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.
- Mark R. Rushdoony
Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.
He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.
In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at www.chalcedon.edu.
He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.
Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.