The Source of Authority - RR272F12

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: The Source of Authority
Course: Course - Doctrine of Authority
Subject: Subject:Political Studies/Doctrinal Studies
Lesson#: 12
Length: 0:30:39
TapeCode: RR272F12
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Doctrine of Authority.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission.


… worship God. Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. Seek ye the Lord while He may be found. Call ye upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him. And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. Let us pray. O Lord our God, unto Whom all power, glory, and dominion belong, we beseech Thee to make us strong in Thee and effectual, so that we may serve Thee with all our heart, mind, and being, might be instrumental in the tearing down of the things which are, so that those things which are of Thee may, alone, remain; and that we may do our work well, and cheerfully bear our burden and the burdens of others. Increase our faith that we may trust in Thy word and in Thy promises, and may ever be faithful to Thine every word. Give us patience to wait on Thee, courage in Thy service, and knowledge that Thy word is truth and Thy word shall never return unto Thee void. Bless us ever in Thy service. In Jesus’ name. Amen. [00:01:50]

Our scripture this morning is from the Gospel according...[edit]

Our scripture this morning is from the Gospel according to St. Matthew, the 28th chapter, verses 18 through 20: the Great Commission. In any society, there is an ultimate source of authority. In a general way, the source of authority is either supernatural or it is of this world: something within the human order or the natural order. Where we locate our ultimate authority has profound implications for man and society. Over and over again, men and nations have gone astray, because their source of authority has been a fallacious and an evil one. Very common in the modern world has been the opinion of Rousseau and the Social Contract: that men project their manmade laws onto the gods to enhance their own authority; men invent gods and ascribe to them the laws or the orders of society, as a means of strengthening their own position. For Rousseau, it was not the gods or god, but the general will of mankind, which was sovereign law, and the source of authority and truth. In previous generations before Rousseau, men had looked, first of all, to God for authority and law; and then with the Enlightenment, to Reason (spelled with a capital R) as some kind of inherent semi-pantheistic force inherent in the world of nature. [00:04:30]

Now, with Rousseau, men began to look to man’s emotional...[edit]

Now, with Rousseau, men began to look to man’s emotional responses for authority, for truth, and for law. Man in his innermost being—not consciously, but unconsciously—for Rousseau, knew the truth; and it was the function of true philosophy to unleash that subliminal and unconscious knowledge. God was eliminated, therefore, as the source of authority, truth, and law. Not only so, but what previously had been considered the higher and civilized aspects of men were set aside, in favor what had, until then, been regarded as the lower and less civilized aspects of man’s nature. Thus, man created for himself a new authority—the primitive—in himself. Not surprisingly, this kind of thinking was in line with the doctrine of cultural evolution which was developing: man was at his best when he was most natural: that is, most primitive. [00:06:08]

One of the quickest responses to this new thinking...[edit]

One of the quickest responses to this new thinking was in the arts, and the arts are still under this impulse; in fact, they are carrying it to its logical limits, to their own self-destruction. A very obvious example of this was Paul Gauguin. He prided himself on being a savage, in spite of all the civilization around him, and in spite of his own upbringing and family background. He spoke extensively of his Peruvian blood as somehow giving him a title to being a savage. However, while he did spend his formative years in Peru, he was not of Peruvian Incan blood: if there any in him, it was remote. He was reared in an aristocratic Spanish family, with servants waiting on him at every turn. As a matter of fact, once, when he traded as a child his rubber ball for some colored glass marbles and went home with them proudly, his mother was horrified, and she exclaimed, “What! You, my son, engaging in trade?” Someone in the aristocracy had no business engaging in trade, or doing anything to make money. We can understand why Gauguin hated much later being engaged in the banking business. [00:08:04]

In terms of this quest for the savage, for the primitive...[edit]

In terms of this quest for the savage, for the primitive, Gauguin went to Tahiti, and then to the Marquesas Islands. He fell in love with everything that was backward and crude there. In fact, he located a couple of older people, who had been cannibals, and had been convicted by the French for their cannibalism; and he rhapsodized over them as saints. In fact, he could not get over what he called the infinite gentleness of their smile. Here was the true savage man; and therefore, the true wise man. Gauguin could exploit readily teenage, early-teenage, and pre-teenage child prostitutes in Tahiti; and believe that was wonderful. But on visiting Paris, expressed great disgust over the presence of the prostitutes. They were the victims of capitalism; but the child prostitutes in Tahiti were children of nature.

Now this type of thinking, especially since World War II, but beginning in the latter part of the last century, has increasingly gained in power and in scope. It has been a sustained attack on Christianity, because biblical faith leads to civilization: this is the equation, as they see it. The Supreme Court has joined in that attack with the rest of society, and the Kinsey report held that the natural is the normative; so that, every kind of perversion and child molestation, according to Kinsey and his institute, constitute natural acts; and anyone opposing them is the problem. In France, towards the last years of the last century and to 1907, Alfred Henri Jarry, a French literary figure, warred against every standard; and he used obscene language to characterize anything that even remotely resembled good taste. But this sort of thing went back to the Enlightenment in its roots. Turgot, after all, had declared the genius, raw untamed genius was the new logos: the new presence of God in the world. [00:11:30]

This is what happens with naturalistic authority...[edit]

This is what happens with naturalistic authority. If we do not have authority with God in eternity, and we locate it in this world, the direction is always downward, whenever we have had a naturalistic authority. It works to throw off civilization, culture, education—in favor of the primitive as, ostensibly, the most natural. This kind of thing means that authority is always located further and further downward. We see this very clearly developed in Freud. Freud said there were three aspects in the nature of man: one was the id, the pleasure principle; the other was the ego, the reality principle; and the third was the superego, which is the cumulation of our education, religious ideas, family discipline, and so on. And he said the superego is the weakest; the id, the pleasure principle, is the strongest and the most basic in man, and it constitutes the will to live; whereas the ego, the reality principle, and the superego—our will to death.

So, man, to express the will to live, had to express his every naked desire without any restraint. The modern world, thus, has been grounded on a dangerous doctrine of authority—one that is destructive of all civilization, of all culture, of all education. It should not surprise us that Henry Miller said there should be 200 years of total destruction of all culture, of all religion, of all learning, of all reading, writing, all knowledge thereof, so that man would forget there ever was religion and civilization. And he said, then we can have a good life; unless, first be, he said, the time of the assassin. When you locate authority in the natural order, this is what happens: it goes downward; it locates itself further and further into the recesses of savagery. [00:14:36]

Now, when we turn to Matthew ...[edit]

Now, when we turn to Matthew 28:18-20, we find something radically different: these words are known as the Great Commission, or the Missionary mandate; and, indeed, it is a Missionary mandate. It is also known as the Dominion Mandate, because it reinforces the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:26-28. It commands the teaching or, literally, the discipling of all nations. The word that is used, and is translated “all power is given unto Me in heaven and earth” is exousia—power, or authority. This, therefore, is first of all a declaration of authority. It is the Authority Mandate. Our Lord tells us, “All power, all authority in heaven and on earth, is given unto Me. And, therefore, I send you forth under that authority to disciple all nations.” This authority is shared with the Trinity, and we are to disciple and baptize all nations and people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Access to all authority is on the human level through Christ, Who says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” This is total authority, and Christ tells us it is inclusive of all things in heaven and on earth. The state can claim no independent jurisdiction, nor can the arts, the sciences, or anything else. The missionary mandate and the dominion mandate rest on this fact of authority; hence, the order: teach all nations, baptizing them. Well, how do you baptize nations? The mandate is to baptize everyone, individuals and nations. Well, the baptism of nations is to bring them under the law-word of God; to bring them to a knowledge that there is only one true source of authority. Authority is an inescapable fact. Man’s perspective on himself and on his world, and on everything he does is governed by man’s doctrine of authority.

[00:17:56]

Now, in every culture, it is held to be essential to...[edit]

Now, in every culture, it is held to be essential to be in communion with authority, power, and truth. It is essential to life. Your life is off-base, if it is not tapped into ultimate authority. The romantic movement looked to nature first, and then to man’s urges for its doctrine of truth, authority, and communion. William Wordsworth, the romantic poet, wrote a poem about this, which he very accurately titled, “The Tables Turned.” The table has reference to communion. The table was now turned. If God wants communion, He’s got to line up with man, and seek it through nature. He rejected God and the wisdom that comes from learning. He summoned men in this qualm to abandon books for nature. He declared that birds are better preachers and teachers than formal preachers and teachers, and that true blessing and spontaneous wisdom come from nature. The last three stanzas of “The Tables Turned” read: “One impulse from a vernal wood may teach you more of men, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can. Sweet is the lore which nature brings; our meddling intellect misshapes the beauteous form of things: we murder to dissect. Enough of Science and of Art; close up those barren leaves; come forth, and bring with you a heart that watches and receives.” For the romantics, therefore, one impulse—one natural impulse in your being—gives you more revelation of moral good and raw evil, than all that religion and philosophy had previously taught. [00:20:34]

The political scientist, John H...[edit]

The political scientist, John H. Hallowell, in commenting upon the romantic movement, as it affected politics, said, and I quote, “Communion with nature replaces communion with God as the source of inspiration and true enlightenment.” This is the kind of world that has been given to us by politics since the French Revolution. Men communing with nature, and then with their own spirit, to tell us what truth is. After communion with nature came communion with man’s own id, with his pleasure principle, a la Freud. So, authority finally came down to man’s own will. The essence of our faith and its morality was summed up in the Garden of Gethsemane by our Lord when he said, “nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” [00:22:04]

The essence of romanticism is...[edit]

The essence of romanticism is: my will be done, because my will is truth and authority for me. The Lord tells us that He is the source of all authority in heaven and in earth. He, therefore, orders us to teach his total Word to all nations and to command their obedience in Christ, because He is the Lord, the Sovereign, the authority. If, and when, we do this, we know communion with him. If, and when, we bring the whole of our lives under the authority of the every word of God, we have communion with Him. Then, He is with us always, even unto the end of the world. That promise is inseparable from what proceeds it: His command, and the recognition of His authority. Thus, we are summoned to recognize His authority; then, to go forth and evangelize the world, and to command the whole world in terms of the law-word of God: in that task, He is with us. And we are told we have this assurance: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Therefore, we need not fear what man may do unto us.

Let us pray. O Lord our God, other gods have had dominion over us; and we have, like sheep, gone astray. We have sought our will, rather than Thy will; but Thou, O Lord, in Thy grace and mercy hast made us a new creation, hast made us Thine, and given us Thy law and Thy commission to go forth, not in our power, but in Thine: to do our work and to live our days under the authority of the Triune God. Great and marvelous are Thy ways, O Lord, and we praise Thee. In Jesus’ name. Amen. [00:25:19]

Are there any questions now in our lesson? Yes?...[edit]

Are there any questions now in our lesson? Yes?

[Questioner] That last phrase—even unto the end of the world: is that the word that gives rise to so much discussion about the end of the world?

[Rushdoony] Well, there is discussion, in spite of it, let’s say. It is to the end of the age; that is, to the end of the era before the new creation is totally in creation, when all things are made new in one great act. So it is His promise that within time and within the struggle, He is with us. Afterwards, of course, He is. There’s no question about it.

Any other questions or comments?

[Questioner] Didn’t Wordsworth undergo a change of mind later in his career?

[Rushdoony] Yes. Disillusionment with the French Revolution did start him on the road backward: from one who despised the services of the church, he wrote a series of ecclesiastical science about the Church of England, so that there was a partial return. His disillusionment, of course, with the French Revolution was quite dramatic. I’m smiling, because one of the most interesting aspects of my university experience was the resentment of professors in the Department of English for the later Wordsworth. They took a great deal of delight in calling attention to the fact that when he was in France during the time of the revolution, he fathered an illegitimate child. They never forgave Wordsworth for abandoning his faith in the French Revolution. [00:27:55]

Any other questions or comments? Yes?...[edit]

Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Questioner] The Great Commission, as stated in Matthew 18 through 20, speaks so plainly of our responsibility in terms of discipling the whole world that I wonder: how do the theologians who take exception to a Reconstructionist position intelligently handle that?

[Rushdoony] Well, you have to realize that those who take that perspective are of fairly recent origin. The pietistic interpretation arose with pietists, and then developed in terms of it; and had read the whole of the Bible as a private devotional manual—not as God’s Word for the whole world, and for every area of life and thought. So it was seen as a pietistic thing; then it was seen as essentially for women and children, and then as a good thing for someone to have as a child. So with the Enlightenment, there was a progressively downward application of the Bible, and an increasing limitation of its scope.

Any other questions or comments?

Well, if not, let us bow our heads in prayer. O Lord our God, we praise Thee for the abundance of Thy grace and mercy unto us; and we commit unto Thee all our hopes in Jesus Christ. Do Thou undertake for us in all things, that we may, in Christ, be more than conquerors. And now, go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always. Amen. [00:30:30]