Friday, May 21, 2010

R. J. Rushdoony's Rejection of the Federal Vision's Denial of the Visible/Invisible Church Distinction

While Internet slanderers attempt to link Rushdoony with the Federal Vision heresy, Rushdoony, unlike the Federal Vision heretics, rejected the blurring of the visible and invisible church.  In "Intellectual Schizophrenia" he opposes the Roman Catholic church for this very thing.

While his main points critique the Roman Catholic Church's equating of the visible and institutional church, in pointing out the Roman Catholic Church's blurring of the visible and invisible church in the course of an overall negative commentary on the nature of the Roman Catholic Church, Rushdoony implies a rejection of the blurring of the visible and invisible church:
The question is this: is the institutional church to be identified with the visible church? The Roman Catholic Church holds that the visible and invisible church are very closely linked and that the visible church is the institutional church. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church is the Kingdom of God on earth.
The immediate implications of this for every-day life are far-reaching. The world is divided into two realms, first, the realm of grace, which is the Kingdom of God or the church, and, second, the realm of nature, which is the rest of the world. As a consequence, the only way in which the home, the school, and the government can be linked with God is through the institutional church, in that they possess no direct relationship with Christ and hence no direct relationship with God.

Their relationship being mediated and subordinated to the institutional church, it becomes necessary for the state, school and home to be under the authority of the church in every avenue of life, and, as members of an inferior realm, the realm of nature, to be under constant suspicion and guard.

The realm of nature is seen as in constant tension with the realm of grace and only able to serve God as it dominated by the authority of grace, the church. Now as Dooyeweerd, Spier, Van Til, Vollenhoven and others have pointed out, this fundamental dichotomy between grace and nature is altogether unbiblical and wrong.

The dichotomy is not between grace and nature but between grace and sin so that when any realm of nature enters in to the state of grace it becomes part thereby of the visible church. To define the kingdom of God or the visible church in terms of the institutional church is to take the road to Rome, to drift toward the subordination of every avenue of life to the church. Many Protestants indeed share in this position and view every avenue of life with suspicion apart from the ecclesiastical domination.”

(Intellectual Schizophrenia: Culture, Crisis and Education, [Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1961], 38-39.  Cited in Brian Schwertley, The Kingdom of God [Brian M. Schwertley, 2003], footnote 39.)

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