Holly Pivec was invited for an interview on the Naked Bible podcast, where she warned her hosts about the dangers of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). To continue the discussion on the NAR, the hosts decided to invite Dr Michael Brown in a follow-up podcast.
Above: Apostle James Goll and Apostle Paula White sitting next to Holly Pivec, Pivec calling out New Apostolic Reformation. Like Michael Brown, they ignore the NARlephant in the room.
In Pivec’s interview, she even warned the hosts that people in the NAR downplay their apostolic titles and downplay even the existence of this movement. She gave Dr Michael Brown as an example of someone who downplay’s it’s existence.
What was breathtaking was not necessarily the details and depth of Pivec’s discussion – it was what Dr Michael Brown did with his interview in light of the scholarly evidence presented by Holly Pivec.
Brown simply capitalized on the ignorance of the hosts to question everything Pivec said and then misled the hosts in defense of his ‘apostolic’ friends and his association with the movement. He even downplayed the role of C. Peter Wagner in developing this movement to prominence in Evangelicalism.
The brilliance of his deception led the hosts to conclude the following:
“There’s no big illuminati NAR conspiracy. There’s no- there doesn’t seem to be some organised plot within the church. I feel like I can calm down a little bit.”
No one should ‘calm down’. We have false teachers parading as ‘Apostles and Prophets’ in the New Apostolic Reformation, ruthlessly taking over whole churches and denominations. C. Peter Wagner himself acknowledged this in his book ‘Churchquake!’ and even wrote the foreword of a book by one of his Apostle friends David Cartledge, ‘The Apostolic Revolution’. In this book Cartledge talks how he, along with fellow NARpostles Frank Houston, Yonggi Cho and Andrew Evans, peformed a coup d’état on the Australian Assemblies of God with their Apostolic and Prophetic ruffians. And that happened in 1977 – Wagner/Cartledge’s books emerging in 1998-2000. Since then, these ‘Apostles and Prophets’ have been exposed for conduct ranging from financial fraud to serial pedophilia, with horrific abuses of power and breaking government laws (some escaping legal consequences from their crimes).
Both Yonggi Cho (Michael Brown’s friend) and his ‘apostolic’ underling, Kong Hee, are also convicted felons in their own countries for financial mismanagement. So Michael Brown is without excuse for justifying the unjustifiable and pretending it doesn’t exist. (He must have one huge rug to sweep the NAR under.)
The image that comes to mind when listening to what Michael Brown said, reminds us how Jesus portrayed Satan himself in the parable of the sower (birds of the air eating the seed).
“The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”Luke 8:12
No sooner does Pivec throw a warning out to the hosts, Michael Brown ‘swoops in and eats up’ the warning so they remain unaware of the dangers of the NAR.
Oddly enough, only a few months ago, Michael Brown claimed it was the ‘so-called NAR‘ and spoke of its ‘so-called apostles‘. Not only has he confessed to not reading the NAR literature of his friend C. Peter Wagner (leading apostle of the NAR movement) and others who openly talk about it, for some reason he thinks he is now an expert on the NAR even though he claims he is not part of it and puts it into the category of myth.
If this is true – why are there countless testimonies of people leaving the NAR? Are all of its victims now liars?
As we often hear Michael Brown promoting his own books on a very regular basis (daily on his own program) – don’t we have the right to expect that Michael Brown read the books/literature of his NARpostolic friends before speaking as a person of authority on the subject, especially on other Christian broadcasts?
We will examine his deception in this podcast in a future article. Below, you can hear the interviews of Holly Pivec and Michael Brown.
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) seems to quite clearly justify labeling it a movement or denomination. Millions of people around the world are part of its network of churches. However, many NAR leaders and advocates deny that it’s a denomination or movement. Many Christians who are attracted by NAR teachings and practices have no idea that something called the NAR even exists. For those aware of its influence and presence within Christianity, the NAR has branded itself as representing the return of authoritative apostles and prophets to the modern church, complete with miracles such as healing and raising the dead. On this episode, we talk to Holly Pivec, an authority on the NAR, to learn what it is, what its defining characteristics are, and how we should think about its teachings.
NOTE: Shortly after our interview, Holly Pivec informed us that her statement about Michael Brown teaching at C. Peter Wagner’s school was inaccurate. Dr. Brown is the founder of FIRE School of Ministry in Charlotte, NC. The doctrinal statement for that school is located here and includes a statement on modern apostles and prophets.
Source: Naked Bible 179: What is the New Apostolic Reformation?, The Naked Bible Podcast, http://www.nakedbiblepodcast.com/naked-bible-179-what-is-the-new-apostolic-reformation/, Published September 30 2017. (Accessed 10/10/2017)
This episode continues our discussion of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) from the previous episode. Our guest on this episode is Dr. Michael L. Brown, biblical scholar and host of the well-known radio show, Line of Fire. Dr. Brown has long been part of the charismatic wing of Christianity and has ministered in a wide variety of capacities in that context. He has also been a persistent internal critic of the abuses and fringe behaviors within the charismatic movement. In this episode Dr. Brown relates his own experience with the NAR as an infrequent point of discussion within charismatic circles. He therefore doubts its validity as a movement, though the general influence of charismatic ministry has had great impact despite clear abuses in doctrine and practice.
Source: Naked Bible 180: Continuing the NAR Conversation with Dr. Michael L. Brown, The Naked Bible Podcast, http://www.nakedbiblepodcast.com/naked-bible-180-continuing-the-nar-conversation-with-dr-michael-l-brown/, Published October 07 2017. (Accessed 10/10/2017)
[12:15] – Host “As we get started here Mike, how would you define all this stuff? What is the NAR to you? And how do you articulate the difference between that term and Pentecostals Charismatics? And any other adjective you choose to throw in here?
Michael Brown: “Yeah, sure thing. It’s great to have this time to talk. When I was a boy, we travelled across the country, my family and I, my sister and my mum and dad. And I remember we were in Texas and my dad ordered a ‘New York’ cut steak, and I remember he said, ‘I’ve in New York all my life and I’ve never seen a New York cut steak. In other words in Texas they thought there was such a thing, but as a lifelong New Yorker he’d never heard of it.
So commonly when people attack me about the NAR, or whatever in Charismatic, Pentecostal circles, which I have been in for the better part of the last 46 years, no one’s heard of it, no one knows what in the world you’re talking about. So this idea that there is this thing that’s controlling all these churches. A DVD just came out that said they have over 300 million people worldwide, that’s a complete myth. That’s basically like the Nephilim or the Illuminati, and they rule everything, and Michael Heiser is the honorary President of the whole thing.”
Michale Heiser: “No, no, I’m a Jesuit, get it right.”
Michael Brown: “Oh, sorry, sorry. I mean, I get called everything day and night. I am by the way an Apostle and a leader in the NAR. And then my great sin is that I deny it, on top of it.
Anyway, let me say a few things. Number one, the Charismatic movement spreading around the world is the greatest harvest of souls in the history of the church. In terms of numbers of people coming to faith. Around the world many historians will attest to that.
Number two. There are lots of abuses, lots of errors, especially as it spread very rapidly. And if you’re in say in kind of a Baptist tradition, Presbyterian Churches, a lot of the abuses will be spiritual deadness, spiritual coldness. A lot of the abuses in the Charismatic side would be loud outward spiritual abuses. So those exist, I can tell you what I’ve written to address abuses. About a book I have coming out next year addressing abuses, I will gladly tell you about that.
But when it comes to ‘The NAR’, as I understand this, this is associated with Dr Peter Wagner. Now long before I’d ever heard of Peter Wagner, I concluded based on scripture, that there were small ‘a’ apostles and prophets that continue to minister bases on Ephesians 4, based on 1 Corinthians 12. And that they have been with us through church history, even if we didn’t call people by that name.
In my mind Hudson Taylor would have been an apostolic leader going to plant a new territory. And a spiritual father who gave birth to many works….[15:29] “And then Peter Wagner whose a fuller prophet and very influential began to write on this. And apparently, cause I didn’t read a lot of this stuff, pointed to a certain point in time of a transformation. And that God was now raising up apostles etc.
So I guess, that when people tell you about the NAR, they’re talking about that specific thing. But guys that I have been friends with over the years… like Che Ahn, or Lou Engle, or Mike Bickle that are allegedly part of the NAR. First, I have never heard any of them talk about the part of that thing, that’s the first thing.
Second thing, none of- I just-no body I know in the Charismatic movement, nobody I’ve worked with for decades that’s a theonomist. I’ve never heard the talk in all my years being in these circles. The great majority are not post millennial, great majority are pre millennial. Many are dispensational, that’s the tradition got saved out of. And even some of the things you talk about, like going on Christian TV and speaking in tongues. I’ve been on Christian TV many times and I have several shows on Christian TV. [16:35] One of my friends took over GODTV. I can’t imagine any of us doing that in a million years. Or the question ever coming up.
Some of the craziest, wackiest stuff is on Christian TV. And I’m ashamed of it, it’s miserable. And some of the fundraising is all messed up. And I’ve written about it, and speak out about it, it’s embarrassing. No question, I’m not minimizing that.
But the only thing, this last introductory point. The only real abuse, or abuses that I’ve seen among those who associate with various ‘apostolic movements’. I think there are several or many, I think. But one is the idea that everybody needs to have an apostle over them. And I think where that comes from is when you have a tone of independent Charismatic Churches that have no denominational affiliation. So there’s no order, there’s no sense of accountability, there are no senior leaders to go to. And there’s no network to connect to. So I think it tries to meet that need, which is fine, in terms of just looking for spiritual elders.
But the other side of it I’ve seen [17:50] that Peter Wagner rightly addressed the issue of the ‘sola pastora’, kind of thing. That the Pastor is kind of everything, the only real gift today is that the Pastor is supposed to do everything. And the way we run our churches is kind of a one man show. I agreed with that, but then it seemed what he was saying was, if you have more than one church, then you’re an apostle. Everybody became an apostle. And tones of people started identifying as apostles. And I thought that was an abuse that I have always differed with.
So that’s my introductory response to a lot of what you’ve put out.”….
[21:20] Michael Brown: ….”Number one, remember, that I have a real hard time telling you what is NAR and who’s part of it. And again, I simply- I don’t know, I don’t know it’s so easily defined.”
Host: “Unless somebody says, ‘hey we’re on this band wagon, how would you know?”
Michael Brown: “Yeah. Or look, again there’s lots of leaders I work with. And some of my friends would identify, they really looked to Dr Wagner, Peter Wagner, they respected a lot, and so on. But I never knew them to say they were part of that thing. So if it’s more clearly defined for some, so be it.
But the fundraising abuses, are more of a kind of classic Charismatic thing that may even go back to the healing revival of the 40s and 50s. When men like Oral Roberts and TL Osborne and their ministries came to national attention. But with that, there were some abuses from different ones. And I think that’s been kind of a manipulative thing that’s found in some Charismatic circles. Because you believe in the man of God, and you believe in the anointing in the man of God. And we are people of faith, and we step out.
[22:30] But I’ve not seen that. All the guys that I know that say worked in Peter Wagner’s circle- let’s put it like that- if that’s what NAR is, fine. Okay? But let’s just say they’re associated with Peter Wagner circles. None of them have been guilty of that nor do they… or they primarily associated with the prosperity message. That came out specifically of the Word of Faith movement that would be associated with Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland and people like Creflo Dollar today.”
Host: “What is that movement in relationship, is that a subset of the Charismatic thing?
Michael Brown: “Yes. Subset of Charismatic, that’s one. Not related to NAR, again as far as I can define and understand it.” [23:17]
[25:47] Michael Brown: “…And that’s why- it’s an ugly abuse. I agree with the critics of it. I make no excuses for it. But I don’t associate it with particularly NAR guys at all. None of them that I know of are into that…”
[29:27] Michael Brown: “First that’s where it starts. It’s our own relationship with God. Understanding who we are as His children. Loved, forgiven in the Messiah. Called to serve Him, called to revere Him …And I only perceive myself being part of the Jesus movement. The worldwide Jesus movement. So I have dear friends who are Charismatic all around the world. I have dear friends who are non-Charismatic. And I’ve worked with people for years and didn’t even know if they were Charismatic or not. Cause we worked together for the cause of the Gospel.
And it’s interesting, I just pulled something up that Peter Wagner wrote in 2011, and he said, “The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader. I have been called the “founder,” but this is not the case. One reason I might be seen as an “intellectual godfather” is that I might have been the first to observe the movement, give a name to it, and describe its characteristics as I saw them. When this began to come together through my research in 1993, I was professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, where I taught for 30 years.
The roots of the NAR go back to the beginning of the African Independent Church Movement in 1900, the Chinese House Church Movement beginning in 1976, the U.S. Independent Charismatic Movement beginning in the 1970s and the Latin American Grassroots Church Movement beginning around the same time. I was neither the founder nor a member of any of these movements, I was simply a professor who observed that they were the fastest growing churches in their respective regions and that they had a number of common characteristics.”
So that they were not, now this is me, not part of a particular denomination. You know he used post denomination but that didn’t work. So he tried to just come up with a way to describe what he was seeing. So again, it’s something that’s organic in that respect, in that just different churches that function with different understanding than having a centralised headquarters, and look more in terms organic movement that were Charismatic. That’s what he was classifying.
But back to the individual level, it’s interesting that when I had Bill Johnson on my radio show, I got a lot of criticism. Of course a lot of people love him and I got a lot of criticism for it. And he agreed to come on the show and be asked hard questions. I especially put out invitations to those who are critical of Bethel to call in with their criticisms. And some things I ask him cause no one called that was critical… So I raised certain questions to him about practices. And he goes, ‘no we don’t believe that, we repudiated it, we’ve heard some people are doing it, we teach against it.’
I said, ‘okay what about this quote’, and he goes, ‘yeah, that’s my son or son in law. That was a misstatement and we regret that he said it, and he’s corrected it.’ Okay how about this, ‘Yeah, that was my daughter and she was totally honest and said I wouldn’t have said it like that.’…And responded in a mature Godly way.
What’s fascinating though, is one of my friends spent time with their students and their ministry school. And he said their big emphasis was not gifts, but identity in Jesus, and being a son or daughter of God. [32:30] Not being I have this gift, or I have that gift, or I have this calling, or I have that calling. And that that grounded them in security, so that there was no competition. You’re not being measured by how much you’re producing, or whether you can heal the sick, or prophecy. You’re not being measured by a title associated with your name. Rather, your identity is being found in being a son or daughter of God. And with that identity, you joyfully serve Him in whatever capacity he calls you do.” [32:59]
[36:55] Host: “…Why aren’t the making this clear [being NAR and clear in their doctrine]? …”
Michael Brown: “Okay. So, uh-uh. What I’m going to say might surprise you. But I doubt that Bill Johnson and these other guys are even aware that they’re criticized in some of these ways. I think it’s so foreign to them and so out there.”
[41:50] Michael Brown: “…Someone had sent this to me, before you were kind enough to do it. Something that Holly had mentioned. We’re going to reach out to have her on my show, I’m not questioning her sincerity.
It’s just that when you present things to the people involved in it who can’t even recognize it, I think something’s amiss there. And perhaps, sometimes as outsiders we are not understanding rightly what’s happening on the inside. That’s why it is always important to say, ‘Have I represented you accurately? Have I understood you accurately?’ And from the things coming back to me, I question that. But she had thought that I taught once at Wagner Leadership institute. Um- and then said, ‘No’. She was mistaken. I taught elsewhere. Well I’ve taught at seven different seminaries from Florida to Denver, to Trinity, to some of the finest seminaries in the nation. I had the joy of doing that. I did teach years back once, I believe once, maybe twice at the Wagner Leadership Institute. So she was right in thinking I did. She wrongly corrected herself. But that’s not a training place for, ‘here’s how you learn to be an apostle’. No. Rather Peter Wagner had a lot of issues as a Professor at Fuller for decades… So he tried to come up with a way to accommodate people’s schedules, as I understand it, I was never part of the planning, or anything, I just taught there once or twice.
But it was to have a network where you’d have all different cities, intensive modulus taught by recognized professors. [cough apostles cough] And then within that, they would have their own accrediting, their own accountability in terms of academic credentials and classes. And you would get certain amount of credit for years of pastoral experience if you were working towards a [?] or something like that.
And if I remember, I taught on revival. Revival and history, what revival is biblically, keys to seeing revival. But I never of a class where they teach you how to be an apostle, they teach you how to be a prophet, or something like this specific to quote ‘NAR’. You would have been at home in many of the classes, those who were more charismatic orientated may have been a bit foreign. But otherwise it would have been, yeah good stuff like they teach at seminary. They were just making it more fitting where someone’s not in a full time programe the same way, or having to deal with the rigorous of a regular schedule. So that again is kind of a bogus idea” [44:37]
[46:50] Michael Brown: “I believe in divine healing… based on primarily what’s written.”
[57:00] Michael Brown: “You know what’s fascinating in what you say there. So I got saved in a little Pentecostal church in 1971 as a heroin shooting, LSD using, hippie rock drummer, 16 years old. Radically born again, my life transformed. Wonderful encounter with God. Rich spiritual life, loving Him, serving Him, sharing the gospel. And over the years in the church, I started getting a little skeptical, I saw a couple of things that rubbed me the wrong way. I was now starting grad school, I was interacting with a wider part of the body. I began to see that most of the scholars were Calvinists, they weren’t Charismatic.
I began to wonder about the traditions that I was saved in. I stared to enlarge my horizons, in one way that was positive, but in another way fed into an intellectual theological pride. Because after all, like you I got my PHD in Semitic studies, and I studied in all secular universities and under people who didn’t believe in what I believed. And being a tongue speaking Pentecostal, it’s not really sophisticated when you’re in grad school, but you know, ‘hold to the historical orthodox doctrines of Calvinism’, you know, appealed to me more. I’m not critiquing Calvinists, but I’m just talking about me, my experience…”
[1:02:00] Michael Brown: “…In His name we go and preach and heal. Why should we question whether this is God moving around the world. To me, we should be rejoicing, and if we see error, then we step in to help. And last thing, in John 5, Jesus heals the lame man, 38 years lame, right? And He tells him, ‘take up your mat and walk.’ It’s the Sabbath, so obviously Jesus did this intentionally, right? Just like in John 9, where He heals the blind man violates what where apparently Jewish traditions of the day, a couple of them. So when the religious leaders see the man, they’ve known him cripple for years right? What’s the first question they ask him? ‘Who told you to pick up the mat?’
That to me is the mentality of constructive criticism, and of dead religious tradition. Instead of saying, ‘whoa, what happened? You’re healed, what happened? By the way you shouldn’t carry that mat, you should put it down.’ Instead they didn’t ask about the healing, they wanted to know who told you to carry your mat.
And I think sometimes we can have that tendency that because something violates my style, the same thing when the disciples come to Jesus to say, ‘there’s a man driving out demons in your name, but he’s not one of us. Do we shut him down?’ Jesus said, ‘no, you can’t work a miracle in my name, and the next minuet be against me.’
So I think sometimes we, and Charismatics do it the same way, we can be so narrow, that if it’s not exactly the way we’re used to doing it, then we reject it. I think we should rejoice and say, ‘isn’t the Lord wonderful, let’s be Berean. If this is the Lord, wonderful, but we’ll study and be sure.’
[1:03:40] But another last thing, I do believe, because we use terms ‘apostles’, ‘prophets’, I should have said this right at the outset. There are potential abuses with that, in terms of either authority, or lording it over people. When they are using it as just part of the [?] it’s no different than ‘pastor’, or ‘teacher’, or ‘evangelist’. It’s just part of a descriptive term, and we don’t see them as ‘lording’ it over people, then it’s great. It gives different aspects to the different ways God uses people today.
But if someone things ‘apostle’ means I have New Testament apostolic authority. Big, big, dangerous red flag. If someone thinks that I’m ‘prophet’ that I can now tell you the will of God, big dangerous red flags. So yes, in those circles where those titles exist, there’s more possibility of abuse in those ways… It’s certainly not part of the mainstream.”[1:04:37]
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