R.J. Rushdoony

Eschatology, Poythress, and the Hallelujah Chorus

I hope to write in the next 18 months a short booklet on eschatology. I have written some papers in the past, but have not been able to provide a general outline, specifically of the postmillennial hope, and its contrast with other millennial positions.

Obviously, there are many wonderful works out there. From John Jefferson Davis to Keith Mathison, and the multitude of theonomic works from the 70’s and 80’s, namely, many of David Chilton’s work (especially his Revelation commentary).

At the same time, there still seems to be a dearth of introductory works at a more layman level. The typical parishioner who has sat under postmillennial preaching for years still finds himself confused by all the labels used. If he has not been immersed in a reformational vocabulary, he is bound to confuse categories and chronology. Naturally, they find themselves incapable of articulating why this optimistic vision contains a progression beginning in Genesis and flowing throughout the New Covenant writings.

Panel Discussion on Eschatology

I listened recently to a panel discussion on eschatology at ETS held some years ago. The postmil advocate (a conspicuous minority in that room) offered a helpful treatment of the chronology of I Corinthians 15:22-26. While helpful, that type of assessment needs to be incorporated into the broader corpus of the Scriptures. For instance, I find it unfathomable to begin a conversation on eschatology without considering the promise of Genesis 3:15 and the motif that is unfolded throughout the other books, namely Judges with its five-fold illustrations of head-crushing.

Poythress, a noble advocate of the Amillennial view, sees the postmil vision more adequately than most, but still does not see why the vision of the Puritans, for example, is a vision of a christianized society.  He argues, in this panel discussion, that if postmil advocates were to focus more on the Second Coming then he would have more in common with them. Well, there is no doubt we focus on the Second Coming, the final parousia, but history is a progression. We look to the coming of Christ at the end of history while not discounting the purposes of Christ throughout history and in history.

The famous Hallelujah chorus grasped this already-ness of the kingdom:

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever,
For ever and ever, forever and ever,

King of kings, and Lord of lords,
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
And Lord of lords,
And He shall reign,
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

We are in full agreement concerning the restoration of the world. And to quote Poythress, we are not waiting for the dissolving of the cosmos, but its restoration, while at the same time we need to believe and trust that the enthronement of King Jesus means the de-thronement of Christ’s enemies. If it is true that he must reign until all his enemies are under his feet, then this reign is quantitative, not just merely spiritualized.

The Gospel promises a discipled world (Mat. 20:18-20) and discipleship and baptism imply a qualitative and quantitative narrative of history. This tangibility of the Gospel vision is the hope of the consistent eschatology of the Scriptures.

Calendar and Meaning

As a boy, our dinner table was a place of amazing conversations. My father readily invited people to dine with us, and my mother as readily accommodated them. On top of that, we had a stream of visitors from all over the world, people who knew and respected my father. Many were missionaries, others were world travelers; one was a part of a film crew that went to Loristan and had exciting tales to report; another was a French doctor from Central Africa, and so on and on. I remember vividly the exotic tales they had to report. This was an important part of my education. I recall one man whose World War I saga included the war, imprisonment, and wanderings over two continents. At times, he lost track of the days of the week, the months, and then even the exact year. Meaning, he said, was tied to time and the calendar. The calendar listed Sundays, holy days, and more. It punctuated time with meaning, an imposed meaning which was more than ourselves.

Think about that. We live in a world with a given meaning, given by God and by man’s long pilgrimage of faith. Remove that, and we drift into meaninglessness.

{R.J. Rushdoony, Random Notes}

Theocracy and Libertarianism

“Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had” — Rousas John Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction pg. 63

Thus saith the Lord

But the Bible is not a devotional manual: it is a battle plan and a prescriptive word, a command word, and therefore a law word. The “spiritual” preachers deserve not even a yawn: they are putting the church into the sleep of death. God’s servants will declare, “Thus saith the Lord”, and His word covers every aspect of our lives, our work, our family life, our sexuality, politics, economics, farming, business, social and personal lives and all things else.

~ R.J. Rushdoony – IBL, Vol. 2, Law and Society – Let His enemies tremble, pg 689.

Christ revealed as priest, prophet, and king

R.J. Rushdoony writes:

The Son comes as the great high priest, to make atonement to God and to remove sin. He comes as the great prophet, to speak God’s authoritative word and final word of revelation. He comes as the king, to rule the new humanity and the new creation. In Christ, we are citizens and members of God’s new and eternal world.

R.J. Rushdoony on Creationism

If  we can set aside the six-day creation doctrine, we have asserted our supremacy over Scripture. Our mind and our convenience now have a higher authority than the Bible, so that we have denied its authority totally and asserted our authority instead. If we claim the right at any point to set aside Scripture, we have established ourselves as the higher authority at every point. Clearly, therefore, the question of authority is at stake in Genesis 1: God or man? Whose word is authoritative and final?
— The Necessity of Creationism (1967) (Reprinted from The Mythology of Science [Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2001], 61–67.)

Rushdoony Random Notes #66

I have been a privileged man because over many years I have had the opportunity to work with some truly outstanding people, and I have had occasion to meet and visit with many more. Of course, there have been sour and hostile people as well, but they are losers. Random Notes 66

Godless State

In the modern world, our pagan states are at war with their own peoples. Sometimes an enemy country harms us, but it seems that people all over the world can depend on their own country to be constantly at war with them. But what else can you expect from godless states? The answer is not a futile resistance but to re-Christianize one’s country. Until then, a godless state will only do evil. —RJ Rushdoony


Rushdoony argues that some people who claim to believe the Bible from cover to cover actually mean they believe in their favorite verses of the Bible. They interpret God and His Christ in light of their favorite bible passages (“God is love,” comes to mind). Thus, they make themselves the principle of interpretation.

The Defeat of a “god”

R.J. Rushdoony summarizes the historical context of the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22:

“(Antiochus) believed that He was God on earth. It was common to believe that the incarnation was in the state and in the person of the ruler. The ruler was either God or about to become God. In Rome, he was declared to be a god at his death by the senate. He assumed that the minute he was made emperor he was in process of becoming a god. When he conquered Judea and Jerusalem, he insisted in putting a statute of himself in the holy of holies…which led to a riot and revolution; a fierce and intense battle which led to the overthrow of the Assyrian regime.”[1]

[1] R.J. Rushdoony, Lectures on John.