Pietism, Quietism, Pluralism, Theonomy and Theocracy

jbjmonoAn interesting excerpt from James Jordan’s review of Wayne House and Thomas Ice’s, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?: An Analysis of Christian Reconstructionism

The quietist is committed to inaction. The pietist, by way of contrast, is frequently active in social and charitable affairs, but what makes his position inadequate is that pietism is in general uninterested in social theory. (In general, pietist movements are not much interested in theology either.) There is no self-conscious reflection on the concerns of political philosophy in the broad sense. It is simply a matter of “doing good” here and there, without reflection. This is not bad, but it does not go far enough.

Pietism works fine in a society that is generally Christian, where the rules are agreed upon. With a background of Christian consensus, pietist movements were able to eliminate the slave trade in England, for instance. Pietism is largely impotent, however, in the face of radical secularism and demonism. Lacking both theology and social theory, it simply does not go deep enough to be able to face such problems.

Modern pietists seem to assume that modern pluralism provides the social fabric within which they can “do good” without having to reflect intensively on social theory. In reality, modern pluralism is a “naked public square.” It is not a social fabric, but the lack of one. It is the self-conscious assertion that no social fabric is necessary. Formerly, Christian society provided the social fabric, within which other religions were tolerated or given sanctuary, provided they did not attempt to overthrow the Christian social fabric. Pluralism is the opposite of this. It rejects the ideas of tolerance and sanctuary (which are found in the Mosaic law) in favor of the idea of social anarchy. For that reason, pluralism in practice is extremely intolerant, as we see more clearly every day.

Jesus was quite clear on the effects of such a position. He stated that when a demon is driven from a man, it wanders in dry places but eventually returns to its former house to see if the Holy Spirit has or has not been given residence. Finding it empty, the demon gets seven other demons, worse than himself, and these eight return to inhabit the man. In context, this statement was not made concerning an individual but a society: Israel (Matthew 12:43-45; cf. vv. 38ff.). It is a rule for society and it shows the long-term effects of a commitment to social neutrality or pluralism. A perfect illustration can be seen in the history of Germany. The Reformation cast the demon out, but Germany did not sustain her reception of the Spirit, and the result was the demonic octave of National Socialism. 

…contrary to dispensationalism and pluralism, the Christian social tradition has always been theocratic. Not theonomic, but theocratic — that is, committed to the belief that society cannot be neutral and should be in some sense Christian.

Available as part of the complete James Jordan collection from wordmp3.com

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2 Responses to “Pietism, Quietism, Pluralism, Theonomy and Theocracy”

  • amsron Says:

    Germany’s Nazi Party was a Right Wing Fascist state that executed Jews, homosexuals, and gypsies. Their view was that anyone not Aryan was to be taken advantage of. Isn’t this somewhat analogous to the extreme views of Rushdoony, etc. that want to execute gays, adulterers and “recalcitrant children.” In a FREE society, pietism may be the best we can do while remaining FREE.

  • Mike Bull Says:


    Germany’s murders were not actually criminal executions.

    Jordan basically left the reconstruction movement for that reason. Notice the last sentence quoted. He sees reconstruction as coming from the worship of the church rather than through political action. His point above is that pietism is a start but it just doesn’t go far enough. Please read his article “The Dominion Trap” and let me know what you think.