The Priesthood of All Believers
Dr. R.J. Rushdoony
(The bold in the quote is mine.)
Just recently I read the statement by a top clergyman in one church who said that it was a sin for anyone to leave a denomination when the profession of faith was orthodox. Now, this is nonsense. […] Saint James had something to say about that, he declared: “Thou believest that there is one God. Thou doest well. The devils also believe and tremble, but wilt thou know oh vain man that faith without works is dead?”
Saint James put his finger on it. So they profess the orthodox faith? But faith without works is dead. And it is important therefore that the priesthood of all believers be geared not only to faith but to works as well. It is geared not to the church, but to the kingdom of God.
Doctor Van Til in writing on the kingdom of God has called it: “Mans highest good.” And he wrote and I quote: “By the term kingdom of God, we mean the realized program of God for man. We would think of man as adopting for himself this program of God as his own ideal, and as setting and keeping his powers in motion in order to reach that goal that has been sort for him, and that he has set for himself. We propose briefly to look at this program which God has set for man, and which man should have set for himself. The most important aspect of this program is surely that man should realize himself as God’s vicegerent in history. Man was created God’s vicegerent, and he must realize himself as God’s vicegerent. There is no contradiction between these two statements; man was created a character, and yet he had to make himself even more of a character. So we may say that man was created a king, in order that he might become more of a king than he was.”
Thus the purpose of man’s calling is that he realize himself as a king, priest, and prophet, under God. And dedicate himself in his areas of dominion and his calling to God, and to the service of Gods kingdom. Man’s self-realization is only possible when man fulfills his priestly calling. The priesthood of all believers thus is a very important doctrine. In this day when so much is made of democracy, we as Christians can see the fallacy of Democracy. Because Democracy puts the power in he people, and authority in the people, without dealing with the fact that man is a sinner. But the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers realizes far more than the doctrine of democracy, because it recognizes that it is a priesthood to God. It recognizes that all authority belongs to God. But then it declares that institutions cannot play the role of God. They cannot be the be-all and end-all of life. It is not man’s calling to build a super church, or a super state, or a super school. None of these things can take priority. All of them tend to take priority, and they feel: “We are the key, we are the answer, so all of you people get in and build us up.” But the priesthood of all believers makes emphatic that authority remains with God, but the primary area of action, is in the life and work of the believer. His faith, applied and developed in terms of the realities of every-day life.
This is why our country thrived in its early years, because it was grounded on the priesthood of all believers. When that doctrine was secularized, and made into the doctrine of democracy, then we began rapidly to decay. Between the two concepts there is a superficial resemblance, but a vast difference. Democracy will always fail. The priesthood of believers, can under God, establish and develop the implications of Gods kingdom. It can meet the requirements of Gods calling, and magnify His holy name. Let us pray.
The Old Order A-dying
A Christian society places the locus of power in the hands of God, the Source of the Law.
A Secular society places the locus of power in the hands of Men. The Right Sort of Men, of course.
In a democracy, the Right Sort of Men are those who have the most votes.
Currently, it is best to say that we live in a secular society where power is placed in a mix of elected officials and administrative bureaucrats, be they judges or the directors of this or that government agency.
“WE — a carefully selected we, of course! — are the Source of the Law.”
This delusion is going to continue until the welfare state is bankrupt, and there are no more stolen carrots to pay off the dogs, the corrupt masses.
After that happens, there’s going to be a great deal of decentralization: political, yes, but also cultural and economic. Some of those decentralized groups are going to have a Christian orientation.
The New Order A-borning
It is self-evident that a Secularist social order has just as much use for Christians as an Islamic social order. Debatably, a good deal less use than the Muslims.
Assuming that Christians don’t care to beg for scraps from their Master’s table — something that will be true when, and only when, there are no scraps to flick off for the Inferiors to eat — we will have to raise up our own communities and our own societies, in accordance to the Laws of God.
This can well be democratic, or monarchial, or aristocratic, or administrative/meritocratic. (I prefer a broadly libertarian/republican order, myself: but more than one possibility if available.)
It will be necessarily libertarian to a large extent, as the Commadnments of God just don’t support a massive controlling state apparatus.
The goal of the Law is to teach men godly self-governance in their various spheres — familial/business, religious, public justice — not to have everything owned and managed by the Right Sort.
Not everything under the King, or the President, or the Priest, or the Party Chairman, or even the Corporate Tycoon.
Many different authorities, all under God.
In a democracy, this would be tied to an oath to uphold the Law of God, as determined by the Christian Trinity and described by the Bible. Same for a King, or a Director, or a Tribal Chieftain, or a Supreme Court judge.
And not just a promise of obedience under threat of a curse. Actual obedience to God, and actual restrictions to the power of wealthy and powerful men.
Justice and liberty — not centralized power under some church authority, or artistic clique, or military strongman, or party leader, or corporate board, or scientific council, or academic/media clerisy class — is the goal of God.
That is what the Kingdom of God consists of.
We start small – in our hearts, in our families, in our towns, in our businesses and neighbourhoods.
We start small… and grow and grow, generation after generation.
Until the Kingdom of God fills the earth.
(With, admittedly, some setbacks. We are not higher than our Master, after all, who had to endure pain and loss and public disgrace, before finally gaining the victory.)