Palin, Muthee, and the Witch - Journalists Miss the Major Story
The most significant aspects of this story are being missed, especially policy impact of the 1999 "Transformations" video documentary originally discussed in the story. Some journalists have steered the emphasis on Palin's churches toward the denomination of the Assemblies of God and away from the Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation. This is unfortunate, as the significance of both Thomas Muthee and the other activities at Palin's churches does not concern the Assemblies of God or speaking in tongues, but is rooted in the growth of an independent apostolic network that is being rapidly institutionalized worldwide. To understand Palin's churches, attention should be turned toward the Third Wave and the New Apostolic Reformation.
The Muthee story was featured on a video, Transformations, produced in 1999 by George Otis, Jr. and the Sentinel Group. This video, as well as later media produced by Sentinel Group, presented documentation for the effectiveness of some of the activities of the Third Wave. These activities included the use of spiritual mapping to expel territorial demons from their strongholds. This new tool for evangelical missionary work was popularized by Otis and C. Peter Wagner, former professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary. Wagner has continued in the years since to further institutionalize this movement and has given it the name, New Apostolic Reformation. This movement has taken root in numerous Assembly of God churches around the world but is not synonymous with that denomination or any other. The movement is, in fact, drawing people from across the spectrum of Christianity. Leadership defines the movement as the independent, post-denominational, unified church of the end times.
Before describing the Transformations video and its significance, it is important to again note that this movement is not synonymous with the Assemblies of God or any other denomination. The burdensome terminology of Third Wave/New Apostolic Reformation is repeatedly used throughout this series of articles because the terms represent two slightly different meanings. The term Third Wave was coined over two decades ago to describe a loosely linked network of groups that remained or were reemerging from a movement called Latter Rain that was denounced as heresy by the Assemblies of God in 1949. In recent years these groups have coalesced into a much larger and more institutionalized structure. A central figure in the movement is C. Peter Wagner, founder of Global Harvest Ministries and the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs. In the late 1990s Wagner gave the name New Apostolic Network to his organization which now includes over 500 Apostles under his authority, or Apostolic Covering, in the International Coalition of Apostles. Some of these Apostles also have hundreds or even thousands in their own networks. There are numerous other interconnected apostolic networks around the world tied to this movement by their common belief system and also interconnected activities, conventions, media, schools, and parachurch ministries.
Wasilla Assembly of God, where Sarah Palin attended until 2002 and continues to visit, and Juneau Christian Church, where Palin attends when in residence at the capital, have close links to major leadership and organizations in this movement. Ed Kalnins, seen in the above pictures with Thomas Muthee, is senior pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God. The books they are distributing are by Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar Ministries, and John Bevere. Wasilla Assembly of God has very close ties with Morningstar and uses curriculum in their Master's Commission program produced by Morningstar's prophecy director, Steve Thompson, and curriculum by John Bevere.
The Transformation I video features the story of four cities that the narrator, George Otis, Jr, claims have been transformed through the power of intercessory prayer and the expulsion of demons. The video served the purpose of introducing the revolutionary new evangelizing methods developed by C. Peter Wagner and his colleagues. The use of Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare to expel territorial demons is facilitated by Spiritual Mapping and then intercessory prayer and fasting. The World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs developed by Wagner and Ted Haggard houses the computer systems for organizing the prayer intercessors as well as the Spiritual Mapping media. The video was based on the book Breaking the Strongholds in Your City: How to Use Spiritual Mapping to Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Effective and Targeted.See the second book review for a good summary.
The first Transformations video featured the successes of this spiritual warfare process in four cities - Cali, Colombia; Kiambu, Kenya; Hemet, California; and Almolonga, Guatemala. The videos claim to show dramatic transformations in each of these cities after groups of born again believers target the source of the demonic influence and then use intercessory prayer to drive out the demons.
The section on Kiambu, Kenya features the story of Thomas Muthee who brought together over 200 born again Christians to drive a witch from the city. Link here to the article and video for more on that story, including extensive documentation, and here for the Christian Science Monitor article on Muthee.
George Otis, Jr., the narrator states that the witch claimed to be a Christian and had a sign for the Emmanuel Clinic on her property. Muthee believed that God had pointed out this woman as the source of witchcraft and spiritual oppression that was keeping the town from receiving the gospel. The movie shows celebrating believers in the streets after the woman has been driven from town. Otis claims that after the believers took authority over the town, all the bars were remodeled into churches, crime and alcoholism were reduced, and the town began to enjoy a new prosperity.
The third town featured in the movie is Hemet, California. Otis and two local pastors narrate the supposed transformation of this Hemet/San Jacinto area from a center of Satanism, witchcraft, Moonies, Transcendental Meditation, and Scientology. He reports that Hemet had serious gang and drug problems. In this segment Otis describes how Spiritual Mapping was used to direct the prayer intercessors in fighting the strongholds of the enemy. Pastor Bob Beckett of the Dwelling Place Church organized intercessory prayer to save the city. Otis reports,
"The Transcendental Meditation center was literally burned out. Shortly after the intercessors prayed for its removal, a brush fire started on the mountain on the west side of the valley. It burned only the Transcendental Meditation facility and didn't touch any of the buildings on either side."
Consequently Otis claims that the drug trade dropped 75% and many gang members as well as other residents have been saved. Beckett states that the city now has "a professing mayor, a professing police chief, a professing fire chief, and a professing city manager."
The mayor, Debbie Cornett, is interviewed and states,
I feel that God called me to this...I see him opening doors to more churches, more Christians, to really bring them together and say you want Christians in leadership."
Pastor Beckett adds that the city now has an exceptional number of high school teachers, coaches and principals that are believers and that now nearly 85% of staff candidates are Christians. (Beckett also authored a chapter in C. Peter Wagner's book, Breaking Strongholds.) Pastor Gordon Houston states that God has turned the school system around.
The last city segment features Almolonga, Guatemala. Otis begins this segment by claiming that Almolongo is now 80% born again after the transformation of this town of about 19,000. Again he tells of a town in the grip of demonic strongholds, this time the demons of folk deities and syncretism. He states that previously the gospel could not take hold and evangelical Christians were a despised minority. Again a group of intercessors prayed and "after many signs and wonders and deliverances from demonic possession" the town was transformed. Otis then catalogs the miraculous changes in this once poor town plagued with crime and alcoholism. He claims that all four jails have been closed as there is no longer crime. Two dozen evangelical churches have replaced 36 bars and cantinas. The streets and buildings have been renamed after biblical places. But more remarkably Otis claims that this spiritual transformation has healed the land and revived the agricultural economy. Harold Cabelleros, founder of El Shaddai Church in Guatemala City, claims that Almolonga farmers now have three harvest per year, and that once God came to town, the harvest time for a radish dropped from 60 days to 40, and then 25.
He continues to say,
"There is a parallel between people's faith and improving the soil. At the same time people started believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the vegetables started growing."Gigantic vegetables are shown as evidence of the transformation.
Mell Winger adds,
"The wisdom that God gave the farmers in Almolonga produced a better crop than the scientific method yielded."The Protestant churches are described as very active and very militant with many members still fasting as often as three times a week and continuing to assault the forces of darkness.
Cabelleros also contributed to Wagner's 1993 book, Breaking Strongholds in Your City. Mell Winger was the director of the Bible Institute at El Shaddai Church in Guatemala City and later served with Ted Haggard at New Life Church, which shares the campus of the World Prayer Center. See Richard Bartholomew's Notes on Religion.
This video has been shown all over the world and has helped to popularize the idea that spiritual transformation through spiritual mapping, intercessory prayer, and the expulsion of demonic influences is the only effective method of transforming society. Transformation became a buzzword that was used by not only the Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation movement, but by those who believe that only faith-based transformation and placement of born again Christians in leadership results in true societal change.
Link to all articles and videos in the series: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/9/5/114652/6239.
Palin, Muthee, and the Witch - Journalists Miss the Major Story | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden)
Palin, Muthee, and the Witch - Journalists Miss the Major Story | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden)