Mailbag, New Apostolic Reformation

The Mailbag: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?

mailbag

 

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

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

What is the New Apostolic Reformation? by Sola Sisters

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

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

Drunk in the Spirit by Todd Friel

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.

Bible, Church, Creation, Discernment, Evolution, False Teachers, New Apostolic Reformation, Prayer, Throwback Thursday, Word of Faith Movement, Worship

Throwback Thursday ~ Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors ~ Part 2

Originally published January 23, 201414333562683841

Recently, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” I would call this article a response to that one, but it’s really more of a…well, I guess you could call it a “ricochet”. Last week, in Part 1 of this article, I discussed five current issues in evangelicalism that we folks in the pew need some guidance on from our pastors. Following are six more issues we all, pastors and church members alike, need to learn about and and keep a biblical perspective on.

Creation vs. Evolution:  Sorely missing from some pulpits these days is the exhortation to Christians that the Bible is our final authority on every issue in life and that we are called to believe God’s word- believe it intelligently, yes, but believe it, even in the face of worldly opposition. This admonition does not begin with Genesis 3, it begins with Genesis 1.  We are called to believe that God created the world and that He created it the way the Bible says He created it.

*Resources:
Answers in Genesis– From Creation apologetics to scholarly scientific articles to colleges that teach Creation to VBS curricula, you would be hard put to find a more comprehensive, gospel-centered Creation resource.
The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

Denominational Differences: Do you know the basics of what the major Christian denominations teach (salvation, baptism, communion, membership, etc.) and the differences between their doctrine and the doctrine of your own denomination? Are you aware that some denominations which are considered by many to be “Christian” hold to doctrines- including soteriology- that conflicts with God’s word? Are you fairly well acquainted with the doctrines of the denomination or religion that is predominant (or secondary if your own denomination predominates) in your area? Pastoral instruction on the basics of other denominational beliefs (as well as their own!) can be quite helpful as we church members relate to friends and family members or help new church members who come from a different denominational background.

Resources: 
GotQuestions.org For a brief overview of most of the major religions and denominations, type “Methodist,” “Mormon,” etc., in the search box.

For more detailed information, find the denomination’s main web site and click on their “statement of faith” or “what we believe” page (Keep in mind that there are several different “flavors” of Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc., whose doctrines and practices may vary significantly from each other.), or get to know local pastors of other denominations and just ask what they teach.

The Word of Faith Movement:  Used almost interchangeably with the term “prosperity gospel,” anti-biblical Word of Faith concepts such as the “little gods” doctrine (we have a divine nature), health and wealth prosperity (it is never God’s will for you to be sick or poor, and if you are, it’s because of your lack of faith), positive confession (Our words have the power to create reality or speak things into existence. Conversely, negative words create negative circumstances.), and twisted teachings about tithing (“sow your seed so God will multiply it back to you”), among others, are infiltrating unsuspecting churches at an alarming rate, and many are being deceived.

Because church members are often introduced to these doctrines by seemingly innocuous, popular speakers and leaders such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, Hillsong personnel, Robert Morris, John and Lisa Bevere, John Hagee, Kari Jobe, and Judah Smith, whose materials are sold at Christian stores, conferences, and web sites, church members, and even some pastors, have no way of knowing they’re encountering false teaching unless they understand sound biblical doctrine and have a modicum of discernment skills.  It is now more necessary than ever for Christians to be trained in the basics of hermeneutics and discernment. 

Resources:
A Call for Discernment by Justin Peters
Word Faith Movement at Stand Up For the Truth
Sound the Alarm: The Dangers of the Word of Faith Movement by Emmanuel Davis
A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think at 9Marks

The New Apostolic ReformationHopefully, your church members have never encountered NAR leaders, doctrines, or manifestations, or, if they have, were immediately turned off by its weirdness and because it is so blatantly anti-biblical. NAR takes the Word of Faith movement, and –BAM!– kicks it up a notch. But, as a gateway drug can lead to addiction and addiction can lead to a fatal overdose, so exposure to Joel Osteen can lead to T.D. Jakes to Benny Hinn to holy laughterstrange “anointings,” glory clouds of gold dust, tremoring, false prophecy, and being “drunk in the Spirit.” This is signs and wonders on steroids.

The NAR is also largely responsible for many of the corrupt teachings on prayer (mainly through Bethel Church in Redding, California) that have become popular in recent years, such as: contemplative/centering prayer, lectio divina, the International House of Prayer, Sozo prayer, healing rooms, and soaking prayer, as well as the false teaching of dominionism.

Resources:
False Spirits Invade the Church: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3  A Documentary by Andrew Strom
What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (And Why Should We Be Concerned About It?) by Christine Pack of Sola Sisters- This article is not only very helpful in and of itself, it provides links to many related articles and resources.
Love and Death in the House of Prayer by Jeff Tietz of Rolling Stone

The Emergent/Emerging Church MovementEver heard the old joke, “The only rule is…there are no rules!” Well, replace the word “rule” with “doctrine” and you’ve got a somewhat loose definition of the emergent church. It’s a post-modern mix of ethereal non-traditionalism, feelings, experiences, and mysticism as a means of worship, anti-absolute truth, ideological inclusivism, and anything goes universalism, topped off with a heaping helping of “did God really say…?“. Everything in the Bible, from moral absolutes to the divinity of Christ to the atonement to every other jot and tittle of the Word is questioned, if not outright denied. The only doctrine is…there is no doctrine. And, unfortunately, we church members can find any number of emergent books and materials on the shelves at our local Christian bookstores.

Resources:
What is the Emerging Church? by CARM.org
Exposing the Emergent Movement by Stand Up For the Truth

Bible Translations and Paraphrases, Study Bibles, and Theme BiblesIf the members of your church are carrying the LOLCat Bible or the KLV (yes, folks, that’s the Klingon Language Version of the Bible {Thanks a lot, Aaron. I’ll never be able to unsee that.}) into the sanctuary every week, you probably need more doctrinal intervention than I’m qualified to offer. But, while there are a number of theologically sound study Bibles and theme Bibles out there, there are some that may be just as theologically off base as the gospel according to kitty cats and Star Trek. Joyce Meyer’s Everyday Life Bible, Joel Osteen’s Hope for Today Bible, Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, and T.D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed Bible are a few that come to mind. (Notice that these are all sold on a Christian web site right alongside materials that teach sound doctrine.)

Are you somewhat familiar with the most common Bible translations being used today, and which ones are the most accurate? Do your church members understand the difference between a translation and a paraphrase? What about gender neutral Bibles? There is such a variety of Bible options available today that the members of your congregation could likely use some guidance in selecting an accurate translation for studying God’s word.

Resources: 
BibleGateway.com– Just about every Bible translation and paraphrase you can imagine, all on line, all free. Compare a few versions side by side, and, if you’re thinking of buying a new version, try it out at BG before you buy.
Comparison of English Bible Translations
Translation Comparison Charts
How the Use of Some Bible Versions Can Twist God’s Truth at The Sacred Sandwich

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but our most important resource is to compare all things and people to God’s word in context.

Bible, Church, Creation, Discernment, Evolution, False Teachers, New Apostolic Reformation, Prayer, Word of Faith Movement, Worship

Keep On Keeping Up: 6 More Issues Christians Need Guidance About From Our Pastors ~ Part 2

14333562683841

Recently, I read a great article by Justin Peters entitled “Ignorance Is Not An Option.” I would call this article a response to that one, but it’s really more of a…well, I guess you could call it a “ricochet”. Last week, in Part 1 of this article, I discussed five current issues in evangelicalism that we folks in the pew need some guidance on from our pastors. Following are six more issues we all, pastors and church members alike, need to learn about and and keep a biblical perspective on.

Creation vs. Evolution:  Sorely missing from some pulpits these days is the exhortation to Christians that the Bible is our final authority on every issue in life and that we are called to believe God’s word- believe it intelligently, yes, but believe it, even in the face of worldly opposition. This admonition does not begin with Genesis 3, it begins with Genesis 1.  We are called to believe that God created the world and that He created it the way the Bible says He created it.

*Resources:
Answers in Genesis– From Creation apologetics to scholarly scientific articles to colleges that teach Creation to VBS curricula, you would be hard put to find a more comprehensive, gospel-centered Creation resource.
The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

Denominational Differences: Do you know the basics of what the major Christian denominations teach (salvation, baptism, communion, membership, etc.) and the differences between their doctrine and the doctrine of your own denomination? Are you aware that some denominations which are considered by many to be “Christian” hold to doctrines- including soteriology- that conflicts with God’s word? Are you fairly well acquainted with the doctrines of the denomination or religion that is predominant (or secondary if your own denomination predominates) in your area? Pastoral instruction on the basics of other denominational beliefs (as well as their own!) can be quite helpful as we church members relate to friends and family members or help new church members who come from a different denominational background.

Resources: 
GotQuestions.org For a brief overview of most of the major religions and denominations, type “Methodist,” “Mormon,” etc., in the search box.

For more detailed information, find the denomination’s main web site and click on their “statement of faith” or “what we believe” page (Keep in mind that there are several different “flavors” of Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc., whose doctrines and practices may vary significantly from each other.), or get to know local pastors of other denominations and just ask what they teach.

The Word of Faith Movement:  Used almost interchangeably with the term “prosperity gospel,” anti-biblical Word of Faith concepts such as the “little gods” doctrine (we have a divine nature), health and wealth prosperity (it is never God’s will for you to be sick or poor, and if you are, it’s because of your lack of faith), positive confession (Our words have the power to create reality or speak things into existence. Conversely, negative words create negative circumstances.), and twisted teachings about tithing (“sow your seed so God will multiply it back to you”), among others, are infiltrating unsuspecting churches at an alarming rate, and many are being deceived.

Because church members are often introduced to these doctrines by seemingly innocuous, popular speakers and leaders such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Christine Caine, Hillsong personnel, Robert Morris, John and Lisa Bevere, John Hagee, Kari Jobe, and Judah Smith, whose materials are sold at Christian stores, conferences, and web sites, church members, and even some pastors, have no way of knowing they’re encountering false teaching unless they understand sound biblical doctrine and have a modicum of discernment skills.  It is now more necessary than ever for Christians to be trained in the basics of hermeneutics and discernment. 

Resources:
A Call for Discernment by Justin Peters
Word Faith Movement at Stand Up For the Truth
Sound the Alarm: The Dangers of the Word of Faith Movement by Emmanuel Davis
A Softer Prosperity Gospel: More Common Than You Think at 9Marks

The New Apostolic ReformationHopefully, your church members have never encountered NAR leaders, doctrines, or manifestations, or, if they have, were immediately turned off by its weirdness and because it is so blatantly anti-biblical. NAR takes the Word of Faith movement, and –BAM!– kicks it up a notch. But, as a gateway drug can lead to addiction and addiction can lead to a fatal overdose, so exposure to Joel Osteen can lead to T.D. Jakes to Benny Hinn to holy laughterstrange “anointings,” glory clouds of gold dust, tremoring, false prophecy, and being “drunk in the Spirit.” This is signs and wonders on steroids.

The NAR is also largely responsible for many of the corrupt teachings on prayer (mainly through Bethel Church in Redding, California) that have become popular in recent years, such as: contemplative/centering prayer, lectio divina, the International House of Prayer, Sozo prayer, healing rooms, and soaking prayer, as well as the false teaching of dominionism.

Resources:
False Spirits Invade the Church: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3  A Documentary by Andrew Strom
What is the New Apostolic Reformation? (And Why Should We Be Concerned About It?) by Christine Pack of Sola Sisters- This article is not only very helpful in and of itself, it provides links to many related articles and resources.
Love and Death in the House of Prayer by Jeff Tietz of Rolling Stone

The Emergent/Emerging Church MovementEver heard the old joke, “The only rule is…there are no rules!” Well, replace the word “rule” with “doctrine” and you’ve got a somewhat loose definition of the emergent church. It’s a post-modern mix of ethereal non-traditionalism, feelings, experiences, and mysticism as a means of worship, anti-absolute truth, ideological inclusivism, and anything goes universalism, topped off with a heaping helping of “did God really say…?“. Everything in the Bible, from moral absolutes to the divinity of Christ to the atonement to every other jot and tittle of the Word is questioned, if not outright denied. The only doctrine is…there is no doctrine. And, unfortunately, we church members can find any number of emergent books and materials on the shelves at our local Christian bookstores.

Resources:
What is the Emerging Church? by CARM.org
Exposing the Emergent Movement by Stand Up For the Truth

Bible Translations and Paraphrases, Study Bibles, and Theme BiblesIf the members of your church are carrying the LOLCat Bible or the KLV (yes, folks, that’s the Klingon Language Version of the Bible {Thanks a lot, Aaron. I’ll never be able to unsee that.}) into the sanctuary every week, you probably need more doctrinal intervention than I’m qualified to offer. But, while there are a number of theologically sound study Bibles and theme Bibles out there, there are some that may be just as theologically off base as the gospel according to kitty cats and Star Trek. Joyce Meyer’s Everyday Life Bible, Joel Osteen’s Hope for Today Bible, Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Devotional Bible, and T.D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed Bible are a few that come to mind. (Notice that these are all sold on a Christian web site right alongside materials that teach sound doctrine.)

Are you somewhat familiar with the most common Bible translations being used today, and which ones are the most accurate? Do your church members understand the difference between a translation and a paraphrase? What about gender neutral Bibles? There is such a variety of Bible options available today that the members of your congregation could likely use some guidance in selecting an accurate translation for studying God’s word.

Resources: 
BibleGateway.com– Just about every Bible translation and paraphrase you can imagine, all on line, all free. Compare a few versions side by side, and, if you’re thinking of buying a new version, try it out at BG before you buy.
Comparison of English Bible Translations
Translation Comparison Charts
How the Use of Some Bible Versions Can Twist God’s Truth at The Sacred Sandwich

*The resources given are obviously not an exhaustive list. For the most part, they are resources I have used myself, found to be helpful, and trust to be generally doctrinally sound. There are many other wonderful resources out there, but our most important resource is to compare all things and people to God’s word in context.