Posts Tagged ‘KIngdom’


A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future


In every age the Holy Spirit calls the Church to examine its faithfulness to God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, authoritatively recorded in Scripture and handed down through the Church. Thus, while we affirm the global strength and vitality of worldwide Evangelicalism in our day, we believe the North American expression of Evangelicalism needs to be especially sensitive to the new external and internal challenges facing God’s people.

These external challenges include the current cultural milieu and the resurgence of religious and political ideologies. The internal challenges include Evangelical accommodation to civil religion, rationalism, privatism and pragmatism. In light of these challenges, we call Evangelicals to strengthen their witness through a recovery of the faith articulated by the consensus of the ancient Church and its guardians in the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, the Protestant Reformation and the Evangelical awakenings. Ancient Christians faced a world of paganism, Gnosticism and political domination. In the face of heresy and persecution, they understood history through Israel’s story, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the coming of God’s Kingdom.

Today, as in the ancient era, the Church is confronted by a host of master narratives that contradict and compete with the gospel. The pressing question is: who gets to narrate the world? The Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future challenges Evangelical Christians to restore the priority of the divinely inspired biblical story of God’s acts in history. The narrative of God’s Kingdom holds eternal implications for the mission of the Church, its theological reflection, its public ministries of worship and spirituality and its life in the world. By engaging these themes, we believe the Church will be strengthened to address the issues of our day.


We call for a return to the priority of the divinely authorized canonical story of the Triune God. This story-Creation, Incarnation, and Re-creation-was effected by Christ’s recapitulation of human history and summarized by the early Church in its Rules of Faith. The gospel-formed content of these Rules served as the key to the interpretation of Scripture and its critique of contemporary culture, and thus shaped the church’s pastoral ministry. Today, we call Evangelicals to turn away from modern theological methods that reduce the gospel to mere propositions, and from contemporary pastoral ministries so compatible with culture that they camouflage God’s story or empty it of its cosmic and redemptive meaning. In a world of competing stories, we call Evangelicals to recover the truth of God’s word as the story of the world, and to make it the centerpiece of Evangelical life.


We call Evangelicals to take seriously the visible character of the Church. We call for a commitment to its mission in the world in fidelity to God’s mission (Missio Dei), and for an exploration of the ecumenical implications this has for the unity, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of the Church. Thus, we call Evangelicals to turn away from an individualism that makes the Church a mere addendum to God’s redemptive plan. Individualistic evangelicalism has contributed to the current problems of churchless Christianity, redefinitions of the Church according to business models, separatist ecclesiologies and judgmental attitudes toward the Church. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to recover their place in the community of the Church catholic.


We call for the Church’s reflection to remain anchored in the Scriptures in continuity with the theological interpretation learned from the early Fathers. Thus, we call Evangelicals to turn away from methods that separate theological reflection from the common traditions of the Church. These modern methods compartmentalize God’s story by analyzing its separate parts, while ignoring God’s entire redemptive work as recapitulated in Christ. Anti-historical attitudes also disregard the common biblical and theological legacy of the ancient Church. Such disregard ignores the hermeneutical value of the Church’s ecumenical creeds. This reduces God’s story of the world to one of many competing theologies and impairs the unified witness of the Church to God’s plan for the history of the world. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to unity in “the tradition that has been believed everywhere, always and by all,” as well as to humility and charity in their various Protestant traditions.


We call for public worship that sings, preaches and enacts God’s story. We call for a renewed consideration of how God ministers to us in baptism, Eucharist, confession, the laying on of hands, marriage, healing and through the charisma of the Spirit, for these actions shape our lives and signify the meaning of the world. Thus, we call Evangelicals to turn away from forms of worship that focus on God as a mere object of the intellect or that assert the self as the source of worship. Such worship has resulted in lecture-oriented, music-driven, performance-centered and program-controlled models that do not adequately proclaim God’s cosmic redemption. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to recover the historic substance of worship of Word and Table and to attend to the Christian year, which marks time according to God’s saving acts.


We call for a catechetical spiritual formation of the people of God that is based firmly on a Trinitarian biblical narrative. We are concerned when spirituality is separated from the story of God and baptism into the life of Christ and his Body. Spirituality, made independent from God’s story, is often characterized by legalism, mere intellectual knowledge, an overly therapeutic culture, New Age Gnosticism, a dualistic rejection of this world and a narcissistic preoccupation with one’s own experience. These false spiritualities are inadequate for the challenges we face in today’s world. Therefore, we call Evangelicals to return to a historic spirituality like that taught and practiced in the ancient catechumenate.


We call for a cruciform holiness and commitment to God’s mission in the world. This embodied holiness affirms life, biblical morality and appropriate self-denial. It calls us to be faithful stewards of the created order and bold prophets to our contemporary culture. Thus, we call Evangelicals to intensify their prophetic voice against forms of indifference to God’s gift of life, economic and political injustice, ecological insensitivity and the failure to champion the poor and marginalized. Too often we have failed to stand prophetically against the culture’s captivity to racism, consumerism, political correctness, civil religion, sexism, ethical relativism, violence and the culture of death. These failures have muted the voice of Christ to the world through his Church and detract from God’s story of the world, which the Church is collectively to embody. Therefore, we call the Church to recover its counter-cultural mission to the world.


In sum, we call Evangelicals to recover the conviction that God’s story shapes the mission of the Church to bear witness to God’s Kingdom and to inform the spiritual foundations of civilization. We set forth this Call as an ongoing, open-ended conversation. We are aware that we have our blind spots and weaknesses. Therefore, we encourage Evangelicals to engage this Call within educational centers, denominations and local churches through publications and conferences.

We pray that we can move with intention to proclaim a loving, transcendent, triune God who has become involved in our history. In line with Scripture, creed and tradition, it is our deepest desire to embody God’s purposes in the mission of the Church through our theological reflection, our worship, our spirituality and our life in the world, all the while proclaiming that Jesus is Lord over all creation.

This Call is issued in the spirit of sic et non; therefore those who affix their names to this Call need not agree with all its content. Rather, its consensus is that these are issues to be discussed in the tradition of semper reformanda as the church faces the new challenges of our time. Over a period of seven months, more than 300 persons have participated via e-mail to write the Call. These men and women represent a broad diversity of ethnicity and denominational affiliation. The four theologians who most consistently interacted with the development of the Call have been named as Theological Editors. The Board of Reference was given the special assignment of overall approval.

Just before his death in 2007, Robert E. Webber (inset picture) spent a good portion of his time working collaboratively with over 300 theologians and other leaders to craft A Call to an Ancient Evangelical Future. The Call continues some themes and expands upon the Chicago Call” of 1977, and sets forth a vision for an Ancient-Future faith in a postmodern world. That Webber helped to craft such a call is not unusual, for he spent the whole of his professional life calling the church to continual reform and, most especially, encouraging leaders and laity alike to drink from the refreshing well of ancient truth. That the Call came, as it did, at a time of great change in the world and in the church, and that it also came just before his passing, gives it a kind of weight that makes it especially compelling to examine.

strange fire



strange fire

Dominion Theology/Kingdom Now/Reconstructionism
Blessing or Curse?*

– There is a movement about that is casting a long shadow for its size. It is known as Reconstructionism, Kingdom Now theology, Theonomy, and/or Dominion theology, and it is a curiously skewed blend of Reformed/Calvinist theology and Charismatic influence. While there are relatively few who would call themselves Reconstructionists, a number of the movement’s ideas have infiltrated the thinking and actions of many professing believers, often without them knowing it. The movement is led by such theologians as Rousas J. Rushdoony; Gary North; Ray Sutton; Greg Bahnsen (deceased); David Chilton, and by Charismatic leaders such as Earl Paulk. But their ideas are often reflected by non-reconstructionists such as Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy, John Whitehead, Franky Schaeffer, and Jerry Falwell. [In spite of the fact that many Dominionists-Reconstructionists-Theonomists are hyper-Calvinists, yet at the same time they write and speak as if they believe that they must help God get things under control down here on earth, so that the kingdom (their version of it) can be set up in order that the King Himself can reign properly (through them, of course!).]

– Dominion theology (the belief-system behind the Reconstructionist movement) teaches that through the coming of Christ the believer has dominion over every area of life. We are now in the Kingdom of God (note the similar view of the Kingdom that the Vineyard movement takes, as well as the plethora of Christian songs being written implying that we are in the Kingdom at the present time), and as a result, we should be reigning with Christ over the earth (as Rev. 5:10 says). The question is when we will reign. If the Kingdom is on earth now, then we should have dominion now, so say the Dominionists. Many of us non-reconstructionists proclaim this same thought when we sing the popular Charismatic song “Majesty” (written by hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford), which invites us to “Come glorify Christ Jesus, the King” — after all, “Kingdom authority flows from His throne unto His own.” With this authority from the King, we are to reclaim the earth for Christ, not just spiritually, but socially, economically (it is no accident that one of the Reconstructionists’ organizations is called “The Institute for Christian Economics”), and politically. The dominion of the earth is accomplished not only through prayer and evangelism, but through political process and social reformation. [The Dominion/Reconstructionist organization Coalition on Revival (COR) was established for this purpose.] Christ will not (and cannot) return to earth until the church has accomplished this task, so say the dominionists.

– Dominion theology is predicated upon three basic beliefs:
(a) Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth through the temptation of Adam and Eve;
(b) The Church is God’s instrument to take dominion back from Satan; and
(c) Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken dominion by gaining control of the earth’s governmental and social institutions.
More specifically, what does Dominion Theology (DT) teach? Here are the highlights:
(a) The Old Testament (OT) Law is our rule of life for today. Although DT teaches that keeping of the Law is not a condition for salvation, it is a condition for sanctification. (However, some of the COR’s official statements appear to specifically condition salvation upon OT Law-keeping!)

(b) In addition, the OT Law is to govern over society as well. Since we are called to subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28), DT teaches that God’s Law should rule (or dominate) all aspects of society. This view is known as Theonomy (or God’s law), and is described by Greg Bahnsen as: “The Christian is obligated to keep the whole law of God as a pattern for sanctification and that this law is to be enforced by the civil magistrate” (Theonomy, p. 34). This would mean that Christians would be obligated to keep the whole OT Law except in a case in which the New Testament (NT) explicitly cancels a command, such as the sacrificial system;

(c) A central piece of DT is its belief in covenant theology. As a result, it makes no distinction between the church and Israel (i.e., the church has become “spiritual Israel”). However, DT goes beyond traditional covenant theology and teaches that the church is to be governed by the same laws, is subject to the same curses, and is promised the same blessings as Israel;

(d) DT teaches a high level of social and political activism. If the Kingdom of God is to gradually take dominion over the earth, it only makes sense that Christians should be attempting to change society through the changing of laws and through social action;

(e) Followers of DT, like many charismatics, especially the Latter Rain Movement, look for a great end time revival in which the masses will turn to Christ. As a result, DT does not believe in the rapture of the church. According to DT, the world should be, and is becoming, a better place through the efforts of Christians (cf. 2 Thes. 2:1-12);

(f) As with many others who follow the teachings of George Ladd, DT believes that we are in the Kingdom age, but the Kingdom in another sense is yet to come. We are in the Kingdom, and have Kingdom authority, but on the other hand, we are ushering in the Kingdom through our efforts. “The Kingdom is now, but not yet,” is a popular DT slogan;

(g) DT is postmillennial in its eschatology. It is believed that as a result of the reconstruction of society by Biblical principles, that the final aspect of the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. Christ cannot return until a certain amount of dominion is achieved by the church. It is believed that the curse will slowly be removed as the world is won over. Even disease and death will be all but eliminated before Christ returns to the earth;

(h) DT is preterist in its interpretation of prophecy. This means that they teach that virtually all prophecies which most Christians believe are still future, have in fact been fulfilled already, mainly between the years A.D. 30 and 70. In David Chilton’s book, Days of Vengeance, he says that the book of Revelation “is not about the Second Coming of Christ. It is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over His enemies [during the first century]” (p. 43); and

(i) DT uses an allegorical hermeneutic, especially in reference to prophecy. So we find that the Great Tribulation took place at the fall of Israel in A.D. 70; the Antichrist refers to the apostasy of the Church prior to the fall of Jerusalem; the Beast of Revelation was Nero and the Roman Empire, etc.;
– One of the most important distinctive of DT is its belief in Theonomy. DT teaches that Christians are under the Law as a way of life, and are obligated to ultimately bring the world under that Law. This concept is based on several passages. First, Gen. 1:28 commands Adam to subdue the earth. Adam lost his ability to do so to Satan as a result of sin. The church should now be in the process of reclaiming from the devil what Adam lost. (You will note a hint of the Spiritual Warfare movement here.) Secondly, the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) commands the followers of Christ to disciple all the nations, which we are told, goes beyond personal salvation and sanctification to the reformation of society;

Matt. 5:17-19 is the passage upon which the system hinges. DT claims that the word “fulfill” actually means “confirm.” Thus, Christ did not in any sense fulfill, or complete, or do away with the Law, rather he confirmed it as our rule of life today. The normal and best translation of plerosai is “fulfill” not “confirm.” Besides this, however, we have the weight of the NT teaching concerning the Law. The epistles clearly teach that believers are no longer under the Law of Moses (Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:2-4; Gal. 3:24,25; 5:18), having been set free from that bondage to serve under grace and the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2);

And besides, if the Christian is still under Law, why do we not keep the OT ceremonial laws? DT’s answer is that the Law was divided into three sections: civil, moral, and ceremonial. The ceremonial law, it is claimed, has been fulfilled by Christ and is no longer incumbent upon the believer, but not so the moral and civil parts of the law. Therefore, we are to live under the moral law and seek to establish, in our society, the civil system of OT Israel. The problem with this view is that nowhere in the Bible is the Law broken into these three sections; this is something invented by men. Whenever the Law is mentioned, the Scriptures are speaking of the whole Law as a unit. The Jews were as obligated to keep the sacrificial system and commandments concerning food and dress (ceremonial law) as they were the Ten Commandments (moral law). If the NT says that Christ fulfilled the Law, and that as Christians we are no longer under the Law, it means the whole Law. Church age saints are no longer obligated to any aspect of the OT Law. No one has the right to arbitrarily claim that we have been set free from some of the Law (the parts we don’t like), but that the rest of the Law is obligatory. Either the believer has been released from the whole Law (Rom. 7:4,6) or none of it. [As Thomas Ice reminds us, “The Law of Moses was given to a specific people (Israel), to be followed in a specific location (the land of Israel), to deal with their specific situation. Therefore, the Law cannot simply be obeyed today by the Church, as was expected of Israel when it was given to that nation” (Biblical Perspectives, Vol. II, No. 6). On the positive side, Ice comments, “Paul teaches in Galatians 3 and 4 that Christ has set us free from the bondage of the Law, not so that we can be lawless as the Reconstructionists insist, instead, so that we can walk in the newness of the motivation of the Holy Spirit” (Ibid., p. 2).]

– There are many negative effects that the teachings of DT are having on evangelical Christianity today. Four of these would be:
(a) Reconstructionists teach that the mission of the church goes beyond the spiritual transformation of individuals, to a mandate to change society, a “moral patriotism,” if you will, in opposition to secular humanism. For Christ to be pleased with Christians, thereby, they must become political and social activists. We must change the laws of the land, gear up to elect Christians to office, and generally seek to take dominion over our world and bring it under the Law of Moses. We see the influence of this thinking even in those who may know little about DT — James Dobson, Larry Burkett, the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson, Promise Keepers, Charles Colson and the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document (ECT), and Operation Rescue, are but a few of the evidences that reconstructionist thinking is beginning to dominate the so-called evangelical world;

(b) Motivation for godly living, based upon the blessed hope — the return of Christ (Titus 2:13) — is replaced with the task of restructuring society. This cultural mandate to restructure/restore society is a task that may take thousands of years, even by the DT’s own admission (approximately 36,000 years, according to David Chilton);

(c) If we are in the Kingdom of God now, then the Charismatics are correct to teach that health and prosperity is the right of every believer today. This is why “Reconstruction” Calvinists and “Kingdom Now” Charismatics have formed at least a loose unity — they both have the same world view. They are not looking for Christ to return and set up His Kingdom; they are attempting to set it up for Him; and

(d) A theological anti-Semitism exists in the Dominionist plan to replace of Old Testament Israel with the Church, often called the “New Israel” (i.e., “replacement theology” — the church replaces the Jews as the new or true Israel, and Israel has no future as a distinct nation within God’s plan). They believe that Israel does not have a future different from any other nation. Historically, replacement theology has been the theological foundation upon which anti-Semitism has been built within the confines of professing Christianity. While reconstructionists do believe that the individual Jews will be converted to Christ in mass in the future, almost none of them believe that national Israel has a future, and thus, the Church has completely taken over the promises of national Israel. (Reconstructionist David Chilton said that “ethnic Israel was excommunicated for its apostasy and will never again be God’s Kingdom. … the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation.” Reconstructionists believe that the Church is now that new nation, which is why Christ destroyed the Jewish state. Reconstructionists DeMar and Leithart have said, “In destroying Israel, Christ transferred the blessings of the kingdom from Israel to a new people, the church.”
* Unless otherwise indicated, some of the material in this and companion reports has been excerpted and/or adapted from three sources: (1) “Dominion Theology,” Pastor Gary E. Gilley, Southern View Chapel, January, 1996; (2) Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?, by Thomas Ice and H. Wayne House; and (3) Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion, by Albert James Dager.

Dominion theology refers to a line of theological interpretation and thought with regard to the role of the Church in contemporary society. Dominion theology is also known as Christian reconstructionism and theonomy. Dominion theology states that biblical Christianity will rule all areas of society, personal and corporate. Christian Reconstructionism reasons that society will be reconstructed by the Law of God as preached in the Gospel and the Great Commission. Theonomy is a post-millennial view believing that all of the moral laws contained in the Old Testament are yet binding today. Although these might sound somewhat disparate, they have all been closely linked together to the point that people often use the terms interchangeably.

Those who hold these views believe that it is the duty of Christians to create a world-wide kingdom patterned after the Mosaic Law. They believe that Christ will not return to earth until such a kingdom has been established. The principal goal, then, of dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism is political and religious domination of the world through the implementation of the moral laws, and subsequent punishments, of the Old Testament (the sacrificial and ceremonial laws having been fulfilled in the New Testament). This is not a government system ruled by the Church, but rather a government conformed to the Law of God.

Dominion theology / Christian reconstructionism is largely based upon a post-millennial view of covenantalism. Post-millennial refers to the belief that Christ will return to earth after the thousand year reign of God’s kingdom, and covenantalism refers to the belief that biblical history is divided into three major covenants supposedly described in Scripture—of redemption, of works, and of grace. Adherents believe that we currently exist under the covenant of grace, and that the Church has replaced the nation Israel, and are now in the millennial Kingdom of God. Man, under the covenant of grace, is responsible to rule the world, to hold dominion over it, in obedience to the Laws of God.

The problem with these beliefs is that they rest upon a distorted view of Scripture. Scripture clearly teaches that God never commanded the Church to revamp society. Instead, believers are commanded to preach the Gospel as in Matthew 28:19, 20), but God clearly intends to implement world-wide reform Himself (Revelation 19:11-20:4). Though it is clearly unbiblical, dominion theology persists. It is, in fact, a great threat to biblical Christianity. Once at home solely within Reformed circles, dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism is now creeping into many Protestant churches and is making a large impact on the beliefs of Charismatic churches in particular.

As with any new teaching we are exposed to, we need to be like the Berean believers of Acts 17:11: “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas, to see if they were really teaching the truth.” Dominion theology / Christian reconstructionism doesn’t align with what we read in the Scriptures. Although this is just a “nutshell” summary of dominion theology, the points made are very clear. Dominion theology is not a theology for a believer to live by, but rather one to avoid.

In Matthew 11:12 Jesus says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence and the violent take it by force.”

The Jews were looking for their Messiah – they were eagerly awaiting the “natural” kingdom, struggling and striving now to see Jesus Whom people claimed to be the Messiah. There were immense crowds… people would have carried Jesus off, as the original Greek meaning of “take it by force” describes. They thronged at the doors where Jesus was – they would have done anything to bring the kingdom of heaven to themselves.

Look at John 6:14-15, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”

Some of them didn’t get the spiritual aspect of the kingdom of God/heaven. This story makes me think about how people flock to see rock stars. The disciples understood what Jesus was telling them about the kingdom of God, Mark 4:11 “And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables.” Jesus said he had to use parables so that the people would come to understand the truth about His kingdom.

Therefore, the response to John the Baptist’s preaching and then Jesus coming on to the scene was a violent one…with those who opposed Jesus and those who believed and followed Him.

DOMINION OVER SIN: Sin shall not have dominion over you…(Romans 6:14)

DOMINION OVER THE FLESH: So then brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh… (Romans 8:12)

DOMINION OVER SATAN: Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

DOMINION OVER DEMONS: Behold I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. (Luke 10:19)

DOMINION OVER SICKNESS: Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick… ( James 5:14)

DOMINION OVER EVIL: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

DOMINION OVER THE WORLD: For whatever is born of God overcomes the world, and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. (1 John 5:4)

DOMINION OVER FEAR: Perfect love casts out fear…(1 John 4:18)

DOMINION OVER…? But with God all things are possible…(Matthew 19:26)

~ David Ravenhill

The entrance into the Kingdom of God is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. My call to ministry is one based upon God’s faithfulness to fulfill His revealed purpose in my life. I had no ability to acquire salvation on my own. Because of God’s sovereignty, He chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world. His mercy and grace brought me faith. God enabled me to make the choice of trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He regenerated and transformed me into a new creation in Christ Jesus, and now His sanctifying grace is making me holy in my daily life.

The Holy Spirit baptized me into the Body of Christ, the Church (the ekklēsia), of which I am a member. Now, I am a member of the Community (ekklēsia) of Jesus Christ. God created a community of worship, dedication, and faith in the time of the Old Covenant. Now, the community has changed with the coming of the new and better covenant. Within this community of the Kingdom, I am able to view my calling more clearly. It means that being a “covenant person” of a covenant people; I am called to a mission along with many others, and am equipped by God through the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, I can speak with conviction along with the Apostle Paul when he said in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “ He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Therefore, I see that those members of the Community of Jesus Christ are ministers unto each other, the world, and unto God.

My call and the call of His Church (Matthew 25:35-45) is to minister unto a world that is lost. We are to be beacons of light to those who are blind in darkness. We are to be workers of justice and freedom for the oppressed and captive. We are to demonstrate to the poor the power of His greatness and His faithfulness from which we hope, and to proclaim the Gospel and His Kingdom!