Conscience - RR131U37

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Conscience
Course: Course - Human Nature in its First Estate: Part III
Subject: Subject:Psychology
Lesson#: 16
Length: 0:45:06
TapeCode: RR131U37
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Human Nature in its First Estate Part III.jpg

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

[Dr. Rushdoony] Let us worship God. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father.

Let us pray. Almighty God our heavenly Father, who through Jesus Christ has freed us from the spirit of slavery and given us the spirit of adoption, we come therefore into Thy presence crying Abba, Father. Committing unto Thee all our wants and our wishes, our hopes and our failures, our sins and all things that we have rendered unto Thee in obedience to Thy Word. In Thy grace, mercy and wisdom, minister to us, bless and prosper us, and cause Thy face to shine upon us, that we may abound unto Thee. Grant our Father that our hearts be now open to sing Thy praise and to receive Thy Word. In Jesus name, Amen.

Our Scripture is 1st Timothy, the first chapter, verses 5 and 18 through 20, and then Titus 1, verses 15 and 16, and our subject, conscience. First of all, 1st Timothy 1:5, 18-20. 1st Timothy 1:5, 18-20, and then Titus 1, just two books over, verses 15 and 16. Now first from 1st Timothy 1:5. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. Verses 18-20; This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. [00:03:25]

Then the first chapter of Titus...

Then the first chapter of Titus. Titus 1:15, 16. Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

The idea of conscience is very familiar to us. So much so that we assume that when we talk about conscience, everyone everywhere in every age of history, would know what we are talking about. This is a very serious error. Because the idea of conscience that we have is a biblical idea. It does not exist outside of Scripture. When we go to other civilizations and other religions, looking for what we call conscience in their thinking, we find some rather strange things. For example. Among the Greeks, and Romans as well, conscience and consciousness meant the same thing. There was no difference in their meaning. To be conscious, to be alive, to be able to think, and to have a conscience, meant the same thing. Identical. With Plato this idea was developed somewhat, so that he held that all men, being conscious, have reason. And reason is a part of the consciousness of man. So that a good conscience was good thinking. To be truly conscious was to think logically. It had nothing to do with morality.

Among the Assyrians and Babylonians there was an awareness of sin. But no conscience as we know it. Because they did not see what we call sin as the responsibility of man. Among the Assyrians and Babylonians you can find in their literature a great deal of bewailing of misfortune and of troubles and of moral problems, but they do not see their moral responsibility. They blame it on the gods or on the stars or on the environment. [00:06:40]

They see moral problems as due to causes over which...

They see moral problems as due to causes over which man has no control. And as a result the Assyrians and Babylonians had nothing that we could call conscience. They had no idea of it. The Egyptians talked about conscience, but with the Egyptians conscience was tied to the state and the state law. In other words, morality and legality were one and the same. If you disobeyed Pharaoh, you had a bad conscience. In other words, it was entirely legalistic. Not moral. Not connected with God.

It is only when you come to Scripture that you find man thinking in terms of conscience, and this should not surprise us. After all, the explanation of Adam and Eve, when they had a bad conscience, was not to talk about conscience. The serpent did give me and I did eat. The woman did give me and I did eat. In other words, instead of saying we are here because we are troubled by our evil, they denied responsibility. And wherever in any civilization you have a denial of responsibility, you have a denial of conscience. This does not meant they do not have in their heart of hearts a bad conscience. They do not even admit that such a thing exists. The idea of a conscience, in other words, does not exist outside of the bible and those who are of a biblical faith. It is something inner and related to God, to the fact that man is a creature of God, and therefore at all points responsible to God and His Law. Paul in Romans 2, verses 28 and 29, says, for he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision that is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter. Whose praise if not of men but of God.

Now, St. Paul in these words said two things. First that the true believer is the true Jew. The Israelite of God in every age, the chosen people of God, call them Jew or Israelite, he uses both terms, are those who are such by faith. [00:09:47]

Then, he emphasized the inwardness of faith, of obedience...

Then, he emphasized the inwardness of faith, of obedience, of conscience. It’s not just a conformity outward to law, it is inward, it is from the heart. The right relationship of heart, mind and being, of faith and obedience, of faith and works, to God and His Word.

Now Mohammad, when he came in the 6th century, was familiar with the Bible. And what he did was to use the name of God, the God of Scripture, and talk about this being the true representative, his religion, of what of God had taught of old, and supposedly the Jews and Christians have falsified. But he paganized everything, because this was the first principle of Mohammad. He is a Moslem, a Mohammedan, who is one outwardly. Now this is the first premise of Islam. He is a Moslem who is one outwardly. What does that mean? You follow certain rites, you observe the Fast of Ramadan, you pray bowing toward Mecca daily, and you pronounce certain formula. And that’s all. This is why Mohammedans boast, and the black Moslems echo this boast in our midst today, that the Bible gives an impractical, impossible religion. But Mohammad gave something that any man could follow. That’s right. The most depraved man can be a Moslem. Because, as Mohammad said, he is a Moslem who is one outwardly. And of course practically what this came to mean was one who obeys Islam, the statist social order that is Mohammedanism. [00:12:26]

Now we shall see how important these pagan ideas are...

Now we shall see how important these pagan ideas are in our own time in a few minutes. But, to state again, biblical faith is grounded upon the fact that man is God’s creature, and is in all things, at all times and in all seasons, responsible to God. Inescapably therefore God has geared man to His Law. We live, move and have our being in God, St. Paul declares. So that man can never escape the fact that he was created by God to obey God, to serve and to magnify God. He cannot transgress the law of God without knowing and feeling it in his heart. However, much like Adam and Eve, he hides it and denies it. Man can no more escape conscience than he can escape the fact that God created him. But although man’s conscience cannot be silenced, it is dulled by sin. When this happens, it remains deep in his heart as a hidden inner enemy to his being. Hamlet saw this when he said, Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, And enterprises of great pith and moment with this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action.

In other words, when men stifle their conscience it paralyzes their action. The examples of this are many, of what happens to people when they deny their conscience. One of the things that I shall never be able to forget is a fellow student, when I was at Berkley some years ago. We were both taking a course on the Russian novel, and the book we were reading at that time was ’Crime and Punishment’. Now this young man was thinking exactly as Raskolnikov was in that book. Raskolnikov had decided that there was no such thing as God. Therefore there is no such thing as morality. Therefore a man can do as he pleases. Conscience is just a product of society. Of what the church and your teachers and your parents ram down your throat when you’re young. And the enlightened man, Raskolnikov held, can do anything, all things are possible to him. And so he set out to prove it, by murdering an old woman who he regarded as no better than a human louse. [00:15:45]

That her life was worthless and so he would prove that...

That her life was worthless and so he would prove that he could kill someone like that, socially worthless, and his conscience would not trouble him. But of course it did. And he found himself, wherever he went, haunted. Fearful. Pursued, in his mind and in his heart. And Dostoyevsky portrays this with great power and vividness. And this young man, as he was reading it, of course, identified himself so fully with Raskolnikov, because he believed in what Raskolnikov was doing, that it was almost as though he himself had committed the murder. And after lunch one day at noon, I was coming around the corner on Shaddock and Berkley, and there he was, he had just ducked around the corner, he’d been a little ways ahead of me and he ducked back and stood back against the corner, shaking a bit. And I went up to him and said, what’s the matter? And he began to swear at that so and so book. Why? He had started around the corner and there was a policeman a little ways down. And feeling like Raskolnikov, a murderer, having identified himself so thoroughly, when he saw the police officer, his conscience made him duck around the corner, afraid, lest he be spotted. He was so angry about the book that he dropped that course immediately and never finished the book. What he did become was a philosophy major and a professor of philosophy. And the last time I encountered him, he was teaching philosophy to justify his old position. He has suppressed his conscience. He denied that any such thing existed, except in a Freudian sense, as a product of what we are taught. He didn’t like feeling guilt, because he knew indeed he was one with Raskolnikov. The only difference between himself and Raskolnikov was that Raskolnikov actually, in the story, had committed a murder, and he had the courage not to do it, but he believed that it was valid. [00:18:30]

Conscience thus cannot be erased...

Conscience thus cannot be erased. Men will deny that it exists, or will say, as men do now, that it’s merely a social product. But it is there, however much suppressed. St. Paul speaks over and over again of the centrality of a good conscience to a good productive life. And repeatedly he drives home the point. He tells Timothy that the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart and of a good conscience. He speaks of holding the faith and a good conscience, which some having put away concerning faith that made shipwreck. A man, in other words, must have a good conscience before God. And his conscience is God oriented, not socially oriented. The necessity of a good conscience therefore, to a free and a godly life, is basic to everything that Scripture teaches. And a good conscience comes only when a man is regenerated by the saving power of God in Jesus Christ. Only when through the atoning work of Christ his sins are blotted out, his heart renewed, his conscience cleansed, and made thereafter responsive to God. A good conscience, St. Paul says over and over again, means soundness of faith, obedience to the law of God, and charity. A bad conscience means a bad faith or no faith, disobedience to God’s aw, and an uncharitable heart. St. Paul tells us further that when a man has a good conscience, he no longer says that impurity is in the world, or in things, or in the environment, he sees it in his heart. And the beginning of cleansing therefore has to be in his heart. Under the pure all things are pure. But under them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure. But their mind and conscience is defiled. [00:21:35]

Now St. John {?}, in speaking about these words, brought it home. And he said there are people who talk about the flesh, and anything connected with the flesh as being dirty. And he said this is sin on their part. There are people again, he said, who because we are commanded not to eat pork, talk about pork as being impure. But he said again, this is morally wrong. The impurity is not in things. It is in the use they are put to. And so, he concluded, in short, if we wish to be very nice, sanctimonious, everything is unclean. Otherwise if we please not to be nice, nothing is unclean. Yet all things are pure. God made nothing unclean, for nothing is unclean save sin only. For that reaches to the soul and defiles it. Other uncleanness is human prejudice. This then is uncleanness. They are themselves unclean. So it is here, when the soul is unclean it thinks all things unclean. Therefore scrupulous observances are no mark of purity. But it is the part of purity to be bold in all things. For he that is pure by nature ventures upon all things, they that are defiled upon nothing. This we may say against Marxian, seest thou that it is a mark of purity to be superior to all defilement, to touch nothing implies impurity. This holds even with respect to God. That he assumes flesh is a proof of purity, if through fear he had not taken it, there would have been proof of defilement. More over, what then is unclean, sin, malice, covetousness, wickedness. In other words, St. John of Christendom said, there is no dualism in Scripture. It’s not the pure spirit and impure matter. All things that God made were made pure and holy. The lack of holiness, the sin, is in the heart of man. And it is man who by putting things to uses not intended for them, brings about an impurity. [00:24:29]

An impure conscience in other words ascribes impurity...

An impure conscience in other words ascribes impurity to things rather than to itself. This is St. Paul’s assertion. The impure man is an environmentalist. He’s going to blame the system. It’s capitalism, or whatever is the system. It’s other people, it’s my parents. The environment. To the impure all things are impure, except themselves. But the godly, the pure, see all things as created by God, and it is man who when he denies God, it’s man when he sins, man when he is apostate, who renders things impure by his sin. St. Paul says further in Hebrews, that our conscience is purified from such dead works. By dead works he means this whole world of environmentalism. And of the niceties whereby you avoid the world because the world is that which is the source of impurity. And you take a holier than thou attitude. He says our conscience is purified from such dead works by the blood of Jesus Christ who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot or fault to God. And he goes on to say that Christ’s atonement cleanses our hearts from an evil conscience. He says again in Timothy, that an evil conscience is one seared with a hot iron. Now the expression, seared with a hot iron, is very interesting. This means that it has been so cauterized that it has lost all sensitiveness and failed to respond. A more literal translation could be, in modern language, branded in their own consciences with a hot iron. The imagery is drawn from the practice of branding slaves and certain criminals on their forehead with a mark.

St. Paul refers to this in 1st Timothy, the 4th chapter, the 2nd verse. And then he goes on to say, when he speaks of these people, speaking lies and hypocrisies, because they’ve been seduced by the doctrine of devils. Having their conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good and nothing to be refused but to be received with prayer, for it is sanctified by the word of God, and prayer. [00:27:42]

In other words, what St...

In other words, what St. Paul wrote to Timothy was this. That a religion which is geared to environmentalism, which does not see regeneration and a good conscience before God as the basics. We’ll say we’ll avoid sin by not marrying, because it’s women who pollute, or men who pollute you. So steer clear of those vile creatures. And we will avoid meat because meat will pollute you. Or we will avoid this, that and the other thing, as though things are the source of pollution, rather than men, from their hearts. By their apostasy from God, polluting themselves and the world.

Conscience thus, if it is not cleansed by God through Jesus Christ, will be impure. And will ascribe impurity to things, rather than to itself. And will thus turn the world upside down, morally. Conscience is geared either in faith in God, or holds an anti-God position. We began by pointing out the meaning of conscience in paganism. That they had no idea of conscience as we know it.

Let’s turn now to the dictionary of philosophy, and see how conscience is defined today. “Conscience is any emotionally toned experience in which a tendency to act is inhibited by a recognition, socially conditioned, that suffering evil consequences is likely to result from acting on the impulse to act.” Unquote. [00:30:12]

Conscience is purely a social product...

Conscience is purely a social product. That and nothing more. It’s what the church and your parents and the teachers have taught you. It has no relationship to God and to an absolute moral law. And so it is simply feelings. Without any substance, without any meaning. And these feelings are an inhibiting factor. So how to have a good conscience? Be rid of these inhibiting factors. Be truly sincere. And so sincerity is emphasized as the way to conscience. And so people are to surrender sincerely to their impulses and feelings.

One English girl of a very prominent family, in fact one of the great families of England, for which reason I will not mention the name, because she’s a thorough discredit to it, has created a stir in that country because she’s become a nude model, who poses there for magazines which are comparable to Playboy and is in fact on the staff of one or more such magazines. And she had justified her course by the statement, I quote, “I am permissive if that act means acting instinctively. Without reference to my establishment training. Person relationships are much more important to young people than plodding away in a little job. This is the one redeeming feature of our generation.” Unquote. In other words, you act instinctively. Why? Because if you are pure in your heart, then if you are true to your heart and you act instinctively, you’re alright. It’s only when you obey that horrible world of law that people say comes from God that you’re in trouble, and you’re not acting sincerely. This is conscience, a good conscience, in the eyes of modern humanist’s. In the eyes of the Marxist, the state, the dictatorship of the proletariat is reason incarnate, and they’ve gone back to Plato. So that if you want to obey right reason, you obey the dictatorship of the proletariat. And if you don’t, you should have a bad conscience. And this is why it’s so important for them, when they have a trial, to get the person who has been declared guilty, to make a confession. [00:33:40]

And to say how his conscience troubled him because...

And to say how his conscience troubled him because he violated the laws of the state, and now he wants to thank the prosecutor and the judge for having sentenced him and given him the opportunity to clear his conscience by saying, he violated the regulations of the state.

In other words, what we have today is conscience again made something that is the same as in the days of paganism. The only difference being, they’ve taken a word with the Christian connotation and attached it to totally pagan concepts. We cannot speak of conscience as meaning anything unless it is informed by the Word of God and the Spirit of God. Unless it leads men to a productive life and to faith, obedience and freedom before God. Conscience having its origin in God’s creative act can only thrive under God and His Law. Everything that we hold conscience to be will be suppressed and disappear into the dark hidden recesses of man’s guilt wherever the faith is denied, wherever there is no regeneration.

Let us pray. Almighty God our Heavenly Father, who of Thy grace and mercy has called us to be Thy people, and given us a good conscience in Christ before Thee. We thank Thee that Thou art He who by Thy grace daily cleanses us, frees us from the burden of sin and guilt. Who gives us the power to serve Thee and to magnify Thy holy name. Make us strong therefore our Father in Thy service. An instant in the commission of Thy work. And make us instrumental in the saving of men, women and children, to the end that men may glorify Thee with a good conscience, serve and magnify Thy holy name. In Jesus name, Amen. [00:36:30]

Are there any questions on our lesson? Yes...

Are there any questions on our lesson? Yes.


[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. That is to bewail the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. Those who are at the Wailing Wall are the Orthodox Jews. Now this is offensive to Israel, that they are there. But they are there because they feel that the modern Israel being a secular, humanistic state is nothing to rejoice about. And they have made it clear they will continue their wailing at the wall until Israel again becomes a godly state. So this is the reason for it. It’s mourning, rather than conscience.



[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. That was Daniel Webster, though. Yes. Daniel Webster and Margaret Fuller.


[Dr. Rushdoony] As Unitarians, Margaret Fuller and her son {?}, his associations of whom Emerson was a leading run, all had a wrong idea of conscience.

Any other comments or questions? Yes.


[Dr. Rushdoony] I can’t hear you…


[Dr. Rushdoony] Yes. These men, {?} and Alexander were two of Paul’s associates who at a critical point proved to be men without faith. And who, in their acts had clearly blasphemed God, so he said, I’ve given up on them, I’ve delivered them to Satan and to judgment. In other words, he said, in my prayers now, there’s no more prayer for them, I’ve told God to commit them to Satan, they’re his, let him do with them as he wishes. In other words, he washed his hands of them, he had no hope of them, he was not praying for them in any favorable sense. [00:39:52]

Well, we have just a very few minutes...

Well, we have just a very few minutes. There are a couple of things I would like to share with you. This from a Sacramento paper recently, in which K.W. Lee, of the Sacramento Union conducted a story of how easily a man obtained food stamps, even though the advocate is worth two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, travels a lot, vacations in Bermuda and Mexico, has a fifty thousand dollar home, has an office and secretary, and has an annual income of from thirty-five to fifty thousand. About a month ago, the man visited a food stamp center in San Jose, to talk to a nice social worker about 26 or 27 years of age. The social worker had long hair, a beard and an earring in his left ear and claimed to have a degree in music. The applicant showed the social worker his records, expenses and bills. The applicant explained his two thousand dollar a month expenses and his annual income. Earring in the ear said the annual income didn’t matter, it was the income of the previous month that counted. The applicant explained he was anticipating a big check and had gotten back from a vacation in Bermuda. The social worker said, according to his calculation, the application had no income. Earring in the ear mailed the man a hundred and six dollars of food stamps for two dollars. The stamps are now being mailed regularly. In this case the man took in his records, and all because he had heard just about anybody could get food stamps, and he proved it could be done.

Then this letter to the {?} News from a doctor in Woodland Hills, which I think is very good. It’s about abortion. And he gives a summary of a report by Dr. Ian Donald, Glasgow University, England, reporting on twenty thousand legal abortions in England, where the method is the same as ours. We can look forward to this legal abortion being the dominant cause of death to young women. More simply stated, this means that a world wide study of legal abortions with methods the same as ours, reveal that one or two deaths out of every one thousand women having abortions, nine percent sterility, fourteen percent subsequent habitual spontaneous miscarriages during wanted pregnancies, four hundred percent increase in tubal pregnancies. It was estimated that hospitals kill four to eight out of one thousand mothers who have abortions. [00:42:55]

And a cross section of the general population, about...

And a cross section of the general population, about ten to fifteen percent of all marriages will be childless for a wide variety of reasons. This is the sort of information that simply has not been printed in newspapers here, made known to our hospital records, through popular magazines or in other ways, because liberalists have succeeded in not having legislation that would make such investigation on abortion practices, {?} statistics available for public knowledge.

Then one very important announcement, or rather, two. We will have our history class again this Wednesday at the {?} home. This Saturday, at 6 pm, at the Tuesday afternoon club meeting, {?} Central, and the announcements are on the lectern in the back. We will have our annual Chalcedon Guild Christmas Festival. And we do urge you to come and to pass the word onto your friends, concerning our Festival.

Let us bow our heads now for the benediction. 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.