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My interview with the Naked Bible Podcast

October 3rd, 2017 | 12 Comments | Posted in Miscellaneous

naked bible podcast logoDr. Michael Heiser, of the Naked Bible Podcast, recently interviewed me about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Topics we addressed included defining NAR and explaining exactly what distinguishes NAR from other groups and movements, including Pentecostals, charismatics, the Vineyard movement, and the signs and wonders movement. We also discussed ways to help people who are caught up in NAR teachings. Listen to the podcast here.

Here’s a description of the episode from the Naked Bible Podcast website.

What is the New Apostolic Reformation, with Holly Pivec

The New Apostolic Reformation seems to quite clearly justify labeling it a movement or denomination. Millions of people around the world are part of its network of churches. However, many NAR leaders and advocates deny that it’s a denomination or movement. Many Christians who are attracted by NAR teachings and practices have no idea that something called the NAR even exists. For those aware of its influence and presence within Christianity, the NAR has branded itself as representing the return of authoritative apostles and prophets to the modern church, complete with miracles such as healing and raising the dead. On this episode, we talk to Holly Pivec, and authority on the NAR, to learn what it is, what its defining characteristics are, and how we should think about its teachings.


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.

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12 Responses to “My interview with the Naked Bible Podcast”

  1. Joaquin Says:

    Is very important in spanish your comentary.Much christians hispanic need that now.Bless

  2. kadri liisa Says:

    I finished listening it now….and i have some questions. In that show you are critical towards NAR supernatural stuff….
    But it is biblical to experience angelic visits, visions,dreams etc NT is full of it by the way.

  3. Holly Says:

    Kadri, in NAR the movement’s apostles and prophets claim they are revealing new teachings and practices that will allow people to gain supernatural powers and experience the supernatural frequently. The idea that NAR apostles and prophets hold the keys (i.e., divine revelation) necessary to experiencing the supernatural is specifically what I was critiquing.

  4. Jonathan Says:

    I listened to the podcast and liked it a lot. One thing jumped out at me in particular and that is when Holly was saying about how the 24/7 prayer rooms are intended to be the locations from which the faithful will call down the plagues from God on the world of the ungodly. These end-times prayer rooms sound like the “inner rooms” or “secret chambers” Jesus spoke about in Matt 24. And He mentions these in the immediate context warning about false prophets and false miracles!

    Matt 24:24-26
    “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”

    Then what about verse 28, the carcase and the eagles. Isn’t eagle a symbol of the prophet and perhaps also the false prophet? and carcase sounds like the body of sin not the spiritually alive, the tares and not the wheat.

  5. BMO Says:

    Hey Holly,

    Listened to the podcast and have a few observations.  I’m pretty convinced that something is being lost in translation between what conservative Christians see when they look at these churches/schools and what these churches/schools actually believe and do.  Many of the terms you have identified in the movement are based on passages of Scripture interpreted differently than conservative theologians.
    Some examples:
    “Pulling Heaven to earth” is just a hip way of taking a more active interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer of “on earth as it is in Heaven”.  The reasoning is pretty straightforward under this interpretation: there isn’t sickness in Heaven so let’s pray that God would remove this sickness here on earth.
    Raising the dead is a literal continuation of the way Jesus told His disciples to do ministry.  He told both the 12 and the 72 to heal the sick and raise the dead in their proclamation of the Gospel.  He then said in the Great Commission that His disciples must teach their disciples to obey everything He commanded.  Healing the sick and raising the dead is part of “everything”.  Schools that teach disciples of Jesus to do these things are literally attempting to obey Scripture.
    Treasure Hunting evangelism is simply asking God to lead as He did in Acts 9.  It’s simply saying “God, I want you to lead me to your lost treasure.  Please give me direction to those who need to hear of Jesus’ love.”
    Supernatural powers seems to be the rug that many people sweep the charismatic gifts of the Spirit under.  Being taught how to “gain supernatural powers” is basically being taught how to practice the charismatic gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12.  Miracles is listed as one of the gifts so “supernatural powers” could possibly be a biblical expression of this gift.
    I don’t agree with everything I’ve heard from the movement.  But, I also don’t agree with the degree of alarm expressed against this movement.  Yes there are some unbiblical excesses that need to be corrected.  But many of the things you identified in the discussion are clear passages of Scripture just interpreted differently from mainline scholars.

    If you sit back and think things through from their interpretation of some key passages, a lot of this stuff “clicks” and makes sense.  The menacing aspect disappears and you can see why they are doing what they are doing and teaching what they are teaching.  I don’t think it is fair to say that it is “error”, deception, or “demonic” (as someone else labelled it in another thread) to hold a different interpretation of Scripture on areas outside of the “main and plain”.

  6. Gene l Says:

    ….OF COURSE, a lot of what you see and hear is going to ‘ring true’!  Satan knows the Bible, and he’s the greatest counterfeiter there ever was!  He is a defeated foe, and all he has left is to dissuade as many Christians (and ‘would be ‘ Christians) before his time is up! 
        These self-proclaimed prophets & apostles, etc. WILL do many wonderful things….but just like when Jesus walked this earth,  He will tell them, “depart from me you evil doers, I NEVER KNEW YOU! ”
        People, DO NOT FOLLOW THESE ‘BLIND GUIDES’!!(and fall in a ditch with them!).
        God bless you and your work, Holly.  Keep the Faith; and never give up!

  7. Preferring the Narrow Street Says:

    I’ve been thinking about what BMO wrote for a few days now and I have to agree with him that most Christians becoming involved with the teachings of this movement look at the “new teachings” the way that BMO presented them above.  Most of the Christians that I have known who are part of a NAR influenced church believe that they are passionately pursuing Christ in an exciting new way.  And it is a way which is giving them rewarding spiritual experiences to validate what they are being taught.  But there is more to the story…

    Many of the leading NAR organizations and “prophets” come right out and admit that they have been “rescuing” spiritual practices from pagan religion, New Age and the occult and “restoring” them to the church.  They state that the church has not been “victorious” because it has lost these practices. (See Bethel book, Physics of Heaven by Franklin and Davis and Communion With God by Virkler.)

    Bethel even has a “Research and Development” department dedicated to investigating non-Christian spiritual practices to find what we have “lost”.  They reason that the devil is a counterfeiter, so they should be able to look for the practices that he uses effectively in non-Christian systems and “redeem them” for God’s Kingdom. 

    These practices are then rewritten with Christian terminology and are taught to the students at their School of Supernatural Ministry(s) and also marketed to the church-at-large in any way that they can.

    So instead of praying that the Lord would lead you to someone with whom you should share the gospel with by using the brain, heart and Scriptures that God has given to us to discern with, in “Treasure Hunting”,  they pray for clues and listen for a voice to tell them details or wait for pictures that come to their minds.  These are psychic divination practices of clairvoyance and clairaudience.  We have been forbidden by God to learn and use the practices of the pagan nations.  (Dt. 18 & 12; 1Cor. 10 & Gal. 5)  

    But when our “hip” friends who seem to have a lot going for them spiritually, invite us to participate in a new method of evangelism, we go and brush aside the “red flags” we may sense as we see what our friends are enthusiastically doing.

    The charismatic and Pentecostal churches do not have the “corner of the market” on spiritual gifts!  Who is to say that these gifts don’t show up in “non-charismatic” churches, but actually do, in different ways than we have been taught to think of them?  These gifts are given by God to whom ever He wills, whenever He wants in order to build up the Body for the advancement of His Kingdom. 

    The narrow definition that they have of these gifts is not Scriptural and neither are the methods that they teach!  Spiritual gifts are not skills or methods that can be taught.  It is the occult counterfeit that can be taught.  This is particularly easy to see when you examine how prophesy and tongues occur in non-Christian religious practice.  For example: the Way International teaches their followers to repeat syllables until they “get their language” which is exactly how I have seen ecstatic utterance taught by NAR leaders to church members.

    We are to teach people to obey everything that Jesus commanded.  We are also to pray and study to understand the Scripture so we know what to teach when.  One of the times Jesus sent the Disciples out to preach the Good News he told them to take a sword.  Another time He told them that they weren’t to take it.  So which is it?  Are we to take one or not?  The point is, the fact that Jesus told a group of people to do something at one time, does not make it a normative command for everyone at all times.  We are specifically instructed to do what we are supposed to do–if we take the time to figure out what those things are.  The problem is, that no one wants to obey what He has given specific instructions about because they seem mundane and ordinary.  Like helping orphans and widows in their distress.  This is why the signs and wonders obsession actually makes our faith futile and ensnares us into spiritual adultery.

    I find it interesting that when NAR people teach the “pulling Heaven down” doctrine, using the Lord’s prayer, that they don’t ever try to eliminate marriage.  Marriage doesn’t occur in Heaven either!  The logic does not follow through.

    The Lord’s Prayer is teaching us to ask that His will would be done.  The NAR have decided that they know what God’s will is! That sickness and death is not God’s will.  Granted, it is not what He originally intended for us.  But mankind chose it when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, even though He warned us what would come.  Sickness and death are the consequence of sin (Genesis 3).  And our amazing God found a way to use these things to bring us to Himself and to make us more Christlike.  There is nothing like suffering to bring us to a place of humility before Him.  He blesses the poor in spirit, but is opposed to the proud.

  8. Preferring the Narrow Street Says:

    After rereading what I wrote last night, I realize that I did not mention that when I have been involved in Treasure Hunting, there are precious few “evangelists” who mention sin or Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.  It is usually some “nicer” message about God loving them, and wanting to pray for their healing or for miraculous provision in some other way.  And this is definitely the MAIN way their faith becomes futile: spiritual experiences and signs and wonders take center stage over Christ and Him crucified.

  9. BMO Says:

    Hey Narrow Street – thanks for the thoughtful response.  Just a few comments.
    I believe that much of the misunderstandings between these two sides come from a different view regarding how to read and apply Scripture.  For example:
    Which passages of Scripture are prescriptive and which are descriptive?  Example: Is the Book of Acts just a description of the Church immediately following Pentecost, or is that the model for Christians to follow?
    Is the Bible a book of exceptions or norms?  Example: should we seek to be like Paul when he says that he preached the Gospel fully through signs and wonders (Romans 15:19-20) and the power of the Spirit rather than his wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:4), or was that just for a certain time in Biblical history?
    Many of these “NAR” churches likely would answer both of these questions radically different from the authors and commentators on this website.  I believe we fall into error when we think that our answers to the above questions are more valid or correct than their answers to the above questions since there is no Scripture which definitively addresses these.  There are no addendums to the Book that say, “oh yeah, healing the sick and raising the dead was JUST for the Apostolic Age, so cool it 30 years after the Canon is closed”.  And this is the crux of this debate.
    “…in “Treasure Hunting”, they pray for clues and listen for a voice to tell them details or wait for pictures that come to their minds.  These are psychic divination practices of clairvoyance and clairaudience.”
    Assume for a moment that the gift “Words of Knowledge” listed in 1 Corinthians 12 is a piece of information given to you by God that you could not have known from any other means.  Also assume that in Luke 11:13 when God says He gives the Spirit to those who ask, gifts and manifestations of the Spirit are included in the promise.  Under this interpretation of the gift and promise, then Treasure Hunting is simply listening for the Holy Spirit to give words of knowledge to reach the lost.  Or to abstract it even further, it is attempting to partner with the Holy Spirit to reach the lost.
    Also, think through your implication of calling this divination.  Why would Satan help evangelists go out and pray for people in the name of Jesus?  What benefit could Satan possibly have by empowering the “deceived” to go and attempt to further Christ’s name?
    I’m sure there are crazies out there who do weird things in the name of Christianity.  But if someone’s heart is to be tangibly led by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:14) to further the Gospel and they do so through Treasure Hunting, then this is well within Scriptural boundaries and precedent.
    “I did not mention that when I have been involved in Treasure Hunting, there are precious few “evangelists” who mention sin or Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.”
    This is a reflection both of the belief system of the people you went with and the state of the person in need, not a reflection of the method of evangelism.  Also, it may be worth looking into how Paul spoke in Acts 17.  Yes, there was a message of repentance (29) – but it came after Paul praised them (22) and warmed their hearts by letting them know that God was near and could be found through seeking (27).
    Missiologists have something called the Engel Scale which basically details the process people go through to becoming a believer.  Any form of evangelism puts you in a situation in which you approach someone who could be anywhere on the scale.  In some situations, people need to know God is real and God is near.  In other situations, people need to be prodded into repenting and accepting Christ as savior.  Some plant, some water, and some gather.
    We have to tread softly when we criticize someone’s evangelism.  For example, Barna has found that only 31% of Evangelical Christians actually share their faith.  I personally didn’t share my faith for my first 24 years as a Christian…and I am not unusual in my Reformed denomination.  Considering that Bethel does regular Treasure Hunts in which hundreds of people hit the streets, they are probably one of the most evangelizing churches (per capita) in North America.

  10. Walker Smith Says:

    I realize now after hearing this podcast that I was “treasure hunted” by a sweet teen girl and her mom in a WAlmart store. I was in a wheel chair and when they approached me and said they wanted to wish me to feel well and have a nice day……I assumed that God had sent them to me in order to witness the plan of Salvation to them.  They did know about Jesus but nothing about repentance and the need to choose to invite Jesus into their life.  We prayed there in the store.  That was about 2 years ago and this is the first time I realized that so many people were putting themselves under the authority of these false teachers.  The premise that man can bring Heaven to earth is from Satan and in direct opposition to what is directly written in the Word of God. Revelation gives a solemn warning to anyone who adds or takes away anything from His Word. (Revelation= the revelation of JESUS CHRIST to the angel of the 7 churches.  WORD=JESUS CHRIST)

  11. Jonathan Says:

    Just read your comment and wanted to mention that I think you made a really good point when you said, “The premise that man can bring Heaven to earth is from Satan and in direct opposition to what is written in the Word of God.”

    It reminds me of the appearance of God to Job when God speaks of the wonders of creation and all the things that man does not know and cannot do and one of them is to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth!

    “Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?” Job 38:33

  12. Rusty Says:

    Hi Holly,

    I was recently reminded of this podcast when I viewed Doreen Virtue’s May 16, 2020 YouTube interview with Dr. Michael Heiser. During that interview, Dr. Heiser stated some things that sounded a bit unorthodox to me. Because I’m not really familiar with his work, I decided to research him further. I was surprised to learn that he is currently on staff at Celebration Church in Jacksonville, Florida, and is the executive director of their ministry school.

    As I live in Florida, I’m somewhat familiar with Celebration Church and would consider it a church I would not recommend to other believers. Specifically because its senior pastor, Stovall Weems, claims to have had a personal, visible, audible encounter with the resurrected Christ on Good Friday, 2018, in which he participated in a “heavenly version” of the Last Supper along with Christ’s disciples. Additionally, this church is governed by an “apostolic council” rather than a more traditional board of elders or trustees, which, to me, sets off my NAR alarm bells.

    In this podcast, Dr. Heiser seems rightly suspicious of the NAR, but his formal affiliation with Stovall Weems and Celebration Church is troubling. Are you aware of Dr. Heiser significantly changing his views about the NAR and personal encounters with Jesus since this podcast aired in September, 2017?

    (n.b. I’m aware of a recent blog post written by Dr. Heiser in response to criticisms from NARWatch Israel, in which he states he asked Stovall if he was part of the NAR before he joined the Celebration Church staff [Stovall said he wasn’t] and that Stovall has “changed quite a bit over the last two years” (presumably for the better). However, both Celebration Church’s website and their YouTube channel continue to promote Stovall’s “powerful encounter” with Jesus. So I’m still having a hard time reconciling Dr. Heiser’s views in 2017 with his affiliations today.)

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