AN INTERVIEW WITH PHILLIP VOLLMAN
Conducted by Eric Holmberg
Transcribed and edited by Jay Rogers
Rev. Phillip Vollman, is the senior pastor of Shiloh Christian Church and an instructor at Reformation Bible Institute. He is the Secretary/Treasurer of the AFRC (Association of Free Reformed Churches). He is a board member of the National Reform Association. He is a co-founder of Partners for Family Values, an organization to bring back morality in Lake County, Ohio. Rev. Vollman is involved with Christian street activism ranging from pro-life efforts with Operation Rescue to organizing the picketing of illegal pornography outlets in neighboring Ohio towns. Several of Rev. Vollman's church members have been candidates for political office, such as Joe Slovenic, a candidate for governor of Ohio and U.S. Congress, and Ron Young, who was elected for two consecutive terms as an Ohio state representative. He is married to wife Linda. He has five children: Phillip, Scott, Sarah, Katy, and Daniel.
Question:-- What can Christians begin to do from a practical standpoint to begin to rebuild our nation according to the standard of the Law of God? What would a Christian America look like?
Phil Vollman: We were a church of about 25 families when we decided to make the switch. I stood in my pulpit on a Sunday morning and said, "We are going to become a Christian Reconstructionist church. We are going to embrace the Reformed faith with all the vigor that God gives us." I said to my people, "You followed me when I had no theology. Follow me know as we learn this together." We were your typical evangelical, born-again, Spirit-filled, activist church. Our theology was about a mile wide and an inch deep. We were sincere and that's why God kept us together all those many years and blessed our efforts. But we had reached the point where He was demanding maturity. We had reached the point where we realized that there is no such thing as neutrality. We were finally aware of the fact that you can't beat something with nothing.
In our long odyssey to become epistemologically self-conscious, that Sunday was the jumping off point. We set about to systematically teach the Reformed faith, starting with a virile Calvinism, followed up by an optimistic and victorious postmillennial eschatology. Then I taught for 18 months on the Ten Commandments. We became covenantal in our worldview and then we became Knoxian in our social theory. In other words, we liked the idea that there was greatness in the Great Commission. We liked the idea that the death burial and resurrection of Jesus was enough to accomplish His plan in time and history. We liked the idea that when He said on the cross, "It is finished," that's exactly what He meant. We liked the idea that the Lord's prayer says, "Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We were smart enough to know that in heaven the battle is won. We realized that in heaven there are no wicked, there is no sin, there is no fight up there. The fight is here in time and history where Christians have been called to the kingdom.
Putting all these things together all this new theology started to take form and shape, not only in our hearts where it must begin, but also in our day to day living. And so after five years, we realized we had the wedding of charismatic zeal, but tied to Christian orthodoxy. We believe that finally we have the tool of dominion. When the day comes when the zeal of the charismatic movement which indeed is blessed of God is finally wedded to sound Christian orthodoxy, we are going to see something in the earth, that is going to cause people to look and listen.
I believe we are on the beginning edges of that. My own background speaks of that. No one could ever take us to task for a lack of zeal. But zeal without knowledge is very dangerous. The beginning works are already done. The Christian Reconstructionist authors for the past 25 years -- Chilton, Rushdoony, North, Gentry, Bahnsen -- have written the works. It's up to the pastors now to start reading those materials and breaking it down as God has gifted us with an ability to do. What pour job has to be is to take those fat books and break them down into something that our people can understand. As we do that and combine that with day by day street activity and acts of mercy, God is going to bless local churches like we have never seen before. It's just called the Great Commission.
Question:-- Was the New Testament Church really a "New Testament" Church as we think of it today? In what ways was their situation different from ours?
Phil Vollman: It is interesting to note as you read the book of Acts (That is the romantic book that pastors like to preach from. We go back there all the time preaching out of the book of Acts. We get all pumped up and we preach on the mighty acts that Paul, Silas, Stephen and even the deacons who were used of God to effect mighty miracles) what is instructive for us to remember is this: You don't find the word "love" one time in the book of Acts. You don't find the word "piety" one time in all the 28 chapters of the book of Acts. What you will find is 114 references to words like: "riots," "uproars," "tumults," "sword," "persecution," and "peril."
Now the thinking pastor realizing that, if he is a sincere seeker of truth, will begin to ask himself some questions: "What were they doing that we're not doing?" If we can answer questions like that truthfully, we will realize that what the church did back then was they went everywhere and as they went they preached and unapologetic Gospel of Jesus Christ that went far beyond personal salvation, and my "personal Jesus," and my "fire insurance." They insisted on the Crown Rights of King Jesus. Paul said in Acts 17, "There is another King, one Jesus." That was a political statement.
Knoxian social theory is the idea that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is enough to effect change in the real world where they really kill babies, where they really sodomize our sons, and where they really enact social policy detrimental to our health and well being.
If you hold to a covenantal worldview, you understand that God has established three monopolistic institutions: the family, the church, and the state. They are all distinct and they all have according to God and under God their own spheres of influence. But what we realize now and what we forgot for so many years is that they are all under the same standard. That standard is called the Law-Word of God. It is the responsibility of the church to fulfill its prophetic and Levitical role in time and history. That role consists of teaching the civil magistrate what God has said about ethical moral matters. And it is to be prophetic when the civil magistrate through its incorrigible attitude says, "We will not have that man to reign over us."
If we embrace those things, we realize that we have just declared war in time and history on all those who will not bow the knee to our King the Lord Jesus Christ. We've issued the declaration of war. And if we are smart enough, we realize that there will be a cost to fulfilling this Great Commission.
Question:-- Can we really legislate the biblical standards of morality on non-Christians? The non-Christian doesn't even believe in the Bible, so how can we even talk about building a society based on the Law of God?
Phil Vollman: To pastors I speak as a pastor and I want pastors to hear me. Two things are needed in this hour. Number one, sound orthodoxy is needed. For as one noted theologian has noted recently, "You can't beat something with nothing." If we don't return to a Reformed faith, that is to say, the orthodox historic Reformed faith, we will not have the tools ethically to take dominion in the earth in time and history as Christ Jesus has commanded us to do. There is no arguing that point.
But there is something else that is needed on this hour and I think it is equally important. Pastors need courage. There is a great famine of courage. It will take courage to embrace the historic Reformed orthodox Christian faith. I know this personally. But it will also take courage once we have embraced that faith to apply that faith then in time and history locally in our neighborhoods where we live. When God begins to judge a nation, the first thing he does is begin to give his people a cowardly clergy. I am very fearful today that America is being sanctioned, judged, with cowardly clergy. They are all around us. You look at the clergy today and what do you see? You see politically correct and religiously correct men of the cloth who are afraid to speak the truth for Christ.
What is it costing us? So far there are over 40 million dead babies. Militant homosexuality, militant feminism, militant humanism are running amok in our culture. We have a madman in Michigan named Jack Kevorkian who has right now killed or been responsible for over 86 deaths. There is not one prosecutor in Michigan who will stand up to him. We have two states now with right to die laws. And we have the most wicked, vile president in our history. There is no end in sight.
Now I'm a pastor. I know about fear. I know about loneliness. I know about the loss of reputation. But I am convinced that if we don't see a revival in courage in this nation. If we don't see some men begin to stand up in courage, conviction and Christian principle and stand faithfully in a world of cowardice and compromise, then we are going to deserve everything that is coming our way, we and our children.
The great Russian prophet, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, wrote many prophetic things about his own people and the future of America. When asked, what went wrong in Russia that God would visit upon them the brutality of communism, he only had one thing to say, "Russia forgot God." America has forgotten her God. She's forgotten her God because her shepherds have forgotten her God. This is not rocket science. When the pastors are walking in the fear of God and yet the comfort of the Holy Ghost, when the pastors are teaching sound orthodoxy, when they are wedding that with courage, to the things that they must do, there is victory, there is peace, and there is hope.
If we don't see a raising of the black regiment in this hour. If we don't see a parson's revolution. Well then I would say, America is about to enter a long and a dark period. For as the pastors go so goes the Church. As the Church goes, so goes the nation.
Question:-- How did a Christian philosophy influence our form of civil government? Can it happen again today?
Phil Vollman: Solomon in all of his wisdom said, "Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom. And in all that wisdom, get understanding." He spoke in Proverbs 29:2, "When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice, but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn." It's my observation that America has been mourning in a certain political sense for about 140 years. It's getting worse and worse. Frankly, I'm a little amazed and not a little appalled at how we could have missed this little nugget of truth found in Proverbs 29. "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice." I am now convinced that when we lost our covenantal worldview and Christians began their long, slow retreat back into the Christian ghetto we call our church, the wicked rushed into the vacuum we call politics. No wonder politic became very dirty.
We are working right now, night and day up in Leroy, Ohio at Shiloh Christian Church to arrest that slide. We believe yes, politics is dirty. But it's only dirty for one reason: Christians abandoned it. We believe there is no human endeavor that is outside of the jurisdiction of our King and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are raising up from within our own midst citizen legislators like Ron Young. What we did to get him elected (We give all the glory and credit to Jesus, but He uses earthen vessels, weak people, like ourselves) we planned a strategy, picked an opponent, put in twelve phone lines in his basement, hired someone who knew how to do these things, and then recruited the members of our church. And for just about the better part of the year, we came to his basement, got on those phones, and called every registered Republican and Independent voter in the district we were trying to get him elected.
Something very strange happened. We defeated a five-time inner circle Republican incumbent by this unknown named Ron Young. It was a miracle. What we felt God was doing was trying to show us the truthfulness of Solomon's utterance. "When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice." Now what has happened in the past two years with Ron in the State House? He has effected a revolution down there. For the so-called "fiscally conservative" Republicans (you know, those men who are suffering form PTA: Permanent Testicular Atrophy) he has been able to put courage into them, backbone into what they are doing.
Ron is epistemologically self-conscious, that is, he understands what his belief system. When he speaks, he speaks as a man with integrity, courage and a worldview. He doesn't take his finger like so many politicians and put it into in the air wondering where the political winds are blowing. No, he goes down there and sets the agenda. The job he has done in two short years has been nothing short of a miracle. You have to believe the scripture and then you have to work. You have to roll your sleeves up. You have to give your money and then you have to labor. In other words, you have to get in the fight.
We believe that out of this church of 275 people, there are going to come forth from the loins of this church, presidents, vice presidents, senators and congressmen. Why? Because this is what the church did in her beginning. This is what the church has always done. This is what the church will do again. We understand that Christ was not crucified in a cathedral between two candles. Christ was crucified out there at the town garbage heap. He was crucified in a place where cynics talked smut and where soldiers do their thing. That's where churchmen ought to be. That's where the churchmen will be once again, and that's where we are going.
Question:-- What about the idea that the government should be neutral and should recognize that we live in a democratic, pluralistic society?
Phil Vollman: There is one truth frustrated pastors in this hour must major on, center on, focus on. Worry about everything else after the victories start rolling in. There is one major truth they must begin to preach on. Neutrality is a myth. There is no such thing as neutrality. God did not design the fabric of the universe to allow for neutrality. There is not one atom in this whole universe that can claim neutrality. Jesus was very clear in this. He said, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." There is no neutrality. This is a winner take all battle.
It's either going to be the disciples of Jesus Christ in time and history who are out there leading the fight for righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, and doing it in the public square which will produce the peace that we are all after. Or it's going to be the disciples of Molly Yard, Margaret Sanger, and Joseph Stalin who are out there doing that. The feminist is not neutral in her worldview or in her apologetic. The humanist is not neutral in what he does and says. Teddy Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton are not neutral.
It is time for the church to wake up and realize this issue. We are the largest single institution within the confines of the contiguous 48 states. There are more people in America who profess Christ. Some estimates have said 40 million, some estimates are as optimistic as 65 million. We are the largest single institution in this nation who say that we believe in Christ. At the same time, we are the most irrelevant and the most impotent. Why is that? We have forgotten that truth: There is no neutrality.
If homosexuals who comprise less than five percent of this nation, who are without the Holy Ghost, the holy scriptures, the patriarchs, the oaths and promises, can turn this nation on its ear in the space of 25 years, what could 40 million Christians moving under the power of the Holy Ghost and with Reformed orthodoxy undergirding them, what could we do? We could win. And we could win quickly. There is no neutrality. If we could learn that, if the pastors of America would simply learn that, the battle would be over inside of three months.
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