By Robert Parsons
Christian Reconstruction is a call to the Church to awaken to its biblical responsibility to revival and the reformation of society. While holding to the priority of individual salvation, Christian Reconstruction also holds that cultural renewal is to be the necessary and expected outworking of the gospel as it progressively finds success in the lives and hearts of men. Christian Reconstruction therefore looks for and works for the rebuilding of the institutions of society according to a biblical blueprint.
Christian Reconstruction is also an attempt to answer the unprecedented threat facing the Church of Jesus Christ in the 20th century resurgence of secular humanism and parallel rise of statism. The state threatens to swallow the Church by such actions such as property taxation, zoning laws, and direct court action, all directly contrary to the Word of God. In one case, a church was taken to court for dismissing a practicing homosexual from its staff. In another, the church was padlocked by police for operating a Christian school without a licensed teacher. This is only the tip of the iceberg; there were several thousand civil cases pending against churches in 1985.
There are two fatal errors facing the Church as it is being called upon to respond to this threat.
Fatal Error #1: Retreat
Retreat is failing to apply the Word of God to society and culture. It seems as though many Christians are guided more by Plato in some aspects of their thinking than by Christ. They tend to deny the application of scripture to the secular. They fail to recognize that every sphere is spiritual and subject to the Word of God.
This shows up in a studied indifference to biblical teaching on civil law, economics, government and other cultural applications. It is pietism as opposed to true piety. There was, for example, little response to the abortion holocaust from the evangelical Church for over 10 years after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling.
Fatal Error #2: Accommodation
Accommodation is misapplying the Word of God in society and culture. This is by far the more subtle error. One glaring example would be “Christian socialism” like that espoused by Ron Sider in Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger. This perspective down plays biblical charity and poor laws (such as gleaning) in favor of the anti-biblical “solution” of government taxation and redistribution of wealth.
By way of contrast, the truly biblical welfare is local, personal, voluntary and usually requires the poor to work (2 Thes. 3:10).
The Christian Reconstruction movement has been raised up by God to awaken the Church to the reality of these two fatal errors.
Christian Reconstruction is a call to return to the vision of the Reformation, where men sought to restructure every sphere of life according to the Word of God. This is true biblical revival. Every example of revival in Scripture extended beyond individual repentance to impact every facet of culture. For example, rediscovery of the Law by King Josiah (2 Kings 22,23) produced a reformation (but not a revival) leading to reconstruction of the entire Hebrew culture. In the New Testament, proclamation of the crown rights of King Jesus resulted in changes to all life, it being said that the world had been turned upside down (Acts 17).
The Foundation: Sovereignty of God
Christian Reconstruction rests on one solid foundation stone: the sovereignty of God. Sovereignty refers to God’s supreme power and rule. His reign and control extends into every sphere of life, here and now, not just in eternity. To defer His Kingship is to deny His Kingship. The Bible contains the directives of the King of kings for every area of human activity, including civil government, economics, art, science, family, church, and more. Activity in each sphere is to be governed by the Law of God, with minimal interference from civil government. There are no neutral zones.
God exercises His sovereignty through many secondary agencies. For example, civil government is responsible to God to bear the sword, executing God’s wrath against violators of His Law. The Church, as the depository of the Law of God, is to provide Biblical instruction for every sphere, including civil government. She is not to control civil government, but rather to provide expert legal counsel (Deut.17:8-13). Many of her sons are expected to assume the mantle of civil leadership.
Resting on the foundation of God’s sovereignty, four vital pillars support the Christian Reconstruction movement:
Pillar #1: Redemption
This is the sovereignty of God in salvation. All men are disobedient and worthy of eternal separation from God in Hell. But Jesus Christ, the perfect man, died as a substitute for sinners. Because Christ shed His blood in their stead, God justly pardons everyone who believes the Gospel, granting them eternal life. This is called justification (Rom. 6:23).
Justification is accomplished entirely by the grace and mercy of God. Sinful man, being totally depraved, is utterly dependent on the provision of God for salvation, including the ears to hear and even the faith to believe the Gospel. Salvation does not rest primarily on the “decision” of a particular man for God, but rather on God’s decision to save that particular man. Jesus said: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you …” (John 15:16).
Pillar #2: Law of God
Christian Reconstruction upholds the authority of the Law of God in every sphere of society. This is the sovereignty of God in ethics. 1 Tim. 1:8 implies a lawful and an unlawful use of the Law of God. It is unlawful to seek acceptance with God by trying to obey the Law of God, the ceremonial law, or any manmade additions to the Law. We are justified by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8). On the other hand, man must look to the Law of God as his guide for holy living and civil statutes. The perfect standard of the Law shows us how we are to live, how far short we fall and how much we need a Savior.
“We know that the law is good if anyone uses it lawfully” (1 Tim. 1:8).
Unlawful Uses of the Law
1. Salvation by Works
2. Sacrificial Observances (Gal. 3:24)
3. Man made Traditions Added to the Law (Mk. 7:7ff.)
Lawful Uses of the Law
1. Guide for Life
2. Convict of Sin (Rom. 3:20)
3. Civil Use (1 Timothy 1:8,9)
Therefore, “not under the law” means that we are no longer condemned by the Law of God since we are justified by faith. It does NOT mean we are no longer ethically and morally bound to obey Old Testament law. Legalism results from a misapplication of God’s moral Law or from traditions added to the Law. Simple childlike obedience to the Law of God does NOT equal legalism.
The faulty interpretive principle of Old Testament law is to assume the the Old Testament in invalid unless confirmed by the New Testament.
The faithful interpretive principle is to assume that the Old Testament is valid and still in effect unless specifically changed by the New Testament.
Covenantal shifts have occurred in areas such as sacrificial laws, ceremonial laws, Sabbath laws, dietary laws and agricultural laws. 1 Timothy 1:9 goes on to list a category of civil crimes that the Law of God is to restrain under the New Covenant: murder, kidnapping, adultery, perjury, etc. Therefore, one useful use of the Law of God is to restrain evil doers in society.
The theological name for this approach is “theonomy,” from the Greek words “theos” meaning God and “nomos” meaning law. When men reject the Law of God as a standard, they are left with autonomy (self-law). This takes many forms, including common sense, pluralism, natural law, democracy (law of the people), and statutory law. The result of rejecting God’s absolutes is always chaos.
When the Church rejects God’s Law, it usually adopts what it calls the “law of love” in its place as the guide to action. Often this is a love devoid of content, that exalts unity over truth to avoid confrontation. But true biblical love goes hand in hand with the Law. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15,21). By rejecting the standard of God’s Law, the Church has nothing of substance to offer the world and becomes irrelevant.
Pillar #3: Presuppositionalism
Presuppositionalism is the self-sufficiency of an authoritative Bible. This is the sovereignty of God in revelation. Pesuppositionalism defines our approach to the sovereign Word of God. Too often Christians try to “prove” the Bible to the natural man by presenting evidences from creation or logic. They assume the problem is merely intellectual and that belief will flow naturally from an airtight presentation of the facts.
But the Bible says that natural man willfully suppresses the truth (Rom. 2:15). The problem is not, therefore, a lack of evidence, but the basic tendency to set oneself up as the ultimate judge of truth. The heart of Eve’s sin lay in exalting herself as the judge of what God had said. (Gen. 3:5,6).
These presuppositions radically alter our approach to the non-believer. If our defense of the faith consists solely of presenting evidences to his supposed independent reason, we are simply encouraging his independence. Instead of a focus on persuasion with facts and logic, Christian Reconstruction challenges the natural man, who presumes himself to be the ultimate judge of truth. The sword of the Spirit does not need to be proved, it needs to be used. We presuppose that the sword of the Spirit will penetrate the hearts of natural men knowing that the Law of God in their hearts confirms its truth.
Pillar #4: Assurance of Earthly Victory
This is the sovereignty of God in history. The Bible insists that God’s Law is to hold full sway in every sphere of earthly activity, in history as well as eternity (Mat. 6:10). God’s sovereignty ensures it will hold sway. He has commanded His Church to carry His gospel (“teaching them to observe all things” – Matt. 28:20 includes God’s Law) to the nations. He has given us power for this task. The only hindrance is a faithless Church that can only see giants in the promised land of earthly victory.
Some Christians say God has turned world rulership over to Satan until the second coming of Christ. But this denies God’s explicit claim to ownership (Ps. 24:1) and the decisive work of Christ in destroying the power of the devil (Col. 2:15, 1 Jn. 3:8).
This view overlooks the various meanings of the word “world” (Compare John 3:16 with 1 John 2:15). Satan may be the god of the world system that opposes God, but to grant him a sovereignty that belongs to God alone borders on blasphemy.
In The American Covenant, Marshall Foster observes that the implications of which view you hold are profound.
If you see God as ruling the earth
1. Your commission is to subdue the earth and build Christian nations through evangelizing and discipleship.
2. You see Christian culture to be the only acceptable culture and you see all others as aberrations.
3. All of God’s world is holy and every activity in life is a religious activity to be seen as a spiritual work for God.
4. Reformation is expected.
If you see Satan as ruling the earth
1. You must just concentrate on saving souls from this evil world.
2. You see Christian culture as a counter-culture, a persecuted minority in an evil world.
3. Church activity is primary and spiritual, while worldly pursuits are secular and to be dealt with only as a necessity.
4. Reformation is impossible and suspect, since things must get worse before Christ returns.
The above dichotomy illustrates the importance of ideas in determining consequences, because to the degree Christians have abdicated their leadership role and denied the “crown rights of Jesus Christ,” to that degree the humanists have filled the void.
In summation, Christian Reconstruction is the only view that biblically answers the question of how Christians should relate to their culture.
Not RETREAT, that fails to apply the Bible to the problems of society (Fatal Error #1).
Not ACCOMMODATION, that misapplies the Bible to endorse various forms of humanism (Fatal Error #2).
But RECONSTRUCTION according to the Law of God.
Individual salvation is the necessary priority, but Christian Reconstruction teaches that cultural renewal is an expected outworking of the Gospel. When Jesus said “make disciples of all nations,” He meant it literally. The very cultural/governmental fabric of the nations is to be transformed by the preservative effect of their Christian citizens. This is the vision of the Reformers, the Puritans and the Pilgrims. This is the vision that we must rekindle anew today.