Interview Brian Abshire - Part 2 - EC380

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Interview Brian Abshire, Part 2
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 72
Length: 0:57:00
TapeCode: ec380
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.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.


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 380, January the sixth, 1997.

This evening Douglas Murray, Andrew Sandlin, Mark Rushdoony and I are privileged in that we have with us Brian Abshire who has been telling us about his experiences, his pilgrimage to the faith and his experiences as a Christian.

Well, Brian, you were in England. They led you on even though they knew at the beginning what your dissertation was going to be about, so they said it was unacceptable and you decided to leave. So take up the story from there.

[Abshire] Well, if you are interested, yeah I would like...

[Rushdoony] Yes, very much.

[Abshire] This is in 1984, 1985 around that time period I found myself without a job, without a doctorate which I hoped was supposed to be the magic ticket to open all sorts of doors. With a theological education that had been less than useless, for I had learned nothing about what I had wanted to do which was how to help people change lives.

[Rushdoony] You were out 12,000 dollars.

[Abshire] And I was out 12,000 dollars...

[Rushdoony] ...plus living expenses.

[Abshire] Plus living expenses. A friend of mine who had been a senior master sergeant in the air force, his name is Dave Engs and I will say his name because I have nothing but good things to say about him. When he retired he said, “What can I give? I am a young man. I am 44 years old. I have, you know, I have got half salary for the rest of my life in the air force. How can I use my time for the glory of God?”

And what he did is at the bases where we had both been stationed at when I had been on active duty in England and he had opened his home up and started inviting young me into his house on Friday evening and he would share with them. And he didn’t have a Bible college background. He didn’t have a seminary degree. And sometimes his theology showed it. But he had one thing that was absolutely... you could not stand against. And that is he was sold out to Christ, who he was and what he was, was all Christ. His home was Christ. His car was Christ. His clothes were Christ, everything. And he wanted to be obedient. And what he did is he sort of adopted a lot of these young me who were like myself, children of the 60s, people with dysfunctional family backgrounds, people who had ... who had no idea of what it meant they would self govern. And though I would call it theonomic today, we didn’t have the word back then. He would go over the Word of God and he would search for principles about how Christians should live their lives and then he would help these young men build those principles into their lives. And it meant having people stay in his house and he had always had somebody staying there. It meant teaching when he could. It meant spending long times on work projects together, working together. And he would help you to work these principles in your life. [00:03:04]

While Dave’s ministry was growing out of his home,...[edit]

While Dave’s ministry was growing out of his home, he bought a big, huge English manor house out of his own money. He sold his house in Florida in order to finance it. And he had been working and doing these things and he needed someone to come alongside. He said, “Brian, you are here. You are in the same country. I have been doing this by the seat of my pants for five or six years now. I need someone to come along and develop a curriculum that we can use to train these guys.” Now rather than just being three or four guys hanging around his house and eating his food and using his car, there was now 50 or 60 guys that were hanging around and doing these things.

And so there was no money to pay me a salary, because that was kind of the thing that Dave was doing. I am kind of paying for myself, but another Christian said, “Well, I have got a house that you can live in if you want to and why don’t you live in this house. And I can’t pay you a salary, but at least you have got work to do.”

So what I did for the next two years was I think probably every pastor’s dream. And it was a wonderful job. I would go to the office in the morning and I had an old beat up CPM computer. It was a word processor. And I would open my Bible and turn on my computer and I would study the Word of God. What does a new Christian need to know about this? How does a person who knows nothing about Christianity live this Christian life? It drove me back to the Scriptures every single day. And I... and I don’t mean to sound arrogant or anything like that, but I... I didn’t know the write books to read. I didn’t know the great scholars, the great theologians. All I knew is that the Scriptures were the answer and I went back and slowly but surely there was my real theological education. I would take the things that I had studied in the morning and I would teach them to young guys in the evening. And then I would invite them and they would stay in my house. And I would help them to work through their problems, whether they be personal problems or problems with their bosses or problems in relationships or feelings and depression and help to build these things in.

Meantime I had this huge corpus of academic material in the background that I had been studying, that I had. And I also had a... boxes of books by R. J. Rushdoony and other people that I had brought with me as a part of my plan three or four years ago. And then for my own relaxation I began reading Rushdoony and specifically Institutes of Biblical Law and that was when the penny began to drop for me.

Now it got to be very embarrassing. I was an ordained Baptist minister. Hallelujah. Soul winning, altar call giving Baptist minister. And my... my guys, my students would come and they would spend about two years with me which was the average length of tour and they would hear. We would go through. We would teach them theology and Church history and we would teach them the Christian basis of government. We would teach them all these things. We didn’t use words like Theonomy and Reconstructionism, because we didn’t really understand those things so well, but we taught them that Christ was to be Lord of every area of life. Then we would send these guys back to the States because it was time for them to go home. And they would write me letters and the letters were most disturbing. They would start off almost universally saying, “Brian, I found this wonderful church and the guy there preaches just like you preach.” But they were Presbyterian churches. They were reformed churches. They were Reconstructionist churches. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was working. [00:06:13]

And it is very embarrassing when you are a Baptist...[edit]

And it is very embarrassing when you are a Baptist minister and your ministry is associated with a local Baptist church to have all of your students running off to America and becoming Presbyterians. The only kind of Presbyterians I knew were the ... were the liberal kind, the kind that ordained women and did weird things. But what I didn’t realize is that I had been teaching my... my... my kids the reformed faith. And I didn’t get the reformed faith because, you know, R. C. Sproul had taught it or because I had read a great Presbyterian or even because I had read Calvin, but simply because I read the Scriptures and the Scriptures had transformed my understanding.

And so with the time I had spent, anyway, I spent a total of about seven years there and two at the university and five working with this particular ministry doing more and more work, by the time I knew that I had completely undergone a transformation. And I now had a consistent biblical world view. I now had an understanding of how biblical law fit together. I had the terminology to fit with the theology and I had the biblical basis for it as well. And I am very pleased that God did it that way because I know now that what I stand for, what I teach, the ideas that I support and write about are not just because a great man said then and so, therefore, because R. J. Rushdoony is my hero I am going to present this teaching, but I know they are true, because I know the Scriptures. The Scriptures back up what he says. And that is a great, powerful motivating force. A man can stand against anything if he knows he has got God’s Word.

Are there questions or I will bore you all evening, guys.

[Sandlin] Let’s talk a little bit about your present ministry, not necessarily the present church, Brian, but maybe the last few years and then maybe let’s talk about the future and you have written a number of things about Christian Reconstruction and the Chalcedon Report. So maybe talk about what are some things you have been doing and thinking about lately. I know one thing you are going to do is bring Dr. Rushdoony to your present church and do a particular series. And I won’t say more. I will let you say that. And then maybe we can talk about the future of... of Christian Reconstruction.

[Abshire] Well, rather than give you a long ... another long boring story of how I actually myself came to be from a Baptist to a Presbyterian, because it also includes a disastrous experience with a church. Instead, let me say this about my present church. I pastor Lakeside Church in Whitefish Bay which is a suburb, a northern suburb of... of greater Milwaukee. And I have the best church that I have ever pastored, I have ever known about. Now I know there might be pastors out there who think their churches are good, but I have a wonderful group of people, fully committed to the reformed faith, supportive of one another, encouraging. They out do one another in acts of love and charity. They are committed to understanding God’s law and working it in their own life. Some of them would call themselves Reconstructionists and very proudly so. A few of our people don’t even know what the word Reconstructionist means. But they are all committed to the aspect that Jesus Christ is to be Lord. And this church is... it is... I think it is very hard to find them, it is very rare and that the people not only love God, but they love one another. [00:09:15]

And it works where hopefully we are developing a model...[edit]

And it works where hopefully we are developing a model of how biblical Christianity can work in a church environment. Our women are very supportive. They encourage their husbands. Some of these ladies, I can say this. They are brilliant. We just had a gal graduate as a matter of fact just before Christmas from a very prestigious university in Milwaukee. She is married, has been married for about a year and a half and she was finishing up her master’s degree in some arcane aspect of... of computer programming, I mean, it is something that only a few people do. She graduated with outstanding honors and the first thing she said is, “Now I am through with this nonsense. I can start my real work which is having a family.”

Here is a woman who has ... who is the best of academia. I mean she is a brilliant girl, but she understands that her primary responsibility is to her... to her husband and to the family that she wants to raise.

Another out of our ladies is... is a grandmother, a very, very young grandmother who is a real sweetheart. Now that her own children are grown up she has gone back to work in the public school system, shock, horrors. Well, the reason why is because she wants to make sure that her grandchildren don’t have to go to a public school. They can afford tuition of a Christian school. So she doesn't mind taking Caesar’s nickel as long as Caesar’s nickel can go to making sure her kids get a Christian education.

These are the kind of women that we have and they are under the PCA, which is, I don’t pastor the PCA. Anyone who is a member of the church, if you are made it, you are a voting member. But most of our women say, “We are not comfortable with that. Our husband is our federal representative.” And so they have asked if it would be ok if they didn’t vote in church business meetings and church elections because... not because they are... they are... they are rebellious, to the contrary, because they think that is their husband’s job to do it.

[Sandlin] I want to get it straight. The women requested this, not their husbands.

[Abshire] The women requested it. And the reason, Andrew, why the women requested it is because from the pulpit and from our men’s Bible study there is a clear, unambiguous message. Gentlemen, love your wives like Christ loved the Church. And the husbands are dedicated to serving their wives by being the men that God demands them to be. They conduct daily family worship. They meet together for Bible study on Sunday evening and then they take that back and teach their wives. They catechize and instruct their children. We don’t keep them so busy running at 50,000 different projects that they have no time to be available. They want to love their wives. And because they do love their wives, their wives are happy and they are respectful and they are secure that they can trust their husbands. And I think that is a winning combination. When men love their wives as Christ loved the Church, their wives will respect their husbands. And I think that is the ... the... the thing that we have missed. [00:12:09]

[Rushdoony] They are remarkable men...[edit]

[Rushdoony] They are remarkable men. I have met with them ad I know their caliber. Brian has done a great work there in that church.

[Abshire] Well, I take no credit for it, because these... these are good guys, so... I am sorry. I didn’t ... I cut you off there. You were going to say something.

[Sandlin] No. Continue on with your church.

[Abshire] And, therefore, as a church Rushdoony has had such a significant influence on my life and that one of the things that in the... as I said right at the beginning of this. It is self government is the beginning point of Christian reconstruction. And so therefore what we are trying to do is to teach our men to be self governed and then to govern their families.

There are some churches which really amaze me and I... and I ... and I don’t mean this in any way to be flippant. I mean, they impress me. The things that they do for the kingdom. Rush has been showing me some of the things that some Reconstruction churches are doing. It is exciting. And I am impressed by it. The programs and the policies they do.

Well, Lakeside Church is put in a kind of a unique situation. We are right smack dab in the center of the most affluent Jewish community in the entire city. I mean, we get along very well with our Jewish neighbors, but, of course, they are not interested at all in Christianity. And because it is an affluent, upper white middle class community along with the social needs which Reconstructionists have been doing helping the ... the needy and the charitable works, this is really appropriate in our community. And because we don’t have our own building, because we are still a fairly young church, we have... it is very hard to find administrative centers and to do a lot of very fancy programs. So instead what we have done is that we have put the responsibility back on the family. Instead of the church creating a bureaucracy and then trying to take over the ministry and then fit people into its programs. Instead we have commission and challenge each family household to find an area of ministry and to follow through on that. The session is there. The elders are there. The deacons are there to help, to encourage, to advise, but that responsibility is on the families.

So what is happening is that these families—and we have some very activist people who during the pro life movement a few years ago they were... they were very, very much involved in the pro life movement in Milwaukee and... and helped to see a lot of clinics close down. They are very activist oriented. What they do is they will take a project on and then if they think God is going to bless this project and he wants them to work in it, they will recruit one or two other households. It is not just then a committee that is doing this or it is not just a man doing it, but it is the entire family that takes on the project. For example, if one of the projects happens to be picketing a local abortionist, it isn’t just the husband who goes out or the wife who goes out, but the whole family will go out and picket the local abortionist.

I think I made a comment in a... in a comment to the report about one ... one such man that ... a very godly man. He has two sons who had grown up, but they were all in the same church, because they want to worship together in the same church. The only time, though, they are all very busy. The... the one son has a PhD in some aspect of artificial intelligence. The other is a... is an engineer and the father is a very successful businessman, very much in demand. The only quality time they can get is on Sunday morning before worship service. And our worship service is at 9:30. So they have to get up very early in the morning if they are going to get any time together. But they weren’t satisfied just sitting around drinking coffee or having breakfast. They decided that they needed to something for the kingdom. [00:15:40]

So it just so happens that a mile or so from where...[edit]

So it just so happens that a mile or so from where the father lives, there happens to be a local abortionist who was also an elder in the other Presbyterian church. So the father and his two grown up sons get there signs out and march up and down in front of the man’s house on a public street and had fellowship and sing songs and pray and catch up on the week while they are protesting and saying to the community, “This man is a murderer.” And my favorite sign that they carry is it said, “Real Presbyterians don’t kill babies.”

It drives them wild. But it is... this is the kind of ministry that I am talking about, Andrew, where I... I couldn’t have planned that. You know, I ... I am not smart enough to coordinate that. But instead households take on that individual thing, recruit other households and then we see incrementally, bit by bit, the work of reconstruction going on.

[Sandlin] So you are implying that a church serves the family and strengthens the family, essentially.

[Abshire] Yes, it is very much. Rather than having programs which separate the family, instead we are there to reinforce it. If the family is a child’s... this is what Dr. Rushdoony said for years. If the child’s state, it is his first school. It is his first government. And therefore the church should be supporting it, not undercutting it. Therefore we bring our children, for example, into the worship service at a very young age, like from the moment that they are born, ok? Sometimes that means a baby fusses. Wow. What a horrible thing to happen. The mother then will sit at the... who is sitting in the back, might have to take the baby out of the room. But if a child is able to sit up by itself, the child is sitting in the pew. And if the child is able to read, the child is taking very good notes. Not because we are evil, horrible, nasty or the pastor yells at people, but because the fathers are doing their jobs. Their children are sitting ether listening attentively.

Now, as a pastor—and I know I have got, you know, two year olds in my audience—I have a responsibility to say something in the sermon that they can relate to, that... an illustration, an anecdote, a story. And the kids get a kick out of that. That is part of the ... the pastor’s job. But you can see on a Sunday morning which families are doing family worship and which families aren’t. The families that need some encouragement and some help and for someone to come alongside, because the children are quiet and they are reverent and they are learning. And because the church then serves the fathers, the father serves the family, the children grow up in a disciplined and the nurture of the Lord. [00:18:11]

I think this is the way that...[edit]

I think this is the way that... the way that it... more should be done like this.

[Sandlin] One of my pet peeves is in the modern church is it seems as one religion for the children and one religion for the adults.

[Abshire] Yes.

[Sandlin] This little junior covenant and there is the real adult covenant for the adults. But really that is a denial, it seems, of... of God’s purpose in the Word of God and... and the reformed faith.

[Abshire] Oh, I exactly. And I have actually served in churches and here is a war story. Seriously, a church I served at before I became a... a Presbyterian, before we had visited this church. I noticed that all the teenagers used to sit up in the balcony of the church. The biggest church I ever served, very successful. All the teenagers would sit up there. And I would notice that as the ... as the service went on these teenagers would get up one by one and they would wander off. And by the end of the service there would be no teenagers left up in the balcony. And this... I saw this happening two or three weeks. And I am... I am pretty slow, but eventually if you hit me hard enough I will catch on to it. So I had one of the deacons say, “Look, you know, deacon, I need you to check and see where all the teenagers are going during the worship service. I mean, one guy going to the bathroom is one thing, but, you know, the whole youth group?”

Well, he found out that what they were doing is they were going down during the worship service, especially when the sermon began and there was a TV and a VCR in the basement of the fellowship hall and they were watching Christian rock videos, I mean, the really crazy, you know, monster rock videos. And I said, “Guys, you can’t do this.”

But the reason why they did it is that these men who were... when I say teenagers, that is really a bad word. They were really late teenagers. They were 17, 18, 19 years old. They had never sat through a church service. From the time they were children they had gone to primary praise and children’s praise and young adult praise and youth group praise. They had never been taught how to sit, never taught how to think, never taught how to take notes. They were never taught how to do a sermon. They had ... and so consequently for them church is just something that you have to do and it is no accident that according to some research studies 70 percent of fundamentalists lose their children when they grow up. There is this statistic for evangelicals is a little bit better. It is about 45 percent lose their kids. But that is still reprehensible, because we do not do our covenant obligation. We don’t fulfill our covenant obligation to our children. We do not teach the parents how to be parents, the husbands to be fathers and ... and to be heads of their households. And, instead, we separate the children and then we wonder why when they grow up they wander, when we have never given them anything.

[Sandlin] Let’s go on, then to talk about you and I were talking, Brian, I guess it was last night about Christian Reconstruction and ... and the future. A) What are some of the concerns you have about the present and B) where do you think... what do you think our agenda should be in general? Just make some observations along that line.

[Abshire] In terms of ... of Christian Reconstruction as a movement, we are at the beginning point, I think. We have had the foundation laid and it has been laid ably by the life changing work that Dr. Rushdoony has done. This has made the difference. He has given us the tools. If there is a problem that I think that we face—and a serious problem—is that the men who are being won to faith in Christ and being won into the Christian Reconstructionist movement often come out of the same kind of dysfunctional background I come out of. We are men who did not learn self government in the family where we should have. We did not learn how to deal with our tempers or our egos or our petty frustrations. We are unsanctified men. [00:21:42]

And as a consequence, because Reconstructionism is...[edit]

And as a consequence, because Reconstructionism is logical, it is brilliant, it makes sense, it ties the Scriptures together, it therefore tends to appeal to the brightest of the men especially in the reformed faith. But if these men come from backgrounds such as I had and they have not learned self government under God’s law, then what happens is that they have... they have the look, but they do not have the reality.

The greatest challenge for Christian Reconstructionists is to teach our leaders how to be self governing.

[Sandlin] So intellectual brilliance is not enough. It also takes strong character.

[Abshire] Exactly.

[Sandlin] And obedience in self government.

[Abshire] Now the good news, I think, Andrew, is that those of us who have made our mistakes, we are trying to do better with our children by God’s grace, because they have been home schooled or Christian schooled. They are growing up learning those principles. And if we are faithful as fathers then in the next generation we are going to see a great army arise. But for the next 20 or 30 years I think a real challenge for Christian Reconstructionism is to get husbands to love their wives, wives respect their husbands, parents to take responsibility for their children and it may mean—now I am being radical. This is my opinion. Don’t let me put anything on anybody else. It may mean that there are some projects that may have to be put on hold right now because we don’t have the men to do it. And, personal opinion, it is presumptuous of us to push in areas that God has not given us the men to lead in those areas. When God wants us to do something, he will raise up the m en to do it. It is our job to be raising those men up and training them.

[Sandlin] So it is more important to train the right individuals and get them qualified than it is to attack particular projects until we have men.

[Abshire] I am... I am... I am going to... I am... I am not... I am going to be very careful here, because I don’t want to be a Legalist and I don’t want to put something on some one else. I am giving now an assessment.

[Sandlin] That’s... sure. That is...

[Abshire] Rather than... rather than, you know, this is... thus saith the Lord, you know, here says Brian and so you can throw it out if it doesn't work. But I would suggest that this is a real challenge for us is to raise up those me. The real challenge for us, for a lot of us is going to be to take Rush’s works, the brilliance, the consistency and to break it down into smaller and smaller pieces so that they are digestible by more and more people. What he has done for us is given us the tools for reformation. Now we have to teach people how to use those tools to bring about Reconstruction. [00:24:06]

[Rushdoony] We have seen...[edit]

[Rushdoony] We have seen—Brian and I were discussing this—in this century a marked decline in the caliber of education and discipline that children are receiving so that there has been a deterioration. We are recruiting on the university level young men and women with a higher order of intelligence than nine out of 10 who were recruited, say, up to 1960. But they have grown up products of the 60s without discipline. And the best rifle in the world is no good if the sights are not properly aligned. And it is the discipline that has been lacking in the generation that has come up since 1960. And this the Christian schools, I believe, are beginning to provide and the home schools.

Now one of the problems here, as Mark has on other occasions mentioned, is the Christian schools are giving the discipline. The parents are resisting even more than the children, because it horrifies them that you should put a child under discipline, that you should make demands of him. It should be a kind of free, free flowing stream of inspiration, not a discipline.

[Sandlin] Yes, that is, indeed, a problem.

Brian, do you think, as we look to the future, that there is a particular agenda... things... I mean, aside from what you just said, the necessity of training godly, confident men where... where Christian Reconstructionists need to be going and particular topics or particular areas that need to be addressed, beside those specific preparation of... of those men?

[Abshire] Well, there are reconstruction... the task of reconstruction is so enormous. The need is so great. And we are only at the very first stages. As you said on the tape that you have done, the video tape, the goal of Christian reconstruction is to reform every area or reconstruct every area and submit it to Christ. And so the work is... is enormous. There are as many needs as there are Christians that God has given gifts to. And I... I am not sure if I can paint a... a broad enough picture to be able to give a helpful insight in that area.

In some respects, I... I can fall back and saying, “I am just a pastor,” so I have this little area to focus on and let me focus on that. There are other men who have other insights or other goals and things and that is the nice thing about the reformed doctrine of calling. I don’t have to criticize somebody else because they don’t have my calling. They don’t have to criticize me. We can encourage each other and that as men work at their individual callings, things go on. [00:27:27]

There are some exciting things to be done, though...[edit]

There are some exciting things to be done, though. We need as a movement to recruit leaders and that is going to be a crucial aspect of it. I think personally we need to recruit more and more pastors. In order to do that, pastors, most of them are too busy. They won’t read books. We are going to have to provide them those bite size chunks we talked about earlier. We need to provide them with short easy introductions to the major ideas. Somebody being Vice President of Zambia was given by Peter Hammond a copy of Institutes of Biblical Law. Zambia is in the process of reconstructing their entire nation because... because the President and Vice President and the... their assembly, they are all Christians, but they don’t know how to do it. They don’t understand. They don’t have a theology. So Peter gave them a copy of Institutes.

The Vice President on a desk surrounded with papers, overflowing with reports and letters and requests, looked at The Institutes of Biblical Law and Peter said he almost cried. He says, “I know the answer may be in here, but where? I don’t have time to look for it. Can’t you write me a 15 minute... I mean little 15 page summary of what I should do as a Christian, as the Vice President, as the leader of the assembly to deal with education, to deal with the financial situation, to deal with this area?”

And I think that is a real task that we have to do is that Chalcedon has provided a tremendous intellectual capital and needs to continue doing that and we have good men to do it. But it also needs to go this next step of trying to make it applicable.

[Rushdoony] Brian, you mentioned Peter Hammond and, of course, the readers of the Chalcedon Report are familiar with his name because his articles are there regularly. But you know Peter first hand because you worked with him in South Africa. So introduce Peter to our listeners.

[Abshire] Peter Hammond is probably one of the most interesting committed Christians in the world today in many respects. This... I think you were the first one who made this comparison, Rush, and it is a very valid one. If Christian missionaries were as well known in this century as Livingstone and such men were known in the last century, every American would know Peter Hammond’s name. He has gone places and done things that no one else has done. He is truly phenomenal. [00:30:05]

He started off, became a Christian while he was in...[edit]

He started off, became a Christian while he was in the South African army, basically single handedly started a reformation and a revival in the South African army while he was fighting the Cubans and the Marxists. Peter had begun life growing up in Rhodesia. When the Communists took over they drove him and his family out. They moved to Southwest Africa. When the ANC took control he was driven out and he has no love for Communists. He has seen first hand what Marxism does to a nation and to a people. When he was in the army he... they were fighting in Angola, fighting against the Communists and against the Cubans and he was said that one day they were coming through a village and then he noticed that in these villages the one place that would be burned down in the village would be the church. And in the back there would be fresh earth and there were graves and those were the pastors had been shot and buried. When the Communists took over a village the first thing they did was target the leadership of the church.

And he had come to faith in Christ and he was witnessing and to his buddies around, but he had a real burden for the black church who was being suffered... was suffering and being persecuted for their faith.

When he got out of the service he said, “What can I do?” And he had no money. He had a motor bike and he got a few medical supplies together. He drove across Africa, across enemy lines, dodged border guards to take a few Bibles and a few medical supplies to a village he knew of where they were being persecuted. And his ministry has grown since then. He has been arrested. He has been imprisoned. He has been tortured. He has been beaten. He has a death sentence on him in several countries. If they find him they will shoot him. But Peter keeps going back because Christ’s Church is suffering.

Now Peter’s experience in one way. He is my hero. When I grow up I want to be just like Peter even though he is five years younger than I am, but he is my hero. In one way and in only one way his life experience is similar to mine. He has given the gospel. It transformed his life. But he knew that there was something missing. And as he started doing more Bible study and reading a few more books, eventually Peter came to Christian Reconstructionist convictions, because he saw that the law of God had the answers. It wasn’t enough just to fight against evil, but you had to have a positive contribution to make and that is what biblical law did.

I met Peter five years ago before the Marxist takeover of South Africa. He was coming to the States in a small speaking trip and he was a pro life rally and he was sharing about what it was like in South Africa in an army where every morning all the troops got up and said a prayer before they began their calisthenics, where the drill sergeant would assign you to a church and if you didn’t want to go to any church, if you were an Atheist, there were no Atheists in the South African army they would... the sergeant would assign you to the Pentecostal church because they had three hour services.

I mean, it was a different kind of thing. [00:33:04]

South Africa had no pornography of they had it, but...[edit]

South Africa had no pornography of they had it, but it was hidden. Sodomites were not public. There was no such thing as abortion. This was in many respects a Christianized country.

Now there were weaknesses in South Africa. There were sins and there were failures and that kid of thing. But he struggled to bring, not only to bring the gospel and to bring assistance to a suffering church, but to take a firm stand in South Africa against Marxism and Humanism and pornography and abortion and those kinds of issues. And he is one man, but by God’s grace he has raised up a multitude of people, black and white, to resist what the Marxists are trying to do. He has been interviewed by President Mandela. President Mandela has basically offered him a bribe if he would just shut up and stop causing problems.

Peter doesn't bribe. Peter has been out there on the front line. He is not going to {?} to Caesar at any point. And he said, “No, I will continue preaching the gospel.”

We are very concerned for Peter in many respects, because there is a price on his head. But Peter told me this story when I would say, “Peter, we have got to get you out of here. They are going to get you, you know.” He told a story from the Romanian church. It is that it wasn’t the Christians who were quiet that were saved. The Christians who spoke up, who made a voice, who were brave, the authorities were afraid to arrest them because the outside world would hold... would know about them. It was the ones who compromised. It was the ones who wouldn’t take a stand. It was the ones who were a little bit of an irritation who were in most danger.

So Peter, he will go anywhere and he will do anything. I had the privilege just... this privilege just before the elections to go over twice to South Africa to spend some time with him and to encourage him. He asked for Christians to come and help. His one main thing. He doesn't ask for our money. Peter has never asked Americans for money. He has asked for good Christian books, because that is what he needs. The books he has he can put into people’s hands that can change nations. But the real thing that he wants from America is for us to send him workers, people who can share the vision, people who are willing to go and take medical supplies to a village that no one else can get to, that is willing to build a clinic in Sudan.

Lakeside church through one of our representatives, managed to put together a whole container load of building materials. There is... there is a place in Sudan that has no... there is no hospital for thousands of square miles, but there is a clinic that was once there which the Muslims blew up. We have the materials now to rebuild that entire clinic. People all over the country give us medicines, carpeting. They have given us tools. It is all put in a container. The U. S. government actually flew it to us for free to Kenya, but we need men. Peter needs a man to actually build the clinic. [00:36:01]

[Rushdoony] If I may interject something, I am going...[edit]

[Rushdoony] If I may interject something, I am going to ask everyone who hears this tape to start remembering Peter Hammond in your prayers. Pray for his safety. Pray that he succeed in the causes he is undertaking. He is the one man who has blown the whistle on the fact that not only are the women and children of black Sudanese Christians sold into slavery, but the men are being crucified, literally crucified. And Peter Hammond is the one who has blown the whistle on that. So please remember Peter Hammond in your prayers.

[Sandlin] Brian, though it has been published in the report, would you relate to us, again, this fascinating story of when Peter went into Zambia before it was a Christian nation and his suffering there, but how that that turned out to the glory of God. And I don’t want to say any more to spoil the effect. Will you...?

[Abshire] Peter and his brother were ministering in Zambia when it was still a Marxist nation. When Zambia was under control of Marxism it was the center for training guerillas operatives all over the world. The Red Chinese were there. The North Koreans were there. I mean, the uniforms of various Communist, hard line Communist states, you know, Albania. They all sent their troops there for ... for terrorist training and to train them to terrorism. Peter didn’t stop it. these Marxists whom he ... he hates Marxism, but he is going to preach the gospel to them.

And so they went in and they were ... they were captured and for whatever thing they were put into Osaka prison. And this is a hell hole. And, I mean, and I don’t use that word lightly, but I literally... it was a hell hole. Fifty men put in a small room with a... with a tiny grate in the door was the only ventilation, a bucket in the corner that was the only kind of ... of toilet or sanitary facilities. No water at all. Meals were basically the government wanted to starve the prisoners to death. Peter and his brother they were... they were beaten and they were tortured. Why are you here? You are CIA. You are South Africa defense forces. You are spies. You know, we are going to shoot you. And eventually they threw them in and once you have thrown them into these cells you are basically left forever.

Peter and his brother like the apostle Peter when thrown into prison they didn’t get despondent. They didn’t get depressed. They hugged each other and they said, “It is a privilege to suffer for Christ.” And so as they prayed together they started singing. And as they started singing somebody across the hall in the next cell began singing with them. And they managed to kind of squirm their way over to this tiny little grate, only a few inches in diameter on the wall and shouted out, “Is there a Christian over there?”

Yes. Yes, we have Christians in here.

So Peter and his brother began ministering to these people. They would share Bible verses with them. They would encourage them with sermons and talks that they had prepared. They would help pray for them together. [00:39:04]

And the whole time that Peter was in there, they developed...[edit]

And the whole time that Peter was in there, they developed a close relationship with two men especially who were political prisoners and probably were going to be shot some time in the future, but they had been thrown in here to be forgotten. They ministered to them. They loved them. They encouraged them. Peter eventually because of pro life demonstrators, by the way, in this country, put so much pressure on the South African government and on the Zambian government and consulate that eventually Zambia said, “We have got to get rid of these guys. They are more trouble than they are worth. Who cares if whatever they are. Get them out.”

So Peter after a few months in prison was taken out and they were, you know, thrown out of the country and said, “Don’t come back or we will shoot you next time.”

Meanwhile in God’s providence, God took down the Communist dictatorship in Zambia. God raised up some men to lead the nation. The two men who became the President and the Vice President of Zambia were the same two men that Peter and his brother had ministered to and encouraged and prayed for and taught while they were in prison.

Peter said, “Now I know why God had us arrested and what he wanted us to do.” It wasn’t some super spiritual, oh, suffering is good for the soul. But there were brothers there who were being prepared to reconstruct a nation.

Consequently, Peter has got an open ticket in Zambia. And Peter will not back down. When the new President declared amnesty and said, “Well, Christians don't... don’t kill other people so we are getting rid of the death penalty,” Peter and Frontline Fellowship said, “No, sir, you are wrong. You are confusing the ministry of justice with the ministry of grace. You must execute prisoners.” And they wouldn’t listen to him and they did not like the fact that Peter would openly say they are wrong.

And, of course, what happens is that the crime rate in Zambia went through the roof, because they weren’t using biblical principles in that area.

But even though, you know, there is sometimes reformation has come in fits and starts, these men who are running the government are godly men and Peter has an unprecedented access to put into their hands the materials that they need to change their nation.

[Sandlin] And the Christian government and the Christian parliament were overwhelmingly reelected, were they not?

[Abshire] Yes.

[Sandlin] And not... a couple of months ago, maybe or something like.

[Abshire] November.

[Sandlin] Was it November?

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Abshire] It was a real danger because obviously after, you know, 20 years of Socialism the people had forgotten how to be self governed. Their... they want the government to take care of them. And, of course, what the Christian government is saying is that, no, you must be self governed. You must take responsibility. And, like in our country, Christians don’t want to hear that. They want to be taken care of. It takes... it takes a while to teach a man how to be free and to be responsible. But God is working there.

We have an opportunity at Chalcedon to minister through Peter and when Peter was here in our last visit we were fellowshipping together and Peter said, “Well, if we could only get the right information into their hands, we could greatly help them change. They want to change. They just don’t know how.

So what we are doing right now is that Peter is getting a list of the 25 top questions that the President and Vice president of the government have about how to become a Christian nation. Once I get those questions from Peter, you, Andrew, have volunteered to help me find 25 godly Christian Reconstructionist thinkers, because we have some of the best minds in the world. I mean, if they are not necessarily working with us, they are in the same side and the same camp. We have an unprecedented opportunity to have them change their whole government system. [00:42:26]

[Sandlin] And Chalcedon has already...[edit]

[Sandlin] And Chalcedon has already...

[Rushdoony] Send me those 25 questions as soon as they arrive.

[Abshire] Yes, sir.

[Sandlin] And Chalcedon has already sent ...

[multiple voices]

[Abshire] We are expecting you to answer the first 12, so...

[Sandlin] And Chalcedon has already sent a number of books to Peter...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Sandlin] And he distributed them widely to ... to political leaders and educators and people in the police there in Zambia and others, I believe.

[Abshire] Yes, exactly. And Chalcedon’s ministry has been a wonderful one. That is what they need were books. The only kind of books they were getting were the sappy spiritual pietistic, oh, I am so happy here is the reason why. Jesus took my burdens all away. Chalcedon has been giving them the kind of books that they need to change lives.

[Rushdoony] Colonel Doner who was here last week reported on Monty Wilson’s...

[Abshire] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ...visit there, which we financed in part and Monty is going to write some time an article about his meeting with the leadership of Zambia.

[Abshire] Now it is difficult in Zambia—and you have to remember this is a culture which has been in the thralldom to Paganism for thousands of years. It isn’t like in the West where we had the cult... the gospel has permeated our culture and... and affected our values. They still need to learn those things. It is very, very slow going. There are two kinds of time. There is western time and there is African time. Western time means we go to work at, you know, at eight o'clock in the morning. African time means you might show up by 11. I mean, they haven’t learned those things yet. And it makes it very frustration for western missionaries.

Meanwhile, the western evangelistic, you know, superstars who would never have gone to Zambia when it was a communist nation, but these are the blow dried superstars with their fancy hairstyles and cars and things like that are going in and they are making rice Christians, because they will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of food and medicines and they will give them out if people will come to their... their conferences. And it is actually impeding the cause of Christian Reconstruction, because it is not helping the people to learn to be self sufficient, self governed and to be responsible. And so that is a real impediment. I don’t know if Monty was talking about that in the interview, but Peter said repeatedly that that is a... that is a problem.

[Rushdoony] I know in one country you mentioned the different conception of time. It takes the members a long time to get to church. They come by ox cart. And they can straggle in from nine till 11, but the services last three and four hours because they don’t want to get up and leave. So if you were to have an hour long service, they would just sit there and wait for more. But they have a different conception of time and it can be frustrating to a westerner, but some of the missionaries change with time. [00:45:38]

I know that after spending most of his life in the...[edit]

I know that after spending most of his life in the country I was speaking of, this Englishman came back and was a bit shocked when people got restless when he preached a three hour sermon. He was so deeply imbued with that spirit that it seemed the normal thing for him to do. The worst part of it was it was a day of record heat in an area that had no air conditioning because they had never needed it. And three hours in record heat was an ordeal.

[Abshire] When I was ministering in {?} in South Africa they assured me at the mission station that the longer I preached the more the Zulus would like me. Well, let’s just say that they loved me.

[Rushdoony] Well, I can think of one American who we should have shipped over to Africa because he couldn’t stop.

Isaac Barrows was one of the great English clergymen, Church of England in the 1600s. He was a remarkable person. I am rather partial to his writings because he wrote with a clarity and a beauty that some of the others didn’t have. His sentences were simple and direct, beautiful. But he was a long winded preacher. And on one occasion—and he was held in great respect—on one occasion he preached in this cathedral. Morning prayer went on and on past noon and dinner time and the day was waning and the hour was approaching for evening prayer. And still Isaac Barrows was going strong. So one of the men went up and down the aisles with his hat taking up a collection to pay the organist to start playing, because they had crawled... one of the men had crawled to him and he said, “Oh, no, I don’t dare do anything like that to start blasting out with an organ piece.” They figured with enough money in the cap he would. [00:48:38]

So they came to him with a cap full of money and whispered...[edit]

So they came to him with a cap full of money and whispered as they crawled up to him, “Play and this is all yours.”

So he blasted out over the organ and Barrows was startled and he looked up and saw that it was night time. The sun was not shining through.

So he ended his sermon, but that was Isaac Barrows, one of the great ornaments of the English Church.

Oddly enough, he was a master of concise orderly writing. He marched to his point and that was it.

[Sandlin] Brian, you have six covenant children.

[Abshire] Yes.

[Sandlin] Is that right? Tell us a little bit about the necessity of a strong father’s leadership in the family and family worship and the necessity of godly families since you obviously have one.

[Abshire] Well, there have been a couple of books that have been very significant to me and one was one that I required all of our deacons and elders to read who were studying, getting ready for ordination and that was Rushdoony’s Toward a Christian Marriage. And I hope that is still in print, because...

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes.

[Abshire] ... it is a precious.

[Sandlin] Oh, yes, it was recently reprinted.

[Abshire] Oh, great. Great. My copy was... was pretty old. I mean it is...

[Sandlin] Yes.

[Abshire] And that and the 1647 Directory of Family Worship published by the Church of Scotland.

Now it is very difficult to read because it is 17th century English and very, very long complicated sentences and there is, you know, very... sub clauses versus subordinate clauses versus, you know, independent clauses and things. But, however, the gist of it is that the Scottish Presbyterian Churches thought that it was a disciplinable offense if a father neglected family worship. And that made an impression on me even though very few people even know of the Directory of Family Worship, it said to me why the Presbyterians were able to reform their nation, why the Presbyterians and Puritans were able to build this nation and the strength of previous generations. [00:51:00]

So we have sort of incorporated both of those and...[edit]

So we have sort of incorporated both of those and... into our churches as the building block that it begins with the father leading in worship. Rush set the model for us. And we have gotten encouragement other places.

Now we don’t do anything... it is not super spiritual, super fancy. It is simply, for example, in our family worship we sing a hymn. We sing in family worship the same hymns we will sing on Sunday morning. That way very, very young children can get a chance to get familiar with some of the words and the tune and things so if they can’t read they can at least feel they were a part of it. We recite one of the creeds, usually the Apostles’ Creed. We pray together. We read a small section of Scripture. The father then explains that Scripture and makes some use of it to our family on an application. Then we pray for our church and for missionaries like Peter Hammond, you know, doctors of the Church such as Dr. Rushdoony and that ends it. It takes about 15, 17 minutes.

Sometimes, though, I have to admit, it takes longer than that, because the children when they hear the stories and they hear the principles they ask questions. And so sometimes what should be only 15 to 20 minutes sometimes becomes a half an hour to 45 minutes.

My children are such, and I... and I don’t think my children are particularly special, I mean, obviously they are special. They are my kids. But I don’t think they are... they are greatly above normal. They are really offended if we miss family worship. And if, for example, I have an early morning meeting and so I miss family worship in the morning and I plan to do it in the evening and then there is an appointment came up or an important phone call, the children will sit there at the table until daddy is ready. And if I say, “Hey, kids, it is bed time,” Dad, we can’t. It is family worship.

Well, ok, I have been a father long enough to know that maybe my kids are pulling my leg and they just don’t want to go to bed, but I also think that by consistent family worship they know the importance of being with God.

What we also do is that we catechize our children. Now as a Presbyterian in the PCA we put a lot of emphasis on the Shorter Catechism. We think that is a wonderful summary of good Bible doctrine. And for very, very, very young children we use the children’s catechism which is an introduction to that. But the catechizal form of learning, questions and answers, review, repetition. Rush was talking earlier about how great the memories were of his father’s generation, because of the emphasis on... on rote memory. It is a fantastic way. It builds the principles into a child’s {?} and it becomes a good time of family fellowship. Dad is not there just as the disciplinarian. He is not the one that says, “Get out of my way. I want to watch TV.” Or “Grab me another beer, honey,” or whatever the case may be. But Dad is seen as ... as ministering the Word of God to his family. The consequence is that the children grow up disciplined. They grow up respectful. They grow up submissive to the Word of God and... and internalizing it in their life.

I think by God’s grace, I am able to give my children what I lacked myself growing up and that is become self governed.

[Rushdoony] Well...

[Abshire] Does that answer the question?

[Sandlin] Yes. [00:54:03]

[Rushdoony] I have been in the Abshire home...[edit]

[Rushdoony] I have been in the Abshire home. They are very, very happy children. And they love the discipline. They... it gives them, actually an advantage over anyone else, but they don’t realize that probably. But I recall when it was time for them to go to their rooms Brian said, “Ten hut.” They all lined up. “About face. Forward march.” And off they went very happily and proudly. And it was just like that, instant discipline. They loved it.

[Sandlin] Brian, would you agree that there will not be reformation in the Church until there is reformation in the family?

[Abshire] I would say that is absolutely fundamental, that there cannot be one without the other. There cannot be reformation unless there is self government. If we are to self governed under God’s now, nothing else. And self government begins in the family. It is... this is what Rush has told us for 40 years now. He has pointed out in so many different ways and different contexts and showed us the implications if we don’t... if we don’t follow through on it. Self government is the beginning point. And the way that we begin self government is by our parents fulfilling it in their children.

Now, praise God. For every covenant household, for every family that has bee doing these things for years, for families such as the Rushdoonys which have almost an unbroken line for thousands of years on... on this kind of discipline and emphasis on the family worship, but most Americans don’t have it. We haven’t experienced it. Just like our brothers in Africa have to learn how to show up on time, we have to learn how to be disciplined.

[Rushdoony] Well, our time is about up. I am going to ask all of you who are listening to be sure to remember, of course, Brian Abshire in your prayers and also Peter Hammond. You have an obligation there. Here is a man, Frontline Fellowship is his organization, made up military veterans.

[Abshire] Yes.

[Rushdoony] ...who is on the front line of the grimmest battles today for the cause of Christ, who is under a death sentence by Marxist terrorists. He needs your prayers. And you will be derelict if you fail to pray for him. Please do. And God bless you all. Thank you for listening.