More history for dominionism deniers

I posted a piece at Crosswalk this afternoon titled Dominionism? What Dominionism? Here is the intro:

Some in the Christian Right have a memory problem. If I was diagnosing it, I would call it amnesia or maybe denial. They have forgotten who they are and from whence they came.
Christian reconstructionist Gary North has no such amnesia. He has been a fellow traveler with the Christian Right since the early days. In 2007, North wrote:
As a swing vote, the Christian Right can sometimes affect the outcome of the well-orchestrated, thoroughly entertaining Punch and Judy show that Americans call national politics. Prior to 1976, when Jimmy Carter openly campaigned as a Christian — the first Presidential candidate to do so since William Jennings Bryan — the Christian Right did not exist. I say this as a minor player in the construction of the Christian Right.
“I was able to wheedle my way into the speaker’s line-up at the three-day public meeting at which the Christian Right came into existence, the National Affairs Briefing Conference, held in Dallas in late summer, 1980. The Establishment did not note its existence, and its historians still don’t, but that was where Ronald Reagan told 13,000 new converts to politics, “You can’t endorse me, but I endorse you.” Those words served as a kind of political baptismal formula — infant baptism, I might add: babes in the woods.”
Those current Christian Right pundits who say that dominionism (various forms of the belief that Christianity and biblical law should form the basis for civil laws which apply to everyone) doesn’t exist are either unaware of their heritage or have selective memory. Reconstructionists (they believe Old Testament law should be the law of the land for all) have been on board in various ways all along, especially as a part of the move toward Christian schools and home schooling.

It seems clear to me that reconstructionists have continued to seek their beliefs and have some organizations within the mainstream of the Christian Right now (e.g., American Vision, Vision Forum, and Exodus Mandate). I don’t think the death penalty for blasphemy is coming back anytime soon but I am concerned about restrictions of freedoms of minorities given the influence of Bryan Fischer and David Barton.
The other issue for me is the erosion of the ability to dialogue with people of various viewpoints. The dominionists see their position as dictated by God. Thus, in a policy discussion, the dominionist can’t give up ground since it is holy. Opponents are not just incorrect, they are evil or as I quote in my article, one of the “enemies of God.” Who makes political deals with an enemy of God?

Christian Reconstructionists on Christian Schools

There can be no doubt that Christian education and home schooling is a growing part of the evangelical world. Influential evangelical, David Barton, has made a name for himself with his books and videos by marketing them to Christian schools and parents who home school.
I was once a Christian school board member who helped start two Christian schools. I was a true believer. Now, I think Christian schools can be an option for some parents, but I do not think it is the default position for evangelicals. I believe that public education is a critical aspect of a free and democratic society and these schools should be supported.
Even though I was once a strong supporter of Christian schools, I was a schizophrenic one, according to Gary North and Rousas J. Rushdoony, father and son to the reconstructionist movement. North explained in 1982:

As a tactic for a short-run defense of the independent Christian school movement, the appeal to religious liberty is legitimate. Everyone who is attempting to impose a world-and-life view on a majority (or on a ruling minority) always uses some version of the liberty doctrine to buy himself and his movement some time, some organizational freedom, and some power. Still, nobody really believes in the whole idea. Politics always involves establishing one view of the “holy commonwealth,” and excluding all other rival views. The Communist Party uses the right offree association to get an opportunity to create a society in which all such rights are illegal.
The major churches of any society are all maneuvering for power, so that their idea of lawful legislation will become predominant. They are all perfectly willing to use the ideal of religious liberty as a device to gain power, until the day comes that abortion is legalized (denying the right of life to infants) or prohibited (denying the “right of control over her own body,” after conception, to each woman). Everyone talksabout religious liberty, but no one believes it.
So let us be blunt about it: we must use the doctrine of religious
liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political, and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God. Murder, abortion, and pornography will be illegal. God’s law will be enforced. It will take time. A minority religion cannot do this. Theocracy must flow  from the hearts of a majority of citizens, just as compulsory education came only after most people had their children in schools of some sort. But religious anarchy, like “democratic freedom” in ancient Greece, is a temporary phenomenon; it lasts only as long as no single group gets sufficient power and accepted authority to abandon the principle. Religious anarchy, as a long-term legal framework for organizing a society, is as mythical as neutrality is. Both views assume that the institutions of civil government can create and enforce neutral law. They are cousins, and people believe in them only temporarily, until they make up their minds concerning which God they will serve.
The defense of Christian education today is therefore schizophrenic. The defenders argue that there is no neutral education, yet they use the modern doctrine of religious liberty to defend themselves – a doctrine which relies on the myth of neutrality in order to sustain itself. As a tactic, it is legitimate; we are jockeying for power. We are buying time. But anyone who really believes in the modern doctrine of religious lib.erty has no option but to believe in some variant of the myth of neutrality. Those who have abandoned the latter view should also abandon the former. (24-25, Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right, in The Failure of the American Baptist Culture)

You can imagine what the reconstructionists think of the First Amendment and pluralism. And given that reconstructionist organizations such as American Vision and Vision Forum continue to be a part of the Christian Right, I think critics raise valid concerns.
In almost every book on Christian education I read through the 70s and 80s, Rushdoony was cited. Rushdoony’s works, based on the apologetics of Cornelius Van Til, were standards and considered foundational for Christian school teachers. It must be amnesia that explains why current Christian right commenters don’t remember this.
Those in the current Christian Right who say that dominionism (Christian reconstructionism, theonomy, dominion mandate, seven mountains teaching) doesn’t exist are either unaware of their heritage or have selective memory. Even though they complain that non-reconstructionists are schizophrenic, reconstructionists have been on board in various ways all along, especially as a part of the move toward Christian schools and home schooling.

Lost and found: Members of the New Apostolic Reformation

Recently, Apostle C. Peter Wagner wrote to his followers about the attention the New Apostolic Reformation is getting in the media. In it, Wagner downplayed the organization structure of the movement saying:

I am rather fascinated at the lists of individuals whom the media glibly connects with the NAR. I’m sure that some of them wouldn’t even recognize the term. In many cases, however, they would fit the NAR template, but since the NAR has no membership list they themselves would need to say whether they consider themselves affiliated or not.


Some of the authors I read expressed certain frustrations because they found it difficult to get their arms around the NAR. They couldn’t find a top leader or even a leadership team. There was no newsletter. The NAR didn’t have an annual meeting. There was no printed doctrinal statement or code of ethics. This was very different from dealing with traditional denominations. The reason behind this is that, whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary. There is no legal tie that binds it. In fact, some have dual alignment or multiple alignment. Apostles are not in competition with each other, they are in cahoots. They do not seek the best for themselves, but for those who choose to align with them. If the spotlight comes on them, they will accept it, but they do not seek it.

I think I found some members of the New Apostolic Reformation.
The NAR as a ideological movement does not have a list, but Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles does. Here is a link to it.
However, if you click it you will find a 404 Error page that says:

I’m sorry, but the page or file appears to be missing!
An out-of-date bookmark/favorite.
A failed search from the searchbar (try another search query).
A search engine that has an out-of-date listing for this site.
A mis-typed address.

One can no longer get to the list of 200+ people who are considered apostles by Wagner’s organization. You can however click the member section and find this page to sign in.

That is to say, if you are a member, you can sign in.
I don’t know when this changed but it was within the last year. Here is the 2009 list via Internet archives. These people are added by invitation only and are members of this elite group. There is a conference for ICA members in November.  Wagner says there is no leadership structure or statement of faith but this page has a statement of faith and this one describes a structure. Wagner says there is no leadership team but the website lists an “Apostolic Council.” 

The Presiding Apostle appoints an ICA Apostolic Council to give advice and accountability. ICA members are free to bring any concerns which may arise to any or all council members.
The Apostolic Council includes: George Bakalov, Mark Chironna, James Chosa, Ron Cottle, Naomi Dowdy, John Eckhardt, Pat Francis, Bill Hamon, Dan Juster, John P. Kelly, Joseph Mattera, John Macknamara, Mel Mullen, Dennis Peacocke, Mark Pfeifer,  Ed Silvoso, C. Peter Wagner, Doris Wagner, Lance Wallnau, and H. Daniel Wilson.
Contact information is available to Members only in the Member section.

 So there is an organization of apostles with a statement of faith, a conference and structure for entrance into the organization by invitation only. Remember that Wagner said this about the New Apostolic Reformation:

The reason behind this is that, whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary.

 Each apostle has his or her own network and organization, some of which are quite large and organized (e.g., Cindy Jacobs, Generals International). These organizations and churches follow the organization of the apostle who fits into the movement via membership in the ICA. It may not be tightly structured but to avoid mentioning the members of the ICA is to obscure a critical element of the movement.
Hallelujah! They once were lost, but now they are found!

What dominionists would do with gays (disobedient children, sabbath breakers, etc.), Part 3

On Monday and Tuesday, I published posts examining what dominionists (short hand for Christians who believe Old Testament law should be the basis for civil law) recommend for people who violate aspects of Mosaic law. Today, I briefly examine a 2011 book by Stephen Che Halbrook titled, God is Just: A Defense of the Old Testament Civil Laws.
The book is an extension of a Master’s thesis presented at Regent University in 2008. The thesis and the book calls on government to use the Old Testament moral code as a basis for civil law, including the death penalty for blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, disobedient children, adulterers and gays.
Halbrook runs the Theonomy Resources and teaches at The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy. New Geneva is a college-level school which is endorsed by American Vision’s Gary DeMar, Chaplain Ray Moore, of Frontline Ministries and the Exodus Mandate, and Mark Rushdoony, son of R. J. Rushdoony, the father of Christian Reconstructionism.
Basically, Halbrook says that capital punishment for violators of biblical law benefits society. Throughout the book he makes the case that the laws governing all of us should reflect “God’s law as applied to the realm of civil government (which is mostly found in the Older Testament).” (p.xxi). Here is a sampling of recommendations for capital sanctions. On disobedient children he writes:

To all this we must add that capital sanctions for those who repudiate parental authority protect the family from treason. Many today would think capital punishment for treason against the family is extreme, but on the other hand, capital punishment for treason against the state is a necessity. (p. 205)

On Sabbath-breaking:

Given the evidence that criminality begins with Sabbath breaking, we see the importance of the Sabbath capital sanction. Fear of execution by the state deters many would-be criminals from embracing a life of crime and executing innocent people. Thus the more lax society becomes regarding the Bible’s penalty for Sabbath-breaking, the more society can expect to contend with crime. “[T]he wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and so we shouldn’t be surprised that the wages of the heinous sin of Sabbath breaking on a societal level results in death on a societal level. (p. 191)

In general, God’s law as understood by Reconstructionist authors is to be the law of the land. On sanctions against blasphemy, Halbrook writes:

In sum, the purpose of civil government is not primarily to defend the rights of man, but the rights of God. God’s rights over the state entail the state’s requirement to recognize God as Lord over the state (i.e., the highest political authority), and the state’s requirement to execute God’s wrath in His prescribed manner. This in no way diminishes human rights, but increases them. As we can see from the necessity of theocentric laws that we discussed, to disregard God’s rights—which are the rights from which all human rights derive—is to disregard man’s rights. And what right of God is more fundamental than not to be blasphemed? (p. 155)

This is similar to the thinking of Islamic clerics who defend anti-blasphemy laws in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, where Christian mother of five, Asia Bibisits in a prison cell waiting to see if her sentence of death for allegedly blaspheming Mohammed will be carried out. Of course, among the other capital sanctions, Halbrook has a chapter on “sodomite” acts. He begins this chapter:

Before exploring this topic, we must note that Christians must evangelize sodomites. This in no way conflicts with the capital sanction against those convicted of engaging in sodomite acts, a sanction which helps protect potential sodomites from themselves as well as society, as we shall see, from suicide.

Aren’t you warmed by the fact that he wants to “evangelize” and “protect potential sodomites from themselves?” Halbrook’s chapter about gays is filled with quotes from Scott Lively’s book The Pink Swastika (the book is refuted here). Drawing on Lively’s characterization of National Socialism as a “sodomite movement,” Halbrook justifies his position:

But as we have seen, justifying sodomy on the grounds of it being a private act doesn’t work, because it contributes greatly to a society’s cup of iniquity that can result in God’s destruction of that society. What good is it for a society to promote the freedom for all to participate in the lifestyle of their choice if a society isn’t around to promote it?

The 503 page book is comprehensive in defense of applying Old Testament law to civil life, even including a chapter defending stoning and burning as methods of capital punishment. One endorser of the book is Buddy Hanson. Hanson is the Alabama representative to the Exodus Mandate, a home school support group which calls for all Christians to remove their children from the public school. Hanson wrote in support:

With God’s grace, God Is Just: A Defense Of The Old Testament Civil Laws will be used to bring American Christians to repentance and back to honoring God’s Word through their daily decisions.

Halbrook cites Hanson (as well as R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, etc.) as providing justification for imposing biblical laws on a society. Halbrook writes:

And so Buddy Hanson is correct: “By not ‘imposing’ Christian beliefs on others, we allow them to ‘impose’ their beliefs on us.”455 (This endorses imposing Christian beliefs about biblical law—it does not endorse imposing conversions.) Pluralism is no less impositional than other political system—and actually, it is potentially the most impositional. Being polytheistic and thereby lacking anything beyond the coercion of the state by which to unite others, pluralism naturally tends towards outright totalitarianism, and even imperialism. (pp. 169-170).

Do unto others before they do unto you.
Some readers may believe I am giving too much attention to what appears to be a movement on the fringe of the evangelical community. Clearly, a large portion of evangelicals would be offended by this book and feel out of place in the churches where this teaching is offered. If anything, bringing this to light highlights just how diverse evangelicalism is.
Still, theonomy (the term those in the movement prefer) cannot be ignored. The groups in the theonomy world (American Vision, Exodus Mandate, Vision Forum) have political influence within the Christian Right and seek broader impact. If Halbrook is correct, some theonomists have designs on infiltrating the broader Christian Right to pursue their goals. Mostly, Halbrook criticizes the Christian right for being aligned with political conservatism, writing

The Christian Right—the largest group of politically-active Christians in America—rejects the Bible’s requirement of the state to uphold the O.T. civil laws. Instead, it embraces political conservatism. But conservatism, as pointed out, lacks an unchanging moral anchor (see Appendix D). Thus the Christian Right is handicapped by its marriage with political conservatism.

However, quoting a 1992 book by Matthew Moen, Halbrook holds out hope that perhaps Reconstructionists could save the Christian right:

Other evidence that the secularization of the Christian Right may be limited to that time frame [the Reagan era] is found in the emergence of Christian Reconstructionism. It emphasizes the utility of the first five books of the Old Testament for ordering contemporary American society, a goal that Bruce Barron and Anson Shupe have noted proceeds well beyond the Christian Right in scope yet has certain affinities related to ‘recapturing’ institutions from secular forces. … [T]he penetration of the Christian Right by Reconstructionists may halt, or even reverse, the process of secularization described. (from Moen, 1992, p. 425 in Halbrook).

While such a take over may be no more likely now than in 1992, I am concerned that theonomists and dominionists of several persuasions, notably the New Apostolic Reformation movement, continues to make gains in GOP and evangelical circles.
See also Part 1 and Part 2 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 1 examines the differences between New Apostolic Reformation dominionists and the Christian Reconstructionist variety. Part 2 briefly describes the views of the American Family Association spokesperson on criminalizing homosexual activity.

Sometimes You Need a Herescope to See the Dominionism

While those who want to bring Moses back are lamenting the media attention they are getting, Sarah Leslie author of the Herescope blog, stays steady. Herescope reports frequently on figures in various movements, sometimes known as the New Apostolic Reformation, Christian Reconstructionism, dominionism and theonomy. There are real differences among those in these movements but they all seem to hold a common desire for civil law in the Unites States to reflect the law of Moses.
Some of her most recent posts (e.g, Denying Dominionism) address the consternation of some Reconstructionists, New Apostolic Reformers and dominionists about the attention they are getting. Apparently, even C. Peter Wagner took pen in hand to deny that the Seven Mountains teaching is anything to worry about.
Wagner says this about dominionism:

When Jesus came, he brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth. This is what we mean by dominionism.

When Kingdom minded politicians “take whatever action is needed” to oppose those who disagree with them, those who are not in the evangelical club have a right to resist. By this and other points, Wagner proved that dominionism is not a construct of the left. Wagner can say he doesn’t want theocracy but to those who are not evangelical, what he proposes may seem too close for comfort. not evangelicals.
I don’t agree with every point Leslie makes but I think her blog is a great place to spend time if you want to see the Dominionism.