Sherman Also Teaches Dominionism

Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa

Dean Sherman is one of the many proponents of dominionism. In his book, Spiritual Warfare for Every Christian (YWAM Publishing, Seattle, 1995) he devotes special attention to this subject in Chapter 8, Using Your God-given Authority. According to his teaching, divine authority is to be used by Christians to incapacitate the kingdom of Satan in order to start ruling the world on behalf of Christ.

In Chapter 8, Sherman begins by explaining that God “gave man free will, as well as dominion or authority... and He has never taken it back” (p. 118). He then indicates that, due to the disobedience of our first parents, this delegated authority landed in the hands of Satan: “God transferred some of His authority to man, so man passed it on to Satan” (p. 119).

Under a subheading, Jesus handed back what we had given away, Sherman says: “Jesus also gave us authority to exercise: ‘Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you’ (Luke 10:19)... Every demon, every coven, every cult and religion, every work and every influence – is subject to the authority given to us by Jesus... The authority legally changed hands once more and belonged to man again... If we don’t rebuke the devil, he will not be rebuked. If we don’t drive him back, he will not leave. It is up to us... We need to go ahead and exercise our authority in Jesus’ name” (p. 130-132).

The author bases a great deal of his argument on 1 John 4:4, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” He then rebukes Christians for not using this great power and authority: “Many Christians have never lived a minute of victory or peace since their salvation... How are we going to take on principalities over nations if we can’t be victorious?” (p. 128).  He makes it very clear that our responsibility does not end with personal victories over sin and temptation since we are, according to him, specifically empowered to attack and remove evil principalities over nations. This is strategic spiritual warfare aimed at pulling down the strongholds of Satan in the world. He says that a lone warrior of Christ can achieve anything:

“Do we really believe that Jesus and any one Christian are stronger than any force in the universe? Is there any place I can go where the forces around me are stronger than Jesus in me? ... This secular, humanistic, and even satanic society is less than that which is in every Christian” (p. 129). He says that if we don’t engage in the battle we are responsible for the perpetuation of Satan’s rule on earth: “We must deal with the enemy. He is a defeated foe, but will successfully hold his ground until we exercise our God-given authority against him” (p. 134).

Sherman also quotes Romans 8:35-39 to show that there is no power in the world that can separate us from the love of God. He is convinced that we can confidently wage the war of conquering the world for God and assuming our role as kings and co-rulers with Christ.

Evaluation

A superficial reading of Dean Sherman may lead to the wrong conclusion that he is a man who understands and correctly applies biblical promises – a believer who is committed to using his divine authority to its fullest potential in the battle against Satan. His vision to liberate humanity from the oppressive influence of evil forces might sound courageous to many. Should this ideal be realized it would lead to a dramatic manifestation of God’s kingdom on earth.

However, hard evidence of major victories against Satan’s kingdom is sadly lacking in the US and elsewhere. Are weak Christians to be blamed for this state of affairs or is Sherman distorting our divine mandate to proclaim Christ in the world? A close examination of the author’s teaching reveals a dangerous lack of correct dispensational understanding of the Bible. He wrongly interprets key aspects of the struggle between righteousness and evil in the church dispensation and also makes a mockery of continued spiritual warfare against principalities, powers and rulers of the world which have, according to him, legally lost their power base after the first coming of Christ. He teaches that these evil powers can quickly be removed, even by individual Christians who are brave and enterprising enough to drive them out.

What scriptural evidence does he advance for the rapid obliteration of evil? The section in Romans 8:35-39 describes quite another scenario as the one that Sherman has in mind. Here it is shown that Christians are involved in a prolonged battle in which they may be confronted with tribulation, distress, and persecution driven by evil forces. They may even die as martyrs for Christ. But none of these things can change or shake their faith. To prevail spiritually, clearly does not mean that they have the power to pull down evil strongholds in society and to rule over the enemy. It simply means that although they might be opposed, persecuted or killed in the struggle, nobody can snatch them from God’s hand. This promise does not even give the slightest hint of Christians being empowered to conquer and rule the world. They are sojourners and pilgrims in the present evil world (1 Pet. 2:11; Gal. 1:4).

The promise given to the 72 disciples in Luke 10:19 that they would have authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, was only given for this particular situation. It served the same purpose as the special signs that followed the preaching of the early apostles, as stated in Mark 16:17-18. Profs John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 196) say:

“These verses list five kinds of signs which would attend those who believe. Signs are supernatural events attesting the divine origin of the apostolic message (cf. Mark 16:20). The signs authenticated the faith the early believers proclaimed, not the personal faith that any one of them exercised. In light of this and historical evidence it is reasonable to conclude that these authenticating signs were normative only for the apostolic era (cf. 2 Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4).”

If Christians were indeed commanded to drive Satan out and deprive him of his power bases the Bible would not have been so clear about the fact that we would, during this age, always be faced by evil and that it would proliferate in the end-time, leading to the great tribulation under the leadership of the dragon (Satan) the Antichrist and false prophet. Satan will only be dethroned as ruler at the second coming of Christ, when he will be incarcerated in the bottomless pit for one thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).

Despite these scriptural facts there are many Christian teachers such as Dean Shermon, George Otis, Cindy Jacobs, Ted Haggard, Peter Wagner and others who entertain different views. They have a big following worldwide, but notable success in terms of their own objectives keeps on evading them. South Africa also has its share of kingdom-now experiments. A Christian from a town in the Western Cape noted the following incidents: “A certain brother came very sincerely in the name of the Lord Jesus to bind the devil and stop his destructive work in our town. Shortly afterwards this brother left the town, but he also left behind the devil – as loose as ever! Other brothers followed his example and again attempted to bind Satan and pull down his strongholds, but without success.”

The same can be said about scores of similar efforts by groups of people who attempted to oust the devil and his territorial spirits from countries such as America, Turkey and Israel, or from cities such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, New York, Washington, London and Cape Town. Prayer-walks without witnessing to the lost are rife, and missionaries who do not participate in the ill-conceived methods, stand to lose their credibility and financial support among kingdom-now believers who have an overwhelming propensity for sensational and dramatic events.

The Bible promises each believer personal victory in the struggle against the devil, but the world at large will further deteriorate towards the end as sin will be rampant in a rebellious and Christ-rejecting world. This will lead to the great tribulation under the wicked rule of the Antichrist (Matt. 24:21). We must fight the good fight of faith until Christ comes (1 Tim. 6:12; Luke 21:36). His kingdom will only be publicly manifested when He comes as King of kings – not before the time.