Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

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I keep seeing you and other discerning Christians mentioning the “NAR” or “New Apostolic Reformation.” Is that some sort of new church denomination? Is it bad? What is it, and what do they believe?

This is one of those questions that others have answered so much better than I could ever hope to, so I’m going to give a brief synopsis and then urge you to study the articles and videos in the “Additional Resources” section.

Yes, the NAR is bad. Extremely bad. In my opinion, it is the worst form of false doctrine in the United States today because so many people think it is biblical Christianity and unknowingly import it into reasonably doctrinally sound churches. I mean, I’ve never heard of Anytown Baptist Church teaching (as Christianity) that Mohammed was a prophet or that God lives next door to the planet Kolob, but you’ll certainly see NAR beliefs and practices like dominionism, unbiblical manifestations of the “Holy Spirit” and NAR prayer practices gradually creeping into many average evangelical churches.

The NAR is not a denomination in the way we would typically think of, say, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), etc. There’s no headquarters building, no national president or leadership structure, no official creed or statement of beliefs, no membership criteria for admitting or dismissing churches. It’s more of a movement or a “denomination by imitation.” Pastors and/or church members of non-NAR churches generally discover an NAR church, book, or personality, decide they like what they see, and begin importing NAR beliefs and practices into their own church.

What are those beliefs and practices? Since there’s no official NAR creed or statement of faith, beliefs and practices can vary from church to church, but, loosely speaking, what it looks like externally is that the NAR takes the Word of Faith (prosperity gospel) heresy and kicks it up a notch with outlandish “supernatural” manifestations, blasphemously attributed to the Holy Spirit, such as: holy laughterstrange “anointings,” glory clouds of gold dust, tremoring, false prophecy, grave sucking, raising the dead, trips to Heaven, and being “drunk in the Spirit.”

The NAR is also largely responsible for many of the corrupt teachings on prayer that have become popular in recent years, such as: contemplative/centering prayer (which we see creeping into churches through the teachings of Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lysa TerKeurst, Christine Caine, and others), lectio divina, Sozo prayer, healing rooms, and soaking prayer, as well as the false teaching of dominionism and the restoration of the church offices of apostle and prophet.

A Few NAR Organizations and Personalities
Bethel Church (Redding, CA.) led by Bill Johnson
Bethel Music (a music performance/production company of Bethel Church)
Jesus Culture (an arm of Bethel) led by Kim Walker Smith
International House of Prayer (Kansas City, MO) led by Mike Bickel

(You could sort of call these entities “Ground Zero” for the NAR. Much of what is believed and practiced in NAR churches trickles down in some form from these organizations.)

Todd White
Kenneth Hagin
Dutch Sheets
Ken and Gloria Copeland
Todd Bentley
Patricia King
Wendy Alec (GodTV)
Jennifer LeClaire (Charisma Magazine)
Beni Johnson
Cindy Jacobs
Rick Joyner
Amanda Wells
Rod Parsley
Jen Johnson
Kris Valloton
Heidi Baker

Two of the main ways NAR false doctrine begins infiltrating otherwise healthy churches is through the music ministry and the women’s ministry. Many churches use Jesus Culture music, Bethel music (or other music by NAR musicians) in their worship services, which can introduce church members to the band, and, subsequently, to their false doctrine. Examine the materials your women’s ministry is using and the conferences they’re attending. It’s likely that the authors and teachers your women’s ministry follows are either proponents of NAR false doctrine, partnering with proponents of NAR false doctrine, or at least being influenced by proponents of NAR false doctrine.

The New Apostolic Reformation is heresy and has no place in a Christian church in any way, shape, or form. Stay far away from it.


Additional Resources:

New Apostolic Reformation by Apologetics Index

New Apostolic Reformation by Berean Research

Truth & Transformation (video series) with Costi Hinn and Justin Peters

Clouds Without Water by Justin Peters

False Spirits Invade the Church: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3  A Documentary by Andrew Strom

The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church by Berean Examiner

The New Apostolic Reformation Cornucopia of False Doctrine, Dominionism, Charismania and Deception  by Messed Up Church

Drunk in the Spirit by Todd Friel

Popular False Teachers see links for “International House of Prayer (IHOP)” and “Jesus Culture/Bethel Music/Bethel Church (Redding, CA)/Bill Johnson”

God’s Not Like “Whatever, Dude,” About The Way He’s Approached in Worship

The Mailbag: Should Christians Listen to Reckless Love?

What is the International House of Prayer? (IHOP) by Got Questions

The Dangers of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) by CARM

Love and Death in the International House of Prayer by Rolling Stone

Leaving the NAR Church testimony series by Amy Spreeman


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Discernment, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against false teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.

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Volume 2, Volume 3

I get lots of questions about particular authors, pastors, and Bible teachers, and whether or not I recommend them. Some of the best known can be found above at my Popular False Teachers tab. Below are some others I’ve been asked about recently, so I’ve done a quick check (this is brief research, not exhaustive) on each of them.

Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, or author, he or she has to meet three criteria:

a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).

b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.

c) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.

I am not very familiar with the women listed below and have not had the opportunity to examine their writings or hear them speak, so most of the “quick checking” I did involved items a and b (although in order to partner with false teachers (b) it is reasonable to assume their doctrine is acceptable to the false teacher and that they are not teaching anything that would conflict with the false teacher’s doctrine). On a few of these, I have also enlisted the help of theologically sound friends who are more familiar with these women than I am.

Just to be clear, “not recommended” is a spectrum. On one end of this spectrum are people like Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Kay Arthur. These are people I would not label as false teachers because their doctrine is generally sound, but because of some red flags I’m seeing with them, you won’t find me proactively endorsing them or suggesting them as a good resource, either. There are better people you could be listening to. On the other end of the spectrum are people like Joyce Meyer and Rachel Held Evans- complete heretics whose teachings, if believed, might lead you to an eternity in Hell. Most of the teachers I review fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum (leaning toward the latter).

Photo courtesy of prayinglife.org.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean– Not recommended. Jennifer’s calendar of events includes a column titled “Women Only?” which implies that she does teach men (at this time she has one co-ed event listed). An April 17, 2016 Facebook post also mentions she will be speaking to inmates at a men’s prison who are using one of her book studies.

Jennifer’s web site features endorsements by Lysa TerKeurst and Beth Moore, but I did not find any other obvious partnerships or appearances between Jennifer and well-known false teachers.

Some of Jennifer’s wording in quotes from her books and book descriptions give me pause because they sound similar to some of the phraseology false teachers use. However, I want to stress that I did not find any quotes in my quick check of Jennifer that seemed overtly unbiblical. She does favorably quote The Message and does not seem to understand that it is a paraphrase, not a translation, which does concern me since she is a Bible study author. I would need to examine her books and teaching more closely to get a better grip on where she’s coming from doctrinally.

12046903_1052179321495503_6933066421813121772_nLisa Harper– Not recommended. Lisa is a contributing writer at Proverbs 31. She has partnered with Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Lisa Bevere, and Victoria Osteen in at least one conference at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood. Lisa is also connected to IF: Gathering. Lisa considers Sheila Walsh (see below) a friend. And, she seems to think Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, and Priscilla Shirer are kosher.

Photo courtesy of karenkingsbury.com

Karen Kingsbury– Recommended only for discerning, mature Christians. Karen Kingsbury is in a bit of a different category since she is a fiction writer. I asked about her in a group of theologically sound women I’m a member of. Here’s what they said:

“Her books are very “evanjellyfish.” Lots of personal words from God. Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted and misapplied several times per book. Ask Jesus into your heart. All the usual stuff.”

“There are absolutely problems with KK’s theology. Her latest series is about angels sent by God to earth to direct the lives of four chosen people and keep them alive so that one of the couples can bear a child named Dallas Garner who will turn the hearts of people back to God.”

“I actually saw The Bridge Part 1 and 2 on Hallmark that is based on her books. I would no way look to her for theology, but the movies were decent for a Christmas feel good movie. But that’s as far as I’d ever go with her stuff.”

“I really enjoyed the Baxter family series. As fiction. Not for theology. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes quite a bit at those parts. But – it’s fiction. I don’t hold fiction to the same standard that I would a theological book.”

“The angels series is way out there and could lead to very bad theology. If you read those books, you might want to compare it with a study of angels in Scripture.”

I would echo the respondent who said she does not hold fiction to the same level of doctrinal purity as non-fiction Bible studies, Christian living, or theology books. If you are a new Christian or not very knowledgeable of the Bible, it would probably be a good idea for to stay away from Karen Kingsbury books until you’re more mature in Christ and can spot and reject the theological problems in the books.

Photo courtesy of twitter.com/rebekahlyons

Rebekah Lyons– Not recommended. Rebekah and her husband Gabe (who previously helped co-found the Catalyst conference, which has featured false teachers Beth Moore and Christine Caine) are the founders of “Q,” an organization which attempts to join Christians with secular cultural and governmental leaders as well as other non-Christians, including Muslims, in order to make a Christian impact on culture through “The 7 Channels of Cultural Influence.” These “7 Channels” are identical to the seven mountains found in the Seven Mountain Mandate of the New Apostolic Reformation’s false teaching of Dominionism. Scripture does not tell us to partner with non-Christians to impact culture, in fact, it explicitly tells us not to.

Rebekah has appeared at IF: Gathering. The transcript of her speech is Ann Voskamp-esque sloppy theology at best, emergent at worst. Rebekah also appeared at Q with IF: Gathering founder Jennie Allen speaking on Women in the Church. You’ll notice that Gabe commends IF for not “getting into doctrine” when it comes to women’s roles in the church, and virtually no Scripture is cited in the entire talk, only opinions (there was so much double speak in the video that I was unable to glean anything else of substance).

Among other topics, including marijuana and robots, Q Denver 2016 will feature speaker Melinda Selmys, a Catholic blogger and author who wiil share “My Struggle with Gender Dysphoria.” She “encourages faith communities to provide trans people with the social, emotional, and spiritual support that they need in order to heal.”

Photo courtesy of raechelmyers.com

Raechel Myers– Not recommended (nor anyone associated with She Reads Truth). Check out this resource and this one. Elizabeth Prata, author of these two resources adds:

“I had direct interaction with Raechel Myers regarding the concerns I’d written about. She falls far below the ‘unrepentant … false doctrine’ benchmark. As an elder woman attempting to teach her, the younger, sound doctrine and to be self-controlled (Titus 2:2, 4-5) she not only was unrepentant but she was very angry and decidedly UNcontrolled. She would not listen one bit and so, she did not hear. The entire scene made me very sad for all the IF:Gathering women, because they are intelligent and have energy, verve, and dedication. If they’d put all that in the right direction they all could have been role model women and wives for the glory of Jesus.”

snShauna Niequist– Not recommended. In addition to regularly preaching the Sunday sermon at Willow Creek, this information is from a friend who knows Shauna’s family personally:

“[Shauna is] the daughter of Bill Hybels, the founder and pastor of Willow Creek in Barrington, IL. Because of very personal experience with it, I will tell you that this stuff they peddle has proven to be the worst kind of Christianity, and probably a Matthew 23:14-15 type of situation, at least in my opinion.

Next, this post right here ought to really be enough.

She is a friend of Rachel Held Evans. She is touring with Jen Hatmaker, who is a complete mess. Really, there is no other way to describe her than secularism covered with some bible words.

Aaron [Shauna’s husband] is a worship leader at Willow Creek. He began a HUGE movement with contemplative prayer a couple of years ago. Because of his music, he comes off as very spiritual and sound, but there is nothing inherently Christian about anything he says or does, really. Take a look at Aaron’s blog here, which will give you more insight.

There is ZERO discernment with this family, they either promote or flock to whoever is popular, and they are all about using words that sound really great, but have no substance to them at all. They are on this big thing lately about “Holy Spaces”, which sounds great, but is so anti-biblical when you really think about it. You don’t create a space that is holy, only God can do that. Anyway…

This is the Willow Creek legacy, in a nutshell: their lack of sound doctrine, lack of bible, lack of biblical discernment, and their false teaching and false gospel. Shauna, and Aaron, are simply products of what her dad has built, which is a huge gathering of people who neither know Christ, nor have reverence for His word.”

Shauna also publicly congratulated Jen Hatmaker for affirming homosexuality.

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jrJennifer Rothschild– Not recommended. Although a dear, godly, discerning friend heard her speak several years ago and recounted to me that Jennifer handled God’s word correctly and taught the biblical gospel at the conference she attended, a brief perusal of Jennifer’s blog raises too many red flags for me to recommend her at this time. Perhaps Jennifer is slipping in her discernment.

Jennifer has several endorsements from the likes of Beth Moore and Lysa TerKeurst prominently displayed on her web site, says she “loves James and Betty Robison,” and speaks 25- 30 times per year “to groups – mostly women,” (implying that she does teach men). She also calls Ann Voskamp a “dear, dear friend” in the introduction to a guest post Ann wrote for Jennifer’s blog, and will appear with Ann (again) at an upcoming event.

susiesquare-300x300Susie Shellenberger– Not recommended. According to her website Susie is  “an ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene” (The office of elder is expressly limited to men in Scripture.) and spent several years serving as a youth pastor.

In the About Susie’s Speaking and Schedule sections of her website, several events which are usually co-ed (such as church revivals and college chapels) are suggested as events at which she might speak. “People” and “audiences,” rather than “women,” are the terms used for her listeners at these venues, implying that she teaches men.

Most of Susie’s books are for or about teens, and, while I haven’t read any of them, some of the titles and descriptions seem a bit troubling:

Masterpiece: 18 Encounters with Jesus that Prove it’s All About You (Even Rick Warren knows “It’s not about you.”)

Girl Talk With God: It’s Actually About Talking With Him and Listening to Him Talk Back (God speaks to us through His word, not an audible voice.)

Secret Power to Faith, Family, and Getting a Guy: A Personal Bible Study on the Book of Ruth (The book of Ruth is not “a Cinderella story” as the description purports, nor God’s instructions on how to get a boyfriend.)

headshot_newSheila Walsh– Not recommended. Sheila was a co-host of The 700 Club for several years, and recently announced she’s joining the leadership team of Life Today (James Robison). She has appeared at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood alongside false teachers Beth Moore, Prisicilla Shirer, Christine Caine, and Victoria Osteen, and is a contributor at Hillsong’s web site. She gave an enthusiastic Instagram recommendation of an event at which Bobbie Houston (Hillsong), Christine Caine, and Sarah Jakes Roberts (T.D. Jakes’ daughter) are the featured speakers. I also skimmed this interview with Sheila and found some of her answers troubling, particularly the one towards the end where the interviewer asks her about “people of other faiths who sincerely love God.”

awAmanda Bible Williams– Not recommended (nor anyone associated with She Reads Truth). Check out this resource and this one.

 

 

I truly regret that I’m unable to give a wholehearted endorsement to any of these women. I’m sure they’re all perfectly nice people who, in their own hearts, have only the best of intentions, but Christian leaders and teachers have a grave responsibility to Christ and to their listeners to teach sound doctrine and walk in obedience to Scripture. Please understand that this is not a personal attack on any of these women, only answers to readers’ questions about whether or not I recommend them and their materials.


If you have a question about: a well-known Christian author/leader, a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.