Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? By H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice. Portland: Multnomah, 1988. 460 pp. Cloth, $15.99.
Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? is an evaluation of Theonomy from a premillennial, dispensational perspective. The book is very well written and researched. One of the authors, Thomas Ice, was himself a theonomist from 1974 to 1986. However, he was always troubled by the eschatological system of postmillennialism that Theonomy seemed to require. After attempting to unite Theonomy with premillennialism, the author came to the conclusion that the two doctrines were mutually exclusive. This caused him to reject Theonomy as a system. This book reveals a thorough acquaintance with theonomist literature.
The book divides into three parts.
Part one is a review of Theonomy. In this section the authors state the factors that gave rise to Theonomy and the main evidences used by its advocates. The authors then present in detail the postmillennial eschatology on which the system is based. Next there are case scenarios of what a reconstructed America would be like if Theonomy were to take over.
Part two refutes the theonomist view of the Mosaic Law and its relation to believers and society. This is the most fundamental issue in the entire debate. The theonomist understands the moral and penal sanctions of the law to be binding on all of society today, whereas the dispensationalist understands the law in its entirety to be done away with, as a system or rule of life. In chapter 6 the NT passages in which the law is said to be done away are considered. The theonomists’ view of the abrogation of the law, restricting it to the ceremonial aspects, is evaluated and convincingly refuted. The book also gives an exposition of Matt 5:17–19 and shows that the emphasis on Christ’s fulfillment of the law was prophetic, as opposed to a present establishment of the law.
This section also has a discussion of the Great Commission. Theonomists believe that the Great Commission is a re-articulation of the original admonition to Adam to rule the earth. The passages are clearly shown to refer to evangelism and discipleship as opposed to world dominion. The mission of the Church in the age of Grace is to evangelize the lost and to disciple believers.
Part three deals with the other major differences between Theonomy and dispensationalism, which are in eschatology. The hermeneutical basis of the different views is scrutinized here. Dispensational premillennialism has the strength of being consistently literal in its approach to prophecy. Postmillennialism adopts a hermeneutic of spiritualization when evaluating prophecy. This is evidenced in a discussion of the Book of Revelation and of our Lord’s Olivet Discourse.
House and Ice also include several helpful appendices. An especially interesting appendix is about the charismatic following that Theonomy has. The progression from the healing of individuals to the healing of society is incorporated into their system.
In spite of the many strengths of this book, it does have a few weaknesses. A chapter contrasting dispensationalism with covenant theology would have been helpful. Another omission in this book is a dispensational understanding of the OT in the NT. In one short paragraph (p. 267), the authors also reveal that they subscribe to the Reformed doctrine of perseverance.
This book is an excellent evaluation of Theonomy and I would highly recommend it to anyone desiring to understand this movement better.
R. Michael Duffy
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society