THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS  



Christian Dominionism and John 14:12


By Dr. Christopher Plumberg







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The kingdom of God in fact entails many "real world" implications (although I hesitate to use the term "real" in this context, since there is nothing less real about the spiritual realm), such as victory over sin and temptation, the ability to walk in holiness and be filled with the Spirit, and sometimes even manifestation of a miraculous provision of healing, wisdom, or some other blessing from the Lord. The salvation and sanctification of lost souls is certainly the overwhelming focus of the New Testament, but this doesn't preclude God's miraculous intervention on behalf of His church as He pleases. The kingdom of God is also manifested as the Christian/scriptural worldview is brought to bear by the church on every aspect of fallen humanity; because the Christian worldview is a total picture of reality, it influences every aspect of God's creation. This means there is a Biblically distinctive way of looking at things like government, philosophy, physics, music, art, craftsmanship, and so much more.
Christians are to bring the Kingdom of God through the Great Commission, not be taking over the world. tweet
So, in short, the kingdom of God is not limited to the spiritual realm or only the saving of souls. On the other hand, although the Great Commission is of course not referenced in John 14:12, there are good reasons to think Jesus had something more like this in mind than miracles when He said that we would do greater works than Him. For one, it is hard to imagine superseding the miracles that Jesus did, which included reading the mind of the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4), raising Lazarus from the dead (cf. John 11), miraculously feeding of thousands on multiple occasions (e.g., Mark 6:33-44), and innumerable healings, just to name a few. Moreover, Scripture itself tells us that not every believer will have the gift of miracles or healings (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:28-31), but John 14:12 is clearly directed toward all believers. So miracles almost certainly cannot be what Jesus has in mind here.

Although the text itself gives us few clues about exactly what Jesus has in mind, we can be sure that it is something which applies to all believers, and it is reasonable to infer that this may be summed up in what we now know as the Great Commission, described in Matthew 28. This is greater than the works which Jesus did, for several reasons. First, Jesus' earthly miracles, as I pointed out before, only resolved earthly, human problems of a temporal nature, whereas the fulfillment of the Great Commission resolves the problem of sin, which has eternal consequences. Second, Jesus' earthly ministry was limited to a particular time in history and a particular geographical region, while the church and its expansion are unlimited in extent and effect. This enables the community of believers, and even individual believers within that community, to accomplish works with a greater impact than Jesus' own earthly works. This isn't the only way of understanding John 14:12, but I think this is the most plausible option.

In summary, the Biblical texts sometimes cited in support of Biblical dominionism, upon examination, really do not require Christians to pursue public office, even though this is still certainly permissible. Rather, great care must be taken that the quest for political power does not attempt to supplant the work of the Holy Spirit through the Church. Political influence will always provide at best a temporary, external solution to a fundamental, internal problem of the human heart which can only be solved by Christ.



Images Credits
Gustavo_Belemmi; untitled; Creative Commons
GDJ; untitled; Creative Commons TagsBiblical-Truth  | Controversial-Issues  | False-Teaching  | God-Father



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Published 12-1916