Dominionism teaches that the gospel of salvation triumphs by setting up the kingdom of God as a literal and physical kingdom to be ‘advanced’ on earth in the present age. Last month I reviewed the rise of dominionism and described the three main movements that propagate dominion theology within evangelicalism today. I now consider how, during the last decade, these three groups have openly converged into an ecumenical force.
The three branches of dominionism are linked historically at many levels, and there is solid documentation to support the idea that the current convergence was planned.1 While opponents focused on political dominionists in American and what was going on in Iraq, the three movements quietly went global, advancing through ‘economic, social, political and spiritual transformation’.
The global dominionists have employed sophisticated psycho-social methods, statistical research, socio-economic development tools, market research, strategic planning, assessments, databanking, and so on. They are also seeking alliances with governments, corporations, philanthropic groups and other entities. Below are some key examples of this convergence around a global kingdom worldview.
During the 1980s, political dominionists in the Coalition on Revival (COR2) cranked out documents advocating a Christian worldview in seventeen ‘spheres’ of life and ministry – education, healthcare, the family, the arts, science, law, media, government, business, etc.
Some observers were furious because COR didn’t just write a philosophical statement but ‘determined that it is mandatory for all Christians to implement that worldview in society, particularly as it applies to the dominionist interpretation of the Great Commission’.3
The worldview sphere documents didn’t disappear when COR began to fade but have acquired a global life, having become incorporated into mission agendas. Mission groups are now partnering with governments, business corporations, NGOs, humanitarian entities and others to build their ‘kingdom’ in the cultural life of selected nations around the globe.
For example, the Disciple Nations Alliance (DNA) claims on its website to be: ‘a worldwide Christian movement that exists to effect a paradigm shift in churches around the world. Our passion is to envision churches to see themselves as God’s principle agents of Kingdom advancement, and to serve them in fulfilling their strategic role in the transformation of their communities and nations’.
DNA then declares: ‘The seven spheres of influence described below will help us shape societies for Christ. God gave us these handles to use in carrying out Matthew 28 and discipling nations for him. We believe he is wanting all his people to see the importance of these seven areas and work in them to extend Christ’s reign throughout the earth. The Family & Health Care; Commerce, Science and Technology; The Church; Government; Education; The Media; The Arts, Entertainment and Sports’.4
These seven ‘cultural spheres of influence’ are now also referred to as the ‘seven mountains’ that must ‘prepare for the triumphant return of the King by completing the dominion mandate’.5
The three-legged stool
The dominionists’ kingdom must be advanced on Earth by gaining control or influence over three entities – governments (State), business (Corporations) and the social sector institutions (Church). New bridges are being built based on a triangular relationship between these three sectors of society.
The Church is forming partnerships (or collaborations) with governmental and/or corporate interests in order to implement dominion. Peter Drucker, the management guru, devised this agenda to create a global three-legged ‘healthy society’. Rick Warren (of Purpose-Driven fame) was mentored by Drucker, as were a number of other evangelical leaders such as Bob Buford of Leadership Network.
Buford trained an entire generation of aspiring megachurch pastors in Drucker’s social philosophies and the megachurches are based on the latter’s corporate business model. Drucker’s ideas also undergird the faith-based Church-State movement which has been politically championed by neo-conservatives in Washington.
Rick Warren has single-handedly accomplished more to bring about convergence between the three dominionist movements than any other individual. Warren received his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary under the tutelage of C. Peter Wagner, doyen of the ‘spiritual warfare’ dominionists.6
Dubbed ‘America’s Pastor’ by the media, Warren is now embarking on a marketing campaign to set up a model of Peter Drucker’s ‘healthy society’ in Rwanda, under the banner of missionary and charitable endeavours.
Warren has launched a grandiose plan to ‘transform’ Africa – to ‘cure AIDS’, ‘end poverty’ and ‘fulfil the Great Commission’, and has audaciously called for a ‘Second Reformation’ based on his global P.E.A.C.E. Plan, which is a study in dominionism.7
Those who fret over Warren’s foray into AIDS8 may miss the more serious dominionist ramifications of his overall plan. Warren is amassing a volunteer army of ‘one billion foot soldiers’ and has built a high-tech databanking facility (complete with armed guards) to implement his strategies.9 The Baptist Press website reports:
‘In addition to its message of compassion, the [Saddleback Church AIDS] conference sought to impart several other points emerging from Warren’s global P.E.A.C.E. plan.
Based on the Great Commission to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) and the Great Commandments to love God and to love our neighbours (Mark 12:28-34), the plan is Warren’s approach to attack what he calls the five ‘global giants’ – spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases and illiteracy and poor education – by Planting churches, Equipping servant leaders, Assisting the poor, Caring for the sick, and Educating the next generation’.10
In the remainder of this article (and by way of illustration) I shall concentrate on just one area of dominionist global endeavour – the attempt to integrate Christian mission with corporate business.
Corporate business ventures are dressing themselves in missionary garb to create new markets in undeveloped Third World countries, particularly those rich in natural resources. This is being done in the name of ‘kingdom-building’.
In order to establish a spiritual aura for these activities, a high-tech Global Day of Prayer was established in May 2005 by the Spiritual Warfare sect working together with Rick Warren.11
This annual event is designed to promote dominionism worldwide. Corporate ‘marketplace ministry’ claims to promote sustainable development, free trade and community development activities – but these commendable objectives can hide a dominionist agenda.
One influential marketplace mission organisation is Transform World, which is a patent example of dominionism.12 Mission groups are taking up the quest for expansion and financial gain by linking with business corporations – who in turn are taking up ‘mission’ to expand their markets. Meanwhile, C. Peter Wagner has cooked up a new definition of ekklesia (Greek for ‘church’) to fuse the church with the corporate workplace.13
In an interview with Business Reform, Ed Silvoso of Harvest Evangelism said:
‘What is required is a change of heart. The heart of the nation is the marketplace – the combination of business, education and government, the three arteries through which its life flows. If we take God’s power and presence to the marketplace we will see nations changed …’
Business Reformadds: ‘… to change a man you must first change his heart … Silvoso’s idea, though, is far more radical – cities can be changed in nature; countries can be redeemed; entire cultures can be brought to “salvation”. The land itself, in fact, can be healed. And such a miraculous change is brought about through one primary avenue: God working through the marketplace …’
These ideas are set out even more clearly by John Cragin in his book On Kingdom business:
Transforming missions through entrepreneurial strategies(Crossway, 2003), Chapter 15:
‘To achieve its purpose, the business mission company must develop and invest in Great Commission efforts that are synergistic with and leveraged by the company’s presence in strategically selected markets.
‘It must set standards for evangelism and discipleship, measure results, and evaluate results per dollar invested for every sphere of influence identified in the market analysis. Company spheres of influence and the spheres of influence of each team member are specific market segments targeted for impact … Any parts of the company that do not produce to standards are pruned. An axe is laid to the root of those that do not produce at all’.
It might seem unfair to view dominionism as ‘friendship with the world’ – which implies ‘enmity with God’ (James 4:4). Dominionists will protest that their purpose is not to compromise with the world but to take over the world in the name of Christ.
But as we consider how they seek to fulfil their purposes, we do see methodologies at work which inevitably degrade the gospel of God’s grace into a socio-political ‘gospel’ – the very liaison with the world that the New Testament warns us to avoid.
It is one thing to let our light so shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. It is quite another thing to perform those good works in order to advance our own influence and power on earth through collaboration with the secular and even godless institutions of this world.