I’ve asked Mark Rushdoony to pen some reflections on the history of Chalcedon at its current location. One of the reasons for my doing so is that in our digital world, replete with virtual reality and cyberspace locales, we are prone to lose touch with a sense of place. Americans’ grasp of geography is, at best, miserable, and likely to deteriorate even further as we continue to delegate physical awareness to our smart phone GPS apps.
It was pointed out that Chalcedon supporters have unwittingly driven right past the foundation on Highway 4 in California … friends of the ministry who, had they known, would have stopped by to visit. Part of the problem is that Vallecito is so tiny, you’ll miss it if you blink while you’re driving through it.
Dr. R. J. Rushdoony often pressed a very important point that is often missed in an age focused on information technology: land is one of the most responsible forms of wealth. (Cash, being liquid and demanding little in respect to stewardship, is the most irresponsible form of wealth.) This is a point he hit upon not only in lectures and sermons, but also in his writings on both economics and in his seminal series, “The Theology of the Land,” published as a key part of his two-volume Systematic Theology. Man came from the dust of the ground, and humanism seeks to detach us from the land (except as it is considered from a collectivist, statist perspective) … yet humanism insists (inconsistently) upon chaining us to the primordial ooze of Darwinism as our “true” origin.
As Mark noted in his comments, his father’s wide-ranging ministry didn’t require a location in a central metropolis like Los Angeles. Further, the power of ideas can overcome apparent geographic barriers. Yet, it was still fitting that a ministry that proclaimed the importance of “the theology of the land” be more than just a website in cyberspace. In point of fact, the weekly broadcasts of Mark’s current sermon series emanate from the Chalcedon Chapel, where his father served in the pulpit for decades. There is a sense, then, of generational succession tied to the place, and to the Kingdom purpose the place has enabled. We can, after a fashion, adapt the words of Tolkien concerning Chalcedon’s location: “there is good rock here.” We do so because our Rock is not like their rock.
There is one map that the Chalcedon Foundation always appears on: the one drawn up by the Southern Poverty Law Center every year. Their nonsensical “hate group” designation for Chalcedon doesn’t appear to carry any weight with the pilots of medivac helicopters, however, who have long used the Chalcedon property for emergency operations (as Mark has commented upon in his article, and for which he has provided a dramatic photo taken during an actual operation at the Chalcedon facility). You see, there is something to be said in favor of land—in some instances, it even helps to save lives.
Dr. Rushdoony had often pointed out that Ezra and Nehemiah thought in terms of the future, and so planned for future growth in terms of a victorious faith. This was obvious insofar as the wall being constructed around Jerusalem would provide for a population ten times larger than what had actually returned from Babylon. One can discern the same thinking behind the Chalcedon premises: there is room for future growth there.
The Chalcedon land itself bears silent testimony to the future that Dr. Rushdoony saw in seed form on his horizon. What shape will that future take, and what part will this particular place in Vallecito play in that future? Those are stories that are not yet written. They can only be answered by those who walk by faith, not by sight. Up until now, God has caused Chalcedon to “grow up out of its place” (Zech. 6:12). How long will it stay in Vallecito, a place more insignificant in California than Bethlehem was in Judah (Micah 5:2)? Or will the day of small beginnings augur something big in Vallecito, which may have yet to see the full impact of God’s consecrating it for His purposes?
With God, all things are possible.
Our calling in the meantime is to be faithful stewards over both the work of Chalcedon, and the provision God has given the ministry in respect to our faithful supporters, and finally, with respect to the home God has provided Chalcedon as the ministry continues to equip the church militant for informed service in the Name of her Risen King.
God’s purposes, which embrace the whole world, cannot be constrained to a county known primarily for Mark Twain’s eponymous jumping frog. Ought not our prayer to be this: that just as the light of God’s Word continues to propagate uncompromisingly from Vallecito (and other faithful ministries teaching the whole counsel of God), that this light grow and be replicated in every home across the land? This surely is the burden of Isaiah 4:5: “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.”
[Originally published in Chalcedon Report, February 2018]