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The Return to Barbarism

By R. J. Rushdoony
June 15, 2007

CA Farmer 238:1 (Jan. 6, 1973), p. 19.

Her home is a lovely one, in a superior neighborhood. She prides herself on being a good parent, and she insists that her two teenage children bring in every kind of schoolmate, especially the ones who are regarded as socially unacceptable, more or less delinquent, and wild. As a good liberal, this woman holds that she can help people by being good to them.

Recently, she returned home to find her place burglarized. Police said the thieves obviously knew what was in the house and where to get it. Neighbors reported that some of the usual teenagers had been around the place, but the neighbors did not know that Mrs. B—— was gone.

The woman was not angry. In fact, she was more than a little thrilled and excited by it all. She was definitely not angry at whichever teenagers were guilty. Instead, she kept saying, What drove them to it? How terrible, she maintained, that our culture drives its greatest resource, youth, to such delinquency. We are all guilty, she held, and we must all somehow make it up to our underprivileged youth. If the thieves were caught, she would not prosecute. As each day passed, she developed a progressively more self-righteous glow over submitting to evil and then calling evil good.

The sad fact is that this is not an isolated case. I have run across three like situations recently. Worse than a thief is someone who justifies a thief and calls evil good. The teenage thieves took some valuable property. The woman struck at the moral foundations of society by denying personal responsibility.

To deny personal responsibility is to turn to paganism and barbarism. The savage witch doctor, in diagnosing a sick man’s problem, held that someone had cast an evil spell on him, and whomever he named was killed. In this country, the Iroquois Indians killed many innocent Indians whenever a medicine man accused some tribal member of causing the illness of another. When liberals and sociologists blame society and our culture instead of the individual, they are turning the clock back to barbarism.

Our politicians are doing the same. They tell us society is to blame, or the parents, or our supposedly animal past, and so on. The language is supposedly scientific, but the meaning is the old barbarism of the witch doctor, of the days when a father was put to death for the crime of his son, and a child for the crime of his father. Sometimes a city was sentenced to death for the offense of one or two citizens.

As against this, the Bible declares emphatically, as law for men and nations, “every man shall be put to death [that is, suffer punishment] for his own sin” (Deut. 24:16); “every one shall die for his own iniquity” (Jer. 31:30); “[t]he fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers” (Deut. 24:16). To deny personal responsibility is to turn to paganism and barbarism.

Mrs. B—— feels that she is very enlightened and progressive. In reality, she might as well run around naked with a piece of bone through her nose. Her thinking is on the level of the savages.


Topics: Biblical Law, Statism, Justice, Philosophy, Theology, Culture , Government, Major Prophets, Pentateuch, World History

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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