Yesterday, I received a tweet from Rick Warren that was interesting to me. I retweeted it.
Here is what it said, “Jesus taught the OPPOSITE of dominion theology! We're to SERVE ALL not “dominate” cultural mountains! Study Matt.20:25-27″. About an hour later, he furthered his thought with this, “Genesis1:28 is about fish, birds, animals & plants, not people! Perverting it as a political mandate is flat-out heresy.”
I got a response from a good friend, saying thanks for sending this out, and asking me this: “How do you think this plays into the 7 mountain mandate idea?”
I told him I would look into what I thought about it. Kathy and I read the scripture references he mentioned, and discussed it a little before signing off last night. This morning we had a discussion about it, and I had a lot more to say about it than I thought I would, so I felt it a good idea to capture my thoughts and respond in the public forum. You may deeply disagree with my thinking, which is fine. I would welcome some dialogue about it. I don't think I have the last word on anything, including this.
Over the last few days, I have had a thought rolling around inside that I think belongs in the conversation, so I want to share it right up front. Brace yourself for something revolutionary!
If you want to know what God the Father values, take a look at the life of Christ.
Sound simple, or overly simple? It certainly can be taken that way, but I think there is more there than we can harvest at first passing. Aren't we trying to know what God desires, what He values, and what is meaningful to Him? I want to know this, and it is becoming a stronger need in my life than ever before.
We get a lot of input on value in this life, and we get a lot of people wanting to weigh in on what “truly” has value. We see the word value attached to items on sale, or offer, as the British would say, and a lot of other things. We see value pointed up as in “what do you value?”, “what are your values?”. We see this concept spread around a bit, but I don't hear enough talk about what God values. In our pursuit of valuables, is it possible that things of eternal value are fading into the margins?
I am no specialist on the teaching about the Seven Mountain Mandate, though I have heard this teaching, first on tape about 8 years ago, and at various times in person since then. I am guessing I have heard this teaching, done by the one who “branded” it, between 6 and 12 times. That makes me familiar, and I hope familiar enough to respond. My purpose here is not to teach this material, but rather to respond to my impression of it. If you want to hear this teaching, I am sure that is abundantly available, both in writing and in audio / video formats. A google of these three words put together yield pros and cons, including it's brander presenting as well as some dissenting voices. My response doesn't come from any research I have done on the internet of antagonist voices on the subject. In fact, the church I attend has really been behind this teaching over the last several years. That may be why I have heard it as much as I have.
The essence of this idea communicates that the mandate has been given to us to infiltrate culture and their high places of dominion, or principal influence, and take ground for God and for the Kingdom of God. The protagonists claim this is part of the great commission. The antagonists claim this is dominion theology. I think we are missing the point.
I am reading thru the gospels over the last few weeks, and it just happened to be that the next chapter I was reading this morning (with this internal conversation going on in the background) was the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. Does anyone have clear memory of this? One of the temptations of Christ in the wilderness really fits into a prominent place in this response. Did you guess it? Jesus was taken by Satan into a high mountain and shown the kingdoms of the world and all their glory. What was next? A business deal. The devil offered him all the kingdoms of this world and their glory, for Jesus' agreement to worship him. Compromise with my ways, says the devil, and I will give you all of this! might be another way to put that.
Satan went on to say that the kingdoms of this world and their glory had been given to him, and that he gave it to whomever he chose. (I think he was saying – I have the right to give this to you if you take my offer…. and it's fairly easy to observe the validity of this claim.) What was Jesus' response? You shall worship the Lord God, and Him only shall you serve, or something to that effect. Where does this put us as we are surveying the mountains of influence?
Now the temptation of Christ needs to be understood. This was a real temptation to Jesus, meaning, he was really tempted. He felt the tug of self-importance! He felt the draw of prominence! He felt that maybe, finally, people would see Him for Who He really Is! He was drawn to the idea of earthly significance. Sound familiar? Those mountains do have a lot to offer, after all! Much of what I have observed, especially in the responses of those who have taken these ideas deeply on-board, has been akin to this. It's like an internal response that says, “I have been invisible for so long, now it's time for me to be seen and heard for who I am, and to be respected as such!” This my friends, is extremely dangerous ground.
As I think about these things, my mind goes back to the Lord of the Rings movie, when the guy in the fellowship attacks Frodo when he is picking up firewood, and several other moments in the story. The ring can be used for good! Let's take the ring, and oppose the very forces of evil! However, can you remember Aragorn's wisdom –
“You cannot wield it.
Understand that you would use the ring for good, but through you it would work evil.”
This is going long, and still there is much to say… I may need to follow up with a secondary post….
In my view, the mountains, or foundational power bases of this world or this age, are corrupt, and will have to be torn down. Our hearts are appealed to by the promise of power, but if you get power by the enemies means, he will definitely come back and claim his stake in your influence, and you will be a casualty. And what does it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what will you give in exchange for your soul?
Let's remind ourselves of real value by concluding with a scripture:
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. Colossians 3