R.J. Rushdoony on defining life and death, Biblically

Since life is given by God and is to be lived on His terms alone, no life of man or beast can be taken except on God’s terms, whether by the state, by man to eat, or by man in his self-defense. To attempt to govern or to take life apart from God’s permission, and apart from His service, is like attempting to govern the world and future apart from God.

My two cents

English: The Ten Commandments, illustration fr...
English: The Ten Commandments, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If someone asked me to explain what is meant by terms such as Biblical worldview, then I would probably use this quote. Although it’s important to get this concept out to everyone, I daresay that there are Christians who read the Bible but don’t understand what the term means; so long as salvation and emotion are taken care of, the state can take the lead on defining other parts of life, kind of by default.

I therefore accept the death penalty—where the Bible specifies it as the penalty. If the state intends to extend it to other crimes, it’s treating itself as sovereign, and that’s a no-no. I compare this to the life (and death) of John the Painter, an 18th-century arsonist of British shipyards—that’s life (and death) according to the state, not according to God.

Sometimes I have this romanticised idea that society was completely biblical a few hundred years back—but it seems the ugly scourge of humanism (manifested through judicial relativism) was there as well.

Quote source

Rushdoony, R.J. (1973). The Institutes of Biblical Law. Volume I. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. p. 36


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