There has been a movement about that has cast a long shadow for its size. It is known by different names such as reconstructionism, kingdom theology, theonomy, and dominion theology, and it is a curious blend of Reformed/Calvinist theology and Charismatic influence.
While there are relatively few who would call themselves reconstructionists, a number of the movement’s ideas have infiltrated the thinking and actions of many believers, often without them knowing it. The movement is led by such theologians as Rousas J. Rusdoony; Gary North; Ray Sutton; Greg Bahnsen; David Chiltion, and by Charismatic leaders such as Earl Paulk. But their ideas are often reflected by non-reconstructionists such as Pat Robertson, John Whitehead, Franky Schaeffer, and even Jerry Falwell.
Dominion theology (the belief-system behind the reconstructionist movement) teaches that through the coming of Christ the believer has dominion over every area of life. We are now in the Kingdom of God (note the similar view of the Kingdom that the Vineyard movement takes, as well as the plethora of Christian songs being written implying that we are in the Kingdom at the present time) and as a result we should be reigning with Christ over the earth as Revelation 5:10 says. The question is when will we reign?
If the Kingdom is on earth now then we should have dominion now! Right? Don’t many of us proclaim this thought when we sing the popular Charismatic song “Majesty” which invites us to, “Come glorify Christ Jesus, the King,” after all, “Kingdom authority flows from His throne unto His own.” With this authority from the King we are to reclaim the earth for Christ, not just spiritually, but socially, economically (it is no accident that one of the reconstructionist’s organizations is called, The Institute for Christian Economics) and politically. The dominion of the earth is accomplished not only through prayer and evangelism, but through the political process, and social reformation. Christ will not return to earth until the church has accomplished this task.
More specifically, what does Dominion Theology teach? Here are the highlights:
A central piece of Dominion Theology is its belief in covenant theology. As a result it makes no distinction between the church and Israel. However Dominion Theology goes beyond traditional covenant theology and teaches that the church is to be governed by the same laws, is subject to the same curses, and is promised the same blessings as Israel. Dominion Theology teaches a high level of social and political activism. If the Kingdom of God is to gradually take dominion over the earth, it only makes sense that Christians should be attempting to change society through the changing of laws and through social action.
Followers of Dominion Theology, like many Charismatics, especially the Latter Rain movement, looks for a great end time revival in which the masses will turn to Christ. As a result Dominion followers do not believe in the Rapture. They teach and believe that world should be, and is becoming, a better place through the efforts of Christians.
As with many others who follow the teachings of George Ladd, Domionists believe that we are in the Kingdom age, but the Kingdom in another sense is yet to come. We are in the Kingdom, and have Kingdom authority, but on the other hand, we are ushering in the Kingdom through our efforts. “The Kingdom is now, but not yet,” is a popular slogan.
Dominion Theology is postmillennial. It is believed that as a result of the reconstruction of society by biblical principles that the final aspect of the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. Christ cannot return until a certain amount of dominion is achieved by the church. It is believed that the curse will slowly be removed as the world is won over. Even disease and death will be all but eliminated before Christ returns to the earth.
Dominion Theology is preterist in its interpretation of prophecy. This means that they teach that virtually all prophecies which most Christians believe are still future, have in fact been fulfilled already, mainly between the years A.D. 30 and 70. In David Chilton’s book, Days of Vengeance he says that the book of Revelation , “Is not about the Second Coming of Christ. It is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over His enemies” (during the first century, p. 43).
Dominion Theolgy uses an allegorical hermeneutic, especially in reference to prophecy. So we find that the Great Tribulation took place at the fall of Israel in A.D. 70; the Antichrist refers to the apostasy of the church prior to the fall of Jerusalem; the Beast of Revelation was Nero and the Roman Empire, etc.
What negative effects are the teachings of Dominion Theology having on evangelical Christianity today.
Reconstructionists teach that the mission of the church goes beyond the spiritual transformation of individuals to a mandate to change society. For Christ to be pleased with Christians they must become political and social activists. We must change the laws of the land, gear up to elect Christians to office, and generally seek to take dominion over our world and bring it under the Law of Moses.
We see the influence of this thinking even in those who may know little about Dominion Theology: James Dobson, Larry Burkett, The Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, Promise Keepers, Charles Colson and the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document, Operation Rescue, are but a few of the evidences that reconstructionist thinking is beginning to dominate the evangelical world.
Motivation for godly living, based upon the blessed hope: the return of Christ (Titus 2:16), is replaced with the task of restructuring society. This is a task that may take thousands of years, even by the Dominionists own admissions. But realistically this could never and will never happen. This theory is completely unsupported biblically, when the proper hermeneutical principles are applied.
If we are in the Kingdom of God now then the Charismatics are right to teach that health and prosperity is the right of believers today. This is why “Reconstruction” Calvinists and “Kingdom Now” Charismatics have formed at least a loose unity — they both have the same world view. Sadly, they are not looking for Christ to return and set up His Kingdom, they are attempting to set it up for Him.