A new charismatic Christian movement that seeks to take dominion over politics, business and culture in preparation for the end times and Jesus' return is becoming more of a presence in American politics. The leaders are considered apostles and prophets, gifted by God for this role. Several apostles affiliated with the movement helped organize or spoke at Rick Perry's August prayer rally, The Response.
The international "apostolic and prophetic" movement has been dubbed the New Apostolic Reformation by C. Peter Wagner, who has also become one of its leaders. He describes himself as the first person who noticed the movement, gave a name to it and started writing books about it. He was, until recently retiring, the president of the Global Harvest Ministries. For 30 years, he was a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Missions.
On Fresh Air, Wagner joins Terry Gross for a discussion about NAR and its mission.
Among the topics discussed on Monday's show are: Wagner's explanation about a recent video that's been shown on television in which he claims the Emperor of Japan had sex with the sun goddess, a power of darkness headed by the kingdom of Satan, and how that resulted in the decline of the Japanese stock market; how demons figure into the belief structure of NAR; the role of prophets and apostles within NAR; what Wagner means when he describes the NAR's mission as taking dominion over business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family and religion; how he felt when he found out that Ted Haggard, his World Prayer Center co-founder, had used drugs and had sex with men; spiritual mapping; and the role of Jews and Israel in preparing for the second coming.
Interview highlights appear below. A complete transcript of the broadcast will be available shortly.
On the tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan being connected to the Emperor of Japan having sex with the sun goddess
"That happened many, many years ago and that created a spiritual atmosphere over Japan which was an atmosphere ruled by the powers of darkness. The sun goddess is not a very nice lady. The sun goddess is a power of darkness, which is headed up by the kingdom of Satan. And so the sun goddess wants natural disasters to come to Japan. Sometimes the hand of God, which is more powerful, will prevent them. And when he decides to prevent them and when he doesn't is far beyond anything that we can predict."
"But in this case, God could have prevented that tsunami and the destruction, but he didn't. He just took his hand off and allowed these natural forces to work. And one of the background pieces of information is Japan is under control of the sun goddess."
On Alice Patterson, a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation and one of the leadership team members at Rick Perry's prayer rally, saying on stage at the rally that the Democratic Party is a demon structure
"I personally would not endorse each one of her statements and especially the statement about the Democratic Party being demonized, any more than the Republican Party is. I mean, I believe there's a lot of demonic control over Congress in general that needs to be dispersed."
"As we talk, in Oklahoma City there is an annual meeting of a professional society called the Apostolic — called the International Society of Deliverance Ministers, which my wife and I founded many years ago. ... This is a society of a large number, a couple hundred, of Christian ministers who are in the ministry of deliverance. Their seven-day-a-week occupation is casting demons out of people. And they have professional expertise in this and they happen to meeting - to be meeting right now. My wife is one of them. She's written a whole book called How To Cast Out Demons. And I don't do that much, once in a while when I get in a corner, I might. But that's - that's been her ministry. And so I've been very, very close to that for years. We've been married for 60 years."
On people in American politics being possessed by demons
"We don't like to use the word possessed because that means they don't have any power of their own. We like to use the word afflicted or, technical term, demonized. But there are people who — yes, who are — who are directly affected by demons, not only in politics, but also in the arts, in the media and religion in the Christian church."
On demon identification
"Sometimes they know. Sometimes the demon has identified itself to the person. Sometimes you can tell by manifestations of superhuman, un-human behavior. Sometimes you can tell by skilled deliverance ministers. My wife has a five-page questionnaire that she has people fill out before she ministers to them. So she asks the kind of questions that a medical doctor would ask to find out, to diagnose an illness. So she actually does diagnostic work on people to discover not only if they have demons, but what those demons might be."
"I do not think homosexuality is the will of God. I don't think it's God's plan A."
On whether other religions and non-believing Christians are demonic
"Well, it means they're not part of the kingdom of heaven. It means they're part of the kingdom of darkness. An apostle, a friend of mine in Nepal, once told me that every Christian believer in Nepal that he knows of has been delivered from demons. That their former Hindu religion had implanted or the demons had gained access and that in order to become Christian believers, the demons had to be cast out. Of course, we have many examples in the Bible of the same thing."
"I wouldn't want to give the impression that the NAR denies the plurality of religion. We honor each religion in a society like our American society. However, we feel that — believe in Jesus and Jesus has told us to go and preach the kingdom of God and part of that is the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. And people who do not believe in Jesus Christ are not candidates for the kingdom of heaven. So our desire is that everybody be a candidate. So therefore, we would like Muslims to become Christians, but in the meantime, if they're here in America, we don't — we don't oppose them. And I'm sorry that some radicals speak up strongly against having a mosque in their neighborhood and I don't think that's patriotism. I think America needs to make room for liberty."
On what it means to be an apostle
"But in terms of the role of the apostle, one of the biggest changes from traditional churches to the New Apostolic Reformation is the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. And the two key words are authority and individuals — and individuals as contrasted to groups. So now, apostles have been raised up by God who have a tremendous authority in the churches of the New Apostolic Reformation."
On the role of the prophet
"God has chosen certain people from the church to have the gift of prophecy. And it says in the Old Testament in the Book of Amos that God does nothing unless he first reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets. So that's a very key role. It hasn't been recognized by the church very much up until the New Apostolic Reformation, but we recognize the role of prophet."
On what he means when he describes the NAR's mission as taking dominion over business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family and religion
"In terms of taking dominion, we don't — we wouldn't want to - we use the word dominion, but we wouldn't want to say that we have dominion as if we're the owners or we're the rulers of, let's say, the arts and entertainment mountain. What we strive to do and our goal is to have people in the arts and entertainment mountain who are committed to the kingdom of God so therefore, we use the adjective there — kingdom-minded believers — and our goal is to try to have as many kingdom-minded believers in positions of influence in the arts and entertainment mountain as possible. And the reason for that is, to help bring the blessings of heaven to all those in the arts and entertainment mountain."
On dominionism and acquiring leadership positions in government
"We believe in working with any - with whatever political system there is. In America, it's democracy and working with the administrative, judicial and legislative branches of the government, the way they are but to have as many kingdom-minded people in influence in each one of these branches of government as possible so that the blessings of the kingdom will come."
On finding out that Ted Haggard, his World Prayer Center co-founder, had used drugs and had sex with men
"I don't think I've still recovered. Just by a matter of history, a few years before that happened, my wife Doris and I left the World Prayer Center, turned it back to Ted and went on a different route here in Colorado Springs so we were not closely associated. But when his homosexuality was revealed, it was a devastating blow to me because not only was he pastor of this influential church, he was president of the National Association of Evangelicals. And he was a representative of all of us and we all had a great deal of confidence in him. ... [I was] betrayed by somebody who was close to me and not only close to me, but an influential figure in the whole Evangelical movement. I mean, if he was exposed for adultery in heterosexuality, I would have had the same feeling."
On 40 Days of Light Over D.C., a prayer rally being organized by John Benefiel, the head of the Heartland Apostolic Reformation network and Cindy Jacobs, a prophet and the president of the missionary training group Generals International, using a picture of the Capitol with an illuminated cross on it
"I must say that both John Benefiel and Cindy Jacobs are very close to me. They're both aligned apostolically with me so I am part of what they do and they're part of what I do. I have not been part of the development of these 40 Days Over D.C., but because I'm so close to Cindy and John, I have given my tacit affirmation to what they're doing and I still do that. I happen to know the artist who drew that picture and I'm not sure that that might not be interpreted as a theocracy. ... I think that was probably a mistake. I think that the message that the artist intended to convey was that the kingdom-minded people would have a lot of influence in the Capitol, but I don't believe our Capitol ever wants a cross on top of it because that would be a sign of a theocracy."
On spiritual mapping to cast demons out of cities
"When you talk about demons over cities, we're talking about what - sometimes what we refer to as territorial spirits and they're more high-ranking spirits in the hierarchy of darkness and they're more powerful and they require different approaches and it's not as easy as commanding them to leave in the name of Jesus. So sometimes there has to be repentance, sometimes there has to be - there has been bloodshed in that city that needs to be repented of, there has been idolatry in the city that has ruined the land. There's been immorality that needs to be repented of and there are several social things that people really need to acknowledge that they're bad and repent of them and ask forgiveness. ... There are certain individuals in our whole movement that have special gifts for doing that and they're helping lead the way in weakening the power of the spirits. We don't believe we can kill demons and sometimes we don't believe we can completely get 'em out - get 'em away a city, but we can reduce their power. We can bind them and then we can move strongly with the kingdom of God into the city."
On Thomas Muthee praying over Sarah Palin at the Wasilla Assembly of God, and asking for Jesus to protect her from the spirit of witchcraft
"What Thomas was probably doing, and he and I are friends also, what he was probably doing was speculating that there would be some people who practiced witchcraft and other forms of the occult who would try and take Sarah Palin down through certain rituals or curses or other techniques that witches have and try to destroy her through those things. And I think Thomas was praying a shield of protection around Sarah so that she would not be affected by them."
On the role of Israel and Jews in preparing for the second coming
"We take literally what the Bible says. We believe that Israel composes the people of God and that they have fallen away at the moment, but that God has grafted the gentiles into the same roots. So that's why we're very strong support of Israel because we feel that Israel is the root of our faith. And so we support Israel strongly. We know that there is a - there's not really good religious freedom in Israel. We're very sorry about that. But the Bible says, that someday, and don't ask me how this is gonna happen because it seems impossible, that all of Israel will be saved. That they'll all believe in Jesus. And so we just take that by faith and none of our activities are geared toward that or anything else, but we just believe that that's gonna happen. So before Jesus returns, Israel, as a social group, will acknowledge Jesus Christ as their messiah."
"Well, we respect all religions, but we also respect the freedom of exercising our religion. And part of our religion is called evangelization. It's called presenting Jesus Christ to others and persuading them to become followers of Jesus Christ and walk into the kingdom of God. So we'd like to maintain our right in religious pluralism of exercising our privilege of winning other people to Christianity."