That was the question posed recently by a subscriber to Gary North’s website who posted it on a discussion forum board.
If you were to ask me where to start your study of Christian Reconstruction, I would have sent you to a handful of titles by Rushdoony and by Dr. North, followed by Chilton, DeMar and a few others. All classics, all worthy of your attention, and all written some 20-40 years ago — during the Golden Age of Reconstructionist literature!
With his characteristic economy of verbiage, Dr. North replied only with a link to the Free Books section of his site, to the page for Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr.’s seminal work, The Greatness of the Great Commission: The Christian Enterprise in a Fallen World.
A salutary choice! And an intriguing one…
Why not a title like, Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t? Why not Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law? Why not North’s Backward, Christian Soldiers (An Action Manual for Christian Reconstruction)?
I’ll tell you why.
Because those books (and many others written in the same vein) — as critically important as they are to a right understanding of the underlying tenets and theology of the “movement” — only address aspects of Christian Reconstruction. The prominent (controversial) elements of it. Practical applications of it. Arguments for and against it.
Dr. Gentry’s Greatness of the Great Commission addresses something much more fundamental.
It addresses the biblical basis for it. Which is exactly where one should begin.
Christian Reconstruction, after all, presupposes the continuing validity and scriptural authority of Christ’s mandate in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). What separates it from the standard evangelical (pietistic) understanding is that it recognizes (and presupposes) the comprehensive nature of the Great Commission.
The Smallness of Evangelicalism’s Great Commission
Dr. North writes in the Foreword:
Having brought people into the kingdom of God through conversion, God then asks them to begin to make a difference in their world. He does not mean that they should spend day and night passing out tracts or the equivalent thereof; He means that they should reform their lives, their families, and their daily walk before Him and men. Evangelism means teaching people to obey God’s law, through the empowering of God’s Holy Spirit. Evangelism means obedience.
And that is the case that Dr. Gentry makes. Christian Reconstruction is based on obedience to (and, by God’s grace, the Holy-Spirit-led fulfillment of) the Great Commission. Bringing all nations into lawful obedience to Christ their King.
North reminds us:
This is why the Great Commission was given: to enable mankind to return to faithful service under God and over the creation. God’s salvation brings us back to the original task: to exercise dominion to the glory of God, in terms of His Bible-revealed law.
Not at all what most evangelical (and Reformed) churches preach on the “Great Commission”!
Nevertheless, to understand what Christian Reconstruction is really all about, one must see it in its proper context, i.e., its biblical context, as being the church’s “marching orders” given to her by Christ Jesus her commander-in-chief, who has commissioned His people (the church militant) to carry them out–and has promised historical success in their mission. Without this crucial, scriptural context as its foundation, Christian Reconstruction is little more than an aberrant form of “baptized activism,” theological and political extremism, and just plain WEIRD!
I am glad this particular book was recommended as the best place to start.
It is also a great place to return to.
The Greatness of the Great Commission reminds us all — including those of us who have been enlisted in the Lord’s army for quite some time — why we’re doing this.
Out of loving obedience (John 14:15). For the glory of God. “For Christ’s crown and covenant.”
Dr. Gentry puts it all in perspective in the opening pages of chapter 1, tying the Great Commission to the original Creation Mandate found in the book of Genesis:
At death, all men enter the spiritual world, the eternal realm (either heaven or hell). But prior to our arrival in the eternal state, all men live before God in the material world, which He has created for His own glory, as the place of man’s habitation. The Great Commission necessarily speaks both to the present state (by giving our duty in the material world) and to the eternal state (by showing the means of our entry into heaven). In other words, it speaks to issues regarding body and soul.
Both of the foundation stones for our study of the Great Commission are found in Genesis. In fact, the very foundations of all of reality, revelation, and redemption are laid in the book of Genesis, which makes that book of primary significance to the Christian faith.
From there, he proceeds on a marvelous, exegetical journey through the Scriptures!
If you haven’t read (or would like to read again) Dr. Kenneth Gentry’s excellent book, then start (or continue) your study right here:
Happy (blessed) reading.