“Are Christians Supposed to Take Dominion?”
AUTHOR: Bowman, Robert M. Jr.
PUBLISHED ON: April 24, 2003

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“Are Christians Supposed to Take Dominion?” (an article from the
Christian Research Journal, Fall, 1988, page 31) by Robert M.
Bowman, Jr.
  The Editor-in-Chief of the Christian Research Journal is
Elliot Miller.


    Are Christians supposed to “take dominion” in the world
before Christ returns? Two growing movements within American
Christianity are saying Yes. The first is the Christian
Reconstruction movement, led by such men as Gary North and R.J.
Rushdoony. Based on the postmillennial view of prophecy
(according to which the church Christianizes the world as a
whole before Christ’s return), Reconstructionists call upon
Christians to prepare themselves to take over the world’s
institutions, including its governments, following the
conversion of the world’s people to Christ.

    The second group is popularly known as Kingdom Now, led by
such men as Earl Paulk and Thomas Reid. “Kingdom theology” urges
the church to become unified and mature under the rule of
charismatic apostles and prophets (such as Paulk), and penetrate
worldly institutions enough to “serve notice” that the church
represents the authority of Christ the King.

    The emphasis on the church’s taking “dominion” in both of
these movements has led to their being associated together under
the label “dominion theology.” And there are significant points
of contact and common notions held by the two groups. But there
are some even more important differences. The Reconstructionists
are orthodox Calvinists and are thus solidly evangelical, even
if many evangelicals will strongly disagree with
postmillennialism and other distinctive Reconstructionist
doctrines. Kingdom Now, on the other hand, brings together in
one package most of the unbiblical elements of the earlier
heretical perversions of Pentecostalism issuing from the “Latter
Rain” movement of the late 1940s.

    Thus, these two movements understand “taking dominion”
rather differently. The Reconstructionists envision a gradual,
pervasive transformation of human institutions in the wake of
worldwide conversion to orthodox Christianity. The Kingdom Now
prophets look for a brief display of the church’s power as the
basis for Christ condemning the unbelieving world for not
listening to the church’s gospel.

    One practical implication of these differences is that those
Reconstructionists and Kingdom Now followers who are seeking to
band together in a common effort to “take dominion” are misled.
The two movements are working for different goals.

    Nevertheless, convinced that “taking dominion” means
wresting control of our government away from the godless, and
that this is in fact Christ’s mandate to the church, both groups
are pursuing political power. They hope that Christians can take
sufficient control of things to set the agenda and course for
America into the next century.

    But are Christians supposed to be taking dominion at all?
Granted that there is some confusion among American Christians
as to what taking dominion would mean, is there a sense in which
this really is the mission of the church? A careful reading of
the Bible indicates otherwise. Simply put, _the Bible never
commands Christians to take dominion._ A search for such a
mandate proves fruitless. The Bible never even hints that this
is to be a responsibility of the church between Christ’s first
and second comings.

    It is often claimed that the Great Commission of Matthew
28:18-20 is a directive to fulfill the “Dominion Mandate” of
Genesis 1:28, in which God commanded man to subdue the earth
and have dominion. This claim does not bear close scrutiny of
the texts. In Genesis 1:28 God gives dominion over the animal
kingdom to man. In Matthew 28:18-20 Christ, after stating that
_He_ (not the church) has all authority in heaven and on earth
(v. 18), commands the church to make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them and teaching them (vv. 19-20). There is certainly
no explicit connection made in Matthew 28 between the Great
Commission and the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:28. Nor are the
commands to disciple, baptize, and teach somehow equivalent to
“take dominion.”

    Through the fulfillment of the Great Commission by the
church, Christ is exercising _His dominion_ over the earth in
calling men and women into the kingdom. And Christ is working
through the church to defeat sin and death through the preaching
of the gospel. In this sense the church plays a role in Christ’s
rule between His first and second comings (1 Cor. 15:24-28), but
it is indirect. It is Christ who rules, Christ who takes
dominion — not the church.

    The promise of an earthly dominion in which the redeemed
rule is biblical (Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5). However, whether one
interprets the earthly reign of the redeemed in a premillennial,
amillennial, or postmillennial fashion, this reign is not the
result of Christians struggling to take dominion over political
and economic institutions. Even in classic postmillennial
thought the Christianization of worldly institutions during the
Millennium will be a by-product of the success of the church’s
mission to make disciples of all peoples, not a result of a
direct attempt by the church to take over these institutions.

    I do not mean to imply that Christians should be politically
inactive, or that they should not seek political office. It is
certainly better for the righteous to rule than the wicked
(Prov. 29:2). Thus, while I disagree with the claim that the
church’s _mandate_ is to take dominion, I also disagree with
those who criticize any attempt to establish “the rule of the
righteous” (as television commentator Bill Moyers has put it).
My point is that the church’s main responsibility is evangelism
and discipleship, not political activism. Christians should
exercise righteous “dominion” when the opportunity presents
itself, and doing so does not require compromise with Christian
principles. But the church has no general mandate from Christ to
seek or achieve worldwide or even nationwide political dominion
before His return.


End of document, CRJ0024A.TXT (original CRI file name),
“Are Christians Supposed to Take Dominion?”
release A, February 7, 1994
R. Poll, CRI

(A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help
in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.)


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