Kingdom Through Culture: The New Apostolic Reformation and its Cultural Appeal, Part 3

Read the series.

Seven Implications for Consideration

1. The Bible Plus View of Revelation—employing the Catholic understanding of Revelation, the NAR has departed from the progress of the Protestant Reformation, favoring the RCC’s Bible Plus Tradition approach. Much of evangelicalism flirts with this (doctrine of illumination, Holy Spirit speaking today, etc.), along with liberties taken in Bible translation (formal equivalence versus dynamic equivalence).1

2. The Hermeneutics of Dominionism—The NAR employs several hermeneutic models: theological, Christocentric, redemptive, and allegorical, all supporting continuationism and dominionism. The Genesis model for hermeneutics and the NT use of the OT suggests the literal grammatical historical model.

3. The Theology of Dominionism—The NAR is impacting culture effectively both through and to this theology. Evangelical theology hasn’t effectively dealt with the cultural mandate undergirding dominionism.2 Passages for consideration include Genesis 1-3, and 9, Matthew 5-13, and Revelation 19. Understanding a Biblical perspective on interacting with Wallnau’s seven mountains (religion, family, education, government, media, arts, and business) is also important.

4. Experience and Sentiment Over Reason—creating a false dilemma of subjectivity versus objectivity, with emphasis on the Psalms over Pauline literature, for example. Have we dealt sufficiently with epistemological foundations—understanding the impact of Thomas Aquinas, Rene Descartes, David Hume, and Friederich Nietzsche?

5. How to Handle the Music—previous postmillennial efforts have been primarily to affect government; this one has been aimed at culture through media and music, and thus is more grassroots, and more effective. On the one hand, there are songs that are theologically sound and effective in teaching truth. On the other hand, some former insiders have seen a major deficiency not only in some of the theology, but in the praxis of worship itself: “I saw what I was doing as a band member as not leading people in worship, but participating in ‘conjuring’ the Holy Spirit to ‘come down’. The Holy Spirit being defined as the euphoric feeling that the droning music creates.”3 In examining the songs, it is evident that they are of differing quality and deserve consideration individually and on their own merits. There are three logical ways to approach this: (1) Reject anything produced by NAR advocates (beware the boycott syndrome), (2) Accept anything produced by NAR advocates (beware the need for discernment), (3) Reject some and accept others, exercising discernment.

The effectiveness and popularity of the music provides an occasion to examine the method and metrics by which we will assess the art. This presents an important aesthetics question that should be answered Biblically.

Examples

Consider the subtle dominionism of “Who Is Like the Lord”4 by Highlands. The song speaks of current and earthly reign of Christ, and seems to confuse the roles of the Father and Son in the current age:

You’re seated on the throne of mercy
Your glory shining bright for all to see
Oh God I will praise you
Magnificent with grace unending
You rescue us with love that never fails
God I will praise You
Who is like the Lord strong in battle
Who is like the Lord mighty to save
Who is like the Lord King forever
Jesus reigns Jesus reigns
I know that You are always with me
Your presence goes before and goes behind
Oh God I will praise You
You reign in all the earth
You reign in all the heavens You’re holy
You’re seated on the throne
Nothing can stand against You You’re holy

On the other hand, notice the Biblical-revelation focus of “Show us Christ”5 from Sovereign Grace, a continuationist church that “encourage[s] churches to sing biblically informed, heartfelt, historically mindful music.”6 Though there is some ambiguity in the song, it is attempting to draw attention to the value of the Bible.

Prepare our hearts O God
Help us to receive
Break the hard and stony ground
Help our unbelief
Plant Your Word down deep in us
Cause it to bear fruit
Open up our ears to hear
Lead us in Your truth
Show us Christ show us Christ
God reveal Your glory
Through the preaching of Your Word
Until every heart confesses Christ is Lord
Your Word is living light
Upon our darkened eyes
Guards us through temptations
Makes the simple wise
Your Word is food for famished ones
Freedom for the slave
Riches for the needy soul
Come speak to us today
Where else can we go Lord
Where else can we go
You have the words of eternal life

Cory Asbury of Bethel Music sings of “The Reckless Love of God.”7 The chorus of the song emphasizes the love of God but uses a highly questionable term (reckless). Is this merely poetic license, or is it misrepresenting the character of God?

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

Bethel Music’s “King of My Heart”8 extols the faithfulness of God and the believer’s response to him (as a subject to a king). The song is loaded with repetition and is light on theological depth. Does the repetition of the lyrics and dynamism of the music itself complement the simplicity of the message of trust, or does it represent a liturgical deficiency?

Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song

‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh

And let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh oh, He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh, He is my song

‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh

You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
And You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down

You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down

Oh ’cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh

You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down

‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
You are good, oh oh

Hillsong United’s “Another in the Fire”9 illustrates another common technique of bringing OT imagery (in this case, the deliverance of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3) to the believer’s present experience. Is this an appropriate use of the OT, that helps a believer grow in their trust of God based on His previous works (like the Psalmists would refer to earlier works of God), or is it a misapplication that supports supersessionism and continuationism?

There’s a grace when the heart is under fire
Another way when the walls are closing in
And when I look at the space between
Where I used to be and this reckoning
I know I will never be alone

There was another in the fire
Standing next to me
There was another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
Of how I’ve been set free
There is a cross that bears the burden
Where another died for me
There is another in the fire

All my debt left for dead beneath the waters
I’m no longer a slave to my sin anymore
And should I fall in the space between
What remains of me and this reckoning
Either way I won’t bow to the things of this world
And I know I will never be alone

There is another in the fire
Standing next to me
There is another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
What power set me free
There is a grave that holds no body
And now that power lives in me
There is another in the fire, oh
There is another in the fire, whoa
There is another in the fire, whoa
There is another in the fire, oh
I can see

And I can see the light in the darkness
As the darkness bows to Him
I can hear the roar in the heavens
As the space between wears thin
I can feel the ground shake beneath us
As the prison walls cave in
Nothing stands between us
Nothing stands between us

There is no other name but the name that is Jesus
He who was and still is, and will be through it all
So come what may in the space between
All the things unseen and this reckoning
And I know I will never be alone
And I know I will never be alone

There’ll be another in the fire
Standing next to me
There’ll be another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
How good You’ve been to me
I’ll count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be
I can see the light

And I can see the light in the darkness
As the darkness bows to Him
I can hear the roar in the heavens
As the space between wears thin
I can feel the ground shake beneath us
As the prison walls cave in
Nothing stands between us
Nothing stands between

There’ll be another in the fire
Standing next to me
There’ll be another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
How good You’ve been to me
I’ll count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be

Count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be
I’ll count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be, sing it again
I’ll count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be
I’ll count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be

Notes

1 Christopher Cone, “How to Choose a Bible Translation, Part 1” http://www.drcone.com/2016/04/15/how-to-choose-a-bible-translation-part-1/.

2 For more on this, see Christopher Cone, Redacted Dominionism: A Biblical Approach to Grounding Environmental Responsibility (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012).

3 “Personal Testimonies: Leaving the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) Movement,” 3/15/2017, viewed at https://thenarrowingpath.com/2017/03/15/personal-testimonies-leaving-the….

4 CJ Blount, Justin Bradshaw, Nicole McLean, © 2018 Highlands Creative Publishing.

5 Bob Kauflin and Doug Plank, © 2011 Sovereign Grace Praise.

6 https://sovereigngrace.com/music/.

7 Caleb Culver, Cory Asbury, Ran Jackson, © 2018 Bethel Music Publishing.

8 John Mark McMillan and Sarah McMillan, © 2017 Capitol Christian Music Group.

9 Chris Davenport and Joel Houston, © 2019 Capitol Christian Music Group.

Christopher Cone 2016


Dr. Christopher Cone serves as President of Calvary University, and is the author or general editor of several books including: Integrating Exegesis and Exposition: Biblical Communication for Transformative Learning, Gifted: Understanding the Holy Spirit and Unwrapping Spiritual Gifts, and Dispensationalism Tomorrow and Beyond: A Theological Collection in Honor of Charles C. Ryrie. Dr. Cone previously served in executive and faculty roles at Southern California Seminary and Tyndale Theological Seminary and Biblical Institute, and in pastoral roles at Tyndale Bible Church and San Diego Fellowship of the Bible.

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Ed Vasicek's picture

I don't know that it is helpful to lump all continualists, like Sovereign Grace (a movememtn doctrinally and Biblically grounded) with the New Apostolic.

Most continualists do not view new "revelations" as infallible or as having the authority of the Bible.  It is the New Apostolic that is dangerous that way.

Although I don't agree with these groups, the Reformers recognized other authorities beside the Bible, but recognized the Bible as the final and authoritative authority.  The Sovereign Grace people, unlike the New Apostolic, fall within the Reformer's paradigm in concept, even if the Reformers might diasgree that revelatory gifts are still given.  

For Sovereign Grace, the Bible, as givien, is the the final word.  Not true for the New Apostolic.

We read too much into the claims of moderate charismatic and take their visions more seriously than they do.

 

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