On July 1, 2022, Dutch Sheets, founder of the Freedom Church in Colorado Springs, stood on stage, at Gas South Arena outside Atlanta, with the far-right politician, Marjorie Taylor Green. Sheets told the crowd of supporters of the “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR) to pray with him for Green, who was wearing a bright red dress. “We say she is covered by the blood of Jesus” he said, “and she will not be taken out by evil forces.”
Greene, by the way, sells t-shirts that say “Proud Christian Nationalist.”
NAR is a contemporary religious movement, launched in the United States, which seeks to establish a new form of Christianity. The U.S. missionary, C. Peter Wagner (1930 – 2016), founder of the movement, stressed that Satan and satanic demons are active in the world and that Christians have to engage in combative warfare against them.
Wagner coined the term “New Apostolic Reformation” and claimed “We are currently witnessing the most radical change in the way of ‘doing church’ since the Protestant Reformation.”
Current estimates are that close to 66 million people are now linked with the New Apostolic Reformation in the United States and its outreach in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Central to the movement are two key concepts: “spiritual warfare” and “territorial spirits.”
“Spiritual warfare,” emphasizing demonology, maintains that demons and evil spirits are present and endanger our daily lives. The rhetoric of Paula White Cain, chairperson the former U.S. president’s evangelical advisory board, calling for the termination of “all satanic pregnancies” and the rhetoric of the anti-vax doctor, Stella Immanuel, calling Covid-19 “demon sperm” are NAR spiritual warfare terms. New Apostolic Reformation spiritual warriors maintain, as well, that sickness and poverty are the result of demonic possession.
With the concept of “territorial spirits,” the New Apostolic Reformation stresses that demons occupy specific places and institutions in U.S. society like abortion clinics, the LGBT community, and the U.S. Democratic Party. These malevolent forces don’t just advocate for things that believers oppose. They are evil personified. Fortunately, according to the movement’s followers, it is through the New Apostolic Reformation that God will rescue society by establishing a theocratic government that will destroy all forms of satanic evil.
The New Apostolic Reformation’s “Seven Mountain Mandate,” or 7M for short, is fortifying many on the radical far-right of U.S. politics. It calls on far-right Christians to conquer the seven mountains and take control over the “spheres of influence.” They believe that their mission, therefore, is to take over society by controlling (1) education, (2) religion, (3) family, (4) business, (5) government, (6) the arts, and (7) entertainment.
NAR is also quite popular with hyper-masculine, gun-toting types, like the Proud Boys. In January 2019, Rick Joyner, head of Morningstar Ministries, an important New Apostolic Reformation organization, claimed he had a prophetic vision that “The Second American Revolutionary/Civil War is inevitable.” And, he said, “It is right, and it will be successful.” The U.S.A., he stressed, was “already in the first stages” of that civil and revolutionary war.
Also on July 1, 2022, inside the Gas South Arena in Georgia, four Christian-right religious leaders recited a Prayer Declaration called “The Watchman Decree.” It was written by Dutch Sheets.
THE WATCHMAN DECREE
As a Patriot of faith, I attest my allegiance first and foremost to the kingdom of God and the Great Commission. Secondly, I agree to be a watchman over our nation concerning its people and their rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
• We, the Church, are God’s governing Body on the earth
• We have been given legal power from heaven and now exercise our authority
• We are God’s ambassadors and spokespeople over the earth
• Through the power of God, we are the world influencers
• Because of our covenant with God, we are equipped and delegated by Him to destroy every attempted advance of the enemy,
WE MAKE OUR DECLARATIONS:
We decree that America’s executive branch of government will honor God and defend the Constitution.
We decree that our legislative branch (Congress) will write only laws that are righteous and constitutional.We decree that our judicial system will issue rulings that are biblical and constitutional.
We declare that we stand against wokeness, the occult and every evil attempt against our nation.
We declare and we now take back our God-given freedoms, according to our Constitution.
We declare that we take back influence at the local level in our communities.
We decree that we take back and permanently control positions of influence and leadership in each of the Seven Mountains.
We decree that the blood of Jesus covers and protects our nation. It protects and separates us for God.
We declare that our nation is energy independent.
We declare that America is strong spiritually, financially, militarily and technologically.
We decree that evil carries no power, authority or rights in our land nor over our people.
We decree that we will operate in unity, going beyond denominational lines in order to accomplish the purposes of God for our nation.
And we decree that AMERICA SHALL BE SAVED!
We know this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.
We know the truth; therefore, we stand for truth and will NEVER be deceived!
We will NEVER stop fighting!
We will NEVER, EVER, EVER give up or give in!
We WILL take our country back.
We WILL honor the ONE TRUE GOD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
AMERICA SHALL BE SAVED!
The New Apostolic Reformation is really a bizarre form of pentecostalism with modern-day “apostles” who promote a contemporary “Christian” theocracy exercising cultural and political control over all aspects of contemporary society.
Currently Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano is probably the movement’s best-known political proponent. He angrily claimed a few days ago that the Bible forbids Christians from criticizing elected officials like himself. NAR also draws support from Ron DeSantis, the Catholic governor of Florida and two other prominent, right-wing, Catholic governors: Greg Abbott of Texas, and Doug Ducey of Arizona. All three have been making headlines for their cruelly abusing migrants to score their own political points.
NAR with its fundamentalist warfare language is a dangerous religious virus.
For more information see:
A New Apostolic Reformation? A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement by R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec. (2018)