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Arm of the Flesh: Do Dominionists Believe They Can Usher in the Kingdom of God by Their Own Power?

Chalcedon Editorial
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None of us are called to set the world or our time aright, but rather to meet our responsibilities under God. The responsibility and work at hand is ours; the issue is in the hands of God. ~ R. J. Rushdoony (Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation, p. 19)

Are we as Christians supposed to usher in the fullness of the Kingdom of God by our own works? That’s a common misconception of Christian Reconstruction. Secular critics often accuse Christian Reconstructionists of desiring to seize the reins of political power in order to enforce a Christian theocracy on an unwilling population. Not true.

Then there’s the Christian critics who accuse Christian Reconstructionists of attempting to do what only God can do—usher in the millennial reign—by way of Christ’s Second Coming. In other words, they say Christian Reconstructionists believe they can create a Christian utopia solely by human effort. Again, not true.

For the orthodox Christian… he has been regenerated by God through Christ to re-assume the task abandoned by Adam, namely, to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth under God and His law-word. (Rushdoony, God’s Plan for Victory, p. 15)

Our calling to dominion is founded upon our regeneration in Christ. Are we to diminish the power of our regeneration by limiting it to matters of the heart? For some, that is certainly the case. For them, it is a stretch to suggest we are doing anything resembling the task abandoned by Adam.

Yet, if Christ is the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), or the “second Man” (v. 47); if the authority given to Him after His resurrection included “heaven and earth” (Matt. 28:18), and if we are to pray that His will is done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), then can we not safely assume that we are commissioned in Christ to bring the Kingdom of God to bear upon our world in some way?

Doesn’t every Christian believe that God requires human effort even if our task is only preaching the gospel and no more? The difference, therefore, is only in the degree of influence. For some, our influence as Christians is limited to regeneration and discipleship. For postmillennialists, our influence extends to the whole world:

The heart of post-millennialism is the faith that Christ will through His people accomplish and put into force the glorious prophecies of Isaiah and all the Scriptures, that He shall overcome all His enemies through His covenant people, and that He shall exercise His power and Kingdom in all the world and over all men and nations, so that, whether in faith or in defeat, every knee shall bow to Him and every tongue shall confess God (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:11). (God’s Plan for Victory, p. 26)

Even though this calling sounds too grand to be accomplished without Christ’s return, we believe it is very much the work of the Holy Spirit—the third person of the Trinity—working in and through us in the same manner as the Apostle Paul describes in our own sanctification:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12-13)

We work out what God works in us, but we find no basis for limiting that work to only matters of the heart as we piously wait for death or a rapture while the world remains under the dominion of the wicked.

Shall we change the world within our lifetime? We will not, but there was never a divine deadline imposed on us. There was only the calling to be responsible and faithful to what we know our Lord commands of us. It is God who shall work all things together for good in His own time.