“When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
“And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering.
O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky: but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:2-3
R.J. Rushdoony published 33 books in his life. It’s almost impossible to read very far into any one of them without discovering a comment, a paragraph, or even a whole chapter that seems decades ahead of its time.
Here was a man well able to discern the signs of the times, and to predict — sometimes with unnerving accuracy — the “cultural weather” years in advance.
We have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of examples to illustrate how keenly he read the signs of the times. But for those unfamiliar with Rushdoony’s work, we offer five brief examples as an inducement to read more.
1. In Intellectual Schizophrenia (1961), Rushdoony wrote (pg. 107) that “the absence of meaning results in an absence of coherency of action and incapacity for self-defense. A culture not convinced of its own value is incapable of its own defense [italics added].”
In his foreword to the 2002 edition, Samuel Blumenfeld called Intellectual Schizophrenia “this brilliant and prophetic book,” an assessment even more apparent in 2005.
History is littered with the wreckage of civilizations whose citizens didn’t think they were worth defending. The Western Roman Empire fell in the fifth century: it had only a small corps of foreign mercenaries to defend it. In the seventh century, the Persian Empire, militarily defeated by Eastern Rome in a ruinous war that went on for centuries, had no spirit left to resist its rapid conquest by Islam. In our own time, we have seen the Soviet Union and its communist satellites in Eastern Europe collapse and pass away without a war.
The Western world today flirts with ideas which undermine the urge to self-preservation — moral relativism, moral equivalency, and multiculturalism. If all moral standards are subjective, if no one’s actions and motivations are any better or any worse than anyone else’s, and if no culture is superior to another, there can be no philosophical basis for self-defense.
These notions are vastly more prevalent in our culture today than they were in 1961. Those who have embraced them have no reason to defend their civilization.
2. In Politics of Guilt and Pity (pg. 5), Rushdoony wrote in 1970: “Many persons do not reveal their personal masochism, but they do participate in mass masochism through political and economic views and activities calculated to fulfill the urge to mass destruction [italics original].”
In 1970, Rushdoony focused on topical aspects of self-destructive public policies: high taxation to support a welfare state, which punishes success and fosters failure and personal irresponsibility; protecting the criminal at the expense of the law-abiding citizen; the growing influence of tyrannical elites. There are all still with us — but the scope of social self-destruction has widened since then.
Whether it’s the plummeting birth rates in Western Europe and Japan, the global spread of AIDS, or the increase in personal bankruptcies here at home, behavioral “weapons of mass self-destruction” seem clearly to be dramatically on the rise. Rushdoony would not have been surprised.
3. Writing in 1967 in The Mythology of Science (pg. 28), Rushdoony observed, “man is thus the prime laboratory test animal. Experimentation with man is already in process.”
This applies to today’s race to be the first to perfect human cloning, and to the push for experiments on embryonic human stem cells as the great white hope of medicine (meanwhile destroying thousands of human embryos). But civilization has also suffered from countless failed “social experiments” such as no-fault divorce, radical feminism, and abortion on demand. And there are more such experiments in the works, such as the legalization of “polyamory” (a “marriage” of many partners).
4. Rushdoony devoted a whole prescient chapter to the United Nations in The Nature of the American System (1965). After describing the inherent contradictions underlying the whole U.N. enterprise, he remarked, “the U.N. is not only incompetent to deal with sin but also especially prone to it.”
Today, while the U.N. enthrones genocidal powers like Sudan, Zimbabwe, and China on its Human Rights Commission, it also stands exposed as the perpetrator of the most expansive financial scandal in human history--the Oil for Food program, in which U.N. operatives stole tens of billions of dollars that were intended to provide food and medical supplies for the suffering people of Iraq.
5. “We are in the midst of a homosexual revolution aimed against Biblical faith and morality,” Rushdoony wrote, 32 years ago, in The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. I (pg. 420).
As incredible as this statement must have seemed in 1973, in 2005 it seems an understatement. Has the Western world capitulated to the assault by organized sodomy? Certainly much of it has, including portions of the Church itself. Today we have a constitutional right to sodomy, as laid down by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas; homosexual “marriage” imposed by the state court in Massachusetts; a homosexual bishop; and public schools teaching sexual technique to children as young as six years old (see the “David Parker” article at www.article8.org).
This issue defines the front lines of the Culture War today. While writing the three volumes of his Institutes, Rushdoony clearly saw it coming.
Perhaps nothing else testifies so tellingly to Rushdoony’s stature as a prophet as the numbers of his critics and the vitriol with which they attack him. As a Bible scholar, he would have expected this, too.
“And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country” (Luke 4:24).
- Lee Duigon
Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.
Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.