I think the very hardest thing in Christianity is to hold onto one’s faith in all God’s actions. That whatever happens, even exceedingly bad things, “We must believe,” writes Mark Rushdoony, “that God is good.”
Yes, that’s hard. When we lose our loved ones, that’s hard. When we see the ungodly and the wicked running wild (Psalm 73), while the righteous can hardly get from day to day, that’s hard.
So we need to say, as Abraham said, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). Abraham earnestly wished God to spare the city of Sodom, for his nephew Lot’s sake, who lived there; but he was prepared to believe in the righteousness of any step God chose to take.
That’s hard. It requires a degree of humility that doesn’t come natural to us.
“We have a great deal of historical and contemporary evidence that the democratic process has always been infected with, if not controlled by, blatant lies and fraud,” Mark writes. “Confidence in [our] institutions is now incredibly low.”
People who reject God wind up needing, desperately, to replace Him. Thrown onto their own sinful resources without the guidance of Scripture, when they run from Christianity, they run off in all different directions.
As James Madison would have said, “democracy” is a very poor substitute for justice.
Did we get here by overzealously following God’s laws, Christ’s teachings?
No. We got here by doing what we wanted, when we wanted. We got here by allowing government to mutate into a kind of idol that must be appeased incessantly: the pseudo-religion that R.J. Rushdoony called statism.
“Walking by faith” does not mean “be oblivious to what you see.” It means to try to understand what you see in terms of what God is doing. “Our faith in what God is doing,” Mark writes, “must give us perspective and direction.”
Walking just by sight, “we see one mess after another.” That’s for sure. You can’t even talk sports or the weather anymore without igniting a political argument. Statism, as R.J. Rushdoony so often observed, is in its death throes–which means something will have to replace it.
God’s Kingdom is forever, and will replace all worldly kingdoms.
Humanists get rid of God, leaving the state–that is, themselves–as the highest possible authority. I know it’s hard to account for what happens next without a concept of Original Sin–but as Christians we have that concept, so we can understand humanism’s inevitable drift into tyranny. The alternative, with every fat-head parading around as his own god, can only be anarchy; but they can’t keep that going for any length of time.
Mark puts it in a nutshell: “The problem is too much power.”
Mark refutes the contention that the early church was “pure.” Good lord, no! As people throughout the Roman Empire joined the church, they brought all sorts of pagan ideas in with them. The church needed to call authoritative councils to weed out the paganism and state orthodox Christian belief as plainly as possible–which is why we have formal creeds.
We hardly need say that they’re still trying to import pagan notions, and humanist delusions, into the church (can you say “feminist theology”?). Because the church today is split into so many denominations, it’s no longer possible to hold a council that would speak with real authority. So we rely on the ancient creeds to protect us–and to keep us clear about what we believe.
Mark also provides a list of the major heresies the church had to deal with in the first centuries of its history. Most of them are still around, repackaged under new names. Well, that’s Original Sin for you. In a fallen world, we are always obliged to defend the Christian faith.
So what’s wrong with abstract theology? Two things: 1) God is real–not an abstraction, or a concept; and 2) God is not only real: He is a person. We are individual persons because God is a person and He created us in His image.
It’s easy to say “God is a person,” but it’s worth taking time to think about it. This is an astounding thing to realize! Nothing else we say or think about God makes any sense apart from the realization that God is a person. With all that that implies.
And if the very idea of a Person with infinite power and perfect knowledge doesn’t provoke in you a healthy sense of fear… you need to think about it longer.
We’ve had crazy times in our country before. When the Chalcedon Foundation was founded in 1965, we were only halfway through those crazy Sixties and it was going to get much worse before it got better.
But we, as Christian reconstructionists, take the long view.
In Mark Rushdoony’s new essay, The Path Forward, we see there are no quick fixes, no short-term answers. We have to rebuild Christian civilization and culture even as the bad guys are doing everything they can to tear it down.
The belief that must sustain us is this: Jesus Christ is Lord of heaven and earth now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not a hundred years hence–but now. He is Lord now. And as such His victory is certain.
And we want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in!