Lighting the World

From Critical Mass – Part 3: The City on a Hill

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid (Matt. 5:14).

Lights are meant to be seen. Light makes life easier. Light makes the working day longer. The darkness that inhibits us is dispelled by the power of the light. We can work, play, or just enjoy our surroundings at any hour of the day. The darkness does not direct our pattern of existence.


Electric light did not merely chase away the darkness of the night. It changed the face of civilization. So does the light of the gospel. It is not simply that the gospel of Jesus Christ chases away the darkness of false religion; it transforms civilization. It reconstructs fallen man, and it reconstructs fallen civilization. Any view of the light of the gospel that does not include the comprehensive transforming power of God and His revealed Word is half a gospel. It is the theological equivalent of a single light bulb burning from the center of a ceiling in a large house devoid of music, air conditioning, refrigerators, washing machines, and all the other tools of dominion. Yet millions of Christians prefer such a dim gospel.

The Brightness of God’s Law

Modern antinomian theology regards the law of God as the profound darkness to be dispelled by the gospel. Its creed is simple: “No creed but Christ; no law but love.” But what we have found again and again is that the preachers who profess this simple creed keep getting caught in bed with the choir director’s daughter–or worse, with the choir director’s son. (Remember the honeymooners in the mid-1970’s, both graduates of Billy James Hargis’ American Christian University? “I have a confession to make,” the young bride said tearfully. “I have had carnal relations with Rev. Hargis.” Her husband had an identical confession for her. I wonder who was more surprised.)



Christian Reconstructionism is struggling against one of the most powerful forces in modem Christianity: man’s desire to escape personal and institutional responsibility. In his search for positive sanctions favoring irresponsibility, the modern pietist finds comfort in the doctrines of antinomianism. By abandoning the narrow biblical road of obedience to God and service to men, he also abandons lawful authority. All authority necessarily involves law. All authority involves the enforcement of standards. Without law, there can be no authority. Without authority, there can be no leadership. The modern antinomian Christian has voluntarily subordinated himself to those who will enforce the law over him. The problem is, that law is not God’s law.

There are those Christians who are wearily of ungodly tyrants and drooling incompetents ruling them.

That is where Christian Reconstruction comes in. It’s a slow struggle: the tortoise vs the hares of socialism and statism and atheism. But those hares, in their high and mighty positions of power and control, are already weak and sickly…

How is this achieved? By word-and-deed evangelism. First comes the word: sound doctrine. If it is good doctrine, it must involve both words and deeds. This is what James teaches. Because Reformed Christians have specialized in verbal doctrine, and have a handful of very tiny churches to prove it, they have written many works of academic scholarship. But they have never dealt successfully in an institutional sense with the Epistle of James. They have not developed a consistent theology that incorporates Paul’s doctrine of justification with James’ doctrine of justification. They have ignored the centrality of good works in living faith. Calvinists write commentaries on the Epistle to the Romans or the Corinthians; they do not write them on James. Their specialized verbal theology has too much trouble with the activism of James. Norman Shepherd got fired from Westminster Seminary in 1982 for even toying with the ideas found in the Epistle of James.

What Christian Reconstruction brings to the Lord’s Table is a comprehensive verbal theology that integrates Romans and James. But this is not enough. We must also integrate this verbal theology into the life of every local congregation that will have us. This means that our presence within a local congregation should help it reach critical mass– not negative critical mass but positive.

Remember, a layman is not initially responsible for the doctrinal position of the local church. He is responsible for his share of the deeds, especially those deeds that are an outgrowth of biblical law. So, he should begin where he has been given unique responsibility. Sadly, some Reconstructionists have “grabbed at the robes” prematurely. They have attempted to straighten out the leaders before they have become indispensable to those leaders. This is really stupid; it is also very common.

Believers of God’s Law-Word are not to hunger for power and control.

Service first, service consistently, and true, self-sacrificing service, is the way to go.

City vs. Lighthouse

A lighthouse has one high-intensity light. It is meant to keep ships far away. A city is, in the words of President Bush, a thousand points of light. These lights attract people who want to live in cities. This means most people on earth. The city on a hill is not to be a lighthouse. It is to be a decentralized, covenanted place where people of many talents can pursue their callings and jobs as representatives of God in history (point two of the biblical covenant model: hierarchical representation).

Shed God’s light on the world; in Church, at Work, in your Family.

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