Despite thousands of pages proving the contrary, critics of Christian Reconstruction persist in misinterpreting the goals of Biblical dominion. For them, “political takeover” is the one and only item on the Reconstructionist To-Do list.
This confusion regarding the goals of ministries like Chalcedon is unfortunately amplified by the national polarizing America has experienced since the year 2000. Programs like the faith-based initiatives and the massive evangelical support for certain federal judges spells t-h-e-o-c-r-a-c-y to the mainstream secularist. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times began her March 24th op-ed piece with this shrill: “Oh, my God, we really are in a theocracy.”1
Perceptive readers will note her contradictory use of “Oh, my God” in a sentence addressing theocracy. Is she calling on God to stop His kingly rule, or is she simply violating the third commandment (Ex. 20:7)? No matter. In her mind a theocracy is defined as political rule by a religious elite. I guess she’s never read Rushdoony:
Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had.2
A theocracy, Rushdoony argues, “is not a government by the state.”3 This is the core misunderstanding; since secularists themselves are statists, they presume Biblical dominionism is a takeover of the state.
Reconstructionism’s critics often cite a portion of a sentence from David Chilton’s Paradise Restored, “Our goal is world dominion under Christ’s lordship, a ‘world takeover’ if you will.” This snippet sends chills up the spine of the secularist who fears Chilton’s desire is presently fulfilled by the political aggression of the Religious Right. But a brief look at the “context” reveals an entirely different meaning. Chilton begins:
Paul does not begin his work of reconstruction by fomenting a social revolution. Nor does he begin by seeking political office. He begins with the Church, and will move out to bring the rest of the world under Christ’s dominion “once the Church’s obedience is complete.” The center of Christian reconstruction is the Church. The River of Life does not flow out from the doors of the chambers of Congresses and Parliaments… Our goal is world dominion under Christ’s lordship, a “world takeover” if you will; but our strategy begins with the reformation and reconstruction of the Church.4
Reconstruction does not begin with the state — its starts with God’s people. Maureen Dowd can rest assured that America is far from a theocracy. But a real threat to a free society does still exist. And the painful truth is that the church is playing a significant role in propping up that threat.
In Rushdoony’s Christianity and the State, the chapter entitled “The Theology of Fascism” argues that, “a social order is a reflection of the life of a people and their faith.” Rushdoony demonstrates that with national socialism — a form of syncretism — two opposing faiths are blended in an unholy alliance.
Men were practical atheists while practicing churchmen. They defended the free market while seeking socialistic subsidies. They championed freedom while asking for a benevolent slavery. They wanted socialism with freedom, religion without the responsibilities of faith, and private property with all the imagined benefits of socialism. The meaning of such a desire is fascism. (p. 55)
Christian leaders seem satisfied to have the state accept their moral issues while never questioning the state’s evolving totalitarianism. This is an unholy syncretism. The prophetic church should declare that all authority in heaven and earth is given to Christ, not the state (Mt. 28:17).
Having an evangelical in the White House is not necessarily a victory. Since September of 2001, personal freedom has declined, deficits are at record levels, federal authority has increased, and the nation faces perpetual war. By supporting such statist control, the church has sold her birthright for a lobbyist’s pottage. We, as the church, cannot be silent regarding statism: we are to be prophets, not lobbyists!
A fascist state does not “confront” the religious sector of society. It prefers to absorb it. The Religious Right must be careful about its friendship with the state. The state will not bow to the church. It is not a theocracy, therefore, that looms on the horizon — it is totalitarianism. And the church is propping it up.
1. Maureen Dowd, “DeLay, Deny, and Demagogue,” www.nytimes.com, March 24, 2005.
2. R. J. Rushdoony, The Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991), 63.
3. Ibid., 68.
4. David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Tyler, TX: Dominion Press, 1985), 214.