Anthropology and the State

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:00 Our concern in this second session is with the anthropology of the state.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:06 Anthropology means the doctrine of man. This is an important subject when we deal with church and state problems because what we find today is that the Christian Church, the Faithful Church and the civil government have a different doctrine of man. If you believe man is fallen and needs salvation, you are at odds with a civil government that says, man is naturally good or at the worst, neutral. And all he needs is training our education and all will be well with the world. Our public schools are built on that thesis and we see the results. But of course as far as they’re concerned, the problem is that we are polluting the picture.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:04 The doctrine of man that we have today, the humanistic one, goes back to ancient paganism and most notably to ancient Greece. The classical view of man was a dualistic one, that man is made up of matter and of mind, a lower at a higher element and that between the two there was a dialectical tension.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:30 Now as Christians, we cannot believe this because we believe that man is a unity, that whatever constituent parts we have in our being, God created them. They are a unity. But not so the Greeks. They were two different alien substances that came together in man.

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:54 Thus according to Catholic Kathleen Freeman’s summary, Socrates view was this, and I quote, :Socrates came to two chief conclusions, that virtue is knowledge and that no man sins willingly. He assumes that every man is seeking what he believes to be for his advantage and welfare, but he is often mistaken in his choice of action and does wrong and the belief that he is getting something for himself. If he knew the truth, he would realize that in making a wrong choice, committing a sin for the sake of some immediate apparent advantage like pleasure or power, he is really doing himself not good but harm. If he could see further, he would reject the immediate wish because of the harmful consequences to himself. Thus, all virtue consists in recognizing what is truly for our good. All sin is mistaking something harmful or for something good. If we have the necessary knowledge, we are bound to choose correctly, for no one but a lunatic would willingly choose what is to his hurt. The wrong choice or sin is always to our hurt. The right choice or virtue is always do our advantage”.

R.J. Rushdoony: 03:24 “Socrates, thus eliminated the will, making it automatically dependent on the reasoning faculty. Man, to him, is a creature with intelligence which can be developed by inquiry and searched until it recognizes the good. His goal is happiness. And this is achieved when his intelligence by recognizing that good enables him to choose it. Therefore he will do well to let nothing interfere with his study of the Google. Bodily desires must be controlled. The pursuit of wisdom must be set before any worldly advantage, any ms devote his life and company with his friends to the elimination of ignorance about the nature of the virtues and virtue as a whole”.

R.J. Rushdoony: 04:15 Now, this statement isn’t excellent. Summary of Socrates belief. No man, he says, since willingly. Why? Because men are naturally good. Or at least their reason is. And because their reason is good, knowledge is virtue and virtue is knowledge. Moreover, the will is completely dependent upon the reason.

R.J. Rushdoony: 04:51 Now Paul tells us in Romans that a man as he begins to come to a knowledge of the truth, sees the good and he wills to do it, but his nature is geared to sin. So even though he may know, because it is written in is being by God all mighty, he was sin against that knowledge because is fallen. But for Socrates man is not fallen.

R.J. Rushdoony: 05:25 Now such a perspective leads to a pessimism concerning man and concerning virtue or knowledge. Because basic to Socrates position was this. The only reason the man does not follow reason absolutely is because he is not pure mind. He is also a body and the body gets in the way. The body interferes because it’s lower. It impedes our ability to reason. The more you have a reasoning man, the more you will have virtue. And so who is going to be the most virtuous man? Why, the philosopher. Who then should be king? Why, the philosopher king because he represents reason. This is why we have from the days of Franklin Delano Roosevelt brain trusts. We call them by a different name now, but these are experts who have the knowledge. And that extensively makes them sufficiently virtuous that govern us and to legislate for us and we supposedly are too stupid to know because we are not pure reason like these men.

R.J. Rushdoony: 06:52 Of course, Socrates went so far as to say that no one could have pure knowledge unless he were dead, unless his body was separated from his mind. But the philosopher kings, by rising above the body will be fit to rule. They and they alone. And of course we remember that as recently as John F. Kennedy, we had a president saying that all our problems are purely technical ones for these elite scholars. They were not moral problems. They were technical problems, which these men representing reason being good were going to be able to solve. As a result, the world is best off from the standpoint of Greek humanism if everything is United under the state. Socrates said, and I quote, “the greater the unity of the state, the better”.

R.J. Rushdoony: 08:12 Now, Aristotle did not entirely agree. In fact, he disagreed with this and Aristotle wanted to place a little more emphasis on the individual. He said, and this is a summary by someone quoting from his politics, “I am speaking of the premise from which the argument of Socrates proceeds, that the greater the unity of the state, the better. Is it not obvious that a state may at length attain such a degree of unity as to be no longer a state? Since the nature of a state is to be a plurality and intending to greater unity from being a state it becomes a family and from being a family and individual. For the family may be said to be more than the state and the individual than the family, so that we ought not to attain that this greatest unity, even if we could, for it would be the destruction of the state”. I quoted Aristotle’s words.

R.J. Rushdoony: 09:42 However, in spite of his attempt to resurrect the individual, whom he did not see as fallen, Aristotle still fell under the same statism as Socrates because, he said, man is a political animal. Man is a creature of the state. So what Aristotle was in effect saying is that while man is a creature of the state, the state must not be all powerful over him. We believe that man is the creature of God or religious creature, not a political animal, nor a rational creature after Socrates, he is God’s creation.

R.J. Rushdoony: 10:37 However, at the same time, Aristotle could not avoid anarchism. On the one hand in his politics he virtually makes the state man’s creator. On the other hand, because he is afraid of the power of the state, he insists on man as an anarchistic on an extreme individualism so that he halts between two opinions. He says, for example, and I quote “for even if the good of the community coincides with that of the individual, the good of the community is clearly a greater and more perfect good both to get and to keep. This is not to deny that the good of the individual is worthwhile but what is good for a nation or a city has a higher, a diviner quality”. So there he says the highest good is the state.

R.J. Rushdoony: 11:41 But then he turns around and defines the highest good as self sufficiency. He says the individual who is most self sufficient, and here you have the essential premise of what cane to be very powerful in Greek thought a little later, the stoics and Stoicism. Aristotle says, and I quote, “it is a generally accepted view that the final good is self sufficient. By itself sufficient is mat not what is sufficient for oneself living the life of a solitary but includes parents, wife and children, friends and fellow citizens in general where man is a social animal. A self sufficient thing then we take to be one which on its own footing tends to make laws life desirable and lacking in nothing. And we regard happiness is such a thing. Add to this that we regard it as the most desirable of all things without having it counted in with some other desirable things. Or if such an addition or possible clearly we should regard it as more desirable when even the smallest advantage were added to it or the result would be an increase in the matter of advantages and the larger some of advantages is preferable to the smaller. Happiness then, the end which all our conscious acts are directed is found to be something final and self sufficient”.

R.J. Rushdoony: 13:25 Now I have quoted at some length from Aristotle to illustrate the problem of humanistic man. He falls between making the state of God walking on Earth or the individual, the anarchistic individual a God. He refuses to see that man is a sinner and hence he cannot see man in the collective form, as a society, a state, as sinful and evil. Plato and Aristotle wind up with a state that is good. It’s an accident if the state is bad. It’s not essential to the life of the state. It is not essential to the life of man to be bad. Both man on the state are essentially good.

R.J. Rushdoony: 14:27 We have a great deal of this view with us today in humanism. We have it in our economics because the goal of the Greek city state was after Aristotle to be sufficient, to sell to others but not to be dependent on others. That became a philosophy after the enlightenment, an economic phase known as Mercantilism. We have it today in our neo Mercantilist economics. The idea is that you try to sell to every other country but avoid buying from every other country, which is an economic impossibility. How can the other country have any money to buy from you if you do not sell to them? Or rather vice versa. How can they have any money to buy from you if they cannot sell to you? If they sell, they have your currency with which to buy your goods.

R.J. Rushdoony: 15:45 But modern economics theory is based on the idea of self sufficiency of each nation state. And the result is we have a growing economic crisis. Moreover, in terms of this kind of thinking, the old pagan Greek thinking, man was seen as a product of chaos. Man evolved out of chaos, out of an accident. And so man and the classical humanist view has no constant, unchanging God given nature. The Bible tells us that man is created now in the image of God with knowledge, righteousness, holiness and dominion. Man is fallen and therefore those aspects of the image of man are perverted in man today. And he seeks an ungodly knowledge and ungodly dominion, an ungodly justice and a non godly separation or holiness.

R.J. Rushdoony: 17:03 But if you hold to the view of the Greeks, you have plastic man, evolving man who can be molded. And Darwin greatly reinforced that humanism with his doctrine. Because if man is a product of the void, a product of chance variations in the struggle for survival, the essence of man is his plasticity. He can be molded. And hence we have gone back to precisely the fundamentals of ancient pagan totalitarianism, that man can be molded. That man has no given nature, but all that is needed is total power to effect total change.

R.J. Rushdoony: 18:04 This is why today the modern state is seeking total power. What total power means is that then we can create heaven on earth because with total power we can effect total change in society. This is why we have the trials of Christian schools to this destroy anything that interferes with their total power. This is why the church is being persecuted, because it is introducing an alien element. And how can you change man without total power? Only then can you have total change.

R.J. Rushdoony: 19:00 Moreover, at the same time, you have other factors that enter into the scene. We have the anarchism Sartre and the existentialists, which says that the pure act is the unmotivated act. And the unmotivated act, which is a pure act, is the purely evil act because it is then not affected by any consideration from God and man. You see the destructiveness of modern society. Every man’s hand is lifted against every other man. There is total social war, conflict.

R.J. Rushdoony: 19:56 The theme of the Book of Judges is in those days there was no king in Israel. God was no longer recognize this game and every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Protagoras said, man is the measure of all things. And in practice this means elitist man, status man, the planners.

R.J. Rushdoony: 20:25 So today we have efforts to destroy the church, to destroy the family because the church represents a view of man which is alien to the modern world. Alien to humanism, and hence it is seen as the enemy. The church declares the true, the Faithful Church, that man cannot be changed by the legislation of the state. Man cannot be changed by evolution. Man could only be changed by the miracle working power of God, by the grace of God unto salvation.

R.J. Rushdoony: 21:11 What does that doctrine say? It says that the modern state lock, stock and barrel is barking up the wrong tree, is embarked on an evil path and is going to be judged by God. It tells us that every program of Washington conducted today by Republicans and Democrats is evil because it leaves out the key factor. Man is created in the image of God. Man is a fallen creature and man can only be saved by the power of God and salvation. And also that the state, the school and every area of life must be equally under God, under Christ the Lord as much as the church.

R.J. Rushdoony: 22:09 This is an indictment of the state. We should not be surprised that the state civil government today is waging a war against this. Why not? Believing what they do, they would be crazy if they didn’t. The important thing for us is to recognize there is a war. God requires us to go out there and to win that battle, to bring all nations, all man, all institutions, every area of thought and life into captivity to Jesus Christ.

R.J. Rushdoony: 22:55 Modern politics is based on a false doctrine of man. It is based on an evolutionary concept and because it is, it believes in a universe that is a realm of accident in which there is a struggle for survival and a constant battle, the survival of the fittest. Universal conflict, every man’s hand raised against every other.

R.J. Rushdoony: 23:29 Under the old biblical position that prevailed prior to Darwin man believed in the harmony of interests because God having created all things, all things work together for good in him. William Colin Brandt, who is not an evangelicalism believer, nonetheless was still under the influence of the Bible and had been brought up in terms of biblical fate. So he spoke very eloquently about the harmony of interests under God and he said, and I quote, “there is a great law imposed upon us by the necessities of our condition as members of human society, the law of mutual sucker. The interchange of benefits and advantages, the law of God and nature commanding us to be useful to each other. It is the law of the household. It is the law of the neighborhood. It is the law of different provinces included under the same government. And well would it be for mankind if it were in an equal degree recognized as the law to be sacredly regarded by the great community of nations in their intercourse with each other. Were that law to be repealed, the social state would lose its cohesion and fall in pieces”.

R.J. Rushdoony: 25:03 “There is not a pathway across the fields. Neuro, higher road, neuro guideposts out a turn of the way Nora railway from city to city or from state to state, nor a sail upon the ocean, which is not an illustration of this law. It is proclaimed in the shriek of the locomotive. It is murmured in the ripple of waters divided by the prow of the steamer, the nation by which it is disregarded or which endeavors to obstruct it by artificial barriers against the free intercourse with citizens, with those of other countries where your votes against the order of nature and strikes that its own prosperity”.

R.J. Rushdoony: 25:48 Now that belief in the harmony of interest is not possible in the world of Darwin. Evolution means conflict, struggle for survival, chance accident, not harmony. And so we can call the modern state not only an anti Christian state, but a war faring state. War is built into the doctrine of the modern state and it is not an accident that since Darwin wars have increased so dramatically end up being total wars. They will continue until change in their faith. Because what is the means now that is seen as basic to progress? Why, conflict. It began in this country as one of our men, Otto Scott, has pointed out so powerfully in his book The Secret Six, with the abolitionists. The abolitionists were against slavery, very good. But they did not want a peaceable solution. They worked to create war. Why? Because then the order of nature for them, the only means to progress was a conflict of interest. This is the premise of terrorism and John Brown of Harpers FErry was a terrorist, a professional or hired killer by the abolitionists leaders behind [inaudible 00:27:43].

R.J. Rushdoony: 27:44 What did we see in the 60s, in our own lifetime? People who wanted something taking to the streets with violence, burning down cities, tearing campuses apart. Why? In terms of the modern anthropology, this is the way to progress. Conflict, conflict.

R.J. Rushdoony: 28:12 You see, because we are Christians, this seems strange and even insane to us, but we cannot understand what is going on around us unless we recognize the modern state is a war faring state and modern man outside of Christ is a war faring man. He loves to break the law. He loves conflict. He wants to do violence to a situation.

R.J. Rushdoony: 28:50 One of the most common problems today in marital counseling is the fact that before a couple get married, they’re very passionate in their sexual relations. Once get married, it’s totally dull. Why? Because it’s legal and what is exciting to them is to do that which is forbidden, which involves conflict. So what happens then? They continue conflict. They fight with each other constantly. Life for them is warfare.

R.J. Rushdoony: 29:27 Now we live in a war faring society. Man is at war, fallen man against God and his [staber 00:29:38] and against himself. And therefore of necessity at war against the church. It is important for us in any understanding of the theology of the state to recognize what we are dealing with. A modern state, like modern man, is given to a warfare. It is. It’s Gospel. And thus, we face in thee fearful conditions in the days ahead. Unless we take over and reconstruct all things in terms of God’s holy word. This is our calling.

R.J. Rushdoony: 30:30 Are there any questions now? Yes.

Speaker 2: 30:49 Well, it seems like the state is seen as a God then and salvation is through the state, like in public schools. Well, if they see man as basically good, what is their idea of salvation? If they don’t understand [inaudible 00:31:11] God’s law and they don’t have any [inaudible 00:31:14] sin, how do they define sin?

R.J. Rushdoony: 31:17 Sin is environmental for them, it is outside of man. So by gaining total control you strip the society of those outside factors which are evil. The church, the Bible, the Christian family, these are some of those environmental evils which must be separated from man and society.

Speaker 2: 31:47 The country was founded upon these things.

R.J. Rushdoony: 31:49 Of course.

Speaker 2: 31:52 And they just [inaudible 00:31:52].

R.J. Rushdoony: 31:53 Oh yes. Of course history is not important to them. It is reason and science working to remake man. A good book that deals with this dream is George Orwell’s 1984? Are you familiar with it? Well, Orwell saw it because he knew the men who were planning it. And he saw it beginning all around him. Yes?

Speaker 3: 32:29 After what you said, my question is why are not more ministers who are servants and prophets of the living God and leaders of their flock, why are they more willing to enter into the battle?

R.J. Rushdoony: 32:44 Because they are neoplatonists who are bent on being monks, separating themselves from the world and the problems of the world and they are bent on converting the church into a kind of convent or monastery which refuses to look at the world outside the walls of the church. Yes?

Speaker 2: 33:07 When you state your point of the state, modern state really means warfare than [inaudible 00:33:16] be how our government is consistently misinterpreting the problem that Bob Jones University had with the IRS as a religious problem when in reality it’s a matter of not only religious but also civil liberty. It does seem that the government perceives in order to maintain its power, it must do all it can not only to utilize bad feelings among different groups in the country, but actually to create them if it’s not there so they can divide different groups, races, classes, sections and in turn, that vision that they have either exploited or divide, [inaudible 00:34:09] the rules. It does seem that they’re fearful is the reason they’re coming together.

R.J. Rushdoony: 34:15 Yes.

Speaker 2: 34:16 They help create artificial barriers and misinterpret [inaudible 00:34:19].

R.J. Rushdoony: 34:21 All we have to do is look at the groups that the country has declared war against. It’s declared war against the south for some time now. It’s declared war against the west and the middle west in various ways. Declared war against the Christian community, against business, against agriculture, against the workers and unions. One way or another it has thrown SOPs at all of these groups and subsidies and then declared war with them, against them, to confuse the issue.

R.J. Rushdoony: 35:01 But there’s scarcely a profession or a group in our society that the modern state is not at war against. It’s at war with the doctors. It’s at war with everybody because its nature is conflict. It’s the concept that some have called creative conflict.

Speaker 2: 35:40 [inaudible 00:35:40].

R.J. Rushdoony: 35:41 Yes. It’s a war within itself too, because the various agencies are at war against each other. It involves contradictions. We have a war against, for example, the use of tobacco and the requirement that every carton have a warning from the surgeon general on it and at the same time subsidies to tobacco growers. So that’s a very simple illustration. But it’s typical of Washington and of our states, this inner contradiction. They cannot be consistent. Only the Christian man can be consistent. And the more he grows in grace, the more consistent he is.

R.J. Rushdoony: 36:43 Well, if there are no further questions, let us bow our heads in prayer. Our Lord and our God, it is good for us to be here and we thank thee that thou art on the throne and it is thy counsel, thy government that shall prevail. Dismiss us now with thy blessing, grant until all traveling mercies on their homeward way, a blessed night’s rest and ever increasing joy in thy services. In Jesus’ name. Amen.