Blog Against Theocracy Part II: A Taste Of Rushdoony
In this post, I begin our direct encounter with theocracy with some excerpts from Joseph Morecraft’s book, With Liberty & Justice for All: Christian Politics Made Simple. We’ll start with the introduction entitled “The Theology of Politics,” which was written not by Morecraft but rather the founder of “Christian Reconstruction,” the late Rousas John Rushdoony. You can find plenty of information about Rushdoony on the Web, but here are a few things to help you approach this material. The ideas touched upon by Rushdoony here will be developed in detail by Joe Morecraft in the main body of his book.
First of all, Christian Reconstruction is sometimes classified as the far right edge of the Religious Right, fairly close to the violent madness of Eric Rudolph and Christian Identity. I’m no scholar but I think that may be mistaken. With some very important differences duly noted, I think that Christian Reconstruction - with some important exceptions - is closer to the goals of theocrats like Dobson, Robertson, et al. Christian Reconstructionist texts, however, employ a very blunt, pull no punches, language, even in comparison to the crude style of men like Robertson and Falwell.
To put it differently, so it’s clear. Christian Reconstruction should not be thought the "religion" of men like, say, Dobson. However, when their use of language and their obsessions are examined closely, the commonality of objective is apparent: the establishment of an American theocracy. The rhetoric that Rushdoony uses gets echoed by the more "acceptable" theocrats, toned down, cleaned up (the word "theocracy" is replaced with "Christian Republic," eg), and then injected into the mainstream discourse on church and state (in a manner common to other extreme rightwing activism, as exposed and described in detail by David Neiwert on his blog,).
However – and this is critical - men like Dobson, Scalia, Santorum, Falwell, and Robertson are not, repeat NOT, followers of Rushdoony, and in some places strongly disagree with him. . (And to make matters more complicated, there are – happily, I should add - numerous schisms within the Christian Reconstruction movement and similar groups.) All of that said, you will notice similarities of language and concerns between the so-called extremist Rushdoony, his follower Morecraft, and the more “moderate” christianists we have all become far too familiar with.
One other point. You may think Rushdoony’s ideas as to be beneath serious notice. Therefore, please note that a major funder of Rushdoony's Christian Reconstrucion, billionaire Howard Ahmanson, funded the “intelligent design” creationism initiative at the Discovery Institute (Ahmanson sits on the board). That's correct: Major funding for "Intelligent design" creationism is linked directly to the ideas you will encounter here.Ahmanson also funds the Claremont Foundation, a rightwing cultural thinktank, and funded the recall initiative of California's governor Gray Davis. These are only a few of the initiatives Ahmanson has taken to advance the rightwing, and often specifically Republican, agenda.
That should give you some notion of how far at least one political operative directly involved in Christian Reconstruction has advanced into mainstream American politics. And how much influence he has had. The enormous amount of time American scientists have wasted in the fight against "intelligent design" creationism is just one of many examples of the major damage theocrats directly cause.
Excerpts from “The Theology of Politics” by Rousas John Rushdoony.
Printed as the introduction to the book, Amazon.com: With Liberty & Justice for All: Christian Politics Made Simple by Joe Morecraft III.
NOTE: All punctuation and emphases are in the original. Page numbers refer to the 1995 paperback edition of Morecraft’s book. My comments are in brackets and in upper case. I did not check all of Morecraft’s biblical references. Please inform me of any inaccuracies.
An area of study much neglected in the past two centuries or more, is the theology of politics. [NOTE: RUSHDOONY IS SAYING “THE THEOLOGY OF POLITICS” HAS BEEN NEGLECTED EVER SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE UNITED STATES.] Political thinking has become secularized and humanistic to the point that to speak about the relationship of God to politics is for many to introduce an alien factor into the discussion. (p. 6.)
The starting point of biblical thought is the fact of creation. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1) This creating God is not some vaguely non-partisan deity who belongs equally to a variety of religions and philosophies. He is the triune God; He is the father of Jesus Christ [NOTE: ONE OF RUSHDOONY’S POINTS IS TO CLAIM A BIBLICAL JUSTIFICATION FOR RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE. MORECRAFT WILL MAKE THIS MORE EXPLICIT LATER.] …John begins his gospel by making this identification
1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made (John 1:1-3)
Thus politics cannot be a neutral realm…All things are under God and His government.
Moreover, we are plainly told that He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords (II Timothy 6:15) is our Lord Jesus Christ. This means that, first, there can be no religiously neutral political system. All are either under Christ or against Him…
Second, this means that we must have a theology of politics, one based on the whole word of God. Such a theology must apply Scripture to every facet of political life.
Third, because social order is a moral fact, and morality is a branch of theology, a lack of faith among the people, and an indifference to theological order by the state, soon means a moral decay and social collapse.
Fourth, a civil government is not a church and is thus not involved in church matters nor in ecclesiastical doctrines, but it must affirm a biblical faith if it is to avoid social collapse. [NOTE: THIS IS HOW RUSHDOONY AND OTHER CHRISTIANISTS UNDERSTAND THE MEANING OF “SEPARATION OF CHURCH OF STATE.” AGAIN, MORECRAFT WILL EXPAND UPON THIS]…This does not mean a creedal stand by the state….A sound theology of politics must begin in the lives of the people and manifest itself in the churches. If it is not in the people nor in the Church, it will not be in the state.
Fifth, in terms of Scripture, Church and state are both ministries under God. The church is a ministry of grace, and the state is a ministry of justice. Note that in neither case should we limit the ministries…we dare not forget that God’s grace reaches men through a variety of channels. The same is true of civil governments; the world would be a bleak and fearful place if justice existed only within the machinery of the state. Our parents routinely administered justice to us, as do churches, employers, and a variety of groups and persons…We must see the ministerial nature of civil government without limiting justice to the state. (pp. 6-8) [NOTE: RUSHDOONY INSISTS UPON A HIGHLY CIRCUMSCRIBED CIVIL GOVERNMENT WHICH SHARES SECULAR POWER WITH THE CHURCH, PARENTS, EMPLOYERS, AND, IMPORTANTLY, UNNAMED OTHERS TO ADMINISTER JUSTICE.
MORECRAFT WILL EXPAND THIS INTO A THEORY OF GOVERNMENT LIMITED ONLY TO A HIGHLY PUNITIVE JUDICIARY AND PENAL SYSTEM WITH VIRTUALLY NO OTHER FUNCTION OR POWER. THE GOVERNMENT WILL COLLECT ONLY A SMALL “FLAT TAX.]
Theology By Other Means
The major point that Rushdoony makes is that, to paraphrase Clausewitz, politics is theology by other means. That said, do not be misled into thinking that Rushdoony explicitly advocates a state that legislates Christian morality. As Morecraft, makes clear, that is never the state’s role.
What goes unstated by both theocrats, however, is that while the state is forbidden to interfere in church affairs, the church is not so constrained. Furthermore, the church has the right to administer justice as well as the state. AND the church has the obligation, from God, to judge the morality of all citizens of the state, including non-Christians. Moral behavior entails strict obedience to God’s laws as set forth in the Bible. And, as you will see, strict punishment for disobedience to God.