Dominion. Not only is it an awesome word, but it's a word with a freight-train size load of theological connotations that are- to be simplistic- rather controversial.
And rather awesome.
So let's start at the beginning.
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Gen. 1:28, KJV)
Here we see the initial command given to man. Rule the earth. Man tends the earth and brings it into obedience to God.
This is, of course, much harder after the fall- in fact, it can only be accomplished apart from God's Grace.
But that doesn't mean that we should not still strive towards it- and pray for the Grace that it necessitates.
Some will say that we are no longer "under" this initial mandate, since we are now under the New Covenant. To these, my reply is threefold:
- This is our initial created purpose. It doesn't just go away- it's what we were made to do.
- Both our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul refer back to creation order. ("From the beginning, it was not so.") Why do we retain the model for things like one-man-one-woman marriage yet reject the Dominion Mandate?
- This objection arises from what I believe to be a dangerous misunderstanding of the New Covenant. The New Covenant was the fulfillment of The Law in Christ. The ceremonial and sacrificial laws are done away with in Him. The New Covenant is not a "liberation" from the moral laws of God, nor is it a repudiation- an abolishing- of all the things contained in the Old Testament. This includes the Dominion Mandate.
So what does this dominion-taking look like, practically? In a nutshell, it looks like applying all of God's Word to all of life.
Instead of seeing this world as a lost cause, "going to hell in a hand-basket," we should see this world as God's. He owns it. We are His ambassadors come to claim His domain back from those who have usurped Him.
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matt. 28:18)
Scripture paints a picture, not of a monastic separation from the world, nor of an antinomian revelry in sin, but of an aggressive expansion, an in-this-world-but-not-of-it march forward which calls every area of life- politics, art, culture, education, all of it- to submit to Christ.
Which leads to discussing eschatology- what we think about the end-times. The dominion worldview can seem inherently postmillenial. Postmillenialists believe that there will be no tribulation- the church will obey God more and more and His Kingdom gradually will advance and fill the earth. "All the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD."
But for someone who believes that the earth will get worse and worse until Jesus comes back, it might seem like dominion is a silly and irrelevant idea.
Though it does kinda make better sense from a post-mil standpoint.
My point with this post, however, isn't to start a debate on eschatology. I'd rather leave that for another time. My point here is that this world is God's. His Kingdom will reign. Perhaps that reign will be inaugurated by Divine fiat, where the world gets worse and worse and then BAM. Christ returns and brings justice. Perhaps it will indeed be by the faithfulness of the remnant.
Either way, His Kingdom is inevitable.
Either way, it is for us to obey. To live as if all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ. Because it has.
Christianity isn't another part of our life. It is our life. It's not the thing we put in the "religion" box on Facebook. It's the foundation, the worldview, the root of everything that we do. It must be so.
And it gets bigger. The dominion-minded believer desires to see things like politics and the arts conquered for Christ. This does NOT mean using physical force to overthrow governments, but it does mean striving for the conformation of the institutions of this world to The Word of God.
Yes, I firmly believe that our national legal system should be built on The moral Law of God. What other option do we have as believers?
The retort may come back, "you're advocating saving the nation through politics!"
Not at all. Nations are lost or won one soul at a time. Politics cannot save. But, as has been said- if Christians are faithful, and God is willing, politics will be saved.
So the dominion-minded believer isn't just "waiting at the bus stop" for Jesus' return. He is actively striving to expand the real-life Kingdom of God on this earth.
"Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10)
That's what I see Scripture exhorting us to. This earth belongs to Christ. Let's act like it.
I hope that this woefully short epistle attempting to define dominion proves helpful and edifying to some. I might have inspired more questions than I answered, but that might be a good thing. Please ask the questions below, though I can't guarantee that I'll be able to answer them. Oftentimes, my answers aren't even necessary- others will pitch in and answer the questions for me, and sometimes better than I could've. I enjoy learning from you all, so thanks again for the discussions.
Speaking of dominion, here's one of my latest dominion-taking endeavors in the area of music. I think it's fitting to the topic at hand, both in title and in genre. Because God's Kingdom, one way or another, will reach Critical Mass.
Critical Mass by gabrielhudelson
"Christ shall have dominion, over land and sea,
Earth’s remotest regions shall His empire be;
They that wilds inhabit shall their worship bring,
Kings shall render tribute, nations serve our King."