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September 21, 2020

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Dominion Theology: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Movement

5 min read

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Part III on Dominion Theology

Continued from Part II: Theological Distinctives of the Movement

Strengths of Dominion Theology:

In many ways, the Christian Reconstructionist movement is similar to most conservative evangelical churches. The understanding of the unalterableness of God, for example, is essential, foundational awareness. The theology of regeneration is also standard, well grounded theology and critical to man’s relationship with God.

Theonomy, while not a standard doctrine, has comforted many Christians who are troubled by the state of our fallen society, giving them a promise of a calmer, saner world under Biblical standards. Chilton also explains Postmillennialism this way;

“before the Second Coming of Christ, the world will be successfully evangelized and discipled to Christianity…our view of the future is inescapably bound up with our view of Jesus Christ. The fact that Jesus is now King of kings and Lord of lords means that His Gospel must be victorious: The Holy Spirit will bring the water of life to the ends of the earth. The Christian message is one of Hope: Pentecost was just the beginning.”

Although the Assemblies of God denounced postmillennialism as heresy in response to Dominion Theology in 1988, many Christians from various corners still debate premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism and will probably continue to do so until Christ comes again. Postmillennialism is simply an area in which Christians must agree to disagree.

Weakness of Dominion Theology:

The normal translation of “πληρόω” is “fulfill” not “confirm,” and Scripture that teaches that Christians are no longer under the Law include Romans 6:14; 7:6; 8:2-4; and Galatians 3:24,25; 5:18. Also, while most Christian theologians see the purpose of regeneration to be for the Glorification of God, Theonomists believe it to be for the work of God’s dominion over all the earth.

Theonomists also don’t stick as close to literal translations as other Christian groups do. They see a system of patterns and associations within symbolic Biblical terms and state that the Bible is to be read “visually,” meaning to take a term used in the Bible and see it for not only what it is, but also what associations are made with it. When it comes to numbers, Theonomists are more likely to see them symbolically then literally as well. The numbers 40 and 1000, in particular, can simply mean periods of time rather than actual time.

However, in the matter of Biblical, Mosaic Law, Theonomists take Scripture quite literally.

Concerning the division of Mosaic Law into three parts: John Calvin was the first to divide Old Testament law this way. But he believed that the judicial law, which provided for fairness in the civil government of Israel, was for Israel alone. To Calvin, only the moral law was eternally applicable, but even so, its application might vary in case law from culture to culture. However, Scripture does not seem to break the law into three sections. Whenever the Law is mentioned, it seems to be in reference to the whole Law.
Some would say that either the believer has been released from the whole law (Rom. 7:4, 6) or none of it.

Most importantly, Reconstructionists confuse Mosaic Law with eternal law. It is not outward signs or ceremonial purity that insures our place with God; it is the inward circumcision of the heart. No one can uphold the law perfectly, but that doesn’t matter to God because He looks at the heart. Paul, a man fully regenerated and filled with the Holy Spirit, remarked in Acts 15:10 that the law had been too difficult for anyone to bear. If man was unable to keep the law during Old Testament times, how will man do it now?

Paul also says that the law was a learning tool to lead us to Christ, while the book of Acts indicates that Mosaic Law was not binding on Gentiles. The Apostles only required that Gentiles obey the instructions given by God to Noah (Acts 15:20). Would a theocracy then have two different sets of laws; one set for believers and another set, more relaxed, for non-believers?

Peter and Paul also very clearly considered the non-Christian Roman government as God’s instrument on earth. This was believed even during persecution. If the New Testament teaches that a non-Christian government can be part of God’s rule on the earth, then establishing a Christian Theocracy is not mandated in Scripture. Whether the State submits to God or not, God still rules.

Finally, history is filled with failed theocracies. Rome, London, Geneva, and Saxony, confused secular power with divine mandate. Because of the experience of history and the pain such governments had caused, our Forefathers wrote wording within the Constitution specifically meant to prevent state religion. While Reconstructionists advocate decentralization consisting of family, church, schools, and local government as a way to prevent the totalitarianism of previous governments, what could develop is a system of checkerboard law with punishments varying from community to community with the potential for dictatorship and unaccountable cruelty in any one community. If apostasy and idolatry are determined to be capitol crimes, as both Rushdoony and Bahnsen have said they would be, how would it be established which interpretation of Scripture determines apostasy? It was not outcasts who persecuted Polycarp, Hus or Wycliffe and crucified
Jesus, but religious leaders who claimed to be serving God.

A last thought concerns the State of Israel. While Reconstructionists do believe that individual Jews will be converted to Christ in the future, few of them believe that national Israel has a future. This theology has been termed by some as “replacement theology;” replacing Israel completely with the modern church. This is an area of divided thought among Christians. Some outside of the Christian church see it as anti-Semitism.

Conclusion

Does Dominion Theology offer a dangerous shift from “Gospel and the Kingdom of God” to “law and the kingdom of man?”

Dominion Theology is not a cult. It is a part of the conservative, evangelical movement occurring throughout society. However, while focusing on legalism, they are ignoring the sanctifying purpose and loving gift of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus has already done the work. All that is left to do is to abide in Him and listen to the Holy Spirit’s guiding direction. He will do the rest through us. There is nothing more than that.

Therefore, it is the opinion of this writer that Dominion Theology, in its focus toward man and law, does pose a dangerous shift of attention away from the Gospel of grace and the circumcision of the heart. There is also concern that large numbers of well-respected people have been seduced by faulty exegesis.

Bibliography

Smith, David L. A Handbook of Contemporary Theology: Tracing trends & Discerning
Directions in Today’s Theological Landscape. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992.

Economics America, Inc. The Right Guide. 4th ed. Ed. Derk Arend Wilcox. Ann Arbor:
Economics America, Inc. 2000.

Biblical Discernment Ministries. Dominion Theology/Kingdom Now/Reconstructionism
Blessing or Curse? Valparaiso, Indiana. 1997. Online. 12 April, 2005.
http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/cor/dominion.htm

Peterson, Jefferis Kent. Reconstructionist Theology – A Flaw in the Foundation of Dominion
Theology. 2004. Online. 12 April, 2005. .

David Chilton. Paradise Restored; a Biblical Theology of Dominion. ICE free Books, 1996.
Online. 13 April, 2005. <http: 21de_47e
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