Anxious to bring all of life under the authority of biblical law, Christian Reconstructionists challenge the legitimacy of democracy, argue that slavery is justifiable, and support the death penalty for a wide range of crimes. The most complete and balanced account yet of this enigmatic segment of the Christian Right. 320 pages, hardcover. Oxford University.
For the last several decades, at the far fringes of American evangelical Christianity has stood an intellectual movement known as Christian Reconstruction. The proponents of this movement embrace a radical position: that all of life should be brought under the authority of biblical law as it is contained in both the Old and New Testaments. They challenge the legitimacy of democracy, argue that slavery is biblically justifiable, and support the death penalty for all manner of "crimes" described in the Bible including homosexuality, adultery, and Sabbath-breaking. But, as Julie Ingersoll shows in this fascinating new book, this "Biblical Worldview" shapes their views not only on political issues, but on everything from private property and economic policy to history and literature. Holding that the Bible provides a coherent, internally consistent, and all-encompassing worldview, they seek to remake the entirety of society--church, state, family, economy--along biblical lines.
Tracing the movement from its mid-twentieth-century origins in the writings of theologian and philosopher R.J. Rushdoony to its present-day sites of influence, including the Christian Home School movement, advocacy for the teaching of creationism, and the development and rise of the Tea Party, Ingersoll illustrates how Reconstructionists have broadly and subtly shaped conservative American Protestantism over the course of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries. Drawing on interviews with Reconstructionists themselves as well as extensive research in Reconstructionist publications, Building God's Kingdom offers the most complete and balanced portrait to date of this enigmatic segment of the Christian Right.
Julie J. Ingersoll is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Florida. She is the author of Evangelical Christian Women: War Stories in the Gender Battles (2003).
" [Ingersoll] make[s] a compelling and sobering case for the significant impact of this extremist movement Recommended."--CHOICE
"A thoughtful and important resource for scholars and students wishing to know more about an important movement in modern American religion and politics."--Church History
"This is the first book-length study of the shadowy but influential right-wing Christian Reconstruction movement. Julie Ingersoll reveals it all--its history, ideas, and current political impact--with sensitivity and laser precision. This is a major contribution to the study of religion in public life, the book to read in understanding the dark potency of America's religious right." --Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence
"During the last four decades, Christian Reconstruction, a theological movement seeking to remake the United States on the basis of biblical law, has shaped American evangelicalism. With scholarly acumen and subtle argument, Building God's Kingdom
traces this influence in contemporary struggles over education, the family, and politics. In these pages, Ingersoll guides readers through Reconstruction and finds a logical, successful, and authoritative worldview that has been embraced by legions of pastors, well-known politicians, and popular pundits. This is not a conspiracy book. Instead, with quiet intensity, it reveals the power of religious influence to change the direction of a culture." --Diana Butler Bass, author of Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening
"Historians have long debated the role of Reconstructionism in the formation of fundamentalist politics. Julie Ingersoll's intrepid research and astute analysis demonstrates that the thought of Rousas John Rushdoony and others did indeed shape the nascent discontent that emerged in the late 1970s as the Religious Right." --Randall Balmer, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
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