Connections between New Life and Yonggi Cho?
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Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 10:39:51 AM EST
I've been informing readers on Talk2Action for some time about the antics of Paul Yonggi Cho nee David Yonggi Cho--the founder of Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul (which is now probably the largest single church worldwide--a reported 900,000 members, largely through satellite congregations throughout South Korea) and now the head of the World Assemblies of God Council, and one of the major forces (if not the major force, in some areas) behind injection of "spiritual warfare" theology throughout the pente and neopente movements.

Most infamously, Cho is strongly connected with the spread of "Third Wave" pentecostalism, most well known from the Toronto and Brownsville "revivals"--a movement which is dominionist in its base theology and which expressly embraces the concept of "spiritual warfare" against, well, the rest of us (as so dramatised in the "Left Behind" books and video-game).  

And, as it turns out, Cho has links to none other than Ted Haggard's New Life Church.  Read on below.

I will admit, for starters, that I have a wee bit of personal interest in Cho and his role in promotion of the "Third Wave" toxicity.  This is in part because I am a survivor of the first church he tried to breed a "Brownsville" revival at--many of the horror-stories I've told you about my own experiences in dominionism are in fact from a church that has practiced Cho's theology nearly since its founding, and which is still to this day a de facto center of one of the more extreme dominionist groups in the state (one of its head deacons is head of the Kentucky AFA as well as an affiliated group, "Freedom's Heritage Forum", and the AFA illegally distributes voter's guides every election during church meetings handed out by none other than Simon himself).

To say I'm familiar with what happens to a church when Cho's theology infects it is an understatement; hence my valid concern about links between Rick Warren and Cho.  In that article, I highlight some of Cho's more notorious activities (including the details of his involvement with the very church I escaped).

A church that practices frighteningly similar practices to the church I escaped is New Life Church in Colorado Springs--yes, the same New Life Church that Ted Haggard runs and which is now de facto head of the National Association of Evangelicals--the same Ted Haggard now seen as one of the "young blood" leaders of the dominionist movement.  The landmark Harper's article Soldiers of Christ gives some of the details:

New Life began with a prophecy. In November 1984 a missionary friend of Pastor Ted's, respected for his gifts of discernment, made him pull over on a bend of Highway 83 as they were driving, somewhat aimlessly, in the open spaces north of the city. Pastor Ted--then twenty-eight, given to fasting and oddly pragmatic visions (he believes he foresaw Internet prayer networks before the Internet existed)--had been wondering why God had called him from near Baton Rouge, where he had been associate pastor of a megachurch, to this bleak city, then known as a "pastor's graveyard." The missionary got out of the car and squinted. He crouched down as if sniffing the ground. "This," said the missionary, "this will be your church. Build here."

So Pastor Ted did. First, he started a church in his basement. The pulpit was three five-gallon buckets stacked one atop the other, and the pews were lawn chairs. A man who lived in a trailer came round if he remembered it was Sunday and played guitar. Another man got the Spirit and filled a five-gallon garden sprayer with cooking oil and began anointing nearby intersections, then streets and buildings all over town. Pastor Ted told his flock to focus their prayers on houses with FOR SALE signs so that more Christians would come and join him. Once Pastor Ted and another missionary accidentally set off an alarm and hid together in a field while the police investigated. It was for a good cause, Pastor Ted would say; they were praying for the building to be taken off the market so it could someday be purchased for a future ministry. (It was.)

He was always on the lookout for spies. At the time, Colorado Springs was a small city split between the Air Force and the New Age, and the latter, Pastor Ted believed, worked for the devil. Pastor Ted soon began upsetting the devil's plans. He staked out gay bars, inviting men to come to his church; his whole congregation pitched itself into invisible battles with demonic forces, sometimes in front of public buildings. One day, while he was working in his garage, a woman who said she'd been sent by a witches' coven tried to stab Pastor Ted with a five-inch knife she pulled from a leg sheath; Pastor Ted wrestled the blade out of her hand. He let that story get around. He called the evil forces that dominated Colorado Springs--and every other metropolitan area in the country--"Control."

Sometimes, he says, Control would call him late on Saturday night, threatening to kill him. "Any more impertinence out of you, Ted Haggard," he claims Control once told him, "and there will be unrelenting pandemonium in this city." No kidding! Pastor Ted hadn't come to Colorado Springs for his health; he had come to wage "spiritual war."

He moved the church to a strip mall. There was a bar, a liquor store, New Life Church, a massage parlor. His congregation spilled out and blocked the other businesses. He set up chairs in the alley. He strung up a banner: SIEGE THIS CITY FOR ME, signed JESUS. He assigned everyone in the church names from the phone book they were to pray for. He sent teams to pray in front of the homes of supposed witches--in one month, ten out of fifteen of his targets put their houses on the market. His congregation "prayer-walked" nearly every street of the city.

I should probably not have been surprised, in that light, to see that New Life Church has tangible links with Cho and--via a church in Guatemala--may well have been the second big church in the US to be infected with "Cho Madness".

Bartholomew's Notes gives more info:

(Rev. Doug) Giles's brother-in-law Mell Winger (or "Mel Winger") has a doctorate from Fuller Theological seminary, where it looks like (based on his theology) he studied under C. Peter Wagner, who promotes an interesting worldview based on constant "Spiritual Warfare" against demons. He is currently district pastor at New Life Church near the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, working under Ted Haggard (see below). Previously, however, he was a pastor at Trinity Church in Lubbock (now run by a follower of Kenneth Hagin) and the director of the Bible Institute of El Shaddai Church in Guatemala City (1).

The link to El Shaddai throws up warning-flags a-plenty to me, partly because I've only heard "El Shaddai" used as a church name in the neopente community (and in particular in regards to Assemblies churches), and El Shaddai is linked to the Assemblies--and to Cho:
(1) El Shaddai was set up by a pastor close to TL Osborn, and has had links with members of the global neo-Pentecostal "A-List", such as the Korean Pastor Formerly Known as Paul Yonggi Cho (now David) and (the late) Nigerian Benson Idahosa. Serrano Elías, Guatemalan president from 1991-93, was a member.

So we have connections not only with Cho, but the attempts by the FGBMFI to hijack governments throughout Latin America as documented by none other than the Peace Corps.  

(Elías, of note, was a dominionist candidate elected in 1990 in what was only the second free election in Guatemala since 1953, and is best well known for having illegally suspended the constitution and dismissing Guatemala's congress and Supreme Court in an attempt at an auto-coup and--in a pattern that is the remarkable reverse of most of these sorts of things in Latin America--the military literally had to overthrow him to restore democratic rule to the country.  He's also been suspected of harbouring persons connected with the previous military government linked to extreme human rights abuses, particularly against the Mayan population.  He is also a former member of the military government himself, having served under General Rios Montt who is connected to the FGBMFI and is responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses documented in Guatemala including frank genocide; in large part it was Montt's abuses that led to the establishment of civilian government in Guatemala in the first place, later to be interrupted by Elías' dominionist coup.)

Cho's theology--aside from being heavily connected to some of the worst episodes in Guatemalan history--seems to have influenced Winger, and by extension New Life--and not in a positive way.  Among other things, the Bartholomew's Notes article recounts how Winger and his wife are reported to have literally cursed Doug Giles (most well known for promoting "manly Christianity" and "spiritual warfare" theology himself) in the name of Christ in his initial attempts to walk away, according to this Dutch sympathiser:

Some dear friends of mine, Mell and Paula Winger, have seen many family members come to Christ as they have faithfully interceded for them through the years. The testimony regarding Paula's younger brother is especially powerful:

Doug Giles had an extremely ungodly lifestyle and was living in total rebellion. He hated the gospel message and was so repelled by our faith in Christ that he would leave the house when we came for dinner. We began devoting one night each week to pray and fast for Doug's salvation. We did this weekly for a year and a half, praying that he would be able to see the truth of the gospel, binding the spirit of rebellion that was controlling him and asking God to soften his heart so that he might be drawn to Him. Then, although we were no longer setting aside every Monday night to intercede for him, we continued to pray these and other principles for Doug during the next six years. Finally, one night while attending a Christian concert, he received Christ as his Savior. That was 17 years ago, and today Doug has a powerful evangelistic ministry based out of Miami, Florida.

Sadly, it looks as if Giles himself may have been the victim of being forced into dominionism--a story all too common, and indicative of the levels of spiritual and mental abuse all too common in these groups.

Winger himself has some definitely odd ideas and seems to be one of the big parties behind the pushing of "spiritual warfare" at New Life:

Winger has an interesting take on Guatemala's socio-economic problems, clearly based on Wagner's demonology. Discussing the town of Almolonga:

About 25 years ago, the Church was small and weak, the fields were undeveloped and the city was characterized by an alcohol-induced lethargy - the fruit of serving an idol named Maxirnon.  This perverse idol is associated with the vices of smoking, drinking liquor, and immorality.  Maximon is a 3-foot idol consisting of a clay mask and a wood and cloth body.  He receives the kisses of the faithful who kneel before him.  Placing at his feet bottles of liquor purchased with their meagre earnings, they hope against hope that their offering will bring blessing and healing.  The priest   offers lit cigars to the idol, and taking a mouthful of the liquor offering, spews it over the devotees.  The followers leave expecting a blessing, perhaps receiving a demonic display of power, but nonetheless slipping deeper and deeper into an abyss of oppression.

But following mass conversions, exorcisms and a resurrection from the dead, all is now well, with Godliness and (nod to Max Weber and David Martin) a new work ethic:

This work ethic has produced an economic renewal, an incredible dimension of community transformation throughout Airnolonga.  There is no evidence of the unemployment, the beggars, the drunkards asleep in alleyways, or the loiterers that so often characterize similar places.

Winger, like Giles, sees spiritual warfare in masculine terms: he has a book entitled Fight on Your Knees: Calling Men to Action Through Transforming Prayer. According to the blurb:

For the Christian man the battle rages in unseen realms, and he's got to wield God's mighty weapon for warfare. He's got to pray. Instead of "Stand up and fight," his war cry must be "Kneel down and pray!" He understands that spiritual battles require godly tactics. He wrestles until he wins the war.

Fight on Your Knees inspires and equips men like you to pray for families, churches, cities, and nations--and to guard and strengthen yourself against the enemy's onslaughts. This book compiles writings by fourteen men of various ethnic and professional backgrounds, Christian leaders such as Bill McCartney, Steve Shanklin, Ted Haggard, Dutch Sheets, and Dale Schlafer. Their words will challenge and encourage you to enlist in the growing army of intercessors. God is calling men to war through prayer, and you can join them. You can fight on your knees and win.

Winger also promotes the idea of the "prayer shield", and headlines Exodus 15:3: "The Lord is a man of War: The Lord is his name".

(That last bit is a rather interesting bit of scripture-twisting common in "spiritual warfare" circles. This verse is in fact part of a longer part of Exodus 15 where the ancient Israelis were thanking God for the defeat of the pursuing Pharoah (and specifically for swallowing up the Egyptian pursuers in the Red Sea after they'd crossed).)

Though it shouldn't be surprising--it IS disturbing nonetheless.  One has to wonder just how many churches are infected by this--and just how far the links between modern dominionism and Cho go.


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