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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tony Jones on C. Peter Wagner

Glad to see the Christian leader Tony Jones' blog has a post up about C. Peter Wagner. It is really striking to me how Jones places Wagner's practice of mapping "territorial spirits" all the way back to the 1980s. Given that Wagner left Fuller in 2001, that means that there was over a decade in which one of the leading evangelical seminaries in the world had as one of its lead professors (arguably its most well-known at that time) a man who was pushing what I view as one of the three key novelties of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The more you consider stories like this the more difficult it becomes to condemn those of us who are concerned that NAR beliefs and practices are impacting the mainstream of evangelicalism.

"Wagner was a professor at Fuller when I was a student there.  I never took a class from him, as I am highly dubious of his brand of Christianity, but many of my peers did.  Wagner’s classes were rife with healings (usually leg-lengthenings) and maps showing the “territorial demons” that had carved up Los Angeles County for their dominions.  He played audio tapes in his class that he had recorded during exorcisms." (emphasis in the original)

The comment section on Jones' post is also very interesting to read. One writer defends Wagner saying "I think if you had a personal conversation with Peter Wagner you might find him to be a nice, gentle and warmhearted guy, who also has an intellectual side to his personality.We don’t have to agree with all of his theology, especially his politics, but we love the 'multiple streams' and perspectives that characterize the Body of Christ." In response, the researcher Bruce Wilson replies "The point, for me at least, concerns not Peter Wagner as a personality but, rather, Wagner’s ideas...I grew up in a Christian tradition which emphasized that the message of Jesus, and the way to follow him, was to work for peace. C. Peter Wagner’s sense of Christianity is very, very, different. He seems to view the church at war–both with entire geographic regions (and the people therein, it would seem) and with whole world religious traditions. There is nothing wrong with evangelizing. But there is a difference, I would submit, between evangelizing and the eradication of all competing belief systems."

These are the kinds of exchanges and discussions we need to have if we are going to really come to grips with this key question: Is Wagner's NAR something Christians should view as "just another stream" or is it something to be resisted as a dangerous trend for both the church and state?

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