The Great Need for Christian Pioneers
We are very much in need now of Christian pioneers. This means a people who are zealous to grow and to exercise dominion in Christ.~ R. J. Rushdoony
Have we lost our zeal to grow in our dominion calling and to exercise it in as many spheres as possible? Typically, newcomers to the message of dominion and Christian Reconstruction get excited, buy a lot of books, share the message incessantly, but then eventually settle down. Zeal no longer consumes them, because the mission is a daunting one, and it’s much easier to scratch the itch in online discussion groups.
Theological discussion, however, is not godly dominion. It can certainly lead to dominion, but Rushdoony’s message was more direct: theology is for Faith and action.
For me theology means the total mandate of God through His word. What I have written only scratches the surface; it is an introduction to the subject, and it is written to move men to faith and action.
Our Theology Demands of Us Faith and Action
Is it that we as Christian Reconstructionists never truly understood Rushdoony’s overall thesis? Are we more concerned with technical questions about ecclesiology, eschatology, or doxology than we are the application of the faith to every sphere of life? The late David Chilton once mentioned in a sermon that he received innumerable questions about the difficult mysteries of the Bible but was never asked, “How can I better serve God?” Doctrinal truth is vital to the church, but not at the expense of the Kingdom of God. We are called to godly dominion.
Granted, much ground was taken in the area of Christian education by way of the establishing of Christian schools and the untold numbers devoted to Christian homeschooling. No doubt, this is one of the most important developments in modern Christianity, and its full implications have yet to be seen, but that pioneering spirit must expand:
Some are already doing this. They are establishing Christian schools, Christian homes for the delinquent, Christian medical missions in needy areas, and more. All this is Christian pioneering, and we need more of it.
There has been great progress, but we’ve yet to scratch the surface. And as we watch the lights go out on the world system, we are reminded that we are truly pilgrims in a strange land, but our theology demands of us faith and action, and our doctrine calls us to godly dominion. We are not sojourners looking to escape, but rather God’s established holy nation—a city set on a hill.
Heaven Is Our Home, but the World Is Where We Work
The New Testament word “pilgrim” means a person sojourning in a strange land, away from his people and his original home. As Christians, heaven is our home, and this world is the place where we do our pioneering, an area we work in for Christ and His Kingdom.
Heaven is our home, yet we’ve never been there. How can this be? We are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8), and so much of our sanctification involves our being renewed in the spirit of our mind and putting on “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24). This is a faith position that we work out in our lives by the grace and power of God’s Spirit and the instruction of His Word.
The work does not end with our sanctification but rather begins with it. There are so many more areas in need of the sanctifying work of God’s Word and Spirit, but the primary areas needing attention involve godly service, charity, and welfare. This is the thrust behind Rushdoony’s masterful, concise volume, In His Service: The Christian Calling to Charity:
[A]t one time Christian faith meant that the believer responded by actively working to bring God’s grace and mercy to others, both by word and by deed. This meant the proclamation of the whole counsel of God, the redemption of the lost, the release of the bondage of those captive to sin, poverty, disease, and to various evils. In such thinking man was never the dead end of God’s grace and mercy. The goal of God’s redeeming power and grace was not man’s soul but His Kingdom.
The Restoration of the Diaconate
The work of charity and welfare is more and more the jurisdiction of the state, as the church retreats more and more within its buildings, and the believer retreats more and more into pietism. At some point, the state shall be bankrupt, but the church won’t have much to show for its cultural and social efforts other than expensive buildings, vast properties, and burgeoning staff. This is what consumes today’s tithes and offerings.
The answer, Rushdoony saw, was in a revival and restoration of the diaconate—the deacon ministry—and a more Biblical use of the tithe. This sort of emphasis upon godly service in the areas of charity and welfare would have to be funded significantly in order to offer any semblance of a challenge to the state’s rule:
As the church revives and strengthens the diaconate and makes it a vocation for those called to it so too will the church grow and society become steadily Christianized. Nothing is clearer from Acts than the fact that the seven deacons were not part-time workers but full-time servants of Christ. The Christian Levites were the functioning grace and mercy of Christ’s Kingdom. The deacons revealed clearly that Christ’s Kingdom is indeed a government. The works of charity carried on by the deacons were in marked contrast to the costly and evil welfarism of Rome.
The Chalcedon Foundation represents a “Christian Levite” ministry—a teaching function designed to equip believers for Kingdom service—but we desperately need an army of deacons to establish the fact that “Christ’s Kingdom is indeed a government.” In other words, to show clearly by good works that the city of God is abiding among men:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:14, 16
The city of God is seen because of its light, and its light is seen in our good works, but how can such good works be seen without a clear display of charity, welfare, education, healthcare, and more?
The Work of Christian Pioneers
Does anyone have the spirit of a pioneer to help strengthen Levitical ministries and revive the social power of the diaconate? If not, let it begin within the circles of Christian Reconstruction.
We cannot all be Levites, and we cannot all be deacons, but we can all serve as pioneers by using our resources and families for the direct investment in effective Kingdom work. This is why God placed the power to distribute the tithe within the hands of the family, not the church:
The pattern is a clear one: a high degree of decentralization, with a strong emphasis on the individual and his family to govern in their spheres and to provide the necessary support to enable the Levites, or the deacons and their co-workers, to minister in God’s Name.
This is a work we can all do, and it is a work we all must do. The humanistic age is in crisis, and a nearly forty-year investment by Christians in politics has seen the world grow even worse. Isn’t it time we realized that our emphases are misplaced? Rather than try to seize the reins of civil government, shouldn’t we work to take back government from the state by way of self-government and exercising Christian dominion? We already possess the primary tools for doing such things: God’s law and the tithe.
1. R. J. Rushdoony, A Word in Season: Daily Messages on the Faith for All of Life, vol. 2 (Vallecito, CA: Chalcedon/Ross House Books, 2012), p. 103The law of God thus is a charter and constitution for a decentralized society in which the basic powers of government are exercised by God’s covenant people in their self-government in every sphere, in their families, their vocations, the tithe agencies they create to minister to a variety of social problems and needs, and so on.
2. R. J. Rushdoony, Systematic Theology in Two Volumes, vol. 1 (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1994), p. xv.
3. A Word in Season, Vol. 2 p. 103.
5. R. J. Rushdoony, In His Service: The Christian Calling to Charity (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009), p. 145.
6. ibid., p. 160.
7. ibid., p. 158.
8. ibid., p. 4.