A Christian Survey of World History

Why History is Important, II

*This is an unedited and unoffical print version of R.J. Rushdoony’s lecture.

Speaker 1: 00:01 He therefore classified the whole of the animal world, a major task. He tilled and dressed the garden, an agricultural task. He thus very quickly developed the basic skills to maintain life and to live in terms of a reasonable command of knowledge. Thus, you have to say Adam indeed was a remarkable person.

Speaker 1: 00:32 Then you have to recognize Adam began at the beginning with all the potentialities, all the genetic abilities of the human race concentrated and unformed so that there was a clear mind of a high degree of intelligence unaffected by sin so that he could very readily grapple with his problems.

Speaker 1: 01:01 A very interesting point that I read recently written by a psychologist who is a [inaudible 00:01:09] humanist, but a very good scholar. In his book he says, “The problem with modern man is not a lack of intelligence, but inner conflict and tension which makes him unable to use his intelligence.” Then he went on to say, “One of the things that characterizes most people,” and he said, “The more people are free to work the way they want to work, the harder it becomes for them to work.” Why? They will sit down, and he cites the example of writers who will sharpen their pencils and arrange the paper on the desk and stall endlessly before getting down to work, although they know what to say. Or people who will stall on doing a job. He says, “Man’s psychological tensions are so great that he is unable to get directly to what he has to do.” We’re all familiar with the fact that if we’re upset, it’s hard for us to settle down to work.

Speaker 1: 02:23 Well, looking at what he says in terms of our perspective, we have to say that he is simply calling attention to the fact that the sinner is not able to function effectively because the fact of his sin so disturbs and troubles his mind that he is continually at war with himself. Now, this problem was not present in Adam. This problem will not be present in us in the new creation. We will then function perfectly. Yes?

Speaker 2: 03:06 I can remember [inaudible 00:03:08] describing how in the midst of children and human [inaudible 00:03:21] and had more responsibilities than they do today, and also they learned so much more faster and were doing prodigious feats [inaudible 00:03:24] Then also, I can see even now that a child can [inaudible 00:03:36] for a couple of years might be performing a more complicated work and with more discipline and more understanding than what 30 years later in the world of making a big salary. So in terms of this and in terms of creationism, [inaudible 00:03:55] in the aspect of [inaudible 00:03:58] and so forth. Can you imagine a different way of education or a different form that education would take for the rearing of the young?

Speaker 1: 04:08 Yes. You, in effect, have stated it. As you’ve said I have, on other occasions, called attention to the fact that a couple of centuries ago and almost to the Civil War on this country, it was very common for young boys to have a capacity, and girls, for knowledge far beyond what even college graduates assimilate today. In those days, a person who went to college or university at the age of 14 or 15, having finished everything that we’ve now considered grade and high school work, probably about 13 or 14 at the latest. Moreover, they were mature much earlier, and I’ve cited the example a couple times before, but it’s good and bears repeating, since a few of you have not heard it, of Admiral Farragut. Who, at the age of 59, was a 50-year veteran in the U.S. Navy. He entered at nine as a cabin boy. In his day, men commanded ships before they were out of their teens. Many scholars were mathematicians and scholars working or managing businesses before they were out of their teens. You had, then, a Christian concept of man, and man being Christian, was better self-disciplined and better able to function. But as you have had the development of humanism, you have had the coddling, on the one hand, of children, and they remain babies much longer and boys and girls much longer, and you have their inability to function. Now, Christian education will progressively bring the age of maturity lower and lower so that, again, maturity will be something that people have in their teens, or when they hit their teens. So it will make a difference. Man will have a different concept of himself under his past, present, and future. Now, the goal, of course, is, as I pointed out before, perpetual childhood, as it were.

Speaker 1: 06:40 Yes?

Speaker 3: 06:41 Recently on [inaudible 00:06:43] a young woman from England [inaudible 00:06:49]

Speaker 1: 06:47 Yes.

Speaker 3: 06:58 And all in the name of the science and the programs [inaudible 00:06:58] seems that, now one of her favorite foods were termites that they got out of the ground, and they fashioned the tool, no less, which was a twig off the tree, taking the leaves off, poking it in the ground to get the termites and eat them. Now, somehow they felt that this was a link between the chimpanzees and man, so this is now proven [crosstalk 00:07:32] toolmakers.

Speaker 1: 07:31 Yes, there’s a book written about the work of this girl among the chimpanzees. Well, you see, if you have an inadequate definition of man or a false definition, what do you come up with? [inaudible 00:07:44] some scholars have said for a long time, man is a toolmaking animal. The chimp makes a tool. It’s just a little twig. Therefore, the chimp is probably a man. Now, if like the definition I’ve cited once, man is a two-legged animal, then chickens are men too. You see what happens with them? They begin with a false definition and they wind up with a false conclusion.

Speaker 1: 08:13 Something else on TV, twice this week, [Buckley’s 00:08:18] interview of B.F. Skinner has been on the air. Did anyone listen to that? One person.

Speaker 1: 08:26 Oh, two. B.F. Skinner is a Harvard psychologist, a behaviorist. He has written a book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity. It’s behaviorism, and I think the best statement of behaviorism was by John Broadus Watson, and I have a chapter on him in my book, The Messianic Character of American Education. His whole point of view is that we cannot talk about man as being responsible. He said, “The older perspective, the Christian one, was that a man sinned. He was responsible for this and that,” and he said, “Then the newer, liberal perspective was that you weren’t responsible. It was your parents’ fault or it was your teachers’ fault or the communities’ fault.” He said, “This is still a hangover of the old idea of responsibility, but what we have to say is that man is just a series of reflex actions so that you cannot say he is responsible. You cannot say he is guilty. You cannot, in fact, talk about his freedom. In fact, we have to develop a society which is beyond freedom and beyond dignity. We have to condition men totally.”

Speaker 1: 09:39 Of course, there are ways of conditioning men. You can condition them by planting electrodes in their brain. If it comes to that, maybe they’ll do it to all of us. But of course, Skinner feels there are easier ways that can be used to control everybody, and a handful of men and, he admits, he is a man who has an urge to dominant others, a handful of men like B.F. Skinner will rule the rest of us, you see, for our own good. We will be automatons, that’s it, or robots, human robots, controlled. They’ll pull the strings for our welfare, because we are not truly responsible. That’s a myth. This is the only way to save the world in the future. Now, B.F. Skinner is not a Johnny-come-lately or a nobody. He’s a very powerful man. If you go to a job, most major corporations, the test you take is a test planned by B.F. Skinner. So it’s going to eliminate most of you, unless you’re a good liar. That is, is the truth. The tests are designed by Skinner to eliminate people like yourself.

Speaker 1: 10:58 On top of that, he is very, very influential in his thinking as far as Washington is concerned. Now, he has a view concerning the past, which eliminates Christianity as a myth. Therefore, he has a plan for the future, to eliminate over population, to eliminate our ecological problems, and so on, absolutely controlling us in every respect. We’re not fit to control ourselves. Here is the plan for the future. Your plan and mine runs counter to it.

Speaker 1: 11:38 The issue is going to be decided in terms of who has the most people on their side, he’s won. But if there’s an absolute truth about history, God, then B.F. Skinner is on a collision course, is he not? He’s going to run smack dab into Almighty God, and I don’t think it’s going to be God who’s going to give in to Skinner.

Speaker 1: 12:05 Yes?

Speaker 1: 12:12 Yes, I’d like to have that if you have a copy.

Speaker 5: 12:14 I’m sorry, I don’t have it. I wish I had it.

Speaker 5: 12:14 It was a couple of weeks ago.

Speaker 5: 12:14 No, LA Times.

Speaker 1: 12:30 Ah. Well, of course, my question to these people is, if this is so good, your plans for putting electrodes in everybody’s head so that you can control them from a master panel, let’s go ahead and do it and turn it over to me. Let me control you. Course, then it becomes a different story, you see. It’s good if they do it.

Speaker 1: 12:53 Yes?

Male: 12:53 The whole idea is people lived [inaudible 00:13:05] why do they want to have [inaudible 00:13:14] control?

Speaker 1: 13:13 Yes.

Male: 13:14 It is what it is. The whole conception is one of evolutionary [inaudible 00:13:14] Anyone who has any common sense at all can immediately spot it. But these people just put it out. Have you read yet this review of [inaudible 00:13:22] book by [inaudible 00:13:22]

Speaker 1: 13:21 Yes, except I don’t like [inaudible 00:13:23]

Male: 13:23 I don’t care about his conclusion, but I think-

Speaker 1: 13:31 Because I think the weakness with [inaudible 00:13:34] is, and it’s a deadly weakness, he believes that these people, what they say, first of all, and he believes that they can do what they say they can do. So he is their number one convert without realizing it.

Speaker 1: 13:47 Yes, any other questions? Yes?

Female: 13:47 [inaudible 00:13:47] seminary, you talked a little bit about social science. You quoted [inaudible 00:14:03]

Speaker 1: 14:06 Yes, social science is the science of the control of man by man. Therefore, social science has replaced history in our schools because they no longer believe in history, but they believe in social science. They study history with a view to manipulating man in order to gain the social order they want.

Female: 14:30 So it’s not your opinion [inaudible 00:14:34]

Speaker 1: 14:36 No, it is not a legitimate subject in any Christian curriculum. It is a humanistic perspective. Social science is the attempt to control man, and the science that we study of man for purposes of control. Yes?

Female: 15:12 [inaudible 00:15:12] social studies [inaudible 00:15:12] two together, I’d take that life. And now, I call them at all the humanities.

Speaker 1: 15:12 Yes.

Speaker 1: 15:15 The state [inaudible 00:15:15] the changeover was the social studies in ’37, and then it became social science, of course, and now it is called the humanities. More and more it’s absorbed into the subject of the humanities, all a part of the whole thing, social science perspective, but broadened to include English and other subjects.

Speaker 1: 15:41 Yes?

Female: 15:42 So often that [inaudible 00:15:44]

Speaker 1: 15:49 True.

Female: 15:50 Do we need it and why haven’t we [inaudible 00:15:51]

Speaker 1: 15:51 The question is, the encyclopedias are humanistic, which they are. Why don’t we have a Christian encyclopedia? Encyclopedia represents one of the most important victories and ideas of the humanists. The French encyclopedists were the humanists who were anti-Christian [inaudible 00:16:20] they decided that the thing to do would be to put out an encyclopedia of all existing knowledge, which would be totally anti-Christian, totally humanistic. Since then, all encyclopedias have followed the same basic program. They vary in the extent to which they are revolutionary in their presuppositions that all encyclopedias, the Britannica and every other one have, as their purpose, to promote a kind of knowledge which says, in a fact, we must have a social order in which man controls man and controls everything, and you have that kind of society without God, without an absolute law, with man’s control of man.

Speaker 1: 17:19 The reason why you haven’t had a Christian encyclopedia is lack of funds. To prepare an encyclopedia requires a few million dollars at the very least. It’s a major undertaking. At this point, there hasn’t been anyone to come forward to put up money for such a thing, nor has there been through the years. That’s the problem.

Female: 17:48 Then it would [inaudible 00:17:49]

Speaker 1: 17:49 Yes. As a matter of fact, most of your texts … Well, your textbooks today and your encyclopedias probably as well, represent federal subsidies. We don’t realize it, but when the state of California chooses a textbook, it chooses a textbook, or if it offers a school a choice of two or three or four, these are from choices submitted by the federal government from textbooks that the federal government subsidized. This is why the textbooks are such beautiful things today as compared to the textbooks of 40 years ago. There are unlimited funds almost to make possible these beautiful textbooks with magnificent illustrations and maps, charts, everything. The modern science, history, and other textbooks, English textbooks, are really gems. They’re works of art, apart from the content. But they are magnificent and expensive products.

Female: 18:54 Couldn’t they [inaudible 00:18:55] have [inaudible 00:19:02]

Speaker 1: 19:03 Yes, but who wants to put up the money for it?

Female: 19:07 In other words, you can’t get the money?

Speaker 1: 19:09 I tried a few years ago to get a number of wealthy people who claim to be Christian interested in a program of textbook writing. I knew where there were the Christian schoolteachers who were ready to do it, but none of them could be bothered.

Speaker 1: 19:24 Yes?

Male: 19:27 In spite of what you said, would there be [inaudible 00:19:29] bit of value in [inaudible 00:19:34] It seems like I can remember [inaudible 00:19:34] an article about Christianity is [inaudible 00:19:38] was beautiful. I would describe … I don’t remember what the [inaudible 00:19:46] prejudiced in that way. I came out of it feeling that it was written by a person of great faith and understanding.

Speaker 1: 19:58 Some of the older encyclopedias have some articles that are acceptable, but the basic perspective is still humanistic.

Speaker 1: 20:08 Yes, any other comments or questions? Yes?

Female: 20:13 How does Macaulay as an historian read?

Speaker 1: 20:17 Macaulay?

Female: 20:19 Yes.

Speaker 1: 20:20 Macaulay wrote some very interesting and moving volumes on English history. I like them. But the modern scholars are very hostile to them because there is a Christian perspective in Macaulay. So if you have Macaulay, read him. You’ll enjoy him. Basically, he is quite trustworthy. In fact, there are things you can get in Macaulay’s History of England that you cannot get elsewhere. You’ll never encounter some of the data he has in his books in any other book.

Female: 20:59 How is that name spelled?

Speaker 1: 21:02 William Babington Macaulay, M-A-C-A-U-L-A-Y.

Male: 21:06 Isn’t that Thomas Babington?

Speaker 1: 21:09 Thomas, excuse me, Thomas Babington Macaulay. Nowadays, if you read anything about Macaulay, it shows nothing but scorn and contempt for him.

Speaker 1: 21:22 Yes?

Female: 21:22 I’m considering [inaudible 00:21:23] confuse me. I don’t want to read [inaudible 00:21:27]

Speaker 1: 21:28 Yes, Nesta Webster’s French Revolution is her best work. It is her most trustworthy work. It is an unequal study of the French Revolution. Now, if it has a weakness, it is that it emphasizes the conspiratorial aspect, which is still true, more than the fact that you had a moral degeneration and a sinful situation. This is the one shortcoming. You see, you had a radical class of both Huguenots and the Catholics in France before the French Revolution became possible. In fact, you had both sides coming out strongly for the Revolution. This is why after the Revolution, both Protestants and Catholics were, for all practical intent, dead in France. They were so morally compromised. It was their failure and the generations before the Revolution that helped make it possible. Some of their clergymen were leading members of the revolutionary movement. This aspect, you see, she doesn’t touch on, but what she does deal with is excellent.

Speaker 1: 22:52 Yes?

Female: 22:53 Could you elaborate a little bit more on the pre-millennial [inaudible 00:22:57]

Speaker 1: 22:59 Yes, the pre- millennial position has been very popular since the latter part of the last century until World War II. It is not as strong as it has been since. The pre-millennial position says that there is no open history, and basically the only thing to do is to wait for the Second Coming when Christ will come and establish a Jewish empire which will rule the entire world with Himself as King. Now, that’s the pre-millennial perspective. The source of it is from Darby, a Church of England clergyman, of rather peculiar tendencies, out of whom came the Plymouth Brethren and his most prominent disciple, as it were, was Scofield, whose edition of the Bible has notes in it which propagate this point of view. There are so many contradictions in Scofield’s notes because he, in effect, makes the cross an afterthought on the part of our Lord and salvation through His atoning work, not basic, and holds that the temple and the temple sacrifices will be revived, and so on. That, for years, they’ve been working on a revision. They have one edition of it out, and they’re not satisfied with it. The contradictions are too great. The movement is splintering some. Its basic stronghold is still the Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.

Speaker 1: 24:50 Yes?

Speaker 1: 25:05 Let’s see.

Female: 25:06 [inaudible 00:25:06] there’s two cars sitting there and the old folks are in the modern roadster and [inaudible 00:25:07] in an antique car.

Speaker 1: 25:07 Right. That’s very well-done, because you see, when you have a despair of history, as you do among the youth today, there’s a flight from history and its problems. Thus you have the revolt against technology. I’ll deal with this in the next [inaudible 00:25:27] report, which characterizes modern youth. There is a great deal of truth in ecology, but there’s a great deal of nonsense in it too. They are carrying a revolt against technology to the point of trying to return to primitive. So they want to farm with hoes as though that’s the answer. They can’t grow anything that way. They’ve become childish play actors. They wear clothes that are something out of the movies about the pioneer women and the frontiersmen, and they’ll go barefooted or wearing sandals. It’s all a primitivism, a flight from history, you see. This is one reason why there is such a interest in things old now. Well, that’s good to the extent that it helps preserve part of the past, but it is sick in that they’re running away from the present and the future. They don’t like what it has to say.

Speaker 1: 26:24 This morning Dorothy had a discussion with a young woman whose father has just recently retired as a professor of political science. What is he doing? Now that he’s retired, he refuses to read even the daily paper because he is so sure there’s nothing ahead but disaster. He doesn’t want to face anything and he wants to die in peace, although it may be a long ways ahead before he dies. But he doesn’t want to know what’s going on in the world today. This is what is characterizing man more and more.

Speaker 1: 27:02 Of course, one of the most common forms of escape that men have taken in every period of a collapse, when a faith has collapsed in a civilization, is in sex. You run away from it. When men have no faith, their reaction to disaster is to try to lose themselves in a wild, frenetic sexuality. As a result, when the San Francisco earthquake hit the Bay Area, the lines at the houses of prostitution were blocks and blocks long. This happens every time you have a disaster. Why? Because men are running away from reality, and the bars, of course, to [inaudible 00:27:55] at a time of a disaster. So they use liquor and sex as an escape. This is why you’re seeing the same thing today, the rise in alcoholism, the flight to drugs, wild, frenetic sexuality. It’s all a flight from problems, a flight from the future. And such people cannot create a future, except as disaster.

Speaker 1: 28:26 Yes?

Female: 28:26 [inaudible 00:28:26] Ayn Rand [inaudible 00:28:28] her rising [inaudible 00:28:31]

Speaker 1: 28:32 Ayn Rand-

Female: 28:33 She actually refers to [inaudible 00:28:37] or simultaneous [inaudible 00:28:37]

Speaker 1: 28:37 You mean …

Female: 28:41 As far as the [inaudible 00:28:42]

Speaker 1: 28:45 Oh, she has been good in calling attention to that. Her book on The New Left is one of her best things. But her answer is just as barren of any meaning.

Female: 29:00 Who [inaudible 00:29:00]

Speaker 1: 29:00 Ayn Rand.

Male: 29:01 She’s going to do all right [inaudible 00:29:02]

Speaker 1: 29:06 Yes. Yes?

Female: 29:08 Might the youth today that are thinking of nihilism and all [inaudible 00:29:09] wearing the clothing, the red, white, and blue [inaudible 00:29:14]

Speaker 1: 29:24 Yes, because basically for them, everything today is nothing. God is nothing, man is nothing, life is nothing, studying, knowledge, everything is nothing, so you have to see it as the pride of their total rejection of meaning, their flight from life. It’s pathetic and very, very wicked.

Speaker 1: 29:45 Well, our time is just about up. You have your notes, or will get them this coming Sunday. Please read them, because then you can understand more clearly what I shall be saying about the Hebrews and Old Testament history, the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, and so on, next week. Let’s bow our heads in prayer.

Speaker 1: 30:15 Our Lord and our God, we thank Thee that we have a plan for the future which comes from Thee. We thank Thee that we live and move and have our being in Thee, that according to Thy word all things work together for good to them that believe in Thee, to them who are the called, according to Thy purpose. Strengthen us, we beseech Thee, therefore, in the midst of an evil and despairing generation, that our hearts may ever be filled with hope, our hands busy in Thy service, our hearts grateful unto Thee for Thy government. Bless us to this purpose, we beseech Thee. Give us now traveling mercies as we journey homeward, a blessed night’s rest, and join our labors on the morrow. 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