Blogger Joel Watts is also a student of rhetoric. In fact, if I understand him correctly, he is writing a master’s dissertation on rhetoric in the New Testament. Unfortunately he also seems to mastered a form of rhetoric which is not, I think, found in the New Testament, but is a favourite of politicians and other persuaders of less reputable types: the rhetorical use of the false dilemma fallacy. Here is what one writer has to say about this fallacy:
This fallacy typically involves asking a question and providing only two possible answers when there are actually far more. It seems to be a favourite of politicians, especially when trying to win support for a none-too-plausible policy.
This is exactly what Joel is guilty of in his post, in fact just in the title of his post, Is C. Peter Wagner lying or backtracking? Joel presents two statements by Peter Wagner relating to his alleged “dominionism” and asserts that these are contradictory, and therefore Wagner is either deceiving people about his real beliefs or repudiating his older ones.
The problem is that Joel has by no means demonstrated any inconsistency between the statements. What in fact seems to have happened is that Wagner has clarified what he meant by an earlier statement which had been misinterpreted. In 2007 he wrote (as Joel quoted):
our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God’s creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden.
Some people, especially “dominionismists”, have misunderstood the words “whatever is necessary” as suggesting that Wagner was advocating illegal political action or overthrowing the Constitution of the USA. I’m sure nothing like that was ever in his mind. In that same letter he clarified that the intention was “to govern apolitically”, i.e. that the idea was not a political takeover.
But in view of the recent media furore over “dominionism” some further clarification was needed. I have already quoted from a letter Wagner wrote in August (the original link is now broken but the same text appears at this new link) which offers such clarification. Joel’s even more recent quote, from a TV show transcript, takes the same line as the August letter; the key part describes Wagner’s strategy as
In America, it’s democracy and working with the administrative, judicial and legislative branches of the government, the way they are but to have as many kingdom-minded people in influence in each one of these branches of government as possible.
This is absolutely not a contradiction or repudiation of Wagner’s view as expressed in 2007. This is precisely what he always meant by “whatever is necessary”: Christians exerting influence through their normal democratic rights of persuasion and seeking political office.
So, Joel, Peter Wagner is neither lying nor backtracking. He is simply clarifying what he always meant by “whatever is necessary”. You really ought to consider these matters more carefully before using your rhetorical skills to defame the character of your Christian brother Peter Wagner.