Religion - Culture - and Curriculum - RR148D8

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Religion, Culture, and Curriculum
Course: Course - Philosophy of Christian Eduction in Christian Schools
Subject: Subject:Education
Lesson#: 8
Length: 1:25:31
TapeCode: RR148D8
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Philosophy of Christian Eduction in Christian Schools.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.


Religion in Culture and Curriculum, and the importance to a curriculum to a society. The dictionary definition of education is that it is the impartation or acquisition of knowledge, skill, or discipline of character. This means that the function of education is to school people in the ultimate values of a culture. Educators try to pass on to children that which they believe is most important for the individual future and society’s future. They are thus communicating their faith and what is basic to life.

Now, when secular education, humanistic education leaves out scripture and leaves out God, it is saying that our faith is irrelevant to the future. Education is inescapably a religious task. In any society, anywhere in the world, education is a religious task, whether you study the Hindus, or the Hopi Indians, or the Americans, you will find out what they believe by analyzing their education. Then you will have their real faith. Today, supposedly over fifty million people in the United States are professing born again Christians. But, when you analyze their faith, you find that it is not the lordship of Christ, as Mr. {?} has so clearly shown in his beautiful study thereof, but it is man who is paramount in their thinking. When the state takes over education and makes it non-Christian, it is disowning Christianity and is disestablishing it for another religion; humanism. If you want to know the religion of any society or any people, study their education.

Not only is education in its foundation religion, but the education of curriculum expresses religious standards, a religious faith, and the religious expectations of a culture. Every institution, whatever it is, is religious. Church, state, schools, family, every institution is religious, you see? You cannot limit the idea of religion to a belief in God. Religion can be pure humanism, and almost all religions are humanistic, but every religion, man in all his ways and all his doings, is religious, and a Christian is a Christian in all his doings, and every institution, every area of society he touches must be under God. This means not only his idea of worship, but his idea of work and rest, of peace, of education, of all things. The curriculum of a school thus, is a religion expressed and communicated. Every curriculum is a religion expressed and communicated. [00:04:55]

Definition for Curriculum[edit]

Literally, the Latin word from whence we get the word “curriculum” and which appears in Latin without any change of spelling from our English word, means a running, a race course. The curriculum us thus, the chariot, the race course, the vehicle whereby a person goes from a beginning point to a goal, and the basic curriculum is called, as we have seen, the liberal arts curriculum. Liberal comes from the word Liber, free. The art of freedom. The liberal arts curriculum is thus the answer a religion gives, and the people give to the question: “What is liberty? How does a man prepare himself to be a freeman?” or, if you want to state it in other words, “How shall a man be saved? How shall a man be saved?” and, as a result, the liberal arts curriculum developed the means of freedom, of salvation, of preparing the whole man for what constitutes true religion, the life of freedom and faith. It is a means of salvation for the children of this society. Every public school curriculum is a plan of salvation for the children. It seeks to save them from what the society regards as evil, threats, and gives them the skills to meet life triumphantly. In other words, it is a religious {?}, very clearly, very emphatically.

Now, the art in of our modern liberal arts curriculum is in Greek humanism. One of the problems with Christianity through the centuries has been that most of the time, it has worked with an alien curriculum, one borrowed from the Greeks and not revised much since then. Greek humanism was not individualistic in that respect. We have offered it, but as far as its basic humanism, we have not. For the Greeks, the basic unity was the Polis, the city state, from which we get the word politics. Greek education concentrated in literature, on Homer, and {?}, what says Homer give up? Heroes. However, {?} What are heroes? Heroes are given as men. They are men who realize the potentiality of all men to be God, and so their function in education was to tell pupils, imitate them. Be your own god. The heroes are the real gods of Greece. The Greek gods are all divinized heroes. Zeus or Jupiter, and all the others were once real men who died. Several cities claimed that Zeus had been their man, lived there, and they could point, in one case, to the grave of Zeus. [00:09:09]

Physical Exercise, Geometry, and Civics[edit]

In the Greek curriculum, dancing and gymnasium were very important. Why? Not for physical exercise, because physical exercise is the Christian concept of the {?} but in order to engender enthusiasm. Now what’s enthusiasm? Very literally, this word from the Greek means to keep gods {?}. To be god’s {?}. So that, with your activity, you built yourself up to a frenzy, to god’s possession{?} Physical development, when they stress muscle building and exercise had, as its function, not health in any essential sense, but the perfection of the divine humanity of man, the perfection of form, man’s divination. Man was to be the incarnation of the universal form.

Similarly, geometry was studied not so much because it might be useful, but essentially because geometry was supposedly a contemplation of the divine forms in creation, the abstract forms of the universe. It was a religious subject. We still keep it, don’t we, in the curriculum? The only people who, almost the only people who ever use the geometry they get, and I enjoyed geometry, are those who are going to teach it. Who else ever uses geometry, only a very few people, but everybody has to study it, because it was in the Greek curriculum for religious reasons, it’s still in our curriculum.

Civics. Those of us who are older had civics, which was a religious subject because, in a society that said the state was everything, to study the polity, the form of government of the state was a religious thing, and so we require that everybody take a course in Constitution, but not in the Bible, because we are thereby witnessing which is more important. If we said that we study the Constitution in order to further our Christian citizenship. Good, then we would make the Bible basic to the curriculum. [00:12:07]

The Battle Between Christ and Caesar[edit]

Thus, the content of the curriculum, one subject after another, in terms of the classic liberal arts curriculum, had a Greek plan of salvation. The Romans took over the Greek curriculum. They kept is basically, but they added a word to the language of education, and of life. They spoke of the pious man as one of the goals of education. What did they mean by the pious man? By the pious man they meant the one who was under subordination to authority, ultimately the authority of the Roman state. Historically, piety means subordination to the human authority, basically that of the state.

Christianity, of course, from its inception, came into conflict with the world around about it. It was very quickly a battle between Christ and Caesar, two rival gods. It was a battle between the city of kingdom of God and the city or kingdom of man, a battle for control of the world in history and it’s still the basic battle. Unfortunately, however, when the Christians triumphed, they did not change the schools, they merely took them over. In effect, they {?} them and called them Christian. The result was, very quickly, as {?} said in the Middle Ages, and I quote, “I have seen to myself to have composed a history not of two cities, but virtually of one only. The two were intermingled, because as they educated the people, they brought together the faith, the word of God and the word of man. The liberal arts curriculum was paganism, and you can’t do that. You destroy what you’re trying to accomplish in education.

The Renaissance, therefore, was the result. The Renaissance said, what we study requires us to promote man’s freedom, man’s divination some were ready to say. The Reformation reacted against that in terms of the word of God, but the basic humanism of education triumphed. For a time here, in America, almost {?} the Christian schools were truly Christian in the Colonial period. In fact, in the earliest days of the universities of this country, the language that was required was Hebrew, and Greek after that. Pontificated, of course, that they felt the primacy of not practical learning but of the word of God. Progressively, however, the pagan liberal arts curriculum took over in America. The Christian schools were seen as the enemy by the Unitarians, and in the person of Horace Mann, they wages war against the idea of Christian schools. Horace Mann is the father of statist education in this country, of humanistic education. As a Unitarian, he saw Christianity as the evil. Charles B. Sumner, one of his associates, {?} and abolitionist, spoke as I mentioned previously in one of our other meetings, as a biblical faith as the circumcoils around our children, and the {?} education, that is true salvation for our children as a Unitarian he believed that biblical faith had to be destroyed. [00:16:56]

Obsolete Curriculum of Humanists[edit]

As a result, liberal arts, as humanism has developed, has come to mean as we have progressively seen in our various meetings and especially in our previous period, freedom from law, existentialism, man’s anarchistic freedom. No truth exists in this perspective but man, the only true word is man’s will. The basic idea thus, that the liberal arts curriculum of the statist schools is anti-Christian. We must, therefore, deny it, and we must remake the curriculum. We will deal very specifically with some subjects next week, or next month at our next meeting.

But consider the curriculum today, how obsolete it is. It teaches us things that the Greeks thought were important, and it neglects things that are basic to our everyday life. Consider economics. Never, all the way through grade and high school, do you get economics. It is not required in most colleges and universities, which is perhaps for the best considering the kind of economics they teach, because it is humanistic, socialistic economics, but economics is something that everybody deals with every day of their lives. How to handle property, money, the use of time, the use of materials, the exercise of dominion. Economics is basic to our lives, and whoever studies economics? Is it any wonder that people reared incompetently, that they cannot manage their affairs? When I was in the pastorate, I found that it was not sex but economics that was at the root of most marital problems, the inability of couples to handle money. Thus, economics should be basic to the Christian curriculum. One of the things that Chalcedon hopes to do is to produce a Christian textbook, thoroughly and rigorously scriptural, for the teaching of economics {?} Christian {?}. Ed Powell is working on that right now. [00:20:14]

The Need for Christian Law & History to be Taught[edit]

Consider another subject, again one that is never taught: law. Every one of us lives in a world of law. First, there is family law which we are born into, because the Bible teaches us what is required, what is law for children. Church law, school law, economic law, civil law, God’s law, and who ever studies law? Can you imagine economics and law, that we have to deal with every day of our lives, and nobody ever studies it, or talk about education being obsolete and irrelevant, but education is supposed to be relevant to the needs of life. Humanism is committing suicide because its concept of education is not dealing with every day problems. Its faith is not able to face reality, and this is why we need to develop, in terms of Christian schools, new subjects that are realistic. Hopefully, sometime in the future, we can have a textbook for law in grade schools and high schools. No, sometimes startling to find Sunday school children who got all the way through high school and rarely missed a Sunday, who can’t tell you the Ten Commandments, but that is true.

We shall be dealing with history at one of our subsequent meetings. The issue in history is a very important one. How is history determined, by God or by man? Consider the term Middle Ages and Dark Ages. They’re ready to admit there was no such thing as a Dark Age. It’s called Dark because Rome fell and Christianity triumphed, and they call it Middle Ages now because that was kind of in between the blessed humanism of the ancient world and the revival of humanism with the Renaissance, and everything in between was just a nightmare, you see. And you and I, according to them, are still living in the Dark Ages. As a matter of fact, the term Dark Ages was coined by a Christian who applied everyone who was living out {?} proper usage. We’re living in the Dark Ages right now, all over the world, because humanism is in control. [00:23:33]

Garbage Science[edit]

Consider another subject that is becoming very popular and coming down from the colleges and universities where it is required into many high schools: psychology. It has replaced theology. Theology was once the queen of the sciences, basic to every subject, and preaching psychology, the study of man, is replacing it, and anthropology. But psychology and anthropology only have a place in the Christian frame of things as branches of theology. God’s word becomes what man is, anthropology, and God’s word determines what the mind of man is, psychology.

Or the sciences. We, as Christians, must say there is no such thing as science. Science does not exist. Sciences, various organized bodies, have now {?}. But what can you call science and comprehend with in it all things that are called sciences? Similarly, there is no such thing as a religion in general. There are specific religions. Again, ecology has to be rescued {?}. It’s getting more and more placed in the curriculum from the humanists and seen in terms of God, in terms of His word. God created all things, and He gave all things their place in the world. The current National History has a very interesting article on the tse tse fly in Africa. It’s always been regarded as a great evil, but this article says it has been the preserver of a vast fortune of Africa which the natives, otherwise, would have turned into a desert because the cattle, those that have moved in, the natives with their cattle, and they would have destroyed that land. It could not take cattle, but the tse tse flies kept cattle out, and the land has been prevented, millions and millions of square miles, from destruction.

I was telling my wife earlier this evening that, for some reason of other the bumble bees have been very active this week, perhaps because of the very {?} weather, and I’ve haven’t been partial to bumble bees. They grow about that big here and are really enormous things, but I have rescued about a dozen of them from the swimming pool this week. Why? It’s become a kind of principle with me, to save those bumble bees. The reason is that I heard not too long ago a statement by a scientist saying that the bumble bee was the one bee which had no use whatsoever, and I don’t believe it. I don’t believe God created anything useless, and when we find what God’s purpose in creating the bumble bee was, we’ll find it has a place in His purpose and plan. Now, it may not be something I like, it may have no place in my purpose and plan and personally, I’d rather the bumble bee kept his distance from me, but God has a purpose, you see, so we have to rescue ecology, from a man-centered perspective to a God-centered perspective. [00:27:41]

The Christian School Curriculum Must Change[edit]

The curriculum must be thus, must be revised and rebuilt. I believe in the next generation we’re going to see the Christian school pull away from their curriculum of the secular school more and more, and begin to revise and add, drop and substitute, and create progressively a Christian curriculum. This is one of the things we hope to do here at Chalcedon as the Lord provides the funds and we find men like Ed Powell and others who can begin to write the textbooks, do some of the basic research and thinking, so that wee can create a thoroughly physical concept of one subject after another, and in terms of it, rebuild the curriculum. The curriculum of the public schools is true to itself. It teaches that man is his own god. A Christian school to have a Christian curriculum must, in every respect, set forth the {?} with God and His sovereign purpose into all things, and the preparation of man for the service of God, the glorification of God, the enjoyment of God, and the exercise of dominion under God.

Of course, it involves practical problems of change. It won’t come overnight. The schools are tied, to a degree, to college preparation, but I believe that you’re going to see, in the not-to-distance future, new colleges developing. Old ones being revised, some of the biggest and most important universities in the United States, which had the long waiting list a few years ago are now having to go out and beat the bushes to get students. Why? The same students are going to small Christian colleges, which have waiting lists now, if they’re at all good. The reason is, the total breakdown that humanistic education creates is leading more and more parents to say, “Why should I put out $8,000 or $10,000 or $12,000 a year to have the faculty blow out the brains of my student and turn him into a hoodlum?” I believe, therefore, that the whole of the college scene is going to be changed. You see, in the 50’s and 60’s, the Christian grade school came into being in a massive way. The Christian high school is beginning to bloom, and the Christian grade school is still growing, rapidly. The next step will be the remaking of Christian colleges, and all the while you’re going to see changes on a grade school level. A great deal has happened already. When I first wrote my two books on education, it seems as though I was a wild man, that was twenty years ago, to make the kind of statements that I did in {?} and subsequently {?} of American education. Now it doesn’t seem at all wild to anybody but it’s very logical and sensical, and now I’ve been doing some writing for some years on the idea of a Christian curriculum and so on, and I will be teaching a course at a college in Florida this summer on the subject, and getting an audience on it. Why? Because there is now the need for, and a demand for it, and we are only seeing the beginning. [00:31:57]

Future of Christian Education[edit]

As a result, I think we’re going to see vast changes. Alterations of the curriculum, perhaps the shortening of the Christian school year. Perhaps a year-round school may develop, too, but changes we can barely begin to imagine, the initiative will go from the state schools to the Christian schools. One state school officer told me a few years ago that their curriculum was now so loaded with requirements by the state and so hard-bound by the state that they were bound hand and foot and could not longer exercise any initiative in education, and so although he was not favorable to Christian schools, he thought that progress and initiative would take place in this area. There is freedom there. Not the same kind of money, not the same kind of facility, but freedom, the ability to make changes and to develop and grow. This is why I believe the future belongs to Christian schools. The humanistic schools are destroying children. The Christian school offers true liberty, and as it develops its curriculum, it is going to gain an {?}. Are there any questions now? Yes?

Q&A: Shorter School Year[edit]

[Audience] {?} Christian school possible {?} short school year. What would be the reason for that?

[Rushdoony] Yes. When we got back to the Colonial Era, we find that the Christian schools then had, very often, a short school year. For example, a teacher or a group of teachers would have a circuit of schools within a relatively limited distance, so that let us say, someone living in Ione{?} would have school there three months, then after a break of a month, would go over alone, if they were {?} small farm area, or two or three teachers, to another area, maybe ten miles away, and hold school there for three months, and then to another and so on, you see. In that time, it would be a highly intensified course. They would concentrate then into that span of time far, far more than we teach now. In fact, the academy in those days, then right after the time of Horace Mann, your high school in other words, was one summer session, for college preparatory students. During that time, you were to master Greek and Latin, and your math, and a great deal more. You see, there was a totally different concept of teaching and of the ability of the child to learn. He worked. [00:35:36]

Q&A: How to Improve Teaching & Teach It Faster[edit]

Now, what pattern? Well, as some of the Christian schools that have been in existence now for about twenty years, and have had the right kind of leadership and have progressively stepped up their curriculum, amazing things have happened. I know one school that has a one-week session at the beginning of every school year in which they have an outside speaker to give him two or three hours of lecture each morning, and then in the afternoon they have sessions, the purpose of which is to see how can we improve the teaching and teach more? Step up our teaching ability. But, the net result is that in one of these schools, the children now are completing all of what is required by the public schools by the tenth grade. They’re knocking off two years, you see, from education. Now that has not come about overnight. It’s taken about twenty years to reach that point by stepping up the curriculum. By, for example, making kindergarten a place where they go through the third grade McGuffy Readers, and yet, some simple arithmetic and start the study of German, as well as other things.

Now it takes time, you see, to develop your curriculum that way. However, as time goes on they will be able to step up the curriculum further, to shorten the number of years and the number of days the child will have to be in school. We’ll get back to what was once the situation in this country where, by the time you were twenty, you were out of school. You were a man. You went into your work. Today, a sizable part of your life is gone before you are finished with school if you do any extensive schooling. You go to the university and graduate school. In Europe, where they require a very extensive type of graduate school training, a great many men are in their mid-30s before they are able to marry. As a result, in Europe, it’s not uncommon, in fact, it is almost commonplace for any man who’s had any extensive education to be married to a girl who is about fifteen or twenty years younger than himself, because by the time he finishes his schooling and gets out, gets started and makes a little money, he’s getting close to forty. [00:38:38]

Christian School Children Further Ahead Than P.S. Children[edit]

Now, you see what has happened to education? We direct it out more and more, and we teach less and less content every time. Now when you have Christian discipline, and a Christian curriculum, you’ll begin to get more content, you’ll have better order. You all know that if you have a class that is orderly and well-behaved, you can teach far more. Alright, after that, a disciplined background from Christian parents who were brought up through Christian schools, and you will, with each generation, step up the confidence of those pupils to learn. So, I predict the Christian schools are going to be so far ahead that before another decade or two, anyone who goes to a public school will be regarded as a “dumbo.” Already, in many Christian schools, increasingly and more and more it is a problem when you take a transfer from the public school over to the Christian school. He is undisciplined, he doesn’t know how to study, he hasn’t learned much. You almost have to reteach him. Now, at Fairfax Christian School, for example, Mr. Filburn{?} find that, for any of the junior and senior high transfers, ninety percent of them he does not even interview. He rejects them over the phone. Out of the ten percent of the best who reply, he takes his pick. If he picks them, they didn’t fit in, they would disrupt the class because the students are too far ahead. Now that’s already true, I know, in some of your schools. Your problems are the kids who are let in who are transfers, and if your school improves, it’s going to be increasingly impossible to take any of those transfers. Any other questions? Yes?

[Audience] {?} for more time for the child, being taught {?} formal learning situations, which would be more time for the child in order to devote to, say, learning of occupation at that time {?}

[Rushdoony] Very good. Yes. Let us look ahead to the future and say, we’ve been able to shorten the school year to four or five months in the next thirty years. Just taking arbitrary figures. What is the child going to do in the other six or eight months of the years? Well, he can step up the pace of learning and go to school further, and finish at an earlier age, or depending on his family situation, he may be a help with father, and learn something by working outside, and this used to be the case so that by the time he finished, he had a trade, he had a skill, he was closer to his father, or he would apprentice out to somebody and he’d learned a trade or a profession, or he could just keep going to school and graduate earlier. Yes? [00:42:26]

The Christian School Curriculum Must Change[edit]

[Audience] I remember something when I became a Christian, I almost went to college and you know, I didn’t really learn that much. I really started learning a lot when I became a Christian. {?} learn a lot of different things. What do you think is essential for, you know, as far as a so-called college education? I thought a lot of stuff was a waste of time.

[Rushdoony] Yes, most of what I’ve {?} university was a waste of time. That’s such a big question to answer: What is essential about a college education? First of all, and I can only answer that in a general way in just a few moments. What is basic is that there be a focus. Now, you began to learn when you were converted, you see? You life now had a focus. College education, universities do not have a focus. There are miscellaneous subjects. There is no focus. Hence, there is no meaning to the various studies and disciplines, and each {?} teacher is concerned only with a subject, not an interrelationship. You can only have that interrelationship if you have a systematic theology, because then you see all things as connected one to another because God is Lord over all and all things have meaning because His creation is a {?} total meaning. So, we must, first of all, have a focus and the school must have a focus, the college must have a focus. That focus will come when theology is again the queen of the sciences. Universities are not universities now. {?} He spoke of the need to call them “multiversities.” Why? There is no focus, no center, no meaning. They stress a multiplicity of subjects, and the one thing that is taboo, you can have anything but that, is theology, who said that this is a universe, one God, one faith, one world of law, one world of meaning, and see the unless you have that, unless theology is the queen of the sciences, you can alter the college and university curriculum endlessly and it still doesn’t mean much. Nothing has a focus. You provided it with your conversion. Suddenly, there are pieces of the jigsaw that fitted together, and your answers to put the pieces together, answers to reach out and get this or that fact, this or that body of knowledge, and keep things together and have a coherent perspective of the world under God. Yes? [00:45:47]

Q&A: Armenian vs. Calvinistic School Teaching[edit]

[Audience] I really appreciate what you said about theology the center of our studies and not taught in Christian schools, and I’ve tried to say that. {?} four years old in the Lord, and {?} theology, and I can see how theology {?} when they told me how to study this and study that. {?} out to lunch. You being the more mature, you’ve been around a lot longer, they had concerns in government, and concerns in this, and concerns in science, and I’ve told them that, you know, because their theology is Armenian and not Calvinistic, there’s {?} in the Lord. Maybe could you explain {?} why Armenians theology {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, Armenian theology cannot do anything because, having denied God’s sovereignty and predestination, it denies, systematics. The fundamental presupposition of systematics is that every area of life and thought, every moment of time is under the absolute governance of God and has meaning {?} so that {?} are necessary for {?}. There is a necessary coherence between every fact in the universe and every other fact. Then, you’re not studying miscellaneous subjects. You are studying all things from the perspective of “God is the Lord,” and every area of life is a revelation of Him. Now, when you have systematics, things hang together. William Butler Yeats, in his famous poem, “The Second Coming,” how many of you know that? Well, his idea is that there is a second coming now of the beast, and he speaks of the beast slouching to the New Bethlehem waiting to be born. You see nothing but horror ahead. Why? The center is lost. Things no longer hang together, and with that systematics, nothing hangs together. So that when Armenian theology steps in, it still talks about God but it has accepted the humanistic worldview in which it’s miscellaneous facts. Last week I was speaking somewhere, and I was speaking before a particularly brilliant group of people, and someone wanted to know how it was that I made the connection between things so well, and I said, “It’s very simply if you begin with the sovereign God of scripture, if you have a systematic theology, then all things hang together. They have a logical necessity to them, and you begin to see the connection.” Now, that’s the problem with people who don’t have this faith. They don’t see the connection between theology as the queen of sciences and the various subjects. [00:49:24]

Q&A: Connection Between Studies & Theology[edit]

For example, I mentioned {?} and his studies on math, and their necessary connection to the doctrine of the trinity, to the biblical doctrine of God. How you cannot have math if you don’t have that faith. Now, you tell that to some people and they look at you blankly. In fact, when I mentioned {?} articles in passing, when I was speaking to one ultra-fundamentalist college, the math department and the students became so outraged. They were so insulting subsequently that one of the senior faculty members told me later they were going to be disciplined because they were so outraged at. Why? Their whole view of reality was shaken, you see. They were basically humanists, that’s what came out. They didn’t want the God who was Lord of all, the God who determined mathematics. They wanted the math in which man {?} and that was the issue that came out. It really shocked them there at the school. I don’t know whether they smoothed it over after I left, or what happened, but that was what came out very clearly. Yes?

[Audience] Could you explain to us what you mean by systematic theology. Like, a lot of people today don’t see how systematic theology actually, you know, relates, and you know, they think they study one aspect of theology, or they don’t see how that aspect of theology like the doctrine of predestination relates to every doctrine, or the doctrine of atonement relates to every area of theology, and as a result, they get all mess up when they try to do anything practical.

[Rushdoony] Well, that can be put this way. If you don’t have a systematic theology, you have a smorgasbord theology. I enjoy smorgasbords, so don’t get me wrong. I’m not condemning them, I’m condemning smorgasbord theology. In {?} theology you go along and say, “I like this idea,” and I pick this up and “I like this,” and I’ll pick that up, and so you talk to some people who have a smorgasbord theology, and one moment their scriptural and the next moment, they are Hindu, and the next moment they’re Buddhist, and they’ll actually defend it and they say, “It’s such a beautiful idea. Such a beautiful thought.” I have found ministers who claim to be Bible believing who’ll take a statement really, right out of Hinduism and they’ll use it, and they say, “Oh, well God can manifest Himself through Hinduism, and it really is such a beautiful thought. It’s very narrow-minded to condemn that,” you see. They don’t realize that in buying that thought they’ve bought another religion, so they’ve got a smorgasbord religion. [00:53:01]

Q&A: Paul and the Knowable God[edit]

It’s like, what was his name, Lewis {?}, who was one of the great artists {?} more than a century ago, and at one time, some boys in his neighborhood got together several bugs, a bumblebee, and a number of other things, and very cleverly they took them apart and pieced various pieces together and glued them, and took it to the professor to show him a new kind of bug they had found. Well, the old man looked at the bug and the students wanted to know, “Is this a new bug? What kind is it?” and he looked at them and said, “It’s a humbug.”

[laughter]

Now, some of the Christian theology you meet, when you look at them with their piecemeal things, you have to say sometimes, “That’s humbug theology.” Yes?

[Audience] I’m sure {?} cafeteria {?} I {?}

[Rushdoony] Now, what he did was to take the remark of a weak poet out of context just to be able to challenge them. Paul was a highly educated man, he knew their language, he commanded their attention, but why did they then leave him? Wanted to hear no more of him? Because, instead of talking about God as the ground of being, a limiting concept as it was in Greek philosophy, he said this God in whom we live and move and have our being, is the God who is the judge of all. Your judge, my judge, the Lord of all. Therefore, they left him and they said, “We’ll hear something more about this at another time.” They wanted no more of that, you see. But that wasn’t smorgasbord theology being preached. It was just a way of capturing their attention saying, “Look boys, I speak your language but I know the inadequacy of what you have to say.” Now all we have is a synopsis there of his lecture, and I have no doubt that St. Paul began after that statement, to critique the whole of their philosophy, to show its inadequacy, because they talked about an unknown God, or more accurately an unknowable god, you see. To an unknowable god, who could not reveal himself, because he couldn’t express himself, he was incoherent, he was just a blind natural force in being. So, he made clear, having declared, This unknowable god is worthless, but there is the living God, who is the Lord of all and is your judge. So, that’s a very different thing. He smashed their whole system. Yes? [00:56:49]

Q&A: Reformed vs. Reformational[edit]

[Audience] Yeah, I know {?} very carefully draw {?} and say theology and that I feel {?} and they would put that into real life theology if they theoretical {?} of scripture, and so {?} He had a very, he was a very, he was on my case, because of the way I viewed theology {?} like you were, he was very opposed to that, and I remember {?} book on education, I think he makes that point, he even talks about theology the queen of science{?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, because you see, the whole {?} school of thought does not {?} to the infallible word. They do not believe in the doctrine of creation. They are not reformed. They call themselves “reformational.” In other words, as society, culture, and man changes, you continue changing and reforming things in terms of this new word that comes to you. So, it is not theology which governs them. In fact, if you push them, they are hostile to theology as the queen of the sciences, philosophy is.

[Audience] Yeah, I know that. I find, I’ve had a lot of {?} have a definition.

[Rushdoony] Now, with some theology will have a place, but with them it is speculative theology, and we don’t believe in speculative theology. We believe in biblical theology. We don’t believe we have the right to speculate and to create theology out of a mind. It is a biblically-required theology that we can alone profess and adhere to, and believe.

[Audience] I know Webster’s 1828 dictionary where he differentiates contrast theological faith or speculative faith from saving or evangelical faith. It’s a tremendous contrast.

[Rushdoony] Well, Noah Webster, you know, was a scholarly reformed believer.

[Audience] Yes, he was. I have two questions. One is I want to make a short question and ask you to comment on it. Now, I went back to school ten years ago to get my credential in {?} because I had to finish my pre-med {?} and then I’d been in the Navy and I’d been in business twenty years after, and I became so disturbed because I had to take a few general science, I’m sorry, general ed courses. I had to take foreign affairs and intellectual history of the United States, and whole lot of these humanistic courses, and the whole background of America’s founding, and American’s education, and America’s goal and purpose was really to downgrade it and alter it and subtly change {?} humanists, and so I actually changed my major {?} biology, I changed my major, I didn’t really change my major {?} until I came across your book, {?}, and I believe this to be the fact about education, especially in higher grades and I know it starts in kindergarten and before, I talked to you about this {?} that the basic theological teaching of the Bible, upon which all other doctrines depend and upon which all education and truth depend, is the first biblical doctrine of the gospel, which you just mentioned, which is creation, and without creation, you don’t have any other doctrine. [01:01:13]

Q&A: Paul and the Knowable God[edit]

[Rushdoony] You have a false doctrine of God and a false doctrine of man without a sound doctrine of creation. Yes. Emphatically that’s true.

[Audience] Now the second question has to do with a more personal thing, and you may choose not to answer it. It’s about a measure we just heard last weekend by a man who’s rather renowned in some circles. I’m sure you know his books {?}, Escape from Reason, and so forth, and after his {?} presentation in which he speaks of creation absolutes, and the absolute sovereign God, and the creator God, and the {?} and the people going into {?} and going into this whole humanist Greco mix-up thing like you just spoke of, still I {?} ask the young man the question, “How do you know?” or “Why do you believe the Bible to be true?” There was quite an interesting answer, and I’d like to hear yours now. Why do you believe the Bible to be the truth? Why do you believe it to be from God and it’s absolutely true?

[Rushdoony] Because it is and must be the basic presupposition of my faith. I do not proof it to be true. I prove all things in terms of the word of God. I do not come to judge whether it is true or not, I just whether all things are true in terms of the word of God. In other words, it is my starting point. I do not sit in judgment upon it. It sits in judgment upon me.

[Audience] Quite a contrast. Would you like to make a few comments regarding the theology that you, at least, Dr. Schaefer’s had in his L’Abri thing and how {?} it is for a reconstruction. He speaks of a return, he doesn’t speak of Christian reconstruction, I believe. He uses a phrase which I’ve forgotten. [to Audience 2 member] Do you remember what it was?

[Audience] Return to reformational . . .

[Audience] Back to the reformation ideas {?}

[Rushdoony] I’m not sure I can comment because I know Francis Schaefer, and I like him, I respect him. He is on our mailing list. I’ve read some of his things but I haven’t followed his thinking that closely. Now, one of our Chalcedon scholars, Greg Bahnsen, is going to give some pages to him in a study of Van Til and his critics. I’m not sure what Greg Bahnsen will say but when that is out, which I hope it will be next year, it will represent a very close and careful study, so I’d rather not give an off-the-cuff remark. I have not read him that closely. [01:04:17]

Q&A: Francis Schaeffer[edit]

[Audience] Well, {?} very impressed with his presentation. However, I believe that a good bit of what he said in a kind of a low-key way so that it wouldn’t {?} in any way was so powerful that it should have been delivered {?} and that had to do with what Christians had been done in their {?} and their faith {?} and personal peace afterwards.

[Rushdoony] Well, Van Til apparently has written something on Francis Schaefer, and thinks very highly of him and regrets that there are points of differences and he believes, points of departure between them. But, with all due respect to Francis Schaefer, and I am grateful for the good that he has done, I’m really not that cognizant of his thinking in detail to comment on it. I’ve read three or four of his books, but very hurriedly when I’ve been traveling and I simply wouldn’t be confident to comment on them. Yes?

[Audience] Just a quickie on {?} now is he himself really {?} philosophy or theology?

[Rushdoony] Yes, {?} for a time was moving in the same direction as Van Til, but he definitely has chosen philosophy as prior to theology. Toronto exaggerates the problem, and weaknesses of {?}

[Audience] {?}

[Rushdoony] Exaggerates them.

[Audience] The false {?}

[Rushdoony] Yes, and weaknesses, the lacks, the shortcomings. Any other questions? Yes?

[Audience] Regarding Schaeffer, you said about your {?} and so forth, {?} at least I’m not trying to convert to turn the world {?} the world’s culture around, preached the gospel to sinners. Sinners can’t keep the law, but you have to preach the gospel to sinners, I’m just trying to {?} turn the culture around, and so {?} how do you {?} responsibility of men Christians to the gospel and the world cultural thing?

[Rushdoony] If we have a total God, we have a total task. It’s that simple. We cannot limit it.

[Audience] {?} If the sinner’s not going to keep the law, {?} make the world known to sinners.

[Rushdoony] Yes, but you see, we are not to look at things humanistically and say, “What can the sinner do or cannot do, but what can God do, and what has He required us to do?” and he’s called us to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth, to bring every area of life and thought into captivity to Jesus Christ, so the duties are ours, but the results are in the hands of God, but the total God makes a total requirement. We cannot say that there is any area of life that is not to be brought into captivity to Christ. To do so is to deny the gospel. He is Lord of Lords, King of Kings. Now, {?} , of course, was rationalistic in his philosophy, so naturally, he has ultimately limited God and exalted man. He’s made man judge over God in his philosophical premises. Yes? [01:08:56]

Q&A: Calvinism[edit]

[Audience] Something that I’ve read quite a few of Schaeffer’s books, and I think the major error of Schaeffer is that he emphasizes culture. I found when I was reading him, I came to {?} about culture but never told me anything about what he believes as far as theology. You see, culture {?} Calvinistic theology and I never learned anything about Calvinism from Francis Schaeffer, and I think what might be interesting, would you define what you mean when somebody is a reformed Christian. Like, I see everybody around here, “I’m reformed, I’m a Calvinist.” And what does that mean to you?

[Rushdoony] A reformed Christian is one who believes in the sovereignty of God, not only unto salvation, but with respect to every area of life, and his duty; to serve, to obey, and to magnify the Lord by exercising dominion in every area of life and asserting the crown rights of King Jesus over the totality of all things.

[Audience] {?} redemption. The original revelation God had was for man to have dominion, and when Adam fell, redemption was given, and you view redemption as being only the redemption of the sinner without {?} of the original mandate for him to have dominion, then his revelation becomes man-centered. Revelation can never become man-centered because it is always God-centered. But redemption is always in terms of returning man to his original {?}, original revelation. {?}

[Audience] {?} is not God-centered, it’s anti-God, and it’s {?}

[Audience] and Genesis 1:28, {?} but as far as Paul in his epistle, he {?} based on the gospel.

[Rushdoony] But you see, you’re thinking of culture in a humanistic sense. What does the Soviet Union mean by culture? It means . .

[Audience] {?}

[Rushdoony] Wait a minute. I’ll come to that. The Soviet Union by culture means an opera house in every small community, and that {?} dance team performing there, and artists having their displays so that people can say, “See, we Soviet people are not Barbarians, we have culture,” and humanists in various forms define it the same way. Talk to any humanist about culture and he means the art gallery, and the opera association, and the symphony orchestra and so on. Now, what is culture really? It is simply religion externalized. Religion externalized. Well, don’t we believe in that? If you have a faith, it’s going to show. Culture has to do with education. What are Christian schools? Christian Culture. [01:12:27]

[Audience] {?} Christian culture from a non-Christian world. I want to try to make the law of God reign as much as I can {?} unregenerate man with the word of God.

[Rushdoony] Wait a minute. The word of God is “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal.” You’re imposing that on maybe 100,000,000 non-Christians in the United States today, if not 150,000,000.

[Audience] {?}

[Rushdoony] But you are. They’re not killing. What does the Bible say in Romans 13? The power of the civil magistrate is to be a terror to evil-doers. Was the evil-doer obeying even in a non-Christian state, he is obeying the word of God with “Thou shalt not kill.”

[Audience] {?} I’m not just trying to be this narrow evangelist here. That Paul is not talking total turn-around. He’s saying, he’s talking about the gospel, he’s talking about the church-elect, and {?}

[Rushdoony] He’s talking about culture because he’s talking about a faith that acts, that lives.

[Audience] {?} about God.

[Rushdoony] If it acts within the people of God, it’s going to act on everyone around him.

[Audience] But he {?} men. On Romans 1 I read this morning {?} among the Gentiles.

[Rushdoony] Alright, by the end of the gospel canon, there were 500,000 Christians in the world. Some, a majority, within the Roman Empire. That’s the estimate of scholars and as a result of considerable research and some guesswork. Those people were shaking the Roman Empire. Now, the multi-millions of Rome were being shaken by a handful. Why? Because just as today, the ungodly are destroying themselves. They are suicidal. They cannot create order, they are destroying it. The order that was created by Christians in this country, they are destroying it. Who alone supplies order? Why, it’s the people of God. One of the most interesting experiences I had in this regard was on an Indian reservation where I began my pastorate for eight and a half years. We had something like fifty-five Christians out of about 915. Not many. But what was the situation? When the pagan Indians predominated, and they were real pagans, you see, you had a total breakdown. The lawlessness that would prevail would be such that it would become impossible, and what would they do? In desperation they would turn around and they’d elect the Christians, so you’d have a Christian tribal counsel. Immediately, you’d have strict law and order, and everything would be good, and everybody would be saving their money and not blowing it on drink, and the night {?} would stop, and after awhile they would get {?} just too much trouble to be so well behaved, and they’d throw off the Christians and they’d be down in the gutter again, and in desperation, they’d vote the Christians back in. That’s how it happened over and over again. Now, if we’d had twice as many Christians we could have held it there, you see? It doesn’t take a majority. History has never been commanded by a majority, never, only by dedicated minority, and if we’d had twice as many Christians we could have created an order there that they could not have turned around. It would have created a situation whereby we could have better reached the children. When things would go downhill, kids by the fourth grade were drunk and were alcoholics, and I mean that literally. [01:17:14]

You see, the potentiality whereby the Christian is...[edit]

You see, the potentiality whereby the Christian is called, in our Lord’s words, is {?}. What are we sought to do? Not a flavoring in Bible{?} it is a preserving agent. Especially in the Holy Land where you had heat all through the summer, you had mild winters, how did you preserve meat? Salting it. When I was on the Indian reservation, at first before Idaho Power came in there, how did I keep meat? Salting it. I’d go fishing in the summer for example, and I’d get a large trout and I’d put it in a salt brine, pack it with rock salt and after I cleaned it, and put it in a salt brine, to keep it to use anytime during the winter. Salt was the preserving agent. So our Lord says, “Ye are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its function, it is no longer good for anything but to be trodden underfoot by men.” Just what could I do with that {?} I wouldn’t put it out in the garden. It would damage the garden. I’d put it on the pathway, because nothing grew there anyway, or on the driveway. So, God says, if you don’t function that way, if your faith is not externalized, if it does not have a cultural manifestation, culture is simply religion externalized. That’s what it is. Then we are trodden underfoot by men, because God says you’re worthless.

[Audience] How can we keep on as far as running the church goes {?} How can we keep on with just {?} like a primary {?} turn around and {?}

[Rushdoony] We can build church buildings that are worthless unless there’s a face that is for {?} in those churches, but you need tools to produce. A building is a tool is it is properly used. You need a building for a Christian school. It’s a tool, like pencils, blackboard, desks, chairs. It’s a tool for production.

[Audience] {?} ornate and not be elaborate.

[Rushdoony] Oh, what’s wrong with ornate? The Bible commands that things that are in the Lord’s tabernacle be for beauty and glory. Now, you dress well. Why shouldn’t the house of God be dressed well?

[Audience] {?} [01:20:27]

Q&A: An Ornate Church/School[edit]

[Rushdoony] Well, that’s not the point. You dress to put on a good appearance, to make an impression, a favorable one, one that won’t be demeaning to your person, to the family, to the faith, to the church, the school, whatever you represent. You see? Alright. The church building is not to be for the glory of man but for the glory of God. No, I think we’ve gone too far in the direction of making the churches as plain and as ugly, and as cheap as possible, as though God is going to be grateful for that. We make sure we live in a comfortable home, but the house of God, let it be {?}. I don’t see that. I think the Christian church, the Christian school, should show the fact that we have a mighty God, who’s here to stay; not here today, gone tomorrow, you see?

[Audience] {?} reformed theology {?} but I heard them talking {?} culture is {?} I wish that all {?} you know, evangelistic {?} somehow I {?}

[Rushdoony] Maybe there isn’t.

[Audience] I see where you’re coming from. I hear the voice of Mr. Powell, I believe, still coming out, and many {?} the culture that you’re speaking about, I {?} in the sand, to be that culture that comes out of the salt, out of the true conversion, out of the true redemption, and not out of show {?} and now you’ve got two things {?} the sovereignty of God must be first exercised and manifested in the redemption of men, and if you are going to have Christians who are going to put on this cultural mandate, and that’s not part of the term {?} you explained that {?} but anyway, {?} exercise it in the schools and every facet of life, and then have to be Christians who are redeemed Christians, not “Christians” that have a theological speculative faith, and when I heard the answer to that question and I didn’t explain yet to people here {?} of why you believe the Bible, you {?} Schaeffer’s definition, “I {?} it because {?} and it works for me,” and this kind of thing and everything was about his reason, and that was the most shocking revelation when {?} people {?} [01:23:32]

Q&A: Destruction of Humanistic Culture[edit]

[Audience 2</audiopointer> Schaeffer said that?

[Audience] {?}

[Audience] You know, Paul in Romans 1 also says {?} and tops it off with another statement, he says, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death,” {?} it was death. {?} He says, “not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” {?} Well, the whole world’s going to hell and that’s alright. That’s {?} You see, for me, {?} if I read Romans 1 correctly, and say, “{?} God’s law, in society, {?} family is I’m committing a sin which I have to {?}

[Rushdoony] I believe God is going to destroy Soviet culture, American culture, whatever is humanistic in the way of culture, but that he requires us to create a Christian culture, which is simply our faith externalized and manifesting itself . . .[01:24:54]

End of tape