Mankind is, after several millennia, still trying hard to make good on Satan’s promise that man can ascend to the status of deity, that he can “be as gods, knowing good and evil.” A god does not know good and evil in a merely intellectual sense: he knows it because he determines or decrees it. Man’s ongoing sin is, by its very nature, his quest to rule as a god.
Sin makes man want to decree, to decide authoritatively as a sovereign, autonomous power. Man playing god must manage to circumvent the authority of the God he seeks to dethrone, or at least diplomatically manage Him as an equal. Sometimes man’s god-playing takes the form of a lawless anarchism, a defiance of any authority other than himself. More often man’s rebellion seeks strength in numbers, and men gravitate toward a group to exercise their self-rule. No form of lawlessness will be tolerated for long; a collective order will soon enough prevail. The result of rejecting a transcendent authority is the emergence of an imminent authority, the state.
In order to see statism as a revolt against God, we need to see it as the Kingdom of Man, a perversion of the Kingdom of God. Man was created for a purpose, to fulfill a greater plan, to operate in terms of a higher meaning and direction. What man in sin denies to God, he tends to appropriate to himself. Man feels compelled to determine a purpose, to act in terms of his own authority. Man transfers not only the right, but the power of predestination to himself. The result is some form of statist power that seeks to make this order real. Dominion under God is perverted into the dominion of man. The Kingdom of God is rejected in favor of the Kingdom of Man. Man was constitutionally designed to work, and when he exercises dominion apart from God, his efforts become the outworking of his sin nature. He proceeds with religious fervor to destroy his world in an attempt to remake it into one better suited to sinners. When other men or reality get in his way, some ugly scenes unfold.
In Jesus Christ we are new men, new creatures recalled to our purpose to serve God in obedience. We stand in grace prepared to serve His purposes and sovereign Lordship rather than our own. We pray for the advance of His Kingdom because His “is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”
In Eden, man’s government was entirely self-government. When Adam failed to obey God, he believed instead the phony promise of Satan and tried to be his own God. Much of man’s history is the recurring attempt of one or another state to establish enough power that the state might build its own eternal kingdom. It is in this drive to establish one’s own order that we can understand the common hope of secular men entailed in such diverse movements as Karl Marx’s dream of a final communistic order, Hitler’s thousand-year Reich, and the more recent quest for a New World Order. In sin, man seeks to serve himself and seeks his own kingdom, power, and glory.
Christ destroyed the power of sin over us, but He also established His own Lordship. We can only know the Kingdom of God through its Lord, Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is wherever He is served, wherever He is acknowledged, whether in church, state, home, or school. Seeking the Kingdom of God necessitates rejecting its humanistic counterfeits.
The state is not the source of man’s problem, but the state it often exhibits it. Man the sinner seeks strength in numbers and uses that strength to exert control over others and presume power that belongs to God alone. Simply put, the state has, throughout history, regularly played God, it has often embodied man’s desire to be as gods who determine good and evil and establish their own lordship and kingdom.
The question believers must ask themselves is “What am I doing to serve and further the Kingdom of God and His Christ?”
- 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.