Book Review: The Institutes Of Biblical Law: Volume Three: The Intent Of The Law

The Institutes Of Biblical Law:  Volume Three:  The Intent Of The Law, by Rousas John Rushdoony

Most books by Theonomist authors [1] tend to be somewhat long, but one of the things I have appreciated about this author is that he can write a short book on occasion.  Mind you, some of his books are really long, but he at least knew how to write a short and succinct book.  Someone needs to teach that lesson to some of his compatriots.  Not only is the book itself relatively short at a standard 200 pages in length, but the book itself is composed of bite-sized commentaries on different aspects of law.  To be sure, the book is a Theonomist book, which means that it talks about grace but doesn’t show itself to be particularly gracious to others, and misrepresents Arminian thought as it is wont to do, but the advantage of dealing with a book of this size in this form is that one can read it without getting too upset at the author’s lengthy discussion.  Instead you get small and insightful examinations about how our society would be benefited by the enforcement of God’s laws in our society.  Of course, as a Theonomist, the author believes that there will be a reformation in society apart from the return of Jesus Christ.

The roughly 200 pages of this book are made up of 74 short chapters that average a bit under 3 pages apiece.  The essays themselves examine a broad degree of subjects, including references to European history (King Alfred and Vlad the Impaler), a wide variety of biblical laws including the Sabbath laws and food flaws, concerns about antinomianism and polytheism and natural law.  The author is hostile to Greek philosophy even though the general approach of writers of Theonomy tends to be high on the cerebral and low on the kinder, gentle virtues of mercy and longsuffering.  The author was writing this book shortly before his death, and it shows that the author was a bit too tired to carry on his material to the length that he originally planned, but it’s still an impressive book and the content of this book is something well worth appreciating.  The author comes off as pretty tough-minded, but not unreasonable.  If I wrote about God’s law and its application to contemporary society with an expectation of internal societal reformation in order to fulfill God’s millennial problems and didn’t have a great deal of empathy or compassion, what I wrote would probably be a lot like this.

So, will you appreciate this book as much as I did?  Do you have a great deal of respect for God’s law?  Do you enjoy seeing harsh writing about the decline of society and have more tolerance for the logical flaws of the author–such as continual references to the unbiblical Triune God–than the author has for those logical flaws that others have?  If so, there is a good chance you will like this book a fair bit.  There are a few people who might want more of this author than this book provides, and those people will likely find some of the author’s several dozen other books.  But for those who find it a bit difficult to read nearly a thousand pages at a time in a book, this book gives a bite-sized critique of contemporary culture that includes personal stories, historical analysis, and biblical exegesis.  If you like what this book has to say, you will find at least a few essays to appreciate.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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