While there are sections of Christianity that believe the office of apostle died out with the original apostles of first century Christianity, there is a growing movement that believes this office has been re-instituted and will lead a world-wide takeover of the world by Christians. This movement is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). While its historical roots are relatively short its influence has spread around the world.
Spending the better part of ten years in research, Holly Pevic, managing editor of Biola Magazine, has become an expert in her own right on the NAR movement. R. Douglas Geivett, author and professor at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, has also spent much time researching the NAR movement. Both Holly and Douglas have organized their material on the NAR into the new book A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement published with Weaver Book Company. This book is a more academic look at the NAR movement while the companion book, God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement, is a condensed version written for a lay audience.
Overview of NAR Movement
A New Apostolic Reformation? serves two basic purposes. First, the authors give an overview of the NAR movement beginning at its earliest roots in the Later Rain Movement after World War II and then critique the movement based on Scripture. Second, the authors lay out for the reader the size of the NAR movement which reaches almost every corner of the globe.
The NAR movement is based on two central beliefs: first, that the New Testament office of apostle has been restored to the church and, second, that it is a reformation within Christianity through which God will eventually convert all of the world and to which all of the Church must submit to and join. It is through this movement that Christ will take over the world (1). This movement is considered to be an army of Christ that will bring about what is called the “Great End-Time Transfer of Wealth” which will take all of the wealth from the world and give it to this divine army for redistribution to the righteous all over the world (2).
In their overview of the NAR movement, the authors systematically work their way through the entirety of their leaders, leadership structure, outreach extensions such as politics and media, main Scriptural support for their beliefs, and key doctrines that define their movement. The NAR movement has strong political influence, internet presence and spreads its message through powerful Christian T.V. networks like the Trinity Broadcasting Network and their own GOD TV as led by Rory and Wendy Alec (21).
The tiered leadership structure of the NAR movement begins with the prophets who receive special revelation from God, who then pass it onto the prophets and then to the church leaders. The Scriptural foundation for the NAR’s belief in present day apostles rests on Ephesians 2:20, 4:11 and I Corinthians 12:28. All three of these verses mention apostles and prophets as two of several offices God gave the church to grow it. Essentially, NAR followers believe that while Christianity, as almost a united whole, has believed the offices of apostle (like that of Paul) and prophet (like Jeremiah) have been gone since the passing of the first century, they have been wrong on this understanding and God has re-established them for today.
The main leaders of the NAR movement are Bob Jones, Paul Cain, C. Peter Wagner, Bill Johnson, and Cindy Jacobs. Some of their major ministry outlets include the International House of Prayer (IHOP) and Harvest International Ministry (HIM). They have extensive influence through print and internet publications such as Charisma magazine and they even have their own Bible translation, The Passion Translation, which apostle Brian Simmons claims he was commissioned by God personally to produce (8).
Overview of Authors Response
The response of the authors to the teachings of the NAR movement is broken down into three basic categories: the apostles, the prophets, and their view of spiritual warfare. Through several chapters, the authors carefully walk through the main tenants of the NAR beliefs and compare them with Scripture.
First, regarding present day apostles, the authors are careful to point out that while there was more than one kind of apostle in the NT, there was only one group of apostles that were sent by Christ Himself. It is this group that has most certainly died out. What NAR apostles have to claim is that Christ is once again sending new apostles and is appearing to them. However, they do not make this claim for themselves, nor can they. They cannot meet the Biblical criteria (85). The authors do a good job of presenting the classic case for why the office of apostle has died out and will never be brought back.
Second, regarding the present day prophets, NAR leaders believe that God is still revealing His secret will and plans (Amos 3:7) to present day prophets to proclaim to all of the church. They have the same authority as OT prophets (102-03). A distinct role of OT prophets was their prophetic role towards nations. This is something lacking with NT prophets (126-27). While some may rule out the present day gift of prophesy, the authors do not. They believe the gift is still given today (128-29) but the office (as in the OT) does not exist, nor does the word they speak apply to the universal church (129).
Finally, when it comes to the NAR’s view of spiritual warfare they hold to a dominionism theology. This is the means through which God, through the church, as revealed to the apostles and prophets, will advance His kingdom (150). The essence of “strategic-level spiritual warfare is the act of confronting evil spirits that are believed to rule specific geographical regions, cultural groups, and societal institutions” (151). For the kingdom of God to advance they must be “neutralized or cast out.” (152) The essence of the authors response to this teaching is that Scripture does not tell us there are specific spirits that claim certain areas, nor that we are called to name them and drive them out.
A New Apostolic Reformation? provides a fascinating and eye-opening look at a worldwide movement that is everywhere. I have personally run into a number of people throughout my life that I now know are part of this movement. There is no doubt that most Christians know someone who is involved in this group but do not realize it. This book will open your eyes to it and give you some basic help for coming along side of these followers in order to lead them to the truth.
I recommend this book to anyone who might know people involved in the NAR movement, to those who are involved in it and have some suspicions that things are not right, as well as to those who want to be more informed about the movement.
I received this book for free from Weaver Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”Read More »