Friday, December 7, 2007

Dominion or Tyranny?

by Sara Robinson
" This is a new and ugly phase in the history of Christian America. Whenever one group begins to assert a legitimate, God-given, government-approved right to dominate and deny rights to others, it's also another ominous sign of creeping proto-fascism.
We are now sharing this country with a substantial class of people who not only harbor the fierce belief that they are superior to the rest of us -- yes, a master race, and their rhetoric is starting to work that meme as well -- they also believe that the future of the country is at immediate risk unless the non-believers are restrained and subdued, placed under total control of their betters. Further: they believe that they are justified by God to do this by any means necessary -- within or without the Constitution. "

My first introduction to Christian Reconstructionism came via cassette tapes of sermons by the late D. James Kennedy that my high school teacher* would occasionally play for my class in Christian school. We had devotions every morning wherein we would pledge the flags and the Bible, recite our Scripture memory passage, sing a few songs, and then have a period of devotions. Every school day, I had the opportunity to listen to the wisdom of the man I call my great mentor*, a post that I reassigned to my husband when my former teacher died several years ago. I was 13 when I first heard Kennedy's teachings about our sacred duty to uphold righteous standards as provided for by the laws of our land. I took notes like a wild woman, for I'd never heard anyone preach a sermon quoting Thomas Jefferson. I felt much like a starving man who had just been given a piece of warm, moist, nourishing bread. A few weeks later, I absorbed another of Kennedy's sermons like a dry sponge. Many of the words of Patrick Henry that Kennedy quoted still glow hot in my brain. Another that comes to mind is Kennedy on the UN as a modern day tower of Babel. I still agree with his teaching.

This was my impression of Christian Reconstructionism. God had given America a miraculous opportunity to live in a land with guaranteed religious freedom that required good stewardship on behalf of its citizens. I understood well that our Founding Fathers all shared a Christian worldview, even the deists like Jefferson of whom the other orthodox Christian founding fathers must have approved rather than tolerated. They all, together, ratified the Constitution, much of which Jefferson borrowed from the writings of John Locke. 

And these men worked together to ensure against a theocracy so that we all might never suffer under a tyrannical despot like King George ever again. They provided as best they could to see that no man would ever suffer discrimination based on their religion. If those great men wished to make America a Protestant nation expressly, they would have provided for it. They did not because they delegated that responsibility to the people, 98% of whom were Protestant at that time. Enlightenment thought played a major role in the formulation of our government in concert with a very Christian worldview, but America was able to transcend the Modernist elements of Enlightenment because the source of our liberty was derived from God and not man. The Constitution of the United States took the best elements of the Enlightenment and brought them under the Authority of the Lord and the Word. The maintenance of that trust was handed to the people by means of representative government.

However, the tide has turned. Over the past ten years (it has been nearly 25 years since I first heard D. James Kennedy), things seem very different to me. Over recent years, I note the trend that Sara Robinson, the writer I quote here, observes -- Christian Reconstruction seems more interested in domination and control than in the sovereignty of dominion of all the people. Tocqueville said that "America would be great" so long as we could remain good, a reference that I heard Kennedy quote often. We are no longer good and ethical as a nation, and I wonder whether most Christian Reconstructionists are any better? 

We committed Christians should certainly endeavor fervently to restore what previous generations have unfaithfully guarded and should seek to establish Christian standards as the most potent influences in our society, but I do not believe that we are afforded the liberty to do so by domination, manipulation and/or control of those who believe differently. It is the populist that has the liberty to try, but I question whether one can claim tyrannical methods as Christian methods by citing the example of Rahab? This is of particular concern when certain Christian groups (those who teach pagan Roman doctrines of patriarchy under a Biblical guise) question and deny the Christian status of other brethren whom they deem to be blasphemers of the Word because of intramural and doctrinal disagreements within true Biblical Christianity.

The end destination of re-establishing goodness does in no way justify totalism and tyranny as a means of accomplishing any righteous end. It does not justify discrimination and it does not justify punishment of those who hold to differing views. (…not under the Constitution of the US, anyway.) Society's paradigm shift away from God does not rob society of the rights that the Constitution provides them. It places a greater burden on the Christian to be instruments bringing true reformation to the lost within the society first. Then, men will then be prepared to dutifully administrate the sacred trust of representative government with which God has so richly blessed all US citizens of all beliefs.

Jesus neither dominated nor coerced anyone. (That day yet awaits us when He does return to the earth to rule and reign, and of THAT Kingdom, there will be no end.) Jesus was gentle and easy, speaking boldly against those who dominated and exploited earnest people when He confronted the Pharisees. Some Christians believe that Judas was acting to try to force Jesus into a political standoff to establish His Kingdom within the government of the day. But Jesus said that His Kingdom was not of this world. I don't believe that He would advocate tyrannical or collectivistic or manipulative means to see America restored from where she has fallen either. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We may never see America restored to her Christian roots, the original source of her initial freedoms, since a declining number of citizens believe in a true Christian God. This is indeed a very sad tragedy. However, does that give a certain band of Christians the right to seize political power and discriminate – even against their own brethren – in this postmodern, post-Christian era? Clearly, I think not, for what it's worth. I’m particularly inclined, because that certain band of Christians deems me errant and in violation of the Word of God for voicing my opinions on these matters in a public forum. I wonder what my fate would be if these men could enjoy the benefit of political power that a theocracy would afford them?

The ideologies that compete against Christianity may well be theocracies, differing only from a Christian theocracy in that they serve other gods (regardless of whether they actually identify them). “Every worldview is its own type of theocracy so why not the patriarchalists’ version?” I suspect that I would be easily dismissed by those on their way to proto-fascism as one who believes that “every man can be his own God” for embracing “antinomian” Classical Liberalism or a libertarian outlook (that view which I have always held having nothing to do with the liberal left). 

And granted, most people in our nation now wrongly believe that America is a democracy and not a constitutional republic, but therein lies part of the problem. However, does that support our right as Christians in this contemporary society to overrun those who believe differently, an inherent and inalienable *right [late entry: *believing differently] as provided for and protected by our Constitution? We’ve already declared independence from that type of tyranny.
I think that it's very sad that more liberal writers are speaking with greater perspicuity on this issue than are most conservative Evangelicals, acknowledging that I site and reference some liberal sources here. It grieves me deeply that this is necessary.

* My “great mentor” is the late Pastor Michael P. Hanks, graduate of Lee College (now University) in Cleveland, TN and of Regent University. He was an undergraduate student of Dr. Robert O’Bannon, professor emeritus of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at Lee, who revered and faithfully taught the writings of the Francis Schaeffer. I had the blessing of meeting Dr. O’Bannon and the opportunity to share my gratitude for preparing my mentor so well. It is my great aspiration that my writing brings them honor, as I don’t believe for an instant that either of them would take issue with this post. I don’t believe that Francis Schaeffer would either.