. In one of the segments, the possibility of a Rushdoony University was discussed where individuals would learn how to apply the law of God for the reconstruction of the family, church, and state. While that never transpired, the idea was the inspiration to what is now our New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy.
Sadly, I never met Dr. Rushdoony face to face but I am blessed to know, and call my friends and co-laborers in the Kingdom work, Mark Rushdoony, Martin Selbrede and the staff at Chalcedon.
Topics: R. J. Rushdoony