Many mainstream Pentecostal and charismatic Christians who have just started to follow the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation are in for a big surprise: their end-time views are about to be turned upside down. Specifically, they will have to stop waiting for Christ to return and start working to set up God’s kingdom themselves–before Christ returns.
What do I mean?
Historically, most Pentecostals and charismatics have been “premillennialists.” This fancy theological word simply means they believe that Christ will return to earth first and then, only after He returns, will He will set up the millennial kingdom. The fact that most Pentecostals and charismatics believe that way is because this is the order of events presented in the Book of Revelation–starting in Revelation 19:11 with a vision of Christ returning on a white horse, followed in Revelation 20 with the binding of Satan and the establishment of the kingdom. But the NAR apostles and prophets reverse this order.
The End Time as Taught by NAR Leaders
But this end-time view doesn’t mesh with the view that is taught by the apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), including such notables as Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner and Bill Hamon.
According to these apostles and prophets, it is the task of the church–under their divinely appointed leadership–to take dominion of the earth now. This dominionist teaching goes hand-in-hand with another view of the end time known as “postmillennialism”–which teaches that the church will eventually Christianize the world and usher in God’s kingdom before Christ’s return.
In fact, this “kingdom now” teaching–as dominionism is commonly called–is part of the huge appeal of the NAR, which portrays conventional evangelicalism as lazy-boned, irrelevant and impotent. The NAR leaders, in contrast, promise to put power in the hands of their followers–that is, power to take control of the governments and cultures of the nations. And, to give their followers credit, the NAR also appeals to more noble desires to right the world’s wrongs and solve the problems that plague humanity, such as poverty and injustice. However, the error lies in their disregard for Scripture’s ordering of events.
Why This Stuff Matters
This change in end-time views–as NAR leaders seek to portray it–is from one of helpless waiting to empowered establishing. And the change does not just involve theoretical, pie-in-the-sky beliefs. This stuff really matters. What people believe about the end time will make a huge difference in how they lives their lives. Thus, NAR teachings present a fork in the road–that is, a choice between faithfully preaching the gospel of salvation from sin or going about the business of taking dominion.
Yet, for some people, the change won’t be a big shift. After all, some people have never really formed their own views of the end time, and so it will be easier for them to accept the NAR teaching that they are supposed to set up God’s earthly kingdom. Yet, a major shift will be required for those people who have already become convinced that Christ will return first.
NAR Leaders Teach Postmillennialism–Overtly and Covertly
Some NAR leaders are overt in their kingdom now beliefs. For example, Martin Trench–co-author of the book Victorious Eschatology–states directly that he embraces postmillennialism.
But other NAR leaders are not so overt. C. Peter Wagner–one of the movement’s most influential apostles–never states explicitly that he holds to postmillennialism. Nonetheless, the view he describes in his books appears to be exactly that. This can be seen from what he has written about the arrival of God’s kingdom prior to Christ’s return:
Seriously, I will confess that up until recently I knew what eschatology I did not believe–namely, the traditional Left Behind futuristic view–but I was not able to verbalize what I actually did believe. My changing point came when I read Victorious Eschatology by Harold Eberle and Martin Trench. Victorious eschatology fits dominion theology like a hand in a glove. Eberle and Trench say, ‘Before Jesus returns, the Church will rise in glory, unity, and maturity. The Kingdom of God will grow and advance until it fills the Earth.’” (Dominion!, page 61)
And other NAR leaders muddle their views even more than Wagner does. They claim that they are still premillennialists and that somehow their NAR teachings can be reconciled with premillennialism. For example, Mike Bickle–the founder of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri–teaches his own NAR variety of premillennialism that he calls “historic premillennialism.” Actually, Bickle’s use of the term “historic premillennialism” is misleading as his teaching does not accurately reflect historic premillennialism. Rather, it is more of a hybrid of postmillennial and premillennial views–and the result looks much more like postmillennialism. See Bickle’s odd hybrid teaching here. Yet I don’t believe NAR teachings can be reconciled with premillennialism, no matter how hard the Mike Bickle’s of the NAR world might try to reconcile these views. But I will have to say more about this in a future post.
Putting the Cart Before the Horse
For the time being, however, it seems that many followers of NAR apostles and prophets have yet to see the incompatibility between their long-held premillennial views and the evolving postmillennial teachings of the apostles and prophets. I wonder what will happen when they do see it. Will their loyalty to the NAR apostles and prophets be so blind that they will be willing to reverse the clear order of events in Revelation and–to make wordplay on a popular metaphor–put the “cart” of the millennial kingdom before the Rider of the white “horse”?
– Holly Pivec