‘Blindsided’ by Bethel – the ‘Unplanned’ influence of the New Apostolic Reformation on a box office success.

Another great post from Holly Pivec’s blog ‘Spirit Of Error’. Holly is an evangelical researcher of cults, sects, and new religious groups, such as the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ movement. Her very discerning eye noted a strong New Apostolic Reformation ‘influence’ as she watched a preview of the movie ‘Unplanned’ which dramatizes the true story told by former clinic director for Planned Parenthood, Abby Johnson.

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.

“The bottom line is that efforts have been underway to normalize the NAR – despite its aberrant teachings and practices. This film – as powerful and important as it is – will further the normalization. Make no mistake: the decision to include Vallotton in the film was not merely accidental or coincidental. Nothing is accidental on the set of a major film: everything – every prop, every line, every actor – is given careful consideration and planning. And the markings of NAR can be found throughout the film.”


 

 

Holly Pivec writes:

On March 29, the film Unplanned debuted in packed theaters across the United States. It took fourth place at the box office for two weekends in a row, grossing nearly $12.5 million. Unplanned dramatizes a true story told by Abby Johnson, a former clinic director for Planned Parenthood. Johnson left the organization after observing, firsthand, the horrors of abortion and the booming business built around it.

I attended one of the showings and, along with the rest of the audience, was deeply moved. It’s difficult to watch, but powerful. On the one hand, I wish everyone would see it. But on the other hand, I also feel the need to give a word of caution: there is a subtle, but real, presence and influence of the New Apostolic Reformation on this film. While it does an outstanding job exposing the atrocities of abortion, unfortunately, the film will also have a negative effect – the normalization of a theologically dangerous movement.

Blindsided by Bethel

Because I was completely absorbed in the movie, I was blindsided when, seemingly out of nowhere, Kris Vallotton appeared on the screen. For those who don’t know, Vallotton is the senior associate leader of Bethel Church in Redding, California, the most prominent church in the controversial New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). He’s also one of the most influential “prophets” in NAR, a rapidly growing movement of church leaders who claim to be modern-day prophets and apostles with extraordinary authority and supernatural powers. Simply put, I did not expect to encounter NAR when I went to the movie that evening.

Vallotton’s cameo comes during one of the movie’s scenes, when the character of Abby Johnson (played by Ashley Bratcher) is narrating the movie. She explains how she and her husband felt the need to bring some spirituality into their lives. Suddenly, they are shown sitting in a church, listening to a pastor preach about the God-given value of all human life, based on Psalm 139. Then we see the pastor, who is played by Vallotton.

I began wondering why, of all pastors in America, he was chosen to play the part. Was Vallotton actually the pastor who gave the message Abby heard on that day? If he was, why was he chosen to play himself, when actors were chosen to fill the other parts? Given his high-profile role at a controversial church, he seemed like an odd choice.

Some might think I’m making too much of Vallotton’s appearance. After all, I wholeheartedly agree with him about the value of human life. Some might wonder why – even though I disagree with Vallotton about other matters – can’t I partner with him in the fight against abortion.

But my concern here isn’t about partnering with people over the issue of abortion. My concern is that Vallotton’s appearance in the film – which has been a smashing success – will lend credibility to Vallotton, Bethel Church, and the larger NAR movement they’re part of. His appearance made me look for other signs of NAR influence on the film — of which there are many. Here are other NARfingerprints.

NAR fingerprints on Unplanned

    • One of the film’s co-producers is Fabiano Altamura, the co-founder and dean of Bethel Conservatory of the Arts at Vallotton’s Bethel Church.
    • Altamura also appears as an actor in the film along with Laura Hunt, a student from Bethel Conservatory of the Arts.
    • The movie’s soundtrack includes Bethel Music throughout.
    • Bethel Church had so much influence on the film that the film’s makers released a personalized trailer featuring a special “shoutout” to Bethel Church, delivered by the real Abby Johnson.
    • Pure Flix, the company who distributed the film, has, curiously, formed a “strategic alliance”with the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders, a global network of “apostles” promoting the New Apostolic Reformation.
    • The Unplanned website, on its front page, features an ad for a companion devotional that was made to accompany the movie. Titled Planned from the Start: A Healing Devotional, the book is endorsed by multiple NAR apostles, prophets, and teachers, including the apostle Kynan Bridges, the prophet Joshua Mills, and the “soaking worship music artist” Julie True. The devotional’s author, Lorraine Marie Varela, has written another book promoting NAR spiritual warfare practices, including the issuing of “prayer directives.”
    • Take note also that endorsements from all the NAR leaders named above appear on the Unplanned film website.
    • Lorraine Marie Varela, the devotional’s author (see above) co-led a prayer and ministry teamon the film set of Unplanned. Given her promotion of NAR spiritual warfare practices (explained above), one may, understandably, wonder if NAR teachings and practices undergirded the prayer she led on the set.

‘Nar’-malization of NAR

The bottom line is that efforts have been underway to normalize the NAR – despite its aberrant teachings and practices. This film – as powerful and important as it is – will further the normalization. Make no mistake: the decision to include Vallotton in the film was not merely accidental or coincidental. Nothing is accidental on the set of a major film: everything – every prop, every line, every actor – is given careful consideration and planning. And the markings of NAR can be found throughout the film. The decision to include Vallotton was very intentional; no doubt, it was made to promote him and the teachings of Bethel Church. After all, Vallotton is not only a high-ranking pastor of the church where one of the film’s co-producers (Altamura) works; he’s also Altamura’s prophet.

So, when you encourage your friends to watch Unplanned, as I have done, also give them a word of caution. Be aware of its NAR connections.

Source: Holly Pivec, Spirit of Error blog, http://www.spiritoferror.org/2019/04/the-unplanned-influence-of-the-new-apostolic-reformation-on-a-box-office-success/8214?fbclid=IwAR3uaYssU_doCDSF4ByDcyv4uEh6cqP7-NJV0L01rgUOEWnBq77ch3KeK6A Published April 7, 2019. (Accessed April 8, 2019.)


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