After the insurrection at the Capitol on 6 January (the celebration of the Epiphany will never be the same), I started to wonder and learn about several of the groups and ideologies which took part in the attack. This is not a new thing for me. As a student of German and Jewish history, I have always had an academic interest in extremism and extremists, what radicalizes them, and how to put an end to it. One of ideologies that was on display that terrible day was “dominionism” or “dominion theology.”
Dominionism is a Christian nationalist movement that seeks to impose a typically conservative Christian understanding of the Bible’s legal codes on civil life through the laws and constitutional mechanisms available. Most dominionists also believe that Christianity should be supreme over all other religions, or even that their particular type of Christianity must be supreme over all other types of the religion. Lastly, a dominionist outlook believes that the US has always been and will always be a Christian Nation and thus reject the Enlightenment principles behind the US Constitution. It should also come as no surprise that a vast majority of dominionist ideas are bound very tightly to white supremacist and white nationalist ideas.
Of course, like all movements, there are harder and softer forms of this “-ism” and there are go-along-to-get-along types as well as hardcore supporters, but it seems to me that there is no room for nationalism of any kind in the Kingdom of God. There is no room for this statist propaganda in a religion founded by people who were hunted down and murdered by the state. In short, this domionism is antithetical to Jesus and his passion for which he lived and died. There is no room for a soft or hard form of dominionism in the Church.
As I reflect on that awful day, it was impossible to miss all the flags with crosses or “Jesus” splashed across them. I even saw the “Christian Flag,” and I was, and as I write this am, stopped again in my tracks. How many times had I seen that Christian flag, or even the US flag, in Churches of all denominations? How is any flag appropriate in the Sanctuary of the God of all Creation? How often had I heard stories from the older generation of the “Pledge to the Christian Flag” following on the heals of “Pledge to the (American) Flag”? How much of the white, mainstream Church in the US has swallowed hook, line, and sinker the lie of dominionism in some form?
The answer is too much. Any amount of bowing the “pharaohs”, “Caesars”, and idols of this world is too much and must be done away with. When the Paul, our earliest Christian writer, says “Jesus is Lord”, and when we confess the same, we are saying that no power in this world is lord; no power, state, ideology, -ism, or person in this world carries the sovereignty of God. Jesus is the only one who has been entrusted to rule. Jesus is Lord is a statement that should disallow, disempower, and disrupt all the white nationalist, Christian supremacist, or other load of nonsense one can think of. The American Empire should tremble at the words “Jesus is Lord,” instead of embracing them as we have seen all to often.
It is past time for everyone who bears the name of Christ, but particularly white Christians, to put away all kinds of nationalist nonsense. God did not gift us with the “spirit of adoption” only to “fall back into the bondage” to some hokey ideology that we are better than someone else because we happen to be born on this tract of (stolen) land or live under this or that government. No. God has gifted humankind with the divine image to be freed from such foolishness. Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead to deny those powers any authority on earth and God gave that authority to him.
The writer of the letter to the Ephesians says “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Eph 4.14)” It is time for the Church to stop being blown about by the trickery nationalism. It’s past time for us to give up the charade of dominionism in all its forms. It’s time for us to let it go. Jesus is Lord.