IBL05: Fifth Commandment (Craig Press)

Principle of Authority

Speaker 1: 00:02 Exodus 22:28. Thou shalt not revile the Gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.

Speaker 1: 00:22 This verse is one of central importance. It is a very neglected verse in our day and yet there was a time when this verse was quite extensively preached. To understand the meaning of this verse, we must analyze the significance of the Gods. The word Gods here, Elohim in the Hebrew, means exactly that, Gods. Literally, this is the translation. However, if you were to examine a number of different translations, you would find that some would translate it as God. Your marginal note, if you have a Bible with marginal readings, will give it as judges. Other versions will give it as authorities. And there will be similar translations.

Speaker 1: 01:39 What is the significance of this variety of readings for the word Elohim, and the reason for it is that in terms of the context it has precisely the meaning of judges, authorities and rulers. I’ve heard himself define the word as he discussed in John 10:35, commenting on the use of the same word in Psalm 82, verses one and six. The Gods, or Elohim, meant those to whom the word of God came. That it is those who are entrusted with authority in the name of the word of God. Now then in terms of this, how are we to read this verse? It means any person of authority. It means officials in civil government. It means teachers. It means authorities in the church. And it means, above all us, parents.

Speaker 1: 03:04 Parents. This is why this particular law is classified under the head of the Fifth Commandment, “Honor they father and thy mother.” Thou shalt not revile the Gods or the authorities, nor curse the ruler of thy people. Of course this particular commandment is very much neglected today and there is a reason. In our day and age, statused education and statused intervention into the family have led to the breakdown of the family. The recent part of course is that the modern state is challenging the historic definition of authority, an authority in terms of the scripture is vested primarily in the family. This does not mean there are not higher authorities, but it means that basic authority, the writ authority, is the authority of the father and then of the mother, of the family.

Speaker 1: 04:28 A little analysis will very quickly reveal to us that the child’s first school is the home. The child’s first state or government is the home. The child’s first church is the home. The child’s first vocation is the home, the responsibilities he is given in the home. So that basically all authority stems from the pattern of authority that is laid down in the home. And when there is a rebellion against the authority of the home, there is a rebellion across the boards, in church, state, school, in every area of life. Thus it is that theologians through the centuries have taught obedience to civil magistery and to all duly constituted authorities under the heading of the Fifth Commandment. And in terms of this law, thou shalt not revile the authorities, nor curse the ruler of thy people. The matter has been summed up by one writer, Meredith, in these words, and I quote, “In the eyes of a small child, a parent stands in the place of God Himself, where the parent is the child’s provider, protector, teacher and law giver,” unquote.

Speaker 1: 06:17 This is rightly so. All authorities involved in parental authority, and the destruction of the family leads to anarchy in all society. It is no wonder that after a couple of generations of permissive education and permissive parental teaching, we have precisely what we have today in the schools and on the streets. Growing anarchy. The root of all anarchy has been cut by undercutting the authority of the home. And one of the first and foremost facts we must realize about the present student revolution is that it is a revolution against parent authority. It takes a particular delight in assaulting and despising parental authority. And yet in the face of all this, John D. Rockefeller III can say as he did about a week or two weeks ago, he is incidentally 62 years old and I quote, “Instead of worrying about how to suppress the youth revolution, we as the older generation should be worrying about how to sustain it,” unquote.

Speaker 1: 07:45 Now Rockefeller asks us to sustain and accept certain things. First, the premise that youth have the right to govern and control other people’s properties. Because he was commenting about what’s going on in the colleges and universities and on the streets. Do the students have any right to govern the colleges and universities? It’s not their property. They go there on a contract. Their tuition is payment for delivery of certain teachings. They have no right to complain about what they’re getting. If they don’t like it, they can shop elsewhere. It is a legal transaction. They are on other people’s premises. If they don’t like the goods in that store, they can go to another store. And the school is selling something as surely as any other agency.

Speaker 1: 08:52 The student is there on the school’s terms whether as a student or an instructor. There is a property right in the school, which he cannot violate. It is coercion to hold otherwise. But Rockefeller says this coercion is good. Second, the goal of the student revolution is amoral power, it is anarchism. And over and over again, and the student leaders have stated that what they want is a clean sweep, their words, and a fresh start, their words. For this anarchism is the result of modern education and the neglect of family law. Now the biblical law calls for obedience, true obedience, unquestioning and prompt on the part of children. They are to obey their parents in the Lord.

Speaker 1: 09:55 But the humanistic mind today challenges this kind of obedience as destructive of the mind of the child, and we are told over and over again, “How can we have an intelligent youth if they are to obey their parents in this kind of prompt and unquestioning obedience?” In fact, one writer, a churchman, Ross Snyder, writing on young people and their culture says that, quote, “Young people of our time are quite convinced that they are meant to be right now, and in all the fullness possible for them at their period of development,” unquote. Now to translate this into English, and to translate the rest of his statement, which is too long to give in English, what they are demanding is instant realization of all their utopian hopes, paradise now.

Speaker 1: 11:05 Now this demand for instant realization is the mark of a child, of an infant. A baby, the minute it is hungry, cries. It doesn’t say I’ll wait until morning so mother and dad can sleep in. It cries. The minute it wants to void its bladder or its bowels, it voids them. And the process of maturity, of training, is to teach it that it eats at stated times, that it controls its natural functions, that it cannot have instant realization, instant gratification on demand. But when youth is reared permissively, it will retain this demand for instant gratification, and it will retain this childish rage at not being gratified. Have you seen a young child, a baby, that wants to be fed and the bottle isn’t brought promptly? And how it turns red with anger and rage as it cries. It’s not just crying, it’s raging. And this type of infantile rage characterizes the student revolution today.

Speaker 1: 12:48 It demands instant realization. Things must be right now. They demand paradise and the world must deliver it. It is significant, and it’s indicative of how far strained modern psychiatry is today that no one has commented about this. But if these various student incidents on college campuses, and especially the march on Washington and the Pentagon. People who are there have reported, and only a little bit of this has crept into the papers, of the vast amount of public urination and defecation by these students. And one man who works in the Pentagon told me, he said, “You would have to see it to believe it.” And the childish glee with which they did these things. Is it any wonder that a permissive generation is brought up into this kind of thing so that they act like two-week old babies when they are 20 and 24? But this is the essence of the revolutionary mind.

Speaker 1: 14:20 It is childish. It demands instant utopia, and it rages at the idea of obeying authorities, obeying parents, honoring parents and honoring authorities. The words of this go deep. They go back to the enlightenment in its early days and to John Locke, who lay down the psychology of humanism. John Locke formulated the clean tablet, the clean slate concept of the mind. True education, he said, involves wiping the mind free of all pre-conceived notions, that is anything the parents have taught, and the church has taught. Anything that society has passed on to the child, so that education must be revolutionary, it must destroy everything in the child’s background and having destroyed that, then begin to fill the mind of fresh. In other words, there must be a studied ruthlessness. The child must have his family and religious and social background blasted out of existence. Then add to this, Rousseau’s concept of the natural man and all forms of inheritance from the past, or by Rousseau treated as chains which had to be broken. The essence of sin is the past, the inheritance that people foist onto the natural man.

Speaker 1: 15:57 And so the natural man must be like a savage. He must have no inheritance from the past. Then Darwin came along and said that which is a part of the past, the parents and their teaching, represents a lower stage of evolution, and so each generation represents a link upward, and therefore the higher link must despise the lower link. Marx and Freud then drew the logical conclusions from Locke, Rousseau and Darwin. As a result, the discipline of the past must give way to the will of the moment, and in every area of life, we have seen this movement. In education and in child-rearing, of course, it has been very rigorously fostered by educators and child psychologists and psychiatrists as the best way of educating children. In art, discipline in art has given way to the spontaneous and to the unconscious, and religion experiences everything and the Bible is despised.

Speaker 1: 17:17 In politics, authority comes from below, from the spontaneous, from the unconscious, from the masses and their revolutionary rage. In music, undisciplined emotionalism has given way to a disciplined concept of music. But we must say as Christians that the best functioning mind is the disciplined, the obedient mind. The child who is disciplined becomes the free man. He is best in command of himself, best able to command. We have forgotten how mature children once were, and how early maturity was once reached.

Speaker 1: 18:17 I’d like to read a couple passages from Dr. van den Berg of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who has written some very stimulating things in the history of psychology. And in his book, “The Changing Nature of Man,” he has pointed out how the child is now no longer what he once was. In fact, our idea of the child is a modern idea. He quotes, for example, from Montaigne who describes what education was in his day. This is what Montaigne said.

Speaker 1: 18:59 “A few years of life are reserved for education, not more than the first 15 or 16. Make good use of these years, adult, if you wish to educate the child to the right of maturity. These are superfluous matters. If you want to do something constructive, confront the child with philosophical discourses, those that are not too complicated, of course, yet those that are worth explaining. Treat these discourses in detail. The child is capable of digesting this matter, that is philosophical discourses from the moment it is weaned. A child will, in any case, be able to stand philosophical discourses much better than an attempt to teach it, to read and to write. This had better wait a little while.”

Speaker 1: 19:54 That’s an amazing statement, is it not? You begin to instruct the child in philosophy when it is weaned and a little later, you teach it to read and write. But we know from puritan and colonial America, that children were taught to read and write between the ages of two and four, depending on how quick they were to learn. Now van den Berg goes on to give illustrations of children of that time, and I shall read his description of two. And he cites the life of Theodore Agrippa d’Aubigne, Huguenot, friend of Henry IV, born in 1550.

Speaker 1: 20:44 “Of d’Aubigne has told that he read Greek, Latin and Hebrew when he was six years old, and that he translated Plato in French when he was not yet eight. Plato. Montaigne recommended the reading and explaining of philosophical discourses to children, well as an eight year old child can translate Plato. What objection can there be to reading a translated version to him when he is four. When d’Aubigne was still eight years old, he went through the town of [Vanbroad 00:21:16] accompanied by his father, just after a group of Huguenots had been executed. He saw the decapitated bodies and at the request of his father, he swore an oath to avenge them.

Speaker 1: 21:29 Two years later, he was captured by an inquisitor. The ten-year old boy’s reaction to the threat of death at the stake was a dance of joy before the fire. The whole of the mass took away his fear of the fire was his own later comment, as if a ten-year old boy could know what he meant by that. And yet, a child who has translated Plato and was been used to reading the classics for four years, could not such a child know what he wants and know what he is doing that he can hardly be called a child. A person who observes the effects of an execution intelligently who swears an oath to which he remains true through life realizes for himself the interpretation of the Holy Communion and who fathoms the horror of death at the stake, he is not a child, he is a man.”

Speaker 1: 22:23 Then van den Berg cites another child, Blaise Pascal, born in 1623, wrote when he was 12 years old, without assistance a credos on sound, which was taken seriously by expert contemporaries. At about the same time, he happened to hear the word mathematics. He asked his father what it meant, and he was given the following incomplete answer, incomplete because his father was afraid that an interest in mathematics might diminish his interest in other science.

Speaker 1: 22:59 “Mathematics about which I shall tell you more later on, is the science which occupies itself with the construction of perfect figures and the discovery of the properties they contain.” Young Pascal brooded over this answer during his hours of leisure, and unassisted, he constructed circles and triangles, which led him to the discovery of the sort of properties his father must have meant. For instance, that the sum of the angles of a triangle equal two right angles and so on.

Speaker 1: 23:32 Now one might say these were child prodigies, and yet the interesting thing is how many of the great musicians of that period were child prodigies? And how many of the ordinary people matured at the same age? Consider the Constitutional Convention in this country. Go through and list the ages of those men at the time of the Constitutional Convention, and they were a surprisingly youthful group. Franklin was the old man of the group and Washington was far older than most of them. The average person there was a generation or so younger than Washington. They were young men. Not only were they young men in their 30s, but most of them had been military officers, judges, governors for a number of years. They reached maturity in their teens because there was a different concept of discipline. And we can see many of us from our own knowledge of people who are today in their 70s and 80s, or our parents.

Speaker 1: 24:56 The greater discipline that was there. In other words, the best functioning mind is the disciplined mind, and the child who is disciplined becomes the free man because he is best in command of himself and best able to command others. Thus, the commandment, “Thou shalt not revile the Gods, the authorities, nor curse the ruler of thy people. Honor thy father and thy mother.” Honor all authorities is thus a commandment that does most well to development of man. We must further say that the Fifth Commandment as it speaks of parent, and their authority, is establishing first and last God’s authority. All rulers, parents, churchmen, politicians, teachers, masters, are sinners. God knows this. God is not interested in establishing sinners. Because he is not interested in establishing sinners, he expelled Adam and Eve from Eden and throughout history has overturned all authorities that rule contrary to his work.

Speaker 1: 26:28 But God’s way of disestablishing sinners and establishing His law order is to require that authorities be obeyed. Vengeance, judgment, his minds that the Lord I will repay. This obedience that we must render to all duly constituted authorities under God, is first of all to God, and a part of the establishment of God’s order. Sin leads to revolutionary anarchy, Godly obedience to Godly order. Thou shalt not revile the authorities. Let us pray.

Speaker 1: 27:24 Our Lord and our God, we thank thee, the fine law order governs all things. Thou has called us to be obedient to thy law order. Give us grace, therefore day by day to walk in obedience to thee. Obeying all authorities under thee. Obeying above all else thee and thy work. Make us strong in obedience, faithful in the exercise of authority, ever prompt and willing in thy service. Bless us to this purpose in Jesus name. Amen.

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.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder