Physical Labor and the Manliness of Soul

For the godly man, work is a delight and often provides godly manliness.  Dabney writes,

History shows also, than an artificial and luxurious mode of living surely affects the literary taste of a nation. The simplicity of thought is banished. The manliness of soul which proceeds from labor, struggles with difficulty and intercourse with nature, becomes rare.

R.L. Dabney, “Simplicity of Pulpit Style,” Discussions vol. 3, page. 81.

Indeed, Rushdoony would go on to say,

A basic and unrecognized cause of tensions in marriage is the growing futility of work in an age where apostate and statist trends rob work of its constructive goals. The area of man’s dominion becomes the area of man’s frustration. There are those who can recall when men, not too many years ago, worked ten hours or more daily, six and seven days a week, often under ugly and unsafe circumstances. In the face of this, they could rest and also enjoy life with a robust appetite. The basic optimism of that era and the cer¬tainty of progress, the stability of a hard money economy, and the sense of mastery in these assurances, gave men a satisfaction in their labors which made rest possible

The Institutes of Biblical Law, p. 346.

Rushdoony: Enemy of Statism

RJ Rushdoony: Enemy of Statism

RJ Rushdoony: Enemy of Statism

That which says the most about a people or a nation is its source of law-the source to which that person or society looks to find out the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. The god of any society is its source of law…Any society that divorces itself from God’s law is like a fish out of water–violently active but quickly destined to die (Institutes of Biblical Law). Most Christians, perceptive ones anyway, have seen the vicious bloodlust inherent in totalitarian regimes, but have missed the more important issues. It is one thing to point out the obvious and cry over what liberals and wanna-be Marxists are doing to our country in various political policies. It is another thing to attack the worldview upon which it hinges. That worldview is statism. Statism is the attempt of a political party to play god, to be the messiah to the masses, and to bring in a golden age of peace. In other words, it believes in salvation by legislation, and if that were bad enough, it enforces this salvation by military force. It is a bloodthirsty form of universalism. I will try to point out in this essay the anti-biblical presuppositions of statism, the valiant and heroic insights of Rushdoony in opposing, and hopefully–God willing–some practical pointers in our modern-day struggle against the state’s attempt to play God.

If Man is Inherently Good, Wherein Lies the Problem?

Simply put: Deny man’s sinfulness and you must then find a new means of salvation. Every worldview has to answer these basic questions: Where did I come from?  Who am I?  What is Wrong with Me?  What is the solution?  Biblical Christianity maintains that Man is sinful by nature and cannot do right. His problem can only be fixed by divine action. But deny man’s sinfulness and maintain that he is good, one must still locate the source of his evil and then posit a new solution. If man is inherently good, then how do we explain the evil that he does? Well, the problem is, so says the statist, his environment. Therefore, to save him, we must change his environment. We must pass laws to make him better. He needs to be educated. If only he had the right facts, he would do well. The statist, then, believes in salvation by education and legislation. But what about those who maintain the antithesis and say that man can only be saved by the work of the Holy Spirit, not by law? Well if the statist is to be consistent, then those people must be neutralized by any means possible.

Liberty or License?

Older dictionaries define two types of liberty–natural and civil. Natural liberty is what man is able to do if he is not impeded by law, society, or cultural norms. Civil liberty is man’s ability to live his life under law. If man is allowed to run wild and no restraints are placed upon him, then liberty is lost. Liberty is lost because every man is doing right in his own eyes and the State becomes unable to protect the liberties of its citizens. Therefore, the State enacts laws. The embarrassing question is “who’s law?” God’s or Man’s? Here is where people really react to what I am saying. The will say to me, “The Bible doesn’t regulate how civil government ought to be run.” Okay, I can quote Romans 13 (which is prescriptive and destroys the above argument; the State‘s primarily role is to terrorize evildoers, not be a Savior to man), but in case they don’t like that (at this point they are arbitrarily engaging in special pleading) then let’s look at their position and reduce it to ethical absurdity. The issue is this: Is there a transcendental limitation on law? If we will not have God as the source of law, then we will necessarily have man as the source of law. Case Study: When is Punishment Criminal? As Dr Bahnsen pointed out: Let’s say I drive my car on your driveway and leak oil on it. You walk up to me, express your disappointment, and then knife me in the chest (remember the context; God’s law is not valid). We (arbitrarily) think that is wrong. Ok, perhaps it is. Let’s say I do the same thing and you come up to me, express your disappointment, point to the badge on your chest, and then knife me. Is that punishment wrong? If so, why? Let’s say we are in a democracy. 50% + 1 makes a judgment morally right. Let’s say enough incompetents in a democracy (but I repeat myself) vote and approve of such idiocy. On what ground can we say that this punishment is wrong? By denying a transcendent limitation law one cannot say it is wrong. In one hammer blow of a paragraph Rushdoony writes,

“ 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 highly 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).

In other words, lacking all limitations on its law, it lacks all limitations on its power. Its total law is its total power. The State reinforces its total law by its total power. And if you deny ultimacy of a Transcendental law-word from God, who are you to ever question the will of the State! This is a fair argument on my part. If you grant me my premise (~God’s Law), you must grant me my conclusion.

One Man’s Stand Against the Messianic State

You can always tell the good a man is doing by the anger he incurs, often from within the camp. I came to the Reformed faith late in life. I found the writings of R.J. Rushdoony because of my vicinity to Auburn Avenue Presybterian Church in Monroe, LA. I had been an avid history student and was studying for intense exams in American history (for the record, I thoroughly reject AAPC and FV). Rushdoony had written several powerful studies in American History. But before that I got my hands on The Institutes of Biblical Law. I was immediately impressed by his forceful writing style and clear and persuasive logic. His footnotes were utterly fascinating and the fruits of his intensive reading regimen (a book a day, six days a week, for fifty years). Rushdoony applied his faith to all areas of life (literally, he wrote on about every subject). Granted, he drew some wrong and odd conclusions but unless you require perfection of everyone you read, then this shouldn’t be too troubling. Rushdoony, like John Knox before him, championed the supremacy of God’s word and the rule of law in society. Is there a law above the law? Is Man sovereign or God? Rushdoony drew the most logical conclusion about the doctrine of God’s sovereignty: If God is Sovereign, then the State is not. The State is only derivatively sovereign. It finds its legitimacy only to the degree that it is just (shades of Wyclif!, how do you define justice except by God’s word?). At this point I am just going to quote several powerful Rushdoony quotes,

Orthodox Christianity was to introduce lasting tension into history by insisting, first, that law comes from a transcendental God and His word, so that civil law is a creature of rligion, nd, second, that for the state to attempt to

make law and religion its own creations is to play god and to incur the judgment of God and the necessary opposition of true believers. Charlemagne had inserted into his royal tide the words “by God’s Grace.” This formula is very important to Germanic or barbarian Christianity. It placed the king and the state under Christian law. Charlemagne saw himself as the “bishop of bishops,” clearly superior to the papacy, but also very clearly under God’s law (World History Notes, 115).

This is probably the second most important sentence I have read in a while:

The Germanic peoples also denied the idea of human sovereignty, as F. Kern hasshown in Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages, and they held to the authorityof law. Law was sovereign, if any sovereign existed, law as ancient custom, justice, and right. Every king was under law and therefore could be lawfully resisted if he broke the law.

Theonomy Files, No. 3: The collapse of Christian Reconstruction

I suppose the inevitable question, one loaded with irony, is that given Christian Reconstruction’s commitment to the bible and postmillennialism, how come the movement fractured immediately and society is not reconstructed?  Before we get into the individual faults of the men and camps, it is important to first note perhaps why they were prone to fracturing.

The easiest answer is that the American Reformed church didn’t want that kind of thinking within it.  I don’t mean the more wacky elements of CR.  Let’s stick with a mainstream figure like Greg Bahnsen.  Bahnsen stayed within the communion of the local Presbyterian church.  Bahnsen never associated himself within the wilder elements of CR.  Yet he was probably hated the most by so-called Reformed Institutions.  I think they correctly realized that if Bahnsen’s views on civil government are correct, then much of the Presbyterian mindset today needs to be revamped.  It was understood, however, that remaining good Americans was preferable.   Theonomy was blackballed.  It was never officially condemned, but still..

As a result, many CR leaders knew they wouldn’t be welcomed in the presbyteries.   So they reasoned:  too bad for the presbyteries!  For all the problems and limitations in local presbyteries, they do keep individuals from going off the deep end.   We will soon see why.

  1. Rushdoony:  On one hand it’s a good t hing that Rushdoony’s (and by the way, it is spelled “Rushdoony.”  A number of moderators on Puritanboard adamantly insisted it was spelled “Rushdooney,” the typing of the cover of his books notwithstanding) errors are so easy to see.   Being egregious errors and out in the open, they are fairly easy to avoid.  His main errors are the dietary laws, ecclesiology, and shallow readings of some Reformed sources.  I won’t bother refuting the dietary laws.   I suspect his personal experiences drove his ecclesiology.  I don’t know the whole story, though Gary North has documented it here.   Evidently he got angry at some obviously wrong practices of a part of the OPC and separated himself from church bodies for the greater part of a decade.A bit more minor issue but one more prevalent is that many young CRs began their study of theology by beginning with Rushdoony.  As a result, many simply parroted his slogans without really understanding all the theology and philosophy behind it.  Their grasp of Reformed theology was very tenuous beyond the basics.   Once they came across sharp Anchorite apologists, they were toast.  They didn’t have the strong foundation in Turretin, Hodge, and Owen that older men had.  Had they begun with the latter and had a decent foundation, then they could have approached Rushdoony with the sense of applying some of his legitimate insights.Finally, people who really follow Rushdoony have a hard time accepting any criticism of the man.
  2. Was the home-church movement an inevitable spin off from Rushdoony?  That he endorsed something like it is clear, but most Reformed people understand he is wrong on that point.  I think one of the dangers of the home church movement is that apart from any presbyterial oversight, there is nothing stopping the members from embodying outrageous positions.
  3. Gary North:  Gary North held the high ground until 2,000.  His Y2K debacle lost him his credibility.  Others have pointed out his refusal to condemn the Federal Vision, though truth be told, would it have mattered?  Most people stopped listening to him in 2,000.   Would his condemning FV in 2003 have changed anything?  It’s a shame that he got tied in with y2K predictions and Federal Vision associations.   Many of his key arguments were never refuted (or even addressed).  I have in mind the judicial sanctions in history argument.  It’s ultimately why I can’t hold to historic premillennialism in the long run (see future post).Another of his problems would be the Tyler connection.  This really isn’t that big a problem compared to Rushdoony.   Tyler had the bizarre mixture of independent congregationalism and quasi-sacerdotal episcopalianism.  Aside from some caustic and hilarious rhetoric aimed at the Institutional Reformed, there isn’t much to accuse him of.
  4. Was Federal Vision inevitable?  This is hard to answer.  If you read Bahnsen’s Theonomy in Christian Ethics carefully, you will notice how mainstream and normal his method and footnotes are.  He is citing standard P&R and evangelical textbooks on hermeneutics and the Sermon on the Mount.   All of this is wildly at odds with the later Federal Visionists.  This would explain why Federal Vision advocates at least two generations afterwards rejected Bahnsen (some even ridiculed him).   Jim Jordan very clearly rejected theonomy. So to say that Bahnsen led to the Federal Vision is a classic instance of the correlation = causation fallacy.

Gary North notes that CR split into two camps:  Tyler Ecclesiasticalism and Rushdoony’s Home Church Patriarchalism (those theonomists remaining faithful to the local church and presbytery held to a theoretical theonomy, but kept it at that.  The exception would be the micro-Presbyterians like Joe Morecraft).

Reflecting on Rushdoony: Ten Years Later

It was around ten years ago that I was introduced to the thought of R.J. Rushdoony.  I am not entirely sure if that is a good thing or not.   I will put my cards on the table:  this post will be largely appreciative of most of Rushdoony’s work.  However, to anticipate objections, I will list the problems with Rushdoony–and even more particularly, his followers–first, then I will end with the good.

Where he is wrong, he is big-time wrong.  Ironically, this is actually a good thing.  Yes, his cutting himself off from the church probably didn’t help his cause.   His insistence on the food laws is so contrary to even the most prima-facie reading of the New Testament, it’s hard to even imagine.   Given all of that, is anyone really tempted to follow him on these points?   I doubt it.   And if such a person is willing to follow him on the food laws, that person was probably unhinged before he read Rushdoony.

Did he pick the wrong kind of theonomy?  I don’t hold to the Bahnsenian theonomic thesis just because I don’t think it can stand exegetically.   The problem, though, is that Bahnsen was such a masterful debater, all of the Reformed world (well, RTS and Westminster) were too scared to debate him.  Therefore, Bahnsen won by default.  Unfortunately, I don’t think his theonomy works.   Fortunately, one can get roughly the same bottom-line package from Rutherford.

Myopia.  I hate statism as much as the next guy.  I get the impression, however, that Rushdoony made the negation of statism the focal point of his theology.  When you read his book on the early church, you get the impression that Athanasius was primarily concerned with attacking Big Government.

The Good

He is probably the reason that the State hasn’t arrested your pastor for having a Christian school, or arrested your mother/father for homeschooling you.   One of the worst ironies in 20th century Calvindom is that The reformed seminaries spent so much time attacking Rushdoony and Bahnsen, when in fact Rushdoony regularly appeared as a key witness on behalf of homeschoolers as they faced jailtime.   These court victories no doubt formed case laws and precedents that allow many to home school today.

Engaging writing.  He read a book a day for fifty years.  He spent three hours a day in Bible study.  His writing style is always forceful and interesting.

Wider perspective on life.  People who read widely and travel widely over many decades have a rich perspective on life.   His lectures on history are always fantastic.  He is able to find that rare anecdote from some ancient volume.

He prophesied the coming crisis.  As America spirals out of control, most people will start reading his stuff on politics and economics.   Start with The Politics of Guilt and Pity.

He made Calvinism applicable.  What’s the connection between economics and Calvinism?  Rush explored those areas.

Forceful lecturer.  Some people thought his “grandfatherly voice” was boring.  I always thought he was quite forceful in the pulpit and lectern.    Legend has it–not really legend, actually happened–that he was allowed five minutes to speak to the Mississippi State Congress on Law and Society.   He gave a stirring talk and literally ended his talk on the last second of the five minutes.   You can listen to free lecturers here.

The Problem with his Followers

Many of his young acolytes had only a rather tentative grasp on the Reformed faith.  They read Rushdoony books by the dozen, yet had likely never read Owen or Calvin; certainly had not read Turretin.   The Bourgeoisie Reformed responded that you should read Calvin, not Rushdoony–but that, too, is false.  The problem is his followers should have spent a few years reading only the magisterial Protestants, then Rushdoony.

Where I specifically disagree with Rushdoony

He bashes experimental Calvinism.  I don’t.  There appears to be a prima facie tension in Reformed history between the dominion and conflict strand (represented by Rushdoony) and the experimental strand (represented by Banner of Truth).   There should be no conflict.  One can bridge this gap with the theology and practice of the Scottish Covenanters.  Read Richard Cameron and David Cargill sermons preached only weeks before their martyrdom.

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.

Evolution of a theological hit-man

I’m always wary of doing biographical posts, but this one is sufficiently vague and helps me see from whence I came.   I stole the title from the book Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man.  I haven’t read the book, but that is probably the best title of any book, ever.

In the early 2000s I went from a Baptist mindset to a Reformed Baptist mindset.   From then, as was natural with 95% of Reformed Baptists, I went full Reformed paedobaptist.  As a Presbyterian, I was a student of Van Til and Bahnsen.   Because I majored in American history in college, and had an interest in cultural apologetics, I became a student of Rushdoony (circa 2004 to 2007).

While Rushdoony had problems, he wrote well, exposed Reformed pietism for what it was, and sought to think Christianly about every arena in which he could live his life.   As long as one understands the Christological problems he got into because of his Calvinism, I think one can certainly read Rushdoony with profit.

Between him and Bahnsen I must have listened to over 1,000 lectures on philosophy, law, theology, and apologetics.  I do not boast.  I speak as a fool.

I knew, though, in order to be fully competent in apologetics, I needed to have a good handle on philosophy.   While Van Til specialized in rebutting Hegelian Idealism, and Bahnsen looket at Wittgenstein, and Rushdoony at Berkeley, I thought, whether rightly or wrongly, that my reading would go with the European Continental philosophers.   In order to read them, I started reading Dooyeweerd.  However, since Mellen Press was then selling Dooyeweerd for the cheap price of $400, and that after volume 1 Dooyeweerd was basically incomprehensible, I decided to settle for reading some of his leading interpreters, namely James K. A. Smith.

Smith is an engaging thinker.   He took many of Dooyeweerd’s thoughts, placed them into the Radical Orthodoxy matrix, and mix it with a heavy dose of postmodern liturgical theology.  Much of Smith’s project, while superior to the rest of Calvinism, suffers from most of the bizarre inanity in the Emergent Church movement.  It is one thing to critique George W. Bush and pretend you are the Prophet Jeremiah in doing so, it is another to offer a hermeneutics and ethics that doesn’t deconstruct (pun intended) into literary and ethical relativism.

Fortunately, though, Smith got me reading Robert Webber. Webber introduced me to the idea of Christus Victor.    Around the same time I started reading more of the Fathers and Orthodox guys, though I must admit I didn’t know much of what I was talking about and reading back then.

Rushdoony gets it…sort of

When I was first becoming Reformed the guy I mainly read was RJ Rushdoony (and many would say that’s a problem; that he is not a real Calvinist, and I should have spent years reading Berkhof instead; perhaps, though that would only have deferred the problematic issues and not removed them).

I was so excited to read Rushdoony’s book on the early church councils.  Admittedly, it was a terrible introduction to the early church.   Even where Rushdoony did not get it wrong, he often missed the main point (e.g., Athanasius was fighting Arius, not Karl Barth; reading Rushdoony one often got that impression).   That said, it was a fun read.

I get annoyed when Calvinists say doctrine is important, but the Filioque is simply trifling over words (cf Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology).  To be fair, what difference can  three words make to your spiritual life (or to your social order)?

Now that I think of it, Rushdoony was onto something.    He believed there is a direct relation between Triadology and social order.   So did St Gregory Nazianzus:

The three most ancient opinions concerning God are Anarchia, Polyarchia, and Monarchia. The first two are the sport of the children of Hellas, and may they continue to be so. For Anarchy is a thing without order; and the Rule of Many is factious, and thus anarchical, and thus disorderly. For both these tend to the same thing, namely disorder; and this to dissolution, for disorder is the first step to dissolution.

Rushdoony upholds the Filioque, and he tries to show how it is important.  On p. 189ff (I think; I am quoting this from memory.  If I am  off on the pagination, it is only by a few pages) he says the addition of the Filioque destroyed the remaining vestiges of subordinationism in Christian theology.  Further, it reduced the power of the State in the West and saw the triumph of the Church.

My thoughts:

The Filioque destroyed a form of healthy subordination by negating the monarchia of the Father (and all must admit this is a new move in theology). The only way one can remove all forms of subordinationism in the Trinity is to opt for something like Calvin’s autotheos, the Son (and presumably Father and Spirit) is God of himself.   But one must then ask, “given the denial of the monarchia, and what autotheos entails, how can one affirm a personal source of unity in the Trinity?”  One can’t.  One is left with “God popping up all over the place.”

The problem is that Rushdoony gets the best and worst in one swoop.  He removes the healthy form of subordinationism by moving away from the monarchia of the Father, and with his emphasis on autotheos he does have the persons of the Trinity fully God–even if he can no longer show how they are connected, something the monarchia safeguarded–but even with the Filioque one must admit subordinationism is not yet gone.

This is a point that is rarely seen.   If the ancient view of the monarchia is subordinationist because it has the Son and Spirit deriving from the person of the Father, and the Filioquists say that the Filioque destroys this subordinationism of the Son, how can one avoid the conclusion that the Spirit is now subordinate to the Son and the Father?   The Spirit has been made the Son’s lieutenant.  It won’t do to say as Berkhof that the Spirit receives the entire divine essence.  That’s not the issue under contention–the monarchia of the Father said the same thing.

The Social Order

The above are arguments and counters- you will find in any Filioquist discussion.  Rushdoony makes a number of correct observations if wrong conclusions.  He notes that one’s view of the Trinity is directly tied to one’s view of social order.

  • Rushdoony noted a connection between subordinationism in the Trinity and the development of the Byzantine state.   Actually, he used more loaded terminology, but let’s look at it.  I think he (correctly) assumes a correlation between the monarchia of the Trinity and political monarchy.   Of course, he sees that as statism and “developing the Byzantine state.”  While the Byzantines were autocrats in a certain sense, this is still far removed from the “state” in any modern sense.
  • Rushdoony (correctly) says the Filioquist West saw the rise of the Church above everything else in society.   He’s not entirely accurate on this point.   It’s not so much that the Filioque let to the rise of the Church–especially not in the free, volunteer church that Rushdoony espoused!–but to the rise of the papacy.   The East said that the Holy Spirit is the principle of unity in the Church.   While the West may affirm that, too, one more likely sees the papacy as the principle of unity in the Church.    That’s what Thomas Aquinas said,

“The error of those who say that the Vicar of Christ, the Pontiff of the Roman Church, does not have a primacy over the universal Church is similar to the error of those who say that the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Son. For Christ himself, the Son of God, consecrates and marks her as his own with the Holy Spirit, as it were with his own character and seal, as the authorities already cited make abundantly clear. And in like manner the Vicar of Christ by his primacy and foresight as a faithful servant keeps the Church Universal subject to Christ. It must, then, be shown from texts of the aforesaid Greek Doctors that the Vicar of Christ holds the fullness of power over the whole Church of Christ.