Anyone who has studied the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) knows how difficult it is to pin down. One reason it’s so hard to pin down the NAR is because it’s a movement. It’s not a formal organization or denomination–with an official list of beliefs, leaders or organizations. So you can’t simply go to a website and find an exhaustive list of NAR churches and teachers.
So how can you tell if a teacher is part of the NAR?
The first thing, of course, is to take a look at their teachings. They are part of the NAR if they teach that there are men and women today who are prophets and apostles, with similar authority and functions to the Old Testament prophets and Christ’s original apostles. This teaching is a dead giveaway because it contrasts sharply with the majority of Protestant Christians, who believe there are no prophets or apostles today who possess the same level of authority as the biblical prophets and apostles.
But even after looking at their teachings it still can be tricky to identify someone as part of the NAR. It’s tricky because denials of involvement with the NAR–or even knowledge of what the NAR is–are not uncommon, even from some of the movement’s most influential leaders. See examples of such denials by NAR apostles Bill Johnson and Heidi Baker in these two Christianity Today articles: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church and Miracles in Mozambique: How Mama Heidi Reaches the Abandoned. And see my responses to their denials here: Yes, Bethel Redding and Bill Johnson are part of the New Apostolic Reformation and Heidi Baker’s claim to be an apostle.
Yet, though NAR leaders may claim ignorance about the movement, they clearly have formed a mutual admiration society–publicly praising each others’ work, sharing speaking platforms, and promoting a common body of NAR teachings.
Evidence of this mutual admiration society can be seen at the OneThing conference, yesterday, at the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri. This annual conference draws thousands of young people, and many more watch online via a live webstream broadcast in eight languages. Johnson was the conference’s big draw this year. IHOP founder Mike Bickle introduced Johnson with glowing words about him and his teachings. He made it very clear that Johnson’s teachings have greatly influenced his own teachings: “He’s a dear friend. I have such affection and respect for him. … I have read his books, watched his videos, stole his material shamelessly, been instructed by the Lord through him.” Bickle went on to promote Johnson’s new book, God is Good: He’s Better Than You Think, which is selling very well on Amazon right now–thanks no doubt, in part, to Bickle’s endorsement.
After receiving such a complimentary introduction, Johnson returned the favor with his own over-the-top praise of Bickle. He said he views both Mike Bickle and Bickle’s colleague Lou Engle (a NAR prophet/apostle and former IHOP staff member) as “the two most important people alive.”
Before Johnson came to the stage, an announcement was made about a women’s conference to be held at IHOP in the spring featuring Heidi Baker.
What’s the bottom line? Even if these leaders claim they don’t know what the NAR is, or deny they are part of it, they certainly know how to identify and promote other teachers who share similar NAR visions, goals, and teachings.
You can watch recordings of the entire conference here. Johnson’s message can be found in “Session 8 Full Service.”
Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.