The following guest column is from Richard Weikart, professor of history at California State University, Stanislau. He is the author of four books. In his recent New Yorker article and NPR interview, Ryan Lizza tries to evoke fear of Michele Bachmann by alleging that she has been heavily influenced by “dominionism.” The two chief culprits allegedly spreading this pernicious “dominionism” to Bachmann and others are the prominent Christian intellectuals Francis Schaeffer and Nancy Pearcey.
Accusing Schaeffer and Pearcey of peddling dominionism -- and associating Bachmann with it -- is a serious charge, since Lizza defines it as those who believe: “Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.” Sounds like theocracy to me.
Aside from the fact that Lizza never produces any quotations from Bachmann showing that she endorses dominionism, does his guilt-by-association argument hold any water? Were Schaeffer and Pearcey tainted by dominionism?
As an undergraduate in the late 1970s I read just about everything that Schaeffer wrote. I read Schaeffer’s Christian Manifesto (1981), his most political book, as soon as it was published.
Even though I do not agree with Schaeffer’s position on political activism therein, it is hard to see how he could have stated his opposition to theocracy more plainly. He stated, “First, we must make definite that we are in no way talking about any kind of theocracy. Let me say that with great emphasis.”
In the next paragraph he argued, “There is no New Testament basis for a linking of church and state until Christ, the King returns.” He then criticized the Roman emperors Constantine and Theodosius for merging church and state, calling it a mistake causing “great confusion.” Schaeffer was a strong opponent of theocracy (and thus dominionism), Lizza’s revisionist history notwithstanding.
Casting Nancy Pearcey as an evil dominionist influence on Bachmann, as Lizza does, is even more bizarre. By way of full disclosure, I have met and corresponded with Pearcey, and she even sent me her manuscript Total Truth -- the one that Bachmann mentioned as important -- before it was published.
Though I don’t agree with all of Pearcey’s political views, nowhere have I seen even a hint that she thinks Christians should shoulder everyone else aside to take sole control of the government, economy, or culture.
Indeed Pearcey believes that Christians should apply their worldview to every facet of their lives, including politics, but one of these Christian insights she insists on is that Christians should be servants to others. As with Schaeffer, love, not domination, is the driving force in her worldview.
That such a savvy political correspondent as Lizza could get things so wrong is disheartening. This is especially so, because one of his main gripes about Bachmann is that she doesn’t always get her facts straight.
I suppose Lizza is just illustrating the truth of that Biblical adage that those who judge others condemn themselves, because they do the same things.
Disclaimer: This article should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of Bachmann’s candidacy.