Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review of R.J. Rushdoony, To Be as God

Rousas John Rushdoony, To Be as God; A Study of Modern Thought Since Marquis de Sade. Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2003. 253 pages, with index.

Rev. Rushdoony's son, Mark, notes in his introduction that his father had left his book incomplete at his death in 2001. Nevertheless, a book there was and a book we have, despite the author's inability to finishing writing all he had in mind.

R.J. Rushdoony was a prolific, often profound, and equally-often idiosyncratic Christain scholar, writing on topics as varied as epistemology, history, psychology and eschatology. I know. I read about thirty of his books (including the 890-page "Institutes of Biblical Law") from the late 1970s to the early 1990s--and I have dipped back into three of his later works--including this one--in recent years. A Westminister Standards man of the Reformation, Rushdoony also championed reconstruction: the doctrine that the institution of comprehensive biblical law would be a key factor in establishing the (post-millennial) Kingdom of God on earth. The epistemology and apologetic behind this was Van Tillian presuppositionalism: one must give no inch of common ground to the unbeliever in apologetics, but must, rather, presuppose the entire Reformed worldview and use that perspective as the foundation from which to critique alien worldviews.

I was much influenced by this grand and compelling vision for several years. While I remain a Calvinist on soteriology, I have abandoned reconstructionism, although I retain a "Christ transformer of culture" model, to use Neibuhr's typology from Christ and Culture. Nor do I accept Van Til's apologetics in its entirely, as I point out in my book, Christian Apologetics. 

Yet Rushdoony, the disciple of Van Til, aptly employs his mentor negative apologetic and key theological insight throughout this book: people want to be their own gods at the expense of the one true God of Scripture. In so doing, they erect impotent (if noisy) idol which ultimately turn against them and all they influence, since those who hate God love death. In some cases, they are blatant in this confession (Nietzsche); in others, the idea must be traced out through analysis. And this is what Rushdoony does by critiquing an impressive list of thinkers, including Marquis de Sade (a perverted thinker far more important than most realize), Walt Whitman, Nietzsche, Marx, and others. He was also able to apply theological categories to social and philosophical thought in way that uniquely illuminated their true roots and fruits. In addition to his deep historical knowledge and philosophical insights, Rushdoony had broad pastoral and personal experience--sources from which he draws many illustrations, some humorous.

For these reasons, the book is worth reading as an apologetic against autonomous modern thought. However, like most of Rushdoony's works, it is poorly edited, given that he seldom wrote for established publishers who would rigorously prune and purify a manuscript. Nevertheless, the book, like all of his works, is deeply footnoted. His son-in-law, Gary North (another prolific author and Reconstructionist) claims that the man read a book a day for decades. Having seen his library and read so many of his books, I believe it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Of late, I have been reading a lot of biographical material about Georgia O'Keeffe (d. 1986) and her circle of friends and artists, including her photographer-impresario husband, Alfred Stieglitz (d. 1946). Both helped shape the adventurous face of artistic modernism in the Twentieth Century. Both were fascinating personalities, but hardly virtuous outside of their art work. Much of their lives, despite their artistic genius (and my fascination is with O'Keeffe far more than with Stieglitz), were marred by the sexually perverse.

In contrast, I am near finishing Basic Christian, a biography of the British evangelical pastor, author, and statesman, John Stott (d. 2011). Rev. Stott was not an artist through photographs or on canvas (although as an avid bird-watcher, he did engage in aviation photography), but rather a purveyor of biblical truth through a godly and focused personality. His call was to preaching, teaching, writing, and the truths of Scripture. He was known for his discipline, articulation, and humility. He was a model for ministry, for a life well lived under the calling of Christ. I have benefited from so many of his many works: Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ, The Contemporary Christian, Why I am a Christian, Between Two Worlds, and others.

John Stott, I can admire. I am inspired by this faithfulness and character. O'Keeffe and her kin, on the other hand, display creativity, daring, and often (when not perverse) endearing idiosyncrasy. But they were not godly. In most ways, they cannot serve as models of moral character. And I must read and study them with a certain amount of caution, lest I imbibe unhealthy sensibilities.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gag on Gaga

Mark Sayers and I have the cover stories on Lady Gaga in the most recent Christian Research Journal.


Special revelation calls to and for general revelation:


General revelation calls to and for special revelation:


Friday, December 23, 2011

Introduction to Philosophy

Douglas Groothuis
Texts for Intro to Philosophy
Metro State, Spring 2012

Introduction to Philosophy

1.      Louis Pojman, Philosophy: the Pursuit of Wisdom. Wadsworth
2.      Plato, The Trial and Death of Socrates. Barnes and Noble.
3.      Blaise Pascal, Human Happiness. Penguin.
4.      Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy. Barnes and Noble.
5.      Ecclesiastes: Or the Preacher. Canongate Books Ltd.
ISBN-10: 0862417945
ISBN-13: 978-0862417949


  1. Douglas Groothuis, On Pascal. Wadsworth.
  2. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus. Wadsworth

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yes, and No

Wisdom knows
when to gaze,
and when to avert the eyes.

When to listen,
and when to muffle the ears.

When to touch,
and when to pull way untouched.

When to embrace,
and when to turn away.

When to ponder the past,
and when to inhabit the present fully.

Each thing, time, place
in its own measure.

Only God
can bear to know
all things
as they are--
and know them aright.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens is Dead

Christopher Hitchens, the acerbic atheist and prolific author, is dead. I reviewed his book, god is not Great, a few years ago. He was a keen wit, a good writer, and a terrible philosopher of religion.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bachmann on Gingrich

“Well, I think there’s very serious concerns about Newt Gingrich as the nominee. And this is starting to get unpacked, because again we know that he has taken over $100 million. His offices are on the Rodeo Drive of Washington called K Street. He’s the king of K Street. And so for a person who has been influence peddling for over 30 years in Washington D.C. to think that Newt Gingrich is somehow an outsider, when he’s the consummate establishment insider, he’s the big government candidate just like Mitt Romney is the big government candidate, that’s not what we want in our nominee. It doesn’t even survive the falling off the chair laughing test.” -- Michele Bachmann.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dear Douglas,

Only 24 days remain until the Iowa caucuses and our campaign is ramping up its efforts! Despite what the elitist media and my establishment-backed opponents would have you believe, Iowa is still anyone’s game and we are rising in the latest polls.

With your help, I can prove to the liberal media that grassroots conservatives like you not only stood with me in Ames, Iowa, but also stand with me in the national polls and support my campaign with your generous contributions.

In fact, according to some of the latest polls, 70% of likely early primary voters are still undecided in this race!

That’s why I must raise every available dollar between now and January 3rd to ensure our hard-charging constitutional conservative campaign – not some milquetoast opponents like Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich – wins over these undecided Iowa voters.

With so much on the line for our nation, struggling Americans deserve a consistent conservative to solve our economic problems and create jobs -- not the same empty rhetoric offered up by my opponents and the Democrats. We need a proven leader who will stand up to the “Washington elite”.

I am the consistent conservative running for President, and you can always count on me to stay true to my word. Your donation of $25, $50, $100 or more today will ensure our campaign is able to stand up to the Democrat war machine.

As a mother of five and foster mother to 23, I need to prove to the liberal media that grassroots conservatives like you not only stood with me in Ames, Iowa, but also stand with me in the national polls and support my campaign with your generous contributions.

This election is the most critical of our time and it's not a year to settle for just anyone; this is the time to restore the principles that once made our nation great.

The next step on the road to the White House is the Iowa caucus, and we're going all in. Join us as we push forward to victory!


Michele Bachmann

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

O'Keeffe in a Cup

I looked, then gazed, then coffee and milk in my cup. Yes, yes, it looked something like a Georgia O'Keeffe painting--especially the swirls, but not the colors. I thanked God, and took another gulp

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It is somehow our lot to lament the avoidable and the unavoidable woes of a wounded world.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

From Michele Bachmann

You can always count on me to stay true to my word and put America and Americans first. I am the consistent conservative who will put our nation back on a path towards prosperity and restore our values to government. In the words of Rush Limbaugh, “She's not seeking fundamental transformation of our country. She seeks to uphold the country and the Constitution."

My Original Version of an Article Published in Christianity Today

Social Media and the Church

Many American assimilate and advance new communication technologies without a second (or perhaps first) thought. To invoke Marshall McLuhan, they “sleep walk through history.” Those who Jesus called “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) should rather wake up and assess the nature, strengths and weaknesses of the plethora of technologies that assail us daily and hourly.

What place does social media have in the fellowship and evangelism of the local church? Is Facebook a good home for your church? Should your pastor tweet or not? To answer these pertinent questions, we need to attend to two issues: First, what is social media? Second, what is a biblical model of fellowship (or koinonia)?

Social Media

Social media are computer-mediated methods for communication. They enhance human accessibility and the speed of communication between people and groups. I can check Facebook or Twitter to learn how a friend in India (or across the street) is doing. (That is, assuming I can verify their identity—no small problem for much of social media.) However, social media both give and take away, as do all media. They extend the reach of text and images far beyond what the un-electrified, un-mediated individual may do. However, social media also restrict the human presence by subtracting the reality of “being there” and “being with.”

Social media also clutter our field of concentration, rendering our attention to any one thing at one time with any depth nearly impossible. Thus, multi-tasking becomes the norm (even though our God-given brains are not designed for it). We become scattered, flighty, not fully engaged in anything.

Biblical Fellowship

The Bible prizes the personal and face-to-face dimension of human association which is absent, but simulated, through social media. John writes at the end of his short epistle, I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete” (2 John 12; see also 3 John 13-14). Although God had sent prophets and inspired holy Scripture for centuries, all was not complete until “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

The mission of God is to make himself known and worshipped as the one true God in all the nations. To that end, Christians have ardently preached and defended the Gospel. The have copied and translated the Bible into as many languages as possible. Christ-followers have also labored to out the message through radio, television, and now the Internet, because “how can they hear [the gospel] without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14). We can try to evangelize through social media and develop forums of association within the church.

Nevertheless, we should remember the shortcomings of social media. They remove the personal presence and fracture awareness. One should not receive communion while glancing at a text message. One cannot be baptized on line. As Paul said, “Test everything. Hold on to the good” (1 Thes. 5:21).

Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary is the author of Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity, 2011) and The Soul in Cyberspace (Baker, 1997).

Friday, December 02, 2011

Urgent Prayer

God, who owns everything, prevail on behalf of your impoverished servant who is in danger of losing his house at the holidays. He is working for your to educate the church on Islam. Come to his aid, Oh God of mercy and provision. Oh, God, restore, renew, and bless supernaturally. Amen
Sending hand-written cards to people is a way to personalize an increasingly impersonal world. "Love is kind."

Thursday, December 01, 2011