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Confession or Curse

A prevalent heresy of the modern age is the belief that, outside of the walls of the church, our lives shift into neutral. Worship and the church are reduced to one realm among many, and each area of life is a separate universe.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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Reprinted from Cure of Souls: Recovering the Biblical Doctrine of Confession

A prevalent heresy of the modern age is the belief that, outside of the walls of the church, our lives shift into neutral. Worship and the church are reduced to one realm among many, and each area of life is a separate universe. The logical conclusion to all that was made by President Clark Keer of the University of California in calling for the recognition of multiverses instead of universes, and the multiversity to replace the university.

This perspective, a return to pagan polytheism, with its many multiverses, developed rapidly after the Darwinian mythology spread throughout the world. It prompted the revival of many false religions and beliefs. A British rock performer, Freddy Mercury, died of AIDS in November 1991. He had previously declared himself a Zoroastrian. This dualistic faith has long been an undercurrent, taking many forms, in Europe and elsewhere. Its fundamental belief is that two equal gods or life-forces exist, the one calling itself good, and the other bad. Both are equal powers or forces; both have equal validity. If rape, incest, sodomy, abortion, euthanasia, murder, and theft are your "thing" or taste, then your lifestyle has equal validity with the Christian way of life. In fact, because the Christian is "intolerant" of your lifestyle, you are probably morally superior and are the enlightened one.

Not all men are as open as the homosexual Mercury in their beliefs, nor as self-conscious. This perspective, however, is very prevalent. In its milder forms, its thesis is that all consensual acts between adults are morally valid; they are simply doing "their own thing." To criticize them is to transgress the "inviolability" of a freely chosen lifestyle and a religious way of life.

Now, given the prevalence of such thinking and acting, it should not surprise us that it has infiltrated the churches, Protestant and Catholic, both clergy and laity. Confession then becomes an empty form.

The British edition of Vanity Fair, December 1991, carried a long report on "Unholy Alliances," by Leslie Bennett. There is an extensive history now of pedophilia in the priesthood. Instead of a housecleaning, there have been payouts to hush up offenses, and even a promotion into a tenured college professorship for one priest with a history of offenses. In the United States, two televangelists have been exposed for their sexual sins, and many pastors go unexposed. The problem is there. No endless catalog of offenses by laymen and laywomen, by priests and by pastors, will provide an answer to the problem. Many charges are made, too often true, about one group or another. Sexual harassment and molestation of women has obviously increased, and of children also, but sexual molestation of men and children by women has also increased. The problems are all around us.

Some vague "confessions" are made when public exposure or criticism reaches a high level, as with a U.S. senator recently. What seems clearly to be lacking is the day by day confession of sins, and such confession means repentance and restitution.

In Luke 19:1-10, we read of Zacchaeus (the Greek form of Zaccai, cf. Ezra 2:9) that, on his conversion, declared:

8. Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
9. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.
10. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:8-10)

Our Lord declares Zacchaeus to be a true son of Abraham, an heir of the Kingdom because of his faith. As Joseph McAuliffe has pointed out, Jesus did not say, "Forget it, Zacchaeus, I know You believe, and that you have a good heart." Rather, he commended Zacchaeus, who met the requirements of the law, which are the requirements of faith. First, Zacchaeus repented; to repent means to reverse the direction of one's life, faith, and action. True repentance is not simply a matter of words. Second, having repented, he confessed his sins. His sins had been public, and so too was his confession. Third, he declared that he would make full restitution and more. Zacchaeus had moved from a world of self-determination to a world of total accountability under God.

This is why the alternative to confession is the curse of God. Humanistic man is much given to cursing. The words, "God damn you," come readily to his lips, but not their meaning, nor the fact that he may truly be accursed by God.

Blessings and curses by God are not merely verbal expressions: they are legal decrees. We can not only be accursed, but we can be made a curse by God (Num. 5:21). The Lord God pronounces us accursed if we violate His law, refuse to submit to Him or believe in Him, or if we become a walking anti-law.

The curse, like the blessing, can also be a prayer in the mouth of man. We must ask God to bless those who serve Him and His Kingdom, and we must ask His curse and judgment on the highhanded and arrogant sinner, on men to whom authority is given and who violate it, and on the enemies of His Kingdom.

In Ezekiel 39:11-24, God pronounces a fearful curse on covenant-breaking Jerusalem and its King. Where their covenant oath has been despised and broken, there God will despise and break them. This gives us the pattern of God's way with us. If we despise His covenant, His Son who established it in His own blood, and the law of the covenant, He will despise us and break us.

Every covenant involves blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. We see God's curses on covenant violations set forth extensively in two passages, Leviticus 26:14-43, and Deuteronomy 28:15-68.

A curse presupposes an ultimate power and authority over us who is the ultimate and legitimate Judge over us, God our Creator. It is closely related to the death sentence (Deut. 21:22-23). It is also essentially related to God's law. Paul declares, in Galatians 3:10-14,

10. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.
11. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The law is not set aside by Christ's atonement but simply the curse of the law, its death penalty. If, however, our lives reveal no true faith nor repentance, and we despise God's law, we are given a very grim warning:

26. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Heb. 10:26-27)

Our failure with respect to Jesus Christ makes us accursed. Thus, Paul tells us,

If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. (1 Cor. 16:22)
8. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that he have received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:8-9)

This issue is clear. Either we, by confession and restitution, remain in God's grace, or we, by assuming our freedom to live our lives by our private gospel of independence from God, end, thereby, lacking a true confession of sin or of faith, and we pass under God's curse.

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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