The "Lions In the Pews"
(Some terms are capitalized to distinguish them as having particular religious meanings.)
The title of this article was borrowed from one of several Dominionist authors who are currently promoting the idea of "prophetic fusion" or the convergence of the different strands of Christian Dominionism into a great force to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth now. A rapidly growing component of this fusion of Dominionists is the New Apostolic Reformation.
The New Apostolic Reformation could be viewed as a parallel movement of some of the more familiar Dominionist groups that are often discussed on this site. But this strand has emerged from Pentecostal and Charismatic backgrounds and has been nearly invisible to both the mainstream press and progressive writers. Like other Dominionists the New Apostolics are culture warriors and have specific stated goals for overtaking all spheres of American society and government as seen in the video above. Also, like other dominionist groups they actually invest much of their efforts in fighting the traditional institutionalized church. However, they differ from most other Dominionist groups in their embrace of the outpouring of gifts of the holy spirit, or manifestations, like being slain in the spirit, Holy Laughter, and other states of altered consciousness that are a part of their very experiential worship style. The New Apostolic Reformation is also much more focused on the expulsion of demons as the process for healing, social reform, or even raising people from the dead. They have a unique and extensive lingo that is dedicated to the description of the expulsion of territorial demons including terms like ground level spiritual warfare, occult level spiritual warfare, and strategic level spiritual warfare.
While Pentecostal churches have always celebrated a restoration of the church, this has been tempered with Rapture theology. As churches embrace this Apostolic revolution they are moving away from the traditions of Assemblies of God and other denominations and are adopting a view of the end time that includes the triumph and perfection of the church as opposed to escaping in the Rapture from an evil world descending into the apocalypse. They see the imminent end times as a time of great glory for the restored true Apostolic church greater than the one of New Testament times, and a time when the foot soldiers of this church will be imparted with supernatural powers. This outpouring of powers will allow them to crush evil with a "rod of iron" and deliver a purified church to Jesus when he returns. Their schedule is even more pressing than many in other Dominionist groups because their hybrid mixture of end time beliefs maintains the urgency of an imminent return of Jesus. The writer whose title I borrowed for this article states, "This growing army of delivered, discipled and deployed Christians are now prepared to become active participants in the cosmic battle for every area of God's terra-firma."
Many of the statistics that are being published in articles about Palin's churches are basically correct in their analysis of Assemblies of God. It is true that recent surveys of pastors in this denomination, report that over ninety percent believe in a premillennial return of Jesus, but only a little more than half of these pastors are Dispensational. Dispensationalism is the theological term for the end time narrative of the Rapture before the Tribulation, like the narrative popularized in the fictional portrayals of the Left Behind books and by televangelist John Hagee.) The individual churches that have become involved in the New Apostolic Reformation do not automatically alter their endtime beliefs, or change their faith statements to match those of other Dominionist groups, but instead gradually make subtle changes to allow for a triumph of the church in the physical earth before Jesus returns. While the alterations in the narrative may be subtle, the change in the perceived mandate for these believers is dramatic. In the doomsday scenario of Dispensationalism, the true believers are snatched from the earth in order to enjoy their heavenly reward and the evil are "left behind" to suffer the consequences of their unbelief. In the evolving end time beliefs of the New Apostolic Reformation, the triumphant church becomes the army of God to cleanse the earth and punish the evil themselves.
Sometimes the alteration to the Dispensational narrative is as simple as changing the Rapture to mean a spiritual outpouring by Jesus onto his Apostles and Prophets. The leadership is leading the way in their willingness to reject the Dispensational Rapture doctrine.
Rick Joyner, founder of Morningstar Ministries, is viewed from both inside and outside of the movement as one its major prophetic writers. His numerous books can be purchased around the globe including (and this writer can vouch for this) bookstores in Africa and Asia. Joyner writes,
"The doctrine of the Rapture was a great and effective ruse of the enemy to implant in the church a retreat mentality but it won't succeed. Already this yoke has been cast off by the majority of the advancing church, and it will soon be cast off by all..."
But the urgency is still there if the Rapture is not. Steve Thompson, Head of Prophecy at Morningstar Ministries, located outside Charlotte. Thompson has traveled to Wasilla to led prophetic conferences. He explains that urgency.
"See, Jesus is waiting - seated at the right hand of the Father, having all authority on Heaven and on Earth, having commissioned and empowered and deployed his disciples to go out to enforce the victory and the judgment that he won over the enemy and waiting until his people rise up and demonstrate their glory and those enemies are put under the feet of the body of Christ."
Bob Jones in his "Shepherd's Rod for 2001" prophecy says,
The youth are going to begin to convert the shame associated with this generation to honor and glory for the Lord and His anointing. Whenever the reference is made concerning youth, it is denoting those born since the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade... It will be the role of this present generation to become "fathers" to the younger generation and disciple them in becoming the great army the Lord desires to use before His return.
John Bevere teaches the thousand-day-year of God or Third Day theology. By his calculations Jesus will return in 2028 or 2029.
Another leader and author, Francis Frangipane, redefines the Rapture as the spiritual gathering together of Christ's body on earth. In other words a perfected and triumphant church will come together in one body representing Christ on earth before Christ's return.
Sarah Palin's church in which she was baptized and attended for over two decades, maintains a 3-year post high school program costing $8,000 per year, which inculcates Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation ideas. The Wasilla Assemblies of God Master's Commission uses curriculum designed by Steve Thompson, Francis Frangipane and John Bevere. The Master's Commission students flew from Alaska to participate in a prophecy conference led by Rick Joyner, Steve Thompson and Bob Jones at Morningstar Ministries earlier this year. The Master's Commission posted pictures they had taken of these Apostolic and Prophetic leaders on their website. Sarah Palin spoke at the ceremony of this year's Master Commission graduating class. See this video featuring Steve Thompson and Morningstar Ministries.
One person who has taken this message to those born after 1973 seriously is Todd Bentley, who was, until a few weeks ago, the healer at the Lakeland Outpouring revival. In his personal testimony on his ministry website Bentley states,
Bob (Bob Jones) told me that I'm part of the "first fruits wave of a billion people that are going to be lit on fire. My life is a message, a prophetic signpost of what God wants to do with millions of others....The Lord said, "I have a hidden, secret army around the earth that I will enlist and uncover at My time....In My time, even in a day, I will uncover a new breed of apostles pastors, prophets, and teachers - a new breed of ministry. You are one of many first fruits of an entire army that I am equipping in these days."
See the article at Southern Poverty Law Center on Todd Bentley and Joel's Army and this video of Todd Bentley repeatedly kicking a cancer patient during a healing service. (Comments added to this video are not this authorís.) Note Bentleyís statement that he is doing Godís will. Ed Kalnins also traveled to Lakeland to participate in Bentley's revival in May of this year.
(Photograph is C. Peter Wagner, Convening Apostle and other Apostles leading the anointing of Todd Bentley at the Lakeland Outpouring. Rick Joyner is the bearded man behind him.)
Among recent articles claiming that Palin's churches are typical of Assemblies of God was a quote from an expert claiming that a researcher working on this project on Palin's churches is "mixing up a bunch of stuff." The Third Wave is indeed a mixture of a number of strands that remained from the Latter Rain movement of the 1940s and 50s as well as more recent incarnations of related ideas found in a number of different revival movements over the last few decades. Some of the strands making up the Third Wave came from groups referred to as Word-Faith, Prosperity Doctrine, Maranatha, the Vineyard Movement, the Lauderdale Five and the Shepherding Movement, the Kansas City Prophets, the Toronto Airport Blessing, and more. What the expert in that article failed to acknowledge is that segments of this mixed group are rapidly coalescing into a more organized structure and belief system under the auspices of the New Apostolic Reformation and similar interconnected international Apostolic networks. The New Apostolic Reformation was coined by the convening Apostle, C. Peter Wagner less than a decade ago and has rapidly pulled these various threads into a powerful and more structured international movement. Wagner claims that the New Apostolic Age began in 2001.
The New Apostolic Reformation is pulling its growing numbers from across all denominational lines but has made inroads into a number of churches that are members of the Assemblies of God, just as the Latter Rain forerunner of this movement did in the 1940s. While the ranks of the movement are being filled with nondenominational churches and parachurch ministries, they are also drawing in large numbers of existing Pentecostal churches worldwide.
Wagner himself reports that the only national denomination that has fully embraced their "new wave" is the Australian Assemblies of God. Under the direction of former Superintendent Andrew Evans, this denomination experienced phenomenal growth as they increasingly embraced the "signs and wonders" of the Apostolic movement. Despite controversy and resistance from more traditional Assembly of God leaders, the denomination's move toward these beliefs included a name change to Australian Christian Churches in 2007. This is a part of the effort to become a unified and nondenominational entity that can absorb other churches. This new designation now includes a number of former Pentecostal denominations in "voluntary cooperation." The Australian Christian Church is now headed by Brian Houston, head of the Hillsong Church and Hillsong's international network of ministries. Hillsong is Australia's largest church and Houston is a internationally known figure in the Third Wave/ New Apostolic Reformation.
As is the case of many revivalist or restoration movements, members of the New Apostolic Reformation view the traditional or institutionalized church as the major obstacle to their success, and in this case, their ability to triumph over the earth.
In his articles on "Civil War in the church," Rick Joyner claims that this war, like the American Civil War, will be between the "grays" and the "blues." Joyner and other leaders frequently repeat this theme. The "grays" represent the institutionalized existing church which he claims is mired in legalism and "lives by the power of their own brains." Meanwhile the "blues" represent those joining in the new knowledge and supernatural outpouring of visions and miracles. According to Joyner the "grays" must accept the outpouring of the Latter Rain and end their escapist fantasies about the Rapture. The victorious church will put all enemies under her feet. The old church represents spiritual slavery and oppression. Joyner believes that many who view themselves as Christians will be on the wrong side of this war. According to Joyner,
"Then I turned and saw the army of the Lord standing behind me. There were thousands of soldiers, but they were still greatly outnumbered. I was shocked and disheartened as it seemed that there were actually many more Christians being used by the evil one than there were in the army of the Lord. I also knew that the battle that was about to begin was going to be viewed as The Great Christian Civil War because very few would understand the powers that were behind the impending conflict."
However, despite being outnumbered, this new church will win the war because God has imparted special spiritual powers and secret wisdom to the true believers.
Final Quest, which is an account of a prophetic vision to Joyner, also includes a meeting with an eagle. The eagle says to Joyner,
"You want to know who we are. We are the hidden prophets who have been kept for this hour. We are the eyes of those who have been given the divinely powerful weapons. We have been shown all that the Lord is doing, and all that the enemy is planning against you.
The eagle in his vision represents the "hidden knowledge that has been saved for this hour." You can see this prophetic eagle with the secret wisdom on Morningstar Ministries' logo as well as the logo of many of the ministries associated with the movement. A number of other leaders have had prophetic visions of eagles and some have named their ministries for these visions. C. Peter Wagner's inner circle is called the Eagle's Vision Apostolic Team.
The ability for those anointed with special gifts "to see what the enemy is doing" is used in spiritual mapping and spiritual warfare. The World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs was built with the assistance of Ted Haggard, who at the time led the New Life Church which adjoins the facility. It is used as the central nerve center for compiling spiritual mapping data. Lee Grady of Charisma Magazine describes the World Prayer Center as the spiritual version of the Pentagon. He should know. Both Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine, and the publisher, Stephen Strang of Strang Communications, are currently listed as Apostles in Wagner's International Coalition of Apostles.
The spiritual warfare specialists worked with C. Peter Wagner and George Otis, Jr. to compile testimonies about taking cities through the expulsion of territorial demons. . (Otis is son of the late George Otis, Sr. who was the former head of the Christian Broadcast Network in the Middle East.)
These testimonies of "transformation" were compiled in a book authored by Wagner and another book by Otis. Then four of these accounts were used in the Transformations movie produced by the Sentinel Group and featured in the previous article, Palin, Muthee, and the Witch. Muthee is known throughout the movement for his role in the first Transformations movie and has also served on the board of the World Prayer Center International.
Ed Kalnins, Senior Pastor of Wasilla Assembly of God, is a close associate of Muthee and both have traveled across the Atlantic to visit each other's ministries. Muthee has spoken at Wasilla numerous times and anointed Sarah Palin before she became Governor of Alaska. In a previous article in this series are photographs of Kalnins and Muthee displaying some copies of the books by Joyner and books by John Bevere, whose texts are used in the Wasilla Master's Commission training on authority.
Ed Kalnins states that Francis Frangipane is his "spiritual father" and, according to Kalnins, his Wasilla church helped launch Frangipane's ministry by raising funds. Kalnins recently traveled to both Lakeland to attend the Lakeland Outpouring, a healing revival led by Todd Bentley, and to Morningstar Ministries. He brought back an anointing to his congregation which was delivered by the laying on of hands during a service on May 25, 2008. Morningstar Prophecy director Steve Thompson and John and Lisa Bevere have made repeated visits to Wasilla Assembly of God.
Ed Kalnins of Wasilla Assembly of God is actively preaching and teaching theology which comes directly from the leadership of the New Apostolic Reformation/Third Wave. Kalnins has stated in sermons his desire that his church be Apostolic. This is Kingdom theology and Kalnins is quite open and blatant about the need for his church to take control for the Kingdom, starting with Wasilla and Alaska.
While it is very true that Palin's churches may officially still retain mention of the Rapture in some form, there is absolutely nothing in these sermons, associations and activities to indicate that they are waiting around to be snatched from the earth. Conversely, they are intent on taking control of society and government in the here and now.
The naming of Sarah Palin as a vice presidential candidate has given this research new urgency. However continuing exposure of the beliefs and influence of the New Apostolic Reformation should be a top priority for those who are working to maintain the separation of church and state. Religion writers who do not make the distinction between the aggressive Kingdom activities of these churches and traditional Assemblies of God beliefs are doing their readers a great disservice.
The "Lions In the Pews" | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
The "Lions In the Pews" | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)