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

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.

Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain. Follow UD News at Twitter!

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

  1. Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto is a classic that should be much more widely read. In it he argues for an ascending scale: first, submit to a government as long as possible, then flee if possible when you cannot submit in good conscience, then, at last resort, fight if they will not leave you alone. His basic concern was justifying the American Revolutionary War, or at least showing the logic of the Christians who joined in it. Ditto with Christian resistance to the Nazis. The relevance for today is that we cannot pick and choose: as long as we are not fleeing or rebelling, we must be good citizens. But we can never say the state is right no matter what: there comes a time when Christians must draw the line. He was not advocating that we do this any time in the near future, but making the point that no government can claim an eternal unquestioned legitimacy.

    • Heard you on KPFK today you are obviously a eugins and if more politicians had your brains I would probably believe there was hope. I would like to point you out to some hard facts about 9/11 though, maybe next post.

  2. I appreciate Salvo for taking on the issues of the day!
    I have been stunned to see how many Christians outright refuse to discuss anything about politics or the culture or “hot button” social issues of any kind. Oftentimes they not only stay silent, but they often criticize those of us who do.
    Worse of all, many Christians have completely bought in to the lies of the culture and of the MSM. I’m at my wit’s end at this point.

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