Trends in the Church Today - EC327

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Lesson[edit]

Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Trends in the Church Today
Course: Course - Easy Chair Series
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 25
Length: 0:59:04
TapeCode: ec327
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Easy Chair Series.jpg

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


This is R. J. Rushdoony, Easy Chair number 327, November the twelfth, 1994.

In this hour Mark Rushdoony, Douglas Murray and Andrew Sandlin and I will be discussing trends in the Church today. We are at a critical point in the history of the world. The age of humanistic Statism is in process of decay all around us so that we face a crumbling world as surely as did the latter day Romans. This is a challenging time for the Christian and the Church. And it is important for us to be aware of not only the responsibilities of the Church, but the condition of the Church, the directions it is taking.

I am going to ask Andrew Sandlin to lead off with a statement giving us generals and particulars of the question.

[Sandlin] Perhaps the leading trend that has so injured the Church over the last hundred years is, I believe, the loss of objective standards. Earlier the Church held to absolute biblical authority. This was true, of course, both in the East and in the West. Protestantism highlighted the idea of the absolute authority of the Word of God as opposed to the authority of tradition. But even Romanism held to the inspiration and infallibility of the Word of God. Certainly that profession was eviscerated in the eastern Church. But, nonetheless, in her confessional standards in both East and West, the Church held to the Scriptures as a sacred document.

On the whole, the wider society did also. Of course, there were even before the advent of what we know as Protestant Liberalism, there were always those historically who would question the authority of Scripture, but they were in a great minority and they were clearly considered heretical. But with the rise of Relativism and the Subjectivism and particularly as a result of Romanticism, specifically British Romanticism although it was prominent on the continent also, there was an orientation toward feeling and emotion and this tended to erase the concept of external authority. Authority was transferred to the inside, to man. Renaissance and later Enlightenment Rationalism, of course, placed the authority in the mind of man beginning largely in the philosophical school with Descartes. [00:03:15]

But in the Romantic period with Coleridge, Wordsworth...[edit]

But in the Romantic period with Coleridge, Wordsworth and Keats Shelley and then Byron and others, there was a sort of turning to the idea of man and his emotions as the authority. And, to a large degree we... Rationalism does not survive in modern culture. There are elements of it, of course, in some of the universities, but on the whole what is prominent today is the enthronement of the feelings and the emotions.

Well, this, of course, has influenced the Church, Pietism which began in Lutheranism and, as Rush was mentioning to me earlier in a conversation today, had some roots in Medievalism. Pietism contributed to this idea also.

But there was not only a loss of objective standards with respect to the Word of God. There was also a loss of objective standards with regard to the confessions of the Church. The Church very early hammered out confessions of faith. That is why we speak of ancient catholic orthodoxy, the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Creed, Athanasian. Of course before that the Apostles’ Creed. But with the loss of biblical authority there came also the loss of confessional authority. This has been supplanted by good feelings, religious feelings.

In addition to that—and I will mention only a couple of other factors before we get into the conversation itself—this has led to a strong emphasis on Relationalism, that is, the relation between individuals as being paramount to the faith.

Of course, the Word of God does govern our relations and that is not the issue. But the point is one’s relation to his fellow Christian and to the world began to supplant his relation to God. We see this permanently in the substitution of psychology for theology in the Church. And most of our listeners, no doubt, know of the prominent role that psychology plays in the modern Church. Almost all of it is anti theological and subversive. There are some that, for example, take the Van Tillian tact and are not even truly psychologists. They counsel specifically from the Word of God. We are not talking about them, but on the whole psychology has, to a great degree, subverted theology and replaced theology in the Church.

This has happened prominently in the seminaries in which courses in pure theology and systematic theology and biblical theology and original languages have been either replaced or reduced and replaced by courses in Relationalism, church growth, business and all that sort of thing. [00:06:18]

And then one final factor that I will mention...[edit]

And then one final factor that I will mention—and there are many more we can discuss and I am sure we will—is the utter paganization of Liberalism. Of course, originally Liberalism stated, “Well, we don’t want these confessional standards. Essentially the problem with historical orthodox Christianity is that it really does not conform to the mind and experience of man.”

Originally they never felt that they were going to go off what we would call the deep end into utter apostasy, but the problem is when they lost the objective standard, first of all, of the Word of God and, second of all, of confessions of faith, the historical confessions of faith and the reformation confessions, for example, they were not aware that they didn’t have a rudder by which to guide their ship. And therefore the ship has been tossed on the sea of apostasy. And now Liberalism involves and includes the ordaining in the church the ordaining of the homosexuals and women. Fortunately, to a large degree, the Roman Catholic Church and very conservative Protestantism has resisted that. But even in those areas there have been inroads of Feminism in the church.

I think immediately of the book produced by the United Church of Christ, Pilgrim Press in Cleveland a couple of years ago, Gay Theology Without Apology by David Comstock in which he says plainly, “I don’t take my authority from the Word of God or orthodoxy or tradition. I take my authority from myself and what feels good to me.” And he stated plainly, “We must get away from this idea that the Bible condones homosexuality in any sense.” And he chides his homosexual theologian friends...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Sandlin] ... for trying to find someplace in the Word of God where homosexuality is condoned. He says, “Give it up. It is a lost cause. Let’s just make the frontal assault on the authority of Scripture. That is where the battle must be joined.”

Well, here we see what Van Til would say is the epistemological self consciousness of the apostasy. It is no longer hiding under the guise of a pretended neutral Liberalism.

So this paganization of Liberalism, a return to the pagan and to the depraved natural is one of those factors, I think, and trends in the Church. Those are several and I am sure that we can discuss these and others at length.

[Rushdoony] Mark, would you like to comment on that?

[M. Rushdoony] Well, we could delve into whether they have replaced this authority. It seems that there are a number factors that replace the Word of God. Some of it is entirely subjective on the individual and in some instances this... the subjectivity is only the established Church and so the Church determines what is proper whether than the individual.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes.

[M. Rushdoony] In others it is a charismatic figure, often the minister who must be dominant, to put it politely, perhaps tyrannical leader in the church. [00:09:26]

There.... you have to have authority somewhere. And it is either going to be in individuals, it is going to be in a corporate entity or in a personality.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[M. Rushdoony] Or saints, perhaps, in effect. Their favorite evangelist or their favorite school.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[M. Rushdoony] They look for authority somewhere and you dare not challenge that authority.

[Sandlin] It is exactly right. The whole idea is that authority is now anthropocentric. It is not theocentric anymore. And I think this is true, as Mark mentioned, of many charismatics, certainly not all. And I would mention there is a great revival of the reformed faith among a number of charismatics. But on the other hand, there are some who, of course, place their best authority in a charismatic figure, charismatic, in that sense, not in the theological sense, but an outgoing individual. But then even in churches that are not that way, there is a feeling orientation that governs.

Another one that we neglected to mention is what they call Majoritarianism, whatever the majority of the church things is right.

I was telling Rush earlier of a church in the area in which I pastor that grades the pastor’s sermons. They actually hand out little report sheets or report cards and if the pastor’s delivery is not up to par, of course, par is what they determine that it shall be, or if it is too intellectual or not intellectual enough, or if he preaches too long or not long enough, then he is subject to some criticism. And, thus, we have almost a revival of the Tower of Babel that man will decide what will occur in the church.

And, of course, this filters out into the wider society. Rush, or...

[Rushdoony] Douglas, would you like to...?

[Murray] That almost sounds like the standards of the entertainment industry being applied to...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Murray] ... to the church. The emotionalism is alive and well in the church as we all know. Many of the churches in this area they have virtually crowded out any biblical teaching with essentially entertainment, guitar playing and, you know, various musical events. And there was very little, if any time left for any... for the Bible. And ... but people... many people that is what they want.

[Sandlin] It seems to me that in many cases the most popular churches are those who have the greatest level of entertainment.

[Murray] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Well, one of the things that I think must be pointed out again and again is what Douglas referred to, the entertainment industry and its impact on the Church. [00:12:43]

We were discussing, I believe, yesterday, Andrew, the...[edit]

We were discussing, I believe, yesterday, Andrew, the fact that with the rise of Arminianism the Church stressed man, man’s feeling, man’s conversion...

[Sandlin] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Over the objective faith, over God and what God requires. And the architecture of the Church changed.

Now one of the few things that should be remembered about Church architecture which marked it from the beginning, the very first church, the earliest churches built by Christians in times of persecution and times of trouble were stone churches. And they were basilicas and that is why in older terminology the sanctuary is referred to as the basilica, or part of it, at any rate. It is a basilica. The word comes from basil which means king. The church was the king’s throne room and court. And, therefore, when you came into the building which had to be a good one, because when the Christians were poor and persecuted they were building these stone churches, because it was the king’s throne room from whence his law Word was proclaimed. That is why in those days you stood when Scripture was read. You might sit during the rest of the service, but you stood for the Scripture, because it was the King’s Word, Old and New Testaments alike.

But what happened was that the Church in the last century with the rise in this country, at any rate, the change took place is Arminian Revivalism arose and the church then began to be designed after the pattern of a theater and you had your pulpit in the front and seats all around on every side with the whole purpose being to be entertained from the pulpit. [00:15:22]

The pastor became an entertainer...[edit]

The pastor became an entertainer. In the last century, after the revivals began real estate promoters started to build churches when they began a development. For example, when Brooklyn was first built, they built a church, a big one and looked around for a good pulpiteer and they brought in Henry Ward Beecher. And Beecher, depending on where he was, was a Calvinist, an Arminian and a Modernist. So he packed them in and that was a good way of selling houses in the real estate development, because the church had gone from being a sanctuary and a throne room to being an auditorium where a pastor entertained the people.

That was a very, very dramatic change. It did, as you indicate, lead to a man centered instead of a God centered church and a man centered as against a God centered worship.

Now creeds were once an important part of worship. They still survive in that many churches repeat the Apostles’ Creed and use the Nicene Creed in communion services, but by and large it is a relic. It is not the focus, not even many Calvinists remember that the whole of Calvin’s Institutes from beginning to end is a commentary on the Apostles’ Creed.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Because the whole point of teaching and preaching was that people know what they were supposed to believe. But not many churchmen today know their creeds or are familiar with a confession of faith of their particular church.

Then there is another factor to which you, Andrew and Mark, you both, I believe, referred to, the peace at any price mentality, the hatred of conflict, the dislike of stress as though the elimination of conflict and stress is somehow Christian virtue. But you live in a world that is fallen. And we are told that from the very beginning there is a battle between those who are the Lord’s and those who are against him.

[Voice] Yes. [00:18:26]

[Rushdoony] You cannot escape conflict in this world...[edit]

[Rushdoony] You cannot escape conflict in this world and because there is sin in the world, there will be conflict. You have such a mentality today that it leads a great many employers to the position where they are afraid to fire anybody no matter how incompetent he is. And the result is that employees feel as numerous lawsuits have indicated they have a proprietary right to their job as though it is their property and you can’t touch them.

Now 20 years or more ago Joanna our daughter was Mark’s sister was working for the phone company which when she started working was the finest place for girls to work, the cleanest environment, but it changed. For example, because of the requirement that they hire people with disabilities they had to take, for a woman who, a young woman who was obese, really obese, sloppy obese and did nothing to mend that condition. She ate, she nibbled at things constantly and so on. And she was full of self pity. She was nasty to everyone there. She would stay home because she felt sorry for herself two, three days and the other girls, of course, were happy when she did and she would get sick leave of an unlimited sort, nature to do that.

The management found it impossible to cope with her, but they never dared to fire her or to rebuke her for staying out too much which, of course, only pleased them.

Now we have things comparable in the Church and in Christian organizations. No matter how bad they are, you are to fire no one. Whether it is from the Church staff, a foundation staff or a Christian school staff, if you do, there is serious trouble. Nor dare you discipline them and say you have been guilty of adultery, you have admitted it and therefore we are excommunicating you because you refuse to repent. [00:21:25]

That is grounds for suing a church and winning in some...[edit]

That is grounds for suing a church and winning in some instances.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] So the idea is that Christians are to be a door mat. There is a hatred of conflict, a hatred of stress, but a fallen world is the conflict world and a world full of stress.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] You have battles to fight, everywhere in every sphere. But we have reached the point where that is no longer valid. We have, as you indicated Majoritarianism. Not only so, but we have together with it a feeling that the majority is right, but you dare not, if it is anything but a Christian minority, do anything to offend the feelings of the minority. So you have minority groups in the Church and out of the Church acting as though all right is theirs because they are a minority. And the result is a fearful evil in that people have become afraid to make a stand.

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] Well, the hardest way to make a stand is on Scripture.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] There are conflicts all the time in... in churches, but they are rarely over scriptural matters. They are the same thing that would occur in any kind of a social club when there is a certain hierarchy and certain people have been in the church a lot longer than the pastor and they are not going to... they are not going to take this and they don’t like the pastor for one reason or another or they have a problem. So there are conflicts all the time. But if you dare bring up anything scriptural then you are considered to be a trouble maker, because the people don’t feel comfortable discussing Scripture and they don’t really want to discuss Scripture because their attitude is, well, maybe we have to believe that and maybe we don’t, but...

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ... since it is subjective...

[Voice] Yes, that is right.

[Voice] ...that is your interpretation of Scripture. How many times have you heard that? That is your interpretation of Scripture.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] That is right.

[Voice] Yes, it is remarkable that when one wants to introduce Scripture into a discussion, often times that indicates the end of the discussion for many people. And this brings up another element that I wanted to discuss and that is the feminization of the Church. [00:24:02]

Some of the listeners may have heard or heard of or...[edit]

Some of the listeners may have heard or heard of or read Ann Douglas’ book Feminization of American Culture written a few years ago. She demonstrates that feminization of the American society occurred to a degree as a result of the destruction of orthodox Calvinism in New England early last century. I brought that up as a result of what Mark said because often times people who do the very things that Mark was talking about base their entire argument and disagreement on their feelings or their emotions or that sort of thing. And there is a deep resistance to bringing objective standards.

Well, Sentimentalism and emotion are largely characteristics of women. This is not in any way to degrade women, but it is for this reason that God asserted plainly in his Word that men are to be the clerical, pastoral leaders in the Church. But because the Church has become largely feminized, the introduction of Scripture or even confessional standards into the Church is often met with great hostility, great hostility by those for whom the guiding principle is their emotion or their sentiment or how they feel about a matter.

[Rushdoony] Well, Mary Douglas’ book on The Feminization of American Culture, of course, is a landmark work. And it should be back in print. It is so important.

It is interesting that she pointed out that as Calvinists and Calvinism and Calvinistic theology left the Church, the Church became feminized. And Feminism today is very powerful in the Church. We recently reprinted the little book edited by Elizabeth {?} on marriage and it is interesting that when it was first published in the 70s the hostile reactions by women who claimed to be good, Bible believers or good Calvinists or good you name the church people from almost any group in Christendom, who objected to the book violently, because they saw it as implicitly anti feminist or anti woman, because it stressed certain things in Scripture. [00:26:58]

And they were insistent that those things were misunderstood...[edit]

And they were insistent that those things were misunderstood. Their answer... you said, “Why then for 20 centuries has it been misunderstood?” Was that our culture was hostile to women.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Which is not true, because even in the Middle Ages you find in periods of theological decline when women actually took to preaching and when women in one way or another assumed authorities that only belonged to a priest, so that Feminism is not new to our culture and we forget how again and again as a culture is declined and as men have abdicated their duties, women have taken over.

One of the things, for example, that very few people realize is there were a great many women warriors in the crusades fighting on the Christian side. And they usually were titled people of the nobility. And they were very, very vicious fighters. They liked to behead the people they conquered. They liked trophies to show and to parade with.

So the feminist impulse is nothing new. It has arisen more than once. So it has not been a male domination that has prevented the true meaning of Scripture from coming to light. It has simply been that the exegesis has always been the same.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Wherever it hasn’t been isogesis or false interpretation.

[Voice] I think this is another example, too, of the way in which the pagan culture surrounding the Church shapes the views of the Church and her theology rather than vice versa. I am always suspicious when theologians are wanting to alter their views whenever it just so happens that the modern culture tends to embrace those views.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] There was a group of noted evangelicals that got together a few years ago saying, “Well, we need to rethink this issue of the place and role of women in the church,” and by which they were wanting to justify women in the ministry. Well, one is likely to be very suspicious of that act and to question its sincerity precisely because it seems to be a capitulation to a caving in to the pressures of a modern decadent and apostate culture. And this is true in the case of sex and sexuality. It is true in the case of what we mentioned earlier with respect to entertainment. The church growth movement that is prominent at a noted southern California seminary and elsewhere, the capitulation to the baby boomers and reorienting the Church that way. [00:30:32]

[Rushdoony] Well, one of the things that has happened...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Well, one of the things that has happened that is basic to the decline is that the theology and the Bible are no longer as important in the Church as they once were. They have given way to humanistic emphases.

And another thing I would like to comment upon is that the Church is supposed to replace the family now. In other words, the minister in the Church is so far supposed to visit endlessly, counsel endlessly, take care of all the things that a family once did for its members.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And so there is little time for the pastor to study and to grow in his knowledge of the faith which is one reason why in the present era especially since World War II people change churches so often, that is, the clergy.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] I know that in the 50s there was one church in one of the earliest colonies established that had quite a shocking experience. Their pastor left them. And from the mid 1700s or early 1700s until the 1950s they had a total of three pastors. Each as called when he left Princeton Seminary. Each of them lived to be, I believe, 90 something and preached to the last. So a church with a long history was in its fourth pastor and they had his place in the cemetery already laid out for him and he left them and they were horrified.

Well, that was an old fashioned standard. The man went there. The laity, if there were any need, took care of it. He concentrated on leading them into the fullest kind of knowledge of the faith. And that was the way they the clergy used to be regarded.

Now they have been absorbed into the psychology end of it. [00:33:31]

[Voice] Yes, it is a ...[edit]

[Voice] Yes, it is a ... it is very sad and it is no wonder that members leave churches so readily and frequently because ministers do also. This is another example of the consumerist narcissistic mentality that is I will go to a church that will provide me with the most services.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] Will have unusual Sunday school programs and Awana programs and, in other words, I go to a church to meet my—and here is the chief words—felt needs, to meet my felt needs. Many members don’t attend churches because the Word of God is truly preached, the sacraments duly administered, but merely because it appeals to them. It is almost as though they are ... well, some people call it an ecclesiastical smorgasbord. I will stay here as long as I can get some food to my liking and then I will go somewhere else.

[Voice] You can’t have a systematic approach to the faith unless you have a systematic theology. Since most modern churches have denied systematic theology because they have denied most of Scripture they are left with basically the individual and the needs of the individual. If you... Dispensationalism has denied most of Scripture. They say God has changed his mind over the course of history and therefore it is all right if we are... our approach to Scripture changes throughout the course of history.

[Rushdoony] That is right.

[Voice] I think some of these conflicts that I have seen in my lifetime that have arisen in the Church have really been instigated from outside the Church. The Humanists have attacked the Church in a rather cowardly fashion, not a frontal assault, but they have used surrogates. They have used the legislative branch of government. They have used the legal profession. They have used the courts to create conflict indirectly within the Church between people in the Church. And they have really capitalized on that to do as much mischief as possible, such as engendering this idea of rights. [00:36:01]

[Rushdoony] Yes...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ...rather than responsibilities or duties.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] Well, when I was in seminary one of the things I was confronted with was the hostility to systematic theology. And there actually were theologians, so-called, who were writing against systematic theology and the gist of what they were saying is: How can we know what God is when he doesn’t know what he is? In other words, God is a developing force in the universe. Therefore, since he is developing, he is not a finished product. Therefore, how can you have systematics. In other words, how can you define him when he has not yet found himself.

[Voice] Yes. And they even had their own school. It is called Process Philosophy and Process Theology.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] ...which is still prominent and very influential.

You know, that reminds me the oddity here and the irony and the tragedy, indeed, is that the evangelical church seems always to be playing catch up.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] It seems as though when false ideas have run their course in the wider society and in Liberalism, evangelicals, specifically evangelical theologians tend to pick them up and tout them as some new wonderful thing, rather than boldly and forthrightly standing for the truth against all of these false philosophies. And the evangelical Church has become impoverished because of that. And this has happened on a number of fronts.

During the break Mark was mentioning the example of evolution and the advent of theistic evolution. And although this isn’t really specifically the topic of the program, evolution is not strictly a science. It is a philosophy. It is a competing revelatory word, competing with the holy Scripture. It will lose, of course, but it is a satanic philosophy competing with the Word of God and it seems the evangelical Church tends to pick up these ideas after they tend to be exhausted in the wider culture.

Well, we have been talking about a lot of negative trends. I thought maybe it would be wise to conclude the program with some positive trends. One that I think of immediately is the resurgence of historic Calvinism. This has come about largely through, Rush, your writings as well as publications from Banner of Truth, for example and others in Britain though we don’t always agree with everything that is published. We are grateful for all of the republications and re-printings of some of the great Calvinistic and Puritan works. [00:39:06]

[Rushdoony] And Van Til’s works...[edit]

[Rushdoony] And Van Til’s works.

[Voice] And Van Til’s, absolutely.

People have... sincere people that were trained in the Arminian faith have recognized its futility and eventually its impotence and not only evangelism—although that is a prominent feature—but also in the Church, family and in wider society. And I think if anything we need to continue to encourage that resurgence of sound, Calvinistic orthodoxy, because while I do not wish to reflect unfavorably on other genuine expressions of the faith, I must admit that it is Calvinism, historical Calvinism and Calvinism alone that speaks to all of life.

Benjamin Warfield made this point very well in his work Augustine and Calvin, Calvin and Augustine a number of years ago published by Presbyterian and Reformed that even Lutheranism does not speak to all of life. Calvinism does. And I think it is for that reason that we should encourage its resurgence.

[Rushdoony] We are joined now by John Upton who has been busy preparing a banquet. John, we are discussing trends in the Church today. What would you say you see from your vantage point? And you have seen a great deal.

[Upton] Well, I have seen the people relying on the institution. I don’t know if you have gotten into this or not.

[Rushdoony] No.

[Upton] The institution is something that I think that the overwhelming majority of people are leaning on much like the Roman Church of old and the pastors have become the priests and the indulgences are the feel good things that the pastors tell you in the church. So I think the institute, as far as the institution is concerned, people are sold on the institution.

But I haven’t really heard. Maybe, Rush, you could give... could give a good definition of what the institution is versus the invisible Church, versus the Church that we... as we know it.

[Rushdoony] Yes, men tend to want idolatry which, in part, is something visible to worship and depend on whereas, of course, our faith stresses the invisible God. The Romans regarded the Jews as Atheists, because when they first invaded our... it was Antiochus Epiphanies who first did it and then the Romans picked up the idea. [00:42:12]

They invaded the holy of holies and they found nothing...[edit]

They invaded the holy of holies and they found nothing there in the way of an idol or an image. These people had to be Atheists, because people wanted something they could handle and touch and see in order to worship and to rely on. And the church replaces the faith for many, many people. And it leads to an idolatry and without fully realizing it, the Church authorities can encourage it. Sometimes they do so deliberately when they fail to stress the faith rather than the institution. The churches make themselves the authority. They hold more and more meetings, counsels, presbyteries, conferences to govern every jot and title of human life.

It is interesting that when they reject God’s law they set up their own law.

[Voice] Yes.

[Rushdoony] And attempt to govern everything.

So people who believe themselves to be devout Christians are ready to worship the institution when the chips are down more than anything else.

[Voice] And I might add that when the faith becomes ecclesiocentric or church centered, it tends to become impotent. It tends not to apply itself beyond the confines of the church and assumes that if it can just reform the church—and the church does need reform—but if you can just reform the church that everything else will go well. But, of course, that isn’t true at all.

And then there is a sort of ecclesiastical monasticism that develops. The Church is constantly inward looking rather than outward looking. And she doesn't take her responsibility of dominion too seriously. And, of course, that happened in late medieval Romanism, but we certainly can’t absolve the modern Protestants of that, too. Many of them have suffered form that same problem. One reason the Church is so impotent is because the Church sees itself as the end rather than a means to an end.

[Voice] Very good.

[Voice] The Church sees itself as the end of the faith. But the Church is to make the Church the end of the faith is to commit idolatry. God is the end of the faith and our responsibility is under him and the Word of God. It think that is one main reason among a number of reasons that the Church is so impotent today.

[Voice] And as a pastor give me a sense of the human dynamics of how a good group of believers who started a church can turn a church into a living nightmare from a pastor’s standpoint. How do they seek to take it over?

[Voice] Well, I think one of the main ways in which that is done is when they follow human tradition rather than the Word of God and therefore elevate that human tradition. Well, we have always done it that way here or this way here. And when the pastor or elders or deacons wish to introduce godly sensible changes they claim as I think maybe Mark was mentioning earlier that, well, we have been at the church a long, long time and therefore we have always done this and we need to keep doing it. [00:45:48]

It is interesting...[edit]

It is interesting. It think Rush may have brought this up in the recently released Systematic Theology. I can’t remember He mentioned it somewhere that it is remarkable. Ordinarily the antiseptic church, the so-called perfect church is the most impotent church. The church that has problems ordinarily is the church that is doing something. You look at that is very prominent in the book of Acts. You don't find some neo platonic ideal church in the book of Acts. It was a church that had some problems.

Well, it had problems because it was accomplishing something. And the church that doesn’t want to accomplish anything may become in its own eyes, the antiseptic church, the church in which there are no problems. It will also be the church in which there is no action and no dominion. But I think that is one way that the members accomplish that in the church and many of them don’t recognize personal obligation. It is, as you indicated earlier, John, that they look to the church as an institution. They look at the church and say, “What can the church do for me?” rather than saying, “What can I do for the Lord through the Church?”

I think those are some prominent problems.

[Voice] What were some of the characteristics of what was referred to as the church of Satan by Paul? Didn’t he refer to one of the churches as a synagogue of Satan?

[Rushdoony] No. That was in Revelation. Our Lord in the letters to the seven churches had such a reference. And, of course, you would have to say that such a church follows the temptation of Genesis 3:5. Ye shall be as gods, determining for yourself what is good and evil. That is the force of the work of knowing good and evil, determining for yourself, establishing it.

Well, an Antinomian church that says God’s law is {?} we will create our own rules is a church of Satan.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] Because it has forsaken the objective Word of God for its own work. And it will set out rules and regulations and if you violate them, they come down on you hard. [00:48:10]

I was mentioning, I believe, to you, Andrew, earlier...[edit]

I was mentioning, I believe, to you, Andrew, earlier today I knew a minister a good many years ago who wanted nothing to do with anyone who was divorced. And in the particular incidents it was a man who had left his wife, gotten a divorce and lived with two women and then married a third and the woman was told by her lawyer in this state he can come and take the property and it is your money that went into it if you don’t get a divorce. And she was refused a place in the church, asked to leave because supposedly God hates divorce.

And the fact that she was the innocent party meant nothing and when she called attention to it and it was verifiable, he had been involved in sex club activities, that sort of thing, free for alls and the minister had actually dared to say, “I don’t know what drove them to it. Maybe you kept your legs crossed all the time.”

[Voice] To the wife.

[Rushdoony] To the wife. I am sure he is roasting in hell although he claimed to be an orthodox man, because that was the temper of that man.

This other pastor told me he would never marry anyone divorced no matter how innocent because he hated divorce. And I said, “You are trying to be holier than God.”

[Voice] Yes, that is right.

[Rushdoony] He never spoke to me after that for which I was very grateful.

[Voice] John, you know another matter, too, many churches are nothing more than social clubs. They don’t recognize their high calling. The true church is really an extension of the heavenly throne room. The Bible says where even two or three are gathered together that God is in the midst... the Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst. And, of course, he is the reigning king.

It the church when she comes together to worship recognizes her high calling as the people of God and not that merely she is on the par with the Rotary Club of the Moose or the Elks or the Hoot Owls or whatever the case may be, that she is a supernatural organization, then I think she will recognize the high calling that she has. [00:51:00]

[Rushdoony] The name for the Church in this world,...[edit]

[Rushdoony] The name for the Church in this world, as against the Church in heaven which is the Church triumphant has through the centuries been the Church militant.

[Voice] That is right.

[Rushdoony] A Church busy fighting against an enemy outside and inside. And if you look at God’s armies in the Bible, there is always a house cleaning in a military body, supremely in the case of Gideon who wound up with only a handful of the army he marched with or with the apostles who had to clean house periodically.

Today that would lead to hue and cry and all kinds of letters. Paul, you must be a terrible man. You have got rid of so and so. You are a bad Christian or no Christian at all.

No idea that in a sin filled world there are divisions that are necessary. The true Church is always reforming itself because it has to grow, reforming itself in terms of the Word of God. Yes.

[Voice] Where are Reconstructionist pastors coming from today? Are there any seminaries that...?

[Rushdoony] None.

[Voice] None.

[Rushdoony] If the Lord would ever so provide, we will try to start one, but there are none and right now in a major denomination there is a form that has gone out to every pastor the gist of which is, well, we need to exercise a great deal of tolerance with regard to our confession of faith. We need to allow for different interpretations with regard to the Bible. We need to allow of this and that. But on one thing, no toleration, Reconsturctionists.

[Voice] In fact, most of the seminaries are deeply resistant to Reconstruction and Theonomy. In fact, even the reformed seminaries are resistant to it.

[Voice] Where do they consider it a threat?

[Rushdoony] Oh, yes, we are a threat to them.

[Voice] Why?

[Rushdoony] Because so many people out there are beginning to say, “Here at last is a Christianity that applies the faith across the boards.”

[Voice] Yes.

[Voice] That’s right.

[Rushdoony] And they don’t like that. They want to sit in their little corner in the church, let the world go whatever way it wants to because as long as they keep themselves pure in that little corner, they are going to go to heaven.

[Voice] Reconstruction requires responsibility and many of them do not want the added responsibility. I think that they are engaged in a lot of just navel contemplation. They just want to have a lot of young ministers come, teach them a little about theology and a smidgeon of the biblical languages and a little about church growth and all that sort of thing and keep the denomination rolling smoothly. [00:54:14]

[Rushdoony] Don, perhaps you can tell us what happened...[edit]

[Rushdoony] Don, perhaps you can tell us what happened when you started rescuing orphans or unsalvageable children in Romania and bringing them here for medical treatment. What was the reaction of the churches to you?

[Voice] Well, the churches, first of all, their church people are great at patting you on the back and saying you are such a wonderful man and we are just going to hold you up in prayer and you are just an inspiration to us. And to me I would rather, you know, I would rather have root canal, than hear any more of that kind of crap because that is all it is. It is just a bunch of crap.

None of the churches in my area even invited me to speak. Barbara Walters has more respect for me than my local pastor and I think it is because they saw that I was some kind of a threat to them. I wasn’t under the control of a board of directors or some local group of people. This was always a Chalcedon project so that you and I, Rush and Mark and the rest of the trustees were in total contact. But we didn’t need to sit down and have meetings to, you know, to talk about meaningless things.

So I think that was one of the problems that I ran across. Another big problem was that I was getting into these so-called Christian agencies. I was getting on their turf because I was challenging their conventions. These are people that usually... that may have started out with good intentions of helping children, but they are like workers on an assembly line. They... 20 years ago they used to know how to tighten a lug nut, but no they have forgotten how to do that, yet they are telling the people that tighten the lug nuts how to tighten them. They have become worthless bureaucrats.

[Rushdoony] How many children did those agencies which were critical of you, I know...

[Voice] Yeah.

[Rushdoony] ...get out of Romania?

[Voice] In two years they got out less than 20. In six months we got out 35. But you have to remember that these agencies have yearly budgets of... of... of millions of dollars.

[Rushdoony] Yes.

[Voice] And they have staffs. They have hundreds of people on their staff. And what they were doing... the way they were doing business is typical of a church environment. They were going into receive the ... the blessings of everybody else. They didn’t say that God has told me to do this and the 10 Commandments are my guide and I am not going to break the law to do this. They went in to Romania and they sought to make friends out of these people and to work with them and cooperate with them. And that is what made them so worthless. [00:57:27]

[Rushdoony] I recall one group called and I told them...[edit]

[Rushdoony] I recall one group called and I told them to talk to you. They were highly critical. They had been working for years and had not yet brought one child out and somehow you were an offense.

Well, we have just about three minutes. Is there something more you want to say, Don?

[Voice] I would just like to... to find out what are the characteristics of the real Church. What are some things that people out there can look for?

[Rushdoony] Calvin put it very clearly and in the June Chalcedon Report I gave an account of what Calvin believed. The true Church has the faithful and true preaching of the Word and it has deacons with a ministry to human need in every sphere. These, Calvin said, are the two great marks of a true church. And this was most true in Calvin’s case. And in the case of his most prominent imitator, the Catholic bishop Saint Charles of Borromeo.

Well, our time is about out. Thank you all for listening and God bless you.