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Interpretation of the Law and the Laws of Interpretation in the Work of Jacques Ellul

Brian Lindsay Connell



According to William Stringfellow, a lawyer and writer closely affiliated with Sojourners, and who was largely responsible for making Ellul’s writings available to American readers, Jacques Ellul is "authentically prophetic".[1] To Os Guiness in his Dust of Death, Ellul is a "critical voice of the seventies".[2] Even a non-Christian such as Theodore Roszak finds in Ellul, "the best theoretical statement on technology,"[3] although too pessimistic.

As regards the critics of Ellul, most seem not so much to criticize his analysis, but his "pessimistic" conclusions. Ellul does not leave much room for Roszak’s future beyond the wasteland, nor for Reich’s "Greening of America", nor any of Toffler’s "Third Wave." The primary reason for the difference is the manner in which Ellul, as opposed to most secular sociologists, sees man as beyond any hope of a self-redemption.

Ellul’s formal training included law and literature. After a doctorate in law, Ellul taught law until fired for his views on the Nazis by the Vichy government. During the war Ellul fought in the French Resistance. The war over, he became involved in politics for a short time before returning to teaching which he continued until his retirement in 1970. As a member of the Reformed Church of France he held a number of significant positions though always retaining an aloofness from the church, especially as regards a "theological position." Ellul has been political activist, church reformer, theologian, historian, sociologist, and law professor. To this he later added youth work, some pastoring, and environmental activism.

Ellul remains today a sociologist of law, a Marxist as regards a dialectic approach to history (albeit having gone far beyond Marx, as we shall see), an existentialist in his approach to meaning and reality (beginning with the individual and not with a system) and, most of all, a committed, though Neo-Orthodox, Christian for whom Jesus Christ is central to all his thinking.

It is the purpose of this essay to examine the manner in which Ellul interprets history and scripture to come to his understanding of the basic problems of mankind and their possible solutions, and to conclude as to the validity of his interpretation.


Since Ellul examines the present age as the sociologist of law and of politics, we will examine his approach. The Oxford English dictionary defines Sociology as "the science or study of the origin, history, and constitution of human society."[4] The study of Sociology began in France and is thought, by some, to have been an intellectual attempt to understand what happened (what went wrong?) After the French Revolution of 1789. It is significant for this study of Ellul how Will and Ariel Durant in the voluminous Story of Civilization see the difference between what happened in America in 1776 and in France in 1789. In her revolution France repudiated the Church as well as the government. America has no need to do so since the Church was not an organ of the State nor vice versa. In the Lessons of History, the Durant’s study of the philosophy of history, they even quote from Joseph Rennan who said, "If rationalism wishes to govern the world without regard to the religious needs of the soul, the experiences of the French Revolution is there to teach us the consequences of such a blunder."[5] Rennan is considered an agnostic, and the Durants are considered much more on the side of humanism than Christianity, and yet the Durants go on to say: "There is no significant example in history before our time, of a society successfully maintaining moral life without the aid of religion."[6] For the most part, Sociology, as a discipline, tends to repudiate any role of a spiritual reality in the workings of society, thus missing the very lesson of its own history. Sociologist (and Christian) David Lyons suggests that sociology presumes "that religion is no more than a response to frustration, anomie or socialization."[7] For Ellul, this is not the case.

Ellul concerns himself with society in general, but more specifically turns much of his study to law and politics. With regard to law, Ellul denies the suggestion that there is "a permanent evolution of law in the sense of progressive refinement."[8] But there is a sense of an evolution in three stages in history much like the three stages postulated by August Comte, for some the Father of Sociology (certainly the father of the term). In his Cours de la Philosophic Positive published between 1830 and 1842 [9], Comte proposed three stages to human progress: the Fictitious (theological), then the Abstract (philosophical) and finally the Positive (scientific). Comte saw this as an upward evolution towards greater things. Man was evolving away from needing gods to becoming his own god. In this regard, seeing the religious tendency in man, Comte designed his own religion with man, not God, at the center: the Humanist religion. Although not accepted at the time, there seems little doubt that modern humanism has placed man in exactly this position. Comte’s system of progress and evolution was personally taught to Herbert Spencer whose work, Study of Sociology, appeared in 1874. Along with Comte, Spencer taught the falsity of supernatural religions, and the inevitability of progress.

But Ellul refuses this "progressive" meaning while adopting Comte’s format. In a typically sociological manner Ellul begins with the proposition that "In its origin law is religious. This is confirmed by almost all sociological findings. Law is the expression of the will of a god; it is formulated by a priest; it is given religious sanction, it is accompanied by magic ritual."[10] Men obey the law because they believe it to be the will of their god.

Ellul goes on to speak of a stage two wherein the law becomes more and more secular and separated from religion. Here the law still originates with the beliefs and traditions of the people and never from the state. Although the state takes over the administration of the law at this stage, it never takes on the role of law-maker. This becomes the stage of Natural Law. Law is "merely the expression of the conscience of the people and of the circumstances in which they live."[11]

Now man steps outside the law and begins to analyze it, considering it an entity separate from himself. This process of analysis and speculation leads to the third stage in which it becomes a "consecrated abstraction;"[12] actually a creation of man, and therefore, the state. Authority is derived not from a god or from tradition but from the sanctions of the state. For Ellul this stage represents the lowest ebb for law and for society, which is about to perish. From Ellul’s historical analysis he believes that many civilizations in the past have come to this stage just before their demise. Presently the United States and indeed, all Western nations have reached this point.

When natural law is rejected, juridical technique is at the disposal of whoever wishes to take advantage of it. This technical stage of law may last for a long time, thanks to a kind of social crystallization, as was the case in the Byzantine Empire. Conversely, it may be utilized by any kind of power in history. When this happens, a definite purpose is ascribed to this intrinsically neutral technique. The technique is manipulated according to new and arbitrary criteria, substituted for the ideas of justice and natural law. This is precisely what we noticed above in the case of Nazism and Communism.. . .

A further consequence of the negation of natural law lies in the fact that law gradually ceases to be observed and respected. All that the average member of a primitive society knows about the law is its religious character. The religious sentiment of this man is the foundation of law, for this sentiment is shared by all members. It is beyond debate. It confers authority on law. In a more advanced society where law has an existence of its own, all that the average member knows about law is a certain sense of justice within him. This sense of justice is again more or less shared by all. It is beyond debate, and the authority of the law is founded on it.. . .

What happens when the law becomes technical and the expression of the raison d’etat? The man who preserves his sense of justice no longer identifies himself with a law of this sort. The affinity between man and law is gone, except for the fact that certain people take advantage of the law. Reason remains, but it transforms law into an object so that it strikes no truly responsive chord in man. The fact that the average human being is no longer either at home in the world of law nor deeply attached to it, has a most serious result. Man no longer sees why he should obey this law. Law is molder according to economic and political necessities and becomes absurd in relation to man. From now on the authority of law rests solely on sanction.. . . Sanction is no longer effective because the man in the street no longer acknowledges it as authentic. It is nothing but an externally imposed constraint to which men unwillingly submit. Significantly enough, whenever natural law weakens, the police system is reinforced and the penalty system is tightened. This is, incidentally, to no avail since the state cannot impose a law against the prevailing sense of justice.. . . The law ceases to be obeyed. Having valued only effectiveness, law becomes wholly ineffective.. . .[13]

Thus Ellul sees law as evolving through stages as did Comte, but differs radically in terms of the meaning of those stages. Ellul and Comte do not agree on the nature of man, nor on evolutionary progress. As Arthur Holmes points out, "Ellul is plainly pessimistic [in contrast to Comte]. He leaves no room for evolutionary optimism, least of all for optimism about the scientific and technological mentalities:.[14]

Peter Berger states[15] that one of the more important themes in sociology is that of "social control." How does a society bring its members into control and keep them there? Sociology considers the mechanisms of social control, and, of course, the oldest and still the major one is the threat of or use of violence. Although the West has the emphasis on voluntary compliance, the truth is that violence is just beneath the surface and is the ultimate foundation of political order. "Even in the politely operated societies of modern democracies," Berger tells us, "the ultimate argument is violence. No state can exist without a police force or its equivalent in armed might."[16] Ellul could not agree more.

Now how does a government Stay in power? By violence, simply by violence. It has to eliminate its enemies, set up new structures; and that, or course, can be done only by violence. And even when the situation seems to be normalized, the government cannot endure except by the repeated exercise of violence. Where is the line between police brutality and brutality exercised by others? Is the difference that the former is legal? But it is common knowledge that laws can be so drawn up as to justify violence.. . . Wherever we turn, we find society riddled with violence. Violence is its natural condition, as Thomas Hobbes saw clearly. The individual, he realized, had to be protected against violence. Starting out from this premise, he came to the conclusion that only an absolute, all-powerful state, itself using violence, could protect the individual against society’s violence.[17]

Granted violence is universal, but also, violence is of the order of Necessity. I do not say violence is a necessity, but rather that a man (or a group) subject to the order of Necessity follows the given trends, be these emotional, structural, sociological, or economic. He ceases to be an independent, initiating agent; he is part of a system in which nothing has weight or meaning; and (this is important) so far as he obeys these inescapable compulsions he is no longer a moral being.[18]

The fact that Ellul sees politics and violence as being of the order of necessity as opposed to another realm or order is a religious (specifically Christian) conclusion which will be dealt with when we look at his biblical hermeneutic. Suffice it to say here that Ellul, is differentiating "orders" goes beyond sociological comment. Sociology, by definition, must deal with this order of reality.

Violence is an important theme for Ellul’s sociological diagnosis of the West. But so is the theme of propaganda. Social control can be engineered. Peter Berger tells us that:

It has been discovered that in group discussions going on over a period of time individuals modify their originally help opinions to conform to the group norm, which corresponds to a kind of arithmetic mean of all the opinions represented in the group.. . . What lies at the bottom of this apparently inevitable pressure towards consensus is probably a profound human desire to be accepted, presumable by whatever group is around to do the accepting. This desire can be manipulated most effectively, as is well know by group therapists, demagogues and other specialists in the field of consensus engineering.. . .

One aspect of social control that ought to be stressed is the fact that is it frequently based on fraudulent claims. . . a conception of social control is incomplete and thus misleading unless this element is taken into account. A little boy can exercise considerable control over his peers by having a big brother who, if need be, can be called upon to beat up any opponents. In the absence of such a brother, however, it is possible to invent one. It will then be a question of the public relations talents of the little boy as to whether he will succeed in translating this invention into an actual control.[19]

Since, according to sociologists, identity is not something "given" but bestowed by society[20], social control by fraud and deceit can be quite effective. Rather than calling this a lie, we call it "disinformation" and rather than calling the perpetrator a liar, he is called "an engineer of consensus."

To this subject Ellul devotes a whole book[21] going into quite some detail. Ellul notes that modern democratic society is based on the beliefs that the citizen can exercise control over the government by his vote, and that the citizen will be informed of what is going on so he can make an informed decision. For Ellul this is a political illusion. With 200 million voters and 200 million opinions, a democracy cannot surely represent them. At the same time, the government must convince the people that their will is being carried out. How else can it be done except by limiting and engineering information on the one hand, and positive shaping or tailoring of public opinion on the other. That is, if the government can first engineer the opinion of the people beforehand, then obviously it can "respond" appropriately as if in concert with the popular will! And in case there are those who dispute that their government could consider such a thing, Ellul relates the following:

A very interesting dispute on this subject was precipitated by the United States in October, 1962, by Arthur Sylvester, assistant secretary of defense (in charge of public affairs at the Pentagon), when he declared that "it is a constant in history that the government has the right to lie in order to save itself. That seems fundamental to me." Sylvester added,

"Information is an instrument of power." In this way information and the manipulation of opinion are integrated. On the one hand, the government places itself outside all ethical norms; on the other, information becomes a weapon. Thus, Mr. Sylvester very neatly espouses Lenin’s theories.[22]

But, if indeed, this is occurring, than what difference is there in reality between the West, and the communist East? Perhaps very little.

To be sure, we are aware of all the differences that may exist between the Soviet state and the American state, the British state, or the French state. There are juridical and constitutional differences, differences of practice and intention. They exist, but are of little consequence compared with the similarities, and particularly the general trend. There are more differences between the American state of 1910 and that of 1960 (despite the constitutional sameness) than between the latter and the Soviet state (despite the constitutional differences).[23]

There are other elements to Ellul’s political illusion, such as the use of (and submission to) technique, and the politicization of all areas of life and some of this will be discussed.

It has been pointed out so far, however, that Ellul follows a sociological framework in outlining Western culture. He is, indeed, interpreting the West as would a sociologist (save for the statistical analysis of samples). Yet he goes beyond the usual sociological framework. He disavows any possibility of seeing a positive progress or evolution and, if anything, sees society as being on the brink of disaster. He refuses the differentiating of illegitimate violence from legitimate force. For Ellul, all force is violence and is of the order of necessity. But what is the origin of the other order that goes beyond the order of necessity? Ellul’s sociology is informed by Scripture, and so his method of interpreting Scripture will become especially important to those who would agree with his vision. But before considering his Scriptural hermeneutic we must first turn to his use of Marx.


As we mentioned in the introduction, Ellul is thought to be overly pessimistic about the future and the redemption of society. It is not as though Ellul never thought of a human struggle for redemption. In fact, before becoming a Christian, Ellul was drawn toward a Marxist view of the world And for the Marxist, the means of redemption was in the hands of a man and was called revolution.

While Ellul was still young and living at home, economic problems resulting from the depression had a deep effect upon him and this turned Ellul (and many other bright young French intellectuals) toward Marx:

I was 18 year old. I discovered a global interpretation of the world, the explanation for this drama of misery and decadence that we had experienced [Das Kapital]. The excellence of Marx’s thinking, in the domain of economic theory, convinced me.[24]

At the same time, Marx was found wanting. Although Ellul did not like the "individual" emphasis of the Church, nevertheless, Marx had virtually nothing to say to personal needs. Between the ages of perhaps 15 and 25 years, Ellul moved from being an agnostic to a Christian. He attributes this movement toward Christ as due to reading the scriptures, especially Romans chapter 8, the reading of which he calls "an awesome experience for me."[25]

Christianity was not an explanation of the world. The social theories of the church were "antiquated" and did not speak to the economic or political realities of the twentieth century[26] while Marxism did speak to these in a direct and accurate manner. Ellul also could not see that the biblical revelation could be in any systematized so as to become able to speak to these issues. And this led to a situation of being committed to two mutually exclusive realities:

I thus remained unable to eliminate Marx, unable to eliminate the biblical revelation, and unable to merge the two. For me, it was impossible to put them together. So I began to be torn between the two, and I have remained so all my life. The development of my thinking can be explained starting with this contradiction.[27]

Although espousing a Marxist political view during and after the second world war, Ellul saw many of his hopes for a new world based on that view dashed. The young Marxists thought that socialism was the first stage of a more fundamental revolution but after the war, this did not take place. No transformation of ways of thinking of or interpersonal relationships emerged.[28]

He had seen what both the Vichy government and the Gestapo had done to the Resistance whenever they caught up with a member. Yet after the war, collaborators were treated by the victors in just the same way. Both Resistance fighter and Collaborator were alike; both were violent. Revolution was no answer, for by it, nothing changed. Furthermore, the failure of the Popular Movement of 1936, of the Personalist Movement, and even of the Spanish civil war demonstrated to Ellul that Revolution was no answer.

All of this formed an accumulation of ruined revolutionary possibilities. After this, I never believed anything could be changed by this route.[29]

This left Ellul with a Marxism that was useful to the interpretation of history, and a Christianity important to the meaning of life for the individual in that history. It left Ellul with a dialectic that

kept him "torn between the two."

Marx taught that the struggle between the exploiting ruling class and the exploited working masses is the basic element in history ("dialectical materialism").. . .It is this practice of interpreting almost all historical events (including such diverse developments as the Protestant Reformation and the American Civil War) in terms of class struggle that gives Marxist history its most distinctive characteristic.[30]

Without classes there is no struggle. Government is always an agent of the ruling class to maintain power over the workers. Man will, once freed from class, move to a new reality of equality in a society that is perfect, free, and without government. In a real sense then, Marxism is another variant of the "cult of progress" we saw in Comte and Spencer. But it is anti-spiritual, and especially anti-Christian denying that God exists and affirming that man’s existence is all there is. It is a dialectic approach to history with the thesis and antithesis being the conflict of opposing economic forces. Marx disagreed with Hegel that the highest reality was the ideal, the absolute (the realm of the geist or spirit). He turned Hegel "on his head" proclaiming that matter was the only reality. Ellul agreed with Marx’s dialectic approach to history but disagreed as to the determinant factor in society of the 20th century ("Marx always maintained that we must study the factor that is determinant at a given moment"[31]), and disagreed as to solutions to the problem.

The determinant factor in the modern setting was neither class struggle nor economics, but the development of Technique. Ellul gives credit to his friend, Bernard Charboneau, for first pointing him in this direction. This study of technique led Ellul to the conclusion that although economic forces were important to the nineteenth century, it was the development of technology that was critical in the twentieth. Marx examined the industrial revolution and found that machines designed to free man ended up enslaving him. The owning class reaped the benefits,not the workers. This owning class, now controlling workers by having them in their factories, increased working hours under terrible conditions thus enriching themselves at the workers’ expense. The system that was to make free, took over and enslaved. Similarly, technology in the twentieth century, intended to free man, similarly enslaves him. Man, who created technology to free himself, ends up working for the system (harder and faster than ever to keep up with his new machines!). But further, there is a spiritual dimension, for Technology becomes Technique.

It is not technology itself which enslaves us, the transfer of the sacred into technology. That is what keeps us from exercising the critical faculty, and from making technology serve human development. It is not the state which enslaves us, not even a centralized police state. It is its sacral transfiguration (as inevitable as that of technology), which makes us direct our worship to this conglomerate of offices.. . .

So the religious, which man in our situation is bound to produce, is the surest agent of his

alienation, of his acceptance of the powers which enslave him, of his adulation of that which deprives him of himself by promising, like all religions everywhere, that this self-deprivation will allow him finally to be more than himself. . .alienation and illusion--that is the modern religious.[32]

Further, man is not free not to sacralize technology. It is inevitable that he should do so in "reconstructing meaning for life" which was lost in disavowing the God of Scripture. A similar theme is found in Ellul’s work on The Meaning of the City, in which the city is seen as a counter-creation of man against the garden of Eden from which man was ejected because of sin. What was made alive (a garden) is counterfeited and created out of dead material (the bricks and mortar of the city) and is then sacralized as man’s achievement apart from God. When this occurs, there is a spiritual transformation that occurs and the city becomes demonic. What was built to serve man then becomes that which enslaves him. Here Ellul agrees with William Stringfellow[33] that apart from relationship with God, man’s works are not neutral, but become invaded by real demonic forces. Further, this newly constructed religion of man, then, is not amoral, but immoral.

Technique never observes the distinction between moral and immoral use. It tends, on the contrary, to create a completely independent technical morality.. . .Not even the moral conviction of the technician would make a difference. At best, they would cease to be good technicians.[34]

If Ellul is correct, this has great significance for the Christian Lawyer--in such a society, in acting morally he can only be a poor technician, that is, a poor lawyer!

Finally, Ellul parts company with Marx in another important way. For Marx, the thesis and antithesis of the economic class struggle ends in a synthesis: a marvelous new utopia where all will be well and the only function of government will be administrative and even this will be voluntary. Not so! says Ellul. (And history bears him out.) Until Christ’s return, there is no hope of a utopia. In fact, the responsibility of man (whether Christian or not) is to maintain the tension of the dialectic. We can product no synthesis, but we can maintain a creative tension that can be of benefit to the world. David Menninger summarizes Ellul’s solutions as follows:

Marx envisioned an end to this dialectic in the objective harmony of communist utopia, where there would be human freedom within the apolitical administration of things. It was his subtle capitulation to the material accomplishments of capitalism albeit a capitulation allowable in the logical context of dialectical materialism. But Ellul can envision no end to this dialectic as a desirable outcome for the human condition. On the plane of human freedom, dialectic is the alternative to the harmonious adjustment of the world of things. Dialectic is the enduring condition of freedom; it is the guarantor of a tension in the life that Ellul believes necessary to avoid the state of death in life actually produced by a total adjustment of everything. In The Political Illusion Ellul explicitly makes this point. The

continuation of a vibrant form of social and political life, not smothered by the blanket of consensus, depends for him on the provision of tension. "To return true reality to the conflict of private life versus public life, to dissipate the political illusion, is to develop and multiply tension.. . .Tension between groups composing the entire society is a condition for life itself, or life susceptible to creation and adaptation in that society. It is the point of departure for all culture."[35]

More specifically, when Ellul speaks of the Church’s mission, it is one of being the watchman of Ezekiel chapter 33 incessantly watching over the legal affairs of society and taking a positive and forceful stand on human rights. It is to judge, rectify, and sometimes openly fight the law of the state.[36]

What we find in Ellul’s writings then, is a Marxist approach to history, but with significant differences. Where Marx found the significant problem in economics and class struggle, Ellul finds it in sacralized Technique which has become demonic and enslaving. And where Marx sought a synthesis, Ellul stops short at "creative tensions." As with his sociological interpretation, Ellul’s variations are based on his interpretation of Scripture to which we now turn.


Carl Jung has suggested that he never met a man over the age of thirty-five whose problem was not, in the end, a spiritual one. Samuel Butler stated that "to be at all is to be religious more or less."[37] It is this spiritual, religious dimension of man for which Ellul turns to Scripture. Marx, as noted (footnote 27), could not speak to this dimension.

The criterion of my thought is the biblical revelation, the content of my thought is the biblical revelation, the point of departure is supplied by the biblical revelation, the method is the dialectic in accordance with which the biblical revelation is given to us, and the purpose is a search for the significance of the biblical revelation concerning ethics.[38]

Ellul was born into a culture which had done a good deal of damage to the Bible. The European (especially German) schools of theology had applied newly developed tools to the analysis of scripture in order, supposedly, to see what was original, and what had been added. Adolph Harnack commented: "How do we gain a basis for a reliable and common knowledge of [Jesus Christ] except through a critical-historical study--in order not to exchange a dreamed-up Christ for the real one?"[39] Following the lead of secular philosophers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant with their antisupernaturalistic presuppositions, they looked at instances of prophecy in the Old Testament and presumed they must have been added later. Slight differences in style and language were used to find "hidden" additions or alterations, and scripture was rewritten. The miracles of Jesus were obviously added by the early church long after Jesus’ crucifixion. Now, it should be mentioned that these attempts to discover the "real" Jesus were

honest attempts to reach truth. But what was not seen was that their methods were culturally dependent upon an antisupernaturalism that itself was culturally dependent. In matter of fact it took until this century until the historical-critical methods were debunked. Often they were debunked by secular scholars who noted that if the same methods were applied to non-religious material, (Plato or Shakespeare), there would be nothing left of them either!

There were three ways to deal with this: 1)decide there is no truth to Christianity, 2)debunk the historical-critical method, or 3)move to a new way of interpreting the material. There is, in fact, a fourth--simply ignore the whole thing which is basically what the fundamentalists did in America partly to their benefit and partly to their detriment.

The Neo-Orthodox school fits into category three. Taking their lead from Christian-existentialist Kierkegaard, Neo-Orthodoxy reinterpreted scripture in an existential-dialectical-spiritual manner that took Christianity not beyond reason, but made belief in it wholly-other than reason. It is existential in the sense of being related to the here-and-now and not to some idealism (basically as opposed to Hegel). It is dialectic in that it deals with paradoxes such as God becoming man; man being entirely sinful and meaningless, yet being loved and therefore being made infinitely important by God et/cetera. And it is spiritual in the sense that one cannot arrive at its truth through reason, but will require a "leap of faith" in Kierkegaard’s terminology. Ellul’s existentialism was not so much a philosophical system, but a principle of beginning with the fallen and sinful individual with all his pain, rather than with an ideal. Ellul’s existentialism then, comes from Kierkegaard and not from Sartre for "Sartre’s philosophy inadvertently joins Hitler’s conception of the law by its refusal of norms and its doctrines of discontinuity."[40] This is a bit of an insult to Sartre, of course, who also fought in the French Resistance. Yet what Ellul is trying to establish is that atheistic existentialism is no answer at all and leads to a moral dead-end.

Of particular importance to our study is that Neo-Orthodoxy did accept the historical-critical view of scripture: the Bible is error-ridden and is not truth in and of itself. But Revelation is not necessarily scripture. For Karl Barth there was the revealed Word of God (Jesus Christ), the written word (Scripture), and the Proclaimed Word of God which comes to us through the Holy Spirit. The Word is what the Spirit tells us from the error-ridden "word." Barth tells us:

The prophets and apostles as such. . .even their function as witnesses, even in their act of writing down their witness, were real, historical men as we are, and therefore sinful in their acting and capable and actually guilty of error in their spoken and written word.[41]

[Finally], not a single verse of the Bible has come down to us with such absolute certainty and clarity that alternative versions cannot be suggested. We are therefore on uncertain ground.[42]

The truth of the Bible comes about as the Spirit of God speaks to man through it. "The Bible is

God’s Word so far as God lets it be His Word."[43] Further, God’s Word is action-in-history, so to speak. It is not what God has done in ages past (the record is faulty, after all) but what God, in his freedom, does now in history that is true revelation. To know God is to discover him acting in history now. Although Christ remains essential, the Jesus of history (the Bible) is not. He cannot be since the story we have is inaccurate.

My cultural setting also gave me the critical method I applied to the Bible, that of not considering the text as inspired in each letter and comma.[44]

As indicated, Ellul was enculturated by the Historical-critical method. This was a problem to him since Scripture really was so important. Barth seemed the answer.

First, I discovered through him a flexible comprehension of scripture. Barth was infinitely less systematic than Calvin, and he was completely existential at a time when this concept did not exist. He put biblical thought in direct contact with actual experience; it wasn’t armchair theology.

And then Barth did something I found phenomenal. Within Protestantism at that time there was a strong trend labeled liberal; it was somewhat similar to the old Catholic modernism. It had a tendency to eliminate from Christianity and theology anything that was not rationally and scientifically acceptable. As for me, I was not at all liberal in the sense that I valued above all else the biblical text, in which everything, including the irrational and the nonscientific, seemed important to me. Still, the criticism of liberals seemed serious to me (especially the historical criticism). Barth went beyond the Orthodox-liberal controversy, and he did it by means of a dialectic, integrating into his theology everything the liberals had discovered and formulated. In particular he reintegrated the myth as a means of comprehending the biblical text. Now, at this time the myth was considered to be equivalent to legend or even fabrication. Myths were stories that should be ignored.. . .This was a significant discovery for me. Finally, it became possible to proceed in the direction of a scientific, historical, exegetical, and critical research, all the while maintaining the completeness of the biblical text. Even better, this research allowed me to be more seriously faithful to Scripture and did not contradict the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This is the first feature that inspired me in Barth’s writings.[45]

David Gill contends that although, like Barth, Ellul separates the written text from the actual word of God, "in almost the same breath, however, he argues that in practice they are virtually equivalent."[46] This is made particularly clear in Ellul’s To Will and To Do which outlines nicely his hermeneutical approach. Ellul, committed to both Marx and Jesus, ends up having to think dialectically trying the mix the immiscible. On the other hand, with nothing but liberals to draw from, Ellul chooses the most closely orthodox teaching which turns out to be that of Barth. While it may seem that Ellul went from Calvin to Barth, hence from inerrancy to Neo-Orthodoxy, it is not so. He understood his Calvinism in essentially Kierkegaardian terms (Schaeffer’s leap to an upper story experience) with faith and reason having little to do with one another. This being the case, Barth may actually have pulled him to a higher regard for scripture which, as he states, he now attributes more to the Holy Spirit and is able to take more seriously. Thus, though never orthodox, Ellul is likely more so now despite appearances to the contrary. Yet there are real difficulties here, for Ellul’s view of scripture allows him to extract no normative law from the Bible.

God’s commandments are no longer imperatives but promises. We should no longer read in the Ten Commandments, "You must do this," but rather, "You will have the possibility of living like this." It is the future tense of Grace; from the moment your life is turned around by grace, you will no longer be able to kill, to steal, to lie.[47]

For Ellul, there are no Ten Commandments now at all, but an interpretation of redemption in spite of them. Scripture is to be interpreted as a directive only for the moment at which it occurred, not for all time. Ellul finds no Christian principles for this present world in scripture.

. . .I no longer think one can derive from the Bible a political or social doctrine that is more true than others. But Christians will have a special courage, a spirit of inventiveness, a lucidity, a radicality, an ability to change, a desire for justice and liberty, all of which come from the Gospel and which no one else can have--if they accept transformation within.[48]

This seems a bit insipid. Surely the Bible offers more? There is a sense in which one can hear the atheistic existentialist on the Left Bank of the Seine telling us, "I can’t help you, but be courageous anyway!" There are two major reasons in Ellul’s theology that do not allow for more from the Bible: his view of man, and his view of God.

Regarding man Ellul has an extreme sense of the depravity and fall of man. Although not denying an imago Dei, he comes as close as he can. This is, unfortunately, a reaction to the progressive optimism regarding man in the nineteenth century. Philosophically Ellul is much closer to Hobbes than to Rousseau. Theologically he is still Calvinistic in terms of man’s potential. So much so, in fact, that man can do absolutely nothing towards his salvation. This leads Ellul to a Universalism to avoid the possibility of being sent to Hell on a whim of God (as he sees Calvinistic double predestination).

On the other hand, there is his sense of God’s utter freedom. If God is truly free, and if Revelation is not proposition, but God’s acting here and now, then how can propositions from the past be God’s will for now, and therefore normative in any way? Van Hook summarizes thus:

Since God is free, his will cannot be codified in a system of law or morality." The divine will can be known only through revelation, but "revelation is an act ever anew which cannot be systematized," and "no general principles can be derived from it." There can be no Christian philosophy, ethics, political party, or system of government. For Ellul, the will of God "never becomes an abstract. . .never becomes a philosophic or moral principle from which we would be free to draw conclusions and which would remain as the origin of Christian reflection or conduct. There are no Christian principles."[49]

This means that Mosaic law, the Sermon on the Mount, and even Paul’s teaching (ostensibly) are not the will or God, but bear witness to it in a typically Neo-Orthodox manner. For neither Barth nor Ellul holds the Bible to be a moral absolute. Revelation is a living thing and cannot be systematized into a static and dead morality.

There are, then, no universal maxims, no unchanging basis in ethics for law. Ellul’s ethic is purely situational and law is relative too. The state does not have to apply the law of Christianity or observe any moral code.. . .An action belongs to a particular situation, and cannot be made universal, systematized or even analyzed logically. One acts in spontaneous freedom out of his own relationship with God.

By now the basics of Ellul’s covenantal view have emerged. If no universal moral ideas exist as foundation for law, if universal goods are unknown, if the Bible does not teach an unchanging morality and is not propositional revelation--in the classic sense of teaching an unchanging and universal truth--then what theological basis remains?

Ellul responds that God still has a purpose in history for human moralities and legal systems, the purpose of preserving the creation he acts to redeem. The purpose of his revelation is redemption; the purpose of history is redemption. It is all summed up in Christ. God’s covenant of grace then adopts what man has made and works with that as he summons men to act in his Kingdom. The presence of that Kingdom calls not for ethical standards or systems or philosophies of law, but for loving action that attests the intercourse of man’s actions with God’s.[50]

Although we do not have space to dwell on Ellul’s answer to this problem, Holmes points to Ellul’s use of covenant as his answer. In Covenant with Adam, Noah, Abraham, and so forth, there come forth common institutions, common laws, and common sense of justice that can be quasi-normative. Yet as one can see, Ellul has left himself no basis upon which to make value judgments at all.

One could say of Ellul that although his heart is in the right place, his scripture is not. To be completely fair, we must note that Ellul is very faithful to scripture. The ongoing Revelation from

God (the Will of God) continues to coincide with Scripture so that the written word and the Living Word are identical for the most part. Ellul also warns that "self-styled revelation of the current day" is subject to verification by the word revealed in the Bible.[51] Without this caveat, how would Ellul know if a claim to revelation was correct?

On the positive side, David Gill[52] finds three major contributions to an evangelical point of view from Ellul’s work. Ellul has affirmed the relevance of the Bible for today; has demonstrated in his exegesis that the Bible is a unity; and has centered all of scripture on the person of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, Ellul has not taken sides. He has attacked both the liberal, critical schools for their idolatry of Technique as it related to the study of Scripture (leading both to error and to miss the forest for the trees), and the fundamentalist-evangelical camp whom he sees, in the inerrancy debate, as caught in bibliolatry when the message of the Scripture is Jesus Christ alone. His attack on the liberal, critical schools of theology reminds Ronald Ray[53] of Kierkegaard’s analogy of the love letter. When one receives a letter from a lover, the only place for interpretive effort is to elucidate the message from the loved one. When one begins to analyze the "technical niceties" of the letter, there is reason to doubt that love remains. Or, as Vernard Eller[54] expresses it, there is a difference between the drama critic’s treatment of the script as opposed to the performance. But it is the performance that is the vital thing in the end. Ellul feels it is not the Bible that needs demythologizing, but the world. We do not have to understand the Bible in its own historical context as much as we now have to free ourselves from our own cultural context to hear the message it proclaims.


In analyzing and criticizing Ellul we must look at two levels of his interpretation. Regarding the first level, is the analysis correct and is his solution viable? And at the second level we have noted that he has used at least three approaches to each of the above: the sociological, the Marxist-historical (with its existentialism), and the biblical approaches. How effective has he been?

From this writer’s point of view it is mostly in his solutions where Ellul falters. In terms of the analysis first, however, one might disagree with his dialectical point of view to begin with. Although dialectic, as a tool, has been around a long time (most see beginnings in the Greek philosophers and Ellul sees it used in the Old Testament and gives the Hebrews credit for its start), it is Hegel who really brought it into such broad use in the modern context. It is a tool only, and not any form of logic per se. Unfortunately many who use this tool tend to use it as if it were the only form of logic rather than a tool to use in logical analysis. Ellul, though he does use it extensively, does not abuse dialectic in this fashion. Dialectic remains a useful framework. Dialectic becomes a hermeneutical tool that helps explain God’s actions in history. God first appropriates something man is culturally familiar with, such as Hittite Suzerainty Treaty rites, then brings about a contradiction in the sense that God’s acts tend to be very different than those of

man (the last shall be first, and so forth), then a third stage of expropriation of that form into his use. At the same time, this synthesis does not always take place and Ellul is satisfied that "creative tension’ is an option until Christ’s return. How do we know that Dialectic is a tool and not a philosophy? From Ellul’s own statements we have seen that he speaks of his use of dialectic methodology openly. Much like a scientist reports his hypothesis, his laboratory method, and his conclusions based on his method, so Ellul announces that he will use the dialectic method on society and the state and then gives his conclusions. This indirectly tells us that this methodology for him represent his experimental tools. When one comes to the study of society with a philosophy, rather than a method, there is usually no allusion to the philosophy. It is self-evident, and therefore needs no justification. Worse still, it may not be obvious to the experimenter that he has used a method at all, in which case the philosophy is presupposition. We do not see this in Ellul.

The second criticism in the realm of analysis is in terms of his view of fallen man. In reaction to the historical-critical school of theology, and to the Enlightenment views of progressive man who is basically good, Ellul swings the pendulum too far in the opposite direction and ends up with a man who can do nothing right. There is little if anything left of any imago Dei in man and this leads him to the necessity of Universalism which he espouses. Since man is so utterly fallen as to be unable to respond to God, and since Ellul cannot accept double predestinarianism, Universalism (false though it is to scripture) becomes essential to rescue God from Ellul’s theological consequences.

I have progressed from a negative radicalism to a more open theology and, I think, a more humane one. During the last fifteen years. I don’t think I’m getting soft, but I am less sectarian. In 1940 and again in 1945, I was theologically intransigent. I thought there was one theological truth. I don’t believe that at all any more. I have developed in the direction of an openness. So the failure of my sociopolitical experiences hasn’t hardened my theology.

I thought that the world is separated from God and therefore evil. I still believe it. But whereas I used to believe that God’s judgment separated the lost, the condemned (to show God’s justice), from others who were saved (to show God’s love), I am now convinced that there is universal salvation, and I firmly believe that human history is leading to the new creation and to the resurrection. Thus nothing is lost. If we fail on earth, we are not damned, it is only a great pity to continue to live badly and in hatred when one could perhaps live better and in friendship. I thus don’t have a more pessimistic attitude than before, and likewise, this series of failures didn’t send me running back to a religious consolation.[55]

This, however, results from a reaction to another false position rather than from a faithful interpretation of scripture.

Moving to conclusions and consequences of Ellul’s view, let us first examine his major solution. We have already seen that Ellul thinks of synthesis as unrealistic. Therefore a creative tension must exist between the state (which desires conformity of opinion in order to function best) and others who can see through the propaganda and who are little affected by Technique.

The hope must be surrendered that constitutional rules, good institutions, or socio-economic changes will modify anything in decisive fashion. The hope must also be abandoned that the citizen will be able to control the state. Politics is a problem of life, and of life without respite. The fundamental error in 1789 was to believe that controls over the state could be found in the state, and that the latter could be a self-regulating mechanism. Experience has shown that the state will retreat only when it meets an insurmountable obstacle. This obstacle can only be man, i.e., citizens organized independently of the state. But once organized, the citizen must possess a truly democratic attitude in order to depolitize and repolitize; this attitude can only be the result of his being freed of his illusions. The crucial change involved focuses not on opinions and vocabulary but on behavior.[56]

Describing these groups a little more fully Ellul goes on to say:

This means that we must try to create positions in which we reject and struggle with the state, not in order to modify some element of the regime or force it to make some decision, but, much more fundamentally, in order to permit the emergence of social, political, intellectual, or artistic bodies, associations, interest groups, or economic or Christian groups totally independent of the state, yet capable of opposing it, able to reject its pressures as well as its controls, and even its gifts. These organizations must be completely independent, not only materially but also intellectually and morally, i.e., able to deny that the nation is the supreme value and that the state is the incarnation of the nation.. . .What is needed is groups capable of denying the state’s right--today accepted by everybody--to mobilize all forces and all energies of the nation for a single aim, such as the grandeur or efficiency of that nation.. . [57]

In his theological works Ellul makes it clear that he considers the Church the major candidate to stand up against the State. But with what tools? We have already noted that his view of the Christian in terms of tools is somewhat lacking (courage, spirit of inventiveness, lucidity, radicality, ability to change, desire for justice and liberty--see note 48). Ellul states that we get these from the Gospel. But what is necessary to fight propaganda is Truth and Ellul cannot offer this because Truth is not propositional.

There are some major consequences to Ellul’s views that come directly as a result of his biblical hermeneutic of Neo-Orthodoxy.

Ellul rejects violence of any form. He rejects capital punishment as violence[58] but what of punishment of any form? Ellul states that the only justice is God’s justice. Man’s is never justice at all, for that which is less than God’s justice is virtually the opposite. But God’s judgment (and justice) are never dissociated from redemption. God never judges without reconciling.

It is God’s personal will which renders justice (Deut. 1:17), and hence pronounces a judgment which is the full measure of this justice. Law, therefore, always appears as an act of God.. . .

Yet we must keep in mind that all we have just said is to be understood within the context of redemption. This is to say that God’s righteousness as manifest in judgment is always centered in the death of Jesus Christ. On the cross the judgment upon the world is definitely pronounced. On the cross the act of God is fully revealed. This judgment is truly the total righteousness of God. We cannot, then, understand law without the cross of Christ at the center.

. . . The ultimate manifestation of God’s justice reveals God’s will to restore. This thought is extremely important for the understanding of justice. When God judges, He does so in order to restore what has been distorted, the relationship between God and man and among men themselves.[59]

This actually precludes any punishment of man by another. Although it is a biblical principle that punishment is meant to reconcile, it is also meant as a meting out of justice per se. Since Ellul may point out that such justice is of the order of necessity we are still left with the uncomfortable position as Christians who are to live at the Kingdom of God level that punishment, and thereby discipline, is not available to us for application to society, or even to our children. In fairness, Ellul does not say any of this, but it does seem to follow from his argument.

Ellul, as we have noted, rejects any biblical concept of binding law or principle. Yet this is simply inadequate to the facts of life. There are natural laws of physics and they are consistent. There do seem to be natural moral laws (as outlined in C.S. Lewis’ essay Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe), and furthermore, in the book of Amos, the prophet rails at the injustices of the nations all around Israel and Judah and pronounces real judgment of God upon them even though they were not party to any revelation. Apart from some knowledge of good and evil, how is this fair? The only answer Ellul can give us is his Universalism by which he gets around this problem. But this ends up being a contrived mechanism to avoid unintended consequences. Even Barth could never quite espouse Universalism, though it does follow from both their arguments.

Ellul’s God, whose freedom to act precludes propositional revelation, is also inadequate to the biblical description. God does not describe himself as being inconsistent in order to be free. This

is an unnecessary concept external to scripture. Further, Ellul denies that there are principles to be followed in scripture since there is no propositional truth to be found there (so that God may remain free). But is this not in itself a principle? For Ellul there is at least one propositional truth, and that is that there is no propositional truth! Ellul makes God so free that he is bound in his freedom. He, though free, cannot choose to limit himself so as to offer a freedom to man--a freedom that allows man to say yes to God, and even a freedom to say no and take upon himself the consequences of eternal separation from God.

The final major defect in Ellul’s position comes from outside the Bible and outside of Ellul’s works. Ellul rejects the results of Marxism and heralds Marx as one of humanity’s "bad men" in spite of using his technique or tools. It is fair to use tools which are neither good nor bad. It is Marx’s use of them that offends humanity. But Neo-Orthodoxy is not a tool like the dialectical method. It is a philosophy and, like Marxism, has consequences. Ellul argues vehemently against the Death of God school of theology. For him it is from the desire to rid oneself of God, and thereby be freed to act violently that the school arises. Thus, for Ellul, the Death of God school is Theology of Violence school. In such a school one finds those who call for discrimination for or against others and must deny a God who loves all men. Here one finds the revolutionary who wants to destroy one class in order to "reconcile" mankind after the revolution. If this is so, we should find only revolutionary "death of God-ders" and this is not so. Michael Novak, a lay catholic who has been associated with the Catholic version of this theology works with the American Enterprise Institute and has written much including The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism--hardly a revolutionary in Ellul’s sense. Ellul goes on to argue:

[M]otivation for getting rid of God is to be found deep in the unconscious. The Christian, eager to participate in public life, chooses to side for or against some group, his choice depending on his own class feelings and political and racial passions; and having taken sides he accepts the propaganda that stigmatizes every opponent as subhuman and an embodiment of evil. But this is an intolerable idea--unless we are no longer the children of one Father, unless the creation story is a mere myth, unless the "vertical relationship" (at once unique, personal and universal) no longer exists. When we all thought of each other as children of the same Father, we knew that war was a terrible evil. Now that God is dead, we can exploit creation to the utmost and defend mankind by killing all the people whose views of what man ought to be differ from ours.. . .

That is why I think it is no accident that this death of God theology grew out of two anterior developments: the discovery that Christians must participate in politics and in public affairs, and the justification of violence. But (and I choose my words carefully) if that is so, then this theology is not really a theology but an ideology. In spite of the impression some death-of-God writers may give, this line of thought is based not on thee Revelation but altogether on philosophical considerations.[60]

Ellul chooses a psychological answer. There is first the desire to do violence, then the necessity for developing a theology, such as the Death of God, that allows it. That is, a psychology that leads to a theology. But perhaps it is Neo-Orthodoxy itself which has led to this theological position. J.W. Montgomery states that:

[T]he God-is-dead movement takes its rise from the consistent appropriation and use of a central theme [the radical transcendence of God as Wholly Other] in Neo-Orthodoxy--the very Neo-Orthodoxy that many Lutheran and Reformed theologians here and abroad are naively embracing today.[61]

Beginning with Barth’s transcendent God (which in itself is again a reaction to historical-criticism with its failed attempt to find the imminent Jesus) Neo-Orthodoxy leads to a God so transcendent that he cannot be found through human thought at all. Although Barth attempted to limit the flow of Neo-Orthodoxy away from scripture, Tillich and Bultmann did not. Their existentialism of beginning with man and moving towards God left them nothing in scripture to which to appeal. The Death-of-God school is their legacy, and the legacy of Barth despite what would be his protestations to the contrary. For Montgomery, it is the damage done to scripture by Neo-Orthodoxy that allows for the theology which may degenerate to violence; that is to say, the theology leads to the psychology. And what begins as a kind of "soft radicalism" (in Montgomery’s words) in such as Vahanian and Cox leads inevitably to the "hard radicalism" of Van Buren and Hamilton. We, therefore, travel back a hundred years to Feuerbach, who learned (through "modern biblical scholarship") to be his own god. What Eve first learned from a serpent in the garden, man learns again from historical & literary criticism, and would learn again from Neo-Orthodoxy.

In conclusion, we have in Ellul’s work, a truly remarkable analysis of modern society. One must give great credit to Ellul for his prophetic and accurate assessment of both the Church and the World into which it is too often engrafted. The Bible tells us to be in but not of the world (John 17). In the past the Church has either been too much of the world, or has defined separateness as having nothing to do with it. Ellul avoids both extremes and represents the Church in a very biblical and helpful manner here. He offers an analysis which we would be unwise to ignore. Gill contends that "it is not necessary to accept each of Ellul’s exegetical or theological conclusions to profit form his work. It is not necessary to be a universalist or a thorough dialectician to follow him in general outline."[62] Regarding his analysis of society and his exegetical works (apart from hermeneutical comments) this is true.

On the other hand, because of a faulty view of scripture due to the faulty hermeneutic of Neo-Orthodoxy, he leaves us with solutions which are insipid and inadequate compared to what scripture give us. More seriously, this hermeneutic leads downhill and away from the Jesus Christ who Ellul knows so well is the center of history and our only contact point for the God who is wholly other yet totally immanent. It is not that Ellul is not committed to scriptural truth, for he is; rather, it is that in Neo-Orthodoxy, there is no safety-net to prevent the quick downhill ride that took such as Bultmann and Tillich away from the Bible, and such as Hamilton and Van Buren to the place of conspiring to assassinate God.

There is great significance here for the Christian jurist, lawyer, or politician. For the Christian, the basis of human rights is not found in natural law, nor in the laws of legal positivism, but in God. The laws of men are to emulate the law of God, and while Ellul agrees with all of this, yet he leaves us without propositional truth. The Spirit of God, through the Bible does give him truth, but how can we be sure? Jim Jones made the same claim, and although Ellul tries to limit the effect of "self-styled modern revelation" by demanding it be in accord with Scripture, one is left asking why? For Scripture, under Ellul’s rules, is not sufficient to this task he has given to it. Ellul finds it impossible for Truth to be both propositional and at the same time, the free acting of God in His own Will in His own Time. Were I Ellul, I would simply consider this another of those dialectical paradoxes with both sides equally true.


[1] J. Ellul, In Season & Out, intro, (1982).

[2] O. Guiness, The Dust of Death, 131 (1973).

[3] Ellul, supra note 1, at intro.

[4] Oxford English Dictionary, (1971).

[5] Will & Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, 50 (1968).

[6] Ibid.

[7] D. Lyon, Christians and Sociology, 10 (1975).

[8] J. Ellul, The Theological Foundation of Law, 17 (1969).

[9] R. Swanstrom, History in the Making, 63 (1978).

[10] Ellul, supra note 8 at 18.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid. 20.

[13] Ibid. 31-35.

[14] A.F. Holmes, A Philosophical Critique of Ellul on Natural Law, in G. Christians & J.M. Van Hook, eds., Jacques Ellul: Interpretive Essays, 231 (1981).

[15] P. Berger, Invitation to Sociology, 68 1963).

[16] Ibid. 69.

[17] J. Ellul, Violence, 85-88 (1969).

[18] Ibid. 91.

[19] Berger, supra note 15, at 72, 73.

[20] Ibid. 99.

[21] J. Ellul Propaganda, 1965).

[22] J. Ellul, The Political Illusion, 72 (1972). Also of interest in connection with disinformation
is Chuck Colson’s book, Kingdoms in Conflict, in which he points out two more modern American examples of this. Colson quotes News Anchor Man Ted Koppel as saying that government officials must be prepared to mislead and even to lie. Later in the book, when Secretary of State George Schultz is questioned about the Reagan disinformation program designed to discredit Mohammar Khadaffi, he apparently quotes Winston Churchill who said, "In times of war, the truth is so precious, it must be attended by a bodyguard of lies." [C. Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, 278-286 (1987)] Colson leaves open, however, the possibility that such lying may, in fact, be the lesser of two evils.

[23] Ibid. 10

[24] Ellul, supra note 1, at 11.

[25] Ellul, supra note 1, at 14.

[26] Ellul, supra note 1, at 15-16.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ellul, supra note 1, at 40.

[29] Ellul, supra note 1, at 56.

[30] Swanstrom, supra note 9, at 68.

[31] Ellul, supra note 1, at 176.

[32] Ellul, The New Demons, 207 (1975).

[33] See Stringfellow’s works, An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, and Conscience & Obedience in which Stringfellow develops the theme of Principalities and Powers (the demonic dimension of man’s political works) based on Ephesians chapter 6.

[34] J. Ellul, The Technological Society, 97 (1964).

[35] D. Menninger, Marx in the Social Thought of Jacques Ellul, in C. Christians & J.M. Van Hook, eds., Jacques Ellul: Interpretive Essays, 24 (1981).

[36] Ellul supra note 8, at 135-137.

[37] From Notebooks, in K. Hamilton, What’s New in Religion, 27 (1968).

[38] J. Ellul, To Will and To Do: An Ethical Research for Christians, 1 (1969).

[39] J.C. Livingston, Modern Christian Thought, 301 (1971).

[40] J. Ellul, supra note 22, at 53.

[41] K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, I, 2, 529, quoted supra note 39, at 332.

[42] K. Barth, Against the Stream, 221, quoted supra note 39, at 332.

[43] K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, I, 1, 123, quoted supra note 39, at 333.

[44] Ellul, supra note 1 at 60.

[45] Ellul, supra note 1 at 78,79.

[46] Gill, Jacques Ellul’s View of Scripture, 25/4 JETS 467-478 (1982).

[47] Ellul, supra note 1 at 80.

[48] Ellul, supra note 1 at 91.

[49] J.M. Van Hook, The Politics of God, and the Politics of Freedom, in G.C. Christians & J.M. Van Hook, eds., Jacques Ellul: Interpretive Essays, 139 (1981) (quoted from To Will and To Do, p. 204).

[50] Holmes, supra note 14 at 236.

[51] Ellul, supra note 38 at 264 quoted in Bill, supra note 44 at 468.

[52] Gill, supra note 46 at 477.

[53] Ray, Jacques Ellul’s Innocent Notes on Hermeneutics, 33 Interpretation, 271 (1979).

[54] Eller, How Jacques Ellul Reads the Bible, 89 Christian Century 1214 (1972).

[55] Ellul, supra note 1 at 58.

[56] Ellul, supra note 22 at 202.

[57] Ibid. 222.

[58] Ellul, supra note 22 at 90, & 203.

[59] Ellul, supra note 8 at 46, 47.

[60] Ellul, supra note 17 at 76, 77.

[61] J.W. Montgomery, The Suicide of Modern Theology, 77 (1970).

[62] Gill, supra note 46 at 478.




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