Sorting Out the Two Kingdoms part 2
Kingdom Now theology is essentially a variation on dominion theology styled to suit Pentecostals and charismatics. Whereas dominion theology is postmillennial in eschatology, Kingdom Now teaches dispensational premillennialism. Unlike most dispensational premillennialists, however, Kingdom Now adherents believe that they must establish the visible kingdom of God before the rapture they believe will occur prior to Christ's coming to the earth. Further, they believe that they will do this, not only by taking control of earthly governments in the way dominionists believe, but also by using special supernatural gifts to wage spiritual warfare, wresting control of the earth from Satan and his demons. They believe that there are seven spheres of influence, or seven mountains, they must hold: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and religion.
Although there are definitely theological similarities to dominionism, many in the Kingdom Now movement seek to separate themselves from the legalist image of the dominionists. Kingdom Now advocate, Os Hillman, writes, "It is better that we avoid the word dominion in our culture today due to the connotation that comes with this word of control and manipulation of others. It also reminds people of a flawed movement in the body of Christ called dominion theology that caused great harm to many.... When we operate from love and service, we will be attractive to the world. They will desire to follow. We become solution providers to the issues of mankind. Jesus solved people's problems, which resulted in greater influence in people's lives. Loren Cunningham once said, 'Use your authority and you will lose your influence; use your influence and you will gain authority'" ("Reclaiming the 7 Mountains - is it dominionism?").
Although kinder and gentler than dominionism, Kingdom Now still seeks to gain control of the kingdom of the world's centers of power and establish a visible kingdom of God, something that Jesus Christ never told His followers to do.
A Spreading Infection
I think we should just kind of keep this clean, keep it simple, go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant — they're quite clear — that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments.
—Sarah Palin speaking on The O'Reilly Factor May 6, 2010
Frederick Clarkson writes in the article, "Christian Reconstructionism," "The significance of the Reconstructionist movement is not its numbers, but the power of its ideas and their surprisingly rapid acceptance. Many on the Christian Right are unaware that they hold Reconstructionist ideas." This is all too true. Christians who don't even know what Dominionism/Reconstructionism/Theonomy is now have the same agenda, which has become the platform of Christian conservatism in general: control of the state so they can enforce "God's moral law," the repression or even punishment of homosexuals, the return of prayer to state-run schools, the posting of the Ten Commandments in the classroom, the creating of a strong foreign policy backed up by the build up of the military, enforcing the teaching of creationism and/or intelligent design in state-run schools, stopping universal health care, ending stem-cell research, preventing strong environmental protection laws, closing businesses on "the Sabbath," stopping amnesty for illegal aliens, and in general breaching the wall of separation between church and state. These are all theonomist objectives that have now been swallowed by Christians.
The influence of dominionism/reconstructionism/theonomy and Kingdom Now on the rest of the Christian world cannot be underestimated. Here in the United States, the idea that Christians must gain control of government, business, the media, arts and entertainment, education, and the family—while relegating other religions (especially Islam) to a closely watched subclass is fast becoming equated in people's minds with Christianity itself. This thought is spreading to the rest of the world, and woe to those who resist it!
We are coming to the times when passive Christianity and passive Christians will cease to exist. There is a maturity, a discipline, and a divine militancy coming upon the people of God. Those who have succumbed to humanistic and idealistic theologies may have a hard time with this, but we must understand that God is a military God. The title that He uses ten times more than any other in Scripture is "the Lord of hosts," or "Lord of armies." There is a martial aspect to His character that we must understand and embrace for the times and the job to which we are now coming.
Rick Joyner, "Taking the Land—We Are Establishing Our Eternal Place and Position Here on Earth"
"I am often asked if I still think we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity. The answer is: Now more than ever!" (Ann Coulter, How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must): The World According to Ann Coulter [New York: Three Rivers Press, 2004] 22).
If these people are right, then how can Jesus have said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.... Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.... Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Matthew 5:3, 5, 9)?
I can understand that theonomists, dominionists, reconstructionists, Kingdom Now adherents, and their Christian conservative followers are alarmed by the massive moral decline the past few generations have witnessed. Like Lot living in Sodom, they are vexed to have to dwell in such an immoral society. I share their vexation but not their response. The difference between their reaction and mine can be summed up in the concept of works versus faith. It can be said of them, as Paul said of the Jews, "They have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). They are stumbling at the same stumbling stone the unconverted Jews of the first century stumbled at (see Romans 9:30-10:21). They don't know what kind of spirit they are of (see Luke 9:54-55). As Christians, we are to let the dead bury their dead (Matthew 8:22). We are not to become entangled in the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4). We are to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) and trust God to work out His will and take care of His people as He sees fit in this time.
Thy Kingdom Come
In the model prayer that Jesus gave His disciples, He taught them to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10, King James Version). Did He mean that we are to pray that Christians will take over the governments of the earth to establish a visible kingdom of God? Since He gave us no such command and described His kingdom as not of this world and not visible in the natural sense, we must conclude that the answer is no.
Completely in keeping with what Jesus did commission, what Jesus meant in this prayer is that we are to pray for the spread of God's spiritual kingdom on earth through the preaching of the Gospel and the subsequent conversion of hearers who will then submit to God's will.
But What Is the Kingdom of God?
Oddly enough, it can be difficult to define the kingdom of God. Throughout history, people have defined it as the kingdom of Israel, as the Catholic Church, as the visible church, as the invisible church, and as a visible kingdom Christians will establish on earth. None of these are correct.
By definition, the kingdom of God means the rule of God as divine King. God ultimately rules over all things, even the kingdom of the world, working in history to bring about the ends He desires (Romans 8:28). But there is a more specific definition for the kingdom of God.
In Luke 22:29, we find that the Father gave the kingdom to Jesus and He gave it to His followers: "I confer on you a kingdom, even as my Father conferred on me." This does not mean that we now have the kingdom instead of Jesus, but that He is sharing it with us (see verse 30 and Romans 8:17). In the end, Jesus "will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power" (1 Corinthians 15:24). But until He puts all enemies under His feet, Jesus will reign, and we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 5:10). This period is the figurative one thousand years in which we will reign with Him (Revelation 20:6.) But note that it is not until the end, at the last trump, that the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of God: "When the seventh angel sounded, and great voices in heaven followed, saying, 'The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. He will reign forever and ever!'" (Revelation 11:15).
The kingdom of the world is under the control of Satan (see Matthew 4:8-9 and 2 Corinthians 4:4). He rules by deceiving the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Yet, Jesus, after His resurrection, said, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). It was at that time that Satan was bound and cast into the abyss "that he should deceive the nations no more" (Revelation 20:1-3). Now we Christians plunder Satan's worldly kingdom (see Matthew 12:29). We do this by following Jesus' command to preach the Gospel "and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). This undeceives them, delivering them from darkness into the kingdom of God, giving them redemption, the forgiveness of sin (Colossians 1:13-14). In Jesus' commission to Paul, He sent him to the Gentiles or nations (these words are both translations of the Greek word ethnos) "to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me" (Acts 26:18).
The kingdom of the world, then, is the kingdom of Satan. It is in rebellion against God. We of the kingdom of God are conquering Satan's kingdom, not by fleshly warfare or carnal political maneuvering: "For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). We do this with the armor of truth, with righteousness, with the Good News of peace, with faith, with salvation, not with the sword of the military or the magistrate but with "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God", and with prayer (see Ephesians 6:13-18). The result is "a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages" (Revelation 7:9) coming to salvation, forsaking the kingdom of the world and becoming citizens of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).
Broadly, then, the kingdom of God is this age in which we now live, God's saints working in concert with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and struggling against spiritual wickedness, spoiling the kingdom of Satan to bring in the harvest of God's elect who become fellowcitizens with their brother saints (Ephesians 2:19). In this way, the kingdom of God dynamically comes and grows. But it remains a spiritual kingdom, not of this world. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world no more mix than oil and water. As humans on this planet, Christians are necessarily in this world, work at their jobs in it, buy and sell in it, interact with the citizens of it, and herald the Gospel in it. But we are not to become of the world, trying to combine the two kingdoms together, becoming unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) in a wrong-headed attempt to use the world's means (e.g. politics and the military) and the abrogated laws of the Old Testament to bring it under subjection. All such attempts are doomed to failure, even as they have always failed in the past.
Instead of becoming overwrought and failing to rely upon God because of the fiery trials we are living through in our immoral society, let us have patience, trusting God (see 1 Peter 4:12-19 and Hebrews 10:36-38). None of these terrors and trials can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39); rather, all will be for our good (Romans 8:28) and to God's glory (Romans 11:33-36). As His "little flock," let us not be afraid, for it is our Father's good pleasure to GIVE us the kingdom (Luke 12:32). We don't have to take it by carnal means. The all-powerful God will work out all things according to His will (Ephesians 1:11). Meanwhile, let's shine our Christian light in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation (Philippians 2:15).