God's Laws Supreme

If God is the sovereign ruler of the universe and the creator of mankind, then as man's creator God has the right to prescribe what moral laws men must obey. All other religions will try to relieve men of their moral responsibilities to God as their creator. This is often the attraction of other religions in that they promise the liberation of the individual from any accountability of their behavior to anyone other than themselves. This was one facet of the strategy Satan used with Eve when he tempted her to act in rebellion to God. The temptation was that she could be "like" God knowing good and evil and deciding which was which rather than allowing God to set parameters on her behavior. The following article describes this attraction of other religious worldviews in more detail.

Karma vs Providence

ByRev. R.J. Rushdoony


J.S.Mackenzie, in his Manuel of Ethics (London,1900), declared, "To be free means that one is determined by nothing butoneself." Such a freedom, however, can only be ascribed to God. Mackenziein effect posited a necessary aseity for man, so that man could be freed fromall determination external to himself.

From ancient times to the present, such a view of man hasbeen repeatedly popular, although arising in different contents and culturaltraditions. It has had competition, however, from another tradition. Just asMackenzie represents one extreme, so too does Karma represent another. For thedoctrine of Karma, all acts have a necessaryand inescapable link to the past and to the future. There is an inexorablechain of causes and effects, so that, instead of man being one who isdetermined by nothing but himself, as with Mackenzie, man becomes nothing but abrief and fleeting focus of consequences. We may call him a person, but he isreally only a moment in a chain of causality, a step, not a determiner.


In a sense, these two doctrines represent an antithesis.However, to hold so is to overlook a central fact: both absolve man ofresponsibility. If man is determined by nothing but himself, he isresponsible to no one; he therefore cannot be judged by an external law orstandard. He is then his own god and law. He is his own universe andcausality, and none can judge him. However, if man is simply a link in thechain of Karma, then he again is beyond criticism because he is beyondresponsibility. As a product of Karma, he is no more than a consequence of amultiplicity of causes, and he bears a burden not of his making. He isa victim, and hence not responsible. Both positions thus mark man as acovenant-breaker who refuses to acknowledge his sin before God.

In bothpositions, moreover, a fundamental principle of polytheism appears, "godsmany and lords many." In Mackenzie's view, every man is his own god; inthe doctrine of Karma, the multiple and accruing causes become the many gods.In either case, man denies responsibility.


The doctrine of creation, however, sets forth, among otherthings, two facts which make man fully responsibleFirst, manis God's creation. The universe and man move, not in terms of an abstract,impersonal, and inexorable causality, but in terms of God and His law. The commondoctrine of causality, because of its Greek origins, depersonalizes causality,which is seen as a part of the blind world of matter. This doctrine ofcausality has great affinity to Karma, and, like it, presupposes some kind ofultimate other than the sovereign and absolutely personal God of Scripture. Adepersonalized causality is nonsense: it is a myth and a delusion. Second,man is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28), so that, by virtue of thatimage, he is a responsible creature who has a secondary power of determination. Heis not a god, but neither is he a passing link in a chain of consequences. Heis man, a responsible creature, and hence, in his fall, under God's moraljudgement (Gen. 3:16-19; Rom. 3:10-19). His creatureliness is an inescapablefact, as well as his creation in God's image. Similarly, the doctrine ofprovidence has major implications with respect to man's responsibility. TheStoics used the word providence asa synonym for nature, necessity, and fate; it was non-personal and no more thana causal nexus. Thus, despite the use of the term providence, the Stoic doctrine was closer by farto Karma than to Scripture.


The Biblical doctrine of providence gives us the personaland triune God whose government totally comprehends all things. This means, first, that becauseit is a universe of personal facts that surround us, and the personal God, ourresponse and actions cannot be impersonal: they are always personal and moral.Neither we nor creation are abstractions, nor is the movement and nature ofthings a product of blind necessity. We live, move, and have our being in Godand His universe, in a moral context at all times (Acts 17:28) so that we cannever escape moral decisions nor moral responsibility. Man was no sooner createdthan he was confronted by the necessity for moral decisions (Gen. 2:16-17). Themoral choice placed before Adam was not something imposed by God on Adam but aninescapable fact of creation and providence. Since God has created manand all things else, and God's absolute and total government rulesprovidentially in and through all things, moral responsibility is aninescapable part of the constitution of things. There is no neutral,non-moral corner in all of creation. God's total providence is His absolutewisdom, holiness, and righteousness in action. Man's life is thus not in avacuum but in a moral context and continuum. Not even death provides the sinneran escape from this moral universe.

Such aview is not acceptable to paganism and humanism, nor to the neoplatonists inthe church. In Deuteronomy 23:12-14 we have a law wherein God requires even anarmy on the march to practice sanitation where defecation is concerned. Theneoplatonist is not averse to state laws on sanitation, but he wants God toremain "spiritual" and above and beyond such matters. He thus turnsover a vast area of ultimate responsibility and providence to the state.Biblical law makes such a view heresy.


Second, the doctrineof providence means that, at every moment, every man confronts the living God. His response, whether for good or evil, is a personal anda moral response. Man is inescapably a responsible creature.
In Proverbs, we have a strong emphasis on God's sovereign and predestinatinggovernment, as witness Proverbs 16:4 and 20:24, but this goes hand in hand witha strong stress on man's moral responsibility (Prov. 20:11,17,23, etc.).

God isthe living God. So Jeremiah's words, "the LORD is the true God, he is theliving God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, andthe nations shall not be able to abide his indignation" (Jer.10:10). We cannot isolate morality from religion without denying bothin any Biblical sense. God is the Lord, and nothing is outside or beyondHim, so that in all things we are face to face with the living God and Hisgovernment.

For the ungodly, whatever order, rule, or providence thatmay exist in the universe is an impersonal, abstract, and exterior fact and government. For us, because Godis our Lord, it cannot be seen as such, and is in fact never such for any man.Providence for us means a universe of total and personal meaning which becomesour life and world by the adoption of grace. We then move in the light of God'sprovidence and grace as responsible covenant-keepers. We have a place then inthat total government, a meaning, goal, and calling. Responsibility forus is then not a chore but the key to a world of knowledge, holiness,righteousness, and dominion under God as His image bearers.