Institutes of Biblical Law, #1

Blog Entry #1

Institutes of Biblical Law

Rousas John Rushdoony

“Thomas Shepard wrote in 1649, ‘For all laws, whether ceremonial or judicial, may be referred to the Decalogue, as appendices to it, or applications of it, and so to comprehend all other laws as their summary.’”

“To attempt to study Scripture without studying its law is to deny it. To attempt to understand Western civilization apart from the impact of Biblical law within it and upon it is to seek a fictitious history and to reject twenty centuries and their progress.”

These two quotations, one from a Puritan forefather of New England and the other from the author of the work to which we will be studying lay the groundwork and put forward the underlying thesis of Rousas John Rushdoony in his desired goal for the work and give us an understanding for the necessity of his work. Rushdoony is interested in cogently presenting a case for the re-introduction of the place of Biblical law into the life of the Christian believer. He is concerned that anti-nomianism has taken over the preaching and teaching of the Christian church (for Rushdoony this primarily concerns the reformed churches in America). In short Anti-nomianism is the understanding that because of Christ’s work on the cross believers have been freed from following the Law and now are no longer required to Biblical morality.

It is worth taking a moment at this time to dismiss one of the most pernicious arguments against Rushdoony’s work in IBL. You will hear some refer to Rushdoony as a “Rabbi” or a “Talmudic Scholar”. In other words some will try and convince you that what Rushdoony is putting forward is merely a Legalistic Christianity, which is the other side of anti-nomianism. Another one of the crassest attacks and one that would be false and a violation of the 9th Commandment at this point is for Rushdoony’s detractors to say that Rushdoony at any point believed that one was Justified by the works of the Law or that man by his following of the Law in any way contributed to his own salvation. Often people who disagree with Rushdoony’s thesis and with his writings claim that he has in fact placed the Law in such a position as to put the Law in such a place as it becomes a necessity for making one right with God. It takes Rushdoony two pages into IBL to deflate and do away with this charge. One can say that the “key verse” for Rushdoony is Romans 8:4. In other words man has been freed in Christ to “…a position of law-keeping.” We who have been saved through the redeeming work of Christ have been made able to now look to the Law no longer as a burden or leading to death but have been freed to follow the Law as a rule of Life and out of love for God. The author is concerned in fleshing out exactly what this looks like and how this plays out in the life of the believer.

The basic outline of the work has Rushdoony examining each of the 10 Commandments, the Purpose of Law, the place of the Law in the Older and New Testament, the place of the Law and the Church, and finally the place that the Law of the Bible has played in defining Western society in general.

Coming tomorrow I will examine the introduction.

You can find the Institutes of Biblical Law for sale here.


One thought on “Institutes of Biblical Law, #1

  1. So what would the United States look like under such a government?

    Would we execute people for working on the Sabbath or committing adultery?
    Perhaps we should mandate keeping the Sabbath holy by making Christianity the official religion and demanding worship attendance? If so, does attending a WOF (Word of Faith) or Pentecostal service count or is that too heretical? I won’t even mention Catholicism, Orthodoxy or Mormonism.

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