Taking Special Vows in Theology

From Web Exclusives

To say that we evangelicals haven’t always engaged in respectful dialogue with folks representing other perspectives is to put it mildly. But there are clear signs that things are improving, in at least some parts of the evangelical world. The presence of many evangelical voices as a part of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Sporting Transcendence

From Web Exclusives

Recently I got quite caught up in a football game on television. It was a close match right to the very end. And in a dramatic finish the college team I was rooting for pulled off the victory. Watching it was a good way of spending a few hours. I did not experience any self-transcendence, however. . . . . Continue Reading »

A Good Word for Locke

From Web Exclusives

The lecturer was setting forth a biblical perspective on the role of government, with special attention to the Pauline text in Romans 13. At one point he introduced a rhetorical flourish with a passing negative reference to John Locke. The Bible sees the authority to govern as coming from God—“and not,” the lecturer said, “from a human contract, as John Locke insisted.” Continue Reading »

Talking Calvinism with Robert H. Schuller

From Web Exclusives

One day in the spring of 1990, I received a phone call from Professor Hendrikus Berkhof, a well-known theologian at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He was visiting Southern California and had a free day at his before flying out. “I would like to see Fuller Seminary,” he said. Having never spent time with Professor Berkhof, I was quite honored by his request. I had read and re-read at least five of his books, and his discussion of themes in Reformed theology had (and has) significantly influenced my thinking. Continue Reading »

China's New Consumerism

From Web Exclusives

On a chilly afternoon last October, as my son and I walked through a bustling shopping district in Xi’an, China, we passed a group of teenage girls who were chattering loudly in Mandarin. Obviously they had been shopping in a nearby mall, as several of them were carrying bags labeled with familiar names, including “Gap.” What struck me especially, though, was that one of the young women wore a t-shirt featuring a picture of Justin Bieber.Earlier that day I had given a lecture to 120 pastors from midwestern and western China, who had been brought together by the Three-Self church leadership for continuing education. In our conversations, several pastors expressed concern about a growing penchant for consumerism in the younger generation, a reality that was confirmed for me by my brief encounter with the teenagers. Continue Reading »

Hartford: A Reminiscence

From Web Exclusives

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1975 “Hartford Appeal for Theological Affirmation.” Some of us who were signers have been quietly reminiscing about the project. One of my fellow participants wrote me about it recently, referring to “the ‘historic’(?) Hartford conclave.” Putting the “historic” in quotes with a parenthetical question mark rightly distanced the Appeal from any status as a major ecclesiastical document. The Appeal may show up in an occasional footnote these days, but its actual theological content is seldom recalled. Continue Reading »

What Is Love?

From Web Exclusives

Recently, I sat through a session of someone offering reflections on the “God is love” theme of I John 4:8. He did a pretty nice job of it until his wrap-up. “God is Love,” he said, “what a wonderful thought. But it is also a wonderful thing to realize that Love is God as well. But that’s a subject for another time!” Continue Reading »

A Real Theocrat

From the April 2015 Print Edition

Christian Reconstructionism: 
R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism

by michael j. mcvicar

north carolina, 326 pages, $34.95
In 1966, the editors of Chris­tianity Today rejected an article that Rousas J. Rushdoony had submitted for publication. The piece, which had been invited by the editors, was meant to introduce him as a new member of the editorial staff. Deeply offended by the rejection, Rushdoony permanently cut himself off from any involvement with the magazine, declaring in a letter to J. Howard Pew, one of its major benefactors, “I cannot work with pygmies.” Rushdoony was wrong in his assessment of Carl Henry and others at the flagship Evangelical magazine. But, as this important book makes clear, Rushdoony was to loom large in his own right as an influence on the nascent religious right. At various times in the past several decades, Rushdoony’s views have been reported to have influenced Pat Robertson, Ronald Reagan, ­Michele Bachmann, Francis Schaeffer, John Whitehead, D. James Kennedy, and others. Typically there has been some basis for alleging these links, although in most cases the influence has been of a very general sort, without a consistent endorsement of the details of Rushdoony’s theological perspective. In his new biography Christian Reconstructionism: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism, Michael J. McVicar lays out the ways in which Rushdoony took up some key themes in classic Reformed thought. One influence was Westminster Theological Seminary’s Cornelius Van Til, who insisted that believers and unbelievers operate from two fundamentally different life directions; the fallen mind is guided by presuppositions that are antithetical to biblical teaching. That meant, for Van Til, that believers and unbelievers really do not even operate with the same “facts.” For the believer a tree is created by the triune God of the Scriptures, while unbelievers see that tree from their God-denying point of view. While there can be a seeming agreement between Christian and non-Christian, the accord is only superficial. Continue Reading »