Church History

Research Article

The Chalcedon Problem: Rousas John Rushdoony and the Origins of Christian Reconstructionism

Molly Worthen

According to the town criers of liberal American journalism, readers must wake up and do something. Hide your children—there is a movement afoot among conservative Christians to take over our country and give America a theocratic makeover. A slew of magazine articles and books—with apocalyptic titles such as American Theocracy and The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us— announced conservative Christians' backward views on social and political issues, insidious webs of government influence, and intentions to return America to its supposedly Christian roots. Most of these authors devoted at least a few pages to an obscure religious movement and a man with a curious name: Christian reconstructionism and R. J. Rushdoony.


Molly Worthen is a doctoral candidate in American religious history at Yale University.