An Examination of Kingdom-, Dominion-,
and Latter Rain Theology
An Examination of Kingdom Theology - Part 3/3
The concept of "dominion" as it applies to Kingdom Now Theology holds that Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken control of the earth's governments and social institutions. The following are among the more visible proponents of that belief:Earl Paul
(Pastor of Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Atlanta, Georgia):Gary North
In Paulk's own publication he is touted as a "prophet" of today's Kingdom Message:
If there is a prophet today who speaks the truth God wants His Church to hear, it is Earl Paulk. He is the leading voice today in preaching the message of the Kingdom of God...a man driven compulsively to show this generation that God is waiting for us to do something that will bring Christ back to earth.
Christ in us must take dominion over the earth...The next move of God cannot occur until Christ in us takes dominion.
The next move of God will unite His Son in marriage. The marriage supper of the Lamb, the completion of establishing the Kingdom, the eternal rule of God, will finally take place.
Christ was one person, limited to ministry in only one place at a time. In order to minister as an omnipresent Spirit, Jesus relinquished His fleshly dimension with its limitations of time and place. He entered a higher realm of restoration and love by becoming an indwelling Spirit.Colossians 1:27), it in essence affirms that we are united with Him by the Spirit of God. He is "in us," and we are "in Him." It does not mean that He relinquished His fleshly dimension to become "an indwelling Spirit." He is, and always will be, "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). He is in a specific location, Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. (Yes, I'm sure He gets up and moves about.) He is in His resurrected 'body,' limited to place if not to time. The Holy Spirit - the Third Person of the Trinity - is omnipresent. It is 'He,' not the person of Jesus, who is the indwelling Spirit of all who truly believe in Jesus. This is more relevant to our study than may first appear. For without a proper Christology one cannot have a proper eschatology. In this case, Paulk sees Jesus as "an indwelling Spirit." On this basis he claims that the Church is the "ongoing incarnation of Christ." In that case, the church is now Christ, and all Scriptures pertaining to Christ's ruling on earth are really referring to the Church. We'll deal with this in more detail in another chapter. For now, let's consider Paulk's views on dominion.
When the apostles asked Jesus if He would now restore the political kingdom, He said, 'It's not for you to know the times or the seasons. But I will tell you what will take place in your life, and when you have received what I'll tell you about, you will be able to bring in the Kingdom of God.' How will the Kingdom of God be ushered in? In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, 'But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth.'
What are we waiting for? Why is Jesus waiting in heaven at the right hand of the Father? Who is He waiting for? He is waiting for you and me to become mature, for the Bride of Christ to become mature, so that He can come again. Did you know that God has done everything He can do? If anything else is going to be done, we're going to do it.
In Matthew 24:14, Jesus clearly says that He cannot return for His Bride until she has demonstrated the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the nations of the earth. Until the church can demonstrate the alternative Kingdom, Jesus cannot come again. God no longer has the authority to send Christ back to earth, because He will not circumvent His eternal plan. While no man knows the day or the hour, I can say with the authority of God that CHRIST CANNOT AND WILL NOT COME BACK UNTIL WE HAVE DEMONSTRATED THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM TO THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH. That task demands a mature church, which will have become an alternative to the kingdoms of the world. THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS ALL ABOUT AND JESUS CHRIST'S RETURN IS UP TO US.Revelation 20:2-21:5). Paulk has misread God's eternal plan by spiritualizing Matthew 24:14, which simply states,
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.It's one thing to preach the gospel of the kingdom; it's quite another thing to institute - or demonstrate - the kingdom. There is only one Gospel: the Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Within that Gospel is the "gospel" (good news) that Christ is coming again to establish His visible earthly reign. That is the "gospel of the kingdom" we are commanded to preach, not this counterfeit Dominion Theology which exalts man above what God intended.
(Reconstructionist author and publisher):David Chilton
The eschatology of dominion has once again revived, as it has not since the period of the American Revolution....This is not the end of the world. The Church is not about to be raptured. The humanists, occultists, and New Agers are about to see their world ruptured. This process could be delayed by God's external judgment on the West, but it cannot be delayed until Christ's return in final judgment. It will happen long before Christ returns in glory.(9) (Dominion Press, Tyler Texas). It is North's belief that David Chilton's 'Paradise Restored' is the most definitive, virtually irrefutable, book on dominion eschatology:
Dominion theology is the wave of the future. David Chilton has written the two primary eschatological manifestos of dominion theology. Whoever comes after him will inevitably be labeled a 'me, too' postmillennialist. Chilton has established the terms of the debate over eschatology for the next hundred years, at the very least.
(Reconstructionist author): Quoting Matthew 5:13-16, Chilton says:Pat Robertson
This is nothing less than a mandate for the complete social transformation of the entire world. And what Jesus condemns is 'ineffectiveness', failing to change the society around us. We are commanded to live in such a way that someday all men will glorify God - that they will become converted to the Christian faith. The point is that if the Church is obedient, the people and nations of the world will be discipled to Christianity. We all know that everyone 'should' be a Christian, that the laws and institutions of all nations 'should' follow the Bible's blueprints. But the Bible tells us more than that. The Bible tells us that these commands are the shape of the future. We 'must' change the world; and what is more, we 'shall' change the world.Matthew 5:13-16 is hardly "a mandate for the complete social transformation of the entire world." It is a mandate, yes, but it is a mandate that requires no more than that all Christians exhibit in their lives the reality of their faith in Christ. As a result of our witness many will be saved and brought into the Kingdom of God. But there is no mention of the social transformation of any nation let alone the entire world. Scripture tells us that, when Christ returns the nations will be arrayed against Him, not waiting to welcome Him (Revelation 16:14; 19:19). Whether anti-Christ is a man or a system (as proposed by dominion teachers), the fact remains that, when Jesus returns, the world will be under the rule of anti-Christ, not under the rule of the Church. What Chilton has done in spiritualizing Matthew 5:13-16 is hardly academically honest. In waxing eloquent for his eschatological bias he often makes a point of accusing those with whom he disagrees of making Scripture say what they want it to say. Has he not done the same? In quoting Matthew 28:19-20, Chilton goes against another of his own rules in assuming that nations, not just people, are to be discipled:
The Great Commission to the Church does not end with simply 'witnessing' to the nations. Christ's command is that we 'disciple' the nations - 'all' the nations. The kingdoms of the world are to become the kingdoms of Christ. They are to be discipled, made obedient to the faith. This means that every aspect of life throughout the world is to be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ: families, individuals, business, science, agriculture, the arts, law, education, economics, psychology, philosophy, and every other sphere of human activity. Nothing may be left out. Christ 'must reign, until He has put all enemies under His feet' (I Cor.15:25). We have been given the responsibility of converting the entire world.Matthew 28:19-20, it must be good for Matthew 24:9: "...ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." Therefore, everyone in every nation will hate all Christians. Ergo, no one will ever be converted. At least Chilton does see the need for the Church to clean its own house before attempting so grand a task as discipling the entire world.
...Our goal is world dominion under Christ's lordship, a 'world takeover' if you will; but our strategy begins with the reformation and reconstruction of the Church. From that will flow social and political reconstruction, indeed a flowering of Christian civilization (Hag.1:1-15; 2:6-10, 18-23).
The eschatological issue centers on one fundamental point: Will the gospel succeed in its mission, or not? Regardless of their numerous individual differences, the various defeatist schools of thought are solidly lined up together on one major point: 'The gospel of Jesus Christ will fail.' Christianity will not be successful in its worldwide task. Christ's Great Commission to disciple the nations will not be carried out.
...A good deal of modern Rapturism should be recognized for what it really is: a dangerous error that is teaching God's people to expect defeat instead of victory.Romans 10:17). To think that the Church or the Holy Spirit will have failed because the whole world isn't converted would be the same as to think we've failed because every person who hears the Gospel doesn't fall on his or her face in repentance. What's the difference if not everyone at a given moment is converted, or anyone throughout history is not converted. Somewhere, according to Dominion Theology, the Holy Spirit has failed, or the Church has failed. "But," some would say, "we don't expect every person to be converted; we just want to make sure their lives are conformed to Christian principles." Well, if not every person is converted, we will have less than total dominion, even if we can control their activities. The Holy Spirit will have failed just as He has "failed" to convert everyone who has ever lived. And as long as there are unconverted souls, the privilege to run society will be challenged. Ultimately there will be confrontation and the need to apply force to maintain control. Bloodshed and corruption (yes, even among "Christians") will be an ongoing result of religious domination. Even if we were to succeed in converting every soul and ruling society under God's spiritual direction, within two generations at the most, the rebellious nature of those to be born will manifest itself. Without the visible, tangible presence of Jesus and His 'resurrected' saints administering the Kingdom of God on earth, the world will be at the mercy of arrogant, religious autocrats whose own peculiar understanding of "God's will" will keep us under bondage.
(Founder and President of Christian Broadcasting Network) Pat Robertson is careful about revealing his belief in Dominion Theology. Robertson believes in a literal rapture of the saints, but not until there has been a great revival that will result in a godly society run by the Church. In his keynote address to the Dallas '84 convention for Maranatha Campus Ministries, Robertson made reference to the late John Lennon's song, 'Imagine,' in which Lennon imagined a world of peace wherein there was no religion to engender strife. Paraphrasing Lennon, Robertson said:
Imagine a world when no more little babies are slaughtered in the womb.Revelation 2:27). There cannot be, nor will there be, anything like a perfect society until only the saints of God in their resurrected bodies occupy the earth. That will take place after the Millennium and during eternity in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21). If Scripture does not promise any such society before then, what hope is there that, under the fallible rule of supposed "overcomers," even a substantial portion of sinful humanity will live righteously, voluntarily or otherwise? Robertson's error lies in his applying to the Church certain Old Testament Scriptures that promise the restoration of Israel out of captivity. He also believes that there is a raising of human consciousness toward righteousness in Christ. That belief, based upon a Gallup Poll commissioned by CBN, reveals a lamentable naiveté for one some believe astute enough to hold the highest office in the land:
Imagine a world where there are no more homes torn apart because of alcoholism.
Imagine a world where there are no more young men and young women spaced out and glassy-eyed on account of drugs.
Imagine a world when there are no more crime lords selling prostitutes, selling pornography, selling gambling devices, selling drugs, and stealing from legitimate business.
Imagine a world where nobody hates anybody any longer, where there is no more fighting and no more killing.
Imagine a world where you can walk down the streets of the city - or any city - safely at any hour of the day or night without fear of your life.
Imagine a world where there are no more dead bolts, and chains, and locks, and bars over windows.
Imagine a world where there are no more prisons - where there's no more violence.
Imagine a world where men and women [are] married in holiness and godliness, and women were not being used as cheap, exploitive [sic], devices to satisfy the lust of men. And imagine a world where there was no more perversion, and homosexuality, and lesbianism, but men and women functioned as God made them, where they brought up their children together in love, where there was no more divorce, and where little children knew who their mothers and fathers were.
Imagine a world where the Word of God was honored and people said, 'This is the answer to life's problems.' Hallelujah!
And Imagine a world where those who brought that book, and those who had the message of Jesus, were the honored representatives of society where men and women said, 'Welcome into our community; you have come with the Word of God.'
Now you say, 'That sounds like the Millennium.' Well maybe some of it does, but some of it we're going to see.
George Gallup discovered that something happened in America about four or five years ago. Because we said, 'We want you to go back and survey people and find out the difference of their attitudes today versus 1979 about religious matters.' George Gallup went to the campuses of America. He surveyed with extremely accurate testing methods the attitudes of college students on the campuses of America. Fifty percent of those on the college campuses said, 'We are more religious today than we were five years ago.' Of the general population, sixty percent of the people in America said, 'We are more willing to accept religious solutions to life than we were five years ago; we are more religiously inclined than we were five years ago; we are looking for answers from God more than we were five years ago; we are turning away from science, from humanism, from materialism, and we're saying, 'God, you've got to have an answer'. Now that's what America told Gallup and he in turn told us. Now what does that mean? Well what it means is we are on the verge of one of the greatest spiritual explosions in the United States that this world has ever known. That's what it means. It means that millions and millions of people are open to Jesus Christ.occultism from witchcraft to the human potential programs of EST, TM, Eckankar, and Summit, to the eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, and even most schools of modern psychology. While a later poll by Gallup found that there definitely is an increase in the number of people in the United States who profess to be "born again," their answers to questions about their lifestyles revealed that their values are just as worldly as the rest of society.(18) This is borne out by Pat Robertson's own attitude about how his CBN Bible, 'The Book,' was advertised when it first came out in 1984:
At the end of September we're going to start perhaps the biggest advertising blitz for this particular product that's ever been put behind any book in history. And we've even got guys like Bubba Smith to stand there and say, 'I read 'The Book'!'...And Donna Summers, and a couple of the stars from 'Dallas,' and one of them from 'Dynasty,' and all these are going to say, 'We read 'The Book'!' And reading the Bible, in America, may get to be one of the most 'in,' important things people do.
Somebody has got to sew some tents together, and sew some nets together, and get the literature together, and all the things that are needed to handle 400 million to a billion souls that are going to be saved in the next few years! I mean, it's a staggering task and God's going to give it to us! Someone has got to train the future leaders of this world, because God is going to put us in positions of responsibility. Let me ask you this question: Assume that the Lord took away from the governments of this city, this state, other states, the nation, all the ungodly and the sinners. Assume they were just taken away. What would happen then if He said to His people, 'Go in; it's yours'? I don't know how to run a sewage system - do you? How do you run these things? What do you do with a tax policy? What's the foreign policy of the United States, or of a state? How do you handle the various taxes and imports and duties? How do you run the various social welfare and social service operations? What about the welfare of great numbers of people? What about the major educational programs? And you could go on, and on, and on, and on. God's people have got to be ready for what He's going to do. It's one thing to sit here and say, 'Hallelujah! There's going to be a revival!' But what are you going to do when it comes? ...There has to be preparation; there has got to be training. There has to be a teacher corps ready to train young converts in the Lord. If you want to concentrate on something while you're here, concentrate on the plan you're going to have for the next five years. What's going to happen when all these things that we talk about take place? We will see them happen!Jeremiah 17:9). Robertson believes that revival will change the hearts of mankind to the degree that godliness will prevail upon the whole earth. Scripture tells us that toward the end of this age the love of many will grow cold because sin will abound (Matthew 24:12). While we know that "the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Proverbs 13:22), it is not a given that we will take over the world before Jesus returns. Though we may point to isolated testimonies of inheritance from sinners, we will not inherit the earth in its totality until after we stand before Jesus to receive our rewards for deeds done in the flesh (Romans 2:6; II Corinthians 5:10). Yet Robertson believes that Jesus will not return until after the Church has taken control of society and judgment has come upon the ungodly. In the meantime, we are to prepare ourselves to take dominion:
...Now what do you do? What do I do? What do all of us do? We get ready to take dominion! We get ready to take dominion! It is all going to be ours - I'm talking about all of it. Everything that you would say is a good part of the secular world. Every means of communication, the news, the television, the radio, the cinema, the arts, the government, the finance - it's going to be ours! God's going to give it to His people. We should prepare to reign and rule with Jesus Christ.
Pat Robertson was so concerned that his evangelist peers might think that he had switched to Chilton's version of postmillennialism that he wrote a personal letter to many of them (including one to me) in the summer of 1986 that stated that he had not adopted Chilton's theology. He mentioned 'Paradise Restored' specifically. Then he outlined his own views, in which, as a premillennialist, he somehow completely neglected to mention the Great Tribulation. That a doctrine so crucial to premillennial dispensationalism as the Great Tribulation could disappear from his theology indicates the effect that Chilton (or someone) has had on his thinking.... ...The change in Pat Robertson's thinking (and the thinking of many premillennialists) had begun several years before 'Paradise Restored' appeared. Rev. Jimmy Swaggart begins a highly critical article against 'kingdom now' theology, including Pat Robertson's version, with a lengthy excerpt from a speech given by Rev. Robertson on Robert Tilton's Satellite Network Seminar on December 9-12, 1984. This was several months before I handed Rev. Robertson a copy of 'Paradise Restored,' and about a month before the first edition of the book was published. He had already made the switch away from traditional dispensationalism.
Pat Robertson has presented a message so completely postmillennial in its tone that it is difficult to understand why he continues to insist that he is still a premillennialist. I have never seen a public pronouncement of any postmillennialist that is more detailed in its description of a coming era of external blessings. I know of none who thinks it is coming in the next few years, but Pat Robertson did, in late 1984.John 16:33). Eventually, when God ordains it, the earth will be ours as joint heirs with Christ. Until then we should not try to take for ourselves what He has not ordained for us to take. God allows evil to exist in the world, and it will continue to exist, if for no other reason than to test the hearts of men. He is the final arbiter of when evil will be done away with once and for all.
- Footnotes -