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JCR Vol. 02 No. 02: Symposium on Biblical Law

As a result, the break-down in secular legal structures throughout the world—a legal crisis which is becoming increasingly obvious to voters, politicians, and humanistic scholars—has not brought with it a cry for the restoration of biblical law, the only alternative which has any possibility of survival in the long run.

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R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
  • John W. Robbins,
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  • Charles E. Rice
  • Frederic N. Andre
  • T. Robert Ingram
  • Greg L. Bahnsen
  • Gary North
  • Edward M. Davis
  • Edward Powell
  • Mitchell C. Lynch
  • Paul A. Doepke
  • John Cotton
  • Diana Lynn Walzel
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This ghastly but of theological nonsense indicates the nature of the crisis of our age. It is an era of disintegration, and the agencies that should be in the forefront of Christian reconstruction–seminaries, churches, colleges–have no idea that there is a need for reconstruction. If they did, they wouldn’t know where to begin. And if they knew where to begin, they would drive off the road within a mile. They have no roadmap, for the roadmap of reconstruction is provided by biblical law.

Biblical law is a topic which has not been discussed seriously in this century. Liberal theologians may study it in detail–often more carefully than the conservatives–only to conclude that these laws were simply late compilations of an oral tradition of an obscure Middle Eastern tribe. (Why a man would devote his life to a study of such documents is a mystery.) Conservative theologians have almost universally ignored the topic, dismissing it as not being germane to “the church’s dispensation,” or simply playing a conservative version of the antiquarian game–a game which liberals have mastered far better. An implicit antinomianism has engulfed the modern denominations, and it has led to the social impotence of the churches and the political impotence of Christians.

The result of this antinomianism has been a century of secular fads that have been baptized by the church’s intellectuals. The latest secular program (within liberal churches), or a decade-old failure (among the neo-evangelicals), is promoted by clerics and professors in name of “Christian relevance.” The church’s leaders occasionally take time off from mapping Sunday school bus strategies in order to march at the tail end of the cultural parade, banging a worn-out bass drum, hoping that their congregations will straggle along behind. But the congregations are seldom interested. The liberals are too busy golfing, the neo-evangelicals are too busy attending Wheaton College class reunions, and the fundamentalists are too busy attending prophecy conferences and gospel quartet festivals.

The requirements of the cultural mandate are rigorous (Gen. 1:28; 9:1-7). Consequently, contemporary Christians have done their best to deny the existence of that mandate. The subduing of the earth is either dismissed as not morally binding in this, “the church’s dispensation,” or else weakened by those who warn that its terms cannot be fulfilled within the limits of an internalized kingdom of psychological victory. The two necessary features of a successful program of Christian reconstruction are, first, eschatological optimism concerning the possibility of reconstruction, and second, a system of revealed law to serve as the intellectual took of reconstruction. Optimism provides the dynamic, and biblical law provides the guidelines.

Neither eschatological optimism nor a commitment to a case-law concept of Old Testament law is a part of the creeds or operating manuals of any Protestant denomination today. The denominations are therefore universally negligent concerning their duty to preach the whole counsel of God. Only the cults proclaim a somewhat relevant, though garbled, version of a developed kingdom of God. After all, the Mormons run the state of Utah. Could fundamentalists run Scranton?

The philosophy of law and the legal structure of built-in terms of the philosophy are at the very heart of a culture. The disintegration of law and law enforcement today is a worldwide phenomenon precisely because the prevailing religion of the modern world, humanism, is decaying. No legal system can survive without a strong religious foundation. The latest issue of The Journal of Reconstruction surveys both the collages and alternatives to this collapse. The only effective answer to something bad is something else which is superior.

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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  • Frederic N. Andre
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  • Greg L. Bahnsen

Greg L. Bahnsen, (1948-1995), was an ordained minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and a full time Scholar in Residence for the Southern California Center for Christian Studies where he taught Apologetics from a distinctly Reformed perspective. 

Bahnsen was a pillar of the Christian Reconstruction movement begun by Rousas John Rushdoony and wrote and spoke frequently for Chalcedon in the 1970’s. Bahnsen was a leading proponent of theonomy, postmillennialism, and presuppositional apologetics. His 1985 debate with atheist scholar, the late Gordon Stein, was dubbed The Great Debate, and remains a classic as well as a benchmark in Christian apologetics.

His early death came as a result of complications following his third heart surgery in December of 1995.

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  • Gary North

Dr. Gary North (1942-2022), served as the editor of the Journal of Christian Reconstruction from 1974-81. He is the noted author of scores of articles and over thirty books on economics and history. He served as editor for and The Tea Party Economist and was the Director of Curriculum Development for the Ron Paul Curriculum.

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  • Mitchell C. Lynch
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  • Diana Lynn Walzel
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