Chalcedon on Religious Institutions

Quote from Christ’s Army of Royal Priests:

The church is God’s covenant people; these people are the recipients and channels of God’s real presence and glory on earth; they are soldiers in God’s war against the powers of darkness, the heirs of God’s Kingdom, and the possessors of eternal life.[1]

Do you think the church views itself this way? Consider the modern megachurch who bears the enormous financial burden of a multi-million dollar budget to sustain sizable property, extensive buildings, and staff expenses. It stands to reason that their primary battle is bringing in revenue which rarely leaves much else for advancing against the powers of darkness.

Or consider Roman Catholicism where we see the most clear distinction between clergy and laity to where the main clerical objective is the guarding and administration of sacraments. This produces an “ecclesiastical pietism” in which the sacred is kept as far away from the secular as possible.

Other churches can be equally handicapped by their own points of emphasis. This does not discount the valuable work that many churches are doing, but it’s difficult for any institution to emphasize something greater than itself if it expects to survive. For the denomination, the focus is on the denomination. For the local church, the focus is the same only on a smaller scale.

The end result is a de-emphasis on the work of the laity which can be construed as a weakening of one of the cries of the Reformation: “the priesthood of all believers.” If you consider the way ecclesiastical power operates today, you’d see that such an emphasis upon an empowered laity would represent a potential threat to the institution:

The church has by and large paid lip service to the priesthood of all believers, because its hierarchy has distrusted the implications of the doctrine, and because it has seen the church as an end in itself, not as an instrument.[2]

If all of God’s people are priests, then all of life must be made holy. Therefore, the emphasis must be on the empowering and equipping of the laity and not the institution:

The work of the laity must be seen as a chaplaincy, a carrying of the life of the faith into every area of life and thought. The layman does not leave the church when he walks out of the building; if it is not his life in his calling, then he is never in the church on Sundays either.[3]

Quote from Christian Reconstruction Is Not Dead:

To the critic, Christian Reconstruction or dominionism is a political doctrine in which fundamentalist Christians are encouraged to pursue a takeover of the existing civil government in order to impose Biblical law on an unwilling population. Under the two-terms of George W. Bush this conspiracy theory about the threat of Christian theocracy filled left-wing periodicals and blogs, but has since died down after two-terms of Barack Obama and now the preoccupation with the populist Donald Trump. And since the Religious Right has lost its prowess, should one assume that Christian Reconstruction is dead?

Christian Reconstruction is not dead, and it was never a political doctrine. In fact, the great mistake made by most critics is that since they themselves are statist and politically-driven, they assume all opposing parties have the same goals. And in the case of Christian Reconstruction, they stumble over the stumbling stone of the foundation of Rushdoony’s thought. For example, critics never reference his simple concept of government:

When people today speak of “government,” they mean the state, whereas in truth government begins with the self-government of the Christian man, and government means the family, church, school, our vocation, our society and its many institutions and agencies, and only partially the state.[1]

However, Rushdoony was no anarchist, and he wrote plainly about his views of civil government in his book Christianity and the State in which he focuses on the religious nature of law and government:

Not only is every church a religious institution, but every state or social order is a religious establishment. Every state is a law order, and every law order represents an enacted morality, with procedures for the enforcement of that morality. Every morality represents a form of theological order, i.e., is an aspect and expression of a religion. The church thus is not the only religious institution; the state also is a religious institution. More often than the church, the state has been the central religious institution of most civilizations through the centuries.[2]

[…]

If the critics were honest with themselves, it’s not a Christian politician they fear but rather a strengthening of Christianity itself because they know that at the heart of the culture war is religion. It’s not an issue of church and state but rather that the state as a religious institution disestablished its biggest competitor—Biblical law.

Two Points from the Quotes:

  • The institutional church needs to build up the spiritual might of the layman and laywoman, and not centralize power into itself. THIS is the way to expand the Kingdom of God, to all of life, everywhere humans tread.
  • Biblical Law is the enemy of humanism.

I would add that Biblical Law is not just the enemy of humanism, but also the enemy of many Christians… most definitely including the clergy.

Time to purge the pulpits.

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