We have been reporting on last week’s Gathering of Eagles in Washington, D.C. where the Family Research Council teamed up with “Apostle” Cindy Jacobs to launch a prayer campaign designed to influence the 2012 elections.
The event was vivid evidence of the Religious Right’s willingness to embrace the radical dominionists of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The Family Research Council is probably the most prominent political group on the Religious Right; its Values Voter Summit attracts Republican presidential candidates, congressional leaders, and other officials. FRC is teaming up with proponents of politics as spiritual warfare against demons who control Washington, D.C. and other cities. FRC and NAR leaders have common political goals (defeating President Obama, opposing LGBT equality, etc.) and a shared disdain for the separation of church and state.
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins didn’t show, but the group’s chaplain and national prayer director Pierre Bynum represented FRC, asking for “miracles” during the election year prayer project and “joy” in November. Bynum recounted God’s instructions to Moses, through his father-in-law, regarding the kind of men he should select as leaders (men who are capable, who fear God, who love truth, and who hate dishonest gain). Then Bynum spoke wistfully about a time when he says there was a clear religious test for public office -- something explicitly forbidden in the Constitution.
…used to be you couldn’t hold public office in America unless you believed in Jesus Christ, and also believed not only in Jesus Christ but in a future destiny of rewards and punishment for people – you had to believe in a heaven and a hell to be elected for public office in the United States.
But Bynum, and Cindy Jacobs herself, were just the warm-up crew for “teaching apostle” Dutch Sheets, a leader in the New Apostolic Reformation. Sheets’s keynote was part lecture and part battle cry, structured around what he portrayed as two aspects of the church – the oikos – which represents the church as family – and the ekklesia, which he says is the church as legislative body, as God’s government on earth. His thesis is that the American church is too caught up in pastoral care and taking care of individuals and congregations – the oikos – and not nearly concerned enough with their responsibility to legislate, govern, and manage the earth in partnership with god.
Sheets blames that on Satan, who stole from people the concept of being an ekklesia , a “nation-discipling, ambassadorial, earth-stewarding extension of his kingdom.” Satan, it turns out, also had some help from King James, sponsor of the beloved 1611 English translation of the Bible. Sheets says King James was uncomfortable with people thinking of themselves as a government (“kind of like our government that is trying to sell us separation of church and state”) and so he instructed his translators to use the word “church” when translating ekklesia.
Sheets is out to change the emphasis on the "family" side of church. He says he’s looking for soldiers and warriors who understand the commission in Matthew 28 to disciple the nations as a grant of authority to be partners with God. “Disciple, rule, manage the earth. Make it look like heaven.” This is not a new concept, he says, but “a renewing of the Genesis mandate to manage our home -- and make this part of the kingdom look and think like the kingdom of heaven.” In fact, Sheets said, the earth itself is “groaning” for the sons of God to exercise their proper dominion and authority, saying that if they don’t, it doesn’t rain when it’s supposed to rain and crops don’t produce.
He was not implying “that we’re going to take over everything and rule the earth completely for the Lord,” he said. “But we’re supposed to try. It is our commission….There’s no insinuation here that we’re going to take over everything, but our assignment until he comes, is to bring his kingdom rule into the earth so that our region looks like heaven again.” According to Sheets, the church as ekklesia was meant to “divide and conquer” and, pointing to Harry Jackson in the front row, said, “it gets a little divisive when you try to rise up and save marriage, doesn’t it?”
Sheets repeatedly mocked “little sheepies” – people focused on the caring and pastoral work of the church (while insisting he wasn’t demeaning that work) – and called for warriors, saying “I’m trying to raise up an army!” In his final prayer, he denounced as lazy, self-centered, narcissistic sheep those Christians who don’t register to vote because they don’t want to serve on jury duty, and asked God to “raise up kingdom warriors that are ready to do whatever it takes to bring forth your kingdom rule in the earth.”