by Paul & Phillip D. Collins ©, May 18th, 2008
Dominionism: Marrying Christianity to the Kosmos
In John 18:33, Pilate asked Jesus, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” In John 18:36, Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world.” The original Greek word for “world” is kosmos, which connotes an arrangement, system, order, or government. Jesus was not expressing derision for the physical world, but with the usurious political systems that had come to dominate it. Some Christians have construed this response as a rationale for indolence and have embraced an apathetic brand of political abdication theology. However, Christian proponents of political abdication fail to consider the transliteration of kosmos and the historical background against which the term was invoked. Jesus was not condemning political activism. Instead, He was condemning the world’s political systems of that time, specifically the oligarchical model of the Roman Empire and its surrogate, the theocracy of the Pharisees.
That being said, there is another variety of so-called “Christians” that constitutes an equally extreme polar opponent to abdication theologians. This other polar extreme is known as “Dominionism.” While abdication theologians construe the Scriptures as a rationale for complete political abdication, Dominionists distort Genesis 1:28 to legitimize a purely political agenda. Dominionists totally politicize the Gospel, thus marrying Christianity to secular institutions. Once it is wedded to secularism, Christianity adopts the same anthropocentric premises of secularism. One of the anthropocentric premises that tend to pervade secularized Christianity is the notion that man must save himself. This was a core contention of communism, fascism, and other forms of anti-theistic sociopolitical Utopianism. In the context of Dominionism, this contention is given a marginally theistic interpretation: Man fully embodies and facilitates the march of God on earth. However, there is very little difference between the anti-theistic and theistic iterations of this contention. In both instances, the adherent’s gaze is firmly fixed on the ontological confines of this world.
As is the case with all Hegelian dialectics, the dialectic extremes of abdication theology and Dominionist theology produce the same outcome: totalitarianism. The abdication theologian surrenders to totalitarianism, whereas the Dominionist actively creates totalitarianism. Basically, Dominionism is a cult of neo-Gnostic jihadists committed to goals that almost mirror the objectives of earlier sociopolitical Utopians. Chris Hedges describes Dominionism as follows:
What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the earth itself. Dominionists preach that Jesus has called them to build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. (No pagination)
There is a crucial distinction to be made between using the Scriptures as a compass for making decisions within the political system and using the Scriptures as a rationale for co-opting and controlling the political system. In Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion, Albert Dager synopsizes the three basic tenets upon which this militarized form of Christianity is premised:
1) Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth through the temptation of Adam and Eve; 2) The Church is God’s instrument to take dominion back from Satan; 3) Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken dominion by gaining control of the earth’s governmental and social institutions. (87)