Some readers who commented on my last post rightfully pointed out that not all Christians who believe in modern apostles and prophets embrace the unorthodox teachings of the apostolic-prophetic movement. As I start this blog, I want to be clear: my concern is not with Christians who believe that there are modern “apostles” in the sense of church planters, missionaries or effective Christians leaders who have a calling to a particular ministry or geographical region. Nor is my concern with Christians who believe that there are modern “prophets” in the sense of Christians with the New Testament gift of prophecy or Christians who God is using to alert the church to something. My concern is with Christians who teach that there are modern “apostles” with unquestioned authority and “prophets” with the ability to give new doctrinal revelation.
Both of these doctrines are being taught by leaders in the fast-growing apostolic-prophetic movement, including “prophets” who are featured on Becky Fischer’s “Kids in Ministry International” Web site that I linked to in my last post. (Remember, Fischer runs the children’s camp that the Jesus Camp documentary is based on.) Bill Hamon, for example — a prominent leader in the movement — argues in his book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God that modern apostles and prophets give the church new doctrinal revelation, saying: “He [the apostle Paul] also reveals that this anointing for divine revelation was not just given to the prophets of old but has now been equally given to Christ’s Holy Apostles and Prophets in His Church.”
Hamon devotes much of his book to arguing for the need for “new truths” and giving his own extra-biblical revelation, including the teaching that modern apostles and prophets are going to become so powerful that Christians who come into their presence with sin will be struck dead. Hamon also details prophecies about a coming “Saints Movement” and a “Kingdom Establishing Movement” — two movements he said that God revealed to Him must occur before Jesus can return to earth (movements involving a Christian army led by apostles and prophets).
C. Peter Wagner — another foremost leader in the movement, who coined the term “New Apostolic Reformation” — argues in his book Churchquake! that apostles’ authority cannot be questioned, even by the pastors or prophets under them.
Both Wagner and Hamon identify the apostolic-prophetic movement with the teachings of the Latter Rain movement of the 1940s, which was deemed heretical by most evangelicals. Doctrines the movements share include the teaching that God is raising up an end-times army, led by apostles and prophets — known as “Joel’s Army” or the “Manifest Sons of God” — that will overcome sin and sickness and subdue the earth with their supernatural powers.
These are some of the troubling and unbiblical teachings I plan to address in upcoming posts. I wouldn’t be so concerned about this movement if it wasn’t growing so quickly and becoming so influential. (I plan to show how the movement is moving into mainstream evangelicalism in my next post.) It’s my hope that this blog will raise awareness and discussion of these issues. I appreciate your thoughts and feedback. If I’m wrong about anything I say, please let me know. I don’t want to misrepresent anyone’s teachings or beliefs. Hopefully, we can help each other come to greater discernment and understanding on these issues.