There are several terms that are used to describe the rule of God on earth: Theocracy, Theonomy, and Christian Reconstructionism. What is the difference between these three?
Theocracy. Theocracy is made up of the two Greek parts theos, meaning God, and kratia, meaning government. It describes a place that exists under the governance of God (or, historically, it has been used to describe a place that exists under the governance of those who are believed to be divine leaders.) Thus, a democracy is under the governance of the people: demos meaning people and kratia meaning government.
Theonomy. Theonomy is made up of the two Greek parts theos, meaning God, and nomos, meaning law. It describes people who exist under the law of God. Thus, autonomy is a person under his own law.
Christian Reconstructionism. Christian Reconstructionism describes the concept of reconstructing (or reforming) society and believes the only way this will truly happen is under the governance and law of God.
Theocracy is the traditional term used to describe a people under God’s governance and law, like Old Testament Israel was. Theonomy and Christian Reconstructionism are terms that have been adopted by those who hold to this position because they didn’t carry the baggage that theocracy did. The word theocracy has been used pejoratively to describe those in the Christian Right who want to legislate morality. True theocrats and theonomists do not believe this is how the reconstruction of society will occur, and so essentially synonymous terms began being used to avoid the emotional baggage the word theocracy carries.
In the end, the terms are essentially synonymous. And more importantly, are used to reject the straw man argument that we believe the State should pass laws forcing people to be Christians, to be baptized, and to attend Church.
Don’t be afraid to embrace a term that is true, just be prepared to defend its true meaning.