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Rousas John Rushdoony as Philosopher

How is one to consider the thought of Rousas John Rushdoony with regard to what is commonly called “philosophy”? Rushdoony’s thought belongs to a very different tradition, standing in the great line of Biblically grounded philosophy so ably illustrated by a Pierre Viret or a Johann Georg Hamann.

  • Jean-Marc Berthoud,
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And when the tempter came to him, he said: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said: It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:3–4)
And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:2)
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3–5)
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Col. 2:8)

How is one to consider the thought of Rousas John Rushdoony with regard to what is commonly called “philosophy”? The history of Western philosophy makes it clear that one of the primary characteristics of this discipline is almost universally considered to be its pretended autonomy from any kind of revealed theological authority. To take an example among many others, a Catholic philosopher such as the Argentinian Thomist, Mario Enrique Sacchi, in the “Introduction” to his very able refutation of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy of being, writes:

… philosophy does not take its principles from any revelation, but from the natural evidence of intelligible things first known through sense experience that precedes every apprehension of the intellect.2

Rushdoony’s thought belongs to a very different tradition. He rather stands in the great line of Biblically grounded philosophy so ably illustrated by a Pierre Viret or a Johann Georg Hamann. Viret, for example, at the conclusion of a philosophical discussion of the nature and meaning of suffering in the world, could, after quoting from the most diverse philosophical, medical, and even proverbial sources, without the slightest methodological qualms, offer as a clinching argument a quotation from the one whom he calls “that supreme philosopher,” Job, thus with equanimity refusing the traditional methodological separation between philosophy and Scripture. Stephen Dunning, in his masterly comparison of Hamann to Hegel on language and history, writes in the same spirit:

J. G. Hamann … offers a radical alternative to the options I had encountered in contemporary theology and Hegel. Hamann’s thought—about the world no less than about God—is cast in biblical language. In the second half of the twentieth century, such an approach may sound anachronistic or even comical. Nevertheless, Hamann’s understanding of history, language and faith illustrates a clear alternative to contemporary theological methods. However unacceptable it may be to secular theologians, it cannot be dismissed as irrational, pietistic, or, in the term which appears frequently in American discussions, “fundamentalistic.” The language of the Bible, as interpreted by Hamann, offers far greater resources for understanding the world than most modern theologians acknowledge.3

It is in the perspective of such a normative correlation between the Word of the Author of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures and the correct understanding of the structure and meaning both of the universe and of history—ordered as they are by the same Creator and Provider—that I shall try to show the importance of Rousas John Rushdoony’s philosophical achievement.

Foundations That Cannot Be Shaken

It is an indisputable fact that from his first major publication, By What Standard? An Analysis of the Philosophy of Cornelius Van Til,4 to the latest of his works to be published, The Death of Meaning,5 and through many other writings,6Rushdoony clearly manifests a great interest for philosophical thought and, in particular, for the history of Western philosophy. Here of course his major work is The One and the Many.7 The title itself, articulating his thought concerning the two Greek philosophical categories of the One and the Many, shows clearly that for Rushdoony the terms and distinctions of that philosophical tradition were not, in themselves, intrinsically extraneous or hostile to a properly Christian view of the world.

But his interest in philosophy was in no way limited to his writings specifically dealing with this aspect of intellectual inquiry. Throughout the whole of his immense corpus we can observe the constant intertwining of philosophical considerations with his every other interest. Philosophical considerations were thus part and parcel of the very texture of his thinking; he could no more separate the functioning of his mind from philosophical considerations than he could cut it off from theological reflection. How is this very remarkable phenomenon to be explained?

Rushdoony’s fundamental position in all his published works is a refusal to separate theology from philosophy, to cut off his philosophical thinking from the very language (categories and first principles8) of Holy Scripture. Thus, for Rushdoony, the fundamental categories of his philosophical thinking were to be found in the very language and fundamental categories of Biblical thought, in those fundamental distinctions established by the Biblical thought of Orthodox and Catholic Christian theology. For Rushdoony, the God who infallibly inspires Holy Scripture is also the Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth and the Sovereign Providence directing every event of history. As such, He is the Creator of man’s mind, and that mind has not only been made to know and worship Him but has also been furnished with the capacity (i.e., the fundamental first principles or categories) enabling it to understand the stable created order to which its functioning is perfectly adapted.

Now this affirmation is of course true for unfallen Adam and for the new Adam, Jesus Christ, in the plenitude of their uncorrupted humanity. But this position holds also, but of course to a lesser degree, for fallen man whose radical corruption (what the Canons of Dort call his “total depravation”) has not, in fact, abolished his nature as man made in the very image of God. The Reformers of the sixteenth century and their successors in the seventeenth century gave to total depravation an extensive definition, as affecting every aspect of human nature, mind included, and did not consider it in an intensive manner as destroying man’s created faculties. Thus, with regard to the rational capacities of man, we must affirm that they have been distorted, not abolished.

The Inescapable

In the Presuppositionalist tradition, in which Rushdoony himself stands, the task of the Christian philosopher thus takes on a double aspect. His first task is founding all his thinking, in every field of created reality, on Biblically-based first principles that will correctly structure his thought. His second task is to use these Biblical and creational first principles in a critically precise and appropriate manner to flush out the erroneous first principles (presuppositions) inevitably at the base of so much of fallen man’s theoretical thinking. A quotation from Rushdoony’s Systematic Theology will show to what extent he considered the categories of the Bible as perfectly adequate for the understanding of the fallen world. In tandem with Hamann and many other faithful Christian thinkers, he stands in full opposition to the often unspoken premise of academic philosophical thought: the arbitrary and utterly sterile exclusion of the language of the Bible.

To be specific, how can anyone affirm the sovereignty of God concretely and realistically, without opposing and denying the sovereignty of man and the state? If we affirm God’s sovereignty but do not challenge humanistic doctrines of sovereignty from pulpit and pew, in the home, the Christian school, the voting booth, and the halls of Congress, and elsewhere, we are either denying our profession of faith or affirming a two-worlds theory, i.e., that God is sovereign in the supernatural realm, but Satan governs and triumphs in space and time. We are then not Christians but Manichaeans.
Similarly, to affirm predestination by God and to assent to socialism in any form is to say that there are two realms of predestination: God predestines the soul, and the state predestines the physical and natural life of man by planning and control.
Again, if we hold to an abstract form of systematics, we will talk about atonement without seeing that, apart from Christ’s atonement, man will seek atonement by sadomasochistic activities. As a sadist he will attempt to lay his sins upon other people, and as a masochist he will attempt through self-punishment to make self-atonement. Politics, religion, marriage, and all human relationships will manifest sadistic or masochistic activities wherever men are without Christ. For the pulpit to preach Christ’s atonement without seeing its very practical consequences of deliverance from sadomasochism, and the results of a society which is dedicated to sadomasochistic works of atonement, is to hold to a Manichaean or abstract theology. (…)
An abstract theology is only formally or technically systematic. Systematic theology must of necessity deny, because God is sovereign, that there are any neutral facts, or any areas of neutrality. All factuality is God-created and God-governed and interpreted. All facts are therefore theological facts, and every area of life, thought, study, and action is a theological concern. Education, politics, science, the arts, the vocations, the family, and all things else, are theological concerns. A theology which does not involve itself in every area in terms of the sovereign God and His infallible law-word cannot be systematic: it is only abstract.9

It is thus clear from the above quotation that, for Rushdoony, Biblical or theological categories, such as sovereignty, predestination, atonement, infallibility, election, grace (and we could multiply examples from his writings), are basic categories not only for theology but also for understanding our world in its totality. In this it is clear that there is for him no dualistic separation between the task of philosophy and the language of the Bible. Thus in the first two magnificent sections of his Systematic Theology, he goes to considerable pains to show the inescapable character for all men of the categories of infallibility and of systematic thought. Men cannot exist outside of these categories: they will either, in the piety of true worship, attribute infallibility where it rightfully belongs (to the transcendent and immanent triune God) or he will foist it, in idolatrous illegitimacy, on himself, the church, the state, the party, or anything else.

Infallibility appears thus as an inescapable concept for man, a first principle coterminous with man’s very nature, innocent, fallen, or redeemed. Likewise, Rushdoony shows that man’s thought and actions have an inherently systematic nature from which he cannot escape. Either the system will be God’s and will enclose man (anchoring his true freedom as creature) within the divinely established structure of a good universe, or it will be a man-invented systematic construction, seeking in all areas to exclude God and His created order. For man, this human construct will inevitably prove to be a terrifying prison. In the final run, hell will itself manifest this totally systematic structure. This is the direction taken in every field by a totally antitheistic Western world. If men do not repent and turn again to God by faith in Christ and obedience to His commandments, they will invent a worldwide, universal Gulag. The way of universal death can only lead to hell on earth.

Philosophy Without Balance

We now face the following question. If we are to found our first principles directly on an immediate apprehension of the very categories of the Bible (God’s revealed thinking), how do we avoid the philosophical pitfall of univocity? We risk imagining that we are in fact privy to the very essence of God’s own thinking, and may end up applying these theological categories in so immediate, so direct a manner, to various fields of created reality—psychology, economics, physics, music, literature, etc.—that these disciplines are absorbed into the field of theology itself. How can such Biblical thinking avoid denying these disciplines their individual nature, their essence as particular created things, despite the inappropriate language used to describe them? To illustrate, how can a blinding white light, in all its intensity, not wash out all manifestations of the manifold colors of reality (the varied truths of many disciplines, each appropriate to the diverse objects under consideration)?

Here it is useful to indicate that the terms univocity, equivocity, and analogy define three attitudes we can entertain towards God. Univocity, the attitude of Gordon Clark or Robert Reymond, holds to a theory of equivalence between our human conceptions of God’s knowledge and essence and God’s own knowledge of Himself (which in itself is unattainable by man). It leads to rationalism and to the total destruction of transcendence. It is a form of intellectual idolatry, the rational manhandling of the divinity. Equivocity, on the other hand, as adopted by Immanuel Kant and Karl Barth, holds to the total inadequacy of human language to speak in a conceptually knowable way about God. In this view, God is the totally inaccessible Other—in the final analysis He is approachable only through mystical experience. This pessimistic view leads to atheism and the concomitant secularization of every aspect of life, culture, and society.

We are then left with analogy, which holds that the verbal revelation of God to man, Holy Scripture, is analogically true in all it expresses. As Calvin expressed it, God in His revelation accommodates His incomprehensible wisdom to our finite minds so as to enable us truly to understand, as creatures, His infallible and normative revelation. It is this last position that Rushdoony—without using the technical term—adopts, following thus in the footsteps of his mentor Cornelius Van Til. In response to the Clark-Reymond univocal (and thus rationalist) use of Biblical first principles, Rushdoony wrote:

What Van Til does is to state clearly all Christian doctrine in terms, not only of any supposed identity of the minds of God and man, but in terms of God’s self-revelation. He permits no coincidence or confusion between the mind of God and the mind of man … In brief, we do not share the mind of God, nor have in any sense the same being or content, but we receive the revelation of God, and we understand it, as creatures. That knowledge is inescapable knowledge, because we are creatures, and every atom of our being witnesses to the Creator. That knowledge is also always creaturely knowledge, and it is never the same kind of knowledge as God has.

And Rushdoony adds:

How can man’s knowledge coincide with God’s? God knows the end and the beginning, and His sovereign purpose for all eternity in the creation of every fact. Man’s knowledge can never coincide with that. Not only does man have no ability to know anything exhaustively, he can never know anything creatively as God does, nor absolutely, nor in any other way have a coincidence of content. The difference between God and man cannot be bridged by the mind of man.10

It is in this way that Rushdoony, after Cornelius Van Til and John Calvin, (and, perhaps to his surprise, after Thomas Aquinas and the Thomist metaphysical tradition!) avoids the pitfalls both of univocal rationalism and of equivocal irrationalism, thus adopting the classic Christian position, the view defended by the Council of Chalcedon in its basic distinctions applied to the knowledge of God, a position which Aquinas called analogy, Calvin accommodation, and Luther the theology of the cross.11

Dangers Old and New

But any form of univocity will affect our understanding of the different orders in the created world. This entails applying a certain form of knowledge to every aspect of reality (the chief example here is the modern mathematical and experimental model of physical science). This is known as positivism or scientific reductionism.

This epistemological perversion was combatted by the second major source of Rushdoony’s philosophical thinking (after Cornelius Van Til), the great Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd, whom Rushdoony did so much to make known to the English-speaking world.12 If the idolatry of absolutizing one aspect of the world is totally relativized by the exclusive worship of the only true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and submission to His infallible and coherently systematic Word (both the divine and human Person of the eternal Logos and the Word of His revealed Scriptures),  then the different spheres of man’s thought and action will be respected and placed in proper relation one to the other. They will all stand under God’s overarching sovereign authority. This is made explicit in Herman Dooyeweerd’s teaching on the distinctions to be established between the different spheres of the created order.13

This part of Dooyeweerd’s teaching was less emphasized by Rushdoony than the Dutchman’s fundamental critique of the erroneous presuppositions of autonomous theoretical thought. However, it nevertheless had sufficient influence on Rushdoony to prevent him from confusing economics and politics, biology and psychology, or philosophy and theology. Rushdoony didn’t succumb to the danger at the other extreme, disruptive specialization, including the temptation to refuse to relate these different fields (wherever necessary) one to the other, thus fragmenting human knowledge.

It is this constant aim to submit his thought to God’s every Word, as well as his respect for the varied orders of creation, that make Rushdoony’s writings so invariably enlightening. All things are for him to be seen under the light of God’s eternal wisdom, intelligibly refracted, to us men created in the image and resemblance of God, in the normative Scriptures. The various aspects of God’s multifarious universe are thus respected for what they are and are not confused one with the other, as is the case when one aspect of reality comes abusively to dominate another. It is God who, through Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit, so orders our minds (if we attach ourselves in obedience to the whole counsel of God) that we are enabled to respect the particular orders of His universe. He, being God, sees everything in the simplicity and unity of His divine mind. We as creatures see all things partially and from specific angles. The coherence and concrete precision of our vision of the universe comes only from our submitting all our thoughts in faith to the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, namely, to every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

In all his thinking, Rushdoony sought to maintain the Chalcedonian distinctions: unity without confusion, distinction without separation, multiplicity in unity. This gave his thought a balance and a coherence that will undoubtedly make it outlast the indifference of the present age and the ravages of time.

Sharpening Our Mental Swords

Starting off from the premises of God’s own thinking, the Eternal Law, as accommodated (analogically refracted) to us in the infallible and divinely coherent Scriptures, Rushdoony’s epistemology was founded on the God-given structure of man’s mind. In addition, he was conscious that the order of creation (as well as God’s providential action governing every event in history) corresponds to these God-revealed scriptural categories. With such intellectual and spiritual assets, is it any surprise that Rousas Rushdoony was given the grace to shed divine light on every subject he touched? For my part, I have never met a modern thinker so consistently able to throw new and uniformly Biblical light on every subject he endeavored to understand. The reason is plain. Consistently grounded as he was on a methodologically correct understanding of Scripture, of the divinely ordered cosmos and of God’s providential ordering of history, Rushdoony, as a faithful doctor of God’s church, possessed to an extraordinary degree what the apostle Paul callsthe mind of Christ.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (I Cor. 2:12–16)

Does this mean that Rushdoony has left us with nothing left to do? That we must only echo his work and not carry it further? God forbid! Such a thought would have been hateful to him. For my part, I see two fields where Rushdoony’s achievement must be extended if we are to face the extraordinarily dangerous problems that the accelerated (and totally irresponsible) developments of the biological and physical sciences are leading us today. These disciplines have delivered us to a war zone where the very structures of creation are being directly attacked. That attack now goes deeper than the subversion of the moral order of the universe. Science, having become mad through overweening ambition (hubris), now seeks the dissolution of the atomic and molecular structures of the universe and the cellular structures of living beings, in order to reconstruct them into new patterns, as if today’s scientist has consciously taken the place of God.14

To answer these difficult questions, we must recover not only Biblical ethics (moral thinking consistently based on the teachings of Biblical law as found in the whole of Scripture) but also, and above all, Biblical metaphysics, as expressed in the first two chapters of Genesis and implicitly contained in every aspect of Scripture.

A recovery of Biblical metaphysics (from the Greek meta “beyond” and phusis “nature,” i.e., the ontological structure of the universe as observed by our senses, in contrast to the mathematical-physical structures of the universe understood in explicit opposition to the witness of our senses) will lead us to the Biblically-based first principles and categories of the created order.

The key distinctions include the following fundamental differentiations: those between the Creator and creation, between light and darkness, between the waters above and the waters below, between land and sea, between inanimate and organically organized matter, between the vegetable kingdom and animate life, between animals and man, between man and woman, between stable species and less organized matter, and so on. We shall in this way recover the largely forgotten distinction between sins against the moral law and sins against nature (sins against the very order of creation). For example, there is a distinction between theft, murder and adultery (acts against the moral and judicial law) on the one hand, and homosexuality and feminism (disordered attitudes and acts which are in addition opposed to the very order of nature) on the other. The reconstruction of an artificial scientific and technological order, proceeding from the dissolution of the created order (the revolutionary principle ofsolve et coagula at the base of both political and scientific revolutions), can only be effectively criticized using a coherent Biblical metaphysic, an understanding of the ontological structure of God’s creation. The recovery of such a metaphysic is a task of the utmost importance and urgency.

Further, this implies taking an even closer look at the history of philosophy than has been the case in the Van Tillian and Dooyeweerdian traditions. For example, such vague notions as “Greek thought” or “Scholastic philosophy” are utterly inadequate as concepts for understanding what the various Greek and Medieval thinkers were actually saying. Plato, for one, has at key points a very different system of thought from Aristotle. We must resume the task of the Cappadocians, Basil of Caesarea in particular,15 or of Ambrose of Milan,16 who, while rejecting the pagan religious motives of Greek philosophy, recovered for Christian use the created intellectual tools that this philosophical tradition, in God’s sovereign providence, had brought to light.

We must do likewise with the Medieval tradition, embracing a thousand years of thinking under continual Biblical influence. At the very least, it would be a gross over-simplification to put in the same category thinkers such as Robert Grosseteste, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bonaventure on the one hand, and late Medieval figures like William of Ockham, Gabriel Biel, and Marsilius of Padua (thinkers whom the Reformers of the sixteenth century often identified with what they called “scholasticism” and who were but the precursors of that modern subjective philosophy so ably criticized by the Van Tillian and Doyeweerdian tradition).

What we now need is a careful Reformed and Biblical examination of this whole tradition, sifting out the wheat (that which comes from God, for the good of His church, and for the building up of His Kingdom) from the chaff, which must be carefully rejected if God’s people are not to be poisoned by error. But we must not throw out the baby with the bath water. As the apostle Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to do, we must

Prove [examine] all things; hold fast that which is good. (I Thess. 5:21)

Whether it arises from the fourth century or the thirteenth (or any other time), we must work to distinguish between what in human thought is of a pagan and idolatrous nature (or more recently, embodies perniciously apostate and anti-Christian idealist or utopian thinking), and what pertains to the work of common grace as manifested in the minds even of non-Christian thinkers. We must remember that philosophy (philo—“to love” and sophia—“wisdom”) is nothing else but the love of wisdom. The Bible is in a sense simply the Book of the Wisdom of God; the fear (that respectful awe) of God being the true beginning of wisdom.

Thus it is our obligation to carefully examine what we can reap, not only from the thinking of those theologians and philosophers who belong to a Christian tradition other than our own, but also from the thought of those who stand outside the heritage of the Christian church. This is indeed what Rousas Rushdoony sought to do in his major work of discernment, The One and the Many,17 no doubt his most important philosophical achievement. For philosophy according to Christ—and not according to the elements of the world (Col. 2:8)—gathers in for itself as its own treasure all that non-Christian thinkers have been enabled, by the common grace of God, to manifest of that One Truth which is the divine Logos Himself, Christ Jesus, that true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9).

In this direction, seeking to attain a more adequate discernment of the intellectual history of our Western tradition, we should take a lesson from the Swiss philosopher, André de Muralt. De Muralt demonstrated that the problems we have to confront in the many deviations warping our philosophical heritage are not simply those of isolated ideas deviating from Biblical and philosophical truth, but ideas structurally bound together in coherent philosophical systems of error that can only be rectified by the correction of the entire structure in which they are organically intertwined.18

These modest suggestions are proposed to help us to go forward, standing as we do on the philosophical achievements of Rousas John Rushdoony, the Christian thinker who did so much to restore the true first principles of philosophy, founded at the same time on the divine Logos, our Lord Jesus Christ, and on every jot and tittle of the Word of God, thus conforming true philosophy to the divinely established structures of the created order.

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgement, and taught him knowledge, and shewed him the way of understanding? (Isa. 40:12–14)

1. I must thank the following who have read this text and allowed me to profit from their advice: Pierre Berthoud, Pierre Courthial, Paul-André Dubois, Huib Klink, Henri Lüscher, Denis Ramelet, Bertrand Rickenbacher, Paul Wells, and Colin Wright. Whatever errors remain are of course my own.

2. Mario Enrique Sacchi, The Apocalypse of Being: The Esoteric Gnosis of Martin Heidegger (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine’s Press, 2002), p. 4. The Thomist position, often interpreted as a dualism, is in fact not dualistic at all as can be observed in the First Question of the Summa Theologiae, where Thomas Aquinas self-consciously and explicitly subsumes all human thought, in its proper order, under the Eternal Law of God known to man through the Revealed Law (Scripture) and norm of the Natural Law (man’s conscience and his consciousness of what Hermann Dooyeweerd calls the law spheres of the created order).

3. Stephen N. Dunning, The Tongues of Men: Hegel and Hamann on Religious Language and History (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), p. 2.

4. Rousas John Rushdoony, By What Standard? An Analysis of the Philosophy of Cornelius Van Til (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1963).

5. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Death of Meaning (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2002).

6. Let us mention amongst other books: Intellectual Schizophrenia: Culture, Crisis and Education (1961), The Messianic Character of American Education (1963), The Flight from Humanity: A Study of the Effect of Neoplatonism on Christianity (1973), The Word of Flux: Modern Man and the Problem of Knowledge (1975).

7. R. J. Rushdoony, The One and The Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1971).

8. These first principles are what Aristotle in his Metaphysics calls the first unproved (and unprovable) principles of all human thought, such as, for example, the principle of non-contradiction. These first principles are not without relation to those inescapable pre-critical religious presuppositions so familiar to thinkers in the Van Til–Dooyeweerd tradition.

9. Rousas J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), Vol. I, p. 72.

10. Rousas J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 189–190.

11. See, William C. Placher, The Domestication of Transcendance: How Modern Thinking about God Went Wrong (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996). A single quote from Aquinas will here suffice: “The better we know God the more we understand that he surpasses whatever the mind grasps,” Summa Theologiae 2a2ae.8.7, and by this he did not mean that man could in no way know God. For him the only foundation of theology was Holy Scripture; sola scriptura, as he writes, is the only basis for a truly Christian theology, sacra doctrina. For a detailed confirmation of this assertion see the decisive study by Florent Gaboriau, L’Ecriture seule (Paris, France: Fac-éditions, 1997).

12. See Rushdoony’s Introductions to Herman Dooyeweerd’s American lectures,In the Twilight of Western Thought (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1960) and to his The Christian Idea of the State (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1968). His interest in Dooyeweerd remained constant as is witnessed by his Introduction to Magnus Verbrugge, Alive: An Enquiry into The Origin and Meaning of Life (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1984).

13. See Herman Dooyeweerd, A New Critique of Theoretical Thought (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969), 4 vols. Here again it is interesting to note that this aspect of Dooyeweerd’s thinking corresponds to certain methodological and scientific aspects of Thomas Aquinas’ metaphysical thinking. See here: Joseph Bobik, Aquinas on Matter and Form and the Elements: A Translation and Interpretation of De Principiis Naturae and the De Mixtione Elementorum of St. Thomas Aquinas (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998); Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Division and Methods of the Sciences (Toronto, Canada: The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1963) and Jacques Maritain, Distinguish to Unite or The Degrees of Knowledge (New York, NY: Scribner’s & Sons, 1959).

14. See Tom Wolfe, “Sorry but your soul just died” in Hooking up(New York, NY: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2000), p. 89–109; Ed Regis, Nano: The Emerging Science of Nanotechnology: Remaking the World—Molecule by Molecule(New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 1995); Michael Gross, Travels to the Nanoworld: Miniature Machinery in Nature and Technology (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 1999).

15. See Jaroslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993). Of fundamental importance here is Basil’s Hexameron.

16. See Goulven Madec, Saint Ambroise et la Philosophie (Paris, France: Études Augustiennes, 1974) and Jean Pepin, Théologie cosmique et théologie chrétienne (Paris, France: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964). Here also Ambrose’s exposition of the six days of creation is essential.

17. Rushdoony also did this for the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church in one of his most profound and beautiful books, The Foundations of Social Order: Studies in the Creeds and Councils of the Early Church (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1968).

18. André de Muralt, L’Enjeu de la Philosophie médiévaleÉtudes thomistes, scotistes, occamiennes et grégoriennes, (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1991); Néoplatonisme et aristotélisme dans la métaphysique médiévale (Paris, France: Librarie philosophique J. Vrin, 1995); L’unité de la philosophie politique: De Scot, Occam et Suarez au libéralisme contemporain (Paris, France: Librairie philosophique J. Vrin, 2002).

  • Jean-Marc Berthoud

Jean-Marc Berthoud was born in 1939 in South Africa from Swiss missionary parents and lives in Lausanne, Switzerland. He holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Arts with Honors degrees from the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the editor of the review Résister et Construire, president of the Association Vaudoise de Parents chrétiens in Switzerland, and of the Association Création, Bible et Science, and is the author of numerous books.

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