Failure and Recovery

A copy-paste from Chalcedon’s article Failure and Recovery, by R. J. Rushdoony

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Chalcedon Report No. 69, May 1, 1971

An age without faith and the leadership of faith is like a rudderless ship. It will be driven by every current and is destined for shipwreck, unless it is repaired and given direction.

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See that date?

Note that the wilful failure of the church — driven by her hatred of God’s Law and His Authority, His very Godship if you will — has been a long time coming.

It took decades and decades and decades of contempt for God driven primarily by the Church — who holds the keys to heaven and earth as per Matthew 16:19 (ESV)

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

to build — or, more correctly, to tear down — the culture to where we are today.

It will take decades and decades and decades for Christians to set things right, to clean up the mess we — and not Atheists, nor Marxists, nor Muslims — chose to create, decade after decade.

It is us, not them, who loosed the maddened beast that rules today. They are the symptom, we are the cause.

And — after we FINALLY accept responsibility and REPENT — we must make the commitment, do the hard work, and spend the decades and the lives and the pain, to once again break and bind the beast.

God demands it.

And there will be no magic rapture rescue from reality that will take us away from the grotesque failure that we, in our contempt for Christ and His Kingdom, chose to endorse.

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The central failure of the modern age has been the failure of the churches. In the United States, as nowhere else in the world, the culture should be dominated by the churches. The majority of Americans are church members. If we eliminate those who are modernists, we must still recognize that thirty to forty million Protestants claim to be evangelicals who believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. No other group in America, however, has less impact on the national life. The commu­nists, who are less than 1 percent of the population, exercise a deeper influence. But this is not all. The more this Protestant evangelicalism is “revived,” the more irrelevant it becomes. The deeply rooted antinomi­anism of its pietism (and the same antinomianism or anti-law temper is apparent in Roman Catholic pietism, as witness St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori) has made it unable to work effectively in society. It has become present-oriented and experiential. Its answer to problems is not the appli­cation of God’s law-word to man and society, but instead a yearning for more emotional experiences and supposedly charismatic manifestations. Such experiences have been pursued to the point of the demonic.

—<Quote ends>—

The Failure of Catholicism

If the Roman Catholic Church had both held the line against Darwin, and insisted on separate education for their own children — remaining at war with the State of France and its thieving fingers, if need be — Catholicism would have become, once again, the dominant religion of the West.

Better 200 years of suffering under the atheistic revolutionaries – or the self-worshipping Romans, for that matter – than bending the knee to a worthless idol.

The Wrath of God is FAR harder than all the rapes, torture chambers, enslavement, and mass murders the Marxists (or Nazis, or Muslims, or American Christian Southerners) can dream of.

If the Catholics had paid the price, Protestantism would have been relegated to the powerless, lawless, utterly irrelevant mystery cult it has chosen to be. After all, as Calvin and Luther decided, Biblical Law just isn’t worth much compared to the protection and favour of Powerful Noblemen, so fling the peasantry under the bus… and the Law of God in the real world, too.

“What goes around, comes around.”

Pour contempt on the representatives of God — that would be the peasantry, not the nobility — and God will find a way to reward you.

You won’t like it very much.

But as it is, the Catholics were not willing to pay the price for victory. All they were willing to fight for was the right of the Pope, personally, to be independent of the other nations, and to have his own tiny little kingdom in Rome. The War in the Vendée did not harden the French Catholics, but only taught them to bend the knee quickly to the godless men with guns: and soon enough, all church property, schools, etc became property of the State, with the Church prelates decided to never contest the theft.

Crawl and beg, crawl and beg.” said the master with a smile.

“Yes’mm, Yes’mm!” replied the slave to his actual lord, the one who rules him in time and on earth, who can take what he pleases, when he pleases, because he feels like it. The one who is the Source of the Law.

And the master, in his loving-kindness, will leave the slave to chase whatever heavenly magical mystery cult the slave wishes.

Just as long as a trivial pinch of incense is burned before the Beast, and Caesar is Lord in time and on earth.

So the Catholics have chosen, and so they will be given.

We are no better than they are, obviously… but God has, for His own reasons, chosen to show mercy to us. To teach us the Law. To recognize that Christ is Lord over Heaven and Earth.

Christ is the Source of the Law, and not Caesar.

God has chosen to give us the future he as chosen to deny the Catholics. With their dying priesthoods and religious orders, their ever-increasing cultural irrelevance,1 and their hilarious – or not-so-hilarious – parody of the Powerless PriestKing, living in the Vatican.

The supposed Vicar of Christ on Earth, snug in his tiny box. He gets his three-crown tiara, and the Men of Power laugh and laugh.

“Political power and sovereignty over all!”

If you listen very carefully, you can hear the cold, hard, contemptuous laughter from high, high above.


God doesn’t like His Cross-waving enemies chanting about the superiority of Church Tradition over His Law-Word, no more than He cares for His Torah-waving enemies insisting on the superiority of the Tradition of the Elders over His Law-Word.

Let’s avoid being His enemy.

Let’s place the Law-Word of God above any band of priests, elders, specialists, experts, ideologues, tycoons, aristocrats, and soldiers.

The careful reader would have spotted signs of Catholic failure earlier, with their pathetic, powerless baby-cherubs as symbols of Divine Authority.

But also see France, the Huguenots, and Deuteronomy 28 by Bojidar Marinov. I strongly suggest that you read the whole thing, but to paraphrase:

“What goes around, comes around.”

The French Catholics have explicitly and pointedly refused to learn the lesson.

We Christian Reconstructionists had better learn the lesson God teaches us, if we wish to prosper and grow, rather than shrink and die as they have, and will continue to do.

—<Quote begins>—

Jesus Christ required His followers to be good fruit-pickers, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). He came as the great Redeemer to save His people by grace, in order to restore them to the way of sanc­tification, the law (Matt. 5:17–18; Luke 16:17; Rom. 8:4). The law of God is His future-oriented program for man and society; it is the means of warfare and conquest which God has ordained. The emphasis on ex­perience as a substitute for law is antinomian and anti-Christian. The “Jesus freaks” who want to repeat with God what they experienced with narcotics (“Freak out with Jesus”) are guilty of blasphemy as well as irrel­evance. Their concern is not with God but with themselves. Quite rightly, the reviewer of one such leader’s book commented, “after all the shouting and talking about God, it is Mr. B. (the hippy pastor-author), not our Lord who is the hero of the book.” What people seek in pietist experi­ences is themselves and their satisfaction or fulfillment; what they seek in obeying the law-word of God by faith is His kingdom and righteousness.

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It’s worth repeating: if men hate the Law of God, and call Him a cruel dictator, it is because they have their own eye on His throne, and plan to be the very epitome of a cruel and lawless dictator… while yapping non-stop about how kind and compassionate they are.

Better to stand with God who speaks the truth, who upholds a predictable and just law-code, who is actually compassionate to His people

… especially the poor and the weak, who depend on Him for their daily bread, as well as for meaning, health, and life,

and who really does punish His enemies

…especially the powerful and arrogant, who only worship themselves and exalt their precious feelings above the Commandments, and seek only what they want and what they desire Right Now.

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Pietism is a form of modernism. The open modernist finds his truth in the world, not in God’s enscriptured Word. The pietist formally retains that Word but practically denies it. When science began to dominate the minds of men in the eighteenth century, it emphasized experimen­talism as the main and even only source of truth. This idea infiltrated the churches, and “experimental religion” or revivalism was born. To “prove” his conversion, many American churches demanded experimen­tal or experiential evidence in the form of a revival experience. Godly faith and law-abiding living were not accepted as proof. Christian schools were regarded with hostility as a breeding ground of formal or “head” religion as against “heart” religion, and the result was that the churches began their decline from relevance. From men who worked to bring ev­ery area of life and thought into captivity to Christ, churchmen became men who sought an emotional experience within and retreated from the world into the cell of their withdrawn souls. To such people, Christian schools and postmillennial thinking became horrors to be decried. From being the dominating and future-oriented leaders of society, the churches began their retreat to a lower-class, present- and experience-oriented sta­tus. Even the Calvinistic Presbyterians were conquered by the new trend. Faith was not enough for church membership; they began to require an “experience.”

Not surprisingly, the whole tradition of pietism has been readily in­fected by existentialism (Kierkegaard and others among Protestants, Ga­briel Marcel among Roman Catholics), and with good reason. Existen­tialism is simply a more honest and rigorous form of experimentalism and pietism. It emphasizes the moment, and the experience of the moment, in divorce from the past, all law, and all schooling and morality. Logically, Sartre and others divorce that experience even from God to bring about the total self-concern of the questing, experiencing soul.

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“My word determines what is real. If a man says he is a woman, then he is a woman… regardless of his genetics, his genitals, or his sexual behaviour.

This nonsense on stilts may have been expanded and developed and put into law by Secularists… but it did not originate from them.

“My feelings determine Reality. And you must agree with me, freedom of speech and conscience and objective truth be damned!”

And another snakehead reaches for the Throne and Power of God, to make his word — and not God’s word — determine reality.

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Because of this emphasis on experience, increasingly the churches seek new dimensions of experience for their members, new forms of worship, “Jesus rock,” participation in demonstrations, the experience of peoples of other colors, sensitivity training, and so on. “Social relevance” is to found, they insist, in experience. A hard, systematic study of Scripture, the application of this knowledge of Scripture to the problem of commu­nism, economics, race, political society, and family order is avoided. Not study, not an understanding in the light of Scripture of our world and problems, but an existential experience is held to be the answer. With amazing callousness and brutality, people are used to provide these ex­periences. Import some black children, they insist, into your Christian school or church, and give your children and adults a new dimension of experience. Trot out some minority groups into our groups, so that we can revel in our growing social experience. Like dolls that are moved at will by little girls in their play, so these churchmen want to treat people, as lifeless dolls to dance to their tune, so that their social experience may be enriched and fulfilled. Not surprisingly, the black response to this un­feeling integration game has been black nationalism and an ugly, hostile segregationism.

—<Quote ends>—

As if there were any other form of segregationism.

Or that it was fine when whites — led by the Progressives — enforced segregation, but it is ugly and hostile when blacks — led by a different breed of racial nationalist — enforced segregation.

Despite his genius and his genuine, powerful religious insights, Rushdoony let in a nasty little racist demon into the camp. Not a big Nazi demon, not a large and muscular lynching demon, but a small impure demon.

Such a small demon, with just a little bit of filth, only the faintest of racist, lawless stenches. A good deal less powerful than the demons most White American Christians welcomed between, say, 1930 and 1980.

(Never mind the horrific monsters that was endorsed by Progressives Darwinian eugenic types before WW II, and out-and-out Pious Christian slavers before 1865.

And let’s ignore the Pious Muslim Slavers, from the very day of Mohammed to this moment: the sins of those who know God and His Law are heaver than the sins of those who don’t know either.)

But a demon is a demon. It must be driven out.

And we are the ones who will have to drive it out, if Christian Reconstruction is to prosper in America and across the world.

Luther and Calvin had their failure, and Rushdoony had his.

(North as well, with his exaltation of the authority of the local church — nowhere to be found in Scripture, but strongly beloved by controlling governments.)

We cannot stay in a racist, and therefore powerless and futureless, paradigm. The Kingdom of God MUST expand, regardless of genetics.

We MUST NOT repeat the perversion of Tribe over Law again!

—<Quote begins>—

Into this world of a decaying church, Marxism made an easy headway. The conquests of Marxism have been largely violent and brutal. They have been grounded on conspiratorial and revolutionary action. This ac­tion has been made possible, however, by the default of all other leader­ship. The growing bankruptcy of the modern world made it susceptible to overthrow by any well-organized group, because the real revolution had already occurred. That real revolution was the progressive abandon­ment and overthrow of orthodox Christianity by leaders and people. The forms of faith were retained, but the power was gone, and the collapse of the churches was rapid.

Marxism, despite its evils, was at least future-oriented. It had a plan and vision for man’s future. As a result, it was able to capitalize on the spiritual vacuum of the twentieth century and to capture many superior minds.

The shallowness of its future-orientation became very quickly ap­parent wherever Marxism gained power, and the disillusionment of its followers has been very real. Moreover, Marxism has become, in every country where it has gained power, very rapidly and inescapably bureau­cratic, a super-establishment. It moves in terms of power, not faith.

The results have been gradually apparent. The brutality of Marxist states has not abated and has in some areas increased. The hostility to Christianity has often been intensified. But a bureaucracy is not adven­turous; it is usually concerned with protecting and perpetuating itself. It can be exceedingly brutal in its self-protection, but it lacks initiative, although it has momentum. Thus, the bureaucratic momentum carries world Marxism along the same lines established by Lenin and Stalin, but the bureaucratic self-protection makes it both resistant to change and unwilling to risk defeat. A bureaucracy is thus present-oriented; as a re­sult, it can blunder into serious disaster because of its inflexibility and its inability to see consequences beyond self-perpetuation.

What happens in a world of present-oriented people? A basic lawless­ness sets in. No law is recognized as valid if it does not suit the person or people. The situation becomes comparable to a busy intersection, where traffic lights are suddenly removed, together with policemen, and every driver races to the intersection as though he alone existed. The wise driv­er thinks ahead; the fool tramps on the gas pedal.

—<Quote ends>—

Note that Russia is far less anti-Christian than it was before 1991. But it is still bureaucratic, still dictatorial, and still blind to reality. The Leader must have his Yes-Men, after all.

The blindness, we can see in Ukraine. All that power, and all those spies, and all those corrupting bribes, rendered into a joke.

And Russia continues to age, and her population shrinks, and the nation falls into poverty.

The increasingly godless Americans are still doing better than Europe, or Russia, or China. Their day of judgement and public humiliation has not arrived, not yet.

(Small, comparatively mild Divine punishments are still the rule: a laughable Afghan collapse, say, or the willful destruction of the tax base of New York City, Chicago, and California. No great fall, not yet.

When slaps to the face are replaced with fists to the face… watch out.

And woe, woe to America if the Divine Fist is replaced with the Iron Rod. As it is in Russia, and China, and Germany today.2)

The evil rule for now, thanks to the cowardice and faithlessness of our Law-hating Christian forefathers. But the future does not stand with the ever more inflexible, ever more controlling, ever more lawless, and ever more fearful secularist bureaucrats.

—<Quote begins>—

The failure of the churches, and the inner decay of Marxism, is matched by the decay of capitalism. As Irving Kristol and Daniel Bell have shown (in The Public Interest, no. 21 [Fall 1970]), capitalism has declined because it has lost its basic faith.

We can add that most capitalists (like labor) are not libertarians. They do not believe in free enterprise but are instead champions of protection­ism and subsidies. The rise of capitalism was an aspect of the develop­ment of Christian faith. Without agreeing with much or all that Weber and Tawney have written on the subject, it must still be granted that the development of capitalism had deep roots in Christian theology. Those roots are now largely gone, and with them the faith and the rationale that made for a society of dedicated entrepreneurs. Too often today, when a businessman talks about freedom, he is not too different in his basic premises from the New Leftist student. His concept of freedom is not too closely tied to responsibility; it is merely a desire to be free from the state’s regulation while reaping the benefits of the state’s subsidies. When freedom as an ideal is divorced from independence and responsibility, it is not truly freedom but welfarism disguised.

—<Quote ends>—

The corporate elites hold out their hands for gifts from the government.

The Sure Thing – paid for by taxes and the future stolen from their rightful competitors by government laws – replaces the Risk of the Entrepreneur.

[The businessman’s] concept of freedom is not too closely tied to responsibility; it is merely a desire to be free from the state’s regulation while reaping the benefits of the state’s subsidies.

“Privatize the profits, and collectivize the costs… but be sure that the helpful politician, Democrat or Republican, gets his cut.”

Ugly truth is ugly.

—<Quote begins>—

Meanwhile, in this context of civil, economic, and religious irrespon­sibility, hatred flourishes as one group after another tries to push all the blame on a particular class, race, or group. That tensions and hostilities are a part of life, every wise man will readily acknowledge. That conflict is sometimes unavoidable is all too true. Under normal circumstances, law is the means whereby society controls hostilities and wages war against its enemies. Those who work to aggravate hostilities are fools. As Solomon observed, “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belong­ing not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears” (Prov. 26:17). When you declare war, you had better be prepared to wage it. This is a lesson that many blacks and whites, and many working men and many employers, have failed to learn. It is an aspect of the lower-class mind that it does not count the cost nor think ahead.

A future-oriented man recognizes that, while many problems have easy and simple answers, few problems have agreeable people involved. “Your problem is very simple,” said a simple-minded pastor once to a husband and wife who could not get along with each other; “you’ve got to learn to live with each other.” How true, and how absurd! Men are not angels, and, sometimes, their problems will not disappear until they disappear, because they will not change. Even simple problems thus are often not simply solved. Passing a law, or making an obvious statement as that pastor did, is no answer.

—<Quote ends>—

Reagan made a good distinction here: “There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

Reagan knew the right thing to say.

We must do more than speak, though. Good rhetoric is not a bad thing… but it isn’t enough, when you want to redeem the world for Christ.

There must be God-pleasing action, as well. And such action comes at a cost.

—<Quote begins>—

Our progress in the past usually came slowly, and our recovery will come slowly. It will come as men, each in his own sphere of action, be­gin the task of reconstruction. Reconstruction begins with our lives and God’s grace; it extends to our vocations, our institutions, homes, and society. Life and progress are made up of a great number of little things; we cover a mile by small steps, and the surest move forward is that small step rather than a giant daydream.

Remember, a shovel turns over more earth than a wrecked tractor. Our religious, civil, and educational institutions are largely like wrecked tractors today. It is time, then, for shovel work, a great and exciting time when new foundations shall be laid, a world recaptured, and a future established by those who will work for it.

—<Quote ends>—

We have a lot of smashed tractors around, their blades driven into walls and trees, and their engines stuffed with sugar water.

This is the day of shovels.

And we had better figure out how to build plows, and tractors anew.

With better drivers, taught outside of the self-serving religious guilds and seminaries that joyfully presided over the destruction of Western Christianity.

Also: no demons, big or small, ugly or pretty, racial or sexual or familial or financial.

The job must be done: there is no escape from the responsibility and work of dominion.

As there is no escape from Kingdom Work….

<points to the writhing and total incompetence
of our short-sighted, delusional and destructive Secularist Overlords>

… let’s do our job, and let’s do our job right.

In a way that pleases God, as worthy servants should.

1Let me quickly mention that the Irish have, by and large, been trained and raised in Catholic schools and a Catholic culture. And they have explicitly chosen to legalize both abortion and homosexual marriage: not by some elitist court order or presidential edict, but by referendum and by votes.

Christian schools, run by experts, under the authority of priests, shaping the minds of a nation for generations.

Perhaps it’s for the best that the American Catholic school system is dying on the vine.

Also, distrust of the Anointed Religious Experts is more than warranted. I would suggest that it is outright commanded.3

We must learn our lessons, if we are to go forward.

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Acts 17:11, English Standard Version

THAT’S the way to go!

It’s going to be the Priesthood of All Believers who inherit the future. And not the forever-failure self-certifying religious guilds.

2I would argue that France — and even England, and Spain, and Italy, and perhaps even godless Sweden — has not had the Iron Rod driven through her teeth. Not in the way that has happened to Germany and Russia.

(And China too: pretty city lights and modern highways are no substitute for a dead future. With poisoned land and waters as a special reward for her hatred for God and His Justice.)

This level of punishment has not happened to Western Europe. Not yet. Even after the fall of the empires, the great destruction of wealth, the increasing humiliation and perversion and sterility.

Not all hope is lost for Europe. Not quite yet.

Something for hardcore Eurosceptics like me to consider.

3Something else for suspicious men like me to consider:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Honor widows who are truly widows.

I Timothy 5:1-3, English Standard Version

Our older men, our elders, have indeed failed. The evidence of their failure is inescapable, all around us.

Even so, the Apostle Paul recommends encouragement, not rebuke, when possible. Christ is in the business of healing and restoration in this life, not condemnation and destruction.

Even when it comes to men who had authority, and quite wilfully wasted it.

A difficult pill for me to swallow. But I don’t get to pick and choose which commandment to obey.

On the other hand, men who are committed to Satan and has no intention to repent, ever, can be left in the coils of the snake.

Granted: some men should be tuned over to Satan for suffering unto repentance, rather than out-and-out damnation.

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

I Corinthians 5:1-5, English Standard Version

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