As the eyes of the American Christian population begin to finally turn toward the teachings known today as dominion theology so does the mainstream media. Due to the link of presidential candidate Rick Perry and his public prayer rally involving so many who espouse the dominion teaching, people are beginning to finally ask, “What is this teaching and why have I never heard of it before?”
While much attention is spent on their leaders and the multitude of sound and video clips provided via YouTube and other online video resources, perhaps a look at God’s usage of the word “dominion” is appropriate. Much of the confusion over man’s role in this world and how Christians are to interact with both believers and non-believers seems to stem from misunderstandings over how and why God uses the word dominion. Using a historical and grammatical method, the mission here is to find what level of dominion God has granted mankind and how God’s children are expected to use that dominion. While this will probably lead to more questions than answers, the study itself should help us better form an opinion regarding dominion theology.
God’s first usage of the word “dominion” is found very early in the Bible. In the first chapter of Genesis is where we find the word twice in the account of creation. Genesis 1:26-28 reads:
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
The word translated here into the English “dominion” is the Hebrew term “radah.” A verb, radah means to reign or to rule over. As a king would over his subjects in a monarchy, the word literally means that one is meant to serve the other. God has without a doubt granted man dominion over elements of the Earth.
Perhaps some of the specificity of what God has granted man dominion over has been forgotten. What has God given man dominion over though? God has granted dominion to man over fish of the sea, fowl of the air, cattle, all the earth, every thing that creepeth/moveth upon the earth. This list seems to include all plant and animal life that is known. This conclusion is not one that can be challenged.
Other than the heavenly bodies of the sun, moon, stars, and sky, there is nothing that God created in the 5 days prior to creating man which He did not grant man rule over. In other words, all that God created he has given man reign or dominion over.
There is one glaring absence from the list though. God does not grant man dominion over himself in Genesis 1. God uses the term “subdue.” Man is meant to subdue plant and animal life on earth and use it for God’s purposes of man living a life that will reflect praise to God. However, God does not provide man with the right to subdue man in Genesis 1.
An important aspect that cannot go unnoticed is that what God has given man dominion over are all things that He has created in His original, unmolested creation. As history has progressed, man has sought to take dominion over many things that man has created. A list including money, government, man-made borders, weapons, and palaces are all things that seem to call upon the lust of man. Yet, what God has given man dominion over is all that man needs to survive. All else are, as Solomon proclaimed, is vanity.
According to Genesis 1, does God grant man, believers or non-believers, Christian or non-Christian, righteous or unrighteous, dominion over any other man? The answer is no.