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The Dangers of Christian Dominionism – the Christian Right’s Lust to Control You

[I do not know the author of this. See note at the bottom.]
The dangers of christian dominionism are not new, but let’s be familiar with what it stands for
to avoid being oppressed, or deceived by its heresy.

the dangers of christian dominionismI recently became interested in the dangers of christian dominionism when I read an internet article by Sara Diamond that discusses its influence in the policies of the Bush Administration. The precepts of dominionism are too broad for a single article, but here are some basics.

Dominionists apply their principles to both domestic and foreign policy.

In a recent example of its influence on domestic policy, James Dobson of the Focus on Family is threatening to use his political muscle to unseat six democratic senators if they oppose judicial appointments he supports – a move that goes far beyond voting his values to an un-Christian intimidation. Maybe someone forgot to tell Mr. Dobson that the six senators have families too.

In a recent CSPAN panel discussion on religion and the Bush presidency, one panelist stated that the evangelical interest in foreign policy was currently limited to the elite of the Christian right. According to Mr. Van Dulk, this elite have not discussed foreign policy with the grass roots level yet because they prefer to focus on domestic issues such as abortion and gay marriage at this level. At least with respect to foreign policy, there may still be time to keep Christians from being deceived or led astray be dominionism.

However, dominionism is not something that exists only on the fringe – it exists in our daily religious lives. I once sat in shock while a bible study teacher quoted Hitler-s propaganda for the master race that it is a woman’s duty to have children. I don-t really believe that she knew who she was quoting, and it is unlikely that whoever re-introduced this principle told people they were emulating Hitler. They were probably told they were helping to build an army for God. This capacity to deceive or lead people astray is the danger of dominionism.


In addition to contradicting what is generally considered God’s intent in Genesis, it denies rather than follows the teachings of Jesus. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus rejected Satan’s offer to have kingdoms on earth. If Jesus didn’t think that was the way to bring God’s kingdom, why would we?
The basis of dominion theology is a misconstruction of Genesis 1:26 to apply man-s dominion over the creatures of the world to include other humans and their secular governments and institutions. This conflicts with the more accepted interpretation that it gives man dominion over the animal kingdom, and with the second story of creation in Genesis 2, in which Adam names the animals in what appears to be the role of a guardian.

In the 1960-s and 1970-s, RJ Rushdoony founded the Chalcedon Foundation which still promotes this false interpretation of Genesis 1:26 under the label of Christian Reconstructionism. In his book, Backward Christian Soldier?, one-time Rushdoony follower Gary North states that Christians have a moral obligation to “recapture every institution for Jesus Christ.”

Another follower of Rushdoony, George Grant has stated that “It is dominion we are after. WORLD CONQUEST. That’s what Christ has commissioned us to accomplish.” In 1981, Frances Schaeffer published his version of dominionism in The Christian Manifesto.

It denies rather than follows the teachings of Jesus

In addition to contradicting what is generally considered God’s intent in Genesis, it denies rather than follows the teachings of Jesus. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus rejected Satan’s offer to have kingdoms on earth. If Jesus didn’t think that was the way to bring God’s kingdom, why would we?

During his ministry, Matthew 20:25-28 (KJV) says “But Jesus called unto them and said ‘Ye know the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority over them.

But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister, and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; Even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

And at his trial at the end of his ministry Jesus says “My kingdom is not of this world” in John 18:36. In the story of the faithful servant in Matthew 24, we are instructed to continue to serve God until Jesus returns, not to dethrone him by trying to become the master.


Strict dominionism is generally rejected by mainstream Christianity; however, dominionist themes have crept its way into fundamentalist practice. Some of the elements of dominionism that appear in Christian churches include:

1. Focus on the supernatural

The Assemblies of God declared the Latter Rain doctrine heresy in the late 1940’s; however, some have brought back the doctrine in the 1970’s without using the name. The neo-prophetic movement is one manifestation of this doctrine. One leading modern proponent, Bob Jones (not the university founder)

, has publicly stated that someone can still be a prophet if they are correct only 65% of the time, which clearly contradicts God’s warnings for false prophets in Deut 18:22.

Under this standard, it’s not hard to see why some people think that Bush hears from God even though he was wrong about WMD in Iraq. Others in this movement attempt to teach people how to prophesy, contradicting the bible which unquestionably describes it as a gift of the Holy Spirit, rather than a skill to be learned.

2. Focus on old testament law,

in some cases ahead of new testament teaching – This is evidenced in the support for the death penalty, which does not exactly create a “culture of life”. It is not likely they would institute ALL old testament law, such as the forgiveness of debts every seven years, making it’s implementation subject to the will of man rather than the will of God.

3. Focus on home schooling

to help create a generation to run secular institutions for Jesus – I’m not opposed to home schooling; however, Gary North, quoted above, has founded the Institute for Christian Economics, which through its website provides educational material for home schooling at no cost, but no doubt from a dominionist world view.

4. An excuse for not doing good works

Focus on salvation through faith alone – While this is biblical, it is used un-biblically as an excuse for not doing good works. (See James 2:14-18 and 2Cor 9:8) Someone truly changed through faith would likely want to do good works, and we should be wary of anyone who claims to have faith but uses this excuse.

5. Focus on eschatology (“the last days”)

One dominionist group known as Kingdom Now has as its goal the completion of the perfect church, without “spot or wrinkle” in preparation for the return of Christ. A whole host of evils could occur or have occurred under this aim, including

  • ostracizing undesirables from the church in opposition to both the teaching and the example set for us by Jesus;
  • the justification of doing evil to non-believers, such as the abuse of Muslim prisoners (see Lamentations 3: 34-36) or preaching that Islam’s secret goal is to destroy Christianity.
  • Another evil that has been associated with the Reconstructionists is racism, based on Rushdooney’s writings prohibiting interracial marriage.

This is just a brief summary of some of the dominionist principles that have infiltrated some mainstream Christian practice. We need to continually think about our faith and be on guard against those who would lead us astray.

For More on the Dangers of Dominion Theology, See Also:

Good article in The Christian Century: The quiet rise of Christian dominionism
EXCERPT:  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….  Although Mosaic law has not been implemented in America, Christian reconstructionism has made significant inroads in government.

Articles here at PublicChristian:
Christofascism – It’s Real, It’s Deadly, And It Intends to Dominate Us All
America’s Problem and Blessing,
Isaiah, The Consequences of our Moral Patterns.
I apologize that I do not remember who the original author of this is.  In the iterations of this site over the years, that information has been lost.

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  • Schaeffer was very good for me when I first read him. “Escape from Reason”, then “The God Who Is There”, established my Christian and philosophical independence from the milieu of the 60’s – 70’s. I still remember that exhilarating feeling in finally finding someone – someone Christian, no less! – talking sense about the reality of the world, the significance of human thinking, etc. (Those two books are probably part of the reason I still get a thrill out of holding for the first time a new paperback that looks serious and substantial!)

    But now when I look at those two Schaeffer books they seem naive and shallow in places, and downright false and unjust in others (e.g. the brutal mistreatment of Aquinas). But they did encourage me to ask bigger questions. I moved on past (or away from) his work after those two, and never really isolated the dominionist tendencies. Of course, they’ve been so prevalent for so long that they have easily gone unremarked beyond, “That’s not healthy; why do so many think like that?”

  • Strain at a camel? Reading Schaeffer, as my rusty 22-year-old memory recalls, was at least as bad as trying to swallow a bicycle. I have to return to him and pillory some of those untruths which fostered what I believe is a “church of narcissism” – a church enamored of its so-called democratic power. Everything that develops our abstraction from true service and the sermon on the Mount is red herring, imho. The temptation in a powerful supposed democracy of a world power is to become intrigued with our putative abstract effect on the world (e.g. voting) to the exclusion of service. I need to work on this. But thank you so much Barb, Rob, and visitor, for this incredibly sharp-witted and godly discussion. Bravo.

  • I’ve never read Schaeffer until today, at It sounds like he says the same things we’re saying here, about unnoticed tyranny coming forward, only his named enemy is humanism (instead of rampant nationalism) and his solution is to go after abortion and education… I ask people to find in the teachings of Jesus Christ just one thing: When did He command us to keep the world in line? When did He tell us that we are held accountable for the world’s decisions? He told us that things would eventually go sour, and love would become scarce. I see that. He tells me NOTHING about a nation that depends on its people for ruling, and what to do when the self-titled church is outnumbered by the world in a majority-rules situation. I can’t find anything that says I have to seize control of God’s enemies back from God’s enemies. But Schaeffer says we should, and that ‘freedom of religion’ is being shifted far away from its intended purpose. He tells us that originally, the state is forbidden to interfere with religion, but religions are quite able to influence the state. I also think the ‘separation of church and state’ has been mutated horribly, however I cannot agree with his ideal. Morals come from religion. Humanist morals, according to Schaeffer, are chosen arbitrarily by the current leadership, which makes for chaos. But humanism is a sort of religion as well, just as evolution can require even more faith than Biblical creationism… When did Jesus license us to seize the government and wield it in a defensive-turned-offensive manner to interfere with any New Age belief? We would violate both the 1st and 9th amendments at once, proving again our hypocrisy. So they’re using lies and tyrranical force to limit education to their new ideas? So what? Can’t you teach your kids anything? Don’t you bring them with you on Sunday so they can attend Sunday school? Humanists can’t touch that. What everybody missed was the grand distraction it accomplishes… Get them to fight for their national integrity(?), get them to focus on a few issues and miss the huge problems that are killing everyone — evolution, abortion, and gay rights instead of war, poverty, self-righteousness, bribery, profiteering, the doomsday club that signed off at the PNAC and went to work for Bush Jr. Ever strain out a gnat and swallow a camel?! They use ‘sanctity of life’ as their abortion motto and promise to kill anyone and everyone, every last evil regime, all those rogue states who won’t let their country become “FREE” like ours!
    War is Peace.
    Freedom is Slavery.
    Ignorance is Strength.

  • Much of what passes for Christian theology today is in fact revisionism of the worst sort. I merely note premellenial dispensationalsim as one example: Dominionism is of course another. Literal interpretation of the Bible is hardly revisionism and I seriously doubt whether this notion represents heresy; I do however wonder how each particular Christian sect decides which version of the Bible to accept as the literal word of God. For many Fundamentalist sects, the literal word is represented by the King James version; this book is a wonderful poetic expression of the English language but an accurate interepretation of ancient manuscripts it is not. With loose interepretation of ancient Greek and Aramaic texts so readily accepted by so many people is it any wonder that such hideous notions as dominionism gain acceptance? Certain sects, divinity schools and seminaries thrive on these sorts of non-traditional pseudo-Christian beliefs that have as their source hatred and intollerance.

  • The basis of dominion theology is a misconstruction of Genesis 1:26 to apply man’s dominion over the creatures of the world to include other humans and their secular governments and institutions.

    Is it possible that this doctrine is related to the “Dual Creation” doctrine, previously used to justify slavery?