“What is Dominionism” – Used with permission from the author, Leah Burton.
Think of this word as a big umbrella. Under the umbrella of Political Dominionism are numerous “franchises” or sects of radical Christian belief whose goal it is to take “dominion” over all things secular. They may have differing theological beliefs, but at the core they have a common goal of inserting biblical law into American government. They falsely spin their message that America is a Christian Nation and that only those who believe as they do should be at the helm, because after all, they know what is best for us. Putting it VERY simply…
“Defined in its simplest form, Christian Dominionism is a political approach to Christian faith based on a literal interpretation of Genesis Chapter 1 verses 26 – 28 of the Christian Bible. Believers perceive themselves as the “chosen” or the “elect”, commanded by God to “subdue” the earth and “have dominion” over all living creatures.
The goal of Christian Dominionism in the United States is to abolish Separation of Church and State, establishing it as a distinctively Christian Nation based upon Old Testament Mosaic Law.
Dominionism is an umbrella term that harbors many divergent franchise groups claiming a foundation in Christianity”.
Simple? Yes. But it explain who they are in terms we can understand. They represent a minority of those who call themselves Christian and taint mainstream Christians with their extremism.
All Christians are NOT Dominionists ~ But ~ All Dominionists CLAIM Christianity
It is a growing movement supported by political Christians who teach that America is a nation built on a singular religion, Christianity – and all citizens are to be subject to laws and rules that are in accordance with their Dominionist version of reality.
I speak of political Dominionism everyday and how this extreme version of Christianity has co-opted conservative politics in America. The most frequent question I am asked is, “What is it?”Followed by, “I’ve never heard of it before, why?” Many have written about Dominionism across the internet over the past couple of decades including scholars, journalists and researchers who do a stellar job of putting this all in perspective for those who are seeking answers to just what this Movement is. We must go beyond Wikipediato get an accurate picture. Even though the contributors have expanded the definition over recent months to incorporate the broad-base way in which I began using this term nearly 3 years ago – it is subject to resistance by those who argue the “correctness” in defining this Movement as Dominionism. But here is the bottom line. Dominion is an English word defined in the dictionary as,
1. Control or the exercise of control; sovereignty:2. A territory or sphere of influence or control; a realm.
In his own words, here is the definition of their goals by one of the many Dominionist leaders, Evangelical Preacher George Grant…
“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. It is dominion we are after. Not just influence. It is dominion we are after. Not just equal time. It is dominion we are after. World conquest.
That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish. We must win the world with the power of the Gospel. And we must never settle for anything less…
Thus, 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.”
From The Changing of the Guard: Biblical Principles for Political Action by George Grant, published in 1987 by Dominion Press
Thank you, George, for making my point crystal clear. By the way this guy served as an assistant to D. James Kennedy at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida. Oh, on that note. Our ReBiblican congress members who seemingly cannot find time to address rising unemployment in America in 2011 – did find time to pass House Resolution #71, honoring D. James Kennedy who organized a group named “The Center for Reclaiming America for Christ”. This notion of having to “reclaim” something that they truly believe they lost is pervasive. In order to understand that they must convince you that we always were a Christian Nation and now it must be reclaimed by them in order to savve our country from moral decline.
Here is anther perspective from Gary North…
“So let us be blunt about it: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will be get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”
Here is one of the very BEST expanded definitions of Dominionism I have seen anywhere, by renowned Dominionist expert researcher/author and blogger at www.discernementministries.com as well as www.herescope.com. With her permission I am posting the captures of her Newsletter. If you find this difficult to read in this format you can always click on any one of the panels below to view her pdf that will allow you to enlarge the article.
Many, many thanks to Sarah Leslie for letting me post this entire article here for all of you to read. As I say, she is a renowned authority on Dominionism and her work has contributed to those like myself getting involved in this fight against a Scripture-twisted co-opting of the Christian faith to use as a vehicle to take control over our lives and erode our freedoms falsely using the name of Jesus Christ.
The following is an article posted at Newsvine.com in May 2009 by my fellow researcher, Alex Bird who writes as “dogemporer”:
Over the past few days, I’ve written articles for Wayang Party on the international involvement of Joel’s Army groups in the steeplejack of AWARE 1 and the actual agenda of the American-based “Christian Nationalist” group Focus on the Family 2. From the responses received here, it’s obvious that steeplejacking and the growth of “Christian Nationalism”–especially the Joel’s Army variety–is of such a national concern that even the Home Affairs Minister has issued a statement warning of the threat to the secular state 3. In this particular article, I wish to present essentially a layman’s guide to the internal mythology of “Joel’s Army”–and how it tends to radically differ from mainstream Christianity or even evangelical Christianity. A “Joel’s Army” mythological primer Firstly, just to note–in this particular sense, I’m using the term “myth” in the way sociologists use it, not in the term that it’s used in common parlance. Basically, in social sciences, “mythology” and “myths” are used to refer to stories people tell to teach a certain cultural and spiritual path–there’s no value judgement made on this. (I note this, as an aside, because people in modern living faith systems sometimes get offended when sociologists refer to their religious or spiritual paths as “mythology” or “myths”.) Anyways, much like other faith systems (including mainstream Christianity), “Joel’s Army” groups have their own faith system that is often at radical odds with mainstream Christianity. One area where the Joel’s Army groups diverge from mainstream Christianity is with the common Christian story of the fall of man from grace–where Eve and Adam were tempted to eat the fruit despite God’s warning. Joel’s Army groups tend to teach that at this moment Satan was given dominion over the world 4–this becomes very important later, because it can be argued the whole general theme of Joel’s Army theology is dominion–literally a Biblical mandate to take over the world. The Wagner-linked Joel’s Army groups, as well as some of the older Assemblies-linked “Joel’s Army” groups, go even further and promote concepts not noted in the Bible at all. Specifically, they rely on a very odd claim by William F. Branham 5–an early “Latter Rain” preacher (“Latter Rain” was a sort of proto-”Joel’s Army” movement popular in the 30s and 40s)–that claims that Eve made love to the Serpent and that Cain and his descendants were, literally, sons of the Devil. Branham’s concept of interspecies and interplanar adultery–what he termed the “Serpent Seed” theology–ended up going in two different directions. One branch, promoted by racists (Branham was a known member of the Ku Klux Klan) became the racist theology known in the US as Christian Identity; the other branch–which held that people who opposed the “Latter Rain” and its agenda were the “sons of the Devil”–became what we know now as Joel’s Army or Elijah’s Army. (Interestingly, Branham himself may have well coined the “Elijah’s Army” branding–he promoted himself as a reincarination of the prophet Elijah. 6) This isn’t the only area at variance with traditional Christian eschatology. In traditional Christian belief, Jesus’ death and resurrection ultimately defeated the devil. “Joel’s Army” churches have a decidedly neutered interpretation of this–usually they preach that Jesus was tortured in hell or wrestled the devil in hell for three days (the so-called “Harrowing of Hell”), and his death and resurrection only merely bought the keys for man to take back dominion–and it is “Joel’s Army”, acting as “regents for Christ”, who must reclaim the world and society for God. (Yes, you’re reading this right; essentially these groups promote Christ as being too weak to free humanity. Christians may be free to be utterly mortified at this.) In “Joel’s Army” theology, the world is at perpetual war, with the “Army of God” at one end, the literal sons of the devil at the other, and most of humanity and humanity’s diverse societies seen as literal battlefield “territory” to be “named and claimed”. This is, in part, why there’s such a heavy emphasis on steeplejacking and taking over institutions (including other churches) from within–in their viewpoint (as I’ll note in the next few paragraphs), the people within aren’t really “Saved” and thus are seen as legitimate territory to “name and claim”. 7 In addition, the “Joel’s Army” groups tend to be neopentecostal (often labeled as “charismatic” in denominations that aren’t traditionally part of the pentecostal movement)–and these tend to have some rather unique claims regarding salvation, especially those close to traditionally neopentecostal denominations. Most mainstream Christian churches either believe one is saved at baptism (the Baptists and a number of other “adult baptism” Protestant groups) or upon confession and formal dedication to the church including first Communion (Catholics, Anglicans, and most of the Christian denominations that practice infant baptism). Most Christian churches also tend to believe that once one has been saved, one retains that salvation short of really messing up (things like mortal sins like murder, etc. or outright conversion to another religion). “Joel’s Army” groups, and neopente groups in general, are a little different. In these groups, you are not seen as truly saved unless one has had an additional “baptism in fire” or “baptism in the Holy Spirit”–and in these groups, the invariable sign of this is some form of supernatural manifestation. In pentecostal churches, this has traditionally been “speaking in tongues” (usually without someone translating what is being spoken, and usually noted as being a “heavenly language”); in the “charismatic” groups in “non-denominational” churches and steeplejacked churches, this tends to be in regards to other “divine gifts” (usually someone being a prophet or an “apostle”)–you hear a lot about something called the “fivefold ministry” 8, which is a term used for a specific division of “divine categories” of preachers and pastors in these groups. Even in the mainstream churches that do accept “speaking in tongues” and divine gifts of the Spirit, the practice is a lot different. Typically “speaking in tongues” requires the tongue to be in an earthly language and translated to be accepted (for example, this is how it works in evangelical Methodist churches in the US); other divine gifts also have similar “testing of the fruits of the Spirit”. There is little or none of this testing in churches infected with Joel’s Army theology; in fact, people who attempt to do so are often accused of “denying the river” or of being possessed by the Devil and trying to “rob God’s blessing” 9. In general, there is a huge emphasis (compared to mainstream Christian churches) of “signs and wonders”–up to and including claims that the “outbreaks of miracles” are proof that these groups are the only ones truly saved, and that only they have the “key” to thwarting the Devil and unlocking all the blessings that are rightfully theirs (as direct descendants of God via Adam). In Singapore itself, this imagery has even included references to the “red packets” traditionally given out at Lunar New Year’s 10. Conversely, it’s also taught that it is very easy to lose salvation, to “backslide”, to even lose one’s blessing if it is not aggressively “named and claimed”. This leads to things like 40-day “fasting and prayer marathons” (where they don’t eat for 40 days in fasting that is more severe than Puasa/Ramadhan fasting) where people pray for wealth or healing, the “prophetic conferences”–and massive calls for censorship of anything that could be opposed to their theology, because the mere act of being exposed to such things can lead to “demonic oppression”–essentially remaining not-rich and in strife–or even frank possession by the devil. (This, incidentially, may be why AWARE itself was targeted–not only is LGBT tolerance considered controlled by demons, but feminism in and of itself is promoted as being controlled by “Jezebel spirits”.) The term for this is “deliverance ministry”, and in practice tends to lead to people being isolated from all info sources other than that led by the church 11. It’s not only what you do that may mess things up as well. Even “saved” people can be “demonically oppressed” due to the actions of their ancestors up to seven generations back, according to their theology–there’s even a term for it called “generational curses”. (Those of you who have respect for the ancestors are free to be rightfully horrified.) This has led to literal purges of pre-Christian cultural references en masse in some countries (sub-Saharan Africa in particular as well as in Guatemala 12). This has led to another thing at wide variance to mainstream Christianity–the practice of Joel’s Army exorcisms 13. Most Christian churches do not conduct the rite of exorcism, or tend to have only specific people trained in the rite who have also had psychological training to be able to differentiate mental illness from potential “spiritual illness”; Catholic priests trained in the Rite of Exorcism are essentially to a one licensed psychologists in their countries. “Joel’s Army” groups conduct it all the time, and for such perceived things as being a feminist (and thus being possessed by “Jezebel spirits”) or a child being “willful” or someone being depressed; this has led to suicides and worse in the US and elsewhere 14. The demon-haunted world of Joel’s Army also directly leads to their “mandate from God” to steeplejack everything. In Joel’s Army theology (unlike mainstream Christianity, which typically teaches–even in its evangelical variants–that the kingdom of God is not one of this world) it’s taught that businesses and countries and entire cultures, just like people, can gain and lose God’s blessing depending on how strictly they follow the “battle plan”–and that just like people, businesses and countries and cultures can be literally possessed by Satan en masse. (In the States, it’s popularly promoted by Joel’s Army groups that Moslems as a whole are possessed; this, despite large populations of moderate Moslems in Singapore and Malaysia.) In order to secure not only their own “blessing” but “blessings for their nation”, Joel’s Army groups feel they must take over all institutions, essentially “exorcise” them, and “name and claim” them for God–converting everything to a Joel’s Army owned-and-operated tool for theocracy that, taken to its ultimate extent, forces non-NAR people–including Christians not part of steeplejacked churches–to submit or die. (And yes, they have stated rather blatantly internally this is the intent.) There are even specific seminars on this subject–the “Transformation” conferences (of which a branch is held in Singapore sponsored by LOVE Singapore) promote a particular branding of this strategy called the “Seven Mountains Strategy” 15 that goes into rather graphic detail on how not only governments but NGOs, schools, entertainment industries, the military, and all pillars of society must be taken over as “strongholds from the enemy”. Other uniquely “Joel’s Army” theologies The evidence of “Joel’s Army” and “Christian Identity” groups being “brothers” shows up in other ways as well that don’t show up in any other group claiming to be Christian. “Joel’s Army” groups have been documented promoting the “Phinehas Priesthood” (named after a famous Israeli priest who impaled a man and his Midianite lover in the temple, led a bloody revolution, and went on to almost cause fully a fourth of the tribes in Israel to be slaughtered over a misunderstanding over building a second temple) as an example of the levels of dedication needed to take over the world 16; there’s a Christian Identity group in the US that has used the same name as a call for extermination of interracial couples (and has occasionally committed pro-racist domestic terrorism here in the US) 17. In addition, the endtime theology of these groups is so variant that it deserves a special mention. Most mainstream Christian groups tend to fall in one of three categories regarding their concept of the end of the world: postmillenial (meaning that Jesus reigns for 1000 years and then the end of the world comes), premillenial (meaning that Jesus “raptures up” the Faithful, seven years of literal hell on earth breaks out in what is called the Tribulation, and then evil is defeated and Jesus reigns for 1000 years) or amillenial (in which the millenial reign is seen as rather irrelevant and the important thing is “doing what Jesus would do”). Typically most Protestant groups trend towards postmillenial or amillenial thought, with evangelical groups trending towards either being postmillenial or premillenial. The denominations that spawned “Joel’s Army” (the Assemblies of God and Foursquare) started out as premillenial–and some of the unique quirks in their versions of premillenial theology come from a particular reference bible called the Scofield Reference Bible 18. Premillenial theology, more often termed premillenial dispensationalism, is actually pretty young as a theology (dating back to John Darby in the 1820s and with what would become the Brethren), and Scofield’s version even younger than that (1907 at its earliest). Much of Scofield’s version did become the basis for the theology promoted in “Assemblies linked” groups like Campus Crusade and FGBMFI, and later on Youth With A Mission. The Wagner line started out as postmillenial–with a unique twist, based on a version of Latter Rain theology called “Manifest Sons of God”, that claimed that in essence the church was the “corporate Christ” and that the millenial reign could not begin until everything was “named and claimed”.19 There’s been quite a lot of cross-fertilisation, and now the dominant theology can’t really be said to be premillenial or postmillenial–more of “quasi-premillenial” theology that goes something like this 20: a) Satan has dominion over most of the world, so “strongholds” and in particular spiritually powerful areas known as “gates” have to be secured, purged of Satanic influence, and converted to “Godly strongholds” to secure blessings for those peoples in the area. (Of note: Singapore has been mentioned as a “gate” in Wagner’s “Joel’s Army” groups 21.) b) Areas “named and claimed” will be sites of great miracles and “outpourings” which will cause people to convert en masse, adding foot soldiers to “Elijah’s Army”. It’s taught that until a critical mass of people are converted (“every nation”, and/or 144,000 Jewish people, and/or 1/3rd of the human population total–there’s a huge emphasis on “second billion” (as in “second billion Christians”) in some Joel’s Army circles) Jesus cannot return–hence there’s the whole “regents and holding army for Christ” thing going on. c) Rapture happens, two people convert post-Rapture and are martyred in Jerusalem (where every Jewish person in the world has been herded by the Russians–this is one of the Scofield weirdnesses that was originally a reference to Tsarist progroms) and this causes a massive revival about three and a half years into the Tribulation d) At the end of the Tribulation, all the Raptured along with General Jesus descend from Heaven and join the convertees, who all proceed to slaughter the rest of humanity, consign them to Hell, and are granted a “new heaven and new earth” as reward. Amazingly enough, this very scenario has been laid out for public view in a book series. Tim LaHaye, who has not only written several books on this particular endtime scenario but has co-published (along with Jerry Jenkins) what amounts to Joel’s Army fanfiction (the “Left Behind” series). It’s a wildly popular series among the Joel’s Army set in the US, and a writer called “Slacktivist” has been conducting a read-through including notes on the rather bizarre theology promoted therein (at least from a mainstream Christian viewpoint) 22. Scofield’s contributions bear special note. Among other things, Scofield is directly responsible for claims that Russia and Iran will go to the Final War with the US and Israel; this was used to frighteningly good effect by early Joel’s Army groups who promoted themselves as “anti-Communist” (and now are being promoted as “anti-Islamist” as well, though being arguably as dangerous). This has led to some very interesting conspiracy theory, including claims that the United Nations is run by the Russians or is otherwise secretly a Soviet plot. In addition, Scofield’s view of how the world will end can literally be described as a sort of “Hopscotch with the Bible”–hopping to one verse, then another, then another, often in separate testaments much less books or chapters, and typically taking verses wildly out of context 23. (This has often led to even evangelical Christians wondering just where they’re getting this stuff.) In addition, Joel’s Army groups also have a heavy emphasis on “divine revelation” completely outside of the Bible altogether–they put as much stock in utterances of “prophets” and “apostles” (as long as their utterances fall under the general “party line” of the Joel’s Army group in question) as the Bible itself, and if the “prophecy” is justified at all it’s often in terms of other “prophecies” or a Bible verse taken out of context. (There’s an amazing amount of examples of this “in action” over at the main Joel’s Army site online, “Elijah’s List” 24.) All in all, Joel’s Army groups can legitimately be said to be about as divorced from mainstream Christianity–or even mainstream, non-NAR evangelical Christianity–as, say, the Unification Church or other “Bible-based” groups. (Many Biblical scholars at the least state they should be essentially treated as a third denominational grouping separate from Catholicism/Orthodoxy and Protestantism; some have more recently argued that these groups should be considered a religion wholly separate from historical Christianity 25.)
You will find a complete listing of all of her footnotes to this article by going to Newsvine where this article was first published.
There are many, many knowledgeable researchers, writers, teachers, ex-Dominionist theologians and more who have written about the dangers of this extremism and it is impossible to list them all here – but I will provide links to some of the most notable articles that are well wroth taking the time to read.
- The Despoiling of America by Katherine Yurica – Yurica Report.com
- Dominionism & the Rise of Christian Imperialism by Sarah Leslie
- A Collection of Articles by Dr. Orrel Steinkamp
- A Collection of Contributors at Theocracy Watch.org
I will add more over time…but this should sufficiently overwhelm any first time reader of Christian Dominionism in American politics. Stay with me! We need everyone to become aware of this extremism. It is our own homegrown version of what the Muslim world has dealt with for years when they are all lumped in with the Islamic extremists.
The following list is provided by Bruce Gourley.com and gives the tip of the iceberg look into how widespread this Movement is and how adept they are at spreading themselves across so many organizations that it appears that they are not cohesive:
Theocratic Organizations Alliance for Marriage America’s Foundation – Rick Santorum’s Political Action Committee American Center for Law and Justice American Family Association American Vision – founded by Gary Demar, leading theocratic ideologue Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights Center for Arizona Policy Chalcedon Foundation – led by R. J. Rushdoony Christian Action Network Christian Business Men’s Committee Christian Coalition of America Christian Exodus ChristianAmerica.Com Citizens for Excellence in Education – arm of National Association of Christian Educators CitizenLink.Com – an arm of Focus on the Family Coalition on Revival – Applying Biblical Principles to Every Sphere of Life and Thought Concerned Women for America Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens Coral Ridge Ministries – led by D. James Kennedy Council for National Policy – secret government council policy formed by Tim LaHaye Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Creation Resource Foundation Eagle Forum Family Policy Network Family Research Council Free Congress Foundation Home School Foundation – funded by the HSLDA Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) Institute for Christian Economics – led by Gary North National Association of Christian Educators (NACE) Joshua Generation – aimed at 11 to 19 year olds; affiliated with Patrick Henry College National Center for Home Education – affiliated with HSLDF National Clergy Council National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI)- funded by HSLDF Operation Rescue Restore America Rutherford Institute Traditional Values Coalition Vision America – founded by Rick Scarborough, Baptist Vision Forum Ministries Wall Builders – led by David Barton Worldview Weekend Theocratic Educational Institutions Patrick Henry College – for homeschooled children, partner of HSLDF Regent University – “Regent” refers to Christian rulers who will govern the nation Theocratic Publications and Media A Christian Manifesto – address by Francis A. Schaeffer; summary of theocratic views A Manifesto for the Christian Church – endorsed by the major theocratic players American Vision Home School Online Store Biblical Worldview Magazine Citizen Magazine – published by Focus on the Family Civilized Revolt (Formerly Virtue Magazine) FreeBooks – from the Institute for Christian Economics Generations – Radio Program Home School Heartbeat (Radio program) LifeWay Homeschool, Southern Baptist Convention – affiliated with HSLDF & NHERI WorldView Magazine History of Reconstructionism /Domionism A Brief History of Christian Reconstruction – published by Public Eye in 1994