John Calvin: The Implications of His Thought
Teaching Dominion to a Twelve Year Old
It is a challenge for a teacher to demystify seemingly lofty concepts before the eyes of their pupils. Jesus Christ illustrated how to teach great ideas through using images. He taught that the kingdom of heaven (a shadowy and vague concept even to the learned) was like a woman who found a coin. He said the kingdom was like a pinch of leaven in bread dough. Likewise, as we teach the concept of godly dominion to our children and others, we must not pretend that just saying the word �dominion,� or using the phrase �go take dominion,� will be enough to impart any understanding.
Recently, while with a group of very active churchmen, I shared that the purpose of our lives was to take godly dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28). They were bewildered. The senior pastor of twenty years asked, �What is dominion?� Later on, a man from that group said to me very piously, �Well, we can't expect to go dominate the world.� He thought that because the word �dominion� looked like the word �dominate,� they must mean the same thing (and because the term �dominion� is used mainly in the Old Testament, it must somehow be cast away as harsh and expired). If misunderstanding triumphs among seasoned churchmen, how can we hope that our children will emerge from their youth with a clear sense of what �taking dominion� is all about? For example, the majority of children under the age of twelve, and most American churchmen, cannot read Rushdoony's theological teachings on dominion for themselves. So we must teach them using unsophisticated and common materials like Jesus did.
Behold the Tomato!
Bear with me while I illustrate: Place a tomato in front of your child and ask, �How could we, using all the intelligence and resources available to us, take dominion over this tomato?� Immediately, the idea of dominating the tomato through pounding it with his fist doesn't make much sense. With a little bantering and guided discussion, help him understand that the idea of dominion is to maximize the use of that tomato. Ideas could be to take the seeds and replant them, grow a tomato garden, sell them for profit, take that profit and tithe on it, hire workers to tend the garden, donate stewed tomatoes to the poor, contribute tomatoes to science for medicinal studies, research the uses of tomato-based products, etc. Require your child to study the life of dominion-man George Washington Carver and his work in unlocking the usefulness of peanuts. The important thing to impress upon your child is the earthly reality of God's assignment to take the entirety of the earth (making mention of the soil, beasts, and trees, as well as reminding your child that part of creation includes his own human body, brains, and energy) and make it flourish to the glory of God. Leave him no room to imagine that spirituality is abstract, otherworldly, or in any way unrelated to normal living.
As we pursue the weighty task of dominion, let us remember the earth is drenched in the revelation of God. It is to His genius and glory that the world is a giant pedagogical aid (Rom. 1:20) . Therefore, we must learn to teach our children the deepest things of the kingdom, like our calling to dominion, through coins and tomatoes. If we fail to teach the urgency and duty to reconstruct the earth to God's glory, we rob our children of the very meaning and essence of Biblical faith.
Mark Hoverson was raised on a farm in North Dakota and recently moved to Maryland to serve as a Youth Director with the Presbyterian Church in America. He and his wife, Shannon, are celebrating the birth of their first son, Issac Davis. Hoverson is a student with Bahnsen Theological Seminary.