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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

 

Wednesday, May 25 2005
Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Challenging untruths in Marc Alexander's letter

Continuing yesterday's discussion of dominionism, I'll take up the untruths of Marc Alexander's letter in Monday's Barre Montpelier, Vt., Times-Argus newspaper. He says (in the indented passages) that dominionist Christians

—do not believe in the separation of church and state, in fact they believe the United States should be a Christian state

As I said yesterday, this is not only untrue, in fact separation of church and state is one of the fundamental facets in our (dominionists') beliefs. We do not, however, misinterpret it the way most Democratic Party pundits do these days, as though the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution refers to "separation of state and God" or "state and religion." It refers only to the establishment of a national church or religion. As most worldviews throughout history have held, all states are under the dominion of God and, even if the citizenry has no organized religion it is necessary for statehood to create a "civil religion." All religions, of course, compete with one another, so to whatever extent the American state is under the sway of a civil religion (as many sociologists claim), or secularism, that religion competes with Christianity or Judaism or any other value system people choose. The Christian—the dominionist Christian—solution is to have a pluralized state which allows associations of citizens to work out their citizenship in terms most amenable to their own beliefs. Since modern democracy is an offspring of Judeo-Christian principle, there's no basic incompatibility between the two. Christians have always strived to be the best citizens in their respective states.

—By Christian they mean their version of Christianity, an Old Testament version, crusaders for Christ

This is rather silly, a basic nonsequitur, as Christ appears only obliquely in the Old Testament and no one in the Old Testament era (or no figure in the written Old Testament) considered him- or herself to be a crusader for Christ. As I said yesterday, I don't follow or pretend to know enough about Reconstructionist Christianity (a completely different system than dominionism) but I suspect the writer is confusing the two in this case. Certainly those who follow the major dominionist teacher in modern times, Abraham Kuyper, do not believe in theocracy (as in the Old Testament) or believe that the Old Testament standards for social behavior should be enforced in a pluralistic society (by stoning-executing adulterers, for example). We believe, rather, that pluralism is necessary because the New Testament presents and describes a permanent coexistence of believers and unbelievers in the same world, with no hint that believers are to force their beliefs on anyone else. Coerced belief is totally incompatible with Christ's gospel. As John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court put it: "I am persuaded that truth and error (though in different degrees) will imperceptibly become and remain mixed and blended until they shall be separated forever by the great and last refining fire."*

—They believe in the Second Coming. Armageddon, and soon

All Christians have always believed in Christ's return (the "Second Coming") and that there will be a battle after that historical fact with the forces of evil, called Armageddon. And it's "soon" in an ontological sense (which means, "from God's perspective"). But we don't live in ontology (we can know only what God has told us about His perspective, we have no access to actively using it) and Christians have always had to live as though the present is the gift God has given us, the talent (to use the New Testament parable applying to the gift of the present), to make the most we can of it. This is the whole point of dominionism, the Lordship of Christ. To bury the talent is definitely unacceptable. So this is a most grievous falsehood and accusation that has absolutely no basis in truth.

—so why worry about the environment or entitlement programs. And why tolerate other world religions, or Catholics or most Protestants for that matter

This also, of course, has no relevance to any dominionist Christian perspective; certainly to see Christ as Lord of creation is to work for the stewardship of that creation in the most meaningful way possible. Believing in the dominion of Christ is common to all serious Christians; the hymnbooks have always been full of "living for Jesus" songs that emphasize the unending quest for "crowning Him Lord of all." Not only is there no animosity between such Christians and members of other religions, to be a Christian is to love all of our neighbors regardless of their beliefs or other distinctions from ourselves. And of course Catholics, Orthodox, and all Protestant denominations have dominionists; making Christ "Lord" is not optional to any follower of Christ who has actually read the New Testament or read the history of the early church.

—The founding leader is the Rev. D. James Kennedy

With all due respect to Dr. Kennedy, I am fairly sure he would never make such a claim. He would probably say that Francis Schaeffer, when he visited his Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church before his passing, inspired in him a new awareness of the "dominionist" perspective. And Schaeffer certainly credited Abraham Kuyper as one of the first to clearly bring this emphasis of the Gospel to the attention of a broad cross-section of the church a century ago. (And of course Kuyper credited Calvin, and Calvin credited Augustine, and Augustine credited Paul, and Paul credited his Tutor, Christ himself.)

Next time I'll take up the "truths" in the letter and show how Alexander and those who share his opinions of Christians are misinterpreting them.

—Webmaster 

*With thanks to Rich Dilling for supplying the appropos quotation.

A complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005

Perspectives on growing older

Every time I walk into a singles bar I can hear Mom's wise words: "Don't pick that up, you don't know where it's been!"

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Thought for today

It was my generation, and the generation that preceded me, that forgot. The younger generation is not primarily to be blamed. Those who are struggling today, those who are far away and doing that which is completely contrary to the Christian conscience, are not first to be blamed. It is my generation, and the generation that preceded me, who turned away. Today we are left, not only with a religion and a church without meaning, but... with a culture without meaning.

Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984)  

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