Read the series.
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:
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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.
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(5) Postmillennial dominionism is the NAR’s distinctive eschatological perspective and helps define its culture-changing emphasis. “When Jesus came, He brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth. This is what we mean by dominionism.”26 Wagner rejects the escapist eschatology of pretribulationalist premillennialism in favor of what he calls “dominionist eschatology.”27 He describes the present activity of the church as “aggressively retaking dominion, and the rate at which this is happening will soon become exponential. The day will come when “‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever’”28
Drawing popular scrutiny during the 2012 presidential election,1 the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) embraces the largest non-Catholic segment of world Christianity. It is also the fastest growing segment, the only segment of Christianity currently growing faster than the world population and faster than Islam.2 “The NAR represents the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation. This is not a doctrinal change. We adhere to the major tenets of the Reformation: the authority of Scripture, justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers. But the quality of church life, the governance of the church, the worship, the theology of prayer, the missional goals, the optimistic vision for the future, and other features, constitute quite a change from traditional Protestantism.”3 The NAR is remarkably noteworthy, globally influential, and should be understood in context.