It is quite clear that Schaeffer believed in the rule of law, under God, as all of our founding fathers did. He further believed in a concept of a "Christian consensus." He did not believe that the Christian consensus, was a group of true believers, but it was a prevailing Christian worldview that was present as a product of the Protestant Reformation in America at the time of the founding of the United States. Yet Schaeffer clearly stopped short of holding the view of a theocracy for several important reasons.
Firstly, Schaeffer believed that the founding fathers of the United States never envisioned a theocratic state.
- "We must make definite that we are in no way talking about any kind of theocracy. Let me say that with great emphasis. Witherspoon, Jefferson, the American Founders had no idea of a theocracy. That is plain by the First Amendment, and we must continually emphasize the fact that we are not talking about some kind, or any kind of theocracy." ~ Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto
Secondy, Schaeffer saw that because of the depravity of sinful man (mankind), that mankind would not continue to govern rightly or perfectly and would eventually abuse authority, even under a theocratic state (although he did not believe we should simply ignore politics either). He believed that the natural end of a theocracy would be just a different type of authoritarianism.
- "The non-Christian, in the twentieth century especially, has no legal and moral base. Everything floats in space: a 51 percent vote of some type of right-wing or left-wing authoritarianism must decide what is acceptable, or some form of hedonism must be adopted, because as Plato understood so well, an absolute is necessary for real morality. Plato never found such and absolute, but he understood the problem and so did the Neoplatonimen of the Renaissance." ~ Francis Schaeffer, Death In The City
Thirdly, Schaeffer felt that Christianity was only capable of a substantial healing in the area of government, as true government could only be obtained in the return of Christ. Contrary to popular belief, he did not advocate the uniting of church and state (and neither do most Reconstructionist for that matter).
- "There is no New Testament basis for a linking of church and state until Christ, the King returns. The whole 'Constantine mentality' from the fourth century up to our day was a mistake. Constantine, as the Roman Emperor, in 313 ended the persecution of Christians. Unfortunately, the support he gave to the church led by 381 to the enforcing of Christianity, by Theodosius I, as the official state religion. Making Christianity the official state religion opened the way for confusion up until our own day. There have been times of very good government when this interrelationship between of church and state has been present. But through the centuries it has caused great confusion between loyalty to the state and loyalty to Christ, between patriotism and being a Christian. We must not confuse the Kingdom of God with our country. To say it another way: 'We should not wrap Christianity in our national flag.'" ~ Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto.
So what did Francis Schaeffer think the role of the Christian in government should be?
- "None of this, however, changes the fact that the United States was founded upon a Christian consensus, nor that we today should bring Judeo-Christian principles into play in regard to government. But that is very different from a theocracy in name or in fact." ~ Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto.
All of these quotes clearly show what Schaeffer's view was on the subject and it is disheartening to hear that he is now being mislabeled in the current political climate. He no doubt would view these debates as quite ugly in my opinion.
Ultimately, Schaeffer's real view on government would first include organically influenced government, as it seems apparent that Schaeffer's belief was that the role of Christianity in politics is to naturally influence government by being transforming first in the person, then in one's relationships, then in the church, then in the total culture, including government and the whole of life. This is outlined in his book True Spirituality, interestingly enough. Since mankind was created in the image of God and this is where mankind obtains dignity, the natural influence of this dignity was brought about by respect and care for others and holding fast to the truth. In this light, the only way naturally to bring about lasting change in government is by changing the human heart. That change alters our worldview and also how that we vote and the influence we have on government. So there is to be action on our part in government, but it is never the final solution to man's problems, as ultimate transformation in government will come upon Christ's return.
Simply put, Schaeffer's organic approach is just simply Christianity doing what it does when it is practiced at it's best, being humanitarian and transforming the world with truth from the inside out. Schaeffer believed that real transformation could only be accomplished by showing the true love of Christ, and standing on His transformational Truth.
Articles of interest:
Dangerous Influences: The New Yorker, Michele Bachmann, and Me (Nancy Pearcy)
Francis Schaeffer, Dominionism, and Christians in the Public Square (Jerram Barrs)
Michele Bachmann and Dominionism Paranoia (Douglas Groothuis)
The Rutherford Institute: Setting the Record Straight: Michele Bachmann, Francis Schaeffer (John W. Whitehead)
Schaeffer, Pearcey, The New Yorker, and American Grace (and other good books on faith and the public
WORLDmag.com | Secular leaps of faith
Bachmann and dominionism - sacbee.com