A team of trained Alpine skiers scaled Mt. Everest in an effort to rout the throne of a demon thought to have territorial control over a large swath of planet earth, and another group climbed the hill famous for the “Hollywood” sign in southern California while reciting a “divorce decree” intended to separate another demon named Baal from control over the entertainment industry. While these stories may tempt the reader to simply dismiss those involved as cranks, doing so would be a mistake. As documented in the soon to be released God’s Super Apostles by journalist Holly Pivec and theology professor R. Douglas Geivert, the New Apostolic Revolution (NAR) is a worldwide movement with the support of churches and organizations with as many as 3 million people in the United States. Pastors should be aware of the teachings and dangers of this movement.
Central to the NAR is the notion that churches and Christians must submit to the authority of modern day apostles and prophets if they are to be included in God’s plans for the expansion of His kingdom. These apostles, self-described as generals, and prophets, said to convey new truth to the church, claim to have full authority comparable to those holding these offices during biblical times – and more. Indeed, their offices constitute governing authority that requires submission. That fact, together with the spiritual gifts and insights that they are said to have the ability to convey, create an authoritarian environment that appears cult like in nature.
While the NAR movement places tremendous emphasis on spiritual warfare against demonic forces and the use of gifts of healing, the authors emphasize that their work on this movement does not reflect opposition to mainstream charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Indeed, participants in those movements have expressed concern about, and outright opposition to, NAR practices and beliefs. The NAR movement is much more radical than those in its insistence on obedience to its apostles and prophets and its claim that church unity involves not unity around common doctrines, but unity around the modern apostles themselves. Doctrinal deviations from mainstream charismatic and Pentecostal practices are too numerous to outline in a brief review, but they include the odd activities surrounding the naming of demons as a prerequisite for defeating them and the insistence that what most charismatics regard as the divine “gift” of healing can be taught to anybody that wants to practice it.
For each key belief or practice common to NAR, the authors describe the teaching and outline how leaders in the NAR justify it biblically. They then look at the actual biblical texts to evaluate the claims of the movement. In each case, they reasonably find that the NAR is making claims lacking in biblical support.
Several individuals and organizations are mentioned as key players in the movement, including C. Peter Wagner (formerly of Fuller Theological Seminary and now associated with Global Spheres), Cindy Jacobs (Generals International), Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer), and Bill Hamon (Christian International Ministries Network). Many readers here will be disappointed in the participation of Wagner, who, in fact, is among the key founders of NAR. A few decades ago while at Fuller, Wagner was a key leader in the church growth movement, writing a number of books that were key to the early development of church growth thinking . His later participation in the Vineyard movement, with an emphasis on signs and wonders as a method for church growth is widely known. Now deeply engaged in NAR, he seems to have gone completely off the rails.
God’s Super Apostles is well organized and readable. It is designed for the general lay reader. For those wanting to take a deeper dive into the same subject, the authors have simultaneously written A New Apostolic Reformation.