Power To Stand Ministries Presents:
The Unsound Bytes Series #1:
C. Peter Wagner
Dr. C. Peter Wagner is:
Head “apostle” of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and presides over the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). Missiologist and coiner of the phrase “Third Wave”. President of Global Harvest Ministries. He is also the author of various “textbooks” on the NAR: The New Apostolic Churches, Church Quake!, and Apostles and Prophets; The Foundation of the Church.
(Wagner, Nat’l School of the Prophets 2000 Conference, Tape #1, Thurs., May 11, 2000 8:30AM):
“Prophets can do certain very good things on their own. No question. Apostles can do very good things on their own. But if they’re hitched together, they can change the world…Now the fundamental issue I want to talk about this morning is church government. Church government is the harness that keeps these horses together…”
What is this and where is it in Scripture?
“Now fortunately, the government of the Church began to come into place in a significant way in the 1990s. By the government of the church, I’m referring to Ephesians 4, chapter 11. The main verse for the government of the Church where it said that Jesus gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists… “
Is this when the government of the Church “began to come into place”? This is the heretical teaching that undergirds the entire new apostolic movement: Thus far, God has failed to actually found His Church or bring His gifts to the Body He has been building according to Wagner. To say that Eph. 4:11 is not in place or has only recently been realized goes against the witness and testimony of the Scriptures as well as the early church.
“Now we’ve had pastors and teachers for a long time…Evangelists have been around for a long time, but prophets and apostles are relatively newcomers on the scene and prophets began to arise and be accepted widely in the Body of Christ in the 1980s and apostles began to arise and be accepted in the Body of Christ in the 1990s. So they came into place in the last century…”
Wagner is speaking in terms of wide recognition of these offices by large segments of the church but this is little more than trend analysis and doesn’t reflect the actual state of things. In fact, the early church recognized the true apostles as authoritative from the beginning and all biblical believers today who want to be true to the Word recognize the original apostles and prophets that God used to deliver the Scriptures.
The fact that many in the Church today recognize or receive this new group today is not validation that they are truly from God. Jesus warned that the Church would be more and more corrupt in the last days and the apostles followed that line of teaching by lamenting the fact that the church would accept and put up with many heretics and false prophets in the last days. Not everything that the Body of Christ allegedly “recognizes” today is worthy of recognition.
“The whole movement based on prophets and apostles that has now emerged as a new wineskin that God is giving to the Body of Christ is called the New Apostolic Reformation…That’s what we’re in right now…”
“Folks, we here sitting in this room are members of the first generation in the history of Christianity that has the realistic potential of completing the Great Commission…So the government is in place. The harness is on…Apostles are crucial…”
“The New Apostolic Reformation is the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation…”
The term “doing church” is quite troubling because it reduces the Christian life and identity as a member of the Body into a methodology or practice rather than a tangible reality. But this is from the Church Growth Movement rhetoric that teaches marketing strategies and multiplication theorems as the key to get larger attendance and more people saved, downplaying the actual state of things which is that Christ is building His Church (Matt. 16:18) and that people are being added by the Lord (Acts 2:47). Do we really need the new apostles and prophets to “do church” right for the first time today?
Wagner begins to understand the NAR in 1993. Since the 80s Wagner and his wife collected and catalogued tons of personal prophetic words from diverse intercessors and prophetic people over the years and keep them as a reference. Their personal collection of prophecies has amassed to 104 pages single-spaced. He recounts how he became an apostle:
“How did I get the idea that I was a apostle?...As far back as I can find back in the prophetic journal, the first prophecy I ever had that used the word ‘apostle’ came from Cindy Jacobs…This was July of 1995…”
He says he keeps her picture on the inside of his Bible and trusts her prophetic gift thoroughly. At a “Voice of God” conference in Colorado, Jacobs quoted God and told Wagner that he and his wife would be likened to Abraham and Sarah in the aspects that they would be spiritual parents to many emerging. Wagner would be endowed with great authority and was dubbed an “apostle of prayer”, according to God through Jacobs. This was confirmed again that September and then in Feb. 1998 during a wild prophetic conference called “Building Foundations” in Dallas, TX. Wagner was again commissioned as an apostle by a large sword-wielding man named Charles Doolittle. He was called forward and this happened:
“All of a sudden the platform got full with a lot of prophets and intercessors…Next thing I know, I’m on my knees, and Charles Doolittle has that sword over my head. Everybody’s running around, the worship team starts playing, and here comes this word: “Even from this day forward, even from this national conference there shall be a release on your spirit, whether you want to say ‘apostle’ or not is of no effect” says God (audience laughs). "The title shall rest. The anointing shall rest. Men will give it to you. It is not something you have sought for your own. Men will place it on upon your back and upon your spirit and they will draw the apostolic from you…”
“O.K., now I knew that I was an apostle and it came prophetically; it’s a prophetic conference see? …Then I started using the term…”
Compare Wagner with Paul. Paul told the Corinthians:
“Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.” (2 Cor. 1:21).
“For even if I should boast somewhat more about our (the apostle’s) authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed.” (2 Cor. 10:8).
“Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction.” (2 Cor. 13:10).
Notable also is his greeting to the Galatians:
“Paul, an apostle (not from men or through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead…” (Gal. 1:1).
In fact, Paul introduces himself as “called by God” as an apostle in most of his letters to the churches. Read also Galatians 1:11-17 and Acts 9:1-9; 22:4-11, 15-18; 26:13-18. It’s clear from these passages that Paul’s authority and apostolic calling and verification did not come from men at all.
This is not the designation made by mere men as God seems to be telling Wagner. MEN will give it to you, MEN will tell you this and MEN will “draw the apostolic from you” whatever that means. Paul’s was a heavenly calling as was the call of the true foundational apostle’s testimonies. Wagner has not had anything in his life that near represents Gods validation of his apostolic calling. Compare Acts 9 or the validations given to the New Testament apostles and the Old Testament prophets. Which prophetic conference did Paul or Peter attend? Who wielded a sword over their heads and made these proclamations? Which prophetess confirmed the apostolic call in the Scriptures?
As is obvious from Wagner’s description, this sounds like Third Wave warfare worship time where we are given hints that it seemed less than an orderly gathering with people “running around” and the place getting hyped up. He is merely vouched for and spoken for by a group of intercessors who don’t always even prophesy correctly. This is not confirmation that holds authority for the church to receive as mandatory, much less even justifies a person to call themselves an apostle.
“In 1989, I began to understand about prophets…This is where I bring up John Wimber. Now I have to explain that John Wimber and I, Doris and me, Jon and Carol (Arnott), I mean we did a lot of track record in the Body of Christ together. John Wimber when he founded Anaheim Vineyard and the Vineyard Movement, he was my employee…”
“So I’d have my Sunday school class on Sunday nights go down to the Vineyard to get charged up and then the next Sunday they would come back to our congregational church to get discharged…”
“Every new thing that came into the Vineyard, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months later it was right there in that congregational church…”
Discernment level critical and falling. Note his early affiliations. He has been influenced by men and women involved in what became some of the blackest blight on the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements to date; the Vineyard false revival and the bizarrely unbiblical antics of the so-called “Toronto Blessing”. Jon and Carol Arnott are presiders over the Toronto Airport Vineyard where holy laughter, barking, roaring, animal mimicry, shaking and being slain in the Spirit hit an all time high in terms of participation and blasphemous behavior. Wimber’s Anaheim Vineyard Church seemed the epicenter from which some of the increasingly serious and later nonsense emerged. To claim early ties with these guys reveals a lot about Wagner’s lack of discernment. If he would be in agreement with early tragedies like these, how can he be trustworthy as someone hearing from God today in the New Apostolic Reformation?
Then in 1989, Wagner and Wimber got involved with the notorious Kansas City Prophets, pastured at the time by Mike Bickle and involved with Paul Cain. Wagner saw no problem in expanding his acceptance and involvement in the prophetic in alliance with this group from which some of the most disturbing trends and teachings have emerged.
Paul Cain meets Wimber in the midst of alleged earthquake confirmations from God, one arriving on Cain’s advent to California and one in Armenia on the day after he left. Whether this actually happened in any verifiable way or whether there is only a case here of probability we are unable to comment. However, it should be noted that these “miraculous signs” don’t confirm Cain or the Kansas City Prophets as being from God at all anyways and a close analysis of their teachings show otherwise as well. (See this article for more info).
But all this drama and the ensuing work between Cain and Wimber served to convince Wagner of the validity of foundational prophets emerging as newcomers in the end times church. Although a soon-after Cain conference was a failure according to Wagner and even caused him to doubt prophetic ministry from people like Cain and the prophets, in time, Wagner embraced these same men again as being valid from God. Any discernment present here is rapidly deteriorating as deception thickens.
Soon after he meets Cindy Jacobs and gets influenced by her prophesying and teaching. So much so that he now advocates 2 Chron. 20:20 as a sort of theme verse describing the necessity of receiving people like Bickle, Jacobs, Cain and others, which says “Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established. Believe His prophets and you shall prosper.”
Sadly, Wagner demonstrates that he doesn’t believe the words of the Lord through His biblical prophets by his adherence and promotion of so many unbiblical ideas and teachings. How can Wagner truly prosper if he rejects what the prophet Moses said concerning prophetic accuracy in Deut. 18:20-22? How can he truly prosper before God if he is advocating the new heresy of the NAR that God’s Church has been foundationless until the coming of these new apostles and prophets? Is this respect for the words of God and regard for His prophets in Scripture? I think not. Just because many in today’s undiscerning churches are following you, doesn’t mean you are prospering.
“Sadly, and I think this is changing quite rapidly, but many prophets and apostles have been losers. They do a little. They do a few good things but they never reach their potential, and a major reason they don’t is because they’re not hitched together. The winners among apostles and prophets know their mutual roles…”
Losers? Winners? Where is this competition found in the Bible? Where is anything like this in the biblical descriptions of apostles like Paul, Peter, or James? Which apostles, truly sent by God, are losers? Not only is this union not stated in the Word of God in anything like this form or fashion but we cannot forget that Wagner is advocating the re-laying of an already-laid foundation anyways, hitching together two offices that we have no reason to believe are even in existence in the Church today in the same way as then.
“Bill Hamon is a living example of both a prophet and apostle…”
Hamon advocates Latter Rain heresies so he can’t be considered a true prophet or apostle either.
“Here are the five ways that prophets and apostles are hitched together. Number 1: the prophet submits to the apostle…”
“Number 2: God speaks to the prophet…Amos 3:7 says, “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets…If I’m not hitched to prophets, I’m going to be in ignorance. I’m going to have to go on my own. I think this is God’s Plan A. I think God also has Plan Bs…and the plan B will sometimes be successful but it will never be everything that God wants it to be…”
“Number 3: The prophet speaks to the apostle…”
“Number 4: The apostle judges, evaluates, strategizes, and executes…”
“Number 5: Prophet submits to the apostle again. Now when you do those five steps folks you’ve got a winning team. You’re pulling together…”
Whatever did the church do all those years without this new anointed super-class? Without these five guidelines? The clear implication is that for centuries the churches have been in God’s Plan B; substandard and unable to be truly used in the hands of God. They only had the writings of the true Old Testament prophets, the 4 Gospels, and the New Testament epistles from the true apostles as guides for their doctrine and practice. Apparently to Wagner and others, guidance from God is only partial and insufficient unless we consult these prophetic seers today who have hitched themselves to this new group of apostles.
Especially disturbing is Wagner’s testimony about his encounter with John Paul Jackson in Feb. 1990. Anyone who has seen Jackson recently on TBN will be immediately wary after having watched him do his new thing in action; dream interpretation. It’s little more than psychic network methodology and pouring meaning into vague symbolism as expressed by concerned studio audience members. Jackson told Wagner the following message from God in 1990:
“You are now about to face the greatest challenge of your life. You are being called to help reshape the face of Christianity. You will be placed in an international area which will begin in South America’…Now that’s in the category of awesome…”
Did God really say this to Peter Wagner? Does Christianity need to be “reshaped”? Would God EVER say that or commission someone to do that especially someone who has so little discernment? This is heresy of a high degree. And, by the way, what does it mean that he will be placed in an ”international area which will begin in South America”? Even the wording is wacky.
Enter Ed Silvoso (who also incidentally and not accidentally endorses the Toronto Blessing) who joined with Wagner to start Harvest Evangelism International institute in Argentina and Wagner has the confirmation he needed. Pay no mind to the fact that this ministry and others associated with it have helped to produce and introduce such false teaching and unbiblical phenomenon en masse to South America and the rest of the world. In addition, this launched Wagner’s burgeoning book sales and series that is spreading the “gospel” of the Third Wave worldwide through published materials.
Is that truly success by God’s standards? We must keep in mind that numbers mean infinitely much in the Church Growth theorems and studies to determine what is working and how God is moving. That’s not the Bible’s criteria for success but that doesn’t stop these mushrooming market-driven pragmatic ministries.
(Wagner, Nat’l School of the Prophets 2000 Conference, Tape#14, Sat. May 13, 2000, 9:30 AM):
Message Title: Pastors and Prophets: Protocol for Explosive Ministry
Wagner calls the order of offices in Eph. 4:11 the “Big Five” of Church government.
“Eph. 2:20…’This household of God is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the Chief Cornerstone’…In traditional Christianity, this is a little bit absent from our minds, that apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church, because we have a song that we sing; “The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord” and so we think that Jesus is the foundation of the Church. It’s a good song except that Jesus never declared Himself to be the foundation of the Church. He’s foundational to everything, understand that…This Church belongs to Jesus Christ, but in terms of the government and the operation and the functioning of the Church, He didn’t say He was the foundation. He said the apostles and prophets were the foundation and He was the cornerstone…”
Much of what Wagner is saying here is correct. Jesus never used the terminology that we use in that song but the meaning is clearly there in Scripture that in a fundamental way, He is the foundation on which everything to do with the Church rests. Jesus said in Matt. 16:18,
“I will build My church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”
In addition, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that Christ was indeed the foundation of His Church:
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”( 1 Cor. 3:11).
While it is true that He is the Chief Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6-8, Matt. 21:42-44, Eph. 2:20) He is also very much the foundation because the Church is the house that the Lord builds. What the Third Wave is trying to do is build another which results in “vain labor” (Psalms 127:1), and a foolish man’s hovel on sinking sand (Matt. 7:24-27).
At any rate, and any way you slice it, Wagner and his newcomers are unwelcome to the true faith because they advocate laying a faulty second foundation which doesn’t even need to be laid because the original still stands. The original apostles and prophets of Scripture were sufficient foundational offices and functions which began the ongoing project of Jesus building His church. One would be rather daft to conclude that Christ would attempt to build a foundation on top of that which is already established. There is no case for the relevance of Wagnerian apostles/prophets here at all.
The message focus is on:
“Intercessors, which we’ve only had for 25 years…prophets that we’ve only had for 20 years and apostles that we’ve only had 10 years. See, these last 3 have appeared to be accepted by the Body of Christ in our generation. This is our generation. We lived when this happened and in terms of the whole scope of history, these three are the new kids on the block. So that is where our focus is going to be…”
Wagner is saying that widespread acceptance of these positions is the earmark of today’s radical growing Church yet he fails to prove, as does any Third Wave advocate, that these positions that so many are accepting today are valid offices and held by valid recipients. Surely these new apostles/prophets cannot be of the same origin as the original because they bring different teachings than the originals.
In terms of widespread acceptance, we must also take into account that multitudes have accepted the horrendously unbiblical deceptions of Word/Faith theology and the heresy of trying to re-lay a new foundation in the Church. Numbers of followers or affirmers is not validation that these positions should be being accepted by today’s church. In fact, these new doctrines and the paradigm shift being hailed from Wagner and associates only has a foothold in so many churches today because of the high biblical illiteracy rate among so many who sit in church today. One could conclude that if more people were committed to adherence to biblical truth and testing all things like we are urged to( 1 Thess. 5:20, 1 John 4:1-6), these new apostles and prophets would be out of their jobs and find no place to creep in among us.
“Now here’s our focus this morning. Our focus is not teachers. We’ve had them around for 2000 years. Our focus is not pastors. We’ve had them around for almost 500 years. Our focus is not evangelists. We’ve had them around for over 150 years. Our focus is intercessors that we’ve only had for 25 years…prophets that we’ve only had for 20 years or so. And apostles which we’ve only had 10 years or so. These last 3 have appeared to be accepted by the Body of Christ in our generation. And in terms of the whole scope of history, these 3 are the new kids on the block.”
Of course, there is no imperative to take Wagner’s appraisal of church history as any kind of authoritative editorial on how things actually are. But I believe we need to look at his points because he is laying a foundation for his listeners at this conference that will bolster his assertion that these new intercessors, prophets, and apostles are far greater in importance and more powerful in function than any of these ministries have ever been in history. Remember that Wagner and his crew don’t acknowledge what the Bible says about the offices of apostle and prophet being the foundation of the Church as something that has already been laid. Rather these men and women of the Third Wave are the forthcoming founders of the true Church.
Wagner then continues and introduces his next few points which center on how the “comfort zones” of the Church leaders were affected as God brought each of these five offices into play in progressive history (Again, I don’t agree with Wagner’s interpretation here at all but here’s what he says).:
“Well, number one, teachers; well, there was no problem. Everybody had a comfort zone for teachers and they were no threat. Teachers still are no threat to anybody. I pick that up when I watch Monday Night Football. When the game in the last quarter is already decided and everybody’s gone and fixing their- getting ready for bed and things like that. Everybody knows who’s going to win. And the referee makes a really close call. And, I mean, there’s a big argument down there, but the announcer says, ‘It’s a close call, but it’s academic.’ In other words, it’s irrelevant. Academics are irrelevant. I know that, I’ve been one for a long time…”
Yes, he’s joking. Or is he? It’s clear what he’s insinuating. In light of these new coming positions, the gift of teacher can’t measure up. Notice the disdain Wagner has for this gift to the Church. The gift of teacher and the ability to spell out and stand on good doctrine is anything but irrelevant and is sorely needed in today’s Church. In fact, if more people heeded good Bible teaching, Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation would be in trouble. He should try seeing what the Bible says about teachers being a gift from God to be used to equip god’s people rather than taking his cues from TV sports programs.
“Now when pastors came along, they were O.K. in the Protestant part of Christianity. The other segments of Christianity did not have pastors per se. But these pastors, even though they were O.K. in the beginning, soon became teachers, so academic thinking kicks in. Not much of a problem to the comfort zone of Protestant Christianity.”
We need to understand what Wagner considers Christianity to include. We can assume he probably includes Roman Catholicism in the definition of Christianity. Well, if you can accept Third Wave and Word-Faith teachings as “Christian” then Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses might also qualify as Christian groups. For sure, these statements are obscure and I guess all who consider themselves to be pastors, teachers, or pastor-teachers need to realize that, according to Wagner; you are clinging to positions that, unless enhanced by the new apostles and prophets will largely become irrelevant and fall behind in the coming waves of the Spirit or will radically change into something they’ve never been in the face of this “re-shaping of Christianity” Wagner has supposedly been commissioned to do.
Wagner continues addressing the past actions of evangelists in the Church like Charles Finney. He says that Finney was “Wagner Leadership Institute” material because he refused to go to seminary in his day. Concerning intercessors in the Church, he says:
“Intercessors are now prominent and recognized and it took 15-20 years to happen…except there’s still a little opposition about strategic-level, when you get confronting the principalities and powers. There’s’ still a little bit of opposition…”
And well there should be because Wagner’s and other Third Wave writer’s viewpoints about spiritual warfare are fraught with extreme error concerning their unbiblical premises and requirements. We’re never taught to go after the demons in aggressive warfare prayer in the Scriptures yet much of today’s Wagnerian influenced intercessors engage the enemy in ways that the Bible never sanctions. The tenets of Strategic Level Spiritual warfare as proposed by Dr. Wagner have more in common with animism, apocryphal writings, and ancient superstition than biblical truth.
As for apostles, Wagner has little to say concerning any trouble caused by the new teachings on the alleged restoration of this office for the Church, precisely because so many in the Church today are falling for this heretical stuff. Wagner’s circle is definitely growing exponentially and many who find themselves free from the “irrelevance of academics” and, subsequently, discernment, are primed and ready to receive these new harbingers of revelation. Wagner is pleased that there is such widespread acceptance and that’s, of course, his needed validation for his viewpoints no matter what the Bible says or indicates concerning his tenets.
But prophets still cause a fair share of discomfort for today’s Christian leaders:
“This has been the most difficult of all…and the recognition of prophets has stretched the comfort zone of the leaders of the Body of Christ more than any of the others I have mentioned. This is a prophetic conference and I believe that is why God gave me this…”
Despite the fact that the Bible nowhere allows for the proposed re-laying of the Church’s foundation by modern prophets and apostles, Wagner clearly says that these truths and the following teachings are God-given and relevant for the Body of Christ today. This is just to emphasize that these are not merely being presented as helpful teachings or wise guidelines for church growth and Christian living, but Wagner is claiming their origin from God Himself. Frightening to contemplate because Wagner can’t prove his assertions with the Bible.
Wagner uses Luke 11:47-50 to show that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day persecuted the prophets and had them killed as an example of how far the comfort zone of many is stretched when they are asked to accept the prophetic offices God gives His Church. The fact remains here that Wagner cannot in any way use Luke 11 to validate the advent of the prophetic or apostolic office into today’s Church. No one argues that prophets and apostles in Jesus’ day and the years following were persecuted and not received by the Jews, but this passage in no way tells us that these new prophets should be accepted today.
Wagner is setting up his position to explain why some segments of the Church today are reluctant to receive these newcomers as authoritative representatives of God to His Church in these times. The implication is that those who oppose this new group are “Pharisaical” and basically enemies of what God is doing in the world today. Accept these Third Wave prophets/apostles or be in like rebellion as the religious establishment in Christ’s day. We mustn’t forget though that today’s group bears no resemblance to the true bona fide foundational prophets and apostles that were truly sent in Christ’s stead to the early church.
“So Jesus prepared us for what we’re seeing today…”
This is an unverifiable assumption and a completely false application for the Luke passage.
“Now the fact today is that many Church leaders today have not arrived at an understanding of the different roles of prophets under the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, because their mind is so filled with all the Old Testament Old Covenant that they haven’t been able to make the shift into the New Covenant. They haven’t been able to tell the difference between Law and grace. Big problem…”
Wagner is insinuating that there are different criteria for prophets today than there were in the Old Testament. Well, we must say that, whatever one argues in this regard, the point has not been sufficiently made that the office is indeed restored for today and that prophets are anything but foundational and therefore already finished as revelators in the strictest sense of the word.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is God’s standard for prophetic accuracy. Despite what Wagner and others trumpet today, there is no passage that ever slightly even suggests that 100% accuracy is no longer the standard for anyone in any age who would claim to speak forth the actual words of God.
Generically, a person may be “prophetic” in that they proclaim the already revealed Word of God as they preach the Bible with fervency and conviction, but in terms of ongoing revelation, the orthodox position has always been and still maintains that the canon of Scripture is closed, thereby rendering the prophetic office as seen in Scripture non-functional today. Even the argument that the gift of prophecy is still in operation today still requires that the prophet be 100% accurate in order to qualify as a true prophet. Where does it teach anything different? Nowhere in Scripture was the Deut. 18 criteria done away with as the standard for true prophecy.
This is a tricky problem, but to say that these new prophets should be accepted by everyone today as from God, even though they are allowed to be wrong in their predictions and unbiblical in their revelations, doesn’t fit with the standard that God gave us in His Word. It is scary to put Christ’s validation on false prophets and dreamers who promote Third Wave agendas and ideas because so much of it is unscriptural. Jesus would not endorse that.
Wagner quotes Mike Bickle’s book to prove that prophetic accuracy is not the same today as it was required to be in the Old Testament. Bickle writes: “We don’t stone people if they miss it once.” Obviously we don’t do that today because we are not under the Law but that fact doesn’t remove the standard God set up!
It is still not wise, pleasing to God, or obedient to Him to allow false prophets, however good intentioned they might be, to utter statements purported to be from God but erroneous. We are not to physically stone them but we reject them as true prophets because they still violated the principle set forth which is , if you speak on behalf of God, you must be 100%accurate or you are misrepresenting Him and therefore qualifying yourself as a false prophet and not a true one. We don’t stone false prophets today but we confront, rebuke, reject and don’t receive them (see this great article by Sandy Simpson). These are biblical mandates concerning dealing with those who misrepresent God today.
“Prophets are so upsetting because they are in direct communication with God…”
If this is true as applicable to the prophets in the New Apostolic Reformation, then why the above excuses for prophetic mistakes? Direct communication implies a channel between God and the recipient. If error comes through then it misrepresents God and renders the revelator false in their words and hearing from God. If the message is tainted or less than 100% accurate, then it is an indictment towards God also because He was unable to superintend these “foundational prophets” to ensure accurate transmission and delivery of the desired message.
Folks, if we allow for this new group to be only right some of the time or almost accurate, then the implications are enormous and frightening. They allege direct communication so we should expect everything to be biblical. Unfortunately, with this group, this is not the case in many instances. These assertions and claims to these offices are untrustworthy because they have a sorry track record and no adherence to God’s standard of accuracy to back them up and give them credence.
“The fact that prophets are in direct communication with God; this leads some non cessationists who do believe in the ongoing gifts of the Holy Spirit, to impose higher standards of perfection on prophets than they do on pastors, teachers, evangelists, and apostles, forgetting that they are also human…”
God imposed these standards for 100% accuracy on prophets because He cared enough about His people to give us clear criteria to judge the contents of many who claim to speak for God. This standard is not abolished in Scripture nor clarified by Christ or the New Testament writers as having become something else in the New Covenant. Wagner and his newcomers are attempting to introduce new criterion and guidelines so they can be excused from their many inaccuracies and yet still continue to claim prophetic office status.
“The third reason prophets are so upsetting is that prophets are strange. They’re messy. They’re unusual. Hey everybody, prophets are not average people. Among ourselves we often say that getting prophets together is like herding cats…”
Well, these adjectives certainly describe many in the Third Wave who claim prophetic status, and their messages are no less bizarre in many cases. This is a valid point and a good reason that many in leadership today have great reservations about accepting this new group who claim authority from God. We can also see the smug division that is representative of Wagner and this crew when they refer to themselves as a special breed of new Christian with ears to hear far beyond the rest of the Body of Christ.
“The Body of Christ lacks a spiritual protocol that enables prophets to play by the rules. Now most prophets I know want to play by the rules, but they’ve got to know what the rules are in order to play by the rules, you see…so in both of these, locally and translocally, the protocol is not in place…”
So it’s not really the prophet’s fault for being messy or disruptive or disturbing to the leaders in the Church today. It’s the churches fault, locally and translocally, for not giving them details on how they should minister. Apparently the shoddy state of today’s prophetic ministries is also God’s fault because, throughout the Scriptures there’s no real validation for this new group to even be practicing their craft among us.
Any protocol we need with dealing with prophets is in the Scriptures to help us and it says quite a bit about judging with discernment. Wagner and many others in this movement find themselves in positions of constantly having to justify the mess their people are making in churches all over and blaming someone else is evidently the protocol, for the NAR and the Third Wave. Whether it’s the lack of vision on behalf of church leaders to accept the super group throughout church history, the insufficiency of scripture, or the outdated mindset of the leader who would hold a prophet to God’s standard of accuracy, it’s always somebody else who is hindering the “new thing” that God is trying to do. Lord save us from Wagner’s assessments!
“That’s why I gave this title to this teaching: ‘Pastors and Prophets: Protocol for Explosive Ministry’. Folks, we’ve got a lot of explosive ministry going on even without the protocol, but when this kicks in, the sky’s the limit. We are going to go the way God wants us…”
Wagner here implies that we are not going God’s way unless we accept these prophets into our midst, and, even more telling, that the current state of these prophets has yet to go God’s way also. So what are all these less-than-ideally-usable prophets doing in ministry if the proper paths and protocols are lacking? Are they practicing on those who are willing to accept their flawed words and inaccuracies?
Apparently, we are doomed to substandard, displeasing ministry and actually being like the prophet-killers of Jesus’ day unless we accept these God-given rules of protocol (which Wagner has yet to outline) and start working with these new offices that are coming into place for the first time. Tragic observations by Wagner and not enough grounds for believing his solutions (what solutions?).
Enter the implementation program that Dr. Wagner proposes:
“Last Wednesday we had a meeting in this building of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders. Several of the highest visibility prophets of America sat around a table, and we do this at least twice a year and this group of prophets, many of whom are speakers at this conference, recognizes me as their apostle…”
“Second, we have the New Apostolic Roundtable…a group of about 25 apostles…and I’m the apostle. I’m the apostle that brings them together…Next year, 2001; we’re going to bring prophets. We had no prophets this time. Next year we’re going to bring prophets under a strict protocol. ..For our organization, I set the protocol…All these high energy apostles sitting around the table. We talk for awhile and then I say this is what we’re going to do and they all say ‘Yeah”. It seems good to the Holy Spirit and us. That’s the way we work…”
Well, there you have it. Apparently this protocol Wagner speaks of is most subjective. He sets it for his organization and you can set it for yours. Each church must figure out what they feel to be the best way to cooperate with the new offices waiting to come in so we can go God’s direction. Although protocol may be different, one thing is clear, Wagner is suggesting that this new group must be accepted as the prophets and apostles and councils and roundtables that they claim to be. Why should we accept them as such? Merely because they say they are these things.
Wagner then calls everyone who is a pastor or church pastor forward to be prayed for. The reason? If anyone in the audience had had past problems with prophets in their churches. The response was huge. This shows the nature of our concerns because so many at this conference had been “wounded” and damaged by this new breed of prophets who were not in accordance with biblical guidelines. Equally serious is the fact that these tapes from the previous conferences and this one go out from these meetings to roughly 30,000 listeners. This is great cause for concern because, not only were pastors damaged by the shenanigans of these reckless “prophets” but we can infer that multitudes more are being led astray by this unbiblical teaching in their congregations and mailing lists. This is serious damage, folks.
Wagner reads 2 Chronicles 20:20:
“…the last part of it is ‘Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established. Believe in His prophets and you shall prosper’…My hearts desire is that every single one of you prospers in the ministry and the life that God has given you…Who am I speaking on behalf of? I’m speaking on behalf of God. He wants you to prosper and I want you to prosper…God wants your pews to be full. He wants you to prosper…”
It’s obvious that Wagner is referring to this Third Wave crew of prophets and apostles as the prophets listed in 2 Chron. 20:20, despite the fact that the context addresses the Jews. Does God want churches to prosper if they are following after and teaching false doctrine and NAR heresy to those who are attending? Does God want those pews full so the falsehood can be multiplied in so many listeners? Believe the biblical prophets and those in accordance with biblical truth if you really want to be blessed by God and please Him.
Wagner recounts the damage of the previous year’s prophetic conference. Is this an admission of guilt? Is this supposed to make us trust the new prophets this year?
“Word came back from our last year’s School of the Prophets that some people went from this meeting back home to their churches, and the net result of them returning to their churches was to upset their churches, and some people even used stronger words than that. I didn’t want to get any stronger words on the tape but that’s strong enough. People went back to their churches last year and upset their churches and I want you pastors to know I am really sorry. I’m the convener of this conference. I am responsible. And I want you pastors to know I am really sorry that happened last year. Whatever part we had in triggering trouble in your churches…I now see clearly that one of the reasons for that is that we did not properly instruct the people on protocol with their pastors last year…”
This is a preposterous admission by the “apostle” himself that these meetings are dangerous and unfit to continue. If the Word had been preached and true doctrines were taught at these things, there would be no need for an apology like this. Is this truly a Christian ministry? Incidentally, Wagner didn’t instruct the prophets attending this year on this “protocol” that needs to happen between them and their pastors either. Besides, its subjective anyway; “Whatever works for your situation” is the basic rule here. This is shameful and no less dangerous now than it proved to be then.
“I can see the problem. I can picture a church member, going home from here, full of the Holy Spirit, full of cassette tapes, full of books, saying ‘Pastor I need to see you right after the service. When can I see you?’ He makes an appointment: ‘Pastor, I’ve just come back from Colorado Springs where I heard the prophets. If you were a good shepherd, you would be protecting your people from Y2K.’ Because that came up. That is designed to intimidate the pastor…The net result is that that church member was trying to intimidate the pastor…What that church member is trying to do is to require that pastor to move in light that he or she has not received…”
Here’s a specific thorn in the side of the 1999 National School of the Prophets and other prophetic circles: Y2K. Many prophets went crazy with that one and predicted all manner of things that would occur that didn’t. Yet what else could happen from meetings like this one where God’s fundamental teachings about His church are so warped and twisted by the speakers and then imparted to the eager attendees? Of course havoc will be wreaked in churches and pastors will find themselves at the mercy of these people who claim such personal guidance and revelation from God.
The protocol that needs worked on is between these people and God. They must return to His Word as their guide to avoid damaging the church in this way. These prophets should be repenting to the entire Body of Christ for what they are speaking forth and saying and then step down from their so-called ministries.
One other thing to note is that the blame is subtly shifted in his above statements. Although Wagner apologizes on behalf of the well-meaning sowers of discord, he is actually blaming them for being the manipulative ones when his prophets are making the declarations in the first place. These prophets claim to be recipients of God’s light but then it becomes a subjective matter when applied to a local pastor. He or SHE (endorsing women pastors is another problem with Wagner and this group) needs yet more personal “light” in order to see the “light” that the prophets are dispensing. This whole construct is ripe with disaster potential and our worst fears are coming true.
Listen to how Wagner fudges on the Y2K issue:
“Take the Y2K issue, looking at it objectively. Looking back, the Y2K issue, what was given at the National School of the Prophets could legitimately be called right or wrong. There’s no clear distinction that it was totally wrong or it was totally right…”
Is this prophetic insight or “light” from the Lord? Is He the author of such obscurity?
“There was a brief public statement in that that Y2K should be taken seriously…Is that right or wrong? Well, that depends on your perspective…”
Wagner then reads two perspectives of Y2K’s assessment. Wagner passes off these prophecies as conditional. That God said these warnings of Y2K would be averted through intercession and changed behavior. All I am saying is that these meetings foster a blatant disregard for prophetic accuracy and then, as we see, apologies are in order from this group because they don’t abide by God’s standard.
“Now bringing up what we in the National School of the Prophets provoked last year to a certain extent and churches upset about this and Y2K was one of the issues. I want to talk to you pastors directly…I’m speaking on behalf of the Council of Prophetic Elders…this is the prophets speaking to you: ‘Pastors, we are grieved that some would return from last years National School of the Prophets and violate your pastoral authority. We affirm your authority and that pains us as it does you…”
I had made a statement in 2001 in a sermon to my then home church in Hawaii, that these new prophets wanted to “undermine pastoral authority in the churches” or something of that effect. Now I was blasted for saying that and I should have rephrased my statement but, in light of studying these cassettes and hearing this apology I am convinced that there is definitely a spirit at work here who wants to do just that. Wagner and associates are aligning themselves to be recipients of this deception and therefore becoming tools of the evil one to introduce these false concepts and faulty “light” to the Body of Christ. Whether or not they deliberately want to usurp pastoral authority or not is irrelevant because that is exactly what is happening.
This apology proves it and verifies and validates the concerns that I and so many others have had in dealing with the advent of these new teachers. While Wagner appears sincere in his apology here, it does little good because he continues to perpetuate these doctrines that do undermine the pastor-teacher position and really leave little room for interpreting their words as coming from anywhere other than God.
“We’re grieved that some of us too readily use the phrase ‘Thus saith the Lord’ when we know that there are milder ways to communicate what we’re hearing from God…”
This is the pinnacle of obscurity because either what they are hearing IS from God or it isn’t. These men aren’t couching their proclamations in terms of having insight into biblical passages using discernment, but are loudly proclaiming that God is directly speaking to them. As Wagner said earlier, prophets have a “direct line of communication” with God.
“We are grieved for our lack of discernment, when we have broadcast revelation that we should have kept to ourselves and moved outside of God’s timing…”
God’s timing for the coming of the false prophets and apostles is the last days and Wagner and friends are right on schedule. I too lament the lack of discernment that they have and the lack of discernment of any in the Church who would receive them as credible after these admissions. The sad part is these are no less noteworthy and substantive repentances than any of Benny Hinn’s past repentings. The error just seems to get worse each time out and with each subsequent conference.
My prediction is that we will hear less and less apologies from this group in forthcoming meetings and more and more falsehood. Hey, wait a minute that was true prophecy because that’s exactly what has happened in the past few years. I am joking to prove a non-funny point.
“We love you pastors and we are here to link arms with you for the advancement of the Kingdom of God…”
Do we give those we truly love false teachings like prophetic inaccuracy allowances and heresies like the church’s foundation is being laid in this day and age for the first time? The answer is no. it’s hard to take Wagner’s apology serious.
We trust you have been informed by this edition of The Unsound Bytes series #1: C. Peter Wagner.