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.