More Reportorial Pooh Poohery about Dominionism
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 03:41:13 PM EST
In the interests of simplicity, I want to focus on just one aspect of latest contribution to the literature of pooh poohery about dominionism and the New Apostolic Reformation.  

The lengthy story by Associated Press religion writer Rachael Zoll on October 17th, mentions Talk to Action in passing, stating that NAR leader C. Peter Wagner has "become a lightning rod for critics of dominionism, largely because of the extensive research of Talk2Action, a liberal investigative site and one of its writers, Rachel Tabachnick."   But somehow, she managed not to cite any of that research, or for that matter, anything from Wagner's writing regarding dominionism.

Indeed, while the AP story emphasizes the "Latter Rain" roots of NAR theology, it completely ignores Wagner's own acknowledgement of the influence of the most important Christian theocratic theologian of the 20th century, R.J. Rushdoony, and how Wagner all but names himself as Rushdoony's successor.

Had the AP checked, they would have learned that what Wagner has said to reporters lately is different than what he has said in his published work.  The AP quoted Wagner as saying:  
"There's nobody that I know - there may be some fringe people - who would even advocate a theocracy," Wagner said in a phone interview from Colorado Springs, Colo., where his ministries are based. "We honor those who have other kinds of faith."

Here is how independent journalist Greg Metzger, who has been researching and writing in this area, rebutted  similar assertions by Wagner made during a recent interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air.   He looked first to the sources the AP later ignored.    

Wagner said on Fresh Air:  

"In terms of taking dominion, we don't - we wouldn't want to - we use the word dominion, but we wouldn't want to say that we have dominion as if we're the owners or we're the rulers of, let's say, the arts and entertainment mountain."

Metzger responded first by pointing out that Tabachnick reported (on October 4th) that Wagner said something very different at an NAR event in 2008.  

"Dominion has to do with control. Dominion has to do with rulership.  Dominion has to do with authority and subduing and it relates to society. In other words, what the values are in Heaven need to be made manifest here on earth. Dominion means being the head and not the tail. Dominion means ruling as kings. It says in Revelation Chapter 1:6 that He has made us kings and priests - and check the rest of that verse; it says for dominion. So we are kings for dominion."

Then Metzger highlights a quote from Wagner's 2008 book titled, Dominion!: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World,  in which he explains why he uses the term dominion and explicitly places himself in the tradition of the seminal thinker of theocratic dominionism, R.J. Rushdoony:

The practical theology that best builds a foundation under social transformation is dominion theology, sometimes called "Kingdom now."  Its history can be traced through R.J. Rushdoony and Abraham Kuyper to John Calvin. Some of the notable pioneering attempts to apply it in our day have been made by Bob Weiner, Rice Broocks, Dennis Peacocke and others. Unfortunately, the term dominion theology has had to navigate some rough waters in the recent past.  A number of my friends, in fact, attempted to dissuade me from using dominion in the title of this book, fearing that some might reject the whole book just because of the title.

One does not have to take the view that Wagner's views are identical to those of Rushdoony to show that he is so deeply conversant with Rushdoony's work that he chose place himself in his immediate theological wake.  Metzger writes:

Wagner has chosen to call his views dominion theology not in spite of major objections to Rushdoony but because of what he sees as his faithful application of Rushdoony's dominion theology.

Tabachnick, writing in response to an earlier pooh poohing of dominionism and NAR also drew on Wagner's book on dominionism, observing:

C. Peter Wagner, the major architect of the movement, writes that theocracy will not be necessary in order to take dominion, and that it can be achieved inside a democratic framework. He uses language that is less threatening than the legalistic tome of Rushdoony's 1973 The Institutes of Biblical Law.  Wagner states in his 2008 book Dominion!,


"The rules of the democratic game open the doors for Christians, as well as for non-Christians who have Kingdom values, to move into positions of leadership influential enough to shape the whole nation from top to bottom."

Under the heading "The Majority Rules," Wagner adds,


"If a majority feels that heterosexual marriage is the best choice for a happy and prosperous society, those in the minority should agree to conform - not because they live in a theocracy, but because they live in a democracy.  The most basic principle of democracy is that the majority, not the minority, rules and sets the ultimate norms for society.

The term theocracy can have an archaic and ominous feel to it, but Wagner, like others in the contemporary Christian Right, understand that many theocratic ends can be achieved in alliance with like minded people on selected matters, through ostensibly democratic means. Wagner seeks to neutralize public concern about his vision and his methods, by disingenuously redefining both democracy and theocracy to suit his purposes.  Wagner can run from his view by turning terms with clear meanings into a fog of vagueness -- but he cannot hide his ambitious vision of conservative Christian supremacy in all areas of life including politics and government.  

One does not have to look very far into the "extensive research" at Talk to Action or into the works of C. Peter Wagner to find these things.  

I transcribed C. Peter Wagner's talk to the Arise Prophetic conference several years back and it is on the Deception in the Church website.  I'm linking it so those who are interested for research or informational purposes don't have to wade all the links to find it.  I know it's long but it's worth the read.  I do have the original tape, as well as a CD of the almost identical talk he gave to the Every Nation International Conference in 2004.  That was the year I left my old church which was in that movement.

The key quote here is, "it takes a government to overthrow a government," eight paragraphs in.  He says that at least twice.

Rhetorically, it is "church government." But in context this church government is to overthrow the secular government.


His words... this is NOT hyperbole.

by ulyankee on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:05:10 PM EST

Under the subtitle "Overthrowing a Government" Wagner stated in his 2008 book Dominion!,

"Let's remember that our responsibility for taking dominion amounts to an invasion of territory that Satan has held for a long time.  Think of the seven molders of culture.  Satan has succeeded in maintaining control in each of them because he has established a government in each one. And it takes a government to overthrow a government. The people of God constitute the Church in the workplace, but this extended Church has been relatively impotent because it has not had a biblical government."

Perhaps we need to start sending copies out to journalists?

by Rachel Tabachnick on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 06:18:48 PM EST

Unless you get a copy to Rachael Maddow or some other similarly high-up pundit odds are good that poor journalist will be too busy with drudge work to read it.

by Hirador on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 11:03:44 PM EST

point of the whole article. As I have shared the article with people I have pointed that out and I am going to use this from Frederick to highlight it further. I do think that she dug deep into reaction to the NAR story, but I wish she had dug deeper into what Wagner has actually said on dominion. He played the same avoidance game with Terry Gross and if people are not ready for that deflection they miss it.

by gregmetzger on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 10:09:37 PM EST
IMO:  Any story about NAR and politics that does not feature clear, strong reporting on the role of dominionism will appear to be a tempest in a teapot; and have the unavoidable effect of slanting the story to the views of those who when they do not know, pooh pooh.  

Either dominionism matters or it doesn't.  That's the story here. And it is long past time that as interested and concerned reporters, scholars, and activists, we really try to sort this out.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Oct 18, 2011 at 11:12:46 PM EST

mainstream reporter. It got the religious and political themes laid out clearly, and quoted folks from several POV's. Let's not get too snotty about our research.
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 10:02:37 AM EST
My alleged stuffy nose not withstanding, Chip, I think it is fair to point out that since the matter of dominionism and NAR was the element of greatest concern that led to the round of post Perry prayer rally critical reporting in the first place -- that issue of dominionism was not well defined, sourced, and developed in this story.  This was very avoidable for the reasons I outlined above.

The upshot, in my opinion, is pooh poohery about dominionism.  

I think that is reasonable media criticism.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 10:58:57 AM EST

running under the title "Two Cheers and a Jeer" taking what might be a blend of Frederick's and Chip's perspective.

by gregmetzger on Wed Oct 19, 2011 at 02:44:06 PM EST

The recent article on Dominionism and the New Apostolic Reformation by Associated Press religion writer Rachael Zoll contains a noticeable lack of important research and information.  nevadas bill to prohibit firearms Despite mentioning Talk to Action and NAR leader C. Peter Wagner, the article fails to cite their research or Wagner's connection to theocratic theologian R.J. Rushdoony. Further investigation proves that Wagner's recent statements have contradicted his published work, leaving readers to question the true intentions of dominionism and its advocates.

by isabelladom on Fri May 05, 2023 at 01:43:09 AM EST

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