I am so concerned about a development within the body of Christ that I feel compelled to sound an alarm. An un-Biblical movement is growing like a forest fire with a 50 mile an hour wind, and it’s affecting people I care about. I’m not sure whether its leaders are intentionally leading people astray, or if in fact, they themselves have been deceived. Yes, true believers can be deceived and they can also lead people into error the same as intentional false teachers. I’m thankful that it’s not my calling to sort this out or to start a campaign against them. Even writing an article like this is highly unusual for me because while I have strongly held personal convictions, I enjoy fellowship with folks who differ from me on non-essentials. However, in this case, I feel obligated to warn my friends and family about this aberrant teaching. I urge you to read the entire paper, and my prayer is that it will help you evaluate your current spiritual input or prepare you for what you will encounter in the future.
For years I’ve known that several eccentric groups were teaching an erroneous theology. They believe that God is restoring the office of Apostle and Prophet for the purpose of governing, (rule over) a unified one-world church. They teach that these so-called “restored apostles” will take DOMINION over ALL spiritual, social, political and financial entities and establish, the Kingdom of God, on earth. (Details later) Of course, I don’t believe that, so I wrongly assumed that these were small fringe groups and wouldn’t amount to much. That all changed when a longtime friend sent me a CD of a talk about Jesus by a nationally recognized Bible teacher he admired. It was so right on that I found myself in sync with his teaching. It made me want to hear more from this man, but when I did, I was appalled at what else he taught. His teaching was Jesus PLUS a theology that clearly identified him as a leader of the movement I am writing about. As I learned more about him, it became clear that he was part of a large network of teachers and I was shocked to learn how pervasive it is. Its aberrant theology is currently being taught in thousands of churches and influencing millions of believers world-wide. In fact, church growth experts say they have the fastest growing churches in this nation and around the world because they’re highly organized with a global agenda. After an extended period of time investigating this movement I’m even more convinced of the danger, it represents for the church. I have done my homework and am certain that this teaching is un-scriptural but I encourage you and yes even urge you to come to your own conclusion.
The movement I’m concerned about is not a new phenomenon because, since the earliest days of the Church, various groups have attempted to restore the offices of apostle and prophet for the purpose of governing (ruling) the church. Examples: Just 35 years after the Apostle John died, “Montanus” and two female colleagues started a movement called, “The New Prophecy.” They claimed their prophecies were directly from the Holy Spirit and superseded the authority of Jesus and Paul. They were eventually branded as heretical and excommunicated by the early church; There were others during those early years and later in 1851 the Catholic Apostolic Church started in England and then spread to Germany and the United States. Its last “so-called apostle” died in 1901 but there are still remnants in various countries including America; The Mormon Church is governed by the “Quorum of Twelve Apostles.”; In 1907 the “New Order of the Latter Rain”(B1) was birthed, and its theology has produced a variety of movements. One of those emerged in the 1970’s and 80’s and was called, the Shepherding/Discipleship movement. It caused a great deal of harm before it imploded and now in the 21st century, a new version of the same theology has surfaced. All these movements mixed orthodox Biblical doctrine with what they called, “new revelation.”
Today’s version of these discredited movements is called, the “New Apostolic Reformation.”(B2) (NAR) Even though they attach the word New to it, there is nothing new about it. They have simply repackaged and rebranded the discredited extra-Biblical teaching called Latter Rain Revival. It taught that God is restoring the offices of Apostle and Prophet which they call the lost offices of church governance. They teach that all true believers must be submitted to one of its so-called apostles. This is also the central message of the NAR and the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders. (ICAL) Its founder Peter Wagner claims that the Second Apostolic Age started in 2001 and alleges there are currently more than 500 so-called “restored apostles.” (Both male and female) Wagner further asserts that more than 100 million people are submitting to their leadership. Most of you will not have heard of the NAR because it’s not an organization but rather a loosely connected network of spiritual leaders. It’s made up of individuals or apostolic networks that submit to the authority of a so-called, “restored apostle.”
Regarding this movement, I think those who read this paper will fall into one of three categories. The First is the largest group, and they are completely unaware of what I’m writing about. If that describes you, I thank God for your protection. The Second group is comprised of those who are unaware that the Church and Conferences they attend and even Authors they read are part of this movement. My guess is that they became involved because they love the music and worship and really like the teacher so even when incorrect interpretations of scripture are presented, they are accepted. I believe this is one of the prime reasons why so many people are being led astray. Let me say that in a slightly different way because it’s very very important. One of the main reasons why false doctrine gets accepted by millions of people is because the teacher speaks about Jesus and familiar themes in such an appealing way. While it’s the same Jesus I know and love, they add the un-Biblical and discredited theology spelled out below.
Thirdly: An increasing number of people understand and accept much of what is being taught, and I fear that many of them are so involved, my warning will go unheeded. They’ve developed a great deal of respect and trust for a teacher and have accepted him or her as an Apostle or Prophet. I believe most of these folks are true brothers and sisters in Christ and are knowledgeable about the Scriptures but for inexplicable reasons seem to have missed the real direction they’re being led. That’s hard to understand because the key leaders of the movement have openly and clearly stated that they are committed to; “fundamentally transforming the church.” If you are a person that is knowingly involved, I ask you to please hear me out and then do a little research on your own. With Acts 17:11 in mind please evaluate what you are being taught.
Since these thoughts are a warning about the theology of NAR teachers, let me answer those who ask; “Doesn’t the Bible tell us not to judge?” Yes, Matthew 7:1 very clearly says; “Judge not that you be not judged.” However, in verse 15 of the same chapter, Jesus warned us to be on guard against false prophets. To do so requires us to exercise discernment so there must be a difference between judging and discerning. In fact, there is, and for me, I use history to understand the difference. Only God can judge Hitler, the man, but it’s our responsibility to recognize his actions as immoral. So that illustration helps me avoid judging individuals, but Scripture commands each of us to evaluate their words or actions. This paper is my attempt to do so after carefully studying what the leaders of the NAR are teaching. In an earlier version, I refrained from using the names of NAR leaders, but since they openly promote their message, I see no reason to do so. Additionally, I am encouraged to name them because the Apostle Paul warns his readers by giving specific names a number of times.
With a little research, you will find that a multitude of authors, conference speakers, and pastors, embrace the NAR teaching. Each of them has been influenced by the acknowledged leaders of the movement. There are too many to mention but a few of the prominent U.S. leaders are: Peter Wagner, Bill Johnson, Os Hillman, John Kelly, Lance Wallnau, Jack Deere, Ed Silvoso, Rick Joyner, Cindy Jacobs, Patricia King, Heidi Baker, Jim Goll, Mike Bickle, Dutch Sheets, Che Ahn, Bill Hamon, Lou Engle, Kim Clement, Randy Clark; Chuck Pierce; etc. In addition to their individual ministries, some of them have established their own “apostolic networks.” An example; Harvest International Ministry in Pasadena California claims that 20,000 churches in 50 nations on five continents have submitted to the leadership of self-appointed Apostle, Che Ahn.(B6) Each church is asked to tithe between 5 and 10% of its gross income to the apostolic network.
Since I’m focusing on the aberrant theology of the NAR, I think it’s important to start with a bit of its history. It should be instructive that this new movement has been profoundly influenced by the teaching of two men. They are the foundation the current leaders build on, so it’s important to study their character and doctrine. Often the past helps us understand the present, so let me give you an unvarnished overview of the core beliefs of these men who are major influencers of this movement.
Starting in 1946, William Branham (1909-1965) began holding miracle healing services with amazingly accurate prophecies, even revealing specific details about people’s personal lives. His seemingly miraculous powers, prophecies and words of knowledge filled the largest meeting halls and stadiums all over the country. His teaching was the inspiration and catalyst for a rebirth of the “Latter Rain” doctrines. He was also the earliest and most influential leader of the so-called “Miracle movement” which produced the Prophetic and Faith Healer phenomenon. He was so impressive and spectacular; people failed to investigate what he really believed or the true source of his supernatural manifestations. You will see why they should have when you learn what he believed.
He denied the Trinity, (called it a “doctrine of demons) and believed that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are different manifestations of one and the same God; (The Oneness doctrine) He believed there were three revelations from God, the Scriptures, the Zodiac and the Pyramids; (His grave stone is a large pyramid) He taught that anyone belonging to a denomination has taken the “mark of the beast.”; A woman cutting her hair is grounds for divorce; He prophesied the end of the world would be 1977 but didn’t live long enough to be disproven and exposed as a false prophet; During the 60’s he thought he was the end-times “Elijah” of Malachi 4 verse five and six. He also claimed that God revealed to him a doctrine he called, “the serpent’s seed.” He said God told him that Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden was not eating a fruit, but rather it was a sexual relationship with the serpent. That before the fall, the serpent “was somewhat in between a chimpanzee and a man, but closer to a man.” So Satan was Cain’s father rather than Adam because Satan entered the serpent and seduced Eve. Branham espoused these heresies and numerous others but in spite of this, prominent leaders of current movements still praise his ministry, and much of their teaching can be traced to his influence.
Branham is still recognized by many in the apostolic/prophetic/healing movement as one of the most influential spiritual thought leaders in history. For many years he was mostly unchallenged, operated within Pentecostal circles and was accepted by tens of thousands of people. However in 1949 his popularity and the Latter Rain teaching was called into question by the General Council of the Assemblies of God.(B3) Even though it cost them many members, the leaders of the largest Pentecostal denomination, published a resolution denouncing the “Latter Rain Revival” because;“it both added to and departed from, Biblical truth.” However, it was kept alive by a few and reintroduced during the Charismatic Renewal of the 1960’s and 70’s. By the mid-nineties, it had gained new momentum, so in the year 2000, the same Assembly of God denomination passed a second and a third resolution, rejecting it again.(B4) In spite of this the movement never completely disappeared and later resurfaced with a new face and a new name.
The second man who influenced and helped launch the NAR is Paul Cain (1929- ). He was personally mentored by William Branham and ministered with him in the 1950’s. He is often called the greatest living prophet and is widely recognized as the father of the modern prophetic movement. He is still called a Super Prophet by some because his clairvoyant ability allowed him to call people out of the audience and tell them facts and hidden sins that could only be known by that person. Cain disagreed with Branham’s most heretical views but accepted and promoted the majority of his teaching. His disciples are too numerous to list, but they include most of the prominent teachers of the movements I’m concerned about. He was heavily promoted by John Wimber and the Vineyard network of churches and IHOP in Kansas City. (International House of Prayer) While they and multitudes of other people accepted him as God’s prophet, he was living a hidden life of perversion and immorality until he was publicly exposed. Strangely, this continues even after he publicly admitted that for many years he has been an alcoholic and a practicing homosexual. So it’s not surprising that there is a long list of his disciples who have had scandalous moral failures as well. There are too many to mention here, but they include Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, David (Paul) Cho, former pastor of the largest church in the world and Bob Jones another major IHOP prophet who was exposed for using his spiritual status for sexual favors.
You’re probably thinking; “What’s so important about the life and theology of a man who died fifty years ago, or his disciple who continued his teaching?” I think it’s particularly important to review their theology because the current self-proclaimed apostles, prophets, teachers, healers, and workers of signs and wonders continue to teach the fundamentals, of the “Latter Rain Revival.” While they might also disagree with Branham’s most egregious beliefs, they derive the core of their theology and doctrinal positions from these two men. As a matter of fact, Bethel Church in Redding California whose Pastor is Bill Johnson produced a chart which shows William Branham as one of the pioneers of their movement. This church and its musical group “Jesus Culture” is among the most influential in the NAR network. Unlike this church, many of the teachers downplay their connection, and some categorically deny that their roots are in the “Latter Rain” or NAR teaching. In spite of their denial, the fact remains that when we evaluate them carefully, it becomes obvious that the majority of what they teach comes from the original, Latter Rain Doctrines. The differences between the Latter Rain Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) are minor and are mostly about terminology, not doctrinal differences. Like the old saying goes; “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . . it’s a Duck.”
It’s important to state that not every person involved with the movement believes everything I will mention. Each teacher has a slightly different emphasis, but common themes of the NAR are interconnected in their teaching. However, the highly influential key leaders of the movement openly teach the following. Their declared goal is to unify and govern (rule over) the church world-wide. (One-World church) They say that only a unified church which has submitted to the authority of these so-called “restored apostles” can bring into being the Kingdom of God on earth. They intend to complete that task and present the Kingdom to Jesus when He returns. They believe that He will not and in fact cannot return until they have taken Dominion and restored the earth to the condition that existed in the Garden of Eden before the fall. To help them accomplish this, they believe that God will eventually transfer all the wealth of the earth into their hands. This will make it possible for them to fulfill the “Seven Mountains Prophecy”(B5) which is one of their main goals. They claim that God wants them to take Dominion (Rule) over the seven mountains that shape culture. This means that; Government; Business; Media; Arts and Entertainment; Education; The Family and the Church will eventually submit to these so-called “restored apostles” and be governed by them. One TV network called their goal, “The Christian equivalent of the Islamic caliphate because each group wants the entire world to accept it’s theology and be governed by its spiritual leaders.” The NAR has made great progress towards their goal by involving numerous nationally known religious, business and political leaders.
Believe it or not, they have even more extreme beliefs. These so-called “restored apostles” also teach that they will lead God’s end time’s army which will cause all individuals and all nations to submit to them. They see themselves as Generals of a militant arm of their church they call, “Joel’s Army.” They believe they will develop a group of spiritually mature believers who possess the Holy Spirit without measure. They call them, the Manifest sons of God (Paul Cain calls them; “The New Breed”) and these men will have an elite spiritual status and will not die and cannot be killed. Their army will rule the earth, purge it of all evil and judge the apostate Church. (That’s me and anyone else who doesn’t submit to these apostles) It is very sad that many who love Jesus listen to and accept these teachers without fully understanding the end game of the “New Apostolic Reformation.”
These self-proclaimed “restored apostles and prophets” vigorously proclaim their allegiance to the Bible but often place an equal and sometimes an even greater emphasis on dreams, visions and extra-biblical revelation than they do on the Scriptures. Many of the leaders claim to have had extraordinary spiritual experiences like physical visits to heaven. Some claim numerous face-to-face conversations with Jesus and discussions with angels. They boldly state that the revelations they receive are “Present Truth” for today and refer to Biblical truth as “Past Truth.”
There are also literally thousands of self-appointed “prophets” who work hand in hand with the so-called “restored apostles.” The web page “Elijahlist.com” exists for these prophets to publish their prophecies and they claim more than 135,000 subscribers. The prophets are men and women who profess to hear directly from God and then reveal the “fresh word of God” for today. They insist that they do not have to be subjected to the Biblical test for a prophet which demands 100% accuracy. (Deut. 13:1-3 and 18:22) The Bible states clearly that one inaccurate prophecy proves a prophet to be a false prophet. It must be noted here that not one of their prophets has been 100% accurate so by Biblical standards they all fall into the category of false prophet. They vehemently reject this Biblical test and Paul Cain, one of their most prominent prophets even stated; “people should withhold judgment on my prophecies until they get to heaven.” He is asking people to disobey the Scriptures because First John 4:1 says; “Dear friends do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the spirit, you must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God, for there are many false prophets in the world.
Since thousands of evangelical churches and ministries across the globe are part of this movement, what could a person look for in determining whether or not their teacher is involved? It’s easy in some settings because a few spiritual leaders are open about their involvement and even lead with this teaching. Others are difficult to identify because they preach Jesus and a substantial amount of correct Biblical doctrine while covertly adding the NAR theology. At first, these churches appear to be quite normal, and Christ centered, but over some period their true colors will show. You may like the music and worship, but each of us is responsible for our own spiritual health so we must be discerning about the teachers we choose.
NAR teaching is prevalent in many, but certainly not all, Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. However, it’s also found within a large number of Para-Church ministries (Many are well known) and quite a few of the mega-churches. I would also add that most Faith Healers, Word of Faith and Seed faith teachers are promoting some aspect of the NAR teaching. There are also other ways that the NAR doctrines are propagated which includes the majority of Religious TV networks such as TBN and numerous others. In fact God.TV is totally committed to advancing the NAR agenda and in fact was created to do so. Additionally, one of the so-called “restored apostles” has even produced a Bible that supports their theology. It’s called the “Passion Translation” and is the product of one man who would like you to accept the NAR theology
For me, an alarm bell immediately goes off in my spirit if the person is introduced as or claims to be an Apostle or Prophet. That means they are to be accepted as a spiritual authority and a spokesman for God. Another warning signal for me is if they speak about any of the following topics, but the most common approach is to introduce them as concepts without specifically mentioning them by name:
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)
The Second Apostolic age
Kingdom Now Theology
Manifest Sons of God
The New Breed
The Seven Mountains Mandate
Five Fold Ministry
An end times harvest of a billion souls
Fresh Fire (Catch the fire)
The New Prophecy Movement
Past truth vs. Present Truth
The Third Wave
The Restoration movement
The Joshua Generation
And numerous others
You could write a book on each one of these, and I pray that someone does. For now, it’s super important for each of us to know what our Pastor/Spiritual leader believes. They shouldn’t be upset if you ask their opinion about each of these subjects. If they have a positive response to any of them, then personally I would not stay under their teaching. I would run not walk to another fellowship that uses the Bible as its sole and final authority for faith, doctrine, and practice. Please take the time to understand the NAR because in my opinion there may come a day when every believer will have to decide whether to accept or reject the authority of the so-called, “restored apostles.”
Before you disregard this warning, please do your own investigation and ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment. If you have even a hint or tiny suspicion that something is not quite right with what you are hearing, I urge you to pursue it until you know the truth. It will be difficult at first because you want to be loyal to your teacher but a higher loyalty belongs to Jesus and the Scriptures. My prayer is that these thoughts have provoked you to seek the Lord and search the Scriptures before you accept the teaching of any man, and that includes this one.
The early church gives us a pattern of how to respond when we listen to any teacher. A paraphrase of Acts 17:11 says: They searched the scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught, was true. The Bible is our only standard, and we must stay true to the inerrant word of God.
A. The Bible gives us numerous clear, definitive and authoritative warnings.
1. “If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message”… (Deut 18:22)
2. “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain.” (Jer. 23:28)
3. “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: What sorrow awaits the false prophets who are following their own imaginations and have seen nothing at all.” (Eze. 13:3)
4. “On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Mat 7:22.23)
5. “many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people.” (Mat. 24:11)
6. “…false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. See, I have warned you about this ahead of time.” (Mat. 24:24-25)
7. “These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2nd Corinthians 11:13-15)
8. “Dear friends do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the spirit; you must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God, for there are many false prophets in the world.” (1 John 4:1)
9. “You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.” (Revelation 2:2)
10. Read the Book of Jude for a good description of what to be concerned about.
B. Internet resources:
(1) Various articles on the Latter rain and associated ministries.
Latter Rain and it’s spin offs.
(2) New Apostolic Reformation
A transcript of a talk given by Peter Wagner, the father of the NAR.
Make sure you get to the second half where his own words confirm their goals.
(3) 1949 Assembly of God resolution:
(Read the section: “The New Order of the Latter Rain”; Resolution No. 7)
(4) 2000 Assembly of God resolution.
(This is very definitive in describing the many fallacies of the Latter Rain teaching.)
(5) Dominion Mandate and 7 Mountain Mandate (Peter Wagner, the father of the NAR)
(6) Che Ahn; (Harvest International Ministries)