According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson
We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord
Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Dominianism and the Christian Right



Dominianism and the Christian Right

We've all have heard that the greatest sin is that of pride. I would like to add a corollary to this thought... that underneath pride one will always find man's legalistic and self-righteous sinful nature. According to the philosopher "Man is impaired" but that impairment is undergirded by man's legalism. Which is another way of saying that man refuses a Savior in preference to becoming his own savior. This is what legalism is. It refuses to admit any sense of impairment, always seeking to justify itself, and never falls down on its knees in penitence and repentance to the only Savior God of the universe who is truest Redeemer, Lord, and King.

Secondly, building from the legalism of man to the Christian positional theologies of Dominianism, Christian Reconstruction, and Kingdom Theocracy mandated in Secular Societies, it can be seen how personal implacableness may quickly drive across group-based legalisms of religious activity. Although good intentions abound with the line of thought of obeying God in all things it quickly breaks down from grace-based ministries and speech to conditional actions and policies.

How? I find these to be driven by popularly accepted group/religious judgments based upon subjective judgments gleaned from selective biblical text appropriation and enforcement resulting in harsh, unforgiving, uncompassionate Christian mindsets. Christian missiology then becomes conflicted and made incongruous with Divine actions of grace and mercy as exampled by God's-Self through the personage of Jesus to be supplanted by ecclesiastical actions of forced contrition, superficial religious displays of worship, and adherence to culturally perceived rules of devoutness.

When politicized, as it most often does, and integrated with state laws, it creates social policies which lean towards statuary exactness, social injustice, and group blindness to those in deepest need of help and mercy. Ultimately, God is reverenced as Judge and Ruler rather than as Gracious Savior and Merciful Lord. It leads out with judgment over grace confusing the grace of God with the holiness of God believing grace is always secondary to God's nature. However the bible teaches again and again - and especially through Jesus - that God is first-and-foremost graceful in all His thoughts and actions meted out across creation - including that of the kingdoms of man in all their confusion and misrepresentation of His nature of Grace and Mercy.

It is a paradox then to state that all nations are godless without God when finding nations "submitted" to God to be in the same state of godlessness but in a different sense, a religious sense. Here, between both worlds there can be no "balancing of secular godlessness with legalistic godlessness". Both are the same but from different directions. Both are in need of a deep submission of the human spirit to apprehend the Spirit of God through contrition and repentance at all times. Of preferencing others over oneself. Of being personally committed to neighborly love and compassion, diplomacy, and social justice undergirded by grance and mercy. This must also be said of all secular institutions, church organizations, governments, clans, tribes, families, and even our ourselves, not withstanding. There can be no "theocracy" without god-ful grace and love, god-ful mercy and forgiveness. No "dominion" worthy of His Divine Self, no "reconstruction" without a foundation built upon grace, no "kingdom" of God without the removal of the unworthy legalistic kingdom of man. To lead the way God has given the responsibility to His church, the Bride of Christ, to first-and-foremost example the way of Jesus ahead of all others. Amen.

R.E. Slater
January 3, 2019








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Dominion theology
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Dominion theology (also known as dominionism) is a group of Christian political ideologies that seek to institute a nation governed by Christians based on their personal understandings of biblical law. Extents of rule and ways of achieving governing authority are varied. For example, dominion theology can include theonomy, but does not necessarily involve advocating Mosaic law as the basis of government. The label is applied primarily toward groups of Christians in the United States.
Prominent adherents of these ideologies are otherwise theologically diverse, including Calvinist Christian reconstructionismRoman Catholic IntegralismCharismatic/Pentecostal Kingdom Now theologyNew Apostolic Reformation, and others. Most of the contemporary movements labeled dominion theology arose in the 1970s from religious movements asserting aspects of Christian nationalism.
Some have applied the term dominionist more broadly to the whole Christian right. This usage is controversial. There are concerns from members of these communities that this is a label being used to marginalize Christians from public discourse. Others[who?] argue this allegation can be difficult to sympathize with considering the political power already held by these groups and on account of the often verbally blatant intention of these groups to influence the political, social, financial, and cultural spectrums of society for a specific religion, often at the expense of other marginalized groups.

Etymology

Dominion theology is a reference to the King James Bible's rendering of Genesis 1:28, the passage in which God grants humanity "dominion" over the Earth.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
In the late 1980s, several prominent evangelical authors[1][2][3][4] used the phrase dominion theology (and other terms such as dominionism) to label a loose grouping of theological movements that made direct appeals to this passage in Genesis.[5] Christians typically interpret this passage as meaning that God gave mankind responsibility over the Earth, but one of the distinctive aspects of Dominion Theology is that it is interpreted as a mandate for Christian stewardship in civil affairs, no less than in other human matters.[6]

Types

Christian reconstructionism

An example of dominionism in reformed theology is Christian reconstructionism, which originated with the teachings of R. J. Rushdoony in the 1960s and 1970s.[7] Rushdoony's theology focuses on theonomy(the rule of the Law of God), a belief that all of society should be ordered according to the laws that governed the Israelites in the Old Testament. His system is strongly Calvinistic, emphasizing the sovereignty of God over human freedom and action, and denying the operation of charismatic gifts in the present day (cessationism); both of these aspects are in direct opposition to Kingdom Now Theology.
Full adherents to reconstructionism are few and marginalized among most Christians.[8][9][10] Dave Hunt,[1] Albert James Dager [2] Hal Lindsey,[3] and Thomas Ice[4] specifically criticize Christian reconstructionism from a Christian viewpoint, disagreeing on theological grounds with its theocratic elements as well as its Calvinism and postmillennialismJ. Ligon Duncan,[11] Sherman Isbell,[12] Vern Poythress,[13] Robert Godfrey,[14] and Sinclair Ferguson[15] analyze reconstructionism as conservative Calvinists, primarily giving a theological critique of its theocratic elements. Michael J. McVicar has noted that many leading Christian reconstructionists are also leading writers in paleolibertarian circles.[16]
Some social scientists have used the word dominionism to refer to adherence to Christian reconstructionism.[17][18][19]

Integralism

Catholic Integralism has been characterized as a form of dominionist theology.[20] Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa have stated that Catholic Integralists have entered into a non-traditional ecumenicalalliance with Protestant reconstructionists who share "the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere".[21][22] Likewise, in the National Catholic Reporter, Joshua J. McElwee stated that Catholic Integralists, along with their Protestant counterparts, wish to achieve the goal of establishing a "theocratic type of state".[23]

Kingdom Now theology

Kingdom Now theology is a branch of Dominion Theology which has had a following within Pentecostalism. It attracted attention in the late 1980s.[24][25]
Kingdom Now theology states that although Satan has been in control of the world since the Fall, God is looking for people who will help him take back dominion. Those who yield themselves to the authority of God's apostles and prophets will take control of the kingdoms of this world, being defined as all social institutions, the "kingdom" of education, the "kingdom" of science, the "kingdom" of the arts, etc.[26] C. Peter Wagner, the founder of the New Apostolic Reformation, writes: "The practical theology that best builds a foundation under social transformation is dominion theology, sometimes called 'Kingdom Now'. Its history can be traced back through R. J. Rushdoony and Abraham Kuyper to John Calvin."[27]
Kingdom Now theology is influenced by the Latter Rain movement,[28] and critics have connected it to the New Apostolic Reformation,[29] "Spiritual Warfare Christianity,"[28] and Fivefold ministry thinking.[30]
Kingdom Now theology should not be confused with Kingdom theology, which is related to inaugurated eschatology.

Dominionism and the Christian right

In the late 1980s sociologist Sara Diamond[31][32] began writing about the intersection of dominion theology with the political activists of the Christian right. Diamond argued that "the primary importance of the [Christian reconstructionist] ideology is its role as a catalyst for what is loosely called 'dominion theology'". According to Diamond, "Largely through the impact of Rushdoony's and North's writings, the concept that Christians are Biblically mandated to 'occupy' all secular institutions has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right"[31]:138 (emphasis in original) in the United States.
While acknowledging the small number of actual adherents, authors such as Diamond and Frederick Clarkson have argued that postmillennial Christian reconstructionism played a major role in pushing the primarily premillennial Christian right to adopt a more aggressive dominionist stance.[33]
Misztal and Shupe concur that "Reconstructionists have many more sympathizers who fall somewhere within the dominionist framework, but who are not card-carrying members".[34] According to Diamond, "Reconstructionism is the most intellectually grounded, though esoteric, brand of dominion theology".[33]
Journalist Frederick Clarkson[35][36] defined dominionism as a movement that, while including dominion theology and reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian right in the United States.
In his 1992 study of dominion theology and its influence on the Christian right, Bruce Barron writes,
In the context of American evangelical efforts to penetrate and transform public life, the distinguishing mark of a dominionist is a commitment to defining and carrying out an approach to building society that is self-consciously defined as exclusively Christian, and dependent specifically on the work of Christians, rather than based on a broader consensus.[37]
In 1995, Diamond called the influence of dominion theology "prevalent on the Christian Right".[38]
Journalist Chip Berlet added in 1998 that, although they represent different theological and political ideas, dominionists assert a Christian duty to take "control of a sinful secular society".[39]
In 2005, Clarkson enumerated the following characteristics shared by all forms of dominionism:[40]
  1. Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenmentroots of American democracy.
  2. Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity.
  3. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or "biblical law," should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.[40]
Essayist Katherine Yurica began using the term dominionism in her articles in 2004, beginning with "The Despoiling of America" (February 11, 2004),[41][42][43] Authors who also use the term dominionism in the broader sense include journalist Chris Hedges [44][45][46] Marion Maddox,[47] James Rudin,[48] Michelle Goldberg,[49][50] Kevin Phillips,[51] Sam Harris,[52] Ryan Lizza,[53] Frank Schaeffer,[54] and the group TheocracyWatch.[55] Some authors have applied the term to a broader spectrum of people than have Diamond, Clarkson, and Berlet.
Sarah Posner in Salon argues that there are various "iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter ... government, law, media and so forth ... so that they are controlled by Christians". According to Posner, "Christian right figures promoted dominionism ... and the GOP courted ... religious leaders for the votes of their followers". She added: "If people really understood dominionism, they’d worry about it between election cycles."[56]
Michelle Goldberg notes[57] that George Grant wrote in his 1987 book The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action:
Christians have an obligation, a mandate, a commission, a holy responsibility to reclaim the land for Jesus Christ—to have dominion in civil structures, just as in every other aspect of life and godliness. ... But it is dominion we are after. Not just a voice. ... Christian politics has as its primary intent the conquest of the land—of men, families, institutions, bureaucracies, courts, and governments for the Kingdom of Christ.

A spectrum of dominionism

Writers including Chip Berlet[58] and Frederick Clarkson[40] distinguish between what they term "hard" and "soft" dominionism. Such commentators define "soft" dominionism as the belief that "America is a Christian nation" and opposition to separation of church and state, while "hard" dominionism refers to dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism.
Michelle Goldberg uses the terms Christian nationalism and dominionism for the former view.[49] According to Goldberg:
In many ways, Dominionism is more a political phenomenon than a theological one. It cuts across Christian denominations, from stern, austere sects to the signs-and-wonders culture of modern megachurches. Think of it like political Islamism, which shapes the activism of a number of antagonistic fundamentalist movements, from Sunni Wahabis in the Arab world to Shiite fundamentalists in Iran.[59]
Berlet and Clarkson have agreed that "[s]oft Dominionists are Christian nationalists".[58] Unlike "dominionism", the phrase "Christian nation" occurs commonly in the writings of leaders of the Christian right. Proponents of this idea (such as David Barton and D. James Kennedy) argue that the Founding Fathers of the United States were overwhelmingly Christian, that founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are based on Christian principles, and that a Christian character is fundamental to American culture.[60][61][62] They cite, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court's comment in 1892 that "this [the United States] is a Christian nation",[63] after citing numerous historical and legal arguments in support of that statement.[64][65]
Kennedy characterized his perspective on Christian political involvement as more akin to participatory democracy than to dominionism. In an interview with NPR's Terry Gross, Kennedy was asked whether he wanted all public office holders to be Christians. Kennedy answered, "We have people who are secular and humanist and unbelievers who are constantly supporting in every way possible other people who share those views. And I don't object to that. That's their privilege. And I think that Christians should be allowed the same privilege to vote for people whom they believe share their views about life and government. And that's all I'm talking about."[66]

Criticism of the usage of the term dominionism

Those labelled dominionists rarely use the terms dominionist and dominionism for self-description, and some people have attacked the use of such words.[5] Journalist and conservative comentator Anthony Williams, writing for Frontpage Magazine, charged that such usage aims "to smear the Republican Party as the party of domestic Theocracy, facts be damned".[67] Journalist and conservative commentator Stanley Kurtz, writing for the National Review, labeled it "conspiratorial nonsense", "political paranoia", and "guilt by association",[68] and decried Hedges' "vague characterizations" that allow him to "paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless 'Dominionist' Christian mass".[69] Kurtz also complained about a perceived link between average Christian evangelicals and extremism such as Christian reconstructionism:
The notion that conservative Christians want to reinstitute slavery and rule by genocide is not just crazy, it's downright dangerous. The most disturbing part of the Harper's cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside 'the old polite rules of democracy.' So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians—by any means necessary.[68]
Joe Carter of First Things writes:
[T]here is no "school of thought" known as "dominionism." The term was coined in the 1980s by Diamond and is never used outside liberal blogs and websites. No reputable scholars use the term for it is a meaningless neologism that Diamond concocted for her dissertation.[70]
Diamond has denied that she coined the broader sense of the term dominionism,[71] which appears in her dissertation and in Roads to Dominion solely to describe Dominion Theology. Nevertheless, Diamond did originate the idea that Dominion Theology is the "central unifying ideology for the Christian Right".[31]:138
Jeremy Pierce of First Things coined the word dominionismist to describe those who promote the idea that there is a dominionist conspiracy, writing:
It strikes me as irresponsible to lump [Rushdoony] together with Francis Schaeffer and those influenced by him, especially given Schaeffer's many recorded instances of resisting exactly the kinds of views Rushdoony developed. Indeed, it strikes me as an error of the magnitude of some of Rushdoony's own historical nonsense to consider there to be such a view called Dominionism [sic] that Rushdoony, Schaeffer, James Dobson, and all the other people in the list somehow share and that it seeks to get Christians and only Christians into all the influential positions in secular society.[72]
Lisa Miller of Newsweek writes that "'dominionism' is the paranoid mot du jour" and that "certain journalists use 'dominionist' the way some folks on Fox News use the word sharia. Its strangeness scares people. Without history or context, the word creates a siege mentality in which 'we' need to guard against 'them'."[73] Ross Douthat of The New York Times noted that "many of the people that writers like Diamond and others describe as 'dominionists' would disavow the label, many definitions of dominionism conflate several very different Christian political theologies, and there's a lively debate about whether the term is even useful at all."[74]
Other criticism has focused on the proper use of the term. Berlet wrote that "just because some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point does not mean we should abandon the term",[75] and argued that, rather than labeling conservatives as extremists, it would be better to "talk to these people" and "engage them".[76] Sara Diamond wrote that "[l]iberals' writing about the Christian Right's take-over plans has generally taken the form of conspiracy theory", and argued that instead one should "analyze the subtle ways" that ideas like Dominionism "take hold within movements and why".[38] Authors Robert Gagnon and Edith Humphrey argued strongly against the use of the term in reference to US presidential candidate Ted Cruz in a 2016 op-ed for Christianity Today.[77]