Read the series.
Seven Implications for Consideration (Continued)
6. Some Positive Aspects of the NAR—The theology of the NAR is in some cases significantly different from what is represented by the plain sense of Scripture, and that must be dealt with and addressed. At the same time, there is value in addressing the negatives while learning from the positives—three of which are identified by this writer: (1) The NAR expends great effort and resource to maintain consistency between theology, praxis, and liturgy. (2) The NAR is attempting to be comprehensive in efforts to positively impact the culture. (3) The NAR demonstrates commitment to excellence in the “product,” showing some cultural leadership rather than simply mimicking tools employed by secular influencers.
Perhaps we can challenge NAR advocates in core epistemological foundations, hermeneutic and exegetical method, and certain theological conclusions all while appreciating that they are demonstrating some methodology in reaching the present generation.
7. The Tenor of the Discussion—The differences and distinctions should not be ignored, particularly where there is divergence from the Scriptures. Also we should keep the end goal in mind. Michael Brown (considered by some to be part of the NAR, though denying it himself) suggests five ways to handle the discussion constructively. Though we might disagree on some aspects, the concerns and recommendations he raises are thoughtworthy:
First, get rid of the extreme rhetoric (“not Christian”; “aberrant movement”; etc.). You’re slandering your brothers and sisters. Second, drop the general term NAR. It’s ambiguous at best and misleading at worst and should only be used with reference to the organization once led by Peter Wagner. Third, don’t put widely disparate groups under the same heading. That only leads to confusion. Fourth, identify the beliefs or practices you question, be sure you rightly understand them from an insider perspective, then respond to them based on Scripture and fruit. Fifth, recognize the wonderful things the Spirit is doing around the world today.10
God is certainly working today, and His Spirit is undoubtedly very active, but He gets to define that activity, and He gets to decide how and to what extent that activity is revealed. The views and efforts of the NAR provide us an important occasion to revisit our core, foundational understandings of the basis of authority in our lives. How can we answer the question of who God is, and how can we be certain that we have answered the question correctly? The Bible asserts that it is, and provides, the answer. The NAR takes us back to a time when the question of methodology was answered by going beyond what is written. The NAR confronts us, through the seriousness of its contemporary apostolic and prophetic claims, with the simplicity of the question of foundational truth. How we answer that question will set the course of our understanding of God and of what He expects of us.
10 Michael Brown, “Dispelling the Myths About NAR (the New Apostolic Reformation),” Christian Post, May 3, 2018, viewed at https://www.christianpost.com/voice/dispelling-myths-new-apostolic-reformation-michael-brown.html.
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.