You have a problem with authority. You may not dress or act the part and, in fact, may consider yourself to be quite traditional and conservative, but you are a rebel at heart. We all are.
It is God’s authority with which we have a problem. Scripture makes it quite clear that man’s problem is sin and that the nature of man’s first sin in Eden was his quest to “be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). All sin is a consequence of that first sinful desire to think, speak, and act as gods. That impudence is the basis of our sin nature. Sin is exerting our authority and law over God and His law.
Redemption is our rescue from the consequences of our sin nature. Justification is the change in our legal status; we become, by grace, the just or righteous. Regeneration is the moral change that accompanies justification; we are “born again” as “new creatures in Christ.” The redeemed man thus has undergone a legal and moral change that is increasingly manifest. This progressive growth is sanctification. It is because the justified man is regenerated, or empowered, by God that righteousness is always associated with the justified man. Obedience to God is the mark of the man whose status has been changed in justification and whose moral direction has been radically altered in regeneration.
Original sin is not removed from the believer in this life, however. We all still struggle with that desire to play god, to defy God’s authority in the name of our own. This is the essence of humanism, man’s desire to be sovereign, to be the authority who decides matters for himself. All claims to authority that are not based on God’s are rebellion. Even man’s assent to God’s law is insufficient, for it can presume the need for a human approval of God’s law-word. To say murder is evil because it violates the rights of man is thus to claim a different source of moral authority than God, one that can change with the view of either “man” or “rights.” Nazis, Marxists, Muslims, Hindus, and Christians all have different views of man and hence of rights. Once man is the authority who defines and recognizes rights, a godless ethic is already in place.
When it comes to the issue of authority, there are only two choices: theism (God-centered) or humanism (man-centered). Every rejection of the theism of Biblical Christianity represents a backsliding into humanism and its origin in the first sin in Eden.
Repeatedly God declares, “I am the Lord thy God.” Repeatedly He calls His law “my judgments” or “my statutes.” Humanism counters with man’s will and man’s laws. It places its authority in either collective mankind or the individual. Those who look to collective man believe that authority is in the “will of the people,” the “democratic process,” or the state as the collective voice of the people. Those who look to the individual as the source of authority emphasize the rights of individual man rather than of mankind. Humanism has most often been argued based upon either man’s reason, natural law as defined by autonomous man, or as a necessary corollary of scientific naturalism. The sinner is naturally a humanist who puts himself and his authority over God. To the words of Scripture he can always respond, “But I think …” Even churchmen are ingenious in devising theologies that discount God’s authoritative law-word in favor of their own.
The choice of Scripture is that of obedience and blessing or sin and judgment. We have a problem with God’s authority, and our sin nature makes sin always sound like a valid alternative. It is not.
Christians, of all people, need to lose their attitude before God. Once we really believe He is the Lord our God, we will see the necessity of obedience to His Word rather than our own.
- Mark R. Rushdoony
Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.
He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.
In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at www.chalcedon.edu.
He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.
Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.