My father spoke a great deal about law and began the modern theonomy movement with the publication of The Institutes of Biblical Law in 1973. He also held to the continuing validity of the dominion mandate. These and other aspects of his theology led to the ideas conveyed by the term “Christian Reconstruction.”
The ideas of law and dominion, when combined with the activity implied in the term “reconstruction,” led his early critics to fear his vision was that of a top-down, authoritarian regime of churchmen. Those who actually read my father knew otherwise, but this was the way his thinking was branded in the marketplace of ideas. That idea was in large part answered, not by our representatives, but by secular historian Michael J. Vicar’s 2015 work titled Christian Reconstruction: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservativism.
The paranoia of the left was at its height in the second Bush’s presidency. The weakening religious right in the ensuing years has diminished its obsession with us as well. What is encouraging at this point is that Chalcedon weathered the storm and remains faithful to its original purpose of educating thoughtful Christians in their Kingdom duties.
I have often said that theonomy and Christian Reconstruction, though potent theologies, have at this point been largely relegated to discussions within the church. Encouragingly, these discussions are becoming more common. We are not about to take over any government, and neither is the religious right. The battlefield ahead is one of faith and ideas, which must be developed in individuals, families, churches, businesses, and institutions. We must grow our alternative to secular humanism until we have the ethics and mechanics of a righteous social and economic order formulated and tested. The most progress has taken place in the institutional family and specifically the family’s role in education. More such pioneering work lies ahead.
The religious right thinks politically, works for short-term goals (election cycles), and incorporates a top-down model. Our strategy is one of a bottom-up, multi-generational faithfulness that will produce long-term blessings.
Many share our commitment to the long-term Kingdom vision of godly dominion. The victory is ours in Jesus Christ, even if we cannot always see it on the road we now travel.