Charismatic prophets at war

In Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, I wrote extensively about the so-called Independent Network Charismatics (INC). According to scholars Brad Christerson and Richard Flory, INC is the fastest-growing Christian movement in both the Western world and global south. INC Christians are outside the network of traditional Pentecostals. Unlike the Assemblies of God, Church of God (Cleveland), International Pentecostal Holiness Church, International Pentecostal Church of Christ, Foursquare Church, and the Pentecostal Free Will Baptist Church, INC Christianity is not a denomination. Nor are its networks affiliated in any way with the National Association of Evangelicals.

INC Christianity is a network of authoritative spiritual leaders with very large followings. They are closely related to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). If I understand these movements correctly, INC Christianity it more open to the prosperity gospel than NAR Christianity, but there is a lot of overlap. Both groups believe in the traditional Pentecostal “gifts” (speaking in tongues, healing, miracles, and prophecy). They expect 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.

Some of the more prominent INC prophets 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 (Generals 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), Lance Wallnau (Lance Learning Group in Dallas, TX), Jeremiah Johnson (Jeremiah Johnson Ministries in Charlotte, NC), Kat Kerr (Revealing Heaven Ministries of Jacksonville, FL), and Shawn Bolz (Bolz Ministries of Studio City, CA).

INC prophets and apostles believe that they have been appointed to serve as 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 a 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 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, Wallnau received a similar words: “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 evangelical leaders in Trump Tower. As Wallnau listened to Trump talk about his desire to give evangelicals a more prominent voice in government, he sense 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 that 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.

In early 2015, Cindy Jacobs claimed that God said to her, “I have a trump card in my hand and I’m gonna play it and I’m gonna trump the system.” When Trump announced his candidacy in 2016, Jacobs supported his candidacy through “prayer walks” through seven swing states. Jacobs was one of the religious leaders who stood behind Trump on the White House lawn when he announced an executive order on religious liberty on May 4, 2017.

Frank Amedia, an INC apostle who claims to have presented Trump with a note at a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, telling the candidate that God had revealed to him that it was a “forgone conclusion” that he would win the GOP nomination, worked as Trump’s “liaison for Christian policy.” Amedia has led several of these INC leaders in the formation of an organization called POTUS Shield. The clergy associated with this organization gather regularly to pray for Trump to protect them from the Satan-inspired attacks of his political opponents. The POTUS Shield prophets seldom appeared at the White House, but they served as a kind of spiritual support group for God’s new Cyrus, who will lead America back to spiritual and economic prosperity and help to set the stage for the dominion of Jesus Christ over all the earth.

Prior to Trump, INC and NAR prophets were on the fringe. The secular media didn’t even know they existed. The only outlet that covered them on a regular basis was Right Wing Watch, a project sponsored by People For the American Way. But in recent days, the Washington Post and New York Times have recognized the influence of these Christians and their massive followings. Yesterday we posted about Michelle Boorstein’s piece at The Washington Post. A few hours ago, David Brooks of The New York Times published a column that referenced Jeremiah Johnson.

As might be expected, INC and NAR prophets prophesied a Trump victory in 2020. Some of them, including Johnson, apologized. Over at Religion Unplugged, Julia Duin has a piece on how Trump’s loss has divided the INC and NAR community. Here is a taste:

At least 40 charismatic Christian leaders predicted Trump’s reelection starting around 2018, according to J. Gordon Melton, 78, the venerable compiler of the Encyclopedia of American Religions and an American religious studies professor at Baylor University. 

“Only a handful [of prophets] got it right on the 2016 election,” said Melton, “so they all jumped into this election and with one exception,” a Black prophet from North Carolina whose name he did not recall, “they were wrong.”

This is the second major hit this movement has taken in less than a year, he added. The first was during a prophetic summit last year.

“Last November when [evangelist] Cindy Jacobs had her meeting in Dallas, none of the prophets at that meeting – and it was the elite who were there – none of them hinted that anything like the coronavirus was coming,” Melton said. “That has come back to haunt them.”

Some in the movement are still holding out for some kind of last-minute miracle from God that would magically reverse the election and install Trump as president on Jan. 20. The Dallas-based Kenneth Copeland Ministries is one. On Jan. 7, host Gene Bailey and several other prophets appearing on a ministry broadcast known as Flashpoint, floated conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol. All of them encouraged listeners to continue believing in prophecies of a Trumpian victory.

“Many are on the side of, ‘Let’s attack one another. Let’s get on social media and attack the prophets. And let’s draw the sword on one another,’” said the Rev. Hank Kunneman, pastor of Hosts Church in Omaha, Neb. “And I think that is the greatest mistake we can make as true patriots, true Christians, those of us that are in the body of Christ.” 

God had personally assured him there would be a miraculous outcome, he added.

“I’m telling you that’s what we’re getting ready to see,” he said. “I don’t know how that’s going to play out. I just know this thing is not over.”

Thursday morning court evangelical update

Donald Trump spoke yesterday about election fraud. Trump said that the United States electoral system is “under siege.” He held up charts and graphs that no one could read. Reminder: Trump delivered this speech on December 2, almost one month after Election Day. Within the last week nearly all the states, including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada certified the election and confirmed a Biden victory. This is sheer madness.

Court evangelical Eric Metaxas posted Trump’s video message on his You Tube page:

He also posted a video of a “Stop the Steal” rally in Georgia. The speakers at this rally attacked GOP governor Brian Kemp. One speaker compared the Trump conspiracy theorists to Jesus Christ.

Today Eric Metaxas is turning to convicted criminal Roger Stone as his election fraud expert.

Finally, Metaxas talked about his “faith influences his support for American principles as well as the president.” His embrace of these voter fraud conspiracy is rooted, he claims, in the “God of scripture who moves in history.” This is bad history and bad history. Today someone asked me if Metaxas really believes his stuff or his promotion of the voter fraud conspiracy is “just a grift.” I think Metaxas actually believes he is a modern-day Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer. He acknowledges that his friends think he has “gone nuts,” but he said that their concerns are “absurd.”

Today conservative journalist Jonah Goldberg had a hilarious tweet:

Charlie Kirk, the founder of Liberty University’s Falkirk Center, is still pressing the election fraud narrative:

Trump lawyer Sidney Powell joined last night’s “election integrity” prayer meeting.

Robert Jeffress is still making predictions about Donald Trump. Right Wing Watch gets this right:

Paula White is praying. I wonder what she wants to “change”:

Jack Graham:

Court evangelicals rally around a new pro-Trump documentary titled “Trump 2024: The World After Trump”

The documentary will appear in September. Court evangelicals Paula White, Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee, Jack Hibbs, Eric Metaxas, Tony Perkins, Samuel Rodriguez, and Jack Graham are involved. This trailer is so over-the-top that some of it could pass for a anti-Trump parody of the Christian Right.

Here is Peter Montgomery at Right Wing Watch:

One of the primary target audiences for the movie is Christians who may be fed up with Trump’s divisive rhetoric and may be considering staying away from the polls or voting for Joe Biden in hopes that Biden ​may return the country to a sense of normalcy. The movie will try to convince those people that God is using Trump the way that God always uses flawed, imperfect people—and that ​though Trump may sometimes come across as a jerk, he is an effective champion of “biblical values.” The film will end with a virtual “altar call” inviting viewers to pray for salvation.

Read the rest here. For the record, Joe Biden is not a socialist.

I tried to offer a Christian response to this kind of propaganda in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

Believe Me 3d

The POTUS Shield and the Court Evangelicals

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As one of my friends on FB wrote, “shouldn’t it be the White House, and not the Capitol, in the logo?

Yesterday I wrote about INC–Independent Network Charismatic Christianity.  These charismatic preachers with large followings make up a significant part of what I have been calling the court evangelicals.

I have been learning more about INC by the hour.  Thanks for everyone who has been e-mailing with leads.  Last night I read Peter Montgomery‘s extensive report on POTUS Shield, a group of charismatics preachers who believe that Donald Trump will “bring about the reign of God in America and the world.”

He writes:

In the early morning hours of November 9, 2016, God told Frank Amedia that with Donald Trump having been elected president, Amedia and his fellow Trump-supporting “apostles” and “prophets” had a new mission. Thus was born POTUS Shield, a network of Pentecostal leaders devoted to helping Trump bring about the reign of God in America and the world.

Amedia described the divine origins of POTUS Shield during a gathering that spread over three days in March 2017 at the northeastern Ohio church he pastors. Interspersed with Pentecostal worship, liturgical dancing, speaking in tongues, shofar blowing, and Israeli flag waving, Amedia and other POTUS Shield leaders put forth their vision for a Christian America and their plans to bring it to fruition through prayer, political engagement and organizing in all 50 states. Among the many decrees made at the event was that Islam must be “completely broken down.”

POTUS Shield’s leaders view politics as spiritual warfare, part of a great struggle between good and evil that is taking place continuously in “the heavenlies” and here on earth, where the righteous contend with demonic spirits that control people, institutions and geographic regions. They believe that Trump’s election has given the church in America an opportunity to spark a spiritual Great Awakening that will engulf the nation and world. And they believe that a triumphant church establishing the kingdom of God on earth will set the stage for Christ’s return. Amedia says that the “POTUS” in the group’s name does not refer only to the president of the United States, but also to a new “prophetic order of the United States” that God is establishing.

Read the entire report here.

Montgomery also did an interview with Sunnivie Brydum at Religion Dispatches.

The ties between POTUS Shield and the court evangelicals are becoming clear:

Frank Amedia, the co-founder of Touch Heaven Ministries, is a “Christian policy liason” for Trump.  Amedia claims to have had a vision of a giant broom sweeping all the liberal judges from the Supreme Court.  He also believes he can control natural events like tsunamis and tornadoes.

Dutch Sheets, another leader of the POTUS Shield movement, was apparently part of a group of evangelical leaders who prayed with Donald Trump in the White House.

Rick Joyner, founder and director of MorningStar Ministries, also visited Trump in the White House.

Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, has been a longtime court evangelical.  Here he is talking about 7 Mountain Dominionism.

Herman Martir, a Filipino-American pastor in Texas and a representative of this wing of evangelicalism, serves on Trump’s National Diversity Coalition.

Cindy Jacobs, a self-proclaimed prophet and a leader in the POTUS Shield movement, was on the White House lawn when Trump signed his executive order on religious liberty.

More to come.

That Time I Defended David Barton

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It looks like I just got dragged into a debate between Right Wing Watch and David Barton over the right of women to vote.  Here is what Barton wrote on the Wallbuilders Facebook page last night:

This past weekend, I saw a tweet blasting me by HGM@RightWingIdiot1 (see picture):

@DavidBartonWB I hope you wife and if you have daughters leave you and your hate for women. How dare you state women shouldn’t vote.

This references a May 1, 2014 WallBuildersLive radio program in which I was answering audience questions, including one about women’s suffrage, the Founding Fathers, and the Constitution. The questioner did not believe the Founders were being sexist but rather that they voted more by households than by individuals. I affirmed that this was correct, and showed occasions of women voting as far back as the 1600s if they became the heads of the household. We also pointed out that the Constitution did not prohibit women from voting prior to that, but that the 19th Amendment was added to ensure women’s suffrage.

Nevertheless, Right Wing Watch – a far left secularist progressive group whose parent organization is funded by atheist billionaire George Soros – came out with an article wrongly claiming that I defended the inability of women to vote in early America. That false claim was picked up and repeated by others, including the tweet I saw this weekend.

Interestingly, one of my strongest critics and loudest opponents, Professor John Fea of Messiah College in California, actually defended me against this false charge. (I have been told by students of Messiah College that they actually taught a course there against me – that they use me to show the wrong view of American history in the Founding Era.) Dr. Fea acknowledged that he “just listened to the entire episode,” and then pointed out several reasons why the claim from Right Wing Watch was wrong, including:

“1. Nowhere in this episode does Barton say the 19th amendment was a bad thing or that women voting is a bad thing. Listen for yourself. Some might say he is implying this. If someone wants to make this argument, it is a stretch.”

“2. The clip I posted above [from Right Wing Watch] has been edited. The part of the discussion in which Barton and Green seem to suggest that women’s suffrage is a positive development in American life has been cut out.”

Right Wing Watch omitted the part of the program that would refute their own false claim. (This is something they regularly do in their frequent charges against me.) Their false accusation that I oppose women voting continues to have life even years later because folks too often repeat what others say rather than following the example of critic John Fea, who listened to the entire episode and thus recognized the claim as false.

Furthermore, I have been on record for years stating that my goal is for 100% of all Americans to be registered to vote, and to vote – I want 100% citizen participation in voting.

Given all of this, my questions for HGM@RightWingIdiot1 would begin with:

1. Did you fail your Math and English classes in school? For years I have said that my objective is 100% of Americans voting in every election. Do you think that 100% of Americans does not include women? 100% is fully inclusive and means everybody!

2. You want my wife and daughter to leave me??? I would not wish that on anyone, even those who consider themselves my enemies. It is ironic that those who accuse others of being haters are often the ones who display the most hate.

3. You really think I hate women? I have reprinted books and appeared on numerous media programs to reintroduce female heroes from history back to the modern generation. In fact, in writing history and social studies standards for state boards of education, the official public records affirm that I have been solely responsible for including numerous women in the texts.

4. Why don’t you set an example for people from your side: check the facts for yourself rather than just parrot what someone else says – learn to think for yourself rather than be part of Right Wing Watch group think.

It’s time for the falsehood that I don’t want women to vote (and so many of the other fabrications distributed by Right Wing Watch and their allies) to come to a halt. Perhaps this post will help accomplish that.

Here is the May 6, 2014 post published at The Way of Improvement Leads Home that Barton is referencing. Yes, I did defend Barton on this one.

Here is a response to Barton’s Facebook post from Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch.

A few comments on Barton’s Facebook post:

  1. Yes, I remain a “strong critic” of Barton when he is wrong about American history or using the past inappropriately to support his political agenda
  2. I will let Barton and Right Wing Watch sort out this whole women’s voting issue.
  3. Messiah College is located in Grantham, Pennsylvania (Mechanicsburg, PA mailing address), not California.
  4. As far as I know, a course on David Barton has never been offered at Messiah College
  5. In Spring 2009 I taught a course entitled “Religion and the American Founding” at Messiah College.  There were 11 students enrolled and all of them are acknowledged in my book Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? A Historical Introduction.  And yes, we did, on occasion, discuss Barton in that class and may have even read some of his writings.
  6. If you are one of the Messiah College students who has talked to Barton about me or my classes, I would love to hear from you.  Let’s talk. Coffee is on me.