You wouldn’t credit it, would you? Like a dog with a stick he won’t release, Churchwatchcentral, rehashing Pulpit & Pen and their cohorts, is still banging on about Dr Michael Brown and his dismissal of the fake NAR.
They published an interview, claiming Dr Brown was in ‘full damage control’, featuring anti-NAR author Holly Pivec and Dr Brown discussing the NAR, where Pivec essentially defends her claims that there is a NAR, whereas Dr Brown distances himself from the NAR concept contrived by the NAR critics.
In fact, the churchwatchcentral headline is hilariously preposterous, because Dr Brown is clearly not in any kind of ‘damage control’, since he had no damage to control, and is actually pulling the strings.
Here’s what Pivec says in a response to a podcast by Dr Brown giving his perspective on the NAR (which he gets wrong, by the way, indicating that he does, indeed, know little about the real meaning of the New Apostolic Reformation epithet coined by the late C Peter Wagner).
And so during a recent show he [Brown] did on the NAR he said some very good things, I have to say, about specific NAR teachings he disagrees with, such as the teaching that NAR revelation can supplement Scripture. He took a stand against that. And I’m glad he disagrees with those teachings.
But the mistake he’s made, I think, in all of his recent shows and interviews about the NAR, is that I’ve never heard him give a clear, tight definition of what the NAR is. And because he hasn’t provided that clear definition, he hasn’t recognized that the leaders he defends are, in fact, a part of the NAR.
Well, if he doesn’t claim to be part of the the NAR, why would he have to have a definition of the NAR? As I indicated above, Dr Brown doesn’t really get it either, which rather proves his point that he is neither part of it, nor knows much about how it came into being.
I’ve given the definition of the New Apostolic Reformation here many times, but from the perspective of C Peter Wagner, who is the author who came up with the name. He gave a definition himself of what it is, and we published it here.
Dr Brown attempts a definition in his broadcast, which clearly shows he is not familiar with the New Apostolic Reformation Wagner observed.
Dr Brown’s description is more of an analogy of how the polemicists have run with a contrived version, but it’s his way of describing something that is so abstract that it is almost impossible to put it into a single title. Wagner clearly struggled with giving the phenomenon a title, but eventually came up with ‘the New Apostolic Reformation’.
But it isn’t an organisation in itself. It is the identification of a number of movements who have a few basic consistent beliefs, such as continuationism and the ascension gifts of Christ for today. That is what Wagner observed and noted. He saw a missional phenomenon and documented it. There was no movement that he started, or led, or had any authority over. He encouraged it, and was part of a group that wanted to ultimately help nurture it. But that was not how it started out, and not what the polemicists are addressing at all.
Wagner observed something that had been taking place for many years and was producing fruit. He was interested in church growth and the ways successful ministries went about it. He saw a pattern amongst certain movements. He wrote about it. He attempted to put together a formula for church growth. He championed it. He gave it its title, but he was not the author.
Pivec gives her definition…
And so it’s important that when people recognize what the NAR is – that it’s the belief in the present-day church offices of apostle and prophet, that those offices govern the church, then it becomes very clear that the NAR is a very large movement that’s been documented by church growth researchers and sociologists and so that’s the key thing to recognize. The defining belief of NAR that sets it apart from Protestant Christians throughout church history, including classical Pentecostals and charismatics, is the belief in these present-day governing offices.
Well, no, that’s not what Wagner saw. That is what the critics see.
These, of course, are the conclusions of a person who views the Word of God from a cessationist perspective, which, as Dr Brown points out, is the position taken by almost all of the critics.
So, when we understand her perspective, Pivec’s definition is interesting, but nothing to do with C Peter Wagner’s definition. It should be noted also that, like the other cessationist critics, she views apostolic leadership as a negative, whereas continuationists see it as a positive.
The missing bits
However, Pivec also misses quite a bit of information Wagner observed when writing about these growing movements. There’s something of a dependency on the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their growth also, and the agreement with the Word of God that the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit are just as valid today as the fruit of the Spirit.
One of the defining observations with the missional groups Wagner was addressing was the prevalence of the gifts of the Spirit and the dynamic of the healing and deliverance ministry of the Spirit through the Church. The apostolic and prophetic leadership was present, but only in the context of the New Testament, not separate from it.
It should be noted, though, that many churches and movements have believed these things long before the NAR was thought of. The Pentecostal movements, for instance, have long taught about the gifts of the Spirit and ascension gifts, including apostles and prophets, as being current.
Although Pivec gives a reasonable definition to her own view of what the NAR is, it’s still not the complete definition being put across by the polemicist mob. It’s something of a watered down version, in fact. They are pushing something far more sinister. As I wrote in an earlier article, polemicists like churchwatchcentral claim that…
Wagner and Jacobs also hold to NAR dominionist theology that Engle holds to. Their emphasis in dominionism, just like the NOLR cult, is that God is raising an end-times Joel’s Army to violently take the kingdoms of this world by force.
Churchwatchcentral have extended the conspiracy theory to accuse the NAR of violent intentions. It remains to be seen whether the other polemicists distance themselves from this claim or embrace it.
What the polemicists mean when they claim Dr Brown is hiding something is that Dr Brown doesn’t agree with their false definition of the NAR. What they haven’t grasped is that there are two versions being touted, the version promoted by Wagner, and the counterfeit being pushed by the critics.
Wagner was talking about the extraordinary missional drive and influence of certain movements who were engaged in continuationist ministry, especially in some developing nations, whereas the polemicists are talking about every charismatic event that the polemicists consider to be excess in regards to the perceived moves of the Holy Spirit.
There is a profound difference between these two standpoints.
It’s not that the polemicists have not had the information, or not been made aware. It’s that they don’t want to adjust their thinking to match the reality.
There is no denial of the existence of the New Apostolic Reformation as defined by C Peter Wagner, but there is a rejection of the kinds of attachments being made by critical sites like Churchwatchcentral and Pulpit & Pen, as well as associated polemics sites.
So demanding a definition of a notion that has been contrived by critics is futile. It’s asking a person to describe something they are unaware of. The argument is mute.
But Michael brown gives very good arguments for his case in his broadcast. He even points out that, in the first place, as we’ve said here many times, C Peter Wagner always said he was open to discussion about his findings and prepared to change his perspective if it was shown he was wrong or inaccurate about anything he observed. Secondly, the present leader of the ICAP has already redefined Wagner’s understanding of apostolic leadership.
Churchwatchcentral, Pulpit & Pen and the like have always held onto the wrong end of the stick on this, and there is no reason to believe that they will let go, since it gives them an audience, a cause and goals they cannot move away from even if they are shown to be inaccurate in their assessment.
Plus, of course, none of this is of any consequence to the actual move of God in the earth today. He is doing what He wants to do with the people He wants to use as His vessels of the glory.
He is unstoppable in power, inestimable in glory, and incontrovertible in majesty.