What is Christian Reconstruction? The best way to answer this question is to go straight to source, R. J. Rushdoony and others who are associated with or write for the Chalcedon Foundation. I have taken much of what I’ve written here from the Journal of Christian Reconstruction, 1996 publication. Because Christian Reconstruction has been so maligned and others mimic the caricaturing without having read Rushdoony and others, or if they have, they nick pick or cherry pick rather than present a fair representation of what various authors have said who have written about Christian Reconstruction, it is most important to go straight to the sources regarding this topic.
What Is Christian Reconstruction?
In a vary recent article (October 2022), which can be found on Chalcedon.edu, Mark Rushdoony shares that his father coined the term Christian Reconstruction in 1965. He then provides his own definition of Christian Reconstruction by analogy describing the Christian’s work responsibilities in the Kingdom of God (1). Both Christian Reconstruction and the postmillennial position associated with Christian Reconstruction assume the Holy Spirit is remaking all things in terms of the victory of Jesus Christ and the corresponding defeat of Satan (2). Hence Christian Reconstruction is about Christians’ faithfulness to the duties to which God has called us in whatever sphere we happen to reside, work wise and otherwise. As believers who have set in evangelical and Bible churches, we have all probably heard and have been exhorted to deny ourselves and take up our Cross. But what do these exhortations mean for the believer in Christ? To deny ourselves is to take up the work that God has put before us. And this work, whatever it may be for each Christian, is our cross. To follow Christ is to fulfill our responsibilities in the Kingdom (3). Mark Rushdoony provides a good historical example of someone fulfilling his responsibilities in the person of Johannes Kepler, a 17th century astronomer. When Kepler described his methodology as a scientific astronomer, he proclaimed he approached his work as one thinking God’s thoughts after Him (4). Each Christian has a calling that he must fulfill. Each calling may involve a heavier cross than others. If we follow Christ, we will suffer, but to what extent is in the hands of God’s providence. Whatever work we’re doing in this life, however, we can approach it as Kepler approached his work, thinking God’s thoughts after Him.
What Is Theonomy?
Another idea that has been greatly maligned in the thought of Christian Reconstruction is that of theonomy. What is theonomy? Mark Rushdoony talks about his father’s proposed goal in writing the 3-volume work, The Institutes of Biblical Law. Basically this massive work was proffered by R. J. Rushdoony as God’s way of sanctification of obedience. The process of our sanctification and growth as Christians should lead us to obey the Law of God. Yes, we will fall short, but the power of the Holy Spirit will enable us to become more and more like Christ, which is why we look forward to that day when we see Him face-to-face. Although the church has noticed the moral degeneracy of the culture, in many ways we have refused to see the purpose of God’s Law for our lives today. Mark Rushdoony points to the reaction of the church to the early days of homeschooling as an example of how the church compromised with the culture and the State (5). There is still much misunderstanding about theonomy, mostly by those who have not read R. J. Rushdoony, or those who nick pick over eschatological positions. Theonomy is not about our obeying the Law by our own power or about our meriting something before God by keeping the Law. We are to be obedient to God, and that can come only through the power of the Holy Spirit who strengthens our inner being toward our sanctification.
How Is Christian Reconstruction Misunderstood?
As Mark Rushdoony points out in his Chalcedon Report for October 2022, contrary to critics’ claims, it must be pointed out that neither Christian Reconstruction, the dominion mandate, nor the postmillennial eschatology suggest that man is in charge of ushering in the kingdom (6). As stated above, nowhere in Christian Reconstruction literature will one read that Christians are to meritoriously obey the Law of God so as to earn salvation. As believers grow in sanctification, they will by the power of the Spirit become more obedient to God throughout their lives. Regardless of eschatological differences with their different views of the Kingdom of God, we should all be honest in reporting what other believers say about their understanding of how God would have us live in the world while not being of the world.
Conclusion: Some Qualifiers
Qualifiers is probably not a good word for this conclusion. I just want to add here that for most of my Christian life, there were many years when I didn’t know about R. J. Rusdoony’s work whatsoever. I wish I had discovered it earlier. At this point, I would not claim to be a postmillennialist nor a theonomist, but I sure want to know more about those positions. I have obtained my understanding of Scripture in Bible churches that were premillennial in their eschatology. I have not settled on a position as yet, and I’m seventy-five years old. We should hold firmly to what I call the Five Fundamentals of the Faith, and in a highly divisive age, we as Christians need to witness to the world where we draw the line in the sand. Simultaneously, we need to witness to the world how we can agree to disagree with other Christians who hold to the fundamental truths of Scripture without becoming divisive where no such division is required. What I do believe and want to contribute by any work I do is that as Christians in every sphere of life, we do our work as unto the Lord, taking all things captive to the name of Christ. I look forward to learning more about Christian Reconstruction and the dominion mandate.
Rushdoony, M.R. (2022). Chalcedon Report October 22: Leaning into the Hard Work of the Kingdom. Chalcedon Foundation: Vallecito, CA. (All references in this Blog come from this source).
John V. Jones, Jr., Ph.D./February 14th, 2023