Burning Buddhas, Books, and Art: Meet The New Apostolic Reformation
According to New Apostolic Reformation doctrine, objects to be destroyed include those associated with Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hinduism, eastern religions, Christian Science, native religions, and Baha'i.
[image, right: One of the The New Apostolic Reformation's conduits for spreading its ideology are the Transformations videos of George Otis, Jr. Transformations IV, "Let The Seas Resound" (2004) shows the burning of Fijian native art]
NAR theologians, including C. Peter Wagner, sometimes cite, as a Biblical justification for the destruction of artifacts, an incident described in the New Testament's Book of Acts in which the magicians of Ephesus, under the influence of Apostle Paul, gathered together and burned their books of magic (thus weakening, according to Wagner, the hold of the goddess Diana over the city of Ephesus.) But Wagner also provides a more contemporary model.
In books from 1994 up into 2008, C. Peter Wagner has repeatedly cited, as a model for societal "transformation", the efforts of the Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola in late-15th Century Florence, Italy.
Savonarola is credited with instigating the mass-burning in Florence of books and cultural objects deemed to incite sin (including by some reports several paintings by the Renaissance master Botticelli), in an event that has become known to historians as the "Bonfire of the Vanities."
On page 96 of his book Changing Church: How God Is Leading His Church Into The Future (2004, Regal/Gospel Light), bemoaning the lack of significant city `transformation' in the U.S., Wagner notes that, while evangelists have invested "huge amounts of time" and "large sums of money", "Even after 10 years, we cannot point to a single city in the United States that has undergone a sociologically verifiable transformation!" In a subsection titled "Hope Giving Examples", Wagner then writes,
"The lack of examples of cities that have been transformed is not to imply, however, that social transformation through God's power is impossible. We may not have many examples, but we do have some.
In his 2008 book Dominion! How Kingdom Action Can Change The World (2008, Chosen Books), Peter Wagner again cites the same passage, introducing it, on page 166 of his book, with "To show that it [transformation] can be done, I love to go back in history to Florence, Italy, where Girolamo Savanarola [sic] led a notable example of transformation. I have told the story in other books, but it is so encouraging that I want to repeat it again".
During his short-lived period of political influence in Florence, Savonarola's overriding obsession, which Wagner fails to note, was legislating burning at the stake for sodomy. Wagner's apostles have been in the forefront of organizing against LGBT rights in the United States and have numerous, close ties to one of the professed authors of Uganda's internationally condemned, so-called "kill the gays" bill, apostle Julius Oyet.
Both Wagner and Cindy Jacobs explicitly refer to the destruction of books, and cultural and religious artifacts, as "book burning" and "spiritual house cleansing"; believers are encouraged to purge personal possessions, that allow demonic intrusion into their lives and which represent "witchcraft" and "idolatry", and gather up these objects to bring to collection points, for incineration--with the help of gasoline if necessary.
[video, below: at 54 seconds into this three-minute compilation of Cindy Jacobs video, Jacobs tells pastors in her audience to encourage their church members to burn items associated "witchcraft" and "sorcery"]
Underscoring the point that this is a current objective for New Apostolic Reformation leaders, during a worship service that Jacobs held on October 7, 2008, at Ed Silvoso's 18th International Institute on Nation Transformation, in Mar del Plata, Argentina, Cindy Jacobs called on [video link] assembled local area pastors at the conference,
"Pastors, sanctify your people! You go and you tell 'em, if you have any idols in their homes we're gonna to burn 'em! If you have any witchcraft items in your homes, you bring 'em Sunday and we're gonna burn 'em! We're not gonna have witchcraft in this church!"
Wagner's apostles Chuck Pierce and Tom Schlueter (who anointed presidential candidate Rick Perry in a 2009 ceremony, as covered in a 2011 story from the Texas Observer) have been described as performing ceremonies, to break collective curses over entire Native American tribal groups that were allegedly incurred through Baal worship, which involved the ritual smashing of antique Native American pottery.
According to an account formerly posted on the website of Trinity Apostolic Prayer Network (then headed by apostle Schlueter), Tom Schlueter participated in an April 27, 2007 ceremony at which, as the report described,
"John Benefiel then informed the gathering of the history of Baal in the region. He shared the story of the Baal caves in the panhandle of Oklahoma where cave drawings depict the presence of those who worshiped Baal... Jay [Swallow] taught on the unholy trio of Baal, Asherah and Leviathan. He spoke of their proliferation into the land. His teaching led us up to the prophetic act of smashing pottery that depicted Baal and Leviathan. Knowing that this authority lies with those who dwelt on this land first, it was necessary that it be carried out by a Native American.
On page 440 of his book The Book of Acts: A Commentary (1994, Regal/Gospel Light), Wagner estimates the cash value of the "huge public book burning" described in the Book of Acts, at Ephesus, to have been US$ 4 million. "Quite a book burning!" gushes Wagner, who then recounts,
"A similar modern-day book-burning initiative in which the Word of the Lord grew mightily was the three-year evangelistic strategy implemented in Resistencia, Argentina, by Ed Silvoso's Harvest Evangelism organization not long ago. The evangelical community in Resistencia in those three years, and two more years following, grew some 500 percent-remarkable church growth in any nation! As part of the series of evangelistic rallies held at the end of the three-year period, a book-burning ceremony was held every evening, the first such activity I have been able to find on record in any part of Latin America.
In his book The Church In The Workplace: How God's People Can Transform Society (2006, Regal/Gospel Light), on page 40, Peter Wagner again identifies `Savanarola' [sic] as a model Christian reformer: "Let's look back to Florence, Italy, before the Protestant Reformation. Girolamo Savanarola [sic] was a reformer before his time. He was a precursor of things to come. He prayed. He prophesied. He preached. He had an apostolic anointing to influence large numbers of people."
Wagner then cites the same glowing account, of Florence's "transformation" under Savonarola, that he references in his work The Book of Acts. In a subsequent book, Apostles Today: Biblical Government For Biblical Power (2007, Regal/Gospel Light), Wagner identifies Savonarola [misspelled as 'Savanarola'], as having been an "apostle" (page 7).
In his book Hard-Core Idolatry - Facing the Facts, (1999, Wagner Institute For Practical Ministry) C. Peter Wagner describes the Resistencia, Argentina incident in greater detail, on pages 39-40, in a subsection titled "Burn The Idols!":
Burn The Idols!
Like Cindy Jacobs, Wagner terms the immolation of such demonized objects a "spiritual housecleaning", and provides a substantial list of these things which "might be bringing honor to the spirits of darkness":
"pictures, statues, Catholic saints, Books of Mormon, pictures of former lovers, pornographic material, fetishes, drugs, Ouija boards, zodiac charms, good luck symbols, crystals for healing, amulets, talismans, tarot cards, witch dolls, voodoo items, love potions, books of magic, totem poles, certain pieces of jewelry, objects of Freemasonry, horoscopes, gargoyles, native art, foreign souvenirs, and what have you."
Believers at the Resistencia evangelizing crusade were encouraged to gather up the evil things (even "expensive items" notes Wagner), from their homes, bring them to a rally wrapped in newspaper, to protect privacy, and cast them into a 55-gallon drum. As Wagner exults,
"The drum was heaped to overflowing! They poured gasoline on it and set it on fire. This was a major power encounter, because the witches and warlocks had surrounded the area and done their occult sacrifices, killing animals, burning incense, and sending the most powerful curses they could muster toward the evangelists. When the flames shot up, a woman right behind Doris screamed and manifested a demon, which Doris immediately cast out!"
New Apostolic Reformation leaders also symbolically target individuals. Peter Wagner, Ed Silvoso, and Cindy Jacobs each describe in their books the magical incineration of an animist leader named "San La Muerte", during their early 1990s evangelism crusades in the Argentine city of Resistencia.
According to Rene' Holvast, author of Spiritual Mapping in the United States and Argentina, 1989-2005: A Geography of Fear (2008, Brill) Resistencia, Argentina was the crucible for the development of many of the spiritual mapping/spiritual warfare ideas and practices peculiar to Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation.
In a subsection of Hard-Core Idolatry titled "The Fall Of San La Muerte" (page 39), Wagner writes,
"Many unbelievers came to Christ that night, and each one was instructed to go home, do their own spiritual housecleaning, and bring their objects to the bonfire the following night. As this went on, night after night, San La Muerte's power diminished...
In his bookThat None Shall Perish: How To Reach Entire Cities For Christ Through Prayer Evangelism (1994, Regal/Gospel Light), Ed Silvoso provides a similar version of the alleged incident:
"San La Muerte's priests declared war on the Church. However, God was in control, and He showed it. At the height of the conflict, San La Muerte's high priestess died in strange circumstances--the mattress she was sleeping on caught fire and burned her to death. Nothing else burned except her, the bed and the idol of San La Muerte in the room next door! The fear of God fell upon the city."
Silvoso's subsequent account of the mass-evangelizing campaign in Resistencia references Ephesus and describes the same mass-burning incident covered by Jacobs and Wagner:
In anticipation of an Ephesus-type response, a 100-gallon drum was set up to the left of the platform for the new converts to dispose of satanic paraphernalia. As people came forward, they dumped all kinds of occult-related items into it... gasoline was poured on the contents of the drum, a match was struck and every evil thing inside went up in flames. Many times, spontaneous deliverances occurred when a specific fetish was burned and the spell was broken.
"Deliverance" is a common New Apostolic Reformation shorthand expression for "deliverance from a demon spirit." But, per Silvoso's account, the realm of Christian conquest was not merely in the spiritual realm but also in local politics:
"The mayor acknowledged Jesus Christ as his Savior. Later on, two of the candidates for governor prayed to receive Jesus into their hearts. Also, medical doctors, journalists, one senator, aldermen, politicians and lawyers responded. At one point, we found ourselves inside the Provincial Court of Appeals with seven appellate judges, five of whom confessed Christ as their personal Savior. The city had indeed heard the voice of God!"
Photos from his Global Harvest ministry in the past several years have shown Ed Silvoso meeting with Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni, Former President of the Philippines Gloria Arroyo, and Former Lt. Governor of Hawaii James "Duke" Aiona (who ran for governor and was defeated in the 2010 election).
Wagner's Texas apostle Alice Patterson, who stood alongside presidential candidate and Texas governor Rick Perry at The Response, calls Silvoso her "spiritual father." Ed Silvoso wrote the forward to Patterson's 2010 book Bridging The Racial and Political Divide: How Godly Politics Can Transform A Nation, and a division of his Harvest Evangelism ministry publishes the book.
On page 223-224 of her book Deliver Us From Evil: Putting A Stop To The Occultic Influence Invading Your Home and Community (2001 Regal/Gospel Light), Cindy Jacobs elaborates on the need to destroy "occult objects" which believers may possess, in a chapter subsection titled "Destroying Occult Objects":
" There are certain occult items that we are are not to possess. If we own any of the following objects, we need to get rid of them. If the object was at any time worshiped as a god or used in the worship of a false god, then we should burn it or otherwise destroy it.
Jacobs then goes on to describe, on pages 224-225, the same "book burning" at Resistencia mentioned by Peter Wagner and Ed Silvoso, under a chapter subheading titled, "Book Burning in Argentina":
"Years ago, when Doris Wagner and I were in Resistencia, Argentina, the Lord gave her the idea that we should have people bring their occult objects, light a fire and burn them, following the example recorded in Acts 19:19. Scripture says that after the objects were burned in Ephesus, the Word of the Lord grew mighty and prevailed.
Jacobs claimed the ceremonial act of burning the objects had an immediate and dramatic effect, causing manifestation of the demons associated with the evil objects: "As the occult objects burned, some of the people actually screamed and cried out in anguish as demons manifested themselves." The demons were, of course, cast out and, emphasizes Jacobs, "just as happened in Ephesus centuries ago, many people came forward and were saved."
Making an enthusiastic plug for present-day "Bonfires of the Vanities", Jacobs continued,
" I think Church leaders today should consider having similar book burnings. Pastor Jim Marocco did this when he planted a church on the island of Maui. He had people bring and burn occult items, specifically objects that were worshiped as part of their native religions. After the objects were destroyed, his church experienced great growth."
Jacobs also directs readers to a more thorough treatment on what she describes as "spiritual house cleansing" : "For an excellent, more in-depth study of spiritual house cleansing, I suggest that you read Ridding Your Home of Spiritual Darkness by Chuck Pierce and Rebecca Wagner Sytsema" (1999, Wagner Institute For Practical Ministry.) In their book, Pierce and Wagner Sytsema advise,
"Take what can be burned and burn it. If it cannot be burned, pass it through the fire (as a symbolic act of obedience) and then destroy it by whatever other means are available to you such as smashing or even flushing (I have known people to do this with jewelry that cannot be destroyed in other ways)!
Pierce and Sytsema provide a list of objects to burn, destroy, or flush down toilets that is very similar to Peter Wagner's list, only longer:
"Buddhas... Hindu images; fertility gods or goddesses (or any type of god or goddess); Egyptian images; Greek gods; gargoyles; kachina dolls, totem poles, or any other native figure that depicts or glorifies a "spirit" or demonic being; evil depictions of creatures such as lions, dogs, dragons, cats, or any other creature made with demonic distortions; or any other image of any person, idol, god, or demonic figure which is considered an object of worship or spiritual power in any culture of the world...
Pierce and Sytsema also target more contemporary cultural objects. In a final subsection, "Other Objects," we learn that,
"Our homes may be filled with other items that do not bring glory to God and may attract demonic activity. These would include games such as Dungeons and Dragons or Masters of the Universe, in addition to a myriad of demonic or violent video games; books and magazines devoted to fantasy; comic books, posters, movies, or music with demonic, violent, or sexual themes; pornography; illegal drugs; sensual art, books, or "toys"; or a number of other things that are demonic, illegal, immoral, or contrary to God's Word.
Also included in the categories of objects to destroy are all those associated with Yoga, secret societies, and the Occult.
As the most sweeping category, outlined on page 21, Wagner Systema and Pierce advocate destroying "objects or materials related to false religions" including Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hinduism, eastern religions, Christian Science, native religions, and Baha'i.
The destruction of native art and objects associated with non-NAR religious beliefs is also a theme depicted in the New Apostolic Reformation's globally-distributed Transformations video series from George Otis, Jr., which serves as one of the major conduits for spreading movement ideology. For example, the 2004 Transformations video "Let The Seas Resound" shows the incineration of native Fijian ceremonial masks.
An upcoming story at Talk To Action will further expand on and explore themes covered in this story including Transformations video depictions of the destruction of native artifacts, and prayer warfare attacks on non-Christian leaders and places of worship.
Burning Buddhas, Books, and Art: Meet The New Apostolic Reformation | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)
Burning Buddhas, Books, and Art: Meet The New Apostolic Reformation | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)