Two Books that Influenced Gary North’s Thinking

Rushdoony’s 'Institutes of Biblical Law' (1973) and Ray Sutton’s 'That You May Prosper' (1987)

North writes about ‘The Two Most Important Books in My Life‘.


Rushdoony’s thinking was shaped by his commitment to Van Til’s Bible-based defense of the faith. But he did not share Van Til’s Dutch Reformed amillennialism, which teaches that Christians will always be in a defensive minority condition. Rushdoony was a postmillennialist, which had been the common view of American Presbyterianism until after the Civil War. It teaches Christian victory in history before the Second Coming.


It was only with my book on Exodus 20, meaning the Ten Commandments, did the covenant model begin to shake my thinking. I wrote The Sinai Strategy from 1985 to 1986. It reflects the five-point model. But I did not do this self-consciously. I was working with Sutton’s manuscript. I had developed a sense of the model. My book was structured as if I had fully understood Sutton’s model. I didn’t. I structured the Ten Commandments in terms of Sutton’s five-point covenant model: two five-point sections, each with the same five-point order. The first five commandments are priestly; the second five commandments are kingly. That only became clear to me when the book had already been typeset.

Amazingly, I had forgotten to write a Preface. I had included it in the Table of Contents, but I had forgotten to write it. This amazing oversight had not occurred to me until I was proofreading the typeset version in order to index it. So, I wrote it. There, I present the case for the five-point covenant model as the foundation of the Ten Commandments. I discussed this on the first page of the Preface.

Sutton had also missed this aspect of the Ten Commandments.

My life’s work would have been much more difficult and less systematic if I had not worked with Sutton in editing his book. If I had stayed in North Carolina, I do not think I would have made the discovery. If he had not been severely burned, he would not have taken the time off that he used to write his book. I do not think I would have seen that my book on the Ten Commandments was structured in terms of the five-point model. I would not have used the model to write the remaining 28 volumes.

I wrote a short book, God’s Covenants, in 2014. There, I present the five points. My major intellectual work in economics is the second edition of my book, The Covenantal Structure of Christian Economics, which I am indexing now.


Those two books have been fundamental in shaping my approach to interpreting the Bible and also in interpreting biblical economics. I think I am going to be able to leave a legacy that can be used by some bright budding economists around the world to write their own materials and produce their own online lectures. Potentially, Christians in foreign countries are without any kind of instruction in casuistry or in Christian economics. But because of my site’s free PDF editions of my books, intellectual leaders will be able to gain access to the framework that they need to begin to apply Christian economics in their own countries. That is my hope.