One way to enslave people is to shackle them with guilt–guilt for this, guilt for that, blame people living today for slavery that ended 150 years ago, or 300 years ago, whatever. Mark Rushdoony calls it “An Old Strategy.”
The important thing to remember, Mark points out, is that “manipulation by guilt… is anti-Christian to the core.” Why? Because Jesus Christ is our salvation. Because Jesus Christ removes our guilt. He has already atoned for our sins. We do not have to obey The Party or Dear Leader to pay for what we’ve done. Christ sets us at liberty; the sentence has been lifted.
P.S.–Now I’ve got to re-read R.J. Rushdoony’s The Politics of Guilt and Pity, published in 1970–but reads like he’d written it today. Well, you can say that about a lot of his work, can’t you?
In this Easter essay by Mark Rushdoony, “The Hope of the Believer,” we find encouragement that comes from God’s word. We need all the encouragement we can get, as we witness “the self-destructive paths our culture is currently pursuing.” Thankfully, he Lord never runs out of it.
We need to study Christ’s Resurrection not as just a historical event that’s over and done with, Mark writes, but as having urgent relevance to our lives now and in the future; because “our Lord is now at work, as He has been, and that ‘the gates of hell’ will not prevail against Him or His Kingdom.”
Mark and I are close enough in age that we can both remember “air raid drills”–in case of an atomic bomb dropping on your school, “duck and cover” under your desk or get down to the basement hallway. Now it’s Systemic Racism and Climbit Change. “If men do not have an imminent threat to fear,” he writes, “they will find one.” And it’s very much a case of seek and ye shall find: no one ever comes home empty-handed from a search for The End O’ The World.
Finite creatures as we are, we’ll never fully understand anything God does. It’s why we need faith. We see the ungodly and the wicked running wild, intending to “transform” our country into a socialist hell-hole… and there is just no way we understand why God doesn’t just wipe them off the table.
It brings to my mind these lines from a hymn, This Is My Father’s World:
“This is my Father’s world, and let me ne’er forget/ That tho’ the wrong seems oft so strong,/ God is the ruler yet.”
Mark launches his text from the book of Esther: “The story of Esther is not primarily about the salvation of God but of His government, particularly as it works through unbelievers.”
Through unbelievers? Yes! When there are no good guys around to stop the bad guys, God will use other bad guys against them–or even, as He did to Pharaoh in the days of Moses, against themselves. But yes, He will work through unbelievers… whether they like it or not.
There is no corner in Heaven or on earth where God is not the sovereign Lord of All.
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.”