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What Is Christian Reconstruction?

Christian Reconstruction provides us a worldview, and it gives us our responsibility in terms of that worldview. Academic knowledge only takes us so far, and academic understanding of a worldview doesn’t necessarily produce answers. Christian Reconstruction is about godly action in terms of the comprehensive worldview of Christ’s Kingdom.

Mark R. Rushdoony
  • Mark R. Rushdoony,
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I am frequently asked, “What is Christian Reconstruction?” Many people assume that Christian Reconstruction is some sort of an agenda or program, but it’s really a worldview. Christian Reconstruction, as a term, is merely an analogy—it relates the message and responsibility of the Christian as he approaches his culture.

Our culture has problems because it’s based on man’s sinful nature, and we know that rebellion against God in any area of life and thought never works. When men rebel against God, they’re going to have problems. They’re going to fail. And what we’re witnessing around us is a progressing systemic failure in our culture. For the Christian, the alternative to allowing culture to fail is to reconstruct it. It’s to rebuild failing ideas, practices, and institutions on a more solid foundation. It’s to rebuild them on the Word of God.

Where It Begins

Christian Reconstruction begins with ourselves. It begins with rebuilding our thinking and our approach to our responsibility to God, then progressing outwardly to our families and our various spheres of influence, to institutions, and to our communities. At heart, Christian Reconstruction is faithfulness to God. All of Scripture is really about reconstruction because Scripture is about an applied worldview.

After all, Scripture begins with creation, and it ends with a picture of the eternal kingdom, so Scripture gives us a history of God calling man back to Himself and His perspective—on how man is living in the context in which God has placed him. If we look at the beginning of Scripture, in Genesis, the first chapter ends with God’s decree to man to have dominion over the creation under him, and this decree never changed throughout Biblical history.

God’s Law Because of God’s Authority

As Christian Reconstructionists, we talk about theonomy, and without getting into the details of theonomy immediately, the literal meaning is the law of God. Why do we talk about the law of God? It’s because we believe in the creator God, and if you believe that God is the creator, His Word must prevail; it must be authoritative. If He is truly the Creator, then He is authoritative in every area of life.

This perspective places man under God, and man exercises dominion under God, but how does man exercise dominion? He doesn’t do it on his own, in terms of his own thinking or his own opinions, because that’s repeating the sin of Genesis 3:5, to be as gods, knowing good and evil for yourself. Man’s first sin was the desire to do what he wanted to do, to act as God.

When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28, He declared that He possessed all power in heaven and earth, and that’s the reason why we’re to go out and preach and teach all things as subject to Him. This is further confirmation that the dominion decree remained in force from Genesis to the time of Christ and continues today in the Great Commission.

The Sovereignty of God

This highlights the importance of our redemption, because redemption involves our becoming a new creature in Christ where the old man is put aside, and we become new creatures (cf., Eph. 5:22; 2 Cor. 5:17), but we only do that through submitting ourselves. We can’t perfectly undo the curse in our lives, but we have to accept our new role as new creatures in Christ. The only way we can self consciously do that is by obeying what God says.

Therefore, Christian Reconstruction is a self-conscious application of a Biblical worldview to our day to day responsibilities as well as our message to the culture around us. It’s in this context of all power and authority belonging to the incarnate Christ that we preach and teach. We teach a worldview that says that we are not God; we don’t determine right and wrong. If we are truly subject to God, this is what we believe and this is how we act.

Humanism, on the other hand, eliminates God from the equation, and whenever you eliminate God from the creation, man becomes the highest being. Therefore, the contrast is always between theonomy, God’s Word and God’s law as authoritative, or man’s word, man’s law being authoritative in humanism. Christian Reconstruction begins with a view of God as sovereign and man as fallen, and the sovereignty of God is central to Christian life and thought.

Dualistic Pietism

There are other perspectives on the Christian faith which have worked contrary to this perspective of the sovereignty of God, and one of them is a dualistic pietism. Dualism is a very ancient idea that defines all of reality in a very different way than Christianity. Dualism describes the world in metaphysical terms saying there’s a physical aspect to reality, and there’s a spiritual aspect to reality, and this is the ultimate distinction. It therefore tends to see the world—what is physical—as evil, or bad, and that which is spiritual—or that which is in the realm of the idea—as the better, higher way. This is a metaphysical view of reality.

However, Scripture does not say that matter is bad. In fact, it specifically says that matter was created by God and declared very good (Gen. 1:31). Man’s problem, according to Scripture, is not metaphysical—it’s not matter versus spirit—it’s a moral problem. It’s not the fact that he’s earthly. It’s not the fact that he is mortal. It’s not the fact that he’s a physical being. Man’s problem is that he’s a rebel against God which means his problem is a moral one—one of sin. To counteract sin in man, God has given us His law, which provides us His guidance for how we should act in the world.

The world is not evil. The world itself was created good, and you overcome the sin in the world by obedience to God. Therefore, if you disabuse yourself of this dualistic view of reality, you’ll awaken to the responsibility you have to God in the world in your day to day activities.

In addition, man is a physical creature both now and in eternity. We are told that in the resurrection, man will be physically resurrected from the dead. He will then be given a new physical body. In all of eternity, we will be physical beings, although glorified. Being physical, therefore, is not our problem.  Sin is our problem. The answer, therefore, to sin is a self conscious obedience to what God commands.

Coining the Term

Adam rebelled and disobeyed God, and as we become new creatures in Christ, our responsibility is to self-consciously obey Him.  My father, R. J. Rushdoony, coined the term Christian Reconstruction in 1965, shortly after he started the Chalcedon Foundation. In his first letter to his small band of supporters, he compared their sacrificial support of him to those who sponsored artists during the Renaissance. In that letter, he used the term Christian Renaissance, but in his second letter, he coined the term Christian Reconstruction.

He said we needed to start over and build on a firm foundation because we were at the end of an era. Humanism is failing, as sin always does, and the answer, he said, is not escapism, but a return to faithfulness because God always rewards faithfulness. Therefore, the only way to escape the judgment of God and the collapse of our culture is to rebuild on a firmer foundation, and this is the essence of Christian Reconstruction.

Christian Reconstruction provides us a worldview, and it gives us our responsibility in terms of that worldview. Academic knowledge only takes us so far, and academic understanding of a worldview doesn’t necessarily produce answers. Christian Reconstruction challenges us to look at the big picture of our lifetime and all of human history in order to better understand our responsibilities.

So, how do we know what our life as new creatures in Christ should look like? How do we transform families and vocations? How do we transform our churches? How do we transform our culture? What is our witness to all of these areas as to what God expects of them? The answer is to be the spiritual people we’re called and enabled to be, but being spiritual isn’t being other worldly. Being spiritual is doing what God expects of us as we’re empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey His law-word (cf., Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:26-27).

Finally, something we should remember is that although Christian Reconstruction sounds like a grandiose agenda, it’s not a program that we have to plan and implement like some political movement. Christian Reconstruction is really about how we’re to think and how we’re to act. God doesn’t demand results from us. God only demands faithfulness. It’s more about responsibility than it is an outcome. In other words, we can plant and water, but it is always God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). Our responsibility is to keep working the ground, and Christian Reconstruction tells us how we are to be faithful in serving God in every area of life and faith.

Mark R. Rushdoony
  • Mark R. Rushdoony

Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.

He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.

In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at His biography of his father will be published later this year (2024).

He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Mark Rushdoony has lived in Vallecito, California, since 1978.  His wife, Darlene, and he have been married since 1976. His youngest son still resides with him. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.

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