Christian Reconstruction, ala Joel McDurmon?

  1. What do y’all think about Christian reconstructionism and theonomy?

  2. Does the general equity clause in the LBC and WCF, in contrast to particular equity, allow for a Christian reconstruction view?


A1.) In short, I generally approve of the thesis advanced by Rushdoony, Bahnsen, et. al. Like many reform movements within the church, the character and personality of the men color the various streams of the movement. To that end test all things, hold fast to that which is true. Wisdom is known by her children.

McDurmon is endeavoring to lay a theonomic argument against the spirit of our age in his “The Problem of Slavery in Christian America”. As his father-in-law Gary North is oft to say “you can’t beat something with nothing;” so McDurmon is advancing the Van Tillian framework to explain why the American chattel slave trade was unjust by specifically looking at the legal and cultural framework under the light of Scripture. This he does in my estimation to lay a groundwork for advancing the apologetic for a theonomic response to the aftermath.

A2.) Any reading of leading thinkers in modern CR will reveal that they believe the answer is “yes.” One will note that one difference between the modern CR movement and the Covenanters (past and present) is that the latter see establishmentarianism as linked with theonomy. The former are generally national confessionalists (see Bill Einwechter, et. al.) To that end modern CR is more approachable to our Baptist brethren.


As a Baptist, I appreciate that.


Though modern CR is mostly known through its perspectives on politics and government, Rushdoony consistently framed CR as addressing a much deeper problem – the sins of mankind. Repentance and revival are not just individualistic exercises but also transform the whole of our lives (again applying Van Til).


I have endeavored to carry the Greatest Commandment and the general equity of the law into the political discussion here in my state. Here’s a good summary of how I view the political problem and its roots.

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To be clear, Israel allowed no false worship. What’s the general equity there? It would seem that no public false worship is to be allowed. No public, non-Trinitarian worship as a start?

Looking at past attempts at “Christian Reconstruction” - they do not fill me with any confidence that we could do it now. Quite apart from the question as to whether it is the role of the civil magistrate to enforce the First Tablet of the Law:

  • Oliver Cromwell came to power in England on the back of a discredited monarchy, wanting to establish “the rule of the righteous”. His regime did not survive very long after his death - and the son of the previous monarch was welcomed back with open arms, the people having soured, in spades, on Cromwell’s Puritan regime. Calvin’s regime in Geneva doesn’t seem to have lasted that long either (others will know more here, so feel free to correct me).
  • On a related note, I once pointed out to a rather liberal Christian friend of mine that one could not fight the sin, evil and wickedness in the world without first fighting the sin, evil and wickedness in oneself. Now, while that was shared in a progressive context, it applies in and to a conservative one as well. As CS Lewis wrote, if in a slightly different context, “mere improvement is not redemption”. Progressives and conservatives alike want improvement, but don’t see that it is not the same as redemption.

Overall I would say that the record of Christians speaking truth to power is a much more robust one than the record of Christians exercising power themselves.


Dear Ross,

(I’ve been mulling this for some time, and not all of this is directed at you. You just got me to write about it, so thank you.)

I think the question is which way our duty lies. I wouldn’t want to be found to have neglected my work even if others have failed at it, whether it was me that failed at it or whether my fathers failed at it.

Last night in the church 6th-8th grade boys group I’m teaching the topic was “a godly man leads.” Toward the end I dealt with the question of “how much good your leadership would have to do” before you’d be willing to lay your life down in pursuit of it. A nationwide or worldwide revival that lasts 1000 years? Sure, I’m in for that. A regional revival that lasts 100 years? Sure, I’m in for that.

How about if I succeed in getting 1000 people on board? What about only 100? 10? A few? What if the visible fruit of it only lasts 10 years? 1 year? Less?

You get into fruit issues here, but it wouldn’t have been better for Jeremiah to cease his work calling Judah to repentance even though they never never listened to him – it would have been unfaithfulness on his part. Wasn’t it the same with all the other prophets? What about the righteous kings of Judah who instituted reforms that didn’t last (and none of them lasted)? – would they have done better to save their energy?

We have to be willing to be poured out like a drink offering - wasted on the ground - like the Apostle Paul was, and trust God for results that please Him. What’s the alternative, avoiding the office of magistrate? Taking up office but trying to avoid governing in a way that explicitly gives glory to God?

I hope to be found among those who wasted their lives for God.



General equity may mean zoning laws that prohibit the building of a Jewish or Mormon temple in the downtown square, restricting them to the outskirts of town. Likewise sign, zoning and noise regulations that prohibit minarets and daily calls to prayer but encourage church bells.


Christian Reconstructionists are always promising the Kingdom of God and delivering Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Amen. If Christ is not raised from the dead, we are more to be pitied than all men. But wasted at what? The clear commands of the New Testament? Or building an earthly kingdom?


I’d say they’ve been doing a lot less than that for the last hundred years.


Thank God.

Dear John,

I don’t know if justice in judgment is specifically reiterated in the New Testament for the civil magistrate, but isn’t that what the church must call our civil magistrate to, and what we must strive for if we are the civil magistrate?

I don’t think that by eschewing earthly kingdom building you mean no Christian should run for public civil office. Well, if a Christian gets into office, should he work to make just judgments? Or would that be earthly kingdom building.

Let’s avoid the errors of our fathers, the Lord helping us–but I am having trouble distinguishing the position of those arguing against earthly kingdom building from an anabaptist kind of “leave the governing to the heathen” thinking, which I don’t see where we would get that from Scripture.

What would it look like for a Christian to govern the way he should? It seems like anything he does that is distinctly Christian is going to be earthly kingdom building and he shouldn’t do it. As a Christian father, I see to it that we thank the Lord for the food at the supper table. A Christian governor, though, would be turning things into the Massachusetts Bay Colony if he did things like that, right? So he shouldn’t do that; he should…what? Be quiet about his Christianity, and maybe it would be best if he weren’t in office? A Christian civil magistrate has an inherent conflict of interest between his faith and what he should be doing in office?

I can’t imagine anyone will agree with my characterizations. But it seems like this is the direction the don’t build an earthly kingdom thinking points. Help me see what I haven’t understood about the position.



The fundamental conundrum is that the government, even of a formally Christian nation, will almost always be filled by the reprobate. This must be the case if you believe, as I do, that the Bible teaches that few men are elect, and even fewer among the the higher social classes. There’s no way you can set up a system of government such that it will always be led by faithful Christians. History provides abundant evidence that godly government doesn’t last more than one or two generations. The children lack the faith of the fathers, and may adhere to the form but not the spirit. Even if you write into the law and constitution the most stringent requirements to preserve godly government, eventually a time will come when black is called white and white is called black. Witness what has happened to the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States.

That’s not to say we should “leave governing to the heathen”. But we must be aware that no matter what we do, it will inevitably mostly be the heathen who are governing.


Reformers typically fall into 1 of 3 buckets: pietistic, confessional, or kuyperian. These are emphases. I think most here are confessional

Part of the core of the issue. If you believe like I do that the world will become more and more Christian with things improving slowly along the way, the project is not only worth it, but commanded.

But Tyler, we ALL believe things will get better. What we don’t all believe is that you or Doug or Joel have an inside track on how and when, and therefore extra special wisdom on what needs to be done now, and how it needs to be done. I’m sure some of you have heard of Cohn’s “Pursuit of the Millennium.” How many times must naive and credulous Christians relearn that their plans are not God’s plans, and that it’s the essence of humble wisdom to read the signs of the times. Wake up and smell the (not roses). Sometimes in discussions with theonomists, I think I’m dealing with the theological equivalent of name it and claim it pentecostals. Love,


Perhaps we’ve 20,000 more years until the earth is covered in the knowledge of the Lord. And many great sorrows to get there.

And perhaps America will be one of those sorrows? Is becoming?

I’m only encouraging those who run for office or desire to do so to carry God’s law there. The same as we should do in every sphere.

The great commission will be accomplished, so we should all take heart. Perhaps some of us will be David; some John the Baptist.

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Not sure if I fit the confessional category. I’m unconfessional on a few things. If you catch Tim on the right day he can sound Kuyperian.

The rhetoric about pessimillennialism is rhetoric.

The Covid period gave me a chance to think about church history. Postmils are very confident in their philosophy of history. But it seems more plausible to me that history cycles between periods of growth and periods of decline, often mixed together, which is how our Christian lives are. The Bible reads that way too.

This is not to say I’m pessimistic. If you plotted Christian progress over time, the trendline would be upward. But the upward trajectory is plodding and not as obvious as postmils want it to be.

I see the cycles in Revelation too. The symbolism of good and evil battling one another. Not so much linear but cyclical. Not so much literal as idealistic.

Which is to say I have no problem with building a Christian commonwealth as an amil. You don’t have to be postmil to be based. I find a lot of postmil popular rhetoric cringe.

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We are in agreement here brother. It’s plodding. 3 steps forward, 2 back. Maybe 4 back before even more forward. But the trend is eventually upward.

Postmillennialism and Theonomy seem to be on track to becoming the “cool thing” in Reformedom in a catchy and “brandish” way similar to the early days of YRR (albeit likely among a narrower group and to a lesser degree).

I’m postmillennial myself, so I appreciate that a biblical spirit of optimism and holistic cultural engagement are becoming more mainstream, especially among the younger crowd, and the work men like Doug Wilson and Jeff Durbin have done to help launch the doctrine into the conversation amidst a sea of Dispensationalism, but a doctrine becoming “cool” has definite downsides.

You wind up with people who embrace a given label because they want to have the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with “being a part of something” rather than because they have convictions shaped by Scripture, and so they don’t promote or represent the position accurately. I believe this is where a lot of the talk of imminent world evangelization stems from.

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