Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dominionism = Blasphemy? Treason?

There's been a lot in the news lately about Dominionism (also known as Dominion Theology, with subsets known as Christian Reconstructionism, Seven Mountains theology, and Christian Nationalism). Basically what it is is a belief that Christians (and in this case very conservative - and often Calvinist - members associated with the Christian Right) need to gain control of communications, the arts, finance, the marketplace, and most importantly government, in order to run the world, or at least the United States, according to what they see as God's law as opposed to the existing secular law.

Probably the most succinct expression of the Dominionist agenda is this from the Coral Ridge Ministries' executive director George Grant, who wrote in his 1987 book Changing of the Guard:

Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ - to have dominion in the civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness.

But it is dominion that we are after. Not just a voice.

It is dominion we are after. Not just influence.

It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time.

It is dominion we are after.

World conquest. That's what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less.

If Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, as the Bible says, and if our commission is to bring the land into subjection to His Lordship, as the Bible says, then all our activities, all our witnessing, all our preaching, all our craftsmanship, all our stewardship, and all our political action will aim at nothing short of that sacred purpose.

Thus, Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land - of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ. It is to reinstitute the authority of God's Word as supreme over all judgments, over all legislation, over all declarations, constitutions, and confederations.

This philosophy is the driving force behind much of the Christian Right's political activism, including its virtual takeover of the Republican Party. Many of the Christian Right leaders these days are Dominionists: Pat Robertson; everybody associated with American Family Association (the Wildmon family empire, which includes the World News Daily news media organization) , especially their public spokesman, Bryan Fischer; the Dobson family's Focus on the Family empire; the whole Liberty Baptist Church organization, including Liberty University, its Law department, the Liberty Center for Law and Policy, and Liberty Counsel, the organization's legal arm; and Christian Nationalist revisionist "historian" David Barton. Several of the current crowd of GOP presidential candidates are also associated with Dominionism: Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and will-she-or-won't-she Sarah Palin.

The interesting thing is that now that the news media has called attention to Dominionism, most of its staunchest proponents are denying that the movement exists. In August Pat Robertson made a big fuss about it on his 700 Club broadcast and claimed he'd never heard of such a thing. And yet he's stated the prime Dominionist objectives over and over again, including this speech in Dallas in 1984 as reported in Al Dager's book Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Dominion (Sword, 1990):
Now what do you do? What do all of us do? We get ready to take dominion! We get ready to take dominion! It is all going to be ours--I'm talking about all of it. Everything that you would say is a good part of the secular world. Every means of communication, the news, the television, the radio, the cinema, the arts, the government, the finance--it's going to be ours! God's going to give it to His people. We should prepare to reign and rule with Jesus Christ. (Dager, p. 95)
Matt Barber, an associate dean of Liberty University's law school and Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel and Liberty Alliance Action, recently tweeted this in reaction to media coverage of Dominionism: "Can someone tell me what a 'dominionist' is? Best I can tell it's some scary monster that lives under liberals' beds." Yet just last year, at a Liberty University sponsored American Vision’s Worldview Super Conference entitled "2010 Sovereignty and Dominion conference - Biblical Blueprints for Victory!", Barber addressed the conference with these words:
The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:28 that God created us to multiply, fill the earth, and take dominion of His creation for His Glory. When Jesus came to earth, He gave his disciples the Great Commission and told them to make disciples of all nations, Baptize them, and teach them to obey all that he had commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). These two mandates form the basis for why Christ’s Church exists on this planet. Every square inch of this world belongs to King Jesus. It is our privilege to serve Him by exercising servanthood dominion in every area of life.
And John Aman, the current Director of Communications at Truth in Action Ministries, the successor to Coral Ridge Ministries, said "dominionism is a sham charge - one reserved for Christians on the right" that was dreamed up by the Left as "a handy way to smear evangelicals like Bachmann and Perry who bring biblically informed moral convictions into public debate." Obviously he hasn't read his predecessor's book, as quoted above.

Normally such stuff could be ignored or laughed off as a fringe movement with no real power or influence, but this is an ideology espoused by the movement that has gained major influence in one of the two major political parties, and an ideology espoused by a majority of that party's group of politicians vying for nomination as its presidential candidate. These are people determined to seek power and gain control of the country. Laugh if you want, but this is serious stuff and these are serious people.

But it also has serious flaws which have raised opposition both on the religious and secular fronts. Many Christians, and even many evangelicals, object to it as foreign to Christian belief. After all, didn't Jesus say, in response to Pilate's question "Are you King of the Jews?" that "my kingdom is not of this world"? Of course, the usual answer to that by the Dominionists is the Great Commission referred to by Matt Barber above - Matthew 28:18-20. Now he claims that verse commands Christians to teach the world to obey all that Jesus commanded, and leaves the impression that this includes some kind of Christian governance. But what does the passage really say?
And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
But what did Jesus command them to do? Feed the hungry, care for the sick, house and clothe the poor, love all humanity; there's nothing there about governing and imposing laws on the people.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
- Luke 6:20 - 31

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.
- Matthew 25: 35 - 40

Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
- Luke 6: 37 & 38

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say? This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her. And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.
- John 8: 3 - 11

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, Which commandment is the most important of all? Jesus answered, The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.
- Mark 12: 28 - 31

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
- John 13: 34 & 35
Nothing about governing there, is there? Only advice on how people can live together in harmony, with compassion and respect. In many ways Dominionist theology is, in fact, blasphemy.

Of course, it's also treason. These people are advocating taking over the government and imposing "God's Law" as given in the Bible (mostly drawn from Mosaic Law in the Torah of the Hebrew Scriptures, as Jesus didn't seem to be very big on the laws thing), in effect revoking our Constitution, which says in the First Amendment's establishment clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." (A more detailed exposition of this subject can be found here.)In other words, the government can't impose a religion on the population. But that's what these people are proposing to do. Sounds like treason to me.

Our Constitution guarantees a secular government, and we need to protect that legacy. The best protection is awareness. I hope I've contributed to that awareness.


© 2011 by A. Roy Hilbinger

6 comments:

  1. go for it roy....

    for me, perry and bachman and their dominionism beliefs just reinforce my belief that they are too weird for words (trying to find the kindest words possible to describe the idiocy of their worldview!)

    ethics yes....religion no when it comes to politics!!!!!

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  2. I wasn't aware of this until relatively recently, and as a rational (I hope) Christian, it scares the crap out of me. I was about to quote a few lies of scripture myself, supporting my view of this, but I think you hit them all.

    As a believer in Christ, I want to be there to see at least some of these people when they face Jesus Himself and He scolds them for corrupting God's words (and Jesus' own) before expelling them from the Kingdom of Heaven.

    Hell of a post, Roy. Pun intended.

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  3. I'm no biblical scholar, but wasn't there a passage at one point where Jesus specifically spurned secular authority, rendering to Caesar what is Caesar's or something to that effect?

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  4. A Sort Of Christian Sharia law ?

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  5. This sounds like the ploy of Islamic fundemenalism more than Christianity. Religion has no place in politics or law to my mind. Practice if if you want but don't expect me to embrace it and certainly don't think you can reign dominion over me with it.

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  6. I recently watched a documentary on Scientology and I thought of you and your great post...thanks for sharing your knowledge and I hope things are going better. (been hibernating)

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