The Problem of Guilt and Restitution - RR145B4
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[Dr. Rushdoony] We’re discussing the doctrine of the atonement and its implications for all of life. And what I intend to do this morning is to add, as it were, bits and pieces to what was said last night. I pointed out that the doctrine of the atonement is an inescapable doctrine. In fact, everything that Scripture sets forth is inescapable. No man can walk around what Scripture teaches. He has to have an infallible word somewhere. If he rejects God’s infallible Word, he is going to establish his, or Caesar’s word as infallible. If he rejects the atonement that God provides in Jesus Christ, he will seek to make atonement himself. What Scripture says, cannot be set aside. The Word of God cannot be broken. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. Man cannot set that aside. Now bear that in mind. I’m going to discuss very quickly a number of things about the contemporary scene, and what men are trying to do today with the problem of guilt, and then we will come back to it.
Men cannot escape the fact of guilt. They prefer not to talk about sin, but guilt haunts them. And as a result, modern man tries hard to cope with that problem in some way to neutralize the fact of the burden of guilt he bears. And one of the consequences is that ours is an age of psychology. Man has become a problem to himself. Do you know what the most popular kind of book today with the clergy is and has been since World War Two? Psychology. Psychology. And a great deal of preaching from the pulpit is really humanistic psychology parading as Scripture. [00:03:15]
The reason is that pastors are continually confronted...
The reason is that pastors are continually confronted with people who have a burden of guilt. And so psychological man is with us. Man who is absorbed with himself, absorbed with his problems, and who wants the pulpit, and the television, and everything to minister to that problem inside of him, to sooth his feelings, to lull his sense of guilt, somehow to make the pain of sin, which is guilt, depart from him. And it will not. But at the same time we cannot understand modern politics apart from the fact of guilt. Guilt makes men weak. Blackmailers use guilt. If they have something on someone, they blackmail him.
On the plane I was reading about something’s to do with the politics of the fifties. Very, very important investigation that was begun by Congress, and was terminated. Now for the first time, the truth has been published, when the Congressman, who was the chairman of the committee, was long since dead. The man who was the investigating council for the committee is a friend; he is on our mailing list, so I knew something of what had happened. The chairman was a guilty man. His guilt was known to the powers that be in Washington. And they had been very good to him, he thought they had suppressed the entire incident, but they controlled him with it. It was like a chain, allowing him to go so far and no further. Guilt is power over men.
And guilt is used continually over the American public. The American public, because it is by and large godless, and by and large, even though it may be sitting in the pews, does not understand the doctrine of the atonement, is made to feel guilty. How often at Thanksgiving do you see a cartoon on the editorial page, showing something like this, an American family sitting around a well laden table, eating heavily, and in the shadows like ghosts around them, are hungry and starving people. And how many preachers are there who do not use that kind of thinking to make people feel guilty. You can control guilty people.
I knew a Pentecostal pastor some years ago; all of whose preaching added up to one thing. To have the people walking out of the church saying, I am a miserable sinner.
Now if you can make people feel continually what terrible sinners they are, they are going to be easily controlled, easily led financially, and easily led this way and that. [00:08:04]
Guilt makes us weak...
Guilt makes us weak. Guilt turns our eyes on the past. I mentioned a little thing that’s common to most people, when I was speaking yesterday, how if we make a blunder, when we go to bed that night we kind of rehearse the incident and wish we could replay, have an instant replay, and retake on that episode. What happens when we have made a mistake, we’re past bound. When we are guilty we even more past bound. And a people who do not have the freedom that the atonement gives, are going to be past bound instead of present and future oriented. And the result is deadly. A past bound people is endlessly tormenting itself about the mistakes it has made.
I went to school with one of the most swash-buckling figures I’ve ever met; he was a kind of Errol Flynn character. He was a devil may care, reckless and wild character. It was the depression years, but I never knew anything about his family, I could assume there was a great deal of money there. He could do things; he could afford things that no one else could. Nothing seemed to make him afraid. He volunteered, when the war broke out, for the Air Force, but they rejected him, he was an accomplished flyer. I was amazed at that and I learned from a military man, everyone knew about Buck, he was quite a flamboyant and sensation character those days, in the west. He said the trouble is, Buck has no sense of fear and that makes him dangerous. He can crack up a plane that costs millions of dollars, and walk away from it laughing. And we want men who are afraid, because they will be careful. But Buck fell in love with, then married, a shrewd unlovely girl, an innocent girl, but a calculating girl. And she knew that Buck had a wild past. And she played her innocence for all it was worth. She milked it. And Buck, from day one, felt guilty around her. As he had every reason to. And as he had every reason to feel before God. I never in all my life encountered a more hen-pecked husband. Guilt had broken him. As guilt will every man, sooner or later. [00:12:01]
Guilty men are powerless men...
Guilty men are powerless men. And so the politics of guilt and pity, and I have a book on that subject, works to make the people feel guilty in relationship to blacks, to Indians, to all the hungry peoples of the world. Endlessly to feel guilty, because a guilty people are a powerless, a controlled people. And we have had in this century, all kinds of things written to try to deal with the problem of guilt. We’ve had men who’ve recognized that guilt is indeed a force that weakens you. And so they’ve addressed themselves to the problem. Two men who did, both pornographers, recognized that guilt was a power that powerful men in State used. Frank Harris, who in the era from the nineties to about nineteen twenty, was one of the more powerful journalists in England, and a member of Parliament, and an editor of various publications, and on the side a pornographer, wrote a very serious study on one occasion. The title of it is very interesting. The Crucifixion of the Guilty. The Crucifixion of the Guilty. And he spoke about how guilt crucifies a man. And then because a man is under the burden of guilt, the powers of this world use that guilt to crucify him further and to keep him riveted to the cross. And so he called for the freedom of the crucified. Interesting isn’t it, that he used that imagery. One of his very young followers, some years later, was Henry Miller, who said: “I have a way of freedom, flaunt your guilt. Then they can’t use it against you.” But that did not work either.
And so men have sought to escape from the problem of guilt in our day in a variety of ways. The drug culture. Aldous Huxley, when he wrote his Brave New World, back in the twenties, said that men of the future would be controlled and would be freed from guilt to produce a perfect society, because it would be kept continually drugged. [00:15:48]
The drug he invented, called in his story, was soma...
The drug he invented, called in his story, was soma. People will pop soma from morning to night and they will be able to function, supposedly. Because guilt will be silenced. But it didn’t work that way. Men did work in terms of exactly the kind of thinking that Huxley had in mind, to produce drugs, tranquilizers, to deal with the problem of guilt. But it did not make the problem go away. It did not solve any of the problems. The tranquilizers came out after World War Two. And one of the saddest, and yet funniest, experiences I had as a pastor, concerned drugs, tranquilizers in those days. And it showed the impotence of drugs to deal with the problem of guilt.
There was this young veteran, a very, very handsome young Irishman who came out of the service, and he got a job as a milkman in a fine residential area, and Jack was a very handsome and dashing character. And in no time at all, he was delivering more than milk on his route. And he was delivering it at a good many stops. And what was happening was, was these young women were saying, oh Jack, you’re not going to ask me to pay my milk bill, are you? And in no time at all, he had a huge amount of uncollected bills accumulating. [00:18:09]
And the manager demanded that he do something about...
And the manager demanded that he do something about it, or they were going to send someone out there with him to demand payment. And Jack, whose guilt was increasing all the time, and he was having problems with his wife, lost all sense of reality. One day he was John the Baptist, another day he was Napoleon and so on. And so they took him to the doctor, and his wife thought maybe a pastor would help, so she had heard about me, and she came to me with him. And by this time, certain things were developing. Jack found that when he took the tranquilizers, it at least brought him partially back to his right mind, but when he was in his right mind, he knew he had all those bills to collect. And too many women to take care of. And he didn’t want the tranquilizers, he preferred to be out of his mind. And there was no solution for him, except in Christ, and that was the one answer he did not want. So he went from bad to worse. Guilt destroying him step by step. But the drug culture has failed. It does not help men escape from the problem of guilt. And more and more drugs then become the answer, and they go from tranquilizers, very often, to hard drugs. Which will keep them in a permanent euphoria, and away from reality. Because at least the tranquilizers would force them to face their problems. And the result is, we have a drug culture now. We have a high rate of alcoholism, we have on all sides the attempts to escape from reality. But you recall, when we were dealing with the fact of the atonement, we saw that man has two ways out, in self-atonement. Sadism, or masochism. And while some may be more sadistic, and other more masochistic, sado-masochism marks every unbeliever. Sado-masochism marks every unbeliever. Well it is interesting that after World War Two and there bout’s, a number of psycho-analysis’s, psychologists and psychiatrists began to deal with the problem of sado-masochism, and they’ve more or less abandoned it since. The implications they did not like. [00:21:47]
After all, what sado-masochism points to is, that man...
After all, what sado-masochism points to is, that man requires atonement. And his self-atonement, sadism and masochism, is fearfully destructive. Samuel Warner, in his book, The Urge To Mass Destruction, a frightening book, which the whole psychiatric and psychological community did not like, and with good reason. Warner himself did nothing to follow through with what he had developed in his book. Because what he said was, and let’s put it in Christian terms, in Biblical terms, that man needs atonement. And he’s going to shed blood for it. And a world without Christ, is a sado-masochistic world that has an urge to mass destruction. It is going to create a world-wide bath of blood, as it seeks to lay guilt on someone, to shed blood, to do away with guilt. It’s an interesting fact that we are in the age of total war-fare. Total war-fare. And it is a further fact of interest that during our wars, mental health improves. There’re fewer mental problems, because the sado-masochistic urges of men are, for a moment, somewhat gratified. They’re going to lay all the sins on the Japanese, or on the Germans, or on the Americans, or on the French, or on the Russians or on somebody. Each is preparing all their sins on someone, and shed blood. What I’m saying is, when the Bible says without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, it means exactly what is says. And it’s either Christ’s blood which is shed, or the blemished sacrifices of humankind, which avail nothing. Which destroy the world. But the blood will be shed. [00:24:48]
And so, unless we bring men, women and children back...
And so, unless we bring men, women and children back to the knowledge of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we are going to see wars that will make World War Two and World War One, look small by comparison. Because blood will be shed as man seeks for remission of sins. The Word of God cannot be broken.
Are there any questions now, before we continue?
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. A great deal of politics today is geared to making one feel guilty, in order to control us. We are asked to feel guilty for so many hundred years of mistreatments, say of blacks. Or of Indians. Or of people half-way around the world whom we didn’t know anything about. It’s a very common tactic.
Any other questions or comments?
You see what I’m trying to do in these things is to make you see the relevance of Scripture to everyday life.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. They are offering their own humanistic versions of atonement.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. And all their plans for world brotherhood and so on, only aggravate the problem, and lead to the mass destruction that Warner talked about.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. If you want world peace, preach the atonement. Nothing else will bring peace about, for man as an individual, man in society. Nothing else. And as long as men do not have the atonement, they will be at war with God, first of all, at war with their neighbor, and at war with themselves. And they will create a world of total war. [00:29:19]
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. Terrill Elniff has written a book on Puritan theology, The Guise of Every Graceless Heart. And it is being prepared by Dave Thoburn for publication and our publishing arm, Ross House Books will bring it out. And it’s a remarkable work that Elniff has done, because what he has shown there, is the extent to which the Puritans, or some of them, had come to virtually the same position as Van Til. That a man’s thinking is governed by his presuppositions. And if the presuppositions are those of a sinful man, then the consequences will be in terms of that. But if we begin with the presupposition of Jesus Christ and His absolute Word, then indeed we strip ourselves of all guises of every graceless heart. And we live in terms of His freedom, His peace. It’s a very, very important book because, well, the Puritans sometimes were very wordy. And what Elniff has done is to get the heart of some of their thinking in key areas. It will be an extremely important book.
Do you want to add to that, Bob?
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. Yes very emphatically, that was characteristic of them. [00:32:14]
Well, let’s continue with two other areas...
Well, let’s continue with two other areas. Now in Romans thirteen, Paul tells us, verses eight through ten. Romans 13:8-10
Now we too often have misunderstood the meaning of the word fulfill, and it has tended to change its meaning. It does not mean, put to an end, it means put into force. So when we are told Love is the fulfilling of the Law, it means putting the Law into force. So that we love our neighbor when we respect the sanctity of his home, we do not commit adultery, when we do not take his life, nor his property, nor bear false witness concerning him, nor covet or attempt to seize by fraud that which is his. Love puts the Law into force. And to say that we love our neighbor when we do ill to him, is to lie, it is to bear false witness. I have on occasion heard an adulterous man or woman say, in defense of themselves and trying to make some kind of extenuating circumstance, concerning their husband or wife, but I love her, or, I love him. And what I’ve always felt, in terms of Scripture I had to tell them, was that they did not. The Scriptures says Love is the fulfilling of the Law. That Paul tells us it means thou shalt not commit adultery. And how can you say you love your husband or your wife, and commit adultery? They do not go together. [00:35:13]
Love puts the Law into force...
Love puts the Law into force. And because I love my wife and because I love God, I’m not only faithful, but it is a joy to be faithful. It isn’t a burden to me to keep the Law, anything else is repulsive. And I believe all of you could say the same. That’s the way our life is in Christ. The Law is no longer a hand-writing of ordinances against us, that is, a bill of indictment. We are dead to the Law as an indictment, a death sentence. We are alive to it now as the righteousness of God, as our way of life. So that now, thou shalt not commit adultery, nor steal nor kill nor bear false witness and so on, is no longer a burden and a thing that, well, I wish I could get around that, if I dared maybe I would, but, no. This is our way of life and we echo what our Lord says: “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.”
So that Love is the fulfilling of the Law. Now in terms of this, it is important for us to understand what forgiveness is. The word forgiveness, has a juridical frame of reference in both the Old and the New Testaments, that is, it’s a legal term. It belongs to the court of law, God’s court. It means charges dropped because satisfaction has been rendered. And who renders the satisfaction? Jesus Christ. If can mean, in special occasions, charges deferred for the time being, and it is used in that sense once in Scripture, when our Lord from the cross, looking at the Roman soldiers, says, Father, forgive them, defer the charges for the time being, for they know not what they do. Forgiveness is not an emotional thing. It is not something we give because we’re tired of somebody nagging us and saying, I’m sorry, I’m sorry for what I did. Okay, okay I forgive you, forget it. No. it is something that God alone can lay down the rules concerning, because it has reference to His Law. [00:38:27]
Now, God provides the laws concerning forgiveness,...
Now, God provides the laws concerning forgiveness, in Scripture. Forgiveness in relationship to Himself requires the restitution that Jesus Christ makes with His blood. He pays the death penalty for us. And we die in Him, and are forgiven by His sovereign grace. But our sins often, and commonly, have a man-ward side. And there too restitution must be made. And so it is that Scripture does speak about restitution. One of the passages which has a great deal to say about restitution and lays down the general rules concerning it is Exodus twenty-two. Let’s read just a few verses of Exodus 22.
“ 1If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
2If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
3If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double.
5If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man's field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution.
6If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.”
And so on. We have more and more illustrations of this principle of restitution. Restitution has to be God-ward. This is rendered by Jesus Christ. It has to be man-ward, and this is rendered by us. Then there is forgiveness. The restitution has to be at least double. If we steal a hundred dollars, we are to restore a hundred plus a hundred. If we steal a sheep, if we’re caught before we get off the premises, we restore double. If we get away, and then are caught, depending on the theft, it can be four-fold or five-fold. For an ox, it was five-fold. Because an ox was valuable for its hide, it was valuable for its meat, and it was very valuable as a beast of burden, as something to haul freight, and as something to plow with. Oxen were used, you know, very heavily in this country. In the early days they were remarkably strong animals. They were very slow. On the westward trek, covered wagon days, the oxen could only go twelve miles in a day. But they could carry several times what a horse could. And they could break up virgin soil and rocky soil, with a plow, in a way that no horse could. So, the Bible requires a five-fold restitution for oxen. [00:43:07]
For sheep, which were valuable for their wool, and...
For sheep, which were valuable for their wool, and for their meat, for breeding purposes of course, it was four-fold. Restitution thus was God’s appointed way. Every sin had to be atoned for. If a murder, you remember in the law, was found between two towns, and the murderer was not caught, the town nearest to the murder, the point where he was found, had to make restitution to his family, had to have a service making restitution to God, begging His mercy for that offense. God requires, in His Word, that every offense against Him and against man, lead to restitution. To restoration, because His order must be restored. Moreover, if a criminal could not make restitution, he was to be sold as a bondservant, until he worked it out. There was no prison system in the Bible. There were only jails where someone was held in custody pending a trial. At which time he was either executed, if he were an incorrigible criminal repeater, or he was compelled to pay or sold into bond service. Incidentally, it was only a few years ago that the last State law requiring the execution of habitual criminals, was struck down. When I was a boy it was a common thing for a third or fourth offender to be executed. It was mandatory, depending on the state, whether it was the third or the fourth time. So shall ye put iniquity out of the land, Scripture says. When you had that kind of law, you could not develop a professional criminal class. You eliminated them. You kept bringing back God’s order. And the result was that society was, by and large, much more stable. The absence of a prison system was a tremendous asset also, in that it did not lead to a punishment of the innocent. You and I today are punished by the prison system. We pay the taxes to support those people. And more and more of the modern prisons are showplaces. We give them visitation right with a girlfriend or with their wife. We take them on trips as a part of their rehabilitation. Now most people don’t know this, but this has been spreading across the country. We have some old-fashioned prisons in California, but we have some also where they have tennis-courts, game rooms, T.V. in their cells, and so on, and regularly, they’re flown to Catalina Island for a rehabilitation rest. [00:00:47]
I would like some day, if I could afford it, to go...
I would like some day, if I could afford it, to go to Catalina Island with my wife, but I can’t afford it, I’m supporting too many prisoners in California prisons, and therefore cannot go myself.
By abandoning restitution, we have brought God’s curse upon ourselves. And we have a society today that is suffering, that is accursed, because the criminal today is not punished as God requires that he punished, with death or restitution. However, we are beginning to see signs of a change. In North Carolina, one of our Chalcedon friends was able, while District Attorney at the State Capital, to get through a revision of the criminal code, which gave permission to judges to sentence a man to restitution. He was subsequently named Judge, and as a judge, he is sentencing criminals to restitution, and making it work. It’s Judge Paul Mitchell Right, in North Carolina. One of the top judges in Georgia, Dean is his name, who is a very fine Christian and also on our mailing lists, has now found a legislator who is ready to introduce the alternative of restitution, to give judges that option, into the state legislator.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes, I’m aware of that type of restitution, that’s very common in, I think, just about every state. But this is not what Paul Mitchell Right has instituted, and it’s not what Judge Dean, who’s Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, wants. And it is not what is being done elsewhere. Let me illustrate.
Yes, that’s the humanistic way of applying restitution, but a very fine woman in Sacramento California, who is one of our more faithful co-workers, was on a trip to visit some relatives in Idaho, and she left Sacramento, went to Reno, and they stopped at a shopping mall to pick up something, and a purse-snatcher tried to snatch her purse. Well, Ann is the kind of person that we need more of in this country, just on principle she will not surrender, it was an old purse and she only had fourteen dollars in it, but she was not going to let him have it. She had it over her shoulder and she just wrapped her arm ‘round it. She’s a slip of a woman, and the purse-snatcher picked her up and slammed her to the ground, trying to break her hold of the purse, and she would not give up. Well, meanwhile, someone in one of the shopping places saw what was happening, called the police, and a car was nearby and they came by. She wound up in the hospital, and it was almost a year before she had the full use of her hand.
After she got out the hospital two or three days later, they asked her to go to the police-station and sign a complaint. Ann went in and she said, what will happen if I sign this complaint? Well, we’ll have a trial, and maybe he’ll be sent to jail, but he might be given probation, this is a first offense, that is, as far as being caught is concerned. And she said: “I don’t believe in that. I don’t think its Godly.” She said: “I want restitution.” And the sergeant said: “what’s that?” So, she explained what Scripture teaches. And the sergeant said: “well I like that.” He said: “you sign the complaint, and leave it to me, and maybe I can do something here.” So she did, and he went to the young man, who was a college drop-out who had gotten into drugs. This was about three years ago. And he was purse-snatching to get more money for drugs. So he told him what would happen, he’d be sent to the pen and so on and so forth. He said, if you agree to a drying-out spell, and will agree to work off the amount she requires, she said she wants double restitution, the full amount of the hospital bill, which was something like fifteen hundred, and an equal amount beyond that, we’ll put you in, what do they call these lockups where they keep, yes, right, and you can go out and work, and pay it off that way and then you won’t have to serve time.
Well he agreed to it, and about a day or so later, while Ann was recuperating, his parents, who had somehow or other been told that their son had been located and was arrested, came there and they were very grateful to her for what she had done, and she witnessed to them concerning her faith.
They were Episcopalians but they didn’t know much about the Bible, (They asked) is that in the Bible? So she told them, yes it is. And she explained what it meant, in terms of restitution and atonement. So he did work it off. And she gave him a Bible when he paid the last dollar and was released, and the parents wrote a very fine letter to her, saying that they trusted that this would be the beginning of a new life for their son. [00:55:30]
So, I could go on and cite other episodes like that...
So, I could go on and cite other episodes like that across country, this kind of thing is beginning to take place, and it’s very wonderful. It’s taking place because individual Christians are saying, this is what I want. Now Ann (Supenie?) was not in a home area, she was a stranger there in Reno. And yet she made her witness to the sergeant, and the sergeant was favorably impressed, and the outcome is they’re going to try it with other prisoners.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Well, this was a problem which the Early Church had to wrestle with, and the passage you cited from Paul is an important one that the Early Church took very, very seriously. And they did require that men make restitution and you recall that our Lord when Zacchaeus said, if I have defrauded any man I will restore four-fold and five-fold, now Zacchaeus could have said, since it was money, all that was required was two-fold, but he said four-fold and five-fold, and our Lord said, this day has salvation come to this house. Well the Early Church had a problem because it was dealing with very ungodly people. I believe I cited yesterday what Corinth was like, and Paul went there in fear and trembling, he said. And the converts came, whether they came from good families or not, from a background of very flagrant and open sin. The sexual revolution it’d been underway in Rome for some time, the homosexual revolution had triumphed. It was a wide open culture as far as sin was concerned. And so they had very real problems. Well, as a result we can find in some of the early literature a great deal of wrestling with this problem of sin. Where it was possible, they were to do something. But what they were strict about was, from the day of their conversion, they were to put all sin aside and if they went astray, to make full restitution. Well then they had problems. Because these were people of a pretty low character. They might be highly intelligent, but they didn’t have much of a moral background.
Now I know what that can mean, I worked among American Indians. And as far as I.Q. is concerned, the American Indians have the highest average I.Q. of any group in the United States. But they’re at the bottom economically, and morally. Because by and large, they’re a people without faith. And it was routine for the kids in the school to be alcoholics by the fourth and fifth grade. And sexual immorality began by junior high. And well, I could go on by the hour and tell you of the moral conditions that prevailed. It was extremely bad. And so it was not uncommon for sin to prevail. It was not uncommon for a girl who became converted, to be a target of all kinds of attempts, to prove that she was no better now than she was before. [01:00:50]
Or to get her drunk, because alcoholism is something...
Or to get her drunk, because alcoholism is something they were very prone to. And then to gang-rape her. I could give you some horror stories of that.
Alright, what do you do with people like that? Some of whom fall, fall of their own will as well. How do you deal with the situation? Well the Early Church faced that.
Now I mentioned that yesterday the problem they had with abortion and how they dealt with it among the pagans. They had that problem in their own circle. In their own circle. They were taking a strong stand against Rome and they were going out to collect those unwanted babies. And here, very often, they’d have a new convert, and maybe after she was converted she found she was pregnant from something that happened before. And she’d get an abortion. How is the Church going to deal with that? Well, they did. And they dealt with that after a great deal of soul searching and wrestling, and they said, you’re guilty of murder and you’re under sentence of death. And if we had a godly civil government, you would be sentenced to death. But we do not, and the Church has no power of execution. But now that you’ve repented and you are truly sorry for this fearful sin, murder, we take you back but we bar you for seven years, (some areas of the Early Church said implying fullness of time, others said ten years, also implying the fullness of time. In some areas they said for life) from the Lord’s Table, to indicate that you were dead, judicially dead for your sins, even though in Christ you are our sister. And in that way they made clear that it could not be treated lightly. And the person who sinned was always reminded that they could not approach the table, that they truly should have been executed. Well that was a reminder of the seriousness of sin, and that had a very salutary effect on others, that this is what God requires.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Right, and that means a commitment, it means you break with the old ways. It takes faith and it takes a great deal of grace. I know, because, well I could tell you of the problem we had with sins, in an Indian congregation. I can also tell you of the grace that was manifested. Because with a fearful background of sin, what do you when you are converted, and your wife is converted, but before your conversion, your wife was deeply involved in adultery with another man, and maybe your oldest child is this other man’s child, and you don’t know and she doesn’t know either. And then he becomes converted. And then you both come forward to take communion, because there, in that Indian church, they all came forward to take communion.
Well, you know, it takes a great deal of grace, it takes a great deal of grace in circumstances like that, and there times when my heart was in my throat, I had a lump and I was very nervous about a situation. And it meant that in some other cases that restitution had to be made, that it was not easy to go back and pick up the pieces. But it also meant that there would then be unity, a bond of fellowship in Christ that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
So when you live by Christ’s way, the difference is tremendous. I’ve often cited a little something I came very early to require when I was in the ministry, in the way of restitution, and it was all because of a simple thing that happened in a congregation, this was not a mission, Chinese or Indian group, it was a white congregation and I was new there, and I spoke to the first women’s meeting after I went there. I was very much impressed by one of the women who was a leader in the group, an officer of the women’s group, and afterwards when some of the women were cleaning up and I was talking with one of them, I expressed my appreciation of her leadership, this other woman’s leadership. And the woman said something in an offhand way: “well; well I guess she’s pretty fine,” and so on.
There was a coolness there. And I wondered about it. So I pressed her. I said, well, is there something I don’t know that I should know?
And she excused herself, she said: “oh no, it’s nothing. She really is a very fine woman, but she broke one of my cake dishes, about two years ago.”
And I said, “and what did you tell her?”
Well, I said: “oh, forget it, it isn’t anything, it’s just an old dish.”
And I thought about that. It was exactly what a woman would say, forget it, it was an old dish, even if it wasn’t. So, I laid down a rule. If anything like that happened, the woman who broke the dish, no matter what the other woman was to say, was to go out and get one twice as good and give it to her. It was amazing what that did in the way of fostering relationships, and it’s God’s way. Restitution. [01:09:41]
And it does wonders, it really does...
And it does wonders, it really does.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes, that’s a very good illustration, and it’s one that I can confirm.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. You have to make good, in terms of the, yes.
Well, since he’s going to have a calf of some sort, which he can sell, it wouldn’t be five-fold. It might be double or triple, something like that.
What you just brought up is a very important one; I live in the mountains, and its cow country and mining country. And fences are a problem. Especially during the drought, cows were breaking through fences. And when they do, it also poses another problem. You may think the man is a good neighbor, but you also wonder, well, with the shortage of feed, and I have more feed than he does, did he break the fence himself?
And you don’t allay that suspicion, unless you make restitution. So no matter how apologetic a man may be, and hasten to repair the fence himself, unless you make some form of restitution, it creates the suspicion that those hungry cows were allowed to come in by design.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Are there any other questions or comments, but not any other subject, because our time doesn’t permit us to get into a fresh subject.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. I’m glad you brought that up. You see, it used to be that restitution was required throughout Christendom through the centuries, off and on. Whenever there was a Revival in the Church, they went back to God’s law, they required restitution. Now the kings and the nobles might have their own law, but the basic law that the people trusted in, and enforced in the local courts, whether in the days of feudalism or afterwards, was God’s law. And it wasn’t until the modern era that the penitentiary began.
The Quakers were the persons who first promoted it, and William Penn was the first man to write on it. And they were, of course, liberals, they were not Christian, and they felt that the Quaker doctrine is the doctrine of the inner light. Every man has a spark of deity in him. And this inner light, if given opportunity, will change the life of man. So if you put people in a penitentiary, and isolate them from others, each in a cell, (and the word cell comes from the monks cell, penitentiary from penitent) they will become penitent in their cell, and will become a new man through the inner light. So the prison system was born as a product of humanism. And now the humanists are recognizing that it is bankrupt. [01:16:28]
They’re trying another solution...
They’re trying another solution. The solution is psycho-therapy. Which of course is proving itself bankrupt with a non-prison population, so why should it work with a prison-population? And probation, which means a humanistic forgiveness, is another alternative. Today, according to State Senator Bill Richardson of California who has studied the scene across the United States, he says, one percent of all crimes result today in a prison sentence. Ninety-nine percent of all crimes committed have no penalty. No arrests, nothing. So, he said, crime pays very well today.
What we are seeing is the breakdown of our humanistic world. Its doctrine of atonement, its doctrine of reformation of prisoners, has failed. And its plan of salvation is leading to world-wide disaster. So what we have to say is, that it is imperative for us as Christians, to work harder than ever before, and to do more. And I’m going to go into God’s appointed way, after lunch.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Well, it is easier now because everything has a monetary tag on it today. You see. That makes it much easier.
Then, you didn’t have a monetary valuation of things.
You know what something that is done costs, so the price of restitution would be easier. Of course computer crime today is very, very much out of hand, and it goes into the millions. And they get away with it.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes, that’s right. And one form of restitution was death. You paid with your life.
[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. That’s a very important question, and I may be able to get to it this afternoon, but let me say just briefly now, we know that God required that the land have a Sabbath with the captivity. They were to make up seventy years of Sabbaths. The interesting thing is, we don’t have anyone who’s ever studied this, and records are very few, but the Sabbath was apparently kept, with regard to the land.
Now, each Sunday, well, not each Sunday, every other Sunday afternoon, when I’m in Los Angeles, I have a class in doctrine, with John Quade, and his writers. John Quade is the producer for Clint Eastwood’s movies. And he himself does some acting, if you saw him, you’d recognize him immediately because he usually plays the minor role as the villain. He’s about so broad, and a giant of a man, but he plays the villain. He was saved three years ago, he’s become a strong Christian, he knows his Bible and studies it, he’s read the Puritans, and he’s read Calvin and he’s read most of the theologians, and he follows God’s law very strictly.
Well, so he calls me in to have a class with his writers. Film writers. Because he’s hoping that one of these days he can get the financing and get some Christian input into movies. But a question came up with the Sabbath, and I spoke of what the Sabbath meant, with regard to one day in seven, one year in seven for the land and so on. And one of the men spoke up and he came from, I think, the Dakotas or some area like that, and he said, you know, I grew up there and we wouldn’t farm every seventh year. And the family just made it a practice, to save up for the seventh year, and I asked them, why they did it.
And he said: “My folks were not Christian. They told me, we don’t know, that’s the way our folks did it, and that’s the way everybody did it, and that’s why we still do it, and it’s a good way to live.”
So it was practiced, and then a young couple, I knew the young man when he was a student at (Danford?), and then I presided at their wedding, and he went back to meet his in-laws, and he came back and he said, Rush, do you know what they do there in Oklahoma? In an out of the way area? They allow the land to lie fallow every seventh year. And they say it increases the fertility and the productivity of the soil.
Which is true. What it does is to allow the micro-organisms to grow. To flourish, to revive and revitalize the soil in a remarkable way.
So, it was once practiced.
Now I was very much amazed, I put an instant or two in Biblical Law, about the law of gleaning. And I was surprised how many peoples I’ve traveled said, well, in the back country of this or that state where I came from, they were practicing gleaning, up to a few years ago. So, and then Eric Sloane, of course, in his book says the church bells used to ring to announce that it was gleaning time in the towns of America, not too many years ago. [01:24:57]
All this has been swept under the carpet and forgotten...
All this has been swept under the carpet and forgotten. But I’ve had two people, in the past month, tell me, John Quade’s writer and one other person, the young man whose marriage I performed, this was about two years about two years ago he told me this, but in the past month two people told me that they grew up on farms where the Sabbath year was observed. So it’s been done. We’ve just forgotten about it.
Now, we’ve got a practical problem today, because we have an ungodly tax system. And this creates a problem. If, as happened to some of my relatives, (I have a lot of relatives who are farmers in California) if the frost wipes out their crops as it did a couple of years ago, womenfolk have to get a job in town or the men folk have to go out and do some trucking, tractor work for others and so on, to have some income to pay the taxes. The taxes are so oppressive. But when I was a boy, you never thought about taxes. You didn’t pay an income tax unless you were a millionaire, and a property tax was next to nothing. I like the story, a friend of mine, a rancher, (Ted Moosio?), went to Virginia City in Nevada not too long ago. (Did I tell some of you this story? Or was it you, Bob, that I told this?) He went to Virginia City and his neighbor, was an old man of ninety, came to him and said: “Ted, I was born in Virginia City, I haven‘t been back since we left there in the early nineties, when I was a boy.” And he said: “My grandfather lived there, my father and grandfather were miners, and my grandfather died there. And what happened was, when the mine began to shut down in the nineties, people were leaving and you couldn’t sell a home, so we just walked away and left our house. And I’ve never been back.” So he said: “I’m going to give you some money. Have whoever is looking after the cemetery, tend my grandfather’s grave. And then see what’s happened to our old house.”
And he gave him the location of the house.
Well Ted went there and gave some money to the man to take care of the, that grave in particular and so on. And he located the house, it was an old-fashioned two-story Victorian house with a lot of gingerbread and so on, and it had someone living in it, and there was a new roof on it. So he went to the County Hall of Records, just to trace the history of it. And he found that it had sat vacant till nineteen forty. Forty-five years or so. And then it was auctioned off together with other properties, by the county. To be sold for back taxes plus cost. There was only one bidder, and he refused to bid a penny higher than the total sum of the back taxes and cost. Can you guess how much that came to for forty-five plus years? Exactly six dollars and forty-six cents. Six dollars and forty-six cents. You see, it was a different world, a different America than I grew up in. [01:29:21]
We didn’t see the government, the civil government...
We didn’t see the government, the civil government. My home town has only nine hundred more people now than when I went to high-school. When I went to high-school, they had one policeman in town, with a relief man, and about once a year one of the old Swedes who’d drink a little too much and be tossed into the one room jail to sober up. And that was the sensation of the high-school; all the kids would talk about it. Do you that there’s somebody in the jail? And the kids would walk by the jail to see, it was a sensational event. Now with only nine hundred more people, they have eighteen men out in police cars, plus a staff of girls in the office manning the radio and so on. And they can’t keep up with the situation. What’s the difference? Well, it was a town of God-fearing churches. Everybody went to church. Down the road from us there was one family that didn’t go to church, in the entire area. And, oh, we kids thought it was really amazing. They were atheists. Did you ever hear of something, people who were actually atheist, and didn’t go to church?
So it was no wonder that you didn’t have taxes in those days. And I can remember after the war, when my cousin who is two years older than I, and my father, who retired from the ministry to our farm, thought the world was coming to an end because the house and the farm combined taxes had hit fifty dollars. Now they go into the thousands. Well, you see we’re paying the price of our apostasy. [01:31:37]