Chalcedon and the Study of Last Things

By Christopher J. Ortiz
July 01, 2005

Jack Trout, the guru of corporate branding, once wrote, “Real motivation starts with the weapon of a differentiating idea.”1 In the “era of killer competition,” as he refers to it, market leadership is the result of differentiating the position of an idea. Distinction creates clarity, and clarity attracts advocates who can, as Habakkuk said, run with the vision(Hab. 2:2).

R. J. Rushdoony never studied the principles of corporate branding, but he provided you and me with a clear and distinct vision for the cultivation of Christian civilization. He illustrated the glorious picture of the triumphant Christ and the active role of His royal priesthood subduing all spheres to His kingly rule. But this thesis is not mere optimism. Optimism, the covenant faithfulness of God’s people, and the efficacious instrument of God’s law together would usher in the triumphant age.

The differentiating factor of Christian Reconstruction is that it rests upon the enduring standard of God’s law. While other paradigms espouse the optimism of the Biblical world and life view, there is a curious absence of any exposition of Biblical law. This is a gross misconception and one that must be remedied — but it’s not the only delusion. What else is cultural victory but God blessing a faithful people who adhere to His commandments?

The Doctrine of First Things

In his inspiring monograph on postmillennialism, R. J. Rushdoony wrote: “Eschatology, the doctrine of last things, is also the doctrine of first things because it is concerned with the goal of history. Of necessity, goals determine present-day action.”2

This concept contradicts the widely held view that any study of eschatology is an exercise in irrelevance. The doctrinally befuddled stumble because the study of last things is reduced to guesswork on how and when history will end — not on how history is to be transformed. This is why Chalcedon continues to press the issue of theonomic postmillennialism.3 We want to motivate believers to obedience now with the allure of a victorious future. “We are not motivated to action unless we know the purpose for our action.”4 In other words, if we know our destination in advance, we can do a much better job of getting there.

It is here that we must work for change. We should reorient our thinking to place greater emphasis upon individual hearkening to God’s law as well as the application of it to our spheres of influence. So much of life is lived “in the meantime” that our tendency is to downplay the importance of routine obedience because we’re oblivious to its long-term implications. Only a pronounced doctrine of the future will make noble our “everydays.”

Eschatology and Salvation

Another reason for the neglect of eschatology is the perception that “saving souls” is the central objective of God’s eternal decree. Therefore, much time, effort, and expense is spent on evangelistic outreach and equipping. Without demeaning contemporary evangelism, Rushdoony sought to lift our vision higher to the comprehensive Kingdom of God:

[I]f in terms of Matthew 6:33, we believe that the Kingdom of God and His righteousness or justice must have priority in our lives, then we will not have a self-centered view of salvation. Our personal salvation is not the focus and goal of the Gospel but simply the starting point. The goal is God’s Kingdom, His purpose for humanity and the world.5

At Chalcedon, we see this point as imperative in our dialogue with mainstream Christianity. The widespread belief of a soon-coming end of the world and the idea that our only concern should be our personal salvation are the two most devastating hindrances to building Christian civilization. When millions of Christians simply wash their hands of contemporary culture, we only delay the day of genuine societal transformation.

The Eschatology of Victory

We took the title of this issue from the book Eschatology of Victory by J. Marcellus Kik. This dynamic little volume was edited and titled by the late R. J. Rushdoony, and he considered it the best title he ever gave a book. Postmillennialism is the eschatology of victory. That’s why it’s grown in popularity in the last four decades. Despite the deluge of “last days” literature, there is a growing number of perceptive believers who will not accept that the church is destined to lose in history. Our desire is to spread the net even wider to gather a greater number of Christians who will embrace the victorious gospel and the accompanying social responsibilities.

No other doctrine has been more central to my personal transformation than eschatological optimism! I long for the day when this view will be the norm in every church and home.

1. Jack Trout, Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000), 70.

2. Rousas John Rushdoony, God’s Plan for Victory: The Meaning of Postmillennialism (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon Foundation, 1997), 3.

3. “Theonomic,” meaning “God’s law,” is being linked to “postmillennialism” to demonstrate that the victorious advance of God’s rule in history is contingent upon the obedience of His people.

4. Ibid., 3.

5. Ibid., 3.

Topics: Christian Reconstruction, Church, The, Dispensationalism, Church History, Eschatology, Gospels, The, Dominion, Culture , R. J. Rushdoony, Theology, Reformed Thought, Biblical Law

Christopher J. Ortiz

Christopher J. Ortiz is a freelance writer and independent communications specialist servicing churches, ministries, and publishers.

More by Christopher J. Ortiz