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Home Home Schooling Thank you Dr Rushdoony: 3 talks on Apologetics - For Seniors

Thank you Dr Rushdoony: 3 talks on Apologetics - For Seniors

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.

Subject: Christian Reconstruction

Genre: Lecture

Lesson: 1 - 3


Date: 1960’s - 1970’s




 Editor: We suggest you get your senior (s) to first listen to the audio then make notes and outlines in a work book. Use the transcript below for added help. Previous lessons on Cornelius Van Til's apologetics will be helpful as they provides the building blocks for these talks.

You may want to purchase one of the two books Listed as their text book. They are brilliant and very helpful!

Moms, yes this is hard work but the implications of equiping your children to think God's thought's them themwill be life changing for them in all the years God gives them. Why not begin today to equip them to be humble thinkers who can defend what they believe and help others come to know their God as their King and father too.

 Lecture One

  Lecture Two

   Lecture Three

 Text Books:

   Every Thought Captive - Richard Pratt

  Always Ready - Greg Bahnsen


[Rushdoony] Thank you. Our approach will be a question and answer approach, so that if you have any questions now in the area of apologetics that you’d like to raise, we can start there.

Do you have a question?

[Audience] Oh, yes. [general laughter] We were talking the other day in class about that a nonbeliever has no grounds for proof. They have no reason to think they have proof.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Audience] If I can get a nonbeliever to go so far as to admit that he has no reason to believe two and two is four, how can I tell him that I have the truth in my inspired Word, as opposed to other religious systems? [2:49]

[Rushdoony] Yes. Of course, getting him to admit that will be a proposition, because the natural man is unwilling to admit to his epistemological self-consciousness. Some of its philosophers are doing this, and this is precisely what we shall be dealing with in our Epistemology classes in the afternoon. But he cannot say that two and two equal four, because he has no ground for predicating truth in any area. To say that there is truth is to say that there is a world of absolute rationality. But if you deny that there is a world of absolute rationality around us, which means that there is an absolutely rational, a totally rational God behind it, then you have only a world of brute factuality.

Now the term ‘brute factuality’ is a very important one. What is a ‘brute fact‘? Well, if you are an unbeliever, you have only a universe, if you can use that term, and we’ll be dealing with this in our afternoon class. Are any of you in the afternoon class? Yes. Well, some of this then you’ll be getting over again but it won’t hurt, because it’s very important. If you do not believe in God, the universe is one of brute factuality, which means that they are uncreated facts, they are raw, uninterpreted facts, they are meaningless facts, they just happened, they’re a product of blind chance, so that they are totally impervious to reason, since they are not the product of the absolute reason of God. You have then, just – (well, no chalk, but, oh, here’s a little piece; here, I’ve got a little piece; there maybe some in here, too, that’s closer; alright) – you have here, let us say this is a ‘brute fact.’ It is totally irrational, totally meaningless, totally pointless; it operates in terms of no law, no meaning, so that it is impervious to any sense. It just is. It happened. [5:39]

Now how in a world such as that can you come up with any kind of meaning? How can you approach this? You have minds, so that, you see, for the unbeliever, no matter how much he tries to escape it (and I deal with this in part in my One And The Many), he has a dualistic worldview. He has a dualism between, on the one hand, mind or logic; and here, fact. And there is no relationship between the two, because there is not a common creator for both. So how is he going to make sense of this world?

Now the unbeliever says—and your philosophers of science declare—that there is no such thing as causality. Now this hit me like a ton of bricks when I was a student at the university a good many years ago at Berkeley, University of California, when I was told in class that the idea of causality is a myth; that it is the myth that religious man has conjured up, is a product of his logic, and he projects it onto a world of fact. And then the professor went on to deal with a concrete example: the sun; it rises every morning in the east. Is there any necessity, any law, any causality that makes the sun rise every morning in the east? Well, if you were to say there were some reason, some cause, that makes the sun rise every morning in the east, you’re immediately talking about mind, are you not? Because when you talk about cause and reason and law, whether it’s a law of nature or a law of man, you’re talking about a mind, a purpose. [8:00]

And so, it is important for the philosopher of science to deny that there is a causality to the sunrise and sunset. And so, instead, he talks about the probability concept. And he says, since it has so happened this way by accident until now, it is probable that by accident tomorrow morning the sun will also rise in the east and set in the west; but until we have all facts in from the beginning of the world to the end, we don’t know whether we can say it is so. And if it is so, it’s still by accident. In other words, he will not allow the possibility of law. But of course he’s never going to have to say, “Well it had happened because there is some kind of law,” because it is impossible for him to collect statistics on every sunrise and sunset from the first day of creation to the last. So he operates in terms of a probability concept.

I am writing now a book on the doctrine of salvation in which I deal with this probability concept and some of the new alternatives to it, because they still say you’re not getting away from mind here. They’re worried about that. You cannot posit mind here. So two and two equals four? Oh yes, it does in your mind. It doesn’t in the world out here. If it does, it’s just accidental. It’s not because of any necessity for it to do so.

So, the whole approach of the negative apologetics of Dr. Van Til is to tell the unbeliever “Do you see where you are? You cannot predicate anything with regard to the world of factuality. It is totally oblivious to reason. It’s a world of chaos. You cannot even call it a universe. And this is why Clark Kerr, who was a very intelligent man—he was the president of the University of California at Berkeley—insisted that we must no longer call Berkeley, or any other major school in the country, a university, but we must call it a multiversity. Why? Because the word universe points to God, you see. The whole idea of the universe, the university, is a Christian idea. [11:01]

There is a book just coming out now, and I saw an advance chapter; it’s by Nesbitt, N E S B I T T, a former University of California sociologist, who gave up in disgust and is now in the University of Arizona. And Nesbitt is one of the few good sociologists in the country. And Nesbitt has said the university is the last medieval institution in our world today; and in a sense he is right. He says the university is on its death bed. And he’s right again. I wrote something along the same lines for another book, which is not yet published, before I ever saw what Nesbitt has written, and it’s not yet published, on the subject. But you see, the idea of the university presupposes one God, one world of law, and one entity of creation—the universe. You deny God, you have a multiverse. Every individual, every fact, is its own universe. And so as a part of that, logically, the University of California not too long ago gave a Master’s degree in magic. Why not? You see, in the modern world of knowledge, do your own thing! And if your own thing happens to be magic, why, take a degree in magic! You see, the one thing intolerable to a multiversity is God, a belief that there is a universe, and that there is one world of law, because there is one God. So, you see, your answer to the unbeliever is, you cannot say two and two equal four. It might in one of these multiversities; but in the next multiverse, it can be two and two equals five. Each little multiverse does its own thing.

But for me, because there is a God, two plus two equals four. And I tell you, that unless you’re living over here in the world of your imagination, you’re in trouble, because two plus two equals four is what put a man on the moon, not your imagination, you see. Does that help? [pause, then general laughter]

Yes. [13:42]

[Audience] Dr. Rushdoony, don’t we get in trouble when we say that there is no good in man at all? I mean, man, even depraved man, has produced better medical facilities, and he has advanced in science and {?} with his social welfare programs and medical advancements and stuff like that. So don’t we put ourselves on a spot when we say there is no good in … man has produced nothing good?

[Rushdoony] First, you put yourself on the spot and in trouble when you became a Christian. You’re at war with most of the world now, so it’s too late to worry about being in trouble.

Now, you’re very right, however, that the ungodly have produced many remarkable things. They have produced some remarkable inventions, some amazing discoveries in science and so on. They’ve done it because they are schizophrenic, you see. When they talk to you, and when they lecture in the classroom, they talk this way: and they say there’s a world of brute factuality out here. But when they get into the laboratory, what do they do?

They assume its God’s world, and it’s a world of law; and therefore they can depend upon it. [15:13]

Now, I’m going to be dealing a little later in the afternoon class on epistemology, with Einstein and a quotation from Einstein, a very famous essay in a scientific periodical a good many years ago, in which he affirms this position. But then, when a fellow scientist asked him once, “how did you ever come up with your theory of relativity?” And he said just off the cuff, so it was an honest answer, “Oh, it’s because I believe in the absolute harmony and perfection of the whole universe.” So you see, Einstein on the one hand said there is no God and it’s all chance; but when he went to work at his desk, he presupposed the absolute Word of God.

It’s like in my By What Standard, I use the simile of somebody I knew in Nevada, who had a front of being a thoroughly respectable man, but he was a rustler! Now, if he had been true to the kind of profession he was making as a supposed rancher, he never would have been able to live. He would have starved to death, because he didn’t have the wherewithal or the facilities or anything, or the willingness to work to produce one head of cattle. But, because he was not true to his profession, and he was rustling, he was able to make a good living.

Well, your scientists are that way. If they were true to their profession of faith, which is in a mindless universe, or a multiverse, they could produce nothing. No science would be possible. I shall deal later this week with what Dr. Gunther Stent, a molecular biologist, has said. He’s an atheist, but he has seen this whole picture, and he is afraid it spells very soon the death of science; and he says it’s beginning to have that result now, on the graduate level.

[Audience] What do you mean by the intellectual schizophrenic? [17:37]

[Rushdoony] Well, it means being doubly-minded, to have a double mind; and a man who is double-minded, St. James said, is unstable in all his ways. And modern science, in the laboratory, believes that the world is created by God, because it acts on that faith. It acts on the faith that there is a law order in the universe, and they can really find out something dependable. But when it speaks openly, it says there is no God; there is no universe; it’s all chaos; it’s all a product of chance. Now if it’s all a product of chance, how can you find any order in that universe to come up with any discovery, or to make any invention, or to say that gasoline today will blow up if you throw a match on it, and tomorrow it’ll put a match out, you see. There is then no causality. There is no necessity in the world. There is no eternal decree of God behind it which keeps it on an absolute constancy at all times and makes it a totally dependable world. Does that clarify?

[Audience] No, I haven’t read your book. Maybe I should read your book {?}. It sort of give the interpretational mixture of doubt and faith there, speaking of the scientists –

[Rushdoony] Yes!

[Audience] – on one hand, like with Einstein. On one hand, he may be atheistic; on the other hand, he points to God –

[Rushdoony] Right!

[Audience] – in moments of doubt and faith ...

[Rushdoony] Well no, intellectually, he is totally doubt. But practically, if he applied his doubts in the laboratory, he couldn’t operate, you see. He cannot operate, because if you say everything is chance, how can you find any order in the universe? And everything Einstein did pointed to an order, so that it could be expressed mathematically. You cannot have a mathematical order in the universe, or order of any kind, unless there is an absolute law, an absolute mind, behind the universe. [20:10]

It was very interesting, I read something by a scientist recently, in which he said, “Not too many years ago, when we approached the human body, we were sure it was a thoroughly chemical system; so that in medical school, if you raised the fact that worry could cause ulcers, the professor would single you out as a nut. Why? Because he would go to the blackboard and he would trace out the chemical processes which led to ulcers; and he would point out that the body is a complete chemical system, which it is. But,” he said, “we have since found that is it a thorough going electrical system, a thorough going biological system, a thorough going numerical system. Now,” he said, “how many other things is it? Have we just scratched the surface with regard to the body? It is a combination of interdependent orders; of amazing perfection and complexity.”

Well now, you see, what he has been pointing to here with his thinking. Here is a masterpiece of designing. But will he then say it is a work of design by a designer. No, he will not. So he has said so much that points to God, and a Creator; and then will not admit it.

In the Epistemology class I’m going to bring a quotation or two later on this week or next, in which scientists have come to conclude that there had to be a day of creation, granted their evolutionary premises. Still there had to be a dramatic beginning someplace, a day of creation; and they use that word. They will not say the dirty word, God. And that is the dirty word to them. Well, I submit that’s schizophrenic.

[Audience] How are they able to get {?} to say there has to be the day of creation, without saying something had to do the creating?

[Rushdoony] Because they’re talking to themselves, you see, in learned journals where nobody is going to say, “Uh oh, you made a boo boo there, you see.”


[Audience] This is kind of like my first question, I guess; but if you can get a person who … I think the young people today are realizing the ridiculousness of the universities, of multiversities; and they know they need a revelation; but how do we set forth the Christian revelation, as opposed to Buddhism or all the other junk that they’re dabbling in? [23:00]

[Rushdoony] Uh huh. First of all, there is no other revelation, you see.

[Audience] Okay.

[Rushdoony] I’ll be touching on this in the Epistemology class, I think. I don’t recall. I’ve touched on it somewhere for something I prepared, but [general laughter] sometimes I get a little confused about what I’ve prepared for. There is no other religion that has any idea of revelation before Christ. They have books of wisdom, books of writing; but they are human documents. They never claim to be more. The only books of revelation we have are those that are post-Christian, that are imitative, like the Koran and the book of Mormon. So the idea of revelation is uniquely Christian, and we have to go further (and I’ll go into this in the afternoon classes) and say why no other system can have revelation; because the idea of revelation, of finished revelation, posits a totally omnipotent and sovereign God. The Mormons don’t have this. So, when you’re dealing with them, of course, you push them back. Negative apologetics is to show to them you have no ground whereon to stand; but thus saith the Lord; and then the Holy Spirit does the rest. You see, it’s wrong for us to worry about conversions. That’s not our problem. The witnesses are our responsibility; the results are God’s.


[Audience] Returning to the idea of probability, though, and especially in certain types of modern theology, you have people who say that there is a God; and they believe in God. Yet … and the idea particularly, too, of saying unless He’s dead that you cannot have faith absolutely; that Jesus Christ was who he was; that you can only have probability, higher probability, highest probability. Can you comment on how you would handle that particular problem? [25:19]

[Rushdoony] All right. First of all, ours is a theistic religion. We believe in the God of scripture. Now, most religions are not theistic; they are humanistic. Buddhism has no god. Hinduism has no god. Animism has no god. Shintoism has no god. Shintoism talks about, in translation, the word kami, K A M I, is translated as god, but it really means spirit. There are spirits for everything. For example, there’s the Benjo Kami, that you pay respect to when you go to the bathroom. He’s the god of the toilet [general laughter]. And there’s a kami for everything there’s a spirit. Now. Some religions have gods. Some religions have gods; but that’s different from having the God of scripture, because the religions that have gods … well, take the Greek and Roman religion: the gods themselves are a product of chaos, of chance, so that there is something more ultimate than the gods. It’s chaos. And whatever gods there may be in these religions, the god is not the sovereign, predestinating, creating God. He is not absolute. He is a superior being who has arisen out of chaos, evolved out of chaos, say maybe millions of ages before man did. So he’s a senior partner in the universe, and he’s working to try to make something out of this world of brute factuality just like the rest of us. Now since he’s a little stronger than we are, and he’s got a head start of a few million years and has somehow in the process conquered death, which Kenneth Heuer, a British astrophysicist, says man will do also, then it means that he’s able to exert a little more probability on events. But only the God of Scripture as the sovereign God absolutely predestinates all things, so that the Council of Jerusalem declared, “Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world.” So that our Lord said that the very hairs of our head are all numbered; not a sparrow falls which your Father in heaven knows it. Now, if that is not your God, you have probabilities; and you do not have the God of Scripture. You have a god whom you may give a Biblical name and description too, but he’s like the gods of Greece. He’s a product of chaos. And you may have tied him to Jesus Christ in some fashion, but it’s not the Christ of scripture, Who proclaims that sovereign God, and who said before Abraham was, I Am. So, it’s another gospel; it’s another faith. This is why you cannot say there is Calvinism and other forms of Christianity. No! There’s only one form of Christianity, and that’s the kind that scripture presents us; and which the Reformed faith tries to set forth. The others have another god; And sooner or later it becomes implicit and explicit. And this is why, whenever Arminianism begins to think intellectually, it very quickly goes into humanism, does it not? There have been any number of Arminian groups that have broken away and started a Bible college or a seminary; and in five or ten years … and I can name several of them in California. They’ve built multi-million campuses, beautiful places, not too many years ago; and already now, they’re talking humanism and unbelief, because their god is not sovereign. And if God is not sovereign, who is? Well, it’s like the old saying, predestination is the Devil casting a vote, and God casting a vote, and man casts the deciding vote. But who’s sovereign? Man is. That’s Arminianism. Man is sovereign. So their god reveals himself, ultimately, as man. It’s another gospel. [30:17]


[Audience] Uh, could you comment a little on Francis Schaeffer’s book {?} ; and then how he deals with one he wrote {?}

[Rushdoony] [break in audio between 30:47 and 30:51, resuming with an additional response by Rushdoony, as follows] Yes and no, because it was some time ago that I read it, and I don’t remember enough of it to comment on it. To a degree, Francis Schaeffer, whom I know personally and like, would agree with me. I would say his trouble is that he goes so far in presenting this, but he’s presenting it really, I’m afraid to say: see how terrible the world is. So he gives you a catalogue of horrors, which is to prepare you for the fact—well, there’s only one answer, it’s the second coming—because he is premillennial, unfortunately. I think he would [general laughter] increase his power tremendously if he were not. But, I feel that we are called, first, to make this analysis, to cut the ground out from under the enemy; and then to conquer in Christ’s name, because I believe that we are the destined heirs of creation. The meek—that is, the blessed tamed of God; those who have been harnessed by Him—shall inherit the earth, and delight themselves in the abundance of peace. And I believe that. I believe that. So when I look around when I travel back and forth across the country when I go to Notre Dame, or to the university of Illinois, or Indiana, or elsewhere, I think—I think as I go through there—it’s yours now, but it’s going to be ours one of these days [general laughter], and I believe that. I believe that.

Recently I took a breather for a few days, and with my wife, we got into the car and headed out for the desert country in California and Southern Nevada. We like the desert. My wife was a Pennsylvanian, used to the neatly manicured countryside of lovely Western Pennsylvania, was first horrified by the desert country when she first came out West, because, she said, “It’s not chummy country. You could die here and nobody would know it for a generation.” But now she loves it. But as we were going through there, the same thought occurred to both of us: in due time, the desert shall blossom like the rose, and under the people of God, it shall produce, and produce abundantly. I believe that. And I believe I’m called to work towards that end, by bringing every area of life and thought into captivity to Christ. [33:43] Well, so much for the little testimony.

You haven’t had a question , I believe, yet.

[Audience] Well, what was that line of bringing every area of life? I’ve read some things that would seem to flip that, let’s say, before bringing Christ to, let’s say, the unsaved; and I just wonder—I don’t have any view on it—but I just wonder about that. How can we bring every area of life under the control, unless, you know, to unbelievers, so to speak. Shouldn’t our first priority … or, or, how would you reconcile that if we forsake the gospel {?} ?

[Rushdoony] You do it all simultaneously. That’s why when I was ordained, I asked for and got ordination as an evangelist. I intended to be a writer ultimately, devoting my life to a ministry of writing. But I first worked among the Chinese in San Francisco, and then among the American Indians in the most isolated reservation in the West. But I wanted ordination as an evangelist, because that is basic to our conquest.


[Audience] {?} having an absolute law over us, and that{?} logically takes you back to an absolute monarchy. I’m not sure I see how {?}

[Rushdoony] Oh, well. You cannot have law without a god. If the universe is a product of chance, why, how can there be any law in it? If it’s a product of chance, tomorrow I could be twenty years younger, you see. There’s no rhyme or reason. Or tomorrow, I might take a step and fly. There’d be no law structure in the universe to give any order and consistency. But there is an absolute law in everything. And that law is the product of a mind. Law indicates sequence, planning, predestinating. In other words, law and predestination are two different ways of talking about the same thing. This is why the modern secular state is a predestinarian state. It denies that God is the predestinator, and its plan and its law is the council of predestination. They believe in predestination in Washington, and in London, Moscow, Peking, Paris and elsewhere; but their predestination is the predestination of man, not of God. They know what they’re doing. [36:44]


[Audience] What ways does the worldview of the thinkers in the intellectual camp of the universities affect the mass of unthinking people, whose only source might be the T.V. or newspapers or things like that?

[Rushdoony] A very good question. I am going to be dealing with that in the last hour of my Epistemology class, and I am touching on it all the way through. The whole crisis of our age, the pessimism, the cynicism, is a product of this belief that there is no meaning, no purpose, no mind to anything. And there is a studied mindlessness and a purposeless that comes through on the most superficial and popular program on television, or of a movie. This is why people are so down and pessimistic and hopeless. Man has never had the affluence or better conditions of living than he has today; and man has never been more despairing. And he is despairing precisely because life is meaningless. Or, to give it the technical term that philosophers give it, which has been picked up on campus circles—life is absurd. Why is it absurd? Because, on the one hand, you have mind and logic and man; and on the other hand, you have nothing but brute factuality; and it’s a hopeless situation. It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous.

I believe I cited in either the afternoon class yesterday, or the morning class, Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre, as an existentialist who believes that life is absurd, was once asked about the fact that so many of his pupils have committed suicide, and why didn’t he commit suicide, since he says the goal of man is nihilation. Man desire is to be god, but this is hopeless. Therefore, nihilation is the only way he can express his freedom—suicide. They said why haven’t you committed suicide? And his answer was, “I see no reason to live, but then I see no reason to die. So, why do anything?” That’s logical, at least. But you see this is the kind of thinking that has infected everyone. You have it on the popular level. Now, most of your popular publications are existentialist. Let me cite some of them. Time magazine and Fortune magazine: I’ve sat in New York at lunch with one of the top persons in the Luce(?) publications, existentialist to the core. And this is what comes through. Playboy, which is perhaps the most widely read or looked at publication in the United States is existentialist to the core, anarchistic existentialism. Then go down the line with all the campuses. The public schools: what is their philosophy? Dewey and progressivism. Well, progressivism, or pragmatism, is the American form of existentialism. So, is it any wonder that kids have, in a sense, forsaken life? The church fathers followed, because they were infected by Greek thinking, the Greek pessimism, and went out into the desert: life is hopeless; what’s the use of everything? They showed their neo-platonism, thereby. And I have a book coming out entitled (it’s a little paperback), Flight From Humanity: The Neo-Platonic Influence on Christianity. [40:49]

Now, your hippies have done the same thing: life is hopeless; let’s forsake any cleanliness or decent dress; let’s treat sex as though it were nothing, because life is nothing. And that’s their philosophy. So, all of this, you see, has infected everyone in our country. And the public schools are the great vehicle of it. You want to produce the hippie: leave your child in the public schools. No Christian has a right to put a child in a public school. A Christian child belongs in a Christian school. Period.


[Audience] Dr. Rushdoony, do you think that there’s any place at all—I would guess you wouldn’t from what you said—for the word ”probability” for the Christian, whether in science, or what have you? I’m completely thinking about science, because I know some Presbyterian elders who taught me, and what they taught me; and, well, electron or ultrasound, they made everything a probability at that level, to them. It seems to me if they’re going to say it at that level, they’ve got to say it in another level, {?}. Is that just another example of a humanistic attitude? [42:08]

[Rushdoony] Yes. Right. You see, we believe in predestination. Now, if you’re going to have science, you’ve got to have predestination. You cannot have science logically without that. Well, with the eighteenth century, man did not want the God of scripture, the God of John Calvin. So, what did he do? He said, “Well, I don’t want this, but I’ve still got to have this element of the law in the universe to have science. So we will make, not God the source of determination, but nature. So the eighteenth century deified nature, and it talked about determinism—a naturalistic determinism—to retain this, you see. But then along came Darwin, and Darwin said nature is nothing. It’s just a product of chance. It’s senseless. It’s blind chance. Therefore, there can no longer be a naturalistic determinism. All we have which shows mind and determination is man. That’s all. So if there is any determinism in the world—any predestination—man, the planner, has to do it. So, the minute Darwin’s book came out, the happiest reader was Karl Marx. And he and Engels wrote to each other letters of congratulation. They said, “We have won. Now socialism is inevitable, because once you eliminate this world with Darwin, and say there is nothing but blind chance, you’ve got to have law in the universe; you’ve got to have the determinism of predestination. And who will be a source of predestination? It will be man, the planner, and that means socialism.” So, they felt that they had triumphed. But of course man, the planner, as he faces brute factuality and tries to impose his will on it—and I’ve cited Kenneth Heuer and his idea that we are going to conquer death; and we’re going to overcome the death of the sun. Kenneth Heuer said when the sun dies we will create another sun and put it up in the heavens—you see, this is the way they’ve been talking for some time. And in my book on The Mythology of Science, I deal with some of these things. [45:11]

But the average man is beginning to despair of the whole thing. And his reaction is: so, a hundred years of Darwin. He doesn’t state it self-consciously, but he knows unconsciously, and the world is getting more and more brutal. We’ve had Hitler. We’ve had Stalin. We’re having more and more loss of liberty. We’re becoming the guinea pigs of the scientific planners. And they don’t buy it, so that even your new leftists students are rebelling against the whole idea of the establishment; the plan; predestination by man. And so it’s a bitter cynicism. Now, when you talk about any possibility of anything other than the absolute counsel of God, you’re either going to have to take this, or this, and say there’s a world of brute factuality, and man somehow is going to be the planner and force all of these ultimately to do exactly what he wants. And this, the far-out men of science are actually saying. So you’ve got to be consistent, you see. You can say, well, from our perspective we don’t see the absolute plan, but we know it is there. So instead of a world of probability, it is a world of predestination. God is absolute. The very hairs of our head are all numbered. Anything short of that is schizophrenic. It’s inconsistent. And whenever you’re schizophrenic, double-minded, unstable in all your ways, you’re like the man with two masters. And our Lord said, “No man can serve two masters. Ultimately, you will love the one, and hate the other.”

Let’s see, you haven’t asked questions.

[Audience] Every now and then you come up against somebody or some other Christian that’s totally against your apologetic system, and it’s usually on this basis: they say, “We can’t have an apologetic, because what’s the use of defending your faith, if the one you’re talking to can’t handle the facts anyway?”

[Rushdoony] Uh, could you say that again? I couldn’t quite hear.

[Audience] They say you can’t have an apologetic, if you’re a presuppositionalist; you can’t really have an apologetic, because the person you’re trying to defend the faith with—or you’re trying to defend the faith with him—can’t handle the facts; he can’t use facts; he can’t understand facts; so what’s the use of trying to use apologetics.

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes. This is the question of common ground. What common ground do you have with an unbeliever? In other words, you can’t talk to him, if you’re a presuppositionalist. I have a chapter on this in a forthcoming symposium [laughter], because this is a question that is raised so often. [48:12]

Now, the attitude of rationalistic apologetics, humanistic apologetics, is that we all have in common certain categories of logic and reason, as derived from Greek principles—the naturalistic premise. And our position is we do have a common ground, because we are all created by the same God, in His image. And no matter how fallen, the witness of God is in us, as St. Paul says in Romans 1:17 , following, that all men have the truth of God; all the things visible and invisible are revealed unto them and known to them apart from scripture; that they hold the truth (and as you’ve been no doubt been taught in Greek, the context there means to suppress, to hold back) the truth in unrighteousness. So the problem of common ground is not that we have a common rationality from some naturalistic premise, but that we are alike, created by God; and the witness of God is inescapable in every man, and they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. [49:33]

You see, when you try to reason with people, you sometimes find that you may beat them down rationally, but you’re not facing the fact unless you get to the noetic effect of sin. When I went to work on the Indian reservation, just off the reservation there was a very brilliant man with a university education. He knew more languages than I did. He was very fluent in Greek, and could read classical Greek, as well as Koine Greek, so he was very pleasant to talk to. He was working as a shoemaker in this little mining camp of about a hundred and forty-four people at the edge of the reservation. And, of course, after awhile I began to realize why a man of his brilliance was there. It was a good place to hide out from the law. There was no law for a hundred miles around, and he had good reason to hide from the law. So John told me he couldn’t believe the Bible, or he couldn’t swallow that bit about Jonah and the whale. So I went into the entire story. I pointed out there are archaeological evidences that such a thing happened; that we have found a tablet which shows someone being regurgitated by a whale on the shores of North Africa, and so on and so forth, and a great many other things. Well, I satisfied him that maybe there was some truth to that. So he went on to another thing. And I spent time after time, week after week, answering one thing after another. And I’d satisfy him, and then I’d find I was getting the same questions after awhile. So this one time, I woke up to what was going on; I was getting back to Jonah about the third time, so I said, “You know, John, it isn’t Jonah that’s bothering you. It’s the fact that you’re a sinner, and you don’t want to change; and this is the real intellectual objection you have. You would have to change. You’d have to be born again, to believe in God. And you would rather have your sin and raise a lot of objections about a hundred and one things in scripture that you know you don’t take that seriously.” Well, John shut up immediately, and he wouldn’t talk to me again, thereafter. You see, I’d gotten to the point. He knew. The natural man knows. That’s what Scripture says: that he suppresses the truth in unrighteousness.

Yes. [52:36]

[Audience] You said you’ve done a lot of talking to student groups, and in light of the fact we’ve mentioned how many students are disillusioned now with the establishment and all, it seems like this would be the perfect opportunity for someone, particularly in your area, to satisfy them. Have you had much response from the students?

[Rushdoony] Oh, marvelous! In fact, sometimes, on some campuses, it’s almost like a revolution takes place when I speak. I think they’d like to pick up the chairs and throw it at me, their reaction is so violent, sometimes—pro and con. And, of course, if you talk about Christ and the absolute sovereignty of God in the intellectual atmosphere, you have committed the ultimate act of indecency and intellectual pornography [general laughter], and I mean that seriously! I, I know that’s the reaction when I talk to them. It’s just almost the unforgivable sin to—in an intellectual atmosphere, you know—to talk about Christ and to talk about the absolute sovereignty of God. And it makes it worse if you do it with intellectual ability, you see. [laughter] Well, that is very offensive. But I’ll tell you this: I get more results on these secular campuses where they’ve never heard the Gospel, really, than I do at Christian colleges. That’s where I really get the static, and I figure it’s a waste to go to most—not all—but most of these church colleges, because, uh, they’re so hardened. And it isn’t they’re hostile—they’re contemptuous; and there is a difference.


[Audience] When you go to these universities, what is your general procedure in beginning the discussion or the lecture. Do they generally invite you to come on a certain topic, and you use that as an introduction, or what’s your procedure?

[Rushdoony] Sometimes I’m assigned a topic in terms of one of my books; and other times, I am free to pick my own subject.

[Audience] When you’re free to pick, then how will you approach this issue?

[Rushdoony] Well, I just tell them what I think, no differently than I would here. For example, at one college I spoke to the philosophy classes. They were dealing, in one class, on Aristotle and his ethics. So that was just a perfect opportunity for me. Oh, I couldn’t have asked for more; and in another class, it was anthropology. I gave three lectures and the professor all but died. He hated me [general laughter]. He was a total relativist, and he had nothing to do with me being assigned to his class. And so for a whole week, I lectured his class and ripped everything. I had his outline sent to me by the administration [general laughter] on the total relativism of ethics. And the point I made was that when you talk about relativism, you’re talking about something being relative to something. So I said, “Christian ethics is relativistic, too. It’s relative to the absolute God.” And I said, “Humanistic ethics is relative to the absolute man.” And I said, “Take your pick!” I left one very angry professor, but some very, very happy students.

Well, our time is up.


Apologetics - II

Professor: R.J Rushdoony

Subject: Christian Reconstruction

Lesson: 2-3

Genre: Lecture

Track: 17

Dictation Name: RR103A2


Year: 1960’s - 1970’s

(Introductory Speaker)….Thee for this day that thou hast given to us, we thank Thee for this further occasion of further study. For this special opportunity of having this visitor with us. We pray Thy blessing upon him that he may be granted insight from Thy Word as he speaks to us concerning this matter of Apologetics. And that Thou wilt guide and direct us and help us in all things to submit our minds and our thinking and our actions to Thy Word. And we ask it in Christ’s name, Amen

One thing I wanted to mention in opening with the class today was, Dr. Rushdoony, one of the questions I think that I have the greatest trouble in answering students is the question that you had put to you last time is the matter of, if we really believe in the inability of the unregenerate mind, it’s not the same as our mind, how can we appeal to it? That’s the question that there is a great deal of difficulty with, I think if you could elaborate on that for half of the starting point, and then go on with however you’d like to conduct the class then.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

The question basically has to do with common ground. What common ground is there between the unregenerate man, and the regenerate man?

Now in terms of what Scripture teaches us, and very definitely in terms of what St. Paul declares after Moses, in the Song of Moses, Romans 1:18 following. The natural man, every man, knows the things of God visible and invisible. That God is the maker of all things. And he hold this truth, he suppresses it in unrighteousness. Everything in him witnesses to the truth. So that when you speak, though he resist you because of his sin, he still knows that you are telling the truth.

One of the fundamental principles of Apologetics that we must hold to is the noetic effect of sin. Now in the Aristotelian, Hellenic scholastic tradition, it is held that the mind of man is not tainted or affected by the fall. So that the mind of man can reason impartially and objectively in terms of all facts that are given. As Christians, we cannot hold to this without denying the faith. We must hold that the fall of man, that sin has tainted every aspect of his being. So that man as thinker refuses, absolutely refuses, to think as he should. His mind is depraved. It is twisted. So he rejects that thinking which leads to God. He suppresses the evidence in his own being that points to the Lord.

However, and this is the catastrophe for natural man, the only kind of thinking that brings a focus to his being is that which points to the Lord.

Let me illustrate with a very homely illustration.

My son had some car trouble not too long ago, and had a new motor put in his car. He is a student, he’s working his own way through college. He’s in his first year, he works four nights a week from eleven o’clock at night to seven in the morning at a grocery store, goes from there to class, so he is working hard, and getting good grades.

So, he got this new motor, and the car just did not work. It would sputter and cough and choke, it wouldn’t go anywhere. Well, when we drove back to the shop with it, they lifted up the hood and looked at it. It was obvious that whoever had assembled that new motor prior to its installation, must have had a few drinks. Because they had put the wrong carburetor for the wrong car on his car. Naturally, it didn’t work. [5:51]

Now this is the way the mind of the natural man functions. Sin has deformed it. It cannot function properly. But when he thinks in terms of Scriptural thinking, suddenly everything works. It purrs. And the natural man knows this. And so when he resists, he is resisting everything that points to God. Everything that points to his own health. This is why, in one of the greatest texts of Scripture I think, one of the most powerful, Our Lord, speaking as wisdom, long before his incarnation, in Proverbs 8:36 said, by me kings reign. All they that hate me love death. He that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul. All they that hate me love death.

So that, the natural man, when he rejects the witness of the Gospel, is rejecting life. He is choosing death, he is wronging his own soul, he is unable to function. Everything in him, therefore, witnesses in your behalf. So that the proper Apologetic approach is not a rationalistic one, it is in terms of the whole counsel of God, it is in terms of the kind Apologetics that Van til has developed. You cut out the ground from under him. You demonstrate to him that his mind, his being could only function in the terms of the Law of God.


When you think in terms of Scripture, then you work properly. But he has the natural ability to think in terms of Scripture. Can the natural man do this?

(Dr. Rushdoony)
Ah yes. I don’t like the term ‘natural man’. I don’t think it’s biblical, really. ‘Fallen man’. The natural man was the man God created. Sin is not natural; sin is a deformation of man. God created man wholly good. Sin comes in as a deformation, and we are restored by God’s grace to that estate in which we were created. And we find the fulfillment of that in the new creation, you see. But the fallen man, yes. [8:55]


Dr. Rushdoony, in this Dr. Van Til uses the idea of a saw that’s set wrong, that cuts wrong, but it does have noetic effect of sin, affected his logic. This is a thing that maybe doesn’t come through clearly in some of his writings.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Yes. He does go into that at one point, where he deals with the laws of contradiction and so on.

It has affected his logic, because, as he develops his logic, he develops it in terms of his own autonomy and his sovereignty. The Aristotelian laws of logic presuppose the natural man as the ultimate judge. So that, the law of contradiction in terms of Aristotle says in effect, what my net catch does not catch is not fish. What I say is a contradiction is a contradiction. You see.

And we must not be bound by the Aristotelian laws of logic, because the Aristotelian laws of logic presuppose the autonomy of natural man, ah, fallen man, as judge, as god. As his own principle of ultimacy. Now, Carnell, of course, is emphatic on using the Aristotelian laws of logic and he says, bring on your revelations, if they do not meet the standard of Aristotle’s logic then we will have none of them. But, he says, they pass. Oh, but says another Aristotelian who isn’t a Christian, I say they don’t pass. And my mind is just as ultimate as your mind. And where are you?

Yes. [10:57]


I’m having some problems with maybe ..(?).. words you’re using, when you say it doesn’t function, do you mean it can’t function ….(?) …. chemically. Or are you saying the result of its functioning are wrong?

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Let’s say it malfunctions. Now, my son’s car was sputtering and going along. But it was not functioning in any true sense. So the fallen man is able to function in the sense that he works, he thinks, he produces the science, he invents, does some very remarkable things which is a witness to the fact that he is made in the image of God. But in spite of all this, he continually frustrates himself. And he denies the validity of what he does. We will deal with Einstein denying the validity of what he has done, this afternoon at four o’clock in Epistemology. He has to, logically you see. He cannot say that there is a truth apart from man. Well that’s not functioning properly. If you discover something of very great importance, and then say, but it isn’t true because it can’t be true, otherwise there’s a God.


So we’re talking about spiritual matters.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

No. We’re talking about matters of science. Einstein had no concern with spiritual matters. But Einstein could not say that the work he did was true. He had to say it was false.


But still, behind this is a spiritual aspect. …(?)…. The scientific realm until he got to the part where he says, well, here. ….(?)…. For him to reach the point where he says there must be a God, he says, well no this is not true. So (?) scientifically (?) so behind this is a spiritual aspect.

(Dr. Rushdoony)
Yes, yes. You’re right. Up to a point he functions on the assumption there is a God, there is a truth, to nature a law in nature, a God given order. But when he comes to the point where he must say, indeed there is an order and that’s why I can produce scientifically valid work, he says there is no order, there is no God, I have done nothing, it’s all a work of the imagination. It has no truth.


This is, I think, the reaction of ..(?).. Is it not? She is reacting somewhat to this precept of saying …(?)… I don’t see that. In a spiritual sense, no. …(?)… but in the physical realm, I think it’s science, and is a (?) activity..(?)… [14:15]

(Dr. Rushdoony)

They are good, but they are built on presuppositions he cannot have. I’m glad you mention Ian Rand. Because Ian Rand, you see, begins with the self, the ego, that’s her basic premise. But she calls her philosophy objectivism, why? Because she knows the epistemological problem we’ve been talking about in the Epistemology class. I don’t know whether, you’re not, are you? Well, we’ve been dealing with the epistemological problem, the inability of man to demonstrate in terms of his unbelief that there is a real world outside of his mind. He cannot prove it without admitting there is a God. Because then he would have to say there is a pre-established order, a pattern in the universe, a God given eternal decree. So the natural man in terms of epistemology denies all this. And he would rather say there is no order, I don’t know whether the outside world really exists, I can’t prove it intellectually. There’s only brute factuality, in order to deny God. And yesterday in the Epistemology class I quoted (Latamere Lenning?) the Marxist. And Lenning, of course, as a modern philosopher and epistemologist who is in this tradition, does not want to admit that there is a real world out here, with order and law in it, because then he would have to admit God. Of course, he says, nobody except some kooks, like the Christian scientists or somebody in an insane asylum, will deny that there is a real world out there. But we cannot prove it, in terms of our atheistic premises. So what will we do? We will operate on the premise of naïve realism. We will take it by faith.


Plato, for example.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Well, yes, in a sense, Plato posited on faith, a realm of ideas and universals and a realm of matter. On faith. So they took, instead of God on faith, the material world on faith. Lenning and Plato. They cannot account for the world. They cannot account for it. So they either deny it’s there, or say we’ll accept it in terms of naïve realism.




(Dr. Rushdoony)

Oh yes. The noetic effect of sin, and I have a section on this in my book, The One And The Many, this is a little plug, is this. The effect upon knowledge of man’s fall. In the Hellenic-Aristotelian scholastic Armenian tradition, man’s mind, and sometimes man’s will, with a few thinkers, has not been affected by the Fall. The rest of man has been. But his reason is immune to the Fall. Therefore he can think just as good since the Fall, as before the Fall. And therefore if you present man with the right kind of reasons, you’ll make a Christian out of him in effect. In other words, he can be saved by knowledge. This is what it amounts to. We will be dealing with this point precisely in Epistemology this afternoon. Faith and knowledge. Now, faith and knowledge in terms of Scripture are inseparable. But no man is saved by knowledge. No man is saved by reason. Man’s reason is as Fallen as the rest of him, in fact man’s reason is at work to subvert the knowledge of God, to hold it down, to deny it, to suppress it. So, this is what the noetic effect of sin means. The fact that knowledge is tainted. That knowledge is perverted by the fact of man’s Fall. if you deny that sin has a noetic effect, you’re saying, in the Aristotelian-Tomistic tradition, that sin has not hurt man’s reasoning, and that man can reason just as clearly when he is Fallen as before his Fall.

Yes. [19:23]



(Dr. Rushdoony)

Noetic is spelled N O E T I C.



Periodically you hear people say that the human responsibility and the (?) of God run in parallel lines, and cannot be brought together. (?) by what standard (?) Christ co-existing at the same time within the framework of God being the creator. Can you elaborate on that a little more?

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Yes. That’s a good question, and a very important one for us to understand. The greatest statement of this is in the West Minster Confession of Faith on God’s Eternal Decree. Now, God is the first clause. God also has primary and absolute freedom. Everything that God possesses is absolute. This is why, because God is God. He predestines all things that come to past. Now man is created in the image of God. He is the image-bearer. Man is a secondary cause. Not primary. Man has a secondary freedom. The freedom of a creature. Now, I do not have the freedom to say, go to now, next year I think I shall be twenty-nine again. I don’t have that freedom. Nor do I have the freedom to say, or to have said, I would like to be born at such and such a time, or to postpone my life since I don’t like the prospect for the next couple of years, and step back into the picture at such and such a time. Or, why wasn’t I born into a millionaire family? It would have solved a lot of problems for me. You get the point.

I can’t do those things. There is a whole world of things I cannot do. Now this no inhibition on my freedom, is it? Do you feel inhibited and un-free and a slave because you cannot be sixteen again? If you would ask my wife, she would also tell you that I’m no plumber. It’s a problem if anything goes wrong with the plumbing. A real problem. It’s an expensive problem, because we call someone in.

I’m not free to do a lot of things that I would rather do, than pay somebody else to do. I am free to be only what God created me to be. It’s a secondary freedom, there’s no violence upon me, you see. Now if you were to tell me, quit speaking now, I’m full gone, and tell me you’re tired of hearing what I’m saying and you don’t agree with me, this would be an imposition upon my freedom because I want to speak. But I am free to that which God created me to do. And even though everything that I am, he predestined the very hairs on my head. There is no violence done to me, I am free to be that which I was created to be. I have responsibility. I have a moral accountability. Now there is a mystery here, and will never understand it unless we have the mind of God, which we will never have. But the fact is that mine is a secondary causality and a secondary freedom, and the only way you can have any kind of freedom on the Created area, is on a secondary basis.

To illustrate, Greek philosophy could not expect this. Greek philosophy held to a very different picture. It believed that man was his own god. And as a result, Greek philosophy set out to exult the man god. Of primary freedom. Primary freedom as essential to him.

And the thesis of Greek philosophy was know thyself. Not no god, but know thyself, after all if you are god, then the most important thing for you to do is to study yourself. But the tragedy of Greek thought was that it ended up with total pessimism and cynicism and despair. Because man very quickly felt that, well here I am, the free god, the lord of creation. God over all. But my environment limits me. So I’m not entirely free. The stars, because they came to believe in astrology, limit me, my hereditary limits me, my wife limits me, my children limit me. Now, I’m not joking. This is the way they began to think, so there was nothing but pessimism and cynicism and despair. [26:23]

There’s a very interesting book on this subject, contrasting these two. It’s written by a man who’s not a Christian, he’s a classical scholar, I think he died recently. Charles Norris Cochrane. Christian And Classical Culture. It’s now available in an Oxford university paperback for two forty-five. The book may be in your library. Charles Norris Cochrane. Christianity And Classical Culture. It’s quite a remarkable book, because what this scholar does, is to say, here’s a strange thing. When the Church fathers came to do battle with the philosophers of Greece and Rome, the philosophers of Greece and Rome were defending the freedom of man, the Church fathers were defending the freedom of God and were saying that man is totally predestined by God. And, he said, what happened? As it wound up, it was these men who were producing free men who were standing up to the world, and these men who were winding up saying man is nothing but a slave. And it all began by exalting man to the place of God, and here, only when man was put under the predestination of God and made a secondary cause, and given a secondary freedom, that he had any freedom at all. And that’s what they want. So, as he traces the matter intellectually, he says, it’s no wonder the Christians won, they were the only ones with a doctrine of freedom. They had a doctrine of freedom because they believed in predestination. Now if you want a good popular statement of that, concerning what’s happened since the Reformation, Betner’s Reformed Doctrine of Predestination gives you a good statement.

But here you have it philosophically represented by a brilliant classical scholar.

Yes. [28:38]


I don’t want to go off on a wild tangent, but briefly, tell me, what your reply would be to someone saying predestination …(?)…

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Yes. I would say, on the contrary, it makes him a free man, and your attitude makes man into nothing. Because when man tries to be that which he is not, the first cause in the universe, his own god, it’s a pretension that is the same as insanity. So when you tell me that you are not predestined by the absolute God, you are saying that you are sovereign. And I say, that if you feel that you are god, you belong in an institution.

You see, I’m not asking that you be snotty to people, unless they get impertinent. And then pin their ears back. Do it kindly and firmly, but tell them off. We must get over the idea that we are going to bring people into the Kingdom of God by being nice. It’s not niceness that wins people to Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit.

One of the first things I learned in the ministry, which was a tremendous blow to my ego, and then a tremendous comfort to me, I had a situation where this one family called me in, they had a problem with their daughter. And they asked for my counsel, and they were ready to follow it, they were desperate. And everything I counseled backfired. It was one mess after another; I can’t begin to tell you what a horrible series of blunders it was. I thought the counsel was good, it was the kind of counsel I’d given again and again, I thought it was good, Godly counsel, but everything backfired. Everything turned out horribly, monstrously wrong. The ironic part of it was that out of that horrible mess, that I just don’t want to get into, it’s painful to recall now twenty years or more later, but the girl is a Christian, and the parents became Christians almost immediately, and all I could say was that it was of the Holy Spirit. But, you know, that was a tremendous lesson to me, because I was in so many other situations that I felt I’d really contributed my nickels-worth. Well, every nickels-worth that I contributed in that case was a slug.

So, just proceed in terms of the Word of God, and a plain spoken reckoning with the realities of the situation. The Holy Spirit is going to do it, not you.

Yes. [31:54]


Along this line, I think there has been a hesitation, in any ?, to bring up the subject of the sovereignty of God because it’s vintage, to ….?…. to Him. And the idea has been, well, I don’t want to offend Him. Yet this is the very heart of the presentation. And our defense is the same. That God is self-sufficient, and their reaction and (?) to that, is only that which the Fallen creature will do. And to me, of course I’ve just come to the Reformed faith in the last few years, and it was offensive to me. But when I saw who God was, I mean, it made a difference, and I’ve noticed, in my evangelism, presuming God is sovereign, that people have come to know Christ in a genuine conversion through the Holy Spirit. It may be that even after I talked to them, and they went at it, and they went back and studied it, and found out who God really was.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Right. Whit, you are so right, we must always begin with the sovereignty of God. Because if we don’t, we are really falsifying the picture. And, of course it’s offensive to them. I’m a Christian to whom the doctrine is very clear. But I still must confess, because I’m far, far from perfectly sanctified. There’re times when it’s offensive to me, when I’d like to nudge God a little bit and say, couldn’t you let me run things for about five minutes? I could straighten out a lot of things.

That’s the sinful urge in me. But with regard to the sovereignty of God, if I may take a little time to tell you a couple of incidences, we can go from Apologetics to witnessing. When I first went to the mission field, after finishing seminary, to an Indian reservation, the most isolated reservation in those days in the country, a hundred miles from any paved road in those days, there’s a paved road in there now. I was the only missionary in the area, and as a result, I had more funerals in those eight and a half years than most ministers have in a lifetime. I had, I think, five hundred some funerals. Every Indian, every rancher, I helped lay out the bodies, and stored them often in the house until we could take care of them and shovel them under. Had everything to do, besides performing the service. And I called on hundreds of hundreds of people who were sick and dying. Well, I believed in predestination, but it was something of a problem. It’s a knotty, hard doctrine to talk about. That was my attitude. But I found as I was dealing with the sick and dying, that it was the only doctrine, ultimately, that I could talk about. Because as they asked me about why, why am I going through this long period of agony and suffering. Why is this happening to me? I could only appeal, and the only argument that made sense, was the sovereignty of God. His eternal decree. And Romans eight twenty-eight.

That’s why I was so deeply, deeply, deeply grieved by that horrible Arminian article in The Journal, not too long ago, on Romans 8:28 . And I am very happy, and it’s a witness to the Church, that they had more letters of protest about that article than any other article they’ve every published. Thanks be to God. [36:11]

Any rate. So I was telling them, I don’t know the reason for it, you can’t feel it as joy, but we are told in Scripture that we can count it all joy. Why? Because God makes all things work together for good to them that love him. To them who are the called according to His purpose. So I said, you may not know why in time, or you may. But you will surely know an eternity, the purpose for it, and you will see, since the very hairs of your head are all numbered, there’s nothing purposeless. Well, the joy they felt at knowing it wasn’t senseless, you see, they were suffering, but their suffering would have been twice as great if it were meaningless, if it were senseless. If it were pointless. But know that in the providence of God it was going to add up to good, that was joy. And I understood why Calvin said it was for the comfort of the saints, this doctrine. [37:25]

The other incident was a very dramatic one. I went to the hospital, I was told that there was this woman, a very wealthy woman, a spoiled woman, was dying. Somebody ought to witness to her before she died. So I went there, it was to a Catholic hospital, and the sisters were very co-operative always with me. And I was told she was in a coma. But I had learned by that time, people who were in a coma very often are still able to hear. I’ve had enough of them recover and tell me so. So I went in, and I read some Scripture, and I said, I don’t know whether you can hear me or not, but this is what the Word of God declares, and this is the way of salvation. And I prayed and left. A time or two her eyes flickered open. I went back the next day, and she was in bed, sitting up, ready to greet me. She knew I’d been there, and she said as she heard me pray she knew the Lord was going to hear. Well, within a week, the only problem that was keeping her from going home was that there was no one to take care of her when she went home. And as soon as they found a companion and a nurse, she was to go home. So I was reading some other passage of Scripture, and I don’t recall what it was, and it had to deal with the sovereignty of God. And she objected to it. And I tried to explain it to her, and she said, I don’t like that. Do you mean to say that God could have healed me, and could have said no to me? And I said, of course. God can say no to us in-spite of anything we may want. She said, well I don’t like that kind of a God. And I said, there is no other God. And she turned her face to the wall and wouldn’t listen to me anymore. So I left, I came back the next day, she was in a coma, and dead by night. It was that dramatic.

It is a remarkable doctrine. It’s something we’ve got to promote first and last, because people can experience a lot of things, they like what they get from the Lord, but they haven’t taken the Lord, just his gifts. And the doctrine separates the wheat from the chaff.

Yes. [40:17]


And this is the part that ? bothers me. The comfort of the saints first came when you spoke of that, that is huge, but the second lady and others who are laying dying, and you know that the Word has come to them time and time again through the years, with no effect. How do you go to that, to those persons and you offer again Christ, and there is no response. And this lady, I presume, had turned her back…

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Oh, she died unregenerate, there isn’t the slightest doubt in my mind, and I think, particularly guilty before God because she had been really, miraculously, snatched back from the grave for a time. Well, the thing is, the results are not ours to worry about, the duty is ours. And I think one of the weaknesses we have is, we feel we have failed if we haven’t won everybody we witness to. And that’s not our business. So whether it’s in Apologetics, or in evangelism, whether it’s from the pulpit or whether it’s on a campus, you make your witness in terms of the sovereign God and His Word. And you leave the results to God. That’s His province. Not ours. It isn’t that you have failed, it is what God has determined.



Do you think it for …(?)… do the Arminians have a different god, (?) they don’t declare God is the really, the absolute God? (?) perspective of those people who do acknowledge Christ, in other words, they believe on a Christ, ? salvation, yet they don’t believe in the God that we believe. Is that saying they aren’t really, you know, regenerate or not? ?

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Well, of course, by their fruits shall ye know them, but in many of these cases, well I could name someone who, well, to cite an example, some years ago in a California city, I had the misfortune, I had to take part in the (ministerial?) association, I didn’t want any association with them, but it was a part of the requirement when I first went to that church that I was to try to co-operate for a while. So. I was made President of the ministerial association, and there was this city-wide campaign, and it was a horrible thing, I won’t go into the evangelist, he has since died, and it was a mess from start to finish in terms of the financial operation and so on. But, I made a study of the, all those who came forward. And followed through in all the churches that they had gone to, or had any connection with. And it was an Arminian campaign, and what we saw, was these were people who went forward every time there was an evangelist that came into the community, some of them, say, ten or fifteen times. I don’t think they were ever saved. [43:46]

Now, there are people who, at this point, schizophrenic. Now, Wesleyanism. There’s no question that Wesleyan theology is humanistic, at critical points. There’s no question in my mind that John Wesley had some horrible, horrible things to say, he was so hostile to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and predestination. And you can read the debates there, Augustus Toplady who wrote Rock of Ages, was the great opponent of Wesley. Incidentally, there’s a marvelous, marvelous story about Toplady. Once when he was preaching the sovereignty of God in South Asia. And one woman collared him after the, I believe it was a woman, after the meeting and said, Mr. Toplady, do you mean to tell that if you were God, you would send people to hell, just because you had decided before all eternity that they were going to hell. Would you do that? Would you be a merciful god if you did a thing like that? And he said, madam, when I am God, then I will tell you.

Now, all the same, the interesting thing is that the sovereignty of God is in Charles Wesley’s hymn. So there is a deep cleavage there, in original Wesleyanism. But, the fact is, that in methodism it has gone to seed in the social gospel. The humanism has come to the fore. And in Wesleyan fundamentalism the whole emphasis is on the salvation of man. Now that’s humanism. And if your preaching is primarily geared to the saving of men, you’re putting your emphasis in the wrong place. It has to be primarily on the sovereignty of God. Secondarily on man. And I think that will give you more zeal, and far more power in your ministry.

Yes. [46:24]


I just thought of something. In regards to Romans eight twenty-eight, how does the Armenians, (?) you say what they’re saying is supposed to be (?), and yet …(?)….

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Well, he’s very inconsistent. As I believe it was Warfield, said long ago, every Christian who prays believes in the sovereignty of God when he prays. Otherwise he would not pray.



If you could give me one more word on the first question that (?)

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Surely. That’s a basic one here today.

(?) I cannot understand about that point, the point that he’s talking about, (?) starting point. People that are Christian but not Christian. And I know that it’s not (?)… it’s difficult …(?)…

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Yes. The starting point. What is the starting point? Well, the scholastic philosophers says the common ground, the starting point with the natural man is reason. You appeal to his reason. The implication of that is then reason is the means of salvation. Which we cannot accept Scripturally. That’s impossible. Utterly impossible. Now, there are others who say that the starting point is to appeal to the self-interest of man. Now in the economic sphere there have been some who have built a doctrine of economic and political salvation on the concept of self-interest. And in the religious sphere there are those who built a whole doctrine of psychological salvation, that is man being saved because psychologically every person has an impulse to wholeness. To health. This is their thesis. And therefore by appealing to their self-interest to develop themselves, and Christ is the means to their development. You can redeem them. So you say, this is the common ground. And we can go on and list means of establishing a common ground or a starting point. But what Van til says the only common ground is that God is our creator. And he has made all things. So that when I talk to you, I’m not talking to someone who has no connection with God. The one thing that ties us both together, supposing we were total enemies, totally alien to each other, totally hostile, we’re still bound by the fact that we’re both made in the image of God. That God’s law is written on the fibers of our being. And that we can, as we talk to each other, have that as our starting point. That God made us. That God’s law, his being, everything about Him is witnessed to in every fiber of our being. So that the knowledge of God is inescapable knowledge. We’re suppressing it, we’re holding it down in unrighteousness. So, what Van Til says is, we must bring men to epistemological self-consciousness. We must make them aware of that fact in them. The stones shall cry out, even the stones, Our Lord said. [50:45]

And St. Paul declares that the creation is so totally God’s, that the very creation around us, underneath us, groans and travails, waiting for our redemption. For the new creation. Now of course some say that’s impossible, but if the ground beneath my feet responds in the terms of gravity, it certainly responds in terms of God’s Word here. And if the flower turns when I put it near the window, it doesn’t show its flower to me, it shows it to the sun, I keep turning the pot around and the flower keeps turning the other way from me. I want to see it, but it turns the sun. The whole creation, everything in you and me and the unregenerate man in spite of himself, turns to God. And it requires everything in man to hold it down in unrighteousness.

Now when the unrighteous forsake the Lord, what happens? It’s not that they just leave God, and they have everything else. The greatest poem here that illustrates this point, which is Scriptural, which St. Augustine developed in the first book of his confession, and which then a great Catholic poet developed in one of the perhaps greatest single Christian poem ever written. Francis Thompson. The Hound of Heaven. How many of you know it? Good, I’m glad that a fair number of you do. And what Francis Thompson does there is to describe his own experience. I have fled Him down the nights and down the days and down the labyrinthine arches of the years. And he describes himself forever hiding, running away from God. And everywhere he feels God pursuing him. He tries to find refuge in friends, but everything in the world of nature, of friends, of man, of children, of the dust under his feet, witnesses to God. So that the witness of God is everywhere. All things betray thee when thou betrayest me. So, when man denies God ultimately he denies the whole world. So the picture of hell that we have in Scripture is very important. Very important. Hell is total isolation, there is no community in Hell. When you deny God you also deny the world of friends and of man and of people. You live in an existential world, you are your own universe. There’s no one else. There is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and gnawing of worms, the fire. What does that all signify? That’s imagery for total isolation, the burning of conscience, the total gnawing of guilt, so that man in Hell is totally, eternally alone. Having abandoned God, he’s abandoned all things. All things. He is his own god, his own world, forever.

C.S. Lewis has a good sentence, I believe it’s in The Great Divorce, in which he says, Heaven is the habitation of those who say to God, Thy will be done. Hell is the habitation of those to whom God says, thy will be done.

Yes. [54:53]


What are your views on the ..(?)..

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Well, I’m trying to phrase them without being profane. I believe in literal six-day creationism. I see no ground exegetically saying anything but that it’s a twenty-four hour day. Now I have fairly close contact with the men who put out the Creation Research Journal. Are you familiar with that? It’s put out by a group of scientist, founded by Dr. Walter Lambert, a geneticist formerly at the University of California of Los Angeles, and then chief of research for the Germaine laboratory. And here is a man who has won eleven international prizes in genetics. He’s a top man in the field. And the interesting thing is he says, it is impossible, absolutely impossible, it has to be six days, a sudden dramatic thing. There is no other way for accounting for it.

If I may just take one minute more, a couple of years ago I had the privilege of having very close contact with a research scientist for the Rocketdyne Rocket company, Rocketdyne Inc. He is now working on a federal grant, the whole purpose of which is to study the origin of the oceans, which he says took place almost overnight with the Flood. And he has produced such dramatic evidence of it, and he holds the six day creationism that Script’s laboratory, and a number of the top scientific agencies, have asked the federal government, which has given it, a big grant to enable him to pursue his research. And he says it is impossible to account for anything except in terms of something happening dramatically, as Scripture describes. He was not a Christian a few years ago.

We have the Journal in our library too.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

It is well worth reading. [57:09]


Apologetics - III

Professor: R.J Rushdoony

Subject: Christian Reconstruction

Lesson: 3-3

Genre: Lecture

Track: 18

Dictation Name: RR103B3


Year: 1960’s - 1970’s

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Our Lord and our God, we thank Thee that Thou art our God, and that Thou art upon the throne. Teach us so to walk, our Father, day by day, that mindful of Thy government we may take hands off our lives, and commit them into Thy keeping. Knowing that Thou doest all thing well. Bless us as we give ourselves to Thee and the study of Thy word. In Jesus name, Amen.

Now first of all, how many of you were in the class this last hour? Anyone? Would you bear with me then, since you’re the only one, if I repeat just a few things, because I feel that it will help set the temper for what we are going to do this hour. I’ll try to pick up a few pieces and put them together this hour, as a kind of, ah, pulling some things together.

So that I’ll start where I did the last hour, since there’s only one person who heard me, by repeating an illustration I also used yesterday. Because it was a very disturbing thing to me.

A nurse here in the emergency hospital, as some of you heard me say yesterday afternoon, reported that, during the time she has worked there, she has had only one person, that they’ve been brought in from an accident or a serious condition, actually think of the Lord and pray as they went to the table. To surgery.

Now as I indicated, I would have expected this kind of reaction in New York, or Chicago, or San Francisco, but in Jackson I would have expected more than that, because there is a stronger church life here. What it means is, that for these people, to all practical intents, God is dead. They do not have a Christian mind. They may have some sort of faith, but God is a kind of life insurance for them, a policy to take care of the hereafter. But not the living God. So that in a crisis, they do not think of Him. This presents us with a very serious problem. [3:00]

Then again, in the last hour, I pointed out, I’m just summarizing a few things from what I said, the one serious point of view at the Reformation which did not have a powerful state behind it, was the Reformed faith. Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism, had powerful rulers behind them. Even Anabaptism for a while occupied important areas. And militarily had a force. But the Reformed faith, apart from a small city-state, Geneva, had nothing. And yet it was the faith that passed fear before long in the hearts of all rulers. It had a power, because it had a world and life view. It provided the answer in every area of life in terms of Scripture. Men were desperate then for such faith, as they are now. I cited also the fact, in some detail, how when scholasticism arose, there was a parallel rise in another kind of faith among the common people. All though there had been, on a limited basis before, the use of images and candles and the blessing of fields and so on, as scholasticism arose and it eroded the Biblical faith and presented an abstract religious concept that meant little to the people, so that God became remote, they felt desperately on the local level, on the everyday level, the need of having something that made God real in everyday life. So the blessing of the field before they planted, the blessing of their boats before they sailed, bring God down to the world. This was their feeling. Man needs God in his everyday life. The Church finally had to accept that kind practice; although early it was against it, simply because people had to have something. Today as people have nothing, they are again turning to something that will give meaning to everyday life. Occultism, the witchcraft movement. Because they feel the need for an overall answer on the practical, everyday level. [6:11]

Now the only philosophy, theology and faith that has consistently provided this in the past has been the Reformed faith. And we cannot be truly Reformed if we limit the Bible to the Church. And I said in the last hour, it is not just a Church book, it is the Book for the state, it is a Book for the school, for the family, for vocation, for every area of life.

The point of this, of course, is, let us continue, that no piece-meal defense of the faith is possible. In the Reformed faith we must begin the totality of the sovereign God and His Word, or we end up with nothing. We presuppose the whole. We do not begin by saying, well, I’m going to begin by trying to defend the idea of God, that there is a God, and then I will go on from there and try to build up the doctrine of the Trinity, and then I will go on from that to Creation, and then to the Word and so on. An Apologetics which does this will get nowhere. Instead you begin with the whole of the faith. It’s a seamless garment. You defend the totality of the Sovereign God, His infallible Word, the essentials of the doctrine, the claim of God on every area of life, on church, state, school, home, everything. But God is a total God, and he has a totalitarian claim on the whole of life. It is only this way that we can have a consistent Apologetics. Presuppose the whole truth.

Nothing else can answer the needs of man. Nothing else can give anything to man. Thus it follows that the best defense of the faith is to take the offensive. Now historically Apologetics is called the defense of the faith, and Van Til has given that title to his book. But by the time that you read it, you will very clearly understand that he is not defensive in the defense of the faith, he is taking the offensive. And the essence of his position is that he is out to cut out the ground from the claims of fallen man in every area of life. And to establish the crown rights of Christ in every area of life. We do not allow to the natural man anything. We say that only the man in Christ is sovereign lord over every domain under Christ. Covenant man is lord of all creation, Wycliffe said. [9:55]

One of the fallacies that some people have is that, if a man denies God, he still has the rest of life to himself. But what the doctrine of Hell tells us is that when a man denies God, he ends up with nothing but the little close circle of his mind. Nothing else exists for him. So that, in taking the offensive, what we do is to push the fallen man into recognizing that without Christ he can have nothing. There is no community possible, there is no philosophy possible, his epistemology collapses, there is no doctrine of the state possible, it collapses in to anarchy, that in every area of life, in terms of his faith, he winds up with nothing. Nothing.

Our approach then cannot be anthropological, that is, man-centered. It cannot be love centered, it cannot be church centered, it must be theological.

Yesterday, when the ledger reporter was interviewing me, for about forty-five minutes, she went back to my Indian missionary experiences because of the wounded knee episode, to ask me about Indians, a great many questions. What about their religion? And I said to her, well, the thing that we must avoid doing is to look at the Indian and his religion in our terms. Why? Well, I said, there are two kinds of religions basically among the American Indians, but you have not described the Indian’s religious life with these two. I said, anthropologists can classify the Indian religions first in terms of those tribes that were agricultural tribes. They worship the sun and the moon, the stars, because weather was important to them. And they were aware that the sun, and the moon, has some kind of relationship, apparently, to weather. So, since they were concerned with agriculture, they were concerned with worshipping the forces in nature that were oriented to the weather. But, I said, the hunting tribes were concerned with hunting. And therefore they worshipped the wolf and in some cases, the coyote, because the wolf was the great hunter, and the coyote was a good hunter, and for them, these particular animals were important, and they worshipped their spirit, and felt very, very strongly about the wolf in particular. And where I was, the wolf was very prominent. But, I said, this was not basic to their lives. They recognized that these spirits had a lot to do with things, but, I said, their basic concern was anthropocentric, man centered. What kind of a religion did they have? Why, not by going to what the anthropologists said, and classifying these two types of religions and all the variations. This was secondary. Because first and foremost, in the mind of the Indian, was healing. Healing. His position had become so completely man centered, that for him the beginning and end of religion was healing. And the medicine-man there had a tremendous power on him. It was very interesting to me that before I ever heard about Oral Roberts, these Indians, many of whom could speak very little English, knew a great deal about Oral Roberts, who was just beginning then. And it was only because I suddenly began to hear a lot of Indians in broken English ask excited questions about Oral Roberts that I first started to investigate who he was. I hadn’t heard of him. [14:57]

And they were amazed. Why, doesn’t every white man follow him? Doesn’t every white man believe in Oral Roberts? And for them it was obvious. He was a man who was supposedly a great healer, and healing was the essence of religion. Therefore, Oral Roberts certainly, if he was what they had heard he was, was the man every white man was following. This was the essence of religion to them. It had become totally anthropocentric. Totally man centered. Well, what had happened with that. Healing, in the old Indian life, in the days when the white man first came, still was very important. But the more Indian life collapsed, the more humanistic it became. It went from humanism, to even greater humanism. So that the culture of the Indian was totally broken. There was nothing in life for him that had any meaning, except at this point. Healing. And as a broken culture, he was unable to do anything for himself. Indian family life was broken, Indian community life was broken. The Indian was a broken person, an alcoholic. If he wasn’t an alcoholic, he was almost inevitably taking peyote, a narcotic, and was a member of the peyote cult. The only ones that weren’t on one or the other were the Christians. And the whole reason for this was, that there was no longer any kind of faith which could man to man. There was no world and life, world and life view. There was only a piece-meal faith. And a piece-meal faith ultimately revolves around the individual and his faith. And this is the be all and end all of his life. If the salvation of man is made central, we take the beginning of the road to the Indians. The Indians, therefore, felt close not only to Oral Roberts, but they could feel that Billy Graham was on the right road. You see. These were non-Christian Indians talking. Now, it wasn’t that they wanted to accept Christ, or ever believe what Billy Graham had to offer. In fact, none of them ever did. Not those people. But they liked it that the total concern was about their own soul. Their own light, their own help, ultimately. This was everything. [18:24]

And a piece-meal Apologetics ultimately puts us on the collapse level of Indian culture. And the only way these people could be saved was by saying, whether you are healed or not, whether you live or die, now that you are ill, is not the important issue. The world is bigger than you; it’s bigger than I am. It’s bigger than your problems and bigger than mine. Because I have problems too. There is a God, and He has a claim upon us. And His claim upon us, and His judgment upon us, must occupy our mind before we think about our sickness, or our problems, or our troubles, or anything else. The sovereign claim of the Sovereign God. This was the only way the Indian could be shaken out of this total isolation in his own world of need. You see, if we follow the course, we end with the Indian, and on the other hand, we end up with Puerbach. Puerbach said, in his day, early in the last century, that all theology is disguised anthropology. This was his indictment of Christianity. In his day it was true, because pietism ruled the scene. And pietism was concerned, essentially, with man. Pietism did not want to hear about the sovereignty of God. Or about predestination. Or about God’s judgment on man. And certainly Pietism regarded with horror such statements as ‘the chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever’. Pietism made a concerted assault upon all of this as irrelevant. And so Puerbach said, theology is disguised anthropology.

As a consequence, since then the world has drifted from one crisis to another, because it has not had a true Apologetics. And Apologetics that begin with God and sets forth the sovereign claims of God. That shakes man out of this self-hypnotism, this concern endlessly with himself. Now there were some Puritan theologians, in the period from about seventeen fifty to about eighteen fifteen in the United States, who recognized this trend as it was coming in. it made them lean over backwards to be a little more aggressive and hostile against it, and they formulated a test question, as a kind of, something to wake up people with. This nurse who told me about the hospital, said, we get a lot of people come in who are in such hysteria and shock, that what we must do immediately is to put ammonia under their nose. And she said, they come to with a jerk. It snaps them out of their hysteria, and she said, they will be babbling wildly, and she said, it’s no different than the tongues manifestations I have seen in some churches. But the ammonia just brings them to like that. And then you can talk to them and they’re calm and rational. [22:32]

Well this was the purpose that Hopkins and Bellamy among others of our American theologians devised this question. They knew the answer was impossible, but in effect, the answer was like this ammonia under the nose. They would ask people who had become converts, are you willing to be damned for the glory of God? Now in a sense, they knew that no man can, and God doesn’t ask us to do that, but in a practical sense, are you ready to take what God gives you and say, it is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth good. Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. In other words, the point of the question, however phrased for shock purposes, was, the Sovereignty of God. And it did have something of a healthy impact. Now, Hopkins and Bellamy, two of the most important of American theologians, extremely well worth knowing, but I’m not saying everything they said I would agree with. And I cite this to indicate that they realized something of the problem that was coming in. They had to cope with some of the very ego-centric, antinomian evangelists like Davenport, who was going around saying that, believe in Jesus Christ and do as you please, and he himself to prove that he was free from the Law, left his wife and took up with several women. And he made his theology a total vindication of everything a man wanted to do, he was now under grace, he could do as he pleased. And of course you had a whole string of movements, like a little later, John Humphrey noised his sexual communism that arose out of this type of thing. So this is what you have to understand when you read Bellamy and Hopkins, was their ammonia under the nose technique. But they’re beautiful reading, in spite of the fact that there is this shock element in them.

This is why the Reformed faith, as it confronted the Renaissance, was so emphatic in its Apologetics about the sovereignty of God.

The great statement of Luther, which if he had been true to in all his writings would have made Lutheranism stronger, was The Bondage of The Will. That’s Luther’s great classic.

Now the Renaissance was the main target of the Reformation, even more than the Church of Rome, because it was the Renaissance, humanism, that captured Church and State, philosophy, every area of life at the time of the Reformation. And so they were waging war against the principles of the Renaissance, in religion as well as in society. And they did this in the name of the Sovereign God and the doctrine of predestination. The Bondage of The Will, if you have not read it, read it. It is marvelous reading, it was the answer of Luther to Erasmus. [26:11]

So that the three great classics of the Reformation are, Luther’s Bondage of The Will, Calvin’s Institutes, and third, The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. And all three are Reformed. The Book of Common Prayer was written in consultation with Calvin during Edward the Sixth’s reign, and with John Knox having a hand in it too.

You may not know this, but John Knox was one of the Fathers of the Church of England. So he, in a sense, had a great deal to do with both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England. There’s a very beautiful book on Knox, which is very fair to both his virtues and his faults. Jasper Ridley, John Knox. Published by the Oxford University Press. Just off the press just recently. Marvelous reading. Just a joy to read.

But what their emphasis was the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and predestination. Now they had two things to contend with as they emphasize this in their Apologetics. They had on the one hand, doctrines of freewill to a radical degree, and on the other hand the doctrine of determinism. And their disagreement was with both. They could not agree with either. The doctrine of determinism holds that a temporal process of cause and effect governs all things. Whereas the doctrine of free will say that a temporal will governs all things. In other words, determination in both is in time. It is in this world, it is in history, not in the sovereign God. Whereas predestination says, there is an establishment of all temporal processes and beings from all eternity by the sovereign God.

To give you an idea of how these two can be reconciled in humanism, and often are, and why it is that the Reformers stood against both of these, let me read to you a passage from a book which is a very blunt statement of just what its title describes. Humanistic Ethics. By Gardner Williams.

Incidentally, this is totally irrelevant, but it has always tickled me so, Calvin of course argued the matter of predestination with Pighius or tried to. Pighius, who was very much against Calvin’s position, wrote a nasty back-biting attack on the doctrine and on Calvin. And Calvin set down to answer Pighius, and to tell off Pighius too for his ungodliness, and the whole thing, because it was an outrageous document, but to Calvin’s annoyance, Pighius died before he could write the thing. So, Calvin, who had a temper, although he usually controlled it, wanted to tell off Pighius, and here he was dead. And if he attacked a dead man, it just would not look good. But he wanted to say something about Pighius. So on the first page of his, The Eternal Predestination of God, he starts out and says, that he had intended to say something about Pighius, but since Pighius is now dead, he said, I will not do so, lest I be accused of kicking a dead dog. Sometimes I think someone ought to write a book on controversy at the time of the Reformation, because I think it would be a lot of fun to read. Because there was a lot of very heated give and take, and they weren’t afraid to dish it out or take it, and sometimes their sense of humor in so doing was really superb. [31:29]

I cite that because sometimes Calvin is portrayed as though he were a very humorless person, and he wasn’t. He was a quiet, scholarly man, but he had a good sense of humor and he knew that people would read that and laugh, and that’s exactly what he wanted to do, he got his point across, his opinion of Pighius, but he did it in a humorous way so that all Europe laughed when they read that. Which was what he wanted.

Now, to get onto Gardener Williams and what he has to say here about ethics. First I’m going to read what he says about ethics so you get the framework of the man.

“This axiological theory is also in the tradition of the interest theory of value. The essential truth of which is, that the chief intrinsic good of any individual is the satisfactions involved in, and resulting from the fulfillment of his major interests or desires. Such as love, ambition, and the desires for truth, for beauty, and for sensuous enjoyment. We come now to the definitions of right and duty. These are equivalent terms. One always has a duty to do what is right. And it is always right for one to do his duty. Meanings of these terms are to be derived from the meaning which we have already found for good and value. An individual always has a duty from his own point of view to attain as nearly as possible, his highest good. Which is, what is most deeply satisfactory to him in the long run. An equivalent statement is that he always ought to do what will meet his deepest needs. This duty is the categorical imperative. It is unconditionally binding upon every individual who is capable of experiencing satisfaction or dissatisfaction. It is universal and absolute. In other words, what you really want to do, you have an absolute requirement to do. I think that we ought to adopt this definition because it is the only one which will help us the most in understanding man’s moral experience. It is the meaning which men use when they speak most intelligently of right and wrong. Whatever the ultimate right principle of duty is, it is categorical. [34:16]

Any act that is right is so on condition that it conforms to this absolute principle. Also, all that conform are right. If incest, sadism, matricide, bigamy and arsine were in accordance with it, they would be right. Whatever the principle actually is, whether the principal actually is Kant‘s, Paley’s, St. Thomas’s, Calvin’s, J.S. Mills, (Myme’s?), or some others. These sins and vices, like all sins and vices are wrong only because they violate the correct principle of duty, whatever it is.”

(In other words, it’s what you say it is, and if you don’t do what you say you want to do, that’s wrong. Now, incidentally he has a doctrine of God. God is the sum total of men as they find themselves and realize themselves. Now he comes out very strongly in terms of determinism. But also winds up identifying it with free-will.)

“Some make the mistake of thinking that if the future is all predetermined, than human effort is futile. Actually, the future is unalterable. But still men can probably make further progress by exerting his will, courage and intelligence. It is fundamental that the past cannot be made different from exactly what it was. But the present cannot be made different from exactly what it is. And that the future can never be made different from exactly what it will be. This is due essentially or formerly an Aristotelian terminology to the determinism of being. And only efficiently, not essentially to ordinary causal determinism. The latter has of course, in fact made everything just what it is at the time that it is it. But even if everything were partly or wholly uncaused, still past, present and future, could never be different from exactly what they are, were, and will be. All past crimes and all past social injustice has been one hundred percent causally inevitable. The criminals could have acted virtuously if they had preferred, but hereditary and environment caused them not to prefer. The people who voluntarily set up social law, customs and institutions, involving social injustice could have set up other laws, etc. if they had preferred to. Laws etc. which would have involved other forms of social injustice, and perhaps much less of it. But hereditary and environment cause them prefer to set up just the laws etc. they did. Among those which they had the power to establish. In the same sense, all present and future crime and injustice are and will be one hundred percent causally inevitable. This may make it look futile to attempt to prevent criminal violation of just laws and to renovate unjust ones. We are not permitted to break the laws of natural causation in order to enforce or to reform our man made laws. Still, moral and social reform is not really futile. When the causes of crime are in accordance with the inextricable laws of nature, cause to be removed the non-occurrence of crime will be just as causally inevitable as the crimes of history have been. When the causes of social justice are caused to occur, social justice will be equally inevitable. It is a matter of education and wise social leadership, and possibly a bit of negative eugenics to wipe out some of the bad hereditary strains. This education in leadership and eugenics will not occur unless they are caused.” [38:35]

Now, do you get the point of it? He very definitely recognizes that free will and determinism are both in the area of time, of history. And therefore, he says, things that happen, happen because they were caused. And causality is here, and it’s through the right kind of social leadership, the scientific socialist elite, we can control the lever. The lever is time. We can get rid of those with a bad heredity, we can, what is it, have bisectomies for them, so that they won’t reproduce their kind, we can remove the causes of crime through legislation, so we will have determinism, and we will also have free will, because both of these are determined from within history and therefore the lever for the control of history is right there available, if only we produce a society or an elite group of philosopher kings take control. But, the whole point of our faith, that we must stress in our Apologetics is, that the lever is not here. The lever is in eternity, and predestination means that the eternal counsel of God from all eternity governs all things, and it is not of man. And therefore, the kind of tyranny that is inevitable with this kind of view, which is kind that is dominating our politics today, the kind which is planning our future, where men like Skinner actually dream of having a lever over all of us, in the form of a electrode implanted inside of our brain, so that the whole world can be predestined in terms of an elite group of scientific socialists. You see. Then this impossible.




(Dr. Rushdoony)

Well, I went into that last night, and I simply refer you to, if you were there, were you? No. Well, I refer you to the section in my By What Standard, in which I quote Hans Erinburgh, with regard to Karl Barth. There is no God that is beyond the world in my estimation, and in the estimation of many others, including Van Til, except as a limiting concept. And Bruner was honest enough admit it. So, his god is timeless, space-less, and being-less. So he’s not real.



Dr. if this Gardner Williams had just spoken in this classroom, and you now had the chance to answer him, how would you begin, let’s say, in one minute, (?), what would be your starting point? [42:12]

(Dr. Rushdoony)

I would say to him, the inevitable conclusion of your position, Dr. Williams, is, that you want to be god over me. Now, let me be the god over you and Skinner, and let me put the electrodes in your brain. How does that set with you?

I don’t think it would set very well. In other words, they are all for this because they believe they are the ones who know what’s best for you. But if we were to turn tables on them, and say, a very good idea, but you’re the one who should have the electrodes put into your brain, I think they’d have different idea of things, especially if you had the power to do it. Now that’s a very nasty answer, but I think it gets to the grips of the issue. You are saying you’re god. But in your world I can then play god, and make you the creature.



How does the difference between your eschatology and Van Til’s effect the way you would like to reconstruct the world and take back what is ours. (?)

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Well, Van Til has never said about his eschatology, and in Jerusalem in Athens, Gregg Singer, one of your very fine southern Presbyterian scholars, and a good friend of mine, said to Van Til that his position was quite implicitly post-mil. And in the answers, Van Til never criticized Gregg Singer for that. Van Til has never wanted to get into the area of eschatology, he has concentrated just on his area. But I think it’s interesting how many of his followers and students are post-mil. I think that says a great deal about his position. So that, it is implicitly post-mil. So that whether it’s Gregg Singer or myself, or Gary North, or Dr. Smith here, we have seen these implications in his position.


I have a question, it’s a little off base, I was concerned about how we use words. And do not (?) even small words. And Christ, today, you have quoted the answer to the first question of the Catechism, that man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. Would you mind defining man? In that answer?

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Yes, man is that creature who is created in the image of God. In knowledge, righteousness and holiness.

And that is the redeemed creature.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

It is the duty of every man to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And men who will not do so are judged by God. No, you see, every man is summoned to obey God, to glorify God, and men who will not do so are judged. The Bible is for all men. The Word of God is spoke unto all men, and therefore the judgment of God applies to all who will not hear.


So the Word is man’s universal.

(Dr. Rushdoony)



…(?)… (Dr. Rushdoony) no, go ahead (Audience) There’s something about what you said at first, about a Christian view of everything, politics, and I have a real problem with Christianity in politics. It seems to me like governments, all governments are formed on a humanistic basis, what’s best for the mass of the people, and all. How, how can you get Christianity into government, it’s like saying what’s the Christian view of running a gambling joint or something like that. It just seems worldly, the government is worldly. I have a real problem with that.

(Dr. Rushdoony)

Yes, that’s a very good question. Very good. No, it is very good. It’s an important question, because there are many who feel that the, well, first of all, let me call for a precision in the use of government. We use the word loosely, and I fall into the habit myself often. But our Puritan fore-bearers were very meticulous about the use of it. When they said government, they didn’t mean Washington or the State House, or anything like that. They meant the self-government of the Christian man. The basic government. They meant then, the family, they meant the Church, the school, they meant a man’s calling, they meant the community which had a governing effect because you’re sensitive to what people around you say, and that governs you to a degree. And civil government, their term for what we call, the state. Now, your question is about civil government, and it is important. There have been a number of views with regard to the role of civil government. And this has been a very, very significant aspect of our history. First, there has been the Manichean view. The Manichean view holds that the world is hopelessly corrupt and evil because it belongs to the material world of the evil god. And so, the attitude of the Manichean is that government like a cesspool, civil government like a cesspool is one of those things which in this life we put up with. [48:48]

But the further away it is, and the less we have to do with it, the better off we are, because we no more want to be involved in rolling into a cesspool than we do to government. Civil government. Now that idea, which is heretical to the core, which comes out of Paganism, has none the less very deeply affected the Church. Then, second, and there are a number of ideas here, I’m just hitting some. There is the classical view, in terms of which, there is a spiritual domain which religion can concern itself with, but the material world is under the realm of the State. And the State as the main institution of man has also the duty of governing this, because this is not as important. The important area is the world. And the State governs the world. And the pagan doctrine of the State was that the State had sovereign sway in every area. Rome was ready to allow any church, any religion, that is, to exist, provided they got licensed, you see. And the process of licensing meant that you recognized the priority of Caesar, and offered incense at his altar. So that, the church was just an aspect of the life of the State, and recognized the priority of Caesar of God, of the State over Christian faith. And the problem with the early Church was, they refused to apply for licensing. And as an illegal cult, the Church was prosecuted. [50:51]

Then third, now the classical view heavily influenced Aquinas and passed into the Christian tradition very heavily. Then a third view is the Lutheran. Now, I call it the Lutheran rather than Luther’s, because although it’s based on a saying of Luther’s, I don’t think it does justice to Luther. But the Lutheran view is that the state is God’s hang man. It has a purely negative function, it’s a nasty job, but it’s one you’ve got to have in society. But the state must simply eliminate the criminals and act as the policemen, and do the nasty dirty brutish work. Because otherwise society falls apart. Then, fourth, we have the Reformed view. In which the State is an aspect of the kingdom of God, and is required to work for the establishment of God’s order, God’s righteousness upon earth. Now, it is this kind of view that the Puritans held emphatically. It was in terms of Reformed view that the pilgrims felt that the state had a positive obligation to serve God. To set forth the Godly law order. To recognize the validity of Scripture. For example, they simply enacted, as much as the British government would permit them, the Bible as their law. And as late as the eighteen thirties and forties, I have found decisions of courts that were based purely on a verse of Scripture. Because the common law of the land was Scripture. And the, well, laws like the incorrigible son. This was enacted. It ended delinquency overnight, by the way. Once they passed the law that delinquent children could be executed, they certainly behaved well after that. Now, in terms of the Reformed view, what we must state is that the civil government has a positive duty to be godly. The point I made yesterday, before the house that the Legislator was that, all law is a form of theological order. Every law structure is a theological establishment. Because all law rests on morality, it is enacted morality. And all morality is an aspect, the relational aspect, of religion. So every law order is an establishment of religion. Our problem today, of course, is that, from a Christian law order, we are moving to a humanistic law order. [54:31]

And let me close with this word. Not only as a word of warning, but as a word to urge you to intensive action, as you go out into the pastorate. In the last year, our Supreme Court has made it clear that we are no longer a Christian law order, that the religious foundation is humanism. In the two recent decisions on abortion, because there were two decisions that they ruled on at one and the same time. And I have both of those decisions at home on my desk. I intend to write on them soon for our Chalcedon Report. In those decisions, they made it clear that in coming out for abortion, they were using religion as their authority. But it was pagan. Ancient paganism. So they’ve made it clear that the foundation of law for us now is no longer Christianity, but paganism, ancient humanism revived and modernized. Now, in the death penalty decision, they made it virtually impossible to execute a guilty man. In the abortion case, they said that innocent life can be taken. If it can be taken seven months after conception, why not sixty years after conception? So that you can eliminate everyone at the age of sixty-five, no problem with social security then if it goes bankrupt. Or you can eliminate all blacks, or all whites, or all Christians. And don’t think that they won’t try it unless you turn it around. You are fighting for the life of Christendom, and for the life of your people, because humanism will do what Rome did. Having now a pagan religion through a religious basis for its law, it will use that law against any other religion ultimately, unless you re-establish the foundations. As a result, it is very important for us to stress the Reformed doctrine of the state, to have an Apologetics that is a world and life view, and to go out as conquerors, because we’re either going to conquer, or be conquered. I look for very rough days in the immediate future. Very rough days. A really hard battle. But I also look to the certainty of victory. And may God bless and prosper you in that battle, because it’s going to be one. Thank you. [57:30]

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 April 2015 14:02  

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