Reflections on life, marriage, and purpose...by a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

OK...THIS explains it

Curiosity about the fear some seem to have concerning Christianity has propelled me to do a bit of research trying to discover what our lefty friends seem so wadded up about. I think I've uncovered it. They have a special name for it (one I wasn't familiar with, beyond hearing foggy references, until today): Dominionism.

Dominionism is our secret evil plot to take over the government and the world. (Just in case you guys aren't up on the plan, because, like me, you weren't even aware that you were part of this movement...;o)

Wikipedia gives us the scoop. Here are a few quotes:

Dominionism is a term used by some social scientists and critics to describe a trend in Protestant Christian evangelicalism and fundamentalism that encourages political participation in civic society by Christians through appeals to their religious beliefs. Politically active conservative Christians rarely use the term dominionism as a self-description; many feel it is a loaded or pejorative term. Use of the term is primarily limited to secular and leftist critics of the Christian Right. The term emerged in relation to the Christian Right in the mid-1990s, but became more widely known due in large part to the U.S. presidential election, 2004 where the media attributed Republican wins to "Evangelical" voters in "Red states" who voted for "moral values". Some poll analysts call this claim oversimplistic. It has been claimed to be a kind of Triumphalism.

Aha! So "Dominionists" are Christians who practice civic participation! That's scary. But wait...there's more...

The dominionist interpretation sees adherents as heeding a command from God to all mankind to subject the world to the rule of the Word of God. The terminology of dominionism, and the broad concept of the trend described by critics, has been taken from the Bible's text in Genesis 1:26
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our
likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping
thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Christians typically interpret this verse as meaning that God gave humankind responsibility over the Earth, but anti-Dominionist critics commonly point to this passage as a paradigm that influences Christian attitudes of Westernist domination over the Earth and everything in it.

Ok, let me see if I got this straight: I always thought Genesis 1:26 means that human beings are to be good stewards of the land and animals God has placed in our charge. But actually, the verse is a secret call to "Westernist Domination." I'm intrigued! (Maybe I should go claim my portion of the Bahamas right now...)

Some organizations and writers who are targeted with the label of "dominionism", disagree with the categorization of their beliefs as a political ideology. They admit that their Christian beliefs influence their vote but deny that they seek political domination. In fact, many so-called dominionsts see that voting one's moral convictions is entirely consistent with Democracy, and that criticizing Christians for doing so is hypocritical.

Mmmhmm. But that's not as much fun...voting one's moral convictions...remaining consistent with Democracy, etc., etc. It would be much more interesting to be part of a Dominionist government overthrow!

But Critics such as Frederick Clarkson, the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy, frankly express their fear that, as this coalition of religious people grows, democracy and pluralism will be increasingly under attack. During the administration of George W. Bush, critics of the Dominionist idea have sometimes claimed the trend is representative of all Christians of a Republican or politically-conservative orientation. New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, for example, has equated the sermons of James Dobson to the rhetoric used in the former Yugoslavia to justify the slaughter of Muslims by Serbian Christians, and he has characterized federally-funded Christian charities as "parallel indoctrination systems."

See, all of us Christians are part of this together! You can't claim ignorance now!

According to the conservative Washington Times, some "liberal" critics of dominionism express "hostility toward Christian conservatives." [1].

I'm shocked.

Stanley Kurtz, in the conservative forum, National Review online, complained that discussion about Dominionism (at a conference in New York and in articles in Harper's Magazine) often linked average Christian evangelicals with extremism, such as views found at the fringes of the very small but influential movement known as Christian Reconstructionism:
The notion that conservative Christians want to reinstitute slavery and rule by genocide is not just crazy, it’s downright dangerous. The most disturbing part of the Harper’s cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside 'the old polite rules of democracy.' So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians — by any means necessary. [2]

Oh, so we would get our own personal slaves too? (I'll have to think about whether I want one or not. Maybe just to clean the bathroom.)

One conference speaker criticized by Kurtz is Katherine Yurica, who has written about the rise of Dominionism as a theocratic tendency in the Christian Right.[3][4] Yurica responded to Kurtz and pointed out that she has not used the term "Christian Fascism" in her writings.[5] Yurica has noted fascistic tendencies in Christian Right Dominionism, but she does not consider the Christian Right to be "Christian."

Christian conservatives, however, are not the only people who suggest that some criticism of dominionism is hyperbolic. Even some progressive researchers warn of the tendency. For example, two progressive websites that challenge the Christian Right but urge respectful rhetoric are Talk to Action and Campaign to Defend the Constitution.

Respectful rhetoric is good. But maybe they shouldn't naively take such a light tone with us, being evil Dominionists and all...

14 Comments:

Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Erin, I googled 'Reconstructionist' on Carmon's blog and this link came up. It might help you understand about Reformed Theology a little more.

http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/five_points/

4:55 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks for the link, Mrs. B! I've printed parts of it out to read. Having skimmed it though, I noticed that the author seemed to be making a distinction between reconstructionism and "ostensibly reformed" or "semi-reformed" denominations. I just wanted to point that out, because it seems that there are differences between some groups within reformed theology.

5:23 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Maybe so Erin. I found another link that talks about what Reconstructionist believe. Here is the link.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/reconstr.htm

I e-mailed CS Hayden, Crystal and Carmon to ask them if what the article says, accurately portrays what people of Reformed Theology believe or if it is not true. I will let you know what they say.

I know that 'Dominionist' and 'Reconstructionist' are largely used words in the blogosphere right now. I am curious to know if this is what people of Reformed Theology ACTUALLY believe or if the link I provided exaggerates what they TRULY believe. I'll let you know what CS, Crystal, and Carmon have to say when they get back to me. (o:

5:43 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Mrs. B- excellent idea to write them! I'm not trying to start a theology debate on this blog, but I am trying to learn about and understand different interpretations on God's Word. It would be helpful to hear from people I respect who may (or may not) have reconstructionist views.

Funny how trying to study birth control led to all of this:o)

6:22 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Erin: I don't like rumors or gossip so IMO it's always best to try and get to the straight truth of the matter of things and since I don't know anyone of reformed theology, in person, I thought asking my cyber friends would be good. I've heard back from CS Hayden....it's a little long but here goes:

"I have great respect for many of the people who call themselves
"Reconstructionists" or "Dominionists." However, I believe that common
perceptions about what they believe are very misguided. For example,
many articles I have read (including the one to which you provided a
link) say that "Reconstructionists" wish to force God's Law onto
society
in a top-down manner. (For example, the article said that
Reconstructionists advocate genocide, which is patently absurd.) There
might be people out there who want to do this, but I have never heard a
Recon say this. It is simply a made-up lie to slander the Dominionists.
Another thing I will point out is that I don't agree with everything
the
Recons or Dominionists write, although I share most of the basic tenets
of their worldview. For example, I uncompromisingly believe in the
sovereignty of God, the supremacy of His rule and Word over everything,
the necessity of presupposing Scripture as the standard for truth,
obeying His command to subdue the Earth and take dominion of everything
for His glory, and the eventual triumph of His Kingdom in time and
history. Some people call these things "Calvinism," "theonomy,"
"presuppositionalism," "dominionism," and "postmillennialism." I prefer
not to label myself with these words, but they are the basic tenets of
Reconstructionism.

If you want to learn more about Recons and Dominionists, I recommend
reading Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Demar, and Gentry, among other authors.
Some
good websites are www.chalcedon.edu and www.americanvision.org. Also,
Vision Forum adheres in large part to these ideas, particularly the
sovereignty of God, presuppositionalism, dominion, and theonomy (the
supremacy of God's Law, properly understood and applied in light of the
death, burial, and resurrection of Christ). If you really want to dive
in to studying the Recons, I can provide a list of books and
resources.

I hope this helps. Please don't take this email as the final word on
the
topic. This is just a summation of my views in a nutshell. Again, I
prefer not to label myself a "Reconstructionist" because there are too
many crazy ideas going around about what a Recon really is. So, I
respectfully ask others not to label me as a "Reconstructionist"
because
I am not comfortable wearing this label.

Thanks again and God bless!

Caleb"

--Erin, I'm not trying to start a debate or anything either but since you brought those terms up and I've heard them so much, recently, I was curious as to what they REALLY mean...I'm just the type of person that if I don't know or understand something, I ask, because I believe in TRUTH and I despise rumor, slander and gossip.

6:35 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Exactly, Mrs. B...and I really appreciate that! Thanks so much for sharing C.S's response!

It seems to me that "Dominionism" as a buzzword among liberals connotates something a bit different than what it actually is. And if there are people on the extreme fringes of Reconstructionism/Dominionism, they don't represent the Christian and/or reformed community at large!

6:48 PM, February 22, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

I think you're right, Erin those seem to be the tactics of the left......I'll let you know what Crystal and Carmon say.

6:53 PM, February 22, 2006  
Anonymous The Happy Feminist said...

I only just learned the terms "Dominionist" and "Reconstructionist" recently. I actually thought "Dominionist" was the preferred term of this group. I guess I was wrong!

I am very interested in Rushdoony and Vision Forum, and have been meaning to post on them recently. My main concern (if I understand correctly and maybe I'm wrong)is that Rushdoony advocates the notion of imposing Biblical or Christian law on our country, including a lot of "scary" Old Testament law involving stoning people and such. I am not sure if I have this right or not but that would definitely concern me.

I think you are one hundred percent correct that all Christians should not be tarred with the same brush. Every belief system (including leftists) have "scary" radical extremists.

2:02 PM, February 23, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Hi Erin. Crystal got back to me and this was her answer:


(("Well, honestly, I’ve never studied reconstructionism. I know there are some whacked out ideas out there and whacked out beliefs. I know that most people who are Reconstructionists are reformed, but I wouldn’t say the reverse is true. I probably have some reconstructionist beliefs, but I wouldn’t call myself a reconstructionist. That article is definitely quite exaggerative from what I read.

I certainly wouldn’t want to impose the death penalty like that (though I have no problem with the death penalty being used when someone has murdered another life and been proven guilty) nor do I believe women are property (except for the property of God!). And there are many other things in that article which seem way off base.

I prefer to study the Bible for my beliefs and not get caught up in all these theories and theologies – you know what I mean?"))

It's what we thought...a few extremists made the left wingers label us, who believe that we'd like the country to be run on Biblical principles, as people who want to 'force' Christianity on everyone and kill anyone who isn't....how absurd!!

10:57 AM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Erin said...

Thanks for posting Crystal's response! Yes, it is a slight bit absurd:op

11:51 AM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Carrie said...

Erin, I enjoyed this post--I admit I skimmed through parts of it, but I got the gist of it. :) I especially liked your comments to the various quotes. In particular, this one: "Oh, so we would get our own personal slaves too? (I'll have to think about whether I want one or not. Maybe just to clean the bathroom.)" LOLOLOL!!!! :D Thanks for the giggle!

8:39 PM, February 25, 2006  
Blogger Jessica said...

I did a short article on Dominionism/theocracy, and the tenents of Biblical Reconstruction a few weeks ago. It kinda started because several bloggers that I read from had mentioned Rushdoony, and I found that overall, I didn't understand much of what these people collectively believed and where it came from. I found out quite a bit, and although I definately agree that no two people are exactly alike, the idea that there is a movement out there that contains and extremism that advocates corporal punishment and imposed biblical law as government was more than a little disturbing to me. I hope to do a followup that specifically addresses more aspects of Dominionism, as I am finishing the a lot of the books written by authors and advocates of the movement.

Great Post!

Jessica

10:33 PM, February 26, 2006  
Blogger zan said...

I am not in support of Reconstructionism at all. I talked to my parents about it and realized that a few people I used to know were Reconstructionists.

I believe the Puritans were of this belief and that is why they had their colony and system of government. However, much good they did, it bothers me that they would bannish people who did not accept their beliefs to the wilderness. They did this to Roger Williams (who founded Rhode Island) and Anne Hutchinson (who did have some pretty weird ideas but, I don't think that they should have bannished her entire family to die in the wilderness.) Her entire family was killed by hostile Indians. I just don't see the love of Christ in that type of belief system. If someone strays from the flock I have always thought that we, as Christians, are to try to win them back with love. Yes, we point out, to them, where they have erred (ex. we don't ignore adultereous affairs)but cast them out to die in the wilderness???

Another thing, from what I understand, Recon's believe in a government similar to the Old Testament. One thing that was very different back then is that God was directly speaking to the leaders. This does not happen today because we have the Bible.

Anyway, I am no authority on this subject but I do know that it is a very small majority of Christians and I am not that worried about their takeover.

9:53 AM, February 27, 2006  
Blogger Mrs.B. said...

Zan, I had never heard the term until I started reading blogs, especially liberal blogs. It's not something my church teaches in ANY way and I'm not one either.

Another thing, from what I understand, Recon's believe in a government similar to the Old Testament. One thing that was very different back then is that God was directly speaking to the leaders. This does not happen today because we have the Bible.

That's how I feel too, Zan.

11:03 AM, February 27, 2006  

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