The NAR – New Apostolic Reformation was a term first used by its main apologist C. Peter Wagner to speak of what he believed to be the restoration of, or more accurately, the Second Age of the Apostles. We see in Scripture an ending of the Apostolic line – starting with the original 12 called by Jesus, the replacement of Judas with Matthias – and then ending finally with Paul who called himself the last and least of the Apostles. 14 men in all who fulfilled an office that was a direct calling by Christ who empowered them with the ability to do signs and wonders miracles.
The ‘Signs and Wonders’ phrase itself is today, within Protestant Christianity, homogenous with the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, whose believers strive for the signs and wonders gifts that we see in the early church and specifically, through the Apostles. On the heels of the Azusa Street revivals, where miraculous signs were accredited, including levitation and barking like dogs … Charismaticism took off like a wildfire. But in all that time, there were no strong proponents of having or restoring the office of the Apostle.
As someone who spent 15 years in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement, and especially in a fringe edge portion of the movement (Oneness Pentecostalism) I saw this belief manifested in many ways. The office of the Apostle that is. The phrase ‘The Five-Fold Ministry” was a very common phrase, referencing Ephesians 4:11-12,
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: ~ Ephesians 4:11,12 ISV
In many cases, there are movements within the Charismatic movement that still believes that God is gifting individuals with the office of the Apostle, others with the gift of Prophecy, and yet others as Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers. In the case of the Oneness Pentecostal system, at least the one I belonged to, the claim was often made that the local Pastor fulfilled all five roles in the Church today – and that he was the fulfilling of this Scripture.
Both positions are equally heretical and contrary to Scripture but it seems that they both have taken root in the Charismatic movement, which, I am no longer surprised, is constantly marred with controversy and doctrines that are now, and generally always have been perceived as heretical by the mainline and historical stream of Truth, fulfilling the words of Paul, ‘If any comes to you, either a man or an angel, preaching another gospel, let them be damned.’ (Galatians 1:8)
There are broad reasons for this warning; One is that we are called to warn the church of wolves that creep in, pretending to be Brothers but they are spying on us, and attempting to drag us back into bondage. (Galatians 2:4) That bondage was the Law in the context of Paul’s teaching on Galatians 2, but we can also be slaves to false doctrine. Paul commanded us in Ephesians 4:14 to no longer be infantile in our doctrine, tossed back and forth by the waves of teachings that come from the cunning craftiness of men.
In truth, this is not an exhaustive study nor warning on the subject, just a warning. But there are some highlights of the Charismatic movement and New Apostolic Reformation that prove themselves to be teaching ‘another gospel‘.
- Health & Wealth – The Prosperity Gospel is the mark of the Charismatic movement. Everyone wants to hear ‘God wants to give you the desires of your heart!’ (Psalm 37:4) Yet – nowhere in Scripture does it teach us that healthy, and wealth and abundance was the mark of pure servitude to him. In fact, Jesus himself was the similitude of the absolute opposite – when he said, “I have no place to lay my head.”, and that he promised his Apostles and disciples hardship and likely the loss of their life for being a follower of his.
- Extra-Biblical Revelation – This is the idea that there are truths of God that were either hidden from us due to past church corruption or were never revealed in the first place, and now that we are receiving these revelations, the church is being ‘more perfected’ in Him (Christ). But in the realm of Charismaticism, this is and opens the flood-gate of charlatans who claim ‘God revealed this to me’, which is always something outside of Scripture, that can either supplement existing Scripture or in many cases, acts completely contrary to Scripture.
- Apostolic Authority – Believing that modern-day men (and women) are God-called Apostles not only stands against the clear and sound teaching of Scripture that the men who wrote the New Testament Bible were the only and final Apostles, but it also paves the way for the heretical teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation. The simple fact is this – God called and created the Apostles to create the Church – to write the Church, they created the doctrines of the Church – doctrines of grace, and faith, the triune nature of the Godhead and all that comes with those teachings. In fact, they specifically wrote that the faith was once and for all delivered to the Saints. Canon is closed. The NAR reopens it.
It should come as no surprise that modern-day mega Charismatic names are mixed up in this, including Bill Johnson, Kenneth Copeland, Mike Bickle, and John Kelley. A lot of money is wrapped up in these models and it also comes as no surprise that now, much like online ordinations through Universal Life Church, you can simply pay the International Coalition of Apostles online and become a card-holding Apostle.
The reality is, the NAR is leading the world into further darkness. It is not the light of Christ that came to light the world. It is not the spirit of what He taught his disciples in Matthew, to take neither money nor title for their work, but to be servants of the lowest order to imitate the great service and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
I may write about this again, but I felt compelled to share a warning that you each could look into the NAR for yourself and judge whether this is of God.
It is most disappointing that you have failed to examine the doctrine of the Trinity (DT) with the same rational scrutiny that you claim to have exercised with respect to Pentecostal churches.
The DT, in all its forms, entails logical contradictions and can neither be true under any rational standard nor provide a template for biblical interpretation. You cannot affirm that there are three really distinct, fully divine persons and one God without contradicting yourself, regardless which version of the Trinity you espouse.
If this is the wrong place to the discuss the matter, then please direct me to wherever you’d like to discuss it. I pledge to stay within the bounds of rational thought and to be respectful. I also ask that you pledge not to delete or block my posts so long as I do not break my pledge. Agreed?
I have never responded to this post, and I apologize for that. I find the purpose of your post irrational however. The article written here has nothing to do with the differences between Oneness (Modalism) and the Trinity, the validity of either or. So to disappointment in me for not addressing that topic here, on a post that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic is just, strange.
If you would like to debate that topic, by all means, have at it. I find that particular topic disgusting. From about 300a.d. people have been killed, tortured, and destroyed arguing it. And today, people are bickering, fighting, and losing all the fruits of the spirit over this. While I think it is an important topic, it is also a great ‘divider of the brethren’.
Jesus said his disciples would be spotted by their acts of love for one another, not their modalism or anti-modalism stances, and how well they can argue it.
I came across your blog in WordPress. As you’re probably aware, WordPress posts columns which it thinks are similar to the topic you’re looking at. I was mildly curious if your blog was substantively different from other blogs authored by backslidden Pentecostals (it isn’t).
Many Pentecostals abandon modesty standards, but they retain the Oneness doctrine, baptism in Jesus’ name and affirm the gifts of the Spirit. Others, like yourself, chuck it all, including Oneness, in favor of the Trinity. I’ve been in many debates with trinitarians from laypersons to scholars, but it’s always disappointing to see somebody abandon Oneness for something I consider so manifestly false. I was curious what throught processes led you into the Trinity which is why I challenged you. I specifically stated in my post above:
If this is the wrong place to the discuss the matter, then please direct me to wherever you’d like to discuss it.
I initially looked at your home page but was unable to find any column that specifically analyzed the Doctrine of the Trinity (hereafter DT). That surprised me given the fact that such a transition is a rather major one, so just randomly picked a column to offer my challenge. It didn’t matter to me where the discussion took place. I would have been willing to interact with you under any of your columns. However, since you find the matter “disgusting,” I’m dubious about the productivity of such a discussion. I have since found another of your pieces entitled How do you define a ‘Cult’? wherein you state:
This same group, most commonly known by its largest enterprise, the United Pentecostal Church, International, is called a cult by mainline Christianity due to its absolute denial of the historical and orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, in which they claim the Trinity to be a heretical doctrine and claim that their ‘Oneness’ message, otherwise known as Modalism is the only valid view of the nature of God and the Godhead. This, by Walter Martin’s definition alone, makes them a cult. Does that really make them a cult? I honestly do not think that alone is grounds to use that term.
In other words (btw, there is no comma after “Church” for the UPCI), a denial of the Trinity is a component of what constitutes a cult, but not in itself. That’s extremely curious given your now stated view that a debate over it is a “divider of the brethren.” Perhaps you should clarify your stance to your readers (if you have, I apologize in advance) that affirming Oneness is not a component of cultism. In any event, since you’re not interested, there’s no point in proceeding further. However, if Juana desires to continue discussing the matter, I’ll reply to her with your indulgence.
Good post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Appreciate it!
Hi, Juana. I’m not certain if you’re asking me or the author of the opening post. If you’d like, I’d be more than happy to demonstrate the logical inversions entailed by the Doctrine of the Trinity.
Again, I cannot fathom your dogmatic approach to addressing the NAR with Modalism and the Trinity? What is the point?
I explained in my reply to Juana what my point was. I’m not certain whether she’s asking you or me, so I left it up to her to clarify.
Of course, since you’re the site administrator, you can call foul on off-topic matters. No problem. Your house, your rules.