The Supreme Court and the Power State

I was digging through old caches in my computer, along with a resurrected interest in some things Rushdoony said on economics and statism.  I’ve already documented many of the problems in Rush’s thought.   They are substantial, and if left alone will bring down the whole system.  But, if one understands these problems ahead of time and corrects them with a thoroughly Patristic understanding of the Trinity and Christology, then I think the dangers can be largely avoided.

This brings up another psychological problem.    While I realize Orthodox (and quite frankly, all bloggers) love to throw around the term “heretic,” and if this term applies to anybody, they would likely apply it to Rushdoony.   I think the terms schismatic or heterodox apply better.  But any case, it raises the question “What do we stand to gain from reading schismatics?”  I don’t have a thorough answer, but most guys of a tradition end up turning to sources outside their tradition on peripheral issues (usually in the case of philosophy, but you get the idea).  If they can do that without pangs of conscience, then I can quote Rushdoony or Hebden Taylor where appropriate.

Secondly, at least for me, it can function as a spur to a more disciplined life.   Rush read a book a day and did not waste time .  While that is overkill, perhaps, I think it is a better overreaction than to my own quasi-disciplined life.

One of the Reconstructionists loudest arguments was the cry against statism.  I think they overdid that, and it is certainly the case that current third generation theonomists really don’t know how that word applies today, or quite frankly, know anything beyond a few slogans from Bahnsen and Rush.  (I know, I debated a guy by the initials D.R. years back and he admitted this to me, while implying I was stupid).

That said, I found a few gems this morning that illustrate some problems with the current political and judicial scene.    I remember a few months ago I was in the hospital waiting room watching the news with my mother (I had just gotten hit in the mouth with a baseball bat).  The news flashed on the scene that the Supreme Court will allow the heretics from Phelps’ church to protest at military funerals.   Implicit in the Court’s decision was a warning to future families not to challenge this again.

Regardless of your opinion on America’s military adventures–and my own position is well-know–one must also note several things:  1) the military is part of the admonition in Romans 13, 2) to attack the military is insurrection, 3) the fifth commandment goes further in that we should honor those in authority; therefore, Phelps’ actions–and by implication the Court’s–is an attack on the social order, and finally, 4) this represents an attack on the foundations of society.

My mother–and I think this is the case with many grass-roots Americans–was shocked the Court could could be so callous towards grieving families.   I reminded her that I said the Courts hated traditional America and would express that hatred in the most consistent of terms.  I said that ten years ago.  Ten years ago everyone (e.g., American evangelicals) called me crazy and accused me of hating America.    Now everyone is saying it.

There is no law, no appeal, no higher order, beyond and above the universe. Instead of an [vi] open window upwards, there is a closed cosmos. There is thus no ultimate law and decree beyond man and the universe. Man’s law is therefore beyond criticism except by man. In practice, this means that the positive law of the state is absolute law. The state is the most powerful and most highiy organized expression of humanistic man, and the state is the form over the universe, over every human order, the law of the state is a closed system of law. There is no appeal beyond it. Man has no “right,” no realm of justice, no source of law beyond the state, to which he can appeal against the state. Humanism therefore imprisons man within the closed world of the state and the closed universe of the evolutionary scheme (introduction to The New Legality by Hebden Taylor, 3).

Rushdoony writes elsewhere,

In Deuteronomy 16:18-17:20, God instituted civil courts.  The origin of their authority and jurisdiction is God Himself, v. 18. The function of courts is defined by God alone:  to administer justice in terms of God’s revealed Law, v. 18-20.  The judge is not to be an impartial referee, but a champion of God’s Law, actively concerned with bringing God’s justice to bear on every situation, II Chronicles 6:23.  As Rushdoony wrote:  “If the judge does not represent God’s Law order, he is ultimately a political hack and hatchet man whose job it is to keep the people in line, protect the establishment, and, in the process, to feather his own nest.  Ungodly judges are to be feared and hated:  they represent a particularly fearful and ugly form of evil, and their abuse of office is a deadly cancer to any society.”- INSTITUTES OF BIBLICAL LAW, p. 613.