Charismatic World Domination

Okay, even though the media would like to paint the whole charismatic family as crazy, let me go back to the family tree and try to point out the norms and the crazy uncles.

Imagine me, now an apologist for charismania.  How did that happen?  I would rather see informed critique from insiders than misinformation from those who haven’t been there.

Some things just aren’t meant for watching.  If you are not an active participant experiencing the situation, there is an element of voyeurism that makes charismatic experiences seem bizarre.  Even “normal” charismatic stuff looks weird on video to those who are unfamiliar with charismatic experience.

Writers are now taking all of these terms and movements and lumping them together into an accusation of cultic conspiracy for world domination.  The bottom line is that that is an exaggeration.  For the most part, many of these terms are linked with the average charismatic church.

Starting at the beginning

Pentecostals of every stripe believe in the supernatural.  Period.  Degrees of normalcy and extremism vary greatly.

Pentecostals of every stripe believe in the possibility of divine intervention when they pray, including the possibility of miracles, healing, and deliverance or relief from evil, pain, and suffering.

Again degrees of extremism in expression of this belief vary widely.  In spite of the recent Todd Bentley debacle, very few pentecostal/charismatics would consider kicking or head-butting a valid method of healing prayer.  To use this as an example of what charismatics believe is misinformed.

As I said in my previous post, almost all charismatics today have influences of latter-rain teaching.  This in no way implies that they have embraced the extremes of latter-rain heresy. In another post we will take a look at some of these doctrines and where they factor in.

The charismatic movement brought the pentecostal experience to mainstream churches.  Also many independent fellowships formed from this movement.  The term charismatic is now often used interchangeably with pentecostal although technically there are differences.

For the most part charismatic now refers to christians who believe in the supernatural.  There is a wide range of expression and degrees of normalcy or weirdness encompassed in this group.

The shepherding/discipleship movement was very short lived.  There are very few groups directly linked to that movement.  However beliefs about accountability, covering, and alignment can be traced back to the teachings of this movement, for example recent references to apostolic alignment.

What about the “evil” Third Wave, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), Dominionism, Joel’s Army?

Well, let’s break it down.

Third Wave is a “junk drawer” term that encompasses much more than just the NAR.  As you can see from the charismatic family tree, there are other groups that fall under this label.  Even those groups who are not directly third wave associate with third wave groups through conferences, teaching, and other events.  In other words, you technically, by association, could tag most charismatics with this label today.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they embrace the extremes that can be found in various sectors of this group.

New Apostolic Reformation refers specifically to Peter Wagner’s group of apostles.  Many leaders within the charismatic realm today are linked either directly or indirectly to this group.  The participation of most individuals and churches with NAR is simply as consumers of the books and conferences sold by the leaders connected with this group.

The term dominionism is inaccurately attributed to this group.  The actual term dominionism more accurately reflects the christian nationalism that is often portrayed by the Religious Right.  The language of dominion within charismatic groups translates more to eschatological (end times) ideas than actual socio-political influence.

Joel’s Army is a minimal threat risk.  It is not an organized movement to train youth to take over the world.  It is hyper-spiritual language to rally christians and create a sense of importance and purpose concerning their place in the christian realm.  Outside of their own circles of prayer and conferences there is little relevance to politics, the United States, or world domination.

That is a brief overview about what these terms actually mean in the charismatic world.  I hope that it is helpful in determining what is normal charismatic christianity and what has been exaggerated.

I will take a closer look at latter-rain doctrine in another post.


27 thoughts on “Charismatic World Domination

  1. Thanks peggy. However, it isn’t likely that the posts at my little blog will be read by those who are reading the misinformation being widely spread by the big blogs. Oh well.

  2. Thanks for this, grace. This series of articles may be just what you need to launch you into global stardom. (Har har.)


    Joel’s Army is a minimal threat risk. It is not an organized movement to train youth to take over the world. It is hyper-spiritual language to rally christians and create a sense of importance and purpose concerning their place in the christian realm. Outside of their own circles of prayer and conferences there is little relevance to politics, the United States, or world domination.

    is brilliant. It’s what I felt (but couldn’t quite articulate so well) when I was watching Jesus Camp – they were using very militant language, but having been raised in that (sub)culture, I knew better than to consider it actually/politically threatening.

  3. Thanks for helping to sort out the confusing jumble of terms that are being thrown about now in the MSM and linked together in ways that probably do not resemble what people see in their churches.

    One very important question (for me, anyway), is what should congregants look for in their own churches with regard to some of these teachings – as you pointed out many churches today have bits and pieces of these teachings, or have associations with some people associated with these teachings.

    When do the bits and pieces become a problem, for the everyday person in the pew or the potential VP candidate?

  4. Regarding the “Joel’s Army” mentality: I am not so convinced it is harmless.

    Lou Engle & The Call or Ron Luce of Acquire the Fire are indoctrinating youth with a supernatural destiny emphasis that makes them the harbingers of God’s new manifest dominion/government here on earth.

    They are being told they are chosen to display the power of God to bring the world into alignment under divine rulership. They do believe they are to influence current governments/policies/nations with the sign/wonders of God that makes people conform to a new godly standard however it is they perceive it…

    It is a form of religious brainwashing don’t y0u think? Mix in a dose of fasting/intercession/music/worship, etc. & you can work up quite the religious frenzy with an energized youth…

    Maybe the intent is of a spiritual nature/tone, but they do believe it is to be manifest in this real, earthly realm & they are wield the supernatural powers to bring the world to its knees… :(

  5. daniel,
    It is difficult and somewhat frustrating to have to explain to those who are unfamiliar with it how such militant language is actually empty of any real-world expression.

    That was my question also, and I plan to explore some of the doctrinal issues in a future post. As far as what constitutes a problem for a VP candidate, that’s up to whatever the individual voter considers problematic.

    My experience has been that this emphasis actually results in a greater degree of disconnection, separatism, and withdrawal from real society. Due to hyper-spirituality, most charismatics are not able to translate their divine destiny into the earthly realm and seldom express any type of supernatural power or manifestation outside of their meetings.

    Yes, in their minds they will rule and reign with Christ. In reality, it is way off somewhere in the future.

  6. I grew up in various charismatic expressions and still consider myself charistmatic (but to a much lesser degree). you’re doing a great job breaking all this down :)

    I think it’s so important for people to understand what you said about the “voyeuristic” component of looking at it all from the outside – it’s even uncomfortable for me to watch a healing service where I am not in attendance (like on TV).

  7. Grace,

    All I can say is ‘thank you’ … your contribution is like a breath of fresh. I have a great love for what I call ‘the obvious ministry of the holy spirit’ but have always been greatly challenged by the ‘control’ issues associated with it.

  8. Thanks, Grace. Dominionism is a big one, and it reminds me of Manifest Destiny. I would like to research those two out a little more. Keep up the good work here! :)

  9. makeesha,
    Thanks for sharing your perspective. I was hoping that my explanations were applicable to the average charismatic experience (whatever that is!).

    Thanks paul!

    It seems the more I explore this, the more I have to say. I have a couple more related posts written. Dominionism is an imperialistic attitude like Manifest Destiny. Charismatics tend to be spiritually/eschatologically dominionist, but not literally.

  10. Very good post. Certainly one of the best, most succinct, overviews I’ve read.

    I have a fair amount Pentecostal and Charismatic in my past as well so come at this knowing what you’re saying. I’m like Makeesha, as I still (sort of) consider myself with these movements, though certainly not fully on board anymore.

    The problem as I see it is that there is a weird mix of immense spiritual immaturity with what are normally (traditionally) very advanced spiritual realities.

    In the early church we see those who are most grounded, most in tune with Christ, most mature, being the ones who could heal and prophesy. Now, however, it’s a lot like quick weight loss. People want the results without the longstanding effort or discipline.

    This leaves what are, I think, often true realities in the hands of people who are overwhelmed by such and get lost. I think of the OT references to the Spirit, like Saul among the prophets, who are filled by the Spirit and then go into an almost frenzy. Drunk in a way.

    They don’t know how to handle their Spirit. :-)

    The mature soul learns to dance with God, not become overcome or stricken or frenzied.

    But when the immature become the more standout representatives, it becomes easy to dismiss the whole reality they’re talking about.

    Your point about not being really made for watching made me think of an analogy I’ve often used. Really, it’s a lot like a particularly exciting concert. Watch people in the crowd and they’re caught up in the moment–dancing, singing, swaying, filled with intense emotion–becoming a bit laughable even if someone outside that intense moment watches them.

    Meaning, I suppose, there’s a lot more emotion than Spirit in a lot of what we see. But that doesn’t mean there’s no Spirit, to be sure.

  11. Due to hyper-spirituality, most charismatics are not able to translate their divine destiny into the earthly realm and seldom express any type of supernatural power or manifestation outside of their meetings.

    I happen to agree with your general observation that the extreme prophetic/spiritual warfare youth oriented rallies/conferences/schools/organizations that mix extreme religious disciplines (fasting, intercession, rejection of worldly ways, etc.) with dominion themed teachings do not actually deliver on the acquisition of real supernatural power to become God’s Power Rangers for their generation. I do not believe that is what God’s priority or purpose truly is for the church age as we experience it now. However, there is a level of high expectation placed on young impressionable minds that is not harmless. They have leaders telling them they are the chosen ones. The elect. The Benjamin generation (the youngest & most favored). They are the apple of God’s eye & He has waited all these centuries to unleash this newly empowered faithful to usher in God’s reign & rule over all earthly powers…

    The letdown factor has to be enormous for those kids that soberly realize (not remain in denial) that they do not meet the qualifications of being specially empowered. They realize their human nature is definitely more real than the super-spiritual status that is supposed to bring it & the world under submission. They compare their fervor to the other hyped-up types & after awhile recognize they are not like them. Such an emphasis on hyper-spirituality creates an unhealthy hierarchy of elitism. Most kids cannot be so super spiritual all the time. And the special attention given to those kids that manifest some gifting or meet the qualities the organization cherishes makes the chasm between the few haves with the majority of have-nots only more glaring.

    Many young people will be crushed, wounded, injured, rejected & ultimately left with no safety net within their ultra-religious world. They discover they were not really chosen or gifted or specially anointed with divine power to perform miracles. They grow up. Enter their late 20’s & realize either God passed them over or else they must reject the teachings & peer group/organization they wholeheartedly embraced.

    And then there are the John Hagee types that are actively involved in politics & want the good ol’ USA to be the hammer of God to the rest of the world. Protect Israel at all costs! Hell, nuke Iran & usher in Armageddon! Get Jesus back here now! Damn the rest of humanity since they are safe within their theological bomb shelter out there in San Antonio, TX. Scary really. Not at all harmless IMHO.

    Just how far will some wacked out Christian go that actually does believe they are the kingpin to God’s end time plans? Harmless? I think not… :(

  12. patrick,
    It is true that manifestation of spiritual gifts is not directly connected to maturity and character. Our relationships with one another should create a type of accountability that does connect the operation of spiritual gifts with an ongoing demonstration of spiritual transformation and growth. Instead, we not only embrace every immature manifestation, we actually put them on the platform. That will always be a trainwreck waiting to happen.

    I wouldn’t expect experiences of the Spirit to be disconnected from our emotions. They actually probably should impact us emotionally. What matters is what is changed in us after the experience. If it is just a thrill or a chill with no lasting effect, I question if perhaps it was only an emotional experience.

    Very good point. I absolutely agree with you that this kind of rhetoric is damaging to youth and negatively impacts their worldview, their identity, and their view of the kingdom. I have seen it happen too many times – young adults with no clue how to enter in to real life in the real world. Often it is the spiritually gifted kids who suffer the most from this.

    I am not familiar with John Hagee’s teaching. It is not something that I have encountered in my charismatic experience. If he is a charismatic, it sounds like he would be one of the crazy uncles.

  13. I am not familiar with John Hagee’s teaching. It is not something that I have encountered in my charismatic experience. If he is a charismatic, it sounds like he would be one of the crazy uncles.

    Look up “crazy uncle Hagee” on his ministry website. It is quite eye-opening to be sure.

    He is not a minor player in the end times scenario his followers have embraced. And he is as charismaniac as they come…

  14. Grace,
    Well done with cutting down to the nitty-gritty regarding these definitions. Many of these groups and individual “leaders” (I believer) certainly are…well…treading on dangerous water, and in my opinion, God is not in them. (Peter C. Wagner et al, Paula White, and many others).

    ~Amy :)

  15. Regarding Hagee, here’s a snippet from a newstory by Jane Hamser on February 29. “Mr. McCain, who has been on a steady search for support among conservative and evangelical leaders who have long distrusted him, said he was “very honored” by Mr. Hagee’s endorsement. Asked about Mr. Hagee’s extensive writings on Armageddon and about what one questioner said was Mr. Hagee’s belief that the anti-Christ will be the head of the European Union, Mr. McCain responded that “all I can tell you is that I am very proud to have Pastor John Hagee’s support.”

    And another article from Newsmax in May, “McCain was pressed on the issue Friday morning in Round Rock, Texas. Hagee “supports what I stand for and believe in,” McCain said . . . McCain actively courted Hagee, who leads a megachurch with a congregation in the tens of thousands and has an even wider television audience. Former GOP presidential rivals also sought Hagee’s backing.”

    McCain finally distanced himself from Hagee. McCain rejected the months-old endorsement of Texas preacher John Hagee after an audio recording surfaced in which the preacher said God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land. McCain called the comment “crazy and unacceptable.”

    “Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement” he said.

  16. Fascinating posts, Grace! My contact with Pentecostals or Charismatics has been limited to a handful of experiences. Some were scary and some were laughable. So this is very helpful.

  17. I’m finding these posts very thought provoking … I keep thinking and praying that some might not do the baby and bathwater thing though.

    I certainly – strongly believe in the supernatural and as you affirm there is a wide range of expression.

  18. Mark R:

    After reading numerous blogs & comments both pro & con about the recent brouhaha associated with Lakeland, Todd Bentley & the super-apostle/prophet entaglement one has to ask the most obvious question: where is the baby?

    That tub of dirty bathwater seems to be the only thing remaining of the whole fiasco. And it has been something the world/scoffers have used effectively to ‘baptize’ anybody loosely affiliated with charismatic Chrisitanity. And I believe it is ammunition being used effectively in this case.

    I think the baby, like Elvis, done left the building long before Todd walked onto that Lakeland stage. But you get the feeling from the vocal supporters of anything related to the Lakeland event (I refuse to categorize it as a ‘revival’; more like a ‘revile’ in a very real sense) that they wish to hawk that dirty bathwater as genuine holy water…

    People still believe Todd to be the unction man. They believe he will be restored, that he is the herald of a new move of God upon the earth. This entire hyper supernatural+prophetic+apolstolic dynamic or fallout or controversy now being experienced has convinced me that deception is alive & well in the very camps that claim to have the greater discernment…

    Jesus’ comment comes to mind: “But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

    Once the dirty water was removed there was no baby to throw out. That is the more common misconception of those wanting to comingle the holy with the flesh & then justify it as God’s good seal of approval.

    Don’t worry about me. I, for one, am not endangering any babies anytime soon. And the sudden exposure of Todd’s ‘issues’ & the backpedaling of the ‘apostolic alignment committee’ has me imagining this scenario in heaven: God is handing out mops & buckets to the angels with this directive, “Clean up in all aisles there in Lakeland, FL…”

  19. Grace,

    Thank you for this very helpful series of essays.

    My past 8-10 years have been an experience of laying aside a cessationist theology and embracing the reality of the Holy Spirit who even yet is active in the people of God and the world of the Father. This growth experience has come with jolting starts, mistakes, misperceptions, and a few brilliant demonstrations of supernatural power. However, it is still true that “all that glitters is not gold”…


  20. Joseph,

    You wrote;

    Once the dirty water was removed there was no baby to throw out. That is the more common misconception of those wanting to comingle the holy with the flesh & then justify it as God’s good seal of approval.

    Total agreement about the “bath water”.

    Question though…when you speak of “comingl(ing) the holy with the flesh” in what sense are you using “flesh”? “Flesh” as the operational attitudes and paradigms of sinful humanity?


  21. Tom:

    My inference merely a sarcastic one that is akin to the uber-prophetic types that have taught about “profane fire” (ref. Lev 10). In this instance though, I implied the comingling of real divine healing power mixed in with the bullshit of human ego/manipulation/hype/exaggeration/exploitation that represented more ‘carnival’ (carnal) than holy.

    No one can adequately divide/compartmentalize the Holy Spirit from our spirit. I think that dichotomy an artificial one in the life of a Christian. God’s purpose, of course, to sanctify that which is now the repository (sanctuary) of His Spirit in human temples. However, there is a simple notion of being of sound character with impeccable integrity in any expression we do for the King. When it is passed off as a “dog-and-pony-show” of charismatic proportions one has to be cautious about attributing God’s seal of approval to such inanity.

    Maybe I am the jaded asshole in this consideration, but if I am ever to fully recover from my charismaniac/prophetic-rhetoric church detox then charismatic circuses that Lakeland represented best be brought to a screeching halt real quick. I have no tolerance to even think some ‘sincere’ (not sarcastic here) Christian would really go to great lengths to represent God & the kingdom & the heritage of the saints as it was promoted by the Strader family & Bentley & GodTV (Rory & Wendy Alec). I am embarrassed (as in “bare assed”) as both a believer & post-charismatic because this is what was overly promoted as the current move of God. How f*#@ing irresponsible is that! And nobody making any reasonable attempt at repentance/ownership/humilty/confession.

    Such instances do indeed “fire me up!” But not the way the peddlers of uber-apostolic/prophetic/faith-healer types imply…

    God be praised He is indeed a patient Daddy. If He endured the scorn of sinful humanity 2,000 years ago & forgave them then I am sure He has not changed His motivation this time either. I just wish there was a way to administer a ‘holy spanking’ on those unruly types that go out of their way to bring undue attention to the rest of the family… :(

  22. Joseph O – you misunderstand my friend.

    I agree with your comments but many – especially those on the right, will site the Lakeland experience as why we should have NOTHING to do with the supernatural.

    This is sad, because many will USE this meltdown to suit their own agendas and powerplays, manipulating what ‘they’ thnk should be learnt from such situations and tragedy. – they are already doin it.


  23. Mark:

    If by meaning “having nothing to do with the supernatural” you mean a manifestation of the miraculous like Jesus/Apostles expressed, then even they had their naysayers (i.e. the pig farmers).

    But, really now, putting the onus on the reactionary ones by stating they will use the Lakeland fiasco to suit their agendas & powerplays? Whoa now, who were the ones stooping to supra-natural claims & having a ‘revival’ agenda & putting on the big show under the big top? And it is now the problem with those that actually were discerning, cautionary, disturbed, grieved that want to use this as proof of man’s defiling of the sacred?

    What, exactly, of supernatural origin is being dissed in any of the concerns written about so far? Those that are true anti-charismatic by theological bent or tradition certainly do not need the Lakeland event to sway their perspectives. But those curious bystanders & seekers that want to know if the miraculous is available today were the victims here, not those that do not believe the gifts are for today.

    Lakeland should be exposed for what it is. And the anti-charismatics & the scoffers & the charismatics that were injured in the fallout are better for it IMHO. The fake, inflated, hyped, exaggerated, in short, the ‘lies’ have to be addressed. No one should have to wade through all that crap to get to the hidden nugget of true miraculous. The wild claims, the happy testimony times, the outrageous antics; let’s dispense with them & seek the real, genuine miracles that change individual lives, not a stadium full of signs/wonders seekers.

    No one, and I do mean no one, should cheapen the supernatural by attempting to make of it something it is not. God does not need the PR, or the stage ministries, or GodTV or any other contrivance to be the same God He was when touching the lepers or raising the dead or giving sight to the blind. He does not need all the razzle/dazzle of pompous charismania to represent His power/glory to a dark & needy world.

    Lakeland should become a lesson learned of how not to do the kingdom business out in the Court of Gentiles where you can buy books/CDs/DVDs/materials on every contrived super-spiritual experience claimed by those that will eagerly take your money.

    Lakeland is the epitome of consumerist religious stuff. Quick fix, 3rd heaven, angelic contact, dramatic healing, power displayed phoniness that God is not about to orchestrate to manisfest His pure character. Todd does not have any special anointment, unction, power or favor from God. He is not gifted at anything. He is not the next best thing to Jesus/Paul. He has been promoted, elevated, aligned, commisioned, flattered & manipulated like many that bought into the PR. He was groomed, trained & turned loose by those that use the supernatual as a magic tonic to mesmerize the susceptible & those that want to really believe it is God at work.

    Maybe we should all be true closet charismatics & not public ones. Pray in your closet. Pray for healing in private. Be unwilling to seek the praise & platitudes of men. No fanfare. No trumpets blaring to announce your anointment level. No claims of supernatural ability or commission or authority or whatever. What I do know is this: God is not at all hindered by the excesses of a Lakeland event. And His miraculous power is still at work throughout the world where it is confirming the kingdom/gospel. And you will not hear the names of those saints proclaimed on a website or some ministry organization or appear in a public setting to solicit finances to pay for their special promotion that is being billed as God’s next great outpouring…

  24. joseph,
    I looked up Hagee. It would appear that he is a crazy uncle on the word of faith branch. Actually I heard that there has recently been division within the word of faith realm over beliefs about Israel although I don’t know the specifics or the players.

    God is merciful in giving us opportunities to turn when we have veered off. Sometimes it is harder for leaders to make those turns because they are so public, yet they also affect and influence many people.

    Interesting. I would assume that for McCain, it is about the votes, not the doctrine. I know this topic isn’t of interest to everyone, but as I said at your blog, the misrepresentations concerning charismatic beliefs bothered me.

    I believe that future expression of the supernatural will have very little resemblance to traditional charismatic practice. For now, I think that information is useful in determining what is bathwater. Lakeland wasn’t a great example of life-giving, kingdom-natured supernatural expression.

    I think you are right. However, I believe that it is easier for those of us who have already detoxed to look at this situation objectively.

    Thanks Tom. The reality of the Spirit can certainly withstand scrutiny and observation. He is more than capable of leading us in Truth.

    Interesting conversation everyone!

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