Foreword

 

John W. Robbins

 


 

Over the past 40 years, as a student (high school, college, and graduate) and adult, I have written hundreds of essays, articles, and letters-to-the-editor. This volume is a collection of several of those essays and articles. These essays are occasional and topical; that is, they were not written all at one time, and the topics they address are varied. Although each essay can be read by itself and easily understood, it is important for the reader to understand that they all rest on a systematic foundation, first articulated by the late Professor Gordon H. Clark in the twentieth century. Understanding that foundation will aid in understanding these essays.

On more than one occasion I summarized Dr. Clark's Christian philosophy as follows:

Epistemology: (the theory of knowing) The Bible tells me so.

Soteriology: (the theory of salvation - deliverance from sin ) Justification is by belief alone.

Metaphysics: (the theory of reality) In Him we live and move and have our being.

Ethics: (the theory of conduct) We ought to obey God rather than men.

Politics: (the theory of government) Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.

Economics: (the theory of production, consumption, and transfer of wealth) Laissez-faire capitalism: Have I not the right to do what I will with my own?

This brief summary reflects the idea that there is a hierarchy of disciplines, with the theory of knowledge (epistemology) being the most important and the most basic. All other disciplines logically rest on (that is, derive from) that foundation. Disciplines are not all equal; they do not all occupy positions of equal importance; and arrangements of ecclesiastical con­fessions and school and college curricula ought to reflect that understanding. Unfortunately, most do not.

The Westminster Confession of Faith is a happy exception, for its authors understood that some ideas and disciplines are basic, part of the foundation, the infrastructure of philosophy and theology; and other ideas and disciplines are part of the superstructure. They did not begin their Confession with a major emphasis found in contemporary churches - both Dispensational and Theonomist-Reconstructionist - a chapter on the last days (eschatology); in fact they put that subject at the very end of their Confession, chapter 33, where it belongs. The first, and longest, chapter of the Westminster Confession is on Scripture, which is the indispensable logical and epistemologi-cal foundation for all that follows. One's theory of knowledge, even if one has not articulated it in systematic form, governs all the rest of one's theology, philosophy, and worldview. Most persons and philosophies / theologies go wrong right from the start. Their premises are false, and those false premises taint all that follows.

Although it may not be obvious at first, this explains why American churches, schools, and most professing Christians are committed to anti-capitalism and statism. Because of the growing influence of the Religious Right, the Religious Left, and Reconstructionism in the United States , an anti-freedom and anti-capitalistic mentality prevails. The Roman Catholic Church-State, which is itself an absolute monarchy ruled by megalomaniacs [Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church] who claim to be God's Voice on Earth, has always been opposed to freedom and capitalism. But now we have well-funded organizations such as the Acton Institute, headed by a Romanist priest, Robert Sirico, that is dedicated to promoting the pious prevarication that the Roman Church-State favors freedom and capitalism. It is aided in this deliberate deception by men such as David VanDrunen, whose latest book defending natural law the Acton Institute has just published. VanDrunen is Robert B. Strimple Professor of Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Westminster Theological Seminary ( California ), a nominally Reformed Seminary, and a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, where he most recently chaired that denomination's Committee on Justifica­tion. VanDrunen was educated at Calvin College , Westminster Seminary in California , Trinity Evangelical Divinity School , Northwestern University School of Law, and received his Ph.D. from (Ignatius) Loyola University in Chicago . VanDrunen has written two books defending his Romanist ideas: Law and Custom: The Thought of Thomas Aquinas and the Future of the Common Law and A Biblical Case for Natural Law. There is no secret Jesuit conspiracy to corrupt the Protestant churches and bring them back to Rome ; the conspiracy is wide open: Educate their teachers and send the dupes forth to promote false doctrine in nominally Protestant colleges and seminaries. Westminster Seminary is not the only institution where this is happening; run down the list of prominent Protestant col­leges and seminaries, check out the educational backgrounds of their teachers, and you will see it repeated many times.

This means the Romanists are not alone: They have many willing and eager allies among nominal Protestants. (About l the only thing Protestants protest in the twenty-first century is Biblical Christianity and those few men courageous enough to defend it.) The Acton Institute is one small piece of the vast anti-freedom movement in American churches and society. The so-called Reformed churches advocate some form of welfare-statism, if not outright socialism. Calvin College , for example, whose faculty John Calvin would fire (perhaps in more than one sense) were he aware of them and able to do so, has promoted evolution, socialism, and theological and political liberalism for decades. Those deluded parents who send their children there, paying a hundred thousand dollars for the privilege, are culpably ignorant of what Christianity is, or of what Calvin College is, or both. One could continue listing many other institutions of "Christian" higher education as examples of the anti-freedom, anti-capitalist, Antichristian mentality that prevails in America . Many of the faculty mem­bers at such institutions received their education from Roman Catholic schools, and they regurgitate in their Neo-Evangelical classrooms what they imbibed from the lips of their Romanist teachers; and they win praise and admiration for doing so.

One idea that unites all the opponents of freedom and capitalism is a profound hatred for the individual and individualism. It takes one form in the corporate "salvation" hawked by the Romanist Church-State for centuries ("no salvation outside the Church," an idea now hawked by false teachers in "Reformed" churches). It takes another form in the rabid attack on private judgment and the vociferous defense of Tradition by both Romanists and nominal Protestants. This theological attack on the individual and individualism is what informs the economic and political attack on the individual in politics and economics. Corporate salvation dispensed and withheld by clerics implies and requires political and economic corporativism: a collectivist system in which Earthly salvation is dispensed and withheld by autocrats. Thejissumption of both civil and ecclesiastical autocrats is that the individual belongs to the Church and /or to the State. This anti-individu­alism - clearly contrary to all that the Bible teaches - explains much of the anti-freedom and anti-capitalistic mentality of the churches. It is a short step from attacking private judgment to denying free speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and religious freedom in general. Private judgment and private property are inextricably linked.

The individualism of the Bible is so obvious and blatant that it takes severe spiritual blindness (that is, intellectual paralysis) to miss it. According to the infallible history given to us in Genesis,the individual human being is logically and chronologically prior to all groups: God created an individual man, Adam; he did not create a family, tribe, clan, congregation, clerical hierarchy, or nation, as he could have done, had he so wished. From that individual, Adam, he made his wife, Eve; and from them eventually issued a family, a church, and all the nations. But all those groups are derivative; they are not fundamental. They all rest on and derive from the indi­vidual. Throughout the Old Testament God deals with groups through individuals: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, and so on. A partial list of these heroic individuals appears in Hebrews 11.

The central figure, the central individual,in all of human history is, of course, the man Jesus Christ. He is the second and last Adam. It is through him alone that sinners have any access to God the Father. All the benefits of his unique life and work are applied directly to individual sinners, not by any human group, but by his Spirit alone. Only individuals are called to salvation; they may hear the outward call of the Gospel while in a group (and even then the hearing is individual), but they receive the inward call of the Spirit only as an individual. They are individually regenerated by the Spirit, individually resurrected (just as Lazarus alone came forth from the grave), individually adopted by the Spirit, individually justified by the Spirit, individually sanctified by the Spirit, and individually glorified by the Spirit. Salvation is the salvation of individu­als. Paul used this idea in Romans to explain why God was completely faithful to his promises, for his promises were not made to the race or nation of Israel , as the Jews mistakenly thought, and still think, but only to elect individuals. When the individuals are saved, they become parts of Christ's body - distinctive, individual parts. They do not become ingredients in what the false teacher Douglas Wilson calls a "corporate covenant omelet"; they retain their individual identities of eyes, ears, arms, and legs. In fact, as they mature, they become even more singular individuals: The "eyes" become more acute at seeing Spiritual truth; the "ears" become more discerning at detecting error; the "arms" become stronger in defending and helping fellow Christians, and so on. Finally, in Heaven, Christ gives each individual believer a secret name that only he and Christ know. The closest group on Earth, the husband and wife, is dissolved, and the saints live for all eternity as in­dividuals directly and privately connected to their Lord and Savior by truths that only they know.

This individualism makes the Bible unique among ancient books. It is this individualism that makes the Bible such a threat to collectivists of all sorts: Racists, familists, kinists, tribalists, statists, socialists, fascists, Communists, liberals, agrarians, environmentalists, clericalists, and churchmen. It explains why they have attacked, distorted, and perverted the Bible's teaching for centuries.

In the essays that follow, I try to explain the Biblical position on various contemporary topics: environmentalism; health care; the miliary draft and national service; foreign policy; abortion; private property and freedom of enterprise and association; government economic regulation; money and banking; education; and freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion. Not all of these essays concern public policy and practical matters; some are theoretical and lay the foundation for a new theory of Christian economics and politics.

 


"The Founder of Western Civilization" has not been previ­ously published;
"The Sine Qua Non of Enduring Freedom" originally ap­peared in A Man of Principle: Essays in Honor of Hans F. Sen-nolz, the Festschrift for my Economics teacher at Grove City College , which I co-edited in 1992;
"Some Problems with Natural Law" originally appeared in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction in 1977;
"The Political Philosophy of the Founding Fathers" originally appeared in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction in 1976;
"The Bible and the Draft" originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1980;
"The Messianic Character of American Foreign Policy" originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1990;
"Truth and Foreign Policy" originally appeared in The Trin­ity Review in 1991;
"Compassionate Fascism" originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 2001;
"Conservatism: An Autopsy" originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 2002;
"Rightwing Radical Chic" originally appeared in the Gold Standard Corporation Newsletter in 1987;
"The Reconstructionist Assault on Freedom" originally ap­peared in The Trinity Review under the titles "Joseph's Apes" (1991) and "Queer Christianity" (1992);
"Roman Catholic Totalitarianism" originally appeared in Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church in 1999, under the chapter titles "Persecution, Inquisition, and Slavery" and "Totalitarianism";
"The Relation of Church and State" by Charles Hodge originally appeared in The Princeton Review in 1863 and was reprinted in The Trinity Review in 1988;
"Abortion, the Christian, and the State" was first delivered as a lecture at the Reformed Episcopal Church in Philadelphia in 1984 and originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1985;
"The Ethics and Economics of Health Care" was delivered as a lecture at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1994;
"The Chickens' Homecoming" by John W. Whitehead origi­nally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1980;
"The Coming Caesars" by John W. Whitehead originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1981;
"Rebuilding American Freedom in the Twenty-First Cen­tury" has not been previously published;
"The Religious Wars of the Twenty-First Century" was first delivered as a lecture to the Association of Ministers of the Reformed Faith in May 2006, and appeared originally in The Trinity Review in 2006;
"The Failure of Secular Economics" was first delivered as a lecture at the 1999 Trinity Foundation Conference on Chris­tianity and Economics, and originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 2000;
"The Promise of Christian Economics" was first delivered as a lecture at the 1999 Trinity Foundation Conference on Christianity and Economics and originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 2000;
"Teaching Economics from the Bible" was first delivered as a lecture to a home school convention in Florida in 1995 and has not been previously published;
"The Neo-Evangelical Assault on Capitalism" originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1981 under the title "Ronald Sider: Contra Deum";
"The Reformed Assault on Capitalism" originally appeared in The Trinity Review under the title "Our Comrades at Calvin College" in 1996;
"The Roman Catholic Assault on Capitalism" originally appeared in Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church in 1999 under the chapter title "Rerum Novarum: On the Condition of the Working Classes";
"How Romanism Ruined America" originally appeared in Ecclesiastical Megalomania: The Economic and Political Thought of the Roman Catholic Church in 1999 under the chapter title "The Redistributive State and Interventionism";
"Not Yours to Give" originally appeared in Edward Ellis' biography of Davy Crockett, The Life of Colonel David Crockett, in 1884, and it has been reprinted many times since then; it first appeared in The Trinity Review in 1981;
"Money, Freedom, and the Bible" was first delivered as a lecture at a 1989 conference sponsored by the Gold Standard Corporation, and originally appeared in The Trinity Review in 1989;
"The Case Against Indexation" was first published as a booklet by the Committee for Monetary Research and Edu­cation in 1976;
"Is Christianity Tied to Any Political or Economic System?" has not been previously published;
"Ecology: The Abolition of Man" originally appeared in the Creation Research Society Quarterly in 1972.

May God bless you with wisdom and understanding as you read.
John W. Robbins October 2006


This essay is from Dr. Robbins’ book, Freedom and Capitalism: Essays on Christian Politics and Economics. This 650-page book is available at The Trinity Foundation Online Bookstore.


Copyright 2006 John W. Robbins. Post Office Box 68, Unicoi, Tennessee 37692
Website: http://www.trinityfoundation.org
Telephone: 423.743.0199 Fax: 423.743.2005