Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Daily Bible Verse

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Painting with a Broad Brush: Evangelicalism and Reconstruction

See:  The Ten Commandments.

[The following is a response to an article, His Truth is Marching On, posted by Chris Smith at the alumni page for the University of California].

By Charlie J. Ray, M. Div.

Liberals just do not get it.  Like atheists who take out of context every Scripture that "appears" to contradict other Scriptures, political and theological liberals think that "all" Evangelicals are theonomists and reconstructionists simply because most Evangelicals believe in the moral law of God and that society should adhere to the moral law.  The distinction between  general principles/moral absolutes for a society and the detailed old testament case law advocated by theonomists in the United States is one that liberals fail to recognize.  They deliberately paint with a broad brush and overgeneralize Evangelicalism as a propaganda tactic.  If they can lump every Evangelical under the banner of theonomy or reconstruction it lends credibility to their agenda to marginalize and ostracize Evangelical religion.  A good example of this is seen in the quote from an online article from the University of Berkley, Rousas John Rushdoony's alma mater:

A small bear of a man with a white beard straight out of the Old Testament, Rushdoony named his headquarters the Chalcedon Foundation, after a 5th-century religious decree declaring God’s law supreme. He believed that modern America was in thrall to the false religion of secularism and that the only path to salvation was to reconstruct the nation according to Biblical law. It was a harsh vision: The federal government would be gutted, public education and Social Security abolished, debtors enslaved, and society reordered along patriarchal lines. Atheists, homosexuals, blasphemers, adulterers, incorrigible children, and a host of other offenders would be executed, as in the Old Testament. Once godly men had reclaimed the country, Jesus would return to usher in the new Kingdom.
Such extreme views made Rushdoony a bogeyman to the Left and marginalized him even among the Right. Nevertheless, many of his ideas have seeped into the conservative mainstream.
Rushdoony died in 2001 at age 84, but multiple candidates in this year’s Republican presidential primaries appeared to be channeling him. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who has made Rushdoonian arguments on everything from taxes to homosexuality, called for the posting of the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and for the nation to return to the Biblical principles upon which she says it was created. The country’s founders, she told a rally in 2003, “recognized the Ten Commandments as the foundation of our laws.”  From:  His Truth is Marching On | CAA

The fear that genuine Christianity strikes into the hearts of pagans and heathens in the liberal left is astounding.  Simply because of a few postmillennialist theonomists, Federal Visionists, and  reconstructionists the left thinks that "mainstream" Evangelicalism has been infiltrated by the evil of Christian morality.  Nevermind that the prohibition against murder and theft are also part of the Decalogue.  (Exodus 20:1-17).  The sixth commandment prohibits murder and the eighth commandment forbids murder.  And despite loosening morals in this country it is still generally considered wrong to commit adultery, which is prohibited in the seventh commandment.  Judging from the slippery slope fallacy then, all of America is in bondage to theonomy because murder and theft are criminal acts in the United States?  Even adultery is still considered morally wrong by the majority of Americans.  Moreover, the logic used by Chris Smith in the linked article is weak at best.  I hardly think that theonomy and reconstruction are singlehandedly responsible for the rise of the Moral Majority or the engagement of Evangelicals in the political processes of our nation.

For liberals the old line fundamentalists and dispensationalists were preferable to the new moral and political consciousness of a great majority of Evangelicals.  Harold Camping is the poster child for the liberal view on the separation of church and state because it is preferable that religious fanatics stay in the closet and withdraw into their private fortresses awaiting a rapture that never seems to arrive.  God forbid that anyone would agree with a postmillennialist view where the world becomes better and better until Christ returns!  No, I am not a postmillennialist.  My own view is amillennialist and I strongly disagree with postmillennialism for the simple reason that the Bible nowhere says the world will become better and better until Christ returns.  I am not a premillennialist or a pre-tribulation rapture person for similar reasons.  It is not taught anywhere in the Bible.  But the point is that postmillennialism has been around way before the Protestant Reformation.  If liberals should fear any church it ought to be the Roman Catholic principle of world domination and the pope's claim to be the vicar of Christ on earth.

Bill Moyer's interview with Rousas John Rushdoony was an attempt to say, "See?  These Evangelicals are 'all' crazy fanatics!  They want to stone homosexuals!"  The sad thing is these propaganda tactics and half truths score political points with those who do not understand Evangelicalism from the inside.  Straw man fallacies may be fallacious but history shows that repeating lies long enough by authority figures in the mainstream media establishes it as "fact" in the minds of the public at large whether or not it is true.  A good example of this is Adolf Hitler's campaign against the Jews where the Jews were said to be subhuman and unworthy of pity or human dignity.  The result of Hitler's propaganda dehumanizing the Jews was the genocide of over six million Jews, not to mention the millions of gypsies and other minority groups and political enemies of the Third Reich.  While the political left is not right wing, their propaganda campaign against religious freedom is a no-holds-barred attempt to make the United States a materialistic and atheistic secular state where religion is the opiate of the people and kept behind closed doors.  

On the other hand, there is no longer any shame or humiliation for acts that used to be considered taboo in society at large.  Now instead of ostracizing those who commit homosexual acts or live in homosexual relationships we see the shameless promotion of immorality as if Christian values are evil and gross perversion is the norm.  Where once abortion was considered the murder of an unborn human person, now we see abortion celebrated as a "woman's right" to kill her own offspring.  She gets off on a technicality.  The viable baby is only a "fetus" until it is actually born and that is true right on up until the moment of birth.  A child that could survive at the second or third trimester is just a "thing" dehumanized by the medical term "fetus".  When Roe v. Wade first became legislated by the Supreme Court in 1971, it was originally intended to be restricted to the first trimester.  Now that window is open for the entire nine months of pregnancy.  These abominations are not just opposed by theonomists and reconstructionists.  Most conservative Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches oppose unjust laws that sanction the murder of the unborn, endorse perverse sexual deviancy, and attack traditional biblical morality regarding the family.

It is amusing that Mr. Smith is afraid of a handful of Evangelicals.  On the other hand, his lack of understanding of the diversity which exists in the Evangelical movement is alarming.  

In case Mr. Smith missed it, not every Evangelical is a theonomist or a reconstructionist, including me.  I have no intention of hiding away somewhere from the totalitarian left.  The left has virtually declared war on democracy, freedom, and religion.  The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are not atheistic documents but clearly founded on theistic principles.  The founding fathers guaranteed that the churches would not be taxed or suppressed by the government.  The fact that the Ten Commandments is engraved on the Supreme Court is proof enough that the moral law of God was intended to be part of the political process.  This is not establishing a particular church or denomination but simply recognizing that in general the views of the nation were pluralistic in regards to Christian denominations and churches.  What it did not mean and could never mean is that atheists have the right to censor, shut down, and silence any religious denomination.  The separation of church and state was not meant to create a materialistic, atheistic socialist state as we see the Democrats trying to do.  The principle of separation of church and state was meant to keep the state from interfering with religious freedom by either prohibiting religion or by establishing a state religion.  The attempt to make atheism the state "religion" is wrong because it make a particular a religious view, namely that there is no god, the established "religion" of the nation.  Mr. Smith does not get it that when Evangelicals are threatened with marginalization and even annihilation by a totalitarian leftist government they can and will utilize the political process to protect their rights.  

Moreover, Evangelicals in general are not theonomists.  They believe the Bible is the basis for the moral conscience of a nation and that certain moral precepts and principles are absolute.  Since the Ten Commandments and Christ's summary of the Decalogue in the two greatest commandments are general principles, it follows that they are not advocating all the particular criminal and civil laws and penalties of the old testament.  In fact, several of the Reformed confessions or doctrinal statements plainly state this principle:

THE Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore there are not to be heard which feign that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises. Although the law given from God by Moses, as touching ceremonies and rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet, notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.  [Thirty-nine Articles of Religion].

This is further substantiated because the Catechism of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer upholds the Ten Commandments as an outline of the moral law or principles that everyone is to live by in a civil society:
YOU said, that your Godfathers and Godmothers did promise for you, that you should keep God's commandments. Tell me how many there be?
    Answer. Ten.
    Question. Which be they?
THE same which God spake in the twentieth Chapter of Exodus, saying, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. . . .  [Catechism].
Although it could be objected that the Ten Commandments are here in the context of the Anglican church and Christianity in general, it is not establishing a particular Christian denomination or church to abide by these principles in a nation at large.  While atheists and members of other world religions enjoy the same religious liberties as anyone else, the suppression of morality in favor of a utilitarian ethics ultimately undermines the very human rights that were produced by the Christian theism inherent in our founding documents.  It could be legitimately argued that in the Christian west democracy is a direct outgrowth of the Christian worldview.  Atheism leads ultimately to totalitarianism as anyone examining Communist China and the former Soviet Union can easily see.

The liberal left is not faithful to the democratic principles of the United States Constitution or the Bill of Rights.  Their agenda is to censor free speech, destroy conservative Christianity, and create a utilitarian socialist state.  Why would they be surprised that Christians would mobilize against such oppression and marginalization?  The title of the article is, "His Truth Is Marching On."  Beside the title is an oversized picture of Rushdoony.  The clear implication Chris Smith wants to convey is that it is Rushdoony's "truth" that is marching on.  For Evangelical Christians the only Person whose truth is marching on is the truth of Jesus Christ.  The Bible alone and Christ alone are our final authority, not Rousas John Rushdoony.  Until the left gets that message they will continue to be surprised by the resistance and the resiliency of conservative and Evangelical Christianity.  We will not withdraw from engagement with the political process.  Of that much the left can be absolutely sure.  It is the "secular theocracy" and postmodernist theocracy of the theological left that wants to establish religion.  Why would Evangelicals not oppose such blatant government attempts to establish a godless religion?

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