Prayer Warriors of the New Apostolic Reformation Getting Some Exposure
The article is titled "Prayer Warriors and Sarah Palin are Organizing Spiritual Warfare to Take Over America" and begins with a list of recent political activity by leading apostles including Lou Engle, Mary Glazier, Samuel Rodriguez, Ed Silvoso, Julius Oyet, Stephen Strang, Tom Hess, and Jim Ammerman. While these may not yet be household names, the influence of these leaders can be seen from the U.S. to Uganda to Israel. In many ways the movement more closely resembles an international political campaign than a new denomination. In some cities prayer warriors are assigned street by street, and in numerous international locations the NAR is promoting their ideology to military and police forces.
The Resource Directory for the New Apostolic Reformation in the side panel of Talk2action is an attempt to map out the structure, leadership, and activities of this under publicized movement which is organized under the authority of apostles around the globe.
Presiding Apostle C. Peter Wagner states,
"The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work of God that began at the close of the twentieth century and continues on. It is, to a significant extent, changing the shape of the Protestant world."
As the movement's primary architect, Wagner sees the New Apostolic Reformation as more than a new denomination, but as a dramatic reinvention of Protestantism on the scale of the first reformation. At the ground level the movement seeks to reinvent the organizational and authority structure of churches, then to ultimately extend this reorganization to encompass the "discipling" or "shepherding" of entire nations under the authority of their apostles and prophets.
The formation of cell churches is part of the agenda for rapidly growing the movement. From the interview,
Wagner, who will be 80 this year, was a professor of church growth for 30 years at Fuller Theological Seminary, and promoted explosive mega-church growth. He has mainstreamed the concept of cell church structures, a strategy which began in Asia and South America and has resulted in congregations of tens of thousands. Cell churches are organized like a pyramid marketing scheme with small groups, usually with no more than 12, tasked with spinning off new cell groups and growing the church....
Wagner declared the New Apostolic Reformation as beginning in 2001, however, it is an evolution that has been in the works for some time. Dominion theology has long held an appeal for sectors of the charismatic/Pentecostal stream. Sara Diamond's Spiritual Warfare published in 1989 provides a background of the emergence of charismatics as major players in the Religious Right, as well as the process through which Christian Right missionaries have gained access to countries worldwide and to funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.
David Stoll's 1991 Is Latin America Turning Protestant?, includes a chapter titled "From Doomsday to Dominionism in North American Evangelicalism" in which he describes the process through which premillennialists shifted from separatism to political activism. Stoll describes the influence of both Reconstructionism and the Latter Rain Movement of the 1950s. Latter Rain ideology included the idea of "overcomers" who would take dominion over the world and even over death.
Stoll describes Latter Rain ideology as continuing "as an esoteric tradition running underground through the Pentecostal movement" and continuing in the 1960s in the Christian Growth Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. An authoritarian structure known as "shepherding" was promoted by Juan Ortiz, Bob Mumford and these "Ft. Lauderdale Shepherds." Stoll describes the 1980s reemergence of this ideology as the "restoration revival" movement. In Spiritual Warfare, Diamond describes the use of shepherding as a "masterpiece of political strategy" adopted by the political Right and explained the role of Mumford's disciple Dennis Peacocke as "one of the most significant behind-the-scenes operators of the Christian Right." Peacocke is now one of the NAR apostles, and C. Peter Wagner and others describe the NAR as having its roots in the Latter Rain Movement.
Fuller Theological Seminary's Church Growth program has mainstreamed the concept of cell churches and shepherding around the world as a method for rapid church expansion. The best known of the program's graduates is Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life and head of Saddleback Church. From the interview,
These authoritarian strategies were further sanitized by Wagner's most famous student, Saddleback Church 's Rick Warren. Recently, while commenting about Uganda's proposed draconian anti-gay legislation, Warren denied that Wagner was his dissertation adviser. However, I have a copy of the dissertation which lists Wagner as "mentor," and also includes Warren's desire to rid churches of voting, boards, and democratic structure. In Wagner's 1999 book Churchquake: How the New Apostolic Reformation is Shaking up the Church as We Know It, Wagner describes this radical re-structuring: "The traditional concept is that the congregation owns the church and that they hire the pastor to do their ministry for them. New apostolic churches, like Rick Warren's, turn this around 180 degrees..."
While the bulk of the New Apostolic Reformation has emerged from the independent charismatic stream, Rick Warren and others have carried much of the ideology into denominations across the spectrum of Christianity. One area in which they have been particularly successful is with the "renewal" movements in Mainline Protestant denominations. For instance, the NAR's first "Transformation" movie was the focus of a SOMA (Anglican renewal group) consultation in South Africa titled Beyond 2000 - Community Transformation.
This SOMA conference has become something of a legend in the charismatic world as it is credited with eventually resulting in the South Africa based Global Day of Prayer, founded by the head of the African division of International Transformation Network, Graham Power. John Guernsey, the Episcopal priest whose initial interest in the "Transformations" led to the SOMA conference is now a bishop for Uganda representing the American congregations who have split from the Episcopal church to join with African Anglicans under Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. Canadian apostle Alistair Petrie was a speaker at the SOMA event in 2000 and is one of the leaders of the NAR with the mandate to recruit Episcopalians and Anglicans.
Another well known evangelical who has managed to avoid publicity about his connections to this radical reinvention of Protestantism is Ted Haggard, the former head of the National Association of Evangelicals. Haggard was C. Peter Wagner's partner in building the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs which served as the initial nerve center of the movement. Haggard wrote several books about the need to "transform" communities and restructure churches in the model of the New Apostolic Reformation. These included Your Primary Purpose, The Life Giving Church, and Loving Your City Into the Kingdom by Haggard and Jack Hayford. After his scandal and public fall from grace, Haggard failed to adhere to the guidelines set by his apostolic overseers in his rehabilitation process. Jack Hayford stated that said "it was unfortunate that Haggard was going his own way." Charisma magazine (published by NAR apostle Stephen Strang) reported,
C. Peter Wagner, who co-founded the World Prayer Center with Haggard, told the Gazette that Haggard should receive approval from apostolic overseers before leading people in prayer and worship.
The aggressive missionary relief and development work of these charismatics is key to understanding their rapid growth. This movement is not about separation from the world but about infiltration of society and government in order to bring all sectors of civilization under Christian dominion. This is not dispensationalism and these adherents are not waiting to be raptured to heaven. They fully intend to build the "Kingdom on earth" in the here and now.
Wagner argues that with rapid church growth, dominion over society can be accomplished inside a democratic framework and without the establishment of a theocracy. The growth is to be achieved through infiltration of other churches and denominations, expansion through cell churches, and by access gained through social services and faith-based programming. In addition to church growth, or taking dominion over religion, is the Reclaiming the Seven Mountains of Culture campaign to take Christian dominion over the arts, education, government, family, media, and most importantly, business. This is the domain of "Market Apostles" as described in the interview. In an excerpt from his book Church in the Workplace, Wagner describes one of his models for city transformation as the infamous Savanarola of 15th century Florence, who believed that the end times were near and initiated the "bonfire of the vanities," burning musical instruments, paintings, sculpture, books, and also executing large numbers of people for crimes such as homosexuality.
Wagner repeats a quote from the book Revival Fire by Wesley Duewel using Savanarola as a model for city transformation.
"The wicked city government [of Florence] was overthrown, and Savanarola taught the people to set up a democratic form of government. The revival brought tremendous moral change. The people stopped reading vile and worldly books. Merchants made restitution to the people for excessive profits they had been making. Hoodlums and street urchins stopped singing sinful songs and began to sing hymns in the streets. Carnivals were forbidden and forsaken.
This fixation with the destruction of objects, icons, and people believed to be demonically controlled, can be seen throughout NAR media. The Transformation series of movies repeats the "bonfire of the vanities" in numerous dramatizations of claimed transformations of ethnic groups, communities, and nations. The movies also dramatize the death or driving out of communities of witches and warlocks. In the Transformation series movie on Fiji titled Let the Sea Resound there is a dramatization of the burning of carved masks and native artifacts as part of a "reconciliation" ceremony in which native islanders repented of a "generational curse" because their ancestors had murdered a missionary.
After praising Savanarola's transformation of Florence, Wagner continues with the example of a modern transformation, the city of Almolongo Guatemala, featured in the first Transformations movie. ( This Transformations movie also featured Thomas Muthee of Kenya, who anointed Sarah Palin in a ceremony at Wasilla Assembly before she became governor of Alaska.)
Guatemala has long been a target of charismatic evangelicals. Jim Montgomery founded DAWN, which stands for Discipling A Whole Nation, in 2000. It was modeled after the ideology of Donald McGavran, described as the "father of the Church Growth Movement" and mentor at Fuller Theological Seminary to C. Peter Wagner. Author David Stoll quotes Montgomery concerning the significance of Guatemala,
Latin America is a Catholic region, but there's no reason to assume this need always be so. It could become an evangelical region at some point in time. I believe that if...Guatemala becomes the first predominately evangelical nation in Latin America, it will have a domino effect."
Montgomery served as the editor of McGavran's Global Church Growth Bulletin before forming DAWN as a Church Growth scheme tested in the Philippines and then taken to Latin America and worldwide. Today, the Philippines "transformation" agenda in this predominately Catholic nation includes mandatory "Purpose Driven Life" training for all police as part of a Moral Recovery Program, which is being administered by evangelicals dedicated to transformation of the nation. See Ed Silvoso of International Transformation Network describing the mandatory police training toward the end of this 4 minute video, labeled "Ed Silvoso Intro" at this link.
The energetic activism and social involvement of New Apostolic organizations has been widely applauded, even by progressives who apparently do not understand the implications of the underlying agenda. For this reason the movement may be a more serious threat to separation of church and state and to religious pluralism than other movements which have been more overtly theocratic.
Links to other recent articles on the New Apostolic Reformation:
Prayer Warriors of the New Apostolic Reformation Getting Some Exposure | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden)
Prayer Warriors of the New Apostolic Reformation Getting Some Exposure | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden)