Excerps by Rev. R.J. Rushdoony
Compiled and Edited by Peter. C. Coker
Within the Judeo/Christian worldview exists God’s decree for the proper management of His creation as a part of man’s dominion mandate. Under God, man is commanded to care for and develop his environment. Against the Judeo/Christian worldview today exists its antithesis, the ‘environmental movement,’ or environmentalism. Environmentalism is a secular humanist worldview that owes its philosophy to other humanistic philosophies, such as Darwinism and Marxism; as well as the mystery cults.
Even prior to the time period of Jesus Christ, Plato (427-347 B.C.) syncretized mysticism with his own philosophical system. Later, around the time of Christ, the Alexandrian Jew, Philo, combined Plato’s mysticism and metaphysics to the Hebrew Bible. These mystical and philosophical ideas soon began to be fused into the early Gnostic sects as well as certain streams of Christian thought. For many Gnostics, this meant they were free to “do-as-they-please” because they were ‘under grace.” Many heretical movements have come and gone since Christianity’s early days – only to perennially return in some related form or phenomenon.
Nature and Reality
It is one thing to say that the universe or creation exists; it is another to assert that this universe is the source of its own laws and phenomena, or that it is a self-enclosed system of causality.
For the most part, ‘Environmentalism’ sees “nature” as the ‘real world’ and the totality of that world. Nature is thus viewed as a self-sustaining order with its own power and workings. In rejecting Biblical revelation, ‘enlightenment thought’ replaced God as the determining power with nature as the new source of power; often using the word “providence” or “divine providence” to describe the power of nature, yet sound theological at the same time.
Rushdoony explains it as follows:
“The Bible, has no such term as “nature.” It does not recognize nature as the source and cause of natural phenomena; rather, it sees God directly and absolutely operative in all natural phenomena. There is thus, no law inherent in “nature;” but, there is a law over “nature.” “Nature” is a collective name for an uncollectivized reality, and by uncollectivized, it is meant that “nature” has no unity in and of itself, that makes it a unified order. To assert that such a unity exists in and as “nature,” is to assert a hierarchical principle concerning the universe and its spheres.
If “nature” is a unity in status or in process, then it represents a system of higher and lower authorities, powers, and laws. It is subject to understanding in terms of its past, present, or continuing development as a scale of being in which there is both higher and lower being. The laws of that realm of being are to be derived from within the scale of being. If the primitive and lower is held to be more vital, then it is the true source of power and determination.
If the ‘rational and higher’ is held to be more important, then it becomes the necessary source of ‘power and determination.’ In either case, ‘causality and creative power’ becomes inherently located within the universe, and it becomes necessary to posit “nature” as; the ground of being, the source of ultimacy, and “the system of all phenomena in space and time.” But, if God is the Creator, then the system is not “nature,” but in reality, God’s eternal decree.”
Because God’s word separates mankind from the rest of creation, man is, by design, God’s image-bearer and is thus called to exercise ‘dominion under God.’ Contrary to God’s revelation of man, ‘environmentalism,’ as fundamental to ‘evolution,’ separates man from nature as the destroyer who must be restrained and suppressed in his God-given calling to dominion and development of the natural world. The environmental deconstruction and separation of mankind’s ‘God-given calling’ to dominion creates a fictional, autonomous, sphere of operation for man; against God’s designated order. This autonomous alien view, inherently absolves man of his responsibility to God and means he no longer operates under God, but, apart from God.
Responsibility and Autonomy
The Biblical doctrine of responsibility reveals that man’s primary responsibility is to God, and secondarily to his fellow man (Matt. 22: 36-40). Without responsibility to God, man becomes his own god and his primary responsibility is one of his own making. This can also happen to some degree when believers make the second commandment, (You shall love your neighbor…) more important than the first (You shall love God…). In recent history, the Biblical doctrine of individual responsibility has been further suppressed and marginalized by the popular acceptance of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Basic to evolutionary theory is environmentalism; i.e., that man is a product of his environment and has evolved in relationship to a changing environment and its actions upon him. As a result of the evolutionary view, man is not only a product of his environment, he is also a creature of his environment; rather than a creature of God. With such an alien false paradigm, man becomes what an evolving world makes of him; and thus, man’s thoughts and actions are a product of an evolving, environmental-molding of man.
This anti-supernatural presupposition ultimately means that the guilt for man’s actions rests solely with his natural environment, and his social and personal world. Ironically, it is this ‘world of his environment’ that inadvertently ends-up bearing the blame for an individual’s sin(s)! Thus, parents or society gets blamed for the bad conduct of delinquents and criminals. And with such a twisted scheme, lawless individuals eventually become the victims; while guilt or fault then gets transferred to some aspect(s) of their social environment! With humanistic environmentalism, as with Freudian Psychology, man’s own personal sin and guilt get denied. Man then becomes, not a sinner needing salvation, but a victim of religion, or of capitalism, of his family’s discipline, of repression, of bad education, of poverty, of bigotries, etc., etc.
The Individual and Society
Since humanistic environmentalism declares that it is the environment or society which breeds sin-bearing men and criminals; humanists attempt to recondition all people through the influencing of: schools, clergy, the arts, the press, and a wide variety of popular media outlets. For humanism, man can be and is determined by his environment rather than by his own ‘inner being.’ As a result, for humanist ideology, man must be reconditioned to deny personal responsibility and realize that he is merely a victim of his surroundings; his physical and social environment. With such a worldview it does not take much imagination to see the acceptance of totalitarianism and humanistic social fascism.
Marxism, as an even more rigorous form of environmentalism, is dedicated to a comprehensive (anti-Christian) remaking of the ‘social environment’ in totality. Thus, Marxist’s in referring to ‘man’s fall’ as recorded in Genesis, blamed neither Adam nor Eve, nor the serpent; but instead blamed the apple, i.e., their environment, the world man lives in! Therefore, to punish the individual is seen as evil in a Marxian (and Freudian) worldview! Hence, God, and those who seek to operate under God and His inspired law-order are to be blamed and persecuted as the evil ones, in a humanist law-order.
But, as James, the brother of Jesus clearly noted: “…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1: 14-15).
Biblically, the community must also bear a certain responsibility; that is, the responsibility to see that justice is done. And if justice is not done according to the law-word of God, the community will then share in its own guilt. The community has a responsibility to God to see that justice is done; and it also has a responsibility to the victim of a crime to pursue proper justice.
For example, in Biblical terms, ‘restitution’ meant that the criminal must restore what he took from the victim, with interest; depending on the crime and the nature of the crime. The victim is thus, to be compensated by the perpetrator, for their loss, plus interest and penalties. With Biblical restitution, both, the victim was restored as well as the criminal, provided the criminal wholly “pay his debt,” making legal and monetary amends to the victim. Likewise, the criminal’s restoration was then to be recognized by the community as well.
In contrast, humanism, with its violent nature against a Biblical-law order, often determines that it is society that should make restitution to the criminal through incarceration and its supposed rehabilitation. Because of its social-environmentalism, humanism seeks to blame the individual’s environment for causing man’s crimes. This, of course means that society must then pay and atone for the individual acts of criminal behavior. Criminology (and welfarism) in America often rely on this humanistic, perverted, version of restitution and further perpetuate injustice.
As previously noted, since evil exists in one’s environment and not in the sinner (for humanism) — rehabilitation and restitution are often made to the sinning individual — and not to the victim. For environmentalism, the proof of the ‘innocence of a criminal’ is to search and find evidence of some unhappy interaction with some aspect of their social and physical environment. With such thinking comes the growing inability of society to cope correctly with crime and render true and proper justice. The more humanistic ideals are infused into law, the more mankind becomes unable to cope judiciously with evil; and the more action is sought to appease and compromise with evil; thereby, encouraging its spread in communities. (“Those who forsake the law, praise the wicked”… Prov. 28: 4)
The environmental approach of detaching sin from the person to their environment, in fact, describes the Biblical thesis of Satan in the Garden of Eden. What makes this thesis so incredible is that Adam and Eve lived and communed in a ‘perfect environment;’ the Garden of Eden! Additionally, what is even more incredible is the Biblical account of Satan (Lucifer) in Heaven. Satan, God’s most notable angel, originally dwelt in Heaven, presumably, the greatest environment in existence anywhere. Yet, remarkably, Satan (Lucifer), as an entirely ‘spiritual being,’ sinned and led a rebellion in Heaven — taking with him one-third of all the angels. Apparently, even in the most perfect environment, ‘sin happens.’
By separating the sin from the sinner, environmentalism disguises a most basic issue. In using the separating tactic, judgment and guilt eventually gets transferred to God and His people. We have seen this demonstrated periodically throughout history. But, for believers, God is ultimately our first true environment. For environmentalism, however, this ultimately means that environmentalists are (maybe unwittingly) essentially at war with God. And, as is clearly observable, they are also at war with those who chose to follow in God’s ways. In 20th and 21st century America, one can easily see the historic anti-Christian philosophies of; Comte, Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Hegel, de Sade, Dewey and many others, systematically working throughout American education, culture and politics to systematically deconstruct and suppress any and all Christian influences.
In Greek philosophy reality is viewed in terms of abstract ideas and forms, rather than in terms of God’s handiwork in Creation and His revealed law-word. In like manner, environmentalism views the world with an abstract idea of the natural world. In their imaginary world-order, nature holds dominion over mankind, thereby reversing God’s ordained calling to mankind. This desire to reject God’s order and replace it with autonomous alien ideas is at the heart of idolatry and mankind’s original sin as revealed in Genesis 3: 5; mankind’s desire to be his own god and lawmaker, apart from God. Adam and Eve determined to be autonomous (apart from God), deciding for themselves what constituted good and evil.
Jesus exposed this same sinful desire in the Pharisees, who pretended outwardly to be obedient to God’s ways and God’s laws. But, as Jesus pointed-out, this was not truly the case for the Pharisees. The Pharisees, as Israel’s religious leaders, were supposed to carry on the true religion of Israel, to be the bearers of the torch, passed-on from generation to generation. But, instead the Pharisees adopted not a true faith, but a corrupt and illegitimate faith that focused on ceremonies and man-made traditions. Much of Jesus teaching re-emphasized and focused on the inner-man, the heart of man, as being the true source of defilement. Therefore, it was the ‘heart of man’ that needed changing.
Contrary to true Biblical-faith, the Pharisees focused on the outer-man (his outer environment) in their religious outlook. They cared more for outward appearances, on how religious they appeared to others. Their ceremonial washings were indications that they assumed the world, (their environment), was the source of contamination and not their own fallen sin-nature. Thus, the Pharisees had inadvertently become antinomian (against God’s law) by preferring to observe ceremonies and traditions, in place of obeying and having faith in God and His law-word. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their lawlessness and ‘legalism’ (substituting man-made laws for God’s laws). Jesus declared that the basic source of sin and defilement in man comes from within, from the heart of a man.
In its natural condition, the heart of man desires autonomy, self-rule apart from God. Thus, the salvation of man can only be a super-natural conversion or regeneration by the Holy Spirit, not through a superficial environmental reconditioning.
“I confess to God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and before all the company of Heaven, that I have sinned, in thought, word and deed, through my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault: Wherefore I pray Almighty God to have mercy on me, to forgive me all my sins, and to make clean my heart within me.” (Confession of the Office of Compline)
This article is derived from excerpts from: “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” by Rousas John Rushdoony, 1973, and from “Systematic Theology,” Volumes I & II, by Rousas John Rushdoony, 1994; “The Myth of Nature,” by R.J. Rushdoony — and some of my own contributions. (P.C. Coker)