Part 2: Question 11: Is Revolution the Way to Advance God’s Kingdom?

Gary North and Gary Demar

Narrated By: Daniel Banuelos & Devan Lindsey
Book: Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t


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Chapter Text

Do Reconstructionists Believe That Revolution is the Way to Advance God’s Kingdom?

One of the major distortions of postmillennial and Reconstructionist teaching is that this position leads to revolutionary militancy. Some premillennial writers have attempted to paint postmillennialism in blood-red colors. Norman Geisler writes:

Many evangelicals are calling for civil disobedience, even revolution, against a government. Francis Schaeffer, for example, insisted that Christians should disobey government when “any office commands that which is contrary to the word of God.” He even urges a blood revolution, if necessary, against any government that makes such laws. He explains that “in a fallen world, force in some form will always be necessary.”[1]

What makes this comment particularly interesting is the fact that Schaeffer was a premillennialist, not a postmillennialist. Geisler admits that this is true, but then adds that “it appears that in actual practice at this point his views were postmillennial.” This is certainly a strange and a very deceptive argument. Geisler cites Francis Schaeffer, a premillennialist, to try to show that the postmillennial position encourages revolution. And Schaeffer is the only writer whom Geisler cites. Geisler does not cite a single postmillennial writer who advocates revolution, so it is sheer bias on his part to conclude that Schaeffer is operating as a postmillennialist.

Modern postmillennial Reconstructionists are not revolutionary because they have a more consistently biblical view of the future. Reconstructionists generally believe they have time, lots of time, to accomplish their ends. Moreover, they are not revolutionary because they believe that Christians achieve leadership by living righteously. Dominion is by ethical service and work, not by revolution. Thus, there is no theological reason for a postmillennialist to take up arms at the drop of a hat. Biblical postmillennialists can afford to wait for God to judge ungodly regimes, bide their time, and prepare to rebuild upon the ruins. Biblical postmillennialists are not pacifists, but neither are they revolutionaries.

Biblical postmillennialism provides the Christian with a long-term hope. Because of his long time-frame, the postmillennialist can exercise that chief element of true biblical faith: patience. Because he is confident that the Lord has given him time to accomplish the Lord’s purposes, the postmillennialist need not take things into his own, sinful hands. The Lord will exalt us when He is ready, and when He knows that we are ready. Our calling is to wait patiently, praying and preparing ourselves for that responsibility, and working all the while to advance His kingdom. Historically, Christians who lack this long-term hope have taken things into their own hands, inevitably with disastrous consequences. Far from advocating militancy, biblical postmillennialism protects against a short-term revolutionary mentality.

Reconstructionists believe that Christians should follow the examples of biblical characters such as Joseph, Daniel, and Jesus Christ Himself. Joseph and Daniel both exercised enormous influence within the world’s greatest empires. But they attained their positions by hard work, perseverance in persecution and suffering, and faithful obedience. Jesus Christ attained to His throne only by enduring the suffering of the cross. Christians are no different. We are not to attain positions of leadership by revolution or rebellion. Instead, we are to work at our callings, and wait on the Lord to place us in positions of influence, in His time.[2]

Gary North has called those who wish to advance the kingdom by revolution “romantic revolutionaries.”[3] This is not a recent emphasis in North’s writings. His first major book was Marx’s Religion of Revolution, in which he insisted that “faithful men will remain orderly in all the aspects of their lives; they are not to create chaos in order to escape from law (Rom. 13; I Cor. 14:40). It is reserved for God alone to bring his total judgment to the world.” In the biblical worldview, “it is God, and only God, who initiates the change.”[4] North has pointed out repeatedly that the kingdom of God advances ethically as the people of God work out their salvation with fear and trembling. Revolutionaries are lawless. Their time frame is short. In fact, one of Dr. North’s books, Moses and Pharaoh, is subtitled Dominion Religion versus Power Religion. Power Religion, he writes,

is a religious viewpoint which affirms that the most important goal for a man, group, or species, is the capture and maintenance of power. Power is seen as the chief attribute of God, or if the religion is officially atheistic, then the chief attribute of man. This perspective is a satanic perversion of God’s command to man to exercise dominion over all the creation (Gen. 1:26-28). It is the attempt to exercise dominion apart from covenantal subordination to the true Creator God.

What distinguishes biblical dominion religion from satanic power religion is ethics.[5]

Still, the Bible teaches that we are at war, and that we must prepare for it. The apostle Paul tells Christians to “put on the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6: 11). At first, even Pilate considered Jesus’ kingdom to be militaristic and political (John 18:28-40). In Acts, the Christians were described as a sect preaching “another king, Jesus” (Acts 17:7). These were the forerunners of The People for the American Way. They said of the first-century Christians, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus” (vv. 6-7). There was another king, but those outside of Christ put a political and revolutionary slant on Christ’s kingship.

[1] Norman Geisler, “A Premillennial View of Law and Government,” The Best in Theology, gen. ed. J. I. Packer (Carol Stream, IL: Christianity Today, 1986), p. 261-62. A revised version of this article appears as “A Dispensational Premillennial View of Law and Government” in J. Kerby Anderson, ed., Living Ethically in the 90s (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1990), pp. 149-67.

[2] See David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), pp. 511-12; James B. Jordan, “Rebellion, Tyranny, and Dominion in the Book of Genesis,” in Gary North, ed., Tactics of Christian Resistance, Christianity and Civilization No.3 (Tyler, TX: Geneva Ministries, 1983), pp. 38-80.

[3] Gary North, “Editor’s Introduction,” Christianity and Civilization, Number 3 (Summer 1983), pp. xxxii-xxxvii.

[4] North, Marx’s Religion of Revolution (Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1968), p. 99. This same quotation appears in the revised second edition (1989) on page 86.

[5] (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1985), p. 2. Dr. North distinguishes among “Power Religion,” “Escapist Religion,” and “Dominion Religion” (pp. 2-5). He makes it very clear that “Power Religion” is a militant religion that is unlawful and counterproductive.