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Christian Reconstructionism, etc.

Definitions and brief description;
Political and religious program

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Background & definitions:

Dominionism, Dominion Theology, Christian Reconstructionism, Theocratic Dominionism, Kingdom Now theology, and Theonomy are not denominations or faith groups. Rather, they are interrelated belief systems that are followed by some members of a wide range of extreme fundamentalist Protestant denominations.

They are unrelated to:
bulletReconstructionist Judaism, which is a liberal group within Judaism.
 
bulletRestorationism (a.k.a. "Restorationist Movement") This is a group of largely unrelated Christian denominations who share one important belief in common -- that Christianity went terribly astray early in its history only to be restored in modern times. They include groups as diverse as the Christadelphians, Community of Christ, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons)

Generally speaking:

bulletDominionism & Dominion Theology are is partly based on Genesis 1:26 of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament):

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground'." (NIV)

Most Christians interpret this verse as meaning that God gave mankind dominion over the animal kingdom. Dominion theologians believe that that this verse commands Christians to bring all governments, societies, and cultures worldwide, under the rule of the Word of the Judeo-Christian God as they interpret it to be.
 

bulletTheonomy is Greek for "God's Law". A former essay on The Chalcedon Foundation website -- the main Christian Reconstructionist explained that:

"God's revealed standing laws are a reflection of His immutable moral character and, as such, are absolute in the sense of being nonarbitrary, objective, universal, and established in advance of particular circumstances (thus applicable to general types of moral situations)." 1,2,3

Thus, each of the 613 laws given to Moses and recorded in the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Hebrew Scriptures) are binding on people of all nations, cultures, and religions forever, except for those laws which have been specifically rescinded or modified by further revelation -- typically in the Christian Scriptures (a.k.a. New Testament).
 

bulletChristian Reconstructionism is a political reform movement that arose out of Calvinism theology in the early 1970's. Many in the movement are conservative Presbyterians. Followers believe "that every area dominated by sin must be 'reconstructed' in terms of the Bible." 3

The term Reconstructionism has been used to refer to various combinations of the preceding three terms. This type of confusion is common in the field of religion. Many theological terms such as Christian, Fundamentalist, Occult, New Age, Reconstructionism, Unitarian etc. have been assigned so many different interpretations by different groups in different eras that they are almost meaningless.

Reconstructionism can be traced to Rushdoony's book "Institutes of Biblical Law" published in 1973, 4 and to his subsequent founding of the Chalcedon Institute in Vallecito, CA.

Some Reconstructionism beliefs are often found in fundamentalist non-reconstructionists including D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, Franky Schaeffer, John Whitehead, and the late Jerry Falwell. 5

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Reconstructionism's political and religious program:

Reconstructionism represents one of the most extreme forms of Fundamentalist Christianity thought found in the U.S. Its followers are attempting to peacefully convert the laws of United States so that they match those of the Hebrew Scriptures. They intend to facilitate this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools. Later, their graduates will be charged with the responsibility of creating a new Bible-based political, religious and social order.

One of the first tasks of this order will be to eliminate religious choice and freedom. Their eventual goal is to achieve the "Kingdom of God" in which much of the world is converted to Christianity. They feel that the power of God's word will bring about this conversion peacefully. No armed force or insurrection will be needed; in fact, they believe that there will be little opposition to their plan. People will willingly accept it. All that needs to be done is to properly explain it to them. If, as many commentators predict, conversion of the U.S. to a theocracy is met with opposition, Dominionists may have to revert to force.

All religious organizations, congregations etc. other than strictly fundamentalist Christianity would be suppressed. Nonconforming evangelical, main line and liberal Christian religious institutions would no longer be allowed to hold services, organize, proselytize, etc. Society would revert to the laws and punishments of the Hebrew Scriptures. Any person who advocated or practiced other religious beliefs outside of their home would be tried for idolatry and executed if found guilty. Blasphemy, adultery and homosexual behavior would be criminalized; those found guilty would also be executed.

At that time that this essay was originally written, this was the only religious movement in North America of which we were aware which advocates genocide for followers of minority religions and non-conforming members of their own religion. Since then, we have learned of two conservative Christian pastors in Texas who independently advocated the execution of all Wiccans.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Rev. Andrew Saldlin, "The Creed of Christian Reconstruction," at: http://www.chalcedon.edu/ (No longer online)
  2. Greg Bahnsen, "By This Standard," Pages 345-347. Available free at http://www.freebooks.com
  3. Rev. Andrew Saldlin, "The Creed of Christian Reconstruction," at: http://www.chalcedon.edu/
  4. R.J. Rushdoony, "The Institutes of Biblical Law", Craig Press, Nutley, NJ (1973), P. 257.
  5. John Beardsley, "Dominion Theology/Kingdom Now/Recostuctionism: Blessing or Curse?," Biblical Discernment Ministries, (1997), at: http://www.rapidnet.com/

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Copyright © 1998 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-AUG-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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