The Dangers Of Kingdom Ethics, Part I: Theonomy, Progressive Dispensationalism, And Social-Political Ethics -- By: Bruce A. Baker

Journal: Journal of Dispensational Theology
Volume: JODT 20:61 (Winter 2016)
Article: The Dangers Of Kingdom Ethics, Part I: Theonomy, Progressive Dispensationalism, And Social-Political Ethics
Author: Bruce A. Baker


The Dangers Of Kingdom Ethics, Part I:
Theonomy, Progressive Dispensationalism, And Social-Political Ethics

Bruce A. Baker*

* Bruce A. Baker, M.Div., Ph.D., pastor, Washington County Bible Church, Brenham, Texas

Currently, it seems only those who see any religious activity in the public square as evidence of an impending theocracy would link any form of dispensationalism with reconstructionism. Douthat observed,

When the evidence for Rusdoonian infiltration of the Religious Right grows thin for even the most diligent decoder, the subject is usually changed to the Rapture, another supposed pillar of the emerging theocratic edifice. Premillennarian dispensationalism’s emphasis on the imminent collapse of all institutions, foreign and domestic, would seem an odd fit with Reconstructionism’s idea of hastening Christ’s coming by building his (political) kingdom on Earth. But every 1950s conspiracist knew that when Communists seemed to differ—Tito and Stalin, Stalin and Mao—it only concealed a deeper concord. Similarly, everyone on the Christian Right is understood to be on the same side, no matter their superficial disagreements.1

While it is certainly true that “everyone . . . is on the same side” and that some disagreements between dispensationalists and reconstructionists are “superficial,” it must also be stressed that there are vast differences between the two, admittedly Christian and fundamental,2 camps. Yet recent movements in dispensationalism have made the association of these two groups less alarmist than it first appears. The fundamental shift in underlying assumptions that occurred in the formation of progressive dispensationalism3 has now made such a linkage, not only possible, but

also logically necessary. Indeed, an examination of the changing relationship between theonomy and progressive dispensationalism is prudent for several reasons.

The Interdependence Of Theology

“Like every true science, Systematic Theology is interdependent and interrelated in all its parts.”4 While this observation by Chafer was intended to convey the necessity of an “unabridged” theology,5 the truth of this statement is not limited to this topic alone. Since systematic theology does not utilize “individual texts in isolation from one another,” but instead attempts to “coalesce the varied teachings into some type...

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