From social and political withdrawal to cobelligerency with conservative Catholics and other Americans is a long stride, but some evangelical spokesmen are eagerly encouraging this promising, if controversial venture.

Left far behind are fundamentalists of the 1930–50 era whose pessimistic view of history led them to exclude socio-political involvement and cultural engagement in favor of concentrated personal evangelism in expectation of Christ’s imminent return. Their apolitical stance arose from a conviction that the end-time apostasy is now under way. The viewpoint still has support in Bob Jones circles and in an older Dallas seminary constituency. But “Amish evangelicals” and traditional fundamentalists pessimistic about historical involvement and change are now “out of it.” Even many Mennonites no longer insist that the regenerate church as “a new society” must wholly avoid engagement with the world.

Most evangelicals assume we must be strenuously involved in public affairs. Some see this as a political necessity, since not to do so is to be disadvantaged by unbelievers sponsoring contrary values. Most declare it a moral duty implicit in the Christian’s dual citizenship. The divine mandate is to beam light, sprinkle salt, knead leaven into an otherwise hopeless world.

This Christian ingress is championed in its most intensive form by those who commend one or another form of ecclesiastical imperialism—the theonomic movement (or Christian Reconstructionism) being the most egregious example.

In sharp contrast to recent modern fundamentalism, which confined the relevance of Mosaic legislation to a now-superseded dispensation, the current Reconstructionist movement ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.