[Dateline: January 2007]
It is incumbent upon Christians to understand what agrarianism and Christian agrarianism is all about. I say that because the Bible is an agrarian book. It doesn’t speak specifically about agrarianism because it was inherent in the culture from which the book came.
Modern, industrialized life is a relatively new phenomenon in history. For thousands of years, even up to the early days of America’s founding, most people in the world lived within some form of agrarian culture. The closest thing to modern industrialism in biblical times was found in the ungodly cities and city-based cultures of the heathen peoples.
God Himself planted the first garden, showing Adam how it was done. Gardening and caring for creation was man’s original calling. Did God ever tell us to leave this calling? I may be wrong, but I do not think that He did. God calls His people to do many different things in His word, but every one of those things can (and, I believe, should) be done within the original agrarian mandate.
Jesus Christ was born in an agrarian setting (a manger is an animal feedbox or trough). His parables were almost all agrarian based and best understood by an agrarian culture. For example, references to sheep and the shepherd are understood by modern Christians, but a greater depth of understanding comes to those who have actually owned sheep and know their character.
I believe God is working in the hearts of many of His people in this time of history to bring them face to face with the reality of the ungodly industrialized culture in which we live. These people are realizing that the church of Christ has, in so many ways, taken on attributes of heathen industrialized culture. God is leading many of His fold, into a better understanding of what Christian-agrarian culture is.
Understanding is the first step to repentance, which is to say it is the first step to changing one’s worldview. Then comes a life change.
Am I saying you should change your lifestyle from what it is to a more agrarian-centered one? No I am not. I would never tell someone that. But if you seriously, earnestly, endeavor to understand what agrarianism is and, in particular, what Christian agrarianism is, I have a strong feeling that the Lord will convict you. And if you heed the conviction, your life will change. It may change gradually, in little ways. It may change faster and more radically. But it will change.
That said, the question in so many people’s minds is: “Well, what is agrarianism anyway?” Or, “What exactly is Christian agrarianism?”
I like to define Christian agrarianism as “Christianity lived within the agrarian paradigm.” A paradigm is an example, a pattern, or a framework. The only problem with my definition is that it does not explain what agrarian means. Well, I’ve come to believe that pure, undefiled agrarianism is, essentially, Christianity. How’s that for a circular definition?
The fact is, agrarianism and Christian agrarianism is, on one hand, simple, but on the other hand, it’s a very large concept to grasp. I think it is so large because we as a culture have strayed so far. Understanding the definition will require some reading, some thinking, and, of course, some prayerful searching.
Several men have written on the matter of agrarianism and Christian agrarianism. I think one of the better introductions to this subject comes from David Rockett. I suggest you read and consider the following articles by Mr. Rockett:
What is Agrarianism?
Questions and Answers About Agrarianism
The Prima Facie Credibility of Covenantal Agrarianism
Creation & Community
Howard Douglas King has written extensively and well on the subject of Christian agrarianism. His complete writings were once easily found on one website but that is no longer the case. You can, however read the following article which I think is very good.
The Biblical Basis of Christian Agrarianism
For a more “hardcore” discussion on the subject of agrarianism and Christian agrarianism, I recommend the next two essays by Michael Bunker. Keep in mind that I’m not endorsing everything that all the men I recommend in this blog have written. I’ve noticed that Mr. Bunker upsets some people with some of his writings. But, on the subject of Christian agrarianism, Mr. Bunker has written some thought provoking things that I believe are scriptural.
Agrarianism vs Urbanism
Towards a Biblical Agrarian Culture
Allan C. Carlson of The Howard Center is another Christian man who has written well of agrarian themes.
Then there is the little-known Christian-agrarian book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. Rather than explain Christian agrarianism in great depth, the book presents a series of short, personal stories that serve to show the practical outworking of a Christian agrarian worldview in the life of one very common Christian man and his family. I am that Christian man.
I am a small fish in a big ocean, espousing something so incredibly simple, so biblically fundamental, and so contrary to the established norm that it comes across as newfangled and strange to the average modern churchgoer. Christian agrarianism is looked upon by many with great suspicion.
Is Christian agrarianism a cult? Is it a way to make money? Is it retreatist theology? Is it contrary to the great commission? No. No. No. And no. It is none of those things.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the above writings and judge for yourself what the “motivation” behind this movement is. If you do that with sincerity, I believe you will come away, not only with a clearer understanding, but, more than that, with a godly vision for personal, family, and cultural renewal.