August 27, 2014

Open Mic: The New Apostolic Reformation

C. Peter Wagner was interviewed this week by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. Gross is a seasoned interviewer who through kindness draws out what many other interviewers would never even get to in a subject.

Perhaps we found out more from Wagner than we ever wanted to hear. Wagner is the leader of the ever-morphing New Apostolic Reformation, a loose-knit group of “apostles” and “prophets” who seek to take dominion over seven “mountains”: business; government; media; arts and entertainment; education; religion; and family. The way to establish dominion in these areas is through prayer and the casting out of demons.

And Wagner sees a lot of demons in action these days. For instance, he says that Japan’s natural disaster woes as well the twenty-year decline in their stock market is due to the emperor of Japan having sex with the sun goddess. I kid you not. And we think Bill Clinton was stepping wide. He settled for a common intern when he could have had a sun goddess.

I could take this apart and offer my very opinionated opinions, but why should I when I can hand you the mic? What I am looking for is this: Is there any validity to Wagner’s approach to furthering the Kingdom of God? Is this part of the Christian’s life, or has Wagner and the NAR departed from what the Founding Fathers would recognize as even the barest form of Christianity? And finally, what do we do with movements such as these? Do we confront them or ignore them and hope they just go away?

Ok, it’s your turn at the mic. I am looking for constructive comments, not just dogpiling. Play nice.

Comments

  1. Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says:

    Oy. I partially heard that interview, but just couldn’t bear to keep up with it. As much as I love Terry Gross and Fresh Air (it’s one of the few radio shows I try to catch every day), I always over-sensitive when she’s doing a religion interview. Part of that is because I don’t think she really *gets* religion. I.e. she seems to always be a little incredulous of religious folks simply because they’re religious. The other part of it is that so many folks who get such interviews are . . . quite a bit out there in their theology.

    As far as groups like Wagner and the NAR are concerned, I usually just try to ignore them and hope they go away. They rarely do. It definitely makes me see the point behind the development of historic apostolic succession. Overly independent and rogue groups drive me nuts, especially self-appointed and self-proclaimed apostles and prophets.

    • Dan Crawford says:

      To suggest that Terry Gross doesn’t “get religion” is putting it charitably. Her interviews of “religious” persons (Spong, Ehrman, Pagels, etc.) whose views coincide with hers are prime examples of how one should not interview persons. I didn’t hear the interview, but isn’t Wagner the guy associated with Fuller who for years has been publishing books on church growth and missions?

    • I was a little apprehensive about this too, and I speak as a “Radio glued to NPR” type guy. NPR does a lot of things right, but Religion isn’t always one of them — specifically any religion that isn’t Episcopal, UCC, or otherwise left-leaning mainline. I can usually predict how the conversations will go on Gross’s show with religious people.

      That said, this does not excuse Wagner at all, nor does it make his beliefs any less nonsensical. I’ll be listening to the show later on, but I’ve read enough (and heard more than enough from his disciples) to know what’s going on. That this stuff is being taken seriously is a crisis in the US church.

    • I listened to most of the interview with a minor interruptions.

      TG was extremely fair in her approach. She would ask questions and/or state what she thought was Wagner’s position on something and he would invariably tell her, “Yes, that’s correct”. Or answer the question. TG did her homework on this one.

      • I agree TG was respectful and fair. But the real question is why this guy is interviewed, as opposed to a more mainstream (and thoughtful, imo) conservative christian leader. I love NPR and listen daily, but I never hear the better representatives of evangelical thought on their programs.

        • Because several members of his the NAR were on the platform of Perry’s Prayer Breakfast.

          • Yeah, I know. My question is to the larger issue of who Terry Gross and NPR interview over the years regarding religious issues.

  2. Wolfgang Simson’s Starfish Manifesto resonates a lot with me. He talks a lot about restoring the role of apostles and prophets (but he doesn’t give them capital letters).

    On of the natural question then is whom we should regard as an apostle or prophet and Simson says “look under a pile of stones”. The ones making lots of money and flying around the world are not the ones to look to. He says there are too many “uncrucified messiahs”.

    The 07 version of the manifesto referred a lot to Wagner, but the longer 09 version takes him to task on some points – Wagner appointing himself Convening Apostle didn’t do himself any good in Simson’s estimation.

    I am persuaded by the idea of moving towards unity in the Church, but whenever any unity vehicle gets too official, gets too many capital letters or is associated too much with one person like Wagner or one preexisting party/movement/denom of the established Church, then it starts to lose its authority.

    So we might find a variety of ideas attached to the NAR tag or similar, just as words like emerging or missional or post-whatever can have varied meanings.

  3. Spent some time in the Vineyard Movement that was heavily influenced by C Peter Wagner.

    Wagner’s approach travels far beyond what the Scriptures teach on these matters, and I have seen first hand the damage done by this kind of teaching. It is more akin to gnosticism, or witchcraft with this ‘binding and loosing’ of spirits,’ addressing spirits with the right incantations and prayers to achieve the desired result. Nowhere in the scriptures do you hear phrasing or terminology like that. Almost a form of Animism in which everything has an evil spirit that needs to be cast out. ( By the way, all that crap about seven mountains that Christians need to ‘take dominion over’ – it’s all made up.Where in the NT are we ever commanded to take dominion, especially over those seven particular areas? )

    Newly minted Apostles always prove themselves to be false prophets, bearing false witness of our Lord and exploiting the flock with stories they have made up. Wagner is a crack pot. A cursory investigation will reveal the destruction these ‘Prophetic’ and Apostolic’ movements leave in their wake.

    As to how to handle them, biblical scholars, teachers and pastors should warn their flocks against this stuff, and prominent radio ministers and apologists should publicly expose this stuff for what it is.

    If you find yourself in a church being seduced by these teachings – FLEE. By the time a Pastor is ‘exploring’ these things or introducing various forms of this teaching, he is already convinced it is true and is pushing the church into that stuff. Nothing good will come of it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      At its core, “Taking Dominion Over” is only about one thing:

      The Oh-So-Delicious Taste of POWER.

      Building the Perfect Christian Nation by Any Means Necessary. Citizen Robespierre’s Republique of Perfect Virtue or Ayatollah Khomeini’s Pure Islamic Republic with a Christian coat of paint. Becoming God’s Shadow Upon Earth, handing out Blessings and Curses, Salvation and Damnation like God would if God Only Knew What Was REALLY Going On. Whether through Political Power or Spiritual Magick.

      Utter Righteousness plus Absolute Power is a REAL Ugly combination.

    • Power corrupts. My question is this… What happened to the eager anticipation of the rapture? Is this movement in opposition to the Derbyshireists?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I think what happened is a mixture of the two. (And I think it’s “Darbyites”, not “Derbyshireists”.) And the mixture took the worst parts of both.

        Pre-Trib Pre-Mil (Darbyite) got merged with Dominionism, which ramped up the leisurely Post-Mil timetable to Take Back Our Christian (TM) Nation to We Have To Do It By Yesterday At The Latest. (After all, Ye Ende Is Nighye — never mind that if It’s All Gonna Burn, Why Bother?) So when Dominionism got mixed with Pre-Mil, they ended up skipping to the endgame of Takeover & Theocracy, regardless.

        Also mix in flake Spiritual Warfare (what the guy at Onward, Forward, Toward calls “Christian Witchcraft”) to Fight the Demons under every bed (and outside Dominionism) and you get a very weird and dangerous mix. To top it off, we’re at a point on the Strauss-Howe Generational Cycle when an Idealist-type generation (the Baby Boomers) is in ascendance, and Idealist generations are very much into My Own Utter Righteousness, The Other’s Utter Evil, and Purity of Ideology in general. Shake well and bake in the pressure-cooker of the Second Great Depression…

  4. Louis Ciphre says:

    As a demon myself, I am always pleased when groups like this attract attention that might otherwise have gone to subjects that, by thinking about them, make us smarter instead of dumber.

  5. Matt Purdum says:

    Benny Hinn and Paul Crouch were making it hard enough to speak to others about Christ, and now Wagner and his partner in lunacy, Cindy Jacobs, show up. I’d like to say we should ignore these people but, their movement seems to be growing. We have to confront and expose them at every opportunity and truly contend for the faith..What they say about gay people is precisely what Hitler said about the Jews.There’s no love, no grace, no mercy, no creativity, no desire for community, no heart, no soul. They want political power and they mean to get it. (Fortunately at the moment, their candidate Rick Perry is tanking.) It’s the most diabolical twisting of our faith I’ve seen in my lifetime. Scapegoating has to end. Christ loves every human being and invites us all to walk with Him.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      There’s no love, no grace, no mercy, no creativity, no desire for community, no heart, no soul. They want political power and they mean to get it.

      “The only goal of Power is POWER.”
      – Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, 1984

    • I wouldn’t celebrare Rick Perry’s tanking until he withdraws of another one wins the nomination. I have this gut feeling that some of these people will do anything for power. My question is this…. Where do these movements come from? Where do they originate? Who buys into it? Why does this stuff pop up in American evangelicalism? I mean its not like they have these movements in Europe…do they?

      • The movement has been around for years. One of the places it came from was the latter reign movement way back in the 1880′s (I think) Then resurrected in the shepherding movement.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “Shepherding Movement” should be enough to ring alarm bells.

          The Shepherding Movement ended up a refuge for Control Freak “Shepherds” to do what Control Freaks do best. With Divine Sanction.

          Now imagine a Shepherding Movement with the power of the State over you.

  6. They’re calling themselves Apostles. Even if they weren’t saying idiotic things about the emperor of Japan, that alone should be enough to set off alarm bells.

  7. I have to wonder if the reference to the seven mountains has anything to do with Rome, the city of the seven hills. Is Wagner trying, in a Freudian kind of way, to compete with the Pope and seize what he sees as apostolic power? Or is it just random nuttiness?

    • I wonder that, as well, Damaris. Could it be that Wagner has a bad case of succession envy? Or maybe he just wants one of those cool tongue-shaped hats…Seriously, I think they’re awesome!

      I know that we aren’t supposed to be caught up in genealogies and worried about who baptized who, or who is a disciple of who…but anyone who calls themselves an apostle, bishop, etc…without at least some semblance of a legitimate line of succession is a charlatan. I spoke with a charismatic pastor once who proudly told me that his church membership roll included “a prophet, a prophetess, and a son of an apostle!” Another pastor in our area has proclaimed himself and his wife as “apostles”, and call their church “World Restoration Center”…It’s a church of about 65 people in a town of about 2000. They are “changing the atmosphere of the world”, according to their literature. I’m not quite sure how they’re doing this. Maybe they’ve identified their own seven hills to conquer and control. They started this church after they were fired from their previous church amidst rumors of misused monies.

      Yet more examples of why episcopal oversight is, indeed, a good thing.

      • They are “changing the atmosphere of the world”

        Does this involve a lot of chili cookouts?

        (sorry a twelve year old boy lives in my soul)

      • In the third wave church I was in prophecy was huge. They even had the youth group doing it..going to some places in SE Wisconsin engaging in spiritual warfare a couple of times.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Spiritual Warfare as in ritual workings, simple castings, or setting wards?

      • Okay that reply is too funny! :)

    • That struck me too, Damaris! Was he trying to put up his “seven hills” against the AntiChrist and the Seven-Headed Monster represented by the seven hills of Rome?

      Anyway, as far as I know, the imperial line of Japan is mythologically supposed to derive from the sun goddess, Amaterasu, through her grandson Ninigi, whose great-grandson was the first emperor, Jimmu, and the founder of the Imperial dynasty. Much like pretty every other culture on the earth, whose rulers declared descent from gods or demi-gods: the Egyptians, the Greeks with sons and grandsons of Zeus and his offspring everywhere, the Romans (Julius Caesar declaring his family were descendants of Venus by her son Aneas), the Inca – you name ‘em.

      I never heard of the Emperor consorting with his divince ancestress, and I wonder if Mr. Wagner is extrapolating from the custom of the hieros gamos (“sacred marriage”) where often the high priest and his wife would re-enact the union of the deity and his consort (Zeus and Hera, etc.) or where such a ritual was carried out symbolically.

      Besides, the Empress is Catholic! She went to the junior and High School of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, graduated from the University of the Sacred Heart, and was taught by Irish nuns (this is why she is interested in Irish culture and one reason she and her husband made a state visit here back in 1984 when he was the Crown Prince). Apparently she even plays the harp! (Yes, the Irish are everywhere).

      Perhaps that is just more evidence for Mr. Wagner of demonic influences in the Japanese Imperial family ;-)

      • Correction: the Empress is not Catholic herself, but comes from a Catholic family background – one reason she went to Catholic schools.

      • The meaning of the investiture ritual (for the Japanese emperor) is debated, and not all of its details have been made public, but this is one of the possibilities, yes.

        Meanwhile, the Mormon belief that their heiros gamos represents the restoration of an ancient Christian practice has received confirmation recently, as Prof. Gregory Snyder of Davidson College published his translation of a Greek inscription in Rome (NCE 156) which he says is a funerary epigram by a disciple of Valentinus, and contains “bridal chamber” imagery.

        • Certainly the Emperor has a ritual significance in Shinto – but we’re talking about the level of the Monarch being “the Supreme Governor of the Church of England as by Law Established” significance, not “Sapa Inca marries his sister as the Coya” significance.

          There’s a lot of details for the coronation of a monarch which are hold-overs from earlier times; for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, there was one part of the ceremony – the anointing – considered so sacrosanct that it was not televised. She was also presented with the ritual regalia including two sceptres, one symbolising spiritual and one temporal authority.

          Also, the monarch receives a ring symbolising his or her ‘marriage’ with the nation. I have no doubt there is some equivalent in the Japanese ceremonies to all these, and one could equally develop feverish fantasies about the British monarch engaging in ‘sacred marriage’ ceremonies.

          But I prefer to think that whatever the symbolism involved, the Emperor did not engage in sexual intercourse with his divine ancestress the Sun Goddess, whether in the person of a Shinto priestess or his own wife. Yes, the Emperor and Empress have duties to fulfil in Shintoism, but these kinds of ‘pagan exotic rituals!!!!’ stuff is no good to anyone and just makes Mr. Warner sound like he’s repeating salacious gossip.

    • Matt Purdum says:

      Seven days of creation, seven plagues — there’s nothing poetic or symbolic about four hills.

  8. sowarrior says:

    The Scariest thing about Wagner…………HE BELIEVES GODDESSES EXISTS. And he’s actually being taken seriously by some. WOW

  9. No, the scariest thing is that Wagner was behind Rick Perry’s prayer service.

    • I didn’t have an issue with Perry’s prayer service — as an idea. It’s who he brought in that bugged me: This guy, Mike Bickle, Lou Engle, Cary Gordon…these are not people to take seriously when it comes to prayer or Christianity.

      • If Perry can hang out with likes of Wagner, at what point do we owe Romney a collective apology?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          If 2008 is any example, Evangelicals should be dead-set against Romney for one and only one reason:
          He’s Mormon.

          In the 2008 elections, one prominent Romney supporter (a radio talk host with Christian connections) was interviewed by Christianity Today. All the comments on the online blog transcript of the interview were Denunciations of Mormon Theology.

        • Josh in FW says:

          :-) 2008

        • sowarrior says:

          a NAR supporter, a Mormon and a Jeremiah Wright parishoner are all running for President. Is Jerry Brown still a Zen Buddhist? He needs to join the race. Or a scientologist maybe.

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        On the other hand, this might be the explanation for why Terry Gross is interviewing this guy.

  10. In spite of Peter Wagner’s pretty impressive resume there is just something very odd about the New Apostolic Reformation folks. They mean well, I think, but many of them are just, well, strange. They use religious-sounding language, some of it even from the New Testament, but seem far removed from from historic, orthodox Christian beliefs. Many Calvinists, Reformers, and cessationists in general have been pointing fingers at the Pentecostals for more than a century now, and about the Charismatics for more than a half-century. But I don’t think they are going away. And I know people who hang on to every word of Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Lou Engels, Chuck Pearce, Ras Robinson, Dutch Sheets, John Paul Jackson, Rick Joyner, the list goes on and on….

  11. I’m all for people building the kingdom with prayer as opposed to manipulation, and I know demon possession is a real and present danger. His list sounds like seven good priorities to fight for on our knees. But once we start going into the realm of spiritualistic speculation, well, there’s no end to the potential of abuses.

    Plus their use of the term “apostolic…” Just creepy of you’re not Catholic or Orthodox.

    • The unfortunate thing is that there will be many Christians who hear Wagner and then conclude that. . .

      demonic oppression/possession does not exist today

      All prophetic gifts are being used in error

      All gifts of the spirit should be distrusted.

      However, I don’t think that this is the right conclusion to draw. It’s like my old SBC church which used passages like 1 Corinthians 14 to basically discourage speaking in tongues altogether, without the looking at the context of what Paul was trying to say about orderly worship.

      The problem with Wagner is the problem that every Christian leader faces and every follower of Jesus faces, when we put God in disrepute through our words or actions. We all have the power to turn people away from God with the the things that come out of our mouth.

      We can rightly look at the lack of accountability of so-called prophets, including Wagner, but when it comes down to it, there are very few of us that live with accountability today, even within the church.

      I would like to think that I am accountable to other followers of Jesus and that others would feel free to correct me, either in a church or small group setting, but is that the reality? Would they really feel like they could correct me? I am not sure.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The problem with Wagner is the problem that every Christian leader faces and every follower of Jesus faces, when we put God in disrepute through our words or actions.

        According to Every Goy’s Guide to Yiddish, there’s a word (or rather phrase) for this:
        “A Shanda fur die Goyim”.

  12. Here is a red flag, authoritarian style, about halfway through the interview. I’ve highlighted some of it in bold:

    WAGNER: The Bible teaches that apostles – related to prophets and also teachers – should form the basis of the government of the church. Now, up till now, recently, most churches in America functioned on a democratic system, so that the authority in the churches and the authority in the denominations resided in groups of people.

    And, of course, that’s what we’re used to politically in America, so that fits in very well with our culture. But in terms of the role of the apostle, one of the biggest changes from traditional churches to the New Apostolic Reformation is the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. And the two key words are authority and individuals, and individuals as contrasted to groups. So now, apostles have been raised up by God who have a tremendous authority in the churches of the New Apostolic Reformation. And I think this is the most radical difference between the old and the new.

    GROSS: So as an apostle, do you have special insight, special powers?

    WAGNER: God has chosen certain people from the church to have the gift of prophecy. And it says in the Old Testament, in the book of Amos, that God does nothing unless he first reveals his secrets to his servants, the prophets.

    So that’s a very key role. It hasn’t been recognized by the church very much up until the New Apostolic Reformation, but we recognize the role of prophet. And God speaks to them, and so those of us who are apostles are closely related to – not every prophet, but to certain prophets. And so we get a lot of our guidance from God through them.

    • Wow. I just don’t know what else to say.

      Why is the song “I am Superman” by R.E.M. suddenly playing in my head?

      • I don’t want to say that the gifts of the Spirit aren’t still in effect, but I think it’s in bad form to say, “I have the gift of prophecy” or “I am an apostle” or “I have the gift of discernment” (I heard that one several times by a woman who clearly didn’t have that gift).

        By coincidence, my pastor preached a bit about the role/definition of apostle on Sunday, and I agree with him that the term “apostle” should be reserved for those who had been with Jesus, or had seen the risen Lord, as Paul did.

        And if the gift of prophecy is still with us (and I ain’t sayin’ it ain’t) it may be on an as-needed basis, given by God. That is, not everything coming from a prophet should be considered prophecy. That could lead to pride from the individual or authoritarian rule among his followers.

        • Matt Purdum says:

          I automatically ignore anyone who puts the word “prophet” or “apostle” in front of his/her name. Like Fox News telling us they’re fair and balnced, that’s for us to decide, not them.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          And just WHAT does the “Gift of Discernment” mean?

          From the words alone, it should mean the ability to see beneath the surface to the reality of a situation.

          But in the contexts I’ve heard it used, it means seeing DEMONS!!! under every bed. Kind of like Spectral Evidence at Salem, Mass.

          • I have a close friend who has the gift of discernment. And he often comes into a situation and does see beneath the surface.

      • Good album … from a band that originated in your part of town…

        • Yes. The boys were still occasionally playing frat parties and at the old 40 Watt Club when I started attending/skipping classes at UGa.

      • Well I guess with this group you won’t be hearing REM “It’s the end of the world…” That’s only the Derbyistas!!

    • “But in terms of the role of the apostle, one of the biggest changes from traditional churches to the New Apostolic Reformation is the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals.”

      Mmmm-hmmm – and what are we, chopped liver? We have Apostolic Succession! (In fact, we insist on it for our bishops, else they ain’t bishops). We believe the Holy Spirit inspires the election of the Pope!

      Oh, but that’s all dangerous and false Romanism, ain’t it?

      Sounds like the man is setting up to be the first American Protestant Pope (Officially).

      • Martha, he seems to be alienating you Roman Catholic types as well as us congregational/baptist types. I could have highlighted this phrase too:

        “The Bible teaches that apostles – related to prophets and also teachers – should form the basis of the government of the church. Now, up till now, recently, most churches in America functioned on a democratic system, so that the authority in the churches and the authority in the denominations resided in groups of people.”

        I think he’s saying that our town meeting-style of church government is a bad idea. But here in rural USA we’ve always thought it was a good idea. And it works.

      • Martha, I’m not Catholic, but i have long observed that many Protestant Christian communities have a powerful case of Apostolic Succession Envy. This is just one of the more extreme examples.

      • The difference is that the mantle Wagner claims is much greater than the Pope. The Pope is just the successor to the Apostles–this guy claims to be a new one. The Pope was appointed by others (who were also appointed by others, who were also appointed by others, etc. Even you don’t agree with the idea of succession going back to the Apostles, you have to admit that the succession goes pretty far back)–these guys are just standing up and saying on their own, “Yeah, I’m an apostle, because, um, God told me so.” And the Pope, being Catholic, has a very high view of Tradition, and is highly limited by that Tradition in how he can interpret Scripture and doctrine–these guys can claim a move of the Spirit and pull just about anything out of their rear end.

        So, to answer Jeff’s original question: “…has Wagner and the NAR departed from what the Founding Fathers would recognize as even the barest form of Christianity?” I think it’s fair to say yes. There isn’t a single historic Christian tradition that has room for claiming to be an Apostle out of thin air. In all honesty, they probably would been burned at the stake by both the Protestants and the Catholics back when we did those kinds of nasty things.

        • You’re right on the money. It’s pathetic that people who would probably slam apostolic succession as an unbiblical and heretical teaching will nevertheless tolerate some guy to proclaim himself an “apostle” and then declare himself in possession of all kinds of exalted authority on that basis.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “TOUCH NOT MINE ANOINTED! DO MY APOSTLE NO HARM!!”

            THAT’s the reason. Cue Benny Hinn and his Holy Ghost Machine Gun. Or that guy who prayed aloud in court for Death, Destruction, and specific forms of Cancer to smite his accusers/victims.

        • The difference is that the mantle Wagner claims is much greater than the Pope. The Pope is just the successor to the Apostles–this guy claims to be a new one…

          i would think Wagner & his NAR ‘elite’ consider their calling & anointing & spiritual power+influence right now supercedes the original 12 Apostles, or is intended to do so in the near future…

          theirs is a different ‘class’ or category of apostolic authority. they pick up where the original apostles left off & then bring to perfection the coveted dominionist dictatorship (palatably peddled as being of ‘divine’ origin). they are able to receive & promulgate extra-biblical knowledge, pronouncements, prophecies, dreams, visions, manifestations, teachings, etc. they have a direct line to the Throne & God Himself shares only such ‘special’ wisdom with these very special few…

          what if they did begin to demonstrate supernatural powers though? what would the result be? what if they did can down fire from heaven? raise the dead? strike people dead with a word?

          would that be the real proof skeptics like myself would need to change their conclusions???

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            they have a direct line to the Throne & God Himself shares only such ‘special’ wisdom with these very special few…

            “Special Wisdom” or Occult Gnosis?

            what if they did begin to demonstrate supernatural powers though? what would the result be? what if they did can down fire from heaven? raise the dead? strike people dead with a word?

            Bring a statue of themselves to life and have it command that all who doubt The Anointed Apostle shall be killed for their blasphemy?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      WAGNER: The Bible teaches that apostles – related to prophets and also teachers – should form the basis of the government of the church.

      And Guess Who’s defined himself as an Apostle?

      Like I said above, it’s all about POWER.

    • Montanism. Where’s Augustine when you need him?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I thought Montanism meant “End-of-the-World Obsession”.

        • It means new revelations can be received with equal or greater authority as scripture.

          • Looking up “Montanus” online and boy, does this sound appropriate, dumb ox.

            “He believed he was a prophet of God and that the Paraclete spoke through him. Montanus proclaimed the towns of Pepuza and Tymion in west-central Phrygia as the site of the New Jerusalem, making the larger Pepuza his headquarters.

            He had two female colleagues, Prisca (sometimes called Priscilla) and Maximilla, who likewise claimed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Their popularity even exceeded Montanus’ own. “The Three” spoke in ecstatic visions and urged their followers to fast and pray, so that they might share these revelations. Their followers claimed they received the prophetic gift from the prophets Quadratus and Ammia of Philadelphia, figures believed to have been part of a line of prophetic succession stretching all the way back to Agabus and the daughters of Philip the Evangelist. In time, the New Prophecy spread from Montanus’ native Phrygia across the Christian world, to Africa and Gaul.”

            Claiming old titles, urging the primacy of prophecy, building the ‘New Jerusalem’… sounds like so many new plans we still hear today!

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Claiming old titles, urging the primacy of prophecy, building the ‘New Jerusalem’…

            …two female groupies in the Inner Ring…

            …and from the other meaning of Montanism, probably an end-of-the-world scare on top of everything else.

    • And this is why so many of these churches turn into very abusive systems. You are not allowed to “touch God’s anointed” or question anything. Loyalty is above truth. The Apostle is to be followed even if he is wrong because it is up to God to correct him. I know. I was in such a church and helped to lead it for 20 years before we woke up.

  13. Wow! Peter Wagner, a postmillenialist! Who would have thought it? I thought that stuff went out with World War I. Now it seems that if we can conquer the “seven mountains”, all will be right with the world.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      i.e. “We Seize Power, and Everything Will Be Perfect Forevermore! Free Ice Cream For Everybody!”

      How does this differ from classic Communists and their Revolution giving birth to the Perfect Communistic Society?

      • How does this differ from classic Communists and their Revolution giving birth to the Perfect Communistic Society?

        Maybe the whole God thing? Or perhaps capitalism?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “The whole God thing” becomes analogus to The Infallible Dialectic and Inevitable March of History, giving Cosmic-level blessing/justification to the whole thing.

          And “perhaps Captialism” is a different economic theory as the Means of Salvation. Communism begets Objectivism, and a lot of today’s extreme capitalist philosophy gets mighty close to Randian Objectivism.

  14. Fuller is a great seminary. I’d be interested to hear from any Fuller alumni about how Dr. Wagner has affected the World Missions department, for better or for worse. According to the interview, he was professor in that department for 30 years.

    • You have to understand Fuller is a different place, the school really is an ecumenical evangelical seminary. When I went there the largest single denomination served was the PCUSA, however a full 1/3 of the students were professed Charismatics. Fuller is also the place that birthed Rob Bell. Everyone from southern California goes there, at least everyone who isn’t a dispensationalist (they go to Talbot).

    • Ditto what Brendan said. Fuller is diverse in an ecumenical sense and they give a good deal of latitude. I highly doubt you’d see any official endorsement of everything Wagner said. When I went there I took classes from profs from a wide range of denominations. There were few hard-line dispensationalists or Calvinists, but other than that the representation was wide.

  15. For anyone who wants to listen to the interview you can go here:
    http://www.npr.org/2011/10/03/140946482/apostolic-leader-weighs-religions-role-in-politics

    Or you can get it on many of the iPhone, Android, etc… NPR programs.

    One big thing I noticed was the tone of the interview. They were discussing the emperor of Japan having sex with the Sun Goddess and you could have mistaken it as a description of how to change a spark plug on a lawn mower. No yelling, strong emotions, raised voices, emphatic point making, whatever. Wagner could have been discussing crop reports based on his voice and inflections.

    As to his dominion theories, I tend to agree with his concept that Christians should become involved in all the aspects of life wherever you live. Government, entertainment, etc.. If not then what do you have to complain about.

    But intermixed with all of that would be discussions of demons, apostolic succession, his wife’s 5 page diagnostic form for discovering if someone was demon possessed, the various categories of demons, etc… Apparently his wife has the gift of discovering demons while he does not.

    It would have been hard to make it all up if you tried.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But intermixed with all of that would be discussions of demons, apostolic succession, his wife’s 5 page diagnostic form for discovering if someone was demon possessed, the various categories of demons, etc…

      What was the source of this diagnostic form — or for that matter, all the details of this Demonology? Actual interviews translated from the original Enochian?

      Never mind Tatted Todd and “ANGELS! ANGELS! ANGELS!” –
      This is “DEMONS! DEMONS! DEMONS! SHEEKA-BOOM-BAH! BAMMMM!!!”

      …Apparently his wife has the gift of discovering demons while he does not.

      And Whosoever doubts this Obviously Has A DEMON!!!!!!!

      Welcome to Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World

      • I would love to get my hands on that form, but I think that it would be hard without being a member of their organization.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          I suspect a lot of the five-page form is variations on “If They Disagree In Any Way Whatsoever With Us The Anointed…”

  16. I just came out of 10 years in a church very influenced by NAR. I have been out of it for over a year. My comments are about that church in particular. I have reason to believe that it is similar to others in the NAR.

    There was a split at one point because the leader wanted to be declared an apostle and his wife the prophet. The split has since resulted in reconciliation and the leader is back again.

    In that fellowship, many of the people are from traditional evangelical backgrounds and are turned off by a lifeless Christianity that is focussed on what you believe (a set of propositions), so they are thrilled to embrace the charismatic and celebrative worship. They also are very serious about the role of community in the believers life. So they want to try something new, and feel that God is leading them on. People operating in the gifts of the spirit are very important in that movement. Sometimes this is to the exclusion of character.

    The ethos tends to be very apocalyptic, and all about what God is doing or intends to do. So concentrated on the prophetic that many of the practical details of life are ignored, like building a community that will last. The past does not exist, there is no tradition to draw from.
    In church government, we were very confused. Anxious to be moving with the spirit the belief is that ‘God is building a new container’ we don’t know what that looks like.

    Since we had rejected the past, there were no models left. So we were inventing something new. The problem is that our solutions look very much like expressions of our culture, only some were saying it was new. A few very gifted public speakers and strong charismatic individuals, good worship bands (strong on God-Rock). I felt it was a celebrity culture. And the group strongly eschewed thinking.

    A very strong belief that spiritual warfare is the norm for believers, and some would be called upon to combat the territorial demons. Lots of dreams and visions. So what equipping for the believer looks like tends to be focused around the topics of warfare. Not very much simple stuff like how do I pray and read scripture in meaningful ways. There was a small group of contemplatives there, but that was really passed over and ultimately rejected.

    There were some very good things in that community, but in the end, too much instability and just plain weirdness. In the end, the rejection of the mind will land them in trouble because they tend to lack theological depth.
    You can google the leaders and find out about beliefs: Bobby Connor, Stacey Campbell, Cindy Jacobs, Patricia King, Kansas City group

    My biggest concern is that people get involved and after a few years drop out and are so disillusioned with church. I won’t even touch on the theology, there are many minefields there.

    • I’m taking a class on church history in seminary right now, and the professor pointed out that throughout history, the church government has tended to reflect the model of the secular government.

      • I think he is right. It seems like Christianity is ultimately incarnational, it often takes on the flavour of where it grows.
        To me this is why we need to be thoughtful on how we do things. Vincent of Lerins (AD 400) had some thoughts on this when testing Christian teaching:
        “Care must especially be had that that be held which was believed everywhere [ubique], always [semper], and by all [ab omnibus].”

    • It sounds like the same church I came from. I’m sure it is not but I agree, if you have been in one NAR church you will feel like anyone speaking of one must be speaking of yours.

  17. Dana Ames says:

    I agree with Ted that the most telling part of the interview is this:

    “…the amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. And the two key words are authority and individuals, and individuals as contrasted to groups.”

    Problems:
    -the focus on authority
    -stressing the individual
    -implicit gnosticism

    Reflecting:
    -the extreme individualism of Evangelical Christian culture
    -an appalling lack of historical sensibility, especially the history of the church
    -Biblicism as Christian Smith describes
    -yes, succession envy
    -the rationale itself as a type of “witchcraft”, in that it asserts that if we do or facilitate X, God is *obliged* to do Y

    I have no reason to suspect that Wagner and Jacobs are insincere or hypocritical. However, there is so much wrong here theologically that it would take several books to articulate; I don’t care how long Wagner was a professor at Fuller. I say this is as someone who was a part of the Vineyard movement when Wagner was more influential in it than he is now, so I’ve been “on the inside” of this kind of approach to Christianity and life. I have to say, though, that I think if John Wimber were still around, he would be quite alarmed, and he would have no trouble delivering some very strong corrective words to Wagner & co.

    Dana

    • it was Wimber that welcomed the Kansas City Prophets oversight/vision/anointing…

      then quickly reversed his decision once it generated more disruption than clarity+direction…

      and he had to address the then Toronto Vineyard Fellowship (now TACF) regarding their uber-spiritual claims & ‘unique’ anointing. that fellowship only the most well known of various churches+pastors that exited the Vineyard over these very things…

      it was a proverbial, well, CF, er, charismatic foo-bar for the non-charismatic brethren out there…

      Lord have mercy… :(

      • Dana Ames says:

        At least Wimber could admit when he was wrong. Whatever confusion there was probably arose because people aren’t used to their leaders being able to do that. We all too willingly participate in the making of personality cults. John resisted that.

        Dana

        • once the prophetic genie was out of the bottle though, there was no going back…

          the rift that rippled thru the Vineyard the last few years that Wimber was alive still can be seen+felt today. John could not contain the controversy & maintain damage control after that…

          i truly believe he was shocked by the devestation it caused & never fully recovered from it…

          • Dana Ames says:

            That may be so; personally, he was also dealing with his own cancer, and the addiction of one of his children. It was not an easy time for him. I also think he got hurt because he trusted some people who were not entirely trustworthy.

            Dana

  18. I neglected to mention that Todd Bentley had links with NAR as well.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Is that how Tatted Todd acquired his Pet Angel “Emma”?

    • Bently? Shocking. Nothing says “Be Healed!” like a good kick in the face! :P

    • What about Jack Deere?

      • or James Ryle???

        • or John Bevere???

          • I’ve read a few books by John Bevere back in the day. Although he has some leanings toward the prophetic I truly truly hope he is not mixed up in anything like the NAR.
            some of his observations are very perceptive and worth reading.

          • I believe in the prophetic BTW. Some people seem to be more gifted than others when it comes to speaking the truth for the present moment. it’s just when people start emphasizing the “prophetic” as an office that i feel people stray. (not to mention those who call themselves ‘Prophet’ rarely speak any truth at all). I am also 100% convinced that Apostolic authority is the New Testament, and that alone. that 2000 years after all the Apostles are dead, people start suddenly appointing themselves as Apostles is kind of rediculous.

          • John Bever’s book “Under Cover” was the theology used to keep people obeying the “Apostle” even if he was wrong. It is an evil, evil book.

          • PTSD.

            John Bevere and “Undercover” was used at my old church to support and never question the authority of the leadership

            I would add a couple of evils to your evaluation.

          • Oh, well then. that’s too bad.
            i never actually heard of that book. i remember THE BAIT OF SATAN as being very good though, and THUS SAYS THE LORD? was very good as well.
            Refering to John Bevere’s writings as “theology” is definitely off, though. he’s more like a popular social and culture commentator.
            also, his commentary in THUS SAYS THE LORD? about the abuses of leadership seem, to me, to make him a very odd choice for advocating blind obedience to one’s leaders. but i havn’t read a book by him in over ten years so i don’t know.

          • i heard John Bevere speak at the large AoG church in the town i was living in at that time. i went because i actually thought his Thus Saith the Lord a positive effort at identifying the common abuses of the prophetic ministry+office…

            however, he did mention his time working for Benny Hinn & he emphatically made it clear to the audience that no one was to speak against Hinn as the Lord’s anointed…

            he was just another voice touting the official party/company line of the supra-spiritual celebrity ministry types that they are not to be questioned, critiqued, challenged or held accountable…

            i walked out at that point…

          • that’s good to know, thanx.
            though it does makes me wonder how a person can be so perceptive and then ignore his own observations.

  19. This is a sample of what is being taught in training sessions:

    1 “Prophetic and spontaneous singing”
    2 Prophetic Intercession
    3 Prayer Room
    4 Dreams & Visions
    5 Prophetic Mentorship/Prophetic Cell Groups
    6 igniting the supernatural by learning to pray for the sick.
    7 Next Generation Prophetic Training
    8 Prophetic Values
    9 “How to pray for people effectively”

    • Honestly, it sounds a lot like Christian shamanism.

    • Jack Heron says:

      How in the name of sanity do you teach spontaneous singing?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The same way the USSR and its Third World imitators had governmental bureaus and Party Commissars of Spontaneous People’s Demonstrations.

      • David Cornwell says:

        I always thought that was singing in the shower.

      • Glossolalia? That’s what leaps to mind when I see “spontaneous singing”.

        “No, you’re not babbling, don’t be embarrassed! Sha-na-na-na-la-la-la is the Spirit breathing through you!”

        • Jack Heron says:

          From which me may reasonably conclude that the Spirit is fond of 50s and 60s rock ‘n’ roll. And now I’m going to go away and work on an explanation of the Trinity built on the model of ‘We Go Together’ from Grease.

    • Ya, formal training in SPiritual warfare is absurd. People need to read things like “THE TRANSFORMING FRIENDSHIP” by James Houston, or read RIchard Foster. All these methods of prayer are a crazy byproduct of Enlightenment/modern thinking mixed into spirituality. prayer is not a science. neither does is look like a potion.

  20. Wagner & his peers+supports as well as those uber-prophetic (X-treme Prophetic) proponents & those that pompously parade the ‘title’ (always capitalized) Apostle (how about Chief Apostle?) or Prophet are the crazy uncles of the charismatic/evangelical fringe. As such, they do give a negative reputation to the Christian label as this one interview highlights…

    Those of us that are post-charismatic (Rob McAlpine aka robbymac) & have exited the supra-spiritual (hyper-spiritualism) camps can rightly ‘discern’ what is being touted by these people is not Holy Spirit sourced at all but is solely rooted in simple human ego & religious pride & gross deception…

    It is not innocuous though. It is dangerous. It is not simply corny or wacky or strange. It is itself the very category of ‘strange fire’ they are eager to point out in other people+events+faith expressions…

    It is a grand illusion of the deepest darkness because it claims to be the brightest light. The claims are so incredibly far-fetched; it makes the most intricate fantasy game play mere tiddlywinks in comparison!

    I have vented a few times on this site about the cacophony of prophetic-rhetoric & apostolic claims that are not going away soon. The popularity of this ‘stuff’ is worrisome in that it is tolerated & promoted & growing in influence…

    Christian shamanism. Holy magik. Supernatural spells of loosing+binding. Spiritual warfare of a highly sophisticated construct. Divine dominionism. Dreams, visions & out-of-body travel. Oy Vey! It is what I refer to as spooky-spiritual & not in the more commonly held understanding of spiritual mystery…

    There is no humility. No accountability. No correction. No chance for it to be self-policing. The only option left is for those that are involved is to escape once they come to their senses. Total exit without looking back. And it will take some serious detox/reprogramming once someone extricates themselves from its insidious teachings…

    Lord have mercy… :)

    • that should be a frowny emoticon… :(

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The claims are so incredibly far-fetched; it makes the most intricate fantasy game play mere tiddlywinks in comparison!

      Anyone else wish somebody could have turned these guys on to D&D before they discovered Spiritual Warfare? Then they could have gotten their role-playing fix as Mighty Magic-Users with a lot less RL collateral damage.

  21. Randy Thompson says:

    Gee.

    I always thought Peter Wagner was just a missions professor at Fuller.

    It looks like he’s re-contextualized himself on a grand scale!

  22. humanslug says:

    Wagner sounds like someone who has come to regard the workings of his own imagination as an infallible conduit of divine revelation — either that, or he’s someone who knows that the mystique of being an initiate in an exclusive world of secret knowledge is an easy way to lure many people in and maintain control of them.

    • The other possibility is that maybe he has seen some things that are real.

      The danger in all this is that some anti-charismatics have a field day and say ‘I told you so’.

      The truth is that there are spiritual realities that most of us rarely encounter. The New Testament speaks of them. And I am sure that some of us here have witnessed some of it. I would be wary of using this interview to write off the reality of malevolent spiritual beings.

      I believe in demonization because I have seen it. What I have a hard time with is the way this movement reacts to it, and the hype they generate is enough to make me want to deny it all and say it all stems from bad pizza and coke consumed last night!

      • humanslug says:

        I’m certainly not anti-charismatic. I believe that the spiritual gifts mentioned in the NT are still in play, and I really like exuberant, energetic worship. I also believe in demons and have had some encounters with the demonic myself.
        But, from my own first-hand experience in charismatic circles, there tends to be a problem with keeping people’s feet grounded firmly on the foundational truths of the Gospel and avoiding rabbit chases that can take whole congregations on a trip through Wonderland. I guess I’m talking about a deficiency in balance, moderation, and honest self-examination as individuals and as church bodies.
        And there also seems to be a problem with accountability at the top. Here in my corner of the Bible Belt, there are far too many pastors, preachers, and self-proclaimed prophets who rule as absolute monarchs and unchallenged oracles of all truth over their congregations. They’ve created church environments where no one dares to question them (not publicly anyway), and if you do openly question their particular take on end times prophecy or church doctrine or whatever, you’ll be shown to the door pretty quick.
        I don’t doubt that God still gives prophetic messages through whomever He choses to deliver them — but with so much pseudo-prophetic garbage polluting the airwaves these days, I think we all have to be very, very cautious about lending our ears to every Elijah wannabe who comes along.

        • I am with you 100%

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Here in my corner of the Bible Belt, there are far too many pastors, preachers, and self-proclaimed prophets who rule as absolute monarchs and unchallenged oracles of all truth over their congregations.

          I believe that’s commonly called “A God-King”.

          Or the Christianized derivation of it, “Rule by Divine Right.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      …or he’s someone who knows that the mystique of being an initiate in an exclusive world of secret knowledge…

      Isn’t that the very definition of Gnosticism and The Occult?

      “Gnostic” = One Possessing Special Knowledge
      “Occult” = Hidden/Secret

  23. I actually thought his responses were not as bad as maybe a Pat Robertson or a Jerry Falwell (in the past) would have been. Don’t agree with everything, especially the continual over-emphasis on the demonic and territorial spirits (though I do believe in demonisation). But I don’t think it was so bad.

  24. Donegal Misfortune says:

    It seems as if Christians fear the word “dominion.” Why is it that anytime that someone has the testicular fortitude to actually publicly say that Christians need to be involved in positions of authority in various spheres of influence from arts to politics to zoology a red flag is raised not by the secular world as they would raise red flags just for the fact that a Christian is around them but by those in the Church itself. I think the North American Church has become way too accustomed to passivity and eye in the sky escapism. How is it that you can work with someone for a decade or two and not even know that they are a brother in Christ? Must be passivity and fear. Why is it that Christians have fallen out of positions of influence in these seven various venues? Must be escapism, where everyone is waiting on the rapture so there is no reason to do anything except go to Church. Why is it as a Christian it is fine to start an auto shop and work on peoples’ cars but to aspire to be on the board of one of the Big Three seems so taboo? Why is it fine to volunteer at or even be a director of a shelter or soup kitchen but to aspire to run a Hospital or even operate a county/state health commission is taboo? Why is it ok to teach our children, teach Sunday School, teach at a parochial school but to aspire to teach at a secular university, ivy league college, or help operate the DoE is taboo? It seems like it is ok or spiritual or who-knows-what-and-why for Christians to operate at a very grassroots, get to know everyone, potluck level but the moment that a brother in Christ gains a little ambition and begins to have influence over a greater sphere than just chums and buds we begin to fret. We would rather see and support the plethora of secularist who have grown quite comfortable at the upper echelons of influence than to see and support a single brother in Christ. Now, from what I hear and read, this one guy isn’t actually running or operating anything, but pointing out that Christians ought not to fear climbing ladders and breaking ceilings that we have allowed ourselves under.

    • I wish I could spend an hour with you and discuss this. I believe Christians SHOULD be in the highest places of serving our country could offer. But here is the rub. A true believer will rise to those places, not to rule and reign but to serve. In that last sentence is what I found missing in all their lives that I personally watched. It was for power. You could see what kind of leader they were going to be when they got to the top of on of those mountains by watching what they were doing on the little hills they now ruled. I can’t even begin to describe the abuse, grab for power, elitism, mis-handling of money for their own interests, ignoring the poor except to make a splash so that people could see their good works, the hierarchy in their own churches and so on. It was like being in a family of the upstanding deacon of the church that no one knows beats his kids and slaps his wife while screaming obscenities. It all may look good on the outside but the kids know the real story.

      • A true believer will rise to those places, not to rule and reign but to serve.

        YES, more of this…..

        • “I believe Christians SHOULD be in the highest places of serving our country could offer. But here is the rub. A true believer will rise to those places, not to rule and reign but to serve.”

          Quote of the day.

      • Donegal Misfortune says:

        I completely agree. Those positions are in and of themselves opportunities to exercise some sort of rule though. If a Christian judge sentences someone, he not only serves the community but has just imposed a rule on someone as well. If someone is in a position in politics and is serving the country, he also must rule over those around him making sure that there is no misbehavior occurring or else throw them out. SO, yes, the position includes both serving and ruling in higher positions.

  25. Tim van Haitsma says:

    He is very crazy. No 2 ways about it. The problem is where do you draw the line on crazy? What is the yardstick to measure? This has always been the issue with theology.

  26. There was a fantastic piece done by This American Life about similar prayer combat groups in Colorado Springs. Listen to it here.

    This sort of thing actually makes me think of the Benandanti in 17th century Italy. They supposedly turned into wolves during the night to fight witches in the fields in the name of Jesus. They all considered themselves good Christians but had a strange set of pagan beliefs tacked on top of their traditional ones. Luckily, Italy was not a witch-burning type of place, so they simply had to recant and perform penance to gain good standing in the Catholic Church again. It wasn’t like they were Lutherans, after all.

  27. Several good posts, I learned a lot from KEN’s experiences, especially. I’ll fast forward to “what do we do…” This has been on my mind a lot since a grew up in, and still have relatives in the IHOP neighborhood. I literally drive by their SRO parking lot weekly. What to do ?? Stop by the coffee shop they run and try to win back the 20 somethings to some kind of saner christianity ?

    I”ve decided to drive by and let Jesus sort this one out as HE will. By NOT investing as much energy into fighting the IHOP branch of NAR, I have more energy left to paint houses, ride my bike(s), and walk the dog. Plus I worry less. Granted, IF an individual conversation/situation came up where someone needed to know what NAR was all about, then I might start a rant, but these kind of movements LOVE opposition, and even seem to thrive on it. Maybe it’s better not to feed that animal.

    For what it’s worth, the apocalyptic business seems to be booming over at IHOP, though I have no doubt that thousands cycle in and cycle out. Wonder what happnes to all the thousands that cycle out ?? Interesting that they (IHOP) has such an international pull.

    • OH, p.s: what makes this a story to NPR, is NOT the weird theology, but the political tie in to Gov. Perry. If it weren’t for that, I don’t think they’d be very interested, not that I blame them. USUALLY, Mike Bickle and IHOP are very non-political (in the specifics). I think Lou Engle dragged them into this one.

    • Good idea. I realized awhile back that I simply do not have the stamina to be a Discernablogger. There’s too much guilt-by-association and tilting at windmills involved to make it a full-time thing. That doesn’t mean that I won’t pay attention to some of the more popular cult-like groups that make the news or delve into stories about the latest personality cults and fads in Prayer/worship/music that pop up. IHOP and Bill Johnson gets a bit of attention from me because they have devout fans at a nearby radio station I used to listen to, and occasionally their music gets brought into friends’ churches who wonder if it’s any good. But I can’t sit on the Internet and take notes on sermons all night. I can’t imagine that’s any more healthy that an Wagner and his followers are doing.

      That said, there are some rather depressing stories about people who have left IHOP realizing that they know nothing about their faith and wasted years and thousands of dollars on vague prophets. Unfortunately they seem to be increasing.

      • In my small church of no more than 100 people at a given time, I can list close to 200 people that have left destroyed. Can you imagine how many more would be destroyed by a larger church?

        • Yes I can.
          It is hundreds. We have met people who left 10 years ago and are still messed up over it.
          We peaked at over 800 people. Lost hundreds (down to 300 or so).

          To try to fix it leaders turned the clock back to 2000, same board, same leaders.

          We laughingly joke around here that the greatest contribution it has made has been to other churches. It is tragic. Because people come to believe that the church is God’s ultimate, the best ever. And so they have high hopes. And when it falls flat they are devastated.

    • conanthepunctual says:

      I also live near IHOP. I can tell you ignoring them is not working if we’re hoping they’ll fall apart under the weight of their troubled doctrine. They are growing exponentially; bit by bit they are taking over the city in which they are based.

      I know some of the leaders within IHOP and I can tell you that all of the ones I know fairly well are wonderful, kind people. For various reasons, I am unable to engage with them on doctrinal differences. If I were I think the main thing I would want to keep in mind is that they are very much siblings in God.

      That being said I do find some of their ideas dangerous but ironically enough the only thing I feel I can do is pray for them (which is, of course, supposed to be their specialty).

      • They are growing exponentially; bit by bit they are taking over the city in which they are based.

        I will disagree with both of these, though I admit to not having Michael Bell-like stats behind me. Yes, they are growing, and from what I hear have multiple millions socked away for the new convention center/school planned for Grandview, and lots of acreage in south KC. But that’s a far cry (I’m thinking) from “taking over the city”. Most here still wouldn’t know a Bickle from a Buckle. Many of their numbers are from out of state, even out of the country (many south koreans).

        By ignoring them, I’m not saying I think they’ll just go away, it’s more a statement that my time is better spent following the person of Jesus than tilting at that windmill. Indivividual and more private one on one conversations is another story, and GOD will provide those as HE will. In my experience, discern-a-blogging and watchdogging is more often than not just counter productive, but that’s my take and strategy, not everyong will go with that.

        GregR

    • very sad to note that it is the youth that are caught up in the uber-prophetic/apostolic/signs+wonders demonstration expressions…

      since they do not have a long faith journey track record, they are susceptible to the religious hype & the X-treme claims+promises fed them from their so-called leadership…

      {sigh}

      what they have to deal with is supernatural one-upmanship, supra-spiritual competition, sensationalist experiences & dramatic manifestations…

      it is scary. and it is promoted using cult-like disciplines: extreme asceticism such as all nite prayer vigils, fasting, corporate worship mixed with manifestations, various outreach efforts…

      the leaders of these movements are manipulating the youth by taking advantage of their energy, naivete, loyalty & desire to be part of a group dynamic…

      it is insidious. i believe it is evil. itself a twisted element of Christianese faith claims+expressions…

      and yes, i do agree there are more severely dissatisfied souls exiting these camps once they find out for themselves the claims do not come close to their personal experiences…

      Lord have mercy… :(

  28. NAR is nothing that a long fast from Frank Peretti novels can’t cure. :o

  29. David Cornwell says:

    I haven’t even thought about Wagner since I gave up on the church growth movement many years ago. I wondered where these guys went.

    • I wondered where these guys went…

      off the proverbial theological cliff chasing after the ways/errors/doctrines of Balaam… :(

  30. I read “Territorial Spirits” by Wagner several years back. I assumed it was just a speculative case study on certain themes within the Old Testament.
    a few years later I brought up the book in a discussion with some of my bible school instructors. They informed me of this NAR movement and they told me to check out some of the NAR websites and judge for myself how orthodox they were. I was truly shocked at the NAR vision/mission statements and their theology.
    also, i had read a few of Rick Joyner’s books over the years and really enjoyed them. I thought he was very effective in pointing out the secularizing of North American Christianity, and the call for internal reform. however, after reading what the NAR was about, i went back and reviewed these books only to find some very different themes within these books. it seems the “reform” is intended to be under the direction of Prophets and apostles who overtake the leadership of local churches.
    basically, the whole organization is self appointed and self perpetuating. the one self appointed apostle upholds the validity of another who, in turn, uphold the other’s validity. They delliberately undermine the leadership of local congregations and attempt to force themselves as the true “spiritual leadership”. I witnessed it myself when a person boldly entered the congregation I was attending and began telling everyone that the leadership must submit to her God appointed spiritual direction as a prophetic leader (although at that time I had not heard of NAR, but I quickly concluded that a prophet, whether real or not, has no authority to do such a thing). I had heard of similar stories in other churches. This group is radically unorthodox and dangerous. It’s blatantly gnostic, and void of accountability. How do you contend against “God told me”? they’re also grossly self-agrandizing.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      basically, the whole organization is self appointed and self perpetuating. the one self appointed apostle upholds the validity of another who, in turn, uphold the other’s validity.

      In the Cornerstone expose of Mike Warnke, this was referred to as “Larry-Moe-Curly Documentation”, and is also common in Conspiracy Theories.
      Larry cites Moe as an authority/source;
      Moe cites Curly;
      Curly cites Larry…

      It’s blatantly gnostic, and void of accountability. How do you contend against “God told me”? they’re also grossly self-agrandizing.

      My writing partner says the scariest Dominionist website he has ever encountered is titled “God Hath Said”.

      Because “God Told Me/God Hath Said” kicks everything up to Cosmic Importance. Everything.

      • At my SBC church, leadership pretty much mocked anyone who claimed that “God told me.”

        But they were even worse, because instead they would tell you “I prayed about it and this is what you should do.”

        Since they were “the leader” and more or less represented God, the right response, even if you thought your leader was totally wrong, is obedience. So basically, they cut out the middle man (God) altogether.

        Honestly, I can’t listen to that hymn “Trust and Obey” with same sense of innocence. They totally ruined it for me.

  31. Casting demons out of government is a nice idea…but it will further destroy the property values in D.C.

  32. I tried researching and using my “research” as a teaching tool for my friend who is heavily involved in the IHOP movement. Completely backfired on me! It almost tore our relationship up and I almost lost my best friend. I was terrified that she was involved in this and thought she should be made aware of what was in the doctrines of these people. After almost losing her friendship, I decided that I needed to respect her and her beliefs and leave the subject alone for awhile.

  33. Several people have expressed they view that the NAR folks are crazy. But against what ruler?

    And I think this is where a lot of the authoritarian leadership comes from in SBC and evangelical churches. It is a rebellion against the “everyone can read and interpret scripture”. After watching many congregants “go off the rails” they figure someone needs to be in charge. Of course when those in charge go off their own rails, well looking in the mirror can be hard at times.

    • I have never thought of them as crazy, and anyone who would say that is likely wrong (IMHO). Although there may be individuals in the ranks that may be.

      In my limited circle at first I was impressed with the fact that they recognized that church was no longer working for many people, and we needed to take a serious look at change. So we began to model a community that was trying to listen to Jesus voice and obey. Hey, the emergents and even my fellow Imonks also admit this. The big flaw in my opinion is a refusal to engage the mind. Instead we say a lot of it has to come through revelation.

      Crazy, no. Sincere, dedicated, and too self confident. In my limited circle I felt that some were not self-reflective and thoughtful enough, so they were unable to see their own brokeness.

      They believe that they are latching onto what God has for them, and they are obeying his voice. I think the problem is not realising that our pride and sin can tinge everything that we do. Sometimes thats why God places vocal critics in our lives. We can choose to listen, or harden our attitudes.

      I have often felt that if they were willing to look at history they would see that others before have done similar things, often with poor results. I have concluded if we throw out our Christian past we become impoverished and are taken captivity to some expression of contemporary thought or practice.

  34. I don’t know if anyone will even see this, but may I point out that if discernment were being properly exercised in the church, that in itself would be a check on the excesses noted about Wagner, et al. If you think about it, no one likes a person with discernment. They are the people who, just when you have found a wonderful theme for discussion, and everyone wants to run with it, will interrupt and tell you that you are missing this or that point. They always seem to notice the fly in the ointment. Leaders shy away from them, because they don’t like correction any more than the rest of us. In fact, those with the gift often shy away from exercising it because it makes them unpopular. That may be part of the reason many of us prefer to post on blogs. At least we can make a point or two without being shut down or ignored.

    I don’t know how you get there, but I think if we really got the idea that we are one body, with Jesus (not some fallible human) as our head, and that all the gifts should be operating through all the members at all times, these sorts of excesses would be held in check. It would require that the leaders be humble enough to really listen to the least of the members, however. It sounds pretty far from the average leader’s assessment of his reason for being. Perhaps a starting point would be to look at your leader and try to imagine him or her washing your feet, as Jesus did the disciples. If you cannot even imagine that, look for someone more humble.

    • I would argue that in all likelihood there were people with discernment around. I am willing to bet in every case where a church gets into this that there are those who see clearly that something is amiss.

      In our case, I know they were there. And they spoke. And were not listened to. And they left. In fact, a few hundred left. Leaders still did not listen.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Something similar happened in a job/business environment I was in back in the early Eighties.

        There we called it “an employee mutiny”.

        This sounds like the congregation mutinied.

    • This sounds on track to me

  35. As a Holy Ghost pointed apostle I can ashore you theres demons in Japan. Lots of demons, in all kinds of diffrent shapes, and we gotta catch em all.

  36. The 1st website below is a transcript of an interview with Dr. Wagner, the second is the interview itself. The 3rd is of another transcript of an interview with VOA, and the 4th is the actual interview with VOA (scroll down).

    http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=140946482

    http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=140946482&m=141006184

    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/10/2/224250/849

    http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Religious-Movement-Linked-to-Texas-Governor-Stirs-Controversy-129411833.html

  37. Jesus Christ would have to choose his apostles. Apostles may not choose themselves.

    Jesus chose the original twelve apostles, and when a replacement was needed (to replace Judas Iscariot), they nominated two who met the criteria of (a) one of the disciples who had been with them from the beginning, and (b) who had been a witness with them of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. The apostles them prayed for the Lord to show them which he chose, and they drew lots, and the lots fell upon Matthias.

    Later Saul became an apostle being chosen personally by the Lord in through a vision.

    So unless these “new” apostles can demonstrate that Christ chose them to be apostles in a manner similar to the examples above, then they are fakes.

    What to do about it? (1) Allow them the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of the conscience, (2) Rigorously investigate and research their claims and their organizations, and (3) publish those findings.

    My personal bias is to distrust the new apostolic reformation as just another form of apostasy that is so common in Christianity designed to attract followers and their donations.

  38. It wasn’t until I heard the NPR interview that I remembered my pastor handing out a list of the seven mountians and asking us to pray for God to raise up people in these areas to be light in darkness. That made me a little nervous that I may be involved in a church that has lightly disguised this whole apostolic/prophet thing with more pallatable terms like mothers and fathers of a movement that speak into our lives. I thought “doggoneit, have I been sucked in again?” From the pendulum swings of southern baptist, “its not for today” to the aog and foursquare brother and sister so and so manipulating mouths to say “ba ba ba, yes, thats it youve got it youve got the holy ghost, I have lived a lifetime of bifurcating trails each time I come to a denomination or nondenomination dogma that smacks of power taking or pet beliefs that just dont seem to line up with my earnest search for the real deal. Nazarene sanctification, being able to “live above sin” I dont think so. Have to speak in tongues to be filled with the Spirit, I dont think so. Now cautiously meeting with a group of believers that says a lot of the right stuff, “Its about family and being in each others lives, breaking bread, worship, prayer, studying the word together…” So I want to believe it but there is this faint knot in my stomach when I hear Wagner on NPR…its kinda been the “atmosphere” at my church….where one of the pastors job descriptions must be, “stir congregation into a frenzy then name a body part to be healed.” Its usually only this one person in our church that has the freedom to do that and he is paid nicely to do that. His papal succession is supported by a son and wife on staff “overseeing” other ministries. Hes also the one that gets to decide if a mere lay person has heard from God or if they have it “fits with whats going on” 24/7 prayer, ok, boiler room, ok, lots of christians and non believers who are never nurtured to discover and fulfill their createdness, not ok…Im wondering if the fathers and mothers of this movement know the basics of bonding..it seems like its the prophet/apostle thing with smoke and mirrors. Pray for the kingdom of heaven to come on earth? Is it possible that might begin with understanding what our own thumbprint means to God and the world…the value represented there, the fierce adventue we could have helping each other discover that? Thats what saddens me about any movement that is structured on oneupmanship….of course there would be those who would say I need to be delivered/healed from the hurtful effects of religiosity in order to be qualified to be heard….in my field thats called blaming the victim…Im just sayin…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      His papal succession is supported by a son and wife on staff “overseeing” other ministries.

      During my cathechism in the RCC, I heard that one of the practical reasons for mandatory priestly celibacy was to prevent dynasties from arising within the Church. This was during a time when What Was Normal was political power and entire countries inherited from father to son as personal property. With mandatory celibacy, there would be no legitimate heirs to pass down a diocese or Papacy, and the Church would maintain integrity.

      And we have seen such dynasties arise (and often as not, collapse into inheritance blood feuds) among a lot of Evangelical Celebrities. As an example, didn’t Blinky Osteen inherit his church/ministry from his father? And isn’t one of Crystal Cathedral’s fatal problems a fight among the founder’s heirs?