I Guess Dominionism Exists After All If Biblical Literacy Does Not

Oct 15 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I don’t know where in the Bible they see this stuff. I mean, I’ve read the New Testament beginning to end and there is nothing in there about any “Seven Mountains” or about when exactly Jesus will return or under what circumstances. Jesus himself didn’t say he would return, of course, but thought the end was coming very soon. Paul thought it would be right away, in his own lifetime; after he died his followers realized it would come later, but nobody could say exactly when and after awhile the wording in the New Testament changes to reflect this forlorn hope.

But the Dominionists have laid out this elaborate scheme that they insist God operates by, which, by my way of thinking, makes them God and God, well…something less than a God. Of course, they say their apostles talk to God and all but he talked to Paul too, and he didn’t tell Paul any of this. Still, it’s an entertaining fantasy scenario for Christian Bible camp bedtime stories so here goes.

Right Wing Watch reports that,

During a Spiritual Warfare conference at Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries, Pastor Ryan Wyatt of Abiding Glory Church preached on “Governmental Dominion.” Wyatt explained that Jesus is not going to come back until God sees that there is a “mature, overcoming bride” is “operating at the same level” as Jesus, at which point Christ will return and Christians “will work with Jesus to rule and reign.” Later, Wyatt said that “we are to rule, reign, govern, expand, advance and establish the government of God on the earth” since “this is about world domination.” He called on followers to “infiltrate” the seven mountains of influence, especially the government mountain, to attain “preparatory dominion.”

Watch the video from Right Wing Watch:

Whoa there Pastor Ryan! Hold on just a doggone second. A “mature, overcoming bride”? Really? And “operating at the same level” as Jesus? Isn’t this blasphemy, not to mention impossible? I mean, you’re saying that Jesus IS God, after all, correct? How can humans operate at a divine level and remain…well, human?

I hate to belittle any set of religious beliefs but this is just kooky, isn’t it? Any believable story will have some sort of internal consistency. It will make sense. The trouble with your very real world religion is that it reads like bad fiction. There are so many holes in what you’re saying, an editor would not know where to start. Jesus, I think, would return your script unread, as will, I suspect, the American people.

Let’s look at some of the things the early “church” believed about Jesus’ return:

Synoptic Gospels – Jesus really didn’t talk about himself coming back anywhere or at any time. As historian Michael Grant writes,

“According to later Christian doctrine this ultimate consummation would take the form of Jesus’ own Second Coming (Parousia). But therr is no reliable evidence that Jesus ever believed that it would be himself who would come again. For his apparent references in the Gospels to such an event are posthumous and inauthentic. For example, Mark’s thirteenth chapter, containing an allusion to this theme among other aspects of the end of the world, includes utterances by Jesus that clearly do not go back to his own time. Similarly, Matthew’s allusion to the imminent end of the world concludes with a reference to the ‘Coming of the Son of Man’ which bears all the marks of a subsequent interpolation.”[1] By the time Luke was written, Jesus wasn’t coming in his disciples’ lifetimes anymore.[2]

We see Dominionists citing Matthew 24:14 to say that the end won’t come until the gospel is witnessed to “all” nations – by which they seem to think “forcible conversion” applies – but you won’t see them citing Matthew 15 where Jesus says to his disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” or how he referred to Gentiles (those dominionists) as “dogs” (Mark 7:27; Matt. 15:26) and “swine” (Matt. 7:6).

Gospel of John – almost no mention of any such thing occurring

Acts of the Apostles -  8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23; 31. As Geza Vermes writes, “The gospel of Jesus was the gospel of the Kingdom; the ultimate hope of the initiates of the Jesus movement was, after ‘many tribulations,’ to ‘enter the Kingdom of God'(14:22).”[3]

Paul’s Epistles – Jesus is coming – like now: “the appointed time [had] grown very short” (1 Cor. 7:29), Christ will arrive “like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2); and most spectacularly, “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive…are left until the coming of the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15)! BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, no less. But Pastor Ryan disagrees with Paul. Apparently, either Paul is lying or Jesus lied to Paul. Not a promising outcome in either case! As Vermes says, “The precision of the language precludes any explaining away of a literally imminent Parousia.”[4]

Revelation of John – John lived near the end of the first century and already early Christians recognized this could not be the John who was a disciple of Jesus. This other John wrote an account of the end of the world that didn’t have much to do with anything Jesus had said while he was on earth or with what he had told Paul. Unlike all the other apocalypses written, both Jewish and Christian, this one became the blueprint for nutcases like those with whom we are dealing here. But as Bart Ehrman observes, this is an entire genre of literature and John follows certain established conventions, for example, they are first person narratives and the person has “symbolic visions or dreams” generally interpreted by a heavenly being.[5]

Of course, this is exactly what later Christians tried to do. 2 Peter, in Vermes’ words, “consists in pouring cold water on, and practically extinguishing, the last cinders of eschatological urgency so characteristic of the religion of the Galilean master.”[6] Pseudo-Peter writes rather lamely in explanation that for God time works differently than for man (2 Pet. 3:8-10), ignoring the fact that God told Paul it was coming before Paul died. Pseudo-Peter forces us to conclude that God tricked Paul, not at all a nice – or Godly – thing to do.

So in order to make this scheme work, modern fundamentalists have to ignore most of what Jesus said either directly or through Paul, and rely instead of an anonymous writer a good century after Jesus’ time who writes like he was high peyote, and making up a bunch of their own stuff to add to it based on their status as modern day “apostles” who have a direct line to God.

Sounds to me like a group of people who didn’t like how the story ends (the New Testament) and decided to re-write the ending to be more amenable to them. Sadly, there are enough Christians who don’t know their own Bible or their own religion to jump aboard and make a movement  out of what should be nothing more than a few disturbed voices crying out in the lunatic asylum. This is why it is more important than ever that progressive Christians – and those who have actually read the Bible – speak up.

 


[1] Michael Grant, Jesus (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977), 23-24.

[2] Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 3d ed.  (Oxford, 2004), 261.

[3] Geza Vermes, The Changing Faces of Jesus (Penguin, 2000), 145-151.

[4] Vermes (2000), 76.

[5] Ehrman (2004), 465.

[6] Vermes (2000), 121.

 

 

 

 

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