1. Dominionism (Dominion Theology as it is formerly known)
What Is Dominionism?
I want to be somewhat surgical here with defining dominionism because there are really two types. One seems to be mostly benign while the other is a bit more destructive. But first I will define this piece of theology in it’s most general sense.
The term “Dominion Theology” comes from the King James Bible’s rendering of Genesis 1:28, the passage in which God grants mankind “dominion” over the Earth and all it’s creatures.
And God blessed [ Adam and Eve ], and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 KJV)
I want to end our general explanation here with a brief list from another blog that will give a concise progression of theological thought.
- God gave Adam dominion over the earth
- Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth through the fall of Adam and Eve
- Jesus defeated Satan and took dominion back in his victory on the cross
- He then gave dominion back to believers
- The Church must gain control of the earth’s governmental and social institutions, and establish the Kingdom on earth
- Then, and only then, can Jesus come
1st Type of Dominionism
In the 1980s,a number of evangelical authors coined phrase “Dominion Theology” or “Dominionism” to label a theological movement that took their direction from Genesis 1:28. Christians typically interpret this passage as meaning that God gave humankind responsibility over the Earth, but in Dominion Theology it is interpreted as a mandate for Christian dominion in civil affairs and all other affairs.
While this in itself should not be alarming since the righteous thrive, and the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan. (Proverbs 29:2 NIV) Of course Christians should have influence in society and they should even be leaders in society. They should role models. People see the need to engage culture so they can transform culture. This engaging culture theoretically then leads to the transformation and kingdom focus that is desired. This form of dominionism really posses no problems.
2nd Type of Dominionism
Some of the more extreme movements have developed the theory of the 7 mountains that must be dominated. These 7 mountains are family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government. They speak of the army of God needing to “occupy” the 7 cultural mountains. This is the same camp that guys like Ted Cruz and the Televangelists push (of course the sign that Jesus is dominating is that they are mega wealthy).
This branch often speak in militaristic tones and even name ministries after military structures, such as the “Generals International.” This type of theology pervades the independent charismatic church and the churches of super-natural healing like Bethel in Redding, Word of Faith, and others. They call is “Dominion Now” theology. So much so in the charismatic circles that some organizations like IHOP have had to publicly declare that they are not part of the extremist faction.
Why Dominionism Needs To Be Burned At The Stake
Here is the problem with dominion theology: it’s not in the Bible. At least not the way in which the militaristic branch of dominionists think. If it was up to them they would usher in a theocracy by military force, which brings me to the next issue. The American’s have used this theology for any number of atrocities. It was a form of dominionism that lead to “Manifest Destiny” where Europeans came to the new “Promised Land” and slaughtered the inhabitants like Jericho.
The other issue is that once you view society as the enemy everything becomes a battle. This has lead to the Christian political faction in America constantly feeling as though they are being threatened by the enemy. American’s want to remove the 10 Commandments from the courthouses and all hell breaks loose because the Devil is now winning. So then that leads to the culture wars. Starbucks can’t even print plain looking cups without Christian’s losing their minds over it, even though it had nothing to do with authentic Christianity. The same was true for taking prayer out of school. They same will be true as America becomes and increasingly more secular society.
A great book came out in 1992 that studied this theological movement called “Heaven on Earth?: The Social and Political Agendas of Dominion Theology” by Bruce Barron. In it Bruce speaks about the political affects of this theology.
In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus. (Page 14)
It is this political and theological shift that separates and isolates Christians from the society at large, rather than integrating them with that society and transforming it from within. When everything becomes and issue if domination then you have now made your non-believing neighbor your enemy.
Finally, militaristic dominion theology needs to die because it has nothing to do with how Jesus demonstrated ministry to the disciples. Jesus never once instructed his disciples to force people or culture to heed the gospel. He never once told them that Christians would have to dominate the world and setup a theocracy. Rather, he engaged the world by being IN the world and touching people’s hearts. He had no weapons, no means of force, no coercion, and cared not about what society was doing.
Many of Jesus’ followers thought that Jesus was going to setup that kingdom while he was here. In Luke 19:11 we can see Jesus trying to teach the people that the kingdom will not come for some time and in the in meantime they need to be busy with God’s work; and that is how we were delivered the parable of the 10 minas. (Luke 19:11-27)
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” 11 While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
(Luke 19:9-11 NIV)
Jesus will return when the time is right, until then be busy serving the poor, the needy, the outcasts, the widows, and the hurting.
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 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, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-36)