NAR - New Apostolic Reformation

Chris Rosebrough is interviewed by the Bible Thumping Wingnut crew.

Defense

C. Peter Wagner states:

The NAR is definitely not a cult. Those who affiliate with it believe the Apostles’ Creed and all the standard classic statements of Christian doctrine. It will surprise some to know that the NAR embraces the largest non-Catholic segment of world Christianity. It is also the fastest growing segment, the only segment of Christianity currently growing faster than the world population and faster than Islam. Christianity is booming now in the Global South which includes sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and large parts of Asia. Most of the new churches in the Global South, even including many which belong to denominations, would comfortably fit the NAR template.

About supernatural signs and wonders, Wagner continues:

Supernatural signs and wonders. I have a hard time understanding why some include this in their list of “heresies.” Whenever Jesus sent out His disciples He told them to heal the sick and cast out demons. Why we should expect that He has anything else in mind for us today is puzzling. True, this still pulls some traditionalists out of their comfort zones, but that just goes with the territory. One critic claimed that the NAR has excessive fixation on Satan and demonic spirits. This is purely a judgment call, and it may only mean that we cast out more demons than they do. So what?

Definition and adherents

The term "New Apostolic Reformation" traces its historical roots to late-twentieth-century American charismatic churches, and the earliest use of the moniker was by C. Peter Wagner,[1] which unintentionally prompted journalists to perceive him as spiritual god-father of the movement.[5] The movement itself, previous to the title, started in 1900 in the African Independent Church Movement. Other notable examples of this movement in recent history are the Latin American Grassroots Church Movement and the U.S. Independent Charismatic Movement, both starting in the 1970s.[4]

Growth in the New Apostolic Reformation is driven primarily through small groups and church planting, often completely independent of a parent congregation. The movement is not centrally controlled, and many of its followers will not self-identify as part of it or even recognize the name. All the same, thousands of churches and millions of believers adhere to the teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation. Popular teachers associated with the New Apostolic Reformation include C. Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, and Kim Clement.

The movement has become known for many physical, mental and emotional manifestations of behaviors that place it well outside of mainstream Christian expression. One of the most controversial has been the practice of 'spiritual birthing', a phenomenon whereby women, and at times even men, claim to be having actual contractions of the womb brought on by the anointing of the Holy Spirit, while they retch and moan as though experiencing childbirth.[11] Some critics consider this practice to be demonic. Notable examples have included the Range Christian Fellowship in the conservative Australian city of Toowoomba, where this manifestation is witnessed on an almost weekly basis - full details of which can be found in the Wikipedia article, Pentecostalism in Australia.

Though few organizations publicly espouse connection to the NAR, there are several individuals often associated with this movement including:

Wagner considers 2001 the beginning of the second apostolic age, for the movement holds that the lost offices of prophet and apostle were restored in that year.[7]

C. Peter Wagner has listed the differences between the NAR and traditional Protestantism as follows:[1]

  • Apostolic governance – The Apostle Paul's assertion that Jesus appoints apostles within his church continues to this day.
  • The office of the prophet – There is within the church a role and function for present-day prophets.
  • Dominionism – "When Jesus came, He brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth."[2]
  • Theocracy – Not to be confused with theocratic government but rather the goal to have "kingdom-minded people" in all areas of society. There are seven areas identified specifically: religion, family, education, government, media, arts & entertainment, and business.[1]
  • Extra-biblical revelation – There is available to all believers the ability to hear from God. "The one major rule governing any new revelation from God is that it cannot contradict what has already been written in the Bible. It may supplement it, however."
  • Supernatural signs and wonders – Signs and wonders such as healing, demonic deliverance, and confirmed prophecies accompany the move of God.
  • Relational structures – church governance has no formal structure but rather is by relational and voluntary alignment to apostles.[4]

Common traits

Here are 6 traits, beliefs, and some of the common lingo used by adherents:

1. “APOSTLES” 

We’re in a “Second Apostolic Age.” There are new Apostles are on the earth today, anointed by the laying of hands to represent and speak for God here on Earth. These “Super Apostles” are equal to the original Apostles – the ones who witnessed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and were appointed by Christ Himself to the office. Since these new apostles are commissioned by God, their authority may not be questioned.

2. “KINGDOM”

Rather than preach the Gospel of the cross, Apostolic leaders are working to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth.  They do this by taking dominion of earthly kingdoms or “mountains” of government, media, entertainment, education, business, family, and religion. Leaders often talk of city building and organize prayer walks to pray against demonic strongholds. They often speak of being mission-focused rather than being Christ-centered.

3.  “DESTINY” “PRESENCE” “GLORY”

Though members are not always charismatic, they frequently emphasize a manifestation of “Glory” and “God’s presence,” and often have a special anointing to receive direct revelation from God, perform healings and other signs and wonders. They teach that our purpose is to achieve our dream destiny so that we can change the world.

4.  “REVIVAL”

Revival on a massive scale is key in this movement. There is a strong emphasis on an “end times harvest” through a great awakening that we can usher in.  Often these revivals are held in stadiums and reach millions around the world via live stream technology; they are marketed and produced like rock concerts. All scripture verses about an end times falling away are ignored, and get replaced with hyped-up claims about the Next Big Thing that’s always just around the corner.

5. “UNITY”

Unity (at the expense of biblical doctrine) is almost always used as both the how and the why in this movement.  Unity for the sake of bringing Heaven to Earth is leading to the blurring of doctrinal and denominational lines, often bringing together well-known leaders of charismatic, reformed, Word of Faith, seeker-emergent, progressive and Roman Catholics churches, all under one umbrella.

Finally, NAR churches almost always abandon a major tenant of Christian faith:

6. NAR DENIES THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE.

NAR adherents may believe in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, but God’s breathed-out Word is just not enough for them. Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins is not good enough; the promise of eternal life in Heaven is not good enough.

Influence

Despite its lack of name recognition, the movement’s growth is staggering. The NAR movement is responsible for much of the explosive church growth occurring in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 2 Leaders of many of the world’s biggest churches promote present-day apostles and prophets, including David Yonggi Cho (Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea with one million people),

Though the NAR movement has seen the most growth in the Global South, it has also gained considerable influence in the West. In Australia, the NAR movement has taken over an entire denomination, the Assemblies of God in Australia. In the United States, approximately three million people attend NAR churches — that is, churches that overtly embrace NAR teachings.

Influential NAR churches in the United States include Bethel Church in Redding, California (pastored by apostle Bill Johnson), Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California (pastored by apostle Ché Ahn), and MorningStar Fellowship Church in Charlotte, North Carolina (pastored by apostle/prophet Rick Joyner). In fact, NAR churches can be found across the United States, in virtually every large city and small town.

Content is in summary form and the source hyperlinks are listed.

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