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The Church

By R. J. Rushdoony
April 01, 1997

It is sad that Christians have forgotten the meaning of the word church in the New Testament. It translates ecclessia, an unusual word which meant then the town or ruling council or government for an area.

This means that the church was called into being to become in time the true ruling body for its given area. It was not to attain this position by means of revolution, nor by political activity, but by obedience to the law of God.

As a result, very early Paul called upon the church to create its own courts of law to adjudicate all problems by means of God's law word (1 Cor. 6). In terms of this law, Paul summons Christians to give generously to assist those in need. A variety of activities marked the early churchlaw, charity, education, health, and more. The church was an empire within the empire, providing government for a growing number of people. Worship was the energizing point: it sent out a people with marching orders for discipling all nations (Mt. 28:18-20).

Once again, the church is beginning to see itself in these terms. Christian Schools and home schooling are areas where the church has again resumed governing. More and more churches are assuming other duties: feeding the homeless, clothing the poor, going into other countries to care for the sick, the blind, and the needy, building shelters, and more.

The church is a kingdom whose monarch is the King, Jesus Christ. It has a plan for the peaceful conquest of all things, and for the regeneration of fallen men. Instead of hostility towards men and nations, we in Christ's name offer peace.

Those who counsel aggression, or who want to pass judgment on the nation to justify hostile actions, are wrong. Ours is the Prince of Peace, and we are called to serve Him, not to supplement or alter His strategy. When men set aside God's law or any part of His word, they then assume the right to use more "appropriate" means, and they thereby pervert the Faith. Neither the church, nor the Faith, nor the Bible are man's property, and man has no right to alter, subtract, or to add to what is God's, not his. As an instrument of God's government, the church must be faithful to its King. It has a mandate to obey, not to supplement, His word.


Topics: Biblical Law, Charity, Education, Justice, 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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