Will the Biblical principles of Christian Reconstruction work in the 21st century? Yes! and No!
Yes, they will work because they are true. They are drawn from the eternal and all-sufficient Word of God and therefore are applicable in every age and culture, even in 21st century America — but not without God’s help.
What is Christian Reconstruction? Although the label may be new (and we are not arguing for labels), the presuppositions, worldview, theology, ethics, strategy and motive of Christian Reconstruction are as old as the Bible. Christian Reconstruction is neither new nor extreme; rather it is rooted in historical Christianity in general and in the Protestant Reformation in particular.1
Extremism is in the eye of the beholder; and the religion and worldview of the Bible have always been considered extreme by those who do not believe them. Some Christians have, in ignorance, stood with the critics of Christian Reconstruction because they were not aware that this transdenominational and transcultural movement is part of their own heritage as Christians.
The Creation Mandate
Christian Reconstruction is faithfulness to the Creation Mandate of Genesis 1:28 and to the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, which involves person-winning (evangelism and discipleship), family-winning (church planting and Christian education), and culture-winning (world missions, world evangelization, and Christian reconstruction of human societies). This mandate and commission comprise a unity. They must not be set over against each other. The Great Commission is Christ’s restatement of the Creation Mandate taking into consideration fallen man’s need for redemption. We must be committed to nothing less than making the world’s nations Christ’s disciples.
Christian Reconstruction is the work of rebuilding and renewing every idea, activity, relationship, motive and institution of human existence by the Word and Spirit of God, beginning with the human heart. “Our motivation is Christ’s Person. Our basis is Christ’s work. Our power is Christ’s Spirit. Our pattern is Christ’s humanity. Our protection is Christ’s Father. Our governing authority is Christ’s deity. Our strategy is Christ’s Word. Our hope is Christ’s victory. Our mandate is Christ’s law. Our food is Christ’s sacraments. Our aim is Christ’s glory.”2
Christian Reconstructionists try to think, live, relate, witness, and influence others consistently with the foundational principles of the Bible. First, the triune God of the Bible is the one, true, and living God, the Creator of the universe, beside whom there is no other (Is. 45:21). Second, the Bible is the inerrant and self-authenticating revelation of the character and will of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). It is life-wide and comprehensive in its divine authority to which all human beings are accountable (Ps. 119:128).
Third, humankind, untouched by God’s saving grace, is fallen and in rebellion against God, which rebellion is punished in history and in eternity by God (Rom. 1-2). Fourth, fallen man’s only hope of salvation from sin and judgment, now and in eternity, is in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ac. 4:12).
Fifth, faith in Christ, repentance of sin, and obedience to God’s law are God’s appointed ways by which people and nations may escape the wrath and curse of God for their sins (Jn. 3:16; Ac. 17:30; Jn. 15:14). Faith, repentance and obedience are totalitarian, demanding all a person is and has (Rom. 12:1-2). They require a complete renewal of the mind, bringing every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). As the saved people of God, He calls us to declare His lordship and to serve Him faithfully in every area of life (Rom. 10:9).
Sixth, the only alternative to the law and gospel of the Bible is death, slavery, chaos, and ignorance (Rom. 6:23). Nations or individuals that live in revolt against God and His law are perverted and suicidal (Pr. 8:36). Seventh, God has promised victory for Christ’s kingdom in history over all opposition by means of the Word and Spirit of God (1 Cor. 15:24-25). That victory is the goal toward which we work and pray.
At no juncture in human history will these revealed truths ever be proven false. God’s Word will never be broken — it is always relevant, comprehensive, normative, and final in its authority. Unbelieving people and societies will, by their disobedience, break themselves upon it.
As part of Christ’s church, His representatives in this world, we are to declare these truths to the nations, refuting their religious commitments and calling them to unconditional surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ as the world’s only hope for peace. Then, we must show them from the Bible how that peace, personally and nationally, can be obtained. Isaiah 2:3 makes this point:
And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways, And that we may walk in His paths,
For the law will go forth from Zion, And the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
These foundational principles of Christian Reconstruction will work in the 21st century.
Why Christian Reconstruction Will Not Work
On the other hand, the Biblical principles of Christian Reconstruction will not work in the 21st century if the people we are trying to reach remain unconvinced or unconvicted. What Robert L. Dabney said about freedom and constitutional republicanism in an increasingly apostate America in the 19th century, we can say also about the Biblical principles of Christian Reconstruction in apostate America in the 21st century: “[C]onditions of human society have grown up, which make the system of our free forefathers obviously impracticable…. And this is so, not because the old forms were not good enough for this day, but because they were too good for it.”3
It is for this reason that Christian Reconstruction will not work in 21st century America without the regenerative work of the Spirit of God transforming people’s hearts, minds, and lives on a massive scale. Effective Christian Reconstruction follows regeneration. It never precedes it.
King Joash ruled Judah by God’s law (2 Chr. 23:16-21; 24:4-14). He worked hard to reform the church and society, to conform their lives and practices to the Word of God. He endeavored to bring legal reconstruction to Judah, in contrast to the revolution that King Ahab was bringing about in Israel. But because Joash’s character was weak and the people of Judah were still divided and idolatrous, the attempted reformation failed. Joash himself experienced moral decline. His courageous and principled administration became pragmatic, compromising, and cowardly (vv. 24:15-22). Since the hearts of the people had not changed, no lasting, in-depth reconstruction of the nation took place. The judgment of God fell on king and nation (vv. 24:23-27). As the prophet Zechariah boldly declared to the nation: “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He has also forsaken you’” (v. 24:20).
Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit changing the hearts of politicians and people from disobedience to obedience to God’s law and submission to the supremacy of His lordship, lasting, in-depth political, social, economic, moral change in a nation is impossible.
The Holy Spirit regenerates people in connection with the preaching and teaching of the Word of God; and the evidence of regeneration is obedience to revealed truth.
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your soul for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God…And this is the word which was preached to you. (1 Pet. 1:22-23, 25)
So then, it is with faith in the triumphant Christ and in the trustworthiness of His Word, that we go forward with Christian Reconstruction, depending upon the Holy Spirit to draw people to Christ. We know that someday in God’s providence, as His Word goes forth with power, Isaiah’s prophecies will come true:
And they shall hammer their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war. (Is. 2:4)
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise To spring up before all the nations. (Is. 61:11)
1. See Martin Bucer’s book, De Regno Christi which is Vol. 15 of his Opera Latina, available at amazon.com.
2. Reprinted from a pamphlet introducing the RPCUSA. For more information, contact Stated Clerk, Rev. Jeff Black, [email protected]
3. R.L. Dabney, Discussions, Vol. IV (Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications, 1994), 5.