Christian Reconstruction in the Post-Communist Czech Republic

By Pavel Bartos
June 01, 2000

If you, as an American reconstructionist, sometimes feel downcast at the prospect of reconstruction in America (and don't tell me that you are such a postmillennial optimist that you are thinking only in long-term Biblical visions at every moment of your life and never ever have to wonder whether this is only your operating intellectual defense against the worldly pessimism of other eschatological and humanistic views), then let me tell you, first, as much as you may admit your occasional doubts (though, perhaps, not openly), you should never succumb to pessimistic temptations that seek to rob you of your precious faith by undermining your world-transforming and divinely realistic eschatological position. Who is going to change the world for better if not self-conscious or subconscious postmillennial reconstructionists? They always have. I know, I know, I have been told that these and similar terms like "theonomy" might sound like "buzz words" to many in the U. S. and that I had better not use them. Similarly, "conservatism" is probably the most profaned word in the Czech Republic thanks to secular libertarians and socialists. The same is true of "Christianity," "church," "God," etc. Would it be better if we did not use these words? I believe that, unless we want to end up using only hand gestures, we should start "de-profaning" these terms.

Second, what should I as one of the very few Czechs (perhaps the only Czech) who is self-consciously professing reconstruction, living in the most secular nation in the world (statistical survey of global religiosity of 1999) think and say in a country where 99.9% of citizens (i.e., including the 0.75% of professing Christians) believe that the State is the source of legitimacy and law - having the right to "recognize" churches, thus giving them a right to legally exist; where, in short, statism is the most widespread religion. Yes, the Czech Republic is probably the most statist nation in the world. I doubt you could find such a strong religious unity anywhere in the world, except, perhaps, in Islamic countries (although many times I feel we would be better off with Allah than with the State as our god). On top of it, I am a founding member of the only Calvinistic church in the Czech Republic. This is not a boast, but a sigh of sadness and frustration because of the present condition of Czech Protestantism. Even to an educated Christian ear in the Czech Republic, the word "Calvin" sounds like a call back to the "Dark Ages" and "witch-hunt and burning of heretics." To educated nonbelievers, Calvinism, at best, means "strict moralism" (i.e., that of moralistic running dogs, henchmen) or the threat of an "ecclesiocracy." However the majority of citizens in the Czech Republic have never heard of Calvin, let alone covenants or theonomy, and they consider political conservatism an attempt to revive "medieval monarchy" and "inquisition." On the other hand, it is hard to explain to them the difference after three hundred years of Austrio-Hungarian re-catholization.

Conservatism is generally understood by both churchmen and the common non-Christian as an opposite extreme to communism. Why? In part because of political ignorance, but mostly because of an inability to cope with freedom. Those stricken with envy and slavish socialistic minds can hardly understand freedom and face it with courage, hard work, and faith. Who could charge me with skeptical unbelief if I questioned the prospect of reconstruction, Christian cultural transformation, or even Christian political conservatism in such a country as Czechland?

In spite of this, I believe in the success of Christian cultural transformation and Christian political conservatism so strongly that you may as well put me in the category of those diehard postmillennial optimists whom I tried to challenge above. Actually, I believe that our Czech Hellenistic pagans and statists, both in the government and on the broad plane of citizenry, will embrace Christ as Lord and then embrace Christian culture and Christian social order. They will probably not call it "reconstruction" or "reformation," but "transformation"- a term used now in the Czech Republic.

The present transformation, led by libertarians, humanists, and socialists will go bankrupt sooner or later. The transformation will then proceed with a Christian leadership. Easy, isn't it? Not exactly. It will take decades before the church is sufficiently awakened from its pietistic lethargy and liberalism, and citizens from ignorance and unbelief. But, in Czechland, we may have an advantage. The Roman Catholic social order failed in our country. Communism failed. Socialism failed. Secular libertarianism and socialistic democratism failed and are evidently failing more day by day. And the people seem to know it (definitely as taxpayers - the total tax burden is 68% and sales tax 23%, etc.), at least subconsciously. You can hear historians, politicians, and even journalists openly saying that democracy is not the magic formula for freedom that we thought. So, what next? Back to totalitarianism? No? Then why not a Christian government, or at least a government that is somewhat Christian? Some government officials are not reluctant to consider these suggestions, provided they see that such proposals do not downplay personal and political freedom, free market economy, morality, etc.

Let me quote from a personal letter to me from the Vice-Chairman of Parliament (dated December 22, 1999): "Your Civic Papers are, without any doubt, a deep contribution to the general transformation of our society. Hereby I would want to express my deep encouragement to you and kindly ask you to send me all other issues . . . With deep appreciation. Sincerely, Ivan Langer." I have received similar responses from the Chairman of the Parliament, the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Club of CDP (libertarian Civic Democratic Party). Now, in these newsletters I openly defended a Christian social order, a Christian theonomic legal order, and a version of modern theocracy, in addition to a free market economy under the ethical Lordship of Christ. Nothing less. As almost total Biblical illiterates, these gentlemen could trash such ideas. They would surely not endanger their political positions doing this. Polls would be in their favor, wouldn't they? Yet, something caught their attention. I thought for months considering what form this Biblical message needed to take to catch their attention without hiding anything or compromising. I believe the Lord has enabled me to do this in my newsletters. And He has allowed me to build significant intellectual inroads into our Parliament with my theonomic newsletters.

So, I believe that concepts of Christian cultural reconstruction can be acceptable to an extent even to non-Christians, particularly in a post-Communist country like the Czech Republic, a statist nation - as strange and unpresuppositional as this sounds. And this is certainly only a very little beginning, if one at all. Nevertheless, imagine what could happen if the church woke up, if we had trained Christian leaders, seminars held by mainly Christian reconstructionists in our country, or only if we had just a little more money to spread these Biblical ideas to more than a handful of people?

Doesn't this image uplift your postmillennial beliefs? If so, keep on believing without fear and shame. The Lord will put His enemies under His footstool.


The author would like to express his gratitude to Dr. R. J. Rushdoony for his profound contribution to the cause of Christ and intellectual propagation of the Word of God in His church and around the world as those who seek to apply the Word in all spheres of life study his works and the works of others in Chalcedon as well. I personally thank him and Chalcedon for helping me to be a more ethically self-conscious Christian.

Topics: American History, Biblical Law, Christian Reconstruction, Church, The, Culture , Dispensationalism, Education, Eschatology, Government, R. J. Rushdoony

Pavel Bartos

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