The Prima Facie
Credibility of
Covenantal Agrarianism

Dateline: 1 September 2013

There was once an organization known as The Agrarian Foundation, headed by David E. Rockett. The Agrarian Foundation had a newsletter and a web site. The web site (now long gone) had some excellent articles by Mr. Rockett about Christian-agrarianism. The articles were helpful to me as I was looking for deeper understandings about Christian-agrarianism.

I contacted Mr. Rockett by e-mail awhile back and asked if I could republish his agrarian articles at this blog. He gave me permission to do so and gave me the e-mail of a man who could send me the articles. I didn't have any success getting the articles from the man, and I let the idea go.

But when I left my wage-slave job back in January, I cleaned out my 13-year accumulation of assorted magazines, papers, and books. Buried in a drawer full of papers I found a copy of The Prima Facie Credibility of Covenental Agrarianism, by David E. Rockett. It was written in 1999. I had printed the 8-page article from The Agrarian Foundation web site in March of 2009.

Now that I have the article in hand, I can type it out and get it online. But it will have to wait until I have more time later this winter. For now I will just present the following excerpt from the essay.

But before I give you the excerpt I need to explain the word, "Prima Facie." It is Latin and it means: Evident without proof or reasoning; obvious.

In the introduction to the article, Mr. Rockett writes...

"Here, I simply hope to lay some foundational pilings, or pillars which establish a prima facie credibility of Covenental, or distinctively Christian, Agrarianism."

Later in the article, under the discussion of "Covenant Community," Mr. Rocket writes:

"The Modern Church has rejected cultural antithesis. It cowers, paralyzed under the modern fear of being 'marginalised' or feeling 'isolated' from the world. It has opted for a total absence of covenantal identity. There is no social or cultural antithesis between the sons of God and the children of the devil. The social fear of isolation and being marginalised has led the modern Church to barter a rich and distinctive Covenant life—for conformity, assimilation in the social poverty of Modernism.
This brings us to a subject seldom considered in Christian social theory. Within the covenant community, we are told to 'work with our hands,' and 'owe no man anything but to love one another.' What should we think about the multitudinous dependencies inherent in modern society? Should the Bride of Christ embrace a social structure which yokes Her to, and ensnares Her children with, a dependence upon unbelievers for the basic sustenance of life? Why? The modern city and suburb, with its radical division of labor, relegates our families to a host of dependencies upon giant municipalities and corporations. Some Christian economists have taught us to call this progress. We might ask 'Progress for whom, and by what definition?'
Let's be more clear concerning our dependencies. Few modern Christians ever contemplate their all but complete helplessness to provide their most basic sustenance of life—shelter, food, water and clothing. We have become contented in our dependence upon government municipalities and giant corporations (agribusiness and grocery chains) for our food, water and shelter. What would your family do if the electricity stayed off for several weeks and no trucks came to restock the food at the giant grocery outlet? Christian man and pagan man are all too similar—both are Modern Proletariats. Rather than rise to some modicum of self-reliance to meet his family's needs, both have become wage laborers. The property he owns is largely unproductive—frivolous and useless in meeting any part of his essential needs of food, shelter and clothing. These are provided via exchange of money with strangers with whom he has no relationship other than economic. This has not always been the case. Indeed, it has gradually arisen over the last 130 years of Industrialism—especially in the last 50 years!
The story of the modern Proletariat is completely ignored today. Modern man would rather gush on about his progress, techno-toys and all his 'cool stuff.' But take a moment to contrast the small independent farmer and his community of 1948, 1848, 1748, and 1648... to his suburban counterpart of 1998. The Husbandman-Farmer produced a large portion of his food and water from his own skill and productive property, year after year. Modern suburbanites have no productive landed property—or the skill and ability to provide for themselves if they did.
The Husbandman-Farmer lived in a community of landed freeholders much like himself, who not only worked with him from time to time, but supplied most of what he lacked by trade, barter and sale. Note here that an Agrarian economy or market is socially diversified by 1) some modicum of self-reliance and self-sufficiency, 2) local barter and trade, 3) regional commerce and exchange.
Modern proletariats are completely swallowed by The Money Economy. His 'neighbors' are as equally helpless and dependent to meet their needs as he is. Rather than see him as a helpful asset committed to their well being, he is more likely viewed as an economic competitor. Nor should there be much more than a superficial relationship in modern neighborhoods. Most suburbanites are temporary transients. Their corporate employers, or career opportunities are likely to relocate them in 3-5 years. So they have little enduring attachment to Place or community. The Mall and the Stadium—economics and sports—are the only forms of 'community' in Modernism's nomadic status-quo. Without Covenant, there is no chance for real community. Life becomes largely reduced to economics, and that an all but exclusive monetary preoccupation.
Covenantal Agrarianism, contrary to some misunderstandings, however, does not champion an isolated sort of rugged individualism, where a man meets all his needs all by himself. Rather, Covenantal Agrarianism champions the historic ideal of a freeman, or yeoman property owner, who has the ability to meet many of his basic needs, and carefully limits his dependencies. Though he might purchase some non-essentials, his essentials are provided by local interdependencies."


Here is the link to another article by David E. Rockett: 

(click for enlarged view)


Anonymous said...

Very well-written. I look forward to reading the rest of the article.

Cynthia (C.L) Lewis said...

So much common sense!

Judy said...


I am so thrilled that you are back to "as it happens" blogging. Now I can get my Herrick fix more often! I know it's a big commitment and I'm sure I speak for all your readers in saying that we surely appreciate it.