World Orders: From Humanist to Christian (2)
The Birth of the New Christian Order
Before we begin, I’d like to make a few announcements, and mention first of all, a death that took place this week. Francis Schaeffer, a most faithful warrior of the Lord, went to his reward a few days ago. He’s left behind a great inheritance of writings and works begun, that will live after him. And of particular joy to me is the fact that he has left behind a son, Frankie, who will, I believe, not only carry on the work, but even surpass, by far, his father. A very remarkable son. We need to thank God for men like that, and for their work.
I’d like to remind you of the fact that this October in the second weekend, we will have our arts and media conference here in Seattle. Then finally, although this has been mentioned before, I do feel that we should all acknowledge our very great debt to Clint and Elizabeth Miller. To put on a conference like this is a major task. It requires preparation for months in advance. In the last two or three months unceasing work, answering the telephone, taking care of the mails, making the arrangements, double checking everything. It is not an easy task. It requires a great deal of time and patience. And we are especially grateful to you, Clint and Elizabeth, for all that you have been doing every year. Thank you.
Our subject in this closing session is the birth of a new Christian order. We live in a time when men give the biology of fallen man priority over God’s Law. A year or so ago, a judge in Madison Wisconsin refused to confine a fifteen year old rapist, stating;
“Their sexual juices really start to flow at fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. It doesn’t take much to provoke a guy. Whether you like it or not, a woman’s a sex object, and they’re the ones who turn the man on, generally.”
About the same time, in Santa Fe New Mexico, a judge, in ruling on a case of incest, declared;
“It is nothing more than sex education. Essential and necessary in growth toward maturity and subsequent domestic family life.”
What we have seen in our society is the replacement of God’s law with man’s law, and now man’s law is being replaced by biology. Such a development does not occur in a vacuum. It is part of the general rebellion against God and His Law Word, and of man’s attempt to play god. It is a part of the worship of power.
George Orwell in 1984 has O’Brian declare, and I quote;
“We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution. One makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever.”
The culture which adopts power as its goal condemns itself to sterility and decline. The exercise of power for its own sake leads to repression and to death. And thus, humanistic power is destructive and suicidal, whereas God’s is constructive and life giving. One scholar, Parender, has said with regard to the great dominating goal over the centuries of man in Africa, has been power;
“It has often been said that the chief value of African thought is power. Vital energy or dynamism. The world is a realm of powers; the most fruitful life has the most power and harmony.”
Now Forender, like other modern men, saw no harm in this belief.
In our day, Marxism has most clearly expressed this worship, this belief, this faith in power. And we are told of Stalin, by one of his biographers; “He used the only method he had faith in, power.”
So that whenever there was a problem in any realm, whether in agriculture or in industry, or within the party, or among youth, or among students, Stalin’s solution was always the same; brutal power, repression, the gulag.
The same belief in the efficacy of power is a part of cultures all over the world. It is this cultural force, this trust in humanistic power that Christianity now faces. The nations have forsaken the Lord, and they lust for power. In this they reflect the character of their peoples. From the rites of one-upmanship to outright sadism, the goal is power over others.
We face a world very much like that of the New Testament era; humanistic, and essentially urban, with a hatred of Biblical faith, and with Christ and the Christian man as the enemy.
The conflict of Christianity and Rome did not end with Constantine. The emperors wanted a semblance of faith, with a perpetuation of the old order. One historian, Simon Goodenough, has written;
“The vast slave population welcomed the compassion of Christianity, and its belief in the sanctity of human life. It is this that we miss in Roman attitudes, despite their tolerance, and despite their sense of responsibility. The paradox was carried to its ultimate extent when Christianity became the religion of the state. The elitist structure could not live side by side with Christianity and its compassion. Although Christianity cannot be blamed for the fall of Rome.”
Rome at its virtuous best was not compassionate. Its virtues concentrated on the exaltation of power. It provided bread and circuses for the poor, not because it was compassionate, but to control the masses. As against this, Christianity entered the Roman Empire with the gospel of salvation, in and through Jesus Christ and His kingdom. It was a gospel of mercy, of the compassion of God to salvation through Jesus Christ.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Salvation in the Scriptures is presented as an act of sovereign grace, the gift of God, totally undeserved, a compassionate gift. The commandment to those who believe is; “…freely ye have received, freely give.” “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” The gospel unleashed a kingdom upon the world, the kingdom of God, with this mandate. Man sent forth slaves and philosophers, lawyers and soldiers, the rich and the poor, men with a bad moral past, with a knowledge of the faith that was often very weak, and very frail and clouded, but governed by the great fact of the compassionate act of God through Christ. And their duty to give as they had been given unto. The result was a new government within the Empire, the kingdom of God. This new government with a new people who called themselves ‘the Christian race,’ held that all the old distinctions were now obliterated, the liturgy of the early Church, the language of the early Church, referred to the people of the Kingdom as ‘the Christian race.’ A new people, a new humanity, called out to the old, with a ministry of grace and compassion, to all.
One of the first challenges they made to the Roman Empire, one I spoke about two years ago, was on abortion. They not only opposed abortion, but because the practice of abortion then was crude and inept, it did not always succeed, and the babies, when born, were abandoned to be devoured by the wild dogs of Rome or of Corinth, or of wherever they were. And Christians stationed members at the points of abandonment to collect these babies, parcel them out to members to be reared in the faith.
Moreover, they required everyone to provide for their own, their own household, their fellow believers, and then those outside the faith. For, as Paul said, if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house or kindred, he hath denied the faith and worse than an infidel. This was God’s requirement from the beginning. As Isaiah reminded his day and ours;
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.”
Rome regarded every man’s house as his own private domain. There a man could do as he pleased, in the early days he could sell his wife and children into slavery or execute them at will, if they displeased him.
Modern man wants the same freedom in his private life, and hence the demand for not only abortion, but euthanasia, and homosexual rights.
But Paul regards the matter differently, and reminds the Church of God’s requirements.
“Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we think not, and as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
The implications of this are far-reaching. Every Christian household became a government, an outpost of the kingdom of God, with a duty towards its kindred first, then all fellow believers, then to all men. They provided homes for abandoned babies, offered help to those who needed it, and quickly surpassed the Imperial welfare program. Instead of bread and circuses, there was practical help and compassion, friendship in Christ.
Goodenough said that Rome’s elite structure could not live side by side with Christian compassion, and with good reason. Roman elitism was in terms of Plato’s republic, elitist philosopher kings ruling from the top down, whereas Christianity was hierarchical, and hierarchy means rule according to sacred law. And Christianity believed in hierarchy, rule by God’s law. Authority only in terms of the Word of God.
The kingdom of God, it was held, commanded the believer; not only his home, but even more, it commanded also his income. The tithe is a revolutionary concept. Very quickly the persecuted Church became a very wealthy church, because these persecuted people, in addition to taking care of their own, these babies that had been abandoned and more, were tithing and creating a tremendous government in the Church.
We have some data from the year 251 AD. It was a time of persecution. The Church in Rome at that time supported a bishop, forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, seven sub-deacons, fort-two acolytes, and fifty-two exorcists, readers, and doorkeepers.
The doorkeeper, by the way, was an important official in the early Church. He was a doorkeeper. He had to have a sharp awareness of who the secret agents of Rome were, who might try to infiltrate a meeting. Or who were coming down the street, to break up the meeting. And he would give warning in time for the members to make their escape.
Besides these, the Church in Rome supported over fifteen-hundred widows and needy persons. At the same time, the churches in other areas were undergoing a particularly severe persecution, and the church in Rome took care of the refugees, including two hundred and fifty bishops, whom they hid. At the same time, with all of this support, they were giving relief, emergency aid, to needy, non-Christians in Rome. In other words, the persecuted were extending relief to the persecutors. All this was done by the Christian Church, an illegal organization. Consider what could happen today in your congregation and across the country, if a fraction of Christians tithed. We could take over health, education, and welfare in the United States, just for starters.
At the same time, the Church was administering justice in the Church courts, to its members. Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians 6? He told the Church that it was wrong for them to go to outsidersm and outsider courts, to the ungodly, for their troubles, for the settlement of their conflicts.
“What know ye not that the saints are to judge (that is to govern) the world?”
That you are in time to become the rulers of the world? And that you through your church today are to learn how to administer justice? The early Church took to heart what Paul said. They made their church courts ministries of justice, so much so that the ungodly began to come to the Christians, to illegal organizations, for settlement of their disputes.
When Rome recognized Christianity, very quickly, rather shamefacedly, it had to admit that the courts that everybody preferred were not the Roman courts, but the Church courts.
For six centuries, by the way, Christian courts gave Europe most of its justice, not civil courts. So what they did was to appoint the bishops of the church to be their magistrates, as well as their own. If you’ve ever wondered where the bishops get their fancy garb that is the garb of a Roman magistrate. It’s a witness to the fact that Rome finally recognized that justice was going outside of its courts, into the Christian hands, before the Christian presbyters. And so it gave to the presiding presbyter the garb of a Roman official, of a magistrate, a judge.
In these and other ways, the early Church was revolutionary. It created a new government by its ministry of compassion and by its law, God’s law. And today the same ministry is at work, we are taking over education. Federal statistics tell us that almost eleven percent of grade and high school children are in Christian schools, that’s not true. Their statistics will only include the accredited schools, and none of your newer schools are accredited; they’re refusing certification and accreditation. It doesn’t include all the homeschool children, there’re a hundred thousand homeschools in California alone. It does not include the fact that the public schools are padding their rolls with a lot of non-existent students, in order to get more money. But that is not all; across country Christian lawyers are establishing arbitration courts. People can go to those courts, sign a contract to abide by the decision of the court, and a counsel’s lawyers will adjudicate the matter.
I know that about four years ago, in a modest sized city in the South-West, cases involving twenty-six million dollars were adjudicated.
Basic to all this growth, basic to what is happening, is the rebirth of people in Jesus Christ, into a Christian world and life view.
The humanists of our day divide man’s life into two realms; public and private. The humanist realm has taken over the public realm, claims it for the state, and is now taking over the private as well. So that every time a legislature or congress meets, there is more and more an invasion into the private realm. Many conservatives are deeply concerned with the reclamation of the public and private realms from the state. But as Christians we must add that the basic distinction is not between public and private realms, but between God’s total claim on every realm, and the rebellious man’s attempt to exclude God from every realm.
No sphere belongs to man or the state, but all belong to God. All things must be done according to His Word, and for His glory. The state, the Church, persons, schools, the arts and sciences, all must serve Him. We have no private sphere apart from Him, nor any area for our exclusive functioning. We are His possession. Cornelius Van Til has said that;
“There is not a place in all the universe where man can go and say, this is my private realm. No button he can press and say here I step outside of God’s jurisdiction. If man had such a button, he would always have his finger on it. But it does not exist, he only lives, moves and has his being in God’s world.”
Roman elitism could not tolerate Christian compassion.
And Roman education was designed to preserve this elitism. The Renaissance and the Enlightenment preserved this ideal. The English public school system, the American public school system, all in varying degrees, the Prussian, and so on, were designed to perpetuate the old Greco-Roman ideal, of an elitist order, an education to sort out the elite.
And elitism always gravitates to a statist order. An order in which philosopher-kings are in control.
As against this, Christian education, Christian schools, prepare their students for an hierarchal order in which God rules. In which His Law prevails. And in which we are called to exercise dominion in every sphere of life and thought, in the name of almighty God.
All around us, the foundations are being laid for a Christian order. The kingdom of God is on the march. The gates of hell cannot hold out against it. Of this we can be sure, because we have God’s word that it is so.
“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. And He shall reign forever and ever.”
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 is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. 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