What is New Apostolic Reformation?
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is more akin to a network than an organisation. The New Apostolic Reformation is comprised of a number of individuals who claim to have apostolic authority. They are involved in a reformation supposedly of greater significance than the Great Reformation. It is essentially a renaming and repackaging of the Latter Rain Movement, Manifest Sons of God movement, the Kansas City Prophets and Toronto, Brownsville and Lakeland.i
In 1 Corinthians 4:6-10, Paul wrote about those who had exceeded what was written and who were puffed up in their own sight. Paul even employed sarcasm in stating that the apostles were fools for the Lord and weak, though they by contrast, were wise and strong (1 Cor. 4:10).
It is noteworthy than on 13th September 1949, the AOG rejected Latter Day Rain teachings as unscriptural.iiDuring the mid- 1990s Dr Clifford Hill from Prophecy Todayiii together with other church leaders sounded the alarm concerning the events in Toronto as did Evangelical Times, Dr Tony Sergeant of Worthing Tabernacle and Reachout Trust said there was a mixture of truth and counterfeit.iv
In essence, the NAR concerns a particular movement which exceeds that permitted from Scripture (1 Cor. 4:6-13). Paul had to deal with the Corinthians, some of whom claimed to be hyper-spiritual though in reality they were self-appointed and exceeded what was written. This critique cites individuals from a range of backgrounds within evangelicalism who hold concerns specifically about the New Apostolic Reformation itself.
Who is the New Apostolic Reformation?
Peter Wagner was the chief figurehead and when he passed away in 2016 he passed the baton to Chuck Pierce. Wagner wrote a vast number of books and was formerly a Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He trained leaders to take part in the New Apostolic Reformation which he believes began in 2001.
Other so- called ‘apostles’ include Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Cindy Jacobs, Heidi Baker, Mike Bickle and Rick Joyner. They are a select group of individuals that have a massive influence and following. Because of their popularity many people simply receive their teachings without seriously considering whether what they are saying is biblical. Apparent demonstration of the miraculous is often seen as sufficient evidence of being anointed for their respective ministries.
Where is NAR?
Many of NAR’s leaders are based in the States though they have a worldwide influence. The Dominion, or Seven Mountains Mandate is to be achieved through assimilating, illuminating, demonstrating and propagation in the areas of
This is a pragmatic, anthropocentric mandate and later on we will assess the motivation behind it. Note Wagner was heavily influenced by Robert Schuller. ‘Initiation of new apostolic ministry comes from the bottom up based on a free enterprise model. Robert Schuller’s well-known saying is. “The secret of success is to find a need and fill it”. No church can do everything. What then, shall we do? How do we choose? The new apostolic answer is simple-do whatever works. If the ministry is meeting a need, it will work. If not, it will fail.’vi
Causes for Concern
1 New Modern- Day Apostles and Prophets
The proof text for a restored role of modern- day apostles and prophets in relation to the ‘five- fold ministry is centred around Ephesians 4:11-12. The idea is that for the Church to fulfil its mandate before the Lord returns, there needs to be a new Apostolic and Prophetic office established. The leading proponents believe they are laying the foundations for a global church, governed by a select group of individuals though they place more emphasis on dreams, visions and extra biblical revelation than Scripture.vii
What are the qualifications of an apostle from the Bible?
Note an apostle is someone sent by God to perform a task for Him. Whilst someone used by God could be understood to be sent or appointed by God or even fairly described as an ‘apostle’ to undertake a ministry or task, this doesn’t put them on the same level as an ‘apostle’ in the full meaning in its biblical sense and use of the term described below.
1 They had to have seen the risen Lord (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 9:11; 1 Cor. 15-6-8). Note Paul was the last of the apostles.
2 They had to be chosen by the Lord ( Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13; Acts 1:2; 10:41; Galatians 1:1).
3 They had to be able to perform the signs of an apostle (Acts 2:43; 5:12; 2 Cor. 12:12).viii
It is questionable whether these modern- day super apostles have either been chosen or seen the risen Lord since Paul was the last of those apostles (1 Cor. 15:8). Regarding the ability to perform the signs of an apostle, whilst they make miraculous claims, they do not stand up to the biblical test of a prophet which is clearly set out in Deuteronomy 18:20-22.
Those considering themselves super-apostles today may be accurate some of the time or seem to have an effective healing ministry. One might therefore assume that they are anointed for their ministry since they may appear to have a gifting, though they fail the test Deuteronomy 18:20-22. What they say, needs to be tested alongside Scripture.
2 Dominion Theology
The idea is to recover now the dominion that Adam lost in the Garden of Eden, that the Church needs to become increasingly powerful before the Lord’s return. Their particular means to try to achieve this is by taking dominion over the seven areas mentioned previously. This can prevent people from truly seeking the Lord and ignores numerous biblical passages that speak of times of deception and persecution prior to when Jesus returns.ix
In fact we are warned explicitly about false teachers, prophets and a departure by many from the faith and also the need to contend for it (Matt. 7:21-23; Acts 20:28-31; 2 Cor 11:1-15; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Pet. 2:1-3; Jude 3).
Many are being persuaded to come under the authority of the new apostles and prophets to enable the church to enter its dominion stage. Refusal to comply is seen as a rejection of the ‘five- fold’ ministry of Ephesians 4:11-12.x
3 Overemphasis on signs and miracles, angels and extra biblical revelation
Many from the NAR make exaggerated or spectacular claims about having visitations from angels, visiting heaven, or the Lord Himself and some as if this is something of a regular occurrence. They speak of casual conversations with angelsxi though fail to consider that the usual response to meeting an angel in Scripture was to be afraid.
They speak of visiting heaven though don’t seem bothered by the experience of that Paul who was an apostle. He had the Damascus Road experience and spent three years in Arabia before he went to Jerusalem. When he had a vision of Paradise, he spoke of it with great humility but didn’t provide the details since he considered those things unlawful to utter (2 Cor. 12:1-6).
The New Apostolic Movement has published their own version of the Bible known as the Passion Translation.xii Brian Simmons claims that Jesus visited him in his room and commissioned him to write it.xiii In a bizarre ‘recollection, Simmons claims to have seen John 22 in a library in heaven whilst in a dream though fails to consider the closing statement of John 21:25!xiv
Having examined this ‘translation’ from Bible Gateway, it is noticeably much longer compared with most other translations. It is written in a paraphrase style, more like a record of the ‘translators’ own thoughts. and is not suitable for serious Bible study.
4) New Apostolic Reformation and New Age-‘The Physics of Heaven’
Dr Clifford Hill in Prophecy Today mentioned his concerns about ‘The Physics of Heaven’ which is a book actively promoted by those from the NAR movement. https://prophecytoday.uk/comment/church-issues/item/1351-the-new-apostolic-reformation-an-overview.html.
I examined the website and was able to find substantial amounts of the book on Amazon. Both the content contained on the website and the justification and principle involved for searching ‘uncovered truths’, are astonishingly naïve and open up the door for great deception. Firstly, here is a portion from the website.
‘It wasn’t that I wanted to become a New Ager, I just wanted to find out if maybe they had uncovered some truths the church hadn’t. The strange thing was, much of what I saw and heard embodied biblical principles and could be backed up by Scripture.
Of course, I saw a lot of other things too—things that clearly could be attributed to too many drugs or the demonic realm or the fact that con-artists discovered they could make mega-bucks by becoming New Age gurus. But that didn’t discourage me because I knew that mounds of “manure” usually go with the territory when a lot of money and prestige are at stake (remember, I had been in the ministry and in business for a long, long time).
I was familiar with the principles that “whenever you see a counterfeit, it means a real exists” and that “a lie just proves the existence of a truth,” so I decided to investigate what was going on and bring my scientific background and my faith in Jesus Christ into the mix of my search for truth. I decided to examine New Age thought and practice for anything “precious” that might be “extracted” from the worthless.
At that time, I could not find a single Christian leader who shared a similar interest in finding out if there were truths hidden in the New Age. Now we are beginning to hear more and more revelation that is in line with what New Agers have been saying all along and we are hearing more and more teaching about Christians “taking back truths” from the New Age that really belong to citizens of the Kingdom of God.’xv
The idea of discovering the genuine by searching from the counterfeit to identify the opposite truth is not a biblical way to find the truth. In reality the Lord Jesus is the truth and His Word is truth and He sanctifies us by His truth (John 14:6; 17:7). Searching for the truth by going to the counterfeit first and negotiating one’s way through mounds of manure is the opposite of sanctification.
Furthermore, God has already given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3). There is no need to go on a treasure hunt for the truth by sifting through the manure to find a principle used on enemy territory and do the opposite.
It would be worth considering that some of the techniques used from the New Age Movement are just plainly against what God wants and can’t simply be reapplied into a supposedly biblical framework. It is no surprise that ‘at the time’ the author couldn’t find a Christian leader that took an interest in determining whether there were truths hidden in the New Age.
Three quotes from ‘The Physics of Heaven’
The quotes below demonstrate how authors of ‘The Physics of Heaven’ carried out research on faulty premises. In the first quote, a dictionary, not even a Hebrew lexicon, is used to make a definitive statement about a vision that is questionable from the outset. In the second one apparently ‘modern scientific discoveries’ that have been meshed with ‘ancient sacred writings’ are meant to open up portals to the heavenly realms. In the final quote a presumed ‘apostle’ talks about speaking to an ‘energy angel’ who has come to discuss ‘the energy crisis’!
Some of those writing contributing chapters included Judy Franklin, Ellyn Davis, Bob Jones, Bill Johnson and Beni Johnson. Kris Vallotton wrote the foreword.
‘I immediately found a dictionary and looked up the definition of light. Two of the definitions were energy and power. I looked up the definition of energy: power and light. The meanings of the three words light, energy and power are so interchangeable that they are used to define each other. That meant in my vision the waves of light flowing from God’s being could just as easily be called waves of energy or power because both are essentially the same thing as waves of light. In essence, I saw waves of all three, light, energy and power’. P5 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Heaven-Judy-Franklin/dp/0768407850xvi
‘Modern scientific discoveries have recently joined the voice of ancient sacred writings to pull back the veil of ignorance that once shrouded the power of sound in God’s universe. Today these applied sciences and theologies can be woven together towards the redemptive understanding of souls that heal, deliver, destroy and open up portals in the heavenly realms.’p77 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Heaven-Judy-Franklin/dp/0768407850xvii
‘At the end of that meeting an apostolic leader spoke and said “God is beginning to release Kingdom building codes”. From my experience with construction, I know about building codes so I wondered what this might mean. As soon as the session ended, I looked up to see an angel right in front of me. I’m not an angel type of guy, but suddenly there was an angel speaking to me saying “I’m sent by God to answer your questions about the energy crisis. I am the energy angel.” All I could think was “What on Earth did I have for breakfast?” p89 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Heaven-Judy-Franklin/dp/0768407850 xviii
The New Apostolic Reformation is not warranted by Scripture but actually opposes it. Their claims to the new elevated position of new and super apostleship need to be tested alongside what the Bible teaches. Some of the teaching shares a resemblance with that taught in the New Age Movement.
Dominion theology elevates humans and dishonours God. Again it contradicts sound doctrine by emphasising the role of believers rather than Christ to bring about His return. The extreme emphasis on extraordinary signs, wonders, angelic visitations goes beyond what Scripture permits.
We need to be like the Bereans and search the Scriptures to see and test if what is said agrees with Scripture (Acts 17:11; c.f. 1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1). As our Lord taught in the Olivet Discourse, we need to remain watchful and take heed that no one deceives us (Matt. 24:4).
i The New Apostolic Reformation: A brief History (paragraph 1) https://prophecytoday.uk/comment/church-issues/item/1351-the-new-apostolic-reformation-an-overview.html
ii Bob DeWaay The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation: The Latter Rain Movement:Five fold ministry elitism (end of paragraph 2) https://www.cicministry.org/commentary/issue103.htm
iii The ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ https://prophecytoday.uk/comment/church-issues/item/1351-the-new-apostolic-reformation-an-overview.html
iv David Hilborn A Chronicle of the Toronto Blessing and Other Related Events http://www.banner.org.uk/media/books/A%20chronicle%20of%20the%20TB%20by%20David%20Hilborn.pdf
v Narpostle Wagner explains Dominion Mandate, 7 Mountain Mandate & Great Wealth Transfer https://churchwatchcentral.com/2017/08/31/narpostle-wagner-explains-dominion-mandate-7-mountain-mandate-great-wealth-transfer/
vi C. Peter Wagner Churchquake! How the new apostolic reformation is shaking up the church as we know it (Regal: Ventura, 1999), p217
vii New Apostolic Reformation http://www.apologeticsindex.org/794-new-apostolic-reformation-2
viii John MacArthur The Apostles who don’t do anything https://www.gty.org/library/Print/Blog/B131118
ix The New Apostolic Reformation: 2 Dominionism…(paragraph 4).
x Kingdom Triumphalism http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain12.htm
xi Angels Seth Dahl Bethel Church https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwAg5Hze4fY
xii Holly Pivec Important Facts about the Passion Translation http://www.spiritoferror.org/2018/06/important-facts-about-the-passion-translation/7962
xiii Holly Pivec NAR Leader Brian Simmons reveals a new chapter of the Bible http://www.spiritoferror.org/2016/08/nar-leader-brian-simmons-reveals-a-new-chapter-of-the-bible/6247
xvi P5 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Heaven-Judy-Franklin/dp/0768407850
xviii p89 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Physics-Heaven-Judy-Franklin/dp/0768407850