IS DOMINION THEOLOGY SCRIPTURAL?
The 1992 General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, passed resolution calling for a paper on Dominion Theology. In accordance with the resolution the General Board has adopted the paper printed after the resolution, entitled “AA Response to Dominion Theology.”
Recent years have seen the rise of an eschatological viewpoint which suggests that the church is destined to exercise dominion over the world’s social, cultural, and political systems. It envisions Christians in control of governmental and financial empires, setting God’s laws in force over them. According to adherents, this would represent the establishing of the kingdom of God on the earth, having “taken dominion” over that which Adam lost in the Fall. When the world’s systems are brought under Christian domination, then the Lord will return and rule over it all. The doctrine is commonly known as “Kingdom Now” or “Dominion Theology.”
This philosophy was propagated by the Reconstructionists until a few years ago, but has recently attained popularity among Charismatics and Third Wave proponents who believe it will be put into effect through certain spiritual warfare maneuvers.
This theory dramatically affects the traditional eschatological position of classical Pentecostals, particularly the United Pentecostal Church International, and presents a disturbing challenge to the church of the end time. Therefore, we urge the following resolution be adopted by the 1992 General Conference of the UPCI in Salt Lake City:
WHEREAS, the doctrine popularly known as “Kingdom Now/Dominion Theology” has made inroads into Pentecostalism worldwide, including classical movements such as our own, and
WHEREAS, acceptance of this theory would destroy biblical eschatology as we United Pentecostals view it, particularly the imminent return of Christ, and
WHEREAS, other classical Pentecostal denominations and groups have already taken a strong stand against the encroachment of this doctrine, and
WHEREAS, it encompasses and relates to other theories, practices, and doctrines which are foreign to the Bible and detrimental to the body of Christ,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the General Board of the United Pentecostal Church International be directed to examine this doctrine and its impact on the Church, and issue a paper on the subject, mailing it to all of our ministers by April 30, 1993.
A Response to Dominion Theology
In recent years a viewpoint commonly known as Dominion Theology has gained some acceptance within various strands of Christendom. It is represented by two wings, which have interacted and some-times made an informal alliance.
First, there are the Reconstructionists, who emphasize that the church’s goal is to establish the kingdom of God on earth by taking control of political, economic, and cultural institutions, and they advocate the imposition of Old Testament civil law upon contemporary society. The Reconstructionists are postmillennial Calvinists.
Second, there are the Kingdom Now charismatics, who adopt much of the same philosophy and rhetoric but emphasize spiritual means to accomplish this goal. They commonly advocate the role of authoritative leaders and various techniques of spiritual warfare.
Adherents of Dominion Theology typically employ and redefine terminology that is commonly accepted in Pentecostal ranks. Consequently, not everyone who uses the characteristic terms of Dominion Theology actually embraces its doctrines. Often these terms are used unwittingly. Moreover, some people embrace some aspects of Dominion Theology without adopting the entire system.
Dominion Theology is widespread in the charismatic movement. Major Trinitarian Pentecostal organizations have rejected it, and it does not have a significant following within Oneness Pentecostal organizations either. Nevertheless, it is important for us to have an awareness of this teaching and to be alert to its subtle influences.
This paper is not a definitive or exhaustive study of Dominion Theology, but it addresses some important issues raised by this teaching.
Characteristics of Dominion Theology
The fundamental tenets and characteristics of Dominion Theology are as follows:
1. The basic premise is that Satan gained dominion over the
earth when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. Now the church’s mission is to regain dominion from Satan so that Christ can return to rule on earth.
2. Dominion Theology defines the church’s hope to be the establishment of an earthly kingdom instead of the second coming of Christ. Under this view, Christ cannot come back until the church first establishes the millennial kingdom. This kingdom is not simply the rule of God in the hearts of people, but it is to be political, social, and visible. The great commission is redefined: instead of the primary goal being personal evangelism, the church’s mission is to gain control of the world, institution by institution and nation by nation.
3. Instead of using a literal interpretation of the Bible, Dominion Theology often employs an allegorical, symbolic, spiritualizing interpretation of Scripture, particularly prophetic passages.
4. It often substitutes Old Testament laws, promises, and covenants for New Testament promises and practices. In so doing, it displaces the New Testament plan of salvation and way of worship, and it confuses the New Testament church with national Israel.
5. It leads humans to usurp the sovereign authority of Christ. As a result, people often assume they have the power to command God, and they accept the glory and honor that belong to Christ.
The following quotation from The Handwriting on the Wall by Earl Paulk, the most prominent advocate of Dominion Theology within the charismatic movement, expresses the central idea of this theology:
Some of the strongest fundamental churches still preach that Christ will return to gather national Israel unto Himself, and I say that is deception and will keep the Kingdom of God from coming to pass! Likewise, those who are waiting for Christ to catch a few people away so God can judge the world are waiting in vain!
Jesus Christ has now done all He can do, and He waits at the right hand of His Father, until you and I as sons of God, become manifest and make this world His footstool. He is waiting for us to say, “Jesus, we have made the kingdoms of this world the Kingdom of our God, and we are ruling and reigning in Your world. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
Contrast to Biblical Teaching
Dominion Theology is incompatible with scriptural teaching on a number of points including the following:
1. It does not uphold the biblical doctrine of the Rapture (I Thessalonians 4:13-18; Titus 2:13).
2. It does not uphold the biblical doctrine of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-6). Instead of the scriptural view that Jesus Christ will come to earth to establish an earthly kingdom of a thousand years (premillennialism), its adherents advocate that Jesus Christ will not come until after the church establishes an earthly kingdom (a form of postmillennialism).
3. It does not uphold the uniqueness of the new covenant as the replacement of the old covenant (II Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 8:6-13).
4. It does not give biblical emphasis to the sinfulness of human nature (Romans 3:10-12). Its adherents’ mistaken optimism regarding the nature of humans and human institutions leads them to assume that Christians can take dominion of the earth and rule it before the return of Christ.
5. It contradicts biblical teachings on humility, patience, faith in God, the finished work of Calvary, and the preeminence of Christ (Romans 12:1-3, 16; I Corinthians 2:1-5; II Corinthians 4:7; Colossians 2:1-23). Thus it mistakenly focuses on human abilities and techniques. While the Bible reveals that we are in a spiritual warfare, it does not teach the type of techniques that are often propounded under Dominion Theology. While the Bible teaches that we have victory over the devil, it puts the focus of our faith upon the sovereignty of God and the efficacy of the Cross, not upon human authority (Acts 3:14-16).
Dangers of Dominion Theology
We can identify a number of dangers that have arisen and can be expected to arise from an advocacy of these views:
1. Dominion Theology destroys the Christian’s hope in the imminent return of Christ and removes this important incentive for godly living.
2. It diverts the church from its mission of evangelism.
3. It promotes the creation of a spiritual elite, including authoritative prophets and teachers who have special keys for obtaining dominion.
4. It replaces biblical doctrine and lifestyle as the basis for unity and fellowship.
5. It raises false expectations regarding the reality of living in this present evil world.
6. It engenders faith in faith and in human leaders rather than in God and His Word.
7. It leads to false interpretations of Scripture and opens the door for further deception.
8. It fosters unchristian attitudes of arrogance and pride.
9. It emphasizes the use of specific forms, formulas, and strategies for spiritual warfare instead of the basic principles of humility, biblical truth, and faith in God.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FORWARD MAGAZINE, APRIL-JUNE, 1993, PAGES 15,16. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.