Recently, C. Peter Wagner, the Presiding Apostle for the International Council of Apostles, a subsidiary of Global Harvest Ministries, described dominionism as follows:
When Jesus came, he brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth. This is what we mean by dominionism.
But what if you live in a country that protects the rights of those who you think are in the kingdom of Satan? What actions should you take? What laws should you support?
The answer seems to differ based on the kind of dominionist you are. For this post, I note two approaches – not always friendly to each other – those who follow the Seven Mountains teaching (New Apostolic Reformation) and those who call themselves theonomists or Christian Reconstructionists.
What these groups have in common in their belief that civil government should reflect Christian moral teachings. Those who deviate from Christian moral teaching should be subject to the laws of the land in addition to laws of the church. While this post is not exhaustive, there seems to be a difference between those in the New Apostolic Reformation and the Christian Reconstructionist movements when it comes to what kind of civil punishments should be delivered to those who violate Christian teachings regarding sexuality.
First, the New Apostolic Reformation.
In late 2009, I noted that the Seven Mountains teachings had adherents among those in Uganda who were strongly pushing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill there. If passed as is, the AHB will make homosexuality a capital offense. Because of his association with AHB promoter in Uganda, Apostle Julius Oyet, and his teaching on reclaiming the Seven Mountains of culture, I asked Atlanta pastor, Johnny Enlow, what he thought about laws criminalizing homosexuality. Enlow’s reply leaves room for criminalization but stops short of calling for the death penalty:
As to the question of whether governments should criminalize homosexuality as part of taking the mountain of government- this would only be a second best method of bringing awareness that the behavior of homosexuality is wrong. This becomes a necessity only when the moral fiber of society has become so degraded that society itself is in need of knowing right and wrong. For me, the point of criminalizing homosexuality is not to bring punishment to homosexuals but rather to inform society of right and wrong. I would be against harsh punishments against homosexual activity between consenting adults and would not endorse capital punishment for this scenario. Society does need to know that homosexual behavior is wrong but it would not be defensible to execute homosexuals anymore than it would be to execute rebellious children- which is espoused to some measure in Leviticus. There is a greater grace assigned to the new covenant understanding of the New Testament. Rebellious children are still wrong in their rebellion and homosexuals are still wrong in their behavior but we do not need the extreme punishments of the Old Testament. I personally believe that most who suffer from homosexual feelings are worthy of great compassion because as a rule it tells us they have suffered some significant traumas in their lives. It would not express the heart of God towards them for there to be government-sponsored “witch hunts” against them. Our fractured homes and fractured society greatly contribute to the presence of homosexual realities and individuals who manifest the marks of societal decay cannot be made to pay the full price for a greater societal ill. They are responsible for personal choices but there must be margin for compassion when fully understanding the causal effects. The in-your-face activist homosexual agenda is of course generating it’s own strong repercussions and backlashes and to the degree that they insist on forcing upon society their aberrations to that degree they will see increasing measures to limit their activism of a sin behavior.
As a reaction to my articles on Uganda’s anti-gay bill and the Seven Mountains teaching, Charisma magazine asked C. Peter Wagner and Lance Walnau whether or not the dominionism of the New Apostolic Reformation required death for gays. First Wallnau:
In a statement to Charisma, Wallnau, author of The 7 Mountain Mandate: Impacting Culture, Discipling Nations, said the seven mountains message is not about imposing laws but liberating spheres of influence. Although “the government in its sphere must enforce sanctions,” he said the proposed anti-homosexuality bill “seems like a severe sanction.”
He said Christians who crusade for social reform should consider the outcome of the Prohibition Act, which outlawed alcohol but also fueled organized crime.
“Christians had made a massive impact in the ‘temperance movement’ to stop drunkenness. Then they overreached with draconian legislation called the Volstead Act, and the backlash legalized alcohol,” Wallnau said. “To my brothers in Uganda I would say, ‘Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’”
And then Wagner:
Although he commended Ugandan lawmakers for attempting to stand for biblical principles, he said legislating morality is not feasible. If Uganda wanted to legislate biblical principles, it would have to criminalize adultery and premarital sex and not single out homosexuality, he said.
“My position is that this is not a good way to do it,” Wagner said. “To legislate against sexual orientation is probably crossing the line. It’s like making a law whether parents can spank their children or not. It’s much too much of a personal ethical issue. … I would support raising up a national conscience against homosexuality and allowing the Holy Spirit to work that way.”
Based on these statements, dominionists in the NAR tradition want to discourage homosexuality from a national platform but are squeamish about “severe sanctions” like death.
Moving to the theonomic Christian Reconstructionists, squeamishness goes right out the window.
American Vision is a Christian Reconstructionist group who has partnered with Liberty University’s Law School among other mainstream social conservative organizations.
Two American Vision writers Gary DeMar and Joel McDurmon both advocate the death penalty for gays. In his book Ruler of Nations, DeMar says about laws regarding gays:
Obviously, certain sins often may escape detection. Homosexuals who practice behind closed doors are out-of-bounds for the courts, of course, unless others witness their criminal behavior. Such behavior may not be dealt with by courts in history, but will be dealt with by God, either in history (e.g., AIDS) or eternity. The law that requires the death penalty for homosexual acts effectually drives the perversion of homosexuality underground, back to the closet, to the dark realm of shameful activity. (p. 212).
DeMar has some thoughts about others who are outside the evangelical rule:
Fourth, we must elect public officials who say they will vote for Biblical laws. First and foremost, this means voting to prohibit abortion. While few Christians are willing to go this far, the longterm goal should be the execution of abortionists and parents who hire them. If we argue that abortion is murder, then we must call for the death penalty. If abortionists are not supposed to be executed, then they are not murderers, and if they are not murderers, why do we want to abolish abortion? In short, Christians must learn to think consistently. (p.218)
I imagine I have just scratched the surface of Mr. DeMar’s work.
Back to Uganda’s anti-gay bill, American Vision’s Joel McDurmon commended Uganda politicians in 2009 and had this to say about civil penalties for gays.
Now, it just so happens that God revealed that the homosexual act is a civil crime, and it just so happens that He revealed that the homosexual act as a civil crime deserves the death penalty. [Rick] Warren disagrees. He argues, “Since God created all, and Jesus suffered and died for all, then we are to treat all with respect.” Of course, Jesus never claimed to suffer and die for all; He claimed to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28; 26:28; Heb. 2:10; 9:28). Likewise, God did not create all for unqualified “respect,” but some to be vessels of dishonor and destruction (Rom. 9:21–23).
For Christian Reconstructionists, civil penalties must follow what the Old Testament prescribes. In this way, the reconstructionists outdo the NAR dominionists.
One of the first tier reconstructionists is Gary North. North delivered a scathing attack on friend and GCC colleague T. David Gordon (no friend to the reconstructionists) in an 2003 email. North says he has the solution to the problem of divorce:
OK, let’s get down to specifics. Let’s go to the Bible. Here are my two verses. Dr. Gordon can call me in the morning.
And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death (Lev. 20:10).
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (Matt. 5:32).
A theonomist says, “Let’s put one and one together.” An anti-theonomist says, “Let’s not.” Dr. Gordon is worried about high divorce rates. I have a solution to this problem. Re-write the civil laws governing adultery so that the victimized spouse can have a civil court order the execution of a convicted adulterous spouse and his/her consort. The divorce rate would drop — dare I say it? — like a stone.
Something else that would drop like a stone is the poll number of a politician directly linked with either one of these theories of civil law. No wonder many social conservatives are out in force trying to deny that these movements have any consequence or have any influence on Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann.
In 2008, Barack Obama’s associations religious and otherwise were considered fair game for his opponents. If the same is true this time around, then 2012 should be a bonanza for the opponents of Perry and/or Bachmann should they make it on the GOP ticket.
See also Part 2 and Part 3 in the series about what dominionists would do with gays. Part 3 also examines what one thread of dominionist (theonomic Christian Reconstructionists would do with anyone who failed to keep Mosaic law – e.g., adulterers, blasphemers, idolators, disobedient children, etc.)