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Against Spiritual People

One of the great heresies of our time is the emphasis on “being spiritual,” as though this means being Christian. Scripture calls us to be filled with the Holy Ghost, which is something very different.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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California Farmer 237:6 (Oct. 21, 1972), p. 8.

One of the great heresies of our time is the emphasis on “being spiritual,” as though this means being Christian. Scripture calls us to be filled with the Holy Ghost, which is something very different. It was a belief of Greek philosophy and religion that man should be spiritual rather than materialistic, and one of the objections of Greek philosophers to Biblical faith was that it was too materialistic.

There is no merit as such in being spiritual. The devil, after all, is entirely spiritual, but this does not make him godly. Over and over again, the command given in Scripture is “Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 20:7). To be holy, or to be sanctified, and to be spiritual are not necessarily the same. The Scriptures make clear that holiness means obedience from the heart to the law-word of God.

When St. Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:3–12, declares, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,” he then goes on to tell us some of the things which make for sanctification. We should abstain from fornication and be faithful to our marriage vows. We should be honest and avoid all fraudulent business dealings with our fellow believers and all men. We should not despise other people but be marked rather by brotherly love. Moreover, Paul said, ye should “study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”

Our attitude towards “them that are without,” that is, who are not in the church, should be one of strict honesty and integrity. In brief, St. Paul held, holiness means being a practical, self-supporting, law-abiding, and godly man. We are sanctified, not by emotionalism or by a façade of spirituality, but by being God-fearing, God-obeying, God-worshipping people.

Whenever men have placed a false emphasis on spirituality, the result has been a rise of occultism, Satanism, and mental disorders. Remember, Satan as a purely spiritual being is very happy to have people emphasize the spiritual rather than the holy, because he is then able to take advantage of them.

The glory of our faith is that it is so practical. It is concerned with the whole man, body and soul, and the way of sanctification is mindful of the whole man. Man’s whole being was involved in the Fall, not merely his body, and man’s whole being is redeemed by Christ, not merely his spirit. It is the whole man who is destined for the general resurrection and the new creation, and it is therefore to the whole man that all of Scripture speaks. The devil is more spiritual than any of us, but he is not holy. Our calling is to “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).


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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