The Spirit of Adoption

Systematic Theology – Authority
The Spirit of Adoption
Rushdoony Dr. R.J.R.

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Our scripture lesson is from Romans eight verses fourteen through seventeen, and our subject as we continue our studies in the doctrine of authority is the spirit of adoption, the spirit of adoption, Romans eight fourteen through seventeen. “14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

Our scripture lesson is from Romans eight verses fourteen through seventeen, and our subject as we continue our studies in the doctrine of authority is the spirit of adoption, the spirit of adoption, Romans eight fourteen through seventeen. “14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

As we have seen the Bible grounds authority on God’s law, his grace and his covenant, not on the natural order. We have seen that the authority of parents is not a naturalistic fact but a supernatural one. The natural fact of generations of parents is a creation of God in an area of His law. God created all things as aspects of His law order. The family is one such area where His law order is expressed, but the priority always belongs to God. The authority comes from God, not from the order He created. The Bible gives an abundant evidence of the secondary nature of the natural order. After all the first Adam was supplanted by the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Cain the first born was supplanted by Able and then Seth. Isaac was supplanted by Ishmael, Jacob prevailed over Esau, and Joseph over Rueben, as did Judah also. The logic of the natural order of authority, its succession is regularly overturned by God in scripture and in all of history. His providence brings to pass His purposes, His authority, not the natural humanistic authority. If the humanistic concept of authority prevailed there would be no change in all of history. The fisrt tyranny would be the last tyranny also.

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Merely because something is natural, does not mean that it is good.

Or that it will be protected by God.

Islam as the Natural Religion of Man

Note that Islam specifically insists that only the natural family exists: it is impossible for a Muslim that observes Sharia to actually bring in a son into his family.

  • Care for him as a kind act to a stranger? Yes.
  • Bring him into the family as a son who has lawful family rights, protections, and inheritance? No.

But then again, Islam insists that men are by nature good, and that to outwardly obey Islamic law makes one a Muslim, regardless of what you keep in your heart.

Muslims are going to have a great deal of difficulty, dealing with the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

And Muslims who insist on the invalidity of adoption cannot be adopted into the family of Christ, but must remain in their natural family, the family of Adam.

Mini-Summary: The rebellious enemies of God, to a surprisingly high degree, actively choose hell over heaven.

I doubt that they actually desire to go into the Lake of Fire, not even the demons, not even Satan.

But if it’s a choice between the Lake of Fire and renouncing their pride, admitting they were wrong, and bending the knee to Christ, they inevitably choose the fire.

We believing Christians would do just the same, if God did not save our intensely rebellious, demonically prideful, spiritually dead bodies and souls from before the dawn of time.

We did not choose life, not in the beginning. Life chose us, and brought us out from the hell we deeply deserve. Then, with His Spirit in us, we finally began to breathe, live, and value life in Christ over death apart form Him.

The Reversal of the Natural Order

To continue quoting Rushdoony:

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Now in our text Romans eight fourteen through seventeen we have a statement of this great reversal of the natural order. With man adoption is a last resort. When all else fails we turn to adoption. But no so with God, it is His essential means. God’s order gives adoption priority; it gives adoption the sole place in salvation. Now the people of antiquity did use adoption, but they saw bareness as a curse, and more than one woman in the Bible refers to it as such, but not so God. He declares it to be very often the prelude to blessing.

But Even more we have a remarkable prophesy in Isaiah fifty-four verses one through five.

“1 Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

2 Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

3 For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

5 For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”

This is an amazing prophesy. God is here speaking to individuals, as well as to groups. But He makes it very specific, “Sing oh barren.” And he includes also the windowed and the bereaved, the desolate person. And what he says from the Humanistic point “you’ve been stripped of all your hope, you have no children or you’re widowed and every hope you had has been shattered.” But what is the word of God? Sing oh barren. One of the most amazing statements in the Bible, that precisely those who are barren or desolate or widowed are going to be blessed, and more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife. 

And then the command to enlarge their dwelling place, to make it bigger and bigger, to encompass the whole world. Why? Because God says I’m preparing you by all that you’ve experienced to be mighty and effectual in terms of my kingdom, and the blessings that shall go forth from you shall in time reach all nations and all peoples. For Thine maker is Thy husband, the Lord of hosts is His name and Thy Redeemer, the holy One of Israel. The God of the whole earth shall He be called. And in terms of that reaching out and bringing the whole world by adoption into the kingdom, the barren, the widowed, the desolate, are going to be used by God and are being prepared by God for His purpose, which is the adoption of the whole world. And so God says “you are a part of this great purpose.” The imagery of the Bible is not accidental. God says to these, the widowed, the Barren, the desolate, that they are in a very different way to be instrumental in taking over the world in inheriting the Gentiles, the children of faith and not of blood. This is a setting aside of the natural order. Sing oh barren is a song that goes against the grain of the natural order. 

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God celebrates the barren woman, willing to be used by her Maker.

“More are the children of the desolate than that of the married wife, saith the Lord.”

and again, quoting Rushdoony,

“God says to these, the widowed, the Barren, the desolate, that they are in a very different way to be instrumental in taking over the world in inheriting the Gentiles, the children of faith and not of blood.”

The vision of God is distinctly different, than the vision of Man.

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But in John 8:39 our Lord speaks the same way, He tells the Pharisees’ and scribes that their natural inherited authority is going to be set aside. Now it is true that all such inherited natural authority does has a God derived character. We live a network of authorities, of powers that be. But the real authorities, however real these natural ones are, are the ultimate ones. And if these authorities on the human scene are not faithful they violate the condition of their authority. Peter said we ought to obey God rather than men. Can a church for example which approves of abortion command us? Say what you will about the authority of the church, how can a church which goes clearly against God’s law and God’s order ever command us? Can a church which denies the authority of Jesus Christ command us? A church which denies he is the incarnate Son of God, and that His atonement is our salvation; can we even call it any longer a church?

Paul in Romans 8:14-17 contrasts the spirit of bondage and the Holy Spirit of adoption. We have on the one hand depravity, man’s separation from God, his rebellion against God as against man’s redemption in Christ, and his adoption. The purely naturalistic doctrine of authority to often becomes the spirit of bondage. Where man’s sin leads to a denial of God’s authority no natural authority can lead to anything but bondage. Because where God’s authority is denied there is no supreme court to which man can appeal against man. When the courts say as our Supreme court has made clear that it is ultimate, and that it is the maker of law, and that there is no absolute, no God in effect, then right and wrong are what the courts say they are; and no man has the right to question the absoluteness of man’s courts, or the decrees or fiats of state. There is no right beyond the state.

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“The purely naturalistic doctrine of authority to often becomes the spirit of bondage. Where man’s sin leads to a denial of God’s authority no natural authority can lead to anything but bondage.”

Islamic cultures are not known for their love of liberty.

As is becoming obvious with time, Secularist cultures have no love for liberty, either.

(Then again, the pragmatic, power-hungry, man-centred Muslim and the pragmatic, power-hungry, man-centred Secularist bear more than a passing resemblance to each other.)

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n Paris in the thirteenth century at the university many Dominicans were teaching the radical concepts of Aristotle and Averroes. Pope John the 21st asked Steven Tempia {?} the bishop of Paris to investigate it and deal with it, and the Bishop of Paris condemned two hundred and nineteen propositions that these Dominicans at the university who were supposedly defenders of the faith were teaching. The whole of it is an interesting incidents of academic arrogance, but let me site two which are relevant to what we are discussing. All of them are, but these two in particular. Proposition 48 which was condemned by the bishop said, and I quote, “God cannot be the cause of a new creation, nor can he be the cause of anything new.”They had reduced God to an Aristotelian limiting concept. The idea of a first cause, (but only an idea because they had to posit a beginning) not a reality; and therefore he could not create nor could he govern in any sense. Hence in proposition 175 we read, and I quote “the Christian law impedes learning.” The Christian law impedes learning, why? Well if God has a “thou shalt not” as given in the Bible, then where’s man freedom to make His own law and determine for Himself what constitutes good and evil.

Now the interference of the Bishop of Paris with the University of Paris is cited in some textbooks as an example of authoritarianism and repressiveness; but I submit it insured freedom. And the sad fact is that these heretics finally prevailed and destroyed Christendom. Because their ideas said there is no God and there is no law beyond man and the state, it is any wonder that this thinking led to the tyrants of the age of the renaissance? Men whose word was absolute law, men who said “my will be done, and who can question that it is right?” The only one who could question it was the man who killed him and said “it is my will which is right.” And it led to the brought force which prevailed in renaissance tyranny. 

And of course this is what happened as the thinkers of the last century step by step undercut the Biblical faith. As they developed a legal positivism and said there was no right or wrong above what the state decrees. John Hallowell in a study written over forty years ago I think entitled The Decline of Liberalism as an Ideology traced the liberal thinkers who wanted independence from God to Hitler. Step by step as they destroyed any authority, any law beyond man and in God the made the state God walking on earth. The result was that when the Nazi’s proclaimed these doctrines publicly they had the universities supports. The liberals, the positivists, and all the universities provided the rational for Hitler. He did not control the universities, they welcomed him because he was their product.

This is why God strikes at the natural order as any source of ultimate authority. It is the spirit of adoption which makes us heirs of God, it is God the Lord, God the King who says “He raises up one and sets aside another by His sovereign decree” Natural order is under God. Thus instead of being the lawless element in society because of are obedience to God’s higher authority, we become the law abiding element. And instead of our faith being authoritarianism it is the only faith that works for freedom, because it takes authority and places it beyond man and in God alone; and all human authorities under God and subject to His will. Today the Spirit of Bondage by its rebellion against God’s authority has undermined all true authority and is creating a totalitarian order. Only as we recognize the Biblical doctrine of authority, and how basic the concept of adoption is, how basic the fact is that authority on the human scene is always derivative and conditioned only so can we have a re-birth of freedom. Let us pray. 

Thy word oh Lord is truth, and Thy word is law, and Thou art the authority, and Thine is the power, the glory, and the dominion. Teach us oh Lord day by day to walk in terms of Thine authority and to reconstruct all things in terms of faithfulness to Thy law word. Bless us to this purpose in Jesus name, amen.

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The money quote:

John Hallowell in a study written over forty years ago I think entitled The Decline of Liberalism as an Ideology traced the liberal thinkers who wanted independence from God to Hitler. Step by step as they destroyed any authority, any law beyond man and in God the made the state God walking on earth. The result was that when the Nazi’s proclaimed these doctrines publicly they had the universities supports. The liberals, the positivists, and all the universities provided the rational for Hitler. He did not control the universities, they welcomed him because he was their product.

What actual Christian churches remained was the sole surviving opposition to Hitler, Catholic as well as Protestant.

Note that plenty fo Protestant churches bent the knee to that particular Antichrist. And it would be remiss to ignore Luther’s hatred of the Jews, or his hatred of Biblical law, preferring to build the “Two Kingdoms” theology: one being the ever-growing Authority of the State, and the other the ever-shrinking Authority of the Church.

Jesus Christ rules one Kingdom, that covers both heaven and earth.

Quoting from The ‘Two-Kingdom’ Lutheran Calvinism by P. Andrew Sandlin

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The Betrayal of the Reformed Tradition
In repudiating large portions of the Reformed tradition, and advocating a return to the Augustinian idea of “two kingdoms,” Horton is disposing of the entire notion of Christian civilization. He is undoubtedly aware that such a notion, though a prominent feature of the Reformed tradition, is a hard sell in an increasingly pluralistic world. It was, of course, no less a hard sell in the pre-Constantinian world. The unifying principle of that world was the Roman Empire. The unifying principle today is equally the state. This is a frequent combination in history: religious pluralism and statist monism the state, not religion, is the unifying force in all of life. Or, rather, the state as religion is the unifying force in all of life.

To imply that the state is the sphere of reason while the church is the sphere of grace is to pose a duality of authoritative sources that the Bible and much of the Reformed tradition will never permit. These Lutheranizing Calvinists are, I repeat, abandoning hope in Christian civilization. This swerves not only from Byzantine and medieval Christianity, but also Reformed Christianity, and counters with the Lutheran paradigm. What we are witnessing in Horton’s essay, as well as in other recent Reformed writings,18 is the Lutheranization of the Reformed church. Unlike the Reformed tradition, the Lutheran alternative has consistently maintained the “two-kingdoms” theory.19 The church is the realm of grace, and the state and the wider society is the realm of nature (“natural law”). This theory is ripe for murderous but shrewd tyrants like Adolph Hitler, who take advantage of the church’s withdrawal into the four walls of the institutional church and its willingness to be seduced by a state that can convince the church of the validity of a “natural” regime. By contrast, few sectors of the church have stood as vigorously and courageously against political tyranny as the Reformed church, because the latter has refused to limit Christ’s authority to the church but has recognized that the magistrate too is bound to submit to the law of God in the Bible. Post-Reformational Calvinists strike fear into the hearts of political tyrants because these Calvinists refuse to limit Biblical authority to the church.20 Two-kingdom advocates, on the other hand, are ripe pickings for these tyrants.

For the Reformed church to embrace the Lutheran “two-kingdom” theory is to surrender a critical distinctive of its faith and to compromise Jesus Christ’s authority in all dimensions of life. To argue that society, including the state, is permissibly non-Christian is necessarily to argue that it is permissibly anti-Christian. The issue is not whether each member of society must be a Christian, and certainly not whether the state should force anyone to become a Christian, ideas and practices which Calvinists abhor. Rather, the issue is whether we will continue to advocate and work for Christian civilization Biblical Christianity as the unifying principle of all of life individual, family, church, science, arts, media, education, technology, and even the state. The founder of Westminster Seminary, J. Gresham Machen, loyally carried forward this Reformed tradition when he declared, as quoted in the previous editorial: “The Christian cannot be satisfied so long as any human activity is either opposed to Christianity or out of all connection with Christianity. Christianity must pervade not merely all nations, but also all of human thought.”21

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Getting to the point:

Unlike the Reformed tradition, the Lutheran alternative has consistently maintained the “two-kingdoms” theory. The church is the realm of grace, and the state and the wider society is the realm of nature (“natural law”). This theory is ripe for murderous but shrewd tyrants like Adolph Hitler, who take advantage of the church’s withdrawal into the four walls of the institutional church and its willingness to be seduced by a state that can convince the church of the validity of a “natural” regime.

The Lutherans have no problem with Two Kingdom theology.

God has no time for it.

Jesus’s authority is not divided, but absolute and encompassing.

And I see no reason why the Natural Man, the followers of Adam (who turned their back on Christ), should have their evil way tolerated and supported by Christians.

It’s time to break up the deeply natural Empire of Man… and the hissing, poisonous, oppressive, murderous, deceptive thing they follow and obey, knowingly or not.

And it’s time to expand the profoundly supernatural Kingdom of Christ, the Lamb Upon the Throne.

The greatest Land of Liberty.

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