In 1978, Rousas Rushdoony wrote his influential book, The One and the Many.1 In it, he argued that every culture is inherently religious. The makeup of a society will reflect the religious inclinations of the people. The faith of the modern age, argued Rushdoony, is humanism:
A religious belief in the sufficiency of man as his own lord, his own source of law, his own savior. Instead of God and His law-word as the measure of all things, humanism has made man the measure of reality.
No man can escape the centrality of faith in their lives. Religious neutrality is impossible. The more one avoids the question, the stronger his religiosity becomes. As with humanism, Christianity cannot avoid the consequences of its faith in contemporary society. In the words of Rushdoony, “every culture is a religious externalized, a faith incarnated into life and action.” Christianity is by its very nature an active faith, an activist religion.
Activism can be described also by its common assertion of pacifism. If a Christian decides to live only to self and not engage society around him, he is acting against the cultural mandate. It is always an activist faith. Even pacifism is active in denying activism. Pacifists have a cause, and it is just as active as those who are idealists.
The result of many years of what I call “negative activism”2 is a completely defensive tactic against humanistic faith. What the church is doing today is retreating from her call to engage, thinking that God has not called us to be active; they are by nature being active opponents of Christianity.
- R.J. Rushdoony, The One and the Many (Fairfax, VA:Thoburn Press, 1978), 371-375 [↩ back]
- Negative activism is synonymous with pacifism. By retreating, some Christians are actually being active supporters of those who oppose the Christian faith [↩ back]