Posted by: Damon Whitsell | March 6, 2010

The Distortion of the Dominion Mandate in Pentecostal Theology: by Erik Wait

The Distortion of the Dominion Mandate in Pentecostal Theology

by Erik Wait

In my first paper on “Taking Dominion for Christ” I discussed the meaning of “dominion” and how this is to be carried out in the preaching of the Gospel and taking all things under the subjection of Jesus Christ. In my second paper “Taking Dominion for Christ (Part 2)” I briefly discussed some potential misconceptions of what it means to take dominion. Namely, that merely controlling our surroundings is not sufficient but rather all things must be in the name of and for the glory of Jesus Christ. Taking dominion is about converting hearts, families, and societies. It is not about manipulating nature to suit our own ends.

However, there is an entirely different theological scheme that often speaks of “taking dominion for Christ” which is entirely out of line with Scripture. In fact, it has more in common with the New Age Movement and Eastern Mysticism than it does with historical and Biblical Christianity. This heretical form of Dominion Theology is often referred to as the “Word of Faith Movement,” “The Latter Rain Movement,” “The Third Wave” or “Kingdom Now Theology” and it is common in mainstream Charismatic churches and Pentecostalism. Some of the most well known Pentecostal Dominion Theology teachers include televangelists such as Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Frederick Price and Benny Hinn.

At times Pentecostal “dominion” language can sound like the way in which Postmillennial Calvinists such as R.J. Rushdoony, Gary De Mar, Gary North or Ken Gentry may speak. But the Dominion Theology of Pentecostalism has absolutely nothing in common with the Dominion Theology of Postmillennial Calvinism. In the Dominion Theology of Postmillennial Calvinism the primary focus is on the preaching of the gospel, making disciples and refuting false doctrine and philosophies. The overarching scheme of this Dominion Theology centers on the absolute sovereignty of God, the kingship of Christ and the Great Commission of Matthew 28. The goal in the Dominion Theology of Postmillennial Calvinism is that the result of converting the nations the Law of God will be upheld in every sphere of life (family, Church, and state) as we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

In contrast, Pentecostal Dominion Theology essentially teaches that God’s original intent was to duplicate Himself and hence Christians are actually little gods. [1] As gods Christians have the same speaking authority of God because of the faith of Christ. Therefore, it is the duty of the Christian to build his own kingdom here on earth in the name of Christ. This includes the accumulation of wealth in the form of mansions, Rolex watches, diamond rings, yachts and expensive automobiles to be displayed to the world. The means of accomplishing this task is through the use of the force of faith. According to the Pentecostal Dominion Theology teachers, faith is a force (like in the movie Star Wars) and if Christians have enough faith they can create their own reality. [2] Therefore, the Christian is to take dominion over sickness by speaking it out of existence through making positive confessions (“I am well”) and refusing to acknowledge sickness even though you have the symptoms of an illness or injury. To say “I have a cold” is to make a negative confession and create the illness. Therefore, regardless of the symptoms a Christian is never to admit that he has a disease or illness. Consequently a Christian should not take medicine for to do so is a form of admitting the illness and fail to take dominion over it through the force of faith. [3] Pentecostal Dominion Theology is also inherently Arminian in that it makes man the ultimate determiner of the course of his own future rather than God. Heaven or hell, health or sickness, wealth or poverty is all a matter of acknowledging your own divinity (with the help Jesus) and creating your own reality. According to their claim, if you too would like to have these things then the best way to obtain them is by sowing a seed of faith in writing a large check to one of their “ministries.” With the money you send them they in turn can buy themselves a Rolls Royce, a new mansion, diamond rings and thereby demonstrate that their theology “works” because they have obtained wealth and prosperity. But have they achieved the health the claim they can grant through “slaying people in the spirit”? [4] No, they see doctors (secretly), are losing their hair (though they try to comb over their bald spot), and wear contact lens and glasses. Of course they do not admit that they do these things because to do so is to make a “negative confession.”

One of the key ways of distinguishing between Pentecostal Dominion Theology and the Dominion Theology of Postmillennial Calvinism is the manner in which Old Testament “dominion” texts are understood. In Pentecostal Dominion Theology the promises of victory over the enemy are magical formulas to be repeated as a mantra in order to speak your “faith filled words” into existence. In a sense, Scripture is to be used in the same way that witches use incantations. In fact, Pentecostal Dominion Theology states that occultist incantations actually work! The only difference is that they come from the “dark side” of faith in much of the same manner that Darth Vader uses the dark side of the force.

In contrast, the Dominion Theology of Postmillennial Calvinism views the “dominion” texts eschatologically. It sees them as being fulfilled in the conversion of nations in history. But sickness and death, the last enemy, will only be finally conquered at the culmination of Kingdom of God when the saints are resurrected at the second coming of Christ. While those who hold to Postmillennial Calvinist Dominion Theology can also obtain wealth it is through the wise use of money, diligent labor and investing for the future. But, the acquiring of wealth is only a means to an end, namely to further the Kingdom of God in the support of missionaries, building churches and other means of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and promoting Christian culture. [5]

End Notes:

[1] For a critique of this theology see Curtis Crenshaw, “Man as God: The Word of Faith Movement” (Memphis, TN: Footstool Publications, 1994).

[2] For a critique of this theology see Hank Hanegraaff, “Christianity in Crisis” (Harvest House Pub. June 1993)

[3] For a critique of this theology see Gordon Fee, “The Disease of the Health & Wealth Gospels” (Beverly, MA: Frontline Publishing, 1985); Ted Schwarz, “Healing in the Name of God: Faith or Fraud?” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993).

[4] For a critique of this theology see John Mac Arthur, “Charismatic Chaos” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992).

[5] For more reading in support of the Dominion Theology of Postmillennial Calvinism I recommend the following books: Ken Gentry, “He shall Have Dominion” (Tyler Texas: ICE, 1992); R.J. Rushdoony, “Salvation and Godly Rule” (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books); Gary North, Gary Demar, “Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn’t” (Institute for Christian Economics (April 1991).



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