2020 Vision/The Year Many Christians Began to See Clearly

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Introduction

To review, things are quite a mess. Not only are they quite a mess, but it is difficult to imagine that the pickle we have gotten ourselves into would have been at all visible from the vantage point of the eighties, say. Let us pretend that some mischievous hippie back then slipped some acid into a coke that Rousas Rushdoony was drinking, and thus it was he began to prophesy wildly. He wouldn’t have able to come anywhere near what we are currently being confronted with, on almost a daily basis—as reported to us by news anchors with straight faces on top of everything else.

It is high time, I would therefore suggest, for someone to orchestrate a new release of Christian Reconstruction. We can call it Christian Reconstruction 2.0 with all bugs removed, and all the features retained. This time out, the recons would be best known for the love they bore toward one another, the Christians who were not recons would be best known for not misrepresenting what the recons were actually trying to say, and the secularists would be crazier than ever, and which is why I am even  writing about all of this, actually.

After all, if all the overheated and dire predictions about what the theonomic agenda might entail came true, it wouldn’t be half as bad as 2019 was. I mean, all the Deuteronomic blessings, and with half the crazy!

So allow me to present . . .

Eleven Features of Christian Reconstruction 2.0  

Please feel free to circulate any or all of these items as freely as you can, and don’t bother about giving credit. In fact, now that we mention it, since my reputation as Toxic Boy is not going to be gone until sometime in 2024, it might be best if you made a point of not giving me credit.[1] And if somebody presses you on where you got that crazy idea about biblical absolutism, say, you can always just say Augustine or somebody like that. Pretty much any figure from church history except for the last fifty years would be fairly safe.

So here we go.

Gospel Front and Center

As it is not possible to make a good omelet with rotten eggs, even with the best recipe, or with superb equipment, the first order of business is always to deal with the eggs first. Without that, the finest vision for the best social order is going to wind up as a ghastly hellhole that virtually everyone can fit into. The people involved in the project have to be right with God, and be walking with Him.

And in order to be right with God, it is necessary for sinful men and women to recognize that we all have rebelled against God, both in the sin of our first father, and in our subsequent copycat sins following after. As the damage was done by the first Adam, it could only be undone by another Adam, and so God sent Christ to fulfill that role—to be the head of a reconstituted human race. So He lived a perfect sinless life on our behalf, was betrayed by one of His disciples, was nailed to a cross of wood, and while there experienced the wrath of a holy God as though all of it was poured over His head and shoulders. He died under the curse of that wrath, and God vindicated Him three days later by raising Him up from the dead for our justification.

We enter into that justification by faith alone, and even that faith is a gift from God—lest it occur to anyone to start bragging about their forgiveness. We believe in Him rightly when we look to the crucified and risen Christ, and trust God to put us right with Him on the basis of that, plus nothing else.

This happening to a lot of people is the foundation of everything else. 

Biblical Absolutism

After we are converted to God, after God has taken away our heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh, our responsibility is to live and breathe on the basis of the Word of God. It is to become the environment in which we work, and sleep, and walk, and run, and drive, and eat, and drink. It is to encompass our going out and our coming in.

This means that we must resolve, before God, to have no problem passages. Once the work of exegesis is done and we know what the text says, we need to have settled in our hearts beforehand not to have any difficulty with what it means for us.

This also means that we agree not to have any fancy theological workarounds or jury-rigged excuses for not doing what God commands us to do. Exhibit A would be “but that’s in the Old Testament.”

And a word to the moderates (falsely so-called) among us. There is no way to wobble on modestly angular passages about wifely submission without that wobble being transmitted into absolutely everything else. You thought you would just tap the brakes deftly there, in that one spot, and next thing you know, your eighteen-wheeler of cultural engagement is fishtailing down a frozen highway of compromise and on the black ice of diseased doctrine. So to speak.

Centrality of Worship

The most important activity in our lives is the activity of worship. We were created to worship God, and we can ascend no higher than when we bow in His presence. Each one of us is summoned to the city of the living God, and we must visit there on a weekly basis (Heb. 12:22). I emphasized city there because this means that the other saints are present. You are not summoned to solitary communion with Him in a divine fishing cabin up by the lake. 

But people who see the corrupt state of our culture clearly have temptations of their own. They tend to have thought many things through, and are precisionists, and so they are really critical of the churches that are around them. They think they are isolated reformers, but they are actually loners, thinking pure thoughts to themselves.

Whether or not the local saints have their act completely together, it is important for us to gather together with them on the Lord’s Day, and worship Him. He sees everything, including the mess, but fundamentally He sees us presented to Himself in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Do not separate yourselves, as is the manner of some. Those who do so, on account of the lame nature of contemporary Christianity, are among the chief contributors to the lameness.

The Incoherence of Secularism

Secularism used to be able to host big parties, in much the same way that the prodigal son used to buy drinks for the house. It was all his father’s money, and yet it looked to the tankard-huggers that this young man was quite the swell. And as long as the money held up, he was able to maintain his position. But alas, when you are being stupid, the money runs out.

If secularism is the leprosy, then cultural Marxism, feminism, wokeness, and all the other associated hot ideas are the advanced stages—the point when the fingers have started to fall off.

We do not know that secularism “works.” What we have discovered is that secularism can “work” for two centuries, provided it is preceded by ten centuries of Christianity. We have discovered what we should already have known, which is that wastrel sons can throw away their father’s money.

So this is the time when Christians need to stop paying lip service to secularism—and not because we are opposed to religious liberty. Secularism is not fountainhead of religious liberty. It is the fountainhead of evangelical bakers being threatened by the state because they didn’t want to put two dudes on the top of the cake. Don’t talk to us about religious liberty when we are the ones being fined for wrongthink.    

So we must reject secularism as an ideal, root and branch.

Created Natural Reality

In the beginning God created the heavens and earth, and He was not lying. The way it looks out there is pretty much the way it is out there. The natural order is objectively there, and every element in this natural order has a nature.

The authority of God is evident in all things, but foundationally in the way He created all things. Scriptures do not impose an order on creation, but rather they describe the order that is pervasive everywhere. God is God everywhere. He is God in the orbit of Saturn, He is God of the subatomic oscillations, He is the God of male and female, and He is the God of rocks on the beach.

The nature and definition of every created thing resides in the will and mind of God, and so cannot be altered, shifted, rearranged, or redefined by autonomous man. God gave us dominion over the created world, and not a tyranny over the created world.

The world has a nature. Everything in the world has a nature. We have a nature. Scripture teaches us how to understand those natures. If we are obedient, life is straightforward. This answers the question about what happens if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it. Does it make a sound? Of course.  

Sex and Babies

Christians who are really interested in shaping culture should start with baby-making, and not with artisanal beer-making. The beginning of every form of culture-shaping that matters has to be found in marriage, the marriage bed, and the fruit of the marriage bed. This is not all that there is to it, obviously, but it is the sine qua non of cultural engagement. Fertility and fecundity are not footnotes or afterthoughts.

Cultures are built by men who have families to feed.

Governments from God

One of the first things that happens after conversion is that we find the Spirit at work in our lives. He works His fruit into us, and one of the earlier and more obvious fruits would be self-control or self-government. When individuals are set free from their lusts and selfish demands, they are set free to participate in the other governments that God established, and to do so as free men or free women.

The three governments that God has directly established Himself are the government of the family (Gen. 2:18), the government of the church (Eph. 4:11-12), and the government of the state (Rom. 13:1-2). These are His institutions, and so He sets down the rules for them. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Pastors and elders are to feed the flock. Magistrates are to reward the righteous and punish the wrongdoer.

Historical Optimism

The course of the kingdom of God in this world is not to be thought of as God’s Alamo—as some noble but hopeless cause. The earth will be as full of the knowledge of Christ as the sea is as full of water. The aroma of the gospel will extend from the river to the ends of the earth. The stone that was cut out apart from human hands has struck Nebuchadnezzar’s statue on the feet, and that is a fact that cannot be undone. The leaven grows and expands until the whole loaf is affected. Through Abraham, all the families of the earth will be blessed. The mustard seeds grows, and nothing can stop it from growing. The root of Jesse will be lifted up as an ensign, and all the nations will stream to it. The living water from Ezekiel’s Temple will flow out over the threshold, and will get deeper as it goes. The families of earth will turn to the Lord and be saved. The nations of men will be discipled, and they will learn all the commandments that Jesus taught us. I would give Scripture references for all that preceding crazy talk, but I think that it might be a good spiritual exercise for you to find them all yourself.

The objection is obvious—such a task of complete global evangelization would be overwhelming, would it not?

But of course, Jesus never told us it would be easy. He told us it would be done.

Free Markets

The preaching of free grace results in free men, and the activities of free men result in free markets. So there is no other way to create and sustain free markets apart from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whenever the true God is not Lord over the transactions of men, there will always be men—and it is always a certain kind of man—who sees that as a job opening. They want to be lord of the transactions.

This is directly linked to the gospel, of course, but we also need to understand that property rights are human rights.

The pretended omniscience of central planners is one of those dumb ideas that grow more powerful the more it is refuted by events. All aspiring forms of socialism are hailed as true socialism, finally, and they remain in that envious position until the inevitable face plant, at which point they become “not true socialism.” Structurally, this approach cannot be refuted, and the reason it cannot be refuted is because it is a fallacy.

And for those who claimed Jesus was a socialist, they can be refuted pretty simply. Of course He was not a socialist—He was able to keep the people fed.

Christian Education

Given that all the foregoing is how we are to understand life, it should follow—as night follows day—that we need to teach our children to understand life in this same way. The bottom line here is that Christian kids require a Christian education. They are to grow up in an environment dominated by the Word of God (Deut. 6:4-9). Christian fathers are to see to it that their children are established in the paideia of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4).

Think of it this way. When you reflect on how many things about the Scriptures’ relationship to all of life that you have had to unlearn, why would you want to put your children into the same difficulty? There is great wisdom in this proverb: if you don’t have time to do it right, then how on earth will you find time to do it over?

In bringing up your children in the Lord, you have one shot. That shot ought not to consist of providing them with the same pagan education that all the kids up and down the street are getting, and then desperately coupling this with a wish that they are not paying attention to all the bad parts. And what are those bad parts? You have no idea.

So Christian education, conducted at least ten miles away from the closest secular mandate, is absolutely essential. Do what it takes.

Chestertonian Calvinism

If you gather all these assumptions together, and assemble them in a scriptural framework and order, then the resultant attitude is going to be serious joy. Not bubble gum joy, and not happy happy joy joy, and nothing frothy about it. We are in a real fight, but we are to fight like cavaliers, and not like back alley thugs.

God is sovereign. The world, sinful though it is, lies in the palm of His hand. Sin is pervasive and it is a deadly insanity. He has put us right through the gospel, and assigned to us the task of setting the world to rights. This is as though God’s Spirit descended on a huge lunatic asylum, set a handful of inmates back into their right minds, and then told them to turn the asylum into a first-rate university. A tall order, but the right response is yes sir.

We are allowed to ask if He will accompany us in the work, and the answer is that He will be with us always.

Notes

[1] The year 2024 is the time when most of my dire predictions will have come true, and so I am invited to meet with the boards of at least six major evangelical institutions and seminaries, all of which wanted to express their sorrow at not having listened to me. I am very gracious in response, which I thought was only right, since we are all going to be in the same cattle cars, heading off to the same Sunshine Tolerance Camps. Might as well get along. And no, this does not conflict with the section on historical optimism above. This is not us being conquered. It is how we conquer.