NAR = “new apostolic reformation.”
In a post last fall Michael Danner quoted Michael Kruse on the “ex-tractional” practices of Modern churches. I think the rabbit hole runs even deeper than they know. Michael Kruse posted the following on Facebook:
(The) evangelical world extracts us out of the mission found in our daily lives into programs for personal piety and therapeutic catharsis. (The) Mainline world extracts us out and into programs of platitudinal do-goodism and justice advocacy. Neither consistently produces communities of disciples who are sent in the context of daily lives as neighbor and worker. Mission has become the process of extracting others from their contexts into the insular orbit of church programming.
Michael Danner comments,
“The escape motif which is present in most theologies that include a rapture of the church (i.e. God’s people are snatched off earth into heaven at a future date), when applied to discipleship, leads to missional extraction. The church becomes a sort of half-way house, or holding tank, on the way from earth to heaven. The problem is that Jesus explicitly says that he is NOT taking his followers out of the world, but prays for them as they engage the world with the good news of the kingdom of God. They are sheep among wolves to be sure, but sheep that are called to proclaim, teach, invite, and demonstrate the good news of the kingdom of God in their midst.”
And there is a whole other segment of the church, the contemporary revivalist segment, sometimes known as “kingdom now” theology, but in general those who participate in the NAR, who do the extractional thing with a very different dynamic. Those followers of Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, the Kansas City prophets, many of the IHOP people, are part of a charismatic movement which is built around anointed leaders. Authority is measured by charisma, and the movement is highly attractional, built around large gatherings and dramatic pronouncements about current heavenly events.
The impact of any leader-centered movement is to reduce priestly authority in the ordinary believer. We measure ourselves against the anointed leader and fall short. We don’t have the heavenly visions and out-of-body experiences, therefore we trust them to hear from God for us. It de-authorizes both ministry, and mission for the “lay” folk.
While nearly any leader in the movement will tell you this is not their intention, it is the common result. The medium becomes the message. The most highly gifted – and gifts in the very narrow sense but nearly always prophetic – hold the power and attract large followings. We have an NAR church in our home town, have been to many meetings there over the years, so we have had a chance to observe the dynamics first hand. There are many, many sincere believers in this movement who are doing their best to follow Jesus.
The NAR has their own take on the restoration of “apostolic ministry.” I have made it clear in many years of writings that the church never lost apostles and prophets, but they were marginalized in Christendom. In this sense I affirm restoration, but not within a hierarchical and authoritarian system. I am travelling the same trail as other missional thinkers in this regard, like Alan Hirsch and Alan Roxburgh.
Greg Metzger has a look at Cindy Jacobs and Heidi Baker.
Wikipedia offers a pretty good summary of the theology and eschatology of the Latter Rain movement which was birthed in Canada just after the war. Much of this theology continues in movements like the NAR. I remember chatting with George Warnock about some of this history in Cranbrook in 1996. See my thoughts on the “Tabernacle of David” teaching on this site.
The worst effects of this movement:
* personality cult works against a living priesthood and then mission
* centers in gatherings and inward ministry life
* eschatology hoping for God invasion therefore we pray and wait but don’t work
* wait for healing by prayer (this whole dualistic paradigm)