As I sat in church that day, I had made my final decision to never return. We watched a “prophet” preach from his vain imagination and speak of vibrations and frequencies. He spoke to the congregation about the evils of religion, and the new prophetic ministry, while referring to God as “source”. I don’t recall one scripture spoke. People applauded and never questioned nothing said. Like sheep to the slaughter…..at the end of service, the leaders all stood up. My pastor who calls himself ‘Apostle’, introduced everyone in a row. “Here we have Apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor, and evangelist; the five- fold ministry”. Their eyes were alive with anticipation. God was doing something NEW. But none of this was new. My past involvement was in the occult and New Age, and it was feeling eerily similar.
“What has been will be again; what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun”.~~Ecclesiastes 1:9
There is a new reformation happening in Christianity, and it is crossing many denominational lines. It is a movement that is trying to dismantle the foundation of Christianity, and building upon it by the continuation of the office of Apostle and Prophet. These positions hold special authority over churches while new revelations are regularly accepted. Some NAR Apostles consider themselves equal or even better than the original twelve. It is a movement replacing the word of God with feelings, and experiences. The emphasis is on signs and wonders, and elevating man. It is a direct contradiction to the word of God. Instead of being “sober- minded”, we have become “drunk in the spirit”. Instead of fear of the Lord, we have “Holy Laughter”. Instead of Bible studies, we have supernatural schools of ministry where we can learn and pay for the gifts of God. Instead of being “ye separate from the world”, we have “redeemed” the occult, slapped a Jesus label on it and said “I can make it my own”. As we move further away from the word of God, we lose our only weapon of warfare.
Many in the NAR camp will argue that the New Apostolic Reformation doesn’t exist and that those opposing the gifts of the spirit made this title up. Many don’t identify themselves with NAR but instead will use titles, such as, five-fold ministry or the prophetic. However, New Apostolic Reformation is a term coined by its own founder, C. Peter Wagner. Wagner was planning on doing a seminary course on it and needed to come up with a name. This movement was meant to reach between interdenominational lines, to bring it under the guise of unity. As he was coming up with a name, first it was going to be “Independent Charismatic”, but decided that not all churches are charismatic. According to Wagner, “The name I have settled on is New Apostolic Reformation. I use “reformation” because as I have said, these new wineskins appear to be at least as radical as those of the protestant reformation almost five hundred years ago” (Transforming Power of Revival, Chapter 14). This is a real name for a movement that has real intentions to reform Christianity. So those that maintain that NAR doesn’t exist, haven’t done their homework.
C. Peter Wagner gave his own explanation for what this New Apostolic Reformation was all about:
There is a new authority structure. “The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. Pastors are merely employees. But the NAR pastors are leaders of the church” (Transforming Power of Revival, chapter 14)
There is new leadership training. The focus is helping people walk in their gifts. However, even scarier is that Bible school is considered “remote”. “Continuing education for leadership takes place in conferences, seminars, and retreats, rather than accredited institutions”(Transforming Power of Revival, chapter 14). The focus of education is being taken away from the Bible and is taking on an entirely new theology of displaying powerful gifts of the spirit. Something seen at many of these NAR conferences is receiving “impartations” of a different spirit, and then taking it back to other churches. It is spreading like a virus.
New Ministry Focus. “New Apostolic ministries are vision driven”. The question is, who’s vision? Usually that vision stems from whatever vision that leadership believes the Holy Spirit has revealed to them.
New worship style. “Worship leaders have replaced music directors, keyboards have replaced organs, casual worship teams have replaced robed choirs. Ten to twelve minutes of singing is now 49 minutes or more” (Transforming Power of Revival, Chapter 14).
New Prayer Forms.
“Prayer in new apostolic churches has taken forms rarely seen in traditional congregations. Some of this takes place within the church and some takes place outside the church” (Transforming Power of Revival Chapter 14).
New Financing. “Generous giving is expected. Tithing is without apology, and those who do not tithe their incomes are subtly encouraged to evaluate their Christian lives as subpar” (Transforming Power of Revival, Chapter 14).
New Outreach. “Aggressively reaching out to the lost and hurting of the community, the world is part of the New Apostolic DNA” (Transforming Power of Revival, Chapter 14).
New power orientation. NAR churches believe in Holy Spirit supernatural power; they believe all gifts are active for today. “It is common place to observe active ministries of healing, demonic deliverance, spiritual warfare, prophecy, falling in the spirit, spiritual mapping, prophetic acts, fervent intercession and so on. More emphasis on the heart than on the mind” (Transforming Power of Revival, Chapter 14).
So as we can see, the New Apostolic Reformation is not a made up title for those who oppose charismatics. The founder of this movement was “Apostle” C. Peter Wagner, and he had an outline on how this face of Christianity was to change, and his vision has been met with success. The NAR is the fastest growing form of Christianity on a global level, but yet it has crept into most churches unaware. It has infiltrated by way of popular worship music (such as Bethel music and Jesus culture), and more exciting ways of doing church. “No more boring church”! That’s the statement I heard from a “prophet” at my own church. “God will not put up with religious spirits”, he would say. If you don’t submit to this new leadership, you will be missing out on a great world revival. These are statements to prevent you from questioning what these new prophets and Apostles have to say.
Churches now have many supernatural schools of ministry where the emphasis is on encountering the Holy Spirit. After I left the NAR church I was alarmed at the many programs in churches that stem from popular Bethel Church, in Redding California. The New Apostolic Reformation is nothing new, but instead has its roots formed from the Latter Rain movement. The Latter rain movement in the 1940’s, taught that God was pouring out a “latter rain”, just like the day of Pentecost before our Lord returns. This movement was centered around revival meetings in Sasketchawan Canada. This movement like the NAR, believes in divine healing, and the restoration of Apostles and Prophets. Assembly of God churches denounced this movement in 1949. When the latter rain began it was called “The last great outpouring that was to consummate God’s plans on this Earth”. A book called “Atomic Power with God”, by Franklin Hall influenced many involved in the Latter Rain. Franklin Hall taught on revival doctrine centered on fasting, and subduing the Earth, as well a “body felt salvation”. Franklin Hall promoted a baptism where one could be free from sin and sickness called the “Holy Ghost fire”. In this body felt salvation, he claimed that it was 700% greater than ordinary healing power”. His teachings taught that this great baptism would “heal them from all sickness, tiredness and even body odor”. It also promised that one could achieve immortality.
The New Apostolic Reformation differs from the latter rain movement only by name, but it’s doctrines are the same. The latter rain movement was steeped in elitism, and it was believed this outpouring would even be greater than the book of Acts. A man named Bill Hamon wrote a book, called “Apostles, Prophets, and the Coming Moves of God”. Bill Hamon became involved with Wagner and brought the latter rain doctrine into the New Apostolic Reformation from it’s very beginning, and C. Peter Wagner wrote the foreward to his book. Bill Hamon taught on the Manifest Sons of God doctrine. According to Bill Hamon, “The manifest sons of God doctrine teaches that these sons will be equal to Jesus Christ: immortal, sinless, perfected sons who have partaken of the divine nature. They have every right to be called gods and will be gods”(Prophets and the prophetic movement). Bill Hamon taught that the sons of God will be subduing the Earth in order for Christ to reappear. “Widespread spiritual warfare will result with the sons of God doing battle with Satan, the non-Christian nations of this world will be defeated. Once the Earth is subdued, Jesus will come back to Earth”(Prophets and the prophetic movement). Bill Hamon rejects the rapture, and the manifest sons of God doctrine is the birthing place for Kingdom Now or Dominion Theology. Dominionism is a doctrine of the New Apostolic Reformation. We will discuss Dominion theology further down.
C. Peter Wagner was a visionary on how the church was to change. What exactly does that look like? Leadership is completely changing. Those in the church are rising to leadership, not by training at an accredited Bible college but are now being trained in conferences by receiving an “anointing”. There they can just grab and get whatever gift they want “imparted” to them.
The authority structure is changing. Instead of an organization or governing church body, we have sometimes a single Apostle as overseer of the church with no accountability for anything, including finances. Because they are viewed as anointed by God, they are never questioned, and many will follow their leading, not wanting to miss out on a great move of God.
Ministry focus is shifting. It’s no longer about the gospel of Jesus Christ, but about the gospel of the “kingdom”. It is about bringing heaven to Earth, but less focus on the eternity of one’s soul. NAR churches are constantly seeking “revival”, signs and wonders, while also seeking the “presence” of God. Biblical Christianity is about faith, not chasing signs and manifestations of God. “Only an evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign”(Matthew 16:4). The gospel of the “kingdom” is related to kingdom Now theology, and is setting up God’s kingdom here on Earth, while forgetting that Jesus said: “My kingdom is not from this world”.
A new worship style has emerged, and it is turning it into a form of idolatry. The music is breathtaking and seductive. The songs played are filled with repetitive words, and often are wrong theologically. Popular music such as Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, and Hillsong have become favorites to play at many churches, while opening the doors wide open to their church programs, and doctrines. We now worship to “shift atmospheres”. Somehow our worship can open “portals” to heaven. Why are we constantly seeking to feel God’s presence? Does the Holy spirit not live inside of us? Psalm 139:7 teaches us “Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?”
New prayer forms have taken over. Jesus taught us how to pray;
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 1your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:7-13). Instead focus on prayer forms that are straight out of new age practices. We no longer pray for God’s will, but command things, as if we are little god’s. The focus is not on simple prayer, but contemplative forms such as “soaking”, circle prayers, and even labyrinth prayers. These all have more in common with witchcraft than they do with Christianity.
Then we have a new outreach coupled with a new power orientation. There is a huge emphasis on going outside the doors of the church, which is good, but the gospel isn’t being preached, and instead we focus on giving people an “encounter”. Evangelism consists of finding people to pray for healing, and giving them displays of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says faith comes by hearing; are these people hearing the gospel while being evangelized? Or are they merely just having a supernatural encounter of some sort? The NAR conferences such as, the Awakening in Australia, speak to the droves of people coming there to get saved through a power encounter. Just the title alone sounds New Age. What exactly are they awakening? The NAR has seen explosive growth, and has almost taken over places like Africa, South America, Asia, and Australia. Are we truly making disciples or mass false converts? NAR also places an emphasis on strategic level spiritual warfare, and inner healing that adds to Christ’s finished work on the cross. Instead of faith in Jesus to set us free, we now have Christians who are being put into bondage by deliverance ministries, and seeking healing through SOZO. SOZO is an inner healing ministry that has it’s roots in theosophy, and puts people in a hypnotic- like state, even recovering false memories that have torn apart families.
The New Apostolic Reformation is real and it is rising. The way of truth is being blasphemed. The face of Christianity is changing, and it’s going undetected. The church is changing in major ways, as more New Age practices infiltrate, and Biblical understanding is becoming less important. NAR has infected most churches with a very dangerous doctrine known as Dominionism or Kingdom Now theology. The end times church isn’t looking up for the blessed return of our savior; instead the church is busy planning to take over the world, and it’s seven spheres of influence. The seven spheres of influence is something known as the Seven Mountain Mandate. The seven mountains are education, religion, family, business, government/military, arts/entertainment, and media. While this sounds great to just “Christianize” everything, it is also militant and forceful. God does not command world takeover, he commands making disciples and spreading the true gospel.
So here we have a movement taking over churches, disregarding the importance of scripture, syncretizing the occult with Christianity, and preparing for world domination. What about those who won’t conform? What about those who are Christians who do not accept these new wineskins, but choose to trust scripture over man? Well, they will have to be removed, and the Earth cleansed by these new manifest sons of God. Jesus won’t return until his kingdom has been set up on Earth by mere man. It is up to Kingdom Now adherents to usher in Christ’s return. So let’s recap. We have the occult entering the church, coupled with Biblical illiteracy, and we are going to usher in Christ’s return, while cleansing the Earth of those that get in the way, all while welcoming the return of “Christ”. This is close to New Age spirituality, which is also calling for a shift in humanity to become co-redeemers of the Earth, and those who do not evolve will have to somehow disappear.
Rick Joyner from Morningstar Ministries teaches on Dominionist agenda known as “Joel’s army”. Joel’s army sees itself as an end times army that will perform miracles, take dominion of Earth and execute judgement. Joyner speaks of a vision of a coming civil war between Christians. Joyner states, “What is about to come to Earth is not just revival, or another awakening; it is a veritable revolution. This vision was given in order to begin awakening those who are destined to radically change the course and even the very definition of Christianity”. Rick Joyner speaks of destroying those passive Christians who refuse to unite with them. The new order of the Dominionists will take over.
“This army of which Joel speaks is about to be revealed…they will take cities. They will burst through the enemy’s strongholds and take houses. The very heaven and Earth will be shaken because of this great army…..the time has come”. ~ Rick Joyner
This new breed of Christianity does not exist in our Holy scriptures and is leading people into total apostasy. Jesus’s true disciples keep his word, going throughout the world to make disciples, not take over the world by force. The Kingdom Now crowd actually believes they have the right to call down judgments from heaven. There is only one judge and all power has been given to him……..JESUS!! All of this is a lie from the ruler of this world. The same lie echoes….”if you would just bow down and worship me….I will give you all the kingdoms of the Earth”! But the King has already spoken….”MY KINGDOM IS NOT FROM THIS WORLD”!
The New apostolic reformation seeks to restore the office of Apostle and Prophet, although it is so much more. True Biblical Apostles were uniquely appointed as eyewitnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus chose each one individually and personally. Seeing the resurrected Christ was a requirement for being an Apostle, and Paul understood this. “Then he appeared to James, and then to the Apostles. And last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born” (Corinthians 15:6-8). Here Paul seems to refer to himself as the last Apostle commissioned by Jesus. NAR proponents like to use Ephesians 4…..”And He himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers”…..However, if we look at Ephesians 2, that five- fold office for today diminishes because Apostles and Prophets are listed as the very foundation of the building up of the church. “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together grows into a temple in the Lord”. Jesus as well as the Apostles and Prophets are joined together as the very foundation of Christianity.
The New Apostolic Reformation is trying to lay another foundation other than Christ Jesus. The foundation has already been laid. “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). Whatever man tries to build upon this foundation will be tested. But adding something new to it’s very foundation is something other than true Christianity, and it is evil at it’s core. Jesus warned about deception more than anything mentioned regarding the end times. It is more important than ever before to know our Bibles. NAR is a virus infecting far and wide. Keep your eyes open for popular keywords, such as, Apostles, Prophets, destiny, the presence, the glory, revival, unity, awakening, five- fold ministry, portals, visionary, generals, firestarter, influence, Dominion, kingdom now, architect, spiritual mapping, strategic level warfare, spirit of religion or Jezebel, leviathan, Ahab…..insert spirit here.
I have just barely scratched the surface of what this diabolical movement entails. As someone who used to be involved in the occult and new age, then attending an NAR church, I am well aware of the absolute deception, and heartache involved. Many coming out of these movements either go completely new age, or walk away from their faith forever. God has left us his word, and it is up to us to search for truth, and compare anything new to what scripture says. I have started a new Facebook group for believers that have been involved in a NAR church, and would love to discuss with you. Come join us at the Narrow Path group on Facebook.
Tabachnik, R. (2011, September 09). C. Peter Wagner’s Response to Increased Exposure of the New Apostolic Reformation. Retrieved from http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/9/9/133916/9724
Geivett, R. D., & Pivec, H. (2014). A New Apostolic Reformation?: A biblical response to a worldwide movement. WOOSTER, OHIO: WEAVER Book Company.
Wagner, C. P. (2004). Churchquake. Taipei, Taiwan: Phillily Publisher.
Deway, B. (2017, December). The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation. Retrieved from http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue103.htm
Hamon, B. (1997). Apostles prophets and the coming moves of God: Gods end-time plans for His church and planet Earth. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.
The New Apostolic Reformation: Influence and Teachings. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.apologeticsindex.org/
Rivalland, N. (n.d.). The Doctrine of deification. Retrieved from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/deification.html