Tom and TBC staff member Mark Dinsmore discuss: “Just what is the New Apostolic Reformation?”
In today’s program, Tom addresses the topic of The New Apostolic Reformation with TBC staff member Mark Dinsmore.
Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Our topic for today, as Gary mentioned, is the New Apostolic Reformation. Now, the title sounds impressive with terms like “apostolic” and “reformation,” but what does it all mean? Here to discuss that with me is TBC staff member, Mark Dinsmore, who does so many things here in the ministry that I could spend the entire program on his contributions to our publishing efforts, his design work for our book covers, newsletters, and of course his writing.
Mark, thanks for joining me today on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mark: Tom, it’s my pleasure. It is such a blessing. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being part of the ministry and carrying on the work of you and Dave.
Tom: Yeah, it is—it’s exciting. It’s a bit intimidating at times, as you’ve come to know. (Laughing).
Mark: No question about that. I’ve learned so much from both of you, and obviously, these things aren’t stopping. It just keeps coming down the pike.
The New Apostolic Reformation—that’s a phrase coined by C. Peter Wagner in the mid-1990s. Of course, he was the professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary for 30 years.
Tom: Yeah, mentor to Rick Warren. Actually helped him through his doctoral program. Also mentor to John Wimber and his signs and wonders course that John had had Fuller.
Mark: Right, which was part and parcel of the whole Vineyard movement…
Mark: Out of which a lot of the doctrines that we’re talking about today came from.
Tom: Well, again, NAR—New Apostolic Reformation—we’ll be using the term “NAR” to shorten it a bit. But, generally, what’s it all about?
Mark: Well, there are two words that could sum up some of the objectives of this. “Apostolic”…well, the first word would be “restoration,” which is related to “reformation.” They believe they are restoring the five-fold gifts, which include the offices of the Apostle and Prophet.
The second word would be “transformation.” They literally seek not just political transformation but spiritual transformation of individuals, the corporate body of Christ, and ultimately the entire globe.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And that may sound good. However, their methodology, their approach, to all this—would you consider it to be biblically sound?
Mark: (Chuckling) Well, that’s a good question. Unfortunately, it’s really no different than any other man-centered religion, which seeks to do the same. Catholicism has a hierarchy and a structure which seeks to dominate the world. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, even Islam.
Tom: Yeah. So we’re going to get to their goal, which is not something that’s hidden in closets or secret places, but this is right up front. Now, Mark, as you know, this is March, if you’re listening to us right now, and the article in The Berean Call, the title of it which I wrote was “They Claim to Speak for God.” Now, that’s a huge issue, and one of the things that I bring before the body of Christ—not just this…I would say the chief influence of this whole movement is upon charismatics and Pentecostals. So a conservative, evangelical Christian may be tuning into TBN and seeing one of these speakers, one of these leaders, religious teachers, would just turn it off immediately because of how bizarre, or how ludicrous what they’re saying is. But my concern in writing this article was that when the camera pulls back from the pulpit, you literally see thousands—thousands—3 or 4 thousand, almost each time in a church in which the leader is involved in all of this kind of stuff.
Now, I can’t believe...this is personal…I can’t believe as the camera pulls back that there aren’t some true believers in that—uninformed, led astray, yes, but saved by the blood of Christ. Now, my concern here, and this why we’re talking about this today and we’re going to—it’s a two-part series, we’ll pick up on it again next week—but my concern is that, you know, most conservative evangelicals would say, you know, if they get [Voice of the Martyrs], for example, and their heart would go out to the persecution that their brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering in places, you know, in Islamic countries, and so on.
But this is our home base, this is our home ground—I’m talking about the US here, and these people are not maybe suffering a kind of a martyrdom, and so on, but they are being seduced. They are being drawn away from the Word of God. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Tom: So that’s a concern that I have, so, let’s talk about, you know, a person who would have the gall—or, if you know Yiddish, the chutzpah to speak for God. What about that?
Mark: Well, Tom, that is really the crux of the matter is the emphasis on all things new—new revelation, new doctrines, the new thing that God is doing. And one of the root problems with the entire movement is they actually begin to elevate the teachings of man above the teachings of God and inventing things that are simply not in the written Word.
Tom: Right. And we could say, if somebody, among those thousands, if somebody watching TV, for example, would say, “Well, give me chapter and verse for that.” But there is a reason why the person speaking this won’t give them chapter and verse, and you alluded to it: Because it’s not there! But this is a new thing, they say, that God is doing…
Tom: …and it’s a new thing moving toward a goal that, the restoration, as you mentioned earlier, the restoration of prophets and apostles. And you’d say, “Well, you know, Scripture—there are apostles, and ‘apostle’ means that you’re a messenger, and so on.”
No, folks. When they’re talking about apostles and prophets, they’re talking about those who go beyond the prophets of the Old Testament, those who go beyond—in terms of an office, their teachings and so on—they supersede the authority of Scripture. Am I making that up? Or is that consistent with what your research has shown.
Mark: Well, no, you’re absolutely right, Tom. It’s kind of difficult to nail down exactly how one becomes an apostle or a prophet in the New Apostolic Reformation, except that they attend the same functions, they congregate together, authorities who speak and travel and write are eventually recognized…become a part of various apostolic and prophetic organizations. And they rise to the top as authorities whom people willingly follow.
Tom: Now, you know, I mentioned, if somebody catches one of these individuals, man or woman, they all minister under “Prophetess” or “Prophet” or whatever, but as you see this on TV, you say, “Well, that’s an anomaly. That’s just something that’s not very influential. These people are kooks,” and so on and so forth. Well, they may be, but what about their influence?
Mark: Well, they have incredible influence. They’ve come from an obscure fringe movement that some would have clearly identified as a cult ten—even twenty—years ago, to now a mainstream part of evangelicalism, particularly with regard to the political front, even. They have become a part of what you would call “the new Religious Right” in America, working to elect people that are in alignment with their theology in an effort to transform and capture what they believe is part of their mandate.
Tom: Right. Now, you mentioned forty years ago, but let’s go back even further than that. The Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God—I would say if you’re going to look for some beginnings to this, especially in the US, the Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, that development, which came out of Saskatchewan, Canada, you know, in the 1940s and so on, one of their so-called prophets, leaders, at least one who got the most fame, would be somebody like William Brannon, for example. And you can track Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God, Joel’s Army—in other words, folks, yes, as Mark said, this would be somewhat obscure at the beginning, but then you see it working its way through primarily the charismatic Pentecostal church, although the Assemblies of God back then condemned it as heresy. Nevertheless, it continued. And as it developed, it’s worked its way, as you mentioned earlier, Mark, through other organizations and—we’re going to talk about this a little later, but I think we need to underscore it now, with not just methodologies and techniques, but the goal, the objective, of this methodology and technique was dominionism. Now, speak to that a little bit, Mark.
Mark: Sure. Essentially, the Latter Rain Movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, believes that because Adam failed to carry out and fulfill the mandate given to him to subdue the earth, that that is now the task assigned to the church today. And they’re seeking to go about this through a couple of different ways. One is spiritual transformation, that believe in an awakening that is really difficult to distinguish from the New Age awakening. And if you look at the underpinnings, they are the same thing—an occult awakening, an enlightenment, a neo-gnosticism. So that is—that’s one facet, but in the…along this process, they also seek social and cultural transformation. One of their programs designed to do this is called The Seven Mountain Mandate. C. Peter Wagner adopted it—he didn’t invent it—but that concept actually came out of the seventies with Bill Bright and Warren Cunningham.
But the Latter Rain movement now embraces this Seven Mountain Mandate, which they literally mean to take over and transform seven mountains, or aspects, of our culture and our government.
Tom: Again, we started off…folks, I could say, “Well, give me chapter and verse for this.” But they can’t and they won’t. But they do have a technique, a methodology, basically a doctrine, that I would say, well, in their minds, avoids all of this. And that is the teaching which goes back through Word-Faith, as you mentioned, Latter Rain, Manifest Sons of God—it just goes back among these very experientially oriented groups, or movements.
And that would be the difference between rhema and logos. So, here’s the way it goes. They say these two terms are legitimately biblical, but the way they define it, and that’s the problem, which will explain itself as I conclude this, the rhema—they would refer to this where rhema is used (the Greek word, rhema)—where that is used, it has to do with hearing from God.
On the other hand, you have logos, which they say is that’s the written Word. So now you have God speaking to us, according to them, in two ways: through the rhema, hearing from God, and the logos. Now, in their development of that, the rhema (hearing from God) supersedes the logos. Because the logos are the old words of Scripture, but rhema, on the other hand, is hearing from God now.
And as you see these people promote these things—I don’t care if it’s Benny Hinn—I mean, we could go down a litany of these individuals who not only preach and teach this, but people are clinging to their every word, because “Oh, they’ve heard from God!” as opposed to the objective written Word of God.
Now, folks, rhema and logos—they’re used interchangeably. You cannot make that distinction. But here’s how it works for them. Once I begin pushing rhema, hearing from God, guess what? This is subjective. I’m hearing from God, and unless it’s an audible voice that everybody hears, which they claim they hear an audible voice sometimes, but not everybody does, so it’s incredibly subjective. Well, if someone’s been so-called hearing from God, and this—the Word of God now supersedes the written Word, I’m done. If I buy into that, there’s no way that I can challenge them; there’s no way I can be a Berean, “search the Scriptures daily, to see if these things are so.”
So, that is a methodology that is in place—you know, as I mentioned earlier, if you’ve got 4 or 5 thousand people in a church setting listening to these people, and you have true believers there, these true believers are up for grabs. They are vulnerable to whatever the so-called prophet or prophetess, apostle, and I don’t know what the female term (laughing)…
Tom: …apostlette? Right. They’re up for grabs. They have to go along with that. And that’s what we see as undergirding the development of this, because you can’t challenge it.
And certainly, if somebody just heard from God, I mean, what are you going to say?
And the problem is there’re going to be different views of our audience as they’re listening here, because I believe God can speak to your heart. But it’s not “Thus saith the Lord.” I don’t develop doctrine out of it.
The Scriptures, the canon of Scripture, is closed.
Tom: And that needs to be, because therefore we have God’s objective Word in which, as I said, we can be Bereans. Or, as Isaiah said, “To the law and the testimony. If they speak not according to this word (written word), there’s no light in them.
So that’s what is seducing, that’s what’s drawing, literally thousands and thousands of people in.
Now, Mark, as you were mentioning the development of this, “God is doing a new thing. He’s preparing people for the new times”—really, the New Age, okay? And it’s so close to that it’s incredible. But as God is preparing these people to do new things, for what reason? Because restoration is taking place. Not only do we restore the apostles and the prophets, but these people are going to take dominion over the world.
But, Mark. Speak about Joel’s Army, and would these be mature believers in the Lord who’ve been walking with the Lord for years and years? Is—would that be a major thrust of Joel’s Army?
Mark: (Chuckling) Well, that’s a good question. They do rely heavily on Joel 2, in particular, and Joel’s Army, which is really referred to as Lord’s army in that passage, they believe to be a band of on-fire believers empowered with the Holy Spirit, on fire for God, dread champions of the faith, able to do incredible supernatural signs and wonders, and thus rout out the enemies of God.
Mark: But, no, this isn’t a mature movement. This is a, largely a youth-oriented movement…
Tom: Exactly. Exactly. You know, and although it’s not the youth that are the leaders in this, okay? It’s, you know…
Mark: Well, sometimes they are.
Tom: Well, that’s true! And that’s what they’re promoting. But what I’m thinking about, you know, you mentioned C. Peter Wagner. I mean, we could go down the list of those who are…you know, Rick Joyner, I mean, we’re going to cover that maybe a little bit more in our next session—these individuals and their organizations, and so on. But that’s the idea.
And I’ve been exposed to a church in which they had the youth group, trying to get them to speak in tongues, and trying…There were some nonbelievers among the youth there, and they’re saying, “Now let’s all be quiet, and let’s see if we can hear from God.”
Tom: Talk about incredibly seductive, incredibly deceptive. It’s just huge. But it is supposedly the young generation that’s going to be the generation that God is going to use, and it’s going to bring about this—not only kingdom, this kingdom of God now—but they will take dominion over the world.
Now, Mark, what about dominionism? What about taking over the world? Where do you see that in Scripture?
Mark: Well, the tragedy is that they take scriptures out of context that apply specifically to Israel and the Millennial Kingdom, where Christ, of course, reigns physically from Jerusalem, returns with His saints. But they see that as present day. They believe that they are ushering in the kingdom of God now. They believe that they are literally bringing “heaven to earth.” That’s a common phrase: “bringing heaven to earth.” And in that way, they are, again, identical to the New Age movement, who believes that we’re all approaching a level of Christ-consciousness, and that there must be a great awakening of spirit and mind in order to accomplish this.
So it’s both a supernatural awakening they seek, and unfortunately, Satan is playing right along with them. They’re dancing to his tune in all of this.
Tom: Well, and plus, when they claim to be speaking for God, and we don’t find it in the Scriptures, you find almost all the time, they’re playing to the hearts of men. Not only are men doing this. This is no longer—although we’d say, “Yeah, well, Jesus is held in the heavenlies until….” I mean, I could quote you leader after leader who say, “Jesus will not return—cannot return—until we turn this world into a paradise.
Tom: Oh, and by the way, we’re speaking specifically about the New Apostolic Reformation, but as you alluded to before, this is all part of amillennialism, post-millennialism, global peace plan, the whole idea of restoring the earth, whether somebody buys into one particular thrust in this or another, it’s all the same thing: it’s building the kingdom NOW.
Mark, from the Bible, what does the Scripture say? What is the next kingdom to come on this earth?
Mark: (short laugh) Well, it depends who you talk to. According to God’s Word…
Tom: That’s what I want to know. Okay, yeah, just tell me God’s Word. What is the next kingdom that we see, you know, we take Scripture not just literally—I mean, obviously we can take it figuratively, literally, and so on—but in terms of the clear teaching of Scripture chronologically…
Tom: Isn’t it the kingdom of the Antichrist?
Mark: Exactly. The kingdom of the Antichrist.
Tom: So what are we saying here? Are we saying these people are working for the Antichrist?
Well, look, I don’t think—and I don’t know these people’s hearts or minds, or whatever—but I do know this, that what they are presenting contributes to the building, the mentality, of the religion of the Antichrist. This is…check Revelation out, folks, Revelation 13 in particular, I think. Well, check the Book of Revelation out. That after chapter 3, it talks about, you know, the Antichrist and his kingdom, which is being developed. So a lot of these things lead into that. And if we don’t know—when I say “we,” if these people, or people don’t understand the chronology of the Scripture, then I’m saying, unwittingly…
Tom: …they could be playing into the development of this religion and kingdom before—obviously, before Christ returns.
Mark: Indeed. There’s no question.
Tom: Mark, I want to just go back to…we’ve got about three minutes left, and the Lord willing, in our next program, we’re going to be discussing this dominionism, and where it’s going, and certainly some of the religious leaders involved here and their programs.
However, I want to go back to…these apostles and these prophets. You know, I came out of, as you know, Mark, 30 years of Roman Catholicism, and we were taught apostolic succession. Now don’t these people, in their process of recognizing who these New Apostles are, don’t they have a form of apostolic succession?
Mark: Well, Tom, there are some similarities and some differences. They don’t claim direct apostolic succession in the same manner as the Vatican does for papal succession, but they do teach that they are capital “A” Apostles who are imbued with the same power and authority as the biblical apostles of Christ. I would say in this way, the NAR actually resembles something closer to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the Mormon Church. They actually have a lifetime quoram of 12 apostles who sit underneath the president, who is their head prophet.
Tom: Yeah, and so it’s progressive. In other words, if a former prophet within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—they’ve got some issues with it, with what the, you know, whether it be Brigham Young or Joseph Smith or whoever, and it all of a sudden affects them socially or politically or whatever—you know, now a new prophet comes along and makes some revisions and so on, but that’s the way it works.
Tom: Certainly not the objective Word of God. And that’s my chief concern here. Again, the Lord willing, Mark, what I want to get into, and we’ll start off next week’s program by talking about these prophets—so-called prophets—you just mentioned that these are, you know, they claim to be like the prophets of old, only more superior and so on, in what they say and what they do, how they go about things. But as I remember from the Scriptures, if a prophet was wrong on one issue, well, the Israelites, the Jews, were supposed to take up stones and stone them, and so on.
Mark: Yeah, that’s right.
Tom: But, and we’ll talk about this next week, according to these new prophets, well, their level of accuracy is around—what? 60 percent?
Mark: Yeah, around 50-60 percent.
Tom: Sixty percent. But again, they are higher prophets, and they are more—have more authority and so on, but it seems like their percentage is a lot lower than the Old Testament prophets. Anyway, we’ll deal with that next week.
So I hope you’ll join us. We will address more issues related to the New Apostolic Reformation.
Oh, one other thing is, we offer a book called Wandering Stars, Gary will tell you about it. Folks, this is the best book I’ve read dealing with these issues, and I go back with Dave, in Seduction of Christianity, we dealt with some of these issues over the years, and so on, but Keith Gibson’s Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, I couldn’t recommend it more highly.
So, till next week, Lord bless you.
We offer a wide variety of materials to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials, and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, OR, 97708; call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. In our next program, Tom will continue his discussion with TBC staff member Mark Dinsmore on The New Apostolic Reformation.
I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we encourage you to search the Scriptures 24/7.