Connections between New Life and Yonggi Cho?
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."
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:
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:
(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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