Harold Caballeros and the New Apostolic Reformation
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 10:37:36 AM EST
[note: this is the second in a three part series. Part 3 will address the eliminationist nature of the Spiritual Mapping paradigm promoted by Harold Caballeros, C. Peter Wagner, and other top NAR leadership]

In January 2012, NAR apostle Harold Caballeros officially entered the realm of international politics, joining the administration of new Guatemalan president Otto Pérez Molina as the head of Guatemala's Foreign Ministry. Caballeros brings with him troubling political ties to his country's recent violent past (see this article), as well as a record of promoting the New Apostolic Reformation's characteristically supremacist religious and ideological views (see story, below, for details.)

Harold Caballeros is considered to be both a significant leader and also a major theoretician within the NAR, who has helped to pioneer the New Apostolic Reformation's distinctive ideas and practices on Spiritual Mapping and spiritual warfare.

His many roles in C. Peter Wagner's burgeoning NAR include being listed as an apostle in the International Coalition of Apostles, from when the ICA was first launched in 2001 up through 2010, the year that the ICA took down its publicly-accessible "short list" of apostles from the ICA website and moved the list to a password-protected section of the site accessible to ICA members only.

The ICA has billed itself as comprising over 500 apostles globally. Its apostles claim to advise heads of Fortune 500 companies and run multimillion dollar international corporate ventures, have prayed together with Barack Obama and claim to advise his presidential administration, have been granted official state dinners by the President and First Lady of Uganda, and claim the current president of South Korea as one of their own. 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was extensively tied to the NAR and its ICA apostles.

In the  July-August 2000 issue of Ministry Today Magazine (an offshoot of Charisma magazine) C. Peter Wagner mentioned Harold Caballeros as being in one of the original elite leadership entities of the New Apostolic Reformation, the New Apostolic Roundtable, a group of no more than 25 that Wagner described as his personal accountability group in the NAR.*

In the secular world, including academia, there has been astonishingly little notice of the New Apostolic Reformation, let alone Harold Caballeros' extensive involvement in the growing NAR movement - with one exception being a March 2007 Americans United For Separation of Church and State post which noted a January 2007 Charisma article (link to Internet Archive partial version) that discussed Harold Caballeros' involvement in the International Coalition of Apostles within the context of his 2007 bid for Guatemala's presidency (for more on Caballeros and Guatemalan politics, see this Talk To Action article.)

As the Charisma story, which appeared in the January 2007 print edition, described,

Church leaders in Africa, Asia and Latin America have been more willing to run for political office than U.S. ministers, said C. Peter Wagner, founder of Global Harvest Ministries and leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, of which Caballeros is a member.

"Christians in the global South are way ahead of us in this area," Wagner said. "The values of the kingdom of God should penetrate every level of society, and they understand that. ... [Caballeros is] doing it right, going right to the top and taking dominion."


"Jesus came to restore what the first Adam lost," he said. "That's the core of the dominion mandate."

In his writings and NAR conference speeches, Peter Wagner has elaborated at length about what the "dominion mandate" means and at a 2008 NAR conference declared (see link, above for video footage),

"Dominion has to do with control. Dominion has to do with rulership. Dominion has to do with authority and subduing and it relates to society. In other words, what the values are in Heaven need to be made manifest here on earth. Dominion means being the head and not the tail. Dominion means ruling as kings. It says in Revelation Chapter 1:6 that He has made us kings and priests - and check the rest of that verse; it says for dominion. So we are kings for dominion."

Spiritual Mapping, and The Spiritual Warfare Network

One of the most important early entities that preceded the official launch of the NAR, and the International Coalition of Apostles, was the Spiritual Warfare Network (link to Google Books text from Holvast book on Spiritual Mapping. See pages 103-107), which Wagner traces back to 1990 - around the same time period that the movement's distinctive Spiritual Warfare and Spiritual Mapping ideas and practices were being pioneered by Peter and Doris Wagner, Harold Caballeros, Ed Silvoso, Cindy Jacobs, George Otis, Jr., and others.

The Spiritual Warfare Network functioned, through the 1990s, as the premier organizational network of leadership that would during the following decade metamorphose into overtly apostolic networks and groups of the NAR, especially as launched in 1999 through 2001 under C. Peter Wagner.

In 1998, Harold Caballeros hosted the Second International Spiritual Warfare Meeting, in Guatemala City. The meeting -- according to a July 31, 2000 article in Charisma Magazine, which has served as the unofficial flagship publication of the New Apostolic Reformation (Charisma founder and owner Stephen Strang, and its longtime editor J. Lee Grady, have served as ICA apostles) -- was in part to kickoff an initiative, headed by Harold Caballeros, to evangelize Spain and Portugal.

The implication is that Wagner's and Caballeros' evolving movement did not consider the Iberian peninsula to be sufficiently Christian. As Charisma described,

"[It was a] a mission aimed at motivating and mobilizing believers around the world to work together to plant 1,000 churches on the Iberian peninsula by 2010.

The mission was launched in October 1998 during the World Congress on Intercession, Spiritual Warfare and Evangelism in Guatemala. At that gathering 1,150 believers and ministers from 50 nations committed their prayers and finances to the project. Since then, churches from Singapore, Uruguay, New Zealand, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Puerto Rico have committed to send church planters to Spain."

During the late 1990s, while Harold Caballeros was serving as the "Spiritual Warfare Network regional coordinator for the Spanish-speaking world", as Peter Wagner describes in his 1998 book Confronting the Queen of Heaven (Wagner Institute For Practical Ministry, 1998), Caballeros was one of a small group of top leaders consulted by Spiritual Warfare Network Strategic Projects Task Force coordinator Ana Mendez (whom Caballeros, as SWN coordinator for Latin America, would have appointed to the position) concerning a planned expedition to Mount Everest, to attack a global level demon identified as the "Queen of Heaven".

Mendez' subsequent expedition, with an elite prayer warfare team that allegedly (per NAR leadership accounts) scaled the lower heights of Mount Everest, was intended to dislodge the "Queen of Heaven", which NAR theologians claimed was blocking prayers of Muslims and Catholics from reaching heaven, and promoting idolatry worldwide.  

The New Apostolic Reformation's factual account of the alleged operation, dubbed "Operation Ice Castle", has been challenged and extensively debunked by researchers from so-called Christian "discernment ministries", which also accuse the NAR of heresy. Nonetheless, NAR leaders celebrated "Operation Ice Castle" as having helped cause the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa.  

New Apostolic ideological animosity towards competing beliefs verges on the extreme; Wagner and top NAR leaders such as Cindy Jacobs, Ed Silvoso, and Chuck Pierce, advise believers to burn, smash, flush down toilets, or otherwise dispose of "objects or materials related to false religions" including Mormonism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hinduism, eastern religions, Christian Science, native religions, and Baha'i.

Specific objects singled out include Books of Mormon, religious relics (such as statues of Catholic saints, the Buddha, or Hindu gods), and native art (such as African masks, Hopi Indian Kachina dolls, and totem poles.) Some of the videos in the "Transformations" series by George Otis, Jr. (see below), such as Let The Seas Resound (2005), depict the burning of native art objects.

While New Apostolic Reformation leadership is not always in complete ideological or doctrinal agreement, the movement's religious and ideological supremacy clearly extends to Harold Caballeros who, in typically eclectic NAR fashion, targets both Catholism and pre-Christian religious tradition.

As described in Paul Freston's book Evangelicals and Politics in Asia, Africa and Latin America, during Guatemala's 1990 presidential campaign candidate Jorge Serrano Elías, who had moved to and become a lay leader at Harold Caballeros thriving El Shaddai church,

"[W]as promoting a 'spiritual warfare' project of national exorcism known as 'Jesus is Lord of Guatemala', to free the country from a curse relating to pre-Christian religion. A leaflet by the pastor of El Shaddai explained that 'our entire country was dedicated [in 300 BC] to Satan".

David Stoll adds to his account, in his chapter "Jesus Is Lord of Guatemala": Evangelical Reform in a Death-Squad State", published in the anthology Accounting For Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements (1994, University of Chicago Press.) In his article, Stoll describes how, during a construction project carried out by Caballeros' church, excavation revealed a serpentine Mayan mound with a carved stone head of a snake:

"Three hundred years before Christ, pastor Haroldo Caballeros announced, the serpent mound had been built to dedicate the entire country to Satan. Ever since that offering to the plumed serpent, the Mesoamerican god Quetzalcoatl, Guatemala and all of Latin America had been cursed. Why else would a continent so rich in resources and faith be among the poorest and most indebted of the earth? Why else would a country so green and blessed by God be afflicted by violence and poverty?...

   Funded by a well-heeled congregation, Caballeros mounted a national prayer campaign to take the vision for overcoming the serpent's curse to every evangelical pastor in the country. Fifty thousand prayer warriors were needed to battle the territorial demons controlling Guatemala, Caballeros declared." [page 99]

Catholicism, it would seem, was incapable of dislodging the demons. But that is likely unsurprising for Caballeros who, during a keynote address at an October 2006 Sociology conference hosted by the University of Southern California, stated:  

"In 30 years, Guatemala has gone from 1.2 percent, Christians in the population, to 40 percent today: an amazing growth, an amazing growth curve that now puts Guatemala along the line of South Korea in the number of conversions, I mean the number of born-again believers in the world. Not only that, but 60% of those believers today are Pentecostals."

The growth of evangelical Protestant and born-again Christianity over the past several decades in Guatemala has indeed been very impressive. But most estimates would place the 1976 Catholic segment of the population of the country as having been in the majority, rather than 1.2 percent. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Caballeros does not consider Catholics to be Christian at all.  

One useful treatment of Harold Caballeros' involvement with the New Apostolic Reformation, and Spiritual Mapping, can be found, starting on page 95, in Dutch missionary Rene' Holvast's 2005 doctoral dissertation, written for the University of Utrecht, Spiritual Mapping: The Turbulent Career of a Contested Missionary Paradigm, 1989-2005 [link to PDF file of Holvast's 284 page dissertation - which Holvast later revised and published, in late 2008 through Brill, as Spiritual mapping in the United States and Argentina, 1989-2005: a geography of fear.]

In his 2005 dissertation, Holvast adds details, as related by C. Peter Wagner, of the 1990 spiritual warfare campaign Caballeros waged on behalf of presidential candidate Jorge Serrano Elías,

Caballeros started to send out Spiritual Mapping teams on a national level to `clear the way' for the national elections. The teams did Spiritual Mapping in each state in Guatemala. They identified `three powerful human beings who were being used by the spiritual forces of darkness as strongmen', two of whom were presidential candidates, rating higher in the polls than Serrano. The first two candidates dropped out after warfare prayer, resulting, according to Wagner, in a record-breaking victory for Serrano. The deciding factor, still according to Wagner, was Spiritual Mapping, the key to Guatemalan politics and church growth. Wagner likewise attributes the demise of the Peruvian Shining Path movement to a visit of Caballeros to Peru. [Holvast pages 96-97]

Holvast notes that Wagner - whose seminal role in organizing (and naming) the emerging New Apostolic Reformation is widely acknowledged by other top NAR leaders such as Cindy Jacobs - considers Harold Caballeros one of the pioneering theoreticians and practitioners of Spiritual Mapping.

The Wagner-edited 1993 book Breaking Strongholds In Your City: How To Use Spiritual Mapping To Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Targeted and Effective (Regal/Gospel Light 1993) features chapter written by many of the acknowledged pioneers of Spiritual Mapping as a practice including C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, George Otis, Jr., and Harold Caballeros.

Caballeros' chapter in the book, "Defeating the Enemy with the Help of Spiritual Mapping", emphasized an often overlooked element in the emerging doctrine of Spiritual Mapping, which involves more than simply the identification of demon spirits that in the Spiritual Mapping paradigm are held to exert malevolent power over geographic areas (e.g. cities, towns, regions, or even entire continents) as well as people groups. Beyond simply mapping demons, Spiritual Mapping also involves the targeting of flesh-and-blood human beings.  

As Caballeros writes, Spiritual Mapping "plays the same role that intelligence and espionage do during war" (p. 125). Then, on page 144, in a subsection titled "Naming The Strongman", he describes how one of the teams in his Spiritual Mapping efforts in Guatemala came to identify a person who was serving as the human locus of the alleged territorial demon Caballeros' research teams had identified:

"[O]ne day God showed the historical factors team an area where there were archaeological remains and how they related to basic characteristics of witchcraft and idolatry dating back to the Mayan civilization. Those of the physical factors team simultaneously located a vacant house in exactly the same area where idolatry and witchcraft meetings were taking place. Afterward, God showed the intercessors of the  spiritual factors team that a territorial spirit ruling over the area was using a human being as the strongman. His life-style included practicing the occult, witchcraft and idolatry."

While Caballeros sought to temper this point with a reference, often cited by practitioners of Spiritual Mapping and Spiritual Warfare, to Ephesians 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world" (KJV), in a later book apostle Caballeros made the point more bluntly.

In his 2001 book Victorious Warfare: Discovering your Rightful Place in God's Kingdom (Thomas Nelson, 2001), Caballeros writes,

"[T]here are persons who dedicate themselves to weaving line of communication with the devil. Usually we call them warlocks or sorcerers.  It is men or women who, in order to obtain power, praise, and worship establish covenants with Satan. The result is what we find in the Bible as a strong man, a person who is "connected" to Satan, who serves him, and through whom the devil exercises authority or power over a territory, community, or a social conglomerate... The Scriptures teach us that demons seek a human body in which to live (Matthew 12:43 and Luke 11:24)...

Our interest in this subject derives from the fact that we have seen over and over again that when the strong man is vanquished in a given territory, the inhabitants become free to receive the light of the gospel."

As described in the Talk To Action article NAR Apostle Harold Caballeros Heads Guatemala Foreign Ministry, in 2007 the then-head of Guatemala's National Police, Erwin Sperisen, made a television show appearance which he appeared to credit Harold Caballeros with helping to inspire the activity, which Sperison called "holy", of government-backed, church-based death squads.

*Note: several NAR and charismatic movement websites listed Harold Caballeros as being in the original 1999 group which comprised the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. At least four websites reprinted what was purported to be a prophetic declaration from ACPE --published by longtime ACPE member (and now acting head) Cindy Jacobs, on her Generals.org website-- that listed Caballeros' name in ACPE membership. However, Internet Archive cached versions of the referenced statement on Jacobs' website do not list Caballeros (Hector Torres takes Caballeros' place in the ACPE members list.)

ACPE's elite group of prophets are held to be able to receive prophetic revelations from God, also known within the NAR as the "Rhema word", which can augment Biblical scripture (though such revelations, stresses C. Peter Wagner, cannot contradict scripture.)

Those of us who were active in Central America solidarity during the 1980's and '90's were aware of the stategy dubbed "low intensity conflict." This was clearly described in the notorious 1984 CIA training manual for the Nicaraguan Contras.

The basic method was to identify one or two persons who had leadership roles in a village ~ often the priest, a catechist, or a school teacher ~ and target those persons for assassination. This so demoralized the village populace that they were easily dissuaded from mounting any resistance to militarization and oppression. As one human rights worker in El Salvador explained to us, massacring whole villages was getting too much bad press. Targeted assassinations drew much less international attention and were just as effective. And they could much more easily be described as "fighting a Communist agent."

A really excellent book on this topic is "Low Intensity Conflict: War Against the Poor" by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. It's out of print but available on line as a used book.

It seems to me that what this article describes in terms of targeting a "strong man" comes from very much the same kind of thinking, just with a religious language overlay rather than overtly political. It would be very helpful to know what actually happened to the targeted persons. Is there evidence that the two presidential candidates were pressured to withdraw by ordinary human tactics ~ death threats, attacks on family or property, etc.? Would you happen to have any useful links to historical data, please?

by MLouise on Mon Feb 13, 2012 at 12:17:32 PM EST
Well, I don't know about candidate #2, but I would say that  Peter Wagner was stretching things a bit in the case of Efrain Rios Montt's candidacy. According to Paul Freston, author of Evangelical Politics in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Rios Montt's candidacy fell afoul of legislation designed to bar presidential candidates who had been involved in coups, and so he was disqualified. Rios Montt had been the leader in the race up to that point - he was forced out by "ordinary human tactics", no doubt, but of the non-violent sort (legal fine-print.)

As for your observation on the targeting of "strong men" generally - yes, I do think this could function as an extension of "low intensity conflict" doctrine.

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