Reprise: From Reconstructionism to Dominionism, Part 2
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Fri Mar 16, 2007 at 09:58:36 AM EST

To a man, Reconstructionists believe that Biblical prophecies assure them that they will ultimately be victorious in the war they are waging to remake society.  This chief thing that divides Reconstructionists are the methods they employ to change the culture and society.  R. J. Rushdoony thought change would come as the gospel spread and lives were transformed.  This would necessarily be gradual and could conceivably take centuries to accomplish.  Gary North, on the other hand, thinks change can come rapidly by taking over the institutions of civil government in a manner similar to the way Fundamentalists took over of the Southern Baptist Convention.   Their differences over tactics led to conflict between Rushdoony and North.

[To hear a 4 minute podcast (mp3 file) of Bill Moyers discussing North's tactics and questioning Rushdoony about them, click here and wait for it to download.]

Despite their differences over the tactics and strategy, all Reconstructionists are committed to making the laws of Ancient Israel the law of the land in the U.S.  They believe the Mosaic law is God's blueprint for all societies.  Transported to the context of twenty-first century America, they see themselves as "Christian Libertarians."  Stripped to its barest essentials, here is their blueprint for America.  Their ultimate goal is to make the U.S. Constitution conform to a strict, literal interpretation of Biblical law.  To do that involves a series of legal and social reforms that will move society toward their goal.  Here is their blueprint:  1) Make the ten commandments the law of the land,  2) Strengthen patriarchically ordered families,  3) Close public schools - make parents totally responsible for the education of their children,  4) Reduce the role of government to the defense of property rights, 5) Require "tithes" to ecclesiastical agencies to provide welfare services,  6) Close prisons - reinstitute slavery as a form of punishment and require capital punishment for all of ancient Israel's capital offenses - including apostacy, blasphemy, incorrigibility in children, murder, rape, Sabbath breaking, sodomy, and witchcraft.

[To hear a 6.18 minute podcast (mp3 file) of Rushdoony explaining to Bill Moyers the rationale for applying the death penalty to adulterers, homosexuals and incorrigible children, click here and wait until it downloads.]

With the exception of the call to close prisons, significant steps toward the kind of reforms that Reconstructionists envision have already been made in our society.  What they have been able to accomplish has been done by their allying themselves with the Republican party and other conservative Christians and working through the political process.  By doing so, they have been able to exert extensive influence over the whole evangelical movement.  

I use the term Dominionism to describe the broader movement, heavily influenced by Reconstructionist ideas, that is working from within the political system to takeover the institutions of government and create a theocratic republic.  That is being accomplished by 1) declaring the United States to be a "Christian Nation," 2) electing conservative "Christian" candidates who are legislating biblical morality and law, and 3) electing and/or appointing "strict constructionist" judges who will rule in accord with biblical law.

[To hear a 6.12 minute podcast (mp3) of Bill Moyers trying to get Paul Pressler to talk to him about his involvement in the Council for National Policy (along with Falwell, Robertson, North, Rushdoony and others), click here and wait for it to download.]

[To hear a 4.41 minute podcast of Bill Moyers talking to Joseph Morecraft about the expected effects of a political alliance that he forged between Charismatics and Reconstructionists, click here and wait for it to download.]

The chief thing that distinguishes Reconstructionists from most of the conservative evangelicals in the Dominionist movement is that they are not ultimately pessimistic about the possibility of men ushering in the millennial reign of Christ.  Most conservative Christians are pre-millenialists.  They think Jesus has to return to usher in the kingdom of God on earth.  Reconstructionists, on the other hand, are post-millenialists.  They think Jesus expects them to usher in the kingdom of God before he returns and some of them expect to do it by force - by force of law and/or by force of arms.

Most of the people in the anti-abortion terrorist underground - the people who bomb abortion clinics and shoot abortion providers -- are Reconstructionists who grew impatient with the slow pace of reform through involvement in the political process.  They have already taken the law into their own hands.

Some Reconstructionists realize that, sooner or later, there is bound to be a backlash against the kind of society that they intend to create.  Many seem to be biding their time until public sentiment turns decisively against the kind of reforms they are seeking.  When that happens, I believe that some, if given the opportunity, will be willing to take up arms and wage another civil war.  Some of their literature indicates that they believe that such actions can be morally and theologically justified if they follow a lesser magistrate (like the Governor of a state) who claims to be following biblical law while refusing to submit to a rule of law that is imposed by a secular constitutional authority.  This kind of crisis could easily be precipitated by the Governor of state, like Alabama, refusing to execute a Court order to remove a ten commandments monument from state government property.

[Incidently, Aubrey Vaughn, the pastor whose church and congregants participated in the making of the Hotze GOP takeover video, was arrested at the courthouse in Alabama for trying to obstruct the removal of Roy Moore's ten commandments monument.  To hear a 4.6 minute podcast of Vaughn, identifying himself as Ray Jones, offering a resolution against government schools in the Hotze video, click here and wait for it to download.]



NOTE:  The audio excerpts of Moyers with Rushdoony and Moorecraft are from Bill Moyer's 1989 documentary God and Politics:  On Earth as it is in Heaven.  The audio excerpt of Moyers with Pressler is from Bill Moyer's 1989 documentary God and Politics:  The Battle for the Bible.



Next Week, I'll write about SBC Takeover Leaders and the Council for National Policy





Display:
In the run-up to December 31, 1999, Gary North was notable for his public pronouncements about the many disasters that would befall all modernized societies because of the so-called Y2K problem. I seem to remember that he turned a pretty penny promoting survival supplies for the coming catastrophe.
Maybe we can do some research about this and other instances in which these characters who boast of a direct line to God have been spectacularly wrong.

by nogodsnomasters on Fri Mar 16, 2007 at 10:19:35 AM EST

I like both the irony and the hidden truth in that label.

There is certainly an element of naive utopian anarchy in secular libertarianism.  I think the seculars resemble the religious right in that they appeal to their own kind of "higher law" to justify their hope that their radical methods will preserve their conservative values.

Thanks for sorting out Rushdoony and North for me a little better.  I see now that N is not exactly a "disciple" of R, but has distinct issues with the philosophy of slow growth.

Before I write more, I need more time to ponder (and to get back to my day job!).


God bless the whole world - - No Exceptions
by John Anngeister on Fri Mar 16, 2007 at 01:07:34 PM EST


It's true that one can find verses in the Bible to support almost any position, but these people seem to take their inspiration from the Old Testament, the letters of Paul and the Book of Revelation, for the most part ignoring the actual words attributed to Christ which seem to directly contradict their doctrine, such as: "All who take the sword will perish by the sword." "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." "Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned." Christ doesn't even mention homosexuality or abortion (not unknown at the time), and spends much more time condemning selfishness and greed than the sins of the flesh. Most importantly in this context, Christ specifically rejects political action and revolution, perhaps recognizing that spirituality tends to be corrupted by association with worldly affairs. It's certainly arguable that if you set your sights on changing the world, you almost by necessity lose focus on spiritual transformation. Also, I'd urge these folks to compare the vitality of Christianity in America to the vitality of Christianity in European countries where there has historically been a connection between state and church. One interpretation is that, where the two are not separate, cynicism toward the state translates into cynicism toward the church.

by Gnosys on Mon Mar 19, 2007 at 10:18:47 PM EST


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