Systematic Theology – Authority
The Power to Kill
Professor: Rushdoony Dr. R.J.R.
Our scripture is in Deuteronomy the thirty-second chapter, the twenty-ninth verse; our subject The Power to Kill. Deuteronomy 32:39.
“39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.”
This statement is one which we encounter in several forms in scripture. In Isaiah 45:18 God declares there is no God with me, I am the Lord and there is none else. Again in the 21st verse of the same chapter “there is no God else beside me, a just God and a Savior. There is none beside me.” God declares emphatically that He only is God; that the issues of life and death are ultimately and essentially in His hands. Now this is a necessary emphasis because original sin is mans desire to be His own God, to say “my will be done, not God’s.” Humanism of course is the logical development of this presupposition. The pagan as well as the modern state represent the institutionalization of mans desire to be His own God. Man cannot create life, he has dreamed about this more than once and today of course we have regularly announcements of the scientists have taken a major step towards the creation of life. And all these claims are exaggerations and are fallacious.
Man has not been able to create life. He dreams of it because it is his way of playing God. But what he can do is the other half of the equation, to kill, and so he plays God by killing. The more humanistic a state the more murderous it is. From the French Revolution on the state has become an agency of mass murder. What George Orwell in 1984 described was the reality of the nature of the modern state, he simply carried it to its logical world-wide implications. In 1984 the vision is ultimately of a boot stamping on a human face forever. Man playing God in the only way he can do it, murderously. We are told by more than a few people who have escaped from the Soviet Union of the very great delight of torturers in torturing, in playing God. In one account after another we have horrifying illustrations of this exercise of power.
The natural man hates God: the intelligent, powerful and worldly-wise man who is yet unredeemed hates God even more than the average man.
For the rebellious, increased blessings and increased knowledge only increases the condemnation and damnation.
Power does not save. Neither does knowledge.
It’s a good thing that men cannot create life. The monsters he would create would be very ugly, indeed. All he can do is build his war machines, which are bad enough.
As the Earl of Gloucester says in King Lear “as flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport” now this is fallen man’s common idea of divine power. God uses power to enjoy its exercise over helpless creatures. Isabella in Measure for Measure said of man’s dream of power “could great men thunder as Jove himself does, Jove would never be quiet. For every pelting petty officer would use his heaven for thunder. Nothing but thunder, merciful heaven, thou rather with thy sharp and sulfurous bolts splittest the unwedgeable and gnarled oak, than the soft myrtle. But man, proud man, dressed in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he’s most assured, his glassy essence like an angry ape plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as make the angels weep.”
I wish fallen men could see all of what God does, rather than just focus on what could hurt him.
But fallen men do see it: he just ignores it, except the part that attracts him, the part that he wants.
The power to harm, and humiliate, and rape, and rob, and beat, and torture, and kill, and damn people. This destructive power is what the unrepentant sinner-man wants…
The power to heal, and build, and teach, and bless, and protect, and save people? This is seen as uninteresting… unexciting… irrelevant.
Fallen man thus dreams of playing God, and he sees God-like power as meaning torturing people, killing them finally. Moreover when men cannot play God by killing others, they do everything that falls short of killing. Defaming, degrading, polluting. One consequence is the popularity among such people of scatology. Scatology is the use of filthy language that has reference to urine and feces. And in scatology people pour out as it were, verbally urine and feces upon people, and will uses language that so indicates it. Our society is increasingly scatological and murderous in its entertainment. T.V. and film plots seek to dirty up and to kill, to defame, to degrade, Biblical standards… unless delivered by God. The goal of all such is to have total power over us and to claim “neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.”
It is interesting that at least, at least two of our recent presidents have been so addicted to scatology that it has been painful for people to be with them even for a few minutes. Since to play God is evil, it is original sin; the course of humanism has only one direction. Humanism begins by exalting man and saying man is the ultimate value. But every man is his own God, and the logic of this is what led Sartre to say that for him God was not a problem, he was not interested in God, his passion was to be god. Therefore what was his problem? His neighbor, because if I am god and my neighbor claims to be god, then for me he must be the devil; and so existentialism led to the total warfare of man against man. Community became a problem as it is for modern society. In a society of gods there is no community because all are at war one with the other. Then in every sphere of life the goal is to exercise power over others, to degrade them, to play God by degrading them and ultimately to kill them.
This reminds me of a recent meme:
Using power – the ability to kill under force of law – requires discipline. But few want to have the disciplined use of power.
They just want to have the power over the mundanes.
Thus sex is used for aggressive use. The popular words for the sex act all have the connotation of degrading, of doing in somebody. Sex has become for humanism disguised aggression. Politics is supposed to promote the public welfare and every politician gets up and affects a zeal for the public welfare, but politics becomes in the process more and more a power game with all but a few. As humanists their logical is to be God, to play at being God by exercising power over others.
Levrentiy Beria, the head of the secret police under Stalin was a man who understood this very clearly. He was under no illusions about man, about man the sinner. He knew that the goal of everybody was power over others, and he gained power by self-consciously licking Stalin’s boots. By doing everything to make himself Stalin’s creature. He despised Stalin, privately he would speak about him as stupid, as a rude bore, and he would speak to his close associates about the fact the minute you walked into the room where Stalin was you could smell him, he was so unwashed, and his feet in particular were particularly bad. And yet when he walked in he was the most obsequies and humble character imaginable. He knew what He wanted and required of all those under him, and so Beria gave the same to Stalin; and he please Stalin as no one else.
Beria’s personal delight was arresting and raping in the most savage way possible very, very, young girls. His joy was to smash and to destroy them and to see their grief, their horror. Some would leave when they were released and commit suicide, jump into the river, and this did not hurt him it gave him an additional delight. Stalin in turn knew this about Beria and he would ask for reports on how many girls Beria had raped and what he had done with them and what had happened to the girl, and he took a delight because he knew this was what he himself liked to do. This is humanism come to fruition, and hence murderous, hence given to a desire to pollute, to degrade, and to kill.
A repulsive man, in his natural God-hating, Lawless, power-n-control environment.
We Christians must learn, and take care not to recreate anything like such an Above-the-Law society themselves. Or God will smite us down far faster than the 70 years He waited to destroy the Soviet Union – a process completed on December 25, 1991.
A very nice Christmas Gift!
But note the distinct lack of public celebrations for 2000 years of Christian society in the year 2000.
God acts. God acts powerfully.
And Man resents, and snatches away any glory he can from God.
And the Soviet Union stays dead.
It’s just that, instead of receiving a blessing from God’s victory, we get a curse due to our ingratitude.
In the history of Israel, the meaning of Deuteronomy 32:39 was fully appreciated. Men apart from the Lord are dangerous. And men expect to play God. We have an echo, by the way, of this verse in 2 Kings 5:7, when Naaman of Syria came to the King of Israel to be healed of his leprosy, the king said: “Am I God, to kill and to make alive?” quoting Deuteronomy 32:39. It was then that the prophet came forward, and with the power of God healed Naaman.
Healing is a religious discipline, and health is akin to salvation. But the reverse side, to kill, the power to make alive is the power to create, to regenerate, to save. And the power to kill is the power to reprobate, to send to hell.
And this is why the modern state increasingly consigns its people to hell. It creates a hell on earth, the more logically humanistic, the more logical its development of society into a hell on earth. Behind the iron curtain we see this.
The authority to kill in a Godly state is in terms of Gods law, for a healing purpose in a society. But men want to kill on autonomous grounds, they want to create a paradise on earth for themselves, by the elimination of their enemies. The early church saw the seriousness of murder; they put it high up in the category of sins, at the top. Cyprian said that murder, adultery, and fraud were the gravest offenses. Murder, because it destroys human life; Adultery because it destroys the basic institution, the family; and Fraud because it treats people as things to be used.
(Passianus?) and Augustine said Murder, Fornication and Idolatry were the three most serious, for like reasons. Killing a man is serious, because man is made in Gods image. Man is created as Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10, and Genesis 1:26 tell us, in the image of God in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and with dominion.
But men, fallen men, in their hatred of God, strike out at Gods image bearer, man. This is their way of trying to kill God.
In the old days, they prefer to kill men (and women and children, but especially men) to show how strong and dominant they were. Preferably in war, but also in the camps.
Now, they prefer to kill the unborn. Killing the weak demonstrates their contempt for the Lamb and His law.
Expect the payment for such contempt to be steep, indeed.
Thus, to kill give to the ungodly a double advantage. First it enables fallen man to play God, to determine the issues of death, to have people screaming and begging for mercy, and not to give it. It is their idea of what playing God means. And second it allows them to strike against God by destroying his image bearer.
But there is a third factor. Power is equated with authority. There is such an identification, as we have seen, of power and authority in God. Only in God are the two one and the same, and hence the word that is used is ‘exusia’, which means both power and authority. But as men deny God, they seek to replace the loss of moral force, the loss of Godly authority, with brute power. And so, the humanistic state becomes increasingly brutal and murderous, as does also humanistic man in the streets.
And as they age and grow sterile, the humanistic state grows more delusional, and fearful of all sorts of bugs and hobgoblins… but not of the wrath of God, that builds up even in this very day.
The Superior Sort truly don’t care about the debt load, nor of the fall of marriage and births, nor for the unjust debt load, nor for the ongoing destruction of legal or moral or even scientific integrity.
Death, poverty, and disgrace draws close.
When you have a godly community, because the great gift of God is life, men seek to further life in the community. They develop community. They develop ties that bind them one to another, that are life giving, life furthering. They seek to help one another.
I read a couple of days ago of a group in the plain states, a Catholic group, but a lay group; and anyone is welcome to join, that has one purpose: to meet needs in the community in the spirit of Christ. As a result they have been very effective in helping those who are in critical need, helping with truckloads of food, helping with personal services, in any way possible. And what is the net result of it? They have been attacked in the press and by public officials as probably some kind of wild cult. And what are they doing messing in with what is the Federal and the States function? The alleviation of human need.
This should not surprise us. We are beginning to see this kind of attack on the life giving function of Christian organizations, all over the country. Because humanism knows only the power to kill, the power to degrade, the power to make people dependent; which is a way of saying: “I am god over you.” And as a result, it increasingly is hostile to the life-giving forces in any community. It works to undermine them, to destroy them, and to defame them.
As a result, we see increasingly the growth of a murderous power. In the streets, and in civil government. It is the logic of humanism. It is the logic of any departure from God the Lord. The only rightful power and authority in all creation is that of the Triune God. The departure of men from God is their departure from life itself. “But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.” Thus saith the Lord.
Let us pray. Thy word oh Lord is truth, and Thou alone art the life giving power and force in all creation. Make us oh Lord Thy servants, that we might be a means of life and light to our generation. That we might be a force against the powers of darkness as they work death through Civil Government, and in the streets of our country. Oh Lord our God Thou hast called Thy people to be Thy servants, Thine instruments. Have mercy upon us for falling short of our calling, and revive Thy church, and make it great and effectual in these troubled days. In Jesus name, amen.
Our announcements: Next Sunday, the twelfth we shall have a potluck; before school begins… [tape skips]
Are there any questions now about out lesson? Yes?
[Otto Scott] Is it possible that the groups that are against capital punishment, but not against the crimes that capital punishment subdues are actually favoring mass slaughter?
[Rushdoony] A very good question. Why are not these groups against killing unborn babies? Why do they not make a like protest against what has been happening in Red China, and Red Russia? The answer is, they are very silent on those issues. They have a sympathy for criminals, but not for innocent unborn babies, or for the victims of communism.
Humanism seems to like the power to take life, and to declare that: “We will establish our moral standards, and make our judgments in terms of them.” As a result, they ask us to bleed for baby seals, but not for unborn babies. There is a monstrous perversion of values in the attitude of humanists. Yes?
It’s been true for quite a while now, that the most tender-hearted liberal women will care deeply for the animals, and also be a staunch supporter for tearing apart babies.
It’s been true for a long time now.
Lots of women in Taiwan bring about their dogs in baby prams. Japan too.
God sees, and God acts: and His judgement is a fierce fire.
Live under His Law, and keep far from the fire of His wrath!
[Audience Member] Are they self-consciously aware of that dichotomy?
[Rushdoony] Are they self consciously aware of what?
[Audience Member] Are they self consciously aware of the dichotomy, of the contradiction?
[Rushdoony] It is pointed out to them regularly, whenever there is a debate. But what their answer usually is, is that: “Well, we have a critical problem of over-population, so we are trying to improve the quality of life for those who live.” We are funding, after all are we not, the aborting of all beyond the first baby in Red China. U.S. funds are going towards that. Which means that we favor it, ultimately, here.
All this involves playing God. This is the most important thing. It is the number one goal of humanistic man. Sartre was right, “Man is a being whose passion is to be God.” Fallen man, that is.
China recently removed all restrictions on the number of children anyone can have.
The reply is the rustling of ghosts and dead futures.
God is not mocked.
Not there… and not here, either.