Thursday, April 1, 2010

Law & Liberty

Cross-posted from my xanga blog:

I just finished reading R.J. Rushdoony's book, Law & Liberty. The book is a translation/transposition of radio addresses that Rushdoony gave during 1966-67. In many ways, his conclusions were ahead of his time, which is evidence of two things: 1) the enduring fixity of human nature, 2) the resultant need to know the past.

Two verses continually popped up in Rushdoony's analysis. One was Proverbs 8:36, which reads in the ESV "but he who fails to find me [Wisdom] injures himself; all who hate me love death. The other was Psalm 127:1, which reads in the ESV, "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." One might venture to say, upon these two texts the whole of Law & Liberty is built.

Consider the parallel implications. Those who renounce the wisdom of God, which Paul tells us in 1 Cori. 1:24 is Christ, do violence unto themselves and all those who become dependent upon them. Because they have rejected the Christ of God, the resurrection and the life (John 11:25), they pursue and even exalt death (Rom. 1:28-32). The epistemologically self-aware Christian must therefore recognize that any claims that do not trace their origin to God's Word, any claim that is not explicitly stated or deducible from God's commandments, can only and ever lead to self-destruction. This is true regardless of the expressed or hoped for, or ostensibly well-intended efforts of those whose work is constructed upon unbelieving presuppositions. The humanist who desires for the poor man to be well-fed and sheltered will nevertheless ultimately drive the poor man into slavery, destitution, and destruction because his methods and his means will be built upon principles derived from his autonomous sense of justice, rather than upon God's justice.

If one doubts this claim, he needs only to consider the parallel verse of Psalm 127:1. Unless God labors upon our behalf, all of our labors shall be in vain, for God is the owner of all Creation, and thus all Creation is subject to His bidding or determination. The short-term supposed gains of the evil man are the lament of the Psalmist in Psalm 73, yet when he comes into the presence of God in His sanctuary, he is reminded that God's justice, though often delayed, shall be made full--whether filled up by His mercy in the pouring out of His wrath upon our substitute Jesus Christ; or filled up upon the rebellious who refuse to bow the knee to the King of Kings. The Christian who sees the fruits of the wicked shall discern that whereas the appearance is all of glory, the substance is all of destruction--for God awaits the time, the right time, when He shall recompense all evil and make manifest the greatness of His mercy (Rom. 9:22-23). Thus, the epistemologically self-conscious Christian shall ever strive to direct his decisions according to God's expressed commands, not vainly pitting law against gospel--for we know that all our righteousness is in Christ, our legal representative--but rather walking blamelessly in the law, for even our missteps are washed clean by Christ's service to God on our behalf. Therefore we are freed from the condemnation of sin, in order that--in order that!--we may walk in obedience to God's Law (Rom. 6), expressed so elegantly, so comprehensively, so coherently in the two testaments of Scripture.

Those who wish to allow unbelieving men the optimistic hope of rightly interpreting the natural law fail to recognize the implications of the two verses at the head of the present exposition. Without God's wisdom, no structure can be maintained. Without God's wisdom, all pathways lead to destruction. Now natural law is said, by some, to be manifest to all men, as though God's general revelation is sufficient to teach men how they ought to live. However, the fact that Paul calls all unregenerate men dead in their trespasses and hostile to God, by what natural means will they seek to interpret the natural law in such a way that is pleasing to God? Rather, we should expect that unregenerate man's use of natural law will be consistent with his ontological perversion--original sin--which has already corrupted the image of God in man--his moral uprightness and intellectual understanding of and assent to God's Word. Therefore the natural law can only be used for the glory of God and the good of men when it is used upon the basis of God's revelation--a basis that all unregenerate men, by definition, reject in toto, for they reject the God who has delivered it and placed the seal of His Spirit upon it.

We must therefore never forget the stark antithesis that persists between belief and unbelief, which are the only two systems of thought or worldviews that Scripture declares to exist. Because there is but one Master, and because one can only serve God or one's own standard, there is no third choice between submission to God's authority or pursuit of one's own autonomy. All the various complications of the many thousands of individual philosophies of all unbelievers through all of time amount to nothing more than the simple rejection of God's commandments. All of the various Christian beliefs, if they remain Christian, are fundamentally committed (however consistently or inconsistently) with the desire to obey God's expressed commands.

Therefore, if we would see Christianity spread amongst our nations, if we would see Christianity thrive in our churches, if we would see Christianity perpetuated in our homes, we must dedicate our thinking to follow no further than where God Himself has directed it: to Christ, who is alone the Wisdom of God, and to His Law, which His Word alone commands. Therein lies the simple plan of reformation and revival. Therein lies the marching orders for the spread of Christ's Kingdom. Therein lies the joy for all of life: be it in times of flourishing faithfulness, or be it in times of widespread apostasy. Consider Christ this evening, on the eve of His own Great Suffering, that He counted it joy to do this and nothing else: the will of His Father in Heaven.