Article taken from:
Media Spotlight Vol 8. - NO.1
P.O. Box 1288
Costa Mesa, CA 92628
PART III - Section A
By Albert James Dager
This segment of our treatise on "Kingdom Now" or "Dominion" Theology has been the most difficult to complete, both in terms of assimilating the contents and in presenting them in a manner that would not be inflammatory or denigrating to any individual's character. Just getting from the research to the writing has been extremely difficult and time-consuming in view of the mounds of documentation that I've had to read and reread, or listen to on audio and video tapes over and over in order to avoid the mistake of judging erroneously or taking statements out of context. The importance of the subject matter warranted extreme caution.
I hope the reader will understand my struggle to get this written. And I thank for their patience those who have waited so long for this third installment.
In our previous installments we traced today's Dominion Theology back to the neo-Pentecostalism of the mid-twentieth century, and what became known as "The Latter Rain Movement." We discussed the influence of occult methodology upon the two principal innovators of that movement: Franklin Hall and William Branham. Their influence at that time upon certain pastors and leaders resulted in widespread acceptance of teachings centered on the supposed "restoration" of the Church.
Perhaps more than anyone else, it was William Branham's influence that paved the way for this new theology based on the exaltation of the believer. This engendered a new hope unknown to Scripture: that as certain "overcomers" in the Church attained a state of perfection, or sinlessness, they would become immortal even while in their present bodies. This, then, became the basis for the belief that, through the perfecting of the overcomers by obedience to the latter day "apostles" and "prophets," the Church will take dominion over the governments and social institutions of the world. Thus the earth will be prepared for Christ's return.
These teachings found their greatest expression in the Manifested Sons of God and related movements. They have lately become more widespread so that many in the Church today believe it is not possible for Jesus to return until the Church has made the earth 'its' footstool.
In addressing these aberrant teachings we also explored other doctrines peculiar to Kingdom Now Theology, and we saw how each has its own place in the attempt to establish God's Kingdom on earth before Jesus' return. We also examined the various movements that hold many or all of the Kingdom Now doctrines.
In this, Part III, we'll detail some of the key teachings of Dominion Theology, and we'll quote some of those who teach them. It is beyond the scope of this writing to quote everyone who holds each doctrine, but we will offer a sampling from a few teachers whose statements typically reflect these doctrines. Wherever possible we will identify the movements to which these teachers belong, although many do not overtly identify themselves with any particular group.
The reader should keep in mind that Dominion Theology is not an easily delineated segment within the Church, but rather a loose networking of autonomous sub-movements that have different approaches to their attempts at establishing the Kingdom of God. The central doctrine of all, however, is that Jesus cannot or will not return to the earth until the Church has taken control of at least a significant portion of human government and social institutions.
Whether this incorporates belief in a worldwide theocracy, or theonomy, or the subjugation of individual secular states to the authority of the Church depends upon the particular brand of Dominion Theology one holds. Whether the Lord will return immediately after the Church has taken control or after it has been in control for some time up to and including the end of the Millennium, is likewise dependent upon individual beliefs.
Again, not all who espouse these teachings overtly identify themselves with any segment within Dominion Theology. Yet each of these teachings is peculiar to Dominion Theology and contrary to sound, biblical exegesis. So, while some dominion teachers stress some teachings over others, they are all propagating errors that are leaving the Body of Christ open to great deception.
Whether or not these teachers propagate the full gamut of Dominion Theology is not as important as the fact that they have adopted these unscriptural beliefs and are spreading them throughout the Church by way of the mass communications media and special pastors' conferences which subtly educate Christian leaders to the heretical doctrines of Dominion Theology. We should therefore be cautious of what we hear from these people.
Does It Really Matter?
Some might question if it's really important whether someone believes that Jesus will not return until the Church has taken dominion over the earth. This is a legitimate question to which I must respond that, in terms of salvation and spiritual growth overall, it isn't important. I have friends who hold a post-millennialist viewpoint and I count them as brethren in Christ. I welcome fellowship with them and we engage in honest (and spirited) dialogue in a spirit of love. Perhaps the reason we get along so well is that we are willing to listen to each others' viewpoints and recognize that there are strong and weak arguments on all sides of the issues. A postmillennialist stance doesn't necessarily mean a desire for world domination. And they are not so closed-minded to the possibility that the world cannot survive much longer unless the Lord does intervene with His personal presence.
No, the problem doesn't lie in the basic tenets of the faith. We will find that many dominion proponents agree with us on the essential doctrines involving the natures of God, man, and Satan, as well as salvation through the shed blood of Jesus, etc. It does appear, however, that some - particularly in the "Word-faith Movement" among charismatics - are straying from sound doctrine in some of these areas of late.
The basic problems with dominion teaching lie more in the realm of Church life and the authoritarian structure necessary to implement and maintain a dominion mindset. This is evidenced by cultish tendencies that rob individual believers of a true understanding of their personal relationship with the Father. It requires that nothing of a spiritual (and often material) nature be undertaken without the approval of one's "covering."
There are also dangers in the elitist mentality that naturally progresses from the idea that somehow, due to God's grace or one's own sense of righteousness, human life apart from those numbered among the elite becomes cheap.
An additional problem is that followers of Dominion Theology are easy prey for political extremists. There are those who play upon the concerns of all Christians who naturally desire to see eradicated such evils as abortion, pornography, child abuse, drug dealing, and crime in general. The fact that many in the "Christian right" are already united with Sun Myung Moon and the Mormon Church, is sufficient reason to suspect that, in the long run, no theocentric form of government will reflect the true biblical pattern for society.
Morality and righteousness are wonderful traits when manifested as a result of Spirit-filled living. When manifested as a result of religious fervor (the "good" portion of the tree of knowledge of good and evil), these traits become precursors to a totalitarian state. We would do well to take a lesson from history and remember that Hitler made his plea for acceptance of Nazism based upon a platform of anti-communism, anti-homosexuality, patriotism, and morality. Many German Christians rejoiced when he assumed power.
In light of these dangers we must identify the sources of Dominion Theology so that the Body of Christ may at least be cautious of involvement. Naturally, if someone desires to believe in Dominion Theology that is their business. When they teach it publicly, it becomes everybody's business and they should be willing to have their teachings exposed to testing by the Word of God.
Now, in order to do justice to this very complex subject, it is necessary that we name names. Some will find this distasteful and will perceive it as a personal attack against men and women of God with whom I disagree. On the contrary, it is my position that we must be careful not to condemn those who are caught up in this modern heresy, but we should lift them in prayer, recognizing that God's grace is extended to all.
Some dominion proponents may be deceivers engaged in a power struggle for personal gain. Some may also have designs on leading the Church into areas of compromise with political extremists on the right. But I believe some are brethren in Christ who sincerely perceive that they have a biblical mandate to bring the world systems under the control of the Church.
It would be a mistake to look upon all such people as our enemies just because they hold a different eschatological viewpoint. Granted, the dominion viewpoint is dangerous in many of its implications. But let's not think there is nothing we can learn from them. As with all spiritual matters the truth lies somewhere between two extremes. There are problems with the dispensationalist point of view that the Church has ignored for too long, thus creating an atmosphere of credibility for Kingdom Now Theology.
If, in our zeal to "expose" those in error, we obtain a certain amount of glee in discovering their feet of clay, we'd best take heed to ourselves and question whether our motive is really based upon love. We may rightly quote Jude 3 as justification for earnestly contending for the faith, but if we forget I Corinthians 13 we are no more free from error than those whose errors we expose.
THE DOMINION CONCEPT
The concept of "dominion" as it applies to Kingdom Now Theology holds that Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken control of the earth's governments and social institutions. The following are among the more visible proponents of that belief:
EARL PAULK (Pastor of Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Atlanta, Georgia):
In Paulk's own publication he is touted as a "prophet" of today's Kingdom Message:
"If there is a prophet today who speaks the truth God wants His Church to hear, it is Earl Paulk. He is the leading voice today in preaching the message of the Kingdom of God...a man driven compulsively to show this generation that God is waiting for us to do something that will bring Christ back to earth."1
Paulk, himself has stated:
"Christ in us must take dominion over the earth...The next move of God cannot occur until Christ in us takes dominion."2
"The next move of God will unite His Son in marriage. The marriage supper of the Lamb, the completion of establishing the Kingdom, the eternal rule of God, will finally take place."3
We see that Paulk believes the Marriage Supper of the Lamb cannot take place until after the Church ("Christ in us") has taken dominion. But does Paulk mean that Jesus will already have returned and been with us in order for us to have taken dominion? No he doesn't. Otherwise he would not have used the term "Christ in us." In its proper biblical context that is a valid term. But in this case its use implies that Jesus will take dominion through the Church while He remains in Heaven.
The office of Christ cannot be separated from the person of Jesus. He is the 'only' Christ of God. It is Jesus, when He returns, who must take dominion and establish the visible kingdom of God on earth, not "Christ in us." But does Paulk understand this, or are his statements nothing more than poor choices of words? Let's see what else he has to say:
"Christ was one person, limited to ministry in only one place at a time. In order to minister as an omnipresent Spirit, Jesus relinquished His fleshly dimension with its limitations of time and place. He entered a higher realm of restoration and love by becoming an indwelling Spirit."4
Either Paulk's Christology has taken an aberrant turn, or he's had a mental lapse. Now, I've often heard people, in one breath, address their prayers to the Father, and, without breaking continuity, address Jesus as if He and the Father are the same person - a "Jesus only" mental glitch. I can understand that mistake. However, when someone 'publishes' a statement that equates Jesus with the Holy Spirit, I would think that takes more mental affirmation.
It isn't that Christ 'was' one person, He 'is' one person - Jesus. When the Scripture says, "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27), it in essence affirms that we are united with Him by the Spirit of God. He is "in us," and we are "in Him." It does not mean that He relinquished His fleshly dimension to become "an indwelling Spirit." He is, and always will be, "flesh and bones" (Luke 24:39). He is in a specific location, Heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father. (Yes, I'm sure He gets up and moves about.) He is in His resurrected 'body,' limited to place if not to time.
The Holy Spirit - the Third Person of the Trinity - is omnipresent. It is 'He,' not the person of Jesus, who is the indwelling Spirit of all who truly believe in Jesus.
This is more relevant to our study than may first appear. For without a proper Christology one cannot have a proper eschatology. In this case, Paulk sees Jesus as "an indwelling Spirit." On this basis he claims that the Church is the "ongoing incarnation of Christ." In that case, the church is now Christ, and all Scriptures pertaining to Christ's ruling on earth are really referring to the Church.
We'll deal with this in more detail in another chapter. For now, let's consider Paulk's views on dominion.
"When the apostles asked Jesus if He would now restore the political kingdom, He said, 'It's not for you to know the times or the seasons.
But I will tell you what will take place in your life, and when you have received what I'll tell you about, you will be able to bring in the Kingdom of God.'
"How will the Kingdom of God be ushered in? In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, 'But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the Earth.'"5
Notice how Paulk puts words in Jesus' mouth by having Him say, "you will be able to bring in the [political] Kingdom of God." Nowhere in Scripture is such a statement found.
Evidently the first-century Church did not have enough "faith" or maturity to accomplish this feat, so it is up to today's Christians to do the job.
"What are we waiting for? Why is Jesus waiting in heaven at the right hand of the Father? Who is He waiting for? He is waiting for you and me to become mature, for the Bride of Christ to become mature, so that He can come again. Did you know that God has done everything He can do? If anything else is going to be done, we're going to do it."6
"In Matthew 24:14, Jesus clearly says that He cannot return for His Bride until she has demonstrated the Gospel of the Kingdom to all the nations of the earth. Until the church can demonstrate the alternative Kingdom, Jesus cannot come again. God no longer has the authority to send Christ back to earth, because He will not circumvent His eternal plan. While no man knows the day or the hour, I can say with the authority of God that CHRIST CANNOT AND WILL NOT COME BACK UNTIL WE HAVE DEMONSTRATED THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM TO THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH. That task demands a mature church, which will have become an alternative to the kingdoms of the world. THAT IS WHAT THE CHURCH IS ALL ABOUT AND JESUS CHRIST'S RETURN IS UP TO US."7 [Emphasis Paulk's.]
If we read Paulk's statement closely, we'll see that he believes God no longer has the authority to send Christ back to earth, but that "Christ's return is up to us." So, God has taken control out of His own hands and placed it into ours.
Now, it's true that "He will not circumvent His eternal plan." But He has revealed in His Word the manner in which He will accomplish His eternal plan. Contrary to Paulk, God's eternal plan is not that the Church will take dominion on its own, but merely that the earth will be redeemed. Many of the details of that redemption have not been revealed, but in order for the dominion concept to apply, one must spiritualize what he believes the Word says rather than take it literally. What it does say is that God's plan of redemption includes Jesus' return to establish the visible Kingdom before the creation of the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 20:2-21:5).
Paulk has misread God's eternal plan by spiritualizing Matthew 24:14, which simply states, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come."
It's one thing to preach the gospel of the kingdom; it's quite another thing to institute - or demonstrate - the kingdom. There is only one Gospel: the Gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Within that Gospel is the "gospel" (good news) that Christ is coming again to establish His visible earthly reign. That is the "gospel of the kingdom" we are commanded to preach, not this counterfeit Dominion Theology which exalts man above what God intended.
GARY NORTH (Reconstructionist author and publisher):
"The eschatology of dominion has once again revived, as it has not since the period of the American Revolution....This is not the end of the world. The Church is not about to be raptured. The humanists, occultists, and New Agers are about to see their world ruptured. This process could be delayed by God's external judgment on the West, but it cannot be delayed until Christ's return in final judgment. It will happen long before Christ returns in glory."8
North is among the most visible Reconstructionists and is, in his words, "one of the two primary publishers of dominion theology"9 (Dominion Press, Tyler Texas). It is North's belief that David Chilton's 'Paradise Restored' is the most definitive, virtually irrefutable, book on dominion eschatology"
"Dominion theology is the wave of the future. David Chilton has written the two primary eschatological manifestos of dominion theology. Whoever comes after him will inevitably be labeled a 'me, too' postmillennialist. Chilton has established the terms of the debate over eschatology for the next hundred years, at the very least."10
This is quite a claim. Obviously North is convinced that no one will be able to challenge Chilton's dominion eschatology in our lifetime. But the question is, if it can be challenged at all - one hundred years, or one thousand years from now - why must we accept it today? Had North said that Chilton has established the terms of the debate once and for all, I'd be impressed. Better for his position had he not qualified it.
As much as some don't like to admit it, there is a debate going on. The Reconstructionists comprise the intellectual arm of Dominion Theology, being more grounded in the study of theology than are their charismatic counterparts. As such, the Reconstructionists' arguments are the most viable. And since one of the major publishers of Dominion Theology has established that David Chilton is 'the' voice for dominion eschatology, this writing would be incomplete without noting Chilton's position on dominion.
DAVID CHILTON (Reconstructionist author): Quoting Matthew 5:13-16, Chilton says:
"This is nothing less than a mandate for the complete social transformation of the entire world. And what Jesus condemns is 'ineffectiveness', failing to change the society around us. We are commanded to live in such a way that someday all men will glorify God - that they will become converted to the Christian faith. The point is that if the Church is obedient, the people and nations of the world will be discipled to Christianity. We all know that everyone 'should' be a Christian, that the laws and institutions of all nations 'should' follow the Bible's blueprints. But the Bible tells us more than that. The Bible tells us that these commands are the shape of the future. We 'must' change the world; and what is more, we 'shall' change the world." 11
Matthew 5:13-16 is hardly "a mandate for the complete social transformation of the entire world." It is a mandate, yes, but it is a mandate that requires no more than that all Christians exhibit in their lives the reality of their faith in Christ. As a result of our witness many will be saved and brought into the Kingdom of God. But there is no mention of the social transformation of any nation let alone the entire world. Scripture tells us that, when Christ returns the nations will be arrayed against Him, not waiting to welcome Him (Revelation 16:14; 19:19). Whether anti-Christ is a man or a system (as proposed by dominion teachers), the fact remains that, when Jesus returns, the world will be under the rule of anti-Christ, not under the rule of the Church.
What Chilton has done in spiritualizing Matthew 5:13-16 is hardly academically honest. In waxing eloquent for his eschatological bias he often makes a point of accusing those with whom he disagrees of making Scripture say what they want it to say. Has he not done the same?
In quoting Matthew 28:19-20, Chilton goes against another of his own rules in assuming that nations, not just people, are to be discipled:
"The Great Commission to the Church does not end with simply 'witnessing' to the nations. Christ's command is that we 'disciple' the nations - 'all' the nations. The kingdoms of the world are to become the kingdoms of Christ. They are to be discipled, made obedient to the faith. This means that every aspect of life throughout the world is to be brought under the lordship of Jesus Christ: families, individuals, business, science, agriculture, the arts, law, education, economics, psychology, philosophy, and every other sphere of human activity.
Nothing may be left out. Christ 'must reign, until He has put all enemies under His feet' (I Cor.15:25). We have been given the responsibility of converting the entire world."12
One point Chilton makes over and again in his book is that literalism is secondary to consistent biblical imagery. In this instance he goes against his own rule. To "disciple all the nations," or, "make disciples of [out of] all the nations," does not mean that every nation as a whole is one day going to sit at the feet of the Reconstructionist gurus and learn the ways of Truth. The Great Commission requires us to go into all the nations and disciple "whosoever will" be saved. Using Chilton's exegetical rule, if this "mandate" encompasses all the nations as saved entities, it must encompass all believers as missionaries to foreign lands. After all, is the Lord not speaking to each of us as individuals?
If Chilton's reasoning is good for Matthew 28:19-20, it must be good for Matthew 24:9: "...ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." Therefore, everyone in every nation will hate all Christians. Ergo, no one will ever be converted.
At least Chilton does see the need for the Church to clean its own house before attempting so grand a task as discipling the entire world.
"...Our goal is world dominion under Christ's lordship, a 'world takeover' if you will; but our strategy begins with the reformation and reconstruction of the Church. From that will flow social and political reconstruction, indeed a flowering of Christian civilization (Hag.1:1-15; 2:6-10, 18-23."13
Chilton correctly points out that postmillennialism has been a dominant theme in Church history. But it is not Scripture he uses to support that eschatological viewpoint as much as he uses the writings of the early Church "fathers" (Augustine, Athanasius, etc.), and some recent sources such as C.H. Spurgeon. But what Chilton fails to recognize is that those early Church "fathers" were products of a religious system already sliding into apostasy. It was the Roman Catholic Church that first attempted to take dominion over the governments of the earth. It succeeded to some degree, in that Western civilization came under its control. But in order to establish and maintain control the Roman Church had to acquiesce to pagan cultures. The result was that, although the Gospel (as much as was allowed under Romanism) did bring a measure of enlightenment, the Church itself suffered corruption and became paganized. This affected not only its liturgy but its doctrinal position in some crucial areas.
Yet even to achieve the modicum of success it enjoyed in establishing its compromising rule, the Roman Church had to resort to bloodshed not only through the fomenting of wars, but through programs against dissenters such as took place in the Inquisitions.
Failing to learn from history, Chilton (an alleged historian) has also failed to understand that there are varying points of view even among premillennialists. He lumps all under the mantel of "dispensationalism," and accuses of being a defeatist anyone who doesn't hold the postmillennialist viewpoint:
"The eschatological issue centers on one fundamental point: Will the gospel succeed in its mission, or not? Regardless of their numerous individual differences, the various defeatist schools of thought are solidly lined up together on one major point: 'The gospel of Jesus Christ will fail.' Christianity will not be successful in its worldwide task. Christ's Great Commission to disciple the nations will not be carried out."14
"...A good deal of modern Rapturism should be recognized for what it really is: a dangerous error that is teaching God's people to expect defeat instead of victory."15
I take umbrage at Chilton's lack of intellectual integrity. It is patently ridiculous to accuse any Christian of believing that "the gospel of Jesus Christ will fail." Every premillennialist I know expects victory, including Hal Lindsey (whom Chilton takes special delight in denigrating). I don't agree with Lindsey on several points, but no one can accuse him - or myself for that matter - of having a defeatist attitude. Were that true, Hal would not be writing books with evangelistic themes, and Media Spotlight would not exist.
The trouble with Reconstructionists (indeed the entire dominion mindset) is that they don't do their homework. Otherwise they wouldn't lump all premillenialists into one grab-bag of escapism.
Another problem is that they see as defeat anything less than domination of the world system before Jesus returns. This is not spiritual-mindedness, but carnal-mindedness, even when based on the assumption that the transformation of society will result from the changing of men's hearts through the Gospel.
We are not called to "win the world for Christ." We are called to be witnesses for Him. It is the Holy Spirit that draws men to God as we share the Word about Christ (Romans 10:17). To think that the Church or the Holy Spirit will have failed because the whole world isn't converted would be the same as to think we've failed because every person who hears the Gospel doesn't fall on his or her face in repentance.
What's the difference if not everyone at a given moment is converted, or anyone throughout history is not converted. Somewhere, according to Dominion Theology, the Holy Spirit has failed, or the Church has failed.
"But," some would say, "we don't expect every person to be converted; we just want to make sure their lives are conformed to Christian principles." Well, if not every person is converted, we will have less than total dominion, even if we can control their activities. The Holy Spirit will have failed just as He has "failed" to convert everyone who has ever lived.
And as long as there are unconverted souls, the privilege to run society will be challenged. Ultimately there will be confrontation and the need to apply force to maintain control. Bloodshed and corruption (yes, even among "Christians") will be an ongoing result of religious domination.
Even if we were to succeed in converting every soul and ruling society under God's spiritual direction, within two generations at the most, the rebellious nature of those to be born will manifest itself.
Without the visible, tangible presence of Jesus and His 'resurrected' saints administering the Kingdom of God on earth, the world will be at the mercy of arrogant, religious autocrats whose own peculiar understanding of "God's will" will keep us under bondage.
PAT ROBERTSON (Founder and President of Christian Broadcasting Network): Pat Robertson is careful about revealing his belief in Dominion Theology. Robertson believes in a literal rapture of the saints, but not until there has been a great revival that will result in a godly society run by the Church. In his keynote address to the Dallas '84 convention for Maranatha Campus Ministries, Robertson made reference to the late John Lennon's song, 'Imagine,' in which Lennon imagined a world of peace wherein there was no religion to engender strife. Paraphrasing Lennon, Robertson said:
"Imagine a world when no more little babies are slaughtered in the womb.
"Imagine a world where there are no more homes torn apart because of alcoholism.
"Imagine a world where there are no more young men and young women spaced out and glassy-eyed on account of drugs.
"Imagine a world when there are no more crime lords selling prostitutes, selling pornography, selling gambling devices, selling drugs, and stealing from legitimate business.
"Imagine a world where nobody hates anybody any longer, where there is no more fighting and no more killing.
"Imagine a world where you can walk down the streets of the city - or any city - safely at any hour of the day or night without fear of your life.
"Imagine a world where there are no more dead bolts, and chains, and locks, and bars over windows.
"Imagine a world where there are no more prisons - where there's no more violence.
"Imagine a world where men and women [are] married in holiness and godliness, and women were not being used as cheap, exploitive [sic], devices to satisfy the lust of men. And imagine a world where there was no more perversion, and homosexuality, and lesbianism, but men and women functioned as God made them, where they brought up their children together in love, where there was no more divorce, and where little children knew who their mothers and fathers were.
"Imagine a world where the Word of God was honored and people said, 'This is the answer to life's problems.' Hallelujah!
"And Imagine a world where those who brought that book, and those who had the message of Jesus, were the honored representatives of society where men and women said, 'Welcome into our community; you have come with the Word of God.'
"Now you say, 'That sounds like the Millennium.' Well maybe some of it does, but some of it we're going to see."16
What Robertson described is a utopian society based on peace and love. He evidently fails to understand that no such society can exist as long as men live in corruptible flesh. By saying that "some of it we're going to see," he infers that some, if not all, of these scenarios are possible in present society. Yet there is not a single one that is possible given mankind's sin nature - unless ninety-eight percent of the human population were wiped out, leaving only conscientious Christians and some moral unbelievers, or there was instituted a police state of greater magnitude than that of the Soviet Union.
Even during the Millennium, with Jesus reigning in person, there will be those who rebel against His laws. That is why He must rule them with a rod of iron (Revelation 2:27).
There cannot be, nor will there be, anything like a perfect society until only the saints of God in their resurrected bodies occupy the earth. That will take place after the Millennium and during eternity in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21).
If Scripture does not promise any such society before then, what hope is there that, under the fallible rule of supposed "overcomers," even a substantial portion of sinful humanity will live righteously, voluntarily or otherwise?
Robertson's error lies in his applying to the Church certain Old Testament Scriptures that promise the restoration of Israel out of captivity. He also believes that there is a raising of human consciousness toward righteousness in Christ. That belief, based upon a Gallup Poll commissioned by CBN, reveals a lamentable naiveté for one some believe astute enough to hold the highest office in the land:
"George Gallup discovered that something happened in America about four or five years ago. Because we said, 'We want you to go back and survey people and find out the difference of their attitudes today versus 1979 about religious matters.'
"George Gallup went to the campuses of America. He surveyed with extremely accurate testing methods the attitudes of college students on the campuses of America. Fifty percent of those on the college campuses said, 'We are more religious today than we were five years ago.'
"Of the general population, sixty percent of the people in America said, 'We are more willing to accept religious solutions to life than we were five years ago; we are more religiously inclined than we were five years ago; we are looking for answers from God more than we were five years ago; we are turning away from science, from humanism, from materialism, and we're saying, 'God, you've got to have an answer'."
"Now that's what America told Gallup and he in turn told us. Now what does that mean? Well what it means is we are on the verge of one of the greatest spiritual explosions in the United States that this world has ever known. That's what it means.
"It means that millions and millions of people are open to Jesus Christ."17
All Gallup's poll really means is that people in the United States are becoming more religious. What does religiosity have to do with Jesus? In fact, the religious entities enjoying the largest surge of interest are those commonly associated with the New Age Movement. These include the entire spectrum of occultism from witchcraft to the human potential programs of EST, TM, Eckankar, and Summit, to the eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, and even most schools of modern psychology.
While a later poll by Gallup found that there definitely is an increase in the number of people in the United States who profess to be "born again," their answers to questions about their lifestyles revealed that their values are just as worldly as the rest of society.18
This is borne out by Pat Robertson's own attitude about how his CBN Bible, 'The Book,' was advertised when it first came out in 1984:
"At the end of September we're going to start perhaps the biggest advertising blitz for this particular product that's ever been put behind any book in history. And we've even got guys like Bubba Smith to stand there and say, 'I read 'The Book'!'...And Donna Summers, and a couple of the stars from 'Dallas,' and one of them from 'Dynasty,' and all these are going to say, 'We read 'The Book'!'
"And reading the Bible, in America, may get to be one of the most 'in,' important things people do."19
It seems not a little incongruous that people who represent some of the most ungodly media productions are used by Robertson to sell Bibles in the interest of converting society from ungodliness.
Robertson also believes that, in this present age, the wealth of the world will be turned over to God's people, along with the responsibility of ruling society:
"Somebody has got to sew some tents together, and sew some nets together, and get the literature together, and all the things that are needed to handle 400 million to a billion souls that are going to be saved in the next few years! I mean, it's a staggering task and God's going to give it to us! Someone has got to train the future leaders of this world, because God is going to put us in positions of responsibility.
"Let me ask you this question: Assume that the Lord took away from the governments of this city, this state, other states, the nation, all the ungodly and the sinners. Assume they were just taken away. What would happen then if He said to His people, 'Go in; it's yours'?
"I don't know how to run a sewage system - do you? How do you run these things? What do you do with a tax policy? What's the foreign policy of the United States, or of a state? How do you handle the various taxes and imports and duties? How do you run the various social welfare and social service operations? What about the welfare of great numbers of people? What about the major educational programs?
"And you could go on, and on, and on, and on. God's people have got to be ready for what He's going to do. It's one thing to sit here and say, 'Hallelujah! There's going to be a revival!' But what are you going to do when it comes?
"...There has to be preparation; there has got to be training. There has to be a teacher corps ready to train young converts in the Lord. If you want to concentrate on something while you're here, concentrate on the plan you're going to have for the next five years. What's going to happen when all these things that we talk about take place? We will see them happen!"20
You mean there are going to be taxes in the utopian society? And social welfare? Obviously Pat wasn't talking about the Millennium. So the question arises as to how God is going to remove the "ungodly and the sinners" to the point where we will have a perfect society before Jesus returns.
It should be of concern that anyone would believe that a godly society could be established among unregenerate mankind to the degree that there would not even be a need for prisons. Will human nature change? Not likely. Evil is not only manifested outwardly through crime and immorality; it is primarily manifested inwardly through the thoughts and intents of the heart (Jeremiah 17:9).
Robertson believes that revival will change the hearts of mankind to the degree that godliness will prevail upon the whole earth. Scripture tells us that toward the end of this age the love of many will grow cold because sin will abound (Matthew 24:12).
While we know that "the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just" (Proverbs 13:22), it is not a given that we will take over the world before Jesus returns. Though we may point to isolated testimonies of inheritance from sinners, we will not inherit the earth in its totality until after we stand before Jesus to receive our rewards for deeds done in the flesh (Romans 2:6; II Corinthians 5:10). Yet Robertson believes that Jesus will not return until after the Church has taken control of society and judgment has come upon the ungodly. In the meantime, we are to prepare ourselves to take dominion:
"...Now what do you do? What do I do? What do all of us do? We get ready to take dominion! We get ready to take dominion! It is all going to be ours - I'm talking about all of it. Everything that you would say is a good part of the secular world. Every means of communication, the news, the television, the radio, the cinema, the arts, the government, the finance - it's going to be ours! God's going to give it to His people. We should prepare to reign and rule with Jesus Christ."21
At this point Pat called for preparation to begin with prayer, after which he led the Maranatha Campus Ministries Convention in a prayer for revival as a prelude to taking dominion.
Obviously Pat wasn't talking about the new heaven and the new earth when he said everything that is "a good part of the secular world" would be ours. He was speaking of taking dominion before Christ returns. This is borne out by his reference to the "good" part of the secular world. There will be no secular world in the new earth. Nor, for all practical purposes, will there be a secular world during the Millennium, at least in terms of government, since the government will be administered under the direct, visible kingship of Jesus.
Why, if the Church is going to have dominion, Jesus would catch us up to meet Him in the air, is unclear. Are we just going to go up for a moment and come right back down? That would fit the scenario of some dominion teachings. If not, what will happen to society while we're absent during our celestial vacation? Would it be turned back over to some remnant of the ungodly that remains?
The inconsistencies in Robertson's eschatology are even recognized by Gary North, one of the leading advocates of Dominion Theology. Referring to the effect of David Chilton's 'Paradise Restored' upon television ministers, North says of Pat Robertson,
"Pat Robertson was so concerned that his evangelist peers might think that he had switched to Chilton's version of postmillennialism that he wrote a personal letter to many of them (including one to me) in the summer of 1986 that stated that he had not adopted Chilton's theology.
He mentioned 'Paradise Restored' specifically. Then he outlined his own views, in which, as a premillennialist, he somehow completely neglected to mention the Great Tribulation. That a doctrine so crucial to premillennial dispensationalism as the Great Tribulation could disappear from his theology indicates the effect that Chilton (or someone) has had on his thinking....
"...The change in Pat Robertson's thinking (and the thinking of many premillennialists) had begun several years before 'Paradise Restored' appeared. Rev. Jimmy Swaggart begins a highly critical article against 'kingdom now' theology, including Pat Robertson's version, with a lengthy excerpt from a speech given by Rev. Robertson on Robert Tilton's Satellite Network Seminar on December 9-12, 1984. This was several months before I handed Rev. Robertson a copy of 'Paradise Restored,' and about a month before the first edition of the book was published. He had already made the switch away from traditional dispensationalism."22
"Pat Robertson has presented a message so completely postmillennial in its tone that it is difficult to understand why he continues to insist that he is still a premillennialist. I have never seen a public pronouncement of any postmillennialist that is more detailed in its description of a coming era of external blessings. I know of none who thinks it is coming in the next few years, but Pat Robertson did, in late 1984."23
I have no doubt that those who believe the scenario set forth by Robertson are sincere in their desire to see God's righteousness prevail on earth. But danger lies in expecting more than God's Word promises. Jesus said that in this world we would have tribulation; yet we are to be of good cheer because He has already overcome the world (John 16:33). Eventually, when God ordains it, the earth will be ours as joint heirs with Christ. Until then we should not try to take for ourselves what He has not ordained for us to take. God allows evil to exist in the world, and it will continue to exist, if for no other reason than to test the hearts of men. He is the final arbiter of when evil will be done away with once and for all.
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