What is Christian Reconstructionism?

What is Christian Reconstruct- ionism?
Posted by in Facebook's Pentecostal Theology Group View the Original Post

by Paul McGlasson

You may not be familiar with the terminology, but you know the ideas.

Christian Reconstructionism is a powerful mix of religious and political ideas gaining enormous strength in the American church and society. Ideas like:

  • Christians have a unique “worldview” with unique access to universal truth
  • “Christian laws” should be put in place at local, state, and federal levels
  • Christianity and American culture are two sides of the same coin
  • The proper, God-given role of Christians is to dominate the earth

Ok, let me explain.

As a pastor in a local congregation I began to notice the growing buzz surrounding these ideas, along with serious confusion about what it all means. As a theologian, I began to consider the possibility that the time had come for serious theological testing of these main ideas.

I was still thinking about the possibility when Governor Rick Perry of Texas launched his candidacy for the presidency of the United States with a prayer rally in Houston, Texas, in August 2011. It was called “The Response.” It was designed as a Christians-only effort to call on divine support for the candidacy, and to “claim” the United States for Christianity. What is not so well known is that it was organized by a group associated with Christian Reconstructionism: The New Apostolic Reformation.

So, here are some—brief—responses to the above ideas (for a more in-depth theological critique, see my new book No! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism).

Do Christians really have a “worldview” that includes everything? The friends of Job certainly thought so. According to their “worldview,” if Job suffered, it must be because he did something wrong. Why else would God punish him? But when God comes onto the scene at the end of the book, he doesn’t merely correct their false worldview, he condemns the very notion that faithful people have a worldview to begin with. God exclaims: Why, they can’t even explain the exotic grandeur of a hippopotamus (Job 40: 15 ff.); how are they going to claim to know every fact in the universe? The fact is, according to the Bible, faithful people don’t know everything.

Do Christians really have a biblical mandate to turn the judicial code of the Old Testament into the civil law of society? This would mean the death-penalty for homosexuals and adulterers; this would mean only Christian judges and congressional representatives. In fact, only Christians could vote. Christians could get reduced loan rates, while non-Christians must pay full price, and so forth and so on. Now, the issue is not the authority of the Old Testament for Christians, which I affirm along with the mainstream church. The issue is the twofold rule of love for God and neighbor, which Jesus himself, the true Interpreter of the Old Testament, gives to guide us in applying it to daily life.

Is Christianity American, and America Christian? I am not convinced. First of all, the early puritans did not leave a secular country to found a Christian nation; they left aChristian nation to found a free nation. And what about the miraculous growth of global Christianity, perhaps the miracle of our time? Christianity is not American; it is Ghanaian, Nigerian, Chinese, South Korean, Chilean, Mexican, Polish, etc. It is all of these, and none of these; because it is centered in the risen Christ alone, not in anygeographical center. Try telling a faithful servant of the risen Christ in Botswana that Christianity belongs to America!

Are we as Christians really here to dominate?  This one was the easiest question to answer of all, because the entire earthly life of Christ cries out differently. We are here to serve, only to serve, until we have nothing left.

Paul McGlasson is the author of No! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism(https://wipfandstock.com/store/No_A_Theological_Response_to_Christian_Reconstructionism) and pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Sullivan, Indiana. He received his MDiv from Yale Divinity School, and his PhD from Yale University in Systematic Theology. Before entering the parish ministry, McGlasson taught theology for several years in college and seminary.

18 Comments

  • Reply April 11, 2019

    Mark Fleming

    There is NO QUESTION, that all throughout scripture, there is and should be a “diety influence” in decision making for any government…Its is NOT exclusive to America…it started with Israel and their civil government and carries on to the gentile nations. But it can’t be “legislated”. That, you are right in my opinion. “Change the Heart, they will vote right” (ie …not kill babies..)‼️🙏🏽

  • Troy Day
    Reply April 11, 2019

    Troy Day

    Link Hudson this has been important issue for Charismatics lately Has any of the churches you attended in the ATL area held this view?

  • Ray E Horton
    Reply April 11, 2019

    Ray E Horton

    I’ve never heard anyone claim that Christianity belongs to America. And, while we are “called to serve, not to dominate,” that doesn’t mean we aren’t to influence our surroundings. The great commission is to disciple the nations.

  • Charles Page
    Reply April 11, 2019

    Charles Page

    This is the way that Tim Hill is leading the COG!

  • Link Hudson
    Reply April 12, 2019

    Link Hudson

    I haven’t heard Charismatics in these parts promoting this, but I’m not that well networked yet. I can see how it can fit with some of the kingdom now thinking.

    But I am sure there are plenty of Christians that aren’t into the whole reconstructionist thing who would like to see the government have stricter laws about many things including homosexuality and adultery. When I was a teenager, fornication, adultery, and sodomy laws were still considered valid. Now, they just don’t enforce them. The courts wouldn’t support it, probably. I haven’t followed all the legal battles about such things. If governments are supposed to punish evil-doers, why not adulterers? There was a talk show host who confessed on TV to an affair after someone tried to blackmail him for it. The state he was in had a 20 year jail term for adultery on the books. The blackmailer was prosecuted, and not the talk show host. Isn’t sexual immorality as bad or worse than blackmail?

    A hundred years ago, having laws against these forms of immorality wasn’t Christian reconstructionism. It was a normal thing. The way the article describes it, you’d think he might label the Christian Coalition as Reconstructionism, too.

    It is odd that he would suggest this would lead to lower rates for Christians for loans in a discussion of Old Testament law. In the middle ages, Christians were not allowed to charge interest to each other. Jews were not allowed to charge isnterest to each other. So Jews became bankers and pawn shop owners and charged the Roman Catholics interest. Ezra got on the case of some nobles for charging 1% interest, probably simple interest at that.

    • Troy Day
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      oh honey – you and your Pentecostal knowledge again; ONE of the greatest and largest church in Atlanta – mainly african american in membership is the historic promoter and thinker of reconstruction theology and pusher of Kingdom now – I have not followed them much but their pastor apostle is a Black Jesus preachers and quite the Christian reconstructionist I can dig up his works if you are interested or you can just attend 🙂 and come back to us with a report

    • Charles Page
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Charles Page

      Don Paulk’s church pastored by his nephew/son is a reconstructionist church. The Paulks at one time were strong COG leaders sons of Earl P Paulk, Sr.
      Earl P Paulk, Jr. was a leading minister in Pentecostal reconstructionism in Atlanta.

    • Troy Day
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Troy Day

      That was the one Thanks Charles

    • Charles Page
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Charles Page

      In spite of the morbid sexual problems surrounding the Paulk family in Atlanta there remains a strong admiration of the Paulk family by COG people and the influence of reconstructionism upon the denomination is very present.

      Pentecostalism in Atlanta is under the Paulk family reconstruction / kingdom now / dominionism

      It is in several of the large Atlanta COG congregations.

    • Link Hudson
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Charles Page Really? I actually heard one of Paulk’s nephews or cousins speak at an A/G in the 1980’s. I am not sure they would have had Paulk himself speak.

      But as far as influence on actual Pentecostal denominational churches in Atlanta goes, where does the influence come in? Do churches invite speakers from the late Paulk’s organization, go to the same events, or what?

      There is a general conservative way of thinking that was popular decades ago where many Christians believed the government should support Biblical values when it came to marriage. But it is not quite the same as Christians taking over the government and ruling society, and doesn’t have to be tied ot any particular eschatology.

    • Charles Page
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Charles Page

      many COG people attended Paulk’s church, He pastored Hemphill in 1952 and by 1960 he was out of COG due to sexual escapades. Hemphill went on to become Mount Paran and Paulk later started the Catherdal of Praise with continued sexual escapades. He died as pastor and the Catherdal failed to continue and his brother, Don Paulk assumed pastorate of a smaller building called Catherdal of the Holy Spirit, where the reconstruction values are predominant.

      None of the Paulk family are involved in COG ministries due to the over riding sexual controversies that plague the family.
      However the teaching of Earl P Paulk, Junior (not Paulk, senior) infiltrated into the COG ranks and is a growing belief today.

      I believe that Paul L. Walker is under the reconstructionist Atlanta spell. Mount Paran, north and Mount Paran, central

    • Link Hudson
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Charles Page 1960 is quite a while back. Was he into Kingdom Now that far back? Paulk used to be on TV in the 1980’s, but wouldn’t COG pastors have been preaching or getting ready for church?

    • Charles Page
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Charles Page

      He got his start in urbanization in the 50’s at Hemphill by introducing multiculturalism into the church. He experienced phenomenal growth till he lost his credentials and had to leave. He opened the doors for multi-cultural ministries and started a trend in the COG. He was in opposition to the tradition of his father and abandoned the COG teaching his father strongly upheld. He was inclusive in Church outreach from the outset. He was the speaker for the COG National broadcast “Forward in Faith” masterful speaker and in many COG committee functions. His influence began in the 50s in Atlanta.

    • Link Hudson
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Link Hudson

      Charles Page Didn’t he lose influence with the COG folks at some points with the scandals and turned around collar, and girls with pam pam cymbol looking things at the front dancing around when Pentecostals didn’t do that stuff?

    • Charles Page
      Reply April 12, 2019

      Charles Page

      COG is heavy into that stuff today, yes, Paulk introduced worship arts to reach another level of society. His brother, Don’s wife was an eloquent pianist and worship leader.

  • Troy Day
    Reply April 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    Charles Page only Link Hudson or Melvin Harter can answer that BUT just a few weeks ago we had in the group one RESEARCH IN PENTECOSTAL ESCHATOLOGY that claimed departure from pre-mil http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/research-in-pentecostal-eschatology/

    There is ALSO a very interesting theological read with references to Pentecostalism by well known a post-millennial Gary North http://www.pentecostaltheology.com/a-very-interesting-theological-read-with-references-to-pentecostalism-by-well-known-a-post-millennial-gary-north/

  • Nora Neel-Toney
    Reply April 12, 2019

    Nora Neel-Toney

    Never heard of it

  • Troy Day
    Reply April 12, 2019

    Troy Day

    Link Hudson I am surprised how little you know about your own history but then again reconstructionism has been well masked with other more flashy terms in general Charismatism so it is kind of understandable when one only gets facts from the internet

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