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THE NEW APOSTOLIC REFORMATION
An Update
 
C. Peter Wagner, Ph.D.
 
            Surprisingly, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) has recently become a topic of discussion in the political media. I noticed some mention of it in connection with Sarah Palin’s run for Vice-President, but I considered it relatively insignificant. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve posted here numerous times how brutal it was only 5-7 years ago to be an evangelical who uttered the notion that there are “apostles” today. Though there is just as much (or more) Scriptural justification to capitalize “Apostle” today as there is to capitalize “Pastor,” I’ve always been careful to use the term in the lower case so as to not exasperate the controversy.  However, people always seemed to miss that little detail.

Regarding my commentary on the “Pastoral Epistles” (Obtainable Destiny, Creation House, 2004), Dr. C. Peter Wagner mentioned me on page 78 of his book “Apostles Today” saying: “To my knowledge, the first biblical commentary that treats these epistles as apostolic rather than pastoral is Obtainable Destiny by Steve Hickey.”  While I thanked Peter for the plug, I also ducked.

But today I delight to see example after example of major evangelical church planting and mission organizations talking openly about apostolic work, apostolic teams, apostolic networks, the apostolic gifts, sending (aka apostolos), our apostolic mission, apostolic church planting.  This pic is from my recent copy of Mission Frontiers which some of you know is THE main (and strategic) evangelical missiological publication which comes from the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, CA.

You may have to squint, but the text at the bottom says: “Apostolos is a conference for apostolic young people who have already committed to expanding God’s Kingdom at the frontiers…

There is no more fitting, or Biblical, term for this frontline work of establishing kingdom outposts where there previously were none. We are all comfortable with the terms “home missionary” and “church planter” though you won’t find “missionary” or “church planter” in your concordance, or “theologian“! ((Ha! Got to love my friend Peter Wagner for his “Goodbye Theologians” article.))

The peaceable part of me wants to say let’s just do the work and stop straining gnats regarding what it’s called. However, I do think it’s critical frontline workers again recapture their identity/role/function with regard to their apostolic gifting. I’ve written elsewhere how three “apostles” entering a region must send icy chills up the spine of our fiery Adversary. I can’t imagine news of three new “pastors” in the area would be much of a threat or cause much trembling in the realms of darkness.

Leadership Journal is perhaps THE journal of journals for non-charismatic evangelical church leaders. It has its roots in Billy Graham and Christianity Today. It’s contributors are THE who’s who in the evangelical world – Willow Creek, Saddleback, etc. This was the camp that produced me, and then spit me back out when I started pointing out the Bible lists more apostles than just the Twelve.

You can imagine my delight to flip through my latest copy of Leadership Journal (Spring ’08 – it’s not online yet) to discover the issue has two feature articles saying what I’ve been saying for a dozen years (and what the New Testament has been saying for 2000 years.) Apostles exist today!!!

Really, this is nothing new. Ephesians 4:11-13 explicitly says apostles are vital to the church, and will continue to be, “UNTIL we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

For those who didn’t know there was any debate here, believe me, there is. In 2004, I wrote a book about these things (Obtainable Destiny, Creation House Press). At that time, the book was not welcome in evangelicalism. (The book is a commentary of sorts on 1, 2 Timothy and Titus which I decided to dub… the “Apostolic Epistles” instead of what we are all taught they were… “the Pastoral Epistles.”) My point was these guys were not sent out (apostolos) to be pastors and “hold people’s hands” for 30 years. They were apostles-in-training. My evangelical colleagues were okay calling me a church “planter” or a home “missionary”, but as I tried to point out, neither of those terms are found in the Bible. And to be clear, I wasn’t asking or interested to have a title attached to my name – it was about the recognition and release of the gift and its operation in the church.

I’ve come to believe the adversary doesn’t sweat much when 100 pastors is a state operate in their gifting. But the devil freaks out when 100 apostles are released in a region. Getting over our apprehensiveness with this gifting and its operation today will get us over a major hurdle in advancing the Kingdom of God in our regions.

My D. Min. studies, yes under my good friend Dr. C. Peter Wagner, led me to the conclusion that the closest thing to a church planter in the New Testament wasn’t a “pastor.” Pastors take care of sheep already in the fold. Evangelists win the lost but then they leave town. Only the apostle goes forth to establish lasting Kingdom outposts where they weren’t previously. Apostles are the pioneers, the church planters.

Suggesting such however, even just five years ago, you would have thought I was advocating we add a fourth person to the Trinity! I know there are wacko’s out there claiming to be apostles who are not. But even there, the fact that there are false apostles means there are real ones. In five more years, this will all be a non-issue and we can get on with the work of God and stop picking at each other. Here’s a quick summary of these two Leadership Journal articles:

ARTICLE #1 – Note the title/subtitle…THREE OVERLOOKED LEADERSHIP ROLES: We’re familiar with pastors and teachers, but todays world needs a leadership team that includes three biblical but forgotten functions. Here are some highlights…

If we take the five categories of church leadership from Ephesians 4:11, [we are] training leaders to be teachers and pastors for established congregations, but where [are] the evangelists, the prophets and the apostles to lead the mission of the gospel into the world… this divorce of apostles, prophets and evangelists from pastors and teachers has been disastrous for the local church and has damaged the cause of Christ and his mission.”

There is a great chart called the “Fantastic Five Diagram” which is old-school five-fold ministry stuff from the charismatic camp.

ARTICLE #2 – title/subtitle… APOSTLES TODAY? Rediscovering the gift that leaves churches and well-connected pastors in its wake. Apostles leave new churches in their wake!!! That’s it! I love the first sentence…

We all know about the apostles named Peter, Paul and John, but have you ever heard of Andronicus or Junia? Some are surprised to discover that the New Testament identifies more apostles than the twelve…

You get the idea. Evangelicals are just now discovering apostles do exist today. And, I’m thrilled! Maybe we can all work together again. And just maybe, the self-appointed, unaccountable heresy hunters will come under conviction and realize these verses are in the Bible after all.

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