Christians are increasingly mobilised towards efforts of controlling and reforming the world by reminding them of their long-forgotten dominion mandate. This is particularly the case in the US and South Africa from where the global Transformations Movement is orchestrated. Disciples of Christ have allegedly, like believers in the Old Testament, neglected their biblical mandate to rule over the world and are now held directly responsible for the serious moral and spiritual crisis in which the world finds itself.
Joy magazine in South Africa is one of many voices challenging Christians to reclaim their God-given mandate which they have consistently shunned for almost two millennia. One of the recent wake-up calls by which believers are implored to assume their position as kings, can be seen in the Addendum below. The following comments are made to expose the weaknesses and wrong applications of the arguments in support of dominionism during the church age, and to offer the correct biblical perspective on the end-time revelation of God’s kingdom:
The nature and fulfilment of the dominion mandate
The original mandate to subdue the earth and have dominion over it (Gen. 1:26-28) was given before the Fall. It was based upon the assumption that human beings who were created in the image of God would always act in accordance with the divine nature which was instilled in them. As children of the light they were called upon to be co-rulers with God over His creation. However, the depraved nature of humanity after the Fall rendered them unfit to rule over the works of God’s hand. Profs. John Walvoord & Roy Zuck (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 29) say: “Because of sin all things are not under man’s dominion (Heb. 2:8). But Jesus Christ will establish dominion over all the earth at His second coming.”
In Hebrews 2:8 Paul further explains man’s present status: “You have put all things in subjection under his feet… But now we do not yet see all things put under him.” The fulfilment of the dominion mandate will be Messianic and eschatological. Christians are not in control of the world now and are nowhere commissioned to be so.
During the church age true Christians have always been a small minority in the world, and this situation will prevail until Christ comes (Matt. 7:14; Luke 13:23-24; John 3:19). We were called to be the light of a spiritually dark world and the salt of a morally corrupt earth (Matt. 5:13-14). As such we are in opposition to the works of darkness which are practised by the vast majority of unsaved people (Eph. 5:11). The world will hate and persecute us (John 15:18-19; 16:33) while we are shining as lights in the midst of a crooked generation (Phil. 2:15).
During the present dispensation we are not kings but witnesses for Christ who are often despised by the world. As soldiers for the cross we are admonished to put on the full armour of God to remain standing against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10-12). We have to contend against “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Even fellow-Christians will criticise and reject us when we raise the standard of holiness to the level expected of us by the Lord.
Spiritual warfare in the church age is clearly applied to individual believers. We are taught how to prevail over the temptations of Satan and to become spiritually strong in the Lord. We are definitely not commanded to expel Satan from communities, cities, regions or entire countries, thereby to deliver the world from demonic bondages and strongholds as a prelude to re-establishing the kingdom of God. The enemy might even laugh at organised mass-meetings as efforts to bolster power against him and make him flee from that area. He will be around until Christ comes to bind him in a pit and to establish the kingdom of heaven. Until that time we, as individuals, must stand fast in the liberty of Christ and always resist the devil.
Satan rules in the hearts of unsaved people. Since they are in the majority he has considerable influence on worldly affairs. We as Christians live in a hostile environment and must learn to do so victoriously until the Lord comes. Without succumbing to negativity we should rather expect more problems in the world than believing that we can physically establish God’s kingdom before the coming of Christ.
Judgement before the revelation of the kingdom
The Bible makes it very clear that the church dispensation will not usher in the kingdom of God on earth, but instead deteriorate to a point of unprecedented deception. This great falling away from the truth will prepare the way for the revelation and global acceptance of the Antichrist and his satanic kingdom. It may sound like a preposterous idea that Christian churches will apostatise to the level where they will accept “another Jesus” as the cosmic Christ of all faiths (cf. 2 Cor. 11:4; Rev. 13:3-4) but it will happen nevertheless. Scores of deceived Israelis will also follow and worship the false messiah (John 5:43). Despite their natural prejudice against religious ideas which are at variance with their interpretation of the Torah they will approve the credentials of this coming impostor who will pretend to be the promised son of David. Millions of nominal Christians will follow suit.
The Antichrist’s reign on earth (the tribulation period of seven years) will also be a time of divine judgement upon the wicked. The presence of the true church of Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit is withholding the revelation of the Antichrist and the outpouring of the wrath of God (2 Thess. 2:6-8). Soon after the bride of Christ has been taken out of the way by means of the rapture, the Antichrist will be revealed following the breaking of the first seal of God’s end-time judgements in heaven.
Dominionists utterly reject the prophetic scenario of a coming dark time in world history as it clashes with their kingdom vision. They brush aside biblical prophecies on a great falling away as being a sign of defeat against the onslaught of the kingdom of darkness, and set themselves the task of turning around the current process of apostatising. That is the reason why they do not warn believers against eschatological signs such as spiritual deception, perilous times that will come, the rise of the Antichrist, and the impending outpouring of God’s wrath.
By proclaiming their kingdom vision they give people false hope of better times ahead, leave them ill-prepared on what is to come, and generally weaken their resistance against evil powers. They teach their followers a wrong model of spiritual warfare aimed at removing territorial strongholds of the enemy, thus liberating society as a whole from demonic bondage, instead of applying the principles of the pulling down of strongholds to their personal lives.
Furthermore, dominionists are prone to the spiritual dangers of the ecumenical movement. Their kingdom-now objectives demand the collaboration and ultimate unification of all Christian churches and sects to form a united front against the enemy. They do not stand very strong on doctrinal principles so as not to offend their partners who may hold different ideas. Consequently, they build their kingdom upon a very shaky theological foundation and are open to all sorts of fanciful interpretations of Scripture. The dispensational context of the Bible is ignored and they often transfer to the church dispensation promises meant for the future Messianic state.
The Bible categorically states that the church dispensation will be followed by the dispensation of the Antichrist’s rule on earth, which will also be the time of judging and destroying the wicked. At the end of the tribulation Christ will return for the final judgement of the wicked at the battle of Armageddon. He will also bind the devil in a bottomless pit for 1000 years and then establish His thousand-year reign of peace with Jerusalem as capital. To give people a kingdom vision before the coming of Christ, is to completely confuse them by the grave distortion of Biblical prophecies.
Israel’s Messianic kingdom
Another strong point of criticism which can be levelled against dominionists is the fact that they generally give no recognition to the physical, political and spiritual restoration of Israel in their God-given land. The promises made to Israel are applied to the church age, including those on the Jews’ return to the Promised Land. Joy concludes their article by saying, “Church of Christ we have a Promised Land to enter. We have a preferable future for our country. But we have to step out to possess the land. Rise up Church of the Most High God, take up your shield of faith and reclaim the Dominion Mandate.” This is clear proof of replacement theology: Israel becomes the church and the world becomes the Promised Land over which the church should rule right now, before the coming of Christ.
Read the following article on Israel’s Messianic kingdom, in which it is clearly shown that the church is not heir to these promises: “Israel and the Messianic Kingdom: A Concise Exposition of Isaiah” (www.bibleguidance.co.za).
The Discernment Research Group offers extensive material on dominionism: see http://herescope.blogspot.com See also Sarah Leslie’s article, Dominionism and the rise of Christian imperialism on www.discernment-ministries.org/
In the comments above we have taken issue with the following article that was published by Joy magazine:
Addendum: Reclaiming the Dominion Mandate
Reprinted from Joy Magazine, RSA, Nov. ’09
The ‘Dominion Mandate’ is one of the most important assignments given to man by God. Tragically however, to a large extent, the Church seems to have moved the ‘Dominion Mandate’ down its list of priorities. The Dominion Mandate was handed down to mankind by God at Creation. In Genesis 1:26–28 we see God create mankind in His image and then delegate authority to them to subdue and rule the earth. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’
So God created man in His own image...Then God blessed them, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’.”
The responsibility of man
God created the Heavens and the earth and then handed the title deed of the earth to mankind. Genesis 3 records man’s disobedience to God’s specific instructions - causing sin to enter the earth and in so doing, losing dominion of the earth and transferring the title deed to satan.
Having deceived mankind into relinquishing the title deed, satan immediately takes control of the world system and institutes his diabolical plan to usurp God’s authority and destroy mankind. God, however, had made provision for man’s frailty and institutes His plan to rescue mankind from satan’s influence and restore the ‘Dominion Mandate’, including the title deed, to its original owners.
Redeeming the title deed
The plan of God established at the foundation of the world is the Cross of Calvary. When the last Adam, Jesus Christ, gave His life on the Cross, shed His Blood and then rose from the dead, He defeated satan, won back the title deed and restored the ‘Dominion Mandate’.
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Col 2:15. When Jesus paid the penalty for mankind’s sin on the Cross, He went into hell – stripped the devil of his power and disarmed him of the keys of sin and death. Those keys – that unlock the awesome power of God in the earth – were given to the Church to once again enforce the ‘Dominion Mandate’ and redeem what the devil had stolen from mankind.
The authority of Christ
In Matthew 16:18–19 Jesus declares, “... I also say to you, that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hades will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys for the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” The Church is the body of believers here on earth while the Kingdom of Heaven is made up of both the earthly and Heavenly realms. The Church is given full authority by Jesus – backed up by Heaven - to take back the ground subjugated by satan and to restore His rulership in the earth.
This means, the ‘Dominion Mandate’, originally given to the first Adam that he lost to satan and which Jesus redeemed at the Cross, is now the Mandate of the Church – the Body of Christ.
We are to rule and reign
Dominion is translated from the original Hebrew word ‘Radhah’ that means: to subjugate, to rule, to reign and to prevail against. The word subdue is translated from the Hebrew word ‘kabash’ which means to conquer, and to bring into subjection. Significantly, the institution God ordains to bring the earth back under His control is the Church. The earth belongs to God and He gave His Church the express mandate and the authority to restore His rule. Sadly, the Church has abdicated its responsibility to advance the Kingdom of God in the earth. The key to reclaiming the ‘Dominion Mandate’ is understanding our authority as Christians. It is impossible to reign, rule, or bring anything into subjection, without first exercising authority. Psalm 8:4–6 clearly illustrates God’s intention for mankind, “What is man that You are mindful of him...For You have made him a little lower than the angels and You have crowned him with glory and honour. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.”
Why are we surrendering?
Most of what is referred to as the Church today is confined to buildings and self-imposed Christian ghettoes from where the Body of Christ views the outside world with fear and disdain. Instead of taking hold of the ‘Dominion Mandate’ for which Jesus paid such a high price, the Church has retreated into the sanctuary, effectively surrendering the earth to the dominion of satan.
Godless philosophies are promoted at will in the public square without a response from God’s anointed leaders - who for the most part completely ignore the Scriptural imperative. The reality is that every thought and idea contrary to sound doctrine advanced in the public domain that remains unchallenged by the truth of God’s Word is accepted as ‘truth’. The enemy understands that if a lie is repeated often enough, it will eventually be accepted as fact. Homosexual activists operate by this principle. Homosexuals who represent approximately 2% of the population often repeat the lie they represent 10% of society. Lies and deception have immense potential to destroy individuals and nations. Why then do we ignore Scriptures like 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”.
We are in battle
The devil seems to be winning new ground while the Church of Christ retreats even further into its sanctuaries hoping the Lord will come and take us to Heaven out of here! But that is not going to happen, because the ‘Dominion Mandate’ does not include the option to hunker down fearfully in our religious cocoons hoping the bogey man will go away and leave us alone.
The devil will not leave us alone because he understands his assignment better than we do. Why are those who advance evil agendas in society more committed and passionate about their cause than those of us who have a direct mandate from God to promote righteousness? If the Bible tells us the weapons of our warfare are not carnal - it also tells us that we have weapons and that there is a war raging!
The evidence of this war and its casualties are reported daily in our news bulletins and newspaper headlines. The devil is launching unprecedented attacks against God’s most sacred institutions in the earth – namely marriage and the family. Because marriage and family are vital cornerstone institutions critical to society, the devil relentlessly attacks them knowing that if he breaks down the family unit entire societies collapse. Society is only as strong as the average family.
Church wake up to your role
But the Church is aware of this truth as well! Why then do we not have a strategy to defend the family? Why are we not focussing our attention where the devil is wreaking the most havoc? The Church is so pre-occupied with denominationalism, erecting buildings, and hosting conferences that it doesn’t seem to have time to formulate a strategy to defend the family.
The essence of the ‘Dominion Mandate’ dictates that the Church advances against the gates of hell and not the other way round. The time is now for the Church of Jesus Christ to refocus its energy and resources on reclaiming the ‘Dominion Mandate’. It is time to halt the retreat, sound the alarm and advance the Kingdom of God into every area of life. The time is now for every believer to get out of the pew, regain and exercise their authority in Christ, and enter the battle for the glory of God! When God sent Joshua to enter the Promised Land He gave him the following instructions (Joshua 1):
1. Arise and Go!
2. Wherever you place your foot, I have given you!
3. I will never leave you nor forsake you!
4. Be strong and of good courage!
5. Do not let the Word of God depart from your mouth!
6. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go!
7. Possess the land the Lord your God is giving you!
Church of Christ we have a Promised Land to enter. We have a preferable future for our country. But we have to step out to possess the land. Rise up Church of the Most High God, take up your shield of faith and reclaim the Dominion Mandate.