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The NAR: What’s the Big Deal?

question mark 2The other day, I was talking with a friend and he asked me, point-blank, “What is the worst that will happen if someone buys into this NAR stuff?”

Good question.

It all boils down to two things: a stunted walk with God and an ineffective witness.

Stunted Walk With God

When someone embraces NAR beliefs, that person will experience a stunted walk with God. That is to say, she or he may not enjoy a close, intimate friendship with Him and the accompanying spiritual blessings.

Now, what I just said would be shocking to people in the NAR movement. This is because they are taught that they are the ones who have intimacy with God and that people who oppose the movement are “hard-hearted Pharisees” who practice a “dead religion.”

So, who’s right?

To find out, we have to look at what the Bible says about intimacy with God.

The key to fellowship with God is not the mystical or miraculous. It is the progressive cleansing of sin in our lives (1 John 1:6-7). So, the reason an NAR person will have a stunted walk with God is because she or he will become more focused on having mystical or emotional experiences and working miracles than on overcoming sin.

It is true that, when we place our faith in Christ, we are forgiven of all our sins and are credited with the righteousness of Christ. But that does not mean our struggle with sin is over.  At that time, we begin a lifelong process of “sanctification,” in which we become more and more like Jesus Christ through cooperation with the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sin.

More than once, Scripture declares that the people who will “see” God are those who have striven for holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and those who are “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8)–in other words, those who pursue moral purity in every area of their lives.

But no such promise is made to those who work miracles or have mystical experiences. In fact, Jesus says that, on Judgment Day, many people who worked miracles will be given the shock of their lives.

21 “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. 22 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?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

In sum, many NAR followers have shifted their attention from moral purity to the miraculous. In doing so, they have hindered their personal relationship with God.

Ineffective Witness

When someone embraces NAR beliefs, that person will become a less effective witness for God.

We are called to be Christ’s ambassadors and to take the light of His gospel into a dark world. And the gospel we are called to proclaim is the gospel of salvation from sin. But the NAR movement has redefined the gospel so that it has become, primarily, a gospel of taking dominion.

This distorted gospel is a distraction from the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a disservice to people to minimize their most urgent need–salvation from personal sin–and to instead focus on taking sociopolitical control of cities and nations.

An NAR person may not see the importance of spending an afternoon in the market square, sharing the undiluted gospel with nonbelievers. Instead, that person would focus efforts on what she or he thinks is most important: taking dominion through spiritual warfare. So, rather than going to the market square, she or he may head for the hills–to wage spiritual warfare by pounding stakes inscribed with Scripture verses into the ground, pouring out anointing oil, and shouting down the local “territorial spirits.”

What ways have you seen NAR beliefs harm people who have bought into them?

— By Holly Pivec

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14 Responses to “The NAR: What’s the Big Deal?”

  1. Karen Says:

    I have seen these beliefs create an undercurrent of discontentment in the orthodox church.  I have seen folks begin to withdraw from fellowship and the “one-anothering” we are called to in the church, and instead begin to prioritize attendance at various “events”  where perceived miracles and signs/wonders occur.  Criticism of the orthodox local church ensues, and claims begin to be made that brothers and sisters, “aren’t hungry enough,”  or “don’t have enough faith.”  Solid doctrine and theology begins to appear faithless to them, and they will accuse those who adhere to this doctrine of being “too rational to experience the power of God.”  I have used quotes here from actual recent conversations.  Ironically, I believe the pull-back from fellowship prevents them from seeing the true miracles God has done and is doing in his people.  When we stop being intentional in relationships within church family, how can we see what he is actually doing in transforming people?

  2. M. K. Says:

    Habits of twisting of Scripture are taught as ppl are encouraged to dig deeper, look at alternative meanings that have NOTHING to do with the context of a verse. So the resource that a Christian has to test truth is ripped from them as the Bible becomes subjectively interpreted.

    Doctrine and Theology are put down in favour of “new thing” “new wine” “new revelation” etc. The idea that the Bible is sufficient to guide and direct a Christian is broken along with the concept that Godly men of the past were irrelevant to the current day and age. The men who wrestled with ideas that infected THEIR churches and came up with written expressions of what we believe (doctrine) and WHO GOD IS and what HE says about Himself and HIS requirements thru Scripture (theology–the study of God).

    Men are elevated above God’s Word in the Bible. So we have coverings –someone who stands between you and God or super apostles who are above all criticism. They appear bigger than God even because it’s up to THEM and their end time army to bring about Christ’s eventual triumphal return. If the “Bride” ain’t perfect, the wedding isn’t happening which makes Jesus DEPENDENT on fallen humans to bring about the conclusion to history.

    The theology of “coverings” or “shepherding” means abuse. Give people power, especially spiritual power over somebody else and they will abuse it eventually. Whether to shut down criticism or attack anyone who dares to disagree with their “covering” or “shepherd” it results in a loss of Biblical freedom to discern, to test the spirits to see if they are from God or not, to think and question freely.

  3. Fern Says:

    Wrong. I went to a NAR conference (Lance, Heidi, Georgian and Winnie) and they had us go out and share the gospel with people in Brooklyn right after the Sunday morning worship. I hugged two beautiful Muslim women and explained how much God loves them and prayed with them. Will they find the true Jesus? I believe so because the presence of God was with me as I asked for them to receive a spirit fo revelation in the knowledge of God, that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened. Did I force them to say a prayer? No. Do I believe God is God and saves? Yes. My group also encouraged a depressed woman who had faith who ran the store we stopped for food at. I think you’re being very unfair to say these things. Yes, we are to fight the strongman and bind them, but we do also stop for the one and love them.

  4. Holly Says:


    Thanks for interacting with my post. I am trying to understand your perspective. What, exactly, do you think I wrote that is unfair?


  5. Michael Says:

    I was wondering if you think that a stunted walk with God and an Ineffective witness are the only things to be concerned with?

    I have not researched NAR so I don’t know how the titles Prophet and Apostle are being applied but if there is any chance we are talking about folks who are claiming to receive “Divine Knowledge” or some type of “Special Revelation” or are claiming they have received and are sharing a “Prophecy”, shouldn’t we stay away from them when their theology cannot be supported by scripture?  Aren’t these the wolves in sheep clothing we are warned about?

  6. Tony Says:

    One thing I noticed after some of the people in our church came back from IHOP last January was some of the teachings they brought back were off base.
    Particularly the term “Imparted Righteousness”. I said that term / doctrine is not in the Bible and long story short deceives a person into self righteousness. And the end will be those people spoken of in Matt 7.
    If I may leave a link to a teaching that I left with my friend. Although they are going back there in a few weeks. I have fast become somewhat of an outcast with my observations, any advice you can give would be appreciated.

  7. bubba baby Says:

    I was influenced by this teaching and didn’t even know it. I started asking my self when did it stop being simple. When I was a kid I would tell my friends about Jesus and bring them to church. Now it all about what God will do for me. Well that don’t sit well with my soul. So I got back to the bible and I’m learning what  God and Jesus wants me to know. The message of how God loves everyone. How Jesus die on the cross for use.when did most church stop preaching the Gospel? All I van say is get back to the word of the true one and only God. Read the ten commandments. love God. With all your heart,mind and soul. Love your neighbor, as your self.

  8. bubba baby Says:

    Mark 13:21-23 
                            21.   And then if any man shall say to you, lo, here is Christ; or,lo,he is there;     
    Believe him not: 22. For false Christ’s and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.23. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

  9. T Says:

    There are a couple of other issues with people adopting NAR that you didn’t mention. Although, the proponents constantly claim they desire unity, it is, in fact, a very divisive movement. The second issue, which I believe is of greater concern is, Dominionist teaching actually can lead to apostasy. If you are constantly teaching people that things are going to increase! get better! have breakthrough! conquer the seven mountains! and don’t teach them that discipleship is about denying self, picking up your cross, and following Jesus, then when things get difficult its followers have no grounding to persevere.

  10. Rhonda Says:

    I studied under the NAR for quite some time even went to their Woman conferences . I mu say it was wonderful to see the Holy Spirit being such a big part of their church.. But sadly I started to see the Nars down fall.. Fire tunnels, barking dogs. I went to Bill Johnsons church for awhile and his healing room. This place has more in common with new age then the Gospel of Christ. His sermons mainly speak of manistations … His wife waking up sleeping Angels.. At conferences around here they usually find that its the Bethel people who are possessed and need deliverance. Their belief of because your a child of God all things are yours now is got to the point of ….. Is God in the throne or YOU?!! Their opening prayer / creed is all about prosperity , financial gain in this world. I myself could not recite such a thing it’s a worldly system who accepts this as a form of prayer.

  11. Nick Says:

    Rhonda, I think I know the prayer because my NAR church in Maine would say a declaration before the offering, declaring stuff like, “I’m believing you for jobs and better jobs, check’s in the mail, gifts and surprises, finding money” 

    For such a greedy agenda, why they go after broke young adults is beyond me. We are the worst givers, from what I understand.

  12. Nick Says:

    Steve Backlund wrote a book for NAR leaders that teaches church members how to resist family and friends who call your church a cult or say there is false teaching and false prophecy there. There is nothing about how to know your family and friends are right and when to leave. Someone calling themselves a reverend even asked Steve on the Bethel store what to do for their friend who may really be in a cult and he just said he would consider it in the future. No concern for the friend in a cult.

    The book is called Crucial Moments: Reforming our Thinking to Accelerate Revival.

    Bethel used to send us Steve and Wendy Backlund as authority figures and I was instantly deceived by how kind and fatherly they were.

    I had shut off my discernment after years of being accused of having a religious or jezebel spirit… which may be blasphemy frankly to call the Holy Spirit a demon, like the pharisees did to Jesus. Praise God for tribulation, though! I repented of all the deep NAR garbage and partaking in their alter of demons. And God got my attention to repent by allowing me to lose everything: both my homes, my vehicles, my wife, every possession, my health and nearly my sanity. If somebody has turned me over to Satan, praise Jesus, it woke me up. I was alone, homeless and hungry. That’s when I saw there was no love or compassion from my old NAR church, even on a former leader. The Holy Spirit began guiding me into truth again in the Word and He restored both my sound doctrine and healed my conscience. Let this false gospel be anathema.

  13. Nick Says:

    Bethel sells a book by Leif Hetland called Baptism of Love. Leif says he discovered a secret additional baptism “of Father’s love” which brings “the greatest freedom and healing”. As if God didn’t show His love in John 3:16-17.

    This is blasphemy of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, in my opinion. To Leif, the baptisms of salvation in Christ and in the fire of the Spirit aren’t true freedom or healing, and when the Holy Spirit shed abroad the love of God in our hearts, that wasn’t enough. Man needed a secret experience, bases on new revelation and secret knowledge, to encounter a God they can’t even call The Father because they don’t preach Him or His Son.

  14. Nancy Lockhart Says:

    I think the worse thing that can happen is that the lives of our precious children can be commandeered by these folks.

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