Is My Church Under the Influence of the New Apostolic Reformation?
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Deviant teachings are quick to permeate sound doctrine. Without an acute awareness of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), its teachings are difficult to identify. Furthermore, church leaders often refuse to acknowledge their ties to the NAR. In some cases, they might not be aware of them; they may simply be attracted to some elements of the NAR’s teachings, without realizing that the pieces belong to a whole and fits in a well-defined plan.
NAR theology can infiltrate a church in different ways, for example through books that the church read together or studied in small groups, or through guest speakers who align with the doctrine.
How then can you find out if your church is under the influence of the NAR?
The NAR uses specific signs and terminology, so let’s dive into them. It is important to mention that a particular church may display all of the criteria, or only a few in the first stages.
Frequent mentions are made of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is of course a biblical truth. However, the NAR’s interpretation of it is very different from the ordinary meaning.
According to the NAR, Christians must conquer the “seven mountains.” The Kingdom is right here, right now, whence Kingdom Now. When Christians will have conquered the world, Christ will finally come back to be crowned. Other phrases are “heaven on earth” and “heaven that invades the earth.” There is no talk of apocalypse; rather, people look forward to a great harvest through which a billion people will surrender to Christ. The bottom line is that Christians will conquer before Christ comes again. All biblical prophecies, including many instances of Jesus’ speaking about the end times, disappear.
Your Calling or Destiny
People are told to “enter into their destiny.” To do so, they are usually recommended to take classes, read books, or participate in a Sozo (article to come) session that will free you from what is preventing you from entering into your destiny. Most trainings, including books and Sozo sessions, come at a cost and lead people to spend less time in the Word of God. The Bible tends to be absent from church services. Teachings no longer come from the Bible; the focus is on entertaining the audience with other sources.
Me, Me, Me
Flattery is everywhere. People are told that they are children of God and thus have the same genetics or DNA as God. People are gods with a small “g” and God is God with a big “G.”
People go on and on about all the blessings that God wants to give his children, promising that God has not just spiritual blessings but also – and most importantly – material blessings in store for them. It is regularly heard that God wants people to have “abundant life.”
With this comes the reminder that in order to receive, one must also give, and that one must bless to be blessed. This comes with repeated calls for donations.
People’s eyes are on themselves and on what they can receive from God — as long as they generously give to the church.
Members are encouraged to go from a conference to a worship night to a special service to a school of supernatural ministry, so that they would progress and reach the next spiritual level. Again, everything revolves around me.
His Presence and the Atmosphere
NAR churches emphasize the importance of creating an atmosphere where God’s presence can be “experienced.” For example, worship leaders receive specific guidance about what songs to sing and in what order, and about how to help people “enter his presence.” In reality, this mostly involves a masterful use of music with many repetitions to allow participants to reach a state where emotions take control. Worship therefore no longer aims to worship God, but to bring about the supernatural and the presence of the Lord. The worship leader and band are in charge of welcoming the presence of God. Of course, some bands are more able to do so and receive more admiration and credit.
This practice amounts to saying that God’s presence is controlled by humans.
Jesus tells us,
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20
and not, “if you worship me well, I might join in.”
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is all the rage; more precisely, manifestations of the Spirit are central.
The necessity of Christ’s death on the cross is no longer mentioned, because it reminds Christians that Christ had to give his life on the cross as a result of their utter sinfulness. However, in those churches, sin is taboo.
The only thing that matters is to seek the power of the Holy Spirit.
Interestingly, even though the Bible clearly says that the gifts of the Spirit are given freely and apportioned as he wills (1 Corinthians 12:4-11), NAR churches and organizations set up (expensive) classes and schools that teach church members how to prophecy and heal.
According to the Bible, Christ ought to be at the center. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us, guides us, and is our advocate with the Father.
This teaching is thus out of balance.
Signs and Miracles
A strong emphasis is placed on signs and healings, even though medical proofs are rare or nonexistent.
Take the example of Lakeland, an interesting one as it received the blessing of an important NAR group. As a reminder, Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson was not only part of that group, but was also one of Todd Bentley’s three sponsors or witnesses during the ceremony.
Many healings and even resurrections were announced. Investigations, including that of Charisma Mag (which is an important proponent of the NAR), have found no proofs to back up the allegations (see the article about Lakeland).
The prophecies about Todd Bentley and his family turned out to be false, even though the “elite” of NAR prophets was present.
Nevertheless, the NAR heavily relies on signs and miracles to give credibility to its message.
Apostles and Prophets
Apostles and prophets are introduced; they are an elite that trumps the significance of other ministries (see this article). The church council or the pastor receives “apostolic covering” from those apostles and prophets. In short, there is a made-made hierarchical structure between you and God. An oft-cited verse to justify it is Ephesians 4:11-12a:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry . . .
To reinforce the credibility of the apostles and prophets, the latter speak of their encounters with Jesus and of their visions.
Casting doubt onto their word is forbidden; they are anointed by God. If you were to notice unbiblical or heretical statements, you will be warned not to “touch God’s anointed ones.”
People are thus expected to quietly obey all that they are taught without raising concerns, even if what they hear is in opposition to what the Bible teaches; if they don’t, they risk seeing God leave them.
Speakers and Recommended Readings
Another telling sign comes in the form of new content and people: broadly-advertised conferences, certain guest speakers at church, and recommended books.
Here are the most prominent voices in the movement who are evidently linked to the NAR or preach similar theology:
- C. Peter Wagner† • Global Harvest Ministries (London, ON, Canada)
- Bill and Beni Johnson • Bethel Church (Redding, CA)
- Kris Vallotton • Bethel Church (Redding, CA)
- Danny Silk • Bethel Church (Redding, CA)
- Paul Manwaring • Bethel Church (Redding, CA)
- Rick Joyner • MorningStar Ministries (Fort Mills, SC)
- Chuck Pierce • Glory of Zion International Ministries (Corinth, TX)
- Mike Bickle • International House of Prayer IHOP-KC (Kansas City, MO)
- Lou Engle • TheCall (Colorado Springs, CO)
- Heidi Baker • Iris Global (Redding, CA)
- Todd White • Lifestyle Christianity (Hurst, TX)
- Ben Fitzgerald • GODFest Ministries, Awakening Europe (Germany)
- Todd Bentley • Fresh Fire USA (Pineville, NC)
- Mike and Kay Chance • Arise Ministries (Germany)
- Ché Ahn • Harvest International Ministry, HRock Church (Pasadena, CA)
- Cindy Jacobs • Generals International (Red Oak, TX)
This list is non-exhaustive.
My Church is Under the Influence of the NAR. What Should I Do?
Some churches have all the elements mentioned above, while others are in the early stages and display only a few. It may be just the beginning. What is certain is that even if the pastor or the church council deny it (with or without full knowledge of the facts), the NAR has a detailed plan. They try to rally as many churches as possible from all denominations. The next step is to spread their theology.
So what should one do if the local church shows signs of NAR influence?
There is no clear-cut answer. We invite you to pray first; in some situations, it may be possible to speak with the pastor or the elders. In other cases, quitting may be the only option, followed by finding a church with sound teachings from the Bible. It is possible that you will face rejection when raising questions about your church’s practices. This may be extremely difficult to go through, yet we encourage you to do what you know to be right.
This website features testimonies of people who left such churches.
For more information about Kingdom Now, see our article about Dominionism.
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