Friday, June 01, 2012

Why dominionism matters

{Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On August 30, 2011] Noted blogger Mark Byron, noticed a recent post of mine on the subject of the perceived threat of dominionism and thinks that I may be overstating my case. I think it would be perhaps fair to say that he feels that domionionism is like a yappy Chihuahua, and arguably not much of a threat. I appreciate what he has to add because, unlike so many, he seems to say "let's look at this in a serious way." He's done me a good turn, causing me to ask myself "why do I write on this subject?" After trying to give this some careful thought, I think I can give Byron some answers. I am at a bit of a disadvantage though. I usually write on Canadians and ex-Canadians who flirt, at least with the dominionist camp, and they might feel the need to "kick it up a notch" to get noticed up here. But, I do try very hard to report as much as I can, and what I have heard, starting with The Cry Vancouver has given me pause. So, please give his post commenting on what I had to say a read, and then come back to this one. I can see why people would not fear dominionism. They may point to history--which has failed Christian utopias. They may point to the increased historical trend towards secularization. They might even point to the widely help pre-millenial interpretation of the end times which holds that there will be a great apostasy and not a triumphant Christianity. Very persuasive. I will admit that for these and other reasons, I won't bet the mortgage money that dominionism will reign triumphant. But I know that I can be wrong. I know the imperfect nature of my fellow Christians. So, I will say that whatever you may think of the movement's clout, I would absolutely say that dominionism matters. It is worth paying attention to. And as I have some knowledge about the Canadian aspects of it, I try to do so. He argues that dominionists have "more bark than bite." Well that may be the case in the US, but I can cite some Canadian examples. Dominionists were crucial in proposing a law (Roxanne's Law) which, although it could not be passed, was at least debated and voted on. They provide foot solider support for less controversial seeming policies that they support, such as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's support of Israel, which may lead us to wonder whether a quid pro quo would ever come into play given the ways--discussed here at BDBO--that the movement seeks to remind the government that it is not going anywhere. It used to be significant in the minds of the Canadian media what the Anglican and United churches had to say on social issues. Now, it's less so. Instead, writers and reporters seem to be paying attention to the Faytene Grasseschis of the world--such as the French reporters from Radio-Canada TV last fall. This may well be due to the media seeking out the more extreme positions on questions, but for some reason the mainstream or evangelical churches in Canada can't demand media attention due to their numbers. Given that I've listened to dominionists talk about how they plan to take over the media, maybe they see a need to be especially media-savvy. It doesn't help that the more mainstream Christians don't take the time to explain that "No, these people are not like us" and then the unsaved in the press paint us all with the same brush. Mark Byron also suggests that we should pay careful attention to the small size of the dominionist movement. Well, in Canada, I am sure that there are thousands more members of the United Church than dominionists but, rightly or wrongly, they perhaps seem to be unable to make their influence felt in the same way that the dominionist seem to be able to at some times and in some ways. I hear talk amongst dominionists of 'gatekeepers", relying not only on force of numbers, but of getting the right person in the right place to effect change. Lull conservatives to sleep, and rely on them to fail, thinking that they can control the extreme elements. The example of von Papen and his friends in Germany comes to mind. Conservative Germans in 1928 probably though the Nazis were inconsequential and tiny, but given the wrong circumstances. It's often forgotten that the tiny Bolsheviks, as demonstrated by the votes for the proposed Russian constituent assembly of 1918 that was never allowed to meet, never has widespread support. But with their control of the streets that allowed them to seize the reins of power, that didn't matter. Am I seeking to say that dominionists are like Nazis or communists? Certainly not, but I do want to say that there are historical examples of "small" proving deadly. And if dominionism were to be become a mass movement, wouldn't it be prudent to have been looking at them already so that the "mainstream" members of Christianity could refute what they have to say? As Mark writes "I'm not sure if they are harmless", perhaps he may concede that someone could share of my objections to the lack of Christlikeness that I sometimes have seen in dominionism. The militaristic rhetoric and actions. Shouldn't Christians ask dominionists not to speak and act like they are thugs? Isn't intemperate religious rhetoric a bad witness? I would respectfully argue that saying that domionists will never have any real influence is of little consolation to an unsaved person wondering why, "these Christians aren't acting and sounding like Christians should." While most of the Christians that Mark Byron cites don't want to "take over the world", I fear that they do a poor job of making distinctions and explaining why the dominionists are incorrect in their theology. Like William F. Buckley trying to get people to forsake the John Birch Society in the best interest of the conservative movement in the 1950s and 1960s, the church may need to take out it's own trash. "Sermon rhetoric is often hotter" than the actions of parishioners, Mark Byron writes. But if dominionists are wrong, it can just take the wrong person to listen at the wrong time for bad things to happen. Due to my own background, I assume that people say what they mean and then go on to act accordingly. Planning as if they will do so, is prudent. Mark Byron appears to believe that a lot of dominionist talk is merely "spiritual warfare." Well, I have read the former Faytene Kryskow's book, Marked, whom I would suspect may be a dominionist and there are many passages in her book which are hard to describe as not referring to literal things. She writes (emphasis mine) in the dedication:
"This book is dedicated to the King of the nations, Jesus Christ, and to the reformers of old...who are now watching in that great crowd of witnesses cheering us on. I pray that we make them proud and that we bring many nations to the feet of our King so that both His and their labour is not in vain. the fullness of their promise is found in us (see Heb. 11:40)"
I am sure that Mark Byron would also find the implication that Christ's work on the cross was a complete failure if Christians can't "bring nations" to the feet of Christ to be abhorrent too. But while he and I might already know of these sorts of arguments, others may not. The word needs to get out. And that is one reason why dominionism matters. More to some than to others, certainly, yes. But it matters nevertheless. If you would say that Faytene is merely using rhetoric, I can point you to one of many passages in Marked, where you could say that she has a literal meaning in mind. From page 31, emphasis continuing to be mine:
"....There is something inherent in the nature of God that loves growth and wants to take over! Recently a preacher friend of mine, Banning Liebscher, said something that I wholeheartedly believe in. He said, "The new breed of revivalists that God is raising up has a 'take-over' mentality. they are convinced that God has called them to take over the world!...."
What does that mean? Faytene was kind enough to explain one aspect of what she meant when speaking in the run up of The Cry Vancouver in 2009. She was talking about some Canadian political poll results and coverage, which led her to think that a Cry event held previous to that in Ottawa, had a spiritual impact when she said the following:
“I want to show you guys something that will help you, will help us all together, to understand the power that is in our hand, the power that is in this room and the power that will be in our hands tomorrow. What you’re seeing right here is actually a political graph because that is what the newspapers, in Canada, currently track. This is politics, like, and like hockey and stuff. One day we’ll chart spiritual progression when we control the media. (Audience cheers and applause.)”
She is talking about actual Canadian newspapers that report on hockey and things like that. When "we" control the media, she explains, the actual physical newspapers will have very different stories because the actual physical editors and reporters now working for the media will be "we", the dominionists. Not a surprise to those familiar with the "seven mountains" that the dominionists feel a need to take over, eh? Rhetorical excess, Faytene has offhandedly explained here, can have a practical result. Mark has advanced some very wise and practical counsels in his post. In writing on the dominionists, we should not be prey to fear and we should try to be accurate in judging their actions and activities. It's very fair that other Christians don't feel the interest in dominionists that I do. But acting as if they don't exist is a mistake. I feel a burden to ring the bell, in case it is needed. Mark's post, nevertheless, is a caution to think carefully about what I do and argue, which I welcome wholeheartedly.