A 3rd Wave Charismatic Power Encounter in a Rio de Janeiro Cemetery

Posted in > ANALYSIS by David on November 6, 2018

“My child, I have given you the keys to My kingdom. In my power and authority you will be able to bind the power of the enemy and loose the captives from his dominion. You will know the mystery of My kingdom and will bring the glad tidings of My kingdom to those who live in darkness…”

– John Eckhardt, Daily Declarations for Spiritual Warfare – Biblical Principles to Beat the Devil (Charisma House, 2011)

BfLmNyqBOn November 2nd, 2018 a group of around 30 ‘prayer warriors’ stormed a cemetery in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to disrupt Umbanda practitioners in the midst of a Day of the Dead ceremony. This event is what the late C. Peter Wagner, a pioneer of the 3rd Wave charismatic movement, would call a ‘power encounter’.

Drawing on examples such as Daniel in the lion’s den, Elijah’s conflict with Jezebel, Peter’s conflict with Simon the Magus, and other Biblical events where the righteous become mediums for a divine show of force – power encounters are part of an ends justify the means approach to theocratic spirituality. In particular power encounters occur when religious leaders have determined that an area, organization or individual is under the sway of a ‘demonic stronghold’ which must be torn down through prayer, evangelism and if necessary more occult means of direct spiritual warfare.

“… we ought to see clearly that the end DOES justify the means.  What else possible could justify the means?  If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method.  If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?”

– C. Peter Wagner, Your Church Can Grow – Seven Vital Signs Of A Healthy Church, p137 (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1976)

This violent system of applied spirituality has taken root in denominations, congregations and parachurch organizations influenced by theorists such as C. Peter Wagner, John Eckhardt, Tim LaHaye, Joyce Meyer, Rick Joyner, Bill Bright and innumberable others who operate under the auspices of ‘kingdom dominion’ and bringing the Kingdom of God to earth through politicized and weaponized religious ritual and social infiltration.(1)

News reports focus on these as evangelical believers – however the tactics employed represent the integration of weaponized information warfare techniques developed by ecumenical theorists operating within an alternative network of supernaturalist believers that has built up outside of denominational bounds in the wild lands of exorcism country.

The Brazilian news outlet Jornal O Dia’s report on the November 2nd incident gives a good sense of what these techniques look like when put into play on the ground:

Images of a group of at least 30 evangelicals expelling about 15 Umbanda and Candomblé supporters who participated in a service at the Maruí Cemetery in the Barreto neighborhood of Niterói are causing outrage in social networks. The event occurred on the Day of the Dead. One Facebook post, made by Agência Afro Notícias has already reached almost one million views this afternoon.

From the images, a minute and seventeen seconds, men and women dressed in yellow shirts, invade the area where the followers of Umbanda were, near tombs, in the place known as Cruzeiro. To the cries of ‘Jesus has power’, ‘The name of Jesus is powerful’, ‘the devil leaves’ and ‘sorcery leaves!’, The Umbandists, who were in the company of some candomblecistas, became trapped and ended up dispersing.”(2)

The media’s attention has been drawn to politicians whose use of spiritual warfare rhetoric opens up discussions on the dangers of theocracy and the influence of fundamentalist Christian groups in the political arena. It is a clear sign of the movement’s growing success that a significant number of politicians would show solidarity through campaign speeches. In reacting to charges of mal-intention Wagner offered up a candid picture of the movement’s motivations, along with a sophisticated strategic plan for invoking influence in society without obvious coercion:

“The usual meaning of theocracy is that a nation is run by authorized representatives of the church or its functional religious equivalent. Everyone I know in NAR would absolutely reject this idea, thinking back to Constantine’s failed experiment or some of the oppressive Islamic governments today. The way to achieve dominion is not to become “America’s Taliban,” but rather to have kingdom-minded people in every one of the Seven Mountains: Religion, Family, Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment, and Business so that they can use their influence to create an environment in which the blessings and prosperity of the Kingdom of God can permeate all areas of society.”(3)

Wagner’s publishing imprint, Arsenal Books, carries an apt name considering they provide the training material necessary to carry out these goals – and the success of their infiltration can be seen both in the continued harassment of indiginous and traditional faiths around the world by spiritual warfare groups associated with these parachurch ideologies and in the way that their violent rhetoric has become so central to the public face of mainline Christianity.

While atheist pundits focus on what they see as irrational elements, and the potential for active violence predicated on such strong martially based language, what is missed is that Wagner himself provides a more strategically sound means of social control, a simple three step process of infiltration,assimilation and activation.

(1) Satan’s Target: Your Mind – Supernatural Living in the American Marketplace – https://modernmythology.net/satans-target-your-mind-supernatural-living-in-the-american-marketplace-c6c38c616778

(2) https://odia.ig.com.br/rio-de-janeiro/2018/11/5590154-video-de-evangelicos-expulsando-fieis-de-religioes-africanas-de-cemiterio-de-niteroi-viraliza-e-provoca-reacoes.html 

(3) https://www.charismanews.com/opinion/31851-the-new-apostolic-reformation-is-not-a-cult

Special thanks to Antonio Fagundes Filho for the link to the O Dia article. 

Strategic Spiritual Warfare and the Feast of All Souls – Comparing Cultural Technologies for Processing Collective Trauma


14206181_10154497505756670_610393306113448089_oThis year, while writing about the growth of Dia de los Muertos celebrations across the United States with Dr. Andrew Chesnut, it struck me that this famous Mexican holiday provides an alternative spiritual solution for  one of the main drivers of politicized exorcism and spiritual warfare culture – a society or culture’s sense of inescapable corporate guilt/sin and generational trauma.

C. Peter Wagner, a pioneering figure in the 3rd Wave charismatic movement, developed complex theories of ‘strategic spiritual warfare’ to combat collective guilt. He saw this ‘stronghold’ of demonic control as a key component in the late 20th century/early 21st century culture of crisis.

“As the Body of Christ agrees to pull down strongholds of corporate sin, the way will be opened for revival of churches and a harvest of souls greater than anything previously imagined. Identificational repentance gives us the power to heal the past.” (1)

The specific tool that Wagner presents to deal with these corporate sins is what he calls ‘identificational repentance’.  As he explains:

“We Americans are not ignorant of the fact that our nation has gained high international visibility for many things, some good, but some very bad.  Now by God’s grace many American Christian leaders want our nation also to be known for our deep remorse over the national sins and atrocities we have committed.  We want to be among the first to corporately humble ourselves before God and before the people we have offended, to confess our sins, and to seek remission of those sins in order to heal our deep national wounds.  With no desire to be arrogant, we hope that if we provide a good example which pleases God, some other nations may see fit to follow our lead.

This corporate or group humbling often takes the form of dramatic public performances of faith – what Wagner in other contexts refers to as a ‘power encounter’ between the Christian and the sinister forces that stand between the present world society and the Kingdom of God. Public prayer performance, theatrical displays, and visible ‘prophetic’ actions that draw on Biblical examples such as the clay pot, plumb line and other physical symbols found in the Book of Ezekiel.(2)

In Latin America and throughout the Carribean festivals associated with the dead and a cultural openness to a metaphysics in which the dead remain an active presence in the world of the living both play a part in altering this cultural relationship to corporate guilt.

On the level of spiritual practice and applied religion – this vitalized relationship with the past allows for a conversation and an intimacy to the process of collective grief that is completely absent from the forced and academic applications of behavioral technologies and social engineering techniques recommended by 3rd Wave and New Apostolic Reformation ‘prophets.’

The commercial growth of traditions such as Dia de los Muertos provides an important area of cultural integration and communication between the United States and Latin America – but as Sarah Chavez, director at The Order of the Good Death, points out – this is not enough:

“While the images and rituals of Dia de Muertos are beautiful, and praised and commercialized for their aesthetic value, keep in mind the reality of every day life for many in the Latinx community whose experiences are too often filled with violence, and policies that dehumanize, hurt and can lead to death.”(3)

And this is one of the key problems with politicized spiritual warfare. While collective rituals such as Dia de los Muertos provide an opportunity for community growth, personal reflection and a deepening of family bonds – in many ways the psychic warfare techniques of the 3rd Wave charismatic movement  serve only to deepen collective wounds stemming in large part from centuries of the same strategic spiritual warfare techniques being applied to indigenous spiritualities and socially marginalized individuals and groups.

Seen as technologies the responsibility for care when implementing, cultivating and developing these cultural tools becomes much clearer – and the unconscionable damage to the human organism’s collective psyche from their misapplication is an area where the popular prayer warriors have yet to repent.

For more on Dia de los Muertos and the culture of death in Latin America see:

Exorcising Mictecacihuatl – The Origins of Day of the Dead in Mexico (The Global Catholic Review) 

Meet Mexico’s Trinity of Death – Day of the Dead, Santa Muerte, and Catrina Calavera (Folklore Thursday)


(1) https://renewaljournal.blog/2011/07/18/the-power-to-heal-the-past-by-c-peter-wagner/
(2) Wagner, C. Peter, Spiritual Warfare Strategy – Confronting Spiritual Powers (Destiny Image, 2011) 
(3) https://twitter.com/sarah_calavera/status/1058041548154134528