This is an interesting article by Rachel Tabachnick.
A few excerpts below…
(Link to complete article at the end)
Over two years ago I wrote, but never published, the following article. It was immediately following the 2008 election and the Religious Right was being eulogized by the press. The topic is the transition of large numbers of Charismatic evangelicals from Dispensational to Dominionist theology.
Why should you care? In plain English this is a shift from an originally passive theology in which believers are waiting to be Raptured from the earth prior and escape imminent apocalyptic horrors, to a politicized theology in which believers must take control over society and government.
End times narratives provide a blueprint for activism much like a platform defines goals of a political party. The narratives provide a clear picture of what we can expect from this particular stream of evangelicalism as it gains both religious and political clout and molds tomorrow’s Religious Right.
The demise of the Religious Right is being announced with great fanfare in the media. It is an announcement that has been made repeatedly over the decades and, without fail, has been wrong every time.
It is difficult to juxtapose this image of the demise of the Religious Rights with the current reality in America – the growing popularity of spiritual warfare networks, spiritual mapping, the belief in generational curses, demon deliverance centers, health centers based on faith healing, and faith-based initiatives which have poured public funds into the hands of these spiritual warriors. A prominent religious leader can be labeled as moderate or mainstream despite advocating beliefs that only a few years ago would have been considered marginal.
What is “Dominionism” in this context?
It is a word that has been used casually to mean many different things in recent years, including being used erroneously in reference to Dispensationalists, whose well-defined prophecy timeline includes no plan whatsoever for taking dominion over the earth. One of the major features of Dispensationalism is a pre-Tribulation Rapture, therefore “born again” Christians will not still be present on the natural earth when the battles of the end times take place. They will then watch from the grandstands of heaven and play no role in the defeat of Satan and his minions. Dominionism is a term that should only be used for those whose eschatological timeline requires that Christians, in some way, gain complete authority over the earth before the return of Jesus can take place. This can refer to some postmillennial theologies or forms of premillennial theology in which Christians are not Raptured prior to the Tribulation. The term Dominionism should not be used to describe pre-Tribulation Dispensational theology.
Millions in the Pentecostal/Charismatic sector of Christianity are now actively involved in spiritual warfare networks, prayer marches, long term fasting, around the clock prayer vigils, and organized campaigns like “Reclaiming the Seven Mountains of Culture” to take control over society and government.
These seven mountains are government, education, arts and entertainment, media, family, religion, and business.
Many pastors across the Pentecostal/Charismatic spectrum have rejected the pre-Tribulation Rapture and embraced these campaigns for dominion. Youth across the country are being trained to be warriors, much like the Tribulation Force of the Left Behind series. However, in this scenario, true believers will not be snatched away from the earth before the battle begins, and there will be no waiting for armies from heaven. These Christian warriors, representing the “corporate body” of Christ, plan to be victorious over evil themselves.
Charismatic Dominionists were in a somewhat disorganized state for several decades, and their activism was overshadowed by the better known dominionism of the small but influential Reconstructionist camp of the late Rousas J. Rushdoony. The impact of Rushdoony’s ideology could be seen in the partnership of dispensationalist and dominionist camps that produced the 17 Christian Worldview Documents, The Manifesto for the Christian Church, and other foundational documents of the Coalition on Revival. This coalition, led by Jay Grimstead and initiated in 1984, was an effort to bring about a truce between those in competing theologies in order to promote a unified front in their impact on society and government. They were particularly concerned about overcoming differences in eschatology which is critically important to guiding activism. The documents produced by the coalition provided the foundational underpinnings for taking Christian dominion in government, economics, law, education, and other specific areas of society.
The movement was a coalition, but the end product was considered a triumph for Reconstructionists and Dominion theology. The exercise further demonstrated the inadequacy and incompatibility of Dispensational theology as a foundation for Religious Right activism. Since the time of the Coalition on Revival, both the Dominionist and Dispensational leaders of the Religious Right, as well as those researchers monitoring the Religious Right, saw the tremendous potential for exploitation of the vast numbers of the Pentecostal/Charismatic sector and their growing mass media capacity.
In 1994, Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility, the Struggle between Theocracy and Democracy and co-founder of Talk2action.org, wrote the following.
The quotes are from an article titled “No Longer Without Sheep,”
“Since 1980 much of Pentecostalism has begun to adopt aspects of Reconstructionism or dominion theology. This is not an accident.
Reconstructionists have sought to graft their theology onto the experientially oriented, and often theologically amorphous, Pentecostal and charismatic religious traditions. Following a 1987 Reconstuctionist/Pentecostal theological meeting, Joseph Morecroft exclaimed: “God is blending Presbyterian theology with charismatic zeal into a force that cannot be stopped.!”
Clarkson continues by explaining that this means hundreds of thousands of Pentecostals and Charismatics moved from apolitical into the activist camp. Clarkson, a long term veteran in the effort to expose Reconstructionism and its impact on the Religious Right, continued in the same article,
“As recently as the early 1990s, most evangelicals viewed Reconstructionists as a band of misfits without a following. All that has changed, along with the numbers and character of the Christian Right. The world of evangelicalism and, arguably, American politics generally will never be same.”
Gary North, son-in-law of the late Rousas J. Rushdoony, and a prolific Reconstructionist writer, wrote even earlier about the potential of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movement. In the July/August 1985 issue of “Christian Reconstructionism” North wrote an article titled “A Letter to Charismatics.” It is an open letter asking why Charismatics, and more particularly “word of faith” televangelists, had not abandoned Dispensational theology. North claims that this theology is an excuse for the failure of Christians to change the world.
“To mentally justify this failure, millions of Christians have adopted eschatology of earthy failure – an eschatology which teaches that in time and on earth, God’s people will be persecuted, defeated, bankrupted, ridiculed, imprisoned, and generally made to feel as though God is voluntarily impotent to implement His principles on earth through the effort of his faithful servants. This doctrine is called premillennial dispensationalism. It is radically pessimistic. Most charismatics say that they still believe in premillennial dispensationalism , even though they also say they believe in biblical principles of successful living. This baffles me. Are they pessimists or optimists?”
Charismatics say that God can heal bodies and does. They say that God can heal churches and families, and does. They say that God can heal the whole world, but won’t. Why not? Is there something the matter with God? Or is there something the matter with premillennialism?
North continued through this public letter to Charismatics to emphasize the inherent contradictions of dispensationalism and Charismatic belief. In a 1986 article in Dominion Strategies, a publication of North’s Institute for Biblical Economics, he claims that large numbers of premillennialists who are unable to publicly announce their transition had become “operational postmillennialists” in both language and activism.
Hal Lindsey, well known Dispensational author of “The Late Great Planet Earth,” and a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, published a less known book in 1989 titled The Road to the Holocaust. The book had the subtitle “Unchecked the Dominion Theology movement among Christians could lead us – and Israel – to disaster.”
Lindsey, who was clearly disturbed by the growth of Dominionism, describes the process through which Reconstructionist leaders made their breakthrough with Charismatic leaders.
To everyone’s amazement (including the Reconstructionist’s), they have become the `intellectual shepherds’ of the Charismatic leaders… But when Gary North and the Reconstructionists won some converts among the Charismatics, they saw a new dynamic for spreading their doctrine – one that already possessed a vast means of mass-media communication. Yet, as we will see, the Charismatics and Reconstructionists are strange bedfellows indeed.”
Christian Zionists like Hal Lindsey had long abandoned the purer form of Darby’s classical Dispensationalism, and were already working to advance the eschatological clock through religious and political activism. However, Lindsey and North both understood the implications of the changes to activism if Dominionist theology could supplant Dispensationalism on a much larger scale. These Christian warriors would no longer be constrained by having to wait for a future Rapture. The battle against evil to bring about the millennial utopia would not wait for divine intervention, but be initiated by human hands – an army of Christian warriors bringing about the Kingdom, now.
Lindsey defines dominion and Kingdom Now,
“The title `Dominion’ grows out of Postmillennial emphasis that the church is supposed to take dominion over the earth, its environment and its inhabitants, as per command of God to Adam in Genesis 1:28. Likewise the title `Kingdom Now’ resulted from their belief that the Kingdom of God in its earthly form is being established on the earth NOW, before the Second Advent of Christ.”
Charismatics have abandoned Dispensationalism in large numbers, but they have had other shepherds besides Rushdoony to turn to for guidance. Charismatics are now embracing a Dominonist theology of their own design and are shepherded by their own leadership.
The beginnings of Charismatic Dominionism actually predate Reconstuctionism by decades, and, by the time Reconstructionism had gained scrutiny in the United States, Charismatic Dominionism was already sweeping South America, Asia, and Africa. This Charismatic Dominionist theology resembles the Latter Rain movement that began in the late 1940s, with its supernatural manifestations, the goal of “restoration of the Five-fold ministry, the restoration of the “Tabernacle of David,” belief in the “Manifest Sons of God,” and the impartation of supernatural gifts by the laying on of hands. However, their methodology and political strategies show the fingerprints of the Coalition on Revival.
The most visible results of the current apostolic and prophetic movement is the New Apostolic Reformation, described by C. Peter Wagner as a second reformation of the church and beginning in 2001.
In The Charismatic Century, Hayford describes C. Peter Wagner’s 1988 book New Apostolic Churches as documenting the phenomenon of “contemporary apostles” and the movement away from traditional denominations in which “the association of pastors and churches under the apostolic leader are based on affinity rather than strict doctrinal statements or hierarchical structures.” Hayford points to Ted Haggard’s New Life Church (prior to Haggard’s scandal and downfall) as a leader of this phenomenon in which the independent congregation does not call itself Pentecostal but “in all ways typifies a church moving in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.”
New Apostolic leaders Lou Engle, founder of “The Call,” and Mike Bickle teach that the current revival movement is rooted in the similar revivals of the Latter Rain movement. This movement was also focused on fasting and a wave of healing revivals, and is described by Engle as possibly bringing about the establishment of the modern state of Israel or “physical restoration” of Israel.
Engle and Bickle believe that the current wave of revivals could bring about the “spiritual restoration” of Israel in preparation for the Millennial Kingdom on earth.
They teach that Jesus is bound in heaven by prophecy and can not return for his earthly kingdom until the church gains greater authority on earth, a responsibility which they have assigned to the young people who are attending their events.
The media materials from “The Call Jerusalem” in 2008 explained that the return of Jesus to earth also depends on a critical mass of Messianic Jews in Israel asking for his return as their Messiah. The rapid growth of this Dominionist theology has dramatically altered the nature of Christian Zionist activism, and today the major international events are overwhelmingly Charismatic and Dominonist.
The support system for the Charismatic Messianic network are Christian Zionists who have gained access to Jewish communities through their “pro-Israel” partnerships such as John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI). With very few exceptions, the leadership of CUFI is Independent Charismatic as are the churches which hold CUFI events. Hagee continues to be a vocal Dispensationalist, preaching an imminent Rapture. He assures his Jewish partners that his Christian Zionists supporters do not believe humans can advance the prophetic clock, a claim Jewish leaders often repeat their organizations and synagogues. This serves as a smokescreen for CUFI, since the majority of its directors and host churches teach that humans must work to being about the Millennial Kingdom themselves, including providing support for Messianic ministries in Israel.
Many of CUFI”s directors and supporters are directly involved in the New Apostolic movement.
In the shift in theology from Dispensationalism to Dominionism, the responsibility for triggering the Millennial Kingdom and defeating the anti-Christ shifts away from Jesus and heavenly armies, to humans and human armies.
The Latter Rain Movement taught a doctrine called Manifest Sons of God, in which “Overcomers” would become increasingly holy and eventually take on supernaturally qualities that would make them invulnerable or even immortal.
The return of Jesus is no longer required to bring about the miraculous events of the end times. Rick Joyner is a leading Charismatic Dominionist author whose ministry is now housed in part of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakkers’ Heritage USA complex.
Joyner describes the perfected saints of the end times,”
…the visible glory of the Lord will appear upon some for extended periods of time as power flows threw them. There will be no plague, disease, or physical condition, including lost limbs, AIDS, poison gas, or radiation, which will resist the healing and miracle gifts working in the saints during this time. Rick Joyner, The Harvest, Charlotte: MorningStar Publications, 1989
Theologian Harvey Cox of Harvard Divinity School, wrote Fire from Heaven in 1995. It is a positive look at the history and potential of Pentecostalism, although Cox is clearly alarmed to find some Pentecostals embracing Dominionist theology.
“At first I was just merely puzzled about how so many pentecostals, whose battle cry for years was the imminent return of Christ, could have fallen in love with dominion theology. When I discovered what some historians think the answer is, I was astounded. These historians believe that the turning point came with the Latter Rain movement of the 1950s, one of whose massive revivals I had attended some forty years ago…
…the leaders of this movement were so convinced that the Spirit was at work in their spectacular displays of healing and prophecies that they believed a worldwide revival was at hand. They quietly set aside the idea that Jesus would return soon…”
Charismatic Dominionists have been overlooked despite the role they have played in building the American Religious Right and in the development of similar movements around the globe. Today they have not only abandoned the Dispensationalism which Gary North described as limiting their success, but have emerged to take a lead role in politicized religion…..