by Christopher J. Ortiz
We are therefore in a state of war, war between heaven and humanism, war between the Almighty God and the totalitarian state, war between God and the scientific planners, predictors, and controllers, war between God and all those who deny His infallibility. Such a conflict is a very uneven one, and there can be no doubt as to the outcome of this war.1
Like our Savior, we were born into battle. Not merely by our natural birth—but by being born of the Spirit: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). For our Lord, the prophetic injunction of the Garden of Eden constrained the ancient serpent to retain a clear eye on the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). What he did not know was that the Seed of the woman would bear a remnant:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. Rev. 12:17
The dragon declared war on them “which keep the commandments of God.” In other words, Satan does not prioritize the antinomian for serious conflict, since the antinomian can expect no outward victory in history—he has forsaken God’s primary means to measurable success. In actuality, the antinomian is a tool to help further the satanic victory, as Rushdoony notes:
The true Church is not destroyed by Satan’s efforts. The false church can be captured and made a tool of autonomous man’s pretensions, but the true Church, the remnant of God, although the object of warfare, cannot be destroyed.2
It is during times of conflict that God helps to provide covering for the true church by causing a false or compromised Christianity to absorb the dragon’s flood (Rev. 12:15). And because the flood is a raging one, victory for the true church is miraculous, since the church is able to traverse the earth on dry ground.
The dragon pursues the people of God and seeks to destroy them. Failing to destroy Christ, Satan seeks to destroy Christ’s people. “And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood” (v. 15). The delusions coming from his mouth are every kind of false doctrine and teaching, every delusion of religion and science whereby men try to infiltrate and destroy the true Church of God. But verse 16 reveals that such attempts are frustrated: the earth, that is, the world apart from Christ, so welcomes these delusions that the dragon’s flood of falsity only overwhelms his own people, while the true Church is delivered into safety by God.3
The Devil Makes Them Do It
With whom are we at war? For the overly spiritual Charismatic, we are engaged in a heavenly conflict with principalities and powers requiring only protracted seasons of intense intercessory prayer, viz. “spiritual warfare.” For the average Conservative Christian, we are at war with Democrats, the liberal media, and the ACLU. Two very different perspectives, but do either represent our true spiritual conflict?
At the outset of this article, Rushdoony saw the church as being at war with humanism, the totalitarian state, the scientific controllers, and all those who deny God’s infallibility. How can we harmonize these outlooks with the supposedly clear statements of the apostle Paul?
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph. 6:12
At first glance, this text appears to favor the Charismatic view. Isn’t Paul saying that we should look beyond physical opponents and engage in warfare praying against the real source of evil? That was the premise behind Frank Perretti’s best-selling novel This Present Darkness—the book that helped launch the spiritual warfare movement.
The apostle Paul is not denying that we contend with the organized wickedness of men, i.e. “flesh and blood.” This is initially proved by the fact that the offensive weapon of the Christian armor is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). What Paul is saying is that we should not see men alone as our opposition, but recognize that behind the cultural institutions of this world system is an elaborate super structure of spiritual wickedness. In this sense, our contending with the kingdom of darkness is very much a ground war, because “the prince of the power of the air… worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).
The Collapsing of Satan’s Kingdom
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Luke 10:18
When the seventy disciples of our Lord returned from preaching the gospel, they celebrated the fact that “even the devils are subject unto us through thy name” (v. 17). To this, our Lord replied that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. However, the disciples did not directly confront the heavenly powers—they were engaged in a ground war that resulted in the collapsing of Satan’s spiritual kingdom. Our Lord did not need to hear the disciple’s testimony of gospel victory. He had seen the end result of their ministry demonstrated in the heavens.
The kingdom of darkness organizes wickedness beneath itself, viz. on the earth. It empowers embedded philosophies such as humanism and provides substantial insight to the social engineers who seek to manipulate history. What the disciples did to the demon possessed, we must do to the social order. Fallen man is aided in his blackened thinking by a sophisticated evil that wants to frame its mischief into law (Ps. 94:20), and it becomes the purpose of the people of God to both resist and rebuild. This is the meaning of Christian Reconstruction.
The Great Christian Protest
This is why Rushdoony perpetually held forth his sustained polemic against the humanistic state. It was for him the embodiment of evil, since he agreed with Hegel that fallen man sees the state as god walking on earth. It is for this reason that devils push for a secularized society—they must remove God from the public sphere in order to establish the satanic-human society. This is the end result of statism, and Robert Lewis Dabney saw this early on and offered a strange prophecy predicting that one day a Christian segment would rise up against the monstrosity of the state:
[T]he Jeffersonian doctrine of the absolute severance and independence of church and state, of the entire secularity of the State, and the absolutely equal rights, before the law, of religious truth and error, of paganism, atheism, and Christianity, has also established itself in all the States; and still the politicians, for electioneering ends, propagate this State education everywhere. By this curious circuit “Christian America” has gotten herself upon this thoroughly pagan ground; forcing the education of responsible, moral, and immortal beings, of which religion must ever be the essence, into the hands of a gigantic human agency, which resolves that it cannot and will not be religious at all. Surely, some great religious body will arise in America to lift its Christian protest against this monstrous result! 4
Dabney was right. A great religious body did arise in Christian protest. It’s called Christian Reconstruction, and it’s a great indicator that victory is sure to come. So long as a persistent Christian voice remains to speak out against the institutions of Satan’s kingdom, there is hope the church of Jesus Christ will hear what the Spirit and the Word are saying.
Two Sides Working for Conquest
We are in a state of war, and set over against us is the covenant breaker working out the implications of his will to be as god. His goal is a victory in history, and without a Christian body to resist him, he will prevail in the short term. The covenant keeping Christian must therefore embrace the call to overcome the world through faith. As Rushdoony says, history is essentially a war between two world orders:
A fourth factor which prevents any destruction of the antithesis is precisely the fact that both the godly and the godless will, if true to their faith, work for conquest. The very unity of the human race in Adam leads men to seek a unified order, but the godly seek the Kingdom of God, and the godless, the kingdom of man. The clash between the two is inescapable. The doctrine of creation gives men a common origin and a common framework of purpose. In the regenerate, this means dominion over the earth under God; in the unregenerate, this means dominion over all things in defiance of God. Conquest is thus a common goal but with very differing programs, two radically different kinds of kingdoms.5
The true nature of spiritual warfare is to contend with the children of disobedience, because the prince of the power of the air works in them (Eph. 2:2). As Revelation says, “they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast” (Rev. 13:4). You cannot separate the one from the other. To defeat the dragon, you must first defeat the beast. Is this a simple task? Not in man’s eyes:
Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? Rev. 13:4
“[T]he Lamb shall overcome them” (Rev. 17:14); and with Him are the “called, and chosen, and faithful.” If we keep the commandments of God, and the testimony of Jesus, we shall possess the Kingdom. It need not be our generation, because regardless of the time of God’s visible reign, our participation would be the same. Therefore, war today as if the victory was coming tomorrow!
Originally published in a circular mailing by Chalcedon Foundation. Republished with the permission of Chris Ortiz and Chalcedon Foundation, April 29, 2009
- R. J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology in Two Volumes (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), 7.
- R. J. Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2001), 168.
- Robert Lewis Dabney, Discussions, Vol. IV: Secular (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1979), 548.
- R. J. Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1983), 224.