Authority and False Responsibility - RR272D8

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Authority and False Responsibility
Course: Course - Doctrine of Authority
Subject: Subject:Political Studies/Doctrinal Studies
Lesson#: 8
Length: 0:44:33
TapeCode: RR272D8
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Doctrine of Authority.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


Let us worship God. Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh unto you. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise that our prayer be set forth before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of our hands as the evening sacrifice. Let us pray. O Lord our God, we thank Thee that Thou Who dwellest in the heaven of heavens has chosen to dwell with those who long for Thy presence and humbly seek Thy face. We thank Thee that Thou are He, Who art the Restorer of all things. Strengthen our faith, amend our lives according to Thy holy will, restore in us the joy of salvation, bind up that which is broken, give light to our minds, strength to our wills, and rest to our souls; that we may rejoice in Thee and praise Thee, as Thou hast summoned us to do. Grant us this, we beseech Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our scripture this morning is from the 13th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, verses 1 through 5; and our subject: authority and false responsibility—authority and false responsibility. “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

When we deal with the question of authority, we are dealing with something which is God-ordained; but the word “authority” has been used to cover a multitude of sins. A great deal of what passes for authority in this world is ungodly. Moreover, the relationship of authority and responsibility is a very important one, and a tangled one. Before we go into the subject, let us examine, briefly, some of the errors that impede an understanding of authority and responsibility. [00:03:41]

First of all, there is a great difference between the...[edit]

First of all, there is a great difference between the authority of God, and that of man. Man is God’s creature and subordinate. No man, however God-given the authority he may have in his particular office, can identify himself with God, and act as though, because this is a God-given authority I can act like a little god. Man’s authority is derivative and always conditional. Responsibility and authority under God means accountability to the person, or the standard, who is greater than ourselves. We must remember that the terms “responsible” and “irresponsible” cannot be applied to God. There is no one to whom God is accountable. He is not responsible to some idea or being greater than Himself; but all of us who are not God, all of us, are responsible to persons and, ultimately, to God, Who is greater than all of us. When men seek to become God, they do not live beyond good and evil, as they dream—a la Nietzsche and Adam; nor do they live beyond responsibility. They simply live in terms of irresponsibility, because as creatures, they can only be either responsible or irresponsible. And Adam and Eve, who had been created by God, and established in a pilot project for exercising dominion and subduing— developing the earth—chose to play God; and immediately became less than good, solid human beings, because they denied responsibility, which is a part of our creature-hood. The woman Thou didst give to me, she did give me, and I did eat. It’s your fault, God; you gave me the woman, and its her fault. And Eve had a like excuse. Modern man, beginning with Adam and Eve, and ever since, place responsibility for their sin on the environment and, ultimately, on God. [00:06:39]

Second, this means that fallen man has, because of...[edit]

Second, this means that fallen man has, because of his sin, a bent to environmentalism. Although he claims to be a god, he refuses to see himself except as a victim, not as a sinner, and there’s a world of difference. The whole modern world stresses the idea that everybody is a victim; but, at the same time, they’re victimizing themselves. Our children can blame us: according to many schools of thought, we provided the bad home. But, of course, we can blame our parents, or we can blame our heredity, or the community—anything except ourselves. This approach is basic to almost all psychotherapy; and psychotherapy of this sort is dangerous, because it confirms people into thinking in the wrong channels and creates a dependency on the psychotherapist, who supports them in their sickness not to develop their health.

Then, a third, humanism, sometimes does exactly the reverse; and this is usually humanism that’s within the church. It aggravates the problem by exaggerating responsibility. Churchmen who go in for psychotherapy in their pastoral counseling make the individual into a kind of semi-god and ultimate causality, and this is dangerous, as though you’re responsible for everything. You’re responsible for what your husband, or your wife, or your children are doing, and so you are made to feel guilty. The scripture says the soul that sinneth shall die; and it tells Ezekiel that you’ve made your witness once, then you’re innocent of the blood of any man, and that’s it. It doesn’t tell us we have a god-like responsibility for everyone that’s associated with us. That’s a sin. It’s putting a god-like responsibility on a person that God does not permit. Moreover, it exalts the psychotherapist. Of course, in all psychotherapy there is a hidden evil and danger, because, in effect, you go to a person, and it’s a one-to-one relationship: all right, heal me; you are the healer. Are they? And how’s it going to be done? By talking, by dredging up the past, and by fixing responsibility: it’s the family, it’s your husband, it’s your wife, or it’s you; and this is where the Christian psychotherapist is especially bad, because he aggravates the guilt. And the hidden assumption in all of this is that man can do the healing: the psychotherapist, or the person. [00:10:37]

Now, to illustrate this point from some very real situations...[edit]

Now, to illustrate this point from some very real situations—a legion of them—men and women go to psychotherapists to say that they’re in very, very critical trouble, emotional problems, unable to function. Why? My spouse is unfaithful and irresponsible, and so on and on. Now in all these situations, the erring spouse is not present. So, here’s a problem where there is sin, and how can you deal with a sin when the sinner is not involved in the counseling situation? There’s only one person for the psychotherapist to work on—the innocent party—and believe me, they do work on them. And many a pastoral psychologist will start by indicting, some way or other, the innocent party: have you tried to win your spouse back with love, have you loved enough, have you gone the extra mile, and so on. And I’ve known instances where such people have told me that they’ve made the mistake in talking to the psychotherapists after 30, 40 minutes of talking and dredging up feelings, they burst out with, “Sometime I wish my spouse would drop dead. I’ve had it, I’m so weary.” Well, this is an excellent opportunity for another guilt trip to be loaded upon someone who’s merely having a human reaction. And the same is true of children: guilt trips are imposed upon them. But none of us are perfect. None of us are without sin. None of us can have a perfect relationship, one with the other, with any one. So that we can all be made very easily to feel guilty if something goes wrong; but we are not God. And our spouse, our children, our coworkers, our associates, and our friends are not our creatures. Each of us is responsible to God for what he, or she, is; and we are, in the final analysis, responsible only for ourselves. We have a real, but limited, responsibility for others. To blame ourselves beyond a very limited degree for what happens to others is sin and presumption. [00:13:58]

Then, fourth, humanistic psychotherapy has a double...[edit]

Then, fourth, humanistic psychotherapy has a double offense. It gives too much authority and power to the person while, at the same time, assuming that all problems are solvable by man, and without reference to anything beyond man—that is, God. And so, the idea is that by delving into a person’s mind that the problem will be solved, and instead of talking out a problem, the psychotherapists talk people into worse ones. Why? They are operating within a closed system: nothing exists except man to man; and so, they’re going to find the causality within you, or within somebody else.

But what is our text about? Certain Judeans came up to our Lord, and they said, “Did you hear about the Galileans whose blood Pilate has mingled with our sacrifices. Now, we don’t know anything about this incident in history. It’s one of countless numbers that have disappeared, except for this sentence from human purview. But Galileans had come up to the temple, and in some kind of incident, the legionnaires had killed a number of them; so that, in effect, their blood was mingled with their sacrifices, which they had brought up to the temple. [00:16:07]

Well, why was this question brought up? It’s obvious...[edit]

Well, why was this question brought up? It’s obvious from the next sentence: “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?” Now, to get the implication, the drift of that, we must realize the Galileans were the northern tribes: what was once the kingdom of Israel. The Judeans were the tribe of Judah and of Benjamin, and the half tribe of Simeon, and various of the ten tribes that had moved members that had moved southward. And those in Judea regarded the northerners of the same blood, but religiously lax in the idea of the Judeans, because they had no liking for either the Pharisees or the Sadducees, and they took an easy-going attitude towards the faith. And so, they were regarded as sinners not fit to associate with. So, a number of them got killed, of course. What would you expect? The Galileans are no good; and, therefore, they got what they deserved. “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”

And now, our Lord throws them a curved ball. They’d been talking about those nasty Galileans. He brings up some Judeans: “Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” You’re all going to die, either a natural death, or by an accident. Now, you’d better make your relationship right with God before that happens. And these people were not particular sinners that these things happened to them. You are assuming two things: first, that God is not the ultimate cause and, second, that this is not a fallen, sinful world, in which there are many things that happen, because this whole world is out of joint. [00:19:14]

Now, Job’s comforters were very similar to these who...[edit]

Now, Job’s comforters were very similar to these who came to Jesus and brought up the matter of these Galileans. Job was being tried, by God’s permission; and so, Job’s friends, Job’s comforters—God spare us from friends like that—came, and they said, “Of course, Job. You know why this has happened: God is punishing you for your sins. You’ve got to confess your sins.” And Job said, “No! I am a man with the frailties of men, but I know that I have sought in all my ways to please God.” And the more he insisted that it could not be a judgment upon his sin, the more vehement they became, indicting him, as though the only causality in the universe—now these were people who believed in God—was something that man originated. In other words, you sin: well, God judges you, but all things are precipitated by what man does; all causality is put into motion by human action. In other words, the center of the universe was man, the center of all activity; the point of origination of all events is what man does. And so God answered Job’s comforters and said, “Were you there when I created the earth, and the morning stars sang together for joy, as they beheld creation? I cause it to rain,” God tells Job’s friends, “where no man is. The rain doesn’t fall because of man. I rejoice in the hippopotamus and in the wild ox, but the wild ox, you take and tame, and put in your stall, whether he likes it or not. The universe is not run for the wild ox, nor for you. There are causes, there are reasons, above and beyond you.” The point of origin, the determining fact in all causality is not man, but God. [00:22:14]

Well, the disciples were very much infected by the...[edit]

Well, the disciples were very much infected by the humanism of their day; and so, when another episode took place, they reacted like good, modern psychotherapists: they wanted to affix responsibility entirely within the human scene, as a closed system. We read in John 9:1-3, “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Now, to see the extent to which the works of God were made manifest in that man, read the rest of John 9. Here was a man, long before the disciples saw the truth, saw who Christ was, saw the meaning of what He had done, and witnessed to the chief authorities concerning it. What had happened? God had used his lifetime of blindness to give him a greater sight than anyone else in his day had. We’re not even told his name, but we know that his name is written in heaven, and he has a greater position than countless others. Behind all things stand the absolute cause, God, Whose purpose it was that the works of God should be made manifest in the blind man. The blindness was a prelude to greater sight. [00:24:27]

Now, Christianity is of necessity a personal faith...[edit]

Now, Christianity is of necessity a personal faith, but it is not exclusively or essentially personal. It is not man-centered, it is God-centered; and when people make it a kind of closed system on the human level, and either a fixed responsibility and authority, or deny responsibility and authority entirely within this closed system, they loath authority. It is God-centered; and accountability is to God. And God declares we are responsible creatures, but He says “up to a certain point only; you are not little gods, or semi-gods.” So you can neither deny responsibility, nor can you take the whole world upon your shoulders, as though you were God, as though you are accountable as a kind of superman for everyone around you. [00:26:00]

It has been said of famine victims that as they reach...[edit]

It has been said of famine victims that as they reach the final stages of starvation, they move less and less. Their sexual energy disappears, and they become more and more self-absorbed. This is true of spiritual starvation. When faith becomes less God and Christ-centered, people are capable of less and less activity of any godly sort. They are unable to reproduce their faith, and they have a self-centered religious life; and authority and power in any biblical sense leaves them. Man needs transcendence. Man needs to have the focal point of his life in the Triune God, not on himself, not on the human scene. And it is the sad fact that pietism has done much to erode godly authority and godly responsibility, because it has become so man-centered. [00:27:57]

The presupposition of almost all psychotherapy and...[edit]

The presupposition of almost all psychotherapy and counseling within the church and outside of the church is that the counselor has the solution; or that, together, with a person, they’re going to work it out. The Bible says God has the answer, not man. Man is a responsible creature, but he is not self-created, nor self-caused. His strength and power, and his authority come from knowing his limitations, knowing the priority of God and His purpose, His causality in our lives and in the universe. What we experience, therefore, in the way of griefs and troubles, depressions and crises, are not matters for psychotherapy to say “now this and that, you did wrong; or this and that, if you do, all will be well.” They are God’s way of moving us forward, of compelling us to grow. If we make central our reactions, our feelings, then we close our minds to God’s meaning and purpose in all these things. [00:29:50]

God wants us to have, in our appointed place, authority...[edit]

God wants us to have, in our appointed place, authority and power. We can only get it in God’s way, and it’s a matter of growth. God never uses anyone without first breaking them up and reshaping them, and putting them through all kinds of trials and experiences, first of all; so that at each point in our lives, we meet a crises—something that shakes us up to the foundations of our beings; and in terms of that, we grow in the Lord. It’s a process of continuing growth. Remember what Paul says about the whole of history: that it applies to us, to you and to me; and to the nations, and to the whole historical process. He says, “Now, the things which are, are being shaken; so that the things which cannot be shaken, may alone remain.”

Paul tells us in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews that history is a gigantic earthquake, like a volcano erupting; and it buries those who will not move, who will not grow, because God has determined that there will be a great shaking in our lives and in the lives of nations, until only the unshakable remains. So we’ve been called: called to be citizens of the kingdom of God; called to a glorious destiny in Him. In the process, we shall undergo many trials. As our Lord said before He left His disciples, “In the world, ye shall have much tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. For lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” [00:33:30]

Let us pray. Glory be to Thee, O God, Who hast ordained all things in Thy wisdom, for Thou hast ordained the troubles we experienced, the blindness we know, and the griefs, for our greater fulfillment in Thee, for our greater joy and eternal gladness in Thy kingdom. Give us grace so to walk day by day, that we may have our eyes fixed there where our true joys are to be found, even in Jesus Christ, our Lord. In His name we pray. Amen.

Are there any questions now? Yes?

[Questioner] I don’t know that I should to ask this question, because I wrote it all down {unclear}, and I am afraid I might foul it up a little bit. But after reading By This Standard, when you go into Job so much at the end, I really became confused, because he went through all these trials and tribulations. You brought out the fact that God creates all things—not only human beings, not only the living thing {unclear}—but every fact, every idea: He creates them all. What does that do to hope and promise, if He, being ultimate in all things, but takes away the hope and the promise, when He promises us in the scriptures, promises certain things, –

[Rushdoony] Um hum.

[Questioner] – we rely on that; –

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Questioner] – Job relied on it, –

[Rushdoony] Right, and –

[Questioner] – but it was taken away from him. He obeyed, and he was given such a punishment, because God saw fit to please Satan to show him that Job would not break. Well, that’s enough to break a man’s faith. [00:36:10]

[Rushdoony] Yes, but it didn’t...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes, but it didn’t.

[Questioner] No, it didn’t, but –

[Rushdoony] The latter end of Job was greater than the former. On top of that, Job has been a blessing to untold generations of people. It is possible, and there are many who believe it to be the case, that the Book of Job is the oldest book in the Bible, that it goes back perhaps to the days of Abraham. Now there are some liberal critics who deny that, but there are others who, with very good reason and internal evidence in the book, say it goes back that far. So Job’s been around—the Book of Job—for untold centuries; and out of Job’s experience, the number of people who have been blessed, beginning with himself, is legion. You mentioned the fact that I have the entire back part of By What Standard devoted to the Book of Job, precisely because the Book of Job, when I was a junior at the University of California at Berkley, was the decisive book in my life, because it brought me face to face with the fact that I cannot have a humanistic yardstick. I can’t say, “Why, Lord, did this happen?” in terms of myself, or humanity, or anybody else—that the only yardstick by which events can be judged is God. Now, we want our perspective to govern, and Job’s friends had to see that point. And Job, though he was a godly man, wasn’t seeing that point; so he was blessed as he came to see it. And his latter end was greater than his former. Now, the result of Job’s experience has been a blessing to untold people, just as the fact that very often, people have survived, because somebody went to war to defend the borders of the country. Job’s experience established a fixed line for people to the end of time.

Yes? [00:38:57]

[Questioner] – to go on; I do not want my perspective, or any other human being’s perspective, to be the central control. I want God; and God has given us the scriptures, and He has promised certain things.

[Rushdoony] Yes. That’s right, and God keeps His promises; but God also tells us where the center is. You see, even as God says, “Do this and live,” He’s also telling us “Do this. How? Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” John Calvin –

[Questioner] But I want something to rely on. And, of course, with God –

[Rushdoony] Yes, that’s –

[Questioner] – something livable to rely on, and that black and white book gives us that. That’s the only thing I have—no, after my personal relationship and prayer.

[Rushdoony] Yes. All right.

[Questioner] So what I’m saying—and I know there’s an answer to this—it takes away hope. [00:40:19]

[Rushdoony] Only if our hope is in something here and...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Only if our hope is in something here and now, you see, totally circumscribed within history. God tells us very definitely there are material blessings here and now, judgments here and now; but he also tells us there are times in history when the whole of history is like an earthquake and a flood; and in those circumstances, things get very ugly, and the innocent very often suffer. Certainly, I can testify to that fact in my family history. My father and my mother were virtually the first for a few generations to die in bed; and they, themselves, were on a death march. But the Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” That’s talking about a tremendous catastrophe; and in the midst of it, God is our very present help, our refuge. So what we have to say is that we cannot chose the way God is going to bless us. Sometimes the greatest blessing God can give to us is to clobber us, because He has more than today and tomorrow in mind. He brings great grief and disaster, because He has our future in mind and our children’s future. So, what we want is to circumscribe the cause and effect within our life. One of the saddest things I ever experienced was talking with a very wonderful older man, whose name you would all immediately recognize, a man of great wealth, who had spent untold millions in trying to turn this country around politically and trying to restore education to the kind of thing he knew in a small, one-room schoolhouse in Iowa, and the kind of training he had which made him a success. Starting as a poor farm boy, he became a man of very great wealth. And the thing that came home to him was, he’d wasted millions. He told me this not long before his death. Why? Because he’d tried to get results before he died, and the result was a waste. We can’t limit it to our purview.

Well, our time is up, so let us bow our heads now in prayer. Thy Word, O Lord, is truth, and Thy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a joy to our hearts. Dismiss us now with Thy blessing. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:44:17]