Does Dominion Theology, which has been called both a rescue for our deteriorating society and a false system of prophecy, offer a valid perspective on eschatology, or does it offer a dangerous shift from “Gospel and the Kingdom of God” to “Law and the kingdom of man?”
Dominion Theology embraces many of the same teachings of most conservative evangelical groups that hold the Bible to be inerrant. However, it also holds to some unique teachings. For example, it promotes an approach concerning God’s law that is radically different from that of the majority of conservative Christians.
Dominion Theology separates itself by calling for all civil laws to be based upon Biblical Principles. According to author David Smith, “Increasing numbers, however, are entering the movement, seeing it as a means of reestablishing the greatness and former glory of the Christian Faith, and even ushering in the kingdom of God in the here and now.”
HISTORY OF THE MOVEMENT
Dominion Theology, also called “the Christian Reconstructionist Movement” and “Kingdom Now Theology,” began to take root in the 1960’s. Promoting a doctrine called “Theonomy,” the growth of Dominion theology was aided by the ever apparent deterioration of American society. The movement promises that by returning to Mosaic Law, society will return to Christian morality, decency and security. By 1973, dominion theory was gaining ground among intellectuals. It was at this time that the late Rousas John Rushdoony, known as the “father of Christian Reconstructionism, published his book, “The Institutes on Biblical Law,”
LEADING FIGURES IN THE MOVEMENT
R.J. Rushdoony, born in New York in 1916 to Armenian immigrants, stated that he came from an unbroken line of pastors all the way back to the 4th century. Well educated, he worked as a missionary before pastoring a series of Presbyterian churches. He then founded the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965 to promote a new “Christian Reconstructionism.” Later referred to as a “think tank of the extreme religious right,” the institute was named after the Council of Chalcedon of 451 AD, where Jesus Christ was affirmed “Lord over all” and it was taught that “all earthly power must conform to the Word of God.”
Rushdoony believed that the authority of human institutions was thus limited. Founding documents of his organization include the statement,
“All laws should be based on Biblical law and that Christ will not return until ‘the Holy Spirit has empowered the church to advance Christ’s Kingdom in time and history.‘”
In 1973, after having written about 30 other books on Theology, Rushdoony wrote “The Institutes on Biblical Law.” Contained within two volumes and 900 pages was the first book related to Dominion Theology, or “Theonomy” (God-law).
Rushdoony and Chalcedon have been very influential within certain circles. Rushdoony influenced former presidential candidate Howard Phillips of the Conservative Caucus and US Taxpayers Party to convert from Judaism. He has also worked with the Council for National Policy and the Conservative Caucus, (which is also chaired by Howard Phillips.)
Greg Bahnsen, another famous Theonomist, began reading Rushdoony’s books when he was young. He earned his Masters of Divinity and Theology and later, in 1977, published a book called “Theonomy in Christian Ethics.” In it he taught that Mosaic Law should be applied to all of life. The book was so controversial that it caused him to lose his position at the Reformed Seminary in which he was teaching.
Gary North, Rushdoony’s son-in-law, assisted Rushdoony with editing the “Journal of Christian Reconstruction” from 1974 until the two had an argument in 1981. He then moved to Tyler, Texas, and founded the “Institute for Christian Economics (ICE).” Formed for the purpose of “Publishing Christian, free-market economics, educational materials, newsletters and books,” ICE believes that
“decentralized free-market economics are Biblically ordained” and that “Christianity is innately decentralist,” stating, “From the beginning orthodox Christians have denied the divinity of the state…they denied the operating presupposition of the ancient world, namely, the legitimacy of a divine rule or divine State.”
North has written quite a few publications through the years concerning Dominion Theology.
Other influential figures include David Chilton, Gary DeMar, Joseph Kickasola and Ray Sutton. David Chilton advanced the Dominion theory of Biblical Prophecy through his books, “Paradise Restored” in 1985 and “Days of Vengeance” in 1987. Gary DeMar was a student of Bahnsen’s at the Reformed Seminary. He was later the director of the Institute of Christian Government in Atlanta, Georgia. He has authored several books and led seminars on God and Government. Joseph Kickasola was a professor of international studies and Hebrew at Regent University. Ray Sutton was an Episcopal priest. His book, “That You May Prosper,” is considered a classical Dominion view on Biblical covenants.