Category Archives: Christian Resistance

A Theology of Christian Resistance in 2018

It’s New Year’s Eve.

In addition to whatever “New Year’s Resolutions” you may have committed yourself to for the coming year 2018 — starting a “good” habit, dropping a “bad” one, earning a certain amount of money over and above what you made last year, achieving a certain goal (or, if you’re the ambitious type, goals), accomplishing certain things that are on your “simply must-do” list, etc. — you can add this one: reading a certain book.  It’s called, The Theology of Christian Resistance, Christianity & Civilization, vol. 2, Winter 1983.

It’s an oldie but a goodie.

It was one of those seasonal symposiums published in paperback form by the Geneva Divinity School Press back in the early 1980s — volumes of essays put together by that prolific cadre of Reconstructionist writers, pastors and scholars residing in and around Tyler, Texas.

For the previous twenty years or so, Christian Reconstructionists had written and published boatloads of articles, books, position papers and newsletters.  (And they have continued to do so  well into the 21st century.)  But now it was time to start swinging into action, “getting practical” and putting their money where their footnotes were.  The times they were a-changing.  Evangelical Christians were beginning to awaken from their long, Washington Irving-esque political slumber.  It was now time to play catch-up against the humanists and liberal religionists.  It was time to rediscover our Western heritage of political and social action based on Christian principles.

The resulting broad-based coalition has united conservative Christian leaders and thinkers from different denominational, theological and even eschatological persuasions.

Just take a look at the contributors to The Theology of Christian Resistance:

Gary North

John W. Whitehead

Francis A. Schaeffer

James B. Jordan

Joseph C. Morecraft III

T. Robert Ingraham

Jim West

Archie P. Jones

Alan Stang

Allen C. Guelzo

Michael R. Gilstrap

David Jones

M.E. Bradford

William Marina

Diane Cuervo

Tom Rose

Pieter Jongeling

Lonn Oswalt

Tommy W. Rogers

John Calvin (posthumously)

All of these folks wrote with a singular conviction in the back (and front) of their mind: “The Bible demands action, not inaction!”

To set the table for the rest of the book, here are a few choice excerpts from Dr. North’s Introduction,

We are the inheritors of traditions of political freedom that are intimately bound up with the successful and unsuccessful revolutions of the past. We are the beneficiaries of a common law tradition that itself is the product of revolutions. Ultimately, the history of Western civilization is the history of Christians’ struggles against unlawful State power and the anti-Christian theologies that have under-girded it. Some of the West’s revolutions have expanded State power, others have resisted it.

Because we are under God, we are also under God’s revelation of Himself in His law. Thus, the Bible says, we are citizens of heaven. Paul wrote: “Our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20a). Yet we are also citizens of this world, and therefore under lawful authorities (plural) here. This position of dual citizenship becomes even more complicated when we face the fact that we are citizens of nations, counties, and cities. we are citizens of multiple commonwealths.

When Christians face multiple sovereignties on earth, they find themselves in a perplexing position. Whose sovereignty at any point in time should take precedence? Whose requirements are closest to the ethical demands placed on us by the Bible at any point in history? Furthermore, there are multiple principles of ethical action in the Bible. For example, we are to be truthful, but not at all times (Rahab’s example). It is the ethical task which we all face to apply the relevant biblical principle to the decisions we make daily.

What each man needs, unquestionably, is biblical law-disciplined intuition, meaning a thorough familiarity with the whole of biblical law, and a detailed knowledge of the issues of the day. Men should almost instinctively know the proper course of personal and communal action for a specific decision, assuming they have devoted time to a study of the Bible in this particular area. No Christian can afford to be ignorant of his Bible and of daily affairs. He has to pick and choose among the issues on which he will take a stand, depending on such matters as: his knowledge of the specifics; the likelihood of success in opposition; his responsibility under the circumstances; the importance of the issue for the culture at large, the local culture, and the future; the cost of the resistance project; and his own personal talents. No man can take a stand on all issues simultaneously, and devote all of his resources to all of them. There is a division of labor principle in all human action. We are not God; we cannot know all things exhaustively, nor can we finance all projects exhaustively. But the church, as the total body of believers, though not necessarily as an ecclesiastical institution, should be able to speak with confidence to the issues of the day.

There is more where that came from.

Now, there is a very good reason why this particular volume was written and published before the follow-up, Tactics of Christian Resistance, which came out later on in the summer of that same year 1983.

Again, Dr. North:

The question of Christian resistance is a complicated theological matter. It is also personally demanding, for when the issues become clear, men must commit themselves to a position: Resist or capitulate? Understanding the fundamental issues is preliminary to taking action. Without self-confidence in the legitimacy of the cause of resistance, a resisting group cannot expect to be successful. Men need a theology of resistance before they begin to develop a strategy of resistance. Before a Lenin there must be a Marx- theory before practice.

“Men need a theology of resistance before they begin to develop a strategy of resistance.”

Exactly.

Theory must come before practice.  Doctrine before application.

Which is why a knowledge of the Scriptures is just as vital to finding the right solutions and taking the right courses of actions as is knowledge of the issues and the challenges that face us.

It’s funny.  Even today, more than three decades after these symposiums were published, the public discussion of Christian “resistance” and Christian “activism” in politics and the pursuit of “social justice” is still dominated by liberal Christians, liberal theologians and liberal pastors and leaders, not conservative, Bible-believing ones.

That shouldn’t be surprising, though, since it has been the case since the “social gospel” movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  During that crucial period, Bible-believing conservatives en masse abandoned their hopeful, forward-looking eschatologies, and instead embraced the “end-times”-obsessed, present-oriented, heaven-directed “blessed” hopes that remain popular today.

What happened?

Pietism replaced pro-active faith.

A Theology of Christian Reluctance took its place.  “Backward, Christian Soldiers!”

It is time for that to change.

So, in the coming new year, how about we conservative, Bible-believing, forward-looking, theologically Reformed Christians embracing hopeful eschatologies resolve to start embracing a new mindset.

“Think biblically. Act locally.”

Start by thinking biblicallyTHE THEOLOGY OF CHRISTIAN RESISTANCE (PDF download).

Happy New Year!

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Martin Luther King, Civil Rights and ‘Christian Resistance’

Martin-Luther-KingToday’s observance of Martin Luther King Day seems like a good time to compare the racial and political ideologies that gave rise to the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s — and the creation of the national holiday honoring King in the 1980s — with the biblical and historical motivations that undergird the theology and tactics of Christian Resistance.

King’s prominent role in the civil rights movement as an ordained Christian minister — and liberal Baptist preacher — certainly gave the movement its religious, righteously indignant tone and flavor in the media.  But it was always a political movement, first to last.  And the goal was always a political one: equal rights under the law. Which was another way of saying blacks had a right to the same unequal and unfair treatment under the same bureaucratic and corrupt system of tyranny and excessive taxation that whites enjoyed.  “Now, that’s worth marching for!”

The civil rights movement and especially the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were originally championed on the right, believe it or not, by conservatives and Republicans.  But, of course, once its political potential as a catalyst for the justifiable expansion in the role of government — meaning the expansion in the role and power and enrichment and career enhancement of government-paid employees: politicians — to intrude into the lives and wallets of private citizens for the sake of “equality” became apparent, the movement was co-opted by members of the Left and adopted as their own cause, and a new ideological banner was created to wave in their opponents’ faces and cast in the teeth of conservatives.  “Take that, you bigoted, civil rights proponents, originators and pioneers!”

It was not “Christian resistance” per se.  At best, you could say it was baptized political activism.  Sort of like “liberation theology,” but without all the guns and Marxist trappings.

Christian resistance, as defined and presented in the following two books, is quite different.

Rather than providing a blueprint to seize and utilize the levers of tyrannical power and political mobilization to right wrongs and correct injustices, it offers a grassroots, theologically- and biblically-motivated, broad-based effort that begins with this: resisting the tyranny lawfully and peacefully while exposing and opposing the erroneous, unbiblical and ungodly theories and ideologies that caused the problem in the first place.  It then moves to providing Bible-based alternatives and solutions that will, in the long run, fix what is broken.

But first, as you will see, the nature of the problem — how we got here — has to be stated and understood, along with the principles and doctrines and biblical examples that validate and warrant, and even mandate, the proffering and strategic implementation of a “Christian” solution.

Let’s look at the backdrop.  In the 1970s, the civil rights movement nationally had pretty much run its course and faded from the public consciousness as a political force and nightly news-maker.  Now, war, military escalations, economic unrest, social and cultural turmoil that began in the decade before and continued as a thriving counter-culture, the spread of a militant atheism and secular humanism using the tax-funded institutions of government and public education to spread its poison and consolidate and expand its power, the erosion of traditional morality and values, etc., all combined to expose the obvious void and very noticeable absence of a self-consciously biblical, systematic Christian strategy and game plan to combat these problems and address these issues.

By the early 1980s, the nascent school of historic, orthodox, Calvinistic, eschatologically optimistic, theological school of thought known as Christian Reconstruction, was coming into its own and beginning to make its presence felt — a very unwelcome presence as far as many conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists were concerned!

Newsletters gave birth to books, which gave birth to more books.  Volumes and volumes of literary “blueprints” written explicitly for Christians to begin getting a theological and intellectual grip and handle on things.  Not a moment too soon.  Conservatives, especially Christians, having rediscovered political activism, were lulled into a false sense of victory in 1980 thinking they had “won” the grand prize when they got Ronald Reagan into the White House.  Wrong!   The battle was only escalating and intensifying.

For this reason, in 1983, the following two volumes were published in the Christianity and Civilization series of the Geneva Divinity School:

The Theology of Christian ResistanceTactics of Christian Resistance

Edited by Dr. Gary North and Rev. James B. Jordan, these two books were meant to be handbooks and manuals for Christians to read and understand, (a), what it is we are facing — and have been facing for quite some time! — and, (b), what it is we can, and must, do about it.

Their content and message are no less relevant and no less required reading for us today.

And so, on the occasion of Martin Luther King Day 2014, and in light of the growing liberty movement and slow but steady political awakening of the public to the across-the-globe problem of tyranny, it seems like an awfully wise and timely thing to do to embark on (for some) a new reading of these now-thirty-year-old books!  For those of us who are not waiting around biding our time hoping for a certain imminent cataclysmic event to deliver us instantly and mercifully from the exigencies and weighty and urgent responsibilities of building Christ’s kingdom by first deconstructing Satan’s counterfeit kingdom and its corrupt influences, the task of taking the time to identify the nature and causes and history of the problem, and then systematically and patiently but proactively and confidently addressing and dealing with them and ultimately, by God’s grace, power and wisdom, solving them once and for all, is not such a tall order.

Both of these books are free and can be downloaded right here:

The Theology of Christian Resistance

Tactics of Christian Resistance

Multiple authors contributed numerous articles and essays that comprise these two very informative and insightful volumes. But their individual viewpoints do share one common theme:

Crown rights, not civil rights!

I suppose if we had to think of a composite title for these, we could call them, Rules for Christian Radicals!

Happy reading and Happy MLK Day! 🙂