A Charismatic Primer Part 1- The New Apostolic Reformation

Seeing that we’re basically seven weeks out from the Strange Fire Conference, I’m going to start posting portions of the large study project that I’ve been hinting at on Twitter and Facebook; this isn’t a Bible Bite or a Quick Thought; this is the fruit of a lot of study and is a resource for my readers that will take some slugging to get through (if you follow the links, read the hundreds of pages of linked articles and watch the hours of linked videos).  Consider yourself warned.

The Charismatic/Continuationist influences and flagship churches/ministries are as numerous as they are diverse.  On the spectrum of positive to negative influence, arguably the biggest and most dangerous influence on the Charismatic movement is the movement known as the New Apostolic Reformation.  I’m sure many have heard about it here and there, or heard about some of the components of it, but may not really have their thumb on what it’s all about.  Here’s a little introduction to the N.A.R.:


Now here’s a longer introduction with some actual information for you:

The New Apostolic Reformation:

1. What is the New Apostolic Reformation?  C. Peter Wagner (the patron saint of the movement) explains it here (part 1 and part 2).  Here’s another video where Wagner basically says similar stuff.

A great resource on this whole movement is the website of Holly Pivec, a staff member at BIOLA  (Here’s another great article about the N.A.R. that she’s penned – Thanks to my friend Marcia Montenegro from Christian Answers for the New Age to alerting me to Holly’s great work).

2. C Peter Wagner.  A documentary of his specific heresies (beyond what is in the two previously linked videos) is beyond the scope of this post, and those familiar with Wagner already know all about his craziness (for those who don’t know, you can start by looking at some of his stuff on spiritual warfare, or his prosperity theology here and here or his insane idea about the emperor of Japan having sex with a demon...and ask yourself, where exactly did he learn about the Emperor Akihito’s sexual practices with demons?  Either Akihito told him [highly unlikely; the emperor has several well-paid advisors that may recommend against such career-destroying demonstrations of insanity] or the demon told him…hmm…you can guess which one Wagner was likely hearing it from…)  It doesn’t take much to find examples online of Wagner showing evidence of an absolute theological lobotomy.  Wagner taught at Fuller Seminary until 2001.  He used to run Global Harvest Ministries (which has now changed to Global Spheres, an organization for which Chuck Pierce is the president and Wagner is the “apostolic Ambassador”), and it’s definitely worth looking at the list of who’s affiliated with them in North America to see who’s in your area (i.e. that list is a “Danger: Spiritual Cyanide” list).  Their about page has a bunch of doctrine, but don’t be surprised if you don’t have a clue what half of it is talking about.

He also runs the Wagner Leadership Institute. This place offers some courses that are absolutely heretical, and it’s worth noticing that their teaching faculty includes Cindy Jacobs,  Dutch Sheets (one of the lesser figures in the movement, though he does run the Christ for the Nations Institute), and Bill Johnson of Bethel Church (Redding, California).  More on Johnson on #4 and more on Jacobs on #5.

What I find most interesting how frequently people like Wagner are responding to the accusation that the NAR is a cult (and there’s another description of what the movement is, from the horses’ mouth).  Wonder why that accusation comes up enough that he has to defend it on Charisma Magazine?  And WHAT is Charisma Magazine doing welcoming a wolf like Peter Wagner on their site?

Also, you may have heard about the claim that Wagner healed mad-cow disease in Germany. Here’s the original source for the claim that Wagner stopped Mad Cow disease; not in Germany, but in all of Europe (though it only apparently worked in England).  That also gives you an idea for what kind of tinfoil hat brigade he’s leading.


3. Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer.  For those that recognize the name, I’ve mentioned him before here where he proudly stated that 80% of the “manifestations of the Spirit” in charismatic circles were total frauds (and that’s a statement coming from a guy who has been a significant leader in the charismatic movement for around 3 decades).  Mike Bickle is one of the Kansas City Prophets (there’s a short intro to the Kansas City Prophets here and here and here’s a rather extensive overview of the movement) who has left his previous church, gone off on his own and formed the International House of Prayer (IHOP) (seeing that the Kansas City Prophets thing flopped, it was basically time to move on).  IHOP is proud to proclaim various heresies on their website and defends them loudly.  IHOP has a history of craziness, and IHOP runs its own school of ministry that offers some interesting classes (programs and classes are linked on the sidebar).  Mike Bickle’s personal website is here, and his YouTube channel is here.  Bickle has closely affiliated himself with Bethel Church (WHAT is Francis Chan doing at a conference with the “I’ve been to heaven” jokers?) in Redding California, and IHOP is officially connected now with YWAM, offering a joint 1-week prayer ministry training program.  Not only are they officially connected with YWAM, but their official endorsers include both the current and previous presidents of YWAM, as well as Jack Hayford and Bill Bright.

4.  Bethel Church in Redding California.  This church is the arguably largest fountain of heresy in Evangelicalism, and this video is a decent introduction to their craziness, as well as this great video showing a complete church service.  Besides the cacophony of nonsense in the “sermon” (i.e. none of the disciples ever faltered after Acts 2 [uh, Peter and Paul in Galatians 2?] or the goal of conversion is to receive the Holy Spirit, or that Jesus lacked 1/2 the power he needed to fulfill his mission, or that John the Baptist didn’t have the Holy Spirit before Christ [uh, Luke 1:15?], or that believers in the OT couldn’t go to Heaven, etc.  I suspect Bill Johnson cannot open his mouth without at least a dozen examples of amazing biblical confusion coming out…), there’s the whole “manifestations of the Spirit” following for the next hour and a bit (especially at 43:00 onward…and is it just me, or does a mass of moaning people flailing and falling remind you more of Mark 5:1-7 than Acts 2?).  There’s a thousand more examples, but here’s a few select things about the folks at Bethel:

4a.  Bill Johnson is the pastor at Bethel.  Bill Johnson says, without any confusion, that God never brings sickness and it’s always his will to physically heal believers, as well as Jesus died for the physical healing of all believers and to “save” believers from poverty.  He’s a prosperity preacher (and he says those same things at other times and other times and other times).  Bill Johnson is a false teacher; he’s one of the wolves Jesus warned us about.  I could say more, like how Bill Johnson holds irrationally contradictory beliefs (like God is in charge of the universe but not in control of the universe), or how Jesus was born again (WHAT?  He was spiritually born again?), but the prosperity gospel is enough to toss him soundly under the bus.

One more thing though: just to give a little sense for what kind of discernment Bill Johnson possesses, he openly admits to having known Todd Bentley before his ministry imploded and thought he was an authentic prophet of God.  In fact, Johnson, Peter Wagner and a bunch of the N.A.R. crowd were part of Todd Bentley’s recommissioning ceremony.  This is Todd Bentley, the alcoholic adulterer who’s a sex offender (and he didn’t sexually assault a woman…) who thinks he’s a Seraphim (I DARE you to try to watch that video and make sense of it…I doubt he is a Seraphim, but I’m sure he regularly talks to somebody who used to be one…).  Johnson and the rest of the N.A.R. were an active part of placing Bentley back in the pulpit.

I’m not ashamed to say that Todd Bentley is possibly the Frank Chu of evangelicalism; nobody knows what Bentley is talking about either.  What would you call someone who put this man in a pulpit?  What would you call a group of men who placed a man back in a pulpit after he filled the baptismal with jello, slapped a visitor and played “chubby bunny” with the communion wafers in front of the whole church?


4b.  Banning Liebscher, Jesus Culture, and prophetess Kim Walker Smith are from Bethel.  Seeing that Bill Johnson is Banning’s and Kim’s pastor, and Bethel is the church from which Jesus Culture started, there is a highly limited content that could have possibly been poured into those individuals and that movement.

“Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” – James 3:11

Does a prosperity gospel church produce an authentic movement of Jesus?  Not for a second.

I could post a bunch of links to stuff, but I’d recommend checking out Chris Rosborough over at Fighting for the Faith as he follows these  guys and has a far bit more stuff on them at his fingertips.  I’d recommend searching through his archives for information on all those people/movements; he has more than a few gems that prove that truth is stranger than fiction.

5.  Cindy Jacobs.  I’ve already documented a bunch on her in this post that basically gives you enough to throw her soundly under the bus.  She’s basically a voodoo priestess who works in the name of Jesus:

6.  Lou Engle.  Lou Engle runs The Call, an “apostolic” renewal ministry that basically fills stadiums hyping up young people for prayer and “renewal” (which is basically the same thing that the Charismatic movement has been doing for the last 40 years, but when everything flops and some of the leaders get disqualified from ministry, those surviving leaders regroup, change the name, and keep selling the same rotten fruit to a new generation of well-intentioned young people).

On their “Million Voices” page (the links page to supported ministries), there’s links to:

6a. Various IHOP ministries

6b. Jesus Culture

6c.  The Teaching Library of Derek Prince, known for being one of the 4 creators of the horrible Shepherding Movement (which is where the “touch not the Lord’s anointed” talk began), as well as being a prosperity gospel heretic.  Here he talks about how he was healed from “the demon of cancer“.  Here he talks about generational curses.  Here he comments about physical healing and the laying on of hands.  Here he comments that the Bible brings physical health.  Here he articulates the principles of the prosperity gospel – Part 1, Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.  Derek Prince was a soft spoken wolf, but a wolf none the less.

6d. The Luke 18 Project. (which is a prayer movement that has a school of prayer; the purpose of which is to evangelize the world in order to initiate the second coming, and also offers a 9 month program that simply involves sending people to IHOP); none of which would be remotely close to anything that any biblically informed believer would endorse.

Lou Engle  also runs the Ekballo House of Prayer (the Ekballo House of Prayer’s “about us” story is one giant word study fallacy suggesting rather strongly that Lou Engle doesn’t know Greek enough to actually read it, let alone use it effectively), JHOP (Justice House of Prayer, which has an interesting “about us” page).  Engle proudly endorses and aligns himself with the worst hacks and heretics in evangelicalism.

7.  Rick Joyner – Rick is the pastor of Morningstar Fellowship Church, (Morningstar Ministries).  I don’t know really what to say about Joyner; I mean, he’s the guy who discipled Todd Bentley and restored him to ministry (read – greatest lack of discernment in history), and Joyner, Bentley and Reinhard Bonnke are headlining a conference that is predicted to be “the greatest move of God in history”…seriously, watch the video on the sidebar (wasn’t the death of Christ or the outpouring of the Spirit “in history”?).  Any guy who thinks that Todd Bentley (you know, the previously mentioned X-Men team member whose power is “smelling cancer” and is married to this “prophetess“) is an authentic prophet is, well, really hard to take serious.  I’d offer more resources on Joyner but he’s so utterly mind-melting that even I cannot stomach his theological nonsense for more than a few seconds…well okay, I’ll give you something: this is one of his church healing services (you might remember Jason Hooper from the previous Todd Bentley video (you know, the Seraphim?).

The Holy Ghost Hokie Pokie?  In Church?  Seriously?


I’m actually more edified by this.

No, really.

Less entertained, but far more edified.

So the N.A.R. and the N.A.R. associated folks are the most popular and most destructive component of the modern charismatic movement, but they’re essentially peddling the same old, burned out, “forget even trying to find it in the white spaces” prosperity gospel heresy with new graphics, new faces, and new music.

“Same old”?


There’s nothing new about the N.A.R. except the rhetoric, faces and exterior packaging.  Going back to this article, all the components listed as distinctives of the N.A.R. were around long before the N.A.R. and are embraced by other charismatic streams that would utterly reject the N.A.R.;

Apostolic governance?  Nothing new there.

The office of prophet? Nothing new there.

Dominionism? Nothing new there.

A theocracy? Nothing new there.

Extra-biblical revelation? Nothing new there.

Supernatural signs and wonders? Nothing new there.

It’s all stuff that Jim and Tammy Baker were peddling back in the 1980’s.  Remember what happened to Jim Baker when he had 10 years alone to read his Bible and evaluate his prosperity theology?  He came out of prison and immediately wrote this.  Jim Baker is right, but nobody is listening.

The N.A.R. is the next wave after the third wave, and I’d suggest that anyone with any biblical sense should not be trying to ride this wave either.


In a secondary and more personal note, I have heard that some of the N.A.R. people have become popular among certain churches in Western Canada; churches that should absolutely, positively know better than to endorse the very wolves that Jesus warned the church about.  If any of the leadership in your church are getting into Jesus Culture, Bill Johnson, Peter Wagner, IHOP or any of the N.A.R. stuff, that’s a hint that it’s time to challenge your pastor(s) to take a way closer look at the the N.A.R. and pray that they come to their senses.

Christ will not stand by while his bride gets punched in the face by the ones who are supposed to be her attendants.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Beware the Wolves in Goats’ Clothing” Unger

35 thoughts on “A Charismatic Primer Part 1- The New Apostolic Reformation

    • Well, as musicians, they’re first rate. They’re good players and great songwriters, and they’re popular for a reason.

      I don’t really have anything against Jesus Culture so much, seeing that they’re partially just the product of their bad church.

      I definitely enjoy their music though. Chris Quilala is an amazing vocalist. It honestly really saddens me to see people who were most likely well gifted and having good intentions being snared into false teaching.

      • What’s wrong with Jesus Culture? Both Kim and Chris are leading people to Jesus. Nobody is perfect. Not even you or me. Not even Menno or Calvin or Balthasar Hubmaier. Teachings are important, yes, but most what important is what’s in your heart:


        • Jesus Culture may lead people to someone named “Jesus”, but it’s not the same person I’m talking about. Jesus Culture is an official extension of a prosperity gospel church that preaches a false gospel.

          There’s a colossal difference between being imperfect and being incorrect. It’s the difference between getting 97% on a math test due to missing one calculation and getting a 0% due to handing in an essay about your various holiday experiences for each question.

          Menno, Calvin, Hubmaier, etc. are all imperfect. You betcha. I don’t have any blinders about Menno, despite the handle “Mennoknight”. Menno was a creature limited by his lack of education and historical framework, and I stand on the shoulders of the work he did and hope to reach far higher.

          If the most important thing is the heart, then am I wrong for addressing their teaching and are you right for correcting me? Doesn’t the very fact that you’re correcting me mean that you don’t actually believe the very words that you say?

        • “Menno was a creature limited by his lack of education and historical framework”. I agree. And that’s the same story with Kim and Chris. They started up as youngsters in a church where the pastor preach the false gospel “Jesus Died Spiritually”. JDS is false doctrine, but very few preachers really fight it.

          Dear brother, let us not be like the Pharisees, that think they are better than others. When all come to the end, we have nothing more than the faith in Jesus and his precious blood.

        • Menno abandoned his false religion and embraced the gospel. Did Kim and Chris abandon their false teaching and embrace the gospel?

          If so, why are they working alongside a demonstrable false teacher like Bill Johnson? It looks more like they went from one brand of heresy to another.

          And do you know why JDS isn’t fought by many preachers? It’s a heresy exclusive to charismatic churches and few competent theologians exist in charismatic circles. The guys who I remember bring the most articulate and educated were always the false teachers.

        • There are genuine charismatic churches and there are false ones. And also a mix, somewhere. Much of the false based on Hagins and Ekmans teachings. But now Ekmans movement are breaking up, because Ekman and his family convert back to Catholic Church !!!

          But please tell me 2 things: When did Jesus or the disciples stop pray for healing?

          And when did Jesus stop baptizing with holy Spirit and fire?

          Don’t deny the power of God.

        • Jesus never prayed for healing. Not once. The apostles didn’t either. You may wanna read you bible a little more closely.

          Jesus has baptized with the Holy Spirit but not with fire yet. You assume the meaning of “baptism of fire” but it is not what you think it is.

          Now can you maybe answer some of my questions instead of dodging/ignoring them? It’s only polite in dialogue.

      • Ok, friend, one last answer from me.
        (Because I like Balthasar Hubmaier, my favourite martyr).

        1. You have the right to criticize their teachings, but not condemn them as false Christians. That’s up to God himself. I try to give you positive feedback, because I once was in the same pit: <>. Nobody is 100 percent perfect. I’m afraid you are a Pharisee, just as I was before.

        2. Kim and Chris should break up from wrong doctrine, yes. The JDS and “proclaiming business”. I hope God is patient with them, they are still young.

        3. I know some preachers fighting the JDS doctrine. Most of them are connected to the Pentacostal movement.

        4. Jesus never prayed for healing, that’s correct. But the apostles did, and also apostle Paul did.
        James 5, 14 Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
        15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up;

        5. Peter experienced that also gentiles could receive the baptism in the holy Spirit.

        Acts 10: 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
        45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
        46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
        47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

        Hebrews 13: Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

        9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace…

        God Bless.

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  13. Without wanting to add fire to this conversation, I find it difficult to understand how a person who believes in a false teaching can be a true christian. Can you be a Mormon and be a true christian? Can you be Jehovah witness and be a true christian? Can you believe in the prosperity gospel and their distorted views on God and the Deity of Jesus and still be an authentic christian? I think my answer would be No?

    Would have the Apostle Paul let the Greeks continue to worship their Idols without preaching the one and true God and His gospel. He even told them that they where worshiping in ignorance. They worshiped the unknown god. They had made a god of their own imagination. And that my friends is very dangerous. But that is what is happening in mainstream Christianity if we can call it true Christianity.

    We have to serve the one true God under his commands and requirements not under our imagination of who we think he is while that is not true worship.

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  16. Mennoknight,
    How can you claim that the apostles NEVER prayed for the sick?

    Acts 9:40 King James Version (KJV)
    40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

    Acts 28:8 King James Version (KJV)
    8 And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.

    I know this is not a ‘slip of the scripture’ as Cessationism actively teach that apostolic miracles were wrought on demand without prayers. One guy went as far as claiming that now God only heals on ‘Providence’ as if there was a time He healed outside ‘Providence’.

    Apostles prayed and miracles happened. Note the first example happens early and very close to Pentecost. So power had not ‘diminished’ as you suggested elsewhere as the reason for Paul’s counsel on wine ‘towards the end of his ministry’ pointing to apostolic gifts ceasing

    • Because the Scripture doesn’t suggest so…including the two texts you provided.

      Acts 9:40 isn’t someone praying for the sick, if words matter. It’s a resurrection, and I’m fine with you attempting to do that. I’d use 9:37-39 as a guide; Dorcas had been dead for hours and hours as her body had already been prepared. She didn’t turn blue in a worship service and the evidence of her death wasn’t exclusively testimonial.

      Feel free to try to copy something like that. We both know how that sort of challenge consistently turns out for you guys…if we’re being honest.

      That leaves you Acts 28:8.

      Paul came in, prayed, laid bands on him, and healed him.

      What did Paul pray for?

      The text doesn’t say.

      So why would we think that Paul prayed a “dear Lord, please heal this man if it be your will” sort of prayer?

      Why would he go against previous examples of Scripture where someone prayed in a similar situation, like John 11:41-42 where the prayer was a prayer of thanksgiving rather than a supplication for healing or power?

      The fact that the term “prayer” appears doesn’t automatically mean what you assume.

      Also, the first example happened near Pentecost and your second happened at the end of Paul’s ministry, after he hadn’t done anything like that in a long time.

      I’ve never suggested that the power had “diminished”, as if the Lord’s power fades like a battery. The usage of that power was restricted by the Lord who gave it, due to whatever his reasons were for restricting it.

      Your own argument demonstrates the point aptly, thought you don’t see to see it.

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  18. I am reading this a little bit late, I am writing from Colombia South America (it’s Colombia not Columbia) I thank you for this work of research as a former NAR church member I have to admit that your remarks are correct, in this part of the world we get the theological poison of the prosperity preachers and of the NAR teachers (that are just prosperity preachers on steroids) with one aggravating factor and is the comparative lack of resources in spanish, only recently we have come to know the works of solid bible teachers such as R.C Sproul, J Mac and Albert Mohler, south america didn’t receive the blessing of reformed theology as North America did, we were first conquered by catholics and then we received the wave of “charismatic revivals” as a result most of the people in my country think that christian is a synonim to charismatic, the fruit of that is horrible is one of self deception and idolatry people create a golden calf in their imagination as a results of their extra-biblical revelations and end up whorshiping that golden calf, and a golden calf doesn’t save, God in his mercy has blessed us with a revival of reformed theology, may He keep his eye on us and that his gospel shine bright and lead people to salvation, may my country be free of the poison we get from those false teachers.

    • Wow.

      My heart breaks for South America. Having looked into the situation there (just a tiny bit), I see how so many horrible false teachers are running amuck there, soiling the name of Christ.

      I wish I could send people and resources down there, but I lack both. What I WOULD recommend is Gracia a Vostros (http://www.gracia.org/), but I’m sure you already know about that.

      Also, I have a friend who works in Brazil at EBEx – Escola Bíblica da Expositores and another friend who works in Argentina at IDEAR – Instituto De Expositores – Argentina. They’re both online (Facebook and http://www.idearexpositores.com/), and they would have access to lots of resources. I don’t speak Spanish, and don’t know South America AT ALL, but I hope that’s something enough to give you a start in the right direction.

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