Dominion and Postmillennialism

Dominion: God created man and told him to "exercise dominion over the earth" (Genesis 1:26-28). The Millennium is a time of maximum spiritual and material prosperity.
"Exercising dominion" is a mark of spiritual maturity which brings material prosperity. Men who refuse to exercise dominion are disobedient to God and live in poverty. "Postmillennialism" is the view that Christ will not return to consummate earthly human history until after "the millennium," a "golden age" of spiritual and material prosperity.
God promises that when we obey His commandments and exercise Godly dominion over the creation, God will bless us (Deuteronomy 28) Therefore "the millennium" cannot reach its zenith unless man exercises dominion over the earth with greater conformity to God's Commandment and greater efficiency in discharging this duty.
Man cannot exercise dominion while disobeying other commandments. The exercise of dominion is not legitimate if it is unloving, fraudulent, or adulterous, and such pseudo-dominion leads to spiritual darkness and material blight. When God created man He created him with a natural capacity for exercising dominion. It is against man's basic nature not to exercise dominion and not to be blessed by God (Deut 28:15-68). It is therefore against man's basic nature, and against God's creation purposes, for postmillennialism not to be true.
The successful exercise of dominion is thus one way of looking at obedience to all of God's law. The focus is on the practical science of living: dressing and tilling the garden, naming the animals, etc., in a loving, charitable, and faithful manner. Part of God's Law is His promise of blessings for obedience. God WILL bless obedience. This is His Promise. Greater obedience is a promise of the New Covenant. Therefore postmillennialism is a promise of the New Covenant, and non-Theonomic postmillennialism is an impossibility.
Find out more about Dominion. Find out more about postmillennialism.

Limitless Dominion

George Reisman, an atheist who doesn't like Christianity, writes in his superb book, Capitalism:

Many philosophers and religious thinkers have held that the production of wealth serves only a low order of needs of secondary importance and that concern with its production beyond the minimum necessities required for the sustenance of human life is evil, immoral, and sinful by virtue of elevating low material values to the place properly reserved only for the pursuit of noble spiritual values.

If these beliefs were correct, then exercising dominion would be a mark of perversity.

Jesus says the chosen are those who relieve material deprivation. His mention of "prison" is very significant. Read Luke 4:17-19 and Isaiah 61:1-2. Being enslaved, taken captive, or imprisoned is a major concern in the Bible, not just of individuals, but of entire nations. If those criticized by Prof. Reisman were correct, prison should be a great place to be, because only there can one truly be free of the temptations of bad ol' material wealth. In Matt. 25 (and the rest of the Bible), Christianity provides the spiritual foundation for the appreciation of material blessings and liberty and justice for all -- a phrase that should not be limited to trite schoolroom recitations; think "prison," "gulag," "concentration camp," and other systems of depriving people of material comforts and liberty. The rise of atheism in the 20th century has meant the rise of slavery, concentration camps, and mass poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Millions of people who call themselves Christians while ignoring millions of people in prison in the U.S. will soon be exposed as "goats."

Notice that in the parable of the Judgment of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus welcomes the sheep and casts out the goats based on whether they raised the material standard of living for the poor, providing food, drink, housing, clothing, healthcare, and the right of habeas corpus.

The Bible is replete with indications that material prosperity beyond that of the minimum amount of food, clothing, and shelter required for immediate sustenance is a promised Biblical ideal. Whether premillennial or amillennial, theologians agree that God promises more than bare sustenance. Most Christians believe there will be a time on earth when human beings enjoy material prosperity. Even amillennialists who believe in "the resurrection of the body," do not believe in the resurrection of a bare naked body into an barren shadowy realm devoid of objects of "creature comfort." They believe eternity will consist (for the justified) of great material comfort for every resurrected body. This means "millennial" conditions -- if not on earth, at least in heaven.

And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. and the street of the city was pure gold
Revelation 21:19-21

This means wealth.

When God created man, He gave man the dominion mandate, and then said all was "very good" (Genesis 1:26-31).

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Genesis 2:15

And the gold of that land is good:
Genesis 2:12

The reason why human beings were created was to re-create heaven on earth. Human beings are "hard-wired" to move from the Garden to The City of God.

Nobody  forced God to create the cosmos. God did not have to inhabit the planet with human beings. God is not dangling the City of God before man like a carrot. Our purpose in life is to obey God's Commandments and enjoy God's Blessings. By doing so we re-create heaven on earth. The creation of man with the nature and command to exercise dominion logically necessitates wealth in this life. God's most fundamental purpose for creating life will not be frustrated.

Some will say that the Fall of Man changed everything.

In reply, we must assert that the Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ changed everything back.

"But man still dies!" the amillennialist replies.

Individuals die, but each generation of human beings builds on the dominion skills of the previous generation. There can be no denying that progress has been made. Conditions today are more "millennial" than they were a millennium ago. We enjoy more wealth today than men enjoyed a millennium ago.

What keeps us from reaching the City of God?

It is not the nature of man. It is not God's Commandments. It is eschatology.

Most Christian today believe that God's purposes for man and the creation will not be accomplished in history.

Most Christians today resist dominion and progress.

They resist progress because they believe God's purposes for creating life on earth will not be fulfilled. They believe the human race is a failure. They believe Satan is more crafty and powerful than God. Life on earth ends with tragedy and failure. In the eyes of most Christians, God Himself -- the Second Person of the Trinity -- comes to earth twice, and is still unable to persuade or empower human beings to exercise dominion in a loving, honest, and faithful manner. The first Christmas was full of promise, but ends in failure. So Christ comes a second time, thousands of years later, bringing an army of resurrected saints with Him, takes a seat on a throne in Jerusalem, rules with a rod of iron, and still, it all ends in failure. Satan reigns for "a little season," encouraging masses of people to rebel against the personal, visible reign of Jesus Christ Himself. Seeing that He is going to lose the game, God takes His football and goes home.

The very popular Christian writer Dave Hunt has written:

In fact, dominion Ė taking dominion and setting up the kingdom of Christ Ė is an impossibility, even for God. The millennial reign of Christ, far from being the kingdom, is actually the final proof of the incorrigible nature of the human heart, because Christ Himself canít do it.[1]

Impossible even for God. The Creator's idea of creating man in His Own Image and telling man to exercise dominion over the earth was a mistake. Progress is not possible. Only regress. Earth is a failure.

Didn't God know when He created human beings that it would all turn out in failure? Why did He bother?

Or could it be that what Dave Hunt and millions of Americans think they know about the future ("eschatology") is not what God knows about the future? Could it be that human beings will ultimately succeed in their task of exercising dominion, creating the City of God, re-creating heaven on earth?

Rather than arguing about the details of eschatology, prophecy, and the book of Revelation, this article seeks to prove that God's command to exercise dominion requires us to believe that man must work for -- and eventually enjoy -- millennial conditions -- conditions of limitless wealth. The more we study and understand this command and God's creation purposes, the more we are led to conclude that God the Creator could not have created failure.

The Image of God and Limitless Wealth

Manís need and desire for wealth is limitless because he is created in the Image of God,

Author Name

Gary North

Newsletter Title

Biblical Economics Today


Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones

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Subject (Series)

Volume VII; No. 5

Year of Publication

1984 August/September

Because we are created in the Image of God, we know in our very being that we are not God, and are finite, not infinite. We know we are finite because we can sense the infinite, but we know in our hearts we cannot achieve it. The possession of this faculty both

The Image of God in man gives him the potential for a limitless range of knowledge and awareness and thus for a limitless range of action and experience. It is "limitless" because Man can always grow and learn more. He can never achieve omniscience, and thus can -- and needs to -- continue learning forever. Manís mind can grasp the existence both of subatomic particles and of galaxies, and of everything in between. When man exercises dominion and "names the animals," he observes all manner of patterns and similarities and differences, records these observations, systematizes them, and passes this science to the next generation, none of which the animals are capable of doing.

The creation is not a collection of "brute facts." Every atom in the universe is what it is and does what it does by virtue of the Plan of God. Every molecule has a role to play in God's cosmic drama. God is both the Screenwriter and the Director. Although the creation is finite, God's purpose for each atom in this finite universe is infinite, and so man's growing understanding of the universe as a function of God's Predestinating Decree is never-ending. We can never stop gaining an understanding of God's plan for the Creation.

Thus, the potential is created for man to act over a range extending from the subatomic level to the remotest reaches of outer space, a nearly limitless task, and at the same time to experience all that his mind enables him to discern and enjoy in the totality of the universe in a growing understanding of God's will for the creation. The Catechism says man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. This means man has a limitless need for Godly dominion over God's creation.

Man has created material goodsówealthóas the instruments of dominion. Wealth is the physical means both of acting in the world (for example, automobiles and airplanes, tools and machines of all kinds) and of enjoying God through the experiences of which man is capable (for exampleó in addition to many of the goods in the preceding categoryócathedrals, works of art and sculpture, landscaped grounds and gardens, beautiful homes and furniture). They are the instrumentalities of manís action and objects of his contemplation. The potential of a limitless range of action and experience implies a limitless need for wealth as the means of achieving this potential. Man needs wealth without limit if he is to fulfill his limitless potential as the "vicegerent" of God's Creation.

Because man is created in the Image of God, and is thus able to abstract, form concepts, and think conceptually, his mind is able to grasp connections between his material well-being and the physical state of the world, connections spanning generations and continents. Jesus said to feed the hungry. How does Dominion Man respond? Christ's command implies a practically limitless need and desire for wealth: in the form of canning and freezing facilities, a modern transportation and communications system, a farm-equipment industry, and everything that is necessary to the existence of these things, such as the steel, oil, and coal industries, the transportation and communications equipment industries, and so on. All such wealth is necessary to an adequate quantity and sufficient variety of food to meet the nutritional needs of six billion human beings.

Likewise, manís need for health further implies a need not only for medicines, hospitals, and all manner of diagnostic and therapeutic equipment and everything necessary to their existence, but extends even to such seemingly unrelated things as automobiles and space travel: the former made possible the ability of people to live in the fresh air of the suburbs and also the modern ambulance; the latter holds out the possibility of such things as recuperation from heart disease in an environment of reduced gravity.

God's Image-Bearer has the mandate to use wealth to enhance the exercise of the capacities he shares in common with lesser species, generation after generation. Evolutionists love to point out the similarities between man and the animals. Yet for every similarity there are thousands of extraordinary differences. For example, man shares with animals the capacity for locomotion. Animals can do no better than rely on their unaided legs. But a human created in the Image of God domesticates the horse, the elephant, and the camel. He produces shoes and builds roads, rafts, and sailing vessels. He goes further and invents the railroad, the steamship, and the automobile; and then the airplane and the rocketship. He glorifies God throughout the creation, and takes the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Similarly, man shares with the animals the capacity to see and hear. Animals can do no more than rely on their unaided eyes and ears, but man produces telescopes, microscopes, and stethoscopes; television sets and radios; eyeglasses and hearing aids; X-ray machines and computers; motion pictures and VCRs; and phonographs, compact-disc players, and tape recorders.

As noted, the fact that man is created in the Image of God also gives him a wider range of capacities than is possessed by any of the lesser species. Because man is created in the Image of God, he is able to pursue such activities as music, art, science, and athletics. He is able to form relationships with others which are maintained even though the parties may be separated by great distances and for long intervals of time. It is the nature of manís brain that enables him to integrate separate sounds into harmonies and melodies, to grasp representations and thus the meaning of a painting, to pursue science, to follow the system of rules of a game of sport, and to maintain an awareness of others from whom he is separated by time and distance. These are feats of which an animalís brain is incapable. In the pursuit of all of these additional activities made possible by man's creation in the Image of God, wealth either is absolutely indispensable or, at a minimum, enormously contributes to the performance and enjoyment of dominion.

Wealth contributes to music when it takes the form of musical instruments, music books and scores, concert halls and conservatories, radios, phonographs, and tape recorders. If music were deprived of the existence of these forms of wealth, the activity would be reduced to the unaided, untrained, and largely unheard singing of the human voice. It could be heard only by an elite few. In the absence of wealth in the form of brushes, paints, and canvases, of museums, schools, and books of art, art would be reduced to primitive drawings on the walls of caves. In the absence of wealth in the form of scientific equipment, laboratories, universities, and libraries, science could not be pursued. In the absence of wealth in the form of playing fields, athletic equipment, stadiums, and radio and television sets, athletic events and the enjoyment derived from them would suffer a radical decline. In the absence of wealth in the form of pens and paper, post offices, telephones, automobiles, railroads, ships, and planes, friendships and other human relationships could not be maintained over long distances.

On the basis of these observations, it is obvious that the ancient prejudice that manís desire for wealth serves his "lower" needs is absurd. Wealth is the material means of carrying on virtually every human activity and of serving virtually all of manís needs. Wealth is manís means of exercising dominion under God.

Every Christian I've ever asked is thankful for these forms of wealth, and rightly so. Every Christian I've ever met is created by God and by nature needs dominion and has a limitless desire for wealth.

Even the wealth that does serve manís "lower" needs, such as, presumably, his needs for nutrition and elimination, also reflects man's nature as a being created in the Image of God, in ways beyond those already described. There are numerous commands in Scripture regarding the preparation and consumption of food. Even when man serves his "lower" needs, he does not do so in the manner of an animal, indifferent to his surroundings, but as one who exercises dominion over the earth in the presence of God. Dominion Man desires such things as tables and chairs (or aesthetically attractive and comfortable pillows on which to recline), table linen, china, silverware, and so on. He is also highly sensitive to the preparation of his food and to the combinations in which it is served.

In Deuteronomy we read:

{13} And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: {14} For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
(Deuteronomy 23:13-14)

Most Christians don't study this passage and its implications, but they show "the work of the law written in their hearts" (Romans 2:15) in their willingness to drive to the next gas station to find a clean restroom. When man eliminates, he desires the existence of such things as indoor plumbing and privacy. He squeezes the Charmin. In such activities, the nature of manís consciousness requires the incorporation of psychological and aesthetic elements into the satisfaction of what in animals are merely physical needs. For man, at least in his waking hours, there is probably no such thing as a purely physical need. Manís physical needs are intimately connected with his psychology as God's Image-bearer, and every actóeven routine "physical" actsóbecome "worshipful." Even in the mundane "lower" needs, man is aware of such things as patterns and harmonies and dissonances in shapes, sounds, and colors, and possessing the need to organize his activities and control the functions of his body.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
(Ephesians 5:20)

Let all things be done decently and in order.
(1 Corinthians 14:40)

But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy Name be joyful in Thee.
(Psalm 5:11)

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
(Colossians 3:17)

showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
(Titus 2:10)

The word "adorn" comes from the Greek word from which "cosmetics" is derived. God did not place man in a barren desert, but in a Garden ready to be adorned. We experience joy, peace, and other emotions not just because of our salvation, but when we experience a well-adorned Garden, a cosmetic cosmos. In everything he does, man can be aware of his own emotional responses and can distinguish between aesthetic elements which enable him to have a more enjoyable or a less enjoyable emotional response. Garden-Joy and praise to God go together.

The original Garden had the following characteristics.

The Life of Man was characterized by the following:

None of this is "spartan" or minimalist. There is nothing holy about barrenness, nothing sinful about beauty. Thus, the aesthetic element enters into the satisfaction of virtually all of manís needs. It leads him to desire not just clothing and shelter, but clothing and shelter with style and beauty. It leads him to desire not just "transportation," but automobiles with chrome trim and whitewall tires. Matters of design and appearance feature prominently in all consumersí goods where human beings are free to choose.

Closely related to manís need for aesthetic satisfaction is his need for novelty and variety. This need also emanates from his being created in the Image of a very creative God. Nobody can study the colors of flowers, bugs, and birds without being struck with the wild variety of God's Creation.

Imagine a child finger-painting. Picture the joy of sensual pleasure: paint on the fingers and wild colors mixed on the paper. The child thinks, "I wonder what would happen if I did this?" and a new shade of purple is born from the blue and the red. If this child is created in the Image of God, then God must also have enjoyed the "sensual" pleasure of creating a bright red cardinal, a neon tropical fish, or an electric firefly.

Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. {20} The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.
(Isaiah 43:19-20)

Man instinctively seeks to exercise dominion over a broader variety of the creation, and the experience of variety over time is part of the idea of growth and progress which postmillennialism and dominion imply. The lower animals do not become bored with the repetition of the same routine. Man does. The nature of manís consciousness as God's Image-Bearer enables him to appreciate differences of a kind of which animals show no apparent awareness, and seems to require that he periodically experience such differences. Thus, whereas animals are content to eat the same food day in and day out, man requires a variety of food. Man experiences a sense of intellectual refreshment when he breaks his routine and takes a vacation or a weekend off. He also experiences a sense of intellectual refreshment in the introduction and possession of new goods, and with the coming of style changes.

Thus, the appearance of almost every new "gadget" is an occasion for a kind of excitement: it is a thrill for a dominion-oriented being to see progress as such new products appear (each in its day) as automobiles, airplanes, refrigerators, radios, television sets, pocket calculators, computers, and so on. The purchase of such goods is almost always an occasion for special pleasure, because it provides a small taste of dominion in something new and valuable. Even the replacement purchases of such goods are usually a source of pleasure, because further improvements have usually been made in them, and because of style changes. Changes in style, whether in automobiles, clothing, or furniture, are a source of intellectual refreshment and pleasure, because they remind us of the creative variety of God.

But man's curiosity and desire for novelty, experimentation, and sense of  "what would happen if" stands in the service of his neighbor under the dominion mandate. The principle is very similar to that of the pursuit of scientific knowledge, where the motive is curiosity and the effect is all manner of practical applications that could not have been foreseen in advance. In just this way people originally desired automobiles not as a practical means of transportation, but as an object of amusement. Yet this desire led to the growth of the automobile industry and to the transformation of the economic system. The lives of billions have been enhanced. A similar course of development occurred in the case of electric light and power, and telephones and television sets, and now seems to be under way in the case of home and personal computers.

Even if no practical applications ever result directly from the finger-painting of inventors and capitalists, their being desired produces practical results. For example, a great industrialistís motive in earning additional millions on top of those he already has may be merely to add to his collection of fine paintings and statues. But in pursuing this motive, the industrialist is led to introduce products and methods of production that enable the average person to obtain such things as more and better food, clothing, and transportation.

Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them. {10} Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof.
(Isaiah 42:9-10)

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.
(Revelation 21:5)

Manís life gains incalculably from the fact that his activities are not limited to the "practical," but are undertaken largely for the sheer pleasure of experiencing the new and different and the corresponding expansion of his own powers required to accomplish it. For this leads him to do things that have practical results which would otherwise be impossible for him to obtain. In effect, the urge to dominion serves manís life in being free to serve itself. Although manís life may not need every particular object of his desire for novelty and variety, it very much does need the existence of his desire for novelty and variety.

On the basis of the existence of a God-ordained limitless need for wealth, there is no limit to manís desire for wealth. The occasional cases that exist of individuals in whom the desire for additional wealth is totally repressed are comparable in their frequency and significance to the cases of individuals in whom sexual desire is totally repressed. These cases are rare indeed. Even medieval monks, for example, thoroughly committed to the doctrine of asceticism, were torn by the temptation for material things. The truth lies with Adam Smith, who observed that "the desire of food is limited in every man by the narrow capacity of the human stomach; but the desire of the conveniences and ornaments of building, dress, equipage, and household furniture seems to have no limit or certain boundary."[2]

To translate Smithís observation into contemporary terms, we can observe as the overwhelming norm such things as that the man who has no automobile would like to be able to afford one. The man who has an automobile would like to be able to afford a newer, better one. The man who has several new automobiles of the highest quality would like to be able to afford a yacht or a plane. If he is rich enough to afford both a yacht and a plane, then he would like to be able to afford a yacht on which the plane can land, and so on. Similarly, the man who has a small house or apartment would like to be able to afford a larger one. If he has a large house or apartment, then he would like a more luxurious oneóperhaps with a swimming pool or tennis court, or both; and with finely landscaped grounds. And he would probably like to have more than one house or apartmentóperhaps a hunting lodge in Maine, a winter home in Palm Beach, an apartment in Paris, or, indeed, all three of them. The more one has, the more one wants.

To be sure, covetousness, greed and lust are crouching in the shadows, waiting to pounce. We must guard against making these things our idols.

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
(Colossians 3:5)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. {7} For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. {8} And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. {9} But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. {10} For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. {11} But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
(1 Timothy 6:6-11)

Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you."
(Hebrews 13:5)

The key is gratitude:

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: {5} For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
(1 Timothy 4:4-5)

Another key is service: we are to serve God and our neighbor.

We must sanctify the urge to dominion and the quest for limitless wealth by harnessing them to the Kingdom of God and the King's purposes.

These desires, when pursued in the presence of God, done to the glory of God, move the creation relentlessly toward The City of God.

Continue to part 2

* This entire essay has been profusely plagiarized from Chapter 2, section 3, of Reisman's book. Every Christian should buy this book and study it. Nobody who has graduated from college without reading this book has an adequate education. Order here.

[1] Dave Hunt, "Dominion and the Cross: Tape 2 of Dominion: The Word and New World Order (Ontario, Canada: Omega-Letter, 1987). See also Dave Hunt, Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity (Eugene, OR Harvest House, 1987), p. 250

[2] Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (London, 1776), bk. 1, chap. 11, pt. 2; reprint of Cannan ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2 vols. in 1, 1976), 1:183.