It’s been interesting to watch the flow of a thread at the chookwatcher sites that has used some of the articles featured here and see the response that completely confirms what I’ve been saying for some time.

The so-called discernment ministries have created a narrative that they now reproduce across the majority of their sites. So much so that they actually believe that their variety of the NAR is the real NAR. I’ll term their version hyper-NAR.

NAR stands for New Apostolic Reformation, which is not a denomination, or movement, but an observation of a phenomenon that has been taking place in a variety of movements for a number of years, and includes the restoration of the ministry offices of apostle and prophet, the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, and is continuist in theology.

One commenter makes the following statement…

‘Nar IS highly organized. Only NARpostles and NARprophets can post on the Elijah List. Only NARpostles and NARprophets can be elected to the New Apostolic Round Table, the International Coalition of Apostles, the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, etc, etc, etc. So it is you who have not done your homework.’ 

Of course he is merely recycling the spin put out by the hyper-NAR crew. According to the late C Peter Wagner, it is not an organisation.

‘The NAR is not an organisation.  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.’

To demonstrate this, I have challenged critics to google ‘NewApostolic Reformation’, or ‘the NAR’ because they will see that the following list comes up, and not one of them is part of a NAR denomination or movement, but around 95% of sites are from the recycled hyper-NAR narrative of critical blogs.

Googling ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ comes up with…

• A wikipedia entry (definitions, from a critical perspective)
• Apostles Who Don’t Do Anything – Grace to You (critics)
• NewApostolic Reformation – Deception in the Church (critics)
• What is the New Apostolic Reformation? – (apologetics, but critical)
• New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) – Berean Research (apologetics, but critical)
• New Apostolic Reformation | Right Wing Watch (critical/political)
• New Apostolic Reformation: influence and teaching – Apologetics Index (apologetics, reasonable article that is helpful but tends towards being critical)
• New Apostolic Reformation | Apologetics Index (apologetics, mostly critical)

That was page one. To save you the tedium of going through a long list, the next fifteen pages went exactly the same way.

And it was identical when googling ‘the NAR’ – page after page of critics recycling the same information.

Not really that organised

Obviously, to the casual observer, the NAR is not as organised as the commenter above claims, or they would have page after page of events, entries, churches, movements and ministries engaged in the same activities under the very same code and identity of NAR.

Let me repeat that for effect. An organised New Apostolic Reformation movement would have reams of entries in search engines such as Google, especially if it were as large scale and influential as the critics claim.

Instead we have pages and pages of critics of the NAR. If you can’t work out the implications of this then you really need help.

And we find, scattered around the web, those who interact with one another because they share similar views about continuism, including a number of different organisations and conventions that share the same general views as NAR.

However, there is no defined heading with a long list of adherents that would come up in a Google search for the NAR, which is what you would expect since the NAR is an observation of what was taking place amongst these smaller groups as they grew, not an organised movement.

Link to the List

I also checked the Elijah List site, and there was no rule that ‘only NARpostles and NARprophets can post on the Elijah List’. Instead a ministry could link their website with them and, presumably, be included in the list, and they can pay a fee to promote their conference, class, seminar or event.

One would also surmise that they’d check your site first to see if you were genuinely engaged in a similar ethos and not a rebel critic attempting to infiltrate, or an apostate.

As for the apostolic councils, well, I guess the name says it all. Being an apostolic or prophetic council doesn’t automatically make you part of some vast, sinister and secretive conspiracy theory concocted by critics. It merely means you want to identify with like-minded ministries.

Since cessationists don’t accept that there are apostles today, then, of course, they might not feel qualified to apply. So why complain that apostolic associations are exclusively for people interested in being part of an apostolic association?

It’s simply an indication of common interest. For instance, most people who are involved with darts associations are probably interested in darts, or engineers who want to converse with other engineers join engineers associations. Why doesn’t the commenter simply start an association for people who like complaining about imaginary NAR adherents?

Oh, wait a minute – there is one. It’s called chookwatcher.

How to join an apostolic association

However, when it comes to joining an apostolic association, the rule seems to be that a person who considers themselves qualified should have two council members nominate them for membership, which would seem reasonable to me.

After all, we don’t, in best practice, just have ministers of established churches announce themselves as pastors without some kind of ratification from both their peers and people in oversight.

As for the claim that ‘only NARpostles…’ etc, that is plainly narrative speak from a follower of the generally accepted meme on anti-NAR sites.

The most even handed of the apologetics sites listed earlier makes the following observation that confirms what C Peter Wagner wrote, and what I have been saying.

‘Many people will not recognize this movement by its formal name — the “New Apostolic Reformation” — including even many of the movement’s participants. The lack of name recognition can be explained, in large part, because the movement is not governed by one official denomination or organization.

Rather, the New Apostolic Reformation is made up of hundreds of churches and organizations that are led by apostles and prophets who share a distinct theology. Many of these churches and organizations have joined “apostolic networks.” These apostolic networks are made up of, in some cases, hundreds of churches and organizations that submit to the leadership of a single apostle, such as Harvest International Ministry–a network of over 12,000 churches and organizations under NAR apostle Ché Ahn.’

I don’t agree with all the views of the writer, who is generally critical of anything to do with the NAR, but to be fair, this passage makes the point rather well because she’s taken the time to openly research the issues rather than regurgitate the general consensus – in this piece, at least.

This passage pours cold water on the theories of those negatively driven discernment sites that have merely swallowed the critical line and missed what is actually taking place.

When movement becomes momentum

The mere fact that the majority of Google entries on NAR lead to critical sites tells you that it is an idea rather than a denomination or movement.

It is many movements influencing one another.

Charles Wesley, until the day he went to be with the Lord, considered himself a minister of the Church of England. He began a movement of evangelism that became a denomination, but he was not for denominations. The tag ‘Methodist’ was given by others, mostly critics, and the name stuck and was eventually adopted.

It could be that the New Apostolic Reformation, in part, because of the critics, will be a name that sticks. It is undoubtedly gathering momentum because so many critics are giving it such an airing.

Its momentum was never intended in this way, but, hey, if it’s the way things must go, then so be it.