There’s a great quote from Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson that sums up polemicists like churchwatchcentral and their cohorts’ NAR conspiracy theory succinctly and effectively.
He was addressing the narrative spin by leftist activists, but his words beautifully illustrate how the self-promoting discernment bloggers have created a fable they wholeheartedly believe themselves. They have spun themselves into a web from which they are unable to retrieve themselves without losing face so they gamble on perpetuating the myth.
Peterson said the following in an interview that addressed these kinds of narrative creation clans…
It’s easy to hate someone who’s being caricatured…
What does he mean by this?
Well, there is the real person, and then there is the caricature, a vague facsimile that has some cartoonish resemblance but is not the real thing.
That fuzzy duplicate usually contains more of the characteristics of the cartoonist than the person being lampooned or portrayed.
For instance, you can tell the persuasion of a political cartoonist by the way he portrays his subject and emphasises his satire. You can identify the politics of a group by the way they approach their targets.
In the same way, you can see where the cessationist polemicists are coming from by the nature of their arguments. Their moves are all telegraphed and pressing their readers towards a defined position. We generally call this opinion rather than reporting. In this case they are creating a caricature of the real that is unreal and unconnected to the original.
By fashioning a false resemblance of the person it becomes easy for those who oppose what they stand for to pour further scorn on them, and even laugh at their perceived inadequacies. Theirs is a tailor-made effigy for their supporters to satirise.
Fake NAR culture-shifters
So to the fake narrative of the polemicists’ NAR.
They have created a feigned NAR that they have convinced themselves is the real thing. It isn’t. It bears no resemblance to the original observation by the late C Peter Wagner. These are the vain imaginings of a group of like-minded bloggers who search their ‘google god’ day and night for a cause.
They oppose continuationist theology, so it was simple for them to find their raison d’être. They merely went after the growing movements that are following Biblical principles and stepping out in faith to believe what Jesus said to the Church He is building, especially in regard to the sustained New Testament work of the Spirit.
Being unbelievers in the gifts, manifestations and offices of the Spirit, the cessationists only had to create a caricature of something significant within the charismatic, contemporary evangelical, or Pentecostal churches to begin the process of building a narrative that would become their modus operandi for as long as they could sustain it.
There are always itching ears waiting to hear a provocative conspiracy theory, so they quickly gathered an appreciative audience, and having layered their narrative over time with all kinds of rumours, innuendo and suppositions, create a sub-movement that attempts to undermine the real.
They started by critiquing flourishing contemporary works like Hillsong, C3, Willow Creek, Saddleback Church, Lakeland, and other majorly developing recent movements and ministries, most of whom had some kind of media presence globally, meaning there is plenty of material to carve up and scrutinise, ideally suited to deconstructionist criticism.
Then they were presented with the C Peter Wagner observation of the phenomenon of church movement growth in missiology and took to his epithet ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ with a relish. It became the tagline for their theories.
The only problem was that, initially, they did not know what C Peter Wagner was talking about when he wrote about the growing movements who based their ministry on Biblical New Testament instructions and abandoned the notion that the gifts, manifestations and offices of the early Church had ended.
These movements, following what they read in the Word of God, saw spectacular results that Wagner studied and wrote about as a professor of church growth in a seminary. He subsequently authored several books.
But the polemicists, led by bloggers like the anonymous churchwatchcentral, were undaunted even when they were reminded that their theory was immensely flawed and that they had not understood what Wagner was presenting. Instead they created their version of the NAR that was and is far removed from the original.
Then they began the process of including every ministry that moved in continuationist lines under the banner of the fake NAR they have contrived. They fashioned a caricature and embellished it with prejudice, bias and poor reporting. Throw in a few scriptures and you might sound as if you know what you’re talking about.
They even produce caricatures of the ministries and movements they place under the umbrella of the fake NAR. They have a cartoon Hillsong, a cartoon Joel Osteen, and, most recently, have been scraping together a cartoon Michael Brown. Their problem has been that Michael has successfully pushed back at their misrepresentation of his character, ministry, call and faith. This has subsequently invited a series of unkind articles that attempt to denigrate his character. The anonymous in pursuit of the renowned.
Even sympathetic critics have been caricatured by the polemicists to emphasise their perspective. Any critic of those the polemicists criticise is quoted regardless of their own perspective. It’s the narrative that counts, not the truth. It’s a bit like sects like the JWs taking small portions of Biblical texts to prove their false doctrine. Theirs is a caricature of genuine theology. They take what matches their theology and reject the the substantive parts that rebut their philosophy.
The cessationists match this methodology by rejecting miracles, gifts and manifestations as current applications of the work of the Holy Spirit. The polemicists use the same means to demonise those who do not hold to their cessationist philosophy.
Knowing that all humans are flawed in some way, or have controversies that can be exploited, they search only for the possible negative and ignore the positive, and if there is no negative, they imply it according to their own standards, not necessarily Biblical standards. Their current unwarranted, vengeful pursuit of Dr Brown is a prime example of this. It is a form of persecution, no more, no less. Thankfully, he is gloriously unmoved.
Their criticism, then, is primarily based on opinion, but opinion is not necessarily the companion of truth.
The thing is, the polemicists are, at best, scratchy cartoonists with a bias towards cessationist doctrine, so their imagery is very obviously short of the mark to anyone who is genuinely alert to the work of the Holy Spirit today. Only the naive, ignorant, or gullible will be taken in by their sleight of hand.
The sad thing for the Body of Christ is that their fake version has taken flight. It cannot and will not overtake the real deal, but it has stalled some growth amongst the many people who are curious about the way in which the Holy Spirit moves in the earth today but are put off by the negative press being poured out daily by their polemics agencies.
It’s a great pity that many people believe the caricature and miss the real thing. They are easily led by strong voices of dissent that have rejected God’s Word on the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit, and God’s plan for the ascension gifts to train and equip the Church for ministry.
Cessationists are the modern day skeptics who are forced by their own strained logic to reject huge passages of scripture to manufacture a false image and the condemn those who will not adhere to their flawed doctrine.
Meanwhile they train their adherents to reject other members of the Body because they continue to walk in the Spirit and obey the Word as it is presented to us.
It’s easy to hate a caricature.
Better to see beyond the mind of the cynic and enter into the Spirit with the truly amazing Word of God to lead and guide us into all things spiritual and godly.
The good news is that the continuationist movements within the Body of Christ continue to grow and thrive. God is in it. He gave us the Word and brought us into the New Testament. He gave us Jesus to save us. He gave us His Spirit to lead us. He filled us with His Spirit to continue the work of Jesus in the earth until He comes again.
If God be for us, who can be against?