Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Dominionism and Evangelicalism PART 1: It's All About The Power

This is my follow-up post to my one on why I believe Ted Cruz is a Dominionist.

As I noted in that post, the problem facing Evangelicalism is that it has embraced the beliefs of the Dominionist movement - if not its most controversial, but logical, consequences.

I also spelled out in that post just how much Dominionism has influenced the political wing of the Religious Right. The most obvious is the fact that Dominionist (and liar and historical fabricator) David Barton helped write the 2012 Republican Party platform. But there is a lot more, if you do a basic Google search.

In the Christianity Today article that sparked that post, there is a line that I think is telling. “The term has become elastic, encompassing Christians who believe the United States was once a predominantly Christian nation as well as those who hold 'right-wing' views.” And the corollary essentially defining “right-wing views", “Ted’s not a dominionist; he’s a constitutionalist.”

The problem is, both of these illustrate just how far Evangelicalism has embraced the Dominionist doctrine, to the point where they can’t even recognize when they are quoting Dominionist talking points. As I will show in this series, the belief in the myth of the Christian Nation and the political goals of the the Religious Right are Dominionist at their core.

I am going to break this post up into three parts. The first will focus more on Dominionist teachings, while the second will look at the specifically American version of Dominionism. The third will look at how Dominionst assumptions (particularly Presuppositionalism) have poisoned Evangelicalism.

Let me first credit my online friend and fellow blogger, Scarlet Letters who referred me to Talk2Action as a resource on Ted Cruz and Dominionism. She and I have had an ongoing discussion for a few years on our mutual concern about Christian Patriarchy and Dominionism - and our mutual love for Classical Music, which we both perform in a professional capacity. 

This article in particular clarified for me the continuum which exists between “hard” and “soft” Dominionism. The article is worth reading in full.

I have personal experience both with “hard” Dominionism (from my involvement with Bill Gothard - and his law school which is my alma mater) and with “soft” dominionism, from both my upbringing in the homeschool movement of the 1980s and 90s and from my nearly 40 years in Evangelicalism.

My knowledge of the “hard” Dominionism is mostly of the Christian Reconstructionist movement (read my post about it and its longstanding connection with the White Supremacist movement here), but I also was influenced by the “Kingdom Now” branch through the influence that David Barton has exerted on the homeschooling movement and Evangelicalism in general. For those who delve into the gritty details of theology, they argue (and have made the point in this discussion) that “true” Dominionists are the “hard” variety. This makes sense to a movement that is obsessed with ideological purity. However, it ignores the fact that the similarities are greater than the differences. We may use different words, but the ideas are the same. We may take things further or not, but the direction is still the same.

And, most important as I see it, the practical results are remarkably similar.

As the authors of that post above point out, there are three essential ideas that are present in both “hard” and “soft” Dominionism. My goal in this post is to show how these three ideas have been widely embraced within Evangelicalism, and particularly within the political bloc which is the Religious Right. First, however, I want to look at the more general principle of Dominionism.

PART 1: It’s all about the power

 Salman Rusdie. Still Right.

The first clue is in the name: Dominionist. The doctrine is drawn in large part from Genesis 1:28.

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. (King James Version - because it translates the original as “dominion” - and because many Dominionists are “King James Only.”)

This is what Dominionists refer to as the “Dominion Mandate.” Mankind is tasked with “taking dominion” over the earth. The Fall got things off track a bit, so God had to start again with Israel, giving them the dominion mandate, and appointing them to rule the earth. This didn’t work out for various reasons (or, if you are a Dominionist, presumably because Israel screwed it up, so God gave up on them…) So finally God went with Plan C: The Church.

Thus, in our modern times, the Church™ has been given the dominion mandate, and has thus been appointed to rule and subdue the earth. And yes, “every living thing” includes ruling other humans.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The point of “dominion” is power and control. The ability to wield power and exert control over others.

It is kind of amusing sometimes talking with Dominionists - the true believers. I had an acquaintance who would say things like “I weeded my garden today, taking dominion over my bit of earth.” Worth a chuckle in that case, but not so much when you start looking at the overall goals of the movement.

At this point, I think it is good to look at the “Seven Mountains.” As I pointed out in my Cruz post, Dominionists are not monolithic. The two main branches are Christian Reconstructionism, which has strong ties, personal and philosophical, to the neo-Confederate movement. These are the followers of R. J. Rushdoony and Gary North. It’s a very white, strongly Calvinist, and openly theocratic movement. The other branch is the New Apostolic/Kingdom Now/Seven Mountains group, which has ties to the Pentacostal/Charismatic movement, and is less likely to be racially segregated. (This is the branch that Ted Cruz’s father is a luminary in.)

The differences between the movements are real, and the members sometimes take them deadly seriously. However, for most outsiders, the two branches are much more alike than different.

The “Seven Mountains” may be from that branch, for example, but there is no doubt that the Reconstructionist branch holds the same views, even if the terms are different. The belief is that Christians (of the right, Dominionist sort, not Catholics or Liberals, of course) should seek to exert dominion over these seven areas of human society:

Government, religion, media, family, business, education, and arts and entertainment.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to see these listed. In fact, many of us raised in generic Evangelical churches have heard plenty about how Christians have to “take back” these areas from the infidels the non-Christians. This is Dominionism in a soft form. But don’t forget, this isn’t merely a call to engage in these areas, it is to “take them back,” to exert power and control over these areas.

It is this idea that has infiltrated Evangelicalism - and it explains why Christianity Today is so eager to draw a “distinction.” They don’t want to be lumped in with the Reconstructionist crowd, but they are unwilling to look at the fact that they have adopted the same idea, that Christians must “take back” and rule these areas of society.

It has been about three and a half years since I wrote my first post on religious issues, Patriarchy, Christian Reconstructionism, and White Supremacy. In the process of researching that article, something clicked in my brain, and I started to see just how many of the offensive political positions and laughably silly claims of the Religious Right were in fact coming from a Dominionist point of view. If you look at those Seven Mountains, it starts to make sense. Let’s wade in.

“Government” is the most visible and obvious one, of course. As I will discuss in the second part of this post, a key Dominionist goal is to use the government to enforce religious rules. In another context, we might call this “Sharia.” Dominionists call it “Theonomy,” and I hope to look more closely at that in the next post.

In any case, you can see this in the legislative priorities of the Religious Right. Enforcing sexual rules is essentially priority #1 and has been for a number of decades. (In fact, that was the big pivot of the movement back in the 1970s, going from pro-segregation to “family values.”) Right now, you can see this in the push for “Religious Freedom” acts allowing businesses and even government officials to deny housing, employment, and basic services to those who do not follow certain sexual rules. (Recent laws would allow discrimination against single mothers as well as LGBT people.) You can further see it in the rhetoric surrounding birth control as basic medical care. The Religious Right is furious that birth control might be considered to be part of basic medical coverage because that might permit the wrong people to have the wrong sex and not be sufficiently punished for it. (I wrote about the Evangelical obsession with sex here.)

I’ll just touch on it, but the other key bit of “taking Dominion” over government concerns economic policies. For Ted Cruz’s father, in the end times, God will appoint “kings” to preside over a massive transfer of wealth from the “ungodly” to the “godly.” For far too many Evangelicals, there is a similar idea at work, namely, that the “free market” is God’s means of rewarding “good” people and punishing “bad” people. In another context, we would call this "Karma." By interfering with the market - and particularly by giving benefits to poor “bad” people, we are interfering with God’s Karma "justice." (This could be a whole other post…)

Perhaps there is no greater indication of just how far Dominionists and Dominionist ideas have infiltrated politics is that historical denialist (aka “liar”) and Dominionist David Barton helped write the Republican Platform in 2012. My Ted Cruz post also has a list of prominent Republicans who are strongly associated with Dominionists. And make no mistake, this is the result of a concerted long-term effort by the Dominionists to gain political power. They have never claimed otherwise.

One final bit on “government.” This also explains why there has been this push in certain places to have blatantly sectarian prayers in government meetings. Including “In Jesus’ Name Amen.” And on the flip side, a complete meltdown if any other religious are allowed to give an invocation. Dominion requires control of the state by the church.

Moving on the the next one, “religion,” Dominionists have expressed this two ways. The first is that they unapologetically believe that religious freedom is for Christians (the right kind) only, not for atheists or believers in other religions. As Reconstructionist Gary North stated:

"We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God."

Remember this quote when you hear Ted Cruz and others in the movement - and the Religious Right - talk about “religious liberty.” It is a Trojan Horse. I’ll look at this idea in the context of Christian Nationalism in the next post.

The second is one that Dominionists seek to exert dominion over local churches. I have known several different people who left churches after they were taken over by people with an agenda and a "system." This has ranged from relatively soft Dominionists like the Ezzos (who advocate that parents use abusive discipline to control their children) to followers of Bill Gothard to outright Reconstructionists.

In the less blatant sense, though, the Dominionist idea of power is making a comeback in the form of “Church Discipline.” This is a bit beyond the scope of this post, but those interested might poke around on thewartburgwatch.com for more. The general idea is that church discipline isn’t a way of removing egregiously bad people, but of enforcing theological purity, female submission, and autocratic rule by pastors.

“Media” is an interesting one. There has long been a push for Christians to “take back the media” from the liberals and atheists. (And the Jews, in some cases ) Certain elements of Fox News have filled this function, as have a few alternative publications. The problem, of course, is that legitimate journalists have a bothersome tendency to be loyal to the truth, even when it reflects badly on religious leaders. So certain Dominionist leaders (hi there, Bill Gothard, Doug Phillips, and David Barton!) have been furious when a supposedly “friendly” publication, like World Magazine shows integrity and exposes them. Perhaps the closest the Dominionists have come on this score is getting Glenn Beck to name David Barton as his “history” consultant.

Probably where we see this one most often is in the relentless attacks and distrust of “liberal” media.

“Family.” By now, this one should be pretty obvious. From the appropriation of “family values” to mean a very specific family structure - and income level - to the insistence on the use of government power to favor some families over others, the Dominionist doctrine is endemic to Evangelicalism. This is why we have had a knock down, drag out fist fight over which relationships a secular government will recognize. It is also why there is so much invective against (usually poor) single or divorced mothers, why the stay-at-home-mom is worshiped in Evangelicalism as the pinnacle of “godly” femininity (despite the fact that this excludes lower income women from “godliness”) and so on.

Note again that power and control are the issues. It’s not enough to have a certain kind of family. One must use government power force others to do the same, and punish them if they don’t.

The second way this is expressed, though, is in the Dominionist blitz of books on and for families. Bill Gothard is probably the most visible and long lived, but the “godly” childrearing books are everywhere. As are the “godly” marriage and “godly” dating books. And, surprise, surprise, these are also all about power and control. How to get unquestioning and instant obedience from your kids. Why a woman must obey her husband, and coddle his ego from feeling in the least bit challenged by her competence. It’s all about a structure, a hierarchy. It’s about who has “dominion” over whom. As in the church, as in society, so also in the family.

I think you also see dominion in the area of “business” in two different ways, the personal, and the societal. On the personal level, many Dominionists teach that Christian men (always the men) should be business owners and entrepreneurs rather than work for a boss. (You can’t serve two masters, right?) A "godly" man ought to be exerting power and control, not submitting to it.

On the other hand, though, you also see this in the ever-recurring calls to boycott businesses that won’t enforce our sexual rules. (I grew up in the 1980s when there were never-ending lists of businesses to boycott because they gave health benefits to same-sex partners. Because providing health care is clearly the work of the Devil.) Again, it was never enough to just not do something oneself. One had to “take dominion” and force others to follow the religious rules.


“Education” has been a huge issue for many years. The big battlegrounds have been “prayer in schools,” meaning, as in government, sectarian prayers to Jesus Christ. I know the Establishment Clause has been unpopular with Dominionists since the beginning, but it has been disappointing that so many Evangelicals can’t understand why it is a violation to force children to sit through a religious prayer backed by the power of government. Maybe it is because my wife and I had to grit our teeth and keep our mouths shut when we were teens because there was no alternative. But I just can’t get on board with the idea that the government should sponsor prayers. It cheapens the prayer, and dirties the government.

It’s not just prayers, though. Two other battlegrounds are centered around science and scientific denialism. Young Earth Creationists (who I’ve blogged about here) are strongly associated with the Dominionist movement. In fact, the major figures currently (Ken Ham, for example) are themselves Dominionists. Rushdoony bankrolled the founding of the modern YEC movement. Despite some key court cases that found (for extremely obvious reasons) that YEC and its twin, “intelligent design”  were in fact religion trying to pretend it was science, the YEC movement continues to battle for the use of Genesis in science classrooms. (And in Louisiana, they actually won. On a related note, Tim Teepell, a homeschooler raised in the Dominionist wing of that movement, was Governor Jindal’s chief of staff.

The other rather obvious battleground has been over sex ed. (Actually, the more accurate title might be the human reproductive system, but like anything else involving sex...) This has become increasingly laughable as the results of “abstinence only” education has become clear. Even the extreme religious form not taught in schools but churches, involving virginity pledges, only serves to delay sexual initiation by a short period of time - and increases STDs and pregnancy Again, way beyond the scope of this post, but many of the popular “abstinence only” curricula are written by religious organizations, and contain a multitude of statements pushing “traditional” gender roles, sexist stereotypes (including the one that females aren’t good at math and science), and blame women for rape. Clearly this goes beyond the scientifically accurate information such a course should contain (and, I might add, that my own parents taught me). Instead, it is an indoctrination into an entire religious culture wherein females are prized for their virginity, while males are praised for their aggression and dominance.

Again, this has become a huge battleground, and I believe that it stems from the same belief that Christians must take dominion over education, and wield its power in the service of Christianity.

A final way the goal of dominion over education plays out is in the homeschooling movement. (And in some cases, like Doug Wilson, church schools.)  Not all homeschoolers are Dominionists, but many are, and homeschooling is viewed by the founders of Reconstructionism to be a necessary means of raising the Dominionist army. For many, it is an assertion of power over their children, who owe absolute obedience, even as adults.

The final “mountain” is “arts and entertainment.” Allow me a moment of annoyance here that the two are always lumped together. But anyway, this is the area in which Dominionism has skipped over Marx’s first step in history and gone straight to farce Dominionists have been big on both control of arts and entertainment and on the creation of their own brands. Any of us ex-Fundies can testify about the belief that all “rock” music (meaning any musical style originating with brown skinned people) was demonic. And the “don’t ever step into a movie theater” thing. And the “modern culture is all evil” thing, for that matter. So yes, cultural isolation and control has always been a Dominionist goal.

The more laughable part, though, has always been the attempts to make “Christian” movies and other entertainment. Fortunately, CCM has moved beyond its Strypyr days. And beyond the days before that. We can always look back on the worst album covers of all time, though.  But I think the modern “Christian movie” culture has been the worst. From Fireproof and its toxic advice for abused women  to the comically bad God’s Not Dead series, which stereotypes atheists and generally fails to pass even a cursory reality test. (Kudos to the author of this post for noting “This, of course, is when it becomes abundantly clear that no one involved with writing this movie has ever taken Intro to Philosophy. Or ever been to college. Or anywhere near a college. I don’t even think they’ve watched “Saved By The Bell: The College Years.”) It’s just plain embarrassing, I must say. It isn’t aided by the fact that those Christian artists (and there are plenty) who are actually thoughtful tend to get expelled for failing to toe the line

So there you have it, the mountains of Dominionism. This leads me to what I believe is the central problem with Dominionism and its influence on Evangelicalism.

Dominionism views the Kingdom of God as being fundamentally about power and control, not love and service.

This is, in my view, the fundamental (and Fundamentalist) problem. Because Dominionism in any of its forms views the Kingdom of God as power over and control of those outside the faith, it will inevitably express itself as attempts to control institutions and people. That’s why those who buy into the Dominionist philosophy will never be content to live their lives the way they believe is right and let others do the same. Instead, they must control the sexual behavior of others, have only their prayers prayed in school and government; why their holy book should be given priority as a “science” textbook, and why ultimately a Dominionist utopia would “deny freedom of religion to the enemies of God” as Gary North puts it.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

The longer I live and the more I read the teachings of Christ, the more convinced I am that American Evangelicalism doesn’t really have any intention of listening to Christ or following his teachings. He wasn’t the right type of messiah. They are still looking for a Kingdom of political power where those who disagree with Christians will get their just desserts. They want Christ to come and kick some gay and atheist BUTT!

But that isn’t the view of the Kingdom that Christ presents to us. His is the “upside down” kingdom, where the first are last and the last first. Where the greatest isn’t the one with power and dominion, but the one who serves. Where how one is judged will depend not on whether one enforces God’s laws, but whether one does good unto the least of them.

This is the reason that at one point, Christ makes one of the most shocking statements of all time:

“Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

In the aftermath of my Cruz post, I had a discussion with a friend about whether one could be post-millennialist without being dominionist. I believe it is possible (although perhaps rare.) Many of the Quakers past and present would qualify. (Although I looked up Quaker eschatology, and it is far from simple or uniform…) I think the Quakers do, however, offer one vision of the Kingdom that is a refreshing alternative to Dominionism. After all, it was the Quakers who worked on the Underground Railroad, helping escaped slaves find freedom. Quiet service, doing good to the oppressed, loving without attempting to control.

It’s quite a contrast to the current state of Evangelicalism in American, isn’t it?

***

In the next part, I want to look at the specifically American manifestations of Dominionism:

Christian Nationalism
Religious Supremacy
Theonomy/Theocracy

These derive in significant part from Dominionist ideas, but they also draw in a false view of history and a romanticized view of ancient times. 

***

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In particular, I will not be accepting any Dominionist/Reconstructionist talking points or political endorsements.  

22 comments:

  1. Possibly a slight sidestep, but I'm reading a book I picked up for cheap at a library sale--a history of American family structure called "Domestic Revolutions" by Mintz and Kellogg. I'm only up to Puritan times, but I found it fascinating to read:

    1. The Puritans were explicitly trying to set up a more stable family structure than existed in England at the time, based around patriarchy and sexual purity (all the familiar stuff), in order to have a Godly Community (TM). As you have pointed out, the Godly Community was all about power and control, and the Puritans weren't particularly interested in hiding that. (Marriages contracted by parents. Wives becoming legally non-existent during marriage. Adult children obeying their parents on pain of economic disaster. Government intrusion into making sure everyone does the right kinds of devotions. Actual removal from the community of Catholics and other infidels. All of it.) Result: Almost everyone got married. At the beginning they managed to have only about 10% of brides pregnant at the wedding. Many children were born. They felt the need to "provide for the poor" that in practice actually meant "get more servants for the winter plowing and they can't leave because they're poor and will starve if I don't feed them".

    2. HOWEVER, this state of affairs lasted precisely as long as it took for fathers to lose economic power over their children (mostly because more land opened up for farming): about 40 years. In the space of about a generation, suddenly 40% of brides were pregnant at their wedding.
    40%.
    In PURITAN NEW ENGLAND. (Maybe they weren't teaching abstinence properly, what do you think? Also, put that in your pipes and smoke them, ya Cotton-Mather-Loving Jonathan-Edwards-Fan freakazoids.)

    Anyway, I found it interesting that, essentially, if we had been paying attention, we could have realized that Christian Patriarchy and Dominionism (TM) has already been tested for us in the most "advantageous" circumstances (they literally had all the guns and all the food and all the power to hang infidels) and found ineffective at creating a Godly Community (TM) even by the slim "everybody's a virgin at the altar" standard.

    I'll also note that in such a tight-wound society--you can't flout Dad because he still holds the deed to your farm and if he kicks you out of town you will probably *starve* or get killed in the woods--it's not surprising that hysteria was on a hair-trigger. Everyone knows about the Salem Witch Trials, but there's an icky tension in general when you read Puritan accounts. Just because they didn't always hang a lot of inoffensive old women and girls doesn't mean they didn't regularly gang up on the weakest people in society.

    It's almost like this ISN'T the way God wants us to conduct society and He lets us live with the consequences of our actions, or something.

    Honestly, I want the people who don't see a problem with Dominionism in America to answer whether they think they're going to do a better job of it than the Puritans did. And if so, why? Surely not because the Puritans didn't do it *hard* enough?

    Or is it just that, honestly, they're kind of fine with how the Puritans did things, because in their head they picture winding up as Cotton Mather and not as Sarah Good?

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    1. Outstanding points.

      I remember when my sister was in college (history major for a while) she came home and told us about the way that the "lower class" of the Puritan era actually had the kids attempt a pregnancy before marriage. Take that womb for a test drive before buying...
      A lot of things weren't exactly like we have misremembered them, it turns out.

      You also make the great point that I have shouted for years: Nobody who worships the past envisions themselves as anything less than upper middle class. That goes for the Middle Ages, for the Victorian Era, and for the 1950s. Things look a lot different on the other side.

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    2. Stay tuned for part 2, in which I talk about the way that the Puritan Founding Myth has become the dominant narrative of American History for Evangelicals, actual facts be damned.

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    3. Yeah, they ignore a lot of inconvenient facts about the Puritans. One of the biggest being, oh yeah, they would have HATED the Constitution and with a passion, and would have thought most of the Founding Fathers were losers (even the Christian ones).

      I might have to go look for that Domestic Revolutions book. To be fair, the Puritans were reacting against some legitimately awful social problems in England at the time, but anybody who thinks that what they set up over here was all super-godly and functioned perfectly is…deeply optimistic.

      Another fun fact: they made it so hard to join their churches in MA (basically, tell us your testimony in excruciating uber-detail so we can decide whether you're really saved or not - and they wouldn't even take communion with other Puritans from English churches) that they ended up having rewrite the requirements in the 1660s so their own children could get baptized. Still couldn't take communion, but at least get baptized. Which makes the Salem incident even more embarrassing, because several of the people who were hanged were fully communing church members, i.e. the church itself had previously decided they were saved based on said excruciatingly detailed testimony.

      Autodidact, you would like John Fea's book Was America Founded As a Christian Nation?.

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    4. It does sound interesting. Another one on my list on that topic is Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg. I've read some excerpts, and I think she did her homework.

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  2. Autodidact, thanks for this amazing post.

    I became aware of Rushdoony in the early 1970s through a fellow Christian college student, but I paid him no attention. Later, as a Christian bookseller, I was very aware of North and Barton. I disapproved of them, didn't promote them, and assumed their twisted extremism would fade away as no significant number of Christians would go for that. Was I ever wrong.

    I have never read Dominionism systematically, and I very much appreciate your pulling it together in a substantial way, along with its current political connections.

    I think one thing is clear: "The point of “dominion” is power and control. The ability to wield power and exert control over others." I can't believe it became so pervasive in conservative Christianity.

    Where does it demonstrate any of the teaching and example of Jesus? It does not. Meanwhile, the genuine Kingdom of God continues to grow invisibly.

    By the way, I do think one can be postmillennialist without being Dominionist. Consider the postmillennialist social gospel represented by Walter Rauschenbusch and others in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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    1. First of all, thanks for bringing to my attention another postmillennialist approach. Some fascinating things there, particularly his list of the institutions of the Kingdom of Evil (Religious bigotry, the combination of graft and political power, the corruption of justice, the mob spirit and mob action, militarism, and class contempt) which must have particularly hit home during his own age (the robber baron/gilded age) and still resonate in our own new gilded age.

      "Where does it demonstrate any of the teaching and example of Jesus? It does not. Meanwhile, the genuine Kingdom of God continues to grow invisibly." I very much agree - and I also believe that there will be a great deal of shock at who turned out to be building the Kingdom and who turned out to be trying to shut the door in the faces of others.

      It's always a pleasure to hear your thoughts, Tim.

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  3. I find it disconcerting that Science and Technology is not one of the Seven Mountains. Is it because Science and Technology deal with things which _cannot_ be controlled -- like the motion of comets or chemical reactions, or is it because Science and Technology require actually knowing something in detail before one can credibly talk about it?

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    1. I'm hoping to address the issue of Science and Technology in a future installment. (#3 probably) In general, I believe Evangelicalism has a deep fear and distrust toward science, and the reason is not a mystery, in my opinion.

      Science - at least since Darwin and Lyell (and others) blew apart the idea of a literal Genesis - has made a habit of discovering truths which cause theological problems. Rather than wrestle with the theological problems - and maybe decide that the theology needs to be changed to reflect reality - it is easier to simply deny the existence of scientific facts. I'll be talking about presuppositionalism in a future post. Basically it is the idea that only a person who already accepts certain theological conclusions can know truth, so one can dismiss any discoveries that contradict what you already believe to be theologically true, because those "discoveries" are simply Satan's lies.

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    2. Sounds good; looking forward to it.

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    3. It may be a while. I wrote the first two before I realized I needed a third, so I have to write that installment. For these ones, I write and re-write more than I do for my reviews - plus putting the links in takes time. :)

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  4. Wonderful post. An aspect I haven't seen mentioned in this post, though not central to the points your making, is the idea that you'll be punished for your neighbor's sin.

    That by allowing your neighbor to live/conduct sin you are in part responsible and thus will be made to suffer as a result. Huge scapegoat tool, but also a driving factor in the need to control the seven mountains you mentioned.

    If everyone is acting in a godly manner, then god will stop sending floods, disease, and pain to us. Which sounds pretty divorced from reality, but if you look up any tragic event of national note you'll find someone blaming some group labelled 'sinners'.

    Reinforcing that success/happiness is a reward for the pious, that poverty is for people who deserve to be poor.

    I feel this is important because it also serves a more insidious purpose, which is the simplification of tragedy. The perfect example being the 9/11 attacks. After they occurred Falwell surmised that god allowed this to happen due to moral decay. Listing things like feminism, homosexuality and abortionists.

    It's not because of the politics that created the terrorist organization, or the failure of security agencies, or the gaps in government oversight, or the lack of attention by the Bush administration to anti terrorism concerns. It's cause we're not godly enough.

    This is a major problem in my eyes because it removes understanding of the actual factors that create the event, making finding effective solutions impossible. It's such an effective tool because it gives a clear cause of the problem and clear answer to its future prevention. It can also never be disproved.

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    1. Outstanding points. The scapegoat syndrome is endemic to fundamentalist violent religion as well. If tragedy is the fault of the infidels, sooner or later, a "Final Solution" ends up presenting itself.

      In addition to Falwell, I would list Pat Robertson and John Piper as those who have blamed specific tragedies on specific sins. (Piper infamously blamed a particular tornado on tolerance of gay marriage.)

      I thoroughly agree that this leads to false "solutions" to problems, from poverty to terrorism.

      Also, isn't it amazing how feminism always gets listed? Clearly the evil in the world *must* be the fault of all those uppity women...

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  5. Hi, Tim. I haven't read this yet, but I'm going to read the series (or as much as is done so far) with a view to linking to it for my readers. My question today is this - do you have anything that specifically addresses the "godly seed" aspect of Dominionism and the Quiverfull Movement? I am working on a series on why we are not Quiverfull and when I started to investigate the "godly seed" aspect I realized that it is a much bigger issue than I thought. I believe it to be a foundation stone of the whole belief system. In fact, I am inclined to think that a lot of the bizarre and extreme teachings relating sex and marriage, etc. probably find their source in this. So, I thought if you had touched on this subject somewhere in your writings I'd like to see what you had to say, knowing your level of research and knowledge. Or perhaps you know someone else whose writing on the subject you would recommend. Thanks for any help you can give.

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    1. That could be a fascinating article. I would agree that the idea of "godly seed" is important in the Dominionist/Quiverfull worldview. Perhaps one of the most interesting bits I came across is the "200 Year Plan" that Doug Phillips and Geoff Botkin came up with, that combines militant fecundity (I wish I had thought up that phrase first...) with dominionist political goals.

      https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/12/03/doug-phillips-vision-forum-multi-generational-faithfulness-and-video-of-young-boy-explaining-the-importance-of-having-many-children-for-10-generations/

      That might be a good start.

      The other thing that I want to mention in this regard is that, while it isn't always apparent to outsiders, this idea of "godly seed" is driven by two factors. The first is the idea of the United States as the "new Israel," and the second is a deeply rooted white supremacy. These combine such that "godly seed" is in large part a euphemism for "white Christians need to have more babies lest the brown skinned people/Muslims (take your pick) out-reproduce them." There is definitely an opinion about who the "real Americans" are - every bit as much as who the "real Christians" are.

      That's one reason why I think that part of the drive behind the Courtship movement is to ensure that the kids don't marry outside of the tribe. Which means theology, class, and yes, race.

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    2. Thanks for your remarks. There's a lot of food for thought there. Some of this confirms what I was already thinking. It is interesting to consider how the "godly seed" ideology ties into so many of the facets of Christian Patriarchy. I hadn't thought of the courtship connection to that, but that makes sense.

      I don't remember when I first heard about the "200 Year Plan", but it is ridiculous. I really don't see how it can be played out realistically without imposing serious bondage on one's progeny. It's kind of the mother of all guilt trips, isn't it?

      Botkin (& co.) is a problem anyway. From what little research I've done, I found claims that he was part of the Shepherding Movement (considered a cult), but when things didn't work out in New Zealand, where he and his idol pastor had moved, he returned to the States and joined up with Doug Phillips. As far as I could learn he never renounced the cult he was involved with, just morphed into the "Biblical Patriarchy" grand high tooley-muck he is today, and was accepted with open arms (and wallets).

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  6. Hi Mary, Although I was a fundamentalist and then an Evangelical, I was out of that movement before the more extreme developments such as homeschooling, quiverfull, and Gothard's patriarchal umbrella of protection became widespread. So I am not familiar with these issues from personal experience.

    I did become aware of Rushdooney in the early 1970s, and I was also aware of the growth of homeschooling and of Gothard's growing influence. But I was not involved in any of that. My knowledge of those things come to me second-hand.

    I was not aware of the concept of the 'godly seed' until you mentioned it here, but I did a little checking around and found several references to it in No longer Quivering; a possibly good search on this is at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/?s=godly+seed.

    Your question has really raised my interest. I hope you are able to do the article, and I look forward to it.

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    1. Tim Chastain - Sorry for the confusion. The name of "The Autodidactic" who writes this blog is named Tim in real life, and I think of him by his real name. :-) My comment was addressed to him. I didn't mean to cause any confusion.

      I was homeschooled for the later part of my education, but my parents never followed Gothard or any of the other leaders of the "Christian Patriarchy" movement. They also were not interested in the quiverfull stuff. But, we knew and know people who are involved in these things. I have learned a lot at this blog, though, since this Tim writes from a viewpoint of having been on the inside and then having left.

      I will look up the link you suggested. I was actually hoping that Tim who writes this blog would write something on the "godly seed" since he has a better knowledge of the overall Dominionist and Patriarchal viewpoint than I do. Maybe he will get inspired. :-)

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    2. Definitely confusing to have too many Tims on one thread. :D Mary, Tim Chastain does have a blog of his own, one that has been helpful to me in my own journey. When I grow up, I hope to be as gracious as he is.

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  7. Mary, how funny is this! It did not occur to me that you were addressing someone else.

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