Acronyms are helpful little things. Especially when you’re trying to remember the main ideas of a particular teaching or the basic tenets of a certain body of thought.
I’ve “memorized” (meaning, I remembered them just long enough to pass an exam or a class!) plenty of acronyms in my day. Different subjects and disciplines. I’m sure you have, too.
Theological acronyms are useful that way. As long as you remember that they’re NOT meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive in any way. They’re just memory aids.
And they’re not meant to win arguments, either. In fact, they’re usually formulated as a response to an argument, as a way of clarifying a position regarding a certain matter or a system of belief. They’re meant to answer (or rebut) specific questions or criticisms that have been raised, sometimes by the opposition, and sometimes by
dyed-in-the-wool advocates of that position or system, who maybe have been clamoring and hankering for some handy-dandy little rhetorical device like this to arm themselves with.
So, Calvinism has its T.U.L.I.P. Covenantalism–the five-point biblical covenant model explored and explained by Dr. Ray Sutton and Dr. Gary North–has a really cool acronym: T.H.E.O.S.
But, what do Christian Reconstructionists have as their own unique little memory aid to help folks in remembering the main points, the basic tenets of what it teaches? Something that easily and accurately conveys its most important theological “fundamentals” and distinctives?
“Everything’s Coming Up R.O.S.E.S.“
Mark D. Brown a few years ago came up with a good one. It pretty well touches on the main highlights of what Christian Reconstructionism is all about. Again, it’s not comprehensive or exhaustive. It’s only meant to be a “snapshot” of a very far-reaching and comprehensive biblical system of thought. And, again, you won’t win any arguments with it (but you might win some “converts” from other, less robust biblical systems of thought!”).
Happily, it fits the standard, five-point format of Received Acronymology that Reformed Christians know and love so well!
Here it is:
R – Regeneration
O – Obedience to God’s Law
S – Supremacy of Scripture
E – Eschatology of Victory
S – Separation of Governments
Those of you who have been drinking from the deep (and diverse) wells of Reconstructionism for a while can appreciate the simplicity and accuracy of this short list.
Let’s take a look at each one of these.
REGENERATION. If you have read anything at all written in the last 40-50 years by Rushdoony, North, Bahnsen, Sutton, Gentry, Jordan, etc., or any of the other Reconstructionist-leaning writers that have covered this topic, you know that, just as in business, “nothing good happens until there is a sale,” in the world of Christian Reconstruction, nothing good happens until there is a soul saved! All of what CR teaches and preaches hinges on and emanates from this most fundamental and crucial principle. Anti-Christian Reconstructionist critics never seem to grasp this.
OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S LAW. This is our theonomic side showing. We LOVE God’s law (as all Christians ought to)! We believe in the continuing moral validity of God’s law. Not because it condemns or confronts us, but because it sanctifies and instructs us! Good grief, read Psalm 119 (again), for heaven’s sake! God’s law is a beautiful thing! It should be our meditation day and night. It’s only ugly when you see it from a sinner’s perspective, or from an ANTI-nomian point of view (not a good thing).
SUPREMACY OF SCRIPTURE. No brainer. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, the Scriptures Contained in the Old and New Testaments, is our final and sole authority on matters of faith, morals, practice, etc.. Period. We take that for granted, like the existence of God. In theological circles, this is known as presuppositionalism. (One thing Reconstructionists have always been good at is wielding lots of multi-syllable, intellectually intimidating theological terms!)
ESCHATOLOGY OF VICTORY. What’s not to like? One of the foundational tenets of Christian Reconstruction is the biblical eschatology of postmillennialism. Jesus is reigning right now as sovereign king from His throne in heaven at His Father’s right hand ever since His ascension, patiently building His Kingdom, slowly but surely, steadily transforming Satan’s corrupt and counterfeit realm here on earth into God’s “reconstructed” Christ-centered Civilization on earth. The Gospel’s historical success is a foregone conclusion, the ultimate, predetermined outcome of the work of the church in this world before our Lord Jesus returns. So, all you amillennial and premillennial Christians, STOP being fatalistic, pessimistic, pietistic and defeatist in your theology! Jesus IS coming–He’s just not coming until He FINISHES what He started here.
SEPARATION OF GOVERNMENTS. Here’s another area of Reconstructionism that is routinely, wantonly and grossly misrepresented. Again, real Reconstruction starts with the SELF-GOVERNMENT of the redeemed, born-again individual under God’s law. Which is then reflected in how that individual goes about implementing and doing government in his other spheres of life. Family government. Civil government. Church government. All separate, all governed by God’s law. Anti-reconstructionists, look up “theocracy.” It means GOD rules. Not Christians. Not the church. Not a band of crazed fanatics with rocks in their hands (and heads). God’s LAW governs. I really wish the critics would read (and more thoughtfully interact with) more of what they endeavor to criticize before they open their mouths!
So, there it is. A very useful little acronym and rhetorical memory device all our own.
But, of course, Christian Reconstructionism by any other name would smell as sweet.
If you want to read Mark D. Brown’s brief little booklet on R.O.S.E.S., click here.