Chalcedon Report No. 413, December 1999
In my student days at the university, I occasionally chatted with a professor of anthropology. He was interested in me because I was, in his opinion, so extremely “reactionary” and yet very well read. On one occasion, I was invited to have lunch with him and a few other scholars.
He asked me about my recent reading. I cited a book on one “native” culture, and told him of an amusing part of it. A trader, a widower, was asked if he found the native women, who were far from clean or appealing, at all attractive. His answer was that, when they began to look attractive, he knew that he had been there too long, and it was time to take a “furlough” to his country, Scotland.
The professor was furious over my account. He believed it wrong to assume one culture was better than another, or that cleanliness should be a universal virtue. For him, as a consistent unbeliever and an evolutionist, all cultures were equal. As a consistent man, he would not call dead cultures inferior to, or lower than, present ones. Also, the dinosaur was not inferior to the rat, which had survived when the dinosaur had not. Quite consistently, he held to no values, nor was life better than death.
Today that man’s faith is more prevalent, perhaps, as relativism becomes logically the faith of more unbelievers. Today, too, his faith is more and more in evidence among many.
For him, evolution produced the world as we know it, but it issued no standards or laws. Other unbelievers see evolution as progressive and “upward” in its progress. He, logically, did not.
Now, too many churchmen show signs of similar views or worse, since God is not even the Creator for them, and God has no law for us. They are on the road to relativism.
I recall a friend of my student years, and afterwards, who wanted no part of the first table of the law but strongly favored the retention of the second table. He wanted Biblical morality, but not Biblical theology. I challenged him to find a valid ground for this without God. After some effort, he admitted that he could not.
Unless God is both our Creator and Lawgiver, we cannot long retain Biblical morality, nor can we retain God as Savior. If evolution “created” me, I am responsible to evolution for my standards and behavior. If God created me, I am then responsible to God. Our Creator is our Lawgiver, our Redeemer, and our King.
There are two mutually exclusive worlds of thought here, that of Darwinism and that of God’s Word, the Bible. There can be no valid compromise between them. Over the generations, however, men in the church and out of it have been given to compromise. We have become a “mushy-headed” people.
Truly to believe in the Christian faith is to be uncompromising in our adherence to it. The Biblical emphasis on “every word” is a necessary and logical one. But too much of existing Christianity is riddled with compromise. The battle to avoid compromise was basic to St. Paul’s work in Corinth. The spirit of Paul is needed today.
Compromise is a rejection of God’s absolute authority over us. It makes us gods over God because we then in effect claim the wisdom to amend His Word. But we are His creatures, not His lords.
From time to time, I remember that professor, and I do so with appreciation for his consistency, but not for his faith. What we need is a consistently Biblical faith, not a compromising one.
- 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.