Autobiographical: Joe Morecraft’s preaching and teaching

In 2004 I came across a Vision Forum set that had a few sermons by Joe Morecraft.  I was hooked.  Too hooked, actually.  I then went to sermon audio and found a whole collection of his sermons.  His history of the reformation is legendary among Christian schoolers.  And many of us will relate to his country, folksy-style preaching.

On the other hand, though, I’ve found some difficulties with his reading of Church History.  He wants to read the entire Reformation story around the premise that Presbyterianism = liberty = republicanism in church and state.  Conversely, monarchy = Erastianism = episcopacy in church and state.   Admittedly, many Presbyterians set the stage for Republican government, and the two seem to mirror each other.  However, one must also note the following:

  1. Holland was just as robust a Reformed witness, but at the time of the Synod of Dordt the Calvinist churches were somewhat tyrannized by a republican government.  Holland would later experience a monarchy.
  2. Samuel Rutherford never rejected monarchy, neither did Knox or Cargill.
  3. The one man who saved Protestantism in Europe was a monarch, King Gustavus Adolphus.  And since religious liberty and political liberty are correlative, we are led to the conclusion that monarchy, particularly in this part of Europe, led to religious liberty.


9 comments on “Autobiographical: Joe Morecraft’s preaching and teaching

  1. Agree with your reading/listening of Morecraft here. As I have read more and grown more I have less and less in common with the “American” theonimic vision, especially as I read more good ole American Covenanters.

    • The more I read and reflect, I see that the Covenanters get you everything theonomy wanted with none of the drawbacks

      • Justin says:

        I know I’m a bit late in posting on this subject, but I like this comment. I greatly admire the Covenanters. I too listened to this history series (only just recently), and enjoyed it greatly.

        I’m somewhat new to “American” theonomy, and I know there are significant issues in the movement’s modern iteration (just as well as there are issues in what I have read and understood of the Reformed community’s attempts to respond to it). I admire Morecraft and Bahnsen, and have read some Rushdoony as well. I have found it useful to balance “new” writers and teachers with the wisdom of the reformers, the Westminster Divines, and the Covenanters. There is a definite tendency out there to read history through “American” eyes, as opposed to distinctly Christian eyes.

        Thanks for your site.

  2. Well said. One thing I noticed about many American theonomists is : 1) Most of them are not good “Presbyterians” and 2: Many of them have specially second and fourth commandment issues. Especially the guys as American Vision.

    • I was at a Rushdoony Conference in Georgia in 2005 (American Vision was there) and during the Q&A someone asked the Chalcedon Foundation, “How do you justify the fact that Rushdoony separated himself from the Church, and particularly abstaining from communion, for eight years?” They couldn’t answer.

  3. Off topic a little bit, but are you still Historic Pre-Mill?

    • I am no-mill. I’ve been thinking about that lately. I’ve read ALL sides so thoroughly I began to suspect that they were all operating on the same flawed categories. Loosely speaking, with the Bavinckian tradition I believe in the renewal of the cosmos, but I place it within this side of space-time-history, which leans towards postmillennialism (and some aspects of historic premil). On the other hand, I’ve never been impressed with how postmillennialists explain the coming darkness mentioned in the cosmos.

      To answer your question, not really, though their reading of Revelation 20 is impressive.

  4. olivianus says:


    “Samuel Rutherford never rejected monarchy, neither did Knox or Cargill.”

    >>Rutherford actually suggested constitutional monarchy. I fear to disagree with Rutherford on anything Church-State.

    “The one man who saved Protestantism in Europe was a monarch, King Gustavus Adolphus.”

    >>Peace be upon him.

  5. Thanks. I actually read that part of Rutherford the other day. If you are interested in a fictional account of the Thirty Years War, Eric Flint’s *1632* is quite humorous and gripping. The premise is a bunch of rednecks in Virginia get transplanted through time and space into 17th century Germany. They team up with King Gustav II Adolf to fight Rome and the Inquisition. There are a few graphic moments, but it is otherwise excellent. His treatment of Gustavus’ victory at Breitenfeld was worth the price of the book.

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