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Twentieth-Century Plans of Salvation

By R. J. Rushdoony
October 01, 1999

Over the centuries, a variety of plans of salvation have governed men. The most common in antiquity has been salvation by politics, as in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The classic statement of this salvation was Plato’s Republic.

In the twentieth century, this plan was in full force, and its early prophet was Woodrow Wilson, with his dream of world salvation by means of a world state. Wilson’s work was the prelude to the greatest growth of imperialism.

Another twentieth-century plan of salvation has been education, statist humanistic education, and its prophet was John Dewey. Statist education, he believed, would remake man and create the true humanistic society. World peace and prosperity would prevail.

Other plans of salvation were also in evidence. After prophets Freud and Jung, men would be remade and would learn to live in peace with their sin. Wilson and Dewey hoped to overcome evil by their philosophies, whereas Freud and Jung saw redefining man and sin as the solution.

Other plans of salvation have also been in evidence. As the twenty-first century looms, all are clearly failures. They cannot intelligently nor morally define good or evil, nor successfully change men into a new creation.

The twenty-first century thus begins with a great challenge and a heritage of moral failure, a failure which time and history have not solved, but only magnified. There is no evidence of a resort to the Biblical solution. Salvation is not by human action but by God’s grace. Statist grace is, however, what man wants. Every session of a congress or parliament sees billions appropriated as the manifestation of statist grace. Grace is now essentially monetary, rather than religious.

Religions of state, school, money, or the like are proven failures and will be increasingly more so. The world rejects salvation in rejecting Christ.

We need to be speaking openly and freely about false plans of salvation if the twenty-first century is not to be a continuation of the twentieth century, an age of death and tyranny.

It is an error of the twentieth century to limit salvation to man’s soul. It means that and much, much more. It is the regeneration also of every area of life and thought by the power of God and the submission of all things to the Triune God and His law-word. The world has become catholic or universal in its claims while the church has become provincial. It is time for a change.


Topics: Philosophy, Statism, Christian Reconstruction

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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