In a recent article in Faith for All of Life, a publication of the Chalcedon Foundation, an article by the late founder, R. J. Rushdoony appeared. We read, among a number of valuable assertions about the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah, this head-turner:
Today those who represent the cause of Christ are a handful. Virtually every church the length and breadth of this country and around the world is given over to evil, is given over to the powers of darkness, so that we face a monstrous evil everywhere in the church and power is in their hands.
Note carefully that Rushdoony does not declare that the church is in dire straits and in desperate need of revival (true enough); that it has apostatized and that only a wholesale Biblical reformation will restore it (yes, indeed); that never in church history has she suffered such lamentable backsliding (quite possibly true also). No. Virtually every church the world over is given over to Satan, such that monstrous evil is everywhere in the church. One wonders if pastors Steve Zink of Ottawa Reformed Presbyterian Church and Phillip G. Kayser of Dominion Covenant Church, whose articles appear in the same issue of the magazine, fall under Rushdoony’s sweeping verdict.
This demonstrably false (and flagrantly unproven) verdict is breathtakingly hubristic. Did Rushdoony actually hold such embarrassing — and contra-Biblical — views? Did this cultural critic whom God at times blessed with stunning insights into the spirit of the 20th century finally narrow his view of God’s work to the exclusion of the church? If so, this is a tragedy.
In every apostate age it seems that some men and women, overcome with both moral outrage and religious self-pity (a lethal combination), see themselves and their followers and the few who agree with them as God’s warriors who alone are left to battle the pervasive evils of church and culture. Elijah is the poster child for this self-pitying arrogance (1 Kin. 19:10) — “Your people, O God, are apostate, and I alone am standing for the truth, and the apostates are out to destroy me.” To which Jehovah responded:
“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
The language “whose knees have not bowed” might invite images of a later godly troop, the three Hebrew young men, who defied Nebuchadnezzar’s idolatrous edict to bow the knee to his massive image (Dan. 3). At the king’s knee-benders’ convention, these three stayed true to God and His holy law, and exposed themselves to the king’s wrath in the fiery furnace, from which the Son of God delivered them. But had He chosen not to deliver them, they had determined not to obey the king’s perverted decree (v. 18). Conviction does not count the consequences.
God always preserves a remnant to himself (Rom. 11:1–5), and at every modern knee-benders’ convention — whether the idolatry in support of an apostate denominational program like same-sex ordination to the ministry, the idolatry of assent to the state trough of tax-financed abortions and socialist programs, or the idolatry of a revived pagan culture that deifies tolerance of any sexual perversion and excoriates only Biblical Christianity —there are 7000 who on pain of hostility and in some cases martyrdom, refuse before the face of God to assent.
There are always men and women of God and churches who refuse to bow the knee, who fear God more than man, who love Jesus’ Gospel and God’s moral law and would as soon seen their lives snuffed out as to betray the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a mess of populist pottage.
This is why self-pitying and -serving claims that “I alone” am standing for the truth are so evil: they libel and slander all the faithful churches and pastors who are quietly and unceremoniously — with no magazine megaphones and no blogging blastcasts — standing without compromise often in out-of-the-way places, preaching the truth every Sunday, instructing the saints throughout the week, delivering the gospel to unbelievers, pouring out their souls before God in prayer, holding up the fainthearted and rebuking the rebellious. They are God’s straight-legs in a knee-bending era.
Seven thousand straight-legs at the knee-benders’ convention deserve better than a callous and false verdict that “[v]irtually every church the length and breadth of this country and around the world is given over to evil, is given over to the powers of darkness, so that we face a monstrous evil everywhere in the church and power is in their hands.”
“Every church”? “Everywhere in the church”? Not so fast.
Don’t sell short God’s work in other churches around the world.
The truth does not begin and end with you.
5 thoughts on “7000 Straight-Legs at the Knee-Benders’ Convention”
Very good observation. People are always saying they are disappointed that they can’t find a church like ours when they move away. I tell them to put roots down in an orthodox church even though there may be plenty of “flinch” factors. Humility and submission to authority are important. “Until the tyrant in you learns to submit to a tyrant, you will never understand how to resist a tyrant.” Those who do not quite understand what we think we understand are still contributing to the Kingdom. Let’s build on what they contribute instead of criticizing them. Let’s do what Aquila and Priscilla did. “When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” I still like Rushdoony. We are having a “Law And Liberty Tour” with Mark on Feb 23. Wish you could be here.
Parson Ron Smith churchofthekingmcallen.org http://ronsmithmission.blogspot.com/
Very good observation. People are always saying they are disappointed that they can’t find a church like ours when they move away. I tell them to put roots down in an orthodox church even though there may be plenty of “flinch” factors. Humility and submission to authority are important. “Until the tyrant in you learns to submit to a tyrant, you will never understand how to resist a tyrant.”
Those who do not quite understand what we think we understand are still contributing to the Kingdom. Let’s build on what they contribute instead of criticizing them. Let’s do what Aquila and Priscilla did. “When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”
I still like Rushdoony. We are having a “Law And Liberty Tour” with Mark on Feb 23. Wish you could be here.
Of course the church has always had problems (see both books of Corinthians along with Galatians and of course the first few chapters of Revelation) but it is important to remember it is Christ’s church with its life coming from Him, not Satan. The older I get, the more I love the Church even when she’s goofy and flaky. Actually many of the times I thought I was standing for God all alone I was really standing for my own faulty understanding of something.
I learned a tremendous amount from Rushdoony and owe a debt of gratitude for many of his works, but he wasn’t always right. Rather than republishing (and exposing) the stupid and arrogant writings of Rush, Chalcedon should wisely not reprint (and cover) those sins. It wouldn’t diminish his legacy to admit that there are a few that may not be worthy of outliving him. As I mentioned above, I certainly have written or preached things I pray to God my kids will recognize as needing to be properly buried at the same time as I am!
It is a profound statement God makes to Elijah – not just that there is still a “significant number of believers,” like, “we can still regroup and take another run at this, Elijah.” God is speaking both to Elijah’s unbelief and to ours – “I have and will always have (as Andrew rightly reminds above) a PILE of People who will not bow!” The “thousand” of the Seven Thousand is symbolic of a “very large number,” and the “seven” tells us that the number is “complete, perfect, fulfilling of purpose.” Our Sovereign God is at work, even in the shadows, fulfilling, completing and overwhelming evil. And as with the three who stood firm in the furnace, we too are called to put on the full armor and stand firm. God bless those “faithful churches and pastors who are quietly and unceremoniously… standing without compromise!” Thank you, Andrew, for this strongly-worded reminder. Cheers!
If you hadn’t said Rushdoony, I would have guessed Harold Camping for the quote. I don’t know whether you intended the double meaning of your post, but it is a good one. Those who are likeminded with Rushdoony in many ways but who refuse to say “thus saith Rushdoony.”