“They had a guy from Messiah College”

This is a fascinating conversation between two court evangelicalsEric Metaxas and Lance Wallnau. Thanks to Peter Montgomery from Right Wing Watch for calling it to my attention.

Here is the entire conversation:

We have spent a lot of time covering Metaxas here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but some of you may be unfamiliar with Wallnau.  Here is what I wrote about him in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

The second major stream of court evangelicalism flows from Independent Network Charismatic (INC) Christianity.  According to scholars Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, INC is the fastest-growing Christian movement in both the Western world and the global South.  INC Christians are outside the network of traditional Pentecostals.  While they embrace many of the so-called gifts of the Holy Spirit (tongues-speaking, prophecy, healing, miracles), they do not affiliate with traditional Pentecostal denominations such as the Assemblies of God, the Church of God in Christ, the International Foursquare Gospel Church, or the Church of God (Cleveland, TN).  In fact, the INC movement is not a denomination; instead, it is a network of strong spiritual leaders, scattered across the globe, with very large followings.  Like the so-called Latter Rain movement that infiltrated traditional Pentecostalism in the 1940s and 1950s, INC leaders believe that a great revival of the Holy Spirit will take place shortly before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and God will raise up apostles and prophets to lead this revival.  These new spiritual leaders will have authority that comes directly from God, not from denominations or congregations. Some of the more prominent INC prophets, all of whom believe that we are currently living in the midst of this great Holy Spirit revival, include Che Ahn (Harvest International Ministries in Pasadena, CA), Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in Redding, CA), Chuck Pierce (Glory of Zion Ministries in Corinth, TX), Cindy Jacobs (General International in Red Oak, TX), Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO), Lou Engle (The Call in Colorado Springs, CO), Dutch Sheets (Dutch Sheets Ministries in Dallas, TX), and Lance Wallnau (Lance Learning Group in Dallas, TX).

INC prophets and apostles believe that they have been anointed to serve God’s agents in ushering in his future kingdom, a process that many describe as God “bringing heaven to earth.”  They are thus deeply attracted to Seven Mountain Dominionism, the belief that Jesus will not return until society comes under the dominion of Jesus Christ.  Drawing from Isaiah 2:2 (“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains”), INC prophets want to reclaim seven cultural “mountains”: family, government, arts and entertainment, media, business, education, and religion.  The goal is to place God’s appointed leaders atop these cultural mountains as means of setting the stage for the time when God will bring heaven to earth….

…As early as 2007, INC prophet Kim Clement received a word from God: “Trump Clement received a word from God: “Trump shall become a trumpet.  I will raise up Trump to become a trumpet, and Bill Gates to open up the gate of a financial realm for the church.”  Early in the 2016 campaign, Lance Wallnau received a similar word: “Donald Trump is a wrecking ball to the spirit of political correctness.”  When Wallnau’s prophecy caught the attention of Trump’s evangelical supporters, he was invited to attend a meeting with the candidate and other leaders in Trump Tower.  As Wallnau listened to Trump talk about his desire to give evangelicals a more prominent voice in government, he sensed that God was giving him an “assignment”–a “calling related to this guy.”  One day, while he was reading his Facebook page, Wallnau saw a meme predicting Trump would be the “45th president of the United States.”  God told Wallnau to pick up his Bible and turn to Isaiah 45.  On reading the passage, Wallnau realized that, not only would Trump be a “wrecking ball” to political correctness, but he would be elected president of the United States in the spirit of the ancient Persian King Cyrus.  In the Old Testament, Cyrus was the secular political leader whom God used to send the exiled kingdom of Judah back to the Promised Land so that they could rebuild the city of Jerusalem and its holy Temple.  Wallnau was shocked by this discovery.  “God was messing with my head,” he told Steven Strang, the editor of Charisma, a magazine that covers INC and other Pentecostal and charismatic movements (and claims a circulation of over 275,000).  From this point forward, Wallnau would become an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump.

The Metaxas-Wallnau interview is interesting for several reasons:

  1. Notice Wallnau’s reference to Seven Mountain Dominionism.
  2. Wallnau’s description of his conversion experience during the 1970s while a student Valley Forge Military Academy seems legitimate to me.  His story of  engaging Campus Crusade workers on campus in a snowstorm is one of millions of similar stories heard regularly in evangelical circles.  And Wallnau tells it very well.  Wallnau may be embellishing the story, but he still seems to have had a real spiritual experience.
  3. Wallnau’s failure to find other born-again Christians in the northeast corridor during the 1970s confirms my own family’s story.  My family had never heard of evangelical or “born-again” Christianity until my father had a conversion experience in the early 1980s.  I was recently talking to another evangelical who grew up in New Jersey during the 1980s and we were noting how northeast evangelicals in this era were forced to live their faith as a minority.  This experience has led many northeastern evangelicals to think differently about Christian public engagement when compared with southerners or midwesterners.  One day I want to tell this story in full.  It strikes me that those raised in an evangelical culture–Southern Baptists, Dutch Reformed, etc.–did not have to face the kind of persecution and outsider status that we in the northeast had to face when we identified as born-again Christians.  This means we look at American evangelicalism with a different set of eyes.  I don’t recall ever meeting an evangelical Protestant during my childhood.  Wallnau had to go to Lebanon Valley College in south central Pennsylvania in order to find one.
  4. Wallnau’s story about Mennonite Pentecostals in Manheim, Pennsylvania was new to me.  Is anyone aware of Mennonite Pentecostal communities where women’s “bonnets” blew off their heads because the power of the Holy Spirit was so powerful?
  5. Wallnau’s reference to James H. Brown’s charismatic revivals in a Parksburg, PA Presbyterian Church got me curious, so I did some research.  Brown was the pastor at Upper Octorara Presbyterian Church in Parksburg and one of the leaders of the charismatic movement within American Presbyterianism.  Read about him here.
  6. During this interview Donald Trump is compared favorably to Martin Luther, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Wilbur Wilberforce.

Of course none of these observations explain the title of my post.  If you fast-forward to the 26-minute mark, Wallnau is talking with Metaxas about his claim that Donald Trump is a modern-day King Cyrus and he mentions a professor at Messiah College.

(Just for the record, I did not coin the term “vessel theology.”  Wallnau is referring to this piece by Tara Isabella Burton at VOX.  I am quoted here, but I never use the term “vessel theology.”  Nevertheless, I do think the term is useful to describe what Wallnau is doing with the King Cyrus prophecy).

10 thoughts on ““They had a guy from Messiah College”

  1. For some reason this reminds me a story I told in my book on the American Bible Society: “When Rick sees the cover of *Good News for Modern Man*, he experiences a flood of wonderful memories. In the late 1960s he was a member of a middle-school church youth group in California singing “Jesus folk-rock” under the guidance of older high school students with acoustic guitars. Rick’s church “gave out copies of *Good News For Modern* like candy.” As youth group started each week, he and his friends would “crowd in on the floor and somebody would start tossing–literally tossing–the Testament and a brown Youth for Christ songbook” to everyone in attendance that night. Like typical adolescent boys, Rick and his friends would start getting rowdy, using the copies of *Good News* to beat one another over the head. Soon the youth pastor would manage to calm everyone down and the lesson would begin.”


  2. We should also note that Lance Wallnau isn’t just another ridiculous, self-promoting but otherwise harmless religious scam artist. He’s behind some really quite vile conspiracy theories– eg, that Jamal Khashoggi was actually a terrorist working with Osama bin Laden, and was just pretending to be a journalist. (I’m not sure if Wallnau is aware bin Laden’s been dead for eight years, or perhaps he believes he’s hiding out in Brazil or something.)


  3. Yes, we generally considered ourselves Jesus-freaks, and like the counter-culture more generally (and by definition I guess), “cultural privilege or power” weren’t things one gave much thought to. Didn’t really want them.

    But, it depends how and what you measure. Where I grew up, there were no liquor sales on Sunday, indeed, almost all the stores shut down for Sunday (you had to drive to Trenton to find anything open on Sunday). If Halloween fell on Sunday, the mothers got together and moved it to another day. And when it came to information and etc. strict controls were exercised over what was available at libraries and stores. There was no Playboy or Penthouse to be found anywhere; in fact, when the local mom and pop drugstore started stocking Rolling Stone about 1969 or ’70, they got a visit from my mother and others, and that was that.


  4. I have no idea what God is doing with Trump. My faith teaches me God is active in the world at every level. My faith teaches me that God’s ways. We see through a glass darkly.


  5. John,

    Regardless of what these two gentlemen state in the interview regarding the source of the term “vessel theology”, I don’t think you can argue that King Cyrus, a pagan, was not used by God to accomplish positive things for the Jewish people. Accordingly, do you believe God still works on unbelieving political leaders today or was that sort of intervention limited to Ancient Israel?
    It is more a theological question than a political one.


  6. That’s interesting, John. Thanks for sharing. What high school did you go to? Perhaps my experience is more reflective of the New York metropolitan area. Yes, there were churches and we did have our youth group, but we always felt like outsiders–people without any kind of cultural privilege or power. I grew up in an area dominated by working class and lower middle class-Catholics and middle and upper-middle class Jews. If evangelicals were around I did not know they existed. I went to college in Bucks County and did run into more evangelicals, but this just may be because I was more aware of them by this point in my life.


  7. My experience of the NE is somewhat different. I was not a Christian in high school (Bucks County, north of Philadelphia) but had many “born again” friends and acquaintances. I was a Chritian when I moved back to the area in 1976, living in several towns bordering on Philly, and ran into evangelicals everywhere (ie, in neighborhoods, workplaces, etc.) Compared to the midwest the demographics were, of course, far more diverse–many more Catholics, Jews, and other non-Protestant or non-Christian groups) and so one couldn’t assume one’s own perspective would be welcome–much less dominant–in the public square, but other than that there was a lot going on. Going to Temple University in downtown Philly, you ran into people street preaching quite often, and in philosophy classes especially, the professors got tired of students prefacing their questions or answers with “I’m a Christian, so I think …”


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