Why Ron Paul appeals to Christian Reconstructionists

I think I may have this figured out.

I have been thinking about why New Apostolic Reformation dominionists like Rick Perry, and Michelle Bachmann but Christian reconstruction dominionists like Ron Paul. We know why they don’t like Mitt Romney (hint – in Christian dominionism of any sort, Mormons can’t implement biblical law).

But back to NAR vs. Christian reconstructionists; the focus of control is different. The NAR folks want to rule America as a Christian nation from the seat of centralized power in Washington DC. The Christian reconstructionists want to deconstruct central government in favor of state or local control of law. Bachmann and Perry promise to govern biblically and impose their view of Christian America on the nation. Paul promises to dismantle the federal government in favor of the states.

In fact, the Christian reconstructionists are afraid of the NAR dominionists. Recontructionist Joel McDurmon wants biblical law in place but he thinks the NAR approach is a dangerous power grab:

Can you imagine John Hagee as Secretary of State?

This is exactly the threat—top-down threat, totalitarian threat, eschatological holocaust threat—that 7MD presents to us.

American Vision is not that; they are not us; we are not them.

Perhaps more should be written on these guys and the threats they pose to society. They may have a few better political ideas, but they are just as dangerous in degree as the most radical of the left.

McDurmon distinguishes his view of government from the NAR (7Mountains) approach:

The First and most concerning point is that the 7MD version does what critics of traditional dominion theology have falsely accused us of doing the whole time: planning to grab the reins of influence through whatever means necessary, usurp the seats of political power, and impose some tyrannical “theocracy” upon society from the top down with a “whether you like it or not, it’s for your own good” mentality.

We have responded, consistently, that our blueprint is about the rollback of tyranny, not the replacement of it—the removal of unjust taxation, welfare, warfare, government programs, etc. We favor privatization, local control of civil and criminal law, hard and sound money, and private charity for cases of poverty, all led by families, businesses, and churches—not large, centralized, top-down solutions. Yes, we would properly recriminalize sodomy, adultery, and abortion, but in a decentralized world like we want, you could leave easily if you didn’t like that.

So at least some of the ends are the same, but the Christian reconstructionists want to rollback the central government and allow states and local governments to make and enforce law with the Bible as a guide. Those who didn’t agree could go somewhere else. The reconstructionist desire to locate power away from the central government is what, I believe, brings in endorsements from reconstructionist pastors, like Phillip Kayser.

A very explicit reconstructionist case for Ron Paul was made recently on the Theonomy resources website by Bojidar Marinov. As a reconstructionist, his support for Paul was based not on his personal views but on his overall philosophy of governance. Marinov wrote:

It is not Ron Paul that we are looking at when we vote for him; we are looking at God’s purpose for our generation; at what enemies He wants us to rout in our generation; and at what must be done in our generation to advance the Kingdom of God.

The great Battle of Our Time is the battle against the socialist welfare-warfare state. While the issues of abortion and sodomy – the two issues that Stephen criticizes Ron Paul for – are important, they are to a very great extent subservient to the issue of the socialist state. Sodomites and abortionists are protected by the centralized government in Washington, DC. The theonomic solution to the problems of sodomy and abortion can not be achieved at the Federal level because at that level liberals outnumber conservatives 20 to 1. And theonomic Christians are almost non-existent at that level. It is only when the socialist state is dismantled and power returned back to the states and the counties that we will be able to successfully deal with the other social and moral issues. As long as sin is protected at the Federal level, our political job as Christians is to dismantle the Federal bureaucracy and return all power to the local communities. Therefore, the great battle is against the socialist state.
Given that, Ron Paul is the man with the best position to work for that goal on the national level. We must join him not because of him but because we recognize the great battle, and recognize where our place is. Once we win that battle, we can move to the next one. But refusing support to an ally for the most important issue we are facing today only because we find deal-breakers in smaller issues is not wise.

The job of theonomists (those who believe the Bible should be the civil law) is to dismantle the Federal government. When issues of morality (sodomites and abortionists) are taken from the central government and put into to the localities can the real Christian reconstruction begin (see this post if you want to know what that means).

Does Paul fit the reconstructionist vision? Given the current political alternatives, I can see why reconstructionists would think so. Consider Paul’s criticism of the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas that overturned laws against sodomy.

Consider the Lawrence case decided by the Supreme Court in June. The Court determined that Texas had no right to establish its own standards for private sexual conduct, because gay sodomy is somehow protected under the 14th amendment “right to privacy.” Ridiculous as sodomy laws may be, there clearly is no right to privacy nor sodomy found anywhere in the Constitution. There are, however, states’ rights — rights plainly affirmed in the Ninth and Tenth amendments. Under those amendments, the State of Texas has the right to decide for itself how to regulate social matters like sex, using its own local standards. But rather than applying the real Constitution and declining jurisdiction over a properly state matter, the Court decided to apply the imaginary Constitution and impose its vision on the people of Texas.

Viewed from the lens of state’s rights, Paul’s praise of the voter recall of Iowa Supreme Court judges over gay marriage and his support for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, incomprehensible to the NAR dominionist who wants ideological purity, make sense and is actually a plus for the Christian reconstructionist. In Paul’s vision, the people in the states do what they want with various sinners, the Feds will just protect their right to do so. Your civil rights in this kind of world would depend on the state in which you live. If you live in California, then the sky is the limit; if you live in Mississippi then, as recontrustionist McDurmon advises, you better either move, or, as Paul supporter Phillip Kayser hopes, get back in whatever closet you came out of.

Update: Talking Points Memo spoke to Phillip Kayser today and he confirmed my thoughts above. Paul is appealing because reconstruction would be easier in a decentralized America. Now, what will Paul do with that information?


What Does Ron Paul Really Believe About Gays?

What do Dan Savage and AFTAH’s Mike Heath have in common?

Ron Paul touts endorsement of pastor who defends death penalty for gays, delinquent children & adultery

What dominionists would do with gays (disobedient children, sabbath breakers, etc.), Part 3

On Monday and Tuesday, I published posts examining what dominionists (short hand for Christians who believe Old Testament law should be the basis for civil law) recommend for people who violate aspects of Mosaic law. Today, I briefly examine a 2011 book by Stephen Che Halbrook titled, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.
The book is an extension of a Master’s thesis presented at Regent University in 2008. The thesis and the book calls on government to use the Old Testament moral code as a basis for civil law, including the death penalty for blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, disobedient children, adulterers and gays.
Halbrook runs the Theonomy Resources and teaches at The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy. New Geneva is a college-level school which is endorsed by American Vision’s Gary DeMar, Chaplain Ray Moore, of Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate, and Mark Rushdoony, son of R. J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism.
Basically, Halbrook says that capital punishment for violators of biblical law benefits society. Throughout the book he makes the case that the laws governing all of us should reflect “God’s law as applied to the realm of civil government (which is mostly found in the Older Testament).” (p.xxi). Here is a sampling of recommendations for capital sanctions. On disobedient children he writes:

To all this we must add that capital sanctions for those who repudiate parental authority protect the family from treason. Many today would think capital punishment for treason against the family is extreme, but on the other hand, capital punishment for treason against the state is a necessity. (p. 205)

On Sabbath-breaking:

Given the evidence that criminality begins with Sabbath breaking, we see the importance of the Sabbath capital sanction. Fear of execution by the state deters many would-be criminals from embracing a life of crime and executing innocent people. Thus the more lax society becomes regarding the Bible’s penalty for Sabbath-breaking, the more society can expect to contend with crime. “[T]he wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the wages of the heinous sin of Sabbath breaking on a societal level results in death on a societal level. (p. 191)

In general, God’s law as understood by Reconstructionist authors is to be the law of the land. On sanctions against blasphemy, Halbrook writes:

In sum, the purpose of civil government is not primarily to defend the rights of man, but the rights of God. God’s rights over the state entail the state’s requirement to recognize God as Lord over the state (i.e., the highest political authority), and the state’s requirement to execute God’s wrath in His prescribed manner. This in no way diminishes human rights, but increases them. As we can see from the necessity of theocentric laws that we discussed, to disregard God’s rights—which are the rights from which all human rights derive—is to disregard man’s rights. And what right of God is more fundamental than not to be blasphemed? (p. 155)

This is similar to the thinking of Islamic clerics who defend anti-blasphemy laws in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, where Christian mother of five, Asia Bibisits in a prison cell waiting to see if her sentence of death for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed will be carried out. Of course, among the other capital sanctions, Halbrook has a chapter on “sodomite” acts. He begins this chapter:

Before exploring this topic, we must note that Christians must evangelize sodomites. This in no way conflicts with the capital sanction against those convicted of engaging in sodomite acts, a sanction which helps protect potential sodomites from themselves as well as society, as we shall see, from suicide.

Aren’t you warmed by the fact that he wants to “evangelize” and “protect potential sodomites from themselves?” Halbrook’s chapter about gays is filled with quotes from Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika (the book is refuted here). Drawing on Lively’s characterization of National Socialism as a “sodomite movement,” Halbrook justifies his position:

But as we have seen, justifying sodomy on the grounds of it being a private act doesn’t work, because it contributes greatly to a society’s cup of iniquity that can result in God’s destruction of that society. What good is it for a society to promote the freedom for all to participate in the lifestyle of their choice if a society isn’t around to promote it?

The 503 page book is comprehensive in defense of applying Old Testament law to civil life, even including a chapter defending stoning and burning as methods of capital punishment. One endorser of the book is Buddy Hanson. Hanson is the Alabama representative to the Exodus Mandate, a home school support group which calls for all Christians to remove their children from the public school. Hanson wrote in support:

With God’s grace, God Is Just: A Defense Of The Old Testament Civil Laws will be used to bring American Christians to repentance and back to honoring God’s Word through their daily decisions.

Halbrook cites Hanson (as well as R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, etc.) as providing justification for imposing biblical laws on a society. Halbrook writes:

And so Buddy Hanson is correct: “By not ‘imposing’ Christian beliefs on others, we allow them to ‘impose’ their beliefs on us.”455 (This endorses imposing Christian beliefs about biblical law—it does not endorse imposing conversions.) Pluralism is no less impositional than other political system—and actually, it is potentially the most impositional. Being polytheistic and thereby lacking anything beyond the coercion of the state by which to unite others, pluralism naturally tends towards outright totalitarianism, and even imperialism. (pp. 169-170).

Do unto others before they do unto you.
Some readers may believe I am giving too much attention to what appears to be a movement on the fringe of the evangelical community. Clearly, a large portion of evangelicals would be offended by this book and feel out of place in the churches where this teaching is offered. If anything, bringing this to light highlights just how diverse evangelicalism is.
Still, theonomy (the term those in the movement prefer) cannot be ignored. The groups in the theonomy world (American Vision, Exodus Mandate, Vision Forum) have political influence within the Christian Right and seek broader impact. If Halbrook is correct, some theonomists have designs on infiltrating the broader Christian Right to pursue their goals. Mostly, Halbrook criticizes the Christian right for being aligned with political conservatism, writing

The Christian Right—the largest group of politically-active Christians in America—rejects the Bible’s requirement of the state to uphold the O.T. civil laws. Instead, it embraces political conservatism. But conservatism, as pointed out, lacks an unchanging moral anchor (see Appendix D). Thus the Christian Right is handicapped by its marriage with political conservatism.

However, quoting a 1992 book by Matthew Moen, Halbrook holds out hope that perhaps Reconstructionists could save the Christian right:

Other evidence that the secularization of the Christian Right may be limited to that time frame [the Reagan era] is found in the emergence of Christian Reconstructionism. It emphasizes the utility of the first five books of the Old Testament for ordering contemporary American society, a goal that Bruce Barron and Anson Shupe have noted proceeds well beyond the Christian Right in scope yet has certain affinities related to ‘recapturing’ institutions from secular forces. … [T]he penetration of the Christian Right by Reconstructionists may halt, or even reverse, the process of secularization described. (from Moen, 1992, p. 425 in Halbrook).

While such a take over may be no more likely now than in 1992, I am concerned that theonomists and dominionists of several persuasions, notably the New Apostolic Reformation movement, continues to make gains in GOP and evangelical circles.
See also Part 1 and Part 2 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 1 examines the differences between New Apostolic Reformation dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionist variety. Part 2 briefly describes the views of the American Family Association spokesperson on criminalizing homosexual activity.