Christian Converser

Heresy Is Key Feature Of Credulous US White Evangelicalism [1]

If you have tracked the four years since the 2016 US presidential election and the re-election campaign this year, you’ll be well aware of the controversy that has surrounded the 45th president and the division created in Evangelical communities worldwide over whether to support him or not. Polling has showed majority support for the 45th president from within the US white evangelical community, but much lower support from US black evangelical church membership. Many evangelicals, particularly those residing outside the US, have questioned the church’s backing for the president in light of well publicised moral failings and support for racist groups and campaigns. However, the 45th president continued to enjoy a strong following in church circles across the United States for all of his first term and the fervour has so far failed to abate even when his loss of the 2020 election has become increasingly apparent.

The problem for evangelicalism in the US is that from outside the US, the adulation for the 45th president appears to be unprecedented in US politics for decades and is marked by a great deal of theological controversy. That said, US evangelicalism frequently courts such controversy as seen, for example, in the previous posts in this blog about the prevalence of dispensationalist belief within the American church. Unsurprisingly, the furore surrounding the office of the 45th president is largely founded on the same or similar theological credulousness as that which has pervaded much of the US evangelical church community for generations. Dispensationalism is a key aspect of this as seen in the previous series of posts in this blog about the heretical belief system. Most of the support for the 45th president hinges on the fact that he alone has been relatively pliant in implementing the most strongly held beliefs of his conservative evangelical base. A great deal of these beliefs come from another heretical theology called Dominionism.

Dominionism is essentially a companion to dispensationalism, both drawing on the same basic premise of a dramatic set of events revolving around the supposedly imminent second coming of Jesus Christ. However, “end times” beliefs are only a secondary aspect of dominionism, with the core aspect of it essentially being a political ideology that seeks a theocratic form of government in the US. The history of dominionism is actually quite recent, dating to a large extent from the 1970s in its own right, but is often compared with the founding principles of the United States on religious libertarian lines, and draws inspiration from efforts over the past 150 years to amend the US Constitution to define North America as a Christian nation, based on the contention of that being the original intention of the foundation of the USA. Whilst this is commonly seen as an evangelical trend, it is more properly labelled Christian Nationalism. Proponents of dominionism vary widely in their beliefs of how it should be applied to a theocratic nation, for example some are inclined towards the literal application of the Mosaic law such as advocating the death penalty for all of the transgressions identified therein.

A key branch of dominionism is called “Kingdom Now” theology and it is also strongly connected with the “New Apostolic Reformation”, the name “Seven Mountains Mandate” is also used. The idea in these particular beliefs and theologies is that Christians should actively work to take over control of institutions in society so as to christianise it. NAR/7-M was first constituted in the mid 1990s and prominent advocates of its doctrines include Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, Rick Joyner and Kenneth Copeland. “Seven Mountains Mandate” often advocate typical theocratic beliefs such as that the church is a force in its own right and should not be impeded by government and that the church can do a better job of social justice than the government. These beliefs in general are fairly predominant in the US in Christian views of politics overall.

(To be continued in Part 2)

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