by Bruce Baker

Theonomy and Progressive Dispensationalism

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 observes,

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.

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, 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 took place in the formation of progressive dispensationalism has now made such a linkage, not only possible, but logically necessary. Indeed, an examination of the changing relationship between theonomy and progressive dispensationalism is prudent for several reasons.