Heaven on Earth?: The Social b Political Agendas of Dominion Theology, by Bruce Barron. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992. 238 pages, $12.99 (paper). [Reviewed by the Editor.]

Pat Robertson’s try for the United States presidency in 1988 made many aware of a determination in American evangelicalism to Christianize this nation. In this fittingly titled book, the author examines several distinct movements that have this goal. In at least one instance, the purpose is to Christianize the entire world.

These movements are “Christian Reconstruction,” associated with R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, and others; the “Kingdom Now” movement of charismatic Earl Paulk; and the movement to return America to its supposedly Christian foundations centered in Pat Robertson’s Regent University.

That which unites these otherwise dissimilar men and movements is their belief that God wills the Christianizing of the United States. By this is meant that the nation will be governed by the law of God. The key word is “dominion.” Christians must and will exercise earthly power that controls the nation, its entire life, and all its citizens. Christian Reconstruction expects the Christianizing of all the nations. The church will have dominion over the whole world prior to the coming of Christ.

Barron has researched his subject well. He is helpful in pointing out the theological principles of each of the groups, as well as their practical tactics for achieving dominion.

All dominion theology bases itself on the creation mandate of Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion . . . .” Christian Reconstruction adds the argument from its postmillennialism. The charismatics get revelations from the Holy Spirit about the mission to make America Christian. Herb Titus at Regent is convinced that the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were written to be Christian documents. The effort to Christianize the United States, therefore, has legal basis in the foundation of the nation and is only a returning of the country to what it was originally.

Intriguing is the alliance between the free-willist, charismatic Paulk and his crowd and the Calvinistic Christian reconstructionists. A leading charismatic hosted a seminar in 1984

at which leading Reconstructionists spoke. An estimated one thousand charismatic pastors attended and responded positively, furthering North’s hope that the charismatics would expand their faith in God’s miracle-working power to include the healing of society as well as of individuals…. The interactions expanded as Peacocke arranged conferences in 1986 and 1987 and channeled members of both groups into his Anatole Fellowship and the CPPC. North, DeMar, and Joe Morecraft addressed conferences held by Paulk’s church and by Maranatha Ministries… (p. 94).

Reconstructionist Joe Morecraft looks forward to a marriage between charismatic Paulk’s Kingdom Now and Christian Reconstruction (pp. 92, 93). In the interests of the alliance, reconstruction& Gary North now concedes the basic charismatic contention that genuine charismatic gifts are still being worked by the Spirit in the church (p. 95).

As it has always done, the dream of an earthly kingdom of God makes strange bedfellows. Earl Paulk of Kingdom Now, in addition to embracing all the foolishness of the charismatic movement and all the heresies of dispensationalism, teaches the restoration of New Testament apostles (as part of his “five-fold ministry”). He also teaches that people are “little gods.”

The book notes the opposition to dominion theology in evangelical circles on the part of the pluralists. These people, including Os Guinness and James Skillen, argue for the freedom of all religions. Their view was expressed in the Williamsburg Charter of 1988.

Correctly, Barron observes that the fundamental issue in all of this is the relationship of evangelical Christians to secular society. Some evangelicals are appealing to Abraham Kuyper’s theory of common grace to show the way.

Has anyone in evangelicalism ever noticed the biblical doctrine of the antithesis?

Saying Yes and Saying No: On Rendering to God and Caesar; by Robert McAfee Brown, The Westminster Press, 1986. 143 pp., $8.99 (paper). [Reviewed by Prof. Herman Hanko.]

When I first picked up this book I was attracted to the subtitle: “On Rendering to God and Caesar,” and I hoped that, though Robert McAfee Brown was a well-known liberal theologian, he might have some useful things to say about the relation between church and state. The book had nothing to do with this question, and was, from every point of view, a disappointment.

The problem which Brown tackles in the book is that we want to render to Caesar what is God’s, and Caesar always tries to be God. Caesar is synonymous with gas chambers, apartheid, neutron bombs, Reagan economics, the Moral Majority, antifeminists, the manufacture of napalm, buying stocks in Honeywell, discrimination against any minority including gays and lesbians. To all this we must say, No; for only in saying “No” to Caesar are we able to say “Yes” to God.

So, to say “Yes” to God means that we are supporters of flag burners, feminists, Sandanistas in Nicaragua, those who provide sanctuary in their churches for illegal aliens, those who engage in civil disobedience, and those who support every single cause invented by the fuzzy-thinking liberals in our land and abroad who are intent on pushing their own anti-biblical agenda.

The book is packed with heresy. Brown explains Scripture to fit his own assumptions and contemptuously waves aside any Scripture which contradicts his viewpoint – as, e.g., the imprecatory Psalms. Abraham Joshua Heschel (noted Jewish liberal) is a prophet on a par with Isaiah. Brown freely uses such expressions as: “God takes form within us” (47), “God needs us,” “God has placed us in the midst of an unfinished creation and given us the task of helping bring it to fulfillment” (49).

The book made for fascinating reading, if for no other reason than that one gets a clear and frightening look into what liberal theologians are doing in our country today.

Warnings to the Churches, by J.C. Ryle. Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1967; reprint 1992. 171 pp, $4.95 (paper). [Reviewed by the Editor.]

The eight sermons and articles that make up the book have this in common that they are warnings against evils that always threaten the true church. Although John Charles Ryle, bishop of Liverpool (d. 1900), addressed these warnings originally to his beloved church of England, they are applicable to the church in every age. The chapter headings are: “The True Church”; “‘Not Corrupting the Word”‘; “‘Give Thyself Wholly to Them”‘ (a charge to preachers); “Pharisees and Sadducees”; “Divers and Strange Doctrines”; “The Fallibility of Ministers”; “Apostolic Fears”; and “Idolatry.”

The urgency of these warnings for the church in our day appears in Ryle’s condemnation of the notion that false doctrine should be tolerated in the church for the sake of peace.

I believe this is all wrong. We have no right to expect anything but the pure Gospel of Christ, unmixed and unadulterated, – the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles, – to do good to the souls of men. I believe that to maintain this pure truth in the Church men should be ready to make any sacrifice, to hazard peace, to risk dissension, and run the chance of division. They should no more tolerate false doctrine than they would tolerate sin (p. 105).

Peculiar emphasis is lent to these warnings by the fact that the Church of England, disregarding them, is now perilously close to becoming a false church.

Ryle, Calvinistic in his theology, has a lively style and practical concerns. The book is profitable reading.