Last Saturday, Texas Governor Rick Perry addressed 30,000 unusual worshippers at a Houston rally; a week later, in South Carolina, Perry will announce that he is seeking the nation’s highest office. The mainstream media has associated some of Governor Perry’s religious buddies with some very strange comments about demons, Democrats, a Sun goddess and the ancient Queen Jezebel; but few realize that this odd assortment of prophets and preachers are part of the New Apostolic Reformation, a unified religious movement driven by a “dominionist” theology.
This isn’t just the latest incarnation of the religious right we’re dealing with, folks. If you want to know more about the New Apostolic Reformation you couldn’t ask for a better tour guide than Rachel Tabachnick, a speaker, writer and researcher with the wonderful people at Talk2Action. This introductory essay was first posted five months ago, but Rick Perry’s enthusiastic embrace of the movement described below makes it must reading. AGB
The New Apostolic Reformation can now be defined as a distinct movement with a unique ideology. The leaders of the movement, called apostles and prophets, claim that this is the most significant change in Protestantism since Martin Luther and the Reformation. The stated goal of the NAR is to eradicate denominations and form a unified church that will be victorious against evil in the end times. Like many American fundamentalists, the apostles teach that the events of the end times are imminent, but unlike fundamentalists, the apostles see this as a time of great victory for the church.
Instead of escaping the earth (in the Rapture)* prior to the turmoil of the end times, they teach that believers will defeat evil by taking dominion, or control, over all sectors of society and government, resulting in mass conversions to their brand of Charismatic evangelicalism and a Christian utopia or “Kingdom” on earth. The end times narrative of the apostles is similar to that of the Latter Rain movement of the late 1940s and 1950s.
The Transformations movies, Transformation organizations worldwide, and the Seven Mountains campaign are promotional tools to market their methodology for taking Christian dominion over: arts; business; education; family; government; media; and religion. The apostles who lead in areas outside church are called Workplace or Marketplace Apostles.
The apostles teach that the obstacles to their envisioned Kingdom on earth are literal demonic beings who hold control over geographic territory and specific “people groups.” They claim this demonic control is the reason why people of other religions refuse to become evangelized and that the demons are also the source of crime, corruption, illness, poverty, and homosexuality. Purging of the demons results in mass evangelization and eradication of social ills, as claimed in the Transformations, media. The apostles teach that their followers are currently receiving an outpouring of supernatural powers to help them fight these demons through what they call Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare(SLSW).
These unique concepts and methodologies, previously unknown in the evangelical world, include spiritual mappingto identify and purge both demons and their human helpers, sometimes identified in training materials as witches and witchcraft. Another requirement of this utopian Kingdom on earth is the restructuring of all Charismatic evangelical believers under the authority of their network of apostles, the eradication or unification of denominations, and the total elimination of competing religions and philosophies.
Many of the evangelical “Reconciliation” programs popularized over the last decade are an outgrowth of the apostles’ SLSW efforts to remove demons including “generational curses” which they claim obstruct evangelization of specific ethnicity groups. These activities have political significance not apparent to outsiders. For instance, Senator Sam Brownback worked extensively with leading apostles in pursuing an official apology from the U.S. Senate to Native Americans. However, the NAR advertised this Identificational Repentance and Reconciliationa SLSW method to remove demonic control over Native Americans, evangelize tribes, and curiously, as a required step in their spiritual warfare progress in criminalizing abortion.
A wave of charismatic religious fervor swept through the U.S. in the early 1900s resulting in Pentecostalism and the establishment of denominations emphasizing supernatural “gifts of the Holy Spirit,” including speaking in tongues. A second wave swept through other Protestant denominations and Roman Catholicism beginning in the 1960s, resulting in pockets of Charismatic believers. Some remained in their respective churches while the remainder left to join other nondenominational Charismatics in what would become the largest single (and largely overlooked) block of Protestantism in the world – Independent Charismatics, or the “Third Wave.” By the late 1980s, Independent Charismatics began to be organized under the leadership of self-appointed apostles and prophets who view the reorganization of the church as crucial to preparation for the end times.
C. Peter Wagner, a prolific author and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary for 30 years, became the primary force behind organizing one of the largest and most influential of apostolic and prophetic networks. He dubbed it the “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR). Wagner and other NAR pioneers refined their unique Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare training and demon-hunting methods through the latter 1980s and 1990s. Due to Wagner’s international reputation as an expert in “Church Growth” (his most famous pupilis Rick Warren) and Wagner’s leadership role in the frantic rush by international missions to evangelize the world prior to the year 2000, these unusual techniques gained surprising widespread acceptance in some evangelical circles.
With the aid of Ted Haggard (later president of the National Association of Evangelicals), Wagner left Fuller Seminary and continued his networking from the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs. Wagner claimed that the NAR and a new era in church history began in 2001. He organized several hundred apostles with their own networks into the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) which formed an inner circle of prophets (ACPE or Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders), demon deliverance experts (ISDM or International Society of Deliverance Ministries), faith-healers (IAHR or International Association of Healing Room Ministries), an international training network (Wagner Leadership Institute), and their own educational accreditation system (ACEA or Apostolic Council for Educational Accountability).
These apostles and their networks work in “Transformation” efforts around the world including promotion of the Seven Mountains campaign for Christian dominion. The Transformation entities usually begin as prayer networks of pastors and individuals which are advertised as nonsectarian and emphasize charitable activities, often working with financially strapped municipalities. Today the NAR has “prayer warrior” networks under the authority of their apostles in all fifty states, some now organizing by precincts.
The movement has had a widespread impact, spreading ideology to other Charismatics inside Mainline Protestant denominations and Roman Catholicism, although non-Charismatic Roman Catholicism is viewed as controlled by a powerful demon named “The Queen of Heaven.” The political potential of the movement has been tapped by politicians including Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Sam Brownback, Rick Perry, and others, as well as large numbers of local and state politicians. Over the last few years, the apostles have taken visible leadership roles in the Religious Right in the United States and numerous nations in Africa, Asia, and South America and claim Uganda as their greatest “Transformations” success story and prototype.
*Author’s note about eschatology. The NAR has played a significant role in the gradual transition away from Dispensationalism to Dominion Theology, although most apostles have not openly embraced postmillennialism. Most are still teaching a premillennial framework but have abandoned the concept of pre-Tribulation Rapture by simply moving the timing or redefining the meaning of the Rapture. This has caused some confusion since the apostles are promoting Dominion Theology similar to that of Christian Reconstructionism, while still teaching many components of dispensational narrative and that the turmoil of the end times is imminent.
C. Peter Wagner Explains the New Apostolic Reformation