It’s an important question because the Assemblies of God USA and Assemblies of God organizations around the world make up the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination–representing 65 million people. Every large city in the United States–and most small towns–have at least one Assemblies of God church.
My answer to the question about the Assemblies of God’s involvement with the NAR movement is, “It depends: are you talking about where the denomination stands, officially, “on paper” or where its churches stand in actual practice?”
On paper, the denomination has rejected key NAR teachings. But, in practice, these same teachings are being promoted in many Assemblies of God churches.
The Assemblies of God USA has published a number of official statements taking stances against many NAR teachings. Here are some key NAR teachings that have been rejected by the denomination’s leadership.
- The Assemblies of God has rejected the teaching that present-day apostles and prophets should govern the church (see papers titled “Endtime Revival”, “Apostles and Prophets,” and “Prophets and Personal Prophecies“)
- The Assemblies of God has rejected the teaching that the church should work to take dominion of the earth prior to Christ’s return–a teaching known as “Kingdom Now” or “Dominion Theology” (see papers titled “Endtime Revival” and “The Kingdom of God“)
- The Assemblies of God has rejected the teaching that the end-time church will become a victorious, militant army so it can take dominion of the earth–a teaching known as “Manifest Sons of God” or “Joel’s Army” (see paper titled “Endtime Revival”)
- The Assemblies of God has rejected the teaching that Christians must identify a hierarchy of demonic spirits (also called “territorial spirits”) and wage battle against them for the gospel to advance–a teaching known as “strategic-level spiritual warfare” (see paper titled “Spiritual Warfare“)
- The Assemblies of God has rejected the teaching that spiritual gifts, such as prophesying and healing people, can be imparted by church leaders through the practice of laying their hands on people (see paper titled “Imparting of Spiritual Gifts“)
I applaud the Assemblies of God executive leaders for their biblical discernment and willingness to stand against aberrant theology.
Yet, in actual practice, these same NAR teachings are being promoted in many Assemblies of God churches.
Why is that the case? For starters, the denomination has given its assemblies great autonomy. So, the higher-ups cannot possibly have knowledge of what is being taught from every local pulpit. And, even if they did, they might be reluctant to exert a heavy hand to stop the teachings.
But I believe the local pastor is the greatest factor in determining whether or not NAR teachings are allowed into an Assemblies of God church. The pastor is the gatekeeper. So, NAR teachings will come into any church where the pastor promotes those teachings or turns a blind eye to teachings that are being promoted by members of his church.
Some Assemblies of God churches that become heavily involved in NAR teachings–such as Bethel Church in Redding, California–leave the denomination. Nonetheless, many churches that remain part of the Assemblies of God actively promote NAR teachings–even inviting NAR apostles and prophets into their churches.
So, these are my questions for you: Have you encountered NAR teachings in an Assemblies of God church? And do you know of Assemblies of God pastors who are standing against NAR teachings?
– By Holly Pivec