By R. J. Rushdoony
On July 26, 1969, it was my privilege to attend Dr. Hans Sennholz’s seminar on “The Dollar Crisis.” As Dr. Sennholz concluded his very able and intensely interesting account of our problem, he analyzed the decline of the paper dollar and the grim future and then concluded thus (to cite my summary notes): The people are to blame; the government is their tool. People make demands on the government for a growing list of services, demanding aids, services, grants, which create an inflationary economy. Peter has been taxed to pay Paul. The end of the road is in sight, but the pressures on the government by the people continue. Price controls and a dictator loom ahead on this road, and economic destruction. The people must change, before the trend can change.
These admirable words reflect a Christian perspective; they echo the faith in personal responsibility which is basic to Christian western civilization.
Yet within a week, as l reported these words to a number of Christian and conservative ministers and laymen, I received a large number of objections. I was told: Not true, the people have been misled. Not true, it has been a conspiracy against the innocent public. Wrong, let me give you a book proving who has fooled the public . . . and so on. During the same time I also saw a leftist analysis of the tight money situation: it was described as a capitalistic conspiracy against the people!
The leftist analysis alone was logical, although wrong. The Marxist perspective is that not individual responsibility but environment is the source of sin, wrong, and evil. Men are victims, not sinners. Change the environment, and you change man. Sennholz had echoed the Christian presupposition: change the man, and you change the environment. These “Christians” and “conservatives” who criticized Dr. Sennholz were revealing the extent to which they had absorbed Marxist premises; they were carrying the old banners but marching in an alien army.
Let us analyze the matter more carefully, first, the matter of conspiracy. Most simply defined by the dictionary, a conspiracy is a “Combination of men for a single end”; in law, it is a combination for either unlawful ends or to use unlawful means towards an end in view. The Christian must take the conspiracy view of history seriously, because Scripture teaches throughout that history is a struggle, with the forces of evil conspiring against God and his anointed (Ps. 2). History is not a blind, impersonal force, as for the Marxists, but a very personal work of God primarily and secondarily of men. Thus, conspiracies are real, because men are very real forces in history.
But, second, because the Bible denies that history is the product of unconscious, impersonal forces and drives, it asserts individual responsibility. In Genesis 3, it made clear that the essence of sin is to blame other persons or the environment for one’s own guilt. Adam, by blaming his environment (God), and his wife (Eve), for his sin only aggravated his guilt.
It follows, therefore, that we can alert people to what various conspiracies are doing to undermine or subvert a nation, but we cannot as Christians blame any conspiracy for our weakness or fall. Men stand or fall in terms of their faith and character. True, man’s faith and character is subjected to attack, but so was Adam’s; in this world, there is always testing, temptation, and trial. The question is, “Do we submit to it or overcome it?” Dr. Sennholz was right: The people must change, before the trend can change. Any conclusion other than individual responsibility is a denial of Christianity and is implicit Marxism.
Because so many ostensible Christians and conservatives lack a Biblically grounded faith, their actions and statements often end up in an unconscious anti-Christianity. As a result, some so-called conservative movements are moving into strange waters and revealing anti-Christian and anti-conservative tendencies.
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