Metaphysical Escape From Moral Responsibility

From Martin G. Selbrede’s Regeneration, not Revolution:

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Proverbs 13:15b teaches us that “the way of transgressors is hard,” putting the focus on moral transgression of the law. By shifting the focus to metaphysics, to institutions, man escapes this indictment by shaping new explanations for his difficulties. By erasing the moral dimension of God’s world, man seeks solutions in metaphysics, and because his problems aren’t actually metaphysical in nature, he remains at war with his fellow man and himself. Consider Rushdoony’s comments on the idea of invisible rulers:

Many people like to believe that somewhere invisible rulers pull the strings which govern all of us … [Actually], the strings that pull us come out of our heart and mind.5

We are therefore awash in Manichaeanism—a heresy pervading our era precisely because it favors the metaphysical over the moral. Rushdoony observes that it’s not so much a heresy as it is a rival religion:6

[T]he contrast in Manichaeanism is not between good and evil as moral positions but as metaphysical ones.7

The heightened rancor in today’s discourse can be traced to the coercive dominance of Manichaeanism, where even the solutions to problems are offered in Manichaean terms, which guarantee their failure. The actual solution, one rejected by Manichaeanism, is laid out by Rushdoony:

For Biblical faith, salvation is by Christ’s atonement and by His regenerating work in us. From being rebels against God, we become members of Christ’s new humanity. This conversion makes us a new creation in the moral, not the metaphysical sense.8

But man seeks solutions outside of the moral dimension, which is why he hates God’s law, which exposes him as a covenant-breaker by marking out how he should walk. God’s law blocks man from playing the victim card and retreating into metaphysics, which is why man rejects it and refuses to see himself as a transgressor against moral order.


5. Rousas John Rushdoony, An Informed Faith (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross Hoss Books, 2017), vol. 3, p. 804. Rushdoony concludes that in actual fact “we are the invisible rulers who will not rule” (p. 807).

6. ibid, p. 715. On page 11 of God’s Plan for Victory Rushdoony says further of Manichaeanism that “it is more than heresy: it is apostasy.”

7. ibid.

8. ibid.

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Life is hard, and both the culture and the rulers are unjust.

This does not remove our responsibility to uphold the law ourselves. To do what is right, even when it is difficult. To treat our enemies justly, to keep our promises and oaths, to bring honour to our Creator’s Name.

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