Ethics - Monastic or Militant - RR132A2

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Ethics, Monastic or Militant?
Course: Course - Contemporary Cultural Ethics
Subject: Subject:Culture
Lesson#: 2
Length: 0:53:18
TapeCode: RR132A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Contemporary Cultural Ethics.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.


{Introduction} The undisputed voice of conservative Protestantism and Reformed theology in the early 20th century is undoubtedly that of John Gresham Machem. In 1912 Dr. Machem lecturing said these words, “False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel. We may preach with all the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed in only winning a straggler here and there. If we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which by the resistless force of logic prevent Christianity from being regarded by anything more than a harmless dilution. Under such circumstances what God desires us to do is destroy the obstacle at the root. That method or procedure is based simply on the profound believe in the pervasive belief of ideas. So, as Christians we should try to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity??? [00:01:30]

Christianity is ...[edit]

Christianity is excerpting a far less powerful direct influence in the civilized world today than it was excerpting thirty years ago.” Remember Mechem said this in 1912. “The chief obstacle to the Christian religion today lies in the sphere of the intellect. Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the gospel. For making it subservient religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being collected. The church has turned to easier task and now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life. Perhaps by God’s grace, through His good Spirit, in His good time, she might issue once more with power and an age of doubt may be followed by the dawn of an era of faith.” So said J. Gresham Machem many years ago. [00:02:35]

Our speaker today, R...[edit]

Our speaker today, R.J. Rushdooney, believing in the pervasiveness of ideas has dedicated his ministry of lecturing and writing to the task of attacking the opposition to Christianity at its root and molding the collective thought of the world so as to see the dawn of that era of faith Machem anticipated. Mr. Rushdooney has not drawn back from the spirit of intellect. Those of you who read his books know this to be the case rather he has used his God given talents to make modern culture subservient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has not shunned the difficult questions, he has not turned aside to easier task and he can never be accused of settling an issue with pat answers. In the spirit of which Machem wrote Mr. Rushdooney has made progress towards linking explicit Biblical religion with the issues, indeed the dire issues, of our times. Now by way of background Mr. Rushdooney has formally been a missionary among the Nevada Indians as well as San Francisco’s Chinatown and he was formally an Orthodox Presbyterian minister in Northern California. However, at present he is the president of the Chalcedon Foundation which is a Christian educational organization devoted exclusively to research, publishing and to the cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world at large. Some of you may not know this fact and I think it should be said. Mr. Rushdooney reads over three hundred books a year himself. That should stagger you. He also has more than in excess of twenty thousand volumes in his own personal library. The foundation which he is the president of has sponsored works, please note, in Biblical exposition, theology, psychology, philosophy, science, economics, history, family life, Christian education, music, ethics, political science, apologetics and where does it end? Chalcedon sends out a free monthly report to over thirty- six hundred readers every month and its circulation now reaches every continent of the world. In addition the foundation sponsors the Journal of Christian Reconstruction which has a symposium format which probably explains the continued buying of the Journal’s back issues and so forth. The Journal has a circulation of over fifteen hundred which easily makes it the leading religious journal in America. Buy, how often do read about such things in the other journals. That is the fact though. [00:05:36]

Issues confronted thus far in the Journal of Christian...[edit]

Issues confronted thus far in the Journal of Christian Reconstructionism have been things like creationism, the occult, economics and forthcoming there is going to be issues on the law, the Christian influence in America’s founding and finally the millennium. A book soon to be released by the foundation under the editorship of Gary North will speak of the influence of Dr. Cornelius VanTil’s influence in all areas of academic pursuit. The book is to contain articles written in most of the academic fields from mathematics to theology. But now turning specifically to the labors of Mr. Rushdooney I would like to tell you that without doubt he is the most prolific serious writer in the reformed camp. Having ???? twenty-one books under his belt already that he has published or in the process of publishing right now. And a real quick rundown of those books would be appropriate before we listen this afternoon. [00:06:33]

In 1958 Mr. Rushdooney began by publishing an exposition of the philosophy of Dr. VanTil emphasizing therein the need for scholarship to presuppose the Word of God and renounce all false claims to neutrality. In the early ‘60’s Mr. Rushdooney produced what I consider to be the most crucial works in the area of Christian education to have appeared in this century. In his book Intellectual Schizophrenia he argues that education cannot be neutral but it is always a religious act of faith and thus Christians who attempt to bring together the Bible and secular presuppositions in their education are, as the title says, intellectual schizophrenic. In The Messianic Character of American Education Rushdooney has drawn out the religious presuppositions of over two dozen prominent educators in the history of public education, showing their hope of remaking of America into a new secular Jerusalem controlled by the educational elite. Now, the reason I use the word remake at that point is explained perhaps in Mr. Rushdooney’s two books This Independent Republic and The Nature of the American System. These show the American Revolution to be, in reality, a counter revolution and these two books go on to show the nature of the American system to be an experiment in the application of Christianity to culture, specifically a constitutional effort. [00:08:06]

The influence of the Enlightenment in Unitarianism...[edit]

The influence of the Enlightenment in Unitarianism, Mr. Rushdooney argues, virtually undermines the great American and Calvinistic movement for a Godly society. Rushdooney has also hammered away at the pretentious myth of neutrality in academic areas, in books such as Bread Upon the Waters, The Mythology of Science, The Myth of Overpopulation. Liberal scholarship and political centralization are critiqued further in his book Law and Liberty. However, and like many Christian writers today, Mr. Rushdooney has engaged in a positive reformation as well as a negative critique and so he attempts to apply explicitly Biblical concepts to history and society in his books The Biblical Philosophy of History, Foundations of Social Order, The One and the Many. In here he shows that only Christianity can resolve the antagonism between anarchy and totalitarianism. In this, while seeing that all authority in every area of life is bested in the Messiah Jesus Christ. And this brings us to the explanation, this perspective, explains the name of the foundation Chalcedon or Cal-cee’-don, as he prefers to call it. [00:09:17]

The Council of Chalcedon in ...[edit]

The Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D. expressed a Christology that challenged every false claim to divinity in the name of any institution whether it be church, school or state. Now Mr. Rushdooney has argued cogently that without a Biblical doctrine of God and without the concrete direction of God’s law man is at the mercy of the deified state or the lawless individual. And so, Rushdooney calls us to preach the whole council of God and thus not to overlook the reconstruction of culture in the advance of Christ’s redemptive kingdom.

[Rushdooney] Our subject this afternoon will be Ethics, Monastic or Militant? Ethics, Monastic or Militant. One of the most distinguished political scientists is Dr. Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian nobleman, world traveler and philosopher. In his excellent study Leftism: from de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse Kuehnelt-Leddihn has called attention to the medieval aspect of the Reformation. Before I read that quote let me say that Kuehnelt-Leddihn is Roman Catholic, he is an Aristotelian, a very able scholar, I know him personally but Kuehnelt-Leddihn has gone on record in print as stating “that the future will be determined either in terms of John Calvin or Jean-Jacque Rousseau. There is no question in my mind where I must stand.” Kuehnelt-Leddihn writes, and I quote, “It is important to remember that the Reformation, contrary to an obsolete concept still surviving in English speaking countries and finding its way into textbooks and films was by no means the beginning of liberalism, genuine or fake, nor anything like the fulfillment of the Renaissance but a late Medieval and monastic reaction against humanism and the spirit of the Renaissance. [00:12:04]

To Luther the Renaissance no less than humanism was...[edit]

To Luther the Renaissance no less than humanism was a foul compromise between Christianity and paganism. After all, Plato, Socrates and Aristotle according to him were broiling in the eternal fires of hell. Because the Reformation was a reaction against humanism and the Renaissance we should not be surprised that the Middle Ages, in a certain sense, continued in the reformed world. Until very recently the Gothic style was the accepted one for churches and colleges even in the United States. Whoever wants to advertise candles, organs or clerical vestments in America uses Gothic script even today. In the Catholic world however the Renaissance style evolved into Baroque and later into ??Recoko?? and while the world of the Renaissance evolved in the direction of discipline, commercialism, industry and hard work of some sort of secular monasticism. The monastic and medieval ideas in the Catholic world remained restricted to Reo monasteries and convents. Catholic life continued to be artistic, intellectual and anarchical.” Unquote. [00:13:27]

I do not have time to go into an exposition of Kuehnelt...[edit]

I do not have time to go into an exposition of Kuehnelt-Leddihn thesis but suffice to say I believe he is sound. The Reformation began with a definite harking back in the one hand to motives and forces that were medieval and monastic and on the other hand to medieval motives again that were Catholic and universal. And that, of course, represented a genuinely Biblical tradition. To analysis what the monastic spirit is let us take a few moments to discuss some of its characteristics. The monastic spirit is a retreat from the world into an ideal church, into an ideal church in which every member is, as it were, a clergyman, one who has felt the call to give himself totally and without restriction to God. As a result in the early middle ages the centrality of the monks was the basis of the church. They were, and still are technically, called the regular clergy whereas the priest is called the secular clergy. So, even though today the monks are a minor part of the Church of Rome, technically they still have in classification a priority because the medieval church until the rise of scholasticism saw the basic impetus of the church as a separation from and a withdrawal from the world. Instead of seeing any relevance of the creation mandate to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it monastic ethics saw as its function one thing, soul saving. Sounds very modern, does it not? I am sure many of the monastic leaders of the early medieval period could wander into many of our fundamentalist churches and feel very much at home except for a few things. Now, the roots of the monastic ethics are in part Manichaeism and in part neoplatonic. Let us briefly deal with what these two forces are. They have been very powerful, very determinative unfortunately of all too much of church history. [00:16:35]

Manichaeism was a religious movement which believed...[edit]

Manichaeism was a religious movement which believed that there were two basic and ultimate realities, the God of light, of spirit, of souls and the God of darkness, of matter, of all things material. Both had an equal ultimacy. Now, when you have a problem of equal ultimacy it means that both positions while irreconcilable have an equal validity. And therefore, when we trace the history of dualistic philosophies and religion whether in India or ancient Persia’s or ??Alastriancism or in Manichaeism in the early centuries and in the Middle Ages to the present, you find extremes abounding. Thus, the Manichaean spirit can call for, and very normally has, a forsaking of the world. It calls for contempt of all things physical so that you forsake marriage; you regard any love of food or things material, clothing, dress, art and so on as worldly and therefore to be despised. You reduce your intake of food to the minimum so that the monastic monk ate only to live not to enjoy God’s creation and as a result the more spiritual you become, in the sense not of the Holy Spirit, but in the forsaking things of this world, material things, the holier you are. On the other hand since there is an equal ultimacy of good and evil you can with equal validity embrace that which is totally material as in the hippies, our later day Manichaean’s, and forsake the world of spirituality, the world of personalization, the world of the spirit because you affirm the entirely physical and the material as the only reality. [00:19:09]

The cynics of the later days of Greek thought were...[edit]

The cynics of the later days of Greek thought were emphatically given to such an affirmation. The word cynic comes from the word canine, dog and they affirmed man was no better than a dog. The idea of a spirit and of ideas, in the platonic sense, was altogether philatious and therefore a man had to live like the animals. Now, Neo-Platonism borders on dualism on the Manichaean principle but it refuses to go all the way and say there are two equally ultimate substances. It tries to hold the two in dialectical tension. It says yes they are different but we must try to control the world of matter with our ideas or with spirit. And as a result Neo-Platonism, while trying to live in terms of the mind or of spirit, none the less tries to retain some kind of tie between the two worlds. Now these two forces, Manichaeism and Neo-Platonism very early entered into the Christian church and have had a powerful influence on it. In the ambiguous ethics that this type of thing creates; let us say the monastic spirit whether in its Manichaeic extreme when it was actually decreed to be a sin for any clergy regular or secular to go to a wedding because that was a polluted atmosphere, it had to do with things that were carnal and physical, or whether it was in the more modern manifestations of this type of thinking, the monastic thinking calls for a withdrawal from the world. Now, let me add that because there are two ultimate’s in this you can have two extremes, you can have the monastic spirit saying the church must be our retreat from the world, you don’t concern yourself with the problems of the world only with soul saving, or you can say the material world, as the social gospel does, is the reality. And you can immerse yourself totally in the material creation and the problems thereof as the soul reality. [00:21:59]

Now, when you have the monastic ethics you have first...[edit]

Now, when you have the monastic ethics you have first of all the Bible converted from a book for every area of life into a manual for the souls pilgrimage. Instead of going, say, the Pentateuch, the books of Moses, to hear God speak in His function as law giver, you go there for spiritual lessons and you write long sermons and books about the colors and there spiritual significances as the colors appear in the tabernacle and the hangings and the furnishings. That is the monastic spirit. The Bible speaks to every area of life. It deals, if you have forgotten, with problems of sanitation and soil. It deals with the salvation of the soul but it also deals with military matters. It deals with crime. It deals with church, state, education, the family, the totality of life, the total God speaks to the total life of man. But the monastic ethics, the monastic spirits, converts the Bible into a manual for the souls pilgrimage whereby you turn away from the world and the problems of the world and you retreat into the convent or into the monastery and you turn the church into that. How many churches today do precisely that? I have seen as I have gone back and forth across the country church after church that issues a calendar to its members every month so that if the last Sunday of March you will get a calendar for April in which there are activities listed and in some cases for every day of the week and other cases for every morning, afternoon and evening of every day of the week so that you pull the family out of the world and into the church as man’s haven, his hiding place from this ugly, sinful, polluted world outside. Then, second, the monastic spirit denies or opposes the creation mandate. It says that we have no obligation to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over it and it speaks very vehemently and savagely against anyone who speaks about the creation mandate. Now, I don’t say that all who speak about the creation mandate are necessarily good but the monastic spirit is opposed to any consideration of the creation mandate. In February of this year one reformed pastor issued a little booklet the title of it was How to Beat Inflation by Prayer. Now, of course, inflation involves some very serious problems of immorality, of the government’s mistreatment of money, of its application of the principle of covetousness into economic and social life, of its theft of the people through watering down the currency through inflating it and so on, all of which the word of God speaks to. [00:25:52]

Did this man deal with any of these problems? No...[edit]

Did this man deal with any of these problems? No. What was his answer? How to Deal with Inflation by Prayer, you pray about it, you fast and if your money doesn’t go as far as it once did when you shop so that it is harder, if you are a housewife, to buy the food you need for your family with your shrinking dollar, why, you rejoice in the Lord, you plunge ahead all the same even though it means you eat macaroni five days a week instead of having a good roast. And yet, I must add, in all due respect to this pastor whom I know personally, he is far better than most Reformed pastors because he at least knew there was a problem even though his answer to it was wrong. But you see the impact of this kind of thinking. You will not deal with the problems of the world in terms of the Word of God your answer is spiritual, you pray about it, you retreat which of course brings us to the third point. It is the monastic ethics, an ethic of withdrawal. a gospel of irrelevance. It boosts of its unconcern with the world. It is distressing to find that there are so many pastors who will tell you proudly that they are not interested in things economic, or political, or in social problems, or in their community and will rail against their members if they want to fight pornography as it comes in next door to the church, or a house of prostitution around the corner. [00:27:59]

That is the social gospel if you do anything about...[edit]

That is the social gospel if you do anything about that. Let us confine ourselves with things spiritual. I have even had men boast to me that they do not vote. They are too spiritual you see to be interested with the future of their community or their country. Then, a fourth characteristic of the monastic ethics is that the real is equated with the spiritual, things material are ephemeral, they are going to pass away and therefore they are meaningless. True, everything is going to pass away in its due time including myself but I am no less real and God is no less concerned that we be concerned about the everyday concerns about this world. Time and history is where God has placed us and we are totally and in all our being spiritually and materially temporal creatures. And our concerns are of necessity in time. But the monastic ethics equates the real with the spiritual and you have this kind of philosophy culminating in Hagel’s theses that the rational is the real. Hagel was in line with this tradition, represented one strand its development. Now, as against the monastic ethics, the ethics of Scripture is a militant ethics. We are called by St. Paul to be Christian soldiers, to put on the whole armor of God. Monastic ethics, first of all, is antinomian, whereas Biblical ethics sees God’s law as speaking to every area of life. The Word of God is God’s Law. Can God speak a Word that is not law? That is an impossibility; God being the absolute and ultimate Sovereign. God being Lord of heaven and earth, every Word that He speaks to us is of His Sovereign grace and yet every Word that He speaks to us is a Law because what He says is so. “I am the Lord and besides me there is none other.” His Word is absolutely binding. You know, parenthetically let me say here, it is only when you have an implicit dualism or an implicit Neo-Platonism that you get the kind of thinking that is so popular in the church whereby they oppose love and the law and grace and the law or faith and works. They are creating hostilities that are not there in Scripture. [00:31:37]

Now, faith is the gift of God, it produces works...[edit]

Now, faith is the gift of God, it produces works. Law is from God and grace is from God and love is the commandment of God also. These things in Scripture are not irreconcilables. They were turned into hostile things by the Hellenizing spirit that had infiltrated Sadism and Phariseism. They had been turned into opposites and conflicting things by again the alien spirit that came in in scholasticism and earlier but culminated in scholasticism and again in Armenianism and sometimes in ostensible but not truly reformed thinking, these are turned into contraries. They are not Scripture. And, when Scripture speaks of their hostility it is speaking of the perversion of these ideas as exemplified in Phariseism. Then second, we must say that in the monastic ethics separation is from the world whereas in the Bible separation is from sin. Now, there is a vast difference in those two things, a vast difference. You can be separated from the world and not from sin because sin has its roots in the spirit, in the mind, in the heart of man and sin will saturate his whole being physical and spiritual. Satan is a purely spiritual being and yet totally evil. And you can be entirely spiritual and entirely satanic. We have too much spiritual religion in the world and in the churches which is not of the Holy Spirit. It’s of the demonic spirit and what we need is a separation from sin. [00:34:03]

And this has a great consequence when you have the...[edit]

And this has a great consequence when you have the monastic separation from the world. W.D. Davey’s in a very important new work The Gospel and the Land – Early Christianity in Territorial Doctrine, published by the University of California comments. He says, “The monastic movement is the glaring example, the forces of moral seriousness were channeled to the cloister and the nunnery. A double morality arose; a higher morality for life outside of the world and a lower one for life in it. A double morality is not Christian. We had a double morality in the United States in the 19th century which still has its hangover. It arose from the same idea. Men were out in the world and women were in the home. Therefore there was a double standard. The men being out in the world and having to work couldn’t be expected to have the same sexual standards as women who were withdrawn from the world in the home. There is nothing even remotely Scriptural about that. In fact the Biblical premise is, as Leviticus 4 makes clear as it deals with the gradations of sacrifice, that the greater the responsibility or the authority the greater the culpability, the greater the sin in the sight of God. And so we would have to say, well, all sin is fearful in the sight of God. The adultery of the man has a more fearful consequence in the sight of God because he has the greater authority. But, you see, the monastic ethics creates a double standard morality. And because it separates itself from the world it separates itself from the problems of the world. I have been appalled of late by the number of people who have called me to tell me how they have been stymied in their attempts to deal with some of the problems in their community. Places where, for example, there is a house of prostitution that has been opened across the street from a major fundamentalist church in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California. [00:39:49]

And some of the college age youth are fighting it,...[edit]

And some of the college age youth are fighting it, they are picketing it and driving the owner and the girls up the wall because nobody wants to walk in as a customer when you have some pickets up front. And yet there are so many churchmen who are telling them they are getting involved in the social gospel. We had an attempt this past year in California to put on the ballet an initiative to make these so called victimless crimes illegal again; homosexuality and perversions of various sort. The law against them was repealed. One radical put in a bill for its repeal and did not even assume it had a chance to pass. No churchmen appeared to oppose it. And so they pushed it through in amazement. A few appeared at the last moment when it appeared before the Senate committee but not enough. In fact at one point a committee member asked up and down the state, “Is there anybody in the churches who are interested in this?” He had his aid get on the long distant phone and call clergy around the state. And finally somebody told him, “Well, there is a character named Rushdooney who might be interested in fighting something like that.” Now, a great many Christians were upset when that law was repealed and they began an initiative. And the conclusion was that in a matter of two or three days they would have all the signatures necessary to put it back on the ballet and to pass it. But, the next Sunday it was killed. In churches up and down the state pastors, Bible thumping, Bible believing pastors according to their own profession got up and denounced that as the social gospel. Some said it was a violation of the separation of church and state. I don’t know where that text is in the Bible but apparently they know. [00:39:22]

One way or another they killed it and felt very proud...[edit]

One way or another they killed it and felt very proud of themselves. What is their answer to things? Well, it is prayer breakfasts for politicians and they feel the kingdom of heaven has arrived if they get a number of politicians. One reformed Christian in our state senate said that there is no better place to find the most corrupt politicians and the most consummate hypocrites in the state then at a prayer breakfast because it was the place where you could get the maximum mileage with the least performance. And why does such hypocrisy succeed? Because of the monastic ethics. At the root of course, of the monastic spirit, is a false concept of ethics. There is a metaphysical doctrine of sin. Sin is seen as something which is inherent in being, in material being. Whereas in terms of Scripture, as Dr. VanTil has so ably written again and again in his various works. We had rather an ethical doctrine of sin. Sin is the moral dereliction of man. Sin is not a thing. It is the moral stance of man, his rebellion against Almighty God. Now, sin is metaphysical. As the monastic ethics declares there is nothing you can do about it, it is there, it is a part of being. This is what scholasticism says. Just recently an Armenian theologian within the last month speaking in Southern California declared that, “With our redemption our mind, our spirit is redeemed but sin is strong as ever in our flesh.” In other words the battle against sin is hopeless in the material realm. That is not the gospel. It offers no victory. It offers no success. It simply says you have a problem and you are going to be schizophrenic to your dying day because while your mind, your spirit has been saved your material being is still a part of an unregenerate, a totally depraved reality, in the material universe. Evil is not a thing, it is not an aspect of creation, it is a moral fact and the monastic ethics leads to schizophrenia. Man fights an aspect of himself. He fights his own being not sin, not a moral fact which by a moral decision he can abandon. In terms of the monastic ethics no progress is possible. You are engaged in this dualistic situation to your dying day, until you are freed from your material being and your life is one unending battle and there is no progress possible. The monastic ethics thus is an ethics of defeat or at best a stale mate. Then finally, we need to say that God created man in His own image, in knowledge, righteousness, holiness and dominion as our catechism tells us so beautifully. To be dominion man. To be dominion man. But man, by listening to Satan’s premise, sought to be dominion man not under God but apart from God and he lost his dominion. In Jesus Christ he was restored as a dominion man. And dominion is only possible in terms of Biblical ethics. Covenant man is dominion man inescapably. Covenant man is the man whom God has summoned to go out and conquer the world. Covenant man is the man to whom the great commission is given. And we will return to the implications of that later in the week. “To go ye therefore and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” [00:45:06]

{Audience}

Rushdoony: The term flesh, like the term law, is used by St. Paul in a variety of meanings. Just as the law, when he speaks of it, is in many passages a death penalty, an indictment against me and in other passages it is the righteousness of God, so to the flesh there has the significance in me, in my human nature, as it is apart from God and His grace; there is no good thing.

{Audience}

Rushdoony: The question is what does prayer have to do with inflation and in politics? Prayer has a great deal to do with anything but prayer is a means that we go to the Lord for power to deal with the problems in terms of His Word and we ask for grace that we might better understand the problems and we might better understand His Word and be better enabled to go out and to conquer in His Name. We ask for things in prayer, definitely, but we ask also knowing that prayer requires action, that we go forth in His Name, to conquer. I will deal later with Joshua’s commission. As I shall point out subsequently, the source of the Great Commission, and in answer to Joshua’s deep and prayerful concern; Moses is dead and what am I to do? I am not Moses. And God tells Him to go forth in My power and whatsoever your feet shall tread that land I will give thee, if you go forth in faith and in obedience to Me.” Now, that’s prayer.

{Audience}

Rushdoony: Yes. First of all, we cannot speak of Abraham’s faith as entirely passive as “by faith Abraham left….Ur of the Chaldeans and went out to a new land.” That took faith. By faith Abraham took the name Abraham. We don’t know what Abraham’s original name was. Names in the Bible were definitions and when God called him out of Ur and Haran he named hism Abram, father of many, and later Abraham, father of a great multitude. And that took faith. Can you imagine Abraham as he went out there and arrived in Canaan and somebody asked him, “What is your name?” and he said, “Abraham”. “Oh, Father of many? And, how many sons do you have?” “None.” They really must have snickered but for the fact that he had a few hundred fighting men they would have said something out loud. Now it took faith, active faith, for Abraham to take the names Abram and Abraham. So, you see, in relationship to God in a sense we are always passive because we can never. in relationship to God, be the initiator but in relationship to the world around us we are active, we receive from God that we may give, that we might act, that we might exercise dominion. So that Abraham’s life represents a tremendously active exercise of dominion and of faith. To move into a land knowing it would be untold generations when that land would be his, to move in the confidence that God was able to do that what He performed, to offer up Isaac. Now that is not passive but very active.