A Serious Topic: God’s Sovereignty

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I have had occasion to re-visit R.J. Rushdoony’s book, Sovereignty (Chalcedon/Ross House Books: 2010). Published almost ten years after the theologian’s death, it poses an urgent question.

Who is sovereign–God or man?

There’s no such thing as “sort of sovereign.” Sovereignty is absolute and indivisible. Either God is sovereign Lord of all, or He is not. Either God is the source of law, or He is not. And if He isn’t, who is?

Oh, well, the serpent told us that–we are! “Ye shall be as gods,” Genesis 3:5. And then we have to decide whether each and every individual is to be sovereign–nah, that won’t work!–or if our sovereignty is to be collectivized in the form of an institution: a state, for instance. Yeah, that’ll work!

Rushdoony, analyzing history, saw the modern state perpetually expanding its powers. He perceived clearly that “the state” has no life in itself, but is rather the creation of flawed and sinful men: that is, an idol. And because one of the chief flaws of statists is an insatiable lust for power, the state devours its citizens’ personal liberties–because those who do not acknowledge God as God are unable to conceive of any authority higher than the state’s, to which the state and its representatives will be held accountable. For them the state, not God, is sovereign. And this, Rushdoony discovered, is a very widely-held delusion: even churches succumb to it.

So the state is sovereign, and next thing you know, they’re dragging people off to forced labor camps. First they try to punish every offense, said Rushdoony, because every offense is ultimately an offense against the state. But that’s not enough for them. From there they go on to punish all dissent.

He did not live to see them go even one step farther than that. From punishing dissent, punishing refusal or failure to hop on the bandwagon, the priesthood of the idol of the state goes on to punish at random. Like the Ontario Human Rights Commission says, you can offend against the Human Rights Code without meaning to, without even knowing that you’re doing it.

The image that comes to mind is some poor sod being hauled off to the guillotine crying, “What did I do? What did I do?”–and getting no answer.

Inalienable liberty is possible only under the sovereignty of God. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and if we believe Him to be such, then we can only view the government as being under Him.

This is a matter to which Christians need to give more thought.

Before the state kills and eats them.

6 comments on “A Serious Topic: God’s Sovereignty

  1. Even in ancient times, the people clamored for a king to be over them – a human, flesh and blood king who makes mistakes. Some were not so good. God granted their request, knowing there would be consequences. Did we learn anything? It would appear not.

    Sovereignty over oneself would be too great a responsibility – at least for me. I’m thankful that God is sovereign over me. Hard as they try, the state will never replace His Sovereign rule.

    1. God does, however, delegate sovereignty to us, over certain spheres that have boundaries, all of them under God–individual self-government, family, church, economic acitivity, and the civil government. These are all subject to His laws and accountable to Him. They are not to usurp each other’s functions. He has assigned certain duties to each of them: the state, for instance, is ordained to restrain and punish evil-doers.
      All will answer to God, in the end. And their end may be sooner than they think.

  2. I have written on this more than once, and sited Scriptures such as Isaiah 45:7 et. al. In my mind, even to consider any other possibility is a waste of time. So many people seem confused when they see “contradictions” in the Word. There are none if you read the entire Scripture and do not look for ways of disproving those that go against the grain, so to speak.

    1. You won’t be surprised to hear that Rushdoony devoted several pages to that verse.
      For those who don’t have a Bible handy, Isaiah 45:7 says,
      “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.”

  3. Sovereignty is the issue. It is the absolute core of all issues. It is the ONLY issue. The Ten Commandments started off in Exodus 20 by proclaiming the God brought them out of Egypt and that they were to have no other gods before Him. This is key to worship, and key to the function of any civilization.

    If everyone is on the same page with regard to God’s sovereignty there will be a positive effect on the entire social order. That means that we should treat one another well, because our fellow human is God’s property. It even carries down to our treatment of animals. Proverbs 12:10 tells us: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,
    but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

    That explains a great deal. When imperfect humans are making the rules, their rules tend to be harsh. Use the wrong pronoun, perhaps unintentionally, and you are going to prison. The creators of this law may think it merciful, but it is not.

    We need one consistent standard in order to have a well-functioning civilization. Many civilizations have had one standard, but if that standard is the result of human reasoning it will not be truly consistent, truly just. The U.S. prospered for as long as it did because most of its citizens had at least some degree of regard for their Creator. While there were still problems, the unifying force of this shared moral value allowed the U.S. to prosper beyond anything the first settlers of Plymouth could have envisioned. But their true wealth was in their spiritual awareness of the One True God. Many came to the U.S. because they sought freedom of worship and this is embedded in the first amendment to the Constitution.

    Unfortunately, as a society we have moved away from these roots. In part, the churches have played a role in this, because they have diluted the message of the scriptures with all sorts of man-made doctrines and rulings instead of referring their adherents to the inspired scriptures as a guideline. If they taught the bible and helped their members to understand what is written in scripture, then they would be guiding their membership in a direction that isn’t subject to the whims of any human.

    Our Creator promises a restitution of all things and a Kingdom which will bring blessings to the earth while ending wickedness and death. This Kingdom will not be governed by some human political theory, but will be based upon the sovereignty of the One True God. It promises to put God’s law in the hearts of its subjects so we will have no need to correct one another nor any need to suspect the motives of anyone we encounter. This, and only this, can end the hatred, the discrimination and the disregard so many have for their fellow.

    “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2) The cure for what ails us is only to be found in God’s sovereignty.

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