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12:54 AM
@GratefulDisciple - interesting investigation. I haven't watched the video either, but judging by comments posted by some skeptical users, Dr. Brown seems to lend credence to charismatic healing, at least to some modest extent. If you are interested, here is a documentary on Carlos Annacondia: youtu.be/gaK67UFQ6kI
And here is an interview: premierchristianity.com/home/…
 
1 hour later…
2:16 AM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator I think you will find the video very useful. About Carlos's book, I noticed the foreword by Peter Wagner, so the interview article above immediately made sense, as the framing is consistent with the New Apostolic Reformation movement founded/crystallized by Peter Wagner, which features Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare method of operation.
2:29 AM
So the DNA of the movement is similar to the DNA of the influencers who spread false teaching to my friend, which caused her confusion and suffering from unmet expectations, not only for her to shy away from legitimate (albeit "non-spiritual") avenues of healing available to her. So again, extraordinary reports and numbers need to be balanced with the right measure to be used for genuine conversion and sanctification.
Anything tainted with NAR is a red flag to me. I trust early Pentecostal (100-120 years ago) a lot more, although John Wesley is my outer limit. FYI, Assembly of God (classic Pentecostal) is distancing themselves from NAR.
2:51 AM
@GratefulDisciple - it's possible that you are misinterpreting the direction of the arrow of causality. According to this article, Carlos Annacondia was not influenced by Peter Wagner's theology. It was the other way around. Quote: In his quest for better techniques to bring about mass conversions Wagner, impressed by the Latin American Pentecostal churches, embraced Pentecostalism and developed SLSW
This means that Carlos Annacondia's way of performing spiritual warfare must be traced back to a different source. In other words, Peter Wagner was not the cause, he simply tried to "formalize" theologically what he witnessed in Latin American Pentecostal churches. But why were Latin American Pentecostal churches having success with their spiritual warfare "techniques" in the first place? That's a different (and intriguing) question.
 
2 hours later…
4:57 AM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator You made a good point about the arrow, and about asking why Carlos did spiritual warfare that way. One thing that comes to mind is the high level of magic, vodoo, witchcraft, and other types of demon worship in Argentina at the time. So in the general population, most would need exorcism, unlike in Western countries where a simple Billy Graham style revival is sufficient.
5:19 AM
@GratefulDisciple - btw, question asked:
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Q: Can the Pentecostal/Charismatic belief in "territorial spirits" and "Strategic-Level Spiritual Warfare" be traced back to prior sources?

Spirit Realm InvestigatorAccording to the Wikipedia article on Territorial spirit: Territorial spirits are national angels, or demons, who rule over certain geographical areas in the world, a concept accepted within the Charismatic movement, Pentecostal traditions, and Kingdom Now theology. This belief has been populari...

 
11 hours later…
4:02 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator I want to be fair, that's part of my core belief, scholarly integrity, which is allowing the opponent to be heard fairly. If this were a court proceeding, then I will need to do a "discovery" to you, the 2013 dissertation by Randy Clark, Randy Clark of course being one of the key players in the NAR movement. His dissertation references Prof. Candy Gunther's book Testing Prayer.
While of course I will read it critically, at least it's peer reviewed by his dissertation committee of the school United Theological Seminary. Another interesting one about NAR "framing" is this 2019 thesis for MA in Religious Studies, which is an ethnographic report of visiting an NAR conference as part of the cohort's overall study of an NAR congregation (Dayspring church in Springfield, Missouri).
When I reflect on the whole thing, it becomes rather depressing on how successful NAR movement has been in "marketing" the whole thing, creating new interpretation of the Bible, claiming to provide a way (coming from God, no less) to alleviate the suffering of the converts, creating a cover of respectability by placing themselves as the continuation of Acts while demonizing run-of-the-mill churches as blocking the work of the Holy Spirit, (cont'd)
establishing apostolic networks of churches to place people on the ground throughout the world in the name of missions, producing training, conferences, and books to support their effort, etc. This dissertation along with gathering support from academically credentialed people like Dr. Michael Brown (stealth NAR), Craig Keener (remotely NAR sympathizer), C. Peter Wagner (diminishing credibility), and Candy Brown (neutral cover) represent the first phase of academic legitimacy.
If God allows this NAR movement to continue, it's quite plausible to me that sola scriptura would effectively be dismantled (since they are self-proclaimed apostles and prophets). They would then become a new Tradition that equals or exceeds scripture, similar to how Roman Catholics have done it, except Roman Catholics self-consciously defer to the "deposit of faith" instead of generating new teachings. That is why I trust their teachings on spiritual realm a lot more than NAR.
What is clear is that NAR represents a lot more than early 20th century Pentecostal teaching of spiritual gifts, which is a lot more benign and a lot more biblical version of continuationists. The member churches are increasingly self-aware that they represent the "third wave" of Pentecostalism, seemingly another code word for NAR.
What made me depressed is that I'm in a "no win" situation. Who doesn't want healing NOW instead of waiting for heaven? Who doesn't want realized eschatology NOW instead of waiting for the new heaven and earth?
Those who remain sick/unfulfilled will be labelled as not true Christians if they don't buy in. Or if they hop into the NAR spiritual practices but remain sick are going to be told to "keep trying". Or if they have tried for at least 10 years (like my friend) will feel left-out or even bitter with God instead of blaming NAR as false teaching.
4:42 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator Going back to Carlos Annacondia, it's still unknown to me who influenced him. Like you said, the arrow seems to go from him to Peter Wagner, Randy Clark, and the rest. I want to remain open in regards to him. The 2 book chapters about him and the larger 1980s Latin American revival in the "Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing" book have very interesting details but not sufficient to trace the origin. A clue is his director of deliverance ministry, Pablo Bottari.
As a Christian who only read third hand scholarly reports, second hand documentary (you provided) and first hand potentially biased interview (that you also provided), I can simply affirm that whatever genuinely good that come out of the revival, I'm praising God for the people who were touched. The God I believe in is great enough to use even perverted means to achieve His purpose. Not to say that Carlos's method was perverted, maybe I am the one who is wrong and that SLSW is a new revelation!
What I personally believe is that when there's previous personal involvement with the occult, I do believe exorcism may need to be done, as the Catholic church teaches also. The ethnographic report of Global Awakening mission in Brazil (chapter 17 of Dr. Brown's book) has Randy Clark's volunteer member to ask a convert "Have you ever been involved in the occult" as standard procedure. This seems right. Dr. Brown's field study method and hermeneutics (shown in that youtube video) is also right.
@SpiritRealmInvestigator On a popular level I also largely trust Christianity Today's editorial judgment. So using all those resources I'll keep on studying and discerning. I'm just somewhat depressed at the remote prospect that I'm wrong, or if they're wrong how millions of people (including my friend) have been deceived and how ineffective the good churches have been to reach those who need Christ.
The worst case scenario is that I will be like King Tirian's soldier in the 7th book of Narnia "The Last Battle", fighting a losing battle while the anti-Christ succeeded in deceiving many. By the way, if you haven't read it, I highly recommend the 7 "children" book The Chronicles of Narnia. If you do, I recommend reading in the publication order.
5:42 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator The primary contributor to my depression yesterday is to discover how Craig Keener is at least a remote sympathizer to NAR, shown by his assistance to Randy Clark (see Acknolwedgement section in his dissertation) and by writing a foreword to a 2017 Randy Clark's book Baptized in the Spirit.
Skimming through Craig Keener's blog articles on Are There Apostles today? (part 2 here, part 3 here), it doesn't seem that Craig fell into the NAR heresy yet, just being a cautious continuationist. But why does he seemingly support NAR instead of speaking against it? I don't want to believe he is naive.
6:29 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator At any rate, having read those 3 part articles by Craig Keener, I can be persuaded by his analysis and exegesis of NT about what "apostle" means for today. If based on his personal and critical investigation, Randy Clark, et al. does NOT violate Craig Keener's own definition of what a modern day apostle should be, then chances are higher that I'm in the wrong. I still want to trust Craig for exegesis, though my instinct says it's safer to be a cessationist.
Here's a very good (and entertaining) rebuttal of the supposed rebuttal of John MacArthur's charges by Craig Keener. It is written by a Canadian Mennonite, Lyndon Unger: Authentic Fire Review: The Appendix of the Doctor
6:57 PM
@GratefulDisciple - I think it's okay to play it safe and remain cessationist (or continuationist but cautious at best) if you are not sure about this topic. I don't think one's position on the cessationist-continuationist debate is a salvation issue, so it's fine if you play it safe. I personally think that there are lots of counterfeits out there, but this doesn't rule out the possibility that genuine exceptions may still happen here and there from time to time.
If, say, 10K people sincerely report firsthand experiences with spiritual gifts, there is a very good chance (in my opinion) that AT LEAST one of those reports is genuine. But, at the end of the day, discernment is key.
Perhaps a more reasonable position to hold could be to say that genuine spiritual gifts are rather scarce and made invisible by a distracting majority of counterfeits.
@SpiritRealmInvestigator For sure. If one tells you that if you're not continuationist you are not Christian, that's heresy outright. Reminds me of the distinction between believing a certain atonement theory (let's say PSA) vs. believing that Jesus's death on the cross saved you. The latter is necessary but the former is optional.
@SpiritRealmInvestigator Being a cessationist is not the same as anti-supernatural. It's simply having a higher standard for what counts as "prophecy" as well as the kind of threshold to be able to say someone "has been gifted with healing power" to be on par with the NT report and on par with how even the shadow of Peter or the handkerchief of Paul can heal.
@GratefulDisciple - perhaps God does move in powerful ways through certain vessels in specific circumstances AS LONG AS He can make sure that no undeniable documentable evidence is produced. In other words, if God doesn't want to prove His existence at a worldwide scale through undeniable evidence (with the kind of evidence that even the scientific community wouldn't be able to deny), then God will not grant gifts/miracles in such circumstances.
Anyway, skimming through Randy's dissertation, the structure and the way the research is conducted seems on par with other academic research. I haven't yet read closely the framing of his view, which to me is the most important part to guard against whether he will use this to justify his ministry.
That would explain why atheists, skeptics and even cessationists never find the level of evidence that would satisfy their skepticism regarding spiritual gifts / miracles.
God always makes sure that there is enough room to be skeptical (with the exception of firsthand witnesses).
7:13 PM
@SpiritRealmInvestigator Maybe. But I don't want to presume what God plans to do. I just want people to have the right kind of faith in Jesus and a healthy relationship with God. For that, we need the missionaries and the preachers to teach rightly so they don't end up like Apollos or worse. In the meantime, I believe God will use (and providentially arrange) anything available.
But at this point, I feel like I am pontificating from the comfort of my armchair in my ivory tower. I have no credibility nor mission experience to offer apart from pointing people to books, research and discuss with critical thinking. I think I have said enough on NAR, cessationism vs. continuationists, etc. Good luck on your search! I'll let you know when I find something interesting.
@GratefulDisciple - For example, Dr. Craig Keener claims to have had a supernatural experience that led to his conversion, and this experience has biased him to favor continuationist positions. He's convinced because he knows what he experienced. But we (outside observers) have no way to know for sure because we weren't there. We only have access to his testimony.
In other words, continuationism is self-evident for Dr. Keener because of his own firsthand experience, but for us it's just one of several competing hypotheses, supported mostly by testimonial evidence from others.
@SpiritRealmInvestigator Yes. Even Randy Clark uses his own experience praying over people in mission trips as data in the dissertation (with appropriate controls). I feel a little unfair to him that what I can do is criticize the framing.
@GratefulDisciple - Good luck on your own search and investigations as well. I also share the feelings regarding armchair thinking vs. actual experience in the field. Probably a good balance between the two should be optimal.
@SpiritRealmInvestigator My research is more on philosophical understanding of human nature, informed by theology. The experts I most trust are the ones who has done so using their own experience (i.e. they have both genuine experiences in relating to God and the academic credentials to talk about them using precise concepts and terms). These include C.S. Lewis, Eleonore Stump, John Piper, G.K. Chesterton, etc.
I haven't read enough John MacArthur yet to discern whether he has experience enough other than head knowledge. Oh, and I do trust St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Thomas Aquinas, and a few other saints as well. Being canonized adds a level of safety.
But since your area has to do with gifts & spiritual realm, it seems like field experience is unavoidable.
Characters in the Bible are not that useful for my own project (philosophical understanding of human nature) because I am at the mercy of the Bible authors. They are portrayal, like literary characters as Hamlet in Shakespeare or Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. But heavily documented people that I mentioned are better for me. Oh, I forgot St. Augustine who disclosed himself in the Western classic Confessions as well as voluminous writings on the "framing" of his own experience.
@SpiritRealmInvestigator Gotta to go. Have a good day!

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