Republicans’ “Christianity” Is Anti-Christ

Many Republicans claim to be  believers in Jesus. On the evidence they hate Him.

The Republican/Calvinist/evangelical version of the Sermon on the Mount might go like this: 

  • Blessed are those who exercise dominion over the earth: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  • Blessed are those who deport the immigrants: for they shall be comforted.
  • Blessed are those who agree that the significance of Jesus Christ as the ‘faithful and true witness’ is that He not only witnesses against those who are at war against God, but He also executes them: for they shall inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who subdue all things and all nations to Christ and His Law-Word: for they shall be filled.
  • Blessed are those who say that those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God must be denied citizenship: for they shall obtain mercy.
  • Blessed are the Calvinist Christians who are the only lawful heirs to the Kingdom: for they shall see God.
  • Blessed are those who know that  turning the other cheek is a temporary bribe paid to evil secular rulers: for they shall be called sons of God.
  • Blessed are those who have taken an eye for an eye: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
  • Blessed are ye when ye know that the battle for the mind for My sake is between the Christian Reconstruction Movement, which alone takes the Law of God seriously, and everyone else.  Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so we are to make Bible-obeying disciples of anybody who gets in our way and to kill all who refuse to convert.

Who are the “Reconstructionists”? More on that in a moment.

But first lets look at what their extremist Calvinism has done to the Republican Party. 

I’ll be on HuffPost LIVE today at 11 AM EST talking about this article by Bob Burnett (Berkeley writer, retired Silicon Valley executive) who  writes:

“Beginning in the ’50s, Christianity began to infiltrate American politics — in 1954 the phrase “under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance. Thirty years later, during the Reagan presidency, Republicans rebranded as the “Christian Party” and labeled Democrats the Party of secular socialism.

The election of George W. Bush heralded a second wave of Republican religiosity. Dubya emphasized his fundamentalist credentials and his decision ”to commit my heart to Jesus Christ.” During the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush was asked what “political philosopher or thinker” he identified with most and responded, “Christ, because he changed my heart.”

But after 9/11, Bush’s heart hardened. Dubya began to speak of the war on terror as a “crusade.” On June of 2003, in a conversation with Palestinian leaders , the President said, “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,’ and I did.”

Dubya’s messianic slant on Christianity tailored his image as commander-in-chief but had little impact on domestic policy. Evangelical minister Jim Wallis recalled a February 1, 2002, conversation where he told President Bush:

In the State of the Union address a few days before, you said that unless we devote all our energies, our focus, our resources on this war on terrorism, we’re going to lose… Mr. President, if we don’t devote our energy, our focus and our time on also overcoming global poverty and desperation, we will lose not only the war on poverty, but we’ll lose the war on terrorism.

Dubya flashed a bewildered smile and walked away. Wallis observed:

When I was first with Bush in Austin, what I saw was a self-help Methodist, very open, seeking… What I started to see at this point was the man that would emerge over the next year — a messianic American Calvinist.Indeed, many describe the Republican political faith as “American Calvinism.” It borrows several notions from the sixteenth century French theologian: the Bible is infallible; the “law” is driven by the Ten Commandments, rather than the teachings of Jesus; humans are totally depraved; and God has predestined who will be saved.

Despite its austere nature, Calvinism strongly influenced the original American settlers — many of who were Presbyterians. One historian noted, “in England and America the great struggles for civil and religious liberty were nursed in Calvinism, inspired by Calvinism, and carried out largely by men who were Calvinists.”

During the ’80s American Calvinism morphed into a conservative political ideology with the formation of the Christian Right. James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, and others preached on political subjects and touted conservative “Christian” candidates.

In Republican hands, contemporary Calvinism has had two thrusts. It fomented the culture wars and accused Democrats, and non-believers, of advocating “sixties values” that would destroy home and community. The Christian Right was against abortion, same-sex marriage, the teaching of evolution, and the separation of church and state; they were for homeschooling, limited Federal government, and Reaganomics.

The second Calvinist thrust promoted capitalism. In his classic, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, German sociologist Max Weber observed that not only did the protestant work ethic promote capitalism but also worldly success became a measure of the likelihood of one’s salvation. “He who has the most toys, wins.”

Given the strong influence of Calvinism on Republican politics, it’s not surprising the GOP favors the rich, opposes new taxes, and continues to support Reaganomics with its myths of “trickle down economics” and “self-regulating markets.”

Nonetheless, American Calvinism has become so extreme that it no longer deserves to be called Christianity.

Jesus’ first commandment was to love God. But his other teachings are about loving those around us. His second commandment was “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Jesus amplified this in his Sermon on the Mount: blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus was not a Calvinist or a capitalist. He disdained worldly possessions: “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven… it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Republican policy no longer represents the teachings of Jesus. The GOP favors the rich and ignores the poor, disadvantaged, sick, elderly, long-term unemployed, and other unfortunates. Republicans may be religious, but they’re not Christians.”

Rousas John Rushdoony 

The Reconstructionist/Republican worldview

Most Republican “Christians”  are positively moderate by comparison to the Reconstructionists. But the Reconstructionist movement is a distilled version of the more mainstream Republican/”Christian” version of exclusionary theology that nonetheless divides America into the “Real America” (as the Far Right claim only they are) and the rest of us “Sinners.”

The Reconstructionist worldview is ultra Calvinist but like all Calvinism[1] has its origins in ancient Israel/Palestine, when vengeful and ignorant tribal lore was written down by frightened men (the nastier authors of the Bible) trying to defend their prerogatives to bully women, murder rival tribes and steal land. To justify their brutality they said that God made them do it and/or that they were “chosen.” In its modern American incarnation, which hardened into a twentieth century movement in the 1960s and became widespread in the 1970s, Reconstructionism was propagated by people I knew personally and worked with closely when I too was both a Jesus Victim and Jesus Predator claiming God’s special favor.

The leaders of the Reconstructionist movement include the late Rousas Rushdoony (Calvinist theologian, father of modern-era Christian Reconstructionism, patron saint to gold-hoarding Federal Reserve-haters, and creator of the modern Evangelical home-school movement),  his son-in-law Gary North (an economist, gold-buff, publisher and leading conspiracy theorist), and David Chilton (ultra-Calvinist pastor and author.)[2]

To understand what has driven the evangelicals to the far right you have to understand Reconstructionism, also called Theonomism, [3] seeks to reconstruct “our fallen society.”  Most Republicans and even most evangelicals (let alone right wing Catholics) have never heard of the Reconstructionists but their influence has rotted out the entire Republican Party by slow motion osmosis from a few leaders.

Its worldview is best represented by the publications of the Chalcedon Foundation, which has been classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the Chalcedon Foundation website, the mission of the movement is to apply “the whole Word of God” to all aspects of human life: “It is not only our duty as individuals, families and churches to be Christian, but it is also the duty of the state, the school, the arts and sciences, law, economics, and every other sphere to be under Christ the King. Nothing is exempt from His dominion. We must live by His Word, not our own.”[4]

It’s no coincidence that the rise of the Islamic Brotherhoods (in Egypt and Syria) and the rise of Reconstructionism took place in more or less the same twentieth-century time frame—as modernism, science and “permissiveness” collided with a frightened conservatism rooted in religion.

The writings of people such as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and those of Rushdoony are virtually interchangeable when it comes to their goals of restoring The-God-Of-The-Bible to His “rightful place” as He presides over law and morals. The Brotherhood’s goal, as stated by al-Banna, is that Islam enjoins man to strive for “social justice.” With regard to women and gender al-Banna called for the segregation of male and female students, a separate curriculum for girls, the prohibition of dancing, and a campaign against “ostentation in dress and loose behavior.” Islamic governments must eventually be unified in a theocratic worldwide Caliphate. Or as Reconstructionist/Calvinist theologian David Chilton (sounding startlingly al-Banna-like) explained, “The Christian goal for the world is the universal development of Biblical theocratic republics.”


[1] Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, the Reformed faith, or Reformed theology) is a theological system. This branch of Christianity is named of the French reformer John Calvin. The system is the Five Points of Calvinism stressing the absolute sovereignty of God. The five points are: 1 God is able to save every person upon whom he has mercy and that his efforts are not frustrated by the unrighteousness or the inability of humans. 2 “Total depravity”: The doctrine of total depravity says that, as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin.3 “Unconditional election”:  The doctrine of unconditional election says that God’s choice from eternity of those whom he will bring to himself. ”Limited atonement”: Also called “particular redemption” or “definite atonement,” the doctrine of limited atonement asserts that Jesus’s substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. This implies that only the sins of the elect were atoned for by Jesus’s death.4 “Irresistible grace”: The doctrine of irresistible grace says  that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and, in God’s timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel.5 “Perseverance of the saints”: Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints. The doctrine asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else.

[2] North gained some notoriety for his prediction of a possible Y2K catastrophe before 2000.

[3] “Theonomy” comes from two Greek words, “theos,” meaning God and “nomos,” meaning law.

 

[4] In presenting a theonomic view of biblical law, the Chalcedon Foundation is often referred to as promoting theocracy and dominionism.”   (See <www.chalcedon.edu/blog/blog.php>)

 

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • Dan Mann

    Thanks Frank for your tutorial on Reconstructionists. I attended several of Mr. Rushdoony’s “Bible Studies” in Angels Camp, CA while a student at Sac State in the 70′s. Subsequently, I have been amazed by the people who have been willing to follow this version (perversion) of the faith into a voting booth. Many whose theologies or church traditions would be antithetical to the Dominionist construct are willing to flirt with the notion that God will be pleased once OT law is plaited into the Constitution. The coalitions and majorities made up of these folks make it difficult to live my life as outlined in the gospels and still want to maintain the moniker of Christian.

    • frankschaeffer

      Thanks for reading the articles Dan, you and I both had personal contact with the “Rush” folks. I’m still trying to get the ringing out of my ears!

    • http://www.facebook.com/julie.carpenter.351 Julie Carpenter

      This is exactly what has happened to my old church and the frightening thing is that I don’t think anyone has put any thought into it at all. It’s just a change in the zeitgeist that no one has noticed. Like slowly being poisoned with carbon monoxide.

  • TheodoreSeeber

    I find it sad when Christians lower themselves to the partisan standards of the age.

    • David S.

      What does the partisan standards of the age have anything to do with it? It’s a phenomenon of solely Christians in the US, in many ways a revolt against the standards of the day.

      • TheodoreSeeber

        The Democratic version of Christianity- heck, even the founder’s version of Christianity, isn’t very Christian. The Republicans need not be singled out for a crime committed by all involved parties.

  • GilbertDavis

    sad

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.ballenger70 Jimmy Ballenger

    Conservative Christian’s have been duped into believing that Christianity is about loving Jesus and the church. This is a fraud and a scam. Christianity is about loving and FORGIVING others. And not just the people closest to you that you care about but EVERYONE. Christianity is not about looking down on those lower than you, it’s about lifting them up.

  • Jerry Lynch

    If you want to see the uber-guardians of this Christian conservatism, go to almost any “Christian” forum. But be prepared to be shocked beyond imagining. It is a nightmare Wonderland. Love is hate, or so it appears with most. Liberals are minions of The Anti-Christ, which is Obama, of course. Every Right Wing conspiracy theory about the president is given immediate and complete credence. Every Republican talking-point is gospel. Patriot and Believer are inter-changeable, if you are conservative.
    I let the experience of these forum sites get to me. Perhaps because of the outside support to the virtual world was so similar, if just a tad less aggressively hostile. I work at a small local Christian TV station and I could no longer stand to listen to any of the shows; it all seemed so hypocritical. Even though the church I was attending was fairly moderate, the conversations of the congregation before and after service was depressingly attack-mode neocon. I started to doubt the efficacy of the gospel if it did nothing for these lifetime Christians to see their participation in partisan politics as worldly. On a few occasions where I got deeply embroiled in a conversation about politics, mentioning a concern about worldliness got me either accused of “liberal theology” or a liberal plot to undermine the Christian duty to save America. It was crazy making.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julie.carpenter.351 Julie Carpenter

    I have noticed that the nondenominational church of my childhood, where my family still attends has become increasingly Calvinistic in some ways. While they might never cop to the idea of predestination, they certainly seem more and more concerned with the idea that Christianity is about protecting the elect from the “damned;” the messages over the years have become more and more rants against those who believe differently and more about separating from those who are not “pure.” I see it as a sort of slide into Calvinism that no one has even thought about. I don’t think anyone there would feel that anything has changed over the past 30 or 40 years. I find it very strange.

  • jamesscaminaciiiiphd

    Thanks, Frank. But, as I posted on your Facebook page, when will you start divulging how behind closed doors they formulated strategy; how they linked monied interests to the populist fundamentalists; how they actually implemented their meta-strategy of a centralized strategy but networked, diffused, local implementation; how they knowingly goaded their followers into committing acts of violence knowing that their rhetoric would set someone off? You know so much more.

  • http://www.mosquitonet.com/~prewett/ John Prewett

    Wead, from his ofice in the Old Executive Office Building, acknowledged little contact with the bishops’ Washington bureaucracy – the U.S. Catholic Conference. “There are several reasons for that,” he said. Foremost among them is that the public liaison staff has been “dramatically cut back.” Unlike in the Reagan era, said Wead, “there is no full time Catholic liason.”

    Now, said Wead, many groups that once worked through the Reagan-era liaison office “go directly to the cabinet officers and deal directly with an issue.”

    Said Wead, “this administration has appointed more [Roman] Catholic cabinet officers than any other in American history. We want the church to feel loved and wanted, and we want them to have input.”

    (Bush has five [Roman] Catholic cabinet members: Interior Secretag Manuel Lujan, Education Secretary Lauro Cavazos, Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, Energy Secretary James Watkins and Veterans Affairs Secretary Edward Derwinski.)

    Of the five cardinals, Boston’s Law is a favorite of both Bush and Wead. Bush and Law met in 1985, said Wead. They became quick friends, spoke to each other often and, now, said Wead, “have a good relationship.”"
    http://www.mosquitonet.com/~prewett/bushwoos.html

  • http://www.mosquitonet.com/~prewett/ John Prewett

    ” The key Administration players were all devout Roman Catholics — CIA chief William Casey, Allen, Clark, Haig, Walters and William Wilson, Reagan’s first ambassador to the Vatican. They regarded the U.S.-Vatican relationship as a holy alliance:….”
    Time February 24, 1992 Cover Story The Holy Alliance

    ………………………………………

    http://www.mosquitonet.com/~prewett/holyalliance1of2.html


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