By Brannon S. Howse
“Dominion theology” may not be a household term for everyone, but for its adherents, few ideas matter more—and that’s the problem.
Dominion theology is the belief that God gave Adam and Eve a sort of legal authority over the whole earth. The idea derives from Genesis 1:26 and 28, which reads:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”…Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Those committed to dominion theology use these two verses as the foundation and justification for their concept. As Don Koieng points out, however, the dominion interpretation wrongly assumes a legal authority instead of the actual intent that we are to be stewards of the world:
All we really see in this passage is God giving Adam administrative rule over the animals and plants on the earth that God created. Any transfer of legal authority is not implied. The word dominion in this passage is “radah,” which literally means to “tread down” or “master.” To say that this passage gave Adam legal authority over the whole earth contradicts passages in the Bible that paint a clear picture that God created man to be the steward of God’s earth. Scripture does not in any way imply that there was some legal transfer of authority or ownership of the earth from God to man. In the garden, man reported to God and limits were set.
Legal authority implies that God has delegated His authority to man while stewardship suggests that God is still the Master and Owner of the world of which we have been made the managers, a significant distinction. Al Dager in Vengeance Is Ours: The Church in Dominion, outlines the three beliefs that characterize this approach:
Dominion theology is predicated upon three basic beliefs: 1) Satan usurped man’s dominion over the earth through the temptation of Adam and Eve; 2) The Church is God’s instrument to take dominion back from Satan; 3) Jesus cannot or will not return until the Church has taken dominion by gaining control of the earth’s governmental and social institutions.
One of the fastest growing movements—and key promoter of dominion theology—inside evangelicalism is the New Apostolic Reformation, also called the NAR. While not everyone who believes in dominion theology agrees with the NAR Movement (some would even say that many teachings of the NAR are heretical), many who believe in dominion theology gladly partner with NAR in order to accomplish political and culture war objectives.
I have explained to some pro-family leaders, in great detail, the goals of dominion theology and the NAR, yet despite acknowledging that they do not believe in dominion theology or in the heretical teachings of the NAR, they still work with NAR to accomplish mutually held culture war objectives. Let me explain why that is a problem.
The New Apostolic Reformation is an outgrowth of the Latter Rain Movement, the Word of Faith movement that includes the prosperity gospel (also known as “Name It and Claim It”). The full name of the Latter Rain Movement—the New Order of the Latter Rain— is important to note because the movement is fast becoming mainstream and accepted by many within evangelicalism and pro-family circles of the New Religious Right. The New Order of the Latter Rain is helping build the “new order” or “new world order” of the antichrist.
When the antichrist shows up on the world scene, the followers of the New Apostolic Reformation, Word of Faith, New Agers, Mormons, Hindus, and Buddhists will have been well prepared to embrace his message of pagan spirituality and ecumenicalism backed by signs and wonders as described in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.
The Church has been warned about this. In 1949, for example, the General Council of the Assemblies of God USA issued the following declaration when it kicked the Latter Rain Movement out of its denomination:
RESOLVED, That we disapprove of those extreme teachings and practices which, being unfounded Scripturally, serve only to break fellowship of like precious faith and tend to confusion and division among the members of the Body of Christ, and be it hereby known that this 23rd General Council disapproves of the so-called, “New Order of the Latter Rain,” to wit:
1. The overemphasis relative to imparting, identifying, bestowing or confirming gifts by the laying on of hands and prophesy.
2. The erroneous teaching that the church is built upon the foundation of present day apostles and prophets.
3. The extreme teaching as advocated by the “new order” regarding the confession of sin to man and deliverance as practiced, which claims prerogatives to human agency which belong only to Christ.
4. The erroneous teaching concerning the impartation of the gift of languages as special equipment for missionary service.
5. The extreme and unscriptural practice imparting or imposing personal leading by the means of utterance.
6. Such other wrestings and distortions of Scripture, interpretations which are in opposition to teachings and practices generally accepted among us.
Today, offspring of the Latter Rain movement, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), has become mainstream within many church denominations and is eaglerly embraced even by non-pentecostal or non-charismatic “Christians” and leaders of the New Religious Right.
Some modern-day forerunners of the NAR include televangelists Pat Robertson and Oral Roberts. In its current manifestation, the New Apostolic Reformation pursues the goals I outline below. (As you read what I have to say about the NAR, please do not confuse the New Apostolic Reformation with Reconstructionists that also embrace dominion theology. Many Reconstructionists would join me in objecting to the heretical theology of the New Apostolic Reformation.)
(1) The New Apostolic Reformation believes the primary purpose of the Church is to take back dominion of the earth from Satan and to build and establish a physical Kingdom of God on earth.
In the last chapter, I quoted David Rockefeller, Jr., but it bears repeating in the context of this discussion of NAR. Rockefeller said:
Would that I had the power to bring to your minds the vision as it unfolds before me! I see all denominational emphasis set aside….I see the church molding the thought of the world as it has never done before, leading in all great movements as it should. I see it literally establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.
The dominion theology crowd, the New Apostolic Reformation, and the globalists all want to create God’s Kingdom on earth. For a globalist like the late David Rockefeller, that really means the establishment of a New World Order based on communitarianism. This, however, has not stopped the globalists and NAR crowd from using each other for their own objectives.
Adherents to dominion theology and the New Apostolic Reformation believe they must establish the Kingdom of God on earth before Christ can return. This is completely unbiblical thinking, as Jesus Himself declares in John 18:36:
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Christians are to build God’s Kingdom, but that takes place in the spiritual realm as we preach the Gospel and as people are added spiritually to the Kingdom of God. We are not called to build a physical kingdom here on earth. The building of a physical kingdom has more in common with globalism than it does with biblical Christianity.
The false church—what Revelation 17 refers to as “the woman that rides the beast”— will work with globalists toward their common goal of building a kingdom on earth, and any Christians that speak against social justice, social gospel, dominion theology, New World Order, and global governance will be declared the enemy.
C. Peter Wagner, who originally came to prominence for his studies of church growth, is one of the leaders and founders of the New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner’s influence in developing the NAR is even documented by National Public Radio: “The international ‘apostolic and prophetic’ movement has been dubbed by its leading American architect, C. Peter Wagner, as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).” While not all of today’s “prophets” and “apostles” are part of Wagner’s NAR, they often embrace many of the same heretical beliefs.
In a letter posted online in May 2007, Wagner declared:
Our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology. This means that our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God’s creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden.
Reports from the Arise Prophetic Conference in October 2004 indicate Wagner declared there that the church needs to form a government in order to overthrow the government of Satan:
See, the problem is, is that Satan has had too much of his way in our society because he has a government! And the only way to overthrow a government is with a government. It won’t happen otherwise. So therefore the government of the church has to get into place in the extended church just like we do have it very well in place; we haven’t reached our goal yet, but it’s very well established in the nuclear church. ... These apostles in the workplace are the ones that are going to come into the picture and with them we’ll be opening these gates; without them we can have all the prayer meetings we want, all the marches for Jesus we want, all the prayer walking we want, the gates aren’t going to be opened. Because it takes a government to overthrow a government. Gate number one, letter A, the gate of social transformation, the gate of social transformation.... This gate will be opened when we understand about the church in the workplace, that the church has a government, that it takes a government to overthrow a government, and when we understand this, if we renew our minds, if we embrace this paradigm shift, if we see, if we hear what the spirit is saying to the churches, if we recognize ministry in the extended church and government in the extended church, the revival we’ve been praying for is just around the corner. We will see it....And now I pray for every individual here, before you, who is in the workplace, who tomorrow and in the days to come will be going out to their ministries in the workplace, and I impart to them an anointing, I impart to them an anointing for not seeing a job, but seeing a ministry in the workplace. And I impart an anointing to them and to this whole community to recognize and raise up apostles who will set the church in the workplace in order so that our cities, our communities, our states, and our nations will be transformed for Your glory, in Jesus’ name.
In order to take dominion back from Satan, the NAR and Word of Faith teach that Satan must be bound. Thus, the NAR and Word of Faith run around the globe holding prayer and fasting services in their attempts to bind Satan and take dominion neighborhood by neighborhood, town by town, city by city, state by state, and nation by nation.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Wagner explained the strategy of spiritual mapping and binding of demons:
When you talk about demons over cities, we’re talking about what — sometimes what we refer to as territorial spirits, and they’re more high-ranking spirits in the hierarchy of darkness and they’re more powerful and they require different approaches, and it’s not as easy as commanding them to leave in the name of Jesus. So sometimes there has to be repentance, sometimes there has to be — there has been bloodshed in that city that needs to be repented of, there has been idolatry in the city that has ruined the land. There’s been immorality that needs to be repented of, and there are several social things that people really need to acknowledge that they’re bad and repent of them and ask forgiveness. ... There are certain individuals in our whole movement that have special gifts for doing that, and they’re helping lead the way in weakening the power of the spirits. We don’t believe we can kill demons and sometimes we don’t believe we can completely get ’em out, get ’em away from a city, but we can reduce their power. We can bind them, and then we can move strongly with the kingdom of God into the city.
To justify this “binding of Satan,” the NAR and Word of Faith often use Matthew 16:19 and 18:18. They use them, however, out of context to maintain their teaching that Jesus’ words have anything to do with people “binding Satan.” Matthew 16:18 reads: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” And Matthew 18:19: “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19 and 18:18 have nothing to do with binding Satan but, rather, are talking about church discipline. The verses teach that if church leadership declares someone is bound by sin and their declaration is in accord with what the Bible describes as sin, then heaven agrees with that assessment. If the individual that is bound in sin repents as described in the Word of God, then heaven agrees with that as well. These verses describe how church leaders can determine if someone is forgiven and has repented of a sinful practice or lifestyle or if he or she is still in sin.
The NAR and Word of Faith also use Luke 11:21-22 and Matthew 12:28-29 out of context to justify their binding of Satan. Again, the NAR and Word of Faith are demonic religious systems built on Satan’s number one scheme, which is to distort the Word of God. So, we should not be surprised that NAR and Word of Faith leaders are constantly doing just that by taking Scripture out of context—particularly these verses I’ve cited. First, it is important to understand that in both Matthew and Luke, Jesus is the One casting out demons. The NAR and Word of Faith are notorious for believing they can do whatever Jesus or the Apostles and prophets did while here on earth—which is a lie and, ultimately, blasphemy to claim to be able to do the work of God incarnate.
Luke 11:21-22 reads:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.
And Matthew 12:28-29 says:
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
In context, these verses describe Satan as the strong man and Jesus Christ as the stronger man. Jesus defeated—or bound—Satan through His death, burial and resurrection. Colossians 2:13-15 speaks of this:
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Hebrews 2: 14-15 speaks of the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ who freed us from the bondage of sin and death and defeated Satan:
Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
In Jude 9 we read where Michael the archangel did not attempt to “bind” Satan nor engage him in an argument:
Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Satan is on a leash held by God Himself. Our rightful response to Satan is found in James 4:7-8:
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
A better translation of “submit to God” is to be “lined up under” His authority. God is our defender and protect when we follow His will and His authority. A better translation of “resist” is to “take your stand.” Notice, however, that we only take our stand after we lining up under God. Once we have lined up, living in obedience to God and His Word, then we can take our stand knowing that greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.
To “draw near to God” is to take seriously our relationship with Him through prayer and the study of His Word. It is through God’s Word that we conform our lives to His will and deepen our relationships with Him as we submit every area of our lives to His Lordship. There is protection from Satan when we are under God’s authority and living in His will.
Notice that 2 Peter 2:9-12 tells us false teachers who rail against demons are foolishly doing what even the angels, who are more powerful than demons, will not do:
[T]hen the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
The lesson to be learned here is that the NAR, Word of Faith, and other purveyors of false teaching are highly skilled at taking Scripture out of context to build their demonic, self-serving, humanistic worldview. Truthful teachers know that we must always study the Scriptures in context and use the Word of God as our chief weapon to destroy arguments raised up against the principles of the Lord (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Sadly, even the National Day of Prayer organization founded by Shirley Dobson seems to have be influenced by Word of Faith and NAR teachings. The National Day of Prayer website, under the heading “Why pray?”, notes:
Warfare: (Psalm 149:6-9). This is prayer directed against the powers of darkness. Our praises to God are also a weapon directed against the powers of darkness (demons, fallen angels who are at work in the affairs of the world and the church). We pronounce against them the written judgment by reading the Scriptures of judgment against them (Psalm 149:9), we command them to be bound or to leave their positions of influence or authority in the name of Jesus. (Matthew 16:19; Mark 16:17). [emphasis mine]
Notice the scripture given for the unbiblical activity of railing against demons is the often-misused Matthew 16:19. The verse is about church discipline and has nothing to do with Satan or demons. Mark 16:17 refers to casting out demons and, when considered in context, is clearly written about the apostolic community. It is not a gift or power given to all Christians in all ages. A common mistake made by the undiscerning, those who do not read Scripture in context, or are not skilled in the Word is to believe that the gifts of the early church expressed in the book of Acts apply to all believers today.
The “Why Pray?” section of the National Day of Prayer website also says:
We need to pray because it is necessary for men to invite God to act in salvation. God gave the earth to Adam and his descendants. We must invite God to work here. If noone invites God to work here, Satan (the god of this world through man’s universal rebellion—2 Corinthians 4:4) will dominate the affairs of men and eventually the judgment of God will come. By inviting God often and specifically, multitudes can be saved that would otherwise be lost.
This is 100 percent false! Nowhere in the Word of God do we read that “it is necessary for men to invite God to act in salvation” in order to save people. Neither do we see that salvation has anything to do with man beating back Satan’s dominion.
This unbiblical teaching by the National Day of Prayer organization should not come as a surprise if you notice that website lists among its board of references Paul Crouch of the heretical Trinity Broadcasting Network. Wallbuilders’ David Barton is also listed on the website as a member of the board of reference. Barton, when he was a guest on the television program of false teacher Kenneth Copeland, declared that sometimes our prayers can be delayed from reaching heaven for 21 days. Citing Daniel as his justification for his thesis, Barton declares:
And I can tell this in the U.S. Capitol. When I walk from the House side to the Senate side, I cross the middle line of the Capitol; I can feel a different principality because they have jurisdictions over different things. And there are principalities that sit over different government entities that cause them to think really goofy and you can’t get prayers through, they get delayed twenty-one days because the principalities are up there fighting in the Heavenlies.
Because we’re not fighting flesh and blood. And if you don’t understand this is a spiritual battle, and if you don’t understand there are really big principalities and powers sitting over places of power, whether it be banking, or education. There’s principalities that sit over schools to keep those kids from getting knowledge, there’s principalities that sit over financial institutions. They sit over households. That’s why you have principalities in powers, that gradation, you have the corporals, and you have the sergeants, and you have the lieutenants, the captains and the generals, and the generals have a bigger principality and those little corporals may have control over the house but it’s a spiritual battle.
It’s a spiritual battle and we’ll never win until we understand that.
Reading the scripture in context reveals that David Barton is wrong to declare the prayers of beleivers are sometimes delayed 21 days because “principalities are up there fighting in the Heavenlies.” Daniel 10:12-14 does not say that Daniel’s prayer was delayed reaching heaven for 21 days but that his prayer was heard from the first day but the angle was delayed 21 days in coming to Daniel:
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision refers to many days yet to come.” [emphasis mine]
If Barton cannot read the Scriptures in context and exegete an accurate meaning of the text and if he cannot see from the doctrinal fruit of Glenn Beck that he is not a born-again Christian, we can hardly rely on Barton to accurately interpret the worldview of America’s founding fathers.
But let’s dig even a little deeper. Additional NDP board of reference members include C. Peter Wagner and Rick Warren. The website also lists as a member of the NDP’s national advisory committee Bishop Harry Jackson, a NAR favorite, whom the Christian Post quotes in an August 29, 2011 article: “He [Jackson] said many of the people and groups considered to be under the NAR umbrella are simply seeking to be ‘light and salt’ in their communities…”
In addition, the National Day of Prayer lists GodTV, known for broadcasting popular Word of Faith false teachers, as a ministry partner,. According to ABC News, in 2008 GodTV broadcast NAR “prophet” Todd Bentley’s Lakeland, Florida revival. This is the same Todd Bentley who was installed as a “prophet” by C. Peter Wagner in a service that can still be viewed on the internet.
I have been concerned for several years with the theological leanings of both NDP founder Shirley Dobson and her husband. In 2008, Shirley Dobson appeared on The Hour of Power with Robert Schuller in her capacity as chairperson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. She concluded her appearance by saying to him, “Thank you, thank you Dr. Schuller. God bless you and the good work you’re doing here.”
What “good work” is that, leading millions of people to hell with a false gospel? Do the Dobsons agree with the heretical theology of Pastor Schuller? In early 2008, H.B. London, Dr. Dobson’s cousin and vice president of outreach/pastoral ministries for Focus on the Family at the time, spoke for the Re-think Conference hosted by the Crystal Cathedral, Dr. Schuller, and Emergent Pastor Erwin McManus.
For NDP, such ecumenism is standard procedure. At the start of the 2008 National Day of Prayer, Rabbi Bruce Lustig prayed this broad brush prayer:
As we stand in this historic place, ready to begin our 57th National Day of Prayer, we turn to the Psalms and know that the Psalmist knew the power of prayer, the indispensable ability of humanity to humbly give thanks to God. When the Psalmist wrote the very words of 28:7, (reads in Hebrew), the eternal is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in God and I am helped. No matter our creed, our color, our income or our status in life, whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, Sikh, Buddhist or Jain, before the Eternal, we are all equal in God’s eyes, we are equal in prayer, for through prayer, God can and will be our strength, and our shield, and our help.
My research reveals that no one at this service corrected the rabbi’s unbiblical and ecuemencial statement.
Besides involvement with the National Day of Prayer, there are other reasons to question the Dobson’s ongoing theological integrity. In 2012, for instance, Shirley Dobson appeared on Glenn Beck’s radio to talk about prayer and God. In the process, she praised Beck for his “great job” and “good work.” Again, how can Beck’s promotion of another Jesus and another gospel be a good work, and why do “evangelical” leaders seem eager to compromise the admonishments of 2 Corinthians 6:14, Romans 16:17, and 2 John 9-11?
In 2008, James and Shirley Dobson joined New Apostolic Reformation personality and assistant pastor at the International House of Prayer, Lou Engle, for “The Call” in San Diego. While the events by Engle may seem like little more than a prayer service, Engle, IHOP, and the NAR are preaching another Jesus and thus, another gospel. Therefore, such events are not only futile and unbiblical but spiritually dangerous.
In March 2012, James Dobson interviewed Lou Engle on his radio program. He praised Engle and his “ministry.” But does Dobson agree with IHOP? Does he accept contemplative prayer and all that is promoted within the New Apostolic Reformation? Is Dobson not offended by the fact that the NAR and groups like IHOP are blaspheming the Holy Ghost? I have spent countless hours of radio and television time, and now this entire book, warning the Church that we had better be very careful who we’re listening to. Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean they’re right.
Some of the world’s most prominent “evangelical” and pro-family leaders have become some of the biggest potential threats to true Bible-believing churches simply because they’re giving credibility to false teachers. You may wonder why I don’t have any tolerance for this anymore. It is because I have personally warned many of these people about what is happening. Do they not have search engines on their computers? A quick web search reveals countless articles by credible and biblically-based organizations detailing the hertetical teachings of Engle, IHOP, Schuller, and the NAR. There is no excuse for aligning with such false teachers in today’s information age. So the big question is: why do so many “Christian” leaders unite with false teachers?
One pro-family leader defended his organization’s participation with false teachers by declaring that his is not a theological organization. This statement alone reveals the leader’s degree of spiritual deception. A person’s view of God makes up his or her theology. Individuals and organizations live out their theology whether they believe this is the case or not. Would this pro-family leader dare send out a letter to the thousands of Christians on his mailing list and declare that his organization is not interested in theology? It appears to me that many pro-family groups love to talk about God and getting America back to Him, but if building a bigger mailing list, a bigger following, and more donors means uniting with the enemies of God and His Word, they quickly cease to be an organization interested in theology and biblical values.
If embracing false teachers is how you reclaim the culture I don’t want to be a part of it. Besides, there is no reclaiming the culture apart from God. Romans 1 explains that compromise and uniting with those who embrace and promote pagan spirituality is how you destroy a culture and speed up God’s judgment. When God finally brings judgment upon America, I believe you will be able to point to some of America’s favorite “evangelical” and pro-family leaders and say, “you and your organizations are as responsible, if not more responsible, for the Divine judgment on our nation than any secular company or organization in America, because you gave credibility and rise to Satan’s number one tool—false teachers—to wage war against Satan’s number one earlthy advesary, the true Church.”
(2) The New Apostolic Reformation believes in the promotion of a social gospel and social justice instead of biblical evangelization of the lost.
As you recall, “social justice” is a buzz word of progressives, socialists, and communists. And when social justice, dominion theology, universalism, and other religious terminology are intertwined, you end up with a social gospel. Wagner reflects just this sort of mixture: “Warfare prayer is not an end in itself, but a means of opening the way for the Kingdom of God to come, not only in evangelism, but also in social justice and material sufficiency.” When the NAR speaks about the Great Commission, it does not mean evangelizing the unbeliever but rather, awakening the Church to the need to take back the culture and establish God’s Kingdom on earth.
(3) The New Apostolic Reformation promotes ecumenicalism.
The NAR and those committed to dominion theology are willing to work with any and all religions to bring about the implementation of “kingdom values.” This is one reason I have a problem with people like Richard Land and Rick Warren engaging in interfaith dialogues and initiatives or building bridges of mutual respect and understanding with Mormons, Muslims, and other false religions on cultural issues. You cannot separate cultural issues from theology and doctrine.
(4) The New Apostolic Reformation is committed to a communitarian philosophy that seeks to bring the Church, the government, and corporations into an equal partnership in solving world problems and bringing about global peace and stability.
This communitarian philosophy is not only proclaimed by the NAR but also by Rick Warren, and the common thread here is Peter Wagner. He is not only the founder of the New Apostolic Reformation but also one of the founders of the mega-church or seeker-sensitive movement. Wagner is listed as Rick Warren’s “advisor/mentor” for the doctoral thesis he wrote while at Fuller Theological Seminary. Warren has also been influenced by Peter Drucker as well as Wagner.
The three-legged stool of Peter Drucker, C. Peter Wagner, and Rick Warren is embraced by the NAR. The NAR believes God has and will give financially successful businesses to Christian men not only so they can take over their specific fields for the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom but also that they might use their wealth to fund the projects and initiatives of NAR. This helps explain why the NAR is so flush with cash. Are businessmen giving to the NAR, thinking this is how they can get God to increase their financial bottom lines?
(5) The New Apostolic Reformation believes the Great Commission is not primarily about biblical evangelism and discipleship but about awakening Christians to their need to take back dominion over the earth and establish God’s Kingdom on earth.
Dale Neill, as president of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce, put the message of the Gospel in NAR terms:
The Church must grow past the “Gospel of Salvation” message and understand that it is only when we begin to implement the principles of the “Gospel of the kingdom” that we will really begin to see change in lives and cities and nations. The Church has no understanding of this realm….The Church must grow up.
So we need to get “past the Gospel of Salvation” and go to the “Gospel of the kingdom”? Please understand what they mean by preaching the gospel, or the Gospel of the kingdom, or by taking dominion, or by Great Commission. Their definitions of these terms would not fit with that of most evangelical Christians.
The NAR is not really interested in the preaching of the Gospel. I’ve heard many of these folks speak, and very rarely, if ever, have I heard them offer the biblical Gospel. What I have heard over and over is this emphasis on Christians getting involved in the culture war.
In January 1987, Robert Crabtree was a district superintendent in Ohio for the Assemblies of God. Pastor Crabtree put out a report to the pastors in his district that featured this warning about the dangers of dominion theology:
Kingdom Now teachers have redefined the Gospel which requires re-evangelizing the church without an emphasis upon Jesus Christ. Salvation moves one from the kingdom of sin to the Kingdom Now of Christ on earth. This new kingdom is being built by waking up the professing Christians rather than reaching the lost. These renewed Christians are to seek control of the earth and assume stewardship responsibilities of the material world.
(This quote is not meant as an endorsement of Robert Crabtree, because I don’t know what else he’s up to or what else he has said and written, but I do agree with what he says in this report. I also appreciate the fact that, at least in 1987, he warned the pastors under his organizational care to steer clear of dominion theology.)
Another key Assembly of God pastor, George Wood, has also cautioned against dominion theology. As of the writing of this book, he is the General Secretary for the Assemblies of God, and as far back as the 1980s he had the foresight to put out a warning about the proponents of dominion theology (again, this is not an endorsement of Pastor Wood or whatever else he’s written or said). He cautioned that dominion theology wrongly suggests that “The Church would have a larger mission than that of proclaiming personal salvation through Christ…. The political, social, and economic systems of nations and cultures would need to be ‘Christianized’”....
Peter Wagner demonstrates the rightness of Wood’s caution elsewhere in Wagner’s 2007 online letter about the need for the Church to shape the culture through what he calls the “seven mountain mandate”:
In my view it is not possible to get an operational handle on how to initiate corporate action toward social transformation without taking into account the seven mountains or what I like to call “molders of culture.” The seven are religion, family, business, arts & entertainment, government, education, and media. Which leads us to the second stage of the goal of transformation, namely corporate or social transformation. We want to see whole cities and regions and states and nations transformed to support the values of the kingdom of God.
How about having the cities and towns transformed by the preaching of the Gospel, not just “values of the kingdom”? We should not be interested in people simply being moralized. It’s not enough to “moralize” the unsaved world. It makes no sense to expect the unsaved, pagan world to act in any other manner than in an unsaved, pagan manner. John MacArthur has it right when he says:
It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.
Living a life of good works is not going to keep anyone from hell.
Attempting to legislate a city, state, or nation into righteousness is a wasted effort that will yield no eternal rewards. That doesn’t mean we should do away with laws against murder, rape, stealing, and fraud. Romans 13 tells us that the purpose of government is to reward the righteous and punish the wicked. God created civil government for the purpose of maintaining a stable and just society so the other two institutions God created—the family and the Church—could go about their respective biblical mandates. Cities, states, and nations need laws. Some Christians have, and I pray will continue to have, a godly impact in government as individuals. But collectively, the Church needs to realize how foolish it is to spend so much time and money trying to force our biblical values onto an unsaved culture.
The way to produce a change in any culture is to preach the Gospel. It is only as individuals place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior that people are changed, families are changed, values are changed, and thus communities and cultures are changed. You cannot change a culture simply by fighting the symptoms of a depraved and sinful culture. A culture reflects the values embraced by the people living in a city, state, or nation, and until you change an individual’s values, you will not change a culture with legislation or moralizing. A person’s actions are based on his or her values, those values are based on the person’s worldview, and that worldview consists of his or her theology, philosophy, ethics, etc.
The unsaved humanist is not going to change his or her values until the worldview based on a theology that denies the God of the Bible is changed. That means the goal of the NAR to legislate “kingdom values” through the seven mountain mandate is a waste of time and money. Preaching a biblical Gospel, on the other hand, is never a waste of time and money.
I believe many of the NAR members fail to preach the Gospel simply because they themselves are not saved. They are false teachers. They do not dare preach a biblical Gospel because they want to work with all the world’s religions to establish their own version of the Kingdom of God on earth, and it is hard to get invited to speak at Mormon or Muslim conferences if you insist on preaching the Gospel of Christ.
This idea that NAR can establish the Kingdom of God on earth reeks of arrogance. It also reeks of a power grab—that “we’re gonna take control, gonna be in power, we’re gonna tell ’em how to run the world.” It reeks of a humanism that is really believes it can control God, that God is dependent on them in order for Christ to return. This might be shocking except that the NAR has some strong New Age, cosmic humanist ideals.
The seven mountain mandate is eerily similar to the goals laid out by occultist Alice Bailey. Bailey claimed that her personal demon, the Tibetan, was a member of a group of Ascended Masters which “each have a special contribution to make towards human progress in one of the seven major fields of world work: political, religious, educational, scientific, philosophical, psychological or economic.” Notice the similarity between those seven fields and Wagner’s seven mountains of “religion, family, business, arts & entertainment, government, education, and media”?
(6) The New Apostolic Reformation has a radical commitment to electing so-called Christians to public office in order to establish a Christian government, or theocracy, for God’s Kingdom on earth.
In the March 2000 issue of Despatch Magazine, W. Howard reported that “Wagner is awaiting a ‘critical mass’ of Christians to arise to take over the political systems of the world.”
Do you see anywhere in the Bible that we’re to rise and take over the political systems of the world, and that once we do this, Christ can return? No. Please understand that I am not saying people should not run for elected office. I am not saying people should not go vote. What I am saying is that the first priority of Christians is to proclaim the Gospel. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
(7) Members and leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation promote pagan spirituality.
Another characteristic of the NAR crowd is the promotion of pagan spiritual practices, such as contemplative prayer. Members of the NAR claim that contemplative prayer allows them to access new revelations from God and that these revelations are equal to the Word of God. Many NAR members embrace the occultism of walking a prayer labyrinth, and many of them are actively talking to what I believe are demons, even though they claim the beings are angels. Whether it is called contemplative prayer, breath prayers, centering prayers, or soaking prayers, it is nothing less than transcendental meditation. Transcendental meditation or contemplative prayer is a form of self-hypnosis.
Again, Alice Bailey seems to understand how this will work:
The spiritual Hierarchy [demons] of the planet, the ability of mankind to contact its Members and to work in cooperation with Them, and the existence of the greater Hierarchy of spiritual energies of which our tiny planetary sphere is a part—these are the three truths upon which the coming world religion may be based.
C. Peter Wagner has openly spoken of the “new” revelation they claim NAR prophets and apostles are receiving from God:
Pentecostal theologians have made the helpful suggestion of distinguishing the logos word of God from the rhema word of God.... The rhema is regarded as a more immediate word from God which we do not find in the 66 books of the Bible.
As I will explain further in the next chapter, God does not give extra-biblical revelation. He is not audibly speaking to these false prophets and apostles. So that raises the question: just who are they hearing from? I believe many of these false teachers are fooling around with the occult whether they know it or not and are accepting the doctrines of demons. First Timothy 4:1 tells us that the increase in people following the doctrines of demons is a sign that we are living in the last days: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
In his 1980s warning to the Church, George Wood picked up on this same dangerous direction in NAR teachings, pointing out the errant belief that:
The Church could no longer rely solely on written Scripture for doctrine. It would have to develop the five-fold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, from whom the Church could learn rulership. These new “apostles” and “prophets” words would be obeyed and not judged or tested by the Church. The door would be open to ongoing revelation through which God would reveal components of His will and ways not found in the Bible.
(8) The New Apostolic Reformation believes prophets and apostles are for today.
The next chapter covers this topic in detail, and I will reveal from the Word of God why prophets and apostles are not for today, yet this is the position of NAR:
The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit that is changing the shape of Christianity globally….The Lord is establishing the foundations of the Church for the new millennium. This foundation is built upon apostles and prophets. Apostles execute and establish God’s plan on the earth. The time to convene a conference of the different apostolic prophetic streams across this nation is now! This conference will cause the Body to understand God’s “new” order for this coming era. We look forward to having you with us in Brisbane in Feb 2000.
Notice the invitation says “this conference will cause the Body to understand God’s new order for this coming era.” The NAR promotes a new order, an idea compatible with globalists like the Rockefellers and their friends at the Council on Foreign Relations. I contend they are all working for the same order, for the same kingdom—a New World Order that will be Satan’s kingdom based on humanism and his lies. But take hope: Daniel 2:44 assures us that God will crush Satan’s kingdom.
Wagner and his NAR friends are not prophets or apostles, and they are not building God’s kingdom. Although I could quote many different Bible teachers, here is John MacArthur’s explanation of why we do not have prophets today:
They were a temporary group, as they were temporary earlier. You know the prophets were only around till the Old Testament Canon was closed and...bang...when it was closed they were gone. [There] aren’t any prophets for the 400-year period after the Old Testament. As soon as the New Testament is to be written, prophets appear again, and as soon as the New Testament is complete...bang...prophets are gone. There aren’t any prophets today because the Word of God gives us all we need.
MacArthur also explains why this makes sense:
We don’t need apostles today. You know why? We already have doctrine. Is that right? Do we need new doctrine? Do we need new truth? Do we need a new pattern for the church? No.
Nevertheless, Peter Wagner has been involved in commissioning “apostles.” Here is a transcript from a portion of his installation service of Todd Bentley as a prophet:
My name is Peter Wagner, and I’m president of Global Harvest Ministries based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I have served the body of Christ in apostolic ministry for many years, and currently I preside over the International Coalition of Apostles, which brings together over 500 recognized apostles. I have the honor of being assigned to preside over this momentous occasion, and I am humbled, as I approach the task with an enormous sense of awe.
Holy Spirit, I invite your presence, your power, and your direction. Amen? This is a ceremony celebrating the formal apostolic alignment of Todd Bentley. My first desire is to lay a biblical foundation for what we are about to do.
Unfortunately, there is no biblical foundation for what he was about to do. And to underscore how effective these men are in living biblically: A few weeks after Bentley was installed as a “prophet,” he left his wife and children for another woman. He eventually divorced his wife and married the other woman.
Todd Bentley, Rick Joyner, and the other NAR prophets and apostles are the very kind of false prophets and apostles Jesus warned about. In fact, in Matthew 24, the disciples ask Jesus to give them a sign of His imminent return. He mentions false teachers, prophets, and apostles more than war, rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines.
(9) The New Apostolic Reformation believes that signs and wonders validate their authority.
Wagner said this about their experimentation with signs and wonders:
One of our adjunct professors, John Wimber, who is a pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Yorba Linda, California, came to us recently with a suggestion that we offer a course in Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth. I agreed to cosponsor the course with him, and early in 1982 we experimented with it.
John Wimber was a major leader in the growth of the Vineyard churches. Most Vineyard churches participate with the New Apostolic Reformation and its unbiblical theology and doctrine.
Rick Warren, upon the death of John Wimber, offered this on a Vineyard website:
I will remember John Wimber as a man who truly loved Jesus more than anything else. I always enjoyed our conversations because that love for Christ produced an uncommon passion in his life that was contagious. I will miss that. A hundred years from today, people will still be singing “Spirit Song” because it verbalizes that deep love for Jesus.
Many members of the NAR believe they have the power to raise the dead. For instance, Wagner has said:
I too now believe that dead people are literally being raised in the world today. As soon as I say that, some ask if I believe if it is normative? I doubt if it would be normative in any local situation but it probably is normative in terms of the universal Body of Christ. Even though it is an extremely uncommon event I would not be surprised if it were happening several times a year.
Why is it that whenever you hear these stories of a NAR member raising the dead, it is in some third world country with no verifiable proof? I do not believe people who are clinically dead are being brought back to life. I do believe there will be an increase in demonic, counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders that will deceive many. The Bible speaks of the antichrist performing such counterfeit miracles. Second Thessalonians 2:9 says: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” And in Matthew 24:24, Jesus warned that “false Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”
(10) The New Apostolic Reformation believes in spiritual evolution.
Spiritual evolution is a common belief within Fabian socialism, the Emergent Church, the communitarian church growth movement, and the New Age movement. It will play a major role in bringing many of the world’s religions together as one. In a CBN interview in 2000, Peter Wagner alluded to similar thinking when he declared, “We’re going to new levels in the spiritual.”
The NAR teaches that certain individuals are becoming new spiritual beings. George Wood warned of this:
The revived Church anticipated by the Kingdom Now proponents would demand a new breed of Christians: supermen and superwomen. Believers would be taught that they are more than human….Some Kingdom Now adherents go beyond being “little gods” to holding to the possibility that we are the “manifested sons of God,” ...the race of Christians whose bodies will be transformed, not by the coming of the Lord, but by His inner secret coming from within themselves.
This NAR teaching is consistent with the New Age Movement or cosmic humanism, declaring that man needs to tap into his “Christ consciousness.” Cosmic humanism, (also known as the New Age Movment or pagan spirituality) is a major foundation of the NAR.
Jewel Grewe has been researching the Latter Rain Movement, Kansas City Prophet Movement and the NAR since the early 1980s. Jewel’s husband was an Assemblies of God pastor, who like many within the AOG, became concerned when this heresy began to rise within more and more churches. In 1991, Jewel released a report—even more relevant today than when it was released—entitled “Joel’s Army” in which she correctly indentifies four aspects of the “Manifested Sons of God” heresy:
The claim to perfection through progressive revelations beyond Scriptures;
The written Word of God is held in low esteem and experiential knowledge very high;
The Word of God is perceived as a symbolic book;
The claim that the “god-man” dwells in every member and is waiting to be discovered and manifest by the believers.
A man named Paul Cain was one of the original “prophets” of the New Apostolic Reformation. When he was popular, it was called the Kansas City Prophet movement. After his rise to prominence, Cain was discovered to be both an alcoholic and a homosexual—facts readily admitted by the NAR. On his website in 2004, Rick Joyner explained:
In February 2004, we were made aware that Paul had become an alcoholic. In April 2004, we confronted Paul with evidence that he had been recently involved in homosexual activity. Paul admitted to these sinful practices and was placed under discipline, agreeing to a process of restoration…
This public relations nightmare seems to have been the catalyst behind the Kansas City Prophet movement dissolving and later morphing into Mike Bickel’s International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement.
Cain had been a promoter of the Joel’s Army heresy, also known as Manifested Sons of God, Manchild Company, Omega Children, and Over-coming Bride heresy. Cain declared:
Paul Cain tells it like it is. I don’t know what the Second Coming means to you, there’s so many different returns of the Lord, or comings of the Lord, I don’t know, we have a cardinal doctrine like that, but let me tell you he’s coming to YOU. He’s coming to his Church, he is coming to abide in you, to take up his abode in you.
I want you to know he’s coming to the church before he comes FOR the church. He’s gonna perfect the Church so the church can be the Image, and be him, and be his representation.
Bob Jones (no connection to Bob Jones University), also a major leader in the Kansas City Prophet movement of the 1980s proclaimed:
And the Church that is raising up the government will be the head and the covering for them… There is a ministry after the five-fold called the ministry of perfection—the Melchizedek Priesthood . . . your children will be moving into the ministries of Perfection . . . coming into that Divine Nature of Jesus Christ . . . they themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet . . . because the Lord Jesus is worthy to be lifted up by a church that has reached the full maturity of the GOD-MAN!
NAR proponent Bill Hamon has similarly declared:
Jesus will come back to earth and be given the Kingdom that has been won for Him by this “manchild company.” The Manifested Sons of God doctrine teaches that these sons will be equal to Jesus Christ: immortal, sinless, perfected sons who have partaken of the divine nature. They will have every right to be called gods and will be called gods.
Hamon has also written:
The Earth and all of creation is waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, the time when they will come into their maturity and immortalization. . . . When the Church receives its full inheritance and redemption then creation will be redeemed from its cursed condition of decay, change and death. . . the Church has a responsibility and ministry to the rest of creation. Earth and its natural creation is anxiously waiting for the Church to reach full maturity and come to full sonship. When the Church realizes its full sonship, its bodily redemption will cause a redemptive chain reaction throughout all of creation.
The NAR teaches that Joel’s Army will be doing the same things Christ did while here on earth and that this “army” will establish God’s Kindgom here on earth. In an interview with the Voice Magazine Bill Hamon declared:
We are at the prophetic-apostolic. The prophetic movement of the 80s brought in the prophet. And in the 90s it was the apostle. Now we have all five ascension gifts fully restored. Now we can get busy, working, training, equipping, and activating the saints to demonstrate the Kingdom of God...Now it’s the whole Body of Christ arising and demonstrating the supernatural. We will see the Body of Christ coming forth in the Saints Movement. We’ve crossed over the Jordan. The moment you cross over Jordan you’re going into warfare. As fanatical as it may sound to fundamental evangelical Christians, the Church is destined to subdue all things and put all things under Christ’s feet before He actually literally returns from heaven...The Church is being prepared now for the next moves of God. After the Saints Movement will be the Army of the Lord Movement. The next movement after that will be the Kingdom Establishment Movement.
The International House of Prayer in Kansas City now has houses of prayer all over America. This heretical group includes leaders such as Lou Engle and Mike Bickle. Jewel Grewe and her team listened to hours of audio tapes of Mike Bickle teaching, and documented heretical assertions like this:
We’ll have the power to raise people from the dead; that even death won’t stand before the power of the Church. We’ll see those four days Lazarus kind of deals. The Lord’s going to begin to give those in the days to come.
Remember that pro-family leaders have worked with Engle and Bickle. The president of the American Family Association sent me a letter (which he also sent to five others, thus making it a public letter), criticizing me for publicly opposing The Response—a prayer rally that included some of the most egregious false teachers of the day. His organization had been a sponsor, along with other “evangelical” and pro-family leaders. The letter informed me that he believes “…both the International House of Prayer and Cindy Jacobs ministries have statements of faith that are solid.”
What many people don’t seem to understand is that a group’s doctrinal statement on its website is not the test of doctrinal purity. Biblical-sounding terms used by the NAR, for instance, do not have biblical definitions. When the NAR speaks of the “Day of the Lord,” it is not referring to the biblical, literal second coming of Jesus Christ when he puts His foot on the earth. Those that embrace the heresy of the “Manifested Sons of God” have allegorized such scritpure as Joel 2 to mean that the “Day of the Lord” is not when Christ comes for His church but when He comes in His church. Jewel Grewe offers this example:
References in the book of Joel pertaining to Israel and the “Day of the Lord” are spiritualized to apply to the Church. Literal Israel beomces “the Church” and the “Day of the Lord” is seen as the manifestation or “incarnation of God” in this Joel’s Army.
So if you read the doctrinal statement of a NAR proponent or the “Manifested Sons of God,” and it states that they believe God’s Kingdom is not established on earth until after the second coming of Jesus Christ, you would be believe the doctrine is sound—unless you know what these folks really mean by “the second coming of Christ” or the “Day of the Lord.” It seems that uniformed evangelicals and New Religious Right leaders are easily duped when they tell you IHOP, C. Peter Wagner, and the NAR have solid doctrinal statements. Almost all theological cults like the Mormons, New Apostolic Reformation, and Word of Faith proponents have different definitions of “Christian” terms.
The New Age Movement does the same thing. It often refers to people discovering their God consciousness as the “Omega Point.” Ironically, the Manifested Sons of God heresy often uses the terms “Omega Children” and “Omega sons and daughters” to describe the generation that is indwelt by this secret coming of Jesus. They suppose that these people will take on “the very divine nature of Christ Himself, as explained by “Prophet” Bob Jones:
..the Church is in no condition for the Lord to come today.. . He’s going to come for a church that is mature in righteousness... progressively going in this righteousness until you take on THE very divine nature of Christ Himself and you begin to see Christ in the Church. Christ won’t come for The Church until you see Christ in The Church. Until the Church looks like Jesus. Papa [God] planted Jesus, He sowed Him down here in this earth to have a whole nation of brothers and sisters that looked just like Jesus and he will have it. His Son was ALPHA SON, your children are the OMEGA sons and daughters. . . (Mike Bickle interjects here, “Jesus was the beginning, but our children and us, we’re included in this... we’re the end of this thing [Manifested Sons of God].) The Church is asleep, but when she gets woke up, there’s not any power. . . when she gets woke up and joins together in an army, there’s not any power anyplace that can stop her, for she’ll know nothing but victory when she joins hands and becomes one in purpose and that’s to reveal the Kingdom on the face of the earth. (School for Prophecy, Session 7, Vineyard Ministries, 1989).
One well-known proponent of the Manifested Sons of God was Earl Paulk. Paulk died in 2009 after being the pastor of a large Pentecostal church in Georgia. Paulk’s church ran a public housing program that was honored by President George H. Bush as part of the presidents’ thousand points of light campaign. Yet numerous women accused Paulk of sexual misconduct. Are you noticing a trend here, whether it is Earl Paulk, Paul Cain, Ted Haggard, or Todd Bentley? Doctrinal heresy and moral failure often go hand in hand.
Ted Haggard was connected to the work of C. Peter Wagner. When NPR asked Wagner how he felt upon “finding out that Ted Haggard, his World Prayer Center co-founder, had used drugs and had sex with men,” Wagner replied:
I don’t think I’ve still recovered. Just by a matter of history, a few years before that happened, my wife, Doris, and I left the World Prayer Center, turned it back to Ted and went on a different route here in Colorado Springs, so we were not closely associated. But when his homosexuality was revealed, it was a devastating blow to me because not only was he pastor of this influential church, he was president of the National Association of Evangelicals…
And here is Earl Paulk’s take on the Manifested Sons of God:
Jesus Christ has now done all He can do, and He waits at the right hand of His Father, until you and I as sons of God, become manifest and make this world His footstool. He is waiting for us to say “Jesus, we have made the kingdoms of this world the Kingdom of our God, and we are ruling and reigning in Your world. Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
It is a humanistic blasphemy to believe God is waiting in heaven, helpless until man reclaims the world and the culture, takes dominion like some Christian Taliban, and then hands it all over to God so He can send Jesus back to earth to accept the kingdom we have built for Him. The proponents of the “Manifested Sons of God” point to Romans 8:18-23 as justification for their heresy: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
Yet, like so many of their beliefs, this is also based on a misinterpretation of God’s Word through spiritual allegorizing. Romans 8:18-23 is talking about believers returning with Jesus Christ at the Second Coming in their resurrected bodies. At that time, Christ restores creation as it was before the fall and sets up His millennial kingdom. The Romans passage cannot be correctly interpreted to produce the belief that Christians on earth become the sinless sons of God who raise the dead and establish God’s kingdom on earth. Yet Bill Hamon clearly teaches otherwise:
Until we come into the unity of faith and exhibit perfection, Christlikeness, and maturity, there is no way that Jesus Christ can come again. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were given for the perfecting of the saints, and unless that perfection is reached, the Kingdom of God cannot be established. The whole world groans, waiting for someone to demonstrate the principles of the Kingdom, waiting until “we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” This is the most important and critical issue in the world today. There is absolutely no way that the Kingdom of God can come to pass until the walls of division are broken down and we comprehend what is meant by “unity of faith.”
This quest for “unity” is why NAR proponents are interested in ecumenicalism. Earl Paulk describes his ecumenical strategy this way:
What would a meeting be like which brought together liberal evangelicals, such as we are, conservative theologians, represented by Holiness groups and Southern Baptists, and Catholics. Seventh-Day Adventists, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints [Mormons]? Many of these groups have become so different that we almost regard them as enemies, rather than as brothers and sisters in the faith. How can we step over these walls that have been built so high?
Notice that Paulk calls himself a liberal. Later, I will go into more detail about how the left and right are converging spiritually. It is also significant that Paulk includes Catholics and Mormons in this quest for the kingdom of God on earth. Doubtless, Paulk would be pleased to see evangelical leaders embracing Mormon Glenn Beck and Catholic Jay Richards in their spiritual enterprises.
To justify such unbiblical ecumenicalism, Paulk, and others like him, must take the Apostle Paul out of context. Paulk writes:
It is my honest opinion that the Kingdom of God cannot come to pass until “we all come in the unity of the faith.” He specifically does not say anything about doctrine, because he is not concerned about doctrinal points. As long as the world of religion continues to act as it is acting now, there will never be a Kingdom of God in reality. For so long as we have said, “Why don’t the Seventh-Day Adventists change? Why don’t the Mormons change?” Perhaps we should be the ones to change.
Paulk clearly does not recognize any doctrinal distinction between Mormons, Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, and others, and what he hoped for is happening now. Shirley Dobson, James Dobson, Jim Garlow, Kirk Cameron, John Hagee, Richard Land, David Barton, James Robison, Tim LaHaye, and a host of others have either defended or praised Glenn Beck, talked with him about God, or joined him in one of his spiritual enterprises. And for what? The answer seems to be to reclaim America or to reclaim the culture, but regardless of the reason, such pragmatism fits much too nicely with the goals and agenda of dominion theology that embraces ecuemencialism for the sake of building the Kingdom of God on earth.
Responding to Paulk, Tommy Ice writes:
We have searched the Bible in vain for the passage which Paulk has in mind where Paul lays down the unity of the faith as a condition for the coming in of the Kingdom. He seems to have in mind Ephesians 4:13. But the Kingdom of God is not even found in this context…How can Paulk say that Paul is not talking about doctrine. The phrase “the faith” is a synonym for doctrine or teaching. Paul is using it in the objective sense—the content of what we believe. Paul contrasts the faith in verse 13, with “every wind of doctrine” in verse 14. So it does have something to do with doctrine. The unity to be achieved is a unity of the faith. This is supposed to protect the Church from being tossed around by false doctrine (v. 14), like Mormonism. Apparently Paulk has not attained to a unity of the faith, or he would not be interested in merging with Mormons.
Paulk is not alone, of course. Word of Faither Benny Hinn has long been teaching his own version of the “manifested sons of God” heresy. He believes Jesus Christ was not God incarnate but came to earth as a man and then become divine while here on earth. Hinn and other Word of Faith false teachers like Kenneth Copeland teach that Jesus set the pattern for man to follow and that we will become like Jesus through a special type of spiritual evolution. Consider the blasphemy of Hinn in these statements of his:
When Jesus was on earth, the Bible says that first He disrobed Himself of the divine form. He, the limitless God, became man, that we men, may become as He is.
The new creation is created after God in righteousness and true holiness. The new man is after God, like God, godlike, complete in Christ Jesus. The new creation is just like God. May I say it like this, “You are a little god on earth running around”?
Word of Faith preacher Kenneth Copeland echos Hinn’s false teaching:
If we ever wake up and realize who we are, we’ll start doing the work that we’re supposed to do. Because the church hasn’t realized yet that they are Christ. That’s who they are. They are Christ.
A popular belief among Word of Faith and NAR heretics is that Jesus did not come to earth as God but as man. They teach that Jesus was somewhere between human and divine, and after the Spirit fell on Jesus at His baptism, He began to do great signs and wonders and become divine. Copeland says, “Why didn’t Jesus openly proclaim Himself as God during his 33 years on earth? For one single reason. He hadn’t come to earth as God, He’d come as a man.”
The belief that Jesus was not God incarnate but came to earth as a man is known as Arianism. (Not to be confused with the Aryanism of Adolf Hitler, the heresy is named after a church leader named Arius who died in 336 AD.) The belief that Jesus emptied Himself of His deity when He came to earth is known as Kenotic Theology. This false teaching is derived from a misinterpretation of Philippians 2:6-7 which reads: “who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”
By examining the Greek meaning of the word “emptied,” John MacArthur explains what these verses actually mean:
Jesus Christ emptied Himself completely of every vestige of advantage and privilege, refusing to assert any divine right on his own behalf. He who created and owned everything forsook everything. It must also be kept in mind that Jesus emptied Himself only of certain aspects of is prerogatives of deity, not of deity itself. He was never anything, and never will be anything, but fully and eternally God, as Paul was careful to state in the previoius verse [v. 6 “being in the form of God]. All four gospels make it clear that He did not forsake His divine power to perform miracles, to forgive sins, or to know the minds and hearts of people. Had he stopped being God (an impossibility), He could not have died for the sins of the world. He would have perished on the cross and remained in the grave, with no power to conquer sin or death.
On the other hand, Copeland reveals his belief in Kenotic Theology when he writes:
[Most Christians] mistakenly think Jesus was able to work wonders, perform miracles and live above sin because He had divine powers that we don’t have. Thus, they’ve never really aspired to live like He lived…They don’t realize that when Jesus came to earth, He voluntarily gave up that advantage, living His life here not as God but as a man. He had no innate supernatural powers. He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit (see Luke 3:22).
New Ager and author Barbara Marx Hubbard founded the Foundation for Conscious Evolution. Her group teaches spiritual evolution, and so do the New Age Movement, the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation, Mormons, Hindus, Budhists, and the Emergent Church. Note the similarity between the Manifested Sons of God teaching and Hubbard’s paganism:
Finally, you start the transition. . . During the transition, millions of members of the body awaken to their power to be natural Christs, full humans in the model of the first person to manifest the next stage in the development of humanity. . .
Like the New Apostolic Reformation belief that Christ must come “in the church” before He comes “for the church,” Hubbard teaches that the second coming will be when man realizes that:
the divisions of the religions would be over…We would each know that God is within us…If all who feel we are connected to each other, to nature and to God join in a planetary Pentecost, we shall be transformed in this lifetime. I believe in the peaceful second Coming.
Ms. Hubbard wrote a book entitled Emergence, and as we will learn in another chapter, the heresy of the Emergent Church, too, holds that man is beginning to realize his Christ consciousness and that he is one with the universe. It is little wonder that the New Age Movement, Mormons, New Apostolic Reformation, Emergent Church propoents, the Word of Faith Movement, Hindus, and Buddhists will come together and form the one world religion described in Revelation 17.
Pastor Brian McLaren is one of the most popular authors and speakers within the Emergent Church, and on his website, McLaren recounts a conversation with a college student about how the Emergent Church was formed: “Emergent grew out of the Young Leader Networks, which was launched in the mid-90’s by Leadership Network, a Dallas-based foundation.” McLaren is saying here that Bob Buford and his organization, Leadership Network, helped form the Emergent Church. Buford’s organization is also known for helping establish the seeker sensitive church model of Peter Drucker. And Leadership Network has also promoted the New Apostolic Reformation.
The January - March 1999 Leadership Network newsletter Next featured an article by C. Peter Wagner. Entitled “Another New Wineskin…The New Apostolic Reformation,” the article claims that NAR “is changing the shape of Protestant Christianity around the world.” Wagner also says he and his friends expect opposition from Bible-believing Christians: “We are well into the early adoption phase of the New Apostolic Reformation, when we can expect fairly strong objections from traditionalists who are threatened by changes.”
That such a movement would appeal to the Leadership Network with its Emergent Church/seeker sensitive church models is not surprising since much of what the Leadership Network, Emergent Church, and seeker sensitive proponents call for is a “new kind of Christianity.” In fact, A New Kind of Christianity is the title of a book written by Brian McLaren. The change threatening us is their desire to transform New Testament churches into their new breed of Christian and new Christianity which consists of pagan spirituality, a different Jesus, and a false gospel.
This theology aberration has implications for many core Christian beliefs as evidenced by a radio interview with Brian McLaren. He describes the fallacy of believing in hell:
[T]his is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching, then I won’t say the only and I certainly won’t say ... or even the primary but a primary meaning of the Cross ... is that the Kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, “No, that’s not really true. At the end God gets his way thru coercion and violence and intimidation and domination just like every other kingdom does.” The Cross isn’t the center then. The Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.
And he is attracting many “evangelical” leaders, pastors, and pro-family organizations to align with him!
(11) The New Apostolic Reformation is blatantly hostile toward Christians who refuse to accept its esoteric revelations and self-appointed leadership.
“Esotericism” is hidden knowledge, and the proponents of the NAR believe they are obtaining hidden knowledge through communication with angels, hearing the audible voice of God while in a meditative state, and by receiving dreams or visions. NAR apostles or prophets quickly become hostile toward Christians who refuse to accept their revelations, self-appointed authority, and globalist agenda. As George Wood warned years ago:
[T]he Church everywhere would be called to “unity.” Since Kingdom Now teachers do not want their teaching to be challenged, they attempt to silence their critics by suggesting that Christians lay aside their differences and join in common witness….
As if to substantiate this very point, C. Peter Wagner, when asked what would be a stumbling block for him and his NAR disciples in accomplishing their goals, said it would be Christians and pastors who stand on the authority of the Word of God and sound biblical doctrine. He argued that such people will be under demonic influence:
“…a commitment to tradition amongst ministers.” Wagner states: “I think that some are bound by religious forms and functions that are ineffective and I think in many cases it is demonic influence.”
Doesn’t Satan always work that way? He and his followers accuse us of the very thing that is really true about them. We hear the false church saying: “You’re divisive. You’re mean. You’re mean-spirited. You’re intolerant. You’re a bigot. You’re a hatemonger. You’re not interested in unity. You’re divisive. You’re not interested in truth.” Yet throughout the Word of God, we read that Christians are the ones who will be persecuted. Jesus tells us that false teachers and false prophets will persecute true Christians. Jesus also makes it clear that Christians will not become so popular that they are elected to office worldwide as a means to usher in a kingdom of God on earth. Rather, He says that all nations of the world will hate Christians: “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name” (Matthew 24:9).
What is particularly interesting is that in this very same chapter Jesus warns about false teachers and false prophets. I believe Jesus is speaking of the very kind of false prophets who make up the New Apostolic Reformation. In Matthew 24:3, 4, 11, 23, and 24 Jesus mentions the rise of false teachers and false prophets as the leading indicator of His imminent return.
Rick Joyner, one of the most visible and popular leaders in the NAR, oversaw the restoration of “prophet” Todd Bentley to ministry after he left his wife and children for another woman. Joyner also claims to have received visits from an angel. Like Wagner, Joyner has claimed that those who oppose the NAR are under demonic influence:
Some pastors and leaders who continue to resist this tide of unity will be removed from their place. Some will become so hardened they will become opposers and resist God to the end….Some that were used greatly of God in the past have become too rigid in doctrinal emphasis….Some leaders will actually disband their organizations as they realize they are no longer relevant to what God is doing….This harvest will be so great that no one will look back at the early church as a standard….Those who have become vessels for this spirit and do not repent, will be displayed as so insane that even the most immature Christians will quickly discern their sickness....The source of witchcraft against us may not be the obvious satanic cults or New Age operatives. It can come from well meaning, though deceived, Christians who are praying against us instead of for us.
How interesting that Joyner would speak of New Age Movement as an opponent when the NAR is filled with New Age teachings.
Notice also that Joyner says, “This harvest will be so great, that no one will look back at the early church as a standard.” That alone should tell you that what they are doing is unbiblical, because the standard for the church is to be the doctrinal foundation once delivered to the saints, as instructed in Jude 3.
Joyner writes that “those who have become vessels for this spirit and do not repent, will be displayed as so insane that even the most immature Christians will quickly discern their sickness....” Joyner is calling people like me insane for opposing their heresy. Yet he is the one claiming in his 158-page “prophecy” entitled The Final Quest that he has gone to heaven and visited with an angel in the form of a talking eagle.
The false dominant church is going to be the primary persecutor of the true Bride of Christ, that true remnant which perseveres even in the face of persecution. I recommend that you prepare yourself now for persecution from people who call themselves Christians and from false teachers, false apostles, and false prophets who carry the title of pastor and reverend. Joyner even calls for “The Great Christian Civil War,” which will be used to drive out those who have “become too rigid in doctrinal emphasis”
Pastor Bill Randles, an independent Pentecostal pastor who authored Beware the New Prophets: A Caution Concerning the Modern Prophetic Movement, says this about Rick Joyner:
In the surreal world of the prophets, symbolism takes on a life of its own. The Blues in the army have been interpreted as those who are operating on revelation knowledge, blue being symbolic of heaven, The Grays, are still operating out of their heads (gray matter, the brain, get it?) The Gray Army (of Christians) are seeking to hold the church in “spiritual slavery.”
This tracks with how Rick Joyner describes the situation in The Final Quest: “A great spiritual civil war now looms before the church….The church will not be destroyed, but the institutions and doctrines that have kept men in spiritual slavery will be.”
And what doctrines is it that he finds so offensive, or that are keeping people in slavery? Could it be the biblical doctrine that reveals who are false teachers of their father, the devil?
(12) New Apostolic Reformation leaders use traditional terms deceptively by giving them new meanings as defined by their movement.
I am not the only one who has studied this movement and believes NAR is off-base. Rob Crabtree, when he was superintendent for the Ohio district Assemblies of God in 1987, wrote a letter to pastors warning them to:
Watch for the development of new terms and redefinition of old terms with new shades of meaning that will be utilized in an attempt to accommodate the various types of Kingdom Now theologies.
(13) The NAR belief system is not based on studying the Bible in context through exegesis but rather on a commitment to interpreting the Bible through personal opinions, feelings, desires, and experiences—also known as the practice of isogesis.
Exegesis is the process of studying the Bible in context—using Scripture to interpret Scripture. Exegesis also involves studying the verses around a particular passage to guarantee that we are reading and interpreting the intended meaning of the text. And exegesis includes hermeneutics, or going back to the Greek and Hebrew to make sure that the English translation is accurate.
The NAR, Name It and Claim It, and the Word of Faith movement—featuring personalities such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, and Benny Hinn—are notorious for using verses that have nothing to do with money to teach that if you give them and their ministries money, you will reap a financial harvest. However, if you study most of the verses they use, they have absolutely nothing to do with money.
There are other misuses of Scripture as well. Psalm 46:10, for instance, reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” Study this verse in context, and you will see that it is not referencing prayer. Yet people often say, “Oh, that’s about praying, and I need to be still and hear the voice of God.” Fox Faith has even produced a DVD called Be Still that uses this verse to promote contemplative prayer. Psalm 46:10, though, is referring to the sovereignty of God. That is clear when you pay attention to how the complete verse reads:
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The verse declares that God is in control. It says, in essence, “Stop fidgeting, stop fussing, and don’t be so restless; God is in charge.” The verse was not only assurance to the nation of Israel, but a warning to the enemies of God.
Correct exegesis reveals the true meaning of this verse. Isogesis uses presupposition, predetermined interpretation, and feelings to come up with the mistaken “personal” application. Again, Peter Wagner’s thoughts reflect precisely what is wrong with this approach:
Christianity began with 120 in the Upper Room, within three centuries it had become the predominant religion of the Roman Empire. What brought this about? The answer is deceptively simple, while Christianity was being presented to unbelievers in both Word and deed, it was the deed that far exceeded the Word in evangelistic effectiveness.
So the deed is more important than the Word of God? Feelings are more important than God’s Word? Now you see why they have so little concern for exegesis.
John MacArthur correctly observed:
The sad truth is that the gospel proclaimed by the Word-Faith movement is not the gospel of the New Testament. Word-Faith doctrine is a mongrel system, a blend of mysticism, dualism, and gnosticism that borrows generously from the teachings of the metaphysical cults. The Word-Faith movement may be the most dangerous false system that has grown out of the charismatic movement so far, because so many charismatics are unsure of the finality of Scripture.
I’m guessing that even the majority of non-charismatics are unsure of the finality of Scripture—its ultimate authority—which is why many non-charismatic churches embrace the NAR and dominion theology. Even Thomas Road Baptist Church, once pastored by the Jerry Falwell, and Liberty University have embraced Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engle, and other “prophets” of the NAR at the church and university conferences.
Christian pragmatism—is it possible? The answer is a resounding no, but Peter Wagner seems to think Christian pragmatism (the belief that the end justifies the means) is just fine:
…we ought to see clearly that the end does justify the means. What else possibly could justify the means? If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method. If, on the other hand, my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?
In Leadership Network’s Next newsletter, C. Peter Wagner expands the pragmatic theme:
No church can do everything. How do we choose? The new apostolic answer is simple – do whatever works…Among new apostolic church leaders, whether denominational or otherwise, there is little aversion to pragmatism. They say “If God has given us a job to do – let’s get it done! If a methodology works use it; if it doesn’t work, scrap it!...New apostolic church leaders constantly seek ways to update and contexualize their outreach ministries.”
Why do the epistles not declare that the purpose of the Church is to establish a physical kingdom of God on earth here and now? The word “kingdom” is used 129 times from Matthew through John in the King James, but it is only used 34 times from Acts through Revelation. If the main goal of the New Testament Church was to build the kingdom of God on earth, we would expect to see the word “kingdom” used over and over in the epistles. The epistles deal with the establishment of the Church, the qualifications of church leaders, the job description of church leaders, and the goals and objectives of a biblical New Testament church. The list does not include any mandate to build a physical kingdom of God on earth, to take over political and cultural institutions.
The word “kingdom” in Matthew through John is used in relation to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. For instance, Matthew 4:23 says, “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.”
Notice that Jesus was preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. And what is the Gospel? It is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ alone.
Mark 1:14-15 reflects a similar idea: “Now, after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.’”
And in Luke 4:43: “Jesus said to them, ‘I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also because for this purpose I have been sent.’”
Jesus did not say He was on earth to build a physical kingdom but that He was sent to preach the Kingdom of God. What does that mean? Luke 17:21 explains “the kingdom of God is within you.” In other words, the kingdom of God is within the heart (soul) of those who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through faith and repentance.
Luke 8:1 alludes to this ongoing reality: “Now it came to pass, afterward, that [Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings [gospel] of the kingdom of God.”
God’s Kingdom will come, but it’s not something we build on this earth. We can be involved in spiritually building God’s Kingdom as we preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and people are added to the Church as they are saved. Matthew 24:14 makes this clear: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Notice this verse does not say that after the Gospel of the Kingdom is preached then the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. God, not us, will establish His millennial Kingdom, and God is not dependent on us to establish His Kingdom on earth. The Bible is clear that there will not be a worldwide revival which sees Christians taking over the earth and taking over the seven mountains listed by the NAR. The Bible says the last days will be marked by an increase in false teachers (like the NAR) and that there will be a great falling away from biblical truth. This falling away is described in the Bible as the great apostasy. Second Thessalonians 2:9-12 reveals that the apostasy of the last days will not bring in God’s Kingdom on earth but will be the precursor to the antichrist that will be under Satan’s control:
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
In keeping with this growing problem of apostasy, 2 Timothy 3:13 does says things are not going to get better and better until the Kingdom of God is established on earth but rather that the world situation will get worse: “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
Charles Spurgeon highlights this teaching:
The kingdom of Christ is not a kingdom of this world. Otherwise would his servants fight. It rests on a spiritual basis and is to be advanced by spiritual means. Yet Christ’s servants gradually slipped down into the notion that his kingdom was of this world and could be upheld by human power.
The religious Trojan horse is already inside the Church. The New Apostolic Reformation and its dominion theology is not about preaching the Gospel but is about the things of this world such as arrogance, humanism, and occultism. Beware!
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