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The Exaltation of a People

Far more serious than any constitutional deviation is our religious and moral waywardness.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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California Farmer 249:6 (Oct. 21, 1978), p. 42.

It seems very remote now, but when the British began their war against the American colonies, they faced a problem. Loose women were too few in America to provide for the troops, so the British War Office contracted to have 3,500 street prostitutes transported to America. The women of England were mostly unwilling to go at any price to a “barbarous” land, so Captain Jackson had to fill his quota with Blacks from the West Indies; these latter women came to be known as “Jackson Whites.”

This and like actions turned many colonists against the mother country. It was noticed that very few Britishers had Bibles, and even fewer used them. To the Americans, all this spelled evil, and the prospect of God’s judgment against the British. Even Jefferson, far from an evangelical in his opinions, believed that the British were sowing a harvest of judgment.

Over and over again, the colonial clergy stressed Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” To them, it was the Word of God, and an article of faith and life. Washington stressed the necessity of seeking God’s favor by faithfulness to Him.

Were they right or wrong? Were they simple-minded for believing that righteousness (or, justice before God) is the most important element in a nation’s strength, or were they wiser than the men of this generation?

If they were right, then we are very much off base. Then, far more serious than any constitutional deviation is our religious and moral waywardness. Righteousness, the proverb tells us, lifts up and makes great a people, whereas sin brings a reproach or shame and disgrace to a nation. Faithfulness and justice before God bring grace, sin disgrace. The exaltation of a people is thus God’s handiwork, and it is dependent upon our faithfulness to Him. The exaltation of nations is thus not political but, in the truest sense possible, religious. What men and nations do adds up finally to grace or disgrace from the hand of God.

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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