The Guardian, the UK’s top left-leaning newspaper, has an excellent article today Could this be the church to calm our secularist outrage?, written by the sceptical agnostic (his words) John Harris, and an accompanying video. The article and the video feature Frontline Church in Liverpool, 15 miles from my home, and its project among prostitutes in the area: not open evangelism but “a weekly operation in which a handful of volunteers take food, tea and condoms to the city’s sex workers.” The agnostic reporter is clearly impressed, and muses on the response to this, or lack of it, from militant secularists.
What the church is doing is impressive. But I want to look more at what the church is saying – at least at the words of its pastor Nic Harding, who is seen preaching in the video. In fact he writes about his struggle preparing this sermon in a post on his own blog. Following this in the video, John Harris interviews him.
Here is the video, followed by a partial transcript:
(04:09) Harding (preaching): Our calling is out there … Social justice, education, health care, politics, government: these are all areas that God says “Who is willing to claim that mountain?” … How can we make a difference? How can we challenge the prevailing attitudes of money being the bottom line for everything? How can we add value to what we do? How can we touch the lives of people, even though we are dealing with products or commodities or services? …
(04:56) Harris: If the people here took over all those mountains and ran the show, what would society look like? …
(08:39) Harris: You see I think about these things politically, about the ideal way the society should go. I think in terms of it being more equal, less individualistic. You know, the structures of society should change. Are we talking about the same thing?
Harding: I think we probably are. But we probably are approaching it from a different starting point. Because politics tends to look at things from a top down model. It tends to see … You start to change society by changing how you run society from the top, from political systems, whether it be capitalism or socialism, whatever it might be. Whereas Christianity starts at grass roots. It starts with individuals’ lives changing. It starts with families, broken families coming together and reconciling. It starts with children being raised by parents who care about what happens to them. It starts with parent governors in schools making a difference in their local school. It starts with people who go into work with a different attitude and mindset. It’s a bottom up thing.
Harris: But you know where you’re going? Because if you ask me I will tell you. I would like a society where the rich are less rich and the poor are less poor. How would you feel about that?
Harding: I think a society where people are generous with what they have got would be fantastic, where people are willing to share their goods, their possessions, their time, their energy – not in an enforced way, because I think once you enforce it you take the whole spirit out of it, but on a completely free will basis, because people’s hearts have been changed.
In the sermon extract, Harding seems to be alluding to the Seven Mountains Mandate popularised by Lance Wallnau among others, which encourages Christians to seek
to gain influence over the “mountains” of government, church, education, family, media, arts, and business.
Now according to Joel Watts these seven mountains are the same as the ones in Revelation 17:9, over which the Beast reigns. I’m sure this point has not escaped Wallnau and friends. Joel writes:
Stay with me for a minute –
- Wallnau identified seven mountains and one to rule over them.
- John writes of seven mountains/hills with one to rule over them.
Anyone? Anyone at all see anything wrong with this whatsoever?
No, Joel, nothing wrong. Wallnau and John agree that the enemy temporarily rules over the seven mountains. Wallnau teaches that Christians should bring them under the rule of Jesus, the kingdom of God. John also teaches, in verse 14 of the same chapter, how Jesus and his armies will defeat the enemy and conquer the mountains. Where is the difference?
Joel also considers that the Seven Mountain Strategy is all about “Dominionism”. Well, as Wikipedia says,
The use and application of this terminology is a matter of controversy.
Nic Harding certainly isn’t talking about Dominion Theology as described in this Wikipedia article, and I’m pretty sure Lance Wallnau isn’t either. Neither of them envisage setting up a kind of Christian Sharia Law to replace secular law. There also seem to be quite a few differences from Wikipedia’s “Dominionism as a broader movement”. There may indeed be influences from Kuyper and Schaeffer, but not from Rushdoony. Harding is explicit that what Christians should do must be “on a completely free will basis, because people’s hearts have been changed”. Society is to be transformed according to Christian principles not by imposition from the top but by Christians working up from the grass roots.
Is this something from the right or from the left? If this is “Dominionism” from the Christian right, why is it so appealing to the Marx-quoting agnostic from the left-wing Guardian? Militant secularists may rage, but the label doesn’t matter. What does matter is that people that the world, and the secular government, ignore or reject are being accepted and provided for by Christians. This is the love which can turn the world upside down.