A Case of Pinocchio’s Nose
by Sandy Simpson
Recently Peter Wagner who heads up the new apostolic prophet movement with Chuck Pierce had sent out:
AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM PETER August 19, 2011
THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION an Update (the complete letter is posted on http://www.globalspheres.org/)
His letter begins about being surprised the New Apostolic Reformation has become a topic of discussion in the political media. Connections with Sarah Palin’s, Michelle Bachman, and Rick Perry. Stating “the NAR has become a tool in the hands of certain liberal opponents of the conservative candidates designed to discredit them on the basis of their friendship with certain Christian leaders supposedly affiliated with the NAR. To bolster this attempt, they seek to accuse the NAR of teaching false doctrine and paste on it the label of “cult.” For example, Forgotten Word Ministries posts an article by Marsha West expressing concerns about Rick Perry’s prayer assembly in Houston on August 6, that uses the title: “Texas Governor’s Upcoming Leadership Event Includes Cult Members”
While I certainly do not agree with the lefts politics or progressive ideology, I and others cannot ignore the influence that can take place for these presidential candidates. Whether they are on the left or right should not matter. These candidates friendship is not the cause of apprehension. I and others are more concerned about the candidates becoming a tool for the NAR’s agenda that seems to find a way to influence numerous people and organizations. Whom the candidates are involved with is relevant. We can see how this matters from the perspective of the left, with the president’s current spiritual advisors.
Moving away from politics, ‚ I would like to cover a portion of Wagner’s update to show how they ‚ reconfigure their ‚ by changing the meaning of their words (as they have done with the office of apostle and prophet and their practice of spiritual warfare).
Wagner: What Is the NAR?
“The NAR is definitely not a cult. Those who affiliate with it believe the Apostles’ Creed and all the standard classic statements of Christian doctrine. It will surprise some to know that the NAR embraces the largest non-Catholic segment of world Christianity. It is also the fastest growing segment, the only segment of Christianity currently growing faster than the world population and faster than Islam.”
“The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader. I have been called the “founder,” but this is not the case. One reason I might be seen as an “intellectual godfather” is that I might have been the first to observe the movement, give a name to it, and describe its characteristics as I saw them. When this began to come together through my research in 1993, I was Professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, where I taught for 30 years. ‚ ‚ The roots of the NAR go back to the beginning of the African Independent Church Movement in 1900, the Chinese House Church Movement beginning in 1976, the U.S. Independent Charismatic Movement beginning in the 1970s and the Latin American Grassroots Church Movement beginning around the same time. I was neither the founder nor a member of any of these movements, I was simply a professor who observed that they were the fastest growing churches in their respective regions and that they had a number of common characteristics.”
We are not surprised a movement has growth from orchestrating an army of speakers sent to churches worldwide convincing them they are inadequate and cannot succeed without these new apostles does not validate a movement as genuine.
Wagner is claiming he does not want to be labeled a cult. He, as a teacher, ignores the fact that there are cults within Christianity that do confess many of the tenets of the apostles creed on paper, they just don’t implement them in practice.
Sociologist, John Lofland, comments that ‘”cults are ‘little groups’ which break off from the conventional consensus and espouse very different views of the real, the possible, and the moral.” (Quoted in Ronald Enroth, “What Is a Cult?” in A Guide to Cults and New Religions 1983, p.14.)
The late Walter Martin described a cult like this: “as a group of people gathered about a specific persons interpretation of the bible… from a theological view point, the cults contain not only a few major deviations from historic Christianity.“ (Kingdom of the Cults p.11)
A cult in its most simplistic meaning operates in falsehood, either theologically, sociologically or both (in beliefs and practices). Some are theologically dangerous others are sociologically dangerous. ‚ Not all cults are physically harmful, but they are harmful spiritually.While the cults more often operate using control, they also operate in falsehood and will have secrets that are not public. They claim to have a new or better way applied to various aspects of Christianity, ‚ more often about salvation. ‚ This aspect is seen in the NAR as they state the church will not succeed without incorporating their apostles and prophets.
The Bible has other alternatives to using the term “cult”, and they are no less damaging. The Bible directly addresses errors in teaching and practice ‚ and applies words such as “heresy,” “heretic,” “false teachers,” “false prophets,” “false apostles, and “false Christ’s.” So even if one is not categorized in the pejorative term of “cult” there are other biblical words, equally sufficient to describe the meaning. If we abandon this word we have Schisms, divisive, a breaking away, all connected to heresy (Rom.16:17-18).
Would it be better to call it group heresy — bringing division in the church? 1 Jn.2:19 – those who promote these divisive teachings do not always leave the church but stay inside to convince others,
Heresy is a teaching, doctrine or practice that goes beyond the apostles’ teachings, (what is written 1 Cor. 4:6), it introduces something new or contrary to the Scripture (new revelation and prophesy i.e. spiritual warfare; dominionism, kingdom now; manifest sons of god doctrine etc) ‚ ‚ ‚ ‚ ‚ I see heresy being introduced into the Church through new “revelation” and “prophesy.”
This movements prototype was observed before the modern date of 1993 mentioned. Wagner was associated with John Wimber when the prophets came into Wimbers church and the prophetic movement was presented to the body of Christ distributing the Latter Rain teachings that were rejected in the late 40’s.
Wagner states: “A key part of my own spiritual pilgrimage was my close friendship with John Wimber, which began in the mid-1970’s“ (The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit p.27).
Wagner: “I teamed up with John to offer a new course in Fuller Seminary, MC510, first called “Signs, Wonders and Church Growth,” later renamed “The Miraculous and Church Growth“ (ibid. p.24). “I agreed to cosponsor the course with him, and early in 1982 we experimented with it.“ (On The Crest Of The Wave, p.131-132, C. Peter Wagner, 1983.)
Are we to think that Wagner did not hear or was aware of the message the prophets spoke at the Vineyard on “restoring completely apostolic leadership, apostolic authority-the hope of the church, the hope of the world, is the apostolic ministry”¦. God has invited us to have a role in establishing this New Order of Christianity …“ (Vineyard Prophecy School 1989, cited in Beware of the New Prophets, p. 32 by Bill Randles).
Is not Wagner’s message the same when he says “you are being called to reshape the face of Christianity“ (National School of The Prophets Mobilizing The Prophetic Office, C. P. Wagner May 11, 2000). Quotes like this are an endless stream from the prophets.
In fact Wagner admits he not only attended the Vineyard in those years but brought it to his own church. “I’d go down to the Vineyard to get charged up, and then the next Sunday they would come to my congregational church and discharge “¦about every, every, every new thing that came into the Vineyard uh 3 months, 4 months later, 6 months later, I mean, it was right there in that congregational church “¦” “”¦now were getting to 1989 and we have this going, and all of a sudden John gets in touch with the Kansas City Prophets, now that time Mike Bickle whose one of our speakers here “¦and Paul Cain was one of the prophets”¦” (C.P. Wagner, National School of the Prophets tape #1 May 11, 2000.)
They count on those introduced to the apostolic prophet movement as being Bible illiterate and not knowing church history so they can introduce their new concepts or refashion new meanings to Scripture without being challenged. This is a large scale experiment like Silvoso did in Argentina with introducing his spiritual warfare (Resistencia). [Wagner endorsed and promoted a spiritual warfare assault on Mt. Everest where these spiritual warfare teachings were used to overcome the Queen of Heaven]– which has to been to be believed!
C. Peter Wagner states “I believe that the government of the church is finally coming into place and that is the, the scripture teaches in Eph. 2 that the foundation of the church is apostles and prophets“ (CBN interview Jan.3, 2000).
The whole new movement is based on a false interpretation of Ephesians 4. The word used in Ephesians 4:11 is from the base of the same Greek word that was used in Ephesians 2:20. ‚ Ephesians 2:19- 20: “having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.”
It speaks of the apostles and prophets used in the infancy of the church to build a FOUNDATION. Not to continue building a church. The foundation was fashioned once for all. The office of “apostles and prophets,” are the recipients of the entire revelation of truth from Jesus Christ, and they gave it to the church. The entire inspired transmission of teachings is given in the New Testament for all generations. It did not run out and now we need new “apostles and prophets.”
Besides the fact, an apostle had to have been commissioned directly by Jesus, by seeing him after he resurrected on earth (Acts 1:21), or they could not be called to the office and exercise the same authority. Those who claim the office without this are called “false apostles” in Scripture. Likewise if one is not inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak infallible prophesy (these new prophets admit they are wrong), they are called “false prophets, by the Scripture.”
But Wagner’s position in his update is that we have a non completed revelation (better described as open ended scripture). Why then would John write of the Scripture “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.” (2 Jn. 1:9). Or Paul who wrote the majority of the New Testament telling the church ‚ “not to think beyond what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6).
Wagner in this update actually states: “We adhere to the major tenets of the Reformation: the authority of Scripture” then later at the bottom of his letter — “Extra-biblical revelation. Some object to the notion that God communicates directly with us, supposing that everything that God wanted to reveal He revealed in the Bible. This cannot be true, however, because there is nothing in the Bible that says it has 66 books. It actually took God a couple of hundred years to reveal to the church which writings should be included in the Bible and which should not. That is extra-biblical revelation. Even so, Catholics and Protestants still disagree on the number. “¦He also reveals new things to prophets as we have seen. The one major rule governing any new revelation from God is that it cannot contradict what has already been written in the Bible. It may supplement it, however.”
No it is NOT extra-biblical revelation ““ it was already written down from the apostles before the church agreed. The problem is that Wagner cannot recognize what contradicts Scripture because he is not using the Bible as his absolute guide but new revelation from new prophets. One only needs to look at the prophecies, doctrines and practices used by them that are made equal to the Bible to understand the dilemma they have. (See video on Spiritual warfare)
Wagner brings up Catholics and Protestants still disagreeing on the number of books. To which church had is revealed what books should be included in the Bible? By his own view it still is not settled? So he uses this excuse to accept today’s prophets. What a lackluster explanation. One would expect more weight from the apostle over other apostles.
God does communicate to every believer (he is a living God that can speak) but what is spoken is not equal to writing new inspired scripture. God does not give new revelation but explains the revelation already written. Herein lies the problem, the teachings of the foundational apostles are considered authoritative, infallible truth, as if spoken by Jesus (through the Holy Spirit) and has been, and is our inspired scripture (Jude 1:17; 2 Peter 3:15,16). For this reason Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:2, this is the basis for any teaching in the church.
Their new Christianity shows disdain for the foundation Jesus and the apostles laid. After the death of the last ‚ men whom Christ appointed to these office[s] there would be no more authoritative, foundational apostles as mentioned in the Bible. Furthermore, there is no Scripture in the Bible that teaches a continuance of office or the church is to have new apostles later in history to justify this movement. Again, the foundation was laid in the first century and we have 19 centuries of church built upon it.
But Wagner teaches, “The rhema is regarded as a more immediate word from God which we do not find in the 66 books of the Bible“ (Engaging the Enemy, by C. Peter Wagner, 1991, pp.15-16).Apparently more truth is now needed for a new foundation; this is their circular path they orbit in.
Jesus said: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” And you shall know the truth and truth will set you free.”
Wagner claims the NAR is not an organization and has no leader. To have leadership means either someone or a group is in charge, directs, or gives instructions. This is what the original apostles did; they gave commands from the Lord (2 Thess. 3:4; 1 Cor.14:37). Over and over we hear how the new apostles and prophets are liken to, or compare themselves to the original apostles. But Wagner is now stating he or others are not leading.
“The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader. I have been called the “founder,” but this is not the case.“
Let’s look at just a few of their own quotes over the years to see if this is actually the case.
No one can join ““ you have to be invited. Membership is attained only by an official invitation from the ‚ Convening Apostle of ICA. Other apostles or the church recognize one as having the gift and office of apostle
“He became the Presiding Apostle of the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) and also founded a more intimate group for apostolic alignment.” (globalharvest.net). He is also the Founder WLI Canadian National Office C. Peter Wagner – Founder/International Chancellor.
Wagner does say that he decided on the name of the movement.“The name I have settled on for the movement is the New Apostolic Reformation.” (C. Peter Wagner, The New Apostolic Churches 1998, p.18.)
The dictionary definition of an Organization: A group united by a common purpose or interest: organization, association, club, confederation, congress, federation, fellowship, fraternity, guild, league, order, society, union. (American Heritage Dictionary)
“It must be understood that ICA is not a council-run organization. Rather it is governed by apostolic leadership. Because ICA functions on relationships, it is not bound by any legal structure such as bylaws. “¦ They may be assigned specific spheres by the leading apostle. (ICA website www.apostlenet.net)
Is this a case of “It depends on what the definition of the word ‘is’ is?” Seems to me they have leaders and Wagner is certainly one of them.
And what of “Wagner Leadership Institute is an international network of apostolic training centers (About Wagner Leadership Institute) On the website about Peter Wagner “It is designed especially, but not exclusively, to meet the needs of leaders who have become a part of the New Apostolic reformation”, “During the decade of the 1990s Wagner assumed a leadership role in what became known as the New Apostolic Reformation.“ (sourced Sept.1.2011)
So from his own website it calls him a leader of the NEW movement labeled New Apostolic Reformation. That leadership role is an apostle.
C. Peter Wagner: “”¦ This is the Wagner Leadership Institute. This is the most radical change in theolog”¦ in ministerial training that I believe that the world has seen. I’m not trying to be arrogant or boastful, I just saying this is incredible. And, um, Wagner Leadership Institute is a reality, you can enroll. Most of you can enroll in Wagner Leadership Institute if you have, if you’re of, have the age, we an age limit, and if you have experience in ministry. Some of you are all, how many of you are Wagner Leadership students? (National School Of The Prophets Mobilizing The Prophetic Office Chuck Pierce – Thursday, 5/11/00, 9:30 a.m. – Session 2)
What is this radical change in theology?
PeterWagner has stated ““ “Apostles and prophets the foundation of the Church “¦ I identify as James an apostle as my function as a horizontal apostles to bring together the people of the body of Christ not only can I do it I love to do it, yesterday I was the apostle with a group of about 15-20 prophets we met all day long, and these prophets many of whom are going to be speakers in this conference come under my guidance coordination and leadership as an apostle, they each have apostles in their own networks but I mean there under spiritually But I’m the one that brings them together and when I bring them together things happen.” (C. Peter Wagner National School Of The Prophets Mobilizing The Prophetic Office May 11, 2,000 tape #1)
That is defined as leadership- A leader is a person who directs; instructs that ranks first (as they teach apostles first, then prophets).
“what we had to do is come to terms with the fact that this 21st century kind of submission is, is the sort of submission that Paul writes in Ephesians, submit yourselves to one another submission is a biblical principle it runs through the body of Christ but the submission must be in God’s order, and Gods order we already had it up here first apostles, then prophets. (C. Peter Wagner National School Of The Prophets Mobilizing The Prophetic Office may 11 tape #1)
Others who are joined with Wagner call him a leader:
Barbara Yoder: “God is raising up Dr. Peter Wagner, God is raising up Chuck pierce God is raising up these leaders who are here to literally take us into a new place we’ve never been before” (Barbara Yoder, Tape #8 National School of The Prophets 0005209A May 12, 2,000)
Bill Hamon: “The 90s, saw the emergence of the apostles, or the apostolic ministry. This ministry includes leaders like Peter Wagner and John Eckhart. Most Pentecostals have questions about the apostles; evangelicals practically have no place for them at all. They had to be restored to the Body per Ephesians 4:11-13…” (the Ministry of the Saints By The 700 Club (“http://www.cbn.com” CBN.com ““ The Coming Saints)
Peter Wagner “Last Wednesday, we had a meeting in this building of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. Several of the highest visibility prophets in America sat around the table, and we do this at least twice a year (last year we did it three times), and this group of prophets, many of whom are speakers here at this conference, recognizes me as their apostle – their horizontal Apostle to bring them together. They’re not under my covering because people like Jim Lafoon are in an apostolic network headed up by Rice Brooks, but, when I bring Jim lafoon together with prophets of other apostolic networks, I become the leader. I become the apostolic leader. and so that’s one way that apostles are working very well with prophets in an organization that now exists and has a name to it and meets” (National School Of The Prophets Mobilizing The Prophetic Office May 13, 2000 9:30 AM tape #14
There are those under Wagner who certainly believe he and they are leaders.
“.. .For some thirty years later, Bill would be raised up as a pioneer and a worldwide leader in restoring the office and ministry of the prophet into Christ’s Church with full recognition and authority.” (“Prophets and Personal Prophecy God’s Prophetic Voice Today” p. 4)
So they are giving instructions to people. Are we to believe that are not leaders but training others to be leaders? What of those who have joined with Wagner in this endeavor? Their quotes can fill up pages, here is a small sample:
Hamon stated: “God said I’d be a leader of leaders, He said I’d prophesy, He said I’d have a word of knowledge and word of wisdom” (National School Of The Prophets Mobilizing The Prophetic Office Bill Hamon Friday, 5/12/00, 4 p.m. – Session 11)
Cindy Jacobs –is president and co-founder of Generals of Intercession, they sound like leaders to me.
Wagner: “Next year, 2001, we’re gonna bring prophets. We had no prophets this time. Next year we’ll bring prophets under a strict protocol that works for our organization, I’m not saying it will work for a local church or anything else. For our organization, I set the protocol. (National School of The Prophets Peter Wagner, May 13, 2000 tape #14)
Wagner uses the word organization and leader. He brings people together from all types of organizations but they are NOT an organization! ‚ ‚ As if by not using this word it negates them from actually being an organization. So should we consider them unorganized as they lead the willing churches into a new era? As we can see from the quotes they not only use the words but the meaning is applicable in their activity..
There are numerous other statements Wagner has made that can be added to what is already covered. The NAR continues to gather people to join with them from all over the world, as apostles and prophets they teach, direct, train, prophesy and give new revelation.
As far as I’m concerned, NAR is equal ‚ to — Mt.24:11.
For a full response to Wagner’s update read Sandy Simpsons
For more on Wagner and Wimber’s history ‚ http://www.letusreason.org/latrain21.htm