By Rousas John Rushdoony
History,… is not the outworking of impersonal forces but a personal conflict between the forces of God and anti-God, Christ and antichrist, with the ultimate victory assured to God and His Christ. The Bible as a whole presents a view of history as conspiracy, with Satan and man determined to assert their “right” to be gods, knowing, or determining, good and evil for themselves (Genesis 3:5). From beginning to end, this is the perspective of Scripture, and only a wilful misreading of it can lead to any other position.
In Psalm 2, this concept of history as conspiracy is briefly summarized. It should be noted that no other psalm is more frequently quoted in the New Testament; Revelation is in a sense an expansion of the same vision. Psalm 2 was written by David in terms of a personal and national event, and he saw the cosmic crisis behind the local affair. The whole world is seen as organized against the Lord and in deliberate opposition to His rule, for David sees, not himself, but the Lord Messiah as the true king. In verses 1-3, the worldly conference of the conspiracy is depicted: “Why do the heathen (or nations) rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” The nations rage against their bondage to God, and they take counsel or conspire against God and His Christ, planning to create their own world order and law in contempt of Him. In w. 4-6, the heavenly confidence is revealed, and the certainty of the outcome. God laughs, He holds the nations in derision, but He gives evil time to mature, so that the issue becomes clear-cut. His Son is already the ordained king of creation. In vv. 7-9, the Messiah declares the divine decree in relation to Himself. His kingship is authorized as the Son of God, v. 7; God endows Him with all the earth, v. 8; He is given the power to overcome all His enemies, v. 9, and to destroy the conspiracy; to Him the peoples and realms are promised as a gift for His victory and kingship. In w. 10-12, the nations are exhorted to abandon the conspiracy against God and His Christ or else face destruction. They must either accept the scepter of Christ’s authority and blessing or be broken with the rod of iron. To this view of history, Jesus Christ gave His authority, declaring of the men of His day, as they conspired against Him, that their conspiratorial objective was the seizure of the Kingdom and inheritance through the murder of the heir (Matt. 21:38). While the liberals may view belief in the conspiracy view of history as absurd, or even as a sign of membership in the “lunatic fringe,” the orthodox Christian must assert it to be basic to the philosophy of history.
But simply to accept the view of history as conspiracy is not in itself an acceptance of the perspective of orthodox Christianity, for history is replete with conspiracies, and many conspiracies, while very important, serve only to deflect the minds of the masses from the central and essentially religious issues. To speak of the multiplicity of conspiracies is enough to make many liberals wince with embarrassment at the “shallowness” of such a consideration, but the issue needs to be faced with the recognition that intellectual respectability in the eyes of either the liberals or anyone else is an irrelevant matter in the discussion of any question. We must leave the dead to bury the dead.
The view of history as conspiracy, however absurd to the liberal with his impersonal philosophy, is a basic aspect of the perspective of orthodox Christianity. As Psalm 2 presents it, the unGodly nations and peoples rage, they conspire together and imagine a vain thing, the triumph of their conspiracy. Precisely because it is a vain thing, the orthodox Christian’s philosophy of history cannot make the conspiracy, however central to the stage of history, the main fact of history. Believing as he must in the sovereignty and predestinating power of God, the meaning of history is for him transcendental. The main fact is the eternal decree and the certainty of the Son’s victory, Who shall make the nations His inheritance and possess the ends of the earth, in history and beyond history. Now, therefore, “act wisely; be warned O rulers of the earth,” lest you perish in your way (Ps. 2:10, Berkeley Version).
Article adapted from “The Nature of the American System.” Available at Chalcedon.edu.