Monday, June 26, 2006

No More Dominionism

"The man who is being progressively sanctified will inescapably sanctify his home, school, politics, economics, science, and all things else by understanding and interpreting all things in terms of the word of God and by bringing all things under the dominion of Christ the King."

-R. J. Rushdoony

After 9/11 I believed that God had anointed America to be used in service to the Kingdom. Someone said that England had served in this capacity, sending missionaries around the world, until it turned away from God after World War II and then America inherited the mantle. Attendant to this belief in special blessing and special purpose was the caution that moral shortfalls would, as they did England, lose us God's favor.

While everything in the earth is the Lord's, and Paul does assert in Romans 13 that leaders serve (in some uncertain capacity, as I am not clear about the full meaning of what Paul is saying) with God's authority, there is absolutely no reason to believe that America is given special authority or blessing by God other than the fact that we say so in our anthems and pledges. Nor do we have any reason to believe that there is favor on us that is merited or unmerited by our moral goodness and acts of service. Or that any favor would come or not come through declarations of being a "Christian nation."

The majority of the people in this country self-identify as Christian--but that is not the same thing as asserting that we are a Christian Nation. Evangelical leaders who advocate a "Christian Nation" declaration in America have absorbed, to one degree or another, the Dominionist beliefs of R.J. Rushdoony, a Christian thinker who believed--see the opening quote--that believers should work through all organs of society to bring it into submission--or "under dominion"--to Jesus.

Scripture was used in the past to buttress "the Divine Right of Kings," a vile doctrine that stated that God favored absolute monarchy and hereditary succession. Scripture was used to provide moral cover for those who ruled men without their consent.

Today, scripture is used to pursuade believers that they should sieze the levers of power and use them to make the society and culture pleasing to God--meriting God's favor and ensuring his continued blessing. These days it seems that according to most evangelical leaders, God's blessings for America can only be assured if we ban gay marriage, post the Ten Commandments in public places and pass resolutions proclaiming America to be a Christian Nation. These are Dominionist issues, not Christian issues.

Prominent advocates of a Dominionist agenda (though I'm not aware that any of them actually use the term "Dominionist") are Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Judge Roy Moore and Dr. Jim Dobson. Mrs. Zeke is never pleased with me when I mention Dr. Dobson because of all the contributions that he has made to Christian families, but I only do so to point out that Dr. Dobson has been associated with Dominionist beliefs and that Focus on the Family has been used to advocate a Dominionist-like agenda. He's a familiar voice that's speaking up for the kinds of things Dominionists advocate.

I love this country and I consider myself both patriotic and a Christian. But I am establishing for myself a separation of faith and patriotism. I believe the doctrine of Dominionism is false and destructive to freedom and utimately harmful to faith as it pushes political agendas that cannot help but be confused with the agenda of Christ. Whether I vote for issues that Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives would identify with it should not be driven by what I think God wants for my country. I have only been given a mandate to live my life as God has called me to live it, and managing my own life is labor enough, filled with errors and false starts enough, without concerning myself with trying to conform my culture and country to my concept of what I think God would want. That means that while I think we are to demonstrate extraordinary mercy and compassion and to others, it doesn't follow that I should demand that my government be the vehicle of that mercy and compassion. Liberal Dominionist is still Dominionist. And Dominionism is something I believe we and America would be better off without.

"Christianity and Democracy are inevitably enemies." - R. J. Rushdoony


At 6:01 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Perhaps you and Mrs. Zeke should read James Dobson's War on America, by his former friend and V.P. if Focus on the Family, Gil Alexander-Moegerle.

It's quite eye-opening, and I think will give you further insight into why James Dobson is a dangerous (in the spiritual and political sense) man.

At 9:35 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

I always thought Dobson did a lot of good for families (who sought his help, that is). I still don't think he's evil, but I was very disappointed when he set up his political action organization apart from Focus. I remember him describing it as a way "to do what I want to do," without jeopardizing Focus on the Family.

Not good. You're on the mark here, Zeke.

At 4:49 PM, Blogger dufflehead said...

meaty . . .
lots of thoughts on this one. i gues the main question that comes to mind is, then, how is one to vote or does one even vote at all?

authority is given by the masses, not by God.

At 10:05 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

You don't think God plays a role?

At 10:16 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

With the way things are currently going?

God, I hope not. I wouldn't want to pin the current Administration's faults on Him.

We elected him (well, maybe), we should take responsibility.

A democracy (if we still live in one, anyway) is a lot different from a Kingdom or Empire, where the common people didn't get to vote for their leaders.

At 4:25 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

If I had asked the same question 7 or 8 years ago, when things were going swimmingly, would you have responded differently?

At 9:10 AM, Blogger dufflehead said...

probably not, but i can't remember if i was really even aware of politics and all 7 or 8 years ago. God doesn't put people into power. people put people into power.

At 7:41 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Seven or Eight years ago? When Clinton in charge?

I seem to remember a lot of church people (myself included) conveniently forgetting those bible passages about "pray for your leaders." It was more like, "I pray that the president will get the justice he so richly deserves, Lord. And make it quick, so we can get a GOP guy in there (you know, God's Own Party?)!"

And now? Now there's a special "Presidential Prayer Team" set up (just since Bush's first inaugiration) and there's never a peep in the e-mails about Bush getting the justice he deserves.

From where I was standing back in 1997, Clinton wasn't God's annointed, either. And I'm related to the guy!

At 7:09 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

What about kings or dictators? Does God have a role in putting them in power?

At 3:58 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

I'd say about as much role as I had in deciding what to eat for breakfast. Maybe less.

Let's not forget, Romans 13 is talking about governments being set up as a way to control evil. Not individually-appointed leaders getting a free reign to do whatever the hell they want. I think the point was more that people were abusing their freedom in Christ to break the laws of the land, and Paul was attempting to nip that thinking in the bud.

And Jesus made a spectacle of the power of government on the cross: it sent an innocent man to his death. Governments will be judged, too.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

I have a tendency to let big-picture and foreknowledge issues cloud my thinking when we talk about stuff like this. I wasn't really thinking about Romans 13. I was thinking about Saul. He screwed up royally (pun intended) again and again, and got worse as he went, but God selected him to be king anyway. So did God pick him despite the fact that Saul was a screwup or because of it? What are the contemporary implications?

I'm just thinking out loud.

At 6:34 PM, Blogger dufflehead said...

couple thoughts on that . . . it was the Israelites that wanted a king in the first place and then they "let God pick". if you take the old testament as written later to explain the way things were, then it kind of looks like whatever good or bad happened to the Israelites was God's fault.

the same perspective can be used for those with the view that God gives people diseases; you know "God's will"

i'm thinking that the phrase "God's will" is our inability to accept our own responsibilities for actions, inactions, decisions, and indecisions.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

This draws us into a discussion about the nature of God and whether He is actively and personally involved with His creation. One extreme is that God set things in motion and just let things happen as they may. The other end of the spectrum is that every keystroke of this comment was ordained before time.

I think a balance can be struck, but not without totally pissing off those at the ends of the spectrum.

At 9:34 PM, Blogger dufflehead said...

that's probably true . . .you won't piss me off though. to each their own. what were we talking about again?

sorry for the "statements that should be self-evident". i could find more examples of what i'm talking about though if you're interested.

i still would like to know how or if one should vote if one is to somehow seperate the God influence from their patriotism. i mean, i think i get where you're coming from, zeke, i think i just need a little more clarification.

At 5:57 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

I think there's a balance there, too, Pete. I think Christians should not leave their faith out in the car when they go into the voting booth, but that doesn't mean saying, "oh, I'm gonna vote for that guy because he's a Christian." I mean, I'm a Christian, but you would be a fool to vote for me.

That said, I don't really think there are many "Christian issues" that relate to this. Possibly abortion, but even that has become so politicized that anyone on either side who tells you they ONLY care about the women (or the babies) is telling a half-truth at best. Once you bring it into the political realm, it's about power and winning, plain and simple.

I didn't really answer your question. I guess I don't know the answer. hehe

At 7:03 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

What I object to is the notion that we need to fulfill "God's will for America" through political action. Point is, who the hell knows what God's will is for America? And how do we know that if we elect Christian leaders and promote a self-anointed Christian agenda that we will merit favor and blessings from above?

Paul said (and I paraphrase), Who are we to judge the world? Who are we to worry about whether meat is sacrificed to idols? What business is that of ours?

At 8:05 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

That's exactly right. No matter which end of the spectrum you're on, I think we can agree that if God does have a will for America, it's idiotic to think that we can discern it, let alone execute it. I can only be held responsible for my own faithfulness, not the nation's.

At 1:29 PM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Nations are judged by God. Churches are judged by God. Not just individuals.

True, only individuals can be "saved" (there is no authority in the Kingdom of God, except God--so nations and "churches" won't exist in Kingdom Come), but as members of nations and churches, we do have a responsibility to hold them accountable to that which they claim to be for, as much as we can. That's why we vote for our leaders, issues, etc. And that, at times, is why we protest (just like the prophets of old).

That doesn't mean I think America should be a Christian Nation, like Rushdooney. I just think it's important to make sure, to the best of my abilities, that America lives up to its own claims (...liberty and justice for all), and that the Church lives up to her claims (liberty and grace for all).

So yes, I agree with Zeke (I think we all agree with Zeke, right?).

Again, the problem is mixing up America with Christianity, or somehow equating the two. And that's what Dobson, Falwell, Rushdooney, et al. have done. Scary.


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