The Disappearing Cornerstone - RR183A1
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Our subject this evening is the disappearing cornerstone, church and community in American history. In our day the word community has lost much of its meaning. In its origin it means common, but common itself has many, many meanings. Some of the meanings of that word are customary, regular, course, vulgar, low and so on. At first the word common meant something belonging to or shared in by all. And the best example of this is perhaps in the title of the Book of Common Prayer, because the Book of Common Prayer gives the prayers and the worship of all the people because it was the prayer book for the Church of England. Now the word community therefore presupposes something held in common, it is a word that is very, very closely aligned to communion. The word community belongs essentially to Christendom. In other cultures very, very different ideas set forth the unity of the people or their differences. In Western civilization communion is the ground of community, the Lord’s Table in other words. It is the fact of a common faith in a common savior. This means that community had had in western culture a super natural basis, it rested in the triune God, in the decreed plan of salvation, in the atonement of Jesus Christ and the communion one with another in Him. [00:02:17]
Now that’s the simple historical fact...
Now that’s the simple historical fact. Community has had a religious meaning in Christendom and in the United States. It has had more specifically a Christian, a biblical meaning. This is the reason why the modern state is so often at war with Christianity and with the church. A good deal of my time in the past ten, twelve years has been spent in court defending churches, Christian schools, home schools, Christian parents, Christian daycare centers and so on. All of which are expressions of the life of the Christian community. The state seeks to de-plant community, Christian community and all its aspects with its own idea of what is commonality and government. Marxism seeks to establish communism, a state created and state imposed community. The dictator of sociology has defined community as a limited territorial area which had characteristics separating it from other areas. And this characteristic of that community according to the dictionary can be race, national origins or race affiliations. This is a definition that is very painfully weak. But it is the one that prevails in our schools; it can describe a black ghetto where there is a great deal of violence of black against black. It can refer to an area of Chinese who are divided between those who are for Red China and those against it. [00:04:28]
And so the sociological definition of community does...
And so the sociological definition of community does not tell you that the thing is a community and that there is communion between the people. In fact you can call Los Angeles in terms of some of the sociological conditions a community, but that does not mean there is communion between the people here, or that all is well, or that there is peace. Paul says we are members one of another because we are all members of Christ and that is the meaning of community, in fact, this was the point at which one of the main areas of warfare between the Roman empire and the Church took place, there were a number, one of course was that Rome required e very church to have a license which they would put on the wall and submit to state control regulation and taxation. This the church refused. Another one that the Church was accused of, and rightfully so, of being an: imperium in imperial. The latter terms means simply an empire within an empire, a government within a government. And of course our Lord was crucified as a king and that was the inscription placed upon the cross. And this was true. The scripture called Jesus Christ King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and what does it mean to be a king over kings? It means to be an empire, an emperor. So, Rome accused the church of being an imperium in imperial, an empire within the empire, governing. And they denied the right of anyone to govern; they did not allow any group to meet without a license. Every meeting whether they are at a home or at a public place had to be licensed, it had to be controlled. We’re going back to that very rapidly. And what was the church doing? It was meeting illegally and it was governing. [00:07:17]
It was doing what God required in his law, what the...
It was doing what God required in his law, what the apostles summoned the Christian to do; they were members of one another. Very, very early, long before the church ever had a building it was caring for the elderly and the order of widows was ministering to needs in families. It was caring for homeless children, for abandoned babes, it was caring for the sick in hospitals of Christian origin. It set up courts to settle things among Christians, First Corinthians six, in terms of God’s law and in no time at all the pagans were coming to these courts because it was the only place in the empire for justice. They were setting up schools to educate their own and so on and on. They were a government, an empire within the empire, and sometimes we don’t realize how all out and dedicated they were to governing, they’re taxing themselves to govern. You’ve all heard of Saint John Christendom, when Constantinople was bishop over a hundred thousand Christians and those hundred thousand Christians were caring for fifty thousand needy people, homeless children, elderly people, the sick, the unemployed. That’s a staggering fact, it gives you an idea of why Rome hated these people; they were an emporium within an imperial, an empire within the empire. They were governing, they were a community, they were members one with another, and they were reaching out through all their activities to bring all these others into fellowship with Christ and to minister to them in the name of Christ. [00:09:51]
We are members one of another and over the centuries...
We are members one of another and over the centuries the great theologians of the church stressed this. In the Middle Ages Thomas Aquinas said and I quote: “Everyone living in a community is in a matter part and member of the community and any evil or good done him rebounds to the whole body.”John Calvin went to the Apostles Creed to the clause on the communion of saints and he declared that and I quote: “The saints are united in the fellowship of Christ on this condition, that whatever benefit God confers on them they should mutually communicate to each other.” It was the sharing of fellowship. They cared for one another. In those days and for centuries there after the deacons ministered to the needy, for those in need. This fact of a shared life and fellowship, this has been seldom appreciated but it has been a very, very important aspect of Christendom. Again and again major advances in western civilization have been a product of this community action by the Christians. In 1780 the Marque De Castelo described how American settlers on the frontier could in two years clear a forest, build houses for themselves, put up fences, and begin to ship food to the market, and in five years all of them would be debt free. Now contrary to the modern myth it was not the result of rugged individualism, but of Christian community action. As the marque wrote and I quote: “I shall be asked, how one man or one family could be so quickly launched. I replied in America a man is never alone, never an isolated being. The neighbors, for they are everywhere to be found, make it a point of hospitality to aid the new comer. A cask of cider, drunk in common and with gaiety, or a gallon of rum, are the only recompense for these services, helping one another build their homes and clear their land. Such are means by which North America, which one hundred years ago was nothing but a vast forest, has been peopled by three million inhabitants (this was at the time of War of Independence that he wrote). And such is the immense and certain profit from agriculture that notwithstanding the war, it maintains itself wherever it has been established, that it extends itself to places which seem the least favorable to its introduction. Four years ago one might have traveled ten miles in the wood without seeing a single habitation.” And he went on to say that now it is peopled with farms and with churches. Such mutual helpfulness was once commonplace in the United States. It is still routine among some religious groups, notably the Amish. [00:14:28]
Now it is important to know the motive force for such...
Now it is important to know the motive force for such a way of life. Although church attendance is now high in the United States, church membership is not a serious matter. And many people join and break with a particular church very casually, most of the time their reason for the fray are personal and even petty, not theological. Perhaps the best index to our current problem is marriage, the closest and most profound type of community. One can say that marriage is a form of communism and the only form which the Bible allows, because property in the Bible is family owned. Moreover the past generations as well as those that come have an important stake in the family property because the living members are trustee from the past to the future, they receive something from the past and they have duty to transmit it to the generations to come. King Ahab was willing to give Naboth more than his vineyard was worth but Naboth refused Ahab because he saw himself as a trustee who could not act in term of self-interest. The family today seems both marriage and property in terms of personal satisfaction and self-fulfillment, not as a responsibility under God. Debt living has replaced responsible trustee-ship. And the romantic ideas are substituted for Godly marriage. Very few pay attention to Scripture when it limits debt to six years and tells us that as a general rule, owe no man anything but love one another. Today when problems arise the solution is not sought in Christ and in the scriptures but in the civil court of law. In recent years this has even been the recourse of people who are living without marriage, everything is going to be settled by the court. But even a humanist like Carlton Kramer reminds us and I quote: “Legal remedies are highly imperfect solutions to most social problems.” Which both parties would write that into their plans. Legal remedies are highly imperfect solutions to most social problems. But in one area of life after another today it is legal remedies which are sought because men no longer see scripture and the Lord as the remedy. [00:18:19]
This means we are in trouble...
This means we are in trouble. If our necessary and our basic community is humanistic and political rather than Christian we will seek through coercion and law community and we will always feel frustration. Our problem today is that community is sought through legal coercion rather than by Christian grace and Godly justice. We are going to legislate community into existence, which is a ridiculous idea. Very early in the history of the United States after 1780 the intellectual leadership and the men of law began to stress the policy of community through civil government. Most Americans continued to see Christian faith as primary but in time with the ups and downs of Christian vitality the humanistic doctrine of community by civil law has prevailed. And it has prevailed because to a large extent the church through pietism has withdrawn itself from the problems of the world. One European has said that the modern church, especially the American church, which should be the center of the vitality because there’s more bible believing Christians in the United States than anywhere else in the world, but he said the church has become convents and monasteries for married monks and nuns. The edge was drawn from the world. As a result the primary hope of the twentieth century American, whether he is Christian or humanist, is in civil law, in politics, in community by coercion, and this transfer of responsibility for community and for justice and for love for the person to the state. The result has been, to cite Cramer again, highly imperfect delusion. Now the change in the United States began with the presidency of Andrew Jackson. [00:21:20]
Peter J. Rothman has documented this, some of the changes that took place under Jackson. When the shift from solving problems through Christ to solving problems through politics came into vogue, first the poor previously had been cared for by relatives or neighbors. It was an action by a Christian community [Unintelligible] the state began to replace the Christian community in dealing with the poor. And second the prisons began to replace fining, working and restitution. For minor misdemeanors there were fines or a public whipping. For anything serious there had to be restitution, restitution and people were only put in prison until they were tried. And if it were a capital offense they were executed or at the trial they were sentenced to restitution. I’m very happy to say that some states today as a result of Reconstructionist legislators and judges have begun to require restitution. Then third, the insane were cared for by their families, not by institutions with financial aid but we saw in the time of Jackson institutions replace families and feeling began to disappear. People with mental problems were perpetually restored through Christian love and grace, and discipline. But with the institutionalization of the mentally troubled we began to have a prominent population of mentally disturbed people and cared for through humanistic needs. Then four, homeless children were taken in if there were no relatives by neighbors as their Christian duty. The state now began to assume a custodial role. Through Rothman’s account another function was added, about the same time the state school system began, with devastating consequences for this country. In colonial preaching the care of the poor was treated as a Christian duty not as a state responsibility. [00:24:47]
And this continued for a century after the constitution...
And this continued for a century after the constitution. But, with this departure by the churches from Christian concern came humanistic reason for social problems. Instead of saying that people were criminals because they were sinners, that they were in rebellion against God and his law, what they began to say in the presidency of Jackson that vagrancy could be traced to the legal system, not the criminals. That society was to blame, or the law was responsible, or in that day they began to say the family. So parents began to be blamed. In other words the guilt became environmental, not personal. Moreover instead of seeing offenders as responsible persons, and I quote now again from Rothman: “They stripped the years away from adults and turned everyone into a child.” Unquote. They began to develop the idea, that some people think originated from our lifetime, that there was something wrong with the training of the child and that was why he went astray, and the family was to blame. But that goes back a hundred and fifty years. Everything was viewed as a social condition, not as a personal problem, not as sin. The problem was always viewed after 1830 by the educators and the sociologists and others as due to the environment not as sin. To look at the problem in the words of Walter Channing who was the brother of the leading Unitarian, William Ellery Channing, wrote and I quote: “Society itself (and Channing capitalized every letter of those words) is here I look for the great and whole source of the whole misery of the social state.” Society and the family had become the source of sin and the state was now the savior. Now that took place during the reign of Andrew Jackson and where were the churches? They had retreated into their walls. They had become married priests, monks and nuns. [00:28:21]
In fact they were buying this argument...
In fact they were buying this argument. For example, the Reverend James B. Finley who was a chaplain in those days at the Ohio Penitentiary and confessed to believe the Bible from cover to cover, had professed to hold an evangelistic faith and zeal, said and I quote: “Never, no never shall we see the triumph of peace, of right, of Christianity until the day that the habits of mankind undergo a full revolution.” Well what would that revolution be like? Well, he said, what we’re doing in the prisons we need to do to all society. Can you imagine a man who professes to believe the Bible from cover to cover and is an evangelist making a statement like that? This is what he said and I’m reading just a portion of the horror of his remarks: “Could we all be put on prison fare for the space of two or three generations, the world would ultimately be the better for it and should society change places with the prisoners, as far as habits are concerned, taking account the regularity, and temperance, and sobriety of a good prison, then all worthy goals would be attained. As it is, taking this world and the next together, the prison has the advantage.” The prison with its total regulation of man, total control, he said is better than life and freedom here, or even life in heaven. And if we could only put all men in prison for two or three generations we would attain paradise. Where in the world did he find that in the Bible? But this is the kind of thing that he preached. [00:30:54]
What this meant was that even these people who profess...
What this meant was that even these people who profess to believe the Bible from cover to cover have replaced the Holy Spirit and being born again as the way to regenerate man and society with the power of a prison state. The power of God and his salvation was replaced by the supposedly saving power of the police state. Jesus Christ was reduced to someone who speaks to the individual soul concerning heaven but is not the blessed and only potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And that’s the kind of church life and preaching for the most part that we’ve had since then. It does not confront the problems of the day and it does not say the solution is in Jesus Christ and in the infallible Word of God for their day to day social problems. Man in and out in the church has since then looked to the state, not towards the savior. Why did this change? The Christian state has been replaced by the state; the Christian community has been replaced by the state as the divisive and regenerating force in the life of man. Statist coercion has replaced the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of man. To see what that leads to, look to the Soviet Union. The Jacksonian revolution coincided with the rise of Armenian revivalism, the revivalist outlook was hostile to Christian schools, it was hostile to all the work for the poor, and it was hostile to the establishment of hospitals. Concentrate on saving souls, they said. It held and we still hear it said that it’s better for a child never to go to a Christian school, to know himself to be outside of Christ in order to be saved at the Revival meeting. [00:33:40]
I recall the gleeful caricature and damnation of the...
I recall the gleeful caricature and damnation of the older puritan view at a pastoral conference a few years ago where the man said the older system was: baptize, capsize, and catechize. Well at least it worked. It didn’t produce the kind of culture we have today. But every time this evangelist mentions these three things, baptize, capsize and catechize, it drew gales of laughter from the pastors at that conference. Pietism called for a retreat from the world into the soul, abandoning the responsibilities of community life for a retreat into private devotion. The high point of the Christian life was a complete spiritual retreat and a disavowal of worldly concern. Pietistic churches became convents for withdrawals from the world and they had less relevance very often, and still do, to the world around them then medieval monks and nuns sometimes to their world. As a result the cornerstone of the godly community dissipated. A friend who was a very good supporter of our work, a doctor at the other end of the country, went to a church where he felt proud of because, he said, they do in this community preach scripture faithfully, not as well thought as I’d like but still more or less faithfully. And one day, and this was a church in the older part of the community (his own house was built in 1780) and the church goes far back in American history and it’s a beautiful old church, stone church, and the family going back to the colonial era had an important part in the life of the community and the building of the church. And the stained glass windows in the church commemorated various members of that family which was now reduced to one woman, retired school teacher, living in the lovely old family estate on her pension which now was resulting in malnutrition for her because it did not go very far. [00:37:59]
And when this doctor realized this lovely elderly Christian...
And when this doctor realized this lovely elderly Christian woman was suffering from malnutrition and this was a problem, he immediately went to the church and the officers and told them the problem. And he said I believe that we as Christians must help her, and I’m ready to pledge a hundred dollars a month and more, but we have to do it, she is our responsibility and we’re all deeply indebted to her and her family to what they have been to this community. A month later he had heard no word and when he saw one of the church officers on the street he stopped to ask him about it and the man immediately interrupted and said ‘nothing to worry about, we met with her, took some application forms with us and persuaded her to fill out a form applying for welfare’. And George told me, “I have never set foot in that church from day to this, nor will I.” Our Lord calls upon Christians to be the salt of the earth, that is, the agency that preserves it from corruption, because salt was how you preserved and kept things in those days, and to be the light of the world, for without light we are lost. Too many today try to dilute the force of our Lords work by turning salt into no more than a flavoring agent. I’ve heard pastors insist on that. But salt was the preserving agent and what our Lord was saying was that because men are sinners, without you the world will be hell on earth, because it will take its natural course. And the fall will develop and all its implications and that’s what you see all over Los Angeles today, the fall and its implications developing and creating an ever broadening hell. [00:39:45]
But our Lords meaning is clear, Ye are the salt of...
But our Lords meaning is clear, Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, your good works! And glorify your Father in Heaven. Isn’t it time for the church to come out from under the bushel? It’s been there for a century and a half and there is no holiness in hiding, nor in retreat. Thanks be to God the church is emerging from the bushel basket. We’ve seen the Christian school movement and a non-Christian told me today they number thirty five percent of the school population together with homeschoolers. We are seeing Christian ministries to the poor, to the drug addicts, to prisoners, to the needy, and to many, many other areas. But we must still say there are many, many Christians around us who are still under the bushel basket. Wherefore he saith, awake thou that sleepeth, and arise from dead and Christ shall give thee life. Thank you.
[Rushdoony] The first question will be easy to answer quickly: what is the source of the information by David J. Rothman? If you have your pencil ready, I’ll give you the title of the book. David J. Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum: Social Order and Disorder in the New Republic. This was published in 1971 and the publisher was Little Brown and Co. [00:43:00]
(Question from Audience) The second question: how can a family raise four foster children when they legally cannot be spanked?
(Rushdoony) Well that is a very serious problem and in fact, in many areas if you are a Christian you cannot even get foster children to your home. I know one very fine young couple with a lovely home who could not have children, wanted to have foster children. The waiting list for an adopted child was so immense that there was no reasonable chance. And the social worker who came asked a number of questions and then when they found the results subsequently, they learned they had been rejected on the grounds of their hot water heater being too high and it would scald the child. So they went to the welfare office and they said ‘that’s not a problem, we can set the temperature at whatever you require’ and the social worker looked at them and said ‘there is no way you’re ever going to get a child’ and made it clear it was because of their faith. It is a problem, if you can get one and within the limitations of the law do what you can, fine. But it isn’t spanking primarily that’s going to make a difference. It’s Christian faith. So if you can instill some kind of Christian faith in the child, make the child understand that what you have done is wrong because God says so and you declare it to be punishable, but because the State doesn’t permit me to, you are the loser unless you recognize under God that you’ve done wrong and are ready to make amends. And ultimately that’s the only solution. [00:45:50]
(Question from Audience) This question: could you please comment on the conspiratorial view of history, that a powerful few have conspired together to impose this system on America.
(Rushdoony) Well, there have always been conspiracies in history and conspiracies cannot change the course of history unless the conspiracy meets with a response in the human heart. During the presidencies of Washington and Adam a very high percentage of Americans, or people in the United States, were actual foreign agents dedicated to revolution and with all kinds of money at their disposal. But it never succeeded although the French Revolutionary leaders wanted to overthrow our country and to make this country a part of the revolutionary war. It didn’t work because there was faith, a faith that made it impossible for them to accept the premises of the Jacobin Revolution. If you and I today had billions upon billions of dollars and we’d tried to turn this country into a monarchy we’d fail because it wouldn’t be in tune with the times. When conspiracies succeed they only succeed because it is what the people want. I’m reminded of the French revolutionary leader who was in a bar and saw a mob going down the street and he hurriedly said: “there goes the mob, I am their leader, I must catch up with them.” [General Laughter] So, the conspiracies are real but they do not determine history, it’s the sin of man. [00:47:59]
(Rushdoony) And you’re not going to change anything by concentrating on conspiracies. Only by providing the remedy you can expose evil morning noon and night and if people are indifferent to evil because they themselves are evil, what difference would it make? What difference. We are drifting into closer and closer ties with the Soviet Union and to a virtual alliance. We have provided them with more aid than any other nation in the world, and we are keeping them alive. This is because everything about politics, everything in the life of our people makes us more and more congenial to that. How are you going to change that? You’re going to change that when you change the people. They are the problem, not the conspirators. If you could eliminate all the conspirators the situation wouldn’t be much different because most people want a powerful state to take care of every problem. In fact, a recent poll found that a very large number of American people believe that the sentence: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, which is from the Communist Manifesto is a little quote from the U.S. Constitution, and if it wasn’t there if you told them so then they would say it should have been. So what are you going to do with that mentality? Education is not alone the answer. It has to be a conversion. [00:50:08]
(Question from Audience) This one: The historian Masan Weems is considered by many to romanticize the inaccurate accounts of Washington’s life. Is this true?
Well there are a few incidents in Weems that we have no source for than Weems himself. So we don’t know how true they are. HE does moralize endlessly; he was an Episcopal pastor and a book seller who wrote this Life of Washington to show his high respect for Washington, who he did know to a degree personally. So it has been heavily criticized by historians because long pages are really preaching rather than history but a good deal of it is probably good history and some of it may have been stories that didn’t have as good a historical background. [00:51:39]
(Question from Audience) I have quoted your figure of thirty five percent of school children in Christian and home schools and have been challenged as to its validity. Where are you getting that number?
(Rushdoony) Well that number was given to me by Bill Moyer. I was giving my estimate which was lower but he said: “no I have been authoritatively told that it is thirty five percent.” Well, the fact is that no one knows clearly how many they are but we do know this, first, the figures with regard to state school enrollment are inflated. To remember about ten years ago the episode here in Los Angeles where The Herald Examiner exposed the fact that there were two teachers that came in and blew the whistles on their schools saying there were non-existent pupils on the roles who they had to record as present every day because the schools wanted the money. What developed was that nothing was really done. There’s nothing on the books that makes that illegal and its being done across country I am told by people as I travel. Well with that kind of thing going on, you know the public school figures cannot be trusted. Well, the figures that are released by the federal government for the Christian school enrollment in 1980 were approximately eleven percent. However, that eleven percent is only of the schools that are registered with the state. In other words, Catholic parochial schools, Christian Reformed, some Seventh Day Adventist and the Lutheran schools primarily, those that will comply with state regulations. But most Christian schools don’t and increasingly the Christian school population is in the school that will not submit itself to state control. So, there are probably two in such schools to one in these other schools. With that I’ve had the figure of about thirty percent, but Bill Moyer said thirty five. But we do know also is this, just since 1980 there has been a tremendous explosion in homeschools and Christian schools. That several new schools are established every day, that for example in a state like Texas, in the beginning of the decade only a handful of parents homeschooled. Now they have regional conventions that fill auditoriums. [00:55:14]
(Rushdoony) And this is happening in state after state, so quite a large number of children are being homeschooled. We know, for example, in this state when our educational secretary, what is his name…Honig, an easy man to forget. [General Laughter] He not only took office then he issued a regulation against all homeschoolers after having been elected by the votes of conservatives. But he immediately found that there were so many protests, between a hundred and five and a hundred and ten thousand homeschooling parents that he backtracked and said that it was not his doing, but that of an overzealous associate. Well now let’s say there are only two in each of these homeschools as of 1980 or 81. That still gives you a couple of hundred thousand and it could be as much as three or four hundred thousand children in homeschools in California. Add that up across the country and it’s a considerable amount, and it’s growing all the time. So we have to say that while we don’t know with any certainty, the figure of thirty or thirty five percent does seem reasonable. [00:57:25]
(Question from Audience) What would you regard as the most comprehensive or informatively documented resources for these principles of Christian community in the history of our nation?
(Rushdoony) Well I’m going to pass that one out because I would have to start thinking of a number of books and then be very distressed later because I hadn’t thought of some key ones. Some good literature is coming out now and not necessarily by people on our side, David Rothman’s book is a very important one and there are many, many more like that, more than I can begin to recall at the moment. [00:58:12]
Child care for young children has reached a crisis...
Child care for young children has reached a crisis situation in America today, young children are terribly abused. How can the Christian community answer this need? Well, by having child care facilities. About three weeks ago I was in a federal court in Sacramento, a trial of a childcare center at a Baptist church, the pastor’s (royal blue and Redding?) California. And this is a case that is going to the Supreme Court. I was the first witness and I was on the stand for well over two hours. More and more churches across the country are establishing child care facilities. For example, the running church at first was against working mothers very strongly anti-divorce but they soon found they had a lot of mothers who had divorces because of some problems in the family. They found also that a lot of young mothers and even fathers had been deserted and they had children to care for and they needed a child care facility, so they got into the act. And had a large number (a number of three hundred vaguely comes to mind but I may be wrong because I’ve been in several such cases) and so they’re meeting a need there and more and more churches are. This will be fought in the courts and it will be appealed again and again, year in and year out, so it’s a long term battle. This is one area. Others, for example, many of you know, do you not and how many of you don’t, of the Roloff’s home, yes, a fair number of you. They are trying to deal with delinquent boys and girls, I visited them and spoke to them and these are increasing. There are probably a hundred such homes and they have from the handful to a few thousand children. Their number is increasing. So there are increasing ministries in this area. Then there are all kinds of missions to children on the streets. Here in Los Angeles, Rosie Greer for example, does outstanding work among the street children and is doing a thoroughly dedicated job and she is one of countless numbers, countless numbers. So, Christians are moving in this area and we’re not hearing much about it, but what is happening is both dramatic and truly exciting because the church is waking up. [01:01:46]
(Question from Audience) What is your source of documentation for the shift from community to state beginning with the Andrew Jackson era?
(Rushdoony) Well I cited the one book but there are a number of others, for example, in my Messianic Character of American Education I point out that that is when Horseman and James G. Carter began the state control of education and a variety of books have dealt with this subject. But if you want a good deal of it, except for the educational, in one volume, Rothman is your best book, or the school side, then my Messianic Character of American Education. [01:02:33]
(Question from Audience) Another question, should individual congregations be the hub of community or a combination of them based in one locality.
(Rushdoony) Well, it’s not a question of either-or but what the church can do. About two or three years ago I was in Washington, one very, very liberal senator expressed his contempt for the Christian right and what they were demanding and he said: “If the church wants to do something about the problem of welfare and the poor, it’s very simple.” And he said: “According to my staff if every church and synagogue in the United States could carry one family then there would be no welfare population.” Well I think that was a little longer than three years ago but I know the same data was available through one of his aides to President Reagan and in Boston he threw that out as a suggestion to the churches, you may recall it because it was a front page story: ‘Reagan says churches should get into the act’. And immediately the churches protested, saying it was an impossible idea which is bad, very bad. But the fact is many churches are beginning to get into this, some working together with other churches to do something in their community, others alone and sometimes some individuals. I brought some copies of some of our older single sheet reports and you will find them in the back room and one of them is on the Kingsford California Community Action program. It’s about how one woman when she got converted about eight or nine years ago wanted to know what a Christian was supposed to do, and when she was told ‘well you’re supposed to come to church and prayer meeting and the women’s meeting and pray and read your bible’ then she said ‘but what more?’ They didn’t have any answers so she read the Bible from cover to cover and decided the Lord has a lot to say about the poor. [01:05:11]
Maybe I should do something, so she’s taking care of...
Maybe I should do something, so she’s taking care of all the poor in the Kingsford area. She tried but she couldn’t get the churches there, they failed there. She’s also working in Fresno and Kingsford, and is now engaged in a housing project for them and has gotten some contractors to donate their services. That’s one woman! A lot of remarkable things are happening across the country that you don’t hear about. [01:05:56]
(Question from Audience) Would you please briefly discuss the Armenian revival to which you referred? Its causes, theology, outcome. [Laughter]
(Rushdoony) Well, if you’re ready to stay until Christmas I can answer that, but that revival began around 1820, the most prominent figure in that revival who came a bit later was Finney and if you want to read a good account of the effects of what Finney did, read Warfield’s book Perfectionism. Its weakness was that it didn’t have much theology. Finney never could explain what Christ’s atonement was really about. But what he was preaching was that you needed to have a conversion experience, a revivalistic one, and it had to be highly emotional. Moreover, he did believe in community action through the state and he became a leader and really the fountain head of the social gospel. So that revivalism was one the main sources if not the main source of the social gospel, because it felt that the church should be relived of all these tasks, of Christian schools and charities and taking care of people and the state should do these things, and it worked to further that. [01:07:49]
(Question from Audience) What grew, started the pietistic movement?
(Rushdoony) Well the pietistic movement began late in the Middle Ages when people felt the answer to the problems of the day, because it was time of growing tyranny, tyranny in the state and corruption in the church, was a spiritual revival, only a spiritual revival to them meant long prayer meetings and retreats and pilgrimages and so on. And as a result it was sterile, it accomplished very little. You can see a great deal of that in the Catholic Church or you can recall some of it, it’s disappearing now, in groups like the Sacred Heart of Jesus movement. Well, it began in Protestantism in the eighteenth century and again it depreciated bible study and the doctrine in favor of experience, in favor of emotions, in favor of experiential religion, to put it in a nutshell. And one of the things pietism did, in this country in particular, because we have to realize that the United States was a very masculine country from its earliest days up until World War Two, because it was a frontier and it required hard work on the part of men, they were facing a world around them that was not tamed and as a result it was very masculine in its character. But meanwhile the churches were going into a gushy kind of churchianity, very gushy. So men began to leave the church after about 1820 in great numbers or if they came they would sit there because their wives made them go to church. And churches became the women’s province; it was a place for a woman and children. And indeed, the affect was such that it led to the feminization, really, of the clergy. They weren’t dealing with men, they were dealing with women. So they would actually speak in times of the three sexes, men, women and preachers. Well I’m glad that’s not as true as it once was, although now and again I’m afraid maybe we’re in for a dose of that when I see one evangelist on television who is always crying. Full of tears and ready to gush so readily. But it was that kind of gushy pietism, emotional, that drove the men out and only in our day is we beginning men take an interest again in the faith. [01:11:29]
(Question from Audience) Then, this one: given the impotent nature of the church, where do we begin to restore the church to a responsible and influential role in the local community?
(Rushdoony) Well one way to do it is to begin in your own congregation however small or great. How many people are there in the congregation that are elderly, who can’t do their own shopping or need someone to come in, maybe because the wife being elderly and bed ridden for the time needs care, or how many working mothers are there? Look at the needs of your congregation, family by family; assess them, than begin to minister to them. That’s a good place to start. Be members one of another. How many are there in the church family? With thanksgiving are not included in a family thanksgiving dinner? Things like that, not that’s the kind of thing that’s not being done and the effects are very pungent. One very young church which started less than ten years ago began very early with one simple thing, they said we’re going to take an offering regularly to create a loan fund in this church, interest free. And anyone who has a special need, the deacons are to determine whether the money is to be lent to him; nothing is to be said about it. If conditions make it impossible for them to return, then it will be forgotten, it’s not going to be publicized to the congregation that they even have a loan. Well it has done wonders in that congregation. Of course you are going to have a few problems, but the fund has grown, many have as young couples who were in trouble and needed money in an emergency have fed the kitty considerably as they prospered. Hence one of a dozen things that churches are doing and which can help in relevance. And what happens is that when they start doing these things they begin to see needs in their community and then they are thinking of things that no one has ever thought of before. [01:14:26]
(Question from Audience) What does occupy till I come mean?
(Rushdoony) Well since our Lord is priest, prophet and king we as priests, prophets and kings in him have a duty to bring all things in captivity to Christ. Every area of life and thought and that’s what occupying means. And we have a duty to occupy. We cannot leave any area of life to the enemies of Christ, because He is the King who made the world and He is its only true Lord.
(Question from Audience) And the last question is: Please define Christian Reconstruction- and that’s what it’s about.
(Rushdoony) Just affirming in faith and life the word of God and indeed, the lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of life and thought, and I believe this is what the church now is beginning to do. So while I see very difficult days ahead and I’m in court often enough to know how grim the battle is getting, and how intense the hatred, and I see a file that thick on the state or federal attorneys desk with my name on it. And I know they mean business, they are humanists, they don’t like Christianity, and they want to destroy it. And they’re moving against us with intensity right now precisely because they see the church coming alive and they’re scared to death of it, they really are. And we don’t appreciate our own power. If God be for us, who can be against us? [01:16:49]