An Interview with Mark Rushdoony
Some might ask, “Why does God allow this ebb and flow in history where a Biblical faith prevails, but then statism prevails?”
Yes, it’s a little discouraging, but we have examples of that in the history of the Hebrews. The Old Testament has encouraging and wonderful stories, such as those commonly taught in Sunday School lessons about God’s people standing in terms of His truth, but it also has a lot about the increasing apostasy of the people that took place over centuries. By the time of the fall of Jerusalem, the Hebrew people were thoroughly apostate; they were worshipping Baal. This was a vulgar fertility cult, and they never repudiated Jehovah; they just kept him as a lesser deity Who was influential in their past.
One of the interesting things in Biblical and Christian history is that very few individuals, or even movements, can be credited with advancing the Kingdom of God, yet the Kingdom of God has grown. There’s growth, there’s retreat, there’s compromise, there’s the death of this movement or this individual, and there’s a dynamic elsewhere. I’ve always thought that was interesting because the great men of Christian history took a stand theologically on an issue, pointed men back to the Bible, or pointed out a particular evil that the church had to take a stand against. Still, you can’t name a single individual that has been the cause that Christianity has progressed at any point in history.
So Christ is moving His church forward, but we’re also learning the hard way that sin doesn’t work, just like Adam and Eve learned very quickly that sin wouldn’t be to their advantage. They very early saw the issue between Cain and Abel, and then they saw there was increasing degeneracy until the time of Noah, and God did a mighty work. But this is the way it’s been throughout history. So there is no man, no nation, no movement in history that can be given real credit for the continuity of the Kingdom of God. It’s the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. So we’re just muddling through, making mistake after mistake, and you see that in a microcosm on Facebook. Consider that most fundamental doctrines are now being repudiated in theological discussion groups or at least questioned. And when you think you’ve seen some progress and are encouraged, you see something that is very troubling.
Your father saw that there was an emerging next step in evolution that would be posited: the deification of man.
My father often quoted Genesis 3:5, the temptation of Satan to Eve that you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil, which he interpreted as saying you shall be as gods determining for yourselves what is good and evil. He saw that as encapsulating the drift of all humanism. Humanism, as with all rebellion against God, doesn’t move in one linear direction. It’s like a scattergun where men run away from God in every direction possible, and you see this chaotic and confusing mess of modern philosophy and ideas. And it just seems a muddled mess, particularly if you have any kind of a Christian worldview.
But certain things become popular in modern thought, and one of them we see is transhumanism, which says we don’t have to be limited by our humanity; we can transcend humanity through technology and scientific advances. This is just the cult of sciences reemerged—the belief that we can transform men by our technology to be anything they want, but it all goes back to you shall be as gods. Now men are trying to literally—not just in a religious sense—be gods through science, and they haven’t precisely defined what that will look like. Years ago, there were TV shows about bionic people who possessed superpowers because of science. And we’ve gone back to that silly notion, but I haven’t heard a good explanation where they think this transhumanism—what direction it’s taking and what the end result might be.
What’s frustrating is to watch Christians try to fight this latest “ism” instead of applying the truth of God’s Word to their life. Instead, they would document the evils thinking that when you register them, you’ve done something for the Kingdom.
That’s always been a problem. Throughout my lifetime, it seems as though evil has a better idea of how to promote itself than Christians have to promote what is good. It’s often hard work to promote the Kingdom of God. For example, Christian education was done by people willing to sit in church basements with students and try to rethink what a Christian worldview looks like, and there wasn’t an easy solution. Christians want an easy faith, religion, answers, and responses. They don’t want to go through the hard work of advancing the Kingdom, and yet, the parables of Jesus were about when the master left and involved servants (cf., Luke 19:11-26). Did the servants do the work that was left them? What were the servants engaged in while the master was absent? And so that’s where we are today—where all Christians have always been. What are we doing in the service of our Lord, in the service of the Kingdom? It’s not just to point out the evil we see in the world.
In other words, God promised victory. I don’t have to engineer it, I just have to be faithful.
Right. Back in the 60s, my father met a successful businessman known throughout Southern California, and he helped my father at the beginning of Chalcedon. This man made it clear that this wasn’t going to be an ongoing assistance; he wanted to turn America back to the way things were when he was a boy. For this reason, he was very much interested in patriotism and politics. He thought we could turn the country around.
Some years later, my father stopped by his office, and this man was cleaning out his office by then. He had been quite ill—almost died—and gave control of the company to the rest of his family. He told my father, “I would have accomplished much more if I’d taken your advice and invested in Christian education and building Christian schools than in politics.” Because education is a Kingdom building enterprise, and those Christian schools weren’t perfect, I’m still meeting people who went to some of those little Christian schools, many of which no longer exist. These schools represented dedicated Kingdom work to somebody who wanted to do something for God, which had a significant impact. I also meet many people who went to public schools, and they have to say, somewhat apologetically, that they are still unlearning what they received in public schools.
And so we need to find more ways to further the Kingdom of God because if we’re doing His will, and if we’re teaching others to do His will, we’re bringing more people under God’s planning, law, and government. Ultimately, that is the only thing that will survive because so much of what we see in our culture today is not a threat to the Kingdom of God. It’s a suicidal course, and it won’t last any more than the humanistic fads of the past have lasted. I believe it’s comparable to what Paul described in the first chapter of Romans regarding the moral degeneracy of the unredeemed, and we see that in our culture. It’s going downhill, but it doesn’t mean it will just get worse. What we’re seeing is going to come to an end.
We should be encouraged that it doesn’t depend on us, but God will judge us on whether we feared Him and kept His commandments. Our emphasis should be on the truth, not on becoming acceptable to people who may or may not worship the living God.
And this is when we see things that are just so disconcerting in our culture, but that should be an incentive to us—to make it easier for us to live in terms of the commands of God and the reality of His Kingdom. I think it’s easier to see the antithesis with anti-Christian behavior than when I was young or in the middle or early 20th century. I think many people were confused about secular versus religious perspectives, and there’s less confusion about that now. The divide is becoming increasingly apparent, and if the divide is becoming more evident, our responsibility should undoubtedly become more prominent. We have the truth, we have life, and we need to live in terms of that and teach our families to do so. The antithesis is more evident now than it’s ever been before between the ways of God and the ways of evil.
I remember as a child, there were the King Kong and Godzilla movies, and I think too many Christians look at what’s currently happening and that today’s “big monsters” are somehow all-powerful. The truth is that Paul was talking to people who also saw big monsters, Martin Luther and John Calvin were talking to people who saw big monsters, and God gave us men like Cornelius Van Til and your father, who saw big monsters. Big monsters must be a part of human history, but God defeats them all.
Right, and the Roman Empire had not even reached its peak of power when Christ left the disciples with the responsibility to spread His Kingdom. So, it was a challenging time to cross Rome in the early centuries of the church, and the early church did pay for it at times, but Rome collapsed, and Rome is irrelevant now. And here we are still fighting the battles of the Kingdom and advancing the Kingdom.
It is the end of the era because the Enlightenment’s assumptions, beliefs, and worldview are crashing down around it, and the people following this trend are unhappy. They are not people of the future. They are people with a death wish. They have lost sight of reality, but we know what is real. The Bible tells us what is real and how we can live in terms of it. We have every hope and reason to be encouraged by the fact that God is not a loser, and we are on the winning side of time and eternity.
Amen to that. Mark, is there a book you want to send listeners to understand this concept better?
One book they might want to look at is my father’s The Mythology of Science because so much of what is going on today is supposedly “science,” but my father shows we are now in an age of myth, and men now believe in myths to an extent they have never believed in before. Darwinism is a classic example. The truth is religiously understood, but we should be confident in the fact that we have the truth and that we are not standing in terms of an obscure religious creed that was outdated 2000 years ago, but in reality, we have the truth, and we stand on very solid ground. We should be confident in that.
As we proceed with the collapse—the fatal diagnosis of humanism—rather than be sad, we should be soberly optimistic and working to have replacements in place when these systems fail because that will be when Christian Reconstruction comes to its fullest, don’t you think?
Yes, my father often said these are exciting times to be alive. Sometimes they are a little too exciting, but we live at a crux of history, which is changing dramatically. We can see that in a lot of ways. This will be a very different world in 20, 30, or 40 years, and we are part of this changing time. Therefore we have to be part of the change for the positive and towards the advance of the Christian faith in the Kingdom of God.
This interview is taken from Episode 233 of the Out of the Question Podcast hosted by Andrea Schwartz. You can hear this in its entirety at https://bit.ly/3OmitGR
- Mark R. Rushdoony
Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.
He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.
In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at www.chalcedon.edu.
He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.
Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.