Saturday, February 05, 2005
Warning: What I am about to reveal might well mark me out as a theological leper. My blog may well have to be torn down, word by word, and cast outside the blogosphere. I held to a theonomic reconstructionist position once. During my last year or so as a Baptist, I was firmly in favour of the reconstructionist movement. I read lots of North, Rushdoony, Bahnsen and the like (for some reason I didn't really 'get' Jordan at this time; he seemed to be working on a totally different wavelength). When I became a paedobaptist in conviction my former interest in reconstructionism rapidly waned. For some reason, after becoming a paedobaptist I did not pick up a reconstructionist book again. After a few months as a paedobaptist the issue of reconstructionism was raised and I gradually realized that I just wasn't a reconstructionist any more. I think that it was a greater appreciation of development in redemptive history that persuaded me against it. That may seem a strange thing to say, considering the fact that I was moving from a Baptist to a paedobaptist position, but that was the way that it was. By now I have moved quite some way away from the reconstructionist position. In retrospect I see huge problems in the approach taken by the reconstructionists. I no longer find their approach to biblical law persuasive, and their approach to economics seems deeply problematic too. That said, the manner in which they have been caricatured by their opponents troubles me. Today I made comments here and here and tried to come to defence of the reconstructionists against those who would dismiss them all as fanatical crackpots (although many of them are). My comments were not appreciated. Whilst many others might want to bury their past connections to the reconstructionist movement (possibly as a result of painful experiences, which I understand), I believe that I have an awful lot to thank them for. I have come to realize that if it was not for the reconstructionists, I would not hold the position that I hold today. When I first read the reconstructionists I was excited to find people who were trying to take the whole Bible seriously. There was an uncomfortable silence in many of the evangelical writers that I read when it came to thinking out the contemporary implications of verses such as Leviticus 20:13 (death penalty for homosexuals). These writers might talk about the continuity of the two testamants and the fact that the OT provides Christians with ethical standards that are applicable for today. However, these writers were unwilling to give any thought to the possibility that such a sanction as that of Leviticus 20:13 might have a place today. The notion was not so much wrong as simply unthinkable and the possibility could never be entertained for a moment. I soon became aware that many texts were an embarrassment to most evangelicals and they refused to look the text in the eye. They were trying to convince themselves that it had no application for today, because they could not stomach the idea that it might. It was the willingness of the reconstructionists to do serious business with such texts that really drew me to them. Deep down I am probably just a fundamentalist who is determined to be led by Scripture, rather than my prejudices, even if I might end up in places where I do not want to go. I hate the idea that I should let any text be an embarrassment to me. In the OT, our gracious God commanded that homosexuals be put to death and, consequently, the subject should not be treated as taboo; we must do full justice to God's Word. The reconstructionists taught me never to be ashamed of Scripture and to take the Bible seriously, even when — especially when — it went entirely against my grain to do so. Naturally, I hate the idea of putting homosexuals to death. Naturally, I think it is barbaric and sickening. However, I must commit myself to be led by Scripture, rather than by my gut feelings. This commitment eventually led me to become a paedobaptist. This commitment also led me to abandon reconstructionism itself. This commitment has led me to entertain the possibility that the Reformers may have been wrong in their portrayal of first century Judaism and has contributed to my willingness to read and appreciate NPP authors. Being a reconstructionist gave me a crash course in the ability of Reformed Christians to bear false witness against their brothers. Having seen the manner in which reconstructionism had been caricatured and misrepresented, I took the Reformed critiques of Wright with a pinch of salt. Reading the reconstructionists gave me a desire to read as widely as possible. Before reading the reconstructionists, my reading was limited to certain 'safe' Reformed authors. As I read the reconstructionists I came to be aware of the need for Christians to read more widely. I started to read some of the people that they footnoted. I read von Mises. I read Rothbard. I read Postman. I read Schmemann. I read Schilder. Reading these authors exposed me to even more authors. I started to see the Church as something far bigger than the narrow evangelical or Reformed traditions. I started to believe that Christians had something biblical to contribute to the various different intellectual conversations within our society and that thoughtful Christian faith was not limited to the ghetto of theological departments. Just needed to say that.