Much later, if ever...
by Tom Van Dyke
My blogsister Lindsey Shuman posts an alarming alarm by the very alarmed Michelle Goldberg about the very alarming "Rise of Christian Nationalism."
Then some of the readers of this blog seemed to get very alarmed themselves.
The centerpiece of Ms. Goldberg's jeremiad is a cabal of "Dominionists" like RJ Rushdoony and his Chalcedon Foundation. A "Christian Nation" is established, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ follows.
Oy. That's very alarming. Let's look at what they're saying, then:
For one thing, I like the Wikipedia OK, but the link above calls Gary North a "well-known" theologian.
But Gary North is not a well-known theologian, even if my colleague Jonathan Rowe quotes him often enough. Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar are well-known theologians. Gary North is just some guy with a Ph.D in economic history from the University of California (Riverside) who happens to be the son-in-law of the late Rousas John Rushdoony, the Dominionist godfather.
Rushdoony is more well-known: whether or not he's a theologian is questionable, as the man was equally uncredentialed. But let's get past all that and get to their theologico-political claims:
As near as I can figger out their theology, the Second Coming of Jesus won't happen until mankind freely chooses to establish a Biblical theocracy and have it last for 1000 years, more or less. Post-millenialism, they call it.
So in other words, even the Dominionists [also called "Christian Reconstructionists"]---who are "extreme" by any socio-political measure, I suppose---don't aspire to take over the government by force. Their theology is simply that if/when a Christian theocracy is established [with the Second Coming to follow some 1000 years later], it will be by man's free choice.
Now, back here in the real world, there seems little danger of this ever growing into anything more than an abstract hope, in our lifetime or any other. Because if man could live under Biblical principles or even the "natural law" for 1000 years, he wouldn't even need a Heaven. Earth would become one.
Mebbe our Puritanism expert Lori Stokes can help out here, but even the Mayflower types couldn't fill up a single boat with Puritans for the maiden voyage to these shores. They were forced to include a bunch of non-Puritan riffraff to fill the holds for their one-way ticket to paradise just to finance the trip.
So much for the promise of theocracy. You can't even round up enough people to fill up a boat, and even if you did, things would go to hell soon after you landed.
We needn't worry about Michelle Goldberg's bogeymen, the Christian Reconstructionists, I think. They aren't oiling up their guns or sharpening their knives, nor have they bombed anything or anyone. They know that at least for any foreseeable future, the riffraff will always be with us, as they were from the beginning.
They're quite comporting with the American Way, to convince rather than coerce, fair play under the American principle of pluralism. I think it's safe to turn off the alarm for at least another 1000 years or so.