Taking Aim at Religion Itself, Apostles Prime Networks For Real-World Violence

T-shirt for sale by Apostle Greg Hood. Image: greghood.org

It is more than paradoxical that an ostensibly Christian university leader would say, “We are here to put a knife to the throat of religion.” But that’s what Apostle Greg Hood, the founder of Kingdom University in Franklin, Tennessee believes so heartily he emblazoned it on a KU t-shirt.

This is not a hoax. In fact, the bloody tee epitomizes the paradoxes of the New Apostolic Reformation—a movement that says it means to bust out of the “demonic prison” of  religion, knives out. Religion is, of course, one of the seven mountains of culture that NAR seeks to conquer to achieve Christian dominion (the other six being government, family, education, business, media, and arts & entertainment). The rhetoric they employ when discussing how to do it can be violent, if not always t-shirt worthy. But understanding the paradox of religion killing religion helps us understand this campaign for a paradigmatic change in the direction of American and world Christianity.

There’s a certain tension in the NAR, between the metaphorical and the physical; the hyperbolic and the actual. But most often, these are not mutually exclusive. 

They are unambiguous about seeking to remove “demonic obstacles” to the re-emergence of what, in their view, is the church as intended by Jesus. They call this first century-style church “the Ekklesia”—which is Greek for church. The demonic infrastructure impeding God’s intentions for the Ekklesia includes religious institutions; church offices and leaders; denominations; and, not only denominational doctrines, but even traditional prayers. (And, of course, everyone who doesn’t share their religious and political views.)

“Religion when pure is very powerful,” writes Apostle Chuck Pierce in his introduction to the late C. Peter Wagner’s 2005 book, Freedom from the Religious Spirit: Understanding How Deceptive Religious Forces Try to Destroy God’s Plan and Purpose for His Church. “However,” he adds, “religion is also defined as an organized system of doctrine with an approved pattern of behavior.”

Pierce, who’s on the faculty of Kingdom University (the new apostolic school that features the bloody t-shirt) continues, “Demons of doctrine rob individuals of their freedom to worship a holy God in purity.” And they do this, he says, “by instituting rules and regulations for their worship.” 

Pierce, like other apostolic leaders, says he communicates directly with God and issues prophecies on God’s behalf. “I have always had to maneuver past spirits of religion that would resist this gift of God,” he complains. “Demons hate revelation from God. They resist those gifts… that bring revelatory freedom… They attempt to stone the revelation of apostles and prophets because this revealed word establishes God’s foundation in the Church for this age.”

These prominent apostles aren’t merely talking about ossified institutions, feckless leaders, stale ideas, empty rituals, or guardians of the status quo in various Christian denominations. And while the theological details can be fluid to say the least, they all involve some version of the Ekklesia taking political power or leading an End Times army (or both) along with a heavenly host of angels. 

There is no Plan B

Nevertheless, it was probably all but inevitable that these revolutionaries would themselves seek to institutionalize. In fact, KU isn’t the first to do so. Other movement-affiliated schools to follow this path include Wagner University (named for founder C. Peter Wagner) and Apostle Bill Johnson’s Bethel School for Supernatural Ministry, both in California; Charis Bible College in Colorado (see RD coverage here and here); and Apostle Randy Clark’s ministry in Pennsylvania, which has long sponsored several institutions of higher learning, including the Global Awakening Theological Seminary

But the trend is epitomized by KU whose program claims to feature weekend classes held mostly via streaming video, on about 20 “campuses” at apostolic centers in 10 states and four countries. US campuses include Tony Kemp Ministries in Quincy, Illinois; Freedom & Fire Church in Winslow, Indiana, and King’s Gate Worship Center in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The movement that so often casts traditional forms of seminary and higher education as demonic is, paradoxically, creating its own system of higher education, religious training, and credentialing. 

That may be why Apostle Dutch Sheets in a recently removed video seeks to assure prospective students that KU is no traditional seminary: 

“It’s not so much about theology and training in a Bible school setting, it’s more of the instruction—hands on, live, what is God saying to the Church today? And how do we prepare ourselves for what he is about to do?”

Dutch Sheets models a KU tee.

For two decades Sheets and Pierce have led the development of the politics of the Ekklesia in each state. Their success may be measured in part by the supernaturally-charged politics of the NAR that’s powered many recent electoral campaigns, most prominently those of Donald Trump, but also the 2022 GOP gubernatorial candidacies of state Sen. Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania and State Sen. Brian Dahle in California. 

“When we are born again,” says Sheets, in a 2021 “Daily Prayer with Dutch” video, “we are no longer simply humans… we are a new race of supernatural beings called Christians.” NAR is about the organization of this supernatural race into the Ekklesia, whose purpose he says is “managing and governing the earth.” 

In fairness, Sheets also tells viewers: “obviously we are not to expand the Christian faith or God’s rule by physical force or domination, as some religions do. We are to invade, quote-unquote, our culture, workplace, city, nation, etcetera, with the spiritual might of God’s kingdom.”

But Sheets’ vision is not always so restrained. He often suggests that the final battle to bring in the Kingdom is either already underway or about to break out—and that the Ekklesia will be in it to win it. For example, in a June 2022 “Daily Prayer” video titled “Taking territory for Christ,” Sheets explains that what Jesus wants, “[he] will do through us. We are Plan A. And there is no Plan B.” He ticks off words from scripture that, he says, apply to Plan A: fight, warfare, endurance, victory, overcomer, conqueror, power, and authority

Trampled under the feet of the Ekklesia

At a June 2023 conference led by Apostle Tim Sheets (brother of Dutch), which took place at the Oasis Church in Ohio, Hood announced that he’d had a dream in which God said to “Deploy the Ekklesia.” 

In a conference recording Hood makes the ahistorical claim that pastors led the American Revolution against “the Crown that was oppressing the nation.” He then claims: 

“I believe we are in that day again. I believe we are in a day in which God is raising up… apostolic leaders that are leading an apostolic company into a new kind of revolution for this nation.”

He goes on to float a conspiracy theory about how the criminal indictments against Donald Trump are “not about things that he’s done wrong,” but the result of an unnamed “they” who are trying to keep him out of the presidential race. Hood then claims (this was prior to Trump’s January 6 indictment), that “they” want to convict him of “treason” and “execute him to make a point to anybody else that comes up and stands in their way.” It should be noted that, while it may be the most accurate word to describe his actions, Trump was not charged with treason, and death is not a punishment for the crimes for which he stands accused.

Some NAR apostles and prophets, including Hood and the brothers Sheets, say that God speaks to them through dreams. In Hood’s dream, he says, he was with several apostles in a “command center” at the Oasis Church. The date was January 7, 2020, suggesting that what was occurring was a continuation of what got started on the 6th. Hood describes seeing keys like what the president of the United States would need to unlock the nuclear football. “The church” he says, “is getting ready to release a powerful force… that the enemy will not be able to withstand.”

“We’re not dealing here with politics… or bad presidents,” he declares. “We’re dealing with demonic strongholds that are controlling people, that are using people to keep their agenda.”

Switching back to his dream in the “command center,” Hood recounts:  

“[Apostle Jane Hamon, daughter-in-law of Bill Hamon] was releasing armed drones towards Washington DC. Each of these drones had targets they were locked on and I knew that most of the targets were political targets, unrighteous rulers, people that had partnered with the Enemy and his agenda; people within the system that had compromised and that so had sold America out; these were being eliminated, removed from their offices and their voices were rendered helpless.”

He nevertheless claims “we’re not attacking people”—even as he employs military metaphors and scenarios in which people would inevitably be killed in real life, including by nuclear weapons and drone strikes.

“Wicked things… are happening in our nation,” he says, because “wicked people are ruling at the moment.”  

Advertisement for Lance Wallnau’s Kingdom U. class.

Back in the dream, Dutch Sheets was wearing a general’s uniform with the name “Dutch Patton”—which Hood took to mean General George Patton, who during WWII famously carried an ivory-handled Colt .45 engraved with his initials, GSP. Hood incorrectly claims it was pearl handled and engraved with “Isaiah 45”like the one carried by General Dutch in the dream. (Isaiah 45 introduces the story of the Persian King Cyrus, who Apostle Lance Wallnau famously linked to Donald Trump as part of an effort to justify his candidacy to evangelical Christians.)

Hood goes on to say that the Ekklesia is about to go out on the “battlefield” to “reclaim geography that belongs to God… to take back those nations that have been under the tutelage and oppression of demonic forces.” 

At the end of the dream, “number 45” (he never refers to Trump by name) comes to the command center and gives a “medal of freedom” to Sheets“knowing of what had been done, that what had been accomplished was from the efforts of both.” 

This is interesting in light of the actual role of the Sheets brothers in facilitating the events of January 6th.

Hood offers a slick mix of historical revisionism and biblical and dream interpretation to envision the role of the Ekklesia. He casts apostles as they appeared in his dream as central figures in history; and the members of the church as heroic martyrs in the conflict to come. He urges them not to fear death when they stand on the ramparts where God has assigned them. “Only you will behold and see the reward of the wicked. The reward of the wicked is slaughter. It is being trampled under the feet of the Ekklesia.” 

The Ekklesia, of course, is to ascend and conquer the 7 mountains of culture. One who epitomizes what’s possible is Tom Parker the elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who grabbed headlines with his theocratic concurring opinion in a case where the court ruled that frozen embryos are people. Parker has been involved with NAR for years, and will no doubt serve as a role model for future generations.

I believe that children are our future

Even as top apostles prime the pump for possible real-world violence, and encourage the Ekklesia to envision themselves as an End Times army, they are, paradoxically, also planning for the future governance of society. While it’s not uncommon for churches to sponsor Christian schools, at least one apostolic center, Impact Church International in Concord, North Carolina, not only hosts a KU campus, but also the K4-12 Daniel Christian Academy, which is explicitly devoted to teaching about the seven mountains of dominion.

From the website of the Daniel Christian Academy.

Apostle and Pastor Donna Wise of Impact Church International claims in a 2022 post that too often the church, broadly speaking, is “concerned more with numbers and dollars rather than a powerful ‘Ekklesia’ whose purpose is to bring the will and rule of God into our nation.” The result, she says, is a “culture of darkness filling our religious assemblies, governments and schools.” 

Taking churches to church is de rigueur among some NAR leaders. 

Indeed, Apostle Jim Garlow brought a similar message to City Elders, a NAR political project, in September 2023. What’s actually important, he says, in a video of his speech, isn’t how many people attend Sunday services, but “how many are deployed into action—who are actually threats to the enemy of God.” 

A more explicit example of the bloody t-shirt’s meaning would be difficult to find.