Before I graduated from high school, I had come in contact with R.J. Rushdoony [Google], founder of the "Christian Reconstruction" movement. Soon thereafter, I wanted to be "the next Rushdoony" when I grew up. Some would say neither one has happened yet. I became a "Chalcedon Scholar" and wrote a regular column for The Chalcedon Report. I substituted on occasion for Rev. Rushdoony in the pulpit which he regularly occupied and from which he first delivered the contents of his magnum opus, The Institutes of Biblical Law. I was an overnight guest at his home. David Chilton and I met regularly with
Rushdoony for mentoring. The Institute for Christian Economics (Gary North) also published several of my articles. North described this article as "dynamite."
Rushdoony was influential in starting the "scientific creationism" movement, by getting a book called The Genesis Flood published. Becoming a creationist was for me the first of many radicalizing departures from the status quo. My first article published by Chalcedon was on the creationist issue.
One of Rushdoony's protégés was Greg Bahnsen, who wrote the book Theonomy in Christian Ethics (1977). "Theonomy" comes from two Greek words meaning "God's Law." The alternative is man's law, or autonomy.
Vine & Fig Tree
I graduated from USC with a degree in political science in 1979. Because of the negative things Rushdoony said about secular universities, I did not want to go to college, hoping to move more directly to a Rushdoony-like career, but my father (a USC alumnus) was insistent. Perhaps the most enjoyable class I had was a class on "Political Philosophy" with John Hospers, who had been the Chairman of the Philosophy Department until he ran for President as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1972. Hospers could be described as a "minarchist." He believed society needed a small civil government. One of his recommended textbooks was Murray Rothbard's For A New Liberty. This was a
breathtaking book in the mid-1970's. Rothbard argued that society needed no "civil government" whatsoever. I didn't think Hospers defended his minimal state against Rothbard's critique. My memory of chronology fails me, but if I was not an anarchist walking into Hospers' class, I was when I walked out.
I am Not an Archist.
Beginning around 1978 I began writing for an organization I envisioned called Vine & Fig Tree, which obtained tax-exempt status from the IRS as a non-profit corporation in 1982. The name comes from the Old Testament Prophet Micah, who spoke of a day when we beat our "swords into plowshares" and everyone dwells securely under his own vine and fig tree. More Info. I received positive encouragement on this venture from Dorothy Rushdoony, and on the trip back home from Vallecito, I think I realized that my future was not with Chalcedon, but rather with Vine & Fig Tree. My "swords into plowshares" pacifism, combined with a rejection of capital
punishment (on strictly "Theonomic" grounds), seemed to me to be the logical development of Rushdoony's thinking, but ran contrary to the prevailing views of the "Christian Reconstructionist" mainstream.
My mother taught in California public schools for 30 years. The first job I had after graduating from college was teaching in a small Christian school. Part of our ministry to the homeless was teaching English as a second language to dozens of "illegal" immigrants. One of my housemates went on to teach in public schools, and I spent many hours helping her with bureaucratic administrative paper work.
Rushdoony was a proponent of Christian education, frequently appearing as an expert witness in Christian school cases vs. the increasingly-secular government. I worked with homeschoolers and studied law to help defend them in court. This was when homeschooling was illegal in California. By the time I passed the California Bar Exam, it was less persecuted. But then I was told by a Federal District Court in Los Angeles that because my allegiance to God was greater than my allegiance to the State, I could not be permitted to take the oath to "support the Constitution" required of all would-be attorneys, so I could not get a license to practice law. Details
I shared the pulpit at a small church in Anaheim, CA with David Chilton, until he joined Gary North, James B. Jordan and the "Christian Reconstructionists" in Tyler, TX. Greg L. Bahnsen, one of the leaders of the "Christian Reconstruction" movement and a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, wanted to see if he could get me ordained in the OPC by apprenticing me, rather than through the modern "seminary" system. I thought that was quixotic, but I enjoyed his one-on-one mentoring. Bahnsen was a Christian scholar with integrity and a sharp mind. Scholarship is a virtue. Bahnsen taught me
that we should treat our intellectual opponents with Biblical love (1 Corinthians 13:5-7), and interact with their arguments with respect.
After passing the Bar Exam, I spent the better part of a decade with a small group of Christian anarchists who rented a large house in the "wrong" part of town and opened its doors to those who were homeless and wanted to get clean and sober, find a job, and save up first- and last-month's rent for a place of their own. We gave shelter and encouragement to over 1,000 people during the time I lived there, with an average of about 19 people at a time sharing our home, and served tens of thousands of meals and passed out thousands of bags of groceries to the poor in our neighborhood. We held weekly candlelight vigils in front of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station to question militarism and violence.
Our house was called "Isaiah House," and took its inspiration from Peter Maurin, a man who thought a great deal like Rushdoony. Maurin was a decisive influence in the life of Dorothy Day, a socialist agitator in the New Deal era, who converted to Christianity and founded the Catholic Worker movement, largely perceived today as a "left-wing" movement. Maurin said, "I am a radical of the right. I go right to the right because I know it is the only way not to get left." Maurin advised, "Read Our Enemy the State by Albert Jay Nock."
I moved in with these Catholic Anarchists because I saw in their kitchen and dining room the closest thing I'd seen to the L'Abri fellowship under Francis and Edith Schaeffer, a family setting I greatly admired and to which I aspired. The closest I came to the Schaeffers was seeing Francis Schaeffer live at the Anaheim Convention Center in 1977 when he was on tour promoting his book and film, How Should We Then Live.
When my father got lung cancer, I left the Catholic Worker and helped him gulp down 70 pills a day and daily pumped into his heart two liters of an anti-cancer solution under an FDA clinical trial in Houston, TX. After his death I moved my mother back to Missouri (where she was born), and our house was destroyed by a tornado. After being taken by helicopter to the hospital, she came back to my care on a feeding tube. For six years she was immobile, and for the last three years of her life my full-time job was turning her over in bed every three hours to avoid bed sores. She died a few hours before 2015 began.
During all of the above, I have been researching and writing, preparing to advance the Vine & Fig Tree vision, and have produced in the neighborhood of 2,000 webpages and blog posts. Some of them have been duplicated on other sites by people I don't think I've even met.
2016 and Beyond
That brings us to this campaign for "Liberty Under God."
Beginning in 2002, I have been a perennial candidate for U.S. Congress, both before and after I moved to Missouri.
I am actually an "anti-candidate."
When I first decided to run, it was primarily to gain a soapbox. I knew I had no chance of winning any election (or being inaugurated into any political office). But being an "official" "candidate" presented an opportunity to appear on radio, TV, and newspaper which an "ordinary" propagandist cannot get.
My first decision was which political Party to affiliate with. I decided against the Constitution Party because of their advocacy of state violence against immigrants. I joined the Libertarian Party even though it is not an explicitly Christian party, as the Constitution Party is.
Let me compare my views with those of the Christian Reconstructionists, using the statement from Chalcedon.
Vine & Fig Tree
|The best description of the tenets of Christian Reconstruction, as espoused by Dr. R. J. Rushdoony, is found in his "Christian Manifesto":
|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.
||I agree wholeheartedly with this. I also believe "the State" is a fundamentally rebellious institution, and the institutional "church" -- especially the Roman one -- has often been an imitation of the State, so God's sovereignty over these institutions is less prescriptive than some Reconstructionists claim. A family or business can say "God is sovereign over the way we run this [family/business]." The claim being made is that the institution is Theonomic rather than autonomous with regard to God's Law in the Bible. "The State" can never say this with any (non-self-deceived) honesty or reality.
(I would tweak Rushdoony's claim that America's Founders only ascribed "sovereign" to God, and never to the State.)
|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.
||A vitally important issue.
I would go further: politics is a vehicle for reprobation, not salvation. The presence of politics in a society is an index of bad character. Jesus told His disciples not to be such people (the Greek word in Mark's Gospel is "archist." Christians are not to be "archists." If you connect the dots, you get "an-archist." There is only One Archist in this universe. I am not an archist. My goal is to show Christians how to become "Christian Anarchists." [The Marketing Dept. is trying to come up with a better word.])
|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
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).
You may have heard the saying, "Power corrupts." The man who wrote this, Lord Acton, was a Christian anarchist. (Or pretty close.) (I think he would be if he were here today.) Most people who have heard that "power corrupts" have not heard the rest of the paragraph. Compare what Lord Acton said with what Jesus said:
|You know that those who are considered archists over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones exercise authority over them.
Yet it shall not be so among you;
|Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
Why does power corrupt? Because "power" -- being a legal "archist" -- is a license to do harm to others without doing any time. With no consequences, there is no reason not to be an archist. From being an archist over one's neighbor, it becomes easier to become an archist over millions.
"Great" men want this power.
|Civil rulers who rule without the Lord and His law word are, as Augustine said, no different than a mafia, only more powerful.
||Agreed, but civil rulers are always ruling without God and His Law. By definition. Nowhere in Biblical Law is there a command to form a "civil magistrate." There are only commands to submit to them when God sends them as a judgment. Creating or maintaining a "mafia" is sinful. Same with "the State." Sure, it's better for society if the mafia and the civil government promote Christianity rather than nihilism, perversion and violence, but in the long run, both the Mafia and the State must be abolished if a moral and humane society is to flourish.
|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.
||I agree on the importance of institutions like family and business. I disagree with the claim that God affirmatively commands the formation of "the State."
|For the state to equate itself with government is tyranny and evil.
America's Founding Fathers would say that the U.S. is a mega-tyranny. They would abolish it.
|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.
||Some institutions -- like the Mafia -- will disappear when its members self-consciously obey God. Same with "the State." Both will always be judged by God if they refuse to repent themselves out of existence. ("Judged" means "punished.")
|"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."
|I think this paragraph may have been a hint for tax-deductible donations to Chalcedon. The issue is much deeper.
Statism cannot be replaced without nurturing self-government. Libertarians frequently ignore this. So do conservatives.
Too many Americans do not wish to eliminate the State because they believe the State gives them "something for nothing": "free" roads, "free" education, "free" healthcare, "free" retirement security, etc. They would rather not have to take responsibility for these things, and would rather not be given the freedom (and responsibility) to choose to buy these services from an array of competing private enterprises in a free market -- even at clearly lower prices and higher quality. Dependence is bliss.
Thank you for your interest and support.
If you would like to promote the ideas in this campaign on a larger scale, my ministry, Vine & Fig Tree, is a 501(c)(3) organization. Home page.