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New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)

“I didn’t know you had a brother,” the lady at church remarked. “Older or younger?”

“Younger,” I replied. “I guess he’s….wow, he’s in his 30’s now.” I marvel at how he’s no longer a baby brother - 6.5 years younger - but now in my peer group for the first time.

“What does he do?” she asked.

I shrugged. “I have no idea. I don’t even know where he is.”

If you were overhearing this conversation, what would you think? Drugs? Kidnapped? Mental illness? Joined a cult?

Well, it’s that last one. And to my sheer astonishment, the estrangement from genuinely safe and loving parents has stretched over a decade now. So I have personal reasons for posting about a false theology called the New Apostolic Reformation. An excellent, well documented resource is the book Counterfeit Kingdom by Holly Pivec and R. Douglas Geivett, shown below. Considering the increasingly illogical and predatory nature of today's popular ideologies, I think this resource is especially important if you are a parent. `

Unfortunately, this “cult” is so large and pervasive - hiding behind familiar Biblical words - that I doubt it still holds up to the dictionary definition of a cult. So why use the term? Because it showcases the standard beliefs and manipulative behaviors of similarly large religious groups. A regular human being(s) declares their authority between God and their fellow men, reassuring their followers of wonderful, ego-boosting blessings when they humbly submit to their special knowledge and authority. And do not, under any means, question them and their new theology. In fact, if your family does not believe in this new theology, they are not to be trusted. Does that sound familiar? It should. It’s a very common thread between many recognizable cults and religions.

Which One Is Truth?

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

That’s it. The resurrected Jesus - God come in the flesh - is the linchpin. Anything in excess to that is false. Deception. The wolf in Grandma’s pajamas. The fox carrying the gingerbread man to “safety” while coaxing him closer and closer to his mouth. If any other human or spirit or whatever says you also need to go through them, or pray to them, or get special blessing from them - disregard. Blow them off and walk away. Don’t bother. Not even Jesus - God Himself - ever instructed people to never ask questions, to not use their mind. If anything or anyone makes itself larger, or even just as large or crucial as the simple Gospel, just walk away.

But My Church Talks About Jesus...

Children’s stories are really good at showing what tricky people are like. It’s easy to scoff at Little Red Riding Hood because, after all, the wolf in that story didn’t disguise himself very well. Even a child knew something was off. But tricky people, or deceivers, are everywhere. Even in places that should be safe. Here are three particularly helpful Scripture passages:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:28-30 (emphasis mine)

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1 (emphasis mine)

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.” .…“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:15-16a, 21-23 (emphasis mine)

Remember The Old Fables

Tricky people do not have a sign on their forehead. They look like a regular person, a good citizen. They use the right words, have the right attitude. I think we expect them to be as obvious as the wolf in Grandma’s pajamas. But I think these Scripture verses show they are more like the fox in the Gingerbread Man. In this story, the gingerbread man is pretty proud of himself - he has easily outrun everyone who wants to eat him up. But of course, life throws him a lemon by way of a river blocking his path, and he is vulnerable for the first time.

The fox isn’t stupid. He doesn’t charge the gingerbread man, teeth bared, screaming out how tasty he looks. He calmly approaches him, recognizing his need and offers himself as a solution. As the fox swims across the river, he keeps telling the gingerbread man to reposition himself. To move closer. The fox does indeed get the gingerbread man to the other side of the river. But by the time they arrive, the gingerbread man is on the fox’s nose. Before he can step off, the fox tosses his head back and eats him.

Give Me Health and Wealth With A Sprinkle Of Jesus

Unfortunately, graduating from childhood does not mean graduating from the ability to be deceived. Remember the linchpin? Just like in the American culture of excess, false religions and ideologies, such as the New Apostolic Reformation, are built on excesses to Jesus. Excesses that Scripture nowhere supports. Excesses that don’t hold up to logic, if the ideologies are followed through to their full conclusions. How do I know this?

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (emphasis mine)

“All Scripture” rules out cherry-picking verses. And complete means complete! If the Church in 2023 is missing anything, it’s Biblical knowledge. Without it, we are easy targets for deception, with the inevitable result of damaging our witness of the Gospel.

Seek Truth, Then Hold Up A Shield

I’ve read a lot of really good books that I’d recommend to any Christian in a heartbeat, but Counterfeit Kingdom is top of the list right now. It’s an easy read and everything is well-documented. If you have children, this book is especially crucial. The gingerbread man eventually came to a place of vulnerability. That place, even for kids from strong Christian families, usually comes when they leave home. Prepare yourself and your kids to be alert and think logically about claims both in and out of church. In and out of school. In media.

And if you shrivel at the word “logic,” I will reassure you with this: the more I study truth and seek to worship God in truth first (before emotions), the more joy I get anyhow, because Truth is beautiful. It really is.

If we are really seeking truth, there will be plenty of evidence because... truth is truth. It will always be there. So we should be free to research, use our minds, look into history, discuss, and follow those gut feelings that something isn’t matching up.


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