Heads Up: Prayer Warriors and Sarah Palin Are Organizing Spiritual Warfare to Take Over America
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C. Peter Wagner streamlined the ideology and named it the New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner serves as the presiding apostle of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) which includes several hundred apostles across the U.S. and about 40 nations, international training centers and prayer warrior communication networks in all 50 states and worldwide. Those in the top tier of Wagner's network each have apostolic authority over other ministries, sometimes hundreds or even thousands. (See Talk2Action's Resource Directory for the New Apostolic Reformation.)
This is not just a church movement. [Those called] market apostles work in business, finance, communications, media and also lead the Reclaiming the Seven Mountains of Culture mandate. Bruce Wilson [a co-founder of Talk2Action] and I have both written about this campaign encouraging Christians to take dominion over seven spheres of government and society.
Enterprises known as "kingdom businesses" play an important role: A Toronto apostle's ministry includes an oil and gas company; two ICA apostles head Markets Unlocked, a business matchmaking system that connects kingdom business customers and suppliers, and claims exclusive agreements for over a half billion dollars of products and services. Trained intercessors are now paid to pray for businesses, and ICA apostles work closely with the International Christian Chamber of Commerce.
Apostles are also active providing social services, which Wagner describes as a method for accessing government and society. Apostle Doug Stringer, who is a former fitness instructor, is now listed as a policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, and claims to have distributed $30 million of gifts and donations during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He has expanded operations to Fiji, Poland and Southeast Asia.
Wagner teachers that there will soon be a "great transfer of wealth" from the ungodly to the godly and has set up structures in preparation. The Wagner Leadership Institute teaches courses in prophecy as well as foreign currency exchange.
BB: How is the movement structured, and how has it grown so rapidly?
RT: Church growth is the key concept. Other Christian dominionist movements propose austere biblical law but Wagner explained in his 2008 book that he believes rapid growth of the movement will allow Christians to take dominion inside a democratic framework.
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. This also resembles a military structure: Each cell group has a leader and lower level leaders answer to and are accountable to their superiors, on up the chain.
Such "spiritual accountability" schemes used to be called shepherding, but because of bad press and reports of coercive and abusive practices, it has been rebranded as "discipling." Lay people in cell groups perform many of the functions that would normally be carried out by pastors, and pastors become like corporate CEOs. This is how many of today's megachurches function. In his role as a church growth specialist, Wagner was able to repackage radical shepherding and cell structures as mainstream concepts for church growth.
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 explains 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…”