Christian Reconstruction: taking back, not taking over

Let’s continue with a critical review of the rhetoric and reading comprehension emanating from the British Centre for Science Education:

Like all would-be dictators, [R.J.] Rushdoony had no respect for the law (that is, any law that stands in his way)—”The only true order is founded on Biblical Law. All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion.” (Institutes of Biblical Law, page 113).

He also made it clear that he expects that force will be necessary to impose such order, “Every law-order is in a state of war against the enemies of that order, and all law is a form of warfare. (Institutes of Biblical Law, page 93).

If that’s meant to be convincing, I’ll just say meh. I’d rather hear it from Mark Rushdoony:

Most critics of Christian reconstruction have misconstrued it as a takeover of the existing centralised state by a few Christian clerics—hence, the moniker of Christian theocrats as the “Christian Taliban”—but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Christian reconstruction is not a takeover of government, but a taking back of government by way of self-government in terms of God’s law, and this is best exemplified in what we refer to as the “quiet revolution” of Christian education.

Without violence, or protest, millions of Christian children are receiving a Christian education by way of Christian schools and homeschooling families. In this way, Christian families have taken back government from the state by the self-government of Christian education.

Quote sources

  1. British Centre for Science Education (2007). In extremis – Rousas Rushdoony and his connections. Available http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RousasRushdoony. Last accessed 8th Aug 2015.
  2. Rushdoony, M. (2015). Unpublished letter to supporters, February 2015
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Penetrating insights into freedom, sin, and justice

The unregenerate have no such freedoms, because they seek not freedom from sin but in sin. They desire freedom from the consequences of their sin, but not from sin itself…

A sinful people want sin redefined to their advantage. They want their own inclination called justice and contrary views condemned…

An immoral people have no moral fortitude to stand for anything except the right to be immoral. They cannot stand up for righteousness because that is a Christian concept. They cannot stand up for a justice for which they have no standard.

Quote source

Rushdoony, M. (2013). “How Liberty is a Result of the Gospel” in Faith for All of Life, November/December 2013, pp. 2-3

The link between theonomy and Christ’s kingship

The alternative to theonomy as God’s law is either a denial of theocracy and the “rule of God” or to propose that Christ’s Kingship is as a figurehead or at best a spiritual one. The first position renders the image of the King misleading, as there were no such monarchs in the ancient world; the later renders it weak because it means the King and His Kingdom are limited in jurisdiction.

Quote source

Rushdoony, M (2013) “Kingdom Men and Kingdom Law” in Faith for All of Life, September/October 2013, p. 2

The state’s deceptive use of language—beware of it

The state often does more than just use the language of ethics for its purpose, however. It often promotes immorality in the name of freedom to distract people from their own enslavement. It encourages a definition of liberty as freedom from morality, and classifies sin as human rights. License to sin is defined as the essence of freedom. Such a people then fail to see their enslavement through high taxes, intrusive government, a lower standard of living because of the lower purchasing power of the government’s fiat money, and the abridgement of their historic liberties.

Quote source

Rushdoony, M. (2013). “How Liberty is a Result of the Gospel” in Faith for All of Life, November/December 2013, p. 3.

The Christian view of rationalism

Reason is limited by man and his experience. Aside from his creaturehood and sin, man is limited by his finitude. Man cannot experience all the potentialities of his world and there are certain realms he cannot experience at all. Rationalism ascribes to man’s reason unlimited responsibility with limited ability. If reality is at all what Scripture says it to be, however, reason is a valid but limited tool.

Rationalism limits understanding by effectively denying there is a mind greater than man’s…All the collective minds of men of all time could not understand all reality, yet rationalism demands that we limit our thinking to the parameters of human experience and exclude as illegitimate the revelation of God in Scripture.

One’s view of the place of reason is based on one’s view of man. If man is seen in subordination to God, reason will be seen as subject to faith in Him and His revelation of truth and knowledge. If reason is not so limited by faith and revelation it will be seen as superior to both. Any approach which places such an undue reliance on reason will rewrite both its theology and its anthropology to give man preeminence.

My two cents

I couldn’t have put it better myself. While one could read a philosophical journal or encyclopaedia to get similar insights, this quote puts it in easy-to-understand terms for normal people.

I sometimes hear about this philosophical perspective that its proponents label as freethought; it’s a darling of rationalists, skeptics, and so on. It is purported to be free from authority/dogma etc. While it vacates that rented house (and landlord), it then moves to the comfortable circular-shaped prison ward of, well, self-imposed epistemological restrictions.

Seen from that angle, faith offers a wider gamut of both freedom and thought.

Quote source

Rushdoony, M (2013). “Rationalism: The Sinner’s Big Head” in Faith for All of Life, July/August 2013, p. 3

Rights aren’t as universal as politicians make them out to be

In the 2010 federal election, the Australian Greens earned 11.76 and 13.11 per cent of votes in the House of Representatives, and Senate, respectively. With the 2013 election, results are provisional, but this ‘progressive’ party regressed by losing about 1/4 of the vote percentage it achieved in 2010. Whatever the final result:

The Australian Greens believe that…economic, social, cultural, environmental, civil and political rights are universal, interdependent, and indivisible.

Mark Rushdoony wasn’t part of the election, but his insights cast more light:

In our day, much of the talk is political, and too much of it focuses on “rights”…To speak only of our rights is to see ourselves in terms of the state. To speak of duty, service, and responsibility is to see ourselves in terms of God and His commanding Word. The end result of such a perspective is the establishment of liberty.

My two cents

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I tend to agree that when people rest their political agenda on ‘rights’ (especially in the 21st century), then yes, one result is to remodel the individual to something under the care and control of the state. I’m therefore suspicious of putting all my deontological eggs into such a politicised basket. I hope there are higher powers than the state—and it seems that Christianity affirms this.

With the first quote, I’m not convinced that rights are as universal as political parties make them out to be. This is especially the case across time and cultures; the notion of (and dependency on politicised) rights these days is noticeably different from that of antiquity. Several rights listed by the Greens—especially the latter half—were vague or unknown concepts just a few generations ago. It’s therefore misleading to suggest otherwise, especially if a party believes human beings evolved from other species of the genus Homo (and its corollary that political thought has evolved from the barbaric to the progressive).

In such a framework, the concept of rights is not a universal; at best, it’s a construct that was made up by someone and eventually others decided to agree with it (while those who disagreed were overruled). The related inventions of the state, democratic elections, and politicised rhetoric (that’s emotionally reassuring but historically misleading) followed suit.

At least the Greens are honest enough to admit their platform hinges on a belief—but not honest enough to admit it hinges on an incorrect belief.

Quote sources

  1. The Australian Greens. (n.d). Human Rights. Available: http://greens.org.au/policies/human-rights. Last accessed 15th Sep 2013.
  2. Rushdoony, M. (n.d). June Letter from Mark Rushdoony, Chalcedon President. Available: http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/june-letter-from-mark-rushdoony-chalcedon-president/. Last accessed 15th Sep 2013.

Playing the victim and ignoring sin

The justification of victimhood ignores sin as a moral offense against God and focuses exclusively on its violation of man. Victimization is not about transcendent justice, it is about transferring responsibility to another person, group, or idea. Adam and Eve passed the buck, but God pronounced judgment on each of them because each was held accountable for his or her rebellion. The extent to which they were victimized did not in any way lessen the seriousness or the consequences of their sin.

My two cents

Adam and Eve expelled from Eden, detail of the...
Adam and Eve expelled from Eden, detail of the pulpit carved by Hendrik Frans Verbruggen (1699), St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels, Belgium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think I’ve always been against that idea the just because someone had a ‘socially disadvantaged’ childhood or whatever, that they should have a lesser penalty for their crimes. It reminds me of a time when a drunken man assaulted people or committed some other crime, was found guilty, but tried to say that because he was drunk, he shouldn’t be held accountable. Most people are willing to reject that, but let’s push it to its logical conclusion: people shouldn’t be absolved of their crimes because they’re insane; that’s a copout. I remember R.J. Rushdoony writing about the origin of this line of reasoning, which apparently emerged in the 19th century or thereabouts. I’m glad I read about that, because before that I was kinda brainwashed into thinking it was a universal, almost transcendent line of argument.

I agree that playing the victim has certain things in common with trying to lessen the consequences of sin.

Quote source

Rushdoony, M. (n.d.). “Not Guilty” by Reason of Victimhood. Available: http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/not-guilty-by-reason-of-victimhood/. Last accessed 12th May 2012.