Chalcedon Report #224, March 1984
One of the most pernicious and evil myths to plague the human race is the myth of neutrality. It is a product of atheism and anti-Christianity, because it presupposes a cosmos of uncreated and meaningless factuality, of brute or meaningless facts. Because every atom and fact of the cosmos is then meaningless and also unrelated to every other fact, all facts are neutral.
The Nonsense of Neutrality
The word neutral is a curious one. It comes from the Latin neuter, meaning neither the one nor the other and has original reference to gender, i.e ., neither male nor female. It still has that meaning: a neutered man is a eunuch, a castrate.
It now has also the meaning of not taking sides and, supposedly, the law and the courts are neutral. This in itself is nonsense. No law is ever neutral. The law is not neutral about theft, assault, murder, rape, or perjury: it is emphatically against these things, or should be. Again, no good court or judge can be neutral about these things without destroying justice.
Moreover, neither the law nor the courts can be neutral with respect to a man charged with any of these crimes, or others. Rather, a good court suspends judgment pending the testimony. Neutrality posits an indifference; a suspended judgment means that any conclusion must be preceded by a rigorous examination of evidence.
The myth of neutrality prevents justice because it ascribes to the law and to the courts a character very much in conflict with their very natures. Moreover, it gives to the courts the power to falsify issues, as the United States Supreme Court habitually does. For example, in dealing with educational issues, the Court, which had declared humanism to be a religion, will not acknowledge that humanistic education, i.e., our state educational systems today, is not neutral religiously. Christian schools are held to be religious and non-neutral, but the humanistic state schools are seen as neutral.
The Greatest Violation of the First Amendment
There is a reason for this willful blindness. To admit that education is inescapably a religious task and is always non-neutral means that state schools violate the First Amendment. They are religious establishments which teach a religion alien to most citizens, and they do so with public funds. Few things in the United States are more in violation of the First Amendment than the public schools. From its inception, the public or state school system has been destructive of civil liberty and, increasingly, of Biblical faith.
For the Court to recognize this fact would require a radical re-direction of life in America. It would, moreover, require a radical change in the Court. The U.S. Supreme Court has become the Sanhedrin, Vatican, or National Council of humanism in America. It is a militant and fanatical agency of humanistic religion, and it uses its power to suppress and punish the rivals of the Federal religion. The sessions of the Court constitute a modern version of the holy war against Christendom.
At the same time, the myth of neutrality has been used to castrate theology and the churches. The American Educational Trust of Washington, D.C. recently published an atlas and almanac by John C. Kimball (The Arabs, 1983). Kimball writes:
Muslims have always believed strongly that religion concerns not only what a person believes but what he does and the interrelationships of society. Unlike Christian thought that sees a clear distinction between the secular and religious dimensions of life, Muslim thought holds that ideally the secular and spiritual belong to the same sphere. (p. 5)
This, of course, is the Biblical position, that all things are under God's law and rule, and any division of life between the religious and the non-religious is false. Because God is the Lord and Creator of all things, there is no sphere of life and thought outside His jurisdiction, government, and law. To hold that there is denies God and affirms polytheism. And this is precisely what all too many theologians have done. The resurgence of Islam is due to the revival of this premise.
Van Til's Button
The myth of neutrality is most congenial to man's fallen nature. Dr. Cornelius Van Til has pointed out that, if there were one button in all the universe, which, if man pushed, would give him a small realm of experience outside of God and in freedom from God, fallen man would always have his finger on that button.
The tragic fact is that too many churchmen assume the existence of such a button! They hold that most of life is outside God's law, and even deny the validity of God's law. They believe in effect that man must be saved in the church but can be unsaved outside of the church, in education, politics, economics, and all things else. They literally posit that most of the world is by nature to be and to remain a godless realm.
The Gilamesh epic of the Babylonians held that only a small area of life is the concern of men, who are inescapably ignorant of good and evil because the gods withheld in their own hands knowledge of most high things. This was clearly an expression of religious cynicism. Modern theology goes further: it sees God as unconcerned about most of life, and limits the province of the sacred to a small realm. In Babylon, the laws of justice came from the king, not the gods. In modern Western civilization, the laws of justice come from man, from the state: Babylon the Great is in process of construction.
Phillip Lee Ralph, in The Renaissance in Perspective (1973), said, Together with other thinkers of the age, Erasmus, More, and Machiavelli shared a conviction that, without any change in human nature or any drastic altering of institutions, the political order could be made to serve desirable human ends (75f.). In other words, the whole world is outside of God and neutral to Him, and therefore the good society can be created outside of God's salvation and His law-word and in indifference to Him. In the United States, this is the assumption of every modern State of the Union presidential address, and it is everywhere the premise of modern politics. By beginning with the premise that there are neutral spheres outside of God, man ends up by declaring God out of bounds as a concern to men. We are told that it is a matter of neutrality whether or not men believe or disbelieve in God and His law. In all such thinking, man is operating on the assumption that, by pushing this intellectual button of neutrality, the claims of God are eliminated and disappear.
The fact is, however, that God controls all the buttons! And His verdict on the myth of neutrality and all its adherents can only be judgment.
(Originally appeared inThe Roots of Christian Reconstruction [Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991], 1112-1114).
- 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.