Dominionism What is it? – Part 1
By: Sarah Leslie DiscernmentMinistries.org
The following material was included in 3 separate presentations I made at Discernment conferences this Fall. The presentations were accompanied by clips from DVDs to illustrate the points. The basic outline of these talks is below. This is a work in progress, and at some point there may be a webpage where further examples are posted, including the visual clips.
The reader must keep in mind that this report illustrates the problems inherent in the Dominionist worldview. Many of these false teachings are actually part of denominational doctrines, some were concocted in the past several decades, some come out of the occult. There is a dearth of solid theological refutations of these heresies and errors. Why is this? There were great and grave compromises in the seminaries over the past century, where these heresies were allowed to co-exist with fundamentalism, and where they were permitted to gain ground and become more acceptable—to the point that common people, humble pastors, and concerned professors in small Bible colleges and seminaries were silenced. Furthermore, these false teachings went mainstream through the rapid rise of the modern televangelists, Christian books and seminars, and para-church organizations.
Each day at Discernment Ministries we receive correspondence from precious sheep struggling to understand these errors. We exhort those who read this, who are capable of writing solid biblical refutations of these errors, to prayerfully consider their responsibility before God and man to write rebuttals.
A WORKING DEFINITION of DOMINIONISM
The belief that we (mankind) have a mandate to build the “kingdom of God” on earth, restoring paradise, by progressively and supernaturally transforming ourselves and all societal institutions, through subduing and ruling the earth by whatever means possible, including using technology, science and psycho-social engineering; and then and only then will a “Christ” manifest his presence on earth.
Al Dager in his book VENGEANCE IS OURS: The Church In Dominion (Sword 1990) lists two further definitions of Dominionism:
A basic premise of dominion theology is that when Adam sinned, not only did man lose dominion over the earth, but God also lost control of the earth to Satan. Since that time, some say, God has been on the outside looking in, searching for a “covenant people” who will be His “extension” or “expression” in the earth to take dominion back from Satan. According to the dominionist interpretation, this is the meaning of the Great Commission. Some teach that this is to be accomplished through certain “overcomers” who, by yielding themselves to the authority of latter-day apostles and prophets, will take control of the kingdoms of this world. These kingdoms are defined as the various social institutions, such as the “kingdom” of education, the “kingdom” of science, the “kingdom” of the arts, and so on. Most especially there is the “kingdom” of politics and government. (Dager, p. 44)
THE DOMINION MANDATE
Dominion theology is predicated upon three basic beliefs:
1) Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth through the temptation of Adam and Eve;
2) The Church is God’s instrument to take dominion back from Satan;
3) Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken dominion by gaining control of the earth’s government and social institutions. (Dager, p. 87)
SYMPTOMS of DOMINIONISM
What follows is a comprehensive list (although not complete!) of potential things to watch for that indicate that a particular teaching may be Dominionist.
1. Bypasses the Cross
De-emphasizes the Gospel of Salvation.
Substitutes the Gospel of the Kingdom, or embellishes the Gospel of Salvation with the addition of the kingdom message.
Teaches Jesus didn’t quite defeat Satan on the Cross, He didn’t get the whole job done – the church must finish the job – the onus is on man.
Emphasizes Old Testament Law and Covenants, works and deeds, and minimizes (or even mocks) salvation by faith through grace.
Ignores, slides over, sidesteps, gives lip service to, or otherwise disregards the fact that Jesus saves us from OUR SINS! The biblical teaching of the utter depravity of man is bypassed, minimized, neglected, missing totally, or mocked.
Jesus is seen as corrupted. He becomes a nebulous touchy-feely fellow, the object of our “passion,” a “god within,” a “force,” a “story,” a “king,” a “liberator from oppression,” one of many “christs.”
Jesus’s role as Savior and Redeemer is diminished and truncated, and His work is unfinished – and therefore the church on earth must make up for His lack.
As an example of this point, watch ERIC SWANSON of Leadership Network on YouTube. You will hear how he changed the gospel of salvation to the gospel of the kingdom: http://learnings.leadnet.org/2010/06…this-week.html
2. The Old Testament is exaggerated and emphasized.
The New Testament is minimized, or only viewed through the distorted lens of the Old Testament.
The New Covenant of Christ’s shed blood on the cross for our sins is minimized. The O.T. is mixed back in with the Gospel. (“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Gal. 3:3).
Replacement theology – the Church is Israel, and some or all O.T. verses about Israel are only applied to the Church.
A shift in emphasis from Christ the rock of our salvation, to building an actual kingdom on earth.
Using allegories and symbolism, especially in interpreting O.T. prophecy that hasn’t yet been fulfilled.
Ignoring, allegorizing or skipping over the O.T. prophets, or perverting their message. Especially ignoring their dire warnings about the consequences of idolatry and sin, and God’s impending judgment.
Extremes in teaching law or grace.
A return to fundamental elements of the O.T. Law – Theonomy and Theocracy. Or, a corresponding emphasis on N.T. “Law,” especially the Sermon on the Mount. This often manifests as “Liberation Theology,” which is neo-Communist (peacekeeping, sustainable lifestyles, reconciliation, redistribution of wealth, charity as welfare, government Socialism, etc.)
Some Dominionist “kingdom” teachings begin to sound precariously close to anti-Semitism:
“Who are the subjects of the kingdom of God? The Jews? No, Jesus told the Jews quite pointedly, ‘I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it’ (Mt 21:43) (Bercot, The Kingdom That Turned The World Upside Down, p. 13)
3. The Gospel of Salvation becomes the “gospel of the kingdom”
Certain theologians teach that the Gospel of Salvation is not as important as their “gospel” of the kingdom. They claim that the church got it “wrong” for 2000 years!
The Gospel of Salvation is reduced to a:
“means to an end—entering the kingdom of God. Jesus never intended that His followers would preach about salvation and the new birth apart from the kingdom. The kingdom is an absolutely crucial aspect of the gospel. When we tell people about salvation—but say nothing about the kingdom—we are not preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (David Bercot, p. 12-13)
The Gospel of the Kingdom is substituted for the Gospel of Salvation:
“The Message Is The Kingdom “This means when we preach salvation alone we are missing the majority of God’s kingdom message. Salvation is essential. There is no other way of entry into the Kingdom of God. But salvation is the entry into the kingdom; it is not the goal or the Kingdom itself. By making it the goal we have lost most of God’s message. (Landa Cope, An Introduction to The Old Testament Template: Rediscovering God’s principles for discipling all nations, p. 147) “Our destiny is not salvation “God died to save us and desires salvation for all. The only way into the Kingdom of God is through Jesus Christ, but salvation is not God’s ultimate goal. The new birth is a means to an end.” (Landa Cope, p. 150)
The Dominionist theologians teach that this “kingdom” is a literal, physical, tangible kingdom here and now. They say it is not just a spiritual kingdom, nor one that is only fulfilled in the future. This “new type of kingdom” is described as:
“a real kingdom. The ancient kingdom of the Israelites was definitely a real kingdom, wasn’t it? It had real kings, real subjects, and real laws. Its domain encompasses the entire earth, even though most of the earth’s population are not citizens of this kingdom.” (Bercot, p. 15)
This kingdom must be set up in this world now. It is a man-based initiative that relies on man’s works to inaugurate:
“1. The Kingdom of God was inaugurated and the King was installed and seated in the First Century A.D. and we need not wait for the King’s second coming to get the Kingdom started here on earth….” (Jay Grimstead letter to Coalition on Revival Steering Committee, May 1993)
This kingdom is seen as “at war,” but not in the sense of the contending for the truth of the Gospel. Rather there are penalties for not obeying these kingdom “laws.” Failure to obey them is considered “treason” against the kingdom or its king:
“Jesus has issued various laws and commandments, and all of His laws are wartime laws. When we break His laws, we show ourselves to be traitors. We show that we have no real love for our new country.” (Bercot, p. 20)
This kingdom has laws that must be obeyed, most of them O.T., and anything less than absolute obedience to these laws is quickly mischaracterized and condemned as “easy-believism,” “cheap grace,” “antinomianism,” “Armenianism,” etc.
The shift from the Gospel of Salvation to the gospel of the kingdom requires “paradigm shift,” a worldview change which is substituted for biblical repentance:
“The paradigm shift that we must make in order to enter and remain in the kingdom is just that radical! …If we are truly kingdom citizens our whole worldview changes….” [Jesus] wanted to give [His disciples] a new set of values and a new set of laws—together with a new life.” (Bercot, p. 25)
4. God’s SOVEREIGNTY is insufficient and the Church must make up for His lack.
Certain things biblically assigned to Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Father, are passed on as responsibilities that must be borne by the Church.
The unspoken assumption that God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (the Trinity) is incomplete without man—God can’t do anything unless man acts.
The Church takes on the role of Jesus – it must redeem the earth, “advance” or build the kingdom of God spiritually and/or physically, take over governments so that it can rule and reign on earth, and restore everything to its “proper” order.
The Church thinks it must “incarnate” Christ here on earth, and be his “presence.” He’s far away in heaven somewhere, too busy or preoccupied.
The Church as “change agent” must quantify its goals, set benchmarks for the fulfillment of its duties, standardize its outcomes, and continually monitor and assess individual and group progress using databanking, modern psycho-social instruments and technology.
Fulfilling the Great Commission mandate to “disciple” all nations is viewed as statistically measurable, its completion being entirely up to man. Jesus won’t return until the goal is met.
Man must do it. God is waiting for man to act. The onus is on man. This is a man-centered faith. In this sense Dominionism is pure Humanism.
5. The Church is confused with Society or Nation
Basic doctrines of salvation and repentance from sin, conversion, confession of faith, and baptism of believers no longer define what constitutes “Church.”
The autonomy of the local Church is not permitted. It must become part of a greater societal and networking whole, a “system.”
Church is broadly re-defined to mean a given region, particularly a city.
“Church” is re-defined in the context of culture. Culture must be “redeemed” not individual sinners.
Everyone and everything on earth is obligated to come under submission to the kingdom church, its laws and its “king,” or else be guilty of “treason” –
“4. At this moment of history, all humans on earth, whether Jew or Gentile, believer or unbeliever, private person or public official, are OBLIGATED TO BOW THEIR KNEES to THIS King Jesus, confess Him as Lord of the universe with their tongues, and submit to His lordship over every aspect of their lives in thought, word and deed.” “5. Biblical evangelism according to the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20 is not truly accomplished unless that message of Christ’s lordship from point #4 above is given to the person being evangelized SO THAT THEY KNOW that an attempt at PERSONAL NEUTRALITY BEFORE KING JESUS IS SIN and TREASON in this universe….” (Grimstead letter)
The Church puts itself in charge of Society, its Institutions, Culture, and the State. Society is viewed as an extension of Church.
The “missional” Church redefines its primary role from that of preaching the Gospel to that of becoming a transforming agent of Society. This is accomplished by changing people’s external lives, affecting how they think (“worldview”), passing laws, and “redeeming” cultural institutions.
To transform Society, the Church justifies using state-of-the-art tools of psychology and sociology, including Humanistic education methods, operant conditioning, dialectics, brain manipulations and marketing methods.
A mere “change in “worldview” (opinions, values, beliefs, attitudes, etc.) is substituted for genuine repentance and conversion.
Reaching a worldview consensus is viewed as necessary to build the kingdom on earth. It thus becomes necessary to change the public’s worldview in any given culture or nation.
6. An entire CULTURE must be “redeemed,” whole nations can be “saved”
Evangelization—believing that entire nations or “people groups” can be collectively saved, including by manipulative methods such as psycho-social group consensus.
The emphasis is on the EXTERNAL – changing laws, morals, ethics, values, culture, and people’s worldview through education and/or political action.
No biblical separation. Rather, saturation. The church integrates and interacts with culture.
There is a marked decrease in preaching the Gospel of Salvation, the WORD of God, which alone can change individual hearts and lives. (“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb. 4:12)
Substituted for the true Gospel is a man-centered Social Gospel of community transformation:
“So the goal that God has now placed on the agenda of the Body of Christ in the last few years, much more than we can find in the past, is, the goal is transforming our society. Seeing the values of the kingdom of God, that’s why Jesus taught us to pray… the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven’…. And part of that prayer is, ‘your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’…. It’s not just words we’re speaking. ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ So transforming our society, understanding the kingdom, and transforming our society is, number one. (C. Peter Wagner, “Arise Prophetic Conference,” Gateway Church, San Jose, CA, 10-10-2004, transcript posted at http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/arise.html)
Another substitute gospel of redeeming creation, restoring paradise conditions to the whole earth.
“Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a restoration that he will complete upon his return…. The whole earth can be redeemed, transformed and restored to paradise conditions…. [T]he new creation has begun, and we have a job to do…. What the New Testament really says is God wants you to be a renewed human being helping him to renew his creation, and his resurrection was the opening bell.” (N.T. Wright, TIME, 2/7/08, http://www.time.com/time/world/artic…710844,00.html)