What is the New Apostolic Paradigm (aka Apostolic Paradigm, Paradigm Shift)?

[Update: The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) in Australia helped create Southern Cross College (now known as Alpha Crucis). The Dean of Alpha Crucis, Shane Clifton, openly talks about the NAR in Australia and the ‘New Apostolic Paradigm’. Clifton astutely observed the following:

“In 2001 the general presbytery of the Assemblies in [sic] God in the United States of America (AGUSA) issued a statement on apostles and prophets. The reason for this statement was the increasing circulation of new models of church governance similar to that proposed by Cartledge, and propogated by church growth theorist, Peter Wagner, in his series of books on the so-called “New Apostolic Paradigm.” It was a particular threat to the AGUSA, as the points of friction between headquarters at Springfield and the so-called “apostolic” movement tended to be with the larger “charismatic leadership” churches.”

Source: Shane Clifton, Churchquake, Publisher: Hotei Publishing, (Leiden, Netherlands: 2009), pg. 170.

It is important to note that the AGUSA were responsible for expelling Michael Brown from their fellowship in the year 2000, Brown admitting this was because he was advocating the New Apostolic Paradigm within that ‘denominational framework’. Clifton’s observation highlights the fight between NARpostles like Brown and Cartledge (advocating the new apostolic church governance paradigm) and the AOG Pentecostal Denomination.]


The term ‘apostolic paradigm’ came about in order to articulate a key doctrine in the New Apostolic Reformation. The term was coined by Loren B. Mead in his book ‘The Once and Future Church: Reinventing the Congregation for a New Mission Frontier’ (Alban Institute, 1991).

The Once and Future Church

Reinventing the Congregation? Yep. That’s called the New Apostolic Reformation.

Another similar term appeared in 1997 in a book titled ‘Reinventing American Protestantism’ by Don Miller, (Dr C. Peter Wagner’s mentor). Wagner writes,

“Donald Miller of the University of Southern California conducted an intensive three-year project of selected new apostolic churches. His book Reinventing American Protestantism (University of California Press) is the first book-length study of such churches.”

Source: C. Peter Wagner, Churchquake, Publisher: Regal Books, (Ventura, California, USA: 1999), pg. 42.

Reinventing American Protestantism

Reinventing Protestantism? Yep. That’s called the New Apostolic Reformation.

In a book titled ‘The Rising Revival’ (1998), NARpostles Wagner and Deiros talk openly about the New Apostolic Reformation and this new apostolic paradigm. While Wagner acknowledged Miller’s term, Deiros acknowledges Loren Mead’s term in this book. To start, we observe how Wagner writes about this new apostolic paradigm in ‘The Rising Revival’.


WAGNER AND THE NEW APOSTOLIC PARADIGM

In the first chapter Wagner talks quite openly about the New Apostolic Reformation phenomena. Halfway through the chapter, Wagner states the following:

“The new apostolic paradigm, prominent in Argentina signals the most radical change in the way of “doing church” since the Protestant Reformation.”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 18

So what is this ‘new apostolic paradigm’? Wagner explains what it is early in the opening chapter (emphasis ours):

“In 1980 the Holy Spirit began restoring the gift and office of prophet to the whole church. For many, this has been the most difficult step of all to embrace, and some are still resisting it. But at just about the time that traditionalists like me were beginning to understand and accept the ministry of prophets, the Holy Spirit took the next logical step. In 1990 He began to speak to the churches about the restoration of the gifts and office of apostle. This has brought to life the words of Ephesians 4:11, a chief verse on church government which says, “And (Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. We traditionalists have been used to individuals being recognized in the churches as evangelists, pastors, and teachers, but it has required a paradigm shift for us to admit that apostles and prophets appear in the very same biblical list.

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 16.

Wagner polarises those who are part of the New Apostolic Reformation (new wineskin church) and those in traditional Christianity (old wineskin church). Wagner hinged the entirety of the NAR based on the new paradigm shift of Ephesians 4:11, embracing the belief that apostles and prophets are restored offices in the church today. It was Wagner who drew the battle lines to distinguish the NAR from Christianity. 

What he says next to bolster the idea that apostles are among us should help people understand the difference between orthodox Christianity and the cult-like agenda of the NAR:

“Could it be that the restoration of the office and ministry of apostles is the final element in the preparation of the Body of Christ for the anticipated great outpouring of the Holy Spirit? It does seem we live in extraordinary times. We are in the midst of the greatest harvest of souls that the world has ever known; we have been witnessing more manifestations of supernatural power than in all of history, including the book of Acts; we have more unity of the Body of Christ than we have seen in 1600 years; and a higher percentage of humans are currently exposed to the message of the gospel than ever before. Finally Christians are able to see light at the end of the tunnel of the Great Commission. For the first time ever, it can be fulfilled within the lifetime of our generation!

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 16

At this point we need to stop and consider what Wagner attached to his understanding of apostles. These are end-times apostles that are preparing the body of Christ for what? “The anticipated great outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” This is unadulterated ‘New Order of the Latter Rain’ (NOLR) heresy. The proof that these are apostles is based on what? “We are in the midst of the greatest harvest of souls that the world has ever known.”

At the time of this writing and publication, the Brownsville Revival was occurring. So according to Wagner, revivals that Michael Brown was involved in were absolute proof that end-times apostles were now restored to the ‘true’ (new wineskin) church. If it wasn’t through this final restoration of apostles, there would not be this unity and the church reaching the ‘end of the tunnel of the Great Commission’.

But the question needs to be asked, WHY is this proof?

One of the reason why this apostolic paradigm is so popular is to do with the false spirit, false anthropology and false kingdom they claim to be spreading and advancing. When you hear the NAR claim they are advancing, extending or expanding the kingdom (or ‘enlarge’ your tents), they are not implying salvations. They are claiming they are literally advancing the ‘kingdom’ of God/heaven on earth. Taking misconstrued verses from the bible, they teach that ‘the kingdom is within’ but also that the kingdom is in ‘the Spirit’. Thus when the supernatural occur, when people are healed and ‘revival’ is happening, it means the kingdom is advancing and that very soon, “The kingdom of the world [will] become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever,” (Revelations 11:15).

In NAR Dominionist theology, apostles and prophets are key to exposing the god of this world, the principalities and powers and other forms of darkness thus driving them out of cities, regions, territories and exiling them so Christians can ‘advance the kingdom’. This is what Wagner means (above) as proof that apostles have been restored.

In spite of Wagner’s additions to his definition of ‘apostle’, these concepts need to be remembered when assessing who is part of the New Apostolic Reformation and who are its apostles. These ideas often float around those in the NAR.

Wagner continues (emphasis ours):

“God is also entrusting His people with equipment for engaging in and winning high-level battles of spiritual warfare that previous generations were not aware of, and perhaps were not ready for, since the biblical government of the Church (as set forth in the fivefold ministry of Ephesians 4:11) had not been reestablished.”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 16-17.

Due to what was happening in the Argentinian revivals throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Wagner observed the following regarding their successes:

THE APOSTOLIC ORDER

My third hypothesis as to why the revival fire in Argentina has burned far longer than in past revivals relates to the emergence of apostolic ministry and the office of apostle in the 1990s. I will not go into much detail here, because one of the best discussions of this in recent literature is found in the next chapter by Pablo Deiros.

The shift from the traditional Christendom paradigm to the new apostolic paradigm, prominent in Argentina, is bringing with it the most radical changes in the way of” doing church” since the Protestant Reformation. This shift is so new that even those who are at the forefront of the transition are still struggling to understand this enormous move of God, not only in Argentina, but on every continent of the world. In fact, many of those who are now fulfilling an apostolic function in the Church are hesitant to allow the term “apostle” to be applied to themselves, although others have accepted the designation. The ongoing, mature, apostolic covering of the Argentine revival distinguishes it from many of the more short-lived revivals. One of the closest parallels might be the Wesleyan revival beginning in the 1730s in which John Wesley, Charles Wesley and George Whitefield were recognized apostolic figures who gave direction and government to the movement, which was sustained for decades.”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 16-17.

So there it is – the New Apostolic Paradigm. If you believe in the New Apostolic Paradigm of the five-fold ministry in Ephesians 4:11, you are part of the New Apostolic Reformation. Although Wagner did not specifically mentioned the NAR by name, NARpostle Pablo A Deiros does also in his chapter.

Wagner claimed, “This shift is so new that even those who are at the forefront of the transition are still struggling to understand this enormous move of God, not only in Argentina, but on every continent of the world” (pg. 17).

Deiros says something similar (emphasis ours),

“Let’s raise the question once again: Is there a spiritual revival going on in Argentina today? Perhaps a better way of framing the question would be: Is there a revival going on in the world today? The present phenomenon of the globalization of the Church not only forces us to evaluate local phenomena adequately within their own space-time frame, but also within a global context. From this perspective, it is helpful to observe that, in spiritual and missiological terms, something unusual is indeed happening throughout the entire world today.”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 46-47.

In other words, both Wagner and Deiros are observing a global movement forcing on the church this paradigm shift. Like a rapist with its victim, they’re not taking ‘no’ for an answer and are forcing themselves on the body of Christ. This has been a central goal within the NOLR cult since its inception – their goal to lead the church (by advancing the kingdom) to achieve a ‘global awakening’, which all these modern-day apostles believe they are fulfilling.

We now look at what Deiros says about the new apostolic paradigm.


PABLO DEIROS AND THE NEW APOSTOLIC PARADIGM

Deiros writes,

“We may be able to find an interpretative key, not only to understand what revival is, but also to understand on a global level the direction of the extraordinary spiritual changes that are taking place. By doing this, we can better discern the powerful hand of God working through His people throughout the world, and specifically in Argentina.

The singular element I am referring to is the deep paradigm shift we are experiencing in the last years of the present millennium and into the beginning of the next one. This shift has generated enthusiasm and expectation in some, fear and uncertainty in others, and rejection and resistance in the rest. A look at the history of the Church will help us to better understand what is happening today in the world. Loren Mead, in his book The Once and Future Church, suggests a very interesting interpretative framework, which may help us understand the “birth pains” of the present time. According to him, the Western church has known only two dominant paradigms in its almost 2,000 years of life. And we now are living in the critical kairos of the transition between the second and a third paradigm.”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 46.

Deiros reports that Mead called the “first church model” the ‘Apostolic Paradigm’ and the second church model the “Christendom Paradigm” (under Constantine). However, Deiros now believes, “that in recent years a paradigmatic change of great significance is taking place on a global scale” (pg. 49). So what is this third church model?

Deiros writes,

THE NEW APOSTOLIC PARADIGM

I am convinced that we are moving toward a new paradigm which would deserve to be called a “New Apostolic Paradigm.” Some have called this phenomenon the New Apostolic Reformation. No matter what name we give it, it is evident we are talking about not only a new way of living as Christians, but also a new way of being the Church of Jesus Christ in the world.

For the purpose of understanding this, let us briefly change our historical approach. Traditionally, we have read history from the past to the present. In an apocalyptic time like the one in which we are living, and with a magnified eschaton, history must not be read from the past to the present but from the future to the present.

To be sure, there is a great eschatological expectation in our days. Many skeptics and historians consider this to be nothing but a recurring phenomenon that accompanies any transition from one century to another. Naturally this phenomenon would be intensified by a change of millennium. One way or another, and beyond any particular eschatological theory, clearly there is a great expectation regarding the telos and a very diffused consensus that we are nearing the “end times,” and that the return of the Lord is close at hand.

Assuming we are living in the end times, let us look at history from the future to the present. From this perspective, the Christendom Paradigm, which is deeply internalized in all the traditional expressions of Christianity, after so many centuries is in crisis. This is, I suppose, not because of human initiative but because of the redeeming intervention of God in preparation for the glorious return of Christ. The Lord comes to look for His Bride, for His Church, but He will not return to meet the “harem” that has been formed during the centuries in which the Christendom Paradigm ruled.

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 49-50.

Notice the continued ‘orthodox Christian’ trashing by this international movement. By rewriting history the way the New Order of the Latter Rain and New Apostolic Reformation have done, damning traditional churches and labelling them as dead, they are taking people’s eyes off the written word of God, (which anchors us on a biblical apostolic foundation), and conditions them to believe their paradigm is the future of the world that will usher Christ’s return, anchored on these new apostles.

This new paradigm in every way resents the Apostolic and Prophetic writings of the Old and New Testaments and is only upholding the assumption and great expectation of very superstitious, gullible people.

What NARpostles like Pablo Deiros continue to express is the destruction of traditional biblical Christianity so that they can invent their own religion with Christian sounding ideals:

“But it seems to me to be beyond question that the Christendom Paradigm is in a terminal condition, and that it deserves a decent burial. Several elements characteristic of this paradigm are notably declining, including denominationalism and its historical products. One would have to be blind not to see the constant numerical decline of denominational Christianity across the planet...”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 49-50.

No church has been blind to the decline of Christianity. But the church has been blind to the undermining tactics of this global movement that has done everything in its power to destroy the church as an institution and to make way for a ‘New Age’ movement that is governed by authoritative governing apostles and prophets.

Deiros writes,

“In the face of the decline of the Christendom Paradigm, a new way of doing Christianity is dawning. Because of its incipient character, we could speak about an “experimental Church,” or a Church that knows it is more a pilgrim than ever before, marching toward the future in search of a new identity. That is to say, it will be a Church that wants to continually hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, cso as to become involved with His mission immediately, through a process of incarnation and service.”

Source: Edited by C. Peter Wagner & Pablo Deiros, The Rising Revival, (Ventura, California: US, Renew Books: 1998), pg. 51.

The New Apostolic Reformation has made it very clear that “the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7) and that is up to the Apostles to “give heed to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches” (Revelations 2:29). That’s how the NAR is meant to move on, leaving the bible in the dust while they build on their future revelations of the church.

If the New Apostolic Reformation are building the church on the new apostolic paradigm of the fivefold ministry, then the gates of hell have prevailed against this false church and Christ is not in it. Why? Because on the revelation of this new apostolic paradigm of the fivefold ministry, this new church is NOT being built on the revelation of Jesus Christ and who Jesus is:

“Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:16-18

What is interesting in all this is that God of the Old Testament likens Abraham’s descendants being like the sands on the shore, while Christ is portrayed as the ‘smitten rock’ or ‘cornerstone’. If genuine Christian leaders are caught up in the NAR, they are essentially asking the church today to confess that the church is built on the sands of Abraham’s spiritual children and not on Christ the rock.

Finally, we take a few more snippets from Deira to demonstrate how there is no substance to the New Apostolic Reformation. To them it’s an ‘experiment’ – ‘a ship without an anchor’.


“EXPERIMENTAL MODELS

This experimental Church is emerging around the world, and at a tremendous speed. This includes Argentina. Churches of the new paradigm no longer want to conform to the Christendom model.” [pg. 51]


“An ever-increasing number of Christians recognize that the true mission of proclaiming the Kingdom begins in the local church and extends to the whole world, and that this is the task of every believer filled with the Holy Spirit. For many today, the conclusion that the Church is in mission seven days a week and 24 hours a day is a discovery of Copernican proportions.” [pg. 51-2]


“The New Apostolic Paradigm will be the last of its kind to emerge before the glorious return of Christ. ” [pg. 52]


“Under the New Apostolic Paradigm, churches understand that the missionary commitment requires a new priority of context over structure. The local church is no longer turned in on itself, but it is addressing the world and its needs. It is not so concerned with doctrine as it is about spreading the message of redemption. Very little emphasis is placed on cultivating prestige for the local church, but their energies have been redirected toward making the presence of the Kingdom a reality amidst human circumstances. The same church is not as interested in its political power as in its spiritual power. The agenda of activities now takes a back seat to obeying the will of God and committing to Him and His mission.” [pg. 52]


“The remaining question is whether it is possible or necessary for the whole Church to move away from the Christendom Paradigm to the New Apostolic Paradigm. Is it possible to affect a worldwide change from an attitude of maintenance to one of mission? Can we do that without losing forever everything we have till now venerated as secure and effective? These questions cannot be answered in other than a radical way-a way as radical as the way of Jesus’ cross. It has to be as radical as the wheat seed that dies to its structure and form to give way to something new, just as the old wineskin is put aside to allow the new wine to be poured into a new wineskin. ” [pg. 54]


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