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Random Notes, 76

Over the centuries, and by no means any less in our time, errors and heresies have occurred in the church.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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  1. Over the centuries, and by no means any less in our time, errors and heresies have occurred in the church. I am not referring to outright pagan developments, but to erroneous Christian ones, i.e., false doctrine, warped emphases, partial truths and the like. We must call attention to these errors, and Christians have usually been clear and able in so doing. But this is only half our duty. We must raise the question, why has God in his sovereign wisdom decreed that this happen? Only then can we understand the ways of God and his warnings to us. Very commonly, errors, heresies, warped and partial teachings arise because churchmen have neglected a necessary kind of thinking and action. It is our duty to call attention to error, but it is also our duty to ask, why this development, and does it mean we have something to learn?

    In my university years, a movement which attracted international attention was Moral Re-Armament, led by the Rev. Frank Buckman, an American and a Lutheran. The movement began in Britain, spread to Europe, and then to much of the world. Its weaknesses were at once pointed out by many able thinkers. But what was its strength?

    Only those who were living in the years before and during World War II can appreciate the intensity of feelings of anger and hatred that marked the Allies. France had a history of antagonism to Germany, the France-Prussian War, the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, World Wars I and II, and more.

    All the same, one of the remarkable events of early post-World War II was the remarkable Franco-German reconciliation. This was the work of Moral Rearmament and Buckman. The MRA men, led by Buckman, quietly brought together large numbers of French and German leaders in a Swiss hotel. Robert Schuman of France and Konrad Adenauer headed their groups. Quietly and patiently, their differences were confronted and ironed out. The scholar Edwin Luttwak has given an account of this in "Franco-German Reconciliation: The Overlooked Role of the Moral Rearmament Movement," in Douglas Johnson and Cynthia Sampson, editors, Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft (Oxford University Press, 1994), pp. 47-63. In that great post-war crisis, no church did anything. Moral Rearmament did something remarkable. Christians have a duty to call attention to error, but also to see the good such groups often do. We need to ask, why did God raise up this group, and what must we learn from it? What sins of omission on our part led to its rise? Until then, we will not accomplish much and our churches will continue to drift.
  2. Andrew Sandlin urged me to write about this. The dinner table conversation of five of us included my comments on a certain type of sheep common to old Armenia. In the spring, my father, like other young pre-school boys, would be given a half a dozen or so sheep to graze in the mountains. This was on the mountain next to Ararat. In the spring, the sheep had no tail, only a fleshly button where the tail should be. As they grazed, they stored fat in that tail until, by summer's end, a wheel had to be attached to the tail to keep it from being torn by rocks and bushes. In the winter, less feed was needed because the sheep, in part, lived off their fat tails. In the winters there, a second-story door was used to leave the house because of the deep snows. During those long months, the people's main activity was going to church (during Christmas and Easter, services were 24 hours daily for eight days, and you went at your choice to a given part of the liturgy, conducted by my grandfather and great-grandfather). Dinners were from 4:00 p.m. until midnight, with storytelling and singing. Apart from feeding the sheep a little hay, men had no other task.

    Now, the telling part of this story to me is the sheep, called dulmak in Armenian. Only sheep with such tails and the capacity to store food could have been used in that high mountain country. For me, the idea that such sheep had evolved was silly, and no Darwinian nonsense could account for them, no more than for the human eye. These sheep were created by God in terms of his foreknowledge.
  3. All parents of children in state schools should listen to what Federal District Judge Melinda Harmon said when she ruled against parents in a Texas school district in their suit filed because of an arbitrary strip search of their son to look for any signs of paddling: "Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school" (The Education Liberator, February/March, 1997, p. 1).
  4. I was moved, in listening to the video tape of the visit in 1989 of the two leaders of the Church of Armenia, the catholicori of Etchmiadzin and of Cilicia. The latter said that our purpose must not be to remember history but to remake it.
  5. In December, 1887, Christmas Eve, Charles Dickens was in Boston, Massachusetts to read his A Christmas Carol. Among those present were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell and Richard Henry Dana. Some Bostonians came with mattresses and lined up all night in the cold to be sure to get tickets. In those years, the average American read four hours a day, whereas now the same amount of time is given to television, not reading.

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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