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 2, Part 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.
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.
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