THE PIETIST-HUMANIST KINGDOM
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
John 18:36; New King James Version
The standard, run-of-the-mill response to the message of Christian political responsibility rests on a faulty reading of Jesus’ words to Pilate regarding His kingdom. What was really involved? Jesus was explaining to Pontius Pilate how He could be a king, yet also be standing before Pilate to be judged. Pilate was implicitly asking: How could Jesus be a king? Where were His defenders? Where were His troops?
Jesus’ point was clear: the source of His kingly authority is not earthly. His kingdom is not of this world. The source of His authority as king is from far above this world. His is a transcendent kingdom.
Nevertheless, this kingdom also has earthly manifestations. Rahab, a former pagan harlot, understood this much, for she confessed to the Hebrew spies, “The Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (Joshua 2:11b). She understood that God’s kingdom was about to replace Jericho’s kingdom. She understood that God’s kingdom does have earthly manifestations politically. There are millions of Christians today who have yet to come to grips with Rahab’s confession of faith.
At the time of His crucifixion, Jesus said that His kingdom was not then geographically “from here.” That is, it did not yet have institutional, visible power on earth. “But now My kingdom is not from here.” Nevertheless, His words implied that at some time in the future, His kingdom would indeed possess institutional power. He would then have His defenders.
Three centuries later, Christians took over the administration of the shattered remains of the Roman Empire. God’s kingdom by then was visible in a way that Pilate could not have foreseen or foretold. Christ had visibly defeated Caesar, not in the sense of being physically on the same throne that the Caesars had occupied, but through His people. His people now brought judicial sanctions in history.
This brief chapter uses politics as a launching pad for a discussion of Christian Reconstruction, yet Christian Reconstruction is only peripherally related to politics. As the co-founder of the Christian Reconstruction movement, my political slogan is: “Politics fourth!” Concern about politics should come only after one’s personal conversion to Jesus Christ. Politics is an aspect of evangelism – comprehensive evangelism – but it should never be allowed to become a substitute for personal evangelism. Political reform should come only after the reform of the church and the reform of the family, in this order.
The modern church hates the very thought of comprehensive evangelism. It hates the greatness of the Great Commission. Christians want to narrowly define evangelism in order to reduce their comprehensive responsibility before God. Writes Peter Masters, heir of Spurgeon’s pulpit at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London: “Reconstructionists teach that the great commission of Christ to His disciples goes beyond the work of evangelism. In their view it includes this quest for the social-political dominion of the world; the persuading of all nations to submit to the rule of Israel’s ancient laws.”
Notice his phrase, “beyond the work of evangelism.” Into this brief phrase is packed an entire worldview, the worldview of Christian pietism. Evangelism is narrow, he presumes. To discuss men’s requirements to obey the laws set forth in the Old Testament is necessarily to discuss social transformation. These laws deal with all aspects of society. In Masters’ view, all such discussions are peripheral to evangelism.
God has set forth requirements to His people concerning their earthly responsibilities for constructing His comprehensive kingdom. Christians are required by God to become active in building God’s visible kingdom. But most people today think “politics” when they hear the word “activism.” Such a conclusion is incorrect. This formula, “politics = activism,” is the error of the modern humanist and the ancient pagan; it should not be the error of the Christian. Society is far broader than mere politics. Social transformation involves far more than politics. It involves personal and institutional regeneration.
Salvation by Grace, Not Law
The message of the Bible is clear: we are saved by grace through faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ at Calvary. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet the very next verse reminds us that we are given eternal life so that we might perform good works in history: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
This was the message of the Old Testament, too. The prophet Habakkuk said: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). God is more interested in righteousness than in precise ritual. The prophet Micah said: “Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:6-8). This message has not changed.
Christian Reconstructionists are falsely accused of saying that men are saved in some way through political activism. This is utter nonsense. Men are saved by grace through faith, and nothing else. R. J. Rushdoony, who was the primary early developer of the Christian Reconstruction viewpoint (1963-73), made this plain in 1973. He had this to say about social and political progress: “The key is regeneration, propagation of the gospel, and the conversion of men and nations to God’s law-word.” Again, “The key to social renewal is individual regeneration.” Critics who accuse Christian Reconstructionists of teaching a doctrine of political salvation are spreading a grotesque falsehood. If they had read our materials – and very few of the published critics have – they would know better. They are bearing false witness, long after we have published detailed clarifications of a position that was already clarified in numerous other works.
Nevertheless, political activism is one of the ways that righteousness is expressed in history. Why should Christians deny this? Surely, one of the factors that led to the anti-Communist upheavals in Eastern Europe in late 1989 was the self-conscious stand taken by church members in many of the satellite nations. What are we to say, that the courageous stand taken by those pastors and churches in several denominations was totally misguided, “getting religion mixed up with politics,” and an improper application of biblical principles to history? Rev. Laszlo Tokes, the Hungarian pastor who sparked the Romanian Revolution, “put God at the head of Europe’s liberation movement: ‘Eastern Europe is not just in a political revolution but a religious renaissance.’ “
Yet this is what all those who oppose Christian Reconstructionism’s view of biblical responsibility do implicitly deny. They have forgotten that righteous civil government is a legitimate means of evangelism, a testimony to the spiritually lost of the greatness of God’s deliverance in history:
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8).
Contemporary Christianity has long forgotten about this tradition of evangelism through law. It has therefore forfeited politics to the enemies of Christ, especially the modern humanists, who see no salvation outside the true “church” of politics – the same way that the residents of the ancient Greek polis (city-state) viewed salvation. Contemporary humanists do understand the implications of evangelism through law, and like the humanists of ancient Rome, they despise it. It threatens their control in history.
 Gary North, Political Polytheism: T1uJ Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), p. 559.
 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Greatness of the Great Commission (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990).
 Masters, “World Dominion: The High Ambition of Reconstructionism,” Sword & Trowel (May 24, 1990), p. 13.
 R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, New Jersey: Craig Press, 1973), p. 113.
 Ibid., p. 122.
 Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to
Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1988); Gary DeMar, The Debate Over Christian Reconstruction (Ft. Worth, Texas: Dominion Press, 1988); Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Howe Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989).
 Barbara Reynolds, “Religion is Greatest Story Ever Missed,” USA Today (March 16, 1990), p. 13A