Lance Wallnau’s e book, “God’s Chaos Candidate” performed a big function in solidifying evangelical help for Donald Trump in 2016, brushing apart issues about his apparent lack of morality. 

Paula White-Cain gave the invocation at Trump’s inauguration in 2017, at his re-election marketing campaign kick-off in 2019 and his Jan. 6, 2021, pre-insurrection rally. On the second event, she gave what specialists describe as a ‘non secular warfare’ prayer: “Let each demonic community that’s aligned itself towards the aim, towards the calling of President Trump, let or not it’s damaged, let or not it’s torn down within the identify of Jesus.” 

Dutch Sheets engaged in a swing-state “prayer and prophecy tour” after Joe Biden’s election in November 2020, enjoying a number one function in constructing non secular help for the Jan. 6 rebellion, in coordination with Trump’s White Home. 

All three are outstanding members of a rapidly-growing, anti-democratic non secular motion referred to as the New Apostolic Reformation, which few People have heard of, besides in passing or by means of heated denials. However a brand new e book from Canadian scholar André Gagné, “American Evangelicals for Trump: Dominion, Non secular Warfare, and the Finish Occasions,” may change that, because the NAR appears poised to play a fair larger political function in 2024. 

Gagné’s e book is “a concise, authoritative primer on one of the consequential non secular and political actions of our time,” mentioned Frederick Clarkson, a senior analysis analyst at Political Analysis Associates (and Salon contributor), in a latest on-line dialogue. Whereas the NAR could also be complicated to outsiders, Gagné reveals that it’s knowable, Clarkson mentioned, as essentially the most energetic in style expression of dominionism, outlined as “the theocratic concept that … Christians are referred to as by God to train dominion over each side of society by taking management of political and cultural establishments.” 

Whereas the net dialogue itself was performed off the report, Gagné, Clarkson and a number of other different members engaged with Salon afterwards.

In 2011, Lance Wallnau informed his followers, “Should you’re speaking to a secular viewers, you do not discuss having dominion over them. This … language of takeover, it would not really assist.”

“Too most of the bigger public, and too many who report information, know little about this motion,” mentioned John Dorhauer, just lately retired common minister and president of the United Church of Christ, through electronic mail. “The lure one should keep away from in writing about this topic and reporting on the motion is to take action in a approach that comes throughout as credible with out sounding like a conspiracy theorist. The reality is you’re in actual fact writing a few conspiracy. Due to that, giant swaths of the American public are simply predisposed to dismiss this as too far-fetched to take significantly.”

Gagné’s e book is important, Dorhauer mentioned, as a result of he clarifies and differentiates “numerous ideologies, theologies and end-game eventualities” in methods significantly useful to “these of us trying to suppose strategically about tips on how to offset the injury to our democracy.”  

NAR, Clarkson defined, is difficult to know as a result of it’s “continually altering, [and] has factions in stress with each other. … They’re wily as a result of they’re apprehensive that the remainder of society will determine who they’re and what they’re as much as.”

Wallnau himself suggested warning to his followers in a 2011 dialogue: “Should you’re speaking to a secular viewers you do not discuss having dominion over them. This entire thought of taking up and that language of takeover, it would not really assist. It is good for preaching to the choir and it is shorthand if we interpret it proper, but it surely’s very dangerous for media.” 

Researcher Bruce Wilson describes NAR as “extremely experimental, all the time making an attempt new issues to see what work. The star megachurch ministries, amongst that are Invoice Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, California, Mike Bikel’s IHOP in Kansas Metropolis, and Rick Joyner’s Morningstar in South Carolina, are all hotbeds of innovation,” he mentioned. Wilson says he has uncovered well-funded packages launched “to obscure, to confuse and confound reporters and journalists and lecturers who’re writing about and discussing dominionist Christianity.”

The “most radical change” because the Protestant Reformation

Arguably the best power of Gagné’s e book is its “concentrate on how [NAR] adherents communicate of their beliefs and practices,” as he describes it, offering a coherent, goal report that may that’s not an outsider’s interpretation — thus evading an objection that non secular conservatives have invoked for many years when topic to undesirable scrutiny. That is mirrored each within the e book’s origin and in its essential clarification of the NAR, which C. Peter Wagner, who coined the time period, described as “essentially the most radical change in how church buildings function because the Protestant Reformation.”

Reasonably than focusing inward on nurturing their native congregations beneath the steering of elected church elders, NAR church buildings focus outward by networks in alignment with different church buildings, beneath the steering of higher-up “apostles,” to interact in “non secular warfare” towards demonic forces, and conquer the “seven mountains of tradition” and set up dominion over all of the world.  As Dorhauer says, it truly is a conspiracy geared toward controlling the world — within the identify of Jesus, in fact, with the self-reinforcing community of apostles and prophets claiming authority in his identify. 

The e book had its origins on Twitter, Gagné defined, as he utilized data from his two fields of curiosity — historical biblical texts (he has translated the Gospel of Thomas) and the methods folks make sense of them — to assist folks perceive Trump’s seemingly unlikely enchantment to spiritual voters. 

“I did lengthy threads about evangelicals and the Bible, and the reception of the Bible by evangelicals and their fascination with energy and with Trump,” he informed me. Initially, his greatest viewers was in Europe, which led to the primary model of this e book being printed in French in September 2000. “I wrote it in about three months as a result of the deadline was very brief,” he recalled. This in flip spurred curiosity in an English translation, now printed with a further preface, epilogue and indices. 

This actually is a conspiracy geared toward controlling the world — within the identify of Jesus, in fact, with a self-reinforcing community of apostles and prophets claiming authority in his identify.

By specializing in the phrases of these concerned, Gagné cuts by monumental quantities of confusion across the NAR. Its defining attribute, he writes, “pertains to the ‘quantity of non secular authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to people,’” which was additionally “relevant to non-charismatic church leaders.”

The NAR mannequin, he writes, “revolves across the restoration of the five-fold ministry [a concept drawn from Ephesians, referring to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers] and an apostolic system of governance. This mannequin challenges the democratic buildings of church buildings,” primarily reversing the Protestant Reformation’s centering of the person believer understanding their very own salvation, and its democratic church governance buildings based mostly on methods of elders.

“Wagner by no means noticed himself because the founding father of the NAR, however reasonably coined the time period ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ to explain one thing that he believed already existed,” Gagné informed me. For instance, Wagner cited the “African unbiased church motion” of the early twentieth century and the “Chinese language rural home church motion that was round within the mid-Seventies. After which he talks in regards to the third giant element of the NAR, which for him was the grassroots church motion in Latin America,” additionally within the Seventies.

What Wagner noticed in these examples and others, Gagné mentioned, “was a brand new mode of church governance which centered on apostolic management and networks.” So he didn’t declare credit score for the concept, however did create new networks to maintain the NAR each in America and all over the world, “most notably the Worldwide Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and its U.S. affiliate, USCAL.” Wagner even included “all types of people and teams and church buildings” who would possibly object to their inclusion within the NAR, one other supply of confusion. However whereas he wished to incorporate all types of church buildings with robust, charismatic management, the overwhelming majority of NAR leaders and followers are “neo-charismatic Pentecostals,” or NCPs as Gagné calls them.

Wilson takes a extra microscopic strategy to find out who’s or is not within the NAR. “My benchmark or heuristic for figuring that out is: Do they work collectively, and do they appear to be advancing a typical political agenda?” he mentioned. “In my expertise, the NAR is all about networking, and who particular person leaders community with, affiliate with, is all the things.” 

Dominion theology, “victorious eschatology” and the Seven Mountain Mandate 

In relation to theology, Gagné focuses on the “thought of wanting to ascertain the dominion of God on earth, the notion of dominion,” a thread lengthy current in evangelical Christianity, however largely extra as an aspiration than a grasp plan, as it’s for the NAR. “Wagner was clear on what had influenced him by way of dominion theology,” Gagné mentioned, and particularly referenced Calvinist thinker and theologian R.J. Rushdoony, the founder of what’s referred to as “Christian Reconstruction.” (See Julie Ingersoll’s e book “Constructing God’s Kingdom: Contained in the World of Christian Reconstructionism,” and a Salon interview.) 

One other essential affect was onetime evangelical bishop Earl Paulk, who “popularized a instructing that is named ‘kingdom now,’” Gagné mentioned, which claimed that “Christ in us should take dominion over the earth…. The subsequent transfer of God can’t happen till Christ in us takes dominion.” 

It’s value noting right here that the dominionist perception in dramatically increasing Christians’ energy over the secular world is inherently in battle with beforehand extra in style evangelical beliefs that the sinful world ought to be left behind, as mirrored within the in style “Left Behind” novel sequence. In distinction, Gagné mentioned, “Wagner had a view which is named ‘victorious eschatology,” the place he hyperlinks that concept to dominion theology.” He quotes Wagner saying, “We not settle for the concept society will worsen and worse, as a result of we now imagine God’s mandate is to remodel society, so it will get higher and higher.” 

If victorious eschatology and dominion theology match collectively, so do two different components of the NAR philosophy. The primary of these is the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” an thought first developed within the mid-70s by Lauren Cunningham and Invoice Vibrant.

The dominionist perception in dramatically increasing Christians’ energy over the secular world is inherently in battle with beforehand extra in style evangelical beliefs that the sinful world ought to be left behind.

“The Seven Mountain Mandate shouldn’t be a theology, it is extra of a strategic advertising software to mobilize folks,” Gagné defined. “If Christians are to rule … that is what I name the political theology of energy. However how do you mobilize folks to behave upon that concept? You provide you with a mobilizing technique and that technique is the Seven Mountain Mandate.” The mountains symbolize completely different points of tradition: faith, politics, schooling, household, enterprise, arts and leisure, and media. “The aim is to have Christians in influential positions — perhaps on the prime of these mountains — to affect the tradition of every of the sectors of society. And while you do this you’ll train dominion. That is the way you result in God’s kingdom.” 

The main promoter of this concept was Lance Wallnau, whose e book “Invading Babylon – The 7 Mountains Mandate” factors towards one other essential aspect: the concept of non secular warfare. That has lengthy been a part of evangelical rhetoric, however Wagner dramatically expanded on it within the Nineties, figuring out three distinct ranges. 

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The primary, “ground-level non secular warfare,” entails issues like exorcism and the casting out of demons, akin to the powers Jesus supposedly conferred on his disciples. The second, “occult-level non secular warfare,” concerned battling demonic powers appearing by purportedly occult practices, which means something from yoga to Satanism to New Age spirituality. The third, “strategic-level non secular warfare,” entails battling towards an imagined hierarchy of high-ranking demonic spirits that management geographic and demographic entities, together with the demonic networks aligned towards Trump that Paula White-Cain prayed to be damaged and torn down.

All of this, Gagné says, relies on profoundly misreading the Bible. NAR leaders “are usually not all the time keen to anchor the studying of the Bible in accordance with extra conventional Christian interpretation — and even much less so on scholarly exegesis. There’s a whole lot of subjective interpretation, there’s a whole lot of ‘I am studying myself into the Bible and into the tales of the Bible.’ We have to be very very cautious in how we contextualize these passages on non secular warfare. There isn’t any place within the New Testomony the place Christians are literally referred to as to actively pursue the satan, to actively have interaction towards non secular forces,” he pressured. “If you learn Ephesians 6, and it says you tackle ‘the entire armor of God,’ it is a metaphor for religion and the phrase of God and salvation … this provides you power to withstand the satan. It is a very private combat. It is not like I am participating the satan left and proper towards principalities and powers in all places.”

Gagné has been studying the works of the early Christian monks referred to as the “Desert Fathers.” “They discuss non secular battle. And non secular warfare is inside them,” he mentioned. “It is about mastering the passions which might be main you astray from God’s will. It is not about participating adversaries left and proper that do not agree with you politically. There’s none of that within the Bible.” 

Non secular warfare and the 2020 election

“For the reason that Trump presidency, and particularly because the creation of Paula White-Cain as a non secular adviser near Trump, there was a mainstreaming of non secular warfare,” Gagné mentioned. “She’s the one which had essentially the most seen platform to observe this, and we now have multitudes of movies to show this,” akin to White-Cain’s aforementioned invocation at Trump’s first re-election rally, that includes a “non secular warfare prayer” that features “demonizing Trump’s political adversaries.”

Now, Gagné says, “all that language is out in public. All people’s listening to this continually,” and right-wing political figures “are utilizing this an increasing number of as methods to demonize their political adversaries, to disqualify them.”

Non secular warfare rhetoric and beliefs intensified over the course of the 2020 election marketing campaign, together with prophecies of Trump’s re-election as God’s instrument. However that “did not prove so nicely,” Gagne famous wryly, and pro-Trump “prophets wound up trying very dangerous.” Denial was the primary response of many, who took half in numerous protests culminating on Jan. 6, when White-Cain spoke on the rally the place Trump exhorted the group to go to the Capitol and “combat like hell.” 

A day earlier, Trump’s hyper-Christian supporters held a “Jericho March” across the Supreme Courtroom, the place the imagery was “extraordinarily violent,” Gagné mentioned, pushed by visions “of  destruction, demise … conquering one’s political adversaries, turning over the precise regime. It is not shocking that [we saw] Christians concerned within the storming of the Capitol with their banners and their shofars due to all this hyped-up non secular warfare rhetoric. That was the consequence. It is an unwillingness to simply accept the outcomes of democracy.”

“It is not shocking that we noticed Christians concerned in storming the Capitol with their banners and their shofars due to all this hyped-up non secular warfare rhetoric. That was the consequence.”

Trump’s “massive lie” was hottest amongst NAR believers, but additionally produced a break up that appears to have grown extra critical. In April 2021, a bunch of NAR leaders posted a Prophetic Requirements Assertion “designed to extend accountability whereas persevering with to encourage and help this present” (which means the present of prophecy), as Charisma journal described it. However most of the most high-profile apostles and prophets didn’t signal on. Gagné and Clarkson have written in regards to the unfolding rift right here and right here. 

The state of affairs now highlights each the NAR’s strengths and weaknesses. “Their power is that they are stealth,” Gagné mentioned. “No one has to hold a card to be a part of the NAR,” which is basically a motion of concepts that now “boasts now some 2000 apostles in 85 completely different nations the world over.” However the lack of inflexible construction additionally feeds into the motion’s weak point, together with the ideological or theological schisms which have just lately appeared. 

“Media has an important function to play in talking about this motion and the way it will use the levers of democracy to ultimately subvert democracy,” Gagné mentioned. “If we do not get it proper, folks cannot perceive what it’s.” 

One main impediment, Wilson warns, is the right-wing infrastructure meant to obscure and defend dominionism. His analysis has uncovered a bunch of sympathetic ultra-wealthy people referred to as the Gathering, who he says meet month-to-month. “They’ve specialists to advise them on tips on how to finest make investments their philanthropic {dollars} to advance the dominion — that is explicitly what it is about.” They’ve additionally “created their very own program to advance the careers of younger students going into the Ivy League.” 

Wilson additionally cited “one other operation referred to as the Religion Angle Discussion board, which grooms journalists — it misinforms and misleads journalists in regards to the non secular proper in a really superior approach” at all-expenses-paid retreats concentrating on “prime journalists from all the highest venues — the New York Occasions, the New Yorker, the Atlantic.” Wilson says he has audio recordings of founder Michael Cromartie “speaking about how the Washington Publish went to him to pick good reporters to cowl faith. Mainly Cromartie was on the Rolodex of each faith and politics reporter of any observe.” 

One useful resource to assist counter this can be a three-part “reporters information” to NAR that Gagné and Clarkson wrote for Faith Dispatches. It’s a useful begin, however extra can be wanted. Gagné’s e book, as Clarkson notes, it’s “directly the primer for learners and a information for the perplexed for individuals who are already tackling it.” 

“The rise to energy of Home Speaker Mike Johnson, himself an energetic participant within the NAR, makes this work on this topic so essential,” Dorhauer mentioned. “We’re very late within the sport making an attempt to determine what occurred, who made it occur, what their motives are, what their endgame is, and the way we cease this.”

Certainly one of Gagné’s closing factors is that “We have now to cease mocking” the NAR and different dominionists, “as a result of these persons are very critical…. We have now to cease downplaying it and put a lightweight on it and say, ‘They imagine this.’ We’re not the measure of all the world. Folks have other ways of conceptualizing the world and the way folks ought to stay in it.” The essential response, he mentioned, is “taking it very significantly, and reporting about it very significantly. Politicians ought to find out about it additionally, and will do what is critical to ensure that America stays a pluralistic and democratic society.”

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