Monday, November 09, 2009

What is Dominionism?

What is Dominionism? "Apostle" C. Peter Wagner has came out with a book on the topic last year on that topic. With this book, all of us can now know what exactly does the New Apostolic Reformation teaches in her understanding of the Cultural Mandate, which we shall examine below.

So what is Dominionism? Dominionism can be defined thus:

The application of the Cultural Mandate in working towards Social Transformation by the strategy of having workplace apostles taking control of the various spheres of society, facilitating the Great transfer of Wealth and so bringing God's Kingdom here on the earth.

Every phrase here reveals something about the theory of Dominionism, which we shall look at below.

Application of the Cultural Mandate ...

Wagner states his belief in the Cultural (or Creation) Mandate early in his book (p. 41), quoting personal correspondence with John D. Hunter that it is a "mandate to change the world" (p. 41). Wagner uses this term and sees his theory as the proper application of the Cultural Mandate. Of course, whether Wagner has correctly understood the cultural mandate or applied it properly may be of dispute, but what cannot be disputed is that Wagner himself sees his theory as an application of the Cultural Mandate, which in his view has to do with "tak[ing] dominion and transform[ing] society" (p. 46).

... in working towards Social Transformation ...

Wagner sincerely believes that the application of the Cultural Mandate is to work towards Social Transformation, which is defined as the transformation of society to one based upon God's original design for human life (p. 11). In promoting this theory, Wagner claims that the exclusive focus of churches on the Great Commission is based upon the "Greek mindset", which "tells us Christians should be concerned with saving souls and going to heaven rather than paying much attention to material things like transforming our societies." (p. 41). Instead of embracing this "dualistic" Greek mindset, we should embrace the holistic "Hebrew mindset" which posits that "God and accompanying spiritual principles permeate all of life on earth" (p. 40). Therefore, the Cultural Mandate of transforming society is to be kept central alongside the Great Commission. This transformation of society must refer to "sociologically verifiable transformation" (p. 55), in which "an independent, outside, qualified observer using standard tools of social science or investigative reporting concludes that the social unit is now as different from what it used to be as a butterfly is from a caterpillar" (p. 55).

... by the strategy of having workplace apostles ...

Wagner creates the category of workplace apostles by first creating the idea of the Nuclear and Extended Church. The "Nuclear Church", analogous to the nuclear family, refers to the people of God "meeting in their congregation". Playing on the word translated church in Greek ekklesia (εκκλησια), Wagner defines the meaning of church to refer to "the people of God scattered out wherever they might be" (p. 140). The "Extended Church", analogous to the extended family, thus refers to "the people of God in the workplace" (p. 141). From there, Wagner states that apostles and prophets "should be found not only in the nuclear Church, but in the extended Church as well" (p. 141). In Wagner's words,

... there must be such a thing as workplace (extended church) apostles. God has given them the spiritual gift of apostle, and He has called them to a ministry or activity in the extended Church of the workplace, over against ministry in the nuclear Church. (p. 141)

... taking control of the various spheres of society ...

Society according to Wagner consists of seven spheres or seven segments of society — the molders of culture. These seven spheres/ mountains are in random order "religion, family, government, arts and entertainment, media, business, and education" (p. 144). Wagner quotes Wallnau approvingly, who says "If the world is to be won, these are the mountains that mold the culture and the minds of men. Whoever controls these mountains controls the direction of the world and the harvest therein." (p. 144). Each of these seven mountains have their own distinct cultures, in which there exists significant difference in "crucial nuances" such that it would be difficult "for anyone attempting to go to the top and take dominion of one particular sphere" (p. 147). Even worse in Wagner's opinion, most "nuclear church" leaders are ignorant of the culture of the "extended church". In order to exercise dominion therefore, workplace apostles are needed. These workplace apostles would "have the God-given authority to influence and take charge of a certain segment of society on behalf of the Kingdom of God" (p. 148), thus taking control of it.

... facilitating the Great transfer of Wealth and so bringing God's Kingdom here on the earth

In the beginning of this book, C. Peter Wagner states that "without vast amounts of wealth in the hands of righteous people who line up with the principles of the Kingdom of God, we will not see the social transformation that we desire" (p. 19), further stating that "we must cast out the spirit of poverty and replace it with the godly spirit of prosperity if we expect to act as effective agents of social transformation" (p. 19). After outlining his strategy of workplace apostles and control of the various spheres of society, Wagner says that "an essential part of the process should be to transfer the control of wealth" (p 182), such that the Extended Church and the Workplace Apostles have the money to implement their plans for dominion.

Wagner has decided to attack what he calls the "spirit of poverty". In Wagner's own words:

One of the most effective tactics of the evil spirit of poverty has been to persuade Christian leaders that poverty is somehow noble. This mindset entered the Church when Greek philosophy gradually replaced the biblical Hebrew worldview among church leaders around the time when Constantine was the Roman empire. ... Issues of wealth were associated with the material world, and truly spiritual people were to avoid wealth as much as possible. That is why, in the monastic movement that began around that time, the monks were required to display their spirituality with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. While chastity and obedience are not as prevalent today, poverty unfortunately persists as a spiritual ideal. (p. 185)

While espousing a type of prosperity preaching, Wagner comes down hard on the love of money. He does this by interpreting Mammon as a demon (p. 189) who causes people to love money through his subordinate spirits of greed, covetousness, parsimony (stingyness), and self-reliance (p. 190), and therefore states that believers should therefore not love money because that is to worship the demon Mammon.

Wagner continues on to describe the chain of wealth transfer to channel funds for Kingdom use, from providers to managers to distributors and field marshals. Providers provide the huge amount of funds required for "Kingdom work", managers manage the money, multiply it and channel it to the appropriate distributors, who will in turn pass it to the field marshals who do the actual work "making things happen for the extension of the Kingdom of God" (pp. 192-196)

So how does Dominionism fare in light of Scripture?

[to be continued]

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