238: Are Inquisitions a Thing of the Past?
Governments used inquisitions to control and direct those the elite wished to dominate, but are inquisitions a thing of the past? Listen in as we explore the history and relevance for our time.
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Welcome to Out of the Question, a podcast that looks behind some common questions and uncovers the question behind the question while providing real solutions for biblical world and life view. Your co host are Andrea Swarts, a teacher and mentor, and Pastor Charles Roberts.
Today, during this episode of the Out of the Question podcast, my co host, Charles Roberts and I, will be discussing a bit of history, a bit of current events, and the need for sobriety in dealing with the issues of our time. Are inquisitions a thing of the past? Now, for most people, knowledge of the inquisition will come from textbooks, Wikipedia, or possibly the history channel. But we must remember that history is written by the victors. And as we are all very aware of today, comes with it an approved narrative based on presuppositions and quite frankly, religious views. So, Charles, I’ll let you explain what the, quote, common facts are about the inquisition and how we understand it today, and how we might really benefit from another look?
I think for certain segments of our listening audience, there might be two things that come immediately to mind when the term inquisition is mentioned. One might be, as I think you just mentioned, something you might have seen on the history channel when it actually still did history, with Dominican monks in their attire holding a crucifix and some poor soul stretched out on the rack with their bones snapping, being exhorted to repent of their heresies. The other image for maybe us older crowd would be the famous Monty Python skit where they show up, Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition at the last minute thing.
Of those things are accurate, as it turns out, or at least the popular mental understanding of what really was going on with that. I know for me, it was quite an eye opener. I never really did a serious deep dive into it like a lot of other people. I just assumed it was the Roman Catholic Church of the medieval era, getting real nasty with people they didn’t like. But as a matter of fact, as Dr. Rushdoony points out in the two essays that form the basis of our discussion today, it actually was the government, specifically, in this case, Frederick II, who was finding an engine by which he could crush dissent in his realm. And he used this option to destroy people who promoted ideas that neither he nor the Roman Catholic Church cared for. But in terms of the history of it, that’s one of the things that I think should be a wake up call to most people, is that this was not primarily a Church driven persecution of people who just happened to have some fringe beliefs. It was a state driven persecution. And that was the means by which this was taking place.
But then the other thing, and this is what is so most remarkable, I think, in this discussion, is the fact that in the Chalcedon Report number 157, where Dr. Rushdoony titled us the grand inquisitor, he’s talking about the fact that when we wind up in a situation where people are being persecuted and ravaged because they go against the accepted orthodoxy of the day, it almost always is a state driven government that does it. And he wrote this essay in 1978. And it’s just absolutely remarkable, the prescience he had. In the Grand Inquisitor essay, he points out the fact that given the trajectory of humanism, it inevitably leads to a situation where the state not only acts as prosecuting attorney, but judge all in the same place. In a biblical understanding of law and justice, there is a place where people can be tried based on true testimony, and you don’t have everybody involved except the party who’s being tried in opposition to them. And so what we have going on today, and exactly as it mirrors that much older version, is a carbon copy of this very thing where states eventually get to a point where they will not tolerate anything, no dissent on any issue, anything that calls into question the absolute authority of the state.
Right. And we’ve talked in the past that one needs to examine the presuppositions, the things that the historian, whether a professional historian, an amateur historian, you’ve got to find out if you agree with what this person is saying. And like so many other things, we’ve come to the idea that history is neutral, science is neutral, math is neutral. When in actual fact, anybody who hadn’t noticed in the last three years that science and medicine are not exactly neutral, that people will come up with certain ideas based on their preconceived notions. And we saw how a lot of people were taken by surprise that the government got involved in people’s medicine or in people’s decisions between them and their doctor. We heard about this for years. Abortion is a decision between a woman and her doctor. Suddenly, whether or not you had to have a face covering or had to get an injection no longer was between a woman and her doctor. or a man and his doctor. Now the state was imposing. I think it bears remembering that every counterfeit religion, and I’m going to say counterfeit from my point of view, anything that’s not biblically based, it’s not biblical Christianity, falls into the category of the world’s second religion, humanism.
Statism and humanism are very much tied together. We have to realize that there’s an orthodoxy to statism that will identify certain things as blasphemies or heresies. That’s what fuels the inquisition. It isn’t so much that we need people to pick on, so much as we need particular people to pick on who challenge our point of view.
Yes. And it goes back to the very beginning in God’s creation ordinances, where He set up what was to be, and eventually will be by God’s grace and through the triumph of Christ, a godly order in which he and his law are the defining factors for every aspect of life. As we say in these discussions, God’s word is a total word. And the satanic counterfeit, the satanic effort to destroy that, was the promotion of what we call humanism. And that, too, is a total word. There may have been people decades ago who tried to warn others about the encroachment of governmental authority into areas of life where it had not existed before, by saying, You need to be careful here, because once you go down this… Oh, no, no, no, no. This is just one simple thing where the government is trying to help out with whatever it may be. But again, it is a total, absolute, pervasive accountability that one has to have. It may not start out that way in one giant imposition, but this is the direction that statism moves. And this is one of the, I guess we could say, one of the main characteristics of humanism, is that it apes and mirrors God’s total word, but it does so for the service of Satan.
I think your point that it is a slow progression in certain times, that people don’t even realize that they’re being manipulated, they’re being programmed for certain things. And today, with transgenderism and pride and all that, a lot of people act like this came out of left field, like this just started 10 years ago. It didn’t start just 10 years ago. There are seeds that were planted and began to sprout. And there were people, as you pointed out, who said, I think this is a problem. And then there were other people saying, Oh, chill out. It’s not that much of a problem. And one of the things that came to mind today was the whole idea of heterosexuality. Now, you remember when the homosexual movement started to gain ground, that they were being persecuted or whatever, people stopped arguing in terms of faithful marriage or life between a man and a woman with God as the third partner. It became, are you heterosexual or homosexual? Is this child heterosexual or homosexual? My answer was a five year old is really neither one. If you teach the moral basis of how we’re supposed to live under God, then the nature of heterosexuality of homosexuality…
Now, we need to define it in terms of marriage or life between a man and a woman under God. But we gave up that ground, and then that ground started moving. And then it became, couldn’t two people of this persuasion really love each other? And now we’re at a point, and I think this is not just true where I live all over the place. If you question, is that possible? You now go on a hit list. So are we watching all the doxxing and marginalizing people because of their belief? Is this our current inquisition?
I think it absolutely is. But in terms of the progressive nature of moving from point A to point B to where we see things happening now that seemed just astounding to us, in some ways, you can see the signposts along the way that pointed in this direction. Now, in one of the essays that we are referring to here, Dr. Rushdoony refers to a situation with an institution of higher learning that’s literally in my backyard, Bob Jones University, where in the 1980s, their tax exempt status was revoked because they had instituted, really, I think, almost from the beginning of the school when it started, I think in the 1950s, certain social and religious customs relating to student behavior that the government didn’t like. And he referred to that. And it was a Supreme Court case where, and I’m quoting here, the Supreme Court determined that Bob Jones University and that the Internal Revenue Service may deny tax income status to institutions whose policies are, quote, contrary to established public policy. Well, how did it get to the point where an August institution, at least August in these parts of South Carolina, that could wind up in that situation?
Well, consider this. Two weeks ago, my wife and I traveled to about two hours away so I could attend a church related meeting. And it was interstate travel all the way to the Charleston, South Carolina area. At several points along the way, we passed massive billboards promoting transgenderism on these interstate highways here in South Carolina. God loves transgender people. It was that thing. But long before that, and I’m using another local example because I think in many ways it is a meme or a visible icon of a statement of how these things have gotten to this point, but it has deeper roots. At a major intersection in the area where I live in Greenville, South Carolina, on one corner is a very large Baptist Church. There are many conservative Baptists in this area, some denominationally affiliated, some independent. I don’t know anything about this one. I know it’s just a very, very large church. Now, what’s interesting is what is on the opposite corner, and this is a very busy intersection. On the opposite corner is a Hooters restaurant. Now, I can tell you, there would be a time when a company like that would not have even thought about putting a restaurant, either in Greenville, South Carolina, leave alone across the street from a big Baptist Church.
And yet there it is. And I tried to find out before we came on how long it had been there. But I know I’ve been here in this area for six years. It’s been here at least that long, I suspect longer. But my point is that the forces of satanic humanism feel more and more free to do these things, because they recognize that the opposition that might arise is really a paper tiger. And this goes to the heart of the problem of modern evangelicalism, is that there is nothing more than pietism and revivalism at the heart of this way of thinking about being a Christian that leaves itself wide open to murderous attack from people who have a much more severe agenda. And they don’t play by the rules. And if the only rules that the churches and Christians have are the rules given to them by what we call conservative ink, the mainstream conservative type media and talking heads that really are just another version of the left wing, then they’re going to wind up where we are today.
So let’s go back a little bit and talk in terms of Bob Jones University. Homeschooling families will be familiar with Bob Jones because a lot of Christian schools and a lot of homeschoolers will use the curriculum that comes out of Bob Jones University. Here’s the thing. When Bob Jones University was denied tax exempt status, that was something that, of course, should be attacked right then and there. In other words, tax exemption is not a grace given by the government to somebody when that somebody or that institution pleases them. Tax exemption meant keep your hands off of this. You have no place here. People didn’t get that. And so they went to the Supreme Court that should have said this is a private institution that can make up their own rules. Now, for those of you who are familiar with the rules were, and I won’t go into them here, you might agree with them, or you might disagree with them. But when did we get to a point that disagreement, if I don’t like something, I’ve got to get the state on my side to push my agenda instead of… Maybe I would just try to persuade people to see the error of their ways if I thought that their ways were errant.
So when I say we don’t get to the bedrock, if you’re just arguing whether or not a university should be able to do things, you’ve missed the point of what liberty is supposed to be. Another example, I think, that is noteworthy is the whole homeless situation. Every major city in the US is currently in a situation where tents are rising up in strange places. People are defecating on street corners. Any place that has a waterway, a reservoir, or whatever is usually subject to people living there, and who knows what’s happening to the water. Most people who pay their taxes and live or try to live in a way that their hard work rewards them in some way are very frustrated by this. And so instead of having a remedy, a biblical remedy, we have a lot of state and humanistic solutions that apparently only make the problem worse. Well, I read a piece that I think it’s Canada, but it might be Australia, I don’t remember, is considering authorizing assisted suicide for the homeless. Now, of course, nobody would agree with that. But the people who are frustrated about just having more and more homeless, if they are not rooted in a respect for life, a respect for personhood, which we already know they don’t because they’re willing to kill unborn babies.
They’re willing to promote euthanasia, and they’re even willing to promote parents mutilating the bodies of their children. So this whole idea of respecting personhood has waned a long time ago. So people become unprepared on how to even look at it. Some people might say, Well, the homeless, let’s say they want to end their life. Oh, I see. So now life depends on when I say it ends, and we’ve thrown out the idea that you shouldn’t kill, including yourself. The whole underpinnings of an inquisition happened as a result of years and years of desensitizing people to even examine things other than through an approved narrative.
In the case of your reference to the homeless, I wrote a blog piece some years ago while I was pastoring a Church in Arizona called The Cruel Mercy of the State. The mercy of the wicked is cruel, as we’re told in God’s Word. And that’s a prime example, when you get in bed with the state, you’re going to be paying for it sooner or later in some way, shape, or form. And really, the situation with the Bob Jones case that we mentioned earlier, now, I don’t know all the legal history there. I printed out an article that gave a little bit of the basic information. But in terms of the defense that they were making, I suspect that… And I’ll be glad to be corrected if I’m wrong, but I suspect that the people on the Bob Jones side, they have no awareness that their default position should be, You have no jurisdiction over us whatsoever. We are the Church. We are a Christian institution. We are a Christian organization, and we serve only one king, and we seek to exist peacefully in a so called secular society. But I’m not sure they even thought it was more of, Well, now, wait a minute.
You said we could do this. Because I think there were several things that were happening in the progress of that case where it was ruled one way at one point, and then they came back and said, No, we’re going to revoke your status because of X, Y, and Z. And so in each case, it was more, Well, now we’re trying to do what you want, or You said you’d do this. In other words, it’s a tacit, bowing of the knee to the authority of the government. And people are not, again, taught to think biblically. They’re taught to think of a divided retreatist way of thinking, where ultimately, the church’s mission is to fail in history and not to succeed. The arising and the flourishing of inquisitions and inquisitors is something that will continue until God’s people, in particular, come to this awareness of where this comes from, and that it has deep roots, but all of it goes back to tyrannical humanism. Dr. Rushdoony pointed it out time and again, and many of his essays that we were talking earlier about the foundations of social order. I think he gets into it there. But the ultimate outcome of a humanistic worldview is the state.
The state is the highest expression of man’s humanistic aspirations. And so it always ends up in that way. One of the things that he says here, and as I do whenever we talk about these things, I want to quote him directly in the essay on the grand inquisitor, he says this, he says, The grand inquisitor cannot be voted out. He reappears in the new rulers and the new guise. He can only be destroyed by the only wise God, our Savior, whose grace redeems us and whose law is our way of sanctification in his Spirit. So this is something else that Bible believing people should understand, is that you’re not going to get out of this situation by voting this way or that way. It has to start within our own families, within our own hearts, in governing ourselves according to God’s law word. We say this time and time again, but this is the solution. This is God’s way and God’s standard. It’s not an imposition of tyranny from the top down, as the humanistic state does. That’s doomed to failure. God’s way and the biblical pattern is the flourishing and the embracing of God’s law word among individuals and their families, and that radiates out into all of culture and society.
Exactly. So what we have today, by and large, is a church that has no fear of God and wants to become the friend of man. We have things being accepted that 100 years ago wouldn’t have been accepted or acceptable. But you understand, the times have changed. I guess if we have a living constitution, we can have a living Bible that changes according to who’s describing it. I can’t tell you recently how many church sermons are much more, Let’s read the headlines. Now, whatever portion of scripture we’re going to talk about, I’m going to shove the headlines in to the word of God and interpret the Word of God based on the headlines. Well, if you can capitalize on people’s fear of instability in culture and there won’t be enough food and all this stuff, then maybe you can gain traction with that message. But if you think back to all the amount of real estate in the Bible that the Exodus has been given, tyrannical rule, state rule, inquisition, if you didn’t do the things that you were supposed to do, like kill your baby boys and things like that. So it was pretty tyrannical.
Yet God answered the prayers of those who said, Deliver us. But when they got into the wilderness, instead of being grateful for their deliverance, they just remembered the good parts of Egypt. Now, previous, we didn’t see a lot of good parts of Egypt. We saw between Joseph bringing his family over and then the ruler who forgot Joseph’s goodness. Okay, we don’t get a lot of information about that, except we know that things changed. But if people only respond when their life gets difficult, then I guess God is going to have to make their life get difficult. As opposed to, Things are going along okay right now, but take a look at where we’re deviating off the straight and narrow path. Maybe a lot of heartache and a lot of pain can be avoided if we decide that our ultimate fear, our reverence, our I don’t want to cross this guy is to God alone.
That is an excellent point. I think when it comes down to it, this is back of much of what has brought us to this point in terms of Christian reaction to what is happening from the humanistic state is they do fear man more than they fear God. They prefer the state’s eschatology and its long range view of how it wants the future to unfold as opposed to what God’s word says. Now, I realize that’s maybe a bit of a controversial area because we know plenty of people who Christians who have different eschatologies than what the Bible teaches. But the fact is, we see this tendency. One of the problems is that people don’t have a memory that goes back far enough, or even if they theoretically do, they don’t remember how tense and difficult times are brought about by God to winnow out his church and his people and to actually have people declare themselves. I can well remember in the early 60s, when there was a genuine threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union versus the United States. People building bomb shelters in their homes. Now, there are many people alive today who remember that, and people who would have remembered it more vividly than I, who were older than me, have all passed on.
You can watch YouTube videos, but it’s hard to replicate in the minds and emotions of people today the genuine fear that existed back then. Of course, I have no awareness of what people were thinking when all the turmoil was going on in Europe in the early and mid-20th centuries. But there were plenty of people running around screaming that Michelin was the Antichrist, that Hitler was the Antichrist, you can figure out the number of the name, and all the rest of it. And that was the reaction. Circle the wagons and wait for the Rapture. But this is not what God’s Word calls us to do. It calls us to occupy. It calls us to take dominion in his name and to stand forward against these things by means, again, of governing ourselves according to his law and planning for the long term.
And so it’s interesting that you bring that up because the whole idea of circling the wagons get as many people at the I think it’s Dennis Peacock I first heard calling it the Rapture Bus Stop, that that’s our job, that there are these two parallel kingdoms, and what we got to do is go in and kidnap or snatch away from the kingdom of darkness, put them into the church. We got to get as many people into the church, and the church is like Noah’s Ark or something like that. What they miss, of course, is that the victory that’s proclaimed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament will say that God has never lost control of his plan. Instead of promoting, the church is supposed to promote our only hope in life and death is Jesus Christ. But along the way, the church has made itself man’s hope. You must come to church. You must be part of a local church. Even if you disagree with bad theology being promoted, your job is to sit there and submit to. As you pointed out, we’ve lost the idea that God holds us personally responsible for what we do.
That’s what self-government means. You have to be aware of where you are. If you are walking through a bog, you have to know that differently than if you’re walking through the sand or you’re walking in water. Because too few people really want to know, Is this truly the worst it’s ever been in human history? Or maybe I should understand more about how the mistakes of the past continue in a cycle where we’re at this crossroads again. I think it’s easier for people to hope that they get elevated out of here, but I don’t think the Bible says it. And I think people fall away from even wanting to pursue it if they think I’m just joining a losing side who will be rescued at some point.
And I have become more aware, and I guess I’ll use the word impressed. I don’t mean that necessarily in a good way, of how much a factor that we’ve talked about before in these podcast and that some of the folks like Mark and Martin have written about the issue of pietism, has been a major factor in the Church finding itself in the position that it’s in now, and in facing modern inquisitions and modern inquisitors. Because again, the default position has been, Well, you just need to make sure that you have Jesus in your heart, that you quit smoking and drinking, you do all these outward sorts of things that show a conformity to a certain type of cultural Christianity, that are really surface types of things. And then the other thing that goes right along with that, and that’s something else I’ve become more aware of. I’m starting to hear more and more people talk about this. It’s a cyclical thing, I guess, and that is the issue of revival. I was discussing this issue with some associates of mine, and one person, I thought this was a superb way of putting this, that revivalism is weaponized pietism.
That is so cogent, because you see, people get the idea, if I can go to this church service where they’re having, quote, revivals down the road, and I get all excited and I ask Jesus back into my heart, or I may get rebaptized, or whatever it may be, and then I go home and read my Bible all the time, that seems to be the sum total of what is the solution to all of our problems. But that model has been around for several hundred years or more. And look where we are. And I was thinking about this, too. Again, this is an area I’d love to be corrected, but just off the top of my head, I was thinking about this. The Second Great awakening, as it was called, in these United States, that was largely the work of Charles Finney and other heretical teachers, produced what one historian called the burned over district of upstate New York, and that whole section of the Northeast, where these revivals were on and constant, over and over and over again. And one of the religious spin offs of that was the production and the rise of what have typically been called cults.
I don’t like that term myself, but aberrant and heterodox religious faiths that deny principled Orthodox doctrine. But I think it’s interesting, too, that in that same stretch of geography, it has also resulted over time in some of the worst examples of state tyranny.
And so that’s why it behooves us to not so much have to go back and study every era of history. But if you look at the Scripture as God’s command word, which it is, then even the parts that you’ll encounter that may seem like, Well, that’s not what we do today, instead of saying, Okay, I guess it doesn’t count anymore. Another reaction is, Why don’t we do that today? How has the church decided that certain things are you must do and other things you mustn’t do? And how do they pick and choose? I had a student of mine point out that in the church that she attends, there’s a potential split about to happen. And one of the main issues is head coverings.
I realized that head coverings is not something the average churchgoer sees. After I abandoned the faith of my childhood, I grew up Catholic, you always had to go to church with your head covered. When I started going to Protestant churches and they didn’t, I had just assumed it had something to do with that’s what Catholics do. But now Catholics don’t do it either. Then one day I’m reading through 1 Corinthians and it’s right there and it’s like, how do you know if you’re supposed to or not? Well, there are all sorts of interesting reasons that from pulpits they’re told they don’t have to do it. One of them was that that was when the church was in its infancy. This is something that was like the milk of the word. But Paul expected them to get past it so that women would uncover their heads. I guess men would cover their heads because that passage says men don’t, women should. People like, Why is this so important to you? Why did you get… Well, it’s in the word of God. So if I’m going to take out the parts that are repulsive to me, or I just don’t feel like doing, or it would be inconvenient, that’s the slippery slope.
Forget about heterosexual or homosexual and things like that. What we’re looking at is if you don’t take God’s Word seriously and that’s your attitude, that’s your default position, I’m not going to take this seriously, then you’ll never be able to impose a Christian culture. If we don’t have an apologetic that’s cultural and it’s only Jesus in my heart, no wonder that the world appears to be under the controls of the enemies of God. But the reassurance we have is Psalm 2 makes it clear. Many other places make it clear. Not only does God have this under control, God has ordained where we are right now for the specific reason of showing that he’s God and hopefully getting people to the point to realize we are not.
I think some of our friends who take a very different view on especially end times matters and revivalism and such as that, need to hopefully understand that the signs that are all around us are not the signs of the end, or the signs of the end of humanism, but they’re the signs of God’s judgment being poured out on an evil culture. But that’s just another opportunity for God’s people to get motivated and move forward with the agenda that he’s given us. Well, where did that agenda come from? Well, try Matthew 28 in the Great Commission. I think that’s a pretty good agenda. I heard someone recently who is a friend of mine, and he has a different view of end times eschatology things than I do. And I think he meant this in gist, but you know what they say about things that in just? He said something like, Well, I don’t know how you postmillennialists think everything’s going to just keep getting better and better. Ha, look around. And of course, that’s not an accurate characterization of what we, who are post millennial, believe. And it’s certainly not what Scripture teaches. The leading up to the time of the return of Christ, where the world will be largely Christian, before that happens, is a time of judgment leading up to that point, where there may be times of exactly what we’re seeing, where there are grand inquisitors who continue to come forward until God’s people learn the lesson that if you’re going to solve this problem by means of a politics that is divorced from the law, word of God, it’s going to put you in the same place as those who follow that, who have no regard whatsoever for that word.
So I think that we need to be encouraged and encourage each other with the recognition that by God’s grace, we understand these things, and we have an opportunity to pass on this awareness that, yes, there is a cultural mandate. It’s sad that fundamentalist types don’t like that. They think it’s the aberration of Scripture. You’re not going to change things. It’s only going to get worse and worse. But that is a prescription for disaster, prescription for suicide. It represents the failure of a certain type of evangelical culture that has brought us to this point. And I think that one of the advantages, and I’ll even use that term, that we can see in the mellays and the misery and the evil of the current time, is that God is clarifying very accurately who are those who will continue to cling to false ideas about what his word teaches, and those who are seeking a better word, a truth in Scripture that, in fact, is the way out of the darkness and forward into his kingdom.
I would agree with people who are practical or practicing Antinomians. In other words, they throw out the law of God in its particulars and in its general sense. And so they’re absolutely right. You ditch God’s law and there really is no hope, things will get worse and worse. However, if you know that your job, your responsibility, granted to the initial hearers of go therefore and teach all nations that comes to us as well is what are you going to teach the nations? You’re going to teach the nations that it’s all going to get worse and worse and so then God is going to come rescue you? Or you’re going to teach the nations, this is God says about marriage, this is what God says about marriage. This is what God says about economics. This is what God says about child rearing, this is what God says about the death penalty, when it should be given, and no questions asked. This is what he says. What does it mean to have proper testimony in a court of law? What are the effects if someone perjures themselves? Currently, for those who listen years from now or later on, we’re in the midst of a national government being revealed to have perpetuated a lie meant to undo the presidency of someone who won.
Well, if there’s no law of God, if there’s no fear of God, then really it’s just the survival of the fittest. So they proved to be more fit than the people who they were trying to hoodwink. And this goes back to who do you believe in? Do you believe in the state or do you believe in the triune God? Now, Charles, you talked about and you said it in passing but I think this is a major point. Biblically, if there’s an offense, if I accidentally back out of my garage and I kill your cow, okay? I didn’t do it on purpose. I wasn’t trying to kill your cow. But there’s the laws of restitution. So where’s the complaint? It’d be Charles is the plaintiff and Andrea is the defendant. And then God’s law would prescribe the circumstances. Well, as a result of the inquisition, what most people don’t realize, the plaintiff defendant situation changed. It would be no longer Charles has a complaint against Andrea. It’s the state of South Carolina against Andrea. So the state is declaring itself to be the injured party. The state has the resources of taxation, so the prosecutor paid by the state.
The state is the plaintiff paid by the state, and then the judges are paid by the state. And so it really looks like a fixed game, so much so in modern courts, you would be hard pressed to find a judge that would allow you to say, but the Bible says, no, the current inquisition does not tolerate blasphemies and heresies against itself. Therefore, the Bible wouldn’t count in this discussion.
One of the things that Dr. Rushdoony points out in his commentary, which I think for his teachings and lectures and sermons on the Book of Romans, and I’m quoting him almost verbatim here, is that an antinomian society is an unjust society. I think he would also be okay with saying an unrighteous society. And it’s interesting that you brought in that term a few minutes ago, because I had been using it in my preaching through the Book of Romans, because, of course, that was an issue that Paul was dealing with, and that he was being accused of that by the Jews of the day. But as a matter of fact, we are exactly seeing that. It’s not just simply you’ve got a society for… There is no regard for law, anti nomian, but of course, law is unavoidable. The question is whose law is being ignored? And the type of society that we are seeing come to fruition today is a society that promotes the law of the state, as you just referred to, and the case of the displacement of the biblical pattern for what constitutes a just and righteous society in terms of how people interact, whether it be on a one-on-one scale or even a larger scale.
It doesn’t matter if it’s two people or five people, or one village against the other, the principles don’t change. And so, as long as people are wanting to ignore and deny or attack God’s standards of righteousness and justice, they will end up with the kinds of things that we are seeing today. But now, sadly, and I think this is the key point for us, is that Christians, of all people, who claim to believe the Bible from cover to cover, as many do, ignore all of these things. I’ve been reading some books lately by several authors who I’ll just speak in a broad way and say that they are concerned to promote and talk about the importance of America being a Christian nation. And what’s striking to me is that one of the main authors of one of these books, I recently followed this man on social media, and he made a statement that the primary duty of pastors and church leaders is to talk about getting people saved and being personally righteous and holy and not to be budding into politics and social issues. I’m grossly oversimplifying what he said, but that was the gist of it.
I’m sitting here looking at this and I’m thinking, and this guy has a veneer of a reformed perspective on things, but obviously that’s not the case at all. So we have to understand that there is a lot of confusion and bad thinking on the part of some who promote ideas, even in the sectors where we think that we might be getting good advice. And so it’s important that we constantly maintain vigilance in recognizing that there is only one law word that we need to give our allegiance to and be bound by, and that is God’s law. Anything else, to a matter of degree, is going to be leading us into another inquisition.
Exactly. So if you don’t understand, when people say, The Bible is not a science textbook. The Bible is not a legal textbook. The answer is absolutely right. The Bible is not a textbook. It’s not that it doesn’t talk about judicial matters or medical matters. It talks about all of those. But if you’re going to reduce it down to a textbook which says we’re going to tell you what’s important to know as opposed to what has been said. The Bible should never be looked at as a textbook because it’s a command word. It’s not a textbook. When people realize that we’ve been the effect of a legal revolution that says the testimony of two witnesses and a confession is not sufficient to convict someone, that’s biblical. But since television came on the scene, we see all these lawyer shows and police shows, and they’re always going to cut a deal with the bad guy to get the bigger fish. That’s not biblical. But you’ve heard it for so long, or the doctor shows that we could trust all these doctors, who would have thought that a lot of these doctors in the last number of years were trying to save their skin or get bonuses for getting people to do something that may not have been in their best interest?
So the solution isn’t to document all the evils. The solution is to become an expert in biblical law and understanding so that in the day to day encounters with people, you are promoting that. And I’ll give you one really good example. A friend of mine recently experienced a miscarriage. And when she’s at the hospital, she hears the medical people referring to what happened was the products of conception. Now, at this point, she’s low blood pressure, not doing well. And she said, this isn’t a product of conception. This is my baby. Guess what? They started referring to, he or she, it was too early to know, as the baby. In other words, don’t give ground. When somebody says something that isn’t true, come back with the truth. I’m not saying you have to beat him over the head. You need to stand for truth. Maybe you plant a seed. Maybe you bring someone back to, My gosh, I’ve been compromising for so long. I forgot. Yes, this is a baby. So I don’t think we have to take over institutions. I think we have to abandon some that we should let die the death that they deserve and God is bringing.
Create new ones, but remain true to what God’s Word says. And if you don’t know, I probably just mentioned things that we go, Huh, what? Confessions? That doesn’t work. Yeah. If you read the first five books of the Bible, you would understand what Jesus meant when he said, Not one jot or tittle of the law is removed. But of course, you could just say, Jots and tittles, I don’t care what that means. You have to know what he was referring to. And so as long as we’re going to be spoon-fed, as long as we’re going to have pastors who are trying to win people as friends as opposed to fearing God in what it is they say and preach, then we’re going to get more of the same. But I do think there’s hope if the people who get it stop being quiet.
Well, Andrea, I think personally that’s a good note to end on. What you just said for the past five minutes or so has just been spot on. There’s nothing I can add to that that would be an improvement. I think that what you just said was excellent.
Okay, well, thank you. Where to get your education? Well, Dr. Rushdoony ‘s books on biblical law are a staple, but you don’t have to wait until you finish all of them before you make use of some of the other resources. The most recent published resources include two, three volume sets. One is called An Informed Faith, and the second one is called Faith and Action. Charles and I have taken a lot of the subjects of our discussions from those two sets of books. But the interesting part is all of these essays have dates attached to them. And if I covered up the date and maybe took out some references, like if he’s referencing the Soviet Union, you would say, Well, there is no Soviet Union right now. Those things internally might date it. You might think he wrote it last week. Now, did God give him some biblically faithful crystal ball? No, he wasn’t prophetic that way. He was prophetic because he understood the implications of obedience and the implications of disobedience. And I do believe that as you start this journey, it won’t take long before you’re confronted with areas where you have to say, No, that’s not what the Bible says.
Yeah, and if I can just interject, I realize that some people, they may think of this in terms of, Okay, well, this is the stuff that seminary students in the student lounge are going to be debating that has absolutely nothing to do with me or my life. I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of a pen. But friends, this is not anything like that. I started, for the purposes of this discussion, these two essays in Faith in Action, the first one on the grand inquisitor, I got out my pencil, and I just said, Okay, I’m just going to highlight a few things that I can bring into our podcast. Andrea, when I was done, I had underlined everything in the essay. Everything. And you don’t have to be a, quote, Rushdoony fan to come away with realizing that here is a person in his writings based on Scripture, was addressing issues that were in a nascent phase in the 1970s or 60s or 80s, whenever he was doing a lot of this writing, that you read this and you say, This is absolutely incredible. Like you just said, this could be just from yesterday’s headlines, but it’s not just the describing of the problem, it’s also the description of the solution.
And the fundamental issue, just to quote one part of that essay, he says, The modern grand inquisitor is the most powerful oppressor in all history because he has the powers of state in his hand. He holds the knife and the gun, the courts, and the funds. Law is what he declares it to be. That’s the battleground. Those are the battle lines right there. Whose law? God’s law or man’s law? And so instead of being frustrated and discouraged, which maybe some people would say, Wow, they’re just both so upset about. No, it’s quite the opposite. Knowing the remedy helps you with the illness. If all you see is the illness and you say it’s never going to get any better, well, then that’s the reason to be discouraged. But over the past, I would say, Charles, and you have a teaching ministry as well, yours is a pulpit ministry. Mine is definitely not a pulpit Ministry. But seeing people who say, I understand now, Oh, my goodness, this makes so much more sense. T hen once they get past, I wish I had known this sooner, I get to remind them of God’s providence is that God revealed it to them when he chose to do so.
But instead of lamenting how long you haven’t been doing something, be encouraged that you can go out today and do something. I always tell them, If you can’t figure out how to do that in your life, give me a call and we can have a conversation.
Thank you, Charles. Hopefully people will get a hold of those volumes. They’re available at ChalcedonStore.com and begin the journey of having a hope, a true, genuine hope that allows them to be bold in their pursuits of kingdom work. Out of the Question podcast at gmail. com is how you reach us if you wish to, and we’ll talk to you next time.
Thank you, Andrea. Thanks for listening to Out of the Question. For more information on this and other topics, please visit Chalcedon.edu