An Examination of Kingdom-, Dominion-,
and Latter Rain Theology
An Examination of Kingdom Theology - Part 3/3
Introduction To Part Three
This segment of our treatise on "Kingdom Now" or "Dominion" Theology has been the most difficult to complete, both in terms of assimilating the contents and in presenting them in a manner that would not be inflammatory or denigrating to any individual's character. Just getting from the research to the writing has been extremely difficult and time-consuming in view of the mounds of documentation that I've had to read and reread, or listen to on audio and video tapes over and over in order to avoid the mistake of judging erroneously or taking statements out of context. The importance of the subject matter warranted extreme caution. I hope the reader will understand my struggle to get this written. And I thank for their patience those who have waited so long for this third installment.Looking Back
In our previous installments we traced today's Dominion Theology back to the neo-Pentecostalism of the mid-twentieth century, and what became known as "The Latter Rain Movement." We discussed the influence of occult methodology upon the two principal innovators of that movement: Franklin Hall and William Branham. Their influence at that time upon certain pastors and leaders resulted in widespread acceptance of teachings centered on the supposed "restoration" of the Church. Perhaps more than anyone else, it was William Branham's influence that paved the way for this new theology based on the exaltation of the believer. This engendered a new hope unknown to Scripture: that as certain "overcomers" in the Church attained a state of perfection, or sinlessness, they would become immortal even while in their present bodies. This, then, became the basis for the belief that, through the perfecting of the overcomers by obedience to the latter day "apostles" and "prophets," the Church will take dominion over the governments and social institutions of the world. Thus the earth will be prepared for Christ's return. These teachings found their greatest expression in the Manifested Sons of God and related movements. They have lately become more widespread so that many in the Church today believe it is not possible for Jesus to return until the Church has made the earth 'its' footstool. In addressing these aberrant teachings we also explored other doctrines peculiar to Kingdom Now Theology, and we saw how each has its own place in the attempt to establish God's Kingdom on earth before Jesus' return. We also examined the various movements that hold many or all of the Kingdom Now doctrines. In this, Part III, we'll detail some of the key teachings of Dominion Theology, and we'll quote some of those who teach them. It is beyond the scope of this writing to quote everyone who holds each doctrine, but we will offer a sampling from a few teachers whose statements typically reflect these doctrines. Wherever possible we will identify the movements to which these teachers belong, although many do not overtly identify themselves with any particular group. The reader should keep in mind that Dominion Theology is not an easily delineated segment within the Church, but rather a loose networking of autonomous sub-movements that have different approaches to their attempts at establishing the Kingdom of God. The central doctrine of all, however, is that Jesus cannot or will not return to the earth until the Church has taken control of at least a significant portion of human government and social institutions. Whether this incorporates belief in a worldwide theocracy, or theonomy, or the subjugation of individual secular states to the authority of the Church depends upon the particular brand of Dominion Theology one holds. Whether the Lord will return immediately after the Church has taken control or after it has been in control for some time up to and including the end of the Millennium, is likewise dependent upon individual beliefs. Again, not all who espouse these teachings overtly identify themselves with any segment within Dominion Theology. Yet each of these teachings is peculiar to Dominion Theology and contrary to sound, biblical exegesis. So, while some dominion teachers stress some teachings over others, they are all propagating errors that are leaving the Body of Christ open to great deception. Whether or not these teachers propagate the full gamut of Dominion Theology is not as important as the fact that they have adopted these unscriptural beliefs and are spreading them throughout the Church by way of the mass communications media and special pastors' conferences which subtly educate Christian leaders to the heretical doctrines of Dominion Theology. We should therefore be cautious of what we hear from these people.Does It Really Matter?
Some might question if it's really important whether someone believes that Jesus will not return until the Church has taken dominion over the earth. This is a legitimate question to which I must respond that, in terms of salvation and spiritual growth overall, it isn't important. I have friends who hold a post-millennialist viewpoint and I count them as brethren in Christ. I welcome fellowship with them and we engage in honest (and spirited) dialogue in a spirit of love. Perhaps the reason we get along so well is that we are willing to listen to each others' viewpoints and recognize that there are strong and weak arguments on all sides of the issues. A postmillennialist stance doesn't necessarily mean a desire for world domination. And they are not so closed-minded to the possibility that the world cannot survive much longer unless the Lord does intervene with His personal presence. No, the problem doesn't lie in the basic tenets of the faith. We will find that many dominion proponents agree with us on the essential doctrines involving the natures of God, man, and Satan, as well as salvation through the shed blood of Jesus, etc. It does appear, however, that some - particularly in the "Word-faith Movement" among charismatics - are straying from sound doctrine in some of these areas of late. The basic problems with dominion teaching lie more in the realm of Church life and the authoritarian structure necessary to implement and maintain a dominion mindset. This is evidenced by cultish tendencies that rob individual believers of a true understanding of their personal relationship with the Father. It requires that nothing of a spiritual (and often material) nature be undertaken without the approval of one's "covering." There are also dangers in the elitist mentality that naturally progresses from the idea that somehow, due to God's grace or one's own sense of righteousness, human life apart from those numbered among the elite becomes cheap. An additional problem is that followers of Dominion Theology are easy prey for political extremists. There are those who play upon the concerns of all Christians who naturally desire to see eradicated such evils as abortion, pornography, child abuse, drug dealing, and crime in general. The fact that many in the "Christian right" are already united with Sun Myung Moon and the Mormon Church, is sufficient reason to suspect that, in the long run, no theocentric form of government will reflect the true biblical pattern for society. Morality and righteousness are wonderful traits when manifested as a result of Spirit-filled living. When manifested as a result of religious fervor (the "good" portion of the tree of knowledge of good and evil), these traits become precursors to a totalitarian state. We would do well to take a lesson from history and remember that Hitler made his plea for acceptance of Nazism based upon a platform of anti-communism, anti-homosexuality, patriotism, and morality. Many German Christians rejoiced when he assumed power. In light of these dangers we must identify the sources of Dominion Theology so that the Body of Christ may at least be cautious of involvement. Naturally, if someone desires to believe in Dominion Theology that is their business. When they teach it publicly, it becomes everybody's business and they should be willing to have their teachings exposed to testing by the Word of God. Now, in order to do justice to this very complex subject, it is necessary that we name names. Some will find this distasteful and will perceive it as a personal attack against men and women of God with whom I disagree. On the contrary, it is my position that we must be careful not to condemn those who are caught up in this modern heresy, but we should lift them in prayer, recognizing that God's grace is extended to all. Some dominion proponents may be deceivers engaged in a power struggle for personal gain. Some may also have designs on leading the Church into areas of compromise with political extremists on the right. But I believe some are brethren in Christ who sincerely perceive that they have a biblical mandate to bring the world systems under the control of the Church. It would be a mistake to look upon all such people as our enemies just because they hold a different eschatological viewpoint. Granted, the dominion viewpoint is dangerous in many of its implications. But let's not think there is nothing we can learn from them. As with all spiritual matters the truth lies somewhere between two extremes. There are problems with the dispensationalist point of view that the Church has ignored for too long, thus creating an atmosphere of credibility for Kingdom Now Theology. If, in our zeal to "expose" those in error, we obtain a certain amount of glee in discovering their feet of clay, we'd best take heed to ourselves and question whether our motive is really based upon love. We may rightly quote Jude 3 as justification for earnestly contending for the faith, but if we forget I Corinthians 13 we are no more free from error than those whose errors we expose.
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