C. Peter Wagner, Demon Hunter

Charisma Magazine is profiling C. Peter Wagner, the man whose teachings probably inspired General Boykin’s statements about Muslims and photographs of demons last year (although no one seemed to pick up on this connection). The profile notes that:

Unlike many academicians who write at a tedious college-reading level [!], Wagner is a populist who tries to reach average laypeople. None of his books ever hit a best-seller list, but total sales of all his titles is more than 2 million copies.

Considering that many of his books are used in seminaries, Bible colleges and independent church-training centers and are available in 25 languages, Wagner’s impact seems staggering.

Indeed, and someone like Wagner deserves as much attention as the likes of Pat Robertson  – perhaps more so.

Wagner’s major contribution to humanity is his views about Spiritual Warfare and its relation to the “10/40 Window”, the area on the world map which covers North Africa, the Middle East, China and South Asia. These areas are the most resistant to Christian conversion, and Wagner reasons this can’t be because the people living there simply have their own way of life which they prefer: it must be because of “Territorial Demons”, which needed to be overcome by what amounts to exorcisms of whole countries.

Wagner managed to gain prominence by harnessing an interest in demons created by This Present Darkness, a Fundamentalist novel in which demons try to control the inhabitants of an American town by teaching its inhabitants about environmentalism and Eastern religions. Also, with the revelation that so many “I survived Satanism” books were fraudulent, Wagner provided an alternative view that was just as black and white but required less evidence. At one point, he was teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary and his ideas were being vigorously promoted through his friend John Wimber in both the USA and the UK, with Wimber’s books providing a chunk of the reading material on the Alpha Course.

Wagner’s influence has peaked now in the West, as has the Charismatic movement, which provided a way for conservative Protestants to ease themselves out of their rather dour sub-cultures into something more cheerful (see Steve Bruce). Wimber is no more, and the Alpha course has been de-Wimberised. Charismatic “Spiritual Warfare” is also less popular following several sexual abuse scandals. Also, by providing a supernatural explanation to explain why Charismatic ideas are failing to spread more successfully, Wagner keeps members of the movement busy with stuff irrelevant to actually getting converts.

However, the “25 languages” part above shows where Wagner’s legacy really lies: in Africa and parts of Asia where an indigenous and heavily-supernaturalistic Charismatic movement really is going from strength to strength.