Archive for September 2012

A Short History of C. Peter Wagner’s Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare in Action:Using Harold Caballeros’ “Spiritual Espionage” in Guatemala

September 6, 2012

Peter Wagner

 I wrote this to Justin Taylor on his interesting blog that critiques a newly published book, Understanding Spiritual Warfare:

Thank you for providing these clear and biblical guidelines  with your counterbalancing notes from David Powlinson’s book. They are really very helpful.  However, I am distressed that your critique of this overview of the four models of modern Spiritual Warfare ended so soon. Do you plan to continue your assessment of this work by looking at the even more wildly aberrant method of Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare propagated by Wagner? This is desperately needed, as there is little understanding in the mainstream church of the anti-gospel roots of these kinds of Warfare Prayer techniques  that he helped to popularize.

And sadly, because the heretical movement Wagner leads — the New Apostolic Reformation– has been able to masquerade as Evangelical for so long, and because their propaganda arm — the series of Transformation videos Wagner produced with George Otis, Jr. — are so effective at spinning the truth, many of their teachings and technologies have seeped into the orthodox church. The popular idea of prayer walking, for example, abandons one-on-one evangelism for marching about a neighborhood, claiming territories for the Kingdom, binding spirits that hold people and cities captive, and changing the ‘spiritual atmosphere.’ The focus is not on the person and work of Jesus Christ, but on Satan and his minions. Wagner also teaches that it is people groups who are first saved, and then individual souls. Sadly, the gospel is often not preached to those individuals, in lieu of this unbiblical focus.

Wagner’s technology of Spiritual Mapping has had a particularly malign influence in the world of missions. It again focuses attention away from the Gospel and moves it towards the heroic efforts of Spiritual Warriors who battle demonic forces, and their influence over societies. It becomes very dangerous when coupled with the authority Wagner cedes to his coalition of Super Apostles, who issue decrees based on very questionable prophecies and words of knowledge.

We see the toxic effect of these Spiritual Warfare technologies, which can demonize whole populations, in the blighted country of Guatemala  through the influence of C. Peter Wagner’s co-author, the Super Apostle and mega-church pastor Harold Caballeros. This flawed theology, combined with the  Dominionist culture of the New Apostolic Reformation that  borrows heavily from Old Testament types, created a perfect scenario for the scorched earth policies of President Rios-Montt —  a terrifying eighteen months in which the native Mayan peoples  were systematically eliminated by  death squads  because their heritage was considered satanic.

Rios-Montt presided over a short reign of terror in which an estimated 70,000 unarmed civilians were killed or disappeared, and he  is now finally on trial there for crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, one of his former generals, fellow School of the Americas alumnus Otto Perez Molina, is now president. And Molina installed International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) member, Harold Cabelleros as Foreign Minister, who is featured prominently in those Transformations videos, mentioned above. He is a long-time colleague of  Peter Wagner, he ran for president  of Guatemala himself, and is founder of El Shaddai, a 9000 member church in Guatemala City.

Harold Caballeros  has had connections to many of the controversial figures in Guatemala’s political struggles — such as church member Edward  Perisen, former head of the PNC, the national police force. According to the New York Times, several officers in the PNC were dismissed in 2007 after a series of extra judicial killings. As  reported in the Times on 3/05/07,  one PNC official said, “The officers in these squads belong to evangelical churches,  and see the extrajudicial killings of gang members, known here as `social cleansing,’ as holy work. But they also have begun to commit crimes for their own profit.”  And as Perisen  explained on a weekly television show  produced to provide police officers with the “spiritual resources they needed to combat the forces of evil” before he fled the country:

The prophet and Apostle of Christ, Brother Harold Cabelleros and his wife, the prophetess, of whom I am a humble servant, instrument and means for taking them to Power in Guatemala and having a Government of God, were charged with the moral and spiritual motivation…

Harold Caballeros

Harold Caballeros (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The death squads that still function within the PNC and the Ministry of Government, are a holy enterprise that is organized by agents and personnel from Evangelical churches that know our obligations to society…I must recognize that the story published in the New York Times on March 5 of this year is true; the “social cleansing” that, together with Carlos Vielman as Minister of Government we carried out in the institution, had to be done and must continue, as I understand has been ordered to the new authorities…it is not a justification; it is, rather, a recognition that when one is humble and is an instrument of DIVINE JUSTICE…

In a 2007 interview with Charisma magazine, C. Peter Wagner said during Caballeros’  unsuccessful bid for the Presidency in Guatemala:

“Christians in the global South are way ahead of us in this area,” Wagner said. “The values of the kingdom of God should penetrate every level of society, and they understand that. … [Caballeros is] doing it right, going right to the top and taking dominion.”

Later, with Rios-Montt on trial for human rights violations, Wagner did some revisionist history, as is his wont, and blamed the president’s generals for the problems. But remember, that same general — Molina! —  is now in power and appointed as his foreign minister Wagner’s fellow apostle. The pastor whose church members ran death squads for God.  A man who wrote a rather interesting chapter in the book Wagner edited, Breaking Strongholds In Your City: How To Use Spiritual Mapping To Make Your Prayers More Strategic, Targeted and Effective . Caballeros writes that he had been reading the biblical verses that describe the binding of the “strong man.”  A dream was told him of three rough hands holding transparent ropes joining three specific Guatemalan cities. Then another believer named the three who held the ropes. Investigations revealed those three persons were conducting “evil works of the devil” in those three cities, through money, politics and drug dealing. After Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, the first was jailed awaiting trial, the second lost his office, and the third’s power was greatly diminished. Caballeros said this of Spiritual mapping in the book he helped Wagner write, “Spiritual mapping is a means toward identifying the enemy. It is our spiritual espionage.”

In his chapter Harold Caballeros also described a case in which one of his El Shaddai Church’s Spiritual Mapping teams was divinely informed that a single individual was responsible for the Satanic forces oppressing a specific geographical area. God then revealed that person’s identity:

“While we were in prayer the Lord spoke and said, “Tomorrow I will give you the man’s first and last name in the newspaper.” He also told us on which page it would occur. It was something absolutely supernatural and exciting to discover right on that page the full name of the person dedicated to these activities.”

One can only guess at the means Caballeros took to deal with  this evildoer that the LORD himself identified. He does not say. But Caballeros has publicly suggested  that Catholics are not Christians and in his books claimed Guatemala and Central America are cursed due to an ancient Mayan pact with Satan. These kinds of teachings undergirded the  hundreds of massacres on Mayan villages that were carried out during the eighteen months of Rios-Montts reign of terror. One  Gospel Outreach pastor defended the killings:

“The army doesn’t massacre the Indians. It massacres demons, and the Indians are demon-possessed; they are communists. We hold brother Efraín Ríos Montt like King David of the Old Testament. He is the king of the New Testament. (pg 238)”

Because these Third Wave Hyper-Charismatics operate under an Old Testament typology, and in Exodus 22 God instructs that  a witch may not be permitted to live, we can assume that the threat to Guatemala from one of Satan’s local operating agents –remember, God himself  revealed this person to Caballeros —  was very effectively minimized. As Caballeros wrote here, “when the strong man is vanquished in a given territory, the inhabitants become free to receive the light of the gospel.”

In his writings Peter Wagner has elaborated at length about the Kingdom Now “dominion mandate”and what it means and at a 2008 NAR conference declared,

“Dominion has to do with control. Dominion has to do with rulership. Dominion has to do with authority and subduing and it relates to society… Dominion means being the head and not the tail. Dominion means ruling as kings.”

Guatemala’s history amply demonstrates that this dangerous kind of Kingdom Now Dominionism can also mean demonizing your opponents. And because some in charge of that benighted country seem to have forgotten that our “struggle is not against flesh and blood”,  and have forgotten that we are not an Old Testament Theocracy, it can also mean that when a Dominionist king goes out to war he cleanses the land of those demonic forces oppressing him with Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare. Equipped with some  hammers and guns, like in What Happened at Dos Erres. All this so the  light of the Gospel could shine. I guess.

Earlier in his career,  Wagner defended his models of church growth with a rather  blood-chilling quote

“… we ought to see clearly that the end DOES justify the means.  What else possible could justify the means?  If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method.  If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?”  (C. Peter Wagner, “Your Church Can Grow – Seven Vital Signs Of A Healthy Church”, 1976, pg. 137. – emphasis in original)

But we know that Scripture asserts that such a pragmatic approach is not a fitting frame for the Gospel.  John MacArthur says of such an approach:

But when pragmatism is used to make judgments about right and wrong, or when it becomes a guiding philosophy of life, theology, and ministry, inevitably it clashes with Scripture. Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what “works” and what doesn’t. We know from Scripture, for example, that the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22, 23;2:14). On the other hand, satanic lies and deception can be quite effective (Matt. 24:23, 24; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4). Majority reaction is no test of validity (cf Matt. 7:13, 14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed. Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic. (Ashamed of the Gospel, xii)

The  horrifying legacy of SLSW in Guatemala  illustrates truth of these charges. Whatever its innocuous original intent, Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare has morphed into an entity with terrible consequences when it is utilized in the real world of governance by unaccountable officials and super-Apostles.

I wrote the above report, very conflicted about the interesting variety of  sources I have had to rely upon for historical verification of the facts of this history of the NAR Apostles working in the government of Guatemala through the teachings of  Super Apostle Harold Caballeros, and the members of  his megachurch, El Shaddai. I am fully aware of the contentious history of this tormented country, particularly the critiques of Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberto Menchu  by  the anthropologist David Stoll, as it has  been reported by the New York Times. It causes me no end of grief that there are no solid sources of journalism that readers of this blog would be more inclined to trust, which have an Evangelical imprimatur — such as World magazine. The only corroborating account of Rios-Monnts reign of terror under General Molina that has gravitas among Christians is this FOX news account here, But sadly, it offers no account of the genocide’s  connection to the Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare that undergirded the ‘iron fist’ of Molina and those death squads. Or even the Christian dominionism that most journalists understand.

Nevertheless, the connections between the Dominionist Apostle and megachurch leader Harold Caballeros and the systematic elimination of the indigenous peoples of Guatemala as it filtered its way through the army of Rios-Montt and  the secret police,  who were members of El Shaddai  cannot be explained away or ignored by responsible Christian people.  It was clearly accomplished  because of the teaching of  Caballeros that the  ‘demonic oppresssion’ the country suffered could be blamed on the  indigenous peoples’ Mayan heritage. They are dangerous teachings in actual practice, and must be firmly opposed by the mainline churches.

And still,  nearly thirty years later, the blood of an estimated 200,000 civilians  in Guatemala cries out from the ground. May the Evangelical Church cry out to God with them! Oh, I long for the day of God’s perfect justice.

But let justice roll down like waters,
                                                                  and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

                                                                   Amos 5:24

A Happy Storm — Spurgeon’s Morning Song, August 31

September 3, 2012

Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this!
O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone!
There is no getting at our God sometimes
because of the multitude of our friends;
but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless
that he has nowhere else to turn,
he flies into his Father’s arms, and is blessedly clasped therein!

When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar,
that he cannot tell them to any but his God,
he may be thankful for them;
for he will learn more of his Lord then
than at any other time.
Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble
that drives you to your Father!

Now that you have only your God to trust to,
see that you put your full confidence in Him.
Dishonour not your Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears;
but be strong in faith, giving glory to God.
Show the world that your God is worth ten thousand worlds to you.
Show rich men how rich you are
in your poverty — when the Lord God is your helper.

Show the strong man how strong
you are in your weakness —
when underneath you are the everlasting arms.
Now is the time for feats of faith and brave exploits!
Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord your God
shall certainly, as surely as He built the heavens and the earth,
glorify Himself in your weakness.

The grandeur of the arch of heaven
would be spoiled
if the sky were supported
by a single visible column,
and your faith would lose its glory
if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye.
May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus!

Mark Heard also reminds us here, “In the eye of the storm,
the friends of God suffer no permanent harm.”