The New Apostolic Reformation and their ‘powerless placebo’.

With thanks to Holly Pivec for her insightful article in regards to the response to COVID-19 by the New Apostolic Reformation leaders. Holly states:

“The responses I highlighted above don’t include every NAR leader and organization. But they do provide a sampling from key players. When you look at the responses of others, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see similar themes: that Satan is attempting to put an end to the coming revival the prophets and apostles have been prophesying and that their followers must make decrees to put an end to the virus.”

Holly Pivec is the 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.

Holly writes:

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve been wondering how New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) leaders and their churches have been responding.

It’s interesting that, despite their alleged miraculous powers, the movement’s apostles and prophets didn’t predict coronavirus and they haven’t been able to stop it. But after examining their responses to the virus, I’ve noticed that many boil down to this: They claim that “prophetic proclamation” — especially the proclamation of Psalm 91 — is the key to breaking the grip of coronavirus and launching a worldwide revival.  This type of prophetic proclamation is also called making a “decree” or a “declaration.” The theological idea behind it is that God’s children have the authority to create or alter reality through their spoken words, similar to the way God created in Genesis 1.

Let me show you what I mean. Below I highlight the responses of some influential NAR players and one notable NAR church.

What NAR Leaders Are Saying and Doing

Bethel Church in Redding, California, is probably the most influential NAR church in the nation. In response to coronavirus, the church canceled its in-person services and is holding them online. During last Sunday’s online service (March 15), viewers were led in the recitation of several spoken “declarations” before the offering was received, which included the following declaration, “Everywhere I go becomes a perfect-health zone.”

Despite their declaration of “perfect health,” the church has instructed students enrolled in its Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry to refrain from visiting the local hospitals where they often attempt to heal people. A local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, pointed out the irony of the church’s prohibition in an article stating, “Big ‘faith-healing’ CA church not immune to coronavirus fears.”

Bill Johnson, the senior leader of Bethel Church, preached last Sunday (March 15) from Psalm 91 — a favorite psalm of many in NAR, especially during this coronavirus outbreak. They erroneously interpret it as promising that believers will not be victims of any pestilence or plague. During Johnson’s sermon about the psalm, he taught that when believers make decrees — including decrees against plagues (as implied in his larger sermon) — those decrees become angels’ assignments to carry out. He also stated that God’s solution to this pandemic is “supposed to be the ignition point for a massive healing and revival unlike the world has ever seen.” At the conclusion of the service, he led his online viewers in taking communion, an act he said would result in a “prophetic release of power” for the church, its families, and the nations of the world. (Bethel Church leaders teach that taking communion releases power for miracles, including healing from diseases like coronavirus.) Johnson said Bethel Church is in the process of setting up its technology so that people with coronavirus from around the world can call or FaceTime with church volunteers and receive “prayers” (i.e., decrees) for their healing.

Shawn Bolz, a pastor, prophetic minister and author, gave a prophecy about coronavirus that appeared to miss the mark big time: “The Lord showed me the end of the Coronavirus … the tide is turning now!” That was three weeks ago (on Feb. 28, 2020) while Bolz was speaking at an event in South Africa with Bethel Church apostle Bill Johnson. He also told Fox News, “It’s not going to be the pandemic that people are afraid of.” Less than two weeks later, the World Health Organization confirmed coronavirus to be a pandemic. Since then, the number of cases and the death toll have skyrocketed.

The International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC), continues to livestream the 24/7 prayer with worship held in their Global Prayer Room. These sessions have run nonstop since 1999. IHOPKC founder Mike Bickle believes the organization has been given a mandate directly from God to maintain around-the-clock, non-stop prayer until the Lord’s return. Indeed, he teaches that 24/7 prayer is crucial to the fulfillment of God’s end-time plans for the world. To that end, IHOPKC is implementing practical and technological solutions to keep the prayer room and webstream going without interruption while complying with the social distancing and event limitations currently required by the government. IHOPKC leaders also announced that the Global Prayer Room is going to dedicate a 30-minute session daily to “contending against” (including making decrees against) the virus and praying for healing and revival.

Notably, Bickle suggests that IHOPKC was prepared for coronavirus in advance through a prophetic warning given by Lou Engle (a prophet in NAR). During a recent panel discussion with other IHOPKC leaders, Bickle said that, two years ago, in 2018, Engle told him that IHOPKC should take part in a 40-day fast to be held in the spring of 2020. Bickle thought, “What are you talking about?” He said Engle told him there had been a series of prophetic dreams indicating that the spring of 2020 would be a key time. So Bickle agreed to promote Engle’s “Jesus Fast” on March 1 through April 9. Several hundred thousand people were taking part in the fast when coronavirus hit, according to Bickle. He now sees the timing of Engle’s fast as indicating that the prophecy truly came from God. He believes it shows that God — in mobilizing Christians around the world to fast — already had a solution for coronavirus before it even made the headlines. “What’s the chances of that?” Bickle said. “In the human arena, it’s one-in-a-million chance he [Lou] could hit that. In the heavenly arena, it’s one for one. It’s an absolute, perfect bulls-eye hit.” During the same panel discussion, Bickle called the virus “a plan in the kingdom of darkness against the body of Christ.” He said the “enemy [Satan] wants to stop” the 20 stadium events Christians [including Engle] had planned this year in America.

Cindy Jacobs, viewed as a prophet to the nations by many in NAR, has called on Christians to “pray Psalm 91 over your families and nations” and to “make a decree that the coronavirus will cease worldwide, and that God will heal all who are currently affected by it.” According to Jacobs, many prophets are in agreement that a great, worldwide spiritual “awakening” is coming and demonic forces are using coronavirus to delay or disrupt the coming revival. She called on believers to pray that this will not happen. “God wants this season to turn into a catalyst of revival instead of contagion,” she said.

Doug Addison — an author, dream interpreter, and prophet commissioned by the influential apostle Che Ahn — claims God revealed to him that the coronavirus is a “direct attack” against the coming revival that many of today’s prophets have foretold. Addison said, “The enemy is trying to prevent public meetings and cause fear of coming together.” But he told his followers not to fear because, as of March 8, “God has already released the solution and  cure… This is a temporary storm that will indeed blow over, and it will usher in a coming move of God.” Like other NAR leaders, he has advised his followers to decree Psalm 91:7: A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it [plague] will not come near you.”

A Powerless Placebo

The responses I highlighted above don’t include every NAR leader and organization. But they do provide a sampling from key players. When you look at the responses of others, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see similar themes: that Satan is attempting to put an end to the coming revival the prophets and apostles have been prophesying and that their followers must make decrees to put an end to the virus.

Of course, their teachings are contingent on the notion that God has promised a great, end-time revival under the leadership of present-day apostles and prophets. They’re also contingent on the idea that Christians have been given the authority to alter reality with their spoken words. If those beliefs can’t be supported in Scripture — and I don’t think they can be —  then the NAR response to coronavirus is a powerless placebo offering false hope.

Source: Holly Pivec, ‘Spirit of Error’ blog, Published March 21, 2020. (Accessed March 21, 2020.)

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