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Led by a spirit, but which one?

The audience members behave as if they are at a psychedelic counterculture festival. One couple jumps up and down twirling red and silver metallic flags. Dyed-haired teenagers pulled in by the revival's presence on Facebook and MySpace wander around looking dazed. Women lay facedown on the floor, convulsing and howling.

Fathers wail in tongues as their confused children look on. Strangers lay hands on those who fail to produce tongues or gyrate wildly enough, pressuring them to "let it out."



Crowds have numbered 10,000+ over a 100 day period.

Bentley is considered a prophet both by his followers and by other leaders of the Joel's Army movement, whose adherents claim to be reviving a "five-fold ministry" of prophets, apostles, elders, pastors and teachers, as outlined in the Book of Ephesians.

Not every five-fold ministry is connected to the Joel's Army movement, but the movement has spurred an interest in modern-day apostles and prophets that's troubling to the Assemblies of God, the world's largest Pentecostal church, which has officially disavowed the Joel's Army movement.



In a 2001 position paper, Assemblies of God leaders wrote that they do not recognize modern-day apostles or prophets and worried that "such leaders prefer more authoritarian structures where their own word or decrees are unchallenged."

They are right to worry. Joel's Army followers believe that once democratic institutions are overthrown, their hierarchy of apostles and prophets will rule over the earth, with one church per city.

According to Joel's Army doctrine, the enforcers of the five-fold ministry will be members of the final generation, for whom the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade constituted a new Passover. "Everyone born after abortion's legalization can consider their birth a personal invitation to take part in this great army," writes John Crowder, another prominent Joel's Army pastor, who bills his 2006 book, The New Mystics: How to Become Part of the Supernatural Generation, as a literal how-to guide for joining Joel's Army.

Both Bentley and Crowder are enormously popular on Elijah's List, an online watering hole for a broad spectrum of Joel's Army enlistees, from lightweight believers who merely share an affection for military rhetoric and pastors who dress in army camouflage (several Joel's Army pastors are addressed by their congregants as "commandant" or "commander") to hardliners who believe the church is called to have an active military role in end-times that have already begun.

"The Call," a 12-hour revival of up to 20,000 young people held in a different city each year, is led by Joel's Army pastor Lou Engle.
Elijah's List currently has more than 125,000 subscribers on its electronic mailing list. Rick Joyner, a pastor whose books, The Harvest and The Call, helped popularize Joel's Army theology by selling more than a million copies each, goes the furthest on Elijah's List in pushing the hardliner approach. In 2006, he posted a sermon called "The Warrior Nation — The New Sound of the Church," in which he claimed that a last-day army is now gathering and called believers "freedom fighters."
As the church begins to take on this resolve, they [Joel's Army churches] will start to be thought of more as military bases, and they will begin to take on the characteristics of military bases for training, equipping, and deploying effective spiritual forces," Joyner wrote. "In time, the church will actually be organized more as a military force with an army, navy, air force, etc."
In a sort of disclaimer, Joyner writes at one point that God's army "will bring love, peace and stability wherever they go." But several of his books narrate with glee what he describes as "a coming civil war within the church." In his 1997 book The Harvest he writes: "Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place. Some will become so hardened they will become opposers and resist God to the end."
Two years later, in his book The Final Quest, Joyner described a vision (taken as prophecy in the Joel's Army world, where Joyner is considered an "apostle") of the coming Christian Civil War in which demon-possessed Christian soldiers enslave other, weaker Christians who resist them. He also describes how the hero of the novel — himself — ascends a "Holy Mountain" in order to learn new truths and to acquire new, magic weapons.

Read the archives:
  

Joel's Army and the Manifest Sons of God
Militant Joel's Army Followers Seek Theocracy


"And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. " 2 Corinthians 11:14,15

Joel's Army is on the move

LAKELAND, Fla. — Todd Bentley has a long night ahead of him, resurrecting the dead, healing the blind, and exploding cancerous tumors. Since April 3, the 32-year-old, heavily tattooed, body-pierced, shaved-head Canadian preacher has been leading a continuous "supernatural healing revival" in central Florida. To contain the 10,000-plus crowds flocking from around the globe, Bentley has rented baseball stadiums, arenas and airport hangars at a cost of up to $15,000 a day. Many in attendance are church pastors themselves who believe Bentley to be a prophet and don't bat an eye when he tells them he's seen King David and spoken with the Apostle Paul in heaven. "He was looking very Jewish," Bentley notes.


Canadian Todd Bentley, who preached for months on end this year in Florida, is a general in Joel's Army.

Tattooed across his sternum are military dog tags that read "Joel's Army." They're evidence of Bentley's generalship in a rapidly growing apocalyptic movement that's gone largely unnoticed by watchdogs of the theocratic right. According to Bentley and a handful of other "hyper-charismatic" preachers advancing the same agenda, Joel's Army is prophesied to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian "dominion" on non-believers.

"An end-time army has one common purpose — to aggressively take ground for the kingdom of God under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Dread Champion," Bentley declares on the website for his ministry school in British Columbia, Canada. "The trumpet is sounding, calling on-fire, revolutionary believers to enlist in Joel's Army. … Many are now ready to be mobilized to establish and advance God's kingdom on earth."

Joel's Army followers, many of them teenagers and young adults who believe they're members of the final generation to come of age before the end of the world, are breaking away in droves from mainline Pentecostal churches. Numbering in the tens of thousands, they base their beliefs on an esoteric reading of the second chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, in which an avenging swarm of locusts attacks Israel. In their view, the locusts are a metaphor for Joel's Army. Despite their overt militancy, there's no evidence Joel's Army followers have committed any acts of violence. But critics warn that actual bloodletting may only be a matter of time for a movement that casts itself as God's avenging army.

Those sounding the alarm about Joel's Army are not secular foes of the Christian Right, few of whom are even aware of the movement or how widespread it's become in the past decade. Instead, Joel's Army critics are mostly conservative Christians, either neo-Pentecostals who left the movement in disgust or evangelical Christians who fear that Joel's Army preachers are stealing their flocks, even sending spies to infiltrate their own congregations and sway their young people to heresy. And they say the movement is becoming frightening.

"The pitch and intensity of the military rhetoric of this branch of the global Dominionist movement has substantially increased since the beginning of 2008," writes The Discernment Research Group, a Christian watchdog group that tracks what they call heresies or cults within Christianity. "One can only wonder how long before this transforms into real warfare with actual warriors."

Joel's Army believers are hard-core Christian dominionists, meaning they believe that America, along with the rest of the world, should be governed by conservative Christians and a conservative Christian interpretation of biblical law.

There is no room in their doctrine for democracy or pluralism. Dominionism's original branch is Christian Reconstructionism, a grim, Calvinist call to theocracy that, as Reconstructionist writer Gary North describes, wants to "get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God." Notorious for endorsing the public execution by stoning of LGBT people and adulterers, the Christian Reconstructionist movement is far better known in secular America than Joel's Army. That's largely because Reconstructionists have made several serious forays into mainstream politics and received a fair amount of negative publicity as a result.

Joel's Army followers eschew the political system, believing the path to world domination lies in taking over churches, not election to public office. Another key difference between the two branches of dominionism, which maintain a testy, arms-length relationship with one another, is Christian Reconstructionism's buttoned-down image and heavy emphasis on Bible study, which contrasts sharply with Joel's Army anti-intellectual distrust of biblical scholars and its unruly style. "Some people snort cocaine, others snort religions," Joel's Army Pastor Roy said while ministering a morning program at Todd Bentley's Lakeland, Fla., revival in late May.

"Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I [am] the LORD." Leviticus 19:28


Todd Bentley is a little different from your pastor

As this article went to press, Bentley's "Florida Outpouring" had been running for more than 100 days straight. Many attendees came in search of spontaneous physical healing and a desire to be part of a mystical community marked by dancing, shouting, gyrating, speaking in tongues and other forms of ecstatic release. Snide jabs at traditional church services are fairly common at Bentley's revivals. In fact, what takes place onstage at the Florida Outpouring looks more like a pro wrestling extravaganza than church. On stage, Bentley and his team of pastors, yell, chant, and scream "Fire!" and "Bam!" while anointing followers.

Bentley, who claims to be a supernatural healer, is no less over the top, playing his biker-punk appearance and heavy metal theatrics to the hilt. On YouTube, where clips of his most dramatic healings have been condensed into a three-minute highlight reel, Bentley describes God ordering him to kick an elderly lady in the face: "I am thinking, 'God, why is the power of God not moving?' And He said, 'It is because you haven't kicked that women in the face.' And there was, like, this older lady worshipping right in front of the platform and the Holy Spirit spoke to me and the gift of faith came on me. He said, 'Kick her in the face … with your biker boot.' I inched closer and I went like this [makes kicking motion]: Bam! And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God." source - Southern Poverty Law Center

 

 

 

Connections or coincidence?

Texas Governor Rick Perry has jumped on the "Joel's Army" bandwagon, claiming in his promotional message for his The Response prayer and fasting event in Houston in August: "Some problems are beyond our power to solve, and according to the Book of Joel, Chapter 2, this historic hour demands a historic response."

The language of Joel 2, written centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ, and referring to a time after the return of the Hebrews from their Babylonian exile, has been reinterpreted by some Christian groups to be a prophecy referring to the "end time" or Apocalypse. The "response" Perry is talking about is the one Joel 2 calls for when God's people are confronted by an Apocalyptic crisis. In part a call for fasting and prayer, it is also a description of a powerful army of God. source - LGF

 
The Call's Lou Engle are closely aligned with a militant Christian dominionist movement called "Joel's Army" run by self-proclaimed prophet and faith-healer Todd Bentley. The atmosphere is less charged with violence at "The Call," a 12-hour revival of up to 20,000 youths led by Joel's Army pastor Lou Engle and held every summer in a major American city (this year's event was scheduled for Washington, D.C. in August). source - RWW

 
The Wasilla Assembly of God church that Sarah Palin attends is involved in a resurgence movement that was declared heretical by the larger Assemblies of God church in 1949. This is the same 'Spiritual Warfare' movement that was featured in the award winning movie, "Jesus Camp," and which is employed by major participants, like Morning Star and Fresh Fire Ministries in The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit, also called the New Apostolic Reformation. The Third wave is dedicated to raising an army of young soldiers to fight in “Joel’s Army.” The Joel’s Army movement is a Neo-Pentecostal belief concocted from an esoteric reading of the second chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joel, in which an avenging swarm of locusts attacks Israel. In their convoluted view, the locusts are a metaphor for the minions of Joel’s Army. Believers in the Third Wave movement are focused on training a young "Joel's Army" to become an Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers of the United States and the world. source - Salon

 

 
   
   
   
   

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