Judging Nothing Before The Time

An interesting consideration on communism as a religious predecessor as Marxism in the pre-Reformation era.

Systematic Theology – Authority
By What Authority?
Professor: Rushdoony Dr. R.J.R.

—<Quote begins>—

Our scripture is from Matthew the 21st chapter verses 23-27 and our subject “By What Authority?” we continue our studies in the doctrine of Biblical authority. Matthew 21 verses 23-27.

“ 23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?

24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things.

25 The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, if we shall say, from heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?

26 But if we shall say, of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.

27 And they answered Jesus, and said, we cannot tell. And he said unto them, neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.”

The implications of this text for the doctrine of authority is sometimes bypassed by scholars and the reason for doing so is they say that the authority of Jesus is as that of God incarnate, and therefore there is a difference between His authority and that of the rest of us. However this is an invalid statement because our Lord places the issue on the human level by raising the question of John the Baptist’s authority. So that our Lord very definitely makes clear that He was not claiming any authority as He was teaching other than that which scripture provided.

—<Quote ends>—

This is a most interesting insight. When it came to clearing out the temple from the merchant-thieves, Jesus specifically avoided claiming that His personal divine authority allowed Him to do so.

Instead, Jesus tied his right to do so directly to scripture: any believing Christian has the right to clear out a corrupt temple — or, more pointedly, a corrupt church — so long as they have lawful and just Biblical backing to do so.

Jesus is our example, in more than one way.

—<Quote begins>—

Now the Greek word which is used here for authority is exousia so that we have no particular special problem with the word, it is a word we’ve dealt with previously, exousia, so that authority here is exactly what we would think it to be. The question “By what authority?” is important. It is interesting that the question has been raised most in the Western churches, protestant and catholic. And that it has been a question which has repeatedly created problems and disorders have arisen because of the question of authority. However it is significant that precisely where this question has been raised again and again the greatest vitality in Christendom has been shown, it has been in the Western churches. Obviously therefore it is an important question.

—<Quote ends>—

Christian cultures challenge authority.

Secularist cultures meekly submit to whatever nonsense the Big Men say, so long as they have Proper State-recognized Credentials.

  • Are men women when the government say so? Absolutely!
  • Can whites be racists, but blacks cannot be racists? Definitely!
  • How about math? Yep!
  • Must we inject untested and experimental drugs when the State demands it? Of course!
  • Must we spout nonsense because the courts say so, and must we declare something is true when we know full well it is a lie? Obviously!
  • Are things true, just because powerful/state-credentialed people say it is true? This is clearly the case!

Secularists meekly submit and obey to whoever has political power, as Power Justifies All Things…

…almost.

Just as long as the authorities hate God and despise His word, the secularist is completely satisfied with whatever happens next. NOTHING can ever justify what God wants, but POLITICAL POWER always justifies what Powerful Men want.

A most curious attitude, that.

I wonder why Politically Powerful People think that way.

Hmmm….

In contrast, Christians are expected to challenge authority, especially when power is being used in an unjust and unrighteous manner… as defined by God, in His Law-Word, the Holy Bible.

“Is the Mighty Man giving just, good, and legitimate commands? Or is he just spouting nonsense on stilts?”

Note that Secularists dismiss the concept of “Just”, “Good”, and “Legitimate”, as they are mere cultural flavouring at best, more likely paper-thin meaningless babble.

In their eyes, the only things that actually matters is power: badges and guns first, and then money and media.

Also, note that there is no way to define or describe nonsense in secularist cultures.

There is only “What is in accordance to government ideology… at this moment in time” and “What challenges government ideology… at this moment in time.”

“When you have the guns and make the laws, you can easily get the money and media. You also get the scientist and experts as well… and can shut them up or imprison them, if they go off message.”

Or, in other words, Power Justifies All Things.

At least, in the courts owned and controlled by Politically Powerful Men.

—<Quote begins>—

Now let us examine the nature of the problem of authority in terms of this question “by what authority?” historically first of all. A good place to begin is with Saint Francis of Assisi. Before his death in 1226 Francis commissions {?} had reached England, France, Germany, Spain, Morocco, Turkey, and Palestine. Less then 20 years after his death Franciscans had reached the court of the great Mogul in India. The Franciscans had a missionary zeal, a dedication, and the ability of Francis himself was truly remarkable. On the other hand there were many semi-heretical undercurrents present in Francis and his followers. With good reason the Vatican looked on Francis with great misgivings, as did many other churchmen. The strict Franciscans, who came to be known after Francis death as spiritual Franciscans, were strong adherents of the thinking of Abbot Joachim of Fiore. This was third age thinking, very heretical. It has had a long and ugly history in Western thought.

Also Francis was in essence a communist. He believed the ideal state for Christians who really took the faith seriously was communism, to own no property. Armstrong tells us, and I quote “When he found that a house had been built in which to hold a chapter meeting he was so incensed that the brethren should be involved in holding property that he clambered to the roof and began ripping off the tiles, only stopping when it was pointed out to him that the house did not belong to the friars.” Francis here harked back to an element in Greco-Roman culture. The Greco-Roman’s believed in a golden age in the past, a golden age which was property-less, and therefore this was the ideal state. And many of the philosophers and lawyers who came into the faith brought with them this Greco-Roman concept of the golden age and of a property-less ideal. They went to the Bible and misused a few verses here and there to justify their golden-age thinking.

For example one of the most powerful and influential bishops in the early church was in the late third and early fourth century Saint Ambrose. Ambrose was a very prominent person; he was showing interest in the faith and attending a catechumen class. He had not even been baptized, nor set a date, or indicated as of yet that he was ready to be baptized when the bishop died and both church and state moved to make this man, a very prominent Roman, bishop; because he was such a powerful force. And so he was made bishop by acclamation and then baptized and made bishop. Now Saint Ambrose was a very powerful thinker, powerful preacher, who simply assumed in terms of his background that Communism was the ideal Christian state. That vein continued in the church, many of the monastic orders in particular as well as prominent preachers harked back to it. However the popes were beginning to see that this was not scriptural, that there were serious problems with the whole concept when Francis and Peter Waldo of Lyon, founder of the Waldensians, asked for approval of the Vatican. In 1179 Alexander the 3rd gave limited confirmation to the poor men of Lyon who later became the poor Catholics, an order with the church. In 1210 Innocent the 3rd did the same for the Franciscans. Both did this with misgivings. Both recognized however there were elements of faith and dedication here which they could not condemn. Subsequently the papacy did condemn the whole idea of communism and the spiritual Franciscans had to be condemned totally. And the Franciscans who did not share that point of view, and who had really departed from Francis of Assisi went their way developing those approved ideas of Francis of Assisi.

Now I cite this as a problem case, and how it was dealt with. It is easy for us to be wise at a distance, seeing the beginning and the end. But we must remember that there are no perfect movements in history. God alone is perfect, and even when we a part of God’s movement we bring our sin and our fallibility into it. Moreover we bring ourselves, and unfinished product. Very often as we see someone whom we’ve known a long time and see the outcome we’re horrified that we didn’t see it earlier. But no one, including ourselves, is a finished product. We either develop our implications to an epistemological self-consciousness, or at least ones that others can spot, or we develop in terms of our consciousness as a Christian.

Now, we are told by Saint Paul in I Corinthians 4:5 “Judge nothing before the time” we are to suspend our judgment, we are to give things an opportunity, the tares in opportunity to grow, before they are rooted out. Premature judgment can prevent many problems, but it also leads to sterility because nothing is ventured. The churches which are very strict and rigid in preventing anything from starting that might be suspect, are also the sterile churches. Suspended judgment therefore, judging nothing before the time can lead to serious problems, but it also allows for growth in both direction, tares and wheat, and then a time for judgment because our Lord requires judgment. As we are very definitely told in John 7:24 “Judge righteous judgment” and in Matthew 6:22 our Lord says “By their fruits shall ye know them” then you can judge them; and you have to. If you do not then you are sinning. Because God says, look at their fruits, judge them. It’s that simple. Time is thus a factor here, judgment is a necessity.

Now there was enough in the position of Saint Francis of Assisi to give ground for suppressing him and his work before he ever began. There was also enough there to give grounds for great rejoicing in his joyful view of creation and redemption, and for bringing such a light to the faith. We really owe, by the way, a great deal of the joy of the Christmas season to Francis. He was the first one to build a crèche at Christmas time. Now of course we have had efforts to suppress what Francis began. A great deal of trouble could have been eliminated in the church if Francis had been suppressed immediately, but a great deal of good would also have been eliminated and the result would have been deadly.

Now I cite Francis because we have similar things today; the charismatic movement for example. There is much there that we would disagree with, but there has also been such a tremendous vitality and a burst of power, God-given power, that we also must rejoice. It’s a young movement, a growing movement, judge nothing before the time.

—<Quote ends>—

Of course, in the 20th century, we finally got the full fruit of Communism.

God was indeed merciful, to hinder it’s full blossom until the Russian Revolution.

And in the 21st century, we are finally getting a grip on what a properly Christian-free secularist society means.

But a thought occurs: I wonder who first believed that Power – and not the Law of God – Justifies All Things.

My money is on Martin Luther and John Calvin, who abandoned the peasant revolts of their era to curry favour with the Powerful Men of their era, the Ruling Nobility.

“And if gaining the favour of the Nobles means dumping the Law of God that the peasants are calling on for protection… so what?”

God is not mocked.

Not even by the Mighty Leaders of the Reformation.

Time for their Reformed descendants – you and I – to repent.

Unless you actually enjoy being ground down into the dust under the heel of evil men, with open malice and total contempt and spite.

I don’t.

Christians set the tone… whether they want to, or not.

Time to take responsibility, and the yoke of God’s judging and piercing eyes upon us… or ready our backs for the hard iron rod in His hands, should we choose to despise His word.

THAT is how the Real World works, in time and on earth.

As should be obvious by now.

—<Quote begins>—

Now I cite these examples because they are related to the question “By what authority doest Thou these things? And who gave Thee this authority?” Now very definitely the implication of that question was “authority is transmitted through given channels, and we the Pharisees and Sadducees, the scribes, represent the God ordained channels; and who are you to come from outside the institutional channels and teach with such authority?” Now very definitely authority is transmitted through God given channels, the family and the church to cite but two. Their authority is very clear cut. But while authority is transmitted by God through His ordained channels in history it cannot be limited to these channels. All authority comes from God and the essential test is the triune God and His law word. As Isaiah eight verse twenty declares “To the law, and to the testimony. If they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.”

—<Quote ends>—

Exactly.

—<Quote begins>—

Now one of the things we must remember, and churches must remember, and both church and state and every institution tends to forget that every age is a transit {?} one. And every institution and every church is in transition. We are not the terminal point of history. History did not begin in the Garden of Eden and end with us, or at our church, or our state, or with our particular institution whatever it may be. We are but stepping stones to God’s future. Judge nothing before the time. By their fruits shall ye know them. Judge righteous judgment. We must live, move, and have our being in the Lord, in his future and in terms of it. We are, we are told, strangers and pilgrims on earth, governed by God’s promises concerning the future. We seek that country whose builder and maker is God, his kingdom. We do this in terms of his law-word. The patriarchs did not seek the kingdom of God by abandoning the world but by faithfulness to it, to God’s word, to God’s kingdom; by its application to time and to the processes of time. WE cannot bind God to institutional channels, nor can we despise those channels. It was a great evil on the part of the Pharisees and the leaders of the temple to come to Jesus and challenge His authority when He was teaching in faithfulness to the every word of God. But it is equally very wrong to challenge God ordained authorities. We have to see their authority and the limitations of their authority. They are not the ultimate, the absolute, authority; God and His word alone have that power, that status.

Moreover we cannot bind God to institutional channels nor despise those channels, but we almost must see that different channels, different institutions, have different levels of authority. The institution of the church has very real authority. But we cannot ascribe to say clubs, and lodges, any binding power upon us. Whether that lodge be a Christian one or a Masonic one, it cannot have a binding power on us comparable to that of the church; certainly never comparable to God. But it is so routine for organizations to attempt to bind men as though they were God.

Then you have intermediate institutions. Not on the same level as say family, church, and state. Bar associations, medical and dental associations, unions of various sorts. How great is their authority? Well today they are these intermediates institutions in alliance with a state; they have forsaken their legitimate authority under God for an authority under the state. And as a result they are coercive in a way they have no right to be. And the sad fact is that the church is too often prone to approve of intermediate institutions and their legalized coercion. Godly authority goes out of institutions as they align themselves with the state and seek a coercive authority

—<Quote ends>—

That’s a lot of arrogant little idols out there.

I am curious to know how many of these tiny, bloated little idols have their every ruling aggressively policed and enforced by Good Conservative Men, certain of their purity and righteousness.

—<Quote begins>—

When our Lord asked “by what authority do you do these things?” raised the question of John’s authority came to the heart of the matter. The established authorities had boxed out God’s authority in favor of their exclusive representation of God. Jesus and John both lacked institutional certification and accreditation. They had never gone through the formal training that was required and therefore they were denied validation. The leaders of religion in our Lord’s day said concerning Him “How knoweth this man letters, (meaning learning) having never learned (that is having never been instructed by us)?” Learning was equated with institutional validation. In other words they believed in a closed shop in learning. The limitation of authority to institutional channels is a limitation on God.

—<Quote ends>—

Ambitious, self-exalting men hate God… but thirst for the unfettered power He has.

Especially the power to define, and redefine, good and evil, just as they please.

Somewhere out there, a fanged snake is smiling.

—<Quote begins>—

Now these institutions cannot be set aside nor their importance denied. Let’s take universities. Universities provide a routine, a discipline. If anything it isn’t sufficiently so. We are in a period of a decline in discipline in every area. University graduate schools are not all that they should be, but also we can recognize their necessity as means to a disciplined education and to specialized training. But we cannot limit learning to a university PhD degree, or to any kind of doctrine. Very often there is more learning and wisdom outside rather than in the academic routine, but this does not eliminate the validity of the academic routine. For all except the occasional and exceptional person it is a necessity.

—<Quote ends>—

Here, I’ll have to break with Rushdoony, and side with North.

The university only ever existed to enforce unbiblical guild restrictions on employment. First, to ban all priests and religious teaching except those sanctioned by the centralized Catholic Church, a ban enforced by the State. Second, to give specialized training for those destined for cushy government employment.

The value of a liberal arts education has always been the same: access to a bureaucratic job. The university was invented in the 11th century, and that was its goal. If you wanted to get into a high position in the Catholic Church, you went to a university. Or if you wanted to advance in a secular hierarchy, you also went to university. If you could, you got into the University of Bologna, which trained the lawyers. It was the first modern university.

What Is a Liberal Education About? I Mean Really.
Gary North

Or for a different perspective, Fred Reed’s A Modest Proposal to Abolish Universities on the suitably named Strike the Root website.

Not that I have anything against the need for intellectual discipline. But you are far more likely to get that as an apprentice to a real scientist or scholar, or even from disciplined independent study online or at a library (!!), than you will from the Slacker-World university complex.

—<Quote begins>—

But whether it be an institutional training that a man has, or one which is separated from the formal routine the basic question is always the same, “by what authority doest thou these things, and who gave Thee this authority?” Is it of God in essence? That’s the key question. Isaiah’s words therefore still stand “to the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light in them.” Let us pray.

Oh Lord our God give us grace day by day to be under Thine authority and the authority of Thine ordained spheres. That we may by our obedience and our recognition of Thy word and its power and of all that it is created learn how to rule ourselves, and to rule in our appointed place. Grant Lord that we be instrumental in moving Thy people in this world a step further under Thine authority, Thy kingdom. Bless us to this purpose in Jesus name, amen.

—<Quote ends>—

For Western Christians to actually be a free people again, they will have to learn how to question not only the authority of the Church, but the authority of the State as well.

The God-Haters are always eager to challenge and mock the Church… but never seem to get around to mocking and challenging the authority of the State.

Attacking *snort* Conservative *snort* leaders?

  • Sure, any time of any day!
    (And twice on Sundays.)

Actually restricting and challenging government power under Progressive leadership?

  • Never.

How about the System itself? The power of the Courts? Or of the Experts?

  • Only if they get off the Progressive reservation. So long as they stick to the Progressive party line, more power to the System is ALWAYS a good thing.

Note that , on the other side of the coin, the denominations always and forever sing about Romans 13, and our need to obey political leadership that openly despise our person, our beliefs, the Christian faith itself, and the commandments of God.

A curious war, where Secularists leadership continually attacks with raw pleasure and relish, and the Christian leadership side only surrenders and submits.

Christians might want to investigate exactly who is leading them, and which Deity the church leadership actually exalts above all things… in time, and on earth.

(A.k.a.: the deity that actually matters in our lives today.)

As for why only one side fights… Christians should look into the seminaries.

And then disband them.

The disestablishment of ungodly institutions is part of the Christian Way of Life, after all!

It has been since Jesus Christ set the example… and the prophets before Him, as well.

1 thought on “Judging Nothing Before The Time

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