“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? So every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” -Matthew 7:15-20
The New Apostolic Reformation is the fastest growing sect of so called Christianity in the professing Church today. Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio, puts their number at upwards of 369 million people currently involved with the movement. The NAR is a theological evolution largely formed and influenced by the Charismatic and Pentecostal church movements. That being said, not all Charismatics or Pentecostals hold to this doctrine. The NAR is fairly new to the scene, having first appeared in the late 1990’s. The term New Apostolic Reformation was coined by self proclaimed prophet C. Peter Wagner, who now has a school in Pasadena, California: the Wagner Leadership Institute, which helps to raise up and train leaders to join and guide the NAR. Because this is not an official organization, they do not necessarily intend to take people out of their own churches. Rather, their methodology is designed to teach individuals their doctrine and theology and in return those individuals help to teach and disciple others with what they have learned, taking it into their own homes, churches, and social circles. So the NAR is not a stand alone denomination, it has no authority structure set in place which results in the fact that they have no model for church discipline or biblical discernment of any kind when it comes to the practices of people within this movement. There is also absolutely no room in this movement for biblical accountability or criticism, because extra biblical revelation sets the precedence for what is being taught.
One of the major foundations for this movement is based on a non-traditional interpretation of Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers. They take this and use it to promote a view point known as the Five Fold Doctrine or Five Fold Ministry. They believe that the office of apostle and prophet are still open today, and specifically that the office of apostleship was re-opened in 2001. Another one of their major themes is what is know as Dominion Theology. This teaches that there are seven cultural mountains to be conquered: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, family, and religion, to help bring back the reign and second coming of Christ. This is something that is wildly popular among their youth, as it gives them a sense of importance and purpose as they begin an attempt to conquer these seven mountains with the intention of rising to positions of prominence and power within them. It also involves spiritual warfare in the sense that followers of this movement believe that they have power over demons and are able to wage war, bind demons, and cast them out of certain areas or cities that the NAR is attempting to conquer.
To help better understand some of their beliefs, C. Peter Wagner has listed some of the main differences between the doctrines that the conservative Christian Church would hold to and what NAR Doctrine revolves around:
Apostolic governance – The Apostle Paul’s assertion that Jesus appoints apostles within his church continues to this day.
The office of the prophet – There is within the Church a role and function for present-day prophets.
Dominionism – “When Jesus came, He brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth.
Theocracy – Not to be confused with theocratic government but rather the goal to have “kingdom-minded people” in all areas of society. There are seven areas identified specifically: religion, family, education, government, media, arts & entertainment, and business.
Extra-biblical revelation – There is available to all believers the ability to hear from God. “The one major rule governing any new revelation from God is that it cannot contradict what has already been written in the Bible. It may supplement it, however.”
Supernatural signs and wonders – Signs and wonders such as healing, demonic deliverance, and confirmed prophecies accompany the move of God.
Relational structures – Church governance has no formal structure but rather is by relational and voluntary alignment to apostles.
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” -Colossians 2:8
Some of the big names associated with this movement are Bill Johnson the lead pastor of Bethel Church and co-founder of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding Ca. Jesus Culture, a highly popular band in the Contemporary Christian Music genre also out of Bethel Church. C. Peter Wagner former professor with Fuller Theological Seminary and chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute. General Mike Bickle (he was apparently given the title of general by God during a visit to heaven) founder and leader of the International House Of Prayer. Lance Wallnau among many things he is known for being the most active preacher on Twitter’s live-streaming app Periscope. Chuck Pierce self proclaimed prophet and president of Glory of Zion Ministries. Che Ahn lead pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California. As well as Dutch Sheets, Todd Bentley, Rick Joyner, and Georgian and Winnie Banov to name a few. This is not by any means an inclusive list, but helps to lend understanding as to some of the bigger names out there that are pushing this movement.
This movement is largely spread and funded by concerts, youth conferences, and events that draw massive crowds. These events are wildly popular among the youth in this nation. They have obtained a vast influence and popularity in our culture and you may even sing some of their songs in your church. I believe that as faithful slaves to our God and Father and the Lord Jesus Christ we must put distance between ourselves and those who peddle compromised and even sometimes blasphemous doctrines.
John MacArthur has said this regarding the confrontation of false doctrines:
“First, if you are to be a faithful prophet in a nation in decline and crisis, you must expose false religion where it exists. This is not a time for tolerance, this is not a time for embracing everybody and saying it doesn’t really matter what you believe as long as you follow your heart. Listen, this world is full of damning false religion. I have been accused throughout the years of being intolerant and I accept that as a compliment. Of course I’m intolerant. I am as intolerant as God is, as Christ is, as the Bible is of anything that damns peoples souls while promising them heaven. It is a direct message. We’re not just talking about making people feel good, we confront lies.”
In light of these truths, stop endorsing these people as legitimate leaders of the faith, stop using their music, and stop acting out of a lack of concern or cowardice, unwilling to confront these people and their lies from your pulpit and warn the flock with which you have been entrusted. We need to be willing to evaluate everything that we encounter. Likewise, let us be committed to the personal study of scripture so that we may be able to discern properly when we are confronted with anyone or anything that claims to be teaching biblical doctrine. May we be committed no matter what the cost to our God and Savior.
“If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” -2 John 10-11