By Rev. R.J. Rushdoony
St. Paul, in I Corinthians 1:24 declares Christ to be “the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Modernist commentators somehow try to make this text mean something other than it plainly reads, and to question whether Christ is called the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Their quibbling need not trouble us (Prov. 26:4). Wisdom (sophia) is in its absolute sense an attribute of God. Total wisdom and knowledge belong to God alone. To declare Christ to be “the wisdom of God” is to declare Him to be in Himself God, the second person of the Godhead. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, God incarnate.
At this point, by way of contrast, it is of value to contrast Christ as wisdom, the wisdom of God (cf. Col. 2:3), with Satan, the tempter or serpent of Genesis 3:1, nachash in the Hebrew. This serpent is identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9, 14,15; 20:2. In the verb, the meaning of nachash is to hiss, whisper, foretell. The word is one among many in Scripture used for serpents. The meaning of foretell or divine comes from the silent or hissing aspect of the serpent, and its hidden nature, i.e., hidden in grass and bushes. The word of all occultists is such a word, dark, hidden, and not clearly spoken. Satan thus is one who offers the occult word or “wisdom” so called. It is an insinuated word, a hissed and whispered word, a “possible” word, never the sure word. Astrologers are given to asserting that the stars indicate but do not determine. Occult “knowledge” is prone to speak so. It speaks about the future apart from God as a possible future.
In verb form, we meet with nachash in several places. In Genesis 30:27, it is translated as experience, Laban’s experience. In Gen. 44:5 and 15, it is rendered as divineth. In Leviticus 19:26, it is enchantment. In Deut. 18:10, anenchanter is nachash. In I Kings 20:33, nachash is translated as “diligently observe,” or divine; in II Kings 17:17, it is “enchantments,” as it is also in II Kings 21:6, and II Chron. 33:6, and in Num. 23:23 and 24:1 (as a noun).
Very clearly, occult knowledge is Satanic knowledge. It offers knowledge about the future as a knowledge outside of God and His eternal decree. Thus, even when occultism at times gives us valid forecasts concerning the future, as with the Witch of Endor (I Sam. 28:7-25), it is false, because it offers that information as a forecast in a world stripped of God and His predestination. The same is true today of all who are busy forecasting a variety of predictions concerning the future of the Soviet Union and the United States. Many of these forecasters have valid data; some of them, given the many kinds of predictions, will be true as to events. All are false if they see the present and the future apart from God and His predestination. As such, they are dangerous, because they offer a realm of possibility outside of God.
Christ as the wisdom of God gives us a different kind of knowledge and forecast. First, as the wisdom of God, omnipotence is His. He is “the power of God” (I Cor. 1:24). The dynamics of history are totally in His power (John 1:3); nothing exists apart from His determination, nor can exist. For Him, there is no “possible” knowledge, but only certain knowledge. He knows the beginning and the ending absolutely, because He is “the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). There is thus no power, nor future outside of Christ.
Second, not only does Christ by His sovereign power ordain all history (John 1:3), but He also is the central force in history. By His incarnation, and by His sovereign rule and power, He is “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Rev. 1:8). From creation to the Last Judgment, Christ, in His person or in His government, is not only the determiner of history but the central person therein. His is not an abstract or remote government or presence.
Third, Christ is also the savior and redeemer of the world (John 3:16), so that His wisdom is manifested not only in His determination and government of history but in His redemptive work therein. Man’s idea of God and of redemption is foolishness and futility. Christ’s redemption is both wise and particular.
The universalists reject Christ to offer a plan of universal redemption. We live in an age of universalist politics. Whether it be Marxism, Fabian Socialism, National Socialism, or democracy, the prevailing belief is in some form of universalism. In National Socialism in the German form, this universalism was limited by blood, but applied indiscriminately to all within the blood-line. Universalism thus professes to care for all (however it defines all), and thus to be a broader and nobler faith. However, by its insistence on salvation for all, it denies the person. The fact of particularity is denied. If all humanity is to be saved, or all Nordics, there is then an unconcern about the very real individual differences of faith and character.
As a result, universalistic faiths tend to be brutal in their disposition of the particular person. We can say that, the more universalistic the faith, the more brutal it is. Marxism surpasses all others in its universalistic zeal, and also in its brutality and inhumanity. In the name of humanity, universalism practices radical inhumanity. Its wisdom becomes slavery and death.
On the other hand, according to St. Paul, God’s wisdom is manifested in the particularity of salvation (Rom. 11:32-35). He concludes all in unbelief, and makes known to man the implications and consequences of unbelief, so that those whom He mercifully saves might know His grace and wisdom in salvation.
Wisdom is practical and successful (Luke 14:28-32). It accomplishes that which it purposes. Christ as the wisdom of God infallibly accomplishes all that He purposes, to bring His new humanity and creation to its predestined purpose.
To see Christ’s work apart from the wisdom and certainty of God’s absolute power is to view Biblical faith and our history as occult knowledge, not revelation. To remove the certainty from Christ’s command of history, of time and eternity, is to deny the Christ and to affirm Satan. Satan allows for a great measure of probability to God’s word. He adds, however, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Surely (ak in the Hebrew) means only. Death is not the only option, according to Satan; God’s determination is neither total nor absolute. However powerful God’s word; a realm of possibility escapes His control. It is in this realm of religious possibility that man’s opportunity lies, and must be exploited. This is the meaning of occultist wisdom: it is a theological principle, and has been, since the Garden of Eden.
In Jesus Christ, we see God’s absolute wisdom, and His determination of history in incarnate form. He declares himself to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). There is no possibility outside of Him: there is no occult knowledge.
To know Christ as “the wisdom of God” is thus to seek no presupposition, knowledge, wisdom, possibility, or determination apart from or outside of Him. He is the Lord. All attempts to gain wisdom apart from Him are doomed (Job 5:12; Isa. 29:14; Jer. 8:9): “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (I Cor. 1:19).
R.J. Rushdoony(1916-2001) was the founder of Chalcedon and a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical Law to society.