It’s one thing for someone to be misinformed and state something incorrectly. It’s another to claim to be an expert or publicly portray themselves as one who knows Christianity – while claiming they are Pentecostal or Charismatic when they clearly are not. Michael Brown is such a person, claiming he is a ‘Charismatic Pentecostal’ while advancing the agenda of the dangerous New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) cult.
After being trounced in a discussion with Holly Pivec and Prof. Doug Geivett, Michael Brown went into damage control in a recent radio show, engaging in ad hominem attack and anecdotal pushback. In the midst of the trashing of his critics, Brown asked an interesting question.
He opened with the bold claim that he believed in the ongoing fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers today. He then posed a rhetorical question – does this confession means he is part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).
That is a great question. Does believing in the 5 Fold ministry make you a part of the NAR? The answer to the question is simple:
By Michael Brown claiming he believes in the fivefold ministry, Brown is confessing that he is part of the NAR and is pushing on Christians their new apostolic paradigm. Leaders and apostles labelled the global movement who were embracing the fivefold ministry as the ‘new apostolic paradigm’. C. Peter Wagner called this movement the New Apostolic Reformation. He and Pablo Deiros observed that those who embraced the new apostolic paradigm were part of the NAR, reforming the church to become part of this ‘New Wine church’:
As we explore Brown’s question by looking at Pentecostalism, the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR), the Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM) and the NAR, it becomes evident that Brown’s theology is not Charismatic or Pentecostal but 100% NARismatic. To see this plainly, all we need to do is look at what Pentecostals, Latter Rainers, Charismatics and NARismatics believe. By simply analysing their titles and what they meant, it becomes clear Brown theologically fits clearly in the NAR camp.
Understanding ‘Latter Rain’ in the New Order of the Latter Rain
Just like Mormonism and Jehovah Witness cults, the Azusa cult and the New Order of the Latter Rain are full-blown restorationist cults.
With the leaders of the NOLR movement being influenced by William Branham and implementing the teachings of Franklin Hall, a revival was ‘birthed’ coincidentally around the same time Israel was restored as a nation in 1948.
They believed God was giving them a sign that the end was near with this revival, interpreting this from Joel 2:23. The Early Rain being the Holy Spirit being poured out on Pentecost in the first century and the Latter Rain being poured out in 1948 in the last century before Christ’s return:
“Be glad, O children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given the early rain for your vindication; he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the latter rain, as before.” Joel 2:23
This ‘Latter Rain’ outpouring attempted to “call a solemn assembly” to “gather the people” to “consecrate a fast” (Joel 2:15). Because of their fixation on the details of Joel 2, this movement was recognized by their fasting, prayer and chaotic worship services that had people spontaneously prophesying (thus giving the impression God was in their meetings bringing this end-times revival). This ‘Latter Rain’ was to be poured out to create a “a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations” (Joel 2:2), “for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near” (Joel 2:1).
This people is known as ‘Joel’s Army’. This army has two forms.
First form: Joel 2:12-17
Second form: Joel 2:1-11
According to Joel 2:12–17, the NOLR believed that they were in training (prayer and fasting) awaiting for the true church to emerge as the Joel’s Army of transformation (Joel 2:1–11) to then subdue the nations. The outpouring of this Latter Rain was to manifest the true sons of God (Manifest Sons of God – aka New Breed) and to manifest the true church (Man Child Company – aka One New Man):
“The Latter Rain is God’s great end-time ministry. The Latter Rain is the Restoration of the Church and the Harvest of souls, the gathering together of His people to be God’s Kingdom on earth.
The Latter Rain is the promise given to us in the last days for the outpouring of the Holy Ghost…”
Source: Jay Atkinson, The Latter Rain Page, The Latter Rain, http://www.latter-rain.com/, Accessed January 07, 2017. [Archive]
Understanding the ‘New’ in the New Order of the Latter Rain
Because they believed God was doing something ‘new’ through this outpouring, the NOLR used Isaiah 43 to justify what radical developments were happening politically in Israel and spiritually in the church:
“Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?” Isaiah 43:18-19
Specifically they believed their movement was receiving new revelation regarding a new order to birth the new end-time church. NOLR Elder and Apostle Jim Watt recalled that in 1948 that “God clearly indicated that He was about to do a new thing, referring to Isaiah 43″ in the NOLR:
“In February of 1948 God clearly indicated that He was about to do a new thing, referring to Isaiah 43.” [Archived]
So what was this new thing?
Understanding the ‘New Order’ in the New Order of the Latter Rain
This ‘Latter Rain’ outpouring of new revelation gave rise to the NOLR pushing the idea that God was restoring the true ‘New Order’ of Apostles and Prophets to the church. What the NOLR called the ‘ascension gifts’ is what the NAR call the ‘Fivefold Ministry’.
The rise of these Apostles and Prophets were calling out Christians from ‘Babylon’ (Christian denominations) to be part of God’s true church (evident in Branhams’ ‘Voice of Healing’ publication). Signs and wonders were to accompany these ‘true’ ministries and true message of these new apostles and prophets, their gospel announcing that healing, prosperity and wholeness was in the atonement (this gave birth to the Voice of Healing Movement – VHM – in the 1950s).
These apostles and prophets had huge influence in manufacturing the Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM) through their apostolic networks, specifically Demos Shakarian’s ‘Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International (FGBMFI) apostolic network. (John Osteen, TL Osborne, Oral Roberts, Morris Cerullo, Walter Healy, Paul Cain, Bill Hamon, Tommy Hicks, etc.)
We turn your attention to the CRM.
Understanding ‘Charisma’ and ‘Renewal’ in the Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM)
When the NOLR were condemned by Pentecostalism in 1949, key NOLR deviants mainstreamed the idea that God is renewing spiritual gifts to the church. This gave birth to the Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM). Today, a Charismatic is still someone who believes that God was renewing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Their entire doctrine is based on their movements name ‘charisma’ (xárisma) which means “grace-gift”. Thus they advocated that God was RENEWING the spiritual gifts (including prophecy) in His true church, (outlined in 1 Corinthians 12). Unfortunately the majority of Charismatics are ignorant of their history being man-made from the NOLR, they assume their entire movement is God-orchestrated.
The Charismatic movement distinguished themselves from Pentecostalism and Pentecostalism also condemned the CRM. A good example of the hostility between Pentecostalism and the ‘New Move’ (as the CRM was also called), was the fight between the Australian Pentecostal AOG denomination and how the Charismatic Movement tried to usurp the Australian AOG.
A Charismatic Pentecostal?
This is where it is impossible for one to claim to be a Charismatic Pentecostal. Pentecostalism never claimed that when one was born again one was to speak in a spiritual language. When we look at the extreme fringe Azusa cult, they never claimed to speak in a spiritual language, they claimed those in their meetings spoke in a known foreign language.
However, with the disturbing doctrines and spiritual experiences of the NOLR emerging, they somehow concluded that those who had supernatural encounters with the ‘Holy Spirit’ were speaking in unknown or heavenly languages in their worship experiences and that is what Charismatics also believe. Again, neither Pentecostalism or even the extremist Azusa cult advocated this teaching.
Furthermore, Pentecostalism rejects the ‘gifts of the spirit’. Even NARismatics and Charismatics have written about this (‘The Apostolic Revolution’, Cartledge). Cartledge and Wagner have gone so far as to label the AOG and Pentecostalism as ‘Pentecostal Cessationists’ for rejecting ‘charisma’.
So for Michael Brown to claim he is a Charismatic Pentecostal makes no sense. You are either a Pentecostal or a Charismatic. For him to claim he is both demonstrates his ignorance of his history, his ignorance of his confessed theology and revealing he is unfit to be a voice for any form of Christianity – either that or he knows he is NAR and is using this title as a smokescreen.
The fact is this – Brown was aware of Pentecostal, Charismatic and NARismatic differences back in the year 2000 when he was excommunicated from his Brownsville Revival School of Ministry at the Brownsville AOG. The rift was major enough for Pentecostal leaders to call him out and for Brown to engage in dirty semantics and politics to keep pushing Latter Rain doctrines and the new apostolic paradigm and the New Apostles of the NAR at Brownsville. In fact, Brown claimed to have worked with NARpostle Che Ahn, NARpostle Lou Engle and NARpostle C. Peter Wagner at ‘The Call’.
So why were NARpostles embracing Brown but not Pentecostals if Brown was truly a ‘Pentecostal Charismatic’?
Understanding ‘New’ in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)
Going on their titles alone, it is easy to know the difference between a Charismatic and a NARismatic. One believes in the renewed gifts (Charismatics), the other believes in the restored five-fold offices (what we call NARismatics). If you embrace the belief that the office of apostle and prophet are restored for the end-times church (thus believing in the five-fold ministry), you have embraced the ‘new apostolic paradigm‘. And if you believe in the new apostolic paradigm, whether you like it or not, this makes you part of the New Apostolic Reformation. Wagner and many apostles/leaders within the NAR have made this very clear, observing that many churches and people around the world embrace this belief and therefore part of the global phenomena.
We now examine as to why Wagner actually called what he observed the NAR.
This is why it was “New”:
“”New” modifies both “apostolic” and “reformation. […] It could be argued, although it should not be overstressed, that what is taking place today is a new reflection of the apostolic nature of the first three centuries of the Church. […] The adjective “new” is also intended to distinguish what is happening today from such older movements,, which might be seen as “old” apostolic movements.”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, ChurchQuake!, (CA, USA: Regal Books, 1999), pg. 37.
This clearly emphasizes that the NAR is a restorationist cult – it’s no different to the NOLR.
Understanding ‘Apostolic’ in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)
Wagner explains why he called it ‘Apostolic’,
“The first time I saw the term “apostolic” used in this context was in an issue of NetFax published by the Leadership Network of Tyler, Texas, on September 4, 1995. It spoke of “The New Apostolic Paradigm.” I filed it because I was experimenting with another name at the time. At about the same time, I had come into contact with Ed Delph of Phoenix, Arizona, who was pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship and who had started an organization called N.A.T.I.O.N.S. (Networking Apostolic Thrust Internationally or Nationally). I heard Ed Calling the churches with which he was relating “apostolic churches.”
One of the reasons why I hesitated using Ed’s term was the overtone of “apostolic” was that the New Testament gift and office of apostle might be active in some churches today. A large number of these new churches would have gladly affirmed that. I thought, however, that, at the same time, it might have excluded many significant churches of that nature such as Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek Community Church, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Valley Community Church, Walt Kallestad’s Community Church of Joy, John Ed Mathison’s Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church and many others.”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, ChurchQuake!, (CA, USA: Regal Books, 1999), pg. 35
Wagner decided to use the term after reading George Hunter’s book ‘Church for the Unchurched’. In this book, Wagner claimed Hunter identified the same churches Wagner did and labelled them “apostolic congregations.” Wagner then “decided to use the term as well” (pg. 35).
This was because they clearly believed in the idea of fivefold ministry. Wagner and all those in the NAR were attempting to reform Christianity with this ‘New Apostolic Paradigm‘ (or ‘new paradigm shift’ as we heard it in Hillsong), which was converting Christian churches into having “apostolic congregations.” And what is this ‘apostolic paradigm’?
Just like Wagner, NARpostle Joseph Matter also claims this “emerging apostolic paradigm” IS “the present embrace of the fivefold ministry.”
In his article, (‘The NAR and the Restoration of Apostolic Ministry Today’), Mattera claims:
“I believe that the present embrace of the fivefold ministry of the evangelical pastors in the USA is going to bring a convergence between the charismatic, independent apostolic networks, evangelical networks and ultimately even evangelical Bible-confessing denominations.” [Source]
Later Mattera says,
“God said that the fivefold ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11 will continue until we all come to the unity of the faith (see Eph. 4:11-16 for the whole context).” [Source]
In other words, if you embrace and believe Eph 4:11, you are embracing the New Apostolic Paradigm – which means you’ve been converted to the New Apostolic Reformation.
Now look at what Wagner means by ‘Reformation’.
Understanding ‘Reformation’ in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)
Wagner claims that a month before he received Hunter’s book, he read Lyle Schaller’s book, ‘The New Reformation’. Wagner reports Schaller saying,
“I was focussing on the renewal of the old, and failed to see that a new reformation in American Christianity was underway.”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, ChurchQuake!, (CA, USA: Regal Books, 1999), pg. 36
Wagner stated this helped him decide to use the word ‘Reformation’ and reassured this word was correct after reading the following quote from his mentor, Donald Miller:
“I believe we are witnessing a second reformation that is transforming the way Christianity will be experienced in the new millennium.”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, ChurchQuake!, (CA, USA: Regal Books, 1999), pg. 36
Wagner went on state that this movement he was observing was “a reformation of practice” (pg. 36) and a reformation “against irrelevance (pg. 37). But what was irrelevant?
Churches not embracing the New Apostolic paradigm of the Fivefold ministry.
Wagner highlights this is as the major problem the NAR sees in its ‘reformation’ – convincing Christianity to embrace this apostolic paradigm:
“Recognizing the New Testament office of Apostle is alive and well in churches today is the biggest leap with which many readers of this book will be confronted. Of all the differences between new apostolic churches and traditional Protestant churches, this, I believe, is the most radical. I will not say much more here, but I will develop the subject in detail in chapter 5, “Five Crucial Questions About Apostolic Ministry.”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, ChurchQuake!, (CA, USA: Regal Books, 1999), pg. 46
Joseph Mattera highlights the biggest leap churches will take if they reform under this ‘Apostolic paradigm’:
“The church will go from being pastorally led to apostolically led and prophetically inspired.” [Source]
Wagner goes on to explain the name by answering questions if there are apostles today. In the process of explaining this apostolic reformation, he separates his movement from the rest of Christianity by claiming they reject this reformation not “from biblical exegesis, but rather from entrenched ecclesiastical traditions.” You will notice he lumps Pentecostalism in the same bucket:
“Some have marginalized the office of apostle through what could be interpreted as a form of benign neglect. An example is the Assemblies of God in the U.S.A Article VII of their bylaws reads as follows: “Section 1. Ministry Described. Christ’s gifts to the Church include apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11), exhorters, administrators, leaders, and helpers (Romans 12:7,8). We understand God’s call to these ministry gifts is totally within His sovereign discretion without regard to gender, race, disability, or national origin.”
In practice, the Assemblies of God recognizes leaders having the title “Pastor So-and-so,” “Evangelist So-and-so,” “Doctor or Professor So-and-so,” but not “Prophet So-and-so,” or “Apostle So-and-so.” The choice that has been made, not only by Assemblies of God, but by the great majority of other traditional denominations as well, to recognize evangelists, pastors and teachers, but not to recognize apostles and prophets does not derive from biblical exegesis, but rather from entrenched ecclesiastical traditions.”
Source: C. Peter Wagner, ChurchQuake!, (CA, USA: Regal Books, 1999), pg. 109
Again it boils down to Christianity embracing or rejecting the New Apostolic Paradigm of the fivefold ministry in Ephesians 4:11. Chris Rosebrough from Fighting for the Faith, refuted C. Peter Wagner’s ‘New Apostolic Paradigm’, exposing the theological deception of the Fivefold ministry.
Remember – if you reject this New Apostolic Paradigm, those in the NAR label you as an ‘Old Wineskin’. But if you embrace this New Apostolic Paradigm, you are a part of this ‘New Wineskin’ – this New Apostolic Reformation.
In many ways, C. Peter Wagner could have named his movement the ‘New Order of the Latter Rain’. Their theology is practically identical. Nevertheless, Michael Brown confesses to believing the New Apostolic Paradigm of the fivefold ministry in Ephesians 4:11.
What is more incriminating against Brown is the fact he has been reforming Old Wineskin churches to embrace the New Wineskin churches. Back in 2003, Michael Brown gave a sermon titled ‘The Next Wave: A Revival Revolution‘.
Chris Rosebrough reviewed this sermon where Brown gave the impression he was an apostle, receiving direct revelation and strategy for his church. Apparently God spoke to Michael Brown about a “revival revolution.” Brown claims that this new wave of revival will bring “an understanding that there must be New Wine skins.” There were seven characteristics of this ‘wave/revival/revolution’.
This was the sixth characteristic:
“New Wine Skins have been prepared for the New Wine. And New Wine there will be.”
These concepts and theologies do not reflect a man who is schooled in Charismatic or Pentecostal thought. Instead, Brown reinforces yet again he has been deceitful about his NARpostleship and involvement in the NAR. If he believed in the renewed gifts he would be a Charismatic. But he believes more than that – Brown is very evangelical about his belief in the restored Five-fold ministry. He believes in the New Wineskin church that Wagner specifically claims is the New Apostolic Reformation church.
What Brown confesses makes him a NARismatic – not a Charismatic and not even remotely a Pentecostal. Brown is hiding his involvement in the NAR in ‘plain site’. The fact he is so openly confesses to the 5FM shows he is promoting the NAR, pushing this pagan reformation on his gullible global Christian audience. The only thing he is hiding is his office and his involvement by claiming to be a Charismatic Pentecostal.
He is an NAR wolf hiding in Charismatic/Pentecostal sheep clothing.
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