Lord Acton’s dictum “All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is a liberal half-truth and reflects liberal illusions. First of all, all power does not corrupt. The power of a godly husband and father to govern his family does not corrupt him; he exercises it under God and in terms of God’s law-word. Instead of being corrupted by his power, the godly man is blessed by means of his power, and he makes it a blessing to his family and society. A godly ruler, who uses his power readily for legitimate and moral ends, prospers the society under his power. The two evils with respect to power and the exercise thereof are, on the one hand, the fear of using power, and on the other, the immoral use of power. Both evils extensively prevail in any humanistic society. Men who are afraid to use power lawfully and morally corrupt their families and societies. The failure to exercise due power reduces a society to lawlessness and anarchy. The immoral use of power leads to the corruption of society and the suppression of freedom, but it is not the use of power which causes this decay but the immoral use thereof. Power does not corrupt when it is used properly under God: it blesses, prospers, orders and governs society to its advantage and welfare.
My two cents
I remember hearing Lord Acton’s quote, thinking it was a truism, and never questioning it. Now, after reading Rushdoony’s quote, I’m a changed man.
I was kinda taught to think of power as a bad thing, and that equalitarianism was meant to be this good thing we should aim for all the time. But, I’m more convinced by Rushdoony’s take. In any case, just because you don’t have power doesn’t mean you’re not corrupt.
I first read the Institutes of Biblical Law in 2008, and my plan is to read it all again. In the last month or so, I’ve read about 100 pages of it. Maybe if I spent less time blogging, I could get through the rest of the book.
Rushdoony, R.J. (1973). The Institutes of Biblical Law. Volume I. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, p. 59