As the U.S. Capitol building was under siege January 6, four of the six protest permits issued that day were to independent charismatic Christian groups that had spent the previous two months waging a spiritual war focused on overturning the election.
Eight days prior to the attack, 15 of these independent charismatic leaders held a meeting for more than two hours at the White House with “high-level Trump administration officials” to talk about a spiritual war strategy that would “join the natural to the spirit.”
But in the January 6 Committee hearings, “Christian nationalism” was mentioned only once.
Who were these people meeting with White House officials? And what could they possibly have been talking about?
These are some of the questions Matthew Taylor, a Protestant Scholar at the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies, seeks to answer in a series on the Straight White American Jesus podcast titled Charismatic Revival Fury: The New Apostolic Reformation.
Taylor says while the January 6 insurrection was a conglomeration of different groups and perspectives coming together, a significant portion of the attack holds the markings of “charismatic revival fury.”
Charismatic revival fury
Charismatics are a Christian community that has been growing in popularity since the 20th century. They believe God continues to reveal God’s will for the world through apostles and prophets in the same way the early church wrote about in the book of Acts. As a revivalist movement, they present a hopeful vision of victory for the future, coming in a breakthrough of a third Great Awakening.
But in the meantime, they are furiously angry over the political landscape in the United States due to abortion, LGBTQ acceptance and the perceived threat of Islam.
C. Peter Wagner and the New Apostolic Reformation
Taylor focuses his attention throughout the podcast on a group of apostles, prophets and worship leaders connected to the New Apostolic Reformation, which is a loosely affiliated yet highly networked circle of independent charismatics who have been influenced by C. Peter Wagner.
Wagner was a professor at Fuller Seminary for 30 years focusing much of his attention on church growth. Because he saw independent charismatic churches growing worldwide in record numbers, he tapped into the curiosities about the supernatural claims that charismatic preachers made.
During the 1980s, he invited John Wimber, a founding leader in the charismatic Vineyard Movement, to help teach his classes on healing and hearing the voice of God. But because Fuller began getting concerned for its reputation, the classes were shut down. Eventually, Wimber became concerned about how extreme Wagner was becoming after the Toronto Blessing and stopped teaching with him.
During the mid-1990s, Wagner utilized his experience with networking and his ability to identify young, entrepreneurial leaders and started casting a vision for a movement he called the “New Apostolic Reformation,” claiming it would be, “the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation.”
Wagner retired in 1999 to focus on being an apostle, during which he started institutions, prayer networks, a roundtable of prophets and mentorship programs that all would eventually help fuel evangelicalism’s support of Trump and the insurrection of January 6.
A hierarchy of authority, revelation and worship
The apostles in the New Testament originally were messengers sent by Jesus with authority and a commission to make disciples. When the apostles died out, the authority moved to the bishops, where it remained until the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Since then, Protestants have said authority lies in Scripture alone instead of the bishops, although the distinction can be unclear when it’s filtered through their interpretation of Scriptures.
“These apostles believe they build and lead with the authority of God.”
But independent charismatics such as Wagner argue that God continues to gift apostles to the church today. These apostles believe they build and lead with the authority of God.
Other self-proclaimed modern-day apostles include Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer, Dutch Sheets, Cindy Jacobs, Che Ahn and Don Finto.
Independent charismatic prophets are those who say they experience dreams and visions that allow them to tell what God wants to say for a certain moment. They often believe they can discern where certain demonic spirits are so that the apostles can lead the charge against them.
Worship leaders know how to sing, play an instrument and whip a crowd into a frenzy of collective effervescence. While they carry no apostolic authority and potentially no prophetic insight, they wield music and technology in ways that help people move their trauma through their bodies while potentially being manipulated or moved toward specific theological, ethical or political aims.
A hierarchical theology of dominion
The theology of independent charismatics is about territorial power. Despite not being a Calvinist, Wagner tapped into the spheres of society language that can be traced back through Abraham Kuyper, who spoke about the spheres of lordship where Christ is “sovereign over all.”
With Wagner focusing on apostolic authority, Lance Wallnau came up with a concept called the Seven Mountain Mandate, where Christians have an obligation to have dominion over the seven mountains of religion, education, family, business, government, the arts, and media.
While most evangelicals translate the Greek word ecclesia to mean “gathering, church or assembly,” the charismatic apostles focused on its context in the broader Greco-Roman city-state culture, translating it as “divinely ordained ruling government.”
The Great Commission also gets a facelift in charismatic theology, with “make disciples of all nations” reinterpreted from referring to individual people within every nation to discipling the nations themselves.
Christians enter into the spheres of society and exercise dominion over the mountains by being the divinely ordained ruling government on mission to disciple nations. That happens through spiritual warfare against demons and principalities.
Articulating his vision for this Dominion theology, Wagner said: “Society is controlled by seven mountains. … So our goal is kingdom-minded and kingdom-motivated individuals on the top of each mountain because on the mountains, the influence comes from the top down. It doesn’t come from the bottom up. It comes from the top down. So we need the kingdom-minded, kingdom-motivated people at the top of each mountain. Then the influence of the kingdom will go right down through the mountain.”
Facing the ‘Queen of Heaven’ in Operation Ice Castle on Mount Everest
One of the biggest territorial concerns almost every evangelical from any background knows about is the 10/40 window, which is the area in the Middle East with the greatest number of people and the least number of Christians in the world.
Ana Mendez, who was considered a prophet, claimed she had a vision that a demon known as the Queen of Heaven had an ice castle on Mount Everest and God was calling her to go to Everest for spiritual battle. Wagner believed her vision and supported the trip. So in 1997, a group of 26 prophetic intercessors spent three weeks doing spiritual warfare on Mount Everest in “Operation Ice Castle.”
While some of the team stayed at the Everest View Hotel to pray at 13,000 feet, and others ascended to the Everest Base Camp at 18,000 feet, Wagner wrote in his book Confronting the Queen of Heaven that Ana’s team “which had taken professional alpine training in Mexico and Peru before leaving, scaled the ice cliffs and crossed bottomless crevasses, climbing to 20,000 feet.”
“Our assignment from God was to take down the foundations of The Great Babylon, the harlot over many waters, which supported the false religious systems of the world,” Ana said. “He clearly showed us where we should go for our prophetic act by revealing a large, brown stone formation, completely surrounded by walls of ice resembling a castle, and shaped exactly like an idol of the Queen of Heaven. This seat of the Mother of the Universe was 20,000 feet high, and to get there we had to cross the ice fall, the most dangerous part of the Everest ascent, with no guide but him and no help from other than angels.”
Waging spiritual warfare against demons as an exercise of dominion over the mountains of the earth isn’t something the independent charismatic apostles and prophets only give lip service to; it’s something they’re willing to risk their lives for.
Sonic and musicospiritual warfare
Another feature of Operation Ice Castle demonstrates that independent charismatics believe spiritual warfare must be fought in person with boots on the ground. They can’t simply pray against the demon that has an ice castle on top of Mount Everest. They are willing to train to scale Everest’s ice walls in person.
One way they have repeatedly done this in the United States since the beginning of their second apostolic age at the turn of the century has been through massive worship events. In Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community, Monique Ingalls of Baylor University identifies independent charismatic churches among the sponsors for these events. Regarding one of the events, she notes, “In pre-parade meetings, rallies and prayer walks, parade organizers have encouraged the use of music as part of ‘sonic warfare’ against targets, including corruption in government, sexual orientations they deem immoral, and social ills … .”
She also says these events are called “musicospiritual warfare” that proclaim “the defeat of spiritual enemies and the taking back of territory for the glory of God” with songs being sung by “children and preteens decked in matching camouflage outfits.”
The song lyrics utilize hierarchical imagery of “raising a standard” and Jesus being lifted high and reigning over everything below him. One song included the lyrics, “We’re taking territory, fighting unseen enemies. Like never before, we’re waging war.”
‘The Call DC,’ ‘Let Us Worship’ and ‘The Return’
In September 2000, as that year’s presidential campaign was heating up, two independent charismatic apostles named Lou Engle and Che Ahn organized The Call DC, which claimed to have brought 400,000 people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Taylor points out in the Charismatic Revival Fury podcast that the independent charismatic apostles work together relationally supporting each other’s events. One connection is between Engle and Don Finto, who recently wrote a book together called The Handbook for the End Times.
Finto is a very politically involved Christian Zionist who was Michael W. Smith’s pastor for 25 years. So what worship leader do we see leading worship at Engle’s big new event? Michael W. Smith. He would become a regular at these events over the next two decades.
With worship music whipping the crowd into a frenzy, apostles shouted about starting a revolution. At one point, Engle yelled about throwing a Nazarite lunch box at a giant “Jezebel Spirit” Burning Man hovering over a field of students to make it disappear. Most people hearing a man yelling about throwing a lunch box at a demon in the sky might laugh. But when set to the soundtrack of worship music, it feels like a very emotionally meaningful experience.
As the 2020 presidential campaign drew near, the frequency of these sonic warfare battles picked up. One worship leader who took advantage of the opportunity was Sean Feucht, who attended “The Call” at age 17 where worship was led by Smith. Feucht also comes out of Bethel Church and the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, which are led by the apostle Bill Johnson.
During his failed attempt to run for congress in California, Feucht went to the White House with dozens of well-known worship leaders to meet with Donald Trump. After California Gov. Gavin Newsom required churches to stop gathering on Sundays during the COVID pandemic, Feucht organized a sonic warfare worship gathering at the Golden Gate Bridge. The video from the event went viral. So Feucht went on a national tour called “Let Us Worship,” specifically targeting Black Lives Matter protests around the country. Feucht then joined Smith for a gathering sponsored by “The Return” in Washington D.C., where 100,000 unmasked evangelicals sang about God being the breath in their lungs amid a global pandemic.
When Feucht leads worship, he relies heavily on the language of “ecclesia” as a “ruling body government,” on Christians being “the ones leading the way in all spheres of society,” of worship being a “weapon” wielded for “expanding spiritual territory.” He even prioritizes the political sphere, saying: “There is one sphere of society that regulates all other spheres — it’s the political realm.”
In Charismatic Revival Fury, Taylor observes, “All this language gives the ‘Let Us Worship’ movement more of a guerrilla warfare vibe than a worship concert tour.” That’s because behind the scenes they call these events “sonic warfare.”
Trump’s the king of the mountains
But why are these people so obsessed with Donald Trump? After all, doesn’t Trump represent everything that is antithetical to their professed morals?
At “The Call” in 2000, Engle yelled, “Bill Bright, on his 40-day fast, heard the voice of the Lord. He said, ‘I never heard it so clearly, that before the end of the year 2000 the greatest awakening in the history of America would begin to take place!”
Bright was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, now known as Cru.
Unfortunately for Engle and the apostles, that awakening never happened with George W. Bush as president. So in 2008, the charismatic apostles pushed one of their own into the limelight, Sarah Palin.
Palin embodied everything the new apostles hoped for. Her church was led by Mary Glazier, who was a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. She had spent years being mentored with this charismatic spiritual warfare mindset. But in the end, she also couldn’t give them the dominion they craved.
In 2015, one of the apostles, Lance Wallnau, had a vision: “The Lord took me to Isaiah 45,” Wallnau claimed. “He said, ‘The next president will be the 45th president. I want an Isaiah 45 Cyrus.’”
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Cyrus is not a believer in Yahweh but is used by God to free the Jewish people, who were exiled in Babylon. So, Wallnau figured, even though Trump may not be a believer, he could be used by God to free conservative Christians, who were exiled in the U.S. due to the liberal Democrats.
In February 2016, Wagner himself endorsed Trump, saying: “Influence is related to spirituality in the religion realm. But this is not true in any of the other six mountains that are the molders of culture. The chief producer of influence in the six non-religion mountains is not spirituality, but success. The most successful people are the most influential.”
In their minds, Trump already had conquered two of the seven mountains — the mountain of the media and the mountain of business. With Trump in the palm of their hand, these charismatic apostles could overtake the mountain of government and control three of the seven mountains.
Reining with Trump
When Trump was elected in 2016 despite widespread predictions to the contrary, the charismatic apostles and prophets who claimed he would win gained even more credibility and power with those who followed them.
In January 2017, a group of apostles led by Cindy Jacobs, Lance Wallnau, Dutch Sheets and Lou Engle started POTUS Shield to shield Trump spiritually as they offered their advice to him.
Taylor says as Trump met with Kim Jong Un in June 2018, Vice President Mike Pence was on the phone with the intercessory prayer team that was led by Jacobs, Wallnau, Sheets and Bill Hamon.
In November 2019, another independent charismatic named Paula White was given an office in the White House.
And even after Trump lost his reelection bid in 2020, Sean Feucht made Trump a worship leader in 2021, having him give the call to prayer at the September 11 “Let Us Worship” event on the National Mall with the Capitol in view.
Post-election spiritual battles
Immediately after Trump lost the 2020 election, Sheets claimed someone from the White House directed the apostles and prophets to shift into hyper-sonic warfare speed.
He said: “After meeting with a couple of people that work in the government in Washington, they began to in a very gracious way challenge me that perhaps I was to gather a group of apostolic, prophetic leaders from around the nation and that we were to go to all the contested states and host prayer meetings.”
Sheets added in a letter: “I met with some people connected to our government. They made an appeal for me to join the natural to the spirit since what we do in the spirit directly affects what happens in the natural.”
Sheets began posting daily videos that were receiving more than 200,000 views per day, including livestreams of his sonic warfare events while saying things like: “God combined civil and spiritual government when he established America.”
Or if that’s not clear enough, he admitted: “The war over planet earth is a governmental war. Who will rule the earth? The battle for humankind is governmental. Who will be their lord, master? The battle for the heavens is governmental. Who will be the most high?”
White, from the White House, yelled, “Strike and strike and strike and strike and strike and strike and strike and strike and strike and strike until you have victory.” She added, while speaking in tongues: “For angels are being released right now. Angels are being dispatched. Hamanda acha atta ratta deda pocka sanda atta ambo osa cata rike ete vanda ata riketidi ancha ta. For angels have even been dispatched from Africa right now, Africa right now, Africa right now, from Africa right now … .”
“We saw a huge hand come down from the sky and take hold of the dome of the Capitol building.”
Another prophet, Gina Gholston, had a dream: “We found ourselves in a field and could see out in front of us the U.S. Capitol and U.S. Capitol building. We mounted our horses and as we sat looking at the building, we heard air sirens going off. These were like the air raid sirens in old World War II movies. As the sirens were sounding, we saw a huge hand come down from the sky and take hold of the dome of the Capitol building. With the fingers of the hand wrapped around the dome, the thumb of the hand flicked the dome open. The dome was hinged. When it was opened, a very thick black smoke began rising up out of the building. The smoke was so thick, it was almost solid, and actually resembled a living thing. We then heard a cavalry bugle playing the signal to charge. And we began moving toward the Capitol, not at a full gallop, but at a steady, determined, fast trot. As we started, on the ground in front of us, written in white letters were the words, ‘Don’t stop.’”
Jericho Marches around Capitol buildings that were meant to be callbacks to the story about the battle of Jericho in the Bible included one in Washington that Trump hovered over in a helicopter.
December 29, 2020, at the White House
On Dec. 29, 2020 — one week before the insurrection — 15 of the apostles and prophets performed spiritual warfare at monuments across D.C. Taylor explains: “That afternoon, they had a more than two-hour meeting with high level Trump administration officials in a conference room in the White House. This meeting has never been reported on before.”
But some who were there spoke openly about it. Tim Sheets, the brother of Dutch, told his congregation, “We had a two hour time to pray at the White House and make some decrees that God had given to us. A strategy was given to us from people in the know around there that I cannot really talk about.”
“So buckle up your seatbelts on your horse you’re riding and get ready to gallop and get your sword bloody in the spirit of God.”
Then Apostle Don Lynch told his church they “ended up at the White House for much longer than we were scheduled to be there. It was a very powerful time. We were at the White House for a couple of hours of things that are rather amazing. At the highest levels of our nation, God is not only speaking, but he’s being heard. We need a reconstitution in our nation. And that’s the level at which we are headed. So buckle up your seatbelts on your horse you’re riding and get ready to gallop and get your sword bloody in the spirit of God.”
They stayed at the Willard Hotel where Rudy Guilianni, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon and John Eastmon were hosting war rooms. Taylor says, “I don’t know if Sheets or his team were in contact with those war rooms. But the choice of that hotel, of all the hotels in Washington D.C., is very suspicious.”
Regarding their meeting, Sheets said, “Things were exposed to us in the spirit realm, a strategy was given to us from people in the know around there that I cannot really talk about. And all of this was done on a secure site that we have had to develop because of hackers and different things. And we have a secure thread that we can communicate by now.”
With millions of independent charismatics focused on the January 6 event at the Capitol as their new Operation Ice Castle, Jan. 5 would be their final chance to call people to war.
One of the apostles Taylor highlights significantly throughout the podcast is Che Ahn, who grew to fame after The Call D.C. and became a worldwide charismatic phenom who won a Supreme Court battle against California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom after Amy Comey Barrett was confirmed to the court.
Ahn called the election of Joe Biden “the most egregious fraud that’s happened in U.S. history.” So he stated his intention: “We are here to change history.”
Consider the barrage of rage from the apostles and prophets that Taylor provides audio for from Jan. 5 as worship music roars in the background:
- “I’m calling up the minute men, the kingdom militia to get on the wall, to get on the place, to move across this nation. … there is rising up a militia … God, we declare that the militia men, the minutemen of the kingdom of God are rising up in this hour. And Father, we declare and decree in this place that there is no demon in hell and there is no voice out of government that can topple the kingdom of our God. For our king is the righteous one.”
- “And to the rulers and principalities, the ecclesia now reveals the multifaceted wisdom of God. And God said do I have the stomach to finish the job? Put your foot on his chin and expose the neck. Pick up that weapon and find you are strong enough to wield it. Finish this! Finish this! I say, finish this!”
- “Expose the neck, swing the sword, finish the job. For God says, no chicken-legged Philistine is going to become the most powerful political leader in the world!”
“No chicken-legged Philistine is going to become the most powerful political leader in the world!”
While Ahn and his group of apostles and prophets were calling people to arms near the Capitol, Cindy Jacobs and the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders were touring the White House. Jon Hamill recounted in his book Turnaround Decrees, “Afterward, we met with a senior official who had requested prayer.”
Back near the Capitol, Ahn provided a bit of an altar call: “Would you join me in binding the spirit of Jezebel off of this election? … Jonathan Kahn said he believes that spirit of Jezebel came in through Bill and Hillary Clinton. Bill was an Ahab. And then it continued with Obama and Michelle. And it continues now with Biden and Kamala Harris and Pelosi. And God has raised up a Jehu. President Trump is a type of a Jehu. But all of us who are supporting him is also like Jehu who was anointed by Elijah to throw out Jezebel. We gotta kick her out.”
As a reminder, Jezebel is the queen in 2 Kings who leads Israel in idol worship and abuses the prophets. So when Jehu becomes king, he orders her executed. As a result, she gets thrown out of a window, trampled by a horse and eaten by dogs.
With such calls and references to violence at a fever pitch, Ahn proclaimed: “We’re going to say yes to justice this week. And we’re going to see President Trump be our president for the next four years. In perpetuity, we’re going to be, I believe, a red nation.”
Again, four of the six protest permits issued at the Capitol for Jan. 6 were given to these independent charismatic Christian groups. They were stationed around the Capitol with stages and microphones to fight their battle as people scaled the walls of the Capitol building just like they once scaled the walls of Mount Everest in Operation Ice Castle.
Throughout the videos of the insurrection, you’ll notice a seemingly random assortment of people blowing shofars, making apostolic declarations, waving white flags with green trees and singing worship music. These elements were worship weapons used throughout the sonic warfare events, beginning at least all the way back to The Call in 2000 and developing over time from there.
It’s quite haunting to watch the mass of humanity attacking the Capitol while independent charismatics speak in tongues amid tear gas canisters or singing, “The Lord will fight the battle for his people when we cry aloud unto him. And he will CRUSH the enemy.”
Matthew Rowley provides an excellent list of similar examples in his article for the International Journal of Religion titled, “Prophetic Populism and the Violent Rejection of Joe Biden’s Election: Mapping the Theology of the Capitol Insurrection.”
Taylor reflects: “Why are large groups of people singing worship songs around the Capitol riots about God defeating God’s enemies even as the rioting commences? Because as Sean Feucht says, ‘Worship is a weapon.’”
But as the violence increased, where were the apostles and prophets? Ahn said he wasn’t at the Capitol because he had a small bladder, had to go to the bathroom and ended up taking a nap at his hotel. Sheets was on a conference call and ended up getting piped in over the protestors’ PA system praying for peace.
“The Capitol riot was about many things. But one of the major dimensions of it was it was a visible manifestation of a monumental spiritual warfare campaign, perhaps the largest in American history.”
In the end, “Many people in the crowds that day not only believed the prophecies that God had anointed Donald Trump for another term as president, but they also believed the demons — literal demons, powers and principalities — had taken over the Capitol and were blocking God’s will,” Taylor said. “The Capitol riot was about many things. But one of the major dimensions of it was a visible manifestation of a monumental spiritual warfare campaign, perhaps the largest in American history.”
January 6 Committee
The January 6 Select House Committee was supposed to uncover what led to the insurrection on the Capitol. They did an excellent job highlighting much of Trump’s involvement. But they mentioned Christian nationalism just once. To the contrary, multiple members of the January 6 Select House Committee said the Constitution is “divinely inspired.
Coverage at the local level isn’t any better. Curtis Freeman, professor at Duke Divinity School, tweeted: “NC ranks #11 in arrests of Capitol Rioters. Not surprisingly there is NO mention of religious involvement. It would be interesting to learn the church connection of NC Rioters. The theology of domestic terrorism remains unmoved.”
At what point are we going to start taking Christian supremacist theology seriously? When will we acknowledge what the independent charismatic apostles and prophets are explicitly telling us?
Despite what most people think, in the case of the independent charismatics, Donald Trump didn’t bend evangelicalism to his will. Evangelicalism used Trump to bolster its own power. He was a player they placed at the top of the mountains they are attempting to conquer.
And these same people are wielding their power and rhetoric today.
At the 2022 “Let Us Worship” gathering, Sean Feucht stood with the Capitol behind him, while wearing a “Kingdom to the Capitol” T-shirt. As the music lowered the defenses of the worshipers and swept them into its effervescent flow, the massive gathering of evangelicals lifted their hands in sonic warfare and sang:
You can take 300 and overtake a nation.
You don’t need an army, just a heart that’s willing.
With one stone the giant falls.
With one word, you take them all.
This is who my God is.
He has gone before.
This is who my God is.
He never lost a war.
Rick Pidcock is a 2004 graduate of Bob Jones University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible. He’s a freelance writer based in South Carolina and a former Clemons Fellow with BNG. He recently completed a Master of Arts degree in worship from Northern Seminary. He is a stay-at-home father of five children and produces music under the artist name Provoke Wonder. Follow his blog at www.rickpidcock.com.
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