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The Two Ten Commandments

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He instituted thereby the laws to govern man’s relationship to God and to his fellow men.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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(Reprinted from Bread Upon the Waters: Columns from the California Farmer [Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1974], 31–32.)

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He instituted thereby the laws to govern man’s relationship to God and to his fellow men. The first four commandments govern worship. The other six govern the family, property, man’s speech and testimony (“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour”), and the heart of man (“Thou shalt not covet”). With the triumph of Christianity in the Western world, these laws became basic to all society, and the result was Christian civilization.

In 1847, however, another set of ten commandments for man and society were proclaimed by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto. It was a program stated deliberately in ten points in order to provide the “new law” for mankind, to replace the Bible and its Ten Commandments. Marx’s new “ten commandments” called for (1) abolition of private property in land; (2) the income tax; (3) abolition of all right of inheritance; (4) confiscation of all property of rebels and emigrants; (5) a national bank monopoly and concentration and centralization of credit in its hands; (6) state control of communications and transport; (7) state ownership of factories and instruments of production; (8) equal liability of all to labor and establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture; (9) combination of agriculture with industry and the abolition of the distinction between town and country; (10) free education, plus child labor as a part of education. The result, Marx believed, would be a wonderful and happy world.

Except for Marx’s call for a new form of child labor, all his “ten commandments” are now in part or in whole in operation. The Communist Manifesto is a better description of our political goals than party platforms. But, the closer we get to Marx’s communist heaven on earth, the more it resembles hell.

In every society, there must be a basic law, a fundamental law that establishes right and wrong. This the Ten Commandments has done for Western civilization for centuries. It has made God the ultimate law-giver, the Judge of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments has made worship, family, property, and moral integrity basic to man and society. It has been the foundation of our legal systems, as T.R. Ingram has shown in The World Under God’s Law.

What Marx wanted, and what modern politics is doing, is to break up Christian civilization to create a new order, one based neither on God nor on godly character, law, and morality, but on environmentalism. Man is not a sinner, Marx believed, and it is not man’s fault that he fails: it is his environment. Change the environment, change the world, and you will change man, and the result will be paradise on earth.

Two law systems are at war today, two sets of Ten Commandments. One offers man the good life through faith, godly morality, and law. The other offers the good life through changing the environment, that is, by revolutionary action. For the Christian, the environment can only truly be changed as men are changed, and these men then remake their world and place it under God’s law. For the Marxist, men are changed by changing the environment because man is only a reflex of his environment, not a lord over it. Between these two positions there can be no peace nor any coexistence.

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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