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

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

Michael J. McVicar. Univ. of North Carolina, $34.95 (328p) ISBN 978-1-4696-2274-3

How is it that a man the author describes as “one of the most controversial ministers of the 20th century” is also a man whom most people have never heard of? Such is the story of R.J. Rushdoony and his campaign to introduce “Dominion Theology,” which champions a national government run by Christians that would “reconstruct” American society. Rushdoony set out to transform both Protestant Christianity and the American system, issuing a clarion call for Christians to engage, and ultimately control, American government and public education. Along the way, he enlisted the help of a large cadre of fellow thinkers, some of whom had different goals. Rushdoony’s ideas prevailed; his written works could fill a bookshelf. But infighting sank the movement: “the Reconstructionists could not agree with one another regarding the nature and meaning of Christian dominion,” McVicar writes. And thus the Reconstructionist idea has receded in the American consciousness, but not until it helped shape the politics of the American Religious Right. McVicar, assistant professor of religion at Florida State University, has produced a landmark work describing the rise and eventual fall of Reconstructionist thought. This fine work is highly recommended. (Apr.)