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 be role models. People must 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 the root desire of the gospel message. This form of dominionism really posses no problems.
2nd Type of Dominionism
Some of the more extreme dominionism 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 speaks in militaristic tones and even name ministries after military structures, such as the “Generals International.” This type of theology pervades the independent charismatic churches and the churches of super-natural healing like at Bethel in Redding, Word of Faith churches, and others. They call it “Dominion Now” theology. The movement is becoming so toxic and cult-like 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 to justify 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 they were entering Jericho.
The other issue is that once you view society as the enemy everything becomes a battle. Everything becomes life or death because it’s outright war with the Devil. 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. This is 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 (as out constitution purposefully intended).
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 a spiritual battle then you have now made your non-believing neighbor your enemy. Our neighbors are not our enemies.
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 and/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 was trending.
Many of Jesus’ followers thought that Jesus was going to setup that kingdom while he was here. In fact, most would say that the OT prophets made this a requirement for the messiah. 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)
19 thoughts on “5 Theological Views That Need Burned At The Stake (#1: Dominionism)”
Thanks for reading and commenting with such detail. I hardly ever get someone commenting that has read the whole post. In fact, I just recently got a nasty email from a woman who thought I was teaching King James Version Only-ism because she never bothered to read past the title of a post XD
I think Paul would thoroughly agree with your assessment of replacement theology. Great summary.
So … I’m late to the party. :)
You indicated you wanted to be “surgical” in your definition — meaning, I presume, to be like a two-edged scalpel in distinguishing the characteristics of dominism.
Your number 5 was the point at which your definition defines a problematic theology. “The Church must gain control of the earth’s governmental and social institutions, and establish the Kingdom on earth.”
There is, however, a version of things in which the word “dominion” is used where that #5 is not believed. It is not that “the church must gain control”, but rather, that “Christians must be faithful, and God will use their faithfulness to bring his influence to bear in the earth so that his kingdom will come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven, as he instructs us to pray.” (That probably relates to your “benign” version of dominionism.
If we are trying to take control and enforce things on a population that doesn’t think the same way, good things will not come out of that. If, on the other hand, we are faithful, and God changes people’s hearts, then much good can come of that.
While the predominant eschatological categories today do not have a category for that, it has been believed in the past in circles that I think are fairly reliable.
But, agreed, when we try to take control of the reigns of power apart from God’s work, and apart from our faithful servanthood, we are only asking for trouble.
Another comment: about Jews who do not follow Messiah. Someone quoted from Galatians 3 up above, and Paul continues the points made there by indicating in chapter 4 that the Jews and Jerusalem of his day (meaning those who rejected Messiah) were not spiritual descendants of Abraham and Sarah, but were the seed of Hagar: Ishmaelites and NOT Israelites spiritually, even while being descended physically from Abraham and Sarah. Modern Judaism are all variations of the Pharisaic Judaism of Paul’s day, rejecting Messiah, and categorized in the same way as Paul categorized them. (That manifestly doesn’t include physical Jews who receive Messiah, rather than rejecting him. Those Jews are in the same category as those who received Messiah in his day, like Peter, Paul, Andrew, James, John, etc.)
And about so-called “replacement theology”. The church did not “replace” Israel any more than the baby replaces the fetus (pre-natal baby). It’s the same thing — just at a further stage of development. The more common biblical analogy is a root below ground, and a plant growing above ground — but whether the pre-natal baby and the post-natal baby, or the root and the vine, the import is the same. This is the same organism, at a clearly different stage of development. That is why Paul is so invested in the “one” terminology in Ephesians 2 — Jews (believing ones) and Gentiles (believing ones) Christ “makes us both into one”, made into “one new man”, reconciled to God “in one body”, “fellow citizens”, “fellow … members of THE household of God”, “joined together into A holy temple”. We are one organism, or as he puts it in the next chapter (3:6) “Gentiles are members of the same body [as the Jews]”. In botanical terms, we Gentiles were grafted in, the original [believing] Jews in Paul’s day were root stock, converts from Judaism now are grafted BACK in, but we are one. We didn’t replace them; we (all) ARE them.
And now I am compelled to close with Paul’s benediction after he dealt with this topic (Romans 11:33-36)
33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
Sometime around the millennium, a synod of bishops met, and after much discussion (I think it took them ten or 15 years, actually, they finally ruled that they’d given a concerted effort for more than two thousand years, but it was time to stop evangelizing the Jews, ruling that their original covenant with God was with the same God, and that it was still good, no matter their differences. Look it up!
I’m not sure that the opinion of a small group of bishops is authoritative enough to speak for all Christians
Just curious, what about Jews who prefer to continue to practice the faith that actually produced Jesus? When you consider that his Sermon on the Mount was a Jewish Sabbath service. Unchanged from when Jesus called Jews to welcome the Sabbath then, Rabbis TO THIS DAY summon Congregants EXACTLY the same way, DO THEY GET TO REMAIN JEWS UNMOLESTED?
There is a term for Jewish Christians. We usually refer to them as Messianic Jews. It’s pretty clear from the book of acts that Jews who wish to follow the Jewish law and still be Christians are allowed to. However, they are not required to follow the law and they are commanded not to convince the gentile Christians that they must follow the law.
However, those Jews who do not accept Jesus I am unsure about. The NT seems to indicate that rejecting Jesus would disqualify them. But only the Lord truly know who will end up in heaven.
Meryl Weisman- Rabbinical judaism had not become mainstream in the days of the Apostles. There were four different sects teaching and following the Law of Moses according to their traditions. One of them being Pharisees. The Pharisees had two sects. House of Hilliel and House of Shammai. Quite a few followed and believed in Yeshua as Mashiach. They lead congregations in Jerusalem and the diaspora. (Maybe two of the twelve Apostles were participants of these sects at the time of their calling) Judas Iscariot and another disciple called “the zealot”.
This is why Apostle Paul was instructed to go to the leaders in Jerusalem to “get schooled” on the salvation doctrine. The Pharisee Believers of Yeshua felt Paul was going against long practiced traditions. The Holy Spirit taught the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem that the “Law” was to be clarified through the words of the Prophets. This is why they understood how Amos chapter 9 was being fulfilled through this dissention( Gentiles receiving Grace).
Therefore not excluding the teaching of “Law” of Moses every Shabbat nor forcing Circumcism but salvation is by faith in G-d which circumsizes the heart not the flesh.
Traditions, doctrines, and customs are not to supercede the teachings of Yeshua if a Christian or Messianic. Not to Supercede the Torah ” Law”, Prophets and the writings (Tanakh) if a Jew. Acts Chapter 15. Luke Chapter 24.
As long as the misunderstanding of where G-d’s law belongs both spiritually and physically, replacement theology will be the umbrella of which all Christian and Jewish theology remains.
Molestation is inevitable from all sides!
There are two camps. The Zealous for the “Law or Torah” and the Lawless “without Law or Torah”.
-Just a thought
I don’t think your idea of replacement theology is the same as most others. Typically, Supersessionism refers to the replacement of Israel by the Church, not the replacement of the law by grace.
On matters of the law, I would just state what the Bible has to say about the role that the law has to play in salvation. Namely, that it’s been replaced. It was a temporary measure until Christ came.
Galatians 3:1-4 “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?”
Galatians 3:13-14 ” Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Galatians 3:21-25 “21 Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, [f]kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our [g]tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”
Hebrews 10:1 “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.”
I think that Acts 15 provides a good summary of what the apostles decided the role of the law was.
Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”
Acts 15:6-11 “6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.””
Does most Apolstolic prophetic movements/ seminaries fall into both catagories
It has been my experience that the Apostolic movement has not tried to dominate culture, but rather withdraw from it.
I believe that what you’ve written in this article is actually a misunderstanding of the dominion theology. Personally, as I’ve visited several nondenominational churches, visited some charismatic circles, I notice that many people that attack certain forms of theology are poorly researched… To be honest, they do not believe that culture is to be taken by force, and that every non-believer is the enemy. Their main belief is to transform society by bringing Jesus everywhere they go…and this includes the workplace, arts, and so forth. Therefore, if I was a business man, I should love people the way Jesus did in the marketplace. If I were an artist, I should dedicate my art to the Lord, and be prepared to evangelize. In this way, artists can be reached to know Jesus in ways that they would not have been otherwise. This is what it’s about, wanting God to transform every area of society. It’s not about just the missions field or only at church. It’s not about theocracy. In fact, I’ve met more people who believe in this kind of theology who regularly practice blessing people and evangelizing than I have in churches who do not, because there seems to be more boldness in the idea that God wants every area of our lives to be affected, and personally, I disagree with people who cite ideas that it is divisive and alienating.
While I appreciate your thoughts I would point out a few things.
1. I never said that all charismatic church or even all dominion churches were bad. In fact, it was one of the first things I said.
“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.”
2. There is a difference between being a wealthy pastor and being a pastor that seeks wealth.
That is why no one criticizes Billy Graham but they to the televangelists. Televangelists do not need a 15K dollar coffee table or 200K dollars of office furnature (Joyce Meyer). They also don’t need private jets or multiple mansions. That is called greed and its the same thing God rebuked Israel for in most of the book of Amos.
3. No one ever said that wealthy people don’t also need to ministered to or saved. Not sure where you got that idea from.
4. No one is criticizing Hollywood producers for being christian and having money. Once again, not sure where you got that from.
5. No one is saying that God won’t bless people or doesn’t want to bless people.
But money isn’t the only form of blessing. Also, this blog isn’t about money, it’s about dominion theology. Not sure why your entire comment is about money.
My comment isn’t about money. I did mention that, but I was trying to point out that dominion theology is basically about influencing all areas of society, including Hollywood (the arts) and the media.
Televangelists do something that most Christians do not do. They broadcast the gospel over the TV, and that can reach people who would otherwise have not been reached.
I brought up the issue of money, because Christians feel that it’s righteous to judge someone for having a lot of money, but why so? Would you rather have the channel the televangelist is on to be occupied instead by something that is so common already: a show about sex, violence, or something crude and unfulfilling?
To criticize televangelists for having a lot of money, can be glossing over the influence they do have. Also, greed is relative. To a starving child in Africa, perhaps the fact that Americans can spent $100 a meal is greed to them. Yes, maybe thousands of dollars spent on something can be greedy, but what is the fruit of their ministry? If they spent a billion on reaching souls, then does an expensive piece of furniture negate what they devote their entire lives to? I feel that the body of Christ is so divided over petty issues like this. Greed is so relative. I’m a college student and I drive a 2k Accord. If I were to point figures at a Christian brother for spending a few 100k on an expensive car, am I justified? I can be poor and give almost none of my income to God, but my rich brother might actually be throwing more time and effort despite what seems to be material indulgence to me, just looking at him on the outward appearance. Personally, my pastor is sometimes criticized because the building that his church is in costs thousands of dollars.
Also, the church that I currently go to charismatic. Surprisingly, almost everyone that I meet in the area (charismatic or not) has no qualms with any of the theology or teachings in the church. It seems to me that those who put down the New Apostolic Reformation churches seem to have limited experience outside of books about what actually goes on in those type of churches. “dominion theology” in churches like Bethel, and Word of Faith don’t really cause division the way that you stated, in fact the Manifest Destiny idea is a gross exaggeration in my opinion.
“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.”
I mentioned money because you seem to have a very negative view towards pastors for being wealthy, and also you state that this “type of theology” “pervades” churches such as Bethel. I know Bethel students and they are some of the most on fire Christians I know.
I don’t believe that only the poor are to be reached (of course, without mentioning certain things, the reader can read a negative context into your statement…and it felt like an attack towards these churches), and the undertone of the last few sentences felt like you wanted us to only reach the orphans, widows and so on, and I apologize if that was a misunderstanding on my part. I attend a college ministry that is mainly evangelical and I visit other churches and I don’t see any conflict, other than the fact that charismatic churches believe in supernatural healings and prophetic words more than some other churches, and to be honest, I find it offensive when the theology they teach is twisted into something it’s not.
You seem to think that I have an issue with charasmatic churches. I do not and I have given no indication that I did. I worked for a charasmatic church and attended others for years. My issue isn’t with the charasmatic movement, it’s with dominion theology. There is a reason why Denominations don’t teach this theology; they have seminary education requirements for their pastors.
Just because your church’s brand of dominion theology is tame doesn’t mean the theological core of dominionism is sound. It just means the churches you attend are lead by sane people who fit into dominionism category #1 listed above which I already stated was not really an issue.
I never said Christians should be poor either. In fact I make pretty good money. But I also live a frugal life so I can give as much as I can for building the kingdom, not building my own mansion or private jets.
But these televangelists actually teach that you can’t be saved unless you are giving money to the church, with the exception of Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince. It’s a common Word of Faith theology. Creflo Dollar even joked about murdering people who don’t tithe.
But it’s not important because my post is not about televangelists or money. It’s about dominion theology.
I believe what Jennifer is saying is true,and again as I add to this, gospel is very expensive. Thanks dao keep to protect what is right, be blessed, shad:frm Africa Kenya.
AMEN AMEN! It is the gospel of grace not domination!