It was on The Rachel Maddow Show back on August 10 that I first heard of the New Apostolic Reformation. That segment, viewable above (transcript available online), aired just before Rick Perry entered the 2012 presidential race, and just after his August 6th prayer rally — “The Response” — at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

The website for that rally (TheResponseUSA.com) has since been taken down, but on the Wayback Machine we can still read Gov. Perry’s invitation to the rally, where “thousands will gather to pray for a historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose.” It was the website’s front page. Rick Perry hosted and led the prayer rally. “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis,” drew an estimated 30,000 people.

According to an August 3 Texas Observer story by Forrest Wilder, “Rick Perry’s Army of God,” Perry gave leading roles in the rally to self-proclaimed prophets and apostles of the New Apostolic Reformation movement, a “little-known but increasingly influential movement at the periphery of American Christianity .”

In an August 24 segment of her NPR show Fresh Air (“The Evangelicals Engaged In Spiritual Warfare“), Terry Gross interviewed Rachel Tabachnick, a researcher and co-founder of the blog NARWatch: New Apostolic Reformation Watch, who has been examining NAR, along with “its leading architect,” C. Peter Wagner.

C. Peter Wagner recently retired as president of Global Harvest Ministries and gave the New Apostolic Reformation movement its name. He is seen in the 1993 video above, which attracted renewed attention this past July thanks to a Right Wing Watch blog post entitled, “The Company That Rick Perry Keeps: Peter Wagner On Sex With Demons.” In the video, Wagner describes how the Emperor of Japan has had sex with “the sun goddess,” causing the Japanese stock market to fall ever since. Right Wing Watch has posted a number of articles about C. Peter Wagner.

The relationship between Rick Perry and the New Apostolic Reformation is interesting in both directions. According to Forrest Wilder’s Texas Observer story, while Perry gave NAR “prophets and apostles leading roles” in his Reliant Stadium prayer rally — they in turn are interested in “infiltrating politics and government”:

The new prophets and apostles believe Christians—certain Christians—are destined to not just take “dominion” over government, but stealthily climb to the commanding heights of what they term the “Seven Mountains” of society, including the media and the arts and entertainment world. They believe they’re intended to lord over it all. As a first step, they’re leading an “army of God” to commandeer civilian government.

What’s also curious is how little attention this relationship has received from the network news.

Remember the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his relationship with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, and how many times the nightly news played those controversial video clips? To date, far less scrutiny has been devoted to Perry’s endorsers, who reportedly believe in a Dominion Theology under which their “divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God’s creation …”

Yesterday on Fresh Air, Terry Gross aired her in-depth interview with C. Peter Wagner, “A Leading Figure In The New Apostolic Reformation.”

It is absolutely fascinating listening. Among the highlights:

  • Wagner describes how “in the Daijo-sai ceremony, the emperor goes into that building and presumably has sex with the sun goddess.”
  • As a result, Wagner says, “the sun goddess wants natural disasters to come to Japan.
  • Wagner believes “there’s a lot of demonic control over Congress in general that needs to be dispersed.”
  • While Wagner does not necessarily agree with Alice Patterson, who has apparently described the “demonic structure behind the Democratic Party,” he does consider Perry’s prayer rally a “significant step forward” in the mission to bring the views of the New Apostolic Reformation into government.
  • Wagner “absolutely” believes there are living demons, like Satan’s representatives who are functioning in America now.
  • Wagner’s wife Doris has written an entire book called How to Cast Out Demons: A Guide to the Basics.
  • Wagner believes that non-Christian religions, like the Shinto religion and Buddhism, are “part of the kingdom of darkness.”
  • One of the key principles of the New Apostolic Reformation as compared to traditional churches is “the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals,” not groups.
  • In saying that the NAR seeks dominion over “the arts and entertainment mountain,” he doesn’t expect to convert everyone in that field, just as many people as possible.
  • The same goes for politics, and the five other “mountains.”
  • Wagner calls Ted Haggard revealing his homosexuality a “devastating blow to me,” because of Haggard’s enormous influence as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Wagner co-founded the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs with Ted Haggard.
  • Wagner feels that one of the stars of the New Apostolic Reformation movement, Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee, should have prayed in private — not in public — to protect Sarah Palin from witchcraft.
  • Wagner no longer believes in the rapture and the tribulations.

What makes the interview so compelling is Terry Gross’s polite, respectful pressure on Wagner to answer her questions, and his attempts to sidestep the thornier issues of Islam, homosexuality, and theocracy.

For someone who claims to know the will of God, Wagner at times comes across more like a dubious lawyer or salesman. For example, when Gross presses him about how to interpret the home page image for the currently in-progress “Forty Days of Light Over D.C.” initiative, Wagner says “I happen to know the artist who drew that picture, and I’m not sure that that might not be interpreted as a theocracy.”

“Not sure that might not be”? Here is the image:

Forty Days of Light Over D.C.

Where other interviewers would avoid potential awkwardness and move on, Gross firmly prods Wagner to elaborate, so he adds, “I don’t believe our Capitol ever wants a cross on top of it, because that would be a sign of a theocracy.”

Even in voicing the will of an inanimate building, Wagner reveals as much as Toto did pulling back the curtain at the end of The Wizard of Oz. He’s just another ventriloquist, trying to use an impressive front to lend authority to his own words. It makes you wonder what Rick Perry’s role in all this might be.

In the Bible, Jesus says, “Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16).

As for the Daijo-sai ritual which is part of the enthronement of the Emperor of Japan, here is what Wikipedia says:

Kneeling on a mat situated to face the Grand Shrine of Ise, the emperor makes an offering of the sacred rice, the sake made from this rice, millet, fish and a variety of other foods from both the land and the sea, to Amaterasu-ōmikami. Then he eats some of this sacred rice himself, as an act of divine communion which consummates his singular unity with Amaterasu-ōmikami, thus making him (in Shinto tradition) the intermediary between Amaterasu-ōmikami and the Japanese people.

How truly bizarre to believe that eating a particular grain food could give you unity with a god — or to believe that you can be an intermediary between that god and the people.

Oh wait — that’s what all Christian clergy believe.

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