NAR leaders meet with the Pope

Bickle with Pope

Mike Bickle and his wife, Diane, with Pope Francis.

Earlier this month, on June 10, leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) –including International House of Prayer founder Mike Bickle, the apostle Ché Ahn (Harvest International Ministry), and prophets Kris Vallotton (Bethel Redding) and Stacey Campbell (Wes and Stacey Campbell Ministries)–attended a private meeting with the Pope along with dozens of other Protestant leaders from North America and Europe. The NAR leaders’ participation in the meeting is troubling for a number of reasons. Here are three.

The NAR’s vast influence

First, the meeting shows that the Vatican is aware of the vast influence held by NAR apostles and prophets since, in the Roman Catholic Church’s efforts to reach out to Protestants, Vatican officials felt it necessary to include leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation. It also shows how mainstream the NAR movement has become—despite its aberrant teachings.

NAR prophets welcomed by Pope with ‘open arms’?

Second, it shows that the Pope himself is interested in making overtures to NAR leaders—and specifically to NAR prophets. The Pope made some curious statements about prophets during his opening comments of the meeting, according to Vallotton, a senior leader at Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., and an influential prophet in the NAR. Vallotton seemed personally flattered by the comments and posted them on his webpage following the meeting. He writes:

This week I had the privilege of meeting with Pope Francis. It was probably one of the highlights of my life. He was funny, warm and very spiritual.

I was invited, along with several other pastors, to a small connect forum with Pope Francis because he has a deep passion for unity among Believers – and I do mean DEEP!

We spent about two hours asking him questions about whatever was on our hearts. His opening comments blessed me. He said, “We must invite the prophets back into the church and welcome them with open arms.” I thought it was interesting that this was his opening comment. Of course, many of the pastors looked over and smiled at me.

Why would the Pope say the church must welcome prophets—including (apparently) the very NAR prophets he was addressing during the meeting—with open arms?

Bickle’s and Vallotton’s theological naiveté

Third, it seems that at least some of the NAR leaders who attended the meeting, including Bickle and Vallotton, have a deficient understanding of pertinent theological issues that divide Catholics and Protestants. Let me explain, but first look at this excerpt from the Charisma article.

According to Bickle, director of IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City, the purpose of the meeting was to engage in an ongoing dialogue about the pontiff’s views on Jesus and Christianity.

“The meeting lasted a couple of hours. They gave us the opportunity to ask questions. The meeting was very warm and personal,” Bickle told Charisma News. “I asked him about his views on the serious error and deception of universalism that claims that ‘all paths lead to God’ and other religions being saved without receiving the grace of God that only comes through Jesus. He assured me that he believes that Jesus is the only way of salvation.”

Bickle asked him again pointedly, “Is Jesus the only way of salvation?” He described Francis as “very strong” in his agreement on Christ as the Savior of the world and emphasized his love for Jesus and the Scriptures.

Roman Catholic view of salvation

 

By asking the Pope about universalism, Bickle showed that he apparently doesn’t understand the Catholic position on salvation. The Roman Catholic Church does not hold to universalism, the belief that all belief systems are equally valid (like Hinduism, Buddhism, atheism, etc.). The Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II has held a doctrine known as “inclusivism”—the belief that there’s just one way to be saved (through Jesus Christ and through the Roman Catholic Church), but explicit knowledge of Jesus Christ and a profession of faith in him are not required to experience his salvation. In other words, people of other religions can be saved by Christ—without believing in him—so long as they’re sincere. Catholic inclusivism is very different from exclusivism—the view historically held by Protestants—that salvation is available only to those who have explicitly put their trust in Christ. Catholic teaching on inclusivism offers a false hope that salvation can be experienced apart from conscious faith in Christ—a hope not held out in Scripture. As a result, inclusivism undercuts the urgency of missionary efforts to take the gospel to the unreached.

Bickle’s line of questioning the Pope leads me to believe that he doesn’t understand Catholic teaching on inclusivism. If he did understand it, he wouldn’t have asked the Pope about a different teaching—universalism. And he may not have been so satisfied with the Pope’s assurance he believes that “Jesus is the only way of salvation.” He would have realized that this statement— consistent with inclusivism—still allows for people in other religions to be saved.

A more disturbing case would be if Bickle did, indeed, understand inclusivism. In this hypothetical situation, asking the Pope about universalism (when Bickle already knew the Catholic party line) would seem to have been disingenuous. Bickle would have been giving his followers a false sense of security by suggesting that Catholic inclusivism and Protestant exclusivism are the same. Granted, that possibility is just speculation. But it’s the only way I can make sense of Bickle’s seemingly misguided questions—apart from assuming they were prompted by theological ignorance.

Such ignorance would be understandable for a layperson. But it’s inexplicable for a Christian leader with Bickle’s influence–especially for someone acting as a formal representative on behalf of Protestant Christians in dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.

Given Vallotton’s enthusiasm about Bickle’s so-called tough talk to the Pope, it seems he doesn’t understand inclusivism either. Here’s Vallotton’s description of the exchange between Bickle and the Pope.

Mike Bickle gets the “guts” award! Everything was going quite smoothly, partly because of the benign questions the pastors were asking. Then Mike stood up and asked the Pope if he believed that Jesus was the “only way” to heaven. (There have been rumors circulating that Pope Francis is a Universalist). The tension instantly rose in the room…the moderator was noticeably shaken. But the Holy Father didn’t blink an eye. He answered, “We might be surprised by who we meet in heaven. BUT the only way into heaven is through Jesus Christ. There is no other way into heaven.” We all breathed a sigh of relief!

Notice again that the Pope’s reply is completely consistent with inclusivism.

A pattern of Catholic/ NAR partnership?

This meeting with the Pope is one of a flurry of recent overtures between leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation and Catholics—all in the name of Christian unity. On April 9, at Azusa Now—an event held at the Los Angeles Coliseum that reportedly was attended by some 100,000 people—the NAR prophet Lou Engle (founder of The Call and organizer of the event) and a Catholic leader took turns kneeling on the platform and kissing each other’s foot. This symbolic act was intended to show reconciliation and unity between Christians and Catholics. According to a Christianity Today article, Engle specifically invited Catholics to the event “because he wanted to bring all followers of Christ together ‘for the purpose of unity, miracles, healing, and the proclamation of the gospel.’”

And, last December, the annual OneThing conference–hosted by Bickle’s IHOP –for the first time offered a “Catholic Ecumenical Track.” Speaking about the reason for the new track, on a video advertisement, Bickle said, “We have so much to learn from all over the body of Christ—Catholics, charismatics, non-charismatics, denominations, anyone who loves Jesus.”

Unifying all Christians under the leadership of NAR apostles and prophets is a major goal of NAR leaders. This teaching is discussed in-depth in my co-authored books, A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement.

 

Kris Vallotton (top picture) and Che Ahn (bottom picture) meet the Pope.

Vallotton meets Pope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Che Ahn meets Pope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Holly Pivec is an experienced researcher and journalist, having served as a newspaper reporter and as the managing editor of the award-winning Biola Magazine. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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10 Responses to “NAR leaders meet with the Pope”

  1. Jeff Says:

    The Protestant Reformation – Year 1517 – Sought to draw God’s people back under the authority of God’s word and out from under the authority of the papacy.

    The New Apostolic Reformation – Year 2017 – Seeks to draw God’s people back under the authority of the papacy and out from under the authority of God’s word. 

    This is all looking like a set-up for a false signs and wonders revival the likes the world has never seen. It will likely make the false revivals of the 90’s the Toronto Blessing and the Brownsville Revival look like a kid’s magic show. This may be the strong delusion God sends. 

    Here are a couple of videos relevant to the topic:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7ubsvPZbEc

  2. NotARealPerson Says:

    it should be plain and simple to even the brain dead that the roman catholic church is going to get into a partnership with the beast and anti-christ facilitated by the false prophet who many including myself believe is going to come from this very same church! why knowing that would you want to even flirt with getting involved with them? not that i am some super awesome know it all scholar mind you so i may be wrong.

  3. Terry A. Price Says:

    I ran across your website by searching about Lou Engels. I have been personally involved with these issues with friends here in Tucson, AZ. I am not deceived by this error. I am very glad to find you and see your stand on Biblical truth. It has greatly encouraged my spirit. I will be following your articles in the future. Terry A. Price

  4. John Nieder Says:

    Are you available to do a radio interview?

  5. Holly Says:

    John,

    Yes, I’d be glad to. I sent you an e-mail reply.

  6. Cathy Says:

    Compromise will be costly.  Partnering with Non Christian Pope will be costly.

  7. Vaughn Wassink Says:

    “A more disturbing case would be if Bickle did, indeed, understand inclusivism. In this hypothetical situation, asking the Pope about universalism (when Bickle already knew the Catholic party line) would seem to have been disingenuous. Bickle would have been giving his followers a false sense of security by suggesting that Catholic inclusivism and Protestant exclusivism are the same. Granted, that possibility is just speculation. But it’s the only way I can make sense of Bickle’s seemingly misguided questions—apart from assuming they were prompted by theological ignorance.”
    Excellant, thank you for writing this and pointing out the possibility for why Mike Bickle probably asked the Pope that question. I have met enough Mike Bickle and Bill Johnson followers that seem to embrace either inclusivism or universalism that I really believe that Mike Bickle wanted to give his followers “a false sense of security”.

     

  8. curt bond Says:

    I have a video of all main line denominations leaders of the US being announced by name to the pope, then they come up and kiss his ring, the end is near. These leaders have sold out their people to “the god of the world” and will spend their eternity in the lake of fire, with saten forever! Do not be deceived, many false people everywhere, wolfs in sheep clothing can not fool God!

  9. David Horvat Says:

    Could you send video or link of them kissing popes ring

  10. Sue B. Says:

    It’s obvious to true Christians everywhere that the Pope is
    NOT a man of God. It’s hard to believe
    that so-called Christian leaders fall for the LIE that the
    Pope represents God in any way. The bible says we shall know them by their fruit. This current Pope has said we don’t need Jesus to
    live a good life, or even to be saved, we just need to be “good people” The Pope himself
    is NOT saved! 
    Catholics, and others, continue to follow this mad-man. Even Catholics that once believed Jesus was the only Savior, think the Pope is infallible and
    since he said Jesus is not the only way, then it must be true.
    Without belief in Jesus there is NO salvation.
    I would go so far to say that any leader of any church
    that honors the Pope or listens to him, is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”
    and is not hearing from the Holy Spirit, but is in rebellion to God.
    And I say that unapologetically, since God says HE will NOT be mocked! How can
    two walk together unless they agree? If a pastor, priest, Pope or minister doesn’t profess
    Jesus Christ for himself, he’s not qualified to teach others the truth of the word of God, and is in danger of hearing those words “…..Away from me, I never knew you!” 

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