The New Apostolic Reformation – A Shelter for the Unqualified

By Stephen Colin   9 August 2018

Bob Dylan, hailed as one of the great song writers of the 20th century penned a song called “Shelter from the Storm” in 1975. The lyrics to the song have been regarded as a poetic masterpiece, which is probably why he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016. The third verse in particular uses imagery which is akin to something we see in the visible church today. Dylan writes, “Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved. Everything up to that point had been left unresolved. Try imagining a place where it’s always safe and warm. Come in, she said I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.”  These lyrics describe something taking place in the the fastest growing movement under the name of “Christianity,” the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation)  The NAR, along with a host of serious issues (articulated in our previous blogs) has become somewhat of a shelter for the unqualified.

What would you do if you discovered that a certain hospital performing heart surgeries , used unqualified people to operate on patients?  I’m sure you would expose the hospital, and warn as many people as possible to avoid them!  The NAR in like manner is a movement which shelters unqualified “apostles, prophets and pastors,” and provides them with a platform to perform deadly surgery on the souls of men and women. I remind you that the “apostles and prophets” in this movement are already unqualified simply because of the fact that the church has “…been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets..” (Eph. 2:20)  This makes it impossible for anyone to hold such offices in the church today. However, the office of Pastor is still functioning in Christ’s church, and many who have proven themselves unqualified for this position have found refuge in the NAR. The question that this article seeks to answer is simply this: why is a movement claiming to represent the true church of Jesus Christ sheltering unqualified individuals?

The Bible is absolutely clear regarding the qualifications for a pastor.  Paul writes to Timothy – “An overseer (a word used interchangeable with elder and pastor), then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.  He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
(1 Tim. 3:2-7)
Paul also tells Titus that  “he must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Tit. 1:9)
To sum it up: a pastor must be qualified in two vital areas, Character and Doctrine.

In light of the clear teaching of Scripture regarding who gets to be a pastor, I would like to briefly examine two individuals who have found shelter in the NAR, even though they are unqualified for the position.

1. Todd Bentley
How in the world does this man still have a voice in the visible church?  Answer: The NAR has sheltered him. It is a well-known fact that Todd Bentley committed adultery and got a divorce.  He went on to marry the woman whom he had an affair with providing us all with evidence that this man was unrepentant.  Clearly this is someone who has disqualified himself from ministry (even though it could easily be argued that he was never qualified doctrinally anyway).  Yet, Todd Bentley has been fully restored and is continuing to deceive millions. This didn’t happen by accident.

Two popular “apostles” in this cancerous movement played a major part in restoring this fraud.  Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson paved the way for Bentley to continue preaching his delusional message, accompanied by false signs and wonders, ridiculous claims of raising the dead, and bizarre behavior which has absolutely nothing to do with Biblical Christianity.

A second individual who has found shelter in this unbiblical movement is none other than…
2. Mark Driscoll
In short, this man basically fled church discipline after serious allegations of plagiarism were charged against him. (You can read more about this saga at this here.)
There is no doubt that this has damaged his reputation with those outside the church, disqualifying him from pastoral ministry, yet in the short time of about two years he is already pastoring a new church (The Trinity Church, Scottsdale, Arizona). And guess which crowd he’s running with now? The NAR. They have gladly taken him in and sheltered him from the storm of those “stuffy christians” who have called for repentance. Charisma Mag, the online purporters of NAR theology have recently promoted Driscoll and his new book “Spirit-Filled Jesus.” Not only are they promoting his book, but he will even be speaking at the Charisma Conference!  Sadly, another unqualified “pastor” sheltered by the NAR.

These are just two examples among many! Steven Furtick wrote a book called “Unqualified” in which he demonstrates how unqualified he actually is for pastoral ministry by the way he mishandles God’s precious Word. Therefore, it is no surprise that he too has been embraced by the NAR, evidenced by his more recent associations and conferences like the “Dominion Camp Meeting” where in 2017 he partnered with the “apostle” Rod Parsley, the supreme heretic Jesse Duplantis, and Perry Stone.

I believe that the reason why the NAR is so quick to shelter unqualified ‘pastors’ is simply because this movement is not from God.  This movement has not come about through a serious exegetical study of the Word of God, and has consistently shown a complete lack of discernment.  This movement is a continuation of the “Third wave” Charismatic movement which prepared the way for some of the most destructive false teachers in church history.  This movement not only produces these false teachers, but gladly takes in and shelters those who have been exposed in more doctrinally sound environments.

Coming back to Bob Dylan’s song I think it is fair to say that the NAR’s message to the unqualified is this: “Come in, she said I’ll give ya shelter from the storm.”

Instead of being sheltered by this abhorrent movement these “pastors” should be called to repentance. God is Holy and will not be mocked. The NAR may be able to protect these men from the temporal storm of discerning christians, however who is going to protect them on the day of Judgment when everything will be exposed? Who will be their advocate on that day?

This is a reminder that every single one of us must flee to Christ and throw ourselves at His mercy! Not only did He bleed and die upon the cross to satisfy the wrath of God, but he imputes His perfect righteousness to the account of those who humbly repent of their sin and put all of their trust in the Risen and Returning Christ.  Only with our sins wiped away and the righteousness of God that comes through faith will we be sheltered and able to withstand the storm of God’s righteous Judgement.  As Jesus Himself said in Matthew 7:25, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.”

A better song goes like this:

“My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”

Edward Mote (1797-1874)

TAKING EVERY “ISM” CAPTIVE

 
By Stephen Colin   23 November 2017

Every kind of false teaching comes in the form of a pre-packaged ideology which is designed to lure people away from the Written Word of God and into error and delusion. Unfortunately large parts of the visible church have fallen prey to these ideologies which explains why there is a famine in the land for the hearing of the Word of God!

Socialism, feminism, capitalism, communism, mormonism… The English language is full of ‘isms’! The suffix ‘ism’ entered the English language in the 1600’s and by the 1900’s was being used specifically to signify a pre-packaged ideology. You might be thinking… Thanks for the English lesson, but what does this have to do with Christianity!? This has a lot to do with Christianity, in fact this has much to do with what we find eroding the foundations of biblical Christianity. Let me narrow it down. This has a lot to do with what we find waging war against the mind of every true Christian. An ideology is a system of ideas and beliefs. Over the course of Church history Satan and his spokesmen have formulated numerous pre-packaged ideologies with the two main purposes: 1. To keep the unregenerate blinded to the Gospel and comfortably on the wide road to hell. 2. To lead believers astray in order to make them ineffective in the proclamation of the true gospel which is the only message that saves. We should be grateful for the ‘isms’ because they help us to identify these ideologies and deal with them accordingly.

They are not always easy to identify, however, once you begin to dig beneath the surface it becomes evident that Satan has only re-packaged old ideologies in new boxes. It’s like a South African walking into the cereal aisle in an American grocery store. There are so many different kinds of cereal that choosing one can become an impossible and painful task. However, once you realize that many are just offshoots of a specific kind then the choice becomes easier. Much false teaching within the Church today is just an offshoot of something the Church has already identified and exposed sometime in in the past, which makes the study of Church history all the more important. Let me simplify it this way: Every kind of false teaching comes in the form of a pre-packaged ideology which is designed to lure people away from the Written Word of God and into error and delusion. Unfortunately large parts of the visible church have fallen prey to these ideologies which explains why there is a famine in the land for the hearing of the Word of God! This series will look at some of the more popular ‘isms’ which are causing the most damage to the Church and also call every true believer to stand up and ‘put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.’ (Ephesians 6:11) This is essentially a call to take every ‘ism’ captive.

The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians provides us with invaluable insight into how we are to obey this charge. In Chapter 10 as he begins to defend his apostleship and ministry against false teachers he writes in verse 3 to 5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”  These arguments and lofty opinions are ideas and speculations, which are ‘isms’ that raise themselves up against the knowledge of God and the Gospel. We don’t play around with these ‘isms’. We don’t entertain these ‘isms’. Paul makes it clear, we destroy these ‘isms’ by taking them captive. We do this by uncovering the christian veneer which makes them so deceptive by using ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…’ making them obedient to Christ. We expose them using Scripture and we replace the error with truth. Let’s remember that when we are dealing with false teaching our only weapon is the Word of God. The more we know our weapon, the better we will be at wielding it for the sake of our own souls and the souls of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our motivation for doing so must always be rooted in a love for Christ, which manifests itself in a desire to obey Him, that we might ‘save others by snatching them out of the fire.’ If we get our motivation wrong we might become like noisy gongs or clanging cymbals.
Coming back to the ‘isms’. The question that needs to be asked is: What are some of the most prominent ‘isms’ which need to be taken captive today?
There are too many to deal with in one series, so I have decided to focus on four which I believe are most dangerous to the church in 2017:
  1. Quietism
  2. Sentimentalism
  3. Antinomianism
  4. Legalism

In the next couple of weeks we will deal with each ‘ism’ individually. Today let’s have a look at the first one, Quietism.

What is Quietism?
Quietism is an offshoot of mysticism. Mysticism is complex. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes it this way: the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience. The ‘christian’ mystic is one who seeks an experience with Christ, to hear Christ speak through means apart from the Written Word of God with one of those means being Quietism. When we think of centering prayer, soaking prayer or a Rhema word from God we are most likely dealing with Quietism. Now immediately the Charismatic/NAR movement comes to mind. Quietism is indeed a major part of the NAR as they seek to hear God speak apart from Scripture, however it’s important we understand that this is not only a part of aberrant movements like the NAR or what I call the silly seeker sensitive movement. This has crept its way into seemingly solid churches which is what makes it so dangerous. Nathan Busenitz provides a helpful description when he writes, “Quietism—also called “higher living”—is an approach to the spiritual life that emphasizes “letting go and letting God.” It often borders on a strange dualism, where the physical world is considered frail and transient, while the spiritual world is the home of truth and joy. In quietism, prayer is stressed as the emptying of the mind to just “rest” in the presence of God. It presents the clear mind as the opposite of worry, and the spiritual mind is the one that is still, almost disconnected from the physical world around it.” That sounds very much like another ‘ism’ which the Church has dealt with, Gnosticism. The ‘presence of God’ is a big emphasis in quietism, however once we peel back the ‘christianize’ we see it for what it is: An unbiblical practice with its roots in Hinduism and Buddhism!  Quietism teaches that sinless perfection and inner peace can be achieved through contemplation and experience with the Divine. Now replace those empty words with some ‘christianese’ and you get this: “I believe you can look at solitude, community, and ministry as three disciplines by which we create space for God. If we create space in which God can act and speak, something surprising will happen. You and I are called to these disciplines if we want to be disciples.” That’s a direct quote from deceased but popular catholic mystic, Henri Nouwen, pictured below.
 Photograph of Henri Nouwen in the 1990s taken by Frank Hamilton.
……
You may say, “well he’s a catholic, so no big deal”. Other than the fact that many so-called protestants are promoting unity with the Catholic church (so much for the reformation), the problem is that popular teachers within mainstream evangelicalism embrace and promote Nouwen’s teachings! For example Rick Warren quoted him in a tweet which read, “Hiddenness is the place of purification. In hiddenness we find our true selves.”
….

What does that even mean! Might as well have said “shabashabashaba.” Both have the same depth of meaning and substance. Tim Keller also quotes Nouwen in a tweet which reads, “Our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it.”

No comment on that one. If you figure out what it means please let me know.
So is Quietism biblical? Is the version of prayer which suggests we need to quiet and empty our minds in order to hear from and experience God biblical? The answer is an emphatic NO! You will not find this taught anywhere in the Bible. Someone may quote Psalm 46:10, which reads “Be still and know that I am God” and claim that they have Biblical support, however that verse has nothing to do with Quietism. If you study that verse in context you’ll find out very quickly that Psalm 46:10 is not a verse you should be applying to yourself unless you would like to experience the wrath of God. That verse is a warning to all the nations that oppose God and his people. God is saying “Be still”. In other words, ’Shut up!”, “Stop your fighting!” and KNOW THAT I AM GOD! The call for stillness before the Lord is not a preparation for worship or prayer, but for impending judgment.
…..
Quietism is an imposter in the church which must be quieted (pun intended). Quietism erodes the mind of the Christian because it draws the Christian away from the Written Word of God and causes the Christian to trust his/her subjective feelings rather that the objective truth of Scripture. Quietism erodes the Gospel because it causes people to believe that there is truth within them, rather than recognizing that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” Instead of drawing us closer to Christ, Quietism only draws us away from Christ who paid the price upon the cross by bleeding, suffering, satisfying the wrath of God in our place, dying and raising from the dead so that a Holy and just God could forgive and justify wicked, hell-bound sinners like us. Quietism provides a false peace and draws us away from the true peace we so desperately need with God, which only comes through union with our Lord Jesus Christ. Quietism practically denies the sufficiency and authority of scripture, even if those who practice it claim that scripture is sufficient. Don’t be fooled. Rather take this ‘ism’ captive and make it obedient to Christ.