Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dominionism -- old, new, but still flawed

Republican Presidential candidates Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have recently been linked to the "dominionist" movement, which espouses the notion that civil government can and should be ruled under Biblical laws.

This may surprise you, but it's hardly new -- indeed, it goes back five centuries with theologian John Calvin, founder of what we call the "Reformed" persuasion, and eventualy adopted by the Puritan movement in England in the 17th Century and transplanted to New England, where it was dominant politically. However, according to Jon Meachem in Time magazine, more recently it's been adopted by an outfit called the Pentecostal-oriented New Apostolic Reformation, which theologically certainly isn't Calvinist.

One thing I can tell you: It won't work, either politically or theologically. I have no doubt that the motivation is the "will to power," in this case using Biblical principles not to benefit the people but for that Christianity to become culturally dominant and its adherents be able to push people around.

The political problem is that we live in a land where only a minority of citizens subscribe to conservative, evangelical Christianity, with a large and growing number of those rejecting the right-wing GOP agenda allied with the dominionists. As such, the dominionists can achieve power only by subterfuge -- that is, they can't be totally honest about their goals because they know that people won't vote for them. That doesn't bode well for a movement that purports to be Biblical but needs to operate with deceitful tactics and motives; those on the political left understand this and even hope that the more extreme elements of the movement make most of the noise. Moreover, if you're going to maintain consistent Biblical standards you need to implement not just the punishment -- what I think they had in mind -- but also the proper prosecution, which means that, for capital crimes, you have to have at least two witnesses and the accusers must participate in the execution (Deut. 17:6-7); just try to establish that condition in individualistic American society. (I have heard that, in Jewish society, anyone who presides over two executions a year would be considered a "hanging judge.")

The theological problem is that God never established His law in ancient Israel simply to be obeyed for its own sake but in the process to demonstrate to the world of that day that He was indeed God and, ultimately, to be a blessing. However, Israel didn't get that. The Pharisees didn't get that. And theonomists and the NAR certainly don't get that.

This is not to say that Christians can't and shouldn't try to influence their political and cultural surroundings. Trouble begins, however, when becoming powerful becomes an end in itself and no longer seeks the highest good for anyone.

In other words, dominionists in general and the NAR in particular shouldn't try to pass their ideology off on God. Really, dominionism only uses God and cannot compel people to worship Him -- which was His real goal.

1 comment:

Mark said...

True Rick, In times past, Christian societies have tried to keep the people God blesses blessable through laws: The Kievan Rus ( Russia between The Apostle Andrews mission and the Dark Ages),Reformation Era Europe, And Our Founding Fathers.The flaw is the depravity of fallen men makes those premises unenforcible. The scary thing about many of todays Dominionists is they are a more militant form of New Age. One symptom of this movement is Replacement Theology, an alternetve posture is Dual Covenant theology.Dominionist theology teaches that Jesus CAN'T come back til we take over the world for Him. Then, we will hand our kingdoms over to Him at Jesus return sometime during the Millenium.You only need read Revelation to see what Jesus will find at His return.Dominionists are playing both sides of the fence to ensure their take over under different names.Leaving the sincere Jesus following Christian asking the question of who to vote for. My only answer is pray, then pray more. Listen to what candidates says, then sort it out in prayer.Pray for today's President and rulers, pray for your President and rulers in 2013. Men with the best intententions, but, not Jesus guidance are gauranteed to fail. God bless you all, Mark David Madden