Interesting to listen to Chris Rosebrough over at Pirate Christian Media get all excited because he found a clip of C Peter Wagner talking about the New Apostolic Reformation.
So excited in fact that he actually believes he’s proved that there is such a thing as the New Apostolic Reformation.
Well, obviously, there has not been a problem with Wagner’s identification with the New Apostolic Reformation. He coined the phrase and identified the phenomenon, writing books about it and being invited around the world to speak about it.
What is being contested is the false version called the NAR being plied by the polemicists to attempt to make Wagner the instigator, leader and apostle of their version of the NAR, even linking it back to a group called the New Order of the Latter Rain, a Pentecostal group from the late 1940s.
Burn the effigy
The reality is that, ever since the churchwatchcentral tribe began their quest to demonise what is actually a bona fidé move of God amongst several unconnected groups and movements, Rosebrough and others, such as Pulpit & Pen, have joined in to create an effigy of the genuine phenomenon that looks awfully like a straw man.
In the great scheme of things it doesn’t really matter because the movements identified by Wagner are maintaining their influence and growth, but the scattershot rumour-mongering approach of the polemicists has manufactured a conspiratorial version that bears no resemblance to the real phenomenon.
Wagner identified several movements that were experiencing exponential growth with similar characteristics, that include apostolic leadership, prophetic ministry, continuationist theology, operating in the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, and engaging in the marketplace through personal, relational evangelism. These groups are largely missional, and have a major emphasis on prayer and intercession.
There is nothing sinister about what Wagner observed, nor about his growing involvement as a spokesperson who identified the phenomenon.
Apostolic movements are not new
When Rosebrough leaps for joy at finding evidence that Wagner spoke about the New Apostolic Reformation he misses the point of what is happening. There was no secret that Wagner wrote about it or spoke on it. It’s on the public record. The phenomenon is still happening, regardless of the attempts by cessationists like Rosebrough to downplay the importance of the involvement of the Holy Spirit in these groups.
When critics write about the ‘so-called’ NAR they are referencing the fake NAR of the polemicists. Lately every church or group that mentions prophecy, apostolic leadership or the gifts of the Spirit is automatically tagged by the polemicists with their conspiratorial version of the NAR.
The truth is that we were talking about prophetic ministry, apostolic leadership and operating in the gifts and manifestations off the Spirit long before Wagner, who was not a charismatic in the beginning, nor a Pentecostal, observed the phenomenon in the 1990s. We were teaching on it before we’d even heard of Wagner. How did we do that? Because we read about it in the Bible.
There is an entire Pentecostal movement called the Apostolic Church that has taught on apostolic and prophetic leadership for many years. They were first formed in 1916 after the Welsh revival of 1904. What have they to do with the NAR, or NOLR or Wagner?
Elim Pentecostal Church was founded in 1915. It believes much the same as the Apostolic Church. The Assemblies of God date from 1914 following the early 20th century Pentecostal revivals. None of them have anything to do with NAR or NOLR or Wagner. All attest to apostolic and prophetic ministry and the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit.
These are all important post-WW1 movements that saw great revival after one of the most disastrous wars in history – a terrible war that shook the faith of many people. These revivals of the Spirit took place over fifty years before the charismatic move.
Wagner was an evangelical who observed a missional development that saw thousands come into the kingdom amongst diverse groups and movements including Pentecostal and charismatic groups that impacted the nations. He called it the New Apostolic Reformation because, he surmised, it seemed new, it was apostolic, and is reformational.
I actually disagree with Wagner in at least one respect regarding the name he has given to the phenomenon. I do not believe it is a new thing at all, but a continuation of the outpouring that began on the Day of Pentecost.
From the time of Constantine Christianity became compulsory and not a matter of genuine conversion. The Spirit was quenched. It was the Roman Catholic Church of the dark and Middle Ages that stopped the flow of the Spirit globally on pain of excommunication or even death. But there were always pockets, all of whom either suffered or were threatened with persecution.
Most denominations stem from the Roman Catholic apostasy, but some have come through the Protestant era that reestablished the need of saving grace into a better understanding of scripture and the importance of the Holy Spirit to the Church.
The charismatics are essentially traditional evangelical, catholic and Episcopalian church members who have embraced the baptism with the Spirit. That is why they are called charismatics. Pentecostals began in the Spirit and have a slightly different theology.
Lumping them all into the fake NAR pool as these ignorant polemicists have done is, in one sense, a mere distraction, but their constant attempt at rewriting history is becoming a folly that should be disregarded.
The truth is that there is a phenomenon and it has been called the New Apostolic Reformation. It is really a restoration of God’s original intention for the Church. There are excesses, especially amongst some of the charismatics, who are sometimes like children who have been given charge of an immense treasure chest, that need to be shown and corrected in love to use God’s gifts as He intended, but the reinstatement of the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the Church has been long coming and wholly necessary.
Jesus is building His Church. The gates of hades shall not prevail against the Church. Jesus will not fail. He cannot fail. He is in charge. He knows all, sees all, directs all. He has all authority in heaven and in earth. He is the Word made flesh. He is moving through His Spirit. He is moving in power. The Church is a living entity being prepared as a chaste Bride. The Church is God’s messenger on earth to a fallen world. Fear not, says the Lord, for I am with you.