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Michael Brown

Michael Brown Defends Mike Bickle’s Legacy, the New Apostolic Reformation

Whereas some men are apologists for Creation, others the historicity of the bible, Michael Brown is the most prolific apologist for hypercharismatic Christianity. Because of certain culture war issues, Brown gained clout with many Christians and conservatives, much as teachers like Eric Metaxas, Sean Feucht, or Mark Driscoll, where people appreciate their stances on cultural issues without understanding their underlying theological backgrounds—for better or worse. Despite a library of evidence going back years, many who are casual observers do not reconcile Brown as a Nar-pologist. Defending the New Apostolic Reformation is defending increasing depths of depravity and leads to inevitably more convoluted apologetics, which Brown has demonstrated.

Sermon At IHOP

In the recent fallout of Mike Bickle at the International House of Prayer, Kansas City (IHOPKC), Michael Brown would preach at IHOPKC, where he advocated for the church to permit the investigative process to bear itself out and to fixate on Jesus and not on teachers. He instructed listeners not to post about the situation on social media and the need for a third-party investigation. There is charismatic cringe featured in this sermon, including mention of the laying of hands, “prophetic” gifts, and the passing of God’s power through praying over one another at a revival. The sermon delves into spiritual war, with Brown speaking about IHOP’s prayer for Israel preceding the Hamas attacks. Brown concludes his sermon by calling for introspection.

Surprisingly, there was a packed audience amidst the scandal. Since November 5, 2023, this sermon has exceeded 60K views. One month later, Brown would follow up with a reemphasis on the actions IHOPKC has undertaken and stressed the need for an independent third-party investigation and avenues for claims to come forth. He cites possible legality questions making necessary the need for a third party.

Brown’s call for third-party involvement is errant as investigators are often tasked with absolving the organization of any wrongdoing. In this case, IHOPKC has struggled to launch an investigation with witness cooperation. Per the Kansas City Star, IHOPKC retained Brad Tebbutt, a man who had confessed to inappropriately touching a 14-year-old girl for 2.5 years. They knowingly hired a man who molested a teenager after he had confessed it during the hiring process. Tebbutt is still on their staff, which regardless of Bickle’s guilt, reflects poor leadership that ordains unqualified pastors.

Michael Brown has gone to the mattresses for IHOPKC and, in his sermon, expressed confidence in their leadership’s oversight of the situation, otherwise, he would not have preached there.

Defending NAR from the Critics

Recently, Michael Brown penned an op-ed at Christian Post entitled, “An honest question for the critics of ‘NAR’ (the New Apostolic Reformation).” Brown opens by contending that he is not attempting to gaslight, but to “help readers understand why I continue to say that the “NAR” of the critics does not exist.” In other words, the critics of NAR are dishonest, which is rhetoric Brown has expressed in years past. The premise is much like the left on CRT, where either the problem does not exist, or the opponents are ignorant of its true meaning.

I freely acknowledge that I have been a member and leader in the US Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (USCAL), but only after the name was changed from Apostles to Apostolic Leaders, which was subsequent to Dr. Wagner’s involvement.

I freely acknowledge that I believe in the ongoing ministry of apostles and prophets in the church, holding to the view that there have been apostles and prophets operating in the Church throughout history, even if not called by those names.

I freely acknowledge that I am friends with men like Lou Engle, Randy Clark, and Sid Roth.

I freely acknowledge that I am an unashamed Pentecostal-Charismatic, that I have spoken in tongues since January 24, 1972, and that I will gladly debate any qualified leader or scholar on the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit.

His resume includes several prominent heretics from the hypercharismatic sects. Lou Engle is a NAR-postle and false prophet who has claimed the mantle of Beni Johnson from a dream. Randy Clark is of Bethel and sells “healing and impartation” teachings for money. Sid Roth is the of host It’s Supernatural which has featured a false prophet claiming visions from the archangel Michael wherein he was addressed as a general by Christ. And Michael Brown asserts that he has spoken in tongues since 1972, which is self-edifying, spiritual gibberish that pagan religions like Mormons have also claimed.

Why, then, do I say that the “NAR” of the critics is a fiction?

I’ll do my best to explain.

On December 12, I’m scheduled to interview historian Matthew D. Taylor on my Line of Fire broadcast.

Dr. Taylor is one of the hosts of the podcast called “Charismatic Revival Fury: The New Apostolic Reformation,” as well as the author of a forthcoming book The Violent Take It by Force: The Christian Movement that Is Threatening Our Democracy. He believes that there is a direct connection between the events of January 6 and the New Apostolic Reformation founded by Dr. Wagner.

That’s what we’ll be focusing on in our interview, and while we definitely have some profound differences, we do share a number of common (and serious) concerns.

January 6 has no relevance to the NAR movement, which was criticized long before the FBI provoked an event at the Capitol. Matthew D. Taylor is a writer for The Bulwark, a neoconservative outlet, and has been a critic of Mike Johnson, even stating that the Speaker is both NAR and a Christian Nationalist. Rather than invite a genuine critic of NAR to his program, Brown is summoning a man who has a false understanding of Christianity to dispel misconceptions.

Interestingly, in light of his investigative research, which included direct access to Dr. Wagner’s archives (including personal emails and much more), Dr. Taylor has come to recognize that I myself am not part of NAR. He also recognizes that men like Randy Clark are not part of NAR. And, like me, he takes issue with the scholarly methodology of some of the principal critics of the wider “NAR,” while acknowledging some nuggets of truth in their work, as I also do.

In Dr. Taylor’s own words, if you search online for NAR, “You’ll find websites with literally thousands of names indexed of different Christian leaders who are supposedly part of ‘the NAR.’ … You will find writing about the New Apostolic Reformation that sounds like stuff out of a bad conspiracy novel – where NAR leaders are spookily manipulating political leaders like some sort of Charismatic Illuminati.”

He adds, “You will also find people, reputable people, journalists, scholars, people who’ve done their research, pushing back and say, ‘Yes, there is such a thing as the NAR’ and they can marshal a lot of evidence, much of it coming from Peter Wagner’s writing and associations.”

A comparable stance to Taylor would be to claim that the Protestant Reformation was only what Martin Luther taught and wrote and that the other Reformers like Calvin and Zwingli were not the Protestant Reformation. Like any sect in Christianity, the Protestant Reformation is characterized by certain distinctives, which in this case would encompass the Five Solas, simplistically speaking. Just as the Reformation had its distinctives, and Anabaptists theirs, the New Apostolic Reformation has its own distinctions and is not bound by the exact definitions of Wagner.

NAR stands for New Apostolic Reformation, which denotes a movement greater than Peter Wagner’s coinage of the term but is the embodiment of collective thoughts regarding the hyper-charismatics who have taken up the title of Apostle or Prophet. Just as Pentecostalism initially asserted a resurgence of the “signs,” through the speaking of tongues and other wonders that occurred at Pentecost, NAR is the logical extension of this resurgence to the restoration of the Apostolic Office itself. Self-proclaimed apostles exalt themselves by claiming a lofty title, in contrast to Christ who taught, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Not all charismatics claim the gifts ceased or died out; nevertheless, the late 1800’s experienced hysteria surrounding the Second Coming whereby the revival of these “gifts,” like tongues, was a sign with eschatological significance. The restoration of the apostolic and prophetic offices followed this period. For a century, the claims of apostles and prophets have persisted.

It is the former “NAR” whose existence I deny, the NAR that has become the charismatic boogeyman lurking behind every controversial tree, the global network allegedly numbering hundreds of millions of Christians, poised to take over the world. It is the “NAR” that is described so differently by different critics that many of the descriptions are mutually contradictory.

NAR is not a boogeyman so much as an industry, one that is pervasive in other evangelical sects, most notably through Bethel’s music and televangelism. Their shadowy agenda is predominantly motivated by greed and fame-seeking, which is why there is a crescendo of ridiculous tales being spouted. It is about selling spiritual euphoria, music, literature, and other services, not a robust theological tradition.

Michael Brown vs. Pirate Christian, Berean Research

Michael Brown continues this article by refuting “The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church.” This article was linked to Chris Rosebrough’s Pirate Christian but was written by Amy Spreeman, of Berean Research, who has been a subject matter expert on NAR featured by Answers in Genesis. This article is an introductory overview of the concept and had widespread reach when it was originally published in 2017.

To cite one example out of many, one critical website claims to offer “The Six Hallmarks of a NAR Church.”

These are: 1. APOSTLES: “We’re in a ‘Second Apostolic Age.’ There are new Apostles are on the earth today, anointed by the laying of hands to represent and speak for God here on Earth. These ‘Super Apostles’ are equal to the original Apostles — the ones who witnessed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and were appointed by Christ Himself to the office. Since these new apostles are commissioned by God, their authority may not be questioned.”

Personally, I don’t know a single apostolic leader who claims to be equal to the original Apostles, and I don’t know any who claim their authority cannot be questioned. In all circles I work with, such attitudes would be flatly rebuked. Yet we’re told this is the very first hallmark of a “NAR” Church. Some “apostles” might claim this kind of authority, but that would exclude all the leaders I partner with.

The use of the title itself is more significant than whether one equates themselves to the original Apostles. Catholics would not claim the Pope is equal to Peter, but merely a successor to his Holy See, so too is the title Apostle used in NAR. Nevertheless, the title of Apostle comes with an inherent claim of authority. Moreover, they often speak with language conveying direct revelation from God, including phrases such as “God told me.”

Perhaps Spreeman is somewhat imprecise in her terminology, but the NAR characters Brown has defended over the years, including the aforementioned Sid Roth interviewed a self-proclaimed general alongside the Archangel Michael, which perhaps places him above the Apostles.

2. KINGDOM: “Rather than preach the Gospel of the cross, Apostolic leaders are working to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. They do this by taking dominion of earthly kingdoms or ‘mountains’ of government, media, entertainment, education, business, family, and religion. Leaders often talk of city building and organize prayer walks to pray against demonic strongholds. They often speak of being mission-focused rather than being Christ-centered.”

This too is a gross exaggeration, although some of it is true in terms of dominion theology, a theology I strongly reject. What is false here is the notion that “NAR” leaders are not Christ-centered and do not preach the Gospel of the cross. It’s also false to group under “NAR” those churches that believe in prayer walks, that speak of being mission focused (which does not mean they are not Christ-centered), and that believe in praying against demonic strongholds. That takes in a wide variety of quite unrelated churches and movements.

I think you can already see how these descriptions are, on the one hand, way too vague, and on the other hand, highly exaggerated. How does this help someone genuinely seeking to understand the meaning of “NAR”?

Spreeman states that the Seven Mountain mandate is a distinctive of NAR, and her article is a basic overview, not an in-depth analysis of NAR theology so her exact claims are not qualified, but she has extracurricular sources cited at the end of the article. This is certainly maintained by many NAR adherents including and especially Bethel. This Dominion Theology stems from Charles Finney’s brand of postmillennialism when mixed with the late 1800s Revivalism, which is why Feucht infamously grave-soaked Finney’s tombstone. The Seven Mountains applies divine numerology to a secular sociological construct. Rather than apply a potentially useful sociological construct to practical ministry, the Seven Mountain Mandate equates the conquest of the seven mountains to the return of Christ, which makes the mandate missions-focused rather than Christ-centered. More importantly, it has seeped into other evangelical circles, like the SBC. For Brown to deny this or claim it is an exaggeration is just dishonest.

While the cringe-level dispensationalists, like Brown, might reject their eschatology, this eschatology is undeniably distinctive to NAR when compared to the premillennialism that was historically found within Pentecostals. This might preclude Brown from being labeled NAR, but their Dominion Theology is a unique characteristic of this movement.

3. DESTINY. PRESENCE. GLORY. “Though members are not always charismatic, they frequently emphasize a manifestation of ‘Glory’ and ‘God’s presence,’ and often have a special anointing to receive direct revelation from God, perform healings and other signs and wonders. They teach that our purpose is to achieve our dream destiny so that we can change the world.”

Did you get that? If you emphasize God’s presence in your corporate services or your private prayer life, you’re probably NAR. If you believe the Spirit is still speaking and healing, you’re probably NAR. If you believe that God wants to use you, as a follower of Jesus, to be a world changer, you’re probably NAR.

Once again, you can see how utterly unhelpful and confusing such definitions are, especially when you remember that day and night, we hear about the dangers of “NAR.”

Brown is intentionally obtuse to what is meant by “God’s presence.” NAR theology teaches that Man can manifest the presence of God through worship. Bethel infamously used pixie dust to fake a miracle of God’s presence that is reminiscent of God’s inauguration of both the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. This is why NAR music sings “Come flood this place and fill this atmosphere…to be overcome by your presence.” Words that might appear innocuous in orthodox churches have different connotations in NAR theology, including atmosphere and presence.

The ubiquity of other false miracles, fake exorcisms, unproven resuscitations of the dead, and false prophecies are distinctive to charismatic circles, which include NAR. Bethel has an entire school devoted to these works and there is no shortage of fraud in this movement that even Mike Winger acknowledges. NAR goes beyond the continuation of gifts and the heralding of false prophets with language denoting the ability to draw the presence of God.

4. REVIVAL. “Revival on a massive scale is key in this movement. There is a strong emphasis on an ‘end times harvest’ through a great awakening that we can usher in. Often these revivals are held in stadiums and reach millions around the world via live stream technology; they are marketed and produced like rock concerts. All scripture verses about an end times falling away are ignored, and get replaced with hyped-up claims about the Next Big Thing that’s always just around the corner.”

Again, aside from gross exaggerations, such as, “All scripture verses about an end time falling away are ignored,” this description indicts countless thousands of churches worldwide that have been praying for revival and believing for a great end-time harvest for decades (even while recognizing that there will be falling away as well). This also indicts the hundreds of millions of believers who have prayed and believed for revival and a great end-time harvest throughout church history. This also indicts much of the world missions movement, along with many postmillennialists who are even anti-charismatic.

Uniquely NAR? Hardly.

Revivalism is a broader distinctive in Pentecostal circles, as it derives from the Second Great Awakening. However, not all revivals are equal in quality. Brown, himself, participated in the Brownsville Revival, which featured people “slain in the spirit,” which is an occultic practice, while also being planned so therefore was counterfeit. Brown is omitting his past wherein he uttered false prophecies at so-called revivals. The Latter Rains Movement, which directly influenced Brownsville, is the generational precursor to NAR. NAR continues the ideas of the Latter Rains Movement with its emphasis on fraudulent miracles and extra-biblical revelation. Apart from the eschatological bent, Brown is an adherent to the Latter Rains theology that the Assemblies of God condemned in 1949.

5. UNITY. “Unity (at the expense of biblical doctrine) is almost always used as both the how and the why in this movement. Unity for the sake of bringing Heaven to Earth is leading to the blurring of doctrinal and denominational lines, often bringing together well-known leaders of charismatic, reformed, Word of Faith, seeker-emergent, progressive and Roman Catholics churches, all under one umbrella.”

Again, I don’t work with anyone who believes in unity at the expense of essential doctrines. But hopefully we all believe in unity around Jesus despite secondary doctrinal issues. As for this being a description of “NAR,” notice now that this becomes the umbrella for “well-known leaders of charismatic, reformed, Word of Faith, seeker-emergent, progressive and Roman Catholics churches.” It looks like everything is NAR!

It should not be surprising that NAR churches like Bethel featured prosperity grifters like Kenneth Copeland, which would reflect a compromise in doctrine. Moreover, Hillsong’s financial scandals included lucrative speaker fees to notorious false teachers who do not necessarily share in their theology. The emphasis on unity, even with Rome, is a distinct ecumenicalism that is increasingly common in hyper-charismatic circles. Cross-pollination is good for business, and Catholics are increasingly given over to mysticism, as seen in apps like Hallow. In the Third Adam, Spencer Smith equates this NAR ecumenicalism to the unity of the False Church depicted in Revelation. From a pretribulation rapture perspective, it is logical that the false churches band together regardless of one’s eschatology.

6. NAR DENIES THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE. “NAR adherents may believe in the inerrancy and authority of the Bible, but God’s breathed-out Word is just not enough for them. Jesus’ sacrificial death for our sins is not good enough; the promise of eternal life in Heaven is not good enough.”

Having served the Lord now for the last 52 years, having worked with hundreds of thousands of leaders and believers worldwide, having ministered outside the United States on roughly 200 trips along with preaching throughout America, having taught at dozens of ministry schools and seminaries, to my knowledge, not a single person I have worked with would affirm this statement. Yet, we’re told, this is a hallmark of a NAR Church.

The truth be told, I don’t personally know a single church that would affirm all six of these alleged “hallmarks.” Of what use are they?

By proclaiming prophecies for the modern age and speaking sermons wherein the pastor claims direct revelation, they are denying the sufficiency of Scripture in favor of these novel oracles. If Scripture is sufficient, why the need for emphasis on “gifts,” dreams, prophecies, and other wonders? The emphasis on healing ministries elevates the healer at the expense of the Creator and Holy Scripture.

There are other distinctives to NAR, which would include errant Christology, mysticism or occultic practices, and the weaponization of worship. Weaponization of worship means the language of their worship music in its belief that worship can manifest the power of God. Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer was based on the premise that continuous 24-7 worship possesses eschatological significance, something he claims he received via an audible revelation.

Why do I deny the existence of “NAR” (let alone by being an alleged leader in “NAR”) when I so freely affirm apostolic ministry today, when I recognize the existence of Dr. Wagner’s NAR, and when I am an unashamed Pentecostal-Charismatic?

It is because the “NAR” of the critics is a fiction, and a dangerous one at that. For that reason, my appeal remains the same.

Ditch the unhelpful terminology, give up the exaggerated, fear-mongering, click-bait posts, and focus on actual abuses and problems. Then we can get some constructive work done for the glory of God and the good of His people.

According to Michael Brown, NAR does not exist, and it is not a bad thing! What Brown is doing is clear gaslighting that is fundamentally no different than what the left does on Critical Race Theory and other woke ideas that infiltrate the church.

The New Apostolic Reformation is the logical conclusion to the errancies of the Pentecostal Charismatic movement, albeit with Dominion Theology. There is no depth of depravity they will not descend in pursuit of self-aggrandizement. There is no limit to the outlandish claims they will ascribe to prophecy. Because Michael Brown is himself a proud Pentecostal-Charismatic, he cannot see the log in his own eye and resorts to deception to defend this errant and dangerous theology.

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