Rev. Stellman writes,
What, then, of the dominion mandate?
We read in Psalm 8 a divine commentary on Genesis 1:28, one in which David speaks of man thus:
You have made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet… (vv. 5-6).
Sounds great, right? It sounds like the dominion mandate is still in force, reiterated in all its prelapsarian glory. But again, we need to keep reading. When we come to Hebrews 2, which is a commentary on Psalm 8 (which is a commentary on Genesis 1), we see a truly Christocentric interpretation of the dominion mandate. According to the writer,
Now in putting everything in subjection to [man], [God] left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone (vv. 8b-9).
Talk about an already/not yet hermeneutic! According to the author here, there is a promise to man of dominion that is still outstanding and unfulfilled, one which we do “not yet see.” But what do we see? “We see Jesus” who, like Adam, was made for a litte while lower than the angels. He is the One who exercises dominion, the One to whom has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Will we, the men and women whom Jesus represented and whose nature he assumed, ever get to share in this dominion? Indeed we will, but the writer to the Hebrews insists that this dominion is “not yet.” Immediately preceding the quotation from Psalm 8, Hebrews says:
Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking (v. 5).
The implication is that though this present fallen order is not under man’s control, the world to come will be. The conclusion, then, is clear: The dominion mandate of Genesis 1 has not been revoked, but due to the Fall, man cannot by his own cultural labors usher in the power and glory of the kingdom like Adam could have. Rather, this promise is now reformulated Christocentrically, with Jesus experiencing “the dominion of the resurrection” now, as demonstrated in his ascension to the Father’s right hand. We, on the other hand, do not see these things with our eyes, but only embrace them by faith and hopeful cross-bearing. The day will come, however, when faith will give way to sight and the cross will give way to glory. On that day, and not before, “the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,” and we will reign with him forever and ever.
1.) Rev. Stellman’s point is that because Christ reigns from heaven the Church, as organism, is not to seek to extend the Crown Rights of King Jesus over every area of life. In order to reign in this fashion the Church, as organism, has to wait until Christ’s return in order to share in the Lord Christ’s dominion.
And yet, Hebrews 11, which Rev. Stellman does not allude to, tells us that we are to emulate the faith of the Old Testament saints. And some of the faith of those OT saints we are to emulate was of such a character that,
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.
These OT saints, who earlier in the chapter were described as “strangers and exiles on the earth,” still had the character of faith to conquer Kingdoms, and the quality of the OT Saints faith is what is being held up to the Hebrews as faith to emulate. Apparently the writer of Hebrews was not a advocate of R2K “theology,” for if he were he never never would have included examples of Faith for these NT saints to emulate that included “conquering Kingdoms.” Apparently the inspired writer didn’t get Rev. Stellman’s memo that the NT saints are not to share in Christ’s dominion until He returns.
2.) Rev. Stellman’s analysis likewise falters by the fact that he conveniently leaves out other divinely inspired commentary on Psalm 8. In I Corinthians 15 St. Paul gives us some commentary that makes hash of Rev. Stellman’s Klinean amillennial theorizing.
22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[c] has put all things in subjection under his feet.”
Paul’s presentation of the postmillennial kingdom in 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 overturns all the innovative commentary offered by Rev. Stellman. This clear Scriptural testimony reminds us that, contrary to the teaching offered in the blockquote above, that we should anticipate Christ’s, in principle already accomplished gospel triumph as it unfolds in history.
The teaching here in I Corinthians 15 forces us to take the strongest exception to Rev. Stellman’s handling of Hebrews 8 for what I Corinthians 15 teaches is that which is to precede the conclusion of history is not the gloom and despair found in the amillennial report but rather in vs. 24 we read, “the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father.” The end of earth history is brought about “whenever” (literally) Christ “delivers up” the triumphant kingdom to the Father.
Dr. Ken Gentry helps us out with the Greek construction of I Corinthians 15,
In the construction before us the “delivering up” of the kingdom must occur in conjunction with “the end.” The Greek for “delivers up” here is (paradidoi), which is a verb in the present tense and subjunctive mode. When the word translated “when” or “whenever” (hotan) is followed by the present subjunctive (as here), it indicates a present contingency that occurs in conjunction with the main clause, which is “then comes the end.” Here the contingent factor is in regard to the date of the “end”: “whenever” it may be that he delivers up the kingdom, then the end will come.
Associated with the predestined end here is the prophecy that the kingdom of Christ will be delivered up to the Father. But this occurs only “when he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” In the Greek text the hotan (“when”) is here followed by the aorist subjunctive, katargese. This construction indicates that the action of this subordinate clause precedes the action of the main clause. The phrase here should be translated: “after he had destroyed all dominion, authority and power.”
So, in summarizing what the exegesis is teaching us, we note that the “end” is dependent. The “end” is dependent upon whenever the Lord Christ delivers up the Kingdom to the Father. However, this only occurs “after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.” Consequently, “the end” will not occur, Christ will not turn the kingdom over to the Father, until after he has abolished his opposition. Here is the certain hope of postmillennialism!
Listening to Dr. Ken Gentry again,
As we continue to vs. 25 of I Corinthians 15 we read, “he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” Here the present infinitive translated “reign” indicates the continuance of a reign then in progress. References elsewhere to the Psalm 110 passage specifically mention his sitting at God’s right hand. Sitting at the right hand entails active ruling and reigning, not passive resignation. he is now actively “the ruler over the kings of the earth” who “has made us kings and priests to his God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever” (Rev. 1:5).
Here in 1 Corinthians 15:25 we learn that he must continue to reign, he must continue to put his enemies under his feet—but until when? The answer is identical to that which has already been concluded: it is expected before the end of history. Earlier it was awaiting the abolishing of all rule, authority and power; here it delayed until “he has put all his enemies under his feet.” The repetition of the expectation of his sure conquest before the end is significant. Furthermore, the last enemy that will be subdued is death, which is subdued in conjunction with the Resurrection that occurs at his coming. But the subduing of his other enemies occurs before this, before the Resurrection.
In verse 27 it is clear that he has the title to rule, for the Father “has put everything under his feet.” This is the Pauline expression (borrowed from Psa. 8:6) that is equivalent to Christ’s declaration that “all authority has been given Me.” Christ has the promise of victory and he has the right to victory. Psalm 110, especially as expounded by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, shows he will have the historical, pre-consummation victory as his own before his coming.
So, we see here that if we are to listen to all the New Testament commentary on Psalm 8:6 and not just the commentary that Rev. Stellman would direct our attention to, we can not conclude that there the Dominion mandate is a “Spiritual” dominion, or that it is a Dominion Christ has no intent of bring to bear until His return. Rev. Stellman’s theology is all “not yet,” and while we must surely avoid the opposite error of having a theology that is all “now,” we can surely see that all of Scripture does not allow us the retreatist mindset that Rev. Stellman’s teaching inculcates in God’s people who take it seriously.
3.) Rev. Stellman seems to be on the verge of denying the Unio Christi. God has placed all things under the feet of Christ. We (the church) are the body of Christ and the physical presence of Christ on earth. In other words we are the feet, connected to the Head, under which all things have been placed. To suggest that the head (Christ) has Dominion without His body taking any part in that Dominion strikes me as a casting asunder what God has placed together. Now, once again, it would be a mistake to embrace a eschatology that is too over-realized but it is just as grievous an error to embrace a eschatology that is too under-realized. Remember, one of the ways that the new covenant is distinguished from the old covenant is that in the old covenant the “not yet” of the “now, not yet” was front-loaded because the King and the Kingdom had not yet come. However, with the coming of King Christ, and with His ascension to rule we are now living in a covenant that is front loaded with the “now.” Now, certainly a “not yet” remains but compared to the Old and worse covenant it is a retiring “not yet.” One of my problems with the Escondido “Theologians” is that they seem to live in the old and worse covenant with their front loaded “not yet” pessimism. The Lord Christ has bound the strong man. The Lord Christ pronounced “It is Finished.” The Lord Christ has ascended on High and is seated the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet (note the Psalm 8 commentary again) and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body (note the unio Christi theme again), the fullness of him who fills all in all.
4.) We see this heavy gloom and doom “not yet” theology in Rev. Stellman’s statement, The implication is that though this present fallen order is not under man’s control the world to come will be.”
Remember, the point that Rev. Stellman is laboring to prove is that Redeemed man should not have dominion, nor should expect to have dominion, so when Rev. Stellman says the above italicized statement what he is telling us is, by way of logical necessity, that non-redeemed man will have dominion. Look, Dominion is an inescapable category. Either the redeemed will have it, or the Christ haters will have it. There is no neutrality. You can not make Dominion go away by pretending there is a neutral common realm where nobody and / or everybody will have dominion. All the Escondidoists have to do is open their eyes. Is it not self evident (a little “Natural Law” lingo there for my R2K fans) that currently Dominion is being exercised by the Christ haters in the common realm?
So, what Rev. Stellman does is he concedes that the “age to come” ushered in by our Lord Christ is to have no impact in his “common realm” — a realm that is characterized in the Scripture as “this present wicked age.” This is a very odd stance for a minister of the Gospel to advance.
5.) When Rev. Stellman writes, “man cannot by his own cultural labors usher in the power and glory of the kingdom like Adam could have,” he does those who oppose him a disservice for none of us believe that man can by his own cultural labors usher in the power and glory of the Kingdom like Adam could have.” All of us who oppose R2K Escondido Theology believe that the Spirit of God ushers in the already present in principle Kingdom in its finality as men who are filled with the Spirit of God increasingly bring all things into submission to God’s revelation. It is not man, in his own power who usher’s in the power and glory of the Kingdom but man as he humbly submits to God’s instruction as he is filled by the Spirit of the living God to do so. There is no humanism in those who oppose Rev. Stellman.
6.) Rev. Stellman gives us a “tell” in his theology when he writes, “On that day, and not before, “the kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ,” and we will reign with him forever and ever/”
This is classic Klinean amillennialism. Rev. Stellman has told us bluntly and with the full force of his expression that the Kingdom of God is not present in this world. Oh, sure, it might be present in the Church, but the Kingdom that Christ brought is not and never will be invading this present wicked age. In my way of thinking that is a breath-taking assertion and explains why the R2K lads are forever railing against notions of “Christian Education,” “Christian Families,” “Christian Magistrates,” or “Christian culture.” It is their conviction that these areas, being non-redemptive in definition can not be affected by the impact of the “age to come” on these realities as they exist in this present wicked age.
Besides what I’ve covered in Parts I & II of McAtee Contra Stellman, what Rev. Stellman has written is something I fully agree with.