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Dominion, Not Imperialism

Ten Thousand Miles From Tip to Tip
Ten Thousand Miles From Tip to Tip

There is a pernicious misconception from both Christians and non-Christians that confuses imperialism with dominion theology. While it’s true that history is filled with various crusades where wars and invasions have been waged in the name of Christianity, there is nothing more unchristian than imperialism. The gospel of Jesus Christ, The Prince of Peace, is spread peacefully by The Holy Spirit with God’s people. His kingdom is not advanced out of the barrel of a gun.

Essentially, with the dominion covenant God delegated his ownership of the world to Christians. The dominion covenant was established by God in Genesis 1:28:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

As history went on God revealed more about the dominion covenant. God has ordained various institutions, the main three being family, church and state. Each of these have their distinctions and limitations. While some have more power than others, they are all under God. Furthermore, where any of the institutions go beyond their limitations they become tyrannical. For example, education is the responsibility of the family. When the state takes over this responsibility it becomes tyrannical. Some institutions share distinctions. Both the family and church are to provide spiritual guidance, though in different ways. While the state is to have Biblical laws, it is not to provide spiritual guidance. It only exists to provide restraint for criminals according to Biblical standards. However, history shows that states often try to influence religion, especially the religion of the state. The religion of the state asserts that the state, not God, is supreme. God will only let this go on for so long before judgement comes. (Psalm 2:1-12)

Does the state have the right to invade other countries to spread Christianity? The answer is unequivocally, No! The Gospel is not spread by force nor is the state the church. Perhaps the confusion with the dominion covenant comes from confusing domination with dominion. The Christian is empowered by The Holy Spirit to dominate sin. However, the sin he dominates is his own. It’s internal. Dominion does not mean that we are to somehow wage an external physical war on sin. This would be a red herring as sin cannot be defeated by bombs. How clever the enemy is with his weapons of confusion! This is a spiritual war that is only won by the work finished by Christ on the cross.

Dominion simply means that Christians are to put their faith into action in all areas of life. It means that a Christian’s faith is not to be simply left in the pews on Lord’s Day. God is worthy of our complete devotion in everything we do. We advance God’s kingdom by spreading the gospel and obeying his law. It’s not something the Christian can just turn on and off. It’s true that we are at war. However, the war being waged is a spiritual war between righteousness and evil where the only sword that is drawn by the Christian soldier is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. While there’s plenty of work to be done at home, instead of sending armies to unholy lands we should be deploying the real soldiers of Christ Jesus-missionaries.

The Whole Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

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Joshua Ambrose

Joshua Ambrose is a restless disciple of Christ and sometimes whimsical mischief-maker. When not writing about theology, he writes about philosophy, history, economics, finance and basically anything that involves being a good neighbor in a way that honors his Lord.

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