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Francis Schaeffer expert offers the facts on Michele Bachman, Francis Schaeffer, and “Dominionism.”

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Balanced Views of Religion and Spirituality

At Patheos (August 26, 2011), religion scholar Douglas Groothuis writes, in “Michele Bachmann and Dominionism Paranoia: Once again the popular media demonstrate how woefully poor is their understanding of American evangelicals”:

In the August 15 issue of The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza asserts that Bachmann has been ideologically shaped by “exotic” thinkers of the dominionist stripe who pose a threat to our secular political institutions. The piece—and much of the subsequent media reaction—is a calamity of confusion, conflation, and obfuscation.

We noticed. Say on.

Among other things, Rousas Rushdoony, the founder of the Reconstructionists (later called “Dominionists”) was not a theocrat. He aimed at convincing the public to replace current legal structure with Biblical law. Odd, yes. Violent, no. Groothuis estimates that Rushdoony fans are an “infinitesimal fraction” of Christian conservatives, which sounds about right to journalists who wrote for the Christian media in the 1990s, when the idea first surfaced.

More scandalously, Lizza claimed in his hit piece that apologist Francis Schaeffer, – a genuine influence on Bachman, along with philosopher Nancy Pearcey – argued for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe vs. Wade isn’t reversed,” in A Christian Manifesto (1981).” Actually, Schaeffer, like Rushdoony, never advocated violence.

Schaeffer considered Rushdoony’s Biblical law views “insanity”:

(The name “Rushdoony” does not even appear in the index of Schaeffer’s five-volume collected works.) Schaeffer explicitly condemned theocracy in A Christian Manifesto (p. 120-1). Nor did he call for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe V. Wade were not overturned. Schaeffer rather explained various ways of resisting tyranny according to a Christian worldview and in light of church history. He saw “civil disobedience” (his phrase) as a last resort and did not stipulate any specific conditions under which it would be advisable in America. In fact, Schaeffer worried (on p. 126) that speaking of civil disobedience is “frightening because there are so many kooky people around.” Further, “anarchy is never appropriate.”

Those are the facts, from a guy who teaches grad level courses on Schaeffer books. Fact is, though, as legacy mainstream media continue their long, slow decline, it will be increasingly difficult to distinguish between news analysis stories and attack ads against a candidate.

What’s ironic is that so many worry about attack ads and so few worry about articles that purport to provide news coverage, but are essentially attack ads.

See also: History prof provides context for nutty attack on ID-friendly US pols

Note: Why the name change from Reconstructionist to Dominionist? Maybe because of what the word “Reconstruction” might otherwise refer to in American history? “Dominionist” involves a similar problem in Canada.

Hat tip: Wintery Knight

3 Replies to “Francis Schaeffer expert offers the facts on Michele Bachman, Francis Schaeffer, and “Dominionism.”

  1. 1

    It doesn’t even take a Francis Schaeffer expert to discern Schaeffer’s views on the matter. He was quite explicit that theocracy was not an end that Christians should in any way seek to actualize. If this guy had done his homework rather than depending on Wikipedia; which seems apparent, he would have discerned the truth. But he did a noview on Schaeffer and depended on secondary rather than primary sources.

  2. 2
    lamarck says:

    It’s frustrating to see you guys are so into the lamestream media to only cover Bachman and Perry and ignore he who cannot be named. Comments?

  3. 3
    fmarotta says:

    In Canada, probably the closest thing thing on the political spectrum to reconstructionist viewpoints is the Christian Heritage Party, which advocates that Canada be governed according to Biblical principles. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C....._of_Canada. A very small body, but still active.

    As to the “name change from Reconstructionist to Dominionist”, think of these as terms that overlap in use, not an official designation of a body at a precise period in time. R J Rushdoony edited “The Journal of Christian Reconstruction” beginning in 1974 I believe. I don’t know of its current status, but it existed at least through 1999. Over the same period, Gary North, a prolific author along these lines wrote numerous books with the word ‘Dominion’ in the title. For example, ‘Dominion and Common Grace’ in 1987 and ‘Sanctions and Dominion’ in 1996. I am not saying that these authors use the terms interchangably, but it isn’t like one term replaced the other.

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