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Breakdown and Renewal

There can be no good character in civil government if there is none in the people.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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California Farmer 267:7 (Nov. 7, 1987), p. 41.

Forrest McDonald, one of the most prominent historians of American history and the U.S. Constitution, is the author of A Constitutional History of the United States. His last chapter is entitled “Breakdown” and is grim reading. The federal government has become so big and unwieldy, he declares that it has “all but lost the ability to function.” By the 1980s, the United States had lost its ability to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the people; it could not establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, or promote the general welfare.

Behind this failure stands the greater failure, that of the American people. Their character has changed from Christian to pagan. There can be no good character in civil government if there is none in the people. You cannot make a good omelet with bad eggs.

Since the 1950s, missionaries coming home on furlough after six years abroad have been shocked by the change in the country during their absence. One missionary told me he felt like a foreigner in his own hometown. What shocked him most was the indifference of many churches to the growing paganism all around them.

In 1988, the United States will have another election year. No matter who wins the presidency and other offices, nothing much will change until the people change. No election as such can give us freedom. Only if God the Son makes us free are we free indeed (John 8:36).


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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