Chalcedon Report No. 30, February 1, 1968
Want to subvert a social order and sound noble and beautiful doing it? It’s easy: demand love and forgiveness for everybody and everything. With “love and forgiveness” on a total basis, you can destroy all laws, empty prisons, handcuff justice, and make evil triumphant.
Unconditional love is a more revolutionary concept than any other doctrine of revolution. Unconditional love means the end of all discrimination between good and evil, right and wrong, better and worse, friend and enemy, and all things else. Whenever anyone asks you to love unconditionally, they are asking you to surrender unconditionally to the enemy.
Unconditional love is contrary to the Bible. The charge of the young prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani, to King Jehoshaphat was blunt: “Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (2 Chron. 19:2). The commandment is, “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil” (Ps. 97:10), and the prophet Amos repeated it: “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate [i.e., in the city council]” (Amos 5:15). David could therefore say of himself, in speaking of his obedience, “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Ps. 139:21–22).
We are told to love our enemies, that is, those who offend us personally on nonreligious and nonmoral issues. When the cause of division is petty and personal, we must rise above it with an attitude of law and justice; we must continue to extend to all such persons the full protection of the law from injustice, malice, and false witness. But the enemies of God’s justice and God’s law, of fundamental law and order, must not be loved. To love them is to condone their evil. The accusation of the psalmist is to the point: “When you see a thief, you delight to associate with him, and you take part with adulterers” (Ps. 50:18, Berkeley Version). What we condone morally, we also approve of or delight in. St. John forbad hospitality to those who were trying to subvert the faith: “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10–11).
Those who preach unconditional love are simply trying to disarm godly people in order that evil may triumph.
The same is true of the idea of unconditional forgiveness. Forgiveness in the Bible is always conditional upon true repentance. Unconditional forgiveness is simply the total, unconditional toleration of and acceptance of evil. It demands that we accept the criminal, the pervert, the degenerate, the subversive as they are. But to do so means that we must change. We must surrender our laws, faith, religious standards, and all godly order. The demands for unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness are demands for total change on our part, total revolution in society. They are in reality demands that we commit suicide in order that evil may live.
Anyone who subscribes to the doctrines of unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness is either a fool or a knave and very probably both. These doctrines demand a love of evil and a hatred of good, and they are aimed at the destruction of godly law and order.
This anarchistic, anti-Christian doctrine of love erodes law and brings in a breed of sentimental, antinomian (i.e., anti-law) preachers, and a breed of lawless rulers, politicians, and bureaucrats who have no regard for law and cater to feelings, and mob feelings increasingly govern them.
There are basically four kinds of politicians. First, there are the professional, practical politicians who are men without principles and who are basically interested in staying in office. There are many such men today. They respond basically to pressure and to money. Principles do not move them: self-interest does. The less godly law and order there is in an age, the more these practical politicians respond like weathervanes to pressure. They are the creatures of the establishment, of the mob, and of any and every force that blows their way: they are weathervanes.
Second, there are the idealists in politics, and I here use the word idea and idealist in its original meaning. An idealist is a man who has an idea, ideal, pattern, or goal to which he tries to push humanity. The ancient Greeks, especially Plato, were great idealists, and their legends also contain the best satire on idealism in the myth of the robber Procrustes, who either stretched his victims to fit his standard bed, or else amputated them if they were too long. This is the technique of the idealist, whether he be Marxist, Fabian, or democratic; the idealist will sacrifice man and God to achieve his ideal communist, socialist, or democratic order. The idealist, whether Plato, Rousseau, Marx, or a contemporary liberal, believes that it is the environment which is evil and man who is good. Since man is good, who is better and more trustworthy than the elite man, namely, himself, the idealist? The idealist is thus a moral monster who confuses himself with God and seeks to destroy the world in order to remake it in terms of his ideal. Since he sees no evil in himself, he is intensely dangerous. And the first step towards remaking the world is for him the destruction of God’s world, which means a dedication to revolution. Our politics today is saturated with idealism.
Third, some men enter politics in anger at the knaves who predominate in it, at the weathervanes and at the procrustean idealists. These men lack faith; they are governed by nostalgia for the past, or love of the past, not by a systematic body of principles, by a religious philosophy and faith, which guides their whole being. The longer they remain in politics, the more they become cynics. They begin with a love of country and a love of their follow citizens; they end with a contempt for their stupid fellow men. The cynic thinks of man as a pig and a dog, a fool to be conned. The next step, which he often takes unconsciously, is to become himself the con man who takes the greedy fools for everything they have. The purpose of the cynic in politics becomes, then, power, naked power, although in the early stages he does not always recognize it. Abe Ruef, the most notorious politician in California history, began as an idealist bent on reforming society and ended as a cynic who organized his powerful “System” to control the state. Napoleon, too, began as an idealist, an earnest believer in the revolution, but he changed his mind during the Egyptian campaign. He decided that men were little better than dogs, governed basically by lust, hunger, and greed, and he began to move in terms of exploiting that situation. The cynic in politics is thus a dangerous man also, and we have them with us.
Fourth, the Christian in politics is governed not by his dreams or by man’s sin, but by God’s law. His perspective is not man but God. He moves in terms of objective law, in terms of fundamental justice. His purpose is to place himself, man, and society under God, and under godly law and order. Because he believes in the sovereignty of God, he refuses to accept the sovereignty of either man or the state. He believes in limited powers and limited liberties for both man and the state, a principle early established in America by the Reverend John Cotton and basic to American constitutionalism. This, then, is the Christian in politics, a rare man these days.
In the churches, we have similar men, and the Christian is almost as rare as in politics. Some years ago, I heard a churchman, holding now one of the highest positions in a major branch of the church, describe in my presence the ideal symbol of a true church: a weathervane! (There was one on top of the very large church where he was speaking.) The weathervane, he said, meant sensitivity, and a church should be sensitive to the people and to “revolutionary ferment.” I asked him later if the weathervane did not suggest to him a symbol of spinelessness and no personal standards, no caliber of resistance to evil. He answered that he had never thought of it in that way.
But to return to love. Modern doctrines of love are simply doctrines of anarchism, of total receptivity to evil. Their purpose is to break down the differentiation between good and evil and to produce lawlessness. Modern sensitivity training has this function. It is a part of the love religion: it demands total receptivity to the world and a submission to it rather than a resistance to evil in terms of God’s law. Its goal is to teach a love of evil and a hatred of good.
The love religionists and love politicians are also strong advocates of equalitarianism and of equal rights causes. Total equality means that good and evil are on the same level and without differentiation. Evil must then have equal rights with good, and the criminal must have equal rights with the good citizen. This means that the criminal must have the same freedom to rob and kill that you want in order to support your family and worship God. Strict champions of equal rights like the Marquis de Sade (whose works are now being translated and published) demand precisely this, equal rights for the criminal, which means simply that the criminal has a right to rob and kill you, and you have a duty to submit to him, or else you will violate his rights.
The goal is total revolution. The language is love, forgiveness, and sensitivity: its function is subversion and destruction.
Solomon said it wisely long ago: “To every thing there is a season . . . A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace” (Eccles. 3:1, 8). We had better know it.
- 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.