Recovering from the Political Hangover of the Religious Right

By Christopher J. Ortiz
September 01, 2006

Our world is in desperate need of Christian action. It is equally in need of a redefinition of Christian action. After nearly thirty years of the Religious Right, the secularist sees political activism as the sole meaning of “Christian action.” This political organization, now labeled as “dominionism,” is somewhat at fault for misconstruing Christian responsibility both within and without the Christian community. This has also provided the secular left with a useful “boogeyman” as myriads of Internet-based fear technicians prop up a “Christian Goliath” at which to sling stones.

The realm of the political is addictive to both sides. They can’t get enough of it. Despite the old warning to avoid all discussions of religion and politics, the contemporary debates are laden with both ingredients. Now the world itself is becoming quite versed in a false interpretation of Christian action. Now any Christian action, whether political or not, is perceived as “dominionist,” and therefore a reason for social concern.

This would include something as simple as homeschooling your child, which is now seen as a move to bankrupt the public school system and train young Christian children in militant, and potentially violent, Christian activism. This is not a good thing. The Apostle Paul instructs us to “do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14–15).

This does not mean a Christian cannot engage in civil or political service. By all means, dedicated Christians must seek to apply their faith to every sphere, but the priority should be placed on conduct and less on political organization. We must not allow “faithfulness” to be defined as merely lobbying for Christian legislation on gay marriage, prayer in schools, and abortion. This is not the primary meaning of Christian action—or, should I say, Christian responsibility.

Our first order is faithfulness to God’s covenant and law within the spheres of self-government, family, church, education, and vocation. The view of the state within Christian Reconstruction is the Biblical model of a reduced magistrate responsible primarily for justice and defense. By focusing upon the welfare of our families, and the larger Christian community, we are showing ourselves straight in a crooked nation and pure among a perverse people. Our duty is to shine as lights in the world, not only as lights in Washington.

Our emphasis must shift because we are failing in the fundamentals. Putting politics before family, education, and welfare will only fortify the animosity towards Christianity and weaken the foundations of our faith. However, certain branches within the conservative Christian community are determined to commit all of their resources to political activism. The Apostle Paul writes, “[S]tudy to be quiet, and to do your own business” (1 Thess. 4:11). The wisdom here is that the Kingdom can grow very well in the quietness of faithfulness.

In my opinion, Christian Reconstruction has been weakened by the overemphasis upon the political. A careful reading of R. J. Rushdoony teaches us that humanism seeks its godhood in the state while the church prophetically seeks to inform the state of its limited role under God. Some of us, however, could not resist the temptation to push the agenda of the Kingdom through the conduit of the state. For this we are now perceived as religious power brokers, and less as the faithful servants of our Lord.

Christian duty must never be attached to a particular political party. Granted, our voice must be heard at the political level, but it should not be identified with politics. It is simply a matter of emphasis—let us not neglect the weightier matters of daily faithfulness by only organizing politically. “Taking dominion” is misconstrued when it’s portrayed as the Christian seizure of civil power. We are rather “taking back” dominion from the state by self-government and Christian responsibility.

Topics: Statism, R. J. Rushdoony, Culture , Government, Dominion, Epistles, The, Church, The, Christian Reconstruction

Christopher J. Ortiz

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

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