The Internet has been all abuzz with articles condemning a brand of Christian activism called “Dominionism.” Even Rush Limbaugh got into the act when he discussed the conspiratorial fear of the Left on the topic of “Dominionism” during his May 2, 2005 show. The discussion was prompted by a series of articles that appear in the May 2005 issue of Harper’s Magazine. It seems that anyone who believes that Christians should actually take their faith seriously enough to bring about cultural and moral change in America and around the world is a “Dominionist.”

The way the Harper’s articles explain “Dominionism” is so extreme as to be laughable, but as we know, definitions are everything. “Red Meat” journalism sells. Christian “Dominionists” are linked to Adolf Hitler and fascism. “Dominionists” want to reinstate slavery and rule by genocide.[1] Where do they get this stuff? As long as Christians only talked about dominion, they were ignored by the radical Dominionists on the left (more about them in a moment). Now that Christians are actively exercising their own brand of dominion—theologically, legally, and constitutionally—leftist Dominionists are frantic. Here’s how I defined dominion in a book that Peter J. Leithart and I wrote in 1988:

The exercise of this dominion is ethical. It does not come automatically, nor is it imposed top-down by a political regime or by an army of Christians working frantically to overthrow the governments of the world. Such a concept to dominion is rather the essence of secular humanism: the religion of revolution. God’s people exercise dominion in the same way that Jesus exercised dominion–through sacrificial obedience and faithfulness to the commandments. Dominion comes through service.[2]

More Christians are beginning to believe that when civil government is doing something evil (e.g., legalizing abortion and redefining marriage and the family), Christians have a duty and a right to act on that belief and work for change as they did to abolish the slave trade. William Wilberforce wrote in his diary on October 28, 1787: “God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the Reformation of society.”[3] This is “Dominionism” in action.

Lewis H. Lapham, the editor of Harper’s Magazine where the anti-“Dominionist” articles appear_,_ refers to a twelve-page manifesto published by the National Association of Evangelicals in March of this year that describes the concept of dominion based on Genesis 1:26–28.[4] Where has Mr. Lapham been? His fact checkers and researchers have let him down. The “dominion mandate,” as it has been called, has been around a long time. It was not created to prop up the Bush Administration. In 1988, Henry Morris set forth a theology of dominion in his book _The Biblical Basis for Modern Science_. According to Morris, the “dominion mandate” (his usage) includes science, technology, the humanities, commerce, law, civil government, and education, in short, every facet of human culture. Morris notes:

[L]ong before [the Great Commission] another great commission was given to all men, whether saved or unsaved, merely by virtue of being men created by God in His image. It also had worldwide scope, and has never been rescinded. It had to do with implementing God’s purpose in His work of creation, just as Christ’s commission was for implementing His work of salvation and reconciliation.[5]

Morris says that the command to subdue the earth means “bringing all earth’s systems and processes into a state of optimum productivity and utility, offering the greatest glory to God and benefit to mankind.”[6] So then, there is nothing unusual about advocating dominion based on Genesis 1:26–28. By the way, the “dominion mandate” was never conceived to allow for the rape of the environment. Dominion is a form of stewardship under God.

There is a theological and logical relationship between the “dominion mandate” of Genesis and the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18–20. Dr. Harold John Ockenga, in his Introduction to Carl F. H. Henry’s 1947 watershed book The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, writes:

A Christian world- and life-view embracing world questions, societal needs, personal education ought to rise out of Matt. 28:18–21 [sic] as much as evangelism does. Culture depends on such a view, and Fundamentalism is prodigally dissipating the Christian culture accretion of centuries, a serious sin. A sorry answer lies in the abandonment of social fields to the secularist.[7]

“Dominionism” has been around a long time. Few people actually paid much attention to the concept since Americans had embraced a moral worldview based on the Bible. No one was advocating dominion in the name of the Bible since most American laws were compatible with the Bible. It’s only when Leftist “Dominionists” began to control the schools, courts, media, and the seats of political power that Christian “Dominionism” gained some attention.

“Dominionism” is an inescapable concept. Liberals have been practicing their own brand of “Dominionism” for quite some time. The Left claims that Christian “Dominionists” want to reinstate slavery and rule by genocide. This is nonsense. Modern welfare is state-sponsored slavery formulated by Leftist “Dominionists.” Consider the subtitle to Star Parker’s book Uncle Sam’s Plantation—How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It. She understands the nature of government-sponsored slavery since she lived as a slave on Uncle Sam’s plantation and experienced its dehumanizing effects firsthand.[8] Lapham quotes Mark Twain’s evaluation of the Old Testament as “bloody vengeance upon harmless calves and lambs and sheep.” Abortion is legalized genocide that has resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of preborn babies. Twain and Lapham weep for dumb animals and rejoice over a mother’s “right” to kill her preborn baby. What’s wrong with these people?

Instead of going after peace-loving Christian “Dominionists” who want the moral center put back in America, the hyperventilating attack dogs on the Left should police their own junkyard and rid it of their culture killers. And while they’re at it, they might want to spend more time on that other threat to America and the world—Muslim extremists who want us all dead.


[1] For an analysis of the Harper’s Magazine articles, see Stanley Kurtz, “Dominionist Domination: The Left runs with a wild theory,” National Review Online  (May 2, 2005):
[2] Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, TX:  Dominion Press, 1988), 24–25. [3] Quoted in Peter Hammond, Slavery, Terrorism, and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat (Cape Town, South Africa: Christian Liberty Books, 2005), 12–13. [4] Lewis H. Lapham, “The Wrath of the Lamb,” Harper’s Magazine (May 2005), 7. [5] Henry M. Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984), 41. “The responsibility of administering capital punishment is the greatest responsibility of human government. It implicitly entails the obligation also to control those human actions which, if unchecked, could easily (and often do) lead to murder (e.g., robbery, adultery, slander, greed). The dual role of government is that of both protection and punishment—protection of the lives, property, and freedoms of its citizens, and just retribution on those citizens who deprive other citizens of life, possessions, or liberty” (45–46).
[6] Morris, The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, 41. [7] Harold J. Ockenga, “Introduction,” in Carl F. H. Henry, The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1947), 14. [8] Star Parker, Uncle Sam’s Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America’s Poor and What We Can Do About It (Nashville: WND Books, 2003).