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Evangelical Leaders and the NAR: What Gives?

Transform World artworkI was recently interviewed by a reporter who is working on an article about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. We were discussing some of the evangelical leaders who took part in the “Transform World 2020” global prayer summit held last month at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri.

The reporter asked me why these more traditional evangelicals–including Dallas Willard and Josh McDowell–would take part in an event organized by NAR leaders.

josh mcdowell headshot

Josh McDowell

I did not tell her about my surprise and sadness when I learned of the participation of Josh McDowell–an apologist whose books played a pivotal role in my own Christian testimony. But I did tell her the reason I think evangelicals like McDowell are seen sharing platforms with NAR leaders.

The Reason: Equivocation

They are falling for an age-old tactic of deception called “equivocation.” Equivocation is when one word is used, but with two different meanings. For example, consider how the word “bank” is used with two different meanings in the following sentences–resulting in a misleading conclusion.

All banks are beside rivers.
Therefore, the financial institution where I deposit my money is beside a river.

In the case of the NAR movement, the equivocation occurs when NAR leaders use common Christian words such as “prayer” and “advance God’s kingdom,” but they have redefined those words and given them vastly different shades of meaning. Thus, when they use those words they mean one thing, but they know that mainstream evangelicals hear something else. And that is exactly their intent.

By their misleading use of language, NAR leaders are able to attract mainstream evangelicals to their events and make it look like those evangelicals endorse their dominionist agenda.

To see what I mean, look at this advertisement for the Transform World event. It describes the purpose of the summit as promoting prayer for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Its goal was to see 100,000 gatherings of Christians united in prayer around the world.

Now, let me ask you: what evangelical in his or her right mind would not support prayer for the advancement of God’s kingdom? Of course, we all believe in those things.

But the problem is that the NAR organizers of the Transform World summit–including Luis Bush and Mike Bickle–have very different understandings of what they mean by prayer and advance God’s kingdom than their more traditional evangelical counterparts.

Here are the differences.

Equivocation on ‘Prayer’–The Evangelical View vs. the NAR View

Traditional evangelicals understand prayer simply as communication with God.

But, in the NAR view, prayer is seen much differently. It is often described as “warfare prayer” and is seen as a spiritual weapon aimed at defeating high-ranking demons–known as territorial spirits–that are believed to rule cities and nations. So, in the NAR view, territorial spirits must be defeated through warfare prayer before God’s kingdom can advance. This view of prayer is what is behind IHOP’s 24/7 prayer rooms–unbeknownst to many evangelicals.

Yet, for some reason, I doubt that Josh McDowell is trying to defeat territorial spirits when he prays.

Equivocation on ‘Advance God’s Kingdom’–The Evangelical View vs. the NAR View

Traditional evangelicals understand the advancement of God’s kingdom primarily in terms of converting individuals, not societal institutions. Thus, they have seen the primary task of the church as worldwide evangelism–that is, preaching the gospel of salvation from sin to peoples of all nations.

But NAR leaders understand the advancement of God’s kingdom in terms of converting societal institutions. So, in the NAR view, the primary task of the church is to take dominion–that is, sociopolitical control–of the influential sectors of society, including the government, media, business, education, family, religion, and arts. This NAR task is known as the “Seven Mountain Mandate.” And if you look closely at the advertisement for the Transform World summit, you will see this task reflected in the section titled “7 Spheres of Society.”

So, you can see how NAR leaders can use terms like “prayer” and “advance God’s kingdom” to rally more traditional evangelicals.

Why do you think evangelical leaders are joining forces with NAR leaders?

— By Holly Pivec

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17 Responses to “Evangelical Leaders and the NAR: What Gives?”

  1. Lindsay Says:

    At the risk of being called a conspiracy theorist, I believe it is all happening in fulfilment of the New Testament prophecies of end times apostasy.  But to try and see into the mind of the likes of Josh McDowell, etc, I can only assume his intentions are honourable, but misguided and seemingly deceived by the enemy who disguises himself as “an angel of light.”  We can only pray for them.  This is the kind of spiritual warfare we ought to be engaged in – not the Wagner one.

  2. Joe uk Says:

    Many are simply seduce my the popularity, wealth and visible influence that certain preachers are having on Christians and society. John 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.The lord has made it clear that this is not his world and It is better to be a individual, christian church, fellowship group of no name or reputation on earth and have your name written in the book of life.

    take good care all.

    Peace be with you.

  3. Jean Says:

    This Equivocation tactic is also used in the inter-faith movements where merging of Catholics, Protestantism, Muslim, and Hindu are being propagated and executed. Watch the new Pope… Rick Warren , John Piper and various other evangelicals asked their followers to pray for this new “humble” pope !

  4. Michael A. Feehan Says:

    Dear Friends:

    You may think me to be in a grand state of delusion. However I think our brother and sisters in the NAR are not as way out as your article makes them sound. Are you not in favor of Christians in the market place or societal spheres of influence. I rather enjoyed serving the US Government Faith Based Initiative in the White House under G.W. Bush (you may have voted for him). Many opportunities for the “Salt to Get Out of the Shaker” were afforded to us in the window of opportunity. I am familiar with Kingdom Dominion Theology. Is every single individual in the NAR an absolute Kingdom Dominion adherent ? If not – I am inclined to not paint all with a broad brush. Perhaps Josh McDowell thought of the words of Jesus “He that is not for me is against me” certain this prayer meeting was not against Christ. How about a little confidence in Josh and his long standing record of standing for Christ.

    One other item when Daniel the prophet awaited an answer to his fasting and prayer and Michael the Arch Angel was detained in a severe bout of spiritual warfare – Do you really think those demonic principalities and entities have dried up and gone away ? Do you really think that the interpretation of  a theological think tank or seminary can banish demonic power that has existed since the date-less past? The proclamation of dispensations can not annex these forces.

    Surely you do not think yourself to be so absolutely correct and right so as berate our Brother McDowell? Did you ask him what his motivation was or have you simple declared him to be blinded
    by the demonic seduction of “equivocation” ? I am deeply saddened  with such arrogance.

    Respectfully submitted
    Michael A. Feehan

  5. Lindsay Says:

    Hi Michael – Your interpretation of ‘arrogance’ in this situation seems a bit one-sided. I would like you to read the short article called ‘The Chickens Are Home to Roost’ on http://itaintthesame.wordpress.com.
    You may find some warnings you can choose to heed or otherwise.

  6. Michael A. Feehan Says:

    Hello Lindsay:

    Thank You for your kind admonitions. I did visit and read several articles on “it ain’t the same”. My comments are based in part on the thought that one must be very careful when placing ones self in the seat of correction; that is to say “correcting error in others”. Carefulness in this matter can not be understated to all who talk the souls of men, women and children seriously. As a young minister I was once preaching in the historic Baptist Temple of Brooklyn NYC. The wise old pastor pulled the enthusiastic young buck aside and cautioned him as to the perils of arrogance and the deceit of pride – for it is not as obvious as some of the deceptions that we all decry. I never forgot that evening. I had called out movements and people from Jimmy Swaygart (I think that how you spell it) to Jim Baker an beyond, it was the 80’s. My doctrine was straight their sin was wrong – I spoke on behalf of our God and His Kingdom promotion of self was not present. The old preacher cautioned me to be careful what I was taking onto myself  and to make sure in all of my doctrinal correctness and rightness is did not enter in to contempt for people.

    Ironically enough part of the 1828 Webster’s definition of “arrogance” is “contempt for other”and “taking much upon ones self”. Herein is the deception taking much on can extract strength from us that we know not until it is done. On correcting error in others; you all are obviously thinking individuals; the Bible is clear I need not qualify this issue. As a pastor appropriation of time is extremely valuable. I am very careful as to where I place my most valuable concentration of output.
    There are many things I don’t do because it might eclipse study and time with my Savior Jesus the Christ of God Almighty. I have friends that spend time watching movies, playing golf, watching sports, fishing the list goes on and on. In most of these situation there I nothing inherently evil. For me if it highly esteemed of men it is and often can be an abomination to God. For it become and intrusion on complete dedication. Review the live of the Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians that God used in the great revival in Kane Kentucky in the 1700’s. Dedication – consecration to time – effort, pursue and content. Please be careful how much time is appropriated to the tares that Jesus said grow among the wheat. Distant hoof beats resound in the land – souls are in the balance – I do mean those who are not saved. If not careful we will spend more time on each others issues, deceptions, problems, heresies and all of that; and all the while we gently moved from the central issues of Gods own heart – lost humanity. So my friends my definition of “arrogance” is actually fairly comprehensive and if you are honest about it you know – this persuasion is not one sided – its off the grid of casual thinking. May God continue to bless your lives and ministries.
    Michael A. Feehan, OM, PM   

  7. B Says:

    I think the reason why evangelicals are getting involved in NAR events and ministries is because of the equivocation factor but also because of the “supernatural” side of things. Anyone can go to one of the charismatic/third wave/NAR conferences or churches and be prayed for and experience supernatural things. I also think evangelicals are getting involved with third wave/NAR churches and ministries because the lines are being blurred and conservative evangelicals are opening themselves up to various charismatic/third wave/NAR influences. There are also popular worship bands/leaders who are pushing the supernatural/NAR stuff. Conferences are also being put on in which NAR folks are inviting people from the evangelical world to take part or be a speaker at.

  8. julie Says:

    I think the pressure to conform is too great. If you have a ministry that is your livelihood, and you are more committed to your ministry than to the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, then you must conform and you must see and be seen or your ministry may fail. You’ve got to get out there and promote yourself and your ministry in order for it to be supported and to continue. The bigger the group and the wider the tent that you can be a part of the better, or else your ministry will lack funding.

    Some leaders lack discernment; they have either bought the lie that discernment is a bad thing; or they are just naive and ignorant. they may be in ministry and not really be in the scriptures for themselves or have a good solid church where they are being regularly fed the word. It is also possible to be a pastor or a ministry leader and still be an unbeliever, oddly enough. Some have been so for years and suddenly came to true faith in Christ, after years of ministry and thinking they were Christians. This too would explain why they lack discernment. The natural man can repeat what he hears or reads, but without the Spirit of God they lack the ability to rightly divide the word, or to spot error.

  9. M. K. Says:

    The pressure to conform, perhaps not understanding the dual meanings that people use in the NAR making them sound and seem very conservative.

    When you first get into this stuff it sounds wonderful. It wasn’t till my former church got into the movement over a period of 5 years, that I began to see a shift in behaviour and I wasn’t able to really spot that some terms, mean different things to people on the inside.

    When I first heard about changing the world for Christ, who wouldn’t want that. The methods seemed fine even, get involved locally, politically, quit standing over in a Christian corner wailing that the end is near. LOL since those days, I’ve begun wailing, THE END IS NEAR!!!! 

    Get out and DO something. Be a positive agent for change. Sounds GREAT!

    And yes the NAR types also say things like you don’t have to change your eschatology. Except that the church will change round about you, and you might not, but they have. And when you look up wondering as I did, what theology did my ex pastor really believe that gave him permission to abuse people who disagreed with him in the congregation. He ended up lying about one pastor from the pulpit (I happened to be in the right place at the right time to witness the truth, and the lie).  He cleverly stole a business from another couple I knew, and he routinely excommunicated anyone who questioned his authority or methods.

    When I started digging into the teaching that lies just beneath the NAR and found Latter Rain Roots, I kept digging and I found answers in things like the 5 fold ministry, and Joel’s Army, Shepherding (headship, Covering) and other things that DID give my ex pastor “permission” to misbehave.

    The teachings that undergird this structure, aren’t immediately visible. And if you face considerable pressure to attend a big event by your publishers you might be a bit busy, preoccupied, distracted or ignorant of the implications.

    I’m sorry to hear that Josh caved but I pray he sees it for what it is, and writes about it.

  10. M. K. Says:

    My point is that anyone can be deceived. I bet none of you that haven’t been in a church like my former one can understand how a pastor can do those evil things, and nobody spots it. For YEARS! Deception is deceiving. 

    We had Cindy Jacobs to our former church 3 times while I was there. She is a NICE person, very kind and well spoken. It isn’t till you look critically and carefully at what she says, what she writes that the true picture emerges.

    I’m not excusing Josh, but I do understand having been in an abusive church for many years without a clue about what was really going on.

  11. Greg Schneider Says:

    Ms. Pivec has done a great service by clarifying this issue.

  12. Kenny Lentz Says:

    Was Dallas Willard a “traditional evangelical?”

    The following links to a rigorous critique of Dallas Willards’ theology by Bob DeWaay, titled:
    “The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and the Spiritual Disciplines”


    Further on this, I recently accessed on Scribd the Foreword and first chapter of
    The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth, co-authored by Dallas Willard and Gary Black, Jr.

    On page xvi of the Foreword written by Gary Black, Jr. appears the explicit agenda promoted by the NAR:  that is, infiltrating, “influencing” and “directing” the seven identified spheres of society that will usher in the kingdom of God on earth. 

    It strikes me, therefore, that the NAR may have appropriated the late Dallas Willard’s theology and agenda for their own.

    Btw, how is the work on your books progressing?




  13. Jerome Van Kuiken Says:

    Holly, I appreciate your desire to warn the church about unbiblical views & practices. My concern is w/ the claim in the last section of your article that the traditional evangelical view focuses on personal, not sociopolitical, transformation. What about the evangelicals of the 19th century who promoted temperance, abolition, labor & prison reform, etc.? What about Carl Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism? What about Ron Sider or Jim Wallis? What about Francis Schaeffer’s and Chuck Colson’s appeal to the Kuyperian principle that every area of life should be claimed for the Lordship of Christ? What about the entire Religious Right movement which has been so influential in US politics since Jimmy Carter’s election? I don’t think  NAR and evangelicals disagree on the goal of sociopolitical transformation; the difference lies in the means by which sociopolitical transformation is pursued. Traditional evangelicals don’t try to bind territorial spirits in order to make such transformation happen.

  14. Holly Says:


    You make a valid point. You stated:

    I don’t think NAR and evangelicals disagree on the goal of sociopolitical transformation; the difference lies in the means by which sociopolitical transformation is pursued. Traditional evangelicals don’t try to bind territorial spirits in order to make such transformation happen.

    We say essentially the same thing in our books.

  15. Steve Says:

    I think this article is much to do about nothing.  These guys are Christians.  You may not agree with everything they believe but they don’t agree with everything you believe either.  Let’s keep the main thing the Main thing.  They Preach Christ and Him crucified.  They are winning the lost.  You probably preach Christ and Him crucified and win the lost as well.  Other Christians are not the devil because they believe some things you don’t.   This is petty disputes Paul says to avoid.  Jesus said in Luke 9:49John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.”   

    The question is are you showing yourself to be for them….or are you doing the devils work of bringing strife and division where every evil things abounds.  Selah

  16. Jonathan david Says:

    The 7 Mountain Mandate was a Bill Bright vision too. Shall we beat on Mr. Bill too? There is something to be said for Christians to be powerful forces in being salt and light in this fallen world. We SHOULD be bringing change every where we go. Did not the Apostles turn the world upside down? We should be thermostats, not thermometers. God expects us to be World Changers!

    Yes there is way too many “Grand Sages and Correctors of the Brethren” pointing fingers instead of getting the logs out of their own eyes — its so sad. WE may be the ones in need of correction. Of course it’s all about being RIGHT isn’t it?

    A little humility goes a long way in acknowledging that there is some reason for disagreement and giving each other GRACE along with the truth.

    It takes courage for a Josh McDowell to not please the hardline camp to not “associate” with other groups. Polarization between camps has hurt the witness of the church. People like Josh and Zacharias have the maturity to realize you can have a clarifying dialogue with people you disagree with without being derogatory and demonizing. This is most effective — give the people credit for being able to figure out for themselves in a respectful dialogue.

    DOCTRINE: It’s important to get accurate as you can. But lets not forget the lesson of the Thirty Years War between so-called Christians. The world sees it and says: Me be a Christian? If this is Christianity, FORGET IT! Hatred and disdain for other Christians that don’t quite think like you – its a terrible thing – and guess who wins?

  17. Tyler Ramey Says:

    There is no way Josh McDowell participates in such events apart from knowing full well that he is there to influence those inside and outside the Body of Christ. Bear in mind, I’m extending wide berth to a giant within the apologetics community, and I think we ought to do so. Any assumptions that McDowell is or has been duped would be both shortsighted and uncharitable in my opinion.
    Note: I am unacquainted with any “shake out” related to McDowell’s involvement; so, please grant ME wide berth in my ignorance, if any. It’s simply a tough belief that McDowell is naive here. Short of being apprised of more information, I think Josh’s involvement has got to be strategic.

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