Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Deep Politics of God (Part Five): The CNP, Dominionism, and the Ted Haggard Scandal

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The Deep Politics of God (Part Five): The CNP, Dominionism, and the Ted Haggard Scandal

Phillip Collins and Paul Collins

February 28, 2007

Dominionism: The Cult of Neo-Gnostic Jihadists

Many CNP members are adherents of Dominionism. Dominionism is a popular religio-political doctrine that is gradually co-opting Protestant Christian evangelicalism. It is premised upon a gross misinterpretation of Genesis 1:28. Basically, Dominionism holds that the Church must dominate all social and governmental institutions (Leslie, no pagination). According to this radical form of theology, Jesus is either unwilling or unable to return to Earth until the Church stages a successful political coup (No pagination). Thus, Jesus’ kingdom is reduced to a secular government established by and maintained through secular power. Chris Hedges provides a fairly accurate description of Dominionism:

What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian "dominion" over the nation and, eventually, over the earth itself. Dominionists preach that Jesus has called them to build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. (No pagination)

Readers who are not acquainted with Dominionists may find such a description too fantastic to accept. After all, the average small town church that is familiar to most people does not conform to the Dominionist model. Those who doubt that such a movement exists would find the Dominionist tract, "The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement" quite enlightening. Written by Eric Heubeck for CNP member Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation, this document perfectly presents the gospel of Dominionism. In it, Heubeck writes:

It must be emphasized that this new movement will not be "disengaged" from the wider society, only "differently engaged." We are, quite simply, replacing political activism with cultural activism as the center of our focus. And while the visibility of the new movement will be less pronounced than the existing (political) conservative movement in the short term, the seeds that we now sow will have dramatic repercussions over the long term. We have the capacity to fundamentally transform the face of American culture in the 21st century by following a different path, one built on the aggressive dissemination of our cultural values, rather than the idle hope that enough of our cultural values still remain in the body of the American people to carry us on to a few more isolated electoral victories.

We will never stop being engaged in the wider culture. We will not "hunker down" and wait for the storm to blow over. Our strategy will be to bleed this corrupt culture dry. We will pick off the most intelligent and creative individuals in our society, the individuals who help give credibility to the current regime. To do this, we will promote a set of beliefs more compelling than that of our opponents. We will launch a movement with more energy and more intensity than our opponents are capable of summoning. (No pagination)

In a passage that echoes the revolutionary fervor of Robespierre’s radical Jacobinism, Heubeck declares:

Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions. (No pagination)

Heubeck goes on to say that the Dominionists "will use guerrilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime" (No pagination). None of what Heubeck writes resembles the Jesus presented in the Gospels. Instead, the language is comparable to the eighteenth century revolutionaries who were actually trying to tear down Christian civilization. Nonetheless, Heubeck’s words capture the heart and soul of Dominionism. Several CNP members subscribe to Dominionism. These include Gary North, D. James Kennedy, Howard Ahmanson, Jr., and Marvin Olasky.

Essentially, Dominionism is the product of religious engineering. Sociologist William Sims Bainbridge defines religious engineering as "the conscious, systematic, skilled creation of a new religion" ("New Religions, Science, and Secularization," no pagination). Typically, the religion that is designed affirms the socially and politically expedient contentions of those engineering it. For instance, the Process Church, which was a satanic cult that Bainbridge conducted a five-year ethnographic study with, engineered a religion that suited its Hegelian Weltanschauung and hedonistic practices ("Social Construction from Within: Satan’s Process," no pagination). Older occult organizations, like Freemasonry, combined elements of the ancient Mystery religions with metaphysical naturalism, materialism, and transformism (of a somewhat Lamarckian variety that would presage Darwinism) to engineer a secular faith in "progress." Of course, this technocratic evangel of "progress" would help to spawn the Enlightenment, which was the edifying secular religion of the radical sociopolitical Utopians of the French Revolution. In turn, the French Revolution would act as a precursory model for all subsequent socialist revolutions. Most Establishment members adhere to some variant of Enlightenment rationalism. Thus, the entire Establishment could qualify as the product of centuries of religious engineering. It comes as little surprise that the CNP is attached to this vast conspiratorial body. Like its predecessors, the CNP is continuing the tradition of religious engineering in pursuit of political and social hegemony.

At any rate, Bainbridge recognizes the socially and politically expedient applications of religious engineering. In his essay, "New Religions, Science, and Secularization," Bainbridge presents the mandate for social scientists to become "religious engineers." In actuality, Bainbridge’s mandate merely reiterates one of the technocratic concepts developed by the founding father of sociology, August Comte. Specifically, Bainbridge advocates the Comtean concept of a "sociocracy." Frank Fischer explains:

. . .Comte advanced the concept of a "sociocracy," defined as a new "religion of humanity." Sociologists were to identify the principles of this new faith and to implement them through a "sociolatry." The sociolatry was to entail a system of festivals, devotional practices, and rites designed to fix the new social ethics in the minds of the people. In the process, men and women would devote themselves not to God (deemed an outmoded concept) but to "Humanity" as symbolized in the "Grand Being" and rendered incarnate in the great men of history. (71)

In short, one could characterize a sociocracy as a scientistic theocracy with social scientists acting as the ruling priesthood. Sociologists actively experiment in the development of a scientistic faith that is politically and socially expedient to the ruling elite. In a sense, Dominionism could be considered a quasi-sociocracy. Given its distinctly secular character, Dominionism qualifies as a "religion of humanity." However, its ruling priesthood is not peopled by social scientists, but by a confused amalgam of neoconservatives, Establishment insiders, Rockefeller internationalists, and Iran-Contra conspirators. Despite their varying pedigrees, the religious engineers of this emergent sociocracy share one doctrinal commonality: the Utopian vision of an earthly kingdom shaped and maintained through earthly power.

This doctrinal commonality illustrates the conspicuously neo-Gnostic character of Dominionist eschatology. Like the adherents of neo-Gnosticism, the religious engineers of Dominionism are not satisfied with the supposed limitations of cognitio fidei (the cognition of faith). Thus, Dominionists engage in the neo-Gnostic practice of immanentization. That is, they re-conceptualize transcendant objects of faith as objects of immanent experience. This practice began with earlier sociopolitical Utopians, specifically communists and fascists. Sociopolitical Utopians typically rejected the traditional Abrahamic faiths in favor of a radically secular Weltanschauung. However, they simultaneously transplanted the traditional metaphysical concepts of these faiths within the ontological plane of the physical universe. This included the Eschaton ("the end of days"). Wolfgang Smith explains:

In place of an Eschaton which ontologically transcends the confines of this world, the modern Gnostic envisions an End within history, an Eschaton, therefore, which is to be realized within the ontological plane of this visible universe." (238; emphasis added)

The final product of this neo-Gnostic religious experimentation would be entire movements devoted to the erection of an anti-theistic, anti-spiritual theocracy. Ever-present was a religious fanaticism that rivaled even that of the traditional jihadist. Yet, because of their secular veneer, these neo-Gnostics were seldom discernible from any other common revolutionary. James Webb observes:

In this century, with the presentation of traditional religious positions in secular form, there has emerged a secular Gnosticism beside the other great secular religions--the mystical union of Fascism, the apocalypse of Marxist dialectic, the Earthly City of social democracy. The secular Gnosticism is almost never recognized for what it is, and it can exist alongside other convictions almost unperceived. (Webb 418)

Likewise, the Dominionists can exist alongside the common Christian virtually unperceived. Unbeknown to the evangelical establishment, it is being co-opted by a neo-Gnostic aberration. Dominionists are attempting to immanentize the Eschaton. They are attempting to accelerate the march of God on earth. The intended outcome is no different from the earthly Heavens envisioned by earlier sociopolitical Utopians: a socialist totalitarian system. To be sure, some Dominionists envision a federal government whose role is limited to the "protection of property rights and ‘homeland security’" (Hedges, no pagination). However, this desired future is no different from the deluded Marxist contention that the state would eventually "wither away," facilitating the emergence of "stateless socialism." Like their Marxist predecessors, Dominionists cannot identify the exact point after which their theocratic dictatorship will give way to a limited form of federal government. Dominionism is guilty of the same sort of Utopian deception perpetrated in all socialist revolutions, past and present. The promise of an earthly heaven is actually a thinly veiled mandate for the apotheosis of the omnipotent State.

Dominionism does slightly invert some features of traditional sociopolitical Utopianism. The neo-Gnostic immanentism of communists and fascists produced secular movements that, sociologically, behaved like religions. Secular Gnostics violently rejected all religions. Yet, simultaneously, they exhibited all the zealotry of a religious fanatic. In the case of Dominionist immanentism, the result is a religious movement that, sociologically, behaves like a secular movement. Dominionists publicly espouse spiritual principles and concepts. Yet, simultaneously, they are preoccupied with secular institutions and secular power. Because of it's ostensible Christian foundation, Dominionist doctrine does present some marginally spiritual concepts. However, Dominionist eschatology remains preoccupied with the ontological plane of the physical universe.

The specific variety of Dominionism that preoccupies CNP members is Theocratic Dominionism or Hard Dominionism. This particular strain of Dominionist thought advocates "a future in which all the institutions of society will be governed by the principles of their form of Christian faith" ("Dominionism," no pagination). The postmillennialist eschatology of Calvinism reflects the paradigmatic character of this militant belief system (no pagination). In fact, Dominionism is derivative of Christian Reconstructionism, a very rigid form of theocratic Calvinism (Goldberg 13). In a way, John Calvin’s authoritarian Geneva was a precursor to the theocratic societal configuration envisioned by some Dominionists (no pagination). Calvinism promoted a doctrine of predestination, which presented the following contentions:

That all humans are, inherently wicked and offend God;
That there is an elect that God chose to be saved regardless of their actions and how deserving;
That Jesus died just for those special elect, not for everyone;
That once God has chosen an elect they are saved by irresistible grace no matter what;
That these elect or Saints cannot fall from grace once saved. (Millegan 405)
According to Calvinism, there is only abundant life for some. Jesus Christ did not "set the captives" free. He merely affirmed the elitist pedigree of a few. In Haeckelian terms, supernatural selection is "aristocratic in the strictest sense of the word." The vast majority of humanity can only expect death, both physical and spiritual, irrespective of the individual’s capacity for accepting for Christ as savior. With its mandate for a theocratic state ruled by a select few, Dominionism echoes such elitist sentiments.

Given the prevalence of Dominionist thinking in the Bush White House, this thread of Calvinist themes becomes even more significant. George W. Bush is a member of Skull and Bones, a secret society headquartered at Yale University. Yale was established and administrated by Calvinist clerics (Millegan 417). Bonesmen like Bush could possibly be guided by "Hyper-Calvinist beliefs of Hell, predestination, and infallible salvation mixed with potent duality of Western Ritual Magic tradition" (419). If such beliefs pervade the present administration, then it is only natural for the Bush White House to be so amicable to the Dominionist agenda. Certainly, the administration’s militaristic campaigns abroad synchronize rather comfortably with the Dominionist brand of neo-Gnostic jihadism. The beliefs of CNP member Ted Haggard bear out this contention. Jeff Sharlet explains:

Globalization, he [Haggard] believes, is merely a vehicle for the spread of Christianity. And that is why he believes spiritual war requires a virile, worldly counterpart. I teach a strong ideology of the use of power," he says, "of military might, as a public service." He is for preemptive war, because he believes the Bible’s exhortations against sin set for us a preemptive paradigm, and he is for ferocious war, because "the Bible’s bloody. There’s a lot about blood." ("Soldiers of Christ," No pagination)

Haggard’s talk of "power" sounds more like Nietzsche than Jesus Christ. His endorsement of preemptive warfare, which is central to neoconservative geopolitical doctrine, bespeaks a resounding approval for the global exercise of America’s "will to power." Moreover, Haggard distorts the Bible’s references to "blood" and restates them in a purely militaristic context. Gone is any spiritual significance that the Biblical passages concerning blood once held. Spiritual warfare is re-conceptualized as an object of immanent experience, a concept confined entirely to the ontological plane of the physical universe. Haggard’s neo-Gnostic interpretation is a complete inversion of Ephesians 6:12. No longer does the Christian wrestle with the principalities, powers, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. Now, the enemy is entirely flesh and blood, a corporeal Adversary embodied by those who oppose Dominionism’s purely immanent heaven. Herein is the neo-Gnostic jihadism of Dominionism, which pervades the doctrines of the CNP and heavily influences the policies of the neoconservative-dominated administration.

In the sixth installment of this ongoing investigation, we shall examine the concept of deep politics and its relationship to the controlled Evangelical movement.

Sources Cited

All sources will be presented in the twelfth and final installment of this series

Links To Parts 1 - 4:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4



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