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Dominionism and Dominion Theology


Dominionism and Dominion Theology are not denominations or faith groups. Rather, they are interrelated beliefs which are followed by members of a wide range of Christian denominations.

In his article on dominionism, researcher and author Chip Berlet credits sociologist Sara Diamond with popularizing the term dominionism as "a growing political tendency in the Christian Right." Diamond defined dominionism in 1995 as:

Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns--and there is no consensus on when that might be.

"Dominionism," Berlet writes, "is .. a tendency among Protestant Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists that encourages them to not only be active political participants in civic society, but also seek to dominate the political process as part of a mandate from God.

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." (King James Version).

"Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" (New International Version).

The vast majority of Christians read this text and conclude that God has appointed them stewards and caretakers of Earth. As Sara Diamond explains, however, some Christian read the text and believe, "that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns--and there is no consensus on when that might be." That, in a nutshell, is the idea of "dominionism."

The Christian Right, Dominionism and Theocracy - Part II by Chip Berlet, December 5, 2005:

In her 1989 book Spiritual Warfare , sociologist Sara Diamond discussed how dominionism as an ideological tendency in the Christian Right had been significantly influenced by Christian Reconstructionism. Over the past 20 years the leading proponents of Christian Reconstructionism and dominion theology have included Rousas John (R.J.) Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, David Chilton, Gary DeMar, and Andrew Sandlin.

Diamond explained that "the primary importance of the [Christian Reconstructionist] ideology is its role as a catalyst for what is loosely called 'dominion theology.'" According to Diamond, "Largely through the impact of Rushdoony's and North's writings, the concept that Christians are Biblically mandated to 'occupy' all secular institutions has become the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right." (italics in the original).

In a series of articles and book chapters Diamond expanded on her thesis. She called Reconstructionism "the most intellectually grounded, though esoteric, brand of dominion theology," and observed that "promoters of Reconstructionism see their role as ideological entrepreneurs committed to a long-term struggle."

So Christian Reconstructionism was the most influential form of dominion theology, and it influenced both the theological concepts and political activism of white Protestant conservative evangelicals mobilized by the Christian Right.

But very few evangelicals have even heard of dominion theology, and fewer still embrace Christian Reconstructionism. How do we explain this, especially since our critics are quick to point it out? more

The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy - Part Three, Talk To Action, December 12, 2005:

Open advocates of dominionism declare that "America is a Christian Nation," and that therefore Christians have a God-given mandate to re-assert Christian control over political, social, and cultural institutions. Yet many dominionists stop short of staking out a position that could be called theocratic. This is the "soft" version of dominionism.

The "hard" version of dominionism is explicitly theocratic or "theonomic," as the Christian Reconstructionists prefer to be called. For America, it is a distinction without a difference.

Christian Reconstructionism arose out of conservative Presbyterianism in the early 1970's. Adherents of Christian Reconstructionism believe " that every area dominated by sin must be 'reconstructed' in terms of the Bible ."

Its followers ... are attempting to peacefully convert the laws of the United States so that they match those of the Hebrew Scriptures. They intend to achieve this by using the freedom of religion in the US to train a generation of children in private Christian religious schools. Later, their graduates will be charged with the responsibility of creating a new Bible-based political, religious and social order. One of the first tasks of this order will be to eliminate religious choice and freedom. Their eventual goal is to achieve the "Kingdom of God" in which much of the world is converted to Christianity. more

The Christian Right, Dominionism, and Theocracy - Part Four, Talk To Action, December 19, 2005

From What is Christian Reconstructionism? by Frederick Clarkson:

A general outline of what the reconstructed 'Kingdom,' or confederation of Biblical theocracies, would look like emerges from the large body of Reconstructionist literature. This society would feature a minimal national government, whose main function would be defense by the armed forces. No social services would be provided outside the church, which would be responsible for 'health, education, and welfare.' A radically unfettered capitalism (except in so far as it clashed with Biblical Law) would prevail. Society would return to the gold or silver standard or abolish paper money altogether. The public schools would be abolished. Government functions, including taxes, would be primarily at the county level.

Women would be relegated primarily to the home and home schools, and would be banned from government. Those qualified to vote or hold office would be limited to males from Biblically correct churches.

Dominion theology provides the theological rationale for a "Christian" nation. John F. Sugg writes in the Weekly Planet, Tampa, Florida, March 2004:

Dominion theologians ... preached ... that it was Christians' job to take over the world and impose biblical rule. Christ would not return, they said, until the church had claimed dominion over all of the world's governments and institutions ...

In 2000, the Republican Party of Texas declared that it "affirms that the United States is a Christian nation." Last month, [February 11, 2004,] that sentiment reached the national level. The Constitution Restoration Act of 2004 would acknowledge Christianity's God as the "sovereign source" of our laws. It would reach back in history and reverse all judicial decisions that have built a wall between church and state, and it would prohibit federal judges from making such rulings in the future.

From Reconstructionism to Dominionism, Part 1 by Southern Baptist Minister Bruce Prescott:

If Rushdoony and his disciples have their way, democracy will be abolished and a Christian theocracy will be established.  A theocracy based on the Bible along the lines of John Cotton's Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Rushdoony wrote, "The only true order is founded on Biblical Law.  All law is religious in nature, and every non-Biblical law-order represents an anti-Christian religion." (p. 113)  He also made it clear that he expects that force will be necessary to impose such order, "Every law-order is in a state of war against the enemies of that order, and all law is a form of warfare." (p. 93)

From Reconstructionism to Dominionism, Part 2 by Southern Baptist Minister Bruce Prescott::

Despite their differences over the tactics and strategy, all Reconstructionists are committed to making the laws of Ancient Israel the law of the land in the U.S.

A Nation Under God, by John Sugg in Mother Jones, December/January Issue (see whole issue, but this article is a particular favorite of mine -- great update on the Christian Reconstruction movement)

From: The Covert Kingdom -- Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Texas, Joe Bageant May 18, 2004:

Christian Reconstructionism has for decades exerted one hell of an influence through its scores of books, publications and classes taught in colleges and universities. Over the past 30 years, Reconstructionist doctrine has permeated not only the religious right, but mainstream churches as well, via the charismatic movement. Its impact on politics and religion in this nation have been massive, with many mainstream churches pushed rightward by pervasive Reconstructionism, without even knowing it. 

Kingdom Now/Dominion/Restoration theology, Talk To Action, December 19, 2005

The Rise of Dominionism: Remaking America as a Christian Nation by Frederick Clarkson, The Public Eye

Blogging for Theocracy, Talk To Action, November 29, 2005

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part III, Dailykos, July 6, 2006

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part II, Dailykos, June 29, 2006

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part I, Dailykos, June 21, 2006

The Manipulations of Dominionism, Discernment Newsletter, July/August, 2006



Last updated: July-2006