Who Invented Dominionism?
That is the Question
- C. Peter Wagner
There is a fascinating ongoing Internet discussion going on right now from all sides of the Dominionism issue. Some are denying it exists. Others are having semantic debates about the term itself. Others are scrambling to whitewash and soften the term, or are distancing themselves from its more extreme teachings. Some are claiming that conspiracy kooks invented it. Others are claiming that Liberal Leftists invented it. Some blame Reconstructionists Rushdoony and North, and steadfastly (or sarcastically) refuse to look at the other Dominionist streams. The Reconstructionists are scrambling to distance themselves from the 7 Mountains. And Francis Schaeffer is rapidly being reinvented on all sides. Revisionist history abounds. Here is just a smattering of the type of comments about it from all sides of the issue:
Christian Right observer Rachel Tabachnick, in an article citing evidence of the Dominionism of the NAR, reviews some of the Internet hoopla:
Sarah Posner, another Christian Right observer, interviewed Anthea Butler, who came up with some insightful comments about the struggles the media is having with understanding this movement:
Chip Berlet, a longtime observer of the political Right from the vantage point of the political Left, defended Sara Diamond's reputation. Diamond, who wrote the 1989 book Spiritual Warfare about the rise of Dominionism in the Christian Right, has recently (and incredibly) been blamed for concocting the term "Dominionism." This is a classic case of blaming the messenger. Berlet generously takes some of the blame himself for popularizing the term to explain the phenomena that he was observing in the 1990s:
Who First Used the Term Dominion/Dominionism?
All of this leads to the bottom-line question. Who first used the term DOMINIONISM? Some of the semantic tap-dancing about this word ignores the fact that the root word of this is DOMINION, which is a biblical term found in Genesis chapter 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." This is similarly repeated in verse 28 with the additional words, "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." Obviously, the Scripture uses the term "dominion." In its plainest literal sense this verse has traditionally meant that man is placed over God's creatures.
But the Dominion (or "Cultural") Mandate teaches something very different from this. In all of its various forms, brand names, and theological streams it teaches that these verses have to do with the church exercising authority (sometimes called "influence") over the world system: society, culture and government.
Who first taught it? When and where? To answer this completely would require a doctoral dissertation. To make it simple, we will list below some brief samples where the terms DOMINION or DOMINIONISM are used in the sense of this Genesis 1 "mandate."
In 1987, Gary North, leading Reconstructionist wrote a book that based his economic theology on Genesis 1:28, writing:
It might surprise some folks to know that Jeremy Rifkin used the term "dominionism" back in 1979 in his book The Emerging Order, and he used it in the context of Genesis 1 and creating a mandate for stewardship over the earth itself. He wanted to enlist the support of the Charismatics to energize his idea of a "new covenant" for global Dominion. We wrote about this a year ago in a post "The EMERGENT BLUEPRINT":
But the idea of Dominion goes even further back to 1966, when Franklin Hall called for Dominion in the book you see at the top of this post. Hall, who is best known for his book Atomic Power With God Through Fasting and Prayer (1946), had a tremendous influence on the rise of neo-Pentecostalism, and many of his teachings on a "restoration" were incorporated into the church. His reliance upon occult doctrines, astrology, UFOs, and pagan gods teachings influenced men like Oral Roberts, and also William Branham (who would be influential in the rise of the Latter Rain cult which is the foundation of the New Apostolic Reformation). NAR critic Mike Oppenheimer documents Franklin Hall's call for Dominionism:
Al Dager, whose 1990 book Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion (Sword) chronicles the rise of early Dominionist theology, says, "In his book, Subdue the Earth, Rule the Nations, Franklin Hall quotes Revelation 12:5, and states that the man child of the sun-clothed woman represents the overcomers [of the Church]." It is this type of eschatology, tied in with the Genesis 1 "mandate" that makes Dominionism a volatile theology. Dager also quotes from Earl Paulk, whose ideas about immorality were embedded in Dominionism. Paulk said:
Jesus Christ, as the firstfruit of the Kingdom, began the work of conquering death on an individual basis, but we, as His church will be the ones to complete the task. Jesus said (Matthew 28:18), "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth," and the church today has that same power. Death will not be conquered by Jesus returning to the earth. It will be conquered when the church stands up boldly and says, "We have dominion over the earth" [emphasis added]
Paulk was also an early advocate of the Five-Fold Ministries concept, a teaching which C. Peter Wagner embraced as essential doctrine of the New Apostolic Reformation. Five-Fold is the belief that in the latter days apostles and prophets must be positioned as leaders in order for the kingdom to be established on earth, i.e. Dominionism. Furthermore, Paulk believed that the "way in which we will receive God's strategy for dominion is through angelic visitations as well as visitations from departed saints."[emphasis added] The strange signs and wonders and manifestations that often accompany the NAR's version of implementing Dominionism are seen as a fulfillment of this impending Dominionism.
Concerning this Five-Fold teaching that "restoring" apostles and prophets are necessary for Dominionism, Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, an expert who observed the rise of the NAR, explained how it entered the Charismatic Renewal movement:
Ern Baxter, cited above, and one of the Fort Lauderdale Five, delivered a speech in Kansas City in 1975 in which he called for a "corporate mature man" that could exercise Dominion. He preached:
Concluding his speech, Baxter asserted:
For more examples of early uses of the term Dominion and Dominionism teachers, see the compilation by Sandy Simpson titled "Dominionism Exposed" at http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/dominionismexposed.html.
The Recent Rash of Amnesia Cases
So Sara Diamond can relax. Chip Berlet can relax. Rest assured that others used the term Dominion or Dominionism before the critics used it, and this go way back into the Latter Rain cult movement. Many observers of the Dominionism phenomena only watched the rise of Reconstructionism, which has such strident rhetoric that it is hard to miss. A few noticed Kingdom Now teachings. But few were aware of the multi-faceted streams of Dominionism that lurk in places like the stewardship environmentalists, the global prayer movement, the mission movement, the cultural renewal movement, the leadership training movement, the emergent movement, and especially the rise of the New Apostolic Reformation. What many don't realize is at the upper levels certain leaders of these various streams of Dominionism have been networking and associating with one another, and that this has been going on for many decades.
C. Peter Wagner, global mission and church growth leader with high visibility and credibility in mainstream evangelicalism, didn't just suddenly rise to power as head of a 7 mountain empire. He built his NAR network virtually without critics (except for a handful of small discernment ministries). How could he do this? Because he was already highly networked into several other streams. Also because, as critic Rachel Tabachnik correctly observes,
Wagner has a gift for making the NAR's agenda of elimination of all other belief systems sound benign, as he speaks glowingly of a future without poverty, disease, and corruption.... Wagner does not specify how this utopian vision is to be achieved or the role that the demonization and scapegoating of others plays in bringing it about. The movement has developed a blueprint for justification of the demonization of others and markets it as love, charity, and social justice.
But now that the cat is out of the bag, it is particularly interesting to watch the Reconstructionists scramble to distance themselves from the New Apostolic Reformation. Gary DeMar's group American Vision issued a statement titled "Seven Mountains Dominionism: 'Not the same brand'" in which they affirm the "dominion mandate of Genesis 1:28" and state "Thus, we should apply God’s Word to things like business, economics, government, family, media, art, etc., with the goal of dominion throughout the earth." (This is the same neo-Kuyperian spheres, otherwise known as the 7 mountains in NAR-speak.) What don't they like about the NAR? It seems that American Vision is also suspicious about the fabled story about Bill Bright and Loren Cunningham having a vision about the 7 mountains in 1975 (which account doesn't surface in evangelical history until 7 mountains marketeer Lance Wallnau appeared on the scene a few years ago). American Vision's suspicions about this history are quite fascinating:
It’s funny to me how God’s alleged extra-biblical revelation to these men seems to have taken some key notes from Rushdoony’s earlier publication, two years after the fact....) 
We expressed our own suspicions about this Bright/Cunningham story in a Herescope post on June 25, 2007, "Seven Apostolic Spheres," in which we noticed:
The amazing quote within the quote above is attributed by Wagner to a “privately circulated paper" of Lance Wallnau’s entitles “A Prophetic, Biblical, and Personal Call to the Marketplace.” Apparently in this paper Wallnau spiritualizes the “high places” of these 7 spheres or mountains which supposedly have “principalities and powers that control” them.
We also asked in a post several days later, titled "Neo-Kuyperian Spheres,"
Oddly, Gary DeMar's group seems to have forgotten that he once worked alongside the NAR Dominionists in their formative years as they together built the Coalition on Revival organization for Dominionist action on earth, starting with the American political scene. DeMar was on the Editorial Committee, and this group issued seventeen "sphere" documents that parallel the NAR's 7 mountains.
But perhaps the reason for this "memory problem" may be a sudden onset of "amnesia," which Dr. Warren Throckmorton says is widespread:
"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8)
1. This is a transcription of a recording of C. Peter Wagner delivering a speech to the 2008 "Starting The Year Off Right" conference. The YouTube location of this recording is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ecszOPc95s8. This is also posted at http://www.rightwingwatch.org/print/8018 where these words are transcribed.
2. Rachel Tabachnick, "Quotes on Dominionism From the Apostles and Prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation," August 26, 2011, http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/8/26/193314/769/Front_Page/Quotes_on_Dominionism_From_the_Apostles_and_Prophets_of_the_New_Apostolic_Reformation
3. Sarah Posner and Anthea Butler, "A journalist and a scholar of religion share notes on Rick Perry, the New Apostolic Reformation, and the recent brouhaha in the press about how much importance to accord to right-wing religion," http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/atheologies/5026/beyond_alarmism_and_denial_in_the_dominionism_debate/. A overboard reaction against this article was authored by David French, "I'm a Dominionist? I Had No Idea," 9/1/11, http://www.nationalreview.com/blogs/print/276046.
4. Chip Berlet wrote the Preface for two of Russ Bellant's excellent books detailing the history and financing of the political and Religious Right: Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party (South End Press, 1991) and The Coors Connection (South End Press 1991). Russ Bellant spoke at a Discernment Ministries conference in 1997, after the publication of his third book The Religious Right in Michigan Politics (Americans for Religious Liberty, 1996), on the history of the rise of Charismatic Dominionism in the Word of God Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan which spawned the Promise Keepers movement.
5. Chip Berlet, "How We Coined the term 'Dominionism,' 8/31/11, http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/8/31/17047/5683. In the full text of his comments, Berlet was also referencing Fred Clarkson, who wrote Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy in 1997, and also used the term in this era. Earlier in the article Berlet refers to Bruce Barron's 1992 book Heaven on Earth? The Social & Political Agendas of Dominion Theology, noting that "Barron was worried by the aggressive, intolerant, and confrontational aspects of Dominion Theology; and was especially concerned that these ideas had seeped into the broader Christian evangelical community. Dominion theology is not a version of Christianity with which Barron is comfortable."
6. Matthew Poole's circa 1600s commentary on Genesis insists that this is a "permission rather than a command." In other words, there is no "dominion mandate." Matthew Poole, A Commentary on the Holy Bible, Vol. 1 Genesis-Job (Hendrickson), p. 5. See also http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/secret-mission.html and http://herescope.blogspot.com/2007/07/cultural-mandate.html for more explanation on how modern variations of the Cultural Mandate doctrine were concocted.
7. Gary North, The Dominion Covenant: Genesis: An Economic Commentary on the Bible, Vol. 1 (Institute for Christian Economics, 1987), p. ix. http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/pdf/the_dominion_covenant.pdf. As a consequence of this belief, "It is North's belief in a visible kingdom of God to be constructed by us on this present earth ('post-millenialism')," says North critic Ellen Myers, "The Dominion Covenant: The Foundation of Christian Economics," http://www.creationism.org/csshs/v05n1p18.htm
8. "The EMERGENT BLUEPRINT: Part 5: The Next Great Awakening. . . Or Great Deadening?" Herescope, 10/6/10, http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/10/emergent-blueprint.html. This article was part of a series. Part 6, titled "The Emerging Order" can be accessed here: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/10/emerging-order.html Note that Rifkin, like other proponents of Dominionism, refers to a Second Reformation and a Third Great Awakening, which are connected to the idea of a New Apostolic Reformation at a multitude of levels. Note Constance Cumbey's insightful comments and history on Jeremy Rifkin's Dominionism. We are indebted to Cumbey for alerting us to Rifkin in her book A Planned Deception, where she says that Rifkin wrote in his book ENTROPY: A New World View (Bantam, 1981) that "...Only the entropy paradigm provides a scythe that is both sharp enough to cut through the tangled debris of this death-bound culture and broad enough to clear a path for the dawn of a new age. . . The specifics of what is to be done can only come after a thorough cleansing away of the last remaining vestiges of the mechanical world view. Our own conversion is the first order of business. Only when we have cast aside forever the old way of thinking and behaving and take onto ourselves the new entropic world view will we be ready to go forth and remake our culture. The new order of the ages must begin with a revolution in science, education and religion. . ." (Citation: http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL1998AugSep.pdf)
9. See Al Dager's book Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion (Sword, 1990), pages 49-56, for documentation on Hall's influence. Also see the August/September 1998 Discernment Newsletter http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL1998AugSep.pdf. Many of Hall's occult ideas are suddenly becoming popularized again.
10. Mike Oppenheimer, "A NEW Thing," Let Us Reason, http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain11.htm,
11. Mike Oppenheimer, "The Cleansing for the Kingdom," http://www.letusreason.org/latrain14.htm To understand this "man-child" concept, see page 40 of the book Strange Fire: The Rise of Gnosticism in the Church by Travers and Jewel van der Merwe, posted online http://www.discernment-ministries.org/StrangeFire.pdf. Also see the May/June 2007 Discernment Newsletter, http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/May-June2007.htm
12. Vengeance Is Ours, Ibid. From Franklin Hall's Subdue The Earth, Rule The Nations," page 11. See article "Purging the Earth" posted at: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/l27.html#note32 This is a fascinating history of early Dominionism thought that influences the NAR to this day.
13. Vengeance Is Ours, Ibid., p. 102, quoting Earl Paulk, The Proper Function of the Church (Atlanta: K Dimension Publishers, undated), p. 13. The best guess is that this book was published by Paulk in the 1980s.
14. See Al Dager's lengthy account of Earl Paulk in his chapter on "Dominonism Teachings," Vengeance Is Ours, pp. 85-122.
15. Ibid, p. 109.
16. Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, "Assessing Current Teachings, Issues, And Events With Scripture," http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/secondpentecost.html
17. Ern Baxter, "Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 5 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975, http://ern-baxter.blogspot.com/2006/04/thy-kingdom-come-part-5-kansas-city.html
18. Ern Baxter, "Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 6 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975, http://ern-baxter.blogspot.com/2006/04/thy-kingdom-come-final-part-kansas.html Note that in Part 1, Ern Baxter refers to Jesus as the "pattern Son": "God's final Voice, God's ultimate manifestation, God's own darling Son whom He plucked from His bosom and into whom He poured all the riches of His wisdom and grace. This beloved One came down 'for us men and for our salvation' to become God's final voice, to become the pattern Son, to become the ideal Man after whom He would pattern a whole community of redeemed ones." http://ern-baxter.blogspot.com/2006/04/thy-kingdom-come-part-1-kansas-city.html
19. Rachel Tabachnick, "C. Peter Wagner's Response to Increased Exposure of the New Apostolic Reformation," 9/9/11, http://www.talk2action.org/printpage/2011/9/9/133916/9724 Tabachnick is referring in particular to an interview C. Peter Wagner did with Voice of America at http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Religious-Movement-Linked-to-Texas-Governor-Stirs-Controversy-129411833.html Regarding C. Peter Wagner's damage control campaign, see also: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/print/8084 ; http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/31851-the-new-apostolic-reformation-is-not-a-cult .
20. In terms of solid historical evidence, this story has some serious problems. Yet this joint vision has formed the foundation of the 7 mountains movement. We wrote in our post "Seven Apostolic Spheres," that "As the story goes, Cunningham and Bright each had a spiritual experience in which the vision was imparted to them by God of “seven chief categories of society” where the church needed to “concentrate” to “turn the nations back to God.” Wagner quotes a portion of Loren Cunningham’s book Making Jesus Lord (YWAM, 1988, p. 134), where he recounts this experience." We quote from the writings. Of course, 1988 would have been at the height of the Coalition on Revival, which underscores the point made by McDurmon below. Os Hillman, who helped to launch Lance Wallnau, published Loren Cunningham's "Original 7 Mountains Vision" in 2007 here: http://www.reclaim7mountains.com/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=40087&columnid=4347 See also: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/09/next-great-awakening_20.html . Cunningham's book has been republished many times, but here is one account: http://tinyurl.com/4xnp8xf
21. Joel McDurmon, "Seven Mountains Dominionism: 'Not the same brand,'" 9/8/11, http://americanvision.org/5130/seven-mountains-dominionism-not-the-same-brand/
22. This is documented in a chapter in Vengeance is Ours, titled "Coalition On Revival: Putting Feet on the Dominion Agenda." There is considerable more factual information that could be added in at this point. The Dominionism family tree is very interconnected with many of the personnel from all streams interacting with each other for the past four (and more) decades.
23. Dr. Warren Throckmorton, "Dominionism? What Dominionism?" http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/dr-warren-throckmorton/dominionism-what-dominionism.html