I don’t move in circles where dominion theology is at work, but many today are deeply concerned about the rise of dominion theology – or Christian Reconstructionism – and one such person is Paul C. McGlasson and he has written No! A Theological Response to Christian Reconstructionism to describe it and respond to it – with finesse, charity and clarity.
Are you seeing dominion theology? Where? Are you concerned? What do you think is the best response to dominion theology? But this leads to this: What is the difference between dominion theology and Jesus’ vision of a theocratic kingdom (Kingdom of “God”)?
So what is it? McGlasson sees four major themes at work in dominion theology, but perhaps I should mention that he sees Rick Perry (I presume Michelle Bachmann) as an instance of this set of beliefs; he sees C. Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation as another example. The major theologian at work is Rushdoony, and McGlasson thinks there is a widespread embrace of Rushdoony and dominion theology in the homeschooling movement. Again, our question: What is it?
First, dominion theology operates with epistemological dualism. Only those who already presuppose the Bible’s truth are capable of understanding it; so there is no common ground between the Christian and the non-Christian. [As a late college student and seminary student I read some Van Til; this stuff is connected to Van Til by McGlasson.] It’s all about God’s self-defined reality or human autonomy: no middle ground. The Bible vs. Kant. Bible vs. Science. Submission to God or compromise. The truly biblical person, the spiritual person, submits; the fleshly, secularist, autonomous individual reasons himself/herself, which is a sign of non-submission.
Second, dominion theology is all about a direct application of Mosaic law to our society. The law of Moses contains abstract and moral principles, and should be applied to our society. It is for all of society, not just ancient Israel or for modern Christians. Rushdoony thinks Luther, Calvin … all the way to FF Bruce are antinomian in rejecting the mosaic law. The issue here is the relation of the Law of Moses to Christian ethics, from Jesus and the apostles into our world today.
Third, dominion theology holds a logic of totals so that the drive is to create cultural Christianity. Christianity creates an all-embracing, all-encompassing worldview as a form of national renewal. It seeks to create a complete Christian culture: government, schools, families … everywhere. It is believed by many that at one time Christian was the culture but is now in a battle to find justification in our world. The problem is secular humanism. The best example here is Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto. It fired up the Moral Majority and the Religious Right in different ways.
Fourth, the aim of dominion theology is Christian political domination (Gary North, Gary DeMar). With humans cut into believers and unbelievers, following the mosaic law or secular law, and the mandate to shape all of culture — call this theocracy at some level — the aim of the Christian is evangelism of all. God’s call is to establish dominion in this world through the Christian. The means is confrontation not consensus.