80th Birthday Wishes - Family and Armenian History - the Future - RR271A2

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: 80th Birthday Wishes; Family and Amenian History; The Future
Course: Course - Essential History
Subject: Subject:Conversations and Sermons
Lesson#: 1
Length: 0:35:26
TapeCode: RR271A2
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Essential History.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

[Unidentified man speaking] It’s a little hard to start this without the guest of honor, the birthday boy, so we’re delaying for a moment; he’s been using ink at an astronomical rate signing books. By way of announcements and a little pitch here, a little plug, I don’t know why I’m plugging Calvin and Bancroft, to see Mr. Lofton and his table; he’s got Calvin and his Institutes and Bancroft’s American History on CD-ROM which is quite a tool for some of you.

The birthday boy is back so we can start here. We want to thank very heartily everyone who has helped with this, and specifically at this time, the Wagners which I don’t know if I see them at this very second. This whole family has been instrumental, he’s hiding over here? Okay, there he is. Wagners would you please stand up? These people need to know where the calories in their cake came from.


They really put a tremendous amount of work in this and we appreciate it very much. Just by way of thanks it’s occurred to me that some of the major contributors to Chalcedon over the years, true friends of Chalcedon, are in this room or at the very least friends of friends of Chalcedon for a long term, long haul, and in a very special way you’re taking part in this birthday because not that he wouldn’t have made it to eighty years old but God will use you as surely as he used R. J. Rushdoony to create this incredible legacy that we’re celebrating. Here’s a snapshot, here’s a letter from Brian Snap- Byron Snap, excuse me- “As I reflect on Dr. Rushdoony’s commitment to biblical scholarship I cannot overlook his humility. I remember a couple of particular instances. In the early eighties I invited him to speak at a pastor’s conference for a presbytery. They covered the entire state and the pastors had voted overwhelmingly to invite him. When the conference date arrived we had far more non Presbyterians than Presbyterians in attendance. Yet the total number was a little over thirty. I was quite discouraged. Dr. Rushdoony was not. He reminded me of a conference engagement of some years ago in which less than ten attended. One of those became a U.S. Congressman. I learned anew the importance of living under God’s sovereignty and doing so contentedly. Dr. Rushdoony saw the value and importance of each individual. [00:03:39]

A second incidence happened a few years ago

A second incidence happened a few years ago; a friend of mine was preparing to enter law school. Knowing something of the taxing schedule that awaited him, he wrote Dr. Rushdoony to attain his suggestions of a book that should be read to keep up a Christian perspective during those years. Dr. Rushdoony could have easily and rightly recommended several or all of his own writings. He did not, instead he wrote back two words in his answer: the Bible. What a reminder of the foundational importance of Scripture and the sufficiency of God’s word in making us complete. To quote: thoroughly equipped for every good work, Second Timothy 3:17.” That’s from Byron Snap, the associate pastor of Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church. I’d like to introduce again to you Dr. R.J. Rushdoony. [General Applause] [00:04:47]

[Rushdoony] Before we get started I’d like to introduce

[Rushdoony] Before we get started I’d like to introduce those of my family who are here present. First of all my wife Dorothy, would you stand Dorothy. [General Applause] Then my brother and very remarkable sister-in-law, Hage and Voola [sp???] Rushdoony. [General Applause] When my brother retired from his professorship and Voola from an administrative position with a particular corporation they did not stay idle they began working in the Balkans conducting an extensive mission there which is now part of Chalcedon’s operation and they just returned from that area a few days ago. The work they are doing there is remarkable. Then this is a first time in some years all five of the five children have been together with us. So I’ll call on each of you in order of age and if you and your children will stand and also my niece is here, Eleanor. First of all, Rebecca, are you here someplace? Alright. [Applause] And your children, have your children stand. Then Joanna, our second daughter, she’s been here I don’t know where she is now, oh, right there. [Applause] And where are, where’s Bob and- oh yes, Bobs right here. [Laughter] And where’s Rachel? Oh, very good dear. Our third daughter, Sharon, is with us also. [Applause] And our fourth daughter Martha, will you stand Martha together with your family? [Applause] And in fact where’s Christine and oh yes, and her husband Dean are back there, and Eleanor, why don’t you stand up. [Applause] We have seventeen grandchildren and Christine is the first of them to marry, she married last October and is here with her husband. So it’s been a real delight to have the family here. [00:08:33]

Oh, Mark I forgot

Oh, Mark I forgot! [Laughter] [Applause] Mark, will you stand up with your family. Where’s Isaac? Oh. I meant to introduce you first and I thought no, you’re the youngest I’ll introduce you last and then I forgot. [Laughter] Just a sign of age. [Laughter] I was asked by Ford and Andrea to talk a little about my life and background as it relates to my work. I’ll try to be brief, there’s a great deal of ground to cover and a lot of ancient history really that in a sense is important, at least it is to me. I want to encourage all of you to keep family records. To jot down the names of your parents and grandparents and your antecedents as far back as you can go. Do this for your children. This was once routinely done and family bibles were very commonly published with pages for family records. It is important. I deeply regret that I was never able to persuade my father because he kept postponing it to jot down the names of his forefathers because he knew them going back to the early Middle Ages. And he’d laugh it off and say well, sometime when I’m not busy but he never got to it. But all that was and is important to me because each of us have a distinctive parentage. God in his sovereign grace and mercy has given to every people tribe and tongue a different heritage which has its weaknesses and its strengths. [00:11:21]

And we are to appreciate that heritage and grow in

And we are to appreciate that heritage and grow in terms of it. My Armenian heritage we knew going back to the eighth century B.C.! An interesting aspect of it was something that contributed greatly to my particular perspective. It was in the middle ages, early on, that Armenian lost for a time its independent existence, I say for a time because it had has a future yet. What happened was that it was a buffer state between the Turkish forces that were pushing westward, had overcome the outpost of Western civilization, Persia, and were trying to move into Europe. But Armenia blocked the way for generation after generation. And it faced a double war because on one side to the East were the Turks, Muslims of sorts, and on the other side Byzantium, Greek Orthodox, determined to destroy Armenia because it was not of the Orthodox church. That kind of narrowness we still have with us. And at one point after a long and bloody war when the Turks were blocked, Byzantium took the opportunity to rush in from the other side and overwhelm Armenia. And they did something I’d like to call to your attention because it still has meaning today. They decreed total disarmament. Total disarmament. [00:13:42]

Which was a disaster because then the Turks attacked

Which was a disaster because then the Turks attacked Armenia and were deep into Byzantine territory and ultimately destroyed Byzantium. Having destroyed Armenia it was their suicide. And the Turks not only sustained the decree of disarmament but they said that so much of a small pocket knife was illegal and that prevailed right up to the massacres of 1915. For centuries that rule of disarmament and we have similar forces in our time who want to disarm people who are not fully aware of the consequences of such a step. Well this leads me to the critical point. How did they did survive? They were overwhelmed by a foreign power, the law of Islam in those days was (and you rarely ever hear about it these days and you can encounter it in a few very old books that are out of print): namely, a Muslim had the right at any time to test the sharpness of his sword on a [unintelligible] Christians neck. And you had better believe that they used that law. How did you survive under such a tyranny? Well the solution was one which some other peoples, most notably the Jews, abused. They created an invisible government using Biblical law and applying it, which they already had believed, pretty strictly. [00:15:53]

So that they were ruled by God’s law

So that they were ruled by God’s law. This meant then with the help of families that had been notable before the conquest they maintained a government. Usually in the smallest villages there were three families who had hereditary power. The policeman, the judge, and the pastor or priest. From father to son they handed down the responsibility at no cost to the village. And they ruled in terms of the Bible. That’s how they survived. Now, if a society in a tyrannical situation where your neck can be used to test the sharpness of a Muslims sword can survive, and even flourish, using God’s law, how much more can a free people survive and prosper. This is something that was very important to my heritage. I knew God’s law worked! And I was close to the old generation. I knew the freedom that they had in terms of God’s law in the most oppressive situation. And the freedom they treasured when they came here! I can remember at the end of the fifties going to visit my father and some of the older men who in a couple of years were all dead. Reviewing the news of what was going on in Washington, and they saw far more clearly than I did the direction we were taking as a country. And they wept, they literally broke down and wept. And one of them said ‘they are going to turn this country into another Turkey’. Well, by God’s grace and law we are going to reverse that. We are going to demonstrate by applying God’s law in our own lives and then step by step as we increase our influence, that we CAN be a self-governing people. That government begins with us and then it extends out to others and to each sphere of influence where we can govern. [00:19:21]

Now I know things have gotten much worse in many spheres

Now I know things have gotten much worse in many spheres in the past twenty, thirty, years. But I also know the ground we’ve taken back. Consider education. Now someone in Washington told me, he said these are not the published figures and this was fifteen years ago, he said the number of children in Christian and homeschools is approximately thirty five percent. The published figures, he said, of eleven percent represent just those who are in accredited non-state schools. That number has grown smaller while those in the schools who refuse to submit to the state has grown steadily. And of course since that time the homeschool population has exploded. [00:20:30]

[Man speaking] Please turn over the cassette at this

[Man speaking] Please turn over the cassette at this time and continue the lecture.

[Rushdoony] And of course since that time the homeschool population has exploded. Well that’s an area where we are winning. Then it’s been gratifying to see that Christians are returning to the sphere of charity. The only way to replace welfare-ism is through Christian charity. On more than once in the past few years state officials have thrown up their hands in shock at what is happening with regards to welfare. They don’t say so publicly but in one state where we were about ten months, Dorothy and I, someone from the state said we had a meeting in which we were trying to cope with welfare. It’s eating up the state, it’s consuming a higher and higher percentage of our income, and nobody dares talk against it. And at this meeting someone said I’ve got the answer: let’s ask the church, let’s tell the churches to take back what they were once doing, full responsibility for the poor. And everyone said aye, right on, and so on. And then they sighed and went back to the impossible question of how to answer the problem. Well, one state, Mississippi, under Governor Fordice, asks the churches to try and take back responsibility in their own neighborhoods. A number of churches have; predominantly black churches. Now that’s a step in the right direction. It tells us something of what is happening. We’re seeing a major turnaround in the area of the family. More and more parents assuming the government of the family. Taking back jurisdiction over their children, doing it quietly and firmly as to not to attract state attention, but doing remarkable things with their children. And some of them are very intense about this, I saw the sign as we were coming down 101 yesterday, the car next to us, and it said ‘Kill TV’. [Laughter] But things are happening in the area of the family. [00:23:47]

And the children that are going Christian homeschools

And the children that are going Christian homeschools represent a totally different generation then that of a few years ago. It’s a marvelous thing to see. Well in one area after another the Christian witness his arriving in politics, you’ll hear about that after a while from power from [unintelligible]. We are in the midst of dramatic changes. You are a part of the Christian renewal, its effect will not be overnight but it will be dramatic. I wonder how many of you have read a very remarkable book, Law and Revolution by Howard Berman. How many? A few of you. Well you know it’s one of the most important books of our time. What Berman did in that ground breaking book and in a sense he (I don’t know his age) represents teachings in his academic background similar to mine because he acknowledges that the three major influences on him was the writings of George William Hunston, one of my professors when he was here in Berkeley, and [Unintelligible Name] of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, now dead, and he was my teacher at Berkeley, and then [Russian name I can’t spell] of Dartmouth, now dead also. I never studied him but I corresponded with him and he expressed great interest in my first book, By What Standard. Those three were the major influences on Berman. Now what did Berman do in his book Law and Revolution? He wrote that the great legal revolution of Western Culture, of Christendom, Western civilization, whatever you want to call it, came about with the formulation of the doctrine of atonement in its classical form. The first great expression of that was early on by Anslem, Saint Anslem of Canterbury, and then the finished formulation with John Calvin. [00:26:51]

Now, what was done by those men and some other figures

Now, what was done by those men and some other figures in between was to call attention to the fundamental premise of biblical law which comes to focus in the atonement. So that the atonement and God’s law are essentially and inseparably related. What is it? Restitution. This is the premise of the law. That’s why the law of God requires restitution or the death penalty. And restitution was from double to fivefold depending on the nature of the crime. And if a person did not make restitution or could not he became a bond servant to work off his restitution. Well, once the doctrine of the atonement was understood then the law was understood. And it became essential to medieval man that restitution be embodied in the whole structure of society. Now of course they went overboard on it in that they carried it to an extreme theologically, beyond scripture, in that they developed the doctrine of purgatory to have restitution in the world to come. There they failed to understand that the atonement in relationship to God wipes out our sins. But in relationship to man there must be restitution. But Berman points out in his work that the foundation of the whole of the western legal system has been restitution. Now the breach in that came with the Quakers and their idea of the prison cell. The cell, the word comes from monastery cell; the prisoner was to meditate on the inner light according to Quaker doctrine was going to reform him…which was of course nonsense. It was the beginning of the leftist trend in Western law that replaced law with therapy. And today increasingly law is giving way to therapy, the therapeutic state. Now somewhere I don’t know exactly where in his writings, Berman has stated that if we do not have a Christian renewal that will take us back to God’s law and to restitution we will in the early twenty first century disintegrate into a dark age, a grim and long lasting one. About thirty some years ago an extremely important, very powerful, and dedicated Christian leader, a business man, a corporate head, asked me to visit him at his winter residence in Arizona near a golf course. I went there early in the morning and spent the day with him and he asked me a great deal of questions and expressed his opinion that the direction we were taking was such that we would spend a couple of centuries in the most frightful Dark Age of all history. Being polite I did not question him but I said very emphatically to myself ‘not if by God’s grace I can help it’. I do believe we are going to see a turnaround. I do believe it’s going to be a lot worse before it gets better. But I believe that we are going to see a dramatic turnaround and you’re a part of it. So I’m not pessimistic about the future in the long term, I’m very hopeful. Short term we’re in for some real troubles of our own making. We will pay a price for our sins, as we should. Although I don’t like paying for your sins! [Laughter] [00:32:33]

It’s enough to pay for mine

It’s enough to pay for mine! [Laughter] But I am greatly heartened and encouraged by what is happening. We live in an exciting time. At the end of intellectual schizophrenia which came out, I think, in ’59 I wrote that I did see great troubles ahead, yes. But that it was an exciting and wonderful time to be alive because the old order was and is dying. It is a time for rebuilding, for reconstruction. And while it is a hard time to live in it’s a very exciting time, never a dull moment. Well, in the days ahead more than ever there will never be a dull moment. There will be some mighty good ones, very good ones, in spite of the bad ones. Thank you for being a part of that change. [Applause] [00:34:13]

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