Everyone must read this article about ‘Joel’s Army’ and be afraid. It’s a movement by radical Dominionists to build an informal paramilitary organization (at this time, it seems to be more attitude than organization) to prepare to fight to impose a kind of Christian fascism on the world. It may be a group small in number (but not that small, I fear), but they have a lot of fanaticism and lunacy to amplify their power.
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.
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.”
These people are insane. They’re fed on a diet of lies and encouraged to believe that violence will be the answer, and reason is to be rejected.
The anti-intellectualism is overt. They’re actually proud of their contempt for learning; the article discusses the influence of a Canadian (errm, what is it with all the mild-mannered Canadians in this outfit?) Pentecostalist, William Branham.
Michael Barkun, a leading scholar of radical religion, notes that in 1958, Branham began teaching “Serpent Seed” doctrine, the belief that Satan had sex with Eve, resulting in Cain and his descendants. “Through Cain came all the smart, educated people down to the antediluvian flood — the intellectuals, bible colleges,” Branham wrote in the kind of anti-mainstream religion, anti-intellectual spirit that pervades the Joel’s Army movement to this day. “They know all their creeds but know nothing about God.”
I’m rather offended to be lumped in with bible colleges, but compared to Joel’s Army, the bible colleges actually are beacons of rationality. And if you think that’s bad, an insider, Ernie Gruen, has revealed some of their other doctrines…which sound vaguely familiar.
According to Gruen’s report, students at the school were taught that they were a “super-race” of the “elected seed” of all the best bloodlines of all generations — foreknown, predestined, and hand-selected from billions of others to be part of the “end-time Omega generation.”
Though he’d once promoted these doctrines himself, Gruen became convinced that the movement was turning into an end-times cult, marked by what he summarized as “spiritual threats, fears, and warnings of death,” “warning followers to beware of other Christians” and exhibiting “a ‘super-race’ mentality toward the training of their children.”
Let’s hope this is a fringe cult that will fade away, rather than rising to greater power. Let’s hope. But … Sarah Palin’s home church is dominionist, with connections to Joel’s Army.