The New Apostolic Reformation (hereafter NAR), is a loose collection of non-denominational and independent churches rallying around a particular set of biblical interpretations. The New Apostolic Reformation approaches church leadership and biblical interpretation quite differently from mainstream Protestant and Evangelical denominations. There is are distinct roles and power for its spiritual leaders that is focused upon spiritual warfare and cultural and political infiltration. Unfortunately this has led to some unscriptural applications to faith and spirituality.
The growth in the NAR is driven primarily through small groups and NAR church plants that are often birthed by a parent congregation. The movement has no central control like a pope or bishop, and many of those in the movement do not self identify as of it or even recognize the name of New Apostolic Reformation. Despite this there are thousands of churches and millions of believers embracing the teaching of the NAR. Some of the popular teachers of the NAR include C. Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, Bill Johnson and Kim Clement.
What is the Major Teaching the NAR?
The New Apostolic Reformation teaches that God’s intended form of church governance is apostles and prophets, holding leadership over evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Let it be said that their is and has not been the case of for the vast majority of Church (Christian) history. According to those spearheading the founding of the New Apostolic Reformation, it is believed that God began to restore prophetic office and the office of apostles over the last thirty to forty years. Only now, as the church is properly guided by the appropriate spiritual leaders, can it fulfill its commission. This commission is seen as more than spiritual, as it includes cultural and political control.
In the NAR, the apostle is seen as the highest of the ministerial offices of all spiritual leaders to include pastors. The apostle is one who has been allegedly specially empowered by God. True maturity and unity, per the NAR, is only found in those who are willing to submit to the leadership of their apostles. According to this teaching, as the church unifies following the apostles, these leaders will develop greater and greater supernatural powers. In other words the size of the fellowship empowers the apostle to do greater things. Some of these things include the ability to perform mass healings and suspend the laws of nature and physics. What is the purpose of these signs? These signs and wonders are meant to encourage a massive amount of converts to Christianity. It is also said that the apostle will receive, based upon their power, a great wealth transfer in the end times. This in turn will enable the church to establish God’s Kingdom on Earth.
These new revelations are crucial for the prophet toward overcoming the world and the success of the church depends on the apostles following through on the information the prophet provides. Prophecies are extremely vague and there are modifications to those prophecies since there is no set standard of accountability for the infallibility of those prophecies for themselves.
Why the Need for Prophets and Apostles?
According to New Apostolic thinking, mankind, as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden, lost its dominion over earth. Therefore Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross at Calvary not only resolved our sin debt, but it allegedly empowers us, as Christians, to retake control or dominion of the earth. The NAR sees seven areas where believers are supposedly empowered and expected to dominate: the arts, finances, government, family, education, the media, and religion. Of these seven areas, the NAR sees government as the most important because of its ability to influence all the facets of life.
As a result, the NAR encourages aggressively Christian control over politics, culture, and the business sector. For example in the area of politics, Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin have strong NAR connections. In some ways there is nothing wrong with this when it comes to Christians needing to be involved in government by casting our vote based upon our convictions, and for some even being involved in the political arena. The NAR sees this as an opportunity to take dominion leading to an eventual theocracy.
What the Role of Spiritual Warfare in the NAR?
As you can see, the word “dominion” surfaces over and over again, from the fall of man to the present. The goal for the NAR is dominion over things that God has not given us, but He Himself has dominion over. That being said the NAR is rife with biblical problems.
What Are the Problems With the NAR Biblically?
Biblically speaking the NAR is pregnant with biblical problems. Allow me to give three big problems.
(a.) true apostles must be personal eyewitnesses of the risen Christ (b.) specifically designated as apostles by Jesus (Luke 6:13); and (c.) already verified by miraculous signs (Matthew 10:1; 2 Corinthians 12:2; Acts 5:12).
Second, with regards to new revelation from God, especially those supposed revelations that come in vague form, easily interpreted mysteries run counter to the the idea of a faith delivered once for all to the saints (Jude 1-3). The very fact that the NAR prophecies frequently turn out to be false suggests that a there is a false spirit behind those prophetic predictions (see Deuteronomy 18:22).
Thirdly, this idea of spiritual warfare in the NAR is dangerous and not only unbiblical border lining on a type of Christianized voodoo. Whenever the NAR is trying to name demons and incorporated “spiritual disciplines” along with prayer, it is borderline occultism and should be avoided at all costs.
Lastly, the emphasis on an earthly kingdom contradicts Jesus’ own declaration that the Kingdom of God was spiritual, and not political (John 18:36). It places an unhealthy emphasis on political and worldly approval, rather than a Christlike influence.
Though the NAR might be a movement that seeks to establish itself as a fifth house within Christendom, distinct from Catholicism, Protestantism, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox, it preys largely upon Pentecostals and Charismatic movements.
The use of the word, “new” is actually a reworking of a very common yet very old approach. From the early beginnings of the Christian church, there have been various groups emerging and claiming to have “new revelation” from God that will correct all the errors of the present age. These movement contend that true and real spirituality or maturity or truth can only be found by those who listen to their leadership. This is a tactic of the cults much like groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormon Church, the Way International and even Scientology. Some of these movements have endured while others have faded out of the limelight.
While much of what the New Apostolic Reformation teaches has at least some basis in Scripture, much of what is applied is carried much further than what the Bible intends. That is what still makes their doctrines unbiblical and Christians should outright reject the teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation and disassociate with those who embrace its teachings.
Those of us who are learning more and more of this movement need to be loving and bold enough to bring this movement out and shed the light on its unbiblical teachings with the hopes that friends and loved ones in the faith will return to the faith that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
If you would like to read a great resource on the New Apostolic Reformation, check out the book A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement by R. Douglas Geivett & Holly Pivec