Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Joel's Army" theology and the White Princess

The "witch doctor" part of this comic cover has more relevance to the topic than you might want to think

Blogger Ruth at the TalktoAction blog looks at the brand of Pentecostal theology with which McCain's White Princess has been associated for most of her life in a two-part posting, Palin's Churches and the Third Wave 09/05/08 and in Part 2. She writes:

Sarah Palin has refused to acknowledge belonging to any specific denomination or any particular religious stream.
Since she's the heroine of the Christian Right, this fact in itself should raise a red flag.

However, it is now well documented that she spent her youth in an Assembly of God church and has regularly attended another AoG church, as well as two Independent Churches. At least three of four of these churches have close ties to prominent organizations and leaders in the Third Wave movement, also known as the New Apostolic Reformation.

This is a worldwide movement so completely ignored by the press that there is no single accepted term that has been coined for the identification for the group. In addition to Third Wave and New Apostolic Reformation, it is also referred to by the names of some of its more extreme theologies, such as Joel's Army and Manifest Sons of Destiny. Its roots are in a revival of the manifestations and beliefs of the New Order of Latter Rain which has been repeatedly condemned by the General Council of the Assemblies of God since 1949.
We saw in the case of the Rev. Jeramiah Wright earlier this year that the Establishment media are willing to scrutinize the religious beliefs of a Presidential candidate who has what the press corps and the Republicans regard as a scary black preacher. So far, the national press hasn't shown anything like a similar zeal in looking into the political-extremist and possible cultish aspects of the religious movements to which Sarah Palin has been so closely associated.

She provides this video by Bruce Wilson about the White Princess' Wasilla church and the brand of Petecostalism with which she has so closely associated herself:

Wilson gives more detailed documentation for the video in Sarah Palin's Demon Haunted Churches - The Complete Edition 09/08/08, also at the Talk to Action blog.

Ruth describes the recent organization of the "Third Wave" Dominionist movement as follows:

The movement is organized in the U.S. and around the world by networks of Apostles. The most extensive Apostolic network is headed by C. Peter Wagner, who has several hundred Apostles for whom he provides `Apostolic cover.' These Apostles then may have authority over hundreds or even thousands of churches or ministries, according to Wagner. Wagner is the founder of Global Harvest Ministries and the World Prayer Center, (sometimes jokingly referred to as the Pentagon of Spiritual Warfare) which shares the property of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. At the time of development of the center, the church was led by Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals before his scandal and departure.

Many of the unorthodox ideas of the Third Wave such as "spiritual mapping" and "strategic level spiritual warfare" were developed as missionary tools during the frenzy of missions that occurred by these groups in the lead up to the year 2000. Wagner developed a strategy for territorial spiritual warfare based on spiritual mapping. This idea came from Third Wave colleague Ed Silvoso who claimed to have used spiritual warfare to expel a warlock from the area of Arroyo Seco in Argentina which was blocking their efforts to plant churches. This supposedly cleared the way for the development of 82 new evangelical churches in the region. The methods of spiritual mapping were further developed and spread through the efforts of Wagner as a tool for world and U.S. missions.
She also focuses on some of the cult-like aspects of this movement:

The movement stresses obedience to authority. The term Shepherding has been largely dropped because of the negative connotations of groups like Maranatha which were accused of cult-like control over college students. However, structures in which members answer to someone in authority over them still exists.
Rick Warren and Tom Brokaw have asked Barack Obama and Joe Biden about the theological question of when a fetus becomes human. Will ABC's Charlie Gibson ask her about her views on notions such as the following from Third Wave Pentecostalism?

This is based on the belief that transformation of social ills can only occur through the supernatural means of a unified Christian effort. It is the presence of demons and territorial spirits, witches, and generational curses that cause problems in society. If the demons are driven out through spiritual warfare, prayer, and fasting, then the community will have conquered the enemy. Crime and corruption will decline, crops will overproduce, and enormous vegetables will grow. The problems of environment degradation, lack of water, and other severe ecological problems can only be solved if communities take the necessary steps taught by the transformation ministries to get God to heal the land. [my emphasis]
When we're talking about one of the two people who is going to become the next Dick Cheney in January 2009, this stuff matters.

And, yes, sadly, this is a singificant part of what democratic politics in America consists of today.

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