WHAT IS ITS NATURE?
The Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius, has in some ways helped us understand many cults and false teachers. While we do not embrace his philosophies, when it comes to discernment work we continually bring ourselves back to basics by remembering this quote:
“Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature?” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Those questions lead us as Christians to ask these questions: Do they operate from a fallen, sinful, fleshly nature or from a new nature Spirit-frilled believers nature? (Galatians 5)
When spiritually profiling heretical movements and their leaders, it’s very important to ask these questions. That’s because once you educate yourself on the nature of dangerous cult movements and their leaders, it is easier to recognise before they infiltrate your local churches.
The nature of a false teacher is described by Jesus as a wolf (Matthew 7:15), by the Apostle Paul as dogs (Philippians 3:2), by the Apostle Peter as “irrational animals, creatures of instincts, born to be captured and destroyed” (2 Peter 2:12). The brother of James also says false teachers “are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.”
And God’s Word describes T.D Jakes pretty accurately here.
Some may think these scriptures were written simply because Jesus and His Apostles had an ax to grind against false teachers. However, they are actually giving us insight into the nature of a false Christian. The false teacher is like a wolf or dog, feeling secure in a pack but using the pack to intimidate God’s sheep to further their own desires. They live to fulfill their carnal desires and operate out of that same carnal instinct.
Thankfully, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) make it easy for us to identify with their teachings and practices that its nature is not even remotely Christian.
In this article we will be looking at the nature of the New Apostolic Reformation by analyzing what its leader, C. Peter Wagner, says about it. We will also look at what its other key leaders say about it. Part 2 will look at other aspects of the NAR’s nature.
IT IS LAWLESS.
C. Peter Wagner observed and analyzed the birthing of the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) Apostles in its man-made construction of the Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM). As the NAR Apostles (NARpostles) rolled out their regime to dominate the visible church with their church growth strategies and visionary leadership over the last few decades, they were using Alexander Dowie’s “altar call” system to suggest that they were God’s instrument to furthering the Kingdom of God here on earth.
As a result of the illusion that God is using them to win countless people to Jesus Christ (see Reinhardt Bonnke, Kong Hee, Sunday Adelaja, Benny Hinn, Michael Brown, Brian Houston, Phil Pringle, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Rick Warren), they use these numbers to justify very unethical and lawless methods to get people “saved”.
The NOLR/NAR had some idea of holiness but no concept of standards when they used pragmatism as the vehicle to take unethically take over churches and to hide their agenda from the visible church in the 1950s and 60s. Now that this form of lawless pragmatism had been unleashed, we can see that holiness has taken a backseat and lawless pragmatism is justified by NAR leaders in “furthering the kingdom of God.”
We even see the reason with the observations of C. Peter Wagner as to why the NAR is anti-denominational due to doctrinal statements, codes of ethics or legal structures:
“Some of the authors I read expressed certain frustrations because they found it difficult to get their arms around the NAR… There was no printed doctrinal statement or code of ethics. This was very different from dealing with traditional denominations. The reason behind this is that, whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary. There is no legal tie that binds it. In fact, some have dual alignment or multiple alignment. Apostles are not in competition with each other, they are in cahoots.” [Source] (Emphasis added.)
This observation highlights one major concern of the NAR. They see themselves as a church movement which is lead by governing end-time Apostles – who rally Christians to further the Kingdom of God through relational networks and relational structures.
However, they only see it as a movement by redefining the church offices. An institution is something that is set in place, something that is established, something that stays in place. A movement is the precise opposite of that. And while an Institution needs a minister, a movement needs a leader.
This actually explains why no Apostle in the New Apostolic Reformation movement is accountable to anyone within its “relational structures.”
The leader of the NAR, C. Peter Wagner writes:
“To the degree that friendship and trust can develop from this process, there is realistic hope that many apostles will voluntarily and publicly submit themselves to an accountability structure of legitimate apostolic peers. On this one, the jury is still out.” [Source] (Emphasis added.)
IT IS PRAGMATIC.
It is important to keep all this in mind when we consider C. Peter Wagner what had to say about how leaders of the NAR should grow their NAR “churches” back in the 1970s (head of the Church Growth Movement):
“We ought to see clearly that the end justifies the means. What else could justify the means? If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at. It is for that reason a good method. If on the other hand my method is not accomplishing the goal, how can I be justified in continuing to use it?”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, Your Church Can Grow, Publisher: Gospel Light Publications, 01/03/1976. pg. 137. [Source]
Remember that NAR Apostles are also called Generals and that the NOLR/CRM/NAR always have seen themselves as ‘the army of God’. They often call themselves Joel’s Army. So you could say that they literally live by the principal, “There are no rules in war” to justify their lawless practices in the world and against Christianity.
Here are some examples of NAR churches operating from this pragmatic nature.
EXAMPLE 1 – HOW APOSTLE YONGGI CHO OBTAINED YOIDO FULL GOSPEL CHURCH.
NAR Apostle Yonggi Cho is praised for having the biggest church in the world. However, while he uses Christian words and concepts, he twists the bible to promote how he used pagan concepts to build his church on unethical practices.
In this article, Cho writes about how he got to build his church on Yoido Island:
In this article, Cho writes about how obtained $50,000 to build his church:
In his own words, Yonggi Cho proves without a shadow of a doubt he is an NAR Apostle accountable to no one in his church or in the NAR network and is quite prepared to break laws and manipulate Korean government officials to get what he wants. Lawless pragmatism at its finest.
EXAMPLE 2 – HILLSONG MANTRA: “… THE METHODS HAVE TO CHANGE”
A good example of this pragmatic ungodliness is Hillsong. We would like to remind our readers what NARpostle Brian Houston said when he talked about homosexuality and gay marriage.
Brian Houston’s mantra of Hillsong “the message is sacred but the methods have to change” is a very good way of describing how lawlessness, godlessness or even demonic methods can be used to justify expanding their NAR cults. Specifically with that mantra, Brian Houston used that to justify that the church needs to change its theological stance on same sex marriage to stay relevant in society.
“I think with the church, the message is sacred but the methods have to change for the church to stay relevant,” said Houston. “And it’s challenging. It’s challenging to stay relevant. I mean, if we go to the one big hot topic maybe for churches … now with homosexual marriage legalized, and churches for generations, they hold a set of beliefs around what they believe the Word of God, the Bible says. All of a sudden in many circles the church can look like a pariah, because to many people it’s so irrelevant now … So staying relevant is a big challenge. I think it’s more than just singing more contemporary songs and the colors you paint your walls or whatever.” [Cached]
In other words, Brian Houston is saying that if homosexuality and same sex marriage are allowed in the church to expand the “Kingdom of God” or their “church” – so be it. Bobbie Houston does a better job articulating this pragmatic dilemma that Hillsong faces in trying to push the homosexual agenda in the church to further the cause of their NAR cult:
“[Homosexuality] is a dilemma because the Bible’s quite clear about some of the parameters that belong to those in leadership. And we’re still figuring it out… We want to bridge all the divides in society and I think that’s one of the final divides.”
Source: Bobbie Houston, Australian Women’s Weekly, We’re Not A Cult, March Issue, 2016. [Source]
However, this lawless pragmatism was passed on to Brian Houston and his family by his father, NARpostle Frank Houston.
EXAMPLE 3 – HILLSONG STILL THINK SERIAL PEDOPHILE IS A ‘MAN OF GOD’.
Hillsong offers another good example of this ungodly pragmatism where the end justifies the means (or methods) for their church growth. This next example is something we had to personally repent of and unlearn when we heard that the founder of Hillsong, Frank Houston, was a serial pedophile. (Brian Houston acknowledged Frank Houston as the founder of Hillsong.) At the time, we were justifying that in spite of his sins, God was able to use Frank Houston to lead many people to Jesus. We elevated the calling of Frank above his sins and justified that the results of his influence outweighed the crimes he committed against little children.
Before we joined ChurchWatch, we justified in our hearts and minds that only God was able to use “Pop” Houston. We reasoned that because “Pop” made himself available to be used by God, God used him in spite of his short-comings… like pedophilia?
While we have repented of that mindset, many Hillsong members will justify that Frank Houston had a legal and qualified ministry given by God Himself, in spite of his sexually abusing little boys. [Link] They will also justify Brian Houston’s lawlessness, lies and cover-up to justify the illegal actions and unqualified ministry of Brian Houston. (See Royal Commission Case 18 or this timeline that documents his actions and behavior.)
The pastoral epistles say it plainly: men who practice immorality are disqualified, Hillsong members have conditioned themselves into believing that Gods calling of men into ministry nullifies any form of lawlessness and wickedness done in His name.
EXAMPLE 4 – STEALING CHURCH MONEY & PARADING GEISHA PASTOR FOR JESUS?
City Harvest Church is another good example of ungodly methods justifying church growth. Around the year 2000, Apostles Phil Pringle and A.R. Bernard sat with Apostle Kong Hee and gave him direction to produce what Kong calls the ‘Cultural Mandate’. He claimed that God called he and his wife to influence the “marketplace.” As a result, the Crossover Project was born and his wife Sun Ho produced a very controversial music video “China Wine” in 2006, her stage name Geisha (Asian prostitute).
Kong Hee and six others in CHC leadership are now in jail because the ends justified them illegally taking his church’s money to fund Sun Ho’s music career in Hollywood. (See CHC Church Watch.) Now CHC’s “geisha” is the pastor of CHC.
EXAMPLE 5 – CORRUPT DEALINGS TO BUILD A CHURCH FOR JESUS?
A.R. Bernard is a workplace Apostle of the megachurch Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York. He and his church are another example that demonstrates the pragmatic nature of the NAR. Below, A.R Bernard promotes the idea that Christians can lie and operate deceitfully to serve “the kingdom of God” on earth by twisting the story of Rahab and Abraham to justify his corrupt dealings to expand his church. ” He concluded that, “God actually used people who had different values and lower standards, to get His work done.”
He then gives these “two illustrations” on how he gained the results necessary by using unethical (and most likely illegal means) to get them.
“When we were bidding on this housing development and we bid again below a billion dollars, but our bid was accepted, everyone had their part to play. So we had a team, we had equity partners, we had development partners, we had the government and the community, with my responsibility to use my influence with government and community in order to make this deal go through.
So I remember when the equity partners were about to leave and they said to me, they said, “Reverend, we don’t think you should be in on this meeting”. [laughter] They said, “Because we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and go to work in order to get the underwriting that we’re gonna need for this project”. I said, “Well, what do you mean, I don’t need to be there?” They said, “You really don’t need to be there Reverend (emphasis)” [More laughter]
So the lights went on, and I said “Ohhhhhhhhh, OK! I won’t be there!” [Laughter] So whatever went on in that meeting, I didn’t want to know about it, I didn’t want to be a part of it, But I knew that there would be things going on in that meeting that were inconsistent with my integrity and my standards [More laughter]. So I allowed my partners to protect me from what they were about to engage in.
Now, what did they do? I don’t know. But when they came out of that meeting, we had the financing we needed. And I said “Hallelujah!””
Apostle A.R. Bernard then talked about when he built his “11-1/2 acre campus” in “the late 90’s.” To avoid union hassles, they went to a “family” who owned “concrete and steel construction” and “rubbish removal” companies. According to Bernard, “nothing gets built without their involvement.”
So “instead of hiring a separate development company,” they outsourced to “the company that happened to be a part of this family.” This is what A.R. Bernard allowed to happen when he met with the family:
“So in sitting down and talking [Laughs], with the head of the company. He said, “Well, you know, our family does concrete. Our family does, you know, ah, fencing”. And they told me all the services provided by their family. I said, “But look, in order for me to do this project fairly, I have to bid it out.”
They said, “Don’t worry. We will always come in with the best bid. So get anyone else that you want to bid on the project and I guarantee you, we’ll beat their bid”. [Laughter] So [Laughs] we had two other bids and we had their bids and sure enough, for some reason, the other bidders said we can’t compete with that bid [Laughter]. I don’t know if they couldn’t compete with the bid or the family! [Laughter] So they disappeared and we only had this particular company to deal with.
So they started the project and I found out that word spread about this particular company was handling our construction project. And as a result, for some reason, we had no union problems, we had no coalition problems, no community problems, no government problems.”
Bernard then went on to talk about how “throughout the whole project,” a “big construction machine” was “left on the property.” When his church was built, he inquired about why they never used that machine. Bernard explained why it was left there:
“Well, I found out that that machine was a “marker” and that machine sitting there “marker” told everybody who would drive by, “don’t touch this project!” So the project was under the protection and development of this particular family. Got it?”
A.R Bernard once again proves that Wagner’s observations of the NAR are all about the ends justifying the means:
“So there are times as we engage with the marketplace, God brings people to us who are not of the same values and integrity, who end up accomplishing things on our behalf…”
You can listen to the entire audio and read the transcript here.
EXAMPLE 6 – MANIPULATING PEOPLE TO GET BAPTIZED?
Elevation Church is another example of the ends justifying the means. Steven Furtick summarizes what is wrong with pragmatism in the NAR with this quote:
“If you want to know Jesus, I am sorry to break it to you, this church is not for you. You are in the army now.”
This specific NAR church also operates from the same pragmatic philosophy. A classic example of this was when an Elevation insider spoke up and alerted discernment sites and media outlets of Elevation’s unethical baptisms. This is an excerpt from the Elevation church’s Sun Stand Still website:
Audience (15) 15 people will sit in the worship experience and be the first ones to move when Pastor gives the call.
1. Sit in the auditorium and begin moving forward when Pastor Steven says go.
2. Move intentionally through the highest visibility areas and the longest walk.”
In other words, Elevation is encouraging people to fake a response to manipulate people into responding. Deception and manipulation are used to justify getting people baptized.
Read more here:
EXAMPLE 7 – MANIPULATING PEOPLE TO OBTAIN FINANCES?
In this article we learn how Frank Houston obtained a church through unethical means by lying to a mayor about his finances. The result of Frank’s lies and questionable antics to the mayer, forced the local council to personally carry, “the finance for five years.”
Essentially, if the end justifies the means to further their ministries and to get get people into their church at all cost, it’s easy for the NAR to justify anything to get what they want.
So the NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION…
What is it’s nature?
The next article will look at the hostile and violent nature of the NAR.