Doctrine of God 0003 - Lesson 7

  1. THE WORKS OF GOD (Continued)
    1. Conception (Continued)
      1. The doctrinal system of the Reconstructionists
        1. Reconstructionists are a group of Reformed Protestants (often Presbyterian) who seek a reconstruction of the church/state model that was seen in some countries during the Reformation and was advocated by the Puritans in England. They wish to build society as a new Israel based on the precepts found in the Old Testament law. However, they are not looking for a quick solution or seeking to take over government at some time in the near future (as claimed by some opponents). They are perfectly willing to allow the process to take many years—thousands of years if necessary. To them, all setbacks are temporary.
        2. Although the Reconstructionists are a fairly small group numerically (perhaps best represented by Rousas J. Rushdoony and Gary North), they are important because their influence goes far beyond their size. They are strong both in academics and in activism.
          1. As to academics, Reconstructionism tends to draw intellectual types. They have held teaching posts in several influential seminaries. However, their greatest influence academically comes from the shear volume of their published material. Their philosophical and theological positions are complex and well-developed. The volume of the material makes a full understanding and a critical analysis of their thought difficult. They use this to their advantage, claiming that the extensiveness of their material and the lack of refutation points to the strength of their position. The reasons for little refutation is more likely the following: 1)they are small numerically and have not been taken seriously by many; 2)their many books and complex system make it difficult for most to take the time to refute them; and, 3)they so aggressively respond to any criticism that most people do not want to get caught up in such a web of controversy.
          2. Because of their activism, the Reconstructionists have an influence far beyond their size.
            1. They are strongly opposed to Baptists and the evil influence they perceive the Baptists to have brought on America. They look to the limited religious freedom of the New England colonies as the ideal for America and consider the full freedom of religion gained by the Baptists to be one of the most harmful influences in America.
            2. They actively recruit followers through their university positions, through seminars and tapes, through book, and through other publications.
            3. They have been very active in the homeschool and church-school movements. Rousas J. Rushdoony is said to have founded the homeschool movement with his philosophical approach to education as seen in his popular book, The Messianic Character of American Education. Much of the Christian history of America that is found in Christian school curriculum is either written by Reconstructionists or strongly influenced by them. Because of their prejudices, the Baptist influence on American history is almost totally removed from this curriculum. As a result, many Baptist homeschools and church schools are teaching history that either removes or minimizes the Baptist influence in history. James Beller, author of America in Crimson Red, establishes this influence in his book, The Coming Destruction of the Baptist People.
            4. They are very active in the political process while critical of those activists who do not share their goals of an eventual church-state. Care should be taken in political connections even when they are for a good cause. It is important to find out whose agenda is being sought.
        3. The methods proposed by the Reconstructionists are surprising to many. They promote the use of deceit, of using the system they oppose against itself, of infiltration, and other dishonest methods in order to bring about their ultimate goals. In this, they are very akin to the Jesuits.
        4. The doctrinal system of the Reconstructionists has been summarized by themselves as the combination of five other doctrinal systems: Presuppositionalism as taught by Cornelius Van Til, Calvinism, Covenant Theology, Theonomy, and Postmillennialism.
          1. Calvinism, Covenant Theology, and Postmillennialism are dealt with in other places.
          2. Presuppositionalism
            1. This approach builds on the idea that no one of any persuasion can think about anything without starting from certain presumed ideas; that is, presuppositions. Presuppositions include ideas like 1)the world is a real world and not imaginary; 2)the world operates by cause and effect; 3)there is a God; 4)there is not a God; and so on. Since everyone begins with certain presuppositions, there is no such thing as a neutral starting point for argument. Therefore, the best way to defend Christianity is to begin openly with its presuppositions and then prove that this is the only system that makes sense out of the world.
            2. Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) was a Christian theologian who developed an elaborate approach to apologetics using this approach. His approach began with the major teachings of Reformed theology (including Calvinism) as his presuppositions and he developed his arguments from there. His approach can be summarized as follows:
              1. If God does not exist, the world is unintelligible.
              2. But since the world is intelligible and the only explanation for that intelligibility is the existence of God, then God exists.
            3. Although there is some merit to the presuppositionalism of Val Til, there are also some serious weaknesses. For one thing, he does not just claim that the universe cannot be understood apart from God; he claims that it cannot be understood apart from the entire Calvinistic theology. He teaches that only this system brings meaning to the universe and attempts to prove this by his philosophy. He also discounts all attempts to establish the existence of God, the validity of the Bible, etc., by other proofs. To argue in favor of the existence of God is to claim that neutral ground for the argument exists and that must be rejected if there is no such thing as neutral knowledge.
          3. Literally, theonomy means the law of God.
            1. Theonomists teach that all human society should be order according to the law of God, specifically that law as given to Moses. Gary North explains: “the Bible presents mankind with a God-mandated set of social, economic, educational, political, and legal principles that God expects His people to use as permanent blueprints for the total reconstruction of every society on earth.
            2. Theonomy applies the Law of Moses to modern society according to a couple of basic principles.
              1. The commands of the Law are considered to be binding today except in those cases where the New Testament either modifies them or sets them aside in some way.
              2. The particular commands of the Law are looked at as case laws. That is, they sample applications of the principles of the Law of God. As such, they can be analyzed to determine the underlying principles and these principles can in turn be applied to a host of modern situations.
            3. There are several weaknesses to the theonomic system.
              1. It runs counter to the plain New Testament teaching that we are no longer under the rule of the Old Testament law (Romans 6:14-16; Romans 7:4-6; Galatians 3:23-25; Galatians 5:18). They call those who deny the direct rule of the law antinominians (meaning against the law) and accuse them of heresy.
              2. Their claim to obey the law runs into many problems that are glossed over by emphasizing the principles behind the laws and not the laws themselves. Otherwise they would be requiring some strange practices for the Gentiles of today. Certainly, important precepts can be learned from the teachings of the law, but that is not the same as saying we are still under its rule and then altering what it says in order to hold to that claim.
              3. Theonomy confuses the distinction between Israel and the church, a problem held in common with Covenant Theology and Postmillennialism. See 1 Corinthians 10:32.
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.