New Apostolic Reformation
<<modern day teaching>>
This modern deviation has emerged in the last 50 years or so. It is considered to have an unbiblical emphasis on experience and mysticism over the plain truth of Scripture and long-held, established doctrine by elevating the role and power of modern-day ‘apostles’ and miracle workers. These often self-appointed leaders claim divine authority, spawning an abundance of ‘new revelations’ from God. Sometimes called ‘Kingdom Now theology’, this movement has given rise to a number of beliefs and emphasises that are in variance with conservative Christianity.
* The traditional gospel of the cross of Christ teaches salvation from sin through the work of Jesus who said His Kingdom was a spiritual one, and we, as Christians, are to be Christ-like, being salt and light in the marketplace of everyday life. Our focus is foremost the salvation of people, and through our combined witness, changed lives will help to bring about the transformation of the world systems as well as the Kingdom of God (Mt 5:13-16; Jn 18:36).
In contrast, the NAR message of the Kingdom tells believers to take dominion over this world by infiltrating the marketplace and thus, by influencing every stratum of society, imposing a value system that does not necessarily address the ungodly heart of man. The emphasis has moved from rescuing human souls to world reform, pursuing cultural and political control of society. Exponents consider this will then enable the Church to fulfil its commission and establish God’s Kingdom on earth by regaining the dominion lost because of sin.
* Historically the church has held to premillennialism (whereby Christ will return before setting up a literal Kingdom on earth), with believers called to proclaim the gospel and its message of ‘hope in Christ’ throughout the whole earth, yet rather than there being vast revivals with multitudes ‘making a decision for Christ’, the love of most will grow cold (Mt 24:12,13).
Because of its postmillennial stance, the NAR movement considers the Church has the responsibility to aggressively establish God’s Kingdom on earth before He returns. Often it is claimed believers have unlimited divine power and blessing to equip them for this task with a strong emphasis on power and the human agency. But we should have a balanced and realistic understanding of our delegated authority under the Lordship of Christ, and not usurp His role and claim power for ourselves that is not ours to claim. There must always be humility, submission to Him and His ways, for we have the divine treasure of the Holy Spirit in our ‘jars of clay’ and need to grow in holiness (2 Cor 4:7-10).
* The NAR, has embraced the Prosperity and Word of Faith doctrines along with a preoccupation with the enemy’s activity, and so has an unhealthy attitude towards control and the supernatural. This desire to wield spiritual power, sometimes fostering a militant mentality involving spiritual warfare, to take territories for the Kingdom of God and trigger, activate or awaken blessing, revival and supernatural experience is characteristic. Frequently there is a strong focus on possession by evil spirits, attributing all sickness and negative personality traits to such a source. If there is a genuine case, it must be dealt with, however as sin has left its mark on the world, not everything that is amiss is an evil spirit that must be named and ousted. Believers need to cultivate their awareness of the Holy Spirit’s inspired declarations, and divinely prompted acts of faith or intercessory prayer so that struggling fellow believers will deal with their own sin rather than attempt to do God’s work for Him.
* As humans we aspire to be the first with the latest trends and happenings, speculating and propounding our views and ideas, for to lag behind is perceived to be inferior. This attitude has influenced the spiritual culture too for the Bible records there were some very religious people who spent considerable time talking about and listening to the latest ideas, yet were not conversant with the whole counsel or directives of God (Act 17:21,22, 20:27). It’s advice is to test the spirits to see if they are ‘of God’ (1 Jn 4:1). There are many who emphatically declare ‘God told me…’ yet not everyone who claims to have a divinely inspired message is speaking on God’s behalf (Gal 1:8).
There is a tendency for many phenomenon and manifestations to be unquestionably claimed to be ‘of God’ yet we are to hold tenaciously to the Word of God as many people will be deceived in the last days (Mt 24:4,11; Act 17:11; 2 Cor 11:4; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 4:1-5). With this unbiblical emphasis put on the visual experience of faith, discernment is seemingly abandoned, thinking suspended, and the Word of God ignored, in preference to the often humanly inspired display.
Jesus said, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after signs” yet even visible proof can be manipulated or manufactured to deceive (Mt 16:4). Any experience should be validated by Scripture, (either directly or by holding to the principles of God’s character) rather than any teaching authenticated only by a dubious human experience. Within the NAR movement the oft-time spectacular or external physical aspect is elevated above the inner work of the Holy Spirit in saving souls and changing lives. The emphasis of the NT is not on miracles, emotions or experiences but the Word of God leading to holiness of character. Am I faithful to the Scriptures?
* Another common characteristic of this system is strong discipleship where every believer is responsible to a personal shepherd, often in an unhealthy alliance. While we should be in some degree of accountability, as believers in the family of God, our primary chain of command is from Jesus to us via the Holy Spirit. We can be confident what comes from this source will be in total agreement with the Scriptures, not influenced by human reasoning or a limited perspective.
Christians come in ‘many different stripes’ and variously emphasise different teachings. There are foundational truths which we should all adhere to but there are also matters about which we may have differences. Scripture says do “not put out the Spirit’s fire” but “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thes 5:19,21). Hence it is our responsibility to allow the Holy Spirit to move as He pleases while at the same time to understand, evaluate and stop what is not of divine origin. No teaching or practice is to detract from the all-sufficiency of Christ and our need for utter reliance on Him.
From a conservative assessment, some of the doctrines and teachings of the NAR do not line up with Scripture, or go beyond its teachings but such zealous people are seemingly effective in the Kingdom of God. Where there is a diversity of viewpoints, each having a measure of truth, we should live by the words of Jesus, “Whoever is not against us is for us” and so be united with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (Mk 9:40). We have more in common with them than those who don’t know Jesus as Saviour.
See also: accountability, apostle, apostolic age, controversial issues, deception, disciple/discipling, doctrine, end times, evil spirits, hearing God’s voice, Kingdom Now theology, non-negotiable, postmillennial, premillennialism, prosperity doctrine, Word of Faith.