From Martin G Selbrede’s The Blessing of Dominion Theology
Dominion theology is equated with the yoke of bondage, to be repudiated and thrown off without further thought. That its critics might actually be echoing the raging nations so intent on bursting Christ’s bands asunder and casting His cords from them (Ps. 2:3) is summarily discounted. But there is a world of difference between saying you have a strong Biblical case and actually making good on that claim. To that end, let us consider the Biblical testimony regarding the relationship of blessing to the matter of dominion theology.
Why any believer would choose to imitate the rotting & dying Christ-hating nations is beyond me.
This near-universal tendency to malign dominion theology introduces a peculiar pathology: distancing oneself from dominion theology entails distancing oneself from the Bible. Whether done out of deliberation or ignorant inconsistency, the result is equally crippling.
Note that bit: “distancing oneself from dominion theology entails distancing oneself from the Bible.”
Now, of course I expect Secularists and Muslims to pour contempt on the Bible, eager to hold up some other standard – any other standard – as supreme.
It’s disgusting to see Christians follow in their footsteps, though.
Critics seem to think that dominion theology implies taking the existing massive government we currently have and forcibly installing Priests, Preachers, and Pastors (the Three P’s) at the top to run the show. Given the track record of the Three P’s, this is an admittedly unattractive option.
You’d better believe it!
Especially when you realize that today’s anti-Christian societies are the natural fruit of the seminiary-trained pastors and priests. The natural cultural result of the decades and centuries of their quiet Christ-denying rebellion, rooted in in the unBiblical institution of the seiminary.
It’s also an imaginary scenario with no foundation in fact, used to scare people away from dominion theology by invoking images of an American Taliban.
Islam is all about hating the Filthy Kaffir: Secularism is all about the arbitrary, supposedly unlimited power of the State; Christianity is about the redemption of the world.
(And the universe as a whole, as the title of this blog suggests!)
The truth be told, dominion theology goes the other direction entirely in its consistent call for decentralization of power.
That’s because dominion theology is about gaining the future, not rigidly holding on to the dead past.
Modern man confuses the concept of dominion with domination, for in humanism the two are synonymous. In actuality, the ideas are radically different, but Christians often fail to discern the difference. As R. J. Rushdoony points out,
The Christian can never exercise sovereign power. As David tells us, “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God” (Ps. 62:11). At most, the Christian can exercise delegated power. His truest power comes from faithfulness to every word of God (Matt. 4:4). God’s law-word gives man the way to dominion, and dominion is not domination. Domination is the exercise of lawless power over others. Dominion is the exercise of godly power in our God-given sphere. The rejection of God’s sovereignty leads to domination; the affirmation of God’s sovereignty and His law is the foundation of dominion.3
Oppression is a waste of resources, a waste of time, a waste of energy. A self-serving, idolatrous, lawless distraction from our holy duty, to love God, to love our neighbour, to extend a creative and invigorating dominion over the entire earth.
The Psalm One Bait and Switch
Psalm One, at the head of the Psalter, pronounces a blessing. This Psalm is all about blessing, in fact, and it premises the blessing that it promises on certain specific things. This Psalm is fairly clear about what those things are. The language isn’t muddled or vague.
The reason the verse gets tweaked is not to introduce clarity to a vague verse, but to rob the Psalm of clarity and introduce vagueness where there was none before. This is the principle of the Psalm One Bait and Switch.
Blessed is the man who … meditates on God’s law day and night. By way of the bait and switch, the last clause becomes transmuted, in sermon after sermon, into “meditates on God’s Word.” That’s Step One of the bait and switch. Step Two happens when the term “God’s Word” is shifted entirely OFF the law that the psalmist mentions onto passages of the New Testament where the law isn’t the topic of discussion at all. The bait and switch completely reverses the intent of David the psalmist with absolute impunity. This is conservative Biblical scholarship?
Establishment ‘conservative Biblical scholarship’ is a laugh and a joke.
But you knew that already.
I mean seriously: when was the last time Christian universities and seminaries produced anything but third- and fourth-rate work?
And then Christians whine about being the tail of the society, and not the head. About being sent to eat the scraps that fall of the table of our Secularist overlords.
Leadership takes work. It takes obedience to God’s revealed Law-Word.
Leadership requires the promise of victory – in time and on earth – and the willingness to sacrifice for the Crown Rights of Jesus Christ.
How can the blessing arise when the stated cause of the blessing (meditation on God’s law) has been arbitrarily struck down by our pastors and seminary professors? You, the flock of God, are then forced to choose between the authority of the scribes and the authority of God Himself on the matter.
When the scribes turn against God and His Word, it is time to toss the scribes into the streets.
Let the rebellious beg for the approval of the atheistic elite, and sup at the table of their masters.
Blessing and Cursing Are Indexed to Law, Justice, and Righteousness
The list of Scriptures that link blessing with obedience to God’s law, and cursing with rebellion against His statutes and precepts, is a long one. They dovetail perfectly with Psalm One.
Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands. (Ps. 112:1 NIV, emphasis added)
Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. (Ps. 106:3 NIV, emphasis added)
Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law (Psalm 94:12 NIV, emphasis added)
See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse; the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today (Deut. 11:26–27 NIV, emphasis added)
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. (Prov. 29:18 NIV, emphasis added. See also Deut. 27:26, 28:1, 30:19; Josh. 8:34; Ps. 119:1–2, 21; Luke 11:28; James 1:25)
Dominion theology’s emphasis on the law of God as a source of blessing is hardly an idea foisted onto the Bible. The Bible itself witnesses to this association, and does so consistently. Although the Bible condemns the idea that justification can be secured by keeping the law (an idea that finds no support in either Old Testament or New), it magnifies God’s law as the pattern of sanctification for the redeemed to walk by.
If you want to win in God’s Creation, you have to play by His rules.
You know… the rules our church leaders have spent the last century defacing and obliterating.
The results of their handiwork, you can see in the society all around you.
Tired of losing? Dump the losers.
An end to Kingdom-shrinking churches!
Blessing and Work
There is no more distinctive component to dominion theology than its emphasis on work, the primary domain where dominion is to be exercised. Work includes vocation, but much more as well. Competing theologies call upon man to enter into a holding pattern, often teaching that little can be achieved in such spheres since Christians are not called to exercise godly dominion therein. Dominion theology sees work, godly labor in all spheres and discipline, as God’s ordained means of extending His dominion “from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth” (Zech. 9:10).
The association of God’s blessing upon dominion, upon work, is established early on at man’s creation, in Gen. 1:28, where blessing and dominion are tied together. Too many theologians today are anxious to cut God’s people off from this connection, on the assumption that work is now an irrevocably cursed activity and that (by implication) dominion theology can never bring a blessing since a fountain can’t bring forth both salt water and fresh water (James 3:12).
Such an anti-dominion stance would have been easier to establish had there not been continued testimony to God’s blessing being laid upon work done to His honor and glory (the basis of dominion theology’s approach to all labor):
The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. (Deut. 2:7a NIV, emphasis added)
There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you. (Deut. 12:7 NIV, emphasis added)
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. (Deut. 28:5 NIV, emphasis added)
You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. (Job 1:10b NIV, emphasis added)
[H]ow blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free. (Isa. 32:20 NIV, emphasis added)
The blessings upon diligence are rife throughout the book of Proverbs. Dominion theology is nothing less than a theology of diligence, of total commitment to the King to bring all things in subjection to Him, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ in every realm, particularly in every work of our hands. Note the contrast between productivity and indolence reflected in Hebrews 6:
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Heb. 6:7–8 NIV, emphasis added).
Winners get to work. Moment by moment, day by day.
Year by year, generation by generation.
As Rushdoony adds, “[O]ur Lord describes quick growth as false (Matt. 13:5–6, 20–21).”5 The revolutionary call for instant growth, particularly in God’s church, leads to disaster for the preachers who pursue it: “Such men often do better at growing weeds than grain.”6 Dominion theology expressly condemns “the myth of victory by revolution,” the gospel of instant growth.7 As Rushdoony summarizes it,
Our Lord is very clear: the pattern of the Kingdom of God is like that of the earth which bringeth forth fruit of itself. There is an order and a progression from the seed, to the first green shoot to emerge, to the cultivated growth, and finally the harvest. Both time and work are essential.8
Slothfulness is the antithesis of dominion theology’s emphasis (see “The Ten-Toed Sloth” in my article The Perpetual Kindergarten for an exposition of Heb. 5:11 in this regard).9 A long-term vision pinned to vocation, to diligent labor in the fields ripe unto harvest (wherever we may find them), lies at the heart of dominion theology. When God finds His people so occupied, His blessings will be poured out “on the work of our hands,” so long as we’re working to self-consciously glorify Him in all (and dominion theology takes this to literally mean all) that we do.
To win, you can’t rely on the State to do your work, as the secularists do.
There is the slave-based society, as endorsed by Islam, but that doesn’t cut it in modern economic systems.
No. You have to roll up your sleeves, and get to work.
Dominion theology can see God’s judgments for what they are: God being the governor among the nations, now (Ps. 22:28).
Dominion theology ties the affairs of men and nations to God’s covenant of blessing and cursing. When competing eschatologies have seen plagues, wars, earthquakes, and famines, they’ve pointed to Matthew 24 … and, for twenty centuries, have been dead wrong in doing so. Dominion theologians see the same events and point to Deuteronomy 28. The covenantal blessings and curses tied to God’s law are thus relevant to dominion theology as it interprets history and how it moves toward the era when no man need teach his neighbor saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know Him, from the least unto the greatest (Heb. 8:11). Dominion theology teaches the widest possible extension of God’s blessing of any orthodox Christian theology. To question dominion theology’s relationship to blessing is disingenuous at best, dishonest at worst. Dominion theology is the theology of blessing, par excellence.
Deuteronomy 28: it’s the Law-Word of God, enforced.
The Buried Talent
If the message of dominion theology is unpopular, it’s because it affirms that far too many Christians have buried the talent. Dominion, by definition, entails taking what God has given us and working with it, being productive with it, and therefore multiplying God’s stake in it. Dominion theology is thus the antithesis of easy-believism and slothful conduct.
Perhaps more upsetting to dominion theology’s critics is the other implication of the position, namely, that such slothfulness is ultimately traitorous, for Christ’s Kingship is implicitly denied over anything we refuse to treat as His property.
Modern Christians don’t believe in the effective and powerful Kingship of Christ, right now.
They don’t believe that there is any penalty of treason, regardless of what is happening before their eyes… and what has been happening since at least 1914, when the West was crippled by the Great War.
They will receive a rude awakening. If they are wise, they will open their eyes and repent in this life.
Jesus gave many parables, on what God does to rebellious servants.
Two things, it is said, never sleep: God and rust. If we fail to labor on God’s behalf in His world on His orders, then rust will gain the upper hand. At the moral level, such slothfulness delivers victory notices to Satan stamped “won by forfeit.” The Christians refused to engage. Perhaps our troops spend too much time at pleasant retreats.
This is the offense of dominion theology: its message implicitly suggests that until we move in terms of dominion theology, we’re probably burying the talent and failing to redeem the time properly. Such a message, if true (and we believe it is), will be a tough sell if the champions of dominion theology are perceived to be caustic, judgmental, and harsh in their discourse. The challenge is to issue a clear wake-up call (1 Cor. 14:8) while not breaking a bruised reed or quenching a smoking flax (Isa. 42:3; Matt. 12:20). When men and women who take Scripture seriously are mature enough to strike this difficult balance, the blessings (Luke 12:43) that dominion theology preaches will overtake God’s church.
Obedience to Jesus Christ brings victory.
It is sufficient to note that the opening twenty verses in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1–20) break down into clear sections: a list of blessings, the salt of the earth, an impossible-to-hide city, an unquenchable lamp, and Christ’s canonization of God’s law as eternally valid. Our Lord had no difficulty putting a positive endorsement of God’s law in close conjunction to an extended pronouncement of blessings. The notion that any appeal to God’s law obliterates blessings is preposterous on the face of it.
While no scholar would dare dispute that blessings are iterated in the first twelve verses, no end of efforts have been made to evade the positive force of Matthew 5:17–18.
Far too many pagans, posing as Christians out there.
But do not fear: God will purge and purify His church.
Let all Dominionists stand with God on this matter, as with all matters.
The most compelling exegetical analyses of these critical verses were done by H. A. W. Meyer11 and Benjamin B. Warfield,12 whose respective seminal works are unlikely to be surpassed any time soon. Their century-old scholarship exposes modern antinomian evasions for what they are. Dominion theology has neither the desire nor the need to play fast and loose with the Greek text of this pivotal passage.
There is such passionate hatred of Divine Law in Christian circles…
…and not just in the leadership positions, either.
Blessing and Subjection
There is a proper place for humanistic thinking, and dominion theology makes room for it in its proper sphere. That proper sphere is what the Bible calls hell.13
Amen, and amen.
Humanistic thinking reflects the serpent’s call to Adam to be his own god (Gen. 3:5). Dominion theology finds no legitimate place in God’s church for humanistic thinking and holds that humanism’s days are numbered in the world, for whatsoever thing the Lord hath not planted shall be rooted up (Matt. 15:13). Hebrews 2:8 teaches that all things are put in subjection under Christ’s feet, despite the fact that we don’t yet see all things in subjection. Dominion theology works consistently for the advancing subjection of all things under the Lord Jesus, in accordance with the 2 Corinthians 10:4–5 command to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, following the growth pattern of Mark 4:28.
The Bible does not offer any blessing upon those who operate outside of God’s parameters, who think and act humanistically, beyond the orbit of God’s revealed law-word. Blessings can never be secured humanistically.
Whoever invokes a blessing in the land will do so by the God of truth; he who takes an oath in the land will swear by the God of truth. (Isa. 65:16 NIV, emphasis added)
When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way.” This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. (Deut. 29:19 NIV, emphasis added)
“If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.” (Mal. 2:2 NIV, emphasis added)
Thus saith the LORD, Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, that maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord … Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the LORD is. (Jer. 17:5, 7)
Some critics of dominion theology believe the position goes too far, that by applying the Word of God to everything dominion theologians have lost balance and turned God’s Word into an unnecessary burden. Apart from being out of harmony with St. John’s view of God’s commandments not being burdensome (1 John 5:3), these critics fail to appreciate that God’s law liberates whatever it touches, unchaining all things from sin and releasing them to freely serve and glorify their Author and Maker. In this, the critics are the ones unwittingly suppressing the blessing of God, a blessing that enriches without any sorrow being added to it (Prov. 10:22).
I like winning myself.
If you like winning as well, get with the only Lord and God who provides victories that are worth the sacrifice.
Who Shall Have the Preeminence?
Christ is to have the preeminence in all things (Col. 1:18). One would think this would be an uncontroversial position, but lo, it remaineth a bone of contention, even among orthodox Christians. But the relationship of this question to the matter of blessings eventually fans out into even more pointed questions.
Are we more blessed when Christ is denied the preeminence, when we deliberately pry His fingers off of all human enterprises?
Once again, I fully expect atheists, secularists, Moslem’s, and other Christ-haters to insist that God Just Shut Up.
When Christians commit to such hellspawn filth, though, they invite crushing judgement upon themselves.
Don’t do this.
Ought things then to be left to themselves? Is that God’s plan, that nothing really needs to bow the knee to Christ here and now, and that working now to expand His Kingship over all things brings a curse to the world?
Critics of dominion theology hold that the route to blessing lies elsewhere, not in working consistently with the premise that He shall have the preeminence in all things. To which I can only ask one final question:
How can Christ bless something over which He has no preeminence?
To gain God’s blessing, give Christ preeminence!