Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review of Rousas John Rushdoony, The Cure of Souls

Rousas John Rushdoony, The Cure of Souls: Recovering the Biblical Doctrine of Confession (Ross House Books, 2007).

Rousas John Rushdoony (d. 2001) was a prolific, if a bit idiosyncratic, Christian writer and teacher. He wrote mostly for small publishers, so his books were not always well-edited. He advanced a thesis, Reconstructionism (or theonomy), that advocated the application of the Mosaic law to today's society.

While I heave learned much from the mind of Rushdoony, I do not hold to Reconstructionism. Nevertheless. Rushdoony was often a trenchant social critic, who was gifted in applying theological categories to contemporary issues. On this, I recommend: The Messianic Character of American Education, This Independent Republic, The Nature of the American System, and The Revolt Against Maturity, to name just a few.

In this work, Rushdoony reflects on the nature of confession. He does so in 49 short chapters (or essays), which cover a wealth of angles. His goal is to reaffirm "the biblical doctrine of confession" as opposed to secular surrogates. To that end, Rushdoony cites many stories from his own long life as well as mining church history.

Rushdoony's central thesis is astute: the biblical doctrine of confession has been largely lost in the contemporary world. Many churches do not include it in their liturgy. Those outside the church may blather on about their sins without any sense of the meaning of sin or forgiveness. Rushdoony emphasizes that confession should be linked to repentance and restitution. We confess our sins before a holy God who commands us to "bear fruit worthy of repentance," as John the Baptist put it.

I found this book to be fascinating and challenging. It is a bit marred by poor editing, but that does not detract from the wisdom it contains. Surely "the cure of souls" is impossible without a proper doctrine and practice of confession

1 comment:

Jandom media! said...

I am a homeschooling mama and come across Rushdoony's name frequently in my books on educational philosophy and methodology. I've experienced a "check" in my spirit as I've studied theonomy, yet I find intriguing the ideas put forth through such teachings. Perhaps what I find thought-provoking is the Reformed treatment of the spheres / jurisdictions of government (the home, the church, civil government) as it relates to application in our world. I have difficulty, however in sorting out the ceremonial, civil, and ecclesiastical laws from one another as found in Scripture as they don't seem neatly categorized. The idea of using the same punishment prescribed for Israel gives me pause as well. Could you please help me understand your disagreement with theonomy and how you would go about applying Scripture to all of life? How does one know what is merely a principle and what should be a command or a law? I come from an Arminian background; is this treatment unique to Calvinism? (I've also studied the two kingdoms/ two swords view somewhat.) Thank you for your time (and forgive my ignorance).