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September 26, 2020

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Dominion Theology: Theological Distinctives of the Movement

4 min read

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Part II on Dominion Theology

Continued from Part I: Introduction to Dominion Theology

Three basic concepts held by Dominionists are:
1. the unalterableness of God,
2. God’s Character as perfectly reflected in His law, and
3. because of the first two concepts, God’s laws are eternal and are binding on all peoples of all times.

Along with these three concepts are three foundational doctrines within Dominion Theology:
1. Personal Regeneration,
2. the application of Biblical law to all areas of life (theonomy), and
3. The advance of the already present kingdom of God in history (postmillennialism).

Dominionism and Theonomy

Christian Reconstructionists believe all the basic doctrinal truths of the Christian faith, including inerrancy of the Bible, personal regeneration, and the truth of heaven and hell and that Old Testament Israel, according to Paul in the book of Romans, has been replaced with the modern Church of Jesus Christ. Thus, the Church has taken over the covenant promises God made to Israel.

But Theonomists also see the New Testament clearly showing that the Word of God, “all Scripture,” should be legally applied to all areas of life and God intended for government is to be a theocracy. By theocracy, it is meant that God would govern the nation through the moral and legal code already revealed in the laws of the Bible. The legal code referred to by Apostle Paul in the New Testament was the Old Testament, Mosaic Law alone because the New Testament hadn’t yet been complied, but does not include the Mosaic ceremonial law.

The Mosaic Law has been divided into three parts: moral, ceremonial and judicial. The ceremonial law foreshadowed Christ and was fulfilled by Christ’s death and resurrection while both the moral and civil parts of the law as still relevant. Therefore, Reconstructionists believe that Christians are obligated to keep Old Testament law, with the exception of that which the New Testament clearly cancels, such as with the sacrificial system.

It is also believed that civil servants are required to be God’s ministers just as much as priests and pastors. This concept is based on an understanding of Romans 13:1-4. Matthew 5:17-19, concerning Christ’s intention for the law, is also a foundational scripture. Bahnsen believed that the word “πληρόω” in Matt. 5:17-19 is best translated “confirm” rather than fulfill, and thus Jesus’ statement really means that he is here to restore the Mosaic Law. Bahnsen uses the word “theonomy” and defines it as the responsibility of the Christian to “keep the whole law of God as a pattern for sanctification, and that this law is to be enforced by the civil magistrate where and how the stipulations of God so designate.”

Rushdoony agrees, stating that apart from Biblical law no standard of law exists. Fallen creation is incapable of forming a moral code to govern the nations. Supporting Scripture includes Gen. 1:28, where God commands Adam to subdue the earth. However, because Adam lost his ability to do so as a result of sin, Theonomists believe the church needs to now reclaim from Satan what Adam had lost.

Finally, because the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) commands the followers of Christ to disciple all the nations, Theonomists believe that along with personal salvation and sanctification, the legal and political reformation of society is necessary. Their goal, therefore, is to establish a theocracy by a democratic action in the United States and all nations. Government would be decentralized and would not administer business, education, or social welfare any longer. Society would also be patriarchal with strong property rights. To aid the poor, voluntary slavery would be allowed along with gleaning on private farms after harvest. According to Rushdoony, crimes such as robbery, embezzlement and vandalism would require restitution and indentured servitude. Crimes such as homosexuality, abortion, heresy, blasphemy and adultery would receive the death penalty. Christian Reconstructionists expect that with faithful application of the law, God will bless the nation.

Postmillennialism and Regeneration

Just as many other conservative Christians, Dominionists know the Kingdom of God is already here, growing, and on course to fulfillment. But the Kingdom won’t be complete until every nation is under God’s law and can only be entered in to through individual regeneration. Christians are now living in the Kingdom of God as Sons and Daughters of the Lord, while non-Christians are living in it as rebels. With Romans 8:3-4 in mind, Theonomists know that society can not be transformed until individuals within it are transformed. In order for people to have the will to change, evangelism is necessary. Regeneration is a process of God’s work in us and can not be completed through politics or war. Thus, regeneration of the individual is very important. Just as mainline Christians, Theonomists believe that regeneration, or being “born again,” restores a person to his original purpose in God and works toward the reestablishment of His dominion over all the earth. This was the reason for God creating man in His image. According to Rushdoony, “the key to remedying the situation is not revolution…the key is regeneration, propagation of the Gospel, and the conversion of men and nations to God’s law-word.” When this happens, Christ will return.

Dominionists, therefore, are also postmillennial, believing we are already experiencing the Millennium. The Millennium began when Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:5). Christ was enthroned in heaven at his Ascension (Acts 2:30-36). During this time of utopia before Christ’s Second Coming, believers are to reclaim nations for Christ, beginning with the United States.

Part III – Strengths and Weaknesses of the Movement

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