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Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony (1916-2001) was a well-known American scholar, writer, and author of over thirty books. He held B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of California and received his theological training at the Pacific School of Religion. An ordained minister, he worked as a missionary among Paiute and Shoshone Indians as well as a pastor to two California Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony (1916-2001) was a well-known American scholar, writer, and author of over thirty books. He held B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of California and received his theological training at the Pacific School of Religion. An ordained minister, he worked as a missionary among Paiute and Shoshone Indians as well as a pastor to two California churches. He founded the Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world-at-large. His writing in the Chalcedon Report and his numerous books spawned a generation of believers active in reconstructing the world to the glory of Jesus Christ. Until his death, he resided in Vallecito, California, where he engaged in research, lecturing, and assisting others in developing programs to put the Christian Faith into action.


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Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony (1916-2001) was a well-known American scholar, writer, and author of over thirty books. He held B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of California and received his theological training at the Pacific School of Religion. An ordained minister, he worked as a missionary among Paiute and Shoshone Indians as well as a pastor to two California Rousas John (R. J.) Rushdoony (1916-2001) was a well-known American scholar, writer, and author of over thirty books. He held B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of California and received his theological training at the Pacific School of Religion. An ordained minister, he worked as a missionary among Paiute and Shoshone Indians as well as a pastor to two California churches. He founded the Chalcedon Foundation, an educational organization devoted to research, publishing, and cogent communication of a distinctively Christian scholarship to the world-at-large. His writing in the Chalcedon Report and his numerous books spawned a generation of believers active in reconstructing the world to the glory of Jesus Christ. Until his death, he resided in Vallecito, California, where he engaged in research, lecturing, and assisting others in developing programs to put the Christian Faith into action.

30 review for The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 1 of 3

  1. 5 out of 5

    John

    The law in the Old Testament is often treated as an embarrassing thing by Christians and the church. There are those that look down upon it, and it is easy to be thankful one is not a Jew under the obligations of the Old Testament law. Secularists often point to things like the condemnation of cloths made with two materials, no sex with a menstruating wife, laws against homosexuality, and on and on. Too often Christians join in the ridicule and dismiss the goodness of God’s law. Along comes R.J. The law in the Old Testament is often treated as an embarrassing thing by Christians and the church. There are those that look down upon it, and it is easy to be thankful one is not a Jew under the obligations of the Old Testament law. Secularists often point to things like the condemnation of cloths made with two materials, no sex with a menstruating wife, laws against homosexuality, and on and on. Too often Christians join in the ridicule and dismiss the goodness of God’s law. Along comes R.J. Rushdoony who argues that the Old Testament law is not only good, but it is still in force today for Christians. Shock! Contempt! Disdain! Folly! The chorus of boos has been instantaneous and unceasing since the release of The Institutes of Biblical Law. But to dismiss Rushdoony out of hand is to imperil the voice of the church, faithfulness to Scripture, and the order of society. Rushdoony does argue for permanence of Old Testament law and its enforcement today. The book is largely a commentary on the Ten Commandments and the related statutes in the Old Testament. He also studies the New Testament applications of Old Testament law. The book is strikingly broad in scope, persuasive, and bold. Rushdoony knows the Scriptures and has clearly done his research. His unfolding of the biblical law is masterful and helpful. He rightly rebukes those that dismiss the goodness of law and those that dismiss the force of the law today. The Old Testament law was a good thing, and to believe otherwise is to reject the God of the law. Rushdoony asserts that there are three options: anarchy, legalism, and biblical law. Antinomians favor anarchy in principle, though they may abhor the designation. Legalists, such as the Pharisees, make their own law. Statists are the modern day legalists. They create their own law which must be totalitarian in nature, otherwise it has no power. Power is absolute or nonexistent. The final option is biblical law. Biblical law brings true freedom because it puts man in his proper state as under the authority of God, but above that of nature. Rushdoony rejects natural law as a compromise position. It is better than anarchy or legalism, but will eventually give way to one or the other. It is not a fixed position. The book is not wholly concerned with civil law, as one might expect. Rushdoony argues that all law—civil, ecclesiastical, and family law is law under the authority of God. So he spends time examining the family in the context of the commandments as well as the church. There is a chapter on elders and church government. One of the most helpful portions of the book in my mind is on marriage and the roles of man and wife in the context of marriage. I began the book very sympathetic to Rushdoony’s position, though reluctant to accept his argument that the Old Testament law continues in force today in a mostly unchanged way. I am now persuaded that biblical law is the only true law, but I believe that Rushdoony is wrong in maintaining that the Old Testament law is left unchanged today. Rushdoony too often musters the support of advocates of biblical law without recognizing that he is putting words into their mouths. He quotes many people in favor of biblical law throughout history, but doesn’t seem to recognize that their positions may be nuanced in ways that would actually disagree with his position. What I mean by this, is that Rushdoony argues that you either favor his articulation of biblical law or you are antinomian. There is no middle ground to be found. Either the Old Testament law is in force today in his flattened, hyper-covenantal way, or you are an antinomian. I reject Rushdoony’s dichotomy. The Bible does not require, nor does it teach such polarities. Rushdoony argues that Christ’s fulfilling the law in no way terminates the Mosaic covenant. Instead, he argues that Gentiles are now folded into that covenant and must continue the covenantal obligations. This is a flattening of Scripture and a misunderstanding of Christ’s ministry. Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law because Israel, nor any man, could not. The law is superceded in that it is now complete. We are dead to law and live by the Spirit. But where Rushdoony would say this is antinomianism, I argue it is covenant fulfillment. Christians are not required to fulfill the covenant obligations from the Mosaic covenant, but are to live under the force of New Covenant obligations. The obligations are similar, but different because of Christ’s fulfillment of the Old Testament law, his death, burial, and resurrection. Tom Ascol, in two very helpful blog posts demonstrates that the Ten Commandments were enforced prior to their delivery to Moses, and they are still in force today: http://tomascol.com/the-ten-commandme... http://tomascol.com/the-ten-commandme... Rushdoony makes the same claim, arguing that God told Adam his law. Yet the Bible does not actually say this. Still, God judged man according to the same law he later articulated to Moses. There are massive implications here and Rushdoony makes the assumption that God delivered this law to Adam. Maybe he did—but maybe Adam understood these laws because he understood God’s character? Maybe it is a form of natural law? God is eternal and his law is derived and reflective of his character. On this all Christians should be able to agree. God judged early man by the same standard he delivered to Moses, and still judges man today by the same standard. The difference is that in the Mosaic covenant he delivered a specific law to a specific people, at a specific time. The laws found in the Mosaic covenant are more detailed with extensive case law for broad application that taught the character of God in manifold ways. These laws were designed to set apart Israel from the nations around it and to act as a “guardian until Christ came” (Gal. 3:24). Israel had to live by faith, trusting that by their obedience to law, they would be justified. This was an act of faith—in the same way Christians today are justified. We are told to live by faith—believing that Christ’s death and resurrection brings the same declaration of justification. So while God’s law is still in force today, it is not in force in the hyper-covenantal manner that Rushdoony articulates. God’s law cannot change because he does not change. What changed is the progressive revelation to man of God’s character and his eternal plan for the redemption of man through the death and resurrection of His Christ. So rather than simply applying Old Testament law to the New Testament era in a flattened way, we must understand the law in light of Christ’s fulfillment of the law and the New Testament Scriptures. Yes, this leaves certain questions and it is difficult to actually search the Scriptures and apply it to us today. But how is this significantly different from what Israel had to do? Israel had case law that they had to understand and apply. We do the same thing today. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:7-9 ESV) God gave a wonderful gift to Israel when he delivered his law. He gave them an explicit picture of his character and his standards. God’s greater gift was Christ, who fulfilled the law when man could not. The standard is left, but there is forgiveness because of Christ. Let us look to Christ, and to his law because they are both given by the same God. Rushdoony is right that by surrendering biblical law, we are left with anarchy or statism. Natural law is not viable. Leaving the law to reason is dangerous in that law is left to “the wise” and Christ came to humble the wise. Let us instead apply the Word of God to all of life. But let us not ignore Christ’s myriad accomplishments including his fulfillment of the law. John Frame is right when he says, “Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law is a big book, with great strengths and great weaknesses.” And we’ll have to start taking Rushdoony seriously. If not, we will continue to wander in the desert of statist law. Don’t miss John Frame’s excellent review: http://www.frame-poythress.org/the-in...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Warning to Evangeligoopies: this is not the book you're looking for. Go back to your Max Lucado, Joel Osteen and Daily Bread devotionals for your self-affirmation and your warm fuzzies. 'Cause you won't find it here. Certified 100% goop-free reading. Warning to Evangeligoopies: this is not the book you're looking for. Go back to your Max Lucado, Joel Osteen and Daily Bread devotionals for your self-affirmation and your warm fuzzies. 'Cause you won't find it here. Certified 100% goop-free reading.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Excellent.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ian Hodge

    Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law follows his earlier books outlining the influence of Greek and neoplatonic thought into modern culture, and therefore modern Christianity. Rushdoony saw clearly two choices: man's law or God's law. He recognized that non-biblical thought had misdirected everyone's attention from the unified covenants of the Bible. This book is an attempt to explain God's Law (Torah). Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law follows his earlier books outlining the influence of Greek and neoplatonic thought into modern culture, and therefore modern Christianity. Rushdoony saw clearly two choices: man's law or God's law. He recognized that non-biblical thought had misdirected everyone's attention from the unified covenants of the Bible. This book is an attempt to explain God's Law (Torah).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter Bringe

    This is a seminal book on understanding biblical law, its way of life, and applying it to civilization. Rushdoony's writing is unique and insightful. I don't always agree with his positions, but even in those places he is beneficial to read. You do have to pay careful attention to his line of thought, as it isn't always conventional. Also, it is pretty amazing how well-read Rushdoony is, which gives him a very practical edge on applying biblical law. "The goal of atonement, of redemption, is the This is a seminal book on understanding biblical law, its way of life, and applying it to civilization. Rushdoony's writing is unique and insightful. I don't always agree with his positions, but even in those places he is beneficial to read. You do have to pay careful attention to his line of thought, as it isn't always conventional. Also, it is pretty amazing how well-read Rushdoony is, which gives him a very practical edge on applying biblical law. "The goal of atonement, of redemption, is the rule of God over a kingdom wholly subject to the law of the covenant, and joyfully so....Without the dimension of law, life is denied the meaning and purpose of re-birth." (p. 73)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Hayes

    One of the most significant books I have ever read. I've made all my children read it, and I've done book studies through it twice. Rushdoony at his best! One of the most significant books I have ever read. I've made all my children read it, and I've done book studies through it twice. Rushdoony at his best!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steve Hemmeke

    I was quite taken aback to begin reading the introduction to the Institutes of Biblical Law and find Calvin’s view of the law dubbed “heretical nonsense” (9). Rushdoony pulls no punches. Surveying the 10 commandments for 650 pages, and then turning to the use of the law throughout Scripture for another 200, Rushdoony is an insightful cultural critic and decent exegete, but his theological view of the law within the entire scope of Scripture is off kilter. There is a wealth of information on the Te I was quite taken aback to begin reading the introduction to the Institutes of Biblical Law and find Calvin’s view of the law dubbed “heretical nonsense” (9). Rushdoony pulls no punches. Surveying the 10 commandments for 650 pages, and then turning to the use of the law throughout Scripture for another 200, Rushdoony is an insightful cultural critic and decent exegete, but his theological view of the law within the entire scope of Scripture is off kilter. There is a wealth of information on the Ten Commandments, applied throughout Scripture and today. He helpfully explains the principle behind obscure and bizarre (sounding to moderns) laws. The danger of doing getting so specific is inferring too much from the law, and Rushdoony falls into this plenty often, I think. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment.” This leads to transvestites, but starts with confusing gender roles. So, men shouldn’t do “woman’s work” (437), for example. It’s good to apply every Word of God specifically, and in every legitimate way possible, but we may not infer too much from a text. Scripture must interpret Scripture. In this example, we note the Proverbs 31 woman makes forays into “man’s work,” but it isn’t her primary activity. A man can help his wife with the dishes without violating Scripture! Theologically, everything leads back to the paramount law for Rushdoony, whether it is grace, communion, baptism, etc. An example: “The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is the renewal of the covenant so that the sacrament itself re-establishes the law" (7). That's just a strange way to put things. Love and covenant relationship is the point, more than the law. The sacraments re-affirm the ongoing relationship IN SPITE of our law breaking. They are sacraments of the covenant of grace. This phrase gives me a queer feeling that for Rushdoony the law is the end all and be all of religion. This often feels like Judaizing, and contrary to Paul’s letters and the book of Hebrews, to which he seldom refers. It feels like it, but it is not. His view of grace cancelling the punishments of the law appears to be orthodox elsewhere, though he places much more emphasis on the use of the law in society. He hammers away at Romans 8:4, that the righteous requirement of the law is meant to be fulfilled in us, and this is needed in our day. He just does it in a way that makes you think the law is the end-all and be-all of Christianity, which it isn’t. He denies any place for common grace: that the unregenerate can come to some wisdom in governing men and nations. A society is either founded on the Law-Word of God and faithful, or it is looking to the wisdom of man and it is apostate. This is certainly clear, but too either-or. What if states are free to apply the “general equity” of God’s law, as Westminster and Calvin taught? He is quick to throw out the charge of antinomianism, and the church HAS fallen into sin by claiming to be under grace. But Rushdoony charges the mainstream Reformed position that the state is not held to enforce the whole of Biblical law as antinomian. Rushdoony is very influential in my circles. He gives you a clear place to stand (or a way to fight) in a morally degenerating culture: the law. As the church finds herself increasingly in a “bread and circuses” culture, she is more susceptible to over-responding into the Donatist and ascetic heresies. I’m not calling Rushdoony a Donatist or heretic in any other way. But he does make some grandiose claims for how the law can preserve and save a society. I would like to interact positively with his views, especially asking which laws are binding on individuals and on the state today (without the charge of antinomianism being applied for even asking the question), while toning down the “silver bullet” expectations that just going back to the law will solve our problems. The law is a real piece of the solution, as is the Church, and especially the Spirit working repentance and grace in the heart. There is too much for a short review. Insightful exegesis is mixed with off balance theology. This continues in the appendices by Gary North. John Frame sums it up best: “Yes, we must not substitute love for law; but we had better not substitute law for love either. Yes, love may be defined in terms of law; but the requirement of the law is also summarized and defined in the love-commandment…. A bit more “sympathy” with people and a bit less preoccupation with legal rights would greatly improve his treatment of these matters…. Rushdoony has been so preoccupied with the question of the authority of the law that he has missed some very weighty elements of biblical teaching…. he tends to set himself off so sharply from other Reformed thinkers that he is not in a very good position to benefit from their counsel. Nor are they in a good position to benefit from his.” See here for my previous thoughts on Rushdoony http://hemmeke.blogspot.com/search?q=... See here for John Frame’s excellent and more indepth review of this book. http://www.frame-poythress.org/the-in...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josiah Russell

    I may not necessarily agree with every point made in this book but I really enjoy reading Rushdoony’s work and think the modern church is really doing itself a disservice by neglecting it. I also found Gary North’s small essay and critique at the end on ‘strict sabbatarianism’ very thought provoking. Overall it is quite a large volume but well worth the time to read. Definitely recommend.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    My feelings about Calvinism are not very hidden.  I'm pretty open about them, and the thoughts tend towards the negative [1].  This book, at 850 pages, is a good reason as to why this is the case.  Few books are as frustrating as this one is, with a great deal of wisdom and insight on the level of broad theory and approach and such terrible interpretation of scripture and history on the specific level.  Few books combine such a pitiless and remorseless logic with such a nauseating lack of self-a My feelings about Calvinism are not very hidden.  I'm pretty open about them, and the thoughts tend towards the negative [1].  This book, at 850 pages, is a good reason as to why this is the case.  Few books are as frustrating as this one is, with a great deal of wisdom and insight on the level of broad theory and approach and such terrible interpretation of scripture and history on the specific level.  Few books combine such a pitiless and remorseless logic with such a nauseating lack of self-awareness.  This is a book all about condemning sinners of various stripes--and there are many--yet it manages at every turn to condemn the author and those who think like him, if that crowd was reflective enough to see it and take heed.  The author, and especially Gary North, who writes some of the supporting material at the end of this massive book, are the worst kind of antinomians in existence--first they try to overawe the reader with rhetorical blasts about supposedly having a so much more consistent and high-minded view of the law than everyone else, before seeking to wiggle out through fallacious reasoning from obedience to God's laws, ending up being as disobedient as ordinary sinners but far more strident and harsh.   In terms of its contents, this book makes for a fairly good representative of the work of Christian reconstructionists in terms of its size and difficulty.  Most of the book consists of the author giving a discussion about the ten commandments and tying them to the author's own political and economic agendas which are themselves not biblical.  In reading this book, one gets a lot more information about how the author feels about culture and politics than about the Bible, and where the Bible is discussed, the general rule of thumb to approach this book is that where the author is discussing broad overall themes and approaches it is quite good but when the author is discussing specific applications of biblical law then the approach is usually misguided.  A few examples should suffice.  The author, when talking about lying, chooses as his example the historical fact that six million or so Jews died in the Holocaust as being a lie by virtue of being an exaggeration, making a doubly unsatisfactory point in lying through Holocaust denial and minimization while simultaneously falsely accusing someone else of lying.  The author's open admiration for the John Birch Society and the author's conflation of coveting and stealing so as to deny the aspect of covetousness speaking to the heart are similarly poor efforts.  Gary North's openly avowed antinomian approach to the Sabbath is one of the worst examples of biblical exegesis that can be found in any book pretending to be Christian, and all the more galling in light of the elevated claims for having a high degree of regard for God's laws that can be found here. So, what does one get out of this book?  Why would someone take the time to read 850 pages of densely argued and intellectually dishonest work?  I can see at least two reasons for reading this book and others like it.  First, this book offers some useful rhetorical arguments for obeying God's law in the broad stroke, and offers some worthwhile criticism of many of the tendencies of both church and state in these corrupt days that are worthy of appreciation, however unworthy the author is at making those points given his own hypocrisy and blindness.  Even more to the point, though, this book is an object lesson in how unpleasant the self-righteous are.  In ridiculing and attacking the Pharisees, the author points at least as many fingers at himself and his associates as he points at those legalistic blind guides.  The way that the author beclowns himself through being blind to his own sins and faults while being unmerciful towards the sins and faults of others is a tendency that no would-be critic is immune to, and seeing how badly this book fares as an explanation of how to apply God's timeless laws in contemporary society while also being loving and gracious to others is a reminder to every reader that without the grace of God, we could be Calvinists too. [1] See, for example: https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2012... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017... https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    RJR does an excellent job contrasting Biblical law with humanistic law. He also opens up the decalogue beyond what most would have ever considered. He does this by bringing in specific case laws and then applying them to contemporary situations. In doing this, RJR honors the Westminster Divine who wrote that the law passed away with Israel, except for where the general equity applies. Apparently there is lots of general equity. A couple of shortcomings keep it from being 5-star. One is his tende RJR does an excellent job contrasting Biblical law with humanistic law. He also opens up the decalogue beyond what most would have ever considered. He does this by bringing in specific case laws and then applying them to contemporary situations. In doing this, RJR honors the Westminster Divine who wrote that the law passed away with Israel, except for where the general equity applies. Apparently there is lots of general equity. A couple of shortcomings keep it from being 5-star. One is his tendency to find a nuanced definition or interpretation and building a case on that. Another is his unwillingness to admit that Jesus Himself and the vision to Peter revealed a passing-away of the dietary laws. For RJR to state that Peters vision did not annul dietary laws is to hold a position beyond that which Scripture permits. Still, much more good and applicable than not.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy Walker

    R. J. Rushdoony is a modern day Moses. This book is the foundational book for all his other many writings. As Rushdoony has said before, "Christ does not save men in order to make them moral idiots." Rushdoony desires for the world to have true revival, and revival comes when men are called out of their lawless living, back into obedience to the law of God. We do not obey God so that we may be saved, we obey the law of God because we have been saved. Read Rushdoony R. J. Rushdoony is a modern day Moses. This book is the foundational book for all his other many writings. As Rushdoony has said before, "Christ does not save men in order to make them moral idiots." Rushdoony desires for the world to have true revival, and revival comes when men are called out of their lawless living, back into obedience to the law of God. We do not obey God so that we may be saved, we obey the law of God because we have been saved. Read Rushdoony

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    YAY I AM DONE! *does happy dance* The Institute of Bibical Law is truly a facinating read, it stretched my thoughts and opinions to a remarkable extent, and I have a better grasp of the Bible because of it. It was, though, long and I often struggled to finish it. While adjetives like "facinating" or "fantastic" might be a bit more enthusastic then the book deserves, it certainly is an educational read that the you can't help but learn from. YAY I AM DONE! *does happy dance* The Institute of Bibical Law is truly a facinating read, it stretched my thoughts and opinions to a remarkable extent, and I have a better grasp of the Bible because of it. It was, though, long and I often struggled to finish it. While adjetives like "facinating" or "fantastic" might be a bit more enthusastic then the book deserves, it certainly is an educational read that the you can't help but learn from.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rkeddins

    Excellent book on understanding God's law and how it applies to society and the believer. This book has greatly developed my understanding of biblical law. It is so important in understanding both covenants that I've used it as a family study. Excellent book on understanding God's law and how it applies to society and the believer. This book has greatly developed my understanding of biblical law. It is so important in understanding both covenants that I've used it as a family study.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Father Steve

    Rushdoony does it for me.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Hadley

    A masterwork.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frank Brito

    Excellent!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonah

    A great work.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gwen Saunders

    Best book ever written on Biblical Law.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Felipe

    Excelente! Fantástico!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    Foundational. Every high school student should read this.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Doug Ramsburg

    This is my favorite book besides the Bible. Rushdoony shows how God's law should be applied to modern day society like now one I have ever read! This is my favorite book besides the Bible. Rushdoony shows how God's law should be applied to modern day society like now one I have ever read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    G.M. Burrow

    Boy, this was a long time ago. All I know is that I liked it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aurora Grace

    Rushdoony's most comprehensive and important work. Dominionism progressed from Kuyper to Machen to Van Til, and from Van Til to Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer. In this book, Rushdoony tries to establish dominionism, opposes interracial marriage, and flirts with holocaust denial. He advocates the murder of anyone found to have violated the laws of the Old Testament and supports the systematic suppression of anything except his own view of Christian faith. While he does not want the church to rul Rushdoony's most comprehensive and important work. Dominionism progressed from Kuyper to Machen to Van Til, and from Van Til to Rushdoony and Francis Schaeffer. In this book, Rushdoony tries to establish dominionism, opposes interracial marriage, and flirts with holocaust denial. He advocates the murder of anyone found to have violated the laws of the Old Testament and supports the systematic suppression of anything except his own view of Christian faith. While he does not want the church to rule the state, he does advocate for a theocratic state based on medieval feudalism.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Brie Donning

    A heavy book, controversial at points, definitely made me think. I've got a clearer understanding of Bibcal law and how it could be applied, along with history of how it has been applied, how it has been attacked, and how it still is applied. Especially interesting were the chapter.on the 7th Commandment, dealing with the roles of men and women, and an essay in the appendices on bribery and the heresies of humanism, moralism, and legalism. Legalism is actually like magic, and not the innocent fan A heavy book, controversial at points, definitely made me think. I've got a clearer understanding of Bibcal law and how it could be applied, along with history of how it has been applied, how it has been attacked, and how it still is applied. Especially interesting were the chapter.on the 7th Commandment, dealing with the roles of men and women, and an essay in the appendices on bribery and the heresies of humanism, moralism, and legalism. Legalism is actually like magic, and not the innocent fantasy kind. I highly recommend this book, even read of a period of several years.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    Read this in high school (~2010). There are a lot of helpful things in here, but I don't know if I buy into Rushdoony's theonomy. Read this in high school (~2010). There are a lot of helpful things in here, but I don't know if I buy into Rushdoony's theonomy.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    I come not to praise Rushdoony, but to bury him. I put off reviewing this work, either here or on amazon, for over 5 years. Even in my recon days, this book had too many conceptual problems to warrant "free praise." We will get to those problems in a minute. It would be futile (and intellectually impossible) to give an adequate review and summary of this work. Obviously, it parallels Calvin by title. Part of the book is a running (if massively flawed) commentary on the Ten Commandments. Interest I come not to praise Rushdoony, but to bury him. I put off reviewing this work, either here or on amazon, for over 5 years. Even in my recon days, this book had too many conceptual problems to warrant "free praise." We will get to those problems in a minute. It would be futile (and intellectually impossible) to give an adequate review and summary of this work. Obviously, it parallels Calvin by title. Part of the book is a running (if massively flawed) commentary on the Ten Commandments. Interestingly, though, Rushdoony defines an elaborates the Ten Commandments by the case laws. This is a basic point in ethical reasoning that few Calvinists can seem to grasp today. If the antinomian Calvinist says that The Ten Commandments are one set of Laws binding for everybody, and the case laws are another set binding only for the covenant people, with the implication that there are two different law codes, then he has just introduced a double-standard morality into God. And since law is an expression of God's character, you make God's character contradictory! Actually, Western theology does this a lot, but anyway... Another good part of this book is Rushdoony gives hard and long (and often painful) reflection on tough areas of Scripture. Areas few Calvinists ever deal with. If you have an ethical question about the Bible, odds are Rushdoony covered it somewhere! His reasoning may be terrible (it often is), but at least he tried to cover it. Now the problems with the book: 1) A good way to summarize Rush's theology is "He was a man who knew so much yet understood so little." I get the impression when reading Rush's expo on the case laws that he simply thinks they can "just apply" today. Here's what I mean. Rush is a presuppositionalist. And while he knows better than to approach Scripture as a "blank slate," that's often exactly what he does. Even the better theonomists who say that the case laws only apply in their new covenant context, never tell us what that new covenant context is. Yes, there are a few examples in the New Testament, but that only covers a few laws. For the most part the New Testament really isn't helpful on interpreting all of the laws. This is damning to the theonomic position as such. 2) While Rush rightly rejects the distinction between civic law and moral law, he still accepts the overall distintions within the law. This means he will approach the law (sort of apropos to the point above) as a late-modernity Westerner. As a result, he will have no idea on how to deal with some laws. For example, the law on finding a bird's nest on the ground. Is it moral, civic, or ceremonial? How do you know? Or take even the sacrificial laws. While we say a sacrifice typifies and pre-figures Christ, which is true, is it simply a moral law? I think it's a civic law as well. This helps separate Israel from the nations. 3) Now we come to Rush's infamous position on the food laws. He thinks they still apply. This is really embarrassing. The new testament repeals these laws in several places. But there's a deeper problem involved. Is the food law a ceremonial law or a civic law or both? It's both. While it does anticipate the future work of redemption, it is mainly to separate Israel from the nations. The "bad foods you can't eat" are actually symbols of the Gentile nations. You see how useless the three distinctions between the law are? 4) Rush's critique of natural law is misleading. If by natural law he means the nonsense paraded by evangelicals and some WestCal theologians, he's right. It is autonomous. But that's not how natural law was always interpreted. The Patristics and Medievals had no problem going to nature because they said nature participates in God, so in a sense they were going to God for their source of law. Now, an alternative proposal. If we accept the fact that the early Church and the early medieval church didn't believe in some autonomous natural law, then we have no problem going to some form of law that they practiced. Rushdoony refers back to the early and Eastern church several times in the book, usually favorably. Why not go to how they read the Bible and applied it? They were closer to the apostles. They actually spoke and breathed Koine Greek and so knew the bible and the culture better than we ever can. Let's hear their wisdom instead of bashing them. -- Jacob Aitken

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    "Anything other than a Biblically grounded schooling is thus an act of apostasy for a believer...", and, "...while evangelical Christians today are greatly concerned with personal holiness, the Bible is also concerned with national holiness.", pretty much sets the tone. A training guide for the people that protest at the funerals of soldiers. "Anything other than a Biblically grounded schooling is thus an act of apostasy for a believer...", and, "...while evangelical Christians today are greatly concerned with personal holiness, the Bible is also concerned with national holiness.", pretty much sets the tone. A training guide for the people that protest at the funerals of soldiers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tim Renshaw

    Excellent. Everyone that calls themselves Christian and wonders why, but if God never changes and is never thwarted, that we give no heed to the Old Testament / the Law aside from being somewhat interesting history and good morality tales.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    Always provocative and interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nathanael Morin

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