I was rather surprised by a reaction I received to my post Lance Wallnau’s Apocalyptic Vision of the Kingdom. Rod of Alexandria, who usually posts at Political Jesus, chose Joel Watts’ blog Unsettled Christianity for his post, addressed to me, Thanks, Peter! More Evidence Dominionists Reject Christus Victor.
In this post Rod looks at an issue which was not at all in focus in Lance Wallnau’s video or in my post about it, and jumps to an unjustified conclusion about Wallnau’s view of the Atonement. He then compounds his error by generalising this view to “Dominionists”, that extremely ill-defined group who, if Wallnau is to be included, must include anyone who accepts that some Christians should be involved in politics. I wrote more about this in comments on Rod’s post.
My main point here is rather different. It springs from what Rod wrote in his post and his own comments on it. In the post he expounds his own Christus Victor view of the Atonement. He writes that in this model
The Devil is defeated, he has no ground to stand on … Satan is defeated and is stuck here, with only the ability to lie. … Satan is in retreat—this is the message of hope of CV atonement; he cannot hide, he has been exposed.
I would totally agree, although I am not as committed to a specific model of the Atonement as Rod seems to be. And I am almost sure that Lance Wallnau would agree. Although I summarised part of his teaching as “Satan taking his last stand on earth”, I did not mean to suggest that Satan has firm ground on earth on which to take this stand.
But Rod claims that Wallnau’s “views of Satan … contradict the claims of Christus Victor”. When I objected he responded by linking, indirectly, to a YouTube video of Wallnau saying something like “Satan Hand Picks Our Government Leaders”:
Here are some of Wallnau’s actual words in this video (length 2:34):
Satan determines which ones he is going to get the most out of and promotes them to the top (1:10). … And the false prophets and counterfeit priesthood of Satan isn’t necessarily wearing clerical robes. They’re dressed in suits and they have Gucci briefcases, but they are his priests in many cases, because they were hand picked for that assignment at the top of the mind moulders, because he gives it to whom he wills (1:53).
“Right Wing Watch” who posted this seem to expect viewers to be shocked by it. But to me it looks as if Wallnau is hinting at much the same as the Occupy protesters, attributing the ills of our society to a few people “dressed in suits and they have Gucci briefcases”.
Rod seriously misunderstands Wallnau here:
Wallnau also believes Satan has the power to determine who is in power: … he totally is anti-everything Christus Victor, if not a dominionist. No CV affirming Christian believes the Devil has that sort of power.
But Wallnau says nothing about “power to determine” anything at all. Yes, he uses the word “determines”, but in the context he is clearly using it in the sense “decides, chooses”. He clarifies this later with “hand picked”. In other words, he is teaching that Satan chooses which of his followers, his “priests”, are fit for promotion to the top of one of the “seven mountains”, of which, we must remember, government is only one.
Rod clarifies his objection to this teaching of Wallnau by denying that Satan has “the power of election, to choose who is in control of the world”. But he accepts that Satan has “the ability to lie”, and this is the only power that the evil one needs to put his chosen people on the mountain tops – if his followers are in the majority, or even if they are a minority but the others keep out of politics or retreat into monasteries. This is because Satan, the great deceiver, is also the great persuader. He only needs to get a few key people behind him to persuade those who pull the strings of power in our world, or even a whole electorate, to choose his candidates for the highest offices. By the way, here I don’t want to imply that any specific office holders, or potential ones, are Satan’s candidates.
To support his claim that Satan’s power is limited, Rod quotes Hebrews 2:14, in an anonymous version which reads, in part,
so that through death [Jesus] might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.
This reads rather differently in NIV:
so that by his death [Jesus] might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.
Hebrews 2:14 (NIV)
The Greek verb katargeo, rendered “destroy” in Rod’s version, is probably better understood as “make powerless”, hence NIV’s “break the power”. But if it does mean “destroy”, it is clear from other Bible passages that this destruction was not already accomplished when Jesus died and rose again. The cross may have made Satan’s final annihilation inevitable, but it is apparently only at the very end that it will actually happen, when he is thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
Meanwhile, as the apostles specifically teach and as I commented on Rod’s post, Satan is alive and active in the world, in our current “church age” after the Resurrection and Pentecost:
Peter: Satan can fill apparent Christians’ hearts (Acts 5:3);
Paul: Satan can scheme and might outwit Christians (2 Corinthians 2:11);
Paul: Satan can block Christians’ way (1 Thessalonians 2:18);
Peter: The devil prowls around and might devour Christians (1 Peter 5:8);
John: The evil one controls the world (1 John 5:19).
Now Rod is correct that Satan has
a power to deceive and over the lives who believe his lies, but nothing more.
But he doesn’t need anything more to exercise his control over the world.
However, the situation is not quite as bleak as I have painted it, because we Christians are in the world. The apostle John writes to us that
the whole world is under the control of the evil one
1 John 5:19 (NIV)
but also that
the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 (NIV)
Indeed Satan has no power over us, because he can only tell lies and we know the truth. We need to recognise his lies, but we have no reason to be afraid of him. By the power of the Holy Spirit we can proclaim this truth, refute Satan’s lies, and expose his deception. But we can’t do this by hiding in holes in fear. Instead, like Jonathan and his armour bearer in 1 Samuel 14:1-23, we need to boldly climb the mountain, confront the enemy, and take back the world for God.
Is this “dominionism”? Maybe. But surely it is better than letting Satan rule the world through his chosen candidates.