Since the death of our founder, R. J. Rushdoony (“Rush”), Chalcedon has rallied around its central thesis, Faith for All of Life. These five words present the primary idea that we seek to establish: that the Christian faith should not be isolated to issues of the heart, but is to be comprehensively applied to every area of life and thought. Rush approved of the phrase Faith for All of Life, as a helpful encapsulation of Chalcedon’s message.
Applying the faith in every area of life was Rush’s calling, and our stewardship by virtue of inheritance. What was given to us in Rush’s works must be converted to bricks and mortar for the rebuilding of Christian civilization. Like Nehemiah, we labor with both “hammer and sword,” knowing that unbelievers will still resist our building of the city of God, and we must be ever ready to offer a reasoned defense.
But Rush was not alone in his passion for the comprehensive gospel of the Kingdom. Many other voices also labored with great success in awakening Christians to their social responsibilities. Yet still, for decades the majority of mainstream Christendom was too occupied with personal piety and church growth to play any major role in Christ’s social agenda. Hopefully, the widening political and religious divisions in America will help to kindle a revival of Christian Reconstruction.
Crisis and the Awakening Church
Due in part to the media-saturated persecution of former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, more Christians are understanding the seriousness of longtime assaults from anti-Christian circles. Judge Moore’s stand for the law of God as the basis of our constitutional republic helped to rally Christians who had previously disengaged from the cultural battle. For many, Judge Moore’s dismissal was the proverbial straw to break the camel’s back.
For nearly a decade, many local churches were more concerned with starting a conversation with the urbanized postmodern population than discussing the Biblical approach to social theory. With rock bands, plasma screens, coffee bars, and casual clothing these seeker-friendly churches hoped to better engage today’s uninformed unbeliever while leaving the cultural battlefield to the onslaught of comprehensive humanism.
But when groups like the ACLU worked to remove Judge Moore from his position and to closet his monument bearing the Ten Commandments, Christians grew angry. The public became aware of the ACLU’s long-standing secular agenda as cable news focused on the organization’s efforts to remove other Christian icons, such as nativity scenes, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a minute “cross” from the Seal of the City of Los Angeles.
The cultural crisis only increased with the flagrant civil disobedience of officials in California and Massachusetts, both which allowed gays to marry by the self-appointed “clergy” of local government leaders and rogue judges. Such aggressive efforts by contemporary secularists are forcing many mainstream Christians to reconsider their social responsibilities.
These perplexed believers now need better solutions to our moral crisis than The Prayer of Jabez. Christians are learning that this conflict is a war of worldviews, and cannot be resisted with the mooring of fundamentalism or the limited weapons of witnessing, revivalism, and church-growth techniques.
More and more evangelical leaders are emphasizing the need for a Christian world and life view, and are encouraging their communities to engage the cultural conflict. A brief review of these popular voices demonstrates just how extensive was the influence of R.J. Rushdoony on many of these leaders. However, such crucial elements as the binding authority of God’s law and the dominion mandate are often left out of the contemporary discussion, leaving only a piecemeal worldview that is insufficient to win the cultural war.
It’s Not Fully Christian Without the Law
A cursory glance at the evangelical landscape reveals a church in transition. Many popular promoters of the Christian worldview have produced readable books that make the academic case for cultural reclamation. For example, David Noebel, Chuck Colson, Nancy Pearcey, and George Barna are reaching new audiences with worldview-based literature that attempts to redefine Christian responsibility.
While we do rejoice in this awakening, and join with these faithful Christians in working to reclaim the culture for Christ, we must also highlight that there is an essential piece missing in this popular Christian-cultural view. It is simply impossible to advance the kingdom of God effectively if we fail to recognize the binding standard of God’s law, and this is something most evangelicals seem hesitant to do.
In Nancy Pearcey’s newest release, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Pearcey essentially spells out the thesis of Christian Reconstruction but neglects a clear discussion of God’s law as the foundation to the Christian worldview. For instance, this large, well-documented volume contains no index listings for “law,” “covenant,” “commandment,” or “Decalogue.” Instead, there are appeals to “Scriptural principles” and a curious avoidance of the Mosaic case laws. Dr. Gary North sums up the problem with this type of approach:
It does not matter how many times a person assures us that he is in favor of Christian civilization and opposed to the humanistic myth of neutrality. If he does not affirm the continuing validity of the biblical case laws, his affirmation in favor of Christian civilization is in vain, intellectually speaking. At some point, his denial of the continuing moral and judicial authority of God’s revealed law will logically force him to affirm some form of natural law theory or common ground reasoning, i.e., the myth of neutrality.1
A similar neglect of God’s law is apparent in a developing movement within the conservative branch of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). A new initiative, Empowering Kingdom Growth, is the SBC’s attempt at encouraging its constituency to embrace a Kingdom perspective:
Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) is an initiative designed to call individual Southern Baptists to renew their passion for the Lord Jesus and the reign of His kingdom in their hearts, families, and churches from which God can forge a spiritual movement marked by holy living, sacrificial service, and global witness.2
No doubt the Southern Baptists sincerely wish to expand the Kingdom of God and are rightly compelled to work toward that goal. However, the “EKG” initiative shows that they are having difficulty moving beyond their long-standing emphases on local churches, personal piety, and missions. The reign of Jesus Christ is comprehensive, comprising more than merely the heart and the church, and can only be truly expanded by the faithful application of God’s law.
We rejoice that mainline denominations are reconsidering their tactics to confront the culture more effectively. And best of all, the cultural battle provides a marvelous opportunity for ministries like Chalcedon to help provide the intellectual resources for growth in understanding how God’s law is necessary to the Christian worldview.
Because at Chalcedon we make every effort to equip Christians better to apply the Christian world and life view, we have decided to change the name of the Chalcedon Report to Faith for All of Life. Not many in mainstream Christianity have ever heard the word “ Chalcedon” and therefore may not care to read a “Report” about it. By placing more emphasis upon Faith for All of Life, we are better able to communicate our entire philosophy in a way that will resonate with the growing emphasis upon worldview studies.
Although we want to be more effective in how we equip the saints for Kingdom work, our thesis remains the same. We will continue the work of R. J. Rushdoony by educating our Christian brethren in the tenets of Christian Reconstruction. Rush did us a favor by outlining these goals in his last volume on Biblical law:
I have tried, over the years, to do four interconnected things. First, to honor and to further the presuppositionalist philosophy of religion of Dr. Cornelius Van Til. Second, to further a return to a Christian education as against the prevailing statist and humanist philosophies and practices on all levels of education. Third, I have sought to recall men to the law-word of God. So much of the Bible, including the prophets and the historical books, is given to this that it seems strange that one could see dispensing with most of the Bible as valid! But there is a fourth one, namely, to set forth, systematically and Biblically, theology, the Biblical perspective for all of life and thought. We cannot limit Christian theology to church life without denying it.3
The current cultural climate has afforded a great opportunity for an awakening to Christian Reconstruction. Our prayer is that the Lord will bless us with new opportunities to reach a wider audience, and that those who bear the responsibility to publish and promote the ideas of giants like Cornelius Van Til and R. J. Rushdoony will seize every moment to do so. We also seek to honor those faithful laborers who have helped create the original public awareness of Christian Reconstruction. Men such as Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, Ken Gentry, and Gary DeMar, along with many others, have provided us a sufficient platform from which to re-launch this holy enterprise.
Do you share our thesis, Faith for All of Life? Then join Chalcedon in our effort to reach a wider audience with the uncompromising gospel of the Kingdom. Tell others about this magazine, our web site, and our catalog of books and tapes. You are in a unique position to reach so many in your circle of influence who might otherwise never hear our vital message.
1. Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, Texas: The Institute for Christian Economics, 1989),175.
2. “Empowering Kingdom Growth,” 2004, http://www.empoweringkingdomgrowth.net/ekgcat.asp?cat=about
3. R.J. Rushdoony, The Intent of the Law, Vol. 3 of The Institutes of Biblical Law (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1999) p.ix.
- Christopher J. Ortiz
Christopher J. Ortiz is a freelance writer and independent communications specialist servicing churches, ministries, and publishers.