Restoring the Old Testament to parity with the New

Dr. Michael J. McVicar has written the first major scholarly work on the history of Christian Reconstruction, unraveling the complexities of the impact made upon our culture by the work of R. J. Rushdoony…

His new book appears to make nods towards its non- and anti-Reconstructionist constituency, being marketed as a tool to warn the unwary about a shadowy figure (the terms “rogue’s gallery” and “shadowy and amorphous network” appear twice; Rushdoony is a “crafty bootstrapper” seeking to “insulate his activities from taxation”; the perversity of the modern state is essentially in the imagination of Rushdoony and other conservatives; the “notoriety” of Rushdoony and/or his writings is front-and-center, etc.)…

When Dr. McVicar refers to Rushdoony’s “emphasis on the Old Testament over the New Testament,” he fails to understand that Christian Reconstruction is restoring the Old Testament to parity with the New rather than retiring it as the Word of God Emeritus.

Quote source

Selbrede, M. (2015). First Major Book About R. J. Rushdoony. Chalcedon Foundation. Available http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/first-major-book-about-r-j-rushdoony-2/. Last accessed 24th Dec 2015.

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Have secularists properly understood R.J. Rushdoony?

The British Centre for Science Education interprets the data on Rushdoony like this:

In detailing Rousas Rushdoony, we believe we are presenting a man every bit as potentially murderous as Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot or anyone else you may want to name amongst the annals of evil…

Having looked at the matter for a second time, the author has come to the conclusion that Rushdoony was a thoroughly evil man and that his pernicious influence runs deep in both the fundamentalist and the creationist movements…

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).

But Michael McVicar shows a deeper level of understanding than that:

At the heart of the secularist critique of Rushdoony, I detect a contradictory narrative that declares him to be the most relevant irrelevant Christian thinker of the twentieth century. He and his supporters—the Christian Reconstructionists and dominionists—are said to be both insignificant outsiders and the theocratic masterminds behind the rise of George W. Bush and the Christian Right. These critics blame the Reconstructionists for everything from George W. Bush’s interventionist war in Iraq to his faith-based initiatives even as they simultaneously ridicule Rushdoony for his primitive irrelevance. That neither portrayal has any basis in fact has yet to deter the purveyors of the vast theocratic conspiracy theory.

After initially buying into this conspiracy theorizing, I came to realize that it tells me more about Rushdoony’s detractors than it does about his ministry…

My peers and I had turned Rushdoony into an allegorical figure that embodies all of our uneasiness with the Bush regime and the so-called Christian Right. Thus we obsessively warn that Rushdoony’s followers will steal elections, oppress their foes, and indiscriminately murder children and homosexuals. Such presentations neglect to point out why so many Christians find Rushdoony’s work persuasive. They also neglect to point out how and why Rushdoony’s ideas are relevant to us haughty secularists.

Quote sources

  1. British Centre for Science Education (n.d.) In extremis – Rousas Rushdoony and his Connections. Available http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RousasRushdoony. Last accessed 25th Jul 2015.
  2. McVicar, M. (2007). ‘Rushdoony Among the Academics: The Secular Relevance of the Thought of R. J. Rushdoony’ in Faith for All of Life, May/June 2007, pp. 20-21

A symbolic victory over secularism and irreligion

On October 4, 1982, the U.S. Congress “authorized and requested” President Ronald Reagan “to designate 1983 as a national ‘Year of the Bible.’ ” Public Law 97-280 resolved that “our nation” needed “to study and apply the teachings of the Holy Scriptures” to the problems of the new decade.

Fittingly, Reagan publicly fulfilled Congress’s request at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on February 3, 1983. In the official statement, Proclamation 5018, Reagan declared: “The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible’s teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual.”

Campus Crusade for Christ leader Bill Bright, who suggested the proclamation to Reagan in the first place, believed that such initiatives were leading to a civil revival in the United States. Religious broadcasters and other Protestant leaders cheered the proclamation, viewing it as a symbolic victory over the forces of secularism and irreligion in the United States.

Quote source

McVicar, M.J. (2015). Christian Reconstruction: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism [ebook]. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. Location 3861 of 7838

R.J. Rushdoony’s intellectual and religious influence

Rushdoony and his tiny handful of acolytes saw their gradualist strategy begin to transform conservative Protestant thinking across the United States. Within a decade of the publication of The Institutes of Biblical Law [in 1973], the book was a familiar citation for law school faculty at Oral Roberts University, Pat Robertson’s CBN/ Regent University, and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. This widespread awareness of Rushdoony’s ideas coincided with the explosion of religious broadcasting that was facilitated by cable and satellite television networks.

Quote source

McVicar, M.J. (2015). Christian Reconstruction: R.J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism [e-book]. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, location 4282.

Michael McVicar on enemies of Christian Reconstruction

As I outlined in the previous section, much of the available research tends to dismiss Christian Reconstructionism as a fascistic political ideology that has more to do with resentment and the desire to reassert social control than it does religion.

My two cents

Closeup of bumper sticker with famous Sinclair...
Closeup of bumper sticker with famous Sinclair Lewis line “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” Uploaded by Outsider80 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a supplement to an earlier quotation I’ve done of Michael McVicar. Recently I’ve been thinking about the overall issue, and how enemies of Christianity can rely on the vehicle of resentment to get their point across—but it doesn’t work with me.

As the years go by, I am becoming increasingly aware of the emotionally manipulative arguments against Christianity—which often try to pass off as a rational argument, but fail. Feminists (and possibly humanists) do this in particular.

Such people often carry with them preconceived ideas of what Christianity ought to be: a spineless, privatised bag of thoughts that ought to banish itself from the public sphere out of deference to a self-righteous form of politicised secularism. When something challenges—nay, precedes—it, these people take it upon themselves to dismiss Christian morality, but I didn’t realise it was up to such Johnny-come-latelys to make moral determinations.

The actions of such anti-Christians are reflective of their preoccupations with control and the analytical reduction of things down to power structures. Their employment of loaded terms such as “Christian right” only serves to reflect their bias.

Quote source

McVicar, M.J. (2010). Reconstructing America: Religion, American Conservatism, and the Political Theology of Rousas John Rushdoony. (Unpublished PhD thesis, Ohio State University), p. 408

Michael McVicar on Mark Crispin Miller’s line of argument

Ultimately, Miller’s book seeks to define [George W.] Bush as a Rushdoony-style theocrat, but fails to note that most [Christian] Reconstructionists disliked Bush’s policies.

My two cents

In the book, Blair writes that he hoped that G...
In the book, Blair writes that he hoped that George W. Bush would win a second term as President of the United States in 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This follows on from one of my previous quotes of Michael McVicar some months back. The attempt of tarring Bush and Christian Reconstruction with the same brush is interesting for an observer like me to watch. In this particular book of Miller’s, it fell short. It was interesting reading some reviews of Miller’s books on Bush, which were given five-star reviews on Amazon’s website; it was telling how one reviewer wrote:

  • “If Professor Miller is correct in his observations and factual analysis…” This recognises that Miller’s work could have been off, something that would go against a five-star review.
  • “Seemingly, Professor Miller is highly accurate in his studies…” This time, there’s the qualifying adverb, of seemingly.

Source

McVicar, M.J. (2010). Reconstructing America: Religion, American Conservatism, and the Political Theology of Rousas John Rushdoony. (Unpublished PhD thesis, Ohio State University), pp. 401-402

Michael McVicar on R.J. Rushdoony’s critics

Secular concepts of force, violence, domination, and political legitimation replaced traditional Christian concepts to become the metrics for measuring [R.J.] Rushdoony’s theology…In short, it reduced Rushdoony’s ideas to their secular political implications while studiously neglecting their theological and epistemological foundation.

My two cents

Ohio State University
Ohio State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I agree with this and I notice people doing it all the time. I always hate it when people reduce theology to its secular political implications. I thought that religion precedes secular politics and that secularism ought to be graded against religious requirements, not the other way round.

Quote source

McVicar, M.J. (2010). Reconstructing America: Religion, American Conservatism, and the Political Theology of Rousas John Rushdoony. (Unpublished PhD thesis, Ohio State University), p. 393.