“Government likes religion to bless its acts, crown its dictators, sanction its laws, define its wars as just, be decorous masters of national ceremonies. And since on grounds of religion religious men may criticize acts or laws or wars or modes of waging war, government prefers quietness and contemplation to excess of zeal.” – Owen Chadwick

“The word sovereignty means one who is above all. It is the supreme and highest power. The Christian defines the Sovereign Lord as unlimited, independent, with original authority.”

For fallen man, sovereignty belongs to the state because the state is the source of law. Since the Christian can have no other gods (Ex. 20:3), history is defined appropriately by Augustine as a conflict between the City of Man and the City of God. As in all conflicts, we must choose this day whom we will serve.

Calvinists often limit the doctrine of sovereignty to a systematic theological definition of God. Much more work is needed in developing the implications of sovereignty for the Kingdom of God and its application in terms of the law-word of God.

In this posthumously published volume, R. J. Rushdoony examines the comprehensive implications of God’s sovereignty with a clear eye to critiquing the various places where man posits sovereignty-especially the sovereign state. This is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the crises of our times.

Title: Sovereignty
Author: RJ Rushdoony

Book freely available here: Sovereignty

A few quotes from this important book, to help understand our (post)modern humanistic times, also in South Africa (the headings added – slc):

Like in the old SA, the new SA church at large, are also blessing and accommodating the modern SA messianic state and not calling them to repentance, faith and submission to the Lord and King of all, Jesus Christ (Psalm 2; Matt. 28:18; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-8; 6:15; see also BC article 36)

“[Quoting Owen Chadwick:] “Government likes religion to bless its acts, crown its dictators, sanction its laws, define its wars as just, be decorous masters of national ceremonies. And since on grounds of religion religious men may criticize acts or laws or wars or modes of waging war, government prefers quietness and contemplation to excess of zeal.” (p. 311)”

1. Increasing Covid laws give the power hunger states even more power over a nation, who seem to accept it willingly
“What we have are two anarchistic would-be sovereigns, modern man, and the modern state. Two sovereigns, however, cannot co-exist with any peace. As a result, both are extending their powers and their self-will. The modern state grows daily more powerful,and modern man grows daily more lawless. For “sovereign” man,the way of expressing his claim of sovereignty is to defy the law and will of the state. Both man and the state seek to displace God as the center. The means of attaining this role as the center of being is power. Hence the voracious hunger of the state for ever-increasing controls over every area of life and thought. (p. 122)

2. The modern state is marxist to the core, taking away freedom from the people, promising them salvation by law/state
“Marxism’s theoretical foundation has been the shift of the governing or sovereign power, the necessitating or predestining force, from God to the state. In varying forms and degrees, all over the world, the state is now the necessitating force or power. By claiming sovereignty, the modern state declares itself to be the necessitating power over man. As such, it is increasingly denying freedom to the economic sphere, to the family, to the school, and to the church. It cannot claim sovereignty without necessitating all things.

3. Arminianism, Hegelianism and the modern state
“It is not an accident that the rise of Arminianism coincided with the rise of the modern state. Arminius warred against the doctrine of the necessitating God. Man’s freedom required, he held, deliverance from such a God. To abolish necessity from theology is not to abolish necessity but to transfer it to another realm, and the state was progressively freed from God’s necessitating power to become Hegel’s god walking on earth, a this-worldly necessitating power. (pp.463–464)

4. Christians are the true biblical anti-revolutionaries, not those in the visible church pleading for undonditional obedience to the modern state

“Christians, by affirming the sovereignty of the triune God and the universal Kingship of Jesus Christ, thereby deny the modern doctrine of sovereignty and the people. The fact that most Christians are unaware of the conflict does not alter the fact that the humanists recognize that Christ’s lordship spells death to the modern state, because it undercuts its premise. (p. 107)

5. Unforgivable sin is against the holy truine God, not the modern humanistic state
“It is the Christian who is increasingly viewed as the enemy of the state as he stands in terms of the crown rights of Christ the King.He thereby challenges the sovereign claims of the state in the name of the King of kings, and the Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15).Increasingly, in the eyes of the sovereign state, this is the unforgivable sin. (p. 362)

6. One is the Lawgiver for all areas of life, also for the state = God good, holy and righteous law applied to civil society
The modern state, whether openly or implicitly, hates the church and resents its every effort to be Christian. This should not be surprising. When the church proclaims the whole word of God, it introduces a canon or rule in the public arena which judges every sphere of life and thought. The premise of the state is that it is the source of all law and judgment; its basic faith is that the state is judge over all and to be judged by none. A moral order and law apart from the state which judges the state is rightly seen as an attack on state sovereignty. (p. 356)

7. If, even in pandemic times, the state, and not God and His Word, determines worship services for His church, then the State has become the sovereign predestinating god of our times

“If there is no law beyond state law, no justice beyond and over the state, and no supreme court of Almighty God over all courts of state, then there is no criterion whereby the state can be called wrong. Then justice becomes what the state does, as in Marxism and fascism. (p. 340)

8. The false social gospel supports the false humanistic messianic state, and attacks true Christianity and Christendom
“The social gospel is really a civil gospel; it espouses salvation by the state and its laws, and its hope shifts from God to the state. This has a major impact on the doctrine of the atonement. In the 1930s, a pastor who adopted the social gospel began to preach also against the orthodox doctrine of Christ’s atonement; he ridiculed it in language used by others who preceded him, calling it “butcher shop theology” to preach atonement by the blood of Jesus.

This juxtaposition of the social or statist gospel and the denunciation of the blood atonement doctrine was an essential and logical one. If salvation is an act of state, the work of men who are essentially good and who unite to make a better world, to look for a change in men through Christ’s atonement rather than through the civil gospel is not only false but misleading. As a result, whenever the civil revolution flourishes, Christianity is under attack. (p. 272)

9. Both an non- or antichristian democatic-sosialistic state and fascist state should be rejected by Christians
“The advocates of the civil gospel are ready to see a fascist state as evil, but not a truly democratic and socialistic state. Sin, however, is not a monopoly of the left or the right, but common to all men. (p. 273)

10. Same battles, different idols through history
“Christians, who were attacked by the pagan philosophers for their belief in predestination, were the champions of man’s freedom, because they freed man from his environment and its controls and placed man under God, not under nature or the state. The same battle is again being waged, but all too many churchmen are on the wrong side. (p. 76)

[Martin Selbrede comments on this paragraph as follows: What is he saying here? That too many modern churchmen are not champions of freedom because they place man under the state, or under nature, rather than under God. In a word, modern compromised Christendom co-opts false sovereignties. To do so, it must deny the total lordship of Christ over everything He hath made. The compromised church then enables the state to regulate, and finally coerce and persecute, faithful Christians who insist that Christ is Lord: that Christ is sovereign and the state and church are not.

John Owen put his finger on the reason for this kind of defection back in 1652, addressing the text of Luke 17:20 and the invisible sovereign Kingdom of Christ described therein. He held that such declension from Biblical faith arose when men “have been so dazzled with gazing after temporal glory, that the kingdom which comes not by observation hath been vile in their eyes.”

Men want to walk by sight: they want a God they can see, and so they’ve graduated from golden calves to modern power states. The God who dwelleth in unapproachable light, who exercises sovereign control by a single overarching decree over all time and space, has become the stone the builders have rejected.That stone shall nonetheless become the head of the corner.”]

Finally and most importantly,

10. True outward change and reformation starts with inward change by the sovereign work of regeneration and faith in Christ, not the messianic state trying to save us and society with laws:

“Society changes only as the members of society change, only as men and women are regenerated by Jesus Christ. Apart from regeneration, a society can have some material progress, but no real advantage or freedom for most men as a rule. The areas of freedom have been the areas of Christian faith, and, as that faith wanes, freedom wanes.” – RJ Rushdoony

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