Monday, May 15, 2006

Global Dominionism: Past and Present

Rick Warren and his Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan are getting a free ride from the "liberal" media establishment. Surprisingly, this is happening despite the increasingly dominionist rhetoric calling for a "Second Reformation" and "advancing" the kingdom. By merging his global agenda with the likes of rock star Bono, and popular social causes, Warren has virtually guaranteed that his pursuits would be applauded without in-depth inspection by the mainstream press.

Various reporters from media outlets have contacted evangelical discernment ministries this past year trying to locate churches dividing over purpose-driven program controversies. This makes for saucy, gossipy stories suitable for the tabloids but it is not investigative reporting. The real story behind the Global P.E.A.C.E Plan has yet to be scrutinized by the press -- Who is financing it? What are the intricate and potentially unethical corporate/church & mission/state entanglements in various nations in Africa? etc.

Friday's Herescope post examined the new working cooperation between leading evangelical mission groups (NAE) and the World Council of Churches (WCC). By building upon the emotive appeal of eradicating poverty or curing AIDS -- both pet projects of Rick Warren -- these two groups may find little opposition in the press to their collaborative arrangements in the near future. The media may simply ignore these joint ventures; or worse, commend this openly for the newfound spirit of cooperation.

There is a very interesting history behind this cooperation. Unbeknownst to most reporters in the mainstream press, the Federal Council of Churches (FCC, a forerunner to the now-global WCC) has held to its own dominionist worldview. And it began to aggressively pursue its goal to build a "kingdom of God on earth" early in the last century. The press at the time ignored or sugar-coated the dominionist theology of the FCC, most likely due to media bias in favor of the social action programs that resulted.

But this common core of dominion theology raises some intriguing concerns about the new cooperation that is rising between the WCC and the NAE. Will the press continue to ignore or sugar-coat the dominion theology inherent in these newly-rising, globally-oriented, social action programs?

The following fascinating historical excerpt is from pages 159-161 of Dr. Martin Erdmann's Building the Kingdom of God on Earth: The Churches’ Contribution to Marshal Public Support for World Order and Peace, 1919-1945 (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2005), available here. This excerpt is significant because it reveals the depths to which the State believed it could use the Church to further its aims.

4.6 The Federal Council and the New Deal

. . . [T]he FCC convened a special meeting in Washington early in December 1933 to face the emergency then confronting the churches and the nation [the worldwide economic depression, ed.] and to take whatever action it could. The outcome of this special conference was to result in a far-reaching change in the relationship of the secular state to the ecclesiastical authorities. The FCC initiated an amalgamation process which in time blurred the distinction between its new social order and the New Deal. . . . Still basically leading toward collectivism, the New Deal was not accomplishing the degree of social and political collectivism that would bring about the realization of [the kingdom of God on earth]. . . .

The most dramatic moment at the special meeting in Washington was reached as both President Roosevelt and Henry Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture[45], addressed the assembled clergymen and established the grounds of a close working relationship between state and church from the vantage point of the political authority. The outward pretence of upholding the constitutional provision of a clear separation between the religious and secular realms of society was conscientiously maintained, but in reality it was brushed aside in favour of a close cooperation to usher in a new age, as it was hoped, of material prosperity and social harmony. In speaking of the prosperity that he envisioned for the nation, Roosevelt said:

“It can be a prosperity built on spiritual and social values rather than on special privileges and special power. Toward this new definition of prosperity the churches and the governments, while wholly separate in their functioning, can work hand in hand. Government can ask the churches to stress in their teaching the ideas of social justice, while at the same time government guarantees to the churches. . . the right to worship God in their own way. The churches, while they remain wholly free from the suggestion of interference in government, can at the same time teach millions of followers that they have the right to demand of the government of their own choosing the maintenance and furtherance of a more abundant life.”[46]

A close analysis of this address shows that Roosevelt saw in the churches a force of social change in American society. The Social Creed of 1932 had led the Council into a situation in which it would do the will and bidding of the state. The Council had come a long way from its early stance that it would never become the auxiliary of a political party and would never actively endorse or support a particular economic or political program.

The speech of Henry Wallace was even more revealing than Roosevelt’s. Wallace explicitly challenged the Protestant churches to initiate a sweeping change that would bring it into closer harmony with the New Deal:

“I am wondering if the religion we shall need during the next hundred years will not have much more in common with the Christianity of the second and third centuries or possibly even with that of the Middle Ages than with the Protestants of the past one hundred years. The strong personal initiative conferred by the Protestants’ religion must in some way be merged into a powerful religious attitude concerning the entire social structure. . . I am not talking about welfare drives and other forms of charity which good men among the Protestants, Jews and Catholics alike support so loyally. The thing that I am talking about goes far deeper. It is an attitude that will not flow from external compulsion but that will spring from the hearts of the people because of an overwhelming realisation of a community of purpose. Perhaps the times will have to become even more difficult than they have been during the past two years before the hearts of our people will be willing to join together in a modern adaptation of the theocracy of old.”[47]

All emphases added. Reprinted with permission. Endnotes:
45. Henry Agard Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture (1933-40), vice-president (1941-45), Secretary of Commerce (1945), presidential candidate of the ultra-leftist Progressive Party (1948).
46. Federal Council of Churches, Federal Council Bulletin 17, no. 1 (January 1934), New York, 7-8.
47. Ibid., no. 2 (February 1934), New York, 6.


The Truth

Of particular interest in the historical material presented above is that last paragraph, a quote by Henry A. Wallace, which bears a striking resemblance to the modern calls for a "Second Reformation" (Rick Warren) or New Apostolic Reformation.

"But I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." (1 Corinthians 15:50)

More on this topic tomorrow!