Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
In this segment of our program, we’ve been going through Dave Hunt’s out-of-print book Beyond Seduction in which he addressed in greater detail the issues presented in his best-seller 20 years ago The Seduction of Christianity. Nearly all of those issues are still influencing the church today, some to a greater extent than others. A few have changed superficially, but remain the same false teaching at their cores.
Among the topics we’re going to discuss today is the unbiblical notion that Christianity will eventually, through the application of spiritual principles, biblical laws, and social activism, turn the world into a paradise - literally a “heaven on earth.” The result will be, according to those who propose these ideas, the world converting to Christianity. The names given to variations on that belief are “Dominionism,” and “Kingdom Dominion,” and “Christian Reconstructionism,” “Theonomy,” the “Restoration Movement,” “Kingdom Now,” and so forth.
Dave, for Christians, they say, “Well, it sounds like a good idea. Sounds like something that would really be good for the world, just good for everyone.” But what’s the problem?
Dave: Well, it would be a total change from what happened when Christ was here. John 15 - He said to His disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you….The servant isn’t greater than his lord. They hated me, persecuted me. What do you think they’ll do to you?”
Furthermore, Christ came to call us out of this world into the Kingdom of God, and He specifically said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” His prayer - the real Lord’s prayer, John 17 - He talks about “those whom thou hast given me out of the world.” You would never get the idea that Christians are supposed to take over the world, or supposed to improve the world, somehow get voted into, you know, high office, etc. That is really an unbiblical idea.
Furthermore, Christ never taught that. We have the record of His life here on this earth. As I recall, He only mentioned Caesar once, and that was not about taking over. The Roman Empire was horrible. It was evil, oppressive…
Tom: Caesars were to be viewed as gods.
Dave: Yes, and they were vicious. Of course, the Roman Legions were vicious. Jesus never organized a prayer campaign, a national day of prayer to pray for Caesar and to pray for the government, although Paul did say we’re to pray for those who are in authority. Jesus never had a protest march against homosexuality. He said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And He made a very clear distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world.
Tom: Dave, going back to the Old Testament: Abraham is called out of Ur of the Chaldees. God directs him over to the land of Canaan, and he’s to start a nation. God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is a nation. Wasn’t Israel supposed to start at a certain place and then grow and then take over the rest of the world?
Dave: Not quite. Israel was given a land, the land of Canaan. They were given it because of the wickedness of these people. It would be 400 years (Genesis 15) before God would be able to bring His people Israel into that land. In the meantime, they would be slaves in Egypt, because He was not going to just arbitrarily give them a land, but He was going to give them the land because of the evil - the horrible wickedness of these people. And I don’t know, the Bible doesn’t give us the details of that. We get some hints, and these people were to be wiped out, literally, just like with the Flood. The evil at that time was so great, God determined He was going to destroy man from the face of the earth. Well, the evil in Canaan was so great that God determined that in His righteousness He would have to destroy them.
Now, we have the boundaries of this land given to us in Genesis 15. Never was Israel to take over the world. Furthermore, they were not to try to convert these people. See, Islam says, “Oh, well, we’re just doing what you say God said for the Jews to do.” No, you’re not. You’re going around trying to convert people at the point of a sword, and you either submit to Allah and confess that he’s the one true God and Mohammed is his prophet, or we take your head off.
Israel was not to convert these people. They were to literally kill them because of their evil. And furthermore, they were not to spread this all over the world. This was the land of Israel, the chosen land. This was Jerusalem where God had set His name, etc., where the temple would be built.
Tom: And, most importantly, where the Messiah was to come. That was what it was all about.
Dave: Exactly, and where the Messiah will return. At the Second Coming He will return after the great Tribulation; after Antichrist has taken over the world and set up his kingdom, then the Messiah will return to destroy Antichrist and his kingdom, and to set up His kingdom on the throne of His father, David.
I can remember, Tom - I don’t think you were a Christian then - but Come Together. I remember Come Together was a musical. It was, I suppose, quite good. I don’t remember it, but I remember attending, and it was very appealing; large crowds gathered here. Then, I think, following that - I hope I don’t have the order wrong, but anyway probably not too many are still alive who were there in those days…
Tom: Fifties? Fifty years ago, Dave?
Dave: No, I think it would have been in the ‘60s, late ‘60s, early ‘70s. But then there was one: If My People. That was a rousing musical. It was based on 2 Chronicles:7:14, and, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and turn from their wicked way,” and so forth, “and call upon Me and repent, I will hear them, and I will forgive their sins and heal their land.” I’m not giving an exact quote, but that’s the gist of what that verse says.
Well, Christians applied that to the United States. They applied it to themselves: “If My people…” No, that’s Israel. Their land. No, that’s the land of Israel. America is not the land of the Christians any more than France is the land of the French Christians, or Germany the land of the German Christians. So they got a little confused - and that’s part of the problem, Tom, that you’re talking about here, because they think that Israel has been replaced by the church - Replacement Theology. Israel’s job was to set up the kingdom on this earth, and that was an everlasting kingdom. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and Israel will have a kingdom, you know, on this earth. And that will be fulfilled. And the latter end of Israel will be better than the beginning. But that’s not the church.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, going back to Israel, it began as a theocracy. The prophets, they went to God - whether it be Samuel or whoever it might have been, these were the mediators (I suppose I could say that) between God and man and it was ruled by God, basically. But Israel wanted a king. They wanted to be like the other nations. So, isn’t that sort of the root - going back to the root of the problem here of men trying to develop and set up their own kingdom or have some say in this?
Dave: Well, you have two choices. We could illustrate it many ways from the Bible. Lot and his family lived in Sodom. Sodom and Gomorrah were unbelievably evil, and God had to destroy them because of the wickedness. Now, we don’t get the idea that Lot should have tried to convert all of Sodom and Gomorrah; he should have tried to become mayor of Sodom, and if he could have become mayor of Sodom, then he might have been able to appoint people to the school board, and eventually they could take over. This world is heading for God’s judgment. The Bible tells us it’s heading for Armageddon. And all nations will be punished by God at Armageddon. God’s judgment is going to fall, and there’s so many verses - I mean, some of them are frightening, and we quote a number of them in our newsletter. Recently we had an article about Judgment Day, and I have a new book titled Judgment Day!, and God says, “If I whet my glittering sword…”
Tom: Sharpen, right?
Dave: Yes. “…it is going to be drunk with blood, and the slain of the Lord will be from one end of the earth to the other.” They won’t even be gathered up. There’s a horrible judgment coming upon this world.
Now, to imagine, then, that somehow the church is going to take over, and that we’re going to Christianize America and Christianize the world…In fact, people like Gary North and some of these others - Jay Grimstead, I remember, was the head of the Christian Coalition; I haven’t hear much about that lately. They’re probably still functioning - they wouldn’t say we’re going to convert everybody in the world, but we’re going to Christianize the world. When people see that if you follow biblical principles, your business works better, the country works better, then the world will get on the bandwagon.
Tom: The men that you mentioned, they would have a background of Reformed Theology, so this goes back to Calvin and Geneva, doesn’t it?
Dave: Right. Back to Calvin and then to Augustine before him. And you can take it back to - well, the first hero would be Constantine, the Roman emperor, who supposedly became a Christian and Christianized the Roman Empire and funded churches, and so forth. He organized and gave the first speech at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. He wanted to Christianize the world because, after all, these Christians don’t get drunk, they don’t start riots, they don’t start revolutions. If we could get a little of this to rub off on others, wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Now, we’re sort of coming back to that, Tom - maybe more than “sort of” - in a number of ways. You mentioned the “Kingdom Now,” “Kingdom Dominion” philosophy. That’s pretty much the idea. I can remember the conference - I didn’t attend it, but I had a lot of the literature - held in Phoenix called, “Take it by Force.” You remember that one?
Dave: Their key verse, I think, was God’s command to Joshua: “Go in and possess the land. Every place that the sole of your foot treads on, I have given that to you.” Now, that was the land of Canaan. That’s not a mandate for Christians to take over the United States. But that was the interpretation, the erroneous interpretation, that these people had.
And I can remember watching live on TV as Paul Crouch said, “We are going to take the airways. We’re going to take the schools,” you know, “we’re going to take over, and we’re going to do it by force if we have to.”
Now, Jesus said, “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, but my servants don’t fight. My kingdom is not of this world.” So they got that really wrong.
Now, a major problem, Tom, is the Kingdom Now Dominionists - the Reconstructionists who say it all happened, all the prophecies were fulfilled by AD 70 - Nero was the Anti-Christ and Jesus returned, the Second Coming took place, He returned in the person of the Roman armies to excommunicate Israel, to destroy Jerusalem - that is just absolutely contrary to everything that the Bible teaches.
Now, the problem was they were confused about the kingdom. The disciples were confused about the kingdom. “Lord, are you going to restore the Kingdom to Israel now?”
Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times and seasons. They’re in the Father’s hands. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you will be My witnesses. I want you to go out to every nation and preach the gospel. Make disciples of all nations.” So you get a clear rebuke of that idea. So these are Reconstructionists, and they think that - as you mentioned, Tom - Calvinists, basically…this is Reformed Theology…
Tom: Called Theonomists.
Dave: Right. Now, they think that the kingdom is now. I mean, you could almost make jokes about it. We’re in the Millennium, Tom, and Satan has been locked up. I didn’t notice that. Peter said he’s still going about “as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Scripture says, “Evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
But these people, they believe that we are in the kingdom. Christ is ruling from heaven. They won’t even let the King back to earth to rule until they have taken over this world. When they take over the media and the schools and…I remember - what was it called - they had a conference of about 10,000 evangelical leaders, many of them - most of them - in Texas. Remember when Reagan got the nomination to be the Republican candidate for President? And wow! They had such a - and Gary North was one of the speakers - such a rejoicing! They are going to take over; “We’re going to get our people on the Supreme Court, we’re going to role this abortion thing back, and we’re going to have Christians in government, and so forth…”
Tom: Dave, it’s really enticing. I mean, you say, “Well, wait a minute, if they’re standing for righteousness and they want to bring in godly principles, and so on…” But it’s not God’s way. It’s not how He tell us to go about what we’re to do.
Dave: Well, it’s not God’s way, because we’re not supposed to try to entice the world to begin practicing Christian principles or biblical principles in order to become more prosperous. That’s the message of the prosperity gospel. So it’s very closely related with that, Copeland, and Hagen, and so forth. This is the message of the seeker-friendly. Unfortunately, they are compromising the gospel. They’re getting non-Christians into the church, and they become part of the church.
But these men think that if they can take over the world and set up the kingdom, then Christ would return. Of course, there’s a basic problem, because the Bible tells us when Christ returns…well, there are two returns: He’s returning for the church, and then He’s returning for Israel. So the first time He comes, He catches us up. We meet Him in the air. “The dead shall rise first. We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” So these people are looking forward to meeting a Christ who, when they meet Him, their feet are still planted on planet earth. And He hasn’t come to take them to heaven to His Father’s house, He’s come to rule over the kingdom they’ve established in His name, they think. They’ve been serving Antichrist. It’s a horrible delusion.
And then, the Scripture tells us, at the Second Coming (Zechariah 14) when His feet touch the Mount of Olives, it very clearly says, “He brings all the saints from heaven with Him.” Well, the saints must already be in heaven at the Second Coming. Indeed, they are. Revelation 19, we read of the marriage - not the marriage supper, that takes place later - the marriage of the Lamb to the Bride, and that’s the church. So the church is in heaven. There’s been the Judgment Seat of Christ and our lives have been reviewed, and we receive a reward, but many works are burned up. And then we’re married to Christ, and then we return with Him at the Second Coming.
Tom: Dave, what you’re more than implying - what you’re saying here is that if we don’t understand the doctrines, the teachings of Scripture - and as it says twice in Proverbs, “There’s a way that seems right unto a man.” And, Dave, if we don’t do it God’s way, but do it our way, it leads to destruction. And that’s our concern. Many people who are sincere, who want to see God’s will be done, want to see His kingdom come here - if they don’t do it God’s way, they could be, as you implied, working for the Antichrist unwittingly. Setting up something that’s contrary to God’s word, but seems right, and seems effective.
Dave: Here’s an ad back in those days. Well, it was put out by a Christian group, and they called the Rapture, “God’s helicopter escape.” They derided it. It was a series of four books that were being advertised that were put out by the Reconstructionists. “A new vision has captured the imaginations of a growing army of registered voters. It’s called Dominion. For the first time in over 300 years a growing number of Christians are starting to view themselves as an army on the move. This army will grow. This series of books is designed to help it grow and to grow tougher. The authors of this series are determined to set the agenda in world affairs for the next few centuries.” They’re not expecting the Rapture, of course. “We are calling the whole Christian community to debate us just as Luther called them to debate him when he nailed the 95 Theses to the church door. If we’re correct about the God-required nature of our agenda, it will attract a dedicated following and could produce a social transformation that will dwarf the Reformation.”
Tom: That ad is from 18 years ago. Today we have things such as faith initiative; we have plans of social action and activism; an ecumenical thrust which brings people of faith together to accomplish these things, to solve the world’s problems. That’s just the latter day application of what you’re talking about.
Dave: Yeah, you had the Moral Majority, which I guess is defunct now - I don’t know what happened to it. You have the Christian Coalition. Who was in the Christian Coalition? Mormons and Moonies and Catholics.
Tom: People of faith.
Dave: Yeah, they call it “people of faith.” And then you have President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative. It doesn’t matter what faith you have, just so long as you have a faith. Then people of faith have got to get together. You’re against abortion, I’m against abortion, we’ll work together, and so forth. This is where we are today. Tom, you can’t quarrel with people who want to stop abortion; you can’t quarrel with people who want to awaken homosexuals and want to awaken secular people to the horror of homosexuality. It cuts your life span about 50 percent, and this is in our schools; it’s being promoted in the schools and so forth. It’s horrible! So I can appreciate that.
On the other hand, the solution is not social or political reformation - moral action - but the solution is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have to call people to be born again. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” So whatever these people are building, it is not the kingdom of God, because they are not calling them to be born again, they are calling them to political and social action based on certain moral principles. And it’s not biblical, Tom.
You know, it’s very difficult to say, “Guys, this isn’t right. You’ve got a problem.” It sounds so good. “Look what we could do if we could organize all the voters, and who cares whether they were Mormons or Moonies or Catholics, or whatever, or even atheists? So long as they share our moral principles, let’s reconstruct this world.” And even J.I. Packer has fallen for this idea to some extent.
Tom: Well, Dave, we also have the church growing- you know, the church growth movement - now it’s going to become an influence in the community, then it’s going to affect community action, then we’re going to move to a global kind of action. Now, that’s got some red flags all over it.
Dave: It has, Tom, but it’s very, very appealing. If this could be done, you know, wouldn’t this change the world? No, it might change the world superficially, but it still will leave people heading for eternal hell, and that’s what we are supposed to do. We’re to call people out of this world; we’re to make disciples of all nations, disciples of Christ; we’re to win them with the gospel. And that, unfortunately, is not popular, but I believe it is the truth of the Word of God, and every person has to come to his or her own conclusions.