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Why I Am Reformed

Over the years, I have often been asked what made me a Calvinist, and now the Chalcedon staff has asked that I write an answer to this question.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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Over the years, I have often been asked what made me a Calvinist, and now the Chalcedon staff has asked that I write an answer to this question. In part, I answered that question in my appendix to By What Standard? many years ago. Basically, the answer is this: I am a Calvinist because God made me so in his mercy and predestinating power.

Thus in a sense, I was born a Calvinist. Again, I was baptized a covenant child. My Armenian heritage reinforced this fact. From my earliest years, my memories were of the arrival of friends and relatives from the old county. Numerous meetings with them followed in the three-county area as others met with them to ask about their own loved ones. Some would be told that their loved ones were seen floating dead in a stream, or seized by Turkish and Kurdish forces. This and more told me that this world is a battle between two forces. We were ordained to victory, our Faith assured us, but at a price.

The Bible in this context was a military book, our King's orders to us, his people. As soon as I could read, I read the Bible over and over again. It did not occur to me to doubt anything it said. I did not understand all that I read, but I understood enough to know that the King's word was to be believed and obeyed.

Years later, as a graduate student, I was asked by another if I really took the Westminster Standards literally, so I reread them. It made me more aware of what a Reformed believer is, and more clear in my grasp of the line of division.

At the time, of course, much that passed for the Reformed Faith or Calvinism was vague and compromising. Much of it was simply a more "dignified" fundamentalism. This is where Dr. Cornelius Van Til was so important. He clarified, restored, and developed the Reformed Faith. He settled and shaped my own faith and direction. I cannot overstate his influence, nor the strength he gave me in my development and direction.

It was the Lord who made me Reformed in his sovereign grace and mercy, in his predestinating power and grace. In youth, his directing power made clear to me that a believer is a doer, and so I gained a vocation.

Being a Reformed believer is very easy: You go with the flow of history, you go with God as against man. Being an unbeliever is what is hard, painfully hard. I have known well enough unbelievers to know how true this is. Life then has no meaning, and we are empty of any truth or purpose. There is then no victory in history, and life is barren of purpose.

The Reformed Faith tells me that there are no meaningless facts, no brute factuality, to use Van Til's term, in God's creation. I live in a cosmos of universal and blessed meaning. True, it is at present a battlefield between two alien powers, but the victory of our Lord is assured.

My place in that battle and that victory are all of grace — a privilege. It has brought me my share of problems, but my life has been a rich one compared to the many relatives and ancestors who died for the Faith.

Chalcedon was founded to further our victory in Christ. It amazes me that prominent churchmen actually see my faith in that fullness of victory as wrong. I pity their lack of faith, and I pray they will change.

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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