Evangelist Ed Silvoso claimed on a weekend prayer call that the coronavirus is not of demonic origin, as some of his colleagues have preached, but was sent by God to turn the eyes of the world toward the church. Silvoso is a pioneer of the sort of “spiritual warfare” that some evangelical leaders wage to “transform” cities and nations according with their religious worldview. His remarks came in one of the many prayer calls and other online gatherings taking place in response to the spread of the coronavirus and the dramatic social distancing measures implemented to slow it down.
“The darkness covering the Earth, in my estimation, is not demonic in origin,” Silvoso said. “It’s God dimming the lights in the theater” before shining a spotlight on the church, “so that the eyes of the world will turn toward those that have become the light of the world because they carry Jesus in their heart.”
For example, Silvoso said, he is on the board of a prestigious Christian school that is attended by a significant number of students whose parents are unbelievers. But those students are now being taught online, exposing their working-from-home parents to the Christian content that he said is now being “seeded all over Silicon Valley and beyond.”
Silvoso was joined on his call by a group of prominent preachers, “apostles,” and “prophets” aligned with Silvoso’s “transformation” movement and the New Apostolic Reformation, which sees itself as a movement to transform Christianity and the world. Many of them believe that the world is on the verge of a massive End-Times revival that will see a billion-soul “harvest.”
Silvoso urged people to pray for miracles and for the raising of the dead. And he urged people to begin by praying for and reaching out to their neighbors with act of kindness. “Folks, the church as we knew was the only organization that had a branch in every neighborhood,” he said. But the new church, he said, “will become the only organization that will have an agent in every block.”
Silvoso also spoke about the need for “societal transformation,” saying that “revival is not complete until it heals the land.” He prayed for a spirit of political reconciliation among the nation’s leaders and urged them to work together as “one nation under God.” And he had a warning for politicians that seemed, without naming names, to be aimed squarely at President Donald Trump’s critics:
And I have a word of caution. And I am not a prophet, but as an apostle, sometimes I am led to prophesy. God takes serious offense when there is a major crisis and people manipulate the resources for their personal gain. Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead. King Herod was using his political office to starve a region, and the angel of the Lord judged him. And I say to those in authority, this is not a moment to play politics, this is not a moment to undermine the efforts that may be imperfect, but they are being done in good faith. I say to you in authority, “Repent! And come to the Lord, because your office is granted by the Lord.”
As Right Wing Watch has reported, some dominionists have portrayed the coronavirus as a satanic effort to interfere with stadium rallies and other evangelizing efforts planned this year to spark what many believe is a coming End Times revival.
On Silvoso’s call, Shawn Bolz called the pandemic a “global warfare preemptive attack by the enemy right before God breaks out.” Bolz said God will turn the attack to good, adding that God had told him that he wanted the church to have a greater online presence, something that is being spurred by all the new ways churches are going online in response to social-distancing measures restricting in-person gatherings. Bolz said that God’s “angel armies” are working overtime, and he prophesied that the U.S. economy will soon rebound and become the strongest it has ever been.
Also participating in the call was Bill Johnson, leader of Northern California’s Bethel Church, which has a global reach through its music ministry and School of Supernatural Ministry. Johnson cited Psalm 91, which says that the Lord will save believers from “the deadly pestilence.” Johnson said:
What you have there is you have this picture of the people of God being safe and protected, but then by the time you get to the end of the Psalm, it says that those very people that are safe and protected will trample on the powers of darkness. So, our safety is not for us to hide in a cave somewhere. Our safety is to be out of reach—it’s not out of sight but out of reach—of the enemy so that we then can move in an offensive way, to bring the solutions of God. I just think this is the time for the greatest healing revival that has ever hit the earth.
Kris Vallotton, a co-founder of Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry who has warned people not to invite God’s wrath by interfering with divine plans for Trump’s reelection, called the pandemic “a divine opportunity for us.” Like other participants, Vallotton said that God can bring good from the crisis, adding that Bethel came out of last year’s Carr fire “so much better than we went in.”
“We rise in darkness,” and “you only turn the lights on in dark rooms,” Vallotton said. “You were born for this hour,” he told listeners, adding that “we were created to be more than conquerors, which means that we were created to conquer.”
The call ended with each participant offering a spiritual “decree,” a prayer that some believe the Bible gives them the power to demand of God, not always successfully. Ché Ahn of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry said that the line in the Lord’s Prayer—“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven”—is in the form of an imperative command in Greek. God, he said, “gave us authority to subdue the enemy and take dominion.”
Ahn said Jesus’ miracles were in the form of commands, not requests. “Kings make decrees, and Jesus is the king of kings,” Ahn said. “But we’re also kings. We’re all priests and kings.”
Vallotton described fear as “faith in the wrong god” and delivered this decree:
I want to make a decree against this virus right now. In Jesus’ name, I break the power of this coronavirus. You will not have the crown. Jesus has the crown. He is king of kings. And so, I command this virus to leave, both to leave people’s minds, leave people’s hearts, to leave the Earth, I command this virus to leave right now in Jesus’ name. And I release the word of the Lord against this virus, that you will stop here, that you will no longer go any further, and that the fear of this virus, the fear of this virus that is actually inspiring this virus to grow. Right now, in Jesus’ name, we command the fear of this virus to leave right now.
We pray for the government of God to flow into every nation, that the kingdoms of this world would become the kingdoms of our God, and that the result of your government would be total and complete peace.