Vengeance Is Ours

DURING MY reading on the Dominionist movement this year, I noticed that one book kept popping up in footnotes, cited by researchers studying this heresy. Vengeance Is Ours: The Church In Dominion, published in 1990, was an early warning call to the church about a group of self-appointed, self-anointed apostles and prophets who believe God wants them to take over the world.

Al Dager, author of Vengeance Is Ours and the founder and president of Media Spotlight, a ministry devoted to biblical analysis of religious and secular media, talks about the danger of this alluring fantasy and the way the end times may play out.

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  1. “Even religion is part of the world system.”

    This assertion is patently Gnostic. Like the Gnostics, Dager relocates foundation of religion in private, personal experience.

    By making the patently false claim that religion is of the world system (it is not) he is following in the Gnostic’s footsteps by rejecting the corporate and public aspects of the Christian faith (does anyone remember Hebrews 10:24-25 anymore? It states, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.”)

    When people get radically individualistic about their faith, they begin to spiral into relativism and usually land in some form of Gnosticism.

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: people are not approaching this topic with care.

    Dager is starting to drift to the other dialectic extreme: abdication theology. That kind of indolence and apathy is itself unbiblical and unsound doctrine.

    What do we think? That God somehow decided to no longer take an active interest in government after the Old Testament? What happened to the God that changeth not?

    Do we think that Christianity has been reduced to just a bunch of introspective nonsense? It’s just you and Jesus in your prayer closet and no one else?

    Political activism on the part of Christians is not dominionism. The dominionists are following in the footsteps of the Bavarian Illuminist, the French revolutionaries, the Carbonari, and some early socialist revolutionaries by presenting Jesus Christ as a social revolutionary. They view government through a messianic optic and see it as a vehicle for salvation. Politics and soteriology get recklessly melded together; that’s dominionism, not seeking to preserve constitutional republicanism or working to make a positive change on the political landscape.

    Researchers need to start being much more responsible when approaching this topic.

  2. Al’s point, perhaps not clearly developed, is that church hierarchies, whether Roman or Protestant, are part of the world system. In that I believe he is correct.

    As you know, it’s much more difficult to be precise with the spoken word than in writing. Read through his body of work at and see if you still believe he advocates abdication theology or a gnostic faith on based on personal experience and enlightenment. It appears to me he’s following in the steps of Wycliffe, rejecting church hierarchy in favor of sola scriptura, in addition to rejecting political activism when the goal, as it is for the Dominionist/Kingdom Now/Joel’s Army movement, is to create a global government that is a means of salvation.

  3. Overall a very interesting interview. One must consider the background of the author – Roman Catholic. Decidedly part of the world system. Add to this all the “Purpose Driven” program oriented churches who blatantly use marketing methods to swell their ranks, and it starts looking like he might be right? But alas, God does have a remnant that hasn’t bent the knee to Baal.

    As to political activism, I keep looking to Jesus. Who and how did He interact with? Some of His followers tried to whisk Him into office but He refused. Judas tried to force his hand. Pilot and Herod became friends of handing Him back and forth. The Jewish leaders handed Him over to death. And His words are the capstone: “My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

    I fully understand the need to be salt. Light must be shown in the dark for others to find their way. Many evangelicals were gaga over W and his crowd. They rewarded us with the Patriot Act, state sponsored torture, almost eight years of war, and so much more. No wonder O was swept into office. Little did they know this new man was the same on steroids. (O claims the right to kill Americans without trial!) DC is corrupt to the core, for it is the seat of Mystery Babylon. If there is any valid form of political action for Christians, it must be local.

    People vote their wallets. The voting machines are rigged. Do we really want to waste time here? As the previous guest said, we would make more headway preaching on the streets…

  4. Derek,

    “Al’s point, perhaps not clearly developed, is that church hierarchies, whether Roman or Protestant, are part of the world system. In that I believe he is correct.”

    This is still patently Gnostic in nature. Gnosticism holds that religious institutions are at odds with genuine heart-felt faith.

    This kind of decentralized Christianity has led to continuous atomization in the Protestant world. We now have more denominations than you can shake a stick at and no unity in the faith.

    Now we have “churchless” Christians with no instruction and no sound theology.

    “It appears to me he’s following in the steps of Wycliffe, rejecting church hierarchy in favor of sola scriptura”

    Who says sola scriptura is a good thing?

    Scripture itself denounces the idea. In 1 Corinthians, Paul admonishes the church to keep the traditions he delivered to them. Paul also instructs Christians to be imitators of him, even as he is an imitator of Christ.

    And again, in Thessalonians 2:15, Paul tells the church to hold to the traditions delivered both orally and in letters.

    Finally, 2 Timothy 1:13-14 states:

    “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

    Clearly, scripture directs us to submit ourselves to teachers, ministers, and instructors.

    The first century church operated without the New Testament. All special revelation was oral from Christ to His apostles to the early Christians. Only the Old Testament was available in writing. What if the early church had decided to go the route of sola scriptura? That would have been a blueprint for anarchy.

    The 1st Century Church followed the church’s hierarchy.

    If we don’t follow a sound hierarchy, how can we have any binding decision concerning canon and misinterpretation (and, believe, there is lots of misinterpretation these days among the “non-religious” Christians”)

    Joel’s Army looks down upon theologians and Bible teachers. That’s why Bentley and his followers are migrating towards gnostic militarism. No one is there to get them back on track with understanding of the canon and proper scriptural interpretation.


    “DC is corrupt to the core, for it is the seat of Mystery Babylon.”

    What evidence do you have that Washington D.C. is what was prophesied in Revelation? This is an extreme statement that demands extreme evidence.

    You can’t use the Bible to justify anti-government nonsense. It simply will not conform to that sort of thinking.

  5. Hi, Paul,

    I won’t presume to go any farther in putting words into Al Dager’s word processor; in fact, I’ve presumed too much already. Your point regarding the complete rejection of organized worship is valid. I just don’t remember hearing or reading anything of Al’s that led me to conclude that he advocates such a thing.

    The first century church did not have a formal structure, although it did indeed look to the brothers in Jerusalem for guidance–for example, in the matter of whether and how to admit Gentiles to the Way. But that’s what we do today through the scriptures, the only record we have of the traditions Paul delivered to the churches, which he himself received from Peter, James, and the rest (per 1 Corinthians 15).

    And even in Paul’s day, the gospel wasn’t based on new revelation that supplanted the Law and the Prophets; that’s the basis of the warmed-over Latter Rain/Manifested Sons of God theology taught by Joyner, Pierce, Bentley, and their crowd. The apostles demonstrated through the scriptures of the Jews that Jesus was the Christ–that His special revelation wasn’t a new thing, it was the culmination of the old thing.

    Sadly, over the intervening centuries, new and contradictory traditions have been added to those of the apostles. Whether we’re in a formal denomination or not, we, like the Bereans listening to Paul, must compare what we hear from our teachers with the Word for confirmation. And when new traditions contradict the gospel received from the apostles, then, as Paul wrote, let those teachers be accursed.

  6. Paul,

    It’s called meditation upon the Word of God that has brought this understanding. Evidence is plentiful that America is Mystery Babylon, with stress on mystery, which is why so many are deceived to her nature. Rev 18 seems pretty extreme for instance. Pentagrams outlined by the streets of DC? Tallest obelisk in the world? Just because America or USA isn’t in clear text in the Bible, you say “no way”?

    If Jesus and His relationship and interactions with the world system isn’t a valid model to examine, pray tell what is? You tell me to be politically active. I just don’t see Jesus telling me to do that. I see a lot of other things He tells me to do, like my relationship with my wife, forgiveness of others, caring for the poor, etc. For those things I will strive.

    Most (not all) men preach and teach to keep their little kingdoms going, to not make waves, to stay out of the way of government scrutiny, to keep the money coming in. Pure and simple, the economic downturn is the best things to happen to the church in America for quite some time. It is revealing the heretical prosperity gospel. Perhaps these people will stop shaking their fist at Obama and fall to their knees seeking the Father.

  7. timbo,

    “Pentagrams outlined by the streets of DC? Tallest obelisk in the world?”

    I can’t get impressed with this. This is a very tired argument that means nothing.

    What you have done here is present an argument from semiology, the meaning of which is purely arbitrary.

    Those symbols do not mean to Americans or the founders what they meant to pagan antiquity or the revolutionary movements that were seeking occult simplicity.

    Avoid reading a lot of conspiracist literature that presents this hocus-pocus nonsense. You’ll find yourself in a disinformation cul-de-sac, going around in circles forever.

    In Fire in the Minds of Men by former Librarian of Congress James Billington, it is demonstrated that these symbols merely represented the complex balance of constitutional republicanism.

    Any good semiotician will tell you that meaning is arbitrary when it comes to symbols, so you shouldn’t try to make an argument solely on the fact that an obelisk-shaped structure is here or a pyramid appears there. You have to look at the beliefs of those who had the structures erected or chose those symbols.

    This is what I’m talking about when I say people have to be more responsible when studying this topic.

    “Just because America or USA isn’t in clear text in the Bible, you say “no way”?”

    You’re darn skippy. It is irresponsible to exploit the Scripture in such a way when the meaning is not explicit.

    People have been doing this for ages, claiming that the EU, the Roman Catholic Church, or Israel must be “Mystery Babylon.” Now I guess its America’s turn to be so labelled by people looking here and there for the endtimes.

    The truth is that none of us know what Mystery Babylon is and it is irresponsible to project our own prejudices on the idea.

  8. Timbo,

    This is an argument purely from semiology, which is fragmentary at best. All semioticians agree that the meanings of signs are arbitrary and that different cultures interpret signs differently. In fact, James Billington reveals that signs like the truncated pyramid and all-seeing eye were understood in a radically different context for the early Americans.

    On page 6 of “Fire in the Minds of Men,” Billington draws a clear distinction between the symbolic interpretations of the Promethean revolutionaries and the early Americans:

    “The new reality they (the Promethean revolutionaries) sought was radically secular and stridently simple. The ideal was not the balanced complexity of the new American federation, but the occult simplicity of its great seal: an all-seeing eye atop a pyramid over the words Novus Ordo Seclorum.”

    So, it is clear that the socialist revolutionaries of the Promethean tradition did not seek the balanced complexity of the new American federation, a thematic interpretation that the early Americans superimposed upon the Great Seal. Again, the meaning of signs is purely arbitrary.

    You need to contextualize the signs you’re attempting to interpret within their respect sociocultural milieu. If you don’t do that, then they become analogous to Rorschach inkblots whose meaning can be assigned to satisfy any dubious thesis.

    Beware… this is the same sort of intellectual dishonesty that people like Dan Brown, Acharya S, and Jordan Maxwell are guilty of. These “theoreticians” use dubious etymology in hopes of supporting the baseless claim that Christianity borrows from paganism.

    Likewise, the dubious semiology that you cite can be used to affirm the presuppositions of privately interpreted eschatology.

    Moreover, an argument can’t stand on semiology alone. That is only one fragment in a broader informational gestalt. You also need to draw on historical data to support such contentions.

    My recommendation is that you study up on semiology and amalgamate what you learn with reliable historical data (not conspiracy theorists) before you make such extreme claims.


  9. As for Christians and political activism…

    It is important to note that Dominionism only infects a narrow cross-section of politically active conservative Christians. As of late, the term has been applied with an unhealthy degree of elasticity, resulting in a sort of religious McCarthyism. More and more, politically active Christians are being indiscriminately assigned the stigma of “Dominionist.” Sadly, some of the biggest offenders are other Christians, who typically cite Matthew 4:8-9 as the basis for the non-sequitur that all national governments belong to the Devil and, therefore, all political processes are inherently satanic. Thus, we have the premises for a quasi-Christian form of anarchism.

    First of all, there is no etymological basis for this contention. The term “kingdoms” as it appears in Matthew 4:8-9 is translated from the Greek word basileia, which denotes a territory subject to the rule of a king.

    Indeed, God chastised the Israelites for desiring a king in I Samuel 8:5-17. However, He did not issue any condemnations concerning constitutional democracies or republics. The only form of government that was regarded derisively by the Lord was a monarchial form of rule. Such a description cannot be applied to national governments in the broadest sense. Yet, some Christians make such an unfounded extrapolation.

    The term “government” as it appears in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word kubernesis, which connotes any number of political systems. There is absolutely no etymological continuity between basileia and kubernesis. Context is everything. The quasi-Christian anarchist interpretation of Matthew 4:8-9 only remains logically coherent if the passage is ripped from the matrix of a broader Biblical gestalt and read in isolation.

    Ironically, such an interpretation is inherently Gnostic. Anarchist themes pervade the “meta-parables” delivered by the Gnostic Christ of the Gospel of Thomas. In these “meta-parables,” the Gnostic Christ presents clothing as a metaphor for civic authority and gender. Nudity is invoked as analogue for the abolition of all ordered forms of government. For instance, stanza 21 of the Gospel of Thomas reads:

    “Mary said to Jesus, ‘What are your disciples like?’

    He said, ‘They are like little children living in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say, ‘Give us back our field.’ They take off their clothes in front of them in order to give it back to them, and they return their field to them.'”

    Implicit in this excerpt is the rejection of private property and any sort of civil authority to protect it.

    Such a derision for government overlooks the very fact that God established the pillars of a proper civil authority in the Old Testament. Moreover, it reiterates Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s hypothetical “State of Nature,” which acted as a normative guide for Enlightenment revolutionaries like Robespierre, Saint Just, and the infamous Adam Weishaupt. Not surprisingly, the immanentist Gnostic crusade of communism recruited many anarchists to its ranks. It is, indeed, ironic that so many Christians interpret Matthew 4:8-9 in a manner that more closely reflects the ideas of virulently anti-theistic and Gnostic thinkers.

    Secondly, this quasi-Christian anarchist interpretation of Matthew 4:8-9 overlooks the fact that the Devil is a liar (John 8:44). Thus, one cannot conclude with any certainty that the offer he made to Jesus was truthful. Of course, one might counter with the contention that Jesus would have rebuked Satan for making a false offer. Yet, there is no reason to suppose this because Jesus did not rebuke His false accusers when He was being tried for blasphemy by the Sanhedrin.

    Paying credence to the quasi-Christian anarchist interpretation of Matthew 4:8-9 gives rise to a an apathetic brand of political abdication theology, which constitutes an equally extreme polar opponent to Dominionism. As is the case with all Hegelian dialectics, the dialectic extremes of abdication theology and Dominionist theology produce the same outcome: totalitarianism. The abdication theologian surrenders to totalitarianism, whereas the Dominionist actively creates totalitarianism.

    Again, let’s try to be responsible, folks.

  10. True Christians are one body in unity. It is Christ that unites us, and His word that solely determines truth. “Denominations” are a man-made creation that separate people with false doctrines, religious traditions, and/or ancient pagan practices brought in by the Roman amalgamation of paganism with a “christian” veneer. The true Ekklesia (called out ones) of Jesus Christ exist outside of the control of these man made institutions, and under the headship of Jesus Christ who is the only authority to determine who is or isn’t a member, through the regeneration of our hearts and minds by His Spirit, and His Word (scripture) that is the only authoratative instructions to enter His body. Religious institutions of all sorts often attempt to usurp this authority, and use His name to control people, and serve the desires of those who head the institutions. I assume that’s the point Dagar was making, although I haven’t had a chance to listen yet. If so I agree with him, and don’t believe there is anything whatsoever gnostic about the position.

  11. You don’t believe Dager’s position is Gnostic whatsoever, yet you are echoing Gnostic sentiments yourself.

    You are operating under the assumption that all religious institutions are man-made. Clearly, they are not. To contend that this is the case is to pay credence to the anthropological contention that religion was an artificial construct that rose concurrently with man’s purported evolution. Such a position is taken by individuals like Sir James George Frazer, who treated religion “dispassionately as a cultural phenomenon rather than from a theological perspective.” (See “The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion”) Frazer’s work swiftly became part of the anti-theist’s arsenal against the faith.

    Obviously, Frazer’s position rests upon the bedrock of Darwinism, which qualifies as a Gnostic myth because it dignifies the soteriological claim of self-salvation with the metaphysical claim of self-creation.

    Another danger of Dager’s position is that it could easily descend into the primacy of private interpretation, which, in turn, spirals into subjectivism.

    Again, such contentions synchronize rather comfortably with Gnosticism. Robin Phillips, studied philosophy at London University and received his B.A. [Honors] in Western Civilization from the UK’s Open University, has brilliantly addressed the false contentions presented by those of Dager’s ilk.

    Phillips on the Gnostic myth that “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion”:

    “By relocating the nexus of religion in the private experience of each individual and self-consciously downplaying the public and corporate aspects connoted by the word “religion”, much of contemporary evangelicalism has unknowingly drunk deeply from the wells of Gnosticism. In the process, much of the modern church has lost the categories with which to think about Christendom, viewing the faith primarily through an individualistic lens.”

    Phillips on the Gnostic myth that all institutional religion is intrinsically wrong:

    “Having been suckered into embracing a number of Gnostic dualisms, many modern Christians automatically think that institutional religion is at odds with genuine heart-felt faith, and that whatever we give to the former is less we have for the latter.”

    I recommend you read DeYoung and Kluck’s “Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion” and Stephen Perks’ “Common-Law Wives and Concubines.”

    And, lest we forget, Adam Weishaupt and other closely aligned Enlightenment thinkers had a virtually identical view of religion. Needless to say, the Enlightenment represented a codification of Gnosticism as revolutionary doctrine.

    Again, please do your homework, folks.

  12. It is all an inside Job, the fruit whether good or evil is dominionist thinking. col 1:27 is the real mystery and cannot be taught by man to a spirit who is Christ in you.
    If you don’t know who has the keys to life then all this stuff just applies to the matter of the flesh.
    Keep up the work it will lead you to the truth 2 John 2:22.

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