Shotgun Wrestles With Kinism

Rouhas-John-Rushdoony-

There’s no doubt Kinism is an outgrowth of the now-defunct Christian Reconstruction movement, so to understand Kinism, one has to have a grasp on CR and why it imploded. But to properly understand CR, one has to take a step back and look at American history, the history of the Reformed Church, and more broadly, the history of Western Civilization.

I don’t intend to do all that in one post, but lately (in the past year or so) I’ve been wrestling with serious questions concerning Kinism; so, to address them, I’ll try to give a brief overview of why CR fell apart, how Kinism emerged, then pose a few thoughts:

After Christ ascended to Heaven, His disciples spread out, eventually converting the Roman empire. The fall of Rome launched the Christian middle ages, which, in my way of thinking, was the ideal time in Christendom. This is a gross oversimplification but the Faith during this time was genuine and heart-felt. Unfortunately, over time, this Occidental Christian culture began drifting towards the “Enlightenment” when men gave up their genuine Faith in exchange for attempts to scientifically analyze it. Systems of doctrines became more important than the relationship, if not formally, certainly in practice. There was a struggle; the old believers didn’t go quietly into the night. There was a Christian counter-attack from the poets of Europe that lasted up until the early 19th century, but the new “rationalists” won out, either by transforming Christianity into a mere system of doctrines, or by giving it up all together.

The Protestant Reformation, which spawned the likes of Luther and Calvin, was an attempt to rescue the heart-felt Faith of old-Europe, by using the tools of the rationalists. Unfortunately it seems this only further helped the rationalists, although saying so is very controversial among modern Protestants (and Kinists more specifically).

At any-rate, the rationalists like Kant began attacking the old arguments for God’s existence, frightening the now rationalized Christians into retreat. They retreated to pietism and fideism, but they’d never give up their new belief in doctrine and rationalism. Christian rationalist heroes emerged in the Reformed camp, to push back against the likes of Kant. Abraham Kuyper was one of these. Kuyper, Bavinck, and others founded a school of “Neo-Calvinism” that emphasized worldview thinking and provided a significant position from which to attack the new rationalist critiques of the Faith. Van Til, in the 1930’s and 40’s, we might say was the most philosophically consistent expression of this rationalist counter-attack – challenging his opponents to be thoroughly and consistently rational, noting their abject failure to do so, then presenting Christianity as the only consistently rational system available.

This Van Tillian method applied to all areas of thinking and academic life, spawning what was known as the “Reconstruction Movement”, or the attempt by Van Til’s followers to self-consciously reconstruct all areas of academia along consistently Reformed theological lines. His most notable disciples in this regard were Rushdoony, who tried to reconstruct theories of law, politics, and government in accord with Presbyterian covenant theonomy; North, who did the same with economics and history; and Greg Bahnsen, who tried doing so with philosophy.

By the time we get to Rushdoony, North, and Bahnsen, we’re in 1970’s era America and conservatives in the culture, especially the rationalist Evangelicals, begin utilizing Reconstructionist thought to try and counter left-wing hippy and other such degenerate movements from the 60’s. So Christian Reconstruction was very much a Right-Wing American phenomenon, building on the anti-Government angst in the hinterlands. And given the open-ended nature of academic Reconstruction, laymen began trying to reconstruct their favored areas of interest. Soon, for example, Southerners, long accustomed to criticism and animosity from America’s mainstream, began utilizing Van Tillian analysis to support Southern historical narratives and political thought. This lead to the infamous “Neo-Confederate” faction in Christian Reconstruction, which enemies of CR still point at today as a destructive aspect of the movement.

Kinsim arose from this Right Wing populist milieu – a mix of pro-confederates, Southerners, militia-minded patriots, conspiracy theorists, and outright theology “nerds”, who could spend hours discussing the finer points of some Reformed debate from the 1600’s. But as the 90’s rolled around, the cult-like nature of rationalist-based Christianity took its toll on Christian Reconstruction and, as these pseudo-cults often do, began to fracture internally from infighting, clashes of personality, and the deaths of prominent leaders.

Nevertheless, the right-wing populist nature did not die out and found clear expression in Kinism. These days, those still calling themselves “theonomists” or “Reconstructionists” are trying to find populist fuel for their dogmas among left-wing college students and social justice warriors by appealing to anti-racist and politically-correct jargon, while all the old-guard Right Wing populists have either left the movement all together, or are funneled into the Kinist camp.

Admittedly, this is a fast and loose summary, but I have to wonder if Kinism can succeed as a movement as long as it remains tied to the old “cult-like / rationalist” paradigm of Presbyterian ecclesiology. Ethnicity, it seems to me, is the giant elephant in the room of all Presbyterian discussion of theology; how can we have a consistent covenant theology (as Presbyterians want), when the Old Testament was so clearly focused on ethnicity? This, modernist Presbyterians are in no position to answer; they’re floundering around in heresy debates about the Federal Vision and still trying to get their official act together concerning the nature of paedo-baptism.

I realized, very early on, that if I’m going to be a Kinist, I need to seriously wrestle with ecclesiology (the nature and organization of the church). Is the church a separate bureaucratic institution? Or is it an international “Kingdom” of various Christian ethnicities, ruled by tribal elders (similar to the middle ages)?

It’s noteworthy that Rushdoony, himself, seemed to wrestle with similar issues, which, perhaps, lead to his infamous split with son-in-law Gary North. Rushdoony, it’s said, moved Chalcedon headquarters to a small Vallecito town, in the California countryside, as a way to start his own patriarchal “tribe”…and high-church, Scary Gary wanted nothing to do with it. North retaliated with a horrible book “Baptized Patriarchalism” which tries to dissect Rushdoony’s position. It’s a one-way fight because, as far as I know, Rushdoony never responded.

Kinists, because of our emphasis on family unity and bonds of honor, are in a position to salvage whatever good remains from the old Reconstructionist movement. We’re not “cultists” because we’re not strictly organized ideologically. We don’t damn people to Hell over minute disagreements in some doctrine or other. We’re more in line with the old, pre-rationalist Christians in that regard – at least I like to hope so.

Still, serious thought needs to be given to the nature of the church in Kinist circles.

This entry was posted in Kinism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Shotgun Wrestles With Kinism

  1. reformednb says:

    Many of us are a part of the organized church rubbing
    Shoulders with the masses that disagree….yet they
    Have no bases to “exclude” us or call us to repentance.

  2. rogerunited says:

    All Christian doctrines (note the plural) break down when they’re tied to the current social/political climate, whether they’re reacting to it or simply trying to appeal to more people. The problem, which I think is underpinned by the best intentions, is failing to realise that social and political landscapes change constantly and that they aren’t built on universal Truth, neither finding it nor articulating it, and chasing them is futile.

    In the Old Testament, we see righteous Israel followed by wicked Israel from whom comes a prophet to lead them to repentance and a return to righteousness.So, as you point out, when the rationalists became influential the old believers reacted rather than ignoring them and returning to metaphorical catacombs. The reactionary old believers wanted to maintain Christendom ( and who can blame them) but when the battle was lost the reactionary old believers continued trying to fight on their enemies home turf and with his weapons instead of realising it was time for repentance and regrouping a la Old Testament Israel.

    As you say Christianity was transformed into a ‘mere system of doctrines’ or simply dispensed with by the rationalists meaning the old believers of today and yesterday are fighting a shadow. I understand why they do, but I think the fight for the larger culture and society is lost for the time being and its time to return focus to personal relationships with God and neighbor.

  3. Fr. John+ says:

    Bravo! I knew Rush, and visited him and Dorothy shortly before he passed away. My coming to Orthodoxy was due in large part because the basic thrust of Presby/Reformed ecclesiology has FORGOTTEN the Celtic/Scottish nature of their KIRK. They’re trying to be multicultural, and vulgarly cultural, and FAILING MISERABLY. Western Christianity is what it is, BECAUSE IT MUST BE, and REMAIN, WHITE!

    One HAS TO HAVE AN ETHNICITY tied to the working out of the Kingdom, or it will merely APE the Multicultural PERVERSION OF SAME.

    I also left Reformed thought as a ‘system’ because of the ‘filioque’ and reading Dr. Farrell’s “God, History, and Dialectic” which clearly showed the narrow parochialism of the Augustinian ordo salutis, when viewed through the prism of a lopsided Trinity.

    I still love the doctrines of grace, still view much of Auggie with wonder, and still believe in Kinism and Reconstructionism, but ONLY as it is INCARNATED in the homes, families, culture, churchmanship, and day to day living, among a group of like-minded people, allowing the energies of the Sacraments and a valid priesthood, to flow through us, so that we may (as the old BCP says)
    “evermore dwell in Him, and He in us.” LITERALLY. THEOSIS, in other words.

  4. Jimmy Muller says:

    Hello. Very interesting story that you have shared with all. Yes I agree with reformednb that Many of us are a part of the organized church rubbing shoulders with the masses that disagree.

  5. Lou Jacobson says:

    There’s a lot to be gained from Reconstructionist literature -a lot- but ultimately it’s the way out of evangelicalism -and make no mistake about it, Reformed theology is evangelicalism. “Arminianism” is just a different flavor of Reformed theology, the sort that dispenses with traditionally Calvinist understandings of soteriology. Both Calvinism and Arminianism share the same foundational presuppositions, and come from the Enlightenment.

    With Christian Reconstructionism, connections begin to be made that weren’t possible before. Anyone who’s read Ray Sutton’s “That You May Prosper”, or James Jordan’s “Through New Eyes”, begins to realize just how deep Scripture is. Coming from an evangelical baptist upbringing, reading those books really opens one’s eyes. The concept of typology has profound implications.

    That said, there is this ethnic component. It’s very much there in the Middle Ages, and we see it in history. The Orthodox churches are very much national; Fr. James Thornton’s speech at AmRen is pertinent in this regard. There is also this historical backdrop of the Christian Imperium, such as Byzantium, or Holy Russia (the “Third Rome” -heir to Byzantium).

    Toward the end of his life, Rushdoony was rumored to have been seriously considering Eastern Orthodoxy. Some in his camp became Roman Catholic, but several became Orthodox.

    For me, encountering the writings of Vladimir Moss on the Christian monarchy, Vladimir Lossky on essence/energies, and Fr. John Romanides on the nature and purpose of dogma (as well as the ancestral sin, Augustine, and the Franks), really showed me why even such great writers as Rushdoony and North were not successful in implementing their ideals (and never could be).

    “God, History, and Dialectic” by Joseph P. Farrell was also mentioned. That’s right up there with “The Institutes of Biblical Law” as being a game-changing read, for sure.

    For all his insights, however, Rushdoony, in his “Foundations of Social Order”, espoused heresy (pgs. 40-41). He tries to separate Christ’s human nature from His divine nature, and says the worship of Christ’s human nature is the worship of creatures. He even says Christ’s human nature can’t be defied. That’s pretty much word-for-word Nestorianism.

    Might seem arcane to the untrained idea, but proper theology has profound implications, not only with respect to ecclesiology, but even with one’s own psyche, and how we understand our relationship with the Creator.

    Reformed Christians believe that God got really mad at what He had made, and because His infinite honor had been offended, He determined to predestine a large mass of the population to eternal damnation in a lake of fire to display his honor (including infants). This is Nestorian and based on theological voluntarism. When asked why this state of affiars is, the response of the Calvinist is that God willed it to be so. God willed that there needed to be a human sacrifice to pacify His anger. But God also willed that only a sacrifice of infinite value would pacify His infinitely wounded honor, and so God decided to Himself become Incarnate and kill Himself. But if this is the case, then God could have just willed to not be so angry, and the Incarnation wasn’t necessary. Furthermore, God is in need of no thing, so it makes no sense to say He willed to need to pacify His own anger. God in this view is basically an angry drunk parent who takes His rage out on Himself.

    This whole starting point of assumptions leads to the idea that Christ Himself literally “became sin” on the Cross, as though sin is a “thing” one can become -and not a no-thing/act of the will. It’s blasphemous and insane, but that’s the claim. The whole thing ends up turning into Manichaeanism as well. Does “evil” take on an attribute of eternal existence? Is it an eternal principle in opposition to God? It does if you believe the wicked are forever weeping and gnashing their teeth and hating God (which is sinning, by the way).

    The Eastern Orthodox teaching of apokatastasis is the way out of this strange idea, an idea that leaves most people questioning the goodness of YHWH. I highly recommend giving this a read, to see just how far the patristic experience is from the Reformed understanding (with respect to the goodness and love of God, eschatology, etc.).

    Much more could be said of the Reformed faith, or even just TULIP. You also have John Knox attacking Christmas, Oliver Cromwell letting the Jews back into Europe, and a myriad number of other problematic things. There’s a reason the Puritans didn’t last but a few generations, with their offspring being swallowed up by the New Atlantis, in all its decadent glory. Meanwhile, though America’s had it’s share of phony revivalism, Russia is experiencing a true renewal of Christian faith and values.

    As it’s core, Reformed theology is anti-Incarnational. It’s doctrine of total depravity necessitates this be so; how could Christ assume our fallen nature if that nature is totally depraved? It’s proponents do not know anything about patristics beyond Augustine. Most have not read the ecumenical councils, and if they honestly try to delve into them, they wind up leaving evangelicalism. Exorcisms, relics, holy orders, icons, saints…that’s the world of the ecumenical councils. Charles Spurgeon and the Westminster Divines are not apart of that tradition. Patriarchs Kirill and Irinej are.

    So much in metaphysics can be made sense of in the Christian understanding, but not if one stays locked into the Reformed paradigm. Just read anything you can find by Fr. Seraphim Rose on the UFO phenomenon, astral traveling, LSD, Theosophy, Taoism, etc. (Phillip Sherrard as well). Reformed theology’s Enlightenment-era rationalism and aesthetically banal interpretation of the Bible has nothing relevant to say on these subjects, apart from moralistic, legalistic sermonizing.

    The pink elephant in the room is, of course, “Sola Scriptura” -the pious sounding assumption that’s actually completely unbiblical (and unheard of until Luther).

    “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

    St. Paul here flies directly in the face of Sola Scriptura, as this passage makes clear that we’re to follow Apostolic Tradition, of which Scripture is but a [vital] part.

    As Reformed churches become the exclusive havens for SJWs and cuckservatives, it’s time for white men to look elsewhere. I and lot of other ex-Calvinists would recommend the Church founded by Christ Himself -the Orthodox Church. Take the stuff of value in Reconstructionism and leave the heresies behind.

    • I wonder what kind of Calvinist you were to fall so easily for the sorts of talking points you have in your post. I could refute Catholic arguments against Sola Scriptura (for example) within my first year of being Reformed.

      *update*

      Oh, and it’s coincidental, but I had Rushdoony’s “Foundations of Social Order” on the table in front of me when I read your post. I flipped it open to 40 and 41. Guess what? The reason he sounds so much like a Nestorian there is because, he’s actually describing Nestorianism. He doesn’t discuss his own position at all there – and to claim the man’s a heretic for this when he named his pivotal think tank “Chalcedon Foundation” is simply beyond credulity. I’m not interested in passionately defending Calvinism or Calvinists, but come on man…be more careful.

      • Tim Harris says:

        Yes and it’s interesting that the Fathers always appeal to Scripture to make their case, never to an occult oral tradition they are privy to. They didn’t articulate “sola Scriptura” as a doctrine because it was already such a deeply nested, presupposed structure of their thought.

Comments:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s