An Interview with Randall Terry
By Eric Holmberg
Published February 2009
Transcribed and edited by Jay Rogers
Randall Terry was the founder of Operation Rescue in the 1980s, and has since diversified to a ministry addressing a full range of issues confronting America as we head into the 21st Century. He offers a dose of spiritual, intellectual and historical medicine designed to heal America’s wounds and return her to the character which caused people generations ago to call her “A Shining City on a Hill.” Using Scripture as a foundation, Randall comments on a wide variety of subjects ranging from criminal justice to national health care, spirituality, economics, abortion, government, and education. Randall ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Congress in 1998. Randall’s campaign platform included: Repealing the 16th amendment, thus abolishing the Federal Income Tax; Introducing a constitutional amendment to ban the property tax; Restoring legal protection to innocent pre-born babies. He more recently was an advocate for life in the Terri Schiavo case and ran unsuccessfully for Florida state representative.
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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
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Running Time: 240 minutes
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Question:— Didn’t the Apostle Paul say that we are no longer under law but under grace? If so, then what is the use of the Law of God under the New Covenant?
Randall Terry: There are well meaning Christians who say: “We’re not under the Law, we’re under grace.” Obviously, for the means of salvation we are under grace. We are saved by grace, not by the works of the law. But don’t be so quick to write the law off. Paul said in Romans 3:31: “By faith do we nullify the law? God forbid! We establish the law.” In 1 Timothy 1:9,10, Paul said that the law is not for the righteous; the law is for the wicked — and he went on to list murderers, man stealers, etc. The law is still for today with regards to its behavioral aspects. It’s still wrong to be involved in theft, murder, adultery, bestiality and homosexuality. You can’t just throw out the law.
They’ll say: “Jesus said just love your neighbor and love God.” Absolutely! But that’s the summation of the law. You don’t know how to love God and your neighbor unless you look to the law to define it. Paul said, “To those who are without law, I became as one who was without law.” (1 Cor. 9:21). He said, “I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law.” The moral mandates of Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation are still binding on all of us.
There is a Proverb that says: “Do not rebuke a fool lest you be like unto him.” Then there is another one right after it that says: “Rebuke a fool in his folly lest he be wise in his own eyes.” So when Christians take Scriptures out of context to try to justify or to vindicate retreat and cowardice, I say to them: “Wait a minute. The Bible says that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but it also says, the Lord is a Man of war. He’s the King of kings. He’s the Lord of lords.”
We need to be like the early Church of whom it was said: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.” They weren’t greeted by the Chamber of Commerce and a key to the city. They were greeted with conflict, controversy and sometimes a beating and a key to the jail. So if we want to be like the early Church, we are going to have to be involved in conflict and controversy. My observation is that a lot of Christian leaders want to run from the three “C’s” of conflict , controversy and confrontation in order to embrace the three “C’s” of comfort, cowardice and compromise.
In America’s history, those who are self-conscious enemies of Christianity have often used the banner of Christianity or Christian words or phrases: “Mercy, kindness, brotherly love, Christian duty.” They’ve used it when they suited them, but my observation has been that they mean something else when they say: “Mercy, kindness, brotherly love, Christian duty.” Now it’s come to the point where you have people saying it’s our Christian duty to embrace the homosexual movement. And this, of course, is absurd because a Christianity that is in conflict with the Scriptures isn’t Christianity at all. So we as Christians must remember, the Scriptures are the first and last word on what Christianity is, what Christianity does, what Christianity believes, and what we as Christians have a duty to do. If it squares with the Scripture, then let’s go. If it’s in conflict with the Scripture, then it’s heresy.
Question:— Was the New Testament Church really a “New Testament” Church as we think of it today? In what ways was their situation different from ours?
Randall Terry: It’s kind of fun to listen to Christians who say: “Well, I’m a New Testament Christian.” First of all, what other kind of Christian is there? But second of all, the early Church had nothing but the Old Testament. The New Testament lies hidden in the Old; the Old Testament lies open in the New. For us to think we can enjoy, understand and practice the Christian religion with just Matthew to Revelation is foolishness. Paul said: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be complete thoroughly furnished for all good works.” If someone doesn’t know their Old Testament, they don’t know right doctrine, right correction and they can’t be equipped for good works.
Imagine Timothy getting a letter from Paul (2 Timothy) and he reads: “All scripture is given is given by inspiration of God.” Then Timothy sets this letter down. What does he have on his desk? A pocket New Testament? No! He had Genesis to Malachi. When Paul wrote that, he was speaking about the Old Testament.
There have been a lot of times when people have come up to me and said, “Where’s that in red letters, brother Terry?” speaking of course of the words of Jesus. To which I say: “The words of Jesus start with Genesis 1:1 and go all the way through the book of Revelation. Jesus is the Word made flesh. Don’t bring this false dichotomy that the words of Jesus are only the ones recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and maybe 2 Corinthians. This is silliness. The words of Christ, the words of God, are found in the whole Bible. If you want to understand Jesus, if you want to know Jesus, you have to study the whole Bible. Christian duty is not defined solely by the words in red. Christian duty is defined by Genesis to Revelation.
Jesus himself said: “Don’t think I’ve come to destroy the law. I’ve come to fulfill it.” He said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but not one jot or tittle of the law will pass away.” In fact, Jesus said something very interesting. “Anyone who teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. But someone who says you don’t have to obey the commandments will be the least in the kingdom of heaven.” I think that Jesus was actually prophesying about the debate and the problem that His Church would have about the Law of God. He didn’t say that if you attack the Law of God, you are not saved or you are not a Christian. He just said you are going to be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.
Question:— Can we really legislate the biblical standards of morality on non-Christians? The non-Christian doesn’t even believe in the Bible, so how can we even talk about building a society based on the Law of God?
Randall Terry: To the Christian who doesn’t understand the application of the Law of God in today’s culture, I would ask this question: “Is homosexual behavior wrong?” If the answer is yes, “Why is it wrong?” Only the moral absolutes of the Scriptures can make homosexual behavior wrong. This is why some of our friends in the so-called Christian Right have cornered themselves on the homosexual issue. “Let’s just have family values. Let’s have traditional values.” Whose tradition? Sodom and Gomorrah’s? — Whose family values? John and Bill’s?
If you do not adhere to the Law of God as being the only legitimate source of right and wrong that is unchanging, absolute, transcendent, given to us by God, then ultimately, you cave in on the homosexual issue, because “these are two consenting adults who say that they love each other .” “It’s a free country, etc.” This is why so many Christian leaders have been so tepid or downright silent on the advance of the homosexual agenda: recruiting our children, propagandizing our schools, homosexual rights, and now homosexual marriage. If the Christian community does not return to its roots of loving the Law of God, it’s going to be steam rolled and not just by the homosexual movement. God only knows what is right on the heels of that.
As the Church has abandoned the Law of God it has also abandoned the courage — even the militancy — that is required of us. (After all, scholars call this the Church militant. The Church triumphant is in heaven). So we as the Church militant have been sitting on our hands for forty years. What has that gotten us? They legalized pornography — We did nothing. They drove prayer and the Bible out of government schools — We looked the other way. They legalized the killing of innocent children — We did nothing. They started to give homosexuals special rights — We’ve kind of wrung our hands a little bit, but still have done nothing. If we continue to do nothing, we are going to be overrun. We are going to be, as Christ said, the salt that has lost its savor, and be thrown out into the street to be trampled underfoot of men. What kind of America do people want to leave for their children. What horrors are down the road, stuff that was unthinkable thirty years ago, stuff that is unthinkable today? What horrors await down the road if we don’t stand and fight?
There are Christians who say that we cannot deal with the cultural-political issue facing us based upon the Law of God. They give a bunch of reasons. Some are PR reasons: “It makes us look bad. It makes us look narrow.” Some are ideological reasons: “Well, these people don’t believe in the law of God so we can’t quote it to them.” “Oh no, I don’t believe in dominion!” To all of those I say: “Wait a minute, stop.” The language of Scripture is the language of God. God spoke to us in His Word. If we think we can improve upon the Law of God, if we think we can be wittier than the Law of God, if we think we can be more clever and get people to go along with us, then this is just a surrender of the Christian religion to the enemy. We cannot surrender the premise of there being a God who is Sovereign, the Rule-maker, and the Law-giver and then expect to prevail on the field of battle. He who frames the question wins the debate. If we don’t believe in moral absolutes and then we get into a cultural-political debate, how are we going to win? They say: “I feel this.” We say: “Well, we feel this!” It’s feeling against feeling. It’s who can be the most clever, who can take the best poll. My feelings aren’t really that relevant. God’s feelings are. God’s Law is.
Question:— What about the “establishment of religion” clause in the U.S. Constitution? Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution forbid the display of religion in the civil sphere?
Randall Terry: It’s interesting. The enemies of Christianity, the Biblephobes, the Christophobes, say: “The Christians are so dangerous! They’re trying to take over the country!” What do they have against us? That we are pro-life. That we are against homosexual marriage. Other than that, what do we want? We want people to control their own home, their children’s education, their retirement funds. The statists on the other hand, who believe that the state is the messiah and the lawgiver, want to tell you what to do with your children, your retirement money. They want to tell you that you have to pay a property tax to live in your home or they’ll take your home away from you. They want to tell you what to do with your business. They want to force you to be the government’s tax collector. And on and on. The tyranny we are enduring today is not from Christians. It’s from those who believe that the state is our savior, because for the state to be our savior, it also must be our master and lord.
I believe that the hour is upon us when we must stand now in the public square in government according to the principles of the Law of God. People look at how bad things are around us and things are bad, but it’s also an opportunity, because what we are seeing is the collapse of humanism. We are seeing the chaos of that worldview. If we would just step onto the playing field, we could win because we have solutions that are tried and true. Their solutions are all failures. They have a house of cards and the house is on fire. So let’s stand for what is right. Let’s use the opportunities that are before us to stand for the Law of God, to stand for Christ. I believe that if we will do it that God himself will honor our efforts and America can be restored. America can be free again.
Question:— Were the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution drafted to uphold the moral laws of God — or were they Deistic humanist documents? If they were Christian documents, where have we gone so far off track?
Randall Terry: I believe that America is locked in a life or death struggle that is a battle of allegiances. It’s a covenantal battle. On one hand you have those who self-consciously adhere to the Law of God and believe that’s the foundation of civilization. And on the other hand you have those who don’t. But the way I see history and the way I see the Scriptures is once you depart from the Ten Commandments as being the foundation of right and wrong, you are in a free fall. Make it up as you go — the Supreme Court, a majority vote, the biggest gun, whatever you can pull off by trickery or the latest poll.
Once you depart from the Ten Commandments, you have relativism, humanism, the abandonment of absolutes. You have anything. How long before child pornography is mainstream? How long before we have, not just homosexual marriage, but homosexual unions between adult men and small boys? If the Law of God is not true, then people might say: “I think that’s disgusting.” But they can’t say: “It’s wrong.” And then the argument can be used: “How dare you impose your morality on that homosexual man and that boy who want to have this relationship — or on that child who is a willing participant in child pornography.” Anything goes. You have this sliding scale into the muck and mire and literally into the jaws of hell. That is where we are headed if we don’t return to the old paths, the ancient paths, to the Law of God.
George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern in this world without God and the Bible.” He didn’t say the Koran, the words of Confucius, or the babblings of ancient philosophers. He understood that it was the Bible, the place where God’s records of right and wrong are kept. Today, when we speak of pluralism we are saying that all ideas are created equal, all religions are equal, all moral codes are equal. The Founders knew nothing of this. They would have thought that that would lead to chaos. Obviously they were right.
King George III referred to the American Revolution as the “Parson’s Rebellion.” Many of those parsons were survivors from Scotland, of the oppressions of the English against the Scots, who had fled to America. These were die-hard Presbyterians who believed in the Law of God and the Reformed religion. They believed in the sovereignty of God and the depravity of man. They understood why we have law.
The enemies of the Christian religion and the Law of God confuse law with faith. They accuse us of using the mechanisms of government to make everyone a Christian. That is simply not true. Faith in Christ is between the individual and God. The Law dictates people’s behavior. The reason why we have laws against theft is because God said: “You shall not steal.” The reason why we have laws against murder is because God said: “You shall not murder.” We do not want to use the mechanisms of government to create a Christian republic based upon personal faith. We do want there to be a self-conscious recognition that the Law of God, which God gave Moses on Mount Sinai, undergirds this republic and all of civilization.
Question:— What about the idea that the government should be neutral and should recognize that we live in a democratic, pluralistic society?
Randall Terry: This whole topic of the Law of God begs the question: “What is the duty of the Christian?” Is it my duty simply to evangelize? Or is my duty to be a light in every arena, every power base? Moreover, is it my duty to take the Crown Rights of King Jesus, as His ambassador, into education, government, the arts and media? Because if my duty does involve heralding His law in every arena, then the Church in America is failing radically today.
If God is sovereign, if His law is true, then it is impossible for civil government to be neutral on issues of law. All law is based in some religious code. Jesus said, “Either you are for Me, or you are against Me.” That would certainly apply to kings and princes. If the Christians who were alive in the 1770s behaved and believed like the Christians of today, there wouldn’t be an America as we know it. Those Christians understood that it was part of their religious duty to resist tyranny, to fight for justice, to apply the law of God to cultural and political issues. We make up theological excuses as to why we shouldn’t get involved. It’s interesting to note that all revolutionary literature was written by pastors. These guys weren’t just political activists., they were involved in a revolution against the mightiest power that the world had ever seen. That was the kind of theology that undergirded, motivated and animated them. Would to God that we could have a revival of that kind of religion in America today.
Question:— In a Christian republic based on biblical law, would non-Christian religions be banned or would they have as much freedom as they have now?
Randall Terry: People who reject the Law of God cannot bear to be consistent with their own lawless world. They’ll say, “The seventh commandment, ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ — that’s not binding for today.” But they don’t want someone sleeping with their spouse. They don’t want someone stealing their car. They don’t want somebody usurping their parent’s authority. So it’s funny that they mock us, but in a world without the law of God, you have chaos, oppression tyranny and everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. And they cannot bear consistency with that chaotic world. It terrifies them. If they were to be successful in eradicating the Law of God and the mores of Christian civilization, what would they have? They would have the collapse of their whole world. Just go to a country that doesn’t have the Ten Commandments as its foundation. Go to a chaotic Hindu nation, some of the African nations, or a Muslim nation. Look at the oppression, the tyranny, the chaos. Do they want that? It’s the Law of God that gave the stability to Christian civilization that they enjoy while they mock us.
When the Planned Parenthood types and People For the American Way folks say all great world religions are basically the same, I want to laugh. Go to Haiti where witchcraft is one of the dominant religions. Go to a voodoo hut and look at the little skulls of little children. Go to India and talk to some of the women who used to be child prostitutes in Hindu Temples. Or maybe go see a widow tied to her husbands funeral pyre against her will and burned to death. This is the fruit of a non-Christian religion. Or go to the Mohammedan countries and look at the oppression of women there.
Where would you rather be a Buddhist? In Tibet or in America? — Where would you rather be a Hindu? Downtown Madras or America? — Where would you rather be a woman Muslim? In Tehran or in America?
The umbrage of Christian freedom because of the Founder’s love for the Law of God gives more liberties, freedoms, rights and protections to Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims than countries based upon their own religion.
For those who would say: “Go to Holland. They have euthanasia, legalized drugs, homosexual rights.” I would say: “Go to Holland.” Look at that country. Look at the venereal disease, the suicide rate among kids, the lives destroyed by drugs. Look at the women whose lives have been destroyed on street after street of legalized prostitution. That is a country that is debauched and is dying. If people want America to become like Holland, my advice to them would be: “Go to Holland.”
Question:— But wouldn’t a Christian Republic run according to God’s Law become oppressive to non-Christians?
Randall Terry: It’s been said: “Either a man will be governed by the Ten Commandments or he’ll be governed by the ten thousand commandments.” The growth of the bureaucracy in America and all these bizarre laws that govern so many aspects of our lives has come because our culture and government has rejected the Law of God and has become a law unto themselves. They are pretenders to the throne of God. They don’t have Ten Commandments, the have ten thousand commandments.
It’s interesting to note that most of the Ten Commandments are negative: “You shall not …” That is generally the purpose of law. It’s to proscribe evil behavior. The purpose of law is not to mandate good behavior. That concept comes from the French Revolution. “Equality, Liberty, Fraternity … or Death! You’re going to be good. You’re going to give money to other people. You’re going to help other people. Or if not, we’ll kill you or put you in prison.” Much of American law today is the direct opposite of the Ten Commandments. The government forces you to give your money to things you don’t believe in; to have your money go to projects that might be inherently immoral.
Look at the Old Testament and the freedom that it gave. Look at American law today having departed from much of its Christian roots and you have these constant intrusions into our lives. They are forcing us to be good. “You will give your money to this program.” — “You will give your money to that program.” — “You will do this.” — “You will do that.” It’s more like the French Revolution than Christian liberty. The end result is that we become the servile subjects of the great savior state, the divine state, who tells us everything we have to do in our businesses, and our families, and even what pastors can and can’t preach from the church pulpit. This is not freedom.
Question:— What can Christians begin to do from a practical standpoint to begin to rebuild our nation according to the standard of the Law of God? What would a Christian America look like?
Randall Terry: I’ve traveled all over the country for years speaking in churches, teaching the Ten Commandments, and quizzing entire congregations: “How many of you know the Ten Commandments?” I tell them to get out a pen and paper and write them down. It’s amazing if two percent of any congregation knows the Ten Commandments. If we say we want to rebuild the country on the Ten Commandments, that’s a good thing. But if we don’t know the blueprint, how are we going to build? Would you trust a carpenter to come into your house if he didn’t know how to read blueprints and didn’t know how to build? That’s absurd!
So I’m urging Christians first by asking them point blank: “Do you know the Ten Commandments?” Can you say them in order? Can you identify them by number? Question number two is: “Are you obeying the Scripture that commands you: ‘Teach your children these commandments’?” When I realized that I didn’t know the Ten Commandments a few years ago, I was embarrassed. Then I learned them. Then I taught them to my children.
Learning the Ten Commandments is a great starting point. Once you’ve learned them, begin to meditate on them. Think of the implications. What are the cultural and political implications of the fifth commandment, “Honor your father and your mother”? The French Revolution and our government says that every child is a child of the state. Wait a minute! That is a direct assault on the fifth commandment. The eighth commandment says: “You shall not steal.” That means I can’t take a candy bar out of the grocery store. But that means that the government doesn’t have the right to take more from us than God himself. God only requires ten percent of the faithful. For the government to take anything over 9.9 percent is tyranny and theft. It’s a violation of the eighth commandment.
So the challenge before us is not just to memorize the Ten Commandments, but to have a comprehensive worldview that is based upon those commandments. When you do, frankly it’s pretty exciting because you see how the Law of God reaches into every area of life. And it brings about incredible blessing and incredible freedom.
The beauty of the Law of God in the Christian religion is that it is the schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. It’s that portion of God’s word that convicts us of our sin. It’s that portion of God’s word that helps to equip us to do the work of the ministry. But even higher than that, the words of Jesus himself: “Go into all the world and make disciples of the nations. Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you.”
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