Ope Brief aan C. Peter Wagner van die NAR

Prof. Johan Malan, Mosselbaai (2011.08.24)

(Die oorspronklike Engelse weergawe van hierdie artikel kan gelees word op Sandy Simpson se webblad by www.deceptioninthechurch.com/page2.html )

Geagte Peter

Ek rig hierdie skrywer aan jou in reaksie op jou artikel: The New Apostolic Reformation: an Update (Aug. 19, 2011).

Evangeliese Christene oral, maar veral ook hier in Suid-Afrika, moet van jou verskil weens: (a) jou misleidende voorstelling van die NAR (Nuwe Apostoliese Reformasie) as n beweging wat “al die standaard klassieke stellings van die Christelike leer” onderskryf; (b) die valse verwagtings wat jy oor die openbaring van God se koninkryk skep deur, onder andere, n onbybelse vorm van strategiese geestelike oorlogvoering te gebruik; (c) omdat jy Bybelse profesieë oor die eindtyd heeltemal negeer; en (d) omdat jy n Christelike hervorming assosieer met die Onafhanklike Kerkbeweging in Afrika.

Ek sal hierdie vier besware kortliks verduidelik:

Geen ware Christelike ortodoksie nie

Jy maak op grond van die volgende stelling aanspraak op Christelike ortodoksie: “Ons handhaaf die basiese stellings van die Kerkhervorming: die gesag van die Skrif, regverdigmaking deur geloof, asook die priesterskap van alle gelowiges.” Indien dit waarlik die geval was, sou julle nie so swaar geleun het op nuwe openbarings deur sogenaamde “apostels” nie. In die Wikipedia-artikel, Five Solas, word Skrifgesag só verduidelik: “Sola Scriptura is die leerstelling dat die Bybel die enigste geïnspireerde en gesaghebbende Woord van God is, die enigste bron vir Christelike dogma, en dit is toeganklik vir almal – m.a.w. dit is duidelik en selfverklarend.”

Baie soos die pous in die RKK, huldig julle egter die siening dat apostels tot die Bybel mag toevoeg. Jy sê: “[God] openbaar ook nuwe dinge aan die profete”, en dat hierdie nuwe openbarings bykomstig tot die Bybel is. Hoe kan jy die laaste en baie ernstige waarskuwing in die Bybel aan almal wat die reël van Sola Scriptura minag, eenkant toe stoot? Die Here sê: “As iemand by hierdie dinge byvoeg, dan sal God oor hom die plae byvoeg waarvan in hierdie boek geskrywe is” (Op. 22:18; vgl. Deut. 4:2; Spr. 30:6).

Afgesien van die twyfelagtige nuwe openbarings aan sogenaamde apostels, kan die amp van apostels en profete in die tydperk ná die volle openbaring van God aan die mensdom deur sy Woord, ook bevraagteken word. Jy haal Efésiërs 4:11-12 as regverdiging vir hierdie ampte aan, maar dit het net op die vroeë kerk betrekking gehad toe die Here nog nie deur sy ten volle geopenbaarde Woord tot hulle gespreek het nie. Jy mag daarby baat om Harold W. Hoehner se kommentaar oor hierdie verse te lees in die Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, (reds. John Walvoord & Roy Zuck; bl. 634-635). Hy sê onder andere:

“Die apostels het die Twaalf ingesluit, wat die apostelskap verkry het omdat hulle saam met Christus was (Hand. 1:21-22) en ook deur Hom aangestel is (dit het Paulus ook ingesluit; 1 Kor. 15:8-9; Gal. 1:1; 2:6-9). Die benaming ‘apostels’ het egter ook andere ingesluit wat as apostels erken is, bv. Jakobus (1 Kor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19), Barnabas (Hand. 14:4, 14; 1 Kor. 9:6), Andronícus en Júnias (Rom. 16:7), moontlik ook Silas en Timótheüs (1 Thess. 1:1; 2:7), en Apollos (1 Kor. 4:6, 9). Hierdie laasgenoemde groep het die gawe van apostelskap gehad, maar nie die amp van apostel soos wat die Twaalf en Paulus gehad het nie. ... Hulle het God se wil aan die kerk geopenbaar toe die Bybelse kanon nog onvolledig was. Omdat die apostels en profete as grondlêers n basiese rol gehad het om te vervul, het hulle nie ná die eerste geslag van gelowiges voortbestaan nie.”

Om in die huidige tyd ook sulke ampte in te stel, lei net na valse, buite-Bybelse openbarings, en dit laat valse hoop ontstaan oor die fisiese openbaring van n Christelike koninkryk op aarde tydens die kerkbedeling.

Valse verwagtings van ’n koninkryk

Die NAR lewer duidelike bewys van afwykings van die Bybelse beskrywing van die Christelike lewe, wat behels dat ons moet skyn soos ligte in n vinnig vervallende wêreld. Om deur die wêreld gehaat en vervolg te word, is nie die ondervinding van kragtelose Christene wat sonder n koninkryksvisie is nie, maar eerder die ervaring van toegewyde Christene wat in die krag van die Heilige Gees lewe en nie huiwer om die boosheid van n verdorwe wêreld en n misleide kerk aan te spreek nie. Diegene wat n situasie van hemel op aarde verwag, soos wat jy dit duidelik in jou artikel stel, is totaal in botsing met die Bybelse beskrywing van n vyandige wêreld waarin die kerk sy roeping tot reg aan die einde moet vervul.

Van watter nut is dit om ongegronde verwagtings te skep dat Satan se vestings verbreek kan word deur sekere metodes van geestelike oorlogvoering toe te pas, en daardeur hele stede, lande en uiteindelik die hele wêreld, van bose invloede te bevry? Wat het ná al die misleidende pogings gebeur om sulke operasies uit te voer? Wat het van jou eie toer na Turkye baie jare gelede geword, om die vestings van n valse godsdiens in daardie land af te breek, en dan die land tot n bevryde basis te verklaar vanwaar groot gebiede van Asië geëvangeliseer sou word?

Verskeie sulke pogings is al in Suid-Afrika uitgevoer, maar niks het verander nie. Daar is in werklikheid geen alternatief vir die harde werk deur predikers, sendelinge, asook gewone Christene, om die evangelie van verlossing aan n verloregaande wêreld te verkondig nie. Ons moet altyd geloof hê om resultate te verwag, maar ook besef dat die smal pad smal sal bly en dat die meeste mense op die breë pad sal volhard omdat hulle die duisternis liewer het as die lig.

Die ignorering van Bybelse profesieë

n Ander belangrike punt van kritiek teen die NAR is dat hulle Bybelse profesieë, veral dié oor die eindtyd, gladnie in ag neem nie en werklikheid probeer om dit verkeerd te bewys. Waarom neem die NAR nie sake in ag soos die toename in goddeloosheid, insluitend geestelike misleiding wat bevorder word deur valse profete wat groot tekens en wonders doen om selfs die uitverkorenes daarmee te mislei nie? Die klaarblyklike rede vir hulle stilswye hieroor is omdat die NAR die tekens en wonders deur valse profete aanvaar.

Baie ander temas in Bybelse profesieë word geïgnoreer – onder andere die opkomende antichristelike wêreldorde wat nog voor die wederkoms van Christus op n ten volle geopenbaarde koninkryk van Satan op aarde gaan uitloop. Hierdie koninkryk sal onder die bewind van die Antichris en die valse profeet staan, en geen vorm van geestelike oorlogvoering sal hulle openbaring verhoed nie. Die enigste manier om hulle skrikbewind te ontsnap, is om voorbereidings te tref en geestelik waardig te wees om die verdrukking deur middel van die wegraping te ontvlug (Luk. 21:36).

Verkondig jy die belofte van die wegraping aan gelowiges? Ek twyfel, want jy sê baie duidelik dat jy nie n negatiewe scenario vir die toekoms huldig wat in n groot verdrukking gaan eindig nie. Indien jy nie die feit van n verslegtende wêreld volkome erken nie, is jy nie alleen uit voeling met die Bybel nie, maar effektief besig om dit deur middel van buite-Bybelse openbarings te probeer oorskryf.

Wil jy nie ter wille van jouself, asook diegene wat jou navolg, jou posisie heroorweeg en na die Bybel terugkeer deur die reël van Sola Scriptura te eerbiedig nie? Die koninkrykshervormings wat jy in gedagte het, geld slegs ten opsigte van die komende bedeling van Christus se duisendjarige vrederyk op aarde – nie vir die kerkbedeling nie.

Net Christus kan die Antichris en sy valse profete vernietig en ook die duiwel bind sodat hy die nasies nie meer kan verlei nie. Dit sal egter eers in die dag van die Here gebeur, wat die tyd is wat vir goddelike oordele bepaal is. Op die oomblik is ons steeds in die tyd van genade wanneer die wat vuil is, vuiler sal word, terwyl die heiliges opgeroep word om heiliger te word (Op. 22:11).

Jou assosiasie met die onafhanklike kerke in Afrika

Ek was baie verbaas om jou stelling te lees dat “die wortels van die NAR teruggaan na die begin van die beweging vir onafhanklike kerke in Afrika in 1900...” Hoe kan julle hoegenaamd daarop aanspraak maak om Bybels in leerstelling en gebruike te wees indien julle wortels teruggaan na n beweging wat duidelik kompromie met aspekte van Afrika se heidense kulture maak? n Mens hoef slegs die naam van hierdie beweging te Google om n rykdom van inligting oor hulle te verkry. In hulle artikel African Initiated Church sê Wikipedia die volgende oor hierdie beweging:

n African Initiated Church is enige van n aantal Christelike kerke wat onafhanklik in Afrika deur Afrikane gestig is, en nie deur sendelinge uit n ander kontinent nie. In hierdie kerke is daar n sinkretistiese verbintenis tussen die Christendom en een of meer gebruike uit die stamstelsel in Afrika.

“Sekere geleerdes beweer dat die onafhanklike kerke of godsdienstige bewegings dui op vermenging tussen aspekte van die Christelike geloof en die tradisionele godsdienste van Afrika, maar dat die graad waarin dit gebeur, verskil van een kerk tot n ander ... Hierdie kerke het gewoonlik ontstaan uit n proses van kultuurvermenging tussen die tradisionele gelowe van Afrika en die Protestantse Christendom...

“Die aanklag van sinkretisme dui op n onsuiwer en oppervlakkige vorm van die Christendom wat daarop ingestel is om ouer kulturele gebruike en opvattings in stand te hou...

“Gedurende die koloniale tydperk was baie van die swart bekeerlinge na die Christendom nie in staat om hulle eie geloof met dié van hulle kerkleiers te versoen nie, en het gevolglik van hulle moederkerke af weggebreek. Die redes vir hierdie afstigting was gewoonlik: polities, in n poging om blanke beheer vry te spring... of kultureel, in n poging om die Christelike geloof binne die verband van n Afrika lewens- en wêreld beskouing te akkommodeer.

“Sekere van die onafhanklike kerke in Afrika wat deur sterk leierskap gekenmerk word, word deur navorsers as Messiaans beskryf. ... Kerke wat as Messiaans beskou word, het n duidelike fokus op die krag en heiligheid van hulle leiers. Die volgelinge is daarvan oortuig dat sulke leiers van Christus se eienskappe besit. Kerke wat as Messiaans beskryf word, sluit die Zion Christian Church in met sy hoofkwartier in die Limpopo Provinsie van Suid-Afrika.” (Einde van aanhaling).

Uit my eie waarnemings kan ek hierdie bevindings bevestig. Indien enige vinnig groeiende kerkbeweging deur die NAR aanvaar word in sy poging om die hele wêreld te verteenwoordig, te verander en uiteindelik te regeer, dan word die deur wyd oopgemaak vir leerstellige kompromie en ook alle soorte valse profete – insluitend dié wat van ‘geestelike wysheid’ gebruik maak wat hoegenaamd nie Christelik is nie.

Daar is hopelik nog baie evangeliese Christene wat nie meelopers van die NAR is nie. Hierdie beweging is in n verkeerde rigting op pad en dit is gevaarlik om onder hulle navolgers getel te word.

Peter, die jare stap vir albei van ons aan. Dit is dalk nie meer baie lank voordat ons voor die regterstoel van Christus rekenskap van ons lewens sal moet gee nie. Ons sal beoordeel word volgens die beginsels van God se Woord soos wat Hy dit aan sy profete geopenbaar het. Die laaste een van hulle was Johannes, wat op die verlate eiland van Patmos sy gesigte oor die eindtyd gehad het. Alle Bybelse openbarings het in die jaar 95 n.C. geëindig, maar hulle is vandag nog net so toepaslik soos altyd.

                                                            Staande op die Rots

                                                            Prof. Johan Malan

 

Addendum

Die volgende is n uittreksel uit die artikel van Peter Wagner, na aanleiding waarvan bogenoemde Ope Brief geskryf is. Hieruit is dit baie duidelik dat die NAR koninkryksteologie (dominionisme) voorstaan, wat daarop gerig is om God se koninkryk nog voor die wederkoms van Christus sigbaar op aarde te openbaar. Hulle is ook baie sterk op die ekumeniese beweging en kerkeenheid ingestel, vandaar hulle vroeëre benaming as die “Postdenominatiewe Reformasie”. Hulle het n groot voorliefde vir interkerklike massasaamtrekke, waaronder die Transformasiebeweging hoog aangeslaan word:

The New Apostolic Reformation: an Update

By C. Peter Wagner, Ph.D. (19 Augustus 2011)

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is definitely not a cult. Those who affiliate with it believe the Apostles' Creed and all the standard classic statements of Christian doctrine. It will surprise some to know that the NAR embraces the largest non-Catholic segment of world Christianity. It is also the fastest growing segment, the only segment of Christianity currently growing faster than the world population and faster than Islam. Christianity is booming now in the Global South which includes sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and large parts of Asia. Most of the new churches in the Global South, even including many which belong to denominations, would comfortably fit the NAR template.

The NAR represents the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation. This is not a doctrinal change. We adhere to the major tenets of the Reformation: the authority of Scripture, justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers. But the quality of church life, the governance of the church, the worship, the theology of prayer, the missional goals, the optimistic vision for the future, and other features, constitute quite a change from traditional Protestantism.

The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader. I have been called the "founder," but this is not the case. One reason I might be seen as an "intellectual godfather" is that I might have been the first to observe the movement, give a name to it, and describe its characteristics as I saw them. When this began to come together through my research in 1993, I was Professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, where I taught for 30 years. The roots of the NAR go back to the beginning of the African Independent Church Movement in 1900, the Chinese House Church Movement beginning in 1976, the U.S. Independent Charismatic Movement beginning in the 1970s and the Latin American Grassroots Church Movement beginning around the same time. I was neither the founder nor a member of any of these movements, I was simply a professor who observed that they were the fastest growing churches in their respective regions and that they had a number of common characteristics.

If I was going to write about this phenomenal move of the Holy Spirit, I knew I had to give it a name. I tried "Postdenominational" but soon dropped it because of the objections of many of my friends who were denominational executives. Then, in 1994, I tested "New Apostolic Reformation." "Reformation" because the movement matched the Protestant Reformation in world impact; "Apostolic" because of all the changes the most radical one was apostolic governance, which I'll explain in due time; and "New" because several churches and denominations already carried the name "apostolic," but they did not fit the NAR pattern. Other names of this movement which are more or less synonymous with NAR have been "Neopentecostal," "Neocharismatic," "Independent," or "Nondenominational."

I am rather fascinated at the lists of individuals whom the media glibly connects with the NAR. I'm sure that some of them wouldn't even recognize the term. In many cases, however, they would fit the NAR template, but since the NAR has no membership list they themselves would need to say whether they consider themselves affiliated or not.

For those who might be interested in such things, the books I have written related to NAR include The New Apostolic Churches (1998); Churchquake! (1999); Apostles and Prophets (2000), Changing Church (2004); and Apostles Today (2006). These are all available on amazon.com.

Characteristics of NAR

Apostolic governance. As I mentioned before, this is probably the most radical change. I take literally St. Paul's words that Jesus, at His ascension into heaven, "gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry" (Ephesians 4:11-12). Most of traditional Christianity accepts evangelists, pastors, and teachers, but not apostles and prophets. I think that all five are given to be active in churches today. In fact, St. Paul goes on to say, "And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers..." (1 Corinthians 12:28). This does not describe a hierarchy, but a divine order. Apostles are first in that order.

I strongly object to journalists using the adjective "self-appointed" or "self-declared" when referring to apostles. No true apostle is self-appointed. First of all, they are gifted by God for that ministry. Secondly, the gift and its fruit are recognized by peers and the apostle is "set in" or "commissioned" to the office of apostle by other respected and qualified leaders.

The office of prophet. Prophets are prominent in the Bible, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. As we just saw above, apostles are first and prophets are second. Every apostle needs alignment with prophets and every prophet needs apostolic alignment. One of the reasons why both should be active in our churches today is that the Bible says, "Surely God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). And also: "Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets and you shall prosper" (2 Chronicles 20:20). I want to prosper and I want you to prosper.

Dominionism.   This refers to the desire that some of my friends and I have to follow Jesus and do what He wants. One of the things He does want He taught us to pray for in the Lord's Prayer: "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." This means that we do our best to see that what we know is characteristic of heaven work its way into the warp and woof of our society here on earth. Think of heaven: no injustice, no poverty, righteousness, peace, prosperity, no disease, love, no corruption, no crime, no misery, no racism, and I could go on. Wouldn't you like your city to display those characteristics?

But where does dominion come in? On the first page of the Bible, God told Adam and Eve to "fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, etc." (Genesis 1:28). Adam, Eve, and the whole human race were to take dominion over the rest of creation, but Satan entered the picture, succeeded in usurping Adam's dominion for himself and became what Jesus calls "the ruler of this world" (John 14:30). When Jesus came, he brought the kingdom of God and He expects His kingdom-minded people to take whatever action is needed to push back the long-standing kingdom of Satan and bring the peace and prosperity of His kingdom here on earth. This is what we mean by dominionism.

A theocracy. The usual meaning of theocracy is that a nation is run by authorized representatives of the church or its functional religious equivalent. Everyone I know in NAR would absolutely reject this idea, thinking back to Constantine's failed experiment or some of the oppressive Islamic governments today. The way to achieve dominion is not to become "America's Taliban," but rather to have kingdom-minded people in every one of the Seven Mountains: Religion, Family, Education, Government, Media, Arts & Entertainment, and Business so that they can use their influence to create an environment in which the blessings and prosperity of the Kingdom of God can permeate all areas of society.

Extra-biblical revelation. Some object to the notion that God communicates directly with us, supposing that everything that God wanted to reveal He revealed in the Bible. This cannot be true, however, because there is nothing in the Bible that says it has 66 books. It actually took God a couple of hundred years to reveal to the church which writings should be included in the Bible and which should not. That is extra-biblical revelation. Even so, Catholics and Protestants still disagree on the number. Beyond that, I believe that prayer is two way, we speak to God and expect Him to speak with us. We can hear God's voice. He also reveals new things to prophets as we have seen. The one major rule governing any new revelation from God is that it cannot contradict what has already been written in the Bible. It may supplement it, however.

Supernatural signs and wonders. I have a hard time understanding why some include this in their list of "heresies." Whenever Jesus sent out His disciples he told them to heal the sick and cast out demons. Why we should expect that He has anything else in mind for us today is puzzling. True, this still pulls some traditionalists out of their comfort zones, but that just goes with the territory. One critic claimed that the NAR has excessive fixation on Satan and demonic spirits. This is purely a judgment call, and it may only mean that we cast out more demons than they do. So what?

Relational Structures

Some of the authors I read expressed certain frustrations because they found it difficult to get their arms around the NAR. They couldn't find a top leader or even a leadership team. There was no newsletter. The NAR didn't have an annual meeting. There was no printed doctrinal statement or code of ethics. This was very different from dealing with traditional denominations. The reason behind this is that, whereas denominations are legal structures, the NAR is a relational structure. Everyone is related to, or aligned, with an apostle or apostles. This alignment is voluntary. There is no legal tie that binds it. In fact, some have dual alignment or multiple alignment. Apostles are not in competition with each other, they are in cahoots. They do not seek the best for themselves, but for those who choose to align with them. If the spotlight comes on them, they will accept it, but they do not seek it.

The key to this? The mutual and overriding desire that "Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"