In November, I attended the Evangelical Theological Society’s Annual Meeting in San Diego. While I was there, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a friend from my undergrad days at Biola University, Holly Pivec. She’s also a fellow graduate of the M.A. in Christian Apologetics program at Biola.
Turns out, she was giving a presentation with Doug Geivett, who I used to work for as I served in the M.A. Philosophy of Religion and Ethics department at Talbot School of Theology. I just read their popular work on the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). It’s called God’s Super Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement.
God’s Super Apostles: An Overview
In this post, I’ll give you a quick overview of God’s Super Apostles and share the top 3 things I took away from this book.
Doug and Holly define NAR as “a movement within Protestant Christianity–and particularly rising out of independent charismatic churches–the seeks to restore the “lost” church offices of apostle and prophet. People in this movement believe that modern-day apostles and prophets must hold official offices in church government” (145).
In this accessible treatment, they walk you through key teachings of NAR movement, contrasting Scripture with representative NAR leader’s views on apostles, prophets, spiritual warfare and miracles. God’s Super Apostles also includes helpful advice parents and pastors and participants in the movement.
God’s Super Apostles: Top 3 Takeaways
1. NAR teachings can show up anywhere
I first encountered this movement back in high school, when I was working at a Campus Crusade for Christ bookstore in the Philippines. Something on the shelf caught my interest and I ended up reading almost all of the books in the spiritual warfare section, especially NAR teacher Peter Wagner’s works on spiritual mapping and warfare prayer.
God’s Super-Apostles clearly explained how NAR teachings deviate from Scripture–and how they can show up anywhere. For example, some non-denominational churches have adopted the practices of Bethel Church, where:
Children are encouraged to talk with angels, interpret each other’s dreams, and practice raising the dead by wrapping each other in toilet paper like mummies. This also happens at churches that have no affiliation with NAR (106).
2. NAR teachings can really hurt people
What would you say if someone calling themselves an apostle or prophet walked into your church saying everyone should submit to their teaching? As strange as it sounds, people do join up. And many get hurt when they become dependent on leaders who “exert unhealthy and unbiblical control over their lives.” For example, an influencial Kansas City Prophet Bob Jones admitted to:
encouraging women to undress in his office so they could stand ‘naked before the Lord’ in order to receive a [prophetic] word (76).
Further, when the promises made by NAR prophets don’t come true, people often become disillusioned with God or with themselves. Others even feel like they have failed at the Christian life if they are not performing miracles like some NAR teachers lead them to believe.
3. How to fairly engage NAR teachings
The preface of God’s Super Apostles frames the conversation nicely. In order to fairly engage this movement, we should take a tip from the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12 and hear NAR teachings out while keeping an open mind. If a “teaching doesn’t line up with Scripture, then we must cast it aside.”
Doug and Holly suggest this method for testing if a new revelation is from God: Don’t just ask if the new teaching contradicts Scripture, but ask if there’s a “deep continuity with the Scriptures.” They called this “The Berean Principle.”
God’s Super Apostles: A Recommendation
This fast-paced, 159-page paperback is easily read in a few hours and I like how it kept my attention with real-life stories. I do have to say, although this is a serious topic, some of these spiritual warfare practices are really quite bizarre. I had to laugh out loud at this one:
The followers of NAR apostles and prophets often…engage in what they call prophetic acts to release God’s power…driving stakes into the ground inscribed with passages of Scripture, taking Communion then buying the bread and wine, pouring kosher salt around the perimeters of the property, and anointing the site with oil. One team actually filled a balloon with anointing oil and bombed their target from an airplane (80).
God’s Super Apostles gives you a clearer understanding of what lies behind some of the aberrant teachings that may find their way into your church. It also helps you better minister to people who may be experiencing spiritual abuse and guard against falling prey to the latest piece of misinformation popularized by religious leaders who claim to speak for God.