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Thy Kingdom Come

Author:  R.J. Rushdoony

Book Review by Ken Davies

Rushdoony, Rousas John. Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation. Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1970. Paperback, 256 pp. Available from: Fairfax Christian Bookstore, 11121 Pope’s Head Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030.

Rousas Rushdoony is the author of over 20 other books, including the Institutes of Biblical Law, Law and Liberty, and By What Standard? Currently, he is acting as president of the Chalcedon foundation in Vallecito, CA.

Mr. Rushdoony begins this book by demonstrating the offense of Daniel to a mankind which considers itself to be autonomous and God to be its servant. The fact that Daniel predicted, hundreds of years in advance, the rise and fall of four empires (along with the establishment of a permanent fifth empire), is offensive to the non-Christian because it shows conclusively that God is the Sovereign King of the universe, who does as He pleases and predestines the future of men and nations according to His purpose. This is seen by the unregenerate man as being entirely contrary to all that he knows or thinks, therefore, he concludes, the book of Daniel must be a forgery, written much later than the historical figure we know as Daniel.

The historical background of Daniel is enlightening, showing why God’s sovereignty is emphasized to such an extent. The Persians, and later the Greeks and Romans, considered their leaders to be representatives of the gods on earth and therefore divine beings. The book of Daniel points again and again to man’s mortality and inability to manipulate God.

When he comes to Revelation, Rushdoony gives brief historical outlines of events surrounding the seven churches and relates these to the instructions given to each by the Holy Spirit. However, he sees these letters, not so much as relating exclusively to the churches of Asia, but to the church in general, and throughout all time. They are not a chronological account of history (as the historical position would say), but they show general trends that the church can expect during its existence.

In some respects, I found this book to be refreshing. At times, however, it was frustrating. Mr. Rushdoony’s comments regarding the premillennial position rang true with a vengeance: “...[T]he expectation that history will culminate in the triumph of antichrist is not only a dualistic surrender of the material world to Satan, but also a direct offense against the announced power and supremacy of God in, through, and over all creation and history.” He says both premill and amill eschatology are “tainted with the background of Manichaean heresy, with its surrender of matter to darkness.” He also points out that premillennialism has made racism a “divine principle,” and essential doctrine: “Every attempt to bring the Jew back into prophecy as a [non-Christian] Jew, is to give race and works (for racial descent is a human work) a priority over grace and Christ’s work, and is nothing more or less than paganism.”

Rushdoony goes on to say that the premill method of interpretation was the “essence of Phariseeism and led to the rejection and crucifixion of Christ.” No wonder he considers it a “vicious heresy”!

One of the frustrating things I encountered while reading Thy Kingdom Come was Mr. Rushdoony’s apparent disregard for the Scriptures’ time element. For example, in a footnote on page 86, he is careful to include the disclaimer of Henry Alford regarding the “must shortly come to pass” verses of Revelation, in which he states that these do not mean “close at hand”. He seems to take a historical view of Revelation, that it is in some ways like a handbook of what the church can expect throughout history. The seven churches in Revelation are taken to be archetypes, representing “the whole church of every age”. The time factors are taken to be flexible, not necessarily requiring a first century fulfillment. From a preterist, as well as a Biblical viewpoint, this is unacceptable. Mr. Rushdoony says that Christ is continually coming in judgment throughout history. This makes the judgment of Israel in A.D. 70 just one of many, and not an especially significant one at that. It is unfortunate to find this opinion being held by a man who, in other places, upholds the integrity of the Bible with zealous tenacity. In another place, Mr. Rushdoony quotes Mk.9:1 and references Mt. 16:28 and Lk. 9:27. He admits that some of the disciples present did live to see “the kingdom of God come with power”, but he ignores the references in the preceding verses to the coming of Christ that was to be concurrent with the coming of the kingdom. In an effort to explain away the plain time elements in Mt. 24, he says, “The Day of the Lord and the coming of the Lord, also His coming on clouds, are often spoken of in the OT as a very real coming, and as distinct from the end and yet part of it and a forerunner of it”. (His emphasis) How can something be apart from something and still be a part of it, and also precede it?

We can agree with the author’s view of the church being victorious in the world. “If history is thus in the hands of Christ, its issue is victory, not the surrender of time to Satan with the reservation of eternity to God”. Rushdoony quotes the famous premill statement, “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship”, and says that this type of philosophy is “errant paganism and radically at odds with Scripture”. We can certainly say “Amen!” to that. The idea that the kingdom of God is purely spiritual, he says, “is a fearful perversion of the role of the church”. “Christian faith is either relevant to all of life or it is relevant to none of it: The claims of God are either total, or He is not God”.

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