Downplaying the devil in the NAR.

Holly Pivec from ‘Spirit Of Error’ writes in her latest article –

“In a recent article published by the Gospel Coalition in Australia, pastor Stephen Tan, of Regeneration Church in Melbourne, shares his concerns about an upcoming conference called Awakening Australia, and especially about the teachings of the conference’s headline speaker: Bill Johnson, the leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California. I agree with several things Tan writes, and with one thing in particular. He writes: “Johnson encourages Christians to stop focusing on ‘our need to protect ourselves from deception’ and instead ‘our hunger for Him must be seen in our lustful pursuit of spiritual gifts.’”

Tan is right to draw attention to Johnson’s downplaying of discernment. But Bill Johnson isn’t the only one to do so.  The idea that Christians should stop worrying about being deceived — and enthusiastically embrace all manifestations of the miraculous — is common in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). It’s so common that NAR leaders have developed a catch phrase they often tell their followers: “You should trust God’s ability to protect you from being deceived more than you trust Satan’s ability to deceive you.”  And they sometimes tell people, if they just pray and ask God to protect them from being deceived, they don’t have to worry about Satan. They can then embrace all supernatural experiences with gusto. Here are some examples of this teaching by three influential NAR leaders.

From the “apostle” Bill Johnson: “While few would admit it, the attitude of the Church in recent days has been, ‘If I’m uncomfortable with something, it must not be from God.’ This attitude has given rise to many self-appointed watchdogs who poison the Church with their own fears. Hunger for God then gives way to fear of deception. What do I trust most, my ability to be deceived or His ability to keep me? And why do you think He gave us the Comforter? He knew His ways would make us uncomfortable first.” (When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles, chapter 7)

From the “prophet” James Goll: “Entire segments of the Body of Christ live in fear of being deceived or led astray by supernatural experiences. Even though there have been excesses and abuses, we have no reason to write off these revelatory encounters. God still speaks today! He does speak to us through visions, dreams, and angelic visitations. There is no reason to fear these spiritual experiences. God is capable of protecting His people from deception and misuse.” (The Seer: The Prophetic Power of Dreams, Visions, and Open Heavens, introduction to Section Two).

From the “apostle/prophet” Bill Hamon: “If we are reluctant to practice the [miraculous] gifts ourselves because we fear that we may be drawing on satan’s [sic1] power rather than God’s, we should simply commit our ministry to God in prayer, asking His Spirit to minister through us and binding any other spirit from doing so. Then we must minister in faith that God has indeed answered our prayer…. The same is true of those who desire to be used in the prophetic ministry. If they commit their ministry each time to the Lord, asking for the Holy Spirit to speak through them and binding any other spirit from doing so, then they can rest in a confidence that God will not allow the devil to use them instead.” (Prophets and the Prophetic Movement, chapter 10)

But the idea that Christians need not worry about Satan deceiving them directly contradicts the teachings of Scripture. And the promise that their protection is guaranteed — by simply saying a prayer prior to prophesying or practicing other miraculous gifts — is very naive.

It’s true that God is much more powerful than Satan. Christ defeated Satan at the cross. Thus we, too, will have ultimate victory over him. But, at the same time, we’re presently engaged in an intense spiritual battle. Scripture gives multiple, sober warnings about the need to be on guard against Satan and his schemes. These warnings are addressed to believers — so no one is exempt from his attacks.

He’s described as an enemy and as a roaring lion, hunting for hapless victims to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He’s also crafty. He disguises himself very effectively so people actually mistake him for an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). One of the ways he deceives people is through false apostles, who pose as true apostles of Christ and bring false teachings into the church (2 Corinthians 11:1-15). Another tool of his deception is supernatural power: he empowers his ministers to perform “lying” miraculous signs and wonders that mislead others (Matthew 7:21-232 Thessalonians 2:9-10).

Given the repeated, serious warnings in Scripture, why would NAR leaders downplay the devil and dangers of being deceived by him? Such warnings should be taken especially seriously in NARcontexts where church leaders claim to be apostles and to possess extraordinary miraculous powers. So why aren’t they?


Holly Pivec co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

Source: Holly Pivec, ‘Spirit Of Error’ blog,, Published Sept 23, 2018. (Accessed Sept 25, 2018.)

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