Deuteronomy 28:13: “The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall be above only, and you shall not be below.”
This passage is especially beloved of Dominionists, given the ease with which it can be abused and misconstrued to justify feelings of divinely ordained supremacism and election of certain people over other (less favoured or godly) people (i.e. are you a head that leads or a tail that wags?).
I’ve longed noticed that fundamentalist Christians, particularly Dominionist Protestants, exhibit an almost pathological obsession with the law of Moses in the Torah. (Not that they understand it aright, in its appropriate cultural context).
One only has to consider the Dutch Calvinist Afrikaneers of apartheid South Africa, or Christian reconstructionists in the US South.
This extends, on occassion, to the actual conviction that human legislation should somehow be shaped by these ancient, pre-Christian, near eastern stipulations. Theonomy is the most extreme manifestation of this.
This begs the question: why?
For most mainstream Christian denominations - Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox or otherwise - Christianity is a timeless religion of grace and love, rather than one centered around the (to modern eyes) harsh and invasive legalism of an ancient mesopotamian theocracy.
Shouldn’t the Beatitudes of Jesus and his parables be the main reference point for every Christian? Or, if one chooses to focus upon the Old Testament, what about the cynical wisdom of Ecclesiastes or the social justice activism of the Nevi’im (prophets)?
Why are Dominionists (apparently) less interested in advocating for a government founded upon these principles?
The entire concept of ‘Dominionist theology’ is derived from a facile misreading of the first verses of Genesis, where God grants mankind “dominion over…every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). This is a poor translation from the Hebrew, since the original text actually implies stewardship rather than mastery or hierarchical dominance.
But quite apart from that, the dominionists draw entirely the wrong lesson from this verse. Nowhere does it imply domination of one set of human beings by other human beings, even less so the dominance of one belief system over others or in control of the reins of civil government. It’s about humanity acting as equal stewards together over the natural world on behalf of God - not in relation to one another.
Thus, mainstream Christians have traditionally taken the complete opposite understanding from this verse. The scholastic theologian Francisco Suarez in 1613, summarised the consensus of the Fathers and canonists to this effect:
8. From these considerations finally it is concluded that no king or monarch has or has had directly from God or from divine institution a political principality…
Besides this truth can be taken from the holy Fathers, first, because they assert that man was created by God free and free-born, and only received directly from God the power of ruling over the brute beasts and inferior things; but the dominion of men over men was introduced by human will through sin or some adversity.