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A Brief Investigation of Christian Reconstruction

What motivated this Investigation

For centuries the Western church has tended to downplay the importance of God's creation, seeing it as merely a backdrop for human activity, a resource to be squandered and as merely temporary and of no interest to God. It has also tended at most times to downplay what it considered 'secular' affairs like politics (except where it was allured by the idea of power). We want to find the biblical view of these things and work them out in our living.

We came across Christian Reconstruction. Here was, it seemed, a group of people who had a similar concern - to bring biblical principles to bear on secular life. The particular focus of Christian Reconstruction was society. They wanted to 'reconstruct' society in a biblical way.

On disliking what I found, I made an investigation.

This page is the result, and I began writing it in December 1997. However, I left some sections 'to be written', but then got busy! Today, 11 February 2018, 20 years later, I discovered the unfinished file. Since the page holds some material that might be useful, I decided to finish it as far as I could. So I have filled in some of those with brief paragraphs from what I recall from that time.

The Investigation

By listening and contributing to an email discussion list. I felt that this would be a good way because, first, I could see not only what their 'public' face was but what they were like 'inside'. Second, I could see what types of issues gave them most intense interest. Third, I could contribute, stimulate and ask questions.

What I Found

There were some good people on the list. And there were some intensive discussions, many of which were useful in digging around the roots of topics to bring to light the little hidden facets of them. Quite often I found myself responding, "Oh, I've never thought of that; that's useful" and in some cases I would clip that part out for future reference.

But overall, my evaluation of Christian Reconstruction must be largely negative. I could sum up the results of our investigation by referring to Micah 6:8:

"What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

Therefore while I accept that there is some good, it is not a movement that will help us towards a biblical way of relating to 'secular' things and to a proper stewardship of God's whole creation.

Spirit of Forceful Dominance rather than Loving Stewardsip

Christian Reconstruction is part of the dominion movement of Christianity. They take seriously the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:28 to have dominion over the animals etc. But their interpretation of what this means is more akin to a forceful dominance than to a loving stewardship. That is, they do not "have dominion" but rather seek to "take dominion" (the phrase that comes up in many of the emails). They seek to wrest dominion from whom they see as the enemy, namely the humanist, liberal establishment of the USA. They are found mainly in America, and their aim could be reasonably summed up by "Let's take over America for God."

The details are under discussion, but the end is clear: take over for God. There is much militarist talk, such as:

"If that seems like a victory for our side, it isn't; the threat of losing big union campaign dollars in the 2000 elections has more clout ..."

which, as this quote alludes, is driven by fear that the 'other side' will gain some advantage. It is, sadly, the time-dishonoured tendency of Christians to see themselves as at war with people and the creation, rather than at war with heavenly principalities and powers.

I agree that having God's informed, mature people rule in the affairs of humankind will bless the world, because such people are God's ambassadors and representatives, and they would be like him. But the God I see in the Bible has a very different attitude than that which came through in most of the CR email. His is a heart of love, "the father-heart of God". God has a love for mercy, rather than for wrath. His laws and justice are for the ordering of right and healthy relationships in all his creation, not just to impose his own way on us. See A New View: Theology and Practice.

Thus, while the Hebrew word radah, used for 'dominion' in Genesis 1, is sometimes used to mean treading down an opposer, in many of its usages God's people are criticized for exercising a harsh radah - e.g. its uses in Leviticus and in Ezekiel 34. The implication is plain: God has given us a ruling role in his creation, in which we are his viceroys and are supposed to be like himself, one who cares deeply. He wants us to rule, not for our own convenience, leisure, pleasure, desires or status, but for the sake of the things or people we are ruling. That is God's heart.

But this is lost on most of the CR stuff that I have read. (It is also lost on many Christians who are not Reconstructionists.)

Love of the Idea of Being in Power

As an offshoot of the above, just like most of humanity, CRs seem to love the idea of taking power, having power and being in power. Not for the sake of those they will serve while in power, but rather to establish their format of society, which they believe is the one that God will bless.

Dismissive of Other Christian Streams

One thing I found disturbing, though it is by no means restricted to CRs, is that they tend to be dismissive of other streams of thought and practice in Christianity. These include anabaptists and charismatics and evangelicals (or those they label as such). They see themselves as heralds of the reformed tradition, and it is true they share with the reformed view the idea that God should be Lord of all aspects of living.

But their attitude I found disturbing. Their language when referring to other streams was disdainful of them. And they did not seem to see that other streams had anything of value to offer them; they alone were near the truth. This is one reason I said that they do not in fact "walk humbly with their God".

Wrong Perspective

What was the real, basic, fundamental, important sin of Sodom? No, it was not homosexuality; that was a mere result or symptom of something deeper, as Romans 1 points out. As God made very clear through the prophet Ezekiel (16:49), the real sin of Sodom was this: that "they were


CRs fall foul of some of these. A major flaw is, as here, a negative one - they fail to be concerned about helping the world's poor and needy. They will claim to be concerned, and will add that the best mechanism for helping the poor and needy, if that's what we want to do, is the market and to remove tax burdens from the shoulders of taxpayers.

Yet this merely evidences that they are overfed. They - most of them in a rich country, the USA - are unwilling to pay taxes to help poor and needy. Put this to (some of) them, and they hide behind talk about mechanisms: government action is not the 'right' mechanism to help poor and needy. God, I read, was not quite so specific as CRs seem to be; maybe God got it wrong! Or, maybe, in truth, CRs have their hearts in places other than concern for the poor and needy - as will be seen from what their concerns really are.

So, they fall foul of being overfed and being unconcerned; do they fall foul of being arrogant, too? I like to think not. Many of them might be aggressive in their language but not overly arrogant. Yet, I'm not sure. Being dismissive of other Christian streams, expressing a desire for dominance and having a sneering attitude all suggest some degree of arrogance.

What seems to have happened is that CRs seem so intent on overcoming the world that they fail to see to what extent the spirit of the world has overcome them.

I do not believe that CRs are nearly as bad as Sodom. But I cannot escape the similarity of their flaws to those of Sodom. God wiped out Sodom; will be wipe out Christian Reconstruction? I doubt it, because they nothing like as bad, but maybe they should take care and reconsider Ezekiel 16:49 - without trying to explain it away.

Focus on Trivial Issues

Jesus criticized many of the religious leaders of his time as attending to the small points of the law while ignoring the 'weightier matters' such as justice. While they are not as bad, CRs tend to do the same.

There was very little discussion of justice; in fact the word 'justice' never once appeared in the subject titles in over 600 emails. Here are some of the topics discussed in the email list:

While such things must be discussed, it was noticable that more important topics were absent from their discussions.

It was just like Jesus said of some religious leaders of his time: "You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel".

Contrary spirit; Too Sneering

Like too many Christians today, CRs tend to be 'against' things rather than for things. That is, apart from the very general ideas of establishing God's rule, they seem to spend more time denouncing things than praising things.

They are, for instance, anti-liberal, anti-socialist, anti-big-business and anti-American-government.

While recognising that this is a relatively new movement, that they are using a new medium to help thrash out new ideas, it was nevertheless disappointing to find such intemperate language in use. Much of what was said was aggressive and sneering. There was too little real argument.

(I found it ironic that the single mention I found on the Kyoto environmental conference lambasted the 'alarmists' (= those who actually care about God's creation) for having no facts, yet gave none itself. It refused to consider that global warming might be a reality and gave as its sole reason for so refusing, that environmentalists had got one prediction wrong in the early 1970s.)

Too American

Yet CR seems riddled with American culture, assumptions and presuppositions, American ways of understanding the world, in terms of power and the assumed superiority of the USA and its way of life.

In practice: Other criteria placed above Word of God

They claim adherence to the Word of God (i.e. Bible) as their authority. Yet, judging not just from the frequency with which criteria were mentioned but also the verbal force of those mentions, the actual reality is different. Many CRs value other criteria over and above God and his Word. It seemed that the main concern of many contributors was that taxpayers' money should not be wasted. Another concern was to be against the current American government.

What I mean was that while some issues were argued, there were some other issues that were simply stated as settling all arguments. They were used - whether knowingly or not - as fundamental and self-evident truths. It was as though the CR community had interpreted Scripture in one way, made deductions from this interpretation, and then started using the results of the deduction as the fundamental truths which settle all arguments and to which all must adhere. Like this:

God --- Scripture --- Interpretation --- Deduction --- Truths

we can see the problem they have landed themselves in - what they take to be fundamental truths is four steps removed from the Living God himself. This is why I said above that that many CRs do not in fact "walk humbly with their God".

The result is that if anyone so much as half questions one of these truths, that person is vilified rather than involved in serious discussion. I was taken aback to find it happening to me. Because it was my interest in the Christian philosopher, Herman Dooyeweerd (he seems to lay down a foundation for a biblical approach to created reality) that led me to be invited onto the list, when I came onto the list I naively asked about his ideas.

The replies I received amazed me. In effect, they said:

"Look at his 'followers' in Toronto and Amsterdam. They have gone all socialist. Therefore his ideas cannot be of God."

Setting aside any logical flaws in such an argument, it interested me that a set of ideas should be resisted simply on the grounds that they led people toward 'socialism'. (Actually, having examined Dooyeweerd's ideas in depth, I find they are anything but socialist, though I can see how a committed right-winger might find them so.)

So I asked "What's wrong with socialism, exactly?" - not to defend it (I am not a socialist, and have never been one) but to hear their reasoned comments on exactly what it was about socialism that is wrong. Again the response astounded me. I received not one single reason. But I received many, many diatribes, such as "It is evil, it is evil, it is evil!". Several times I heard, "Well, that's all been dealt with by VanTil / Rushdoony / North in his book xxxx," but when I asked what were the main points in the book against socialism they did not say.

It seemed to me that the tendency in Christian Reconstructionists is to place anti-socialism as a higher criterion for right living than even the Bible. Subsequently there were many other examples of such thinking, though not involving me: a thing was rejected on the grounds of being 'socialist' (or, sometimes 'liberal'), and that was that.

At least the Jews in Berea would "search the Scriptures daily to see whether what Paul said was so," when faced with something they did not like. Christian Reconstructionists refuse to do that.

An In-Group

Christian Reconstruction seemed like a clique, speaking to and of themselves and their views rather than engaging genuinely with others. May they remain so! So that the poison in their views does not leach out and infect the rest.

This page, "", is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 9 December 1997. Last updated: 11 February 2018 Found that had never been uploaded but still had some value, so filled empty sections, added .end, .nav and uploaded it.