Kingdom Now/Dominion/Restoration theology
Dominionism, or more properly, what Chip Berlet recently termed "Christian Nationalism" and what in the pentecostal and charismatic communities is alternatively referred to as "Kingdom Now Theology", "Dominion Theology", or "Restoration Theology" (yes, as in the Ohio and Texas Restoration Movements) has a bit of a complex history within the pentecostal community. However, it's an integral part of the theology of much of pentecostalism at this point, has been to greater or lesser extent a major part since at least the thirties and in some extent since the beginnings of pentecostalism, so it's important to understand--if, in part, to learn how even mainstream churches are being affected.
There are five major periods in time that I've identified specific influences in dominionism among pentecostals:
a) Some of the backgrounder (i.e. the belief they are an Elect, the whole Rapture thing, etc.) stem from the birth of pentecostalism itself in 1902 and even with predecessors of pentecostalism, in particular, with aspects of the Holiness and British Israelism movement (the latter also spawned Christian Identity).
Specifically, Pentecostalism itself is a descendant of the "Holiness Movement" in Protestant churches in the 1800's, and whilst most historians define two periods of "pentecostalism" of which "neo-Pentecostals" are the second main flavour, I'm not sure this is such a valid distinction--seeing as "neo-Pentecostalism" actually is descended from movements within "old school" pentecostalism.
The "Holiness Movement" was a movement within the Methodist church that aimed at "church reformation"--in fact, the principle of "baptism in the Holy Ghost", which is typically seen as the solitary proof one is a "true Christian" in those groups, started within Holiness. The pentecostal movement itself started out as a split from Methodism--starting in 1901, a large revival broke out at a church called the Azusa Street Mission, and the controversy over whether the "speaking in tongues" and other "signs and manifestations" were signs of demonisation or "God's Outpouring" ended up in the split between pentecostals and the Methodist Church.
In fact, much of the theology that was the basis of the "five-fold ministry" (remember that term--it becomes important later) was around as early as the 1830's.
The idea of "rapture" common in premillenarian dispensationalist dominionist groups (of which the majority of pentecostal groups supporting "dominion theology" tend to follow, and certainly most "Christian Nationalists" in the pentecostal movement) is also quite recent, Biblically speaking. DefCon America has done a good writeup on the subject, but here I'll refer to the specific sources that the DefCon America article used. John Darby was the originator of the "rapture theology" back in the early 1800s, and much of his theology is actually the basis of beliefs within the pentecostal flavours of dominionism:
Inspiration and Infallibility of Scripture Darby was unswerving in his belief that the Bible was the inspired, infallible Word of God, absolutely authoritative and faithfully transmitted from the original autographs. If the world itself were to disappear and be annihilated, asserts Darby, "and the word of God alone remained as an invisible thread over the abyss, my soul would trust in it. After deep exercise of soul I was brought by grace to feel I could entirely. I never found it fail me since. I have often failed; but I never found it failed me."
The combination of these two ideas in the crucible of pentecostalism led to the following--that pentecostals (and later dominionists) generally believe they are the first group since the early church of the Apostles to have actually gotten things right (and are proven so by speaking in tongues and "signs and wonders") but are also expressly an elect of God.
This becomes very important in later developments.
At least one source discussing dominionism even ties it to earlier theocratic movements.
b) Many of the coercive tactics were solidified in the very early years of pentecostalism, in particular, the concept of deliverance ministry. To give an idea of how long this has taken place, Aimee Semple McPherson (who is regarded as the world's first radio preacher; she was associated with the AoG and may have faked her own kidnapping) was preaching some aspects of deliverance ministry all the way back in the mid-1910s when she started her radio preaching empire. (McPhereson is still promoted in Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International literature, is still held as a pioneer in the Assemblies proper, and ended up founding a "breakaway" group from the Assemblies--the International Foursquare Church--which was the first "radio" church. Interestingly, the AoG and Foursquare split over the issue of divorce--which came up because her own husband sued to divorce her on grounds of abandonment.)
The role of "radio preachers", and later televangelists, in the role of promoting dominionism has IMHO been underestimated. Aimee Semple McPherson as early as the twenties was setting some of the foundation for "word-faith" theology and dominionist speech:
With God, I can do all things! But with God and you, and the people who you can interest, by the grace of God, we're gonna cover the world!
Another site quotes thusly:
It's for your good! You have no business being sick - everyone of you should get well and get up and go to work, huh? Get up and go to work and earn some money and help send the gospel out! Amen! If these dear students, bless their hearts, are called to struggle and strive and pinch pennies and make their way through school and go out and lay down their lives for Christ, then certainly it's no harder to ask us to get a good job and work at it, and not give a tenth, but give the whole business, except just what we need to keep ourselves alive. That's what they'll be doing out there - what's the difference? Am I right or wrong? I believe that I am! "Wist ye not I must be about my Father's business?!" THIS IS MY TASK!!
The same site details how even at this early date "sheep-stealing" among dominionist churches was seen as acceptable, as well as infiltrating mainstream churches:
I was so interested (in this radio program). I awakened the young lady at our house and I said, "Listen to this!" When Joanne came, it came to the part about the nuns even waving their hands and the people all cheering, I told of an experience of mine in Illinois where we were in a Foursquare church that had just been opened and the power was falling. Right next door to us was a convent. The sisters became so interested in the shouting and people praising the Lord, that they came over to see what it was all about. They had such sweet faces - in these black and white headgear. People had been falling under the power of God! Just going down under God's power all around. Do you know, that God's power struck them and they went down just the same way! Under the power of God! By and by, the Mother Superior came in to see what had happened to their daughters, and the power of God struck her. Why, we're all the same! I mean, we all have a heart, we all have tears, we all have sins, we all need a Savior, we all need the blood, and every one of us can work for Jesus. Whether we go across the ocean or whether we stay at home, this is our task. Lord, make us soul-winners, every one of us.
The beginnings of "stealth evangelism" also are present even at this early date:
Mark 16:15 (says), "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature!" And if you're ushers, orderly, prayer tower, band, teachers, employees, members - get your uniforms on! Oh, let's all shine where we are!
And here, too, high demand to be blatant regarding one's demand that everyone "convert or else" shows up even at this early date:
I heard a story this week of a man who wanted a gardener. He advertised and his friend sent a beautiful recommendation concerning a certain man and he said, "He's just a wonderful gardener!" He said, "He's capable of planting a kitchen garden. He's capable of nursing bulbs and bringing them up to fruition. He has the infinite patience of a gardener. He's able to put in a formal garden, and old-fashioned garden." The man began to say, "My that's just the man I want!" He came to the end of the page, turned it over and there were just three words there: "But he won't."
Much, if not most, of the support for dominionism within the pentecostal and charismatic movement is based on support from televangelists and the "travelling pastor circuit" as I'll note further in this essay.
Lest people doubt this was just a radio phenomenon, the first major victory for "proto-dominionist" groups in the pentecostal movement as well as among Southern Baptists was none less than legal prohibition of alcohol. It was not until the 1930's--with the Depression and a crime wave directly related to bootlegging--that the constitutional amendment was reversed. Some of the major supporters of Prohibition were the very same denominations that now are backing dominionism. We forget the lessons of Prohibition at our peril.
At least one other sites notes that the roots of dominionism may go all the way back to the very founding of the pentecostal movement--pentecostalism is itself an outgrowth of a "Restoration" movement that occured in the Holiness churches in the late 1800s, and pentecostals generally see themselves as the "restoration" of the original church (aka everyone else has screwed it up before they came along and they're the first in 1900 years to get it right). This is also, likely, where the Ohio and Texas Restoration Movements get their name--the "father church" of the Restoration Movements and Vision America is a pentecostal-esque "independent charismatic" church in Ohio.
c) A great deal of the foundation for dominionism within the Assemblies and other pentecostal groups is the "word-faith" movement--aka "name it and claim it". Early word-faith preachers operated back in the 30's and 40's and "word-faith" teaching is pretty much the basis of nearly all modern televangelism and radio preaching.
As I've noted, Aimee Semple McPherson may well have been the first "name it and claim it" preacher on the airwaves. She was followed by several others--in fact, this is one of the areas that is pretty much "core theology" in much of the Assemblies of God and other pente churches, and is viewable on pretty much any religious network.
The basis on how "name it and claim it" is less known among those who've never been involved in pentecostalism. In fact, "name it and claim it" is an extension of dominion theology, or rather, dominionism and "word-faith theology" have identical roots.
In the dispensational churches (including the pentecostal-flavoured dominionist groups) it's believed that God gave man dominion over the earth, but God (and man) lost dominion when Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It was with Jesus's death (and, in some variations, spending three days in hell literally either being tortured by or wrestling with the devil--more on this in a bit) that people finally regained the ability to gain dominion but the world outside of the True Church (in their eyes, the pentecostal and charismatic movements) is still literally Satanic.
This, in a word, is the root of the spiritual warfare theology that is practiced in dominionist churches within the pentecostal movement.
d) At around the same time, "latter rain" or "manifest Sons of God" theology arose at or around the same time; William Branham has been generally recognised as the "father" of that movement, and it dates all the way back into the 30's and 40's (notoriously, William Branham has been associated with the Ku Klux Klan--not uncommon in Indiana in that time period; Christian Identity groups including the Aryan Nations have also been known to use Branham's speeches in their literature). This sitehas some further info on Branham in regards to the latter-rain stuff; of note, Branham was quite influential in regards to the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International, and in fact an FGBMFI newspaper from 1961 crows:
In Bible Days, there were men of God who were Prophets and Seers. But in all the Sacred Records, none of these had a greater ministry than that of William Branham, a Prophet and Seer of God.... Branham has been used by God, in the Name of Jesus, to raise the dead!
Latter-rain theology actually was so far out that even the Assemblies of God initially rejected it (in 1948), but due to the lack of practical enforcement in the church "latter rain" theology was still heavily promoted and mixed with "word-faith" theology. (The AoG actually has two main groups of churches--one operated by the denomination itself in Springfield, and a much larger body of churches who are affiliated with the AoG but own their own properties, etc. As I've noted before, procedures for becoming an AoG preacher are incredibly lax (literally signing a statement of faith, getting a recommendation from another AoG preacher, and paying a fee), similar to those in Calvary Chapel or Vineyard.)
Interestingly, "latter rain" has quite an early history in the pentecostal movement.
Per this link, many of the spiritually abusive tactics that existed in the AoG related to "latter rain" and word-faith and "spiritual warfare" teachings have a very early history.
e) "Latter rain" and "word-faith" theology combined in the 50's in the Assemblies of God traveling-preacher crucible to form what is now known as "Brownsville", "Toronto" or "Third Wave" theology which is a major basis for dominionism in that denomination. Again, we have an identifiable "origin"--in Paul Yonggi Cho (nee David Yonggi Cho), who also is head pastor of Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea (which is not only the largest Assemblies of God church in the world, but may be the largest Protestant chuch in the world--the main church itself holds about 18,000 people but if membership in the thousands of satellite churches throughout Korea is any judge membership is closer to a million). Yoido Full Gospel was founded literally only ten years after the AoG entered South Korea.
Cho originated some of the most coercive practices within the Assemblies of God (including the use of "prayer gangs" and prayer cells, the entire Brownsville thing, etc.); this, and the existing coercive tactics in the AoG and pentecostalism itself (including holding "men of God" as sacrosanct, the emphasis on Biblical literalism, etc.) combined with "manifest sons of God" theology (borrowed from the Oneness Pentecostals) and the existing "word-faith" theology in AoG churches combined in a deadly crucible to form the basis of "spiritual warfare" within that church.
Deception in the Church, a watchdog website following the "third wave" movement and more generally the word-faith and "latter rain" movements in pentecostalism, has more info on Cho specifically. This link has info on Cho and the "Third Wave" stuff (including specific mention of the dominionist church in Kentucky I walked away from, which was practicing "third wave" theology back in the 60's).
This expose notes the "Third Wave" origins from within the word-faith movement.
(A bit of explanation re this whole "third wave" stuff so I don't sound like I'm speaking Greek. Generally, pentecostal groups following this particular flavour of theology see three major "outpourings of the Holy Spirit"--the first being at Pentecost itself, the second being the beginning of the Pentecostal movement, and the third being placed generally anytime between the sixties to the eighties depending on when the "third wave" movement entered the church.
Much of the charismatic movement started during the early days of the "third wave" in pentecostal churches and is heavily influenced by this--Ted Haggard's New Life Church is a primary example of this, as are other dominionist megachurches that only identify as "independent charismatic".
Some sources list the waves as starting with Azusa and the second and third waves being the Charismatic movement and the Brownsville-esque "third wave" revivals.)
Regarding dominion theology in and of itself, at least practiced in dominionism:
This link notes a few names of note that haven't been already mentioned--Earl Paulk, Kenneth Copeland (who is a major televangelist), and Ed Silvoso. Kenneth Copeland is a major televangelist; the other two are best known in the "travelling preacher" circuit. The same link details some of the decidedly peculiar (in comparison with, say, mainstream Christianity) beliefs in "Restoration Theology":
Using Earl Paulk's words as his primary point of reference, Robert M. Bowman, Jr. has written about Kingdom Now / Dominion teaching. In the process he has given us a condensed summary of the Kingdom / Dominion ideology. Remember, current SW practice finds its conceptual home in this setting. Bowman writes:
Per this link, C. Peter Wagner and the founders of Youth With A Mission (a group that itself is a front-group of the Assemblies of God) are also listed as major promoters of dominion theology within pentecostal circles. Earl Paulk, a major fixture in the Assemblies of God traveling-preacher circuit, is again mentioned as the possible inventor of the term "Kingdom Now Theology" (which is often used as a synonym for dominion theology in these groups).
The spiritual-warfare emphasis in dominionist pentecostal groups dates all the way back to the Latter Rain, per the same article.
Many sources have noted Earl Paulk's part in promoting dominion theology, and there are hints he may have coined the phrase within the AoG itself.
"Restoration" is also a common code word in pente circles in particular for dominionist theology--this article speaks about this in detail in several articles, including the links between the Third Wave movement and Christian Reconstructionism. (Many of you are familiar with the Ohio and Texas Restoration Movements--well, that's where they get their name from. It's a pentecostal codeword for "dominionist".) This link also notes how "restoration" is a code-word or synonym for "dominion theology". Per this article, George Warnock is mentioned as possibly having coined the phrase "dominion theology"; again, it is squarely linked to Latter Rain teachings.
John Kilpatrick and Rodney Howard-Browne are listed as influential in spreading dominion theology per this link, which also details the relationship between "third wave" teachings, dominionism, and "word-faith" theology. (Howard-Browne is also influential in spreading "third wave" teaching in general and is often listed as the person who brought it to Toronto and later Brownsville; Howard-Brown and Cho are probably the two closest "parties of blame" for spread of "third wave" flavours of "spiritual warfare" dominionism.)
Per the same article, Assemblies of God televangelists Benny Hinn and Kenneth Hagin are listed as promoters, and in fact Hagin and Hinn may have coined the phrase "dominion theology" in part (if anything, the phrase was part of a preexisting movement in the AoG, but it's difficult to determine who actually invented it).
This article notes, again, strong connection between dominion theology and Third Wave theology (including the idea of "cursing people in the name of Christ").
One particular area of spread of these doctrines, too, is the role of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International. The FGBMFI is essentially the Assemblies of God's first "front group", and was originally set up as a front to target businessmen for conversion.
FGBMFI started in 1953 and has actually been one of the most active of the forty-plus AoG front groups in both explicit attempts to interfere in international politics and is also the front-group most consistently associated with dominionist movements in the US including Vision America (Ohio and Texas Restoration Movements). (An example of some of the kinds of stuff taught at FGBMFI get-togethers is here--this is a testimonial from a walkaway from the group.)
FGBMFI is also one of the major sources for spread of the "Third Wave" aka Brownsville movement in the AoG (which is highly spiritually abusive and is much of the basis of dominionism in these churches) starting in the 50's from Paul Yonggi Cho's Yoido Full Gospel church in South Korea. Cho has been saluted by FGBMFI and in AoG-affiliated churches the FGBMFI and Cho's church are often cross-promoted (see http://www.krt.org/linksLOTS.htm for an example--this is from a dominionist church, and the links section is a veritable who's who of dominionism in pente and charismatic circles).
Regarding the FGBMFI, they have a rather long and ignoble history with dominionist movements:
My starting plan was to help dogemperor with the Big NOLA list. I was suspicious of a local national/international relief organization - Northwest Medical Teams.
(AERDO, as an aside, is an umbrella group for dominionist "charities" including multiple Assemblies of God fronts and Pat Robertson's "Operation Blessing".)
The "prayer breakfast" article mentioned in the quotes notes how the FGBMFI is in fact associated with the Ohio Restoration Movement.
Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International is also one of the primary conduits for spread of coercive tactics that are associated with dominionism and dominion theology in these churches. Among other things, the FGBMFI were a major force in integrating the Red Scare into premillenial dispensationalism (an effort which led ultimately to an attempt to amend the Constitution), and there are multiple reports of spiritual abuse from the group. The FGBMFI was also one of the founders of the charismatic movement; per this link there are evidences that "Charismatic" movements were started in mainstream churches by Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship International as a deliberate attempt at "sheep stealing" (targeting other Christians for conversion).
The Peace Corps article on FGBMFI is especially telling:
Most members agree that we are "living in the last days," and that they are called to harvest souls before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Most of the group's members are businessmen, but prominent U. S. members include high military officers, ex-officers, or managers in the military-industrial complex, many of whom worked within the nuclear weapons establishment. Many of them believe that the Gog-Magog war prophesied in the Bible will culminate in nuclear war, but that they will be raptured before the apocalypse.
(References: 1. Larry Kickham, "The Theology of Nuclear War," inset on The Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 27, Spring 1987. )
One of the persons linked in this way is Oliver North, who post-Irangate commonly gives talks at pentecostal churches.
FGBMFI is, much like the Assemblies of God itself and several other pentecostal groups with dominionist tendencies, strongly linked to televangelism and the "parallel media" of dominionists:
FGBMI produces books, a magazine called The Voice (in seven languages), and Christian TV programs which are aired on networks such as Trinity Broadcasting and PTL, as well as independent stations. In fact, the group provided the seed money to found the Christian Broadcasting Network, PTL teleministries, and Trinity Broadcasting. The fellowship holds national, regional, and world conventions. Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, the evangelical ex-president of Guatemala, spoke at the world convention in 1984. At the 1986 world convention, people gathered the signatures and addresses of potential supporters for Pat Robertson for President.
A legitimate case can be made that the FGBMFI is the first "modern" dominionist movement:
Washington DC: Since 1964, FGBMFI has held regular military prayer meetings in the Washington area. There are now three chapters there, including one in the Navy Officers' Club, and the Secretary of Defense even arranged to have two prayer rooms built in the Pentagon. Reagan administration staff members have been instrumental in organizing FGBMFI prayer meetings among the Washington elite. A 1986 FGBMFI brochures list people "vitally affected" by the prayer meetings: Lt. Gen. Dick Shaefer, Col. Speed Wilson, Col. Hank Lackey, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Chief of Naval Operations, Maj. Gen. Jim Freeze, Maj. Gen. Jerry Curry, Col. Andy Anderson, Chief of Staff of Army, Chief of Staff of Air Force, Sgt. Maj. Bud Nairn and 1st Lt. David Nairn, and Brig. Gen. Charles Duke. (Some of the above people were unnamed in the brochure. ) FGBMFI founder Demos Shakarian was a participant in the Washington for Jesus rally in April, 1980. (See also Govt Connections. )
(Yes, that's right--they actively supported the Contras.)
In fact, per at least one history of the hijacking of the Republican Party, the FGBMFI are likely some of the prime architects (notably, they are listed as being just the Assemblies of God, which IS accurate--the FGBMFI is an Assemblies front group).
Kingdom Now/Dominion/Restoration theology | 38 comments (38 topical, 0 hidden)
Kingdom Now/Dominion/Restoration theology | 38 comments (38 topical, 0 hidden)