What was Adam and Eve’s original task? Was it to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with people who would deny God and His ownership of and authority over everything? Not at all. Of course, the fall disturbed the original plan, but the plan has not changed. The world does not belong to God’s highest creation or the devil.
In Matthew 28:18–20 Christ, after stating that He (not the church) has all authority in heaven and on earth (v. 18), commands the church to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them (vv. 19–20).
But Robert Bowman leaves out an important element of the Great Commission: We’re to teach these disciples “all” that Jesus commanded. If we limit the “all” to the “words of Jesus in red” or only the gospels, then we can’t include the book of Acts and the epistles of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. Since Jesus is God, all that Jesus commanded is everything in Scripture. Paul said as much (2 Tim. 3:14–17).
Mr. Bowman says that “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Jesus (not the church). There’s certainly nothing to disagree with here. I don’t think you will find a Reconstructionist who would advocate anything different. But there is such a thing as “delegated authority” based upon the authority Jesus has. Certainly, the devil doesn’t have “all authority,” and yet many Christians act as if he does.
Parents exercise legitimate authority over their children even though all authority has been given to Jesus. This is why children are instructed to obey their parents “in the Lord” (Eph. 6:1). Jesus is the “head of the church,” and yet we are told to obey our leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over our souls, as those who will give an account (Heb. 13:17). The civil magistrate exercises legitimate authority even though all authority has been given to Jesus. This is why “he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God” (Rom. 13:2). Bowman’s doctrine assumes a passive church in the light of God’s dominion. We could just as easily say that God is the one who saves people, so why should Christians go out to save people? We know that God saves sinners, so we have confidence that our efforts to save sinners will be successful. Who led the Israelites out of Egypt? God or Moses? (Ex. 14:31). The same question can be asked about dominion. Who has dominion? God or man? Since Jesus exercises dominion (Jude 24–25), we know that our efforts will be successful in exercising the delegated dominion He has given to each of us.
It is Christ who rules, Christ who takes dominion — not the church.
Again, who would disagree with this? Not me. Who has said anything different? Ray Sutton writes:
So it is God who is triumphing on the earth, not man. It is God who has transformed the world, not man. It is God through His matchless Grace that completes the change, not man through his sinful works. (Ray R. Sutton, “Covenantal Postmillennialism,” Covenant Renewal 3:2 (February 1989), 2. Online here.)
Jesus rules parents and children, and fathers and mothers rule their children as God’s representatives. Jesus rules the church, and elders rule the church as God’s representatives. Jesus rules the State, and civil representatives rule in terms of God’s limiting directives. Jesus delegates authority (dominion) to man in his various domains. Man rules because God rules. Man is created in the image of the dominion-God. It’s only when men deny that it is “Christ who takes dominion” that tyranny rules.
Bowman goes on to write:
The promise of an earthly dominion in which the redeemed rule is biblical (Rev. 5:10; 20:6; 22:5). However, whether one interprets the earthly reign of the redeemed in a premillennial, amillennial, or postmillennial fashion, this reign is not the result of Christians struggling to take dominion over political and economic institutions. Even in classic postmillennial thought the Christianization of worldly institutions during the Millennium will be a by-product of the success of the church’s mission to make disciples of all peoples, not a result of a direct attempt by the church to take over these institutions.
Mr. Bowman told his readers that “Kingdom Now” and Christian Reconstructionists “understand ‘taking dominion’ rather differently.” He wrote that “the Reconstructionists envision a gradual, pervasive transformation of human institutions in the wake of worldwide conversion to orthodox Christianity.” This comes about by changed lives and Christians living out their faith according to God’s moral standards.
There is no forced dominion. Using the slogan “taking dominion” is the Reconstructionist’s reaction to the non-involvement espoused by many Christian leaders for the last 70 years. Christians are told to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Even given the opportunity every two years, many Christians do not get involved politically to curb the tide of governmental overreach at the civil government level. The voting booth is open to all adult citizens, and yet Christians have to be coerced to vote. Christians have the option of sending their children to Christian schools. Ninety percent of Christian parents send their children to public (government) schools. The incidence of divorce and abortion among Christians is no lower than that of the general population. There is nothing unAmerican or unbiblical about taking “over these institutions.” It’s the American constitutional way! Any worldview has the freedom and opportunity to control the political process (or any process) if it gains enough support for its perspective. Christians could overturn Roe v. Wade at the next election if they entered the political process opened to every citizen. The monetary crisis in our land could be averted if Christians tithed and stayed out of debt and voted for representatives who understood the State is not our savior. But Reconstructionists do not believe any of this will happen until Christians become self-consciously motivated. This will take time and education. So then, “taking dominion” is simply the opposite of quietism and passivity. “Taking dominion” is seizing opportunities that already exist. There is no need to create new ones.
The church has a mandate to “take dominion.” Taking dominion, properly defined, is an inescapable concept. Someone is always taking dominion and defining what that means. There is more than one mandate in Scripture: from “love your neighbor as yourself” to “make disciples of every nation.” But as has been pointed out, dominion comes through service and faithfulness, not triumphalism.
When Christians “serve” the world, they will be seen as “benefactors,” wanting nothing in return but to bring glory to God. Dominion will then be established progressively over time, not through oppression, but through faithful service…. The task for the Christian is to be “light” in a world of darkness. How does he do this? Again, he serves. For what purpose? To extend the dominion of Jesus Christ into every area of life, a dominion that is His by divine right, a dominion that He shares with His subordinates. (Gary DeMar and Peter J. Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity: A Biblical Response to Dave Hunt (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1988), 25. Available at AmericanVision.org)
The Reduction of Christianity
New-Age thinking has swept over the modern Church in a tidal wave of heresy, error and seduction. A number of valiant defenders of historical Biblical orthodoxy have risen to the challenge, most notably Dave Hunt. Unfortunately, while ably sounding the alarms and capably rousing the troops, Hunt and many of his colleagues have reduced the breadth and depth and power of the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. Unwittingly, they have offered the Church a shrunken and truncated version of the Gospel.Buy Now
Mr. Bowman writes that he disagrees “with those who criticize any attempt to establish ‘the rule of the righteous.’” Isn’t this “taking dominion”? Couldn’t this be construed as “Christians struggling to take dominion over political and economic institutions”? Is it possible that someone might assume that this is a “direct attempt by the church to take over these institutions”? Mr. Bowman, in his attempt to be cautious, has become somewhat double-minded.
My point is that the church’s main responsibility is evangelism and discipleship, not political activism. Christians should exercise righteous “dominion” when the opportunity presents itself, and doing so does not require compromise with Christian principles.
Reconstructionists agree that the church’s first and main responsibility is evangelism and discipleship, not political activism. Keep in mind that Reconstructionists do not advocate a “political mandate,” but a “dominion mandate” that includes all areas of life, including, but not limited to, politics. We also ask the question, “What does a person do once he or she is evangelized and he or she has another sixty years of life to live for Christ before he or she dies? Well, they are to evangelize, be discipled, and to disciple others. But what does discipleship include? Everything Jesus commanded. We produce biblical worldview material designed to help Christians understand their dominion role. This is one of the reasons it’s called Christian Reconstruction. We are involved in the discipleship process. There will be no reconstruction unless Christians bring it about.
Mr. Bowman tells us that “Christians should exercise righteous ‘dominion’ when the opportunity presents itself.” Is anyone advocating “unrighteous dominion”? Yes, the enemies of Jesus Christ and His law. As I’ve already stated, there are dozens of opportunities every day to exercise dominion. How many more opportunities do Christians need before they will act? But wait a minute! Mr. Bowman has been telling us that there is no command for “Christians to take dominion.” I suppose that “exercising” dominion and “taking” dominion should be distinguished. And as always, Christians will never be successful anyway, at least before Jesus’ return, something we’ve heard for nearly two millennia with disastrous results.
Apologetics 101: Defending the Christian Faith
Apologetics 101 is an in-depth study of defending the Christian faith. The Greek word apologia simply means 'defense,' and apologetics is the art and act of giving a defense. Christian Apologetics then is the art and act of defending the Christian faith, not a proof of God in general. The Christian apologist must be ready to answer truth claims about the Bible, not claims about Hinduism, Islam, or any other false religion. The Bible makes the bold claim that Jesus is the ONLY way, and the Christian apologist must set his sights on the Bible alone, not on a defense of arbitrary theism.Buy Now