The events that occurred on Capitol Hill in Washington DC last week brought out a lot of emotion. The chaos that has bled into this chapter of our democracy is a reminder of just how fragile democracy is. Any force used to overturn the outcome of a democratic election is not appropriate and could be considered treasonous. However, this writing is not about the riot or even about the political parties. This article is about the staggering number of pictures of Christian crosses and messages in the crowd that later became violent. This is not the first crowd with these signs but it is the most recent. Taking Jesus to a place where violence will occur seems strange to me, but it is not strange when you believe the country should be ruled by the Bible and not democracy. This marriage of Jesus and violence is found in one specific form of Christianity, Christian Dominionism.
What is Christian Dominionism?
To be fair to the title, Christian Dominionists have not, and do not call themselves by this name. It is a term that has been created by social scientists and made popular by writers and journalists that describes a subset of Christianity. This subset is not found in one denomination per se, but is a concept that crosses denominational lines, especially in the United States. Many have used the term to describe any conservative and politically active Christian. This is an unfair description, and just because someone is a Christian and conservative does not mean they are a Dominionist. Christian Dominionists believe specifically that God desires Christians to rise to power through the civil system in hopes that Gods word would govern the nation. The idea that the United States is a Christian nation is a form of “soft Dominionism”. But that idea has many times started people down the road to a hardline form of Dominionism that teaches the Bible, and God specifically desire the United States to become a Christian power in the world.
Is Christian Dominionism Biblical?
Dominion Theology takes its belief from an interpretation of Genesis 1:28;
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.””
To the Dominionist, this verse is the divine mandate to claim dominion over the earth in all senses; Spiritually, physically, and politically. The issue we must answer about the biblical validity of this verse is rooted in the context of the scripture in question. When we are discussing a book that is thousands of years old, we must also discuss the 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where and Why). The Dominionist takes many large steps away from the true intent of this verse because they are taking one verse out of one book and applying it to a current context. By doing this, the verse loses its inspiration and its original intent. Thus, the verse is hijacked for a current cause.
Who, What, When, Where, Why?
Who wrote Genesis?- Tradition credits Moses with the writing of Genesis as well as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and most of Deuteronomy. Although since the 19th Century the books have dated in the 5th or 6th Century BC.
What was the purpose of writing Genesis? Eugene Merrill, author of the book, Everlasting Dominion has stated the purpose of Genesis was to explain the might and power of God, to show Gods creative power. It also provides us with an understanding of our beginnings but it is important to point out, this text is not a science or history book, but an epoch of the beginnings of ourselves and the relationship we have with God.
When was Genesis Written- Most biblical scholars date Genesis at about 3400 years ago between 1450 and 1400 BC.
Where was Genesis Written- Genesis was written likely during the wandering in the wilderness in modern day Israel/Palestine.
Why was Genesis Written- The purpose of Genesis was to describe the beginnings, and to do so in a way that peoples of time would understand. The text was specifically written as the beginning story for the Jewish Nation and to describe that God worked outside of Israel. God wasn’t a local God but an infinite God of all creation.
Why Christian Dominionism is not Biblical
To say something is biblical or moral because it is simply in the Bible is a slippery slope. This attitude toward scripture has justified mass killing, slavery and occult practices. Furthermore, to take one verse and build an entire theology on it is sloppy theology and dangerous theology. If we investigate the context of this verse God is not giving political instruction. Politics were not in the concept we understand them today. What God has asked the first people to do is to have children. To not stay in the same place but to move all over the earth. taking care over the things which God has given us. Taking care is a far cry over domination. This text was written to people who lived in monarchies. They were being told the world was being left in their care, and they were to rule over it in a way that keeps it beautiful and clean. This is in no way describing a nation that should become biblical and dominate the world. We know this because the Bible as we understand it wasn’t compiled into a group until hundreds of years after Christ. But there is a grouping of verses that make clear the true desire of the Son Of God, John 18:36.
The Kingdom of God is not yet Found on Earth
Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” John 18:36
Jesus Himself declared that no nation, not even the chosen nation Israel would be the Kingdom of God. He makes the point that if it were His servants would fight for Him. The United States has never really fought to have equitable law, or an overall desire to love the neighbor. As a nation, like every other nation, it is concerned with itself and its own standing. For that reason alone, The United States, like every other nation, can never be the Kingdom of God on earth. Jesus makes clear His Kingdom is not yet on earth. And, when it does appear, it will be Jesus, not any President of the United States at the helm. The United States will never be able to get to the mark of a Christian nation. No nation on earth is capable. If it were then we would not need Jesus. Jesus did not come to earth to save nations; He came to save souls. Maybe we should take that onboard and look to repent and heal instead of conquer and divide. The Kingdom of Heaven is coming. But it is not going to be found in a political or religious entity, but in Christ Alone
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