Law & Liberty, by Rousas John Rushdoony
This book has an interesting history as part of the intensely prolific writings of this fairly typically prolific Theonomist writer. Given originally as a series of radio addresses in the 1960’s, these books give a fair picture of the somewhat pointed relationship that Theonomists tend to have with people regarding issues of faith and politics. Although it is not uncommon for me to read or reflect upon God’s laws or humanistic corruptions of law , I tend to do so from a far different perspective than that of this author. After all, those who tend towards the postmillennial optimism of the author and others like him are faced in the difficult position where they must continually rake others over the coals concerning the political systems of this world. Those who believe in a premillennial return of Jesus Christ to destroy the regimes of this world and set up a godly one under His rule have no such burden of engaging this world’s corrupt political systems as rivals, because such regimes have an expiration date. In large part, this approach accounts for a great deal of the stridency this work has concerning our existing political order. That is not to say that the author is wrong, but rather that this book lacks the charity that comes from viewing the political systems of this world as being consigned to the dustbin of prophecy.
The almost two hundred pages of this book consist of thirty-two short chapters that revolve around questions of biblical law and politics. Throughout the book the author reflects upon such questions as the inescapable nature of legislating morality, the sanctity of life, pornography, and the relationship between law and nature, the future, authority, chaos, evolution, alchemy, academic freedom, magic, government, and property. The author spends quite a bit of time talking about the family and its functions and relations to property, the relationship between custom and morality, and some fiercely critical comments against Communism and socialism. You’re not going to go to a work by Theonomists, not even as accessible as this one, for warm and fuzzy encouragement. There is a certain strident tone and harshness that comes through loud and clear here that will likely convince readers that the authors lack the milk of human kindness and the love that is to mark genuine disciples of God. This is a fair criticism, but for those who are not offended by the brusque tone of the author, there is a great deal that can be gained here.
My own view of this book and others like it, and the uses to which I put these books to, is a sharpening of my own logic and rhetoric concerning God’s laws. This book does not contain a great deal of scriptural exegesis, nor is it concerned with a great deal of the specific case law of the Old Testament, although it is referred to at least in passing. Instead, this is a work on political philosophy and straightforwardly so. Do not read this book if you want to find out what God’s law says. The author certainly knows a lot about that subject, for it makes up the material to three volumes of material, but this book is not about God’s laws but rather the tendency of our contemporary political system to rebel against divine authority. This is a work on political philosophy, a sweeping and fierce condemnation of the existing political order. None of this makes for particularly pleasant reading, but it is of worth, even if one would wish that the author and others like him would spend more time in confessional mode and less time in accusatory mode. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, after all, is not a verse that is cited here and its spirit is not to be found in these pages. Wherever one is convicted of sin, though, with regards to the relationship between God’s laws and the authority of civil government, this book can certainly be of use to the tough-minded Christian with a high view of God’s law and a low view of our corrupt political establishment.
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