Systematic Theology – Authority
Living Under Authority
R. J. R. Rushdoony
Our subject is living under authority and our particular concern is the thirteenth verse of Colossians one. It is important for us to know the nature of authority. To know what constitutes true authority and false authority. Most people have a preference through a superficial solution which will make life easier. Hence they avoid the essential question of authority. Moreover our age has a penchant for seeing alternatives in terms of ridiculously obvious ones. We are told for example by some, and I hear it regularly, that the federal government is a legitimate God created authority, and therefore we have a duty of obedience. True, but what are the limits of it? That’s the question. Where does it begin and end? Moreover we must say further that neither republicans nor democrats can command obedience as though they were the state. The better question would be, the better alternative is “does the federal government always and in all things have a legitimate authority over us?” And this is the question that our day in particular needs to ask.
The limit of State Authority is a question that Our Betters don’t care to be asked.
That is to be expected.
The really interesting point is that the Commoners also don’t care to ask the question, by and large.
To ask the question is to get an answer… and to be responsible for acting, based on that answer.
The Biblical imperative that “knowledge is tied to responsibility” is sensed by the general population.
Sensed… and hated.
Most men don’t want the hard work of taking responsibility for their lives. It’s easier to just trust and obey the Leader with his promises of an easy life in return for compliance, rather than God and His demand for righteousness, for His Law to be inscribed on our hearts.
National vaccinations of adults is a federal breakthrough, but there is nothing radical about it. Americans have dutifully allowed state governments to vaccinate their children for over 160 years. If Americans had a philosophical or religious objection to this, the vast majority of Americans would not have put their children at risk by enrolling them in public schools. But they did. They do. They will. They do not care. They are in favor of both: vaccinations and state education.
Our parents told us that they had to obey the law. We had to get compulsory vaccines to attend public school. Their parents told them the same thing. Generation after generation, Americans have been immunized against the anti-VAXX movement. Anybody in that movement is regarded as a crackpot. “Vaccines save lives in school.”If Bill Gates Is the #1 Influence Behind the Vaccines, Then Trump Is His Lackey
People put chains on their own wrists and necks, to avoid taking responsibility and accountability in their lives.
God explicitly forbids Christians from going down that road. We KNOW that we will be personally held accountable for our actions.
“I was just following orders” Does Not Cut It.
To give an idea of the kind of abuse of texts in the Bible that deal with authority there is the favorite text with many husbands, Ephesians 5:22 & 23
22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church.
Now I submit from very unhappy experience that many men are in the church and are nominally Christians because they like such verses. It’s a good way of keeping the woman in line. After all she goes to church and takes it seriously, then she feels a duty of obedience. This gives such nominal hypocritical Christian’s security in there waywardness and freedom in what they do. But more than a century ago Charles Hodge in commenting on this text made it clear what it means, and I quote “She is to be subject in everything. That is the subjection is not limited to any one sphere or department of the social life, but extends to all. The wife is not subject as to some things and independent as to others but she is subject as to all. This of course does not mean that the authority of the husband is unlimited. It teaches its extent, not its degree. It extends over all departments but is limited in all; first by the nature of the relation, and secondly by the higher authority of God. No superior whether master, parent, husband, or magistrate can make it obligatory on us either to do what God forbids or not to do what God commands. So long as our allegiance to God is preserved an obedience to man is made a part of our obedience to Him, we retain our liberty and our integrity.” In other words as Hodge said, all authority under God is conditional, and no authority can long exist apart from Him.
“I was just obeying my husband” doesn’t cut it, either, no more than “I was just obeying the government.”
Merely because the government – but not the husband – can declare evil to be good by law, and back its words by the courts, numerous men with badges and guns, and the mainstream media noise machine, does not change the face that an evil government order remains an evil government order.
Power does not justify all things… regardless of what the secularists say. Or those muscle-bound patriarchalists, for that matter.
God justifies what He says is right, and condemns what He says is wrong. And His Word, His Law-Word, is both subjectively and objectively correct.
His Law is also enforced, too. Perhaps not immediately… but eventually.
And with great ferocity, too, on the heads of those who despise it.
Now this raises some obvious questions, what authority does a Godless or pagan state have over us? At times in the past popes dissolved the authority of subjects. The New Testament term for legitimate authority or power, because it means both, is exousia. It is normally reserved, that word exousia, authority, for Godly authority. But we have two uses of the word which depart from this. Satan is declared by scripture to have authority under God and by God’s permission. In Luke 22:52 our Lord says that Satan has been given power, authority, to crucify Christ. Now it is this word which appears in Colossians 1:13, because what Paul says is the Father has delivered us from the power, the legitimate authority, of darkness and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son. In other words, what we are plainly told here is that we were under legitimate authority when were under Satan. Now we are under the legitimate authority of Jesus Christ because we have been transferred from the one realm to the other by the atonement of Jesus Christ. Our sin bearer Christ has delivered us thus from one authority to another, we are now separated from Satan’s authority.
Well what if the state is godless and a band of robbers, as Augustine said, a Mafia? Because Augustine made it clear that every civil government that is not under God is no more than a mafia. The medieval era in terms of this vindicated at times tyrannicide. However I think historians tend to forget of the medieval scholars who did not agree with tyrannicide. Paul says “let every man abide in the same calling where-in he was called” in first Corinthians 7:20 and again in verse 23 “ye are bought with a price, be not ye the servants of men.” As I’ve said more than once our way according to scripture is regeneration, not revolution.
Regeneration – including reconstruction – is the way forward under a pagan state.
Start small, and grow as you grow in competence and wisdom.
Power is not the goal: the spread and multiplication of righteousness, holiness, and compassion is.
In the home… and into the general community, as well.
The marks of a valid church are good and necessary marks, but does a dead church have any authority? For that matter can a dead and buried husband control a living wife legitimately? Or a dead not-yet married husband, can he control his wife legitimately? Our Lord says “by your fruits shall ye know them.” More is meant by good fruits then being merely alive and breathing. Satan has God given authority, when we are indifferent to God’s authority, when we do not bear fruit under God we pass under Satan’s authority. Our Lord says in John 15 verse 1 and 2, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
The cast away branch may be formally correct, but it bears no fruit. We cannot define our faith in terms of our neighbor or our church in terms of another church as did the Pharisee praying in the temple “I thank Thee God that I am not like unto these.” We cannot have a humanistic definition; our standard must be the Lord’s. And he requires a living faith and the fruits of faith. Thus our fruits, our works will clearly manifest the authority in which we live and move and have our being. We are always under authority, but whose authority? Let us pray.
Oh Lord our God Thou hast translated us from the authorities of the powers of darkness to the authority of Thy Son our Savior, Jesus Christ. Make us ever zealous in His service, ever fruitful unto Him, that we may not be transferred as individuals, as churches, and as nations, back to the authority of darkness. In Jesus Name, amen.
Are there any questions about our lesson?
A grim truth: God can — and does! — place rebellious and lawless men under the authority of Satan.
That should be extremely obvious, in our fear-driven and tyrannical culture, where salvation is supposed to come from ineffective masks and obsolete vaccinations. Or — to be less tied to the mania of the day — from Above-the-Law speech controls, Above-the-Law “civil asset” seizures, and Above-the-Law wealth redistribution programs.
But all these power moves — including the vaccinations and even the silly masks — are supported by numerous people. Often, the majority of the population… a population often eager to punish dissent.
God is only being just and fair, when He places lawless, willfully ignorant, and responsibility-shunning under lawless and unrestricted authorities.
If Christians don’t like this — and we shouldn’t! — we need to get serious about changing it.
It starts with protecting the weakest among us, including our children, from mandatory vaccinations and mandatory indoctrination by our power-and-control seeking Betters. it continues with a refusal to engage in theft-by-ballot box, saying no to taxing and crippling our neighbours to enrich and empower ourselves.
When we sacrifice time, money, and energy to defend the little ones God has placed under out authority, God will defend our own lives, property, and freedom.
We gain the boon, the blessing, of living under God’s authority, instead of the curse of living under the authority we deserve.
The authority of our grinning, contemptuous Betters.