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First Line of Defense

Impotent men give impotent answers. Leave them alone and pass them by. God’s regenerating power and His law give man power, estate, and calling. To be a redeemed man and to have God’s law is to have the plan of conquest and dominion and the power to execute it.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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Chalcedon Report No. 121, September 1975

Communism does not need to defend itself militarily in the same way as do other forms of politics, because it is usually on both sides of every border. It is on the march in enemy territory as a militant faith. Its real strength is its religious appeal. However, as a false religion, unable to deliver on its promises, its defeat begins wherever it is victorious, in that a disillusioned people then must be kept in suppression by force. It is thus destined to become one of the biggest failures of the twentieth century.

Wherever a people rely on the military as their first line of defense, they are lost. Military strength is a necessity, but a reliance on it for security is a disaster. If men rely on the sword for their defense, our Lord made clear, they shall perish by the sword (Matt. 26:52), because “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

The first line of defense is a true and living faith. In the nineteenth century, when the United States had little military power except in wartime, U.S. power moved men all over the world, and America was the dream and ideal of millions. In those years, the U.S. peacetime army numbered from 200 to a maximum of 20,000 shortly before World War I, yet its influence made European and Asian autocracies afraid because of the “subversive” infiltration of American beliefs and practices. In every situation of need, American aid, not from the federal government but from the people, was a decisive factor in every area of the world. As against defense by military power, the American strength then was a strong offensive by means of a sense of Christian mission. Earlier, Christian Europe had commanded the world with that sense of mission and power, then America.

A primary reliance on military (or police) defense is the last resort of impotent men. Where men’s minds and passions see force as the essential answer, it means that faith, while professed, is lost. The cry of, “kill the (black, white, yellow, Communist, Fascist, or what-have-you) bastards,” is the mark of impotent men, with no sense of mission and no faith to command themselves or others.

When, a century ago, Sir Samuel Baker took his beautiful and protected bride into the heart of Africa to search for the sources of the Nile, his companions were all pagan and murderous Arabs and blacks who determined to rob and kill the Bakers at the first opportunity. They never did. Baker’s sublime sense of mission and command held them in awe. At the least sign of trouble, he lectured them like an earnest Sunday school teacher putting a disorderly class in its place. His aura of power was enough to command them.

Western man now has instead an aura of fear and of greed. He thinks of himself only, and his only mission is self-security. He wants to be left alone, to have privacy, his pleasures, and his own way. He cannot command himself, let alone a world. He can be in the majority in a country and still lose. Before he acts to defend anything, he asks himself, “Will they come after me if I lose?” When this is true, a man is already dead within, and already a prisoner.

The Puritans, as against the usurping power of the king, Charles I, made their standard, “The crown rights of King Jesus.” The Puritans at their maximum strength were 4 percent of England, but the crown rights of the monarchy fell before them. When they began to think more of the rights of their church and their interests than of Christ the King, the Puritans also failed.

The key, thus, is return to a sense of Christian mission and to a faithful application of God’s law to every area of life. St. Patrick’s greatness was that, in an age when the enemy was overrunning the land, St. Patrick overran the enemy. He set out to convert his enslavers and enemies, and he made of pagan Ireland one of the greatest Christian cultures the world has known and the great missionary force on the continent. More able men than St. Patrick failed because they hated and bewailed the savage enemy. St. Patrick converted and commanded them.

Impotent men give impotent answers. Leave them alone and pass them by. God’s regenerating power and His law give man power, estate, and calling. To be a redeemed man and to have God’s law is to have the plan of conquest and dominion and the power to execute it.

Remember, too, before you call yourself a Christian that God has no impotent sons. He has suffering and sometimes martyred sons, but never impotent, and ultimately always victorious sons.

There are hundreds of millions of peoples in Communist countries who hate Marxists and wish them dead: such people, impotent and self-destructive in their hatred, are easily cowed and controlled. The underground church is a far greater problem: it is busy trying to convert its oppressors, and often succeeding. The Communists realize that they have little to fear from hatred: it is too deeply grounded in fear to be other than impotent. It is Christian faith which is for them the menace. “Holy fools” are aggressive and confident, and everywhere at work.

Well, where do you stand in all of this? Have you made it your mission to fear and to hate? (We may hear from you then, an angry, hateful, and, of course, anonymous note!) Or is it your estate and calling to believe and obey the Lord, and to exercise dominion in His name?


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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