Where Do We Stand?: A Wide Ranging Assessment

By Jean-Marc Berthoud
November 13, 2017
[Editor’s Introduction: The preeminent Reconstructionist thinker in Switzerland, Jean-Marc Berthoud, is with justice considered “the Swiss Rushdoony.” Chalcedon is planning a volume of Faith for All of Life that will focus on his contributions to the faith, to appear in early 2018.
Seeing America and American theology through the eyes of a European Christian can occasionally be jarring.  Berthoud approaches certain matters in ways that discerning American readers may not be used to. Berthoud is not in blind lockstep with Dr. R. J. Rushdoony on every single point (e.g., on usury, certain details of eschatology, etc.) and his promotion of theonomy is nuanced so as not to undermine the principle of the one and the many (in answer to the question, How do we get to a society governed by God’s law?). Berthoud realizes that the end doesn’t justify each and every means: the means must also be governed by the whole counsel of God, and chosen accordingly. By opening up these questions (against the backdrop of his formidable and wide-ranging research), Berthoud urges us to strive for better understanding and application of our faith. Some of his ideas may be controversial, inviting our readers to exercise wisdom and grace in grappling with them. Important ideas and thinkers need to be published, despite disagreement over details. Jean-Marc Berthoud’s ideas meet this criterion, a criterion put into action by Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, who counted Jean-Marc Berthoud as both a friend and a fellow warrior for Christ.]

Adam Smith (1723–1790), the father of all ungodly economics, was an apostate Enlightenment Scottish Presbyterian, a great friend of David Hume (1711–1776), that public atheist.1 By his theory of the “invisible hand” Adam Smith equated good and evil (Gen. 2:15–17). That is, he affirmed that in commercial transactions the fact that the action be good (honest) or evil (dishonest) would have no effect as to the economic profit obtained by society and for the actors participating in the market. To him, the destruction of society by evil actions was of no economic consequence.

All the economic actors, for Adam Smith, would naturally profit from this satanic confusion of good and evil. For the wealth of nations would grow as a consequence, not of God’s covenant blessings, but by a “scientific mechanism” called the “free market” neutering the consequences of good and evil actions.

Adam Smith thus replaced the covenantal moral providence of God by an automatic, purely amoral, mechanism. Likewise, in the biological sciences: the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ as the Creator, Ordainer, and Sustainer of all things—together with the Father and the Holy Spirit—was replaced by a mechanical, supposedly scientific, process called “evolution.” But this so-called evolution has no more existence in reality than Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” 

No Pure Water from an Impure Spring

Both Eugen Böhm von Bawerk (1851–1914) and Karl Marx (1818–1883) were disciples of David Ricardo (1772–1823) who, in turn, followed in the footsteps of Adam Smith. All these economists (as also Charles Darwin [1809–1882] in the field of biology) pretended that economics must be studied according to the methods of the reductive model, for all other disciplines, of the physical sciences. These sciences were constructed—as from Francis Bacon (1561–1626), René Descartes (1596–1650) and Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)—on the base of the exclusion, from the study of the universe, of God as final cause and of the Word of God (the Bible) as its formal cause.

This produced a “scientific” vision of a supposed cosmos deprived of God and without meaning. Charles Darwin did the same thing for biology; Adam Smith and his followers did likewise for economics. Pierre-Simon de Laplace (1749–1827) the well-known French physicist, was asked by Napoleon (1769–1821), “What place do you assign to God in your system?” “Sire,” replied Laplace, “I have no need for such a hypothesis.” Galileo was for his part very rightly condemned by Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542–1621) and by the Holy Office of the Roman Church, not for his audacious scientific hypotheses, but for affirming that in the field of the physical sciences, mathematics was superior to the Bible.

Economics, being the study of human action in the field of the production and exchange of goods, is a moral science accountable to God and to His immutable moral and creational laws. All these apostates—Galileo, Hume, Smith, Ricardo, Darwin, Bawerk, et al.—have excluded God from their vision of the order of His creation and the law of God from our universe, nature created, ordered and sustained by God! This is nothing else but Adam’s sin infinitely multiplied.

It is with regard to the order of the creation that Herman Dooyeweerd (1894–1977) and his Anglican disciple E. L. Hebden Taylor (1925–2006) have taught that there exists a created order for economics which is confirmed by the teaching of the law of God. 

Concerning Private Property, Usury, and the Market

This creational premise is the case, to take but a few examples (positive and negative), for private property, for the taking of interest on loans, and for the market. These are constituted within the scope of God’s created institutions, as is the case for a stable value base for money.

Money, as a means of exchange, is also a creational institution. But as we see all too clearly today, money needs a stable base for it to function in a nondestructive manner. When deprived of such a base (e.g., exchangeability for gold, or being underwritten by the appropriate valuation of the national economy), the credit available will only serve to increase the wealth of the very rich by the casino banditry of stock exchange speculation. It will also destroy the standard of living of the general population (the poor in particular) by producing inflation.

Consider the interdiction (prohibition) of exacting interest on loans of any kind by the Bible. The whole Christian tradition on this point up until the Renaissance (mirrored by much of ancient pagan thought) also bears the mark of the creational order: money in itself begets no money. This interdiction reflects the clear moral law, viz., that interest in every form is a form of banditry, and compounded interest can, in many cases, be equated with homicide.

The usage of private property, an institution as old as the family, must also be regulated by the creational order as well as by the moral norms of God’s law which, for example, makes it very difficult for men to accumulate landed wealth indefinitely. By the sabbatical regulations, for example, alienated land must be returned to its root family every Jubilee year, so that alienation of a family’s land cannot persist longer than fifty years or two generations.

In addition, private property is not, in itself, an absolute, for it includes certain wider obligations towards society, such as the right for the poor to glean after the harvest, or the elder son’s inheriting twice the share of his siblings, but with specific obligations. Among those obligations are caring for one’s parents and the necessary support for members of the family group in need of help. In this sense property is not only “private,” it also embodies a responsibility in respect to the rest of society.

The market is also a creational institution, making the distribution of wealth possible through the exchange of goods or through monetary payments. But it is by no means free of normative regulation and has thus also to be governed by the laws formulated in the Torah and throughout the Bible. The market must thus be regulated by Biblical laws forbidding, for example, the very entry into the market of destructive products such as those being trafficked by the drug trade, or by pornographic or pedophilic commercial rings. Products are also to be strictly regulated as to their quality, in particular foodstuffs and medicine. The freedom to enrich oneself by speculation (today’s near-universal casino mentality) must also be legally restrained. The quality of the money supply must be controlled so as to maintain its stable value. The falsifying of balances or of weights is considered by the Bible a serious crime, not only because it involves theft, but also because it falsifies the coinage whose value was originally defined by its weight, thus undermining the whole economy. The printing of money at liberty by national central banks is thus to be seen as a major criminal activity, as is also fractional reserve banking. Behind all such restraints is the natural and Biblical concept of legitimate increase, marked by the very nature of the biological world.

True Freedom Versus the False

Here the Biblical affirmation that “the truth will make you free” excludes the common belief that “the exercise of intellectual freedom will lead you to the truth.” On the contrary, the cult of freedom leads men to becoming the slaves of their passions and to the lies that such “free passions” inevitably engender.

On all such matters see E. L. Hebden Taylor’s remarkable study in economics from a creational and Biblical point of view: Economics, Money, and Banking.2

One must here add a reference to the work of Francis Nigel Lee (1934–2011) who in a major book, Communist Eschatology, carefully scrutinizes the modern revolutionary tradition in the light of God’s law-word.3

Finally, economics must not be seen in isolation from the larger needs of society as a whole. It cannot be contemplated only from a strictly economic point of view, e.g., of the greatest efficiency or maximum profit.

Wilhelm Röpke (1899–1966),4 the famous German economist who spent much of his adult life in Switzerland, recounts on this score the very interesting anecdote of a conversation he had with his colleague, Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973). Both taught at the famous Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations in Geneva, particularly during WWII.

One afternoon these two eminent economists were walking together on the outskirts of Geneva and came across some family vegetable gardens. Von Mises at once raised the question of the economic value of such a commercially unproductive activity, showing (with statistics in hand) how large-scale cultivation of garden products was far more productive.

Röpke objected vigorously: You have only considered (he told von Mises) the direct costs of production and of the prices relating to the production, marketing, and distribution of such goods. You have altogether ignored many hidden economic benefits and costs. Do you not understand the debilitating life led by most of these workers in the factories where they are bound to a humanly destructive form of repetitive industrialized slave labor? These gardens not only produce healthy food for the families of these workers but the very taking care of them has a manifestly stabilizing physical and psychological effect on these industrial workers. This effect has thus a positive impact on their health, preventing depression, illness, absenteeism, by thus compensating for the dreariness of their professional lives. Healthy workers considerably reduce the social costs in our complex societies. All this represents an important diminution in public expenditure. These important hidden costs and benefits are completely omitted by your strictly economic calculations.

Röpke doubted that he had managed to convince the great economist, paragon of the Austrian liberal school, not only concerning the beneficently humane character of these family gardens but also, with regard to the substantial economic gains and benefits they objectively implied for the society at large. 

The Need for Informed Biblical Application

It might interest the reader to know that I have (in French) more than one hundred-twenty digitally typed sermons on the Decalogue. The Ten Commandments are examined (1) through their legally contextualized explanations in the case laws of the Torah, (2) through the prudence of the wisdom literature as to its direct application in particular cases, (3) by its practical application in the teaching of the prophets and in the divine wisdom of Jesus Christ Himself and (4) through the moral doctrines of the Apostles. All this Biblical data is at long last being carefully applied to many of the realities of our present individual and social life.

The fundamental principle here is that of the creational covenant of God with Adam before the fall. This is the foundation for the whole development of the covenant throughout the Bible, culminating in its fulfillment in (1) the shedding of the blood of our Savior on the cross, (2) the coming of the Kingdom with His resurrection, ascension, session at the right hand of God and (3) His sending of the Holy Spirit, given to the church on the day of Pentecost, to mark the coming into its own of the Kingdom of God. This is the overriding theme of my book on Biblical theology, The Covenant of God through Holy Scripture—a Biblical Theology.5

Thus, central to the work of Reconstruction, as was pointed out by John Knox (1514–1572), is the fact that the central place must be given to Jesus Christ regarding any influence for good the church might have over society. This crucial fact was also recognized by Pierre Courthial (1914–2009) and by Rousas John Rushdoony (1916–2001). The law is perfectly fulfilled for us in Christ’s active and passive obedience, thus opening the way to our own obedience in Christ and through Christ to all of God’s commandments as they are to be understood in the light of all Scripture.

So, it is wrong for us to speak of a Christian vision of the world, or of a worldview, for a “world” under the authority of the evil one cannot, and will never, obey God. There is, however, a possibility of great blessing for the world through the faithful covenantal obedience of each local church to the whole law of God. This is also the teaching of that great Christian leader in the Netherlands, Klaas Schilder (1890–1952).

On the other hand, Rushdoony gave up on the church (to a degree) and insisted rather on the restoration of the Christian family (which was of vital importance) and on that other essential reality, Christian education, both in home and in confessional schools.

But here we must remember that the Bible teaches the central role of the church in the bringing in of the Kingdom. To achieve this mission, the church must return to its true catholicity (katholikos meaning “according to the whole”—see Pierre Courthial’s writings on this). Catholicity here refers to the whole of Scripture, law and gospel, together but not confused. This is very clear in the Book of the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ (i.e., Revelation) where the central role in the battle against that evil world which oppresses the whole creation (and for the coming of the Kingdom of God which liberates every aspect of creation from this oppression) lies with the faithfulness of the local church to the catholic rule of faith. The church must thus prove victorious in its application of the whole counsel of God’s law and His gospel, to its life and to its preaching. 

The Principle of Tota Scriptura

The church must thus return to the forgotten principle of tota Scriptura. This is what Revelation 19:10 means when it speaks of “the testimony of Jesus Christ which is the Spirit of prophecy.” This “spirit of prophecy” is the prophetic application of the law of God to the sins of the world, as we see wonderfully described symbolically in Revelation, chapters 10 and 11, particularly with the ministry of the two witnesses who represent the church as “pillar and support of the truth” throughout history.

For example, I have eighteen sermons (mostly an hour long) on the Eighth Commandment alone. Perhaps some zealous Christian could learn French and translate them into English! One of my aims in these studies, pursued with perseverance for over twelve years, is carefully to show how the law and the gospel, though distinct, are never opposed by Scripture one to the other. My intent is to differentiate (from the detailed witness of Scripture) what, in the whole law of God, is directly applicable to our present church age (the age of the coming of the Kingdom of God) and what was proper only to ethnic Israel (and thus only indirectly applicable to the church of Jesus Christ, e.g., the elements of the ceremonial law).

To take but one example from the judicial law, consider the interdiction (forbidding) of marriage outside the national boundaries of the nation of Israel. The purpose of this rule was to preserve the national identity of that nation until the fulfilment of the covenant in the coming of the Messiah, in His sacrifice on the cross, and in the preaching (by the faithful remnant of Israel, then the whole original church!) of the law and of the gospel to every nation. In this particular case, the transposition of the judicial law of Israel to the New Covenant teaches the interdiction of Christians to marry outside of the faith.

So, what we must do, and what I have attempted to do over all these years, was to show how the development of the law grows in its application in parallel to the development of the covenant itself, with the accomplishment of both culminating in the manifestation of the Messiah of Israel. That parallel growth embraces the total sovereignty of Christ over the nations manifested through the spiritual and practical ministry of His church, preaching both the law and the gospel throughout the world. Here I found the greatest help in Thomas Aquinas’s (1225–1274) Treatise on Law in his Summa Theologica, particularly in his wonderful treatment (hardly ever looked at!) of the “Old Law,” especially in its judicial aspects. 

How Truth Penetrates Language Barriers

A Christian lady in the United States, Rebekah A. Sheats, discovered Pierre Viret (1511–1571) through the enthusiasm of a visitor (Thomas Ertl of Zurich Publishing, who came to La Proue, the bookshop I used to manage in Lausanne). Rebekah decided to learn French, in the process becoming the best English-speaking expert on this wonderful French Swiss Reformer. She is now engaged in finishing the translation of what I consider to be perhaps the most enlightening commentary on the Decalogue ever penned in the history of the church. She has set up her own publishing house to edit and circulate, amongst other publications, her translation of Viret’s amazingly acute and accessible exposition of the Ten Commandments. You can find these volumes on God’s Ten Words—which should, God willing, be completed by the end of 2018—in beautifully precise and elegant English prose at Psalm 78 Ministries.6

Let me also mention Friedrich Julius Stahl (1802–1861) and his remarkable teaching on the law from a Biblical, historical, and judicial perspective. At the link to WordBridge Publications7 you will find what Ruben Alvarado has achieved in his wonderful work of translating and editing Stahl’s German writings on the law through his little publishing house, WordBridge.

Lancelot Andrewes (1555–1626), the chairman of the committee supervising the translation of the Authorized Version, wrote a very remarkable commentary on the Ten Commandments, this in the last decade of the sixteenth century: The Morall Law Expounded.8This book is of fundamental importance. I was able, many years ago, to acquire the original edition and it is truly a godsend that this book is now available as a cheap reprint. 

Islam, Apostasy, and the Paths to Monism and Syncretism

This brings us to another vital question, that of Islam. Islam is without doubt a manifestation of the antichrist, just as are apostate Kabbalistic Talmudic Judaism (that is without the Messiah and without the Bible) which is but one manifestation of men’s hatred for God and also the different forms of apostate Christianity, in particular that of the Roman Church, of Protestant Liberalism, of Israelophile and Zionist Dispensationalism, and of Illuminist subjective Charismaticism. This anti-Christian character of Islam, Judaism, and Rome was very clear to the minds of the sixteenth-century Reformers.

Apostasy always conflates the spiritual with the temporal power. This is indeed the case with the political and cultural (secularly religious) socio-democratic tyranny under which we live. This confusion is at the heart of any kind of totalitarianism, whether mild or violent. That is why the great French historian and sociologist, Jules Monnerot (1909–1995), in his studies on communism and socialism, Nazism and fascism, called these ideologies “lay religions” and compared them to the politico-religious monism of Islam.9

This very perception is also to be found in the writings of that great Italian political and philosophical thinker, Augusto Del Noce (1910–1989), in particular in The Crisis of Modernity posthumously published in Canada in 2015.10

So, we must be careful not to imitate the monism of Islam in our Reconstructionism, as is the case with much of worldly utopian messianism (zealots of every age), and is in particular that of those who call themselves Dominionists and yet forget the very nature of the Christian faith in their univocal and Pelagian (and thus non-spiritual, non-Christian) quest to apply the laws of the Kingdom of God (by direct carnal political means) to the present life of our societies. Dominionism is by no means the only Protestant movement seduced by the univocal and binary temptation of applying the Bible directly to public events. This is part of the heritage of Pierre de la Ramée’s (1515–1572) binary and univocal thinking which became so popular with the Puritans and was taken over by the Fundamentalist mindset, particularly in America.

It is clear that wherever the Bible, and in particular the law of God, affirms what we may call “proper dualist or binary oppositions,” such as good to evil, or truth to error, these commandments must be strictly followed. But this, however, does not mean that it is legitimate to undergird such clear-cut moral and noetic oppositions by an incorrect, univocal or equivocal, simplified philosophical framework, thereby affirming an absolute monism or an absolute dualism. 

The Biblical Answer to Monism and Dualism

We must not forget that the proper framework for true thought (in particular with regard to the order of creation, both Biblically and philosophically) is that of the accommodated (John Calvin [1509–1564] and Klaas Schilder), analogical (Thomas Aquinas) or condescending (Patristic and Eastern Orthodox)11 Biblical understanding of the trinitarian model, where the one and the many, the universal and the particular, are both equally ultimate. The one and the many are equally absolute and are in no way in opposition the one to the other (nor are they in any way confused), as both Cornelius Van Til (1895–1987) and Rousas Rushdoony so ably taught.12

Within the context of theological thought, this indicates that, though various realities are to be distinguished, the Old Testament (for example) is not opposed to the New, the church to the state, universals to particulars, grace to law, the divinity of Christ to His humanity, men to women, intellect to emotion, workers to employers, the body to the soul, matter to biological life and so forth. Each has its particular and differentiated role to play within the overarching order of creation. This application of the one and the many, of course, in no way negates the genuine opposition of good to evil, or truth to error!

Consider a contemporary example of the perils of such intellectual simplifications from an extraordinary exercise in univocal binary rationalist logic as publicly proclaimed by Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at First Baptist Church (Southern Baptists) in Dallas. Whatever the prudent political decision (or absence of decision) the particular public issue here in question might call for, his reasoning here is not only logically erroneous but extremely dangerous politically.

Texas megachurch Southern pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear13: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary—including war—to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
Jeffress said in a phone interview that he was prompted to make the statement after Trump said that if North Korea’s threats to the United States continue, Pyongyang will be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
The biblical passage, Romans 13, gives the government authority to deal with evildoers, Jeffress said. “That gives the government … the authority to do whatever, whether it’s assassination, capital punishment, or evil punishment to quell the actions of evildoers like Kim Jong Un,” he said.14

An additional remark: we must not forget the distinction between discernment and judgment. Only God judges men, and we must let His wrath work itself out in His good time and by His own means, whether directly or through the delegated authority of the magistrate appointed for that specific task within the limits of his particular jurisdiction. The second part of Romans 12 and the first of Romans 13 are complementary.

We must also remember, as Pierre Courthial noted, that there is a difference between the personal moral sense of the Christian and the morality required in the public place. The exercise of authority requires, to a high degree, a sense of the moral common good. It is not the simple extrapolation into the public sphere of the personal moral thinking of the Christian. Certain Christian groups confuse all these distinctions in their eschatological impatience and usurp the authority of the Lord Himself, taking His place as Judge. This is clearly the case here with Pastor Robert Jeffress. The apostle never recommended any radical political transformation of social structures for, as John Knox also understood full well, the Kingdom of God is the leaven in the dough and not the explosion of the dough itself!15

Any notion of the necessary respect for the detail of God’s law and for one’s proper sphere of political jurisdiction is totally lost in the above quotation concerning Jeffress. However we cannot, without great peril, bypass the Biblical mediations: (1) that of the created (including the political) order; (2) that of the Scriptures, law and gospel; (3) that, above all, of the Incarnation of Christ, without whom we can, in the eyes of His justice, do no good; (4) and, finally, that of the church, the power and life of its regenerate members and its truly Biblical teaching. By opting for a direct and immediate political univocal application of our misunderstanding of God’s law to society and to political problems, one abandons all these prudential mediations.

Such action, by its “direct” application of Biblical texts to political problems, bypasses the orderly, limited, and hierarchical covenantal nature of any exercise of authority in God’s dealings with society: a society either under judgment or under blessing from God. As John Knox so truly wrote (my summary) to the Queen regent of the Realm of Scotland: Without the mediation of the action of spiritually changed men, this by the divine regeneration effected by the Word and applied to them by the Holy Spirit, nothing effectual will be accomplished as regards the growth of the Kingdom of God on earth.

In other words, we must not, in any way, imitate Islamic fanatics, even if they appear before us in Reformed or Evangelical attire!!

But Knox (to keep to this example) did not hesitate, with great vigor and in a very practical way, to engage in the work of building up the Kingdom, using what remained of the Christian and feudal heritage of his native Scotland in the still healthy cultural foundations present in the society of his time.16

The End of Totalitarianism

Totalitarianism (in contradiction to the affirmations of the 451 A.D. Council of Chalcedon) is always a confusion of the temporal with the spiritual, the creational and the divine, as we see in the heretical mingling (or Nestorian separation!) of the two natures of Jesus Christ. That is why men like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot (and their present social-democratic counterparts) all worked towards the destruction of the institutions of the state so as to offer themselves the possibility of an absolutely free exercise of unlimited and unrestrained power.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer here makes the very useful distinction between the ultimate and the penultimate, a distinction you can also find in John Knox. Reforming the church (the only column and support of the truth) and establishing the Christian, both individually and as a family, in a sound faith under the authority of tota Scriptura, law and gospel: these were Knox’s primary tasks. The rest would naturally follow, Knox believed. It was important also, in his eyes, to respect the Christian and feudal heritage of Scotland’s past as it manifested itself historically in the permanent fruits of the truly Christian lives of innumerable medieval saints. But he had no time at all for those errors of the Roman Church which, he rightly believed, had to be rooted out, root and branch.

Christians, being faithful in every aspect of their lives to the law and to the gospel, would also, to some degree in Knox’s view, come to sanctify the society in which they lived by the constant exercise of Christian virtues. These concern the just character of mature Christians who obey God’s commandments more and more “naturally” as they grow in sanctification (2 Peter 1:3–11). They ultimately come out victorious over the world, by faith and in the manifestation of God’s strength in their human weakness. Such spiritual and practical victory has its effect on the invisible demonic evil powers above, whose influence over society is thus very much reduced.

But Knox was in no doubt that the victory in this valley of tears would always be that of faith and hope (not that of sight and constant immediate success) and that the battle would persist, against great odds, right to the end. Thus the Kingdom of God would grow cumulatively, both on earth and in Heaven, where new living stones would be continually added to the Heavenly Jerusalem. On earth the growing power of this evil world would, with every new generation, disappear into the oblivion of that sheol reserved for the damned, so as to bring, at the end of all things, the utter destruction of every evil, then having come to its point of culmination. The final coming of Christ with all His saints will utterly destroy the Dragon, the two beasts, sheol, and death itself, along with all those who have not received the seal of eternal life given to those who believe in Jesus Christ and obey the commandments of the Son of God.

We must, however, not exaggerate the separation of the church militant (now still on earth) and the church triumphant (already in Heaven). We participate of both in Christ, as the Book of Revelation so clearly shows.

The church is one, in heaven and on earth, and the prayers of the saints are those of the faithful, both in heaven and on earth (Revelation 6:9–11; 7:13–17; 8:1–6). Such righteous prayer moves the judging hand of God on earth today—for example, no doubt at this very moment, in the covenantal calamities which strike the tyrannical American republic so savagely and repeatedly! Such prayers, raised up to Heaven by the elect—praise be to the living God, God of both justice and mercy—have in the past also destroyed many evil empires. This intercession of the church, both in Heaven and on earth, addressed in the Spirit, through our divine intercessor Jesus Christ, to God our Father, will, in time, play its role, even to the bringing in of that ultimate judgment of a world that has become (like that of Noah’s time or the heyday of Sodom and Gomorrah) utterly evil, this with the amazing exception of the “camp of God’s saints” and of Christ’s “beloved city” now still on earth. 

1. Dennis C. Rasmussen, The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship that Shaped Modern Thought (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017).

2. E. L. Hebden Taylor, Economics, Money, and Banking (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1978); The Origin and Nature of Modern Capitalism (Dordt College: Christian Studies Center, 1975). I thank Didier Erne for reminding me of Hebden Taylor’s work in this field.

3. Francis Nigel Lee, Communist Eschatology. A Christian Philosophical Analysis of the Post-Capitalist Views of Marx, Engels and Lenin (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1974).

4. Wilhelm Röpke’s presently available writings in English can be found on Amazon.

5. Jean-Marc Berthoud, L’Alliance de Dieu à travers l’Écriture sainte. Une théologie biblique (Lausanne: L’Âge d’Homme, 2012).

6. Available at the following address: http://www.psalm78ministries.c...

7. WordBridge Publications

8. Lancelot Andrewes, The morall law expounded ... that is, the long-expected, and much-desired worke of Bishop Andrewes upon the Ten commandments: being his lectures many yeares since in Pembroch-Hall Chappell, in Cambridge

9. Jules Monnerot, Sociology and Psychology of Communism (Kansas City, MO: Beacon Press, 1960).

10. Augusto del Noce, The Crisis of Modernity (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015).

11. See the masterly study by William C. Placher, The Domestication of Transcendance. How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996).

12. See Cornelius Van Til, Christian Theory of Knowledge (Philadelphia, PA: Presyterian and Reformed, 1969) and Rousas John Rushdoony, The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, [1978] 2007).

13. A late echo of Descartes (and of Pierre de La Ramée, his French predecessor from Noyon, Calvin’s birthplace), “clear and distinct ideas” being here the decisive criterion of truth. Such “clear and distinct ideas” must, in this perspective, be necessarily true as they conform to the universal model of mathematics, however crazy and contrary to reality these “clear and distinct” ideas might well be. See my study on Pierre de la Ramée in the upcoming third volume of my Covenantal History of the Church in the World, which should one day, God willing, be available in other languages than in my native French. See also the refutation of Descartes’ errors by the great Reformed preacher and Christian martyr, Claude Brousson, Lettres, opuscules et œuvres diverses (Édité par Pierre Benoit et Jean-Marc Berthoud,, Genève, [1701] 2017), pp. 48-57.

14. “God Has Given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un,” President’s Evangelical Adviser Says. “Information Clearing House,” October 8, 2017. Updated from an article originally published in the Washington Post on August 9, 2017. http://www.informationclearing...

15. My thanks to Paul Wells for the gist of this paragraph.

16. See, in particular on John Knox, the beautiful study by Pierre Janton, John Knox (ca. 1513–1572) L’homme et l’œuvre (Paris: Didier, 1967), especially the chapter on “L’Église et la société,” pp. 287–358. This thesis has been revised and abridged in Pierre Janton, John Knox (v. 1513–1572). Réformateur écossais (Paris: Cerf, 2013).

In pages 165–205 of the revised edition, section entitled “Réforme et revolution,” Pierre Janton, taking into account (amongst other factors) the vehement nature of Knox’s style as well as the non-systematic character of most of his writings, gives a careful and nuanced historical appreciation of their so-called “revolutionary” and “misogynistic” character. The common “liberal” caricature of John Knox is an aspect of the modern legendary misreading of history. Pierre Janton writes with regard to Knox’s political and ethical thinking:

In a society where everyone’s role is defined by his immutable social status, all rupture of the established order brings about chaos, which is the image of divine anger. The harmony of the world as that of the couple, can only subsist where each member keeps his specific place. Man, like woman, can degenerate, that is abandon his specific gender; he, in this way, falls to a condition inferior to that of brute beasts when he becomes effeminate.

Janton, in a conciliatory note addressed to the “gender free” spirit his own time, adds:

“In this respect Knox does not escape the categories of his own time, which he considers to be drawn from the Bible read with the aid of the Fathers of the Church.”

Janton (2013), p. 191. See also, Lord Eustace Percy, John Knox (Edinburgh: James Clark, [1937] 2013), W. Stanford Reid, Trumpeter of God: A Biography of John Knox (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, [1974] 1982) and Jasper Ridley, John Knox (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968). See also the selective anthology of his political writings, John Knox, On Rebellion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, [1994] 1999). 

Topics: Biblical Commentary, Biblical Law, Economics, Government, Justice, Statism, Theology

Jean-Marc Berthoud

Jean-Marc Berthoud was born in 1939 in South Africa from Swiss missionary parents and lives in Lausanne, Switzerland. He holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts with Honors degrees from the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the editor of the review Résister et Construire, president of the Association Vaudoise de Parents chrétiens in Switzerland, and of the Association Création, Bible et Science, and is the author of numerous books.

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