“A Christian Manifesto”
By Rousas John Rushdoony
The best description of the tenets of Christian Reconstruction, as espoused by Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, is found in his “Christian Manifesto”1:
- Sovereignty is an attribute of God alone, not of man nor the state. God alone is Lord or Sovereign over all things; over state, school, family, vocations, society and all things else.
- The Bible is given as the common law of men and nations and was for most of U. S. History the common law, as Justice Story declared.
- Salvation is not by politics, education, the church, or any agency or person other than Jesus Christ our Lord.
- The myth of Machiavelli, that, by state control at the top, bad men can make a good society is at the root of our cultural crisis and growing collapse. A good omelet cannot be made with bad eggs. Truly redeemed men are necessary for a good society.2
- Civil rulers who rule without the Lord and His law word are, as Augustine said, no different than a mafia, only more powerful.
- The state is not the government, but one form of government among many, others being the self-government of the Christian man, the family, the school, the church, vocations and society. The state is civil government, a ministry of justice.
- For the state to equate itself with government is tyranny and evil.
- The Christian man is the only true free man in all the world, and he is called to exercise dominion over all the earth.
- Humanism is the way of death and is the essence of original sin, or man trying to be his own god.
- All men, things, and institutions must serve God, or be judged by Him.
“It is urgently important that we think now of Christian reconstruction, but our thinking cannot be idle talk: it must be both Biblical and also practically applied in our daily life. There are many people ready to eliminate statism, but they have nothing but wishing to replace it. How then will independent schools, private welfare, and individual initiative deal with the vast complex of our social problems? Already most of our Christian conservative causes, and Christian schools, are continually short of funds. What is the answer?
“In any advanced social order, social financing is a major public necessity. The social order cannot exist without a vast network of social institutions which require financing and support. If a Christian concept of social financing is lacking, then the state moves in quickly to supply the lack and gain the social control which results. Social financing means social power.”3
1. R. J. Rushdoony, Chalcedon Report No. 225, “A Christian Manifesto,” April 1984 (c.f., Roots of Reconstruction, p. 1114f).
2. This is not to suggest that Rushdoony endorsed simply replacing “bad men” with “godly men” at the top of a state-run society. Rushdoony’s concept of theocracy was not a centralized form of power in the hands of clerical leaders. He wrote, “Few things are more commonly misunderstood than the nature and meaning of theocracy. It is commonly assumed to be a dictatorial rule by self-appointed men who claim to rule for God. In reality, theocracy in Biblical law is the closest thing to a radical libertarianism that can be had” (Roots of Reconstruction, p. 63).
3. R. J. Rushdoony, Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991), 605.